Tag Archives: budgeting

How We Saved $50,000 as Newlyweds – Part II

6 Mar

Read part I here.photo-47

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)
Rent: $320/month
Food: $1000/month (extra money here also covered tickets to see a movie and mini date nights)
Restaurant: $150/month
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)
TOTAL: $1,711
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.

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How We Saved $50,000 as Newlyweds – Part I

27 Feb

Back in the day, when Matt and I were fresh college graduates, 24-years-old and had just said ‘I do’, I had this crazy idea that we could save a ton of money….if we just stopped spending it. It was really that simple. And photo-47this is how it all began….

When our marriage days kicked off we actually lived in two completely different cities so that I could keep working at my first little baby marketing job and save more money. Looking back, I think this was the first group decision we made to “suffer” in the short term in order to make our lives more financially secure.

So I had been living in Lexington, KY for that highly sought-after job for about four months into our marriage, and decided to move back to be with Matt in Knoxville, mainly because I liked the city a lot more and had an awesome job offer to work in the field I loved, which at the time was environmental legislation.

I closed up shop on that first job in August 2008, and off I went, newly hitched, without much of a living standard since the college dorm lifestyle was still pretty fresh in my memory. I had no far-flung notions of needing a new car or a big screen TV or, well, anything for that matter.

But the cool thing was that because Matt and I had been socking away around $1,000 a month we had started our marriage off with no debt and $10,000 to our names. We did this the same way we saved money later, which I’m going to get into more detail about in the second post. But basically, we lived on less and used the Dave Ramsey approach to saving. I had been a Ramsey fan since high school and used his energetic approach to finances to build this mindset of being proud of living below our means.

We found ways of making our cost of living as low as possible. I roomed with someone in Lexington in order to cut my apartment bill in half and Matt was sitting on this super cheap apartment bill, so together, we could save a lot of our income.

As a side note, I made $30,000 and Matt made about $20,000 working part time during that eight months leading up to our marriage. We lived on roughly 2/3 of our income. We had different banking accounts at the time but we would just chat every two weeks and then make contributions to a common savings account.

We decided together that I could just move into the small apartment Matt was living in in the Fort Sanders area (where most of the college kids live after their dorm stint is over at the University of Tennessee, where we had both gone for college). It was this beautiful old Victorian home with a gardener who managed the massive grounds. Yes, the apartments were basically falling apart, but I had also lived in the complex during my last year of college and had fallen in love with our neighbors and the area. I could run downtown and walk to work. It was perfect for the beginning of our new life together.

Plus, and this is sort of the launching pad/fact that got our whole savings craziness started, it cost a whopping $320 a month. It eventually went up to – now, hold your breath – $355 a month when the manager decided they needed to update a few things.

And that begins our almost-three-year journey to saving $50,000. As a recap of where we are in this story, we’re now married and living in the Fort. We have $10,000 and a dream of owning so much more. I’ll be back with Part 2 of the 3-part series next Thursday.

In the meantime, share your stories of being young and trying to save….or spend? ;)

P.S. Can’t get enough of Mouse In Your House? Find me over at Knoxville Moms Blog today sharing my thoughts on why Knoxville businesses need to get kid-friendly.

No-Spending Days – Would you do them?

22 Feb

Thrifty living is a topic I absolutely adore. It fascinates me to hear about how frugal people can get. Remember that show about couples who search for pennies in their couches and pick rice up off the floor at churches to cook that night – ‘Extreme Cheapskates’? That was some insane, crazy awesomeness.Untitled-1

If I was a sticker-applying girl, I’d adorn my car with photos of Dave Ramsey. I could go on an on about some of the things we’ve done to save money (I also like spending it so I’m definitely no thrifty saint). But that’s all to say that new money-saving tips are some of the things I enjoy reading about most.

So about a year ago I read about this idea of having days when you don’t spend a cent, like nothing, nada. The concept has stayed with me, rolling around in this ol’ noggin of mine. It’s so basic but can have such a huge impact. Just think of the $4 on a Starbucks or $15 on lunch that gets spent without even thinking about it.

We just finished spending a good amount of money on some home updates – painting and home maintenance stuff – and while it was all worth it and done with money we had saved, I’m feeling the need to go back into money-saving mode.

So we’re going to try incorporating two no-spend days into our week. We’ve done it once or twice but nothing full-time like this. It wasn’t too difficult. We just thought ahead of time about what ingredients we needed to cover meals for those days and didn’t visit tempting places like Target or the mall.

I’m really bad about constantly noticing the little things we buy that end up not getting used, things that I just threw in my buggy for no good reason than ‘I thought I might like that shirt’ or ‘I need a new candle’, and then they ultimately get stashed away in the back of a closet and eventually thrown out. It’s no different than taking the money – cold, hard dollars –  we spent on those things and throwing it right in the garbage. Matt thinks the same thing when food goes bad (which doesn’t seem to bother me for some reason – we all have our things, right).

So this no-spending idea seems like a good way to cut the needless buying out for a few days during the week, but not so extreme. It’s just two days, right, we got this. I’m interested to see how challenging it is.

What do you think? Would you ever do a no-spending day? Have you done something like this before or have other saving techniques that work for your family?

P.S. The photo was from our trip to Italy last year, where we definitely didn’t have an no-spending days. ;) But it was oh so worth every cent/Euro spent.

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