A Week In NYC On A $55,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of The Icelandic Milk and Skyr Co
Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a creative renting out her apartment on Airbnb.
Industry: Retail. I work full-time in a creative role at a corporate office, but I freelance, too, and host my apartment on Airbnb.
Age: 22
Location: Hoboken, NJ
Salary: $55,000
Paycheck amount (Weekly): $843 after state taxes and deductions
AirBnB Revenue (Monthly): ~$1,550. In April, I'll get a 1099 for Airbnb revenue and then tally up deductions (rent, cleaning, rental commissions, etc.) and then my accountant reports this income with the income from my job and from freelancing. Then, we calculate the tax and pay it with the return. Fortunately, I've had a big refundable tax credit from being in school the past four years, so I've received a lot of returns, but haven't paid a lot of taxes. I'll still have a tax credit in 2016 for education, so I expect that I won't owe a substantial amount of tax this year, even on the Airbnb revenue.
Number of roommates: One boyfriend in college, a kitten, and dozens of Airbnb guests.

Monthly Expenses
Rent (2-Bedroom): $2,200 total, but we apply the previous month's Airbnb revenue and then split it. Because my boyfriend is still in college, I pay 75% of the rent, after we deduct what we earn per month from Airbnb. So this month, we made $1,850 through Airbnb, so my share of the remaining $350 is $262.50 and my boyfriend pays the remainder: $87. This was a good month, but we usually make a little less, roughly $1,550. When it's an average month, I would have to pay ~$487.50 to be exact out-of-pocket and my boyfriend would have to pay ~$173.
Utilities: $40
Internet: $60
Spotify: $9.99
Netflix: $9.99
HBO: $0, been using my ex-boyfriend's login and password for six years
Health insurance: $0, on my parents' plan.
Pet health insurance: $19
Pet wellness plan: $35
NY Times: $7.50
Transportation: $205 (train and subway) and an extra $50 or so on UberPool (which is calculated daily here)
Debt payments (credit cards): $500
Monthly Savings
Emergency fund: $240
Roth IRA: $180
401(k): $50
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Day 1

12 a.m. — I get out of the PATH train, hop on a bike through my city's bikeshare, and when I get home, I see my boyfriend is putting together a new dresser. We throw in a bunch of laundry, because we have four guests arriving in the morning and a huge backlog of laundry (we never have enough quarters). Luckily, I have a pocketful of quarters that I found at my parents' house over the weekend.

1:20 a.m. — I realize that I used up the last of the lint roller, and my guests complain about the smallest things like dryer lint. So we throw in another bunch of laundry and walk to CVS. While we're there, I buy maxi pads and a new lint roller. $5.79

1:30 a.m. — It's late and neither of us have eaten for hours. We stop into McDonald's to get two meals with a quarter pounder and a Chicken McNuggets. My boyfriend pays for it. We regret it instantly.

4 a.m. — I head to sleep, because I have work in the morning. My boyfriend stays up a bit longer, sweeping, wiping, and vacuuming the apartment for our next guests.

7:56 a.m. — I call an Uber to get to the station. In the summer, I'll walk the walk, but it's too early for me to be so cold, so I feel like I need to keep budgeting for morning Ubers. Since college ended, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't party, and I never buy recreational drugs. At my age, I can't beat myself up if my only vice is not wanting to walk 20 minutes to the station a mere half hour after getting up in the morning at freezing temperatures in the winter. $3.99

8 a.m. — I get a notification from my bank's app, saying that Airbnb has deposited payouts from this weekend's guests that came over on Friday ($44), Saturday ($46) and Sunday ($97). I immediately save this money so we can use it toward our rent.

9:06 a.m. — Make it to work.

11:15 a.m. — So far, I've made it two workweeks brown-bagging my lunch and it saves me so much money. I used to be a menace with Seamless and food trucks at lunch hour. This morning, I'll make oatmeal from my desk pantry, with milk, honey, and cinnamon.

2 p.m. — I'm still hungry, but I pledged to not buy anything for lunch, so I take out a pita pocket from my desk pantry, break out the hummus that I have in the fridge, and make hummus toast.

5 p.m. — I get a four-star review on Airbnb, with a guest saying there's occasional odors (of course, we have a cat), and they would recommend a scented candle. I know that I have an $8 off of $40 Etsy coupon, so I buy five scented candles plus shipping from an American artisan. Maybe better reviews would give us more revenue. $32

5:30 p.m. — I find out that my agency owes me royalties on my freelance work that they have collected on my behalf. $225 is nothing to sneeze at, so I email their accounting department to see what is going on.

5:45 p.m. — I got myself stressed out about money, so I download a self-help book on my Kindle about getting out of debt for millennials and I read it on the subway. $2.13

6 p.m. — I'm thinking about what to make for dinner. We have sweet potatoes and bacon that I got on sale last week, so I find a recipe online for twice-baked sweet potatoes with sesame-bacon brittle, miso, and scallions. I head to the grocery store to buy miso and scallions. While I'm here, I think about breakfast and lunch for the week, so I grab three jars of Siggi's Icelandic skyr, one bag of pasta, and a container of sun-dried tomatoes. $19.92

7:30 p.m. — Yum, I like the baked potatoes so I made extra for lunch, and the presentation is very nice. It's too sweet for my boyfriend, though, and he eats half of it before giving the rest to me.

Daily Total: $63.83
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Day 2

7:46 a.m. — I grab a skyr and two of last night's baked potatoes, then get in an Uber to head to the PATH. I eat the skyr in the car. $3.55

11 a.m. — I see on my phone that I was charged a $27 late fee for making $8 under my minimum payment for a lower-interest card. I'm aggressively paying down higher-interest cards, so I made the mistake of ignoring the lower-interest one. I use Amex live-chat during my lunch break to ask for a late fee waiver and they agree to waive it as a "one-time courtesy." I've learned my lesson.

11:05 a.m. — I microwave a baked potato and eat it. It didn't taste as good as it did yesterday. Oh well, it's food and it shouldn't go to waste.

2:25 p.m. — There's an Airbnb photographer coming tomorrow to photograph our listing. I think about how we have ugly curtains in the guest room that the previous tenant left behind, so we have to pick up white curtains at some point.

6:10 p.m. — I'm meeting my boyfriend at NYU and it starts raining. Due to the rain, I decide to procrastinate picking up the curtains. While I'm at it, I reschedule the Airbnb photographer. I figure we don't have the right curtains and, also, we're waiting on a piece from an emerging artist featured by a gallery in Southeast Asia. We loved the piece, it felt like a steal for $170, and we ordered it a few weeks ago.

6:30 p.m. — We stop into the grocery store. We have sliced cheese and ketchup, so we decide we're going to do burgers for dinner. We pick up patties, a six-pack of San Pellegrino, and brioche buns. For breakfast, I pick up an avocado. My boyfriend shows his student ID and we get 10% off. It comes out to $22.24

Daily Total: $25.79
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Day 3

7 a.m. — I make a coffee with almond milk to share with my boyfriend in our backyard. I'm so happy that I buy grounds from a local coffee bean place for our reusable single-serve coffee pod. It's cheaper and better quality than constantly buying boxes of coffee pods, which we used to do at our old apartment.

7:30 a.m. — I have a recipe in the back of my mind that I've never tried: a peanut butter, pickles, and potato-chip sandwich. I saw it on the internet. So I pack a jar of pickles and two slices of bread with peanut butter on it. I figure that I'll grab some nickels and dimes from my coin jar and get a bag of potato chips from my work's vending machine. I pack a skyr to eat when I get to work and get into another Uber to go to the station. $3.55.

11:30 a.m. — I buy sour cream and onion Baked Lays from the vending machine by putting in all of the nickels and dimes I grabbed from our coin jar and out comes fifty cents back in quarters (yay, for the laundry!), plus one bag of chips. $1.25

11:38 a.m. — I discover that I love peanut butter, pickles, and potato-chip sandwiches! I stash my pickle jar in the fridge and make a mental note to bring whole-grain bread, peanut butter, and more milk at the start of the week.

11:59 a.m. — I'm browsing Gilt.com and they're having a sale on Glamholders (makeup organizers). I have a similar item in my Etsy cart for $34, but Gilt has one for $26. My boyfriend can't stand my lack of organization in the bathroom mirror, so I place an order for a Glamholder. I tell myself that it's for both of us. $26

12:30 p.m. — During my lunch break, I email two editors that I'm working with on upcoming freelance projects.

6:25 p.m. — I'm thinking about dinner, last-minute, as usual. I'm terrible at meal planning, but it's a work in progress. Right now, we're weaning ourselves away from takeout for cost and health. I decide on mapo tofu, a family favorite, and we have many ingredients needed for it, like scallions and fermented black beans. So I pick up some tofu, black bean sauce, ginger, and ground pork. I think about lunch items I can make for tomorrow or the next day with tofu and miso, so I decide on noodles. I grab Japanese noodles and bean sprouts. $27.14

6:45 p.m. — My boyfriend helps me crumble the pork in the wok as I smash my Szechuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.

7:40 p.m. — The mapo tofu is delicious! I promise myself that after I eat dinner, I'll make noodles for tomorrow's lunch.

8 p.m. — I was asked by an acquaintance to teach a workshop for other creatives at his store in Manhattan. It sounds fun, but I hope that I'm able to get paid from a portion of the ticket sales.

8:13 p.m. — We book another one-night guest for Friday for $82. So far, we have enough bookings to cover at least $1,610 out of $2,200, so I can rest knowing that I might be able to accelerate my debt payments and that our living expenses won't be decimating my boyfriend's scholarship stipend.

Daily Total: $57.94
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Day 4

7 a.m. — Oh man, after eating, showering, and watching TV, I didn't make the noodles that I said I would make last night. Looks like it's time to prepare a peanut-butter sandwich.

7:15 a.m. — I make a coffee in a to-go cup with almond milk and grab a skyr for breakfast, since my avocado is not ripe.

7:24 a.m. — I got a notification from Airbnb that they've sent $145 on behalf of Monday's guest and that it'll be deposited tomorrow. I look forward to saving it for rent and take a second to feel thankful.

7:30 a.m. — I'm in the Uber and realize I left my coffee at home. I didn't drink more than half of it, so I'm pretty disappointed. $3.55

11:41 a.m. — I put pickles on my peanut-butter sandwich and all I need is potato chips. It's $1.25 and I'm short a quarter, so I get a quarter from my nice coworker who is willing to help me out. $1

5:25 p.m. — I see on my phone that a guest left a mediocre review due to the door separating our bedroom and the guest bedroom being so thin that you can hear breathing in the other room. I had emailed our landlord about if we're allowed to change the door, and, pretty much, they said "K." I post on Thumbtack and Yelp to inquire about free consultations on which doors are soundproof and gather some quotes from door installers willing to come within the next couple of days. Most of the quotes are about $150 for an installation. I don't book anyone yet and plan on talking it over with my boyfriend later. We have to decide when/how to do this on the budget that we have, etc.

6:10 p.m. — I show up at NYU and it turns out, it's my boyfriend's day off. It's raining and I want to get home as fast as possible.

6:35 p.m. — I haven't gotten takeout for dinner in three weeks. I get two orders of Chipotle so I don't have to cook tonight. $16

6:45 p.m. — I'm out of little wines for my guests. I pick up four little bottles of Merlot at the liquor store, because I have two guests tomorrow. $9.15

Daily Total: $29.70

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Day 5

7:30 a.m. — I wake up extra-late. I grab an avocado from the kitchen and hop into an Uber. $3.55

8 a.m. — I use my phone to check to make sure my paycheck has come in and my weekly savings of $60 has automatically transferred into my savings account. Then, I set a transfer into my IRA and pay down some credit cards.

8:25 a.m. — I am exhausted, so I get an orange juice from the convenience store to wake me up. $3

10 a.m. — Oh my, a sample sale in the corporate office. I have $9 and I can't resist. I buy a leather throw pillow, a linen throw pillow with a beautiful design, a holiday ornament, and 500-thread count sheets. $7.50

11 a.m. — My mom wants stuff, so I get her four fitted bed sheets, a dinnerware set, and a standing Christmas reindeer. She texts me saying she'll pay me back for the $18 it cost and $2 for the ATM's convenience fee.

11:30 a.m. — Yum, I make avocado toast for lunch! Now, it's been three workweeks brown-bagging my lunch and I've probably saved $150 this month.

2 p.m. — My licensing agency says they'll send me $225 in royalties in a week and a half, with the next accounting cycle! Yay!

6 p.m. — I meet my mom at the subway closest to her work and she pays me back for the sample sale stuff that I bought her. She gives me a Subway gift card and I'm excited, because it's free food.

6:15 p.m. — I meet up with my boyfriend at NYU and we're hungry. I decide we should go to Subway, lest we forget about the gift card and never use it, so we share a sandwich. Unfortunately, every time my mom gives me a gift card, it's a used gift card. So it doesn't cover the entire price of the meal. $5.11

Daily Total: $19.16
6 of 8
Day 6

6 a.m. — I get up, because I have freelance work and I'm going to be on-set today.

7 a.m. — I get an Uber to Williamsburg, because I don't want to be late. It's comped by my client.

10:40 a.m. — Yum, on-set breakfast, which is comped. It's one of the rules that if models and crew and directors don't eat and work a half-day or more starting at 8 a.m., the fatigue and hunger will reflect in the final product.

2:15 p.m. — When I arrive at home, we start cleaning for our next guests, who are arriving at six. Good thing we still have a few laundry quarters! Sometimes, we need one wash and two drys because our dryer is not great. $3

5 p.m. — Okay, so I'm not hungry, because I ate on-set. But my boyfriend is hungry, so we walk to the supermarket and grab chicken breast and red peppers. I make some stir fry, but near the end of cooking, we find out our rice cooker is broken. Looks like we have to eat stir fry with no rice. $8.92

Daily Total: $11.92
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Day 7

10:15 a.m. — I get up and check the fridge for breakfast items. I'm out of eggs, but I see that a previous Airbnb guest from a couple of days ago has left an entire carton of cage-free eggs! Fantastic! It's time for brunch! I go to the bodega and buy orange juice, bacon, and bread. It's a little expensive and I should have walked 10 minutes to the grocery store, but if I divide the cost into two servings, it's cheaper than brunch, so I'm okay with it. $13.25

12 p.m. — We check out our guests from last night and I start doing laundry while I still have quarters. Yay, they drank two out of three bottles of wine and didn't open the third, so I stick it back in our inventory. I hope the wine was a good touch and leads to good ratings. We won't see their money until Monday, as it is the weekend. $2

7 p.m. — It's dinnertime. Except we have nothing in the fridge and it's too freezing outside to walk to the grocery store. So we walk to the 7-Eleven and become the first people on this earth to bring home an entire pie of pizza from 7-Eleven. I don't expect the pizza to taste like the pizza I had on my first trip to Italy, but it's cold and windy, and we don't want to walk. Even the cashier behind the counter was visibly surprised and taken aback that we wanted an entire pizza from 7-Eleven, because no one ever does that. $8.20

10 p.m. — I tally up all the money I've spent this week, so that I can keep track of my flex spending budget, which is about $235 per week. It's pretty close. Nice!

Daily Total: $23.45
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