A testimony from Jill
My husband and I met in high school and started dating. We went to college together and although his military obligations slowed his academic progress, we are both now holders of bachelor’s degrees and I am nearly finished with my master’s degree.
Since we both finished school in such a difficult economic climate, we are both still looking for jobs. We have been on the job search for over six months so far and have yet to touch our credit card or have to ask family for money.
How we are doing it
When I started college, I had a decent savings account and a savings bond that matured just as I entered college. I invested the bond and was very careful with how I spent my savings.
- Each semester, I would take as many classes as I could to limit my fees.
- Taking department courses together each semester instead of spreading them out over several semesters allowed me to pay department fees only once instead of every semester.
- Making sure I used school resources instead of paying for my own, like printers, gym and counseling also allowed me to save money.
- I did not splurge on items (like a new computer) during college. I made do with what I had and waited until Christmas or my birthday to request items that I needed from family members.
- I worked summers with my family to earn money. All of that money went into savings to help build it back up.
After I graduated, I still hadn’t touched the bond that had nearly doubled in good investments. During that time, my husband deployed to Iraq, putting his degree on hold, and prompting me to enroll in a graduate program. I continued to manage my savings and my money like I did in college even though we now had a regular income from his pay. I also worked as a TA in the department which covered my tuition with only a little left over.
Now that we are both done with school, we are still living off of the investment. We have to be creative about our spending though, because we don’t know how long our unemployment will last.
- We are both taking small, low paying jobs to offset the amount we have to take from savings.
- I’m working as an adjunct professor which pays less than a quarter of our monthly expenses, but that’s money we don’t have to take out of savings now.
- I take pictures for my family and friends at a discounted cost to them which provides us with a little bit of income as well.
- We meal plan, clip coupons, search for deals and limit any extra expenses that we can. Since we aren’t working, we are using some of our extra time to save extra money.
- One thing I have trouble with is wants. I continue to remind myself that many things are wants and not needs. To have a place to go with those, I’m keeping a list of my ‘wants’ on my computer. I include the costs, category, purpose (if it doesn’t have a purpose, I don’t include it), and priority for each entry. This has helped me to really examine my wants, so when I get extra money from different things (or if I noticed any item dramatically on sale/free) it won’t be squandered away.
- If need be, I have ‘luxury’ expenses marked in our budget (cell phones for example) that we can lose if I begin to worry about the life of our savings account.
One major thing that has impacted us during this process was Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University that we participated in last year. It helped encourage us to make smart choices when it came to our money and gave us the knowledge we were lacking in some areas.
Jill is finishing her master’s degree in Communication Studies at North Texas and lives with her husband and furbaby, Bella Mia. She blogs about her life and experiences at her blog, Two of a Kind.
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