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Finding a Work-Life Balance can be a Pain in the Butt

thurn and taxis board game

[The following is a guest post from Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, who has been a full time blogger since July 2011. She also writes and co-owns Richly Reasonable.]

Hi, my name is Crystal and I never intended to be a workaholic.  Really.  I spent my early 20’s thinking that workaholics needed to get out more, develop some hobbies, make some friends.  Then I discovered blogging and blog advertising when I was 27, and I have been trying to find a good work-life balance for the last 3 years.

Balance is Important

When I first jumped into blogging in 2010, I just saw it as a really fun hobby.  I did put a lot of time into it, but I fit it in around my day job and time with family and friends.  But in 2011, I decided to turn it into my full time job.  That’s when I sort of stopped existing to everyone I knew “in real life”.

I worked and commuted for a total of 45-48 hours a week at my day job.  But then I also fit in 40-50 hours a week at home taking care of my online world.  I usually only hung out with my husband and anyone else about once a week without a computer in my lap.

The payout was quitting my day job in July 2011, but that didn’t actually free up any of my time.  I just kept taking on more and more clients, started handling more and more emails, and started accepting every freelance gig that I could get.  The few close friends I had were really supportive and completely understood what self-employment entailed, but I missed them.  I missed just hanging out with my hubby or catching a movie with the group.  I missed having any social life at all that wasn’t email-based.

Finding the Work Balance

By early 2012, I knew that I needed help with my business, and I needed to work somewhat normal hours so I could have a life outside of the internet again.  My husband actually quit his day job in January 2012 to take over the record keeping and some emails.  That cut about 20 hours for me weekly, so I was down to 70-80 hour work weeks.  As he learned, those hours balanced out a little more.

Now I work from home for about 60 hours a week and hubby is working about 30 hours at his computer.  About half of my hours are spent blogging, which he doesn’t do.  But he does work on the side as a varsity sports official for football and softball, so we each have our own hobby jobs.  We are both satisfied with our work life, so at least we have the “work” part of the balance taken care of.

Finding the Life Balance

Finding a good balance in our social lives has been a bit more difficult.  We had a hard time connecting with anyone else after we graduated in 2005.  But we made some very close friends in late 2009 and connected with another close group of awesome people in late 2012 (yay for board gamers!!!).  We love hanging out every spare minute that we can find.  That isn’t exactly balance…but for now, it is what it is going to be.  We enjoy our friends and if hanging out 5-6 times a week is a bit much, so be it.  ;-)  We still find the time to take care of the basic chores and aren’t falling behind on work, so that is the definition of balance for us right now.  I’m sure as our friendships mature, we’ll actually have free time again, but I see pure free time as over-rated thus far.

What is your work-life balance?  Are you trying to fit in more work time or play time?  What suggestions would you have for others?

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Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more.

photo credit: viZZZual.com

Are you letting “future you” pay for today?

Pregnant  woman with money. Family budget.One of the things that I think gets many people in hot water with their finances is the idea of a “future you”…a somehow much more well-off version of yourself in the future who will be able to handle all sorts of things you can’t handle right now.

Really want that widescreen TV but you don’t have the funds to pay for it right now? Just open up a store credit card…future you can take care of the payments.

Hate the idea of giving up your daily lattes and pricey car lease? That’s OK…future you will be making a lot more money, so you can worry about putting aside for savings then.

Want to blow that raise on extra dinners out and a celebratory vacation? Why not…future you can deal with building up a retirement account. Right now, you deserve to enjoy what you’re earning!

The trouble with a “now” mindset

I know a lot of people who are stuck in debt or carrying big mortgages they’re having trouble swinging, who have all said at one point or another that they feel like they “sold” their future for stuff.

They weren’t thinking, in the heat of the moment, about how long they would be saddled with payments or what they would do years down the road if someone got sick or lost their job. They were keeping up with the Joneses, or living in the now, and they never stopped to consider what all that extra spending would do to their “future selves.” It makes me so sad, but I know it’s part of our whole “instant gratification” culture. It’s no wonder so many people fall into these traps.

Are you considering “future you” when you make your financial decisions?

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  SalFalko

Obtaining Money From Your Retirement Plan

Hammer and Piggy Bank

[This is a guest post by Toi. Think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest poster? Contact Em at em [at] blondeandbalanced [dot] com to learn more about becoming a guest poster yourself!]

 

When the chips are down and you need money fast, it may make sense for you to obtain money from your retirement plan. After all, you’ve probably been contributing to the plan for years, and you won’t need to use the money for retirement any time in the near future.

Unfortunately, adopting this mindset may be a big mistake that could end up costing you a great deal of money in the future. Here are some things that you should think about before deciding to obtain money from retirement products:

Decrease In Funds

Borrowing from your retirement plan has a wide variety of effects that can be felt immediately as well as far into the future. One of the biggest effects that this borrowing will have is the reduction in funds in the account. Not only are you removing the money you’ve put in; you’re also limiting the account’s ability to earn interest. The entire reason for saving for retirement is to have money available to use after you have stopped working. If you start taking money out of the plan, that is money that cannot be used during your retirement years.

Increased Taxes And Fees

Money obtained from a retirement account may be subject to additional taxes and penalty fees, costing you more than other types of loans or credit. Some of these penalties may be avoided if you’re able to pay back the money into the account within a predetermined time period, but most withdrawals from retirement accounts are made due to financial hardship, lessening the chances that you will be able to return the money. If you cannot pay the money back in time, tax-free deferrals into your account that were withdrawn will be taxed at the maximum amount allowed at tax time.

Lower Payouts After Retirement

Withdrawing or borrowing money from your retirement account can result in lower payouts during your retirement years. The amount that you receive each month during your retirement years is based on the amount of money in the account and the length of time you expect to be making withdrawals from the account. If you would like to see how the withdrawal could affect your account monetarily, use one of the various annuity calculator programs available on the internet to calculate the changes. What you discover may change your mind about the wisdom of borrowing money from your retirement account.

 

Photo credit:  Images_of_Money

What would you buy if you were suddenly rich?

Shopping SpreeI loved Budgets Are Sexy’s post last week on 5 Things I Would Upgrade If I Were Rich. (Which was actually inspired by a post at DINKS Finance on whether you’d still be frugal if you struck it rich.) So, I thought I’d keep the blog baton passing and write a post with my own response.

So many times The Hubby and I see someone on TV or in the news spending $10,000 on a wedding dress, $5 million on a house, or (in real life) $50 on a “pre-warn” Ab&Fitch t-shirt, and we think, “Even if I  had that kind of money, I’d never spend it on one dress/one house/one t-shirt!”

Most likely that’s because we grew up in circumstances that taught us to be frugal. If we’d been raised as children of millionaires to whom money was no object, then who knows? Maybe I would be dropping thousands on a new designer purse I’d only carry for a month.

But, deep down, I feel like that’s not the case. I’m sure my sense of proportion would be a little off if I’d grown up rich, but I still don’t think I’d be so careless with my money that I wouldn’t stop to consider all the things I could buy with it if I were smart. (I mean, why buy one $5,000 purse when you’ve got the money to buy 100 $50 purses?)  :)

All that said, the thing in J. Money’s post that originally got me thinking was the question: If you became rich, what 5 things in your life would you “upgrade?” This is assuming you didn’t grow up rich, but you somehow fell into a pile of money tomorrow, whether it’s by lotto winnings or a ridiculously smart investment move or whatever.

Here are mine:

5 things I would upgrade

1. Christmas. I love, love, love the holidays, and I love giving presents even more. So yes, although I’d still be pretty frugal even if I did strike it rich, I would go all out at Christmas time! Christmas trees in every room (in different themes, like vintage and mod)…lights that would make Clark Griswold jealous…and piles and piles of presents for all my loved ones. I would spoil them all silly!

2. Doggy donations. I wish I could donate to every local no-kill shelter and SPCA event and animal rescue foundation that sends me adorable doggy and kitty address labels and asks me to donate. But we can only give so much currently. If I were rich, I’d go nuts!

I want to go to a shelter and deliver new toys and treats to all the animals like Santa Paws. (Told you I’m a Christmas nut.) I want to build a luxury doggy day spa and kitty hotel for rescues to live in until they’re adopted. I want to have an entire gang of big and small dogs roaming my estate (I’d have to get a bigger plot of land) like every day in our house is Westminster.

3. Our food. We try to buy locally and organic for our produce, at least, but it’s expense to have a totally local/organic lifestyle. So that’s a definite upgrade if we had the money for it.

4. Finance classes for kids. One of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that kids aren’t taught basic personal finance strategies in middle and high school…I think they belong right up there with science and math. (More, if you ask me.) I’m not sure what exactly I’d do, but I’d somehow launch an initiative to get personal finance classes into schools. I’m not really a political person, but I would actively campaign for this! (Especially if I had the time since I could quit my job, haha.)

5. My wardrobe. I’m not a clothes horse by any means. I prefer to invest in pretty basic, classic pieces I switch up each season with different accessories. That said? Investing in high-quality timeless pieces has made me a huge fan of Banana Republic, and if I happened to fall into a pile of money? Yeah, I’d give myself one glorious shopping spree. A girl’s gotta splurge sometimes!

Your turn! Share your 5 “upgrades” in the comments!

 

~Heart,

Em

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photo credit:  ron2000