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A Week In New York, NY On A $260,000 Salary

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 dollar.

This week: an attorney who makes $260,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Kindle Unlimited.
Editor’s Note: This diarist has chosen to limit her entries to those that are strictly related to purchases and spending — no additional information has been omitted.
Occupation: Attorney
Industry: Legal
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $260,000
Net Worth: $230,000
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (monthly): $14,000 (of which $2,000 is contributed by partner)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $5,000
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Health & Wellness/Gym: $150 (gym membership and Peloton)
Cleaner: $240 (includes tip)
Renter’s Insurance: $30

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?
Yes. My parents live in another country (where I also grew up). They both went to college, and we have been solidly middle class where we lived. My parents encouraged me to study abroad at a US university and then encouraged me to go to law school. They used the vast majority of their life savings to pay for four years of undergraduate schooling and another three years of law school for me. I did get a full scholarship offer at another law school, but my parents encouraged me to turn it down, because the school I ended up attending historically has much better employment outcomes for its graduating class.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
In my culture, school and academic accomplishments are highly prized and their importance was drilled into my mind. I was taught only one lesson about finances: Get the highest paying job you can get, then save for the future. It gave me a very conservative mindset about money, and I was financially anxious all the time, despite not being in debt and being in good shape financially. Because of how much my parents sacrificed, I feel I don’t get to have fun, and my family and I rarely go out or have fun. I feel that they have not made a good enough return on their investment yet. I feel that I owe my parents a lot, and I generally feel bad about spending money on frivolous things. My parents also frequently remind me of how much they have invested in my education. On the other hand, my parents taught me to give the best life I can to my close family, so I do not hesitate spending on things that make my family’s life easier.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job is also my current job, as an attorney straight out of law school. It was the logical choice and necessary choice — I went to law school because I wanted to be a lawyer. I loved the prospect of becoming a lawyer in the US because it is a country that respects the rule of law.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My parents made sure I had everything I needed as a child and as a teenager, especially related to education. I knew my college education would be fully paid for by my parents and that was all that I needed. I don’t recall ever wanting things I didn’t need. I did, however, understand that no frivolous spending was allowed, and I did not have an allowance. I did have to turn down two study abroad opportunities, once in fourth grade, and once in 10th grade; since we would have had to pay room and board if we accepted, my parents did not think it worthwhile for college applications — the value for money was low. I also did not do college tours because plane tickets were expensive. I opted out of SAT tutoring because it was expensive and used borrowed books instead.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I worry that I will not be able to repay my parents’ generosity, whether financially or emotionally. More importantly, I worry that I will burn out from my job and lose my high income, which means that my parents would have made a bad choice investing in my education — and yes, I know an education cannot be measured purely in monetary terms.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself?
At 24, when I graduated law school.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandfather left me about $2,000 when he passed. I believe he also gave my parents about $10,000 to support my schooling while I was in college.

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up, and my partner who lives with me complains that our pillows suck. I chuckle and agree. I tell him that I’ll look into buying eco-friendly latex pillows as an upgrade to the pillows we got from Target in a pinch for $15 each. I do some internet searches, and then basically immediately buy two new pillows before I start getting ready for the day. $270
9 a.m. — I hop on the 2/3 train to Manhattan. I use an OMNY card that automatically reloads from my commuter benefit card.
12 p.m. — I always grab lunch from my law firm’s cafeteria: It’s easy, cheap and healthy. $8
3 p.m. — I grab coffee with a coworker I have not talked to in a while. We always go to the nearest Starbucks and take it to go. I usually charge it to the law firm. $7 (Expensed)
7 p.m. — I go to Whole Foods on my way home. I buy fruit (cotton candy grapes, mandarin oranges) and a box of chocolate chip muffins. I also grab some chips and individually packaged snacks. My partner and I have a dedicated snack drawer — he is a resident physician who works long shifts and always needs to refuel on the go. $22
Daily Total: $300

Day Two

8 a.m. — We have a food prep chef come in to prepare weekly meals for us using our kitchen. She also submits an invoice to me for the groceries she buys. I pay for her labor, too. I usually take a look at the invoice one or two days after it has been generated. She is amazing and has saved my partner and I so much time, since we both have busy careers and hate cooking. $400
11 a.m. — I have a coffee break and browse the internet. Two years ago I bought two good-luck charms in 24k gold for my partner and I to match. We have been wearing those as a set of matching bracelets, but have grown tired of the design of the stainless steel bracelets. I buy two hand-braided bracelets on Etsy. $20
5 p.m. — My home cleaner comes twice a month. She is amazing and extremely efficient — she even organizes the clothes closets for my partner and me. I always leave her a $20 tip.
7 p.m. — I usually work late into the night, but once a week my partner and I see a movie. We usually watch a movie or an anime at home on our 50-inch TV, but this time we went to an IMAX theater to watch Dune: Part Two on the big screen. $44
Daily Total: $464

Day Three

12 p.m. — Work day at the law firm; I grab lunch at the cafeteria as usual. They have cream of mushroom soup, so I ordered it. $11
2 p.m. — I order electric toothbrush heads from BestBuy since I just switched to our last one. I have a reward certificate from BestBuy from my past electronic purchases, so it came out to $5 out of pocket. $5
8 p.m. — After enjoying a home-cooked meal, my partner and I decide to grab dessert from a local bakery. I ordered a slice of coconut pie and he ordered a slice of mint mocha pie with a glass of warm milk. $20
Daily Total: $36

Day Four

10 a.m. — It’s a work from home day, so I do not want to get out of my apartment. I realize our breakfast items are running low, so I make an Instacart order of milk, yogurt, bottled water, coffee pods, and paper towels. $60
12 p.m. — My law firm is organizing a social event in Washington DC, so I jump on the opportunity. I ask my helpful assistant, who’s also a good friend, to book the Acela train tickets. I usually book business class tickets for travel like this. $645 (Expensed)
Daily Total: $60

Day Five

10 a.m. — It’s the weekend! I go to my gym class. I got a deal for the gym membership since I was one of their founding members (they opened recently), so I only pay $100 a month as opposed to $250. Today I feel good about my spin class, so I order a peanut butter banana smoothie from the gym’s cafe. $10
12 p.m. — Unfortunately I have some work to catch up still, so I go home after my gym class. I shower, then turn on my computer set up. I have a brief to draft and edits from senior attorneys that I need to implement. Five or six hours easily fly by, and I realize I have forgotten to eat. I then order some spaghetti from a nearby restaurant using Uber Eats. $35 (Expensed)
Daily Total: $10

Day Six

4 p.m. — It’s the only day off of the week for my partner, so we decide to eat at a Japanese curry place in Manhattan for dinner, after enjoying a home-cooked meal for lunch. We take the subway there. $60
Daily Total: $60

Day Seven

5 p.m. — After a long work day, I realize I’ve run out of things to read from my Kindle on my Subway commute back home. I quickly looked through my Libby app and see that every title I put on hold is still not yet available to me. Then I remember the other day my partner, who’s a psychiatry resident, recommended to me a memoir by a psychiatrist named Michael Myers. I couldn’t find this book in my library’s e-book collection, but it’s available on Kindle Unlimited, so I purchased Kindle Unlimited so I can have access to that book and more. I plan to cancel the subscription after a month. $10
Daily Total: $10

The Breakdown

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