Assets and Debt Retirement Balance (and how you got there):
$54k, all in the last year and a half. Equity if you're a homeowner
: $0 - I have only ever rented. Savings account balance:
$22k, in case of emergency COVID/move-back-to-Canada money. All saved in the last year and a half. This was max $1k at any given time while I was in science. Checking account balance:
$2330 Credit card debt (and how you accumulated it):
$0. I use my credit card for spending, then pay it off, usually paying $1.5-2k a paycheck. Student loan debt (for what degree)
: $0 for both undergrad and grad school… sorta. After grad school, I knew it would take some time for me to find a job in the US, get visa paperwork done, etc. Just before my defense, my dad co-signed on a student line of credit with me for $10k. I ended up using most of it, but paid it back within the year, before the interest kicked in. Undergrad:
I lived at home (free rent and food), and my parents helped with 100% books and 50% tuition. Since Canadian tuition a decade ago was about $6k a year, I covered by portion (and some fun spending) with the summer jobs related to my field. To be fair, my parents also helped out with vacation trips, which equaled about my part of the tuition. If I had gone to a different city, my parents would not have covered the additional living expenses. Grad:
I moved to a big Canadian city and supported myself, living with roommates in pretty mediocre-to-shitty housing. I got a stipend of $24.5k as a science student researcher, with $9k/year paid right back to the university in tuition. This was livable but tight - lots of rice and lentils. When I went to visit my parents, they would send me some cash for the train ticket, and send me back with a suitcase of Costco goodies. Improved my quality of life significantly! Passive inherited income:
K.’s grandma gifted us $5k for our wedding (“instead of waiting until I’m dead and you don’t have anyone to say thank you to”). Each set of parents had contributed $5k, and K. paid the rest - this gift ended up covering K’s portion. Other:
My parents were unemployed for a few stretches - but they were never close to losing their house, so that was another safety net. Thank goodness for unemployment benefits and free healthcare! My boyfriend/husband (K.) has always made more money than I have, and that has given me a security net. We were long distance for half of grad school, and I wrote my thesis from the US while still paying rent and tuition in Canada. In those months, he gave me $1k to spend for my own wants in his VHCOL city, so that I could be independent. K. and I do not share finances. When there was a huge difference between our incomes, we split things as a proportion of income. In the last few years, our incomes are more similar, and we try to keep costs reasonable - but split most things 50/50. He splurges on some nicer trips/hotels/events for us than I would be willing to pay for.
Income Income Progression:
I've been working in my current field for 3 years, with a starting salary of $90k. I changed careers from science to tech. As a grad student, I made took home $15.5k (untaxed) for a number of years. My first post-grad job started at $52k, then went up to $60k after 4 months. Once I left science for tech, I got that juicy starting salary of $90k. For my current job, the starting offer was $130k + 15k signing bonus + 10% guaranteed bonus + 70k restricted stock units (RSUs) over 4 years. I had 3 job offers purposefully lined up to come in on the same day, so I was able to negotiate pretty intensely. I had a competing offer of $155k base at a startup, but I wanted to work at a bigger company and learn some best practices instead of reinventing the wheel. Good thing I did not take it - COVID destroyed that business! Main Job Monthly Take Home:
$6,654 is the take-home amount. I have pretty good perks from my employer - all food and snacks (pre-COVID), public transit (pre-COVID), $1k/year wellness benefit, and my medical insurance is fully covered. I pay for my own dental/vision/disability, and my spouse’s medical plus dental/vision/disability ($154 total). He also has medical insurance for both of us through his work. I know we are double paying, but as Canadians, we both tend to catastrophize and are paranoid about the US healthcare system. I also contribute $1888/month to a 401k (plus $6k annual company match). SO’s Monthly Take Home:
~$14k. The overwhelming majority of this goes to savings/investments. He’s planning to semi-retire and start his own business in a few years, so he’s saving hard. He has no debts and was extremely frugal during undergrad to avoid using credit cards.
Expenses Rent: $2,520
, split 50/50 Renters insurance:
don’t have any :/ Savings contribution:
$1300 each paycheck into a savings account Investment contribution:
$41k. Once a few thousand accumulate in savings, I move that to investments. I just started this in November of last year, and am only now recovering back to March levels. Gotta play the long game! Debt payments:
$10 ACLU, $26 (varies) Patreon, and the rest through the donation matching portal at work ($1175 from me+ $1,650 company match) so far this year. I contributed to wildfires, hunger, BLM, NAACP, and the Red Cross. Electric:
this has varied between $25 and $250 in the last year, average $140. Our 1BR is incredibly poorly insulated, and we use space heaters, a portable A/C, multiple fans, and 2 air purifiers as needed to control temperature. I suspect I can improve this, but I can’t quite muster up the energy. I pay this. Wifi/Cable/Landline:
Internet is $112/month for a really powerful connection. K. pays for this, but I get $45 reimbursed when I remember to submit a claim. Cellphone:
- Stitchfix Style Pass: $49 annual
- Amazon Prime: $119 annual
- Dropbox Plus: $119.88 annual
- Github: $4/mo
- Microsoft OneDrive: $6.99/mo
- Google Storage: $1.99/mo
- Netflix: $15.99/mo, share my login with friends
- Spotify Duo: $12.99/mo
- Blinkist: $15.99/mo.
- HelloFresh: $119.88 and up to $131.86 per delivery, depending on add-ons. We get 3 meals, 4 servings each - leftovers are key. We’ve gotten 2-3 a month since the pandemic to supplement grocery delivery
I had $49.99 24-hour fitness month-to-month that I cancelled in April, and will not resume anytime soon. Car payment / insurance:
$0 - never owned a car. If we’re traveling, we rent and get full coverage insurance ($$$ but gives me peace of mind).
Wednesday, Sept 2
7:30 am: Before breakfast, I check the wildfire pollution the take a walk and listen to Gastropod, one of my favorite podcasts about the science and history of food. I try to hit 10k steps most days, but the heat wave and wildfires have made this more difficult.
8:45 am: Work heads down all day, churning out a full analysis for something we launched a month ago.
12:30 pm: Take a break to finally improve my skincare routine and buy Timeless skincare (Vitamin C and squalene moisturizer, sample sizes), $33.14.
While I'm at it, I also buy a spray bottle and gloves for the powder mildew that has been attacking my tomato plants. Also, turns out I’m allergic to the tomato leaves, so I decided to get gloves, as well. $17.45
8:30 pm: Order Uber Eats for dinner - poke bowl with scallops and tuna, but mostly I’m about 100000 toppings $44.39
9:45 pm: Spin bike 15 minutes to get butt used to it before bed. We got a Keiser M3i fancy bike to get us through the quarantine. Although I walk 1.5 hours a day, I am quite out of shape in terms of strength and cardio fitness, so I am working up to doing actual workouts.
11 pm: Read The Cooking Gene before bed, about the history of food and its interplay with slavery in America. Day total = $115.68
Thursday, Sept 3
8:45 am: I take my time getting out of bed and doom scroll on my phone from 7am until I get up. This is why I try to schedule morning meetings - keeps me from doing stupid things that make me anxious, for no good reason. Walk in the morning, listening to a new audiobook. I have found easier to concentrate on an audiobook than multiple podcast - less context switching.
9:30 am: Smoothie and coffee and water, and tackle my wall of meetings to talk up the analysis I put together earlier in the week.
11 am: Stitchfix arrives. I am on a 12-shipment subscription that covers the styling fee, but I end up either sending all back or keeping 1-2. I recently Koa Marie’d, so want to keep only things I really like. I try everything on. Most items fit, but make me look like a babushka (really strong floral/paisley vibe in this one). Plan to send back everything but an olive jean jacket. Will try it on again tomorrow before I decide.
12:30 pm: For lunch, leftover pomegranate chicken with potatoes and cauliflower slow cooker stew.
2 pm: I am getting calibrated to do technical phone screens. That means that I conduct the interview while someone with more experience is silently present, and only speaks up if there are significant issues or questions I can't answer. This session has a ton of of tech issues, and also the candidate was struggling to get through it. I had a lot of sympathy for them - I also freeze up in technicals. However, I had to avoid giving hints until they asked - this would not help the candidate very much, since it decreases the score they can achieve.
4 pm: To procrastinate, and because I have been walking to the snacks cupboard and not
finding Doritos there, I put in an order for a Safeway delivery for tomorrow. I’ll get billed then.
6 pm: I talk with a friend about moving back to Canada, and figuring out how salaries compare, as well as job opportunities and rent. I would want to move back to the area I went to grad school in, so I am familiar with the areas and types of housing - but everything has gone up like crazy.
9:45 pm: I stay up late wrangling some data analysis to incorporate feedback from today's meetings into the report. I usually aim to work 8/9 until 5-6:30, depending on the day, so this is an exception. I used to work many weekends and late nights in science, so I relish my free time.
Somewhere in there, K. ordered 6 entrees of Chinese food that we will eat over the next 3-4 meals. I eat that as I work.
11:30 pm: I do 20 minutes of spin and re-re-re-watch The West Wing
1:30 am: I read more of The Cooking Gene before bed, and stay up way too late. Day total = $0
Friday, Sept 4
7:30 am: I go for a 45 minute walk before work, listening to a podcast about the history of glass used for food (Gastropod). I learn about wine glasses, beer bottles, and Pyrex dishes.
8:15 am: Breakfast is avocado with defrosted green peas and hot sauce. Half the avocado is browned, so I just load up the green peas.
9:30 am: Safeway delivery (Doritos, Miss Vickies chips, mini cups of Haagen-Datz ice cream, Magnum ice cream bars, a variety of frozen pizzas, large packs of beef/chicken/pork, Coke, cans of cold brew, bagels, sauerkraut, chocolate, nachos ingredients, pierogis, frozen fruit, bananas, and tuna. This looks ridiculous for adults. We aim for healthy-ish food at least, but crave junky foods pretty hard. This haul is about cravings. When the food arrives, I am faced with the fact that we already have a LOT of food, and the new stuff barely fits into the freezer. I am definitely shopping my feelings of uncertainty. The total is $242.45,
and I just pay for it. K. buys all takeout and pays for cleaners. Sometimes, we split some grocery hauls if it feels like I’d paid for the last few things and it’s out of balance.
11 am: I still feel bad about over-buying (though most is shelf-stable or frozen). I clean up the kitchen to feel more on top of everything while I listen to a work presentation. We are not great housekeepers, and things get messed up really fast. I leave things everywhere more, but also go on cleaning stress-binges more. K. picks up more consistently, but is really not into actual cleaning - so he pays for cleaners. When he was in university living with messy roomies, he cleaned all the time, and this was what he promised himself he’s always spend money on once he had some.
1 pm: I create some nifty visualizations to summarize the results of the analysis that I did this week. Creating figures and illustrations was my favorite part of scientific work, and it’s nice to still have that be a significant part of my job now. I find any opportunity I can to create a visual summary, and try to be thoughtful about the level of detail and consistent with color.
3pm: I get a reminder that my migraine medication - the fancy new antibody monthly shot. It’s made a huge difference in my quality of life, from 9-15 migraine days down to 3-5! It costs about $600/month without insurance. My out-of-pocket is $40, and only $5 with the special discount card. $5
prepaid though the pharmacy app.
11 pm: I faff around on my phone all afternoon and fall asleep. Day total = $247.45
Saturday, September 5, 2020
8:30 am: I get up, checked Purple Air for wildfire air pollution (not too bad), and do all 10k steps in the morning before the heat wave kicks in. I listen to a lighthearted audiobook - a romance by a WOC writer I really like, Jasmine Guillory. Her characters are in their mid/late 30s, live in LA or SF/Berkeley, and both have careers they are trying to intertwine as they date.
10 am: I have a cold nitro brew latte and a Hint water while I talk to my parents on Skype (our Saturday morning ritual). I often don’t drink enough, and buying Hint water gets me drinking on days I don’t feel like it. Usually, I top up the bottle a few times throughout the day.
12:00 pm: Wake K. up because it’s noon… but then get in bed instead for a nap for 2 hours. Get up starving, and have 2 bananas in rapid succession because I feel the premonition of a migraine - light pain, annoyance, and nausea. I end up fighting it off with my medication. I should have timed my eating correctly.
2:30 pm: K. orders Wendy’s for a belated lunch. We chill and watch Unorthodox, and I look up a lot of words and customs. He buys (as is the case with almost all takeout). It's the long weekend, and usually go to Burning Man or a nice getaway, so we decide to go into full #TreatYoSelf mode.
8:30 pm: It’s getting to be late, and dinner has not magically appeared. We order from the good
pizza place - pizza, Caesar salad, and chocolate cake. He pays. We watch a science video about black holes and eat pizza in bed.
11 pm: Put in a Labor Day weekend breakfast surprise - an order for a bunch of mini cakes and cookies on Grubhub. $50.00.
I also realize that the USPS is closed for Labor Day, so I will need to extend the 3-day try on window for my clothes. Reach out to support.
3:45 am: It was hot all day, but now that it’s cooled down a bit, we stay up crazy late reading Internet things on our respective laptops. Day total = $50.00
Sunday, September 6, 2020
7 am: It’s day 2 of a heat wave and wildfire smoke levels are pretty high, so I just go for a short walk around the block to see the world and maintain my habit of daily walks. I have some iced coffee from can and try to keep drinking water.
9 am: I start some laundry, clean up the kitchen a bit, and read for a while. It’s noon and K. is still sleeping and I’m hungry. I get into bed for a minute for a hug and wake up 45 minutes later, really groggy.
11:45 am: We hang out and talk and I do some cross stitching. We have the desserts I ordered for a weekend YOLO brunch.
1 pm: I am not really into the book I’m reading now - it’s too hot for serious stuff and I’m scrolling on my phone instead. I would rather read something more lightweight than not read at all, so I borrow a whole bunch of new books and audiobooks via Libby, the library app. After finishing Unorthodox, I get a copy of the original memoir (I’ll end up finishing it just after midnight). I take a quick break for leftover milestone soup from yesterday’s delivery and salami slices I eat from the bag, with squeezes of mustard, as I keep reading. Eating while reading and eating not at a table, from a plate, were forbidden as a child, and therefore my little adult rebellions. I'm slightly overweight, and I am guessing that eating in bed + tv binges are not helping. However, I have lost 10 lb since March just by aiming to eat "like an adult" at least most of the time.
4 pm: It’s still hot, and I spray myself with water mist from a spray bottle. It’s from the 3-pack of spray bottles that I got for the plant mildew fungicides, which works out well. I eat some homemade watermelon granita and keep binge-reading.
6 pm: K. orders us an unreasonable amount of posh food - steak, BBQ, ribs, sides. It’s very a very welcome event. We don’t usually order THIS MANY times within just a few days, but we didn’t go anywhere this summer, and the desire for some change of pace to celebrate the end of the summer is strong.
9 pm: We have more cake from brunch and watch some Netflix. Then, keep doing our own things. Once it’s dark, I go out to water the plants on my balcony - they’re very thirsty and droopy after the heat. I don’t go for a second walk because it’s still pretty smoky.
3 am: I stay up late once again, waiting to get sleepy and cool down enough to sleep. Doritos and chocolate. Day total = $0.00
Monday, September 7, 2020
9 am: wake up, check wildfires, read about the SoCal fire set by a smoke pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party. Feel angry - don’t have a party, and don’t set things on fire during ongoing wildfires in a heat wave
10 am: Futz around reading the news, my book, and a long-form article able the origins of Amazon Prime from company employees at the time.
11:30 am: Finally get around to brunch just before noon - tea and more leftover dessert.
1 pm: Get a bill for T-mobile (included in the bills summary) and Github. This reminds me to do some life admin, so I schedule the cleaners (we have them come by about every 3 weeks). I also pick HelloFresh meals for later this month. I’d skipped a few in a row because of my grocery buying binge earlier. I look for ones that don’t require too any pots and pans - mostly burgers (I don’t bother making potato wedges due to calories + laziness) or tacos. I try to vary up the 3rd meal, but often I just make something simple like a soup or slow cooker stew instead of the actual recipe. I used to cook for fun more, but the pandemic killed all that. K. used to cook a lot in undergrad, but loves ordering food as a solution to cooking - and if I’m procrastinating cooking, I can be easily convinced to get something delicious to magically appear. Not today though! I am feeling guilty for ordering in this much the last few days, so I resolve to cook from the freezer stash once all the food is eaten and the heat wave breaks.
2 pm: Late lunch of leftover chicken, fries, and Caesar salad. I spend the afternoon reading and snacking on watermelon granita to keep cool.
9 pm: Leftover steak and mashed potatoes from yesterday’s dinner, followed by a 10k step walk in the dark now that it's cooled down. Day total = $0.00
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
8:30 am: I go for my morning walk. The sun is a bright red circle, but PurpleAir says the air quality is not too bad. I really like separating my time into working and not working, and do a walk every morning before breakfast and working. I keep it short due to the air quality.
9 am: Make 2 smoothies, drink mine, and keep the other in the fridge for K.
9:15 am: Keep a Stitchfix jean jacket, and return everything else back. Somewhat want to send it back after my huge cleaning out last weekend, but K. convinced me to buy it - I like it, and don't have a jean jacket. $96.14
9:25 am: I check Slack and address the items people are waiting on. My team fills out personal updates and priorities in a shared doc. We are a team of 6, and value openness and creating a safe and comfortable space. Things like “I don't think I got much done last week because omg I can’t anymore” or “I am having a lot of conflict with an overlapping team and am feeling angry and out of control” are accepted and supported. It’s incredibly useful, but requires our manager to trust us and believe us - which they do. I’ve worked in a lot of different environments, and really appreciate how helpful this approach is for unblocking and addressing shared and individual problems.
11:30 am: I failed to drink my caffeine this morning and am shaky and getting a bit of a headache. Have some tea. Still not enough, so grab some instant Starbucks coffee, half a packet of hot chocolate, Benefiber, and CoffeeMate creamer powder. I am a gourmande.
12:30 pm: Lunch is scrambled eggs, salami, sad cherry tomatoes, and pickled okra (the best of the pickles). I spend lunch preparing to conduct some interviews in the afternoon - reading the resumes, making sure I remember the questions, etc.
2 pm: There was a small issue during the interview, but turned out ok. I got really positive feedback - this was my last “reverse shadow” before I can conduct interviews alone. I am feeling very proud of myself and brag to K. about it between meetings.
3 pm: Spend the rest of the day resolving the tech issue I ran into during the interview and intermittently reading the women/watercoole[random non-work stuff] Slack channels. Not at all productive, but hey. Later, I figure out that I was using the interviewing tool incorrectly. Derp.
5:30 pm: I listen to the last meeting of the day while I do 25 minutes of easy spin. I’m still getting used to sitting on the devious machine.
6:30 pm: To complete my 10k steps, I walk for another 45 minutes around my neighborhood and text with my mom a bit.
8 pm: My two skin treatments arrive. I do 2 test patches each on my inner arms - alone and with my usual moisturizer. I have sensitive skin and am prone to eczema, so I try to remember to do patch tests.
8:30 pm: At home, the not-fully-defrosted pork shoulder I put in the slow cooker before lunch is done(ish). I make rice and defrost some peas to go with it. It’s deeply mediocre, but I’ll freeze it into servings and jazz it up into soups and pasta bakes. It’s fine. Next time, I will actually defrost for more than an hour.
10 pm: K. and I settle in to watch some more of our show. I suspect I’ll read and watch more TV before bed - and try to get to sleep before midnight. Day total = $96.14
Spending summary Food + Drink $336.84 Fun / Entertainment $17.45 Home + Health $25.70 Clothes + Beauty $129.28 Transport $0 Other $0
How do you feel about your spending?
I frequently feel conflicted about how much we outsource our lives (takeout, delivery, cleaning) - which has only gotten more pronounced since March. My husband also makes a bunch of money, and encourages spending to maintain energy for work (doing most of the spending himself). I also hope we will have kids in a year or two, and feel like our our spending will have to be more reasonable then, so there’s a bit of YOLO going on. I do feel conflicted about it, though - hence multiple no-spend days.
Was this a normal week for you?
This is a normal COVID week, yes. We got more and nicer takeout due to celebrating the long weekend, but we've had similar weeks before. In the before-times, I spent a lot less on food (I got fed at work for all breakfasts/lunches/coffee/snacks, and K. bought of his lunches). I spent a lot more on travel to see friends all over the US and Canada, going out with friends, camping and weekend getaways.
Has this inspired you to make changes or has it given you a “wow I’m doing pretty good” confidence boost?
I saved a lot of money really fast, and feel good about that. However, I constantly feel behind a lot of lawyecomputer science friends who stuck to one career. I need to get over this.
Is there anything you’re actively working on?
I need to stop spending time feeling like I should do one thing, and doing another. I either need up officially up my savings (pick a specific number, and feel free to spend the remainder), or to decide I’m saving enough and just let go of the guilt. There are much better uses for my emotional energy!
I would love some frank feedback on this diary.