We Live in North Carolina and Make $219K/Year
Welcome to YNAB Money Snapshots—where you see a real picture of someone else’s budget and finances. They’re all anonymous, because sharing money is still a squirrelly topic for many, but we think airing them out in the open makes you better with your own money story.
As you read these budgets, keep in mind that some people make lots of money and some people make a little bit of money, but we know it’s what you do with that money and how you feel about that money means more than any yearly salary.
See how a family in North Carolina making $219,000 a year spends their money.
- Name: L & A
- Age: 41 & 46
- Location: North Carolina
- Jobs: Teacher & Director of Marketing
- Living situation: Married with two boys
- Teacher: $45,000
- Director of Marketing: $175,000
- Checking: $15,000
- Savings: $10,000
- Retirement: $625,000
- 529s: $60,000
- Mortgage: $286,500 (10-year loan—just refinanced at 3% rate)
July Inflows: $12,013
- A’s Paychecks: $9,915.64 (3-paycheck month: what’s left after taxes, HSA, and 401k are taken out)
- L’s Paychecks: $1,505.51 (after taxes and 403b)
- L’s Birthday Gifts: $400
- Side Hustle Money (writing gigs and skincare sales): $191.85
A and I have two boys, ages 13 and 10, and have been married for 16 years. We moved to North Carolina two years ago, to be closer to family. Budgeting and YNAB were a key part of that move, because they gave us a clear idea of whether we could afford to move, if we could afford a more expensive house, and how we could absorb increased costs like an increase in taxes.
We've been budgeting since 2008 and YNAB users since 2017. It's amazing to me that I am STILL learning something about budgeting every single year.
For years, I have overspent on groceries (or spent what I felt like was too much). In April, right as the quarantine hit, I began watching YNAB videos like it was my job. In July, I finally decided it was time to budget for groceries weekly instead of monthly. The transformation in spending has been amazing! I went from spending more than $1200 per month in groceries for our family of four to successfully staying within a $125 per week budget. I am SO excited for August, to see if I can stay within my (what now feels like ample) $150 per week budget for groceries (Aldi FTW!). It's amazing how small shifts in budgeting can impact your spending so profoundly!
My Savings Categories
We are one month ahead in our budget, so we use the previous month's income for this month's spending. Currently, we max out our 401ks and HSA each year, along with saving the stock that is part of my husband’s compensation, but we've put any additional investing on hold as we're beefing up our emergency fund during these uncertain times.
Our short-term goal is to get our emergency fund beefed up to 1-year of expenses, and then after that, we'll probably double down on investing to make up for the months we've missed.
July is always one of the hardest months of the year, because usually it's our lowest month income-wise, but one of our highest months expense-wise.
However, because I've gotten a lot better at saving for true expenses, I barely blinked when two insurance bills came out at the same time, when I paid for birthday gifts for myself and my sister (that's one of the downsides of budgeting; you almost always know what was spent on you for your birthday!), and when we were able to send the boys to an outside day camp last minute.
In the past, we would not have had the budget to do that. Also, July was a three-paycheck month this year for A, so we saved the third paycheck to pay our property taxes, a system that works well for us. It's amazing to me that as we implement little budgeting hacks, we're able to roll with the punches more easily. Another kind of crazy thing about July was that we officially became millionaires, with our real estate equity and savings, so I was officially a millionaire by the time I was 40, for about two weeks before I turned 41! Even though I've felt like I've been "bad" at budgeting, by paying ourselves first and living on (and budgeting!) what's left, we've been able to hit millionaire status in 12 years.
In 2008, A was laid off twice in one year. We had an 18-month old, and we had a lot of debt (-$38,000 plus our mortgage). We'd made all the typical DINK mistakes in our early years: we racked up credit card debt on our honeymoon and electronics, bought a house that was at the tip of our budget and with only 5% down, and bought a new car for our coming baby on credit.
Fortunately, I found Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover during that crazy time, and we buckled down and paid off our debt in 18 months. We began using another budgeting software, and after our debt was paid off we began to focus on maxing out A's retirement (I was a stay-at-home mom at the time) and refinancing to a 15-year mortgage.
Over the past twelve years, we've moved three times, changed jobs, had another baby, and have had to finance countless unexpected expenses. But through it all, we've stayed committed to maxing out retirement, paying heavily on our mortgage, and saving up for new cars and vacations (versus using credit).
In 2017, when we started using YNAB, I was floored at how much better I was able to budget, because I really latched on to the four rules, and was a queen of the WAM, or what I've always called "robbing Peter to pay Paul." I think having the attitude that we'll never stop learning and getting better at this money stuff has really helped us. Now that we're officially members of the two-comma club, we are focused on increasing our cash, funding robust college funds for our two boys, and thinking about retirement over the next decade.
My Financial Goals
Back in 2008 (during the double layoff) we had very little financial security. Now that a global pandemic has hit, we feel very fortunate to have both kept our jobs, but also cognizant of the fact that those jobs may not be around forever. That's why we're currently building up a one-year emergency fund. We're also working at reducing our spending so we have practice at cutting things out of our budget if we ever need to. We're also looking down the road a few years to college and retirement, which we hope to be able to do within about ten years.
I would rate my current financial situation: 5/5
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