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Balance

September 6th, 2014 at 07:51 am

Things are going pretty well financially. Knock on wood. (They never seem to go this well for very long, so will see...). I suppose my positive feelings and measurement of "well" is just that we have a pre-kids level of cash and are saving at a pre-kids/dual income pace. Which was a good measure of financial freedom. Today we have all that plus a heck of a lot more assets.

I still make a solid $20k less than our highest "dual income", but I am taking home more with the $20k+ decrease in taxes. I have been for a couple of years probably, but have had some catching up to do on the savings front. This tax/income interaction is really key on the balance side of things. We could easily make an extra $20,000 - $40,000 and be NO BETTER OFF. I see it every single day. Show me someone who has a $30k higher wage and I will show you someone who is paying $30k more in taxes than I am. This is an important point to understand when it comes to balance. That you can work significantly less and be just as well off.

I personally credit my parents for being extraordinary examples of balance. I don't know if I appreciated it before, but in recent years that balance and the benefits of that balance has become pretty clear. & I know that it seems to come pretty easy to me.

I don't know if I had given it much thought lately, but it really hit me as I was evaluating our current finances. I'd say we are back to our peak financial comfort level, which was pretty darn comfortable. So, what do I want to do with all this financial comfort? With more wiggle room, is there something we should be splurging on?

The answer? Nothing. There is absolutely nothing we want to splurge on. We have more than we could possibly need or want. This wasn't really the answer I was expecting to come up. But that is where our strong sense of balance has put us.

This is all well and good because I have a ton of financial pressures coming up on the horizon. Our plan is actually to do a couple of big splurges, and then nose back to the grindstone. Which is for the best with the economy, with kids nearing college age, and all the other financial pressures we know are on the horizon.

Even our splurges have a solid "Plan B". Which is also an important part of balance. So you don't feel deprived when everything doesn't go as you expect it to. So you don't even feel particularly set back when life happens. Because life will always happen.

Big Splurges?

Dh does have his eye on a $3,000 projector. His parents have already vocalized giving us that money for Christmas and it's all his. I've even given him a thumbs up to keep an eye open for sales. Will probably buy late winter (after cash in hand) unless a sales comes up before then. But we will jump on a sale prematurely if it will put us ahead for the long run. (Fall is when new models come out? So we may make a purchase next month if the price comes down at that time).

Plan B: No matter what we will upgrade his projector this year or next. I am just not sure if we will go with a $1k or a $3k purchase. Either way is a huge step up and will make him happy. I think the $3k purchase will make him more happy for longer. But we are both interested in sticking with a reasonable budget.

You can file this away under, "ridiculous splurge that we never could have justified the past few years." He's also been enjoying his higher quality TV and sulking about his loss of hearing. I am personally happy to see him excited about his movie theater again - the one we bought the extra big house for. We don't plan to downsize for another solid decade, so he might as well use and enjoy. Or the kids are getting to an age where they will use and enjoy.

I admit dh has had this projector on his wish list for a while, but this will do it for him. He's got nothing else on his want list.

The other big splurge is BM's Japan trip in the spring. That is a given and I have a creative way to fund his trip. IT's just that the opportunity popped up now, but it is good timing for us financially. Plan A is for both dh and BM to go, but Plan B is to just send BM. I don't think we will decide until next year. Will see how the next few months go financially and where we are at. It is possible (but unlikely) that my parents will chip in a bit for that trip. So, waiting to see how that sorts out before we commit to anything.

What about me? Well, it is mostly true that I have everything I could possibly want or need. But I suppose I have one caveat to that. What I want more than anything is lots of cash to tide me over for my next job transition. Both of our long-term employment situations are just clear as mud, for the moment. I just want to be able to take some relaxing time off in between jobs. (I don't know if this is possible, but it is what I want). & I want to be able to take my sweet time and find that perfect job. I have always had that time and freedom in the past (which is why my current job is so awesome - I know the awesome jobs are out there). For the first time in this economy I feel a bit of that again - that I have the luxury to take my sweet time and to hold out for that ideal job. It's also been almost a decade since my last maternity leave so I am ready for some time off and a reboot. My next job transition just seems a natural time and way to take that reboot.

& so is the plan. A couple of big splurges and then noses back to the grindstone. It's also that final stretch before BIG expenses like college and so on. If unemployment is never an issue, then we will have plenty of other uses for any savings in the next few years.

One final thought on balance. It probably pains me on some level to plan to spend $9,000-ish that can be set aside to pay 2 months of our expenses in event of job loss. But I am not sweating it. Times are good and we should enjoy. I know it will make any period of unemployment or adjustment easier because we did splurge and enjoy when we could. We've been saying "no" to a lot of things since we had kids and I know there is a lot of "no we can't do that" for the next 10-ish years until we get our kids through college. I think it's important to relax and enjoy when we obviously can. & I think we can do so while being well prepared for all of the uncertainty. & that feels awesome!

2 Responses to “Balance”

  1. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    You guys sound like you are in a good place financially and with contentment.

  2. LivingAlmostLarge Says:

    We make a lot more than we did before kids (I don't know the income went up a lot). In 2010 when I had my DK1 we made combined $120k, lost my $30k and my DH got a promotion and made that up. After that we've only gone up. And honestly we saved every extra penny and haven't changed much. But we pay about half the extra income in taxes. Oh well. Our savings seems to be growing exponentially.

    If I went to work and say I conservatively made $65-70k what would I really take home if my DH make $200k? $17.5k 401k contribution for sure and not much else? 6% SS, 6% state, 28% federal, 1.5% medicare = 41.5% gone, then childcare would probably right now I'd be paying to work but we'd have more opportunity to shelter our income.

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