In Naked With Cash, seven anonymous Consumerism Commentary readers publicly track and analyze their finances on a monthly basis. For almost a decade, I tracked my own finances on Consumerism Commentary; now I’m sharing the benefits of public accountability with the participants. I’ve partnered with financial planners who will offer some guidance along the way. Read this introduction to learn more about the series.
Anonymous S is a 24-year-old engineer earning $67,000 a year plus bonus. He also builds websites on the side for an hourly fee of $20 to $35. Read his bio here. Anonymous S is on Team Roger, with Certified Financial Planner Roger Wohlner.
Keep reading to see how Anonymous S progressed throughout the month of September. This month, our special theme is estate planning. (You can read October’s update here.) Following his own analysis, Anonymous S will be able to read feedback from Roger.
Roger Wohlner, CFP appears courtesy of The Chicago Financial Planner.
Analysis and comments from Anonymous S
Last month Jacob suggested that I think about goals beyond just a number. While numbers are helpful in marking progress towards an end result, a real target would be what I want to be able to do once I hit those numbers. Right now, I’m not really sure what I want to do, just that I don’t want to have to worry about money to do it.
With that as a goal, I think that my immediate goals are to make as much money as I can while saving an above-average amount. However, tempering this goal is a desire to work in a field I enjoy, in a city that I like, and have a work-life balance that allows me enough free-time. There’s nothing too complicated about that, which is why I also haven’t signed up to participate in Naked with Cash 2014. While I enjoy writing and will probably continue the monthly updates on my own, I’m not sure my story is “compelling” enough for another 12 months.
This month’s Naked with Cash theme is debt.
Why do you want to be debt free? For me, debt is not unlike any other recurring payment, such as rent, insurance, gas, or utilities. It’s money you have agreed to pay periodically for something you need (hopefully). Debt is just a purchase spread out over time, while insurance is like a discount on a future purchase that you may or may not make. In the case of a medical emergency, prepaying insurance means your future debt is limited to a set amount.
Due to the generosity of my parents, I do not currently have any student debt. This allowed me to focus entirely on school while in college, and allows me financial freedom now that I have graduated. I also do not have car payments or mortgage payments. I do have monthly rent and utility payments, but as far as monthly recurring payments go, I try to keep them minimal.
What have you done to get debt free or what are you planning to do? Since I started out debt-free and hope to stay that way, I make sure that I never buy anything I can’t afford. With a good paycheck and an understanding girlfriend, this hasn’t been too hard to accomplish.
Is it good enough to be free of consumer debt (or do you prioritize getting rid of housing debt)? I do think that consumer debt is definitely a top priority due to the outrageous interest rates. For other debt, it really depends. I don’t think that throwing extra money at a 0.9% car loan is usually a good idea, but for a loan above 4%, it may be a good idea.
What would you be doing differently with your life if you were debt free? While I am currently debt free, I think that with extra discretionary income I would probably just save it for the future. I have no needs that aren’t being met, and I get by pretty well without additional stuff. I can definitely foresee some big future expenses, so buying more unnecessary things now doesn’t seem like the best idea.
What have been your obstacles for eliminating your debt? So far, my only obstacles have been the allure of cool new technology.
Is there debt you think worth having? While debt on its own is never a good idea, it does have some benefits. A 0% car loan (for a reasonably priced car) can be a better idea than paying in cash, if only to allow you to invest the money you would have paid for the car. Over time, that bet should pay off.
Feedback from Roger Wohlner, CFP
After reading your latest update and having followed your progress over this year overall I’d have to say you are doing most everything right at this stage of life and further, the attitudes and habits you have developed will serve you well financially throughout your life. You are certainly on a path to lifetime financial success. Keep up the good work!
Feedback from Luke Landes
It’s interesting that you haven’t come up with goals yet besides earning and saving money, but that’s not out of the ordinary. My life changed paths after I was 24, and I had no idea that I would be moving in a completely different direction both in terms of my finances and in terms of my life. Take some time and really contemplate what kind of mark you want to leave on the world, whether it’s just within your own family or on a larger scale, touching the lives of more people. Think about your interests and passions. That might help you determine your real-life goals.
Give yourself a mission statement, like non-profit organizations do, that helps establish your core values and sets your passions down in writing. It’s just one sentence that explains what, at this moment, you want your life to be. From there, you can work forwards, and it gives you a purpose for earning and saving money, rather than just for the benefit of seeing your net worth increase.