A Week In NYC On A $42,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We asked a millennial woman how she spends her hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

This week, an entry-level fashion photographer prepping for a gallery show.
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Industry: Fashion
Location: Lives in Astoria, NY, works in Midtown, Manhattan
Salary: $42,000
Biweekly Paycheck: $1,240
Age: 22
Roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000
Loan Payments: $194
Internet: $50 (I pay this myself because my roommate doesn't use it)
Electric & Gas: $30 a person
Monthly Metro Card: $116.50
Phone Bill: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan)
Health Insurance: $145
Spotify Premium: $4.99, with a student discount
Squarespace: $10

Day One

9 a.m. — I was good last night and packed my breakfast AND lunch, despite the fact that I had to finish House of Cards before going to bed. I have some Greek yogurt with oats, raisins, and honey packed in a super cute Mason jar. I'm not a coffee person, so I either bring tea or get it at the office.

Noon — My artwork was chosen to be in a gallery show, so this isn't going to be an average week. I have to get my photographs printed and framed. I pick them up from a printer friend in Flatiron during my lunch break. $246

6 p.m. — I need to ship the prints, so I buy a box and send them on their way via UPS. $40

8 p.m. — I went to the grocery store last weekend and stocked up for about $50 because I'm trying to eat out less. I love to cook, and I find it keeps me healthier and sticking to a better budget! I collect recipes from all over the internet (R29, Buzzfeed, food blogs) and store them in my email, typically meals without a ton of components, so it's more affordable. Tonight I make a pineapple chorizo rice bowl with avocado cream. It's delicious, and I have plenty of leftovers for the week.
Total: $286

Day Two

9 a.m. — I did major breakfast prep last night and made oatmeal for the rest of the week. I sauté some pears and put that in the oatmeal with walnuts. I have tea in the office.

Noon — I packed my dinner from last night for lunch.

7 p.m. — Time to pick up some face cream from the pharmacy. For the past year-and-a-half I have been using a prescription gel called Ziana for acne, but with my new insurance that would've cost me $400. My derm wrote me a prescription for the generic version, but it still costs a ton. Thankfully I found a savings coupon online because this stuff is not cheap. I also buy Witch Hazel. $110

8 p.m. — I have leftover chicken soup and oatmeal for dinner. Not sure why I wanted those two things together.

Total: $110

Day Three

9 a.m. — I bring my breakfast again, same thing as yesterday.

Noon — It's my friend's last day at work, so we go out to lunch. We head to a little bakery place and I get a mediocre salad and cookie. We manage to get a nice sunny table in Bryant Park, so that makes up for the overpriced salad. I also grab an iced tea on the way back to work. $17

8 p.m. — I eat some more leftovers for dinner.

Total: $17

Day Four

9 a.m. — Same thing for breakfast again!

Noon — I take a walk and drop off some film to be developed. Somehow I end up with an iced tea in my hand before returning to the office. I eat more leftovers for lunch. $3

8 p.m. — Lo mein for dinner. It took me about 30 minutes to make.


Total: $3

Day Five

9 a.m. — I have the same thing for breakfast again. I'll need to shake things up next week. Tea at the office.

Noon — Leftovers for lunch, then pick up the film I had developed. $26

5 p.m. — While waiting for my friend to get out of work, I buy another iced tea. I don't normally spend this much at Starbucks in one week, but oh well. $2

7 p.m. — I meet a friend on the Upper East Side for dinner at her favorite Greek restaurant. She knows the owner, so we get a few glasses of wine for free. $33

10 p.m. — Buy a Gatorade. Hydration is the key to life (and not being hungover). $3

11 p.m. — My friend and I make it back to my apartment and have a drink there. Then, we go to a local beer garden. $8

Total: $72


Day Six

9 a.m. — I make some pancakes and eggs at home.

Noon — I go sell some old clothes at Buffalo Exchange. I get $20 in store credit and buy $50 worth of clothing. I then go to buy toothbrushes at CVS ($8), before stopping for a bagel with egg salad on the way home ($5). $43

9 p.m. — MORE leftovers for dinner (seriously time to hit the grocery store).
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Total: $43

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Breakfast at home.

2 p.m. — I do an internship on weekends at a photo studio. It's unpaid but they buy me lunch — a Starbucks sandwich and iced tea ($8). $0

5 p.m. — I go grocery shopping to restock. I look through my recipes before going to the store, pick out what sounds good, and make a list of what I need to buy. At Key Foods, I grab blueberries (on sale 2/$5!), two avocados, a cucumber, onion, half a dozen eggs, greek yogurt, chicken breasts, ground beef, salsa, and chips. $50. I also picked up my laundry ($10). $60
Total: $60
Editor note: This diarist rounded up to the nearest dollar.

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.

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Email moneydiary@refinery29.com.
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