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A Week In New York, NY, On A $86,000 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.
Editor's Note: Just a head's up, we'll be pausing Money Diaries the week of 12/27 so your trusty Money Diaries editor can have a little R&R. We'll be back in the new year - see you then!

Today: a tech audit analyst who makes $86,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Zara dress.
Currency in USD.
Occupation: Tech Audit Analyst
Industry: Finance
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $86,000
Net Worth: $39,800 ($43,000 in savings, $8,800 in my 401(k), minus debt)
Debt: ~$12,000 in Federal student loans
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,400
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent $1,600 for a studio apartment in Manhattan. I live alone and snagged a COVID deal earlier in 2021, so my last month here will be free.
Loans: $0 right now because my student loans have been frozen since I graduated into a pandemic.
Internet: $75
Utilities: $25 to $50, depending on the season.
Spotify: $9.99
New York Times Digital: $17
New York Times Crossword: $39.99 annually
Apple Storage: $0.99
Streaming: $0. I use my parents', friends', and ex's accounts.
Gym: $0. I have a free membership at the office.
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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?
Yes. I never really questioned it, I just assumed it was the thing you did after high school. I based most of my life decisions as a teenager on my older sister's trajectory. She took AP/IB courses in high school, so I did as well. I went on college tours with her and my dad while I was still in middle school, so I was always excited for when it was my time to apply. Once it was my time, I knew I wanted to study engineering and based on my grades, my dad figured I would really excel in this field. He let me go to a school that was a little bit out of his budget because he figured as an engineer, I could assume a small amount of debt and pay it back in no time. Thankfully, he was right and I'm now in a good position to pay off my loans once they are unfrozen. I'm extremely grateful for my dad's financial planning skills and that our education funds were always his top priority.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up, my parents were big on teaching us how to budget. For back to school shopping, birthdays, and Christmas, there was always a budget that we were not allowed to exceed. My dad always worked and my mom was a stay-at-home mom for most of my childhood, so if we ever wanted anything, we knew we would have to prove why we needed it to our dad. If we couldn't think of a good enough reason, we wouldn't even ask. The main point my parents taught us growing up is that when you get a raise, you don't need to upgrade your whole lifestyle; you never want to be in a position where you're living beyond your means. I try to learn as much as possible from my dad now that I'm in charge of my own finances.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was eager to get a job in high school to put it on my college applications. I worked at a Kumon Learning Center. Once I got this job, my dad gave me my first debit card and I was actually able to see how much money I had to my name, so I decided I never wanted to not be making money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I always worried about asking my parents for money for field trips or sports equipment, but that may have been my own anxieties. I vaguely remember my dad would often say "I'll see if I can move some bills around" if an unexpected expense came up, but other than that, I always felt fortunate.
Do you worry about money now?
I feel super comfortable for my age. I get worried for the day I have a family of my own and more mouths to feed, so sometimes I feel like I'm not saving or growing my money enough.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 22 once I graduated college. My job gave me a generous signing bonus, so I was able to lease my first apartment and start paying all my own expenses right away. If I ever lost my job or housing, my parents would be there for me in a second.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.
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Day One

9 a.m. — Sunday morning. Wake up to the sun peeking in through the blinds. My parents are coming into the city today, but they usually run late so I know I have some extra time to roll around and read in bed.
11 a.m. — Finally decide to get up and get ready. I feel stuffy and my eyes are a bit puffy, so I throw on baggy jeans, a Zara top, my Zara A-line felt coat that everyone seems to own, a warm plaid scarf, some sunglasses, hair in a low bun, and I hit the streets. My sister, N., is coming in from Queens, so I grab a coffee and leisurely stroll to meet her at the subway stop. No matter the weather, I love a good cold brew. $6.15
12 p.m. — N. arrives and we head over to the Met where we meet our parents and my friend, F. I've been going through a lot and know my parents are worried about me, so I invited N. and F. today as deflectors cause I'm just not ready for them to ask how I'm doing. Although it's free for NY residents, we all donate a small amount. You could easily spend all day in this place, but everyone's hungry so we wrap it up after two hours. $15
2 p.m. — I'm parched once we exit, so I buy bottled water from a street meat truck and get F. one too. We then grab some Mediterranean bowls for lunch. My dad pays. $5.75
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6 p.m. — Quick turnaround as we run up my four-story walkup and get ready for a concert. N. and I run to catch the subway downtown to my friend, K.'s place, and tap my Apple Pay to enter. Since I don't go into the office every day yet, I don't pay for a monthly subway pass and just pay as I go. $2.75
7 p.m. — We taxi from K.'s apartment to the venue. I try to take taxis instead of Uber as much as possible. She pays so I'll probably get a Venmo request in a month. The show is vaccine-only, so I figure this is a good place to mention that everyone I spend time with this week is fully vaccinated, and in NYC, you have to show your vax card to sit indoors anywhere.
8 p.m. — We get to the venue and we've decided on sodas for the night. Sometimes, a sugar rush trumps being drunk. I pay for the first round. $13.80
11 p.m. — It's a smaller venue, so the band comes out and socializes with the crowd after the show. We get to meet them and clarify some lyrics that we weren't sure about. We taxi back and K. pays again. I grab my things, and N. and I head to the subway to go home. We make a pit stop at the bodega so N. can get a turkey sandwich. We continue walking and compare notes on healing a broken heart. What a wild Sunday! $2.75
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Daily Total: $46.20

Day Two

8 a.m. — Back to our regularly scheduled weekday monotony. My grandma sent me a Starbucks gift card, so I load it onto the app and work from Starbucks today.
1 p.m. — I wrap up all my morning meetings and tasks for the day, so I pack up my belongings and take a stroll to listen to my podcast, Robinhood Snacks Daily. I wander into Goodwill where I find two pairs of black pants that will easily become a staple in my wardrobe, a black turtleneck, a Zara romper, and a fancy oversized white button up. $42.75
3 p.m. — I get back home in time for an afternoon call with the team I'm hoping to join. They're all so awesome and smart, and I can't believe they take time out of their busy day to talk to me. It's been a positive experience networking so far, and I could not be more grateful. Since the sun sets so early, I log off at 4 and bundle up for my wellness stroll through Central Park.
6 p.m. — I return home, heat up some leftover, turn on Grace and Frankie, and reply to some texts from my ex. Neither of us is doing great, so we're coordinating a time to meet up.
9 p.m. — I'm expecting a call from my pal in California. We get lost catching up and before I know it, it's midnight. Time for bed.
Daily Total: $42.75

Day Three

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7:30 a.m. — I wake up and talk myself out of going to the office. Instead of using my time to get ready and look presentable, I take a quick morning walk to pick up my laundry. It's not ready yet. Since I'm empty-handed, I decide to grab a cinnamon raisin bagel toasted with cream cheese and I leave a tip. $4.23
9 a.m. — Work, meetings, more work. I'm in tech audit, so it's pretty high stress right now to get our quarterly deliverables completed before people start signing out for the holidays. I find some spare time to take inventory of all the ways I add value to my team. I plan to advocate for myself and leverage my (hopefully positive) year-end feedback to influence my raise and bonus this year.
3 p.m. — I try to pick up my laundry again. This time she's picking up her kids from school so the store's locked up. I wait around and make some friends who are also waiting. She returns and I get my laundry, pay, and remember I need to brainstorm a Christmas gift for her. Laundry is so awkward to carry. I drop it off at home and head out for my daily walk. $17
7 p.m. — On the way home from my stroll, I grab some chicken noodle soup, kale, avocado, and chocolate-covered almonds from Fairway. I return home, heat some soup, and tune into The Voice. I'm totally #teamkelly this season. $19.08
10 p.m. — My ex gets cut from work at a reasonable time, so tonight's the night. We walk around the neighbourhood for about two hours. It's equally nice and painful. I get home with a lot on my mind, so I take some melatonin and crawl into bed.
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Daily Total: $40.31

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up sad and realize maybe it's not such a good idea to help each other move on. I definitely set myself back a few steps in the healing process. I morosely roll out of bed for my 8 a.m. meeting. I fire off some emails, make myself a bowl of berries and almond butter, grind up Blue Bottle medium roast beans, and brew an iced coffee. My most prized possession is my Ninja coffee maker because I only enjoy freezing cold caffeine. I sulk some more and take a stab at the NYT crossword, then get back to work.
12 p.m. — I need fresh air, so I head down the block to print a return label. It's $1 to print. I don't have cash on me, so the guy hooks me up this time and says to come pay him when I have cash. Maybe he took pity on my puffy eyes. I put on the Snacks Daily podcast and stroll to the post office.
1 p.m. — I return home for my afternoon meetings and then give myself permission to log off early for some self-care. Yoga, a face mask, a shower, and some cold spoons to de-puff my eyes. Breakups are tough.
5 p.m. — I throw on my newly thrifted black jeans, a sweater, and my Zara A-line coat and hop on the subway downtown to meet a friend for drinks. Proud of myself for not canceling. He's an old intern friend, so it's a great distraction catching up on things unrelated to my new relationship status. $21
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7 p.m. — F. texts and asks if I want to grab pizza and wine further downtown. I say sure and jump on the train. $2.75
7:30 p.m. — F. sees me and knows something is up. I unload everything that was discussed last night, and inevitably I'm crying. You could imagine how awkward the staff at Emmy Squared feels. However, it feels good to let it out to a good friend, regardless of the setting. I paid for our last dinner, so F. foots the bill tonight. We each leave with plenty of leftovers. She walks me back to the train, and we hug goodbye. I head back uptown and reflect how grateful I am for F. $2.75
11 p.m. — Instead of transferring, I get off early and walk the rest of the way home. I love walking if you haven't noticed. I get home, listen to some Red (Taylor's Version), torture myself with Snapchat memories, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $26.50

Day Five

8 a.m. — Wake up sad again in time for my meetings. I have them back to back this AM, but always enjoy catching up with my one colleague over our data qualms and how we could do better.
11 a.m. — I find a $10 bill and go break it at the coffee shop next door. All I need is $1 for the print shop, so I tip the lady the remainder. She is so sweet and the coffee is delicious. Back into the print shop, I go to settle my debts. $10
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12 p.m. — Once home, I sauté some kale, fry some eggs, and mash some avocado. Then I log back in and power away at a few tasks. After my afternoon meetings, I fall into a blackhole reading Reddit breakup threads, specifically when religion is the catalyst. Feels nice to know I'm not the only one going through this in the 21st century.
4 p.m. — I wrap up some tasks and fire off some emails and call it quits for now. There's no worse feeling than going through the motions in a job you dislike on a broken heart. Time for my daily stroll. Snacks Daily in, world out.
6 p.m. — I stroll aimlessly in Central Park for a good two hours. I window shop on my way home. I cave and pop into Ladurée for some macarons as a treat for the week I'm having. $6.80
7:30 p.m. — I finally make it home, throw some leftover pizza in the oven, and do a quick yoga/pilates video while it's heating. I eat, shower, and log back into work because there's a piece of code I reviewed earlier that's bothering me now.
12 a.m. — After fixating on java code for longer than anticipated, I finally log out and brush my teeth.
Daily Total: $16.80

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up just really feeling all the emotions again. I pull my laptop into bed and start up my Zoom meeting. At 9, we have a learning session, so I let that play in the background while I do some dishes and clean some other odds and ends around the apartment.
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1 p.m. — I've gotten an honest amount of work done for the day towards my weekly goals, so I decide it's time for a lunchtime stroll. Airpods in, Snacks Daily podcast on, and I'm out the door. I stumble into this bookstore. I quickly realize all the books are in French and I am incapable of understanding any of these titles. However, it is gorgeous in here so I slowly peruse the cover art. My podcast ends, and I remember Adele dropped a new album recently. Just in time for my broken heart. On my way home, I pick up Fresh&Co. $17.13
6:30 p.m. — All of my work goals for the week have been completed so it's safe to say we have reached the weekend. A friend of a friend is having an open bar birthday party for $75. I figure if I have four drinks, I'll get my money back. $75
8 p.m. — I quickly straighten my hair, throw on a bodysuit, some leather pants, and a shimmery loose button up, and tap ApplePay for the train. I arrive at my friend Q.'s, we catch up and pregame a bit, and then head to the birthday pregame. It's chilly out and we don't want to waste too much time hailing a cab so we check Uber. It's cheaper on my phone (how does that happen sometimes?) So I call it. Q. says she'll get the Uber from the pregame to the bar. $21.98
3 a.m. — Really awesome night of dancing. This place plays the best songs; Love Story by Taylor Swift came on and the whole bar sang together in unison. Leaving the bar, I trip face-first into this ivy wall at the entrance. Battle wounds include a scratch across my nose and my upper lip. Somehow I always injure my face right before the holidays. I just know Abuela is going to have something to say. I'm pretty hungry, and this guy says he'll go get meatballs with me. I'm a little drunk so, of course, I'll go get meatballs with some boy I just met. Turns out the place is closed, so he has the taxi drop me off at home. A free ride, score! I heat up some pizza and crawl into bed with my slice. Sweet dreams!
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Daily Total: $114.11

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up super groggy wondering why my face hurts so badly. Oh yeah, I have two left feet. I open up Snapchat to assess the damage and can't help but laugh at myself. My friend sends me a video of him eating a bacon egg and cheese, and now that's all my hungover self can think about. I rise, bundle up, press play on Kasey Musgraves, and dance over to the deli. I order a sausage, egg, and cheese on a roll with salt, pepper, and ketchup and grab a chocolate Nesquik. Then, I continue my dance over to Central Park and grab a bench because what's better than hungover people-watching and eating a greasy breakfast sandwich? $12.58
12 p.m. — F.'s sister and friend are in town and I made plans to grab brunch with them. My head still feels fuzzy, but I decide I can't sit around and wallow all day long. I put on some tights, knee-high black boots, and the oversized white button-up I thrifted with a leather blazer. I brush my hair back into a low-pony (best for traveling so it doesn't get all knotty), and I'm out the door. It's my first time wearing these boots and I immediately realize the heel is going to be a problem. I'm usually an extremely fast walker, but it's taken me two songs instead of one to get to the subway station today. I tap my ApplePay and head down. $2.75
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2 p.m. — Brunch is colourful, boozy, and delicious, as it should be. We order an eggplant dip, hummus, and a spicy feta dip with warm pita, a big salad with shrimp, chicken souvlaki bao buns, smashed potatoes, and french fries. I order a piña drink and we all split everything. F. pays and will Venmo request us all later. We decide to leisurely window shop the day away and bop around SoHo.
4 p.m. — Zara SoHo on a weekend is packed. We decide we'll all take turns holding the spot in line as the others shop. I'm a first shift shopper and my main goal is to find a dress for a December wedding. I pick out three potential dresses, plus a teddy coat and a super soft button-up sweater. I head to F. and we narrow the dresses down to two. I'll try them both on at home and return one (or both) at the Zara uptown. $255.65
5 p.m. — The girls could really use another drink. We head into this edgy Mexican restaurant that is giving off major Ikea vibes, but it's warm and they check our Zara purchases at the coat check, so what more could we ask for? Three of us order spicy margaritas and one orders an espresso martini. We also put in an order for some guac. The guac is delicious, but we decide we could use some more substance, so F. and I order a quesadilla to split, and the others each get a shrimp taco ($8 a taco!). F.'s sister pays and will Venmo request me later. I'm really racking up a debt with these sisters.
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6:30 p.m. — I part ways with F. and gang and head over to K.'s apartment to help her with a project. My feet are killing me! K. is my most talented friend, currently designing costumes for a commercial, and needs me to stand still so she can figure out how to construct a cape. My task here is to essentially be a human mannequin. I've considered surprising her with a mannequin one day, but given the space limitations in the city that wouldn't be a welcome surprise.
12 a.m. — Great quality time with K., but boy am I tired so back home I go. I force myself to shower as quickly as possible, brush my teeth, and crawl into bed. My love life and work life may not be where I want them to be right now, but I fall more in love with my friends and sisters each and every day and can't begin to express my gratitude for how patient they're being with me.
Daily Total: $270.98
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