My name is Zia Sheikh. I'm a Chef de cuisine at Paowalla Restaurant and I make $75,000 a year. Anybody that's starting out in this field just knows that you're not gonna be making a lot of money to start. I didn't make a lot of money to start. I was making $300 dollars a week. If you wanna backtrack it to high school, my first job was actually at Burger King. I was making $5.15 an hour. You know, my weekly paycheck was like $42 dollars. You don't have a lot of money, you have to learn how to stretch your dollar. When I was 28 or 29, my expenses were more than what I was making. It got almost overwhelming for me to the point where I just stopped paying my credit cards altogether, and that's a lesson that I'm actually paying for now. My credit, my credit score was hurt for it. Living at home, you don't think about what a credit score can do for you. Now I own a car, now I have an apartment and I realize that like all that is involved. So those are the mistakes that I made a couple years ago, which I will, if I could relive it, I probably wouldn't do it again. The culinary program at the Art Institute of New York City was $36,000, so that was a, that was a very large debt for somebody that's making $9.00 an hour coming out. So, my mother decided to, to help me out and, through her support, I was able to be very well off and whatever money I did make I was able to spend on investing in, in cookbooks, in food, in, in learning about the industry. There are different culinary schools that charge different amounts. They are schools where they'll charge $8,000 for the entire program. So it really just depends on what program you wanna do for yourself and where you wanna go. I've realized that the best thing that you can look for in culinary schools is their networking afterwards, whereas the Culinary Institute of America, which is, you know, the biggest culinary school in the area, they have a large networking system that spreads the entire country. So, if you do finish their program, you can go anywhere you want. Whereas when I went to the Art Institute of New York City, there was only so many externships that I can go to and that was one of the things that I learned while I was in school. I currently live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and the trade-offs for living in New York is that New York is very expensive. Anybody that moves here will tell you that if you're not looking in the right places, you're living in a shoebox for a very expensive amount of money. At the time when I started out in this field I was actually living in Northern New Jersey, so my commute to the city was about two to three hours a day, one way, but I was only paying $400 dollars rent, so there are tricks that you could do as, as again as far as like stretching your dollar, but you, you do need to sacrifice your own time in doing so. Living in the city is a little bit more expensive. I am lucky enough; I do have, currently have two roommates, but I am living in Park Slope. It's a beautiful apartment, but I'm sacrificing the fact that I'm not living alone just to afford living in that area. My annual salary is about $75,000. My monthly pretax is about $6,250. My taxes come out to be $1,900 dollars a month. My take home is about $4,350. My rent; I currently share my apartment with two other people. Comes out to be $1,200 for myself, in which case I'm also sharing gas, electric, TV, and Internet. It costs me about $90 dollars a month from there. My cell phone bill is about $90 dollars a month. I actually do own a car in the city. The reason why I own a car is to travel to visit my family. I live in Park Slope, Brooklyn. They live in Staten Island and New Jersey. My car comes out to be $368 a month. On top of that I do pay for gas and, sadly, I have been getting a lot of parking tickets and getting towed a lot so there are other expenses involved with having a car. I don't wanna say credit card debt, but I do have a credit card loan, which costs me about $220 dollars a month. Between food and other expenses, comes out to be $600 to $1,000 dollars a month. I currently don't go out to eat at restaurants too much. Me and my current girlfriend we both work in restaurants and for us a perfect night would just be spending a night at home. If we do decide to go out, we'll go out once or twice a month. Sometimes more if we feel like it. We usually spend about $200 to $300 dollars a month based on going out to restaurants. My leftover for the month usually comes out to be $1,200, in which case, again, depending on my mood, I'll either save or I'll spend. As of right now, I'm not necessarily saving for a house. I'm not saving for a more expensive car. I'm not saving for a more expensive apartment. I've realized that I'm comfortable where I'm at and I'm totally fine with that. Years ago, when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, I spent a lot of time volunteering and cooking for people that no longer had their homes, and I realized that everything is almost materialistic. Actually during the time I had an iPod, which I accidentally put through the laundry and I lost this $200 dollar iPod out of nowhere and I almost didn't have a care for it. I realized that it's just an extra thing. It's not necessary in my life and that's kind of like how I live my life now. I'm very comfortable with where I'm at and I'm fine with that. You really just wanna realize what's important to you. You're like what's important to you at this moment that you need to keep around you and what else is just kinda unnecessary at the time. My outside expenses that, you know, where I do have a car, you know, that's important for me because it will, it gives me a chance to visit my family. However, in an ideal world, I probably don't even need it. You know, I live in New York City, where the transportation system is great. You really just have to make decisions for yourself about what's important and what you wanna keep around you and that's that.
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