How I'm Achieving My Financial Goals for My Growing Family Posted November 16, 2016 by Brittany Martinez
Over the course of my life, I have been fortunate to be surrounded by family members who made their living by helping others. My mother is a teacher and my stepfather is a nurse, so the idea of pursuing a career that gives back to others, even if it was at the expense of a big salary had been instilled in me from an early age.
I always knew I wanted to work with children, and as I grew older, I chose to pursue a career that would enable me to help children with special needs. To make this dream a reality, I knew I had a lot of schooling ahead of me. In addition to finishing a four-year college degree, I would need to get a master's degree.
What concerned me most about following this career path wasn't the prospect of putting in years of time, energy and effort to receive my degrees, but rather the enormous amount of student debt I'd be required to take on in order to pay for my education. I have a firm belief that education should be affordable and accessible to all, but this unfortunately isn't necessarily the case.
I come from a middle-class family, and because my sister and I were both in college at the same time, our parents weren't able to contribute a significant amount toward our tuition, housing, or books. As a result, I paid for my undergraduate education at Pennsylvania State University with student loans. When it came time to begin graduate school, also at Penn State, I attempted to pay as much out of pocket as I could, but ultimately had to take out more than $40,000 in student loans to fund the full cost of attendance.
While it was daunting to think about paying off the tens of thousands of dollars I owed in student loans, the hard work I put into getting my degrees has paid off in a big way: I'm thrilled to be working in my dream job as a behavior specialist focusing on helping children with autism. I am also engaged, and just gave birth to my first child. I couldn't be more excited for the new chapter of life that's ahead!
Now that I've started a family of my own, it's more important than ever to stay on top of my goals and manage my finances so that my fiancé and I can achieve these goals. Here are some of the financial goals I have, and my plans for achieving them:
Saving up for retirement: It's important to me to save for retirement, and in my opinion, there's no better way to do this than by taking advantage of my employer's 401(k) match. Contributing to my retirement savings essentially means taking money away from the budget I have to spend today and that is difficult. However, I know that, in the end, it is the best move I can make in order to achieve my financial goals over the long term because it will set me up for a comfortable future.
Buying a home: My fiancé and I recently welcomed a new addition to our family; we had a baby boy in September of 2016. We also have a happy, rambunctious dog who loves to play and explore. We are currently renting a house, but would absolutely love to buy our own home someday. Owning a home is important to us because it will ensure that we can accommodate our growing family and create memories in a home that is ours for years to come. In order to make this a reality, my plan is to stick to a budget and save up as much as possible for a down payment on our own home while we are still renting our house.
Getting out of student debt: Refinancing my student loans with CommonBond has helped me get a lower interest rate on my loans and significantly lower my monthly payments. Without CommonBond, I estimate that I'd be paying about $550 per month on my student loans; thanks to CommonBond, I'm paying half of that amount, which makes an incredible difference. As challenging as the process has been, paying off my student loans is a goal I've committed myself to, and I know it will enable me to move forward with my life and focus on all of the other important life milestones. I look forward to the day when I've paid off all of my student loans, and CommonBond is making the entire process much easier for me.
Despite some of the financial challenges I've faced, it feels empowering to know I'm able to take charge of my finances by outlining my financial goals and creating a plan to achieve them. Doing this gives me confidence that I'm setting myself and my family up for financial success.
Brittany Martinez, a CommonBond member, is a Licensed Behavior Specialist for children with Autism and mental health disorders in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Brittany earned her Masters in Psychology and Applied Behavior Analysis from Capella University and her Bachelors in Communication Disorders and Human Development from Penn State University. She lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania with her fiancé, Brandon, and son, Brody. They also have one dog, Copper. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, skiing, and spending time with friends and family.