A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $66,000 Salary

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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: a grants manager who makes $66,000/year and spends it on tickets to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
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Occupation: Grants Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 31
Location: I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan.
Salary: $66,000
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,694
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,100 is my portion of rent, shared with my partner, M.
Loan Payments: $590, mostly from grad school. (This is on income-based repayment.)
All Other Monthly Expenses
Transit: $121 (taken out of my paycheck, pre-tax) IRA savings: $101.50
Health Insurance: $10 for medical, $11.18 for dental, and vision is covered by my employer
Phone: $69
Internet: $60
Credit Cards: $645. I am on track to pay off my credit cards by 2018 after several years of living in expensive cities on bare-bones nonprofit salaries, mixed with no-so-great spending habits in my early 20s. (Apparently, I subscribed to the "YOLO" mentality.)
Spotify: $9.99
Hulu: $9.99
New York Times: $7.50
Charity: $25
Savings: $150, plus whatever I earn from my freelance gigs and teaching yoga.
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Day One



7:30 a.m. — Up with the alarm clock, but I scroll through Twitter on my phone for a few minutes to get a feel for today's news. I get in some morning yoga at home, check my personal email, and make my usual spinach, banana, and almond butter protein smoothie before heading to work.

10 a.m. — Make a Keurig iced coffee at the office. I haven't been doing so well with bringing my lunch, so I make it a point to at least keep down caffeine-related costs.

1:30 p.m. — Swing by to pick up the lunch I ordered last night via MealPal. This is the last day of my subscription as I am getting tired of the options available in my area and don't feel like the savings are really worth it. Today's selection, however, is penne with basil pesto from Fioro, which I'm pretty grateful for.

5:45 p.m. — I leave work a bit early to make it to my hair appointment. I have been a bottle-job gal for awhile, but after watching the decline of my hair's health over the years, I recently decided to allow this splurge for myself. Usually, I go in for a trim and the occasional root touch-up. Today, I'm ready for a change and go for a partial balayage. I get talked into adding an amazing treatment that makes my hair the shiniest. $213

8 p.m. — I walk home from the salon feeling like my best self. Why didn't I make plans to go show off my new 'do tonight, dammit? I am greeted by M. who stopped by the store on his way home. I Venmo him my share for the bananas, blueberries, almonds in bulk (we make our own almond milk), olive oil, marinara, chicken breast, eggs, spinach, ground turkey, cheese, and chorizo. For dinner, I make spaghetti squash and whip together a quick bolognese with the rest of the Italian sausage and some basil. I pour a glass of wine and dinner is served. $30

10 p.m. — Catch the series finale of Girls tonight before I become too irrelevant. Since I am not ready to remove myself from the couch once it's over, we watch the season premier of Veep. That Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a damn gem.

Daily Total: $243
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Day Two



7:45 a.m. — Wake up to some freelance work requests, so I get ready quickly, make myself a smoothie, and finish up an assignment for one client and a quote for another. I've been working with a couple clients since the beginning of the year, and this extra income gets divvied up between savings and credit card debt.

10 a.m. — I get to the office with just enough time to make a cup of coffee before my department meeting.

1 p.m. — Have been craving Sweetgreen all morning, so I take a call that was scheduled while walking over. Then I kill two birds by responding to texts while waiting in that never-ending line. I can really be the worst when it comes to replying to texts. $12.63

4:55 p.m. — Why is this day dragging? I am craving something sweet and regret passing up the chocolates sitting out for staff earlier. Remember I have some curry-roasted cashews stashed in my drawer and eat a handful to tide me over.

6:45 p.m. — Get home, put on some M.I.A. and do a 30-minute HIIT workout followed by some yoga. I've been trying to incorporate more cardio and strength training into my routine, and these interval workouts keep it interesting — and are much cheaper than a gym membership (read: free).

8 p.m. — It's taco night. I put on the latest Pod Save America podcast and sautée onions and peppers with chorizo and black beans. We need to use up the rest of the avocados, so I make some guac and serve it with plantain chips (a new obsession of mine). M. and I chat about our days over dinner.

9:30 p.m. — We have an "I cook, you clean" policy in our household, which works great for me because I find cooking therapeutic after a long day. The boyfriend cleans up while I start on a freelance assignment with a new client. It's a little over an hour's worth of reviewing and editing a document, and I submit an invoice along with the finished assignment.

10:45 p.m. — Feeling pretty good about such a productive day, I settle in with a book for a bit before it's time to shower get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $12.63
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Day Three



8:15 a.m. — It takes me a bit longer to get out of bed this morning. I pack a lunch of last night's leftovers and some dark chocolate while sipping on my smoothie. Just before I leave, I remember that I need to finally send my brother's birthday gift and return a couple items from my recent thredUP purchase. It is the first time I've ordered from them, and I got 50% off my purchase, so I went a little crazy. Still, I want two more basic black dresses, even if they are only like $10 each. My goal for this year is to only buy secondhand clothing (except underwear, because duh) as a way to cut my costs and be a more ethically and environmentally conscious consumer. I toss the returns and my lunch in a tote and head off to work.

1 p.m. — I warm up my lunch and log in to my Brooklyn Public Library account to see if any of the books I have on hold are available. I want to load up my Kindle with some new reading materials for my long flight tomorrow. Electronic book loans are seriously the way to go.

3:25 p.m. — Almost forget about my returns! USPS is usually a top contender on my shit list, but I am in and out in five minutes, so I knock 'em down a few spots. My thredUP order qualifies for a free return (score!), so I only have to pay shipping on my brother's gift. $2.23

6:20 p.m. — My earbuds have been on the fritz for awhile now, so I swing by Duane Reade on my way home to pick up a new pair. They are $5, but I cash in my rewards and get them for free!

7:15 p.m. — The weather has me all out of whack, so I drink some Emergen-C and decide to nix my running plans and opt for restorative yoga instead.

8 p.m. — Whip together some polenta for dinner to go with the rest of the bolognese in the fridge. Throw in a can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes and kale so there are plenty of leftovers for M. while I am away for a long weekend. I eat on the couch and watch an episode of 13 Reasons Why before I muster up the motivation to get packing for my trip.

Daily Total: $2.23
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Day Four



7 a.m. — Up a bit early to do a final bag check and make breakfast. (Surprise: a smoothie.) It'll be a long day of flights, and I want to cut down on as many airport meals as I can. I generally avoid cabs and the like, but getting to the airport is always such a pain in the ass that I make an exception. I check the fare estimates for Lyft ($61.00 for Line) and Gett ($35) and go with the latter. Despite it being rush hour and rainy, I make it to LGA by 8:30 and breeze through security. Where is everyone today? (Not that I'm complaining.) $36.50

12 p.m. — My layover lands a bit late, so I grab a panini and bottle of water at the least-crowded place closest to my gate. Gotta love throwing away money on mediocre-ass airport food. $15.71

1:30 p.m. — Settle in for my four-hour flight to Seattle and feel the excitement creeping in for a long weekend with good friends. I order a whiskey and ginger because vacation. Also because I have a free drink ticket and save $5, holla!

4 p.m. — Land in Seattle and get a text from my friend A. who has a work-related emergency. I take the light rail downtown and walk around until my friend comes to pick me up. $3

7:30 p.m. — We head over to a Vietnamese dinner spot to meet up with another friend and his boyfriend. We order spring rolls to share and drinks, and I get the seafood bun. We split the check four ways. $37.79

9 p.m. — A. is wiped from an emotionally taxing day with her work emergency, so she heads home and the rest of us head to another bar where we order a round of beers and hang out on the patio. My friend gets this round.

10:30 p.m. — We make our way to the next bar, which is a favorite whenever I am in Seattle. I order us a round of obligatory pickle-back shots. $17

12 a.m. — Jet lag starts to set in, so we all part ways and I head back to the friend's place where I am staying. My friend grabs my Lyft home.

Daily Total: $110
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Day Five



10:30 a.m. — It's a sunny day in Seattle, which calls for brunch at a place with a good patio. We split a crab cake Benedict and I have a Bloody Mary and a coffee, and then we start our mini-road trip to the Tulip Festival. $29.50

3 p.m. — We make it to Skagit County fine, but traffic in the town square area is pretty intense, so we decide to stop by the brewery for local beers. That turns into a couple beers and shots, because weekend! Vacation! Friends! $30.77

3:45 p.m. — Finally make it to the tulips! There is a $7 entry fee per person, which I cover for both of us. We frolic through the flowers, take several selfies (naturally), and make friends with an older dude who asks if we want to learn how to fly a kite. Basically, we are living in a '90s music video. $14

5:30 p.m. — We head out feeling very nostalgic for '90s tunes and blast music as we drive down the country roads. On our way back to the exit, my friend spots a winery and we pull in because the sun is still shining, and it seems to have a great patio. We have a wine flight and hang out for a bit in the sunshine before heading back on the road. She pays.

8 p.m. — When we get back into Seattle, we realize we haven't eaten anything other than brunch and some light snacks, so we head to another friend's place, where we order a pizza and salad and watch Netflix. It has already been an eventful day, so this is pretty much perfect. I Venmo to cover the pizza since my friend got our drinks earlier. $40

Daily Total: $114.27
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Day Six



11 a.m. — Grabbed an amazing breakfast biscuit and some coffee at Citizen; my friend pays.

1:30 p.m. — After checking out some houses throughout Seattle, we head to Vashon Island on the ferry. I try to give my friend some cash but she covers it. It is raining pretty consistently, so outdoor activities are kind of out of the question. We go to an amazing vegan place and order a wheatgrass shot — a change of pace for us — and a Buddha bowl. Our bodies thank us as we scarf down our food and drink several glasses of water. $18

3 p.m. — We get back into Seattle proper and make a plan: nap, tacos, rally.

5:30 p.m. — Plan goes accordingly and we get Taco Time on our way out to our friend's house party. $10

7 p.m. — We call as we are headed over to see if they need anything, but they're all good. We help make drinks when we arrive but skip eating any of the tons of food that's there because we are stuffed and trying to come out of nap and taco time. This home is effing incredible, and we all feel like the rich ladies in Big Little Lies, sitting with our cocktails and looking out over the Puget Sound. We hang by the fire pit with our drinks and someone passes around edibles. I have a nibble and the night ends with an epic dance party.

Daily Total: $28
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Day Seven



9 a.m. — West Coast jet lag means waking up early, even after a late night. We get up and help clean, recap, and have coffee and bagels before we head out.

1:30 p.m. — My friend suggests an amazing hot chicken place for brunch. We meet up and all order the chicken, mac and cheese, and Bloodies. We finish off with a Rainer. $36.46

3 p.m. — We are settling into a serious Sunday Funday (a thing I haven't said or done in forever, so this'll be good), and head to the local neighborhood dive for a round of beers; my friend pays. After, we stop in a nearby record store and laugh over the epic window display of random records.

5:30 p.m. — Next up: Belltown. We find a spot to grab beers and get a feel for how the afternoon will pan out. I grab this round. $17.50

6:30 p.m. — End up at one of the best dives in Seattle (bless the dive bar gods) for a pickle back and another round of Rainers. We hang for awhile, reminisce about the good-old days, and my friend tries to convince me to move to Seattle. Friend covers the drinks.

9 p.m. — A. decides to head home and M. and I head over to meet with his softball buddies at an amazing divey sports bar. I mostly drink water to hydrate but have a bit of beer from a new friend's pitcher.

10:30 p.m. — We end up at a gay bar and corral around the TouchTunes jukebox. Of course I download the app and buy $5 worth of credits. We listen to Shania for days. I buy one drink throughout the night and sip water the rest of the time. (Thanks, Drunk Me for not making the next day's flight home suck.) We have an incredibly fun time, and I make a million new friends. $10

12 p.m. — M. swings us by A.'s place so I can grab my suitcase and say my goodbyes. My flight is at the ass-crack of dawn the next morning. We head back to his place and crash. This was such an incredible and much-needed trip catching up with my West Coast besties.

Daily Total: $63.96
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