This 23-year-old has $11,000 in student debt but is still "living comfortably" on a $50,000 salary in New York (2023)

This story is part of CNBC Make It'sMillennial MoneySeries that portrays and describes how people in the United States make, save and spend their money.

After graduating from Ithaca College in spring 2018, Elena Haskins landed her first full-time job in New York City. But the 23-year-old is far from a freshman when it comes to the job.

"I've always had part-time jobs," she says.CNBC does it. "I think it's important to have an extra income, even if you're supporting your family. You want to have your own money.”

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In Ithaca, Haskins worked for careers services, the library, and was a counseling director. She's now a full-time associate designer at financial media and conferences company PEI, but she's working on side projects outside of the 9-5: she freelances photography and has recently launched a website.Converge, which serves as a guide for graduates to transition into the real world.

Elena Haskins graduated from Ithaca College in 2018

Quelle: Elena Haskins

Her side hustle doesn't add much to her income right now — Converge is a free resource, and her photography brings in about $500 a year, which "is nice money," she says, "but I definitely don't count on it."

The Brooklyn resident lives on $50,000 a year, her PEI salary, part of which pays off her student loans. That debt isn't stopping him from making the most of his 20s.

"I definitely think that on a $50,000 salary, you can live comfortably, even in New York City," says Haskins. "It's an expensive city, but I think if you know where your money is going and you know what your priorities are, it's totally doable."

I definitely think that even in New York City, you can live comfortably on a $50,000 salary.

Elena Haskin

what does she get

Haskins, who started her full-time job in September 2018, is happy with her starting salary of $50,000, but "I'm definitely looking forward to making the move when I hit the one-year mark," she says.

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She is part of an organization calledLadies get paid, an online network of thousands of women around the world: “There is a whole channel about negotiation, so I read it every day to see what people are doing, especially in my industry, and I try to learn from others Learn about women in power and people in leadership positions.

Your goal is to make $100,000 before you turn 30. Even if he starts making more money, he doesn't think his lifestyle will change much: "I'm not going to start spending a lot of money on food or Ubers. Much of this will likely go into savings. But maybe I could buy more eggs or a better shampoo; it would be nice to have that little buff. In general my budget will still be pretty similar even if I get a raise."

what she spends

Here's a breakdown of what Haskins spends in a typical month.

Rent: $950

Haskins lives with a roommate in Brooklyn and pays $950 a month for half of their apartment.

"I think there's a lot of misconceptions about Brooklyn and New York in general," he says. "Yes, it's expensive, but there are places to live, especially for recent grads, youth, or people on a budget, as long as you balance your money properly."

While rent is by far her biggest expense, "For me, New York City is definitely livable," she adds. "There are so many options. There is so much going on. I can't imagine living anywhere else."

Professional Development: $340

One of Haskins' biggest releases is a 10-week user experience certification course that started in July. He received a $1,500 scholarship and has a six-month payment plan to cover the rest of his tuition. You owe $340 a month through December 2019.

"Education is very important to me, especially if it fits what I want to do professionally," he says. "I love doing graphic design, but I really want to get into the user experience side and this course will give me a more formal foundation."

Haskins, left, moved to Brooklyn, NY in September 2018

Quelle: Elena Haskins

Essen: 340 $

Haskins shops for groceries twice a month and spends about $120 in total. On average, you spend another $220 at restaurants, but that spend varies; For example, if friends are in town, you'll spend more when you go out.

However, she never orders: "That's something I really mind because I don't want to pay shipping costs. I don't want to spend money just because I'm lazy."

Shipping: $145

Haskins pays for an unlimited subway card ($120 a month straight from her paycheck) to commute from Brooklyn to her Manhattan office.

He also spends about $25 a month on ridesharing. "I'm very careful with my subway card because I'm paying for it, so I try not to use Uber or Lyft that often," he says. "But when I do, it's usually late at night and sometimes on weekends."

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Debt payment: $130

Haskins has been paying off her student loans, which started at about $16,000, since her senior year of college. "I've always had a little extra money from part-time jobs, so I put a little money into it every week so I could reduce my salary and interest after graduation."

She now owes nearly $11,000 and makes the minimum payment of $130 a month.

Before starting her certification program, Haskins was putting $300 a month into her loans, "but I had to reallocate my budget a bit to accommodate the course," she explains, adding, "It's definitely worth it because of the education and development it does." is. . "

Her goal is to be debt free in the next five years. To that end, he plans to increase his monthly payments again in early 2020 when he finishes paying for his certification course.

Haskins does freelance photography on the side

Quelle: Elena Haskins

All or Rest: $275

  • Abonnements: $75 (Fitnessstudio, Spotify, Squarespace, Adobe Cloud, Google Storage)
  • Entertainment: $60
  • Utilities and Wi-Fi: $50
  • Phone: $40
  • Spenden: 30 $ (an Planned Parenthood und Radiolab)
  • Laundry: $15
  • Insurance: $5 for life insurance (included in your parents' health insurance plan)

what she keeps

Haskins saves $880 a month: $330 goes automatically from her paycheck to a SIMPLE IRA, a tax-deferred, employer-sponsored retirement plan, and $550 goes straight into her high-yielding savings account. Your employer offers a match on your IRA.

Your savings account consists of different piggy banks: one for travel expenses, one for emergencies, and one for gifts and donations. She currently has $4,500 in her emergency fund but hopes to eventually have the equivalent of her salary saved.

She's automated everything: as soon as she receives her paycheck, a percentage goes straight into each of her savings cubes, helping to keep her savings rate high. "I like to live my life with the least amount of money I have," she says. "I automatically put it in the savings account, so I don't have access to it."

I like to live my life with the least amount of money that is available to me. I automatically put it in savings so I don't have access to it.

Elena Haskin

Keep it cheap in an expensive city

Even though New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, it's possible to have fun on a budget, says Haskins: "You don't have to go to really expensive restaurants in the park. Many of them. My friends and I had picnics and dinners, so this is a great way to hang out with people without breaking the bank."

She pays $10 for a year's subscription to Brew N Boards, a New York group that meets regularly to drink and play board games: "It's amazing because I can learn new games and it's only $10 dollars a year.”

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She also subscribes to email lists and newsletters that alert her to free events around town.

Haskins is a member of the Brew N Board

Quelle: Elena Haskins

Turn your passion into a side project

When she's not at work, Haskins spends most of her time working on her website, Converge, which covers everything from writing a resume and creating a budget to navigating house hunting and making friends in a new city .

"I wanted to create an actionable resource that I could give to people," says Haskins, who worked in Ithaca's professional services department for three years and aspires to start a professional development consultancy.

“It's not making me any money right now,” she says, “but I think it's really important not to always work for the money. Right now I really want to give something back. A lot of people helped me when I was in transition, and I want to do that for other students."

What the experts say

CNBC Make It Asked Personal Finance ExpertFarnoosh Torabito comment on what Haskins is doing well and how he can improve. Here are your thoughts.

Farnoosh Torabi

Christopher Polk/NBC | NBC Universal | fake pictures

She is an excellent saver and spends her money wisely.

Their savings rate is impressive, says Torabi. She is wise to keep her biggest expense, the apartment, as low as possible for where she lives: “Her rent is admirable: $950 is a lot for most cities, but less than $1,000 in New York being able to afford per month is fine.”

Plus, as a percentage of your income, you're spending just the right amount: "You're probably spending about 30% of your after-tax net income on rent," says Torabi, who recommends limiting your housing budget to 30%. Or less. . . your income.

An emergency fund covering three months' expenses is sufficient

While Haskins' goal of saving $50,000 in an emergency fund is commendable, he doesn't have to set aside that much, says Torabi: "He could get by on three months' worth of savings, which would be closer to $10,000."

Instead of putting $550 into his high-yield savings account, which includes emergency savings, and $330 into his retirement fund, "let's flip it," says Torabi. "Your priority should be to maximize tax-deferred accounts first. SIMPLE IRA gives you two benefits: a match and a tax deduction."

By transferring your savings, you still fill up your fund with enough money for the tough days, but put more of your money to work in a retirement fund.

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Haskins lives comfortably in New York with $50,000

Quelle: Elena Haskins

You might consider investing in a Roth IRA

A 20-year-old with a good salary and manageable debt, Haskins is "an excellent candidate to start investing," says Torabi.

Once you've maxed out your SIMPLE IRA, or at least contributed enough to get the full equivalent of the company, "the next best place to put your money would be in a Roth IRA," she says.

With a Roth IRA, you contribute after-tax money so you can withdraw tax-free contributions and income when you turn 59½. The reason this account type is particularly suitable for Haskins and all those just starting their careers is because younger workers are likely to be making less today than they will be in the future. This puts you in a lower tax bracket and pays less tax than later.

Heuan income limit on the Roth IRA, which the IRS determines each year based on modified adjusted gross income (MAGI): For 2019, a single person with a MAGI of $137,000 or more and a married couple earning more than $203,000 cannot contribute directly to a Roth. That's why it's wise for Haskins to take advantage of Roth now, because "if she makes more money, she'll get ripped off," Torabi says.

There is also a contribution limit: in 2019 it is$6,000 per yearfor people under 50 years of age.

She should be aiming for a salary in excess of $100,000 per year.

As for Haskins' goal of making six figures by age 30, "I would push her even harder," says Torabi. "I could probably be there by 27 or 28."

It's good to set specific goals, Torabi adds: "It motivates you to ask for a raise and look for more job opportunities and side hustles." Earn and achieve salary target. I'm sure she will make it."

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