A Week In Long Island City, NY, On A $115,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an innovation strategist who makes $115,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a cheese wheel and food from the Queens Night Market.
Occupation: Innovation Strategist
Industry: Financial Services
Age: 29
Location: Long Island City, NY
Salary: $115,000 (pre-tax) + $10,000 bonus + $3,000 from freelance work
Paycheck (Biweekly): $2,200, post-tax and 401(k) and insurance deductions
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $900, split with husband. (My husband and I don’t have any joint accounts and keep our finances separate.)
Loan Payments: None. I worked three to five jobs while attending school and was very fortunate to have my dad contribute toward my education.
Advertisement
All Other Monthly Expenses
My Mom's Rent: $1,100
Cell Phone: $42
Internet & Electricity: $50
401(k): $440 (company sponsored, and they match a percentage)
Roth IRA: $500
Medical & Dental Insurance: $101
Savings: ~$1,000/month, or whatever is leftover from my spending. We plan to use this for a house down payment/our future childrens' college fund.
Magazines: I get a bunch of subscriptions for free through a survey site, on which I spend $64/year. I pay ~$5/month for other magazine subscriptions.
Amazon Prime: $99/year. My husband pays for our Netflix/Hulu himself, so we call it even.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Hooray, Saturday! My husband and I wake up as the sun fills our bedroom, and I amble over to the kitchen to turn on our espresso machine. I pull two perfect shots, and take my probiotic supplement. We sip espresso in bed and play with our parrot, Ancho, who loves to snuggle with us in the morning. I grew up having lots of birds, and I love how parrots express so much curiosity and personality (but I also love dogs!). Ancho is a three-year-old rescue parrot whom we got six months ago, and he's pretty much the center of our universe. Reluctantly, we head out to the gym.
10:30 a.m. — Back in our apartment, we each have another espresso, and my husband packs us a picnic while I'm in the shower. We have a perch in the bathroom for Ancho from which he sings and chatters while we shower. He's not a talented melodist, but he's extremely enthusiastic and loves to sing along with our off-key shower songs. We get ready to leave, and turn on NPR on our Amazon Alexa so that Ancho has some “company.”
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Our traditional warm-weather Saturday routine involves walking to our neighborhood farmer's market before going to picnic at an amazing, hidden-gem rooftop farm/farm stand in Long Island City. As we approach the farmer's market, I notice a very tall man thronged by people near the apple stand: it's Bill de Blasio, the mayor of NYC. Our local city councilperson recognizes us and motions us over to talk to the mayor. He is extremely tall; I suddenly forget all my hard-hitting questions, and we talk about tomato sauce. Good thing I didn't go into journalism! At the rooftop farm, we buy a loaf of bread and Szechuan buttons, because they sound intriguing. (They're unrelated to Szechuan peppercorns but produce the same numbing, tingling effect on the palate.) We mosey over to the big picnic table and set out our spread: a variety of cheeses, olive oil, pickles, fresh figs, and a bottle of white wine. This is one of our absolute favorite spots in all of New York, with a sweet view of the skyline. $8
2:30 p.m. — Now that we're stuffed with almost an entire large loaf of bread and an obscene amount of cheese, we take a long walk to the Astoria waterfront. First stop: Socrates Sculpture Park, where they've just opened a new installation. Right next to Socrates is our next stop, Costco, my absolute favorite store. They carry everything, their workers are paid a fair wage and get solid benefits, their margins are unbelievably low, and you can get an entire wheel of Humboldt Fog cheese for an amazing bargain. When the apocalypse comes, I'll make a Costco my bunker. I can also get in and out of Costco in under 30 minutes; I've been to so many that I know the layout really well. We pick up a giant bag of popcorn, decongestant (cold season, ugh), olive oil, and an enormous hunk of Parmesan, which will disappear surprisingly quickly in our household. $56
Advertisement
3:30 p.m. — We stop by the liquor store adjacent to Costco to buy a bottle of prosecco to bring to a friend's housewarming, and end up partaking in some wine tastings. $11.97
4 p.m. — The housewarming is about two miles away in Long Island City; we decide to walk since it's still so nice out. My friend's apartment has an unbelievable view of Roosevelt Island and Manhattan, and the sun is sparkling on the East River. We admire the skyline and congratulate my friend on the amazing vista. We take the subway back home (I had money on my MetroCard) to drop off our groceries and say hi to Ancho; we feel bad about leaving him alone all Saturday! Ancho is my husband's first bird and they are completely obsessed with each other; we play with him for a little while and practice the new trick my husband has taught him: We say “boop” and Ancho taps our noses; it's the cutest thing.
7 p.m. — After drinking a glass of wine at home, we stop at the ATM to take out cash, and then head out on the subway to Corona to meet a friend at the Queens International Night Market, another one of our favorite Saturday activities. There are so many new vendors! I am overwhelmed. We queue in a very-long-but-worth-it line for Burmese Bites while we wait for our friend to join us. I get some for us to share, and we end up getting so many more things, including Peruvian ceviche, Siberian pelmeni, a Nigerian rice bowl, and Szechuan buns; we take turns buying. My husband and our friend drink beers, and we watch a professional yo-yo artist performing for the crowd with puzzlement. $15
Advertisement
9 p.m. — We're so full. My husband and I take the subway home and hang out with Ancho before putting him to bed and tidying up around the apartment. We watch the first few episodes of American Vandal on Netflix (this show is amazing, seriously) and then go to bed around midnight.
Daily Total: $90.97

Day Two

10 a.m. — My husband brings us espressos to drink in bed, and I take Ancho out of his cage so we can play. He's chatty in the morning and we are trying to decipher what he's saying, but I'm not fluent in parrot yet. I hate when other people say this, but I'm too full from last night's gorging to eat breakfast. We do some cleaning around the house, and I catch up on some of the freelance editing work that I do as a side hustle. I can do it from home on my own schedule, which is awesome, and I enjoy the work; it's seasonal, and the busy period is ramping up. I negotiated a 25% raise on my hourly rate last year, so it's a great use of my spare time and talents.
1 p.m. — I brew a giant cup of rooibos and make myself beautiful tartines from yesterday's bread with lox, capers, and a fried egg. After my shower, I start doing my multi-step skincare routing from Fifty Shades of Snail and then get sucked into an internet research hole about skincare products. I started reading about Korean skincare a few years ago, and I'm a product junkie; I order a new face mask from Amazon. After I detach myself from the computer, I catch up on all the reading I need to do! I subscribe to 14 magazines and am part of two book clubs, so I have lots of material to cover. I finish last week's New Yorker and start reading Ellen Pao's book, Reset. Ancho helps by chewing the corners of my pages and snuggling in my hair. $10.99
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I bought tickets to a supper club pop-up a few weeks ago, and our date is tonight! Since the weather is still lovely, we opt to walk the two miles to Brooklyn. I wasn't going to drink tonight, but it's hard to say no to purchasing the carafe of rosé our host chef is offering, now that we're in the presence of heavenly-smelling food. The chef brings out dish after dish of amazing Korean food, and we chat with the other couple who reserved seats at the pop-up tonight. We wanted to talk more with our host about cooking and cuisine, but it's hard to shift the conversation. We vow to come back! (This is a no-tipping establishment, so I pay for the wine and food sans tip.) $8.50
9:30 p.m. — My husband pays for the uberPOOL home; we put Ancho to bed and prepare for our mornings. A bunch of the eBay listings I put up ended up selling (another one of my side hustles), so I pack up the items and print out shipping labels. After fees and shipping, I end up netting $130. Nice!
Daily Total: $19.49

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — After groggily hitting snooze my alarm once, I get dressed and drag myself to the gym. The exercise wakes me up and energizes me for the week ahead, but it's hard to get up this early! When I get home around 7, I make espresso and bring my husband his cup in bed (along with Ancho). Ancho and I hop into the shower, and then I get ready for work. Luckily, I have enough time for breakfast, so I make myself a smoothie bowl (soy milk, frozen banana, frozen spinach, frozen berries, collagen powder, maca powder) topped with the last of the fresh figs, dried goji berries, cacao nibs, my homemade granola, almonds, and coconut flakes. Ancho steals pieces of almond as I eat. I quickly brush my teeth and gather my things to leave.
Advertisement
8:30 a.m. — On most non-rainy mornings, I ride my bike to work. It's the fastest mode of transportation and I enjoy the exercise. Work is fairly quiet today; I have a few meetings lined up today and a bunch of emails to tackle.
12 p.m. — I bike home for lunch, a quick salad with produce we have in the fridge. I also grab my eBay packages and stop by the post office before biking back to the office. The day is lovely!
6 p.m. — I bike home; my husband is making grain bowls for dinner tonight. He's an excellent chef, and we cook at home most nights. We have all the kitchen gadgets and love learning about food. There's amazing smelling rice cooking in our Zojirushi, and he has five-spice pork loin cooking in our Anova sous-vide rig. I quickly pickle radishes and nibble at the sautéed mushrooms. After we eat dinner and prepare our lunches for tomorrow with the leftovers, we take Ancho out to play.
10:30 p.m. — We watch an episode of American Vandal (my husband pays for Netflix), and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — Snooze through my gym alarm twice, but make it there by 6:15. I'm not feeling very hungry this morning, so once I get home, I just have a big cup of genmaicha tea and my probiotic. Ancho sings through our showers and I get ready for work, then head out on my bike.
Advertisement
10:15 a.m. — Gilt City is offering a voucher to a new restaurant we've been dying to try! I buy it since we were going to eat there anyway. $45
11 a.m. — My mom has an emergency expense come up; I lend her $5,000 from my savings account and she says she'll be able to pay me back in a few weeks. I lent her a much larger sum last year and it took her a year to pay me back (no interest, of course), so I sense I won't get the money back for a little while. I check my accounts and see I will be okay. I've been saving since I was 14! $5,000
5 p.m. — I bike home, still chilly. I've been getting fundraising calls from my undergrad alma mater for weeks and haven't been picking up; I go online and donate $100 to their new financial aid campaign. $100
7 p.m. — I make dinner, play with Ancho, and read — a pretty quiet night. I notice I have Amazon music credits in my account and decide to buy a new album. We go to bed around 11 p.m. $1.49
Daily Total: $5,146.49

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I'm at an offsite for work today and tomorrow, so I need to reload my MetroCard and brave the commuting crowds into Manhattan. I read Commonwealth by Ann Patchett on the ride and am totally engrossed. Walking through the Union Square Greenmarket once I get off the subway is intoxicating; I love the smell of fresh produce. I make it to the offsite early and hooray, there is free breakfast! $26.20
Advertisement
12 p.m. — We break for lunch and it is an amazing catered spread: scallops, steak, a beautiful gourmet salad, creamy pesto pasta, potatoes, roasted vegetables. I overstuff myself and go back for more scallops. I can eat unlimited quantities of free food.
6 p.m. — Our work is done for the day, and we head to a rooftop happy hour with breathtaking views of New York, and more amazing catering! This group of coworkers is fun; I drink several glasses of rosé because the bartender is awesome and the weather is still rosé-lovely. We all gossip for a few hours; I fill up on chicken satay and stuffed mushrooms. I become a stuffed mushroom.
8:30 p.m. — The group is headed to another bar, but I decide to head home to finish up a presentation I need to file by tomorrow. On my way home, I engage in some impulse shopping, inspired by the rosé. I use the PayPal funds from my Sunday night selling to purchase a new sweater, which was $50, but is technically free because I never transferred the funds to my bank account. Once I finish up my presentation around 10, I contentedly fall into bed after taking care of Ancho; husband is at a podcast taping and comes home a bit later.
Daily Total: $26.20

Day Six

5:40 a.m. — I'm a little too tired for the gym this morning so I give myself a break and snooze an extra hour. I usually go five days a week but this week's schedule has thrown me off a bit. Once I'm up and dressed, I take the subway into Manhattan for day two of the offsite; commuters seem especially grumpy this morning.
Advertisement
8:45 a.m. — Free breakfast! Everyone looks extremely hungover and I am regaled with tales of the group's shenanigans: they ended up being filmed for a reality show that was taping at the bar they went to after our “official” happy hour, scarfed down drunk pizza, and had a hot mess of a night. It sounds super fun but I had to finish my presentation!
1 p.m. — Another fantastic catered lunch spread, and I totally overeat again, but no regrets. The food is too good and there is an enormous red velvet cake for dessert. After lunch, I take the subway back to the office to clean up my presentation.
5 p.m. — I definitely need the walk home because I'm still in food catatonia, and I'll save myself the subway fare. Ancho is so glad to see me! I'm still so full from lunch that I can tell I won't want to eat a real dinner meal.
6 p.m. — My mom calls and says we should pick up a tree from her apartment to take to our place; it's an eight-food-tall fiddle leaf and so beautiful, but it doesn't fit her space. We walk to her house and lug it back to our apartment with a hand truck. We already have a fiddle leaf, but it's extremely temperamental, and this one is amazingly healthy.
8 p.m. — Husband and I take the bus to a concert in Williamsburg I bought tickets to a few weeks ago. This performer is an amazing artist and his social anxiety really endears him to me. We have a great time, and don't buy any drinks because it's challenging to go hard two nights in a row. When the concert ends, we take an uberPool home; my husband pays. We crawl into bed a little after midnight.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — I optimistically set my gym alarm last night but it's clear that I am not going to make it, so I get to sleep for another 90 minutes. On my bike to work, I feel totally refreshed. Just needed some cool air and sunshine!
1 p.m. — There's free lunch in the office kitchen left over from an event. I scarf down soggy salad, eat a few nice sandwiches at my desk, then quickly jet home to drop off my bike. I am delighted to receive a $53 check in the mail from my freelance work and immediately mobile deposit it before bidding Ancho adieu, grabbing a bottle of Pinot Noir from our wine cabinet (for an evening event), and walking back to the office.
5:30 p.m. — Husband meets me at my office to take a long walk to Williamsburg for my friend's going-away party in a terrific outdoor space. The weather is still lovely, and we have a great time drinking wine and eating the most incredible cheeseburgers made with dry-aged beef. (My friend and their partner were both butchers.) Husband and I cannot stop raving about the burgers and eat two each, though they are enormous. We discuss the merits of different types of burger buns with my friend and agree that old-fashioned potato rolls are the best option and brioche rolls are overrated. (Fight me!) The party is bittersweet but still a great time.
9:30 p.m. — We stop by one of our favorite wine stores in the area to buy a few biodynamic wines. Wine shopping is hard when you drink a lot of wine, but we need to restock our wine cabinet and this store has a lot of unusual selections. I get a red vinho verde (yeah, I know: an oxymoron) and an unusual Italian wine. $46
Advertisement
10 p.m. — We take the bus home, and undertake the task of removing our AC unit from the window so that we can put it into storage tomorrow morning. We feel pretty accomplished about this, and after playing with Ancho for a little bit, we put him and ourselves to bed.
Daily Total: $46
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.
Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Holiday Spending: We want to know how diarists are prepping for the holiday season, one of the most expensive times from year. Paying for last-minute travel and accommodations? Gifts for family and friends? Let us know here.
We're also looking to hear from single women about money! Take our quick survey here!
Related Video:
talent by Maria Del Russo.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Advertisement