Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wealthy? Moi? Nuh-uh

I've read through some of my earlier posts, and realised that I make us sound semi-wealthy. Let me be absolutely clear, we are not even close to being wealthy. But we are nowhere near the poverty line either. maybe somewhere in the middle. We have been in some pretty tough spots at times though, particularly last year when husband lost his job straight after we returned from our dream holiday in America, which had cleaned out our bank account.
We could probably be better off financially than we are if we made different decisions with our money, but our priority list does not allow for that to happen. And I'm OK with that. Money was made for spending. I just believe my money should work as hard as I do.
I'll share our priority list to give you an idea of where Husband and I  channel our funds, but I want to be clear that its the opportunities we have that influence our priority list. For example, if I were a single mum coping on one income and one set of hands, this list would need to look different. We all do the best we can for our kids in our own ways and our priorities are influenced by our own life experiences.
  1. Our children's education
  2. Being able to have our own home, instead of renting
  3. Being part of our children's day to day lives
  4. Giving our kids opportunities and activities such as dancing, swimming, Gymbaroo
  5. Enjoying quality holiday time with our kids and family, as often each year as we can
  6. Owning our own home in full
  7. Having a comfortable retirement, not too late in life.
See how owning my own home outright is right down there? It doesn't mean its not important, its just that other things are more important to me. Husband and I are both in reasonably paying jobs. Mine is good enough that we could live on just my income and so provide a stay at home parent - husband -  but only if we didn't send our daughter to private school and didn't let her do as much dancing as she does (14 classes a week!). There also wouldn't be any money for away from home holidays either, which we love. Staycations are fun too, but we love touring Australia with our girls, and our trip to America last year was a dream for all of us (cept poor Lolly who will look at the photo's of Disneyworld in a few years and be very, very, jealous).
Paying off our home is not as important to us as giving the girls the education we want for them. And unfortunately the school we fell in love with, will pay for our house twice over by the time both girls have had 13 years of education there. But the public schools in our area are not ones I'd be happy to send my daughters to, and although there are good ones out of area, we love the school we chose. The community is wonderful, the education principals and methods really work well for Miss M, and I really value that she will be able to go all the way to year 12 there. I should also mention all the opportunities she will get there that she would not get elsewhere (she will be going to China in yr 7, and to an underprivileged country in yr 10 to do aid work for example).
So its a fine balance for us all the time. Working enough to fund the life we want with our kids, (modest home and cars, great school, and frequent local holidays), not working so much that we miss their lives (first steps, school concerts, being a backstage dance mum, teaching them to ride bikes). We'll retire one day. We bought our home when I was 21, and husband 26. We haven't touched the mortgage since and don't intend to, so worst case scenario we will own it outright at 51 and 56. The girls will be grownup, although hopefully Lolly will still be at home then and Miss M will be thinking about giving me grandkids.
And in the meantime, I do still make sure money gets saved - short term goals like holidays and home improvements gets alot of it, but educational scholarships, shares, superannuation, and extra payments on the mortgage gets some too. My main trick for living the life I want is to keep out of debt. The mortgage is it, so our money each week can be channeled to other things.
I know some people criticise me for working full time when I don't have to, but we feel like we make the right decisions for our kids. We have other priorities in life as well, that aren't related so much to working or not working, like the values and morals we want our kids to have, but this was just to give you an idea of how we decide what to do with our money.
Do you have a priority list? I 100% recommend making one, it really puts the reason you work, or don't work, into perspective.

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