How One Fashion Journalist Survives In NYC On A $31K 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 fashion journalist in a post-breakup apartment, planning for a weekend away with a new beau.
Photo: Getty Images.
Industry: Fashion Journalist
Age: 25
Location: Live in Bedford-Stuyvesant, work in Manhattan
Salary: $31,300 before taxes
Paycheck Amount (Every 2 Weeks): $1,013 after taxes
# of roommates: 3

Monthly Expenses
Rent:
$825
Loan Payments: $100
Utilities: $100
Transportation: $116.50 unlimited monthly Metrocard
Phone Bill: $0 (I’m on my grandparents’ plan.)
Health Insurance: $0 (I’m on my parents’ plan.)
Netflix: $8.99

Day One

8:45 a.m. — Feeling tired and hungover from a holiday weekend, I indulge in a greasy bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and small iced coffee on my way to the office. $7.90

1 p.m. — Normally I try to pack a lunch for work, but because I’m in between apartments right now with most of my dishes still packed away, I get an over-priced salad near my office. $10.55

4 p.m. — I recently broke up with my boyfriend and moved out of our apartment in Astoria into a new place with friends in Bed-Stuy. Today I filled out a change of address form online so I don’t have to keep stopping by my old place to get my mail. $1

8 p.m. — After work, I head to the apartment of a new guy I’ve been hanging out with, and he orders pizza for us.

Daily Total: $19.45

Day Two

8:45 a.m. — Our office orders bagels for everyone on Wednesdays, so I grab one on my way to my desk.

10 a.m. — Already struggling to stay awake at my desk, I decide a coffee is a must and run up to our building’s cafeteria. $1.30

1 p.m. — I neglected to pack myself a lunch again, so I visit the cafeteria again and get a salad and side of green beans. The food in our cafeteria is pretty bland, but it’s cheaper than what I’d get at a restaurant nearby. $7.50

6 p.m. — After work, I run to Walgreens to get a hair dryer to leave at my new guy’s apartment for when I spend the night, and also some laundry detergent because I’ve run out of clean clothes. $40.25

6:15 p.m. — I take a cab from my guy’s place to my apartment in Brooklyn, because I had several bags of clothes and miscellaneous stuff with me that I deemed too heavy to carry on the subway. I hate taking cabs when I’m not too drunk for the subway, but I decide I can make an exception this time. $27.53

7:15 p.m. — Finally, I’m doing laundry after about a month-and-a-half of living out of a book bag after breaking up with my boyfriend and couch-surfing my way through the city. $10

7:30 p.m. — I get some groceries so I can start packing my lunch again and hopefully save some money. I hate cooking, so I keep it simple with items like hummus, carrots, cheese, and crackers. $19.95

7:45 p.m. — The first official night in my new apartment with my roommates calls for some celebratory wine, so I pick up a cheap bottle of rosé at the liquor store down the block. $10

8:30 p.m. — Too tired and hot to cook dinner (we have no AC and only one fan in our apartment), my roommates and I order Mexican food, which one roommate buys and I later Venmo her for. $15

Daily Total: $131.53


Day Three

10 a.m. — I head to the Highline Hotel to cover an event for work. They provide breakfast, so I grab some yogurt, fruit, and pressed juice.

1 p.m. — For lunch, I have some hummus and carrots that I brought from home.

2 p.m. — I didn’t sleep much last night, because it was insanely hot in my bedroom, so I get a coffee to keep me from passing out at my desk. $3

6:30 p.m. — I’m unpacking with one of my roommates at my new place tonight, so I grab two bottles of wine to help us complete our boring task. $20

8:30 p.m. — Thankfully, the burrito I ordered last night was huge, so I have leftovers for dinner.

Daily Total: $23

Day Four

12 p.m. — I work from home on Fridays, and I typically go to my favorite neighborhood bagel place for a late breakfast. I get a bagel and a small iced coffee — my usual. $6.60

11 p.m. — I’m hanging out at my new guy’s apartment, and all the restaurants near his apartment are starting to close, so we make some popcorn for dinner and mix up some drinks to sip on before we head out for the night.

2 a.m. — We finally make it out to the bar and enjoy a few rounds. My man picks up the tab.

Daily Total: $6.60

Day Five

3 p.m. — I meet up with one of my roommates in Manhattan for brunch at one of our favorite Mexican spots. We both get an entrée and two drinks, and we split the bill. $30.53

4:30 p.m. — We decide to day drink and head to the Standard. I order us a round and am reminded of how expensive this place can be. $35

5:30 p.m. — Next, we stop by the Brass Monkey for a few more drinks. My roommate starts a tab, and I Venmo her for my half. Later, the new guy I’m seeing shows up and buys the remainder of our drinks. $18.50

1 a.m. — After drinking all day and letting my new guy pay, I ask him to let me pick up the last tab and he agrees. $60.97

1:30 a.m. — We hop in a cab back to my guy’s apartment, and he pays.

Daily Total: $145

Day Six

12 p.m. — The new guy I’m seeing runs out to get bagels and coffee, and we have breakfast in bed.

7 p.m. — I head back to Brooklyn and get a few more groceries so I can start bringing breakfast to work again. I realize I’ve eaten way too many bagels in one week and need to get back into my oatmeal routine for the sake of my wallet. $16.74

Daily Total: $16.74

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I get an iced coffee near my office and enjoy the oatmeal I brought from home. $1.30

2 p.m. — I have some hummus and carrots for lunch that I brought from home.

6 p.m. — Even though I work in fashion, I rarely ever shop for clothes. But this weekend, the guy I recently started dating is taking me on a trip for my birthday, and I want to get a few new outfits so I look good. I head to Soho and do some damage, buying several tank tops, a romper, two bralettes and a pair of overalls. I tell myself it’s okay to spend some money because it’s almost my birthday, and I really, really like this new guy. $206.55
9 p.m. — After my shopping spree, I decide there’s no way I can justify ordering takeout, and I have some crackers and cheese at home.

Daily Total: $207.85
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.

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