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A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $156,000 Salary

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Today: a product manager who makes $156,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on DCT lip balm.
Occupation: Product Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 26
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $134,000 plus a $22,000 cash bonus (plus $20,000 worth of vested stock)
Net Worth: $412,069.85 (HYSA: $13,608.59, brokerage accounts: $29,560.30, 401(k): $173,900.96, home value: $658,000, minus mortgage: $463,000)
Debt: $463,000 (mortgage)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,116.42
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,472.26 (This is for my monthly mortgage payment on a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo I bought last year. I live with my friend, D., who pays $800 in rent each month, which I put towards the mortgage.)
HOA: $516
Internet: $48
Gas & Electricity: $120–$150 (winter), $65-$85 (spring/summer)
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Cove Security Monitoring: $16.48
Phone: $0 (On my parents' family plan)
Car Insurance: $99
Apple Music: $11
New York Times: $0 (subscription through work)
Amazon Prime Video: $0 (I use my roommate's account.)
Hulu: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
Netflix: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
Disney+: $0 (My boyfriend's family pays.)
HBO Max: $0 (My boyfriend's family pays.)
Savings: $2,300–$2,600
401(k): $1,674.58 (My employer matches 50%, so I contribute the max and when I reach it for the year, it stops getting deducted from my paycheck.)
Employee Stock Purchase Plan: $1,004.76
Annual Expenses
Donations: $300 (This goes to Partners in Health and a local homeless shelter, which my work matches.)
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?
My parents' expectations were intense for me and my sister because they both came from families that lived paycheck to paycheck. My parents couldn't afford universities in their area, and their parents couldn't help pay for college, so my parents went to military college for the free education and ended up meeting there. As soon as we were old enough to understand, my parents stressed over and over again how important education and getting great grades were because education is a luxury that our ancestors didn't have, just because of the color of their skin. My dad's parents couldn't go to high school because the school in their rural area wasn't integrated, and my mom and her family immigrated here with nothing. Because of this, my parents saved and invested little by little from an early age to be able to pay for our bachelor's degrees (including tuition, textbooks, and room and board without us taking on any loans). We were told we could go anywhere and they would pay — as long as we studied STEM. I didn't appreciate at the time how impressively they planned ahead and what sacrifices they had to make early in their lives to do this. I'm beyond grateful they set me up on a debt-free path and that their financial stability allowed me to attend my dream college.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
They tried, but I didn't pay as much attention as I should've at the time. Luckily, their stories about money were memorable and I was able to put their tips to use once I graduated college. My dad is a super saver who always talked about the importance of living below my means, the time value of money, using compound interest to my advantage, and how to balance a checkbook (which my friends and boyfriend make fun of me for doing now). My mom grew up a super spender who frequently overdrew her accounts, binge shopped, racked up credit card debt, and had no concepts of budgeting or investing. I think her stories of what not to do (and what happens if you do those things) were the most instrumental in educating me about finances. The way they tell it, once my mom and dad started dating, my dad overhauled my mom's spending habits, and they've been building up their financial reserves together ever since. One Christmas when I was around 12, they gave me two financial books for kids that were good enough at describing interest rates and the importance of investing to give me an aversion to credit card debt and a desire to invest in my retirement once I had a full-time job. They also opened savings and checking accounts for me when I was young. Once it was time for me to leave for college, my mom added me as an authorized user on her credit card for building credit and buying college textbooks, which she paid off in full every month.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was around 14, I started babysitting for a neighbor. I did this so I could feel grown up by having a "job" and earn spending money. The first real job I had with a formal paycheck was working at the library in college doing shipping and receiving work. I got this job and others (like being a research intern, teaching assistant, student mentor, etc.) during the term and during the summer, to have spending money and to pay for programs abroad throughout undergrad.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I'm extremely lucky to have never worried about money growing up. My parents both worked full-time, well-paying stable jobs with great medical benefits. They saved well, invested smartly, and always lived well below their means. As a result, they were able to avoid debt and be first-generation wealth builders for their families, who they continue to help support. I know now (but never thought about it growing up) that my parents were very well off. Though we religiously coupon clipped, had the same old car until it died, and never lived in the biggest house in the neighborhood, we had a lot of luxuries that I took for granted as a kid. We went on multiple vacations and road trips per year, ate out at restaurants multiple times per month, went shopping a lot, and were able to afford my dad's ongoing health treatments, surgeries, and medications from the chronic illnesses he had for over a decade while I was growing up. They also paid for the various academic camps, sports, and SAT prep.
Do you worry about money now?
Not anymore because I have a large safety net and when I was going through the process of buying a home last year I learned how to be smarter with my money. I've started tracking my monthly savings rate, investments, and net worth by hand to incentivize saving more and finding ways to cut costs here and there. I believe every little bit helps because even just $25 extra invested now can grow over time to be much more.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became fully financially responsible for myself at age 22, which is when I graduated college. During my senior year, I secured a full-time tech job. I moved and started my life with the savings I had from my many on-campus jobs.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Thanks to my parents I saw firsthand how family wealth can drastically change where you start. My parents paid for my college tuition and college textbooks in full, which I consider passive income. My dad's college graduation gift to me was cashing out a mutual fund he opened the year I was born that had grown to be worth $13,000 to provide me even more of a safety net. My parents also gave me $15,000 to help me cover the closing costs of buying my condo. If I have children, I plan to do these things for them as well.

Day One

9:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I wake up. This is luxurious for a Monday, but I don't have any meetings scheduled today and most of the developers don't start work until 10. Since I support the work the developers are doing, I'm off the hook as long as I finish all my work with high quality and by the deadline. I quickly glance through my phone to make sure I didn't miss any important work emails or pings, then do my very minimal routine: brush teeth, wash face with medicated sulfur and green tea face wash prescribed by my dermatologist, Fenty Skin moisturizer with SPF 30, and my daily Doxycycline pill for keeping my skin clear (also dermatologist prescribed).
9:55 a.m. — I settle into work and decide to make a dermatologist appointment for an unusually persistent cyst that hasn't been responding to any of my face products. I used to have cystic acne for years, but ever since I started seeing a dermatologist and adopting my current regimen, I haven't had any cysts. I schedule the next opening online for 2:15 today.
12:01 p.m. — Lunch is reheated cheese pizza from a local favorite and my vitamin D supplement. There's a reason the Cullens moved to this area to avoid sunlight. Almost everyone I know takes vitamin D supplements and I've felt improvements in my energy levels ever since I started taking them daily with food. I get an unexpected work call while I'm eating lunch, so I intermittently mute to chew. I keep working until I leave for the derm at 1:30.
2 p.m. — Make it to the parking garage of the office building my dermatologist is in, but the signage for payment is quite unclear. No cars have any indication of paid parking receipts, but there's a parking machine sending mixed messages. Parking used to be free here before the pandemic, so I decide not to pay and see what happens. I check in and get my temperature measured by the receptionist. I should mention that I'm fully masked, vaxxed, and boosted.
2:20 p.m. — I get called back and the nurse takes a close-up picture of my acne cyst, which is fun, and she renews all five prescriptions I use for my skin (I also have eczema). The doctor comes in shortly after to give me a cortisone injection and takes the time to introduce himself again even though I see him every six months. I'll get the final payment amount in the mail a few weeks later — it's usually around $140 for an ordinary visit, which I'll pay through my employer-funded HSA.
3 p.m. — Back at home, I catch up on all the emails and requests I missed while I was out.
4:45 p.m. — My boyfriend, S., comes over but I'm still working on emails and putting the finishing touches on a presentation I'm doing later this week. He plays guitar while he waits for me to wrap things up.
5:10 p.m. — We cuddle, catch up, and then I shower while he decides what he wants to eat for dinner. I was planning on just snacking on leftover olive oil cake because I'm not that hungry. I always do my nightly routine after my shower: cocoa butter body lotion, Fenty Skin moisturizer with SPF 30, and Tretinoin cream.
5:40 p.m. — S. leaves to pick up the malai kofta he ended up ordering over the phone and offers to also get chips, guac, and salsa from the Chipotle that's near the Indian restaurant! I will never say no. In the meantime, I watch Love Is Blind Japan. It's fascinating to see strong relationships form and then crumble when the things a person doesn't describe (like the parts of their personality they don't want to admit they have) come to light.
6 p.m. — S. comes back with the goods, and we watch Abbott Elementary while eating. It's therapeutic for him, but underwhelming for me. His malai kofta is very terrible and under-seasoned according to him, so he eats a lot of chips and guac with me.
10 p.m. — After four hours of lazy TV. watching pass by, S. cleans up the food, takes a bath, and goes to sleep since he wakes up much earlier for work. I clean the guinea pigs' cage, give them fresh hay and pellet food, and then continue the lazy Monday mood by watching Broad City until I wander into the bedroom, finally tired and fall asleep at 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I faintly hear S. leave for work and fall back asleep.
9:45 a.m. — I wake up and do my morning routine. My eye is doing much better. In case you couldn't tell, I'm not a morning person so I don't do typical morning things like eat breakfast or drink coffee.
10 a.m. — My only meeting of the day is at 2, so I have plenty of uninterrupted work time to check in with engineers, create an agenda for my afternoon meeting, respond to questions about my feature, practice my presentation, and formalize dependencies between our team and partner teams. My friend, N., texts me asking if she can call me after work. Sure! I'm suspecting boy-related drama. I get an email that one of the brokerages I sold stock through last year uploaded my tax documents, so I enter that information in TurboTax. I do my taxes in stages as the paperwork comes through so it's easier to manage and quicker for me to file.
12 p.m. — More leftover cheese pizza for lunch, with vitamin D and Broad City. I was a faithful HelloFresh subscriber for years and loved being able to quickly put together recipes portioned for small servings, but they raised their prices due to inflation and supply chain pressures during the pandemic, and it was no longer more affordable than grocery shopping on my own. I've been trying a new thing where I use the amount I would've spent on HelloFresh as the amount that must cover both buying groceries and dining out for the month. So far, it's been working well and saving me money. S. and I go to affordable restaurants on the weekend, and I eat leftovers during the week. When the leftovers run out, I make cheap (but delicious) recipes. My goal is for us to cook dinners once our schedules are more consistent so we can save more and be healthier.
1 p.m. — Back to work! My afternoon meeting goes well. I have an impromptu meeting with my mentee, who's having a hard time.
4:30 p.m. — I take a quick nap because I finished my work for the day early. I set an alarm so I wake up in time to call my friend in an hour. It turns out she and the guy she was interested in (but wished she wasn't interested in) have officially ended things. I tell her how amazing she is and that it's his loss. We also set up an in-person Bachelor watch session for next week.
6 p.m. — I watch Love Is Blind Japan with a glass of red wine while checking emails intermittently. Many people are different in real life than they were in the pods. I eat leftover olive oil cake and leftover chips and salsa.
8:45 p.m. — I put the empty pizza box into the recycling bin, empty the trash, and set both the recycling and trash out by the curb for trash day tomorrow. I organize my room a little bit, take a shower, and do my nightly routine. I hand wash the water glasses, clean the guinea pigs' cage, change their water, and give them fresh food. Then I put on my sound machine to the rain setting, light a white tea candle, and chill in bed. I read news articles until I fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:58 a.m. — I have an early morning meeting, so I wake up a few minutes before the meeting starts and then do my morning routine when it ends. I check and respond to emails, prepare for my presentations, and respond to questions about our upcoming release.
11:30 a.m. — I finish my morning meetings, and my presentation went super well! I get the sign-off I need from our director, which is conditional on making a couple of changes he suggested, and he is pleased with all the progress we've made on the product! I reheat leftover duck and French fries for lunch and take my vitamin D while watching Broad City and reading news articles.
1 p.m. — Back at it again with back-to-back to back meetings. I multitask during these meetings and let the various workstream leads know about the requested code changes. I reach out to the individual developers who will be coding the changes, make sure they have the most up-to-date mock-ups, create the necessary work items, and send a follow-up to the stakeholders about the decisions made in the earlier meeting, the plan for implementing those changes, and the compressed timeline. The last-minute changes are doable, but there's a misunderstanding on the architecture of one of the requested changes between the engineer and the engineering lead that I have to iron out.
2:20 p.m. — My last meeting ends early, so I take the empty trash and recycling bins back into my garage and leave to pick up my friend who lives with me, D., from the airport. She's coming back from her vacation on the east coast. I factor in time to get gas, which I desperately need, and pump at the cheapest place near me. The difference is $0.70! $36.46
3:25 p.m. — Pick up D., and we catch up on everything during the car ride back.
4:15 p.m. — Make it home and check emails. I hear back from partners, update the architecture accordingly, check in with the engineers, and update my presentation deck with all of the changes that are happening. I also eat dark chocolate–caramel squares for a snack. After all my work is finished, I take a nap.
6:20 p.m. — I wake up from my nap and watch Love Is Blind Brazil. I message intermittently with my mentee to give her more work advice while making a grocery list and sending applicable coupons to my store rewards card using the Fred Meyer app.
9:10 p.m. — I take a shower and do my nightly routine. I chill in bed again reading articles after lighting my candle. Before I fall asleep, I wash the water glass I used, clean the guinea pigs' cage and feed them, and then get back in bed. My eye is practically back to normal! I fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $36.46

Day Four

9:40 a.m. — I wake up and do my typical morning routine. Then I check my work email and pings and get a request from my director for a meeting in about an hour and a half. I get nervous and create an agenda for our meeting so I can lead the discussion and have things to talk about regarding the work I've been doing. I also update work items based on progress and answer engineers and partner teams wanting more details on our product updates.
11:58 a.m. — The meeting with my director goes well! Turns out he just wanted to check in to see how things are going and give me positive feedback. I eat lobster risotto leftovers with vitamin D for lunch and watch Love Is Blind Brazil. In my personal email, I see an invite to a free college alumni event happening downtown, so I register S. and myself. We met senior year of college but didn't start officially dating until a couple of years after we graduated. I also see in my email that the rest of my tax forms have been posted from the last brokerage I sold stock through. I start to manually type all the stocks that were sold and information about them, but see that there are way too many pages of content so I decide to import them tomorrow instead.
1:07 p.m. — It's back to work, though I watch Broad City while working until I need to do some focus detail-oriented work. I then have a meeting to align with an engineering lead and start drafting some documentation for our feature.
4:40 p.m. — I take a quick shower, do my nightly routine, then keep working on the documentation until S. comes over.
5:15 p.m. — S. arrives and we catch up while he starts a load of laundry. He then takes a long bath while I do some more work and respond to a few more emails. I watch Love Is Blind Brazil and look to see if any more grocery store coupons were added. S. and I then watch Jeen-yuhs, which ends up being a time capsule of simpler times. He transfers the clothes into the dryer.
7:30 p.m. — We realize we still need to get groceries so we head out. I buy jasmine rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, chickpeas, avocados, French bread, eggs, a Kid Cuisine meal, frozen chicken nuggets, salted butter, sour cream, frozen spanakopita, and DCT lip balm. S. gets his own groceries, including a few frozen dinners, bacon, and bath salts. $55.42
8:30 p.m. — We get back, put the groceries away, eat our respective frozen dinners, and finish the documentary. Kid Cuisine is so much smaller and less seasoned than I remembered, but I was feeling nostalgic and hungry at the grocery store so here we are.
10:20 p.m. — S. goes to sleep, so I clean and feed the guinea pigs. Then I watch a bit of The Gilded Age, which is a bland but easy watch that's easy to get sleepy to. I also check my work email to make sure nothing has come up so I can sleep in more than normal tomorrow. I go to sleep at 11:30.
Daily Total: $55.42

Day Five

10:10 a.m. — It's Friday, Friday (iykyk). S. is already gone for work when I wake up. I make sure I didn't miss any important emails or pings on my phone, then I do my morning routine. I check the progress on the engineering work I manage, make sure the right people are included in my meetings next week, answer questions, and research the additional dependencies I'm now managing because I'm taking over for a coworker while he's out next week. Then I finish importing the documents I need to complete my taxes.
12:25 p.m. — Filed tax returns and I am getting a refund!! I make avocado toast with tomatoes, onions, and lemon juice for lunch and watch Joe Millionaire. I have a soft spot for reality TV. I get back to work in an hour while watching in the background.
2 p.m. — Work is extremely slow due to no meeting Friday, so I close my laptop and keep watching Joe Millionnaire. I'll be checking for pings and emails on my phone every so often until later tonight. My roommate ends up taking a break from work and she comes out to join me and watch some TV while she works.
4:50 p.m. — I quickly shower and do my nightly routine. I eat some French bread as a snack and then call my parents for our weekly call. I update them about my life and hear funny stories from them about work mishaps and neighborhood drama.
5:45 p.m. — S. comes in right as I'm wrapping up my call with them. We cuddle and catch up and watch Love Is Blind Brazil.
6:55 p.m. — I make and eat some frozen chicken nuggets while S. takes a bath with his new bath salts. When he gets out of the bath we watch Love Is Blind and the new Ali Wong special together, which is insanely hilarious.
8:35 p.m. — S. plays an online computer game with a new friend of his while I watch Love Is Blind Brazil. He makes me some bacon in the microwave with some toast as a snack.
10:10 p.m. — I do my nightly skin routine and feed and clean the guinea pigs before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

11:17 a.m. — I wake up before S. and read on my phone until I decide to wake him up.
12:30 p.m. — I wake S. up and we chill and cuddle together until he leaves to get himself coffee. I do my morning routine and make myself some avocado toast for brunch. S. comes back and I eat my avocado toast while he makes me a scrambled egg and an egg sandwich on toast for himself.
2 p.m. — S. cleans the dishes, starts the dishwasher, and leaves to drop off his dry cleaning and pick up my anniversary gift to him (a mic stand) with my credit card from Guitar Center. He wanted to pick out the right equipment in person and I'm too lazy to go with him. I watch some random things on Netflix while he's gone, then I start craving ice cream so I text S. to get me some Cold Stone Creamery ice cream with my card on his way back. $148.59
6:30 p.m. — My roommate gets home from work and watches The Bachelor with me while she cooks her dinner and eats.
7:15 p.m. — S. gets back with the Cold Stone ice cream (sweet cream with oreos mixed in) but charged his own credit card as a treat to thank me for his new mic stand. He also bought himself a thick burrito from Qdoba and chips and queso. I eat the ice cream plus a healthy helping of his chips and queso.
9:45 p.m. — I shower and do my nightly routine while S. plays Skyrim. Then S. takes a bath as I empty the dishwasher and feed and clean guinea pigs. S. comes out of the bath, puts the dirty dishes in the sink in the dishwasher, puts the recycling away, and sets the alarm.
11:15 p.m. — Sleep time!
Daily Total: $148.59

Day Seven

7:33 a.m. — I have today off but S. has to work. He leaves while I sleep in.
11 a.m. — I wake up and lounge in bed for an hour before starting my morning routine, taking a shower, and organizing a few things around the house.
1 p.m. — I leave for CVS to pick up some household items I needed, but they're out of the two things I need most: toilet paper and gloves. I end up buying two bottles of vitamin D, cocoa butter lotion, dish soap, multiple body washes, paper plates, and Downy Unstoppables. Then I drive to meet my friend for late lunch at a cute outdoor shopping plaza near where she lives. $83.47
1:50 p.m. — I get there a few minutes early so I put my name on the waitlist (they don't take reservations ahead of time) and go to Williams Sonoma for warmth. She meets me there and brings me a mango Mai Tai candle from Bath & Body Works that she got while shopping yesterday, which is so sweet! We look around the store until it's our time to eat at the ramen place we love. I order tonkatsu ramen and a slice of cake. After we eat ramen, she gets bubble tea next door, and we both head out. Next on my list is Fred Meyer to pick up what I didn't get from CVS. $36.55
5:20 p.m. — I make it to Fred Meyer and buy gloves and toilet paper, which are each $16.50. The gloves will be refunded by work because we get $1,500 each year to spend on physical, financial, and spiritual wellness. $16.50
6 p.m. — I get home and S. is streaming while playing guitar, but he pauses to help me carry down groceries. I unpack them, take a shower, do my nightly routine, and watch some Bob's Burgers. We end up watching the Theranos documentary on HBO together.
8:40 p.m. — My roommate gets home, and S. ends up craving a milkshake from Cold Stone so I create a rewards profile online, and there's a BOGO free coupon! He quickly drives to get a cookies and cream milkshake for himself and gets me another sweet cream with Oreo mixed in for free and is back within 10 minutes.
11 p.m. — I clean the guinea pigs' cage, feed them, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $136.52
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