(Let's go, Wii!)
Let's see... I was born into a frugal, financially responsible household where I was raised to earn an allowance by doing chores. I was responsible for paying for things I wanted, such as movie tickets when I went with friends, all of my Christmas presents for others, expensive school trips ( would pay half). At the time I wished my parents would buy me more, but I see that they raised me to be very financially responsible. I had my first job at the age of 15 or 16 at a local grocery store. I had to put half of my earnings away for college and I enjoyed it.
My parents required me to pay for half of my undergraduate degree at a State College of their choosing. It blew that I didn't have say in where I went but it was the only way they'd pay for half. I worked full-time on school breaks and eventually got a job in my dorm that got me free board for a year. In the end, I only had about 9K in student loan debt. I lived with my parents for the summer after college and saved up to move to NY. I moved to NYC 10 days before 9/11. I got my first "real" job and started on 10/1. The job market was tight due to 9/11, so it was a job that I wasn't crazy about. When my parents saw that I was working hard to pay off my student loans, they offered to match my payments. I paid off my loan in about a year while I was making 30K and paying $750 in rent. I was also putting 10% of my salary away into my 401K at the age of 22.
My boyfriend and I were very serious so we decided to move in together. This saved me money in rent and raised my quality of life. We decided to move away to get our Master's degree at a well-known university. I got half off of my tuition for taking my classes off campus. I wanted to be a teacher. For the two years of grad school I worked as a nanny for rich families. I didn't make a lot and my retirement savings went on hold. I went from no student loans to a lot. We got married halfway through grad school. Because my parents hadn't spoken to me in years at this point, we paid for the wedding. I put about 12K of the wedding on my student loans. I now owe 25K in loans. My husband owes 32. It's unbelievable that teachers have to have Master's degrees and there is no federal help for us to get them or to pay off our loans.
My husband and I got the jobs we wanted when we got our degrees. I am in my third year of teaching. I love it. I don't make a ton of money. In the last 2 years we have bought two reliable cars and paid them off in full. I am about to leave my job because we are having twins. The only debt we have is student loan debt. We have about 30K saved for retirement. I am nervous about going down to one income, but I have always wanted to stay home with my children when they were young. The student loan debt is irksome because there is so much of it, but it isn't all that bad. The loans are locked in at 2.62%.
I am confident that we will be able to live within our means when we go down to one income. One thing I can say is that my husband and I have a great marriage. We see eye to eye when it comes to all things financial. I don't know how I would deal with having a spendthrift mate. Together, we can make this work and retire one day with little worry.