A Week In NYC On A $36,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women 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 web editor in New York City, putting down a security deposit for a new apartment.

Industry: Digital Media/Editorial
Age: 22
Location: NYC
Salary: $32,000, plus freelance work
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): ~$1,200
# of roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $760
Loan Payments: They haven’t kicked in yet; I just graduated in May and don’t have to begin making payments for six months. My parents also offered to make my loan payments until I have a more permanent/higher-paying job.
Utilities: $25 for internet, around $40 for electricity
Transportation: Monthly Metrocard $116
Phone Bill: Still on family plan, all paid for by my parents
Health Insurance: Still on parents’ insurance
Savings: I opened a Mutual Funds account several years ago and make deposits whenever I come into extra cash. (There’s around $8,000 in there currently.)

Day One

9 a.m. — Grab a coffee at Starbucks to fuel up for a morning of apartment hunting. $3

1 p.m. —Weekly Whole Foods trip for groceries. Splurged on Halo Top ice cream. Also pick up zucchini, hummus, mozzarella, popcorn, granola, fruit, and some other things. $31

3 p.m. — Found a new apartment through Craigslist! Paid the security deposit. Will be moving to Park Slope with two roommates. $200

7 p.m. — Made caprese salad for dinner from my WF haul.

Daily Total: $234

Day Two

9 a.m. — Cereal for breakfast at home. I’m not a huge breakfast person, but my commute is pretty long right now, so if I don’t eat before work, I show up super hangry. Honey Nut Cheerios are the solution.

1 p.m. — Brought my own lunch to work, but some coworkers invited me to join them in the cafeteria, so I paid $5 for a sandwich. Seems worth it to socialize at my new job! $5

7 p.m. — Mac 'n' cheese for dinner. It’s Kraft-style, but since it’s from Whole Foods, it’s healthy, right?

Daily Total: $5

Day Three

10 a.m. — Have breakfast at the office since I slept through my alarm and didn’t eat at home. They have fruit, peanut butter, coffee, and some other snacks, so I don’t have to spend any money.

12 p.m. — Office coffee #2. The Starbucks around the corner is tempting, but I can’t justify spending money on lattes when they’re free at work.

2 p.m. — Brought my lunch to work; some frozen Trader Joe’s meal I found in the back of my freezer, supplemented with snacks from work.

7 p.m. — It’s unreasonably hot, so I pop into Starbucks mid-commute for an iced tea. $3

8 p.m. — Stop by Trader Joe’s to grab something for dinner. Craving Kung Pao cauliflower I got there last week. $5

Daily Total: $8

Day Four

9 a.m. — Cereal and coffee for breakfast at home.

1 p.m. — Free sandwiches at the office. Yay! I take half of one and grab soup from the cafeteria. $3

9 p.m. — Late dinner with a blind date. He offers to pay, and I don’t object. He’ll probably end up expensing it, anyway.

Daily Total: $3

Day Five

9 a.m. — Coffee and cereal at home. This is getting pretty old.

1 p.m. — I know I’m supposed to be saving money, but Bloomingdale’s is having a sale. I got paid $75 for a freelance assignment today, so I don’t feel too bad about treating myself. I get a sweater. $40

6 p.m. — Pop into the grocery store for some spinach, mozzarella, and pesto. $12

9 p.m. — Order new sneakers online from Free People. Mine are super worn out, and these will be cute enough for the gym and the office. I’ve been looking for a new pair for a few months, and these were on sale (and free shipping!) $50

Daily Total: $102

Day Six

10 a.m. — Pop into Starbucks for an iced coffee. $3

2 p.m. —Half-day at work! H&M is having a sale, so I couldn’t resist checking it out. $40

10 p.m. — A friend is in town. Dinner and drinks at my favorite Thai restaurant. Got my first paycheck from my new job, so Champagne was in order. $28

Daily Total: $71

Day Seven

11 a.m. — Stop by a café for a bagel and cream cheese. $3

1 p.m. — Iced matcha latte from a new café. Did it mostly for a cute Instagram post. $5

2 p.m. — Great Kate Spade wristlet on sale! Score. I don’t feel super guilty about all my recent shopping, since I got paid for another freelance assignment today. I typically make anywhere from $75 to $300 a month freelancing. $30

3 p.m. — Vegan ice cream, since it felt like a hundred degrees outside. $5

4 p.m. — Tacos and margaritas with my friend from out of town. Can’t beat a weekend happy hour. I rarely go out to eat this much, but since my friend is visiting, we’re hitting up some new spots. $16

10 p.m. — Got invited to a party downtown — open bar with the cover. $5

12 a.m. — Super hungry, since tacos were so long ago. Cheese fries at a 24-hour diner before heading home. $9

Daily Total: $73
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s 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.

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