Category Archives: Milestones

10 Years Later

This week, my wife and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  It had a surreal feel to it.  It is hard to imagine that 10 years have gone by.  In all honesty, it has gone by in a flash.  This post is a brief review of the past 10 years.

Our Wedding day

My wife and I were married on August 10th, 2007.  It was the best day of my life.  Sorry, if I sound cliché, but it was the day I married my best friend and the greatest person who I have ever met.

Even though it was 10 years ago, I remember the day like it was last week.  Our wedding was on a Friday night and it rained the entire day.  My day started by going for breakfast with my dad and uncle who came in from out of town.  After breakfast, I had to take by grandmother to the hairdresser.  After that, I went home and relaxed.  That afternoon, I watched the first 2 episodes of Mad Men and just reflected on my life.  At 5 pm, it was time to get ready.  I put on my tux, jumped in my car, popped in Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones, and headed to the hall to get hitched.

Our Wedding

We were married in an unpretentious hall in Olyphant, Pa.  For wedding gifts, both my parents and my wife’s parents gave us each $5,000 to use towards the cost of the wedding.  We managed to keep the cost of the wedding close to $10,000.  My future sister-in-law paid to have the string section from Marywood University’s Music Department play for one hour while guests were arriving.

When we were planning our wedding, my dad gave us a solid tip.  He said that people will be coming after work on a Friday night, so be sure to have plenty of food and alcohol ready for them as they arrive.  We followed his advice and our guests were pleased.

Our wedding went off without any hiccups.  We said our vows, ate, danced, and had a great night.  It was the beginning of a new life.

Our House

After our wedding, I moved in to the house my wife owned.  My wife had purchased this house from a relative a few years after she finished college.  The good news was that she almost had the house paid for.  The bad news was that it needed to be remodeled.  Over the past 10 years, here is what we accomplished:

Doors: $2,000

Garage door: $1,200

Shed: $1,400

Windows: $3,500

Bathroom remodeled: $6000

Kitchen remodeled: $8,000

Deck: $9,000

Roof: $8,000

Addition: $30,000

Lawn & landscaping: $5,000

Awning: $2000

Generator: $3000 (following Super Storm Sandy in 2012)

All the projects other than the addition was paid for in cash.  A home equity loan was taken to pay for the addition.

Salary & Savings

The first year we were married our combined income was just over $80K.  Since then, it has doubled.  Every year we have maxed out our Roth IRA accounts.  We also fund our 401K/403B accounts.  We started by contributing 10% of our salary to the 401K/403B accounts and have increased our contributions to the maximum amount allowed.  We also save money in a taxable account.  Our savings rate has increased from 40% to almost 55%.

Education

My wife is a public-school teacher in Pennsylvania.  To get to the top of the pay scale, she had to complete 60 credits beyond a Master’s Degree. When we were first married, my wife had her Master’s Degree.  For the first 4 years of our marriage, she took classes and finished the required 60 credits.  She did so without incurring any student loan debt.

When we were married for 5 years, I switched careers from Marketing to HR.  My new employer offered tuition reimbursement as a benefit.  It was my goal to go to graduate school.  I took advantage of that benefit and went back to school to earn a Master’s in Organizational Management.  The degree cost me about $2,000 and my employer paid for the rest.

Volunteering

Prior to getting married, my wife did a great deal of volunteering.  She did mission work in China where she volunteered to teach English to children in orphanages.  After we were married, she has shifted her efforts to volunteer more at her church.  She has inspired me to be more community focused.  I have become active in helping teach career and interview skills to young people who are developmentally delayed at The Arc of Luzerne County.  We also volunteer together and have taken on a commitment to pick up roadside litter as part of an Adopt-A-Highway project.

 

(Actual Photo of us wearing matching shirts)

Travel

It has not been all work since we have been married.  We have gone on many nice trips.  Here are some of the places we have visited:

San Francisco, Ca (honeymoon)

Tampa, FL

Las Vegas, NV

Miami, FL

Key West, FL

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Bermuda

Charleston, SC

Burlington, VT

Ocean City, MD

Washington D.C.

OBX, NC

Asheville, NC

Virginia Beach, VA

Quebec City, Canada

London, England

Paris, France

Our Relationship

My wife is my best friend.  She is also the kindest person who I have ever met.  Our relationship is based on trust, honesty, respect, and communication.  We are not perfect, but we try to be good to each other and to be considerate.  I am not going to lie, it has been easy.  I would not change one thing about her and would marry her again.

Conclusion

Looking back, it has been a great 10 years since we have gotten married.  Moving forward, we are planning on doing more of what has gotten us to this point.  Our goal is to retire in about 11 years, so we need to continue to work hard, save, and invest.  Life is short, so we are also going to continue to travel and enjoy every day we have together.

Saving $100,000 by age 30

Saving my first one hundred thousand dollars was the hardest.  When I started on the road to financial independence (FI), I was only 20 years old.  I wanted financial independence and reaching my first $100K was the first goal that I set.  I was aware that it was a lofty goal, but I embraced the challenge.  I wanted to reach this milestone by age 30.  On my way to reaching this goal, here is what I did:

Work

I had to land a job and start earning money.  When I looked for a job, my options were limited.  I did not have a college degree yet.  The economy where I lived was not great.  My options were a factory job, construction, or working in the food industry.  I selected working on an assembly line in a mattress factory.  There was nothing glamorous about the job.  It paid a decent hourly wage for unskilled labor.  It was a means to an end, so I was grateful to have it.

Learning to Save

To reach my goal of building a net worth of $100K by the age of 30, I had to save.  Saving came easy to me.  I was working hard for the paycheck and did not want to waste the money.  Every month, I would put at least $500 away towards my long-term goal.  I also put additional money away for vacations, car expenses, and costs associated with college.

Investing

I had to learn how to invest the money that I was saving.  It was the year 1997.  It seemed as if growth and technology stocks were soaring to new market highs daily.  There were often commercials on television advertising new day-trading platforms.  I was fortunate to have read a few books that taught me to stay away from such speculative approaches.  I learned to invest in mutual funds that tracked indexes such as the S&P 500.

I needed to earn 8% on my investments based on my savings and time horizon.  Historically, the stock market earned 10%.  I was confident in the information that I read.  I dollar cost averaged money into my investment account every month.  I ignored the market volatility and just kept moving forward.

Education

Getting a good college education was important to me.  I knew going to college would help me to learn skills that would put me in a better position to earn a larger salary.  College was, however, a financial challenge to manage on my path to reaching $100K by age 30.  I did not want to incur a large student loan balance.  To avoid that, I took 60 credits at the local community college.  I paid cash for those credits.  That allowed me to incur only $18K in student loans for the additional 60 credits I needed to complete my BS degree.

Conclusion

Yes, I did reach the first goal on my journey to financial independence.  By age 30, I saved almost $120K.  The only debt I had was my student loan of $18K, so that left me with a net worth of over $100K.

Looking back, I did put a great deal of pressure on myself to reach this goal because my salary never exceeded $30K per year during this period.  It was, however, worth it.  It set me up with a solid foundation to build upon towards my next goal of a $1M net worth.

Yes, my 20s were productive, but I also had a great time.  I went on nice vacations, went out with my friends, and dated the girl who later became my wife.  I would not go back and change it if I could.