Per Slice's repeated requests I've compiled a post about our finances. More specifically, the things we've done over the last few years to create financial peace in our marriage & home. We've learned a lot about finance and personal habits, human psychology, etc. as we've gone through this process. I'll tell you right up front that the most important thing is communication, communication. I don't know why people are weird about talking money, but I wish it weren't so. I'd love to change it. Being open about money could eliminate SO many problems in relationships.
Without further ado....
1. The first thing we did was to pay off all our outstanding debt. At the time, we had a car loan and some credit card balances. Slice was also changing jobs, so we took the retirement $$ he had saved from the previous job* and cashed it out. YES we had to pay taxes on it. YES it was worth it to pay off every debt (aside from the mortgage).
2. Canceled our credit cards and resolved to pay cash in the future.
3. Refinanced our mortgage. We were paying on a typical 30-year loan and wanted to put more of our income into the house. The loan rates were great: we refinanced to a 15-year fixed rate. Some people say to just make double payments or an extra payment a year on the 30-year, but I really like seeing that interest amount cut drastically. Just makes you feel better about where your money is going.
4. Emergency Fund. We took Dave Ramsey's advice and gradually stashed away 6 months' expenses. It took many months, especially as we sold & bought a house (draining our savings for a good-sized down payment) and then sold & bought a car. Actually we bought two cars, the second one cost almost $10k; we waited to buy until we could pay cash and still keep some in our fund.
5. Cars. I basically had to let my car pride go. A car gets you from Point A to Point B, and everything beyond that is just a status symbol. AKA Pride.
6. Winning in the Margins, or "make money everywhere you can." Slice and I have added income via photography, firefighting, trading stock (true story!), music/golf lessons, painting, etc. We rented out our basement several times, to different people. Slice is always looking for ways to make money. I love that about him.
7. Budgeting. We are NOT the best budgeters, I'll say that right now. Basically all we ever did was sit down and say, "Where did our money go last month?" But even that was better than nothing. We could at least see where it went and what we could do to make it work for US, rather than the other way around.
8. Cut the crap. Oh so much financial trouble could be avoided if we all quit buying things we DON'T NEED. Minimalism for the win! I've never been a product person or an "I need the latest trendy home decor and seasonal clothes" person, and I was raised on a lot of food storage. So, we buy things in bulk - case lot sales, Costco trips - we eat mostly at home, and we don't buy clothes unless we actually need them. I could probably save even more by frequenting yard sales and thrift stores, but I've never set aside the time for that.
In this same category I'd add DON'T watch those "product deal" websites. They may save you a little here and there but I guarantee you're spending more money over time just by following them. I don't even look at Amazon deals anymore, so I'm not tempted to buy things I don't need.
Those are the basics. I doubt anyone has questions or comments for me, but if you do, hit me up! I love talking about this stuff. Obviously.
*Side note: Retirement savings is great!! Put away as much as your company will match! We've cashed ours out twice (which is not the goal) and it has come in very handy.