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For too many years, money ran through my fingers like water. Giving little thought to the long-term, I made unwise financial choices. When the economic downturn hit our family in 2009, it was a stern wake up call.  I desperately want to stop the cycle of overspending, overdrafts, and arguing about money that was the norm in my childhood home and was too quickly becoming the norm in my own home.

Like most parents, my husband and I want our children to have a happy childhood and grow up to be financially responsible adults, but we were not positive role models of the right way to manage money. After a loud argument over another overdrawn bank statement, it became glaringly apparent that our choices had to change if we want them to grow up happy and with good money habits.

Making Choices, Making Changes

I made the decision to save a quarter of our income so we could have an emergency fund. It sounded crazy when I proposed the idea to my husband, but he was on board.

I moved to a cash envelope budget, and when the cash was gone, the spending was done. It wasn’t easy to change my spending habits, but I cut every conceivable extra and scouted out free ways to meet our needs. We swallowed our pride and went on food stamps. (We dropped them this February.) We planned a $100 holiday, spending just $100 on Christmas gifts for everyone on our list.

My main motivators and biggest (and cutest!) cheerleaders, my two kids, excitedly helped me find spare change on the ground and take in recycling. They accompanied me babysitting and helped to count coins to add to the tally. We kept a thermometer chart on the wall and my five-year-old son was excited to help me color it when we added to our savings.

Maintaining Motivation

We’ve had unexpected expenses and have sacrificed to save, but having everyone working together has helped me to maintain motivation. It definitely hasn’t been easy, but I met my goal in December and we celebrated as a family! Ideas from the many personal finance books I’ve read have rubbed off on me, and I’ve rubbed off on my son. If you ask him, “what’s money for?”he’ll tell you that money is to manage first, save second, and spend third. It took me more than 30 years to understand that!

My kids have been the reason for me to finally take responsibility for my finances, and I finally feel like I’m doing right by them as the positive role model they deserve. I hope that my effort now motivates them to be financially responsible for their entire lives.

Other Yakezie Blog Swap Posts
(I stole the list from Kevin at Thousandaire who was our fearless leader for this swap!)

  •  Thousandaire with Snubbed for “Most Likely To Succeed” at Life and My Finances.
  • Life And My Finances with Fear, Family and Independence at Thousandaire.
  • Khaleef writes about how how his faith drives his finances at My Personal Finance Journey.
  • Jacob shares the three things he does to keep focus and motivation at KNS Financial.
  • Andrea writes about how she is finally done with debt even though her friend might not be at Money Sanity.
  • Alan shares 5 Great Reasons to be Financially Responsible at So Over Debt.
  • Kevin talks about experiencing the world at Financial Success for Young Adults.
  • LaTisha D Styles says Financial Freedom Brings Options at Debt Eye.
  • Robert tells the world 10 Things That Motivate Him to be Financially Responsible at The Single Saver.
  • Denise talks about real life Horror Scenes and their Financial Impact at The College Investor.
  • Jason shares how three little monsters, better known as children, keep him financially focused at Narrow Bridge.
  • Eric just wants to Live the High Life, whether that’s being active and single today or settling down in the future, and shares at Live Real, Now.
  • Justin talks about taking after his financially responsible mother and wants to provide for his family at Mom’s Plans.
  • Melissa talks about finding enough money to send her kids to Japanese school so they can learn their dad’s language at Money is the Root.
  • Dave learned his lessons about gambling in college and now wants to retire young.
  • Joe is about to be an asset millionaire, but he’s in it for the kids, not the money, and shares at Invest it Wisely.
  • Kevin shares a powerful story about growing up in poverty and taking control of his life as an adult at Smart Money Focus.
  • Barbara Friedberg has some tips for you at Money in the 20s.