Over the past two years, financial health has been at the forefront of my life. Sam and I took the leap into a world of budgeting, planning, and financial organization a few months after we got married. It was our New Year’s Resolution in 2014 to get a handle on our personal finances and figure out how to live the life we want—both now, in our 20s, and in the future.
I should start out by saying that Sam and I didn’t think about money the same way when we first started combining our finances. My philosophy was always to save every little penny, work side-jobs for extra cash, and spend as little as possible so I could save up for some unforeseen financial hurdle at some point in my future. Saving was important to Sam, too, but he also spent money (very reasonably) on things he enjoyed rather than storing it all for some later time. Sam also knew how much money he had and where his paycheck went for taxes, 401(k), health insurance, and savings…whereas I just knew I had some money in a bank account somewhere and it would be there when I needed it.
The good thing is that we both valued saving and planning for the future. However, our perspectives differed on how to save, when to spend, and what we wanted to accomplish with our money. Perhaps most importantly, neither of us had a definitive game plan for how to get from where we were to where we wanted to be.
A few acquaintances mentioned Dave Ramsey to us, and it was intriguing for a lot of reasons. For one, it was incredibly cost-effective for the two of us to buy the lessons and it seemed like a good long-term plan that we could carry with us for the rest of our lives. We weren’t looking for a “get rich quick” methodology; we wanted a system that would work for us for the next 40-50 years. I should be honest, though, and state the the most important thing about the Financial Peace University (FPU) classes is that they aligned with our schedules and we could start the following week. I’m notorious for changing my mind a lot, so we decided to jump on the financial train while it was still fresh in our minds.
So that was how Sam and I—two not-really-at-all-religious newlyweds—found ourselves sitting in a church classroom with a bunch of strangers who were all considerably older than us. Our naivety was stronger than ever at that moment: we were entirely unaware that FPU had a powerful Christian undercurrent and was spearheaded by an evangelical who emphasized finding God as much (or maybe more) as he emphasized building wealth. As the true intention of FPU made itself more evident during the course of that evening, we silently squirmed uncomfortably in our chairs, waiting until we were safe in our car to discuss whether or not this “come to debt-free Jesus” moment was right for us.
In the end, we decided to stick with it. We felt confident in our capacity to trim the religious fat off the financial meat; if we could endure a few sermons in the midst of our education, we knew the information we gathered about getting out of debt and saving money would be worth it in the long run. Sure enough, we were right.
Ten weeks later, we graduated from the class and were well on our way to paying off the last of our student loans, saving for emergencies, and planning ahead for things that are important to us (vacations, our home, retirement, etc.). A few months after that, we were free of all non-mortgage debt and were growing our liquid assets. We took an awesome trip to Europe (in addition to some smaller trips in the US) and were living a financially-comfortable life. Our house is up for sale now, and when that sells, we will be entirely debt-free at the age of 27. I cannot express how gratifying that will be when it finally happens!
During the course of our financial journey (which we both see as a lifelong endeavor), a lot of our friends have asked us how we’re able to do what we do. A lot of my friends have student loan debt, house debt, credit card debt, car loans, childcare payments, or some other heavy financial obligations. They’re curious about how Sam and I can be in the situation we’re in at such a young age, and assume that it must be some kind of money witchcraft business.
The short answer is that it isn’t magic, and we work really hard to live the way we do. The long answer is better told in a bunch of short answers. That’s why I’m excited to announce a new series on this blog called Mo Money! Every Thursday, I’ll share financial advice for twentysomethings (or thirtysomethings or fortysomethings) based on the things Sam and I have learned about finances over the years.
If there’s one thing I’d like to emphasize about the Mo Money posts, it’s that my intention is to share our personal experiences as guidelines, not the only right way to do something. Budgeting and spending are different for everyone, and the most important thing is finding what works for you. My examples, antidotes, and advice stems from my personal knowledge and shouldn’t be taken as fact or the only way to do things. Hopefully by sharing my experiences, you can find a way to make changes in your own life and start building wealth in ways that works for you!
I am very excited to share this part of my life that I’ve grown to be quite passionate about over the past two years. I hope you’ll join me here next week for the first official post!
Do you have any topics you’d like me to cover? Let me know in the comments!