My Husband & I Make $1.5 Million — & Everyone Thinks I Should Be Happy All The Time

It's been almost a year since we first ran a Money Diary from a woman in L.A. who is one-half of a couple earning $1.5 million a year. Her diary was so popular that we did a follow-up interview a month later, where she candidly talked about how she negotiated her way to such a big paycheck and her struggle to talk to her family about her wealth.
This week, in celebration of Money Diaries Month, we published another diary from this L.A. OP, where she talks about the excitement of seeing her $225,000 bonus hit her bank account.
In our upcoming book, Money Diaries, we chatted more with the OP about how her money impacts her relationship with her family. She and her husband include a $15,000 line item in their budget to spend on their families each year. "As I’ve gotten more generous and they perceive that I have more money, they think of me as an ATM," she said.
Below is an outtake from the interview with the L.A. diarist. You can read the full interview in the book. Order today!
Do you think your wealth is obvious?
I think [if you met me] you would definitely think we make a lot of money, but I don’t think you would know we make this kind of money. We certainly don’t talk about it. We like to travel a lot, and that's something we spend a lot of money on, but it’s not stuff, it’s an experience. If you’re not on that trip with us, you wouldn’t see where we stay or what we do. It’s not that visible to people.
Is there anything you won’t spend your money on?
I live in L.A., so everyone and their mother seems to have a Chanel bag. I know I can afford a Chanel bag, but there’s no way in the world I’m spending $5,000 on a purse. I don’t care. I know everyone seems to have one, real or fake, and I do have expensive bags, but they’re in $1,500 to $2,000 range. I certainly don’t want to spend over $2,000, and I have a really hard time pulling the trigger at that level.
Do you still worry about money even though you earn so much?
My husband and I always think this could stop. It’s not guaranteed to be here forever, so we have to be mindful of it and be protective of it. Yes, we make a lot of money but we’re not wealthy yet; my husband and I are still building wealth. A large part of what we make first goes to the government. Essentially 40% of our income goes to taxes. So with the balance of what we have, we try to save a large portion of it so we can put it to work so one day we won’t have to work. That’s also why we don’t spend on frivolous stuff. Although I do indulge in a nice pair of shoes from time to time, the bulk of what we make is being stockpiled. I think when we get to the point where our money is working for us I will get even more generous. But in my mind we’re building towards something.
My parents grew up poor. They've given us a great life, but they’ve been through super rough times. So it’s our first time dealing with this type of money, and you can spend it in a minute if you didn’t think about it. I don’t want to be stingy or mean or cheap, but I also don’t want to be frivolous.

Although I do indulge in a nice pair of shoes from time to time, the bulk of what we make is being stockpiled.

Do you feel satisfied with your career?
I sometimes wish that I was more content. There are some people in the world who say all I want is this house on this street in this town and I’m content. I’m never content, and it’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I say to my husband, Wouldn’t it just be nice if I were happy where I am now. It would take so much pressure off of me if I only wanted to work a job that was 9-to-5. But for me, when I hit a certain level, I’m like, What’s the next challenge? I only appreciate the journey.
Who was the last person you talked about your salary with?
My older sister was our mortgage broker and saw our income statements. But this was three or four years ago, and back then we were making a combined $600,000 a year. Our income has essentially doubled in the past three or four years. I remember her being like Whoa, and I had to have a really quick conversation with her and said, You get to see this because of your job, but you cannot under any circumstances discuss this with anyone in the family ever.
Do you think your family thinks your life is easy because you make such a big salary?
So people think that my life isn't hard or that I’m not exhausted. But I’m all those things. Just because I’m not screaming it from the rooftop doesn’t mean it’s not intense.
Sometimes it feels like it doesn't matter that I’m 6 months pregnant, and I’ve had a hell of a year, and I have a 3-year-old, and my whole life is swirling. I’m still the one who is making dinner for everyone because my siblings couldn’t get their shit together. I’m always working. I never say, You know my lower back is killing me, and I’m exhausted, and my kid was up in the middle of the night, and I just made dinner for 10 people.
I know I do myself a little bit of a disservice, but the only way I’ve found to be effective is to be quiet and get stuff done.

I know I do myself a little bit of a disservice, but the only way I’ve found to be effective is to be quiet and get stuff done.

I am learning I need to say no more. I’m getting better at it. It’s really hard though. One day, I was supposed to go to my hometown and have lunch with my friends. It's an hour from where I live. Then we were going to drive another hour to my in-laws house to go to church and dinner. I had a cold and laryngitis, and I was trying to get all the holiday stuff done. I woke up that morning, and I was like, I can’t get out of bed today. And my friends were mad I didn’t show up, but I didn’t get out of bed the entire day. My pregnancy has definitely forced me to draw the line more than I would normally. So I’m trying to take more breaks. Especially now that I’m pregnant. But I hope after the baby is out, I still say no. I just can’t do everything all the time.
Your daughter is still so young, but she will likely grow up with a very different lifestyle than you and your husband did. How are you approaching parenting to make sure your child is empathetic and considerate?
I've read a ton of books and stuff on money and careers, and I’ve received a ton of advice from people when it comes to my daughter. How do you raise a kid with money? How do you teach them values and hard work when my daughter thinks nothing of it when we get on a plane and go to Europe or Hawaii? How do you check them in with the real world at the end of the day? We’re in this uncharted territory, so I don’t want people to think we have this whole thing figured out. We’ve bumped and bumbled along and learned lessons. We're trying.

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