These Two Dancers Want To Retire Early – Here’s How They’ll Do It


It takes a lot of discipline to plan an early retirement. For Jeraldine Mendoza and Dylan Gutierrez, who are just 29 and 30, discipline is no problem. The pair are professional ballet dancers at the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, and if there’s one thing they know, it’s how to put in the work — whether it’s at the barre or at the kitchen table when they’re discussing their finances.

Mendoza and Gutierrez know that their on-stage dancing careers will soon come to a close and they’re saving as much of their money as they can while planning what they’ll do next. CNBC followed the couple to learn how they budgeted for the future on a combined annual income of $178,000.

Mendoza and Gutierrez have been together since 2011 and engaged since 2019, but the couple — who owns an apartment and a dog together — don’t share one bank account. Instead, they trade off expenses or split them down the middle. Money for those expenses, however, has been a little tighter in 2020. Though the couple was guaranteed a salary by the Joffrey and filed for unemployment once the season was over, they’ve been missing out on lucrative side jobs like teaching dance and dancing The Nutcracker all around the country — something they’ve done for years.

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Still, the couple is doing okay because they’re meticulous savers. Though their styles were once different — Mendoza is known as “the saver” in her friends’ group while Gutierrez says his approach to money was a little laxer before the pair met — the two are now as in sync when it comes to putting money away as they are when they’re dancing. 

In August of 2020, when CNBC analyzed the couple’s finances, Mendoza and Gutierrez’s largest financial commitments included the mortgage on their apartment — they want to pay it off as quickly as possible — and chemotherapy for their Boston terrier, Kahlua. The couple spent $2,885 on food (groceries and takeout) but made cuts elsewhere. They only spent $220 on their hobbies (skateboarding right now) and $105 on subscription services which include Apple Music and Netflix. The pair put $500 a week towards their savings.

Now, the pair is looking towards the future. Gutierrez hopes to start a production company. Mendoza is considering a career in interior design. But one thing’s for certain: The couple would like to remain in the arts for a lifetime. For them, it’s an essential part of living their best, most authentic lives.

“We don’t make a ton of money, but we do well enough to really enjoy our lives and also get to do something we love,” Gutierrez said. “And so not only do we feel the wealth of the pocket, but we feel a wealth of the mind, body and spirit through what we get to do.”

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Find out how other younger Americans like Jeraldine Mendoza and Dylan Gutierrezare are spending their money.

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