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Finally had our financial family meeting + whatever else is on my mind

June 15th, 2011 at 08:06 pm

We finally found some time to sit down together and settle our unresolved "extra money" issue. There had been some side discussions between two of us at random times over the past week, but every night it seemed like we were too busy and/or tired and all of a sudden it would be bedtime.

Today AA went to bed at a reasonable time so we had a chance to talk. We found it wasn't that hard to come up with some guidelines; encouragingly, they were pretty much in line with what we'd been following informally, but now we have some rules so there won't be differing expectations and possible hurt feelings.

So for things like selling one's personally owned items (books, records, clothing), the person selling it gets to keep the money for themselves. For surveys and Mechanical-Turk type stuff, the person doing the surveys gets to keep the cash/gift cards for themselves.

For other sources of income such as freelance jobs, overtime and bonuses, we're going to accumulate the money in the checking account and then, at the end of each month, we'll decide how to divvy it up. We're thinking we'll agree on a percentage or lump sum to distribute equally to each of us, and then put the rest toward debt, unless there's something else we want or need and can agree on putting all or part of the money toward that.

While we were at it, I ran through some other aspects of our personal finances just to make sure they were aware of them and on the same page. For instance, that if we stay the course we'll be out of student loan debt in less than five years. That if we wanted to move to England in four years, and stayed on our current EF savings course, we could use our EF (which should be about about US$37,000 by then) for moving expenses and/or toward a down payment on a new place.

We also briefly discussed what we're putting our discretionary money toward--travel, cleaning, cable, spending money--and found that we're in agreement about the current amounts as they are.

So the only thing that's changing is that we'll save larger amounts of extra money in the checking account and decide together how to use it. I like this because it'll mean a family meeting nearly every month, so I'll feel more sure that we're all informed and in agreement about our budget and financial progress as a whole.

***

We emptied AA's piggy bank--we put all our spare and found change there, and have replaced quarters with bills several times to get soda money--and it was about $120! I already have $130 in the checking account for her, so that's $250. I guess we'll build up to $1000 and then open another CD for her. She already has a $1000 CD as well as about 275 pounds in NT's UK savings account. Not bad for a 1-year-old!

***

My sister, niece and nephew are coming for a visit this Friday! We like our own space--especially having a smaller place--so we got them a hotel room. This marks only the third time any of us has had a visit from family, and it's always been this sister's branch. She and her husband and three kids came for our wedding/commitment ceremony; then my niece (her oldest kid) came a year later for a few days. Should be fun. We've planned a few things and are going to try really hard to fund it with our regular allowance; but NT has some eBay sales money that he will contribute if necessary.

I don't want us stressing about money while the family is here, so if we run through our spending money before the weekend's up, I'll find some money in the budget to make up the difference. So far we're going to take them to a neighborhood pizza place Friday night, then to a tiki bar/restaurant Saturday, and a Twins baseball game Sunday. (We've already paid for the tickets, at least, but all that food spending is going to add up, especially if we go for overpriced snacks at the game.)

We'll cook lunch for them Saturday and brunch on Sunday, so as long as they take care of their breakfast on Saturday and Monday, that should be it. I assume they'll pay for their own food at the restaurants and ballgame, especially since we treated them to a hotel room AND baseball tickets, so we only have to worry about our own food and drinks for those outings. The other things we're thinking about are just walks and free sightseeing--we live right across the street from the sculpture garden with the famous "Spoonbridge and Cherry" sculpture, for instance.

***

I applied for another job! This would be for the Minneapolis tourism board in a writing and editing job. Sounds really challenging but fun. I don't know if I've got enough writing history or if my writing samples will stand out--I'm not a flashy writer. Also I asked for $50K, so that might price me out. But I figured what the heck. I'm not desperate, so I might as well shoot for the stars. And really, that's not much more than what I'm making now, but something about it sounds really aggressive. Maybe because $50K is sort of my mental goal and has been for years. It seemed like I was gradually getting there, but since my company put the brakes on raises four years ago, I'm kind of stalled out in the high 40s.

If they don't think I'm underqualified, they might think I'm overqualified. I do have about a dozen years of proofreading/editing experience, and the job description said the minimum was two. So that's another reason they might not be thinking about $50K. Though the job sounds like it's a lot more authority and responsibility than my current one, so hopefully it's fairly well-paying.

So, we'll see. I'm at least making my current job more bearable; my new contractor is a lot more capable than the one we got rid of, so I see her shouldering a nearly equal share of the workload and client-facing responsibility, eventually. Since I'm not technically her supervisor and she makes over twice as much as me, I'm not gonna be shy about giving her work and responsibility! Taking on a bunch of extra hasn't gotten me much of anything, so it seems fair enough to offload if I can.

***

I don't know if this is another one of my ideas that will go nowhere, but I've been thinking about doing a more public blog that I can show prospective employers. Thinking about how much I like to write about food (and take photos of it), I might do some kind of food blog. I'm about 90% vegan, so I'm not sure if I'll play up that part (vegan is considered an all-or-nothing proposition for most, though Oprah has recently kicked around a "mostly vegan" idea that seems to be picking up steam, so maybe I won't be such an unusual case soon.) I'm still deciding on a site name, then I guess I'll save up to purchase a domain and see what I need to learn to actually create a site. I'd love to do more of a searchable site with different interesting pages rather than just a blog with a big scroll of dated entries. But I don't know how difficult that would be. Anyway, the harder it is, the more practical job skills I'll probably acquire along the way.

I guess I've blabbed long enough. I just realized it's after 10 pm!

8 Responses to “Finally had our financial family meeting + whatever else is on my mind”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    I think you should consider putting AA's $250 into a mutual fund for her. There are a few decent choices for that amount. For example, I started my son in Pax World Balanced Fund and $250. Pax is a socially conscious fund shop and their World Balanced fund has a solid record.

    Glad to hear you had the "what to do with extra money" discussion and that it went well.

    Good luck on the job!

  2. ceejay74 Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Petunia! I didn't know I could open an account with such a small amount. I'll look into that one.

  3. Looking Forward Says:

    This just popped into my head as I was reading your post. I could picture a vegan blog being named "Food without Faces". I come up with silly things, but hey, that might inspire you.

  4. LuckyRobin Says:

    Do your families (other than this sister) have issues accepting your family arrangement? Nosy question is nosy, and feel free to ignore if it's not something you wish to talk about, but I just find your family so unique and interesting that I get curious as to how you live it in the real world sometimes (as opposed to the blogosphere), especially considering how unaccepting the real world can be of anything that is different.

  5. ceejay74 Says:

    LF, that's so funny--I was coming up with names that had "Faceless" or "Without a Face" in them too! I was also considering "Unruly Vegan" (in that I'm not good at following rules). I like your idea too!

    LR, I'm happy to talk about it. We don't live nearby any family, so that may make everything a little different than if people saw us every day or every week in person. That said, all I can speak to is our experience:

    I think my mom has trouble understanding...like, literally, she just doesn't always get it. She sometimes sends one holiday card for all three of us, for instance, but then other times she'll send me & NT one and AS gets her own separate one. At least she gets that AS is somehow part of the family...I think my family thinks it's weird, but judging someone else's personal life or making a scene are just not their way. They're old-school Republicans! My siblings and nieces and nephews may have differing levels of understanding and/or acceptance, but AS and NT are just damned likable people, so everyone gets along really well with both of them. I think more people would have come to the wedding, but we could only give about 4 weeks' notice because we wanted to marry ASAP after NT came over on his fiance visa.

    AS's mom has been really great about it, especially as she's had to deal with HER daughter not being legally married, and her first granddaughter not being of her blood. That's a lot of high-concept stuff and she's accepted it all beautifully. AS's little adopted brother and sister don't say much, but sometimes her sister messages me on Facebook, so I think she's OK with it. AS's extended family doesn't know too much about it, but everyone's been nice about it so far.

    NT's dad and stepmum have been great, his sister and her husband too. NT's mum is OK ... except she basically forced NT not to tell his gran. So we lead a double life when we're in England, where half the time we pretend NT and I are married and AS is just visiting at the same time. I actually think his gran would be fine with it, but she hasn't been given the chance. (Heck, she probably gets it already; why would this other woman be tagging along to all the family functions?) If AS gets pregnant, I've made it clear (NT understands) that we will not go through the farce of her just being a friend anymore. Either we'll "come out" to Gran, or I won't be visiting his mum or his gran ever again. It was just too painful for AS the last time we visited with AA, to try and pretend she wasn't AA's mom. I can't be party to it again.

    Still, as painful as that is, it's not the same as an outright rejection by anyone. So I guess we've pretty much lucked out with all our families. Same with our co-workers and friends, and AA's daycare providers. I keep thinking there's going to be something really upsetting and intolerant at some point, but everything's been really mild compared with what I envisioned. I was so scared when we first started this relationship; all I could do was picture the worst. Glad to say the worst has yet to materialize!

  6. LuckyRobin Says:

    Cool. Thanks for taking the time to answer and not be offended at my nosiness. I'm glad that it's not been awful for you, but I definitely can see how painful it would be for one of you to have to not claim the relationships, especially between mother and child. I hope when that truth comes out to the grandmother it goes well.

  7. LuckyRobin Says:

    P.S. I like Unruly Vegan!

  8. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    I second Unruly Vegan!

    Also, you can get fairly cheap domain names - most starting at under $10/yr. Then you can get hosting for as little as $50/yr (or free, if you go the blogger or wordpress route.)

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