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: an attorney who makes $210,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a Rag & Bone blazer.
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Paycheck (Once Per Month): $10,800, since I have now maxed out my FICA taxes
Housing: $2,100 for mortgage and taxes. My boyfriend moved in recently, but I pay all my housing costs.
Student Loan: $1,550
Credit Card Consolidation Loan: $1,200
Home Improvement Loan: $1,050
All Other Monthly Expenses
Daily Dog Walker: $350
Family: $75 - $150 to each of my nephews' college funds
Gas Payment: $150
Electric Payment: $50
Cell Phone: $80 — but work reimburses me $45
Planned Parenthood Donation: $50
Gym Membership: $50
ASPCA Donation: $17
Starz: $9. We use my boyfriend's Netflix and HBO accounts.
Public Transportation: $70/month on average. My subway card auto-refills when it gets low, but it's $1.80 per ride. I have it set to refill in $10 increments.
401(k) Contribution: $750 pre-tax
Primary Savings: $500. I also move to savings anything left in my checking account at the end of the month.
Acorns Investment App: $250
Vanguard Individual Investment Account: $250
6:45 a.m. — I hit the snooze button and mentally berate myself for not tackling a project over the weekend; doing so would have allowed me to sleep an extra 45 minutes. It's especially hard to get out of bed when my boyfriend and the dogs are still fast asleep. He works for himself and has a very flexible schedule, which means he rarely has to wake up early. I'm jealous. We ran out of coffee pods over the weekend, so I leave the house without caffeine. I resist the urge to Lyft to work and take the subway and walk instead.
7:45 a.m. — I hit the coffee shop by my office for a large iced coffee. It is the first morning in months that I feel tempted to go for a hot beverage, but I'm not there quite yet. $4
8:30 a.m. — After jumping into the neglected project, I run upstairs for breakfast. Our cafeteria is subsidized, so the prices are amazing. I get my typical scramble with veggies and cheese, along with a side of berries, for under $3. I also realize that I forgot to bring the lunch I packed and get annoyed at myself. $2.75
12 p.m. — Outlook reminds me that I have a lunch presentation to attend, meaning lunch will be provided. I eat a lackluster, but free, catered lunch of a tuna salad sandwich (that I thought was chicken), pasta salad, a veggie salad, and a cookie. I am much more excited about the new pro-bono project centered on juvenile justice that we're starting, than the lunch.
4 p.m. — Coffee pods have arrived! I seize on this interruption to take a break and do my weekly review of my finances. I look to make sure that my myriad transfers from Friday's paycheck have made it to the right places (multiple savings accounts, my credit card, to my local bank for cash withdrawals). I pay another $300 on my credit card to cover a few Amazon purchases from last week of dog food, coffee pods, and a bamboo bathmat, as well as an Everlane purchase — a crossbody purse I bought for an upcoming trip to Italy. $300
5 p.m. — It is very quiet today, and there's nothing I can't work on from home at this point, so I leave and again resist the temptation to Lyft.
8 p.m. — We have multiple types of leftovers in the fridge that need to be eaten, so dinner is a mishmash of Chinese, Mediterranean, and nouveau American (a.k.a. a random concoction of barley and roast veggies). We both hate wasting food, so these dinners happen on occasion to ensure that we throw out as little as possible. The dogs lie in wait under the table for scraps, despite the fact that they definitely got dinner. Their patience is rewarded when I give in and give them bits of pork and carrot. I am a complete sucker. The night sees us throwing in the towel on a puzzle that has been lingering on the coffee table for weeks, and "celebrating" our defeat with bourbon from our bar cart.
Daily Total: $306.75
8 a.m. — I have hit snooze approximately 15 times. It's a wonder my boyfriend still sleeps in the same room as me. He must love me. I drag myself out of bed, shower, and then make myself a few pods of coffee that I sip while puttering around, watering our backyard plants, and feeding the pups.
9 a.m. — I sip more coffee while waiting around to go over projects with a contractor and my boyfriend. I bought a house that needs a lot of help, and I seriously underestimated the amount of time and money this would involve. It's been over a year and there is still a lot to do. Unlike what HGTV or any other home remodeling show would have you believe, there are not beautiful, original, hardwood floors underneath every old carpet. In fact, if I could just uncover one thing that hasn't been jerry-rigged in a perplexing, completely unsafe way that requires fixing from the ground up, I would be thrilled. I have already put about $40,000 into the house, including some very sexy electrical and plumbing repairs. Some of that was from a home improvement loan that I am still paying back. I took it out because I had no idea what things cost, and because parts of my house seem to have been built with toothpicks and chewing gum.
10:30 a.m. — The estimate for the next fix is $2,800. This feels like a rip-off, but this is also the only contractor we have been able to get to the house in months. Philly is going through a major building boom, according to my former contractor, who is now too busy to come back and do more work. My boyfriend is paying for the next phase of renovations because I haven't let him pay rent since he moved in a few months back. He is already very generous and never lets me pay when we go out, or travel. Plus, I am stubborn and proud of the fact that I can pay all my bills on my own (including the ton of money I pay each month to correct some very dumb money mistakes). The compromise is that he will pay for renovations because he wants to contribute, and he wants us to be able to use the rooms that still need to be finished.
11 a.m. — I didn't eat anything at home, so after I get off the subway, I grab an iced coffee and bagel with peanut butter from the coffee shop by my work ($7, including tip). The coffee tastes like coffee-flavored water and the bagel is weirdly fluffy, but peanut butter renders most things edible and I eat half. $7
1:30 p.m. — I eat the last dregs of the leftover Chinese and Mediterranean food and browse Sephora online. I need more of my sunscreen, but am also in the market for a new body wash. I decide to hold off and hit the actual store on my way home because I need to smell test any body wash. I then check in on my Outnet wish list and see if any of the items I want have been further discounted. I used to have a major impulse-shopping issue. Apparently, depression and being in an unhappy marriage triggered my need to self-soothe via material things. This was a terrible "solution," especially since, until recently, I made a third of my current salary. Therapy, a divorce, a new job, and a healthier relationship have all contributed to my ability to really make a dent on my debt, stop the impulse shopping, and feel good about myself. I still love beautiful things, but I now budget and save for them, instead of throwing them on my credit card.
6 p.m. — It has been raining all day, so I don't feel like going out of my way to walk to Sephora. I mentally applaud myself for choosing the subway over the convenience of a cab.
8:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I spend a few hours cleaning up and hanging art, so neither of us feels like trying to cook dinner. We walk to the all-too-convenient pub around the corner instead. I get my go-to meal of a Caesar salad and side of meatballs, and also drink two glasses of wine. My boyfriend pays.
Daily Total: $7
7 a.m. — I have coffee at home while I get ready for work.
8:30 a.m. — I still need another hit of coffee, so I grab a large cold brew at the coffee shop by my work. I wish it was better, but it's also very convenient ($4, including tip). Once at work, I run upstairs to get a veggie and cheese scramble, with a side of berries ($2.75). $6.75
10:30 a.m. — I get an email notification that sale items at Rag & Bone are now an additional 30% off because of Labor Day promotions. I have had my eye on a blazer and jeans that have been in the sale section for over two months. The blazer was originally $495 and the jeans $250, but my patience has paid off and I get both. $262
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is leftover salad and meatballs, both of which are still delicious. While I eat, I book a Megabus reservation to NYC for tomorrow. I am attending a celebration for a dear friend of mine who had a very rough spring and summer, but who has made it through and deserves a ton of love and support; there is no way I wouldn't show up. I would have spent at least $150 on Amtrak, and I just can't stomach that, so Megabus it is. $24.50
4:30 p.m. — I brought an apple and peanut butter to work and munch on that while I enter my time for the past week. Entering time might be the worst part about being an attorney.
6 p.m. — I meet up with one of my best friends for dinner. It has been far too long since we caught up and we spend three hours drinking wine, and having our favorite snacks and salads at our go-to wine bar. I treat because her birthday was a couple of days before. $120
9:30 p.m. — I walk to the subway after dinner, texting my boyfriend my location updates along the way.
Daily Total: $413.25
7 a.m. — I wake up excited about my short day at work before I catch my bus to NYC — and also mildly regretting my last glass of wine at dinner. I make a coffee at home and drink a bunch of water while getting ready. Thankfully, it has been very quiet this week, so leaving early is feasible.
8:30 a.m. — I detour to my old favorite coffee shop, La Colombe, and grab an iced coffee and a ham and cheese croissant. $7
12 p.m. — I venture out to grab a card for the friend I'll be seeing tonight. I can't choose between two, so I get them both and will make a game-time decision. $12.86
12:30 p.m. — While I'm out, I remember that I still haven't bought sunscreen, so I swing into Sephora and put the blinders on to avoid making any impulse purchases. I do have a lot of points, though, so I use some of those on a mini-Origins charcoal mask because my skin is acting up. I blame the wine. $35.64
1 p.m. — I eat a cafeteria lunch of chicken curry soup and salad. Both are marginal, but fill me up all the same. $8.10
2:45 p.m. — I hail a cab and zoom over to the Megabus station and I am off to NYC! I regret that I didn't bring water or a snack as we immediately hit traffic. $10
6 p.m. — I arrive just on time to my friend's shindig at a lovely cocktail bar I haven't been to before. Lots of familiar faces, but also quite a few new ones. She is very well loved. I have an abundance of wine, and also champagne that is passed around for a toast. I only manage to snack on approximately three bites of chicken skewers and one mini-cupcake — a decision I will come to regret later. In true tipsy form, I Venmo way too much for my share of drinks to my other friend who organized the party. $100
11 p.m. — Also true to form, I miss my bus and am persuaded to stay the night at my friend's apartment. In a wine-fueled daze, I call my boyfriend who assures me that he and the dogs will be fine, and then somehow manage to book an early train and set an alarm. $56
Daily Total: $229.60
6:45 a.m. — I should have eaten more yesterday. And drank more water. I am grateful for my friend's extra toothbrush, and I splash my face with water and get out the door after giving her a huge hug and promising that my boyfriend and I will come do a full NYC weekend soon. I Lyft my way to Penn Station. $16.29
7:30 a.m. — I desperately need caffeine and to eat something, so I grab an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich at the station. Then I search for Advil and water. The card reader is down at the store and I only have enough cash for either water or Advil, and not enough time to go to another shop. I go for the Advil and wash it down with coffee. $11.59
9:30 a.m. — I arrive back home in Philadelphia and take a taxi to my house. I have definitely hit my taxi/Lyft quota for the week/month. $13.89
11 a.m. — I desperately hoped I could work from home today. First, because of how I am feeling; second, because my boyfriend found a contractor who is willing to come by for another quote. Unfortunately, there are some issues popping up at work, and it looks like I have to make a physical appearance. I hop on the subway.
1 p.m. — I brought leftover rice and stir-fried vegetables that my boyfriend cooked last night. I eat at my desk while I push through a project. My boyfriend calls and says that the new contractor quoted us $2,700 for the original project, as well as a lot of other random odds and ends we also need fixed. This is much better news. I cross my fingers that we can actually get him to start the project in the near future.
4 p.m. — The office is closing early for Labor Day weekend! I wrap up things up in time to take advantage of early closure. My boyfriend is cooking a ton of food to take with us to the Poconos over the weekend, and he asks me to grab a few ingredients on my way home. We are joining a crew of people tomorrow and they asked my boyfriend make his amazing pulled pork and different salsas. I swing by the corner market and grab tortillas, queso fresco, cotija, epazote, Jarritos soda, avocados, and cilantro. $28.70
8 p.m. — We spend several hours cooking — meaning that I "supervised" and cleaned up, while he did all the heavy lifting. With all the taste testing along the way, neither of us is really hungry, so we have a few beers, chips, and salsa and call it dinner.
10 p.m. — Ever the procrastinators, we finally get around to packing for tomorrow. I also book a last-minute dog walker for the pups. We don't know all the couples who will be in the Poconos or how well the dogs will do with their kids, so we decide not to chance any bad encounters. My Chihuahua will probably prefer to stay home where it's warm and not spend two nights in a tent when it's supposed to be rainy and cool anyway. $75
Daily Total: $145.47
10 a.m. — We manage to get on the road at a decent hour, despite me having to spend the morning dealing with an unexpected work issue. In the panic of the work problem and getting the dogs' food, toys, leashes, and blankets in order for the walker (who isn't my usual person), I forget to drink coffee. We decide to just get out of town and deal with coffee once we are clear of the city.
11:10 a.m. — As a non-native Philadelphian, I don't think I will ever understand the love for Wawa that many of my friends have. I suspect they would be less enthralled if they had to frequent the one we stopped at somewhere along the highway to the west of Philadelphia. Only one of the coffee canisters has anything left, and there's chaos at the breakfast sandwich counter. The workers look panicked and I decide this must be a Labor Day rush for which they were unprepared. We grab the last remaining breakfast sandwich sitting out on the counter to split and get back on the road. It comes to $5.75 but my boyfriend pays.
12:30 p.m. — We are almost at our friends' cabin, but we see a roadside ice cream stand and are compelled to stop. We both get shakes — his is chocolate, mine is malted chocolate — and are very happy we took the detour. It's $10, including tip, but my boyfriend pays.
6 p.m. — After beating the rain to the Poconos, we set up our tent and spend the day catching up with friends around a fire, taking a walk around the "neighborhood," and just enjoying the time without city noise. We all enjoy my boyfriend's amazing food, making tacos from the pork, pairing those with his refried beans, and dousing them in all the salsas. Everyone is (rightfully) wowed.
8 p.m. — As the rain picks up, we head inside and go late into the night playing board games, drinking wine, and having a good time with good company.
Daily Total: $0
8 a.m. — I wander into the cabin from our tent to use the bathroom and am delightfully surprised that someone else is already up and has made coffee. We chat about our plans for the day, which are slightly derailed due to the rain. I help assemble an egg bake, fruit salad, and lay out bacon on a pan for the group breakfast. I'm still full from last night, so I just snag a little fruit and bacon.
12 p.m. — The rain is constant, but more of an annoying misty drizzle than full raindrops. Several of us decide that we'd get wet kayaking anyway, so we are going for it. Our crew drives to a nearby lake and we spend the next couple hours paddling, eagle spotting, and (successfully) trying not to flip. While we are on the water, the rain clears and we are all thrilled. My boyfriend pays for our $10-day permit.
3 p.m. — Between a small breakfast and lots of paddling, I am starving. The rest of the group is, too, so we find a local Italian place and eat a late lunch. I have three cups of tea because I am freezing, but also a cup of soup and a veggie pasta dish. My boyfriend pays ($55) for our and his friends' kid's lunch.
7 p.m. — No rain means outdoor grilling! Our friends marinated ribs and there are also chicken wings, corn on the cob, potato salad, and cucumber salad. Our crew does not do small meals. After dinner, the kids want to try and make funnel cakes, so my boyfriend and I take on the task of pouring the batter into the hot oil. They turn out remarkably well, and the kids are all thrilled with their "carnival food."
10:30 p.m. — Another night of socializing around the fire, but this time we don't get rained out. The night is beautiful and the moon is shining. I love living in a city, but am grateful for these jaunts away to recharge and relax with friends.
Daily Total: $0
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