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.
This month we meet Christian. I’ve known Christian for almost a year and can say with certainty that he’s one of those guys that always has your back. As a numbers guy, Christian has really clear financial goals that he’s working towards, which is awesome!
Hey! My name is Christian, I enjoy trying new foods, volunteering at an animal shelter, playing volleyball as often as my knee will allow it, and singing Barbie Girl at the cool age of 26. For work, I’m an analyst at a cable and media company. My life revolves around TV ratings and Excel files. As far as debt, I’m fortunate to not have accumulated too much. Although I went to a private institution which cost more than my family made a year, growing up in a low-income, middle-of-no-where town helped with need-based financial aid. My grades through scholarships paid for most of the rest. I finished my bachelor’s owing $10k for school and $12k on a vehicle.
How would you describe your current financial situation?
It’s probably more secure than my peers, but not as secure as I would like it. I’m saving the suggested 10% for someone my age in my 401k but I acknowledge my personal costs are too high and I want to do more investing. Dating has been an expensive ‘hobby.’
Do you consider yourself to be money-savvy?
I hope so! I have a degree in Finance. The issue is the gap between being mentally savvy and practically savvy. I have the knowledge, but I haven’t followed through with my own advice. For example, I’ve met the amount my company is willing to match for my 401k, but I haven’t opened up a ROTH IRA with the remaining contributions I’m putting up. Not to mention I want to put aside a sum to dabble in the stock market.
What financial advice would you have wished to hear when you started working?
Open a ROTH IRA at the same time your open your 401k; both of which are better sooner than later. Had I done it from the beginning of my 401k I wouldn’t be facing my own personal laziness. What’s a ROTH IRA? Basically, it’s like a 401k except instead of paying the taxes when you’re old you pay them now while you’re young. The taxes on a 401k are assessed as an average of your highest X years of employment. So as long as you don’t think you’re paying the highest amount of taxes while you’re young, you’ll end up winning out.
What financial achievement are you most proud of?
Opening a 401k while paying a $400 monthly payment on my car. I don’t own a fancy car, I’m just putting money towards the principal beyond my normal payment to cut the time of the loan and total interest paid. Maybe I should have included that tip in the previous question…
What expense can you not live without?
Xbox Live. As sad as it sounds, it seems to be the only way I keep in touch with my group of guy friends from back home. Bros don’t exactly call each other and talk about feelings as much as I would like. I look at this as an investment in friendship. Everyone needs their release and way to unwind.
What expense could you potentially cut down on?
Food. By far, food. Cooking is much healthier and cost efficient than eating out every day during the work week. Not to mention, depending on your cafeteria, following a simple recipe can often time be much tastier than what’s available. Weekend outings also contain too many unnecessary food costs.
What are your long-term financial goals?
Becoming a homeowner. Spending money on rent is senseless when one can be putting money towards an asset, a home. As long as you find a place you’re willing to settle down for a few years, homeownership should be seriously considered. As soon as I finish paying my car off, I want to save those funds for an eventual home down payment.
What are your short-term financial goals?
Within the next 5 years, I want to live somewhere with a lower cost of living. Currently, I live in South Florida in a 1 bedroom apartment by myself. My salary is in the range it should be, however my living is not. I recognize that I’m not tied down by a family and I need to take advantage of that while I can. By lowering my cost of living I can save more AND have that sweet Camaro I’ve wanted since I was a child without impeding my long-term goal of home ownership.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Use your resources. There are always people who are more than happy to explain things to you that they wish they had explained to them. Whether it be a designated colleague for “life questions” (mine is awesome), your parents (love you Dad), or a friendly HR representative (health insurance did not get the best of me), there is someone in your life that will lend a helping hand. Those first few years on your own can be tough, but they lay the foundation for the rest of your life. Just know you’re not alone. Your friends are probably having the same thoughts. Shoot, the fact that you’re reading this blog probably means you’re ahead of your friends. Cheers.
Liked reading this? You can find more Two Cents here.