May 23, 2013

Hello, Stranger!

Wait, I have a blog?  What's that?  Seriously, there is so much to blog about but I have yet to find the time to do so.  I promise within the next few days I will recap our awesome trip out west and do Bman's 10 month entry, but for now I must get back to the May Challenge: Blog Everyday in May which I am epically failing.  Oh well, I tried. 

Today the challenge is to write about something that was not learned in school.  So, blog followers and friends, here is what I did not learn in school...

Money Management.  This is what school did not teach me.  In college, I seriously had more money that I do now.  How is this even possible?  First, very loving and generous parents.  Second, I was not so bad at swimming.  Third, a kick ass summer job which allowed me to have a good amount of spending money throughout the year.

Let me elaborate a bit.  Swimming gave me so many opportunities in life and one of those being a scholarship to Ohio University.  This scholarship provided me with a top tier education, allowed me a stellar athletic career, introduced me to some of the most fantastic people I have ever met, and taught me a lot of games usually accompanied with beverages.  This may not seem important to some people but let me tell you I can make any party go from boring to interesting.  Quick side note that is semi-related to this topic: yesterday at Crossfit our warm up was to do a burpee every time Roxanne was said while the song by The Police played.  Not quite the same game I remember playing to this song, but this would due.

My parents also worked incredibly hard to pay for what portion of my tuition my scholarship did not.   I am so grateful for this, and between Aaron and I, neither of us have any school loans (yup, we have Master's degrees too).  Thanks again Mom and Dad, you rock!

My parents modeled a great work ethic to both my sister and I.  We were both begging for jobs once we could work.  It seemed like fun, right?  I also liked the idea of having my own spending money.  When I was in high school I had a paper route and worked at the mall during the school year; during the summer I would lifeguard.  I saved some of this money but mostly I just spent it.  The first summer I was home after college I began babysitting a tween and it was such a great job.  He was a wonderful kid and had a passion for tennis.  This passion of his came with a pool and tennis club membership.  He would play tennis and I would sunbathe.  Of course there were other things to be done throughout the day but the majority of the day was spent at the club.

The money that I earned babysitting was spent some during the summer, but for the most part was saved to be my spending money during the year.  As a student-athlete, having a job on top of all my other commitments was nearly impossible.  This money needed to last; and it always did.  With my tuition and books covered what else did I really have to pay for?  I went to school in rural Ohio so shopping was not a distraction.  My meal plan covered the cost of food.  My money was solely used for entertainment.  Nice to not have any bills, huh?  Of course when I moved off campus there were more bills but I think it totaled $100/month (at most).

Fast forward to graduation.  I was lucky to land my first job before I actually graduated from college.  This job was teaching preschool aged children at Ohio University.  My salary: $26,000.  I seriously thought this was sooo much money!  I found a place to live, got all my utilities set up and moved in to my big girl apartment.  At the time (not sure if it's different now) Ohio University paid it's employees once a month.  My first paycheck was for $1,600, and to me this seemed like I hit the lottery.  I paid my rent, paid my utilities, car insurance, and credit card (bought new furniture for my new apt) and I was left with $600 for the month.  Whoa!  $26,000 no longer seemed like a lot of money!  I would put a small amount in to savings but then just blew through the money every month.  Not thinking about what I was spending, I just spent money.  Luckily I didn't accrue any debt I just kept spending my fortunes.

The next year I opted to live with a roommate so I could save more money.  My rent went from $650/ month to $400/month.  Guess how much of that I saved?  Yup, none.  I just spent it on who knows what.  The next year I moved yet again and paid less money for rent.  I saved  and additional $100/month and only paid $300.  Did that money make it to savings?  Nope, sure didn't.

When Aaron and I arrived in Buffalo we rented a small house and paid $600 for rent.  He was making good money as a coach and I took an internship position with the Athletics Dept. and was paid (before taxes) $12,000.  I have no idea what that came out to be after taxes but I think every two weeks I made something like $500.  I was babysitting to supplement but was not near what I was making my last year teaching at Ohio (more than what I had started out as).  We had no student loans, car payments, credit card debt, etc. so this little amount of money was manageable for us.  Surprisingly enough, with this small and modest income, paired with our little rental home we were actually saving money for the first time.

Then came a job for me that paid well, really well.  A huge increase from my $12,000 salary the year before and I was feeling rich.  We spent money foolishly.  Since we had been living on such a tight budget I felt rich.  We bough furniture, ate out a lot, and enjoyed life to it's fullest.  What we didn't really think about was our future.

I learned a lot of amazing things in college but how to spend money, or rather how to save money was not one of those things.  I so badly want to be a good saver but in truth I just tend to be a spender.  We have found a balance and now with lots of other expenses we just can't spend like we used to.  Why do they not offer these real life types of classes in college?  A crash course into David Ramsey would be so valuable to college students.  Honestly, if they offered it to student's today I might just sign up for it. 

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