A Week On The Island Of Hawai’i On A $150,000 Salary

·11-min read

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a project manager who makes $150,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an astrology reading.

All currency in USD

Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Pharmaceutical Research
Age: 30
Location: The Island Of Hawai’i
Salary: $150,000
Net Worth: $140,800 ($90,000 in 401(k), $15,000 in emergency fund, $28,800 in investments, $7,000 in liquid savings. I am single and financially independent. I currently live with my dad and don’t own a home or have any large assets.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,713 after 8% 401(k) contribution
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Housing: I moved into my father’s house at the start of COVID and contribute $500 a month to groceries/household costs. I do not pay rent.
Loan Payments: $0 (I was able to pay off my car in the first six months of living at home.)
Storage Unit: $200
Phone Bill: $85
Streaming: $50
Gym Membership: $162
Car Insurance: $115

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?
The expectation was that I would attend higher education if I didn’t have a trade and/or business plan. I am the first person in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree — both my father and my brother own construction companies, and my mom was a stay-at-home mum until I was in high school. My college was paid for by my parents. I attended a state university, where my mother worked, so they received 50% off tuition. They also paid for my books and fees. I worked through school to pay for bills/spending, but I had a credit card under my dad’s account for basics.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My family didn’t talk extensively about finances when I was growing up. The most-stressed lesson was always not to live beyond your means and do not get into debt. I witnessed my dad working very hard for his company, and he was very proud of not having any type of debt beyond a mortgage.

What was your first job, and why did you get it?
Beyond doing clerical work for my dad’s company to earn my allowance, I was a sandwich artist at Subway, where I started when I was 16. I got the job to afford my gas and earn spending money. My parents bought my first car and paid for the insurance, but everything else was up to me. I’ve worked nearly full-time since then, with a few small gaps in college.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I don’t recall ever worrying about money during my childhood. Both my brother and I were provided with everything we needed, as well as the ‘fun’ things. We were both involved in very competitive sports teams, which included traveling and private coaches, and were never asked to contribute to or fundraise the cost. I attended a very wealthy high school and in relation to a lot of my classmates, I knew my family wasn’t wealthy, but we were very comfortable. I did not have to contribute to any family bills, but I did work to earn certain things my parents provided me.

Do you worry about money now?
I don’t worry about money on a day-to-day or month-to-month basis. I worry about being able to afford buying a home on a single income. Even before living at home, I made enough to cover my monthly costs, contribute to my 401(k) and savings, and have a decent amount of expendable income. Living at home, I have had the privilege of paying off my car, contributing a very large amount to my retirement, saving up for a down payment, and still having plenty of spending money. But when it comes to buying a home, I feel an immense amount of pressure to continue making six figures just to be able to stay afloat.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself, and do you have a financial safety net?
I became 100% financially responsible for myself at the age of 24, when I graduated from college and moved away from my hometown. Since then, I haven’t received any type of financial assistance. I currently have a financial safety net of $15,000 that is in an index fund and not touched. In the event that I deplete all of my savings and my financial safety net, I do know that I have family and a family business that could help me. On the other side of the coin, I currently help one of my parents financially.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received a $10,000 inheritance when a family member passed away, which I used to live on during part of my college years. I have never received any other type of financial inheritance.

Day One

6 a.m. — As I do most days, I wake up at 4 a.m. to log on to work. I work remotely for an East Coast–based company, so I operate five hours earlier to coincide with their working hours. I make coffee at home. My dad makes cold brew concentrate and it’s what I drink every single day. I also make my breakfast at home. Because I don’t pay rent or household bills, I buy most of the groceries for the house. Food prices in Hawaii are sky-high, so I make a concerted effort to eat at home as much as possible. I work from home for the remainder of the morning.

9 a.m. — I scroll through Instagram between meetings and come across a post for the local humane society that is running a fundraiser. I donate $20. $20

2 p.m. — I go to a lunchtime workout class, which is part of my monthly membership. Because of my early schedule, the lunch hour is the best time for me to work out and it’s honestly a great relief to get out of the house most days. After the gym, I force myself to get an oil change, seeing as the oil-change light has been on for a week. I add on a car wash. After, I drive home and eat a lunch of leftover pizza, which a friend and I ordered last night while we binge-watched Yellowjackets. $116.51

7 p.m. — I meet my friend to go surfing for a couple of hours and when I get home, I put together a meal of leftover poke and rice that I got at the grocery store a few days ago. Because I work so early, I’m in bed by 9 or 10 at the latest. I typically read a book or watch a TV show to fall asleep.

Daily Total: $136.51

Day Two

6 a.m. — My morning looks the same as every other weekday morning: coffee, breakfast, more coffee, and working from home until the lunch hour.

2 p.m. — I meet a friend at the beach after work. We catch up and spend some time reading. I ride my moped to the grocery store to get some items for a new recipe I want to make tonight. I buy Portuguese sausage, an onion, half-and-half, red curry paste, arrowroot flour, garlic, fish sauce, sriracha, a potato, lemon, and lime. $56.76

8 p.m. — I make Panang curry meatballs for dinner and pair them with rice and red wine. A friend invites me to go camping next weekend, so I book a camping permit online. I have another glass of wine and finish my Netflix show before bed. $6

Daily Total: $62.76

Day Three

10 a.m. — My morning is another rinse-and-repeat morning: coffee, breakfast, and work from home. While on Instagram, I remember I need new sandals for an upcoming family trip. I buy some Birkenstocks from Nordstrom for $42.30, using a $10 coupon I had. I continue my social media binge, make a couple of TikToks, and wrap up work for the day. I eat some leftover meatballs for lunch and then meet my friend to go surfing for the afternoon. $42.30

7 p.m. — My friends-with-benefits invites me over for dinner — he’s making blackened ono. We cook dinner and drink wine. We spend the night playing with our dogs and watching an old season of The Great British Baking Show.

Daily Total: $42.30

Day Four

6 a.m. — Same morning routine. Today I have endless meetings, and truly not enough coffee.

2 p.m. — Once I finally end my meetings, I go for a run and bring my dog. We run about three miles, and I am not feeling great at all afterward. I cancel my plans to go surfing because I have dinner plans tonight for a friend’s birthday and need to see how I’m feeling. I stop at the store on the way home and buy a lei for the birthday girl to bring to dinner. $23.03

7 p.m. — After a quick nap, I’m feeling much better. I get ready and meet friends at a restaurant with a Taco Thursday special! It is somewhat of a surprise since we haven’t been able to be together much during COVID. I give my friend the lei I bought her, which she absolutely loves. We order beers, mai tais, and lots of street tacos, and her husband insists on paying the bill. I head home to do my skincare and fall asleep knowing I have an early morning.

Daily Total: $23.03

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — It’s Aloha Friday! I still have my same morning routine and get to end my workday a little early today for an appointment. I’ve booked a call with an astrologist, which costs me $225 for an hour. She does a reading, calling in my spirit guides, and we focus a lot on relationships, traveling, and family. I don’t believe in astrology as a way to dictate my life decisions, but I do find it validating and thought-provoking, especially in times of uncertainty. I work out at home, then take my dog to the beach for the afternoon. $225

7 p.m. — When I get home from the beach, I’m truly not sure I have the energy to cook dinner. My dad suggests ordering Chinese food and I would love nothing more. He orders, pays for it, and picks it up while I shower and get comfy for the night. Fridays are full of skincare, Dateline, and wine.

Daily Total: $225

Day Six

6 a.m. — I would love to be able to sleep in on the weekends, but it’s just not in the cards. I make my coffee and have a light breakfast before taking my dog for a run. Afterward, I stop at the grocery store to get a few things I need for the weekend. I buy a pack of eight hard pineapple ciders, Parmesan cheese, and hot cocoa. Then we go to a tide pool to go swimming and I run into a few friends. We drink half the ciders I bought. $37.09

5 p.m. — I offered to help my friend-with-benefits deliver a car to a customer a couple of hours away. He drives their car and I follow him in his car. Once we drop it off, we drive to a volcano to hike and see the lava. We eat sandwiches I packed for dinner. After our hike, he drives us home, and I am up way past my bedtime.

Daily Total: $37.09

Day Seven

8 a.m. — We wake up in the morning starving and decide to go out to breakfast. We walk our dogs and then go to one of our favourite breakfast spots. He pays the bill since I did him a favour, but I buy a coffee to go. We decide to go to the beach to watch the waves and swim for a while. $4.95

5 p.m. — After, I shower and get my life together. My friend picks me up and we go to the grocery store, where I buy salsa, chips, and a Diet Coke. We take our snacks to a friend’s vintage store, where we’re having a craft night. Our friend has hundreds of boxes of vintage items and we spend the night snacking and making collages. Naturally, I’m in bed by 9 p.m., ready for the next week of work. $14.79

Daily Total: $19.74

Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual’s experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.

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