Personal Finance (Money Journal)

Sharing some thoughts based on my most recent job transition.

As a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Virginia a potential budget could have been:

Concept Amount
Salary $70,000.00
Income Tax $15,671.76
Federal Income Tax $ 7,379.97
State Tax - VA $ 3,117.54
Social Security $ 4,193.51
Medicare $ 980.74
Savings $39,310.00
401(a) $ 9,730.00
403(b) Roth $19,980.00
Roth IRA $ 6,000.00
HSA $ 3,600.00
Disposable Income $14,666.24
Monthly Disposable Income $ 1,222.19

Related Expenses

Concept Cost
Health Insurance $240.00
Dental Insurance $ 12.00
Vision Insurance $100.00
Life Insurance $ 0.00
Public Transportation $ 0.00
Concept Amount (per fiscal year)
Annual Leave 22 days
Paid Holidays 17 days

Supplemental income opportunities: up to 20% of salary ($14,000.00) per fiscal year. In my experience, I didn’t maximized my 403(b) contributions so I could have a higher monthly disposable income (rent alone was about $1.5k).

Starting with the federal government as a ZP-III (3),

Concept Amount
Salary $113,362.00
Income Tax $ 30,251.54
Federal Income Tax $ 18,463.00
State Tax - VA $ 3,117.54
Social Security $ 7,028.00
Medicare $ 1,643.00
Savings $ 39,756.12
FERS-FRAE $ 4,987.97
TSP Roth $ 25,168.15
Roth IRA $ 6,000.00
HSA $ 3,600.00
Disposable Income $ 41,306.32
Monthly Disposable Income $ 3,442.19
Concept Cost
Health, Dental, Vision Insurance $1595
Concept Amount
Annual Leave 13 days
Sick Leave 13 days
Paid Holidays 11 days


Category Amount
Living Arrangement $2,400
Auto Loan $366
Groceries $500
Miscellaneous $175

Living Arrangement

I live in Arlington, VA which is in the Washington D.C. Greater Metro Area. I am currently looking for a condo and am aiming to have a monthly payment of 25% of my gross monthly income towards the costs of the mortgage (principal and interests 🏠🏦), property taxes (💸), HOA dues (🛗🏋️🏊🧖‍♂️), utilities (💡🚰🗑️🌐📺🎶🧺), homeowner insurance, and mortgage insurance. Overall, I have budgeted about 25% of my gross monthly income.


I have a pretty flexible budget for groceries compared to a typical Food Plans of about $125 a week. I buy groceries at Whole Foods using the Amazon Visa Rewards card so I get a 5% cash back that helps.


I own a 2016 Kia Soul which I have back home in Puerto Rico and my mom uses. I have SmartBenefits as a federal employee so I have subsidized public transporation.


Miscellaneous expenses may include going out every so often or buying a videogame.

Annual Leave

I won’t have too much savings but allocating about a couple hundred bucks every couple months for when I go on break.


Maxing out my tax advantaged instruments including my Roth IRA, Health Savings Account (HSA), and employer sponsored retirement plans (FERS).

Instrument Amount
Roth IRA $ 6,000
HSA $ 3,600
Roth TSP $ 19,500
FERS-FRAE $ 5,000


Federal and state taxes (income, sales and use, property): $34,000


With a gross income of $113,362 I pay an effective tax rate of around 30%. I then save about half of the take-home income. At least 75% of the savings are for retirement in a tax-advantage instrument and the rest are kept in a more liquid form (e.g., stocks that can be sold off and transfered to a checking account in about a week’s time).

Amount Allocation
Income $ 113,362
Taxes $ 34,000 30%
After-Tax $ 79,362 70%
Expenses $ 45,362 57%
Savings $ 34,000 43%
José Bayoán Santiago Calderón
José Bayoán Santiago Calderón
Research Economist

🇵🇷 Economist by training. Data scientist / software developer by accident.