Married College Student? Learn to Live on One Income and Build Net Worth

My husband and I married while we were both attending college. My husband graduated two years before I did and we got married at the end of  my junior year.

While we were planning the wedding the two of us had much discuss, including what our goals and financial plans were after we tied the knot. At the time, I was working part-time and I was switching to an internship with a local company in their supply chain department while my husband was settling into his first post graduation job as a software developer.

Budgeting with One Income

One of the first things we decided as a couple was to reduce stress with our budget by keeping our necessary expenses under one income. Since my husband had a full time job, we used his income as the budget.

Keeping Rent Low

While that sounds easy, finding an apartment that fit my husband’s budget that was in a safe neighbor took some scouring. After hunting around we found a great little one bedroom apartment right across the street from the beach. It wasn’t big and the layout was awkward, but we really liked the location and utilizing the ocean wind meant we didn’t need air conditioning.

We got creative with the apartment – the stove was small so you can only cook with two burners at a time. We mastered one pot dinners quickly.

Know the Local Food and Drink Deals

We also learned all the happy hour specials in the area. (By the way if you’re in Norfolk, VA – try out Red Dog Saloon for their deals.)

Make Saving a Priority

Since my husband’s income was for family bills that meant my income was to be used to build our savings and to pay down debts. One of our goals was to pay off the car loan. It was a big drain on our monthly budget and getting rid of it meant we could upgrade our apartment budget.

We also went ahead and started saving up for a house down payment. We took our wedding gift money and set it aside in savings with Bank of America. However, it wasn’t earning any money and we were having some problems with our joint accounts. We decided to try out ING Direct to take advantage of their high interest savings account and eventually we also used their Electric Orange checking account.

We’ve been extremely happy with the service we’ve received and it’s nice to earn a bit more money with interest than if we stayed with the brick and mortar banking option.

Thoughts on Marriages and College Living

How many of you are attending college right now and are married? How do you keep your finances under control?

2 Responses to Married College Student? Learn to Live on One Income and Build Net Worth

  1. My husband and I are both PhD students that make a combined $30,000 a year. Luckily, we live in the Midwest where rent is cheap. To keep our budget under control, I utilize Automatic Savings Plans from ING direct to skim off ~$500+ a month to fill up our “Summer Savings” account, since we don’t get paid during the summer. Our other savings (like emergency) are also automatic. We get an allowance sent to our respective checking accounts also, using our joint account only for joint home expenses. We live frugally: only have 1 car, bike commute to school (6 mls roundtrip), make meal plans, and most importantly, we try not to buy needless discretionary items. Since we both have never had student loans, my goal is to get out of this PhD with *positive* net worth.

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