Archive for July, 2007

Budgeting Fun

July 12th, 2007  |  Published in Finances, Frugal Living

Welcome to Above Yourself, a blog about self-improvement and faith. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe in a reader or subscribe by email. Many of the topics here are related to my faith in Jesus Christ and Mormonism, but all are welcome to share their own beliefs. Thanks for visiting!

Part of our family budget that really “sells” it in our minds is our personal fun money. When my wife and I were about to get married, her bishop gave us some advice that we always keep a budget, and to set aside part of that monthly money for our own personal money that we wouldn’t have to account to our spouse for. We decided to call it our “fun money” because we’re supposed to use it for things that are fun rather than on day-to-day things. For some reason my wife likes to use this money to save up for “fun furniture”, and I’ve finally learned to accept that because that’s fun for her. In the meantime, I spend most of mine on video games and computer stuff, and it really helps me to budget my fun expenses. Without it, our family budget seems more like a chore, but when we make a game out of saving for our fun items, it becomes much more enjoyable.

Better late than never

July 10th, 2007  |  Published in Finances, Frugal Living

Our family recently experienced a setback in our take-home pay. Although this may sound like a big concern, we’re actually pretty excited because it means we’re investing in our long term future.

My employer has promised to match our contributions to our 401(k), but even after working here a year I never got around to doing it. I always figured that since I’m still in school that it didn’t make any sense to put money into a retirement account. I read over personal finance articles that prompted me to take advantage of this free money, and I even heard the same thing from my parents and in-laws. Why didn’t we do it earlier? Laziness, pride, fear: take your pick. I guess I figured I really needed this money now, but when I look at our family budget, it would be easy to make a few sacrifices here and there in order for us to invest in a retirement account. I told the greedy part of me that this meant I would be doubling that money since it was matched by my employer. When I finally made the change it took less than ten minutes to do, but I can never get back the free money I could have had by doing it earlier.

What little things can you sacrifice to make big changes in your future? Do you have a family budget? That’s a sacrifice of just a few 15-minute periods a week to keep it updated after you create it. Do you have any food storage for emergencies? Buying an extra can or two of your most-used food items each time you’re at the store can help you start your food storage by spreading out the cost.

Baby Steps

July 9th, 2007  |  Published in Goals, Mormonism

Reaching our goals in life often takes baby steps. Goals should be worked on as part of a series of events, and they shouldn’t be dependent on just one major event happening.

Think of it this way: If your goal is to retire with a million dollars, there are two types of ways you can do it. One way to get a million dollars all at once at the last minute, by winning the lottery or having a really great idea come to you out of nowhere. Winning the lottery is something like trying to hit a home run in baseball with every swing. This strategy might win one or two games through the whole season with a lot of fanfare, but Major league coaches know that consistent winning comes through stringing together a few hits and good strategy rather than trying to have every player hit a home run every time up. This is the equivalent of saving up smaller amounts all throughout life in order to reach the million dollars. It suggests that we should leverage the power of interest and savings in our investment plans.

As Seth Godin has said, “the home runs you almost hit don’t count“. Each time we swing for the fence, we don’t have anything to build on when we miss.

Success in spirituality is achieved through the same means that it is achieved in our daily life, through regular and consistent achievement of smaller goals. No one act can get us into heaven. Achieving our goals through baby steps lets us build on our previous successes, and we can start to achieve forward momentum in a world that is constantly pushing back on us.