Millennial… What does this word bring to mind for you? Do you have an image in mind of what the Millennial lifestyle is like? I wanted to create a series of interviews with bloggers sharing their lifestyle choices and financial decisions as Millennials. Just to clear things up before we get started I know there is some debate on what a Millennial is exactly. The age group that is considered a Millennial for this post is represented by anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in the year 2018) this is the group I am considering as Millennials.

Tawnya states “I was born in 1987 and I’ve never tried avocado toast, although I love avocados and guacamole.”

What do you do for a living?

I am in my 6th year as an elementary special education teacher. I work at a treatment facility with children that have severe behavioral problems as a result of experiencing a great deal of trauma. My class only has 7-9 students, but they typically range in age, grade, and ability depending on which children are in treatment. I currently have 8 students ranging from 1st to 5th grade. 

Do you have a degree and are you currently using your degree?

I have a Bachelor’s as well as a Master’s degree, and I’m currently using both. I received my Honors Bachelor’s in Psychology from Oregon State University and my Master’s in Special Education from Portland State University.

How long have you worked in your field and what is your current salary range?

I’m in my 10th year working with children who have experienced trauma. I first worked on the treatment side for 4 years after completing my Bachelor’s, then went back to school to get my Master’s and teaching license. I’ve been teaching at the same facility for going on 6 years now.

As for my salary, I’ve come a long way in the last 10 years. The most I ever made while working for the treatment side was $12.45 an hour. I started off at the bottom of the scale when I became a teacher at about $35,800 a year. Between my Master’s and a concerted effort to move up the pay scale with continuing education, I’ve almost doubled my salary and am now at about $67,000 a year.

Do you save for retirement and how?

I have been saving for retirement since I began teaching, but only recently have I voluntarily started saving for retirement. I’m very lucky in that I have a pension plan that I’m forced to pay into every month, with the district also contributing monthly. That was my only retirement savings until this last year, when I opened up a 403(b) (supplementary retirement account) with a Roth IRA. I currently contribute $100 a month to that. I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to work for the district and contribute to a 403(b) because that means I can contribute to a separate IRA as well, which I plan on opening up in early 2019.

Do you have debt? What kind of debt? What are your goals to pay off this debt?

I do have some debt, but the majority of my debt is “good” debt because it is for an asset. I bought a house a little over 3 years ago, but with a 20% down payment and making extra principal payments I already have over 100k in equity. Aside from the mortgage, I bought a used truck 1 ½ years ago to haul my dogs in. I bought it for $19,500 but owe less than 3k at this point.

I don’t like debt, and so I like to balance debt payoff with investing and saving. I’m currently putting $200 a month extra toward my mortgage (automatic payments), and plan to pay off the remaining 3k on the truck before I hit 2 years of ownership (the loan was for 4 years).

Other than those two things I don’t have debt. I’m an active credit card churner and travel hacker, but I always pay my balances every month to avoid interest and maximize the rewards I earn.

Do you have or have you cancelled your home phone/cable/satellite TV?

I cancelled cable over a year ago and have saved around $1,000 because of it. Instead, I’ve gone with a Roku and streaming my TV with a Sony Playstation Vue subscription. I chose Vue because they carry NBC Sports Northwest, which is the channel that broadcasts the majority of the Portland Trail Blazers games. I can do without a lot, but I must have my Blazers!

What percentage of your monthly income do you save?

I’m currently saving around 40% of my income. An amount is deducted from my paycheck every month for my pension and I also contribute $100 a month to my 403(b). I pay my necessary bills with the rest and whatever is left over (usually $500 – $1,000) goes into savings.

What monthly subscriptions/memberships do you use if any and why? Such as a gym membership, Blue apron, Graze, Amazon prime, Dollar shave club, etc?

I don’t have any monthly subscriptions except for the Playstation Vue streaming. I don’t feel any of the others are necessary. I used to have a gym membership, but I wasn’t using it enough to make it worthwhile. I have an elliptical I bought on Black Friday a few years back (for about 75% off), so I use that and also walk my dogs. 

How much do spend on groceries monthly? How often do you eat out?

I spend less than $100 on groceries a month. Part of it is because I get free lunch at my work, and part of it is because I’m lazy and eat out a lot. This is an area I need to do better in, but I don’t like cooking and am very frugal when I eat out. I’ll typically get food that gives me the biggest bang for my buck and will also typically buy something that I can eat for multiple meals. 

Do you have any passive income sources?

I recently invested a good chunk of my savings, and so I get a bit of passive income from that. I’m hoping my blog will turn into a source of passive income, but as of right now it’s just my investments. 

Do you own or lease a vehicle?

I own 3 vehicles. My daily driver is a 2002 Camry with 269k miles my parents gave me, the second is the truck I mentioned earlier, and the third is a 1976 Nova that my parents gave me for my first car. The Nova sits in the garage and I rarely drive it, but it’s a classic and it’s worth more to me in sentimental value than actual market value, so there’s no need to sell it at this point. 

Do you rent or own your own home/condo/apartment?

As I mentioned above, I bought my first home a little over 3 years ago. I was very fortunate in that my parents allowed me to live at home after college. Because of their generosity, I was able to pay off all my student loans, pay my way through graduate school, and build up enough savings for a 20% down payment for the house. My goal is to build up another chunk of savings so I can buy a house with a bigger yard, then rent my current home. I want to diversify my savings and an income property will help me do that.

About the author

I’m half of the blogging duo at Money Saved is Money Earned. I’m a frugal teacher and Sebastian is a former financial analyst. Our goal is to teach people of all ages how financial systems work, and how to take advantage of these systems to save big money. While we have plenty of tips for increasing your income, our main focus is showing you how to save money on every day expenditures through savvy utilization of financial institutions and situations. Any money you save goes straight back into your pocket, turning Money Saved into Money Earned. Teaching Consumerism to Frugalism since March, 2018.