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 genetic counselor working in healthcare who makes $82,100 per year and spends some of it on a Statue of Liberty Lego set.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Net Worth: -$57,455 ($18,277 in checking/savings accounts, $10,245 in retirement/investments, minus debt. I live with my partner, who makes roughly $100,00 and has some student loan debt. We split most expenses, but do not combine finances.)
Debt: $84,000 in student loan debt, $1,977 currently owed on my credit card. I do pay my card off in full every month, so this fluctuates.
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,117 after deductions for short-term disability insurance and 401(k) (5%, completely matched by my employer)
Housing Costs: $650 for my portion. This includes rent, pet rent, parking, and all utilities except electric. I live in a one-bedroom with my partner. The total monthly cost is $1,623, but my partner and I split it 60/40 because she makes more money than me. We split all other bills 50/50.
Loan Payments: $0 for student loans, due to the pandemic forbearance. I still try to pay ~$700 monthly.
Electric: Ranges from $12 to $26
Climbing Gym Membership: $79
Health Insurance: $0, until I turn 26 in a few weeks
Car Payment: $0 (My partner owns a car that we share.)
Streaming Services: $0 (We use my partner's or my sisters' accounts.)
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Spotify: $16.95 for a family plan
Chewy Autoship: $104
CVS CarePass: $10
Investment Platform Membership: $5
Investments: ~$200 (Sometimes more, sometimes less.)
Savings: I usually deposit $200 to $500 into savings at the end of each month, depending on how much I spend that month and how much I want to contribute to student loans or investments.
Yes. My mom always made it very clear that the only path after high school was college. She did not go to college when she was young, and she desperately wants my sister and me to grow up with more than what she had. I ended up getting a B.S. and an M.S. I paid for my undergrad degree with scholarships, grants, and some student loans. I paid for my master's mostly with student loans, but did get a scholarship that covered tuition for one year. My loans are all federal. Thankfully, I went to in-state schools and got enough scholarship money that I didn't have to take out private loans.
We didn't have many conversations about money. My mom would occasionally tell us not to spend frivolously like our father, and she tried to stress the importance of saving, but that was really it. I've started asking her about money, now that I've been in my career for about a year and a half, and she does give some pretty solid financial advice when I need it. My father is terrible with money, and I would never have those conversations with him.
I started babysitting at 14, but my first tax-paying job was at a campus dining hall when I started college at 17. I got these jobs so I would have spending money and wouldn't have to ask my parents for things as often.
Yes. Even though my parents have been separated since I was a little kid, I would still hear them fight about money throughout my childhood. They'd argue about spending habits, missed child support payments, etc. When they separated, my mom, sister, and I stayed with family for a few years, until my mom could buy a house. All of the bills were always paid, and we always had food, but my mom would sometimes skip meals so my sister and I would have enough. I remember being very worried about affording a life on my own. I wouldn't have even had a laptop for college if it weren't for the generous family members and friends who gifted me money for my high school graduation.
Yes and no. While I do make a good salary and can absolutely pay for whatever I need, I also have a ton of debt and I still have negative emotions tied to money. When a bill comes out to more than I was expecting, I start to panic and have to actively remind myself that it's okay, and that I'm no longer living paycheck-to-paycheck or student loan–to–student loan.
The responsibility piece is hard to answer. On one hand, I began paying for my own living/eating/shopping/school expenses when I moved out at 17. On the other, my parents still pay for my phone bill, and I'm still covered under my mom's health insurance until I turn 26 in a few weeks and enroll in benefits through my workplace. For a safety net, I have an emergency savings account with upwards of $11,000. Also, if I were to lose my job or have a huge medical expense or something, my partner and I could live off of her income alone for a while.
I was laid off from a retail job when the COVID-19 pandemic started, so I collected unemployment for four months, until I started at my current job. I also got the COVID stimulus payments. My mom gave me $2,000 to help with moving expenses when I moved to Washington, D.C., to start my career.
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