On Monday, I shared with you all that R and I decided to open a joint checking account together, despite the fact that we’re neither married nor engaged. I completely realize that it’s not a choice everyone would make, but we have been technically sharing money and resources since the beginning, so it felt like it was the natural progression for our relationship.
Today, I am going to share with you why we haven’t gone down the marriage path yet, and the outline we have for getting there. If you’ve been dealing with student loans affecting your plans as well, I’m sure you’ll relate.
Student loans are affecting our plans
I don’t like to type that out. I really don’t like to admit it. I have read several articles from different viewpoints, ranging from those that claim student loans are holding millennials back, to other personal blogs, where authors state that they’re not going to be held back by these chains.
When I broached the topic of marriage with R, he had some uncertainty about being able to afford everything. After talking a bit more, we both reached the conclusion that we would ideally like to start our marriage on a clean slate.
Our hope of going into marriage debt free
Being debt free is important to us. Both of us grew up with our parents in debt our entire lives, and money issues were never fun to contend with. R’s minimum payment is around $100 more than mine, and he hates seeing how much he has to part with every month.
R was just breaking even most months. Not being able to save up money put a real damper on things. He was frustrated with the amount of expenses he kept incurring. The reality is, we can’t afford a wedding and pay extra. It’s much easier to focus on annihilating your debt than to worry about a bunch of other things, too.
Neither of us view marriage as a big deal, so while we aren’t in any particular rush, no one in our family is getting younger. I would really love it if those closest to me could celebrate with us.
Saving and debt could continue
Our expenses saw a pretty large decrease from moving, but R is shifting his focus to saving for a car. We did some number crunching, and ideally, R will be able to save around $500/month right now. If he does, he will have $3,500 by the end of the year. He is aiming to get a used car at some point next year, and would like $4,000 to put down on it. He’ll finance the rest.
Hm, but won’t he then have both a student loan payment and a car payment? That’s pushing us further away from our goals of being debt free. As much as I’m not completely happy about it, a reliable car is necessary, and we haven’t been able to find a good deal for ~$4k. He would really like a 2005ish with less than 100k miles on it. We’ll probably be looking anywhere from $6k-$8k.
After that, he’ll shift his focus back to making extra payments on the student loans (we’re assuming the interest rate will be higher), hopefully paying them off within three years.
What’s the plan?
Three years seems like such a long time! I have to remind myself that we’re not accounting for quarterly bonuses and tax returns, which are always good for making large dents. That’s also plenty of time to ensure raises
R is focusing on making more money as we’ve really done almost everything we can to cut our expenses down. R has been working overtime, but I don’t want to count on that, so we were conservative in our monthly savings estimate. If I can find more clients to write for, the possibilities are endless, and then we can also dodge buying a car as it would allow us to be a one-car household.
What about owning a home? Not in our plans regardless of our debt situation. We really want to explore more states and towns before settling down. Deciding on a place to live for five or more years seems a bit daunting!
Travel? Not off the table completely. I’m still debating on whether FinCon is in our plans yet. R and I have never taken an actual vacation that was longer than a weekend, and he does have a week to use. I do keep in mind that everything we purchase sets us further back, so it’s a bit hard to splurge. If anything, we’ll stay with my parents for a week-long beach vacation.
My vague plan for a wedding includes spending $5,000 and having around 30 guests, which isn’t something we have to kill ourselves saving for. If we feel like we shouldn’t wait, other sacrifices will have to made. We might not be able to start married life off being debt free, but at least we know we’re on our way there. After our student loans and possible car, we have no plans for debt!
So while student loans are affecting our plans, we are mostly okay with it. As we all know, life isn’t about rushing through everything, it’s about taking things one step at a time and appreciating the journey (after all, this is my “journey to saving”!). My cousins didn’t get married until they were around 26/27, and that’s still a few years away for us. I also told R I wouldn’t mind a longer engagement =).
I think I get a little jealous when I see my friends from college getting engaged, and heck, even seeing some of you out there that are my age that are already married with a house. Everyone takes a different path in life, though, and this is mine.
Are student loans affecting your plans, or have you ignored them and gone forward with marriage, home ownership and travel? Tell us why!