A Week In NYC On A $50,000 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, an interior designer planning cleaning dates and saving to return to school.
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Industry: Interior Design
Age: 24
Location: Manhattan
Salary: $50,000, with a $3,000 bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x a month minus taxes, etc.): $1,403
Number of roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses
Rent:
$1,380
Loan Payments: None! My parents just offered to pay off the last of them.
Utilities: internet and cable $35, electricity: $20
Transportation: I live within walking distance of my office and walk most places. I fill up a $40 MetroCard about once a month.
Phone Bill: $0, I’m still on my parent's plan
Health Insurance: $0, I’m still on my parent’s plan
Savings: I don’t have any taken out of my paycheck, but I try to save around $100 a month. Some months more successfully than others. Though I recently decided to go back to school in the fall, so I’m trying to be more diligent about saving.
Renter’s insurance: $20 a month
ClassPass: $125 (since I was a member when it raised its rates, I get to keep the $125 rate till my June billing cycle)
Spotify: $10 a month

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I come into the office early to get a few things done before the day picks up. I am super tempted to stop for a coffee on my walk in, but decide against it. I’ve been really trying to cut out extraneous spending. I resign myself to my office’s horrible coffee and eat a yogurt and an apple that I brought from home at my desk. My roommate also had some extra smoothie that she made this morning, so I have some of that, too.

12 p.m. — I run to a midday yoga class. The class is covered through my ClassPass membership, but I pay $2 for a mat rental. $2

1:30 p.m. — A vendor comes to our offices and brings lunch. I don’t go to the meeting, but am able to steal lunch, a Greek salad, anyway (score!).

3 p.m. — I order some more Vital Proteins Collagen powder for smoothies, since I’m almost out. I started using it when I read the Jennifer Aniston also uses it, but have totally become obsessed with it. It has a ton of protein, and it’s great for joint and skin health. $24

7 p.m. — I go over to my BF’s. I pick up mixers for cocktails on the way. We have drinks on his roof and then head to Mermaid Inn for dinner. We are both starving, so we feast: We split octopus, mussels, fries, salmon, tuna, and a bottle of wine. He pays. He makes significantly more than I do, so we’ve figured out a loose system where he pays for the bigger tickets items (dinners, shows, and most travel expenses) and I chip in where I can (movie tickets, coffees, brunches, etc.). We also do a fair amount of cooking and when we do we split the grocery bill. $2

Daily Total: $28

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Today is a VERY exciting day, because my AC is getting installed. I moved in February and it’s time that I finally pony up for one. Since my window faces the street, my building requires that I get it professionally installed so that it (hopefully) doesn’t fall out the window. Obviously, this is an unusual purchase. It’s kind of pricy, but I knew that it would be a large cost, so I saved some of my tax return to cover it. $450

9 a.m. — I eat a piece of Ezekiel bread and make a cup of French press coffee at home while the AC guys are installing my unit.

10 a.m. — I stop at the hardware store on my walk to work. I need to pick up an AC extension cord for my new unit. I also grab some dish soap while there, because we’re almost out. $24

12:30 p.m. — I have lunch that I brought from home. Veggies and a piece of gluten-free pizza. My roommate and I are challenging ourselves to not buy lunch at all in June. So, that means mostly packed lunches. I did this for the whole month of December and it’s amazing! You save SO much money.

6 p.m. — I take the subway uptown to have dinner with my parents before they see a show. I get a bun-less veggie burger and we split onion rings and fries.

8 p.m. — My roommate and I have some annoying apartment stuff to take care of (cleaning, organizing, etc.), so we decide to have a few glasses of wine to make the process more enjoyable. This quickly devolves into each of us having a bottle of wine and painting our nails while we watch When Harry Met Sally. My roommate covers the wine, because she knows I’m feeling very poor after paying for my AC.

Daily Total: $474

Day Three

8 a.m. — I am embarrassingly hungover from the previous evening. I stop and get a coffee and egg whites on gluten-free toast on the way to work in the hopes that this ameliorates the situation somewhat (it doesn’t). $6

11 a.m. — I meet a friend who’s visiting from out of town for a lunchtime barre class (covered through ClassPass). We grab coffees after and she offers to pay!

2 p.m. — I just told my bosses I’m going back to school in the fall. We worked out a plan for the next two months and they put me in charge of finding my replacement. They took it surprisingly well, but I was so nervous and worked up about it beforehand that I didn’t really have an appetite for lunch. I finally eat a little soup that I had brought from home.

4 p.m. — I’m still feeling “under the weather.” Good thing I brought a massive coconut water from home this morning. I chug it as I post job listings online trying to find my replacement.

6 p.m. — After leaving work, I walk over to my friends apartment for dinner (sushi) and wine before going to karaoke for her birthday party. I pay for the wine and my sushi, as well as giving her my portion of the karaoke fee. $74

9 p.m. — We karaoke the night away. Luckily, unlimited drinks are included in our initial cost, so my night is relatively cheap. Around 1 a.m., I walk over to my boyfriend's place and call it a night.

Daily Total: $80

Day Four

9 a.m. — I wake up hungover and anxious (such a good combo). I run to La Colombe to grab coffees for myself and my BF. I can’t stomach anything besides coffee before my workout class. $9

10:45 a.m. — My friends and I have booked seats at SoulCycle this a.m., and my boyfriend decides to join. I have a SoulCycle package, so I booked my bike earlier this week and just pay for water and shoes at the class today. $4

12 p.m. — After class, we I go to brunch nearby. The place is pretty well-priced, but because we’re a large group, we all have to spend at least $30 each. Feeling up for the challenge, I order a Bloody Mary and an egg white omelette. We also get a few orders of avocado toast for the table. As a side note: Most of these weekend activities are abnormal, because my friend from college is in town. We tend to spend much more money when she’s around, because she wants to be out and about in New York. $41

3 p.m. — After the longest brunch in history (the food was great, but the service as horrible), we hop in cabs up to Hell’s Kitchen to my friend’s boyfriend’s place. They have a backyard/patio situation and it’s a great day out. My friend pays for the cab and I pick up some rosé for us to enjoy. We keep joking that it’s better to keep drinking and just lean into it than to let ourselves get hungover. When I’m around my college friends like this, we all revert back to the crazy drinkers we were in college. $14

6 p.m. — My boyfriend and I decide to leave the party. Since we’re already halfway uptown, we decide to stop at his parents' place and play with their dog before dinner. He pays for the cab.

8 p.m. — We head back downtown to grab dinner at Rosemary’s, an Italian place right by my apartment. The dinner is great, but we’re both feeling a little exhausted from the day's activities. He covers the bill and we head home.

Daily Total: $68


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Day Five

8 a.m. — I’m up early again, because when I drink, I can’t sleep late at all! This is annoying, but also somewhat convenient, because I have to catch an early train out to the suburbs to visit my family. I buy a ticket online, but charge it to my parent’s credit card.

9:30 a.m. — I grab a quick egg white sandwich and coffee on my way to the subway. I know it’s going to hurt my stomach later, because of the gluten, but it’s so worth it at the moment. $4

11:00 a.m. — My dad picks me up at the train station and we head to the grocery store to pick up some last-minute goodies for my brother’s graduation party.

12:30 p.m. — My mom has made an amazing spread of food for the party. I pile my plate with poached salmon, green salad, crudités, eggplant dip, and frittata. I’m particularly excited, because I know there will be a ton of leftovers that I will get to take back to the city with me. I spend the next several hours chatting and catching up with a ton of family and family friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

5:30 p.m. — The party winds down and my family heads out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. I unabashedly love this place. Their tome of a menu means that everyone will be happy, and we always get cheesecake at the end. I order a salad with grilled chicken and eat a decent amount of my brother’s nachos and my mom’s avocado toast. I love being home.

7 p.m. — We get back home and watch a movie and chill before calling it an early night.

Daily Total: $4

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up and pack up half of my parent’s fridge and pantry into my bag. I stock up on leftovers from the party, as well as my leftovers from dinner last night, and a few other things, like fruit and Larabars. My mom also sends me home with some peonies from her garden! She drives me to the train station and I again buy a ticket on my phone and charge my parents.

12:15 p.m. — Pop out of work for a midday barre class. My office is well-located to a ton of fitness studios and it’s pretty common in our office for people to get their workouts in during the day. The class is covered through ClassPass.

1:30 p.m. — A package gets delivered to me at the office. I’m not sure what it is, but then I open it and realize that my friend has messengered me eggplant parmesan that she made last night. It looks amazing and I can’t get over how cute it is that she surprised me with it. I decide to forego my leftovers for lunch in favor of this, with some crudités I had leftover from the party.

6 p.m. — My boyfriend and I meet up to cook dinner. I bring over some quinoa I have lying around, and we stop at Whole Foods for shrimp and veggies. We got really into making quinoa bowls when we were training for a race this spring, and now we make them fairly regularly. I pay for the groceries, but he Venmos me for half of it. $14

Daily Total: $14


Day Seven

9 a.m. — I grab some coffee and a yogurt and some cherries that I have in the office fridge for breakfast.

12:30 p.m. — I run to a spin class at lunch, again through ClassPass. Back at the office, I have my leftover salad from the Cheesecake Factory.

6 p.m. — On my walk home, I stop by my local grocery store for some necessities: Greek yogurt, eggs, and raspberries (organic and on sale for $1.99!). $15

7 p.m. — My roommate and I have a date to deep clean our apartment. We used to have a service come, but we got so offended by how much they were charging for our tiny apartment that we decided to do it ourselves. We treat ourselves to dinner at an Italian restaurant that we live above. Wine was definitely involved. $30

Daily Total: $45


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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