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A Week In Hong Kong On A $225,600 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 dollar.

Today: a consultant who has a joint income of $225,600 per year and spends some of her money this week on Prada loafers.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Banking
Age: 33
Location: Hong Kong
My Salary: $125,000 + 30-40% bonus
My Husband's Salary: $100,600 + 5-10% bonus
Net Worth: $781,600 ($118,600 in savings, $142,000 in retirement (every month we both volunteer an additional 5% of our salaries into retirement and my company matches + an additional 2%), $70,000 government bonds (U.K.), $7,000 in company shares, $417,000 house in U.K., $27,000 in our U.K. bank account for rent collection and government bond payouts. We also have $2,000 in red packets for our child's first lunar new year (which we do not consider as our money, we're simply custodians until our 11-week old baby is old enough to access savings). Our finances are combined.
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $10,410
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $8,383
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $4,383 for a three-bed, three-bath apartment
Full-Time Helper: $1,031
Spotify: $11
Netflix: $13
iCloud storage: $10
AppleTV+: free with phone contract
Utilities: $150
Phone: $34
Health Insurance: $0 (work covers insurance for my family)
NY Times: $2
The Guardian: $19.99
Money Sent To My Parents: $500
Private Medical Insurance: $5,796 (annually, we chose private for the birth of our baby)
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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?
Yep. My mom was an OBGYN and my dad was an engineer. Both pushed for higher education so I have an undergraduate and master's degree and my sister is a doctor. I went to the U.K. for my university education and my parents paid for it. They also paid for my living expenses for the first month of the first year but promptly cut me off when I blew through the whole term's worth of allowance in a month. I got a job working as a waitress at a sushi restaurant and paid for myself for the rest of the first year. They reinstated my rent money in the second and third year and the first year of my masters (Second year of my masters I moved back to Hong Kong to live with my parents where I worked and studied).
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Not many conversations as my parents were working their butts off to make ends meet when I was a baby. But then my dad's career took off and we became very comfortable. My parents are both retired now and they are enjoying a good life, deservedly so.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Waitress at a sushi restaurant in the first year of university because my parents cut me off for spending money like a lunatic.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
My parents left China when I was 3. My mom gave up everything to support my dad going to school in Australia — her medical license, her salary, her independence — and ended up doing things like cutting loose threads in garments to make ends meet. Money was tight for a couple of years, but after my dad graduated, he made a good living to the point where he bought land and built our family home in Melbourne. Then we moved to Hong Kong and my dad's career really took off, at which point we did not worry about money.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. Yes, because my husband, V., and I have set out plans for the next few years and we have milestones that we need to hit. No because we make good money, will always have good job opportunities (the importance of building a strong network and never burning bridges is KEY to having a wealth of good job opportunities to explore!!), and we sit on a healthy safety net so if anything were to go wrong *knock on wood* then we'd be okay in terms of finances and housing.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
22, when I moved out of my family home, and into a flat with V. We have built a strong enough financial safety net, but if it were all to go tits up, we could turn to our parents for help.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
V. received an inheritance when his uncle and his grandma passed away. When the time comes, I will as well. In the meantime, as part of my culture, I pay a monthly stipend of $500 to my parents and have done so since I returned to Hong Kong when I was 21 (so 12 years). They don't ask for the money and I don't know what they do with the money, but I do it because I like to take care of them as they've done such a good job of taking care of me.

Day One

4:30 a.m. — Our daughter, B., wakes up shouting, which kind of makes sense as she's hitting herself in the face. She's 10 weeks old and strong as hell, so we have unswaddled her this week and she's been a superstar at sleeping unswaddled. Breastfeed her and she passes out again in 15 minutes. Stick her back in her Next2Me and I head back to bed.
6:50 a.m. — Wake up to my husband, V., passing me a hot water bottle. Before most feeds, I put a hot water bottle on my left breast, as I recently had a breast abscess. What does that mean? It means I was in a lot of pain, with multiple visits to a breast surgeon, multiple needles to aspirate the pus that had collected, and multiple visits from a lactation consultant to "massage" (aka pummel the sh*t) out of my breast to get the milk flowing.
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7:25 a.m. — H. arrives. She is our full-time helper and we adore her. She comes into the nursery to say hi and then takes our puppy for his morning walk; he loves rushing into the nursery to say hi and then sprinting off.
9 a.m. — B. has been fed, changed, and after playing for an hour on her Lovevery play gym, she's back in her nursery to sleep for two hours. We're following a sleep schedule and she's been an absolute champion at learning how to self-settle. We have been very lucky with how good she is at sleeping, but we have also been militant at following the schedule because we LOVE. OUR. SLEEP.
9:30 a.m. — Greek yogurt and homemade granola for breakfast along with my daily supplements. I also do my PT.
12 p.m. — Feed and change B. then hand her over to H. I grab a quick lunch of potato salad and set off on a lunchtime hike. I like to listen to podcasts while I do this. Right now, I'm going through the back catalog of Armchair Expert (I know!! I'm so late to the game) — it's a good break for me mentally and it's a great challenge physically.

3 p.m. — Back! Boobs out and B. is feeding away. She loves to look at me, smile, and babble away as she eats.

4:30 p.m. — V. has been working from home, and he's finished his last call for the day. He pops on the Ergobaby and takes B. out for her early evening walk/nap. I start dinner — we will be having chicken thigh and kimchi stew with pearl barley. It's the easiest meal in the world and absolutely delicious!!

5:30 p.m. — V. and B. are back from their walk. They come into the bedroom to say hello as I'm finishing up some job applications. I take a shower before getting dinner ready for B.

7 p.m. — Bedtime for B. V. and I make ourselves some fresh lime sodas and hang out.

7:30 p.m. — Serve up dinner and start watching Unforgotten on ITV. It's a British police show and it is absolutely amazing.

10 p.m. — Bedtime for me! V. does a last feed and then joins me.

Daily Total: $0
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Day Two

2 a.m. — B. wakes up shouting. She's done a massive poop and is not happy about it. Change her and feed her for 15 minutes and then she's back to bed.
6:50 a.m. — Alarm goes off! B. is awake and staring at the ceiling. I put her in bed with V. and they start babbling to each other. I do my quick morning routine (brush teeth, contacts in, eat a banana) and head into the nursery to set up for B.'s breakfast.
8:50 a.m. — Today is bonus day. As I'm on maternity leave, my line manager WhatsApp calls me to catch up and let me know what my bonus is. Performance this last year has not been great (duh, COVID), so going into this conversation, I had the lowest of expectations for the bonus. It turns out to be great so I'm very happy. On the FLIP SIDE, fixed pay has not increased at all this year — it's company-wide so not a slight on me, but it's still disappointing. H. makes me two hard-boiled eggs for breakfast.
10 a.m. — Continue working on job applications. I am happy where I am and enjoy the work and the people, but every few years I feel an itch for a change/challenge and I want to up my pay package. I submit three job applications, make a note of them so I don't forget, and save some more jobs to apply to later.
11 a.m. — B. scratched her cheeks while sleeping, so I go on Amazon to peruse some gloves. I also grab some Epsom salts, three books, a big photo frame, and cheap running headphones for V. $67
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1230 — Eat leftover kimchi barley stew with IKEA's vegan balls to flesh it out a bit. The vegan balls are okay…nothing to write home about. I don't feel like walking today, so I stay on the couch and continue reading The Dutch House. I've started and stopped this book SO MANY TIMES and I've finally gotten to near the end today. It's not great TBH. I recently finished a memoir by Henry Marsh called Do No Harm and THAT was a brilliant book. Highly recommend.
3 p.m. — Feed B. who poops twice while feeding. H. takes her and puppy for their afternoon walk. Defrost two salmon filets for dinner. I have store credit for a pet food store so I get 36 cans of chicken breast for our cat. I pay the difference. $7
4:30 p.m. — Check our bank accounts, monthly budget, insurance tracker. T loves to track everything we spend and it's rubbed off on me so I do a weekly check-in just to see where we are. Monthly budget for February is looking good so far. January was not a great month because it was SIX weekends and I had the breast abscess. Insurance payments are looking good as the breast abscess costs have all come back; thank goodness for that. Not only was it so much pain both emotionally and physically, but it cost an absolute sh*t ton. Thankfully, we purchased private health insurance for the pregnancy and birth of B. which is still covering me for the rest of this year. Coupled with the great work coverage that I have, everything has been covered.
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7 p.m. — Fed and put to bed! B. shouts a bit, but it's Friday which means a.) it's the WEEKEND (kind of a bizarre concept during maternity leave) and more importantly b.) WE CAN HAVE AN ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE! Open a bottle of rosé and catch up with V. on his day, who works 50/50 WFH and in the office.
8 p.m. — Dinner is roasted pesto salmon with quinoa and avocado. Dessert is custard-filled tang yuan, a traditional Chinese dessert eaten at the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations.
9:30 p.m. — Milk and dump it in the sink because of the wine. Bedtime!
Daily Total: $74

Day Three

2 a.m. — B. is shouting so I pop her on my boob for 20 minutes until she passes out.
6:50 a.m. — Wake up!
8 a.m. — V. plays with B. on the mat. This includes reading a book — today's pick is Hairy McLairy from Donaldson's Dairy.
9 a.m. — H. puts B. to sleep in the nursery. I make breakfast for V. and me — avocado on bagels, seasoned with lemon and salt. Delicious.

10 a.m. — V. takes a shower and then climbs into bed with me. We have sex. It's taken us a while to get to this point because another side effect of breast feeding is a dry vagina. That, coupled with postpartum depression has made sex complicated for me, but incredibly intimate for V. and me. I love my husband very much and he has been such a body of support for me.

12 p.m. — Get dressed, feed B., and hand her over to H. as V. and I have a lunch date with my friend and his boyfriend. They've been together for years but for whatever reason, this is the first time V. and I are meeting them as a couple!

2:30 p.m. —We meet for lunch. Peking duck is DELICIOUS. $128

3 p.m. — Stop by the Thai grocery shop and pick up Thai basil and som tam (Green Papaya Salad) for dinner. $6

4 p.m. — Back home, feed B., and now she's lying on the couch babbling away at me. I put on the baby carrier and we head for a walk. After an hour, it's time to head home for her bath!

5:30 p.m. — I take a shower. Kerastase shampoo and conditioner (the pink ones), Aveeno Skin Relief body wash, Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel (weekly), and Cetaphil face wash. Skincare is my absolute obsession and right now I'm working through some lighter skincare as I feel like the baby hormones are tipping my skin towards the oily side. Toner is A'PIEU Madecassoside Fluid, serum is COSRX Snail Mucin, moisturizer is Tony Moly The Chok Chok Green Tea Watery Lotion, and eye cream is COSRX Advanced Snail Peptide Eye Cream. Lip balm is always Glossier. Body skincare is Aromatherapy Associates Reflect Oil (Black Pepper and Jasmine) on my stomach and both sides of my bottom for stretch mark prevention, and the rest of my body I cover in QV lotion.

7 p.m. — OnTheList is having a sale on Mustela baby products, so I pick up some face creams, body lotions, sunscreens, body washes, and more creams for B. Work sent me a huge basket of their things when B. was born in December, and they seem to be super gentle and nice on her so this is a great chance to stock up. $65

7:30 p.m. — Dinner is pad krapow (Thai basil and minced pork) served over jasmine rice, and som tam. V. makes me a gin and tonic. I bought some brightly colored gins a while ago in anticipation of my post-pregnancy treats and it was the best decision ever.

9:30 p.m. — Milk and dump and then head to bed.

Daily Total: $199
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Day Four

4 a.m. — Feed B. for 15 minutes and then go back to sleep.
6:50 a.m. — Sunday! Wake up and get B. changed and on the boob for breakfast.
9 a.m. — Instead of playtime today, we put her in the stroller and take her for a two-hour walk. We talk about putting a will in place; we need a will in the U.K. and in Hong Kong. I add it to my list of things to do next week. Stop by the deli to get cheese — 24-month parmesan and pecorino romano. $21
12 p.m. — B. has been fed and is now on the playmat with V. I make lunch — roasted peppers and caramelized onions with red pesto pasta. Delicious! I also make lunch for tomorrow.
2 p.m. — I check my retirement funds — I have two. The MPF fund is doing poorly as the indexes I am tracking are tanking. I make a note to keep an eye on this. My plan is for this to go back up to a certain amount, then I'll switch it to a low-risk index.
4:30 p.m. — Bundle B. up in the baby carrier and the three of us head out for a walk.
5:20 p.m. — B. is growing out of her bodysuits, so I go on Next Direct and buy her five long sleeve bodysuits, five short sleeve bodysuits, and five pairs of leggings. Then I give her dinner and put her to bed. $45
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7:30 p.m. — Dinner is a roast. V. roasts a rack of pork and prepares sides including apple cider purple cabbage, honey roasted carrots, and broccoli. He also makes a delicious gravy from scratch to go with the meal.
9 p.m. — Wash, dry, and wipe up the kitchen while V. takes the pup for a walk. Lots of leftovers so we can have a couple of sandwiches for lunch next week.
9:30 p.m. — Milk and head off to bed.
Daily Total: $66

Day Five

3 a.m. — B. wakes herself up with a giant poo. Change her diaper, feed her, and back to sleep.
6:50 a.m. — The three of us have a cuddle in bed before I take B. to the nursery for breakfast and V. jumps in the shower. With the vaccines starting and the number of COVID cases hovering under 20, workplaces are moving towards 80% office working.
9 a.m. — Head to the bank to open a bank account for B. Lunar New Year has ended so we are depositing her red packets (lucky money) from family and friends. She made a very good haul this year — may this continue for her!
11 a.m. — H. heads out to do our weekly shop — there is an ungodly amount of chocolate on our shopping list as V. is keen to perfect a homemade brownie recipe. She grabs vegetables, fruit, yogurt, milk, and noodles. I order all of our meat and fish from the butchers and fishmongers, and cleaning products/diapers, etc. from the supermarket. $64
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12:30 p.m. — I meet up with a friend and we have lunch. Deep-fried pork chops over Japanese sushi rice, with a spring onion chimichurri sauce. DELICIOUS. $8
2 p.m. — We go window-shopping and I stop into Chanel to get a bag fixed. The customer service is unsurprisingly exceptional — free of charge and I'll pick it up in a couple of months. We pass by Prada and I go in to take a look at their loafers. There are a pair of brushed leather loafers with the Prada logo front and center on either shoe. I try them on and love them, so I take a little bit of that bonus money and treat myself to a new pair of shoes. $1,096
7 p.m. — B. is down for the night so I make dinner and watch TV. My favorite show in the world is back on TV — Gogglebox! It's a show where you watch families in the U.K. watch Tv. Sounds dumb and meta, but it's the loveliest show in the whole wide world and it makes me miss the U.K. and V.'s family very much. We make cups of Yorkshire tea, the perfect accompaniment to the show.
9:30 p.m. — Express milk and head to bed.
Daily Total: $1,168

Day Six

6:50 a.m. — B. slept through the night. She does this every now and then, so it's a wonderful treat to have 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep. V.'s up already and hands me a hot water bottle. He then hands B. to me.
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9 a.m. — Pop B. back to bed and get my MacBook out and do a workout then have breakfast.
12 p.m. — Head out and grab a taxi to go meet my boss for lunch, wearing my new shoes. My boss loves them as much as I do! We head to the American Club (she's a member) and I have a salmon and tuna poke bowl. We catch up for an hour on work, life, and family. She's only been my boss for the last year but she's been so supportive. Lunch is her treat. $9
4:30 p.m. — H. takes B. for a walk today in the pram. I download Sally Rooney's Conversation with Friends and read a bit. I loved Normal People and can't wait for the adaption for this book. $12.48
6 p.m. — Feed B. and put her to bed.
7:30 p.m. — Catch up with V. and talk about the progress we've made regarding setting up a will in Hong Kong. It's pretty straightforward, but it will require us to go through our assets, etc. We agree to build a comprehensive list this weekend. Side note: there is no inheritance tax in Hong Kong, which is great. V. grabs a baguette — dinner tonight is sandwiches using the pork from Sunday. DELICIOUS. $3

9:30 p.m. — Express milk and then head to bed.

Daily Total: $24.48

Day Seven

3:30 a.m. — Feed B., back to bed.
6:50 a.m. — The weather is so poo. Wake B. up and have a cuddle in bed. V. picks her up and takes her to the nursery for her morning routine
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8 a.m. — B. is fed and on the playmat wriggling around. Today's book is The Hungry Caterpillar and she loves the giant butterfly on the last page.
9 a.m. — Do a workout and then have breakfast. Read a bit more of Sally Rooney while having a cup of peppermint tea.
12:30 p.m. — I go for a walk. I listen to more Armchair Expert.
4:30 p.m. — After feeding B., I wrap her up in the baby carrier and take her out for a walk. Then get her home, feed her, and give her a bath.

7 p.m. — V. is out with friends tonight, so I make myself a portion of steamed scallops with minced garlic over glass noodles. I also make our lunch for tomorrow — lemon and pea orzo salad. I'm trying to be inventive with our salads so it's not just the same boring vegetables. So far so good!

9:30 p.m. — Express milk, catch up with V., and head to bed.

Daily Total: $0
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