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Old 06-14-2012, 01:26 AM
Location: DC Metro
20 posts, read 61,424 times
Reputation: 61


Originally Posted by michgc View Post
Most people afford this area by having two incomes. Until that time, starting out, many single people live with roommates. That helps keep expenses down. It's usually not until several years later of saving and moving up the ladder income-wise that one can afford to buy a home around DC. $50K for one person starting out is adequate, but it's way too low to support two people well around DC.
Thank you. I figured that's what most people do. I'm not from around here so I'm still getting used to different aspects of the area, mostly prices.
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Old 06-14-2012, 03:34 AM
588 posts, read 1,201,641 times
Reputation: 593
I am a little bit confused about a few things, but I'll do my best to respond.

First, $50K is an excellent salary for a 20-year-old. I didn't make that until after I had 10 years of experience and a Master's Degree.

Second, I'm confused about where that $50K is going. Your boyfriend's commuting costs must be extremely high, or the money you are giving the mom must be extensive, if you are spending all of that salary on the expenses you noted. He must be pulling in a few thousand dollars per month. Where is all of the money going?

Third, I agree that purchasing property at your age is extremely unusual and isn't something that most people in the DC area expect to do. Is it impossible? Of course not. Is it common? Not at all.

Fourth, to answer your original question about how young people do it... they don't easily do it. It is quite common in this area for young adults to live with parents and/or grandparents for several years past high school graduation. It isn't even that uncommon to stay with Mom/Dad until age 25 or 30.
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:49 AM
421 posts, read 821,105 times
Reputation: 417
There is no way a 2008 car, one that likely is out of warranty and has a loan, thereby needing full coverage, is better than an older paid for car. You could throw a couple hundred dollars at it several times a year and still be better off than having a car payment. Also, the mere suggestion that in this housing market, you would think owning property is a good investment tells me that while you will listen to a car salesman or a realtor but not an adult who has nothing to gain from lying to you. You are in for a big let down. This poster doesn't want the truth, she wants someone to tell her how to reap the benefits of being 60 while she's still 20. Sweetheart, if and when you find that big secret to success @ 20, patent and sell it. Wait, maybe that's the secret. Sell some whosawjohn to other gullible 20 somethings.
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:20 AM
144 posts, read 296,058 times
Reputation: 82
I will try to be constructive and give some good advice... most people your age around this area do the roommate thing to live here. Hell, most of the places I have worked the people in their late 20's and early 30's are still doing the roommate thing to live here. Because you're both 20, you shouldn't be expecting to make tons of money... just because you have a degree, you do not have the work experience. Most employers want work experience and the degrees. Yes, the market price for the particular job is probably more but that is also assuming more years of on the job experience. In my field, if you want to make 75k or more you need at least 3-5 years of work experience with the degree. I work in the IT field and espeically in this area, you are competing with a HUGE pool of experienced people and most with advanced master's degrees and certifications. If you want the big bucks you really need to have the credentials to back it up.

Now, to speak on another subject which I have a lot of experience with ... I'll give you some friendly non solicited advice. I too was engaged to a guy when I was 19 and got married when I was 20. It sounded like a great idea at the time and I thought I loved the guy and he was the one for me. Three years later I was in divorce court... I'm not saying every situation is the same but now that I'm in my 30's I look back and think what the hell was I thinking? At 20 you think you know who you are and you think you're all grown up and you think to hell with what the other people are saying (I know cause I thought that way). But, you aren't really who you will be yet and I personally think people should not get married that young. I can say that because I did it and it didn't work out.

You probably won't take my advice and you will probably think who the hell is this stranger on the internet to tell me that... but like I said just friendly unsolicited advice from someone who has been there done that. You may get lucky and this will be the person you spend the next 50 years with but odds are against it. People change a lot between 20 and 30.

I think kids today rush into marriage and don't really take the time in their 20's to have fun and just enjoy being an adult. I also think people use the "well if it doesn't work out I'll just get a divorce" attitude. Marriage should not be looked at like a convienience tool. You need to figure out what the real world is about without having to deal with the responsibilities of marriage, finances, home ownership etc... I mean you're coming straight out of living with your parents to full on marriage? That is a huge step and is quite a culture shock.

Good luck in all your endeavors.
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:43 AM
97 posts, read 162,903 times
Reputation: 129
JBennett, don't let the condescending and unhelpful posts bother you. These are likely people who've enjoyed little success, independence, and/or happiness in their lives and are just projecting their misery on you. It's them, not you. And sadly, you're going to run into people like this for the rest of your life. You've already identified a very ubiquitous myth: Everyone struggles or has to struggle in their 20s. It just isn't true.

As far as your fiance and being underpaid, sometimes that's just the way it is, and age has something to do with it sometimes unfortunately. He can ask why his salary isn't equal to his co-workers. Maybe he has vital areas that need improving? Maybe he's just too young? Depending on the answers he gets, he can either improve his deficiencies (we all have them), find a new job or live with it. It's really that simple.

Now the money thing...

If you've got $40K in the bank, find a place to rent now and use some of that money. Start building up your confidence and independence now. You're obviously ambitious enough, now you have to start. Move out. Jump. Sign a lease for a $1500/mo. apartment in Herndon or Sterling. You'll get a nice place for that kind of money and your fiance will have an hour commute each way. With his $50K and your savings, you'll be able to swing it no problem. Then when you get back on your feet, you can find something and your savings will start to grow again.

Don't worry about buying now. Seriously. Us wise adults did enough damage to the real estate market and process in the past decade to ensure that young people like you have a really difficult time trying to buy. Plus, renting may be cheaper in the long run. Housing prices are unpredictable and you could be throwing money away there too. For example, I lost $20K on a nice home we bought in Ashburn in 2008 and sold in 2011. Couple that loss with the exorbitant interest we paid, and we *lost* about $80K in 3 years. This doesn't even touch the improvements we made on the house during that time.

On another semi-related note: In my nearly 20 years as an adult, I've emptied a sizable savings account twice, TWICE, to live how I wanted when times were a little tough and I've managed to make it all back and then some. Don't be afraid of doing that if it means your lifestyle makes you feel good about yourself. When you feel good about yourself, your work flourishes and you will succeed. There's nothing more important in life than health. But a close second is peace of mind.

Last edited by KenInMA; 06-14-2012 at 05:54 AM..
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:47 AM
269 posts, read 342,359 times
Reputation: 208
Most young people around here 25-30 in my opinion that are doing well either have a degree, military experience that is relatable to a career field or a Top Secret clearance+ or a mix of all of them. When I got out post 9/11 I was making ~70K with some IT certs and direct relatable military experience. I even thought that was low, I often wondered at age 26 why my colleagues were making ~100K and I wasn't....they had the tickets and the experience. It wasn't long after that I surpassed many of them when I finished my degree.

Fast forward, 27 my wife and I bought our first house making 140K gross together and the house was just over 500K.

My advice, chill out, enjoy your youth and spend wisely! Save save save, if you are home not working start reading investing/financial literature. Financial intelligence around here is paramount to comfortable living. One thing I learned is the earlier you can be smart with your money, the better off you will be down the road.
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Old 06-14-2012, 05:50 AM
Location: Aldie, VA
199 posts, read 603,247 times
Reputation: 92
Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
He works for a subcontracting company, so his boss doesn't determine how much he makes, the other company does.
This is an inaccurate statement. Usually the subcontracting company has negotiated rates for the positions when the subcontract agreement is signed. These rates are not dependent on the person they hire. Sure there may be different levels or positions that have different rates with different requirements, but the same positions are most likely paid the same by the prime. So if two people are in the same position making different amounts, the sub is most likely keeping the difference as profit. It may be that without a degree, the sub can't actually bill him at one of the hirer rates, and the sub requires a certain profit margin on their employees, otherwise why would they be in business?

If he thinks he is worth more in the market, then he should look around for other jobs willing to pay him more. And when people ask him his salary requirements, state them correctly. Having a job now allows him to be in the position to ask whatever he wants, if they decline, no big deal he still has a job. Depending on the field, you sometimes get your biggest increases by changing companies. Although he should be careful not to do this too often, as that can look bad.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:30 AM
10,606 posts, read 12,134,907 times
Reputation: 6500
I'll try to answer as best I can!!

First, I want you to be realistic about the home buying experience. The real-estate-as-short-term-investment time is OVER for at least now. I have watched several of my younger friends get into some serious trouble with this thinking and one is now walking away from his home. Like you, they wanted a fixer upper that they could invest money in and sell in 3-4 years. Didn't happen, the house is now way underwater.

The good news is that homes are no longer super-inflated in price. If you did buy a home you can at least expect not to lose your investment due to declining prices. However, the ability to make profits in a short time are gone. Expect to live in whatever you buy for AT LEAST 5 years to break even. As you probably know, when you move in you will pay closing costs. When you move out, you'll probably pay a realtor commission. It takes time to not only have your home appreciate but to appreciate enough to pay off your loan and pay the associated fees.

Don't think of renting as throwing away your money. That might be true in a hyper-inflated real estate market but it's not really that big of a deal in today's economy. Owning a home is expensive. I make good money but the home upkeep sometimes even takes my breath away. It's VERY expensive to fix even minor things. Right now I've got ailing windows, a driveway that's falling apart, a deck that's falling apart, kitchen cabinets on their last leg, the need to update my bathroom tile. I'm probably looking at $30,000 worth of repairs.

As to your fiance: I used to work for contractors and, what he has heard is true. Once you get put in a category, it is very hard to get any big raises. He will most likely have to leave his company to get a decent pay raise. I came into one of my companyies as a junior person and within 2 years I was doing very well--almost as good as some more experienced people. I was offered a job at another company making 30% more. I loved my company and didn't want to leave. I told them of my offer and they said the best they could give me was a 10% raise to keep me but they were constrained by the limits of how to bump people up to new categories or just give whatever raise they wanted. I went to the new company, got my big raise, hated the company. I called my old boss and told him I wanted to come back, whatever it took. I was then treated like a "new" employee, brought back in under a different category, and got to keep my 30% increase.

I later worked at the higher levels of a contracting company and there was very little we could do for current employees as far as really promoting them. We could bump someone of from a junior to a mid-grade but it took a big justification and proof that they had taken on much more work than they had initially started with. And I will say this: while your fiance may truly believe that he's as good as some that have been in the field for 10 years, most likely he isn't. I used to believe that too. I am in a field that probably takes a good 5 years to REALLY learn the job, the policies, etc. But when I was very junior, people liked me, I got the job done and I was efficient. But I certainly did not have the breadth of knowledge I thought I did.

You fiance's lack of degree is really going to hurt him until he gets about 10 years of experience under his belt. Based on his short work history and lack of degree, I can tell you that if he works for a government contractor, they are quite unable to bid him for anything other than entry level positions. On all of the proposals I've worked on, it takes 5 years of relevent experience to trump a bachelor's degree--ANY bacherlor's degree. It takes a bachelor's degree plus 1 year of experience to bid a junior analyst.

$50,000 is hard to live on in this area. My best friend's daughter did it, initially, on $45,000. She got a roommate and paid $800 rent. She did not have a car payment or student loan debt and she moved close to her job at the Pentagon to take advantage of some cheap transportation (Arlington Connector Bus). I doubt she could have afforded to commute from the Stafford area. Gas and parking would have eaten up her salary.

The animals can be a huge expense. I won't tell you to get rid of them because I love my dog dearly and would NEVER do it. But, no, with four pets, you need to make more money. Especially as they age.

My advice to you is that this is going to take some time.

Your fiance should pursue getting his degree and checking to see if his company will pay for it. Most do. If not, move to another company and look for a salary bump up. If you can't, then find a company that will foot the bill for his college tuition. This is probably really holding him back.

You, in turn, need to find some work. I've been on Craigslist helping my 20 year old daughter try to find a job (she is only looking for temporary work) and I know it's hard. But you seem very articulate, focused, and mature for your age and I think you should be able to find something. I think you will find great relief and more hope if you can bring in another income.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:31 AM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,083,711 times
Reputation: 6825
I didn't buy a house around here until I was in my mid-30s even though my spouse and I both had prety good jobs. Rents were pretty reasonable back when I was your age relative to the cost of owning and we didn't want to have long commutes or live in a sub-par area so we waited.
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Old 06-14-2012, 06:46 AM
Location: Northern Virginia
4,489 posts, read 9,579,167 times
Reputation: 3656
How did we afford it? We both worked full time. I don't know how anyone makes it on one salary until that one salary is 6 figures. We both went to college and chose in-demand degrees that allowed us each to start at over $55k. Then, we created excel spreadsheets like mad creating budgets and figuring out what we could afford.

Our first year out of school we each lived separately with roommates. We paid around $700/each for the pleasure of sharing houses or apartments with multiple other people. That allowed us to save up for the wedding though. It also gave us a really good idea of our expenses and necessities vs. luxuries.

The next summer we got married, and we moved into an apartment that cost around $1500/month. We had gotten slight pay raises that year, and were no longer saving for a wedding, so we felt like we had a lot of extra money all of a sudden. We ended up renting a total of 5 years before buying, and I'm SO GLAD we did. Renting isn't throwing money away--it's paying for a roof over your head. We rented an apartment and a house before buying our current house, and we learned so much in the process. It was a gradual transition towards being on our own.

I'm also glad that we didn't try to buy a place before we were married. It's a big stress, and it's not something I would have wanted to throw into our relationship before we had really solidified the base of our marriage. We were married 3.5 years when we bought our place, and I said to my husband several times during the process that if we were dating or engaged at the time, that would have been the end of our relationship.

If your fiance really thinks he's undervalued, have him interview elsewhere and see what kind of offers he can get. Otherwise, accept that he is being paid what the market values him at until he gets a degree, certifications, experience, etc.
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