Friday, January 2, 2015

Balance Sheets and the Holidays

Earlier tonight: Hey, who was the guy who balanced his books on Christmas Eve?  Me, asking my partner in frugal living, seeking the name of the Dicken's character perched on the tip of my tongue.  

Me!  We both laughed at my husband's response, and then it came to me, Scrooge.

Our Christmas Eve contained many of the common elements of the holiday.  We attended a church service (First Unitarian Society of Madison), enjoyed appetizers and cookies with my husband's extended family who live in the area, and then shared a Chinese restaurant meal with friends from childhood who have become like family.  After all that we went home, tucked the kids into bed, and while I arranged gifts under the tree my husband enjoyed a scotch and balanced Quicken.  Yes, you read that correctly, he balance the accounts.

In his defense, he works long and intense hours, and was home that night earlier than normal.  He also balances Quicken faster and more accurately than I could ever imagine.  And lastly, he does not just mindlessly click that a check or charge has cleared, he asks does this make sense?  Usually it is related to a credit charge, making sure our number has not been compromised yet again (three times in one year).  This time he noticed that our HSA account is loosing approximately $400 a year due to inflation.  So, he emailed the bank (yes, on Christmas Eve) inquiring about options for us to invest part of the HSA account in a bond fund or other vehicle to keep pace with inflation.

Lesson from our life -- holidays may come and go, but our frugal ways stay in place 365 days a year.  It is one thing to find post-holiday mark-downs, it is another to have your hands firmly in place on your financial plan, thinking long-term and about the big picture.  The upside?  While on a long road trip home after a holiday trip, you can pull off a mountain road, walk into an adorable Inn and take the suite without worrying about your budget (American Eagle Inn, Mounteagle, TN -- quaint and lovely for $125/night).  We spent a fraction of what we could have on this trip because we made one frugal choice after another.  More on that later.  I'm off to savor the fire, and think of my mom -- she would have turned 71 today.  Time -- our most precious of resources, use it wisely.

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