So I started Your Money or Your Life last night.
First of all, it’s definitely dated (it’s a 2008 updated version of a 1990s book although I just realized there’s a 2018 one out there! Maybe I should switch). Though I find the dated aspect sort of fun and quaint, like “hey! this was before smartphones took over!”. And there is definitely a radical “off the grid” quality to it. I can see why it sparked a movement.
I don’t think Josh and I will learn to live off the land and then peace out of our jobs in 5 years (nor am I sure, yet, if that’s exactly what the authors are suggesting). But I think the book may contain some food for thought.
I thought perhaps I would, pre-book, look at my thoughts/goals around finances, as they stand now.
TRACKING. I do love tracking every single #$*@ penny that we spend. We did take a little break (from ~Oct – Dec 2019 after tracking since 2015 or so) but are back with a vengeance. The new YNAB seems to be my preferred tool.
SAVINGS. I would like to aim for a 20% savings goal (20% of gross) so that we can reach FI before we are too old (though not planning on FIRE). A 15-20 year time frame seems reasonable.
I am counting employer matches as savings, and so technically we only need to save 16% on our own. Some of that savings is pre-tax (hopefully up to max this year) and some will be post, but the # I am aiming for is 20% of gross. Which, when I actually calculate out the monthly outlay, is rather intimidating. But I believe it should be doable. I am toying with the idea that perhaps 2-3% of that 20% could go into 529 plans. But it would be cheating my original goal to some extent.
Where is the savings going? 403(b), 457(b), backdoor Roths (doing that for the first time this year!), and then I guess some into a taxable IRA that we haven’t contributed to in years.
STRATEGIES. Areas where I think we could (should) spend less are:
- home-related costs, now that we rent (the cost of renting = 7% of our gross income. Not bad.) This is going to be MUCH improved now that we have no house to insure, maintain, pay mortgage on, and pay property tax on. woohoo!
- eating out. I will admit we often go above the $700-800/month mark. I’d like to move towards $600 as a start. I am not willing to give up nice/fancy restaurants entirely, but we are trying to shift towards one per month as the maximum (the rest cheaper family excursions & cooking at home)
- life insurance! We have universal life insurance (because there’s a long-term care rider in there) in addition to term policies and I want to dump it because everything I read says it’s a colossal waste of money. I want to beef up our term plans and ditch the universal.
- kids’ activities. Currently the big kids go to an after school program 3 days/week because I thought it would be easier for them to get to activities that way. Since G won’t be napping in a year or so, I’m going to probably get rid of this. They can still go to activities but it will be cheaper to just have our nanny take them. Plus, our community offers some pretty intense (and low cost) sports if we want to make that time commitment again.
I do NOT want to spend any less on:
- childcare. We need a lot of that right now. It is what it is.
- vacations! As the kids get older, I am more excited about building memories together on fun trips. I see our vacation fund expanding with time, not shrinking.
- fun money. Josh and I each get an allowance to blow on whatever we want each month. I don’t see shrinking this. (We did make one recent change, which was to include lunches out on our own in this fund. I will admit I have eaten out a LOT less since that change! Go figure.)
So there you go.
Not very long go, I had literally no idea what a Roth was. I have learned a lot over the past year of reading FI blogs and listening to podcasts! I guess it’s not a bad interest/hobby to have.
PODCAST ALERT: Laura’s birth story is here! Timely, as it’s my sister’s due date today too 🙂 Babies everywhere!!!