Most people don’t know that my husband was a homeless man. Now, if you were a true hobo who read this blog faithfully you would probably be offended that I call him that: Isn’t he the one who likes Whole Foods and J.Crew? And you would be right. BUT he did sleep under the stars not knowing where or when his next meal would come, all in the name of love.
But why am I talking about our romantic homeless adventures here? Well, because it’s a really good story with some financial lessons to be learned.
There are a few things you need to know up front: My parents are wonderful, generous people. But, with four girls they felt they had to be fair, so they gave us each a large sum for college, no exceptions, and I had used mine up.
It was May and my fiancé and I were both taking summer classes, which were 50% off tuition. Since they are crammed into three or four weeks, the classes are usually 5 hours a day. I was taking one class, he was taking two, and so I was the one working.
I was hired to work at the Library for $8/hr but could only work 15 hrs a week, for a grand total of $120. With tax taken out, my take home paycheck was $99.22 (see figure 1). Living on campus cost me $90/ week, which included one meal of my choice.
After rent we had $9.22 left for groceries and gas. We chose dinner for my one meal and after getting seconds in order to feed both of us, we gladly took another helping of what the kitchen was throwing out and would eat it for breakfast and lunch the next day.
The worst part was my fiancé had to sleep in our car or in the woods behind the college because we couldn't afford to get him a room. Now at first he was all excited and Into The Wild about it but after a month, he was hurting.
When we told one of our professors about his sleeping arrangement she warned us that it was illegal for my fiancé to sleep in the woods and he could get arrested. So every night as I walked up to my room and stretch out my legs, my 6-foot tall husband-to-be had to get comfy in the Sentra.
Now there were several reasons why we couldn’t just share a bed. For one, we didn’t want to. We liked the idea of sleeping together for the first time as husband and wife and getting used to each other’s morning rituals (although that certainly came with it’s rude awakenings). Secondly, even if I could have convinced my roommate to let him sleep on the floor, the college we attended had strict guys floor/girls floor policy enforced by summer RA’s.
At this point times were rough but they were still fun. There was even some comfort in having last night’s dinner for breakfast and lunch; at least there were no surprises. And there was something deliciously romantic about what we were sacrificing to spend the summer together. We’d already spent a full year-and-a-half apart and had vowed never to do that again.
As sweet as that was, there was an element of recklessness that was inappropriate for our stage of life. Yes we were young and yes in school, but don’t make excuses for us - we were also committing to make a life together and currently had nothing in savings, nothing in the bank, and at most $10 in our wallet at any given time! Because of this, we were in no way prepared for what happened next….
Stay tuned Part 2 is coming soon!
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