There’s always something

Random Note: I not really a big fan of calling Wife Ninja, Wife Ninja. I much preferred Girl Ninja (GN), and since this is my blog, and she is a girl, I’ve decided to reincarnate her title as Girl Ninja.

Ninja Mansion

I was talking with Girl Ninja’s uncle the other day about normal guy things (sports, money, unicorns, etc). We then started talking about housing and what that looked like for Girl Ninja and myself. I told him we were planning to save pretty aggressively so we could have up to $100,000 to use for a down payment. I told him “I feel like once we buy a house, I will finally relax and be more of a free spender. After all, a house is the last big purchase I have to look forward to…right?” Yeah, I know, I realize how stupid that comment was.

When I was paying off debt, I thought that becoming debt free would be my ultimate release from frugality. But then came a wedding and a honeymoon, so I focused on saving up for those expenses. Now, almost three months in to the married life, I’m all about saving for a huge down payment.

But, and this is a big but, I’m officially coming to terms with the fact that there will always be something. Once Girl Ninja and I ‘take the plunge’ and purchase our first place, we’ll just begin saving for our next ‘project’. A kitchen remodel, children’s college funds, a batmobile, etc. When will it end? Never.

Although this epiphany could seem depressing, it was a welcome (and needed) reminder. A reminder that I will never “have it ALL together” no matter how hard I try. A reminder that I shouldn’t put off having fun today, so that I can have fun tomorrow. A reminder, that I sometimes lose sight of what’s important.

I obsess over a stupid goal (like saving to buy a home), and allow that goal to distract me from a huge part of the personal finance puzzle. And that part, mi amigos, is spending. Sure, Girl Ninja and I could put every un-budgeted dollar we earn towards saving for the future Ninja pad, but what would that mean for the next few years of our lives?

I’ll tell you. It would mean a lot of not-fun-having! And last time I checked, we both like to have fun. So, while we will continue to work towards our goal of home ownership, we will also make a point to enjoy our journey through that process.

What is your current financial goal? Do you allow it to distract you from contentment, like I do, sometimes? Where is the balance between healthy focus and uber-awkward awkwardness?

On a FUN note, we just got our wedding pictures back. We haven’t looked through all 1,200 of them yet, but here are a few of our favorites!!!! (more to come later)


45 thoughts on “There’s always something

  1. Be happy that you are in that stage of personal finance where you have all the power to decide how much debt you want to take on and not the other way around. Balance is very tough for myself, even though I think we save quite a bit, we also spend quite a bit. Maybe I feel that what we spend our money on is not “worth” it compared to what else we can do with our money. Maybe I shouldn’t be so obsessive like you said 🙂 It’s pretty hard not to though.

    I’m surprised your photographer is not a retired billionaire. Your wedding pictures are insane awesome!

    • Whoops, forgot to answer your two questions.
      1. We would like to buy a better home.
      2. Since we have a home already, we are taking our time looking for the perfect one and saving more money in the meantime.
      3. Answered in the previous post.

  2. Well, if you rent instead of buy, you will greatly reduce the number of things you have to save for, as houses are a lot more than a mortgage payment.

    Right now, I am saving for a driveway, which is pretty darn exciting. I am aggressively trying to pay down the mortgage, and that will be gone in 7 years at the latest. I have a child going to college in a couple years, and two more right after that, so I have just accepted I will not be accumulating a ton of money in the coming years.

    It is very easy to get distracted by money. Sometimes it is a good distraction, often times it is an unhealthy obsession. Balance is the key, but that can be easier said than done. I have 3 kids that keep me spending on plenty of things like little trips here and there and such. I am a sucker for fun! (Much more so than spending on ‘things’.)

    Nice pictures!

  3. Those wedding pictures are gorgeous. You look blurrily handsome as does Wife Ninja look blurrily beautiful!

    I agree with Everyday Tips — owning a home is not just a mortgage. It’s maintenance savings at 3% a year (saved each year for when the roof goes and you need to spend it all in 3 years to fix it), new furniture, batmobile, and everything you’ve mentioned.

    $100k is an admirable purchase, and if you can get your mortgage under 10 years I say AWESOME… except you might find you’re house rich and cash poor if you put everything into home.

    I suggest moderation. Save 20% – 30% for a down payment if you want to be super diligent and then put the rest into an EF and general savings, don’t try to be too aggressive with mortgage payments (things happen, incomes get cut or go down to $0), and take it easy.

    Me, I’ll rent forever. I don’t have a problem with not owning a home, I have more of a problem with being tied down to a home and one specific place.

    • Thanks FB! That means a lot knowing your fashion eye approves of our pictures 🙂

      We want to save $100K before we buy a house, but that doesn’t mean we will use all of it for a down payment. Maybe $20k, maybe $80K, we just want flexibility and some room for negotiations.

  4. There will always be debt, long and short term, and especially when a house and kids come along. So unless you have unusual cash reserves, accept that as a fact. Personally, while interest rates are low, I wouldn’t keep accumulating quite so much cash for a down payment, since by the time you reach your stated goal, interest rates might be on the rise again and you could lose the benefit of getting a mortgage in a low-interest economy.

    Oh – and by the way, I hear they have new laser surgical techniques to get rid of those painful black bars in front of your eyes. But you’ll have to save up. 😉

  5. Girl Ninja is hot. Nice job dude.

    I just have to say congrats on saving up for stuff. I don’t usually plan out what I want to spend money on. I generally just save money arbitrarily, and then when I see something I want, I buy it. I think your way is better.

  6. A great realization. I too bought a house thinking it was “the last big thing”, but then poured tons of money into it to fix it up, then we moved my mom here into another house that needed fixing, then had 2 kids…yeah, it’s endless.

    I’m currently working to pay off my mom’s house, my last debt, then we will be saving for 3 things..kid’s education and downpayment for next house. My husband predicts that someday my mom will not be able to live alone anymore and we’ll have to consolidate households. Our house isn’t large enough for all of us and can’t be added onto given our footprint relative to the property line. Who knows, maybe we’ll never need to go that route, but we’re planning for it nonetheless.

  7. Remember too that all the personal finance nut-cases profoundly knowledgeable TV and radio gurus always insist that spending money is the worst of all possible sins. Truth is, money is to be saved, and it is also to be spent. When our company was still giving nice annual bonuses (unfortunately now a thing of the past), I used to put about 1/2 into savings and 1/2 towards a week in some European city or other. “Oh, no, you can’t afford that!” shriek the Suze Ormans and such, flashing their white teeth. “You don’t have 10 years of an emergency fund; what if you get sick, what if you lose your job; you have to put that money towards retirement, blah blah blah.” Aside from the fact (which the self-styled personal finance experts always ignore) that spending is good for the economy, I’m glad I took those trips then, because now at 62 arthritis and sciatica are setting in, and I can’t spend 8-10 hours walking around Barcelona or Rome the way I used to. You only get one life, enjoy it while you can.

  8. I have also come to the realization that there is never going to be a time where you are truly financially free! But being that you’re debt free, you have a lot more power than other people!
    When you talk about balance, I’ve recently become committed to paying off my mortgage in the next 10 years (currently there is 23.5 years left on the term). But I actually have a great plan – one child has just entered Grade one, and the other will be entering school next year, so the 10-12K that I have been spending on childcare for the past five years will now be put down on the principle of my mortgage instead. The problem is, sometimes I get so focused on getting rid of the mortgage, I forget that 10 years is still a long time away. And I need to remember to live my life during that time too! So I try to takea step back, remember to make my extra monthly pre-payments, and enjoy spending money on the things I can. And before I know it, that magical day will come when we are mortgage free!

  9. Love the pics! You guys are/were so creative with your wedding pics.

    We are saving to buy a house. We plan (like many 1st time buyers these days) to buy our 1 and only house. Now that prices are low, we could afford a nice home to grow into. No need to start really small and then upgrade in 10 years. I guess that is the blessing for us that waited until AFTER the bubble to buy.

    I used to allow it to distract me. Now I realize that we will always have a goal. Education for the young’uns, more education for us (I’m thinking PhD and hubby is thinking MA), and one day our own island vacation home. Okay well the last one is not necessarily at the top of our list but one day it will be!!!

    My hubby and I realized we needed a goal. We figured out early that when we don’t have one, we tend to fall into overspending for stupid things. So the balance is to know what you need to do/focus on to keep your finances in check. If that means always having a goal, so be it. Just don’t completely loose yourself in it.

    • Thanks for the photo comments. I sooooo badly want to remove the black bar and post up our wedding video! It’s incredible. If I ever become un-anonymous I will for sure!

  10. Awww, cute pics!

    Our blog post today is about why we think our “balance is good” (or really: “extremes aren’t as fun as not extremes”) posts are the most popular ones we’ve written thus far.

  11. We’re currently working on paying off our consumer debt, a process which we *hope* will be complete around this time next year. To help keep the balance, we actually budget in some “fun money.” We set aside a certain amount for hubby, an equal amount for me, and an additional amount for dates. So we end up having about $100 a month or so that we can blow on whatever fun times we want to have. (More if there are three pay periods in a month or if we’ve saved up from previous months.) This creates a balance of saving (or rather, paying off debt) and spending, as well as a balance in our marriage since I’m the consummate saver and he’s rather a spender.

  12. Right now we are focusing on paying off our mortgage in the next 12 years (possibly sooner if we can), saving for our children’s post secondary education, saving up an Emergency Fund, building our retirement funds and saving up for the next set of wheels.

    As many of the previous posters mentioned, once you own a “mortgage” (AKA: owning a house), there is a good deal of maintenance costs associated with it. Each year we do upgrades and general maintenance in the $1000-2000 range, however that is still pretty low because it is a 4 yr old home – I can see that yearly amount soaring in about 10 years to the $7000-10,000 range as things in the house begin to break down from general wear and tear.

  13. Balance is key! Great job recognizing this so early on. Yes, there is always something but I think completing one and moving onto the next makes it sort of fun. When I think of all the things we have bought and paid for in our 6 years of marriage, it is exciting to see what we have done with the money we have made (and, of course, there were some poor purchases too). Currently our big goal is to pay off the mortgage…but that is still 9 years away. There is no way we are not going on vacations, out to dinner, buying new clothes during that time. In the mean time we continue to plug away at retirement, paying for his MBA in full, saving for the kids, a new car, our trip to Maui next year…the list goes on and on and on:)
    Trina

  14. Working on paying off consumer debt. That’s the focus for me right now, followed by a list of other things once that is done. The list does seem long, but the progress each month keeps me motivated.

  15. Your blog title was never more on target – it is and always will be something. But for the vast majority of us, it doesn’t all happen at once (although there are days….). My best advice is that when you mix (a majority of) responsible planning/saving/personal behavior with a realization that you can’t control everything or everybody, you can be confident you & GN will make the best decisions you can when the time arrives. So there’s room for some splurges, for sure.

    But to answer your question about the next big something, the hubs and I are taking a multi-continental cruise next spring in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary. Then we should see a tsunami of kiddo weddings in the next few years. I think at least one wedding will be very low key, but some of the others have epic potential. Being (mostly) non-pressure type parents, we are waiting patiently for announcements and not asking about wedding plans. I really hate this part of non-pressuring. The hubs is really good at it, wouldn’t you know. In the meantime, it’s fascinating to read all the different wedding entries that turn up in PF blogs and see the lovely photographs.

    Speaking of which – it’s fun to get a peek of you and GN through the misty filter. Didn’t I see you in an episode of Veronica Mars? (ha ha!)

  16. Love the pics! Congrats 🙂 I hear you about obsessing a bit… I’m just starting my get out of debt journey and think about it constantly. I agree though, you have to have some fun along the way. I sometimes think of it as a diet kinda… they say you have to have some treats along the way or else you’ll keep craving bad stuff and fall off the wagon HARD. Well, I don’t want to fall off of the debt repayment wagon by doing something crazy and extravagant, so instead I plan to budget in some money for fun stuff.

    PS Your blog cracks me the eff up!

  17. This is somthing my husband and I are having a very hard time dealing with right now. Fun is very very important to us. My husband is very much a work hard play hard and he liked to play games to unwind. Games are very expensive (both computer and board games) and we are on a very strict budget while he is in school. So its hard to figure out if its worth taking on the extra expense now to help him get threw these last few weeks of school (he graduates in december) or just hold off.

    This post makes me think the extra expense might be a good idea, if it makes us happier in the long run.

  18. My current goal is operation mad cash. We want to upgrade our home within the next year to 18 months (we currently own a townhouse) and we want the biggest down payment possible. Where I am from and the house we are going to look to upgrade to a 20% downpayment is north of $100K.

    In terms of making it anti-awkward…it is all about the side income!

  19. Hello!

    I am also a newlywed-six months now.

    And I am SLOWLY coming to the same realization–we haven’t had a normal month in over a year in terms of finance! We have a set budget in place, but something always pops up.

    I think it’s because we are in a large, changing time in our lives. For example, in the last year we got engaged, bought a home, paid for a wedding, honeymoon, put our households together (and still managed to pay off $25,000 in debt). But wow–it’s like we’re hemorraging all the time!

  20. I always seem to struggle with the financial puzzle, it’s really a never-ending game that we fight to be on the winning side of, so as you suggested, we do what we can and try not to kill ourselves over a goal that will forever burden us. As long as we desire items, we will be burdened with the financial puzzle.

    My goals: Pay off school debt $10,000
    Pay remainder of my car: $15,000
    And save….

  21. Love the wedding photos. I think saving money and having a goal is fun and exciting rather than depressing. Simple change of attitude is all that is needed. Plus, fun splurges here and there.

  22. Yes, there will always be something! I look around at the house I bought earlier this year and think of all the neat things I could do to make it even nicer. I figure I’ll do it slowly, over time, because I want to do more traveling abroad over the next few years. I also want to increase my cash reserves since I anticipate buying a car in the next year. I took the same approach as you with my down payment. It took me 8 years (doing it on one salary is tough!), But it was definitely worth it, and along the way I learned a lot about choices, sacrifice and happiness.

  23. Great photos! I know where you were married – I’ve been there for a fundraiser. Great spot. Not in CA – not sure if it’s part of the anonymous dealio or not, so I’ll respect your secret Ninja wedding. 🙂

    I’ve been wrestling with that question tonight on my blog. I’m paying off so much debt and it feels like it’ll never end — but I while I did say no to a last minute trip to Hawaii, I am going to save up money for a trip in the Spring. Irresponsible? Probably. Quality of life is really important too. I don’t know how Dave Ramsey does it with the beans and rice all the time.

  24. Our top financial-goal priority is to get rid of the credit card debt, all the while saving up for an Emergency Fund and for our annual anniversary trip. Hubby’s starting a new job on Nov. 8 makin’ mo’ money, so the cc debt goal will be realized sooner rather than later… sa-weeet!! I can wait for the renovated kitchen… what we have works fine… it’s seeing the $ number lowered on the cc statement that are giving us a thrill! We want to be in a position that should something happen with either one of our jobs, we can survive on 1 income if need be. We already save a good chunk of change for our retirement via monthly automatic withdrawls from our bank acct., but I’m feeling better about our financial situation than I was even 6 months ago.

    The pics are gorgeous; Wife Ninja is stunning!

  25. Wow you had a great photographer for your wedding. I’m getting married soon so my fiance is looking for a good photographer and its pretty hard finding someone that we both like.

    PS. Like your ring!

  26. Very nice pictures. I especially like the one with the hand!

    Re never-ending goals: I don’t know which is better! You are “lucky” enough to obsess about a goal, making you more driven to succeed at it, but it’s probably more of a rollercoaster when you succeed and it’s immediately replaced by a new goal to fixate on. I am lax about my goals and have a hard time staying true to them. But I do yearn for some of that obsession you have.

    It’s all a tricky balance. (I need to learn to put off a little fun *today* so I have something saved for tomorrow!)

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