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BIO

Welcome to my blog!

I have a brief bio on my main page, but this one delves a little deeper into how we got to where we are today.

It starts with my parents, who raised me to be extremely financially sound. My mother grew up in an average middle class household, with financially savvy parents (who grew up in the depression, so were pretty darn frugal). My father grew up in poverty. This could go either way, but for him, it makes him frugal to the extreme. My father was also a first generation high school & college grad, and has always been very inspirational (I was raised with the mantra that you can do anything with a little hard work, and an education).

When I was born, my parents picked up and left the mid-west to settle in Silicon Valley, California. My dad had worked hard to get an engineering degree, and moved here because it's where the jobs were.

The Bay Area is an extremely unique area to grow up in. Though there is a lot of wealth to go around, I have always found the people to be extremely down to earth. People like my dad are a dime a dozen. Lots of rags to riches stories. Whether it's from Vietnam or India, or Kansas, the area is filled with people coming in search of a better life for their families.

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My parents raised me to be self-sufficient. They expected me to contribute heavily to my college and attend an affordable school (heck, no one was available to help them with their college expenses). I was always very independent, and didn't see the point of living under my parent's strict rules, once I settled into the local State college at about $2k per year (which was also probably the best college choice for my field). I moved out on my own the minute I turned 18. I didn't get much handed to me, and ended up footing most of my own college bills. Don't get me wrong, I always appreciated the help I got from my parents. I got a lot of emotional support, and things like hand-me-downs. I knew these were luxuries they didn't have.

As such, most my peers would say I worked too hard in college and my parents expected too much of me. I don't agree, at all. I always felt blessed that I had it much easier than them. I was just very independent.

Oh yes - and my parents taught me from a young age, that debt was a big no-no. Though they helped me get a credit card to establish credit, at 16, "debt" itself was not in my vocabulary. It was their way of teaching me to pay it off every month, etc. Invaluable! As such, to me, there were always better options than debt. Even when it comes to vehicles and education.

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I was lucky to meet my spouse when I was 18. It was a "love at first sight" thing and we were talking marriage within weeks. (I had no plans to settle down and marry, before I met him. Not exactly on my radar!). We did end up getting engaged 4-5 months after our first date. (Looking back, I think we were just both wise enough to realize that we had something very special).

Dh and I Were raised very similarly, and have always seen very eye-to-eye financially.

I would say that he is a little spoiled, but though his parents paid for his college 100% and they were all happy for him just to live at home, he worked very hard and saved just about every dime. This ended up being a substantial part of our down payment on our first home.

Though we met young, and knew we would marry some day, dh was intent on finishing college first. I didn't care so much, since a little help paying the bills would actually be nice, for me. But I happily waited, all the same.

We graduated college in 1999, and dh told me he wanted to buy a home before we married. I thought he was out of his mind!!! We live in an area with home prices that rival Manhattan. I lucked into a deal with roommates, through college, but even to rent a studio apartment on our own, was going to cost a small fortune.

Dh's family was from the area though, and they had all been buying small condos and making their way up the ranks, over time. In the end, we lucked out with a 3-bedroom condo for about $260k. IT was a steal, and with a sizable down payment, the monthly costs were cheaper than most any 2 bedroom apartment we could rent, anyway. He swayed me, and it was a smart choice.

We bought our condo and moved in together not long after graduating college. Our new salaries (we both went from $10k to $30k/each) were just huge windfalls to use - we were used to living on so little. We saved up very rapidly, and bought our condo with 20% down, in January of 2000. (Saving about 75% of our income, or 100% of our post college raise, in order to come up with the 20% down payment).

{When we combined our finances and bought a home, we just left it that we would live off of my income and save 100% of dh's income. Again, our wages were just a huge windfall after living on so little through college. We knew we'd want to ax the second income eventually when we had kids, so didn't want to get used to it}.

I then stipulated that we could plan the wedding once I passed the CPA exam. (I just had one final section to complete, the last 1/4th of the test). I guess I figured if dh wasn't in any hurry that was one thing I wanted to complete before saying "I Do." I passed the CPA exam in May 2000 and we married that September.

Our goal was to ride the equity wave up to a house. But we quickly became disillusioned with the plan. Any way we looked at it, we would be slave to our home, and we really wanted something more (a yard? A garage? Our own walls?)

SO, we ended up packing up and moving to Sacramento. At the time, we had a lot of friends with kids who had moved up here. We were able to trade our condo for a luxury home about twice the size. The housing costs were about 1/3. Though we couldn't find anything decent for $500k back home, we were able to pick up a "million dollar home" for about $300k, in Sacramento.

We settled into a luxury/resort community. Boy, what a difference!!! We initially felt quite a culture shock, but I guess over time we have assimilated. The feel of the area has changed over the years, with the large influx of Southern California and Bay Area transplants.

We initially felt out of place in our new neighborhood, but with time have found that most of our neighbors are more "down to earth" and "frugal" than most other people we have met in the area. I suppose to be able to afford nice things, does take some frugality. Over the years I have found my broke friends turn up their noses at the idea of used cars and shopping thrift, while we can openly talk about these kinds of things to our neighbors. They understand. A lot of them have a lot bigger incomes, but we can still relate on more levels.

Again, it's such another unique place to live. So many of our neighbors either made the same move or are fairly well off. Many of our neighbors are young-retired. Most are self-employed, if not retired.

We actually moved here thinking we would have children in a few years, but life was so much more simple and low cost here, that we ended up deciding to have kids after just 6 months.

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Life hasn't been all rosy. We were originally going to sell our condo for a $100k premium, which would leave us with a $100k-ish mortgage on our current home. We didn't want to sell the condo much before 9/11 and the market temporarily tanked in the interim. We were lucky to sell it for a small profit (maybe a couple of thousand after all the fees and costs of two homes). In the interim, we owned two homes for almost 6 months.

We lost a fair amount of money in tech stocks during the tech bust.

We were fighting about who would stay home with the kids (I refused, but I don't think my dh believed me). He ended up getting laid off, and never did find a job up here. We never did anything but save my spouse's entire income (our wages were always rather equal) and so we rolled with the punches rather easily. I do feel that people think we are extraordinarily lucky. I will always respect luck in my life, but I also have to give credit to planning ahead and being prepared, to put us where we are at today. We have always tried to stay ahead of the curve, and are well aware that life rarely goes "As planned!"

In 2009, my spouse was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor, at 33. He had surgery to remove the offending tumor, and recovered very quickly (probably due to being so young and healthy, and also due to finding one of the best surgeons around). It is 2012 now, and I am just realizing the fact that my spouse will probably never qualify for disability insurance, life insurance, or health insurance again. Even though he is expected not to have any further complications from the tumor. Thank goodness we were wise enough to have all of our ducks in a row, so young. {We have GREAT health insurance, privately, and he has ample life insurance from his 20s - the life insurance was purchased when we had children}.

I guess that is why I often say, "Hope for the best; plan for the worst." That would describe us, pretty well.

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