A Week In New York City On A $76,670 Salary

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This week: a doctor who makes $76,670 per year and spends it on Trident gum and her medical license renewal.
Occupation: Doctor (Pediatric Gastroenterology Fellow)
Industry: Medicine
Age: 32
Location: New York, NY (UES)
Salary: $76,670
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,614.53
Moonlighting: $1,200, for one weekend/month. I work two weekends each month (one for my fellowship, and one for moonlighting doing medical work) to supplement my salary. (I withhold more taxes from my fellowship salary in order to cover the moonlighting wages.)
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Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,950 for my one-bedroom, third-floor walk-up with a major mouse and cockroach problem.
Loans: $715 (I'm on an income-based loan repayment schedule with the promise of 10-year loan forgiveness.)
Health Insurance: $7 for long-term disability insurance. Health insurance is considered fringe on top of our salary and is not deducted from my salary.
Savings & Retirement: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Membership (Equinox All-Access): $210
Cell Phone: $0. I'm still on my parents' plan.
Netflix: $7.99
Utilities & Internet: ~$80
Trident Gum: $30/month for 36 packs from Amazon
K-Cups: $14.99 for 24
Prime Pantry: ~$36 for seven boxes of MiniWheats and three cases of Diet Coke every 1/1.5 months.
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5:23 a.m. — It is difficult to drag myself out of bed on Monday. I pack my backpack with work clothes and a Diet Coke to drink later. When I get downstairs, I realize that I forgot my hospital ID behind, so I run back up the three flights to my apartment to grab it.

5:50 a.m. — Squeak into Equinox, just in time for the 6 a.m. spin class.

7:30 a.m. — Walking to work from the gym in my flip-flops; some California habits die hard. I already know the perfect spot on my walk to pre-order my Starbucks on the app so my coffee will be ready when I get there. (My mom and my boyfriend's mom regularly send me Starbucks gift cards that I use to refill my Starbucks card, otherwise, I definitely wouldn't splurge on a $5 Flat White.) I pick up my coffee and walk into our 8 a.m. pathology conference exactly on time. It took me a year in NYC, but I finally figured how to budget for elevator times.

9 a.m. — The clinic is super rushed. I stress-drink the Diet Coke I packed because our support staff is MIA and I start running around like a crazy person, weighing naked babies and trying to fix our computers and printers, which all seem to be on the fritz. The resources allocated to the fellows' clinics in New York is horrifying. (Our patients lack fancy insurance.) I also chain-chew some of the Trident gum I get delivered monthly from Amazon. I can go through one, one-and-a-half packs per day, depending on how stressed I am.

1 p.m. — I generally don't eat at work. Sometimes I take some graham crackers and peanut butter from the hospital floor and snack on those, but the program I am in now does not give us any food money, and the food in the hospital is too expensive (and gross). As a point of comparison, my residency in California gave me a few thousand dollars a year for food. I tried packing ahead in my first year, but NYC hospitals tend not to budget space for doctors to store their things, so my lunch was often stolen, thrown out, or went uneaten due to my lack of time to eat it. I make myself a Keurig coffee (a present from my mom after my first Christmas in New York) while getting prior authorizations, working on a presentation, and returning patient phone calls. I buy the pods in bulk.

5 p.m. — Our fellow office is very “open concept,” so people are always super loud. When 5 p.m. hits, I walk back to Equinox and sit in their quiet sitting area to work on my research while I wait for the for 7:30 p.m. spin and 8:15 p.m. yoga classes to begin. I am banking a second spin now, since I might miss a day later this week because I am on call. (I always do at least seven a week.) Being on call means that for one week, 24 hours a day, I'll get patient phone calls and may be recalled back to the hospital to do an emergency procedure. I did this for 19 weeks in my first year but this year is better — only one week a month.

9:30 p.m. — One patient was super needy and it took me a bit longer to assuage them. Now I'm back home and off the phone, and can finally have some food. I pour a bowl of cereal that I order on a monthly basis from Prime Pantry. NYC cereal is too expensive. I was shocked when I first moved her to see a box of MiniWheats going for $6 or $7 at the corner grocery store, and Amazon is a lifesaver. I watch the new season of Master of None's and eat, before passing out at 10:30.

Daily Total: $0
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5:40 a.m. — Wake-up time. I pack my bag for work (Diet Coke, a new pack of gum, shoes), and head out.

6:18 a.m. — Arrive at Equinox for the Pursuit spin class. I'm the #1 lady in the class (obvi), but there is a guy I can't seem to best. One day... Class gets out at 7:25. I have a short timeline on Tuesdays: shower in 10 minutes and then run to work and arrive by 7:50 for our first 8 a.m. procedure.

8 a.m. — I drink my Diet Coke in between the first and second procedures. One of the friendlier nurses says that an attending physician brought pizza for them and magnanimously offers me a slice. I snag one; it is ice cold and the nurses are territorial about their microwave, but it's free. I grab a glass of tepid water from the patient water stand before my attending starts looking for me to help them with the computer.

4 p.m. — I go and get an infusion medication that I need to take on a monthly basis, and take a couple of the granola bars that they provide. I'll stash them in my desk. I don't pay a co-pay for this with my insurance. One of the reasons I went into the relatively unforgiving field of medicine is to have a reliable job with good insurance.

6:45 p.m. — Home from work and trying to clean out my pantry since I'll be moving in with my boyfriend in a few months. I find some pasta I've had since I moved into my apartment and make a bootleg cacio e pepe with frozen Mexican cheese. #Classy

7:30 p.m. — Pack all my laundry into my suitcase, drag it down three flights, across one avenue and three blocks, and do my laundry at a 24-hour laundromat while fielding patient phone calls. After it's done, I drag it back up those three flights and hang up my gym clothes painstakingly. People have gifted me a lot of Lululemon over the years. I could wear it twice a day for about a month and a half, but it does require special laundry care. I tried to do a drop-off/pick-up service when I first moved to NYC, but they told me I had too many items that needed to air dry. $20

Daily Total: $20
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6 a.m.— Equinox spin class. The instructor for this class is always so peppy and it is infectious. My Equinox membership might seem like an insane splurge, but since I go every day, I actually pay slightly less than $4 per class. Plus, since I always shower here, I don't buy shampoo, conditioner, or lotion — and I use the waiting area as an adjunct office. The gym became my home-away-from-home when I first moved to NYC from LA, and working out is a healthy way to free myself from work frustrations. (My resting heart rate is insane.)

7:30 a.m. — So glad my clinic doesn't start until 9 today. I wand my hair this morning and get lots of compliments on it later. I also eat cereal and make myself a pour over coffee at home.

9 a.m. — Clinic is a 10-minute walk from the main hospital. I grab a Starbucks Flat White on the way back to the office. (I still have hundreds of dollars in Starbucks gift card money to cover it.)

12 p.m. — Work. Work. Work. I make another Keurig coffee. I'm heavily caffeinated to help me make it through our late-night conference tonight.

7:30 p.m. — I get home and decide to make another round of cacio e pepe, adding frozen peas into this mix this time. I watch another episode of Master of None before passing out early. Later, I get a few patient calls and texts from residents overnight, so I'm glad for the extra hour or two of sleep.

Daily Total: $0
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6 a.m. — I wake up, pack my bag, and head out to spin. Another Pursuit class this morning; the guy I am trying to beat isn't in, so I come in #1. Morning classes are less likely to be interrupted by patient phone calls since most people are still asleep, so I've become a morning class convert.

8 a.m. — Starbucks again on the way to work, followed by a morning full of procedures.

12 p.m. — My Diet Coke helps me make it through the afternoon clinic.

5 p.m. — I have to get re-certified for PALS (Pediatric Advanced Life Support) every two years, and I'm taking a class tonight. I was originally supposed to go somewhere with my boyfriend, but I canceled it in order to make it. I have taken this course twice before in residency, but my current program doesn't pay for it. If you can't make the one course per year that's given to residents, you're obligated to pay a few hundred dollars out of pocket. They do order pizza for us, however, and I snag a slice. I rub against someone else's plate and get pizza all over my white blazer. I'll pay for dry cleaning later.

7:30 p.m. — The PALS course reminded me that I need to renew my NY medical license, which is also on a two-year renewal schedule. This license will only cover me for 1.5 years due to a quirk in the NY License Renewal System, which is changing its schedule. $458

8 p.m. — I also need to renew my DEA license in a few months, and I start to have a little bit of a breakdown about my budget. I call my mom and cry about my choice to be a doctor in NYC. She says she'll put $5,000 in my account to take some of the pressure off.

9 p.m. — A patient phone call interrupts the call with my mom; I have to send patient to ED. I'm up all night talking to the patient, the attending, the ED doctor, and the residents who are in the hospital overnight. I drink a pour over coffee throughout.

Daily Total: $458
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5:15 a.m. — The only gym class on Friday that fits in my schedule is the one at 6 a.m., so I suck it up and get ready to go, despite feeling exhausted. As I walk into spin, I continue writing an email on my phone about last night's events to the fellow who will be on during the day.

7:30 a.m. — I'm hungry and so tired of cereal, so I stop for a smoothie at Juice Press on my way to work. $8.71

8 a.m. — There is food at Grand Rounds! I grab a mini-muffin and coffee. I pass the call phone off to the next fellow on call, since I worked the prior weekend. (That still doesn't mean call is over because I'll be on call this weekend at the UES pediatric practice where I moonlight to make a little extra money.)

1 p.m. — I attend a lecture. The topic is pretty boring and not that relevant to my practice, but they sometimes have good, free lunches. Today is no exception. I snag a pita sandwich and a Diet Coke.

6:30 p.m. — I pack a weekend bag to bring to my boyfriend's. I have to pack for a lot of eventualities since I am never sure what moonlighting will bring, so I throw in a few changes of gym clothes, one cute dress for dinner, and a couple of office-appropriate outfits. I take the subway down to boyfriend's apt in the West Village carrying the super-heavy bag; it's not the nicest commute. $2.75

8 p.m. — My boyfriend and I are both hungry. He wants to try an Italian place we've never been to before, but I'm sort of ho-hum given all my cacio e pepe. Still, he's so excited about it and we decide to go. He orders a pizza, I get a pasta, and we split the bill evenly. $44.02

10 p.m. — We pass out early. Aside from one call from a patient at 10:45 p.m. that wakes me up, it is an otherwise call-less Friday night. Amazing!

Daily Total: $55.48
6 of 8
6 a.m. — There are a couple of patient phone calls in the early morning, but when I check the nursery list for my moonlighting practice, there are no babies! No need to head uptown to see any babies in the nursery, so I'm free to go to a spin class with my boyfriend. I bought him shoes for our anniversary, and thankfully he is a trooper about coming with me.

11:30 a.m. — Brunch with boyfriend at delicious French place in the West Village. Some calls from patients start to build up, and I schedule a few office visits in the afternoon. We split our meal evenly again. $35.94

2 p.m. — I head take the subway uptown to the practice's office to see a couple of patients and check on throat cultures. I have a free cupcake perk that is about to expire at Sprinkles, so I pick it up and buy an extra one for my boyfriend and take the train back downtown. $9.48

5 p.m. — Back at boyfriend's. While we eat the cupcakes, he says he needs to go get a few things at REI for our upcoming trip to Machu Picchu, which was a present from his family to us for Christmas. We walk over to the SoHo REI.

6 p.m. — My Boyfriend finds a headlight and pants. I don't get anything because I think I can make do with the Lululemon clothes I already have and the hiking boots my mom got me for Easter. He loves gear and tries to convince me that I also need a headlight. I tell him I'll just walk behind him when his is on!

9:15 p.m. — We eat dinner at Takashi, an amazing Yakiniku restaurant in the West Village that we both adore. It's expensive, but we leave in a happy food coma; we split again. $96.03

Daily Total: $141.45
7 of 8
7 a.m. — I'm notified by our call service that a baby was born. I change my class at Equinox to one in the afternoon, since I won't be able to go in the morning now. I head out of the door at 8 a.m. with my weekender bag and give one last kiss to my boyfriend. It will be nice when we live together and I don't always have to pack something. I head back uptown to see the new baby, who is adorable. $2.75

10 a.m. — Starbucks on the walk back home. I actually rack up a free drink using Starbucks rewards! When I get home, I work on a spreadsheet of new apartment prospects I like that was compiled by our broker, who is one of my boyfriend's high-school friends. Apparently, we'll still have to pay a broker fee. A lot of my savings account was eaten by my initial broker fee when I moved to NYC, and my fellowship program doesn't pay for any of the relocation costs associated with a cross-country move. That's in the past, I guess. Now, I put extra exclamation points by "in-unit washer/dryer" in the spreadsheet. The people on HGTV don't swoon over W/Ds nearly enough.

12 p.m. — Back in the office to see a few patients. $2.75

2 p.m. — Grab a smoothie from Juice Generation as I walk to Anthropologie. $8.66

3 p.m. — I buy a bridesmaid dress at BHLDN for a friend's wedding in the fall. I don't get the greatest service at Anthro, but I make the best of it and fetch the gowns I need on my own. After, I head off to my 4 p.m. spin class. $316.52

6 p.m. — I'm back at home and tidying up my apartment since the broker company is coming to take pictures of it on Monday. Also, I get tons of phone calls on Sunday evenings when I'm moonlighting because parents get their weekend reports from their nannies and have questions, so I like to be at home. I type an email of the weekend events to the doctors in the practice as the calls continue to come in.

Daily Total: $330.68
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