Money Diaries logo

A Week In Queens, NY, On A $220,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an attorney who makes $220,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Hourglass mascara.
Dollar amounts listed in USD.
Occupation: Attorney
Industry: Law
Age: 27
Location: Queens, NY
Salary: $220,000 with a potential $50,000 bonus
Net Worth: Approximately $197,000 (I have $170,000 in liquid savings and $36,000 in retirement, minus loans)
Debt: $9,000 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,300
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (I know this is going to cause controversy but when the pandemic started I moved back in with my parents (I genuinely like living with them!) and this is what they ask me to contribute to household expenses on a monthly basis. I used to pay $2,800 in NYC rent pre-pandemic.)
Spotify: $15
Storage Unit: $100 (Where all of my furniture is being stored until I can move back to the city again)
Phone: $15 (still on my family plan and this is what I pay my parents)
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $393
401(k): $1,300 (no match)
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My parents did not go to college but it was always expected that I would. I decided when I was 15 that I wanted to be a lawyer and have been working toward that goal since then. I've always loved school from a young age and wish I could have stayed in academia forever! I was lucky enough to get a full-ride scholarship to law school and only took out $3,000 for books and other expenses. I went to a state school for undergrad and graduated in three years. I received a few scholarships and the rest was split between my parents and myself. I had approximately $25,000 in debt after school.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I don't remember many conversations about money growing up! My parents are still very much of the view that it is "impolite" to talk to about finances.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a camp counsellor. I made $300 for the entire summer and used it to buy an iPod Nano. I worked a variety of odd jobs through college and law school, but the money was always used as extra spending money. My first "real" job is the job I have now.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. I am so, so fortunate to have grown up in a very stable home. I always felt secure in the sense that I knew I would have a roof over my head and food in my belly. I also am very fortunate to have a large extended family who would have never let us truly struggle. However, I had a lot of medical problems growing up and was always acutely aware of our medical debt. There was always a pit in my stomach when we received a hospital or doctor bill. Even though my parents have pretty good insurance, I know they have accrued a lot of medical debt on my behalf.
Do you worry about money now?
Again, yes and no. I am obviously very comfortable right now and it would be insincere to pretend I wasn't. That being said, I do have chronic health conditions and am always very aware of the fact that I could lose everything to a medical emergency. There is really no telling what the future holds and I think it would be naive to stop worrying about money now just because I'm currently in a good financial position.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I guess this is up for debate, right? I would say when I graduated law school at 24 and moved into my own apartment in Manhattan and was completely financially responsible. I still pay for everything myself obviously, but I'm living with my parents at a highly subsidized rate. So, you let me know! Am I financially responsible for myself? I think it's clear I have a financial safety net with my parents. However, I want to emphasize that I didn't move back in with them for the sole purpose of saving money. My parents are genuinely the best people I know and I love living with them! I cried like a baby when I initially moved out a few years ago and am pretty happy to be back with them!
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

9:30 a.m. — Ah, it's Saturday! Despite this, I wake up to five work emails that all need my immediate attention. I log on to my computer and try to squeeze in as much work as possible. I pause in the middle for a few rounds of fetch with my dog.
11:30 a.m. — It looks like it's going to be a working weekend but nothing can bring me down because today, I GET VACCINATED!! My parents and I have appointments this afternoon — they are eligible based on their jobs and I am eligible because of my health conditions. I get dressed, eat a granola bar, and head out the door with my parents.
1:30 p.m. — We're done! The vaccinations went smoothly, and I am so, so grateful for the scientists who were able to produce this in less than a year! I am almost on the verge of tears thinking about how it will be safe to hang out with my friends and family again. I text my grandma and tell her I can't wait to be able to see her again.
3 p.m. — I'm finally back home after sitting in a lot of traffic and begrudgingly accept the fact that I'm going to have to work most of the day. I haven't eaten a real meal yet today so I order my favourite chicken parm from a local restaurant ($42.24 with tip). I sadly eat this at my desk while answering emails. $42.24
11 p.m. — I can't believe I've been sitting at my desk for this long. I decide to call it quits for the night and do my nightly routine (bothering my sleeping dog, washing my face, and scrolling through TikTok) until I finally fall asleep around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $42.24

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up and do a quick check to see if I'm feeling feverish or sore from the vaccine — nope! Thank god, because I could hear my phone dinging throughout the night and know this is going to be another busy workday. My dad bought bagels so I eat one before joining an hour-long conference call.
1 p.m. — It's so beautiful out and I've already put in three hours of work today so I decided it is time to get out of the house. I borrow my dad's car and go on a drive, stopping to get french fries and a soda on the way ($8.72). I don't really NEED to stop by any stores and don't want to unnecessarily risk exposure to COVID, so I head home after an hour and a half. Again, I can't wait to be fully vaccinated. $8.72
3 p.m. — You guessed it, I'm working. A few of my deals are blowing up and all need my immediate attention. I join calls, send emails, and review documents for the next few hours. It isn't glamorous but I do find the work somewhat interesting at least. After a few hours, I take a break to chat with my sister and heat up yesterday's leftovers for dinner.
10:30 p.m. — I physically cannot work anymore and decide to log off for the night (although I answer a few more emails on my phone). My skin has been soooo bad lately (probably the stress) so I browse skincare on Sephora but don't end up buying anything. I also browse Bloomingdales before realizing I don't actually need anything and am just trying to shop as stress relief. I turn on an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and try to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $8.72

Day Three

7 a.m. — Nope. I can't wake up at this time.
8:30 a.m. — I also cannot wake up at this time, but my email notifications keep going off so I wake up anyway. There is a shitstorm in my inbox and I buckle down for another long day. I forgo breakfast and get to work.
12:30 p.m. — Predictably, I am starving! Every week I tell myself I am going to stop ordering lunch and every week I break that promise to myself. Sorry, self. I order a chicken sandwich and allow myself a generous ten minutes to scroll through social media. $15.72
5 p.m. — I have a few more projects that I desperately need to get to tonight. I spend the remainder of my evening juggling those projects and the never-ending emails. There are, of course, a few breaks to pet my dog and scroll through social media. At some point, I surface from my room and head to the kitchen to grab leftovers. I see my mom bought Cadbury eggs so I obviously take a generous handful of those as well. I know a lot of people my age would hate living with their parents, but do they have Cadbury eggs magically appear in their kitchen? I think not!
11:30 p.m. — Logging off!
Daily Total: $15.72

Day Four

8 a.m. — This time, I actually get out of bed. I have a few meetings today (thankfully none on Zoom!) so I spend the morning preparing for those. I miss getting ready for work each day but it is honestly such a timesaver to not have to do my hair and makeup on a daily basis.
10 a.m. — My mom's birthday is later this week and I'm concerned part of her birthday gift won't arrive on time. A few weeks ago, I ordered her a pair of diamond earrings that I really hope she loves. My absolute favourite part of having money is buying gifts. If you're a believer in love languages, mine is definitely gift-giving. I browse a few different flower delivery services before ultimately settling on the classic, 1-800-Flowers, and arrange for the flowers to be delivered to her work in a few days. $70.52
11 a.m. — My dog is going absolutely batshit crazy, so I can tell we had packages delivered. As luck would have it, my mom's earrings arrived today. They are gorgeous! A bit smaller than I expected, but still a great gift (in my humble opinion). I'm super excited for the second package I receive — a bag I ordered from an Instagram ad. I was a bit skeptical when placing the order but I love it in person and am very pleased with my purchase. Can't wait until it's safe to actually go out again and show this bad boy off. (For inquiring minds, the earrings were $144 and the bag was $77, but I paid for both of these items weeks ago.)
1 p.m. — My sister comes home from work early and we decide that we are in the mood for pizza. I give her $20 to go pick it up and let her keep the change. By the time she gets home with the pizza, I'm stuck on a really tense call with a client (where I am thankfully mostly an observer) and can't get to my pizza until an hour later. Booooo. It's cold but it's still pizza, so I won't complain too much. $20
6:30 p.m. — My mom texts me to let me know she made dinner. I thankfully have a lull in workflow and actually sit down at the table to eat with my family! I eat most meals at my desk so I'm grateful for any opportunity I have to enjoy a meal across from a person and not a computer screen. We mostly chat about my dog's birthday, which is tomorrow. We're all set with his presents and his special doggie cake.
7:00 p.m. — In the words of Hannah Montana, "back to the computer...I'm such a nerd!" I spend the rest of my night reviewing contracts and responding to emails. My to-do list keeps getting longer and longer and I genuinely don't know how I'm going to get this work done.
12:30 a.m. — I didn't accomplish all that I wanted to tonight but my body is screaming for sleep and I have to listen. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $90.52

Day Five

8:45 a.m. — Roll out of bed and take the scenic route (aka stop by the kitchen to grab breakfast) to the office today. It's my pup's birthday today so I spend a few minutes playing with him and holding back tears at the thought of him getting older. I truly cannot live without him.
1 p.m. — Meetings, meetings, and more meetings today. Unlike the motto "this meeting could've been an email," these meetings were all pretty productive and helped move projects along. However, they are a huge time suck and I'm very behind on other projects. I heat up a frozen meal for lunch and continue on with my day.
2 p.m. — I'm obviously approaching burnout because I just sent an email to three partners with a really stupid typo. They caught it right away and asked me to fix it. I feel incompetent and embarrassed.
6 p.m. — My parents and sister congregate in my room to discuss dinner plans and we end up deciding on pizza. I treat ($24.05). The pizza comes an hour later, and after we eat it, we sing happy birthday to the dog and give him his presents. He loves his assortment of bones and toys and falls asleep early from the excitement! $24.05
7:30 p.m. — I'm still stewing about my stupid typo but I really need to brush it off. Work on various projects, answer emails, you know the drill.
11:30 p.m. — I log off for the night and watch an episode of Law & Order: SVU before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $24.05

Day Six

8 a.m. — We are approaching the end of the week!! The past few weeks have been busier than usual and I'm dying for the weekend. I've been neglecting the group chat with my college friends and send everyone a good morning message. We chat about post-pandemic plans. God, I can't wait to see people my own age again!
12 p.m. — Uber Eats is calling my name and I must answer...I order Burger King. Their new spicy chicken sandwich is amazing. $17.42
5 p.m. — My mom gets home from work so I take a break from emails and chat with her about her day. It gets lonely being cooped up in this house alone all day!
7 p.m. — My mom makes pasta for dinner which is delicious as always. I make it 15 minutes at the dinner table before needing to run back to my computer to answer urgent emails.
9 p.m. — I hear my mom watching Bravo and can't resist...I fit in an episode of Summer House (Luke sucks) before heading back to work.
1:30 a.m. — Omg. The work just does not stop coming and I want to be able to get as much done before the weekend so I stay up getting shit done.
Daily Total: $17.42

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — It's Friday and it's 70 degrees! I have a few back-to-back calls this morning so I grab a water bottle and granola bar and settle in at my desk.
11:45 a.m. — Obviously that granola bar did not cut it because my stomach is rumbling. Screw it, I'm ordering a big lunch. Bring on the wings and fries! $36.36
3 p.m. — Take a break to listen to Taylor Swift's new song. It's good, but it's no Folklore/Evermore. Happy for her that she's living her best life though!
6:30 p.m. — Family dinner! My parents order Chinese. I don't pay, we try to alternate paying for dinners out.
8 p.m. — I have a $25 gift card to Bloomingdale's that is burning a hole in my pocket. I debate between using it for a bigger purchase like a David Yurman ring or a smaller purchase. I end up ordering Hourglass mascara that I've heard good things about. It comes to $6.50 with tax. $6.50
10:30 p.m. — I log on for another few hours of work. It is kind of nice working when things are quiet, I'm much more productive when I'm not being flooded with emails. I listen to Taylor Swift's new song again and decide I love it now.
Daily Total: $42.86
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money