Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Money, Money, Money....MO-ney

I think about money a lot. Too much. My life is a constant scramble to bring in and push out the almighty dollar. Everything seems to always hinge on it--who owes me and who I owe. It comes in and goes out. Sometimes some sticks around, but it is almost always already spoken for.

I always try to pay everyone I owe promptly. Now, there may be some of my contractors who would argue with that, but by pay promptly, I mean way better than the average guy. I wish clients understood that when they pay late, I pay late and then the people I owe (great women I work with who also have families) pay late.

So, here are our priorities.

1) Taxes. Always taxes. When the hurricane was coming to Texas, Andy kept mumbling "stupid Texas." "No, Andy," we all kept saying, "stupid taxes." He got that straight from me. For months, usually February through May, I mumble those words every time I want something fun and don't have the money to buy/do it. I hate them. I understand why I need to pay them--but why so much? What is the incentive to make more? I am guessing you can figure out whose tax plan I am for in the election. Let's just say Obama will cost us even more.

This isn't a political debate (well, okay maybe it is just a little bit of a political debate), but I will say if I have to pay even more in taxes, there goes our charitable contributions and any chance of making it to Disney in the next ten years. Really, when I think about what I paid in taxes last year, it is depressing and I love to hear people moan about having to pay $3,000 at tax time. Oh, that's just awful. Whatever. We are doing better tax planning this year so we don't get hit so hard all at once, but pay it now or pay it later--we still have to pay way too much.

2) Mortgage. Mortgage always comes first. We both take the mortgage very seriously and it always remains a very high priority. My unpopular opinion is too many people today think a mortgage payment is optional and a flat screen is a better choice to spend their money on. Wrong people, you have it wrong. The mortgage company will take your house, but Citibank probably won't walk in your house and take your flat screen.

3) Education. And, that's education as like in the immediate. Yeah, we have college savings plans, but when we are paying for a private education for three kids, there isn't much left over to sock away for college, at least not at this point. I am the first to say that school is worth every penny, we love it and so do they. But, it's at the expense of many, many other things in life (and, quite frankly, I am sort of fond of material things), like a BMW...or college savings.

4) Eliminating debt we are tired of carrying around. Hello, I graduated from college in 2000. I haven't even put a dent (until now) in my student loans. Jeff's are the same and they are all rolled in to one big (small compared to many other people, I know) loan that has just sat there for years. We are ready to wipe it out and are pressing hard to do so.

5) Groceries, cable, XM radio and tennis. A family of five who buys good quality food and tries to eat everything humanly possible that is organic, fresh and farm-raised, our grocery bill is enormous. (see previous entry re: food issues, I have them). Cable, you know what a TV junkie I am. Really, I don't need all the channels, just like ten of them--and no movie channels. XM, I love it. That's all. I just love it. Tennis is a constant, so it's rolled in to the budget.

5) Everything else. Utilities, car payments, spending cash, home repair, cleaning lady, home repair, lessons and classes for the kids, clothing, etc. New windows this summer have helped with the utilities for sure. Home repair, more just around the corner. Seriously, after this--there won't be a room in the house we haven't touched. Finishing off the two upstairs bathrooms then laying low until the market picks up and planning our next move (it will be years, people). Clothes are pretty focused--The Gap (me and kids), J.Crew (him). And, everything else that chases us.

Money, money, money. It really is all-consuming. So, for the past few months, we have been very focused on trying to simplify our financial life. Simplify and relieve some of the pressure to keep it coming in just so it can go out. I am exhausted just talking about it!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


All I can say is 700 Billion..that's Billion with a "B" You could give every man, woman and child in the US 2,300 dollars and still have money left over...for a family like yours that would be a check for 11,500 dollars..so WHO is going to cost us more money??