I’m 26, I Make $59K & My Gynecologist Calls With Not-Amazing News

Occupation: Editor
Industry: Public sector
Age: 26
Location: Luxembourg
Salary: $59,160 ($51,000 + 16% expatriation allowance)
Net Worth: $127,022.43 (US checking: $8,264.40; US savings: $6,015.53; EU checking: $61,609.61; US Vanguard: $41,132.89; I Bonds: $10,000. It’s ridiculous to have so much money in my EU checking account, but being an American abroad makes it basically impossible to invest euros in the EU. I need to convert all that money into dollars and invest it through my US brokerage account as though I still live there because doing anything else will make either the EU or the American government fuck up my life, and I just haven’t dealt with it yet.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $4,128 (after taxes and the deductions listed below)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $918.54 (This is for my share of a three-bedroom apartment. We don’t have a living room, and this includes all utilities, internet, and a cleaner who comes once a week to clean the common spaces.)
Health Insurance: $72.18 (deducted)
Accident Insurance: $4.25 (deducted)
Pension: $428.82 (deducted)
Netflix & The Washington Post: $0 (I mooch off my mom.)
Criterion Channel & Apple Music: (I mooch off my dad.)
The New York Times: $0 (I mooch off my mom’s partner.)
Patreon for Another Screen: $8
Cork Simon Community Charity: $8.44
Mutual Aid Circle: $20

Annual Expenses
The European Review of Books: $73.83 (includes contribution to its kickstarter)
1Password: $38
Carte Avantage for SNCF (French trains): $52.74
Chase Sapphire Premium: $95

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?
Absolutely. I don’t think my parents ever sat me down and said, “You must go to college,” but I never considered doing anything else. I was very academic and high achieving, and both my parents have graduate degrees. I paid for my expensive Ivy League education with a mix of scholarships, financial aid, and extremely generous help from my dad and my maternal grandma, who enabled me to graduate without debt. I got better financial aid than I expected during my last year so I was able to use the remaining money my grandma had set aside for me to fund a master’s in Europe (waaaay cheaper than doing it in the US).

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Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Both my parents are very frugal, especially after my parents got divorced. They talked to me and my brother about their relative lack of money compared to before the divorce. My mom was big on financial literacy in general throughout my childhood. She made us learn how to balance a checkbook (not a skill that has ended up being very useful, but it’s the thought that counts), she talked to us about budgeting, and she made sure we always compared unit prices at the grocery store. We got an allowance growing up (split into four categories: savings (20%); short-term spending (35%); long-term spending (35%); and charity (10%), and she taxed it. The taxes went into a communal fund to pay for things for the “community” (mostly family trips to the movies). We were not raised as libertarians, in short.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I think it was babysitting and cat-sitting as a young teen. The summer before my last year of high school, I had multiple W-2 jobs: I did an internship at Microsoft through a summer employment program for teens and I worked two different jobs (with two different pay grades) simultaneously at the library, where my mom worked. I mostly started working because I felt like I should. I was kind of an obsessive saver so I wasn’t very motivated to spend money.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No. Even if there were times that my parents had less disposable income (my dad was broke for a while, but in the asset-poor kind of way), there was never any worry about the basic necessities.

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Do you worry about money now?
Not really, but I should probably be doing more medium-to-long-term planning. As I mentioned in my net worth section, I have way too much cash sitting in my EU checking account because I was overwhelmed with figuring out exactly what I was allowed to do with it. I still haven’t gotten my act together, but I have somewhat of a plan now. If I stay in Luxembourg, I will never be able to afford to buy an apartment, so that’s a vague concern, but I don’t want to stay here long term so I’m not actively worrying about that right now.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I paid my own rent starting from the second half of my master’s, so since I was almost 23. I had been buying all my own groceries and that kind of thing since I started undergrad.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have received generous help from my family on many occasions, particularly with college tuition. Other than that, my mom set up a Vanguard fund for me as a kid. She put all monetary birthday gifts and that sort of thing into it. That’s not “inherited income,” but it did set me up with a decent investment account from the time I took it over at age 18.

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