Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

    How HENRYs are investing and spending in the face of an uncertain economy

    Miles Goodloe (left), Domenic Boresta (middle), and Robert Oszust Jr. (right) are all HENRYs.

    HENRYs — high earners, not rich yet — are a wide-ranging group often making over $100,000.Despite making a lot, many are worried about investing enough for their futures and paying off debts.Business Insider spoke to six HENRYs across the country about how they’re saving amid high inflation.

    Miles Goodloe, 34, has finally made it — he’s a HENRY.

    After years of school and work, he’s expected to make over $100,000 working in technology education — granting him the stepping-stone status of high earner, not rich yet.

    Despite making six figures, Goodloe feels he’s not financially stable. He has $120,000 in credit card debt, $80,000 of which are student loans, and he’s putting little into retirement. He doesn’t have much left over at the end of the month, given he spends over $3,700 monthly on essentials not including debt or investments.

    Still, he’s chosen to use what’s left over on nights out with friends while cutting back on expenses like cable.

    “I want to make sure I’m using that money correctly moving forward under the assumption that this will be my base income for the rest of my life,” Goodloe told Business Insider.

    While the demographics of a HENRY can run the gamut, they are typically between 27 and 42, make above $100,000 a year, don’t have kids, and have lots of student debt, according to data on 1,500 clients shared with Business Insider from Stash Wealth, a financial advisor for HENRYs.

    There’s a wide variety of experiences and views among self-described HENRYs about their financial situations and goals. Despite making six figures, many are cautious about how they spend and save, with some saving upwards of 50% of their income for retirement and other investments. Others are using much of their salary to cut down on debt or invest in childcare or a mortgage. Many are striving to achieve a balance of saving and spending without sacrificing what matters to them.

    Business Insider spoke to six HENRYs across the country about their saving strategies, worries about their financial futures, and short- and long-term aspirations.

    Figuring out the right amount to save

    Goodloe’s salary has allowed him to live an “awesome luxury experience,” though he said paying down his debt is a large undertaking preventing him from getting further ahead.

    His debt payments add up to around $1,900 a month, and until this year, he’s struggled to pay those down. He’s planning to pay off $50,000 over the next two years while aiming to save $800 a month.

    “I feel probably most financially insecure not having an emergency fund, not feeling like if my job fires me, I really do have a safety net to protect myself for three to six months, which is pretty much my financial goal for the future,” Goodloe said.

    He’s found some money to put into retirement funds while also donating to charity and spending on his social life. He hopes to save $15,000 by the end of next year, which would allow him to visit family across the country and make him feel ready to enter into a serious relationship.

    “I really want to make sure I do that so I can achieve the American dream,” he said.

    For those with the means to save more, finding the right balance between saving and spending is difficult.

    Robert Oszust Jr., 30, works as a business analyst making between $80,000 and $110,000 and saves about 50% of his income across multiple investment accounts and an emergency fund — all of which are helping him get to a point where he can live comfortably with his family.

    “My parents said if you can find any way to make sure you’re never in a situation where you don’t have money, saving a lot is the better spot to be in to be as liquid as possible,” Oszust said.

    To keep savings high, he fixes many monthly expenses — he schedules four haircuts a year, and he goes to the grocery store once a month. A little less than 20% of his and his wife’s combined income goes toward their mortgage.

    He said job security has always been a worry, though his savings level has given him more peace of mind. Still, he’s concerned about the price of childcare costs if he has children in the future and the cost of caring for his and his wife’s parents.

    “There’s only so much you can cut back to save 40-50% of income until you’re hurting your quality of life, and you need to recognize the value of the things that you’re buying,” Oszust said. “My wife and I aren’t buying fast fashion, we’re not buying breakable consumables that we’re going through every week, and we need to recognize there is value in the assets that we hold.”

    Preparing amid uncertainty

    Greg, who works in technology for a large bank in Connecticut, is on the other side of the HENRY spectrum. He’s in his mid-40s, has already saved $1.5 million for retirement, and has a combined income of around $300,000 with his wife. Still, Greg — who asked to use just his first name for privacy concerns — acknowledges he’s oversaving and is somewhat paranoid about the economy and technological shifts.

    While wealthier than many HENRYs, Greg still doesn’t feel rich. His mortgage is $1,400 a month, he bought a truck after his 17-year-old car fell apart, and he reduced spending on non-essentials. He’s planning for an $800,000 retirement home, though he’s worried that tech-heavy industries like finance and insurance could be at risk as AI becomes more prevalent.

    “One of the reasons we might technically be over-saving is that we have no idea what healthcare costs are going to look like when we retire,” Greg said. “For Social Security, we’re definitely not counting on that.”

    He says this 60% rate of savings stems from years of trying to get out of debt with his wife. He said his nest egg could allow him and his wife to retire early or pursue other passions, though they’re not quite there yet.

    “Maybe front-loading the savings a little bit gives more career freedom, especially if things do start to get weird, or we just want to do something else,” Greg said.

    For Sherry, 26, saving 70% of her and her husband’s combined income is the only way she can feel comfortable amid concerns about the economy and inflation. Sherry, who works in wealth management and asked to use her first name for privacy reasons, said she’s holding off on starting a family as she develops her career amid high childcare costs. She’s also worried about providing for her parents, whether that be paying for long-term care or assisting them with day-to-day expenses.

    Though she and her husband bought a home, saving over two-thirds of her income has given her some comfort knowing she’s more prepared than many of her peers. Sherry said that she and her husband still dine out and shop for clothes, though it’s hard for them to justify purchases over a couple hundred dollars.

    “Money is a tool, and so I want to use that money for good use,” she said. “I don’t want to use it for something that is just going to give me temporary happiness.”

    Investing in the short term

    Domenic Boresta, 27, who makes around $100,000 a year in Washington, DC, invests about as much in long-term investments as he does in fun activities such as dinners, friends’ weddings, and a trip to the 2026 World Cup.

    “It’s not how much money you make, it’s more what you do with it, but when you make six figures, what you can do with it gives you a lot more freedom to live your life,” said Boresta, who works at a law firm.

    The recent master’s of public administration graduate said he’s still devoting around two-thirds of his income to necessities including rent, daily expenses, and debts. A fifth of his income goes to his 401(k), investments in mutual funds, and savings for rental properties a few years from now.

    Despite some short-term worries, he hopes by 35, he’ll be in a position to have enough capital to start a family and have a rental property.

    “I’m not terribly motivated by money. It gives me a lot of freedom to have money, but in terms I need to be a millionaire, I need to have a company, that’s not me,” Boresta said.

    While some HENRYs are holding off on buying a home or starting a family until they’re wealthier, others aren’t willing to sacrifice those life goals. Eric, who’s in his early 30s and lives in Ohio, bought a home a few years ago, and has young kids. Eric, who works in plastics manufacturing in Ohio and asked to just use his first name for privacy reasons, said he devotes money to travel and family outings, spends approximately $1,000 on food each month for his family, and saves around 30% of his and his wife’s combined income.

    He and his wife, who have a combined $160,000 salary, noticed that rising costs have led them to cut back on saving for his children’s college, as well as reduce his brokerage investments and 401(k) contribution. Though, he said he’ll continue to devote money to what matters most to him amid high inflation.

    “Even the ones that are older and closer to retirement with $1-2 million in retirement savings, they’re feeling the pinch as well, so it kind of made me feel better that I’m not alone,” Eric said.

    Are you a HENRY who is worried about saving for the future? Reach out to this reporter at nsheidlower@insider.com.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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