Tuesday, January 15, 2008

financial stability

it used to be that i was not the most financially responsible human being in the world. i got a credit card when i was 18 and i had no idea how it worked, but i maxed it out anyway. and then they kept raising my limit, and i kept spending money i didn't have. then i got a job waiting tables, and after i paid a few bills and bought some food, i went shopping. one time i saved up a lot of money... and then i went shopping again. then i quit my job because i hated it, and i took out a student loan in order to finance my semester-long unemployment.
i don't think i stopped being stupid about money until alan and i got engaged.
we always knew that we would be paying for the wedding almost entirely with our own money, and i don't know if you've checked recently, but weddings are insanely expensive. even the cheap ones. i think i read somewhere that the average cost for a wedding in north texas is somewhere around $22,000. and so began the budgeting, and the gradual process of learning about the value of money and time, and learning to truly evaluate every single purchase decision we made. it was tough at first, i'm not going to lie. but eventually it got easier, and the most extraordinary thing happened: i began to really think about the things that were most important to me - and weekly shopping sprees didn't make the list, not even for a fashion design major. in the end, we managed to have the most amazing wedding i could have ever imagined, and we did not put one cent of it on a credit card. and speaking of credit cards....
after the wedding, we focused all of our energy and budgeting skills on paying off our consumer debt and building up our emergency savings cushion. on december 15, 2007, we paid off our very last penny of credit card debt. i can't tell you how proud i am that we were able to start 2008 debt-free! we don't have to worry about how we're going to pay our bills, or what we're going to do if one of the cars needs new tires. we aren't wealthy, but we aren't struggling, and we have our priorities all figured out. we have been contributing more into our 401(k)s and saving a significant amount of money each month towards a down payment on a house one day. i am so fortunate to have learned the financial lessons i've learned so early in my life, and i'm so thankful for the peace of mind that financial stability brings.

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