70k in debt, aka how I started adulthood

I’ve already shared a quick version of my short time in adult hood here. Over time I’ll share a little more detail into a few specific time points for you to get an idea of who I am and what I’ve done (or attempted to screw up).

While I had had several financial influences in my life and had already made several decisions that would alter my personal finances for a decade to come, life as true adult began in 2011.

My life had seen a lot of changes. In June of 2011 I graduated from engineering school, married my wife shortly thereafter and started my first engineering role. Quite a month huh?

Our balance sheet didn’t look so hot at the time.

I graduated school with 55k in student loans, she had just recently bought a brand new car with no money down and we had just gotten married with probably no more than a few thousand dollars to our name. Whew that paints a pretty bad picture.

I consider myself a realistic optimist so was looking at the bright side. We were 22 and 21 and our first full year of adulthood we would bring in a little over 100k. The new car was a toyota corolla that would last us for years to come and I had spent my last internship listening to Dave Ramsey every day.

Add up all the debt and put a little value on the car (after all it was only a year old) and our net worth was about -54k. Think about that. Thats a negative sign followed by 5 digits.  Are you kidding me? This has financial bust written all over it.

My mindset at the time was all Dave Ramsey all the time. Spending was bad. Debt was bad. You know the drill. I thought the way to a rich life was by living a bare bones life. Lets call it like it is, I was a cheap a$$. I’d like to think I’ve changed but, frankly, I’m glad I was at the time. To get out of a hole that size I’d need to be that way for a bit.

The short of it: we were in heaps of debt, had some huge shovels, and were on a mission.

I’d break my strategery (use that word to impress your friends) down into three things:

  1. We lived on a budget (spoiler alert, we still do). It wasn’t the best budget but you gotta start somewhere.
  2. Generally the goal was to live off of one income (mine, the slightly higher one) and save every penny of my wife’s.
  3. Rather than make extra payments on our loans, I hoarded cash. I hoarded it like it was my job. When I had enough to pay off a loan I’d pay if off.

Its crazy to look back and really put some time into thinking about this stage of life. Things have changed a lot but without this time period we wouldn’t be where we are at today.


  1. FIwith2kids September 7, 2018
    • Robbie September 17, 2018

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