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You Don’t Always Have to Do More Than Your Past Self

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Do MoreDo you feel that you need to compete with yourself? Are you always trying to do better than you last year? Do you take into account that your situation might not be the same? Sometimes you don’t have to do more than your past self. And it’s okay.

The Need To Do More:

When I started dating Scott my mother would encourage me not to get anything too expensive for a gift. If you were to spend $100 on a birthday present then you would need to top it the next year. I have always disagreed with that. You don’t always need to go bigger and bigger. There have been some years for our anniversary (wedding/dating) we have spent $$$$ (aka coffee maker and jewelry). There have been other years we have spent very little money because we just didn’t have it (aka just having a baby, broke students, new house etc). We access each year as it comes and make decisions on what we can and want to do. No problem and no feeling that we need to top last year. Somehow I do feel differently about how much we are investing in the next couple of years based on what we have done in the past.

Why Is This Important?

This should also apply to other parts of our life as well but it never does. I’m off on maternity leave and while we are putting money aside for retirement consistently and re-investing our tax refund it’s not as much as we have put in the past when we were DINKS (dual income, no kids). We also lost 25% of our income when Scott lost his job. All of that combined means we were going to take some type of hit to our retirement. But for some reason now I’m feeling extra hard on myself that we can’t invest as much into our RRSPs as we want. I feel like we are failing.

Big Short Term Costs:

We started our new budget in January to prepare for the cost of daycare in September. When I go back to work daycare and the mortgage will eat almost 50% of our net pay. That is a lot of money however it is only temporary. Daycare is a short term but necessary investment into both of our careers. But it will cause us to have a tighter cash flow than normal. Meaning we don’t have as much money to go around. Logically this all makes sense to me but I can’t shake the feeling that we aren’t doing as much as we should.

I could pay ourselves first and take the money off the top but I know that the quality of our lives would go down. Part of making a budget is to make it realistic with your numbers. I can’t expect to have 50% of our income go to house + daycare and spend another 20% on retirement. We don’t spend a ton of money on stuff but that wouldn’t be enough to cover food, taxes and other basic needs.

We Will be Okay:

So at this point the best solution for our family is do what we can during this expensive time and kick start things back into gear once we have reduced daycare costs. We still have money sitting in our investments from 7 years of saving. We hope to have our mortgage paid off in less than 10 years which will free up even more cash flow. With 25-30 years to go until traditional retirement age slowing down for 3-4 likely won’t impact things too much.

I only wish I could accept this decision a little more and not feel like we are failing. I’m trying and I might not get there and that’s okay. Part of what makes me me is that I love to challenge myself. The other side of the coin is that I’m HARD on myself when I’m doing what I “think” I could be doing regardless of how illogical it might be.

Have you ever had to scale back your goals temporary and felt that the decision was tough? How did you overcome it? Let me know in the comments.

Sarah

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