Curious how your spending and money management stack up? In this series, we talk to real folks just like you, who’ve shared their tales of spending, saving, and searching for loose change.
Today, we hear from Dan, a 27-year-old healthcare professional in Colorado. Originally from New York, Dan moved to Colorado for college and fell in love with the laid-back lifestyle, and of course, all the skiing and hiking. All of this contributes to his health, an important way to stay happy, and even measure part of his wealth. Plus, he likes to work hard and play hard — mostly in the form of travel. See how he supports his present and future self.
Occupation: Respiratory therapist
Location: Denver/Boulder metro area
- Salary: $36,000
- Roth IRA: I have some saved up, but not actively contributing on a monthly basis.
Savings: $100 a month for a rainy-day fund
- Employer-sponsored retirement plan: 4% of each monthly paycheck with 25% match from work.
- Housing costs: $625, my girlfriend/roommate and I live in a condo with great amenities, so this basically includes my gym membership as well as my pet grooming expenses. In true Boulder style, we have access to a dog washing station at the condo complex.
- Groceries and home supplies: $300
- Dining out: $200
- Loans: $0
- Health, dental & vision insurance: $50
- Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $50
- Life insurance premium: $15
- Cable: $50
Lawn service: $0 – included in rent
Cell phone: $0
- Memberships if you have them (e.g. gym, massage, nails, etc): $0
Pet grooming: $0
Credit card debt payments: $0
OUR CHAT WITH DAN
How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?
It’s not difficult when I’m able to have it come right out of my paycheck. Leaving out the step of consciously setting it aside takes away the temptation to just spend it instead of saving it. I wouldn’t say I’m a wild spender, but it’s easier to spend the money when it’s still in your checking account — that’s for sure.
If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?
Probably cable TV, it’s really overpriced. And I mostly watch streaming services anyway — doesn’t every Millennial? Dining out could be considered an unnecessary cost, but I think sometimes you just have to allow some freedom in order to stay sane and keep your girlfriend happy.
What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?
My goal is to retire at 65 with enough financial comfort to be able to travel. I enjoy traveling so much in my current life and position. Once I have the freedom to travel without the consequence of missing work, I know I’ll be packing my bags and heading out the door even more than I already do. I think about those days now when I prioritize saving money for retirement. I also think about those days when I’m considering my future health. I want to be healthy enough to do all of these things I’m dreaming of, especially when I have kids of my own to enjoy those trips with.
What does “health” mean to you?
To me, health means happiness. With health, you can focus on what makes you happy. When you’re not worrying about health or the cost of health outside of the preventative measures you take, your energy goes toward happiness instead of stress. That’s why it will be so important to me to be healthy in retirement, in both wallet and body.
Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?
Online shopping and avocado toast. Like most Millennials, I enjoy getting things in the mail in a timely manner and expensive but delicious food. I wouldn’t say I overspend on either of these things, but I’m certainly not going to live without them.
Do you have a financial planner? Explain why your planner is valuable.
I have a financial planner that I have worked with for years. It’s one thing to build your own budgets, and it’s another thing to look beyond your monthly spending and start focusing on 5-year, 10-year, and 25-year plans. That’s what they’re there for!
In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you are wanting to invest in?
I want to invest in a house eventually, but at the moment I’m investing in myself. My job has flexible hours, so I’m really trying to make the most out of my time and find a profitable side hustle. I would say a lot of people my age feel that way. Once you have a house, that’s where you spend your time and money. And I think there’s too much to see around the world at this point. Also, it’s important for my health to stay relatively stress-free, and for me, that means indulging in the present moment.
What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?
Social Security. You always hear things that make it seem like it won’t be around by the time I need it. But that’s something I’ll have to prepare for the best I can, while I can. It’s all part of my “living in the moment” mentality.
Dan lives in the here and now, but he’s also looking toward the future with his savings and health. He wants his avocado toast today — and tomorrow — and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein.
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