There are certain times of year that naturally push me to spend a bit more time reflecting than I spend doing. Those times of year tend to coincide with natural transitions–the turn of a new year, the change of seasons, and of course birthdays. This year, as I inch closer and closer to the three-decade milestone, I am finding myself feeling both nostalgic and reflective.

The result is this series of blog posts over the 10 days leading up to my 30th birthday in which I am sharing a total of 30 lessons that I have learned in 30 years of life.

There is Value to Humble Beginnings
When Scott and I first got married five years ago, I was in the middle of grad school, we were both chipping away at student loans, and we knew that there was no way we could afford rent on top of all of our other bills and financial commitments. So, even though I was originally dead set on having our “own place,” I ultimately caved to the idea that we would start our marriage more humbly than I wanted. We spent the first two years of our marriage “renting” Scott’s grandmother’s basement (which we lovingly dubbed Club Cellar) for $100 a month. And, as much as I missed natural light and the sense of truly having our “own place,” I look back on those two years with such thankfulness for the way that they allowed us to set ourselves up for future financial stability. Because of the blessing of those humble beginnings, I was able to finish grad school without additional debt, and we were able to save a significant amount of money that made our move to Dayton and eventual home ownership much more feasible. There was significant value in those humble beginnings no matter how much I grumbled at the time, and I am thankful for the lessons I learned from that experience.

Control Your Money, Don’t Let it Control You
It is a pretty well known fact that money is usually one of the main sources of contention and argument in marriages. Seriously. Dealing my own money was hard enough, but adding another person into that equation is a whole new dynamic. We were very fortunate early in our marriage to have a couple of our dear friends gift us a copy of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. And while Ramsey’s philosophies on money should always be read through the lens of your situation, this book absolutely revolutionized the way Scott and I deal with money. As a result, we have never since had an argument about money, and budgeting and living below our means has afforded us the opportunity to pay off all of the student debt in our names before my 30th birthday while also buying a house and meeting other financial goals. Following a strict budget has really changed the way we think about and manage our money and has totally eliminated a possible source of contention in our marriage.

How to Buy a House
This lesson is a little more practical and concrete than many of the others on my list, but the journey to home ownership is an important milestone for anyone. Many thanks to the Home Buying Kit for Dummies and wisdom from family and friends, Scott and I thrived in a season of searching for, planning for, and buying our first home.

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