Who We Are
We’re a married millennial/Gen X couple living in central Indiana. Mr. Steward is 35, Ms. Steward is 29, and we both work for a pharmaceutical company. We have a three-year-old, Bean, and another little girl, Squidge, due December 2017. Our relationship was built on a shared love of all things geeky, specifically gaming both analog and digital, horror movies, and books on every topic under the sun. We’re also Christians, and hope that our faith continues to interweave itself into everything that we do.
Our Story So Far
I (Ms. Steward) grew up in an impoverished rural area in Kentucky. I excelled academically and chose to attend a private liberal arts college for my undergraduate degree. I worked during the summers and part-time during the school year. Nonetheless, neither I nor my family had much by way of college savings. In 2010 I was the first person in my family to graduate from college, with two Humanities majors and $28,000 in federal student loans.
Mr. Steward is a minister’s son, so he moved several times throughout his childhood. He finally landed in a suburb of Chicago for middle school and beyond. Mr. Steward began working part-time at 16. That job became full-time once he graduated from high school, and he worked his way through an A.S. from a local community college. Mr. Steward had no debt and no savings.
We met on an online text-based role-playing game in 2008 (I wasn’t joking about the geeky part!). We were married in the summer of 2010. When I received a fellowship for a PhD program, Mr. Steward followed me to the university, which was conveniently located between our two families. He quickly obtained a position at our current company.
We started attending a great church in the middle of their huge push for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course. The course gave us some general guidelines to follow and emphasized the dangers of debt. We lived on Mr. Steward’s income and used my university fellowship to pay off my student loans. I realized after passing my qualifying exams in Spring 2013 that the PhD program was no longer for me, so I walked away with my Master’s degree and got a job at the university. The pay boost allowed us to finish paying off the last of my student loans in December 2013.
Never ones to waste time, I became pregnant with Bean in January 2014. We saved up a large emergency fund while we awaited Bean’s arrival, which was a joyful day that October. Around the same time, we purchased a house. Since then, Ms. Steward moved to Mr. Steward’s company, and Mr. Steward has received several raises and promotions. Baby Squidge, another daughter, is due December 2017.
In many ways, we’re a stereotypical American couple. We have kids, a mortgage, two jobs, two cars, and minimal investments. But we also have a plan. We aspire to financial weirdness, wielding wealth to create opportunities for ourselves (through financial independence) and for others (through giving and our work).
Our current short-term goal is to pay off our van. After that, the plan is to up our 401k contributions to 15% of our income while using any remainder to get the PMI off of our house, save for our daughters’ educations, and fund our Roth IRAs.
Our Goals for This Blog
1. Talk about money: I know, duh. But money is a taboo topic, which has left many young people–including us–struggling to discern what is marketing hype and what is sound financial sense. We hope that by opening up about our own finances, others will be inspired to have fruitful, frank financial discussions.
2. Share our journey in real-time: There are a huge number of inspiring financial independence blogs, but they are often written once the writer is well on their way to financial independence. We are still figuring out how to be truly financially weird, and often disagree on the best way to spend our money. We’d love to have you along for the triumphs and mistakes.
3. Insert stewardship into financial discourse: It can be hard to find a line between storing up goods at the expense of others and being a wise steward. We are constantly debating which choice is “right” not only in terms of financial return, but for the overall well-being of ourselves and the world. We hope that contemplating such questions publicly will encourage others to think about faith, ethics, and money.