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: an associate publicist working in publishing who makes $44,673 per year and spends some of her money this week on Essie nail polish.
Occupation: Associate Publicist
Location: New York, NY
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): ~$1,200 (Post deductions and taxes with overtime, my paycheck is usually around $1,300, but it varies.)
Gender Identity: Cis Woman
Rent: $825 (my half that I split with my boyfriend — we live in a studio apartment in Brooklyn)
Student Loans: $300 (I graduated with about $29,000 and still owe about $21,000.)
Planet Fitness: $20.89
The Skimm: $3.17
Hulu/Amazon Prime: $0 (boyfriend covers these)
Cell Phone: $100
Internet/Electricity: about $120 (our management covers gas)
MTA Unlimited Monthly Card: $127
401(k): 5% of each paycheck (company matches up to 6%)
Health Insurance: ~$25 per paycheck
Dental: ~$15 per paycheck
Vision: ~$2 per paycheck
Family Student Loan Payment: $25 (My aunt paid for about $15,000 of my college bills, and I am slowly paying her back. I still owe her about $12,000.)
Savings: When I have enough money in my checking, I move it over to savings. I move about $1,000 over each year, all told. It’s not a lot, but it’s something. I have about $8,000 in savings right now, not counting my 401(k).
6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. NOPE. I’ve been attempting to get up earlier to start working out in the mornings, and it was working for a while…then I was hospitalized for inflammation in my spine (yikes), so the working out part hasn’t been happening and I can’t see the reason why I should get up this morning. So I snooze about 5,000 more times.
6:57 a.m. — Finally get the nerve to get out of bed and start up my drip coffee maker with Kona blend coffee from Target/Archer farms with oat milk and sugar. (Pro tip from a former barista: Light roast has more caffeine; stop playing yourself with that bitter dark roast and get with your milder, more caffeinated friend!) I settle back into bed with my coffee and update my Sims’ Instagram, or Simstagram (don’t you judge me) and scroll through other Simstagram community updates. My Simstagram has twice the number of followers my actual Instagram has, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the daily dopamine rush from new followers and likes. I dig it.
8 a.m. — I get out of bed and get ready. Makeup routine is pretty simple —Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream (I mix two shades to get the one I want), Maybelline FIT concealer, setting powder that is so old the label rubbed off, Benefit Hoola bronzer (gotta contour to get those cheekbones I don’t have), Maybelline Great Lash mascara, and some ChapStick. It’s Friday, so I’m treating myself to a bought lunch. I feed my two kitties, scratch them behind the ears, and am out the door with the new Who? Weekly episode on deck.
9:15 a.m. — Get to the office and settle in for some emails. Fridays tend to be slower in my department (no one in media answers emails on Fridays that I’ve ever met), which is good because this week has been intense and I could use a slower day.
10:50 a.m. — I see a notification from Anthropologie: everything is 25% off with free shipping…tempting. But even at 25% off their prices are way out of my range. I take a look at the offerings anyway, and alas, of course, I find something I cannot live without and it’s…$140, so $115 with the discount. Hard pass, even if it is pretty. I exit the window and bemoan my lack of money.
11:50 a.m. — I have a super productive and wonderful meeting with my manager. I was promoted earlier this year, but am already thinking about my next one (a girl has ambition). It’s really common to jump companies for a pay raise in publishing, but I am super happy here and leaving is the absolute last thing I want to do…but I could really use more money. (See student loan payments from above.) Getting promoted is super hard at my level, but I have this really hopeful outlook that maybe I’ll be the exception (lol wow, even I’m annoyed at me).
12:38 p.m. — I need to run some errands during my lunch hour, and because I’m an idiot who has to include everyone (#PiscesProblems), I invite a coworker, who of course is holding me up and keeps telling me she needs five more minutes. I love the girl, but when you say 12:30 you better mean it! [insert gif of Judge Judy slapping her watch]
12:45 p.m. — Finally she’s ready to go. We head to Marshalls, since I need a new shelf for my bathroom and their prices are what I can afford. I find the perfect shelf, but alas, a hinge is broken (though the shelf is still totally functional). I take it to the register anyway with a toothbrush cup, soap holder, and fake plant. They give me 30% off since the item is damaged, score! $40.25
1:35 p.m. — After Marshalls we swing by Pret because I still need lunch and it is by far the fastest (if not the most exciting) option. I get a tuna and cucumber baguette with salt-and-vinegar chips. $8.65
6:11 p.m. — Why am I still here on a Friday?!? Oh, right, because I am absolutely horrible at turning off my computer and letting things sit for a few days. I clean up my desk area, move some books over to storage, and head home for the day. Pigeon says there are issues reported on all of my lines home today, so this…should be fun.
7:10 p.m. — I am home! I change into sweats and a tank top, put my shopping bags on my bed, and…realize that the air conditioning is on. I have a standing AC because we can’t put window units in, and sometimes my cats step on the buttons. It could have been on for one hour or the whole day, I have no idea. But it’s cold. I turn it off and put dinner on the stove — Trader Joe’s Japanese-style fried rice (I LOVE this) and pomegranate kombucha. I settle in with Glee on Netflix. I have no idea why I am rewatching this when there are a million other new shows I’ve been meaning to start, but there’s comfort in rewatching something I’ve already seen and I need comfort right now. My anxiety has been a lot worse since I went to the hospital last month, and I am leaning into the familiar to stay sane.
8:30 p.m. — My boyfriend, D., gets home! That means it’s time to put up the shelf. We have a horrid history of furniture construction in the past, so I’m a little worried but really excited to get this put up. After a bit of trial and error with the leveler, it’s up and it looks great! I text some photos to my dad as a “Hey look, your daughter is adulting good,” and he’s proud of our handiwork.
Daily Total: $48.90
6:35 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm, probably because I’m anxious for today to get going. I’m not mad about it, though; getting up this early means I get to shower AND play video games before we leave for a rally. I get out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, and hop in the shower.
6:55 a.m. — Showered, coffee ready, I sit down at the computer to play The Sims 4. I only let myself play on weekend mornings, because for one, I get sucked into it and will go for hours, and I’d rather not do that on a weeknight, and also because my boyfriend usually doesn’t wake up until later on and I don’t have to feel bad about hogging his fancy gaming computer (note: When he bought the computer, I paid about 1/4 of it since I use the computer about that much of the time, so technically I have a right to use it a quarter of the time!).
8 a.m. — Time to wake up D., and I see that he’s already up. Love that — he’s a grumpy riser most of the time. I put on some coffee for him and put a bagel in the toaster, and while that percolates/toasts, I blowdry my hair. Thin-hair problems: gotta blowdry upside down to get that root volume. I head back to the kitchen, pour his coffee, and bring him a bagel and cream cheese. I go back into the kitchen to put a second bagel in the toaster for me, and while it toasts I put on my makeup for the day — same as ever, except instead of Great Lash I switch to Tarte Gifted mascara since it’s a weekend!
9 a.m. — We’re both ready to leave for the rally, so we head out to Queens. I swipe onto the subway using my prepaid card and we get onto our first train. It’s going local, and moving slow. We’re delayed a bunch before we transfer trains, and it takes us way longer than we thought to get there. Yikes.
10:40 a.m. — We get in line at the rally and it’s already SUPER long — always a good sign, and it’s all smiles. We talk to some nice people in line and text our friend S., who is meeting us hopefully before we get in. They said they were opening the doors at 11:30 a.m., but since it was mad crowded, they let people in early. We make use of the porta-potties (not too bad, actually) and settle into the crowd. We got a great spot, and I am so AMPED.
4:15 p.m. — After the rally, we settle into a diner and meet up with S.’s cousin. She’s really cool, and it’s nice to meet someone else who was at the rally to discuss their views and where they’re coming from with their support. The server is clearly overwhelmed (the place isn’t crowded, but they’re understaffed) and has to take our orders separately. It’s a little haphazard, but he gets everything right. We end up sitting for over two hours just chatting politics and our hopes for the future. It feels good. I end up getting a chicken sandwich and fries, S. gets a wrap and lemonade. I pay for us both because I feel like it ($30.30 with tip). I make about $10,000 more a year than S., and I treat him whenever I can. Since we don’t go out often and we don’t have expensive tastes, I like to take care of that. $30.30
7 p.m. — Before we get home we pop into the bodega for lemonade, ice cream, and cat food. A guy in the shop sees our rally signs, and we chat with him a bit. When we get home I immediately change into PJs and pull up my photos from the rally to post to Instagram. I didn’t get a ton of good ones since I was too busy paying attention, but D. got some. He plays video games while I scroll on Twitter to see the coverage from the rally — not surprisingly, not a ton from the news (they love to ignore Bernie, it’s not cute), but it is trending on Twitter.
9:10 p.m. — We decide to make cocktails with the lemonade we got at the bodega and mini vodkas I’ve had in the fridge for like at least a year and watch the new season of Letterkenny. It just dropped on Hulu and We. Are. Obsessed. Pitter patter!
10:10 p.m. — We. Are. Tuckered. Out. Nighttime skin-care routine and brushing teeth, as per usual, then D. reads to me from Harry Potter and I probably pass out in the first paragraph.
Daily Total: $30.30
6:35 a.m. — Up and at ’em again without an alarm. Weird how on weekends getting up this early is no trouble since I have the Sims waiting for me. I put on some coffee, but before I’m able to settle down, my cat lets me know he will absolutely die if I do not carry him around and snuggle him for ten minutes. I do that, prep my coffee, then settle in for some quality time with my Sims.
11:30 a.m. — I had an awesome game session, but I am ready to call it quits after five hours (I don’t have a problem, I swear). I head back into bed, where D. is still asleep, and settle in for some Sunday snuggles.
1:30 p.m. — We had planned on running some errands today, so I quickly eat before we go: turkey and provolone on sourdough with some pita chips on the side. D. mentions he wants to stop at Shake Shack before heading to his haircut, and I’m sort of bummed he didn’t mention this before I shoved a sandwich down my throat. I shrug it off, though, since it’s probably best I save the money anyway. I toss on some old jeans and an even older sweater (we are talking 2012 Forever 21), skip the makeup, and we’re out the door. I swipe onto the subway with my prepaid MetroCard.
2:10 p.m. — We get to Shake Shack and D. orders a burger, a lemonade, and a pumpkin milkshake. He definitely won’t finish all this, so I have a few sips of the shake (it tastes like vanilla; I barely got pumpkin notes, but it was still good). As expected, he gives up on the shake and throws away the last half. It’s wasteful and I gently chastise him for it, but I certainly wasn’t going to finish it, so there was nothing to be done about it.
2:30 p.m. — D. heads to his haircut, and I head to Marshalls. No. There are too many people. NO. I jet out of there so fast and head to Target and…no. It’s just as crowded, if not more. I get super anxious and jet out of there, texting D. that I’ll be at Uniqlo if he needs me. The store is pretty crowded but not as bad as the others. I try on a few things and think I might leave with a chunky camel-colored sweater…on second thought, I don’t need to spend $30 on a sweater that badly. I take a picture of the tag (just in case), fold it, and place it back on the display. D. meets me and we head to DSW to see if we can get a new pair of shoes for him, since his one casual pair of shoes is starting to wear on the soles. No luck finding anything in his price range, alas. His current shoes will probably last another month before it becomes dire, so I promise to let him know if I can get a discount online — I get those emails all the time.
3:30 p.m. — Last stop: Bath & Body Works. The candles are four for the price of two, and we love burning candles in our place, so we pick up two Hot Apple Toddy scent and two Leaves scent (my favorite!). I pay. $53.35
4:15 p.m. — Our subway decides to go express starting one stop before ours (of course), so we decide to stop at the grocery store off this stop and pick up three bottles of kombucha (I am a recent convert), bagels, English muffins, apple cider, and a block of cheddar cheese (Old Croc brand extra-sharp — it is AMAZING). $26.65
5:50 p.m. — I’m starting to get hungry, and my sink is full of dishes and I don’t want to cook, so pizza it is. I order Seamless (I round up change to donate to No Child Hungry). When we moved to this apartment I thought losing the dishwasher from our old place would be fine. Honestly? I spend way more money on takeout now to avoid doing dishes. It’s a bad choice. I know it’s a bad choice. But we take our luxuries where we can. $19
6:42 p.m. — I get a text from my best friend, A. A friend of ours from college passed away. We don’t know the circumstances and we’re both in shock. I tell D., who used to live with him. I call A. and we share fond memories of him, as well as try to distract ourselves with other stories of things going on with our lives. This is the second person I knew from college who has died unexpectedly this year, and I am feeling really strange — grief has never been something I’ve been good at dealing with, and something I would love to work out in therapy but…lol, who has money for therapy (I say after spending money on pizza and candles, I know, I know).
8:10 p.m. — After our call, I decide to change gears and instead put on the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Amazon Prime. RuPaul always makes me feel better, but I’m mostly unable to focus on the episodes and end up scrolling Twitter and Instagram, not really paying attention to that either. I’m just kind of numb.
10:20 p.m. — I’m beat, time for bed. Brush my teeth, cleanse with Simple micellar water, moisturize, and get into bed. Back to work tomorrow!
Daily Total: $99
6:38 a.m. — After hitting snooze four times, I roll out of bed, put on a pot of coffee, and hop in the shower. I thought about maybe hitting the gym this morning, if I had gotten up on the first alarm, but no dice, and I can’t work out in the living room while D. still sleeps, so. I get out of the shower, prep my coffee, and settle in bed to scroll Instagram.
7:45 a.m. — Annndd it’s time to get ready. I blowdry my hair, do the same-old makeup routine, and stare at my closet for far too long only to end up with a tank top/cardigan/jeans situation. Thank goodness for my casual office, or I would probably take hours to decide on my outfits. I grab the leftovers from Friday’s stir-fry for lunch and throw an apple in my bag for breakfast, plus my anti-inflammatory meds since my back hurts and I’ve been horrible at taking them this past week.
9:07 a.m. — And I’ve made it to work! Time to answer emails and put out some fires. I have zero meetings today, so I’m pumped to dive into my workload, but also feeling somehow already burnt out before I even open my email up for the first time. I eat my apple and try to focus.
10:23 a.m. — I cannot focus. I am hungry. I decide to make myself some chai and have two speculoos cookies to tide me over before lunch. I microwave leftovers for lunch around noon.
3:50 p.m. —I have a phone call with a lovely person who had trouble receiving a book, and she tells me I have a “pleasant personality.” I am the odd millennial who likes phone calls (though it’s always awkward in an open floor plan), and I really enjoy talking to people. Puts a smile on my face, in any case.
5:15 p.m. — I look at my to-do list and I look at the clock and decide to call it a day. It was a pretty slow Monday for me (both my bosses were out with authors), so I head out.
5:50 p.m. — I stop at Duane Reade before I get home because we desperately need kitty litter. I pick that up and also get some wet cat food, BB cream since I’m almost out, and a bottle of Essie nail polish in the shade Lady Like. When I get to the register, turns out I have a coupon for 20% off a purchase of $20 or more. SCORE! $29.16
6 p.m. — D. is home, which is rare since our schedules are totally different. He wasn’t feeling great, so he came home early. This makes me super nervous — I do not mean to be dramatic, but I cannot get sick this week. I have two concerts this weekend I have been looking forward to for months. If I have to sleep on the couch to avoid illness, so be it. He plays video games on the computer while I heat up leftover pizza from last night. I eat while I watch more Glee (are you bored with me yet?). The episodes are so not doing it for me tonight, so I switch to playing Breath of the Wild for a little bit, goofing off around the castle. I never did that the last time I played through the game, and it’s fun to try now when there are no stakes. I have literally been playing this since March, I’m just having a good time.
11:37 p.m. — I settle in bed for the night and end up scrolling on my phone for a while before D. joins me. We read some articles online before calling it a night around 12:30.
Daily Total: $29.16
6 a.m. — I’m sensing a pattern here. I snooze until 7:15.
7:15 a.m. — I am up. Coffee, Instagram, you get it. I pack my lunch for the day: a turkey and provolone sandwich on sourdough and one of the kombuchas I bought the other day. It’s Tuesday, which means Who? Weekly on the subway. Best part of my week is giggling on the subway every Tuesday morning. If you don’t already listen, what are you waiting for?!
9:20 a.m. — I’m at the office and get called into an impromptu meeting out of the blue. I don’t love when people do this, because I like to prep ahead of all my meetings, but it goes pretty well and I get some questions answered. I leave this meeting and go directly to another one. I don’t love starting my day away from my desk, but it can’t be helped.
11:08 a.m. — A coworker reminds me that the Sims 4 Discover University trailer is out, and AHHHH OMG we’re getting bikes and keg stands and bathroom stalls??!!? I am so happy. CANNOT WAIT. November 15 cannot come soon enough.
12:10 p.m. — My Co-star app tells me to “pay attention to how you express your aggression,” and I’m like…wow, so I shouldn’t tweet out that thing I was thinking of tweeting. Good looking out, Co-star.
12:17 p.m. — I cannot wait any longer, it’s time for lunch. I have pretzels at my desk, but I want chips, so I head to our café to pick up some to enjoy with my sandwich. $1.50
5:15 p.m. — After a super long and productive afternoon of answering emails and meetings, I am almost done for the day. I open Instagram because frankly, I could use the dopamine rush and — alas, on my personal I see that ANOTHER person I know has gotten engaged. That’s the second one this month. I try really hard not to let it bother me. It’s not that I’m in a rush, but it’s likely D. and I are going to get married for insurance reasons sooner than later, and I’m forgoing the ring because there’s no way my boyfriend can buy me the ring I want in time (it’s not even that extravagant, but he has literally no savings), and he needs insurance now. I remind myself I never wanted a traditional wedding or engagement announcement anyway, and try to be happy with what I have: one of the best boyfriends in the world who would do anything for me. That has to be enough.
6:30 p.m. — I get home and immediately change into my pajamas, then cook up some dinner. Tonight I’m feeling a bean burger with a sandwich thin “bun,” cheddar cheese, and sweet potato fries on the side. I heat up the fries in the oven after tossing them in some chipotle olive oil and paprika and prep the burger. I make a honey-mustard aioli for the side (this is a fancy way of saying I mix one part honey and one part Dijon mustard with two parts mayo — it’s DELISH). Once finished I settle in with an episode of Glee and eat.
10:44 p.m. — I realize I meant to do my nails tonight, so I go to the bathroom to take off my makeup/brush my teeth/moisturize (since I won’t want to use my hands later), and then sit down on the couch with an episode of House Hunters while I paint my nails with the polish I bought yesterday. The couple on the show is actually pretty well adjusted and have good priorities for once, and end up going with the house I would have chosen — nice!
11:15 p.m. — I settle in bed and scroll on my phone while waiting for D. to finish up gaming and join me. We have some snuggles and talk a bit about politics (we agree on literally everything and are super liberal, so it’s mostly us bitching about the same stuff we’re frustrated with) before I finally fall asleep.
Daily Total: $1.50
6 a.m. — I am up with my first alarm today. YES. I have a lot to get done this morning, so I hop out of bed and head to the kitchen to put a pot of coffee on. I get back in bed for a bit.
7:50 a.m. — I head to the bathroom for makeup time — this morning I use Smashbox Photo Finish primer, since I have an event tonight and need my makeup to stay put, but otherwise it’s same-old same-old, and I use Tarte mascara instead of Great Lash for added fancy. I realize I did not put aside time to make lunch and decide to cut my losses and buy today. I throw on one of my favorite Rachel Zoe tops (from Marshalls!), a pair of dark Levi’s, Birdies flats, and am out the door.
8:40 a.m. — I am on the subway and…it’s running really slow. Like, soooo slow. I have a copy of Well Met by Jen DeLuca to keep me company (spoiler alert: it’s excellent), and I look up to check the time at 9:22 and…we’re hitting a station five stations before my stop. WHAT??! I send a quick email to my bosses to let them know the train is delayed. They’re usually very relaxed about this sort of thing, but this is NOT good for my anxiety. To make matters worse, some muscly hipster guy sits right next to me in a spot where there’s really no room for him, and I’m squished between him and the wall. And wow, this morning is totally so not my morning, because of course, as soon as I hit the sex scene in the book (I’ll be honest, they’re my favorite part of reading romance), we reach my stop. Great.
9:43 a.m. — I make it to my desk, hooray! My boss isn’t even in yet, so I settle in with my emails and prep for some meetings I have later in the afternoon. I’m peckish, so I eat one of my Lara Bars I keep at my desk for emergency meals when I don’t feel like paying for one. I also take my anti-inflammatory meds this morning.
11:31 a.m. — I get out of an awesome meeting to go over a title for next year and come back to my desk to see an email scolding me for something…that I had no idea was even going on. That’s fun. Love that journey for me. (I hate today, I hope this negativity isn’t grating on anyone but hey, this is my life sometimes.) I talk to my manager about it while holding back tears and she’s so great to me and gives me great advice but, of course, this makes my anxiety spike even more. Showing emotion at work? Big no-no. Even though I know I’m a human and my manager knows I’m a human, that doesn’t make me feel any less anxious about being anything less than the perfect employee robot. Whyyyy.
1:45 p.m. — Well, the walk and the pickup took longer than expected, and I have a 2 p.m. meeting so I don’t have time to eat. YIKES. The meeting goes amazingly and is so collaborative and positive, so that’s a plus. $14
6 p.m. — The workday honestly FLEW by. I slap some lipstick on (Glace by BITE that I got as a points reward from Sephora) and head out to a work event. I just make it by 7 (I am at the mercy of the MTA) and it’s a packed house, standing room only! My friend K., who lives nearby, got there before me and saved me a seat. I check in with the events coordinator — everything is all set, and I take my seat.
8:40 p.m. — The event goes perfectly — no hiccups, many books sold. I am so pleased! I end up buying a copy of Trick Mirror while I’m there, because it’s good to support the indies and I’ve been meaning to buy this book since it came out (though, honestly, it’ll probably be months before I get to it). $29.40
9 p.m. — K. and I head out to a local taco joint afterward and share queso with chips and tacos. Delish! We split the bill down the middle. $42 for my half, including tip. $42
11:10 p.m. — Finally home! Who knew the train would be so busy after 10 p.m. on a weeknight? Once home I get into my pajamas, wipe off my makeup, moisturize, brush my teeth, and get into bed. My boyfriend pulls up this really interesting video on incel culture, and I fall asleep before it’s over.
Daily Total: $85.40
6:18 a.m. — I manage to only hit the snooze twice this morning, woo! I get in the shower and do the whole hair-and-washing thing. I recently switched to sulfate-free shampoo, and I notice I really do need to do the lather, rinse, repeat process in order to cleanse my hair. I’ve heard sulfates are bad from JVN, and I trust him, so I deal.
8 a.m. — Blowdry my hair, do my makeup, then throw on a blazer with my favorite Billy Joel band tee, straight-leg jeans, and booties, and I am out the door feeling kind of fierce, actually.
12:30 p.m. — I head out to buy a sandwich for lunch since, frankly, I had no time this morning to make breakfast again, and we got paid today so I can’t feel too guilty about it. I get a chicken cutlet on a roll with cheddar cheese and honey mustard, plus a Pellegrino. I bring it back to the office and head to our cafeteria to eat with my friend. It’s nice to take a break, even if I’m anxious about being away from my desk for the full hour. $10.34
1:30 p.m. — Oh no. Anthropologie is having a 40% off sale prices sale…I might not be able to resist this time. I quickly browse and find an absolutely beautiful wrap dress, and I have a thing for wrap dresses…I bookmark the dress and see if I’m still thinking about it by the end of the day.
5 p.m. — Welp, it’s 5 and I’m still thinking about that dress, so I buy it. Listen, it’s $59.97, down from the original $150 asking price, and I had a rough day yesterday, so retail therapy is in order. $59.97
5:30 p.m. — I head out with my coworkers for happy hour. I take out cash so I can stop myself from going overboard. It’s a really nice time, and I have a lot of fun getting to know some of my newer team members. I have two beers ($18 with tip, lol Manhattan happy hour drink prices), which I nurse for about two hours. I leave proud of myself for resisting the third drink and head home to find that my boyfriend bought me a Crunchwrap Supreme from Taco Bell — that’s basically my version of flowers. Bless this man. $18
10 p.m. — I’m really sleepy (ah, yes, beer), so I brush my teeth, moisturize, and hunker down in bed.
Daily Total: $88.31
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