Author Topic: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?  (Read 3508 times)

kadickerson1

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Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« on: June 03, 2015, 08:50:26 PM »
Let me give you a basic rundown of my scenario:

I am 20-year-old, engaged, soon to be married male. (Within a month!) Also, we don't plan on having kids. Ever. So, that needn't be factored in.
I live in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
My fiancee has a job that pays $9.75 an hour and is under contract for 36 hours/week, and I am currently searching for a better-paying job. (I'm unemployed, we currently stay with my parents and aren't paying rent, but want to leave. Footnote: Parents are soon to demand $450+ a month in rent for one bedroom and shared facilities-- laundry, kitchen, etc.)
Rent for a one bedroom in Parkersburg is anywhere between $350-$600/month depending on the amenities.
I go to college, but will be off until next February. Current plan is to graduate with degrees in Network Engineering and Network Security in 2018.
Parkersburg is relatively small (~31K people live here), and there aren't many options when it comes to things like ISP's and Cell Carriers.
I'd like to get started with the "buy-a-house-fix-it-yourself-then-sell-it" approach to real estate, but am unsure of how to gain the capital to do so, or how to buy the house(s?).

We have no assets and are saving to buy a used car (plenty of decent used ones around here for less than $3,000). As far as debt goes, we have about $3,500 combined in CC debt (working to pay off, not using again.) and tuition from this past semester (didn't get FA to help). After we pay off what we have, we are going to avoid borrowing, pay-to-own, and loans like the plague-- Neither one of us are comfortable being in debt.

So the question is, 'Stachians, where the hell do I go from here?

Feel free to be as technical as you like-- a healthy dose of research never killed anyone!
« Last Edit: June 03, 2015, 09:16:39 PM by kadickerson1 »

MDM

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2015, 09:37:36 PM »
kadickerson1, welcome to the forum.

For now, getting to a point where you can earn more money should be your priority.  It appears you are doing so by getting degrees - is that you getting two degrees or one for you and one for your fiancee?

Do you need to consider the trade-off between paying for a car vs. not having to take time off from college to collect tuition money?

If you haven't already done so, preparing a cash flow plan for the next few years (say, from now through 12/2018) would be worthwhile.  It can be less detailed than a month to month budget, but should include all large expected expenses and list the income that will pay for those.  Doing so may answer some questions for you - and/or it may raise more questions.  How does that sound?

kadickerson1

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2015, 10:13:33 PM »
Thanks for the welcome! :)

That's me getting two very nerdy degrees. The car is so that I can go to classes whenever needed, because as it stands, I lose a lot of time at the college because the Cisco-certified classes I need to take and the bus schedules line up so poorly that I have to take the bus out four hours ahead of class, four days a week, which is time I could be spending elsewhere doing better. In two semesters, I will have to take a mandatory IT class at night at the college, and there is no bus to/from the college after 4:30 p.m. Not to sound like the kind of person MMM abhors, but I don't have a bike, nor do I have any confidence in my ability to ride it the five miles out to the college and back. (I plan on working on being able to bike, eventually. I have plans to get one from my father and fix it up myself.) A cash flow plan would likely be beneficial. (Also, I'm in love with spreadsheets, so I may use those.)

Another one of those things we're going to "deal with as it comes" is saving for a move. My girlfriend has her heart set on acting/singing on Broadway. (THE Broadway. In NYC.) Our goal is to set aside $10,000 in the next four years. (A year's worth of rent, with help from family in NYC to find an apartment, most likely a shared one.)

MDM

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2015, 10:25:52 PM »
...five miles out to the college and back.
I go to college, but will be off until next February.
...saving to buy a used car (plenty of decent used ones around here for less than $3,000).
Seems you have 8 months to acquire a decent bike for much less than $3K and get comfortable enough to ride it. 

Unless the only road has no shoulder, no guardrail, 18-wheelers going both ways and a 500 ft drop to a rocky river below...do consider this.  Many people (e.g., me) survived college w/o a car.  At least in theory, you can too.  Your thoughts?

kadickerson1

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 11:00:34 PM »
Sounds reasonable. Honestly, I'm just a little frightened of the prospect because I'm a bit overweight (6', 238 lbs) and have never ridden a bike farther than a quarter mile before. (1/8 mile either way-- I know. Shame on me for being so lazy.) The road has a shoulder and a guardrail, but it is hilly as all hell. (Welcome to West Virginia.) Using the eight months to get comfortable on the bike instead of getting a cheap car hadn't occurred to me.  I feel sort of dumb for not having thought of that. The drop on the side of the road is a much more tame 4 feet into bushes and fallen branches.

The prospect of going from my severely limited experience to 5-mile-both-way bike trips is rather intimidating. Though, eight months is a long time...

P.S. I've started working on the spreadsheets and the living-off-of-half-of-what-is-earned part of this seems a bit more feasible. (Worst Case Scenario: Assuming I only find a minimum wage job, we'd have roughly $800/month to save/invest/whatever. My thought is that it would be prudent to put that money toward making much more than the minimum payments on what we owe, correct?)

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2015, 05:55:43 AM »
Sounds like you might be able to solve the weight problem and the car problem with the same thing.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2015, 06:35:27 AM »
Finish your degree and start making great $$.

Don't be afraid to relocate. Tech jobs are plenty, and pay really well. Most entry level positions start at $50-75k/yr depending on GEO.

Many in Tech are earning 6 figures within 5 years with maybe one or two promotions/company moves.

Enjoy!

McCannon

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2015, 07:01:36 AM »
Following along for relevance! 

I'm 22 so it's nice to find someone in a sort-of similar situation. I'm a stay at home dad with no income. We live off OSAP currently (in Ontario it's a student loan/grants that provide tuition and living costs) while my girlfriend (also 22) goes to school. She graduates in 2 months and then I am going to school for 2 years and she will work part-time. We have two young kids and live in the capital.

We aren't in a position to save but are desperately applying the principles of mustachianism to our life so we can build a solid foundation for our true saving days. In 2016 I will also be working part-time while in school.

Basically, it's nice to find a thread that I can relate to (especially because I used to be 6ft, 240 lbs and am no longer). Message me for a chat if you'd like!
« Last Edit: June 04, 2015, 08:07:46 AM by McCannon »

nereo

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Re: Starting at 20 years old-- Where to go?
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2015, 07:32:53 AM »
Sounds reasonable. Honestly, I'm just a little frightened of the prospect because I'm a bit overweight (6', 238 lbs) and have never ridden a bike farther than a quarter mile before. (1/8 mile either way-- I know. Shame on me for being so lazy.)

I second MDM's suggestion of getting a bike and learning to ride it.  Owning a car is deceptively expensive, and most people have no clue how much they actually spend per year (national median average: $10,700).  Even with the an extremely frugal, high-MGP vehicle your per-mile cost will most likely be ~20/mile.  Biking will be good for your health, good for your wallet, and good for the planet.
Anyone can build up to riding 5 mile trips in just a few weeks - let alone 8 months. Start now and start by doing 'fun-rides' for 10 minutes, ignoring how far you go.  Then go up to 12, 15, 18 minutes.  Pretty soon 5 miles will seem like a very reasonable trip.

Quote
P.S. I've started working on the spreadsheets and the living-off-of-half-of-what-is-earned part of this seems a bit more feasible. (Worst Case Scenario: Assuming I only find a minimum wage job, we'd have roughly $800/month to save/invest/whatever. My thought is that it would be prudent to put that money toward making much more than the minimum payments on what we owe, correct?)
First goal should be to axe that credit card debt.  Then, since you have very little in savings I would start an emergency fund to keep you from drawing on those credit cards.  Once you have a couple $k in an ER fund, look into opening an IRA (I recommend Vanguard), which will both lower your taxes and put you on the road to FI.

Keep your options open and apply to at least a few out-of-area jobs every quarter.  My sense is that you could substantially increase your earnings if you were willing to live in a larger metropolotian area.  Even if you turn down any job offers, it is still a good practice because it forces you to recognize your strengths and identifies areas where you can improve.
As for purchasing a fixer-upper and building wealth throug sweat-equity, that's a good way of doing it, but it takes dedication.  You need to be OK living in a construction zone for months at a time, and be at least moderately handy. If you go this route most of your "free-time" will be spent renovating, so you must enjoy this sort of thing or it will get old fast.

Finding an appropriate home/duplex to renovate is a topic in itself, and I suggest you hang around the "real-estate and landlording" section for some ideas.  As for financing, you will first need to save several $k for a down payment (ideally 20% of the purchase price) and you will also need a good credit score.  Paying your bills on time, every time is the best way of doing this.  Then you sit down with multiple banks and find out what sorts of loans you qualify for.  Just don't take out the maximum amount they offer you just because you can.  Make sure you can afford the monthly payments while still having a fair bit left over for savings and unexpected expenses.  Once you get to this point, post specific questions and people here can tell you whether it sounds like a smart or dumb idea.