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Firefighter: My budget and planning for the future

Firefighter Ky-ree Toadvine shares his financial journey, from earning minimum wage to a $70,000 annual salary. He manages his expenses, including credit card debt and a car loan, while living in high-cost Los Angeles. Ky-ree saves for retirement, plans to buy a house, and aims to set up an emergency fund.

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Video transcript

My name is Ky-ree Toadvine. I'm a firefighter and currently I make anywhere from 65 to 70 grand a year. So I feel pretty good about my finances compared to about five years ago where I just working for minimum wage at Target. I've come a long way and I feel like in the future, my finances just have nowhere but up to look. So, for school and for the fire academy, I was able to pay for it usually through financial aid and when I didn't have financial aid, I was able to sustain myself with the money I was making with my job as an EMT. Currently, I am paying for my credit card debt that I procured while going full-time into the academy before I was able to get my first check. I am currently $3,000 in debt in credit card debt and I also have a car loan that I'm currently paying off. Living in Los Angeles is of course a higher cost of living than it is in most places. I'm not a very expensive person. I don't really spend a whole lot on food, I would think anyways, although I do eat a lot, but I'm not home all the time, so I don't spend a lot on bills and utilities like that. I like living in Los Angeles because it's home mainly, but because we have so many different things going on all the time. We have the beach, we have the city, we have many different things, and especially if you want to go to a different part of California, you can always just drive up to Big Bear or something like that, go to the lake or anything like that, and that's what really makes it home for me because it has a wide array of things that you can do and I think it's worth it to live out here, even if it is just a little bit more expensive. My basic annual salary is $70,000 per year. Monthly, we'll take about $5,800, and then after taxes, pension, and the $400 that I'm putting into my IRA to save up for the future for retirement, I will take about $2,900. Then, I have my expenses. I share a place, so I have a roommate, so I pay about $1,350 per month. For utilities, I pay about $60, and for the internet and TV, I don't watch a whole lot of TV so I only pay about $50 which is only for the internet. My phone bill is $130 per month usually monthly. I have car payments, as well. My car note is $330. My insurance runs me $120 and for gas, I usually run about $140 per month. I don't eat a lot at home, so I don't spend a whole lot of money at home because we're usually at the station. We have really good food at the station, as well. The people there are usually really good cooks, so I only spend about $250 per month for food. For the gym, I usually pay about $30, and then for entertainment, I'll usually pay about $120, which will usually run me to about $320 to $350 left over per month, but then there's plenty of opportunities for overtime, which allows me to bring in more money to put even more money to save towards the house that I eventually wanna get in a couple years. I am currently saving for the future. I would like to be able to buy a house within a couple of years time. That's the main goal right there. I have not set up an emergency fund yet. Right now I'm concentrating on getting the credit card debt taken care of and also paying off my car, my car note, and next up would be to set up an emergency fund so I'm hoping to have the credit card debt taken care of as soon as possible. Since I started working, I've learned that the more money you make, you do tend to spend a little bit more, but there are other ways to hold onto that money. For example, you can give that money to different programs that you may have a soft heart towards, I believe, or even just start putting it towards savings. You just have to have a little more willpower with your spending and be able to put it into different places.