A Week In Brooklyn On A $39,500 Salary

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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

This week a publicity associate working in events with a side hustle as a photographer who makes $39,500 per year and spends it on travel — and the occasional impulse shoe buy.
Occupation: Publicity & Events Associate
Age: 24
Location: Brooklyn
Salary: $39,500
Paycheck Amount (Bi-Weekly): $1,130

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 for my half. My boyfriend's parents own the apartment we live in, and we both pay them rent.
Loan Payments: $135
Transportation: $31 for a weekly MetroCard. I prefer to buy weekly's because it's less money all at once and I budget that way.
Utilities: $0, it's included in my rent
Health Insurance: $0, still on my mother's insurance.
Spotify: $9.99
Website Hosting: $7
Savings: $200 minimum
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Day One

8:20 a.m. — Since the new year, I've been trying make a deliberate effort to be better about packing food and coffee during the week. After getting dressed, I brew coffee, pack breakfast (greek yogurt & granola) and lunch and head to work.

8:50 a.m. — Refill my MetroCard with a weekly unlimited pass. $31

11:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I are traveling to Japan in April (a life-long dream of mine!!) and we just booked our Airbnb. I pay off half my chunk on my credit card. $236

1:30 p.m. — I walk with my friend to the market down the street to get some fresh air. Get tempted and buy a bag of chips to go with my sandwich. I chow down on a brie and pear sandwich on multigrain sourdough, my new favorite bread from Trader Joe's. $3

6:30 p.m. — It's pouring out, so I decide to make Cacio e Pepe for dinner, since it's some serious comfort food. We settle in and watch Portlandia before heading to bed.

Daily Total: $270

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Brew coffee, pack lunch and some oatmeal for breakfast, then head out to work.

1:30 p.m. — We have a toaster oven at work, so I decide to make some avocado toast for lunch, and have some of the leftover chips from Monday with it.

7 p.m. — Meet my boyfriend at Target. It's close to our apartment, so we go about once a month to get household basics. Pick up cat food and litter, cleaning supplies, some groceries, toiletries, and a few miscellaneous items. My boyfriend and I have a Target RedCard since we shop there so frequently, and I Venmo him half the bill. $82

8:00 p.m. — I cover an Uber home from Target. $8

8:30 p.m. — We get home and are too exhausted to cook, so we order in Seamless from the diner nearby. I get chicken tenders and some fries, and my boyfriend offers to pay.

Daily Total: $90

Day Three

8 a.m. — I have to renew my passport, so I leave a little early today. Too rushed to prepare food for the day.

9 a.m. — Stop at the post office near my work and submit my application. I procrastinated, so I pay for expedited service since our trip is in two months, bummer. $200

10:15 a.m. — Finally done at the post office, and swing by Starbucks for an iced coffee before heading into the office. I use the rewards system, and I have a free drink today.

1 p.m. — Run to the market down the street and pick up some pork gyoza for lunch. $5

2 p.m. — The Amope foot file is on major sale today. I've been wanting one for a while but never wanted to pay that much. Order on Amazon with a $10 off coupon! $22

6 p.m. — My boyfriend has a work dinner tonight, so I'm on my own. We're both photographers, and on days I have the apartment to myself, I like to do some work. I make mac and cheese and sit down at my computer to scan film, work on edits, and update my website.

Daily Total: $227

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Today I make an iced latte with my Nepresso. I bought it last year and am so happy with it. I seriously love iced coffee, so it's definitely helped me save a lot of money and they even have mail-in packs so you can recycle the pods! I pack my coffee and lunch before heading to work.

1:30 p.m. — Brie and pear sandwich with chips from Monday for lunch. This is my favorite sandwich to make because I am addicted to brie.

2:30 p.m. — Get an email that our favorite movie theater is playing Studio Ghibli movies. We're going to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Tokyo when we visit, and my boyfriend hasn't seen all the films. I buy us two tickets to see Princess Mononoke. With movies, I usually buy the tickets and he pays for food, so it all evens out. $27

5:30 p.m. — It's the one year anniversary of adopting our cat! I stop in the grocery store on the way home and pick up a can of tuna to make him a little cat birthday cake. I know, I'm that person. $2

7:30 p.m. — I usually cook, but I've asked my boyfriend to start helping out on nights that I go to the gym so we're not eating super late. He makes turkey meatballs over polenta with some roasted veggies, and I pass out watching The West Wing quickly after.

Daily Total: $29

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I make coffee, but am too low on groceries to bring lunch today.

1:30 p.m. — It's chilly today, so I head down to the market and pick up some tomato basil soup for lunch. $4

6 p.m. — While waiting to meet my boyfriend for dinner, I stop in the West Elm by the restaurant just to browse. There's an adorable little planter, and everything in the store is 25% off today so I go for it. $10

6:30 p.m. — For Christmas, we were given a gift card to Shake Shack. I meet my boyfriend at the location right by our apartment, and we treat ourselves hardcore. I get a cheeseburger and cheese fries, and a mint cookie milkshake for the walk home. No damage, since the gift card covered it all!

Daily Total: $14
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Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up and head down to the gym since I haven't gone enough this week.

8:30 a.m. — Come back from the gym and make an iced latte and cereal, and sit at my desk and do a bit of online browsing before getting ready for the day.

10:30 a.m. — Everlane is having a shoe sale in Greenpoint, and my friend from New Jersey is driving into the city for it. She picks me and my boyfriend up, and we head over. While we wait in line, my boyfriend runs out and buys us coffee.

11 a.m. — A pair of loafers I've been eying for over a year are on sale, and they have one pair in my size. I'm trying to save, but these are too good a deal to pass up! Plus, I can get a lot of wear out of them. $109

11:55 a.m. — We head to Williamsburg since my boyfriend is getting his hair cut this afternoon. We want to stop in the Fred Perry outlet store, but we get there a few minutes early so I buy an iced tea from the cafe next door. $3

2:30 p.m. — We're both starving, and he offers to buy sandwiches from the deli down the street from our apartment. I go for an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese. His treat!

6:30 p.m. — We make dinner at home since we're going out later. We're low on groceries, so I just cook some pasta with turkey bolognese and have a small salad on the side.

9:20 p.m. — My friend is moving to San Francisco, and tonight is her going away party. We stop at the liquor store downstairs and I pick up a bottle of red wine. $11

9:20 p.m. — We hop in a cab over to her apartment, he covers the ride there and I'll cover the ride home.

1:30 a.m. — Head home in a cab and immediately pass out. $10

Daily Total: $133.00

Day Seven

8:00 a.m. — Wake up feeling a bit dead after last night. Stare inside my fridge for a good few minutes before realizing I have bacon. I'm saved! Cook a few pieces to help get me through this morning and make a pot of coffee for me and my boyfriend.

12:30 p.m. — We meet my boyfriend's mom and family friends in the city to celebrate her birthday. They treat us to brunch and it's nice to connect with them for a while.

2 p.m. — Head to Muji to pick up a new notebook for work. I love their stationary, and it's so reasonably priced. $3

3 p.m. — We head over to Trader Joe's to pick up some more groceries. We get some Kung Pao chicken (our favorite frozen meal there), stuff to make chili, a few veggies, some pesto, and a couple other basic items. Normally, I plan out all our meals for the week, but my boyfriend asked that we wait until he gets paid later in the week. We split groceries halfway. $27

6 p.m. — He heats up the Kung Pao chicken and some jasmine rice, and we binge watch Top Chef for the rest of the night.

Daily Total: $30

The Breakdown


Weekly Total $$ Spent: $793.00
Food & Drink: $55.00
Entertainment: $27.00
Home & Health: $92.00
Clothes & Beauty $131.00
Transportation $49.00
Other $439.00

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