First and foremost I would like to thank each and every one of you helping make this blog somewhat kinda sorta mildly successful! J I appreciate and thoroughly enjoy reading all of your comments and feedback. To me, generating discussion on personal finance is just about the best compliment I can get, so genuinely, thank you all! With that said there have been a few recurring requests come across my inbox, one of which inspired this Q&A for today’s post! Presenting a woman that is beautiful, lovely, stunning, an inspiration, the reason for all of my success, and contrary to what seems to be popular belief, a woman that is in fact- REAL, my wife. So without further adieu, here are some of her insights into some of your most pressing questions.
Q: Are you real?
A: Of course I’m real – what kind of a question is that?
Q: No, really, are you real?
A: Ok ok perhaps a little background will convince you. I’m 5’8” with brown hair and blue eyes – no no wait – that is just a bad way to start anything out. Yes I’m real and contrary to popular belief – I AM a woman and I CAN and DO comfortably live on a zero based budget. I think the biggest contradiction society has taught us ladies is 1) to work to be independent and self-sufficient women while 2) simultaneously waiting on our Prince Charming’s to swoop in and rescue us because we all need saving. Probably the hardest thing when we first started this process out was accepting that as a woman I can be in control on my future and don’t need rescuing – instead we really need open communication and to learn to compromise and prioritize our dreams. When a woman hears the word “budget,” we interpret it as “handcuffs.” We see treacherous scenes play out in our heads – we’ll never be able to go shoe shopping again, say goodbye to the nail salons and drinks out – and we shy away with a look of contempt for the husband or friend that dares utter such a word in our presence. Our reaction is really one that comes from fear of losing some of the things we have come to love. But I am living proof that if you take the time to sit down and discuss what you want – not just needs – but what you really value, need and want – you CAN live on a budget and enjoy life! Yes we’ve cut back on excesses – why you might ask? Because we’ve both done extensive soul searching and come to the conclusion that getting our time back with each other is more important to both of us than say me getting my hair done every week or being the proud owners of a brand new Mercedes. Once you take the time to really have that internal conversation with yourself about your true priorities and then take the next step to share that with you partner and commit to a plan to attain your goals and live accordingly – things become incredibly motivating. For me there are so many things that matter – paying cash for our first home, giving regularly to worthwhile charities, taking a year off to travel the globe – the list goes on and on and is updated regularly but to answer the first question, yes I’m real and I’m really happy living on a budget.
Q: Does buying groceries at Wal-Mart and Aldi bother you?
A: Hmmm – well it used to. What cracks me up is that since we’ve been living below our means for so long now I could easily throw in the argument that we bump up the grocery budget and shop at only Whole Foods but I really have never had a taste for pretention. I’m a foodie and while you have to be cautious of the quality of meats at Aldi – pretty much everything is perfect for my uses. I used to be slightly embarrassed with the mindset that “poor people shop at Aldi” but did you know that your lush, organic, hipster Trader Joe’s is owned by my Aldi’s? True story! Anytime anyone gives me the look (and you know the look - that pitying disgusted I feel bad for you, look) I can honestly say well if you shop Trader Joe’s you’re buying the same products just at twice the price and well I’m sorry for you that you can’t add! No in all fairness, I’ve never been more than slightly embarrassed and I love Wal-Mart! As a business woman does it bother me that they put pressure on their suppliers? No not the least! I have a small foods company and we’d never in a million years think of selling to Wal-Mart – they simply couldn’t afford to carry us and we don’t flex on our bottom line regardless of your name or distribution! Trust me people, if a company is selling to Wal-Mart they are making enough of a margin to make ends meet and their sub suppliers are doing fine as well. Personally I believe people have been getting their backs up over Wal-Mart out of sheer jealousy for far too long – if you don’t like them – vote with something that matters – your dollars! I for one though, love the customer service I get from my local Wal-Mart and that I am supporting my local community as we’ve gained access to a number of jobs as well as reasonably priced fresh fruits and vegetables.
Q: Between you and your husband, who is more frugal and why?
A: I would say I am but based on the fact that I grew up on a farm and know how to garden, raise my own animals for meat, and have honed other Little House on the Prairie skills that he unfortunately did not learn having grown up in LA
Q: Since you’re the free spirit, when you guys reach $1 million net worth, how do you plan to celebrate?
A: Good question – I’ve always thought I’d want to take a big trip but I’m leaning more towards a big trip with a big impact – we have two girls in Africa we sponsor that I would love to go visit in person but I’d also want to do some serious volunteer work there as well – probably a big month long trip to Africa (specifically Ghana, Tanzania, and Sudan) with some site-seeing, day labor helping build a hospital, school or library and a visit to my girls. J
What does living a scaled down lifestyle mean to you?
A: It means letting go of what other people think and being true to your heart’s desires. Can I afford to live downtown in a high rise? Yep. Is that my top priority these days? Nope. I can honestly say living in line with your priorities will make you immensely happier than any apartment or amount of stuff ever will.
Q: What is the budgeting process like from your perspective?
A: At this point it’s kind of on auto-pilot as we’ve got the year pretty well sketched out at the moment. And as bizarre as this may sound – it’s immensely exciting! Hear that ladies – I said EXCITING!!! And you want to know why? Because once my last debt is paid off (which will happen this year) the world is our oyster and we just have to pick the pearls! What would you do with an extra $5000 a month? Anything you want!!! We’ve been dreaming and adding more goals and dreams to the list and it’s so exciting and inspiring to dream together and to build a life into exactly what you want it to be!
Q: What are the hardest and easiest things about living with a nerd?
A: Hardest thing: being completely honest about my wants and needs – even when he asks why I need my sanity budget…
Easiest thing: not worrying about retirement because believe you me, he’s got it covered
Funniest thing: messing with the budget and watching his little nose wrinkle up in frustration – tee hee…
Q: Any advice to single and/or married women about to start baby step I?
A: Quit procrastinating and DO NOT go back to grad school! Avoiding a problem, I repeat, AVOIDING A PROBLEM, does NOT under any circumstances make it go away!
Quit waiting for your “knight/husband/economy/student loan forgiveness program/insert random BS excuse” to solve your problems! Disney was fun but it was for kids and it’s time to take care of you and put yourself first like the entirely capable adult that you are! Don’t wait another minute – seek advice, draft your first budget and take care of yourself!!! I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my personal heroes (this is actually printed out and hanging on a wall in the living room at home) -
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Nelson Mandela