When I was diagnosed everything became about LIVING FOR THE MOMENT. We wanted to do as much as possible while I was still mobile. Since we had not traveled as much as we would have liked we started there. Two years in a row we took whirlwind trips with the kids making sure they had these memories to fall back on should my decline be rapid. I don’t regret the decisions we made & we had the money to cover it so it was a net positive for our family. Two years later and my mobility has only slightly decreased, we are less panicked, and in the midst of the pandemic the smoke has cleared on a lot of our previous behaviours.
Like a lot of people though, we’ve really been able to reflect on things during the pandemic. If there is one thing we’ve become good at seeing, it’s our own patterns of behaviour. Because things have slowed down so significantly we’ve been able to finally see what needs to be changed. One of the things that has really stood out is our feast-or-famine spending style.
When things are going really well at Mr. Tucker’s work his attitude is, “Jeez, I could work here forever!” We tend to let the good times roll & spend a lot more money on extras. Then when he goes through a particularly difficult time at work we remember that if we saved more, he wouldn’t have to work forever. It’s our pattern and it’s been like that for a long time. This feast-or-famine way of managing money has worked because we never overspend but it still has left us spinning our wheels with long-term goals.
So in November we decided to sit down and plan out what we’d like to do & then we came up with a 3-year plan to achieve our goals. Here is what our list looked like:
– Finally do a will and get our estate affairs in order
– Fully fund the kid’s RESPs (Registered Education Savings Program) & buy back the missing years in order to receive the $1000 grant
– Start & catch up with the RDSP (Registered Disability Savings Plan) so to get the full $1000 grant
…and the biggest one of all:
– Live off of my income for everything and put all of Mr. Tucker’s income into his RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)
That really is the biggest goal of them all: living on one salary for everything is a huge undertaking for us. It means we are budgeted really tightly down to the dollar with very little wiggle room. It still covers all of our needs (food, shelter, bills), many of our wants (camps, music lessons, entertainment), and all the other savings I mentioned above (and some I didn’t, such as emergency savings). We will still go to the cottage every year on vacation and still keep our hobbies but we will actually have to stop and think of spending now instead of living on autopilot. Spending in one area means that it will have to come from another place so it forces us to make decisions as to what we really want.
So why would we choose to do this? Because if things go well we can pay off our house & Mr. Tucker can retire from paid work if he wants in 3-3.5 years. That’s huge. It doesn’t mean he will retire from paid work, it just gives him the option.
One of the things about being disabled that is always on the forefront of your mind is what your trajectory will be 1, 3, 5 etc…years from now. I don’t know the future but the reality is that every day I have will probably the best day I ever will have. The other reality is that our parents aren’t getting any younger and will probably need more assistance as the years go on. Sure, we have siblings who can help as well but we really didn’t want Mr. Tucker working a high-stress job with long hours, parenting two teenagers, caring for a disabled wife, AND having to go check in on our elderly parents. We wanted to set ourselves up so that if he had to take a leave of absence, he could without having to worry about our finances.
Of course, we don’t expect that our plan won’t be without its hiccoughs but these hiccoughs will happen whether or not we are saving towards our goal. We also fully suspect that we may need to make changes down the line, which is also fine. We are totally flexible and can review how things are going a few months down the road & adjust where necessary. Still, we are both happy to have sorted a lot of our financial life out and are looking forward to seeing how well we can do on our current plan. I will keep you updated!