When you think about your bank account or finances, how does it make you feel? Nervous, worried, anxious, guilty, hope-filled, secure, happy? This past year, my husband and I made less money than we had in any other time in our married life. Did we sweat the ending balance each day in our bank account? Yes, and eventually no.
Before my husband left his professional workplace to take a gamble on a new career, we made sure we had enough in our account to cover nearly six months’ worth of what his previous job contributed to our income. We had lowered our living expenses the year before, and this meant in lean times my income could cover almost all of our expenses if necessary (this would be beans and rice lean—but we knew we could do it if needed). So we went on this venture with a safety net in place.
Still, when taxes were due and the car needed repairs and new tires—I got nervous. I wondered how strong our safety net would remain if we had to take chunks out of it too often. We managed the tires and repairs on our salaries…the taxes this time would have to come out of savings, and we recognized that planning ahead for this expense would be necessary in the future (normally the funds were available and saved in checking several months prior to the tax deadline—this year those funds just weren’t there–they had to be spent on necessities). The daily balance on the checking account became worrisome.
As the year of the career experiment cruised on–we discovered that we had a new aptitude for living on less. (We had always been frugal, but in some ways we took it to a new level.) We discovered the pinch didn’t exist as time went on, and we learned to live on what we had and then lived on even less. I believe for many people, we acclimate our financial lives to what our checking account says, but wouldn’t it be better to acclimate our checking accounts to suit the needs of our personal lives. We spend because it is there, or we pull back from spending because it is not there. Why does money control us—shouldn’t the opposite be true?
My family will be moving soon. Our income will be higher. Yet, I don’t plan on changing the spending plan for day to day purchases or even bigger purchases. The new plan means using this new income to increase our savings and retirement portfolio, to gradually eliminate the mortgage we have left to pay, and to use our money to create the dreams we have for our family.
Do I worry about my checking account—not today—maybe in the future—but with a strong desire to make my money work for my family instead of working for my money—I think those worries will be little and less often.
Do you worry about your checking account or does it make you hopeful?