Software Engineer In Minneapolis — Money Diary

Occupation: Software engineer
Industry: Education
Age: 38
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Salary: $89,000 (husband’s salary: $182,000)
Net Worth: -$66,432 (house equity: $200,000; personal savings: $7,900; joint savings: $25,000; 401(k) with 3% match: $105,000; personal Roth IRA: $7,000; joint Roth IRA: $53,000; personal investment account: $1,628; family HSA: $9,240, minus debt).
Debt: $475,200 (personal credit card: $1,200; student loan: $24,000; mortgage: $450,000)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,573 (husband’s paycheck: $3,747)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $3,145 (mortgage)
Monthly Loan Payments: $323 (student loan)
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Daycare: $1,885
Streaming Services and Internet: $250 (includes (Netflix, Crunchyroll, HBO, and Kindle)
Utilities: $700 (gas/electric, water, pest control, garbage)
Cleaners: $235
Investments: $250 (joint investment); $200 (529 plan)
Life Insurance: $820
Peloton: $47.53
Phone Bill: $232 (split between me, my mom and my sister. I manage the account so it comes out of my bank. My husband pays for a plan for himself and his father.)
Planned Parenthood: $15

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My family background is mostly blue collar, so the expectation was that if I went to college, it would be more for specific job training (nurse, teacher) than just a general humanities degree. I originally went to become a high school history teacher, and then after the economy bottomed out my senior year, I ended up at my current company in a customer support role. I added an associate’s in software development a decade ago and have clawed my way up through product knowledge, good luck and old-fashioned begging.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Looking back, I realize money was a very touchy subject between my parents. My dad was very frugal, whereas my mom budgeted for extravagances. My parents passed down very harsh money rules: no credit cards, buy the cheapest option you can, and have no brand loyalty. My spending habits ping-pong back and forth between austerity and indulgence; remaining disciplined when dealing with time constraints or stress is a big challenge, and I think some of that comes back to the strict and secretive nature of how my parents budgeted.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked part time through high school at a fast-food chain. Once I started college, I worked 20 to 30 hours a week at the university tech support center and worked full time at Target or as a camp counselor over the summer. Money from my high school part-time job went to social and school activities.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I grew up in neighborhoods where the families around us largely looked like mine; everyone owned their modest-sized house, had one or two older cars, went to Wisconsin Dells or Disney World for the big vacations. I felt pretty solidly middle class. It wasn’t until I got to college and heard from classmates about how their parents paid for the entirety of their tuition or rent that I realized there was lots of nuance to economic class I didn’t see reflected in my rural town.

Do you worry about money now?
I worry about money a lot now; I could win a million dollars and I’d probably still be concerned I don’t have enough in case of emergencies. We hired a financial adviser last year who projected out our current standard of living until we’re 99 and that freaked me out a lot (may I peace out in my 80s, God willing.) I feel somewhat comfortable with where our retirement saving is right now, but we desperately want a second kid. My husband is also a staunch believer in our kids having as much of an economic cushion as possible, so between daycare costs and 529s, it’ll be very tight. I love being a mom though, and I just can’t abandon the dream of having two kids if there’s a chance we could financially handle it.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’m not sure when I became completely financially responsible, as my parents always helped out when they could. They took on a portion of my student loans and paid for my dinner once or twice a semester when we’d go out to a restaurant; I paid for all other living expenses as soon as I started college. Twice I bought my parents’ used cars at a reduced price, and they lent me $1,000 once after an accident that totaled my vehicle (insurance wouldn’t cover it due to the age of the car).

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents gave me $5,000 in 2019 for my wedding. My father passed away from cancer in February 2020, and my mother gave me $25,000 from his pension for IVF the following summer. We were able to get pregnant using $5,000 of that for IUI, and the rest has gotten split up into IRA, overnight doula care (best money ever spent), and general savings and investment.

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