Money Diaries logo

A Week In New York, NY On A $100,000 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 penny.
Today: a PR manager who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an aperol spritz.
Currency in USD.
Occupation: PR Manager
Industry: Luxury/Fashion
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $100,000 (+ $10,000 annual bonus)
Net Worth: ~$30,999 ($42,705 in 401(k) + $200 in Acorn investments + $1,500 in savings + $100 in HYSA minus credit card debt, I was very fortunate to graduate university without any student loan debt)
Debt: $13,506 in credit card debt
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,237 after taxes and deductions
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,425 for my share of a two-bedroom apartment I share with my younger sister (I pay more for rent because my salary is higher but we split utilities and internet evenly)
Netflix: $13.99 (my mother and sister use my account)
Hulu/HBO: $0 (my sister pays)
Amazon Prime: $14.14 (my family uses my account and I cover whatever my parents order)
Electricity: ~$60 for my half (this varies between summer and winter)
Internet: $42 for my half
Spotify: $0 (I suffer through the ads)
Apple Music: $14.99 (my mother and my sister also use this account)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm still on a family plan)
Savings: $150 or more
Investments: $40 (through the Acorns app)
Health Insurance: $170 (automatically deducted from paycheque)
HSA Contribution: $100
TransitChek: $127 (automatically deducted from paycheque)
401(k): 12% of my paycheck
Pilates Membership: $75
HUM Vitamins Subscription: $28
Amazon Probiotic Subscription: $27.17
Annual Expenses:
Renter's Insurance: $161 annually
Yoga Membership: $99 (special annual rate that I will probably cancel)
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. As a second-generation Asian-American, my parents always stressed the importance of a university education in order to achieve the "American Dream." Obviously, what this actually means has changed since they were college students in the '80s and they did not realise how expensive higher education had become by the time I came of age. Luckily, I was always an overachiever in school and sought out my own resources. I had an amazing support system in my high school teachers and counsellors. My counsellor actually recommended I apply for a full-ride scholarship when I was a senior. I submitted my application and was miraculously awarded the scholarship, which covered tuition for all four years of undergrad as well as housing/living costs. Coming from a lower-middle class family, my parents would have sold my childhood home to pay for my education at a private university if I had not been awarded the scholarship. With it, I was also able to study abroad twice, which I would not have been able to afford otherwise. I recognize I am VERY fortunate to graduate debt-free and have the opportunities that I did.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Not really. Both my mother and dad experienced a lot of hardship when they first immigrated to the U.S. They were taught as teenagers to save as much as they could but not necessarily how to invest or put money towards retirement accounts. They were just trying to survive in an unfamiliar country. As a result, most of my discussions with my parents have been about saving as much as possible without necessarily deep diving into the mechanics of how to do so. I opened my own savings account and signed up for whatever 401(k) plans my employers offered once I entered the job market. Because of my lack of personal finance skills, I ended up living outside of my means in my early twenties and racked up over $20,000 in credit card debt (yikes, I know). I admit I used my scholarship as a crutch in college and never adjusted my spending habits after I graduated. It definitely did not help that I was only making ~$40,000 a year in a HCOL city when I first started out in my career. I spent frivolously and had arguments with my dad all the time about my bad shopping habit (when I'm stressed, I shop). I've only recently reigned in my spending, especially on clothing, and started thinking more consciously about where I'm putting my money. The pause of pandemic living really put my financial situation into perspective and helped me re-evaluate what is important and worth spending my money on. I've since halved my debt and hope to be debt-free before 2022.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Growing up, my parents stressed that school was my job and I was not allowed to work part-time while I was living with them. I got my first job working in retail when I went to college. I got the job to have some extra spending money. New York City is very expensive to live in, especially as a college student, so I definitely needed the additional income and always worked part-time in addition to a full course load and unpaid internships throughout my undergrad. My parents would also chip in where they could with groceries and other basic necessities.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My dad was really good about saving money and managed all of the household finances. Even though he lost his job a few times throughout my childhood, I never felt like the lights would go off in our house or that I would have to skip a meal. While we weren't the richest family growing up, our basic necessities were met, my parents were able to buy a house (with a mortgage), and my sister and I were able to participate in pay-to-play sports and extracurriculars. When I begged my dad for SAT prep classes, he was able to afford them without thinking twice. We were also able to afford occasional vacations.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I think about my debt and saving money a lot more now, especially since my parents are approaching retirement. As previously mentioned, they did not put money towards retirement and are depending entirely on social security. My biggest financial goal is to be able to supplement my parents' retirement incomes with $500 a month in the next five years. In order to achieve this, I need to pay off my credit card debt and build up an emergency savings account that my parents can also dip into if needed. I am definitely putting the pressure on myself but my parents did a lot for me growing up so I want to be able to care for them when the time comes.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
This is a bit tricky to answer. I have been paying rent and bills since I was 21 (I opted to live off-campus in an apartment my junior and senior year of college rather than participate in student housing), but I used a credit card my dad gave me to pay for groceries up until I was 25. My parents are my financial safety net but I would only go to them as a last resort.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

5:14 a.m. — Wake up to my first alarm clock. Hit snooze.
5:40 a.m. — Second alarm goes off and I get up for real. I usually set three alarm clocks before I go to bed because I like to wake up slowly. I do my quick morning routine before walking the dog: splash my face with water, gargle with mouthwash, brush my teeth, and take my probiotic and omega-3 vitamins. I also light an incense stick and pray to the Buddha in our small altar. I recently got a dog, but believe it or not, she is not an impulsive quarantine purchase. I've always wanted a pet but never had the finances or time to devote to a fur baby. I have finally gotten to a better place with my finances and my sister has been begging me for a dog since she moved to New York to live with me two years ago. So, for her birthday, I bought her a puppy! I think I deserve the best big sister award.
6:20 a.m. — I give pup her breakfast before bringing out my yoga mat and doing a 45-minute pilates workout online. I started doing online workout classes due to the pandemic but I don't think I will ever go to an in-person gym or studio again. Online classes are a bit cheaper and I can make all the weird noises/faces I want without judgment.
7 a.m. — Hop into the shower after my workout and get ready for work. After my shower, I do my morning skincare routine (for those of you interested, I use Yonka toner, CosRx Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule, Sanitas moisturizer, Biossance Dark Spot Serum, Biossance Vitamin C Rose Oil, and SuperGoop! sunblock). Get dressed and do a simple make-up routine before grabbing my lunch (a salad inspired by Jajaja's Dinosaur Kale, a banana Soylent, and a plumcot) and heading out the door.
8 a.m — I take the subway to work (I have a pre-tax TransitChek that is automatically deducted from my paycheck every month). Before arriving at my stop, I place an order for a coffee and overnight oats on the Blue Bottle mobile app. $11.14
8:50 a.m. — Pick up my coffee order and settle in at my desk before work starts at 9 a.m. My office is doing a half schedule so I go into the office for three days and WFH for two days. I personally like the balance since there are some tasks where having a monitor is beneficial. On the other hand, I enjoy the freedom of working from home, so I hope we can still have the option to WFH at least one day of the week when everything goes back to “normal.” I slowly graze on my overnight oats as I answer e-mails and work on a few urgent requests.
12:44 p.m. — Break for lunch. I eat my salad at my desk since our office doesn't have a communal eating space. I hate cooking but can't justify spending $20 on a salad plus delivery so I've created my own version of my fave vegan salad with Tuscan kale, cherry tomatoes, mangoes, avocado, red quinoa, a homemade cilantro-jalapeno-lime dressing, and seared ahi tuna steak. It's delicious!
1:20 p.m. — My friend messages me for advice on how to speak to a recruiter and I happily coach him on what to write back. I like to support my peers in the PR and fashion industries. Both are notorious for catty behaviour and I vowed never to be one of those people. I eat my plumcot for a mid-afternoon snack.
4:15 p.m. — I drink my banana Soylent, which will tide me over until tomorrow.
5:21 p.m — Leave work a little late to wrap up some of the requests. Subway station is already packed ahead of rush hour. Sigh.
6:13 p.m. — Finally get home and greet my sister/roommate. Some people may find living with their relatives stressful but my sister is my best friend and we understand our living habits better than anyone else. We spend an hour catching up with each other before she takes pup to the dog park.
7 p.m. — I prepare another kale salad for tomorrow. I use frozen mangoes because they have the same nutritional value as fresh fruit and you can buy them in bulk for less money.
7:40 p.m. — I start my bedtime routine. I remove my makeup, double cleanse with the Then I Met You cleansing balm and green tea cleanser, and brush my teeth. Then I head into my room to complete the rest of my skincare routine (same as morning routine except instead of the Biossance products and sunblock, I use Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Soothing B-3 serum, a bakuchiol booster, and Indie Lee eye serum for my dark circles). I then do LED light therapy for 20 minutes. I never really had a problem with my skin until COVID lockdown began. Then my face started breaking out from the stress of being at home and working longer hours. It took an entire year of facials and trying out new products to get my skin under control. The LED light therapy played a huge part in that, so I invested in an at-home mask version to save on the add-on cost for my monthly facials.
8:45 p.m — The rest of the evening is spent watching Netflix and scrolling TikTok. Lights out by 10.
Daily Total: $11.14

Day Two

5:14 a.m. — Snooze.
5:40 a.m. — Snooze again.
6 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed and do the same morning routine before taking pup out for a walk. After feeding her breakfast, I head out for a morning run around my neighbourhood.
7:18 a.m. — Back from my run. I shower, do my skincare routine, get dressed, and put on make-up. I grab the same lunch from yesterday plus a blueberry Rx bar for breakfast and head out the door. I'm in the office again today but working from home tomorrow.
9:10 a.m. — At my desk and spend the next few hours working on shoot requests and other projects. I inhale my protein bar.
11:05 a.m. — I eat my plumcot for a mid-morning snack and research some protein bars to purchase since the one I brought for breakfast was my last one. I'm still hungry, so I eat my salad as well.
1:26 p.m. — During a lull in the afternoon, I update my budget Excel sheet with recent purchases and work on next month's budget. I try to review my TrueBill app and my budget Excel sheet at least once a day to keep my spending in check. It's a constant battle with myself not to buy something cute, especially if I'm bored or stressed. Having a visual aid of my finances has really helped me with this.
4:15 p.m. — I drink my protein shake and decide to leave work a little early since I've finished all of my tasks for the day.
5:23 p.m. — I arrive home feeling a little hungry still so I heat up some pasta I made last week for dinner. Afterward, I talk to my sister about some boy problems she's having. I have to return some library books so I convince her to walk with me as we continue our conversation.
6:30 p.m. — We arrive home. I realise I have been logged out of my Facebook Messenger and missed some messages from friends. One of my best friends is having a going away party tomorrow night and I confirm I'm going (all of the friends attending are vaccinated, mask up in public, and we mostly hang out with each other so it's a fairly low-risk situation). The rest of the night, my pup and I offer emotional support to my sister as she figures some stuff out.
9:33 p.m. — I finally retire to my room to catch up on a K-drama and scroll through TikTok. I also talk to a few guys on dating apps, but none of these conversations are going anywhere. Lights out at 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:48 a.m. — Snooze.
7 a.m. — I sleep in a little today since I don't have to commute into the office. I screen my work e-mails on my phone before getting up and doing my morning routine. Sis is up surprisingly early so we decide to walk the pup together.
8 a.m. — We come back and I do a 45-minute pilates workout. Afterward, I take a shower and do my skincare routine before putting on a pair of Alo biker shorts and a tank top. One of the perks of working from home is wearing sportswear and forgoing a bra. Free the nipple!
9:16 a.m. — After feeding the pup and replying to some urgent e-mails, my sister and I go to Whole Foods to pick up protein bars (I decide to try the Maple Sea Salt Rx bar), frozen pineapple chunks, and a fruit salad I will bring to my friend's get-together tonight ($42.55). Momma taught me to never show up to a party empty-handed. I snap the receipt on the Fetch app for points. I recently downloaded Fetch (after reading about it on Money Diaries) and Seated since the companies are basically giving me money for things I do on a weekly basis — i.e., grocery shopping and eating out. I'll usually trade the reward points in for gift cards to Amazon or Petco. $42.55
9:53 a.m — Before heading home, we stop by our favorite local coffee shop for an iced americano, a banana buckwheat muffin, and a cold brew with lavender syrup. My treat! $13.88
10:23 a.m. — I hop on a conference call as soon as I get back. Once we get off the call, I answer more e-mails and follow up on requests.
11:04 a.m. — The package with the Wild One leash and harness I ordered for my pup arrives (I got the Butter colour)! I'm paying it off through Affirm and made my first payment last week. I put it on her right away. She looks so adorable! I take her out for another walk to show off her new look. When we get back from the walk, I start working on a few more tasks for work.
12:37 p.m. — I take a quick break to make a smoothie with apples, frozen pineapples, spinach, almond milk, and hemp protein. I also heat up half of the seared ahi tuna steak and eat it with the rest of the cilantro-jalapeno-lime dressing. Since we will be going to my friend's for dinner tonight, I want to keep my lunch light.
3:10 p.m. — Just kidding. I get hungry and polish off half a bag of Trader Joe's kettle corn.
5 p.m. — I wrap up the work day with one more call and send some final e-mails. I also send myself a to-do list for tomorrow. After that is done, I start getting ready to go over to my friend's. I put on a WSLY black tank top and a Réalisation Par leopard print silk skirt. I finish off with light make-up, then my sister and I head out.
6:17 p.m. — I arrive at my friends' place just as they are placing a delivery order for Thai food. I get a vegetarian pad kee mow and my friend, L., pays. I protest but he wins in the end.
6:46 p.m. — My other friends start trickling in and we all catch up. L. and his fiancée have started planning their wedding and since I have experience with event planning, I offer to help. Now, I'm their wedding planner for a reduced fee. I eventually want to start a side hustle for consulting and event planning so, hopefully, this will be a fruitful first step. We chat about some of the venues they've seen and I try to assuage any fears they have about the costs (weddings are so expensive!). My other friend offers me a weed gummy and I happily take one since I'm not planning to drink tonight. We also have the fruit salad I brought for dessert.
10:46 p.m — After a very pleasant evening together, we all head home. L. drives me home.
11:13 p.m — Home and I get ready for bed. I still manage to wash my face and do my skincare routine — LED light therapy included! Lights out before midnight.

Daily Total: $56.43

Day Four

5:14 a.m. — Nope.
5:40 a.m. — Nope again.
6:03 a.m. — Wake up before my last alarm and do my morning routine before walking pup. Once we get back inside, I feed her breakfast and do a 30-minute barre workout.
7:13 a.m. — I take a shower, do my morning skincare routine and get ready for work. I'm out of salad ingredients so I pack carrots and cherry tomatoes to eat with Trader Joe's Green Goddess Dip for lunch. I also pack a sweet potato I baked over the weekend and forgot about. I put the pup in my sister's room and head out.
8:49 a.m. — I place an order for a cold brew on the Blue Bottle app and pick it up before heading into the office ($4.89). I prefer drinking hot coffee but it's going to be a lovely 90 degrees with humidity today, so the cold drink is necessary. Once I'm settled at my desk, I eat my Maple Sea Salt Rx bar. It's actually pretty tasty and I would recommend it if you like salty sweet treats. I spend the rest of the morning replying to e-mails and knocking items off of my to-do list. $4.89
11:25 a.m. — We're running out of instant coffee at home so I trade in some of my Seated points for a $15 Amazon gift card and order some more. I pay the remaining balance. $4.75
4:12 p.m. — I leave work a bit early to check out a sample sale for one of my favourite designers in SoHo. I wait 40 minutes in line in the unbearable humidity. I don't find anything I love and the prices are still kind of high. I leave empty-handed.
5:46 p.m. — Since I'm already in the area, I check out Gentle Monster before heading home. I'm currently obsessed with a pair of sunglasses from their collaboration with BLACKPINK's Jennie, but the style I want is completely sold out. I leave empty-handed again.
6:30 p.m. — Come home and am greeted by an excited pup. My sister is at her best friend's tonight so it's just me and pup tonight. I have a $30 promotional code from Uber Eats and use it to order dinner and lunch for tomorrow. I get a chorizo burrito and Dinosaur Kale salad from Jajaja. I only pay the service fee and tip. $11.21
7 p.m. — Once the food arrives, I put on The White Lotus and eat. The show is really good and gets me thinking about the nature of Western white privilege.
10:40 p.m. — Sis comes home and we both get ready for bed. I'm in bed and knock out by 11:30.
Daily Total: $20.85

Day Five

7:18 a.m. — It's Friday! I forgot to set my alarms last night but wake up early anyway. I'm working from home again today so there's still time for my morning routine before I log on. Once I'm up, I do my morning routine and walk the pup.
8:45 a.m. — I make myself an iced coffee and eat another Maple Sea Salt Rx bar for breakfast. I spend the day answering e-mails and wrapping up projects before the weekend.
3 p.m. — I don't know why but I'm a bit drowsy. I take a 40-minute nap before going back to work.
5:45 p.m. — I get ready to meet my sister for dinner. It's been a while since I've gone out so I try a bit harder on my make-up and wear a skirt. I walk to the restaurant but still manage to arrive before my sister. The host lets me know it will be a 30-minute wait, so I go to an outdoor bar nearby and get a Moscow mule. My sister joins me shortly. $14.07
7:01 p.m. — I get a call for our table and we head over to the restaurant. It's a Caribbean restaurant and I've never tried the cuisine before so I'm excited. We order seafood fritters, flatbread, and a snapper to share. I also get an Aperol spritz. The portion sizes are pretty big and we can't finish everything so I take the leftovers home for lunch tomorrow. My sister and I split the check. $70
9:30 p.m. — We get home and watch Suicide Squad 2 on HBO Max. After the movie ends, we both go to bed. I do my P.M. skincare routine and knock out around midnight.
Daily Total: $84.07

Day Six

5:40 a.m. — Wake up early today to walk the pup and squeeze in a pilates work-out before my volunteer shift at a local homeless shelter. I try to sign up for a volunteer session once a month. It's a great way to pass the time and do something good for my community. After a quick shower, I am headed out the door.
6:51 a.m. — Arrive at the shelter and check in for my shift. I spend the next couple of hours setting up and serving breakfast to residents of the shelter.
8:15 a.m. — I decide to walk home. By the time I get back to my apartment, my sister is awake and we go grab coffee together. Her treat! Sis surprises me with a croissant too. Afterward, we go our separate ways as she has a date.
10 a.m. — Once I get home, I catch up on the latest episodes of my K-dramas and watch YouTube.
11 a.m. — I decide to give the pup a bath. She is a long-haired breed so it takes a long time to blow-dry her. My arm is so sore after 20 minutes. After I'm done, she is so fluffy and cute!
2:17 p.m. — I'm bored so I take the dog out for a walk. We come back after 20 minutes because it is just too hot outside. I catch up on all of the episodes of The White Lotus.
5:13 p.m. — My period cravings are out of control. I really, really want a chocolate chip walnut cookie. Luckily, there is a bakery within walking distance from my apartment so I have a cookie for dinner. This is what adulthood looks like, folks. $4.50
9:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed and watch T.V. in my bedroom. I decided to start a new Korean drama on Netflix, which I don't recommend doing before bed. Lights out at midnight.
Daily Total: $4.50

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Wake up and walk pup after my morning routine. After giving her breakfast, I do a 30-minute pilates workout and brew myself a cup of coffee.
8:45 a.m. — I take pup to her vet appointment. She's a big breed so taking her on the subway is always nerve-wracking. She gets a lot of stares and loves going up to people to be petted. The problem is some people are a bit intimidated by her size. She's already 45 pounds at only six months!
9:30 a.m. — Make it to the appointment without any incidents. We're here for a pre-op visit for her to get spayed. She gets a clean bill of health and we schedule the operation for two weeks from now. After that's done, we make the subway trek back home.
10:30 a.m — I clean the house before settling down and binging more Korean dramas. I don't normally watch this much T.V. on the weekends but I don't have any plans so I figure I can use the time to catch up on my shows.
1:30 p.m. — I am out of produce so I run out to the closest grocery store for kale, cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, green grapes, and a small tub of sliced mangoes. $26.78
2:14 p.m. — On my way home, I order lunch from my favourite local Vietnamese restaurant. I get a tofu banh mi and Vietnamese iced coffee ($17.42 + tip). Once I put the groceries away, I call my mother and we chat on the phone. She's coming to visit New York next month and I'm very excited to see her! We chat through some logistics for her trip and then complain about our respective work. We're very close and I tell her everything. After we hang up, I go pick up my lunch order. $20.30
3 p.m. — After eating, I settle down on the couch again and continue my K-drama marathon. I take occasional breaks to walk and play with the pup.
4:53 p.m. — I see Reformation is having a sale and I spend the next couple of hours scrolling through the site while half paying attention to my show. I see a dress I've been eyeing for a while now is on sale so I decide to treat myself. $173.60
5:25 p.m. — I defrost and bake some Trader Joe's vegan nuggets for dinner. I think synthetic meat has come such a long way — I don't even miss having real nuggets.
10:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed. I know I should be asleep but the coffee I had for lunch has me wide awake. I watch a couple more episodes before turning off the lights at midnight.
Daily Total: $220.68
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 behaviour.