Money in Our Lives

A long time back, long before I ever listened to Dave Ramsey, I met and married my wonderful wife, Barbara. We both grew up poor so we started out in life without too many expectations, and the ability to not let the wants of today take us places we really didn't want to or need to go. The thing that impressed me from the beginning was that Barbara had the plans on what her future would look like. She knew that she needed to finish her degree, start teaching, help her husband finish his degree, have at least one child, and do all this without going way far in debt.

To add to her great vision in life, she was more than willing to put money aside today to prepare for tomorrow. One thing that I think helped us was that from the first of our marriage, we both were paid on a monthly basis and had to really stop and look at a budget to get to the end of the month with money left rather than the alternative of having days left without money.

Step one for us was to finish our degrees with no or at least a very small student loan. The last semester Barb was in College she had to do her student teaching so she could not work. I think she got a $500 loan and because she taught in a title 10 school the Government paid most of it off for us. During our College years. we did have the GI Bill to help us and we both worked at small part time jobs. We were able to almost save all of the GI Bill money to pay tuition and we lived in a pretty small, paid for, trailer for our first two years.

I think the biggest thing for anyone to do is to plan, re plan and budget out your plan. Set your goals in terms of years. Looking at those goals, what can you afford to do this year looking at your projected income? That becomes the programs for that year. If you know you don't have room in the budget for a boat this year, you don't buy a boat. If you cannot afford to continue down your life goal list, you don't include those things you cannot afford to do. Start small in buying a house and work up from there. Our first home was a 38 foot trailer purchased for cash. We lived in that for a couple of years and sold it for what we paid for it. While on the GI bill, we were able to get into a low income housing apartments in Leavenworth. Barb taught school and I finished my degree. We found a house that was about to be repossessed and bought the couple out of their mess darn cheaply. In less than two years, we were able to sell that house for about 50% more than we paid for it. We have never lost money in real estate.

With my degree in hand, we started a family. Dave was not a stopping point in our plan but a planned holding pattern. For three years, Barb was able to stay home and be a full time mother. She was also able to finish a good portion of her Masters Degree in Special Education and when she was ready to start teaching again move in to that field a bunch of steps up on her pay scale.

When I went to work for the National Guard full time, there was a distinct chance that I would only get to stay until I was 50. There was a small chance to stay to 55 but I wasn't planning on it. That gave me a little over 20 years to work and prepare for the first step into retirement.

Barb set out with financial plans to put us in the best shape possible when that was to happen.
In 1983, our plans were upset when a tornado ripped our house off the foundation and we had to rebuild. Interest rates were well above 13% for financing and it really hit us hard to program the change in our budget. After the SBA stepped in and helped us rebuild, we paid them off in almost no time. We sat down and planned where did we want to retire is a little over 14 years. We built our house at Rabbit run and worked on a plan to pay it off as rapidly as we could.
During all of this, we were also putting money into retirement accounts as much as we could. We started with IRA's worked up to 401(K)s and because Barb was a teacher she could have a 403(b). We both were in a Government retirement program and paying into those funds at the same time. We bought real estate and poured every extra dollar from the rent into paying them off. We built assets for later not income at the time.

Now that we are retired, we feel blessed that we were able to do so debt free. We have managed to have the house of our dreams, the ability to travel and end the month with money left not days with no money.

You need to understand what is the difference between wants and needs. You need to understand what your budget looks like and how expenditures fit in the program for that year. You need to be able to lift your head up and look longer range than today. This is built on a foundation of a good education, hard work and talking about what you are going and how you are going to get there. Having a great marriage has made this a lot more fun and having almost no money concerns has made that marriage even better. (funner?)


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