Hello from Australia! I’m a 33 year old American, and my husband is a 37 year old Australian. We have a 12 year old son who has dual citizenship.
I was (and am!) a young mother. In some ways, I went about everything backward: I had a child, bought a house, went to graduate school, moved abroad, and secured a high-paying job. But this is my life, and I am committed to making the most of it.
My husband works full-time (aside from one year of unemployment when he first emigrated to the United States and six months of unemployment when he moved back to Australia). For many years, I worked full-time and pursued a Masters degree part-time. For the past four years, I worked part-time while I earned my Ph.D. I absolutely love learning, and I had a wonderful experience in graduate school. When I was applying for jobs, I sent applications around the U.S. and Australia. I was offered a great full-time position in a major Australian city, and we moved the family from the United States to Australia last year.
In the United States, our assets include three rental properties, a 401K, and a pension; in Australia, we both have superannuation funds. As an expat, I’ve found it challenging to manage assets and pay debts in two countries. For that reason, I’ve been really working to educate myself about finances, taxation laws, and government incentives.
My family and I live in a fabulous city in Australia – I love the culture, I adore our neighborhood, and I am grateful for the sunshine. On one hand, Australia has some of the highest cost of living cities in the world. On the other, the Aussie dollar is stronger than the U.S. dollar right now. We pay AU$3000 per month in rent, and we live within walking distance to my work and my son’s school. We don’t own a car, and we spend less than $80 a month on public transportation.
Right now, 52% of our take-home pay goes to basic living expenses like rent, utilities, insurance, and food. We budget 10% (in cash) for our spending money and 3% to our emergency fund. The remaining 35% goes toward debts like our credit cards and student loans, which currently have a six-figure balance. Our rental income covers most of the rental property expenses. This year, we are snowballing $26,360, which is all of our credit card and personal loan debt. Once that is accomplished, we will move from a negative to a positive net worth.
My 2012 salary is around $90,000; I expect to earn another $20,000 to $40,000 in consulting on the side. My husband’s salary is about $55,000. I know those numbers look really high, but I want to stress that we have come such a long ways as a family. When our son was a toddler, my salary was $25,000 a year, and we really struggled. I feel proud that my son has watched me work my way through a second bachelors, a masters, and a doctorate to get to where I am today.
My Blog and Financial Independence
I launched my blog, EarnSaveLive.com, in January 2012. I use it as a way to set my financial goals, keep myself accountable, learn about finance, and share my story with others. We are living very frugally this year in order to accomplish our debt snowball and work towards financial independence. It’s challenging at times, but we know it will be worth it in the long run.
We love to travel, and we’re planning future trips to Asia and Europe as well as around Australia and New Zealand. My husband has some genetic health issues that may significantly impact his ability to travel (let alone work) as he gets older. We really want to value the time that we have together as a family. For us, financial independence will allow us to do so.
Crystal’s Comments: Good luck with your debt snowball and congrats on building up your income streams via education so that you can build up that snowball fast! I sincerely send my very best wishes to your husband and hope he isn’t impacted hardly at all with health issues! Thank you for contributing!
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FYI: I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year. I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home. If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!). Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!