Wealth + Health Diaries Real-Life Stories from Real-Life People, Jonah & Liz





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 41-year-old Jonah and his 42-year-old wife Liz. He is a psychology professor, and she is a vice president of marketing at a local food and beverage company. Jonah and Liz are taking the art of balancing their life to the next level. From ensuring ailing parents are cared for, to taking three kids to their activities, to work and making time to work out, there’s never a spare moment. They’re enjoying fulfilling careers, having a blast with their kids, and making moments last with their parents. It also means they are racking up a lot of frequent flyer miles to make it all happen. They plan to retire around 65, but only so they can start the next round of their life. They look forward to providing marriage and family counseling support to those in need and traveling to other countries. See how they are building up for the next act while fully enjoying and investing in the present.



Occupations: Psychology Professor and Vice President of Marketing

Industry:  Education & food/beverage
Age: 41, 42
Location: Chicago


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 Combined salary/income: $187,450

Roth IRA (per month): $0 
Savings (per month): $2,000

Employer sponsored retirement plan (per month)$2,000 (for both)


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Housing costs: $2,375

Groceries and home supplies: $1,000

Dining out: $600

Loans: $320 – home equity line of credit for renovations

Health, dental & vision insurance:  $450/whole family

Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $600

Life insurance premium: $175
Utilities: $250
Internet/digital: $130
Lawn service: $
Cell phone:

Gym membership: $75

Credit card debt payments: $0 (pay off every month)


How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?

We are playing catch-up right now, but also working toward investing in retirement from a few different angles. The traditional and straightforward portion of saving for retirement is through our collective employer-sponsored retirement plans, where the employers match up to $2,000 for each of us. As Liz has been promoted over the years, she has acquired stock in the various companies and is 100% vested. Finally, we bought the worst house on our block and have remodeled it over the years. When the kids leave, we plan on downsizing and selling our house for a nice profit. We decided early on that we were willing to give up brand new cars and a really nice house in favor of two used cars and a home that needed to be remodeled to make our retirement dreams more of a priority.


If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?

We like to take two vacations a year and enjoy going out to eat. Instead of flying a family of five, we could drive for one of the vacations and put that money as a lump sum toward retirement instead. Currently, we are saving a lot, partially for college. Once those funds are at the level we want, then we would like to start putting more money into our retirement.


What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?

We mentioned before that we love to travel. During Jonah’s work in his psychology Ph.D. program, he had the opportunity to incorporate travel with mental health work all over the world. Once we retire, both of us would love to enter into that jointly through NGOs or local organizations that work abroad. We would love to retire sometime between 65 and 70.


What does “health” mean to you?

Health bridges across multiple areas for the two of us: marriage health, mental health, and physical health. When we aren’t consciously being mindful in those three areas of our lives, we notice we start experiencing interrupted sleep, higher levels of stress, small weight gain and are generally crankier with our kids. It isn’t generally easy to stay mindful in all of these areas all the time, so we set goals quarterly that help us support these three areas of health. The goals might be as simple as weekly date nights that include biking/walking instead of sitting at a movie, encouraging and cheering each other on when we are able to get three to five workouts in a week, or just sitting and reading two books together. We try to make them achievable.


Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?

Our luxuries include not just money spent, but also time-saved or time-invested. We have a housecleaner twice a week and occasionally indulge in online grocery shopping. The deeper luxuries include money spent on either of us joining a sports league for volleyball or ultimate frisbee. We also love taking our kids on individual dates. They aren’t going to be kids forever, and we want to make sure to invest in them as much as possible.


In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you are wanting to invest in?

We just bought our first piece of commercial real estate. We’re very conservative with our investments, and it took us seven years of saving up to get to this first rung on the ladder. We’re excited to roll up our sleeves and put some work into this property to get it ready for the office rental market.


What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?

We are in the crunch right now with college for all three kids on the horizon, parents starting to decline, and our own retirement becoming much more of a reality. We are in a fairly stable income position now but, if something were to change, how do we manage priorities on where to save, invest, and spend?




Jonah and Liz are enjoying life with their kids and each other right now. They have big dreams in retirement to advance the field of mental health but are being mindful of what they need to do to take care of themselves in the present. They have just cautiously ventured into the field of commercial real estate investment. They’re armed with plenty of elbow grease and hope and are excited to start renting it out. As they move through the crunch years of their lives, they are approaching retirement with optimism and planning. Learn how to invest more in your retirement dreams here.




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