How a 26-year-old Denver-based civil engineer spends:

We are sharing the spending secrets of one reader each week — completely anonymously. Fill out the money diaries survey to have your voice heard! 

  • SALARY: I make $68,000 as a civil engineer based in Denver, Colorado. I have supplementary income thanks to my side hustle and overtime. I have never asked for a raise.

  • SAVINGS: I have $22,000 in savings, plus about $18,000 in my retirement fund.

  • MONTHLY EXPENSES: I pay $700 per month for rent. I contribute to my 401(k) plan and pay for my own high deductible healthcare plan through work.  I pay for Spotify, gym, 3 recurring donations, and parking each month. All utilities are a flat rate at my building. I live in Denver so I also get an annual pass for snowboarding. My family shares Netflix and newspaper subscriptions. 

  • INVESTING: I used to have an Intelligent Portfolio with Charles Schwab. I took the money out and put it into a high yield savings account when I decided I wanted to use it for a down payment in the near future. 

  • DEBT: I have two debts, my car and my student loans. My car loan is private through a family member and I pay $300 a month. The minimum on my student loans was $300 when I graduated but I've made a lot of progress paying that down. The minimum is down to $160 but I am putting in $550 a month. $200 on auto draft and $175 to my snowball on payday. Twice a year and with my tax return I make extra payments on top of that.

  • SIDE HUSTLE: I teach religious school. It pays $75 a week before taxes. Next year I hope to switch to something else but I'm taking the summer to decide what I want to do.

  • SPENDING VICTORY:  My education. 

  • SPENDING REGRET: Housing. When I first graduated college I thought I was doing the right thing with my degree/ career trajectory by leasing a luxury apartment. It didn't take long to realize that didn't fit me as a person and was not helping me accomplish my goals. I downgraded when it was up. 

  • IF I WON THE LOTTERY: I'd pay off my parent's mortgage. 

  • CHARITY: I have recurring donations set up for my local NPR station, a scholarship fund I benefited from in college and JEWISHColorado, the local umbrella organization for Jewish communities in Colorado.

  • GOALS: I have a world domination plan! Phase one is to pay off my car and student loans, pass my engineering licensing exam (the PE) aaaaand buy my first property. I'm on track to complete this phase in winter 2021. But after that, I aspire to work by choice. Largely inspired by the FIRE movement, I want to build a nest egg that will enable me to spend time with loved ones and focusing on things that speak to me. I'm lucky that my current job makes the world a better place but full financial independence would let me do things like going home for every Mother's or Father's Day, birthdays, volunteer more or just take a long weekend to go camping if the weather was just right.