A Week In New York, NY On A $52,000 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.
This week: a coordinator who makes $52,000 per year and spends it at Dylan's Candy Bar.
Occupation: Coordinator
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,300
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $995, pro-rated. I live with my boyfriend, and our full rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,100/month. Our situation is a little weird: He pre-paid our entire rent last year, so I technically pay him a pro-rated rent (the $995) monthly.
Loan Payments: $0
Planet Fitness: $10
Cell Phone: $60
Miscellaneous pet expenses: $15
Hulu: $8. (I only subscribed to this recently so I can watch The Handmaid's Tale.)
Utilities, Sling TV, & Internet: $70.94 for my share. (The total is $141.88 total; my BF pays half.)
Health, Dental, and Vision: $0 (My union pays.)
Transportation: $121 for a monthly MetroCard. The cost is taken out of my paycheck pre-tax.
1 of 8
7:40 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for the day. It's probably not a great habit, but I don't eat breakfast unless there's some left over from an event when I get to work.

9 a.m. — At work and ready to start. I have a workshop every other Monday with a guest speaker, which makes things a little busier than usual. I have to shepherd the guest around, contact AV, and set up the space with the catered food.

10:30 a.m. — There's a student breakfast in the conference room near where I sit. After it ends, I grab a leftover bagel and some cream cheese to squirrel away for lunch.

12 p.m. — Toast my bagel and eat it while reading in the empty conference room.

3:45 p.m. — The caterer arrives. I help him set up the food and drinks and then go downstairs to fetch the speaker. Once he's installed, the event is ready to go, so I get to spend the last hour of the day peacefully at my desk.

5 p.m. — A friend from college is in town and wants to see me and my boyfriend. She and I met in German class, my boyfriend is German, and she's here with her German quasi-boyfriend, whom she met while doing a Fulbright in Germany. So, naturally, we go to a beer hall-like place on campus. Everyone at our table is speaking German except for me — eek. My boyfriend never practices with me; he says that while he's in America, he's in "English mode." Thanks for nothing, man.

5:15 p.m. — I order a beer and a chicken sandwich, but my boyfriend splits the table's bill with my friend's quasi-boyfriend. My boyfriend and I are pretty diligent about splitting expenses, so when he pays, it's because I've paid for something equivalent recently. He has a spreadsheet that catalogues each month, including the rent that I owed him starting out, and any expenses for both of us that I paid myself or that he paid. He'll deduct or add things to my rent accordingly.

6 p.m. — The reason my friend met us near school/work is because we've been invited to a semi-Seder even further uptown. I run into the liquor store next door to the restaurant and pick up a bottle of wine to bring over. $14.14

7:30 p.m. — We briefly show my friend and her German around campus and then head uptown. I thought this semi-Seder was just going to be hanging around and drinking, but no, there are actual Haggadahs, and I sing two and a half of the Four Questions.

10 p.m. — We head home, which is luckily just around the corner. Finally, relaxing in my pajamas. I go to bed around 11:30.

Daily Total: $14.14
2 of 8
7:40 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, and pack up my stuff for school. I'm in a Master's program part-time, so I take classes two nights a week. One of my job's benefits is providing free tuition for up to seven credits a semester. It was one of the big reasons I wanted this job in the first place.

9 a.m. — At work. A friend from college (who is a student at the school where I work) is performing in a student show on Friday, and they remind me that it's coming up. I ask another college friend if she's into it, and she says yes, so I buy two tickets online for me and my boyfriend. The price is kind of ridiculous for a student show, but it includes an open bar. $41

1:30 p.m. — Working at a graduate school has lots of benefits, including free health care, tuition, and, a lot of times, lunch. (Plus breakfast. And drinks.) There are faculty lunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the semester, and if you're like me and have no shame, you can hang around after they end and try to score leftovers. Today, there's enough that I get a nice plate. Yes!

5 p.m. — My boyfriend and I both have class at 7 p.m. tonight, so we meet at 5 p.m. and go to Chipotle for dinner. I order a half-full burrito. $9

5:30 p.m. — It's super nice out, so we go for a walk and pop into a pet store to take a peep at the guinea pigs. We have two of our own and no space for more but we love seeing new ones.

6:30 p.m. — I head back up to campus to go to class. My Tuesday class is a disorganized mess, and I click around on my laptop waiting for it to end. After, I meet up with group members for a class project I'm working on to formulate a plan. We're going to meet again on Thursday night to work on our final project of the semester.

9:45 p.m. — Finally home. I shower and crochet for a bit before passing out.

Daily Total: $50
3 of 8
7:20 a.m. — I wake up, straighten my hair, and get ready for the day. I drop earrings and make a racket but nothing wakes up my boyfriend, who sleeps like the dead.

9 a.m. — Time to start the workday. On Wednesdays, this semester, I've usually been in charge of coordinating two lunch workshops but today it's only one. That's fine; I can still get free food if I wait until 1:30 to snag leftovers.

1:30 p.m. — Leftovers snagged! Today was a southwestern menu and I got chips, guac, and chicken.

5 p.m. — Both of my classes are after 7:00 p.m. this semester, leaving me with an awkward two-hour gap to fill after work ends. Luckily, once a week, my brother cooks me dinner at his apartment, which is down the street from work/school. The deal has always been that he cooks dinner, and I bring dessert. He lives near to Insomnia Cookies, so I stop in and get the nine-pack for me, him, and his husband to split. $10.70

7 p.m. — I leave my brother's place to head to class. It's a snooze fest; I can't wait for the semester to be over.

10 p.m. — Finally get home. I crochet for an hour and then head to bed.

Daily Total: $10.70
4 of 8
7:40 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, head out.

9 a.m. — I'm already hungry; this isn't good. I'm also sleepy but since I don't drink coffee or tea, there's no real remedy.

1:30 p.m. — My body is ready for faculty lunch leftovers, unfortunately, by the time I get inside there's nothing left. Damn those hungry professors! I go down to the student café and buy a yogurt with granola and a hummus-pretzel snack pack, then I read for an hour in the lounge. $7

5 p.m. — None of the group members in my project are free until 7 p.m., so I hang around and entertain myself for another two hours. Today, I go 20 blocks south to a good shopping area and eat dinner at the Whole Foods hot bar: chicken tikka masala, rice, and two mini cookies from the bakery section. $12.13

6:20 p.m. — Michael's doesn't have the yarn I need, and the LOFT dress selection for weddings is nonexistent. (I probably should have known this.) I wind up contemplating a set of four salad and dessert plates at HomeGoods. My boyfriend and I have a motley collection of plates, but I keep putting off buy new ones, thinking we'll just register for a set when we eventually get married. The ones we have are dinner-sized but sometimes you just want a snack and don't need all that space. I realize that I need to stop dithering before I'm late for my group meeting, so I bite the bullet on the plates and head out. $22.81

8:30 p.m. — We stopped working at 7:45 p.m. but sit around and chat for another half an hour. I finally get on the bus, which drops me at the subway, and head home.

9:30 p.m. — Shower, chat with my boyfriend about his day, crochet while watching a later season of Gossip Girl, which is terrible. I don't have to pay attention to it, though, which is useful for crocheting. I straighten my hair and go to bed at 11:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $41.94
5 of 8
7:40 a.m. — Up and at 'em. I get ready and head out.

9 a.m. — I've been asked to cover a coworker's event while she's out, but the only thing I really have to do is argue with someone about whether they've booked the conference room or not.

10:45 a.m. — I'm responsible for another lunch workshop on Fridays, so when the caterer calls to say that he has arrived, I go and help him set up. They always bring way too much food, so I siphon off two half-sandwiches and a mini-brownie for lunch later. It's hard letting food sit right next to me until I deem it a reasonable time for lunch. (12:00 p.m. on the dot.)

1 p.m. — I have two big events this summer: a friend's wedding and a family Bar Mitzvah. I kind of want to buy new dresses for both, but I already own one that could work for either. I browse Nordstrom for a while online and buy two dresses, telling myself I don't have to keep either. (Update from the future: Neither worked, so I sent both back in a later week.) $187

3 p.m. — My dad texts to tell me that ER is playing on TV and that he's watching it, which immediately sets off my nostalgia button. ER is one of my favorite shows and it's not available to stream anywhere. I go on Amazon and order a season of ER on DVD from Amazon, plus two skeins of yarn for my crochet project. $22

5 p.m. — My boyfriend meets me at work, and we head nearby to Amity Hall for dinner. We split a giant pretzel and I have a flatbread for my main. We don't order drinks because my friend's show is tonight, and there's an open bar. We split the bill. $25

6 p.m. — We take a leisurely walk to Rita's Water Ice because it's the perfect day for it. (I'm from the Philadelphia area and water ice is a big deal to us.) On the way, we stop at a furniture store to look at dressers since my boyfriend broke our old one a few weeks ago. It was a Craigslist find from a few years back, and we want a new one, but he wants us to wait on dropping $1,000 for a piece of furniture until after he starts his job in July. The store has really nice wood pieces and the salesman convinces me it's a better deal than West Elm. We take his card and then get our water ices. I pay for my boyfriend because it's the only way he'll agree to have dessert. $9.52

8 p.m. — We head back to campus for the show. My friend meets us there, and we get drinks at the bar. (Our drinks are included with ticket price.) The place is crazy crowded, but the show is pretty good. I'm happy we came because my friend is graduating in May and this is his last performance.

11:30 p.m. — We briefly show another friend around campus and then get a cab home. We live all the way uptown, and I hate taking the creepy elevator at 168th Street at night. The cab is about $20, but my boyfriend pays.

Daily Total: $243.52
6 of 8
7 a.m. — I have no idea why I'm up so early. It's horrible. I play a video game on the Wii for a while. My boyfriend is in his last semester of grad school and only has class twice a week at night, so most days he stays up until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. (or 4 a.m.), and then sleeps in until noon. There's no point trying to wake him up earlier.

11:30 a.m. — He finally wakes up, we get showered, and then discuss the day. There's nothing in the house to eat for breakfast, which is an issue.

1:30 p.m. — By the time we decide what we're doing and get ready to leave, it's late and I'm starving. We're going to the Central Park Zoo because it's such a nice day out, so we head downtown and get lunch at TurnStyle, a food court inside the Columbus Circle subway station. I buy an overpriced grilled cheese. $12

2:30 p.m. — I send a message to our sibling group chat (me, my boyfriend, my brother, and his husband) that we're at TurnStyle. My brother's husband asks me to get my brother a Vanilla Cupcake White Chocolate Bar from Dylan's Candy Bar, which has an outpost here. They're sold four-for-$12 and there are tons of amazing flavors, so I also get bars in the cookie dough, malted milk, and brownie batter flavors. Spoiler alert: The only good one is malted milk. $14

3 p.m. — We finally head to the zoo and take a while walking through the park because the zoo is weirdly sunken and hidden. Tickets are $18 each; my boyfriend pays.

4:40 p.m. — It's a really small zoo and we finish our visit in under two hours. I did get to pet an alpaca, though, so life is good.

5 p.m. — Walk north through the park, past the Great Mall and to Bethesda Fountain, where we witness an elaborate marriage proposal involving a dance group. Not going to lie, it's pretty exciting. There are a bunch of other wedding-related photoshoots happening all around the area.

5:45 p.m. — We walk through the Ramble and see one raccoon in a tree and another in a sewer grate. I thought those things were nocturnal?! A vendor is selling Good Humor bars by the Delacorte Theater; my boyfriend buys himself a popsicle and a Strawberry Shortcake bar for me.

6:30 p.m. — We walk up and around the Jackie O. reservoir, which I've never been to before, and then finally head back out by 96th Street. We take the subway home and stop at the grocery store to get food for dinner: pasta, ground beef, cheese, an onion, black beans, and corn. We plan on producing an amazing dish that I affectionately call "chili cheese beefy mac." Try it; you'll like it. My boyfriend pays for the groceries, which are around $22.

8 p.m. — We cook, open a bottle of wine I bought a few weeks ago, and watch Schitt's Creek while we eat. It's rare for us to find a comedy that we both like, so we've been savoring the two seasons that are available on Netflix. Catherine O'Hara is a treasure.

Daily Total: $26
7 of 8
9:30 a.m. — Blessedly, I sleep in today! I'm still up before my boyfriend, though, so I play on the Wii for an hour. I wake him up at 10:45 for a Formula One race he wanted to watch; it's the only thing that can get him out of bed before 11.

11:30 a.m. — I shower, get dressed, and then go to the grocery store. One of my childhood friends moved 30 blocks away from us in the fall and he's coming over tonight to play board games and hang out. I buy ingredients to make two of my boyfriend's mom's amazing recipes, refried beans and pull-apart bread. I get red kidney beans, an onion, chips, sour cream, canned biscuits, and a bottle of margarita mix. I also get cereal and milk for my breakfast, and a couple of rolls for my boyfriend to put liverwurst on. Yes, it's disgusting, but he's German, and it's what he wants to eat. $30.57

1 p.m. — Boyfriend is watching Formula One. I eat cereal, straighten my hair, and clean up the house to prep for my friend coming over.

4:30 p.m. — We start making the refried beans, which you cook slowly over a low heat in a cast-iron skillet for a couple of hours. I wear Onion goggles to protect my eyes while he cuts and sautés the onions. (The goggles were $7 on Amazon and I recommend them to everyone.) I make the pull-apart bread after we're finished with the beans.

6:30 p.m. — My friend is here! Boyfriend makes us frozen margaritas in our Ninja blender, our Chanukah present from my parents. We play a board game and then Mario Kart on the Wii. My friend leaves around 10:30, and I'm asleep by 11:30.

Daily Total: $30.57
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