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A film-set wrangler in Montana


Occupation: Freelance Writer & Film-Set Wrangler
Industry: Media & Entertainment
Age: 3. 4
Location: Mountain
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $500,000 (I own a three-bedroom house, so much of this comes from what I’ve paid off on my mortgage and the increased property value. I have $100,000 total between a Roth IRA and an investment portfolio. I’ve never had a job with a retirement plan, so I do everything on my own.I usually have between $25,000 and $35,000 in my checking account because I have this perpetual fear that my house will fall down around me or I’ll lose all my jobs and have to survive by myself.)
Debt: $300,000 (remaining on my mortgage)
Paycheck Amount (monthly): $3,800 (My income varies HUGELY. Some months I make $9,000 between a movie and writing, but other months I don’t work at all.)
Pronouns: she/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,150 (My total mortgage is $1,900, and I have one tenant who pays $750.)
electricity: $80 (my half)
Internet: $40 (my half)
Toilet: $15
Trash Collection: $20
Patron: $15
Spotify & Hulu: $0 (ex’s parents’ account)
Healthcare Plan: $180 (It’s so bad.)
Telephone: $70 (I pay this amount to my parents. They will never succeed in kicking me off the family plan.)
Truck Insurance: $120
Investments: $500
Roth IRA: $200 (I max this out at the end of each year.)

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, I had zero choice in the matter. I went straight from high school to a four-year degree. I have a BA in English, and I think if I’d been given an opportunity to explore more after high school, I would have gone into a different field. I was too immature to go to college at 18 and I regret not taking more advantage of the opportunities from my large state school. My parents paid for my college, including room and board. I have a lot of guilt about this because it meant my dad worked for 40 years nonstop to pay for four college degrees for myself and my siblings.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My family was very well off but didn’t act like it. There was a lot of secrecy around money and a lot of guilt and anxiety about spending it. I was taught to save from a really young age and to have a perpetual fear of scarcity. My family never experienced scarcity, but my mom had a lot of issues around money, and they impacted my unhealthy relationship with my own finances. We never knew how much our dad made (he was high up in his industry), and to this day I have no idea how much money my parents have. I think it’s a lot?

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting at 13, then lifeguarding at 16. I didn’t get an allowance and was taught to work (and save) if I wanted to spend money. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me and my siblings, and they always told us that independence and financial security were the most important aspects of securing a future for ourselves. I saved my babysitting and lifeguarding money in a savings account and would allow myself a certain percentage per month for treats.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Aside from my parents’ secrecy, no. I didn’t know we were well off, but my family owned multiple vacation homes and new cars. I wasn’t allowed to go do expensive things with friends, but it was only because my mom was so strict about saving.

Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. I know I have a poor relationship with money, and that I leave way too much in my checking account. I’ve never had the fallback of a dual income, and I am solely responsible for a large house and all the bills and things that come with single homeownership. My income is also so variable that it creates a feeling of instability when I rarely know how much money I’ll bring in each month. I love the flexibility, though, and I wouldn’t trade it.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 22, after college. I always bought my own cars and used my own spending money, but they paid for tuition and room and board.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received a settlement from a lawsuit in 2013, which I invested with a financial advisor. It went toward the down payment on my house in 2018. I credit this with jump-starting my investments and helping me secure stability in the housing market.



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