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A Week In New York, NY, On A $98,000 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.

Today: a business development advisor who makes $98,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Occupation: Business Development Advisor
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 30
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $98,000
Net Worth: -$15,000 ($20,000 in savings, $70,000 in 403(b), $5,000 in stocks and investments minus debt)
Debt: $110,000 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,025 (I live in a studio apartment, hot water and heat are included)
Loans: $0 (my loans are still on hold)
Electricity/Trash/Water: ~$60
Internet: $50
Health, Dental & Other Coverage Insurances: $104.36 (per paycheck, pre-tax)
HSA: $52.64 (per paycheck, pre-tax)
401(k): $415 (per paycheck, pre-tax)
Hulu/Spotify: $10.59 ( I share this with my parents and mooch other streaming from them)
iCloud Storage: $3.12
New York Times: $6.36
Equinox Membership: $300
Savings: $500-$750
Annual Expenses:
Pet Insurance: $250
Renters Insurance: $150 (annual)
Cell Phone Bill: $480 (paid to my parents annually)
Medical One: $199 (annual)
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?
Both of my parents went to college and somewhere around 95% of my graduating class (at a public high school) went on to higher education. So yes, it was expected. I know my brother wasn't as keen on college, so I'm not sure what those conversations we like with my parents, but I always loved school and became obsessed with going to college. In my view, my hard work would pay off if I was accepted to and went to a prestigious school, which I see now as problematic since I really don't think it made much of a difference. It did allow me to move across the country and become pretty independent, so there's that. My parents pretty much paid for undergrad, they made me take out small loans to make sure I also felt invested in my education. I knew going into graduate school I would be on my own which was why I went to school full-time while I worked full-time, it was a lot and I'm not sure I'd recommend it but it seemed like my only option. I also went into those loans planning to pursue public service loan forgiveness (PSLF). I re-certify every year and recommend that to anyone who is working towards it.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parent's philosophy was always simple — spend within your means. They opened a bank account for my brother and me when we were young and encouraged us to save. They were never open about how much they made or how much they had saved, but now I talk more with my parents about finances.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat when I was younger but my first real job was as a barista at a local coffee and ice cream shop. I got it because it was a pretty cool job plus I knew it would look good on college resumes. I also did it for gas and spending money. It was a great first job — sometimes I just want to quit my job and work at a coffee shop.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Quite frankly, no. I always felt very secure and rarely remember my parents saying no to sports teams, field trips, etc. My mom would work on and off depending on where my brother and I were in life. They always based their budget off of my dad's salary — my mom's was always considered extra but I know now the years she wasn't working were tight. My parents were creative for birthdays and vacations and I know sacrificed a lot for themselves so we could have a great childhood. I hope I can be as selfless if I have kids.
Do you worry about money now?
I'm an anxious person, so generally, I do. I have a super detailed budget and track my spending daily. I don't always know what I am saving for but I try to save as much as I can while also balancing a satisfying life. That philosophy seems to be working for now. My student loan balance also freaks me out but re-certifying public service loan forgiveness (PSLF) each year eases that anxiety and stress.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Probably the second year after I graduated undergrad, so around 23. I moved to DC without a job and spent a month on a friend's air mattress while I looked for an apartment and a job. My parents partially paid for my rent for the first six months of my lease while I had some temp jobs and built up some savings. I slowly started paying for things like car insurance and my phone bill and went off of their health insurance at 26. I would definitely say my parents are my safety net, although I have never asked them for money and hope I never have to.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
When my grandmother passed away each of her 13 grandchildren received $10,000 which helped pay for some grad school expenses, travel, and debt from undergrad, but mostly jump-started my savings. My parents are incredibly generous and when they get bonuses they usually pass on some money and they are very generous at Christmas. They say they'd like to see us enjoy their money while they're alive. It's very kind and is something I don't budget for, but always appreciate greatly.

Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up to my kitty purring in my face, happy Monday. We cuddle a little more until I finally get up. I make breakfast tacos with kale, eggs, pickled jalapeños, avocado, and lemon, so good! I make coffee and sit down to start work.
12 p.m. — Finish my only meeting of the day and make a lunch of Trader Joe's vegan buffalo dip, carrots and crackers, and a matcha. With my free afternoon, I hunker down and work on a project I have been procrastinating on.
3 p.m. — I change my sheets and pack up two weeks' worth of laundry. I moved to New York a month ago from DC and this has been a difficult adjustment (not having a washer and dryer in unit), but honestly getting your clothes picked up then dropped off folded is very nice so I shouldn't complain.
5 p.m. — I head over to the gym for a Pilates class. My gym membership is too expensive but it was the best option for me in my neighborhood plus the price really does get my booty there (along with the Kiehl's products and a steam room).
6:30 p.m. — After the class, I head over to Whole Foods. My fridge is mostly stocked but I need to pick up a few things for the week. I get kale, lemons, avocados, green onions, eggs, Honey Mama's chocolate (the absolute best), and an Olipop as a treat. I last minute add the almond milk birthday cake ice cream I've been seeing on TikTok. $26.15
7 p.m. — I made Korean veggie pancakes yesterday and I air fry one of the leftover pancakes with some asparagus for dinner. I eat it while I watch Jeopardy!
9 p.m. — I watch an episode of Flight Attendant, journal, then read until I'm sleepy. I'm reading Writers & Lovers. It's been on my list forever and I'm really enjoying it! I struggle to fall asleep but doze off around 1.
Daily Total: $26.15

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Ugh, up for a 7 a.m. call. It's pretty common since I work closely with our Asia offices, but somehow getting up never gets easier. I am not a morning person and I honestly would sell my soul for a few more hours of sleep. I brush my hair and throw on a cardigan in case they have their video cameras on.
8 a.m. — The call goes well and I don't have another meeting until 9 so I climb into bed and sort of nap.
9 a.m. — Back up for my 9 a.m. and regretting my decision to "sleep." I'm more tired than before, but luckily I'm just listening in on this one so I cook round two of my breakfast tacos and make coffee.
2 p.m. — The dresser that I ordered is delivered! I use this as my lunch break and put it together. I hate buying new furniture but this piece is small and light so I can carry it up the stairs myself. The dresser fits really well in my closet and I am relieved — getting a 325 square foot apartment to work without buying too much or overcrowding the space has been a challenge.
3 p.m. — I see $278 from Ticketmaster has been deposited in my account, I transfer it to savings. I sold my Phoebe Bridgers Brooklyn tickets so I could buy tickets to her Forest Hills show, she keeps saying that the show is going to be special, I'm hoping for a Boygenius reunion!? I am an absolute simp for Phoebe, Lucy, and Julien. I go ahead and buy the new ticket. $124.59
4 p.m. — Head over to the gym for a weight lifting class. I head home but get a text from a friend asking if I want to go for a walk. It's so nice out, I can't refuse. Sometimes I can't believe I live five minutes from Central Park, the joy it brings me is unreal. We walk for a bit then continue to chat on my stoop.
7 p.m. — Cook up another Korean pancake and asparagus while watching Jeopardy! Soon after, my laundry is delivered and I put it away in my new dresser, honestly so satisfying. Is this what being an adult feels like? And I only get one sock in my laundry that's not mine so that's a win. $35.16
9 p.m. — I swipe a bit through my dating apps and decide to upgrade Bumble for the week. I recently came out (shout out to all of the late-in-life baby queers out there!) so navigating dating has been... difficult. I've been slowly figuring things out over the past year and a half and know that it is time for me to get out there and actually date but it's scary, I just a baby! $21.19
Daily Total: $180.94

Day Three

6:40 a.m. — Naturally wake up and realize I did not set an alarm for my 7 a.m. Thank you body for being on top of things! I quickly get myself presentable and join the call.
7:30 a.m. — The call is done and I crawl back into bed, will I ever learn? Probably not.
9 a.m. — My alarm goes off but I am so groggy I snooze a few times until I really need to get up and get ready for my 10 a.m. I don't have time to make breakfast. Luckily, it's a short meet and greet with a new staff member so I make round three of breakfast tacos after.
12 p.m. — Done with meetings for the day! I take a break and watch a lesson from an investing course I bought a little while back. Today, I'm learning about socially responsible investing and it turns out that it really doesn't exist, but I will do my own research and see what makes sense for me. I eat dolmas for lunch while I watch.
5 p.m. — Wrap up work and start getting ready for a comedy show I'm going to with my friends. I pack my rainbow purse that is cute but also says maybe I'm queer? Most days I feel like I have no idea what I am doing.
6:30 p.m. — Get a text from my friend saying that work is running late and she won't have time to grab dinner before the show. Luckily, I haven't left yet AND I have a box of mac and cheese for this very occasion. While I'm waiting I buy a pair of black Dickies that seem like they'll go with everything, worth a try. $65
7:30 p.m. — Head out on the subway. I have money loaded on my card so no cost right now. It's too nice out, it is the kind of weather after a long winter that reminds you how great life can be. Also, we're seeing Mae Martin and I'm so stoked! There is a majority of queer-appearing folks at the venue which makes me feel so happy but also sad that I haven't found my community yet. I get cups of wine for me and my friends, but will Venmo them later along with the ticket price. $54
9:40 p.m. — Ahhh the show was so good! Mae's set was just perfect, absolutely love them and, bonus, I think I saw Elliot Page!? We subway back uptown and one of my friends and I head to a dive bar. She gets food and I grab a beer. Such a lovely evening, 10 out of 10. $11

11:30 p.m. — Get home and check my dating apps. A girl I've been talking to asked me on a date!? She seems really sweet and cute so yay! But ahh my first date with a lady — I feel a rush of panic that can only be described as gay. I read myself to sleep with my cat purring on my chest trying not to overthink it.

Daily Total: $130

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — So grateful I don't have an early meeting today. I slowly wake up and make breakfast tacos again and a coffee. I'm out of milk so I blend some cashew milk. Over the past few years, I have been trying to reduce my plastic use and making my own milk helps. I also try to buy in bulk when I can, make things like bread, and buy items in glass or aluminum. Online shopping, however, is something I am working on.
12 p.m. — I make popcorn for lunch. I haven't been in much of a lunch mood, normally I meal prep salad or something but I didn't this week and it shows. I buy Peacock Premium so I can stream the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills premiere during my break. Reality TV was my vice during grad school to shut off my brain it has kind of stuck. $4.99
5 p.m. — I wrap up work for now and text with a friend. We talked about doing drinks/dinner tonight but instead decide to get together this weekend. I sign up for a class at the gym 20 blocks from me so I can get outside and walk a bit. The weather continues to be perfect. I'm sad my friend canceled plans, seeing these happy hours on my walk is giving me FOMO.
6 p.m. — That class was TOUGH and I decide to treat myself with some Chopt for dinner on the walk home. $17.40
7 p.m. — I eat while watching Jeopardy!, truly the best dinner activity. I log back onto my work computer and finish up that project I've been dragging my feet on.
10 p.m. — I take a break and buy some Ray-Bans on Poshmark that I've been eyeing up. I finish up work way later than I expect and turn off the lights at 1 a.m. $46.47
Daily Total: $68.86

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Good news, it's Bagel Friday!!! It is also no meeting Friday, so I get ready and pack up my backpack to head to Soho to grab a bagel and work somewhere that is not my studio. I take the subway downtown. I still have money on my card.
10 a.m. — I get a bagel and small coffee. While I'm eating it, someone from the shop approaches me and says they accidentally made two of my bagels and asks if I want the second one, ummm YES. I Google how long cream cheese is good for out in the world and it's only two to four hours, so disappointing, but I guess I'll just have to eat it for lunch. Two bagels in one day, poor me. $10.98
1 p.m. — This location of my gym is a perfect spot to work. I get a seat at a table and there are outlets and fast internet. I put on a new episode of my favorite podcast, Keeping Records. Muna is the guest and I love it. I get quite a bit done then head into the gym to get a little workout in.
3 p.m. — I grab a green juice from the lobby and have that with my bagel. I finish up some work then finish my book and download Almond as my next read. I leave the gym and do some window shopping around Soho. $11.92
5:30 p.m. — On my way home I stop at Duane Reade to pick up my migraine medication. I pay the co-pay. $13.56
6 p.m. — I get home and my Dickies have arrived but they fit me terribly, so I will return them. I take a little rest, FaceTime my niece and nephew, then start getting ready for my night out. I am headed to Brooklyn to go out with a college friend. My two bagels are holding me over so I don't eat dinner, which may be a mistake.
9 p.m. — I subway to Williamsburg where I meet up with my friend and her friends at a bar. They are finishing up so I don't get anything and we head back to one of their apartments. We play some drinking games which I feel a little old for but lean into it. Eventually we Uber into Manhattan.
3 a.m. — Wow, such a fun night! I bought my friend and myself a drink and the rest was covered by a bartender one of the girls knew. The night consisted of a lot of dancing; the DJ's were loving ABBA and I am here for it. My friend and I stop for some late-night snacks, and she insists this place has the best burger she's ever tried. I get the impossible burger and fries, and I gotta say, it is pretty darn good. She'll Venmo me for it later. $26.14
4 a.m. — Probably not my smartest move but I subway home, there are enough people around that I feel safe and I'm not drunk. I have to load money on my subway card. Get home and crash immediately. $30
Daily Total: $92.60

Day Six

12:30 p.m. — I usually can't sleep in so I am impressed, also, miraculously not hungover! I text my friend to make plans for the day. I eat some avocado toast and get ready to head out. I suggest heading to the abortion rally downtown and to check out the farmers market after. I wear my sweatshirt that says "sugar, spice and reproductive rights," but decide not to bring one of my many pro-abortion posters.
1:30 p.m. — I stop by a coffee shop to grab a super expensive matcha. Apparently, New York has a minimum fee and you have to spend $50 every time you leave your apartment, I don't make the rules. $10.25
2:30 p.m. — I meet up with my friend at Union Square. I love you NY, but DC does protests better. I am happy to be there and hear from some awesome people. I was training to be an abortion doula before I moved and I volunteer as a comprehensive sexuality education teacher, so reproductive access and justice are super important to me. Before we leave, I donate to the organizers of the rally. $10
4 p.m. — We walk around the market a bit but it starts to pour so we grab a table at a cozy Italian spot for a late lunch. It's a little overpriced and the food is fine, but we have a nice afternoon as the rain slows down. $66.16
6 p.m. — We walk around a bit and end up at Washington Square Park. Eventually, we head home and I manage not to spend any more money. I definitely hit the NY $50 fee today.
9 p.m. — I have a chill night in and watch Crush on Hulu. It's cute and the perfect light-hearted movie to end the day.
Daily Total: $86.41

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I leisurely wake up, and make more avo toast and some coffee. I watch SNL and chill with the cat for a bit.
1:30 p.m. — Eventually, I get the energy to leave the house for a barre class. I sit in the sauna afterward, which is lovely, and then head over to Whole Foods. I get tofu, tempeh bacon, truffle hot sauce, coconut yogurt, bulk pistachios, snap peas, green onions, broccoli, lemons, avocados, quinoa flour tortillas, more chocolate, and seltzer. $87.10
3 p.m. — I blend up some pistachio milk and use it to make matcha, it's pretty good. I drink that while I get ready for my date. I am feeling very anxious.
7:30 p.m. — I walk home from the date. It went pretty well! We got Thai food and she paid, which was super sweet. I think I put too much stock into this date to confirm and validate all of my feelings over the last year and a half, which is unfair. I feel like I have more questions than I do answers. I'm not sure I felt a spark but will probably go on another date.
8 p.m. — I take my migraine medication. I think the stress leading up to the date triggered it. I rest with my heated eye mask and read a bit once it subsides. I have a lot of thoughts running through my head and don't fall asleep until 2-ish.
Daily Total: $87.10
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