Data Scientist In Southern California — Money Diary

Occupation: Data scientist
Industry: Research and development
Age: 26
Location: Southern California
Salary: $135,000
Net Worth: $71,737 (savings: $11,000; HYSA: $20,000; foreign account: $5,477; Roth IRA: $22,000; 401(k): $31,000; car value: $28,000; minus debt)
Debt: $45,740 (car loan: $11,500; family loan: $20,000; student loan: $14,240. My family told me to pay back the bank and government loans first. That said, I’m set to pay off the car loan in a couple months, and I aim to pay $10,000 of the family loan back by December of this year, and the other $10,000 by August of next year, both in lump-sum payments.)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,900 (after tax, 401(k), and medical and dental insurance)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,650 (one-bedroom apartment)
Internet & Technology Fee: $75 (mandatory with the apartment)
Water, Sewage & Trash: $95
Gas & Electricity: $65
Car Loan: $350
Phone: ~$99 (This is me and my mom, plus I’m paying for my phone in installments. The actual monthly bill is ~$150, but work reimburses my 66% at the end of the year.)
Medical Insurance: $98 (taken out of my paycheck)
Dental Insurance: $9 (taken out of my paycheck)
401(k): ~$1,912 (17% of pre-tax salary)
Savings: $1,500
Gym: $70

Annual Expenses
Renter’s Insurance: $88
Car Insurance: $2,050

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 always had an interest in science and engineering, so it was assumed I would go to college, and I’m eternally grateful to my parents for paying for my undergraduate education in full. I took part-time jobs on campus for spending and for room and board. I also took out a loan when I chose to go back for a graduate program.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Both of my parents grew up in households where money was very tight, so they emphasized saving and were clear about what daily things cost (they had me tally the grocery bill before we got to the register, for example and explained the cost of new after-school activities). I go to them frequently for advice on financial matters (how to rectify the 401(k) calculations I messed up when changing jobs, for example, or how and when to pay back my loans).

What was your first job and why did you get it?
In college, I started tutoring so I could have spending money. I also took a job on campus because I wanted to help offset tuition fees, even though my parents said they would take care of tuition.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Only when we first moved to California. Things were suddenly a lot more expensive, and that was the first time I heard my parents stress about the increased cost of housing, rather than just being mindful of it.

Do you worry about money now?
While I was working full-time abroad, my salary was nearly a quarter of what it is now ($37,000), and I was only able to save $200 per month for grad school, despite my best attempts at frugality. I was hyper-aware of what I could and couldn’t afford. I worried quite a bit when I first moved back to the US because I was starting from scratch and had to eat a lot of big costs in a short amount of time (new car, moving out, buying furniture, new professional shoes and clothing). A month ago, I forecasted my expenses for the next year and realized I could put away about $750 per paycheck. That majorly calmed me down.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I was 21. I graduated college, got a job, and moved to a foreign country. I knew I could always ask my parents for help if I needed it, but I wanted to prove to myself and to them that I could manage on my own.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents paid for my bachelor’s education in full. When I first moved abroad, my parents made sure I was set up and could start living there without stress by paying for my furniture, deposit, and first month’s rent, plus extra money to cover expenses before my first paycheck came in a month later.

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