Thursday, February 24, 2011

Financial Disaster Preparedness

Every year at work, we get an emergency plan. 

Where to go in case of fire, how to handle a bomb threat, where to go for a hurricane, etc.  I usually just file it away and pray I miss the fire drill.

But one of my recent obsessions has been disaster preparedness.  (Thank you, Glenn Beck.)

My family sat down and talked about where we would go, what we would bring, how we would survive if disaster struck.  And thanks to my aunt’s coupon tips, I’ve been able to start a small stockpile with using my same grocery budget as I’ve always had.  (Coupons are amazing!  I’m kicking myself for not using them forever!!!)

In addition to my small stockpile of necessities, I’m also working on making a financial disaster preparedness kit.  Something I can just grab & go if I have 5 minutes to get everything & get out.  (Or if you are stuck at a hospital, something you can get someone else to bring you.)

Here is the list I have developed:
·        A copy of our will (Note to self to update it and add my 3rd child - whoops!)
·        List of all bank accounts
·        Most recent loan statements – mortgage, auto, student, etc…
·        List of all credit/debit cards with account & phone numbers
·        A medical power of attorney for my husband and I.
·        A copy of every family member’s social security card & birth certificates
·        CASH!!!  And a checkbook!
·        Extra keys
·        Copies of all insurance policies – or at least a list of the policies, number, value, agent, etc…
·        A list of medications, prescriptions
·        A list of emergency contacts such as family and bosses’ names & phone numbers.
·        A list of every bill with approximate amount due, due date, account numbers and payment addresses

My box is slowly taking shape.  If you can think of more, I would love some suggestions on things to add. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Sweetheart Banquet

One month ago, we achieved something better than platinum status at American Express…we became debt free!  But my poor husband can’t shake the “debt free” intensity…

Saturday night, we had our church Sweetheart Banquet.  My husband and I were picked to play the Newlywed Game.  (We won last year, but I that certainly didn’t give us any confidence.)  One of the questions that was asked to me was

If we won the lottery, what would be the first thing my husband would do:

a)     Pay off debt
b)     Buy a new house
c)      Buy a new car
d)     Take an exotic vacation

First, we don’t play the lottery…EVER.  I might buy a Powerball ticket if I’m going to the store with someone that is buying one.  (That’s happened twice since I turned 18.)  I can’t stand to waste even a dollar, and to me, the lottery is a waste.  If I’m going to gamble, I’m going to play the roulette tables at a casino.  At least there I have a 50/50 chance.

Since our home is currently on the market and we’re dying to build a house large enough for 2 adults, 3 kids, 3 dogs, and other various animals I’m sure to come, I immediately said BUY A NEW HOUSE.  All the other questions – I wasn’t so sure of my answer, but I knew we’d get this one right.

They bring the husbands out and ask them the questions.  What does my husband say, “Pay off debt.”  I could’ve killed him.  I stomped on his foot (with my brand new high heels) and said, “We don’t have any!” 

He replied, “I know, but if we did that’s what I do first.”

I felt like a dog chasing his tail.  Needless to say, we did not win the game.  And even now I’m scratching my head over the answer.  I guess we’re just gazelle intense zombies that the debt free status is still too new for us to comprehend.  You hand us money and we immediately try to pay off something…

The Circus Circus

As promised, here’s our circus spending run down

$10.59 – Dinner at Sam’s Club (for 4 people!!!! – best deal of the night!)
$4 – 2 programs
$20 – 2 winky blinkies (a travesty!)
$13.50 – 2 tubs of popcorn & 2 drinks
$6 – 1 pony ride

Grand Total of $54.09 for a wonderful night.  I was beyond thrilled seeing as how I only withdrew $60 from the ATM!  My son is already talking about next year…

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Special vs. Spoiled

So this weekend something very exciting is happening in my house.  Something I’ve dreamed about doing for years…

We’re taking the kids to the circus! 

I am so ridiculously excited – way more than any adult should ever be about a circus.

As a kid, I loved the circus.  I still have incredibly vivid memories of being in the car on the way - we always went at night, and pulling in and the civic center was all lit up.  Our family and my cousin’s family would go together.  I can close my eyes and perfectly picture them turning off the lights and the crowd waving their “Winky Blinkies.”

Now, we were not rich by any means.  Today’s standards would have probably classified us as poor.  I have no idea how my parents afforded to take their family of five to the circus, but they did it.  We always got popcorn and cotton candy – and that was usually it. 

But I remember the year my parents bought us “Winky Blinkies.”  That was a big deal.  We couldn’t afford just to throw money away every year on a new one.  We actually saved them and took them back year after year.   I remember longing after a giant character balloon.  (Which my parents rightly knew would be a total waste of money.) 

My husband and I both had amazing childhoods that we wouldn’t trade for anything, but I remember wanting a “Winky Blinky” so bad.  And I think that leads us to overindulge our kids at times.  (But that’s for a therapist to figure out.)

In this “disposable” society, how many of us moms would have our children keep a $10 toy, year after year, to only take it to the circus?  We’d say it wasn’t worth it.  But that was a lot of money (3 kids x 3 toys = $30) to my parents.

Which brings me to a very interesting point, how do you know the difference between spoiling and something special?   We are in a place, financially, we can do things for our children that we couldn’t do for them a year ago.  But I never want to have children who think that they get a toy every time they go to the store.  Or isn’t satisfied with a Winky Blinky. 

This weekend will be an interesting test of how we balance our financial freedom and parental restraint.   Stay tuned next week for the run down of our spending…