How Three Men in the Bay Area Spend (and Save) Their Money

You can’t ask your friends these questions — so we did

By Diane Rommel

How Three Bay Area Guys Spend (And Save) Their Money
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23 March 2017

No one likes talking about money.

It’s taboo. It’s gauche. And it’s a source of boundless curiosity.

So today, we’re pulling back the curtain so you can see how other guys in your tax bracket — as well as outside of it — choose to spend their money.

Below, we ask three Bay Area gents to share their habits and thoughts: how much they make, how they spend it and how life would be different if they had a little more.

  

Teacher, 30
"The years pass, and I'm like, 'I should have invested that $5K instead of having it sit in my checking.’"

Annual income: $67,000
Neighborhood: Uptown Oakland
Marital status: Single
Rent: $1,200 for bedroom in 2BR
Groceries: $50/week
Credit cards: 1
Investment plan: "A 403(b) that I put money into every month from my paycheck."
Dining out: Two or three nights a week.
Overspends on: "Books, eating out."
Hates overspending on: "Ubers."
Last treat: “I paid someone to paint our living room."
Next treat: “A vacation in Latin America."
Spender or saver? “Saver.”

 

Any financial regrets in the past five years?
“I wish I would have invested some of my savings. The years pass, and I'm like, 'I should have invested that $5K instead of having it sit in my checking."

How do you think you compare to the rest of the Bay Area  in terms of income and happiness?
“I think I make a lot less than other people because of the tech industry. I don't have any debt except for my student loan, so that might be different. I have no idea about how I compare happiness-wise. I think my job reminds me of 'what really matters' — my happiness is less connected to material objects or keeping up with the Joneses."

If you made more money, how would your life be different?
“I would feel less uncomfortable paying people to do things for me — cleaning, DIY that I can't be bothered to do myself."

What financial advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
“Invest as much as possible in the market as early as possible. Have as much as possible taken out of your paycheck for savings and automate deductions into savings. You won't really miss it and will add up over the long haul."

 

Documentary Filmmaker ("Who Occasionally Does Corporate Stuff"), 34
"Other people have more money, but I don't care, so I win.”

Annual income: $127,000
Neighborhood: Noe Valley
Marital status: Single
Rent: $2,800/month for a 1BR/1BA
Groceries: $200/week
Credit cards: 4
Investment plan: Nope
Dining out: Twice a week. Delivery two or three times a week.
Overspends on: “Everything.”
Hates overspending on: "Ubers."
Last irresponsible purchase: “Coachella tickets.”
Next irresponsible purchase: “A car. Never had one, don't really need one.”
Spender or saver? “Spender.”

 

What’s currently your biggest worry related to money? 
“I'm not a saver. It's fine as I'm single and I like to work, but any responsible woman in my life will likely come into our relationship with a better financial plan, and that is not a good look.”

Any financial regrets in the past five years?
 
“Not saving more. But at the same time, I'd probably do it exactly the same way if I did it again.”

If you made more money, how would your life be different? 
“It'd be the same. I've had more money and less, and I'm pretty comfortable with the idea that I was happy in both. Maybe I'd work on my own projects more, but even that, there's a limit to how much time I want to invest in the really heavy stuff. Sometimes it's nice to do something stupid that pays ridiculous money."

How do you think you compare to your neighbors in terms of income and happiness?
“They're obsessed. Other people — some people I work with — have more money, but I don't care, so I win.”

What financial advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
“Have fun.”

 

Sports Agent, 45
"I have a hard time weighing investment in time with my family versus what I can do at work."

Annual income: "$550,000+"
Neighborhood: Berkeley
Marital status: Married with two kids, sole breadwinner

Rent: "The house thing is in flux because we're house-sitting for family, so we're actually rent-free while we look for something permanent."
Groceries: $200/week
Credit cards: 1 credit, 1 debit
Investment plan: "A little bit in individual stocks that a hedge fund friend has recommended, most in ETFs and a lot in cash. 401(k), 529 college savings, monthly savings, life insurance, etc."
Dining out: "Once or twice a week with family, once or twice a week for work."
Overspends on: "Coffee, kids' activities, end-of-year vacation."
Hates overspending on: "Nothing — don't overspend much."
Last treat: “An expensive road bike that I ride twice a week."
Next treat: “Maybe a vacation."
Spender or saver? “Saver.”

 

What’s currently your biggest worry related to money? "That jobs and making money affects the time I have or can spend with my family. I have a hard time weighing investment in time with them versus what I can do at work, knowing that that extra time at work can mean big compensation down the road — which should mean I'll have more time later. It's hard to ensure that 'later' eventually comes."

Do you have any financial regrets? "Probably should have invested money more aggressively."

How do you think you compare to the rest of the Bay Area in terms of income and happiness? "The Bay Area income question is impossible because it's like a barbell of very high and very low. Probably higher than most, nowhere near others. This has been a year of transition and change since we just moved out here, but I think I'm generally happier than most. There a few things — i.e. our house — that once completed and moved into will aid in this."

What financial advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
 "
Spend more money on life experiences — trips — than bars, restaurants, stuff like that."

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