I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend. My better half and I... OK, I've been calling her "my better half" for long enough; let's call her Ms. Loonie (original, I know). Anyway, Ms. Loonie and I had a very relaxing weekend at home, as we were both recovering from a cold we picked up last week. The cold wasn't much fun, but it was nice just spending time together, with nowhere else to be.
For the past week, Ms. Loonie and I have really stuck to our meal plans. Every day, we brew coffee in the morning, eat breakfast at home, take travel-mug coffee and a brown-bag lunch to work, and then come home and cook dinner. Except for Sunday afternoon, when we met a friend at the pub for lunch and then got cheap take-out sushi for dinner, we didn't spend a dime on non-grocery food expenses. That feels fantastic, and we're excited to keep it up.
Ms. Loonie is a very smart lady. She's highly educated, and is one of the sweetest, funniest people that I know. However, she is not really a "numbers person". In the past, she has always become a bit glassy-eyed when I've talked to her about personal finance, especially when I throw out hypothetical scenarios to demonstrate a point.
At her current job, her income tax is not withheld. This means that she will have a hefty tax bill to pay next April, and she knows that she needs to prepare for this. To her credit, she has been keeping a reasonable cushion in her chequing account, but her saving seems to have reached a plateau, and I've been gently nudging her for a while to open an online savings account that she can feed tax money into every payday. She had agreed to look into this, but had not taken any action until last week.
Last Tuesday, she finally agreed to respond to my ING referral e-mail (we each get $13 if she opens an account with $100 or more), and she completed the online form and mailed the cheque, which cleared her main bank account on Thursday. On Saturday morning, she called in and set up her online access, and also set up her bi-weekly contribution plan.
At this point she sat back and said, "That's it?" I think it had suddenly clicked for her just how easy it is to take that first step toward getting your finances in order. Having set up the account and seen the funds transferred so quickly, she suddenly went into organizational overdrive, reconciling all her accounts and even creating a simple spreadsheet budget to keep track of her spending each pay period. I saw that her interest had finally been piqued, and gave her a quick run-through of how I use my ING account, and how I track my income and spending every two weeks.
She is now genuinely excited to save as much as she can in the ING account. The thing that impressed her the most is that, having set aside what is needed to pay her taxes, she now knows that what is left over is really her money. Where in the past she has always had nagging doubts about her spending, she now knows at a glance how much she can actually afford to spend.
We have always been open about money, but although she knows roughly how much we have and how much we owe, she has always relied on me to deal with the specifics. With the "click" that happened this weekend, she has taken a much more active role in our finances. It feels great to be tackling things as a team like this, and I'm really proud of how she's stepped up and decided to learn as much as she can about "this finance stuff".
So I guess you could say it was a good weekend.