Our New Year’s Resolution

It’s funny how easy I thought it was going to be…  I mean, if you put it on paper, it makes complete sense, and I wouldn’t hesitate before making the selfless decision.  Every time, I would choose family over things.  I would choose people over stuff.

But now that I’m living it, I’ve come to realize that — even if it sounds selfish — the adjustment is going to take some getting used to.  So after you read this post, please don’t judge me or think me too materialistic for feeling this way…  I honestly didn’t think I would.

You remember that old movie The Wilderness Family?  A father and mother, tired of the rat race, quit their big-city careers and move to the wilderness with the kids.  I kind of feel like the movie left out one very important part.  It’s really, really not easy to let go of money and the stuff it can buy.

Like, it’s really not easy.

Nate and I have known, since the beginning of our marriage, that if we had kids, we would want to live off of one salary.  Even the cost of day-care aside, we knew that we didn’t want a stranger raising our child.  If we were going to take that step and start our own family, we were going to do our absolute best to make sure that one of us could stay home.

It’s important to us.

But in this world we live in, such an arrangement is easier said than done.  So as of January 1st, Nate and I began an experiment and decided to live off of one salary, putting the other into a bank account.  You know, just to see if we could do it, should we have kids one day and want to live off just that one income.  Better to try it now, with two incomes coming in…

It sounded so good on paper, but when my spending money didn’t come into my account Friday, the situation really hit home.  I mean, it’s not that we spend frivolously, as we put a lot of our money into the house or to pay off bills.  But have always had extra funds for eating out, and shopping trips, and craft stores.

We’ve had that very nice, comfortable cushion that we’ve gotten so used to and things never were that tight.

And now, we’re getting a taste of how it will be without that extra cushion.  Suddenly, I’m realizing how much hair supplies, makeup, and cat food adds up to on a monthly basis.  Suddenly, I’m talking about how to stretch pennies and cut coupons.

And I’ll be honest with you, I may have even gone on a teary-eyed rant about how life isn’t really fair.  Funny, isn’t it, how nice things can have such a pull on us.  How easy it is to get caught up with the stuff that moth and rust will destroy… instead of realizing that what really matters is free.

I know that it’s not going to be easy, especially since we’ve become used to that extra money coming in.  But I also know that it’s what I want.  Ultimately, difficult or not, it is truly what I want.

So as of today, Nate and I began our challenge — or New Year’s resolution, if you will.  And I know that it will be worth it in the end!  🙂

Have you ever decided to give up money and stuff for something that ultimately mattered more?

Oh, I’m making a list of fun things in life that are FREE, so that I won’t focus on what we might not have… but instead on what we’ll be able to do, even without money.  Any suggestions on what I should add to it?  🙂

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25 thoughts on “Our New Year’s Resolution”

  1. I don’t think you are ever selfish sounding at all, and I really stress that because I find you one of the most selfless bloggers I’ve come across with blogging. I can really feel for your challenge because with my being out of a job I’ve put stress on our money, and created issues, with us having one income. Where we’d normally go out and have date nights frequently, now it seems like we hardly have them. And, I gotta tell you, it is tough, and not going out and staying in can feel boring. But, with what I know about you and Nate from following you guys is that you can tackle anything set in front of you, especially with him by your side. 🙂

  2. I second what Sarah said. You’re not selfish at all. I’m just starting to make money now, after months (years?) of not having anything but the occasional $20 here and there, which went directly to gas or loans. So I can already feel that pull that money has, even while I”m still not making a lot. To cut back after being “comfortable” is a hard, hard thing. I give big KUDOS to both of you for taking on this New Years Resolution. Such a great idea.

    Also, in regards to your list of FREE things. (1) Photo excursion with Sarah..ahem…ME…to Rockport in the Spring (I’ll put money aside for gas, but otherwise, views and scenery is free to look at! (2) Hikes up Mt. Wachusett in the spring/summer. (3) Picnic excursions.

    There’s always more affordable ways to have fun too. Like local 5ks which are usually under $20 and give good motivation. Or pinterest crafts. Or coffee/book dates with Nate at a cafe. 😀

    Anyways. Keep it up!! You guys can tackle anything together. 😀

  3. Oh trust. I hear you! It is a huge sacrifice…I’m impressed that you’re trying out the one income thing before you have the kiddo! We also live on one income, and I know that cutting out those luxuries out can seem like a huge hit at first, but it really does get easier. We’ve transitioned and it feels normal now. (also, I have to say it might FEEL easier when you do have a child because you can see – and hold and kiss and love – the cause that you’re giving the money up for.

    1. That is SO true!! Right now, it will be easy to just focus on the sacrifice… while once we do have a baby, we’ll see it also as a blessing. And I have to say that I did think about you when Nate and I first talked about trying this… Because I know you’re a stay-at-home mom and your blog makes this your job (because being a mom is a full-time job) seem so amazing. I know it will be hard at first… but I know it will begin to feel normal, and right, after awhile. 🙂 Thank you for the encouragement!

  4. Yea, it is definitely easier said than done. I don’t think you are being selfish at all. I grew up less financially comfortable than I am now, and it is quite easy to embrace the extra money here and there than it is to give up things that have become normal in your life.
    As for free things, Michael and I have had picnics in the back yard (although in warmer weather), and the library is a great place to go. We are both big readers, so we could spend all day there. 🙂

    1. LOVE the idea of going to the library! I haven’t gone in awhile, but that will let me stay in my bookclub AND to keep reading magazines… for free. And I adore picnics! So both ideas are going on my list!! And I hear you… Once things have been tight financially, it’s hard to go back to that after things get easy again. I guess it’s all about taking it a day at a time, working hard, and trusting God for the rest. 🙂

  5. You know what’s free… playing hide and seek! I love this challenge and I honestly think you’ll be super excited once you have a good chunk of money in the bank. You’ll be so proud!

    I have no doubt that you two will find what works for you and everything will be fantastic 🙂

  6. It’s really good that you guys are practicing living off of one income for two reasons: 1) now you can tweak your expenses and get yourself mentally ready for when you have to do it and 2) all that money you’re putting aside will definitely be needed when you have your first kid.

    My best advice would be to create a budget based on your new income. Input all your non-variable expenses like utilities and house payments and insurance and groceries and all that fun stuff, then reallocate what is leftover as your “non-essentials” budget.

    Generally your income should be split up as:

    35% for all housing costs (incl mortgage)
    15% for transportation
    10% for saving
    15% for debt repayment (if necessary)
    25% for life (groceries, entertainment, medical. Basically, everything else!)

    Matt and I just did our 2013 budget yesterday. This year we’re planning on spending a little more on minor upgrades to the house so that’s cutting into our vacation and entertainment budget, unfortunately, but those are our priorities for 2013.

    1. Yes, yes, and YES! Nate and I did sit down and create a very-detailed bugdet… but now I’m curious as to how our percentages match up to the ones you researched. I’m going to have to check this weekend! 🙂 Thank you for sharing, Samantha! Excellent points here!!

  7. You two are so smart to try this experiment! I already know that you don’t spend your money furiously, so I know you can do this!! Just think about the potential results of the experiment and the outcome! I don’t think you’re selfish AT ALL!

  8. Genius. Absolutely genius. What an awesome experiment. I bet the first couple of months will be the hardest, but then you’ll get into the routine of it.

    Free fun stuff: card and board games (love them), walking tours of unexplored (or explored) neighborhoods in your town/city, picnics in the park…

    Good luck!

    1. Nate LOVES board games, so that is totally going on the list… and I love the idea of exploring new neighborhoods! How FUN! Thank you for the encouragement!! 🙂

  9. Since we first got married, we’ve only ever lived off one salary. Our first year of marriage, all the income I made went to our savings account and the following years it has gone toward our student debt payoff. My income goes directly to a separate account so we never see it as part of our “total monthly income” that we live off month to month. At the end of every month, I make an extra payment on our student loans directly from that account. For us, it helps so much that the money goes into a separate account so we never see it as money that is even an option to spend.

    So while we’ve never gone from living on two salaries to living on one, we did spend a year of attempting to cut our spending budgets in half (except for our mortgage and utilities obviously, haha). Here’s a blog post about how that went for us: http://thisitalianfamily.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/money-talk/. Changing our eating out habits was probably most difficult that year, but in that post I explain some of the choices we made to help cut down spending on eating out.

    You’ve got this, friend! I know it will be difficult at times, but I know you guys can do it. Cutting down on our spending was difficult, but it was so worth it. It helped having a specific goal in mind. Knowing that you guys are doing this to help plan for a future family will help for sure. Plus you have all of us for support! 🙂

  10. I think (and this is purely a thought) that when the time comes for you to have kids, you will be ready to give up some of the materialistic things. You aren’t ready to give them up (which is FINE!!) but that also may mean you are not ready for kids (which is also fine!!) I think this experiment is great, and I should give it a try!

    1. I definitely see truth in what you say, mainly because I know that one day — when I hold my new little one for the first time — I won’t care about clothes, and stuff, and vacations, or even (in that moment) I won’t be worrying about bills. I’ll only feel love. I think that right now, it’s just difficult because Nate and I aren’t expecting yet… so we’re just feeling the giving up stuff side. 😉 Let me know if you do try the ‘experiment’ too!! 🙂

  11. This is our resolution too. We’re not saving for a child, but for a big trip this summer! It’s going to be tight, but ultimately worth it. Good Luck and I’ll be following any tips you come up with.

  12. Nicole, you are the most unselfish young person I have ever met! Being twenty something and you have already realized what the most important things in life really are. Some people never find the maturity you and Nate have already experienced. Good luck in your endeavor. Can you adopt me? 🙂

    1. Ha, ha! Sylvia, I have already adopted you as my travel guide! 🙂 If Nate and I were ever to see you sometime out and about and I introduced you as ‘my travel agent from work’, Nate would know — in an instant — who you were. I always talk highly of you; and all of your advise on what we should do on our travels has always been spot on, come in handy, and has been very much appreciated!! 🙂

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