How you spend your money matters. Whether you’re making $40,000 or $100,000 we all make choices about the way we spend our money. I believe our relationship with money often comes from our parent’s relationship with money. When I was young, my parents opted for expensive daycares and private schools to give my brother and me every opportunity they never had. Could my parents afford private school? Hardly. They did it because they felt it was best for us, but at the end of the month there was not much money left over and it wasn’t as if they were spending it on themselves. My parents worked hard over the years to put themselves in a good position financially, and I believe all of this has to do with the way I view money today. It’s this view that causes my husband to often call me the “fun police”. I have big goals and am always looking ten steps ahead.
After college graduation I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to start paying off my $22,000 in student loans, save for a wedding and a house. So, I did it. In 2011, I was 22 years old, living with my parents, putting $300/month into a home savings account, and working away at my student loans. Before you assume I was working some high paying job, I better set the record straight. My first job, post-college graduation, was for a Seattle merchandising startup making $30,000 a year. I was working 60+ hours a week, and had very little to show for it. In April of 2012, I was promoted, which included a pay increase to $37,000 a year. Over the next year, I had several other (small) pay increases and continued saving and reducing my student debt.
In May 2013, I got engaged. My husband and I decided to put our wedding off until September of 2014 so we could save. In December of 2013, I made my final loan payment. I had also been looking for a new job and was hired by a larger Seattle company. At that point, I received a larger pay increase.While it would have been easy to spend more money since I was making more, I stuck to saving for a house and our upcoming wedding. We received help from our families for the wedding, but still had to come up with $10,000 on our own. By September 2014, we were able to save the money and celebrate our marriage debt free, which was an amazing feeling.
Once the student loans were paid and the wedding was over, there was only one thing left; our house. If you’re familiar with the current housing market in Seattle (or many other places throughout the country) you know that a lot of properties are going for $100,000 or more ABOVE list price. In the area we were looking, there was nothing available below $450,000. We put in four total offers and looked for seven straight months. Every weekend was spent at open houses and multiple weekdays found us walking through homes throughout Seattle. My husband works nights, so I would go walk through them after work and if I liked them, I would bring him back to look at them the next day. If I knew they weren’t a contender, I didn’t even bother. It was a stressful process but in the end we ended up where we wanted to be. In June 2015, we closed on our house. We had saved enough to have the necessary $79,000 (down payment and closing costs) needed for our home.
What do I know? I know my goals. I tend to drive my husband crazy because when I get an idea in my head, I won’t stop until I get it, and when I graduated college, I had three big money goals: loans, wedding, house. At the age of 26, I’ve accomplished them all. Now that we are in our home, we’ve set a new goal to beef up our savings before we decide to start a family. I am constantly fielding questions from friends and family about my savings plans. The goal for this blog is to inform them, and other young people, how you can really get what you want in life by making smart money decisions. But my best advice is simply to know what you want and don’t stop until you get it.