A Week In Queens, NY, On A $59,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a research analyst working at a nonprofit who makes $59,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on Kat Von D tattoo eye liner.
Occupation: Research Analyst
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 33
Location: Astoria, New York
Salary: $59,000
My Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,400
My Fiancé's Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,600
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage & Maintenance Fees: $1,350. (My fiancé, R., and I currently live in an apartment that he pays rent for. When our lease is up in a few months, we will move into a one-bedroom apartment that I own.)
Student Loan: $370
Health Insurance: $0. (My employer pays.)
401k: I don't make any contributions, but my employer contributes $145.75 every month. (I currently have ~$4,000 in that account.)
Phone: $90
Internet: $60
Hulu: $7.99
Netflix: $10.99
Gym: $36
Credit Cards: $345. (I recently paid off ~$8,000 and will be done with the rest by November of this year.)

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up at 7:15 a.m. after snoozing my alarm twice. I debate whether I really need to shower, because it's so cold outside. I grew up in Bangladesh and struggle with New York weather. I'm marrying a New Yorker, though, so I have to get used to it! I decide to be an adult and shower and get dressed. I have learned that if I look good, I feel energetic. I walk quickly to the train ($2.75). Once I make my transfers and get on the G, I sit down and do my makeup (yes, I am one of those people). I put on the same makeup every day, and it takes me four minutes to do it. I get off the subway and pick up coffee ($2) from the corner diner. (It's this mom and pop diner run by an old Greek curmudgeon who yells at everyone and only accepts cash. I go there every weekday morning for my coffee). $4.75
10 a.m. — I work in a school building where my fiancé, R., is a teacher. (I know, eye roll – meet cute to the max – I can't stand us either.) He has a coffeemaker in his classroom, so I always go up to visit him for my second cup of coffee. I can't live without that first cup from the Greek diner – R. has tried to have this debate with me many times. I make my coffee, wave to R. (he's teaching), and go downstairs to start my work day. I have a list of items to do today that I put off last Friday.
11:15 a.m. — Because I don't eat breakfast, I am usually ravenous by 11:15. Today I brought a baked chicken breast with pesto and lime and stir-fried sugar snap peas with halved cherry tomatoes. It's very easy to make pesto at home, and so much more flavorful – just throw in a couple of cloves of garlic, a bunch of basil leaves, olive oil, salt, and pepper into a food processor and blitz it. I packed R. two chicken breasts, a couple of slices of tomato, baby spinach, and baby carrots for lunch. (I am in the process of turning a carnivorous man into an omnivorous man.)
5:30 p.m. — R. and I come home from work. (He drives and I ride home with him, which is why I don't buy a monthly Metrocard.) R. changes, pours me a glass of wine, and then goes off for his afternoon time on the couch while I start prepping dinner. We usually roast meat on Sundays (yesterday we roasted a whole chicken) and use the meat for lunches/dinners throughout the week. Tonight is chicken tacos. I chop up tomatoes, cilantro, red onions, and a jalapeño. Then I boil corn, cut off the kernels, and add them to the salsa with a squeeze of lime. Next, I shred cooked chicken thighs and toss with cumin, chili powder, oregano, onion, and garlic. R. and I sit and chat for a while before heading off to the gym.
9 p.m. — R. and I walk home after our workout class and pick up a bottle of wine on the way. Then R. warms up the tortillas and we eat our tacos while drinking wine in front of the TV. Bedtime at 10:30. $9.99
Daily Total: $14.74

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — It's Tuesday and I am not interested. R. wakes up and leaves for work an hour before me. I grunt and roll out of bed, shower, do makeup on the G train ($2.75), and am at my Greek diner by 8:25. I tell Old Man Curmudgeon he should have an XL-sized coffee cup offering. He says: "Never." I think he thought I was giving him bad business advice. It all got lost in our shared second language. $4.75
10 a.m. — Busy morning doing things nobody cares enough about. I go up to R.'s room to get my second cup of coffee. He's having a rough morning, so I listen to him vent for a few minutes and we both talk about how much we want to go home.
11:15 a.m. — Lunch. Read a Modern Love story on the New York Times website and eat leftover taco chicken and salsa. (R. got the last of pesto baked chicken from Sunday for his lunch.) I start to get hungry again at 2 p.m., so I walk over to the office cookie jar and get a chocolate chip cookie.
6 p.m. — Prep dinner at home while R. is on the couch. I throw a pork chop in the oven for R. to take for his sandwich tomorrow and struggle to tear off all the meat left on the chicken carcass from Sunday. It's a royal pain the butt. Why isn't there some kitchen gadget to do this? I throw the carcass in a Ziploc and stash it in the freezer to make chicken stock this weekend. I cook rice on the stove and chop celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas. Then I call out to R. to get my gym bag together, and we head off to gym.
9:30 p.m. — Splurge on a more expensive bottle of wine on the way home from gym. Make chicken fried rice. Lights out at 10:30. I try to stay up and read P.G. Wodehouse after R. falls asleep, but my body has shut down. $11.99
Daily Total: $16.74

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Take the subway ($2.75) and get my usual coffee ($2), which is too bitter this morning. At my desk at work, I write on R.'s Facebook page about how we are basically Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. (Aside from also being interracial, there are other similarities between us, like our timelines of engagement and impending wedding.) $4.75
11:15 a.m. — R. and I decide to take a walk to the corner deli, since it's cold but sunny out. We buy a couple of seltzer water cans, chips for me to snack on later, and R.'s roll for his pork chop sandwich. R. pays the $3.75 with his credit card. I have $2 with me and I try to give it to him, but he says I should keep it so he doesn't have to settle my coffee debt later. (Sometimes when I have no cash, I get Old Man Curmudgeon to give me my morning coffee on a loan and then have R. pay him back the next morning.) Back at my desk, I have leftover chicken fried rice with salsa and seltzer water and read a short story on The New Yorker website.
2 p.m. —Sephora emails me a discount code and I place an order for skincare products. Sometimes I wait too long to reorder my items because I want a code, and then I run out of them and create panic situations. (One time, I sent a clueless R. to Sephora for face moisturizer the day before Christmas Eve when every woman in New York was at Sephora.) I buy my facial sunscreen, face wash, cleansing and exfoliating wipes (so great for a lazy nighttime person like me), and decide to try Kat Von D's tattoo liner. How did women get suckered into spending literally thousands of hard-earned dollars on makeup and skincare? Two generations ago this would be unthinkable. $92.01
5:30 p.m. — At home, I drink a glass of wine while making gemelli with spicy Italian sausage, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. R. found this recipe in Food & Wine and it's one of our go-tos for weekday dinners and summertime picnic lunches. Incredibly easy and delicious. I cook the sausage in simmering olive oil with onions and red chili flakes. I chop up the spinach and quarter the cherry tomatoes, which I keep in a bowl to toss with the sausage when we come back from the gym. I also throw another pork chop in the oven for R.'s lunch tomorrow. Hang out with R. on the couch, and then it's gym time!
10:30 p.m. — I read P.G. Wodehouse and turn off the lights. R. is already lightly snoring. I shift him around until he stops and then fall asleep thinking of our wedding in June. Must browse online for wedding bands.
Daily Total: $96.76

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up with brain fog and a desire to not move. I have thyroid issues, and even though my doctor checks my TSH levels annually and says I don't need medication yet, there are certain days when I feel like a straight-up old man swimming through soup. I decide to skip the shower and dress in my gym clothes, which will give me more time later for dinner prep. I also decide to skip the subway today and take an Uber Pool to work. $11.98
8:35 a.m. — Coffee. Desk. Let this day begin. $2
11:30 a.m. — Everything has snowballed into a giant mess at work. R. is having an equally frustrating day. I finally eat my lunch (leftover gemelli), all the while feeling like a hamster on a wheel.
2 p.m. — Time for a trip to the cookie jar!
4 p.m. — Done with work-related things today. I need to get shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and R.'s hair styling cream (without it he is lost). I decide to place an order from Target online for pick up, and then head over to the one a few blocks away to get my order before going home. $30.30
5:30 p.m. — R. is a bad influence. He has talked me out of going to the gym since we went Monday (which is usually our no-gym, pro-laundry day) and instead into going to the neighborhood bar across the street from our apartment. We have one drink each. R. pays with his credit card ($22 with tip) and we head back to the apartment. Thursday night is our weekly dinner with my cousin who lives in the neighborhood. We have meatballs (from the leftover sausage meat) with gravy and a kitchen sink salad. My cousin walks in with a bottle of wine as I am preparing the gravy (pork stock from the last time we made pork roast, flour, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder). While we eat, we talk about our weeks and open two bottles of wine.
11:30 p.m. — Woof. Bed.
Daily Total: $44.28

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and want to die. I think about Bukowski and how he said "you do it because you have done it before" or something to that effect, and peel myself out of the bed. Uber Pool to work. Can't even think about it. $8.98
10 a.m. — I skip my morning coffee today, but by 10 o'clock I need caffeine. I slowly get myself up to R.'s room. He is talking to one of his students, and his face looks as devastated as I feel. I pour myself some coffee and head down to stare at Excel sheets.
11 a.m. — Apparently, I packed lunch for us last night. There are leftover meatballs and gravy on salad for me and meatballs on a sub for R. Eat slowly while drinking my fourth bottle of water. The water is like an IV drip for me.
4:30 p.m. — The work day is over. This is a miracle. Teachers are heading over for their Friday happy hour at the bar across the street, and R. and I head over. After two drinks, chicken wings, and fried pickles, we say goodbye to everyone and head home on the subway. R. pays for the food and drinks as well as both of our subway rides.
7:30 p.m. — We cuddle on the couch and drink more wine. We talk about the wedding in June and iron out some details. Most of everything is done. The total spending will be around $3,000. The plan is to put everything on a credit card and then pay it off quickly. We're in bed by 9:15.
Daily Total: $8.98

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — R. and I wake up without the alarm and walk around the apartment in our PJs. I make the bed, he waters all the plants and makes coffee, and then we turn on music and have a morning chat about world news. After an hour of this, I call my parents in Bangladesh and R. goes to make his breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast.
12 p.m. — I make tea, eat nuts, soppressata, and cheese, and start working on my novel. I finished the first draft almost two years ago (took me two years to write it), way before I met R., and have only recently started editing it. R. is on the couch watching a design and architecture documentary on Netflix that he wants to show his students.
2 p.m. — R. and I watch a movie and drink white wine from the fridge. After the movie ends, we sit down to do our meal planning for next week. R. jots down the grocery list. (We typically go to the supermarket every Sunday and do a big haul.)
5 p.m. — I shower and get ready to head out to a friend's place in Brooklyn for a group dinner. We have these three or four times a month. I throw the last of my cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and spinach from the vegetable drawer in a tote bag to make a salad once we get there. While R. is in the shower, I step out to buy a bottle of wine to bring too. Our friend who lives in the same neighborhood as us is driving to Brooklyn, so he picks us up and then we're on our way! $9.99
7 p.m. — Happily drinking away and playing with friend's baby.
10:30 p.m. — We're full from dinner and wine and getting sleepy. R. and I hitch a ride back to our neighborhood with the friend who's driving back. Once home, we watch a little TV and go to bed. It was a good day.
Daily Total: $9.99

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — We wake up lazily and make coffee. Sunday is our brunch and grocery day. R. makes eggs and bacon while I make home fries. We pour ourselves two mimosas (cranberry instead of orange juice) and set the table for brunch.
11:30 a.m. — After we eat, R. cleans up in the kitchen while I shower and get ready. I make a short call to my friend in Bangladesh to catch her up on our June wedding details while R. is in the shower. And then we're off to get the day started. First stop, neighborhood bar where we chat with our bartender friend, each have a giant mimosa, review our meal plans, and finalize grocery list (there are always more items to add when we look at it a second time). Our friend says he can't stand how domestic we are and gives us another round of mimosas for free. The bill is $22 with tip, which I cover. $22
2 p.m. — We finish grocery shopping after what feels like a year and walk back home with approximately fifty bags each. R. uses his credit card to pay but I pay him back we get home. Once home, we put on music and start meal prep for next week. We also start stock on the Crock-Pot with the chicken carcass from last week. (Most of the time, instead of using just oil, I use oil and homemade stock to cook food.) $110
8 p.m. — The day flies by! I am tired but feel accomplished. After the kitchen is cleaned up and lunches are packed for tomorrow, we sit down on the couch with wine and watch Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Bed at 9:45 p.m.
Daily Total: $132
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