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A Week In Portland, OR, On A $250,000 Salary

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Today: a senior attorney who makes $250,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on mozzarella sticks.
Occupation: Senior Attorney
Industry: Start-up
Age: 35
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $250,000
Net Worth: $404,000 ($100,000 in 401(k), $130,000 home equity [$375,000 value - $245,000 mortgage], $9,000 in HSA, $145,000 in stocks & ETFs/mutual funds, $20,000 emergency fund)
Debt: $245,000 mortgage
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $5,500
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,460
Utilities: $100
HOA: $350
DirecTV: $35
Hulu/Spotify: $10
Car Insurance: $450 (every six months)
Gym Membership: $25
WSJ: $8
Charities: $1,000 ($500 goes to the church, $500 goes to various non-profits)
Annual Expenses:
Amex Platinum: $695
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, there was always an expectation for me to attend college and it was strongly suggested that I attend some form of professional/grad school. Although there was this expectation, I understood that I would be paying for it. My parents struggled financially for most of my younger years, so I assumed that college would be my responsibility, which it was. I had a scholarship but it covered only a portion of the cost, so I took out partial loans for undergrad and the full amount for law school. I thought most people (who didn't come from money) took out loans, so it wasn't strange to do so.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't have any conversations about money. I asked my mother a few years ago why we didn't and she laughingly said, "We had none, there was nothing to talk about!" My mother mentioned a few times that she would show my siblings and me the household budget, but she never followed through with it. I knew they struggled with spending within their means and with credit card debt, and there were a few times that bills weren't paid (water off, lights off). I largely attribute my scarcity mindset to my childhood plus the fact that I graduated during the Great Recession.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was McDonald's ($6/hr). I loved it! I was a drive-thru cashier and liked my coworkers and managers. The only downside was smelling like fried food for hours a day.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. I was acutely aware that we only had the bare necessities and struggled with more than that. My mom and dad both have affluent siblings, so they doted on us growing up with trips, clothes, and gifts. I knew that my parents could not provide those things but that my aunts/uncles were in better financial positions to do so. Both sets of grandparents also helped out with school activities and other experiences.
Do you worry about money now?
Not really. This is mainly because my habits allow for breathing room. Even when I made significantly less money, I always had discretionary money because I realized that financial peace is invaluable. I also can't be bothered to budget, so my one rule of thumb is to keep my fixed expenses as low as possible. My home and car are suitable but not extravagant. This has been the case even as my income has increased. I have family that encourage me to "enjoy" my salary and relax, but I am genuinely satisfied with my current quality of life and I know that a more expensive car or home wouldn't change that. I have little splurges here and there (home furnishings, a Burberry trench coat), but I prefer having the flexibility to go a bit OTT one month then scale back rather than increase my expenses across the board.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
25, when I finished law school and got my first law job.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received $4,500 after a grandparent passed.

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up totally beat. I got back from Seattle at a decent time last night, but I still slept poorly. I was in Seattle for the day to hang out with a new guy, A.
9 a.m. — I have a very specific contract issue on my mind, so I first work on a redline and send some internal notes to my contracts manager. I then have a few internal work calls before remembering that I need to pay a few monthly bills.
10 a.m. — Still sluggish despite my morning black tea, so I head out to get a black coffee and a pastry. $6
2 p.m. — Pour an iced chai latte and begin some light, then heavy sexting with my four-year-long on/off situationship, S. We are very much off right now and I don't want to backtrack on that stance, but sexting really scratches an itch for me. It's like the steamy novels but with real people and actual scenarios. There is a -5% chance of me following through with these text messages. Find a quick “exit ramp” and end the conversation.
4 p.m. — Keep working on quarterly updates and get hungry. My favorite bakery now has extended hours, so I rush to get my favorite, grilled cheese on sourdough with the tomato relish. Yum. $10
6 p.m. — Finish up work and catch up on Abbott Elementary and Reasonable Doubt episodes. Later on, I drink spearmint tea to wind down. I added it into my nightly routine after reading that it helps with the hormone imbalances with PCOS (which I have). Whether or not it works, I enjoy the taste and ritual.
Daily Total: $16

Day Two

9 a.m. — My first call of the morning is a department call to discuss layoffs which makes me immediately annoyed. I am fortunate to have an emergency fund built up, but I hate how they are handling the situation. It's very sterile and reminds me of the George Clooney movie, Up in the Air. This is the second round of layoffs this year. The legal team was protected the first time, but now we will be a part of the cuts. Sigh.
12 p.m. — Talk to A. at lunch. I'm beginning to really like him and we discuss our upcoming weekend plans. He wants to see me again for more than just a day. I don't mind driving up and always love Seattle, but I hate driving in the rain and it's been rather wet the last week or so (no surprise for PNW). Hearing my reservations, he offers to fly me up (*cue “if he wanted to, he would”) or pay for the train ride, whichever I prefer. While it is very nice of him, I commit to driving and staying with him. It's still early so I'm not really comfortable sharing a bed. We discuss sleeping arrangements and the no-sex boundary and then move on to lighter subjects.
1 p.m. — Make a PB&J sandwich and have a green apple before resuming work.
5 p.m. — Finish up for the day and then have a vent session with a (trusted) coworker about the layoffs. The waiting game is the kicker. It's crazy to me that they're doing this right before the holidays.
8 p.m. — Order to go from a local healthy casual dining restaurant. I get their kale salad and then throw in some tortilla chips for good measure. $15
9 p.m. — Spearmint tea for nighttime.
Daily Total: $15

Day Three

7 a.m. — Roll over and realize that Vanguard did the automatic investing. I normally have three withdrawals set throughout the month, but I paused them until the EOY because I wanted to bulk up my E-fund given the recession and all the layoff talk. I have tried to reverse a pending withdrawal in the past to no avail, so I accept my fate. $1,500
9 a.m. — I am very passionate at our team meeting about the layoffs and my expectations with leadership during these layoffs. I then instantly regret speaking up and send my manager an IM acknowledging that my delivery may have been inappropriate, but my concerns remain (in actuality, my delivery was professional, yet direct, but these “dances” are necessary as a POC and a woman in corporate America). We have a quick call and he assures me that he had no issue with my comments (delivery or content) and that leadership had not considered the questions I raised. He's been my manager for four years and we've had a positive relationship throughout which is quite fortunate.
12 p.m. — Talk to A. at lunch again and I'm warm and tingly inside. I am savoring the honeymoon period. I make a warm chai latte and a bowl of oatmeal to match my cozy feeling.
5 p.m. — Make a sandwich with Morning Star Farms Buffalo Chick'n and do some chores around the house. I also apply to a bunch of jobs. I keep my resume quite current because I'm one of those people that is always applying to jobs whether or not I plan to leave. I've made it to the final rounds at two large companies this year. I didn't get the offer, but one of them was a FAANG/MANGA company that was quite brutal, but excellent practice. It seems I might need those skills very soon.
8 p.m. — Head to gym and sit in the sauna.
9 p.m. — Head to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials including chai concentrate, almond milk, chips, salsa, and oranges. $38.12
9.30 p.m. — Catch up on Love is Blind while eating a random snack of cottage cheese and BBQ kettle chips which is actually quite delicious. Cole and Zaynab don't seem well-matched but Brennan and Alexa are cute.
Daily Total: $1,538.12

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — All the layoff discussion has definitely affected my motivation. I'm getting manic swings between “why bother” and “prove your worth.” I get the day started with ginger tea.
11 a.m. — Hop on Google Meet and chat with my friends during a break in work calls. I catch them up about the layoffs and one jokingly responds that I secretly want to get laid off. I laugh hard because she knows me well. I'd never wish for it to happen, but I often feel mismatched in my career. I don't have a Type A personality (lawyers can be so exhausting) and I am a bit of a wanderlust (classic Type 7 on the enneagram). I chose law because I had to do something with life and it suited some of my strengths. When I found the FIRE movement (and its variations: coastfire, baristafire, etc.), it instantly appealed to me. My plan is to end my corporate legal career in five years at age 40 and transition to another job/career/lifestyle.
5 p.m. — Get on the road to Seattle for my weekend with A. I am predictably irritated by the traffic and rain. I end up making good time and my mood improves by the time I hit Olympia. Pick up some mozzarella sticks from Arby's and eat an orange on the road. $5
9 p.m. — A. is so cute when he sees me and shows sincere joy. We walk to a nearby restaurant and have breakfast for dinner which he pays for. We stay up late having candid conversations about all the heavy subjects. The long distance and our ages (he's 41) mean some of these subjects have come up earlier than “normal,” but the openness is refreshing and I have some comfort knowing we're aligned on many things. If things progress, we both agree that the long distance is not sustainable. I am open to relocating to Seattle but I would need a serious commitment to do so.
Daily Total: $5

Day Five

9 a.m. — I am not a night owl, so last night's “pillow talk” is making me drag a bit. A. makes me a cup of tea and brings it to where I've set up my workstation in his kitchen.
12 p.m. — I text him that I'm hungry (he's in the next room, lol) and we make plans to go grab lunch at a Mexican restaurant. We walk hand in hand (so cute) to lunch, which A. pays for.
5 p.m. — Work is finished so we head to get sour beers at a local brewery. A. pays. I rarely drink but I have a soft spot for sour beers. We get back to A.'s place and I see that my tire is flat. I wanted to run a few errands tomorrow so I'm bummed to have to deal with it.
6 p.m. — I end up going to Sephora to catch the end of the sale. I only grab things that I need or can't buy at Ulta because the deals and rewards system is better at Ulta. I settle on a Dior foundation, Saie bronzer, NARS concealer, and some hand sanitizer. $105
9 p.m. — A. grabs takeout at a vegan spot that he thinks I will like. He gets a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and I have the regular chicken sandwich. It might be better than my favorite vegan chicken sandwich in Portland. We eat and then go hang with some of A.'s friends until very late. I'm tired on top of tired so immediately go to bed when we get in.
Daily Total: $105

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Wake up to schedule an AAA service to put my spare on so that I can take it to a repair center. For a single woman who has had her share of car issues, AAA might be the best money I've ever spent.
8 a.m. —Pick up croissants, a chai latte (for me), and a decaf latte (for A.) at a local bakery. $21.64
9 a.m. — Drop off the car and get vague assurances that it will be ready before close of business. I try to schmooze the lady with a “I live in Portland, I need to get back tonight!” She assures me that she'll do her best.
12 p.m. — We head out to a cafe and get brunch. A. pays for the meal.
2 p.m. — I ask A. to drop me downtown to quickly check for two specific things. I'm eyeing a Chloe bag and want to get a size reference. Also, we don't have an AllSaints in Portland and I wanted to look at some sale items.
5 p.m. — Head to the tire center and notice I am the very last customer. They finish up my car and hand the keys over. I get my tires serviced at a franchise, so repairs are free. Kiss and hug A. goodbye and get on the road.
9 p.m. — Get back home after recapping the weekend with my friends on the drive back. They have just as high hopes for him as do I, but I am well acquainted with men disappointing me so I tend to reserve my emotions as a means of protection. We'll see. I eat today's brunch leftovers and head to bed.
Daily Total: $21.64

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Groggy even with the extra sleep. Take a shot of apple cider vinegar and water then grab an orange and head to the gym.
11 a.m. — I book an Airbnb for a mini girls' trip this week to Seattle. It was planned well before A. came into the picture! I've been waiting until some of the hosts got a bit more desperate for bookings and slashed prices. It worked and I score a great place for a reasonable price. We'll split this later, so I put it on my card for now. $611.96
1 p.m. — I grab a few groceries while talking to A. $30
5 p.m. — Watch the late football games and then Sunday Night Football.
7 p.m. — Order in some Indian food, fold laundry, and trudge through The Policeman. $21
9 p.m. —Text A. a bit about exclusivity. We didn't have the explicit conversation (I hate these dating nuances) this weekend and I don't want to assume anything. He assures me of his intentions and that he isn't dating anyone else. I am satisfied and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $662.96
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