Graphic by staff graphic designer Sumen Imtiaz.

Bread, cash, moolah, paper, dollars, money.

No matter what you call it, we all know money talks but its also a topic that’s often avoided – until now.

Money Talks* is a Slice of Culture series where we ask real people in Hudson County about their personal finances, not only how they make their money, but also how they spend it, specifically during a seven day period. 

This Week: A medical student who likes coffee

Background

Occupation: Student

Industry: Medicine

Age: 22

Location: Jersey City, NJ

Salary: $0 – As a full-time medical student, I, unfortunately, do not have the time (or energy to be honest) to work. 

Net Worth: $10,000 – This is my savings from previous employment.

Debt: $0

Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses/Subscriptions:

Amazon Prime Student: $6.99/month

Apple Music Student: $5.99/month 

Apple iCloud Storage: $0.99/month

Did your family expect you to attend higher education? Did you attend? If so, how did you pay for it? 

They expected me to attend both undergrad and graduate studies. During my undergraduate studies, academic scholarships and grants covered the majority of my tuition/room-and-board costs so my parents assisted with the remaining amount. I worked almost full time all four years, which allowed me to provide for myself with groceries and miscellaneous living expenses. Now, medical school does cost much more than my parents can afford, so I had to take out loans to finance my education.

Growing up did you worry about money? Were there conversations about money in your household? 

As an immigrant family, money was often a topic of worry especially in the first few years in the country. My parents tried to not involve us in monetary conversations, but I became financially aware at a young age seeing how my parents worked hard to provide for us.

At what age did you learn how to manage your finances? Who taught you about finances? 

During my first year of college, at 18 years old, I was living without aid from my parents and had to become financially literate. I used my aunt as a model and did a lot of research, reading various articles about saving and budgeting. 

Do you have a savings account? If so, when did you open it?

Yes, I have had a savings account since I was 17.

What was your first job? What prompted you to begin working?

My first job at the age of 17 was hostessing in a restaurant. I wanted a better sense of independence from my parents so I started working to be able to afford my own interests, wants and needs.

When did you become fully responsible for yourself? Do you worry about money?

Being a student still, I don’t think yet consider myself fully responsible. I still rely on my parents for necessities like food and housing. They also occasionally help me with some other costs since I currently have no income.

Do you have a financial safety net? Have you ever inherited income? If yes, explain.

I have a safety net in inheritable income, I am inheriting property and other values. As for now, my safety net is the money I have set aside for emergencies and, in a sense, my parents as well.

Spending

Day One:

I was coming back from a weekend trip and when we stopped for gas, my boyfriend bought me Wawa (so that was free). Tolls: $6.50, Gas: $18.42

Daily Total: $24.92

Day Two:

Now that the weekend is over, its back to classes! But I did need a little pick me up in the form of a Pumpkin Spice Latte. $4.50

Daily Total: $4.50

Day Three:

Another day of online classes, another stop at Dunkin’! $5.95

Daily Total: $5.95

Day Four:

I actually didn’t spend any money today, stayed home the entire day. 

Daily Total: $0

Day Five:

At this point, I think I’m just running on coffee so I can’t live without Dunkin’. $4.25

Daily Total: $4.25

Day Six:

Ahhh, the weekend! My mom and I made a trip to the mall for a little shopping because I needed to pick up a few things and I treated my mom a little. $58.59

Then I drove to my boyfriend’s after picking up a few bottles of wine for us to have with dinner. Tolls: $6.50, Wine: $40

Daily Total: $105.09

Day Seven:

Taking a break from studying for the day, I had plans with some friends so I picked us up some coffee before meeting them. Later in the day, my boyfriend treated me to a yummy lunch too! $15

Daily Total: $15

Graphic by Alexis Morales

Is this what a typical week of spending looks like for you?

Usually, I actually spend much less because I currently have no income but this week we had some spontaneous events and shopping! 

*Disclaimer: This series and questions were inspired by Refinery 29’s Money Diaries.

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