My 600lb Life – 8 financial observations

600lb-lifeMy wife and I fell into a rabbit hole mini-binge watch of TLC’s “My 600lb Life”. Besides being very motivating, the show is a fantastic look into human behavior. It isn’t a coincidence that many financial teachers have used weight loss as a picture of getting our personal finances under control.

As I watched these episodes, I noted a couple observations:

  1. Real change takes two years

The show follows a subject’s story over an extended period of time, generally about 2 years. It’s obviously not easy to lose 300-400lbs, but it’s easy to forget that a huge change can take a long time. For people in large amounts of debt, I’ve also noticed it takes about 2 years to get out of a massive financial hole. This could be discouraging – but I choose to think of it as encouraging. No matter how big your problem, there is a decent chance that two years from now you could have a completely different life.

  1. Surgery doesn’t fix it

The people on the show are there because they’re seeking to get a lap band surgery to help them lose weight. It’s interesting that the doctor doesn’t let them get the surgery unless they lose a significant amount of weight first. He understands that surgery isn’t the solution – the patient has to be willing to change first. The first step is always a change of the heart and mind. It’s helpful to remember that there isn’t any financial fix (more money, better job, lower interest rate, rich uncle) that will ‘fix’ your life. Instead…..

  1. It always starts with a choice

Any big life change will always be initiated by being ‘sick and tired of being sick and tired’. It’s being ‘mad as hell and not going to take it anymore’.

  1. Caused by trauma

It’s heartbreaking to hear the back story of the people on this show. Nearly all of them can trace their physical problems back to a major trauma – often being abused (physically, sexually) in some fashion. It seems obvious to this amateur physiologist that there is a direct connection between an event that caused the victim to hate their body and the ensuing weight gain. Finances aren’t always like this, but often we can trace our attitudes and behaviors back to the way we were raised to understand money. Often students I counsel will start our conversation with some version of “My parents weren’t very good with money”.

  1. A million small choices

Nobody gains 400lbs in a day, week, month, or year. Similarly, most of us got into debt over a period of time through a lot of small choices.

  1. This will change your life

Losing 400lbs over 2 years will change your life. The show’s participants are always so grateful to have made the journey. Nobody loses that much weight and says “You know, my life is pretty much the same just with smaller jeans.” When I’ve felt the crushing burden of too much debt, it expands into my mental and spiritual spaces. I’ve found myself thinking about money throughout the day, or trying not to think about it and feeling guilty about ignoring my problems. Getting out of debt will change your life. Once you’re out of debt, your life won’t be “pretty much the same just without any payments”. No, I think you’ll find it affects lots of decisions and emotions that you never considered.

  1. Takes a team

The story of the show isn’t just the main character, it’s always the supporting cast.  There is usually a massive enabler or two that helped the protagonist get to their current state. Once they are ready to change, a team of doctors, nurses, personal trainers, nutritionist, friends, and family all come along side the person and help them toward their goal. Finances are similar – if you can build a team of encouragers around you it is wildly helpful. Here’s some more info on working toward a goal with a team.

  1. A persistent spark of Hope

When things are dark, we need to remember that it will be worth it. In “The Pilgrims Progress”, Christian is helped in his darkest times by his companion Hopeful. When we’re ready to quit, what we really need is Hope. Hope that all the sacrifice will ultimately be worth it. Watching the TV show I’m reminded what Paul taught:

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

How to Reset your Life

redditThis reddit thread came to my attention yesterday and it is fascinating. If you scan through the original post there are some good comments. In my judgement from reading, research, and exemplified by one person’s experiences on this thread, here is my formula for resetting your financial life:

  • Cut expenses to nothing

Dave Ramsey has said he can tell by the tone of callers voices if they are ready to change. It’s the “sick and tired of being sick and tired”. He calls it “Selling so much stuff the dog thinks its next”. Like the reddit poster, I need to be willing to cut cable, internet, eating out, Netflix, move residences, and anything else that is preventing me from paying off debt and building an emergency fund.

  • Create a plan for more income

There seems to be some direct connection between getting dramatically serious about cutting expenses and creating an income plan. Perhaps not having any entertainment options creates space in my life for more work and time to think about my work. How am I going to create more income? When I take the time to focus my will, my brain starts finding solutions to the problem. Praying is also deeply powerful. Prayer aligns my will with Gods. The Bible says we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Psalmist says God’s direct favor can be seen by “establishing the work of our hands”.  Pray that God would reveal opportunities for us to “work as unto the Lord”. In my experience the most common way these opportunities are revealed is by working on what is available to me right now. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”

That’s the formula. It may be simple but it isn’t easy. I have a note in my office from Tony Robbins. If you want to change your life:

  • Decide what you want
  • Take MASSIVE action
  • Review results & make course corrections
  • Repeat steps 2 & 3

Non-Owning

20160917_114549There is an old joke that the best two days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. I spent this last weekend playing 54 holes of golf and hanging with some cool dudes. This picture is me drilling an 8 iron over water to make a key par.

We were blessed that a family member of one of the players has a large vacation home in the mountains and they let us use it for the weekend. As I was sitting in the hot tub that night, I reflected on this thought: Though I’m not a millionaire, for this weekend I was experiencing all the enjoyment of this huge mountain chalet.

For some reason, I am hardwired to think I need to own something to enjoy it. Maybe this is a result of thousands of advertisements or perhaps it’s just my nature to want to control. I do think there is a strong movement toward Lyft, VRBO, community gardens, bike sharing, and more peer-to-peer.

We have a guest bedroom in our house, so for the past few months we’ve had a young person living with us. It hasn’t been a burden, it’s actually made life better. I wonder if this is what the early church believers were hoping for when they “shared all things in common”.

Paul told Timothy to teach the wealthy (most of us) to “be willing to share”. What things can we share with each other? What do you need that perhaps you could get by with just borrowing? If we reorient our thinking around this, I think it would tremendously reduce our overall debt levels.

Faith?

Faith imageYou gotta have faith!

What does this mean?

God will provide” is another variant of this idea. The idea that “faith” is a fix-all for what we don’t know and understand or a green light to pursue any desire we can dream up.

Where does the role of faith fit into a healthy understanding of my finances?

While I’m not a theologian, I have heard a lot of people using ‘faith’ language around financial matters for a long time. We’ve discussed that some people use ‘faith’ as a reason for pursing a theological education – sometimes used correctly and sometimes used as an argument for non-logical actions. Prosperity gospel teachers have also used ‘faith’ language to create an entire theological worldview where one’s physical blessings and hardships can be the result of their faith or lack thereof.

While there are many definitions of faith, I believe there is one definition of faith that will change your entire financial worldview. Let’s walk through it:

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for…”

One way I believe Paul helped explain the world was dividing it into multiple “realms”. The physical universe (your skin, bones, DNA, cells, etc.), the spiritual world (the heart, the Spirit, Faith, hope, love, peace, etc.), and the mind or your thoughts.  There are a number of examples of this (Romans 12:1, Romans 7:21-24, Romans 8:5-15, Galatians 5:16-18).

I believe when the author of Hebrews 11 (probably not Paul) is saying that faith is the SUBSTANCE, what they are saying is that it is physical thing – an action in the physical world.  This would echo what James says in the second chapter of his book that faith without deeds isn’t actually a real thing. It’s ‘dead’. Faith is itself an action based on your HOPE. Jesus said calling me “Lord” is pretty worthless if you don’t actually take my teaching and put it into “practice”.  Walt Henrichsen says we take risks in the direction of our hope. Where is our hope? Where are we taking risks?

For example, I think this definition works well with understanding salvation itself. Paul in Romans outlines a process:  Though sinful (Romans 1-3), we have justification for sins by faith (chapter 4). Hope isn’t a wish, but an eager expectation that doesn’t disappoint (chapter 5). Our hope is in Jesus (Rom 5:1-2) who is the Hope of Glory (Eph 1:11-14 and Col 1:27), saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation comes through the physical actions taken in the direction of our hope. Thus in Romans 10:9 Paul says if you take a physical action in the direction of your hope – confess with your mouth what you believe in your heart – you will be saved. Another way of saying the same thing?  Follow Jesus. Believe he is who he says he is and actually do what he teaches (John 14:15-24).

Back to finances….I believe it’s critical to articulate what I’m hoping for. This will greatly clarify my faith statements. It’s really how the scientific process works. I set an eager expectation when I construct a hypothesis. Then I take a step of faith into the unknown and begin testing (“method”) in the direction of my hope. This is quite literally gathering ‘evidence of things not seen’.

What am I hoping for in my finances?

Having more than $400 for an emergency?

Being a responsible steward of all I’ve been given?

Raising my children without endemic poverty?

Being completely debt free someday?

Going to Seminary without debt?

Paying my student loans off within 5 years?

Sending my children to college without debt?

Allowing my spouse to be able to be a homemaker?

Giving 20% of my income?

Taking a year off of work when I turn 40 to serve the hurting?

 

This can’t be hope as a ‘wish and a dream’, but rather an eager expectation. What Peter called a “living hope”.  Romans 15 calls God the “God of Hope” whom through the Holy Spirit we may “abound in hope”. Peter described hope as something we can “set fully on”. Paul described it as a product of suffering, perseverance, and character. Solomon said without it the heart grows sick.

We need to land on a specific goal, a firmly embedded hope in our heart. Then we can start by taking actions in the direction of our hope. This is an act of faith – a risk in the direction of my hope.

It can be extremely unglamorous. I have a strong hope that raising children in a stable home and remaining married to my wife will be worth it in the long run. The reality is that this isn’t the easiest or most self-gratifying way to go through life. The reality is that I don’t know what life will be like in 20 or 30 years. But I have an ever present earnest hope that my life will be better in the future if I love my wife and serve my children in the present. And so in an ACT OF FAITH, I change diapers and go to work each morning. It is an act of faith – an action believing that it will be worth it.

It’s not an exaggeration to say doing the dishes is an extraordinary act of faithfulness. This is the kind of faith that breaks down generational cycles of fatherlessness, poverty, alcoholism, and abuse.

What is my financial hope? Do I want my spouse to be able to stay home with our children? I understand it isn’t possible right now. Step one: Set my hope on that outcome. Step two: Take a physical step of faith in that direction. What can I sell? Can I work a 2nd job? Can I downsize our house or car? Can I cut our food or entertainment budget in half? Can we payoff a credit card in the next 60 days if we live on nothing?

Do you feel called to go to Seminary without incurring a crushing debt burden? That is a noble goal. Set your hope in that direction. Next, start taking steps in the direction of your hope. Have you applied to Seminary? Have you applied for scholarships? Have you applied to 10 better jobs then you have now? Have you tried doing fundraising? Have you shared your vision with 20 people?  They all won’t work, but that’s ok. We don’t know what act of faith will work unless we try. Finding out what will work or watching God reshape our hope in another direction all together – that is the miracle of the divine crashing into my finite time and place. And it will be your unique story of how God provided and your faith will be strengthened because you will have your own personal “evidence”.  “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” It always starts with an action in the direction of your hope.

When it comes to finances, I’ve often had someone tell me “you can’t do that”. The truth they are telling me is probably “I can’t do that.” I understand these are wildly taken out of context, but there are instances of Jesus being amazed by unbelief. He is saying “Why aren’t you actually doing anything?” We say “Well, because we can’t control the wind and the waves.” Apparently that isn’t a good enough reason.

Conversely, Jesus was amazed by the faith of an outsider who took action when his servant fell ill. I believe a lack of faith is refusing to take steps into the unknown in the direction of my hope. You might believe it’s impossible to pay cash for your next car. Have you considered selling your expensive car that currently has payments? Have you read any books or articles on how to do it? Have you considered driving a crappy car for 6-12 months? Have you considered what you could sell to raise the money? Have you considered driving a car with hail damage? Have you considered going with one car for a significant period of time? Have you bought a car with significantly less features for a lot less money?

I know you can because my wife and I have done all of these things. I’m happy to say we have two beautiful, paid for cars. It took my wife and me a couple of years, a string of ugly cars, several breakdowns, a few arguments when we only had one car, and an ’04 Kia with hail damage I bought for less money than I was making per week, but we did it and we’ll never go back.

I have had people use spiritual language around a financial event that causes me to wonder. They say God “blessed” them with a new car (and car loan) or God “provided” the financing for the house of their dreams.  The reality is I don’t know, maybe He did. But I do believe “The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and he adds no sorrow to it.” I wouldn’t want the blessing of your car if it came with your car payment.  My deepest desire is a greater Hope for you. I want a greater faith in the direction of that hope.

The message for me, as well as you, is that we wouldn’t settle for good enough. The good news of the gospel is that we can participate in the Kingdom – how the world ought to be. Let’s set forth with Kingdom hope and then take audacious actions in that direction.  When someone says “You gotta have faith”, I trust they have survived suffering, produced perseverance, developed character, and nurtured a hope that is deserving of that faith.

And I hope they have enough faith to take courageous action in that direction.

First Steps

hobbitWhen I’m faced with a huge task, I’m likely just to never start. That must be true not only of me but for others as well – there is even an old saying about it:

The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Interestingly, it seems like one thing God does is hide the size of the elephant and just asks us to start with a single bite.

I’m in the process of reading The Hobbit to my kids right now, and Tolkien’s tale illustrates this point in a wonderful way. The story opens with Bilbo Baggins very much enjoying his life as status quo. Between first and second breakfasts, the wizard Gandalf tricks Bilbo into hosting a party of dwarves. Through the first chapter, Gandalf ropes him into ‘an unexpected journey’ one step at a time without letting him know how big the party is going to be, his role in the adventure, what to pack, or when they are leaving. As you might imagine, before long Bilbo is locked into the quest of a lifetime.

This theme is found throughout scripture as well. From Abram setting off with an unknown destination to God sending Moses back into Egypt to Jesus disciples being asked ‘follow me’, God sends us forth in life without knowing the scale and scope of the adventure.

I can’t imagine this is an accident.

What elephants seem overwhelming to you right now? Three years of Graduate School? Your debt? Finding a job? Buying a house? Eighteen years of raising children? Becoming a good spouse? Losing weight? Kicking an addiction? Reading the Bible in a year? Running a marathon? Writing a book? Starting an organization?

These are great things in life and they don’t just seem overwhelming, they ARE overwhelming. But don’t let that keep you from starting on the journey.

The Volatility of Time

changingWhen times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.

Should I pay off my mortgage or invest in the market?

I’ve been asked variations of that question many times over the years. I’ve read many of the experts and thought about how to apply that in practical principle to my own life. The easy answer is: It depends on what the market will do. The difficulty of predicting the future is the uncertainty of it all….

Of course the root of this question applies to all personal debt, especially ‘good debt’ like student loans – both how much is ‘safe’ to take out, and how quickly should it be paid back. The problem with debt is the inflexibility of paying it off. I have a short equation to help us understand this:

DEBT + TIME = RISK

We talk at length here about debt, and we’ve discussed risk, but most of us don’t understand how Time adds to our risk. Risk is the great part of personal debt that we don’t understand for two main reasons:

  • Over time (1, 5, 10 years) when we don’t have any major pain from debt, we get comfortable with it so we stop feeling it as risk
  • Our brain is specifically bad at predicting how we are going to feel in the future

To understand risk better, we need to understand the Volatility of Time

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens

If we were to oversimplify the future, we would say it will contain good times and bad. Some times are even the best and worst at the same time, as Dickens famous novel opened. What we often fail to feel is what the author of Ecclesiastes was articulating – that life and seasons and times are full of good and bad. This is the way it is and will be but the current season won’t last forever.

Without wisdom, we humans are spectacularly bad at understanding the ebbs and flows of the times in our lives. When times are good, we double down on risks. I’ve helped a lot of people buy a house with twice the square footage after landing a higher paying job. Or when the housing market goes up, I’ve helped homeowners sell their recently appreciated house and roll the equity into a down payment for an even larger house. Of course, both of these came with much larger mortgages. It would be easy to put these people on blast if I didn’t do it myself. Working on 100% commission for over a decade, I’ve had my income either double or go in half four times. Wanting to live at peace inside that volatility has offered me a lot of time over the years to think about that means.

In addition to assuming good times will last forever, we often fail to understand the economic cycles that can undermine our ability to pay debt over time. Here are a couple of cyclical things that happen that are completely out of our control:

  • Wholesale industrial change (Newspaper jobs, factory jobs, etc.)
  • Our physical health
  • Regular economic cycles (recessions, booms)
  • Geographical shifts in availability of jobs (moving into cities, west, etc.)
  • Cultural changes (see: declining denominational participation)
  • Political stability (taken for granted in this country for several generations)
  • Supply and demand of labor (a law degree isn’t that valuable if there are more attorneys then jobs)
  • Individual companies closing (causing job loss)

All of these things are cyclical, but it’s highly likely that one of them will cause a change/gap in income in your future. It’s been widely reported that the average person will have seven careers in their working lifetime.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Living with wisdom requires living in light of both good times and bad. The danger of debt is that it presumes upon the future. Its risk is higher if you carry large amounts of it over longer times.

Because time is a variable, you can greatly reduce the risk debt brings into your life a couple different ways:

  1. Exit Strategies

Good investors figure out how many ways they can ‘get out of a deal’. If you buy a building and the market changes you can rent it, renovate it into a different use, sell it for a loss (but get out of the deal), find different investors, hold it until the market changes again, or even give it back to the lender and declare bankruptcy. The more exit strategies you have UPFRONT, the more you can mitigate the risk. Many of these strategies involve getting out NOW, should the times change in a way where you don’t want to/can’t hold the debt for long periods of time.

This is one of the scary parts of student loan debt. Because you can’t declare bankruptcy and there isn’t a sale-able asset securing the debt, your ability to get out now is severely limited.

  1. Aggressive repayment

When you pay off a debt quickly, you acknowledge time in the equation. It’s why wealthy people say the number one key to building wealth is getting and staying out of debt. Without debt, your ability to navigate a future bad time is greatly improved.

Larry Burkett told a story years ago in one of his books (that I can’t find, but am remembering from memory) of a small business owner that used a line of credit at his local bank to help smooth out cash flow. He owed around $100k on the line of credit, but didn’t consider it much of a risk because he also had around $100k in cash at the bank. This arraignment worked quite well for some period of time. Unfortunately bad times hit during the savings and loan crisis of the late 80’s and his bank was shuttered. If I’m remembering the story correctly, as the books of the bank were settled his note was called due immediately by the auditors. Unfortunately, his $100k in cash was tied up in the assets of the bank and wouldn’t be available to him for months (if not years) until all the bank’s assets (his debt) were liquidated to pay the bank’s liabilities (his deposit). Even though he didn’t lose any money (FSLIC insured his deposit), what he thought was liquid (his cash deposit) became illiquid, and what he thought he could pay over time (his debt) became due immediately. Time caused a financial emergency.

I experienced a much smaller version of this same thing when my employer when out of business about 10 years ago. Our daughter had just been born but the medical expenses of her birth were not paid by my company/insurance because the assets of the business were frozen until all its accounts could be settled. My wife and I ended up paying about $4,500 to prevent the hospital from sending the accounts to collections. A year or two later, that money was released from the company and by God’s grace we were refunded all the money we had paid.

Time presents risks that are very difficult to prepare for. The point of calling it an ‘emergency fund’ is that we don’t know what the emergency will be, but we are prepared because we know there will be one over time.

Take a lesson from the ants
Learn from their ways and become wise!
Though they have no prince
or governor or ruler to make them work,
they labor hard all summer,
gathering food for the winter.

The lesson of this proverb – the seasons WILL change. Make a plan and execute it while you have the opportunity. When times are good, reduce your risks. When times are bad remember that no season lasts forever.

Does the amount of debt I’m considering only work out if everything goes well? How aggressive should I be in paying off debt once I graduate? Make a financial plan that accounts for all seasons, both good times and bad.

How am I reducing my financial risks over the next 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?

Serious Issues require serious solutions

Hot DogsThis might be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever said, but….I had a dream last night about how we’re teaching personal finance. Aside from how Ridiculous that is, I woke up with a very clear impression. Here is the dream and impression:

I had a dream about a prep-style rally encouraging students to save money and knock out debt. It culminated with a white middle age lady in a pant suit going into a freestyle rap on the importance of fiscal prudence.

I’m sure that scene bubbled up from the recesses of my subconscious as a result of this article I read a couple weeks ago in which Indiana University representatives will at random times jump on a bus (painted with a caricature of a pig swinging on a wrecking ball a la Miley Cyrus) and hand out gift cards as rewards for correct answers to personal finance questions.

Here is (in my opinion) the problem with the strategy that Indiana University’s and other institutions who try to address financial issues with frivolity and merriment. Financial issues aren’t a light matter. While we can use humor to bring humanity to serious matters, the solutions aren’t any lighter than the core issues. This is my favorite clip of 2015. A hot dog eating contest is the perfect stage for outrageousness, but I fear that if you try to draw people into a heavy issue with a light hearted entree, they won’t stick.

I understand this makes me sound incredibly boring and old – believe me when I tell you nobody loves irreverent humor more than I do. But from my experience working in financial services for 15 years: You want your financial planner to take your money seriously. Your Realtor can wear flip flops (looking at houses is fun), but you want your mortgage banker to wear a blazer. I want my CPA to be so introverted he gets nervous looking at my shoes when we talk.

We respect ourselves more when we make respectable decisions. I want to be the type of person who takes my financial future seriously. Serious problems require serious solutions.

HOUSING for Grad Students

Dollar houseFor the majority of human beings, housing is our biggest expense. On the hierarchy of needs, shelter is one of the essentials and where/how we live truly shapes our lives. Unfortunately, for a graduate student living in an inexpensive one bedroom apartment in Denver, rental rates have climbed over $800 a month, or around $10,000 a year.

There are creative ways to reduce this expense, and they can dramatically change your financial future. I’ve put some thought into it – asked around – and gathered some alternatives to traditional housing that can save significant amounts of money.

NON-PROFIT OPTIONS

There are a number of great non-profits around Denver that offer free housing for young adults who are willing to donate some of their time in service. Here are a few that I’m aware of:

  • Open Door Ministries. ODM owns 7 homes that offer long term transitional housing for folks moving toward long term sustainability. There are a couple of options (when open) to live in one of the houses and provide leadership.
  • Providence Network. Similar model to ODM, they offer reduced or no cost housing for leaders willing to lead a home.
  • Young Life. I believe Young Life in the greater Denver area has had several homes donated to them that they use for staff. I believe this is an option for staff only, but it may be worth looking into.
  • Denver Rescue Mission. This organization offers room and board for those willing to donate a set number of hours each week.
  • Downing House. A really cool old property that houses 12 men and 12 women. Residents have to donate hours each week to ministry.

I’m sure that there are other options that are not on my radar – feel free to email those to me (dan.macleay@denverseminary.edu). These can be a fantastic way to both serve and meet your housing needs.

LIVING WITH AN OLDER COUPLE

Many people I know have used a variation of this model with fantastic results. Over and over I hear stories of people – on both sides of the relationship – who were blessed by this arrangement. Here are a couple of variations of this model:

  • Snow Birds. Homeowners may choose to live in a warm climate city for 4-6 months a year. They often pay someone to keep an eye on their house. A graduate student living in their home can be a fantastic blessing to both parties.
  • House Sitting. I know a friend who was able to live rent-free for a full year while her host family moved overseas for a period of time.
  • Empty Nesters. The average square feet of a single family home has grown dramatically over the past 50 years, and most of those homes are owned by families with the children transitioning out of the home. This is a ripe opportunity for ministry in both directions. Mature couples can speak into the lives of younger peoples about their life experiences, and young people bring life, energy, and excitement into a home.
  • There are many opportunities for live-in help with families of all sizes. A seminary student is a fantastic candidate because of their maturity, faith, and season of life.
  • Basement Apartments. Many homes have a ‘mother in-law suite’ or mini apartment. Sometimes these can be rented at a significant discount. I know of several of these that are built into a walkout basement and have their own entrance. Most people forget that living in this type of situation saves money on the other expenses that are attached to housing: Utilities, TV, WIFI, water, decorating, etc.

ROOMMATES

I spent my entire life between leaving home and getting married with roommates. I found this to be a really rewarding season of life. Even if you’re an introvert, living in community is a fantastic way to meet new people, be exposed to new ideas, and develop a support structure. There are a number of ways to meet new roommates, but here are some suggestions:

  • Connect with Incoming Students. About 55% of Denver Seminary students come from outside the Front Range. If you’re moving to Denver, this is a fantastic time to connect with someone similar.
  • This Facebook page Connecting Christian Roommates.
  • Network through your local church.. Your church community is the best context for many of these strategies. Check with a local young adult’s pastor to see if they know other people similar to you with whom you might connect.
  • Alumni Groups. I suggest connecting both with your undergraduate institution and through Denver Seminary’s Alumni These can be great starting points for connecting with a roommate or finding a church home. .
  • Off-campus housing. This web page lists many options for off-campus housing at reasonable rates.

ON CAMPUS

Denver Seminary has just over 90 housing units on campus, and they are priced about 20% under current market rates. You can choose to live with or without roommates. Living on campus is also a fantastic way to save money on transportation (most people’s second largest expense). Here is a link to that info: Denver Seminary Student Housing.

In conclusion, one of the most important things to remember is that this is for a season of life. One seminary graduate I know lived in a small studio apartment above a barn in the Midwest. She and her husband could hear the horses moving around at night, but the owner let them live there for under $100 a month including free WIFI! By living this lifestyle, they saved thousands of dollars over their time in school and now look back on that season of life with great fondness.

Reducing housing expenses will likely require sacrifice – a long commute, a lack of privacy, small square footage, or hours given in service, but remember that these small sacrifices will create great memories. They are only for a season, and your financial rewards will be reaped for decades to come.