Pages

Managing Your Money - Building a Personal Financial Model

Inspired by: I cant save money

tl;dr: This could be the most important model you ever build.

Prologue

When I started IBD in Toronto, I had a mortgage but no house. My MBA student loan was pretty bad (Canadian schools, while they don't enjoy the prestige of our US counterparts, can nonetheless be equally expensive). The worst and probably most embarrassing part is, despite being a low cost of living location (globally speaking) and relatively high comp (all-in pay for Analysts and Associates is comparable to places like NYC), I was somehow not saving any money. I would need to blow off steam, usually aggressive drinks with the guys (lots of bottles, although not so much models. I know... no game). I think the point is if you are willing to spend money, there is always someone willing to take it.

I had a short but rough unemployment patch before starting my MBA and the idea of living with no income and eating into my savings was still too fresh in my mind. Yet, because of the stresses of banking, I couldn't help but want to blow off steam. Aggressively. One night after waking up to a bill of several k's, I decided that this was a bad strategy. Being a finance nerd, I figured the solution was to build my own personal financial model. I realized afterwards that some of my colleagues had them as well.

In the hopes of helping other monkeys avoid some of the stupid mistakes I have made, I would like to present the high level steps for how I build a personal financial model and how it helped me get a handle on my spending. To be clear, the model didn't change my day-to-day spending (I didn't stop going out for lunch, drinks or buying my friends and family gifts etc.), but it just made it clear where all my money was going so I felt more comfortable with my habits.

It's actually gotten to the point where I was speaking to a financial advisor recently and they said I might be saving too aggressively (sure, he was trying to sell me his investment products, but I'll take the compliment).

1. Top-Line

Easiest step. How much do you make on your regular pay check? The only trick is that taxes change throughout the year as you pay off your Social Security (Canadians: Social Insurance) over the year, but otherwise this part should be pretty predictable.

The trickiest part is bonus, but I think most people will tell you to "bank your bonus" so I didn't even model it in my first few years. And what ever I got made sure I hit my $18k 401k max (or RRSP for Canadians) first and the rest was to pay down student debt / save.

2. Budgeted Expenses

This is the trickiest part. It's often hard to estimate your expenses. I had two categories: run-rate (monthly) budget (rent, dinners, lunches, coffees, occasional drinks, transportation etc.) and discrete seasonal (planned holidays, birthdays, gifts, charitable donations etc.).

I created what I thought was a typical budget. And then to back check, I downloaded the last three months worth of credit card statements, categorized all the expenses and compared my budget to my actual spending. I was actually pretty close, but had to make some adjustments (ate out a little more than I expected and the meals after tax and tip were a little higher than I originally thought).

Also, once you get to this step, you can start to calculate how much you should be saving on a regular basis. After this step, I set up an automated transfer from my checking to savings (or initially, student debt pay down). I also calculated my own min-cash balance as I wanted to pay down my debt as fast as possible.

3. "Unique One-Time Adjustments"

This is the most important part. Tracking unbudgeted overspend. Once you have parts 1 and 2, you need a place to track your actual spending against your anticipated spending. Any large deltas have to be captured and a comment put in place. This won't immediately change your spending habits, but as you see it over time, you become more aware of where you are wasting money.

If I overspent, I knew I wouldn't be able to make my automated saving target and would either have to cancel it, or temporarily transfer money from my savings to checking. That forced me to acknowledge that I had mis-calculated: something I did not enjoy on a very visceral level. Missing targets then became very obvious.

4. Retirement - LTIP

Make a LTIP for yourself. I found that this helped. Because what's the point of making a short term goal if there isn't a long term objective? This is highly illustrative math for myself, but I like to think that with reasonable assumptions, I'm doing ok in the long run also. Getting a financial advisor at this point also helps (and I can keep them honest because I can back check their work against my personal model).

Epilogue

I built my personal financial model several years ago now. I paid off all my student debt within two years (not hard to do in IBD if you aren't stupid about spending) and have saved a decent amount of money. I deliberately dragged paying my student debt towards the end. I deliberately kept a small balance to encourage myself to stay hungry and as a reminder of leaner times. Also, it was cheap capital. I also have several years of records and can tell you exactly how much I've spent over the years. I haven't enjoyed life any less, but I feel much more comfortable about my spending habits.

How about you? Do you have a personal financial model? Do you keep pretty close to it? Any other suggestions or tips for fellow monkeys? As always, SB's for helpful insight.

Comments (216)

Nov 1, 2016

Personal capital is a great tool to track everything. "What gets measured gets managed"

    • 1
Nov 1, 2016

Really great post.

I think the most important thing when budgeting is finding a plan(whatever it may be) that works for you. Too many times people set over aggressive goals which leads to failure.

Personally, before I made a "plan" I monitored my spending habits for a few months. It was really insightful to see where my money was actually going and helped me understand where I could successfully cut my spending.

To each their own, but I don't think you can go wrong with your advice as long as you're disciplined.

Best Response
Nov 1, 2016

bravo bro, bravo. I'm certainly a fan of budgets, and I do a lot of financial planning for clients, so I've been through these types of exercises. I think it'd be helpful if I shared some tips I use myself and have helped make my clients rich. remember, I have virtually no clients who are business owners or inheritors, they're all self made employees who worked their way up, mostly millionaires by early 40s.

  1. don't take one step forward & 2 steps back. I see it all the time where people load up on fixed expenses and then wait for bonuses + a 10% 401k contribution to bail them out. live below your means and you'll be able to save more (saving high % of your income is what leads to greater wealth). this may mean getting roommates, living in hoboken, not owning a car, but it doesn't mean no fun. mortgage/rent is usually the biggest culprit here, so keep living expenses manageable. the rule of thumb I'll use is <1.5%. if your monthly mortgage/rent is <1.5% of your pretax annual income, you're doing great. personally, mine is <1% but I live in a tier 2 city and my fiance works so I have more options than single new yorkers, but this has greatly freed up cash flow.
  2. make it automatic. even if you're a hedge fund analyst and are great at picking names, have something automatic that you put 100, 200, 500, 1000, whatever a month into that invests for you. in your 20s and 30s, time, not timing, is what matters. I don't care where you invest (FA, wealthfront, Vanguard, whatever), just dollar cost average every single month.
  3. don't treat a rise in income as a rise in lifestyle. of clients, this is the absolutely most critical. most of my clients get stock grants and big bonuses, they don't treat this as an opportunity to buy a ferrari or a new big house. sure, if they get a $100k bonus after tax, they may take 30k and do whatever with it, but they save the vast majority of all of that stuff. on raises, they don't take this as the impetus to join an expensive country club, change who they are, etc., they treat it as gravy. if you don't increase your lifestyle as your income increases, you'll be able to save more, which is the key here.
  4. they focus on work, not their finances. obviously I'm biased because this is what I do, but I think part of my clients' financial success has to do with their desire to invest their time & energy in bettering themselves at their career, rather than meddling with the most optimal savings strategy, trying to save a nickel here or a percentage point there. if your income is rising because you do well at your work and you can continuously save more as a result, the details and mechanics of your finances don't really matter.

I want to expand on this last point more, because this forum is naturally populated with detail oriented, analytical types who are all in finance. you all want to make the best investment decisions, earn the highest rate of return, and usually prefer doing nothing over risking making a sub optimal decision. I'm here to tell you you're WRONG. yes, it's important to get a feel for markets, but don't do it with all or even most of your money. yes, it's important to understand what to do, but don't overcomplicate things with macros for your monthly budget, doing modelling of future returns, sensitivity analysis on different savings strategies, just keep it simple. as I said in another thread: buy VT, add as much as you possibly can monthly & from bonuses, and go to the beach (and don't forget to thank me in 30 years).

sure, the election may create volatility this month, but you should still buy. sure, seasonality may affect markets in February as the new POTUS is inaugurated and we're disappointed by Q4 earnings with the backdrop of higher rates, but you should still buy. I've seen this with my friends and with some potential clients, they have analysis paralysis. just save money, as much as you possibly can. you can try to outperform or you can just accept market performance, but what's ruined most financial plans is not whether you were in index funds versus value funds versus DFA, it's not putting enough money away or it's being in cash at the wrong time. absolutely keep a cash cushion for emergencies or once your net worth starts to rise, but again, in your 20s and 30s, time not timing is what matters, so just continue to contribute and get back to work.

    • 15
Nov 1, 2016

was hoping that you would attach an excel spreadsheet on this thread.

    • 4
    • 2
Nov 3, 2016

Thank you for this insightful post

Learn More

7,548 questions across 469 investment banks. The WSO Investment Banking Interview Prep Course has everything you'll ever need to start your career on Wall Street. Technical, Behavioral and Networking Courses + 2 Bonus Modules. Learn more.

Nov 6, 2016

I kinda need this, to start managing myself. Fckn hate the mornings after night out. No, I'm fine with the hangover part, gotta pay for the fun but when you open the banking account to asses the damage that's when sh*it hits the fan. The available cash position usually says something like "Yeah, you assassinated 10 long islands last night mthfckr! Oh and guess what? you also paid for everyone at the table, a**hole!". True story.

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

    • 1
Nov 6, 2016

I really hate my weekend self for this reason. How is it that I'm in financial advisory, but I'm a dumbass when it comes to my money?

    • 1
Nov 6, 2016

This can be a topic for a whole Phd thesis. The talent with which I wipe out my banking account during the weekend greatly exceeds my financial wisdom, thus canceling it out and leaving just a happy alcoholic waving his credit card calling for more shots. Sh*t.

You killed the Greece spread goes up, spread goes down, from Wall Street they all play like a freak, Goldman Sachs 'o beat.

    • 1
Nov 6, 2016

Every time I saw these threads in the past couple of weeks, I always have to think about this article: http://business.asiaone.com/personal-finance/news/...

Nov 30, 2016

Good article

Mar 30, 2018

Pretty useful post - also having different accounts / cards for different purposes (generic, investments, currencies, savings...) can be helpful managing personal budget & LTP

Mar 30, 2018

You should really consider not using your email address as your username.

My biggest "expense" is honestly my 401k. My firm allows post-tax contributions (see this article on the mega backdoor Roth IRA), but only allows a maximum of 25% of one's salary to be contributed to one's 401k. If you take my 401k, HSA, and regular, taxable brokerage account contributions into account, I probably save between 40-50% of my pre-tax salary.

Rent makes up about 12% of my pre-tax pay. I probably spend about 2% on groceries. I spend the rest on vacations, going out, etc.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

Poorly.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

I'd max my roth IRA and then max out the 401(k). Vanguard index funds only; convert to admiral shares when you have enough money.

Mar 30, 2018

If your company offers a 401(k) match, contribute up to that percentage in the 401(k), then max the Roth, then after that go back and max the 401(k). You should absolutely max both of these accounts as soon as you can afford to. As I'm sure you're aware, starting early is the most powerful asset you have in retirement planning.

As far as where to put the money, don't just blindly invest in a target retirement fund and hope for the best. Take the time and do your research. If you're going to invest in an actively managed fund, make sure it has outperformed it's comparable index after expenses on both a 5 and 10 year basis.

Make sure you avoid credit cards and other high interest debt though. You don't want to end up in a position where your maxed out retirement accounts are earning 11% while you are paying the credit card companies 20% a year in interest payments.

Mar 30, 2018

Surprised more people aren't interested in this topic.

Despite the fact many on this site will have high earning potential, the fact is most people will not get to the level of say $1MM per year income.

I'm currently reading The Millionaire Next Door and it's interesting to note that a lot of high earners are not what were considered wealthy ($1MM net worth).

What are some more strategies you guys use?

What percentage of income are you trying to save?

Mar 30, 2018

Great advice, too bad most of the kids won't take it

Mar 30, 2018
D M:

Great advice, too bad most of the kids won't take it

You mean most kids don't know how to take it.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Mar 30, 2018

Number two and three were incredible to learn early on - I'm still wearing off-the-rack suits but spend the money to get them tailored and they look fantastic. Cooking is great, relaxing, healthy, money-saving, builds a skill and I've found a homemade dinner to make a great second date (women seem to like men who can cook).

If I were to add a 6 it would be to Stay in Touch (friends who moved, former co-workers, even professors who you developed a relationship with).

"I am not sure who this 'Anonymous' person is - one thing is for certain, they have been one hell of a prolific writer" - Anonymous

Mar 30, 2018

6. Have 6-month's living expenses liquid because shit happens.

Mar 30, 2018

What a novel idea!

Mar 30, 2018
Ben Shalom Bernanke:

What a novel idea!

Sorry for stepping in Ben, I just figured since nobody put it in this forum it wouldn't get heard...

Mar 30, 2018

+1.

If we go with this, I will stand in for fellow Illinois Alumn Suze Orman and run occasional "Can I afford it?" and "How am I doing?" threads.

Mar 30, 2018

I'll be leaving the bubble world of dollar beer or dollar pizza nights in a few months and a personal finance forum woud be a huge help. It doesn't make sense to work hard to get a job just to blow all of your money.

Mar 30, 2018

this would be a great idea - when i was in ug i spent hours and hours reading personal finance blogs and websites, there's a ton to understand that nobody's born knowing. i'd be happy to answer posts in there to the extent that i can

Mar 30, 2018

Good idea!

Mar 30, 2018

hey guys, you shoudl check out this group: http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/group/wso-investmen...
Has a lot of members but not much activity...maybe you can change that?

Mar 30, 2018

Very true, good point. I don't think the member groups get as much activity as maybe they should... Maybe a way to change that would be to add a set of forums below all the other ones that are unique to that user, with each group having it's own forum? I don't know if that would be feasible, but maybe a happy medium to cluttering up the WSO boards and people having the forums that they want. Or you could just make it so people can pick and choose which forums they want to have displayed. I don't know much about coding, but that sounds like it might be a little more trouble than it's worth...

Mar 30, 2018

I believe the general consensus is in your youth to invest whatever 'savings' income you have into growth stocks, high dividend stocks, some easily liquidated assets (savings account etc.).

My personal view is to aim to save 10% of my income each year, to always have 6 months living costs available in cash and invest the rest into a high-interest rate account or high dividend blue-chip stocks.

If you want advice on thrift and living for less, I'm sure Illiniprogrammer will be along soon to advise you on rusty Hondas :)

Mar 30, 2018

If at all possible, I always recommend saving 20% of after-tax income. At first, that 20% should go toward your emergency fund (6+ months of expenses and/or catastrophe funds) and then should be invested according to your risk preferences. While you still have loans outstanding, you could apply part of the 20% (no more than half) to paying down debt (assuming that you can't earn significantly higher returns on investments compared to what you lose in interest).

I know 20% seems high but it instills a certain discipline, especially early in your career, that will serve you well later in life.

Mar 30, 2018

This thread is desperately calling for input from IlliliProgrammer...

Mar 30, 2018
Revolution:

This thread is desperately calling for input from IlliliProgrammer...

I'll just do it for him.

1) Drink Yellowtail
2) Buy a used honda or, if you're feeling pretentious, a new base model Mustang
3) Go hang-gliding
4) Retire to island in Michigan

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Mar 30, 2018

Your first step should be to max out your 401k. Not just the amount to get your full employer contribution, but the $17k pre-tax that you can contribute next year. You never see the money so you can't spend it.

Then create a budget based on your take-home income (now excluding your monthly 401k contribution), in this budget take 10% of the total and have it automatically directed to a separate savings account every pay day (I actually used to keep mine at a separate bank - out of sight, out of mind) from where you do your day-to-day spending. This will be your emergency savings.

It will be painful to curb your spending initially, but you will get used to it.

Mar 30, 2018

LOL

Mar 30, 2018

spot on happpypants

Mar 30, 2018

Assuming your loan interest rate is in the single digits, job #1 for you is to get a company match on your 401k if you get any. If you work for a BB, they will typically have some sort of match program. If you're not sure, check with HR; they will know exactly what you're talking about and won't mind you asking at all.

After that, you should spend no more than two nights/week eating out at a sitdown place with friends. Otherwise, you are cooking at home or getting a sandwich from Subway (cheap healthy food).

I'm finding that a lot of vegetable/fruit markets in Manhattan charge LESS than what I was paying at the supermarket in Hoboken or downstate Illinois for that matter. Find one of those vegetable markets by you and load up on carrots, broccoli, and lettuce every week. Broccoli, carrots, and lettuce should cost you less than $4 if you find a good place. My place just charged me $3.50 for three grapefruit, a pint of blackberries, and a bag of carrots.

Electricity in Manhattan costs about $0.19/kwh. If you have an electric bill, make a habit of turning stuff off before you leave for work and before you go to sleep. (I need white noise to sleep and have a 40 watt fan, but 6 cents/night is worth it.) Now you know why Dad yelled when someone changed the thermostat or left lights running.

Optimize your commute/taxes. If your commute is more than 30 minutes, consider Hoboken next year. 85% of the west village, 70% of the rent.

Save your bonus. Your bonus is the risk premium they pay you for working in trading. That should go straight to paying down debt or straight into your 401k if you haven't already maxed it out. Regardless, when you get the money, the person with the frugal habits the month prior was the person who earned the money. HIS values earned it. Do you really want to change them?

Once you've maxed out your retirement savings, stick the money into a diversified portfolio of dividend stocks- utilities, pharma, oil, MLPs, and consumer staples. This is what makes saving so much fun. If you spend a little time every once and a while calculating your dividend yield and how much income an extra $1000 buys you, you start to find more joy in saving than you do in spending.

To get you started, here's an interesting fact. If your investments return CPI+ 6%/year over the long term like they have for the past 85 years, $1K saved today will turn into about $600/year inflation adjusted, permanently, at retirement.

Frugal habits aren't much work and can add up to 10-20% of your spending EASILY. Incidentally, I recommend saving 15-20% of your income if you want to retire between 65 and 70. You might get some help from an employer match, and you can factor some of that in. Either way, it's your future and your retirement, and you need to decide how much better money-wise life needs to get as you age.

Mar 30, 2018

What are your thoughts on IRA/Roth IRA?

Mar 30, 2018

If you are planning on earning $100K+/year, don't do a deductible IRA. you probably can't do it, and even if you can, your marginal tax rate will be higher when you take the money out.

A Roth IRA is a darned good deal. I don't always follow my own advice- I love cash accounts where I am collecting dividends- especially after my calculations are showing I've got a lot coming in at retirement if I make 6% contributions for the rest of my career- but it doesn't hurt to max it out after your 401k. Tax rates are probably going up.

If you are planning on an MBA or an MFE, definitely max out your 401k and try not to convert until your pretax savings is more than any potential tuition. You may qualify for a business expense tax deduction on your tuition, and 401k withdrawals to pay for tuition can be withdrawn without penalty- just with taxes on the recognized income (again, offset by your business expense deduction). So in other words, if your program runs for one year and does not qualify for you for a new industry, you get to pay for your graduate degree pretax and at your highest marginal rate.

It's a very complicated game, but in general, it's smart to try and make as much pre-tax 401k contributions as you can if there's at least a 50% chance you're going back to school. It's also smart to plan on a mix of pre and post-tax savings for retirement at least during your 20s. But sometimes, us mortals just get greedy and like to see those cash dividends are coming in, even if we have to pay a 15% tax on them if it means we get to see them before we hit 59.5. We work so hard to save, and it's nice to see the fruits of our labors NOW. (My future self will rue this post if it's still around in 40 years)

Mar 30, 2018

You are never to young, but dont forget to live your life. I made the mistake of spending every scrap of revenue i generated in college on investments. Not that I regret this, I just wish I would have traveled and lived a bit more in college. Now I have a debt load that dwarfs anything any of you have, but its good debt earns me major bank. I could retire toady and be set for life as far as an income streamg goes. You just cant ever get the time back so don't forget to live your life.

As far as what to invest in. I invest in land of all kinds. Farm, gas exploration, mining, timber, developments ect ect. I prefer to have an asset that I know is truely finite.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Mar 30, 2018

Regarding 401k match, make sure to figure out what your firm's vesting policy is for the match. I know one BB for instance where you don't vest in the match at all until you've been there for 3 years, so that advantage of the 401k doesn't play into your decision anymore if you're planning a typical 2-year stint.

Mar 30, 2018

True. But most banks have tiered vesting and you get a free 28%+6.85% match from Uncle Sam and the State of New York if you can find a one year MBA or start part time and finish full time in a year. In general, 401k contributions are a good deal if you plan on staying with that firm for more than two years or going back to school.

Mar 30, 2018

Gas 40? are you driving 3 miles every day?
Auto insurance 125? are you fucking kidding?
Food is way to low
bars is prob too low
Who the fuck gives 10% of their earnings to charity at this age?

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Mar 30, 2018

I expect to drive ~8 miles on average a day (I live 3 miles away from work and my life is mostly me going to and from work since the bars are all within walking distance of home).

For auto insurance, that was the quote Esurance, GEICO, and State Farm gave me

I was thinking food might be a little low (don't really need to pay for dinner or food on the weekends, but lunches add up).

For charity, that is more of a personal choice.

Mar 30, 2018

Unless you plan on eating 5 dollar footlongs for lunch every day your food budget is way to low. There is much better use of that money you plan on donating to charity at this point in your life. If you feel so guilty not doing it donate some time on the weekend.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Mar 30, 2018

Yeah, you're pretty low on a lot of those. Good luck sticking to that...

Mar 30, 2018

Definitely interpreted food and bars to mean food and energy bars/cliff bars haha, totally misread that but yeah, I would say gas is too low, I'm not sure if if heister meant auto insurance was too low or too high though

Mar 30, 2018

I like how you spend more on alcohol than your student loans haha. Also, I agree that 10% for charity is pretty steep for a 22 yro.

Mar 30, 2018

What about cable/internet?

Mar 30, 2018

your rent+utilities+parking, gas, food, and bars + miscellanous numbers would all be way closer to weekly budgets as opposed to monthly in NYC....either Cali is a whole different world, or you should reconsider those

GBS

Mar 30, 2018

Rent is $800/month (signed), parking is $50/month (signed), and I was told to expect utilities to be about $50/month (which includes cable). I added an extra $25 to be conservative.

I will be living in a college area with supposedly cheap alcohol, so hopefully $50 a week is more than enough to get me and a lady friend smashed. However, I should probably increase this amount to play it safe.

I will make sure to add another $100/month to the food account.

At 8 miles a day, and with gas being $4.40/gallon in my area I think $40 - $45 month in gas is reasonable considering gas prices are highest during the summer.

For charity, I am trying to be on the BoD of two charities in my area and there are "suggested" donation amounts for board members.

Thanks for all the input guys, I appreciate it!

Mar 30, 2018

Food is definitely too low.

I'd set apart 10$ per day even if you expense dinner on weekdays, which implies a 300$ monthly budget. It usually ends up a lot more when you buy that pack of gum, and buy a few iced coffees when it gets tough. When I was doing SA, I put aside $500 on food. I think I went over..

Banking.

Mar 30, 2018

Suits and shirts. Might as well try setting some aside for new cars, vacation, new toys (TV, laptop etc.). Might look silly at first sight, but I've come to appreciate setting certain amounts for expenses like that off to separate accounts monthly. This way I feel absolutely no guilt about spending some money in these cases. If, after all these payments and transfers have been made, there's still more than $X in my account at the end of the month, this excess goes to a separate fund.

At least that was my approach when I had a regular income exceeding my expenses - not so much for the recent time surviving on a TA salary in grad school.

Mar 30, 2018

You need to adopt the keynesian approach and stimulate your way to prosperity with borrowing more money and blow it on a new swimming pool.

Food is too low.
Cut the $200 for bars.
Cut the $583 donations.
Also, If you can move using public transportation, drop the car.

Mar 30, 2018

You want to be on the BoD of charities. Wont work as an analyst.

  1. you dont have the time
    2 someone can easily donate more and take your spot
    3 who wants to waste free time on other peoples problems.

Follow the shit your fellow monkeys say @shitWSOsays

Life is hard, it's even harder when you're stupid - John Wayne

Mar 30, 2018

Are the charities called Tiffany and Candy?

Mar 30, 2018
  1. Being on a BoD of a charity is a monthly two hour meeting and maybe 1.5 hours of work a week from home so I think I can manage. They really don't care if you miss that monthly meeting every once in a while either.
  2. They can't kick you off a board once you get on without good reason; it would be much easier to just vote to add a seat to the board if some new big donor wanted a seat.
  3. I am a lame sack of shit who likes helping people. Don't really have a comeback for this.
Mar 30, 2018

how about tittie bars and hand job parlors? those take up 30% of my monthly gross.

Mar 30, 2018

As a lot of people pointed out, food is way too low even if you're expensing most dinners. Essentially you're saying you're going to pack lunch everyday and eat rolled oats for breakfast without ever going out. Car insurance is too low. If you're getting quoted for the minimum coverage, that's never what you want. Think 15/30/5 is going to cover even close to enough if you ever get into a serious accident where you're at fault?

In terms of planning, I would pay off the debt asap. First year build up 6+ mo living expenses immediately liquid and then 401k / brokerage account the rest if you know what youre doing and you dont have compliance issues with that.

Mar 30, 2018
-.-:

In terms of planning, I would pay off the debt asap. First year build up 6+ mo living expenses immediately liquid and then 401k / brokerage account the rest if you know what youre doing and you dont have compliance issues with that.

This. Also, don't worry about people chastising you about the charity thing. Views like that are why the general public hates wall street (i'm not saying i'm any different though). But charity can be a great thing and you seem committed to it. And as others have said, up your food budget.

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

Mar 30, 2018

-

Mar 30, 2018

10% charitable donation? At first glance I thought it was what I do with the Christianity tithing

Mar 30, 2018
WhyldeBoiye:

Income: $5,833
Taxes: 1,820
Company Benefits (Taken out of Salary): 292
Rent + Utilities + Parking: 925
Personal Phone: 40
Gas: 60
Auto + Renters Insurance: 175
Food: 300
Dry Cleaning + Laundry: 81
Miscellaneous + Bars: 300
College Loans: 151
Car Loans: 139
Charitable Contributions: 583

Monthly Savings: 968

Hopefully this will just be for my first year and then I can use my bonus to pay off my college and car debt. Plans are to put my savings into a mix of IRA, 401(k), and a rainy day fund.

i have the same base in CA and save $2k/month w/ 10% 401k and go out every weekend. wont your company pay for food?
get brooks brothers non-iron shirts. dry cleaning is just another headache (and cost) when working a lot of hours
also, your car insurance seems high compared to your payment
and that charity thing will hurt you.. $7k a year out of your pocket. ouch

Mar 30, 2018

people are just plain stupid and are afraid to think with their brains - they love to be sheep

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018
animalz:

people are just plain stupid and are afraid to think with their brains - they love to be sheep

And this MUST be an entirely original thought from you. Kudos on your ground-breaking ruminations. You should write a book.

    • 1
    • 2
Mar 30, 2018

ppl b cray

Mar 30, 2018

What sites do you use for deals?

Mar 30, 2018
jmdude:

What sites do you use for deals?

SlickDeals and FatWallet.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

You're right, the majority of people don't need to be paying full price, but for a few it does make sense to go to an on-site store. You can try on clothes, get opinions from sales staff, be able to look at things live, etc.

And to those who don't mind paying the premium, it's worth it for them to be able to buy the clothes when they want and wear it immediately rather than wait a few days or a week for shipping.

If you're making mid six figures, it's not worth spending all your free time bargaining for discounts that probably save you 50 bucks total over a span of an hour when you can use your free time in much better ways. I'd rather go in, get pampered by staff and get opinions, try clothes on immediately and wear it that night. To me that's worth paying an extra 20 bucks.

Mar 30, 2018

I find myself knowingly being that kind of person you're talking about, and wondering how to justify my actions to myself. Here's my take: the decisions we make with these kinds of purchases pit the marginal value of spending the extra time up front (signing up for the subscription, perusing deal sites, etc.) against our perceived WACC for our time. Time, like money, has a time value itself. When you make a choice of what to do with your time, you are forgoing the benefits that using that time for something else would provide. So, even as a student I didn't clip coupons - I saw my education as being worth far more than the couple hundred I could have saved each month, since I was betting that giving 100% to my education would pay far bigger dividends (even adjusted for PV) in the future.

Having said that, there is a human tendency to incorrectly overweigh the value of doing what we want to do now, now, rather than later, and I think this accounts for a large portion of the phenomena you are describing.

Mar 30, 2018
808:

I find myself knowingly being that kind of person you're talking about, and wondering how to justify my actions to myself. Here's my take: the decisions we make with these kinds of purchases pit the marginal value of spending the extra time up front (signing up for the subscription, perusing deal sites, etc.) against our perceived WACC for our time. Time, like money, has a time value itself. When you make a choice of what to do with your time, you are forgoing the benefits that using that time for something else would provide. So, even as a student I didn't clip coupons - I saw my education as being worth far more than the couple hundred I could have saved each month, since I was betting that giving 100% to my education would pay far bigger dividends (even adjusted for PV) in the future.

Having said that, there is a human tendency to incorrectly overweigh the value of doing what we want to do now, now, rather than later, and I think this accounts for a large portion of the phenomena you are describing.

I mean sure, I suppose this is true, but what I should have included in my original post is the fact that perusing deal sites is something that is not time-consuming at all...

For example, if I want a base 13'' MacBook Pro, I can go to the Apple store (or site) and see plain as day that it's $1199. Now I can go to FatWallet or SlickDeals, create an alert that send me an e-mail every time a deal for a 13'' MBP is shared, and unless I must absolutely have the item today, within the next 2-4 weeks, Amazon will have a sale on MacBook Pros and I'll get one for $1059. Not incredible savings (still $140 bucks...), but considering in this example I don't have an immediate need for the item and am willing to wait for a good price, the time/effort I spend in finding a desirable price is really quite small given the reward.

Sure if you're looking at deal sites 3-4 hours a day just because you want to buy "something" but don't know what that something is and are ready to jump on anything that looks good, that's both a waste of time and money.

Mar 30, 2018

IlliniProgrammer will make landing in 3......2.......1.....

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Mar 30, 2018
In The Flesh:

IlliniProgrammer will make landing in 3......2.......1.....

lol he'll be here soon

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Mar 30, 2018

Please don't share the secrets to saving money. If everyone was as frugal as IP, there would be no economy. Our target companies would have smaller revenues, thus making our deals smaller, thus making our fees smaller, thus making our bonuses smaller. Just. Say. No.

Mar 30, 2018
BTbanker:

Please don't share the secrets to saving money. If everyone was as frugal as IP, there would be no economy. Our target companies would have smaller revenues, thus making our deals smaller, thus making our fees smaller, thus making our bonuses smaller. Just. Say. No.

Not necessarily. Hang gliding and The Pony Bar would be booming!

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Mar 30, 2018

I just wish that people would actually use your and you're correctly. Aren't you guys paid to catch simple mistakes like that?

Mar 30, 2018

convenience and time are currency to me so i'm big on spending a little extra for these, but there are definitely some ways I could be smarter about cash flow. BIG one down here in Argentina is finding out about xoom.com - a service which allows me to transfer $ dollars from my US bank account and get 6.1:1 arg pesos to dollars vs the actual rate (4.78:1) out of the atm. Fees are similar to withdrawing from ATm so is about a ~21% instant increase in purchase power

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Mar 30, 2018
AndyLouis:

convenience and time are currency to me so i'm big on spending a little extra for these, but there are definitely some ways I could be smarter about cash flow. BIG one down here in Argentina is finding out about xoom.com - a service which allows me to transfer $ dollars from my US bank account and get 6.1:1 arg pesos to dollars vs the actual rate (4.78:1) out of the atm. Fees are similar to withdrawing from ATm so is about a ~21% instant increase in purchase power

I haven't looked into this, but how is this possible? Where are they making up the difference?

Mar 30, 2018

The rich stay rich because they spend like they're poor and the poor stay poor because they spend like they're rich.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit."

Mar 30, 2018

After a rough experience in one of my posts, I foresee shit coming my way once again but I don't care.

I fully and wholeheartedly endorse the idea that achieving colossal wealth is ONLY a matter of making more, not of spending less. The "save every penny" mentality is useless, if not detrimental. If you succeed after a long career in finance, whatever you save in an Economist subscription or a MacBook is financially irrelevant to your final net worth, especially considering how back-loaded your cash flow profile looks like in this business.

Living up to this pinchfist philosophy and taking it too seriously has the power to lower the probability of bumping across your MD while he's wearing your team's jersey in that upscale mall (and as a consequence, of starting a great promotion-accelerating chat) or having $20 craft limited-edition beers with that distant friend-of-friend that may put a word for you for some big name PE interview. If you want to be one of them, live and spend like one of them as far as possible, and don't charge it as COGS, book it as social capex. If you're out of luck, you may need to write that ingangible off one day, but fuck it, life's a bitch sometimes.

Well, and the fun part is that if you save and fail, in 30 years those $40 will have accrued to $91 at the 30y T-Bond rate (more likely $50ish once you remove inflation - thank Uncle Bernanke). That will buy you maybe a week longer before you hit the shelter at 30th and 1st Ave. Don't get me wrong, as a rational utility maximizer, I will always evaluate owning $X+e as better than $X, no matter how small "e" is. It is just that, from experience, such savings are seldom worth the time you need to invest to get them, and even when they prove to be, it's always ex-post, you really never know beforehand.

    • 4
Mar 30, 2018
SenhorFinance:

After a rough experience in one of my posts, I foresee shit coming my way once again but I don't care.

I respect that, but here's what I'd say:

  1. Owning $X+e versus $X doesn't imply "e" is put into a 30-year T-bill. Obviously you just used that as an example, and the "e" can be used for anything -- and therein lies the true power of "e". Maybe that cheaper Economist subscription makes absolutely no difference on a 30-year time frame with respect to my NW, but it does mean that today, assuming that I was in fact in the market for the subscription and would have bought it anyway at full price, I have $40 more to spend on other activities/goods/services/drinks/etc. than I would have had otherwise.

Even realizing a savings through deals of something like $500 a year is non-trivial...that means I have $42 extra per month to use to my liking. That's the price of my cell phone plan (be jealous at my grandfathered iPhone status) -- would I like to drop my cell phone plan and NOT pay $42 a month for it? Absolutely, it'd be awesome to not pay it. So why wouldn't I want to have an additional $42 per month through finding good prices for things I'd be buying anyway?

  1. The "on a long enough time scale, X/Y/Z won't matter" is a trump card against essentially any argument. Why do people want to earn $120K at 22 as an Investment Banking Analyst? On a long enough time scale, the $120K doesn't matter at all, assuming one stays in finance...but in the short-term, you get to enjoy a pretty stress-free (with respect to your financial conditions) lifestyle and live reasonably lavishly. And on a long enough time scale, we're all six feet under, so why do anything ever, amirite?
Mar 30, 2018

I am all for saving, within reason. It is one thing to throw money away, but another if it improves your quality of life. Don't live 45 minutes from work because you save $300 per month on rent.

I buy a chicken salad for lunch most days. It costs $6, including tax. I could make the same salad and bring it with me for $3.50. But having to think ahead, carry a container of food to work, worry about grocery shopping, etc. is worth more than $3.00 to me. I can afford $3.00 per day.

I do hear Suze Orman's shrill voice inside my head saying, "If you saved $2.50 per day, you would save $1000 over a year and with compound interest..." but I figure that the ~$3000 I spend per year on "quality of life" purchases will not determine my eventual net worth. Especially in finance. Odds are good that anyone in the front office will be making over 250k within 5 years, if not sooner. As long as you don't go crazy once you hit that income level, you will be saving 50%+ of your compensation. Obsessing about small expenses might mean you can retire 6 months earlier. I would prefer not to micromanage my budget and just put in those extra few months.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

I know exactly what you mean. I rarely buy clothes for myself (unless holes start to appear), but I rather focus on the best ROI for both my time and money. I just don't see a bunch of value in overspending for something that immediately goes down in value. That includes clothes, cars, etc.

Mar 30, 2018

I make money to spend money. I don't make money to save money.

Yes, I will probably look back at those reasonings in 30 years and think I was an idiot.

Mar 30, 2018
PetEng:

I make money to spend money. I don't make money to save money.

Yes, I will probably look back at those reasonings in 30 years and think I was an idiot.

No you won't. People who are 40-50 and realize they are now loaded yet pretty much out of the market for stories and experiences that they could have bought at a deep discount 20 years ago are likelier to face this hardship. Pecunia est papyrus, man, no drawers in the caskets I've seen.

    • 2
Mar 30, 2018
SenhorFinance:

Pecunia est papyrus, man, no drawers in the caskets I've seen.

The drawers cost extra.

Mar 30, 2018
SenhorFinance:
PetEng:

I make money to spend money. I don't make money to save money.

Yes, I will probably look back at those reasonings in 30 years and think I was an idiot.

No you won't. People who are 40-50 and realize they are now loaded yet pretty much out of the market for stories and experiences that they could have bought at a deep discount 20 years ago are likelier to face this hardship. Pecunia est papyrus, man, no drawers in the caskets I've seen.

speaking of future blog topics, how about this?

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My Linkedin

Mar 30, 2018

I'm a sucker for a good deal.. all those two sites do is make me want to buy stuff that I don't need because "it's a good sale".. that being said, I definitely agree with the thesis of this post. Even going to an outlet mall is 100x better than getting it in a normal retail store.

Mar 30, 2018

I agree with DonVon. Those sites help save some money, why not use them? For example, I wanted some rechargeable batteries. I went to SlickDeals and searched for deals, and found an amazing deal. Got 12AAA and 2AA rechargeables with a charger for only $20 bucks. They came right to my door, no hassle.

I also agree with SenhorFinance in that you should not be a penny pincher. I have my savings done automatically, 401(k), etc. And whatever is left is used for expenses. But as DonVon said, when I need something, I most of the time get from online sites. I don't like to go to Malls, so I guess it fits me well.

Mar 30, 2018

How were you able to renew your Economist subscription for $40?? They're trying to get me for $80..

Mar 30, 2018
peterg:

How were you able to renew your Economist subscription for $40?? They're trying to get me for $80..

I think they had a Groupon or Living Social or something.

Mar 30, 2018

When in college I used to use slickdeals.net for buying all of my electronics and various goods that popped up as deals. I was very frugal, used cashback credit cards for all my purchases, which only amounted to about a whopping $100 a year. To top it off, I used to transfer all my money to a high yield savings account only to make transfers every week to my regular bank checking account, resulted in about $100 in interest for a year. Mind you, I was in college and living off a budget of $25,000 per year minus tuition($10,000) so essentially, I only had $15,000 for rent, utilities, food, clothing, and entertainment.

Things have changed now that I have in excess of $10mm. Now, I receive a monthly allowance from my financial advisor. My homes and cars are paid off. And the rest is for entertainment. I've never forgotten where I came from, a poor working class family. I don't mind going to neighborhood where I grew up in and eating at the local restaurants. But now, I am able to afford a good lifestyle in Las Vegas. I live on the strip. I dine at the 4-5 star restaurants daily and order bottles of champagne when I go out to the club.

I guess what i'm saying, is that eventually, you get to a point where you're comfortable with paying much more than what a regular person pays for certain items. And it starts at any age and any income bracket. It all boils down to utility. Some people just get more out of the latest fashion than others. I drive a 2012 bentley gt and 2010 ferrari f430 but I still shop at GAP for jeans because they usually carry a lot of boot cut jeans. Albeit all my dress shirts are custom tailored now but guess what, the original design is from a shirt I bought in college from Armani Exchange for $50. I just had a tailor copy it and slightly alter it to fit better.

You don't know what you'll like until you've tried it. Eventually you'll get tired of all the places you dine, shop, and hang out at. The fun gets sucked out after repetitive visits. I'm not saying you have to spend tons of money to get what you like. What I'm saying is that you don't know if you'll like an expensive item until you've tried or bought it.

It is not about the title that you have, it is about how much money that you have.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

If you fall in love with spending money, you can spend virtually any paycheck no matter how much you make. Ask Joe Gregory, the former President of Lehman Bros who is now bankrupt from reckless spending (and Lehman's stock price collapse). Trying to be balanced in how you approach spending/saving money makes sense to me.

Mar 30, 2018

I don't buy all that much stuff, but when I do--a new laptop, a new suit, whatever--I generally expect to use it for years. So I don't get too worked up over saving $100 here and there on these things.

The more important things for me seem to be:

1.) Minimizing your big, fixed monthly expenses. Rent is the obvious one. $100/month in additional rent doesn't seem like a lot, but that adds up to $1,200 a year. That's a nice vacation right there. I've always tried to pay as little on rent as possible. I think that this is the biggest waste that I see people in their 20's spending money on. Then there are things like student loans, gym memberships, etc. which are important to keep down.

2.) Day to day weekly expenses. Mostly coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and groceries. Recently I've started taking out cash at the start of the week and just using that until the next week. I never went crazy with my credit cards but when you withdraw, let's say, $200 a week in cash and you can actually see how much you have left for the rest of the week, you start to get much more thoughtful in terms of how you're spending you're money. I don't think it's difficult for most young professionals to save $20 a week on food and going out, for example. Over the course of a year, that's another $1,000. Those small purchases add up.

Mar 30, 2018

Nothing saves money like pregaming with a butt chug.

Mar 30, 2018

The first rule I learned when getting my Master's was to never pay full price for anything. Which is why I only shop when I have some sort of discount that I can apply to my purchase.

Mar 30, 2018

Buy a house?

Mar 30, 2018

Nothing to add except that I hate you.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

Hi, congratulations on your impressive savings. I was just wondering how you accumulated so much at such a young age? Also, how do you guys make $465K in your mid 20s?

Mar 30, 2018

How did you attain a net worth of nearly $2M in your mid-20s with an annual combined income just now hitting $465k? Also impressed.

Mar 30, 2018

I think your situation is largely a function of the current environment. Everything is overvalued and there really is nowhere to hide. I've been in PE for 7+ Years and have also had a difficult time allocating my large capital base. Below is my current asset allocation:
40% cash
20% private investments (VC, small business ownership, and senior secured debt)
10% RE (primary residence and rental unit)
10% equities (low cost index funds)
20% equities (value oriented and concentrated across 15 names)

This is definitely not my optimal asset allocation and cash will decline opportunistically. I have zero debt largely because I could not find more attractive alternatives.
Ask @brofessor

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

Can you invest in your firm's fund?

Mar 30, 2018

It's not too late to take all of your net worth and buy a small 300 sq. ft. NYC studio if that's where you live/work. Buy before it's too late and you get priced out by some dude from tech or from China.

Mar 30, 2018

Thanks everyone for the input. Appreciate the sounding board.

General comment: I don't really want to get into details about my savings. The fact is it exists. I live as though the $1.5M doesn't though and my only goal is to grow that between now and when I'll bite into it (5+ years from now for a home, kids, etc.). On the salary front all I'll say is finance and tech firms pay well in major cities.

@junkbondswap -- Thanks a lot. Really appreciate that you can relate. It's definitely tough and I'm fighting hard not to just move a bunch to cash. How have you originated most of your personal investments? It looks like 40% are in investments you made personal decisions on (private and public). Were some of these fund co-invest? I like the 15 concentrated stocks. I'm currently building a portfolio with 2-4 year horizons but am only at 2 stocks so far. The hard part is finding the personal time to build one.

@ArcherVice -- Unfortunately no. I wish I could because it has an amazing track record. My last firm did though.

@IlliniProgrammer -- I'd consider buying an apartment however my issue is 1) I don't know if I'll be in the same city longer than another 3 years and 2) the housing market is purely insane...

Again. really appreciate the responses. If there are any resources or ideas people have, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Mar 30, 2018

That's rough.

Mar 30, 2018

I'm going to make a few assumptions, but here's how I see it:

You are mentally picturing two piles of money, one for the 'long-term' and one 'intermediate-term' for your future home purchase. The only potential issue is that the timing, amount, and probability of the timing of your home is uncertain. In my mind, that makes it somewhat difficult to think of them separately, especially since you are also saving additional money between now and then.

When I think of a portfolio that hits somewhere in the 3-7% return range most years, I think of a portfolio that probably has too much fixed income for someone your age. Of course, you haven't revealed anything about the underlying strategies, so that's just a guess.

My suggestion would be to take an institutional approach to managing your money. By that, I mean that you should have an investment policy statement that lays out what your allocation should be and only deviate from those target weights by a relatively small amount. You can see what most major university endowment allocations are online. Keep in mind that you will have to pay taxes and they don't, which will significantly change how you invest your assets. Also, they will have access to a ton of hedge fund and private equity strategies that you won't as well.

With that in mind, I would create a portfolio that was heavily equity oriented and highly tax efficient. Make sure you realize that this portfolio is going to be relatively volatile, but you are young enough that you will be investing for decades and short-term swings should not really matter to you.

I would make the portfolio look something like this:

30% SPY
10% MDY
5% IWM
35% EFA
10% EEM or some other emerging market equity fund
5% MLPI (or a basket of 10 - 15 midstream MLPs)
5% REITs

Whatever you do, just stick to a plan for the long-term and keep investing. You will make a lot more money than people who are moving in and out of the market all the time.

    • 2
Mar 30, 2018

If you continue to listen to Paul Finebaum, you should realize that your net worth will have a negative correlation with any increase in your future pay due to the development of the propensity to spend like white trash trailer park residents.

But in all seriousness, just start playing around. My net worth spreadsheet is specific to me due to various inputs that some people may or may not have and two incomes/expenses related to my kids.

Mar 30, 2018

Personally, I'd use Mint rather than an excel based tracker. Mint gives you push notifications to your phone, automatic charts and categories, tracking of all your different cards/checking/investments/assets in one place. You can also view aggregate data, etc. Best part is, it is free. Not to discourage you, but I know full well that it is tedious and time consuming to keep updating it whereas Mint automatically pulls it all in.

I know that's not what you were looking for but just a thought for you before you start driving yourself crazy in Excel.

    • 1
Mar 30, 2018

This is my favorite one:
http://www.free-power-point-templates.com/articles...

I use it as a base, but have several custom sheets, including one with investments that update from the msn money tracker addin feature. I also include my home with a debt schedule and increases in equity over time. I was really bored one weekend and decided to do all this. I still occasionally make edits.

As mentioned above, Mint may be the better option for live budget updates, but if you are bored or don't trust mint, then it can be a fun project. I have a budget tab as well, and most of the time, I am pretty close to it. At the end of each month, I enter the actual total $ spent on my variable expenses, and it adjust my cash position. It can be tedious, but, that's just what I prefer to do because it keeps me engaged and is a way for me to ensure I actually look at these things every once in a while.

This project also helped/forced me to learn other excel functions I didn't previously use.

Mar 30, 2018

13-1500 should get you something decent if you non-NYC depending on the market. That also affords to room to for an increase. Another variable is if you want to save money your first year or just save most of your bonus. Depending on you bank and how your markets do I would say your budget can get as high as 2k if you dont wanna save too much

I Got a dollar and a dream...

Mar 30, 2018

I would not suggest running cash flow negative (or even) and waiting on the bonus. Try to save a couple hundred bucks a month. Never know when you will need a little money here or there. Some random thing always seems to come up.

Mar 30, 2018

+1 for not running cash flow negative or even. Its never a good idea to have your ass in the wind like that. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best young Jedi

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Mar 30, 2018

You're not in NYC dude, you can live pretty well and still save a ton. I would definitely at least try to run cash flow positive until you start building up some savings.... you never know when you might lose your job (it could certainly happen before your first bonus), and of course shit always happens that no one plans for (accidents, car repairs, etc...)

Mar 30, 2018

Dude, there is absolutely no way you can't live on $70K pre-bonus and save a bunch in the process. Get a separate savings account and have it automatically deduct a certain amount of your paycheck each month and have it deposited into your separate "savings" account. You won't even know it's gone.

What if something comes up and you need cash to pay for it? Better to have something set aside.

Mar 30, 2018

My personal finances are pretty conservative (though I'm pretty heavily invested in the market at all times, maybe 50-80% depending, with the remainder sitting in hard cash). Personally I am deathly afraid of mortgages -- I have seen a lot of examples of people who were doing great and then lost their job and then had to liquidate real estate and it scares the shit out of me because my career is too insecure. I've been renting for a while (continually taking my rent up, the rental market in NYC actually can get pretty nice if you want it to...200k salary per year is like 10k per month a/t once you're done with fica which usually happens with your bonus...rent for a nice 2/3bd is like between 5-10k, so it's not crazy to still mostly live on just that salary) and plan to continue to do so and I just invest the excess capital in the market. I'm not married so I imagine that makes it easier to live this kind of a lifestyle, but I think that given the rents I'm quoting above it's actually not so different even if you are.

I do plan to buy eventually, but my basic thought there is in a couple years I should have enough liquid savings to fund a place that's worth buying and either 1) buy substantially in cash, or 2) have enough cash / liquidity that even if I take on a big mortgage and then I lose my job I can keep paying the mortgage for at least 1-2 years without any problems.

I'm not saying this is the right way for everybody, or that it's even an economically optimal solution (real estate in NYC does tend to only go in one direction and leveraging on that is a pretty good bet typically), but I'm super huge on peace of mind and knowing that if I was fired it would not disrupt my life too majorly is really big for me, especially because in the HF world life is so uncertain all the time.

Mar 30, 2018

Thanks for the reply. I guess it makes sense to rent longer and build up more cash. I'm still trying to wrap my head around spending over $5k a month on rent but I guess it makes sense given the flexibility renting offers. Being married certainly changes the calculus a little bit but we don't have kids yet. So renting a 2 or 3 bedroom place for a little while shouldn't be too bad. It also looks like renting a place up in Westchester/New Rochelle area you can get a good place for around $4,500 and still be fairly quick to Grand Central.

In general I've always invested virtually all of my excess cash into the market but that was when I had a steady, virtually guaranteed, job security. With my paycheck being tied to the market it seems to make sense to have a little more money in cash at any given time. I suppose I could always just stash a chunk of the bonus in a savings account and draw on it monthly to manually spread that income out over time. Just have to convince the wife to not spend it all...

Mar 30, 2018

Put most everything in the market, barring a small emergency fund. You should be able to fund little wants/necessities with either your base pay or either lines of credit or margin loans against your portfolio. Or, find something you can take a tax loss on to fund what you need.

Also, I agree with the above about not buying a home relatively early in your career unless you are 100% certain you will want to be in that area for the long haul.

Mar 30, 2018

Good comments thus far. Every situation is obviously unique, but I would say these are probably the four main variables

-Marriage/kids
-The composition of the total comp number (base vs. bonus, cash vs. equity, current vs. deferred)
-Owning vs. renting real estate
-Firm investment policy (a lot of funds ban single stock trading and there is an expectation to pile into the fund)

I tried to live on just my base salary for a few years but between undergrad loans, traveling, dating, etc I dipped a bit into my bonus. Once the bonus becomes multiples of the base, I think it makes sense to spend a year or two building a liquidity cushion completely aside from personal investments (cash/money market). I'm not married and rent so I don't really make a budget per se, but I like to think of a realistic all in compensation number at the start of each year, plan on spending one third to one half of that (including vacations and other things deemed luxuries), and bank the rest. If there is another 2008, there is a liquidity cushion and a chance to deploy personal capital.

Another big caveat here is that I'm allowed to invest my own money. If somebody had to tie up all their wealth in cash or an employee fund I would be significantly more conservative due to the obvious correlation between future earnings and return on personal assets.

Mar 30, 2018

If you're a beginner you can do a lot with a Vanguard account and 3-10k.

Mar 30, 2018

Well Said.

Mar 30, 2018

i'm sure that's easy to say after scraping together a few billion.

Mar 30, 2018

if that was the case then... no body should become bankers, it is given that when you become a banker a lot of your personal life would diminish.

Mar 30, 2018

Re. the comment about billions, true. That said, a lot of people realise these things quite soon after starting in IB.

Mar 30, 2018

i agree wit 3bg, only after you make it to the millionaire list do you start preaching and thinking about life.

Mar 30, 2018

It's pretty easy to save money, assuming you don't live somewhere beyond your means and budget accordingly. Also, almost always staying past xx time to get free dinner and a car home helps big time. My only real expenses are rent (utilities included), gym membership, subway rides, food I buy to keep at home, lunch on days when I don't bring something/have leftovers, going out for drinks/to eat a couple times a month and little things here and there. I'm pretty conservative with my spending and am living comfortably during my first year, plus once the bonus hits you will have more options in terms of savings. Pretty sure I've been saving about 1k a month right now but I haven't made any 401k contributions and student loans are about to hit so that may skew things.

Mar 30, 2018

Open a Roth IRA and max out the contributions. Then contribute to your 401k and make sure to at least put in what your employer will match. Other than that, watch your spending.

Mar 30, 2018

I try to contribute 20% to my 401k, then between $100-$350 to my savings account per paycheck. If I know I'm going to have an expensive month (i.e. Christmas, vacation planned), I'll dial down or turn off my contributions temporarily.

Mar 30, 2018

Agree with Bernanke, put in your 401k whatever amount of your income will be matched. Unless you're doin models and bottles at 3AM every night (which you'll be too tired to do), you won't have to time to spend much as an i-banker so you should be saving.

Do not get a financial professional to manage your money at your age, it is pointless since you will not be give him/her very much to manage. In fact, you might have a hard time even finding a decent one who would take you on as a client.

Mar 30, 2018

What are the differences between a roth and 401k?

Mar 30, 2018

ijoifjoijweif

Mar 30, 2018
-_-:

What are the differences between a roth and 401k?

A Roth is an IRA where you pay taxes up front instead of when you take it out. It's a good choice if you think that your marginal tax rate will be higher when you retire than when you're putting money in now.

A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored account where your employer will typically match your contribution up to a certain percentage of your base salary. Generally, however, the investments are determined by your employer, as opposed to an IRA where you determine the allocation.

Mar 30, 2018

good question

Mar 30, 2018

id like to hear that flushed out as well.

Mar 30, 2018

Well it seems that I should contribute to the 401k so that I get the full match.

How much do employers/bank usually match? Or what is the standard length of time / amount they are willing to?

Mar 30, 2018

Definitely agree to put as much money as you can in a company-sponsored 401(k) and your own Roth IRA. On top of that, I'd recommend living within your means, and not getting caught up in what other analysts are doing/spending their money on. Especially in cities like New York and London, it's easy to blow a couple hundred bucks in one night when everyone else is doing it. When this becomes a regular thing, you are living beyond your means as a 70K/year analyst.

Mar 30, 2018

or you could adapt the attitude that you only live once and break-even

Mar 30, 2018

bump...

Mar 30, 2018

what about if I'm working on a H1 visa, i.e. international students? Do roth IRAs, 401ks still make sense? Can we even qualify for those?

sorry, I'm new to all these US retirement/savings plan...

Mar 30, 2018

^ bump

Mar 30, 2018

Also interested in this. I'm getting .0000000001% interest in my savings acct right now. I'm ultra conservative so I don't know what to do besides move it into some CD paying 1%...

Mar 30, 2018

buy energy companies

Mar 30, 2018

Some people here would tell you to hold silver or other commodities.

Mar 30, 2018

soooo.. 25k + 25k = 40k ??? lol

Mar 30, 2018

Or the other $10k could be be in a bond that's under the don't touch category for the OP. I just don't want to say someone is bad at math...that's all.

Mar 30, 2018

Coal and mining companies. Foreign dollar denominated bonds. Thats what I would do.

Valor is of no service, chance rules all, and the bravest often fall by the hands of cowards. - Tacitus

Dr. Nick Riviera: Hey, don't worry. You don't have to make up stories here. Save that for court!

Mar 30, 2018

He said "at least" $25k he doesn't want to touch, so there's flexibility.

Mar 30, 2018

Long positions
AT&T,
Energy... I still like chesapeake. Not really much of an energy guy and dont follow it when DXO exploded
Long dollar index....Let's hope you wont hit the roof in short term play here though.

For other 25,,,dabble in upcoming ipo if you can get hold of them. Follow IPO listing on Renaissance Capital website. Good luck.

Mar 30, 2018

Why so conservative? What are you, 55? Live a little...

Anyway, if you only want fixed income then at least do those "unconstrained" bond funds that can actually give you negative duration...PIMCO launched one in 2008, PUBAX is the ticker for the non-institutional share class

Mar 30, 2018

Put all of it into Scrier Funds

Mar 30, 2018

thanks for feedback guys..

alex- thanks for pubax idea... long story why so conservative. But in short.. I have different goals/life priorities than most folks here.
inept- why would i go long dollar index?
el_mono - can you provide an example of a foreign usd denominated bonds... why? I am having trouble thinking through how these should behave with weakening dollar, and higher interest rates.. are you thinking capital appreciation of the bond?

Mar 30, 2018

Linkers, paper, and neg duration MPT's. At least until we find out whether or not Ben keeps printing away via a QE3.

Mar 30, 2018
Something Creative:

Linkers, paper, and neg duration MPT's. At least until we find out whether or not Ben keeps printing away via a QE3.

idk what you are referring to with "linkers", "paper" and "mpt" modern portfolio theory?

Mar 30, 2018

No. LIBOR linked floaters, commercial paper, and mortgage pass through securities with a negative duration.

Mar 30, 2018

i don't understand why commodities would be an appropriate investment vehicle in this case because the user specifically said that they don't like equity investing, probably due to the volatility, and commodities are one of the most volatile asset classes in existence, totally inappropriate i think for someone with a low risk tolerance,

if you really want to protect your money from inflation and minimize risk, stay short on bonds and invest in a fund that only invests in coupons with high investment grades, i think government bonds only despite what s and p says,

i would go 50/50 in vanguard's short term govt treasury bond fund and intermediate term govt treasury bond fund, with tickers VFISX and VFITX respectively, each has a minimum of 3000 initially, if you're an etf person they have a short term govt bond etf as well, expenses are low, around 0.25 unless you have a lot invested (>50,000 i think)

investors have been worried about the dollar and inflation for a long time, but commodities long term essentially return inflation with astounding amounts of volatility, a combo of govt short and intermed term bonds minimizes volatility and still produced a far better return than any cd or savings acct

hope that helps

Mar 30, 2018

ZINC

Mar 30, 2018

Why are you so lazy? Read a book and learn how to manage your own money.

"A Random Walk Down Wall Street" is a good place to start and will basically tell you to index your monies.

Mar 30, 2018

good idea imo

Mar 30, 2018
politics.as.usual:

Have you guys considered creating a personal finance forum in here? I'm sure we can all contribute and learn from one another on how to maximize our returns while working so much. I am very interested in investing my money somewhere but it's going to be impossible with banking hours.

Anyways some site where we can discuss personal finance (investing, buying real estate, cars, rental property etc) would be nice.

Thanks!

Excellent idea.

  • KeepCalm's picture