A Week In NYC On $3,000 A Year

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 student in the Bronx sharing daily breakfasts with her boyfriend and throwing a holiday party in her apartment.
Industry: Full-time student at Fordham University in the Bronx majoring in communications and media studies, hoping to go into public relations. I currently work in communications.
Age: 20
Location: Bronx, New York (I live off-campus in the Bronx’s Little Italy, which is about a five-minute walk from campus). I was born in NYC and lived in Morningside Heights until I was 4 and my family moved to a suburb in Connecticut where I grew up. Being back in the city is giving me life, I love going to school just a subway ride away from anything and everything.
Salary: From my work-study job, $3,000 spread out during the school year. My parents are extremely generous and pay for my tuition and rent, I pay for split utilities and my groceries.
Paycheck Amount (once a month): Between $300 and $390, depending on how I arrange my hours.
# of roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,400, split between my roommate and me, so $700 each.
Loan Payments: None. My parents very generously pay for my tuition. After I finish school next year, I will help them pay off my loans.
Utilities: I pay the ConED bill and my roommate pays the Wi-Fi bill. ConED comes out to about $57 monthly.
Transportation: I load between $30-40 on a Metrocard monthly and spend about $19.50 ($6.50 x3) on late-night Metro-North tickets from Grand Central to Fordham. When I come home late alone, I take the Metro-North instead of the subway.
Phone Bill: $0, again, included in my parents' plan.
Health Insurance: $0, again, very generously included in my parents' plan.
Savings: I put about $400 in per semester for after college or to go towards my loans.
Netflix: $0, my boyfriend’s birthday gift to me was a Netflix subscription and a Roku box, which further enables our Netflix addiction.
HP Instant Ink: $2.99 per month for 50 pages. This service is so convenient and cost-effective. It connects to my printer and monitors the ink levels and pages printed, and sends more ink when it gets low. I just print papers and the occasional reading for class, so I am able to stay within the 50-page limit monthly and getting ink delivered is super-convenient.
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Day 1

7:30 a.m. — Wake up for daily breakfast with my boyfriend. He commutes to Fordham from Manhattan and wakes up way earlier than he has so he can come to my apartment every morning to eat breakfast with me. I realize I don’t have any eggs or rolls for our ritual 8 a.m. egg sandwiches and OJ. I go down to the grocery store I live next to and pick up a dozen eggs and three rolls. $2.49

10 a.m. — After breakfast and doing a bit of last-minute homework together, he goes to class and I get back in bed for a nap before my 11:30 a.m. class (Persuasion and Public Opinion!) I am actually loving all my classes about social media, public relations, and children and media. They are all super thought-provoking and interesting. It’s also so refreshing to actually be excited to go to class.

1 p.m. — I get back to my apartment after class and make a PB&J on whole wheat for lunch, the classic low-budget college staple.

1:30 p.m. — I go to the grocery store downstairs and pick up a few staples I know I need for the week. Lettuce, dried pasta, three pears, a lemon, OJ, two key lime Greek yogurts, and, noticing it’s on sale, ground chicken, because I want to try a new recipe with it but have been waiting until it went on sale! $16.72

2 p.m. — I work on some homework/end-of-semester papers until my class at 4 p.m.

5:15 p.m. — I get out of class and meet up with my boyfriend. We ponder what to eat for dinner and decide to make a salad and some pasta with some of my mom’s homemade sauce she brought me the last time she came to visit. Thanks, mom!

8 p.m. — We are craving ice cream while watching House of Cards on Netflix. Since it’s on sale this week (Side note: why is ice cream so expensive in the city?!), I break down and we go downstairs and get some chocolate ice cream. $2.99

10:20 p.m. — He leaves to catch the Metro-North back to Manhattan and I work on homework until 12:30 p.m. and call it a night.

Daily Total: $22.20

Day 2

7:30 a.m. — Wake up for daily breakfast with boyfriend. We eat the usual egg sandwiches and OJ. Because I don’t have any class on Tuesdays and he doesn’t have class until 11:30, we take a nap.

11:30 a.m. — I make him a PB&J to take with him for lunch, because he has the habit of forgetting to eat lunch.

11:45 a.m. — I get started on my work for WFUV. I work in the communications department and have a few distinct jobs. Today, I am working on a weekly assignment, the e-news that goes out on Thursday mornings. My boss and some of the other DJs send me content and I compile it all in email marketing software and send it to my boss for review. This process starts Tuesday morning and is in editing until Wednesday night. It takes a while to get all the content and make sure every department involved approves the content and format.

12:45 p.m. — I eat a pear as a snack.

3 p.m. — I take out my ground chicken and start making Italian chicken meatballs for dinner. I cook the meatballs then leave them in a pot of sauce on the stove on low for later. I snack on one and it’s delicious!

6:45 p.m. — I invite the boyfriend over for meatballs and pasta again after he gets out of robotics club.

8 p.m. — We’re weak again and have some more of the ice cream from yesterday.

10:20 p.m. — He leaves to catch the Metro-North back to Manhattan and my roommate and I do homework together until 1:30 a.m. and I call it a night.

Daily Total: $0

Day 3

7:30 a.m. — Wake up for daily breakfast with boyfriend. We eat the ritual egg sandwiches and OJ. Another nap day, because we’re overtired college students.

11:30 a.m. — I head to my once a week two-hour class, Children and Media, with an awesome professor.

2:10 p.m. — I scarf down a PB&J I packed for lunch on the walk to the radio station to meet my boss for our weekly meeting at 2:30.

3:30 p.m. — I get out of the meeting and head back to my apartment and start doing work right away, because tonight I am going into Manhattan for a holiday party. I'm the president of a club and the New York office invited my chapter’s leaders to their annual holiday party at a swanky residence on the Upper East Side. My roommate (the VP) and my other good friend are coming, as well.

4 p.m. — I eat a pear and some crackers as a snack while doing some communications work and homework.

5 p.m. — My friend comes over to get dressed and we leave to meet my roommate, who is already in the city, because she has an internship downtown. I put on heels for the first time in 10 months and regret it about a block away from my apartment.

5:40 p.m. — We get on the subway. I swipe my MetroCard that I loaded last time.

6:30 p.m. — We get to the party and this residence is definitely #goals. The bathroom is nicer than my whole apartment…the three of us are the only NYC college chapters that came and start out the party huddled awkwardly in the corner. Once we drink some of the Champagne that’s being passed around, we engage in some great conversations about the organization and our work at Fordham.

10 p.m. — We leave the party and are starving and slightly tipsy, so we decide to get some late-night ramen. We hit up a spot 15 minutes away and I am ready to chop off my feet. Heels are the worst...

10:30 p.m. — The place only takes cash, so I run to the Chase ATM across the street and front my friends. They Venmo me the next day. $40, but really $12, because they pay me back the next day. $12

11:15 p.m. — We all hop on the subway back.

12:15 a.m. — My roommate and I get home and I collapse in bed.

Daily Total: $12

Day 4

7:30 a.m. — Wake up for daily breakfast with the boyfriend, as creatures of habit, we eat the same egg sandwiches and OJ. We work on some homework before we go to class.

12:45 p.m. — After class, I decide to go to one of the classic and amazing Arthur Avenue Italian bakeries for a loaf of rustic bread. They give a student discount and I pet the store cat. It’s a good outing. $3.15

1 p.m. — After the bread, I stop at a different grocery store than usual, because the one next to my apartment does not have a deli counter. I pick up turkey and cheddar. $5.37

1:15 p.m. — I get home, put away the groceries, and make some chicken noodle soup for lunch.

1:40 p.m. — I work on an essay until my 4 p.m. class.

5:15 p.m. — I get out of class and hang out in the building until my 6 p.m. class. I very slowly eat an apple I packed to hold me until I get home at 7:30 p.m.

7:30 p.m. — I go home and make dinner, a turkey-and-cheddar melt on the most delicious bread. I eat while watching an episode of The Office, which is my go-to chill-out TV show.

8 p.m. — I work on homework until my roommate gets home. We do homework while watching New Girl and goofing off a bit more than we probably should until I go to bed at 1 a.m.

Daily Total: $8.52

Day 5

7:30 a.m. — Wake up for daily breakfast with the boyfriend and, you guessed it, eat egg sandwiches and OJ. Another nap day, because he has class at 11:30 a.m. and I don’t have class today.

11:30 a.m. — I walk with him to campus and then head to TJMaxx to go Christmas shopping for my family, because I won’t be home for break in time to go shopping before Christmas. I get my mom a Le Creuset baking dish and I get a shirt for my dad. $43

3:15 p.m. — I go to Walgreens to pick up a prescription (Covered by insurance, thanks, mom and dad!) and some more shampoo. $3.49

3:30 p.m. — I meet my boyfriend after he gets out of work and we go back to the apartment and just chill. We decide to watch Netflix’s Black Mirror...which is decidedly NOT CHILL and hella depressing. We drown our sorrows in the last of the chocolate ice cream.

7 p.m. — We decide to treat ourselves to going out to dinner. We go out to this amazing Mexican place for burritos that blows Chipotle out of the water and is less expensive. He treats me to dinner.

Daily Total: $46.49
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Day 6

10 a.m. — I sleep in, because it’s the weekend!

10:15 a.m. — No eggs for breakfast today. I have a key lime Greek yogurt and toast and putz around the apartment (cleaning) for a little while.

11:30 a.m. — My roommate and I are having a holiday party tonight and I go out to pick up some supplies. I pick up red and green streamers, a silly foil penguin in a Santa hat, vodka, beer, soda, and chips. I don't have a fake ID — some select liquor stores sort of near where I live don't card (not super-close to me, but I guess the walk is worth it?). Roommate Venmos me $20 for the drinks. $34.28-$20.00 = $14.28
12:45 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day baking, decorating, and getting ready for the party. I make chocolate chip cookies and brownies (I had all the baking supplies already). Then, I put the streamers up and some twinkle lights in a vintage Mason jar. Pinterest, eat your heart out!

6 p.m. — People start arriving. It’s a jolly affair with lots of sweets and Santa hats!

2:15 a.m. — I go to bed, leaving the cleanup for tomorrow.

Daily Total: $14.28

Day 7

11 a.m. — I really sleep in today, because of yesterday’s late night. I walk in the kitchen and expect to cringe, but my fantastic roommate has already cleaned the majority of the mess!

11:30 a.m. — I make us some eggs and toast.

12 p.m. — I settle down to do homework and an essay due in the coming week. Today will mainly be a working day, because yesterday I goofed off prepping for the party.

2:30 p.m. — I eat a PB&J on the good Italian bread.

2:45 p.m. — I go on Amazon to buy a few Christmas presents for aunts and uncles. I find a funky kitchen gadget! $21.68

4 p.m. — My roommate and I snack on some leftover cookies and hang out while watching New Girl.

7 p.m. — I eat the last of my chicken meatballs, trying to use up everything in the fridge before I go grocery shopping again.

8:45 p.m. — More New Girl and roommate-chilling time.

11 p.m. — I call it a night early to begin the new week. It's almost finals season and, then, home for the holidays!

Daily Total: $21.68
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