How to Live the Good Life in Portland on $40K

Uber vs. car ownership, the legendary $10,000 windfall, and picking a credit union

Edited by Marty Patail By Zach Dundas and Emma Mannheimer January 25, 2016 Published in the February 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

The Fresh Start

Congratulations, kid, you scored your first gig.

Your income: $40,000.

0216 fresh start vttkrd

You just found $10,000.

Perhaps a benevolent aunt has gone unto her cosmic reward. Maybe you nabbed a contract to write copy for your friend’s Kickstarter scheme. Whatever: you bagged an unexpected lump sum, and it feels so good. What now? Portland financial adviser Joe Alfonso recommends a three-tiered hierarchy of needs, with debt at the top. (1) “Younger people are often burdened by student loans or other revolving debt,” Alfonso says. “If you get some of that off the table, regular income can be dedicated to building assets.” (2) “Have they been saving for retirement? A Roth IRA can be a great way to leverage the tax code when you’re younger.” (3) “Working towards a down payment on a home, especially if you plan to live in it for five or more years, could be a good thing.” Other strategic spends recommended by local Merrill Lynch planner Dan Adams: work-related wardrobe upgrades and the final retirement of ye olde college car.

Is Car Ownership Worth It? 

  • $2,081 - Estimated annual cost of owning a car in Oregon (including gas, insurance, and maintenance) 
  • 173 - Number of 3-mile/15-minute Uber trips that money would buy
  • 291 - Number of 3-mile/15-minute Car2go trips that money would buy
  • 416 - Number of TriMet day passes that money would buy ($1,100 buys an annual pass)

Credit Union Redux

Switching from your corporate bank to a local, member-owned credit union? Here’s the skinny on five of the most popular options (all of which have free checking and apps!):

  Interest Checking APY ATM Fee Refunds Savings APY
Advantis 1.75% Refunds up to $25 a month 0.05—0.15%
Trailhead 3% All fees refunded 0.05—1.5%
Unitus 0.05—0.1% None 0.05—0.1%
OnPoint 0.5% None 0.05%
Rivermark 2% Refunds up to $12 a month 0.15—5%
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