A writer’s assistant in LA — Money Diary

Occupation: Writers’ assistant, pet sitter and parking attendant
Industry: Film and TV
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles
Salary: $53,131.67
Net Worth: -$2,501.44 (checking: $1,541.46; savings account: $500; HYSA: $11,486.85; Roth IRA: $4,643.25; car value: $7,000 — more now that I’ve fixed a dent)
Debt: $27,673 (in federal student loans)
Paycheck Amount (weekly): $1,538.20 ($1,038.20 from my WA job, an average of $500 a week pet sitting, and $18/hour at my parking job, although that ends this week)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,509.44 (This amount is for a rent-controlled studio apartment with street parking that I share with my foster cat.)
Student Loans: $0 (thanks to the SAVE plan)
Utilities: ~$120
Car Insurance: $398.15
Covered California Health Insurance: $153.60
Phone: $35 (My parents generously cover my phone bill, but I recently upgraded from an iPhone XR to an iPhone 13 so I send them money for those payments.)
iCloud: $2.99
Spotify: $10.99
AMC Stubs A-List: $24.95
Cat: $0 (She’s still a foster, so the foster organization covers everything.)

Letterboxd Pro: $19
New York Magazine: $50
Apple TV+: $69.99 (I share this with my family in exchange for the rest of the streaming services.)
Chase Sapphire Preferred: $95
YNAB: $98.99
Renter’s Insurance: $244

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. My mom is an elementary school teacher with a master’s degree and helped me look at schools. I attended a private four-year liberal arts college and graduated in 2020. Financial aid covered a significant portion of my schooling, but both my parents and I took out loans to cover the rest. My federal loans currently have a $0 minimum payment thanks to the SAVE plan, and I’m assisting my parents in consolidating their Parent PLUS loans. I’ll help them pay off the loans however I can because they took them out for my benefit.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were open about finances, but I don’t remember them teaching me more than the basics. My mom works two jobs, one at an elementary school and one teaching teachers-to-be. My dad has been a stay-at-home parent my entire life and is on disability, but is an electrician by trade. My parents bought their first house after the housing bubble burst, and we always had food on the table. My brother and I were able to do activities like ballet and sports, but it was clear that those were a stretch.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting and pet sitting around age 12. When I turned 15, I became a lifeguard and taught swim lessons. I did that every summer for spending money. In college, I worked several on-campus jobs (lifeguard, TA, et cetera) to cover the expenses that my financial aid and loans didn’t. My parents paid for my flights home and sent me $20 every once in a while.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. I always knew that money was a stressor for my parents, so it was a stressor for me.

Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. My parents have always been supportive of my career goals but have also been clear that they have no ability to help subsidize my life. Working in TV is feast or famine, and right now it’s a feast time because the WGA strike has ended, and my budget has me covered for at least a few months once this current job ends. But money is always a worry.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents helped me financially in some capacity (the Parent PLUS loans and providing me a free place to live) until I moved to LA in 2021. Aside from being on my mom’s health insurance (I double up due to regional issues) and the family phone plan (which, according to my parents, would not be cheaper even if they took me off), I’m on my own financially.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No one in my family has the kind of money that would lead to any kind of inheritance.

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