Saturday, December 13, 2008

How We Do It

I spend a good hour or two each day staring at my spreadsheet. (I know I should probably see someone about that...) I blame being a bit of a control freak plus being self employed for my behaviour! As my income fluctuates each month, I feel like I'm constantly having to gage cash flow.

It isn't as bad as I maybe making it sound because most of the time, I have a reasonable approximation of monthly income simply based on how many days I work. The most I have been "off" has been 15% this year a couple of times which definitely creates a ripple effect throughout the rest of the year. So I go and adjust the rest of the year's numbers and modify savings goals etc.

My husband, who is salaried, takes care of all of the automatic monthly bills (utilities, insurance, taxes, food, everything that keeps everything running). I take care of the rest. How I do affects how much savings we put aside, how much prepayment on the mortgages we make each month, if we can get to go skiing or to Europe, if there are house, car, cottage, condo repairs etc. etc.

Each summer, I anxiously await the next year's day timers to come out so I can plot my holidays etc and orchestrate my working days so that my income can be as evenly spread out as possible. (ok, now I'm really embarrassed!)

I know how many working days I need to work each year to end up within a salary band that works for our financial goals. 2009 will be the 2nd year I'll be following this method. I will re-evaluate if absolutely necessary but I feel I've built in enough of a margin to make it work.

For a less "fly by the seat of your pants" approach to family finances, check out Money Minder's post!


  1. Thanks for checking out my blog :)

    I'm obsessed with my budget spreadsheet as well, and I look at it almost every day. I even gave it a rainbow of colours so it's nicer to look at.

  2. Hi Middle Way,

    Thanks for this post. I'm also self-employed, just without the husband and a regular income, so mine wholely fluctuates. I used to stare at my spreadsheet and bank statements everyday at first. Now, after 7 years of planning my cashflow around the number of days I work, I do it about once a month.

    Like you, I feel semi-retired too since I work probably half the number of days my full-time salaried friends do. I like it this way. When there's work tomorrow, I'm thankful for the income. When there's no work, I'm thankful for the rest. Can life get any better?

  3. You sound very organized. I don't wait for next year's calendar, I have a Palm Pilot, so I can plan years in advance, carry my spreadsheets with me (how anal is that?), and constantly refer to my to do lists.

    Thanks for the link in your post :)

  4. @ Karissa Dee -- I just started to use colour too! Much more cheery!

    @ Daphne -- It is so great to hear that it will get easier! I hope to get things to a point where it is once a month! Right now, I'd be happy with twice a month!

    I too have similar work philosophy -- I'm grateful for either. It is truly freeing to have enough work and enough time.

    @ Money Minder -- Oh my goodness, I didn't know Palm Pilots do those things...I don't know if it is a good thing I know that now...I've been called a luddite several times now by my husband!