Hello, friends! Happy Tuesday! A long time ago, I asked if you all would be interested in an occasional money series on Em for Marvelous. Turns out you were interested (as was I), but nothing ever happened. And that’s pretty sad to me, because I LOVE talking about all aspects of money management, and financial literacy, especially amongst young people, is a huge passion of mine and John’s.
So, better late than never, right? I thought we’d try a once-a-week series for the length of January (since so many people put financial goals on their New Year’s lists!), then slim down to maybe a once a month post until I run out of things to say or y’all get bored. I have lots of ideas for future posts, but please let me know in the comments if there’s something in particular you’d like me to cover!
To begin, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about our money story, so you can see where I’m coming from and decide for yourself whether or not you’d like to take my advice :) I think there’s a lot of power in taking a hard look at your money past, and really thinking about your ideal money future, so I’d encourage you to do the same after you read this! Here goes!
I can remember writing out an allowance savings plan for Breyer horses when I was in fourth grade. I started saving for my wedding my freshman year of college. (Don’t worry, I didn’t tell anyone.) I opened an IRA the following year. Though I was and always have been a saver and a planner, I didn’t become passionate about personal finance until John did.
Lover of ponies and planning from a young age (I’m on the right)
Like me, he was definitely hardwired with more than your usual dose of responsibility at a young age, but was not overly concerned about money management. We both started our college careers with a decent amount of savings in the bank (for seventeen-year-olds), but by the time spring semester rolled around, John was scraping the bottom of the barrel. This is mostly my fault (though indirectly), as most of it disappeared through monthly fresh flower deliveries (we attended schools ten hours apart at the time), plane tickets for visits, and food and entertainment during said visits. The rest can best be explained by living in a city for the first time — the general expense of dining out, etc. — and the lack of a job to replace the outflow.
Visiting John in DC spring 2006!
So when the last few weeks of the semester rolled around, his accounts had pretty much run dry, to the point where he needed a cash infusion from his parents to continue eating for the last few weeks. Even though this might not seem like much of a reckoning, it left scars that now run quite deep in John’s psyche. Because he loves his parents, respects them so much, and is so grateful for everything they’ve done for him, he HATED imposing on them in that way, especially when they were already generously funding his schooling. This experience, combined with his world-altering discovery of and subsequent love for economics freshman year, put him on a firm path toward personal financial excellence, and gave him a huge passion for helping others to become financially fit, as well. I was (and still am!) happy to be along for the ride!
We both held part-time jobs for the rest of college, followed individual written budgets, and finished in good financial shape, with savings in the bank and (small) IRAs and investment accounts in our names. I had a few student loans, but thankfully they were not as serious as many of my peers’. The wedding savings account was coming along nicely :)
Then, I decided to take a job in North Carolina with a very uncertain salary situation. We moved basically sight unseen the summer after we graduated. Thankfully, my salary became regular and decent fairly quickly, but for a year and a half, we were a one-income household while John searched for a job. Even though we lived frugally, this ate away at much of both of our savings.
Once John started working (in October 2010, in the financial sector), our financial burden lessened substantially, and we were able to really concentrate for the first time on our financial goals. We initially focused on saving for our wedding, and ultimately contributed 20% of the total cost (September 2012). At the same time, we squirreled money away in our emergency fund until we finished funding it in January 2012. All the while, we paid down our three student loans and two car loans, paying off the first of the five in December 2012. At the same time, we’ve been vigorously putting money away into our down payment fund, and are now at our minimum goal. Throughout, we’ve stayed on track with a written budget, and stayed focused by working toward tithing and giving to other organizations and causes close to our heart.
Whew! That’s a lot to let loose in one post (and you know I was chomping at the bit throughout to add explanations and even more detail!!). I’ll be back next week with some more thoughts on our overall money philosophy, but in the meantime, I’d love to know: would you consider yourself, at heart, a spender or a saver? And, is there anything in particular you’d like me to cover in future posts? Budgeting? Retirement savings? Debt? Investing in general? Let me know!