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EMT: My budget and planning for the future

What’s it like to budget on an EMT salary? Is financial assistance available to pay for the required training? Ian walks through his monthly budget for life in Savannah, Georgia and talks about opportunities to learn more and earn more as he advances in this field.

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Video transcript

My name is Ian Kelsey, 25 years old. I'm an EMT/firefighter, and all in, my salary is roughly 34 to 36,000 a year. I seem to be one of those people where money burns a hole in my pocket. I can't get rid of it fast enough. But I feel like I've been fairly decent at, at least in the short term, planning ahead, making sure I set enough aside for rent, bills, you know, other expenses, groceries, et cetera. I've never really been in too much of a panic mode. And with this job, there's always overtime opportunities, so if I really need to, I know I can make some extra money two weeks down the line, and I'll be set. I was able to... leave the Fire/EMT Academy and college no loans, no debt, because of the federal financial aid. Initially my parents were able to help me out with the college, which was very nice, but besides that it was pretty much grants, grant money, and no loans. Moving forward, additional certifications will probably be, if not financed totally, partly, by whatever department I'm with. The rest of it will probably come out of pocket. The department I'm with currently is hosting their own in-house paramedic training, so they'll cover the full cost of that as well as any classroom costs, book costs, et cetera. So that's a really good opportunity. Most departments are willing to work with their personnel and get them better training, because it keeps them in house. It keeps the money in house, and it allows them to maintain and retain the same personnel. I live in downtown Savannah. Savannah, Georgia. Cost of living is... fairly low. The state of Georgia does have a state income tax in addition to the federal income tax, so that digs into my pay a little bit more than some other areas might. Previously, when I was living in Florida, there's no state income tax, but the sales tax is higher. So it balances itself out. So my monthly income, pre-tax, is about $2,800. I have taxes, both state and federal, and benefits and... deductions for a 401-K with my department, which totals roughly 900 a month. So my take-home income is just shy of two grand. I'm looking at $700 in rent in where I'm at. My gas and electric bills can be up to $100, depending on what the weather's been like. So we've had some cold snaps recently. Had to turn on the heat for once. It gets real warm in the summer sometimes, turn on the A/C. But my internet and phone bills, 70, $50 each. I'm making only about $30 payment on my car. It's almost paid off entirely, so that's gonna be going away soon. As stated before, don't have any loans currently. I'm spending maybe 300 a month on groceries or maybe going out. My entertainment, or the rest of my income, basically, left over from all this goes towards maybe going out with friends, maybe buying equipment for some of the different sports I play or, you know, just odds and ends for the most part. But if I scale back on that, my leftover money is usually about... $300 to $500. And I'm able to contribute some of that towards a savings account that I have, in addition to whatever's been left over for the 401-K with my department. My financial goals-- This year especially, I'm hoping to actually buy a house. I figure a mortgage is cheaper than rent, you know, the main issue being the down payment, the closing costs, et cetera. So I'm trying to scale back here and there so I can close in on that. But there's also some really great opportunities. A, I'd be a first-time home buyer. B, I'd be a first responder. And C, I would be under the age of 30. And those three things allow me to apply for different state and federal aid programs that would either cut the monthly payments or maybe give X amount of dollars towards down payments, et cetera. So all those things have really been able to allow me to plan financially for buying a house, having some equity in my pocket, and plan for a future.