How a Single 26-Year-Old

Budgets His 6-Figure Salary         

Subject: Connor Hampton

Age: 26

Occupation: Management consulting at an IT firm

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Income: $100,000

Family status: Single

Connor Hampton has never been a reckless spender. Even as a child with a weekly allowance, he knew that he needed to put money aside in order to buy the toys he wanted. Now 26 with a six-figure income, he keeps six months’ salary in his checking account and puts 10% of his annual income aside for retirement.

“I want to keep up a steady pace of investing to make sure my assets can support my lifestyle down the road,” he says. “I want to be able to buy a home, retire early...things like that.”

The way Connor talks about his financial future, one could assume he’s on the brink of starting a family. However, he says he’s still looking for “the right person.” As a result, he sets aside a portion of his income for dating, the expenses of which can add up quickly in a city like Chicago. Connor says he has no problem spending lavishly on a romantic interest, but tries to offset costs by balancing the more expensive dates on his calendar with more low-key ones, as well. “I don't want a date to think I’m cheap, but at the same time, I want her to be interested in my personality instead of my credit card,” he explains.

Like many urban millennials, Connor spends the bulk of his income on rent. He recently moved into a new two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Chicago and pays $1,500 for his half, including access to a gym.

His second-biggest spending category is on restaurants and bars—which is partly due to his active dating and social life, and partly due to the fact that he isn’t much of a cook. (“Everything I know how to make is unhealthy,” he says.) Recognizing that 30 percent of his discretionary income is more than he should be spending on nightlife, he recently signed up for a meal delivery service. While he knows it’s not the absolute most cost-effective option, the ease of it makes the subscription worth the price, he says. “It’s $10 [a meal] and forces me into eating vegetables.”

Connor has few reservations when it comes to spending on convenience. He regularly chooses private cars over public transportation and online delivery over grocery shopping—options that his six-figure salary allows for. But he still tries to find ways to off-set his spending on these small luxuries. He uses a travel rewards credit card, which effectively reduces his transportation bill, and takes advantage of free breakfasts and lunches at his workplace. In setting up his apartment, he opts for second-hand furniture and tries to buy clothing on sale. “I look for cost-savings opportunities where I can.”

How, at such a young age, did he become a savvy saver?

Connor’s answer is straightforward: his dad. The elder Mr. Hampton grew up in a modest-income household, yet built a very comfortable life for his family in Connor’s hometown of McKinney, TX. “I trust his financial advice through and through,” says the now Chicago-based management consultant.

The advice handed down from father to son isn’t that much different any reader could find on a financial blog: Build credit early, max out employer matching on your 401K, set aside an emergency fund. Yet Connor is diligent about following these simple rules, and says he prefers the safety of mutual funds to trendier investments like cryptocurrency (in which he dabbles “just for fun”)!

While Connor tries to be reasonable in his spending, he’s not counting every penny. “My primary focus right now is to not stress too much about money and enjoy my 20s.”