After graduating from college with a masters degree at the age of 25, I was starting life with a clean slate. I had a little bit of savings in the bank that I was able to scrape together over the years. My “college fund” was a total of $6,000 and since I never had to use it, my parents gave it to me after graduating.
I had managed to save a few thousand dollars more over the years from my job waiting tables and bartending in college. So there I was at the age of 25 with no debt and a decent amount of money to start my life with.
If I could do it all over again there are definitely things I would do differently. Regardless, by my 30th birthday, we had managed to accumulate nearly $200,000 in debt. How did this happen?
First was the newer car “needed” since I had a better paying job and could afford it. That, of course, came with a five figure loan.
Next was planning for a wedding. This included purchasing an engagement ring and paying for our own wedding. In total this cost us somewhere between $20,000 and $25,000. We mostly paid with savings but it still set us back financially.
Along the way Mrs. FP made the decision to go back to school to get her teaching certificate. Once she graduated we were staring at almost $50,000 in student loan debt.
Then of course we needed a home to live in. We ended up purchasing my grandparents’ old house shortly after my grandmother passed away. It was purchased below market value though we still ended up with a $100,000 mortgage and a home that needed to be completely renovated.
And last but not least, we ended up buying a lake house with family. This also included buying a wave runner and chipping in to buy a boat. My parents paid for the down payment and for nearly 10 years we’ve split the monthly payments along with my two other brothers.
Looking back, there are some things we could have done differently to avoid debt. Though at the same time I do not regret any of these decisions. We like our home, our cars have had long lives, our wedding was memorable and one of the best times in our lives, the student debt allowed Mrs. FP to do something she loves, and some of our best family memories have been made at that lake house.
AS MUCH AS I HATE DEBT, IT HAS ALLOWED US TO BUILD A LIFE THAT I LOVE.
As a personal finance blogger who writes often about my dislike of debt, it can be easy to forget that debt is necessary at times to build the life that you want.