Finances: Just my 2 cents

I remember when I was younger I would always say that when I first got married, I wanted to be "poor" with my husband for awhile. We would live in some tiny, dumpy apartment, but I would make it cute with my amazing decorating skills. We would eat Top Ramen every night and be forced to walk to work. I don't know what was wrong with me, but I thought that sounded appealing.

 The problem is, that is what a lot of people actually are living. Just a little disclaimer: I realize that as a 23 year old who has been blessed to have a job and a husband who has one too, this can come off sounding a little pretentious. But after a year of working at a bank and years of managing my own finances, this is simply what I have learned.
The year after High School, I had a great nanny job. I made more than enough money, so I lived very comfortably. I bought a nice car, I bought clothes all the time, and I went out and played nearly every night. I had it made in the shade. 

Then, I lost my job and decided to go to college.
I don't want to be a stereotype here, but the two years I spent up at college were the poor-est of my life. I was so poor I never turned down dates because I couldn't afford to miss out on a free meal. I was so poor I would drive home to Brigham, then have to beg my parents to borrow gas money so I could get back home. I was so poor that I took out school loans to pay for my rent and school, and I will regret that decision forever. The problem, really, was that I was inexplicably poor, because I was working two jobs and really not spending a lot of money. I can honestly tell you I don't know where my money went.

Finally, I couldn't afford to stay in Logan anymore, and I couldn't afford another semester of school without some serious grants. So I moved back home, and then it just so happened that I ended up getting married. I didn't realize it, but this was a major turning point for me. My husband is very good with money and I am so grateful for that! (And as a side note, weddings are great because people pay you for it. You will never again receive so much money from strangers for doing something you were going to do anyway. It's great.)
I won't say we haven't struggled, but I am always amazed at how a few small choices we made have made all the difference for us financially.
First and foremost, BUY A HOUSE.

I know plenty of people will disagree with me on this one, but hear me out: Homeowners get rich, Renters get poor. We pay a heck of a lot less for our mortgage payment than we do for rent, and we're essentially paying it to ourselves. It's the sad, sorry truth. Here's my response to the excuses I've heard: 
"We're planning on living out of the state someday." Great. Move out of the state someday. Until then, own a home. When the time comes, you can sell your house, or rent it out. Caleb and I have lived in our house for 1 year, and I'm confident that if we decided to pack up and leave tomorrow, we could sell it, most likely for more than what we paid. Which means we not only lived here rent-free for a year, but we also got paid to live here.
"We need to save the 20% down." Not right now! The loan we got allows you to move in for 0% down. That's like renting... with no security deposit. That's like getting paid to save the 20% down on your next house.
"I will have to pay for my own repairs if there is no landlord!" This is true, as we realized soon after we moved in. We had a flood in our basement, and getting the pipes snaked was not cheap. However, if I paid $500 a month to a landlord, I would expect a lot more to be getting fixed. Whichever way to turn it, you're still throwing money out the window.
"We don't qualify." That's what we thought too. We were actually kind of embarrassed to go in and give our information to the mortgage lender. I thought she'd laugh us right out of there. But we were both working part-time at Maddox, and we qualified for quite a bit more than what we actually spent. Which brings me to an important thing: buy what you need, not what you want. We would have loved to spend an extra 50,000 on a house and be somewhere really nice, but our house will fit our needs for the next 10 years, and that's also enough time for us to pay it off.
I realize I sound like a bad realtor's brochure, but buying a house was honestly one of the best decisions we've made, and we've never regretted it!
Finally, working at the bank taught me one very important lesson: It's not how much you make, it's what you do with what you make. I was always amazed to see that most people who were old enough to be my parents, who each had great jobs and made significantly more than I do, had a lot less money in the bank. They made a lot more withdrawals than they did deposits, so despite their high incomes, they had less and less money each month. So, my biggest advice: learn to save, and be diligent about it. We decided to save a certain amount each week to pay off our debts (back to those horrible school loans again) and we've been able to do so pretty well. 
I don't mean to offend anyone or act like I have any clue at all what I'm talking about, but I've learned a lot these last few years. I've learned that you don't have to live the way I was living before. I went from having my credit line maxed out at all times, to actually being comfortable, and if I can help someone avoid feeling how I felt in college, then it's a success!

1 comment:

  1. Whew, gutsy advice this time!

    Student Loans! TERRIBLE....if not used as a prudent financial investment tool.

    Buying a Home! So Smart!! MANY, but not all, circumstances.