Title: I am 33 years old and make $121,000 with an approximate 20% bonus and annual stock awards, live in Pittsburgh, PA and work as a Landman in the Oil and Gas Industry (I’m a licensed attorney) This was my Money Diary from two years ago – https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/money-diary-pittsburgh-pa-in-house-landman-income
Section One: Assets and Debt
Retirement Balance: $152,000 in my company 401K – prior to paying off my student loans in November of 2019, I was contributing up to my company’s 6% match. Now, I am contributing 15% which comes out to about $700/pay period plus employer match.
I have about $10,500 in a personal investment account that I contribute $500/month that I opened earlier this year
Equity: I sold my townhouse in 2017 and moved into an affordable apartment in order to aggressively pay down my student loan debt. I moved in my boyfriend, in his paid-off home, in March.
Savings Account Balance: In my HYSA, I have a $20,000 emergency fund and $10,000 in a short-term savings account with the goal of home improvements and/or down payment for a home
Checking Account Balance: I have $4,000 in my checking account
Credit card debt: No credit card debt – I pay my balance off every month
Car Loan: I bought a new SUV this summer that was around $38,000. The loan is currently at $3,500 between a $10,000 down payment, trade in of my old vehicle, a couple $1500 monthly payments and I recently cashed out $10,000 in stock to put towards the principal. I plan to have this paid off within the next few months.
Student Loan Debt: $0 – I graduated from law school with $85,000 in student loan debt. After three years, I had made $30,000 in payments and less than half had gone to the principal. At that point, I sold my townhouse and moved into an affordable apartment and got serious about paying it off. I was able to pay off that $70,000 in a little under two years.
Anything else that’s applicable to you: I receive compensation in deferred stock awards that have a three-year vesting cycle. I currently have about $3,000 in vested stock and $100,000 in unvested. The unvested is monopoly money because: (1) If I leave my job, I would lose it; and (2) The stock is volatile, and its value at vesting is unknown. I don’t have a specific plan for that money but would potentially use it towards a down payment on a future home or renovations in our current home.
I live with my boyfriend, Will, who paid off his mortgage in eleven years shortly before I moved in. We make about the same income. He pays for property taxes, insurance, and utilities. I pay for cable, internet, meal kit deliveries, Amazon Prime and Netflix. We have an active interest in each other’s investments and are on the same page about our outlooks surrounding money.
Section Two: Income
Income Progression: I’ve been working in my field for 6 years; my starting salary was $85,000 with 20% bonus. This was my first job out of law school. I have had two promotions since I started but my salary increases weren’t necessarily in line with the promotions. My biggest raise was in a year that I did not receive a promotion.
Main Job Monthly Take Home:
Section Three: Expenses
Rent / Mortgage / HOA fees: N/A – Will owns the house outright and he pays for all property taxes
Renters / home insurance: same
Retirement contribution**: see above – approximately $700/pay period, which, with an additional portion taken out of my bonus, maxes out my 401k for the year**
Savings contribution: $1000 to HYSA (was $2500 but now diverting $1500 to car payment)
Investment contribution: $500 to mutual fund
Debt payments: $1500/month to aforementioned car payment
Donations: $50/month to a local homeless shelter that really helped by Dad when he was struggling with addiction. My boyfriend and I also volunteer at Meals-on-Wheels once a week. We used to go together every week when they needed us during the beginning of quarantine, but now that things have slowed down, just one of us goes every week. We also make ten bagged lunches for the homeless through a local church twice a month and I pay for those supplies which I would estimate to be between $50 and $100 a month.
Cellphone: Paid through work
Subscriptions: $65/week for Hello Fresh or Marley Spoon food delivery (3 meals a week); $13.90 for Netflix; $10.69 for Apple Music; $13.77 for Amazon Prime; $11.96 for digital local newspaper subscription; $14.99 Peloton
Gym membership: $10/month Planet Fitness + $22/month pretax for gym near my office. I’m not currently going to the gym, but both are so low I don’t want to cancel. I especially want to support the family-owned gym by my office.
Car payment / insurance: The minimum payment on my car loan is about $400, but I pay $1500. Car insurance is $370/every six months
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?
I was always a very good student and there was an expectation I would attend college. Finances were never discussed when I was looking at colleges and although my family is not extremely wealthy, they had a “follow your dreams” approach to schooling. I attended a state school as an out-of-state student and my grandparents paid for the majority of the tuition – I believe it was around $30,000 a year. My parents paid for basic room and board expenses and I worked throughout college and in the summers for spending money. I attended law school and my grandparents provided approximately $20,000 a year. I graduated with $85,000 in student loans. After three years, I had paid over $30,000 in payments, but less than half of that went to the principal and I decided to really change my view on budgets and spending and get it paid off as soon as possible. I was able to pay the remaining $70,000 off in less than two years. I am incredibly grateful for the money I received from my family, especially my grandparents, and realize how lucky I am. My grandfather was a high school principal and lived very modestly his entire life to be able to save. I hope I am making him proud!
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I don’t believe my parents ever discussed money with me in a cogent manner. My grandparents are all very frugal and big savers, but they did not impart that knowledge on my parents. Both are extreme spenders, with my dad in particular having IRS liens and at one-point filing for bankruptcy. I’d like to think I learned from their mistakes, but I also recognize that comes from the privilege of making a comfortable living. When I first started making money, I just assumed you were supposed to spend all of it and that’s pretty much what I did until 2017. I credit Money Diaries and this sub for teaching me so much about financial literacy. You guys are the best.
What was your first job and why did you get it? I
I worked at my local pool as an attendant when I was 14 and started lifeguarding at 16. I liked having my own money and as I’ll discuss further below, I didn’t like asking my mom for money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Constantly. My parents divorced when I was 8 and my father lost his job a few years later. My mom went from having dependable child support to nothing and her job wasn’t lucrative at the time. She was constantly stressed about money and really put a lot of that pressure on me as the oldest child. I remember just being yelled at for everything I would ask for – whether it was cheerleading shoes or lunch money. This was also during times when we were going on vacations and living in a nice home. We weren’t poor but my mom never saved or accounted for any unexpected expenses. This has really shaped my mindset about saving and not wanting to live my life stressed about money.
Do you worry about money now?
Short answer is no and I think there’s three parts to that: (1) I have been lucky to find a job that pays me well, (2) I set myself up for success by saving and paying off debt; and (3) to live with my boyfriend whose good financial decisions have taken a lot of stress off of our shoulders. On the other side, I also work in a pretty unpredictable industry, so I am cognizant that this job may not last forever and I may need to figure out another career path. But I bet on me and know that I would be an asset to many companies and industries.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say that when I graduated from law school and moved into my own home. My family is very close, and I know that I could move in with my siblings, dad or grandparents if I needed to. I would also consider my boyfriend part of my safety net.
November 5, 2020
7:10 – My boyfriend, Will, wakes me up with some cuddling. I have been having some weird insomnia so sleeping in this late feels awesome! This morning we are volunteering at Meals-on-Wheels, so I get up, make half of a bagel thin with whipped cream cheese and “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning and grab a water bottle and a Diet Dr. Pepper to have in the car.
10:30 – We head home from Meals-on-Wheels. It was another fun morning – we really enjoy going, especially the weeks we both go. Our team of 6 volunteers makes bagged lunches and then a hot meal for 64 folks. Today, the bagged lunch had a milk, applesauce, roast beef and cheese sandwich, chips, apple, cookies, bread and butter, and a piece of pound cake. The hot meal was stuffed peppers with mashed potatoes and green beans. When we get home, I make Will a bagel thin as a pre-lunch snack and package up an apple and leftover chicken pot pie for his lunch while he catches up on emails. We made the chicken pot pie this weekend from the Salt Fat Acid Heat cookbook and it was so good and has been heating up really well. After he leaves for work, I go into my home office in the dining room and catch up on emails/phone calls before heating up a cabbage roll with ground turkey and mashed potatoes that my best friend made this weekend and gave me some leftovers. 10/10 would recommend.
12:45 – I work for the rest of the morning and then go to the NJ EZPass website because when I went to NJ in September, the EZPass I was using was no longer active and I got hit with two separate $50 fees. BOOOOOO. I’m able to get one waived, but I still have to pay $56.15. I also decide I’m a grown up and should get my own EZPass account so I sign me and Will up for one ($76, which includes two devices and $35/each in prepaid funds). I also buy a toaster because we only have a toaster oven and I burn 65% of the things I put in there. ($24.61)
1:00 – I get back to work for the afternoon. I correspond with opposing counsel, draft and revise some leasing agreements, and review leases that were taken by my field guys. The afternoon goes by quickly. I have the rest of my DDP, another large bottle of water, and a spoonful of Jeni’s Brambleberry Crisp ice cream which is the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Around three I have an apple and help my coworker put together a proposal for her promotion. She definitely deserves it!!!!!
4:30 – I finish up my workday and head upstairs for a 30-minute Beyoncé Peloton ride. It is so so fun! I take my daily bath after while watching TikToks. Afterwards, I get dressed, make our bed, and put away some laundry.
6:00 – Will gets home from work and we start on tonight’s Blue Apron – chicken caper pasta. It’s tasty but not my favorite. We watched “Eaters Guide to the World” while we ate – narrated by Maya Rudolph. It seems like a great show, and Maya’s voice is awesome. Will cleans up the kitchen while I type this out and relax.
7:00 – We listen in to a webinar for my friend’s travel agent business. It feels really pyramid schemey to me. I love that she has a side hustle, but don’t love this. Afterwards we watch The Last Man on Earth (“LME”) before going to bed around 9.
4:00 – Welp, I’m up. Any advice on how to stay asleep? Maybe seven hours is enough sleep? It doesn’t feel like it to me. I listen to podcasts (Do No Harm and the new Dr. Death) until I get up at seven and start my work day. Will left around 5:30 after taking the trash and recycling out for the week. I have half a bagel thin and an apple for breakfast.
9:30 – I’m heading into the office soon, so I’ve been taking care of housekeeping things and making a list to ensure I do everything I need to in the office today. I’ve been going in about twice a week for two or so hours. My company is still pretty old fashioned in the sense that we use paper pay sheets and have to physically sign off on things. I don’t mind – it’s nice to get out of the house.
10:30 – I get into the office, handle some logistics, catch up with my friends and yell at my boss for not wearing a mask. He’s infuriating. After a few hours, I leave and pick up Mexican food and take it to my dad and grandma’s house for lunch ($45). My gram and I get the shrimp tacos and chips and guac and my dad gets a giant portion of beef enchiladas. After a quick lunch, I head home, stopping to pick up wine on my way ($41).
1:30 – I’m back in the home office and working the rest of the afternoon. I deal with some lease negotiations that are part of a mediation and end of year budget issues. I finish up around 4:30 and chat with my best friend on her drive home from work and then get on a quick call with my boss to discuss the mediation.
5:45 – Will is home and he snacks while we make baked chicken with pesto and mozzarella. We have it with a bag of sautéed spinach and I have leftover sweet potatoes and he has last night’s pasta. I am TIRED from waking up so early!!! We just watch LME and head to bed around nine.
6:15 – I’m just waking up now! Yes! Will gives me a big hug before he leaves for the day. Today is technically my Friday off (we do 9/80s, so I have every other Friday off). With working from home, I haven’t really taken the Fridays off, and I have two meetings on my schedule today.
8:15 – Head down to my office, heat up some pot pie (it has veggies so does that make it okay to eat for breakfast?), and catch up on emails. I have a short call at 9 with an attorney representing landowners whose leasing agreement I would like to modify. I’m also going back and forth with our outside counsel regarding current litigation. Fridays are normally my busiest day because I really like to get to as close to inbox zero as possible to have a “fresh start” on Monday.
10:00 – I call a new-to-me hair salon to schedule an appointment and they say they can take me either after Thanksgiving or today at 10:45, so I put some makeup on and head out. The girl who does my hair looks just like Jenny Slate and it was really nice getting to know her! I get a cut and highlights and I love it! ($172 + $40 tip + $3 for parking). Also, the Hello Fresh charge for the week goes through ($77.91). It is a little higher than normal because I ordered some sandwiches for lunch to try out.
1:30 – Rush home for a conference call which goes great! For a late lunch, I heat up a piece of chicken from last night and have it with some leftover spinach and chips and guac.
2:30 – I watch the first episode of Real Housewives of Salt Lake City. Omg this season seems like it is going to be amazing. Afterwards, I head to my best friend slash neighbor’s house and we go for a 2.5 mile walk and then sit outside on her deck and catch up. It’s sad to think this may be the last time we are able to do this with the weather getting colder.
5:30 – I order Aladdin’s takeout and Will picks it up on the way home. We get a shish kebob rolled, chicken Dijon rolled, spicy cauliflower, V9 soup and hot sauce. ($35+ tip, Will pays). When he gets home, we take the leaves to the curb and buy his sister a baby shower gift ($280 for a car seat, Will pays). We watch more LME and go to bed around nine.
7:00 – I wake up and Will has already left to take his Nana shopping. I putz around and run the dishwasher and wash the bedding. He comes home at nine and we go shopping at Whole Foods. He gets stuff to make borscht for his mom and aunt, sandwiches provisions for lunches this week, salad, and frozen food. Total is around $90, and Will pays.
11:00 – We get home and make a frozen pizza and salad for lunch and watch more LME. Around one, I do a Peloton bootcamp (Jess Sims is my best friend) and Will mows the yard for leaves. I take a bath and relax while Will preps the soup.
4:00 – We have some leftover pizza and watch the last episode of Seduced, the NXIVM documentary. Keith Raniere is such a horrible human being. At some point I buy some more silicone ice cube trays ($9.32) and I make us sandwiches with the leftover chicken/pesto/mozzarella from the other night. We head to bed early.
7:00 – I wake up in a great mood and ready to do all the things. I drink a green juice because I’ve been eating like a literal trash panda. I load the dishwasher, clean the countertops and stove, vacuum the kitchen, and make the bed. I fold and put away a load of laundry. I do a thirty-minute Cody Rigsby intervals and upper body workout and then a 15-minute stretch video.
11:00 – I take a shower and get ready to the day I’ve been looking forward to all month – brunch at Eleven! It is a gift from my sister and brother in law for my birthday and my brother joins as well. We start with a basket of croissants, muffins, and scones with honey butter and raspberry jam – literally a meal itself. Then I get the beignets and fried chicken with Brussel sprouts Caesar salad and corn bread. I also have a ginger mule and most of Will’s cocktail. Total was around $200 plus tip for the five of us and my brother-in-law pays.
3:00 – We head back to my sister and brother-in-law’s house and watch the end of the 1:00 football games and then the Steeler game. We have some cocktails throughout the day and before we leave, they make some frozen chicken nuggets from Costco that taste just like Chic-Fila. They also bought the Taste Test of Caramels from Trader Joes – I highly recommend. Will and my sister both got 100% accuracy and I couldn’t be prouder. It was such a fun day! They recently moved back to Pittsburgh from out of state and I’m so grateful that they are close, and we can hang out regularly.
7:30 – We get home and try to watch one episode of LME and fall asleep immediately after getting into bed.
5:45 – I wake up and lay in bed for an hour or so catching up on my phone. I head downstairs and go through my work and personal emails and finances. My 401K has increased $12,000 since I started writing this. It doesn’t make sense to me. I also see that I got $50 cash back from Buy Buy Baby, so I get a few more things from Will’s sister’s registry ($5.50 after the coupon)
9:00 – I head into the office to pick up printing (I have a small printer at home, but anything more than a couple pages, I print to the office) and get some checks requested. I grab a cup of coffee and a Pepsi for Will. Once I’m back at home, I heat up the rest of the vegetable soup from Friday and a couple pierogis that Will’s mom made. I negotiate with a landowner for an amendment and ratification, fix a couple revenue issues, pull an order from a 2018 lawsuit and ensure that we are abiding by its terms, and put a memo together for the general counsel.
1:00 – I work solidly throughout the afternoon – reviewing lease files, communicating with my field guys, conferring with my boss about some recent case law, and responding to emails. I finish around 4 and take a bath. I talk to one of my friends on her ride home from work and discuss how we feel like there’s another quarantine lock down coming. Will gets home around 5:30 and we make chicken flautas with pico for dinner.
6:30 – Will and I start brainstorming ideas for Thanksgiving dinner. It is more than likely just going to be the two of us, but we still want to make a full dinner and try out new recipes. We decide to practice a stuffing recipe this weekend to make with turkey, roasted veggies, homemade rolls and some sort of apple dessert. You know the drill – a couple episodes of LME and bed around nine.
4:00 – Fuck. I’m up. I stay in bed for two hours listening to podcasts and trying to fall asleep. I give up at six and watch TikToks until seven. I tell myself I have plenty of PTO, so maybe I’ll take off a couple hours this morning and take a nap. I put blackout curtains in our bedroom last night and that wasn’t helpful in staying asleep but hopefully it will allow me to take a nap.
7:30 – I head downstairs and go through my emails – there’s nothing urgent. I pick out some cookies to buy from a fundraiser at the school my brother works at ($30). I feel surprisingly good, but I think its adrenalin from all the news about PA potentially getting shutdown again on Friday.
11:30 – I eat 1.5 pierogis, a leftover flauta from last night, and an apple before heading to the grocery store. I get stuff to make lunches tomorrow night and then for us for two dinners later this week – ($54) I am starting to feel tired but make myself do a Peloton ride before an afternoon of meetings. I start a Dennis intervals and arms ride and I hate it, and after ten minutes, I check my phone and one of my bffs tells me to do Robin’s Lizzo ride. It was EXACTLY what my life needed. The trajectory of my day is completely changed, and I feel awesome. Just another reminder that I work out for my mental health first and physical health second.
1:30 – My boss decides to no call no show our weekly team meeting. 10/10 wonderful boss behavior. I have another long conference call at 2, so I eat a couple turkey lunch meat roll ups and listen in.
3:30 – Conference call over. I catch up on email and phone calls and am done at 4:30. I take a bath and talk on the phone to friend before prepping tonight’s dinner – bulgogi pork tenderloin with rice and roasted carrots.
6:00 – Dinner is truly delicious! Will and I catch up on our day, clean up the kitchen, and watch Last Man on Earth.
At the end of each day please tally up your daily expenses. Then at the end of your diary please tally up all expenses in the following categories:
Food + Drink: $247.91
Fun / Entertainment: $0
Home + Health: $33.93
Clothes + Beauty: $220.50
Lastly, reflect on your diary!
This week had a couple abnormal spends with the hair cut and the EZ Pass situation. I would say that I try to keep my spending to $500/week, $2,000/month and I wasn’t too far off even with the unexpected issues. I’ll just keep things a little tighter for the next week or two. I am beyond grateful for my limited fixed monthly costs and think I’m doing a pretty good job of putting my money to good use and investing. I appreciate any and all additional advice!