Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Good Life

Good Saturday morning to you!  Our weekend is starting off wonderfully.  I hope your's is too!  Here in the Dean household, we've found that we are really good planners.  It's our follow through that we need to work on.  So, we've set in motion a few things that we can do that help us on our path to the good life. 
We don't want to be rich.  In fact, neither one of us really even like money.  Our idea of being monetarily comfortable, is having enough for the things that we need, enough to save for the things that we want and the rest we can give to people or organizations who need it more than we do.  I've always thought that the less extra I have, the less complicated my life will be and so far, that theory is correct.  Here are a few things that we do that have helped us so far in our short marriage.  Also, take a look at this website when you have a chance;

First and foremost, if you're so inclined, pay a full tithing.  For those of you not familiar with tithing, it is a donation or payment of 10% of your annual increase.  There have been times where money has been tight and not paying our tithe would have given us a little extra freedom, but our theory is and will always be, that if you can't make it on 90% of your income, you definitely can't make it on 100% of your income.  This is non-negotiable in the Dean family and we have reaped the blessings of making this a hard and fast rule in our home. 

Second, budget, budget, budget.  If you've never budgeted before, start slow.  Two years ago, for three months, I tracked every penny spent.  I was amazed and a little disgusted at how much I sqandered.  Try this first.  You will get a better understanding of how much fuel you use, your grocery spend, etc.  Budgeting your fixed expenses is easy, it's budgeting everything else that can be tricky.  There are some great websites available that are completely free that help you to track your spending habits.  Some also encourage you to change some habits to loosen up money for different things.  My favorite website for this is  This is a great resource that has really helped us to understand our spending habits better.  This site has also helped me to challenge myself to a $40 grocery budget every week, while still purchasing healthy and gourmet ingredients.  Also, we bank through JP Morgan Chase bank.  Every branch has a financial advisor that you can speak to completely free of charge as a service for having an account.  Many banks offer this service.  A financial advisor is a great tool to help you to budget and to plan for your future.  If your bank offers this service, take advantage.   

Third, save!  Even if you are living paycheck to paycheck as so many of us do, try to save.  I am a firm believer in the famous quote from Benjamin Franklin, "A penny saved is a penny earned."  Saving isn't easy.  In fact, saving is really hard in a world where instant gratification is king.  Even if all you have to save at the end of every two weeks is $0.50, it will add up.  It feels good to save.  Wes and I have different savings accounts for different things.  We will save separately for things like vacations, emergencies, church clothes, etc.  On top of these, we have just our general savings that we are looking to build up to about 6 months worth of our monthly expenses.  Once we have accomplished that savings, we will be able to breathe a little bit easier when life throws us a wrench as she so often does. 

These are the things that we try to think about daily and weekly as we budget and spend.  We're far from perfect, and as I mentioned above, we are really good at planning and only sort of mediocre on the follow through, but we're getting there.  Habits change slowly and it definitely takes work in order to increase your savings, but I promise you that life can be good, when you've got one less thing to worry about. 

Next week, I'll discuss some tips for staying in shape.  This is a challenge for me, so you're helpful hints and motivations will be much appreciated! 

In the mean time, start living the good life!

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