@Kevin O'Leary Reacts: Living On $178K A Year In Chicago | Millennial Money
"Shark Tank" investor Kevin O'Leary reacts to an episode of Millennial Money, featuring Dylan Gutierrez, 30, and Jeraldine Mendoza, 29, who live in Chicago, Illinois and earn a combined $178,000 a year as professional ballet dancers. The couple is engaged and owns a condo near Wrigley Field. But Kevin sounds off on how much they spend a month on food.
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Kevin O’Leary reacts to two professional ballet dancers who spent $2,885 on food in a month
As ballet dancers, Dylan Gutierrez, 30, and Jeraldine Mendoza, 29, are already planning for their retirement from professional dancing. The couple earns roughly $178,000 per year as principle dancers with the Joffrey Ballet, as well as from a steady stream of side hustles in the arts community.
Given the physically demanding nature of their work, they expect to retire from professional ballet dancing in the next five to 10 years.
CNBC Make It asked Kevin O’Leary, chairman of O’Shares ETFs and judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” for his take on how well the couple is doing to prepare for their futures.
The couple gets high marks from the investor for some of their housing decisions. They own a condo in a lively neighborhood of Chicago, forwent a car or parking spot in the city (saving them $20,000 off the bat, O’Leary estimates) and reinvested in their property by upgrading their kitchen and bathrooms.
What O’Leary doesn’t love as much is the couple owning property without being married. Gutierrez and Mendoza got engaged in 2019 and plan to marry as soon as it’s safe to host a destination wedding in Italy.
O’Leary notes he’d like to see the couple get more serious about their budgeting, which Mendoza admits she doesn’t keep track of too closely. “That’s a mistake,” O’Leary says.
Looking at their monthly spending, he also recommends the couple reign in their outsized food spending. In August 2020, the couple spent $2,885 on food across groceries, dining out and ordering takeout - a price tag O’Leary deems “crazy.”
“If you’re dancing, you need those calories. I get it. But I think there’s a major savings to be had on doing a little more planning for groceries and doing a little more cooking at home,” he says.
While the two prefer to stash $500 per paycheck into savings, and also contribute to a union pension, O’Leary strongly advises Gutierrez and Mendoza diversify their investments. In addition to putting money into savings, he’d like to see them invest in the stock market to take advantage of higher returns over time. He also says the two should consider opening tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts outside of their pensions.
With that said, the couple is realistic about their futures in dance and are laying the foundation for their lives after ballet. Gutierrez hopes to start a production company, while Mendoza would like to pursue interior design.
“They’re planning for the future - very smart,” O’Leary says. “Dylan, he can produce. That would be fantastic. There’s always demand for more content. Even dance is getting more digital.
“And frankly, interior design, if you have the eye, is always going to be around forever,” O’Leary adds. “People are always trying to upgrade where they live ... Plus, looks like she did a great job on her own condo from what I’m seeing here.”
Overall, O’Leary gives the couple a rating of 7.5 out of 10 and thinks that, with a few tweaks, they could be well on their way to a 9.5 standing.
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Kevin O'Leary Reacts: Living On $178K A Year In Chicago | Millennial Money