How a Bank Manager With Three Roommates Does Money

Devon (not her real name) is a 28-year-old bank manager in Chicago.

So, Devon, tell us a bit about your finances.

I am a bank manager and I make $60,000 annually. My take-home is around $37,000. I live with three roommates in Chicago. I pay $700 in rent each month. Our landlord inherited our building from his parents and I don’t think he’s raised the rent in four years. Based on similar properties in the area, he could be charging us an extra $200-$250 each.

I love our place and I get along well with my roommates. Moving out on my own would mean at least an extra $500 in rent and more in utilities. I pay about $100 each month for utilities. This includes cable with 2 DVR boxes, Internet, gas, and electric. I’m sure that we have a too fancy cable package, but we have two separate living rooms and it makes living with 3 people less contentious when you’re not fighting between the premiere of Game of Thrones and binge watching Jane the Virgin on the one day that you all have free time.

I spent about $230 on groceries and $300 at restaurants and bars in March according to Mint. These numbers are freaking me out, since I used to spend half that.

I don’t have a car and my unlimited CTA pass comes out of my paycheck, pre-tax.

My biggest expense is my student loan payment. I have both private and federal loans from undergraduate and graduate school. Right now the total balance is around $90,000 and I pay $1,000 monthly. The only way I don’t vomit when I think about it is to treat it as part of my rent: $1,700 for rent is easier for me to mentally handle than $1,000 for debt.

Are you saving for retirement? IRA? 401(k)? 403(b)? Are you contributing the maximum amount, and do you get an employee match?

I am saving for retirement through my company’s 401(k). I save 8 percent of my pay and they match 100 percent of the first 1 percent and 50 percent up to 6 percent. There’s also a profit-sharing portion that’s added once a year. There’s about $28,000 in the account now and it’s in index funds.

Do you have other savings? An emergency fund?

I have an emergency fund. It’s actually named “What Would Mike Dang Do?” so I don’t access it unless really necessary. I also have multiple sub-savings accounts for vacations and friend’s weddings/gifts.

I’ve been adding accounts as I realize the purchases that “sting” the most. The weddings were a big one a few years ago. I found myself getting really upset while writing checks for newlyweds or buying off of a registry. I knew it was mean-spirited and that I had to change the way I approached it. Now that I have the account I just adjust the contributions that go into it with each invitation I receive. I don’t have the same stress about weddings as I did before. My plan is to keep contributing through the fall and use it as a Christmas fund.

Aside from thinking about it as part of your rent payment, do you have a plan for paying off your student debt?

My plan for the student loan debt is to just pay it as I have been. Looking at the numbers for too long makes me anxious. I’ve accepted it and try not to fantasize about what vacations I could go on with that money.

Do you budget? How do you know how much to spend on various items, and how do you know when you’ve spent enough/too much?

I don’t really budget, but I’ve been trying to. The sub-savings accounts work for me, but now I need to figure out a way to apply that to budget categories without having 50 savings accounts. I’m definitely more of a “spend now, worry about it later” person, at least with small purchases. My problem is figuring out the correct number of small purchases.

Do you feel like you’re earning “enough,” whatever that means to you?

I got a promotion and a raise at the beginning of the year. Sometimes it feels like enough, but sometimes it doesn’t. I was making $12/hour just a few years ago. Compared to that and all the anxiety that came with it, it feels like enough and I feel very fortunate. But when I start to think about all that I want to do: travel, buy a home, have children, I don’t think it will ever feel like enough.

What are your upcoming goals re: money?

Not spend $500 to feed and wine myself in a month?

Photo credit: Bert Kaufmann

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