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Can one job be better than two?

AJ: Having one job is often more than most of us can handle, but what happens when life throws you a curve ball and you need to find a way to make more? Many families find themselves in situations where they’re forced to choose the function of multiple jobs in order to make ends meet – but is another job really the right answer?

Over the years Kirby and I have come across a varied and fascinating lot of successful people, all of whom have lead very unique lives that took very different paths. I like to think we’ve learned a thing or two from their experiences, so here goes!

Before you get a second job, consider what the cost of that second job will be.
- How much time will it take you to get from your first job to your second job?
- How much gas will it take you to get from your first job to your second job, and then back home?
- How much of your sanity and physical well-being are you sacrificing in the amount of time it takes you to transition from job one to job two?
- And finally, is there a better way?

Opportunities within opportunities
Many companies offer opportunities for a second job within a first job, if you will, by way of overtime. Even individuals who are salaried can sometimes be eligible to work and receive payment for overtime hours without having to commute at all, so before looking outside of your current role, seek additional opportunities to find value in the position you currently hold.

Milk your benefits!
Kirby and I work for fundamentally different companies that offer drastically different benefits, both unique and beneficial in their own ways. Look for additional cost savings in the benefits you already have:

- Does your company offer free or subsidized meals? Kirby’s company provides free fruit, which seems insignificant, but cut my fruit-buying need in half which adds up.
- Does your company offer incentives for carpooling or riding your bike to work? We have several friends who receive ride share and bike-to-work benefits in the form of cash back on their paychecks – that’s an incredible area of free money that most individuals don’t take advantage of.
- Can you drop your outside personal trainer or gym membership in exchange for the at-work facilities?
- Bring your lunch! This seems simple but think about it – when you leave for lunch every day you’re spending more than you would were you to make your lunch and you’re presumably using additional gas to get there. See what happens to your wallet and your waistline if you bring your work to lunch for a month instead of eating out. You’re welcome!

So what if your situation is more about two incomes costing you more by incurring the cost of child care, a costly commute or your health & well being? Few people have sympathy for those dual income families who are faced with the issue of having two jobs but struggle to make ends meet due to circumstance, but this is a huge burden for a lot of families. If you make $35,000 pre-tax and the child care costs for your two children are over $25,000 a year, your job may actually be COSTING you money over staying home with your kids. Of course there are all kinds of considerations in this scenario, but truly put pen to paper with regards to the input and output of dollars when considering whether two incomes really are better than one.

    What career/life balance decisions do you struggle with?
    What do you value most about your job?
    Can you find additional benefits in your job that are currently untapped?

Can one job be better than two? is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

New Year’s resolutions: month one gut check

KJ: Part of any proper goal setting process is to periodically check to see the progress (or lack thereof) you have made, so you can hold yourself accountable. And with that, we have committed (no, not been committed) to accomplishing all of our goals for the year. Read more about our intro post on our 2014 goals here. Here’s our update after having a month to progress toward our goals, and let’s see what we have been able to accomplish.

AJ’s 2014 goals (drum roll, please!):
- Read 5 specific books. BLEH! I read one professional-development-type book and were it not for a work trip with a four hour flight that lacked TVs I wouldn’t have made it through. Even though it doesn’t count, I also read 3 mindless books to save the creative side of my brain from shriveling. I’m almost done with my 2nd book, too, which was supposed to be a fun book, but clearly I didn’t read enough about it prior to buying it, as it’s actually about murder. Bad call!
- Learn to knit. I looked at my knitting needles twice this month. I’m considering this progress. I also think that this might be more of a late-February goal because early February isn’t looking so hot.
-Learn how to bake. This is happening. I made cupcakes from a box without screwing them up AND I made homemade cream cheese frosting which is probably more like cooking than anything like baking but still. Let’s consider this a success! ALSO, I made biscuits from scratch (no yeast required, BUT I have purchased yeast, so hey, there’s that!). And I bought bread flour, which clearly implies intent to bake. Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls and bread are all on the horizon. Commence carbo-loading!
-Make money money, shake money money. It’s only been a month, people, let’s give this one some time to breathe :)
- Just say no. Thus far I’ve gone over and above on not drinking for one week of the month, actually not drinking for a solid 18 days! I was not quite the social leper I feared I may become, and I felt as good physically as I had hoped. This might convert into allowing only one week a month where I do drink, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s only January after all.
- Bring in $100 more per month. Even as I made this resolution I wasn’t sure how we’d get there and while we didn’t quite MAKE $100 more this month, we did all kinds of things that reduced costs. Thanks to the pair of AT&T sales kids who interrupted my dumpling making at 8 pm we got Time Warner to lower our bill by $35 a month and kick in an extra DVR. We also replaced all of our light bulbs with super energy efficient light bulbs which helped contribute to $112 in savings on our monthly bills. We saved LOTS of money by purchasing gift cards for home improvement items from Cardpool.com. And lastly, we saved several hundred dollars on the installation of our kitchen backsplash by installing it ourselves. Not too shabby!
Backsplash Counters Cupcakes and Biscuits Photos
-Maintain my ideal weight. I made it 40% of the way to getting back down to my ideal weight. I had hoped to get there by the end of January so as to start February from a place of maintenance but given all the schedule and meal plan changes, I’m not shocked I didn’t hit that target. I have worked out a minimum of two times a week, though, which accomplishes an important piece of this goal. We also plan to do the Advocare Cleanse again starting in mid-February (thus our carbo loading in early February), so by the end of February I hope to be at my ideal weight.
-Create and maintain a garden. The seeds are purchased, the drive is there, if only the weather would stop freaking out (it snowed again yesterday in Texas, for real) long enough to stop freezing (thank you Tom Thumb for carrying these new seeds on the cheap)! March is the month of planting according to plant whisperer Bob so I’m standing by, on the ready!

KJ’s 2014 goals:
- Read 5 books. I started reading the book American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left Are Both Wrong – Commonsense 101 Solutions to the Economic Crises. I haven’t quite finished it, but I am about half of the way through. It’s a book from an economist I follow, and there’s definitely a unique approach he takes to his writing style. He even has a fake back-and-forth conversation with the President…a bit quirky, yes, but I’ve been meaning to have this read from when it first was published.
- Professional development. This goal relates to continuing to invest in my own “human capital” (i.e. unique earning potential from the ability and skills used to generate an income). I haven’t learned any new technologies lately, but I did earn two hours of Continuing Education (CE) this month. Also, I’ve placed a larger emphasis on prospecting more (…that’s half the battle, right?), and I’m heading to a technology conference this week, so progress is being made.
- Maintain my ideal weight. I have lost a couple of pounds, but some of the working out has fallen by the wayside (quickly). I have been able to workout twice per week for most weeks (except this last week was only one time, so hopefully that’s an anomaly).
- Double blog readership. Thanks to a shout-out we received from BudgetsAreSexy.com, the month was off to a great start! We haven’t quite reached the audience we want to build good personal finance and savings habits, but January was a good start to the year!

OUR combined 2014 goals:
- Work out twice per week. Mostly accomplished. We were able to do this for most weeks (except the last one, as AJ attempted to sacrifice a body part on behalf of throwing a great shower and wasn’t up to snuff) so all-in-all, not too shabby.
- Increase our net worth by 35%. And this is probably one of the least successful months we’ve had. From having to pay for a fence ourselves (since our neighbor backed out from any help in the final hours – we’re not bitter, we’re not bitter, we’re not bitter) to poor market performance for January, we haven’t made any progress on this goal yet! Such is the ebb and flow of expenses over time (and markets too!), so hopefully we can make up some ground in the remaining eleven months…

    What’s the most challenging resolution you’ve taken on?
    How do you motivate yourself to stick to it?
    Where do you find your renewed commitment?

New Year's resolutions: month one gut check is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

New year, new resolutions

Someecards I hope you're not too exhausted from your yearly visit to the gym on New Year's DayAJ: A new year always really inspires me. I’m a total “new year, new you” sucker, and I’m so stubborn that resolutions usually stick with me, so I like to really push myself (at least for a few months which I think is pretty good considering how the rest of the world treats resolutions!). Kirby and I have totally different approaches to setting goals. My approach is that I want to take on totally attainable things that I’m not currently doing but could and should be doing. Kirby takes on a more reach-for-the-stars mentality, pushing himself to super-human lengths that might not be physically possible (love you, babe!). Either way, goal setting is an important part of growing and improving!

Like many people, our goals span both our personal and professional lives where finances are an underlying focus of all that we do across the board.

AJ’s 2014 goals (drum roll, please!):
- Read 5 specific books. Kirby pointed out in our post from Monday that I read constantly, they’re just mostly mindless books. Mindless=happy. In 2014, though, I’m committing to read mentally stimulating, boring, professionally beneficial books that lack plot and character development. And I’m going to love it.
- Learn to knit. I failed at this in 2013 despite my sister-in-law’s best efforts, loads of knitting needles, a ball of yarn and the beginnings of a scarf already provided to me. Her knitting is too pretty, and I’m too scared I’ll screw it up! But in 2014 I plan to screw up a lot of knitting because I lack domestic skills of this nature and I like learning new things.
- Learn how to bake. Just suggesting this as a goal for myself caused me stress. Our family and friends will tell you that I’m actually a good cook but baking and I don’t get along. There are specific steps you have to follow, things have to be measured, it’s all too much. But my husband grew up with a mother who did things like make homemade bread and my sister-in-law works with yeast like it’s not even a thing, so in 2014 I’m committing to buying yeast for the first time, at the very least.
- Make money money, shake money money. Everyone I know has goals related to their salary, and I’m at a point where I hope to reach the goal I set for myself going into my career within this year. The hardest part about declaring this a goal is that the possible disappointment that will accompany this goal in 2015 if it doesn’t come into fruition will be rough, but I’m declaring this a goal on a leap of faith and banking on those boring professional books to get me there :) (and maybe some hard work and determination if I can fit it in with the knitting and baking).
- Just say no. For one week a month I’ll go totally alcohol free. No occasional glass of wine after work, no margaritas on the weekend. 7 solid days of living a healthier, more focused lifestyle.
- Bring in $100 more per month. I haven’t cracked the nut on this one which probably means I’ll struggle to accomplish it but creativity is where I shine so I’m determined to find a way.
- Maintain my ideal weight. This has to be discussed annually otherwise I’ll fall off the horse more times than I can count. I’d like to be my ideal weight for the entire year post-January (you have to allow yourself time to actually get to that weight before you can maintain it, I hear).
- Create and maintain a garden. I am the child of a master gardener and now have a beautiful yard that is begging for homegrown fruits and veggies, so this year my dad (the Bob) and I are going to build the garden beds, plant our bounty and then it will be up to me to keep the little buggers alive and edible. No pressure.

KJ’s 2014 goals:
- Read 5 books. So I do almost no leisure reading outside of articles, news, professional publications, etc., so I’ve got my sights set on some books I would like to read throughout the year. This is less than one book every two months…should be doable, right?
- Professional development. Continue to invest in my own “human capital” (i.e. unique earning potential from the ability and skills used to generate an income) by learning new technologies, keeping up-to-date with world-wide developments and continuing education (CE), and emphasizing both business development through prospecting as well as professional relationships.
- Maintain my ideal weight. Much like Angela’s comment, it’s best for me to keep this front of mind too. I come from a time where I used to work out constantly throughout HS, but I’m a bit of a lazy person these days when it comes to working out. Eat better and workout more, here we come!
- Double blog readership. So it seems strange to mention this to our readers, but….you all have helped build it thus far to what it is today (thank you!). So how can you be a part of our goal? You share our posts with just one other person…easy enough…plus it helps us all be just a little bit smarter with our finances when we work together and grow our knowledge together to make “financial independence” a reality we all can achieve!

Phew! Even though we’re quite open with this blog, it’s still hard to articulate our goals to the rest of the world. Maybe that will be the motivation needed to see that all of these are accomplished by this time next year? Hold us to it!

OUR combined 2014 goals (his, hers, ours concept – important to work together!):
- Work out twice per week. This seems lame and at certain points will be no big deal, however, there are certain weeks/months of our year where we get really, really busy and even committing to twice per week seems absurd. This means more super early mornings spent together on the floor of our work out room crying in pain and telling each other we hate each other. It’ll be fun, really!
- Increase our net worth by 35%. This is a calculated number and aligns with our overall future planning goals. It seems like a really big goal this year, but with the bulk of our planned expenses on updates to our home out of the way, new tires, brakes and batteries in both of our cars and curtailed spending on the horizon, we really feel like this is obtainable. We’re at a point in our lives where our savings potential is greater than any return our accounts could earn (and it seems that will be true for quite a long time!), but we’re hoping for that date some time where we can earn more than our incomes…might be a LONG ways off, but we’re working toward it!

    Do you have any recurring New Year’s resolutions?
    What are your new goals for this next year?
    We would enjoy hearing how you’re going to accomplish your goals.

New year, new resolutions is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish. Card courtesy of www.someecards.com.

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

Starting fresh: learning to set achievable goals

Someecards Thank you for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year's resolutionsKJ: It’s official, this is our last post of 2013…2014 *ding ding ding* here we come! As is almost always top of mind when heading into a new year, we’re going to talk about those good old New Year’s resolutions. You know, the answers to what are your goals and what do you hope the new year will bring? We all get that feeling of setting high aspirations for the start of the year only to find that a month later we (1) haven’t done anything to get on track, (2) realize the goal wasn’t so attainable, and (3) we may no longer even remember the goals we set. For this post, we hope to help outline some ways to not only set goals, but set BETTER, more attainable goals.

2013 wasn’t much of a different year for us from a goal setting standpoint. We had several goals we were on target for, some we didn’t address at all, and others we wish had been a larger focus. Just like with all aspects of our lives we set goals for where we hoped to take this blog and happily met many of them thanks to our loyal readers. We hope you share our blog with friends of yours that could use financial guidance.

AJ: 2013 was fairly remarkable for me with regards to upholding my New Year’s resolution. I mentioned previously that I gave up shopping and did far better than I think anyone would have guessed was possible. I fell short on some of my other goals, though, which is fueling my 2014 resolution fire fiercely. I love having specific goals, and this time of year always excites me.

AJ & KJ: For the goals we did accomplish, there were some clear distinctions that made them different than the rest:

Set goals that are finite
They didn’t have a day eons into the future or a target with no particular end. I.e. they weren’t simply “increase our net worth” or “read.” Instead, they had specific dollar, date, or resources outlined.

Break the goals into small chunks
While large goals may be harder to accomplish, they can be much more easily accomplished if you set periodic milestones along the way. Using a marker for every couple weeks or every month is often a good way to see that you’re on track. For our goals, we had a simple checklist that I looked over each month to see our progress.

Don’t create goals around something you cannot control
Setting goals for something you have little-to-no control of is futile. Don’t say, we need to increase our net worth by $X and just expect to get there. There could be an economic pullback that thwarts (partially or significantly) your efforts. Instead, set parameters about what you CAN control: your income and your expenses. Set regular monthly goals for each that can help you achieve your net worth goal, but understand there could be outside factors that cause you to achieve that goal quicker (or slower).

Create a mix of goals
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. It’s helpful to have varied goals that span various disciplines: financial, tasks to learn, projects to complete, personal vs. professional, etc. If your goals are all just about getting healthier, and you set goals for working out, eating better, and changing some of those habits, slipping up on one will often cause a domino effect for your other goals, so tackling things one step at a time with less interrelated goals may help you accomplish them all just a little bit better.

Make a list of HOW you can achieve them
Putting pen to paper and creating a list of not just WHAT you need to do, but HOW you can actually achieve it will dramatically improve the chances of success of your goals. For our savings goals, we have targets for retirement, non-retirement, short-term vs. long-term goals, and we break it up into manageable chunks for each month. Not that every month will be exactly at, above, or below target, but the hope is to keep our eye on the prize and know how it is we can actually get to our goals. This process can also shed light on how realistic your goals are too. If you set a goal and then realize you don’t even know HOW to get there, then maybe it’s time to rethink how realistic or possible the goal is.

Set goals for yours, mine, and ours
Much like our post on his, hers, and ours where we discussed merging or separating finances, it’s important to look at setting both individual goals AND joint goals. Think about what you want to accomplish and how you can accomplish it, but also look at setting goals as a couple that you can work on together. Sometimes the joint goals are a little easier to accomplish since you have two people to help keep an eye on the progress to make sure you don’t slip up.

So, what goals have we set?
We each have set goals for:

  • read at least five books throughout the year (for Angela, it is a specific list of professional books since she reads 2+ relatively mindless books a week) – AJ: Mindless seems a little extreme! :),
  • savings goals month-by-month,
  • workout goals – somehow these always creep up in our effort to be more healthy (but the progress over the years ebbs and flows), and
  • create & maintain a garden in our new backyard (this should help with our related workout goal too!)
  •  

      What are your New Year’s resolutions?
      What is in store for you next year?
      Do you have tips on setting goals for you and your family?

    Starting fresh: learning to set achievable goals is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish. Card courtesy of www.someecards.com.

    Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

    A year in review

    AJ: It’s been another incredible year for us. We’ve been abundantly blessed again and continue to be thankful for the lives we have. Here’s our 2013 in review!

    TECHNICALLY we got two kittens (do you remember seeing Swiffer cat?) in 2012, but in 2013 they destroyed a lot of stuff.

    Coffee Pot Broken By Cats

    And moved a lot of stuff (seriously, they have Herculean strength).

    Kitty Litter Box Moved by Cats

    Two of our best friends got engaged!

    Sally and Justin Proposal

    We celebrated our third wedding anniversary.

    Kirby and Angela Wedding Picture with White Wall as Backdrop

    We bought a new house and officially survived the Icepocalypse 2013.

    Kirby and Angela New Home Purchase

    We moved and sold our first home.

    Bella in a Packing Box Ready to Move

    We took the trip of a lifetime part two (see how we planned: Travel: part one, two and three) to Spain and Italy with AJ’s parents.

    Retiro Park Madrid Kirby and Angela Photo

    Kirby and Angela on the Amalfi Coast

    Kirby’s brother got engaged to this beautiful woman!

    Russell and Amie Wedding Proposal

    We went to Napa (boy, did we ever go to Napa)!

    Restaurant Table in Napa With Lots of Wine Glasses

    Kirby and Angela Photo in Napa

    And we had the most celebration-filled year of our lives.

    Angela, Kirby and Family in Fort Worth Sundance Square

    Angela Kirby and Mimi at a Restaurant

    Angela and Kirby and Family in Napa

    Thank you to each of you for adding to our incredible year. This little project of ours continues to enrich our lives and our relationship and we hope we pass some of that onto each of you!

    KJ: And all the while, we never stopped budgeting and planning! See…who said budgeting can’t lead to excess amounts of fun!? So pull out that budgeting software of choice, and get your budgeting engines revved!

      What did your 2013 entail?
      Did you take any trips?
      Share with us how your year was!

    A year in review is copyrighted by TheSimpleMoneyBlog.com without consent to republish.

    Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. We feel strongly about only recommending products or services we use personally and/or believe will add value to you, our readers. Read more about our commitment to providing quality product recommendations.

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