fiscal responsibility

I am almost done my mat leave. I am 18 months into living in New City. I am 35 years old. I am taking stock.

I have some savings, but they are only, when all pooled together, enough to buy a non-luxury car. Which is not much when one considers I’m pretty deep into my working years, but, if being fair, is pretty good considering I spent a full eleven years in post-secondary education and have no debt to show for it.

I have watched my mother pick up the shambles of her finances following the passing of my step-father, who, it turned out, was merrily driving them into ruin. I am currently watching my father and step-mother navigate an extremely rocky path forward that appears to be driven more by financial dependency/greed than affection.

I do not want my retirement plan to be “Pea’s got us covered”, because that leaves me deeply vulnerable. I have made a good salary for 18 months now, where before it was, if not hand-to-mouth exactly, certainly not plush enough for any significant retirement planning.

I have spent the last 18 months buying a house (equity!), and, frankly, throwing a lot of money at a lot of problems. I have had both more money and more problems than usual. I have not had the bandwidth to do more than solve problems however problems needed to be solved. Airplane tickets. Hotel rooms. Trains, so many trains. I do not have much in the way of savings to show for a year and a half of salary, and I can directly attribute that to the year that it was.

I have not been able to account for my money for the past 18 months, and that is so far out of character that it makes me blink, twice, hard. I spent some desperately-needed-elsewhere time today making up a spreadsheet to track my finances moving forward. I set up some direct transfers to a retirement account, so some saving happens without me thinking about it.

We are going to have to add childcare into the mix come September, and I want to know where I stand before we negotiate how to split that cost. Pea’s tax return this year was the size of a salaried care-giver (the joy of doubled tax on foreign investments once he moved to Canuckia; at least he got most of it back), so I know we can afford it. I want to know what I can afford.

And I want to be sure that I’ll be ok no matter what life throws at me down the road.

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