Category Archives: money honey

Sugar Mama Update

This is an update to my previous post on creating a Sugar Mama Scenario .

I’m relieved to report that Hubby has kept his job through another round of layoffs. Over a dozen co-workers were not so lucky. There is also a chance of “bumping,” which is really unpredictable. After being asked to “walk the plank” for the second year of budget cuts, he doesn’t feel much job security beyond the next budget year. In this economy, I don’t know if anyone truly feels secure about their job.

The exercise of penciling out a “sugar mama scenario” may also prove useful in the shorter term too. Hubby is still developing a business plan, and hopes to venture on his own as soon as possible. I’m at least relieved that he’s not being forced into the decision, and hope that his launch timing will coincide better with a decrease in child care costs, as they move toward Kindergarten and out of the high-end fees of the youngest years.

On a side note here’s an interesting article: 
If Mom earns more than Dad, who changes the diapers?

Do you have a contingency plan for a spouse loosing their job?

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

Scarcity & Finances

When I reviewed the Energy of Money book last week, I forgot to mention an important topic that really resonated with me: personal perception of scarcity.

Scarcity is all about your outlook and often has little to do with your actual situation. Over time your sense of scarcity becomes so ingrained that it almost becomes part of your personality, like being perpetually optimistic or pessimistic. This personal view of life tints your entire financial scenario and reflects your perceived scarcity or abundance

One of the first book exercises asks you to reflect on is your family’s financial circumstances at the time of your birth and when you first remember learning about your family’s financial standing. Personally, I grew up quite poor , but always felt like we had enough and knew others who had less, so I felt well taken care of even though we often lived paycheck to paycheck. Hubby grew up in a pretty affluent family, but he didn’t think about it much either way and mostly took his family’s financial status for granted.  Some people in the book remember thinking their family was really poor until they found out they were actually well off, but their parents simply feigned scarcity constantly.  It made me wonder what early lessons our kids are learning about scarcity.

I realized after our last “money honey” talk, where Hubby was exclaiming about how “we’re hemorrhaging money“, that we simply have two different perspectives on scarcity. Based on my family background, I don’t panic unless we don’t have enough to pay the bills. Hubby’s family finance experience says that if we’re not saving/investing quite a bit more than we are making, then something is wrong. Obviously there is a big difference. It’s not that I wouldn’t prefer for us to be getting ahead rather than treading water, but we clearly are coming from different places on the scarcity spectrum.

Upon more reflection, I realized that food is an area where I often “feel” scarcity. My family never was hungry growing up, but we did live a forty-five minutes from a big shopping center, so we only did a big shopping trip once a month. So even though I can walk to a supermarket in 10 minutes, I still shop as though I need to have enough to feed our family for two weeks. It’s partly because I have the habit of shopping at several different specialty stores, where I buy certain things at each one – so I know if I go to TJs that I’m going to buy cereal for the month! The verdict is out as to whether this actually saves us any money or time, but I do love my weekly organic delivery. And even though he had plenty growing up, Hubby seems like my perfect match, because he gets anxious when we start to run slightly low on food. Likewise, it used to be a pet peeve of mine when we got low on something he would say that we needed to use it up (so we could buy more), but my thought was always that we should make it last as long as possible before replacing. 

But I am guilty of feeling scarcity when it comes to kids clothing. I have this sense that suddenly they’ll outgrow stuff and I’ll be stuck shopping in season at full price. So, my habit is to buy in advance for the season or year ahead on sale. I’ll buy a whole bunch twice a year and almost nothing in between. Our Big Guy is a big grower, and early on was growing out of clothes in no time flat. So I rightfully felt like he always needed new clothes. On the other hand, Girly’s growth is more average and she’s actually in clothes sized for her age. Out of my shopping habit, last fall I bought Girly clothes in the next size up thinking that she would grow into them in a few months. Consequently, I realized the other day that she probably has enough new clothes in her closet to last her another year! Obviously, we have no true scarcity in the clothes department, but my perception is driving our purchases. I also realized that I’ve felt the need to buy almost all new clothing our kids because Hubby’s family was always very well dressed, and I want him to feel a sense of pride and wealth in seeing our kids in nice clothing. With this enlightenment, I’m committing myself to buying more used than new and not buying more clothes until they truly need them…a big personal revelation 😉 

What’s your view on scarcity?
Does it differ from your partners?

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.

Green Love

Romance and frugality don’t necessarily mesh in modern consumer times, but in reality love doesn’t cost money. Last year I wrote about how I would much rather get local tulips than expensive roses shipped from the tropics, and this year I told Hubby to just wait until he can pick me up some at the local farmer’s market.

I have a night meeting on Valentine’s, so I made our “romantic” dinner a night early. As usual, once I got into the thick of cooking, the kids started demanding even more of my attention…they seem to have a cooking radar! So, I asked Hubby to play with them. 

They came up with the idea of indoor bowling, using some big plastic summer patio cups and a few balls. They had a fantastic time rolling the ball from the kitchen island to the front door, and managed to stay thoroughly entertained the whole time I prepped dinner. I even managed to play the second round once things were in the oven. I also found my indoor bowling groove, and managed to beat the boys by a point. Our Big Guy was sooo excited about me winning the trophy, so I asked him what the “trophy” was after all, he excitedly exclaimed “Your trophy is the best family ever!!” Then we had a big family hug/kiss…where we lift the kids up and all exchange hugs and kisses…talk about romantic!

40 Ways to Give More Love – Becoming Minimalist
8 Essentials for a Successful Marriage – Becoming Minimalist

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

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