A Week In New York, NY On A $75,555 Salary

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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 multimedia senior manager making $75,555 per year who spends it on records.
Occupation: Senior Manager
Industry: Multimedia
Age: 32
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $75,555
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,739
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,100. I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment in a five-flight walk-up.
Student Loan: $67.38, slated to be paid in full by 2018
Debt Consolidation Loan: $337.09
All Other Monthly Expenses
Credit Card Balance: $25
Savings: $75
Storage Unit Upstate: $35
Renter's Insurance: $20.58
Cell Phone: $102.50
Spotify: $9.99
New York Times Digital Subscription: $15
Feminist Sticker Club Subscription: $2.50
Charitable Donations to CAIR, ACLU & Planned Parenthood: $35
iCloud & Google Drive Storage: $4.98
TV & Internet: $60.29/month for Wi-Fi
Netflix, Hulu & HBO Now: $43.29/month (combined)
Utilities: ~$53/month
Health, Vision, Dental & HSA Contribution: $58.54 total (taken out of each paycheck pre-tax)
Transit: $121 monthly MetroCard paid through WageWorks pre-tax from one paycheck per month
401(k) Contribution: $232.48 per paycheck. (8% of income taken out of paycheck pre-tax, up to 6% matched by employer at 100% contribution.)
1 of 8
8:50 a.m. — I inadvertently snooze until 8:50 this morning, even though I set the alarm for 8 a.m. so that I could whip up a quick breakfast and pack lunch for work. I remind myself to do that tonight for tomorrow, even if I'm tired after work, because I'm trying to cut down on the money I spend for work lunches. I hustle to get ready, grab a Kind bar from my kitchen, and just make the 9:39 a.m. train to Midtown. I'm able to get to work right before the lateness cutoff of 10:15 a.m. I eat the Kind bar with a cup of free coffee from the work pantry for breakfast.

1:11 p.m. — I realize I'm hungry and need to get something to eat before my 2 p.m. meeting. I head down to our company's lobby café and pick up a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant, a small bag of almonds and craisins, and an oatmeal cookie for later this afternoon; I eat the first two at my desk while reading today's news. I again remind myself to start making my lunches, as the work café is not subsidized (unlike our building's cafeteria, which I didn't go to because the wait times are usually longer) and can quickly become expensive. I mark the expense in my spending ledger/budget book, which I've been using for about six months. This is what helped me make the decision to both consolidate the debt and get my finances in order by tracking and budgeting them. $12.41

4:24 p.m. — I enjoy the oatmeal cookie as a snack while at my desk and pair it with a small cup of milk from the pantry.

6 p.m. — I leave work en route to Union Square where I'm meeting with friends for our writing group. It's a casual, fun, and supportive group that serves as a great outlet since some of us, myself included, are not in creative fields or positions. On the way over to the pub where we're meeting, I stop at my bank to pick up $60 cash so I don't have to pay fees elsewhere. $60

6:30 p.m. — I meet up with my friends at the pub. We discuss our writing projects, give feedback on each person's piece that they submitted for review, and then enjoy the rest of the time with beers and conversation, including some rigorous political debates. I start off with a pint of Shock Top ($9 with tip), and then have a Guinness later in the evening with our table service. At the end of the night, there's a mix-up with the waiter putting the whole bill on one person's card, and the group doesn't take into account that I only had one additional round while everyone else had two. I don't like being particular in these sort of situations, even though it is my money, so I hand over $25 to help meet the $80-something bill, knowing that my portion of the tab was probably closer to $15. $34

10:30 p.m. — I arrive home and have a leftover slice of pizza on the couch with some water while watching a random movie over my free digital TV antenna. (It's Agnes of God, where Jane Fonda plays a psychiatrist investigating a nun who mysteriously gets pregnant and is accused of murdering her baby. It's amazing and ridiculous.) Despite my earlier self-admonitions, I am too tired to prep meals for tomorrow's workday, so I resolve to try and wake up earlier tomorrow morning.

Daily Total: $106.41
2 of 8
8:45 a.m. — I snooze through my alarms until 8:45 a.m. and then rush to get ready. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease a couple years ago, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, which mainly presents as abnormal amounts of fatigue, high levels of inflammation, and joint stiffness and pain. This morning, I'm feeling both the fatigue and joint stiffness a lot, possibly because it's raining and somewhat humid out, and possibly because I shouldn't have had beer last night, as much as I enjoy it. I'm still able to hustle while getting ready and listen to my morning news podcast, and I make myself a PBJ, bag of pita chips, and an apple for lunch. I wear my running sneakers to support my joints a bit, and I'm out the door and on the subway by 9:37 a.m.

10:10 a.m. — I get to work with time to spare. On the way, I pick up a muffin from a street cart near work. I eat that with a cup of coffee from the work pantry for breakfast. $1.50

10:45 a.m. — My youngest sister is graduating from college soon, and one of the gifts I want to get her is a record I think she'll really like. I order it online and ship it to her apartment, as I don't trust taking it on the flight down to see her. I text her after I order it to let her know to expect a surprise package and to please not open it until we're all together celebrating her graduation soon. I end the text with lots of love, encouragement, and a bunch of emoji hearts. $20.25

2 p.m. — I lose track of time with work. Eventually, I realize it's late and I'm hungry. I break out my “sad desk lunch” that, thanks to some nice Vermont sprouted bread, crunchy natural peanut butter, and black cherry jam, isn't the saddest I've ever had. I eat the sandwich and nosh on pita chips while doing more work and intermittently browsing the news.

2:10 p.m. — During lunch, I read that a band I enjoy is doing a pre-release bundle of their old and latest LPs. I debate the cost, especially as I want to save some money for Record Store Day, but then decide to go ahead and purchase. I'll try and save money elsewhere this week. $25

5:30 p.m. — I walk from work to my therapist. Even though I get great PPO coverage through my employer, it can still be a hassle getting full coverage of my mental-health expenses. It's taught me to advocate for myself in ways I didn't do to as a younger adult, but things still surprise me, like this new balance with my therapist I learn about today. Apparently, my out-of-network deductible has increased, so despite the weekly co-pays, I'm still on the hook for $600 that my insurance refuses to disburse for two months. I have that amount in my HSA, thankfully, so I use that to pay it off. With that day's payment for our session, which was a double, it's a whopping $680 visit. I pay the remaining $80 out of pocket via Venmo. $80

8:30 p.m. — I get home after therapy and turn on the hockey game. I grab a leftover slice of pizza from the fridge and cut up some carrot sticks. I make a mental note to go grocery shopping tomorrow for the weekend. And, unlike the night before, I prep a lunch for myself for tomorrow while waiting for the third period of the game to start. I also manage to clean the dishes, do some exercises on my yoga mat, and chill with some tea before bed at 11:30. All in all, a good evening (plus, my team won!).

Daily Total: $126.75
3 of 8
8:40 a.m. — Well, I guess this is just when my body wants me to wake up now. I get ready after repeatedly snoozing, realizing all the while the joint pain from yesterday is now a bit worse. Luckily, I'm able to multitask while listening to the news, and I prepare and pack two whole-wheat English muffins with swipes of butter and honey in addition to the lunch I packed last night. Not even a severe subway delay can get me too down. I make it to work on time and have breakfast with another cup of coffee from the pantry as my inbox explodes.

2 p.m. — It's an insane work day; all emails seem to be emergencies or time sensitive. I finally catch a breath and eat my not-so-sad PBJ. I walk to the pantry to get more water and to try and un-stiffen my knees, which have been bad today. I make a mental note to take an Aleve when I'm home and do more stretching tonight. I'm proud, however, that I've at least managed to lower my spending for today by eating two meals from home, even if they were eaten in a huff at my desk.

3 p.m. — While working through my inbox, I eat some of the pita chips I brought with lunch. At 3:30, I block off a meeting on my work calendar, shut my door, and call my insurance company to ask about reimbursement for the $600 I paid my therapist, how to reimburse myself using the HSA, and how to and submit a claim from a new therapist, who is replacing my beloved current one who is leaving the city. All of this is a mix of good and bad, but I feel good about being proactive. I end the call by asking to speak to a manager about a previous service rep I worked with who was amazing and helped guide me through some seriously complicated healthcare claims; I leave a glowing commendation and then get back to work.

5 p.m. — It's almost the end of the day, thank goodness. I write a little shopping list for post-work groceries and household items and eat an apple I brought to work the other day.

6 p.m. — I leave work and decide to walk the 21 blocks downtown to where I'll be shopping. It's gray but mild out, and I can use the time to stretch my legs/joints. First, I pick up potting soil and pots for some herbs I recently planted on my apartment windowsill; they are growing and in need of bigger real estate. I debate buying nicer-looking ceramic pots at $5 per, but then I realize they'll be heavier to carry and too expensive. I buy some plastic pots with matching saucers instead. I do, however, impulse-buy a little potted plant ($3.98) because like every other harried New Yorker in the gardening section, I'm ecstatic about the warmer weather and want to pretend I have a green thumb to match. I pay and walk around the corner to the grocery store. $25.45

7 p.m. — I shop and try to stick to my list. I'm attempting a ratatouille for dinner, something I've never made before but which sounds fun and healthy. I pick up produce and add some delicacies en route to the cashier, including sharp-cheddar pub cheese, chips, and dark chocolate. I also add a couple bouquets of fresh flowers that are on sale at $3.99 each, which I find reasonable and cheerful. When I start to leave the store, I realize the cart I'm pushing is a lot less work than lugging everything in two big paper bags onto the subway. I dread the five flights that stand between me and my apartment. $68.06

8:15 p.m. — I make it up the stairs, cursing at just about every flight. I rip off my outer layers since I'm covered in sweat, and put on tonight's hockey game for background noise as I put away the groceries. My team isn't playing tonight anyway. I wash and chop all the ingredients and get the ratatouille assembled.

11 p.m. — I did not anticipate ratatouille taking this long, but it was worth it! It was a fun experiment, super tasty, and healthy to boot. I even used a mandolin slicer without losing any of my fingers. Plus, now I have dinner for Sunday (I'm eating dinner tomorrow with a friend), and probably lunch or dinner for the next few days, too. While the ratatouille is cooking, I wash the dishes, put the fresh flowers in vases, and nosh on leftover buttered panettone. I serve myself the ratatouille with ricotta cheese, watch the game (which has gone into overtime), and collapse into bed.

Daily Total: $93.51
4 of 8
9:45 a.m. — I wake up at my alarm, but fatigue on the weekends has been a problem lately, and I decide to let myself take some much-needed rest until 11 a.m. I get up, put on a record, and make a breakfast of coffee, cereal with banana, and a hard-boiled egg.

1 p.m. — Happy Record Store Day! Last night, I debated whether or not I wanted to get to a shop super early to score some of the limited releases, but today, I decide to relax. I don't leave the apartment until around 1. I pack a water bottle and granola bar and head downtown, accidentally leaving my meticulous album release list in my bed.

2 p.m. — After picking up $80 in cash from my bank to attempt a self-imposed cash budget, I stop at Second Hand Rose, an incredible shop near The Strand that I've never visited before, despite walking past it for probably more than a decade. I'm so glad I do now. I find a ton of fun stuff and am eager to come back again and again. I purchase two albums and six 45s. I fork over the cash and chat with the amiable clerk for a bit before leaving for Turntable Lab around the corner. I spent almost my entire cash budget at the first store, which is more than I intended, but hell, it's Record Store Day, and I'm excited and happy to support a local business. $78.94

2:30 p.m. — There's a block-long line wrapping around the corner of 10th Street for entrance into Turntable Lab. I have a couple of hours to kill before I meet up with a friend, so I decide to wait it out since the line seems to be moving. Turntable Lab has line-sitters fill out order lists while they wait, which is great. Once you get inside, your order will have been pulled from inventory and packed for you. I take a call from a friend, read this week's New Yorker, and eat my granola bar with the water I packed.

6:30 p.m. — I end up spending more than three hours (!!) on line as it inches along 10th Street. Turntable does have a great line system, but I don't think they accounted for all the people who'd take their time browsing inside. It wasn't the greatest use of my time, but I'm excited to see that some of the albums I wanted to purchase are still available, including a rare release I wanted to get a friend as a birthday gift ($15.95). I pay, pack up my free record tote and records (four LPs for me, one for my friend), and head to pick up wine and meet my friend at her apartment in Brooklyn instead of in the city. $115.37

6:45 p.m. — I stop at Astor Place Wine and quickly choose a bottle of Italian red that is recommended by the staff. Seems reasonable at $19. I pay with cash and briskly walk over to the downtown subway. $21.73

1:30 a.m. — It's a fantastic evening with friends, full of good food and lots of laughter. It runs late, but I'm having too much fun to care much. I hail a cab and enjoy the city skyline as I head back home across the river. I tip my standard 20% for the cab driver and groan mentally at facing the stairs in my building. The five flights aren't the best when I'm inebriated, but I manage it and fall into bed with my makeup still on. $47.16

Daily Total: $263.20
5 of 8
11 a.m. — It's easy to sleep in after such a late, wine-filled night. I make myself a light breakfast of cereal and milk and resolve to stay in today to save money.

12 p.m. — I enjoy a restful Sunday, noshing on some chips and cheese for a light lunch, taking a nap, listening to my new records, and planting the herbs into larger containers. I realize that each of the containers I bought may only be able to house one seedling, so I make note to buy a few more of the cheap plastic containers, as well as a trowel. I used a cooking ladle as a makeshift one and that seems less-than-ideal. I make biscuits from a mix I recently bought, watch some hockey, and eat leftover ratatouille with ricotta cheese for dinner.

8:30 p.m. — I watch a movie on HBO Now instead of renting via iTunes to save some money. I'm in bed a bit later than I intended to because of the movie, about 12:30 a.m., but I'm able to fall asleep right away.

Daily Total: $0
6 of 8
8:50 a.m. — Whoops: another morning, another snooze fest. This time, however, it burns me. I quickly start my usual multitasking routine of listening to a news podcast, taking a quick shower, doing my makeup, air-drying my hair, and hurriedly whipping up and bagging breakfast and lunch for work. Thanks to a public transit meltdown, my subway platform is five-people deep with substantial delays. I hop on the other line at my station and make it to work via another subway transfer by 10:20 a.m., a bit late. I get settled in, have cereal with milk from the pantry and a cup of coffee while at my desk, and begin working through my inbox.

11:35 a.m. — I quickly check my bank account, a now-daily practice I instituted some six months ago when I decided to really invest in my financial health. I see a $120 charge for an auto-enrollment subscription to which I haven't agreed. I jot down a note to call my bank and the company at lunchtime.

1:45 p.m. — I pull up some news on my computer and eat my PBJ, biscuit, and banana at my desk. While on break, I also file and receive approval for a refund on the $120, schedule an annual physical with one of my doctors, and request a new-patient appointment with a rheumatologist. I'm hoping to get a second opinion and see whether I can tackle these health issues in a holistic but aggressive way to get back to feeling 100%. Luckily, I'm having a pretty good joint day after being out and about for most of the weekend.

5:45 p.m. — I'm able to get out of work relatively early after a slow day, and I head home to relax. I have leftover ratatouille with ricotta cheese, some carrot sticks, and later on some crackers and pub cheese as I watch the news. I watch a Netflix documentary and am tired enough to be in bed asleep by 11 p.m.

Daily Total: $0
7 of 8
8:45 a.m. — Up and at 'em! A little bit late for work, but I'm able to pack and bring both breakfast and lunch to work again, which is a financial win.

10:20 a.m. — As I get settled and start consuming my cereal with milk and pantry-coffee, I get a text from a friend letting me know that two bands we adore have announced their concert dates. He's in a meeting, so I pick up tickets for both of us to one of the concerts. I keep an eye on the other concert posting, which isn't yet on sale. He'll pay me back when we see each another later in the week. $64.60

11:01 a.m. — It's payday! I check my bank account and enter the paycheck into my spending ledger, as well as the next two weeks' worth of bills. The practice is one I've been doing since I bought the ledger and started budgeting six months ago, and I'm finding it's helping me plan accordingly and not be surprised by bills, something that used to happen more often than I'd like to admit.

1:45 p.m. — While reading the news at my desk, I have my sandwich (rosemary ham and Swiss cheese) and a chocolate-chip cookie our lovely intern baked as part of her goodbye tour. Both are delicious and cost-saving!

2:15 p.m. — I sign onto my insurance account online and submit the invoice my therapist gave me for the $600 I paid her out of pocket. I also check in on the reimbursement requests that the wonderful UHC rep helped me with a few weeks ago. They're for a total of $960 that I paid out of pocket over the course of three months to see my nutritionist. UHC's claims processors initially fought me hard on those, despite my being diagnosed with an eating disorder some years ago. Because I still owe my nutritionist from when my insurance wasn't covering our visits earlier this year, it will be a big help to have that reimbursed. (Right now, my weekly $80 sliding-scale payments to her are going to back-pay those sessions.)

4 p.m. — I text a friend to confirm plans for dinner tomorrow night after work. It will be great to see her since it's been a little while, and I also know we're on similar budgets, so we never have an issue deciding on restaurants. It can be super easy to blow a lot of money — $50-$70 — on meals and drinks out in NYC.

4:30 p.m. — I snack on a green apple I brought from home while doing work and listening to some music.

6 p.m. — I take the subway from the office downtown to my nutritionist in the pouring rain. Thankfully, my trusty Duane Reade umbrella holds up, and my session with her is a fantastic one. I Venmo her my $80 co-pay and head out. Despite the rain, I enjoy a walk further downtown to pick up a prescription and grocery shop. It helps clear my brain, and by the time I reach the store, the rain has let up. $80

7 p.m. — I pick up my prescription at CVS. My plan covers it at 100%, so there's no co-pay, which is great. I also pick up some film there, as I want to start using my camera again, something I haven't done since college. I have a miscommunication with the cashier since they keep film behind the counter: I mean to ask for the three-pack of film but she hands me one roll. Once she says it's almost $10, I realize the mistake is a blessing in disguise, and I make a mental note to research film prices online in the future. $9.79

7:30 p.m. — I cross the street and pick up some groceries to try out a family cookie recipe. I get a few basic staples — eggs, butter, milk, and baking powder — since the majority of the ingredients I need are already stocked in my apartment's little pantry. I add some frozen waffles for weekend breakfast and garlic for a pasta I plan to cook later this week. Then I retrace my steps and take the express train back uptown toward home. $31.74

8:30 p.m. — Another evening, another ratatouille and ricotta cheese dinner. Surprisingly, I'm not sick of it yet! The flavors are holding up nicely and with a homemade biscuit, it's a filling meal. I curl up and watch an alarming documentary on PBS about a nuclear accident in Arkansas the '80s, and I'm in bed by 11.

Daily Total: $186.13
8 of 8
Weekly Total $$ Spent: $776
Food & Drink: $169.44
Entertainment: $293.70
Home & Health: $185.45
Clothes & Beauty $0
Transportation $47.16
Other $80.25

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