A Week In Hudson County, NJ On A $48,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an Administrative Coordinator who makes $48,000 per year spends some of her money this week on Starbucks hot chocolate.
Occupation: Administrative Coordinator
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 28
Location: Hudson County, NJ
Salary: $48,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,250
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $800 (my partner pays the remaining amount of the $2,300 because they make more.)
Student Loans: $0 (I paid off my undergrad loans three years after graduating. Grad school tuition is paid for through work.)
Utilities: $0 (partner pays for electricity and heat and water is included in the rent)
Internet: $0 (partner pays)
Gym: $0 (my building has a gym)
Netflix :$0 ($12.99 monthly paid by brother)
HBO, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc: $0 (partner either pays or gets it free through their parents)
Cell Phone: $50 (paid in six-month installments to the parents)
Sephora Beauty Box: $10.66
Transit: $165
Savings: $1,000 (I have almost $10,000 saved. Part of this fund goes toward my IRA as a lump sum either in December or January. I started yearly payments at age 16.)
Health: $133 (includes dental and prescription)
Mandatory Work Pension: $185 (5% with an 8% match from the employer)

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Last week, I set a deadline to pay rent next weekend so I'm trying to budget with the holidays and next semester's grad school fees. Just trying to take care of bills before the new year and have a clean slate! My partner, N., left for the holidays yesterday morning so it's an empty apartment all week. I wake up on the later side this morning after staying up late crafting. The hats I meant to finish last week for a client are delayed! I skip breakfast and pay my grad school fees from my savings account before getting back to crafting. $608.50
11 a.m. — I take a break to fold laundry and reorganize my clothes. Then, I finish up crafting for the day.
12 p.m. — I get ready for a holiday party in the early evening and decide to dress up this year (thanks for the sequins, Forever 21). I nibble on half a corn on the cob before heading out at 2:30. I stop at the wine store on my way to the subway and pick up two bottles of wine. $22.37
3 p.m. — I swipe my NJ train card (in monthly expenses) to get to NYC. Once I'm in the city, I refill my MetroCard to get to my friend L.'s house. $10
6 p.m. — I get to the party and I'm hungry! I eat mushroom lasagna, chips and salsa, baba ganoush dip, loads of salad, and chocolate chip cookies. The party is fun but long. I leave exhausted around 11. L. gives me some food to take home.
12 a.m. — I get home and realize the compost buckets are stinky. I clean them out and prepare the scraps for tomorrow's drop off. I wash up and go to bed.
Daily Total: $640.87

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — My friend, J., got tickets to NYC's Vessel so I get up early to get ready. The tickets were free and just reserve us a time spot. I get dressed and head to the community garden to drop off my compost. Once home, I add the compost data to my tracker (12 pounds of food diverted from a landfill!), grab some food (granola bar and a hard-boiled egg), and get out the door by 10:30. I use my weekly train pass to get to NYC and my pre-filled MetroCard once I get to the city. The Vessel is so cool, but it's super cold outside!
12 p.m. — After The Vessel, we head to see the Rockefeller Center holiday tree. I grab a hot chocolate on the way to keep warm. $5
3 p.m.— I get tired and start heading home. I check my app and see I've walked over 20,000 steps for the day (!!!!). Once home, I eat leftover frozen veggie chili, leftover salad, and a half cob of corn. I spend the rest of the evening crafting, working on finalizing the hats, reading, and watching crafting shows on Netflix.
Daily Total: $5

Day Three

7 a.m. — I get up and get dressed. I put on an L.L. Bean shawl collar shirt, Gap khakis, and booties. My work is chill and my boss is out today and tomorrow, so I don't have to dress up. I pack a lunch so I don't eat out. Grad school has actually made me spend more on food because packing three meals a day twice a week is a lot of food to carry and prepare. Now that there's a break between semesters, I can actually be home to eat and meal prep. I take the train to work with my weekly card.
12:30 p.m. — I take a one-hour lunch break and read the most recent NYC Money Diary. I give a coworker money for a student holiday gift. $2.50
4:45 p.m. — After work, I head to the train station where I wait for my best friend. I also buy next week's transit pass (in monthly expenses).
5:30 p.m. —My best friend, V., gets to the station and we head to dinner. She's home for the holidays already and I haven't seen her for a month, but it feels like forever. We try to go to a pizza place, but they have a two-hour wait. Instead, we opt for empanadas from the farmers' market and falafel from a local place. We get the food to go and bring it back to my apartment. I love sleepovers with my best friend — they never get old! V. paid for dinner so I Venmo her before bed. $8.50
1 a.m. — V. falls asleep around 11:30, but I stay up watching a show. I try to fall asleep but I can hear my upstairs neighbors doing some business... ugh. I swear it's every night!
Daily Total: $11

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — I wake up and put on a purple cashmere sweater, Loft shirt, black jeans, and my no-heel booties. I walk to the train with V. and we say goodbye as we head our separate ways to work. Working on a day right before a holiday is great because the office is so quiet. Plus, I don't mind working when others want to take the day off.
12 p.m. — I get hungry, so I eat the leftovers from my lunch yesterday (frozen veggie chili).
2 p.m. — My boss surprises me by saying I can leave early, so I pack up and head out.
4 p.m — Once home I decide it's chore time. I meal prep some veggies for a soup I'm making tomorrow and then walk over to the grocery store. I grab frozen dumplings and other ingredients for my holiday meal. Once home, I eat pieces of toast with cream cheese, Rice Krispies cereal, and hot chocolate. I also snack on fruit and a BBQ pork bun while watching TV for a few hours. I head to bed relatively early. $31.15
Daily Total: $31.15

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I don't have work today because of the holiday. I spend the morning Netflix binging and crafting.
11 a.m. — I worry about not having enough time to cook so I start dicing, spicing, and roasting potatoes. While those roast, I eat toast with veggie cream cheese, a pork bun, and fruit. I tidy up the apartment a bit and then toss soup ingredients in a pot to cook. While the soup cooks I have some hot chocolate and get back to Netflix.
4 p.m. — My former roommate, P., comes over to eat dinner. We binge Champions on Netflix while eating dumplings, potatoes, and soup. The soup was a fail because it didn't have much flavor, but thankfully P. was forgiving! At least the dumplings were good.
7 p.m. — We head out to a neighborhood bar that's open despite the holiday. I get a few beers and enjoy spending time with my friend ($25). On the way home, I get the beer munchies and grab a few slices of pizza ($4.25). I get home, crawl in bed, and watch TV until 1 a.m. $29.25
Daily Total: $29.25

Day Six

8:30 a.m — I'm off work for the rest of the week due to mandatory vacation time, so I decide to have a chill day of Netflix and crafting. Gotta love TV bright and early when it's the holiday season. I eat toast with cream cheese while I lounge.
12 p.m. — I sweep the floors, eat lunch (leftover mac and cheese, fruit, and a pork bun), and wash some linens before hanging them to dry. I change out of my pajamas and into a Gap sweater and jeans.
4:30 p.m. — I decide to go check out the Museum of Art and Design in NYC because they have late evening hours today — a holiday gift to myself! I stop and refill my NYC subway card on my way to the museum. $10
5 p.m. — I get into the city and stop at Starbucks to read for a bit before heading to the museum. $3.76
6 p.m. — I enter the museum after crossing a complicated intersection at Columbus Circle. I'm curious to know who designed it thinking it is a safe way to cross the street. Admission for the museum is pay what you can today. $5
7 p.m. — I walk around the museum for a while and then meet up with a high school friend for dinner. We go to Mexican place near the museum and catch up for a few hours. $48.83
9 p.m. — I head home and add $25 to my train card on the way. I watch a bit more Netflix and start to doze off on the couch. I realize I've probably watched too much TV this week because my hand is sore from using the remote so much. I eventually pick myself off the couch and get in bed at midnight. $25
Daily Total: $92.59

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and throw on on my homemade knit sweater with a random t-shirt underneath, Gap jeans, and Nikes. I eat some toast with cream cheese and a BBQ pork bun before heading out at 9.
9:30 a.m. —I meet my friend, S., at her job to hang out with her and go over some documents related to an upcoming meeting I have to facilitate. We then head to the train to go into the city. I don't usually go into NYC this often since I don't work there, but with all the days off I'm getting in a lot of friend time.
12:30 p.m. — In the city, I meet up with another friend, T. We go to Starbucks and I get a hot chocolate. We go to a park close by to chat for a few hours. While in the park, I eat my home-brought lunch of fruit and mac and cheese. $3.76
4:30 p.m. — After lunch, I go to another friend's, Z., apartment to hang out before a holiday party. We do some online shopping together and I get two fun printed bras ($36.23). I totally forgot today was payday until I started spending! I immediately transfer $500 to savings, then buy a jean skirt from eBay I've been eyeing for several months ($4.99). $41.22
9:30 p.m. — The party is fun, but I'm so tired. I head home from the city around midnight. I call my partner, N., on the way home to discuss New Year's plan. I realize I have to add more money to my NYC subway card again. I swear all my money goes toward public transit. Once home, I heat up some soup and add the potatoes and a dumpling. I set up an online payment for rent to go out tomorrow and then promptly fall asleep. $11
Daily Total: $55.98
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