For the past 6-7 months my husband was unsuccessfully looking for another job. With his current salary we can make ends meet but we don't have much money left after all the bills are paid and all the needs are met. I originally created this blog as an outlet to vent about the money or lack of it. But I started feeling this frustration was taking control over my life. I felt like I was thinking about the money ALL THE TIME. I would look through our bank accounts non-stop, as if one grocery shopping trip could change the balance dramatically. I would bark at my husband (well, not literally but close enough...) for going to a drive-thru for a $ menu because he forgot his lunch at home. I would go through my multiple budgets again and again and again...You get the picture. And then I hit the wall. I realized that I can't keep living like this. For the sake of my family and myself, I needed to make some changes. These are a few steps that worked for me.
GET YOUR SPOUSE ON BOARD. For the longest time my Hubby kind of handed all of the money-related things to me. He was very busy with school, work, serving at church, family and all the other things that preoccupied his mind. It was not easy to get him on the same page. It took months. But after he accepted the fact that we needed to do it as a team, it took such a huge load off of my shoulders. Now we work with our budget and track our expenses as well as make plans together once a week. There are a few ways to help your significant other to get on board with you. Honesty is the first and most important step. Look at your finances together, create a spreadsheet of where you are. And don't blame it all on him! Just because he spent $100 on yet another tool that collects dust in a garage doesn't justify you spending $20 on a pair of pumps on clearance. You need to be honest with him and yourself. You both need to know where you are and then take some baby steps together. Sit down and try to figure out how you can cut just $20 off of your expenses. Take a financial class as a couple. Make dinner together instead of going out (also works as a great free date!). And don't forget about some fun money for each of you. We only have $20 a month set aside per person in our family but it really helps me not to feel guilty about a new necklace that I
THINK OF THE FUTURE, DON'T DWELL ON THE FUTURE. We do care about our retirement, weddings (Oh, that's a scary thought...after all my oldest kid is not even 6 yet!) or how we will pay if something brakes. We try to put money aside for upcoming household projects. We have an emergency fund. We want to go to Disneyland with our kids in a few years. But we can't just stop life. There are so many things to enjoy now. And I understand all about the gazelle intensity thing but as fast as a gazelle can run, she needs a break once in a while. Life's little pleasures (mind you, I said little...) are extremely important for moving forward. Just like any other diet, a financial diet would be extremely hard without an occasional piece of "dark chocolate".
GET CREATIVE. And I'm not necessarily talking about how to stretch that dollar until the next paycheck. I'm talking about making your life a little more beautiful. Try a new recipe with the ingredients you already have on hand. Put in what you have at home at www.allrecipes.com or just improvise. Or do small changes around the house. Go to a thrift store, buy a bunch of old frames, spray-paint them and display your family pictures for a beautiful focal point in your house. Buy a yard of fabric and make the simplest new cases for decorative pillows. Paint a room. Or simply rearrange some furniture around the house. You'll be surprised how different your house can look just from this easy trick.
BE GRATEFUL. I think this made the biggest change in my attitude! No matter how crappy my situation is, there is always somebody out there who has it much worse. Gratitude is in the name of my blog but I kind of forgot about the importance of it. There is so much in life to be thankful for! It's not about pretending that bad doesn't exist . For me it was about learning to appreciate what we already have. We have a good house, a reliable car but most importantly, we have each other, and you can't put a price tag on every precious moment we spend with one another. And other thing was about learning to be grateful for all the hard work my husband does. He doesn't have the best job in the world but he has a job that pays the bills, and he works hard and does it for us. When we got married, we made the choice for me to stay home with our kids, and I'm so thankful that we can still afford to do it. And even if I end up going back to work soon, I'm still extremely grateful for all the years that I stayed at home and that I did not miss all those "firsts"
The bottom line is frustration about money is part of our lives. But money can only control us if we allow it to. As Albert Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Money can solve lots of problems in life but it shouldn't define who you are!