A Week In Los Angeles, CA On A $162k Joint Salary

Occupation: Project analyst
Industry: Telecommunications
Age: 29
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $70,000. My husband, N., and I have combined finances. N. is prior-enlisted military and is in grad school full time which is covered by the military. He receives $2481/month 12 months a year and $3636/month prorated for when he is enrolled in school. Both these payments are not taxable; due to the untaxed stipend element of N.’s salary, our joint salary amount is approximate.
Assets: Checking account: $10,000; emergency fund: $42,000; investments: $65,500; my Roth IRA: $110,000; N.’s Roth IRA: $40,000; my Roth 401(k): $3000; my HSA: $500; rental property: $430,000. We also just purchased a new-to-us car worth $17,000.
Debt: Mortgage: $296,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,692 (pre-tax)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,499 (N. and I rent a 706sqft one bedroom/one bathroom apartment which includes one parking space.) We recently moved from the Washington, DC area where I had a home I purchased before we met. We lived in the home for a year before we moved to LA and converted it into a rental property when we left. The property is rented out at $2500/month (this is included in the joint salary amount).
All Other Monthly Expenses
Insurance: $337.31 (This includes car insurance for two vehicles, renters’ insurance, landlord insurance for our rental property, jewelry insurance for my engagement ring, and umbrella insurance)
Gym: $56 (My work reimburses me $20/month)
Spotify: $5.99 (I have a student rate. N. is part of a family plan with his brothers, but they don’t make him pay.)
Water: $100
Electricity: $50
Internet: $30 (We get a military discount with T-Mobile.)
Mortgage Payment: $1276 (for rental property)
HOA: $278 (for rental property)
Property Management Fee: $197.50 (for rental property)
Biweekly Expenses (Paid Per Paycheck):
Health Insurance: $44.47 (pre-tax)
Dental Insurance: $10.67 (for N. and I, pre-tax)
Vision Insurance: $4.28 (pre-tax)
Annual Expenses
My Roth IRA: $7,000
Roth 401(k): $23,000 (my company matches $2,800)
HSA: $3,850 (my company contributes an additional $300/year)
Property Taxes: $4,100 (for rental property)

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, it was really not an option to not go to college after graduating high school. I originally went to an out-of-state public school that was not a good fit for me. After a year there, I transferred to an in-state public school. My parents saved in a 529 college fund for me when I was really young. Both my parents are engineers and my parents budgeted to have our family living on just my dad’s income which left my mom’s income to be saved for various things, including 529 accounts for me and my brother. They put a lump sum in my 529 when I was a baby and let it grow over time. I had more than enough to graduate and still have $5,000 in the account.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I wouldn’t say my parents and I had any real important conversations about money but I learned a lot from observing how my parents managed their money. It wasn’t a topic that was off the table though. As I got older, when I had questions I felt very comfortable going to my dad.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was a summer job in college working at a retail store. I hated it but I did it mostly because I knew I needed to do something with my summer. I didn’t need the money so I saved all of it.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. My mom immigrated to the United States after being a refugee for six months and she really paved a way for herself. She put herself through college and became a very successful engineer. But I wouldn’t say her worry for survival stayed behind when she came to the US. As a child, I could feel her worry even though we were financially stable, which made me worry. That was pretty polar opposite from my caucasian father who didn’t worry. As I got older, I realized that wasn’t a reflection of my parents’ financial state — it was a reflection of my mom’s upbringing in her country.

Do you worry about money now?
Because there have been many years of my adult life where I have worried a lot about money, I still worry now even though I know we’re in a really good place financially. It’s that scarcity mindset: It doesn’t matter how much money I have, I will always think that I would be safer if I had more saved.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say it was at 22 years old that I started becoming financially responsible for myself — but because I knew my family would be my financial safety net, I have leaned on them off and on since I graduated college. I made very little money out of college for the first couple years and really scraped by financially. I could cover my basic needs but anything additional was difficult — like for holidays, my parents would pay for my flights to come home. I grew up playing competitive golf and had always wanted to see how far I could go as a career playing golf, so when I was 25 I decided to pursue that. I quit my full time job and for two years, my mom supported me by giving me $3,000 a month and for another year $2,000 month while I was not working full time. When I got married was when my mom lowered how much she was giving me from $3,000 to $2,000. At that time, it didn’t feel right to spend money from my family when I was sharing my finances with someone else, so we saved the $2,000 a month that my mom was giving me and survived off my husband’s income. A year after getting married, I decided to enter back into the workforce and asked my mom to stop helping me financially. As of now, we don’t rely on my family financially on a regular basis. However, I know in the future if something major came up, I could rely on them.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. I received an inheritance from both my grandmother and my aunt, a total of around $40,000. My parents also assisted in helping me purchase my home in the DC area. They gifted me about $50,000 for the down payment.

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