A Grown-Up ChecklistThursday, June 09, 2016
Oh, the joys of being a grownup! Bills, student debt, insurance.... It's all so much fun. Sarcasm aside, I really do love this stage of our life. College is in the past and kids are in the future so it's just us at the moment, getting to spend our money any way we please. For the most part, anyway. As we plan for the future, there are a few personal financial items on our checklist.
Buy a house
This has been a looming goal for us for a while now. A few years ago, we thought we'd be ready to buy a house once we had x amount of dollars in the bank, but buying a house is so much more than that! Money in the bank is just the first step in a long process of loan pre-qualification and financial paperwork -- not to mention actually finding the perfect house. As much as it irritates me that we haven't found a house yet, it has been good for us to have this extra time to learn about the process. Over time, our goal has become less about buying a house and more about buying a house and still having money left over to live. That part is so easy to overlook in the excitement of buying a house, but having this extra time has helped us prepare for the large amount of fees and bills we'll likely have to pay before closing on a house.
Be money conscious
This seems like an obvious thing to do, but for the first few years of our marriage I really only had a vague idea where our money was going. It wasn't until we really buckled down in saving for a house that we started tracking everything and realized exactly how much we were spending per month in various categories. Financial software programs like Personal Capital make it so easy to track expenses on a weekly or monthly basis so you can budget your money better. At the moment, being money conscious is easier since buying a house is so big on our radar, but I hope to turn it into a lifelong habit as we lead up to other major life events like kids and retirement.
Backpacking across Europe or living for a year in Spain is probably never going to happen for us, but Mark and I still love to take smaller trips on a regular basis and, while they don't cost as much as trip to Europe, travel is still not cheap. Being financially able to just pick up and go somewhere is important to us and something we like to keep in our budget. They say spending your money on experiences is much more satisfying than buying more stuff and I wholeheartedly agree!
Pay off high-interest loans
Mark and I are still paying off our student loans and probably will be for awhile. We're okay with that, but we made sure to pay off the loans with a high interest rate first. Tightening our belts one month so we could pay those off in one lump sum was one of the best decisions that we made. We'll definitely stick to this strategy with our future debts as well, because - let's be honest - being debt-free isn't always a possibility. I think the key is learning how to best manage the money you do have without letting debt (and finances in general) rule your life.
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