Welcome to Money Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a development associate who makes $46,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a bleach pen and a cross stitching class.
Occupation: Development Associate Industry: Nonprofit Age: 24 Location: Brooklyn, NY Salary: $46,000 Paycheck (2x/month): $1,240
Monthly Expenses Housing: $1,250. I live with three people, including a couple and another guy. We have an awesome set up in which my room and bathroom are on their own level. Loan Payments: $80. I paid a chunk of my student loans while living at home after college, and commuted to school to save on housing.
All Other Monthly Expenses Phone: $35. I have a really cheap plan and phone that suck and probably aren't worth the savings based on the headaches I get as a result. Medical: $0. My job covers medical insurance, which I'm super grateful for as a nonprofit employee. I opted out of vision and dental insurance as they would have been a bit more. I had an eye exam recently and go to a dentist that charges less for cleanings than the insurance would have cost. Netflix: $10. My mom and brother use my account. Spotify: $10. I got suckered in after the student deal, and it used to be a huge help on my subway commute. Savings: $200 ($100 from each paycheck). I have a Roth IRA that I occasionally transfer money into, but in general, I have a big sum of savings that I use for trips, emergencies, and when I go over my monthly budget, etc.
8:30 a.m. — Wake up and get ready for work. I pack cold brew that I made last night, plus a banana, avocado, and some crackers and cheese. I drink tea and eat a little bit of the peach cobbler I made last night. I have a sweet tooth in the morning when I keep treats around the house!
9:30 a.m. — Head to work on my bike. It's drizzling, but the ride is fine. Having a 10-minute bike commute is the best part of my job! I moved closer to my office a few months ago, and it's been amazing. 11 a.m. — Spend a while talking to my coworker. It's Friday, and both of us are having a super slow day. We're both currently applying for new jobs and whine about the nonprofit struggle. 12:30 p.m. — Lunch! I have a salad I made earlier this week with black beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and a lime dressing. I've been adding avocado but today's is really sad and not ripe enough. I also have a handful of tortilla chips (mostly crumbs). It was delicious earlier this week, but I'm happy to be finished with my fourth day of this lunch. Yikes. Later on, I snack on the banana I brought from home. 3 p.m. — I try to go out for a walk, but it's raining again. I eat my crackers and cheese at my desk. 5 p.m. — Finally done! I usually stay until about 5:45, but I worked longer hours yesterday because of an early meeting. Earlier this week, I asked a girl from work if she wanted to get drinks today, so we head to a bar that another coworker recommended; it's fancy and so beautiful! We both agree we normally wouldn't come here, but they have a great happy hour. We settle in at the bar. 7:45 p.m. — Welp! Four drinks and a ton of gossip later, we head out. I spend $29 including tip for great cocktails. I had so much fun, and I'm proud of myself for asking her to hang out. I can be shy and I have a hard time making new friends, so I'm relieved we had such a good time! I order Thai food to pick up on my way home. My bike ride is a straight shot down one street, but biking was a bad idea after my drinks. I vow to walk next time. Pick up my Thai food with a $2 coupon ($18). $47 8:30 p.m. — Home eating and couldn't be happier. I got green curry with chicken and AMAZING curry puffs. I eat half and save the rest for tomorrow. I talk to my mom for a bit on the phone. When the drinks hit me, I'm still hungry and drunkenly eat a tiny bit of pasta leftover from yesterday and a piece of chocolate. 10:30 p.m. — I try to watch the end of Moana, which I started with my boyfriend (A.) last week. We never agree on movies but we both love this one; we just fell asleep after a long beach day. He confessed that he watched the rest without me (?!) s0 I try to watch the last hour but end up falling asleep for the night. Daily Total: $47
9:45 a.m. — I'm happy to have a day to sleep in since I've gotten up earlier than normal for work the last few weekends. A. went to a concert last night and hung out at a friend's after. He didn't get home until 4 a.m., so I know he'll be sleeping in. I enjoy my lazy morning in bed. My period starts, and I'm glad about it because that means I can start my new birth control prescription. I'm trying a new one after having issues with my previous pills. I took a month or two off the pill and felt good but I'm too anxious to rely on condoms, and the pill is the best option for me. All of this has been a huge headache over the past year, and I really hope this one works.
11 a.m. — Head downstairs and make a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey, plus cold brew. I work on updating my budget tracking, which I update with daily spending. I ordered clothes this week because a lot of my shorts are a bit too small. I went a little overboard, and I'm happy that three of the four pairs don't work so I can return them. For some reason, I have a huge urge to do some online shopping — but I stop myself from ordering anything else. 12:30 p.m. — I finally hear from A. We plan to meet at Prospect Park at 3 p.m.. I eat my Thai leftovers, shower, get ready, and hang out for a bit. I pack crackers and cheese for the park. 2:45 p.m. — Bike over and meet A. I buy a few peaches and fresh bread for $4 at the farmers' market. We see the community art exhibit in the park that's closing this weekend and then find a spot in the park. At some point, we get into a big disagreement about our plans this weekend, but we eventually work it out. I'm still a little grumpy but it's beautiful out, so I try to get over it. We play Frisbee (I suck) and then set up a blanket, catch up, and drink beer that A. brought. (They're leftovers from another outdoor thing we went to last week.) We relax and head out sometime around 7. $4 7:30 p.m. — We leave our bikes and park things at my apartment and walk to a bar in my neighborhood that is supposed to have great wings. We planned on cooking, but it's late and we're hungry! We do pick up milk and yogurt for breakfast tomorrow, and I pay ($4). At the bar, A. gets wings, I order a burger, and we split a pitcher of cheap beer that we don't end up finishing. We hang for a while in the backyard and eventually split the bill; my share is $21. We walk for a while in my neighborhood to make a note of all the other places we want to check out soon. $25 10 p.m. — Get home and start watching Boardwalk Empire. (I mooch off his parents' HBO account.) A. has already seen it and begs me to start because he thinks I'll like it. I end up liking it and even manage not to fall asleep! We also watch an episode of Broad City before going to bed around 12 a.m. Daily Total: $29
9:45 a.m. — Wake up and lounge in bed. After a while, we decide to watch the next episode of
Boardwalk Empire and later get out of bed around 11:30. I hate starting my day so late, but it's nice to relax. We eat breakfast. A. has yogurt, and I have some of the bread from the farmer's market with jam and cheese, a peach, and tea. While we eat, we play Connect 4, which my roommates left in the living room at some point. I am terrible but finally win the third round. 1 p.m. — Walk to a coffee shop a few blocks away from where A. buys us iced lattes. We always split or take turns buying things while we're out. While he works on a website he's developing as a side project, I research rental cars for our trip to Iceland next month. I've already done a fair amount of research, but now I'm even more overwhelmed. It's going to be a huge expense, and I'm worried about horror stories I've heard in which people were charged massive fees after returning! I eventually give up and we don't end up booking anything. 3 p.m. — Drop our things off at my apartment and get our bikes. We ride to DeKalb Market because A. hasn't checked it out yet. He pays for pierogis, and I get an arepa with carne asada and avocado ($12.) Both are amazing and we're stuffed — however, we soldier on! I buy a mango juice and he buys popcorn. We share both and sit outside for a while before A. heads home. $12 4:15 p.m. — I run errands around Fulton Mall. I want to buy more underwear, but I can't find anything that's good quality and cheap. I also need a couple of things for the apartment. I am clumsy and broke a couple of my roommates' bowls and jars over the past week. They swear it's fine, but I want to replace them. I don't find anything I need, but I do buy an adorable pair of pajamas ($20) and nail scissors ($4). $24 6:30 p.m. — I resist the temptation of Target but go to Trader Joe's to buy groceries for this week. I get chicken thighs, whole carrots, strawberries, brown rice, a bag of broccoli and kale slaw, shredded carrots to add to the salad cause I'm lazy, and chocolate peanut butter cups. $21 9 p.m. — After relaxing for a bit and watching another episode of Boardwalk Empire (I wish I hadn't started because I don't need a Netflix binge show right now), I drag myself to the kitchen. We've been having pest problems in the kitchen lately, and I dread spending time cooking. I constantly worry about seeing a mouse, and I briefly wonder if I can use this as an excuse to eat take out forever. Instead, I cook the chicken thighs and make a sauce with honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic. I'd rather save the chicken for lunches, and I'm not super hungry, so I snack on crackers and cheese, a peanut butter cup, and an ice pop. I cut up carrots for snacks at work and make more cold brew and dressing for the salad mix. 10:30 p.m. — Around 10:30, I admit that eating snacks for dinner is always a failure and make popcorn. Putting plain kernels in a brown bag in the microwave with butter and seasoning is my favorite, easiest cheap snack. A friend texts me to ask if I want to go to a concert in September. He pays for the tickets (only $15), and I'll pay him back next time I see him. I always go to bed super late on Sundays thanks to the Sunday scaries. I get sucked into Googling tons of nerdy neighborhood history stuff and finally go to sleep around 1. Daily Total: $57
8:30 a.m. — Wake up, fix the cold brew, and pack my lunch. I usually bring most of my food for the week on Mondays. I pack the salad mix and shredded carrots, chicken, microwavable brown rice (super lazy but easy to do at work), carrots, a big container of yogurt, strawberries, dressing, and one serving of cold brew. Last week, some of the food I put in the fridge at work was eaten. I cross my fingers against it happening again.
11 a.m. — After catching up on work and sorting out insurance issue with my birth control, I have a breakfast of strawberries and Greek yogurt with honey. The air conditioner in our office isn't working and our windows don't open, so I feel awful. 12 p.m. — I spend a while worrying about my finances. I have a strict monthly budget, and the rest of this month will be tight because I went out of town the first two weekends of the month. I have a good cushion of savings that always covers me, but it's a bad habit to be spending more than my budget allows! I look at my plans for the rest of the month and I should be fine. I pay the electricity bill ($78) and add it to Splitwise, an app my roommates and I use to track utilities. My roommate pays gas and internet, and after we're all even I owe him 97 cents. I decide to wait until the next round of bills to pay him. I budget about $50 for my monthly utilities, and my roommates will reimburse me soon. 1:30 p.m. — I eat lunch while working at my desk and then go out for a walk. I stop at CVS and buy a bag of Goldfish crackers to keep at my desk this week. I look at a bronzer because mine broke, and this week I can get $10 in CVS rewards if I buy it ... but I still don't want to pay the $17 upfront. I go to the library near work to enjoy their AC and pick up two books. $2 5:45 p.m. — Head home. Work has been ridiculously slow for me this month, especially since June was my busiest month yet. When I get home, I see that I got a $25 gift card to Sephora in the mail. I closed a credit card and cashed in the points for this a couple of weeks ago. Around 7, I make my favorite cheap comfort meal: one-pan pasta cooked in a creamy garlic sauce. I pretend it doesn't have zero nutritional value and enjoy it. 8:15 p.m. — I go for a walk in my neighborhood. Need to get those 10,000 steps! I walk for about 45 minutes. 9 p.m. — Clean my room because a friend who lives in Boston is visiting my apartment for the first time tomorrow. After tidying, I shower and watch another episode of Boardwalk Empire. I fall asleep around 12:30. Daily Total: $2
8:45 a.m. — Wake up feeling pretty good despite the heat. I make a cup of tea and have a peach for breakfast.
9:45 a.m. — Head to work after a serious struggle over what to wear in case the AC still isn't working. I get to work and they tell us it won't be working for a long time — like, weeks. I feel like a drama queen, but I might cry. I already feel terrible from my period and this doesn't help! 2 p.m. — SO cranky and hot at work. I eat the same thing I had for lunch yesterday: a chicken thigh, rice, and salad. Around 2:30, I go outside to get some fresh air. An e-book I've been waiting for from the library is finally available, so I read for a bit outside. 5:45 p.m. — Ride home on my bike. I drink a beer from the fridge while I wait for my friend to arrive. 7 p.m. — We put our name down at a popular restaurant in my neighborhood. I didn't think there would be a wait on a Tuesday. We walk around the neighborhood and catch up while we wait for about 45 minutes. The restaurant is well worth the wait, and we go all out with an antipasto platter, a carafe of red wine, and a pasta dish for each of us. Mine has sausage and a brown butter sauce. The bill comes to $49 each after tip, which isn't bad for how much we ate. I take home leftover pasta. $49 10 p.m. — I walk my friend to the subway. After, I catch up with A. on the phone and make plans for meeting after work tomorrow. I fall asleep at midnight, still full from food and wine. Daily Total: $49
8:30 a.m. — To be honest, I'm miserable about work this week. Between the broken air conditioner in the office, and the fact that I'm still dealing with mice in my apartment (the landlord has finally agreed to send an exterminator), I'm a mess this morning. I walk to work around 9:45 with a peach and cold brew. I don't take my bike today because I'm going to a Mets game after work. I used to be fine with leaving my bike in the office overnight, but last week there was a break-in and someone's bike was stolen. I love my bike too much to take that chance, so I do the 30-minute walk.
10:30 a.m. — I eat my yogurt and strawberries before a meeting. After the meeting, I see that my coworker brought leftover bagels from an event she hosted! Free food in my office is super rare. I have half a bagel with scallion cream cheese. 2 p.m. — It's been a long, slow, hot day. At some point, I book a class at a craft shop nearby that I've wanted to try forever! It's a three-hour cross stitching class and includes all the materials. It's $45, but I use a $10 coupon. $35 2:30 p.m. — My coworker and I planned on going to lunch today, but my meetings dragged on forever. Neither of us is hungry because of the heat, so we decide on ice cream for lunch. It's $4 with a discount we get through work. We hang out outside and catch up, talking about our respective searches for new jobs. $4 5:30 p.m. — Leave a little early for the Mets game! My dad's client gives him tickets every year and he invited my boyfriend and me. I take the train (I put about $40/month on a Metro Card) into Manhattan and meet A. at Times Square where we both hop on the 7 train. You know it's been a rough day when the subway air conditioning feels like a treat... 6:45 p.m. — We grab free chips outside the stadium and snack while we wait in line. We meet my dad at one of the bar areas and he buys a round of beers for all of us. We chat for a while and then split up to buy food. A. gets us delicious fries and chicken poppers and I buy us two more beers. $25 9:45 p.m. — Mets win! We thank my dad for the tickets and take the train to A.'s apartment. We shower, watch a little bit of Netflix and go to bed around midnight. Daily Total: $64
8:15 a.m. — I'm up and ready earlier than usual. A. and I walk about 15 minutes to a coffee shop he's been wanting to show me. It deserves the hype I've been hearing. I try to avoid splurging at coffee shops, but I pay $7.75 for a pastry and iced latte.
$7.75 9 a.m. — A. gets on the subway, and I decide to walk the whole way to work — about 45 minutes. Taking the subway would only save me about five minutes because my office is in such an inconvenient spot. I stop into Target and grab a bleach pen. I spilled coffee all over my new, white Superga sneakers last week. I also pick up a three-pack of gum. Nothing like the suburban convenience of a Target! $7 12:30 p.m. — Heat up rice and chicken from earlier this week. Day Four of this lunch sucks, and I end up eating mostly rice. I've been feeling super nauseous from the heat (and possibly my new birth control), so I don't have much of an appetite. 1:30 p.m. — Walk to the farmers' market near work where my favorite guy gives me a "deal" on the fruit I pick out — $5.75 for two peaches and a big carton of blueberries. I'm normally a lot more frugal with groceries and will just buy whatever is on sale, but I've been eyeing the blueberries every time I come to the market. I also browse in Sephora for something on which to spend my gift card. I ask for a sample of a perfume I like, and I'm glad I don't buy it cause a few hours later it just smells like play dough. $5.75 4 p.m. — Check my email and see that I got free tickets to see Fleet Foxes in a couple of weeks! I get them through a nonprofit I'm a paid member of; I receive tickets about once a month for all sorts of fun concerts. 5:45 p.m. — I'm still feeling pretty gross and opt to take an Uber home. I don't have my bike and don't want to walk in the heat. I also need to carry a big bag with my work laptop and a few other miscellaneous things I've meant to bring home. I got permission to work from home tomorrow morning so that I can talk to the exterminator when he comes over. I always request an Uber Pool if I'm taking it between home and work; it's such a short ride that they rarely pick up anyone else! $8 7 p.m. — Feeling a little better after relaxing at home in the air conditioning. I decide to take a walk to get a slice of pizza at a place I've wanted to try. I ask for a pepperoni slice and two garlic knots. I walk home to eat. The food ends up being super disappointing. I'm much better off walking to my favorite place that's a bit further. $3.50 11 p.m. — I have a nice, relaxing night watching Boardwalk Empire. I'm excited about working from home tomorrow and to hopefully resolve our mouse problem! I go to bed late since I can get up early. Daily Total: $32
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