Today I had the opportunity to interview Nadia. Nadia has had some amazing accomplishments and lives a very interesting life. She has made some great choices and now is reaping the benefits. Let’s now get into the good stuff.
1. TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, AGE, FAMILY DEMOGRAPHICS, CAREER, INCOME.
Nadia, 29, married with no kids, husband 31. I was raised in a low-income single mom household. Dad did not provide much child support, although we had a good relationship nonetheless. He passed away when I was 21. My mom’s average income growing up was 21K-35K net, and she raised my younger sister and me. She always struggled to pay the bills but she busted her butt to scrimp and save every penny to be able to buy a 3 bedroom home for 100k in 1999 in a good neighborhood with a good school district to “keep us out of the ghetto”. She wasn’t able to provide all of our wants, but always provided all of our needs, while sacrificing her own. She is a graphic designer and chose to work freelance from home and be self-employed so we could come home from school to her, and not an empty house (where we could potentially get ourselves in trouble, with boys and such). This strategy of hers did work, and we were pretty straight edge kids growing, up. No sex, no drugs, no drinking, no smoking; despite her having a laissez-faire approach to parenting. We tried hard as children to be good because we knew how much she was sacrificing to give us a “good” life. I now am a Registered Nurse, making $110,000 for the past 3 years in my career, the first year of nursing I made $80,000. I lived at home with my mom until I saved up enough of a down payment for a house, which was $65,000. At which time, I moved out and bought a beautiful home in my name; and my fiancé, now husband, moved in with me. Household income now is $220,000, we are both ER nurses. I bought my house age 27, and we have been here for 26 months. Now we both put 18% into our retirement with a 3% match from our employer. This % has been up and down depending on what we are paying for that year (wedding, car) but 2018 we are fully funding our retirement plus paying the $5,500 towards our Roth IRA.
2. YOU SAVED SO MUCH AT A YOUNG AGE! HOW HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED THIS?
I have always been a saver. Everyone has known me to have the money or be able to do stuff without saying “no I can’t afford that.” The difference is I pick and choose what I want to spend my money on. I don’t buy fancy makeup, fancy handbags, new gadgets, or sign up for promos with terms like I often see my friends doing. I don’t have a lot of outgo or payments because of I have no debt. I saved up $10,000 in high school while working as a lifeguard for two summers, then I became a waitress from age 17-18 and saved up a bit more. I then sold cell phones for Verizon and it was a commission job, so at the time I was making more money than all of my college-going friends who were studying and some working part-time. I quickly realized they would surpass me socially and economically and I should probably figure out a career choice. So I went to my community college where I began taking business classes and declared myself a business major and I thought I would start a business with my dad. I was 20 years old when my dad became sick with Leukemia. I spent six months with him in the hospital and at this time I had about 18k saved up. I was thankful for this because seeing my savings grow to this amount encouraged me to keep it going and keep the momentum. I decided at this point I was going to change my major to nursing because I fell in love with how all the nurses were treating my dad, and how they made him feel better at the worst/hardest point in his life. He was so proud of me. My science prerequisites took two years and my general education took 1.5 years, and the nursing program was a 2-year program. During school, I worked full-time night shift as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). I graduated May 2013. I took a little longer than some to complete college because I worked full time, 40+hours. Because of my mother’s income and my income, depending on who would claim me that year, I qualified for the BOG, so my school tuition was paid for, and I cash-flowed the books, gas and other school supplies. My nursing program was $7,000 out of pocket for me; again, tuition was covered due to mom’s low income. When I became a nurse I chose to still live at home (same house) with my mom because my setup was so convenient, while all of my friends were living on their own. It became more of a roommate situation since at this point we were both adults, and she started charging me $500 rent and all groceries, so she didn’t feel taken advantage of. I was happy to do so. I also gave her my very first nursing paycheck, about $1,700 which she felt was a blessing and a very sweet gesture. This is when I began really saving up some cash. Meanwhile, during this time I was vacationing a lot since I had the money and the 3 days/wk work schedule to allow me to do so. I treated my mom to a lavish trip to New York, I went to Oahu, Kauai and Maui, multiple Mexican cruises and New Orleans, all before I bought my house. Oh, I forgot I cash-flowed my senior graduation trip to the Bahamas when I was 18, for $3,000 myself, because my parents refused to pay for it.
3. WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF FRUGAL?
I have always been known to be frugal. I just spend my money on what is important to me, school and trips/memories, rather than tangible miscellaneous items that will become clutter later. I have also mastered the art of delayed gratification, for example, if I do want something nice such as a snowboard, a new laptop, a GoPro, I just put it on my Christmas list and ask for it then.
4. DO YOU FOLLOW EXACTLY WHAT DAVE RAMSEY SUGGESTS?
I have followed Dave since I was 16. I have never had a credit card in my life. I went to a community college for school. I have never had any consumer debt. I bought my home on a 15 year fixed rate and put down 20%. We put into our retirement and we kept our finances completely separate until we got married. Now everything goes into one pot. We have life insurance policies as he suggests also, as well as everything set up in a defined will. I was given a car when I was 16 by my dad, it was an old 280 Mercedes, but it got me around, and I drove it into the ground. Towards the end of its life, I was putting water in it twice a day to get it to drive me to and from work. I was a nurse at this point, making great money, and everyone was joking about me not buying a new car, but I thought, hey, besides the inconvenience of lifting the hood and adding water, it’s still a good car. It wasn’t until it was actually breaking down on the side of the road, frequently, that I decided to buy a new (used) car. This is where I went against Dave’s advice. Because I was saving up for a down payment on a house, I didn’t want to dip into my savings to buy with cash a $30,000 car. So I put down 10,000 on a beautiful used 2013 A4 Audi. I spent months looking for the perfect car with all the features I wanted, two tones black and beige leather interior and the perfect deal. I financed $19,000 on a 3-year note with 1.99% interest through my credit union. That debt adventure only lasted 11 months then I decided to pay off my car because I felt so guilty having debt. Even with little to no interest. The $500 payment was just making it so hard for me to see my savings grow, it wasn’t worth it to me. I paid it off before the one year was up.
5. WHAT WOULD BE THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE IN THEIR 20’s?
The advice I would give anyone in their 20’s is that Dave’s advice works. I am no different than the millions of Dave followers who are changing their lives and the lives around them. I was just lucky enough to have come across his principles at a young age, and follow them to a T. I don’t remember how I came across the Total Money Makeover book, but that is what I recommend to anyone who wants to get back on track. I always buy the book for friends and married couples as well. I recommend saving as much as you can, look at your savings as $5,000 increment’s and just keep putting it away. I also recommend starting to put into retirement on day one of your career. I wish I started earlier, I have only been putting into my retirement for three years, and now looking at compounded interest, the two years earlier would have been beneficial. I recommend sacrificing now, so later you don’t have to. Such as a fun living situation, a shiny new car, or the pretty University you think you want to attend. In ten years none of that will matter or be worth it. It will just set you back and create debt you have to pay off later with insane compounded interest working against you instead of for you.
6. DID OR DO YOU MAKE ANY SACRIFICES TO REACH YOUR CURRENT ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Again, the car was definitely a sacrifice, because it would have been so easy to go down and get a new car with my new paychecks, but I chose not to, even when my friends and coworkers kept mentioning how much money I make and how I can easily afford any car I wanted. Living with my mom was also a sacrifice because I was a young woman and I wanted to do young adult things, such as have parties, sleepovers with my boyfriend, and decorate and paint something of my own. But I held off, knowing I was in a good place and saving money for a beautiful home that I would have soon enough. I sacrificed the “college experience” by living at home and going to a frugal community college while all of my friends were at fancy and expensive party schools and racking up $90,000 student loan debt. Thankfully, I had enough money and freedom to be able to drive to their college campuses frequently, and still have the college experience on important weekends, without having to pay the pretty penny for it, just a $30 tank of gas, instead. They all gave me crap but looking at our lives now, 12 years after high school graduation, they are hitting themselves for not only making the decisions they did but for making fun of me for my choices and journey.
7. DO YOU FEEL DEPRIVED OF ANYTHING WHILE SAVING SO MUCH?
I never felt deprived of anything throughout my journey, in fact, quite the opposite. I always had more than enough. I was able to help my mom when she needed help financially and I was able to bless my sister and my mom with nice vacations, which was always more important to me than whatever other people spent their entire paychecks on. I truly don’t know.
8. WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT FINANCIAL GOALS?
This is a fun question. Since I do annual financial goals so last month I really sat down and thought about my 2018 goals and wrote them down, and frequently look at them and speak to my husband about them.
My 2018 financial and non-financial written goals are:
- Lose weight to 122
- Save $60,000 in Bank Of America account
- Keep paying $1,700 extra on mortgage monthly
- Take one more large overseas trip
- Graduate with my BSN
- Get pregnant
- Save $100,000 in retirement
Currently as of Jan 2018:
- Current weight 136
- Current Bank Of America savings $18,000
- Current extra on house $700/mo
- No trip planned
- Middle of BSN program, graduate in December
- Not pregnant
- Savings in Retirement Nadia – $64,700, Dan- $97,000
To explain a few things about my goals and current situation and some of the large purchases we have cash-flowed in the past 3 years: Out of the Bank Of America account, we just paid for our wedding ourselves, which was $34,000 cash.
- Out of the Bank Of America account, we just paid for our wedding ourselves, which was $34,000 cash.
- Our rings, mainly mine, $14,000 cash.
- $10,000 to furnish the entire home.
- My car, $29,000 cash (2015)
- My husband’s Toyota Tacoma, $34,000 now paid off (he financed it when we were dating, the same month I bought my car, we finished paying it off when we got married.)
- $65,000 down payment on a house.
- I am currently in an RN-BSN program paying $3,400- $5,700 per semester, 3 semesters online program.
- Lots and lots of vacations in between, including a 20 day trip to Australia with my girlfriends and a 16 day, $5,000 honeymoon to Thailand, and probably a dozen Vegas trips, plus the vacations listed above. We just got back from a 5-day snowboarding trip at Lake Tahoe with 9 of our work friends, last week.
9. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE IN DEBT/ OR WORKING TO PAY IT OFF?
The advice I have for someone in debt is to stay true to the plan, it has worked for so many before you. Rice and beans, sell stuff, work overtime, and follow the baby steps closely. They work. I have seen many friends go through the Financial Peace program and it has changed their lives. Don’t try to change things or do anything out of order. Just follow the steps and give it 100%.
10. ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE TO INSPIRE OTHERS TO BE DIFFERENT?
If I say anything else I will feel like a broken record as well as stealing the phrases from other financial people who have paved the way for me. But live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else. This is SO true. I feel now like I have the financial freedom to bless others and to do whatever I want, as well as say YES to any opportunity that presents itself to me, without blinking at the money factor. Now if an “emergency happens” it’s no longer an emergency, it’s just life. Did I ever feel deprived? No. Did I sacrifice? Yes. But I did so with the end in mind. I was ahead of the game by not having to dig myself out of debt like some, but I would advise anyone to get out of debt as quickly as possible and be the inspiration that many long for. Someone who gets out of debt will be much more inspiring and relatable than a 16-year-old who has never seen debt in her life.
1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK/ OR BLOG ON FINANCES?
I don’t read any blogs, but the financial books I read recently are The Total Money Makeover, Retire Inspired, Rich Dad Poor Dad, Business Boutique, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, The Millionaire Next Door, The Power of Habit, and Think and Grow Rich. And I visit these books often. I am currently reading Think like a Freak.
2. WHAT IS ONE THING THAT YOU CAN’T GIVE UP THAT IS PROBABLY NOT CONSIDERED FRUGAL?
The thing that I can’t give up that is not considered frugal is going out to restaurants and eating and drinking with friends. It’s our thing for sure. We are very social and love entertaining at our home, but we go out several nights a month and it adds up. Thankfully we have the money to do it, but I often times find myself waking up and thinking well last night wasn’t worth it. Just this week I sat down with my husband and we decided to cut back on going out, and instead get on a stricter budget for that. We are also going through Financial Peace University again on March 8 at our church. We often revisit our goals and talk about our future together. It keeps us on the same page and from going off track. When we have a vacation coming up we both pick up some overtime at work so we don’t dip into our savings too far.
3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LIFE HACK?
Some things we save on monthly. My all-time favorite life hack is shopping at Ross for basically all of my needs. TJ Maxx, Homegoods, and Ross are where I find most of my clothes, shoes, home décor, dishware, and gifts for friends. I am a very proud frugal shopper and this makes it fun, as well as a mini challenge. My groceries I buy all from Walmart and my makeup (E.l.f) and beauty supplies are also found there. I get my haircut at SuperCuts for $20 every six months. With clothes, I enjoy quantity over quality, and that is just my personal choice. I always look like I have cute new outfits, shoes, things around the house, and I am always proud to brag that I bought this for $7 or that for $13. When people ask about my beautiful hair or new haircut I giggle and say it’s from Super Cuts for $20 when they just paid $120 for cut and color, (EVERY SIX WEEKS!!!). I also ask for manicures and massages for things like birthday and Christmas because I love pampering myself, but I am frugal in that sense. Overall, I feel very blessed to have learned these principles early in life and that I have the diligence to see my future and I am able to prioritize that over my immediate wants and needs. I am able to find deals and look for sales for items I want because I am patient. I am thankful to have a partner who is on the same page as I am. We work together with everything in life. I frequently set goals that seem unobtainable to some, even sometimes to my husband, but to me, I am willing to work hard to accomplish something that may seem out of my reach. Funny thing is I always do.
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