Our Financial Profile
Jennie has a Master's degree in English and graduated in 2008. Up until recently, she was employed as an adjunct instructor, teaching as many courses as she could round up across several colleges. Her salary was constantly in flux, changing every 8 to 15 weeks.
To achieve more stability (and significantly decrease levels of stress from constantly working on overload), she took a full-time job as a magazine writer in May. This required a move and a drastically lower, yet more stable salary.
She makes $24,300 a year. She also has been teaching one night class a week, receiving $1,650 per 8-week course.
Mike has a AAA in graphic design and is in the Guard. Like many others, he is unemployed and without benefits. This has been a source of frustration for some time. He is fortunate enough to be paid for his drill weekends, which contributes $250 a month.
We took a large gamble moving. Jennie accepted a lower paying job, expecting that there would be another salary to counter it. Neither of us anticipated that the one entry-level salary would actually be the primary income. It is the reason that we've had to look so hard at our finances lately. In one month's time, our monthly income permanently dropped by 60%. We had to make some changes, and fast.
After you take out health insurance ($130 a month only for Jennie: medical, vision, and dental) and taxes ($265.75 a month), Jennie earns $1,629 a month from her magazine job, and has been receiving $761 a month for teaching.
Add in Mike's drill, and we're working with approximately $2,640 a month.
This could be pretty reasonable, until you look at what goes out in bills:
$750 condo rent
$90 cell phone plan
$50 for internet (no cable)
$10-15 for gas heating
$90 for electricity
$80 for water (comes out every two months)
$45 car insurance
$510 student loan payments (spread between the two of us across 4 separate loans)
4 credit payments, variable but around $130 (2 separate, one joint, one department)
$45 to a furniture store
$45 to a medical bill (should be disappearing soon)
$60 to savings (or $30 a pay period)
So, this is our problem. Our obligations and debt, subtracted just from Jennie's salary, leaves us with $200-$300 to cover gas, groceries, and supplies each two week period. This is particularly difficult at the beginning of the month. Jennie's teaching pay comes in just one a month, and is directly routed to rent. Mike's drill pay comes in the second part of the month.
Overall, we are reasonable spenders. We aren't name brand kind of people, we have only one car, and we really try to limit our consumption of useless goods. We make a strong effort to buy environmentally sensitive products and natural foods when possible. We love going out to eat, a habit that has been greatly (and thankfully) curbed as of late.
This is who we are financially. In our upcoming posts, we'll be exploring our spending habits and debts in more detail.
Question of the day: Can you bring yourself to disclose your salary, even to a trusted friend or family member? Why or why not?