We are NOT perfect

As my husband and I walked on a trail near our house with our 7 month old son, a stranger smiled at us and commented, “The perfect family,” as she passed us. A few steps later, my husband and I looked at each other, laughed, and both said, “Not quite!”

Why did we say that?  Not because we aren’t happy, not because our precious little man isn’t the best little guy in the world, and not even because we were having a bad day! We said it because of what we know that no stranger walking past us (or someone just looking at a picture on Facebook!) could know.

We know that we were only on our second day in a row of not fighting. We know that we had just set up a meeting with our pastor and his wife at church to talk about some of our marital struggles. We know that our wonderful, happy little baby, hasn’t wanted to sleep in his crib for about three weeks and his dad and I have had middle of the night fights about how to best handle it. We are NOT perfect!  That is for sure!

What this made me realize is just how easy it is to be hard on ourselves based on what we see from others. I know I have made comments to my husband like, “see how they’re holding hands?  I want that!” Well the truth is, my husband does hold my hand!  He doesn’t hold it every moment of every day, but he doesn’t need to. For all I know, that couple could have been holding hands simply to hold themselves together. They could have just gotten engaged, or found out they were pregnant, or…both of their love languages could be physical touch. It doesn’t really matter, but what does is that I put unnecessary stress on my relationship due to what I saw in someone else’s. Not cool, Ash, not cool.

How often do we do this exact same thing with money? We look at someone’s financial choices and somehow think that reflects on their actual financial status, reflects our own financial status. When we transcend the need to show others our financial status, we free ourselves to actually make good financial choices!

Do you buy the beautiful 2016 mini-van and take out a loan or do you buy the 2010 used mini-van that you can pay cash for?  Do you do all of your housing updates at one time and take a loan on your mortgage or do you do the projects one at a time so that you can pay for them as you go? Do you get the soda when you’re out to eat or do you get water and just have soda at home? Your priorities are up to you.

From one imperfect to another,

Christmas Comes Every Year?!

Christmas comes every December?!

Yes, it really does!  At the same exact time too! How many of us have ever allowed Christmas to sneak up on us?  I feel like each passing year goes by faster and faster and now that my son is here time seems to be passing exponentially fast. With that being said, there are ways to make sure we are ready for Christmas monetarily so that we can joyfully give to those we love and those we don’t know, but need love. So, here are some practical ways to make sure Christmas doesn’t sneak up on your bank account…

1. Put some of your tax return money away for Christmas as soon as you get it! I have talked before about having a short term savings (STS) account and that is where we choose to save for Christmas. So, when we get our tax return, the entire thing goes into short term savings and then we decide where it will be spent. We generally keep about $300 of it to go toward Christmas.

2. Save a little bit each month of the year. Again, the short term savings comes into play here. When we were living on two full-time incomes, we put $500 a month into our STS. Now that we are living on 1 full-time income and one part-time income, we only put $150 into it each month. We are careful to keep that account above $1,500 over the course of the year so that we have enough as backup Christmas money.
3. Use your extra paycheck! Okay, this is my favorite because it is the easiest one!! If you are living on a “four weeks in a month” budget, you will get two extra pays per year. One will be in May or June and the other will be in November or December. This happens because of those lovely 5 week months that sneak in on us. I call these “Bonus Pays”! For the November – December “Bonus Pay” mine usually goes toward the extra week of stuff – groceries, fun with friends and family, baby supplies, etc. (This is explained more in my post about envelopes). My husband’s pay goes toward, you guessed it, CHRISTMAS! This one paycheck covers most of our Christmas gifts and giving and the money we have saved from 1 and 2 are our backups.

4. Purge your home. This one can be the most time consuming and though I love it once it is done, I actually hate doing it! Something I realized just this year is that we have way too much STUFF! It started driving me insane actually. I think I only realized it once the toddler toys started taking over every room in the house and the baby toys needed somewhere to go. So, I started going through Hubby and I’s stuff to see what we could get rid of. There are some great Facebook pages for online yard sales which make it really easy to sell stuff. We generally just used this as extra fun for Nate and me with how busy this holiday season gets.

    If you have any other creative ways to save for Christmas, I would love to hear about them in the comments!



    Short Term Savings

    This is my favorite of our bank accounts! Over the years it has paid for new windows for our house, paid off my student loan debt, took us on yearly vacations, let us take weekend trips with friends, helped fund Christmas every year, and given us a cushion of financial comfort. I think this account was the original reason why I ended up loving the idea of saving, why I got excited every time I knew my money was transferring.

    Creating a short term savings is easy. Here’s the steps:

    1. Decide how much you can put into this account. When you are creating your budget, pick a specific amount that you want to go into this account. My general rule of thumb is that I want to be saving about 15% of my income. I put more into my long term savings (probably 9%) and a little bit less into my short term (the remaining 6%). I know, for some people this seems crazy! Who can put that much of their paycheck into savings?!  Trust me though, you can do it!  Think of it as paying yourself! If you have something specific you’re saving for, figure out how much it costs and divide that by how long you have before you need it. If you need specific help with this, email me! I’m happy to help you figure out your exact numbers!


    1. After that, it is literally just opening up another account to your already existing bank account. The benefit of having multiple accounts is that you can separate the different ways that your money gets spent (I’m going to be writing another post soon about setting up your different accounts. I’ll put a link here when I do).


    1. The next step in creating your short term savings is to start an automatic transfer into it. Usually this needs to be done in person at your bank. I suggest setting up a meeting with one of the bank managers because otherwise you might end up waiting awhile if you just walk in. You pick a day of the month and an amount of money that you want to transfer automatically and they put it in the system for you. I have my automatic transfers go through twice a month because we get paid bi-weekly. That way I know the money is always in the account for the transfers.


    1. Don’t touch the account!!! This is easily the most important. As you see that money start accruing, it’s going to be tempted to want to “reward yourself”, but remember that your reward comes when you are able to pay cash for some big ticket items that previously would have went on a credit card. Here’s to not paying any interest! Cheers!


    Happy saving!