Welcome back to Two Cents, a Q&A series that reveals how individuals of different ages, cities, and professions feel about their current financial situation.
Like me, Jim has a huge benefit in that his biggest NYC expense isn’t rent. Instead, he uses his savings to travel and enjoy life, all while paying his future self (aka saving), which I think is great. Jim is the perfect example of someone who understands that wealth is used not for accumulating money, but rather to enjoy experiences with the people around you, which is very apparent should you ever spend a day in his presence. Hope you enjoy his Two Cents!
Hello! I’m Jim, a 25-year-old adventure seeker, from NYC and working for an insurance company. That’s the kind of job an adventurer has, right? Anyway, NYC is a fantastic place, especially when you are a young adult, in the early years of your career!
How would you describe your current financial situation?
I live at home and doing so has been a great boon for me financially. For the tradeoff of chores and keeping it down late at night, I am living rent free and predominantly bill free. Though living on my own would have its own set of benefits, living with my folks makes so much more sense financially.
Public transit in NYC is my main mode of transportation. The subway has a monthly metropass option that I swear by! For $120 a month, you get a metropass that allows you to ride as often as you like. Let’s do the math!
- A single ride is $2.75 and I ride it twice a day just to get to work, so I spend $5.50 ($2.75 x 2) a day.
- I go to work five days a week and there are four weeks in a month, so just to go to work, I end up spending $110 ($5.50 x 5 x 4) a month.
- This means that I need to just ride the subway around four more times in the month to break even.
This is a great deal if you know that you will be riding the subway regularly. Trust me, I always break even each month and almost always get a few free rides.
I go to a reasonably priced gym. I originally picked it because it was one of the closest and affordable gyms near my apartment. After doing some more research, I found that I get a corporate discount through work. Instead of paying $76 a month, I only pay $49. Not the cheapest option, there is one option that is $10 a month but is out of the way for me. The gym I chose is close by (which means I will actually go) and it has many different classes offered for free to members, including a pool!
Besides investing money in my 401(k) (I am maxing it out, future Jim better appreciate this), the only other item I consistently invest in is food. I like to go out to lunch on work days because it allows me to get some fresh air away from my desk and I don’t always have time to prep meals the night before. Lunch on average is $10. Weekends and nights that I go out, I spend a little more, somewhere between $25 and $45 (depending on where I go and if I have a drink or two). Also, on a somewhat frequent basis, I will treat my office to snacks. This normally happens if I am looking for an excuse to venture outside or just trying to be nice.
Travelling is probably where I spend the most money. This isn’t a frequent event so the financial blow isn’t too bad. If it is practical to drive, then I will just borrow my parent’s car. Any other time, I will take a train or plane. I already hear the readers, “What about a bus?” The answer is “no”. I am taller and larger fellow and find that buses are very confining, offering very little personal space. Plus, the idea of being stuck in traffic or having the bus break down makes me extremely anxious. Yes, trains and planes are a bit more expensive, but I find that I get to my destination faster and with less anxiety than I would on a bus.
Do you consider yourself to be money-savvy?
For my purposes, yes! I do admit that I am probably not maximizing my money saving efforts and that there are ways for me to reduce my spending. I do, however, rarely feel like I have spent my money poorly. When I know what I want, I know what I will pay for it.
What financial advice would you have wished to hear when you started working?
The Powerball numbers back when it was valued at $1.5 billion.
If not that, then “don’t be afraid to ask questions”. If you don’t know something that you feel you should know, look for guidance! An educated person is going to be able to make their money go a lot farther than someone who is just winging it.
What financial achievement are you most proud of?
Paying rent for the first time. This was when I started to transition out of feeling like a student and more like a young professional. It was empowering to see that I could pay my rent (and utility bills) and still have money to invest in my bank account.
What expense can you not live without?
My travel preferences. I enjoy how I travel and it would take a lot to convince me to change that.
What expense could you potentially cut down on?
Buying snacks for the office and eating out for lunch.
What are your long-term financial goals?
Buy my own car and house/apartment.
What are your short-term financial goals?
Donate my old clothes and get a new wardrobe.
From the comedian Daniel Tosh, “’Money doesn’t buy happiness.’ Uh, do you live in America? ‘Cause it buys a WaveRunner. Have you ever seen a sad person on a WaveRunner? Have you? Seriously, have you? Try to frown on a WaveRunner. You can’t!”
Though I do not plan to buy a jet ski or quote Daniel Tosh again anytime soon, I feel there is a lot of truth in this statement. Money on its own can’t bring you happiness, but if there is something you know you need or will make your life better, see if it is a feasible investment! When you earn your own income, you’re allowed to spend it how you like.
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