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December 16, 2010

What It Costs to Be Me

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woman having a drink in a cafe

Photo Credit: Monique Jaques/Getty Images for

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Asli Tolon, 31, Istanbul, Turkey

Occupation: Cofounder of a Web-based medical tourism company

Annual income: $57,000 (converted from Turkish lira)

Average income for a woman in Turkey: $5,352

Home, sweet home: "Last year I bought a two-bedroom apartment in central Istanbul for $210,000. I renovated it for another $21,000. Now I have no money for anything else."

Bills, bills, bills: "My utilities are very expensive. The water bill is about $70 per month, and electricity is another $85. I pay $145 per month for my BlackBerry and $55 for cable. Since I have two dogs, I also have a cleaning lady who comes three times a week — I pay her $530 per month."

Meal plan: "I work from home, so I usually make a sandwich for lunch. If I feel like something special, I'll get sushi. But one roll costs $14, so I don't do it very often."

The weekender: "I have two dogs — a lab mix and a golden retriever. I'll go jogging with them to Bebek, a popular district in Istanbul right next to the Marmara Sea. On Saturday nights, the young crowd will hang out in the hip nightclubs along the water."

Only in Turkey: "I own a Honda station wagon, but I avoid driving at all costs. Gas prices are high — it would cost $135 a week to fill up the tank. Everybody owns a car here, even people who can't afford to."

Shoe index: "The most expensive pair of shoes I own are $220 Stuart Weitzmans — nude with a tie over the ankle. My dogs have chewed up some expensive pairs — devastating!"

The road to recovery: "Economically, last year was terrible. But now things are picking up. I can tell because a lot of my friends are getting interviews and job offers."

Checks and balances: "My savings are gone. That's not a good place to be — 31 with nothing in the bank. But at least I own a home and a business. I invested $10,000 of my own money in my company. I may enroll in an MBA program, which would cost about $25,000. It's my backup plan if this start-up fails. Or marry a rich guy. You have to have a plan B, right?"


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