I was brought up in a frugal family. My mom was always clipping coupons and would "score" on sales at sotries and she loves garage sales. She stayed at home with us until my youngest sister was in 4th grade.
I started my savings account when I was in 3rd grade. I felt a lot of pride being able to put my allowance in my savings. Then I was a teenager and I didn't like the fact we were frugal, I mean, how embarrassing, right?? I still didn't shop a lot, and I saved for what I did shop for and what I spent money on other things for, but I sometimes hated it that my parents couldn't just give me money like my friends' parents did. (Now I'm so very thankful!)
I began working at age 15, and have always had a job since. My first car was my sister's old car that was as old as I was. That car didn't last long and I was able to get a used, in-good-condition car. My parents did buy it, but I had to make monthly payments to them for it, and pay for gas and insurance. (And, at the time gas seemed like a lot for a dollar per gallon...)
College came around, and my parents and I had a deal, that based on my grades, they would help with college tuition and car insurance, but ALL living costs were mine. I moved out on my own in my 2nd semester. I took out student loans at this point to pay for the cost of living that my 2 jobs weren't paying for. I was given this amount up front, and budgeted it for the semester. There was NO extra spending. Very rarely did I eat lunch or dinner out, I bummed a lot of beer I had no cable and I always hung my laundry around my apartment to dry so that I wouldn't have to pay for the dryer. I packed my lunch every day, and made dinner every night...so what if it was Ramen noodles, or tuna and rice, or mac & cheese??? One thing I ALWAYS did was put money in my savings account. My parents stressed how important this is (although my little sister has no concept...) I also did not have a checking account or credit card. If I needed checks, I would get a money order. Everything else was cash.
I realized living on my own at this point was expensive, and I moved in with a roomie. It was nice to split expenses. I still took out a student loan because I knew I would need money for the program I was applying for at various colleges. I was able to be a little less frugal, like buying better food, buy birthday presents, etc.
I moved home the summer between my soph and jr year in college, to save more money for the program. I lived w/ 3 other girls my last 2 years in college and had a part time job, and 2 more years of student loans. I did open a checking account, and I did get a credit card, but it freaked me out to use it too much.
After I graduated 5 1/2 years ago, I bought a brand new car, and in hindsight, I didn't need to do that, but I really wanted it then...I have been able to pay that off, and 9 months early at that. My husband had a company car for awhile, but then we were able to pay for an old Honda Accord and have no payments. My husband and I bought our first home 5 years ago, and we have been able to pay extra---50 payments extra, as of today!! I can't believe the interest money we are saving! I have a profit sharing plan at work, he has a 401K, and I have an IRA and we have a money market account that currently has over $5,000 that we are building as our emergency fund/fix the house fund. We have a savings account that we treat as our vacation account. We LOVE to travel (frugally of course) and it isn't something that we want to wait until we are 70 years old to do. Our student loan rate went down 1% because we have never been late on a payment, and that is exciting! We pay our credit card every month, although that wasn't always the case. There were 3 times we were in a bind, and we put more on there than we could manage, but we played the "0% balance transfer" game. So we've never paid interest on credit cards. We eat at home A LOT. We don't shop a lot. When we do, it is because we NEED it, not because we want it. We entertain ourselves with cheap to free events, and with things we own around the house, and with things our city offers. We have become WAY less materialistic, which isn't easy to do in our world.
What all this means for us is: 1)Our house will be paid off in less than 10 years, making our mortgage only 15 1/2 years instead of 30. 2)This saves us tens of thousands of dollars in interest 3)We have 2 cars that are paid for, and hopefully my hubby's will last 10 more! 4)We are able to donate money to places that are close to our hearts, and not have to dip into another fund for it. And lastly, 5) I played with numbers the other day, and I figured if there were NO change in what our interest on accounts are and we continue to keep our cost of living low, we will be able to retire around 50 and live and travel comfortably for many many years to come.
I don't feel like we are depriving ourselves, and we live comfortably. Being frugal and responsible makes us feel proud and we can't wait to be DEBT FREE!!
Have you paid off your debt? Managed to save for your dream home? Had an awesome investment pan out? Share your personal finance success stories here.
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