Here’s our story. We are a fairly laid-back family with 2 young kids. In 2013 we moved to the suburbs of Houston, TX, relocating from New Orleans, LA. We both worked in the petroleum industry as geologists. I realize geology isn’t a super common profession, so let me just tell you – most geologists do not adapt well to being locked up in an office 40+ hours a week for years on end. We hit that breaking point about 5 years into our careers and started looking for something better.
We stumbled upon some early retirement blogs, but soon realized that we didn’t necessarily want to retire, but rather create a Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC). To do that, I left megacorp for a different company and have been happy with my new company, people I work with, and work that I do for over 3.5 years now. My wife left megacorp a couple of years ago to follow her passion in teaching. The change in companies and careers opened up our schedule and began slowing down the crazy pace of the life we’d built for ourselves. This was our first step towards achieving our FFLC.
Our goal is to initiate our Lifestyle Change and become stay-at-home parents in May 2019 by the time our youngest enters first grade. This includes a relocation out of Houston to Canyon Lake, Texas to be closer to family, some actual hills/topography and a lake.
Mrs. SSC and I met during an internship at “megacorp” while we were still in grad school in our late 20s. Opposite attract, and while bonding over our mutual love for the outdoors, Mrs. SSC’s calculating, type-A self, fell for my laid-back, country boy style.
Mrs. SSC’s Background:
We have fairly diverse backgrounds. I grew up on the East Coast, living a nice middle-class lifestyle, the daughter of an engineer and teacher. And while we weren’t living in luxury, as far as I could tell – we were comfortable. Early on, my parents started teaching me about finances. I had an allowance, and had to cover any extra-curricular activities and buy my own clothing from that allowance. Anything extra, and I had to get a job. I learned to shop sales at a young age, given that I had the choice of spending all my money on one outfit or ten outfits. As a teenage girl – I definitely needed more than one! Through college I worked, taking extra courses to graduate a year early so that I could lessen my tuition and student loans. I worked for several years as an engineer in the Midwest, socking money away into my 401(k), before deciding to quit that job and pursue a graduate degree in geology. Going from making around $70k/yr to living on a grad student stipend of $1500/month was a challenge… and enlightening. In some ways, I found it freeing – life was simpler, and I even lost weight, since I wasn’t eating dinner out as often! I rarely used my car, instead taking the train or walking to school. After graduating, I landed a cushy job with a large petroleum company, as well as an underpaid teaching job. I had become engaged to Mr. SSC, and together we decided to take the office jobs, saying that perhaps I could become a teacher at some point down the road… After the O&G crash of 2014, I started looking for teaching jobs and left the industry when I landed a professor gig at a local University!
Mr. SSC’s Background:
Meanwhile, I grew up in the South, a middle child in a lower middle-class family with no sense of money. You can read about my lack of financial sense or training in my “bad decisions” posts, but needless to say, I never learned how to manage money. I was the best “saver” in my family, so I thought I was doing well financially. I had a job, a 401(k) at 23 yrs old, and even some emergency savings. However, I also racked up a lot of student loans since I covered school on my own, and I didn’t budget so I also ran up credit card debt. When I went back to grad school, it was the first time I wasn’t working full time and going to school full time. To subsidize my lost income, I greedily accepted more student loans and more credit card debt to help enhance my lifestyle. My student loans totaled about $64k and there was ~$16k of credit card debt to go along with that. Plus, I thought it would be a great idea to cash out my 401(k). Yep, I did that.
To contrast that, when we met, Mrs. SSC had a nice nest-egg, no student loans, and enough to put 20% down on our house and still pay off my high interest credit card credit card debt. It would take us years to pay off my student loans. But they are now non-existent!
Even with a common goal in mind, with our diverse financial backgrounds, there are constant financial struggles. From what I’ve experienced, most couples tend to disagree over money, so we hope with this blog to help at least a few couples see that they are not alone in their arguments. Also, we are realizing that young children can throw a wrench into retirement planning. We will have spent over $120k on daycare for the two of our kids by the time our youngest reaches first grade next fall. That’s almost $2k/month for about 5 years which is a lot of money that could be put towards investing instead of daycare. For perspective, our mortgage is $1900/month. We want to give our kids the best life possible, and we struggle with defining what “best life” means… For now we’ve defined it as a life where we have the freedom to be able to be stay at home parent(s) and enjoy the kids as much as possible before they turn into teenagers and eventually leave the house.
We look forward to sharing our stories with you, and hearing about your stories and struggles!
– The SSC’s