I’m Karen. I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Tony, since May 2008. I’m a mama to two beautiful boys.
In August 2007, we moved 800 miles away from our home state, Indiana, to North Carolina so my husband could pursue a graduate degree. The first year in North Carolina was stressful. My husband was studying to become a college professor in literature and creative writing. I struggled to find a full-time job in my field. Unfortunately, I majored in journalism at pretty much the worst time in history to major in journalism.
My husband was paid to teach undergrad classes, but not enough to make ends meet, and I worked part-time in retail and worked as a freelance writer for practically nothing while searching for a full-time job. Living expenses, student loans and credit card debt chipped away at our savings. We changed a lot of our habits, and somehow made it through the year without increasing our debt (in fact, we paid off most of our credit card debt).
When I finally found a job as a copywriter, I realized that even a full-time salary isn’t enough without a plan. Determined to prepare for the next financial curve ball, we began planning for the future by paying down debt, saving for emergencies and retirement, and developing smart spending (and saving) habits.
In three years we paid off our consumer debt, built a 6-month emergency fund, paid cash for the European vacation of our dreams, and saved enough money to move back home before we technically had jobs lined up.
In April 2010, I discovered I was pregnant. In May 2010, we picked up and moved back home to Indiana to be closer to our friends and family. After several stressful months of job hunting, Tony was hired as an adjunct professor at a community college in a small town in Indiana. The money was terrible and the job offered no benefits, but our savings allowed us to take a chance in the hopes that something better would come along. Money was tight, but I still decided to begin a career working from home as a freelance writer so I could stay home with our baby.
The gamble paid off. In January, my husband was finally hired as a full-time professor at a college in southern Indiana. We picked up and moved (AGAIN).
In March of 2012, I was offered a position teaching at my husband’s college. Now we both have our dream jobs: he’s a college professor teaching composition, literature, and creative writing; I’m a work-at-home mom who spends my days caring for our adorable son and juggling 2-3 classes and all of the work that goes along with it.
We’re finally earning enough money to buy a house, pay off our student loan debt, and still find room in the budget for some little luxuries. It’s not easy, but it’s absolutely worth it so I can spend my days with this guy:
My financial philosophy is simple:
Managing money is about making choices. Saving and frugality are important to us, but we’re determined to discover creative ways to enjoy life while still making responsible choices with our money. The reason we scrimp and save in some areas is so we’ll have enough to indulge in the finer things every now and then.
Setting your priorities and spending your money on what matters most to you while cutting corners on what matters less allows you to devote extra money to the important things without breaking your budget. When you make smart choices, you’re empowered to do whatever you want with your money. We’re not there yet, but our goal is to get there without sacrificing the little luxuries completely.
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