A Week In New York, NY On A $53,000 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: an advertising account executive making $53,000 a year and spending it on birthday parties.
Occupation: Account Executive
Industry: Advertising
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $53,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,427.63
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,450 for my share of the rent. I live in downtown Manhattan with my two childhood best friends.
Loan Payments: $0. I paid off my student loan balance last month!
Advertisement
All Other Monthly Expenses
Utilities: ~$40, split with my roommates
Renter's Insurance: $5 through Lemonade
401(k) Contribution: This is taken automatically out of my paychecks pretax, and my employer matches up to 4%.
Health Insurance: $0. Still on Mom and Dad's plan. The gravy train ends when I turn 26.
Dental and Vision: $7 on my employer's plan, taken out of my paycheck pre-tax.
Phone Bill: $0. I'm on my parents' family plan.
Spotify Premium: $9.99. I mooch off my parents for Netflix and Comcast.
Gym Membership: $150 for monthly dues at my kickboxing gym.
1 of 8

Day One



8 a.m. — Use an old MetroCard to take the subway uptown for my 9 a.m. doctor's appointment. I don't have an unlimited card because I've been relying on awesome Uber flat-fare deals to get around for the past few months.

8:45 a.m. — I'm early for my appointment. I kill time at the coffee shop next door and buy a water bottle to alleviate my guilt about taking up one of their tables. No food or coffee allowed, since I'm getting blood work done this morning. $2.11

9.45 a.m. — I make myself a free coffee at my office while munching on free chocolate animal crackers. I'm really good about not spending money on unnecessary coffee runs. Five dollars for coffee is highway robbery in my opinion, and it can add up so quickly.

12:30 p.m. — Realize that I left my lunch at home. Also realize that a recent weekend getaway and an overwhelming amount of friends' birthdays have literally doubled my credit card bill. I do the responsible/pathetic thing and skip Seamless. Instead, I make oatmeal mixed with fresh fruit from the office stash. Ugh.

3:30 p.m. — I make myself another coffee and eat some snacks scrounged from around the kitchen: a handful of almonds and a clementine. Thank god for office food.

6:30 p.m. — Grab a subway all the way down to the Financial District, where I'm meeting someone for a first date at 7 p.m. I try to protect my hair from rain drizzle but fail miserably.

12:30 p.m. — My date was generous enough to pick up the tab for dinner and drinks, so I don't feel too bad about taking a long cab ride home. This first date went really well, and I'm already looking forward to a second one! $22.40

Daily Total: $24.51
2 of 8
8:30 a.m. — I wake up late and feeling suspiciously okay despite the multiple tequila-sodas I had last night. Maybe I'm still drunk? The subway is nightmarishly crowded, and I end up sneaking into work 15 minutes late.

10 a.m. — There you are, hangover! I'm already on my third office coffee and white-knuckling it through the nauseous phase of what's sure to be a very long day...

12:30 p.m. — I eat yesterday's forgotten lunch today: sautéed kale and mushrooms, salmon, and half of a baked sweet potato. I'm trying to eat healthy this week to prepare myself for the back-to-back-to-back birthdays this weekend.

6:20 p.m. — Head out of work a little early to make a 7 p.m. kickboxing class downtown. My membership is definitely a splurge, but it's an incredible workout that I really enjoy. I reason that if I go to at least four classes a week, it's worth the $150/month price tag.

8 p.m. — Truth be told, I was dreading kickboxing with a hangover, but I actually feel so much better now! I speed-walk the mile home feeling more energized than I have all day.

8:30 p.m. — I originally planned to make a quick dinner of sautéed kale, black beans, and quinoa, but I'm crunched for time. Instead, I down a can of V8 and jump in the shower.

9:20 p.m. — I have another date tonight. (I'm recently single; don't judge.) I resist the urge to cancel and take an Uber to Gramercy to meet him for drinks. I plan on making it an early night. $10.99

12:45 a.m. — So much for "early night." I jump in an Uber and head back downtown way later than I expected. On the bright side, I really enjoyed this date, too! I'm absolutely starving at this point, so I raid my fridge and eat some baked salmon on whole wheat toast before collapsing into bed. $10.79

Daily Total: $21.78
Advertisement
3 of 8

Day Three



8:15 a.m. — I'm super tired today, but at least I'm not hungover. I jump on the train and get into the office before everyone else, which makes me feel better about my late start and early exit yesterday.

10 a.m. — Make my second coffee of the morning in the office kitchen and grab a handful of chocolate animal crackers from the big container on the counter. So good!

1:30 p.m. — Two late nights in a row means no time to prep and bring a lunch today, so I order a big kale salad through Seamless. I can't ever finish the full bowl, so I always eat half day-of and save the second half in the fridge for lunch the next day. $11.46

7 p.m. — I should take the subway home, but I'm tired, and it's really gross outside. I take an Uber Pool instead and then make myself a quinoa, spinach, and avocado bowl for dinner. $7.08

9:45 p.m. — I promised myself I'd go to bed early tonight, but I'm weirdly energetic. I make a spur-of-the-moment decision to meet up with my date from Day 1 for drinks and bar food, so I jump into an Uber downtown. $10.99

11:30 p.m. — My date keeps picking up the tab, so I literally wrestle the bill away from him at the second spot we visit and insist on paying for our drinks. $35.94

12:45 a.m. — I Uber back home after a great second date. I know I'll pay for this with more tiredness tomorrow, but at the moment, I don't really care. $9.87

Daily Total: $75.34
4 of 8

Day Four



8:15 a.m. — I take the subway to work, yawning the whole time, and try to steel myself for the birthday madness that kicks off tonight.

9:30 a.m. — My bimonthly paycheck hits this morning. I look at my checking account balance sadly for a few minutes. I'm really going to have to be more responsible next month.

11:30 a.m. — More animal crackers!

2 p.m. — My boss pulled me into an unexpected meeting so I'm just eating lunch now. I've got coffee jitters and I'm not really hungry, but I eat the second half of yesterday's kale salad anyways.

5:30 p.m. — I pick up a package from Zara after leaving work. It's way bigger than I expected and I don't want to drag it on the subway, so I UberPool home. $5.65

8 p.m. — I pass on kickboxing in favor of a quick nap and a light dinner of sautéed kale, beans, eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

10:30 p.m. — I Uber to the cocktail lounge where Birthday No. 1 is going down. Thankfully, it's close to my apartment. I try to buy myself and the birthday girl a drink, but she's being inundated with shots already and I keep getting drinks handed to me. $11.38

2:30 a.m. — I never get to buy the birthday girl a drink, but I do ask her to meet up for dinner next week so I can treat her. I Uber home later than I wanted, but it was a fun night! $11.90

Daily Total: $28.93
5 of 8

Day Five



11:30 a.m. — Today's brutal hangover makes the last one feel like a walk in the park. But today is my best friend's birthday, and I. Will. Make. It.

1 p.m. — I live with my two best friends, and another good friend of ours is staying with us for the weekend. The four of us split an Uber to the location for Birthday No. 2, a bottomless brunch in the West Village. My friends keep giving me nervous side-eyes and asking if I'm okay. I nod and smile. I don't trust myself to open my mouth. $3.05

2 p.m. — The first hour of brunch was extremely rough, but a Bloody Mary and several mimosas have semi-restored me. I have a fried chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries for my main, and it's delicious.

3:30 p.m. — We get the check for brunch and our tab comes out to almost $800. Rather than deal with the hassle of trying to sort it out among 15 people, the birthday girl puts it on her card. We decide she'll Venmo us all our share (plus a little extra to cover hers, at our insistence) later. We walk to a biergarten around the corner to continue the birthday celebrations.

5 p.m. — I hold it together for a bit, but by the time 5 p.m. rolls around, I'm crashing hard. I apologize to the birthday girl and take an Uber back to our apartment. $14.34

5:30 p.m. — I have an odd habit of going to the local supermarket when I'm tipsy and buying a random assortment of food. This time, it's a box of spaghetti, tomato sauce, a bag of Lay's chips, and a loaf of French bread. I go home, eat myself into a food coma, and then pass out in bed. $5.16

11 p.m. — Wake up feeling extremely disoriented. I get up for some water and check the apartment. Birthday Girl No. 2 is in bed, and clearly not continuing the party through the evening. I decide to silence my phone and call it a night.

Daily Total: $22.55
6 of 8

Day Six



8:30 a.m. — I wake up super early, feeling refreshed from my sleep marathon. Both of my roomies and our weekend guest are up, too, so we decide to take a walk around the city before our respective brunch plans. We pop into a coffee shop, and I grab a small hot chocolate. $2.77

10:30 a.m. — We end up at a trendy little matcha shop in SoHo that our guest has been dying to try. She buys lavender matcha ice cream and a piece of matcha banana bread and generously shares. I nibble at it and then call an Uber to get to my final birthday brunch of the weekend. $7.85

12:30 p.m. — This birthday brunch is much more low-key than yesterday's, thank god. I order eggs Benedict and a Bloody Mary, along with truffle fries and cheesy grits for the table. The birthday girl insists on splitting the check with us, so the damage to my credit card isn't bad at all. $36

2 p.m. — Birthday Girl No. 3 is in the mood for another drink, so we move to a sunny rooftop bar next door. This time, I absolutely refuse to let her pay, and plunk down my card for her drinks. $35

3:30 p.m. — During brunch, one of the girls tells me about a new car service app that's way cheaper than Uber. I decide to test it out on my way home, and my ride costs less than $7. I'm pumped! $6.48

4 p.m. — Another tipsy supermarket run. My two favorite childhood cereals are on sale, so I grab a box of Lucky Charms and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, along with more French bread. All aboard the Hot Mess Express! $6.55

5 p.m. — At some point, while eating three bowls of cereal and half a box of spaghetti with tomato sauce, I check my Venmo and see that Birthday Girl No. 2 has charged me for my portion of yesterday's brunch. I approve the charge, and then move on to the French bread. $56

7 p.m. — Everyone's been telling me about an amazing new show, Big Little Lies, so I log into my parents' Comcast Xfinity account and start on Episode 1. I'm hooked after 10 minutes and decide not to leave bed for the rest of the night. I rarely indulge in TV binges, so this feels awesome.

Daily Total: $150.65
7 of 8
7 a.m. — I wake up feeling more human than I have all week. I consider taking the subway to work, but remember that I have two large packages of clothes to return to stores near my office. I check my new car service app and I'm thrilled to see that it's only $5 (plus tax) to get a ride all the way uptown. $5.44

10:30 a.m. — Sip on my second office coffee and eat some almonds while browsing online for gift ideas. My best friend's actual birthday is on Wednesday, so we're taking her out to dinner and getting her a joint gift. No decisions made yet, though.

1 p.m. — I eat the lunch I brought from home today: sautéed kale, mushrooms, tomatoes, and two eggs — standard fare. I'll need to go grocery shopping tonight to replenish my fridge.

3:30 p.m. — I sneak out of work for an hour to return my online clothes purchases and get $260.36 back.

6:30 p.m. — Take a car home semi-early so I can make an 8 p.m. kickboxing class. I haven't gone since last week and feel guilty about not using it. $5.44

7 p.m. — I decide to knock out grocery shopping before kickboxing. I grab kale, mushrooms, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, black beans, a couple bags of frozen mixed vegetables, and fresh salmon. $31.07

7:45 p.m. — I'm early to class, so I stop by the CVS next door to pick up a water bottle and some self-care essentials: primer, shampoo, conditioner, a hair masque, and straightening balm. I have $11 in CVS Extra Bucks on my last receipt, so the damage isn't too bad. $22.89

9:45 p.m. — I shower and then eat a late dinner of quinoa, black beans, and mixed veggies. I make extra so that I can bring the leftovers to work for lunch tomorrow.

10:30 p.m. — I'm tired but determined to squeeze in another episode of Big Little Lies before I fall asleep. I decide I'm in love with Alexander Skarsgard, even though he plays an absolute monster, and then promptly pass out.

Daily Total: $64.84
8 of 8
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 around two topics:

Mothers: Are you a single mom, expecting your first, raising a toddler? We want to hear how you spend your money!

Women in Debt: Are you paying off credit cards, a big student loan bill, a monthly mortgage? Tell us how you make your money work for you!

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Submit it to us here.
Advertisement