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Are You Moving the Ball Forward with Your Personal Finances?

Updated: Apr 27



"Move the ball forward." A sports analogy from my father boiled down all of his #guidance over the years. The expression assumes that each generation has "moved the ball forward" further down field, increasing #income, growing #assets, and providing more than the #generation before. My father started using this expression more often in the last few years, but an internal self-motivation to build my own #wealth, establish my #independence, and provide a comfortable life for my young family as my parents provided me, was always an energy within me. I believe it is part inherent personality traits, part birth order (being first born), and part natural work ethic that has catalyzed this internal energy driving me towards more in life.

The time period between 2014 and 2015 involved the most change in my life and the greatest opportunity to "move the ball forward". My wife and I were #married in middle of 2014 and before that year was finished we had purchased and completed a partially constructed home . Only a few months later we welcomed our #firstchild. Though I didn't change #jobs, my wife exited the work force for more time to help us raise our child. These 2 years brought many blessings, but also several significant shifts in our financial life. We are currently very fortunate and hope to keep our family legacy advancing further through our generation and the next.


I was extremely fortunate up until this time period as well. My family experience growing up was filled with many #blessings. When good fortune didn't cross our path, consistent hard work, commitment to doing what is right, and prioritizing our faith and our family always helped us through. Many of the challenges my parents worked through were often hidden from me and my siblings. Now my family, and especially me personally, have to move the ball forward with dependencies that are completely new.



Let Me Introduce Myself


My name is Jim, I am a husband and father, I have focused my career in the healthcare finance arena. When I take some free time to read I naturally look for personal finance and productivity content. I have always enjoyed personal finance and feel I had a unique start building a solid financial foundation. Maximizing my Roth IRA every year since I was 16 as just one key example of how I have taken ownership of my financial state and my effort to move the ball forward. I truly enjoy learning about personal finance and investing my free time to advance my knowledge.

What I soon noticed was that many, perhaps most, people would not first pick up a Money magazine, personal finance book, or read a personal finance blog if given the time. Furthermore, most people wouldn't jump at the chance to build a budget spreadsheet that would capture a personal financial picture more accurately than what others offered in the market. I also began realizing that as my life evolved and new elements like a spouse, new home, and child entered the picture the current state changed a lot. My reaction to these blessings would determine how well I could advance the financial legacy of my generation.


Through my journey, I have attempted to implement many different tools and strategies, apps, and software to capture and report my financial performance. Many tools o. I just felt that when I was using certain personal finance tools I was becoming smarter but still working harder. Finding automation was difficult, but I was determined to crack that elusive code. I knew what mattered most, but was spending my time entering information and less time evaluating the information. The battles I faced each day babysitting vendors, keeping track of open items, and bringing issues to closure were abundant, but the problems seemed to only grow over time. Despite these challenges, I am very blessed, and still need to advance my financial situation and take steps forward not letting adversity keep me in my tracks or push me back.


The Challenges I Faced


Most agree that the mantras "work #smarternotharder", "#automate what you can in your life", "focus on what matters most", and "pick your battles" are all wise #adages. I just felt that when I was using certain personal finance tools I was becoming smarter but still working harder. Finding automation was difficult, but I was determined to crack that elusive code. I knew what mattered most, but was spending my time entering information and less time evaluating the information. The battles I faced each day babysitting vendors, keeping track of open items, and bringing issues to closure were abundant, but the problems seemed to only grow over time. Despite these challenges I am very blessed, and still need to advance my financial situation and take steps forward not letting adversity keep me in my tracks or push me back.

Layer on top of the merging of two grown adult financial lives, the transition from an apartment and condo into a single-family home. The budget line items are different and the magnitude of the items that are the same increases as a result. There is no historical trending that can help provide an order of magnitude for how much we will be spend in certain areas. Surprises were common in the first year of home ownership whether it was paying for water bills that seemed sky high after watering freshly planted sod and plants and electric bills that whipped high and low as we worked to find what temperature our family preferred over the course of the year. These may seem insignificant but then there was the desire to decorate our new but stark home which added more to the spending picture. Shortly after settling into our home we welcomed our son adding a whole additional layer of spending.


Layer on top of the merging of two grown adult for how we spend our free time, manage our money, and prepare for the future is challenging enough. When you add the birth of a child there are expenses that grown adults without children are just simply unfamiliar. Diapers, baby clothes, items we didn't even know existed, all factored into a significant two years of change in our financial life. If I was going to move the ball forward I had to figure out quickly where the ball was at right now and outline the paths to take that ball further downfield. I was doing well on my own towards this goal, but now I had a wife, son, and golden retriever to account for in those plans. Time is of the essence to get the current state captured, outline the goals for the future like college education and retirement, and develop a path towards a successful future and of course moving the ball forward in my generation for my child's generation.



Where is the Ball Right Now?


Two grown adults who have established #routines for how we spend our free time, manage our money, and prepare for the future is challenging enough. When you add the birth of a child there are expenses that grown adults without children are just simply unfamiliar. Diapers, baby clothes, items we didn't even know existed, all factored into a significant two years of change in our financial life. If I was going to move the ball forward I had to figure out quickly where the ball was at right now and outline the paths to take that ball further down field. I was doing well on my own towards this goal, but now I had a wife, son, and golden retriever to account for in those plans. Time is of the essence to get the current state captured, outline the goals for the future like college education and retirement, and develop a path towards a successful future and of course moving the ball forward in my generation for my child's generation.




Those were the challenges I faced in a short period of time. I tried numerous methods to bring order to my personal finances, but each approach didn't seem to cut it. The next article covers my exploration of different tools and techniques I attempted and where I feel they came up short. Discussing money and certainly sharing financial challenges is never easy and perhaps taboo. I choose to temper this mindset with my passion for personal finance combined with my unrelenting drive to solve problems leaving everything I touch better than I found it. Perhaps something you have read here resonates with what you are feeling or experiencing. More likely, the desire to make my money flow more naturally and effectively is the same for you and your money. We can and we will move the ball forward.


If you like what you read here you'll like the next post: Are you short on time and long on financial distractions too?


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Jim

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