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We Paid Cash! :: Unemployment

We paid cash!

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.

We Paid Cash for UnemploymentOne 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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12 Comments

  • Allison V. says:

    Awesome! You are setting yourselves up for success and financial stability early on. You won’t regret it!

  • Jerilyn says:

    That’s great! We have a similar story. We lived off of savings (and my part-time nanny job) for 2 years while my husband went to school. He didn’t end up finishing and now works full-time to support all of us, but we stayed out of debt and still had a bit of savings left (which is now being added to for a down payment on a house!)

  • Jodi says:

    My mom didn’t spend “quarters” – yes, the coin, for two years to save up for a dining room set she wanted. She considered it a “painless” way to save, and quarters add up quick!

  • Carol S says:

    What a great example you are! All I kept thinking while reading your story is “Wow” “Wow” “Wow” ! To be so young and so sensible with money, and so creative with living expenses… well, all I can say is “Wow!”

  • anne says:

    Amazing testimony. You guys have got it together!

  • Brigitte says:

    Very impressive. Continue the good work and I am sure the two of you will go far. Best of luck finding jobs.

  • Trixie says:

    Way to go! What a terrific accomplishment. You both should be so proud of how hard you’ve worked.

  • samantha says:

    The only thing I would not advise to do is taking too many courses at a time (4-5 is max). My major is accounting (one of the hardest) and our professors tell us to not load up just to “save” money because if you can’t pass these courses, you will not be saving any money, in fact, you will be losing money. Our school wants us to graduate super fast, so it’s not about them making money. (It’s a Cal State University, so you can imagine our budgets) Unless you’re a extremely highly dedicated student, which most people are not, I would advise against doing this!

  • birthrightrose says:

    My husband and I are taking Financial Peace Universtity right now and are loving it! I wish that we had known about it when we were fist married. We have always been debt free except the car, but now we are serious about not only being debt free, but saving madly!! I love that you shared your story. Very inspirational!!

  • Lyn says:

    It’s wonderful that you had savings in place to help you while you’ve been unemployed. I am most impressed at all the things you have been doing to get by, and it shows how much effort you have put forth so you don’t have to fall back fully to your savings. Very wise. Best wishes and I hope and pray you both find jobs soon. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Patti says:

    My husband just got laid off so I am very glad that we also have lived frugally and do not have to be anxious about tomorrow.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Laura says:

    Thank you for your service. Many blessings to you and your husband!

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