A Week In NYC On A $30,000 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 post-grad freelancer on the brink of a new full-time job celebrating birthdays with molly.
Photo: Getty Images.
Industry: Marketing, freelance. I'm experiencing a post-grad school existential crisis and buying time trying to figure out what to do with my career.
Age: 29
Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Salary: $30,000-42,000 (I consistently work for a non-profit part-time, and then pick up freelance projects the other half of my time)
Paycheck Amount (monthly before taxes): $2,500-3,500 (on a good month)
# of roommates: 1 (and a dog)

Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1,450
Loan Payments: $400
Utilities: $17 for Time Warner (just internet) + $32 for ConEd
Transportation: $60 for the subway
Phone Bill: $40-50 (I use Google’s ProjectFi for my cell phone service provider and it varies per month, based on data usage)
Health Insurance: $126 Oscar Health
Spotify: $5 (still on student membership)
Hulu: $8

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I wake up late today, because I was out for a friend’s birthday the night before. I have a bowl of cereal for breakfast.

10:00 a.m. — I make some coffee and then park myself on the couch with my laptop to start work for the day.

2:00 p.m. — I heat up some leftover pasta that I made two evenings ago for lunch. The pasta fills me up, but it’s mediocre at best, as I’m out of Parmesan cheese.

6:30 p.m. — I meet two of my friends at a Japanese restaurant in Koreatown for dinner. We chose the location based on a special errand we had to run later that evening. $38

7:45 p.m. — Time to run the "special errand." One of the two friends is celebrating her birthday this weekend and she thought it would be a fun occasion to try molly. So, earlier in the week, I reached out to a “friend” (read: acquaintance) I met at a party about where I can buy some. He gives me the number of another friend who is not a dealer, but “just doing me a favor.” The guy is spinning at an underground bar in Koreatown tonight, so we get there early and sit down for a drink (so we don't look conspicuous). Eventually, the exchange happens. He invites us to hang out, but it's too awkward and I can't handle another weeknight out. We sneak out shortly after his set starts. Beers, $7; molly, $30 (I buy two 0.1 to 0.15-g pills at $15 each. My friend buys three.) $37

Daily Total: $75

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Breakfast consists of some granola and Greek yogurt.

1:00 p.m. — I don’t feel like making my own lunch today, so I get Williamsburg Pizza for lunch. My eyes were bigger than my stomach, so I only eat one slice. $7

6:00 p.m. — I eat the second slice of pizza to hold me over until a friend’s housewarming.

7:30 p.m. — I stop at the corner wine shop for a housewarming present. I want to get some bubbly, as that seems appropriate for such an event. I ponder over a bottle with fancy packaging and name; the wine shop clerk comes over to tell me about the Beaujolais I have in my hand. A sparkling red that’s been gaining popularity...what do I know? But I buy it, because it sounds fancy enough and I’ve never tried a sparkling red. $16

8:00 p.m. — I’m told that they need more cups. I stop by a Walgreens to pick some up. Luckily, I don't have to worry about dinner, because they were providing lots of snacks. $7

Daily Total: $30

Day Three

10:00 a.m. — It’s the weekend and I sleep in. I make some eggs and bacon for brunch.

2:00 p.m. — My friend and her fiancé are celebrating a joint birthday today, and we’re starting early. After a couple of pitchers and some birthday shots for the couple, I close out my tab. $63

Around 7:00 p.m. — We take the pills.

8:00 p.m. — We end up hitting up a few more bars in an attempt to find music and lights. As the molly kicks in, the desire to drink minimizes. We don’t really end up eating a real meal for dinner. I try to eat some fries, but they taste like mushy sand. $24

1:30 a.m. — The molly was good while it lasted, but not too strong; so, it's starting to wear off. I decide I can't handle the subway while still semi-rolling, so I take a taxi home. $20

Daily Total: $107

Day Four

11:00 a.m. — I’m not horribly hungover today, but I just feel exhausted. I’m basically a waste of space for the entire day, moving only between the bed and the couch. I snack a little here and there, but still don’t feel like I have an appetite.

6:00 p.m. — Around dinner time, my appetite seems to have returned, so I order sushi on Seamless. $22

Daily Total: $22

Day Five

8:00 a.m. — I skip breakfast, because I need to get work done this morning before meeting up with an old roommate later this afternoon.

1:00 p.m. — I make a sandwich from groceries in the fridge.

3:00 p.m. — My dog is almost out of food, so I place an order on Amazon. $23

5:00 p.m. — After catching up with my old roommate outdoors by the water near Chelsea Piers. (It’s practically summer today!) We go for an early dinner. It’s my favorite Italian sandwich takeout place in the city. We enjoy the sandwich while people watching on the High Line. $9

6:30 p.m. — I decide to walk more instead of taking the subway, because the weather is amazing. I stumble upon a gelateria, so of course, I treat myself. $5

Daily Total: $37

Day Six

9:00 a.m. — Breakfast is the usual bowl of cereal, plus coffee, which I make at home.

1:00 p.m. — I scrounge up a salad from my remaining groceries. I’m out of town in a couple of days, so I’ve managed to use most of my perishables at this point.

7:00 p.m. — My friend and I have been trying to get reservations at the newly opened Llama Inn for quite some time now. It just so happens to be today — on a week where I’m definitely over budget. I still go, but the meal is a huge splurge. We get the lomo saltado, which is well worth the price, but we also order two cocktails. I'm going home home to visit my parents for a long weekend, so I justify that I won’t have many expenses while I’m there next week. $80

9:00 p.m. — We meet another friend who lives in the 'Burg for a drink after because my other friend doesn’t get to see her often (she lives in the UES). $6

Daily Total: $86

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — I have a banana for breakfast.

12:00 p.m. — I make my way up to the UWS to meet a client at a café in person. We’ve recruited two new interns to help with our work and I’m meeting them to pass on my projects, since I’m starting a new full-time job in two weeks. The client pays for our lunch and coffee.

1:00 p.m. — I spend the rest of the afternoon at a NYPL (putting our tax dollars to use!). I tend to park it at a library when I’m sick of working from home, rather than a coffee shop, to save a few dollars.

6:00 p.m. — My roommate happened to make extra pasta for dinner and offers me some. I gladly take her up on the offer.

8:00 p.m. — Because I have more work to do this evening, I choose to skip some 4/20 celebration plans I previously made with friends. I didn’t have enough weed lying around and didn’t want to spend money to buy more. My delivery guy only seems to sell eighths at $60 per pop. Eventually, I settle for catching up with my favorite stoner pals Abbi and Ilana (on TV).

Daily Total: $0

Diarist Note: All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar. This particular week was unusually eventful and costly.
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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