My husband and I have always been a practical pair.
In matters of the heart, practicality often comes up as the victor, even ahead of logic. What has always rang most true for us is what works best for us. We don't follow the law of the land, instead, we make our own. This year marked the tenth year anniversary since my husband and partner of 16 years said “I do."
Even then, he and I took the practical approach. While every bride-to-be is consumed with wedding planning details, racking up wish list items on gift registries, solidifying venues, choosing plate options for their guests of 25+ - he and I might of wanted some of that, but knew we didn't need any of it. We were the same couple who started living together as soon as a month into dating, just because it made the most sense with maximizing our income in New Orleans, where we grew up.
It was three years into our relationship when we revisited the conversation around what it would look like to build a life together. Although it included marriage, it also included home ownership.
We got really real with one another and knew we could not do both.
Neither one of us came from money. In fact, he was swimming in college debt, as was I. And when we visited a mortgage broker, I learned I was the victim of identity theft for eight years. My first lesson in credit was when I learned a relative burned mine down to a score of 345 out of 800.
Once we learned this information, all of our energy was focused on repairing my credit and any wedding plans were placed on the shelf. We were focused, and our end goal was home ownership. We decided owning a home made the most sense, especially not knowing the future of our young relationship. We decided the best plan of action would help both of us level up, and if our partnership fizzled, we'd at least walk away with more funds in our bank accounts.
That was always the plan for our relationship, to not lock one another in and to instead position both of us to end up better than we were when we found one another.
Introduction to Investing
After seven months of working with our realtor to purchase our dream fixer upper in our favorite New Orleans neighborhood, we closed and called the home ours. Two days later, we learned Hurricane Katrina was on the way, and we evacuated a day later, leaving our fully furnished apartment and our not yet inhabited first house.
A year later—11 years ago to date, in fact—he proposed when we returned to have our house gutted in New Orleans. It was the sweetest end to a stressful trip. A year after that, we eloped.
It seemed selfish and a bit financially reckless to host a grandiose party or to put our friends in a position to travel from wherever they evacuated and landed after Katrina to join us for a wedding. The thought of having people purchase dressy clothes and shoes, spend money on hair, makeup, travel, and gifts felt absurd. So we put the kibosh on that, ordered our first passports, and left for Negril, Jamaica.
To be fair, we decided not to invite anyone. As soon as that decision was made, I released the greatest sigh of relief. I purchased my non-traditional wedding dress from the Armani outlet store for $35. My childhood girlfriend gifted me with earrings. The husband purchased a white guayabera shirt and wore pants he already owned. We could wear all the items again and as many times as we wanted. And we skipped the purchase of shoes because a beach wedding was happening.
I also didn't want to make any decisions about the day. Guys typically don't have to decide anything. And after planning events in my career before, I just didn't want to have to be on duty for my special day. And I didn't have to. The resort had a 30-minute checklist we'd complete.
Playing the Long Game
I said it then and have said it several times since my wedding day, eloping was the best decision we made to walk into the next chapter of our relationship. Our two weeks in Negril totaled to $5,000. My paternal family sponsored our flights with points. The groom's family covered half the cost of our time in Jamaica and it was the only time we ever asked them for support.
It was the easiest and most sustainable decision to have a weddingmoon, instead of two separate and way more expensive events. As a practical pair, the husb and I always plan for the long game.
And here we are, a decade later, still making fiscally responsible decisions, growing stronger together, and we'll be moving into our fifth real estate investment in about three months.
Christine Moline is a New Orleans born, Austin-based productivity consultant and digital organizer with Dashboard Priorities. She explores and offers sustainable strategies to help others maximize their resources—such as time, energy and finances—to put themselves first.