Senior Consultant In Philadelphia — Money Diary

Occupation: Senior consultant
Industry: Research and government contract
Age: 33
Location: Philadelphia
Salary: $94,000
Net Worth: $32,000 (across HYSA and checking account)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,400; I contribute 6% of my post-tax income to my Roth IRA and my employer matches 3%.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $1,535
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1,535 (I live alone in a one bedroom and den)
Utilities: $150
Gym: $120 for unlimited studio classes
Internet: $40
Cell Phone: $40
Spotify: $16 (for premium dual, for my sister and me. I use her Amazon account.)
Hulu: $8
Apple Storage: $0.99
Eyebrows: $17
Saving: I try to move about $2,000 per month to my HYSA

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 wasn’t an added pressure, but I always knew growing up that I would go to college and at least get a master’s degree, because other than being academically inclined, I wasn’t good at anything else. I also truly enjoyed learning and knew college was the only exit strategy to leave my home country. I had an (approximately) 80% merit scholarship for my undergraduate and I covered the rest, and living expenses, with multiple jobs, additional scholarships, and about $2,000 annual support from my family. My master’s and PhD were fully funded, and I received a stipend of about $22,000 a year to cover my living expenses. I graduated with no loans or debts.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My father was a serious gambler, and we were almost at a point of losing our home, so my relationship with money has always been scary and unsettling. My parents constantly fought over finances, and my sister and I had a pretty traumatic childhood because of that.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was during college in the admission office. It was a great way to make money and friends from different majors.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. While we never had to worry about necessities growing up, my father’s bad money habits and lack of savings or financial planning led me to constantly worry about money. This has scarred me for life.

Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money — not for the daily essentials but for big purchases like buying a home or my retirement. Since I was in college for so long, I am just getting started on saving for my retirement, which makes me nervous. I also want to buy a home at the end of next year or beginning of 2026 but worry about doing so as a single person on my salary. I do know I am underpaid for my role. But I am thankful that I have no debt; that helps me calm down a little.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I left my home country right after high school at the age of 18, so since then I have been financially responsible for myself. But I always had my family if I absolutely needed them, and my sister and I also occasionally relied on each other for financial support.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

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