I feel like I’m always working to keep my financial priorities balanced. There are three areas I focus on, and they all want a bigger piece of the pie:
- Savings, which includes Retirement, Education, and Emergency Fund
- Debt, our only one being the Mortgage
- The Present, meaning daily expenses as well as wants like a vacation, gourmet food, and so on
An increase in spending in any of these areas means a decrease in one or both of the others, so I am constantly trying to find the right balance for us. A few years ago, debt was the biggest priority, until we paid off everything but the mortgage.
Now, our biggest priority is building up savings so that we can pay for private school in a few years (and maybe pay off the mortgage too). But every once in a while, I get a hankering to really push that mortgage balance down and I have to remind myself why we’ve made savings a bigger priority than the mortgage.
I also have to regularly remind myself why it’s important to limit spending in The Present. Maintaining a certain quality of life is important to both my husband and me, and we don’t follow the strictest of budgets. But we are both pretty well-disciplined and not prone to impulse purchases, especially big ones. Nevertheless, sometimes I’ll find that I have to talk myself out of stopping at a drive-thru for a soda when it’s 100+ degrees outside and a cold fizzy drink would really hit the spot. But I do talk myself out of it most of the time, because I’d rather be able to pay for private school and those $2 spends add up over time.
Occasionally, I long for a time when I won’t have to think twice about spending $2 for a soda. But most of the time, I’m just grateful that I have the option at all.