A Week of Spending for a Biomedical Engineer in Minneapolis Making $185KAugust 4, 2022
Welcome to the MedPage Today “Med Money Journals,” providing readers a look into the finances of doctors, nurses, medical students, PAs, NPs, and others practicing medicine. Each post offers information about one person’s financial background, wages, and spending over a 7-day period. Anonymously share your own Med Money Journal.
Job: Biomedical engineer for med-tech company
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Salary: $185,000/year (individual)
Net worth: $3,700,000 (individual)
Amount per paycheck: $7,115 biweekly before taxes and deductions; $2,524 after taxes and deductions for benefits/savings
Recurring monthly expenses:
- Telecommunications: $161
- Health, dental, and life insurance: $320 (deducted from paycheck)
What was your first job and why did you start working?
Starting about age 9, other neighborhood kids and I did landscape work for neighbors to have something to do and to start earning a little spending money.
Do you worry about money in your current situation?
No. Although, we do worry about the spiraling cost of healthcare benefits, which is the primary reason both my spouse and I keep working.
What financial tracking or money management/budgeting tools (if any) do you use? Would you recommend them to others?
I keep a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, which is accessible from any device, any time. Since it’s so accessible, it’s easy to update and to track spending. I’ve kept a spending spreadsheet for 22 years, starting when a family friend encouraged me to read Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez.
Are there any other financial details readers should be aware of?
My spouse is similarly employed and has similar savings and lack of debt. What’s reported here is individual. We split household expenses about evenly, and we’ve kept the separate financial instruments we each started prior to our marriage many years ago.
Do you have any comments or thoughts on the current state of compensation for people in your position/profession?
The non-salary benefits of working in industry cannot be underestimated, such as steeply discounted health insurance, bonuses, 401K matches, employee stock purchase plans, free or discounted communication devices and services, and so on.
7 Day Journal
Day 1 (Wednesday)
6:50 a.m. — I grab my cell phone to check the weather and my work and our family schedules for the day, when I see a Camelcamelcamel (price tracker) alert, letting me know that a birthday gift for our youngest child had a 25% price drop and could be delivered in time for the birthday. After completing the online purchase ($21.99), I add this expenditure into the Cloud-based spending spreadsheet I keep.
7:04 a.m. — My spouse uses my car to commute to work for his 1 day in the office this week, since it gets better gas mileage and I’m working from my home office as usual.
7:38 a.m. — I make breakfast and pack lunches and snacks for school. Our meals today are made from groceries we have on hand.
Day 2 (Thursday)
5:02 p.m. — I made a quick trip to our nearest grocery store to pick up a few fill-in things for the weekend and to restock on a few store-brand items we use regularly ($32.69). The store gave me a $5 credit to use on my next grocery shopping trip since I’m a member of their grocery rewards program.
6:00 p.m. — The family spent an hour on yard work and house cleaning. We choose to do these chores ourselves, rather than hire workers to do these services for us.
9:24 p.m. — I sit down with the weekly grocery ads that arrived in the mail today and make lists for the stores I want to visit next week. There are three grocery stores all in the same area less than 2 miles from us, so I plan my primary weekly grocery shopping trip based both on sales and what we want for the week.
Day 3 (Friday)
My biweekly paycheck is issued:
- 44% of my gross pay is withheld for state and federal taxes, including Medicare
- 2% goes toward my portion of my medical and dental plans
- 13% goes into my Roth 401K
- 6% goes toward my employee stock purchase plan
- 7% is direct deposited into a savings account
- The rest (28%) is automatically deposited into my checking account
12:00 p.m. — We stop at the town clerk’s office and pay our semi-annual property tax bill (my portion: $2,853). Then, my spouse treats us to a lunch date at a local diner.
5:00 p.m. — Our youngest had a “no gifts, please” backyard birthday party with a few close friends. We kept it simple and low-key. No decorations. No outside entertainment. The kids used sporting equipment we already had on hand. We served simple snacks and drinks purchased during last week’s grocery trip. Because our costs were so low, we let our child special-order a personalized cake ($19.95) — the first year we did not make and decorate it ourselves.
Day 4 (Saturday)
Our eldest needs a supplemental textbook for school next year. I found a clean, used version online ($12.25).
Our family ordered sandwiches to-go for a family picnic celebrating our child’s birthday ($29.57). We brought our own beverages and accompaniments to have our favorites and keep the cost down.
Day 5 (Sunday)
12:25 p.m. — On the way back from dropping a friend at the local airport, I stopped at a different local grocery store to stock up on name-brand staples on my shopping list, which are deeply discounted this week ($38.43).
1:34 p.m. — I purchased advance tickets for a family outing to a local double-A baseball game as a Father’s Day gift, using a promo code that will give us free food at the venue as well ($57).
Day 6 (Monday)
6:58 a.m. — When I reach into the cupboard to grab a new stick of deodorant, I realize it’s the last one in my supply closet. I take a quick check of prices online, then add it to my Target shopping list for my next stock-up trip.
5:10 p.m. — Our youngest attends his weekly martial arts class, which we paid in full at the start of the year to save 15%.
Day 7 (Tuesday)
Like most work/school days, our meals today are made from groceries we have on hand.
Week total: $3,064.88. This is a more expensive week than usual for me because of the semi-annual property tax bill. Because I track my spending consistently, I know that my typical weekly spending averages $1,228/week. This has not changed much in the last couple of years, with the recent increase in our grocery prices offset by less travel, as our family is busy with more local children’s activities this year.
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