What It Costs to Be Me: U.S. Edition
By Lea Goldman
Tiffany Fehr, 33
Occupation: Web developer for msnbc.com (part-owned by Microsoft)
Annual income: $96,000 (plus profit sharing)
Average income in Seattle: $48,976
Home, sweet home: "After I graduated college, my parents helped me buy a six-bedroom house in the University district. I rented out the extra rooms to help pay the $1,800 monthly mortgage. But now all of my roommates are gone I'm over being a landlord. I was such a pushover! I've been trying to sell the house for two years, but the market being what it is, I'm going to rent it out and move into a smaller place."
Bills, bills, bills: "I pay $250 per month for utilities, which includes pretty much everything. Instead of cable, I stream Hulu and Netflix over the Internet. I also pay $120 per month for my used Audi, and have a charitable giving budget of $50 per month. My savings for retirement is aggressive I think I've got $100,000 in several retirement accounts, in addition to other investments. I track every single expense even tips, which I've figured out average $40 a month."
Meal plan: "MSNBC is part-owned by Microsoft, and my office is on the Redmond campus. The cafeteria caters to dudes it's pretty much pizza and hamburgers. But because Microsoft subsidizes it, you can get an amazing amount of food for just $7."
The weekender: "It's very hard to get the momentum to leave the house on Saturdays because of the weather, so Friday nights are big here. After work, I'll meet up with friends for happy hour, which will run me about $50. I'll use Foursquare to see how many people have checked in to a place that way I know if it's busy or not."
Only in Seattle: "Everyone tweets here. It's like an arms race for who has the newest, coolest toy or iPhone app. I only have 20 apps on my phone, which is really nothing. Amazon Fresh, which is a same-day grocery delivery service, is also available here. I can totally geek out on the cost-per-unit information and set up cool little reminder lists."
My big splurge: "All told, I spend $20,000 a year on Gyrotonics, which is like Pilates. I do it with a private instructor about three days a week. I used to be an amateur boxer, and this took about 20 pounds of muscle off my body."
The shoe index: "Recently, I bought a pair of $150 Terra Plana eco-friendly pumps that I never wear. I prefer sneakers, and usually have five pairs in rotation at any given time."
The view from the ground: "There's still a lot of unemployment, people who were forced to go on contract when they'd normally be salaried. I have a lot of friends who are doing jobs they never thought they'd be doing."