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Today: a corporate innovation manager who makes $150,000 per year. This week, she spends some o her money on cannoli.
Occupation: Corporate Innovation Manager
Industry: Management Consulting
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Paycheck (2x/month): $3,782.24
Housing: $2,250 studio rental in a newly-furnished apartment building with doorman service and an in-unit washer-dryer
All Other Monthly Expenses
Savings: $1,000 auto-transferred from checking to savings account
Family Maintenance: $750. My parents generously paid for my university tuition but my Asian mother hates the idea of payback. We agreed to call it "paying it forward," and I've wired money home ever since my first paycheck. Currently, it helps to cover my brother's tuition and campus rent.
Phone Bill: $45
7 a.m. — Panic at the time and jump out of bed. Usually, I'm not a morning person, but I slept fitfully, aware of a big, looming morning deadline looming. Now, it's go, go, go. I throw the kettle on for pumpkin spice tea; it's a fall flavor that's more meh than it sounds, but I want to finish up the box. Then, I jump in the shower.
7:45 a.m. — Text back and forth with a friend to nail down the accommodations for our post-New Year's Trip to Flores, Indonesia — where the Komodo dragons live! There are three of us, but only double rooms are available in the place we're eyeing. We agree that I'll tentatively book a double room for four nights while she explores other options. $221.22
8:15 a.m. — Realize I haven't booked my flight to Flores from Bali. It'll take two minutes (I had them saved) so I fix that. This is a small getaway from our main trip, which is to Bali, but I bought those tickets weeks ago using miles. After, it's heads down on deadline. $182.68
10:15 a.m. — Hit send with a sigh of relief. Get dressed and walk 20 minutes to the subway. When I moved here a few months ago, I was so taken with my apartment that I didn't thoughtfully factor in my commute. I'm mostly okay with my decision, but a 20-minute walk still feels long on New Yorker time.
11:30 a.m. — The first thing I do when I get to the office is find an empty room and call a senior manager I recently worked with. She complained to my boss about a slip-up on my team and considers me responsible, so here I am, steeling myself for an "adult" conversation. She warms up once she realizes this is an I'm sorry, let's fix this call, not a Here are all my excuses call. Another sigh of relief for the day.
12 p.m. — For the rest of the work day, I attend an internal workshop on cannabis banking and legislation (consulting's latest "green field," pun intended). A pre-workshop lunch is provided, which is great since I forgot breakfast; I eat half of a sliced pork and apple sandwich before losing interest, and drink my watery mocha latte. The discussion is brisk and fascinating, and the audience is one of the most demographically diverse I've seen in my firm. Color me impressed.
6:30 p.m. — The workshop ends with a drinks reception. I help myself to a half glass of wine and a few prosciutto-wrapped dates before leaving, and then swing by Zara on my way to the subway. I'm looking for a new pair of black jeans but walk out with a black sweater. Everywhere I turn, there are crushed velvet and sparkly dresses; it's starting to feel a lot like Christmas. $22
8:15 p.m. — Pick up a few groceries at the supermarket next to my apartment building — pita bread, crackers, blackberries, black sesame ice cream. $15.50
9:45 p.m. — I made the mistake of opening a work email as I got in the front door, and then another mistake in deciding to respond. "It'll only be a quick edit" turned into an admittedly fun document redesign. Decide to pull myself out of the flow to get personal work done, mainly because it's my only free weeknight this week, thus, my only night for adulting. I make myself a Dark and Stormy, text my sister, eat a pita pocket filled with hummus and half an avocado, and prep salads for the next two lunches: kale, baked chicken strips, avocado, and beets. After that, I slap on a clay face mask, pick out work outfits for the next two days, organize my socks and tights, and pack up online shopping returns that I keep putting off. Isn't adulting sexy?
1 a.m. — Listen to a string of voice messages from a friend in London and then tuck myself into bed.
Daily Total: $441.40
8:15 a.m. — Drift awake and panic because I should have been up an hour ago. Drink some lemon water (I recently decided to keep a jug in the fridge), shower, and get dressed. Good thing I had my work outfit laid out.
8:42 a.m. — Grab an Uber to the subway and jump on the express train; expense it to work. I could technically expense an Uber straight to the office today (I'm guest-presenting to a global working group) but experience has shown me that the express subway is more reliable than morning traffic in midtown. ($7.25 expensed)
9:20 a.m. — Get to the office with time to spare before my presentation. I make a coffee (hazelnut creamer, yesss) and find a granola bar in the depths of my bag.
9:30 a.m. — Showtime. My presentation goes over well, and I'm invited to join the next working session as an internal advisor for a workshops series they're creating. I'm excited but can't say yes until I run it back up my leadership chain. Working on a global team means lots of bureaucracy over what is a strategic use of my time.
12:30 p.m. — I am tempted by the pierogis in the office café, but I have my packed salad for lunch. I nurse a second, and then third coffee from the pantry over team meetings and calls for the rest of the day.
6:30 p.m. — A senior manager (and very good friend) from out of town is here on business, so we go out for dinner at a Thai restaurant with a group of colleagues. We share a ton of appetizers, and I pack half of my huge plate of delicious, basil chicken fried rice to-go. A handful of us move on to a nearby bar, where the Hall & Oates song "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" inspires a fascinating (and NSFW) conversation on personal boundaries. The senior manager picks up both tabs.
1:50 a.m. — Share an Uber home with my colleague, who's crashing on my couch so she doesn't have to trek back to New Jersey. We have a final nightcap and gossip about boys, then fall asleep later than we should. ($11.50 expensed)
Daily Total: $0
8:15 a.m. — Nudge my colleague awake. We dress speedily, and I wash down milk thistle with lemon water in light of the drinking we did the night before. On the way to the subway, we get lattes and pastries at a hipster café. I suggest we use this commute time for our mentoring check-in, which gives us time to get back later in the day and allows me to expense breakfast. ($12.50 expensed)
2:30 p.m. — It's a full-on day with back-to-back working sessions, planning workshops in Brussels, Zurich, and Montana. I usually travel twice a month to deliver these sessions, so when I'm back in the city like I am now, all of my time is spent planning for the next round. I eat my Thai leftovers for lunch during a conference call.
4:30 p.m. — After some internal debate, I text N. to ask if he's free later that week to hang out. We had a great first date a few weeks ago, then he went on holiday, and we both got wrapped up in respective Thanksgiving plans. We really hit it off, but I don't want to build my hopes up. I definitely have a list of men who've ghosted after, and despite, fantastic first dates. While my New Yorker friends assure me this is common, it's still baffling. You agreed we had a great time! You proactively asked to meet again! And then when faced with the actual planning ... silence. Aziz, write a sequel and break it down for a sister.
7:30 p.m. — Meet my friend for a quick bite at a nearby diner (his office is just a block away) before we head to a concert. Unfortunately, the Christmas tourist crowds have hijacked most restaurants. It takes forever to get a server's attention but the food comes super fast, which makes up for it. We split a burger, have a beer each, and catch up. My fatigue is definitely setting in, but my friend — a master of puns — gets me laughing, and I get a second wind of energy. We usually take turns paying so he picks up this tab, knowing I'll get drinks at the concert. Hop the subway together to Brooklyn.
9:15 p.m. — I get us beers, and we catch part of the opening act (a fantastic Bibi Bourelly) before Jacob Banks gets on stage. It's an intimate but danceable gig, marred only by an annoying couple in front of us that can't decide whether to make out or dance with abandon; either way, they keep blocking our view! Midway through the set, I get us a second round of drinks. $22
11:15 p.m. — Jump in a cab home and crash, forgetting to take off my makeup. $12.50
Daily Total: $34.50
8 a.m. — I hit snooze a few times, knowing that I'm working from home today, and my first call isn't until 10 a.m.
9:30 a.m. — A barrage of emails convinces me that I need to get moving. I make a cup of pumpkin spice tea, and eat some chia seed pudding with almond milk and turmeric. Like the lemon water, I've found it helpful to constantly maintain a jar of this in the fridge and top up when it's low. I mentally prepare myself for three hours of conference calls, all of which I'm leading.
1:30 p.m. — Break for a homemade salad of kale, roast chicken strips, almond slices, sliced apples, and roasted sesame dressing.
4 p.m. — Still hungry, so I snack on black sesame ice cream. I'd hoped to go to an afternoon yoga class but my inbox is seething with things that need a response before end of day. This is the primary reason I don't work out enough.
5:30 p.m. — Close my laptop for the day! Take a leisurely stroll to a South African restaurant in the neighborhood near mine, and meet a friend for a quick, pre-theater bite. The menu has lots of interesting dishes I try to work through each time I visit, so we split an appetizer and grab a drink. $23
6:45 p.m. — Brisk walk to the playhouse. My friend stops dead in his tracks and doubles over when I mention that the version of The Fountainhead we're watching is four-hours long ... and in Dutch. Turns out, I forgot to mention those key details. This was a birthday gift to him (he prefers experiences to objects), and now I worry it was a bad choice. It turns out to be riveting! Even though there's an intermission to break up the four hours, I get extremely fidgety in the last 20 minutes.
11:30 p.m. — We meet up with other friends who were also at the play and eat a late dinner in the area. We order oysters and cocktails and debrief about the play; none of us can remember the last time we dedicated four consecutive hours to an endeavor, let alone sat still for four hours. Midway through our meal, the cast walks in and we applaud. They still have a few nights to go and must be exhausted. $46.78
1:15 a.m. — After all that sitting down, I decide to walk back home while the others grab cabs. One friend joins me for part of the route, then jumps on a Citi Bike. I love the peacefulness of walking home alone. The air is crisp and many of the brownstones have their Christmas decorations out already. At home, I fall asleep with my makeup on (again) while alternating between doggo memes on Instagram and Tinder swipes.
Daily Total: $69.78
9:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, with a reminder that I'm supposed to Skype a friend who just moved back to London from Nepal. I text to ask for an extra hour, and have a small snooze.
11 a.m. — Skype my friend and simultaneously make breakfast: more of that spiced pumpkin tea (it's starting to grow on me) with almond milk, and Greek yogurt layered with granola, almond slices, and blackberries.
3 p.m. — Take an Uber to the office. I usually don't come in on weekends, but my boss is heading to Zurich and needs me to print and prep materials. I have dinner plans in Midtown East anyway so this is basically a free, fast trip into the city. ($18.71 expensed)
3:40 p.m. — Oh my god, I forgot about holiday crowds. Traffic is diverted, some streets are pedestrian only, and I totally underestimated the throngs of tourists clamoring for a glimpse of the tree at Rockefeller Center. Getting to the office is an exercise in patience.
4:45 p.m. — Take the subway then walk to my friend's apartment. She's an aspiring chef who runs monthly supper clubs in her one-bedroom apartment, and tonight is the first time we're co-hosting an informal storytelling supper club. The premise is simple: She cooks; I facilitate; everyone brings their own story, and it's BYOB drinks. I help with food prep and run out to Trader Joe's to get ginger beer for a large pitcher of Moscow Mules. While there, I pick up cannoli, Christmas cookies, chocolate oranges, beet crackers, and sausages for my week ahead. $27.45
7:45 p.m. — Our friends start to arrive and pour themselves drinks; someone even brought all the ingredients to make Negronis! I kick off the night with improv storytelling, share ground rules (basic things like, "Don't be judgmental."), and we're off! Over the first course, I share my story; over the courses that follow, I fish names out of a bowl and invite that person to share their story. We're seven people in total and the conversation spans Scientology, travel snafus, Burning Man, moonshine, tipping etiquette, and the Singularity. Everything is themed around "the first time" (since this entire night is a pilot), and my friend also cooks dishes she's never made before, including wild venison in lettuce cups, minced buffalo with Szechuan peppers, broiled sea bass, Indian carrot salad, and roast quail.
1:15 a.m. — We finish with cannoli and a bottle of cava, feeling pretty pleased that the storytelling supper club construct worked! We already have ideas brewing for the next one.
1:35 a.m. — I'm ready to call it a night after several consecutive late nights, but one of my friends at dinner convinces me (begs, really) to be his wing woman. He has a crush on a good friend of mine, L., who couldn't make it to dinner but is up for a nightcap. I'm already seeing her for brunch tomorrow, but he's like a brother to me, and the bar is somewhat close to home, so I consider it a favor. We jump in a Lyft Line; he pays.
2 a.m. — We sit at the bar and realize that it's the fourth weekend in a row we've all hung out — mainly because not having to travel for the past five weeks means I've been available to hang out. This kind of uninterrupted stretch only happens twice a year and I have to really push for it. It took weeks of repeatedly voicing my recent work fatigue and "brownout" before my boss agreed that I could focus on remote projects for the last month.
3:19 a.m. — Two drinks later, I jump in an Uber home while my friend walks L. home; wink, wink. I ignore a text from a fuck buddy; right now I just need my own bed. $26.79
Daily Total: $54.24
11:25 a.m. — Wake from a very blurry dream with Ryan Gosling as my boyfriend to a text from L; she's running late for brunch. I try to go back to the dream but it's not happening. Also belatedly realize I've missed the morning yoga class I'd planned to go to.
12:25 p.m. — Cross the road, literally, to brunch. I order a fried chicken sandwich and coffee, and L. orders mac and cheese and a Bloody Mary and proceeds to spill on the night before. I pass on some of the more intimate details — he's my friend, after all — but hey, at least someone's making progress. N. still hasn't texted me back, and L. agrees that I shouldn't text again, even if the instinct to get passive aggressive is floating right below the surface. We chat about the ex she's meeting with to clear the air, and decide that I'll accompany her to an apartment viewing later. I get half my chicken sandwich to go and a few spoonfuls of her mac and cheese. She pays, and I immediately Venmo her. $30
1:45 p.m. — L.'s ex shows up so I make a graceful exit. I walk to the bank to withdraw cash, and then head to a nail salon, only to end up making an appointment since they're full. On my walk home, I drop into a random boutique and walk out with a Christmas present for my best friend. $25
3:15 p.m. — L. meets me in in front of my building, and we walk a few blocks to the apartment viewing. With the pending L train shutdown, she's exploring other neighborhoods; it would be great to have a girl friend so close. The viewing reminds me that I should definitely be paying less in rent...
3:45 p.m. — I want to hear how the conversation with her ex went, so we get coffee and cake at a charming café we passed on the way to the viewing. We marvel at emotionally mature men, and the ones that get away. $16
4:30 p.m. — Leg it to my mani-pedi appointment, where I switch my phone off and read Here (the magazine by Away) cover to cover. I bought myself Away luggage for my birthday last month and it was worth every penny. $55
6:30 p.m. — Much needed night in. I water my plants, pack for my work trip to Dallas, and do a round of laundry. I finish off the chicken sandwich for dinner, and add chopped kale to the mac and cheese so I'm not just eating carbs on carbs. Before bed, I faff around reading random articles online and making a new fall-winter playlist.
Daily Total: $126
8:30 a.m. — Up with, what else, a cup of spiced pumpkin tea.
8:52 a.m. — Order an Uber to the airport (expensed). It's a swift, painless security process today, which isn't usually the case at LaGuardia. Before boarding, I get a coffee and a BLT bagel ($46.57), also expensed.
10:30 a.m. — I really should work on this plane ride, but I just don't feel like it. Decide to unplug with a fluffy chick flick Home Again. The video freezes 10 minutes before the ending but I can predict what happens. (Wikipedia later verifies this.)
2:30 p.m. — Land in Dallas where it's 82 degrees! I take the shuttle to my hotel, which is paid for by the company. I'm the only one in the minivan so the driver lets me select the music, and we chat idly about hip-hop. Listening to Miguel; driving past open fields with the sun on my face — if only all trips could start this way.
3 p.m. — After checking into the hotel, I order an Asian chicken salad and coconut water and get to answering emails. ($12 expensed)
4:30 p.m. — Meet a colleague in the hotel lobby so we can take a conference call together. Sitting outside in the sun in early December feels amazing.
6 p.m. — We meet up with the rest of our team for dinner. Tomorrow, we have our biannual strategy offsite; tonight, we have a private room booked with an open bar. I make a plate of avocado mixed green salad, carrot and blue cheese salad, and baked salmon and pumpkin pie from the buffet bar, and wash it down with prosecco.
7 p.m. — The Christmas gag gift exchange commences! I give my ticket to a colleague because I really don't want more stuff at home, and the Pocket Manfriend I'm re-gifting finds a happy home.
9 p.m. — The team heads to another bar. More wine is liberally poured, and we decide to partake in trivia night. We do better than expected but don't win.
11:15 p.m. — We call it a night and head back to the hotel. Before bed, I text-flirt a little with a friend who's sending ambiguous signals, and we confirm plans for the theater when I'm back.
Daily Total: $0
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