A Week In Berkeley, CA, On A $169,000 Joint Income

Culture

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a communications director with a joint income of $169,000 who spends some of her money this week on pot.

Occupation: Communications Director
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 52
Location: Berkeley, CA
Salary: $105,000 + $9,000 freelance editing + $55,000 consulting income between me and my husband
Net Worth: $1,765,000 — this includes cash savings, my husband’s retirement fund, and equity in our house (minus debt below). In addition, I have a defined pension plan from my work. If I retire at 67, I can take either a $1.1 million lump sum (plus health insurance paid for life) or a monthly benefit of about $9,000 or so each month. My husband and I have been married for 15 years and our finances are completely merged.
Debt: $782,000 mortgage; $29,000 car loan; $10,000 credit card debt
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $6,289 after taxes plus about $750 freelance editing and $4,583 from consulting before taxes
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $3,592(I live with my husband, son, four cats, one dog, two guinea pigs)
Property Taxes: $1,200
Car Loan: $418
Credit Cards: $200
Cell Phones: $244
WiFi: $78
Utilities: $200
Educational Therapy: $750 (for my son)
College Savings: $300
Car + Home Insurance: $225
Life Insurance: $136
YMCA: $48 (paying half rate during COVID closure as donation)
Amazon Prime/Netflix/Apple Music: $39
Newspaper Subscriptions:
Donations: $60 ($25 to a local literary festival, $5 to a local bookstore to keep it open during COVID, $10 to a bicycle coalition, $10 to the National Resources Defense Council; $10 to Everytown for Gun Safety)
Health Insurance: $186.37 (this is pre-tax and I pay nothing for dental/vision for the whole family)
Medical Spending Plan: $125 pre-tax
Disability: $128 post-tax
Retirement: $681, pre-tax. (I pay 7% of my salary, my university pays double.)

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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?
Yes, I was always expected to go to college. Both my parents did, though my dad was the first in his family and my mom was second after her dad (her mother did not). I have an undergrad and grad degree, both from public universities. My parents paid for my undergraduate degree; I paid for my grad degree as I went part-time.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t have a lot. My dad had a good salary; my mom stayed home when I was a kid. We had a big house and went to private school, but we didn’t go on expensive vacations and rarely ate out. I used to help my mom write the checks for our monthly bills. I’d lick the stamps. There was a time when I was in middle school when some sort of investment my parents made went back. They were very tense for a year or so.

What was your …read more

Source:: Refinery29

      

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