So I turned 30 today and I’m pretty excited about it. I love birthdays and I love milestones. I’ve never dreaded getting older, and this birthday is no exception. I might feel differently in another thirty years, but I hope not.

“Never regret growing older, for it is a privilege denied to many.” 

             – Unknown

To celebrate my birthday, I decided to write out a higher level version of Friday’s Frugal Five – Thirty Financial Successes. On the flip side, I think I’ll  write up Thirty Financial Failures on another day. Just not on my birthday because I want to enjoy my day. With a lot of luck, privilege, and hard work, I’m entering my 30s in a pretty solid spot financially.

1. I bought my first car with cash and drove it for 7.5 years. I’m now driving the second car I’ve ever owned, and it was also paid with cash.

2. I worked a job through college that paid for my books, sorority dues, and other incidental expenses so I was able to minimize the size loan I ended up with.

3. Along those same lines, I graduated college in three years, which saved me a ton. I actually love school, so the decision to graduate early was a really hard one, but I’m glad I did. My only regrets are not getting to study abroad and not getting to take the history class that initially go me to consider the school – I sat in on the class as a prospective student and decided I needed to learn from that professor. I am glad that I reconsidered the history major, though.

4. I took on a second job right out of college as soon as I realized my low paying internship wouldn’t cover my bills. I’m glad the thought of deferring my student loans never crossed my mind.

5. I got married to someone with similar frugal tendencies to my own. We may not always agree on the little stuff, but we share similar long term financial goals, which has been absolutely vital to both our financial successes and our marriage as a whole.

6. We didn’t buy into the expensive rings and wedding hype. Combined, our rings cost under $500 and the wedding/honeymoon $3500. We were very fortunate to have family members help with DIY options and we had a wondeful day (just not an expensive one).

It couldn’t have been a better day.

7. After we moved back from South Carolina, we lived in a house owned by family for a year (paying just utilities) and saved up for a payment to buy our house. I can’t ever repay that gift of having a place to live for a year that allowed us to stash away money so we could buy our own.

8. We bought a home in the Seattle area at the very bottom of the housing market. While it was a bit of a stretch at the time since my husband was in college, I am so thankful that we jumped at the chance to buy a home when we did. We have incredible neighbors and the best neighborhood we could possibly ask for to raise our son.

9.  That home is close enough to downtown that I can run to work every week and we can take a short walk to get our groceries/prescriptions/go to the gym.

10. Rates dropped a year after we bought our home and we refinanced to an even lower rate. We now have a 30 year, 3.375% mortgage, so we won’t be paying it off early.

11. Thanks to buying at a great time and then refinancing a year later, we now pay less for our home than a two bedroom apartment in our area.

12. Our home is a small rambler. We now have the income to upgrade, but we have no plans to ever sell our starter home. A smaller home means less stuff, smaller utility bills, and manageable home maintenance that we do ourselves.

13. As soon as we closed on our home, we got a roommate. A year later, we lucked out and our current roommate moved in. He’s been a fantastic addition to our household. He cooked us dinner last night, hung out with our kiddo so I could address Christmas cards, plus he pays us rent.

14. Speaking of cooking dinner, I finally learned how to cook in my mid 20s. Goes without saying how that saves us money.

Our pretty backyard

15. No cable. I’ve paid for 6 months of cable in my entire life, and that was only because the deal was cheaper than straight internet. Now we pay for just internet and have a stellar rate – $34.99/month – for internet that’s fast enough for our roommate’s computer games.

16. We’ve also never spent money on a television. We’ve been lucky enough to be gifted two in our adult lives, both very old models (the second with no remote) but they’ve worked just fine. Well, until a month ago when the second broke and we haven’t bothered to fix/replace it. Television isn’t a big part of our lives, which saves us money and helps us to be more productive otherwise.

17. Upgrading technology has never been my thing. My newest phone is a two year old iPhone 5c (my biggest splurge at $99), which only replaced my old phone when it physically started to peel apart.

18. I kept my second job for 6.5 years when I had a career job that paid the bills, and used that income for student loan repayment and then savings/investments. Plus, being a park ranger can be pretty awesome sometimes.

19. My last salon haircut was a year and a half ago. Generally, I just don’t spend a lot on beauty or grooming. It just has never been high on my list for ways to spend my time or money. Not that I don’t enjoy getting pampered, but I mostly just don’t get around to it.

20. I paid off $30,000 of student loans and interest in 3.5 years on an entry level salary. Now if only lifestyle inflation hasn’t gotten to me after I paid them off.

21. We opened an Alaska Airlines credit card. Over the last five years, we’ve averaged one free trip every 18 months or so. I just now opened a new Chase card to start seriously travel hacking, but our Alaska card did just get us four round trip tickets to Hawai‘i for $98.

End of Chain of Craters Road, Volcano National Park

22. We waited until we were financially stable to have a kid.

23. Through going back to work very part time soon after having that kid, I was able to get my full pay through five months of part time maternity leave. And then six months later I cut my hours because we had the financial stability to do so.

24. I use the library. A lot.

25. Instead of going out with friends, we almost always host parties instead. So much cheaper and you actually get a chance to talk to each other.

26. Hiking and camping are nearly free activities and our most frequent way to get out of the house.

27. I grow some of our food and save seeds for future years.

But sometimes I go a little overboard on seed buying.

28. I started this blog. By blogging, and reading a lot of other blogs, personal finance is permeating my life like never before.

29. Said blog has forced me to set big financial goals. 50% savings rate in 2018, I’m looking at you.

30. Last month’s “No” Spend November has been so eye opening and inspiring in terms of what our finances can look like in the future. Tracking spending down to the penny is just a whole different level of control.

Here’s to my thirties. And to the hope that they are even better than the last decade.

36 thoughts on “Turning 30 – Thirty Financial Successes 

  1. Hi Angela! Great list you have here. You can almost read it as a quick summary of your story :). My favorite fact about you is that you were a Ranger 🙂 I have dreams of ER where I become a mounted park ranger. Lets see what happens…

  2. Nice post. It’s crazy to think back and realize how much we’ve accomplished over time. We get so busy with day to life we forget to take a second to reflect on how lucky we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

  3. Happy 30th Birthday! You have done so many great things and made so many solid financial decisions, your 30s are bound to be your best years yet. This is so beautiful and such a great idea!! I wish I’d thought of this idea for my 30th, which is in just 2 weeks! Maybe I’ll just make a list for myself. It is so nice to focus on all the positive changes and progress rather than be sad about how much farther I ‘could’ be. Congrats again and cheers to the next 30!

  4. Happy belated birthday! This is a great list. I especially love the seed saving and growing bit, which is something I aspire to. Plus, the library is awesome!

  5. Amazing! I wish I had done any of these things. I’m 10 years older and just now getting on track financially. Sigh. Great job. Happy birthday btw. I have a December birthday too. 😁

    1. Happy birthday to you too! And you are still way ahead of most – be glad you’re getting on track now and not in another 10 years 🙂

      And our mortgage is waaaayy larger than yours thanks to the area we live in.

    1. Hey, now is the time to do it! You know the saying, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.” Same thing goes with finances 🙂

  6. Happy 30th Birthday! I feel you on the seeds! I’m already struggling for next year. Lol

    Hope you have a wonderful day!

  7. I love the list. Really has me thinking about what the good decisions. I made along the way in my 20s. Turning 32 in a few months and it’s probably a good time to reflect.

    I’ve also put a focus on Savings Rate, so Point 29 hit home for me as well.

    Take care,

    1. I love birthdays, and I think it’s a great time to reflect on all the positive stuff 🙂

  8. Happy 31st birthday! These are amazing. Looks like writing the promised 30 financial failures turned out to be too hard after this list :p

    1. Thank you! Oh – I did write the failure list later. Apparently I forgot to link it. Will fix it 🙂

  9. Somehow, I also landed on this post this year. It’s a delightful mirror to your life and your wisdom with money matters has been quite a learning. Belated happy happy birthday!!

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