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A Week In Queens, NY, On A $68,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Olipop.
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Today: An administrator working in higher education who makes $68,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Olipop.
Occupation: Administrator
Industry: Higher education
Age: 32
Location: Queens, NY
Salary: $68,000
Net Worth: $50,000 (401(k): $38,000; savings: $10,000; checking: $2,000)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,810
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $900 (I live in my aunt’s two-family house.)
Car: $150 (my half, split with my brother)
Car Insurance: $150
Phone: $0 (on family plan)
Health & Dental Insurance: $186 (deducted from my paycheck)
Orangetheory: $207
Netflix, HBO & PBS: $35 (share with family)
Amazon: $15
T-Shirt Subscription: $25
Savings: $500

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. Both my parents attended college but did not graduate. It was very important to them that I go to college and at least get my bachelor’s degree, which I did. My parents had a 529 account for me, and I was lucky enough that my mom works at a university. I was able to go to school for free and use my 529 for books and other education costs.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents instilled in me at a young age how important it was to save and be debt free. I opened a passbook account when I was seven and saved all my money. I did not touch that money until I was 18. Other than telling me to save, my parents did not really talk about finances.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat for neighbourhood families and enjoyed it. I had to work for any extras, like if I wanted new clothes or a bag. Those kinds of things were on me.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. We always had what we needed. We weren’t well off, but I also got to do pretty much whatever I wanted. I danced and played sports. I had a birthday party every year, and Christmas was great. It wasn’t until I was older that I truly appreciated how hard my parents worked for everything we had.

Do you worry about money now?
Honestly, no. I’m lucky enough that I live with family, and if I fell on hard times, my aunt would help me out. I always have the option of moving home. I have a great relationship with my parents.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Can I say I’m fully responsible for myself? No. My mom insists on paying my phone bill, and I live with my aunt who is beyond generous with what I pay for rent.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandma passed away a few years ago and left me $5,000. I used that money to put a down payment on the car I share with my brother.

Day One

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I begrudgingly wake up. First up: skincare and vitamins. Next: getting dressed and doing my makeup. I pack up my meal-prepped lunch and snacks and make myself an iced coffee.
8 a.m. — My mom picks me up. She only lives two blocks away, and we work at the same university. We’ve always had a wonderful relationship, and now that I’m an adult, she has truly become my best friend. I cherish every moment I have with her because there will be a time in my life that she will no longer be here. Cue the tears. 
8:30 a.m. — I get to my office and go through emails. I start working on spreadsheets before I have to help out some students.
1:30 p.m. — I heat up my meal prep. This week is chicken marinated in General Tso’s sauce, brown rice, and broccoli I popped in the air fryer. After I eat, I head over to my mom’s office so we can go for a walk.
4:30 p.m. — The day is finally over. I feel like I’m seeing double. I’ve been staring at spreadsheets all day long. I meet my mom, and we head home. She drops me off at my apartment. I quickly change into workout clothes and head back out to Orangetheory.
7 p.m. — I’m home and don’t feel like cooking so I heat two leftover chicken cutlets and broccoli. I also have some Kerrygold white cheddar. It’s honestly the best cheese.
8:30 p.m. — I shower and it’s hair-wash day. Afterward, I do my nightly skincare. My Rhode order arrived today, so I use the Glazing Milk for the first time and fall in love. I scroll the Lululemon app and see a pair of yoga pants I want. Instead of buying them from Lulu, I scroll Amazon and order a cheaper pair from CRZ yoga. I quickly check my email and head to bed. $38
Daily Total: $38

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I truly have zero energy to get up. I snooze once. Finally, I get up. Skincare and vitamins first, followed by getting dressed and makeup. I’ve been wearing the Hourglass Veil Hydrating Skin Tint daily and absolutely love it. I highly recommend it to everyone.
1:30 p.m. — The day has been absolutely crazy. I finally get a moment to heat up my lunch. I’m having the same as yesterday and I brought a Poppi. I head over to my mom’s office to work for the rest of the afternoon.
4:30 p.m. — Finally, the day is over! My mom and I head home. She drops me off at my apartment. Every other week, I have therapy for an hour. So I change and get comfy on my couch for my virtual meeting.
6:30 p.m. — Therapy is over, and I’ve been a couch potato since. I decide to walk for 30 minutes on my walking pad and watch some Oz. Afterward, I can’t decide what I want for dinner. I call my aunt to see if she has eaten yet. She hasn’t, so we walk around the corner for pizza. We each get two slices (one regular and one pepperoni), and I order us garlic knots. I treat and tip. $21
8:30 p.m. — My mom comes over and makes us tea, while I take a quick shower. We watch The Real Housewives of New York City and debate having a second cup of tea. We decide not to, she heads home, and I go to bed.
Daily Total: $21

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I’m actually not too groggy this morning. I do some stretches and go about my normal morning routine.
8 a.m. — My mom picks me up, and we head to work. Once in office, I’m a little cranky. I received passive-aggressive emails, and I’m ready to karate chop some necks.
11:30 a.m. — I’ve been working on important spreadsheets all week, and my eyes hurt. I decide it’s time for a snack break. I eat my hummus and naan that I brought from home.
1 p.m. — Finally, lunch time. I heat up the last of my meal prep and head over to my mom’s office. We eat and chit-chat about our days. Students walk by with bake sale items, so I buy us each a cupcake. $2
4:30 p.m. — The day is over! My mom and I head home. She drops me off to get my nails done. I go every three weeks to get dip powder. I choose a dark brown shade. My nails are $38 plus a $15 tip. $53
6:30 p.m. — I’m usually in the mood to do some type of exercise but not today. For dinner, I want a rice bowl so I cook up shrimp (from my freezer), heat up minute rice, cut up avocado, and add cheese and chipotle mayo. It’s absolutely delicious.
8:45 p.m. — I take a shower and get myself ready for bed. I make myself a cup of tea and watch a couple of episodes of Oz while I scroll through Instagram. Eventually, I brush my teeth and knock out.
Daily Total: $55

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I snooze my alarm this morning because it’s Friday and kind of gloomy outside. I finally roll out of bed and start my morning routine. For skincare, I use the Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water, Rhode Glazing Milk, COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, The Inkey List Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, and Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Sunshine Drops mixed with Summer Fridays ShadeDrops Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Mineral Milk Sunscreen. It’s a lot but I have very dry skin, and this helps so much. I throw on jeans and a sweatshirt and put on minimal makeup.
8 a.m. — My mom picks me up, and we head to work. I don’t bring my usual Stok iced coffee this morning because I want to stop for a hot chai instead. $5.66
11:15 a.m. — I’m a little hungry, so I find a snack in the lounge. There’s always some sort of leftover food from an event. Today, there’s chips and salsa.
1 p.m. — Lunch time. I have yogurt and a protein bar in the fridge. Fridays are weird because we have a shorter lunch break, and I usually don’t bring anything and just eat whatever I’ve left here throughout the week.
3 p.m. — The work week is over! My mom and I head home. She drops me off at my lash appointment. I get a refill every two weeks. The person who does my lashes is an angel and does an incredible job every time. I walk home when I’m finished. $75
6:15 p.m. — I head to my Orangetheory class. It’s a tough one, but I feel amazing after. I head home and take a body shower. I stare in my fridge trying to decide what to have for dinner. I decide on Kerrygold cheddar cheese, crackers, and an Olipop. I turn on another episode of Oz and spend the rest of the night on my couch. Eventually, I wander to my bedroom and knock out.
Daily Total: $80.66

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up with no alarm. It feels glorious. I lay in bed, just scrolling through Instagram and TikTok. My mom texts me saying she’s making French toast and to come over. I get up, put on leggings and an oversized sweatshirt, and head to my parents’ place.
11:45 a.m. — After breakfast, I have a cup of tea with my mom, and now it’s time to wander back home before it starts raining again. Once I’m back, I plop myself on my couch, wrap myself in a blanket, put on Oz, and do some window shopping online. Anyone else put stuff in their cart that they will never end up buying?
4:30 p.m. — I fall asleep for a little. When I wake up, I text my best friend, T., and see if he still wants to go out. The weather sucks, and we decide against it. Instead, he’s going to pick up a pizza and come over. He needs to catch me up on his dating life. I’m currently not dating so I’m living vicariously through him. Dating can be absolutely exhausting, and my relationship with myself and my friends fulfills me and keeps me very happy. He ends up getting pizza and garlic knots because he knows I love them. He treats.
9:30 p.m. — T. leaves, and I clean up before doing my skincare and relaxing in bed. I’ve had a Madewell sweater sitting in my cart all afternoon, and there’s a 40% off sale, so I can’t resist. I pull the trigger. I eventually knock out. $36.89
Daily Total: $36.89

Day Six

8:45 a.m. — I wake up and lay in bed, just being cozy under the covers. I get up and make myself coffee and start some laundry. I’ve been putting it off all week, so I have about three loads to do.
10:45 a.m. — It’s time for Orangetheory, so I put on workout clothes, stretch, and head out the door. I started Orangetheory at the beginning of the year, and it has completely changed my life. I don’t think I could ever go back to not working out.
12:30 p.m. — After class, I head to the grocery store. I need to pick up food for my meal prep this week and for dinner: ground turkey, chicken cutlets, rice, broccoli, carrots, Brussel sprouts, apples, yogurt, popcorn, milk and Olipops. Once home, I unpack all my groceries and then have an apple with peanut butter. $56.69
3 p.m. — It’s time to meal prep for the week. I cook ground turkey with a Siete taco packet, cook rice, and throw broccoli in the air fryer. I try to make my meal prep as easy as possible. I usually get four days from everything I cook. Afterward, I take an everything shower.
6 p.m. — Every Sunday, my aunt cooks dinner for us to eat together. I head up to her apartment to see what’s on the menu. She made chicken Parm with vodka sauce and pasta. We catch up on the week and hang out for a while.
9 p.m. — I’m back in my apartment and folding laundry to put away. If I don’t do it the same day, it’ll sit on my chair forever. After folding, I make myself a cup of tea and settle into bed. I put on Oz and eventually knock out.
Daily Total: $56.69

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I actually pop right up and start to get ready for the day. I go about my usual morning routine and pack up my lunch.
8 a.m. — My mom picks me up, and we head to work. I get into the office, and I start back on my spreadsheets. I have a student coming to see me so we can go over some stuff, and I prep for that.
10:45 a.m. — I’m actually starving so I have yogurt with granola. These past few days, I haven’t had a ton to eat, and I think it’s catching up to me.
1 p.m. — Finally, lunch. I heat up my meal prep and fill up my water bottle. I walk over to my mom’s office. We eat, talk, and go for a long walk.
6 p.m. — I go home and walk two miles on my treadmill, then shower and get ready to go to my FWB’s house. He texted me earlier asking if I want to come over for dinner. I will never say no to a home-cooked meal, especially since he’s an amazing cook.
10 p.m. — He makes us smash burgers, and they are delicious! I head home after a very enjoyable evening. I quickly take a body shower and do my nighttime skincare. I fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow.
Daily Total: $0
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