Last week I wrote a blog post on how we dated and got married at a young age, Bryan being just 18yrs.old and me being 19yrs.old.
I thought I’d follow that up with a post on how we budgeted and thrived that first year on one income (a fairly low one at that).
I sat down with my dad prior to getting married and we went over the cost of living on our own and what our lowest annual pay would need to be for Bryan and I to survive. Dad and I were kind of dorky over stuff like that. We still are. For just the 2 of us in 2001 we tallied up our *must have* expenses to total somewhere around $15,000 a year that we’d need to net (after taxes).
It wasn’t necessary to live quite that scantily, but it was awesome to see how little we could get by with. This gave us a healthy realization of the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Something that is very helpful to recognize any time you’re doing a budget no matter your age or stream of income.
Bryan had purchased a used car that was paid off previously to getting married so we started out debt free and had a surplus of a few thousand dollars that I had brought in to the relationship. (Lookey there, I actually did contribute to our finances once a long time ago.)
We had just one car, but because Bryan was a service technician at an HVAC corporation he had a company/service vehicle to work out of; that made having one car really easy. Trades rock!
A month or two before the wedding we did some furniture shopping. A leather couch, a table that comfortably sat 6-8 people, Bryan’s bed and dresser from childhood and BAM! we were set. All the basics were covered. Camp chairs ladened our living area when we had guests over.
Bryan’s pay rate was $10 hr. and he generally worked between 40-60+ hrs. a week. In the A/C trade in Florida you have slow months (winter, obviously, due to mild weather) and crazy summer hours, so your income isn’t always consistent. I remember we set aside more in the summer to offset those slower months of winter.
Dave Ramsey may be the financial guru now, but back in the 80’s and 90’s while Bryan and I were growing up and within our social circle, it was Larry Burkett from Crown Ministries. Anyone remember him? Ha! Growing up he impacted my family a lot. My mom and dad were quite the couple when it came to knowing how to live simply and kick debt in the butt.
My dad worked as a busboy at Walt Disney World and on his annual income of $25,000, he and my mom raised 10 kids (at the time), never had a car loan, and paid off their home mortgage by the time he was 40 yrs. old.
So, though Larry and Dave are semi-famous, I’m giving the award to my dad and mom for being the greatest example to me of living out “How to live simply, be debt free, never complain, and be happy”
I love making up and giving out awards.
Anyhow, Bryan and I started off our first year together with renting a home. We found a cute little place for $500 a month. I still drive past that 4th street house every now and then and smile.
Yes, that’s my husband. Who looks like he’s 15yrs. old.
Here’s what our monthly budget for 2 looked like back in circa 2001:
Housing/rent-$500 The landlord said that if we maintained the yard ourselves we could lower the monthly rate by $50. Yes, please!
Utilities-$140 The house we rented didn’t have central a/c and heat. Sometimes we’d run the window units, sometimes we didn’t. They’re stupidly inefficient. We used a space heater in the winter.
Home Phone bill-$23 We dropped all long distance and any other extra services and would use a prepaid phone card for calls out of state. We didn’t have personal cell phones back then. Bryan had a work pager and eventually got a work phone. A Nextel! So old school and cool.
Food-$200 $50 a week seemed easy peasy: 2 people, spaghetti, tacos and pb & j all week, every week; the organic section wasn’t even a thing 14 years ago
Gas-$60 I know, that sounds fake, but one little Toyota Camry that was strictly for personal use and gas being at $1.09 a gallon….$15 pretty much filled up our tank on a weekly basis and covered our local traveling needs.
Health Insurance-$240 This seemed like an exorbitant expense to us at the time. We considered dropping it… Now it sounds like a pretty good deal
Charities- 10% of income We found it important to stay firm in setting at least this amount aside no matter how little or how much we ever made
Recreation- $120 $30 a week seemed like just the right amount for 2. We were able to get a bite to eat and rent or go to the movies now and then. So spoiled were we!
Car insurance-$90 This is the one expense that has actually gone down thanks to maturity and not being young anymore
Savings- Every now and then we were able to put some $ aside. Not much, but a little bit here and there
This x 12 (months) totals about $19,000 and it was fairly close to what Bryan’s W2 tax form showed as net income that first year.
Why only one income? We had planned on starting a family right away and mutually agreed that I’d stay home with our babies. That first year was a lot of fun. I focused on keeping house for 2 (after coming from a family of 14 this was a totally fun and new experience), when Bryan wasn’t working we were off visiting local friends and family, hanging out at home together, and waiting with anticipation the arrival of our first baby.
I prefer not to find an old pic of being pregnant with my first baby…..
I’ll never forget that time I was out exercising trying to control that hefty 40-50lbs. I tacked on surprisingly quick during pregnancy; I was on one of the sidewalks near our house speed walking and I saw Bryan’s work van driving down the road towards me coming home earlier than expected. I waved and smiled like crazy. He glanced at me, gave no response, and drove past. The nerve! I arrived back home sweaty, panting and so ready to have this baby.
I questioned his reason for lack of responding to my wifely friendliness….
He honestly thought I was just some stranger waving incessantly and being weird. I now know for a fact that he doesn’t wave back to every waving female. At least not the chubby ones. 😉
Anyways, that has nothing to do with our first year of budgeting! Unless it would be an indication that I indeed did spend a little bit more than necessary on food.
Right after that first year Bryan got a significant pay raise and our budget adjusted and we were able to save a little more money.
Shortly thereafter we found a fixer upper house for $65,000 and got our first mortgage with an interest rate of 5%. Can hardly beat that! (Well, except for paying for a house with cash.)
Thanks to my father-in-law who found this gem of a place for us!
It was pretty rough and disgusting at first but after 4 months of working on it, we were able to move in. Quite excited were we!
Over the past 14 years it’s been simple steps like these that we’ve continued in financial freedom
~Always recognizing needs vs. wants
~Paying for things outright or not having them at all
~Sacrificing in small areas
~Not placing our trust and happiness in finances, but in God. For real.
Bryan dislikes stinginess and I will give him great credit for not allowing us to spend our lives counting every dollar and penny and trying to see a pile of money grow bigger and bigger. I know that we could save more than we do, but we’ve both come to a place of *mostly* mutual agreement that other than being responsible and embracing simple and contented living habits money comes and money goes.
We all have different cash flow and circumstances, but by embracing healthy work ethic, finding the simplest areas to cut expenses, and living within your means it will help lead a life of, well, fullness. Not necessarily meaning getting rich. Because that shouldn’t really be the goal (in my estimation). And that won’t always be an option for some. Simplicity is what brings about freedom. For some that may mean ending up with a surplus of $, and for others it may just mean every bill always gets paid.
“A wise person should have money in their head, but not in their heart.”-Jonathan Swift