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Money Journal: 1 Week in Uptown on a $75K Salary

How far do the dollars of a 31-year-old fintech manager go?

Engin Akyurt via Unsplash|

Welcome to the triumphant return of Money Journal!

Welcome to Racket’s Money Journal series, where you can snoop on the finances of an anonymous Twin Cities neighbor. Interested in submitting your own? Email jay@racketmn.com for instructions on over-sharing the monetary details of your life! H/T to Refinery29 for pioneering a tremendous concept that we’re excited to localize.

Personal Information

Job: Manager at fintech company
Age: 31
Neighborhood: Uptown
Education: Bachelor’s
Salary: $75,000 + some occasional freelance income
Partner’s salary: N/A
Dependents: N/A
Estimated net worth: $95,000 

Debt

Credit cards: I put most purchases on a credit card and pay it off with each paycheck. 

Vehicle: I owe $640 on my 2013 vehicle (which I bought used), my payment is $52 a month at 3.49% interest. Now that I’m looking, maybe I’ll just pay it off…

Assets

Retirement accounts: $35,000 split between my Roth and an old 401k

Non-retirement investment accounts: 

  • $15,000 in a taxable account (split between cash and equity, adding about $500 a month; for general house/long-term savings)
  • $30,000 in a money market account, gifted from my mom for my upcoming house purchase

Non-retirement cash (spend and savings accounts): 

  • $5,000 in emergency savings
  • $8,000 for other spending (everything from groceries and bills to a travel fund)

Miscellaneous things: 

  • A few well-maintained bicycles
  • Most of my car (minus $640, perhaps not for long!!!)

Monthly Income

Paycheck amount: $2,217 twice a month 

Other: I will occasionally do various types of freelance work, so sometimes I bring in an additional $100-$400 a month. It’s unpredictable and I just add it to savings when I get it. 

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $588 (I share an apartment with roommates)

Utilities:

  • Electric: Approx. $20 a month per roommate
  • Gas: Between $30 (summer) and $100 (winter) per roommate
  • Internet: $20 per roommate
  • Phone: $50

Insurances:

  • Health (per paycheck):
    • $0 for my high deductible plan premium
    • $171 into my HSA per paycheck
    • $2 for dental
    • $7 for LTD, STD, accident insurance, and life insurance
  • Car: $85
  • Rental: $14

Retirement: $200 per month into a Roth IRA. My company does not provide a retirement option and I’m focusing more of my savings on a down payment for a house next year. 

Subscriptions: 

  • Racket: $5 (Ed. note: Hell yeah)
  • MPR: $10
  • Minnesota Reformer: $25
  • Spotify + Hulu: $12
  • Netflix, HBO, Apple +, Paramount+, Peacock—$0 courtesy of my former roommates who forgot to sign out of the TV before they moved

Donations: Approx. $400 a month. I split this between recurring donations to organizations, and then some flexible funds I’ll put into GoFundMes or other one-off asks from my network. 

Money Talk Q&A

Did your family talk about money growing up?

Not really. A lot of money stuff was just implied.

Did you worry about money growing up?

I grew up really worried about money because my parents always seemed worried about it. It wasn’t until I entered college that I realized that, while my parents didn’t make a lot of money, their parents both had pretty lucrative careers and had saved a lot, and passed a lot of it on to them around when I was leaving high school. 

But my grandparents also passed on their anxiety about money. My mom’s dad in particular was a very classic Depression-era guy who was extremely frugal with his money—no extra spending, despite a pretty hefty income, because you never knew when it could all go away. That meant that he saved a lot for his kids to eventually inherit, which helped my mom buy her house, and which in turn is helping me buy my house. 

While my mom has gotten more comfortable and relaxed about money, my dad has always been super frugal (and often unemployed). He didn’t pay child support for a while after they separated, and there was a period where he didn’t keep much food in his house—I remember calling my mom to say I was really hungry one time. She immediately called him and it wasn’t a problem after that. 

So, I guess, it’s complicated. 

At what age did you become financially independent?

Once I graduated from college. My mom has certainly helped me since (see: house gift, and help with some medical expenses as well). But I was already working a few jobs by my senior year of college, so I was able to keep myself afloat once I got my diploma. Her generous help has always been extra on top of what I’ve needed to make it through. 

How did you learn how to budget your life?

My original budget was simply fear. Every purchase was terrifying, and I felt guilty any time I spent money. To be fair, when you’re making $12,000 a year out of college, it’s not an ineffective strategy!

But honestly using You Need A Budget kind of turned things around for me—being able to see what I actually had saved to spend on things made me feel less guilty and more prepared. I am not being paid to say this; I just love YNAB. 

Have you ever received inherited income, major financial gifts, or large insurance payouts?

Yes—parents (well, grandparents really) paid for college. As mentioned above, mom is providing some down payment funds, and stepped in when I was going through some big medical stuff with about $6,000. 

Do you worry about money now?

The anxiety is still there. I try really hard to just be like “I have enough, I have enough. And even if I don’t have enough, I have a family who will help.” 

But it’s hard to kick it, even when you have a well-paying job, stable housing, etc. In 2014 if I had known I’d be making $75,000 a year, I would have been like “Why the fuck would you be worried? You’re rich!!!!” But here we are. I guess it’s not just me!

How much do you think a person or household needs to earn to live comfortably in the Twin Cities?

It depends on what comfortable means to you. $75,000 means I’m really comfortable. I can pay my bills, save for important things, buy my nice cheese at the grocery store, travel a solid amount, can deal with some chronic medical stuff. But I also don’t have kids, so that would be a big difference I think. 

Money Journal

Day 1

9 a.m.: $100 for therapy. My therapist doesn’t take insurance, but she gives her LGBTQ patients a sliding scale. 

8 p.m.: $58 for a new tire for my bike. The old one was rotting! 

Total: $158 

Day 2

1 p.m.: $51.30 at CVS for two prescriptions that I thought would be free. I spent an hour on the line with my insurance company only to have them confirm that, due to an extremely complicated formula, I’m responsible for this amount. Health insurance is a scam. 

4 p.m.: $11 for plants from the Whittier plant sale. 

Total: $62.30

Day 3

9 a.m.: $7 for iced green tea lemonade at Spyhouse. I fucking hate that place, but my friend suggested meeting there. Off to the DFL convention, should be boring!!

1 p.m.: It was not boring

6 p.m.: Buy a gift card to Watershed spa for my friend’s grad school graduation ($117). Drink a weed seltzer to chill the eff out after what happened ($6). 

Total: $130

Day 4

1 p.m.: $112 charged for annual AAA membership.

4 p.m.: $84 at the grocery store.

4:20 p.m.: $38 for a variety of THC seltzers at Hum’s. Continuing to try to chill out.

Total: $234

Day 5

$0

Day 6

$0

Day 7

1 p.m.: $314 for medical visit. This person is out of network, and is helping me with some chronic health issues. Can’t wait to try to submit this to my insurance for reimbursement—I have to send it to a P.O. box in L.A. S-C-A-M. 

Total: $314

Grant total: $898

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