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A Week In Chicago, IL, On A $62,000 Salary

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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 resident physician who makes $62,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bottle of wine.
Occupation: Resident Physician
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 27
Location: Chicago, IL
Salary: $62,000
Net Worth: Roughly -$134,000 (403(b): $6,000, investments: $2,600, Roth IRA: $10,580, checking $7,600, savings $6,800 minus debt)
Debt: $154,000 (medical school loans)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,819
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,158 (This includes gas/water/sewage. I live alone and get income-controlled housing based on my salary.)
Electric: $30
Internet: $49
Spotify: $10.79
YouTube Premium: $3.50
Transit Card: $75
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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?
Absolutely. My parents are both immigrants and emphasized the privilege it was to get an education in the States. Neither of my parents got degrees in America and they both work very labor-heavy jobs. They were adamant that my sister and I get at least undergraduate degrees and encouraged graduate degrees. My parents worked about 12 hours a day, six days a week when I was growing up so they could afford to pay for college for both me and my sister. We went to the same very pricey private university (approx. $65,000/year). I sometimes wonder if this was the right move looking back since going to a public university would have saved a lot of money, especially since I went for a medical degree right out of school.
When I decided to pursue medicine, I took out loans to pay for medical school since my parents paid for undergrad. My medical school was also quite expensive ($50,000/year). My family and extended family helped pay for one year of school as a graduation gift and the rest I took out as loans for the next three years. I plan on completing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which means I will work for a public hospital for 10 years. If I complete all my loan payments during that time (120 payments in total), the loans that are remaining get wiped away.
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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We did not have many conversations about money. I knew that we were not rich growing up and had to be cognizant of spending, but we never had any issues with food or housing insecurity from my knowledge. I had my first job when I was 16 and worked through college for personal spending money because I did not want to take away from family funds. My parents have investments and talked about stocks over dinner, but we never got any formal education about finances or how to invest/budget money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a library for minimum wage at the age of 16. I was a volunteer there for two years prior to getting the job.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I always heard stories from my parents about how they came to this country with nothing and worked hard to make it where they are in life. I knew that my parents worked long hours for not that much pay to be able to afford our home, meals, and clothes, so I naturally felt pressure to be able to have a higher income potential than they did, given their sacrifices for my education. My parents managed their finances very closely and taught us never to have any debt, which has made me more risk-/debt-averse in my adult life. I knew growing up that I wanted to make enough money for myself, but also for my parents if I needed to care for them in the future.
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Do you worry about money now?
Yes, almost every day. As a resident physician, I am working upwards of 80 hours a week on certain rotations and, when it averages out, I am making about minimum wage. I live in a high-cost-of-living city and I'm just scraping by some weeks with little or no savings. I realistically won't be making the “doctor income” that people think about for another five years, so I plan on living very cost-consciously until then. Our income raises are only about $2,000 per year of training (we do not get bonuses), so there aren't any big paydays coming my way any time soon.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At age 26, when I entered residency. Residency is my first real full-time job since I went straight through college and then to medical school. I think that my parents would help me if I was in a pinch, but I would feel guilty burdening them financially.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received $10,000 after graduating medical school from my family/extended family and plan on using this to help pay for parts of my rent every month through residency/fellowship.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and am still feeling the effects of the past week. I had a nine-hour “practice boards” exam yesterday and met up with friends after so I am mentally exhausted.
8:45 a.m. — I make some Vietnamese-style coffee in the morning and do some stretches. I spend the rest of the morning cleaning and working on some research projects.
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12:30 p.m. — I head over to brunch with my boyfriend, K., and his parents. We catch up about their recent travels and chat for a bit. K.'s dad pays for the meal.
3 p.m. — I grab some laundry detergent, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies from the pharmacy on my way home before work. $25.50
3:30 p.m. — I quickly exercise at my building gym to get my movement for the day. The gym in my building has everything I need for cardio and strength training, which is a nice perk so I can avoid monthly gym fees. I take a quick shower and power nap.
5:45 p.m. — I eat some leftover gnocchi and pack my bag for work. I'm doing an overnight shift, so I make sure to bring my toiletries as well.
6:40 p.m. — I ride my bike to the hospital for my moonlighting shift. I picked up this extra shift for some extra money that's going to help pay for weddings I'm attending next month. I grab a nighttime snack from the vending machine. $2
7 p.m. — I start my shift and answer any pages or calls from the staff for patients at the hospital. I'm the only overnight resident on call for this department and I get paged about every hour or so with questions or new issues that happen, so there isn't much sleep tonight.
Daily Total: $27.50

Day Two

7 a.m. — My moonlighting shift officially ends and the day team of doctors arrives. I brief them of any events overnight and leave to grab a quick coffee and breakfast at Starbucks before my morning clinic and then see my patients. $9.64
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12 p.m. — I head over to the lecture auditorium for our noon didactic sessions where we go through a case and the workup of a rare disease. They give us pita wraps for lunch during this lecture.
1 p.m. — I only have a half day today — yay! I bike back home, take a quick hour-long nap at the pool in my building, and then work out at the gym. I catch up on some emails after.
6 p.m. — It's reality TV night with my friends so I grab a bottle of wine and make my way over to my friend's apartment. My friend pays for dinner since I got the drinks. $21.04
10 p.m. — I head home and finish up the night with a face mask and some Netflix right before I head to bed.
Daily Total: $30.68

Day Three

7 a.m. — My cat wakes me up with her need for cuddling today. It's super cute but very inconvenient when I want to catch up on sleep. I do some chores around the house while I drink my coffee and eat a granola bar for breakfast.
9 a.m. — I go down to the gym to go spinning and lift then head to the grocery store to pick up fruits and veggies since my fridge is looking sad and empty. $32.44
10:45 a.m. — No clinic for me today, as it's the last day of my community health rotation. I meet with my preceptor to review the rotation — I've spent the last two weeks working with organizations in the community learning about issues causing health disparities.
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2 p.m. — I have two research meetings and then spend the rest of the day doing work.
6:30 p.m. — I cook some Hong Kong-style pan-fried noodles at home and call my co-resident for sign out. I start a new rotation tomorrow and we always call each other to talk about the patients we're taking over for a smooth transition.
8:30 p.m. — I read up on my new patients and then read a book while doing a face mask.
10:30 p.m. — Bedtime for an early start tomorrow!
Daily Total: $32.44

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — I almost forgot how much I hate waking up at 6. I drag myself out of bed and quickly get ready, pack my bag, and bike to work.
7 a.m. — Officially on the clock! I'm working on the observation unit, which is a section of the hospital for patients who require more work-up, but are expected to leave after one or two days and can't stay in the ED. I am taking care of six patients. I review everything that happened overnight and see all of them. It's busy this morning and I forget to eat breakfast.
9 a.m. — I meet with my attending physician and present my plan for each patient. I start working on making everything happen — changing medications, calling consults, and looking at labs accordingly. I work on the discharges for two patients so they can leave soon and then transfer one patient to the medical floors since they need to stay for a few more days.
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11 a.m. — I learn that $10,000 of my loans will be forgiven! Ten-second dance break in my chair and then back to work. My loans will now drop to $144,000 after forgiveness.
2 p.m. — I run to the cafeteria and buy a BLT then head back to my workroom to work on discharging a patient. $8.80
4:30 p.m. — FINALLY, done. I started the day with six patients and left with none (which means I get six new patients tomorrow). I bike home.
6:30 p.m. — I meet K. and his brother and sister-in-law for dinner. We head to the Leon Bridges concert after. K. got the tickets, so I buy our dinner and get one drink. $63.78
10:45 p.m. — I'm tired after the show and try to get to bed soon.
Daily Total: $72.58

Day Five

6:20 a.m. — Same morning routine. I pull myself out of bed and head out the door within 20 minutes.
7 a.m. — Start of the day! I have six new patients to care for today, so I try to review all of their information in the morning and check in on all of them.
9 a.m. — Meeting with my attending now and running through my plans for everyone. I start making some phone calls to specialists and working on my notes. I grab a coffee to fuel up for another long day. $3
12 p.m. — Our didactics got canceled today, but the residency program still gives us food. Taco Thursday! I grab the tacos and head back to the workroom to finish up some work. I get called into a patient room about every hour and go to check on everyone.
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4 p.m. — I get to sign out to the night team. Feeling very tired after another busy day at work and I bike home. Unfortunately, my day doesn't end here. I work on a couple of discharge summary notes at home and write out my schedule for the next couple of months.
6:30 p.m. — I make rice with tomato and eggs for dinner and catch up on some shows.
8 p.m. — I do nighttime yoga to unwind and then shower.
9 p.m. — Time for bed! I meditate to de-stress.
Daily Total: $3

Day Six

6:20 a.m. — I don't deviate from my morning routine and rush out the door. I take the subway to work since it's raining.
7 a.m. — The great thing about medicine is that while nothing is predictable when it comes to patients, the general schedule is always the same. I do my normal routine at work.
12 p.m. — The free food today from the hospital administration is drumroll…. sandwiches and ice cream!
5 p.m. — The same routine of the day, I finish all my work and sign out. Instead of going home, I head to K.'s place.
6 p.m. — There's a local street festival happening near his apartment, so we meet up with some of my co-residents and grab dinner and walk around. I pay for the entrance fee and K. pays for the food. $14
7:45 p.m. — We are back at K.'s apartment. His dog has been having some issues with her paws, so I order dog socks for her to help her heal and a calendar for myself. $32.48
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8 p.m. — We pick a movie and share ice cream and wine.
10:15 p.m. — Bedtime!
Daily Total: $46.48

Day Seven

6:35 a.m. — I sleep in a little longer than usual, but it's okay because K. lives closer to the hospital than I do. I bike to work as always.
7 a.m. — You know the routine, checking in on all the patients and reviewing overnight events.
7:40 a.m. — An emergency bell rings and I run over. Looks like a patient is getting sicker and we stabilize them for now. They need to be transferred to the ICU and we make that happen. The rest of the morning is more rushed as a result.
1 p.m. — It's the weekend now so I get to leave early if I finish my work faster! The workflow is easier now that I'm a few days in, so the day goes by quickly.
1:30 p.m. — I pick up a salad on my way home from work and eat that outside for lunch at a park nearby. $13.75
2:30 p.m. — Back home to do some chores and all the things I put off for the week! I try to designate one day to do my laundry, water my plants, and clean.
6 p.m. — I head over to K.'s place to give him some of my good luck for his fantasy football draft. This is “our” team this year, but he's probably going to manage most of it. We split a pizza that he ordered.
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8:30 p.m. — We catch up about our week and talk about the plans for next week. We start a movie to end our day.
Daily Total: $13.75
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