Money Diaries logo

A Week In Rockland County, NY, On A $70,000 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 dollar.

Today: an associate publisher who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a tip at brunch.
Occupation: Associate Publisher
Industry: Magazine Publishing
Age: 29
Location: Rockland County, NY
Salary: $70,000
Net Worth: $181,000 (401(k): $30,000, CD: $77,000, savings: $53,000, checking: $8,500, Roth IRA: $11,000, bonds: ~$1,500. My partner and I have separate bank accounts and pay separately. I send him money each month for rent.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,807
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (I pay my partner on the first of the month. He pays our rent ($1,750 for a one-bedroom) to our landlord. We agreed upon this breakdown three years ago as a ratio of our respective salaries, and it works for us. My partner also covers utilities.)
Cell Phone: $26.35
Streaming Services: $0 (use partner's accounts)
401(k): $875
Dental Insurance: $14.22
Health Insurance: $255
Vision Insurance: $4.70
Cell Phone: $26.35
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, there was an expectation for me to attend higher education. My father attended undergrad and one year of grad school. My sister and I excelled academically and were expected to go to college. We both went to the same college, which had a special partnership with our high school that covered the cost of any student loans we would have had to take out. My dad paid a small portion of my undergraduate education, and I paid for the remainder with my savings and job earnings during college.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I grew up in a single-parent household and we definitely had conversations about money often. My father worked hard to educate us about good saving and spending habits. We didn't have a ton of money, so we learned about becoming resourceful with what we had. I learned early on about savings/checking accounts, CDs, and the like. Due to these experiences, I definitely would consider myself more on the frugal side.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a jewelry store clerk at 16. I wanted more experience on my resume besides educational clubs and this was a great way for me to earn money on my own. I loved this job, and I did save most of my earnings from it.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes. My dad worked a lot, so we didn't get to go out for fun too much. We rarely ate out and I learned how to cook early on to help my family out. My grandparents would pick us up from school because my dad worked further away, and we were sometimes able to go out with them. Overall, we lived a rather frugal lifestyle. I didn't ever feel like I was lacking though. We shopped on sale racks and I became a big coupon user at the grocery store, but I found myself enjoying new ways to save money for myself and my family.
Do you worry about money now?
Not too much. While I still have a more frugal mindset, I am working to shift it into one that supports wealth abundance. My partner is very good at this and helps me to have perspective. We are also working hard to save money for a house, so we try to balance our saving goals with fun opportunities that come our way. Due to our jobs in more creative fields, we're lucky to have unique and enjoyable experiences come our way that we often don't have to pay too much for.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I didn't become fully financially responsible until I was 26 when I moved out of my dad's house and in with my boyfriend. I was already on my own health insurance, but I couldn't afford an apartment on my own prior to that point. After moving in with my boyfriend, I eventually got a series of raises and now feel very financially responsible. If I ever lost housing or income, my boyfriend or dad would definitely do what they could to help me out. I am fortunate to be able to support myself at this point in my life, which makes me happy.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up and meditate with my partner, D., then get ready for a day at the office.
8:30 a.m. — It takes me an hour to drive to work, so I pack breakfast to eat when I'm there. I make my go-to, overnight oats with cinnamon, peanut butter, blueberries, and collagen powder. To drink, I sip on caramel coffee. Grinding my own beans at home makes all the difference.
12:30 p.m. — After a semi-stressful morning trying to get workflow operations smoothed out, I take a quick half-hour lunch before my next meeting. I packed a salad with avocado, blackberries, and pistachios, along with a homemade banana, peanut butter, chocolate chip bar on the side.
6 p.m. — I'm back home! It was a long day, so I quickly unpack, then get straight to my Heather Robertson YouTube workout. I'm finishing up one of her 60-day challenges. I love these because I don't have to think too much about what to do each day, and they always make me sweat.
7 p.m. — After my workout, I hop in the shower, do a hair mask, and put on some teeth whitening gel. While that sets, I whip up dinner. Tonight, I'm making sweet potato and avocado salad with sriracha. I watch a YouTube beauty/makeup video while I eat, then clean up and have dessert. I have a massive sweet tooth, so I always have dessert on hand. Tonight, it's another peanut butter, banana, chocolate chip bar (recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction).
9 p.m. — I read a magazine and book until D. comes home, then we catch up while he has a late dinner that I made earlier. We're in bed by 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and meditate, then get ready. I only have to go into the office one day a week, so I work from home the rest of the week.
7:45 a.m. — I make oatmeal for D. and myself for breakfast, then top mine with cinnamon, peanut butter, blueberries, and collagen powder. We eat on the porch before I start work and D. heads out for his job.

12:48 p.m. — It's been a busy morning and I'm famished. I make a salad with avocado, blackberries, and pistachios, with a few squares of dark chocolate for a sweet treat.

4:30 p.m. — D. gets home early, so I sign off a little early to hang out with him. He takes a quick nap and I paint my nails.

6 p.m. — We do a Heather Robertson workout, then take a shower and start on dinner. D. pours wine and I turn on the music. I love nights like these.

8 p.m. — We make veggie egg rolls with mango pineapple salad for dinner and eat it on the porch. The recipe is a riff on a Half Baked Harvest one.

8:45 p.m. — I make us chocolate lava cakes for dessert while D. catches up with his family on the phone. Then we read for a little bit. We're in bed by 10:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6 a.m. — I can't sleep, so I wake up before my alarm, then meditate and read. D. wakes up a little while later, then we snuggle on the sofa.
7:30 a.m. — It's a beautiful morning, so we head out for a short walk around the neighborhood.
8:30 a.m. — I make us coffee and do my makeup, then we head out to Dick's Sporting Goods. I dropped my bike off last weekend for a tune-up (pre-paid), so I'm just picking it up. D. and I love going on bike rides, so this is much needed. The bike looks good, so we load it in the car and head home.
11:30 a.m. — After dropping off the bike, we pick up our friend, K., and head to a food festival upstate. I got press passes through work, so we don't have to pay to attend. There are so many yummy food samples and we have a blast trying everything and rating our favorites.
5:30 p.m. — We're finally back home. We unwind and make espressos, then chill out a bit before working out (yes, another Heather Robertson video). We hop in the shower afterward.
8:10 p.m. — I'm not super hungry after all those samples, so D. makes himself a breakfast-for-dinner eggs and potatoes hash. Then I make us both a few chocolate chip cookies and a mug of tea.
9:30 p.m. — I read, do my skin-care routine, then go to bed by 10:15 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up with my alarm, then meditate and read. I love a low-key morning when the sun is shining.
7:15 a.m. — I make D. and myself some coffee. We're going to brunch, so we just need something to sustain us for the drive.
10 a.m. — We make it to brunch, which is a press invite for some content I'm working on. The brunch is incredible, and we split a watermelon salad, carbonara pizza, and blueberry French toast. I leave a tip for our waiter, who was very nice. $20
12 p.m. — We walk around the antiques shops and stores in town. There are so many fun spots, but we don't buy anything.
3:30 p.m. — We get home, and D. takes a nap. I look at recipes for our themed dinner night next weekend. Once a month, we pick out a different theme and make three new recipes around it. It's a fun excuse for an at-home date night that doesn't cost too much. Afterward, I call my grandma to catch up.
6:30 p.m. — We do another Heather Robertson workout and take a shower.
7:30 p.m. — We heat up leftover pizza from brunch, which was super filling, and I make us more chocolate chip cookies for dessert. We watch Queen Charlotte on Netflix. I absolutely love this show. Then we read and are in bed by 10:15 p.m.
Daily Total: $20

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and meditate with D., then get ready for work.
8 a.m. — We're running a bit later this morning, so I eat breakfast while working. I'm back to my usual, coffee and oatmeal with cinnamon, collagen, peanut butter, and blueberries. While eating, D. and I run through our schedules for the next few weeks. We have a lot going on and want to make sure we're not double-booking ourselves. D. heads out not too long after that.
12:48 p.m. — Time for lunch! We need to go grocery shopping, so I'm limited in what ingredients I can work with. I make a random lunch of roasted sweet potatoes, garlic cheddar cheese cubes, pistachios, blueberries, and graham crackers.
5 p.m. — Work is over, so I clean up, journal for a bit, and make challah bread dough to bake later. D. gets home around 6, then we do a workout and take a quick shower before running to the grocery store. I fill up with gas on the way. $44.40
7:45 p.m. — We finish grocery shopping in record time. D. pays for groceries, which he usually does. I clip coupons and search for deals in advance, so I always have a pretty concrete list of what to buy before we go, which is super helpful to prevent us from getting side-tracked. For dinner, I make us Half Baked Harvest's cashew chicken with broccoli and rice recipe. We eat on the porch, which is lovely.
8:40 p.m. — We clean up, then I bake up some chocolate chip cookies for us. While we eat them, I put the challah bread in the oven to bake. I read for a bit, then pull the bread out of the oven. It looks perfect, and I can't wait to use it for French toast.
10 p.m. — D. has to wake up really early tomorrow, so we get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $44.40

Day Six

5 a.m. — D. has to leave really early to travel for work, so I get up with him. We cuddle for a little bit, then I blearily make him coffee. D. is out the door by 5:30 a.m., and I head back to bed.
6:30 a.m. — I'm awake for real this time. I get up and meditate, then get ready for work.
7:45 a.m. — I whip up a breakfast of coffee and oatmeal with blueberries, cinnamon, collagen powder, and peanut butter. It's so good. I could (and usually do) eat oatmeal every day.
12:45 p.m. — After a full morning of work, I'm hungry. I heat up the leftover cashew chicken and have it with a few slices of challah bread and a few squares of dark chocolate.
5 p.m. — Work is over, so I hustle over to the laundry room to pop a load in. D. loaded the laundry card at the beginning of the week, so I don't have to pay anything new for it. It's $1.30 for the washer and $1.30 for the dryer. I love my apartment, but the one thing I'd change about it would be to add an in-unit washer/dryer.
6 p.m. — I do a workout, then shower and rotate the laundry to the dryer.
7:15 p.m. — Since D. is away, I'm cooking for one tonight. I make roasted potatoes and veggies, then top them on a salad. For dessert, I make two blueberry tarts, one for today and another for tomorrow. The recipe is a new-to-me one from Sally's Baking Addiction, and it's delicious.
8 p.m. — I catch up with D. on the phone, then clean up and read for a little bit. Eventually, I convince myself that yes, I really do need to fold the laundry.
10 p.m. — I'm about to go to bed, but then I see a bug on my pillow. I immediately get it off, but now I'm super paranoid and have a horrible time falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up after an unsurprisingly bad night of sleep, then meditate, get ready, and talk to D. on the phone before leaving for work.
9:15 a.m. — I got to work over half an hour ago, but I'm just getting to breakfast now. I eat oatmeal with blueberries, cinnamon, collagen powder, and peanut butter.
12:30 p.m. — I have a light lunch of salad with roasted potatoes with challah bread. We have a company outing in a little bit and I expect food will be involved.
4 p.m. — We have a company outing to a local winery, which is super fun. We learn about production and I capture a lot of content for social. Then we dig into a spread of food to go with the wine.
7:30 p.m. — My colleague drops me back at the office. I didn't drink a lot because I knew I'd have to drive an hour home. The prospect of it already has me feeling exhausted.
8:30 p.m. — I finally make it home and am absolutely wiped but hype myself up to do a quick, 20-minute workout. I feel 100% better after getting it done and taking a shower.
9 p.m. — I'm pretty full from all the food at the winery, so I snack on a granola bar, make some tea, and have my remaining blueberry tart. I catch up with D. while I eat, then am cozied up in bed by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
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 behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series