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As someone who used to be a domestic worker for high net-worth individuals, I`ve been struck by White Lotus in particular, as to how accurate many of the portrayals of working for these individuals was it was especially accurate. For example, to the experiences I had working at yachts and country clubs but in the case of succession, we're talking about a level of wealth that's so far removed from day-to-day society that it's unlikely that most people would ever have encountered people like this.

I'm not prepared for these questions.

I watched a couple of videos, and I saw this question. I was like I don't know how I'm going to answer that.

Hi, my name is Mei Li. I am 28 years old. I’m a revenue accountant, and I make about 110,000 a year, and I live in Brooklyn.

Hi, I'm Claire I'm 28 years old as well I work as a physician assistant, and I live in Queens, New York, and I make 98,500.

What is your rent, is it average low or high for your area?

My rent is 1850 for a one-bedroom in Queens. It is a pretty good deal for what it is at this time obviously you can talk to anybody in my neighborhood who's lived there for many years, and it is far above what they pay. But you know if you look at the average, especially on Street Easy type thing, where I live is one of the fastest increasing rents. So, I'm doing okay where I am. but yes.

How about you?

My rent is 2550. I believe that it's extremely low for where I live in Brooklyn we came in a pandemic deal and the rent has been slowly increasing every year. I think last year it went up by a hundred dollars a month and this year it went up by an additional 200 a month, but it's we thought about looking for a new place to live when we got our rent increase this year and Everything in our area is just so much more than that. yeah yeah, it's definitely low and I am fortunate enough to split it with my partner. So, my portion of rent is actually only say it's like 870. something like that.

That's awesome,

-Which helps significantly.

Oh, that's beautiful, I sublease directly from a lady who owns the apartment, which is fantastic, so I've been there for a little bit over a year, and she asked me if I wanted to renew and I asked her how much it's going to increase and she said zero dollars, so I will be staying there another year. Yeah, It's amazing.

So, wow.

It's a good deal.

I lived in Harlem for a pandemic deal as well, with a big company, and they were going to increase it by 500 the following year and if there's any problems, it's like screaming into a void, to like get anybody to help with anything. Whereas for her, you know that she lives there, she cares for it she has she's invested in it. So, it are it feels like a good deal for that alone plus, I know if I stay another year, it probably won't increase significantly. So yeah,

Yeah, there is nothing like knowing that your rent isn't going to increase.

Oh my God yes, I feel like it every year in New York. You’re just like, can I afford it another year? We'll See

Yes, yeah exactly like I think that's like a big source of anxiety that I have it's like how soon is the rent going to increase so much that we just can't afford to live here anymore? yeah, and that's with a good salary.

All right, how did you get your job?

I got my job through a friend who worked at the company I had been looking to leave my previous job, so I was looking for accounting roles specifically in the tech space and specifically for revenue accounting. I had heard good things about this company and my friend had worked there, so, I asked him for a referral. and yeah so, he gave me a referral.

What about you?

So I am currently between jobs, so this previous job, I worked in the emergency room as a PA. You get your license through the graduate program; this job that I'm waiting to start I got through a Facebook group of fellow physician assistants, which is kind of a nice way to network.

 What are your biggest workplace struggles in your industry?

So, the healthcare industry is obviously a little bit stretched thin with covid, so that's one of the workplace problems. We have quite a bit of burnout, which has left a lot of people leaving. In particular, I worked in the emergency room, and you can really feel that kind of generally a lot of emergency rooms are understaffed, people are overworked so that you can kind of feel the strain in it no matter where you work in the healthcare.

I think the biggest struggle in the accounting industry is that there isn't really a structure for Upward Mobility aside from in public accounting and I think in a different way. But similarly, there's a lot of burnout in the public accounting industry and also just Accounting in general because of the hours that are required to meet public accounting deadlines and even once you move out of public accounting if you're working in a company that's publicly traded you also need to meet certain deadlines, which can lead to working sometimes significant amounts of overtime.

Oof, I'm unprepared for these questions.

I watched a couple of videos and I saw this question I was like I don't know how I'm going to answer, that.

 I did not prepare for it.

Do you have any savings/ Investments? What is your best savings strategy?

I do have savings and investments; my savings include a 401k and a Roth IRA. And I have an emergency savings fund. My best saving strategy is to max out my 401k and my Roth IRA just because I am not very good at saving money when it's in my checking account so the other this is the main place that I save money, and then the other way that I save money is my company does an employee stock purchase program so I can allocate a per a percentage of my paycheck to go to this ESPP and I kind of use that as my savings for long-term goals like buying a house or a wedding. I've tried to save money outside of that and have not been successful.
Fair enough. for the ESPP how long is the timeline for it? can be anything?
So for my company specifically it's a six-month time period, so four to six months the money accrues, and at the end of the period they buy however much stock the funds that I've allocated will buy, and then so that happens twice a year and usually, I try not to let myself take that money because I usually sell it right away and I try not to take that money and spend it on paying off credit card bills or anything like that. I try to allocate it towards whatever savings goal needs attention at that time.
Cool. I have my own 401 K. I don't have a Roth IRA, but I have a 401 K. I have not been diligent with it. I’ve been focusing most of my savings towards my student loans whether that's good or bad. Up For Debate, I recognize I should be putting more towards my 401k. That is my next job. I will be putting more into that, but I do have an investment and a separate savings account that I got from the TFD when they told us to maybe put a separate pot that you don't necessarily touch so I have a separate bank account where I put in my emergency fund and also for investing there. and I just allocate a certain amount every month for my paycheck to put in there yeah in terms of for my student loans. I try to allocate like it's like 40% as much as I can of my per paycheck towards my student loans.

Wow, that's a big percentage.

I'm trying to knock it down as much as possible while the interest rate has been zero percent because it's all Federal loans right now.

What are some ways your finances differ so?

I think maybe one of the biggest ways is that I share my rent with my fiancé, and you live alone so that's probably one of the biggest ways yes yes, well saving for retirement and I need to put a lot more Focus towards that. That`s true, but I am doing less well at paying down my student loans so yeah.

Yeah, different priorities.

That's fair.

I think we have a similar approach to yeah and saving versus spending I think we're both pretty frugal.

But yeah, I don't know, like I agree with your view of retirement. I think because my anxiety is so high about my student loans, I've been putting more into that but I'm kind of settling more into it now that I understand that it's just a long-term commitment of paying it off and I'm trending more your way.

So how much do you have in student loans?
I started with 126,000 when I graduated from grad school in 2021. and I've brought it down to 96,000.

Wow, I feel like if it's something that's causing you that much anxiety. It is worth it to pay more for it.

Yeah, but it's an unreasonable anxiety I recognize that my whole family is like "Calm down, It's okay." A lot of people deal with student loans. You know, unfortunately.

That is true.

Yeah, how much money do you owe?

 I graduated with 28,000 in loans. I was very fortunate that my sister went to a less expensive state school. I also went to a state school. but it was the flagship university. So, it did cost more, but because she had a scholarship, and her school was less expensive in general. My aunt had given us both a certain amount of money to help pay for school. and I was able to take some of her money to put towards my loans. amazing I don't know if she knows that though, so hopefully she doesn't watch this. So, I currently have a little over 11 000 remaining.


Thank you. Yeah, I was paying it off pretty aggressively immediately after college. I think I was trying to pay 500- yeah 500 a month. but then after, I think after it reached below 15 000, I pulled back a little bit and I was like this is a number that I can mentally deal with. Yeah, having a long term and since then I've been paying closer to the minim. I think I paid 200 a month just because the interest rate is lower than some of the other money that I might need to borrow.

 for sure. yeah, what has been the most surprising part of your adulthood- of adulthood?

 I think the most surprising thing for me about adulthood was realizing that even though I was making more money, I was also spending more money on bills and like student loan payments and it doesn't feel as like I don't feel as rich as I thought I would if that makes sense like I was totally when I started working I was like oh I'm making sixty thousand dollars a year. That's so much money. I'll have my debt paid down in no time and it turns out that that has not happened.

 Oh God, that's so true. dental and health care took me by surprise. That was a nasty surprise at 26. When you get bumped out of your parents' Healthcare, the bills that you get, and how to choose your health insurance, and if something goes wrong, how much will you're left with as a bill?

Yeah Definitely, I think that before I was bumped off my parents' health insurance, I was still paying co-pays and if I needed medication if I picked it up from the pharmacy, I would pay for it myself. But yeah, the premiums are yeah, a lot

And I get more aware of my mortality as I get older. So, I'm just like Oh my God, we are just one car hitting you away from like absolute I don't know just financial despair. I don't know why I get nervous about health care, so that- I didn't expect it from adulthood.
Have you ever successfully negotiated a pay raise?
Yes, I have, the first time I negotiated for a pay raise was when I initially got my job. I want to say they offered me 65 or 67 which was barely more than I was making at my first job, so I asked them for 70. When was this in 2019? and I think that my mentality at the time was I didn't have any experience being a revenue accountant. So, I was willing to accept a lower salary. and I think that if I were in the same position, I would probably do the same thing but also, I think that maybe I might have sold myself a little short then the second time that I negotiated a pay raise. was at the same job, but I had interviewed for a different job sorry let me rewind that I had asked for a raise and a promotion. and I was given both of those, but the raise wasn't what I was hoping it would be, so I started looking for a new job. I ended up getting a job offer for I think it was a hundred and fifteen thousand with potential bonus compensation for more than that but it also would have involved longer hours and been more of a public accounting kind of role and when was that one this was last year, so 2022 in the spring of 2022 and I brought the offer to my current employer and I asked them if they could if not match it get me closer to that number and, thankfully, it worked. and I am still employed.
That is so impressive
They weren't able to get me fully to 115. but they were able to pay me I think 95,000 at the time
Nice. And other incentives to kind of match it closer to it?
Oh yes, I also got 15,000 in equity which will vest over four years.
What about you?
No, unfortunately, no I so, I worked for the city hospital, and it's a very in they're called like a band yeah, like a Pay Band so just depending on your experience, that is your starting salary. and it's with everybody else. So, it's very difficult to argue with that. and then with my newer job, it's kind of the same thing. So, I've tried but it didn't really work because bands make it tricky. yeah, I mean, I appreciate that you know that everybody is getting paid the same, so when I got hired for this new job that I haven't started yet I wasn't initially happy with the salary and I tried to negotiate but it turns out that many people weren't happy with the salary, so there was an all-around raise. So, I'd like to take credit for it, but it was not me

I think you can take credit for that.

I'll take partial credit.

 What has been your biggest financial mistake?

I went to a private school for grad school. That was my biggest mistake. We both went to UMass Amherst, which it was a flagship. So, it was more expensive than the other public universities in Massachusetts. but it was still much cheaper than a lot of other options, and I left to go to grad school. and I was like I want personalized attention because I felt like I missed that and then I foolishly thought a private school for grad school was exactly what I needed. Once you've reached a certain number of how much it costs, you just don't understand what it means and even though I was 24, it yeah, I'm embarrassed that I worked with a lot of people at my hospital who went to school for a total of forty thousand dollars in every day I'm just like Oh damn that could have been me. It could have been me.

That's really tough.

It's okay. I'm happy for other people who made better decisions. and if you learn right, exactly, I'll be able to pay it off eventually. So that's a blessing in itself.

How about for you?

I think that my biggest financial mistake was not asking for a promotion and a raise sooner than I did. I think again, coming into this role, I felt like I didn't have any applicable experience, even though now I understand that there are certain transferable skills from job to job so I spent a year learning the job. and I think that I was kind of hoping that they would just see that I had learned a lot and that I had really improved and was adding value to the team and that they would just automatically offer me a promotion and offer me an applicable pay raise. but I think it took two years of that not happening, so after two years I was like oh they`re not going to offer me something so I started asking for it, but I didn't really push that hard. Initially, I thought it was probably two and a half years. I really was like Hey I want this promotion. yeah, and then it was another like I think I've been working for three years before I finally got it and I think that if I had asked sooner for what I wanted I would have probably gotten it at least a year earlier and would have been a lot less unhappy in the interim.
and like it because I think that I felt significantly undervalued. So, I think that if I had asked, I would have been at a higher salary, and I wouldn't have felt so undervalued and then so unhappy.
Oh, for sure.
Okay so what was your financial upbringing like, and how has how was money talked about growing up I think that money wasn't really talked about really when I was growing up, I think if it was discussed at all, it was a point of stress. My mother was a teacher, and my father was an entrepreneur in the construction business for probably the first 10 years of my life. But then, once the housing market crashed, his business shut down. And I remember in high school there was a lot more financial stress. I remember my parents were concerned about how they would be able to pay for all of the bills that they had but I don't think that it ever really touched me on a like basic needs level. I- we always had a place to live. We always had enough food, probably more than enough food, honestly, because my mother really likes to cook. and I think that the only way is that I felt like there wasn't enough money was when my parents would talk about how they didn't have enough money or like if there wasn't enough money for me to do like things that my peers were doing, like go to Camp which wasn't necessary because my mother had the summers off, so paying for childcare wasn't really a necessary expense.

Did the money conversation change as you got older?
Since I became more interested in Personal Finance on my own like I think that my parents didn't really know a lot about personal finance. I think it was just kind of a gray area for them. They knew whether or not they had enough money. But I don't think that they were really that they had a lot of knowledge about investing or anything like that so a lot of the things that I do now like with my 401k and with I have a health savings account also like those were all things that I had to learn on my own as it came up so, I think that now when I talk to my parents about money it's more me telling them like what they should be doing sort of like my dad doesn't pay down his credit cards. and I don't think that he has a lot of credit card debt I think he just carries balance because he thinks that's what he should be doing.
My financial upbringing so I was like the upper middle class in the suburbs that I was in I was with a single mom who is very financially literate. So she was very lucky with that, you know, it's a single mother and like a nice suburb we live with her parents, so that helped and I never felt any kind of strain and she didn't discuss financial difficulties very often but she would talk about the importance of retirement funding and no credit card or no credit card debts paying you know the things that I was very lucky to learn growing up. Essentially. She lived many years in another country before moving to the U.S, so to her, it was very important that we all understood that putting money into retirement is of the utmost importance no matter where you are like you should have your own little savings and a plan for how you should retire no matter where you are and that kind of carried me through thank goodness so I go to her all the time for questions because she knows everything she's still the smartest person I know and, thank goodness with finances as well. So, if I'm about to make a choice with finances I'm able to talk to her, call her. and she'll call me out very fast if I'm going to be doing something that she deems stupid that's useful it's very useful she's the one that's like distressed with debt is not as important as saving for retirement. So, I try to keep that in mind. And then I have a sister. and I because of the financial diet it really kind of got us into talking about personal finances. So, we try to meet up you know. like once a month to discuss our financials, where we are, and how we're planning to continue toward our goals. so that's far the conversation I have now.
I'll see you soon.
Yeah, see you soon.