I live in a college town, and have a decent-paying job. It’s not the sort of job where you quickly amass a high degree of wealth, but I’m okay with that. My bills get paid, and at the end of the day our combined income is such that we can put a little bit away regularly. Sometimes we slip on the spending side, but that usually alarms us enough to make us pretty hardcore about saving again. All in all, a certain balance is achieved.
I have a mortgage, and not a bad one. I have a car payment, which I hate, but it was a fiscal necessity at the time. I have two credit cards. One I’m rather fond of, as rotating credit goes. The other we don’t like, and should probably ditch in favor of another pretty soon. Oh, and a Lowe’s card. Can’t forget the Lowe’s card.
We both have workplace retirement plans, each with a 3% match. They aren’t handled by what would be my first or second choice of companies, but they aren’t bad plans either. Those contributions are obviously automated. We each have IRA’s, and those contributions are currently not automated. More on that later. And shame on us for that.
I have a checking and savings account with your friendly national megabank. It’s actually a pretty decent relationship, and after my particular megabank handled an indentity theft issue with great aplomb last summer, I’m not looking around. I’m sure I could be making a bit more on interest with a non brick-and-mortar outfit, but that’s not what my banky-bank accounts are for anyway.
College towns are great for keeping you young, but that also means you can spin your wheels if you aren’t careful. It’s easy to extend your adolescence beyond your college years here, which is rarely good for the wallet. Several years ago, impending parenthood woke me up to the need to take better control of my finances. We have a child, and are in that window of our lives where all of our friends have young children as well. Over the past few years I’ve started paying attention to their money habits, the outwardly visible ones at least, out of the corner of my eye. We have wonderful friends, truly, but my wife and I find ourselves increasingly at odds with them in regards to these sort of priorities.
My wife is a wonderful cook. I know my way around a kitchen as well, or so I like to think. I only mention this because I suspect it will come up regularly. If you really want to save money, start by learning to f’n cook.