My wife is an amazing person in many ways. Her ability to save money, live frugally, and enjoy life to the fullest is an everyday inspiration to me. She really exemplifies the simplest and most important rule of personal finance: earn more than you spend.
During this one year of high intensity debt repayment, my wife maximized her income, minimized her expenses, and saved, saved, saved! After I proposed to her, we decided that she would continue working (we didn’t live in the same state) until we got married.
At the time, she was working for a pharmaceutical company making around $60,000 a year. However, this income was supplemented by the fact that her company gave her a car, gas card, food allowance when travelling (she was away from her home 2 weeks a month), a laptop, and a cell phone. Additionally, she moved back with her parents in her old childhood room, so her housing costs dropped to zero. Because her costs dropped so low, she was able to save over 80% of her take home pay. She generally spent less than $300 a month for a year on clothes, going out to eat, and spending time with her family.
This intensity and focus on a financial goal cut our combined student debt in half, from $100,000 to $50,000 by the time we got married. She came into the marriage without a penny of debt to her name. I wish I could have done the same, but my expenses were higher and my income lower, so I’m still working on paying down my $60,000 worth of student loans I graduated with (now down to $40,000 after 2 years!).
My Top Three Recommendations for Achieving Financial Independence While You Serve
1. Bank with a military friendly bank, like USAA. I've been a proud member of USAA for 6 years now and have never had a better customer experience with any other bank. They charge no BS fees, refund ATM fees, and have the best auto insurance prices for military servicemembers.
2. Use a cashback credit card, like the Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard. How does a $440 sign up bonus, NO foreign transaction fees, and 2.2% cashback on every purchase sound? Read my review to see why I love this new card.
3. Track your growing investments using Personal Capital. In order to get where you want to go, you have to know where you are. Personal Capital is like Mint.com for investors. While Mint is good for tracking your expenses and getting out of debt, PC is good for seeing your wealth and investments accumulate and grow. Track your Roth TSP, Roth IRA, banking accounts, SDP, and the myriad of other accounts you have all in one place with Personal Capital. It's free and presents a beautiful graphical view of your financial situation. Join today to get the most complete picture of your finances. Read my full review here.