featuring your host, the lovely Miss Lucifer Muffinbutz
As promised in my introductory let’s talk about money post, Part II (this post!) is all about the current state of my finances and how I got here.
Checkin’ My Privilege
To start, I have to acknowledge the lucky circumstances I was born into and the advantages I have been given. Here are some things:
I am an able-bodied, overall healthy, cisgender, Asian American woman in my mid-20s. I work in tech in the San Francisco Bay Area and receive a San Francisco Bay Area tech salary* and San Francisco Bay Area tech work perks, such as fully covered health insurance and free lunch more than once a week. I have a good relationship with my mom and family so I’ve been able to live at home since graduating from college. My mother was in a stable enough financial position at at least one point in her life to purchase a single family home, and I grew up in a safe neighborhood with good schools nearby. I had access to a computer and the internet at home while I was growing up, thanks to supportive extended family members. I have never had to choose between eating and keeping the lights on. I attended private school until 8th grade. I didn’t pay for college, so I was able to focus on my studies and graduate without student loan debt. I have never paid and still don’t pay for my own cell phone bill or car insurance (I drive approximately once every two years; I should really switch to Metromile or something else mileage-based so it’s cheaper). My current job is not especially stressful except when there are deadlines, which are few and far between.
*I’d like to note that I work at a startup, not a large public tech company. As such my base salary is significantly lower than that of, say, a software engineer at Google. Which is not to say it bothers me – I still have a very comfortable job – but for those to whom the Valley** all looks the same: I’m in a littler league than Google and Facebook.
**Silicon Valley. For those who have decried the use of “the Valley” to describe Silicon Valley, yes, people really do call it just “the Valley,” and no, nobody in the Bay Area thinks you mean the San Fernando Valley anymore. Language changes, y’all. Keep up.
Checkin’ Your Privilege
As I mentioned in my previous post, I feel guilty but not ashamed about my financial situation. This is because I’ve lived a life with many privileges and undeserved advantages, but I also don’t enjoy the same privileges as, say, a white dude born into an upper-middle class family. Here are some things:
I am an Asian American woman who works in tech, a male-dominated industry. I’ve worked with exactly 4 other engineers who are women in my career, and at least 34 engineers who are men. I have been sexually harassed by my coworkers because of my race. I was born and raised in San Francisco in a single parent family; I did not move here for my tech job. My mom struggled to make ends meet in order to send me to private school for K-8, though I didn’t realize it until college. This negatively impacted her ability to save for her own future. I attended a public high school. I also attended an in-state public university and graduated a semester early with a 3.87 GPA despite suffering from depression. I didn’t pay for college because I received a combination of federal aid (because our household income was low enough) and merit scholarships (because my grades were high enough) that were enough to cover all fees and tuition as well as housing and living costs. I entered the tech industry without a technical degree by qualifying for and then attending a 12-week coding bootcamp that doesn’t charge tuition until you find a job. Since I started my first full-time job, I’ve covered from 40-100% of the monthly mortgage payment on my mother’s house, depending on the month. I fully expect and intend to financially and practically assist my mom in her retirement and old age. My partner and I split shared expenses proportional to our incomes, which has historically been close to 50/50. (This ratio will probably change soon, but the proportional split won’t.)
A Financial Snapshot
I’ve been perusing /r/financialindependence more and more frequently over the past year or so, and while I’m still a long way from being financially independent, I find their community’s posting guidelines very useful for providing a relatively short but comprehensive overview of a person’s financial situation. Here’s a snapshot of my current financial situation, (mostly) following that format: