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.
This week: an executive assistant working who makes $60,000 per year and spends it on faux silk peonies.
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Real Estate
Location: New York, NY
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,629 after taxes and deductions, including medical, dental, and 401(k)
Housing Costs: $1,300 for a one-bedroom apartment in Bay Ridge, split evenly with my fiancé, so $650 for my portion.
Loan Payments: $350-$400 for my undergraduate student loans. I always pay more than the $225 minimum.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Utilities: $50. My fiancé pays the internet, electricity, and gas bills, which fluctuate month to month, but I give him $50 at the time rent is due to cover my half.
Parking: We pay $250 (eek) for a garage spot; my share is $125.
Transportation: $57.25/week, or about $248/month, for the MTA seven-day unlimited Express Bus pass
Phone Bill: $60
Health Insurance: $30, taken out pre-tax and subsidized by my company
Dental Insurance: $10, taken out pre-tax and subsidized by my company
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Cat expenses: ~$10 for food and litter
Savings Account: $1,000 per month
401(k): 8% pretax, or $400 per month. My company matches 25%.
Credit Card Bills: $600 this month
8:30 a.m. — Roll out of bed and read on the couch until my fiancé wakes up. Eat a couple of pieces of Hershey's chocolate left over from Valentine's Day.
12:10 p.m. — Fiancé wakes up, so I make him coffee and throw together a simple breakfast (brunch?) using some garlic baguette and brie that we picked up at the store yesterday. I slice up some hard-boiled eggs we have in the fridge and serve those as well.
2 p.m. — After chatting for a bit, we pull ourselves together and go out to run some errands. We are out of olive oil, and I need to refill my bus card. We walk to the bus station, and I refill my card ($57.25, included in monthly expenses above). It's unseasonably warm, so we decide to walk the 20-some blocks to our favorite local grocery instead of taking the train. On our way to the store, we pass Duane Reade, and I remember that I am on my last drops of foundation, and my fiancé needs his face wash. We pop into Duane Reade and decide against the purchase as everything we need could be purchased cheaper on Amazon. We walk by a Dunkin' Donuts on our way to the store, and I pop in for a medium coffee. $2.50
2:30 p.m. — At the store, we pick up five liters of olive oil (an essential in our house, and it will last for a long while). My fiancé notices that they stocked the Moroccan flatbread that I like, so he grabs two pieces for me. Hummus is on sale, two for $7, so we grab two. The total is $49.99, but my fiancé pays for the groceries today, since I spent about $100 yesterday on food (an enormous wheel of brie, edam, bread, Greek yogurt, avocados, grapes, clementines, frozen pierogies, chicken dumplings, sour cream, cold crab salad, and a few baked goods).
3:15 p.m. — While walking back home, we notice that Modell's is having a sidewalk sale. I've been needing a new pair of supportive running shoes for a while; I twisted my ankle last year and can still feel the injury when I'm on the treadmill. On a whim, we decide to go in, and I take stock of the sneakers. The salesgirl recommends a pair of Nikes to me, which feel like heaven on the feet and are on sale. I decide to purchase them using a $100 gift card I received from the president of my company at Christmas and have been saving for a big purchase. The total is $89.90, so it's covered by the card. While I'm at it, I stop at the T.J. Maxx across the street and buy two six-packs of athletic socks. I use the rest of the card and end up paying the remainder. $5.97
4 p.m. — Back home, and I have to do some laundry. I refill our laundry card and throw two loads in the wash. While my fiancé chats with his family back home, I do some food prep for the week. I cook a lot during the week for myself, but I like to prepare meals for my fiancé to take with him to work or come home to, since he comes home super late, and him banging around the kitchen to cook would wake me up (also, one can only eat so much chicken over rice). This week, I put together chicken and avocado wraps with chili-lime salsa, and falafel-tomato-hummus wraps, which I stick in the freezer. $10
6:30 p.m. — We are getting hungry, so I boil and sautée some of the pierogies and chicken dumplings we purchased yesterday. I shower and we watch Netflix.
11 p.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $18.47
5 a.m. — Back to the grind. I'm up and out the door by 5:50, and on the bus at 6:10.
7 a.m. — At work, I put on a pot of coffee and help myself to a cup (okay, two).
11 a.m. — I was organized enough this morning to remember to bring my Greek yogurts for the week, so I grab a coconut cream one from my stash and consider it lunch.
12 p.m. — It's the end of the month, so I send my work log and invoice to my former boss for my freelance job; I put in 14 hours over the last month. I do freelance paralegal-type work for my former boss in my off hours. She sends me small projects a couple times a week and pays me $16/hour. I bill her monthly, but the amount I receive is highly variable based on how many projects I work on in a given month. I am using 100% of the money I earn in this role for wedding savings. She emails back and promises to pay me tomorrow.
1:30 p.m. — I remember that I need to purchase our beauty supplies so I log into Amazon and check if Ebates has any cash-back deals for Amazon. I start a shopping trip in Ebates and add my foundation ($5.99) and my toner ($13.30) to my Amazon cart. I browse for my fiancé's Neutrogena face wash and notice that it would cost $9.69 for one bottle or $19.17 for three. It's a better deal to get multiple, so I add the three to my cart ($19.17). On a semi-whim, I add a bouquet of pink silk (faux) peonies that I'd been eyeing to the cart as well ($13.99). I love having plants and fresh flowers around the apartment, but since we get so little natural light in our place, all our real plants have died. I feel a little guilty after the purchase, but my foundation and toner will last me at least two months. $52.45
2:30 p.m. — The afternoon slump sets in, so I bother my coworker for a cup of her ultra-caffeinated green tea, which our other coworker brings to us from China. I strain the tea while chatting with my coworkers.
4:15 p.m. — On the bus to go home. The tea did nothing for me, and I nearly fall asleep while listening to my podcasts.
5:15 p.m. — I'm home, but can't muster enough energy to go to the gym, even though I'm excited to try out my new sneakers. I munch on a few leftover pierogies while preparing a falafel wrap, since the green tea upset my stomach.
5:30 p.m. — After I eat, I turn on Netflix and put on a sheet mask. I'm really into Korean skincare and try to do a mask at least twice a week. They do wonders for my skin.
9 p.m. — Trying to wind down and am tired from not sleeping enough last night. I read in bed for an hour and pass out a little after 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $52.45
5 a.m. — Why is Tuesday harder than Monday? Snooze until 5:10 and feel very indulgent.
7 a.m. — My usual cup of drip coffee at my desk.
7:30 a.m. — It's the last day of the month, which means payday! Any excitement I have dissipates as I transfer $950 to my fiancé's account (my portion of the rent, plus my portion of the utilities, plus parking; I am paying the full $250 for parking this month since things are a bit tight for my fiancé. He's self-employed, so he just paid his yearly taxes and also just returned from a trip back to his home country to see his parents and sick brother.) I transfer $150 to savings. Being an adult is boring.
7:30 a.m. — I don't usually carry a credit card balance, but we recently purchased plane tickets to go visit my fiancé's home country in August, and I bought one for my mom too. She was a single mom for most of her young life, and never had the chance to travel or do anything for herself, so I try to spoil her when I can. Because of the credit card payment, I'm putting less into savings this month in an attempt to pay down the balance ASAP. I also put the purchase of my fiancé's ticket on my credit card to take advantage of cash-back reward points, but he will pay me back for his ticket and part of my mom's.
1:15 p.m. — I grab a cheese stick from the office kitchen. I don't usually eat much during the work day, and I have dinner at home when I'm back from work and the gym. This is an unhealthy habit, which I'm trying to break, since I know it's not good to calorie-load at the end of the day. My coworker returns from her break and tells me it's beautiful outside, so I step out for my lunch break and take a stroll in Central Park.
2 p.m. — Back in the office and feeling bleh. My coworker in the cube next to me made a chai latte with the Keurig so I take some inspiration from her and make a dirty chai using our office espresso machine, the Keurig, and some half and half.
3:40 p.m. — Skip out 20 minutes early today since I have a dentist appointment. Luckily, the dentist is right down the street from me, so I don't have to go far.
4 p.m. — No copay at the dentist for my semi-annual cleaning. I am so thankful for health insurance.
4:40 p.m. — My teeth are sparkly and clean and I hop on the bus to go home
6:30 p.m. — I finally get off the bus (traffic was dreadful) and am too annoyed/discouraged by how long it took me to get home to muster any energy for the gym. My cat is meowing and guilt-tripping me when I walk through the door, which seals the deal. I jazz up an instant noodle with some frozen veggies, chicken sausage, and an egg.
7:30 p.m. — Shower and Netflix.
9:15 p.m. — My fiancé calls and we chat on the phone for a few minutes. I'm tired and decide it's time for bed. I pull together my outfit for tomorrow, and throw an umbrella in my bag since it's supposed to rain. I'm asleep by 9:45 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
5:17 a.m. — I accidentally pressed the "stop" button instead of "snooze" on my alarm! I rush to get out of the house on time. I have to be at work early today since most of our executives are in town, so I need to take an earlier bus.
6:40 a.m. — Made it on time. At work, I brew a pot of coffee and prepare myself for an insane day.
10:25 a.m. — Boss wants blueberry muffins, so I am on the hunt, in the rain. Grab a half dozen at a local deli; I pay $13.50 using petty cash from the office.
11:45 a.m. — Starving and realize I haven't eaten yet today, so I sneak half of a muffin from the kitchen. It turns out NOT to be blueberry, but instead chocolate chip. No complaints there.
12:35 p.m. — My office manager is ordering us salads for lunch since we're all swamped and can't leave today (this is unusual and happens only once every few months or so; as junior staff, our meals usually can't be expensed). I order an Asian chicken salad ($18.75, expensed) and eat at my desk. Hopefully this will give me energy to go to the gym later.
5:30 p.m. — Home by a reasonable hour today, so I change and head to the gym. It feels good to sweat! Sneakers feel good, but I definitely need more arch support. Decide I need to look online for supportive inserts.
6:45 p.m. — Shower and heat up one of the chicken wraps I made on Sunday. While it's in the oven, I call and chat with my parents.
9 p.m. — I'm just getting into bed when my fiancé calls me, and we talk on the phone for half an hour while he's on break. I wanted to go to sleep early, since I know tomorrow is going to be another crazy day, but it feels nice to chat with him. We don't see each other at all during the week because our schedules are pretty much opposite.
9:45 p.m. — Sleep!
Daily Total: $0
5 a.m. — You know the drill.
6:45 a.m. — Coffee and one of my Greek yogurts at my desk while I catch up on emails and take a look at today's calendar.
7:30 a.m. — Still nursing my coffee and I can't focus, so I browse Sephora online and read reviews of a YSL perfume I'm lusting after. My birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and this will be my birthday gift to myself. I hold off purchasing for now though, since I'm still working my way through the sample I got and I want to make sure it really works for me before I drop $90 on it.
10:30 a.m. — I need to get up and walk around so I don't fall asleep, so I brew a cup of strawberry-kiwi tea I have in my desk drawer.
1:25 p.m. — I run to the Duane Reade down the street from my office since I'm out of conditioner (why does everything run out at once?!). I pick up a hydrating hair mask while I'm there; I get a discount on my purchase because of my rewards card. $18.31
1:40 p.m. — I stop by the deli next to Duane Reade and grab a vegan bento box for lunch. I'm not vegan ('cause, hello, cheese), but the bento box is delish anyway. $5.99
4:15 p.m. — I'm free!
5:45 p.m. — At home. I change and go to the gym.
7:30 p.m. — Back from the gym, I do some light cleaning of the apartment, then shower and do a face mask while scrolling through social media. I'm not really hungry, since I had lunch earlier, so I nosh on some brie and pistachios while watching Bones on Netflix. So gross, yet so fascinating.
10 p.m. — Bed.
Daily Total: $24.30
5 a.m. — TGIF.
6:50 a.m. — Coffee and Greek yogurt at my desk, as usual. It's quiet, so after taking care of a few small tasks I read the news and a few articles on "The Financial Diet."
12:40 p.m. — The office is buzzing, but I take a break to sit down and munch on some brie I brought from home and some pretzels from the office kitchen. I obviously have a thing for cheese.
1:45 p.m. — I check my credit card statement and see that my gym charged for my monthly membership. I schedule a payment for $72 (included in monthly expenses).
4 p.m. — On the bus to go home, yay!
5:15 p.m. — My fiancé calls and asks me to pick up some milk and bread for him on my way home. It is FREEZING and so windy I feel like I might fall over. $8.37
5:45 p.m. — Home and settled in for the night. I make a bowl of pasta and we chat and catch up on our weeks.
7:30 p.m. — I check my bank statement to see if my boss has paid me for my freelance work yet. She hasn't, so I email her a reminder. I've worked with her for four years, so I know she can be forgetful. She emails me back immediately and apologizes. A few minutes later, I get a notification that she direct-deposited $224 into my account. I make a mental note to go to the ATM tomorrow so I can put the money in my wedding stash.
11 p.m. — I'm exhausted from this week; bed it is.
Daily Total: $8.37
8 a.m. — Wake up to a beautiful sunny morning and read on the couch. I need a new book to read, so I browse the free selections in Amazon Prime, but nothing really appeals to me. I remember that I've been wanting to check out Big Little Lies since my sister recommended it to me a few months ago. I find a free sample on Barnes and Noble, so I download it.
9 a.m. — Done with the sample and decide I NEED to read the whole book! Download the Nook version for $9.99 and continue reading. Mentally kick myself that I forgot to open an Ebates session before purchasing. $9.99
11:30 a.m. — My fiancé wakes up and I make us breakfast: coffee, eggs, and toast. We listen to music and laze around.
2:30 p.m. — I'm going out to meet my friend later, and my hair feels nasty, so I hop in the shower. I use the Greek yogurt hair mask that I bought earlier this week, and my hair feels super soft afterward.
4 p.m. — I put on my makeup and try to decide what to wear. I'm meeting up with my friend/coworker for dinner, and then we're going to see a live performance of a podcast we're both really into. We purchased the tickets, which were $40 each, a few months ago. I get dressed and spritz on the perfume I'm sampling. It's wonderful.
4:55 p.m. — My fiancé tells me I smell great! He is a bit bummed that I am going out and he doesn't have plans, so as a consolation I offer to order him dinner off Seamless. He says he'll think about it, but he feels guilty about me spending money on him. I think he deserves it; he works so hard and doesn't really do anything fun for himself, ever. I kiss him goodbye and am out the door.
5:20 p.m. — I'm outside in the freezing wind, and the bus is 10 minutes late! We have a 6:15 reservation, and I'm worried I won't make it to the Upper West Side in time.
5:25 p.m. — Finally, the bus shows up, and I hop on. I text my friend to let her know I'm on my way but stuck in traffic. At the exact same moment, she texts me and says her Uber is stuck in traffic as well. Ha!
5:45 p.m. — Transfer to the red-line train, which of course is running local today due to construction. My friend texts and says she called the restaurant, and they're holding our table for us.
6:27 p.m. — I finally reach my stop and bound out of the station. I make it to the restaurant in time to keep our table, and my friend walks in a minute after me.
6:40 p.m. — It's a sampling restaurant, so we order three plates to share: eggplant, gnocchi, and a caprese salad. Delicious. She orders two glasses of wine over the course of the meal, but I don't drink often, so I abstain. Red wine would make me sleepy, anyway.
7:30 p.m. — The show starts at 8, so we decide we better get going. The check is $77, and we leave a $16 tip. My friend pays with her card since she drank all the wine, and I Venmo her for my portion of the food. $30.50
7:45 p.m. — The line at the theater is insane! There's no way the show is starting at 8 on the dot. Luckily, I printed out our tickets, and we're able to enter through the back door of the theater. We have really great seats and the theater is gorgeous inside.
8:30 p.m. — The show begins. It's really hilarious. I'm glad we came.
9:45 p.m. — We rush out of the theater. So. Cold. My friend looks really sleepy, so she tells me she's going to take a cab home. I walk to the train and text my fiancé to let him know I'm on my way.
10 p.m. — On the train, I check my bank statement and see that my fiancé ordered himself dinner. Good. $13.01
11:35 p.m. — Of course, it took me forever to get home. I change into my sweatpants and cuddle with my fiancé and kitty on the couch. We turn on Netflix and watch London Has Fallen. It's entertaining, but predictable, and I fall asleep in the last 20 minutes.
1:30 a.m. — Bed!
Daily Total: $53.50
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