Friday, March 28, 2008

Budgeting: Some Back Story

I love to listen to Marketplace Money, and similar shows, that try to guide everyday folks like me to financial security. Chris Farrell makes it sound so easy. Just do this, trim so-and-so, and then you'll be fine.

The problem is, money isn't just math. There are lots of emotions tied up with money, at least, there are for me and my husband. Both Tony and I remember our parents fretting about money in the 70s and 80s, and it certainly shaped our financial views, although we do think pretty differently.

Because his parents really stressed about money, Tony likes to take a laissez-faire approach. He is of the opinion that there isn't a debtor's prison anymore, so why worry?

Because my parents really stressed about money, I worry about every single dime we spend. Seriously, I finally bought myself some new socks the other day. It had been at least 5 years.

Neither attitude seems particularly healthy or useful.

Enter into the equation, our chosen career paths. Tony and I were, once upon a time, both professional opera singers. I probably don't need to tell you that we didn't make a great deal of money. We were both successfully employed in our chosen fields, but the only way to be moderately financially successful as a singer is to be pretty famous. Even singers at the Met I know still teach on the side. It's a difficult path, and not at all family-friendly (all nights and weekends...lots of travel).

After Hal was born, I decided I couldn't bear the thought of going back to a job I didn't like very much (both Tony and I had left the arts by this time), so I did my best to figure out a budget where I could be home with Hal during the day, work part-time on nights and weekends at Starbucks, while Tony worked his new cool job at a non-profit. And you know? It worked pretty well. We were able to pay our bills (especially our horrifying student loans!!!!), save some money, and were even prepared for a few car-repair emergencies. We payed off our car loan two years early!!!!! Wow! Success!

Unfortunately, I never really got to sleep very much. I would get to sleep at about midnight, probably do a feeding or two, then get up around 4:30 or 5AM. Brutal. I was walking around in a fog for the first 2 years of Hal's life, and I still feel like I'm recovering. I really had to leave my job.

So, I did.

Coming up Next: what happened to the economy???!!! when will we ever pay off our student loans???!!! why are groceries so flipping expensive???!!!

Budgeting tip of the day: if you get paid bi-weekly, there are two times during the year that you will earn THREE paychecks in a month instead of two. Trick yourself, and do not budget for it (meaning: don't plan on spending it!!!!!!). Put this money directly into an emergency fund/savings account/IRA/529/whatever.


Tizzalicious said...

When did you leave your job? I think if you never got any sleep, that was a good choice!

on the dot creations said...

Hi, Lauren. I found your great blog after you posted a comment on mine. I really enjoyed reading your budgeting tip today!

By the way, were you really an opera singer? That is amazing! Do you have any video of that on your blog? I'm impressed!

Thanks for stopping by my blog, and I hope you'll come back to visit often!