A Week In NYC On $600 A Month

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.)

Today, a 19-year-old college student attending a private university and studying journalism and business.
Industry: Student
Age: 19
Location: New York, NY
Paycheck Amount: I have a part-time job in my school’s admissions office. My paycheck is about $300 every two weeks. Sometimes I work extra weekend events, so it goes up and down.
# of roommates: 3

Monthly Expenses
Tuition: My tuition covers my housing. In total, tuition is about $16,000 a year, or $1,500 every month.
Loan Payments: I haven’t started paying student loans yet. My parents took out large loan, and I have one of smaller value in my name.
Utilities: Wifi, heat/air conditioning, electric, and water are all covered in tuition.
Transportation: $40 on a metro card every two to three weeks
Phone Bill: On parent's plan
Health Insurance: Parent’s plan
Savings: Just started my first savings account, so it’s building. I take about $20-50 out of every paycheck and put it into savings.
Spotify Student: $4.99
Netflix: Mooch off friends. $0
1 of 8
Day 1

5:45 a.m. — Wake up, head down to the gym in my residence hall. It’s the smallest gym I have ever seen, but it gets the job done. I purchased a circuit-training-based workout plan earlier.

8 a.m. — Head to school. I live 15 blocks from campus, so I walk, and grab a smoothie from Juice Press. My friends and I took a weekend trip and I have no groceries at home. $8

2 p.m. — My smoothie filled me up all day, so I pick up a protein bar and fruit at the school cafeteria. Included in my tuition is $1,000 worth of "dining dollars" per semester that I can use on campus. My meal plan works at our sub-par cafeteria, at the on-campus Starbucks, and a few off-campus locations. MP: $4.98

6 p.m. — Stop at Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some basics I need for the week. I bought Greek yogurt, asparagus, zucchini, carrots, almond milk, apples, and blueberries. Also splurged on some pumpkin-spice-flavored cereal because I’m a sucker for anything pumpkin spice. $38.79

7 p.m. — My roommate ends up making me dinner, so now I have more groceries for the week. Win-win.

Daily Total: $46.79
2 of 8
Day 2

6:40 a.m. — I plan to go to a spin class at FlyWheel, but I sleep through my alarm and miss it. No money wasted, because I had a credit to my account. I do cardio at my gym downstairs instead, and then make breakfast at home.

2 p.m. — Finish work and grab lunch at the cafe before classes start. MP: $8.60

4 p.m. — Grab a coffee from Starbucks because I almost fell asleep multiple times during my ethics class. Tuesday is getting the best of me. Again, charge to my meal plan. MP: $3.55

7 p.m. — My best friend’s grandparents are in town, and they invite me to dinner. The restaurant is on the west side, so I take a cab to try to get there quickly from my evening class. $19

7:30 p.m. — Dinner is at a fancy Indian restaurant, where the portions are way too small for the price. Her grandparents pay for my meal.

9 p.m. — BFF and I grabbed fro-yo because the food at the restaurant didn’t hold us over. $8

11 p.m. — I’m a contributor for my school’s HerCampus chapter, and we have a code for $7 tickets to College Fashion Week. I buy four for me and my friends: $32.68. Friends are paying back their share, so it's really only $8.17.

Daily Total: $35.17
3 of 8
Day 3

5:45 a.m. — Set my alarm to work out, but I'm not feeling it, so I sleep for another hour. #college

6:45 a.m. — Wake up for real, get ready for my 8:30 class. I read my class readings over a bowl of cereal at home.

12 p.m. — Want to grab a coffee before my 10 a.m. class, but the line is too long. So I wait and grab a fruit cup halfway through. Charged to meal plan. MP: $3.65

1:15 p.m. — I eat lunch at school. We have a new hot bar on campus that always has really good varieties of mixed vegetables, which is great for me since I am a vegetarian. I have mixed veggies, some really yummy potatoes, and top it with some arugula for greens. Charged to meal plan. MP: $7.45

2:30 p.m. — My school has these legendary brownies that are only available on certain occasions, and today was one of those days. I took two (they were free!) and grabbed a coffee before my last class. Coffee charged to my meal plan. MP: $2.45

7:30 p.m. — My friends and I are going to a luau-themed party this weekend, so we stop at H&M to look for anything cheap and tropical-looking to wear. We don't find anything, which is sad for my wardrobe, but good for my bank account. I go home and make a stir-fry of zucchini, tempeh, brown rice, peppers, spinach, onion, and asparagus for dinner and wear a bodysuit I already had to the party.

11 p.m. — Watch the rerun of AHS so that all of my friends can watch it together.

Daily Total: $0
4 of 8
Day 4

7 a.m. — Wake up, pour a bowl of pumpkin-spice cereal (HAPPY FALL!) and check my phone. I thought my paycheck was going to be at least $200, but it's less than $100, so no fun things for me the next two weeks!

8:30 a.m. — Spin class. Again, have a credit to my account, so no charge.

12 p.m. — We have a huge festival today at school with free food, but I’m at work and can’t take a long break to stand in line. I grab a veggie bowl from Starbucks. Charged to my meal plan. MP: $6.95

2:15 p.m. — To prevent myself from falling asleep in my Ethics class, I grab a granola bar and PSL from Starbucks. Charged to my meal plan. MP: $7.30

6 p.m. — Grab dinner at the cafe. They have had such good options lately. I have roasted vegetables, lemon tofu, and quinoa with Brussels sprouts, which I may or may not have gone back for seconds of. MP $10.51

11 p.m. — I have been putting off watching the final episode of Lost, because, if you have ever watched the series, it makes your head spin. But I finished, and snacked on Greek yogurt, an apple, and granola while watching.

Daily Total: $0
5 of 8
Day 5

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, have a small bowl of cereal before the gym so I won't be working out on an empty stomach.

10:30 a.m. — My friends and I grab a quick breakfast at a coffee shop down the block. They have the best avocado toast I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, the price has gone up on avocado so my meal is a little too expensive for my liking. I also splurge on a chai tea latte. $16.55

12 p.m. — I work from my apartment today, giving tours of the residence hall until 5 p.m. I give one tour and then watch Netflix and do homework the rest of the day. #college

6 p.m. — Take a class at Broadway Dance Center tonight. Fun fact: I was actually planning on being a dance major in college, but when I didn’t get into any of the schools I applied to, I chose journalism and am beyond happy with my decision. I prepaid for a class package in September, so I didn’t have to pay anything today.

10:30 p.m. — Friends and I are going to a party, so we pick up some snacks to take as a welcome gift. $30

Daily Total: $46.55
6 of 8
Day 6

8 a.m. — Wake up and have to be on campus at 10 a.m. for work, despite not getting home until around 2 a.m. My roommates and I decide to get bagels delivered. I down a cup of coffee while I do my makeup and make it to campus 15 minutes early. They have coffee and muffins, which I also took advantage of. $12

12 p.m. — I’ve been working out every day — and noticing that I run out of sports bras before the week is over. I pass a Nike store every day on my walk to school, so I decide to pop in after work and treat myself to a bra. I find one for $30, and it is 20% off! Score. $24

2:30 p.m. — Stay in all afternoon, catch up on TV, and do homework. Don't feel like making lunch, so I walk over to Hale & Hearty and grab half a sandwich. I go back to my room and get chips from our convenience store, where I can use my meal plan (MP: $1.49). $4

4 p.m. — My college has access this week to free SoulCycle classes, so I take advantage of one this afternoon.

6:30 p.m. — My friend's parents are in town these weekend, and they take us to dinner in Little Italy. Pizza, pasta, and gelato, and no money spent!

9 p.m. — Plan on going out to another apartment party, but find ourselves on the floor watching funny videos and scrolling through Instagram an hour after the party started. No party for us.

Daily Total: $40
7 of 8
Day 7

10 a.m. — Two friends' families are in town and treat all my roommates to brunch at The Smith, one of my FAVORITE breakfast spots of all time. I order the vanilla bean French toast with caramelized bananas. SO GOOD.

1 p.m. — I’m a huge sports fan, and I may have purchased an NFL Sunday Ticket subscription so I can watch my home team (GO RAVENS!) each week. Breakfast keeps me pretty full, but at halftime, my roommate and I grabbed PSLs. Starbucks is having a promotion where a grande is only $3.

4 p.m. — There is a Yankee’s game this Friday, and my friends and I pick up cheap bleacher seats. $25

6:30 p.m. — Finally make dinner, a stir-fry of brown rice, zucchini, carrots, onion, asparagus, and tempeh.

9 p.m. — Getting back into the weekly routine and waking up early tomorrow. Decide to do a pumpkin face mask and watch football in bed.

Daily Total: $28
8 of 8
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual diarists' experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day.

For more money diaries, click here.

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Send it to us at https://you.refinery29.com/submit-money-diary.