Starting to live below our means

When I was younger, I did fine with money – thanks to a dad who was an accountant.  Dad did also (except he kept it up).  Then I went to graduate school, and didn’t want to live on the measly stipend I got ($845 after taxes, etc, and rent for a studio was $519/mth), so I took out student loans figuring I’d pay them off – I mean, I was getting a graduate degree in a computer field in the early 2000s – from a very prestigious university (known for it’s computer science program).  Well, I met a guy (not Dad) who liked the Joneses, and we dated for 3 years.  during that time, I went into about $30,000 of debt.  I don’t blame him, but looking back, I let him talk me into things I shouldn’t have spent money on – and paid his rent while I was at it (oy!).  I was stupid.  I see that now, and the past is the past, so on to the future.

My grandmother passed away right after I graduated (her funeral was the day I was supposed to start work at my first non-university job), and she left me some money.  This was 2003, and I used that money on a down payment for a hybrid car, and a townhouse (couldn’t afford a single family house).  Things were going along great – except I looked at things as “can I afford this monthly payment”, instead of “can I afford this”.  So I kept going deeper into debt.

In 2006, I met Dad – we were married in 2008. Dad was much more responsible and had a lot of money in the bank – that we promptly spent on our wedding.  Stupid decision, but we enjoyed it, and everyone who attended said they did too.  At the time, we both owned a townhouse – and both hated townhouse living.  Dad’s TH was in a better market, and we sold it, and used the down payment on a single family house – notice we still have a TH?  My TH was in a “starter” neighborhood, and despite having owned it for 4 years, we were underwater on it, so we rented it out – at a loss.  We were fine on the financial front, until Daughter Person was about to come along: daycare + a mortgage payment left us with about $200 “extra” per month.  With Daughter Person, we figured we’d better get a handle on our spending, and do what we could to ditch the extra mortgage payment.  11 months and 4 contracts later, the TH is gone (finally).  We ended up bringing $6,000 to settlement on a TH we’d owned for 10 years (rules of thumb suck).

In the meantime, I discovered You Need a Budget ($6 off link – I get $6 too) and once I figured it out – I was on board.  We worked out a budget that worked for us, and we started saving money and paying off debt (instead of racking it up)…

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