I'm technically not a newcomer as I joined about a year (?) ago, and have a couple of previous posts. But as I now have good news to share, I figured it was a good time to introduce myself.
First, some background. I hit the triple whammy of going for a PhD (at least it was in science), getting pregnant in the last year of my dissertation, and graduating straight into the unemployment line. Even better, it was the end of summer, which here in the DC area means a lot of employers were dithering over hiring decisions, and I was denied unemployment because my last five years of paychecks were considered "student wages." Fun times.
I was unemployed for a total of 5 mos and part-timing for another 3 mos before landing my current position-- during which time our expenses went up with diapers, formula, etc (we had a preemie so certain options were off the table) and my whopping student loans coming due. We ate a lot of boxed dinner, maxed a lot of credit cards, borrowed from friends and family to keep at least SOME of the bills paid, and went delinquent on the rest because there was nothing else we could do. At the end of May, I finally began drawing a real paycheck-- 40% of which promptly went back out the door to daycare expenses. BUT-- we were still technically ahead, by a narrow margin. And so we got to work.
It's mid-September now and I'm happy to report that ALL our bills are current, we have a tiny bit in savings, and a tiny bit in investment accounts. For the first time in a year, I made an entire grocery run during which I bought NO boxed dinners. Even better, we carved a few hundred dollars out of the monthly budget to set aside for moving expenses in a year, to get us into a cheaper place where we can realize those savings long-term. Longer-term, if we stick to the plan, we will effectively get a $20K/year "pay raise" when our daughter starts Kindergarten and we no longer have to pay for daycare. We're probably not going to FIRE any time soon, as we're both late bloomers, but we now have a budget, and some savings, and a plan. It's the little things.
Speaking of which, I can tell you that most of my professional wardrobe comes from the Salvation Army and that my '99 Malibu is still running (thanks to my car-savvy husband and a $20 coolant hose)-- so we are not only saving, but building the habits that will let us keep our money moving in the right direction.
If you've read this far, thanks-- and my name is Ariane, and I have a little peach fuzz. ;)