Curious how your spending and money management stacks up? In this series, we talk to real folks just like you, who’ve shared their tales of spending, saving, and searching for loose change.
Today, we hear from Linda, a 27-year-old sales rep for an agricultural supply company. After college, Linda chose to return home to South Georgia to be near family, but also because of the relatively low cost of living. For Linda, retirement feels like a long way off, but she’s been making regular contributions to her retirement plan in the hopes that compounding interest will pave the way to a comfortable retirement in her early 60s.
Occupation: Sales representative
Location: Valdosta, Georgia
Salary/income: $29,500 base salary + $20,000 to $30,000 sales commissions (annually)
Housing costs: $775
Groceries and home supplies: $600
Dining out: $450
Loans: $350 student loans
Health, dental, and vision insurance: $200
Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $78
Life insurance premium: $0
Lawn service: $0
Cell phone: $80
Gym membership: $0
Clothing, misc.: $400
Credit card debt payments: $350
MONTHLY SAVINGS AND INVESTMENTS
Roth IRA: $100
Savings: $100 a month (most months)
Employer-sponsored retirement plan: $123
OUR CHAT WITH LINDA
How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?
Not really. Or at least not so far. One of the reasons I came back to Valdosta, Georgia, is the lower cost of living. With my base salary and commissions, I don’t make a huge pile of cash, but I’m able to put aside some money because I’m not paying crazy city prices for everything, like if I was up in Atlanta. I put away 5% of my salary into the company 401(k), and then try to contribute to a Roth IRA, and a savings account when I get a big commission check. That ends up being about $100 a month to each, if you average it out. Not a ton, but they say every little bit helps, especially when you’re young.
If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?
Clothes and going out, I guess. I like to go out with friends a couple times a week, and I’m pretty much addicted to online shopping. But I keep it in check for the most part, I think. Still, those would be the obvious things.
What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?
I’d love to retire in my early 60s and travel. I came back home after school — and don’t get me wrong, I love it here — but there’s a lot I want to see. Maybe I’ll even retire to a sunny spot near the water. We’ll see. It’s a long way off.
What does “health” mean to you?
Staying healthy enough to do the things you want to do.
Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? Housecleaner? Grocery shopper?
Vacations. Like I said before, there’s so much to see. I’d like to take one big trip every year, if I can. I also love to run. I’m outside of town a ways, and there are so many great country roads that you can run on all year long – though it gets crazy hot in the summer. Anyway, I probably splurge on more running gear than I really need. But it makes me happy!
Do you have a financial planner? If so, explain why your planner is valuable.
Not beyond some of the free resources offered through our retirement plan (mostly online guides). I’ve gone simple with my plan so far. Just some easy index funds that I can hang on to for years and years and years. I figure as I get older I can get a planner and get more strategic.
In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you want to invest in?
A house. I’d love to have a nice place of my own by the time I’m 30. Right now I’m renting, and it’s convenient and easy, but it’d be great to have my own place that I can put my own stamp on.
What intimidates you in planning for retirement or what questions do you still have?
I don’t think about it too much. I’m a little worried because they keep saying that Social Security will run out long before I retire, so I guess it’ll be on me to make sure I’m taken care of. I’m hoping because I started early that I’ll have a nice nest egg ready for me when it comes time to retire. My only questions will be how to make a better plan as I get older and, hopefully, have some real money in the bank.
THE WRAP UP
Linda is a sales rep who chose to return home to Valdosta, Georgia, after college. At 27, retirement is a long way away, and not a major source of stress in her life. Still, she’s been putting money away regularly, a little at a time, with the idea that she’ll get more strategic about her retirement plan as she gets older.
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