In January, Consumerism Commentary will begin the Naked With Cash event and series. Several Consumerism Commentary readers will share their financial reports and analyses at the beginning of each month, with insight from financial planners and other experts. To introduce each of the participants to readers, I asked them to share where they’ve been, where they are, and where they’re going, and to describe their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Meet Naked With Cash participants, Anne and Matt. Here is their introduction, written by Anne.
Hi, everyone! I’m looking forward to using this year to anonymously track my finances. I’m hoping to learn more about what to do at this stage of personal finance, and stay focused.
For the purposes of these posts, know me as Anne, wife to Matt and mother to two preschoolers. My husband and I are 27 years old and live in the Midwest.
I’m a stay-at-home-mom and am minimally contributing to the household income. In the past, I made money through freelance projects and blogging, but those endeavors have fallen by the wayside now that my children are older (and busier!) and my husband is making significantly more money than in the past.
My number one priority at this stage is my family, and being able to devote my attention to them, rather than earning money, has been freeing.
Though I’m not earning much, I enjoy taking a hands-on role in our personal finance.
My husband works in a small IT consulting company. His work is highly technical and specific, and I can’t concisely explain it. Matt is very good at his work and has an excellent work ethic. He enjoys his job and has a good relationship with his boss and coworkers.
Matt and I graduated from college in 2007, right before the Great Recession hit. We were blessed that he had a great job lined up for after graduation. We got married that year and he started his job, and I started mine.
I pulled our tax records, and our combined gross income for 2007 was $39,079. Considering five months of that was income we earned while in school, I think that was a great start.
I shifted to freelance after a little while, and not long after that I became pregnant with our first child. I’ve been out of the traditional workforce ever since, with no short-term plans to re-enter.
Thanks to tremendous generosity from a lot of relatives, sacrifice from our parents, scholarships, part-time jobs, and doing what we could to keep our college expenses in check, Matt and I graduated from our state school with no student loan debt. I can’t understate how big of a deal this was for our current financial state. It gave us an incredible head start and we are so thankful. We’re seeing the benefits first-hand, and we want to make saving for our children’s educations a priority. (But don’t worry; it’s not a priority over our own retirement.)
We did have credit card debt (actually, it was kind of ridiculous) but we buckled down and paid it off within seven months of our graduation. We haven’t carried a credit card balance since.
We then got to work building up our savings.
Matt’s income slowly increased, and my freelance projects helped. Our combined annual income to date (AGI):
|2012||estimating around $90-95k|
|2013||estimating around $120k|
My husband changed jobs this year, making the move to consulting. His annual base salary is now $83,000, and he earns a bonus of $20/hour for every billable hour. Most weeks he logs around 40-45 billable hours.
Financially speaking, I think we’re in a great place. We’re fortunate and we’re blessed. We are Christians and believe it all belongs to God. I don’t buy into the “prosperity gospel,” but I do believe the Lord has chosen to bless us financially, for whatever reason. We want to be smart with what we have, and pay it forward.
I believe our financial strengths are: our good expenses-to-income ratio, no consumer debt, and a desire to keep improving. Also, we’re still reasonably young. Plenty of time to let compound interest work in our favor.
Our greatest threat is probably trying to avoid unnecessary boosts to our standard of living. I’d hate to see us fritter away our extra income, spending money because “we can afford it now.”
But, I’d like to see our family strike a better balance of saving for the future and enjoying the present. I want us to be deliberate with our splurges and our discretionary spending, and I’d also like a better work/life balance on my husband’s part.
For the longer term, we would like to save “enough” for retirement. We’re still figuring out what that might look like. We’d like to live the kind of lifestyle that will give us many options in the years ahead.
I estimate I’ve been reading Consumerism Commentary for six months. I used to read a ton of personal finance blogs, but then I got burned out and unsubscribed from most of them. But then, I was doing a Google search for something or other and this site came up, and I decided I’d like to read it again.
Thanks Anne (and Matt)! I’m so happy to have you on board for Naked With Cash.
Updated December 27, 2012 and originally published December 18, 2012.