My name is Matt. Lacking Cents is the financial journey that started with me graduating from college in 2007 as a wide-eyed, single Millennial starting his first professional job. What followed are the highs and lows of adulthood, and many lessons learned along the way.
Married in 2011. Buying our first house in 2012. Renovating that house. Traveling the country without breaking the bank. Having our first child in 2014. Saving to send our kids to private school one day. Paying off over $50,000 in student loans by 2016. Having our second child in 2017. Saving for retirement. And always planning for the unknown in between.
It was right around the time we paid off our last student loan that I decided I wanted to start documenting our financial journey (almost like a victory lap!) The road to this point was long, but the feeling of paying off debt made the trip well worth it. My wife and I have learned lessons along the way, and I want to share those and future experiences with others — especially fellow Millennials.
Personal Finance is Fun!
There, I said it. Personal finance is fun. All it takes is a little bit of attention to be well on your way to financial success. When I found the fun in managing our expenses and setting goals, I wondered why it took so long to get to this point. Now I am excited to share my family’s experiences.
Here’s an example. Last year my wife and I enjoyed a week long vacation in Hawaii for very cheap. It was perhaps the greatest vacation either of us has ever taken in our lives. The trip was the result of lots of advanced budgeting…and perhaps a reward to ourselves for paying off the last of our student loans.
In additional to lots of planning to make the trip work financially, we did lots of research and about 18 months of planning to make the trip very inexpensive by using credit card points and reward dollars for airfare and Airbnbs. We determined that our regular monthly spending was enough to earn the 50,000 bonus miles offered by the American Airlines credit card, and each applied for a card. Airfare to Hawaii — check! Meanwhile, we utilized cash rewards credit cards like Discover It and Chase Freedom to accumulate lots of $ rewards. Lodging in Hawaii — check!
We ended up paying for a rental car, food and entertainment in Hawaii. But with additional time, we could have accumulated more cash rewards to cover even more. In the end, it was a week-long vacation to Oahu and Maui for $1,465.
So where am I going with this? The point is — taking control of our finances and educating ourselves about money allowed us to pay down a major debt and still celebrate with a fairly extravagant vacation. It was made possible by budgeting, maintaining strong credit, and adhering to a plan.
Come along with me and my family as we embark on this financial journey.