Wealth + Health Diaries Real-Life Stories from Real-Life People - Mark

Janice James tkc.profilePicture Written by: Janice James | Transamerica
May 28, 2019

5 Min readClock Icon

Curious how your spending and money management stack up? In this Wealth + HealthSM Diary, 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 Mark, a 38-year-old former actor who lives in Los Angeles. After trying to break into the Hollywood ranks and waiting tables to make rent, he recently accepted a full-time position at a television studio.

Admin at a TV studio
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 38
Location: Los Angeles
Salary/income: $48,000

Housing costs:
$800 (I share an apartment with a friend.)
Groceries and home supplies: $300
Dining out: $400
Loans: $0
Health, dental, and vision insurance: $150
Auto, homeowner, and umbrella liability insurance: $50
Life insurance premium: $0
Utilities: $80
Internet/digital: $150
Lawn service: $0
Cell phone: $80
Gym membership: $0
Clothing, misc.: $300
Credit card debt payments: $1,000

Roth IRA:
Savings: $50
Employer-sponsored retirement plan: $250


How difficult is it for you to put money away for retirement? Have you had to give up anything?
One of the reasons I accepted this full-time position was the benefits this job offered, including an employer-sponsored retirement plan. I hadn’t saved anything for retirement until now. My job is entry-level, so I’m not making as much as other 35-year-olds. In order to build up my retirement account, I’m going to have to watch more movies at home instead of going out.

If you had to put away more money for your retirement, what would you cut out of your budget?
Until I make more money, I will likely have to cut down on my dining expenses. As a foodie, I still want to have some budget left for restaurants, but I know I’m spending more on that now than I can afford.

What are your retirement goals? What age do you want to retire? What do you want to do in retirement?
I certainly don’t want to be working until the day I die, but aside from that, I don’t have a clear retirement goal. Now that I’m settled into my new job, I can start looking toward the future. I could see myself eating out, traveling to international destinations, and maybe attending foreign film festivals in retirement. We’ll see.

What does “health” mean to you?
Along with improving my retirement savings, I’m also trying to build up my health, including my physical and mental well-being. Going to auditions and having inconsistent work in the past was very stressful. Now that I have a consistent schedule, I’m working out right after work at the company gym (another benefit offered free of charge from my employer). I also like to go to the beach on the weekends and try to find some peace and quiet, which is good for my soul.

Are there luxuries that you always need to include in your budget? House cleaner? Grocery shopper?
I guess my biggest luxury is dining out. Since it’s something that brings me joy and is a bit of a hobby, I don’t worry too much about the money I spend.

Do you have a financial planner? If so, explain why your planner is valuable.
I have an appointment in a couple of weeks to meet with a financial planner for the first time. I’m looking forward to some advice about how I can fast-track my retirement savings and get caught up.

In addition to saving for retirement, what are some of the big picture items you want to invest in?
I’m not someone who wants a house with a yard, but I like the idea of having my own condo someday. The housing prices in the L.A. area are really high, so I’ll have to see what happens in the next several years.

What intimidates you when planning for retirement?
The thing I’m most intimidated with is just how far behind I am in saving for retirement. I guess it’s better late than never, so I’m just trying to take it one day at a time.


When Mark changed directions for his career, he realized he wasn’t where he should be in saving for retirement. Now that he has a consistent paycheck and schedule, he looks forward to creating a plan and working on it with the guidance of a financial planner.

Neither Transamerica nor its agents or representatives may provide tax, investment, or legal advice. Anyone to whom this material is promoted, marketed, or recommended should consult with and rely on their own independent tax and legal advisors and financial professional regarding their particular situation and the concepts presented herein


Tags in this article

Financial Planning Financial Stability Life Span Retirement

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