I recently announced that I would start featuring some of the budget profiles submitted to my site, including those of fellow bloggers. For those of you who may be new to this site, I encourage others to bare their budgets so we can all benefit by seeing how everyone else is (or isn’t) making it.
It has been an eye opening and uplifting experience to feature other bloggers through interviewing them and posting their budgets. There is so much we have to learn from each other and so much we might never know if we didn’t ask.
This week I am excited to be featuring Mariana from Brooklyn Based Girlfriend!
I had to interview Mariana just based on the fact that our blogs share the same initials–BBG. Also, she grew up in Poland, which was my introduction to Europe as the first country I ever visited outside of America just a few years ago.
I thought that having grown up poor in rural Poland and now finding herself living near NYC would give her some very interesting perspectives on money. Another fun fact is that she and her husband keep their finances separate for the most part. I asked her a few questions based on her current financial situation that you can read below.
Follow the link below to check out her budget profile (it will open in a new window). It consists of her monthly income, expenses, & total net worth. In other words, all of the dirty details that we love to read about.
The Brooklyn Based Girlfriend Interview
1. What is your current financial goal, and when do you plan to reach it?
My biggest goal is reaching the ‘financial freedom’ meaning I want to ‘work’ if I choose to but don’t need to ‘to survive’. Of course I don’t mean sitting on a coach and do nothing, it is not the goal, it is more about exploring interests, working for myself at a capacity that I want, starting a business, volunteering and simply spending more time with family and friends.
I would love that that happens in the next 15 years. At 35 I hope this is reasonable, but maybe I am a bit of a dreamer too. Short-term goals are $100k in all accounts by end of 2016 and $200k by the time I am 40. Hopefully at that point the market will be just going up and some serious ‘compounding’ will start kicking in 😉
2. How did growing up on a farm in rural Poland affect your view of money?
Growing up there was never enough, but my parents always made it work somehow. I remember on the 1st of each month my dad would bring his salary (cash) and my mom would sit by a kitchen table and distribute it into several envelopes. While I was pretending not to be looking, I always knew what was going on.
Even at a very early age of 7 or 8, I would know that my mom always worried. I sensed and I took over a bit of that fear, and I knew somehow that I should not be asking for anything, unless it was a necessity. I remember a few school trips that I didn’t even mention just so my parents didn’t have to spend the money on it or have to say no to me.
I have a big respect towards money. I know that it does not bring happiness, but it surely helps a little. It has a power to bring freedom and create change. I am witnessing it first hand working in the non-profit sector.
3. In the comment section of your budget profile, you talk about how you and your husband have separate budgets and bank accounts. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just evolve that way? Are you happy with that approach so far?
It just happened to be this way; we never discussed merging accounts (while we did discuss salaries, savings and retirement priorities). We do keep finances separate, and we try to keep clear guidelines who is paying for what.
At times I think this approach is working really well but at times, to be completely honest with you, I don’t think it is so great. I am a saver and T. is a spender. While I think that having separate accounts help me keep some control over what gets put away, sometimes I feel frustrated and question if we really are working towards the same goals.
4. I know you split costs with your husband, but your expenses still look lower than what I’d expect for someone living in New York City. How do you manage to keep costs down?
Well, Manhattan is currently out of reach for what we make so we live outside (20 min by car and 45min subway commute). There is a huge Polish community here, many Poles who came 20-30 years ago invested in local properties and prefer to rent to Polish people.
That’s how I found our apartment (through a local, Polish community website), and it costs us approximately 30-40% less than what we would normally pay. We shop at Costco, Trader Joe’s and local ethnic stores (mostly Polish) which helps keeping the prices down.
We also limit the entertainment and going out costs. Also, truth to be told, while we do share expenses, T. does pay more. In between the apartment, utilities, car payments, groceries, travel and other random things we probably average between $4,500-$5,500 a month for just the two of us.
5. I think it is awesome that not only do you take an annual trip to Poland, but you leave your family a couple thousand dollars when you go. That’s no small chunk of change out of your $50K income. Is that tough for you?
I will start with saying that my dad is the most wonderful dad in the whole world. I know how many sacrifices he made so my sister and I can go to college and have a better start in life than he did.
I am so very grateful and feel so blessed to be able to help out. Sometimes it is $2K a year and sometimes it is much more. I truly believe that when children are small the parents take responsibility for their well-being and when the parents become older and fragile it is the time to give back.
It feels good to know that my dad’s bills are paid, prescriptions filled and he can focus on staying healthy and enjoy his grandchildren. Since I plan accordingly for this expense throughout the year it is definitely doable.
Your turn to bare your budget
So there you have it! There is so much good stuff here that we can learn from Mariana’s experiences and priorities. Here are a few of my takeaways.
- Kids pick up on your attitudes toward money very early on in life
- Separate bank accounts with your spouse may or may not be for you
- Being part of a community can save you money
- You don’t have to be rich to be generous
- Relationships are the best investments
If you want to read about her adventures of saving money and simple New York living, check out her blog.
I am currently taking submissions from people who are interested in being featured. If you are interested, post your budget and send me an email.
What insights did you glean from Mariana?