If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Health care community liaison: My budget and planning for the future

Teresa Nguyen, a 29-year-old community liaison, shares her experience balancing health, work, and finances. She emphasizes the importance of budgeting, especially considering her healthcare needs and student loans. Teresa's story highlights the impact of cost of living on career choices and the value of savings for emergencies.

Want to join the conversation?

No posts yet.

Video transcript

My name is Teresa Nguyen and I'm 29 years old. I'm the community liaison for Colorado Choice Transitions at the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing. It's always a double-edged sword with employment and disability. I'm fortunate now to be able to be healthy and maintain my health and be in a career path that supports my quality of life. However I can speak to two crises already that have happened this year. That have put me out of work for months and months at a time. And so the fear, the worry there is always what happens when I have a health issue? What does that mean for my employment? And eventually what does it mean for my budget? And budgets to me, or money I guess to me doesn't always mean personal spending money or money to support me but it's my healthcare benefits that come with my career. I grew up in Colorado and so I've never really left. Although the cost of living has definitely increased from the time I was attending college to now. 2017. So I would say with in the last 10 years or so it's really, really grown here. The cost of living definitely set kind of the tone for my career path and what I wanted to do. What job I was looking for. What salary was acceptable to me. What skills I needed to obtain to make myself attractive to employers. All of that. The cost of living really kind of set that in place for me. I make about $4,166 monthly, pre-tax. A portion of that is taken out to go in my 401 (K). Which my company matches a small percentage of that. After taxes and healthcare benefits and other deductions it's about $3,166. Which a portion of that will go to rent. So $850 a month. And I live with two other roommates. And so my portion is able to be that low because of that. Gas and electricity is included in my monthly rent. Internet and TV I pay about $70 a month towards those expenses. Currently I don't have a phone bill because I'm on a family plan. I have a car that I rarely use right now. It's a little complicated and has to be additionally modified. But when I do take trips or when I do have to use it it's about $40 a month on maintenance and gas. In student loans, I pay about $400 a month. I had to take out about $40,000 worth of loans for four years. And then on to graduate school, that was all loans. I took out $80,000 for two years. That puts me at about $120,000 dollars in student loans and I'm paying back monthly. I'm thankful I can make the payment. And I'm confident that I will continue to be able to make the payments. And so it's not as daunting to me as it is to others. I give myself a budget of $100 for groceries and $100 for dining out. Sometimes I don't meet that which is good. And then for entertainment. Things like vacation or small trips around Colorado or whatnot I'll leave myself $150 to $200 a month to spend on that. So leftover I have anywhere from $1,406 to $1,456. Which essentially goes into my savings account. My savings account kind of acts as an emergency fund for myself as well. And really it should just address in my mind, all of my health needs. And so essentially I don't know how much I'm saving because I always have pretty high health bills with my disability but again it's, helps me maintain my quality of life and so I'm fortunate to able to again set aside money for that. Budgeting kind of serves me in a sense of just giving me a rough idea of how much I save on a monthly basis. And so I do it for that reason. Eventually I wanna use it in a larger scale to look at mortgages and what that means for me and my budget and things like that. But I've just started. It's very new for me.