As of February 1, 2013, the Vander Valk family is debt free! Since we got engaged almost fourteen months ago we have paid off $25,000 in student loans, car loans, and hospital bills. We also, along with a generous portion from our parents, paid cash for our wedding in September. Honestly, it hasn’t been that hard. Not because either of us has an incredibly awesome salary or we’re super-cheap or we inherited a trust fund. It all comes down to… the B word. Budget.
In the fall of 2011 my now-husband and I had been dating for six months and knew by month two that we wanted to get married.
I was the kid who loved saving money. I’m sure I learned it from my parents, who, with a family of six, didn’t take expensive vacations or eat out very often and taught us the value of the dollar. They showed us that not every want is a need. I never ran out to spend the $25 my grandparents gave me for my birthday; I always deposited it in my bank account. When I got a good job in high school at a bookstore my parents’ only stipulation was that I work out a tithing-saving-spending ratio. No problem, and I came up with the 10-65-25 breakdown without any pressure from them. I wasn’t quick to buy a lot of clothes, go to the diner all the time with my friends, or buy my own car, but I had money for when I really wanted something. When I graduated high school at 17, I had that job for three years and had enough money saved to pay for 50% of a year of Cedarville University’s tuition, and my parents paid the other half. During my sophomore year of college my grandparents offered me their Toyota Camry at a deep discount and I had money saved to pay cash for it. (It’s still the best money I ever spent because I’m still driving it nine years later, it still runs great, and it gets almost 30 mpg!) I worked as a full-time student and always had a summer job. I got my bachelors degree coming in under the national average for student debt because I worked hard.
My husband grew up very differently than I did. My family cooked every night and visited my grandparents in Florida, he and his mom ate out every night unless there was a frozen dinner involved and traveled to Europe every other summer. Just a little different, right? When we started dating he loved taking me out and we ate out often and did other things as we fell in love. I also realized that R communicated his affection for me according for how he provided for me. And then I found out that he lived comfortably and didn’t have credit card debt, but didn’t have anything left over at the end of the month. The fact that his car payment was almost $400 a month almost made me choke to death. Commence the money arguments.