I turn early 30s, make ~$435K/year solo, WFH in Denver (typ. in a VHCOL city), and work in real estate development. : MoneyDiariesACTIVE

Hi everyone, I am a long-time reader of this sub! I love the vulnerability, honesty, and complexity of thought on this sub… and the liveliness of discussion about life and living (not just about money)! I am posting with a throwaway account. Despite my username, I am a cis woman.

I feel quite vulnerable posting this as I am keeping everything as real and as accurate as possible (I asked my husband to audit it (we are taking it very seriously)!! Open to constructive criticism, but please be kind!

A few notes.

  1. Trigger warning: mentions of suicide and depression.

  2. Due to rounding, numbers presented throughout this MD may not add up precisely to the totals.

  3. If you’re wondering why I don’t mention walking the foster dog much, it’s because he is an older dog with heartworm so we have to keep his exercise pretty minimal.

  4. I’m a very wordy diarist… I hope it’s interesting for those who love details!! For those who are skimmers, I tried to format it so you can skim my finances!

  5. I’m glad to shed some representation of messy sleep schedules. :] Haha. And on that topic… sorry for posting this a day early. I’m scared I am going to lose my draft and all my formatting, so I’d rather be safe than sorry!

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📌 SECTION ONE: ASSETS & LIABILITIES

Background. DINK. My husband (H) and I split all expenses and investments 50/50, so I am only reporting my part of the finances. My salary is mine only (not 50% of our joint income). Psychologically, we treat all accounts as joint, but we have to keep our accounting organized for compliance and business purposes.

Side-Gig: Rental Properties. H and I invest in rental properties as a “side gig”. It feels weird calling it a “side gig” because many “mom and pop” Americans do this to diversify their investments (especially veterans with super low-interest rates!). I classify it as a “side gig” in my MD because we do a bunch of work to put investments into the proper business entities and incur business expenses so it’s a lot of work! The amounts shown are my share only.

Side-Gig: Angel Investments. We invest in startups we believe in. For background, angel investors (AKA: private investors, seed investors, angel funders) is an individual who provides financial backing for small startups or entrepreneurs; typically required to be an Accredited Investor which is defined by a minimum salary or a minimum net worth. These start-ups don’t generate any cash flow, so they only impact my net worth. I don’t really think about them day-to-day; I live my life assuming they all fail and go to $0. Something about not counting your chickens…

r/MoneyDiariesACTIVE - I turn early 30s, make ~$435K/year solo, WFH in Denver (typ. in a VHCOL city), and work in real estate development.

Caption: My net worth.

📌 SECTION TWO: INCOME

Income Progression. I’ve been working in my field for ~7 years (if you include my time in grad school, I’ve been in my field for ~9 years). My starting salary was shit, but I love buildings and cities… so naturally, I wanted to be an architect. Turns out, it doesn’t pay very well and I felt like the clients (typically older, bro-y, white men) were making stupid, tasteless decisions. So I went to grad school and vowed to become a more design-savvy and fair investor/developer. Now, I get to work with architects and make design-savvy decisions while also understanding the finance behind it! To me, it’s the same industry, just a different career path.

Note: The remaining income ($96,000 annualized) comes from my share of the rental properties.

r/MoneyDiariesACTIVE - I turn early 30s, make ~$435K/year solo, WFH in Denver (typ. in a VHCOL city), and work in real estate development.

Caption: My income progression.

📌 SECTION THREE: REVENUE + EXPENSES

I put my monthly revenue and expenses into the same section so it’s easier to “balance” my budget.

r/MoneyDiariesACTIVE - I turn early 30s, make ~$435K/year solo, WFH in Denver (typ. in a VHCOL city), and work in real estate development.

Caption: My detailed monthly revenue and expenses.

A note on our pre-homeownership living situation: Before H and I were homeowners, we were EXTREME with regard to finding good deals for our rentals. I have NEVER spent more than $1,200/mo on rent in [VHCOL city] (and once H moved in, it went down to $600/mo). For reference, VHCOL city’s average rent in 2019 (pre-COVID) was ~$3,500. I always had roommates (it was great: my roomies kept my social calendar colorful and alive!) and I always negotiated my rent aggressively. At our most extreme, H and I lived in a <80 SF private room together in a shared apartment for about a year. Very, very fond memories but probably wasn’t worth it because we spent some of our savings on therapy: turns out two animals confined in close quarters will grow the urge to rip each others’ heads off. Who knew?

📌 SECTION FOUR: MY MONEY DIARY

Summary below and my actual diary entries are after the break because I’m so wordy.

Summary of Expenses Spent ($)
Food + Drink $158
Fun + Entertainment
Home + Health $450
Clothes + Beauty
Transportation
Other Expenses $107
TOTAL $715

📌 SECTION FIVE: REFLECTION

Keeping this MD helped me recognize how much I love diarying (I used to do this as a teenager DAILY) and how much I need it as an outlet to vent. The majority of my writing (and what I edited out) are deeply personal conflicts that took up a lot of brain space.

I spent a significant amount of time writing and editing my diary and was very excited to see my results. There were MANY times during the week when H would ask, “hey, what are you up to?” and I would shout back, “SORRY, I WANT QUIET TIME RIGHT NOW: I’M WORKING ON MY MONEY DIARY!” Thank you, r/MoneyDiariesACTIVE. It was a fun and insightful exercise.

Was this a normal week for you?

Yes, normal week in my COVID life. The only “buts” are: (1) investment opportunities like Deal X are not a weekly occurrence, they are more of a once every quarter or so thing, and (2) if it weren’t for COVID, I would probably spend more on meeting up with friends at restaurants or cafes.

How do you feel about your expenses?

I am really pleased I’m putting a lot of my money to work! But I was surprised I spent so much on food, I need to cut down on delivery.

Is there anything you’re actively working on?

I want to treat and pay back my parents. As first-gen Asian-Americans, my parents came to America knowing absolutely no English but worked hard, saved, and lived a frugal lifestyle. They sacrificed a lot!

My parents are very traditional in their caretaking responsibilities and paid for my education and my share of the downpayment for H and my first home. However, they have explicitly said they have no expectations of me taking care of them. Now that I am older and wiser, I’d really like to pay my parents back for the down payment. I’d also like to treat them to several vacations after this whole pandemic gets under control (while they are still healthy and active)!

Both my parents got COVID this year, so we were forced to confront our own mortality and the reality of aging. I am strongly considering quitting my job and moving back to Asia to spend more quality time with them. Part of the reason I am making this MD is to help me suss out if I can afford to quit my job to simply focus on spending time with them. My language skills are not strong enough to find a job in my parents’ native country, so I need to be prepared to be unemployed/retired, freelance, etc.

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DAY 1, FRIDAY

  • 10 AM – Roll out of bed and login to WFH. Many calls, lotsa emails, and an important investment meeting with external parties so I put on a blazer and a bit more makeup than usual.

  • 12 PM – Salad using whatever about to go bad. Then, back to work.

  • 8 PM – Order a few dishes from a local restaurant, and supplement with more of my “house salad.” $35 for my share

  • 9 PM – H and I talk about work frustrations and we end up choreographing a dance with various ways to flip someone off and singing about rage-quitting to the tune of “Isn’t She Lovely?” The endorphins from practicing “Rage-Quit: The Musical” put us in a really good mood and we fall down a rabbit hole of “YEAH!! I’LL JUST QUIT!! THAT’LL SHOW THEM!! I COULD QUIT RIGHT NOW IF I WANTED TO! IN FACT, I COULD RETIRE!!!” So we started combing through our finances and I figured this was a great segue to start writing the majority of this MD while listening to trashy EDM on repeat.

  • 3 AM – Shit. We’re supposed to have an early morning call tomorrow about Deal X, something we want to personally invest it (not part of our day jobs). I write an honest but cheeky email to the person leading Deal X (quite senior, C-suite position, but we are friends) “Hi. Sorry. I accidentally stayed up all night budgeting and doing random tasks and now it’s 3 AM. I’ll try to catch you late morning instead. ZZZZzzzzz…”

  • 4 AM – Shower, sleep.

FRIDAY TOTAL: $35

DAY 2, SATURDAY

  • 11 AM – H and I sleepily argue about who should lead the Deal X call.

  • 11:30 AM – We tackled a lower stakes phone call first: vet appointments for the foster dog. $0, the rescue pays for it

  • 11:45 AM – Have a call with Deal X’s sponsor, who is a young woman in a male-dominated industry and whip smart. She isn’t even 30 and she’s already founded and served as COO of two companies. We like her, we like the deal, but we want to make sure our investment won’t harm the planet. There’s a lot of research to do and we fantasize about hiring an intern.

  • 12 PM – I mindlessly organize my expenses in Mint and start working on my To Do List… (1) cancel a newspaper subscription that cost nearly $200/year that I rarely RARELY read, (2) call my bank to waive some unreasonable fees (and they agreed!), and so on…

  • 4 PM – Quick leftover soup just to tide me over till dinner.

  • 5 PM – H and I clean our humble rat’s nest and entertain ourselves with more singing and dancing. Then we research Deal X independently. Argh! Some of H’s accounts got hacked, so I upgrade my LastPass as a preventative measure. $36 for an annual subscription.

  • 7 PM – H and I regroup and decide to commit $250K into Deal X. I earmark my share. $125K.

  • 8 PM – Eat yesterday’s leftovers. I cut some fresh parsley and add pine nuts to the leftovers to make it ~*fAnCy*~.

  • 9 PM – I Facetime my family and we talk about my sister’s upcoming interview results and Deal X. I agonize about Deal X some more.

  • 10 PM – I play with the foster dog and make his little paws bounce to the beat of top 90s hits… for an hour. Then, Reddit… for another hour. Why!?!

  • 3 AM – I read tons and tons of articles about the industry Deal X is in. Then, sleep.

SATURDAY TOTAL: $125,036

DAY 3, SUNDAY

  • 12:30 PM – Can you call 12:30 morning? Well… that’s when I woke up. There was a huge snowstorm last night and it’s still going (I love snow)! We putter around in PJs and tidy up the house.

  • 3:30 PM – Make Bucatini All’amatriciana using bacon instead of pancetta (bacon’s the same thing, just pre-cut, less salt, and a whole lot cheaper)!

  • 4 PM – H and I hang out by reading out loud two messy MDs from u/lazlo_camp’s ‘Greatest Hits’ list. Something about this comment and reply is just gold: “What kind of pasta uses a pound of BRIE!?” … “It sounds like a FUCKED UP Cacio e Pepe!!”

  • 4:15 PM – We transition to talking about H’s own money diary and we strategize about what he wants to do next if he leaves his job.

  • 5 PM – Zoom with friends.

  • 7 PM – I update H and my website where we list all the startups we’re invested in. I also execute an order to sell some of my $GME shares. I know it’s not *optimal* to send orders over the weekend, but I know I’ll forget come Monday.

  • 8 PM – Leftovers for dinner.

  • 9 PM – I continued to ignore the long to-do list I have to do for work. I go on a walk because I love the quietness after heavy snowfall. It is so peaceful and calm… I love the sound of the lone car rolling through the snow. I take my weekends *very* seriously because I work such long hours during the week. This! is! MY!!!! TIME!!!!! (TO DO NOTHING!!!)

  • 10 PM – I hate-read old news article about Gov. Newsom eating at French Laundry during lockdown then look up how much French Laundry costs. It makes me mad. I wonder if other people will look at my diary and be mad? I try to edit my diary to be more like-able and relatable. I don’t understand why I am so intimidated by internet strangers… I want to chicken out and just not post…

  • 11 PM – I tell H I feel self-conscious about my MD. H agrees that internet strangers can be mean. He tells me about the time he posted about his own story (he is a true underdog: he grew up very poor in a rough city in a really random state… his father died suddenly when he was in college… and his boss/mentor at his dream job died suddenly, too… despite all these challenges, he has “made it”). He got so much hate that he messaged the mods to lock the thread and then deleted it. He wanted the mods to delete the thread because people were trying to doxx him and because his feelings got hurt 🥺🥺🥺 We read some of the comments out loud, some still sting but some are SO FUNNY. “This story reads like masturbatory fatFIRE fanfiction! YEAH FUCKING RIGHT!” LMAO. I feel bad for laughing, but we both feel better afterwards.

  • 11:30 PM – We call a friend who texted us earlier to catch up; it sounded urgent. H and the friend are thinking about starting an office together and we all chat through the risks. I am also taking mental notes on how straight dudes talk. I work in real estate, so as a woman, I am definitely a minority… it helps to have some bro-y jargon or generic jokes to lubricate conversations. (I’m not saying this is ideal for workplace diversity and yada yada, but I have to pick my battles and making myself a slightly more bro-y is the price I pay to gain a bit more trust and opportunity from my bosses.)

  • 12 AM – Suddenly hungry again. I make soup for myself.

  • 1 AM – Foot massage machine while Reddit-ing.

  • 3 AM – God help me, I’m a Reddit degenerate.

SUNDAY TOTAL: $0

DAY 4, MONDAY

  • 10:20 AM – Wake up 10 min before my first call. Then work work work. I tap out a recommendation letter for one of my former interns, fingers x’d for her!

  • 1 PM — I eat leftover soup while eavesdropping on H’s call with his mentor. H hangs up and we debrief on his mentor’s constructive criticism. H is huffy and defensive. I challenge him to take the “allegedly” unjustified criticism and *try* to work on his interpersonal skills, even though it feels unfair. Or, quit whining and do what you say you’ll do: quit and start your own company. Tough love.

  • 3 PM – Back to work work work. I get distracted and post an internship description for a high school or college student to work with H and I on our side gigs. YES, OF COURSE WE WILL PAY OUR INTERN. I also reschedule my professional exam. $55 for rescheduling.

  • 4 PM – My sister doesn’t get “matched” to any medical residency programs. Our family text thread is trying to be supportive but she is in a defensive mood and seems to want to be left alone. 🙁

  • 4:30 PM – Emotional whiplash: I get distracted again because my old friend texts me out of the blue with a crazy announcement: the startup she works for raised another round and she may be a millionaire!!!! She is *SO* excited because she just paid off her student loans and now every gain feels even sweeter knowing it’s ALL HERS. I give her some tips on who she needs to talk to about this because Turbotax isn’t going to be able to handle the complexity of her stock options.

  • 5 PM – More work but there is yet another turn on this emotional rollercoaster: my day-job tells me I’m not allowed to invest in Deal X. I’m pretty annoyed! I try to be understanding, but I feel extremely hamstrung and I fantasize quitting on the spot to YOLO on Deal X. Grr! We have some more back and forth about Deal X (which I don’t want to detail publicly), but ultimately, I’m not allowed to invest. Un-earmark my $125K.

  • 5:30 PM – Back to work.

  • 9 PM – I crunch through two feet of snow with the foster dog to destress from today’s emotional roller coaster. Then jump in the car to pick up Thai food. On the way, I call my sister to ask how she feels. She has depression, so I try to be supportive and refrain from being pushy. I try to be compassionate but frankly, it’s draining (and my therapist has suggested I cut her out of my life temporarily because I enable her). I wish my sister didn’t quit therapy. It is tiring for the entire family to be on eggshells all the time. She has attempted suicide twice before, so we are all extremely on edge whenever a big announcement, exam, or lifestyle change comes down the pike.

  • 9:45 PM — My boss calls with and urgent request and I’m frankly relieved. After I hang up with my boss, I try calling both my sister and my parents but no dice.

  • 10 PM – Get home. I eat half of my dinner before losing my appetite because I’m so emotionally burnt out. $33.

  • 2 AM — I procrastinate on the 15 minutes of work I promised my boss until 2 AM… Make changes, send emails, go to bed.

  • 4 AM – OK let’s try this again…. go to bed.

MONDAY TOTAL: $33

DAY 5, TUESDAY

  • 8 AM – Answer urgent emails from bed… fall back asleep.

  • 10:50 AM – Wake up and hurriedly get dressed and jump on a Zoom with HR to discuss my team’s assistant’s career trajectory. The assistant is doing really good work and wants to be “more than just an admin.” I try to incept the idea of giving her a title change and HR seems receptive to it. I try not to get too excited, but I know for womxn, the title can REALLY make a difference. I hope she gets it… Then, work work work.

  • 12 PM – Lunch: leftovers. Then, back to work work work.

  • 7 PM – I make chilled soba. It sounds fancy, but it’s the perfect prepper food as all the ingredients are shelf-stable or frozen. All my ingredients were purchased pre-pandemic, January last year.

  • 7:30 PM – We call the woman leading Deal X and tell her I can’t do the deal. I’m mega, mega bummed…. Then, I call my family. My sister manages to snag some last-minute residency interviews for programs she’s really excited about (and in cities that are cool!). Emotional whiplash (again)!

  • 9 PM – H and I eat dinner (it was cold anyway?) and strategize about a potential investor who wants to invest in H’s New Thing. It’s fun spitballing to create a “Dreamboard” of our future life together.

  • 10 PM – H and I call two very close, investment-savvy friends to catch up and seek advice. We talk about silly things, post-pandemic plans, and the possibility of H quitting so he can do his New Thing.

  • 2 AM — Bed.

TUESDAY TOTAL: $0

DAY 6, WEDNESDAY

  • 9:50 AM – Wake up 10 min before my Zoom call.

  • 9:57 AM – Friend calls me to catch up and I tell him I’m going to have to jump because I’m about to lead a meeting. We make plans to chat later.

  • 10 AM – Return to my Zoom meeting. Then, workworkwork. Dancewithdog. Workworkwork.

  • 12 PM – Canned soup (I tell myself it’s healthy because it’s Amy’s). H and I discuss who should be employee #1 at New Thing… What role is most strategic?

  • 1 PM – Work. Emails. Calls. Back to back to back.

  • 2 PM – A friend wants to relocate to a new city and texts me that she got a job offer but wants my “gut check” on what salary she should be making. My gut reaction is that her offer is egregiously offensively low, and I ping a couple of friends who have similar jobs in that same city to check. Conclusion: the offer is like 50% below what she should be making. It’s both insulting but also, “look, it’s in the city you wanna live in…. There’s value in that. And secondly, maybe you can take the lower pay, but demand a more senior title because guess what? A title is fucking $FREE.99. And keep searching for something else with your new title? Frankly, to me, money isn’t everything. As a woman, a senior title means A LOT (in our industry).” I give her a call because we can’t text fast and furiously enough.

  • 2:30 PM – Work work work.

  • 3 PM – My parents text the family chat to follow up on my sister’s new opportunities, “any news?” She ‘yells’ at us: “NO. NEWS. STOP TEXTING ME. I HAVE NOTHING TO SHARE!!” We back off and send supportive texts like “No problem! We are here for you! 🙏🙏🙏” (But in my head, I just want to scream: “FOR FUCK’S SAKE!!” I know she has depression and I should be more compassionate but sometimes her attitude is… A… LOT.)

  • 3:30 PM – Emotional whiplash: got a huge win at work!!!!! Yes. Very happy!!

  • 4 PM – More work. I chat with a close colleague friend and we gas each other up: “HELL YEAH! WOMEN SHOULD TALK ABOUT MONEY AND INVESTING!! MEN DO IT ALL THE TIME AND THAT’S WHY THEY GET AHEAD. GIRL POWER BOSS BABE ETC.”

  • 4:15 PM – More work.

  • 5 PM – Turns out the “huge win at work” was actually not a win at all. We failed a major deadline. Ugh.

  • 5:15 PM – More work.

  • 6 PM – HR is excited about a resume I forwarded to them: R is someone I know from my network of ladies who rock in real estate. I give R a call and we corroborate on what I should tell HR about her (she was laid off recently and she also had a kid… I wasn’t sure if she wanted me to keep any of that info private). R was very thankful I reached out to her first! 🙂 I feel like a did something good! 🙂

  • 6:30 PM – More work.

  • 7 PM – It’s 7AM for my parents and they Facetime my sister and me to try and comfort my sister. My sister shouts through her tears, “THERE’S NO NEWS GOD I ALREADY TOLD YOU OBVIOUSLY NO NEWS IS BAD NEWS,” and hangs up. Stunned silence. Then, my parents wish me happy birthday and we hang up and they go back to bed.

  • 8 PM – H and I celebrate my birthday by splurging on a lavish tapas spread from a Spanish restaurant. While driving there, I take a work call, but on my way back, I got my shades on, I’m blasting this song and I hit 10 green lights in a row. It’s a fucking vibe! $60 for my share.

  • 9 PM – H and I eat hang out, call some friends, accidentally fall asleep with the lights on from the paella-induced food coma.

  • 5 AM – Wake up and turn off lights.

WEDNESDAY TOTAL: $60

DAY 7, THURSDAY

  • 10:30 AM — Wake up and bang out a deliverable due at 11. Then, work work work.

  • 11:30 AM – My parents text the family chat and let us know my sister matched to a program. The program is in a cool city, too. She has yet to text anything substantive. We are all on eggshells.

  • 1 PM – I have to lead a work call… and OF COURSE, that’s when the State Tax Dept takes me off hold! I lead both calls by muting/unmuting strategically and half-listening to both calls. I am aware this is highly annoying and apologize to everyone.

  • 3 PM – Eat leftovers. OH YEAH LATE LUNCH. CHORIZO. FIGS. JAMON. PAELLA. AND A GLASS OF SPANISH RED. *CHEFS KISS* NEXT STOP: SIESTA (Just kidding, I have to go back to work because I’m American and that Protestant work ethic is ingrained in me but I’m in a really good mood).

  • 3:30 – MIL wants me to invite the whole family (5 ppl total) over for an outdoor gathering to celebrate my birthday. I really don’t want to because not everyone is vaccinated, some people are still going to work, H is immunosuppressed, and just generally speaking, I’m just burnt out and want to be left alone. I throw her and H on a text thread and bang out a game plan because I understand she must be lonely so fine… maybe we can do something just us three.

  • 5 PM – My colleagues and I mentor underprivileged students and teach them the hard AND SOFT skills that are necessary for commercial real estate investment. It’s a paid internship that is structured like a competition to help rile up and motivate the kids. We go through all the nitty gritty of their underwriting project and presentation. They are hyper-focused for the entire two hours, which is great.

  • 7 PM – Therapy. Obviously, we talk about my sister and my relationship. She tells me I need to allow others to suffer and that I can’t swoop in to help every time. This is hard to hear. $450.

  • 8 PM – I buy some coffee and a book a mentor recommended. $46 on my side gig corporate credit card.

  • 8:30 PM – Leftovers for dinner.

  • 9:00 PM – I help H make a pitch deck for his New Thing. Then, I spend 2 hours editing my MD.

  • 3:30 AM – Post, eat birthday cake, shower, and sleep… I hope.

THURSDAY TOTAL: $496

GRAND TOTAL THIS WEEK… $715

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THANKS!! THAT’S A WRAP!!!

Edit – I spent all day in the comments section instead of working… so I am going to log off for now! Love this sub. Thank you for being so nice and supportive.

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