Welcome to Financially Balanced, a personal finance blog about finding that financial sweet spot between your needs and wants and still doing the one most important thing in life – LIVING.
Beginning My Journey
My journey with personal finance began when I was kid, although I didn’t know it at the time. Growing up with a single parent, money was always tight.
As a child, I have vivid memories of my mom cutting out coupons and even dragging us to multiple grocery stores in a single week to take advantage of “triple coupon days” or to buy the left over bakery items that were marked half price if you bought them after 8PM.
When it came to buying clothes, the options were TJMaxx, Marshalls, Solo Serve, or any other discount retailer and occasionally we were lucky enough to get something from Maison Blanche or Dillards if there was a good sale happening.
Of course, growing up as a kid in the 90’s, name brand clothes seemed to be a MUST HAVE and we were no exception. Ours just always seemed to be what was left over on the clearance rack.
My mom was always looking to save a penny (literally), and her spending was always well calculated and well balanced. Probably because there wasn’t much to go around in the first place.
The cool part about it all – I never really felt like we went without anything. Sure there were always things we “had” to have because other kids had them, but overall we were content with what we had. And even though money was always tight, we always had cool stuff to enjoy.
Looking back, I am convinced that these behaviors subconsciously built the foundation upon which I have learned to live a balanced financial life.
Getting A Taste of Personal Finance
Even though I learned some valuable lessons at a young age about living within one’s means, being frugal, and balancing finances, my family was far from educated in the ways of personal finance and that still remains true today.
IRA, 401(k), stocks, bonds, and mutual funds were vocabulary I wouldn’t even come to know until I hit my college years.
One valuable lesson I did learn growing up, however, was saving.
I remember my grandmother stressing the importance of saving money and that my money would earn interest. I remember thinking “you mean someone’s going to give me free money just for saving my money?”
To encourage me to save, she would match dollar-for-dollar any amount that I would put into my savings account. That was the real kicker, and with the thought that I’d be doubling my money, I was sold.
Who knows what the heck became of that little amount of money I was able to save, but the lesson is one that has stuck with me throughout my life and my savings account today is very thankful for it!
Unfortunately, my savings account today doesn’t come with a match. 🙁
Getting Serious About Financial Freedom
After paying off over $105,000 in student loan debt in September 2016, a light bulb went off in my head aside from the massive sigh of relief and excitement of re-gaining an additional $1850 per month that had been previously burning a hole in our budget. (There’s nothing like the feeling of essentially making two mortgage-size payments but only having one house.)
Suddenly the thought of demolishing debt and building wealth not only became somewhat of an obsession, but also something that was actually obtainable.
I immediately began updating my budget spreadsheets and figuring out how we were going to spread out the extra money (I am happy to say all of it is going to savings, retirement, investments, and a 529 for our son).
I also started reading personal finance books and blogs, and listening to Dave Ramsey podcasts like a madman (the debt-free screams on his radio show can be very motivating).
A month after paying off our student loans, I decided that paying interest on a vehicle for no reason was also stupid. So, I paid it off.
Currently we are down to just our mortgage, but with slightly over 1100 square feet and a 16-month old roaming the house, the walls are slowly caving in. The next step on our journey will be finding a new home with room to expand. More on that to come! 🙂
Paying off our loans not only gave a feeling of accomplishment and success, but along with it came a new found feeling of freedom. Financial freedom. In fact, it was difficult(in a good way) deciding how much of our “extra” money was going to go to savings, retirement, travelling, extra mortgage payments, etc.
The best part was that we were FREE to choose.
Why Financially Balanced?
This blog was born out of our journey through paying off a substantial amount of debt while simultaneously trying to find a balance between saving, planning for retirement, travelling, and trying to enjoy all of the other little things that life brings.
I wanted to create a place to talk about money with other like-minded people, and also teach others how to live a “balanced” financial life by sharing our successes as well as the mistakes we have made along the way.
I also believe that no matter where you are on your journey, there is always something new to learn, a different approach to discover, or an alternate way of looking at things. I look forward to learning new things and hearing stories from your comments on this blog.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey as we dig in to a ton of different life and financial topics and help you to find your own financial balance and path to financial freedom.