If there's one thing we've learned since coming back Stateside, it's that we need to set boundaries and we need to have goals. Okay, so that's actually two things. But let's not get picky! :o)
I thought we had done fairly well with saving when we were in Japan, but we went through quite a bit of culture shock once we arrived on station here in the States. We had enough in savings to pay off my husband's truck and still have money left over.
But, we didn't have enough to buy a car without a loan (we know how to plan better for next time -- if there is a next time).
We were living pay-check to pay-check those first few months because we just weren't used to keeping track of every penny. We couldn't figure out where the money was going. (Solomon noticed the same thing: "...[riches] certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." Proverbs 23:5)
Now we're learning that we don't really "need" too many things. We've down-graded our internet and phone service to the bare minimum (not quite to dial-up, though), opted out of cable, begun menu-planning, set a budget, quit eating out, and generally started paying attention to our finances.
We've done all these things so that we could pay off our car in a year -- praise the Lord, we are right on track! We are so close to reaching our goal, and we know we couldn't have done any of it without the Lord's blessing.
We've come so far in the past 8 months. It's taken a lot of discipline and determination to get where we are, but -- truth be told -- we want to do a lot better.
I have to say, my husband is a wonderful steward of what the Lord has given us. He is very generous with our tithe and faith promise (missions) money, and I really believe that is another reason the Lord has blessed our finances.
(The liberal soul shall be made fat... Prov. 11:25a... that might be taken out of context; I'm not sure. :P But the verse still makes me smile; we certainly aren't in any want for food around here! There are other verses to apply, however. Malachi 3:10, Luke 6:38, and a number of others)
He is really great at handling money matters, and I know if it were up to me, we'd probably be in a mess and in debt!
Since we've started to vigorously pay down our loan we've discovered how much we really need to survive... and it's not nearly as much as we thought it was. We're not suffering on this newly-implemented budget; in fact, there is a lot of freedom knowing that we will soon be out from under those payments, which will free up a lot of money for other things.
Which brings me back to the topic at hand... our future goals. We don't have too many right now as we've just begun to discuss these. For now, after paying off the car, we'd like to:
- Pay cash for a home by our 15th anniversary
- Have enough money in savings to provide 3 months' living expenses
- Save up for a honeymoon (like a trip to Europe... okay, maybe I'm just wishful thinking and just threw that one in for myself, hehehe)
Those are the big ones I can think of right now. Anyone else think of something we haven't? Care to share any goals your family has set?
ETA: We're already putting money away into TSP for retirement, in case you're thinking I missed the most obvious one. :o)