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Subject:  A short story. Date:  10/21/2004  3:39 PM
Author:  Ceberon Number:  2744 of 5089

My wife (well, soon to be wife at that time) and I graduate from college, as computer programmers (I'm 21, she's 20). We both get nice jobs, that pay almost exactly the same. We grab an apartment that costs approximately 1/8th our salary, and we have two old cars our parents had given us.

During the next year, we manage to have our budget flex like mad.. we go out to eat for just about every meal, still have our checking account buldge to 10k within a couple months, at which point we buy a 3.5k TV, go on a 3.5k honeymoon cruise (alaska, nice room on the back with a deck, very pretty), give extremely expensive gifts at christmas (DVD player & 10 dvd's for one parent, $200 for each sister of mine (3), etc). Every time our funds got large we'd find some way to spend it.

We decide to buy a house afterwards and don't quite have the money available and we're impatient so we take a loan out from the wife's grandfather. We get the house, and with raises it's costing about 1/6th our take home. Now fast forward: Wife manages to buy a decent amount of company stock at a high price, we end up selling at it's lowest level in many years. We cancel contributions to both of our 401k's at the very top of the market, missing the dollar cost averaging during the crash. We buy a 16k car, change our mind, sell it back for a 12k car (still have 15k in auto-loan), and then buy another car (25k loan this time). Through the wife going back to school (thinking about switching professions) and me becoming a scuba instructor, buying a pool table, a pinball machine, re-painting the house, we go through a 15k home equity loan and 15k in c-card debt.

Shape up time (about 3 months ago), I'm 27 (she's 26)

I start to read the Fool website and read finance/investing books. The wife decides after some discussions to stay in her current profession since she has some good chances for promotions (and she'll like management better than coding). I turn back on our 401k's, and within a couple months get them up to 16% and 18% respectively (should max out the before tax contributions approximately). Open 2 Roth IRA accounts and slightly fund them just to get them started. Transfer the c-card debt to a 0% c-card (until march) and start paying it down as fast as possible (around 2.5k per month). Down to around 9k c-card debt. Thankfully the auto loans are at fairly low %'s, but I'll get to those next, since I h