Today’s interview is with a budgeting couple on the cusp of jumpstarting some big financial goals. We did this interview back in May, so they’ve now started the journey they talk about here. We love hearing others’ financial goals and what motivates them. So here’s your Friday dose of financial motivation. Hope you enjoy!
Tell us your story.
I just turned 30. I like yoga, Pinterest and my dogs. My husband is an IT guy with a mind for pretty much anything he sets it to, including computers, cooking and craft brewing. We’ve both had steady income for 15+ years and lead a wash-rinse-repeat lifestyle that totally suits us, despite how boring it sounds.
Starting this month (May), my husband and I will put a lot more money toward our mortgage. And by a lot, I mean his whole paycheck instead of half of it.
So why the sudden push to pay off your mortgage in four years? What’s the motivation?
This is something my husband has dreamed of for years. He abhors debt and thinks interest is the work of Satan. He knows exactly how much interest we’ve paid so far, and exactly how much we’ll save if we stick to this plan. And it’s a lot.
As for me, having my house paid off before I’m 35 is an incredible prospect, but there are a few other things I hope to gain from it as well. I’ve been struggling with my tendency to spend money as a hobby, and am increasingly aware of the diminishing returns associated with collecting stuff. While I’ll never be someone who hates shopping, I’d like to evolve into someone who spends more thoughtfully — less money on in-the-moment-must-haves and more on experiences or things from which I can draw continued pleasure. Restricting my spending capabilities seems like a good (albeit challenging and possibly sadistic) pathway toward mindfulness. Plus, I’m inspired by those in the personal finance community who have achieved debt freedom despite seemingly insurmountable odds.
Mostly, it’s the financial freedom associated with ZERO debt that excites us both. We won’t quit our jobs the day the final check clears or anything, but we do have goals that will be more attainable after our mortgage is paid off. These plans include travel, home renovations and possibly real estate investment.
And how do you plan on making it happen?
We plan to avoid all unnecessary spending. As DINKs (dual income, no kids), we’ve taken full advantage of our ability to pick up whatever sounds good at the grocery store several times per week (within reason — my husband is very much the bargain shopper and will not pay over $1 for avocados, no matter how much we want them for our salads). To add insult to injury, we really like cheese. Good cheese. Gourmet, $10-per-block cheese.
That being said, we rarely dine out. My husband makes most of our meals and I take leftovers for lunch, or buy ingredients from the store to make my own. We don’t have cable. I still have a “dumb” phone while my husband’s smartphone plan is subsidized by his employer. Both of our vehicles are paid off. In essence, we don’t have a lot of the high-dollar expenses that make extreme budgeting such a tough pill to swallow for others.
You mentioned you’re a spender and your husband is a saver. How have you made that jive in your marriage?
I had trouble with it at first, but ultimately acknowledging our differences helped a lot. Plus, I’ve learned quite a bit from his thrifty ways and respect him enormously for his financial savvy. I’m thankful to be with someone who’s a saver, as being with a spender would likely lead to financial chaos and incredible stress.
I’m also not a crazy spender; my habit doesn’t put us into debt or permit us from paying our bills. I’m financially responsible enough to pay off my credit card each month and shop frugally for what I buy. My husband recognizes this and trusts that I will never let my love for new clothes and the occasional schmancy dinner compromise our budget or financial goals.
What budgeting tools (apps, spreadsheets, strategies, etc.) are you using?
We detailed all of our monthly expenses in a spreadsheet to determine how much we’ll have left over for groceries and other odds and ends. Our fixed monthly expenses include utilities, insurance, Internet, vehicle expenses, and dog supplies. (It doesn’t matter how lean our budget becomes — our boys would be very unhappy without their evening rawhide.) We’ve also factored in expenses that are important to our mental happiness — for him, it’s soccer and golf leagues. For me, it’s yoga. With these costs already incorporated into fixed expenses, we think this pursuit will feel less painful.
Right or wrong, we haven’t worked out any formal processes or strategies just yet. We’re going to see how it goes for a few months and then evaluate what tools we need to keep the momentum going.
Good luck to this inspirational couple! We hope their plan is going well! If you have any thoughts or high fives for them, feel free to leave them in the comments below.