A Week In Northern New Jersey On An $82,400 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.
Today: a UX designer who makes $82,400 per year. She spends some of her money this week on Kenzo boots and a burger.
Occupation: Lead User Experience Designer
Industry: Product Design
Age: 27
Location: Northern New Jersey
Salary: $82,400
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,500, split evenly with my partner/significant other who lives with me. The rent for our one-bedroom apartment is very affordable compared to other places in our area.
Student Loans: $420
Car Payment: $200
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All Other Monthly Expenses
Deductions: ~$950 is deducted from my paycheck for taxes, health insurance, accident insurance, retirement (12% in a 401(k) and a 6% company match), and life insurance
Utilities: ~$70 in the winter (split evenly)
Cable & Internet: $160 (split evenly)
Investments: $80
Car Insurance: $120
Savings: I am trying to save at LEAST $200/month into a travel and emergency fund. I also put whatever I feel comfortable with at the end of each month to another savings account.
Credit Card Debt: ~$400 total between a few cards. I had a lot of debt from college and my early 20s when I wasn't very responsible with money. I had a second job the past few years, and that income was used to get this balance down a lot.
Therapy: $30-$60, depending on how often I go that month.
Spa Membership: $80 for acupuncture and massages; self-care is important.
Spotify, Netflix, Hulu & HBO Now: $43
Charitable Donations: $25 to our local Planned Parenthood and $10 to WNYC

Day One

5:30 a.m. — One of my cats (I have two) wakes me up around this time almost every day. He wants to aggressively snuggle and communicates that with head butts and loud purring. I am able to fall back asleep because the cat chooses to headbutt my partner, A., instead of me.
6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hit snooze until 7. Oops. This Monday is a little rough because we stayed at our friends' apartment in Hoboken over the weekend. We were up until 3 a.m. on Saturday and drank a lot of champagne and wine. I obviously haven't recovered from the late night yet. Am I getting old? I finally get ready at 7. I skip breakfast — a bad habit that I really want to break in 2018. I am never hungry in the morning but I would be better off eating something anyway. A. makes me a coffee and puts it in my travel mug, which I grab before leaving for work at 8:30.
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9 a.m. — I am at my desk by 9 because my commute to work is very easy; it takes about 20 minutes max. I get settled, check my agenda for the week, and start emailing clients to check in. I wear a lot of hats at my company, I am the lead user experience designer, manage all ongoing UX projects, and some user research programs. Last week was busy and full of deadlines and I'm thankful this week is a little less hectic.
12 p.m. — I'm starving (I need to start eating breakfast) and instead of getting a healthy salad, I give into my craving for carbs and order pad Thai. The Thai place I usually order from is a short drive away and their lunch special is a great deal. (I work in a stuffy suburban town where a mediocre sandwich from the deli costs around $14. It is ridiculous.) I drive 10 minutes to an ATM to withdraw $40 cash (ATM fee is $3), then I pick up the order ($8.53) and chat with the lady for a bit. Back at the office, I eat my side salad and half of the pad Thai at my desk while reading this week's Money Diary. $11.53
2 p.m. — I have a case of the Mondays and can't focus for too long. I raid our office kitchen (it is always stocked with free snacks) for something sweet. I settle with a handful of pub mix and a can of Coke Zero before getting back to work.
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6 p.m. — We had meeting after meeting all afternoon so I am a bit burnt out. I decide to call it a day and leave the office. I stop at Whole Foods on the way home for a few groceries so I don't order any more pad Thai for lunch this week. I get baby spring mix, romaine hearts, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, avocados, red onions, cauliflower, a bag of pepitas, two boxes of granola cereal (a request from A.), hemp milk, green tea, and mini chocolate cookies. I hate Whole Foods' prices but it is close to my house and the convenience is worth it. $45.58
7 p.m. — I do a load of laundry, watch some Bravo, and wait for A. to get home from work. I make salads with the groceries and pantry items. A. usually cooks dinner but I've been trying to share the dinner responsibilities lately! We watch the "Milk Money" episode of Rotten on Netflix and then the new episode of Vanderpump Rules. We can't get enough of VPR and I love that I got A. hooked on a silly reality show. We laugh out loud at James Kennedy the whole episode.
10:30 p.m. — I get in bed and work on the NYT crossword puzzle on the app. I probably shouldn't do this before bed but it's nice bonding time for us after a long workday.
Daily Total: $57.11

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hit snooze until 6:30. At 6:30, I put on music and I lay in bed looking at my phone. A. gets up to go to the gym while warning me to get to work early so I can leave early before it starts snowing this evening. I ignore this warning. I finally get out of bed around 7:20, put on Up First, and get ready for work.
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9 a.m. — It was lightly snowing on the way to work. At the office, I make myself a coffee and put hot water in a hot water bottle I keep at my desk. I use one at work all of the time, either for cramps or just to keep warm. (My office is freezing.)
9:30 a.m. — A. got me Kenzo sneakers for Christmas but they are too big so we plan on returning them. I take a break from work emails and browse the Kenzo website. I have been eyeing the Totem Flat Booties which are 50% off right now but my size isn't in stock. I sign up for a stock alert email.
12:30 p.m. — I heat up the second half of my pad Thai for lunch and grab a bag of Sun Chips from our office snack cabinet. I'm back on the Kenzo website. I convince myself that I should go for the heeled boots instead of the flat while they are on sale. Free shipping and the fact that we are returning the sneakers soften the blow. $228
1 p.m. — We need a new voice recorder for work, so I buy two on Amazon Prime that have the best reviews. ($135 expensed)
1:30 p.m. — I'm feeling groggy and unmotivated. I decide to leave the office and take a very cold but short walk to a coffee shop for a chai latte. The walk and the latte make me feel better. $3.46
5:45 p.m. — I try to leave work but end up talking to my boss for 30 minutes about workshop and speaker topics for an upcoming conference.
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6:45 p.m. — At home, I play with the cats, do some chores, and make another big salad for dinner. I put on music and start writing my submission for conference speaker. When A. gets home, I stop working and we watch TV and talk until bedtime.
10:15 p.m. — A, and I get in bed but do not go to sleep until 11 due to long overdue quality time... It's hard to find time to be intimate when you are mentally exhausted from work, the news, family drama, and life overall. This is something we agreed to work on in 2018.
Daily Total: $231.46

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — We wake up to a light snow storm and I hit snooze once. We lay in bed with the cats until 7:30, snoozing and chatting. I already know I'll be late this morning so I text a few people to warn them that I'll be in at 9:30. After getting ready, I make a salad for lunch and pour coffee in my to-go cup. A. cleans snow off my car (what a gem) while I bundle up for the weather.
9:30 a.m. — The drive to the office was easy because the roads are fairly clear. Someone brought in a giant container of chocolate chip cookies and I help myself to two. These will be gone by lunchtime in my office.
12 p.m. — I have a 12 o'clock meeting on Wednesdays so I grab the container of pub mix in our kitchen and bring it to the conference room to snack on. After the meeting, I offer to walk the office dog and we go for a chilly walk around the block in the snow. It is a nice mental break.
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1:50 p.m. — I scarf down the salad I brought to work before a 2 o'clock meeting. The salad is really unsatisfying so I eat another chocolate chip cookie — the last one!
6 p.m. — I leave the office after A. calls to say he is working late tonight, meaning I'm on my own for dinner. On my way home, I stop to pick up an order of pierogis from a new Polish restaurant in my town. I need comfort food in this weather. $6.23
7:30 p.m. — Spend the rest of the night finishing the conference speaker submission and a thought leadership article for my company. A. and I jump into bed around 10.
Daily Total: $6.23

Day Four

9 a.m. — I woke up late again today so I don't leave the house until 9.
11:45 a.m. — We have an internal lunch meeting so my boss asks me to grab lunch for the team in the meeting. I order hot subs from the Italian deli and pay with my company card.
2 p.m. — I received an invitation to a black-tie fundraiser event in the mail, which is exciting because I designed the invites for the host nonprofit organization. It looks great! I have been volunteering for them for five years now by offering my graphic design skills pro bono. I text A. and ask if he wants to buy us two tickets because his company might expense the event.
3:45 p.m. — Snacktime. I raid the kitchen for a handful of candied pecans and a bag of Sun Chips. Free snacks are crucial.
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7 p.m. — Today was crazy busy. I finally call it quits at 7. I meet A. at home and we decide to get cocktails at a restaurant we haven't been to in a while. I order a delicious blood orange fizz cocktail. Since I've been eating salads, I go for a burger but it comes overcooked and I immediately regret my choice. A. pays the bill ($77.05) but puts it on Splitwise, which we usually settle at the end of each month if it is not even. $38.53
9 p.m. — We're home by 9 and I immediately get ready for bed. I'm exhausted.
Daily Total: $38.53

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I get up a decent time today. Get ready for work, eat a bowl of cereal with hemp milk, and take my time getting to the office.
9 a.m. — I get to work on time and put on headphones so I can get to work. I have two presentations to get out today and want to finish them by the early afternoon because I have meetings.
12 p.m. — I go for a walk during lunch. It helps me focus to get fresh air and move throughout the day. I can't sit too long. I grab hummus and chips from the office kitchen afterward.
5:30 p.m. — Today was another busy afternoon full of calls and meetings so I bounce at 5:30 after my last meeting.
6 p.m. — A. isn't hungry when he gets home so we both snack on things we already have. I make avocado toast and eat tortilla chips with salsa. This is common on Friday nights for us; we rarely feel like making meals at the end of the work week. We open a bottle of wine and watch the last episode of Rotten.
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11 p.m. — Time for bed. Tomorrow is the Women's March on New Jersey in our town. I am excited to see how many people show up. Our town is full of activists and social justice organizations so it is a great venue for this event.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7 a.m. — Up early to get ready to go to a fundraiser breakfast for Mikie Sherrill, a badass woman running for Congress in New Jersey District 11. We donated to her campaign a few weeks ago to secure tickets to this brunch. Since moving to this area five years ago, I have become more informed and involved with local politics through volunteering and attending events. A. and I think it is important to meet your representatives face to face, so we try to attend events and town hall meetings.
8:30 a.m. — Breakfast is packed. I am so happy so many people are here to support women running for office. We manage to get a bagel, coffee, and some pastries from the self-serve buffet.
10:30 a.m. — After breakfast, we head to the march to meet up with A.'s parents and uncle. We walk to the town hall to grab a spot and see the speakers and newly-elected governor. (BYE, CHRIS.) We manage to meet up with more family friends while we listen to the speakers. Around noon, we begin the march to the park in the middle of town. There are so many people; it's a huge turnout. At the park, the new governor is supposed to speak but he defers to his wife, who talks about a time she was sexually assaulted. I am a ball of tears. It's hard to hear but I am happy she told her story.
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1:30 p.m. — We walk to our favorite place in town to grab takeout; it's a family-owned Mexican restaurant that we go to almost twice a week. We all order burritos and A. pays ($35). I buy Jarritos for a few of us while we wait for the food. $4
3 p.m. — After we eat lunch with A.'s family at our apartment, we say our goodbyes. At home, we grab a bottle of bubbly from our wine fridge and walk to a housewarming party for a friend who bought a house in our neighborhood. There are a lot of people, food, and wine, and it turns out to be a great time. I indulge in more than a few glasses of wine.
6:20 p.m. — We decide to leave the housewarming party with a group of friends to go get drinks. We try three different places before finding a fancy cocktail bar that isn't packed. The group orders cocktails and appetizers but I don't eat because I'm stuffed from 2 p.m. burritos. I offer to split the tab but I think A. splits the bill with our friend.
9 p.m. — We go to another bar. I am slowing down because I've been on my feet all day, and I only order water. We are able to sit and chat at this bar. We stay for a few hours until A. and I order a Lyft but the guy cancels twice on us! We decide to just walk.
11:30 p.m. — I pass out immediately after hitting the pillow. What a long day.
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Daily Total: $4

Day Seven

10 a.m. — A. and I don't roll out of bed until late. I make us coffee and A. leaves to go work at his office for a few hours. I watch TV and read the newspaper.
12 p.m. — Half of my veggie burrito from yesterday is in the fridge. I add fresh cheese on top and heat it in the oven. While it is heating, I fry an egg too; leftovers are always better with an egg on top.
5 p.m. — I lounged most of the day, spending my time working on small portfolio projects or watching Bravo. A. gets home from the office and tells me his friends are at the bar watching football. I offer to give him a ride so I can pick up groceries while I'm out. I drop him off but instead of getting groceries, I just pick up sushi instead; groceries can wait. $12.68
6:30 p.m. — A. gets home and we spend the rest of the night catching up on shows. I am traveling two days for work this week so I'm feeling recharged after a lazy Sunday.
Daily Total: $12.68
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