I became slightly addicted to reading personal finance blogs over the summer, in particular http://www.frugalwoods.com/. I don’t have a lot in common with many of them, in that neither I nor my husband have a huge desire to retire early and travel the world or live on a homestead, but I have been thinking about money and independence and what those two things mean to me and to my husband and to us as a couple.
I have never been great with money. I only ever managed to save with a very specific goal in mind and I love stuff. In college, I had the enormous privilege of:
- Living at home.
- Having tuition free education, something I am thankful for every single day.
- A great, well paid part-time job that I was easily able to fit around my college schedule.
- Good health, enabling me to juggle numbers 2 and 3.
- Not having to worry about bills, food and paying rent, another thing I am thankful for every day-the money I earned from my job and fairly regular babysitting for a family down the road was all mine.
My best friend worked close by and we’d work all summer, saving as much as we could, then we’d go to London for a week and blow most of it on clothes, having a good time and letting our hair down before resuming our studies. Again, this is something I am really, really thankful for and I couldn’t have asked for more from my parents who facilitated me being able to do this.
When I was in college, the Government of the day set up a crazy good savings scheme, the SSIA. It was a no-brainer, you got an extra 25% when you saved into these accounts. I set one up and when I started a ‘proper’ job after graduation I upped the payments. I did not save much beyond this, but I was still living at home with minimal bills. This was the heady days of the peak of the Celtic Tiger and the madness of this time is best illustrated by the fact that I was able to buy a house, with the assistance of my parents (have you realised how amazing they are yet? I thank them every day, in my head at least, for the privileged start I’ve had in life) despite:
- Having just graduated and not having a long track record of working.
- Having only the savings I had managed during college.
- Having no lump sum in a deposit account.
So here I was, 23 years of age, a home owner who had never really had to plan her spending, save and budget with a long term goal in mind or be responsible for all the bills that come with running any household but especially being a homeowner. And I continued to like All The Things. Stuff was my friend and while I was never a candidate for a show about hoarding I was a very good consumer.
Looking back, I don’t know how the process of buying a house didn’t change my mindset around finances. I mean, you’d think if anything would signing up for a 40 mortgage would. But no, there are more tales to tell.