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 freelance writer and editor who makes $70,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on heirloom tomatoes and a paddle board rental.
Occupation: Freelance Writer & Editor Industry: Media Age: 30 Location: New York, New York Salary: $70,000 - $80,000 Paycheck: $3,300, average. (I'm a freelancer, so it varies.) I get paid a minimum of twice per month, but being freelance means that money is always coming in and going out.
Monthly Expenses Housing: $1,700/month mortgage HOA: $415/month HOA including internet. I live on my own. Last year, I repatriated after years abroad. Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses Utilities: $40 on average Phone: $60 IRA: $458 Mutual Fund: $400 529: $50 Donations: $50 plus one-offs Health, Vision & Dental: $48
Additional Expenses Estimated Taxes: $600/quarter Boot Camp: $260 for 10 classes, paid every 6-8 weeks Savings: Everything that's not spent goes to regular savings (non-retirement, non-investment). As of this writing, I have roughly $50,000 in retirement, $18,000 in a mutual fund, $5,000 in a 529, $8,000 in a CD, and $5,000 in cash savings.
7:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I stagger out of bed to eat something before boot camp. Have a cup of cold brew I made two days ago, and eat a piece of toast with a little almond butter. Then I run out the door. During the hour-long class, I long for it to be over, but afterwards I feel great.
9:30 a.m. — Home, showered, and packing lunch to take to work. I'm a freelance journalist, and often take contractor editing positions that last a few months to a year. Sometimes I work at home, and sometimes I go to the office. I stir fry chard and kale with extra-firm tofu coated in Trader Joe's "Everything but the Bagel" seasoning (the best), and put it in a Tupperware with chickpeas and quinoa with harissa powder mixed in. Hungry again, I use the still-hot pan to quickly fry and egg and cook some greens. Gobble it down and run out the door. 11 a.m. — I'm voracious on days I go to boot camp. I walk to a fruit cart two blocks away and get a quart of strawberries. I eat half, put the other half in the office fridge, and set myself a reminder to take it home. $3 1:30 p.m. — Reading Money Diaries and eating lunch. I went a little crazy with the harissa and feel like smoke is coming out of my ears. 3 p.m. — Working on a French-English guidebook to Switzerland and captioning the photos is making me crave a holiday. I check Secret Flying quickly in the hopes that there'll be a flight deal to somewhere I want to go, but nothing. Back to work on Switzerland, allons-y! 6 p.m. — Heading out the door. I text a couple of friends to see if they want to come over for rooftop happy hour, then grab a whole-wheat baguette at the farmers' market before cycling home to meet them. I have manchego and gruyere in the fridge from last week's food shop, plus the half quart of strawberries and carrots I bought at the farmers' market earlier in the week. My friends, carnivores the both of them, bring hummus and salami. $3 Daily Total: $6
7 a.m. — Roll out of bed, into my gym clothes, and to the fridge. Take a slug of cold brew, drink a glass of water, and amble over to the jogging path a few blocks away. I run for half an hour, all the while thinking about what I'm going to cook this week.
7:45 a.m. — I sliced the remaining two strawberries and have them with the last of a container of Greek yogurt, topped with chai, pepita, and chia seed granola I made a few weeks ago. The fridge is pretty empty, but I manage to put a motley lunch together: a little caprese salad (a little hunk of fresh mozzarella, some basil from my plant, and an heirloom tomato close to going off); chard sautéed with olive oil and a little panko and tossed with feta and za'atar; a soft-boiled egg; carrot sticks, and the remainder of yesterday's hummus. 8:45 a.m. — Trader Joe's outside of peak hours is pretty empty. I fill my basket with a can of crushed tomatoes (for shakshuka), a big Greek yogurt, cage-free eggs, olive oil, three limes, and a container of coconut creamer. (I prefer dairy milk, but TJs milk is always going off way ahead of the expiry date, although when that happens I do return it.) From the produce cart outside TJs, I get two bell peppers and a couple of red onions. $15.35 9:15 a.m. — I put the perishables and my lunch in the fridge, pour a big glass of water, and get down to work. I'm almost done with the Switzerland project, after which I'll have time to write a few articles from a recent trip to South America. 11 a.m. — Eat the last apple from a big bag bought at the farmers' market last week. I go through a five-pound, $3 bag every 10 days or so. 1 p.m. — Eating lunch and reading a few columns from Sunday's NYT. Like most New Yorkers, I have a healthy obsession with real estate, and so The Hunt and Renters columns are among my favorites. 5:30 p.m. — A friend asks me if I want to come over for dinner. Her husband's out of town for a week and she's alone with their toddler. She says not to bring anything, and I've known her long enough that I comply. I ride a few miles to her place, we eat leftover Chinese food and read Feminist Baby to the kid. 8:30 p.m. — Riding home along the water as the sun is setting. The weather has been perfect and I'm getting the most glorious breeze. Daily Total: $15.35
7:15 a.m. — Cold brew, water, and a little yogurt with almond butter and granola before boot camp. By the time I get home and climb up to my apartment, my legs are like jelly.
10 a.m. — Working from home today. Make green tea and a second breakfast of sautéed kale (the last few stalks), black beans, scrambled egg with a little Harissa, and shredded manchego. 12 p.m. — I get an automated call from the library telling me the books I requested are in — Outline by Rachel Cusk and A Really Good Day by Ayelet Waldman, both recommended by friends. I love the library and use it weekly. Show my gratitude by making a $50 donation. $50 12:15 p.m. — Run around the corner to the library, drop the books off at home, and ride 10 minutes to the farmers' market. I get kale, chard, green beans, squash, and zucchini. Heirloom tomatoes are on sale for just $2.99/pound (they're usually around $5), so I buy five pounds. Stop at my neighborhood cheese shop on the way home for a one-pound ball of fresh mozzarella. $29 1 p.m. — I had a party a few weeks ago, so I have a leftover baguette already sliced and in the freezer. I decide to make panzanella, so I toast a few slices, cut them up, and toss them with heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, some basil from my window plant, a little bit of olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, and black pepper. 4 p.m. — Taking a break from work to make shakshuka. I put on This American Life and then get to work, dicing onions and peppers, and sautéing them, adding in the can of crushed tomatoes, and then folding in kale and chickpeas. When the finished product has cooled, I freeze three portions for future lunches and put the rest in the fridge. 7:30 p.m. — I'm still working when my neighbor asks if I want to have a drink on the roof. I pull a few slices of the baguette out of the freezer and put it on a tray with olives I found in the fridge, some of the remaining manchego and gruyere, and a sliced tomato. These tomatoes are absolutely delicious, and even better when sprinkled with a little bit of salt. He has a beer, I have water, and while we start off by chatting about our days, we quickly fall into talking about how scared we are for the U.S. Daily Total: $79
8 a.m. — I'm running with a friend after work today so I don't need to get that done this morning, nor do I need time to shower. Have a little bit of cold brew with coconut creamer, a big glass of water, and more yogurt with granola and flax and chia seeds. Debate working from home, but then decide to go into the office. I take shakshuka for lunch, bulking it up with quinoa and mixing in dukkah for a kick.
11 a.m. — A friend who is investment-savvy and previously worked on the Hong Kong stock exchange texts me to say I should buy a Chinese stock that's on the U.S. exchange. I see that it's been doing really well over the last year, and I trust him, so I buy 35 shares. $800 1 p.m. — Eating lunch and alternating between reading The Guardian and cringing at what's happening in the world, and reading Money Diaries and cringing at the comments. My friend texts to say she forgot her running shoes at home and doesn't have time to get them. I invite her over for dinner instead. 5 p.m. — Cycle to Chinatown and buy two packs of extra-firm tofu, half a pound of bok choy, and ginger. I'm willing to bet I have a head of garlic in the fridge at home, and I'm right. I make a simple stir-fry and lay it over quinoa. My friend comes round for a bowl and we have a good chat. She brings delicious cherries. $5 Daily Total: $805
7:15 a.m. — Green tea, fried egg on toast, and out the door to boot camp. After treadmill cardio, we do arms, legs, and then jump rope. I manage not to trip over mine, no small feat for me.
9 a.m. — Second breakfast is the best part about going to boot camp. A drink a little bit of cold brew with coconut creamer, two big glasses of water, and carrots with almond butter. I have leftover stir-fry, so I pack that for lunch. 1 p.m. — Eschewing my usual lunch-time reading, I munch on stir-fry while pricing out washing machines and installation costs. Combo units are between $1,000 and $1,500, and the labor and parts will bring the total cost to $2,000 - $2,500. I mull over buying a used machine off Craigslist, but with the additional cost of getting it home and up the stairs, it probably makes sense to buy a new one. 5:30 p.m. — Some former colleagues are coming over for dinner; we'll order pizza once they all trickle in. On the way home, I get two quarts of strawberries and put those out to snack on. $5 7 p.m. — We order two pizzas — a classic Margherita and a white pie with mushrooms, ricotta, Brussels sprouts, and truffle oil. The total is $45; I pay by card and everyone Venmos me. We eat on the roof, laughing nonstop about our other former colleagues and their antics. They go home quite late, and I'm glad not to be getting up for boot camp tomorrow because it's the weekend! $8 Daily Total: $13
9 a.m. — I am rarely able to sleep in and today is no exception. I get up, drink the last of my cold brew and make more, then run around the corner and toss in a double load of laundry. There are a lot of odorous gym clothes in this bag, and I should have done a wash earlier.
$4.75 9:45 a.m. — Grab my laundry and schlep the wet and heavy clothes back to my apartment. I hang most things out on our rooftop laundry line but put underwear, socks, and quick-drying gym clothes in my apartment. I text a friend who lives down the street to see if she wants to come over for breakfast. She replies that she's getting ready to run, so I decide to join her. I eat a piece of toast with almond butter, have a glass of water, and run out the door. 11 a.m. — We're back from our run, which was long but languid. She says she'll shower, get her boyfriend, and come over for breakfast. I text my neighbor to see if he wants to join us on the roof, take a quick shower, and then run out for blue corn tortillas, avocados, and coriander. $6.25 12 p.m. — I make breakfast tacos (scrambled and fried eggs with harissa, guacamole, feta, and sautéed zucchini and onions) and we take them up to the roof along with coffee, tea, hot sauce, and two big carafes of water. 1 p.m. — My friend and her boyfriend bring over crossword puzzles, so we do those for a while and picture our brain muscles strengthening with each correct answer. 3 p.m. — I need more greens and decide to go the farmers' market and get a bunch of collards and a bunch of kale. When I get home, I use some of the kale to make a salad (kale massaged with honey, olive oil, and lemon) which I'll munch on later and tomorrow. Salad done, I decide to go for a short bike ride, down to Battery Park and then up the West Side. $3 6 p.m. — Going on a date with a friend of a friend. He lives in my neighborhood and suggests a bar with a back garden, so we meet there and share oysters. He orders a beer and I have a little bit of wine, but quickly switch to water. It's hot and I'm getting up early tomorrow to go paddle boarding. We have a nice time and make plans to meet again on Tuesday. He insists on paying and I leave the tip. $5 Daily Total: $19
8:30 a.m. — I'm meeting a few friends today to go paddle boarding and kayaking. Bagel orders are pinging around in our group chat, but I make an egg and cheese sandwich and pack it to eat it on the train. I put a picnic blanket, sunscreen, a hat, swimsuit, rash guard, Kindle, water bottle, and some of a leftover baguette and cheese in my bag. On my way to the subway, I get a few peaches and a pint of blueberries to round out my picnic contributions.
$5 9:50 a.m. — Buy a round-trip ticket and meet my friends for the 10 a.m. train. It is packed but we manage to a get a few seats in the same carriage. I eat my sandwich while reading Chinua Achebe's Arrow of God. $21.50 11:10 a.m. — The lake's just under a mile from the train station, but we decide to take a cab because we have a heavy cooler. It's $9 and we tip $1; I pay by card and everyone Venmos me. $2 11:45 a.m. — We spend the rest of the day lounging and picnicking in the shade of a massive oak tree. Four of us decide to take out paddle boards and kayaks, so we hire them for two hours ($26). It's a really good workout, especially because it's so choppy, and we have a great time. We're ravenous afterwards, so we walk back to the train station and on the way grab a slice of pizza each ($4). It's the perfect ending to a really nice weekend. $30 Daily Total: $58.50
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