So there we were – back in 2008 – with $10,000 to our little newlywed names.
And as a side note, now is probably a good time to say thanks, mom and dad, for paying for college!! Really, none of this could have happened without their help which allowed us to enter our marriage debt free.
So…our rent at the time was $320 per month and we were both making entry-level incomes. My income went up to $34,000 with the new non-profit job and Matt was still making $20,000 working part-time and getting about $2,000 a year, I’d say, from music gigs. Most of this money he would put back into music – new gear, travel, etc – so we didn’t really count in into the mix. He was touring at the time quite a lot and had this very flexible job as a bar manager at a local restaurant that allowed him to work whenever he was in town.
Eventually, Matt got his first social media job with a startup company where he would also work at a restaurant that was part of the venue/business. We actually tag-teamed this portion of the job on the weekends, so I would occasionally take a shift while he was traveling with a band.
I mention all this for those trying to make a more creative-type career work. There are ways and we never would have been able to do this if we hand’t just asked. Our managers or business owners didn’t have a problem with it; we worked hard and always gave every company we worked for an honest day’s hard work, and normally a lot more than that.
We were working hard and having a lot of fun. I was living the high life with my dream environmental legislation job with an office downtown that was within walking distance from our apartment in the Fort. We were surrounded by our college friends, so the living arrangement was basically heaven for us. We were both doing what we loved and having a lot of fun hosting bonfires an night with our friends and watching the Boomsday fireworks from our backyard. Everything we could possibly need was within walking distance. It was basically like college all over again but with more money, and we each had a roommate we liked a WHOLE lot. ;)
We were 24-years-old, in love and VERY happy.
So we just kept. saving. money. We both drove the cars our parents had bought us when we had turned 16 (and actually drove them up until about a year ago!). We cooked most meals in the 800-square-foot apartment but actually had a pretty good amount of money left over to go out with friends when we wanted. Matt’s lunch meals were normally covered by the restaurants he worked at and he often brought food home for me.
We didn’t think it was worth buying a new TV and got a donated couch from a friend (which to this day we both think was the best couch we ever had). At the time, I didn’t have interior design expectations, so there were these hideous plaid kitchen curtains I look back on now and laugh at, but I don’t even think I noticed them back then.
Our vacations became Matt’s gigs that gave us an opportunity to travel to New York and Arizona among other places. We were so busy with work and Matt with touring that we didn’t have time for expensive vacations to Europe, etc, so that also was a no-brainer for us. On the up side, these group road trips were even more fun because we got to be with friends, and to this day have been some of my favorite memories of our newly married life together.
To put it in a nutshell, we didn’t spend a lot of money and I don’t remember feeling like we were compromising much. We were saving, and saving and saving more.
Here’s an idea of how it looked:
Combined income after taxes, SS, etc.: $54,000 (roughly $3,600 per month)
Food: $1000/month (extra money here also covered tickets to see a movie and mini date nights)
Individual ‘Fun’ Spending: $100 (sometimes more and sometimes we didn’t spend anything)
Phone bill: $50 (Parents still covered this cost for a while. We eventually started paying them separately but stayed on the group plan so that it was cheaper.)
Internet: $11/month (we split it with neighbors)
Gas: $80/month (and sometimes we didn’t even get close to spending this much)
This left us able to SAVE: $1,889 per month
More detail: Rent went up at some point by $30 but this money basically got absorbed by our gas or food allowances. Obviously, money didn’t flow out exactly like this every month but this is meant to provide an idea of how we budgeted and made our aggressive savings plan work.
We’re getting closer to that $50,000. I’ll be back next Thursday to finalize the series.