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A Week In Brooklyn, NY On A $60,060 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.

This week: a researcher who makes $60,060 per year and spends some of her money this week on rubber gloves.
Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up diary. You can read the original Money Diary here.
Occupation: Researcher
Industry: Museums/libraries
Age: 24
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $60,060
Assets: $8,335 in HYSA; $1,200 in Roth IRA; $3,040 in savings; $7,791 in checking
Debt: $33,117 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,740
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $713 (for my room in a three-bedroom)
Monthly Loan Payments: $350 (student loans)
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Utilities: Ranges from $50-$90
Health/Dental Insurance: $68
Roth IRA: $200
HYSA: $200
NYT Games: $5 (I get the news free with my old student email.)
Spotify/Hulu: $10
Max: $6
Phone plan: $0 (My parents pay.)

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?
My parents are both teachers and I was a bookish kid, so there was some expectation — but never pressure — for me to attend college. I went to a private liberal arts college for undergrad and then moved to New York for graduate school. I got good financial aid in undergrad and graduated a semester early to save money, but I also worked three jobs so that I could pay the majority of my tuition myself. My parents also contributed about $1,000 a year and my grandparents set up a 529 account when I was born, $5,000 of which I used for undergrad and the rest (~$15,000) for my first year of grad school. I took out student loans for undergrad and my second year of grad school.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents never really talked about money or educated me about money as a kid, though my high school had a required course on personal finance. When I started making money and thinking about getting a credit card, my parents generally trusted me to make good decisions and educate myself about things.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started working at a thrift shop when I was 16 so that I could start saving for college.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I worried a little bit about money growing up. We were comfortable and always had a roof over our heads and food on the table, but we couldn’t afford many luxuries, like the clothes, toys, or vacations that my friends had. I know now that my parents had a lot of credit card debt when I was young, so I think I could sense that anxiety about money when I was young.

Do you worry about money now?
For the first time in my life, no. I lived just above the poverty level in New York for the past two years while I was in school and working full time, then worked part time at my current job for six months. I just started working full time at my job last month, which doubled my salary and has alleviated a massive amount of stress. I am also lucky to have low living costs for New York and am trying to take advantage of this to pay off my student loans and build up my retirement/savings.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I paid my own rent and living costs throughout college, but I only just now feel really financially responsible for myself (I started paying for my own healthcare when I became full time and was eligible for benefits). I’m still on my parents’ phone plan, but I plan to start paying for that as well. They are my financial safety net in that I could live rent-free with them if needed and they could help with some bills if I needed them to.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When I was 17, my father was able to collect monthly Social Security payments for me as a dependent. He gave them to me and I used them to pay for my first year of college. They equaled about $6,000 total and stopped when I turned 18.

Day One

7 a.m. — My first alarm goes off and I immediately snooze it, along with the next three alarms. I slept terribly last night, but the truth is that I always lay in bed until the last second. Finally I force myself to get up, then make my bed and get dressed in a sweater, jeans, and my trusty Blundstones. I make some sourdough toast with butter and raspberry jam made by my aunt (which I’ll eat as I walk to the train), then am out the door by 8 a.m.
8:05 a.m. — I tap my card to catch the train. Normally I’m strictly a Metrocard gal, but I’m waiting for a monthly card to arrive in the mail through my work’s transit benefits, so I’m tapping until I get it. When the train comes it’s packed, but I manage to get a seat after a few stops and close my eyes for a nap. $2.90
9 a.m. — We have a visitor today, so after I clock in, I pull some boxes for him and get a cart ready to bring down to our reading room. He’s coming at the same time as my team’s weekly check-in meeting, so I let them know I’ll be late.
12:15 p.m. — My coworker and I head down to the staff cafeteria for lunch, and I pick up some beef stew and sweet potatoes, which comes to $6.40 — the food is priced by weight, so I try to be strategic about my plate and almost never pay more than $8 for lunch. $6.40
12:50 p.m. — As my lunch dessert, I have a cookie that I bought from the cafeteria yesterday, and try a Russian candy that my coworker brought in. She goes back to her desk, but I believe in using my entire lunch hour, so I go down and walk through an exhibit that I haven’t seen before. Then I make a cup of tea and sit down to answer more emails and update our reference log.
2:15 p.m. — My friend T. texts to confirm our dinner plans for tonight. A few days ago, I broke up with my year-long situationship, so we are commiserating/celebrating that tonight. I rarely go out to eat, so I spend a good chunk of the afternoon researching where we should go, and take the opportunity to text my ex to ask for the name of a restaurant we went to recently. It’s a little embarrassing that I was the first one to text after the breakup, but I do still want to be friends, so I hope it sends the signal that we’re chill.
5 p.m. — I say goodbye to our intern, then clock out before I hop on a Zoom call to meet with some members of a club sports team that I’m on. I recently agreed to help out with our social media, so we talk about the goals we have for the next season and set some action items to work on.
5:50 p.m. — That meeting went way longer than expected, so I text T. that I’ll be a few minutes late, then catch the train down to the restaurant. On the train, I read my book, A Man of No Moon, and finish it right as we pull into my stop. $2.90
6:20 p.m. — I was really craving oysters today, so we’re getting a happy hour deal at this restaurant and then moving on to get dinner somewhere else. We each get six oysters and a beer, and we gab about lighthearted things before I start unloading my heartbreak. I put the bill on my credit card, since I get cash back for restaurant purchases, but I’ll venmo T. later. $13.40
7:15 p.m. — We try to get a table at a vegan Thai restaurant around the corner, but it’s a 35-minute wait, so we walk another block to a cheap pasta place that I know of. It’s also packed, but we get seats at the bar without having to wait. We decide to get a little crazy and split a pitcher of sangria — I order a pesto pasta and she gets a pear and gorgonzola ravioli. She works in the restaurant industry here, so I love getting to hear the crazy stories she has. The sangria is pretty weak, but I still get a little tipsy. I pay again with my credit card, and we part ways. $30.75
9:45 p.m. — I catch the train back to Brooklyn, and start reading my other book, The Bluest Nude — it’s poetry, so I get almost halfway through. When I get off the train, I call my mom to chat about her upcoming visit this month. $2.90
10:45 p.m. — When I get home, I make a little ice cream sundae for myself with Cherry Garcia ice cream, strawberries, and hot fudge — I’ve had more Ben & Jerry’s this week than I’d care to admit. I watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadephia while I eat it.
11:45 p.m. — Brush my teeth and get cozy in bed. As I’m turning off the lights, I remember that I had planned to make chicken salad for my lunch tomorrow. Now that I’m full time, I try to bring in lunch at least two days a week, but unfortunately that won’t be happening this week. I take some melatonin to help me fall asleep.
Daily Total: $59.25

Day Two

7:00 a.m. — As usual, I snooze my alarm. I contemplate getting up and making the chicken salad really quickly, but my heart just isn’t in it. After 40 minutes, I finally get up and get dressed.
8:05 a.m. — Out the door — no breakfast today. I tap my card at the train station, and take a little nap on the train when it comes. $2.90
9 a.m. — After I clock in, I head to my first meeting of the day. I just recently started here as a full-time employee, which was only possible if I took on some additional responsibilities that are tangential to my role, so I’m meeting today with a colleague who’s been training me on these new responsibilities. He helps me download some software and walks me through running the codes I’ll be using.
11:45 a.m. — I head over to a different department for a monthly lunchtime lecture series — I try to contribute to the discussion that follows but am having trouble relating my work to the topic. Afterwards, I have a cup of tea while chatting with everyone, then walk back to my office.
1:25 p.m. — Since I didn’t have time to get lunch before the lecture, I head down to the cafeteria and splurge on a made-to-order turkey sandwich, since the other options are not appealing to me. $7.95
3 p.m. — We get a new reference request from a similar museum in England, so I work on that for the rest of the day. It’s surprisingly easy to find the answer to their question, which is refreshing.
5 p.m. — I tap my card to catch the subway and start my commute home. $2.90
6 p.m. — When I get off the train, I head straight to the grocery store and get eggs, avocados, chili powder, and a banana pudding cup as a treat ($11.86). Then I head next door to the liquor store and get the cheapest bottle of white wine and a small bottle of tequila ($13.11). $24.97
6:30 p.m. — My final stop is the discount store on the same block, where I get some household items that I finally feel rich enough for: rubber gloves, a sink strainer, and 2a shower caddy. I also get toilet paper and shampoo. $25.08
6:45 p.m. — Tonight’s dinner is sweet potato chili and cornbread, which turns out surprisingly well considering I didn’t follow a recipe. I admit to myself that it’s too late to make chicken salad, so the shredded chicken I had been saving goes into the chili as well. I make way too much and will probably be eating this for the next week. While I’m cooking, I listen to music and manage to finish the bottle of wine I just got.
8:45 p.m. — I try on a few outfits before settling on a T-shirt and jeans, then I head to the bar to meet my friends. The route I take requires me to get off the train and transfer at a different station, so I have to pay twice. $5.80
9:45 p.m. — Arrive at the bar for a Taylor Swift-themed dance party. I have conflicted feelings about her as a person/billionaire, but I cannot deny that it’s enjoyable to sing along to her music. My friends are already at the bar — one of them doesn’t like her gin and tonic, so I help her finish it. Afterwards, I get myself a cheap beer and tip $2. $7
12 a.m. — I go out and have a cigarette while my friend, P., smokes some weed. We have hooked up on and off, so we kiss a little. When we go back inside, I get another beer and tip the same. $7
1:15 a.m. — The party is wrapping up and I’m fairly drunk, so I decide it’s time to head home. I tap to get into the subway. $2.90
2:30 a.m. — Home! I eat the banana pudding cup I bought and then immediately fall asleep.
Daily Total: $86.50

Day Three

1 p.m. — The sun in my bedroom wakes me up. I’m incredibly hungover and chug some water, then lay in my bed on my phone for another hour. Finally, I get up for a much-needed shower, then make coffee and have two slices of sourdough toast with butter and jam. While I eat, I start a new library book, Cleat Cute.
3 p.m. — After lounging around in bed, I decide to take advantage of the nice weather and go for a run around my neighborhood. Unfortunately my hangover only lets me get about a mile before my body and mind feel like giving up, so I turn it into a walk. I do walk by my ex’s place of work with the secret hope we’ll run into each other, and let myself wistfully remember the time I spent there. When I get home, I go back to hanging out in my bed.
7:30 p.m. — My stomach is growling, but my roommates are in the kitchen talking loudly about memes, and the last thing I want to do is be pulled into their conversation. I wait for 30 minutes but eventually give in and emerge to heat up some leftover chili and cornbread, while politely making it clear I don’t want to chat.
8:30 p.m. — I tap my card to catch the train to a bar that my friend works at. $2.90
9 p.m. — There was supposed to be a pool tournament tonight, but it seems to have been canceled. I decide I still want to play a few games, so I get a plain seltzer (and tip generously) to drink while I wait my turn. $6
10:30 p.m. — I play two games of pool ($1.50 each) and lose both. A wave of sadness comes over me and makes it hard to chat with my friends who are there. $3
10:45 p.m. — I get another seltzer and keep watching pool games. $6
11:45 p.m. — I take the subway home. When I get home, I have a good cry and then smoke some weed to help me go to bed. I make a plate of nachos for myself, then turn off the lights after I finish. $2.90
Daily Total: $20.80

Day Four

12 p.m. — I’m not that ashamed to admit that these are pretty typical wake-up times for my weekends. I wake up to a phone call from my friend, A., but am not ready for human interaction, so I fall asleep for another 45 minutes and then get up to make some coffee before I call her back. We chat for about an hour, then I make my favorite weekend brunch: cheesy scrambled eggs on avocado toast. While I eat, I keep reading Cleat Cute.
2:15 p.m. — I do some household chores and then lay in bed on my phone for a while. Then I pack a bag with pajamas and head out the door to begin my Superbowl Sunday activities. My first stop is at the corner store to get chips — I know lots of people are bringing dips to the viewing party, so I hope this will be a useful contribution. $4
2:30 p.m. — I catch the bus over to my friend C.’s house. $2.90
6:35 p.m. — After playing some board games with my friends, we split an Uber over to the actual viewing party ($3.50) at another friend’s house. We’re a little late but haven’t missed anything big. $3.50
7 p.m. — I eat some wings, artichoke dip, and pigs in a blanket — these all make me a little thirsty, but I don’t feel like drinking today, so I run down to the corner store with two friends and get a Coke so that I too can have a fun bevvy. $2
10:30 p.m. — Most people have left by now, but the game is in overtime and I actually am curious to see who will win, though the result doesn’t really matter to me. I’m having a sleepover with my friend G. tonight, so we help clean up when the game is over, then catch the subway to her place. We spend the train ride dishing about some of her recent romantic encounters. $2.90
12:30 a.m. — We rewatch Usher’s half-time show and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $15.30

Day Five

8 a.m. — G’s alarm goes off and she snoozes it. I slept terribly and kept waking up during the night, but I actually feel okay as we slowly get out of bed. She offers me some peanut butter toast, but I’m not hungry yet, so I head to the train while she walks to work — I have a holiday today! I fill up a weekly Metrocard. $34
10 a.m. — The train is blissfully quiet, since people are generally commuting out of my neighborhood. When I get home, I smoke some weed and take a shower, then make peanut butter toast with honey, apple slices, and cinnamon, which I have with two cups of coffee. I start One Day on Netflix while I eat.
11:45 a.m. — I’m out of underwear so I pile up my dirty clothes and bring them to the laundromat, and add money to my laundry card. While I wait for my clothes in the washer, I read Cleat Cute. $6
12:10 p.m. — After I load the dryer, I walk to the grocery store and get eggs, tomatoes, shallots, cornbread mix, chicken, celery, and coffee. Once the groceries and laundry are put away/folded, I deep-clean my bathroom and my bedroom since my mom is coming to visit this weekend. $29.51
2 p.m. — I catch the train back into the city to go to an art museum with T., who also has the day off. I get free tickets using my old student ID.
5 p.m. — We walk around a little before I realize I need to get going. On the train home, I finish Cleat Cute and Bluest Nude, which makes me feel a little better about my reading progress — my goal is to read 70 books this year!
6 p.m. — I heat up leftover chili and cornbread for dinner again and start a new book, The Country Under My Skin.
6:30 p.m. — I catch the train to a pool tournament at my favorite bar. I have to transfer and swipe twice again, but this time it’s “free” with my unlimited Metrocard.
7:30 p.m. — Once I sign up for the tournament, I get a beer ($7). The first round of games goes slowly, but it gets more exciting as I make it into the semi-finals and then the finals. I buy a second beer before the final game ($7). A girl that I sometimes flirt with and kiss shows up to watch me, and I realize this is kind of a date. $14
9:45 p.m. — My partner and I win the tournament! The prize is a baseball hat from the bar, plus a free drink. I get a whiskey sour for free, plus a beer for my date (?) and I keep playing pool ($7). After a few games, she suggests we get an Uber back to our neighborhood and we head out. $7
11 p.m. — The Uber drops us off at my house, and we make out in front of my steps for a while. Unfortunately I tell her that I’m not ready to invite her in, so we part ways — she only lives two blocks from me, so she’s not far from home. I get ready for bed, watch One Day, and pray for a snow day tomorrow.
Daily Total: $90.51

Day Six

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I refresh my email several times in the hopes that it will change the fact that my office is not closed. I watch the snow fall and then double-check how much PTO I have… And then I call out of work. I’ll probably regret it later, but the fact that this is the most snow we’ve had in two years makes me think I may not have many snow days left in my lifetime, so I’d like to enjoy this one. After I email my supervisor, I fall back asleep.
10:30 a.m. — I’m awake again and lay in bed for a while watching the snow before I get up and make another piece of peanut butter toast with apple slices and honey.
4 p.m. — The snow stopped a while ago and I’m feeling restless. I smoke some weed and then go for a leisurely walk around the neighborhood with my headphones in. In the park, I look at all the different snowpeople being built and it gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Eventually I end up back at home.
6 p.m. — I am having regrets about using my vacation time for today, so I try to combat it by meal prepping. I make a pan of cornbread muffins, plus egg bites with cheese, tomato, and spinach. I throw some seasoned chicken breasts in the oven, too, which I use to make chicken salad with celery and red onions. Dinner is once again leftover chili with fresh cornbread.
9 p.m. — After I finish doing the dishes from my cooking sprint, I get dressed and take the train to a bar that I regularly play pool at. When I get there, I get a beer and sign up to play ($6). I play two games, and each time is free, since someone overpaid and left credits on the table. $6
11 p.m. — I want a cigarette but realize I’m carrying around an empty pack, so I say goodbye to my friends at the bar and go buy a pack, then take the subway home. $11.44
11:45 p.m. — I stop at the bodega on my way home and pick up a pint of cherry ice cream, and heat up some hot fudge for a sundae when I get home, then it’s bedtime. $6
Daily Total: $23.44

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I snooze my alarm until the last second as usual, then get ready for work. I pack my gym clothes and a chicken salad sandwich, and take two egg bites to eat while I walk to the train.
9:15 a.m. — Since I haven’t been here in four days, I have many emails to respond to. First I get a cup of coffee from the cafeteria and settle in. My coworker and I get the exciting news that we’ve been accepted to give a talk at a conference in the summer — this will be my first time at any professional conference! $1.63
12 p.m. — Break for lunch. I decide my sandwich won’t be enough and get a bag of popcorn from the cafeteria as a supplement. After I finish eating, I walk around another exhibit that I haven’t seen, then spend the afternoon finding articles in the library for a patron. $2.18
3 p.m. — I check my bank account and realize I received my tax refund! I use the opportunity to pay off the rest of my credit card — I relied on my credit card heavily while I was in grad school and have been slowly making payments on it, so this feels great. I know I’ll use a chunk of my tax refund to make a student loan payment, but I also want to treat myself to something fun so I do some research on where I could buy a pool cue in the city. $322.33
5 p.m. — Clock out and begin the 20-block walk to the rec center. It’s bitterly cold but it’s Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday, so the people-watching is enjoyable. At the gym, I do a quick arm workout and run two miles. The city rec centers are free for everyone aged 24 and under, and I am constantly extolling their virtues to everyone I know. Sadly I’ll probably have to buy a membership later this year.
6:45 p.m. — When I get off the train, I stop at the liquor store for a bottle of rosé. Back at home, I shower and start making dinner — there is plenty of chili left but I need some variety, so I make a risotto with pancetta, peas, and corn. It comes out too salty but it’s a nice solo V-day dinner, especially with the rosé. $12
9:15 p.m. — My friends are out at a dyke night and I heavily consider staying in with my rosé and a rom-com, but ultimately decide the social interaction will be good for me. Plus, I’m a little tipsy. I put on a pink button-up and Cupid earrings and catch the train.
10 p.m. — One of my friends found out that she passed a major med school test, so we’re celebrating — I buy her a beer and shot combo and get one for myself, too. $22.33
11:15 p.m. — I get an elderflower lemonade and we hit the dance floor. My friend and I do some smooching, and then it’s time to head home. She gets a car, but I walk to the train. When I get home, I make some nachos and then head to bed. $15
Daily Total: $375.47

The Breakdown

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