A Week In New York City On A $45,000 Salary

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.

Today: a leasing administrator working in real estate who makes $45,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on makeup.

Occupation: Leasing Administrator
Industry: Real Estate
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $45,000
Paycheck (Semi-monthly): ~$1,600. (I’m contract-based, so it varies depending on my hours logged.)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,150. (I rent a room in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom condo with two roommates.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I received several scholarships and then my parents paid for the rest of my tuition.)
Gas & Electric: $30
Health Insurance: $181 for my single plan
Renter’s Insurance: $5
Cell Phone: $0. (My parents agreed to pay for my cell phone until I’m fully “on my feet.”)
Internet: $30.
Transportation: $121 for my unlimited MetroCard
Gym: $30
Savings: $200, automatically deducted from my checking account. (I also throw in whatever I have left at the end of the month. I waitressed part-time for about eight months after graduating while living at home, and I saved the majority of my earnings. I have about $13,000 saved.)

Day One

10 a.m. — I have the day off, so I roll out of bed slowly. Even though I tend to get very cranky at work, I often feel like I have no purpose on my days off. I decide to spend the day exploring places in NYC that I’ve neglected since I moved here six months ago. I squeeze in a quick yoga video, scarf down some cereal, get dressed, and am out the door.

12 p.m. — First stop: Glossier! I feel slightly ashamed calling myself a millennial and not owning any Glossier products. I have an anxiety-triggered shopping problem, so I’ve been trying to rein in my personal care purchases. I feel proud of my single purchase and walk out with a tube of Boy Brow. $16

1 p.m. — I continue to window shop around SoHo and have a mental battle over whether to stop for coffee and treats. I’ve been trying to cut down on all non-essential spending, so I pull out my emergency snack bag full of nuts, cereal, and miscellaneous items and nibble while I walk around.

4 p.m. — I’m not a fan of football but my sister invited me over for the Super Bowl — and she is a fabulous cook. I buy a bus ticket and make the hour-long trek to Hoboken. $3.50

4:30 p.m. — I make a quick pitstop for wine. My brother joins us as and he kindly brings me a bag of Trader Joe’s groceries that my mom paid for! $6

5 p.m. — My sister does not disappoint: I arrive to find a spread of cheeses, berries, homemade wings, taco bowls, chicken parmesan bites, garlic bread, and meatballs. I stuff myself until I can barely breathe.

9:30 p.m. — Sister pays for my $34 Uber home because it’s raining cats and dogs outside. She is the most generous person I know.

11 p.m. — I do an abbreviated version of my skincare routine because wine always has a way of making me feel lazy AF. I snuggle in bed with my meditation book and doze off into dreamland.

Daily Total: $25.50

Day Two

8 a.m. — Back to the grind! I wake up and do my makeup while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, 10% Happier. It really sets the tone for my day. I head to work and try to spend the majority of my time on the subway meditating; it keeps me from getting ticked off at the MTA system.

10 a.m. — Start my day with quinoa hot cereal from Trader Joe’s. I throw in nuts and honey for excitement because it tastes like hot, grainy cardboard by itself.

11 a.m. — The phone in my office is ringing off the hook today, making it difficult to get my work done. I do deep breathing and get back in the game. I am the first point of contact for clients and I like speaking with new people all day, but it can be hard to jump from interacting with clients back to creating reports and spreadsheets.

1 p.m. — I pull out my salad and devour it. I’m very grateful my family buys me groceries from time to time.

5:30 p.m. — The late afternoon crash hits me. I decide to make hot chocolate instead of my typical coffee, and I pair it with SkinnyPop and prepare to leave for the day. My parents ordered a new mattress for my birthday (my first full-sized mattress!) and I can’t wait to get home and set up my first adult bed.

6:30 p.m. — Get home and sadness ensues: the mattress has not arrived yet. I throw together snacks for dinner and pack a change of clothes for my workout tomorrow. Generous sister is taking me to my first barre class after work!

8:30 p.m. — Full-on skincare routine is in play tonight. I cleanse and then apply facial mist, exfoliating serum, and a moisturizing facial oil.

10 p.m. — The mattress finally arrives and I am too excited to not open it immediately. I sweat profusely while setting it up and make a mental note to do more physical activity. Then I open a bag of gummies, intending to have just one, and end up inhaling half the bag.

10:30 p.m. — I FaceTime my long-distance boyfriend and he unloads his work stress onto me. We plan a hotel night for the upcoming weekend and say goodnight. We usually split everything evenly between us, but he just got a raise and a bonus so he pays for the hotel.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — The subway is super crowded today, so I can’t sit down and meditate. Bummer. I’ve been trying to be more flexible when things don’t work out perfectly, but it’s a struggle for my type-A personality. Instead, I practice deep breathing on my walk from the subway to the office, but it doesn’t last long because I get lightheaded.

9:30 a.m. — I avoid a specific walking route that passes by my guilty pleasure coffee spot, La Colombe. I recently read that relying on willpower alone is often ineffective when trying to break habits, so I try to outsmart my brain. Mission fails as I pass by another enticing coffee shop and succumb to the soy latte devil. Tomorrow is another day. $4.50

12:30 p.m. — It’s been pretty slow in my office now that it’s so cold out and people aren’t shopping for new apartments as aggressively, so I peruse job listings my friend sent me while nibbling on Cheerios for breakfast. Sadly, I am vastly under-qualified for all of these jobs.

3 p.m. — Munch on my TJ’s salad and wish it was anything other than a salad. Somehow, I end up on Glossier’s website. I peek at a few items that interested me in the store a few days ago and search for a gift for my sister’s upcoming birthday. Just like that, I have fallen down the online shopping rabbit hole once again. I buy a lip gloss, two bottles of the Solution, and a highlighter. $85

4:30 p.m. — I text my mom about a ballet performance I’m interested in seeing on Thursday. She’s intrigued as well, so we each buy our own tickets. $29

6 p.m. — Sister can’t find a barre class that I can make it to in time, so we reschedule. I stop at a grocery store for ranch and tomato sauce, frozen veggies, and echinacea tea to (hopefully) help boost my immunity. Flu season is too real. $29

8:30 p.m. — I heat up zucchini noodles with spicy tomato sauce. It’s shockingly tasty.

9:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of Shameless, do body scan meditation, and dive into my book for a bit before passing out.

Daily Total: $147.50

Day Four

9:15 a.m. — I get ready for work today and try leaving my apartment a few minutes later so that I won’t have enough time to buy coffee. My plan fails again and I somehow arrive at my stop earlier than I ever have…and I stop for a coffee. Instead of my usual latte, I compromise with a plain coffee. $3

11 a.m. — They’ve added some new protocols at our office and everyone moans and groans about it. I do the same but secretly am excited to have more things to do! I’ve been having somewhat of an existential crisis for the past six months or so. This is only my first full-time job since graduating, but I feel like I’m not developing any of my skills here and haven’t had any luck finding something else yet.

1:30 p.m. — I don’t feel like eating the salad I brought with me today, so I order a Mediterranean platter. I am hoping I can squeeze two meals out of this so I don’t feel so guilty ordering out. $16

3 p.m. — I’m heading to a seminar this evening hosted by Yael Shy, the fabulous lady who wrote the meditation book I’m reading, What Now?. The book has seriously helped me navigate this rocky transition I’m experiencing post-graduation. I’m jumping out of my chair thinking about meeting her tonight!

5:30 p.m. — I attempt to place an order on Forever21.com for shirt options to wear on my birthday, but the page keeps freezing. I take it as a sign that I shouldn’t spend money on clothes I’ll only wear once.

6:30 p.m. — I Uber to the seminar but arrive quite early, so I pop into CVS intending only to browse but end up buying a lipstick I’ve had my eye on. $8.50

8:30 p.m. — The seminar is very intimate, which I love. Yael begins with a guided meditation that includes Buddhist-style singing bowls. The rest of the time is spent talking about loneliness and how we can become comfortable with the feeling rather than fighting it. She signs my book and I chat with her for a bit but then I get really flustered and bolt out of the room!

9:30 p.m. — Grab the subway home and nosh on leftover sad French fries from my lunch. I rinse off quickly so I can snuggle in bed and watch another episode of Shameless before falling asleep.

Daily Total: $27.50

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling surprisingly anxious, considering I spent the majority of last night meditating and self-reflecting. I grab a coffee on my way to work. Normally, I only buy coffee about once a week because my office has a Keurig, but we ran out of K-Cups and I’m cutting myself a break this week. $1.86

3:30 p.m. — I eat the salad that I neglected yesterday and I really regret it because the cheese has melted together and the lettuce has wilted. I nibble on the tortilla strips it came with and make a cup of hot chocolate to hold me over until dinner.

5:45 p.m. — I leave work a few minutes early to see the ballet I got tickets for with my mom and sister.

8 p.m. — The show has a fantastic live jazz band accompanying the dancing and exceeds all our expectations. Afterward, we Uber to an Indian restaurant for a feast. My sister pays for the Uber and my mom pays for the food. I not-so-subtly try to convince my sister to write a Money Diary because she makes bank and I really want to know more about her financial management. My mom and sister send me home with the leftovers.

9 p.m. — I walk home and literally collapse into my bed after a lovely evening.

Daily Total: $1.86

Day Six

1 a.m. — I do my usual morning routine and head to work, stopping for a hazelnut oat milk latte along the way. $5

11:30 a.m. — A friend of mine recently passed away, so I read over some of our old text conversations until I’m on the verge of crying and realize this is inappropriate to do at work.

12:30 p.m. — I reflect on the fact that I really need a change in my life, and decide to send a friend my résumé for the job I feel under-qualified for. Fingers crossed!

2:30 p.m. — I eat leftover chicken tikka masala and naan for lunch. I got my period this morning and am dying for some comfort food, so this is perfect.

6:30 p.m. — Leave the office to catch a bus back to my parents’ house for the night. My parents are both retired, so I go home a lot to spend time with them and my older brother, who lives at home as well. Plus, I get to see my puppy and kitty; I miss them like crazy. $8

8:30 p.m. — My mom picks me up from the bus stop and we go home for a night of relaxing and snuggling with my pets.

Daily Total: $13

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I mosey out of bed and my wonderful mother cooks cheese blintzes for breakfast.

1 p.m. — I shower and get on the road to meet my boyfriend upstate for our hotel night.

2 p.m. — We both arrive, get in a solid snuggle, and head downtown to walk around the adorable shops. I stop at an art supply store and pick up a few small craft items as souvenirs. $3.50

3:30 p.m. — We stop at a boutique coffee shop and I get a soy latte to sip on while my boyfriend eats lunch. We sit next to people who are practicing speaking French. I know a decent amount of French, so I try to follow along with them, but then realize I know a lot less than I thought I did. Sigh. $5

5 p.m. — There’s a vegan café here that I am dying to try, so I drag my boyfriend in and order a green juice. $7

7:30 p.m. — Boyfriend and I go to a German gastropub for dinner and order pork belly street tacos, garlic parmesan fries, and chili-rubbed wings. It’s so refreshing to go out for a nice meal that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like everything in NYC does. Boyfriend pays and I Venmo him for my portion. $22.50

10 p.m. — Boyfriend and I watch Olympic figure skating for a bit and then I read him some of my meditation book before we both call it a night.

Daily Total: $38

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