New Series: An Inside Look at YOUR Finances!

If there’s one thing I like more than checking out my *own* finances, it’s being a voyeur and checking out OTHERS’ finances too, haha… it doesn’t even matter if they’re rich or poor or have no idea what they’re doing at all – it’s just a rush to see how other people live and manage their money :)

So today I thought we’d start a new series where we post up someone ELSE’S finances here on the site, and then we all help to critique it.  I get emailed alllll the time asking for my own opinion and thoughts on peoples’ situations, but I’m only one person with my own set of preferences and knowledge/etc, so I figure let’s open it up to the rest of you too so we can get a plethora of advice going on! :) Everyone helping everyone out, you know?

We’ll kick off our first one here with a look into our new friend, “George’s,” finances. He had emailed me earlier in the week for my take on it, and I was pretty impressed with what was going on there.

Check it out and let us know what you think:

The Family:  George (29), Wife (25), Daughter (3mo)

Emergency Savings $15,000
Regular Savings $10,000 (savings for bigger house)
Checking $6,000
My 401k $17,000
Wife’s 401K $1,000
Roth IRA $600 (brand new, Betterment)

Condo $132,000 (worth $150,000)
Cars $0.00
Credit Cards $0.00
Student loans ~$100,000
Term life insurance for George $1.2mm
Gross Income per mo $10,833
My 401k per month $354 (up to company match of 5%)
Wife 401k per month $225 (up to company match of 6%)
Medical insurance $226
Taxes $1,940
After tax income $8,088
Wife stock purchase plan $188 (up to company max of 5%)
Savings $1,083 (10% of gross)
Tithing $1,083 (10% of gross)
Total Net Take Home $5,734
My IRA $316
Other fixed expenses $2,385 (includes mortgage, HOA, utilities, student loans, car insurance, gym membership, life insurance premiums)
Other variable expenses $2,222 (includes $300 fuel, $806 food, $1,116 miscellaneous)
Total Surplus $811 (usually added to savings)
Monthly Use
Giving 10%
Savings/Retirement 20%
Taxes 18%
Expenses 44%
Surplus 7%

The J. Money Report:

Nicely done! Lots of saving and investing going on, and seems like y’all have an incredible system down. Even with a nice chunk of change leftover every month! That’s gonna be the total X Factor here to your continued success, in my opinion. I think dropping it into savings is perfectly fine for now, even though you’re already dropping 10% off the bat, but at some point you’ll have to figure out how to get rid of the rest of that nagging $100,000 in student loans currently staring you down :(  You can’t really save your way out of that, I’m afraid…

Other quick notes from my point of view:

  • Emergency Fund: $15 grand is nothing to sneeze at, but I’d run the numbers and see how many months that lets you survive in the worst case scenario of losing all streams of income.  You probably want to shoot for 3-6 months depending on your level of comfortableness, and from the looks of your budget there, it seems that would only cover a little over 2 months unless you start tapping other areas like your extra savings and/or investment accts which you wouldn’t want to do. ($5k in expenses each month + $2k in taxes = $7k/mo to live, outside of any future saving).
  • Cars and Credit Cards: That’s hot!!!  Keep those balances at $0.00, baby! :)
  • Student Loans: That’s NOT hot, haha, but of course important for all your degrees, etc… I’m not sure how much of that variable expense category you’re putting towards them all, or how much your interest rate is for that matter, but either way it may be smart to have a good game plan going on behind the scenes. I wouldn’t hold it against you at all if you used a big chunk of that extra $800/mo towards it – you’re already saving and investing 20%.  Just an idea…
  • Monthly income: Not sure how many of you work in your family, and for how long/week, but that monthly gross income is great for your ages :) Almost $130,000 a year!
  • 401(k)s: Yes, brilliant – keep it up. Matching up to your company’s maxes is by far the easiest and quickest way to double your money, and you don’t even have to do any work! It’s FREE!
  • Life Insurance: That’s killer man! (Pardon the pun). Your family will be more than fine with $1.2 Million there, and some may even say it’s *too* much. But I think it comes down to what makes you feel safe and secure, so if that’s the magic number I say stick with it – esp. now that you have a wee one (Congrats!). I actually need to double check mine too – thx for the reminder ;)
  • Wife’s Life Insurance? I may have missed it, but I don’t see any insurance for your wife – I’d probably pick up some if it were me just in case, but def. not like yours at $1.2 Million. The wife and I both have equal amounts just in case, but I’m not sure actually what the rule of thumb is for this stuff… maybe someone else here knows?
  • Tithing: Good for you guys, that’s awesome :)  I need to be better about this myself.
  • Miscellaneous: This category looks high in your “other variable expenses” area, but then again mine always does too as I’d rather see a bigger chunk there than a million smaller sub-categories to have to deal with, haha… So I guess just a word of caution to make sure it doesn’t get too out of hand as the years go by :)

Overall score: A! The only thing holding me back from the + at the end is that nasty student loan egg sitting there ready to be killed. I had my stank face on the entire time reading that, haha… The rest though?  Pretty dope.  A great monthly income paired with a sweet below-your-means living strategy. Y’all should be proud! Keep it up!

George also passed along this little trick after some emailing. Maybe it’ll help you too?

“One thing we do with our variable expense budgets (food, misc.) is give each one a dollar amount per person per day of the month.  So food is like $13 per person per day.  That accomplishes 3 things. 1) We can go light during the week and enjoy some dinners out on the weekends with the surplus, 2) It takes into account the number of days in the month.  We’re going to spend more on food in August than we will in February just based on day count, and 3) It locks a value in instead of letting it float as a percentage of our income. No need to spend more on food just because I’m making more money.”

What do you guys think about all this?  Anything stand out for the positive or negative?  Does it make you want to email me YOUR stats too?  Haha… feel free to as I’ll need lots more to review if we decide it’s a series we should def. continue! ;) Hope you guys enjoyed this!

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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More August 8, 2012 at 7:07 AM

    “George” you are off to a great start. The main things I see are the student loans (but hopefully they’re at a fixed rate less than 3% in which case I’d pay them off as slow as possible) and I didn’t see somewhere where you are saving for your daughter’s college. If you plan on paying for it start saving now to alleviate as much pain as possible down the road. You have room to swing the savings for it and it’ll help immensely down the road. Best of luck and awesome job so far!

  2. William @ Drop Dead Money August 8, 2012 at 7:15 AM

    That’s awesome! Definitely an A! (And bully for you on the tithing!) Wish our finances looked that good when we were that age! :)

    As long as you can resist temptations to “upgrade” (eat better, dress better, drive better, etc.) you’ll do great. If those are your earnings at this stage of the economy, it can only get better. When that happens, do like J says and attack the student debt!

    Only recommendation I would have is to add another savings account just for the car(s). Those are mechanical devices and will need to be replaced sooner or later. Nice to have the replacement budget in a separate account when that times comes…

  3. MadlyClumsily August 8, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    J, this series is awesome, I can’t wait to see more. That tip from George about dollars per day for food sounds like a winner, and I think I’m going to try it.

  4. Joe @ Retire By 40 August 8, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Sorry, but I’d give George a B. They are doing very well at this time and are saving quite a bit of money, but their net worth is quite low for the income. Maybe they just started working/saving?
    This is a cool series, I’ll have to send in my info. :)

  5. Brian August 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    First the positives…

    1. Great job on giving
    2. Great job on having no consumer debt other than the house.

    Now some not so positives:

    1. You are a little behind on retirement savings. You are doing great getting the free money from the company match, but this could be beefed up. Time is your friend on this one and the sooner you do this the better
    2. Holy student loan! But like others have said, if you are a lucky one and have a low interest rate no point in paying extra.

    More positives and suggestions:

    1. You have a great surplus each month that could be used to kill off either your student loan or your mortgage when you have a comfortable E-fund. Keep it up!
    2. I don’t know where you live, but you may be able to cancel that gym membership and use local parks for runs and enjoy the outside. I know I pay my “fat tax” every month and barely use the gym in the summer since it is so nice outside.

    Overall you are on the right track and a few tweaks here and there and you’ll be doing even better!

  6. Whiskey & Peaches August 8, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Great work George. The only thing I have to add to what’s been mentioned is to begin discussing “college savings” for your little one! She may be only 3 months, but as with retirement, it’s better to start now than later.

    I’ll be a new father in February and have begun researching 429s, etc – that’s why I thought of it.

  7. Greg@ClubThrifty August 8, 2012 at 9:14 AM

    I have to agree with Brian. I think you guys are doing a great job in many areas and big ups to having no consumer debt. Of course, the student loan is a big thing, but with the giant income you are making you should knock that out in no time. I would second the fact that you should use some of your savings to snowball that biotch. However, I’d look into increasing that 401k contribution. Combined, you are only saving for retirement at a rate of about 5.4% of your income. Most people would tell you to bump that up to somewhere between 10-15% before your company match.

    I’d also say your variable expenses seem a little bit high. You are making a lot of money, but you seem to be spending quite a bit of it too. Over $1,000 a month on miscellaneous expenses seems to suggest that you are spending a lot on yourselves – which is fine. You’re in a good position, but you aren’t completely debt free and are saving for a house. Also, your food bill of $800/month seems high for 2 adults and 1 child. We have a family of 4 and budget $400 – but we eat cheaply. I think if you really look for ways to cut those expenses down, you’ll free up a lot of money which you can save to knock out your student loan, then save to buy a house.

    If you really crack down on this, you might even be able to pay CASH for a house in 5 years or so – depending on where you live and if you’re willing to live in the condo a few more years. How sweet would it be to 34 and 30 years old, debt free, and owning your house free and clear? With the amount of income you bring in, you would be wealthy in a hurry – and probably be able to retire way early. Good job!!!!

  8. Pauline August 8, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    I agree with Joe, savings are a bit low, but they are young and may have started only a little while ago. Otherwise good job!
    I am definitely a voyeur too and love to have a peak at other’s people wallets, but would like to know a bit more about them too (job, education, living area…)!

  9. K @ Get Worth August 8, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    J, love the new series. Analyzing a family’s finances has always been my favorite part in financial magazines.

    As for George, that is a pretty good looking stat sheet. I’d say the emergency fund should be built up a little, unless he is comfortable with the higher risk of only 3 months worth. The student loans are a little bit of a ding but as long as they are set at a loan interest rate, it’s not a huge deal. Make sure to get that full company match on everything possible. The 529 account is the only thing I can think of that is missing. Well done George, well done.

  10. Stephanie August 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I hate to say it, but I’m going to have to agree with Joe on this one, I’m actually surprised by the net worth situation, given the income level. Of course, they are in a great position to be really well off in the future, and I’m super impressed that they chose to live in such an affordable home at their income level. But what’s up with that $800/month food billl? I feel like my husband and I eat very well – lots of fresh, healthy, homemade meals – at well under half that!

  11. Will @HackingTheBank August 8, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    There are definitely some good things going on. Since both of you are working I think the $15k emergency fund is good enough for now. If it were only one of you working, you would probably want to consider upping it.

    I’d have to agree with Joe though, definitely a B at best. Net worth is -$40k (includes house in there at $150k – selling fees – 132k mortgage). Since you’re behind on retirement I’d consider sending more of that “savings” to your retirement accounts (probably Roth IRA). If the condo is enough space for you, I’d try staying there for a while. Unless you want to sell it and rent the house you want. I just think you have some other things on your plate that you need to tackle before moving to a bigger house.

    I know I may get attacked for this, but I think your tithing is pretty high considering that you could definitely use that money in other areas why not. And then in 5 years when you’re in a better financial place you can restart the tithing at an even higher %. Just something to think about, but this will totally depend on your priorities.

    (Definitely liking this series though, keep them coming)

  12. Emily @ evolvingPF August 8, 2012 at 9:37 AM

    I like the idea for this series, J$! But I think there should be more detail given by the participants. It’s great to give a net worth check, but without a breakdown of the fixed and variable expenses in the budget, how can you and the readers suggest ways to tweak the budget to better meet the goals of the submitter? George has a great savings rate, but other people will need suggestions for how to save more. And aside from saving up for a new house, we don’t really know what George and his wife’s goals are. Do they want to save more aggressively to make up for their late start saving for retirement? Do they want to move in the immediate future? Do they want to create a spontaneous giving fund? Do they need to buy a minivan ;) ?

  13. Erin S August 8, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    I would run one of those debt calculator comparisons on the student loans. I recently did that with my student loans and the difference in interest by adding just $50 to $75 a month to my payment was HUGE! If I had an extra $800/month, I would definitely be paying that down a lot faster.

    I love the idea of this series. I was just thinking yesterday what J Money would think of our finances as I tried to figure out our budget, again. I’m slightly afraid of getting an F though. :) I would definitely need more of a form to follow, otherwise I would forget to include things for sure.

  14. Bridget August 8, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    Why did you give them an A? Don’t they have a negative net worth? And does anyone else think it’s completely irresponsible to have a baby when you owe $100K in student loans???

    I’m also surprised by $806/mo on food for essentially two people.

    Though there is that $800 a month surplus — I’d use 1/4 for savings and 3/4 to kill that six-figure student loan debt. Christ that’s scary.

  15. "George" August 8, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    “George” here, thanks to everyone for the great feedback, and to J$ for the post!

    It sounds like I left out a few details to help each of you understand our story in entirety. Here a few data points to help.
    – our student loans are at 6.8% fixed in a consolidated gov loan. Would love advice from Lance on how to get those to 3%!
    – definitely a late start on savings. I was irresponsible, financially, through my 20s. My wife brought $20k in credit card debt into our marriage. We paid that as soon as we were married.
    – gym membership is $89 for wife and $99 for me. Hers can definitely be curtailed. My is at a CrossFit gym and it’s a personal passion of mine – my only ‘release’ throughout the week.
    – on top of the gross salary noted in the post, I also have a bonus target of just under $30k each year. That will supercharge savings/paydowns/etc.
    – the Miscellaneous budget is just a placeholder. So many things such as license plate renewals, hospital visits, birthday gifts, travel to see family once a year, etc can come up. We budget for $1,116 but hope for much less and add it to our savings.
    – our food budget is on the higher side. I earmarked it against the USDA expectation for feeding a family – and then added a small premium so that we can enjoy a meal or two out each week. Some of our best family time is found when other people prepare our food and we just get to enjoy each other.

    I’m completely open-source about our details, so please ask away. Each of your advice is greatly appreciated!

  16. SMB August 8, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Love this new series! I was also surprised that their retirement accounts are pretty low, but looks like they’re working on that.

    I can’t wait to send in my info – just scared to see the responses since my emergency fund is down to nothing after buying a house. So kudos to “George” for putting his info out there!

  17. Laura August 8, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    I am totally jealous of the dual incomes and no daycare expenses. :)

  18. RichUncle EL August 8, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I think the first place to start is to get the misses to increase her 401K percentages a 1000 dollar 401K balance is just too low, I assume she is working and making some decent money as she is contributing to a profit sharing plan. The second thing I would do is multipy the wifes income by 10 times annual pay and get that exact amount in life insurance. 10 x income is the standard. The third thing is attack the student debt with a mixture of surplus, tithing, and misc income. I applaud you for giving back a good amount, but I believe your family’s financial foundation is more important.

  19. Jen2 August 8, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Yeah, where are the daycare expenses? Mine are the size of a heafty mortgage.

  20. Mama August 8, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Looks good.
    But, wife MUST get life insurance. Even if she doesn’t work outside of the home (though I think she does since she contributes to a 401k), it is essential to have both parents insured. Many people overlook insuring the stay at home parent, but they have to realize what it would cost to have someone else do the child care and housework in the event they passed away, and that is why insurance is necessary,
    I am all too familiar since my sister in law died at 34 leaving 3 very small children. She wasnt working and was not insured, and I think my brother in law has been playing catch up ever since.

  21. "George" August 8, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    No daycare expenses. My wife works from home and takes care of our newborn at the same time (she’s amazing). She also comes from a big family with a lot of helpers – so we’re very fortunate on that front.

  22. My Money Design August 8, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    They are doing incredible. Anyone who has their expenses under 50% is on the right track. I’d like to see them tighten it up and go for [Expenses + Taxes] < 50%. I'm also impressed by how much they give each month.

  23. Walnut August 8, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I would pay close attention to the ‘miscellaneous’ spending category. Do you have subscriptions hitting your credit card monthly that you no longer need or use (especially post-baby?) I would also draft the amortization schedule for your student loan and start paying that down rapidly.

    One last item, being that you just had a baby, have you talked to an accountant or played out the various scenarios on how much you actually owe in taxes? It’s not a bad idea to meet with an accountant during the non-busy season to make sure you are withholding appropriate amounts to cover your tax obligations and not giving an interest-free loan to the government.

  24. Devan August 8, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    Great series J – I would like to send you my information so that my finances can be viewed. Is there a form to fill out for this?

    George – great job on your finances. Even though your retirement may seem low you are still young and now that you have the right focus on finances, you have time as a positive for you with compound interest.

    Even if the student loans are have a low interest rate – 100k is till quite a bit. I’m not sure what your profession is but if you’re a public worker student loans can be forgiven after 120 payments.

    Overall good job and continue to build your family net worth!

  25. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager August 8, 2012 at 2:06 PM

    Check out ReadyForZero when it comes to tackling that student loan debt. It’s a pretty amazing resource.

  26. brooklyn money August 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    6.8% is a high student loan rate. I didn’t see what you are paying down on that, but you are probably paying a good amount each month in interest and are accruing interest each month, right? I would be freaked out w/ that much student loan debt, even with your high salary. And I would really focus on paying that down.

  27. "George" August 8, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    So many great opinions on this post – thanks for all of your generous feedback! While I’m still letting all of it marinate, I’d like to focus on one theme that is omnipresent in the posts: the student loan debt.

    I’d like to make paying this down a priority above most, if not all, other savings/investing. The loans are fed consolidated loans at 6.722% fixed rate. I haven’t looked into refinance, but some comments assert that I can get a much better deal than this rate. Would you mind offer your recommendations on where to refinance this and what rate I should be paying? Thanks!

  28. Debt Free Teen August 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Looks pretty good but I would totally focus on that student loan and put off some of the other savings. That is huge burden to continue to keep that debt!

  29. SavvyFinancialLatina August 8, 2012 at 4:43 PM

    I would also give it a B for the student debt. However, I would understand othe100K debt if you just finished law, med, or dental school.

  30. SavvyFinancialLatina August 8, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Good series J$! You should make a template so other people can submit their financial history.

  31. "George" August 8, 2012 at 5:05 PM

    Clarification – student loan debt was for grad school – MBA program at the best biz school in the region.

  32. AverageJoe August 8, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    There’s nothing here on disability coverage. Everyone worries about life insurance. That’s valid, but there’s a far greater statistical chance George or his spouse will get disabled and that could leave them in a real bind, especially in a one-income family.

  33. J. Money August 8, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Wowwww you guys KILLED IT with the comments and advice today, I’m so impressed! This is awesome!! And totally encouraging for our new series here, it’s safe to say it’ll continue ;) It’s one of my favorite things in financial magazines too, as K @ Get Worth pointed out, and I think seeing stuff in REALITY is a lot different/better than reading about things in theory too. Just the stone cold facts, ya know?

    And bare with me with my new grading system here, haha… I’m a softee right now but I bet overtime I’ll get better and better at reflecting more accurate grades! ;) Though I still kinda sorta stand by my A with this one… Maybe a B+ after reading all your commments, I dunno…

    I like the idea of making a form to fill out for future participants as well. It would also keep things nice and structured for us and we’d get everything we needed to make fair judgings. WHAT, exactly, those are though I’m not sure of… George pretty much just gave up what he thought was important – and to me it was enough more or less – but I think we’ll have to put more time into it and see what we can come up with :) In the mean time, just shoot me an email with as much info as you can/want and we’ll go from there: j (at) budgets are sexy (dot) com. Thanks!

    (Emily @ evolvingPF – I don’t think we could ever get all of your suggestions in there, my friend, as that would take FOREVER to go through and comment on! Haha… I think less is more for what we’re going with here, which is pretty much just a general snapshot of things we can all easily chime in on… it won’t solve all the issues of course are brought up, but it does give an overall picture and the reader can always go into more details in the comments section just like George has done here too, know what I’m saying? Great concerns though for sure :))

    George – Glad you’re finding this useful! I hope someone talks more about how to get your student loans lower too – I don’t have any experience in that region but I’d agree more than 4-5% is pretty high. Thanks again for being the motivation behind this new series – I think we’re really onto something cool here :)

    @Erin S – Better email them on over then so we can all take a look and tell ya! ;)

    @Bridget – I don’t think it’s horrible to have tons of money in school debt, ESP since he’s obviously making a crap ton now to make up for it… and “irresponsibility” of having a child? Come on now, I don’t think finances should play a huge part in that decision there if you want to grow your family. Yes it’s important, but shouldn’t be a deal breaker in my opinion. If it were 75% of the populatin would never even be here! And George & family has crazy amounts of potential anyways with their money situation – they can turn their extra $800 anywhere they want to help with the crappier departments like student loans…. I highly (for once) disagree with you ;)

    @Mama – That’s so sad about your sister in law! I’m sorry to hear :(

    @Devan – Shoot me an email for now as I don’t have a form just yet :) j (at) budgets are sexy (dot) com

  34. Slackerjo August 8, 2012 at 6:20 PM

    I am glad George/Mrs.George/Baby George are doing fine but I cannot relate to a post about a family with a $10,833 monthly income. Ten years ago I made that in 7 months. Any advice is about tweaking finances, not fixing something that is really not that broken.

  35. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap August 8, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    You’ve already received a lot of great advice and I echo a lot of what others have said. The $30k bonus should help you a great deal to pay down that student loan. I would attack the student loan with a vengeance if I were in your shoes.

  36. Lance @ Money Life and More August 8, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    George, those low low rate loans were from a particular point in time and I don’t know how people got them. I just know I’ve seen people with rates that low on Suze Orman’s show… My girlfriend personally has 6.8% fixed and then variable from 4.75 to 8.25% (ouch).

  37. B Simple August 8, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Paying down the debt is important as other have suggested. But one area I do not recall others suggesting is having your will updated or even drafted. You should have an updated will to make sure that your daughter is cared for by the individuals you and your wife agree upon. You want to do this in case something happens to the two of you.

  38. Mrs PoP @Planting Our Pennies August 8, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    George doesn’t mention how much the premiums for his $1.2mm life insurance policy are. I’d be more inclined to drop that down a bit (what does your company provide? Mine is 3 years salary, which is more than enough to pay off all of our outstanding debt…) I’d rather see those payments go towards the student loans or additional retirement savings.

    Also – any savings for the little one yet? Maybe start an education fund for him/her?

  39. Elisa August 9, 2012 at 12:18 AM

    Wow, if George is 29, and behind on his retirement savings… I (at 40) am _really_ behind (which I knew, but this just makes it sting a bit more) I think I definitely will be living in a cardboard box under a bridge! From my personal perspective, I think he is doing great, and things can keep improving (like killing that student loan). Perhaps check back with George in 6 or 12 months to see what changes or progress has been made…? And that would be for all folks featured in the series.

  40. Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter August 9, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    This series will be awesome! Yeah, the student loans suck but yay for a solid savings level! I am pretty much with J on everything. :-) Good luck with your future George!

  41. Stephen H August 9, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    My wife and I make similar money to your family, and overall finances are similar. I have less student debt but a 2nd mortgage I want to pay off. I commend you on your tithing, personally that is the first line on my budget and everything else falls underneath it – keeps things prioritized. Some people complain about your emergency savings, I agree just move over your new home savings to your emergency fund which now gives you 25k and a solid emergency acct. You technically only “spend” 5000k a month (fixed/variable expenses) so 25k would easily cover 5-6 months of expenses. If one of you lost your job, you would stop retirement funding/IRA and your tithe would reduce as a result of less income.
    I personally think that you guys are going to have to make a decision, buy a new home or pay off your student debt. If you choose to buy a home first, I would be putting down 20% on that home then you turn your entire focus on paying off that student debt. Also can you keep your current place as a rental? Make sure you refinance to get that rate as low as possible before you move out if you want to be a landlord.
    If you want to feel better about your food budget, we actually spend more than you do, for 2 of us!!!! Its sad I know, we love food and neither of us are overweight, we eat at home all week and eat out on weekends. Our groceries are actually pretty crazy because we buy a ton of produce and minimal processed foods ie coupons rarely help us. It is actually the only area I feel we need to cut back since we save at 25-35% of our take home for future purchases, tithe 10% of our gross, plus invest nearly 7% of our gross pay + 3% add from employers. Once we purchase our next home, will shift some our “savings” to retirement investing.

  42. MoneyGeek August 9, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    I love this idea! I’m far from offering any advice, but I would still love to read other peoples stories as well.

  43. Bryan August 9, 2012 at 6:10 PM

    Assets look pretty solid. I’m assuming they started late which is not bad but they should have more in savings if he’s pushing 30. I would sell the condo and throw the profit at the student loans! That’s too much debt for a young family or have some type of plan setup for repayment.

    Good job on no car or credit card debt. The budget looks good, but personally, I would be throwing the savings and tithing to the student loan debt!

    Fixed expenses looks high–see if you can trim in utilities, car insurance, gym membership, etc. Food looks high! Thats $200 a week! – what are you eating? Try to have vegetable only days

  44. Romeo August 9, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    J, great series. Well, great start to a great future series.

    I don’t know what all the fuss on the student loans are about. In THIS situation, the student loan wouldn’t be my biggest concern. $100,000 going into investments or continuing to build savings would be my priority. It appears that there is no financial stress whatsoever in keeping the loan around at this point. But, there would be a big concern if after paying $80,000 of this debt he were to get laid off.

    The thing that the couple has going for them is the time value of money. Why rush to pay $100,000 down just to yield, what, $800 more per month? The interest is fixed…I hope. So with time, the loans will go away…eventually, and when the couple is ready.

  45. Allison August 10, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    I don’t know your wife’s exact work at home situation but you may want to plan for childcare in the future. When my daughter was 3 mon old I was able to work from home and care for her at the same time but as she got older and moved around more and needed entertainment it became near impossible to get any work done.

  46. J. Money August 10, 2012 at 6:18 PM

    Great stuff guys :)

    @Slackerjo – We’ll have some here that doesn’t even come close to that amount of monthly income, believe me ;) I plan on posting up all kinds of ranges and situations over time, so some people may be able to relate to, and others not, but hopefully at least we all glean something from ’em all.
    @B Simple – Good one! We REALLY REALLY need one too as we have zilch right now and just dread getting started :( But with our new baby now here it’s much more important we get this knocked out.. thanks for the reminder to everyone!
    @Elisa – That’s an interesting idea actually :) Maybe do recaps on everyone 12 months later? Hmm… I kinda like it. A lot.
    @MoneyGeek – Feel free to send over YOUR details too at any time if you want ;)
    @Romeo – Great comment my man, we do tend to go batty over big numbers like that but you’re right – if the $hit hits the fan you’d much rather have $100k in savings/investments than zero debt which you can’t pull any money out of… thanks for stopping in! And glad you like the series – we’ll def. be continuing it :) See you at FINCON again? Hope so bro.
    @Allison – That’s what I’m scared of! Right now it’s easy to watch him here and there while he sleeps, but once he’s going all over the place there’s no way I can do work at the same time :( But I realllllllllly don’t want to pay $2,000+ for childcare a month either, bleh. It’s gonna be a tough choice when that day comes, that’s for sure… we’re def. starting to plan now for it – whichever way we end up leaning.

  47. Zach @ The True Generalist August 11, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    I feel ya on the student loans. I had $120,000 worth of them when I graduated! But now, after 8 years, they’re under $40,000 and will be gone within 4 yrs! For me, there are two parts to these loans…

  48. Zach @ The True Generalist August 11, 2012 at 9:55 PM

    1. Emotional: I really hate having so much debt! I want it gone and out of my life and stop anchoring me down!
    2. ROI: If you’re loans are 6.7% int rate, how well are you doing in the markets/401k? If you’re positive you can make a more than 6.7% return on money invested in the market or matches in your 401k, then it makes more fiscal sense to keep investing the money rather than throwing additional into the loans.

    What I did: I picked an age. I don’t want any more loans of ANYTHING that’s not giving me a positive cash flow after I am thirty five. For me, it was realistic and timely, so I structured all of my loans, car and student loans, to b paid off by that date. This helps me plan my future investment contributions too!

  49. J. Money August 13, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Love that bro, sounds like you’ve got a great plan going on. I’m huge into the emotional side of things too, which is why I keep pummeling away on my mortgages. It’s gonna feel SOOOO FREEEE when those things are out of my life! Much rather have that feeling than 3% more saved up in my investments or something ;)

  50. Kelsey August 13, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Man, really loving his tip about the food budget. Food is probably the biggest non-bill expense we have, and it’s constantly a struggle to keep that budget down. His savings makes me feel inadequate, though… =[

  51. J. Money August 14, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Awww, well you’ll figure out a good system at some point – we all do :) Just a phase ya know? And actually, our food spending is pretty high too lately so we need to do some better tinkering around as well… it never ends! ;)

  52. Shey August 19, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    This is my first time commenting, though I read your blog all the time! I truly love the idea of this series! Its nice to read about your financial savy skills, but its also nice to see how others handle their money, and to hear your thoughts on their financial skills.

    Though I’m only 20, and dont even really have a real income yet, I find these break downs to be fascinating. I hope reading and learning all these things from your blog will stick with me in the future!

  53. J. Money August 21, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Awesome! Thanks so much for reading and dropping your first comment – how does it feel? Haha… I hear ya loud and clear on these types of posts too – I’ll be getting ready for another one here soon – stand by! :)