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 preschool teacher and yoga instructor who makes $75,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a new bike and a bike lock.
Occupation: Preschool teacher & children's yoga instructor Industry: Education Age: 33 Location: New York NY Salary: $75,000 ($65,000 annual teacher's salary plus $5,000 yoga lessons and $5,000 hosting through Airbnb) Paycheck (2x/month): $2,000
Monthly Expenses Housing: $2,200 rent. I know this seems astronomically high for a single person, but I live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and my youthful days of living with roommates have expired. For the record, when I first moved to NYC, I lived in a studio with a roommate from China and her one-year-old baby. I understood none of the noise, but embraced the happy chaos since we loved each other. I saved a lot of money to put toward living on my own. My silent apartment to myself is worth every penny! Graduate School Student Loans: $200
All Other Monthly Expenses Cell phone & iPad Lease Payment: $100 ClassPass Membership: $80 Netflix: $10 Spotify: $10 Pet Supplies: $50 Amazon Prime Delivery: $100 Sephora Beauty Box: $10 Massages & Acupuncture: $100
8 a.m. — Wake up and lazily hang in bed snuggling my cat. Decide to make iced green tea and eat a piece of Ezekiel toast at home to settle my stomach. It's Sunday, and my favorite yoga class is today! The teacher has the best sense of humor. Laughter and yoga are the perfect cocktail to refresh me from the city hustle. I decide the 30-minute walk there is much needed after eating a large popcorn at the movies last night (I saw
The Big Sick and highly recommend it), and I rent a mat for $2 so I don't have to bother with carrying mine. $2 11:30 a.m. — Yoga class was wonderful and the instructor's comic relief left me feeling lighthearted. He walked over and told me if he didn't hear me breathing deeply, he'd give me mouth-to-mouth, and I certainly didn't want that! I'm starving after class and head to my favorite neighborhood bagel shop, Absolute Bagels. I order whole wheat scooped with tofu cream cheese. I decide to balance this wise, healthy choice with a Thai iced tea and another mini-bagel with butter and jam. I head to a park bench and eat NYC-style. $7 1 p.m. — Laundry day! I just had Airbnb guests renting my apartment, so I have a few loads to do. I offset my meager teacher's salary by renting my space one or two weekends each month. I love hosting and find it such an enjoyable, easy way to make money. I'm always slightly nervous with strangers, but I've had 100% positive experiences and have gotten to know some great people. $10 8 p.m. — I score half-off tickets to a comedy show tonight through Groupon. It's $15 for two people including two shots. My friend and I don't eat dinner beforehand and decide to hold off until after the show. The food menu is lackluster, and it is sacrilegious to eat bad food in Manhattan, the home of incredible food options. I order two overpriced $9 Coronas ($18), and I'm annoyed they are served slightly warm since I'm spending so much money on them. The show is surprisingly good — the headliner is Judah Friedlander, whom I never knew of and now have a crush on. I have a thing for nerdy, out-of-shape Jewish boys with acerbic wit. (Hence my lifetime crush on Woody Allen.) After the show, we grab a few slices of pizza. I'm excited because my fave pizza place is still open, and they have vegan and gluten-free options that are actually delicious. I'm not fully vegan, but I am vegetarian and cheese makes me a flatulent mess, so I try to commit to what makes me smell and feel my best. $36 Daily Total: $55
7:30 a.m. — It's Monday, but I only teach three days a week in the summer so it's still my weekend. I wake up and snuggle my cat in bed while checking email and wasting time on Facebook. I decide to be more mindful and put some tea tree oil in the diffuser while I make tea and do a few sun salutations on my yoga mat. My cat joins me, scratching the mat and rolling around. I videotape and send to my mom. I decide to postpone a shower and walk through the park to Whole Foods for a few grocery essentials. I buy avocados, strawberries, coconut milk, Ezekiel tortillas, and new "school safe" granola bites that I can bring to work with me. They come in tiny packs of four and cost $7! I buy them anyway and justify it because of the cute packaging. That's how Whole Foods commits its robbery — with the promise of health in cute-packaged products you'd never buy if you knew the true cost.
$45 10 a.m. — I unpack the groceries and organize a bit. I make a smoothie from strawberries, coconut milk, spirulina, flaxseed oil, and kefir yogurt. I drink it to wash down my daily vitamins, which include B2, B12, magnesium, calcium, fish oil, and a multivitamin. I debate taking a garcinia cambogia, which I usually reserve for energy on weekdays. It's expensive at $40 a bottle, so I only take them when I need to. I don't want to become dependent. I take inventory and order replacements to be delivered from my local co-op. I have a 20% discount, so seven bottles cost about $50 with tax and tip. I used to think vitamin supplements were a waste of time and money unless you had medical need or nutritional deficits. I have neither, but I have noticed a huge change in my energy levels since I started my supplement regime a few years ago. Health is wealth! $50 1 p.m. — I spend over an hour researching and buying a new bike. I was perusing Craigslist, attempting to be thrifty and get a used bike, but people are crazy if they think I'll spend an armload on a bike without brakes and pedals. My bike was stolen a few days ago, and I'm still grieving. The thief burned through the lock! As a result of this experience, I came to find out the security camera outside my building isn't real. It made me reminisce about growing up in a small town where people leave their doors and windows unlocked. I feel foolish for locking it on the street overnight and vow to bring the new one inside my bike storage room each and every day. The bike I pick is the least expensive one I can find with good reviews. I also buy a $50 Kryptonite lock that comes with a guarantee of a replacement if the bike is stolen. $190 5 p.m. — Meet a friend for an early dinner in Riverside Park. She brings her adorable Yorkie poodle puppy, and we sit outside and look out over the Hudson River. We order chips, guacamole, and veggie burgers. I indulge in a Diet Coke, a habit I've been trying to break for years. I used to drink three cans a day, and I've cut it down to one so I savor ever chemical-filled sip. We sit and chat for a while and the puppy falls asleep on my lap. However, much like children, I'm happy to not have the responsibility of a mother and happily skip home to my less-needy cat and an evening cozied up watching The Handmaid's Tale. $30 Daily Total: $315
7 a.m. — I wake up and have an iced tea and Ezekiel bread toast with almond butter before I take my vitamins. I roll my back over my foam roller for a little bit and then head to the park to gather leaves for a lesson I have planned with my class today. I'm teaching them about local plants and trees. I pick an assortment of leaves and apologize to each tree I rip them from; they died for educations sake, at least. I stop by Silver Moon on the way to work to make what will likely be my hardest decision of the day. In the end, I pick the world's best chocolate brioche and two challah rolls for me and my assistant. We recently started a habit of giving each other a mid-morning, five-minute break to hide in the closet for sanity's sake. I decide that break will be the perfect time to enjoy my carbs. If only the kids knew what I was up to!
$8.60 2 p.m. — I get out early during the summer because my program is technically "preschool camp," rather than school. I'm ravenously hungry from teaching two, very active yoga classes back to back to a group of 25 four year olds. I only live a few blocks from home, where I plan on making a salad with the overpriced avocados I bought at Whole Foods yesterday. But, last minute, I decide a trip for fro-yo is a must. I sample a new vegan caramel popcorn flavor but stick to my fave Coco Loco (coconut milk) with mango and blueberries. It is such a small cup but weighs in at $9.76! It's absurd to pay this, but I think of it as paying for a simple moment of joy added to my day. When I get home, I'm too full to make a big salad, so I use the avocados to make guacamole for my cat nanny who's stopping by later. $9.76 7 a.m. — It sounds ridiculous but my cat has a nanny. I am not ashamed to admit it. She is my fur baby, and I feel guilty leaving her alone for long periods of time. I hired a friend's daughter to spend a couple hours a day with her when I'm busy. I give the sitter $20 per visit whether she stays for 20 minutes or a few hours. My cat is so much happier after her visits, and it gives my friend's daughter some extra cash. We snack on chips and guac, and then I head out to a Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit and dinner at MoMa with a new guy I'm dating. We eat at the bar instead of the formal dining room because it's a third of the cost, and I order black truffle cavatelli and a glass of prosecco. He's adorkable, and we have a great conversation. But he smokes cigarettes, and the stench alone is enough to be a deal breaker. I insist on splitting the bill and can't wait to brush my teeth after our goodnight makeout sesh. $66 Daily Total: $84.36
7 a.m. — Wake up excited for the day. There is a "mad scientist" show at my school, and my preschoolers are going to have a blast. It's always nice to sit down and be entertained since I'm usually the entertainer. Most likely, one of them will be terrified, and I'll end up having to leave the room to console them. I relish the one-on-one time even so. I stop to pick up lemons on the way to work because I'm inspired to teach the kids to make their own lemonade. I work at a Montessori school, which promotes independence from adults, so I always try to give them grown-up tasks (especially cleaning to help me up!). Adults do so much for children just to make things go faster, but doing that robs them of the chance to learn from their mistakes and feel a sense of accomplishment from being self-sufficient. The lemons are organic and cost $4, but I'm pretty picky about feeding the little ones organic and natural foods.
$4 1 p.m. — I bring lunch from home to eat with the kiddos, even though it isn't my favorite thing to do. I usually can't enjoy my meal because I'm unable to sit still for longer than a minute at a time. I pack sliced veggies with hummus and a coconut-milk yogurt. When class is dismissed, I head to my weekly massage appointment. It's $40 for 45 minutes, and I tip $8. I go to an unassuming hole in the wall run by some fierce women. They beat me up and work out every kink in my back. It's worth every penny. $48 8 p.m. — After my glorious massage, I take a nap. When I wake up, I realize that I've slept through the alarm I set and have been out for three hours. Working with little ones wears me out, but is completely worth it. I make a simple omelet with avocado toast and eat outside on my fire escape. I'm still exhausted and in bed by 10. Daily Total: $52
6:30 a.m. — I wake up before the alarm to the sound of my cat purring, and her paws in my hand. I taught her to hold hands when she was first rescued, and every time she does it, my heart melts. I have restored energy from my nap yesterday and decide to walk and do yoga in Central Park before work. I've been listening to meditation podcasts or listening to my footsteps as part of my morning routine; it's helped me be a much cooler person throughout the day. I used to run errands and do work upon waking up, until realized this led to my midday burnout. Even though I take my time, I am able to stop for iced tea and a pretzel roll at Silver Moon Bakery. I also pick up a doggie cookie for my coworker's puppy. They are overpriced at $3 each, but the cute packaging and my love for fur children gets me every time.
$8.95 2:30 p.m. — I meet a friend for a late lunch after work. It's a treat because during the regular school year, I never go out to lunch due to time restrictions and my endless to-do list. We head to a place I've been dying to try called LoLo's Seafood Shack, where we split an app of crabby dip and plantains. I get a huge pot of steamed crab (an excuse for butter) all to myself. I wash it down with tons of iced water and convince myself this counterbalances the indulgent meal. After, we sit on the back patio chatting with Canadian tourists, and I head to a consignment shop where I regularly sell clothes. One of the dresses I dropped off sold for $100! It was a bridesmaid's dress I knew I'd never wear again, and I'm thrilled to declutter and make a little money back of the thousands I've spent on friends' weddings. $32 8 a.m. — I'm not hungry for dinner after my huge lunch, so I have a proper single gal's meal of popcorn and chardonnay. I watch YouTube videos about home organization and sign up for Walmart's $5 Beauty Box. I already have an account with Sephora, and I love the concept of getting samples of beauty products. Usually, I give away half the items and always find one that's a fantastic find. $5 Daily Total: $45.95
7 a.m. — I wake up feeling like a domestic diva and decide to cook and relax at home until my yoga class at noon. I make homemade granola and a veggie lasagna for my elderly neighbor who is always so sweet to me. I feel inspired by all the home organization videos and decide to label my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator drawers, but I run out of labels. I order some on Amazon as well as a couple of books and a meditation pillow that were waiting patiently for me in my shopping cart. Amazon is my ultimate shopping weakness. I should avoid it completely because I can never just buy one thing.
$56 2 p.m. — After my yoga class, I drop off the lasagna with my neighbor. I quickly do her dishes while she talks to me from the other room about how much of an idiot Donald Trump is. She reminds me of a Spanish Estelle Getty from Golden Girls, and I secretly wish she'd adopt me as her granddaughter. (Sorry to my actual grandma!) After the visit, I run to the wine store to pick up a couple of bottles for later when my cigarette-smoking guy friend comes over later. I pick my fave budget label, Toasted Head, and a rosé the clerk recommends. I live right by a Whole Foods wine shop, but I prefer to support small business owners, even if the cost is 30% higher. $18 6 a.m. — Cigarette-smoking guy comes over. I decide I don't want my clean apartment tainted with his smell, and I suggest that we rent Citi Bikes and go for a ride. Tonight is the night when I tell him he either quits smoking, or I quit him. I'm older and wiser than I was when I dated in my twenties, and I have no worries about being a single cat lady forever. I can't ignore someone's habits or personality if it doesn't work for me anymore. He tells me he's unable to quit right now because it's his coping mechanism and we agree to part ways as friends. The introvert in me is so relieved; it's like I just got off the hook and can spend more time alone. But another part of me feels sad at what could have been. I consider myself an expert on unsuccessful relationships and decide to marry my cat. $12 Daily Total: $86
8 a.m. — I wake up feeling energized for my yoga class. I wash down my vitamins with a homemade smoothie consisting of a handful of spinach, coconut milk, vanilla agave, and a banana. I pre-portion Ziploc bags with smoothie ingredients and put them in the freezer so they're easier to pop into the blender. It saves time and money, plus I never waste leftovers. I rent a yoga mat and buy water at the studio, and debate buying another set of yoga tune-up balls. They are amazing therapy balls that you roll your muscles on, but they cost $18 each at the studio, and half that on Amazon. Before I learned the technique, I thought they were just overpriced tennis balls — now I know they're magic. Such a painful good time.
$4 3 p.m. — I wander around on the way home from yoga and buy pretty stationery to write my grandmother and former students. We keep in touch like pen pals every few weeks, and it's been delightful. Sometimes I make my own cards but Paper Source is having a 50%-off sale, and I score a couple months' worth of supplies. $24 7:30 p.m. — I meet up with a few friends at a jazz supper club in Harlem. I eat delicious cornbread with honey butter and mediocre truffle mac 'n' cheese. After visiting Italy and binge watching The Food Network, I've learned to detect the difference between real truffles and truffle oil. Knowing the difference has completely ruined the taste for me since most restaurants serve dishes with the oil, as it's far cheaper. The music is so beautiful it brings me to tears. I wish I could reincarnate as a soulful Nina Simone. The evening is a testimony to a relaxed summer week. We teachers work all year round just to finally breathe easy in the summertime! $78 Daily Total: $106
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