Author Topic: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.  (Read 6074 times)

Powforbreakfast

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I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« on: January 27, 2015, 10:19:56 AM »
The cut and dry -- I figured I would share my living situation because it's an interesting perspective in the scope of money.  I decided to share here because people are often flabbergasted at what I do and I wanted to assess some mustachian responses.

I graduated from a prestigious university with good marks as a Biology Major in 2013.  Long story short, I'm super fortunate to have ridiculously smart parents that invested as much as possible.  We own a multi-million dollar business and to this day my parents still live in a remodeled double-wide mobile home.  In the desert.  On our farm. I am essentially a trust-fund baby.  I've been receiving the maximum non-taxable gift legally possible for 3 years now (14k this year) because my dad wants to pass on his wealth over time as tax-incentived as he can.  One day my brother and I will co-own the majority of the business.

So, being privileged as I am and knowing I want to work in the same industry (fermentation science), I decided to take a fairly non-mustachian path for the next decade, knowing I could be immediately wealthier had I chosen a different door.  For wine production, making decisions based on climate, geography, and subjective and objective qualities that change seasonally is what makes one a superb winemaker, which is my goal one day.

So -- I have been crossing the equator twice a year in order to complete two harvests in one 12-month period in order to gain a broad scope of wine production techniques and to redefine my palate.  That means typically at least two, but more typically four, very expensive plane tickets I have to buy each year.  I'm well educated, but taking jobs around the world necessarily dictates that you're paid little and can usually only work for 2-4 months at a time.  So, that means that in any 12-month period, I work around 6 months total, for 60-80 hours a week (depending on vintage demands), and often get paid little.  For example, when I leave for my next vintage in south america here in a few weeks, I'll be making about 3 USD per hour.

So, right now, my year can look anything like this, depending on where I work and how much I will get paid.
Income:
14k (gift)
6k - 15 k (income)

Savings:
At least the maximum roth IRA contribution: 5.5k
Vanguard for anything I have left over for the year.

I love my job and I hope to work until old age.
I plan to get my PhD starting in 2017.  I'll get an assistantship in the amount between 20-25 k/ year to go to school.
When I'm done with school, my salary will be worth around 100k (that means I'll have to stay in one spot!)

At the time of writing, I'm 23 years old.  I have a roth IRA that has been rolled over into a locked-growth roth (when Obama got re-elected due to favorable growth rates at the time) that's worth 60 k now and about 82 k at the end of the 10-year locked growth period in 2022.  (I've been saving since I was 14 and when I was younger my parents gave me the difference I couldn't make in order to meet the maximum roth IRA contribution every year).  I have another Roth IRA that is worth about 17 k and about 6 k plunked into vanguard funds.

When it's all said and done, I live fairly simply -- about 10-15 k / year, including traveling expenses, which gets super pricey when you're out of the country for half of the year.  I don't "make" money, particularly considering I have a pre-med degree, but my life is incredibly fun, I've already been to more countries than most people will ever go, and I have a plan for FI when I decide to move back home and work for our family business within a decade.

I just had to share with you all.  I won't change what I'm doing, but i'm interested to hear your thoughts! Most people congratulate me for knowing what I want to do.  Some are grossed out about how little I make.  Some ask me why in the world I would want to leave the states when I could get a "better" job here. Many ask me why I didn't graduate from college and go work straight for my parents (ha!).

Save hard,
Powforbreakfast

greenmimama

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 10:43:46 AM »
Sounds like you live a great life doing something you enjoy :)

yyc-phil

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 11:03:48 AM »
It sounds like what you are doing now is a very good way to be ready for eventually taking over the family business, which sounds to be a very interesting field. Money is not an issue for you, and you seem to be enjoying an interesting but relatively frugal lifestyle. Continue learning and have fun doing it.

Hey It's Me

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 08:45:12 AM »
Damn, hope you're having some great adventures in all of these countries. Don't be afraid to provide some more details so those "stuck in one place" can live vicariously through you, haha.

Numbers Man

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2015, 08:53:03 AM »
Sounds like you have your head on straight and have a life plan. You are learning as much as possible both academically and out in the field. You will be a good steward to your parent's business.

Adventine

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2015, 11:34:04 PM »
It sounds like a fantastic way to live. Keep us updated with your adventures!

Sara

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 10:58:33 AM »
I'm not sure how quickly your parents are wanting to pass on their wealth, but the IRS limit is 14,000 per person, so your dad can give you $14,000 and your mom can give you $14,000 for a total of $28,000 a year, and not have to pay a gift tax.

lifejoy

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2015, 09:46:50 AM »
Awesome, very inspirational story! Feel free to share more details :)

Powforbreakfast

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2015, 10:02:22 AM »
Thank you for your kind words everyone! Anything in particular you'd like to know..?

JoeO

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2015, 11:13:00 AM »

Very cool. What do you actually do when you work the harvest?

Are there gigs for others (people not normally in the wine business) who want to go work for a couple months?

Powforbreakfast

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2015, 12:06:08 PM »

Very cool. What do you actually do when you work the harvest?

Are there gigs for others (people not normally in the wine business) who want to go work for a couple months?

I spend about 1/4 - 1/2 of my day in the analytical lab (basic wine chemistry) depending on the demands of the current week.  The rest of the time I'm dealing with physical production -- Tanks, hoses, pumps, cleaning, additions, bottling, racking, tasting, you name it.

There are avenues to work vintages if you're not involved in the wine industry.  With no applicable education or experience, you might look in australia or new zealand for jobs to get your feet wet.  Local wineries here on the west coast will also hire for harvest gigs.  You should expect, as a newbie, to do a lot of cleaning and sanitizing ;) You can PM me if you're truly interested in some specific sites to search for jobs.  Southern hemisphere vintages start jan-march and northern vintages are typically august or september.

JoeO

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Re: I'm 23, make 20k / year, and here's why I'm happy.
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2015, 12:38:27 PM »
May do. Thanks!