Welcome to the 18th day of #LoveBlog! Today’s prompt is Past, Present, Future. You can find the rest of this month’s prompts at the original post. It’s not too late to link up for yesterday’s prompt, Role Models.
Howdy, it’s Dan behind the keyboard again. You probably remember my PAST post which Brita has conveniently linked for me. If you don’t remember it, you really have a poor memory or you haven’t read it yet… Either way, I’ll wait.
Okay, now that we are all here with the cars of the past out of the way…
Wait, I’m being told the point of #LoveBlog isn’t just to post about cars…? So, spoiler alert, I’m not going to make the whole post about cars (but they will most likely make an appearance).
In all seriousness, the post about cars and memories is a pretty good summary of my past as well as the background of my marriage to the wonderful Belle Brita (you know she edits these right?).
The American Dream always starts out with the same story: Boy goes to school, boy falls in love with cars, boy becomes a man, man gets a job and buys a car, man gets married… You get the idea.
So what’s the present dream? A white picket fence? 2-1/2 children? Donald Trump not being President?
Sorry, some of those are more realistic than others I suppose (I’ll leave which ones are realistic to your own biases).
The present, as it is now, consists of me working on advancing my career while supporting Brita in her writing profession as much as I can (yes, I shamelessly plug myself a lot. Modesty isn’t one of my strong suits). Regardless of what the future holds, it’s going to take savings and a stable income to make it what we dream.
Yep, I just made a #LoveBlog post about being financially responsible (what were you expecting? Cars?). Sure, money can’t buy happiness, nor is being financially responsible stress-free (quite the opposite in fact), but it sure can make you prepared to handle what life throws at you. Sacrificing a bit every day can help you build a buffer to survive so when the fecal matter hits the ventilation you don’t have to sacrifice a lot all at once.
Brita and I have been lucky that our parents instilled in us financial sense and made solid investments in us to put us on the right path. Yet even with the advantages provided to us, we aren’t guaranteed a ride for life. Maintaining that advantage takes goals, restraint, and hard work. It helps to have a partner keeping you honest and watching your back. And maybe a periodic review with a financial planner for good measure…
Present Financial Choices
So what can you do to set yourself up for financial success? A wise man once told me, “We aren’t born knowing this stuff.” Finances are ridiculously complicated. Part of being an adult is having to dive into the complicated mess that is the real world of money, contracts, and tax planning that your parents used to do for you as a kid.
Find yourself a good teacher. It could be a family member who has set themselves up well for retirement; it could be a book, a website, or even an actual class. My personal mentor is my dad first and foremost. Looking back at the past (and throwing in another car story), I remember many times being in the car with my dad listening to Clark Howard (another great option for a financial mentor). Yes, even my dad with all the financial knowledge he had (which seemed quadruply impressive when I was a kid) was constantly getting advice on how to “save more, spend less, and avoid getting ripped off.”
This is not to discount my mother… In my mind, my dad is the image of long-term goals, retirement investing, and doing taxes. My mom, on the other hand, is the short-term weekly budget lecturing me in the back of my head. She isn’t necessarily as successful in my inner thoughts at preventing impulse purchases as my dad is with his retirement saving adages, but she is definitely there.
I remember when I was pretty young and going on a family vacation (did I mention road trip?). I had saved up a whopping $20 to spend on a souvenir on the vacation. And yet I came home with that same $20 because at every gift shop, my mom’s voice kept telling me, “That’s a waste of money.”
Those voices were fine when I was on my own… Now in the present, I have to keep my parents’ voices subdued a bit. My wife definitely has her own voices too, and we ought to listen to them as well. Part of being in a relationship is being partners in investing too. Shared financial priorities are very important to a successful marriage.
Brita is much better than I am at spending savings on memories and mementos… She is also a good limiter to my guilty pleasures (cars, candy, and computers). I’ve taken the role of doing the research behind major purchases and investments and doing the taxes (you’re never quite as libertarian as you are during tax season). I try to save money by doing repairs and maintenance myself rather than hiring it out. We both try to keep each other focused on the small things too: cooking inexpensive, but healthy meals instead of eating out or making unhealthy convenience food, cutting down on expensive alcohol and carbonated beverages, conserving energy at home.
Future Life Dreams
So what is all that saving doing for us?
Preparing for the future!
And who knows what that future holds? Who can know. That’s why my personal policy is save as much as you can to feel comfortable, and then save a bit more just in case. I’m the same way with money as I am with time. Borderline excessive contingency. The future will hold things like buying houses, new cars (maybe another Miata?), having kids, raising kids, retiring, medical expenses (oh goodness, are we saving enough?). Money has to be there to get that white picket fence darn it!
The thing with the future though, is that it’s always getting closer. The future always arrives before you know it, so best start saving now instead of tomorrow. I’m not going to go into the benefits of compound interest and I’m sure you’ve heard about nest eggs and to start them sooner rather than later… But seriously, if you’ve been saving, great! Keep it up!
If you aren’t where you want to be, make a plan and don’t procrastinate. It’s too easy to say that you’ll start saving next week, month, or year when [insert expense here] goes away. But there will be another expense to take its place.
I’m not going to say I’m perfect. Here I am at 30, and I’m not where I should be. I don’t have life insurance or a will yet, and I had a goal to get those by 30. I said, “it’ll be easier after the construction season,” then it was “after vacation I’ll have more time,” “after the holidays things will calm down.” It’s the same story. If you let excuses stop you, there will always be another excuse.
To summarize, be like Brita. Don’t just make a goal–write it down. Put it out there to people who will hold you accountable. It’s okay if you don’t meet every goal by every deadline, but having the goals and making progress is the ultimate goal. If you track your goals, you can eventually get them checked off the list.
So what do I want with my future? Well Brita willing, I’m going to wrap this up with one last car anecdote and the only TV commercial that almost brought me to tears… Sorry for the shameless Mazda plug, but I can’t think of any better representation of Past, Present, and Future.
Meet Your #LoveBlog Hosts!
Brita Long is the pink and sparkly personality behind the Christian feminist lifestyle blog, Belle Brita. While her first love will always be Paris, she lives happily with her husband Daniel Fleck in the Atlanta area.
Charlene is a 20-something wife and fur mamma living in Ohio. She uses her blog, Enduring All Things, to inspire young wives to keep God first and their husbands second in everything they do.
Alessia is a historian, social entrepreneur, political junkie and manquée professional comedian. Never to be seen in society without her standard Ray-ban Wayfarers, rose-gold iPhone, and ash-blonde Chelsea blow dry. Still the most (in)eligible Catholic bachelorette, with a love of fine wines, Jane Austen, and all things beautiful. Mistaken by her own mother for Amy Pond from Doctor Who. Blogs about life in London at The Blond Pond.
Enter the #LoveBlog2017 Giveaway!
I am so excited to include a giveaway for this year’s #LoveBlog! It started 02/01/2017 and runs through the end of the month. US residents only. I love my international readers, but international giveaways are more difficult to manage legally.
The winner will receive: $35 to Zazzle, $50 to Ankit, $25 to Sebamed, a free Couple Checkup assessment, TRRTLZ bracelets, VDazzled earrings, and $25 to Blush.
I will verify the winning entry myself before emailing the winner during the first week of March. If the winner doesn’t respond, I’ll start the process over again.
What are you doing now to prepare for the future you want to live?