Author Topic: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!  (Read 4062 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« on: May 02, 2015, 04:18:01 PM »
Life situation: Currently a university student, 3 years left for a Master's, which is the working degree for my field.  No dependents, 2 roommates, cheap state. The numbers I'm looking at are only really accurate for the next year, since I will be switching schools (and states) after that. However, I would be happy to continue living at a similar level of frugality for whatever the next location is. 

Gross Salary/Wages: For now, zip-ah-dee-do-dah.  After finishing schooling, $50,000 would be reasonable. 

Other Ordinary Income: Financial aid to the tune of ~$12,000 per year (For housing, food, etc.  Tuition, books, and fees are covered separately).
Taxes: Currently still claimed as a dependent.  (Any advice as to when I will need/want to change this if it's before starting a career?)

Current expenses: Listed by the month.
Rent: $200
Electric: $40
Water: $20
Phone: $13
Renter's Insurance: $10
Food and Miscellaneous: $120

Parents that are wonderful enough to pay for various forms of insurance while I'm attending college.
Small car, paid in full.  5 years old, 41000 miles, 27 mpg on average.
$17000 in savings
$19000 in a trust

Future Expectations:
I know the savings should be invested, I'll get on that once I know for sure what my financial situation will be while earning the master's. I expect it will be pretty similar to now, but I'd rather have a cushion already under me if it's not.
A house would be in the plans shortly after establishing a career. I think $200,000 is on the high end of a safe range for me.
Let's be honest, I have no idea what I'll be capable of living on after college. $30,000 seems safe, but feel free to adjust as you see fit.

Specific Question(s):
As much as I love the field I'm going into, it would be nice to know when I can hope to safely retire.  I'd like to take some time to travel (cheaply, not cruising around the world!) or raise mini humans after the next 10-15 years, but would be happy to drop back into the workforce while they are school-aged.


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3053
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2015, 04:35:48 PM »
You're going all the way to a Master's to earn $50,000? Any way you can change course and get a more lucrative undergrad? Two years of opportunity cost...


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2015, 04:50:38 PM »
First off, $50,000 is a reasonable starting point. That goes up considerably with experience, which I didn't factor in since I'm not sure how long I'll be there.  I have seen offers for $125,000 after 10 years.

Additionally, the last three years have taught me that this is absolutely what I love doing.  That has only been confirmed by simultaneously pursuing a degree in my second-choice field, which has turned out to be more difficult, less interesting, and less rewarding.  To me, that is worth the opportunity cost.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6945
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2015, 04:57:57 PM »
You DO know what you'll be capable of living on after college.

It's exactly what you're living on now, plus whatever your parents are paying for. I'm not saying you HAVE to live on what you are living on now... just that obviously you can :-).


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 22
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2015, 05:24:37 PM »
As to your question of when you can safely retire, check out this MMM post, which correlates years versus savings rate:

Good luck - you are already way ahead of the game!


  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3503
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2015, 07:52:29 PM »
Are your parents paying your tuition? If not it's not really that generous to pay a little bit of insurance and they get $3000 a year back in taxes plus education tax credits.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 41
Re: Case Study: On my mark, getting set.... go!
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2015, 07:18:22 PM »
I see you mentioned looking at homes in the $200,000 value with an estimated income of ~$50,000. Your housing expense will likely be your largest expense after school. I'd be a bit cautious throwing out that kind of money early in your career unless you are counting on having roommates to help offset costs and want to remain in your area.

Depending on your career and personal preferences, you may want/need to be focused on your career and renting usually offers a lot less distractions (ie: no lawn care, shoveling, regular maintenance, etc). Homeownership can be stressful when things go wrong at the same time job hours pick up.

Additionally, when opportunities present themselves, you want to be able to pursue them and not be location dependent because of the inconvenience of selling your house and possibly at a loss.

I purchased my home at less than 2x my salary and have a roommate. My housing costs are ridiculously low compared to most people and it allows me the freedom to have my money work on my other goals (investing, paying debt).

On the expense side, housing and transportation are the two key areas that will impact your savings rate. If you get these two categories right and don't inflate them as your income increases, you will be better off than the majority of people.

Good luck!