We are a fairly laid-back family with 2 toddlers. In 2013 we moved to the suburbs of Houston, TX, relocating from New Orleans, LA. We both work 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. Now, we need to be released from our cages and set free in the mountains! Since we are both scientists, we have been plotting our escape for almost two years now. Our goal is to retire from our office jobs and become stay-at-home parents in 2018 by the time our youngest enters first grade. This includes a relocation out of Houston to be closer to mountains, snow, hiking, and fishing.
The Mister and I met while we were still in grad school in our late 20s. Opposite attract, and while bonding over our mutual love for the outdoors, my calculating, type-A self, fell for my laid-back, country boy. 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 401k, before deciding to quit that job and pursue a graduate degree in geology. Going from making around $70k 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, taking the train or walking to school. After graduating a few years back, 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… its still my dream to teach.
Meanwhile, Mr. SSC grew up in the South, to a lower middle-class family with no sense of money. You can read about his lack of financial sense or training in his “bad decisions” posts… but needless to say, he never learned how to manage money. Grad student loans were greedily accepted to help enhance his lifestyle, buying microbrews instead of Pabst. When we met, I had a nice nest-egg, no student loans, and enough to put 20% down on our house and pay off his 5-figure credit card debt. It would take us years to pay off his 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 throw a wrench into retirement planning. We want to give our kids the best life possible, and we struggle with defining what “best life” means… we don’t want to raise voracious consumers, but nor do we want to be eating freeze-dried noodles every night for the rest of our lives.
We look forward to sharing our stories with you, and hearing about your stories and struggles!