Cash Confessional: 33-year-old mom makes $280,000 and she’s already hit millionaire status

Cash Confessional: 33-year-old mom makes $280,000 and she’s already hit millionaire status
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Our Cash Confessional series, in partnership with Bank of America, takes a personal and anonymous look into how people of all ages and incomes spend their money. Answers have been lightly edited. 

NEW! Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here


Age, education, relationship status, and living situation?

I’m a 33-year-old college graduate who’s married with a newborn. We own two houses, one in Charlotte and another vacation home in North Carolina.

Income?

I’m a chemical engineer making $280,000. This doesn’t include my husband’s income.

Are you fairly compensated?

I’m underpaid for my experience, but only because when we moved I went from a manager to an engineer (individual contributor) role in order to continue working without a gap on my resume.

Are you putting anything into savings?

Yes.We max out our 401(k)s and also put $5,000 per month into investments. We also just started a fund an account for our daughter, but I’m not sure what the monthly amount is for that.

Saving for anything specific?

We intend to take two big trips a year.

We are also considering getting a new/bigger car, but the idea of a car payment just irks me. We could pay cash, but the idea of draining that account also irks me even though that’s the type of purchase we save it for.

Net worth?

$1,670,835

I update our financials almost every month.

[Agenda related story: At what age do people become millionaires in Charlotte?]

At what age do you hope to retire?

Don’t balk, but 45!

I may not actually be retired, but I intend to be living a work-optional lifestyle.

Do your parents support you?

Not anymore, but they did provide me with enough money to pay for my in-state college through a fund they set up when I was a kid.

Most expensive night out this month?

We went to New Orleans for a wedding and spent $20 on first breakfast, $60 on second breakfast, and then $75 on a babysitter for a full day around town.

Tell me how $3.50 coffee can taste the same as McDonald’s?

We are foodies and don’t mind dropping a buck on food and drinks if it’s a place we have been wanting to try. What I mean is, we aren’t ordering the chicken.

Luckily, booze was free at the wedding, or I’m afraid we would have been in trouble.

We are still newish to this parenting thing, so when we get a free night we act like we’re in college…

Best purchase you made this month and why?

We donated to Project Night Night for my friend’s child’s birthday party in lieu of a gift, because kids have everything these days. The organization donates night-time essentials to homeless kids in shelters.

Credit card rewards strategy?

We have a debit card Kasasa account that pulls in easily $45 per month in hard cash and an American Airlines executive card.

How much debt do you have?

Just our two mortgages, which totals $330,000.

We both have pristine credit scores.

One thing you’d like to purchase that you can’t currently afford?

I’d love to add on to our vacation house. Ideally, finish our basement out or put an addition out back. We’ve had issues with contractors in the past price gouging, so we are a little gun-shy on starting that process.

Also, I hate to sound like a broken record, but we just had a baby and those guys are little time thieves! When would I ever have time to design a project like that?

No. 1 most stressful thing about your current financial situation?

Will we be able to retire as early as we want?

I feel like we are slamming money away and still aren’t moving the needle on our net worth. We’ve only gained $230,000 in value in the last year, which does not put us on track for our goal.

Reoccurring monthly expenses?

    • Nanny: $2,000
    • Mortgage 1: $1,370
    • Mortgage 2: $1,855
    • Life insurance for me: $78
    • Life insurance for him: $135
    • HOA: $195
    • Phones: $176
    • Utilities: $200

    I’m spending more on this nanny in a year than I spent on my college education for four years. Geez.

    Do you budget or track your spending?

    We used to track every purchase and learned that we spent too much on lunches out, so we fixed that.

    Then we weren’t learning anything to improve our spending habits so we stopped tracking it. At the time we used a free app called Goodbudget, since we could both track our spending into the same account.

    How do you invest your money?

    We pay someone to invest for us. We don’t have the time or energy to follow the market and do it ourselves.

    Where did you learn how to manage your money?

    My parents.

    Top three financial goals?

    • Retire early.
    • Afford a nice lifestyle without skipping things due to financial reasons.
    • Teach our daughter how to be smart with money.

    No. 1 piece of financial advice?

    Budgets will teach you so much about your spending habits, even if you are lucky enough to not worry about money in the general sense. You will be able to find an extra dollar to invest that will compound over time into what hopefully will be a lucrative future.

    I also understand that I may have come from a place of privilege by having a $25,000 nest egg to get me on my feet through college and my wedding.

    The last thing is something I learned from a family friend — they have told their five kids that they should expect absolutely no financials from their will, since they plan to deplete their own retirement funds during retirement. Their reasoning is that they set their kids up for success through funding their education.

    It’s a principle we intend to put in place as well with our kids.

    What do you consider “rich” in Charlotte?

    Rich are the people buying $700,000 houses in Myers Park and knocking them down to build a $1.5 million house!

    Are you motivated primarily by money?

    Money matters. But through the years I’ve learned that having a job I want to go to every day also matters, and so does my life outside of work.

    It’s all got to balance out! You have to afford the life you want to live, and you have to have time to live that life, too!


    Build your financial know-how with free tools and information to help you make more confident decisions. Visit the Bank of America Better Money Habits site today.

    Need 1:1 guidance on getting your finances in order? Schedule an appointment with a Bank of America specialist today or stop in your local financial center.

    NEW! Want to be featured? Go take this new 28 question, anonymous survey. We’ve recently redone the survey to give participants more freedom to showcase their financial decisions and personality — without having to track weekly expenses. To see the other installments of Cash Confessional, click here

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