Take stock!

AJ: A little over a year ago Kirby and I were in desperate need of a break from life. Our jobs were as demanding as ever, we had spent six months mourning the loss of a sweet kitten and we needed room to breathe. We packed our dog and provisions in our car and headed to Austin to a friend’s condo on the lake with big plans to do nothing (which just happens to be how we enjoy our vacations!).

someecards.com - I'd say today was a success in that I accomplished my goals of being lazy and doing nothing.

Searching for “more”
AJ: Somewhere along the way we started talking about this concept of “more”. Always needing more time in our workday, always wishing we had more time to spend with family and friends, always feeling like there was more we needed. I started to wonder what would happen if we just started to save more. Eliminate some of the chaos of always adding things to our plate without removing anything else by starting to eliminate more purchases. That soon turned into cooking at home more. Focusing on our long-term goals more. Listening to what our hearts and bodies were telling us.

KJ: We made a pact to cut our food budget from then on to try and save a little extra money for our emergency fund (and little did we know at the time, but help build up some funds for our next house downpayment). We started with our trip and with preplanning. Angela had mapped out our meals for our stay down to what restaurants close-by we would want to visit as well as some throwback meals of chili dogs and Frito pie.

A notebook to help you plan
AJ: That weekend we started my now beloved Moleskine notebook of planning. Meals and food, clothing and home goods, gifts, gas, miscellaneous expenses all make their way into my daily calculations. As much as I love lists and notebooks (serious school supply addiction, no joke) we’re ultimately striving to cut expenses each day so that we can sit on our patio and drink beer for a really long time when we’re older, because right now, that’s what sounds awesome to us.

KJ: My methods of budgeting usually have less foresight in that I can’t really carve out upcoming expenses in Quicken or Mint.com, but it’s great for our planning with the way Angela tracks items in advance. Then, I watch Mint.com to make sure all items are being categorized properly, so we can “close” out each month on track.

Make your list
AJ: I encourage you to start by making your own list of life goals, both personal and professional, realistic and aspirational, and start digging through your life to see what changes you need to make in order to realize those dreams. Our dreams still require a lot more money than we currently have, so we’re pushing on with the sometimes longer than we like hours and fewer days of doing nothing than we deserve for now. So in addition to our list of goals we’re always looking for ways to make it all work. Ways where we can way underspend in some categories so that we might be able to make an extra home improvement project fit into our month without touching savings or going over budget, ways where we can do even more with even less.

KJ: You can’t achieve goals you never set, so half the battle is simply setting goals and keeping them front of mind. Some people write it on a piece of paper on their nightstand and read it daily while others write it on a mirror to read each morning. Although a little nerdy, I keep mine in PowerPoint to review periodically and for the monetary goals, I keep track of them on Mint.com.

Planning together for a better “us”
AJ: I like to think that our unified passion for building our dreams together has made us a better us. It has opened up communication between us that otherwise wouldn’t exist and has forced us both to really look at what we spend individually and as a couple to better prioritize our lives. Plus, pretty soon I’m going to need a new notebook and that’s awesome.

    When was the last time you took stock?
    Share with us your goals and aspirations.

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