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A Week In New York, NY, On A $278,000 Joint Income

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last penny.

Today: a genetic counsellor who has a joint income of $278,000 a year and spends some of her money this week on vegan macarons.
Occupation: Genetic Counsellor
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 30
Location: New York
My Salary: $108,000 full time + $5,000 part time
Husband's Salary: $165,000 (he also receives a yearly bonus usually $20,000-$50,000)
Net Worth: $360,500 (Condo, which we own together, is worth about $1,200,000 minus mortgage of $745,000 (divided by 2); 401(k): $80,000; investment accounts: $12,000; HYSA: $41,000. My husband and I do not share finances. He probably has about $362,000 in addition (401(k): $280,000; investment accounts: $50,000; other cash on hand: $32,000.)
Debt: $745,000 remaining mortgage balance
My Paycheque Amount (biweekly): $2,500, additional $300-$500 a month for once a month per diem side job
My Husband's Paycheque (1x/month): $8,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgages: $1,574 ($4,574 total: $3,200 for mortgage and interest. My husband pays $3,000, I send him an additional $200, I pay $774 for condo HOA and $600. I also pay for all the grocery costs to offset the difference. We use the building gym every day to save on gym costs.)
Electricity: $150
Internet: $35
AMC A-List: $24
Apple Storage: $3
Phone: $130 for four lines, my husband pays for this
Metrocard: $127 (pre-tax)
Healthcare, Vision, Dental: $180 (pre-tax)
Streaming Subscriptions: $40 (we share some accounts with friends, my husband pays for his own subscriptions, health insurance, and transportation.)
Savings: $500 into investments, trickled in every week, and $1,000 in a high-interest savings account. (I should probably switch this around but I don't have the heart to see my investments shrink every week.)
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Annual Expenses:
Life Insurance: $16,800 (we split this cost)
Amazon Prime: $139 (I pay)
Homeowner's Insurance/Umbrella Coverage: $1,600 (we split this cost)
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
We never really talked about college but I always assumed I would attend one. I did ask my parents a few years ago and they said they would have been happy if I didn't attend college and pursued my hobbies instead. My brother did not attend a traditional university — he went to community college followed by trade school and my parents had absolutely no issues with it. I grew up in Canada and the cost of a good university is nowhere near as expensive as in the US. I did very well in high school and got into a prestigious university with scholarships. The total tuition was about $3,000 CAD per semester, some semesters were free when I made the Dean's Honor List. My parents paid for my college and I also had two unlimited credit cards that got paid off every month like magic. I attended grad school in the US. I sold one of the cars my parents bought me as a present to cover my living expenses while I was in school. I also had about $10,000 of savings at the time from my job. My parents continued to pay my tuition in full. I know how extremely lucky I am. The total cost of grad school tuition for two years was about $63,000 USD and I spent about $35,000 living in the US for two years. When I graduated, I had $5,000 left to my name.
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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Thinking back, I had no concept of the value of money at all. I was exceptionally out of touch with reality in my early college days. I would routinely spend thousands of dollars a month on luxury goods or eating out. My parents named me as an authorised user on their credit card (without giving me the card) when I was 16 and put my name down for some car loans and mortgage loans when I was 18. I didn't realise how big of a difference this made until I was 23, trying to apply for my first solo credit card and realising I had a credit score of 800 with a long credit history. My parents never had conversations with me about money. I had a boyfriend in my junior year of university that changed my life. He pointed out how extremely spoiled I was, with my brand-new luxury car that was gifted and unlimited monthly allowance. He challenged me to make something for myself and that's when I started working as a medical office assistant and put away my parents' credit cards. As soon as I realised how hard it was to make money, I dialled way way down on extravagant living and lost some “friends” in the process.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I had a job at Orange Julius when I was 16 because all of my friends got jobs at the mall. I lasted about one week because it was “too much work.” My real first job was as a medical office assistant when I was 20. It started off as a bet that I wanted to win (said boyfriend bet I wouldn't last three months) but throughout the process, I learned the value of hard work. It was the first time I proved to myself I can live within my means and work hard for the things I wanted. I saved $10,000 in my gap year before attending grad school while working to support myself.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
Almost never. My dad owns his own company. My mom quit her full-time job to help my dad with his business in the beginning and then became a stay-at-home mom when I was eight. Things really got better when we moved to Canada. My dad bought a huge mansion and we could have anything we wanted. They never talked to me about money. My dad stayed behind in Asia to work on his business while my mom, brother, and I stayed in Canada. Thinking back, I don't know if I would have preferred having the upper middle-class lifestyle over being able to spend time growing up with my dad. He's my favourite person.
Do you worry about money now?
Absolutely. About two years into my job, I realised I will never have the lifestyle I grew up in. I know my husband and I do well by all standards, but we will always have to work and take home a paycheque for a living. We have to plan for vacations and large purchases. I am grateful that I had a headstart in life, without debt, but I always worry about how we are going to be able to provide for our children one day.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
24 years old. I stopped using my parents' credit cards for unlimited spending at 20 but they still paid for my housing costs and tuition. In grad school, I only asked them to pay for tuition and I paid for my own housing and all other expenses. As soon as I graduated from grad school, I became financially responsible and independent. My dad is incredibly proud that I don't take any money from him. He boasts this to all of his friends. I definitely know that I have a financial safety net whenever I need it, but I try my best not to rely on it. When we purchased our condo in 2020, my parents offered to buy it outright for us but we turned them down and got a mortgage instead.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I spent about $200,000 CAD of my parents' money after high school. This includes university and grad school tuition plus the first four years of room and board and the frivolous spending in my early college days. I only know this because my parents, in an effort to be fair, recently gave my brother the difference between what I spent and what he spent as a lump sum gift. I gave my parents feedback on how I thought the way they gave me unlimited funds was unhealthy for a teenager. They took the feedback and gave my brother a set monthly allowance when he was in school.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Monday, UGH. My alarm vibrates on my watch and I hit snooze four times before getting out of bed at 8. If you sleep with a partner that's a light sleeper, I highly recommend the vibrating alarm. My husband, F., has already gone to the gym before I even open my eyes. D., a little poodle we are dogsitting, makes herself comfortable between my legs.
8 a.m. — I start getting ready for work. I am currently using the Clinique Moisture Surge Eye concentrate and Lancôme Genifique for skincare. My daily makeup consists of a light foundation under my eye as concealer, eyeliner, eyebrows, a light dusting of powder, and a lip tint.
9 a.m. — I am groomed, dressed, and ready to head to work! D. sits on the bed watching me get ready. F. takes her for a walk and I feed her breakfast. I spend way too much time saying goodbye to her on the bed before leaving for work.
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10 a.m. — Get to work. As a healthcare provider, I work in person and have never had the option to telecommute. I really don't mind because I do not have the discipline to work from home. I see a patient for a routine indication. After the patient leaves, I check my emails and find out there was a break-in in our condo building Sunday night. Scary. I talk to condo board members (I got myself elected as a board member when we moved into the building) about the next steps and type out some safety reminders to be posted in the building lobby.
1 p.m. — Lunchtime. The hospital offers free lunch every day. It's nothing fancy — just a bottled drink, a variety of chips/cookies, and a sandwich. I grab one and resume talking with the board about the break-in. Luckily, through the help of a board member and the doorman, the perpetrator was apprehended by the police, and all stolen items were returned. So much drama! F. texts me that D. has officially left our house. I cry again on the inside. I'll miss her.
5 p.m. — My afternoon patients don't show up. This is not uncommon when the weather is nice. We are also experiencing a declining pregnancy/birth rate so my patient volume is suffering. I am a clinical prenatal genetic counsellor and I find my job very awarding. I stay in my office until 5 because I am attending a sponsored dinner tonight. It'll be easier to go from my office than from home. A company is hosting a nice sponsored dinner to discuss genetic testing and treatment advances in cerebral palsy.
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9 p.m. — I have a wonderful time at dinner and actually learn quite a bit about the genetics of cerebral palsy. My friend offers me a ride to the subway and then I take the train home. F. meets me at the subway exit to walk home together. He's been walking me home from the further subway stations since the increase in crime in NYC. We walk home and talk about our day. We see a new restaurant that just opened and really liked its menu. We make plans to come to eat here tomorrow.
11 p.m. — I get ready for bed. I play some games and watch YouTube on my phone before falling asleep at about midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

8 a.m. — Alarm. I don't have patients today so I start my day slowly. F. is going into the office today so he brushes me a quick kiss before leaving for work. He probably woke up before 6 a.m. to go to the gym and run. He made me my daily morning tea and it's sitting in a thermos on the kitchen counter.
10 a.m. — I get to work. I have a meeting this morning with the gene therapy company that sponsored the lecture and dinner last night. I thank them again for arranging the event and we brainstorm some ways to reach a broader audience. I am super stoked the field of genetics has really advanced since the proof of concept in the mRNA vaccine. I believe within the next decade we will be discussing genetic disorders in a whole new light as all these different therapies become available.
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12 p.m. — Lunchtime. Same boring stuff but it's free. I learn one of my friends, B., just found out a family member had passed away. It's all very sad. I try to console her but I don't think I'm doing a good job.
2 p.m. — I see I was charged for a Home Chef meal delivery. I get these occasionally. $60

4 p.m. — Head home from work. It was a super uneventful day since I didn't have patients. I'm also not behind on charts so I basically just waited in my office, read some articles, and did some paperwork. I have a new summer student starting next week so I send her some readings and assignments. I am also supervising student research and I make plans to meet the students tomorrow to get their hospital IDs.

5 p.m. — It's Tuesday, which means I work out with my friend, K. Today we are working out in my building gym but we meet up early since we've added the Couch to 5K training to the routine. We are on week four and it's getting tough! We run down to the park and back to my building, do another 20-minute upper body workout in the gym, and then I walk K. halfway to her house and buy us some bubble tea. We both get lychee slushies with cheese foam and crystal pearls and I get F. a grape slushie with cheese foam (his favourite drink from this place). $18.26

6:30 p.m. — Our agent tells us there's an open house today to show our condo. We are tempted to move into a brand new luxury building in the same area since our condo has appreciated in the two years we've had it. F. and I recently came to the conclusion we don't want to be bothered with the move. It's hard to justify a move from a two-bed/two-bath to another two-bed/two-bath, wipe our savings out, and pay $1,000 more a month just for the "luxury" amenities. We walk to the new restaurant that just opened in the area. It's a soft opening so they don't have their full menu yet but the food blows us away. We eat and have some good conversations about our decision not to move and we talk about whether we want to start trying for a baby. The check comes and I pay. $50.21

8 p.m. — We get home from dinner and I shower and get ready for bed.

10:30 p.m. — We head to bed. F. falls asleep almost right away. I stay up to watch some YouTube videos and fall asleep by midnight.

Daily Total: $128.47
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Day Three

8 a.m. — Alarm. Yup, another workday. I get ready with my usual. F. had already left for work and left my tea on the counter. He is the sweetest man for making me tea every morning. His company now wants them to return to the office 10 days a month. F. is trying to get all of his days in early in the month so he can work from home without guilt. It's a busy week for him as they finalise everyone's appraisals and decide on raises and bonuses. I keep my fingers and toes crossed for some good news at the end of the month.
10 a.m. — My two summer students show up at my office. It's my first time meeting them in person so we chat for a little and I walk them over to the planning office to get their student IDs. We make plans for their next steps and I send them on their way. I am excited about the project they are about to embark on.
12 p.m. — Today we have a sponsored lunch from one of the genetic testing companies. They always bring the yummiest food. I spend some time talking to the company about testing delays and creating new accounts for different departments.
4 p.m. — I finish seeing my patients for the afternoon. Luckily everything is pretty routine this week. I had a very bad week two weeks ago when we found a cluster of sonogram anomalies in a span of three days. It's really hard to tell expectant mothers bad news but I also rather it come from me than some of the other providers. I call patients about their results and finish for the day.
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5 p.m. — I have a book club meeting tonight but almost everyone cancels. This is the first time B. will be coming out for an outing since finding out she had COVID and since her family member passed. I go to a vegan bakery to pick up a tart and a box of macarons. I also go to the drugstore for a card. $39
6 p.m. — Book club meeting is at an Ethiopian restaurant that I picked. Out of six members of the book club, only three attend, but we have a very good time talking about the book. While we eat, we choose our next book — Weapons of Math Destruction. I am excited to get started listening to this book. I realised I'm slightly dyslexic when it comes to reading a book. Since switching to audiobooks, my life has CHANGED. We share a vegetarian dinner platter and an appetiser. $30
9 p.m. — I get home. F. is already home and cleaned the house. I honestly don't know what I would do without this man. His company is sending him to an express MBA program over the summer and he has been putting in countless hours doing prep work. F. works for a very large global corporation and works long hours. Luckily, we both enjoy our jobs and have a passion for our fields. We talk about our days, I wash my face, and then we unwind in bed.
10:30 p.m. — Lights out. I watch YouTube videos in bed and fall asleep before midnight.
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Daily Total: $69

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I know, I know, it's time to wake up. F. is staying home today to work from home. After his run and workout, he showers and stays with me as I get ready. We talk about the day ahead and he makes me my daily tea. We also talk about having kids and remain undecided if this is the right time.
12 p.m. — Boring lunchtime. I pick up some free regular lunch and my work friend.
4 p.m. — I leave work. My office is about an hour commute from my house. It's far but I mostly enjoy the subway commute as I can close my eyes and listen to audiobooks or podcasts. I'm loving the Money 2.0 mini series from Hidden Brain. It's fantastic. It's Thursday which means it's a workout day. I get home first to get changed. F. walks me to K.'s house because he has a dentist appointment nearby.
5:30 p.m. — I arrive at her house and the workout starts. It's the toughest run yet and I am so proud of myself for finishing. K. talks to me about an app called Libby where you can rent audiobooks from the library. Mind blown. I will have to investigate this later. Audible has become an expensive hobby. I paid for an annual membership with 12 credits three months ago and I've only got five credits left! F. and I have a movie reservation tonight to see Dr. Strange so I don't linger and head home to shower.
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8 p.m. — I finish showering and getting ready for our movie date night. The theatre is 15 minutes door to door from our place and I love the convenience. We also watch a movie at AMC whenever we don't know what to do since we pay for the monthly A-List membership. It allows us to book tickets right on the app with no restrictions. We make an effort to watch at least two movies a month to "break even" and I'm happy to say we have done exceptionally well with this membership.
10:30 p.m. — Dr. Strange is fantastic! We both love the movie. We head home and wind down for bedtime.
11:30 p.m. — Lights out and I'm cozy.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — It's FRIDAY! I have a light schedule today so I slowly get ready for work. F. has an early work call and I can hear him in his office working away. I peek at the kitchen counter and he remembers to make me tea before his day began! What a sweetie.
9 a.m. — I am working through The Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson. I didn't realise the race to find a tool for gene editing is such a page-turner! It's been a very interesting listen thus far.
12 p.m. — Boring lunchtime. I pick up some oven Lay's potato chips and a tuna fish sandwich. Not my favourite sandwich but it's free. I am very grateful work has been feeding us lunch since 2019. It has saved me so much time and money.
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3 p.m. — I finish all my patients for the day and decide to leave early. I'm happy for a slow week at work because a slow week means healthy babies!
5 p.m. — I get home early and decide to go on a solo run to build up my endurance. I book a gym slot and do a 30-minute run on the treadmill. Our building started a reservation system during COVID where a unit is able to reserve one-hour time slots every day and not share the gym with anyone else. I love this policy and as a board member, voted for it to stay in place.
6:30 p.m. — Finished showering and getting ready. We are going to a friend's house for game night and I am SUPER late! F. is already there since I told him to meet me at their house. I run out of the house, grab some bubble tea for everyone, and take the train to my friend's house. We live in the same neighbourhood and initially planned on walking but I'm already super late as it is. $35
7 p.m. — I'm the last to arrive. It's games night with three couples. We play Coup and Ticket To Ride while watching a movie. I bring some edibles with me and we all take some. We order pizza and it's the perfect night. Lots of fun conversations, cuddles from their dog, and some philosophical discussions. We all leave by 11.
11 p.m. — F. and I decide to walk home since we are still feeling pretty high. We continue to talk about having kids. It is my belief that if we keep talking about it maybe we won't have them. There just never seems to be the "perfect time" for kids and I love our life as is.
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11:30 p.m. — We get home and start watching The Edge Of War on Netflix. It's slow and we get tired so we don't finish. We unwind and head to bed around 12:30. I fall asleep super fast.
Daily Total: $35

Day Six

10 a.m. — YUCKKKK it's raining cats and dogs outside and we had plans to do a pizza food crawl with some friends. We decide we'll go anyways.
1 p.m. — We meet up at a pizza place called L'Industrie. They have awesome burrata pizza. Our friend, E., orders one slice for everyone and we get lucky with seats in the covered area. We eat the super yummy pizza and talk about the horrible weather. We take some edibles and then head to the next place.
2 p.m. — We go to another place right next door for more pizza and drinks. Two more friends join us. Their pizza dough is made from sourdough and it's delicious.
4:30 p.m. — We are having such a good time but I'm starting to feel super sleepy. We leave the group and go home for some lazy couch time. Our portion of the bill from the two places comes to about $60 and F. pays.
5 p.m. — Home and on the couch.
9 p.m. — Decided to stop fighting the sleepiness and head to bed. I pass out cold.
1 a.m. — I wake up in the middle of the night in agonising pain and realised I got my period. I change my underwear into Thinx period underwear and fall back asleep.
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3 a.m. — Ouch. I'm in so much pain and it's unusual for me. I take some Ibuprofen and go to bed again.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up and all of my muscles ache. This is a very bad period month and I text K. to cancel our workout plans. I feel very bad since this is the first time I've canceled in six months but my body cannot do anything today. I feel like I am a teenager again with the amount of pain I'm in. I take two Ibuprofen and try to wait out the pain.
11 a.m. — I get out of bed and try to be productive. My body hates me and deep down, I wonder if my body is punishing me for not wanting to have kids yet. F. is being super understanding and makes me tea. He also plugs in my heating pad and makes me a cozy corner on the couch. I get Libby to work and download another one of the Bridgerton series. This one is about Gregory and it's super enjoyable. I listen and doze off.
7 p.m. —F. cooks me dinner and I never leave my comfy spot on the couch. I head to bed at about 9 and hope my body stops punishing me tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0
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