I Make $500,000 A Year — & This Is How My Salary Affected My Life

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Sometimes, we run across a Money Diary that is just too good to be true. And sometimes, we reach out to interview the author to find out a little bit more beyond their day-to-day. In Ballers, we're interviewing women who have larger-than-life salaries — about their lives, careers, and relationships. Here, we chat with a 34-year-old executive director, one-half of a couple earning $1.25 million a year.
Let's start at the beginning. What was your first salary out of college?
"My starting salary was $60,000 a year — I went to a well-known college in Los Angeles, and I was a business major. I came out working at a classic summer internship that turned into a full-time offer from my first employer."
Were you always in finance?
"Yeah, I was. My parents always said if they were going to help pay for my education I had two options: business or law, so I didn’t have a lot of flexibility. And the deal with my parents was that they would pay for three years, and I would pay for one. They wanted me to have a stake in my education."
How did you pay for the third year?
"My school had a fairly decent grant program, and then I took a few student loans out. Back then loans were a lot cheaper than they are now. Someone commented [on the diary]: Why do we have student loan debt? The answer is that my husband has a bunch of student debt, and since it has lower interest rates than anything else we have, it was better to keep it instead of paying it all off and not having money for our house."
Would you have gone into business if you didn't have to?
"I probably would have still done business. My parents owned their own business, and it can be great, but they also worked harder than anyone else I’ve seen my entire life. I saw that they had a lot of ups and downs running their own business, and I wanted to have financial security. So I went into corporate finance. I wanted to be self-sufficient, and I wanted to be able to do what I wanted to do without anyone questioning how. So that’s how I chose my major — I wanted to make a lot of money so I could enjoy my life on my own terms."
I feel like a lot of teenagers don’t think like that.
"Yeah, I’m a rare breed. But my mom worked for my dad, so she was dependent on him, and I realized for my mom, it was very restrictive. She would complain about having to ask for money or explain what she wanted to do. I always hated that, so I decided that I would always be able to take care of myself. I guess that was the more rudimentary thought that formed my ideas."