We are halfway through the year (ah!) and I sat down this week to do a little bit of mid-year planning for the blog and my business. It involved the fun stuff: mapping out content, brainstorming ideas and events for my cookbook coming out this fall, and digging through my inspiration files. It also involved the not so fun stuff: finances and budgeting. Admittedly, I procrastinate that part as much as possible, until I can no longer avoid thinking about it. But, once I sit down and actually do the work, I always feel a lot better – like I have a clear plan and know what I need to do next. In reality, I should probably do that part first so I feel more relaxed and focused before I embark on the fun part. The process got me thinking about personal finances too, and how the same practices shift over when talking about all of those pit-in-your-stomach topics like savings and budgets.For most of my life I’ve taken a laid back approach about finances, budgeting, and savings – as long as I could pay my bills I just didn’t want to spend much time thinking about money. After we had kids though, I definitely felt a shift in my perspective. Having a kid makes you tackle a lot more “adult” topics than you probably care to think about it, it touches all aspects of your life, with finances being one of them.
Kids, savings, and budgets. Having a kid certainly made me want to be more responsible with money, to have more of a safety net – because now we have another human to take care of! But for me the real shift came from leaving my corporate jobto run my blog full-time. The jump enabled me to stay home with Jane and work in the fringe hours, which is a juggle most days but also a dream come true. For years though, I had considered my blog income to be fun-money (or money used to pay off student loans and help save for our house), on top of a stable salary. Making that shift to the blog being my full-time income was scary, and a perfect (and necessary) time to reassess where we were with our household budget.It’s funny that having a kid makes you want to be more responsible with money and start saving more, while at the very same time you’re bombarded with tons of brand new expenses you never had to worry about before. Clothes! Diapers! Baby gear! Oh, the baby gear. You could go broke spending money on the newest, flashiest baby gear. One way we’ve attempted to combat the money-pit of baby stuff is being more thoughtful about our purchases. I always scan our local yard sale group before we make a purchase for something (like kids toys. My mom has an amazing consignment shop near her house and scans it all the time for us for things like snowsuits, coats and baby gear! And then I try to focus on quality (and neutral!) items so that they can last if we decide to have more kids.
Making a (loose) plan.Since having a kid we’re also a little bit more purposeful about savings and budgeting. I often hear about these couples that sit down and have a monthly meeting about budgets and finances and family goals and I just think – wow, good for them, but that’s so not for me, ha! We looselyuse one of those online budgeting apps. We don’t stick to it in a strict way, but it acts as a bit of a checks and balances system to make us aware of where we’re spending and places we can cut back when we go overboard. Having a kid definitely made me feel a bit more risk averse, so we balance things we want now (home renovations!) with making sure we’re saving enough for retirement, for college, etc.Lessons learned.I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned since we became parents is that communication is key! I hate talking about money! It makes me anxious and worrisome, but I always feel better after we discuss things and have a clear plan. I’ve also learned that it’s alwaysa work in progress. Particularly in owning my own business now, there are ups and downs month-to-month with projects and income. And as homeowners, there are sometimes surprise expenses that come up, so we have to keep reassessing and adjusting the plan as we go. But we can still have fun and be responsible with money at the same time. We just did a big anniversary trip to London, but we were thoughtful about our plans to find the best deals and made other compromises in our budget to make it happen!
Now, speaking of fun I am very excited to be partnering with Fidelity and MEFA to attendThe WGBH Fun Fest that they are sponsoring! We are big WGBH fans at our house and will be at the event in Boston on July 14th, for a day of kids-activities, music, and lots of ice cream. We look forward to experiencing the U.Fund Dreams Tour activation to learn more about college savings, while Jane has fun coloring, and playing games. I hope to see you there!
Please note: I partnered with Fidelity and MEFA to share my perspective on family and finances for this post. All opinions, images and content are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site!