Last Chance to Vote for Philly Mag’s Best Teacher Award

Back in April, Philly Mag asked for nominations in our first-ever Best Teacher Award, dedicated to recognizing the most outstanding K-8 educators in the Philadelphia region. After being inundated with nominations, we narrowed down the field to five finalists.

And now it’s your last chance to help us choose the winner — voting ends on Tuesday night at 11:59 p.m. Read about each finalist, then vote now for the teacher you think is most deserving. The winner will receive a $5,000 gift for their school, along with a book donation, both courtesy of Subaru.

The Great Philly Mag Dishonesty Survey

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $18,000



As an adult, it’s interesting to look back on my family’s financial situation growing up. If there were money concerns, my father and mother, a patient-transport assistant and a certified nursing aide, respectively, never struggled in front of my three brothers and me. I was raised in South Philly, and I can’t recall ever being told we didn’t have the financial means for me to participate in sports or after-school activities. It was a comfortable upbringing.

Snapshot: Family Expenses

Home: $200/month for a three-bedroom house (subsidized)
Transportation: $180/month for SEPTA pass and tokens for kids
Education: $190/month for Catholic school (two kids)
Child care: $124/month for youngest daughter’s after-school program
Groceries: $500/month
Dining & takeout: $50/month
Clothes, tech, other: $100/month
Vacation: $0
Savings: $600/year Puts aside $25 from each paycheck

I didn’t attend college, but my parents helped me financially in other ways after high school. When my children were born, they helped with child care and gave me money from time to time. Now, my son is 18 years old and goes to Kutztown University, where, luckily, he pays in-state tuition. He didn’t always know he wanted to go to college, so I didn’t save for it. He received financial aid, and then I took out a loan, which he’s also on, for the remaining portion. I help him apply for as many scholarships as possible. Seeing how much it costs to attend college nowadays, I’ve already started saving for my daughters, ages nine and 13.

My children’s quality of education is important to me. I send both of my daughters to Catholic school because the local public school isn’t great. There are additional costs, like uniforms, but the tuition isn’t that bad. Plus, they offer an affordable after-school program for my youngest daughter that lets me pick her up at 6 p.m. after I get off work.

I’ve been in my current job for five years but have held similar positions most of my adult life. I’d like to make more money, of course, but I try to take it day by day. It would be easier to not have to worry about putting aside enough money for bills throughout the month. I’d prefer to pay all of them on the first of the month and then use the second check to have a little fun. On the rare occasion there is money left at the end of the month, I might get my hair done or buy an outfit online, where I can search for a deal.

I have very little debt — maybe $150 from unpaid bills I blew off when I was younger. I’m trying to clean that up by putting a little toward those when I can. I save for retirement through my 401(k) at my company, but I also try to save on my own with a separate account. My biggest financial concerns are general monthly expenses, like cell-phone bills, utilities and groceries. There are three of us on my family plan, but my youngest daughter will need a phone next fall, because her older sister won’t be at school with her. Groceries are a killer, but I do have strategies to offset that. I shop only twice a month and buy in bulk at BJ’s Wholesale Club, or I’ll go to the Walmart Supercenter because they’re cheaper than the supermarkets near me.

I want to teach my children the importance of being financially independent and cutting costs when it’s possible. If I were a person who smoked cigarettes and was putting money toward those every day, that would absolutely be an expense I would cut. I used to frequently eat out for lunch, but I completely stopped. I’ll use vacation days and stay in Philadelphia, but it’s been years since I’ve vacationed outside the city. My kids know that if there’s something they want and I won’t pay for it, they can put aside money and buy it themselves. It’s about saving when you can and working hard so you don’t need to depend on other people.

— As told to Marina Lamanna

» See more from our Money in Philadelphia package

First published as “Living in Philly on … $18,000” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $50,000



Growing up in Montgomery County, I remember my parents telling me, “You need to pay your bills, and you need to pay them on time, because they’ll follow you.” But it’s hard to understand the concept of credit until you need to get a place to live or a car to drive. Looking back, I wish there had been a high-school course that was mandatory, just like child development, about the ins and outs of credit.

Snapshot: Family Expenses

Home: $900/month for a rented house
Car(s): $477/month for a Nissan
Education: $0
Child care: $0
Groceries: $800/month
Dining & takeout: $160/month
Clothes, tech, other: $40/month
Vacation: $0
Savings: $500/year

I got a crash course after high school. I went off to college, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to study. After my second year, I dropped out, not thinking that when you’re not in school, your student loans kick in. My parents didn’t pay for anything, and I didn’t have scholarships or grants. Now those loans are biting me in the ass.

My boyfriend and I live out in the sticks. We don’t have Comcast or Verizon out here; we have some teeny-tiny company that I don’t remember the name of. Our major expenses are groceries, rent and car payments. Luckily, we’ve been able to avoid daycare. He works as a restaurant manager, which allows for changeable hours, and I’m able to bring my not-quite-two-year-old to my day job at a relative’s law office. When I go to my second job as a server, usually my mom or sister will look after my daughter.

Neither of us grew up endowed. He was one of nine kids raised by a single mom; I lived in a one-income middle-class household. I feel like my parents were more frugal, whereas I’m more of a spend-now-figure-it-out-later type of person. We’re still able to eat healthy. We still manage to go on vacations, even if we’re pinching the wallet. Last year we went to the beach, just the three of us, for four days. Beforehand, we packed food, to avoid eating out. And this year, I think we’re going to do a staycation, with activities like going to the zoo and swimming in relatives’ pools.

Having another baby is scary, scarier than the first one. The first one, you don’t really know what you’re getting into. This time, I know how expensive it is. They’re so little, but they have so much stuff.

If I made a few thousand more dollars, I would put half in savings, and the other half I would put toward my debt. If I could just work on my credit, I would save more month to month, because what I pay in interest because of having bad credit is part of why I’m hardly able to save anything.

With the second baby on the way, it’s about to get more complicated. But we’ll find a way. We always do. It’s kind of far away to start thinking about schools, but I considered it when we moved out to Birdsboro. Right now, anything like private school or Catholic school wouldn’t be in the budget. But who knows what could happen in five years?

— As told to Malcolm Burnley

» See more from our Money in Philadelphia package

First published as “Living in Philly on … $50,000” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $130,000



My mother didn’t come from money. Her father was a taxicab driver. Back then, in the ’50s, there were sororities in high school. My mother has always been extraordinarily beautiful, and the rich girls at her Philly-area public high school asked her to join their sorority. But she didn’t like the way they acted and declined. For prom, she wore a borrowed dress from a wealthier friend.

I was more fortunate from a money perspective. My father passed away when I was five and left me a nest egg to do practically anything that I desired. I went to overnight camp. I pursued the performing arts. I went to private school. At the same time, I had friends who would go out shopping and buy a $100 pair of jeans, and if I had done that, my mother, who worked two jobs, would have asked, “What, are you nuts?” Life was comfortable, not cushy.

Snapshot: Family Expenses

Home: $1,940/month for a $425,000 home
Car(s): $0 Volvo paid off
Education: $0 Children attend charter school
Child care: $16,000/year for extracurriculars and camp
Groceries: $600/month
Dining & takeout: $400/month
Clothes, tech, other: $300/month
Vacation: $0
Savings: $2,000/year

When we moved to Center City from the Main Line when I was 16, my grandmother moved in with us. So it was three generations of women, each with different money experiences, all in the same household. When I applied to a private performing-arts high school, I got a scholarship for all four years. It was from a fund for girls of single mothers whose fathers had died. And with the money my father left me, I was able to graduate from Temple without student loans.

Today, I’m raising two daughters — a 10-year-old and a seven-year-old — in Center City while working as an independent contractor. I’m a rental agent, and my husband works full-time in the business world. At first when you have kids, you’re not thinking about college. You’re just trying to get through the day — diapers, crying, etc. But a few years ago, I started setting aside a little bit each month for them — probably not enough to pay for college, but it’s growing steadily. I’m lucky to have a wealthy relative who’s been donating to their college fund as well.

We don’t give our daughters any allowances, but they have a good grasp on money. The four of us have never been on a vacation together. Instead, the money has gone toward sending the girls to the best schools and summer camps. In fact, this year they’re both going to the same camp that I did as a preteen.

When my husband and I met, he was a personal trainer and I was a teacher. We have more financial stability now, but if I have a few slow months at work, I worry. Our car is paid off, so our biggest monthly expenses are the mortgage, health insurance and groceries — food and shelter, really. We’ve recently started to think about retirement. I just opened a 401(k) through the bank. I don’t want to be waiting tables when I’m 70.

— As told to Malcolm Burnley

» See more from our Money in Philadelphia package

First published as “Living in Philly on … $130,000” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $1,000,000+



My husband and I come from very different backgrounds, money-wise. Both of my parents came from large farming families. Where I grew up, hard work is paramount — my grandfather was still on his tractor the year he passed away, at 92 — and we understand the value of a dollar. Neither of my parents went to college, but they worked tirelessly and put in overtime to be able to help me financially; they paid my college and grad-school tuition and helped me with a down payment on my first house.

My husband comes from a very wealthy family who have long worked in the financial industry. He always knew he’d join the family business. It was an amazing upbringing, but the stark dissimilarities in our backgrounds definitely gave us pretty different ideas about money. It’s something we butt heads about, but overall, we balance each other out well.

Snapshot: Family Expenses

Home: $0 Mortgage paid off on a $1.1 million rowhome
Car(s): $0 No expenses on a BMW
Education: $65,000/year for two private-school tuitions
Child care: $2,000/month for a part-time nanny
Groceries: $300/week
Dining & takeout: $1,000/week
Clothes, tech, other: $2,500/month
Vacation: $75,000/year
Savings: $0 More about money management than savings

When you make millions and have large trust funds — and still get gifts from your in-laws on top of that — there aren’t a lot of money-related stresses in your life. We don’t have debt and don’t have to worry about saving for retirement or putting money away for our kids’ college educations. The most stressful part of having a lot of money is knowing how to properly preserve it. You want to make sure you’re making smart investments and leaving enough for your children and their children. Even though my husband came from great wealth, his family never talked about financial decisions with him, and I didn’t have any tools because I don’t come from money, so it’s been a learning process for us.

The biggest money mistake we’ve made was investing with friends. When you have money, everyone wants to invest it for you. We would never work with a friend again. We’ve realized that in order to get the most out of our assets, it’s important to stay on top of our financial planners; otherwise, we don’t get the best service and aren’t in the forefront of their minds when opportunities come. One of the things we’ve started doing more recently is talking about money with friends who are in similar financial situations. That’s given us tools and tips to use moving forward.

Even though we have plenty of money, we don’t just go buy luxury items on a whim. I don’t feel comfortable waltzing into Gucci and buying a dress, for example. We’ve never had to cut back on spending, but we try to be frugal with buying. We spend the majority of our money on our kids’ educations (we chose to put them in private schools, and the tuition is crazy-expensive) and vacations (we go to Disney at least once a year and do a bunch of other trips each year). Our biggest splurges are jewelry and watches.

The best thing the money has afforded me is that I can have time to enjoy my kids. I quit my job a while back; now, 95 percent of my time is dedicated to my children. I can’t tell you what a gift that is. I want to teach them to understand the value of a dollar and to be good people. I also want them to know more than we did; we want them to fully understand how to invest, save, spend wisely and preserve their fortune. We do spoil them on Christmas and for birthdays, but we make them save their allowance money, which they get for doing chores, to pay for their own toys and treats.

I’ll probably never go back to work, but my husband won’t be able to retire anytime soon, because he works for a family business and needs to be present to keep his footing there. Would our lives be better with even more money? Well, that’s tough, because whose wouldn’t? I’d love to own a private jet and throw the kids in and travel to Milan any old day, or walk into Gucci and buy 10 dresses without having to think about it. It’s all so relative.

— As told to Nicole Scott

» See more from our Money in Philadelphia package

First published as “Living in Philly on … $1,000,000+” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

The 30 Top-Paying Jobs in Philadelphia Earning Over $100K

Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

Illustration by Davide Bonazzi

What are the best-paying jobs in the Philly region right now? Exactly how much are lawyers raking in these days? Your kid’s orthodontist? Your CEO? Who’s due for a raise, what’s the common man making, and what jobs will be worth the most in the next decade? Here, answers to those questions … and more.

Philadelphia’s Top-Paying Jobs*

1. Anesthesiologists: $268,920
Medicine in general is a good bet as far as salaries go. Ten of the 20 highest-paying jobs in the region in 2016 were in the medical field. (That’s not counting dentistry, which also makes a showing.) The breakdown, at a glance:

Ob-gyns: $224,070
Surgeons: $220,170
Family docs and general practitioners: $207,000
Pediatricians: $189,300
Nurse anesthetists: $180,230
Psychiatrists: $169,930
Physicians and other surgeons, all: $166,150
Internists, general: $164,670
Optometrists: $127,680

2. Orthodontists: $242,310
Followed closely by oral and maxillofacial surgeons at $192,460.

3. CEOs $225,090
Of course, this is chump change compared to what some CEOs in Philadelphia make.

4. Dentists, general: $173,910
Dentists in all other specialties average out at $151,560.

5. Natural sciences managers: $167,430
The higher-ups in pharmaceutical and science firms do well, but this category also includes management jobs in math, statistics, and research and development in the sciences.

6. Financial managers: $159,380
Our region is the fifth-top-paying metro area in the nation for these jobs, which include everything from securities and commodity contracts intermediation ($191,180) to agents for artists and athletes ($186,550).

7. Sales managers: $158,890

8. Marketing managers: $156,550

9. Computer and information systems managers: $153,690

10. Architectural and engineering managers: $153,130

11. Human resources managers: $145,440
And compensation and benefits managers: $141,880

12. General and operations managers: $141,230

13. Lawyers: $137,810
Good news for law students: Entry-level salaries are on the rise after a years-long standstill. Last August, several of the city’s high-profile firms hiked first-year salaries, which now range from $160,000 to $180,000.

14. PR and fund-raising managers: $132,690
The local industries with the highest concentrations of PR and fund-raising managers:

Grant-making and -giving services: $109,760
Advertising and PR: $153,710
Social advocacy organizations: $107,920
Business, professional, political, labor and similar organizations: $115,330

15. Personal financial advisers: $131,020

16. Construction managers: $130,940
New Jersey and Pennsylvania both rank among the highest-paying states for construction management jobs; Philadelphia is among the highest-paying metro areas in the country.

17. Petroleum engineers: $130,470

18. College law professors: $127,570
Law profs are followed closely by agricultural science post-secondary teachers at $126,620.

19. Veterinarians: $127,560

20. Advertising and promotions managers: $127,130

21. Training and development managers: $125,840

22. Purchasing managers: $124,520

23. Physicists: $123,040

24. Actuaries: $122,520

25. Podiatrists: $120,770

26. Industrial production managers: $118,310

27. Pharmacists: $117,550

28. Computer network architects: $116,570
Followed closely by computer and information research scientists at $116,480.

29. Education administration, postsecondary: $114,960
One notable outlier: Penn prez Amy Gutmann pulled in $3,333,878 in salary for the 2014/’15 school year — she’s the second-highest-paid president of an Ivy League school, after Columbia’s prez.

30. Transportation, storage and distribution managers: $114,740

*Salaries are the mean annual wage.

The Most Common Jobs in Philadelphia

A ranking of popular local professions … and what they pay.

1. Retail salesperson: $26,820
2. Cashier: $21,070
3. Registered nurse: $76,460
4. Office clerk, general: $33,650
5. Food prep and service: $19,670
6. Customer service reps: $37,440
7. Secretaries and assistants: $37,880
8. Laborers and movers: $30,780
9. Servers: $21,720
10. Janitors: $28,440

The Jobs of the Future

Jobs expert Judith M. Von Seldeneck — chairman of Diversified Search executive search firm — predicts where the demand (and cash) will be over the next decade.

1. Financial Services and Insurance
“Generally, professional and business services jobs have shown the most growth in the region over the past five years, and health and education have shown the second-highest growth, so it would be likely this trend would continue, specifically in several industry areas. I think there will be demand for informatics and big-data analysts, actuaries and Medicare consultants on the insurance side of health care, due to the increased changes in health care and our aging population.”

2. Health Care
“According to [consulting firm] McKinsey, the majority of private-equity investment in the health-care sector is in technology. As a result, there will be major innovation in the sector, and this region is really a health-care hub. Also, no matter what ultimately happens to the Affordable Care Act, there is truth in the old axiom that wherever turmoil and change occur, there are opportunities — particularly for organizations that must change the way they reach their audiences.We’ll likely see an increase in demand for chief marketing officers in all health-care sectors. And with the bulk of the baby boomers still under 65, services related to serving an aging population are also going to be big growth centers: physical rehab, pharmacists, nursing. Home health care will be one of the fastest-growing areas.”

3. Technology
“With the growth in technology, which shows no signs of abating, will come parallel growth in technology support — most specifically in the growing field of cybersecurity. There is no company in this region that does not need cybersecurity, and good cyber-security. The need is only going to grow as hackers develop more and more sophisticated methods of attack.”

4. Real Estate
“Count the cranes.”

Data for jobs and mean annual wages comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 report. The region is defined as the following counties: Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Montgomery and Delaware, as well as Burlington, Camden, Gloucester and Salem counties in New Jersey and Cecil and New Castle counties in Delaware.

» See more from our Money in Philadelphia package

Published as “The State of Our Salaries” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Money in Philadelphia: How We Make It — and Spend It — in 2017

Illustration by Mike McQuade

Illustration by Mike McQuade

As the American economy (the world!) has changed over the past few decades — what with the recession, the millennials, a tech boom, the Uber effect and so on — our own personal economies have transformed right along with it. Pretty much everything having to do with money — how we’re making it, how we’re spending it, how we’re saving it (or not), even how we think about it — has changed. Well, except for this: We still want to know about other people’s money; we still want more of our own; and, for better and worse, it still makes the world go ’round. (Right, President Trump?)

So here, we take a wide-lensed look at the current state of cash in Philadelphia, from the jobs that are bringing it, to the people who are making it, to the worries that are giving us ulcers … and everything else affecting our bottom lines in 2017. And yes, we also sneak a peek at the neighbor’s bank account. (How did he afford that Lexus?) — Edited by Christine Speer Lejeune

The 30 Top-Paying Jobs in Philadelphia Earning Over $100K

What are the best-paying jobs in the Philly region right now? Exactly how much are lawyers raking in these days? Your kid’s orthodontist? Your CEO? Who’s due for a raise, what’s the common man making, and what jobs will be worth the most in the next decade? Here, answers to those questions … and more. Read more »

From Jim Kenney to Brian Roberts: What Philly’s Biggest Names Make Each Year

In case there was ever any doubt, yes, it pays to be a union boss in this town. Here’s a look at the annual compensation (including, in some cases, bonuses and perks) of other Philly bosses, ballers, players — and a few regular Joes. Read more »

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $1,000,000+

A mother of two, 43, lives in Center City  with her husband, who’s in finance. Read more »

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $130,000

A rental agent, 47, is married with two kids in a dual-earner household in Center City. Read more »

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $50,000

A 28-year-old works at a law firm and moonlights as a waitress while raising a toddler (with another on the way) in a dual-income Berks County home. Read more »

What It’s Like to Live in Philly on $18,000

An administrative coordinator, 41, is a single parent raising three children in South Philly. Read more »

The New Frugality: Inside Philly’s Buy Nothing Movement

When buying nothing is everything. Read more »

6 Philly Finance Experts Share Their Best Money Advice

Fresh ways to build your wealth in 2017, from expert money managers. Read more »

Boomers vs. Millennials: How Differently Do They View Money?

We found one of each and asked them. Read more »

Now and Then: A Snapshot of Philly’s Finances

How do the spending habits of today’s Philadelphians compare to those of previous generations? Here, a snapshot of where our money has gone and is going … as well as a look at how we compare to the rest of the country. Read more »

First published as “Money in Philly” in the April 2017 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

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