As you get ready to don a costume this Halloween, think about trying on a different sort of mask: What would it be like if you weren’t you? Or, more accurately, the potential future you? Think back to the old-school MASH game from junior high, which was supposed to determine whether you were destined to live in a shack with Luke Perry and 11 children, after all. Every life decision you try on for size has far-reaching impacts on your finances (How many kids will you have? Will they have braces? Will you have a beach house where you can hang out with your husband, Leonardo DiCaprio, and your pet octopus?).
Every Life Choice Will Impact Your Overall Finances
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get that beach house with Leo; it means that you should think far ahead to understand what you’ll need to do professionally and financially to make it happen. We’ve laid out 10 questions to ask yourself (with help on how to calculate, along with some sample numbers). We hope you have fun while you go through the list, but also consider what these choices will mean for you in the future and how to start saving for them in the present:
A) Mansion: $40 million (if you’re like Brangelina)
B) Apartment: Roughly $1,200 per month (according to national averages)
C) “Shack”: $600 per month (a cheaper apartment)
D) House: $250,000 (if we go by national averages)
A) Movie star: $14.5 million per year (if you were Nicole Kidman, at least)
B) Senior attorney: $175,000 per year (if you were working in NYC)
C) Janitor: $25,000 per year (in a city like Miami)
D) Marketing specialist: $60,000 per year (if you worked in Los Angeles)
To help estimate, check out Salary.com.
A) Johnny Depp: makes $37 million per year
B) Someone who makes more than you and may be able to support you
C) Someone who makes nothing or a lot less than you, whom you’ll have to support
D) Someone who makes a similar income as you, or not getting married
A) A huge blowout affair: $1 million (if you copied Brad & Jen)
B) A traditional wedding: $30,000 (on average, including the wedding dress)
C) Shoestring wedding with reception at a bar, or not getting married: under $1,000 (a friend did it in Colorado for about $700!)
D) A smaller, modest wedding: $10,000
A) No expenses barred: $57 million (what Tiger spent on his extended honeymoon with Elin)
B) A traditional honeymoon: about $4,000
C) “Staycation” honeymoon or nothing at all: $0
D) A budget getaway: $2,000
A) 8 kids: $1+ million
B) 3 kids: about $660,000 from birth to age 17 (the child cost breakdown)
D) 1 kid: about $221,000
A) By age 35: $1+ million in today’s dollars (if you live until 100 and currently make $50k per year)
B) By age 65: $760,000+ in today’s dollars
D) By age 65, still working part-time: $400,000+ in today’s dollars
A) Private school: about $40,000 per year + living expenses (and costs will probably go up in the future)
B) State school: about $5,000 per year + living expenses
C) They won’t go to college!
D) Community college: about $2,500 per year
Now for the results!
You enjoy life in all its richness--literally. You're attracted to the high-roller lifestyle, and we won't judge you for pursuing that dream. Just think about the sort of job you'll need, how much you'll have to make, and the kind of savings patterns you'll need in order to achieve this lifestyle. The only caveat: You are not allowed to pull a Toni Braxton (or a Nicholas Cage, for that matter).
You want what we've come to call the American dream: A house, a car, the ability to retire, the ability to send your kids to college, the works. This sort of lifestyle is not unachievable, as long as you think about what you need to do to get there. Does your current job pay enough to plan for these expenses? Large costs like a house, car, and tuition all require saving far in advance. With the right foresight and planning, we trust that you'll make it work.
Hey, we're all about saving money. If you don't need a car or don't want to retire, power to you. Pursue what you love: For some people, that means working long hours to buy a fancy car, and for some people that means saving every bit of money to pursue a lower-paying passion. We just want to remind you that money is for security and for enjoyment. As long as you're being responsible, don't be afraid to enjoy yourself from time to time.
We're all about saving where you can as long as you have the necessities, and you seem to have that down pat. You are good at discerning what's necessary from what's a luxury. If you ache to lead a more lavish lifestyle, think about what you'd have to do to get yourself there. Otherwise, rejoice in what you do have, make time for the things that are important in life, and enjoy.
Tell us in the comments: Did you foresee your fortune? Would you choose another one if you could?