For sixteen years now we have been able to make it on a single income. As we see college on the horizon and car insurance increases, we are now at a stage in life where that may be changing as our financial goals are evaluated. But it was important to my wife and myself that one of us be readily available for our boys during their formative years.
For about the first two years of our older son’s life we each worked part-time with my wife caring for our child in the morning and my doing so in the afternoon. I understand others making different decisions; I realize that many may not have a choice in the matter. But at the time, we making it on what would be the equivalent of a single income was a priority.
After a couple of years, I then began working full time and my wife stayed with our children full-time. When it was time for our older son to begin school we chose a private school and over the years have continued to send our children to private schools. If we had it to do over again we might have chosen a different education path as we have paid a great deal in tuition and we can see benefits and drawbacks regardless of the choice school-wise.
Regardless of whether our financial goals and priorities were appropriate or misguided, what I’d like to emphasize is that what allowed us to pursue our financial priorities at the time was largely because of what I am calling a wiser dollar strategy. Our home is moderate in size, less than 1500 square feet, and over forty years old. Although I spent eight years in graduate school going part-time, I had no student debt at graduation. And over the years we have consciously avoided some nonessential expenses. For instance, my wife and I did not have cable or satellite TV for nineteen years, we only added that this year.
When finances tightened we cancelled newspaper delivery, cancelled magazine subscriptions and did away with nonessential home services (fertilizing services, heating/air conditioner quarterly services, etc.). I usually try to fix whatever maintenance issue we have and am frequently successful, although not always as I have learned that sometimes calling a professional plumber is still the best option. Likewise for years I have sold stuff. I have sold toys from childhood, outgrown clothes of our children, books, cd’s, furniture, home decor, etc., etc. I have used the services of Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist and others I will write about in upcoming posts.
While I can look back and see ways our financial situation could be better today based on different decisions, I can also see that a wiser dollar approach helped us in so many ways. While the retirement account needs to be pumped up more than it has been, we have no debt other than a mortgage and are intent on keeping it that way. Yes there are aspects of our finances that we continue to address and there are less than wise financial choices that we have made and attempted to learn from. But all in all our most basic financial priorities sixteen years ago were addressed, largely because of some wiser dollar choices.
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photo credit: Sun, Son and Dad via Flickr cc License – 8/23/15 with no changes