Unless you are born with a silver spoon, the journey toward financial independence will most likely be arduous. Even those who've reached the happy state of retirement have stories to tell about the ups and downs they experienced, their mistakes and triumphs, and what it really took to get there. And most of us — especially those who regularly read this site — are still in the midst of our own journey and trying to enjoy the ride as much as we can.
At the moment, that's exactly where my husband and I are. After 10 years of marriage and two kids together, we stay pretty busy figuring out ways to make our small online business grow, sticking relentlessly to our zero-sum budget, and saving a large percentage of our incomes. On the other hand, we still have plenty of years of saving and investing ahead of us. And while I'm truly thankful for the progress we've been making, I'm not in any hurry to get there, either.
Our humble beginnings
But we haven't always had our finances figured out like we do now. When my husband and I got married in 2005, I was working as a nanny for around $10 an hour. Meanwhile, he had just graduated from a mortuary science program and was ready to start his internship.
Even though I made very little and he was paid only $20,000 for his one-year program, we were lucky that the funeral home afforded us a small apartment upstairs in which to live. Extremely lucky.
It was less than 500 square feet and set right above the funeral home's embalming room, but that apartment was a godsend. Because it was part of his compensation package, we didn't have to pay rent or utilities while we lived there.
As we all know, keeping your living expenses low is one of the best ways to get ahead. So, even though we didn't make a lot of money, we stashed away quite a bit of cash in our savings account during the year we lived in that tiny home. It helped that we didn't have kids to take care of and that we only had one car loan to service, too. We didn't have a lot, but we were happy. And we were so hopeful about the future. I look back on that time with absolute pleasure; we had so little, but we also had so much.
We're in different places together
Even though we're all in different stages of our journey, we're also all in this together. We all want the same things — financial stability, enough money to take care of our families, the ability to sleep at night without worry.
While some of us are in the throes of paying down a mountain of debt, others are just learning why it's even important to care about their finances. Many of us are further along in the journey, either working toward financial independence or getting pretty darn close to our goals.
But we all started somewhere, right?
And even just hearing someone else's story can be very instructive — and inspiring. It's interesting to learn how someone got where they are today. You never know what you could use to improve your own financial picture or up your financial game. In fact, that is the very nature of being innovative — taking what you see and making it work for you. It's what we're all about.
What is your just-getting-started story?
So in the spirit of helping one another, we thought it would be interesting to devote a place for all of our “just-getting-started” stories. Tell us what you did to get where you are now, and what you're doing to get where you're going. And, of course, we want to hear about the mistakes you made along the way and how you remedied them. Even though we can't change the past, sharing our stories of where we went wrong in our financial journeys might help someone else avoid the same path.
Here's what to do
Tweet using #justgettingstartedstory! The more the word gets out, the more likely we are to get fresh, new stories to learn from and appreciate.
Vote! We'll consider it your vote of recommendation if you “like” someone's story in the comments. Then we'll reach out to the people whose comments are really popular among you and see if, hopefully, they'd like to tell us more for an article profiling their story.
If you have always wanted to share your getting-rich-slowly or your just-getting-started story, now is your chance. Here are some questions to start the ball rolling, but you can make up your own question if you like:
How hard was it for you to get on your feet?
What strategies are you currently using to save and build wealth?
What was the turning point that got you started on the path to financial health?
If you had one tip for someone who is trying to get rich slowly, what would it be?
Author: Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel. In addition to serving as contributing editor for The Simple Dollar and writing for publications such as Bankrate, U.S. News and World Report Travel, and Travel Pulse, Johnson owns Club Thrifty and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love.