Nat Craven

Nat Craven

Natalie “Nat” Craven is a financial blogger, mom, and wife. She loves budgeting, eating cheesecake, and exploring Utah with her handsome husband and four active kids. 

Nat studied Family Finance at Utah State University. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Accounting from Weber State University where she was awarded a scholarship to research taxation. She became a Certified Public Account (CPA). Nat is no longer intimidated by the tax code—even though it is a complicated foreign language. After working in public accounting for a couple of years, she left the industry to raise money-smart children, but kept up her license and education by doing online coursework. 

She volunteered and worked for Cornerstone Financial Education, becoming a Certified Personal Financial Counselor (CPFC). There she helped teach personal finance classes and started a financial fitness blog.

Through the years, she found her passion for budgeting as she realized that no one needs a CPA license or a Master’s degree in finance to manage their money well. Budgeting is a super simple principle to understand, but is challenging to apply. Her blog posts focus on the how we can “USE” our budget to reach our goals. Almost everyone has made a budget, but using it is powerful. Follow Nat on Twitter at @cravennat.

Monday, 16 January 2017 16:11

Making Resolutions That You Can Commit To!

You know that it’s January when ... you drive around the gym parking lot for 10 minutes without finding a parking space!! That happened to me last week. Finally, I stopped, waited for someone to come out of the gym, and I followed her to her car so that I could get a parking spot. My friend and I call this the January Gym Crowd. After January, the crowd usually shrinks. The gym was so packed one night that I couldn’t even park in the parking lot!

Ever since that night, I’ve been thinking about the resolutions we make. The resolutions that don’t last are the ones that I'm not really resolved to do. The resolutions that stick are the ones that help me to become something, rather than to do something. When I resolve to change who I am in order to become healthier, it doesn’t matter if I miss a workout or overeat one day. My commitment helps me to try again the next day. I have written many blog posts about how to do something related to finance. I am not talking about how to make or do anything today. This is all about how to become financially fit by committing to financial fitness.

Find Your Commitment

I struggle with consistency. A friend told me that there are different seasons of our lives. She helped me realize that I can’t be consistent in everything all the time. When it comes to finances, we don’t always have the same level of consistency, but we can be consistent in our commitment to our financial health. Our effort doesn’t always have to be equal. There are seasons when we spend more time on our than other seasons. That is okay.

My commitment to personal finances has developed over time and with different experiences: my dad’s death, my friends retiring early, and experiencing unemployment. No one can give this commitment to you, you have to find the reason for your commitment. I’m committed to financial fitness because I want to have financial freedom. If my commitment isn’t strong enough, I won’t stick with it.

Stick With Your Commitment

Once you’ve make a commitment to financial fitness, you can expect it to be tested. My commitment is often tested. Here are a few suggestions that help to stay committed.

Don’t Compare

It takes a lot of inner strength in order to avoid comparison. Last October, I realized that comparing was a weakness of mine, and since then I have been practicing eliminating comparisons in my life. The effects of comparison are really damaging. Either I feel better than or worse than someone else. I don’t like that feeling. Plus, comparison can kill commitment if I let it. Comparison is a bad habit that is tough to break. Here are a few exercises I’m doing to help break the comparison.

Evaluate What I Think And Say

Yesterday I told my friend that we aren’t able to meet our retirement goals, but we’re doing more than others so if we are not okay financially in retirement, no one else will be okay. I thought about the comparison I made and realized I was trying to justify not reaching our goals. I thought about how I can change what I said next time.

Practice Gratitude

I’ve been journaling and call it my journal “JOYrnal.” I try to live with childlike joy. On Friday night, I bought pizza for my kids. My son’s eyes lit up and he screamed, “We’re having pizza!” It amazed me how much joy he found in a $5 pizza. To help me remember to journal, I write before I eat dinner. I learned that from a musician, Lindsey Stirling. In an interview, she said that she never forgets to eat so she ties important things that she wants to do with eating. I never forget to eat so that has helped me!

Encourage Others, Including Yourself!

The past few months I have exercised with an awesome friend. She is always encouraging me to be my best. I hadn’t lifted weights for a long time, and I started out with small amounts. She told me “Good job!" when I completed a set. She strives to be her best and doesn’t compare or compete against me. My husband also does this. He encourages me. One day after taking a cycling class, Ty asked how it went. I told him that it was rough and I didn’t do very good. He said, “You made it there. That’s good!" Last week, it was a struggle for me to get out of bed and get to the pool. After I swam, I encouraged myself.

Even though my husband and I are not maxing out our retirement plans, we are contributing! We are teaching our kids to save and invest! I encouraged myself to keep investing. We are meeting with an investment adviser this week. That is good!

Forgive Yourself

I make mistakes all the time, in every area of my life. Forgiving myself allows me to stick with the commitment. This weekend I watched a talk by J.K. Rowling, who is super successful writer, and she talked about how she had failed in so many ways that it helped her to focus on the one area she had left. Her talk actually inspired me to fail! She said that a benefit of failure is that it allows you the chance to rebuild and commit.

Focus

Focusing on one goal helps me stick to my commitment to be financially fit. Looking back, in 2010, I was trying to do everything financially. Each time that I would hear a new suggestion, I would add it to my list. I was saving for retirement and paying down our mortgage. I was also saving for my kids marriage, mission service, and college as soon as they were born. I actually TOOK my newborn and my young kids to the credit union to set up an account for the baby. This is really comical to me now. I LOL at myself!

I had to learn an important lesson about focusing. By trying to do everything financially, I didn’t see progress. I only saved a few hundred dollars towards college. I ended up having to use the kids marriage funds for something else. So, I stopped doing everything, and in 2010, I focused on saving an emergency fund. It took two years to build it. Then, I focused on increasing our retirement. By focusing on one financial goal, it has allowed me to relax and experience grace with my finances. I don’t feel bad that I’m not saving for my kid’s marriages. In a few years, that will be my focus. Right now I just want them to stay little!

Committing to financial fitness is so important. It will help you avoid comparisons and distractions. It may be the most important resolution you make!!

Monday, 09 January 2017 16:39

To Pay or Not to Pay for Kids Expenses?

My family officially has our first pets!!! We’ve have had butterflies, rolly pollies, and other insects, but on Saturday, we bought three colorful guppy fish. My four-year-old stared in wonder at the fish tanks full of many kinds of fish. For Christmas, we gave our kids gift cards to pay for their fish. I hadn’t planned on the cost of the rocks and decorations for the tank. Those ended up costing four times more than the fish! As our kids started picking out the decorations for their fishes’ home, I was not sure how much to spend or what money to use. The decorations cost $10-$40 a piece. One piece of coral, which my son wanted, cost $35. I told him that he would need to use his money if he wanted to buy that. He put it back, and we got enough decorations for the whole tank for the price of that one decoration. I decided we would use our Christmas money to pay for the decor since they were part of their Christmas gift. I learned that I should have considered and planned for the cost of accessories of the tank.

Our fish buying experience got me thinking about how we, as parents, decide what we will buy for our children and what we let our children buy. This wasn’t the first time that we had this situation come up. In fact, it comes up frequently. We could go overboard either way: make them pay for everything or buy everything for them. There is no fixed rule: every family decides what they will do. Here are a few issues that we consider:

Are my children learning how to work? If the answer is yes, I am more likely to want to pay for more of their expenses. If the answer is no, I am less likely to pay for their expenses so that they can learn to work.

Are they learning to be good stewards of money? I want to be generous to them. However, if they spend their money thoughtlessly, I don’t feel it is wise to give them money. They will never have enough money if they don’t manage it.

Are they acting entitled and bratty? Recently my oldest daughter got her money ready to pay for a field trip. I was glad that she was taking responsibility and was willing to pay for her own expenses. Because she did not act entitled, I really wanted to pay for the trip. I told her that she didn’t have to pay for it and expressed how proud I was of her. In contrast, last week my four-year-old threw a fit in the car. On the way home, we went through the Wasatch Peaks drive through to make a deposit, and she wanted a sucker. Even though it was free, I did not get her a sucker. I told her that throwing fits is not the way to get what she wants from me. If she had calmly rode in the car, I would have been more likely to get her a sucker. She learned. A couple days later, we went to the credit union again. She had been calm and obedient, and she got her sucker.

As with many aspects of parenting, for me it depends on the attitude of the child and the situation as to whether I will pay for expenses. We are learning as we go, and enjoying all that we are learning together.

What are some things that you consider before paying for expenses? What teaching moments have you had or received from your parents?

Wednesday, 04 January 2017 16:33

Making a Budget and a Plan

Happy New Year! Not a lot changed at the end of 2016 for me, but the holiday is a break from school, so we took our family on a vacation. I started to say, “This was a budget trip," but I caught myself and stopped. I thought about how I was going to use the word budget. So many times we use the word budget to mean cheap. It was a cheap trip. So, I changed my wording and said, “It was a cheap trip.” Budgeting gets a bad reputation when it is used to mean being cheap. Budget doesn’t mean cheap. Budget means a plan. I like how I feel when I follow plans. Think about how you feel when you are following a health plan. Maybe over the holidays you ate without a plan (like I did), and maybe you felt pretty yucky (like I did). Think about the times when you did follow a plan to exercise and eat healthy. It is hard at the time, but I always love how I feel afterward. Over time, I see great results from following a health plan.

Imagine building your home without house plans! I have several friends building beautiful homes right now. I can guarantee that every inch of those homes was included in the plan in order for them to turn out the way that my friends want them to look.

Budgets are financial plans! How do you want your finances to look? If we could think of budgets like building our dream financial home, budgeting could change. We could be excited about it even though we may hate some of the work and discipline involved in the details. There are so many decisions to make when you build a home. Some are big decisions, like square footage and number of rooms. Some are small, like style of doorknobs. Some are almost permanent and some are temporary. It’s not easy to knock out a wall, but changing a door or the color of paint is relatively easy. The more you think about the details, the more likely you are to get the house that you want.

We have big financial decisions that impact us for years, and then we have minor ones that still impact us but not as much.  How would our finances be different if we had to submit a plan before we could spend? Well, no permits are required in order to spend money. So, we have to require ourselves to budget. Budget is both a verb and a noun. It’s an actual piece of paper that details out what you will spend, but it is also a process of using that piece of paper and referring back to it before we spend. You don’t have to be perfect. Budgets are flexible. When we do make mistakes, we can change by remodeling. However, we can prevent having to redo a lot by planning!

I love the feeling of being on a plan and a budget, and even though I get off track in the holidays, it’s a NEW YEAR, and it’s a new month. What if we could change the way we view budgets and make them a part of our lives? They aren’t required of us like building plans are, but we can require them….every month. I can’t force you to do one. Wasatch Peaks can’t force you to do one. But we are here to help and encourage you to budget so that you can create the financial house that you want, and feel great about it! I promise you great results as you follow your financial plan over time.

Wasatch Peaks has the option to create Budgeter Accounts. This makes it easy to save and budget by allowing you to have up to 30 budgeting accounts withing your account to put money into and keep seperate for easy tracking. Each budgeting account has a specific name for each budgeting category (Rent, Insurance, School Expenses, Groceries, etc.) so that this budget plan can be customized just for you! It can be pre-set so money is automatically tranferred to your Budgeter Account from your savings or payroll and divided up into each budget account.

Every trip is a budget trip. Every decision is a budgeting decision! I am going to make my January budget right now and invite you to make yours! If you have any questions or want someone to help keep you accountable, please post. Please post your struggles with budgeting. For me there are a handful of categories (food, vacation, clothes) that I have to watch carefully, but the other categories are fixed and don’t require much. Where do you overspend?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016 19:34

Get Up When You Fall Financially

This morning was hard to get up. My husband's alarm went off and I woke up to use the bathroom. My body felt sore. I felt the effects of the cookies, bacon, and chocolate covered popcorn, which I ate yesterday. I felt cold as soon as I got out of my bed. I wanted to go back to sleep. I felt gravity pulling me back to my warm bed. I thought of all the work ahead of me today. Except for the bathroom, every room looks like it experienced a tornado. Christmas was a busy day for my family. I visited 3 families, attended two church services, and had a sick child. The house was now a disaster zone. This can also happen financially over the holidays.

Somehow, I found the strength to walk past my bed without getting back into it. Somehow, I meditated and planned my day. This was a HUGE victory for me today. I think it was because Christmas gave me the belief that I can change. Seeing friends and family and feeling loved inspired me to keep trying. Experiencing kindness and generosity inspired me to want to keep moving forward. Even though I overspent, I can recommit. Even though the house is a mess, we can restore order one item and one room at a time. Sometimes we don't feel like waking up financially, but every day is a new day. If we mess up and give in to a purchase we didn't plan on, or miss a budget meeting, we can start again any and every day. In the big picture, it's not really going to matter that I spent a few more hundred dollars than I wanted to spend, as long as I keep trying.

During this holiday, several of my friends and family have told me that they want to get on top of their finances. They want to budget. They want to plan for taxes. They want to invest. These friends and family have asked my advice on budgeting and asked what app or system they should use. Some of them face huge obstacles in doing this, so I don't want to minimize how hard it can be to change financially. I will compare it to my experience with exercising.

I started exercising regularly a couple of months ago. At the gym, I am surrounded with healthy and strong people. I think about what they had to sacrifice to build the muscles that they have. It is a long and gradual process, and it can't be faked or sped up. There is no shortcut. I can't just be stronger because I want to be. For the first time, I have been weight lifting with a bar and weights. I started with just the bar and am adding small amounts. I can't just put a 35 pound weight on the bar and lift it. I have to sacrifice, plan, and build up the strength. I have to commit. On Christmas Eve I went to a hard interval training class. The teacher pushed herself and admitted it was hard, but at the end she encouraged us and played inspiring music that talked about getting back up and try again. I left feeling so inspired to celebrate my victories and keep trying.

There is no magical app that will make me in shape or get my friends to budget. It doesn't really matter what app you use. There are a lot of good tools, but there is no magical app that will force us to be disciplined. However, exercising at the gym helps inspire me. I believe I can get stronger.

Consider this blog to be your financial gym. Come here to believe that you can change, and surround yourself with people who are growing stronger physically and believing that they can improve. Happy New Years. Enjoy the holiday!

Monday, 19 December 2016 16:26

Teaching Money Lessons to Your Kids

Everyday life gives us opportunities to teach others by using money. Here are a few we have had this month.

Money lessons from sports

My daughter loves playing basketball. She plays at recess with the boys in her grade. On Saturday, we went to the last game of the season for her recreation team. She has been invited to play on a competition team. Jackie and I discussed how much time and money it would cost her. We decided that playing on this team would be good for her. I asked when the fee was due. Her coach (who knows me well) said that if I needed to wait to budget for it, that was fine. I told her that I was letting Jackie pay for it. I pay for some of their wants, but this one I thought she would appreciate more if she paid for it.

I withdrew money from Jackie’s account for the competition team fee. Then I withdrew the amounts for their paydays from my account. Wesley (8), said, “Hey, you aren’t really paying us. You are just taking money out of our accounts and giving it to us.” After I laughed, I explained bank accounts and how they all had account numbers and I used different account numbers for each withdrawal.

Money lessons from school lunch

This is the first year Tommy (6) has eaten lunch at school. He prefers school lunch to packing his own lunch. He often left his lunch at home, so he went through his lunch money fast. I told him his balance was low, so he needed to pack his lunch to take until I paid more lunch money. He didn’t listen to me, and his account went negative. I told him that it wasn’t honest to eat without paying, but he didn’t understand. He responded, “No, it’s free.” In this electronic age, there is often a disconnect with what things cost. I remember taking my lunch money, and knew that I had to pay.

Fast forward a few months, and a neighbor posted on Facebook about her son not being able to eat because of low lunch money. That reminded me to pay for lunch since the balance was getting low again. I sent lunch money with my ten year old. Her dad asked if she had paid it, and she said yes. But I keep getting emails about low lunch money- especially for her and my school lunch loving first grader. So, I asked her again if she paid. She said, “I thought I did.” But then on Saturday, she found her lunch money in her backpack. These simple experiences are helping them learn responsibility.

Money lessons from Christmas shopping

This was a recent conversation between my kids. Chloe (4) said, “Santa is going to bring me a tramp.” Jackie (10) replied, ”First of all, it won’t fit in his bag. Second of all, it won’t fit in his sleigh. Third of all, it won’t fit under the tree.” My four year old replied, “It’s going to be a little tramp.” She has since changed her request. She is now asking for, “A talking dog that talks like us.” Where is Clifford when you need him?

Chloe is often my shopping buddy these days. She usually wants so many things every time that we shop. While we were waiting in the checkout line last week, she saw a Tootsie Roll Bank. She said she wanted it, and I told her no. I showed her how much it cost. I taught her what the dollar sign looks like and then talked about how it was $1. I told her that she had money to pay for things like that. She didn’t have her money with her and delaying her immediate gratification was hard.

Jackie (10) and Wes (8) decided what they were going to give everyone for Christmas. They have been earning their money so that they can buy their gifts. We went to to the Dollar Store. Jackie bought presents for each member of the family and for each member of her class. She also wrote a poem to go with each of the presents. My kids went to the checkstand before I was ready and backed up the line. Even though shopping was chaotic, thinking about their giving hearts is making me cry as I write this.

What experiences have you had teaching about life through money?

We are planning our winter break, which starts next week! Here are a few of our ideas that I hope will help you enjoy your break from school or work without breaking your financial plan.

Give gifts that will provide experiences

For the past few years we have gone sledding on New Year’s Day. We gave our kids new sleds or tubes for Christmas. This has been so much fun. We also have given memberships to children’s museums, dinosaur museums, state parks, and national parks that we can use all year long but especially over the break. This year, we are giving them a membership to a local aquarium.

Give gifts that develop talents or hobbies

If you have readers, a large book is a great gift for the winter break. My daughter likes making bracelets, so one year we bought her a loom to use to make her bracelets.

Give a trip and items that go with it

One year, we gave our kids a staycation to Midway, and we gave them swimsuits with a certificate to swim in the Homestead Crater. Cameras, dvds, snacks, and clothes could also be given with a trip. I know a family that plans to go to Disneyland, so they could buy Disney themed gifts to use on the trip.

Visit museums and other local events

We went to a really neat free aerospace museum over the break. We’ve also gone to special art exhibits. A few years ago, we decided that we don’t need to go far away to go on vacations.

Visit family and friends

My kids love to play with friends, but life is so busy that they don’t get to play as often as they would like. So, a simple playdate is one of their favorite activities to do over the break. Oftentimes their cousins will visit, and they love sledding or playing with them. One year they made snow cones with real snow. Another time we had hot chocolate and donuts after sledding. This is a great memory. The winter break often gives time to be with family and friends.

Cook meals that you don’t normally have time to cook

I remember cooking a lot over the holiday break. My mom used to make pull apart bread. Ty’s mom’s specialty is cinnamon rolls. Cooking with the family can provide a lot of memories.

See the lights

Many cities have light displays within an hour of where we live. We love to meet up with friends and see the lights. One year a friend took us to one that we could drive through. Since we had a baby, that was a great one to avoid the cold. We have great memories seeing the lights.

We hope that you have an memorable winter break and holiday and you make memories with your families and friends! What other activities do you like to do over the break?

Monday, 05 December 2016 16:39

Thinking about retirement at Christmastime

I am not ready for Christmas, so why am I thinking and writing about retirement? Our parents are both retired, and it came fast. I remember when my parents were my age. Even though it’s Christmastime, I’ve been thinking about retirement.

Over the years, I’ve tried every retirement calculator tool available. I’ve estimated my family’s expenses. We have met with financial planners. I have concluded that there are a lot of unknown factors about retirement and have accepted this.

When is retirement?

According to the Social Security website, currently full retirement age is 67, which is close to the age of our parents. I’m fascinated with young retirees I’ve heard about. Retirement doesn’t have to mean “age 67.” I understand it to mean the time when we are not actively earning money and living off passive or saved income. This could be any age.

What kinds of income will you have?

My husband plans to work as long as he physically can. He loves to work so he will probably work during retirement, but it will be a different kind of work. He worked construction for his first job, which was very physical. His current production job requires physical labor, but not at much as construction required. I assume that he will do less physical labor but still work as much as he does now.

During retirement, some passive income will come from investments that you made earlier. So, we need to decide what type of investments we will make.

What kinds of expenses will you have? The best way I know to estimate retirement expenses and income is to look at those who are retired. My parents and inlaws have these expenses:

  • Travel
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Insurance
  • Utilities
  • Medical expenses
  • Donations
  • Gifts
  • Food
  • Hobbies

I realized that our parent's expenses are pretty similar to ours but the amounts are different. These amounts can range from a little to a lot, which is why it’s important to think about your personal plans.

Wasatch Peaks Retirement Calculator

This Wasatch Peaks Retirement Calculator was a great tool to use after I figured out what I think our expenses will be. The calculator said our investments need to be $300,000 to $400,000. This number depends on interest rates. Also, I didn’t calculate in social security benefits. So, it might not be an accurate number, but that is ok. Just figuring an estimate helps our family prioritize saving now. We are relatively young and there are a lot of urgent expenses we have in raising our family like clothes, braces, and Christmas to name a few. Retirement savings can easily be put on the back burner, which I have done plenty of times. Knowing this number helps me prioritize saving now in order to build to the necessary nest egg we need for the time when we don’t actively work and earn money.

A financial planner once told me that planning for retirement at my age will open up options. I want you to have a lot of options in retirement. Please join me in spending a few minutes planning for retirement.

My family cut down our Christmas trees in St. Charles Canyon this weekend. We figured that the weather would be pretty cold and snowy up in the mountains. So, we packed our snow clothes, but the good gloves were missing. My kids hadn’t put them back after they used them a couple of weeks ago. They had to use thin gloves and complained about their cold hands. We woke up to a blanket of snow this morning. Are you ready for the winter weather?

Winter storms remind me that the end of the tax year is coming up for most business and individuals. I need to prepare so that I’ll be ready for tax season. I’m going to be looking at a few areas of our finances:

Donations

Non-cash charitable contributions can include toys, cars, clothes, furniture, etc. Here’s the link to the IRS instructions that gives more information for donations that are worth more than $500. Our bookshelves are full. My kids rooms are so full. We are definitely not minimalists and might even be hoarders. I have been putting off Christmas shopping because we don’t have room for more stuff, and I don’t want to buy more stuff that will clutter our home. I’ve decided that we need to get rid of old things to make room for new things. We do a family work project each day. This week we are going to declutter our home. If you itemize deductions on your taxes, decluttering can also provide a tax deduction. Most people know that this is the last month of the year to donate tax-deductible items, but it’s easy to get busy with the holidays and not get around to doing it. I know from experience. So, I’m going to call around this week and find out where these can be donated. We have a van that hasn’t sold, so I started researching about donating cars this morning.

Stock


If you have stock that you would like to donate, check with charitable organizations about how to do this. This can be a great way to donate to your charities. I haven’t personally done this, but have seen it done by tax clients, and it can be a great benefit to you and the charity.

Money


You can always donate money to charities, and there are so many people and charities in need of donations at this time of year.

Retirement Contributions


How much did you contribute to your retirement account this year? Remember that you have until April 15th to contribute to your IRAs, but this is a great time to decide on how much that will be. Especially if you make lump sum contributions instead of regular contributions.

You can check with Wasatch Peak’s Financial Advisor, James Aoki at 801-627-8732, for more information on investing for retirement and the services available to help you.

Collect tax documents

One of my friends kept all of her tax related documents in a folder so that it was ready for tax season. I started doing that a couple of years ago, and it really helped me keep track of donation receipts throughout the year. I spend plenty of time searching for lost items, so anything that can help me with this weakness, is great. This could be done electronically by scanning in receipts. I did that for a while. Experiment and see what works best for you. There are a lot of ways to do this. Do you already do this? If so, please share how you do this.

Withholdings

This will depend on you and what’s available at your job. Did you have too much or too little withheld? Do you want to keep the same amounts for your health savings or cafeteria plans? My husband is starting a new job today, which will make us re-evaluate all of our withholdings, but you don’t have to start a new job in order to do this.

By making a few preparations now, taxes won’t catch you off guard.

Monday, 21 November 2016 23:30

Learning from our budgeting blunders

My daughter is learning to play basketball and loves it so much. We went to her game last Saturday. Even the best basketball players miss a lot of shots. Anyone that knows me, knows I believe in budgeting. Even though I love it, my family has plenty of budgeting blunders.

$62 Dollar Shower

My husband and I met at the beginning of November and planned how we would spend our money this month. We agreed to follow the plan. Some friends invited us to join them for a date night. We didn’t have the money budgeted. I talked to Ty about it, and we decided to pass and planned to have a cheap date instead. We spent the day working outside, and by the end, I really wanted to have a shower. While I was in the shower, a girl came by raising money through selling magazines. Ty has turned down magazine subscriptions before and he often will tell the sales people that he needs to talk to his wife first. He ended up paying $62 for magazine subscriptions, which is about the amount of the date night that we had said no to because we couldn’t afford it.

Why do we sometimes spend money on things that are not important and not urgent? I don’t have an answer. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to pay for them. Ty didn’t know why he did it. At first, I felt upset about this. Then, I realized that I make mistakes, and we can learn from them. We discussed how we would pay for this one, and decided Ty would pay for this with his own spending money since there wasn’t any money for it in the family budget. I joked about how $62 is the most expensive shower I have ever had.

Busting the budget with gasoline expense

This year we bought an SUV, and the transportation budget category has been a struggle for us. We knew that we would spend more on gasoline for the SUV than we did on the van, but our gasoline expense fluctuates quite a bit based on what we are doing that month. I know people who won’t drive if there isn’t money in their gasoline category, but we will still drive to where we need to go. Even though gas is a variable expense, it seems like a fixed expense. Well, we need to solve this problem. We are going to budget money to the vacation fund so that when we go on our family day adventures, it won’t ruin our budget. We recently took a day trip to Idaho to visit Crater of the Moon and Hagerman Fossil Beds. It wasn’t a full vacation so we didn’t budget for it like we would for a vacation, but the price of driving up there was substantial enough to go over the budgeted amount in gasoline.

Holidays can be budget breaking times of the year. It’s easy to give up and wait until the new year to start again, but remember my family’s budgeting blunders. Budgets require flexibility and the ability to change and adjust.

Wasatch Peaks has some great resources to help with our budgeting blunders like the Christmas Club savings accounts to help save up for Christmas, vacations, and more. At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we care about your financial wellness. That’s why Wasatch Peaks partnered with industry-leading BALANCE to provide you with free access to expertly-crafted financial education and resources to help with your financial matters. And should you need, BALANCE can assist with confidential, no-cost financial counseling services to help you develop a sensible budget managing spending and debt. For all your financial life stage changes and more, Wasatch Peaks—in partnership with BALANCE—are here to help. Click here to learn more about the BALANCE Program.

Athletes who are passionate about their sport still miss a lot of shots. They learn from it, and they keep practicing and are successful no matter how many times they miss. Sometimes those mistakes are more valuable than the successes because the pain you experience helps you learn and change. What budgeting blunders have you experienced and what did you learn from them?

Monday, 14 November 2016 18:17

Live a grateful life

About a month ago, I realized that ingratitude was a weakness of mine. So, I set a goal to develop more gratitude and to show my kids how to live a grateful life. Being grateful doesn’t come natural for me. My husband is naturally grateful, which helps him be happy. He can always find some reason to be grateful to me and others. I decided to write this blog because gratitude helps us be financially fit. Thanksgiving reminds me of this.

Thanksgiving traditions can help us be grateful

Yesterday we had a backwards Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t know to expect. Our names were all backward- so my name was “Tan.” We wore our clothes backwards and inside out, which my sons loved! Then, we ate our dinner in reverse order by eating pie first. My husband Ty often says, “We should eat dessert first so that if we die in the middle of our meal, we will die happy.” He got his way yesterday. My mom asked us all to share something for which we felt grateful. Most everyone said they were grateful for family. One child she was grateful for her parents, and her mom was the prettiest. Moments like those make me feel happy and grateful. Our traditional Thanksgiving dinner helps my family appreciate one another- especially since half of my siblings live long distance and couldn’t join us.

One tradition we started last year was to cut down our own Christmas tree. The day after Thanksgiving we went to the mountains and spent the day searching for our tree. The mountains were breathtakingly beautiful covered in fresh snow. I remember feeling so grateful for the outdoors and for this adventure with my family. I felt so grateful to be healthy enough to go do this after feeling sick.

Posting our gratitude on social media

Some of my friends will do gratitude posts on social media, which is a good reminder for me to be grateful. This traditional leading up to Thanksgiving helps them to realize all the good aspects of life.

Losing can helps us to be grateful

Since I am not naturally grateful, I’ve realized that losing what I have is an opportunity for me to be grateful. Losing can help us change. When I get sick, I become a lot more grateful for when I am healthy. Gratitude is a skill that I have to learn by practicing it. When I lose my keys or my phone, I realize how much I use them and appreciate them. On Halloween, I left my keys in my jacket and couldn’t find them. I sure appreciated my mother-in-law for being willing to help with my kids while I found my keys. I hope I will get better at appreciating what I have so it doesn’t need to be taken away. But, when I lose something, I feel more grateful for having had it.

Writing down our experiences

Sometimes my memory is amazing and surprises people with the details that I can remember. Other times, I’ve forgotten the stories that happen during my day by the end of the day. I’ve journaled for a while, but one of my friends suggested that I write my journal entries instead of typing them. This is a lot more effort for me, but it’s helping me to be grateful.

Say Thank You

This is so simple that I almost didn’t include it, but my kids point out that I am often critical, so I’ve been looking for chances to thank others. There was a librarian who located a hard to find book for me. I sent her an email thanking her. She gave credit to all of her staff and shared the email with them. I also try to pay attention to when my kids are helpful or obedient and thank them for helping me out. I try to give my attention to those people and things that are great and stop being critical.

Gratitude helps my husband to be content. Contentment brings happiness where ever you are. There is always the enticement of something better, but gratitude can prevent that. Creating traditions and learning from losses, writing down my experiences, and saying thank you help me to learn gratitude.

What are some Thanksgiving traditions that help you be grateful?

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