Monday, January 8, 2018

How Being Smart with Your Money NOW, will Pay Off LATER!

This guest blog post was written by Sheila Scarbrough from Eagle Mountain, Utah.

The day after school let out in 2015, we woke up our 4 fourkids, then ages 15, 14, 11, and 7, with the surprise that we were leaving for a California, Disneyland, Universal Studios trip. We spent 3 days in Disneyland, an epic day at Universal Studios and 2 days on the beach. While we did stay in a hotel that provided breakfast, we ate every other meal out either in a park, on the beach, or in a restaurant. It was a wonderful trip where even me, the mom, got to relax because I wasn’t trying to watch every penny.

Disneyland trip planning - How to save money with good planning!
June 2015 Surprise Disneyland Trip

Rewind a few years (maybe quite a few) to the very first time we took our, then 3, kids ages 5, 4 and 21 months to Disneyland. We once again stayed in a hotel that could accommodate us in one room and provided breakfast. Not only that, but it had a mini fridge and microwave to help with some other simple meals. Our goal was to eat out a maximum of once a day, and cheaply when we did that. We packed in Lunchables to the park, the older kids wore fanny packs carrying their own snacks for the day, and we ate things like Cup of Noodles on the days that we were eating dinner in our hotel room. Our goal for that trip was to do a Disney trip for less than $2000. We did it then and at least one other time before spending a little more on a 3rd trip and finally doing it the way we did in 2015. No matter how we did it, our goal was always that we could come home and have the trip completely paid for. No credit needed. No worries about future bank statements.

Disneyland trip planning - How to take your whole family for $2000
2006 Disneyland Trip
Where am I going with this, you ask. If you had to budget so much, why did you not wait till you could do it in the most epic of ways? If it was stressful, why did you bother planning and packing in groceries that could be easily made into dinner in a microwave? Why not do it the way you wanted and just put the trip on credit? Because, my friends, I’ve learned something vital in my 18 1/2 years of marriage:

No number of trips, or things, or house upgrades feels as good as financial security.

I am certainly no guru on the topic of finances. In fact, when you start talking about 401Ks and investing and things, my eyes glaze over and I feel REALLY DUMB. However, experience and good examples have taught my husband and me some really great lessons that have kept us from any scary financial situations. They have also kept us from ever having a fight over finances. So, with a new year and the new financial goals people like to set, let me share a few of those lessons. Take what you will, and laugh at the rest!

#1 I REPEAT, No number of trips, or things, or house upgrades feels as good as financial security. I can in all honesty say, we have never purchased something on credit that we could not pay off when the statement came the next month.  This was a lesson my parents taught me and one that has served us very well. Now this does not include the big 3—house, car, school. We do have a house payment and one car payment, but thankfully, the school loan got paid off long ago. However, we have never bought furniture or an appliance or put a trip on a credit card that we couldn’t pay off when the bill came. Do you want to know one of the best byproducts of that? We have never experienced buyer’s remorse. We have never looked at each other when the credit statement came and said, “We shouldn’t have done that.” That’s because each major purchase we make has been talked about, thought about, researched, and talked about some more. We knew we could pay off whatever it was that we decided to buy and every night we get to go to sleep completely financially secure. Does that mean that maybe we haven’t had the latest and greatest? Yup. Does that mean that our kids didn’t always have the name brand stuff? Yup. But it also means that we have had the money to take our family on trips where unforgettable memories have been made and we could come home and pay it right off. Always feels good, I tell ya.

#2 Pay yourself. Another lesson my parents instilled in me. With each pay check, pay the Lord, in our case tithing to our church but could easily be any charitable contribution, and pay yourself. In other words, SAVE! My parents always paid 10% to tithing and 10% to themselves before paying bills, buying groceries, etc. Now, I have to admit that we haven’t always been able to pay ourselves 10% from every paycheck, but we have always saved more than we thought we could. Doing this is helping us to build savings for our favorite family activity, traveling, but it’s also helped us as we save for a secure financial retired future. Not living paycheck to paycheck is absolutely freeing!

#3 Don’t expect to live like your parents do when you are newly married or have a young family. Sorry folks. Not all of life is going to be instagram worthy.  You may be living with hand-me-down furniture for years, like we did. You may not have the snazziest boutique clothes for you and your 3 month old. You will not get to take grand adventures to the Hawaiian Islands every other year. Guess what? It’s okay. Wonderful memories, strong relationships, happy lives are built one day at a time. We have so many funny stories from driving for all of our vacations. (Our kids have been on one airplane trip.) We have chosen to not move and “upgrade” our house because we and our kids would rather take some kind of great trip each year. We didn’t get to take that fourth California trip where I didn’t have to feed my kids in the hotel room until we’d been married for almost 16 years. Our memories from the previous trips were still amazing, even eating Lunchables in the park instead of turkey legs.

#4 Talk about it! Finances should be an open book for both people in a marriage! Never hide purchases or what you paid for something from your spouse. ALWAYS talk about big purchases, and when you’re first married, almost any purchase is a big purchase. If you both know what’s going on and where you are at financially, you can both plan and dream for the future.  If you’ve both had a say, no one gets to be mad at purchases made. One less thing to be a possible source of contention is a great thing for a marriage, I promise!

Back to our traveling, because it always comes back to that for us. None of those four trips to Disneyland did we stay in a Disney resort. We always chose to stay off-site in a family suite that accommodates us and feeds us breakfast. Never did we buy every snack that sounded good or every souvenir that was amazing. Because we do things this way, we’ve also taken our kids on a Royal Caribbean Cruise and had a week in a beach house in California. Those memories are dinner conversation around here, frequently. We loved every minute of those trips and have gotten to come home and fall asleep completely at peace with our financial security.

Disneyland trip planning - How to take your whole family for $2000
The Scarbroughs on a Royal Caribbean family cruise.

For us, traveling is our thing.  Maybe for you, it’s having the latest electronics, or getting your dream home. No matter what you do with your finances, do it together and stay smart about it, even when you do feel financially secure.

No comments:

Post a Comment