A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On An $84,000 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: an interior designer who makes $84,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on iced coffee.

Occupation: Interior Designer
Industry: Commercial Interior Design
Age: 29
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $84,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,072

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,115 for my half of the rent. (I live in a one-bedroom apartment with my fiancé, B.)
Student Loan Payment: $575 (I have about $30,000 left to pay off.)
MetroCard: $121 for 30 days unlimited
MealPal: $130
My Fiancé’s Health Insurance: $250. (His job doesn’t provide insurance, so his is out of pocket. Mine is fully covered by my office, so I help contribute to his because it’s astronomical and I can swing it at the moment.)
Gym Membership: $65
Cable/Internet Bill: $66 for my share
Electricity/Gas Bill: $40 for my share
Hulu Plus: $10. (I need to cancel this because I don’t use it enough…)
Acorn Investment Account: $40
Southern Poverty Law Center Donation: $14
Spotify: $9.99
401(k): $322
Credit Card Debt: $300-$800, depending on what I can afford. (I have about $8,000 to pay off – yikes.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Hit snooze a couple of times and drag myself out of bed – I’m exhausted after a late night pillow-talk with my fiancé. We’re an intercultural couple (I’m American, he’s from North Africa and lived there until a few years ago), and we find ourselves often in these deep conversations in the evenings about how we will handle various life decisions. Some of it’s tough stuff, but all of it makes us feel so much closer to each other. I wake up tired but glowing with love for this man sleeping next to me, and I cannot wait to marry him. I KNOW, very lovey dovey – but I have an excuse: I’m a Pisces and I feel ALL of the emotions.

7:30 a.m. — My cousin stayed with us last night after her flight back to California was cancelled due to yet another storm. I throw an egg on to boil while I do my makeup and drink my first cup of coffee. Once my egg is done, I peel and eat it with a few blue corn tortilla chips and hummus (weird, I know…but so good!). I throw on my clothes, take the pup for a quick walk, kiss my fiancé, and I’m out the door.

9:05 a.m. — Whew, made it through the commute and I’m only five minutes late to work! My boss is extremely punctual and often gets to the office a few hours earlier than us, so when we aren’t here by 9 a.m., he notices.

12:45 p.m. — I head out to pick up my MealPal lunch, an acai bowl from a juice shop down the street. I am loving MealPal – I get to pick lunch from a nearby restaurant every day, and it’s a huge money saver. The meals work out to be about $6 per lunch, which is a steal for NYC! I tried bringing my own lunch for a long time, but I’ve decided it’s just not worth the trouble for me to take the time to meal plan on Sundays. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I bring my acai back to the office and pop a handful of extra nuts in there that I bought at Duane Reade earlier this week – super delicious and filling. YUM.

4 p.m. — Coffee time. I head downstairs with my coworker to our usual afternoon two-dollar coffee spot down the block. We spend the 10 minutes away from our desks complaining about the office and wondering out loud to each other why we put ourselves through this. Whoever thinks interior design and architecture is a “fun” job is kidding themselves! My coworker is having a particularly bad week, so I buy his coffee and grab myself pretzels and hummus. This place is amazing – every item is exactly $2 (+ tax). We grab our stuff and head back to the office. $6.50

6:30 p.m. — Finally wrap up the 3D model studies that I’m working on, send one last email, and head out of work to go the gym. My gym is a few blocks from my office, but I’m thinking of cancelling my membership. Now that it’s almost warm enough to run outside, I want to dedicate my gym funds to a yoga studio and get my cardio in by running outside. I decided recently it would be best to streamline my practices and choose things that I can pretty much do anywhere and that make me feel good – hello, yoga and running!

7:45 p.m. — Wrap up my run and quickly run out to grab my MealPal dinner from Num Pang: a yummy tofu rice bowl. Jump on the train and head home.

9 p.m. — Walk the dog and then sit down to eat dinner. I scroll through Instagram with the second Sex and the City movie on in the background…ahhh, pure relaxation. This is what I wait for all day!

10 p.m. — Okay just kidding, THIS is what I wait for all day. B. is home from work and winding down from a stressful day. We fill out a fun questionnaire from our wedding photographers about our personalities, and then peruse and refine our online registry. We’re sending save-the-dates next week, so this website and registry need to be up and running. YAY wedding! We are just starting to really get into it, and we’re about six months out. Around midnight is bedtime. I light a candle and climb in, read a little on my Kindle, and am out in about five minutes. B. blows out the candle, since he’s usually up a little longer than I am.

Daily Total: $6.50

Day Two

6 a.m. — I wake up about 30 minutes before my alarm when the pup comes in and wants to snuggle into bed with us. This is her thing these days – as the sun comes up, she nudges the door to our room open and makes little whimpering noises at the bedside. I’m not mad about it. She’s the littlest spoon.

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and it’s time for yoga. I bought a week pass for the yoga studio down the block last week so that I could try it out. I’m really trying to get back into my practice and this is just what I need to heal my muscles from running last night and to start my weekend off on the right foot! I prep my coffee for when I come home so that I can just push the button while I’m getting ready after yoga. I’m out the door by 6:50.

8:05 a.m. — Feeling amazing! Home from yoga in less than two minutes, but still in a huge rush. That’s the only issue with these 7 a.m. classes. I need to throw my makeup and clothes on in record speed in order to make it to work in time. Sleepy pup is so confused by my presence – she thought I had left for the day. I pop a kiss on her and my fiancé, pour my coffee in a to-go mug, and I’m back out the door.

9:05 a.m. — I get to work starving, but energized and happy. Someone brought muffins – thank god! I settle in for an easy day of photoshopping renderings for our client presentation next week. I love these kinds of days at work where I’m not really using my brain – just making things look pretty and listening to podcasts. Especially when that day is a Friday!

12:30 p.m. — Head out of the office for lunch, but stop at the post office first to mail a birthday gift to one of my best friends from college who lives in Connecticut. Of course it probably won’t arrive in time, as per my usual belated efforts, but I’m happy to have gotten it in the mail. $7.50

12:45 p.m. — Pick up my MealPal lunch and take a phone call with a potential freelance client while I eat. I do a lot of freelance work on the side as a way to make extra money while my fiancé and I plan our wedding. It’s not always fun to have to spend my free time doing extra work, but it keeps me motivated, and I’m so thankful to have connections from previous jobs reaching out to me for help. Keeps me going!

1 p.m. — Grab makeup and things I’ve been needing from Duane Reade…along with a pregnancy test ($15). My period is a little late, which is not entirely unusual for me because I have PCOS, but just in case, I figure I should take a test. I have a rare boozy weekend ahead of me, so I just want to be suuuper sure. $30

2 p.m. — Okay, the suspense is killing me. I need to take this test. I head to the bathroom and do the thing – thankfully, I see a “not pregnant” on the screen. Whew! Not that pregnancy would be the end of the world at this point – I’m 29, I want to have kids, and am with the man that I plan to have them with. But I’d like to have my wedding first! I already have my dress and I’m REALLY looking forward to wearing it.

6:30 p.m. — I wrap up a draft that I’ve been working on of the presentation we’re doing next week and shoot it off to my boss. Then, I head out to go meet one of my best gals for dinner back in Brooklyn. She’s one of my bridesmaids, and we’ve been trying to carve out time to see each other more lately. I am loving these date nights with her to get up to speed on what’s going on in her equally busy life. We catch up at a sushi spot that she recommends and share appetizers, rolls, and a beer. Yum! $37

9:30 p.m. — Walk home to quickly freshen up before heading out the door again with B. to meet some of his friends for drinks in the city. I prefer to take a train when I’m heading out for the night instead of Uber, knowing that I’ll almost definitely take an Uber home at the end of the night after we’ve been drinking.

4 a.m. — Well, tonight ended up being one of those quintessential NYC nights! Lots of bar-hopping, LOTS of tequila shots, and so many laughs. B. has a few cousins here in NYC who are from his home country as well, and I’ve been really trying to spend more quality time with them lately, since they’re my future family! Sometimes the language barrier can be awkward at first, but tonight it’s no issue. The time flew by and these guys had me in stitches all night. I’m learning Arabic, so I’m starting to pick up on tiny little bits of their humor in conversation. Thankfully, most of my drinks tonight are bought by the guys, so I don’t have much remorse on that front. We grab late-night bites at Mamoun’s Falafel. $30

4:30 a.m. — We Uber home and I fall asleep in the car. We crawl upstairs, I quickly take the pup outside (she is confused and thinks it’s her morning walk), and then we climb into bed. $10

Daily Total: $114.50

Day Three

10 a.m. — OUCH. Oh man, the hangover is real. It takes all of my effort to get out of bed and start the day. I am not used to this – my days of staying out until 4 a.m. are few and far between, and now I remember why! But I don’t regret it at all – last night was so much fun, and much needed. The promise of greasy breakfast food is motivating, so I get myself up, brush my teeth, and put on a pot of coffee.

11 a.m. — I had woken up to a text from a former colleague asking if I would be free this weekend to help with a quick freelance project. I respond and say I can help out tomorrow. This hangover will certainly not allow for any productivity, and I have a full day today. I love when projects like this come my way with a quick turnaround – it’s not a huge commitment, and it’s an easy way to make some extra bucks. We wrap up the call and she sends me all of the project information.

11:30 a.m. — B. is up and ready to go (although struggling like I am), so we decide to go have brunch at the diner down the street before he goes to work. It’s not the *best* food in the world, but it certainly does the trick on days like this. B. works on Saturdays and Sundays, as he is a restaurant manager, and those are the days when they need him the most. We meander down the block and grab a table. I order a Snapple, needing something sugary to quench my hangover thirst, plus fish and eggs. B. gets the same and we spend breakfast catching up about last night and talking about our dream of opening a cute little breakfast restaurant. We split the bill, I kiss B. goodbye, and then I head home. $17

1:30 p.m. — I decide to take a quick nap because I know I have more fun ahead of me today, so I make a beeline for the couch when I get home and snuggle up with the dog.

2:15 p.m. — Nap alarm goes off and I wish I didn’t have plans today – what I would give to just relax and sleep off this hangover! But I know I have an amazing afternoon ahead of me, so I get up and get ready to head out. I’m meeting my friend to see a live taping of our favorite podcast, Bitch Sesh, at a theater in Times Square. It’s a breakdown of the Real Housewives franchise but it is also so much more than that. I put on an episode of the podcast and grab an iced coffee and French cruller donut at Dunkin’ right outside the train station. $4

3:30 p.m. — I arrive outside the theater on 44th and am giddy seeing all the other fans excited to see the show. I wait outside for my friend to arrive, and then we head into the theater.

4 p.m. — Well, what’s a Housewives -themed live show without wine!? We grab a couple of drinks and find our seats. This first round is on me. $30

6 p.m. — The show is over and my friend and I are still dying over the hilarity of these women who host the show. There’s another showing at 8 p.m., and we debate hiding in the storage closet to see it again, but opt instead to meet another friend for more drinks at a nearby bar.

8 p.m. — Okay, two more drinks in me and I’m ready to head home. It was so much fun hanging with the boys, but this is more drinking in one weekend than I’ve done in quite some time, so I’m definitely hearing the couch call my name. Plus, I know I have a bunch of work to get done tomorrow for my freelance client, so I can’t afford to feel hungover again tomorrow. I close my tab and head to the train. $16

9 p.m. — Home and starving because I haven’t eaten since brunch this morning. I order pad thai and cozy up on the couch watching TV until B. gets home and we can catch up on our days. $21

10 p.m. — Crap, I realized I forgot to cancel my HBO free week subscription, and my account was just charged. I activated it last week to watch Get Out (which was amazing!!!) and forgot to cancel. Oops! Doing that now. $15

12 a.m. — B. is finally home after an extremely busy day at the restaurant, so he is wiped out. I’ve already lit a candle in our room and turned down our bed so it’s ready to climb into. A friend told to me recently that she has been doing her own turn-down service at night as a self-care routine, and I am TOTALLY into it lately too. There is nothing better than walking into your candle-lit bedroom with a fluffy clean bed waiting for you. We both climb in and have a little much needed *fun* time before passing out. Ahhhh, weekends are the best!

Daily Total: $103

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up with immediate anxiety, knowing I’ll find a bunch of emails regarding the project I’m due to work on today. I get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, and put on a pot of coffee before taking the dog outside.

9:45 a.m. — Once she’s done her business, I take the dog back inside and then hop over to the grocery store across the street for some breakfast fixin’s and other essentials for the week. I walk out with bananas, a bag of organic oranges, a red pepper, red skin potatoes, a dozen eggs, cottage cheese, blue corn chips, gluten-free bread, and garbage bags. B. and I have been really trying to eat organic as much as possible lately. $36

10 a.m. — I put the groceries down and can’t wait to get to work. I know I have a lot ahead of me and can’t put it off for one more minute. I get started while sipping a cup of coffee and listening to jazz music – setting the mood is extremely important for my productivity when working from home.

11 a.m. — B. rolls out of bed to find me working and offers to make breakfast with the groceries I just bought. Bless this man. I am usually the breakfast cook and he is usually the dinner cook, so this is a treat. He is much more patient and intentional with his cooking than I am. I take a work break when the food is ready.

3 p.m. — Okay, this has been rough. The 3D model I’m working on keeps crashing my computer. I know I have a few more hours of work ahead of me at least, but I decide to take a break to walk the dog and go to the bodega to grab a few things. I get a pack of cigarettes, juice, and snacks. I know, I know, smoking is bad — I quit after college and haven’t smoked for five years, but I recently picked it back up. It’s my vice right now and I plan on quitting soon. I am very hard on myself in almost all areas of my life, so right now I’ve decided to cut myself some slack and let myself smoke here and there. I have quit before, so I know that I can quit again. $15

6 p.m. — I send the renderings to my clients, and of course they write back with comments within minutes. This is just the nature of interior design and branding, so I get it and I expected it. We go back and forth sharing thoughts and updated renderings for the next couple of hours.

8 p.m. — Okay, I’m hangry. I haven’t really eaten since breakfast, so I decide to use Caviar to order food. I text B. to see if he wants anything, and we decide to get Artichoke Pizza using a $10 coupon I have. $20

9 p.m. — Pizza arrives. Holy SH*T. These slices are the size of my head, and we ordered four. I feed the dog dinner and then cut myself a half slice of each pizza flavor (one artichoke, one crab) to eat on the sofa while watching a little TV. My brain needs this break after working since I woke up.

10 p.m. — B. finally gets home after a long day just as I’m wrapping up my work. I send the project off to the client and type up my invoice so I don’t forget. Days like this aren’t exactly how I’d like to spend my self-care Sundays, but I’m certainly not complaining about the extra lump of cash I’ll have in my pocket, or rather in our wedding fund, after this.

11:30 p.m. — My new routine (candle and cozy bed) is proving to be a winner. I am out in minutes.

Daily Total: $71

Day Five

7 a.m. — Aaaaand it’s back to work-work. It feels like I didn’t get a huge break or relaxing weekend due to the freelance yesterday, so I’m not thrilled to be starting the next five-day slog. I get up and do my usual routine: coffee, makeup, hair, get dressed, throw coffee into a travel mug, walk the pup, kiss the fiancé, out the door.

9:05 a.m. — Getting VERY close to actually getting to work on time! But not quite. I sit down and get started on my list of items for the day after reading emails. Our clients on the project I’m working on are based in Hong Kong, so it’s always a real treat to get to work in the morning and see what has come in overnight. (They’re 12 hours ahead of us, so by the time we get to work, their day is over.)

12:45 p.m. — I head out to go grab my MealPal lunch (another acai bowl), and bring it back to the office. We have a presentation tomorrow, so I don’t have time to take my full lunch hour. I absolutely detest when this happens – I think we need work-life balance and to take time to enjoy our lunch hours, but today it just ain’t happenin’.

4 p.m. — Bored with my work and doing my usual internet procrastination, I come across a book I’ve heard about and have wanted to read for awhile: Radical Acceptance. I’m on this constant journey to beat my anxiety and self-criticism that I suppose comes with being in your late 20s (Am I an adult? Am I old? Am I cool or am I boring?!), so I think this book will be a great one for helping me put things in perspective. I grab a used copy on Amazon Prime. $10

6:30 p.m. — We finally wrap everything up for the presentation tomorrow and get the room ready with all of our printed presentation sheets as well as material samples. I head out and am so excited to go to the gym before heading back to Brooklyn.

7:45 p.m. — Done with my run and rush out the door to go grab a MealPal dinner. I have a few left this week to use up before my month plan is over. I get another tofu rice bowl at Num Pang to bring home and share with B.

9 p.m. — I finally get home after way too many train issues for a Monday night. B. and I share the tofu bowl I brought home and heat up the rest of the pizza from last night. We watch the new Dave Chapelle special on Netflix, which is SO GOOD. Then we head to bed around midnight.

Daily Total: $10

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I’m up early so I can get to the office early before the clients arrive at 9:30. I know our clients will be late because they always are, but I want to be there early in case the bossman is freaking out.

8:30 a.m. — Tensions are high in the office because we have a few huge projects going on right now in addition to the ones I’m working on. I brush off the negative energy as the meeting approaches and decide to just *not care*. Our clients finally arrive about a half hour late and we get into our long agenda.

1:30 p.m. — Meeting is FINALLY over and I am starving. I missed my MealPal lunch window, so I go to a deli nearby to get a make-your-own salad with mixed greens, grapes, grilled chicken, walnuts, avocado, and corn. During my meeting, I got a call that the client on that freelance project I did over the weekend wants to see more options. I’m not complaining, because this means more extra income! It looks like I’ll need to dedicate a few evenings this week and the weekend to work on it. $12

6:30 p.m. — I wrap up my work for the day and head out of the office.

7:45 p.m. — I get home and B. is at the grocery store buying ingredients for dinner – yay! When he gets home, he starts cooking while I catch up on personal emails and respond to florists about our wedding flowers.

8:45 p.m. — We eat pan-seared tuna and roasted vegetables while watching a few episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s Netflix show, Parts Unknown. We LOVE it. B. has traveled to many of the places that have been featured on the show. He knows a lot about food, so it’s fun to watch with him.

11:30 p.m. — Candle, Kindle, bed.

Daily Total: $12

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Wake up and do my usual thing: coffee, makeup, get dressed, walk the pup, out the door. I’m thinking of buying a month membership at that yoga studio today.

8:55 a.m. — Actually get to work early, wahoo! I stop at Pret on my way into the office and grab a coffee since I forgot mine at home (sitting on the table steaming and ready for me to throw a lid on it – UGH), and a salad for lunch because I have a dentist appointment at lunchtime and won’t have time to grab food. $12

11:30 a.m. — We have a meet-and-greet meeting with a stone flooring vendor. It’s always interesting to hear more about building materials and how they’re used. It makes me feel smarter and that much better at my job!

1:30 p.m. — I eat lunch quickly at my desk before leaving for my dentist appointment. This appointment is supposed to be the last in a crown-replacement saga I’ve been dealing with, but I get there and find that the crowns don’t match perfectly, so we decide I need to go to the lab (out in Long Island – UGH) to get fitted. I leave crying and call B. out of frustration. At least I don’t have to pay the $900 out of pocket today that I was expecting to. I don’t have dental insurance, so this whole debacle is coming out of my savings. (Thank you, freelance work!)

6:30 p.m. — I go to leave the office but remember I want to send our save-the-dates tomorrow, so I take a little time to address the last few while I’m still sitting at my desk. So excited to pop these babies in the mail and let the excitement officially begin!

7:45 p.m. — I get off the train and order shawarma and rice for dinner on my walk home from our fave place. I’m so hungry and do not feel like cooking after this long day. The baba ghanoush at this place is INSANELY good. $20

8 p.m. — I walk in the front door and am so delighted by my pup – her reaction when one of us gets home is so priceless and sweet. I take her outside for a bit and then we go back in to get comfy for the night. I have freelance work to do, but I’m slow to get into it while I decompress and wait for dinner to arrive.

8:30 p.m. — Food is here! I take a break from the work and start an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that I missed from earlier this week. Then I quickly clean up and get back into my work with the show on in the background.

10:30 p.m. — B. gets home just as I’m starting to wrap up my freelance stuff. We tell each other about our days, chill on the couch with the pup, and watch a couple episodes of Sex and the City. (He protests, but I know he secretly doesn’t hate it – who would? It’s a GOOD show!) Then we head to bed, exhausted.

Daily Total: $32

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