Wednesday, July 18, 2012

YOLO! (sort of)

I can't believe that more than half of the year is over already.  Summer is half over as well, and like usual, I worry that I'm not taking enough advantage of it.  It's hot and disgusting, but I'm dreading shorter days, cold winds, and above all, snow.

I've had a very decent first half of the financial year.  My calendar year 2012 savings and investment goal is $65,000, and I'm $900 short of being halfway there.  (I'm not counting the $6000 gift repayment windfall towards meeting this goal, but I invested the whole thing as soon as I cashed the check.)  Thanks to cashing in accumulated cash-back credit card rewards, I'll be able to close the $900 gap by $500 this month.  My FICA taxes are paid up for the year by mid-October, so barring losing my job or something big and expensive happening between now and the end of the year, I'm on track to hit $65,000 by the end of December, with one caveat:  I have to maintain focus and not start slacking off!

In case it's hard to tell, I'm on fire with savings and investing again.  One new variable this year that's making me work a little harder at it is the fact that since my mom gave up her independent living townhouse in January, I now have to pay rent on a place in my hometown.  I lucked into a really outstanding arrangement that's only costing me  two hundred dollars per month, but between that and higher gas prices coupled with frequent travel to see her, it's a lot more money out the door for family stuff than I was spending a couple of years ago.  I don't mind at all, but it means I have to be more creative and stretch a little harder to hit an aggressive savings target.

Another cost center is my better half.  We've taken a couple of short trips this year, and we have a long weekend away coming up.  We also go out for dinner at least a couple of times per week, although we have started cooking together from time to time on the weekends.  (I can't get him to eat in when it's like a furnace outside, though!)

Being black-belt frugal with a husband who decidedly was not of the same mindset didn't kill my marriage, but it certainly hurt it.  One year into this relationship, my significant other and I are serious.  We're not talking marriage, but I think we're in it for at least a reasonably long haul, and in fact more and more I'm starting to believe that I've found the love of my life.  On that basis, I've decided that spending a little more money than I would do if left to my own devices is an investment in the relationship, and that investment is well worth it to me.  I also keep reminding myself that it's not all about living for tomorrow.  My parents gave me a GREAT start by paying for my undergraduate education, but I sacrificed a heck of a lot in my 20's and 30's to put myself on a solid financial footing.  Now that I'm hitting midlife, I want better balance.   To that end, as long as I'm debt-free, employed, and planning well for the future I want, having fun today counts for a lot.

Another reason for wanting more balance in my life is that I see my mom's life gradually drawing to a close.  She's doing significantly better than she was a few months ago, but the aggregate changes in her health over the last twelve months have been immense and very much for the worse.  My gut feeling is that while she is stable now, that can and very probably will change in an instant sometime down the road.  I don't think she has a whole lot of time left, so I am not going to put off any opportunity to give her enjoyment today.  (YOLO, Mom, YOLO!!!)

I realize that everything I just wrote about where my spending has increased sounds like it doesn't map one iota to saying I'm doing well on aggressive savings, but it correlates better than it appears.  Prioritizing my spending the way I have has actually helped me keep on track with my savings goal because spending mindfully on the things that are important to me (my mom, my relationship and our travel, plus the occasional manicure!) makes it a whole lot easier not to blow money on things that don't matter.

How did you do on your financial game plan over the first half of the year?

5 retorts:

Anonymous,  July 19, 2012 at 11:25 AM  

Wow--I was just recommending your blog to someone (I told them that you rarely posted but that they should read through your archives)earlier today! And I thought I'd check for the hell of it...and here was this post! So glad to hear things are going well. Definitely hate to hear that your mom has been through so much, but it's good that she's stable for now. Things are OK on my end. I got engaged in December and we're trying to decide where we want to be (Midwest, California...) and how the future will look. I spend most of my free time looking for a new job, even though I know I should be grateful that I am gainfully employed, no matter how much the job/boss sucks. Anyway...great to hear from you!

frugal zeitgeist July 19, 2012 at 8:38 PM  

Wow, congratulations to you, Bonnie! I'm so happy for you. I hear you on being grateful to be employed even if it sucks. That it does, and then some. It's hard to leave now for a variety of reasons, though, particularly given the unique situation spending time with my mom presents.

Thank you for recommending my blog to your friend. For the first time in a very long time, interesting topics have been coming to mind. Can't promise I'll actually sit down and write about them, but never say never. All the very best to you and your fiance, and best wishes for a full and happy life together.

goldsmith_ie,  July 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM  

Good to hear from you again! Things here are going ok, all things considered. I re-calibrated my financial goals a bit. After a bit of turmoil, my job is likely to be safe for a long, long time - labor law adjudication is one of these things that never go out of demand as long as there are workplaces where people run into conflict. It's a bit like undertakers, really... After a crappy 2011, healthwise, I have decided to live a bit more, so I am now maintaining a modest mortgage overpayment, modest cash savings, and my retirement savings. In the light of my public-sector job security, I have also decided that a 10,000 Euro emergency fund is enough. The rest I am spending, not on consumer gizmos, but on personal development that brings me joy. I am also looking forward to travelling to the US in October, for a family reunion in VT. So that's it from me. Good to have you back, FZ!

Anonymous,  July 24, 2012 at 9:01 AM  

Thanks so much for the kind words, FZ. Hope to see you here more often!


Charlotte@TheCCI August 21, 2012 at 9:20 PM  

A friend recommended your blog to me today. As it happens, I just returned home from celebrating my mom's 72nd birthday this evening. It just blows my mind that she is right around the corner from her eighties!!! I completely agree with you, relationships are so much more than our financial plans. My goal this year was to pay off credit card debt so that I could start saving for retirement (better late than never). Thankfully, I am debt free except for a small mortgage as of now. This allows me to put that money in savings and I am so excited about what I have accomplished! A Dave Ramsey book that I borrowed from the library got me started with a solid plan and it is really working! Thanks - love your site!

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