Just wanted to give you a few financial suggestions from your friendly neighborhood frugaltista
Do a budget!
A budget is important for several reasons. You need to know where your money is going. Jay & I work on the budget at the first of the month, calculating the projections of our spending. Then I go back at the end to see what our actual totals are.
It also promotes conversation in my marriage. I don't have to tell you how busy life is, but real, meaningful conversation is vital to the health of a relationship. Jay and I have plenty of "hi honey how was your day" conversations, but I love having at least once a month where we discuss our hopes and dreams.
The first month we budgeted, we made a list of all the things we wanted to do with any "extra" money that came our way. Since then we've both opened Roth Ira accounts and have had a contractor to the house to give us a rough quote about adding a garage to our home. I think it might be awhile before we get the $30,000 in the "garage/master bath" column of our savings, but its nice knowing where it stands on our priority lists.
Eliminate wasteful spending
A lesson our government could stand to learn.
Seriously though look around. How many button up blouses do you really need? Really wear? And 60 pair of shoes? Come on that's pathetic. What - I'm the only one with that many? Oops, forget I said anything.
I think most of us have more than we would ever need. Today Lois issued a challenge - starting June 1st, no clothing shopping for a year. I'm going to take her up on it, with a slight modification. I do need new pants, as I've dropped 2 pant sizes in the past year. The HR lady has even commented on my pants being too big (Lois - no telling them she's one of my besties and is trying to make me feel good).
I'm taking her up on her challenge in part - no new tops, no new shoes (besides Jay would kill me if he had to build even more shoe shelves), no new purses. If I buy pants, I have to donate a too big pair to charity.
Consider your gifts
This year, my sister threatened bodily harm if we bought her children toys for their birthdays & they didn't need new clothing. The princess lied to her babysitter and told her that her pants were so tight she couldn't eat lunch (lie #1) and that they were bruising her belly (lie #2) so the babysitter took her on a target shopping spree.
My sister's suggestion was to either put money in their college fund, or buy a toy for an orphan. Since I don't know any orphans, Jay and I wrote a check to be deposited in their bank account. I wouldn't be cool Auntie Boo if I didn't buy them a toy to open at their party, but a $1 DVD from the Dollar Tree about Daniel and the Lion's den will work just as well as a $20 Hannah Montana DVD.
When I called my niece on her birthday she told me "thank you for the money making money." That's how my sister explained it to her - that Aunt Boo and Uncle Jay put money in an account for her so that it would make even more money. It wasn't a lot, but hopefully over the course of the next 12 years compound interested will work in her favor and it'll help her further her education.
Follow the Babysteps
Its no secret I'm a Dave Ramsey fan. His baby step process really works - so try it! (He's also giving away $1,000 every day in May so go register!)