In an attempt to shed some light on our personal story, I wanted to post these brief summaries of my past (both individually and together with my wife) as it pertains to finances. This is the first post in the series.
I grew up in a more or less middle class home in the 80s and 90s. My father was a pharmacist and my mother was a nurse and later a cardiovascular consultant. When I was very young, there were some very lean times, though at the time I wouldn’t have known it – we never went without, but we certainly were not spoiled.
After trying my hand at manual labor (my friend’s father had a bricklaying company) and lasting a half day (long story) I went into the food service industry during my final two years of high school. My parents did not buy a car for me, and I never had the common sense to save for one of my own – I would borrow the family minivan to drive to work or my parents would take me there. I attended a private college (I couldn’t tell you why now) locally and I lucked out with some windfalls in my parents income that greatly lightened the student loan debt. I also had a small academic scholarship but through a mix of general college foolishness and Statistics courses I managed to lose that after two years.
I started out majoring in Accounting, and switched to IT after one semester – it seemed really interesting and people were making $60K right out of college in it (or so we were told). I worked in food service on campus during the school year and at various restaurants during the summer break. Of course I never thought of what I actually wanted to do with my IT degree so I wound up getting a string of data entry jobs after a month or so of job searching.
This time of my life was not particularly fun (other than the band I was in, but that’s a different story) – living with my parents when most of my peers were moving out (and most times away), starting careers and families. Living with my parents was a blessing and also a curse – my folks never made me pay for anything, and while I love my parents and owe them more than I could ever repay – I think I may have “grown up” quicker financially if they had charged me rent or made me move out. Those first two years after college I spent money much in the same manner that I had previously – on cigarettes, alcohol and dining out – and as soon as I had it. My only true bill was a cellphone bill – everything else was consumables (food and less necessary ones like booze and smokes). I didn’t make much but it didn’t matter, it all got spent as quick as I had it.
During the fall of 2005, over the course of playing and attending shows in the local music scene, I met a web developer who happened to moonlight as a concert promoter. We got to talking about work and coding and he convinced his bosses to give me an interview, and I got the job. The position happened to be in a very remote area of Pennsylvania that I had never been to before, so it was a leap of faith on all parts. As the months went by I started making a little bit more, managed to crash on the couch of a coworker (who was mostly out of town all the time) in exchange for keeping an eye on his house and I also bought a new car – mainly because the glove box was a cooler 😛
Later, when I moved in with my then-girlfriend / now-wife in a different state, we had real “grown up” bills to take care of, I started upping my spreadsheet game and making a real budget. We split the mortgage, condo fees, groceries and cable, I paid an extraordinary amount of gas for my car (this was 2008… in DC), had a new car payment, and was apparently “saving” $400 a month – though I couldn’t tell you where all of that went. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Actually it was probably going towards all of the spending that I wasn’t tracking. Despite having an infant son and not really living the “stay out partying til 3 AM” life anymore, the world still provided ways for me to blow my hard earned money without thinking about it – overpriced car insurance, cable that we didn’t really need, cigarettes… Just in the 7 years (that I had records of) from 2004 until I quit in 2011 – I spent just south of $9,500 on cigarettes. I was still putting away money for “Savings” but it all eventually got gobbled up by a wedding (which was semi-frugal at $10,000), gifts, home repair, vacations, etc. It was less of savings account and more of a holding cell.
To be continued…