Welcome toMoney 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.
This week: a teacher who makes $65,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on cinnamon rolls.
Occupation: Dual-language Classroom Teacher
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,694.29. I also get separate checks for any extra work after hours at a rate of $47/hour.
Housing: $1,250. I pay half of the rent and my boyfriend pays the other half.
Loans: $0. I have no loan payments. I was lucky — my family paid for all of my education, up to and including my master’s degree.
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Health Insurance: $0. My job provides me with healthcare at no cost.
Union Fees: $65.65/bimonthly to the UFT
Retirement Fund: $201.25/bimonthly out of my check automatically
7 a.m. — It’s Monday morning and my boyfriend J. and I are both off from work. I wake up feeling kind of sick and want to try and nip it in the bud, so I chug a not-great-tasting ACV concoction using ingredients from our kitchen and head back to bed.
10:30 a.m. — After sleeping in a bit longer, I wake up feeling better and more energetic. We spend time cleaning the apartment and then head to brunch in the neighborhood. As neither of us is in the mood to wait, we get there as they open at 11 a.m. I order a delicious leek and chèvre scramble that comes with a side of baby lettuce and toast. J. orders a burger and we both just drink water. The bill comes to $41.90 before tip and we split it evenly. $24.69
1 p.m. — We decide to walk off brunch and wander into a nearby neighborhood, where we find a particularly good coffee shop. I recently switched from coffee to matcha to help heal a few skin issues, so I resist a latte and order matcha and water on ice (yawn). J. orders an iced latte and pays for both of us.
3 p.m. — After coffee, we stop at an art supply store to buy air-dry clay to make a pot for a plant — my attempt to start a fun project later today. (That ends up being wishful thinking. At the end of the week, the clay still sits in its original packaging, untouched.) $8.84
4 p.m. — The walk home was long, and hot. We pass one of our favorite ice cream shops and can’t resist going inside. We both buy two scoops; I pay for both of us since he paid for coffee earlier. $9.90
5 p.m. — We’re finally back home and decide to be somewhat productive. Together, we make lunches for the next two days with groceries we have in the fridge: roasted veggies and grilled chicken it is. For dinner, we heat up a frozen pizza from Roberta’s, and end the day with a good-old Netflix binge. Narcos season 2, thank you for existing. It’s rare that J. and I agree on a series, but we’re on the same page with this one. Overall, this was a pretty good day spending wise, considering we had the day off from work.
Daily Total: $43.43
7 a.m. — Wake up and made breakfast: matcha and a piece of a Spanish tortilla that J.’s mom made for us. The tortilla is delicious cold and I wish I could eat it all. I leave the rest for J., and leave to take the train to work. My commute is about an hour long, and usually I use that time to get some work done, but today I read a little bit more of a book I’ve been “reading” for months.
12 p.m. — It’s lunchtime and I’m hungry! The veggies and grilled chicken I made yesterday are good but scarce, and I’ll have to add something else to tomorrow’s lunch. The rest of my work day involves a series of meetings in preparation for the start of the school year. I power through the rest of the day and leave as soon as I can, taking the train home and playing around on my phone.
4:30 p.m. — Back at home, I go straight to the fridge for a snack. I pick Greek yogurt and top it with cinnamon, almonds, raw oats, and flax seeds. After, I change into gym clothes and walk to the gym, three blocks away, for a HIIT class (a.k.a., the last thing I want to do right now).
7:30 p.m. — On the way back home, I check the mail and see I’ve received a $34.25 check for a bag I sold online! I shower and relax a bit before bed, noticing that my precious skin products are running super low — that means an expensive purchase is lurking. I should probably order now but can’t bring myself to do it. I didn’t spend ANY money today, which is unheard of, and I don’t want to ruin it now! Netflix before bed, and asleep by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
5:45 a.m. — Breakfast today is the last sliver of the tortilla and a repeat of my after-work snack from yesterday, yogurt with oats and cinnamon. I make a cup of hot matcha and add collagen powder and tocos, all for the sake of my skin. I do not love how early it is right now, but have to start adjusting to getting up at this time for the start of the school year. Tomorrow, students will be coming back and there’s still a lot to prepare. I get dressed quickly and head out the door, all before J. is out of bed.
6:45 a.m. — When I swipe my MetroCard at the train station, I’m swiftly reminded that it’s empty. Buying a monthly unlimited card is probably the smartest move, but I can’t stomach the $136 fee today and add $40 instead. This slight delay causes me to miss my usual train and I have to wait for the next one. $41.40
12 p.m. — I still have lunch left over from Sunday’s meal prep. I eat grilled chicken, roasted veggies, and black beans that I added in. I also brought some almonds.
4 p.m. — After work, I pick up almond milk, bananas, and a pack of kale from the grocery store. J. and I are really good at splitting any food/apartment costs, so he sends me half. $6.50
7 p.m. — Dinner today is a toast with olive oil and lentils stashed in the freezer that J.’s mom gave us. She always sends us home with a couple of things when we visit. I’m super grateful because it makes my life easier, and she’s an amazing cook.
8 p.m. — We are traveling to Mexico City over Thanksgiving break but haven’t booked a place to stay yet. After looking through a million Airbnbs, we settle on one that’s cheap, cute, and still in the neighborhood we want to be in. Four nights come to a total of only $140. We split the cost and I send J. half. $70
Daily Total: $117.90
5:45 a.m. — I wake up, get ready, and head to the kitchen to make breakfast — yogurt with cinnamon, almonds, and raw oats. I’m getting tired of this meal, though, and will definitely need to switch it up tomorrow. I make matcha and head out to work.
6:45 a.m. — Take the train into work — it’s the first day for students. Here. We. Go.
10:30 a.m. — I have a prep period, which means my students are with another teacher while I set things up for the rest of the day. I snack on almonds from home while I work.
11:40 a.m. — Lunchtime! Last night, I made lunch for the next two days, quinoa with black beans and steamed string beans. The quinoa is bland, but at least it’s filling.
7 p.m. — J. and I decide to treat ourselves to dinner tonight. We decide on a Vietnamese/Thai restaurant that we love near our place. It’s a family-style restaurant, so we split an order of chicken wings, a noodle soup, and a steak salad. J. offers to pay and I let him. We are insanely full by the end of our meal. Everything was excellent but a far stretch from our usual healthy weekday meals. We decide to walk a bit before going back home. The novelty of the walk wears off quickly and we make our way home. Narcos on Netflix before bed around 10:15 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
5:45 a.m. — I wake up feeling bloated and tired, probably because of the salty food last night. I eat half of a blueberry muffin and … yogurt with oats and cinnamon again. I have absolutely no energy to come up with anything better; at least it’s Friday. I make my matcha really strong today, get dressed, and leave for work.
11:40 a.m. — My lunch hour this year is so early that it feels more like a second breakfast. I eat another serving of the bland-AF quinoa with black beans and string beans, while my coworkers eat warm bagels from a nearby shop. I’m proud of myself for resisting the urge to spend.
4 p.m. — I’m home now and starving because lunch was so early. I make toast topped with olive oil and sea salt to hold me over until dinner. I need to pick up some supplies for work from the education store, so I make it a quick trip and grab Velcro dots, name tags, a plan book, borders, and charts. The DOE is giving teachers $250 to spend on supplies this year so the money I spent here will be expensed as part of that. ($52.25 expensed)
7:30 p.m. — For dinner, J. and I made bun-less burgers with sautéed mushrooms and onions. It’s delicious and nutritious and I wish we had more. We also open a bottle of red wine, because it’s Friday! I stick to one glass because I love wine, but my skin doesn’t. If I don’t want to wake up looking like a tomato, I have to stop after one or two glasses. We watch the semifinals of the U.S. Open on our iPad and go to sleep relatively early for a Friday, around 10:45.
Daily Total: $0
7 a.m. — I still tend to wake up early on weekends. As long as it’s not to the sound of an alarm, I’m okay with it. J. goes out to buy a baguette at the 100-year-old bakery down the block. Good bread is my ultimate weakness. We make two fried eggs each, bacon, and use the bread for dipping. I slather strawberry jam onto another piece of the baguette while J. makes coffee; the smell is intoxicating. I resist, make my usual matcha, and note that my collagen powder is nearing its end. I add that to the list of things I need to buy but don’t feel like spending money on yet.
10:30 a.m. — The weather is perfect this morning, so we walk to a nearby neighborhood for caffeine round two. I spend the next hour slowly sipping tea and reading the Times. $9.90
12 p.m. — J. has plans to meet up with friends in the afternoon and I decide to check out an event that’s boasting free manicures from one of my favorite salons. I figured it’s worth a shot and take the train two stops into Chinatown. By the time I get there, they’ve closed the list because too many people have shown up. I’m bummed until I see they’re also giving out free, healthy lunch bowls. I snag a soba noodle bowl and a can of lemon seltzer, and stuck it in my bag for when I got hungry later. Now, it’s time to go shopping.
1 p.m. — With the arrival of a new season coming up, my list of clothing “needs” is super long. At the top of it: black booties. Last year, I went through the season wearing a cheap and uncomfortable pair that I only sort of liked. I think I waited too long to buy them and there was nothing left. This year, I’m determined to find what I want — and early. I spend time online and at various stores with no luck. During a quick Instagram scroll, I finally stumble across a pair I’m into. I order them from inside a changing room at Oak + Fort. Perfect black leather, pointed-toe booties from Article&, see you in five-to-seven business days. $110
3:30 p.m. — I get hungry and walk to a nearby park to eat my soba noodle bowl outside. After I finish eating, I check out a few more stores nearby, eyeing some pieces I like but ultimately resist in favor of being able to pay my upcoming rent; sigh. Lastly, I stop at a pop-up shop to try on a pair of a company’s recently-launched denim line. I love it and decided to order buy it with store credit I have from them from a previous return.
7 p.m. — After heading back to BK, I meet up with J. at a bar. I’m not in the mood to drink and just order sparkling water while he has a couple of beers. We go to dinner at a restaurant we’ve both been wanted to try for a while; everything is fresh, seasonal, and delicious. We split garlicky green beans with ricotta, squash angelotti, lobster fettuccini, and octopus. I pay half of the bill and we walk home after dinner. It’s still early, so we watch the rest of Narcos and then go to sleep. $57.91
Daily Total: $177.81
7:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling rested and refreshed. The fact that I’ve had a particularly low-key weekend has helped to boost my Sunday productivity levels. I make my matcha, lounge around in bed a bit longer, and head out to run errands. Laundry is up first. There is nothing I hate more than washing my laundry myself at the laundromat, especially on a crowded Sunday morning. I decide to drop it off; it will be ready later.
10 a.m. — Sundays always mean going to the farmers’ market. J. and I usually get there as early as possible because the smallish one in my neighborhood gets swamped and sells out. For the upcoming week, we buy zucchini, pimientos de Padron, eggplant, scallions, honeynut squash, carrots, fresh eggs, ground beef, cranberry beans, herbs, potatoes, and apples. Everything comes to $59, which he and I split. We also stop at the supermarket for a box of sea salt. $40
11 a.m. — We still haven’t eaten anything for breakfast yet (except for farmers’ market samples) and at this point, I’m hungry. We grab a muffin and a cinnamon roll for breakfast from a bakery ($7). $3.50
4 p.m. — With no major plans for the day, we decide to prep our lunches for the week. J. and I enjoy cooking and experimenting with new ingredients, and I’ve found that having a good lunch at work really makes a big difference in my days. We make four lunches of meatballs with cranberry beans, roasted eggplant, and carrots, and east some for a late lunch/early dinner.
6:30 p.m. — When the laundry is ready ($26), we pick it up and stop for one last treat. We each get two scoops of ice cream from a shop directly across the street. The flavors are seasonal and delicious and I don’t regret my decision one bit ($15). Overall, I am proud of my spending this week. I think that the end of summer and being back at work have made it easier to stick to a solid routine. I hoping this streak lasts, at least for a bit. $20.50
Daily Total: $64
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