Have You Mastered These Three Foundations of Money?

by J. Money - Published July 9, 2018

green three

Got a great/feisty comment the other day on all those savings tips and tricks we shared, and thought we’d take some time today to compare and see where we stand on these recommendations ;)

It comes from Cody Wheeler over at AcademySuccess.com, and according to him these are the things we should be paying attention to the most:

Do these three major things as the foundation of your money, and all of the above matter a lot less (although these are still some interesting tips):

– Make sure your housing is reasonable for your income level, around 20% or so of your “take home” pay.

So many people get caught up in the allure of housing that it wrecks their available cash flow. Only upgrade when your income increases significantly, not when you “run out of space”. Most people don’t need more space. They just need less stuff.

– Same with your car.

Do what you can to avoid ever having a car payment. Save in advance and buy something reasonable, reliable, and safe. Cars shouldn’t define your identity. They should get you from A to B safely and be comfortable. A vehicle sits still 95% of the time. There’s no reason to spend hundreds of dollars a year or something that sits still most of the time.

– Choose a career (yes, you can choose your career) that allows you to get access to a 401k plan or something similar.

Make sure you’re getting paid market value for what you’re worth. Learn how to negotiate your salary and aim to get a salary increase at least every few years. Educate yourself to become even more valuable, and watch your money grow.

Solid stuff, not gonna lie! Do you know right off the bat how you compare?

Here’s how we’re doing over here:

#1. Housing @ 20% — #FAIL Our household take home pay fluctuates around $8,000/mo, which puts us at almost 29% for the roof over our head as we pay a whopping $2,300/mo in rent. And that doesn’t even include *maintenance* which a lot of people forget about when making these calculations! (But fortunately with renting it’s minimal :))

#2. Reasonable Car — I’m gonna go with #PASS & #FAIL here. We chose a used car with some mileage on it and had it all paid off under a year and a half, but we certainly didn’t *need* a Lexus. But since we could afford it and I very much appreciate a comfy ride (all cars may take you from point A to point B, but some are more fun along the journey!), we splurged a little and didn’t stay at the bottom of our budget. Though I do yearn for the days of having another Frankencaddy again when I don’t have to shuttle kids around ;)

#3. Smart Career #PASS. A lot of variables go into this one of course (distance, pay, benefits, passion??), but I’d say I’ve definitely chosen well in this department, as not in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get paid thousands of dollars to just write a diary about money, haha… And as anyone who is self-employed knows, the potential for growth/income is limitless when you control the reins. So I’m super thankful to have (accidentally) fallen into this, and it certainly beats out all 40+ previous jobs I’ve had up to this point too. But don’t let it fool you – even dream jobs have their downsides! And maybe one day I’ll spend a few hours listing them all out ;)

So that puts us at 1 and 1/2 out of 3, haha…. does that make me a bad blogger?

Oh well, I’m okay with it because at least I know where I stand and *why* I’m standing there (the most important, right??). And while I’m not at a perfect 3 for 3, I know that the future will only improve so long as I keep working at it.

Which I think is the key to all of this, really. It’s one thing to not understand how you got to where you are right now, but a whole other to recognize it and then make that plan to get better with each and every day! Because it’s not our pasts which define us, but our futures!!!

So as long as you’re fully aware of what’s going on right now, you get a passing grade too :) But still divulge how many of the 3 you hit here – and why – so we can continue the discussion, haha…

And btw – I still stand by all those tips we shared last week. Because while the Big Things are important, so are the smaller ones! They all work together to improve momentum!!

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Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Accidental FIRE July 9, 2018 at 5:12 am

I’m 3 for 3! Although now that I’m financially independent and part time I guess my “career” is starting to wind down. And admittedly when I bought my house it was about 25% or so of my take home pay but raises and promotions quickly got that below 20%.

He’s right though, the house and cars are two of the “big three”, with food being the other. Master those expenses and win the game.

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2 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:42 am

Oh yeah – Food is def. a biggie in the budget… and prob the hardest of them all to get straight since you need to consume it multiple times a day!

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3 [HCF] July 9, 2018 at 6:28 am

#1 I would say PASS, but not sure as we are paying back the loan aggressively which we used to buy our home so that plus maintenance hits roughly 50% mark these days. But this is our decision and if I would change this into a regular long-term mortgage situation it would be around 5%.
#2 I guesstimated lately all our car related expenses taking into account the already paid purchase price (divided by the time I expect keeping the car so at the end of that period we would have the price saved up for replacing it). This is under 10% so I would mark this as PASS.
#3 I would declare a PASS and a FAIL here. I work in one of the best industries you can pick these days (software) and have a good salary in comparison to other careers in my country. Same time we don’t have anything like 401k plans over here so planning for the future is more important. Most of the people still expect to live on the state pension when they will retire (or not retire at all) which I would not bet will be existing (or sufficient) by then. Actually, that is the reason I started to dive into personal finance :)

Oh, and agreed to AF, there should be the #4, groceries, an equally important factor.

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4 Grettman July 9, 2018 at 6:32 am

When talking about 20% “rule” of take home pay when it comes to housing costs, does that include money you take out each month to invest in retirement (401K, IRA, etc)? In my view, retirement is a “must pay”. If you fail to put that money away, you aren’t addressing your future financial requirements. Just curious….

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5 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:43 am

The 20% rule in this case is just for housing. Your savings/investing would be separate, although if you can make that 20% or more you’d def. be sitting pretty :)

UPDATE: I think I might have read your comment wrong? Were you asking about how to *calculate* your percentage if you have savings/investings automatically withdrawn? If so, the answer is similar to the above still – you’d compare it all to your overall take home pay before any deductions. So, for example, if you get paid $1,000/mo and invest $200 of it right to your 401k and you pay $200/mo in rent, your housing % would be 20% and your investing rate would be 20%. It wouldn’t be using the $800 number to compare housing, if that answers your question?

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6 Marc July 9, 2018 at 7:00 am

#1 – We bought our house with cash 2 years ago. Even without a mortgage the costs of owning and maintaining the home are high, but fortunately below the 20% mark. Property taxes are kind of high in our area, plus it’s a big house so utilities are higher, and the property involves a lot of upkeep.

#2 – Our cars have been paid off for the past 7 years. We’ll probably replace both of them within the next 2-3 years, but it will be with something reasonable and probably paid with cash.

#3 – I’m self employed but I do have an individual 401(k) and I contribute to it pretty aggressively. My income fluctuates a lot, but it’s definitely much better than it was 10 years ago when I had a traditional job.

So I guess that makes me 3 for 3.

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7 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:44 am

ALL CASH???? Pretty slick, man!

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8 Cubert July 9, 2018 at 7:12 am

I’m 3 for 3. I don’t like to brag, but there it is…

That said, after zipping around Switzerland in my friend’s red corvette, I kinda have a little car envy these days.

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9 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:45 am

Thanks for making all of us envious now ;)

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10 Dave July 9, 2018 at 7:27 am

J, I would say you passed on all three. You live in a hcol area and get what you pay for. Also Lexus IS a luxury brand, but it is super high quality and you could drive it until it has 250k miles.

For me, I was pass, pass, pass, we owe $30k on a $220k house. We both drive Subaru’s that are paid for. Our careers are steady. My wife is a public school teacher and I work in HR for a healthcare provider.

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11 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:46 am

Okay, I won’t argue with you :) Killer job on that house, btw! so close to freedom right there!

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12 Leo T. Ly July 9, 2018 at 7:37 am

1) housing: failed because I live in one of the most expensive cities, so I would be lucky to just getaway with 30% of my take home pay.

2) car: pass and failed: I didn’t have a car loan, but I did not buy my car used either.

3) job: sort of pass. I am making a decent living at my job, but I would prefer to be more entrepreneurial.

so overall, I think that I am at 1.25 out of three. From what I see, all three of these items just concentrate on managing the expense side of your wealth, it doesn’t focus on what you do with your savings.

Even though I did under performed in these three categories, I worked very hard to maximize the return of the money that I did save. With the growth of my savings, it more than offset my 1.25 out of 3 score.

In my opinion, it’s now how much you saved, it’s what you do with the savings so that it works harder for you. one day you may no long have to work because your savings can generate enough money to replace your income.

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13 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:47 am

Well said, sir. Many ways to make it to that finish line!

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14 Brian July 9, 2018 at 8:02 am

#1 is a small fail, (22%), but that’s because my wife is now working part time. Of course with her working part time it is saving us a boatload in daycare, so this is kind of a wash

#2 is a pass. Two paid off cars

#3 is a pass. I like what I do, I’m paid pretty well and my job is about as secure as it can be. I have a 401K and a pension so I feel pretty good.

So I guess things are going pretty ok for me.

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15 Nancy July 9, 2018 at 8:05 am

Along those lines is a colleague’s “three”: same car, same house, same wife for a financially successful life. It helps that he picked modest house within budget and has it paid off, wonderful wife who has same financial priorities, and drives modest reliable cars for 10+ years!

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16 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 9:47 am

Haha yup – classic :)

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17 Mrs. Farmhouse Finance July 9, 2018 at 8:42 am

As renters, we are currently 3 for 3, but our housing cost is going to go way up once we move into our house. Our rent is about 13% of our take home, but that will shoot up to more than 30% once we start paying our mortgage. Property taxes are high in our area, so we’ll actually be paying more in taxes than we do for rent each month (we’re not comparing apples to apples, though….it’s a tiny apartment compared to a house). As for cars, we will only buy used and own our two cars outright right now. We are both teachers with good pay and excellent benefits, so I would say we’re set in the career department.

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18 Ms. Frugal Asian Finance July 9, 2018 at 8:51 am

Let me see. In our case:

1. Housing: Our mortgage is about 20% of our take home (after maxing out 401(k)’s), so I guess we’re good here. PASS!

2. Car: We got a brand-new Toyota Corolla on a loan but paid it off in 6 months. We are a one-car family. I will give us a PASS/FAIL as well. Fail because we bought it brand-new. Pass because it’s a fuel-efficient car, and we own only one car hehe.

3. Careers: I think there’s room for growth, but we will take it one step at a time. PASS!

Smiling overall :D

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19 Joe July 9, 2018 at 10:11 am

Housing is so dependent on where you live. We spend about 20% of our take home on housing, but sometimes more. If you live on the west coast, it’s expensive. I’d love to lower our housing cost someday, but we like where we live now. The school district is good. When you don’t have kids, you don’t even think about these things.

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20 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Oh hell yeah… Want to move downtown next year but school district sucks! So will either have to pay for private (nope) or move right outside by even just a few blocks for good schools – ugh.

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21 B.C Kowalski July 9, 2018 at 10:19 am

Well, I am about 30 percent on housing, but under 20 percent if you take the MMM tact and consider mortgage principal as savings (I can see both sides of argument). But I easily could have made it under 20 percent with a 30-year mortgage, but I chose a more aggressive 15-year mortgage, when paid off will mean I am spending a bit above 10 percent on housing (not counting the expenses as you mentioned). It’s a fixed cost, so as my day job/side hustle pay increase (I am currently billing photo jobs at $150/hr) that percentage only decreases. Paid off car, no 401k at my job but I save aggressively instead.

I guess it’s easy to be contrarian but I am annoyed by these “everyone needs to do this” posts, because everyone’s situation is different. I also don’t think it’s only three things – I was coaching a friend who had all three of those things but still struggled because she blew money like Mount St. Helen on a bad day. (I told her I would install a facepunch machine outside Ulta for her.) That’s why I prefer your approach in exploring all aspects – because what might seem like a no-brainer for me, might be a sticking point with someone else, or vice versa.

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22 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Totallllyyyyy… Outside of “spend less than you make” there’s so many variables that go into this stuff for each person. But at least it gives us clear cut things to review or else these articles would be 20 pages long to account for everyone and no one would read – hah!

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23 Lisa July 9, 2018 at 10:24 am

20%!??? That seems awfully low for a HCOL area. I’m at 17% but I make well above the median income. If I made less I’d have to have roommates (plural) or live far away.

No car, so I probably win on this one. I did pay $600 because I dented my dad’s car. Whoops.

Smart career? Well I guess I’m in a career that pays me enough to keep my costs in check. I do like my career but I spend a fair amount of time explaining to people that I’m not evil. =D

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24 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:40 pm

I bet you do, haha…

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25 lisa y July 9, 2018 at 10:42 am

We are paying 2 mortgages due to rental properties and actually pay the mortgages but take the rental income and throw that down (in addition) on both mortgages. So, that skews things a bit but to do a fast calculation if we didn’t do that, we would still be spending 38% on housing. FAIL.

We own our older cars outright. PASS.

Career wise, I make more doing a retail job than I did when I graduated with a degree, but I’m only part-time. On the other hand, DH cannot find a job in his field and has been looking for years. So, his job in retail is way below what he used to get paid as a engineer. PASS/FAIL

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26 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:41 pm

Great long play with those rental properties though – your future selves are going to be really happy with you! :)

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27 Jodi Renaud July 9, 2018 at 11:21 am

My housing is reasonable, my job doesn’t pay much but my expenses are low. As for a car? I’d say pass to fail. I know I should have a used toyota. I had one for 13 years before I fell for this fiat that I have now. The reviews are bad on the fiat but I just love my cute little red buggy with the sunroof. I bought it used with 30,000 miles on it for 8,000 but that is not the worst part. The worst part is I bought a third party extended warranty that doesn’t seem to cover much. Ah well, I don’t owe much anymore on the car…

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28 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Better to mess up on the warranty than the price of the car :) i can’t help but get the warranties too at times – sometimes it still makes you feel better even if they’re not the greatest! (or if you don’t ever use them – which, in theory, is what you’re hoping for anyways!)

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29 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life July 9, 2018 at 12:48 pm

Housing: 21.5% which is better than I thought it was! BUT insurance, property taxes and maintenance take us into your range and I think it’s only fair to count all of the expenses, not just the mortgage. And you’re housing 5 humans now so that changes the equation a bit.

Cars: We have two paid in full old cars. I’m saving aggressively to make sure that when the time comes, we can pay in full for whatever car we get. Can you fit all 3 kids into the Lexus??

Career: Fat fail on my part – I have no employer sponsored retirement and that burns me up. But PiC does so that helps. Half fail/pass?

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30 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

You career pays you super well though I thought, no?

Lexus – BARELY getting all 3 of those kids back there! Had to swap out a car seat with a different model, but until the baby gets bigger we’re all good!! Just more time away from a Minivan! Haha…

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31 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life July 10, 2018 at 11:50 am

Oh yeah I guess they do pay me fat bucks. I just want the whole package of fat bucks AND benefits like PiC gets! I’m competitive. But also realistic. As it is, not having benefits only works in my favor because I get the high salary and benefits from PiC’s work. If he changes jobs though, we are up poop creek a little bit.

Hehe everyone ELSE wants to avoid minivans and I’m sitting here going BRING ME THE ELECTRIC MINIVANS! I have like 150 lbs of dogs to fit into any car we drive.

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32 J. Money July 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Oh wow that’s a lot, haha… If we lived closer I’d offer to share a minivan with you :)

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33 Mr. Tako July 9, 2018 at 1:06 pm

I failed at all three of these and various points in my life. Now, after FI I fail at all three again. Maybe it’s just a coincidence.

While these are all good advice, I’m not so certain of them being “foundations of money”.

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34 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:45 pm

I would agree with you, especially considering your financially independent haha…

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35 Stevo July 9, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I don’t like this game… I have 4 cars and 2 bikes, not including the wife’s lol

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36 Stevo July 9, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Edit: They are all paid off at least though!

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37 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:46 pm

I was hoping you’d say the cars were paid off but not the bikes :)

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38 Becky July 9, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Here’s how my family is doing on the 3 foundations:

Housing – Monthly income – around $3400, mortgage $830= 24%…I’ll call it pass because it’s ‘around’ 20%, but it’s definitely on the edge.

Reasonable Car – In the past we have been free of car payments (and it was soooo nice), but we currently have $20,000 in loans on 2 cars, a 2010 Chevy Traverse (almost paid off) and a 2014 Ford Escape. We bought both used and we put a lot of miles on them for work and because we live in a rural area so we need reliable cars and weren’t able to save up enought before our previous cars broke down. Either way, I’m calling this one a fail for us.

Career – Pass/Fail. I wouldn’t consider my current job something that I want to be my career, but it is an office job and provides me with a 401(k) with up to 3% match that I’ve been putting money into for the last 10 years. I keep telling myself I will pick a career, get a degree (if needed) and go do that career, but my indecisive self still doesn’t know what I want to do so here I am. My husband just started putting money into a 401(k) at his job last year, but he is working in a career field that he enjoys.

So it looks like I have 1 1/2 out of 3. We are working on paying off debts and then hope to save up for any future vehicles, but it is slow-going with a small income.

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39 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Personal finance is typically slow :) You get in trouble when you try to speed it up too much! Haha…

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40 Becky July 11, 2018 at 3:59 pm

Very true. Slow and steady wins the race ;)

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41 LIsa O July 9, 2018 at 3:19 pm

Well….Happy to say that 1 and 3 would be considered a pass.

2 might be considered a FAIL because I just bought a new car off the lot! I know its not what you want to hear but it sure was fun and I needed a dependable car for my travels to see my daughter and my soon to be Grandchild! I was having problems with the car I traded in and it was not 4 wheel drive. They paid me $13,000 for a car I owed $11,000 and then I will get a credit for the unused Warranty Program at approximately $1,000. I did the finance thru Ford and received $4,750 off the price of the car but the financing was 6.99%. I then went to my credit union put another $1,500 on it and lowered the interest rate to 3.49% which in turned lowered my payment by $98.00/month for 5 years. So….I really tried to make it positive.

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42 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:49 pm

Yeah you did, haha… It would be fun to buy a new car at least once in life for sure – there are tons of benefits to it. I’m not 100% against it where it makes sense, but will prob have to wait quite a few years/decades for me to try it unless I hit it big :)

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43 Paul July 9, 2018 at 3:35 pm

hmmmm, #1……. So for those of us in DC and surrounding areas 20% might be doable if you are taking home $ 15k a month after taxes…. Beyond that you are living in a 2 bedroom apt if you want to be anywhere close to those numbers. I’m at ~30% and I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be that low and “own” an actual home.

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44 Zach July 9, 2018 at 4:37 pm

#1 – We squeek in on the house at 19.3% PASS ($1650 Mortgage/Insurance/Taxes with $8533 monthly income)

#2 – We do have 1 car payment, the other is paid for.. but the car payment is because it replaced the car I drove into the ground… HALF PASS? (Or HALF FAIL if you are a glass half empty kind of person)

#3 – PASS – my company just changed our 401k plan for the BETTER, which is great! From a 3.5% max match when I contribute 6%, to 5% max match when I contribute 5%.

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45 J. Money July 9, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Nice work, employer!! More free money!!

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46 LeeAnne July 9, 2018 at 6:23 pm

#1- Pass/Fail. If I take into account mortgage, taxes, HOA and home insurance I’m at 25% (under 20% if I look at only the mortgage). This is based off of my true take home pay – after taking out my 401k. If you want to consider the percentage before 401k, it is a pass. I’m ok with spending a bit more on my house since I don’t really have much debt other than mortgage. Plus, I had a bit of a kid in a candy store moment when I bought my new house – the houses are so much cheaper in Georgia versus Massachusetts! Did I buy more house than I need? Yes. Do I love my house? Yes. Regrets? No. I’m in the school of thought that to really try to set yourself up for better savings, you should really look at the housing percentage after your 401k contribution (at least the amount to get the full company match).

2 – Pass I guess since the cars are paid off. Maybe a fail if you consider one of them is a non-practable toy (2001 Ford Mustang GT convertible) that doesn’t get the best of gas mileage! (I did buy it used and paid cash at least). The Subaru is also paid off – got ticked off at my old bank while living in Georgia so took a hit to my savings so I could pay off the car loan and close the Massachusetts bank account. I have a bad tendency to buy new cars every 4 years – even though there’s nothing wrong with the cars (I’ve had 3 new Toyota Camry’s – very reliable cars). Although I don’t have the love for my Subaru that most Subaru owners do, my new goal is to drive the Subaru for years and we’ll ocer 100,000 Miles. (Your blog and folks comments have motivated me to do this – fingers crossed I can hold out for at least another 5 years!! I’m focusing on putting the miles on the mustang to help the Subaru last longer).

3 – Pass. I have a career that I love, I feel I am decently compensated, and I have a 401k plan that has a company match of 100% for the first 5%. (We have a pension too but I’m expecting that to go away next year so I don’t even consider it. I’ve only been participating in it for a little over a year.)

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47 J. Money July 10, 2018 at 10:18 am

Sitting pretty!

Especially in that ‘Stang, I bet ;)

I want an update every year on your journey to 100,000… You can do it!!! And then turn it in for another fun car!

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48 Erika Berglund July 9, 2018 at 8:54 pm

Hubby and I just got the car paid off in February. We took it in last week for repairs and guess what the cost was? Almost to the dollar everything we saved since then from not having a car payment; I know I should be upset but I thought it was too weird and funny to be. so I’m going to give us a somewhere in the middle on that one. But, good news, we are on for the 20% housing. I’m giving myself a fail for #3 though. Still figuring that stuff out. 1 1/2!

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49 J. Money July 10, 2018 at 10:20 am

HAH! it would have been a double car payment had you not had it paid off already – well done ;) I rarely get too upset with car problems either – it’s all better than paying hundreds every single month!

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50 Your Money Blueprint July 10, 2018 at 4:30 am

Batting at 3 from 3 here.

1/. Bought a house much smaller than average and are mortgage free. We live in a Earthquake zone that has had some recent shocks and our house insurance alone is 5% of our after tax income.

2/. Company car :)

3/. Could be paid more but I do get an employer match. Work/life balance at my current job is best I have had

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51 J. Money July 10, 2018 at 10:21 am

I’ve always wanted a company car :) The thought of not needing to make a decision on anything at all is just as enjoyable as the free savings! And I bet you get somewhat decent/newish cars too, eh?

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52 Sandy July 10, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Do we count HOA fees, home tax, home insurance in to the equation of the housing, or just rent and mortgage?
I mean my condo is paid off but my HOA is $388 a month + $50 for indoor parking + 49 property tax / monthly + 28 for home insurance / monthly. But no rent or mortgage.

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53 J. Money July 10, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I think you definitely win The Game just by having it all paid off – well done :)

(But yes – all housing costs would count in terms of %!)

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54 Kelly July 10, 2018 at 5:06 pm

I get 2/3. Housing is tricky because I rent in Boston (technically Cambridge). I actually got a good deal for the area, but it is more than 20 percent of my take home pay (after taxes, retirement, benefits, etc.). But I’m making 6 figures as an engineer in my 20s and maxing out my 401k, so being able to commute to work by subway in 30 to 40 minutes is worth dealing with the Boston rental market for now.

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55 Charlie July 10, 2018 at 8:26 pm

Hey, J! Sorry for the late response on this — I don’t believe you’re a #FAIL on No. 1 and neither am I. I ran my rent twice against my take home pay — first time, including my $1400 a month going to my Roth 401(k), and my percent was 31%. However, when I included the Roth 401(k) back into the total of my take home pay – my percentage was 28%. While you live in the DC area, I’m in the North Jersey area — our rents are high!!! LOL! You’re certainly not living the high life, and neither am I in my one bedroom here in Little Ferry. But I am auto-saving $500 a check (paid bi-monthly) in addition to the Roth contribution as opposed to moving back to New York City where I would be adding a minimum of $450+ to my $1215 rent. For those under 20%, bravo!!!! But I believe it doesn’t take into factor major metropolitan cities.

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56 J. Money July 11, 2018 at 9:37 am

Loving those $500 auto-savings!! That $hit’s gonna add up!

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57 Vicky July 12, 2018 at 11:17 am

#1: 21% of take home as renters based upon only rent (no utilities). We will be loosing my income in September when Baby #3 arrives because daycare for 2 kids under 3yrs (oldest is a teenager) out paces my salary. We luckily have to make little expense reductions to do this, but it will up our percentage up to 30%. We are working towards buying home within the next 2 years. Home prices (and rent prices for that matter) are increasing 4-7% per year in my area. I would love to keep it at 20% and do expect hubby to get income increases but it isn’t likely given the housing market and the fact that hubby is dead set on getting out of the apartment ASAP.
#2 Pass…currently. I drive a oldie but a goody and hubby drives a nice newish car, both paid off totally and we are saving for a new to us car to replace the oldie. Gonna try to stick with these 2 as long as possible, but with a graduating HS senior this coming year and 2 littles previously mentioned I don’t know how long we will be able to hold out. I can see us pulling a J.Money on this one!
#3 Pass/Fail. Hubby passes..IT cyber security for the win. I fail, the market here is very tech/pharma/healthcare oriented and saturated with general “jack of all” business majors such as myself so while I currently have a job/salary/401k it is fairly low paying and I will be leaving soon as noted above. I am not sure where I will go from here…got any suggestions!

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58 J. Money July 17, 2018 at 7:41 am

I think it’s time to start a mom blog and become a digital maven ;)

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59 Robyn July 16, 2018 at 12:21 pm

#1: Pass. We paid off the house this year, but if you figure Taxes, insurance and upkeep I would put us at 10%
#2 Pass. We have 3 cars and all are paid off, so just insurance costs here…but the teenager keeps this pricier that I would like.
#3 Pass: I’m in HR related field and am doing great on 401K, Restricted Stock Awards and Bonus front. My husband runs his own business from home and we consider his income as just savings…When he decided to go out on his own with a Partner we didn’t know the outcome, so we decided not to rely on his income, so it just hits our savings account… but he benefits well from being able to invest more in his 401K

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60 J. Money July 17, 2018 at 7:42 am

Oooooh killer!!!! Always impressed with people who can live off one income and bank the rest. Good for you guys! And I hope your teen gets off your plan soon, haha…

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61 Lvls July 17, 2018 at 11:41 am

I spent last year paying off debt and restructuring the house to a 15 yr mortgage. I have a day job that has salary, commish, and benefits. So, technically, I’m at 48% on my housing cost – with my day job *salary* only, so that may be a FAIL.

However, I keep a really lean budget – and all the commission from my day job goes to my 401(k) and other investments. I also have a side gig that is all commission and all of that goes to saving as well – except in a pinch with an unexpected expense.

I sold my car in January and have been car payment free since then. I live close to my day job so ride my bike or borrow my boyfriend’s car. I am planning to get a car in the next year but admittedly enjoy not having a car payment so I may delay the new car. I’d say that’s a PASS.

Career-wise – between the two jobs I get what I need – insurance, 401(k) and a steady salary, and commission between both to set up for the future. I wouldn’t say I love my day job, but it does serve a purpose. PASS.

I am hoping to be FI in the next 7 years. The house with the 15 year mortgage will evolve into an income property, as well as two others that are currently just supporting themselves with the rental incomes covering the mortgages barely. I’m also somewhat waiting for the next real estate downturn and hope to pick up another property so am keeping a portion of my investments fairly liquid/accessible.

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62 J. Money July 17, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Liking that game plan a lot! Real estate is a sure way to speed up the wealth! (well okay – not super speed up, but def. speed up over time and lots of patience, haha…)

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