Growing up as the oldest of five with fiscally conservative parents, I was taught to stretch the dollar as far as it would go. My parents are resourceful and determined people. They use and re-use whatever they can until it can no longer be. My mom shopped with coupons and thoroughly checked for clearance items. My siblings and I wore hand-me-downs when possible and when we did shop for new clothing, we scoured stores such as Belle’s Outlet for 80-90% off sales. Vehicles were purchased as necessary and were maintained and repaired by my dad. They were driven until, as he phrases it, “the wheels fell off.” My grandfather on my mom’s side taught himself how to invest in stocks and real estate, which my mom also picked up. When it came to college, my parents created savings accounts for each child and made the decision to move our family to a state that offered funding for students with a 3.0 or higher grade point average.
I started working in the 9th grade, saving as much as I could to put towards my future. While in college, I maintained 1-3 jobs while attending classes full time. I earned my undergraduate degree in 3 years and decided to venture on to graduate school. As a graduate assistant, my tuition was covered and I was paid a monthly stipend. College can be an expensive experience, but it was important to me to make it as affordable as possible. I completed graduate school in 1.5 years. I might not have had a traditional crazy college experience, but I sure did learn a lot! Some of my fondest memories and greatest friends come from my time in school. After graduation, at 22 years old, I bought my first house. I was ready to buckle down and take on the real world. I believed that my childhood and young adulthood gave me solid experience in financial understanding to start building towards my freedom.
Navigating a Recession
The next few years were not very fun. It was 2009 and the economy was in pretty poor shape. Luckily, I purchased my house in a down market and was still working full time. However, I was having major difficulties landing a job in my field. I definitely wallowed in frustration and sadness for a while, but I ultimately decided to focus my energy on paying off the house. I didn’t want to worry about having a roof over my head…Foreclosures were happening everywhere and many people were underwater in their mortgages. Paying off a mortgage is not for everyone and is certainly not the norm. I was able to afford paying down the mortgage, in addition to increasing my savings. My decision was based on security. If I wanted to quit my job in the future and move on to different income streams, then I could. I didn’t want to be stuck with a house payment hanging over my head for years to come. Brian ended up moving into the house in 2013 and we decided to tackle the remaining balance together.
In 2015, at 28 years old, my mortgage was paid off! I now spend my time focusing on different investment strategies, traveling, and researching just about anything. I still work full time and am still as frugal as ever, which I am forever thankful for and will likely never change.