Leaving the Family House While at School

By Mike

leaving homeI previously mentioned that I have been with the same girlfriend since the age of 15. We actually moved in together at a young age. As I was the only child in my family, I was fortunate enough to have my parents’ basement entirely to myself. I had a small kitchen, a pool table (that was actually my dining room table ;-) ), my TV with PlayStation and a huge double sized bedroom. I had asked my dad if we could remove the wall between 2 small bedrooms. I was lucky enough to have my own entrance and garage (the previous owner was renting the basement as a bachelor apartment). Life was great as a 16 year old teenager :-D

While still in college, my girlfriend moved into this little paradise.  Therefore, I had to trade my pool table for a real table and establish a schedule for my Playstation time (it is crazy what a girlfriend can make you do ;-) hahaha!). We were 18~19 at the time.

We lived at my parents’ house for another 2 years or so. Because we all have strong characters, the living arrangements became uncomfortable after a while. At one point, there was too much tension in the house. I really love my parents and they were getting too involved in “our” lives. We wanted to leave yet we were still in school, my car just died (literally!) and I didn’t have a penny saved as I was coming back from a semester as a foreign student in living in France.

My dad came to me one day and said: “So what are you going to do son? It is not like you are able to afford to buy another car and pay a rent”. My dad has always been a great man and I really get along with him. However, at that stage of my life, I really needed to fly with my own wings and he wasn’t ready to let me go. He thought I wouldn’t do anything since we didn’t have the money.

I guess I surprised him and ignored the facts and felt that I was able to do anything I put my mind towards at anytime. When I was born, emotions such as fear, anxiety and low self confidence were apparently missing in my brain and they haven’t being acquired over time! So my girlfriend and I decided to pack our gear and move on.

Looks like credit cards can be useful sometimes”¦

Back then, we had two old cars. We put them for sale in order to create a small emergency fund ($1,500 is not much but it is better than a slap in the face!). My car wouldn’t start anymore but I was able to sell it for the body. It was a very nice looking 1981 BMW 320i. A retiree gave me $800 so he can work on the car and drive it on sunny Sundays.

Since I spent 6 months in Europe, I had built myself a pretty strong credit bureau for a 20 year old student. I had 5 credits cards each with $1,000 limit. Here’s how I used them the very first month:

#1 put cash down to rent a new car (we couldn’t afford to pay for mechanical breakdowns anymore and we needed a car to work)

#2 pay my tuition (I knew that the only way I would be able to pay back my debts was through a good job. Education is the key to a good pay cheque!).

#3 pay my girlfriend’s tuition

#4 and #5 were left empty in order to transfer the balance from one card to another, withdraw money to make payments on other cards. They were basically a source of cheap financing (close to an emergency fund.)

My girlfriend started working 6 months before me. It really helped in maintaining our budget. We were about to go over the edge because our credit card debts were killing us with their high interest rates. At the time, I didn’t know about the 6 month limit to 0 APR transfer credit cards so I ended up paying more than full price over 12 months.

This wasn’t a financially comfortable situation. However, we were free and happy. We were fortunate enough to avoid bad luck during that year. Each month, I would juggling credit card balances switching them from one card to another in order to make the minimum payment everywhere and keep a good credit rating. In North America, a good credit rating is your key to access financing and cheap interest rates. I just couldn’t afford to destroy this.

I finally finished my bachelor’s degree and started working right away. I actually had my last exam on Sunday and started my first job the next morning (no celebration for me”¦ couldn’t afford it!).

During that summer, I worked 6 days a week, doing overtime when it was requested and trying to do my best to keep my job. Each penny earned over our student budget was used to pay off our credit cards. So, we lived within our means for 3 months and we paid off $4000 of debt.

I have learned one very important lesson about personal finance from this experience:

Set your goals and be faithful, no matter what is your present situation, you will reach those objectives. Don’t be afraid to move on and do what you really want to do. Feeling great is much more important than having money and feel sorry for yourself!

image source: Blue Square Thing

22 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Leaving the Family House While at School”

  1. Sheila Says:

    I’ve read this through a couple of times (checking the header of my reader to make sure I was actually reading the blog that I thought). This is what I got: you lived with your girlfriend from a young age, you disrespected your father, you used credit cards unwisely, and YAY, it all worked out. From the About page for this blog: ‘Gather Little by Little is a personal finance blog with a Christian perspective.’ Is Gather Little by Little no longer a blog with a Christian perspective?

  2. Mike Says:


    I find you pretty quick to judge someone after a post. I didn’t disrespected my father. Actually the full story is way more complicated than this.

    Being a Christian doesn’t mean not having dispute with your father from what I recall. I always respected him and we are really closed together. However, we went through a tougher period in our relationship at that time. While I was paying my credit cards, he was actually the one who gave me my 2nd job and I’ll be forever thankful for that.

    Maybe I didn’t express myself correctly. I just wanted to share that even when you are deep into debts, you can succeed paying them off through hard work and keeping faith. Nothing related to disrespecting your family and feeling good about it. I didn’t really enjoy having to leave the family house this way. But this is how it happened and I had to deal with it.

    I hope you understand better my point of view. And I intend to keep the Christian perspective..

    Take care,


  3. Jin6655321 Says:


    I get what you’re trying to say, and I admire your ability to sacrifice a comfortable and stable life for your own freedom, I’m sure you learned a lot from your experience!

    However, I also see Sheila’s perspective… I just think this post was little bit too soon. We’re still getting to know you. You have to understand that, to a stranger who doesn’t really know you, your situation, and your character all that well (yet), it sounds a little like, well… like what Shelia said.

  4. Billy Says:

    It’s hard to determine who is writing on this blog. When the previous owner brought in someone else to write some posts, it was never stated who was writing. The previous owner stated in his last post that the other writer who had been writing for him would also write for the new owner. Who knows who is writing a particular article? I guess I need to go back and read some of your old posts because I didn’t know you have had the same girlfriend since age 15 or really anything about you.

  5. Sheila Says:


    I’m very sorry you found me judgmental. You are right, I don’t know you at all. You have to understand that all I know about you is what you put in this post. There is nothing in your post about your faith. I felt you disrespected your father because you didn’t want his input even though you and your girlfriend were living in his home rent free. I will not comment in the future.

  6. Michelle Says:

    Hi Mike,
    I haven’t commented in a long time but felt the urge to do so today.

    This post is quite a bit different from what we’re used to reading here. I don’t think anyone means to be judgmental, but as Christians we are supposed to speak the truth in love. That’s my goal here.
    Living with your girlfriend without marriage is directly against God’s will.See Matthew, Ephesians & 1 Corinthians. God gives us this instruction in order to protect us from hurt, to protect our children, to honor Him, and also as we’re to be an example of Christ and the Church to an unbelieving world.
    Having said that, I think you are probably a very gifted writer with a firm grasp on the frugal life. I hope this doesn’t offend you but will cause you to search your heart.
    Many blessings!

  7. Mike Says:


    in order to help you out knowing who wrote what, you can see who is the author on top. There is Stew (the writer who was previously writing on this blog). He is still writing (3 days a week actually).

    Then, there is me, Mike, aka the new guy ;-) Each post will be identified so you know who is writing.


    Please feel free to comment anytime. I love getting feedback from my readers, it is very important to me. I didn’t take your comment personall. We all have to learn to know each other through my posts and your comments.


    My girlfriend was going through a tough period of her life back then and living together seemed to be the right choice in order to help her. However, we also got married at a very young age (about a year after moving from my parents’ home).

    I now realized that I might have surprise a few people today and will definitely be more careful in the future :-D

  8. Michelle Says:

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the note back. I appreciate your promptness. If you’d ever like to discuss Christian living further, just email me!

  9. Christine Says:

    From reading comments before, I understand that those reading in the rss reader don’t see the author’s name at the top. I don’t read that way, so I don’t know if it’s true or not. Even reading from the blog, I have to remind myself to look to the right to see who is writing. It could be done better, I think.

  10. Liz Says:

    Everyone, Corinthians 2:14 says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

    We believe in true love and we need to accept the situation. What I can see is that Mike has loved his girlfriend since the age of 15. This is not an usual situation, living with his girlfriend without marriage, but I believe in a second chance. We do not know the whole story. Let’s put all this aside and learn from him.

  11. sarah Says:

    I’m with Sheila in that I did double (and triple) check my blog reader to make sure I was reading the right blog. Based on the distinct Christian positioning of this blog through gblguy and Stew’s writing, I expected that would continue with the new owner. One of my favorite things about GLBL is that it has been a place for me to be encouraged and challenged in both my faith and in my finances.

    As others have mentioned, this post seems to contradict some of those fundamental beliefs (ie The Bible clearly states that living together before marriage goes against God’s will in all circumstances. Both the original post and comment seem to find it acceptable given the situation).

    I went back and read your introductory post from a few weeks ago and realized that post did not mention your Christian faith and beliefs. Since this post has raised some questions, I would be interested in a clear post on what you do believe and how your faith influences all areas of your life.

    Please note, the reason for this clarity would be to line up your reality with the stated direction of the blog. There are other pf bloggers I read (and enjoy) whose religious beliefs I know are different than mine. The difference is that they have not stated that they are sharing from a Christian perspective.

  12. cindy Says:

    I agree with Liz. And 1Corinthians 6:11 says, “And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and in the Spirit of our God”.

    There is forgiveness and cleansing in the blood of Christ for the repentant sinner. God will forgive those sins and heal them.

  13. John Says:

    Practice of men and women living together without the commitment of marriage is common nowadays. There are numerous reasons of social reasons for the rising practice of cohabitation. I believe in God and I don’t think that living together before marriage is an offense against God’s law!

  14. Mike Says:

    I am a Christian, no doubt about that. However, I do not think, like in any other religions, that there is an absolute about faith and belief. I don’t see myself as a sinner because I have lived with the person I loved and helping her solving her personal problems before we get married. It’s all relative to where one has been raised and how religion was thought to him.
    It was important for me to get married and having my children to be baptized. I also intend to teach them about my faith and beliefs. However, I may not have the same Christian perspective than others on this blog. This was one of the big reasons why I have decided to keep Stew (besides the fact that he is an amazing writer) and make sure I learn from him and from you guys.
    I hope it clears up my intention toward this blog. I want to keep it with a Christian perspective but I can’t hope to write like Larry since I am not Larry”¦
    Thx for your comment.


  15. Gina Says:

    Mike, thank you for letting me know that you too have been bit by those snakes called ‘credit cards’. I will not judge what happened in your personal life. NONE of us are saints either (Romans 3:23). The decisions we made at 18 may or may not be the same decisions we would make at 38 or 58 or 98 (1 Corinthians 13:11). Good post!

  16. Four Pillars Says:

    I felt you disrespected your father because you didn’t want his input even though you and your girlfriend were living in his home rent free.

    Sheila, give the guy a break. He was 18 and disagreed with his Father? That’s perfectly normal.

  17. Susie G Says:

    Wow. I too had to double and triple check who was writing and what blog I was on. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising it would be so different without GLBL guy and we will all have to adjust accordingly. I would like to read Mike’s definition of a Christian sometime. For some reason, Abraham Lincoln comes to mind (You can please all of the people some of the time … )

  18. Susie G Says:

    PS – I also wondered if anyone was working and how the rent and regular bills were getting paid!

  19. Carrie Says:

    I think what bothers people about this story is that you act like it was okay for the two of you to live together. You could have said something like, “We decided to live together, although now I know this is contrary to God’s will.” Why didn’t you get married then instead of waiting a few years?

  20. Billy Says:

    Mike, thanks for responding. I see the author’s name at the top now; however, I read the blog via email and it does not show who is writing the article. It would be nice if it did.

    I think we need to give Mike a little break here. Not all Christians think the same things are wrong i.e. living with his girlfriend. Also, it seems the ladies who posted responses have a problem with the relationship between Mike and his father. Guys will tell you that all men have disagreements with their fathers around that age…I know I did. It doesn’t mean we don’t love or respect our fathers, it just means it’s about time to get out on our own. If not then we’d all still be living at home.

  21. No Debt Plan Says:

    Had to comment — I’ve got a 1978 320i that I’m in the middle of fixing up. Sorry you had to let yours go back in the day!

  22. Mike Says:

    No Debt Plan,

    Send me a picture once it is back up on the road! this will bring back some great memories ;-D

    I still miss it!