I’m sick of all these “I’m 25 and it’s okay to not have my shit together” posts. Because guess what? You’re 22, 23, 25, and you have everything you need to do & have awesome shit, right now. Don’t sell yourself (or the rest of your generation) short by thinking you can’t succeed, today. All you have to do is start.
Have more friends by starting that one conversation, or sending that one invite. Have a better (or hell, just an existent) love life by starting with one encouraging comment or outgoing gesture. And for God’s sake, begin accumulating wealth NOW by saving & being smart with your money. Let’s talk about that.
I am a penny pinching, greedy, cold-hearted tight ass. And Cory is a generous, giving, lets-just-have-a-good time liver & lover of life. We are opposites in everything, even money. But when we got married we made saving a clear priority, and after a year, I can say (in the words of Cory) “we got stacks.” Of our take home pay (think, after retirement, social security, taxes, etc. = what actually winds up in the bank account), we have managed to hoard 33% of our annual earnings in savings. It comes as a shock to people, because society is so used to living beyond it’s means. Specifically, the generation ahead of the millennial – those who taught & raised us.
But now it’s our turn, & opportunity, to do better. I want to share with you some general tidbits that allowed Cory & I to pay two tuitions out of pocket, rent, bar tabs, to give to others, travel & save aggressively. And here’s a spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with our salaries.
1. You married? Joint account. Many money gurus argue over this, & Suze Orman would have my ass for typing it. But here’s the thing: Cory & I have two shared accounts: checking & savings. Errbody has access to each, which means neither of us have an excuse to not know what is going on financially. With money, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is broke.
(Feminists: For the record, I do have an open account in only my name & my mothers. It has about $20, which I keep just so that it remains open & active. So if I catch Cory in the sack with some hussie tomorrow, I have access to both accounts and can protect myself from him leaving me broke & pissed by transferring over. I mean, girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Kidding. Kind of. Really, it acts as an emergency account that my parents could funnel into in the event Cory & I got drunk & robbed in Bangkok or something.)
2. Emergency Fund. We keep a set buffer amount in our account in the event of an emergency. We immediately need flights to OKC for a family emergency, Cory needs an emergency appendectomy, etc. Do NOT dip into this for any reason. You don’t need it until you NEED it, and if you don’t have it, you’re up a creek.
3. Retirement. This is non-negociable. Both of us have aggressive retirement savings set aside each month in 401ks, matched nicely by our companies. Guys, it doesn’t even hit our account so it’s like we never had it in the first place. As pleasant & friendly Cory is, the dude doesn’t want to be a Wal Mart greeter at 92 so he can continue to eat. People are outliving their retirement savings, you don’t have to be one of them.
4. Drive a piece of shit. If you just got your first big kid job & blew it on a dually with leather seats, I judge you. You don’t look cool, you look frickin’ broke. Rich people don’t drive Maybachs, rappers do. Why in the name of our sweet Lord would you spend money buying a new car every year, or driving a gas guzzling army tank? It’s a money pit. One of Cory’s co-workers, our age, is currently making 1k monthly payments on his new sexy truck. ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS. His salary may be impressive but I can guarantee you his bank account is pathetic at best. Rich people drive 2001 Jeep Cherokees, laughing all the way to their fat bank accounts. You aren’t fooling anyone in a new shiny car. Drive it until the wheels fall off & enjoy your years of no car payments.
5. Home sweet apartment, or trailer, or whatever….for a bit. So many young couples jump into buying a home. Which, may be a great investment if its marketable & reselling is an option. Or if you plan to live & die on that farm. But for Cory & I, we chose to make a calculated decision about whether to buy or continue to rent…And we chose to rent. But that’s the thing: we made a calculated decision. We crunched the numbers, weighed the odds of moving & reselling. And I know it was the right decision (for now) and our bank account reflects that. Sometime down the road, we will invest in property. But not until it financially makes sense. And I’m sure as hell not buying a home to impress people I don’t really like anyway.
6. Give. I say I’m an asshole, but not about causes that matter to me. This year, we are giving to The Education & Employment Ministry, which helps those who have fallen on hard times receive job training and resources to secure and maintain a job. It’s in Oklahoma (my home state, my love!) and not a day goes by I do not thank God (and my parents) for my education & job. Giving back makes me feel good about our money, what we have & even what we don’t have. You’d be surprised at how fulfilling it is to write that check for people who really, really need it. It makes you feel rich in ways your bank account can’t.
7. Invest in you. Invest in yourself & your education, and again, you’ll begin to feel good about what you have & even what you don’t. Spending on vacations, our education, hell, at the bar with our friends…Or even just a date night. It makes us happy. Let’s say your budget it really tight & date night means Redbox & popcorn on the couch…then do that. It still matters & it’s time & relationships that are worth your investment.
I am going to break down 2013’s finances (courtesy of Mint.com) and hopefully share those with you soon. Some people say money is rude to talk about, but let’s get real: it’s too important not to talk about.
So tell me, how big a role does budgeting play in your life? Or saving? What are your 2014 financial goals? Let’s talk about it!
Love (& Money),