Our Different Money Histories

by James & Miel on May 10, 2006 · 0 comments

Miel: I started babysitting at a young age and just loved the ten bucks that I’d take home at the end of the night. I moved on to college and worked two jobs to pay for my tuition. I saved like a bandit. I might have been the saving queen, but I also knew very well just how to spend it. I saved everything I could, as I plotted my next adventure and paid for myself to go around the world.

It started in high school when I fundraised and worked for $6k to spend a year in Finland. The addiction to saving for a big goal began right there. Now I can’t say that the concept has changed much. Now it’s just not gallevanting around the globe that gets me to save my pennies. As of late it has been saving for our condo and now for our wedding.

Having the ability to make those choices means a lot to me. It means getting the most of life, even if it’s on a budget. When I earned $3 a day as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I still enjoyed the freedom that gave me. I ended up coming home after two years abroad with more money than my friends back home in a cube. It’s all about making the right choices with your money to reach those goals. By earning money while I was young, I traveled to over twenty countries by the time I was out of college. Now it means earning enough to both contribute to our household and savings, as well as being autonomous in my expenditures.

James: My experience is somewhat different than Miel’s. When I grew up in Oregon, I never had to save. My folks provided everything for me. They funded my high school and college education, paid for my room and board, etc. I’m eternally grateful for their support, because it means I didn’t have a gob of debt like a lot of my classmates. However, I never learned to develop proper money skills. I was, in fact, a bit of a spendthrift.

Now, I’m a lot more hard core about saving and investing than I used to be. What happened was, when I was working on my M.A. degree, I managed to rack up about $46,000 in debt. A lot of it, about $14,000, was in super high interest credit cards. The balance (32k) I owed to good old Uncle Sam for my education. When I graduated, I found myself in a job that I hated and wasn’t qualified for.

I took the job in part because I needed to pay my visa bill, but also in part because I was younger and less savvy about those things. To make a long story short, I ran into trouble with my boss and the combination of living in a mildewing basement and working to pay the credit card companies left me feeling powerless and deflated.

I swore that I would never be in that situation again. Now, the debt is paid and Miel and I are on our way to meeting and hopefully surpassing our financial goals.

Miel&James: In looking over this we both recognize that we have pretty different experiences with money. We are both committed to working on our jointly defined goals and negotiating our shared differences.



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