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My wife and I had some intense financial discussions this weekend.
We talked about our goals, our dreams, and the progress we’re making. We talked about timing and tradeoffs, options and shortcomings.
We know our goals — to have more time together as a family, spending that time experiencing the world around us through travel and carefree timelessness. We know our path there — minimize our spending and our stuff so we can focus our available money on paying off our debt (mortgage) while living as much of our dream as we can along the way (annual summer road trips, family activities, supporting my wife’s love of remodeling and my love of software and business).
After about 3 hours on Saturday, and 2 more on Sunday, there was only one conclusion we could come to: we’re doing well but we’ve got a long ways to go.
It’s hard to acknowledge that. We’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years — our only debt remaining is our mortgage; we’ve reduced spending in a lot of areas to maximize our available money so we can take even bigger steps toward our dreams.
The simple fact of the matter is that the gap between my income and our expenses (we’re a single-income household of 5) is still not wide enough for what we had hoped our next step to be.
After 2 years of effort and still coming up short, we had to decide what to do next.
We’re at our best when we’re working together to accomplish something. It wasn’t always this way but over the years we’ve really learned how to act as a team and when we do, there’s this empowering feeling that we can accomplish just about anything.
We needed a goal — something we could work on together and something that we could hit, but that wouldn’t be too easy. It needed to be something that would march us in the direction of our goal but we had done the numbers and knew that no single action was going to magically get us there in the next year.
We debated and deliberated and decided. We’re going to challenge ourselves to be more sustainably thrifty each month than the last. We’re calling it the Keep Thrifty Experiment and it’s something you can join in on too if you’re looking for something to help move you toward financial freedom.
I’ll announce, on the last Sunday or Monday of every month, what the challenge for the upcoming month is. I’ll give the focus area; you set your own target for what you want to accomplish and your plan on how to get there. I encourage you to join in by tweeting your goal/plan to me.
Every Sunday/Monday, I’ll put an update on how we’re doing against our goal and plan and feel free to tweet me yours — let’s support each other in this and Keep Thrifty!
- The whole point of the experiment is to make sustainable changes — shortcutting in an area one month only to have it explode in the next doesn’t get you closer to your goals
- Part of the fun here is pushing your boundaries and seeing what you can do without. Don’t be afraid to stretch outside your comfort zone; you never know what you might find!
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t achieve every goal — any progress is a step in the right direction
- Be creative and have fun :)
You can certainly participate without using an expense tracking tool, but I’d highly recommend that you use one. Many out there are using Mint or Personal Capital, but I’m using my own tool — Thrifty.
Thrifty is free and has no ads — it runs completely on donations. If you’re interested, take a look, sign up, and get a better understanding of your spending so you can be even better equipped to take on the challenge.
In addition, with each challenge, I’ll put out some helpful links to posts and articles that can help you set a goal and make a plan.