A Week In Hong Kong On An $84,504 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a manager in Hong Kong who makes $84,504 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a food bowl for her new kitten.
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Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.
Occupation: Manager
Industry: Consulting
Age: 29
Location: Hong Kong
Salary: $84,504
Paycheck (Monthly): $7,042
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,408
Loan Payments: None
All Other Monthly Expenses
Health Insurance: $0 — covered by my firm
Tax: 2016/17 bill $1,636, which I paid in full. Taxes in Hong Kong are low, and I make sure I take advantage of all eligible deductions.
MPF (Retirement) Contributions: 5%/month and the firm matches
Credit Card: $1,280/month. This is a regular payment that I make to cover the costs on my AmEx. Last month was a hefty bill since I paid for my personal training upfront, but I will pay this off in three installments.
Spotify: $11. I pay for myself, my fiancé, and three of my friends.
Netflix: $0. My fiancé pays for us.
Internet: $38. I pay for us.
Mobile: $14
Water: ~$25 every quarter, split 50/50
Gas: ~$102 every quarter, split 50/50.
Electricity: ~$256 every quarter, split 50/50. Our usage is way up now because it's summer.
Cleaner: $0. My fiancé pays for our cleaner, who comes once a week.
Gym Membership: $164/month for gym and yoga
Personal Training: $87 for personal training, three times per week
1 of 8
6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I snooze for a bit. My fiancé is already up and rummaging around outside. I give him a kiss, and he heads out to his training session. I have a little bit of time before I absolutely have to leave the house. I decided to put away last night's dishes and the laundry.

6:30 a.m. — I spent Sunday afternoon aggressively meal-prepping, so I start by grabbing Tupperware for breakfast (overnight oats in almond milk with honey and goji berries), lunch (the other half of a massive chicken Cobb salad I couldn't finish at lunch yesterday, and a spinach frittata square), and snacks (banana and apple). I put these all into my work bag, grab my sports bag, and head out to yoga.

6:55 a.m. — I take the MTR (Hong Kong's equivalent to the subway, tube, MTA etc.) and get to the yoga studio in the nick of time. I pay a monthly membership fee for my gym that gives me unlimited access to gyms and yoga studios across Hong Kong. I love the convenience — there are locations everywhere — but the downside is that everyone else does, too, so I have to be diligent about pre-booking classes. Spontaneously heading to a yoga class on the weekend is a pipe dream. $0.65

8 a.m. — Hot hatha today. It's so hot. I'm so sweaty. I swim out of the studio and hit the showers.

8:30 a.m. — Showered, face on, work clothes on. Say bye to the front desk and make my way to the office.

8:45 a.m. — In the office. It's a slow start this morning as the floor is really empty. Fill up my water bottle and make a thermos of green and jasmine tea before settling at my desk to get the day started. I eat my breakfast while I go through my emails, check my calendar for the week, and make a to-do list. BBC Radio 1Xtra held a Jay-Z listening party last Friday. (Why no love for Spotify, Jay-Z?). I pop that on, and crack on with work.

10:15 a.m. — Eat my banana. The Jay-Z album was good, but I'm about to get real deep into end-of-year review preparation (a.k.a., the unavoidable admin of working in a big firm), so I stick on BBC Radio 1 live and it's Monki! I love her "Lights On" sessions.

11:25 a.m. — Snack on Chinese preserved plums while listening to Bonobo and running through a list of points I'd like to make in a meeting later today. This meeting has been a long time coming for me. I am excited and nervous, since it is the culmination of nearly a year of me fighting for the next step in my career. Side note: The plums are so salty and sour. YUM. Fill up my water bottle.

12:35 p.m. — Meeting went awesome. My transfer has been approved and I'll be speaking with HR this afternoon to discuss logistics. Celebrate with lunch in a meeting room with a friend who works upstairs. He gets me a green pea soup from Pret which is great because my salad is a day old and making me sad. I hate wasting food, though, so down the hatch it goes. $4.48

3:30 p.m. — Snack on an apple while I figure out my next step progressing a project that I, one, have never done before, and two, require technical expertise from people I've never worked with/knew existed in our firm. Fingers crossed.

4:15 p.m. — I reached out to someone smarter and more experienced than me to guide me through the process. He agrees to help, which is great, so I jump onto a conference call to learn and help where I can. My iHerb order arrives ($52.81); my fiancé wanted ZMA supplements, and I ordered herbs and salted trail mix for us.

4:45 p.m. — Eat my frittata square and reply to Cathay Pacific about redeeming a round-trip flight to Koh Samui, Thailand on my Asia Miles for my upcoming hen do. It will be a partner flight on Bangkok Airways, which makes the redemption process more complicated, but I'll jump through the hoops to get this flight!

5:45 p.m. — Ugh. Still seventh on the waitlist for yoga at 6 p.m. this evening. I give up and head home on the tram. $0.29

7:30 p.m. — Dinner is spinach salad with homemade Vietnamese meatballs (yay, food prep!) and soy- and mirin-roasted tofu. My fiancé and I catch up and are frequently interrupted by our cat who is feeling particularly fearless tonight; she lunges for our bowls over and over again. Fiancé flicks some water at her and she saunters off to the side. Salad is delicious.

8:30 p.m. — The cleaner is coming tomorrow so we leave the dishes to the side and finish up some work.

10 p.m. — We watched a few episodes of The West Wing, I snack on roasted seaweed (Tao Kae Noi is bomb dot com), and we head to bed.

Daily Total: $5.42
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2 of 8
5:45 a.m. — My fiancé is out of bed for his training session. He leaves the bedroom door open so the cat wanders in and starts meowing for food. I give her a little cuddle and then my fiancé takes her outside to be fed. Back to sleep.

6:45 a.m. — I'm up! Throw on gym gear, frown at my volcanic chin pimple, pack my food and work bags, and I'm out the door. Grab the tram to the boxing studio. $0.29

8:30 a.m. — I'm done. Today was grueling. I hate/love my trainer. Today, we worked on my sequences. I'm getting better at longer and longer sequences, and hopefully this means I will be able to spar with my trainer in a couple sessions' time. He picked up a pair of white boxing gloves for me last week, and I pay him back the rest today (paid half last time). $42.26

9:15 a.m. — Jump on the tram and head to work. I get to my desk and a colleague is dealing with a soy milk explosion, so I help her out by giving her all of the tissues. Fill my water bottle, sit down and eat my banana and frittata square while reading through my emails. I think today is going to be a pretty light day. $0.29

10:45 a.m. — My emails lied. My office decides to go for an opportunity I found through the job portal, so I start pulling together a submission. Snack on preserved plums, refill my water bottle, and make a thermos of green and jasmine tea.

12:30 p.m. — Working lunch with my boss who has been at meetings all morning. We do a weekly catch up on what each of us has been working on, what's coming up, and where we need support. These are necessary because our team is very lean, so we work independently, with me covering the China/Hong Kong market. I heat up my lunchbox; today is Chinese chili with barley.

2:20 p.m. — Coffee catch-up with my career mentor. I love her. She has been a grounding source of wisdom when I can't think past my own emotions, a source of confidence when I can't see my worth, and an unwavering voice of support when I decided to pursue this next step in my career. She's also totally wired on coffee because she's been meeting clients all day, so I get myself a short drip from Starbucks and we settle in for a chat. $2.69

4:45 p.m. — Brain hurts from reading and writing in Chinese. I am forever grateful that my mum diligently taught me — a screaming and willful child — Chinese, but it always hurts my brain to switch language channels. I take a break, eat my apple, and listen to a friend as she blows off steam about two particularly bad days on a project.

6:30 p.m. — I review everything and send my last email of the day. Catch up with two partners who are back in the office, give them the good news re: my transfer, and thank them for their guidance and support. Pack up and head home on the tram to chill with the cat. $0.29

7 p.m. — Drop by the grocery store and pick up six apples and four bananas $5.24

7:30 p.m. — The house is so clean. I love our cleaner and I love having fresh sheets to sleep on. Dinner is going to be lemon and garlic-baked golden pompano fish for one. Super easy to make with foil, lemon, garlic — gas mark four for 20 minutes! While I wait for dinner to be ready, I put on an episode of Will & Grace (can't wait for the reboot!) and a mud mask to dry out this pimple.

8 p.m. — My cat cuddles for five seconds and then she's over it. I'm feeling a little blue because I've been pretty flaky with friends and family recently. Work has taken over my life, and I went through a pretty bad period where I drank every day to cope with the stress. To avoid this situation, I've become much less social. I let myself wallow for a bit before picking up my phone and making plans for the rest of this week.

10 p.m. — My fiancé is home from squash. We catch up, hang out, and head to bed.

Daily Total: $51.06
3 of 8
6 a.m. — Wake up and try to find an earplug my fiancé lost during the night. If we don't find it, the cat will. (The last time she found two ear plugs, she half-ate them and then vomited both up.) I don't find the earplug, so I lock the bedroom door as a quick fix.

6:30 a.m. — On the tram to yoga with my work bag (filled with food) and gym bag (filled with products, work clothes, and a second yoga kit as I might practice again tonight). $0.29

8 a.m. — Finished class! It was a vinyasa class that finished with inversions, so I practiced my teddy bear and tripod headstands. Haven't done those in a while and I'm really pleased that I can still go into both positions without much fear.

8:30 a.m. — In the office eating my breakfast of overnight oats, almond milk, goji berries, and chia seeds. Fill up a bottle of water and make a thermos of green and jasmine tea. My boss is very excited about her big holidays starting tomorrow, so we chat for a bit.

10:15 a.m. — The day is getting away from me but I confirm plans to meet a friend I haven't seen in ages tonight. No matter how bad today goes, I know I'll have something fun to look forward to.

11 a.m. — On a conference call briefing a team of partners for an upcoming client meeting. Finish running through my section and start snacking on savory trail mix. I forget to mute the call, so everyone can hear me chomping away. Awkward.

12:30 p.m. — My lunch plans fell through, so I have a quick lunch at my desk of homemade grilled pork neck and rice noodle salad. (I read Refinery29 and LaineyGossip as I eat.) It's not the lunch I envisioned, but it's a good 30-minute break for my brain.

4:06 p.m. — Get out of a meeting. My transfer is approved for the end of this month but my current partners have requested that I still work for them after August to get a project across the finish line. The tentative end date is September, and I stress chew gum because I do not see how that will be feasible.

5 p.m. — My boss wants to have a drink. Bye, yoga and hello, sauvignon blanc. I drink way more wine than I intended. Boss treats.

7:30 p.m. — Jump on a tram to meet my friend. $0.29

8:30 p.m. — I have one Aperol spritz with my friend and then decide to call it a night. I pay for my Aperol and jump in a taxi home. $18.95

9 p.m. — Text the fiancé to see where he is and if he's had dinner. Pick up sushi from the grocery store. $15.11

10 p.m. — I have a drunk catch-up with my fiancé while stuffing my face with sushi. So tired. So full. PTFO.

Daily Total: $34.64
4 of 8
7 a.m. — Wake up feeling a little groggy. I make myself a French press coffee and cuddle with the cat.

8:30 a.m. — Finally leaving the house. I took my time doing my hair and makeup today while catching up with the fiancé. I carry a small bag today that just about fits my lunchbox of Chinese chili, so I have to carry my green apple by hand. Take the tram and it's such a beautiful day. Enjoy the breeze in my hair. $0.29

9 a.m. — In the office. Headphones on and it's time to crack on with work. I review materials for client growth strategies, delegate translation work to a couple of associates, and catch up with a colleague who is having a bit of a hard time.

11:30 a.m. — Eat my apple. It's delicious. Make mental note to buy more green apples.

12 p.m. — Confirm my flights to Koh Samui, pay the airport tax, and then forward my e-Ticket to the girls so they can book their tickets as well. Hen do is shaping up and I'm super excited! $56.34

12:30 p.m. — My Charlotte Tilbury order arrives from Beautylish. I'm a first-time user and very impressed. (I am a sucker for handwritten thank-you cards.) I got a Pillow Talk Lip Cheat lip liner (the color is like my lips but better), and an Instant Look In A Palette ($96.64).

1 p.m. — Desk lunch while paying our utility bills and chatting with a friend on the internal chat system who just transferred to the Melbourne office.

4 p.m. — Go for coffee with another colleague who is thinking through his career options: going home or staying in Hong Kong and transferring into a different department? I refer to my own experiences and try to give him sage and objective advice. Hindsight really is 20/20 and I'm pleased at how much I have learned that I can share.

6 p.m. — Meet up with a friend whom I haven't seen in a month. We catch up on our way to the bar where we've got leaving drinks for a colleague who is moving on to greener pastures. A girlfriend takes a rain check because of a last-minute work disaster, so I stay at drinks and make new friends in the process! Bossman treats. Grab a taxi home and text my fiancé to see if he's had dinner. $6.01

9:30 p.m. — Feel peckish, so I swing by the supermarket and pick up a sashimi bowl. I get home, hang out with my fiancé, and try to bat the cat away while I eat the sashimi and half the rice. $4.23

10 p.m. — Check out the meat order he's brought home. We order all our meat from our friend because he sources organic produce. Fiancé ordered extra this time because we've got a barbecue on Saturday, and are bringing boerewors (South African sausage) and Wagyu burgers he sneaked into the meat order.

Daily Total: $66.87
5 of 8
6:30 a.m. — Wake up and pack my bag for my morning boxing session, and fruit and last lunch box of the week!

7:15 a.m. — Jump on the tram. Weather is really nice today and I get a seat by the window so listen to SZA's album. "Doves in the Wind" is my favorite song on this amazing album. $0.29

8:30 a.m. — Session done! Rolling, blocking, slipping, jabs, hooks, upper cuts, body shots, hooks. I had a lot of fun but I did spit venom a couple of times. I can't pretend that I'm happy to plank and then do jumping plank push-ups. Showered and wearing a new dress from the Victoria Beckham for Target range, I jump on the tram and head to work. $0.29

9 a.m. — In the office munching on a banana. I clear up my desk by throwing away old papers and clearing out my drawers. It feels good to be able to see more of my desk.

10 a.m. — Get a series of really foul emails from a famously grumpy partner. Despair, as it is a simple case of him forgetting to read some emails. Put on music and try to ignore.

11:30 a.m. — I head downstairs to catch up with my girlfriend who rain-checked last night. It's a good break from my inbox of anger. I buy us both a beef jerky and save mine for an afternoon snack. $3.76

12:40 p.m. — Starving. Chinese chili lunch box at my desk because the submission deadline is Monday, and I want to complete my part by 3 p.m. today.

4 p.m. — Finish up all my work and head home early. We are picking up a little kitten this evening and I am so excited! I hop on the tram home and pop in to the local pet store to buy a new bowl and a small make-shift litter tray. I did a lot of reading online on how to introduce a resident cat to a kitten, and they all recommend slow and steady introductions. We plan to keep the kitten in the bathroom. $24.09

5:30 p.m. — I'm so excited I am shaking! We're in an Uber on the way to visit the litter of kittens! $16.33

7 p.m. — New kitten collected! She's so sweet. She's a grey tabby, Scottish fold, British shorthair mix. We love her dearly. Fiancé pays the adoption fee ($243.30) and I pick up the Uber. $25.80

8 p.m. — Fiancé plays with the kitty in the bathroom, while I play with the resident cat and make a quick pasta bake dinner. Resident cat is not too pleased, but the introduction is a delicate process and patience is key.

10 p.m. — Kitty is not happy to be locked in the bathroom tonight, but it's necessary because resident cat is still agitated. This tugs at my heartstrings but it won't be safe for either of them to be in the same space tonight. We put earplugs in and head to bed.

Daily Total: $70.85
6 of 8
8 a.m. — Weekend! Wake up and feed the cat and the kitty. Play with the kitty in the bathroom for a bit and then it's time for breakfast. Fiancé heads out for a workout and hiking before our BBQ in the afternoon. I choose a more leisurely option and will meet him at our friend's house with our food and drinks.

12 p.m. — Still splitting my time between the two fur balls. Cat is still not happy. She is a timid character who does not like to have her routine disrupted. Kitty is the opposite, so this should be an interesting match-up when they are finally in the same room together.

2 p.m. — Call an Uber to our friend's house. Traffic is wank. $39.17

7:30 p.m. — It's been a lovely day catching up with friends and their babies, drinking rosé, and eating lots and lots of barbecued everything. Call an Uber to head home to the cats. I tell my fiancé I am very nervous about the state of each cat. $17.24

8 p.m. — The cats are alive! Kitty is sleep-loafing in the bathroom and Cat is weaving through fiancé's legs, purring. We drunkenly discuss whether to let Cat and Kitty meet each other in the same space. In a flash of clarity, my fiancé reminds me (and himself) that we are day drunk, so best to leave them as is. We can make the introduction sober tomorrow!

9:30 p.m. — I fall asleep on the couch. Fiancé wakes me up, makes me drink a glass of water, and sends me to bed.

Daily Total: $56.41
7 of 8
7 a.m. — I am not happy to be awake today, but I have a training session. Kiss my fiancé and haul myself out of bed. I sit on the tram and feel sorry for myself. $0.29

9 a.m. — I finish my session and feel good about it, partly from the physical exertion but mostly because I followed through and actually went to training. Overcoming my tendency to flake has been a huge challenge this year, so I like to clock little wins like this. Back on the tram! $0.29

10 a.m. — Fiancé and I head out do our weekly shop. First stop is the wet market. The wet market is like a farmers' market with fresh produce and local owners. As we've just moved to our new neighborhood, I am still building up relationships with the stall owners; it will take some time. We pick up a week's worth of vegetables (Chinese kale, choy sum, spinach, red and white onions, bell peppers, garlic, ginger, leeks, Japanese eggplants, cherry and beef tomatoes, French and long beans, carrots, potatoes, coriander, bird's eye chilies). Fiancé asks me to help him at the local butcher where we pick up pork neck. Second stop is the grocery store for cherries, green and red apples, one quarter of a watermelon, a whole chicken, kimchi, 12 large Japanese eggs, rice milk, whole canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and kidney, aduki, black, and garbanzo beans). I pay for the wet market produce and my fiancé pays for the supermarket groceries. $33

12 p.m. — Lunch time! I make a noodle soup with mung bean noodles, tofu, Chinese kale, and Korean dumplings in a pork bone broth. It's delicious. My fiancé cleans up while I play with the kitty.

1:30 p.m. — It's time: the whole family has been fed and watered, and no one is drunk. I sit on the bathroom floor with the door open, and my fiancé sits in the foyer. We are both surrounded by cat toys and treats, ready to intervene if things get too rough. Kitty makes the first move out of the bathroom but stops when she sees Cat. Cat's tail has gone rigid and bushy, which is not a good sign, but she keeps her distance. Kitty is bold and gets a little closer, but Cat is having NONE OF IT. Cat hisses and Kitty comes back into the bathroom to hide. It wasn't the dreamy beginning of a friendship we had been hoping for, but it did not result in bloodcurdling screams. Progress!

7 p.m. — I've been meal-prepping all afternoon. Next week's menu includes chicken dakdoritang (Korean chicken stew, which is spicy and sour and absolutely delicious), quinoa bowls with teriyaki chicken thighs and roasted vegetables, and mung bean noodle bowls with grilled pork neck.

8 p.m. — We have a delicious noodle bowl with grilled pork neck. My fiancé is responsible for the pork neck. He marinates it in whiskey, fish sauce, palm sugar, and oyster sauce. It is delicious.

10 p.m. — We wash up and wipe down the kitchen. We put a couple of episodes of The West Wing on while we pack our bags for an early start tomorrow morning. We both take turns playing with the kitty, and then have a have a cup of green and mint tea before we head to bed.

Daily Total: $33.58
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Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.

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