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A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $95,000 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: a senior account manager who makes $95,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Baked By Melissa cupcakes.
All currency in USD.
Trigger Warning: This Money Diary mentions an eating disorder.
Occupation: Senior Account Manager
Industry: Music/Entertainment
Age: 28
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $95,000
Net Worth: -$9,500 (Savings: $8,325, checking: $600, Ellevest Account: $33 (I had $500 in this account as a starter investment account, but removed it to hit my savings goal), Betterment Traditional IRA: $8,251, Betterment Roth IRA: $1,191, Work Retirement Account: $1,403, minus debt.)
Debt: $21,800 (all federal student loans)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,577
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,575 (I live alone in a studio.)
Utilities: $100
Student Loans: $0 right now because of the student loan payment pause
Cell Phone: $20 (The total bill is $70, but my work covers up to $50.) Ellevest Contribution: $20, plus $1 fee
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Planoly Subscription: $9 (I run an Instagram on the side and this helps me schedule posts, plus the tips/tools they provide overall help me in my day job.)
Apple TV: $4.99
Internet: $40
Renters' Insurance: $16
Abortion Fund Donation: $5
Spotify: $9.99
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 was expected to attend college. When my parents got married, neither of them had completed a college education. I don't think my dad cared very much whether we finished school or not, but my mom was a major proponent of higher education. She ended up going back to college online when I was finishing high school. I am also one of six kids and watched my older sister and two older brothers go on to earn their college degrees, so I always figured I'd follow the same path.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was always a topic that brought up stress. My parents did not know how to manage it or ever venture to learn how. My dad was a janitor and my mom a secretary for most of my life and they did odd jobs on the side, such as supplying newspapers to neighbourhood newspaper deliverers or garbage-picking items and selling them at flea markets or on eBay. Mostly I remember my mom constantly saying "everything works out in the end," and also that we were "rich in love." The only financial advice I can recall my father giving me is to tell the credit card company to "go to hell" if they raised my limit. My mom grew up quite poor, so she didn't have much base knowledge about money. My dad comes from a well-off family, but never quite absorbed my grandparents' approach to money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my working papers the very second I was able to and started delivering newspapers. I got this job because my parents could not provide a lot of things for me and my siblings, so if we wanted something, we were expected to obtain that by our own means. I definitely didn't make a lot of money delivering papers, but it allowed me to get groceries or clothing items my parents didn't buy.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, always. Growing up, my family used a variety of assistance programs: food stamps, the local food pantry, government assistance to pay for heat in the winter, free school lunches, etc. Because I have five siblings, we could sometimes fund things together. For example, my siblings and I would often pool together money from our jobs to get a pizza for the family on a Friday night. My father, however, would often do erratic things like giving his last $20 to the church, leaving us scrambling to figure out bills and/or groceries. For a long time, we were also a one-car family. I remember walking a mile to the grocery store with my mom and siblings or 25 minutes to the local park for a free activity day in the summer. Nothing ever felt easy. It was very apparent that anything relating to money was always going to be an uphill battle.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I don't think I worry quite as much as I did in the past though, because I paid off all of my credit card debt ($17,000) and finally built a three-month emergency fund. In the past, if I ever had a crisis I had to depend on credit cards or ask my big sister if she had any money to lend me. I learned when I was younger that I cannot ask my parents for help because they are in a large amount of debt and generally spend whatever money they do have quickly. I am glad we used a lot of social programs growing up because wherever I live I'm always able to identify where the local food pantry or library is in case my safety net dries up. This always helps me feel more at ease.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
This is a tricky question — I suppose when I was 17 and got to college. My mom helped me take out student loans, which covered my housing and food. Any other costs such as books, clothes, or activities I had to pay for. Given that, I applied for and received a credit card. (The first of many, resulting in a massive amount of debt that I would have to clean up post-college.) I also had a work-study job at college and odd jobs like babysitting.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When my boyfriend broke up with me last year, I told him I'd prefer to move out of our apartment and start fresh somewhere else. Fortunately, I had a savings account and was able to move on my own, but my mom wanted to help out, so she gave me $1,000. It was very sweet and a bit of a strange feeling as it's the only time that's ever happened. Other than that, no.

Day One

9 a.m. — I wake up late (oops). Last night I went to an open mic and had a few drinks. I'm not hurting, just wishing I had some more sleep time. I get out of bed, go to the bathroom, and set up a little station to give my cat her medicine. Last week I noticed she had a spot of fur missing and within hours she was bleeding. I took her to the vet ASAP and found out she had a skin infection, so I need to give her medicine every 14 hours for two weeks. After I finish her first round of medicine, I make my oatmeal, pour a cold brew, take my own medicine, and log on to work.
1 p.m. — Time for lunch! Work is slow today (crossing my fingers that I don't jinx that) so I'm able to cook myself lunch and clean up around my apartment. I make an egg sandwich, grab a diet soda, and eat at my desk. I'm a little sleepy and would like a coffee, but it's probably too late in the afternoon for that. I'm going to finish a report I'm working on, put the rest of my makeup on, and go pick up my prescription shortly.
3:30 p.m. — I change into real clothes and head over to CVS to pick up my prescriptions. I take medication daily for anxiety/depression and a neurological condition, so I have to be sure to factor in the cost of medication into my budget. I receive a 90-day supply for all of my prescriptions, which I prefer over monthly refills. I pick up my prescription and drop two half-used prescription pill bottles I used for an acute issue into the safe disposal box. Finally, I grab a container of Lysol wipes because I'm almost out at home. $21.09
6 p.m. — I've been dealing with some residual cramping ever since I got my IUD replaced a few weeks ago, and today isn't great, so I decide to take it easy. For dinner, I make vegetarian tacos and drink seltzer. A few weeks ago, I rented a car to go to a concert in Philly with some friends and when I got back I used the rental to do a massive grocery haul at Wegmans. I'm actually still a bit shocked that the haul has lasted me this long — it's shaping up to be a month. I settle on the couch to watch an episode of Loot before I start guitar practice and go to the gym.
8 p.m. — My neighbour texts me to let me know she's dropping off a baby gate for me to use when I dog-sit her puppy on Thursday. I have a cat who does not particularly get along with dogs just yet, so we're trying this method out. I used to be my neighbour's paid dog-sitter, but now we just trade each other animal care when needed, which works out nicely. It makes me feel better to know someone in my building can help with my cat if needed. My neighbour says she's going for a walk with her dog and I'm invited, so I join after she drops off the baby gate. We stop at a bar so she can get a snack and a drink and she buys me a cocktail. We chat so long that before I know it it's 10 and I've got to switch my guitar practice and gym visit to tomorrow. Once I get home, I take my makeup off and head to bed.
Daily Total: $21.09

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up early so I can shower and put my makeup on before work (I usually shower at night, but last night I got home too late). As soon as my alarm goes off, my cat jumps into bed and flops next to me to cuddle. Guess I have to stay put! I hang with her until about 8:15 and then jump into the shower. After I shower I make oatmeal, pour cold brew, and read a newsletter. I have a doctor's appointment today and I was planning on going into work before going to the doctor's office on my lunch break, but I decide I'll be more productive if I work from home this morning, head to the doctor, and then go to work.
12 p.m. — I spend $2.75 to take the bus to the subway to get to my doctor's office. When I arrive, my doctor is very sweet, especially since I voice my concerns over gaining weight due to working from home and emotional eating. She says that all of my labs look good and I should focus on healthy behaviours but not get too carried away, which I appreciate as she knows I have a history of ED. Before I leave, I check to see if I have a co-pay and am told no. Nice! I use my phone to pay for the train again. $5.50
1:30 p.m. — On my way into the office, I pick up Baked By Melissa cupcakes for my boss and coworkers. I am trying to be more social because that's something I struggle with. Plus, my boss got us cupcakes a few weeks ago so it's nice to return the favour. I also stop at Starbucks to use a gift card. The total for my cold brew is a few cents over what's left on my gift card, so I opt to reload $10 on the app. To my dismay, I accidentally select the $25 option. Ugh. $42.55
2 p.m. — I finally arrive in the office and barely anyone is here. We're on a hybrid model, but I guess a lot of people are travelling this week. I get settled, finish up a project that's due EOD, and go about distributing cupcakes. I have a nice chat with a couple of coworkers and am glad I came in. I love working from home, but it can be difficult when you live alone. It's good to get some face time every now and then. When I get a break, I write to Starbucks customer service to try to get my $15 back.
4:45 p.m. — My boss has to head out early, so I follow her lead and pack up. I swipe my phone for the subway, another $2.75. I find a seat on the train and take out my Kindle to read. I was supposed to grab drinks with a friend tonight but she's not feeling well, so I head directly home. $2.75
6 p.m. — I'm home and ready to watch the new episode of Only Murders in the Building. I grab a couple of slices of pizza from the fridge (which I got for free via the Field Agent app) and plop down in front of the TV. During the show, I receive an email from Starbucks customer service telling me that I have to call them to address the card overcharge issue. I make a note for tomorrow.
9:30 p.m. — I'm back from the gym downstairs and freshly showered. Time for a few minutes of guitar practice (I play acoustic, I promise it's quiet and I'm not bothering my neighbours!), a little bit of reading, then bed.
Daily Total: $50.80

Day Three

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I'm SO not into waking up today. I woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn't fall back asleep, so I scrolled Twitter for an hour, which was obviously not a great idea. I fell back to sleep around 5, but my rhythm is definitely messed up. My cat jumps on the bed for cuddles and I scroll through TikTok to rouse myself. I realise that I didn't make cold brew last night because the container was in my dishwasher, so I order an egg sandwich and a cold brew on DoorDash. I recently received a trial of DashPass through my Chase credit card, so I avoid fees and get Summer of DashPass deals. Normally I wouldn't subscribe to a food delivery app and I have a note in my calendar to cancel this trial before I am charged. After eating breakfast, I apply my cat's medicine and take my own. Time to log on for work. $17.67
2 p.m. — I have therapy and it is a really good session. I'm a year and a few months out of a breakup and doing a lot better, but there are definitely some issues to still work through. I lived with my ex-boyfriend for three years and it was a really rough process to move out after breaking up. I pay my co-pay via Zelle and heat up some vegetarian tacos for lunch. $42
4 p.m. — I take a break to return something to Amazon via UPS, pick up soap from CVS, and drop off a book in my neighbourhood's Little Free Library. My coupon game is strong at CVS and the soap only costs me $0.32. Nice! It feels good to get outside after working from my apartment all day, but by the time I'm close to my building again, I'm ready for the AC. I get home, get changed, and head to the gym. $0.32
10:30 p.m. — I'm back from the gym, freshly showered, and have cleaned up the kitchen and given my cat her medicine. Time for some *very quiet* guitar practice, reading, then bed.
Daily Total: $59.99

Day Four

8:45 a.m. — Somehow I've overslept again. I'm pretty sure my alarm went off and I just ignored it. I open my eyes and my cat is snuggled next to me and also sleeping on top of my phone. I pull myself out of bed, take out my retainer, and brush my teeth. I made a note not to forget to make cold brew last night, so thankfully it's ready in the fridge. I pour a glass and make a bowl of oatmeal. I eat breakfast while reading a newsletter and checking in on work emails. I get a text asking if it's okay for maintenance to come to my unit to unclog my shower and I give them the go-ahead. I've had to request this more times than I'd like to admit because, despite my best efforts, my hair somehow always finds its way deep inside the drain.
12 p.m. — Time for lunch! I heat up the last of the vegetarian tacos and grab a diet Dr. Pepper. I eat at my desk, scrolling through a deck for a project that's due tomorrow. I intended to get this done today, but I'm really just not in the head space. I've been in a bit of a lull with work lately.
4 p.m. — I grab some red grapes out of the fridge as a snack and refill my water bottle. I'm trying my best to put a dent in this work project today so my boss can review it early tomorrow. I'd love to log off early tomorrow. A group text I'm in lights up — my friends want to go to a Sofar Sounds show together. We agree on a date and time and I put a note in my calendar to buy tickets tomorrow. I technically have the money now, but for the past few months I've been experimenting with putting myself on a weekly “allowance” so I don't blow my entire paycheck in the first week I get it. It's been pretty helpful and also allows me to be more intentional.
7 p.m. — My neighbour swings by to drop off her dog. She's going away for a while and I'll be watching her dog, so our pets need some time to get used to each other. She ends up hanging out at my apartment for a while and we drink wine and chat. When she leaves, I have to get back to work as I procrastinated a bit today. I finish two projects and realise I'm hungry/want one more drink, so I order vegetarian buffalo wings, fries, and beer. This is 100% a drunk impulse purchase but it happens to the best of us. I eat while watching an episode of Degrassi on the HBO app (I trade my friend my Apple TV subscription for her HBO subscription). Then it's lights out and time for bed. $54.57
Daily Total: $54.57

Day Five

9 a.m. — I wake up slightly hungover and wishing I didn't have to work. I've made a lot of progress in my job, but I still have some issues with my boss. There was not a lot of training in this role, and I've grown accustomed to trying to get my questions answered elsewhere because my boss tends to become irritated by questions. Not great when you have anxiety! I give my cat her medicine, pour a cup of cold brew, and eat a Clif bar.
12 p.m. — Time to get my nails done. I haven't been to the salon in months because I'm trying to save money, but I want to look cute when I see my friend this weekend and also not bite all of my nails off. I go out of my comfort zone and pick the colour orange. Unfortunately, they ended their weekday discount for Fridays, which I didn't know since I haven't been here in so long. I end up paying full price plus tip. $36
1 p.m. — I'm back home and ready to knock out this project. I make sure my nails are fully dry, fill up my water bottle, and put some grapes in a bowl.
2:45 p.m. — Project is DONE and sent to my boss — fingers crossed she just emails me back revisions or, even better, has none. I get a lot of anxiety when I have to get on the phone with her. I pause to transfer a PayPal payment I received from mystery shopping to my bank account and buy my tickets for Sofar Sounds. $25
4 p.m. — I'm feeling a little sick so I make some pasta with chickpeas and grab a diet soda. I feel much better after eating, and receive minimal feedback from my boss via Slack, yay!
6 p.m. — I shower and get ready to go to Manhattan to see my friend ($2.75 for the subway). We were going to get piercings, but end up walking around a bit until we stop at a bar for a snack of chips and salsa ($11.32 with tip). My friend is going through some difficult family dynamics and a rough spot in her love life and we each take turns venting. We've been friends since college when I first moved to NYC and I'm so happy we've stayed in touch — we've really grown up a lot together. When we wrap up, I grab a water bottle ($1.50) from a bodega and use my phone to pay for the train back to Brooklyn ($2.75). I'm home around 10 and in bed by 11. $18.32
Daily Total: $79.32

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up, briefly fall back asleep, and open my eyes again. I have to check train times for a trip to Connecticut today to see a friend from college. I ask my friend if it's okay if I come a little later and she's cool with it. She very kindly sent me Metro North tickets in the mail, so I don't have to buy them on my phone. I get up, give my cat her medicine, take my medicine, and shower. I put my makeup on while listening to the latest How To Money podcast then head to a bakery to buy some pastries for my friend and her husband.
11 a.m. — I get to the bakery and get pastries and a cold brew. The pastries are absolutely incredible and I'm so excited for her to try them. The total is $25 and I throw $2 in the tip jar since it appears to be an especially busy morning. $27
12:00 p.m. — I scan my phone and get on the subway towards Grand Central. The subway is surprisingly more crowded than when I have to commute during the week. I don't love this, especially since we're now dealing with COVID, monkeypox, and polio, but I try not to think too much about that. I get to my train and take a seat. The Metro North takes off towards Stamford while I read my book on my Kindle and listen to the new Beyoncé album. $2.75
1 p.m. — I make it! I hop in my friend's car and we drive to a cute little place for brunch. We haven't seen each other since college graduation (seven years ago!) so there's a lot to catch up on. One positive impact of COVID was that we got back in touch via video chats when everyone was stuck in their house. Since then, it's really been like no time has passed. We order mimosas, banana bread, and quiche. We split the check and then walk around outside the restaurant near the water for a bit. $46.65
2:30 p.m. — Once we jump back in the car, we decide to make a pit stop at Home Goods because my friend says there's a cat toy there that she wants to get for my cat. The toy is a crinkly tunnel that looks like a pumpkin with catnip in the liner. She's so excited about the prospect of my cat venturing into this tunnel, I can't stop laughing and buy it. We then head to her house and hang with her husband while eating pastries and drinking wine. I recently got back on the dating apps, which becomes a topic of discussion. Honestly, it's been miserable and I deleted Hinge last week. My friend wants to swipe on the apps, though, so I acquiesce and download Bumble and let her swipe. She realises quickly that it's a wasteland (lol) and decides to give me back my phone. $13
5 p.m. — We all decide we need real food and walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner. We order a shared plate that includes delicious olives and bread, plus a couple more cocktails. I order a veggie sandwich for my main plate and my friend's husband is very sweet and pays for everyone.
8 p.m. — By the time we get back to my friend's house it's late, and I don't want her to have to drive me back to the train station, so I order a Lyft ($17.65). I get to the station and get on the wrong train (lol) but the Amtrak staff kindly says I can stay, I'll just be dropped off at Penn Station instead of Grand Central. I put my headphones in and turn my Kindle on, and I make it to Penn Station. I pay $2.75 for the subway home. $20.40
11 p.m. — Home sweet home. I really wish I had a can of seltzer, but I'm all out, so I settle for a giant glass of cold plain water. Time to take my makeup off via a wipe (apparently these are controversial now, but oh well) and CeraVe cleanser. I pat on some moisturiser from Pond's because I'm out of my regular Kiehl's moisturiser and top it with Kiehl's overnight face balm. I've never been more excited to get into bed.
Daily Total: $109.80

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I am soooo so happy I got to sleep in. I play on my phone for a bit, thank my friend again for yesterday, and try to decide what to do today. I was going to see another friend and go to an open mic, but I'm wiped. I've been trying to stay more in touch with my musical hobbies, but I'm in need of a day off. I message my friend, K., and ask if we can catch up next week before we go to a concert together.
11 a.m. — I was too beat last night to make cold brew, so I order breakfast on DoorDash. $18.21
3 p.m. — I am struggling to be productive. I take a shower and heat up some pasta and grab a diet soda. Hoping this makes me feel less hungover.
4 p.m. — Feel better, but not all the way. I remember I have a $15 GoPuff credit, so I order some seltzer water and a couple of chocolate snacks. The total is $9 after my discount. I put my snacks away and take a nap. $9
7:35 p.m. — I finally feel alive enough to run the dishwasher, make cold brew for tomorrow, put my laundry away, clean the kitchen, and pack up some clothes from Madewell that I need to return tomorrow. Time for some reading and then bed.
Daily Total: $27.21
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