Most of our married life, we’ve lived on a shoestring budget. Chris had a full-time job where he earned an acceptable, yet lower than average salary. I worked part-time and received a very small salary for the first six years of our marriage.
When it came to debt, we had a school loan as well as a car payment and after those monthly payments plus our rent, utilities and insurance, there really wasn’t much leftover. While I don’t want to say we were living pay check to pay check, things were definitely really tight. We were shopping sales, using coupons and hardly eating out. We didn’t really go on many trips, we were driving my old car from college and we certainly weren’t buying anything designer.
We learned really quickly that we had to be smart with our money if we wanted a little bit left over at the end of the month for some “fun” money, as we would call it.
It was really hard to save in those early years together because after all the bills and living expenses, there just wasn’t much leftover.
But we had big dreams and goals.
One of those was to buy a home before we had a family. I can remember I started a part-time job selling candles with the sole intention of doing it short-term until we had enough money for our first down payment. Within nine months we had managed to save up enough and were finally in a position where we could buy our first home! Within a year of setting that goal, we were settling into our new home.
It was an amazing feeling, considering how little we were making, to see that through saving and being smart with our money, we could actually afford to purchase a home and check off one of our big life goals!
Another goal we always had was to travel. We got a couple opportunities in those first 10 years of marriage to travel…all of them being either crazy, last minute deals or travelling with our families where we didn’t have to pay for much. It was hard because we would see so many of our friends going to luxurious places and while it felt like the perfect time to be travelling because we didn’t have children yet, we just couldn’t justify the expense. And any extra money we had, we were saving towards that down payment on our first home, so there really was nothing left.
I really wish that during that time I had known about Manulife Bank’s Advantage Account, which is a combined chequing and savings account that acts like a chequing account but earns interest like a savings account. Right now you can earn 2.4% interest on every dollar and have unlimited transactions when your balance is over $1,000. It’s an amazing digital bank that you can access across the country with over 3,700 ABM’s making banking easy and accessible. I can’t help but wonder if we would have been able to get to some of those goals like our first home and more travel sooner had we had a higher interest chequing account.
Fast forward to this last year where I’ve been able to turn this blog into a full-time income and for the first time, earning more than my husband! It’s been incredible to see the tides shift a bit in our financial situation where we have gone from what often felt like we could never really afford much to now being able to loosen those purse strings and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
That second goal of travelling to one of our dream destinations finally came true this last October when we took a 10-day trip to Paris, France! We had been dreaming about visiting Paris for years but just never thought we could afford it. I can remember we started talking about maybe taking a trip, as we had never really left the kids longer than overnight before, and our first destination we considered was New York City, another favourite of ours. And jokingly I said, “Why don’t we go to Paris!” Chris looked at me with bewildered eyes wondering if I was serious or crazy and it wasn’t long after that we realized, “Hey wait a minute…what if we ACTUALLY went to Paris!”
We hopped onto our online banking and realized that we could actually afford to go. We had been saving and earning lots of interest and because of that, travelling across the world was finally a possibility!
It almost goes without saying that our trip was one of the best trips of life! We ate, we walked, we experienced all things French and it was magnifique! I still look back at pictures and think how truly fortunate we were to be able to go on a trip like that. But at the end of the day, it all came down to planning, budgeting and saving to make our dream a reality. Having an account like the Advantage from Manulife just makes it happen that much faster with the high interest rates!
So what about you? What are your dreams and goals? Are you trying to save for your first home? Or perhaps that trip around the world? What steps are you putting into place now to make sure that dream becomes a reality? Let me know in the comments below!
Love & Blessings,
Note: This post was sponsored by Manulife. All thoughts and opinions are my own.