Money Diaries logo

A Week In New York, NY, On A $75,000 USD Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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: a corporate advocate who makes $75,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a soft serve cone with rainbow sprinkles.
Editor's note: All prices are in USD.
Occupation: Advocate
Industry: Corporate Wellness
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $75,000 (My partner and I don't combine finances, but we live together and he makes $103,000.)
Net Worth: Currently $91,008 according to Mint (Emergency fund: $10,246, checking account: $8,362.50, retirement accounts: $60,467, brokerage: $12,000, credit cards: $2,068 currently but I don't keep a rolling balance. Note: for the remainder of 2021, I'm paying for my expenses out of checking and contributing 100% post-required deductions to my 401(k) since I switched jobs and lost access to a 401(k) for a bit and already maxed out my Roth IRA.)
Debt: $0 (I paid off $65,000 in student loans. I was making $130,000 when I first graduated college, but was unhappy so I changed careers this year.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): Right now $0 due to 401(k) catch up, will be $1,550 after normal deductions come 2022
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,350 (I live with my partner, J. Our gross rent on months we pay rent is $1,833 each but annualized we will be paying $1,350 each because we got a few months free. We split it down the middle. Between my higher salary prior, his period of unemployment, and our salaries now, our annual income is pretty much the same. We moved in together this year.)
Electric: $25 (my half)
Spotify: $9.99
Phone Bill: $85 (Will start getting $50 of this reimbursed next month.)
Hulu: $13 (But I'm cancelling it this month.)
Cloud Storage: $5
Drybar: $89 for two blowouts a month, not including tip.
Medication: $20
Annual Expenses:
Building Gym Access: $500 annually
Password Manager: $29.99 billed annually
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 absolutely. My family was lower-middle class and had lots of debt and thought more debt (student loans) was the way out. In my case they were right, but I do shudder when I think about how casually I signed on to take on so much debt. My parents also gave me $200 a month during my first two years of undergrad.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
No conversations about money, but lots of visuals about money, including foreclosure notices, car repossession, and depression symptoms from both parents during the worst of it. I taught myself financial literacy in college because I knew I didn't want to live in a cycle of debt.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a cashier at a grocery store starting at age 16 and then as a barista until college. Then in college, I worked in restaurants and had internships for money/experience.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn't worry about money because I felt protected by my parents — I knew there wasn't money, but I wasn't scared by that fact. That was probably naïve on my part.
Do you worry about money now?
I did until I paid off my debt. Now, not so much. I don't mind not having a high salary anymore but debt is what scares me so once I got rid of that I felt free and flexible.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 20, when my parents stopped giving me money and I started giving money to my parents from my various jobs. I don't have a financial safety net but I have support network safety net — nobody in my life would give me money, but friends and family would take me in if I needed it. Perhaps living with J. is a safety net of sorts because we've each paid full rent when the other was in a period of unemployment (both of us paid it back though once we were employed again).
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

9 a.m. — It's Saturday — yay! J. and I are going on a 36-hour trip for some hiking before it gets cold. We pack light and I use a waterproof backpack J. bought me back when we had adventurous travel plans pre-COVID that never came to fruition. We pack some snacks — popcorn, Quest bars, a small bottle of vodka, and Red Bull (can't you tell we're survivalists?). I buy our MetroNorth tickets ($32 for both) and we take the subway to Grand Central ($2.75). $34.75
11:30 a.m. — We arrive at our B&B and it's super cute. We take an hour to settle then head out on our first hike of the weekend. We get a little lost along the way as the trail isn't well-marked, but we finally make it to the top and lay on a blanket for a while. J. reads comic books and I listen to the podcast RedHanded. I consider signing up for their Patreon for more content but I decide against it.
6 p.m. — We finish our hike, shower, change, and go into town for dinner. We order a pizza and calamari — but the calamari is just for me, since J. is vegetarian. We also order some wine ($52 but J. pays). We walk around the shops and browse at antique stores and I spend way too long at a second-hand shop. J. ends up buying me a bracelet ($9). We make it back to our B&B before 9 and watch Netflix and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $34.75

Day Two

9 a.m. — We wake up and go downstairs to the breakfast part of our B&B! It's a four-course meal and it's DELICIOUS. It was included with the nightly rate of the room, so we fully enjoy and hang out on the back patio of the space. We talk, drink some complimentary wine, and walk around the garden.
1 p.m. — We're off on another hike! It's our last day so we pack up before heading out. After our hike, we check out (I prepaid this) and J. leaves a $40 cash tip for a couple of staff members.
9 p.m. — We're home! I bought our MetroNorth tickets back ($32) and swiped for myself to head home ($2.75). We come home to an empty fridge so we order Thai for delivery. I get pad see ew, shrimp dumplings, and an egg roll. J. gets pineapple fried rice and roti since he can't eat the apps I ordered. We munch, watch Squid Game, and go to bed! $34.75
Daily Total: $34.75

Day Three

8 a.m. — J.'s fifth alarm goes off and I decide to wake up along with him. As usual, he gets ready in two seconds and heads to work (he doesn't have to go into the office but he enjoys it). I sip coffee for 45 minutes then brush my hair for a 9 a.m. meeting. I work until noon, then head outside for a walk along the river.
4 p.m. — My work slows down for the day, so I go online to shop for a Halloween costume since the one I ordered last week doesn't fit well. I buy a few random pieces to put together a Yoda costume and order it. It comes out to $59 but for Amazon purchases, we use J.'s card since he gets 5% cashback.
8 p.m. — After browsing some recipes, I head out to buy some groceries. I get ingredients for a no-bake pumpkin cheesecake recipe, plus some staples like deli meat, eggs, cheese, and some high-protein snacks for J. I buy keto cookie dough since J. likes to try new products (and eats them, even if he hates them). By the time I'm home, J. has already stopped by and left for the gym. I start making the cheesecake and we have dinner together when he's back — nothing fancy, just a Banza pizza since we're both feeling lazy. $70
Daily Total: $70

Day Four

7 a.m. — I'm up early doing yoga. J. is still asleep so I do a video I have memorized without audio. I could go out and do yoga in the living room but my kitty is out there and he never lets me do yoga in peace. After, I start working and stay in the zone all day.
4 p.m. — I used to be fun and spontaneous before COVID and I'm slowly getting that back. I'm feeling bored and antsy so I begin brainstorming something fun to do tonight but decide it's too much effort and I should just find a movie to watch later. BUT THEN I'm like NO. I used to go out on weekdays??? I can do this?? So I book a comedy show for J. and me. It starts at 8. I text J. about our plans and he's excited. $10
11 p.m. — The show is great! They require two drinks per person but we both aren't in the mood to drink so we ordered sodas. J. pays ($20). We walk home and we stop by Duane Reade for some seltzers to keep in the apartment and I buy some gummy worms. $23
Daily Total: $33

Day Five

7 a.m. — I wake up and get right to work.
2 p.m. — I've been working all morning and need a break! I live near a school so there's always an ice cream truck out in the afternoon. It's pretty warm out so I go on a walk since I've been sitting down all day. I buy myself a vanilla soft serve with rainbow sprinkles for $5 and leave a $1 tip in his jar. I walk for a while thoroughly enjoying my treat and listening to a podcast. $6
6 p.m. — J. and I never eat the same thing and never really eat at the same time but I'm making chicken with a marinade he likes so I decide to make him some tofu as well. Turns out we're out of tofu, so I run out to Whole Foods and buy two packages. He gets home and we eat together. $4
9 p.m. — Getting ready for bed even though it's early. I end up staying up for an extra hour looking for a new book on Goodreads. I just read Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell and enjoyed it, so I'm looking for another good thriller. I can't find anything I'm ready to buy immediately, so I go to bed around 10:30, annoyed that I was staring at my phone for so long before bed.
Daily Total: $10

Day Six

7 a.m. — I get up and get ready. I have a busy morning so I dive right into meetings at 9.
1 p.m. — It's now it's time for a break! It's a friend's birthday soon and I know she's been dying to see this show so I ask her to keep the date free for a surprise and buy three tickets. They were $104 each after fees and everything. I'm excited! $312
7 p.m. — I go on a long walk after work and realize I'm out of sunscreen and lip balm. I also notice we're low on paper towels and dish soap so I hop on Amazon to order some more. I use J.'s card ($32). J. comes home around 8. He brings home leftover mac and cheese from work so I eat that with some broccoli. We drink some seltzers and catch up before going to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $312

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Morning yoga time except this time I follow my own flow — no video but I put on RedHanded (murder and yoga — soothing right?). This time, I donate to their Patreon to unlock some new episodes since I'm almost done with their entire free library. After, I work. I enjoy the minimal stress in this job over my last one, and cruise through the day. $5
5 p.m. — After work, I shop online for a couple of new sweaters now that it's chilly. I browse a couple of different sites and end up buying a couple of items on sale from Aritzia. $120
7 p.m. — J. comes home and wants to make a fancy cocktail and cook together, so we go to the store to buy some ingredients. He pays for tequila, apple liqueur, and seltzer ($60). I buy some peppers and onions to make fajitas and I pay for it ($6). We go home, make our cocktails and sip while cooking dinner, then connect with friends to see if anyone is around tonight. A couple we are close to is having dinner nearby and they ask if we want to grab a drink. Since we just made cocktails, we invite them over to our balcony for drinks. $6
11 p.m. — We're all a little tipsy and the munchies kick in, so F. orders us pizzas and appetizers ($52 after tip, but he paid and our friends will Venmo him half). We hang out until 1, then start winding down. Our friends head out a little before 2 and J. and I get into bed immediately after.
Daily Total: $131
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