Brief update

I’d like to make a brief update to note that my husband and I are still on track with our goals, and things are going well. My husband is more than halfway through his graduate degree, and is receiving a lot of high praise from his professors. The major hurdle right now is obtaining an internship for next year, and while he’s has some excellent leads and interviews, nothing has materialized yet. We are both hoping this works itself out soon so we have a better sense of what his schedule will look like for fall/spring semesters.

We are still planning to pay directly for his tuition without student loans. We discussed maybe taking out a loan for one semester (maybe his very last), but he only qualifies for unsubsidized loans and so interest would accrue and origination fees also are a bummer, so we’ve decided this isn’t a good option.

We also have another big trip planned for the spring. Details and a budget will be shared when we return.

It’s also the anniversary of the Affordable Care Act being signed into law, and I just want to note that this has literally saved us thousands of dollars since I was able to sign up for health insurance via our state exchange. My employer’s coverage was a fairly expensive HDHP, and via the state exchange, MNsure, I was able to get a much lower cost plan and put my benefit dollars into retirement savings instead. It’s also a huge relief for people like my diabetic sister who can rest easy knowing they won’t reach some ridiculous lifetime maximum or be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition.

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First things first

My partner and I make an average amount of money. He works for a non-profit with troubled youth, and I work for a county (government, sort of) entity in an administrative position. I never thought we’d be rich doing these jobs, but we get to help a lot of people and ‘make a difference’–which means, to most people, sacrifice wealth for the good of others.

However, one of the things I learned (from Dave Ramsey, one of my heroes, as you’ll learn from my writings here) is that the best wealth building tool we have is our incomes. Dave Ramsey basically says to do what you love, do it well, and you’ll make money from it. You may not make the most money of your friends, but that’s not the point. The point is to be the best steward of your money that you can possibly be, and live well below your income. This is tough in our society, always wanting the new toy or the new outfit that will supposedly make us happier and better human beings. But we also know that’s not really true. My husband’s grandmother was a child of the depression, and my husband grew up knowing to save aluminum foil upon penalty of death. It is possible to make do with less than we’re told we should have.

In order to do this, you may have to become a bit obsessive. I use Mint.com for this purpose. It lets me see every account we have (bank accounts, IRAs, credit cards, student loans, etc.) on one screen. It’s so simple, it’s stupid. And it should be! Once I could see how much we were spending in certain categories, it made it easier to try something else. Who wants to spend 1/3 of their income on eating out? Not me! This month, I’m attempting the “cash only” envelope system for eating out, amusement, and clothes. When the money’s gone, it might hurt to say no to hanging out at the bar with friends, or maybe I’ll be able to leave $10 for the last weekend in May for that very reason.