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Old 06-16-2012, 10:19 AM
2,612 posts, read 4,753,415 times
Reputation: 3943


I can't speak for all 20-somethings, but I can tell you how I afforded to live here when I was that age:
1 - I shared a really crappy basement apartment with a friend
2 - I didn't have a car (yes, it was horrible)
3 - I lived month to month and used my credit card for groceries on occasion
4 - My parents helped me out sometimes when things got especially bad
5 - I didn't save or invest at all

In other words, I didn't really afford it. I ran up a bunch of debt just trying to survive. Eventually I gave up and went back to school to try to improve my job opportunities, but ended up just getting more in debt. I'm still in debt. Fortunately, I married a man with a useful degree and he does well for himself, invested wisely in real estate before we were married, and now we are pretty comfortable although still dealing with my debt. I got paid less than lots of other people in my 20's, most of them male and less educated than I was. That's life - it kind of sucks sometimes. If you are finding it hard, then you are not alone.

Had I known you when I was your age, I would have envied you your cushy lifestyle - I mean, you don't have to live with strange roommates, you don't have to go to a job you hate every day for minimal compensation, you don't have any student loans, and you actually live rent-free. You are way better off than I was in my 20's.
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:42 AM
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
14,131 posts, read 27,016,057 times
Reputation: 6824
Live with roommates who have jobs and drive older cars with no payments.
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Old 06-16-2012, 03:17 PM
421 posts, read 818,874 times
Reputation: 417
JBennett, was any of this helpful at all?
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Old 06-16-2012, 04:32 PM
Location: Richmond va
1,540 posts, read 3,989,170 times
Reputation: 625
Default you have to start from the bottom

In any line of work you have to start from the bottom. Being 20 years old with no job is an issue in my opinon. If you have other intrests to work in at this time then being out on your own is NOT what you should be worried about. I started in my career when I was 16 and have slowly worked my way up. I moved out from my parents home at 19.. I moved to Roanoke Va from Richmond and only paid $500 a month on rent. I worked my way up enough in that company to get hired by a company in this area that was willing to start me off pretty well. I have been with them for about 3 years now and make a little over $65k a year in retail management. Will I ever get RICH?? Probably not but it does pay the bills and I currently own my own condo.

Bottom line.. you have to be right in your life to be on your own my personal opinion is that you are not. Do you expect your boyfriend to support you?? Is your boyfriend able to make it on his own? YES
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Old 06-16-2012, 05:54 PM
1,698 posts, read 1,533,695 times
Reputation: 766
Here is my general advice, as someone 7 years older than a 20 year old:

You don't lose much by waiting, you lose a lot by rushing.

I got married 4 years ago, at 23. I'm 27 now and we have a baby, and while I am happy and I think my marriage is successful, it was difficult and very turbulent at times. I have changed so much over the past few years, and I could never have even imagined how different my attitudes would be now back then. Luckily for me, my husband and I were able to evolve together and I think we are happier and stronger as a result. However, if there aren't extenuating circumstances (which we had), why rush and get married so young? Think about what you could lose by waiting (nothing, especially if this is the loyal man of your dreams) versus what you would lose by getting married to the wrong person too soon (a messy divorce at a young age that you have to tell every guy you date about later on). That's all.

I started law school a few years back and my husband made 42k in his first job in this area. Even with that salary, we were able to live in Montgomery county in a nice apartment and save money in addition to paying for my law school costs without going into debt. We do this because I saved like a crazy person before going to law school, I was lucky enough to get generous scholarships, we live in a wonderful low-income apartment unit, and I basically act like a crazy person. I watch every single expense. I once calculated our yearly expenses, and it was 26k not counting school. I love books, so I wait until I have a long list of books I want to read, then I buy them all in a big group for 75 cents each from half.com or something. No kindle for me! Any time I have an expense over 50 dollars, I research the most cost-effective way to buy it. I hunt for stuff on ebay a lot. We typically eat out once every two months, I'd say? I cook anything and everything... from scratch. I buy discounted movie tickets from school. My mother cuts my hair. I noticed one of the benefits of not wearing makeup very often is that I do not have to buy makeup. I *do* have an iphone, but I bought it used and unlocked to avoid getting a data plan, and I've kept it for almost 3 years. I do not shop for clothes and occasionally my parents take me shopping and pay. I'm a big clearance shopper. I gleefully mooch off my parents whenever possible, and they don't mind because 1. they see how I live and they appreciate my effort and 2. I don't go overboard. They have offered me a generous down payment for a house, so I sat down and calculated how much housing expenses like a small mortgage, INTEREST on the mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and utilities compare with my low-income unit. My low-income unit wins even without any mortgage factored in (and we do not make enough money for the mortgage interest deduction to significantly impact our tax bill). I think that using the house you live in as an investment vehicle is a bad idea. Any time I sit down and do the basic math (and there is tons of information on the web to help estimate the expenses of owning a home), renting a small apartment is better when you are in a transitional period in your life. My hubby and I are only house-hunting now because we have a sizable down payment and a baby and we are too packed into our little apartment.

I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Most people consider my lifestyle "slumming it." I don't. I actually don't mind doing things the way I do, it's more of a game to me. If I were OP, I would put off getting married for a few years, spend my 40k savings getting a degree in an in-demand field like nursing or IT (NOT law school, such a scam!), get rid of my expensive pets or whatever is costing them so much money, and cozy up to my rich parents and live with them. But then again, she's going to have to learn quite a bit on her own.
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Old 06-16-2012, 07:10 PM
20 posts, read 51,336 times
Reputation: 23
There's some good advice in this thread, along with some warranted and unwarranted criticisms, but I'd like to give you some of my own advice because, gosh darn it, I'm special. Just like everyone else. Anyway, whether you agree or disagree, I hope that it gets you thinking.

Originally Posted by JBennett View Post
We are living with his mom in Stafford and desperately want to move out
Desperate means giving up the subsidized rent, losing the pets, and moving out from under his mom's house. If you aren't as desperate to move out as you say, then keep the cheap rent -- save your money until you're comfortable leaving the nest.

He should be getting paid about 25k more than he is
If there's any advice I can impart on you and others that are willing to listen, it's this: you should be getting paid what someone will pay you. Nothing more, nothing less. People always think they should make more and complain that others are overpaid, but ultimately, your 'worth' or pay is exactly what someone will pay you. If you are unhappy about it, it's up to you to find higher pay.

There must be other people in their early twenties who've been underpaid due to their age.
It seems unfair, but it's not, and I encourage you to not consider yourself a victim of age discrimination and rather, try to understand the underlying reason for being 'underpaid'. It's not age; it's experience. You probably won't understand/appreciate that until you're older and find yourself in situations that are similar to things you've encountered years earlier. Or you recall something you learned in that useless college class that you hated (not your situation specifically), yet now it applies to your current problem you're solving. I'm a firm believer that a related degree is far more valuable than 4 years of experience in the long run, but I know others disagree. *shrug*

Specifically to your fiancee's situation, since he is a subcontractor, there is more than likely a cap on his billable rate since he lacks a college degree. There's always room for negotiation, though. Always.

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.
How have you come to this conclusion? I've recently decided not to buy a property and am renting again. I arrived at my conclusion by running through the numbers. Just some thoughts that people forget/don't think about: 1) mortgage interest is the bank making money off of you, and the tax break is only 1/5 or so back, 2) when comparing owning vs renting, don't forget to compare investing your downpayment vs putting it into a home, 3) remember to factor in maintenance (and modernizing) on a house, condo/hoa fees, and property taxes, and 4) renting usually will get you a better commute, which translates into less commuting cost and generally a better quality of life.

There are certainly benefits to owning, but just strictly from a financial perspective, it's not as cut-and-dry as the real estate industry would like you to believe. I've run the numbers for my situation, and a 30-year mortgage is a very tough game to win.
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Old 06-16-2012, 09:09 PM
Location: Fairfax County, VA
3,718 posts, read 4,770,947 times
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Originally Posted by lmw36 View Post
-I try and eat healthy, but simple meals.
Any suggestions?

Originally Posted by CAVA1990 View Post
My other one your age works full time and makes about $60K which is pretty normal for this area as her friends also make about that.
But what does he do?
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Old 06-16-2012, 10:15 PM
1,638 posts, read 2,592,021 times
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Originally Posted by Joke Insurance View Post
Any suggestions?

But what does he do?
My breakfasts and lunches are quite simple.

Morning breakfast could be:
-Oatmeal (I'm talking the plain kind that is $2 a tub at Wegmans), I microwave it with skim milk instead of water. I put slivered almonds, craisins, peanut butter, or whatever "filler" I happen to have in my cupboard. I also keep brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon on hand to make it more decadent!
-Toast and peanut butter with sliced banana on top
-Eggs and toast

Lunch could be:
-Chicken with some sort of marinade, or even plain to be thrown in my salad
-Some sort of carb (brown rice, whole grain pasta)

I try not to snack much, but if I do, I keep raw almonds on hand, some fruit, or low fat yogurt. I'm lucky in that work provides a lot of healthful snacks.

I buy everything store brand where I can (Wegmans has excellent store brands). I buy the bulk packs of chicken, buy a box of freezer bags, and freeze what I don't use immediately. I freeze them in individual/two day portions so I don't have to defrost a lot. If you want to be thrifty, you can even re use the bags (if you buy quality freezer bags!). I also buy the family packs of frozen salmon, which are also individual portions.

I eat a lot of fresh veggies, as well as a lot of frozen. They are cheaper per pound.

I am stocked with a decent array of spices, olive oil, and some basic sauces. I always have a head of garlic and an onion on hand.

It's really just practice and shopping around for the best deals. If I want to be adventurous, I go on epicurious.com and cook something for dinner.

OH, I recommend getting a crock pot. It's amazing, the healthful and cheap meals you can cook. There are so many cheap chilis you can make. I also individually freeze portions of this. It's also nice to make your own pasta sauce. Pasta is cheap.
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Old 06-17-2012, 12:13 AM
3,164 posts, read 6,118,809 times
Reputation: 1264
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?
Does your husband have a degree and the same experience as the others? I've never known a 20 year old, with no degree, who makes $50,000 much less expecting more.

Most people who are 20 live at home, and don't even expect to buy a house until they've finished college, and established themselves in a career. That's why you don't find 20 years buying houses. They can't afford it.
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Old 06-17-2012, 03:07 AM
Location: Northern VA
508 posts, read 624,609 times
Reputation: 616
It seems to me that while some of the responses here offer great advice (ChristineVA, Carlingtonian, saganista, and others) too many simply criticize the OPs choices - living at home, not working, buying an inexpensive reliable used car for commuting, 4 pets, etc. instead of actually trying to answer the questions.

JBennett - the one thing in your post that I disagree with is your statement that your fiance's age is the reason for his (in your opinion) lower salary. I'd say it's more a combination of lack of experience and no degree. Buying a house and living in NOVA can be expensive, but there's a real simple solution to get what you want -- both of you need to make more money. How do you do that?
1. Your fiance needs to get a degree. Explore student loans, grants, employer assistance, night school, weekends, etc. It's very hard to get ahead in this area without it.
2. Does your fiance have or can he get any certifications in his field? Many employers provide assistance in obtaining them. Certifications can be more important (and more valuable) than a degree.
3. You need to get a job. By all means wait until your medical issues are worked out but you're not going to get where you want to be until your fiance starts making more money and you can contribute monetarily.

There's no magic bullet to success living in NOVA. It will probably take you longer than you'd like but it is possible. Another year or two (or more) of living at home and keeping your expenses low while positioning yourselves for future success is preferable to trying to keep up with the Jones's now and struggling for the rest of your life.

Good luck.
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