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Old 06-14-2012, 06:58 AM
81 posts, read 245,805 times
Reputation: 40


We want to have a house as well, but we are realistic in that it won't happen for some time...probably in our 30s. Right now I'm almost 24 and my husband 26, and we both are GS-5s. I used to work in the private sector for nearly the salary your fiance makes now, so I took a pay cut in order to be happy in my job. I at least have a ladder built into my job, so I will be back to my old salary eventually and can progress higher. My husband has to look around internally soon.

Instead of living in a "nice" apartment like we used to, we moved to an older garden apartment where the rent was at least $600 a month less, and had the utilities included as well as parking. Sure it is way smaller, you can't have pets, and there is no gym or pool like our old place; but we are able to place some money aside for emergency savings and a house.

We only have one car payment since I bought the car in college when I lived in a much cheaper COL area and could afford it, but that will be done in December. That is the one thing right now that is killing our budget, as I will admit it is around $500 a month . Other than that, we hardly eat out and make food at home for work. We take public transit so that we do not have to put wear and tear on the cars daily and pay for gas. Sure it takes me an hour longer to get to and from work, but that is the nature of the beast.

If we had to live on just one income, I don't know how we would make it unless one of us made what we both make now--and that is still pretty tight!
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:00 AM
Location: Censorshipville...
2,674 posts, read 6,237,402 times
Reputation: 1543
While I'm no longer in my 20s, I'll be 32 in a few weeks, I can still remember getting by at that age. I too didn't have a degree at 20 either and was making about 35k but I still managed to have an apartment on my own. It helped that I didn't have any debt, I knew how to cook and my utilities were minimal (ie no TV, no home phone, gym membership etc). I did that for about 2yrs, then moved back home for a year to save some money for a DP on a house. I bought a house with my brother at 23, when I was making about 50k. My half of the mortgage and utilities was less than what my apartment and utilities were costing me so that helped a lot. I'm still in that house and it should be paid of in about 13 yrs

I'd suggest you write down everything dollar you spend during the month and see where all your money is going. It might be eye opening to see where your money is being spent. Once you see a few months you can begin seeing a pattern and then decide where you can cut back. Try reading "Your Money or Your Life."

As far as being underpaid, well that happens more often than you think. One thing I learned was don't be afraid to ask for more money. During job interviews, I found the most stressful part was the salary negotiations. I could ace the skills question, but talking about money was always disconcerting. So I forced myself to always ask for more money than what I wanted or was offered. The worst that can be said was no and I was in the same position. Also don't worry what other people are making, worry about growing your skill set to make more money and not blowing it on fruitless spending.

The big secret is spending less than you earn. It's really that simple. Use credit wisely. Don't charge things on credit card unless you can pay them off at the end of the month. Don't finance things unless absolutely necessary, otherwise don't buy it unless you can pay in cash. Learn how to cook, you'd be amazed how much you can save if you don't go out to eat for lunch every day.

"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well you might find

You get what you need
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:14 AM
35,121 posts, read 39,987,519 times
Reputation: 62022
Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
You're being a bit quick to judge. I don't have Starbucks. I drink water all day. We go out for dinner maybe once a month. I've been doing my own hair and nails for the past five years, even when I had a job. The only vacations we go on are the ones we drive to when visiting my parents at their beach house which cost nothing but the gas to get there. My car is a 1999 Honda. I don't think that qualifies as a status vehicle. His was a 1997 Nissan until it got more expensive to keep repairing than to just get a new car. He now drives a 2008 Nissan which I also don't think qualifies as a status symbol either. It's a commuter car. The purse that I use was $20 in China Town from last year when I went to NYC to visit family and I don't own a single pair of shoes over $60 bucks.

I grew up in a very wealthy family, yet I live nothing like them. I don't ask them for money and I don't feel that I'm entitled to live a certain way. We're not trying to "have it all", we're trying to start a life for ourselves where we work hard for what we have and eventually somewhere down the line can enjoy the nicer things.

None of that had relevancy to the actual topic of my thread.
You don't "ask" them for money yet you stated in your original post that your family pays all of your expenses until you and this guy get married? No matter how you put it your family is still paying your way so it is time to cut the money apron strings from your family and either get married, get a job or both. Whatever "issues" you are dealing with need to be done so you can focus on getting a job and take over your own financial life instead of your parents still paying for everything.

If you think you are "adult and mature" enough to live with your boyfriend then you are "adult and mature" enough to get over your issues, get a job and start paying your own way.
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:20 AM
639 posts, read 1,148,076 times
Reputation: 207
Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
Hi all. My fiancé and I are both 20 years old and finding it pretty impossible to afford to live around here. He works in DC making about 50k and I'm currently taking care of other things in my life and do not have a job.

We are living with his mom in Stafford and desperately want to move out, but I just can't see how it's possible. We stick to a very strict monthly budget, but at the end of the month we end up saving very little. Between his commuting costs, car payment, insurance, food, pet bills, giving money to his mom, and unexpected expenses that always come up we're lucky to be saving a few hundred bucks. My parents are still paying for most of my expenses until we get married, so right now we don't have to worry about those thankfully.

He should be getting paid about 25k more than he is, but because of his age employers won't hire him for that despite the fact that he is doing the exact same job as the rest of his team. How do other people deal with this?

We would really like to buy a house because in our minds renting is just throwing money away. The fact that we have four pets doesn't help much either. Although I'm not from around here and don't particularly like the area we're looking to stayin stafford because we cant even come close to affording anything farther north. Despite being so far out of the city the area is still fairly expensive and the homes that aren't either double wides or uninhabitable tend to start at about $225k. How can anyone afford to pay this after taxes and utilities if they're making under 80k? To get anything cheaper would make his commute absolutely unbearable.

There must be other people in their early twenties who've been underpaid due to their age. How do you all afford to live around here? Is there some big secret we're missing?

It's no secret! It's called "slummin it."
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:23 AM
734 posts, read 1,728,352 times
Reputation: 762
Originally Posted by AmyinNOVA View Post
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.


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.

Well, here's one vote for getting married. Despite Amy's experiences, getting married "young" is a good idea. The idea that people are rushing into marriage when the age of marriage has been constantly rising- combined with long periods of cohabitation- is a bit discognizant. Similarly, taking the whole decade of the 20s to "have fun" is the exact opposite of "being an adult." For a sociologist's view, see Mark Regnerus -- Freedom to Marry Young

Anyway, as for your questions. It will be tough for a while. Renting will be the way to go until your fiance gains enough experience to make up for his lack of a degree (and until/if your health improves so you can substantially contribute to household income). My wife and I rented for 7 years after marriage before we were able to buy a place. While it was hard to see the money out the door with no equity being built up for that long, you do have to keep in mind that renting is less expensive overall than owning. To help build up a downpayment and savings, you can act as if you have a mortgage payment and "pay" the extra amount that property taxes, maintenance, mortgage insurance, and the like would cost into a savings account. In return you're creating your own equity.

Also, I want to commend you and your fiance for saving up nearly $40K. It seems like you have some sound financial instincts on the basics. Such habits are very useful when building a life together. However, as Christine and Ken warned, don't jump into housing thinking you can make a quick (2-3 year) profit just by buying and fixing up a place. Even if you beat the odds and can make a profit, it would likely not be a substantial amount of profit.

As for your fiance and his salary, fair or not, a degree starts you out on a different level than someone with a high school diploma. He will have to pay his dues in time to make up for the lack of a degree. He could, if time and finances permit, take some classes at NoVA and work on an associates degree, if that would bump him up faster. He should talk to his company to see what, if anything, would enable him to move up the pay scale faster. However, when he does so, he should make sure that he is not conveying that he is entitled to more money, but that he wants to earn his way up.

Good luck!
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:27 AM
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,738 posts, read 8,938,746 times
Reputation: 3857
Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
Hi all. My fiancé and I are both 20 years old and finding it pretty impossible to afford to live around here. He works in DC making about 50k and I'm currently taking care of other things in my life and do not have a job.
I'm not trying to sound mean, either--but this jumped out at me. It's almost impossible in the DC region to make it on one income, unless that income is $150K plus (or more, depending on location, which determines home price, which determines mortgage payment).

You can only control how much you spend and how much you bring in. If you're already keeping spending to a minimum, then you'll have to bring in more. Which means you most likely will have to find employment if you can do something that accommodates your health condition. (Can you work in an office? Even part-time?)

If you are unable to work due to a health condition, you probably qualify to claim Social Security Disability Insurance--in which case, you should. That's what it's there for.

Your fiancé could also try to renegotiate his salary. I would NOT suggest he take on a student loan to get whatever degree this other guy (who got paid more for the same work) has, because the interest will kill you. That said: You said your family is wealthy. Perhaps it might be worth asking them for a loan with which to finance his (or even your) education--if it will definitely pay off with a higher salary.

Best of luck.

PS: If it's any consolation, I didn't make 50K till I was 32. And me is plenty smarts. At least, that's what our dog tells me.

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 06-14-2012 at 07:40 AM..
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Old 06-14-2012, 07:40 AM
248 posts, read 612,863 times
Reputation: 105
You lose money either way. You rent, you throw away money towards the rent. You buy, you throw away money at the mortgage interest and other expenses involved in maintaining the place since you are responsible for everything that breaks.

The only way to truly avoid losing money because of housing is to live with parents or pay for the living quarters with cash.

So pick your poison.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:06 AM
2,185 posts, read 2,644,120 times
Reputation: 1616
Basically you expect too much too soon. You guys need to work your way up and earn it. It sounds like you think you've already earned it for some reason, but you haven't. The fact your fiancee is making 50k at 20 without a degree is fantastic. When I graduated college I made about 28k at my first job. I'm now in my 30s making 6 figures though. If he continues to excel he probably will get there too. You don't like the fact that you can't find a house for under 225k. Well the first place I purchased was a condo, for about that amount. I was in my mid 20s though, and bought it with my girlfriend(now wife). You have 4 pets. I never had a pet until very recently, they can be expensive. And you have 4 of them. I'm sorry that you have health problems and can't work, but you should know that it can be a struggle to live in this area on one salary. One thing I would suggest is you consider finishing your degree if possible. It may make things a little tougher at first but it will make it much easier in the future to get all the things you want.

Basically we get by because my wife and I both worked our way up to good salaries(household income ~ 200k) and we were fairly frugal along the way. I still don't own a house FYI, we're in a townhouse so I don't know why you expect to own a house at 20. And if you think it's tough now making ends meet wait until you have a kid. Hope that helps.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:22 AM
Location: Maine
2,010 posts, read 2,700,800 times
Reputation: 2752
Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
If you buy a house knowing that it makes you money when you purchase it and not when you sell it it's a very good investment. Renting isn't an investment at all. Your landlord is making money off of you and once you move you'll have absolutely nothing to show for the tens of thousands you spent on rent each year. I'll eventually own my house outright and possibly rent it and make money off of someone just like you one day. Not to be rude, but I'm fairly sure I'm not the stupid one.
Unless you already have extensive experience with maintaining houses, you might want to do more research on real estate and home repairs. Purchasing a fixer upper requires considerable time, money and know-how to do the maintenance/repairs to get a house into suitable shape for renting or selling. And as far as landlords immediately making money off renters, that is true only for a very few number of people in certain locations. The main benefit for the property owner is the tax deduction. Hopefully the owner sees a profit when the home is sold. Most individuals who own property must put any extra money back into the property for maintenance/repairs. Appliances quit, air conditioners/furnaces need repairs, tenant breaks the sprinkler system or lets the lawn die, etc.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:33 AM
144 posts, read 295,046 times
Reputation: 82
Originally Posted by Mike From NIU View Post
Well, here's one vote for getting married. Despite Amy's experiences, getting married "young" is a good idea. The idea that people are rushing into marriage when the age of marriage has been constantly rising- combined with long periods of cohabitation- is a bit discognizant. Similarly, taking the whole decade of the 20s to "have fun" is the exact opposite of "being an adult." For a sociologist's view, see Mark Regnerus -- Freedom to Marry Young
Good luck!
Married young is a good idea? Its all opinion I suppose and just because a sociologist says its good doesn't mean it is ... and when you say the age of marriage is constantly rising, I'm of the opinion that this is mostly because people have started living together instead of getting married and/or people getting divorced at a young age and then remarrying later on. Just like Denmark says they have the lowest divorce rate in the world....well that's because most of the people aren't getting married (I have lived in Denmark and married a Dane so I'm not just talking out my bum)...

Also I didn't say take the whole decade to "have fun". And when I say have fun I think you might interpret that as me saying "go party, drink and act like a girl gone wild". Not what I meant at all. I meant have fun living on your own, experiencing yourself, getting into your work, learning how to be independent etc... I guess you don't enjoy being an adult? Since you say "having fun" is the exact opposite of being an adult.

I also said they could be one of the lucky ones and make it... there is nothing wrong with expressing a bit of caution to young people at 20 wanting to rush into marriage, living alone, supporting themselves and buying a home... and with the one thinking he can make more than 50k a year without a degree and years of experience in Northern VA is just a bit unrealistic to me.

When I was 20 and married... my husband who was 7 years older than me, no degree and little prospects worked at Wal Mart (I hear he still works there to this day!) and I was a secretary making about 27k a year. I didn't have a degree at the time either because I gave up a full ride to college to get married instead... cause he was totally the man for me and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and since I found him young we'd have so much time together yay! So, we couldn't afford to live in northern VA either. We ended up having to rent my parents townhouse in Warrenton and I commuted to Vienna every day. After about a year I was able to get a better job at Nextel for about 40k a year... he was only making like 8 dollars an hour. It was tough, money was tight and eventually I figured out he was not the man I thought he was and I wised up and realized I needed to divorce him.

I then went back to school and got a bachelors and later on a masters and now I make over six figures. I went straight from living with my parents into marriage and I must say that it was a hard transition and after I got divorced and was actually living by myself it was very freeing and that was when I really learned how to "be an adult" for lack of a better word and really figure out who I was. Does this apply to everyone? No... but I think its definately worth sharing to answer the OP's question and give her a picture of how things could turn out... low possibility? Maybe... but definately worth sharing a similar experience.

The other thing I can recommend is low income apartment communities. There are a lot of these complexes in Northern VA that actually require you to make 50k or less. While you don't like the idea of renting... it is certainly a viable option for you ... in the experience I shared above, before we moved into my parents townhouse we were living in an income restricted apartment in Warrenton and our rent was about 650 a month... course, that was over 10 years ago, so I'm sure the prices have changed.

Last edited by AmyinNOVA; 06-14-2012 at 08:48 AM..
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