For today’s Money Snapshot, we’re talking salary, net worth, debt, and more with reader Jules in Nashville, TN, who works as a financial professional. She noted, “I pay for as many expenses as possible on a credit card and pay it off immediately. But I keep the amount needed to pay off my card in a high interest savings account at all times. I’ve been jobless before and like the extra cushion.”
We got a few requests from readers to launch our own “money diary” series, so we’ve asked willing readers to fill out a form with lots of details about debt, spending, saving, and more! If you’d like to fill out the form and be considered for a future personal money snapshot, please click here to submit your response! You can see a PDF of the questions if you want to review them ahead of time. See others in the Personal Money Snapshot series here.
Please remember that this is is a real person who has feelings and isn’t gaining anything from this, unlike your usual friendly (soul-deadened, thick-skinned, cold-hearted, money-grubbing) blogger — so please be kind with any comments. Thank you! — Kat
Location: Nashville, TN
Occupation: Financial professional
Net worth: $307,000
Net worth when started working: 16 started work, no net worth; 17, -$20,000 student loan
Living situation: Own home; $1,050 + $125 in HOA fees monthly
What does your debt picture look like?
$164,000 — mortgage
How did you pay for school?
Scholarships, worked three university jobs, a loan, required parental contribution, and food money from parents.
Do you own or rent? How much do you pay monthly?
Own home: $1,050 + $125 in HOA fees
Home debt: Share your theories and strategies with us (including any that lead you to rent rather than own).
This is my second home to own. I first bought at 25. Ownership was cheaper than renting, and that was a brand new home. I have a 30-year fixed. I don’t pay extra. I have just been putting money toward making upgrades instead. One day I may switch to paying more toward principal, but I don’t think this is my forever home.
Have you paid off any major debt?
I paid off my student loan in three to four years. I dumped any extra money I had on it. I took out a loan for my car but used a credit card for the points as much as possible, and then paid the the rest off in two to three months.
Have you ever done anything noteworthy to avoid or lessen debt?
I have an overly large rainy day fund.
Savings, Investments & Retirement
How much do you save each month or year in retirement vehicles like 401Ks, Roth IRAs, and others?
8% to 401(k), at least $500 to savings that gets converted to a Roth or Traditional IRA at tax time
How much money do you allocate to other tax-savvy investments/accounts like HSAs, 529s, FSAs, and others?
$50 each month to HSA
How much do you save outside of retirement accounts?
At least $500 or whatever I have left over each month. It’s automated, but I do some manual savings too.
Talk to us about investments. Do you have/use a financial adviser or planner?
I don’t have an adviser or planner. I do a little of everything, but have half in index funds. I’m still learning investing.
Do you have an end goal for saving or are you just saving for a rainy day?
My goal was to rebuild my emergency fund. Now I’m shifting to retirement.
When did you start saving seriously? How has your savings strategy changed over the years?
The moment I graduated. I haven’t changed.
What’s the #1 thing you’re doing to save money, limit spending, or live frugally?
Sometimes I feel like a spender, but I look at what other people spend each month and realize how frugally I live in comparison.
Do you have an estate plan in place? A trust?
I’m working on it.
How much do you have in cash that’s available today?
How much do you have in cash that’s available in a week?
How much is in your “emergency fund,” and did you include it in the previous question?
How much do you have in retirement savings?
How much do you have in long-term investments and savings (CDs, index funds, stocks) that are not behind a retirement wall?
If property values (home, car) are included in your net worth, how much are those worth?
Car, maybe $9,000; home, $250,000
How much do you spend on the following categories on a monthly basis?
Restaurants, bars, takeout, and delivery: $50–$200
Clothing and accessories: $0–$200
Transportation: $50 + $30 insurance
Rent/living expenses: $1,700
Other major expenses: Travel
Health care – premiums and other costs: $0
What’s your spending range for these things? What’s your average?
Vacations – Range: $200–$1,000
Vacations – Average: $1,000
Charity – Range of donations: $1,000
Charity – Average donation or giving amount: $50 to various organizations plus a larger amount to one org
Fill in the blank on this question: I could save _____ if I stopped ______, but I don’t because _______.
I could save $50 if I stopped eating fast food, but I don’t because it’s a convenience.
At any point in your life to date, has inheritance played a role in your money situation?
How has your family provided financial support in your adult life, if any? (Or, do you provide support to them?)
My parents gave me a car to use in college. I drove it for more than 15 years. And they paid the amount required for my college.
What are your favorite resources for personal finance?
My parents. They showed me how money works from the time I was very young.
What advice would you give your younger self about personal finance?
Put things in writing. I had a couple of costly mistakes when it came to friends and money in the past.
Icons via Stencil.