Women’s Personal Finance Wednesdays – Week 32
1. Look How Far You’ve Come Dear Debt
I paid off my student loans five and a half years ago, and that was one of the best feelings of my life. I try and remember how big of a deal it was at that point, but we’ve come a long way – so much so that the $24,000 I paid off in three and a half years doesn’t feel like a huge number any more.
During that time, though, I first worked a couple of very low paying jobs in South Carolina post graduation and was thrilled to accept at $30,000 a year job sixteen months later. At those salaries, $24,000 was a huge sum of money and it was a huge thing to pay back in full in a very accelerated timeline.
Like many of us in the personal finance space, I’m often caught up looking to far into the future, and previous accomplishments can fade all too quickly. I’m in a phase of life where I’ve gotten to the place I dreamed of for a long time – settled and comfortable – and it can be difficult to settle down and simply acknowledge everything we’ve done up until now. The hard work of earlier earlier years need to be acknowledged in full because those accomplishments can be pretty dang impressive.
2. Extreme Frugality Fatigue Is All It’s Cracked Up To Be Mad Money Monster
While I am still all in as far as cutting cable (can it count as cutting it if you never really had it in the first place?) and an ever extending clothing ban, a lot of the rest of what she describes here is how I feel about the obsession with extreme frugality within the FIRE movement. While I’m all for cutting out expenses in your life that fall into frivolity if you truly don’t value them, I also don’t think cutting to the bone is healthy.
I do, however, love the idea of selective frugality. While we may not all agree that a clothes buying ban that lasts more than two years is something we can get on board with, there are probably more than a few things that we can ditch in order to reach our long term goals and general financial stability. They just don’t all have to the be same things – or everything.
3. The Cost of Having Children Graduated Learning
We may not pay $45,000 a year to send two children to daycare, but I wholeheartedly agree with Stephanie’s sentiments here. The idea that “children are just as expensive as you make them” is completely disingenuous.
If you go to work, you have to pay for childcare. If you stay home, you have to give up the long term earning potential of the stay at home spouse, even if they eventually go back to work. And even if you decide to wait to have children until you’re financially independent and can stay home with them full time without paying for childcare, you give up the option of having them young – or at least as young as I did, getting pregnant at twenty six, a full four years earlier than Mr. Money Mustache and the very earliest early retirees.
Sometimes I wonder how life would look if we’d waited to have our son until we were financially independent, but that wouldn’t have been until our late thirties, at earliest. And even if you disregard the financial aspect, there is the special relationships he has with older members of our families that he might not get to experience until we waited until his birth was the least impactful on us financially.
No matter how you spin it, children are expensive, even if you exclusively breastfeed and cloth diaper like I did, even if you have a stay at home parent, even if you choose not to buy a single item of clothing or toy for them over their lifetimes. Just one month of preschool, just one month of my hours and income at work, and I could pay for the fanciest toy many times over.