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Finance Check: "I'm a risk-taking investor"

Published August 8, 2023

How much money do you have at your disposal each month? How are you saving for your retirement and which financial goals have you set yourself? Find out the answers to these questions in our Finance Check with Johannes.   

How high is your monthly (net) budget?

I am currently a psychologist in training to become a psychotherapist. The therapy hours I give are regularly reimbursed by the health insurance. However, my training institute keeps part of it, so I do not earn the full hourly rate of a trained psychotherapist. In addition, I still work with a 50 percent position as a consultant with a focus on data in a consulting firm for the public sector. My total net income is € 1,350 per month. In addition, I have rental income from an inherited property (about € 200) and freelance income from training therapies (about € 500), i.e. the therapy hours I provide as part of my training. 

Are you renting or buying the place where you live?  

I live in Hamburg in a rented flat with 5 friends and my partner. The apartment has 170 m2, of which I live in about 50 m2 together with my partner and share 45 m2 of common rooms. Sometimes I am allowed to enter the other rooms as well. 

Since I live in the center of town, I don't own a car. Instead, I actually do everything by bicycle - even though sometimes it takes me up to an hour to get there, for example if I have to go to the other side of the Elbe river. When the weather is bad, I sometimes take public transportation. And if I want to transport something, for example because we want to renovate something in the apartment or have found second hand furniture, I use the various car-sharing options.

What’s the breakdown of your monthly outgoings in fixed costs and variable costs?

My fixed costs are € 1,435 per month. These include € 500 for rent, € 300 for education costs, € 110 for contracts (sports subscription, entertainment, mobile phone, Zero account), € 340 for food and household products, € 125 for train fares and € 60 for bicycles (apportioned over the month). 

In addition, there are leisure costs of € 440 for restaurants, lunch or snacks in between (€ 170), clothing and other purchases (€ 120), leisure activities (€ 80) and vacations (€ 70 allocated to the month). 

I save what is left over at the end of the month. That is an average of 175 euros per month. I invest this money from time to time, currently I put it into the Tomorrow Better Future Stocks

When you see the breakdown of your finances, does it surprise you or do you check your spending and income regularly?

I'm surprised at how large the share of fixed costs is. But: This category also includes quite a lot of what makes up my everyday life. I have many friends in other cities that I like to visit and my family lives 8 hours away by train. This is then reflected in the expenses for mobility, which are quite high - although I mainly ride a bike in everyday life. However, the relationships are definitely worth it to me and with a car my costs would be even higher. Since I'm relatively mindfull when it comes to new purchases and I buy a lot secondhand, I'm not surprised that the share of leisure spending is not that high. 

Even though a lot of money and time goes to my education, I'm quite satisfied that there's still a small amount left to save each month in the end. And that's despite the fact that I don't consider my financial situation to be that lavish at the moment. But of course I'm aware that many people earn much less.

How do you organize your finances to keep track of everything?

Since I use a separate account for my education income and expenses (incl. travel costs, postage, etc.), I can focus my spending on my employment income. My rent and a fixed amount into the shared account with my partner for groceries and joint expenses go out right at the beginning of the month shortly after my salary comes in. This leaves a balance that I can spend throughout the month. This is then quite transparent and usually just enough.

Everything else I bring once a year after the tax return in the clean, when I know what is left of my freelance income and rental income. I then invest this amount.  

How are you making provisions for your old age or saving up for bigger dreams for the future? 

At the moment, it is only possible for me to make intensive private savings for my retirement to a very limited extent. However, I have a buffer thanks to the privilege of having inherited a property, and I can take care of my retirement savings and any larger purchases after I finish my education - hopefully with better financial opportunities then. So at the moment I'm relying on the state pension. But that is not supposed to be the final plan. 

What is particularly important to you when it comes to money?

I'm generally a thrifty person and have always liked to collect ... even money. I only buy new things when it's really necessary. But when I really want something, I also enjoy spending money. In this case, the price doesn't matter, but rather whether I find the price reasonable and how much it's worth to me. 

I try to use my money as sustainably as possible, have my account with Tomorrow and invest in sustainable funds. However, I am a very risk-averse investor and also like to invest in crypto, crowdinvesting or other things with total loss risk.

My relationships are definitely worth the travel costs.

On the one hand, money plays too big of a role, in that money and financial opportunities strongly determine our daily lives and options, especially when living in the city. Money is distributed very unfairly. And although both I and my partner are definitely already on the better side, I worry about how we will be able to finance a life in the city with family, a real estate purchase or retirement well. How do others do that after all? So it's important to talk about money and salaries to at least expose these inequities.   

What do you wish you’d known sooner about money and finances? 

Actually nothing, I have always been interested in finance and money and knew enough according to my current situation to make the "right" decisions.

Find out more 

Tax returns in Germany: What you need to know

10 climate facts to get the conversation going

The three-account model: The simplest way for couples to organise their finances

Better sustainable than sorry: Open your sustainable Tomorrow bank account and change the finance world

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