Since early on in our marriage we enjoyed the teachings of Dave Ramsey and the teaching of his budget, and debt snowball. We spent our first 2 years of marriage paying off school loans, car loans, and small credit card balances. The way we did this in one word is: Sacrifice. The longer version is we were both working full-time in jobs that college had prepared us for…hence the loans, and the ability to pay them off as quickly as possible. We were both earning about an equal amount, and put most of my income toward paying off debt. We would pick our lowest bill, and put all the extra money that we could to paying off that bill each month until all of our bills, besides housing, were gone. We also lived simply and cut down on monthly expenses. Our first apartment was around $500 a month which was the lowest rent we could find in an acceptable apartment.
Our first 2 years of marriage set the stage for us to learn to live on one income, and not take on monthly bills that were too high for us to otherwise enjoy life. I am so thankful for these lessons learned early on, and for the financial discipline of my husband that I learned to follow. We were debt free before age 30, with 2 paid off cars and no credit cards. Then, when we had kids, I was able to work part-time or stay at home for 4 years before choosing to work full-time in a flexible job that I enjoy. We have mostly continued this pattern throughout our marriage, with only housing payments as a main monthly bill. We also have built up our savings to a pretty good place for us for the moment. It wasn’t an easy road, but I am proud of our steps to financial freedom so far, and the foundation that it built for our family! We live well. We don’t have major excesses, and we don’t use credit cards, but we definitely have enough. We go out to eat too often. Eating out and expensive coffee are our splurges that we still could cut back on, but we really enjoy them!
There is no price you can put on learning to live well within your means. To a large extent, it doesn’t really matter how much someone makes. What matters most is how we learn to save, or at least not over-spend. I saw a research article recently that concluded that happiness mostly did not rely on how much money someone made, but on what they spent their money on. Those that spent their money on giving, and experiences most, were the happiest! Seems to be true!