How a 40-year-old who makes $ 75,000 a year in LA spends his money
This story is part of CNBC Make It’s Millennial money Series detailing how people around the world make, spend and save money.
Isaac Diaz turned 40 last month, but his big birthday getaway didn’t go entirely according to plan. That was fine – Diaz is no stranger to making the most of every situation.
Diaz took time out from his busy job as a video producer to relax in Puerto Rico. But when he broke up with his girlfriend in the middle of the trip, he spent most of his birthday flying home to Los Angeles. His birthday meal consisted of a beer and an overpriced chicken club sandwich.
“I just sat there and thought, ‘That wasn’t what I wanted to be 40,'” he says with a laugh.
A few days later, his family and friends threw him a big backyard party which, he says, just goes to show that there are positives to be found in every situation.
Finding those silver linings was an important lesson for Diaz, who sat in freelance appearances for years. He didn’t get a permanent full-time job until 2019, which he really loved. Now Diaz makes about $ 70,000 a year from his job as a video producer for a television station, and about $ 5,000 a year from side projects and freelance appearances.
“It’s not a lot of money, but it’s enough not to be broke,” he says.
Though he thought he was married, had kids and a home of his own, Diaz made his peace with his life. And that goes for his finances too, which he says are not perfect. Even though Diaz is contributing to his 401 (k) and saving $ 175 on every paycheck, he still feels like he is in arrears, in part because he spent years paying off credit card debt that he has amassed since college.
“I feel like I should have things together, but I don’t have it all and I’m learning that is okay. Being 40 doesn’t mean you have to be perfect. Being 40 doesn’t mean having all of the things together that you thought you needed, “he says.
How he uses his monthly budget
While his income is pretty constant these days, Diaz’s expenses are currently in flux thanks to the recent split. He lived with his ex, so he plans to stay with family and friends this summer while he looks for a new place.
To show how Diaz normally spends his money, check out his spending as of April 2021 here:
- Rent and utilities: $ 1,528 (includes Wi-Fi and utilities)
- Car costs: $ 664 ($ 371 for car payment, $ 191 for gas, and $ 26 for DMV cost)
- Savings and investments: $ 619
- eat: $ 513 ($ 167 for groceries, $ 346 for restaurants)
- Insurance and Therapy: $ 220 (includes health, dental, vision, and life insurance, and monthly therapy sessions)
- Household costs: $ 91
- Monthly cost of his LA Chargers season tickets: $ 75
- Student Loans: $ 69 (He has about $ 6,300 left to pay.)
- Subscriptions: $ 45 (including Amazon Prime, Costco, Hulu, Netflix, SiriusXM, and Tidal)
- Gym: $ 31
- phone: $ 30 (Diaz has a family plan.)
After working on paying off credit card debt at a young age, keeping his monthly expenses under control is now a priority for Diaz. He currently has no credit card debt and is in the process of paying off the loan on his 2013 Acura TSX, which had about $ 4,999 in April.
Although Diaz lives within his means, he leaves room for experiences, including food and travel. (He put most of his travel plans on hold during the pandemic, but expects to plan a trip soon.) Over the years, he has toured European cities like London and Paris, as well as countries like the United Arab Emirates and Thailand.
Diaz is also a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Chargers. He shares the annual cost of US $ 2,704 for season tickets and travel expenses to some away games with two of his friends. “It’s definitely a priority for me,” says Diaz. “We have such a great time, we make great memories and we travel across the country to see other football stadiums.”
How he got to where he is today
It has been a winding road for Diaz to get to where he is.
Diaz grew up in the San Diego area but moved to college in Los Angeles. After graduating from California State University Northridge with a degree in Film and Television Arts in 2003, Diaz struggled to find work in his field. After college, he worked in a pharmacy for a few years before finding a job as an assistant to a music manager.
That eventually led Diaz to seek out freelance video appearances, but those jobs weren’t always enough to keep the bills paid, let alone save money or invest.
“Some months when we were very busy we made $ 20,000 or $ 30,000 and other months we didn’t bring in anything,” says Diaz. “And to be honest, I wasn’t very good at budgeting for such fluctuations.” Diaz began accumulating credit card debt in college and the fluctuations in his professional income made it well into his 30s.
In 2015, his freelance appearances began to dry up. “I had to move back to San Diego,” says Diaz.
He was always closely related to his parents and two younger siblings, but going home “was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I’m sitting there, 35 years old, moving out of an apartment that” was me alone at home with my parents. ”
But according to Diaz it was “actually a blessing in adversity”. It gave Diaz more time with his mother, who had just started treatment for uterine cancer. She passed away three years later.
“Looking back, I’m glad I moved home. But back then … I didn’t feel very successful at all,” says Diaz.
He credits his mother for helping him with this. “She helped me say, ‘Hey, look, you have to get up, dust yourself off, come back out,'” says Diaz. Both of his parents encouraged him to find a new job, even if it wasn’t in video production. And so he did, and took a job at a software company.
While he rose from customer service to account manager in just a year and a half with the company, it was clear to Diaz that this wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life.
So he stopped. He started applying for video production jobs, landed his current job a few months later in October 2019 and moved back to Los Angeles.
“I didn’t have a safety net. There was no plan,” says Diaz. “I don’t recommend doing it the way I did. I just had to do something that I was passionate about.”
And luckily for Diaz it worked. The stable income also enabled Diaz to take his finances seriously by adding to his 401 (k), making plans to pay off all of his debts, and saving up for future goals like buying real estate.
What he hopes the future holds
Although Diaz loves his job and is satisfied with what he has achieved, he plans to continue to face new challenges at work over the next five years, expanding his skills in video production and eventually getting into television and film development.
He also plans to keep working on his finances, starting by adding to the roughly $ 20,000 he has in retirement accounts and investments.