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Freelance product design consultant: My budget and planning for the future

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I'm Michaela waters I'm a product design consultant and I make a hundred and twenty thousand a year I paid for my undergraduate studies through scholarships through a loan and then my parents helped a little bit with basically room and board I went to an in-state SUNY school I grew up in New York State and then I got a scholarship through the Honors College at the University of Buffalo which meant that my tuition was free so for me my expenses were just living expenses Buffalo is pretty affordable and I worked while I was in undergraduate my undergraduate studies so a lot of my expenses just weren't too bad I took out a small loan to do a study abroad in Tokyo for a graduate school I took out a few loans to be able to pay my tuition and my living expenses boston's a lot more expensive than Buffalo during my second semester I was given a scholarship that gave me full tuition for free because of my grades and then recommendations through professors unfortunately I left that behind when I took my sabbatical to start a company so I still have to pay off the loans from the first semester that I was there when I left grad school to start my company and work for myself that was a little bit of a difficult financial situation we weren't making very much money for a while and I had debt from school but I was able to put my loans on hold and just do some consulting work on this side to make ends meet I also learned how to budget and to try and live within my means which were pretty small at the time especially in Boston but it was kind of exciting and I'm happy that I was able to do it because now I know that if anything ever gets rough financially I'm able to survive so I left graduate school owing fifty thousand in loans I've gotten that down to about 32,000 I set up automatic payments to pay off my loans I don't really think about it too much I just try to make sure that I pay it every month I would say that the idea of debt is something that stresses me out a lot I've tried to avoid buying things that I can't afford I did part of the reason I left grad school was because I didn't think I would be able to make enough in the path that I was on for architecture to feel comfortable with the debt i was accruing and so i knew there was more money to be made in the startup and product design path my annual salary is a hundred and twenty thousand which means monthly I take home $10,000 it either quarterly or annually not realizing that you owed it so it's important to take that out ahead of time and then I pay about two hundred and forty a month for insurance since I live in Massachusetts there's a lot of great insurance options available to someone like me whose consulting who's not working for a large company and because I live in Boston I was able to get great insurance at a great price on independently I take home six thousand four hundred and ten a month after taxes and health insurance my rent is fifteen hundred a month my gas and electric is two hundred and my TV and Internet is a hundred and my phone bill is two hundred a month I save a lot of money biking everywhere so my commuting expenses are pretty minimal I bike from March if possible until late November early December depending on when it starts snowing I'm on kind of a messy line in terms of the T in Boston so I just prefer to walk if I can otherwise it's a little crazy in the morning trying to get anywhere then my student loans are about 510 a month and my food I normally allocate 600 per month I love cooking and I love eating a good meal so for me that's a great place for me to spend my money I have about a 250 dollar travel expense every month and spend around 50 dollars on books I really love having books available either for work or just for fun and I think that's another great way to spend my time and my money and then I usually spend about $400 on entertainment restaurants Yoga anything that depending month by month whatever's happening in Boston that's what I try and allocate just for fun left over that means I have about 2600 and I put a thousand in savings so 1600 of it is what I use for an emergency fund as a consultant I have to make sure that I'm not letting my savings run too low so I try to have about six months worth of finances available in cash just in case I am waiting on another job to come through Boston is definitely a very expensive place to live in terms of apartments I think it's tough to find a place that you like that's clean and your roommates are friendly you basically always have to have a roommate so it's it's nice to have someone that you can get along with that you trust for me living in Boston is worth it because I have a really good network here and financially I feel like I can make enough money to live here through the jobs that are available to me being a product designer ad in other cities I think would be tougher unless it was somewhere like San Francisco or New York centers that really have a lot of startups early-stage companies that are looking to hire people with my skill set right now my financial goals are mostly just to continue saving money so that way I have kind of a reliable nest egg I'm living in a city where it's pretty difficult to buy your own home as a single person and so I don't see that or any other very large purchase in my near future so it's mostly just about continuing to save and continuing to save her retirement and also getting debt-free and paying off my student loans I wish I had been a little less intimidated about saving for the future someone told me early on that I should open a Roth IRA and I thought because I was young and because I wasn't making very much money that it wasn't worth it if I couldn't put in the maximum amount and now I realize that's not true even if you can put in a couple hundred dollars when you're very young it grows tremendously over time and also just to get into the mindset of saving for the future even if you're very young even if you're not saving that much is really helpful and a good pattern to get into
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