Physician In The Bay Area — Money Diary

Occupation: Physician
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 34
Location: Bay Area
Salary: $235,000
Net Worth: $216,689 ($17,969 cash savings in HYSA and emergency fund; $160,000 investment fund; $53,000 retirement and HSA, minus debt. I do not own any property, but I’m hoping to save up for a down payment after I pay off my student loans. My partner and I have separate checking and savings accounts. However, we split groceries, trips, utilities, and other household bills. Our rent is split evenly since we have similar salaries.)
Debt: $14,280 in student loans. I started with more than $250,000 but have been aggressively paying this down.
Paycheck Amount (2x month): $5,385
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,100/month (my share after splitting with my partner)
Monthly Loan Payments: $1,500
All Other Monthly Expenses:
All inclusive gym: $170, with extra payment of $50 for the spin studio. I realize this is a lot of money to spend on fitness, but it is the one thing that keeps me sane, it’s conveniently located, and I view it as an investment in my health since I do far more intense workouts when other people around me are absolutely killing it.
Spotify Premium: $11
Cell Phone: I have remained on a family plan since college.
Netflix: I mooch off my family.
New York Times subscription: $8.95
Amazon Prime: $6
Savings: I put $4,000 towards my investment account, and $300 towards my “play around with stocks” account every month.

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?
There was definitely an expectation for me to attend higher education. I grew up in a family that valued higher education, and my parents had graduate degrees. My family was both a source of pride and anxiety for me because everyone seemed so accomplished. I was always taught that education was very important and a pipeline for success as an immigrant in this country. I was also very studious and it seems like the natural course for me to pursue higher education. I dabbled around and I did not know what I wanted to pursue after college, but I knew that college was a non-negotiable. I was fortunate enough to have college paid for by my family and I went to a public school, which was cheaper than the private schools I was considering. Graduating without loans from my undergraduate program was a tremendous blessing, and I will never take it for granted. Later, when I decided to go to medical school, I knew I would have to take out loans. I took out about $25,000 from my family, which I still have to pay back, and the rest from federal student loans with astronomically high interest rates.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were always frugal with their money, but they paid for summer programs and enrichment activities that they viewed as an investment in my future. We never spent money on luxury items, and our house was filled with items that were what Redditors would refer to as “buy it for life.” We did take larger trips every few years, but this slowed down as my siblings and I got older and busier. My parents spoke about money as something that we should use to be comfortable and secure, but never something that we should spend in excess. They tried to teach us financial literacy early, but since I had no money of my own, I found it difficult to grasp some of these abstract concepts. My father helped me open up a savings account in high school when I got my first job as a way to help me build credit. I put all of my savings from my job into this account, and any money that my grandparents would send me for birthdays (to the order of $40 to $50 a year).

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working at a restaurant in high school. I also worked as a sport instructor and an academic tutor in high school. I decided to take on these jobs because I wanted to earn some extra cash and wanted to do something besides school and sports. My parents never forced me to get a job, but they always encouraged me to pursue the jobs I was applying for.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not worry about money growing up until the 2008 recession. At that point, my father lost his job, and our finances felt more tenuous. I stressed quite a bit about money in high school and college as a result.

Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now because I live in such a HCOL place. I worry that I will never be able to afford my own home and pay for higher education for my future children. I realize how fortunate I am but I do wonder if I should diversify my income more in case I cannot practice medicine in the future for whatever reason.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I worked for a few years after college and before medical school making less than $50k a year, and was financially independent at that point in time. I became more financially dependent on my parents during medical school as a result of the loan they gave me. However, after medical school, I regained my financial independence. I know that if something truly catastrophic happened, my parents would help me out with whatever limited funds they have (there is definitely a cultural component to this as well) but I hope to never rely on them or their limited retirement funds. I would rather be able to take care of them in their older age.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have never received any inheritance. My parents did give me $50,000 to help make a dent in my loan payments a few years ago, but I am expected to pay them back for this.


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