Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.
Today: a finance lawyer who has a joint yearly income of $480,000 and spends some of her money this week on Vitamin C Serum.
Occupation: Finance Lawyer
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $280,000 not including discretionary bonuses
My Partner’s Salary: $200,000 (our finances are combined)
My Paycheck Amount (2x/month):
My Partner’s Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,900
Gender Identity: Woman
Mortgage: $3,900 (mortgage + taxes + cc fees)
Loans: $0 (we carry about $10,000 in credit card debt, but it is generally insignificant)
Puppy Care: $400 (we have a little rescue dog, but living in NYC means daily walks
House Cleaning: $200
Cell Phone: $150 ($70 is reimbursed by my law firm)
Health Insurance: $600
Gym Membership: $100 (for both of us)
Utilities: $300 (this is NY and in the middle of the sweltering summer)
Grocery Delivery: $450 (comes 2x/per month — we get our groceries delivered and there is a bit of a premium, but more than worth it for the convenience and, yes, generally, groceries in NY are crazy expensive)
Streaming Services: $50
7 a.m. — We roll out of bed after my partner of eight years hits the snooze button 13 more times and we cuddle as much as possible before my anxiety to get the day started forces me out of bed and into the world. Our morning ritual is always the same — she walks the pup while I make a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, we drink coffee and chat about random (nonsensical) things while listening to NPR, we then spend 10-15 minutes meditating, and then (finally) hit the showers to go to work around 9. I can work from home a lot, but my partner can’t, and we both work extremely intense corporate jobs as a way to save up as much money as possible during our prime earning years, so our daily morning ritual is important as a way to stay connected as a couple. We also try to fit in a workout at least twice per week.
12 p.m. — I’ve answered about 100 emails (not an exaggeration). What sucks about having a corporate job, other than the total lack of emotional/spiritual fulfillment (“all prose and no poetry”), are the deadlines. Sigh and eye roll. My partner’s job is similar. We whine about it a lot, of which we are both aware, but we both accept this as reality for now, since it has allowed us to grow our total net worth close to $1.5M (which includes some smart real estate and stock investments I made when I was younger). I quickly run out and grab lunch and then sit at my desk to eat ($16). I glance at a television that is quietly blaring in the background. Some guy is making an argument against raising the minimum wage…sometimes I think that if people truly understood how financiers enrich themselves (like, by the millions) by exploiting cleverly devised financial instruments that ultimately create little to no value for the overall economy, the socio-political conversation in this country would be so very different… $16
8 p.m. — My partner gets home from work and I take a break from responding to emails to have dinner with her (which we order). We feed our little pup too. We chat about our days and laugh at some of the weird shenanigans that go on in the workplace — people are just so funny and interesting. The last few years we have been really focusing on our health, and maintaining the most important thing to us — our relationship — by trying to always eat dinner together and also eating something fresh. I log back onto my computer and bang out another couple hours of work. As I climb into bed to join my partner, who is reading her latest novel, I get an email that I have to respond to immediately. I work until around 12 a.m., shut the lights off, and go to sleep, utterly exhausted. $20
Daily Total: $36
8 a.m. — It’s Saturday — the weekend! We wake up and take little pup to the park, where he runs around off-leash and plays with other dogs. We walk around the local farmer’s market in our neighborhood, which always has amazing options. We pick up local meats and vegetables and head home. After meditation and yoga, we make a fresh lunch for ourselves and take turns reading aloud to each other from a new book we picked up last week. $30
1 p.m. — I get an email from work saying a project that was supposed to be due in a month is now due in 24 hours. I tell my partner the unfortunate news and we debate whether we should cancel our dinner plans. We decide to see what happens and I’m on back-to-back calls and emails for the next few hours.
6 p.m. — I manage to sneak away from work and we head out to dinner with friends at a new Lebanese spot a couple of miles away. We share some biodynamic wines and chat about the state of the world, and whether having children is a good idea when everything is such doom and gloom. I get a couple of emails during the dinner, which means I’m still working, but at least I don’t have to be in the office…we split the check and make it home by around 10:30. I check my emails one more time, send off a couple of replies where necessary, and hit the hay. $270
Daily Total: $300
9 a.m. — We wake up a bit later than usual (because it’s Sunday, of course) and take the pup to grab Americanos from a cafe next to our apartment. After leisurely reading the Sunday Review, we come back and sit outside on our terrace and do some (very) light gardening work pulling dead grasses and trimming flowers and plants. I then log on to work for a few hours. $5
1 p.m. — We take the pup for an afternoon walk in the bright sunshine and grab soft-serve ice creams (dipped in fudge, of course) from one of those slightly creepy ice cream trucks that troll through NYC. I return home and work for a few more hours while my partner teaches herself how to tie nautical knots — she’s always trying to learn something new and I love that about her. $10
3 p.m. — We see that one of our favorite bands is coming to NYC. We hurriedly buy tickets before they sell out. Living in NYC, everything is a competition. $60
6 p.m. — We go to dinner with my partner’s parents, who are in town. They live about two hours away and visit sometimes. When my partner came out to them about five years ago, she wasn’t sure whether they would be supportive. They were, to our great surprise, and it has been pretty smooth sailing ever since. Through my interactions with them, I’ve learned that just because you disagree with someone politically, there are definitely meta-values that you can still share more generally as human beings — love of family, generosity with others, patience, etc. Sometimes we get on political subjects and the conversation can get heated, but we try to maintain a level of respect between us. At the end of the day, I think they are great parents. They pay for the dinner, despite our protest, and we hug goodbye.
Daily Total: $75
7 a.m. — We wake up, do our morning routine, and I’m off to work.
2 p.m. — The project still isn’t finished even though it’s been over 24 hours. I can feel the stress tingling up my spine and my heart palpitating. I am eating my lunch when a colleague emails to say that she’s leaving the law firm. We sneak out for lunch and she tells me that since there is no chance of making partner anyway, and she can’t take the 24/7 lifestyle anymore, she looked elsewhere. She doesn’t know whether she is making the right decision, but she never chose to become a lawyer for the money. She became a lawyer to do good for the world, but she got sucked in by the prestige and career trajectory promises of our firm. I think a lot about what she says, which echoes many of my own thoughts and doubts. $20
6 p.m. — I get home and tell my partner about how I think I should leave my job too. We eat dinner together (seamless, $20) and have a heated discussion on the future of the American law firm. She is supportive, but also concerned. She probes me on why I am leaving in order to test my resolve. When I don’t relent, she kisses me and tells me that she has my back no matter what. We spend the next couple of hours running different financial models every which way to help us understand what minimum salary I would need to live comfortably in NYC. We come up with a specific figure and a plan of attack. $20
9 p.m. — We get in bed and read some poems by Walt Whitman to each other, which we do often when change is coming. My partner goes to sleep and I get back to work.
Daily Total: $40
7 a.m. — I’ve been up all night working on this project. I take the pup for an early walk, picking up a Red Eye for me and an Americano for my partner, along with an almond croissant. $11
9 a.m. — After my partner leaves for work, I get on a social media website for jobs. My friend who started her own tech company texts me — her latest round of venture capital funding hasn’t gone well. I call her immediately and give her a pep talk. She is one of only a few women in the tech world and a walking wonder, but she reminds me that having 30 employees looking to you for their bread and butter is no small weight to carry. My day is slow and I take little pup to the park where he plays while I enjoy the changing leaves as they signal the coming of Fall. I call my Dad. As a first-generation immigrant, he is appalled at the pay cut I would take if I left my job. As my Dad, however, he tells me he supports me no matter what.
4 p.m. — Another friend calls to say that her newly minted marriage isn’t going great — her husband is partying all night and doing drugs. I finish up some work and then head over to her place to pick her up. We go to the wine store and snag a bunch of bottles. I take her back to my apartment and we chat on my terrace for the next few hours. $100
7 p.m. — My partner comes home and I run out to the grocery store to grab some ingredients to make a homemade dinner — roasted chicken with parsnips and carrots and potatoes. After a few more hours of talk therapy, we all head to bed. I offer our couch to my friend for the night, but she declines. She is adamant that she has to go home to face her husband. I give her a hug and tell her to call me anytime. $20
Daily Total: $131
7 a.m. — Awake and normal routine.
9 a.m. — I grab a smoothie from the cafeteria at work and browse a few emails from recruiters, looking to see what opportunities I’m interested in. I’m wary of recruiters because they make money from any job they place you in, and so are incentivized to sell you on any opportunity in the market, regardless of whether it is the right fit for you. I answer some recruiter emails and talk to one or two on the phone to let them know I’m looking for a new job. Work starts to pick up, and I answer emails for the remainder of the day. $7
3 p.m. — My partner and I meet up and grab some overpriced sushi rolls and sit outside to eat while we chat with our financial advisor on the phone. One of the best parts of our corporate jobs is that our offices are extremely close, so we have lunch together quite often. We check in with our financial advisor quarterly and he lets us know what he thinks we should be doing with our portfolio and whether there is room for improvement. Right now, we have about $300k in cash, $800k in stocks/alternative investments/401(k) accounts, and $350k in equity in our home. We are overweighted in cash, I know, but the market has me a bit spooked with the trade war, high levels of corporate debt, and the inability of the Feds to raise interest rates. We discuss these factors with my financial advisor, who nevertheless tells me to stop trying to time the market. He’s right, of course, but I’m still hesitant. $25
9 p.m. — We go out to see one of my partner’s favorite bands play live with a few friends, buying a few rounds of beer for all. The show is awesome, even if the venue is pretty grimy, and we can’t believe that we snagged these tickets. We head home around midnight and fall asleep. $60
Daily Total: $92
7 a.m. — Same morning routine, head to work, dive into emails.
11 a.m. — During lunch, I do some much-needed wellness shopping on Amazon. We don’t spend very much on our beauty regimens, probably around $140 every three or so months for the both of us, but we do like to get all of the essentials — hydrating cleanser, vitamin C and A serums, eye serum, and moisturizer. $260
6 p.m. — My partner and I both get home pretty early from work today and we eat our meal prepped dinners on the terrace where we get into a heated conversation about the amount of news that she reads — zero — which I think is absurd (!). She argues that she thinks the news is overrated these days and depressing. She doesn’t trust politicians or pundits. I can’t say I totally disagree, but her nihilism disturbs me. We come to a compromise where she agrees to read the Skimm every morning. In exchange, I promise not to check the NY Times every hour. We watch Netflix for the rest of the night — specifically a German television series we are both obsessed with about time travel and a serial killer in a small town. We hit the hay around midnight.
Daily Total: $260
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