I’m 29, I Have A $230K Joint Income & I Job Hop To Increase My Salary

I’m 29, I Have A $230K Joint Income & I Job Hop To Increase My Salary

Occupation: Marketing manager
Industry: Life sciences
Age: 29
Location: Chicago
Salary: $130,000 (plus a $17,000 annual bonus)
My Husband’s Salary: ~$83,000 (His income varies because he’s a freelancer.)
Net Worth: $18,798.23 (personal checking: $2,122.47; combined checking: $1,287.33; personal savings: $22,043.35; 401(k): $75,840.43; Roth IRA: $8,170.58; crypto: $206; HSA: $943.07; car: $20,000; condo value: $48,925; my husband’s assets: $50,000; minus our home loan below.) My husband, F., and I have been together for eight years and got married last year. We split most of our household purchases equally, including groceries, which go on our “family” credit card. I pay for his health insurance as well as car insurance. F. had a very old car he sold this year, and I bought a new car, which I paid off, and we share it. We contribute $1,800 a month to our shared checking account and keep our personal checking accounts separate.
Debt: $210,740 (home loan: $179,096, combined student loans: $31,644)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,020
My Husband’s Paycheck Amount: varies
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,388
HOA Fees: $340.53
Student Loans: $1,000 (Only $230 is due, but I overpay so I can hopefully pay them off in the next year.)
Internet: $10 (My work reimburses me $40 a month.)
Gas & Electricity: $40–$80
Phone: $82.44
Car Insurance: $99.64
Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: $234.40 (This covers me and F. and is not a shared expense.)
HSA: $83.32
Liquid Savings: $1,000
401(k): $1,200
NYT Cooking App: $5
Netflix: $16.88
Spotify: $16.34 (family plan)
Apple iCloud Storage: $2.99
Peloton: $12.99
Wine Club: $45 (This is technically an anniversary gift for F. I got him a wine tasting journal and the wine club membership, so we can do home tastings every month.)

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, but not necessarily from my parents. My dad never finished college, and my mom didn’t end up using her degree, so my parents never made me stress over academic success. However, I attended an academically rigorous public school, and it was 100% the expectation that all graduating students attend college and earn high scores on the SATs/ACTs. I went to a private liberal arts university that was definitely not cheap. I paid for part of it using $25,000 in settlement money I received from a childhood injury. My parents paid for what they could afford, and I received financial aid and merit scholarships. When I was a senior, I ended up making one of my tuition payments using money I earned at a summer internship. When I graduated, I had $27,000 in student loans. In 2023, I got a job that increased my salary by 75% and I’m currently using some of my additional income to aggressively pay down these loans. I don’t want to carry this debt into my 30s. I feel incredibly lucky to have had a manageable loan amount through my 20s but am very hesitant to pay for more higher education, like an MBA, at this point.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents did not educate me on money beyond telling me to put money into my savings — and then never following through with making sure I did so. My parents owned their own business, and it didn’t fare well during the economic crises of the 2000s. They got into business debt and in over their heads on a mortgage, which led to a lot of financial instability. When there were conversations on money, they were always about not having enough of it, which was wildly confusing considering we lived in an upper-middle-class community. Tax-advantage accounts and employer 401(k)s were totally foreign to me when I first started working. I still feel like I’m behind on my financial knowledge and have a feeling I’m holding on to cash that could be invested in a money market, but I feel overwhelmed and unsure if I’m making the right decisions to grow wealth and build financial security.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting when I was 12 and continued to do so beyond college to make supplemental income. I was THE babysitter in my neighborhood and, at one point, had five families on my roster. Because we lived in an upper-middle-class neighborhood when I was prime babysitting age, the cash was consistent and gave me enough spending money for clothes and other extra things. I never saved any of it.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I worried about money every day. I want to make it very clear that we were not poor, but we were financially unstable due to my parents’ business decisions, which is something I’ve spent a lot of time unpacking in therapy. We moved houses and schools several times because of that instability, and it led to a lot of stress and uncertainty in my adolescence. I found my parents’ financial struggles embarrassing and would try to hide it by keeping up appearances with my babysitting cash. Because my parents did not focus on saving for retirement, I worry about their money situation even now.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. I have worked incredibly hard to build my own financial safety net. My first job out of college paid $38,000. I know what it feels like to agonize over a grocery bill and the cost of socializing with friends — I don’t take my current lifestyle and income for granted. I also know lifestyle creep is a real thing and I try to keep myself in check as I continue to advance in my career. I feel lucky that my partner and I share similar financial goals, and we prioritized buying a condo over balling out on a wedding recently. Owning our own place makes me feel very safe and secure! I do worry about whether or not we will have enough to support a family one day if we make that decision together. I’m aware that that sounds absolutely ridiculous because so many people raise families with far less. I just don’t want my kids to grow up with financial instability.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I graduated from college, I had a full-time job lined up, which started one week after graduation. Because I interned a little bit, I had about $1,000 in my bank account and didn’t have to start paying my student loans for a few months. At this point, I became financially responsible for myself. I paid my rent, health insurance, travel — everything except for my phone bill. I got off my parents’ phone plan two years ago and wish I would have done that sooner! I don’t have a financial safety net, so I have job hopped every two or three years to increase my salary and build my own safety net.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
The only passive money I have ever received was from the settlement money I got as a child from an injury.

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