Today I have a guest post up on Get Rich Slowly. EPF readers, please check it out – this is the post in which I reveal our net worth! Get Rich Slowly readers, thanks so much for surfing over to check us out. If you want to hear more you can subscribe through RSS, follow us on Twitter, or fan us on Facebook. We have new content up every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
It feels so strange to tell our whole story on another blog where I can’t link back to all the posts I’ve done on the individual components of it! I hope you came over to this post because you were interested in learning more about some aspect or another of our story, so I’ll use this post to point you to a few places where I’ve expounded on the topics to fill out the story of how we saved one year’s salary in our Roth IRAs during six years of grad school. This post is definitely a complement to the GRS one so it will make the most sense reading this right after or alongside of that post.
Who Are We?
There are both benefits and detriments to being grad students. We (generally speaking) don’t pay Social Security taxes, but we also may not have the earned income necessary to contribute to IRAs. I frequently write about personal finance issues that are specific to graduate students because there is so much misinformation out there, much of it coming from seemingly trustworthy sources.
Where Were We?
I feel pretty angsty about my choice of college (a super-expensive private school that also has the highest salary ROI in the country), but also happy that Kyle paid my student loans right after we were married. Well, technically we still have them, but as they are subsidized and deferred we decided to invest the money we plan to use for the payoff. We’re now struggling with how to avoid timing the market when we need to sell those investments.
If you want to know how I managed to live on $24k/year in the DC area, I did a guest post on Young Cheap Living explaining it.
And I do think that young adults living with their parents should pay them rent, or at least be appreciative of the sacrifices their parents are making!
I fudged a little about my car loan. I bought a car for $4,500 with a $1,000 down payment and a loan for $5,000. Huh?
Where Are We Now?
We reached our retirement savings milestone in August, more or less. As an update to the post, our net worth is actually over $80,000 as of yesterday (thank you market run-up from last week), which is pretty darn good given that we’re nearing the end of the month (i.e. getting low in our checking account in advance of our next paycheck)! Over the last year we’ve built up a ton of cash without meaning to. We’ve been keeping our noses to the grindstones so hard trying to finish up that we have barely taken any time off this year. I didn’t realize how taxing not having a summer vacation would be! In addition to not traveling like we normally would have, we’ve also been saving up to repair my car. In spring 2012 it broke down and we realized we didn’t actually need two cars, so we stopped driving it. We didn’t want to sell it because we’re anticipating living apart for a while between our graduations and we’ll likely need two cars then. While going down to one car hasn’t saved us much money, it surprisingly has improved our marriage!
How We Got Here
Starting Early and Saving Consistently
I was very jealous of Kyle being able to max out his Roth IRA both before and after we were married, although maxing out seems pretty arbitrary in comparison with saving a percentage of our income.
Tracking and Budgeting
We have a very regular system for dealing with our money. Our bill paying is mostly automated, our discretionary spending is largely from our targeted savings accounts, and we zero out our checking account every month and report how we did here. The area of our budget we struggle with most is our grocery spending.
We use rewards credit cards whenever possible – we largely go for cards that will give us long-term rewards but occasionally will churn a card with a great sign-up bonus and a minimum spend requirement we can actually reach.
I’ve spent quite a bit of time writing about our system of targeted savings accounts. We currently have eleven separate savings accounts, not including our emergency fund. The targeted savings accounts were key for our money management back when we had no non-retirement money and tons of irregular expenses. However, now that we have quite a bit in cash savings and our future has become more unpredictable, I’m thinking we should switch to combining all our savings and switching to funding a prioritized list of irregular purchases.
Living Well on Less
Of course we’ve made tons of frugal choices in our life, but I tried to only highlight the really valuable ones.
1) We actually own two cars but only drive one. We became a one-car family about a year and a half ago and we love sharing a car despite the occasional inconveniences. We decided to keep the second car because once we move apart we’ll likely both need one.
2) We’ve moved twice in the last year and tried to do it on the cheap each time. Our rent when we started blogging was $1005/month, then we reduced it to $895/month and finally now it’s $870/month.
3) You know, sometimes when I eat out, I don’t even eat!
4) There’s probably too many posts here to link to just a few on the subject of transferring money from lower to higher value areas! But it has been helpful to articulate what my values are.
Yes, I really made that terrible mistake with my money! And even worse, I didn’t notice it for a year. I am so embarrassed by this.
What Else We Could Have Done
There are lots of frugal activities that we don’t engage in because they aren’t worth our time or they would be too inconvenient. We overall just try to keep balanced. We love to travel to weddings, for instance, so we make that a priority. Kyle is pretty enamored with his iPhone, even though he went through a lot to get the contract he wanted. Maxing out our IRAs isn’t worth missing important life events and daily indulgences like those!
Thanks for reading our story more in detail! I hope you’ll stick around and join the discussions in the comments sections!