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- My parents taught me many money lessons as a child that I still use today.
- Most importantly, they taught me to resist the temptation to raise my standard of living every time I received a pay increase or financial windfall.
- This mentality has helped my wife and me build our emergency fund and save up for a home, and it helped me prepare for a major career change.
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But that’s not to say they weren’t incredible financial role models. On the contrary, all the core principles of what it takes to be successful with money I learned from my parents.
And the most important lesson of all that my parents taught me about money was to resist the urge to increase expenses every time I had an income increase or an unexpected windfall.
I can still hear my mom and dad at the dinner table, saying, "When most people get a raise, they immediately find a way to spend it. Don’t do that. Try to save some or most of it instead. That way you can start to build some financial margin in your life."
I never forgot their advice. And it has guided me throughout every phase of life.
We put our wedding money towards an emergency fund
My wife and were both young when we were married (22 and 20) and had very little money to our name. But we did budget and save up for things like the first and last on our apartment, a few pieces of furniture, and our honeymoon expenses.
And that meant that whatever gifts that we received from our wedding could be used however we wanted. My dad had recommended to us that we use whatever came in from the wedding to start our emergency fund.
He told us that having that financial buffer would help our marriage start out on the right foot. "You don’t want to begin your marriage living paycheck to paycheck if you can help it," he said. "You’ll have enough work on your hands learning to live as husband and wife without adding in that dynamic."
We took his advice and put all of our wedding money in savings. And we’ve never regretted the decision.
We saved my wife’s income towards the down payment on our home
When we were married, my wife had just finished up her college degree and wasn’t working yet. So for about the first year of our marriage, we lived on my income alone.
About a year into our marriage, my wife landed her first job. All of the sudden we were bringing in 40% to 50% more income per month. And we were very tempted to spend that money in all kinds of ways.
But we had gotten used to living on one income. And there wasn’t really anything that we needed to spend that extra money on. So, instead, we decided to save it towards the down payment on a home.
A year later, we were able to buy our first home … and the home that we’re still in today. It’s the home that both of our boys have been born in. We’ve made so many amazing memories in it.
Again, no regrets on that decision.
We saved my side hustle income towards a career change
Fast forward four years to 2018. Last May, I decided that I wanted to try to become a full-time personal finance writer.
I started out by freelance writing as a side hustle. By the beginning of 2019, I was beginning to make some traction and my side hustle income was at about 50% of my day job income. But instead of spending that money, I saved every penny of it.
I knew that launching out as a full-time writer was a bit of a risky move for my family. And to ease the pressure, I wanted to increase my emergency fund to over a year’s worth of expenses.
By saving my side hustle income, I was able to do that. And it made it so much easier for me to take the leap into full-time writing. I didn’t have to worry that I was putting my family in jeopardy by following my passion.
Yet again, no regrets.
We’ll keep using their advice moving forward
Things have taken off with my writing business in a way that I never would have dreamed a year ago. I still find it hard to believe that people will pay me to write about the things that I’m passionate about.
But even though I’m making more money now than I had been making before, our expenses haven’t changed much. We realize that we were perfectly happy with our lifestyle before. Yes, we’ve made a few purchases here and there, but for the most part our budget has stayed the same.
Instead, we’re just throwing more money at our financial goals, like saving for retirement and a down payment on a rental property.
But, by this point, it just seems like second nature to save pay raises and unexpected money that comes our way. Because it’s the mentality that’s been the driving force behind literally every financial success that we’ve experienced.
And I’m not sure it’s a mentality that I’d have if it weren’t for my parents.
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