Saturday, January 28, 2012

Making Our Home Our Castle

One of our goals this year is to get a better handle on our family budget.  As we hurtle toward retirement, being able to live comfortably when we are spending well below our income is a big goal.

Both of us have seen far too many people need to keep working well past when they would rather have retired because their expenses were too great to be able to stop and enjoy their lives.  We've also seen far too many people retire, and then have to find some other part-time employment or something else to cover rising medical or other expenses that weren't planned for earlier.

We're very blessed in that we have the means to live well, because we have both worked very hard to get us to this point and continue to do so.

But that doesn't mean we ought to just take it for granted that will always be the case, or that we shouldn't be more thoughtful about how we use our resources.  Using them more wisely is always a good goal. 

One way to enjoy what we already have more while spending less is to get our home where we want it to be -- comfortable, cozy, inviting, less cluttered -- so that spending time at home is preferable to going out, spending more money and buying crap you don't need.

I've been looking around our house lately with that sort of eye toward what is working for us and what is not.

For what is not working?  I've been trying to come up with better solutions to organize, reorganize, rearrange, re-do or find some way to make what isn't working into something much better.  And I've challenged myself to figure out a way to do this without spending a lot of extra cash wherever possible -- flexing my creative muscles, so to speak, to keep my wallet from having to flex, too.

It's a good skill to re-acquire.

When we were first married, we had very little because we were both still in college and paying tuition and books costs took up most of our income every year.  Now?  We've gotten used to a cycle of earning and spending at a higher level, which is truly the obverse of what you need to be able to do in retirement when spending at a lower level and being happy with less makes your retirement nest egg stretch farther.

It's mostly theory and decluttering at this point in terms of our house.  Over the course of the next year, though, I'm planning on taking on a few projects around the house or rearranging things so that we get the house where we really want it and can enjoy it.  In addition, I'm hoping to work on finding ways to really enjoy what we already have -- having a family movie night and watching something we already own or can get with our netflix membership instead of going out and paying premium prices for something in theaters; making homemade pizza dough and a pizza for it instead of ordering delivery; that sort of thing.

I also want The Peanut to learn to be smarter with whatever she earns by teaching her to respect and think about her purchases.  It's a great skill to have, and one that I have to really work at sometimes -- I don't want her to fall into that same category but, instead, to be more conscious of how she does things.  That can only serve her well in the long run.

How do you take on this challenge at your house?  Do tell!

(Photo of Cinderella's castle at Walt Disney World by Christy Hardin Smith.)

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