A Week In New York, NY, On A $73,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a communications manager working in higher education who makes $73,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a hot oil hair treatment.

Occupation: Communications Manager
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $73,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,890
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,325 (split with roommate, she pays more for larger room)
Student Loans: $400 (I’m in grad school so my loans are in deferment, but I’m still making monthly payments)
Metrocard: $127 (pretax commuter benefit)
Insurance: $92.27 (pretax; medical, dental, vision)
403b: $304.17 (pretax; deducted from paycheck; I contribute 5%, employer contributes 5% automatically and matches up to an additional 5%; currently have $20,000)
Utilities: $125 (cable/wifi/electric)
Netflix: $13.12
Hulu/Spotify: $5.04 (combined rate for students!)
Amazon Prime (annual): $59 (student rate)
New York Times: $4.04
Phone: $0 (Only thing my parents still pay for)
Gym: $235 (Equinox all-access, qualified for a $25 monthly discount through work)
Savings: $300 (currently have $15,000 in an emergency fund)
Investments: $100 (currently have ~$30,000 in personal investments)

Day One

9 a.m. — So happy it’s Saturday! I was out with a friend last night and I feel pretty good even though I had a few beers (my tolerance is shockingly low). My roommate, M., and I get smoothie bowls and recap the night before. I usually eat cereal for breakfast on the weekend, so this is a treat. $11.92

11 a.m. — I’m in grad school and my current class is super writing intensive. I work on a paper that is due on Monday. Yesterday I created the outline so now I need to actually write it. I want to be done before my date tonight.

1 p.m. — I have a facial scheduled for today, which I’ve been looking forward to all week. I got 25% off for my birthday and have a $100 gift card. The esthetician recommends extending for an additional 20 minutes for $20 and I decide to go for it. After the discount, gift card, and tip the total comes to $42.64. After I head to LOFT to make some returns and end up buying a top there too ($32.70). $75.34

6:30 p.m. — I finish my paper! It clocks in at eight pages and I’m glad I finished early. I shower, make dinner, and get ready for my date tonight with B. This will be our third date!

9:30 p.m. — I get downtown and meet B. at a sushi bar. We each order two well drinks. He also orders a buttery nipple shot because we were debating if it would be any good. He likes it, I’m skeptical. The check comes and I swipe the bill before him. He paid for our first two dates so I want to treat! It comes to $28.31 + $6 tip. $34.31

11:30 p.m. — We move to another bar on St. Marks and each get one more drink. The bar is completely empty and exactly what I’m looking for.

12:30 a.m. — We head out of the bar and start walking towards the train station. We end up making out in the middle of the square. I’m not into PDA, but he’s cute and a great kisser. B. offers to get me an Uber home. If this was a movie, I would accept and invite him home with me. We would make out in the back of the car and the screen would fade to black. But this isn’t a movie. I thank him, but opt for the train.

12:50 a.m. — Welp, I should have accepted that Uber. The train gets delayed at Grand Central and we’re all forced to get off the train. I end up cutting my losses and calling an Uber from 42nd St. I’m finally am in bed by 1:30 am. $13.90

Daily Total: $135.47

Day Two

9 a.m. — M. and I wake up early and go to Whole Foods to pick up groceries for the week. I end up getting strawberry mochi, raspberries, apples, baby carrots, avocado, kale, babybel cheese, eggs, yogurt, quinoa, candied ginger, chicken, pita bread. I scan my Amazon Prime and I save about $7 on this purchase. $52.42

11 a.m. — I like to meal prep my lunches for the week. I’ll bake chicken and sauté kale with garlic and red pepper flakes and quinoa. It’s pretty healthy, but I mostly continue to make it because it’s super easy and reheats well. This girl ate peanut butter sandwiches every day for lunch in high school and college so I’m totally fine repeating boring meals.

1 p.m. — I try to take a nap after meal prep, but I’m woken up by my upstairs neighbors.

3 p.m. — I head out to run some other errands. I stop in to Sephora to return a serum I think was breaking me out and end up buying the Laneige sleep mask I’ve had in my basket online for ages but never pulled the trigger on. The total comes to $5.44 after the return. I also stop in to LUSH to purchase a hot oil hair treatment I read about somewhere online (maybe another MD?) ($11.92). $17.36

4:15 p.m. — I head to Trader Joe’s. I don’t get down to Trader Joe’s often so I stock up on stuff I’ll use over the next few weeks. I get popcorn, cheese, frozen chicken tikka masala, mac & cheese, garlic, pancake mix, lentil pasta, chocolate covered pretzels and a few other things. $56.71

5:30 p.m. — I get home and put away all my groceries. I mix up the hot oil treatment and put it in my hair. I have to leave it in for 20 minutes so I wash all the dishes I dirtied when meal prepping earlier.

7 p.m. — I paint my nails quickly. I break out my Lincoln Park After Dark —I’ve been waiting to bring this out all summer. I finish revising and formatting my paper. I’m not really sure if it’s good, but it’s done and I can’t ask for much more.

9 p.m. — I submit my paper at exactly 9. I microwave one of the frozen dinners from Trader Joe’s since I’m lazy and too hungry for much more. I facetime with my parents while I’m eating. I feel bad that I don’t call home more. M. and I finish a crime series we’ve been watching on Netflix and I eat the last cupcake my mom brought last weekend for my birthday.

11:30 p.m. — I always have trouble falling asleep, but I’ve found it helps to listen to something on Netflix. I pull up New Girl on my iPad and fall asleep to Nick Miller’s antics.

Daily Total: $126.49

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — I get up, quickly wash my face, and get ready in my room (aka scroll through Instagram until 8 and scramble to do my hair and minimal makeup). I grab lunch and I’m out the door by 8:36. I get on the train right as the doors are closing

9:10 a.m. — I make it to my desk, read through my daily newsletters (NYTimes and Skimm) and eat breakfast. I usually have one packet of Maple Brown Sugar and one packet of regular oatmeal. Again, I pretty much eat this every day because it’s cheap and easy (I’m sure you’re starting to notice that theme by now…).

11:30 a.m. — One of my coworkers brought in donuts — I grab a chocolate glazed and eat it at my desk. I’ve been working on a metric shit ton of reports for my boss all morning. This will probably be the majority of my week.

1:30 p.m. — I usually don’t eat lunch this late, but I wasn’t really hungry after the dount. I heat up my chicken, kale, and quinoa and eat it with a babybel cheese and baby carrots. I eat lunch at my desk while I read the Betches Sup newsletter.

3:30 p.m. — I text a bit with B. and eat a pint of raspberries I brought from home.

5:01 p.m. — I leave work and walk quickly to the subway — miracle of miracles a train is pulling up right as I get to the platform. Not only did I catch the local, but an express is waiting where I need to transfer. I get back to my apartment to finish some reading and to go over my notes before class tonight.

7:30 p.m. — I make two hard boiled eggs, a kale salad, and avocado toast on Ezekiel bread. It’s kind of random, but I don’t have too much creativity when it comes to cooking. It all comes together fairly quickly, but it still feels like I use every dish in my apartment. I think about my finances while I bite into my avocado toast and wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford a home… I look at all the dishes in the sink and decide that I’ll do the dishes tomorrow since my roommate is traveling and won’t be home until Wednesday. I text a little with B. and we make plans for dinner and a movie on Friday.

8:30 p.m. — My class starts and is two hours long. The class I’m currently taking is on ethics and leadership. The current political climate and the news of the impeachment inquiry breaking last week certainly add more nuance to the discussions. The class is interesting, but really dense. I feel like almost all of my free time goes to work for this class.

10:30 p.m. — Class is over! I’m starting to get hungry again so I grab my bag of chocolate covered pretzels from Trader Joe’s and head to bed. I decide to watch some of last week’s This Is Us before bed. I get through about half before I’m struggling to stay up. I make it to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth before turning off the lights at 11:30. I queue up an episode of The Office, but am asleep before I can even get to the intro.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:10 a.m. — I wake up to an email that my scheduled rent payment has posted (one less thing to think about today!). Since I don’t have to wash my hair this morning, I’m able to take my time getting ready. This is probably a trap since mornings like these usually end with me late to work… I decide to watch the last 15 minutes of This Is Us, while I check my banking app. I got paid this morning! I immediately transfer $300 to my savings account and transfer $100 to my investment accounts. I could probably set up automatic transfers, but I like being able to control this. I finish the episode, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I debate what to wear since it’s technically Fall, but is also supposed to be 85 degrees today. While I’m mulling this over, I re-curl my hair, do my makeup, and pack my lunch. I get dressed quickly and head out the door.

9 a.m. — I listen to the new Taylor Swift album on my commute. I leave my apartment to “I Forgot That You Existed” and I’m at my desk by “False God” (although I did skip “London Boy”). I catch up on some emails and eat my oatmeal (yes, I am an 85-year-old woman) before my weekly check-in with my boss.

10:30 a.m. — I get out of my meeting with my boss and quickly make a to-do list of all of the things I will need to do today in order to organize my thoughts. I get going and I’m able to knock a few things off my list.

12:30 p.m. — I remember that I have a meeting offsite at 1, so I heat up my prepped lunch of chicken, kale, and quinoa and eat quickly at my desk. It’s pretty hot outside for October, but it’s nice to get up from my desk.

3 p.m. — I get back from my meeting and remember that I should pay my student loans. I like to pay all my bills on the first of the month to budget the rest of the month accordingly. I currently have $28K in student loans, $6K of which are for graduate school. Since I am currently in grad school, my loans are all in in-school deferment. I still make a $400 payment each month to stay on top of the interest. I made some stupid mistakes in my loan repayment, but I’ve since gotten back on track. I’m planning to fund the majority of my Master’s with loans, but I’ll be able to pay some out of pocket. Unfortunately, my new employer does not offer the same tuition reimbursement plan as my previous employer. I’m planning to refinance all my loans once the grace period on my graduate loans passes since the average interest rate is around 5.8%.

5 p.m. — I head home. With my current class, Tuesdays end up being the best day for me to go to the gym. I have a strength class booked, but I’m still able to get home to do my dishes from the night before and have a quick snack of pita and lemon hummus. Hopefully I’ll be able to get to the gym two more times this week, but most evenings have been reserved for classwork.

7:45 p.m. — I get home from the gym after my class and a shower. The workout was great. I’m trying to focus more on building strength. I make dinner, similar to last night: turkey burger, kale salad with goat cheese, and avocado toast. I am able to get through some classwork tonight, even though this is supposed to be an off day.

9 p.m. — I tune into This is Us. I think this is the only show I still watch live. After it ends I had planned on finishing my lecture, but see that Hocus Pocus is on so I watch that instead.

11 p.m. — I stumble to bed after brushing my teeth and try to fall asleep. Even though I’m dead tired my mind won’t stop racing (yay anxiety). I put The Office on my iPad so I have something else to focus on. I’m out instantly.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — I wake up to my upstair’s neighbor’s kids running around. My roommate and I have concluded my room is directly under the kids. I’m still dead tired so I drift back to sleep until my alarm goes off at 7:20. I mess around on Instagram and think about how excited I am for my date with B. tomorrow. And that’s when I realize that it’s FREAKING WEDNESDAY! And I’m supposed to be in for an early meeting today, FUCK! I tear out of bed and quickly wash my face, throw on minimal makeup, and get dressed. As I’m waiting for my steamer to heat up, I decide to check my email and see that the meeting was actually canceled **insert praise hands emoji**. I take my time finishing my hair and packing my lunch and I’m out the door. Until I need to turn around to make sure my I unplugged my straightener. I’ve never once left my straightener on, but I constantly worry that I do.

9:05 a.m. — I get to my office and make myself a bowl of oatmeal. Go through my inbox and read my various newsletters while eating. Then I get to work on the things I was not able to finish yesterday.

12 p.m. — Meetings and work. Work and meetings. Somewhere in between, I scarf down lunch, the same thing I’ve had all week.

3:30 p.m. — A project that originally had a December deadline was just moved up to the end of October. After a brief freak out, I’m able to huddle with my partner. We come up with a plan of action and it’s actually much more manageable than we originally thought. I’m starving after this last meeting and eat the apple and Trader Joe’s Movie Theater popcorn I packed with my lunch.

5 p.m. — I head home right as work ends so I can start working on my last paper for this current course, which is due next week. M. texts me on my way out and asks if I want Shake Shack for dinner. HELL YES.

7 p.m. — I end up talking to my sister once I got home instead of doing school work. She is currently finishing her last year of college and is in the process of interviewing for jobs. She is nervous for her interview tomorrow morning; hopefully I helped calm her down (probably no, we are both anxious creatures). My roommate and I head to Shake Shack. I get a Shack burger and a vanilla shake. We split fries. $12.28

9 p.m. — Welp… the best of intentions. My roommate and I end up chatting for over two hours since she has been gone the last few days. I’m able to start working on my paper and get a bit done. The last few papers I’ve had, I’ve been able to just write all on the weekend, but I’m hoping to have some time this weekend that isn’t dedicated to school. It shouldn’t be too hard considering this MD is already twice as long as what I would need to hand in…

10:30 p.m. — I can barely keep my eyes open. I force myself to brush my teeth and pass out to Micheal Scott.

Daily Total: $12.28

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — Mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

7:45 a.m. — I’m finally able to drag myself out of bed, wash face, brush teeth. It’s raining and about 25 degrees colder today than it was yesterday. I silently thank my mom for bringing all my sweaters and coats down last weekend.

9:20 a.m. — What do the Q train and myself have in common? We’re both running late this morning. My boss doesn’t really care if we’re running late, but I’m still thankful she’s not in today. I mix up some oatmeal and get started on my to-do list for the day.

11 a.m. — I get a call from my graduate advisor. She calls about every two weeks to check in on classes and to make sure I’m on track. Most times I miss her calls, but today I’m able to chat with her briefly about my loans for the next few courses. I don’t need to borrow as much as I am eligible for, but want to make sure I don’t turn down funds I’ll actually need. When I hang up I notice a text from B. We finalize plans to go to the movies tomorrow night. Unfortunately, the theatre in Times Square is the only theatre in Manhattan showing the movie when we want to see it. I let him know I’ll get tickets. $36.76

1:30 p.m. — The usual for lunch before our weekly team meeting. None of the bosses are in today, so it should go quickly.

2:30 p.m. — As expected, the meeting ends early. I’m glad to have some time back to get a few tasks finished before the end of the day.

4:45 p.m. — I’ve pretty much finished everything that I can for the day. While I was eating lunch, I browsed Old Navy for a bit and found some great things on sale. I get a pair of jeans, a sports bra, and a pair of leggings. $98.38

5:30 p.m. — I get home and call my grandmother. I’ve been super busy and haven’t had a chance to talk to her in a long time. We chat about my life in the city, my new job (it’s been four months, but it’s still new to her), and grad school. She is super busy caring for my grandfather who has Alzheimer’s. I try to call every other week, but I’ve been failing recently.

6 p.m. — I get off the phone with my grandma. I have to buckle down and work on the final draft of a paper that is due at 8 p.m. on Monday. I have the notes from my professor that I need to incorporate into the paper; I’ll need to refine a bunch of ideas and add at least three pages of new material. What else can I do but procrastinate right now?

7:30 p.m. — Why am I like this?

8 p.m. — I decide to make dinner and quickly heat up frozen gnocchi from Trader Joe’s. I don’t have any inspiration to make the changes to this paper so I bring up a blank work doc and just start word vomiting onto the page. This proves helpful and within 30 minutes I have over 600 words worth of changes and additions to make.

10:30 p.m. — I’ve made great progress on the paper. I’ll probably be able to finish by Saturday afternoon, which will actually give me some time to be my introverted self and just watch TV for a bit. I put in more of the hot oil treatment I purchased earlier from Lush so it can sit in my hair while I finish up what I can do for the night.

11:30 p.m. — I get out of the shower, brush my teeth, and head to bed. Unfortunately, I can’t sleep. I’m still browsing Instagram when it passes midnight. Niall Horan’s new song just dropped so I give it a listen. It’s a bop, can’t wait to listen to it on repeat for two weeks straight and then never listen to it again. I think I fall asleep somewhere around 12:30 am.

Daily Total: $135.14

Day Seven

5:28 a.m. — I wake up to loud stomping from the kids upstairs. I say a silent prayer of thanks to my IUD.

7:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off. My roommate texts that she’s getting in the shower in 10 minutes so I drag myself to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. The apartment is still dark and I’m not wearing my glasses. My roommate is in the kitchen and scares the shit out of me when I come out of the bathroom. I’m awake now.

7:50 a.m. — I finish up the dishes I had piled high over the last few days (bless my roommate who does not hold this against me). I get ready for work and am thankful for casual Fridays. The new season of Big Mouth dropped over night and I’ve been waiting for this forever! I get through the first episode before I have to leave and it’s gives me new vigor to take on the day.

8:40 a.m. — Head out to catch the subway. It’s so nice out today and finally feels like fall.

9 a.m. — The train is suuuuper delayed today.

9:30 a.m. — Just get to my desk. Ooops.

12:30 p.m. — Friday is the only day I let myself buy lunch. I decide to go to Chipotle for a burrito bowl ($10.83). I eat at my desk and look at bus tickets to my alma mater. I’m going back later this month to visit my sister who is currently a senior there. I’m able to find a cheap nonstop Megabus ticket so I book it ($54.49). $65.32

3:30 p.m. — B. and I confirm our date plans for tonight. I”m so excited to see him again!

5 p.m. — I rush home so I can work on my paper, eat, shower, and get ready before our date tonight. I take some time to mentally prepare to venture into the Times Square hellscape.

7:45 p.m. — Gahh this was much worse than I ever could have imagined. I’m thankful I never need to come to this part of the city. We meet at a bar to grab a drink before the movie. I get a beer, B. gets a wine. B. pays.

8:40 p.m. — We head to the movies. B. gets a small popcorn and soda for us to share. I purposely booked tickets in the last row just in case we want to get a little distracted. There were a million open seats when I booked, but the theatre is packed when we walk in. Due to my aversion to PDA, we get through the movie with no distraction.

10:30 p.m. — I was so tired on my way to meet up, but I’m down to find another place for a drink. We start walking downtown for a while. I don’t mind. It’s a beautiful night and I like being with B. We end up at a cute little bar andI’m excited because I know he lives in the neighborhood. We each order two well drinks and chat for a while.

12 a.m. — B. closes the tab and we head outside. He offers to order me an Uber to take me home. I’m disappointed because I thought we would be heading back to his place, but I accept. The Uber arrives. B. asks if he can come home with me. Hell yes. We slide into the back seat of the Uber. Fade to black.

Daily Total: $65.32

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