Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.Today: a business owner working in real estate who makes about $500,000 per year and spends it on…
Today: a business owner working in real estate who makes about $500,000 per year and spends it on lipstick. Below, we asked the OP some questions about her career.
How did you get into your line of work?
I studied computer science and then got my master’s degree in entrepreneurship and small-business management. I always knew I wanted to be a part of a small business, and owning my own was a dream. First I started as a real estate broker and specialized in international investments — I built a model specifically for Turkish investors (I was born and raised in Turkey) to invest in real estate in NYC.
I managed all the properties I’ve sold and offered full-service management and maintenance of their assets, rather than just being a sales broker. That allowed me to stand out in the sea of real estate brokers in the city and build up experience in every field of real estate. I finally made enough to start investing in multi-family buildings during the 2008 down market. It was also the only way to afford enough space for my growing family (we have three kids). We started moving into each property we purchased, which made it easier to renovate and kept the mortgage rate low, being that it was our primary residence.
What are the challenges of owning a business?
The biggest challenge of owning a real estate business is time management. It’s not a 9-to-5 office job, my schedule is different every week, and there is no start or end to my day. The business is too complicated and small to outsource accounting and other office work, which has become another challenge. I’m constantly weighing how much of my time I’m allocating just on business upkeep and building maintenance, versus taking the business forward and long-term expansion.
What advice would you give to someone starting out with their own business?
My recommendation to start a business would be organic growth instead of coming up with bulky business plans. Businesses of all industries move at an extremely efficient and fast pace, which requires constant real-time strategies and modifications. Also, staying on top of just the industry you’re in isn’t enough anymore — cross-referencing other industries to tie into and create a customized and specialized service or product is essential for survival. In our business, we study the zoning and certificates of occupancy for each building and create multiple uses for every property to diversify, so we’re less affected by the cyclical nature of the core real estate market.
Location:New York, NY
Salary:$2,200,000 ($500,000 is my income from working as a real estate broker, and the rest is income from the business I own with my husband.) No matter how much we bring in, we spend $300,000 a year, and the rest is used to pay down all the mortgages that we have for the properties. The business is not leveraged high — we have about 30-35% in debt, and the rest is equity. We have a conservative approach to finances with the business. My husband was an actuary for 20 years before joining me six years ago. We both put in money for the business, and now we own and manage everything together.
Housing Cost:$0 (We own a two-family townhouse. We live in the upstairs triplex and rent the downstairs duplex, which pays for maintenance/taxes/mortgage.)
Loans:I have $0 in personal loans. There’s a lot going on on the business side, since it’s a real estate business, but we’re leveraged low.
Hulu:$49 (Just dropped cable and switched to Hulu — hooray!)
Kids’ School, Sports, Etc.:We set aside $12,000/month for all of it.
Amazon Subscriptions:I’m particular with cleaning supplies, because I do a lot of the housework myself. I get Viva paper towels, Ecover dish soap, dishwasher soap, and cleaning spray — all the stuff I’m usually too cheap to buy at the market. With the subscription, it’s 15% off for a total of $39/month.
Housekeeper & Nanny:$450/week. We made a deal with our longtime nanny — she takes care of light housekeeping and cooking at a reduced rate, and she lives with us. We give her other perks, too. For Manhattan, this is a steal, and everybody’s happy with the arrangement.
Via:$159 for an unlimited monthly membership. I use Via mostly and share it with my daughter, who takes it to school. Love the efficiency of it, although can they please stop going crosstown through Times Square? It can get slow.
6:30 a.m. — Up and at ’em. It’s Saturday, and all three kids are going to ski school while we’re in Vermont. It’s like I’m running a diner in the mornings — different breakfast for everyone. I drink coffee with Bulletproof InstaMix. Then I get the kids out the door, and my husband drops them off. I can enjoy another cup of coffee in peace.
8 a.m. — Check my emails. I see a promotion from Cheryl’s Cookies and jump on it right away to get some holiday gifts. I love to send food gifts, and Cheryl’s Cookies come in perfect little tins. I order five tins for multiple people and add a yearly unlimited shipping charge, which is worth it just for this purchase. $144.94 total, not bad.$144.94
12 p.m. — I switch to my phone so I can stop online shopping and avoid all the other holiday promotion distractions. Tons of emails to respond to. I work with international investors, most of whom are hours ahead, so I always wake up to emails. After three hours of work, I have to head to the mountain to deliver lunch to the kids. I don’t have time to cook, so I heat pizza from last night, pull the box out of the recycling, and pack it like it just came out of the oven! I stop at the grocery store on the way for snacks to stuff in their pockets. I get beef jerky, pretzels, chips, Sour Patch Kids, and popcorn. The mountain is a zoo as usual, so I decide to just drop off lunch and go back home, but a car pulls out right in front of me and I pull in as a reflex and then decide to stay.$15
3 p.m. — I’m back home with my oldest. She needs to study, and I need to work. I’m starving, so I munch on random stuff from the fridge — bread, pepperoni, cheese, and berries. I decide to do some meal planning and grocery shopping for the week ahead before doing more work. I order Miracle Noodles, milk, ground beef, chicken, turmeric root, fresh ginger, coconut cream, Health-Ade Kombucha, fresh orange juice, Primal Kitchen ketchup, 365 Electrolyte water, yogurt, eggs, Applegate chicken-and-sage breakfast sausage, onions, goat cheese, and a Naked mango smoothie from Whole Foods ($113.86), feeling good about next week. Then I decide to order more Miracle Noodles on Amazon to keep in the pantry. They’re the only good-tasting shirataki noodles I can find. I order the variety pack from Amazon ($19.47). Back to work.$133.33
6 p.m. — Work for the whole afternoon, and then we go out for dinner. The restaurant has an arcade, which I hate. We get all the kids arcade cards and fill them with money ($35) so we can have a drink at the bar while waiting for the table. We get beers ($25 with tip). We hear from a friend that our favorite bartender and friend is now working at the upstairs bar. This means $15 more on the play cards, and we head upstairs. The bartender has been infusing Tito’s with pineapple and spices. Can’t say no, so we have a glass ($20 with tip). Finally, our table is ready. I already feel drunk and full — I’m a lightweight who can’t drink much. We order nachos, Caesar salad, mac and cheese, two cheeseburgers (our son eats three dinners and we can’t ever have enough food), and fish and chips ($160 with tip).$255
7 a.m. — Up early. I make coffee and feel a headache coming on from all the drinks last night. After breakfast, I help my husband with his ski boots, and then he’s out the door with our younger two. I stay home with my oldest again, who has more studying to do today. I prepare my InstaMix with coffee, not ready to start my day yet.
9 a.m. — I decide to buy tickets to see Chris Botti at Blue Note, since we go every year, but the date I want is sold out. I end up buying them for a Tuesday and just get bar seating this time, since the table seating isn’t worth it.$110
10 a.m. — We’re leaving for Switzerland for Christmas to visit my sister and her family, so I decide to order all the gifts. I refuse to go to stores during the holidays — thank God for online shopping. I buy two Nerf guns, a mermaid blanket, and four wooden board games. My sister has a strict no-screen-time rule, and we need all the board games we can carry. I’ve been instructed not to buy any clothing gifts, but I can’t resist matching dresses for the girls.$425
12 p.m. — I have scrambled eggs and an avocado for breakfast before getting the kids’ lunches ready. I heat up leftovers from last night for them and bring it over to the mountain. They want drinks, so we get in line and I get three hot chocolates and two bottles of water, plus two apples.$24.75
2 p.m. — I pick up the kids and we go back home to get ready to go back to the city. Lots of packing, organizing, and homework. My husband needs to stay and visit his mom, who’s not doing well, so I get him a train ticket before I head out with the kids.$69
8 p.m. — Back in the city with everybody tucked in, I plan my whole week and set up my calendar. I’m happy to see three holiday parties coming up, and immediately start thinking what to wear, of course. But then I remind myself — no new holiday dresses this year.
9 p.m. — In bed, looking for a good show. I don’t like anything, so I scroll through Instagram and see a dress from Madewell. I normally wear pants in the winter, but I like sweater dresses so I buy it, thinking it will help me wear more dresses. Should that be my New Year’s resolution? I fall asleep, but then my husband calls and we talk for an hour. We decide we should start going out to lunch, and we wonder why we don’t have time to talk when we’re together all day. Oh, and I walk the dog, since my husband isn’t here for the night walk.$89
6 a.m. — Early start at 6. Breakfast for the kids, and out the door at 7. I have to go to their school early for a meeting. I didn’t have time to make coffee first, so I run into Starbucks for a coffee and mix my InstaMix in. The meeting is in a room with no reception, and I feel anxious because I haven’t checked my emails and I won’t know if something’s up at work. I sneak out and get to work. Stop at Starbucks again for another cup of coffee, which isn’t helping my anxiety, but I need it.$5.50
10 a.m. — Get to one of the buildings to check on something and get dragged into an employee feud. I have to calm things down, otherwise these ladies will be distracted all day and I need them to work. I take one of them to Le Pain Quotidien to talk. She recommends the ginger tea. I hate tea, but I order it anyway and end up loving it. I should remember this for next time.$11
12 p.m. — I decide to go to yoga. I get a bottle of water and a towel, because I have to shower and get straight back to work afterward. It’s a great class, but at the end I get nervous again about work and decide to skip shavasana and check my emails.$4
3 p.m. — I’m on the phone and emailing all afternoon. I’m very close to getting an apartment in contract, and I’m on top of it because the market is bad right now and I don’t have any other offers. Decide to go get lunch and then head to school pickup. I get a chipotle salad with chicken and guac ($11.50), and then walk into Sephora while I’m on a call. I get Philosophy Pure Grace Soap and perfume. I have a $15 coupon, so I get two bottles.$122.50
6 p.m. — Contract is still not signed, and now there’s a problem. I’m not happy. My husband calls to say he won’t be able to make it on time for the holiday party tonight. For dinner, I make butternut squash in the Tefal fryer. It takes up so much space, but it’s worth it — I can throw in any vegetable I can find in the fridge, and it comes out great. I decide to skip the party, hang out with the kids, and binge the second season ofThe Marvelous Mrs. Maiseluntil my husband gets home.
8 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk and decide to treat him to the dog park tonight. On the way back, we stop by CVS. I’ve been looking for Maybelline SuperStay Matte Ink lipstick, which is hard to find in stock. I scoop up the dog, grab two lipsticks in the “Voyager” color, and head back home. I’m in bed so fast.$18.98
6 a.m. — Up at 6. I get the kids ready and fed for school, and we’re out the door at 7 a.m. I love that I can drop them off as early as 7:15. I take advantage of that to get to an 8 o’clock yoga class. I pop into Starbucks, get coffee, and add my InstaMix.$2.75
9 a.m. — After yoga, I have some calls, and the deal is back on track. I go into Starbucks for another coffee and end up working there.$2.75
12 p.m. — My best friend lives on the east side, and we meet up for lunch once a week when I’m around for work. We go to our usual sushi place. I get the sashimi lunch special and green tea (it’s my turn to pay this time).$35
2 p.m. — I stop at HomeGoods for two boxes of gingerbread cookies to bring to the cookie exchange I’m going to tonight. Most people bring homemade, and I feel bad buying, but there’s no way I have time to cook or bake, so it is what it is. I also buy a candle, find a plaid ribbon to add to my Christmas greens at home, grab pink salt, and pick up a drink-mixer bottle with spices already inside. I think about the business model for this place — it looks messy and random, but I believe there’s a science to it to make you buy all the crap you don’t need.$98
4 p.m. — I pick up the kids and drop them off at home. I have to run down to the lawyer’s office. When emails get tense, I like to switch gears and put in face time to smooth it over. I hop on the subway (using my prepaid card) and meet with the lawyer. I grab snacks from the stand in the subway station to hold me over until dinner.$10.75
7 p.m. — I stop home to check on the kids before the party. My son lost his Latin book, so I order another one. Can’t believe it costs $65. I eat more nuts and then nibble on the kids’ leftovers (chicken, lots of broccoli, lentil soup), which I have to call dinner.$65
10 p.m. — I pop in and out of the cookie exchange. I really want to see my husband tonight. We decide to let the dog out on the terrace to go, skip the night walk, and just snuggle in bed. He complains about some corduroys he bought on Amazon. (Who buys corduroys on Amazon?) So I order two pairs for him from J. Peterman. He dresses super classic, so we shop from these ancient British brands no one cares about. I almost got through the day without shopping online.$336
6 a.m. — Usual morning routine — feed the kids, coffee with InstaMix. I drop off the kids and then stop by Whole Foods to get almond flour, water chestnuts, and heavy cream for my recipes and KeVita vinegar with turmeric. I can’t believe all week has passed by and I haven’t cooked any of the recipes I planned on. I head home and go on a cooking frenzy. I make creamy chicken casserole, yogurt soup with meatballs, chicken curry with water chestnuts and cashews, and cauliflower rice. I have to go, so nanny takes over the last part.$28
2 p.m. — I drive out to the Home Depot in the Bronx to get seasonal plants for all the properties. They have prearranged, festive plants. I just cut out our landscaper, so now I have the handymen do the little gardening work we have. (How much can you really have in the city?) I get four sparkly trees and three buckets with greens and the red stuff in them. Plus some extra pinecones to add in and nuts and lunch for me. I do a mini Manhattan tour, dropping off all these to the properties, and then an email pops on my screen. Contract signed! Finally!$496
5 p.m. — Nanny picks up the kids from school today, and they all have piano, so this is my long day to work. I check my Mint app that I use to keep track of spending, and check if my husband put in a spreadsheet for holiday tips. Of course he did. I don’t like the numbers, so I decide not to send the payments yet, but I Venmo the school the suggested holiday gift amount: $200 per kid. I know, a lot of kids!$600
7 p.m. — My cousin drops in for dinner. He comes by a few times a week for free food and to see us. We wait for my oldest kid to eat together and end up inviting her tutor to eat with us also. I eat the chicken curry I made, but my daughter refuses because it’s green (mental note, red curry next time!). I Venmo the tutor $60. It’s way too late for the little kids, so I rush them to bed and crash on my own bed. Hubby is still working. My oldest walks in to say goodnight and tucks me in. I’m not walking the dog tonight!$60
6 a.m. — Another early morning followed with a meeting at school. I grab my InstaMix and am out the door at 7. Quick Starbucks run to get coffee and put in the InstaMix. At the meeting, I listen to other parents discussing if the school should add five more minutes to lunch. I can’t stand it, but I end up staying. I’m definitely skipping next month’s meeting.$2.75
9:30 a.m. — I’m determined to go to yoga today. It’s late and I have showings, but I go anyway and I’m glad I do. I need short leggings — it’s too hot with my long ones — so I get a pair from the store inside the studio.$59
11 a.m. — I have to rush downtown, so I take the subway ($2.75). Then I grab a Starbucks coffee, knowing I’ll be late ($2.75). After the showings, I rush back uptown for my gel manicure, pedicure, and eyebrow appointment ($105 including tip).$110.50
12 p.m. — I head to Chipotle for lunch, where I get a bowl with chicken, black beans, salsa, and guac ($11.50). While eating, I scroll through the Like To Know It app (my main shopping inspiration). I see an influencer post about these over-the-knee boots that she swears by. They’re a brand (Goodnight Macaroon) I’ve never heard of before. I order them ($115).$126.50
1 p.m. — Try to work at home, but I can’t focus. A work crisis comes up, and I’m on the phone with my husband and the handymen for an hour. I have to send my nanny for school pick-up. After moping around for another hour at home, I decide to finish the family photo book so I can take it to Switzerland to show my parents. I’m a year behind, but I’ve been doing photo books every year since 2005, and I keep them around the house. They’re so fun to look at. I gather together some pictures from Dropbox and finalize and order two copies — one for us and one for my parents.$245
7 p.m. — Good homework night. Everything feels under control with the kiddos, so my husband and I decide to go to our favorite place for dinner and drinks. It’s a French restaurant called Le Pif. We order two glasses of the Chablis, and I tell him about the school meeting. When we get home, I drink a bottle of Morning Recovery to avoid a hangover tomorrow morning.$150
6 a.m. — My oldest has student hours at 7:15, so I send her out with Via and leave later with the other two for a quick drop-off. I go to Whole Foods for breakfast and to work. There’s a breakfast buffet, so I get eggs and coffee. No InstaMix today.$8.45
10 a.m. — I decide to go into LOFT and return a dress I bought there. I see the sweater my dog chewed on during Thanksgiving, and it’s on sale so I grab it ($38). Then I go to Michael’s while I’m on the phone and get colored paper, markers, and wood paint for my son’s Julius Caesar project. I scramble around for a coupon while still talking on the phone, which annoys the cashier, so I drop the coupon search and pay $48.$86
12 p.m. — Lunch at home today: leftover chicken, avocado, and macadamia nuts. My nanny catches me right before I walk out the door and gives me a list of things we need. I order it all on the fly via Google Express from Target and Costco. I buy conditioner, Fairy Tales lice spray (we go through this like there’s no tomorrow, since all the kids got lice from school), Brillo Pads, Easy-Off. I add macadamia nuts because I just ate them all, and a holiday pillow from Target for the second time, since the dog chewed the first one.$89
3 p.m. — Go back to Michael’s because I forgot to return decorations I bought for the Thanksgiving dinner but didn’t use. I see three bells by the register, so I buy them to use as Christmas decorations. Pick up the kids from school.$12
5 p.m. — Getting ready for a Shabbat dinner we’re invited to with the kids. I go to the wine shop to get kosher wine and pick the one with Hebrew letters on it ($29). Then I stop by the store next door to get some Hanukkah knickknacks for the kids ($39). I pop into the secondhand-jewelry store next door to see if they have their cleaning machine on, and yay, it’s on! I get my rings cleaned. The girls refuse to charge, as usual, but I tip $20, as usual. This completes my errands.$88
7 p.m. — At our friend’s house for dinner. My friend works for a beauty company and gives me goodies. I insist on paying, but she refuses. I go online with her and buy two more products from the company. I go back home regretting the beauty purchase and check my Mint app again. Hubby is looking over my shoulder, so I turn the phone off. I don’t want to talk about finances, I just want to snuggle and finish watchingMrs. Maisel.$301
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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