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A Week In Palm Springs, CA, On A $58,240 Salary

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Today: A resident doctor working in healthcare who makes $58,240 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Greek salad.
Occupation: Resident doctor
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 29
Location: Palm Springs, CA
Salary: $58,240
Net Worth: -$254,294 (checking: $1,357, HYSA: $6,929, Roth IRA: $3,367. I live with my partner, but we don’t share finances. We trade off buying groceries and split large joint purchases and meals.)
Debt: $265,947 (in federal student loans)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,171.29
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 (my landlord is a friend, so they give me a deal).
Student Loans: $0 (My payments were paused after graduation because of COVID-19. For the next year, they will be $0 with SAVE).
Internet: $25 (for my half)
Phone: $0 (I’m on my dad’s plan. I have offered to switch over but he’s continuing to pay for now.)
Car Insurance: $0 (My mom gifted me her car when she got a new one and just finished paying off her loan. She’s transferring the title to me, and I will start paying insurance next month).
Peloton App: $22 (for my half)
Spotify: $10.99
Apple iCloud: $2.99
Amazon Prime: $7.53
Netflix: $6.99
Health Insurance: $0 (Covered California)
Savings & Roth IRA: ~$350 (Whatever is leftover from my month’s expenses, which I meticulously track on a spreadsheet. The average for this year was $250 to my Roth IRA and $100 to my HYSA. Next year, I will max out my Roth IRA first because I have plenty in my savings for emergencies.)

Annual Expenses
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens Membership: $75 (my half)

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, it wasn’t really a question. My grandmother had a fund for my higher education, and I remember her telling me I could go to any school I wanted to. I went to a public school out of state, and everything was paid for, including tuition, supplies, rent, and even an allowance. I worked as a barista for the last couple of years for extra spending money. I wasn’t expected to go back to school for a higher degree, but I felt totally at a loss graduating with a degree in biology. I took out federal student loans for medical school and honestly try not to think about them too much. I’m happy that, under the new rules, paying the minimum means no more interest is added.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We had no conversations about money. When I was a senior in high school, my mom explained that her side of the family has a trust that is very substantial.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got a job at the Sanrio store in the mall a few days a week at age 16 for extra spending money and because I thought the work experience would look good on future résumés.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not that I can remember. My mom was a receptionist, and my dad worked in sales. My mom started receiving money from the trust when my grandmother died while I was away at college, and finances really seemed to change at that point. My mom stopped working and has lived entirely off the dividends from the trust.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. My student loans are laughably large, and I don’t really have the motivation or energy right now to hustle and substantially increase my income, which is possible but very hard work in my profession. I’m comfortable right now because my rent is so low, but I haven’t been able to cut my spending and save as much as I want. My retirement fund is low due to being in school for so long. My partner is still working on increasing his income. I don’t see how we’ll ever have money for retirement, kids, or buying a house. I’ve been logging every expense for the past year, and it definitely increased my money worries without causing a substantial shift in my spending habits.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’ve never been fully financially responsible. My mom recently gave me her car and still pays for the insurance, and my dad pays my phone bill. I try not to feel guilty about these things and practice gratitude. I’ve moved in with both of my parents at various times since graduating from undergrad and know that I could move in with either of them if I needed to.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I receive $500 per quarter as a dividend from the trust. I know we will split what my mom currently gets when she passes, but I try to live my life without expecting this. I’ve already benefited immensely from this trust through gifts, vacations, education, and much more.

Day One

2:30 a.m. — My insomnia strikes again, as it does most nights at this time, and I’m pretty sure it’s blood sugar related (I have lean PCOS). I’m wide awake and have hunger pains. I force myself to grab a protein bar from the kitchen and lay there (on and off reading my Kindle) until my partner, C.’s, alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m.
6:30 a.m. — He leaves for work, and I set my alarm for 8 a.m. Surprisingly, I fall back asleep until then.

8 a.m. — I feed my cats, throw on scrubs, and do my skincare: wash face with cold water, then apply an Exuviance Vitamin C Serum Capsule, The VanMan Tallow & Honey Balm as moisturizer, and SuperGoop! CC Screen 100% Mineral CC Cream SPF 50 to even my redness. I still look so tired. I try to make some cottage cheese and eggs, but they nauseate me.
8:45 a.m. — I rush out the door and commute to a country club where I moonlight once a week. Once there, I make myself coffee and grab protein balls, trail mix, and a hard-boiled egg, which are all free where I’m working. In between patients, I check my email and see a reminder for a coupon code for a Build Your Own Conspiracy Theory magnet kit that I saved to get for C. for Christmas. I love having a bunch of fun, unexpected things under the tree. $27.54
11:30 a.m. — I pack up and head to Panera to see if some carbs can settle my stomach. I get the You Pick Two salad and sandwich with a cold brew. The price is shocking ($19.11), but the food helps me feel a little better. I vow to meal prep next week, as I have done every week for the past year. $19.11
12:30 p.m. — I’ve been putting off getting an oil change for a few weeks, so I use my extended lunch today to go to Jiffy Lube. I get full synthetic oil, and the price has definitely gone up since earlier this year. $127.38
1 p.m. — That was quick! I’m back at the clinic and I settle in to do some admin stuff before seeing patients.
5 p.m. — I’m done with the day and drive home listening to StraightioLab. I’m so exhausted when I get home, I decide today’s not the day to get back on track with working out. I change into comfies and collapse into my big chair for the rest of the evening. C. makes me soup and refills my wine glass. We watch Bad Santa.
9:30 p.m. — I migrate to bed and read some of China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. I’m too tired to do my skincare or brush my teeth. I take a sleeping pill and pray I don’t wake up at night.
Daily Total: $174.03

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up to C.’s alarm. Yay, I slept through the night! I’m super groggy from the sleeping pill and I definitely started my period. I lay in bed for an hour and cuddle with the cats instead of getting up for my walk.
8 a.m. — I shower to wash my hair, then do a quick blowdry and skincare. I make frozen Trader Joe’s steel-cut oats with peanut butter and Greek yogurt to try and keep my blood sugar stable (it’s hard to get down). I tidy the kitchen and throw away some old food in the fridge. I’m rushing out the door at 9:15 a.m.
9:50 a.m. — Seated at my desk, I have distracting cramps so I take ibuprofen. We hired a mobile car detailing guy to come wash our cars this morning, so I’m excited to see what it looks like at lunch. Living in the desert, my car gets really dirty and I never wash it. $50
12 p.m. — Since I haven’t gotten my car keys back, I go for a little walk to pick up lunch and bring it back for my meeting. I get a carnitas-stuffed quesadilla from El Pollo Loco and am back by 12:30 p.m. It’s so good. $9.89
5 p.m. — I head to a little bar that’s next to a sewing studio where C. and I are taking a beginner’s sewing class. I wait for C. and kill time having a happy hour glass of wine and the soup of the day (steak poivre, it’s divine). C. arrives, and we have a few more rounds and socialize. Someone pays for one of our rounds, and I pay for the rest. $30.50
7:30 p.m. — We make it over to our sewing class and have a blast assembling our pajama pants while tipsy.
8:45 p.m. — Of course, we need one more drink at the bar next door, then we get McDonald’s on the way home. C. pays.
Daily Total: $90.39

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I’m awake and have a headache. I can already tell I won’t fall back asleep. I try not to be too hard on myself because we’ve cut down on going out a lot since moving to the desert, and we had a really good time last night. I chug water, take Excedrin, lay back down and hope for the best.
7:30 a.m. — C. wakes up, and I force us to go for our morning walk that we’ve been skipping for the past two weeks after getting sick. It’s such a beautiful morning, and even though I don’t feel good, I’m so happy we’re outside.
8 a.m. — I make steel-cut oats, let my cats run around outside, quickly get ready, and get out the door by 9 a.m., drinking a Celsius on the way to work.
9:30 a.m. — I do a little bit of patient care and a lot of prepping for some training and events we have off site. By the time lunch rolls around, I’m STARVING.
12:30 p.m. — I head to my favorite sandwich shop with my coworker on our way to our off-site training. I’m so hungry I splurge on a sandwich, soup, mac salad, and a cold brew. $20.38
4:15 p.m. — I’m done with the training, and I have some time to kill before I’m meeting up with some foster kittens I’m taking home! I stop at Grocery Outlet, my favorite store, and get snacks, frozen breakfast foods, salad dressing, baby romaine, cereal, and mini ice cream sandwiches, along with some nice chocolates to add to Christmas gifts. I’m shocked by the price, but my pantry is empty, and I needed to get stuff like this. $78.53
5:30 p.m. — I pick up the three foster kittens and am instantly in love. They are six weeks old and were just found so I’m told they will hiss and spit when I try to pick them up but hopefully will “turn” in a day or so. The person at the foster organization tells me I can always drop them back off with her if they get to be too much.
6:20 p.m. — Back home, I set up the kittens in our guest room in their playpen, and C. and I wrap them up in little rags and stroke their heads. I can’t believe how small they are! I make a HelloFresh meal for dinner and then pass out watching a movie.
Daily Total: $98.91

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Awake and so happy to not have a headache. We lie in bed and watch TikToks on C.’s phone for way too long, but it’s Friday, so I cut us some slack. When I finally get up, I immediately go feed the kittens and let them run around the guest room. They all find corners to hide in, and it’s very hard to get them back in their playpen. C. feeds our two neglected adult cats.
8:30 a.m. — After a LONG workout hiatus, I get on the Peloton (paid off last month!) and do a 30-minute full-body bootcamp. It’s tough but it feels so good to be back. Then, more playing with the kittens.
9:30 a.m. — I make coffee and heat up a frozen breakfast sandwich I got that isn’t half bad with some Frank’s RedHot sauce. I put on scrubs, do my skincare, pack snacks, and get out the door. I have a longer commute today but a much shorter shift.
11 a.m. — I arrive at the off-site shift and settle into computer work. I see I forgot to cancel HelloFresh after using up all my discounted boxes, and my card has been charged for next week. Even though it’s more than I normally want to spend, I’m not too mad about it because grocery prices have gone up, and the stress these boxes save me is well worth it. I also see my friend signed up using my code so I get $60 off the next box, yay! $70
1:30 p.m. — I eat some of my packed snacks and grab a cold brew at the café. $5.12
3 p.m. — I commute home and immediately play with the kittens while drinking a glass of wine. Suddenly, it’s 4:30 p.m., and we need to leave ASAP for a C.’s work Christmas party. I put on a sweater with festive Christmas pins and red and green bows in my hair.
5:30 p.m. — We arrive at the party and do a paint ‘n sip class. I’m sipping and haven’t had dinner, so things get bubbly pretty quickly. After the class, we have an amazing dinner and continue playing drinking games.
10 p.m. — We go to a local dive bar, I buy a couple drinks for us in cash, and at some point C. takes us home. I fall asleep in the room with the kittens way, way too late considering I have an event for work in the morning. $30
Daily Total: $105.12

Day Five

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I’m not ready to start this day. My eyes are all red from staying up late and sleeping in the kitten room. I'm working an event this morning, representing my clinic. I somehow get dressed and chug a bunch of water and make it out the door only 15 minutes late.
7:45 a.m. — I arrive at the event I'm working. When I have a quick break, I walk over to Starbucks for a bagel and peppermint mocha. I can barely eat any of the bagel, but I somehow make it through the morning. $11.05
11:45 a.m. — I head out a little early to go to my lash lift and tint appointment. I’m so nauseated laying there with my eyes closed for an hour and a half with the fumes, hangover, and lack of sleep. My lashes look stunning, though. This is a special treat I do a couple of times of year and it makes me feel so pretty. It usually lasts about two months. I actually had a gift card from my boss but forgot it (due to the hangover). It’s okay. I’ll treat myself to a facial or save it for the next time. $120
1 p.m. — I stop to get gas on the way home. I’ve been driving on empty all day. $62.92
1:30 p.m. — I finally make it home and feed the kittens. I proceed to collapse in bed and fail to take a nap. I have four hours until I need to get ready for my work holiday dinner. C. and I watch The Curse, and I try to eat some of the In-N-Out he brought home for me. I take an hour-and-a-half bath while scrolling through reels. I really try to limit my scrolling, but hangovers require thoughtless activities.
5:45 p.m. — I quickly get dressed in a red dress with tights and red shoes (festive to cover up how unwell I feel). On the drive there, I feel nauseated, but once we arrive and sit down, I pull myself together. I have bread and butter (and a gin and tonic) and that helps.
10 p.m. — Finally home. More kitten time, then fall into bed without taking off my makeup (again) or brushing my teeth (again).
Daily Total: $193.97

Day Six

9 a.m. — Hooray! I slept through the night and wake up feeling like a human. I spend the morning drinking coffee and taking care of neglected chores and repenting for my nights of fun this week. I do dishes, laundry, tidy piles of things around the house, and take breaks to play with kittens. They’re finally warming up.
12 p.m. — I break to eat my beef stroganoff leftovers from last night and continue organizing and cleaning until I physically can’t any more. It seems like the cleaning and the dishes and the laundry will never end, and I guess that’s pretty much true in life.
3 p.m. — C. and I need to do something fun so we go to The Living Desert for an hour power walk. We have annual passes ($150 for both of us), so it’s a fun “free” activity for the afternoon, and I love looking at the animals.
4:30 p.m. — Another treat: We browse the thrift store. I end up with four Christmas mugs and a Christmas cat statue ($11.25, housewares on sale!) along with a cute red puffer jacket ($11). $22.25
5:15 p.m. — We stop at Whole Foods for yet another treat. I decide I need vegetables to further repent (and because I like them) so I get a giant Greek salad at the bar along with a giant glass of red wine. After C. is done shopping for a few things, he joins me and grabs a beer. I pay. $30
6 p.m. — Final stop. We browse Nordstrom Rack next door for gifts, presumably. After trying on all the designer platform heels in my size for fun, we’re almost out the door. I see cream canvas cargo pants by Joe’s and decide to try them on. I’ve gained some healthy weight and truly do not have any pants that fit me right and look good. I like them a lot but feel guilty about the price ($97.30). I decide I’ll buy them and take them home and see if I can make some cute outfits with them. We also get wiener dog wrapping paper ($5) at the checkout stand. $102.30
7:30 p.m. — I make a HelloFresh meal of chicken curry but somehow ruin the rice. We eat it with garlic bread and start a Christmas movie, but I decide to take an edible and play with the kittens instead.
9:30 p.m. — In bed and pass out after reading three pages on my Kindle.
Daily Total: $154.55

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Monday. I slept well but can’t bring myself to get out of bed and do my morning routine. The cats are extra cuddly when it’s cold.
8 a.m. — I get up, make coffee, and feed the kittens and play with them. I have a minor panic because only one scrub top is dry, so I throw a top and bottom in the dryer and hope they’ll be done in the next 20 minutes. I do the rest of my getting ready, and luckily they’re dry in time. I’m out the door by 9 a.m.
9:40 a.m. — I arrive at work and settle down at my desk for a busy day. My appetite is really low, but I can tell not eating is making me tired and anxious.
12:30 p.m. — I drive to get soup because it’s the only thing that sounds good. I can’t finish it. $10
5:15 p.m. — I feel much better after lunch and have a productive afternoon. I head home and promise myself I’ll work out.
6 p.m. — At home, I hop on the Peloton for a 45-minute bootcamp class. I push myself really hard, have a blast, and get some endorphins. C. goes grocery shopping and makes us beef tacos and a rice side dish.
7:15 p.m. — I hop in the shower, then sit down with a glass of wine and a podcast to fold the four loads of laundry we did on Sunday.
8:45 p.m. — I cannot believe I’ve been folding laundry for over an hour and I’m still not done. I give up when I see my two new pairs of scrubs have got dime-sized stains all over them due to ChapStick left in the pocket. Yup, I’m done with this for the night. I play with the kittens until it’s time for bed but am still frustrated and overwhelmed when I go to bed. I’m so ready for the holidays to be over and to get into the new-year-new-me mentality.
Daily Total: $10

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