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 food editor who makes $46,000 per year, and spends some of her money this week on a lychee martini.
Occupation: Food Editor
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,455
Loan Payments: None. I received a Bright Futures scholarship that covered 75% of my costs, and I took out a small loan to pay for the rest. I was able to pay that off less than a year after finishing school.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Insurance: $200
Car Payments: None! I finished paying for my car last year.
Phone Bill: Work pays
Gym: $45 for L.A. Fitness
10 a.m. — Start my day as I always do: catching up with the news and blogs while drinking a double cappuccino and a strawberry-banana smoothie with a scoop of powdered collagen (good for the skin, hair, and nails). The beautiful thing about working from home is that I get to make my own schedule and wake up as late as I want. I am a night person, so this works perfectly for me!
11 a.m. — Still in my PJs, I settle into my home office for a productive day of writing. Today's assignment: the 10 hottest vegan spots in Miami. As I research the topic online, it dawns on me that I haven't been to most of these places! Time to tap into my PR contacts and see if I can score some free media dinners in exchange for coverage. I know this is not the most ethical approach to journalism, but the publication I work for doesn't cover my food spending, so I have to be resourceful to avoid spending all my budget on eating out. I email a few PR peeps and hope for the best.
1 p.m. — Start to get hungry, and I head to my fridge to consider my options. Even though I know a lot about food, I cannot cook to save my life, so my meals at home are pretty basic and, for the most part, healthy to counterbalance all my dinners out. I make a salad with arugula, feta cheese, tomatoes, bean sprouts, cauliflower rice, and canned tuna, and have a coconut popsicle for dessert.
1:15 p.m. — Mid-salad, I realize that I'm late for a phone interview with a chef for a big article that I'm working on. D'oh! As the reminder pops up on my phone, I scramble to put some questions together before calling the guy. I remind myself that this is Miami, and people are rarely on time for meetings anyway.
1:35 p.m. — Well, that was awkward! The chef barely gave me any details on his new restaurant, other than the info that is already shared on the website. My editor is going to be pissed, as she wanted to get the scoop beyond the facts on the press release. I'm probably going to have to go speak with him in-person to get more deets.
3 p.m. — Spend the rest of the afternoon working on my vegan story, leaving the dish recommendation portion blank for now. I get a response from a PR girl agreeing to set up a free media dinner in exchange for coverage. Score! I immediately accept and schedule it for tomorrow at lunch.
5 p.m. — Gym time! I take a spinning lesson with a friend, and she convinces me to grab a drink after at a Spanish restaurant nearby.
6:30 p.m. — Despite my best efforts to only have one glass, I end up getting three big glasses of sangria plus a few appetizers. Hey, at least they're on the happy-hour menu. $25
8:30 p.m. — I drop off my car at my friend's place nearby and take an Uber home. There is no way I'm driving after all that wine! Plus, Uber just launched a new flat-fee promo, so I pay only $10 for the activation fee, and get $5 rides for the rest of the month! This is the perfect deal for me as I tend to drink a lot when I eat out, and it's way safer than driving myself. $15
9 p.m. — After that drinking, all hopes of having a productive night of writing go out the window. I settle in on the couch and watch season 2 of Master of None.
12 a.m. — Time for bed!
Daily Total: $40
10 a.m. — I eat the same breakfast as yesterday as I go through our competitors' sites to see what's new. I see that one of them has covered a story I'm supposed to publish next week. Ugh! I hate it when that happens. I email my editor and suggest postponing my story by a few weeks to keep me from looking like a copycat. They better not write one on vegan spots, or all of yesterday's work will have been for nothing.
11 a.m. — Quick shower and then I start getting ready for my media lunch at the vegan spot. Luckily, I'm allowed to bring a plus one, so I invite my best friend to join me.
12 p.m. — I Uber there since my car is still at my friend's house. $5
12:30 p.m. — The vegan spot is fabulous! The food is creative, the portions are generous, and the whole meal is surprisingly filling (which rarely happens at these kinds of eateries). We order jackfruit tacos, edamame cakes, a bean burger, gluten-free pizza, grapefruit mousse, and wash it down with smoothies. I take notes on my cell phone of all my faves. The chef comes out to greet us and share a bit more about the concept behind the restaurant, giving me some great info for my article. We finish most of the meal and take some to-go for later. Although the meal is free, we leave a generous $40 tip. I pay in cash, and my friend immediately Venmos me her share. $20
2:30 p.m. — My friend drops me off at home, where I sit for several hours of writing.
6 p.m. — Uber to the gym for another spinning class. I meet my friend again, but we skip the drinks this time and head directly to her place to rescue my car after the workout. $5
8 p.m. — Snack on some of my leftover gluten-free pizza from today's lunch. It tastes ever better cold! I scramble some eggs and call it dinner.
9 p.m. — Watch a few more episodes of Master of None, while I text with a cute Puerto Rican guy from Tinder. We've never met in person, but I invite him to a media dinner I have on Thursday. I don't normally like to do this on first dates (I would prefer for the guy to wine and dine me, versus the opposite!) but it's at a romantic Italian restaurant, and I can't resist.
11:30 p.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $30
8 a.m. — I'm woken up earlier than usual because of the arrival of the termite guy. He is here to inspect our building, but I totally forgot that was happening today! I open the door for him, still half asleep, and let him do his thing as I prepare my usual breakfast.
9 a.m. — Phew! I'm termite-free. I celebrate by munching on a chocolate-peanut butter KIND bar from my pantry.
10 a.m. — A few more PR people get back to me about my vegan restaurant outreach. One of them extends an invite for a media dinner, but the other declines, saying they are not doing any media promotion at the moment. I guess I will not be featuring them in my story! I delete their mention from my Microsoft Word document, and schedule a dinner at the other place for this Friday.
12 p.m. — Stop by Publix and buy baby kale, cherry tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, apples, bananas, strawberries, fresh salmon, Greek yogurt, coconut ice cream popsicles, Pepperidge Farm dulce de leche cookies, and cleaning supplies. $56
1:30 p.m. — Make my specialty for lunch: foil-wrapped, baked salmon with Dijon mustard, olive oil, and honey. I pair it with quinoa and salad.
2:30 p.m. — I receive an email from my editor in New York following up on my chef interview. I buy some time but promise to submit it by tomorrow, which means I'll have to drop by the restaurant today to get the scoop. I call the restaurant, and it looks like the chef will be in for the afternoon, so I let them know I'll be coming by for "photos" and more questions.
3:20 p.m. — Make it to the restaurant and get to meet the chef in person. He is way cuter than his headshot, and friendlier than he was over the phone. I ask a few questions and the conversation is flowing nicely. He makes a few jokes and offers to let me try some of his dishes. I don't oppose. We share yellowtail ceviche and grilled octopus over jokes about Miami restaurant clichés. I get a slight suspicion that he might be flirting with me, but I keep it professional. I do my tasting, get my answers, and head home. Of course, I give him my business card at the end so the ball is on his court now...
4:30 p.m. — Feeling inspired back at home, I finish the article in a matter of hours. I submit it to my editor for review, and hope she likes it, since she's been pestering me about this thing for days now.
8:30 p.m. — I'm not very hungry after my mid-afternoon ceviche, so I munch on fresh strawberries and yogurt as I watch an old episode of No Reservations on YouTube. I don't care what anyone says: Anthony Bourdain is a sexy silver fox!
Daily Total: $56
8 a.m. — I wake up extra-early today to catch an 8:30 a.m. kickboxing class at the gym. I make a cappuccino to-go, and I'm out the door.
9:30 a.m. — After a quick shower at the gym, I head to a new café that just opened in Wynwood. I snap a few pictures for my publication's Instagram account and try their cold brew and a donut. The coffee is good, full-bodied with chocolate notes. The donut is not fresh, but I eat it anyway. I take notes on my iPhone and give them a mental three-star review. $11
10 a.m. — The Puerto Rican guy from Tinder texts me to confirm our date for tonight. He's a bit of a foodie and is pretty excited! I confirm our plans and propose to meet at the restaurant at 8 p.m.
10:30 a.m. — Stop by my salon for a quick Brazilian wax. I don't know where the night will take us tonight, and I don't want to get caught unprepared! It's painful, but totally worth it. $35
12 p.m. — I eat some of yesterday's salmon leftovers for lunch. I try to keep it light, as I think about the handmade gnocchi I'm going to order at the restaurant tonight...
2 p.m. — Spend some time responding to emails and working on a new story on Miami's best empanadas.
4 p.m. — I get an email from my editor congratulating me on the chef interview. She really liked it! What a relief. The story gets published and gets some great comments from readers on Twitter. Yes! I close my laptop and decide to call it a day.
7 p.m. — I start getting ready for my hot date. I do my hair and makeup, and choose a cute but chill outfit so that he doesn't think I'm too high maintenance. Jeans, a nice top, heels, and I'm out the door.
7:45 p.m. — Uber to the restaurant. Starting to get butterflies in my stomach! $5
8 p.m. — OMG, he is freaking hot! Tall, dark, and handsome, just like I like them. He is also funny and smart, and we have a great time. I try to show off by schmoozing with the chef and ordering almost every item on the menu because, after all, that's what media tastings are for! We order several rounds of cocktails, and by the time we get to the tiramisu, I'm quite tipsy. The dinner is comped, but he offers to pay for the tip, which I accept.
11 p.m. — My date drives me home and asks if he can come over, which I don't oppose. I don't usually do this on the first date, especially with people I've met online, but I feel a bit of a connection with him, and the whole night has been so perfect. I feel I would regret it if I didn't! We cuddle on the couch and watch some comedy shows on Netflix, and then proceed to have a steamy make-out session ... and a little more.
Daily Total: $51
7 a.m. — I kiss my date goodbye, as he gets dressed for work. After he leaves, I go back to bed, feeling #blessed about being able to work from home in my PJs for the rest of the day.
11 a.m. — Finally roll out of bed, way later than my usual time. I blame it on the wine, and the sexy guy who kept me up all night. I make a smoothie, a coffee, and keep an eye on my phone to see if I get any texts from him.
2 p.m. — Still no text, but I do get an email from the chef I interviewed earlier this week, thanking me for the article I wrote. He wants to show his thanks by taking me out to dinner this weekend, so I guess he was flirting with me after all!
2 p.m. — Join a webinar on how to take food pictures on your iPhone. It's pretty basic, but I learn a few tricks here and there that make it worth it in the end.
4 p.m. — I make a late lunch of scrambled eggs on a toasted arepa with avocado.
7 p.m. — Still no text from Tinder guy! Should I be worried? I try to get my mind off the subject by starting a new series: Big Little Lies. It's good, and I end up watching way more episodes than I expected until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — Wake up early-ish to catch a Saturday spinning class at the gym with a friend.
10:30 a.m. — My friend and I grab post-workout smoothies and analyze all the details of my date. Starting to feel desperate with the lack of texting, I decide to accept the chef's invitation to dinner. Hey, I have to keep my options open ... plus, he was super cute! $14
12 p.m. — Stop by the mall in search of a gift for my mom's birthday next week, and I end up going to Nordstrom and buying a beautiful leather jacket. It's not even fall yet, but it is their anniversary sale, so I end up getting it for $100 less than the regular price. I don't usually spend this much on clothes, but I justify the splurge by telling myself that it's a classic piece that will last me for a long time. $240
3 p.m. — Back at home, I feel guilty from my Nordstrom splurge and start going through my recent purchases to see what I can return. I find two (unworn) sweaters that I recently bought online and prepare the UPS package to send them back for a refund.
6 p.m. — Drive downtown to meet up with my girlfriends for happy hour.
6:30 p.m. — Happy-hour sushi and lychee martinis with the girls. I'm thirsty and can barely taste the alcohol in these drinks, and end up drinking three. Oops. $28
8:30 p.m. — Happy hour is over, so we move on to a wine bar nearby. Some jazz, a cheese platter, and two glasses of Sauvignon Blanc later, and I am ready for bed. $27
11:30 p.m. — No way I'm driving tonight! I leave the car parked on the street and Uber home. $5
12 p.m. — Chug water and go to bed. Ugh, tomorrow is going to be rough.
Daily Total: $314
10 a.m. — Usual cappuccino and smoothie for breakfast.
12 p.m. — My family is Latin so it is customary for us to get together every Sunday for lunch. I head to my parents' house in South Miami and buy a fruit tart at The Fresh Market for dessert on the way. $10
1 p.m. — Chicken and rice lunch with the fam. Nothing beats my mom's food! She knows I can't cook, so she always makes an extra tray that we can all take home for the week. Thanks, Mama!
5 p.m. — Fill up my gas tank for less than $35. Gotta love my little Nissan! $34
7 p.m. — Leftover chicken and rice for dinner.
8 p.m. — After three days of not hearing back from the Puerto Rican, I decide to accept the chef's dinner invitation. We agree to see each other on Wednesday at a hot, new Thai place in South Beach where he knows the owner. I'm excited and start researching the restaurant on Instagram, and daydreaming about what I'm going to order.
Daily Total: $44
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