Monthly Archives: February 2011

Energy of Money Review

I shared earlier about reading the Energy of Money I’m still wrapping up my “homework,” but I can say that it’s already been eye opening to type up each and every expense for a month…even after a year of blogging about our finances, I hadn’t written out our expenses that consciously.

But it’s not the homework challenge that makes me highly recommend the Energy of Money, it’s the depth of personal reflection that it asks of you. Rather than simply asking you to dream up your financial goals in isolation, she presents questions to find your personal and professional path to match your values. I happened to read this part around the new year as we were developing our family goals, and it certainly helped to make them meaningful and well-rounded. It’s all about taking Authentic Action with your energy – monetary and otherwise.

Nemeth isn’t all warm and fuzzy though, and she asks tough questions about past money mistakes and where your finances may have felt unbalanced with your personal values and life goals. She demands that you own up to even the smallest indiscretions, as they can haunt the psyche and unconsciously drain your bank account. She talks a lot about the inherent nature of monkey mind, and how our internal chatter really guides our money decisions.

I also really appreciate her tips for creating a practice of gratitude in your life, and how your perspective influences your net worth. Speaking of net worth, Nemeth recommends that everyone calculate their net worth. Honestly I’ve resisted calculating our net worth, and I realized that it’s probably because my college loans total more than our collective savings and house equity. Nonetheless, once I’m done with my initial homework, I am going determine our net worth so that we’ll have an objective baseline to compare material progress. Like Nemeth reminded me, it’s not meant to compare anyone’s personal worth or value in the world…so my reluctance on moral grounds needs to end.

As mentioned before, Nemeth led thousands through a Money and You course before writing the Energy of Money. I really appreciated how she wove her personal life story with the anecdotal quotes of her many course participants. They were very insightful, and help her messages feel genuine not hypothetical, or heaven forbid, hypocritical. 

Lastly, the book may have been written in 1999, but it is very contemporary and readers can probably relate to some of the messages even deeper in the wake of the economic crisis. 

Have you read the Energy of Money?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Snow day…well sort of!

Snow is pretty rare in the valleys of Oregon, and we only really get a snow event every few years at best. In great anticipation of the “big” snow day that we are expecting, I’m frankly not focused on our finances at the moment.  Instead I’m reminiscing about childhood snow days, which are priceless.

I recall the bunny hill that seemed so treacherous, and the numb feeling of thawing out after finally retreating to the warmth of home. Hot chocolate was a must, along with soup and grilled sandwiches. I must have been an early feminist, because we always insisted on making a snow woman 🙂 

Snow days also have a funny way of changing our priorities, and suddenly nothing seems as important as savoring the snow and playing as hard as possible. I’m looking forward these kinds of traditions and memories for my kids.

Last year I wrote about cheap ways to enjoy a Winter Wonderland.

I also found a couple some fun snow day ideas on ParentDish, Snow Day Fun, and 5 snow day favorites.

As it turns out there really wasn’t much snow to celebrate, but it has been fun fantasizing…

How do you celebrate the snow?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Who’s Managing Your Family Finances?

Do you have a head penny counter in your household? 

After writing about our early family finance habits, I was curious to see if I could find any videos on the topic. I found an interesting video from on  Who’s managing your family finances? 

He discusses a recent study that shows how couples thrive better if the person who is the best at numbers takes the lead on finances – not just the person who takes charge or gets stuck with the finances. It only really makes sense, but relationships, especially with money, aren’t always rational.

They give a quick quiz, and I was relieved to pass. Hubby has always thought that I was more numerate that him, although I think we’re about equal and somewhere in geometry he became less confident. But I can’t claim that we made an intentional decision for me to lead the management because of math skills, and it probably had more to do with us not wanting a traditional arrangement where the person who earns more makes the decisions.

Do you think the most “numerate” spouse handles your finances?

Sustainable Family Finances 
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.

Finances Pre-Kids

We started off the weekend by going over several “money honey” items. We discussed our budget for Denmark and we’re on track for saving another $4k for the trip, although we hope not to spend that much! Despite our ability to save for the trip, Hubby was still aghast at our credit card bills. But after I showed him that almost all our regular bills are on the miles card now, and how they are paid off monthly, he stopped panicking a bit. I also paid a couple of health related bills, and per our  family goal we compared our health care plans. We decided will be opting to go on my plan come the new FY, since the deductible is less and we can get more preventive and naturopathic care.

Over the weekend I also did some much needed filing and I happened upon a notebook where we tracked our expenses when we first moved in together back in July 2000.  It’s hard to believe now, but we literally used less than a half page to track our monthly budget!

We were both insistent on splitting our expenses 50/50. So we tracked our receipts with initials next to who paid and noted who had paid more, which was then rolled over the credit/deficit to the next month’s expenses.

In our first month, we went to the grocery store four times for a total of $154.85. Our phone bill was $46.43. Insurance $38.00. Car oil $4.95. We each paid $122 for everything! In subsequent months our expenses increased slightly: $13.79 newspaper, $36 electricity, $50 for new sheets, $151 car fixed. Our most expensive grocery trip was for $103.85 in December, and I’m certain that it was for hosting our very first julefrokostThe funniest was a note for $2.69 for pancake mix!

Our rent was $900, and we had a sweet converted garage right on Ladd’s Circle: one bay for our bed/bath, two bays for dining/living. It was very cozy, but we loved it. One bonus was that it was so small we didn’t need to buy much furniture, we had a card table and folding chairs. Most of our household supplies were bought at garage sales. I bought a futon once I managed to save up the $600 – we still have it on our back porch with a recovered outdoor cover.

We didn’t go dutch for meals though, and we alternated who would treat and they got to choose the location (or at least the price range 😉 This worked well for us. Notably, we also split cooking/cleaning duties 50/50, and whoever cooked got off from dishes and vice versa. This only really lasted for the first year though…now I do more cooking and he does more cleaning. Thankfully there still is a balance, even though our finances are finally fully merged

Back when we were dating, we really were intentional about tracking our finances. Neither of us were making much, so it was truly important. But the bigger goal was that we wanted a relationship where we could communicate openly about our finances It is nice to know that we are back to talking about our finances/goals regularly. 

Our finances certainly aren’t as cheap these days. But this reflection does give me hope that we’ll continue to be successful setting financial goals and simply enjoying life together along the way.

What were your “family” finances like before kids?

Sustainable Family Finances  
The story of a family creating an abundant and sustainable life.