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A Week In New York, NY, On A $105,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Gulp Hablo.
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 communications lead who makes $105,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Gulp Hablo’s orange wine.
Occupation: Communications lead
Industry: Brand strategy
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $105,000 ($95,000 base, plus bonus).
Net Worth: $75,104 (checking: $2,423.14; emergency fund: $13,898.43; travel savings: $350.55; 401(k): $33,768.49; Roth IRA: $24,310.24; HSA: $353.18)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,276
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,750 for my half of a two-bedroom apartment rental, split evenly with my boyfriend, J. He pays for streaming services, utilities, and Wi-Fi, since he makes more.
Emergency Fund: $400
Travel Savings: $400
Employer 401(k): $948 (pre-tax).
Health Insurance: $106 (pre tax).
FSA Contribution: $20 (pre-tax).
Roth IRA: $550
Transit: $50 (pre-tax).
Cell Phone: $85
ClassPass: $65 ($45 reimbursed by work).
Gym: $20
iCloud Storage: $2.99
Spotify: $9.99
Prescriptions: $7
Lawn Mowing: $40 (I pay for this for my parents).

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?
I got my bachelor’s degree from a large state school. My dad has a bachelor’s degree and my mom dropped out of university but went back to community college when she was in her 40s, so I think it was an unspoken expectation that I’d pursue an education beyond high school. My parents had invested in a state-run education fund back when I was born that promised to pay for in-state tuition, no matter how much the cost inflated. It was a big upfront cost — I think about $10,000 — but it ended up paying off big time since the cost of higher education has skyrocketed. I’m not sure if my parents would’ve been able to fully pay for my college otherwise.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents helped me open a savings account when I was in elementary school and taught me how to write a check. Beyond that, they didn’t teach me much. I had to ask them for a debit card for my savings account when I was in high school, and I found out about credit scores and investing on my own once I was in college. The biggest thing I’ve held onto is my mom telling me in middle school that I’ll probably never make as much money as my dad. I think she was telling me this to make me feel grateful, but it may have also created some limiting beliefs for me.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a chain restaurant when I was 16. I worked there for about a year, sometimes working up to 30 hours a week. I got it to have spending money and also to add to my savings.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I am lucky that I did not have significant worries about money growing up. We always had the basics and my parents also made sure we were able to do extracurricular activities and take family trips (often road trips, nothing international). During the 2008 financial crisis, my dad’s work branch was closed and we were forced to move across the country for him to have a job. Our house was on the market for over a year, and my parents ended up losing $200,000 on it, which impacted their longer-term financial situation. This was the only time I was hyper-aware of financial troubles in my family.
Do you worry about money now?
I think I worry about money more than I should, partially because I have a generally anxious personality and partially because I know how important money is. I volunteer with a program for homebound elderly people, and it’s really opened my eyes to how much of a difference money can make in the trajectory of your life and your quality of life when you’re older.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became fully financially responsible at 22 when I graduated college. While I do think I could depend on my parents in an emergency situation, I’m proud that I’ve worked hard to create my own safety net and make my dream of living in NYC a reality. My parents have done so much for me that I don’t want to ever have to put them in that situation. And now, I am also trying to give back to them in small ways, like paying for their lawn mowing service.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents loaned me a car for high school and college, then I gave it back to them when I graduated. Other than that, no.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, make the bed, give the feral cats in the backyard some treats, and do 10 minutes of stretching. Then I get ready and make coffee, and potato, sungold tomato, and fried egg bowls for myself and my boyfriend, J. The tomatoes are from our six-month bi-weekly CSA, which we paid $800 for in a lump sum back in May. I don’t usually make coffee at home (acid reflux gang!), but it’s Monday. I always start work around 9:30 a.m., and I usually work from home.
11:30 a.m. — I have a break from my morning meetings and notice J. has requested me on Venmo for half of a campsite reservation he made for us upstate. $27.25
12:15 p.m. — The hunger pangs are right on cue. I venture into the kitchen, but before I can start making lunch, J. offers to do it. I made all of our meals last week because he had COVID-19, so it’s only fair. We have sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, and fake turkey (we both eat vegetarian at home) and some peach slices on the side.
2:30 p.m. — I hit that afternoon wall, so I fill up my water glass and add a squirt of Mio Energy to it. I also eat a peanut butter oat protein ball from a batch I prepped over the weekend. Then I spend 20 minutes rolling coins because we have a bunch of loose change and our wrappers were delivered today. So far, we have about $74. A strangely meditative work break.
3:50 p.m. — I need a change of scenery so I rotate to the backyard and eat some roasted seaweed and a brownie. I hope this will give me enough dopamine to finish the work task I’m dreading.
6:10 p.m. — I log off work, change into workout clothes, and try to hype myself to head to the gym, even though it’s raining outside. I make it there, but it’s super crowded. I use the Stairmaster for 15 minutes and then snag a treadmill for 30 minutes. On the way home, I pass CVS and grab some LED lightbulbs, the biggest package of retainer cleaner, and two cans of shaving cream. I’m a CVS coupon queen, so my receipt tells me the total was 52% off. $14.43
8 p.m. — Back at home, we make frozen vegetable gyoza and a cabbage and tofu salad for dinner. I picked up the dumplings up at Hmart last week while trying to kill time in the East Village.
9 p.m. — I shower, brush my teeth, and do my skincare, and then I set out my workout clothes and regular clothes for tomorrow. I’ve been doing this since I was a child, and I don’t even know where I got it from, but it’s a huge morning time-saver. I make some Tension Tamer tea and curl up with the book I’ve been reading, Delia Cai’s Central Places, in the reading nook in our office.
10:15 p.m. — I get into bed with the book and fall asleep shortly thereafter.

Daily Total: $41.68

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, make the bed, and get ready. J. and I take a 40-minute walk, then he convinces me to stop and get croissants at our favorite bakery. He pays since it was his idea. Back at home, I feed the backyard cats, stretch, make an iced matcha, and cut up a peach. I start work at 9:30 a.m.
12:05 p.m. — Breaking for lunch. I make some chaotic quesadillas with refried beans, avocado, salsa, and hash browns. They are super yummy. While eating lunch I get a notification that I am being considered for an indoor air quality study I applied for through a Brooklyn environmental group newsletter I get. If accepted, it’ll be $500 in payment, which is cool.
2:15 p.m. — I need a break from work, and I also need to grab a bottle of wine for the alumni event I’m going to this evening. It’s on a rooftop, but alcohol is not provided. I go with Gulp Hablo’s orange wine because I know it’s a crowd pleaser. When I get home, I add some Mio Energy to my water for that afternoon boost. $19
5 p.m. — Logging off work earlier than normal to get ready and make it to my alumni event. They recently raised the subway fare, so it’s $2.90 per ride, but I have transit money taken out of my paycheck pre-tax, so any rides come from that existing pool of money.
6:20 p.m. — I meet two friends downstairs before we go up to the rooftop, where I spend two hours conversing and trying not to drink too much since I haven’t eaten. I was worried it would feel like a high school reunion, but it’s actually less cringe than expected.
8:20 p.m. — I didn’t plan to buy food out tonight, but I also thought the event would have more food. A group of us head to Tacombi, where I order an avocado tostada and some rice and beans. It’s not lost on me that this is very similar to what I had for lunch, but it was one of the few food places open nearby. $13.75
9:20 p.m. — I head home on the train. When I get home, I immediately get ready for bed and crawl in with my book. I read till around 11, then lights out.
Daily Total: $32.75

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and do everything I did yesterday. J. picks up our laundry — we do wash and fold, which I consider a luxury that’s worth it. He Venmo requests me for half the laundry. Every week, he drops off and picks up the laundry, and I put it away. When we moved in together, I had a lot of paranoia about the division of household labor, but I think that by setting clear expectations, we've been able to make things very fair. $25
8:30 a.m. — For breakfast, it’s an iced matcha and a potato and egg bowl, but no tomato because we’ve run out. Ketchup works as a sad sub. Work starts at 9:30 a.m.
11:40 a.m. — My body is screaming for lunch, but my work is a bit crazy today. Two PB protein balls and a pear will do for now.
2 p.m. — Some meetings were canceled so now I’m eating a proper lunch. Make some veggie gyoza again. Yum.
3:30 p.m. — Snack time, again. I have another PB protein ball, some Thai-flavored cashews, and some sharp white cheddar cut straight from the block. I have 10 more minutes until my next meeting, and we have some black beans that have been soaking on the counter, so I decide to chop garlic and half a red onion to start cooking the beans. Halfway through prepping, I realize I got a chat asking me to join the meeting earlier and quickly get the beans started on the stove.
6 p.m. — I want to turn the beans into a proper soup, so I add more broth, plus cilantro, roasted corn, frozen carrots, jarred salsa, and some additional seasoning. Soon enough, J. is home from the office, and I blend some of the soup up — love a creamy soup! We have it with Greek yogurt, cilantro, and avocado on top, and it hits the spot.
7:30 p.m. — I meet up with one of my friends in the neighborhood, Z., and we walk to a barre class we booked on ClassPass. Running errands and doing workout classes are some of my favorite ways to spend time with friends because they feel so low stakes, yet intimate.
8:45 p.m. — Class ends and we walk back toward my place. I previously told her I’d give her a cutting from my pothos plant and let her borrow a book, so she’s going to grab those things from me. We have been in a book club together for over four years, so we often talk about and trade books.
9:30 p.m. — I have a craving for sweets, so I eat one of the aforementioned brownies. Then I shower, do my skincare, and get into bed. I’m determined to finish Central Places tonight, but my eyes start closing 10 pages from the end of the book. Typical.
Daily Total: $25

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for the gym. Today it’s arms, shoulders, and back. I also end the session with 10 minutes on the Stairmaster. That thing gets my heart rate up like no other.
8:45 a.m. — I notice a new coffee shop on the way home, so of course I have to stop in. It’s one of those flower shop-coffee shop hybrids that have been popping up everywhere. Do people actually buy flowers from these places? A cappuccino with oat milk is $5.50 with tip, which is less than other spots nearby. $5.50
12 p.m. — Work is heinous today, so I have two protein balls and an apple for lunch. I don’t want to believe in retrogrades, but I’ve definitely been feeling this one in a big way.
3:30 p.m. — My last meeting of the day is over, so I finally sit down to eat a cabbage salad with tofu. My “dessert” is a bowl of cereal. I also shower after eating because I never showered after the gym, and I just need a break from the stress of today.
6 p.m. — I log off work and put on some acceptable clothes. J. and I had originally planned a museum date tonight, but the weather is perfect, start-of-fall kinda stuff so, instead, we decide to take the train to Little Island on the west side of Manhattan and catch a raging sunset. As we’re walking out the door, we run into our neighbor, and she gives us two containers of pesto and two yogurt dips from her work.
7:45 p.m. — After the sunset, we head next door to Pier 57, where a new food hall just opened. He gets biryani and I get an overpriced sandwich ($22.23) that sounds very fresh, with basil aioli and lots of arugula. We eat them on the rooftop of the building, which is expansive with twinkling views of One World Trade. Very few people are here — guess it hasn’t blown up on TikTok yet. $22.23
8:30 p.m. — Neither of us are ready to go home yet, so we decide to play this game where we walk in the direction of whichever crosswalk is on until we find somewhere for a drink. We wind through Meatpacking and over to the West Village, where we decide on a cozy Italian wine bar with a backyard. We split a carafe of a light red wine, which is actually very well priced at $24 before tip. I pay but he Venmos me back for half. $17.70
10 p.m. — Subway home. I do all my skincare as fast as possible because I’m exhausted after everything today. When J. sees me, he says I’m in slug mode because I seal all my skincare in with Aquaphor, and I’ve previously told him this is called slugging.
Daily Total: $45.43

Day Five

7 a.m. — I’m going to a yoga class this morning, so I woke up earlier to give myself time to get ready, drink some water, and have a protein ball. I walk there.
9 a.m. — Class ends. I always go to this studio when I want a challenge, and today’s instructor delivered. My yoga, barre, and Pilates workouts are often harder than my lifting days. I walk home and have my sandwich leftovers from last night for breakfast, along with an iced matcha latte. Work begins at 9:30 a.m., as per usual.
11 a.m. — I go to work at a local coffee shop because I haven’t had caffeine yet, and I really need to crank some work out. This place has one of the best cappuccinos in the city, but it’s so unassuming. We love that. $6.25
1:30 p.m. — I head home, and eat cabbage salad with tofu for lunch. It’s that point in the week where I’m tired of this salad, but it just needs to be eaten.
5 p.m. — I wrap up my work early since it’s Friday, and I have plans across Brooklyn. I don’t want to spend too much money out tonight, so I have leftover black bean soup and a piece of toast with jam for dessert.
6 p.m. — J. and I have been trying to get tickets to a new musical and they finally pop up in my Theatre Development Fund (TDF) portal. TDF is a membership I paid $42 for at the beginning of the year and it gets me discounted tickets to all things theatre, dance, opera, ballet, jazz, and more in the city. Two tickets are $122 with fees — they’d be over $200 elsewhere. I pay, and J. venmos for his ticket. $61
6:30 p.m. — I take the train over to Barclays Center to meet up with my friend, G., who has kindly invited me to a NY Liberty game. She got seats for free, and I’ve never been to Barclays Center or a WNBA game before, so it’s all pretty exciting to me.
7:30 p.m. — The game begins. Malala (yes, THAT Malala) randomly shows up. We each get a High Noon ($13.74) and an order of fries ($6.37). The NY Liberty win. All in all, it’s a good time, even though I’m not much of a sports girlie at all. $20.11
9:30 p.m. — I take the train back home, shower, and get in bed. I actually finish Central Places this time. It feels good to be going to sleep so early on a Friday.
Daily Total: $87.36

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — J. and I sleep in. I got almost 11 hours of sleep and I’m feeling like I could climb Everest. I’m someone who naturally needs a lot of sleep, but modern life isn’t conducive to that, so I crave the days when I can just let my body sleep as much as it wants. I get ready, feed the backyard cats, and make us fried eggs, toast, and pear slices for breakfast. J. has a coffee, and I have a matcha.
10:30 a.m. — I’m determined to use this day, which is completely void of plans, to get some household things done, so I write down a list. I’m addicted to the feeling of checking things off. I start off with cleaning the apartment, pruning the plants, and calling my parents while J. drops off the compost and goes to the hardware store. When he’s back, we change out the bed linens together, then head out on our bikes to deposit the rolled coins at the bank before it closes. The ride to the bank is down a main thoroughfare with no bike lane, which is terrifying. This year, one of my main goals was to overcome my fear of urban biking, and while I’ve come a long way, some things will never get less scary.
2 p.m. — After going to the bank, we swing by our local bulk goods shop to fill up on a bunch of basics. We bring our own jars along, so we’re just paying by the ounce for the products themselves. For $77.20, we get dry chickpeas, dry black beans, dry cannellini beans, red lentils, green lentils, brown rice, penne pasta, cane sugar, nutritional yeast, peppercorns, garlic powder, ground cumin, everything bagel seasoning, ground cinnamon, granola, and some toasted sesame stick snack things. It’s so much less than it would be at a supermarket, plus it’s less wasteful and higher quality. Now that we’re stocked up, we’ll probably be good on basics for a month or two. J. pays, but I pay him back for half. $38.60
3 p.m. — We bike home. J. is heading off to a wedding that I wasn’t invited to, so I have the house to myself for the evening. I scour the fridge for bits and bobs to make a salad: romaine, red onion, cilantro, chickpeas, and dressing from our neighbor. After eating, I sand and paint the frame of this chalkboard calendar we bought a few weeks ago. It’s already made such a difference for us to both see what’s going on each week.
5 p.m. — I bite the bullet and purchase a book that I’m reading with my friends back in my home state. I do a book club with them in addition to my club in NYC. I’ve been waiting for this book to become available at the library, but I’m still so far back on the list. I’m able to find it used online, despite the fact that it recently came out. $12.02
6 p.m. — Before the sun goes down, I decide to make the 25-minute trek across my neighborhood to my favorite ice cream shop. I get a single scoop of chocolate in a cone and watch the dogs run around the park nearby. It’s an ideal solo Saturday evening in the summer. $5.90
8 p.m. — I’m back home, and for dinner, I have black bean soup leftovers. The wedding is over, so J. texts and tries to convince me to meet him and some friends out. I decline because I’m just looking forward to taking a good everything shower and going to sleep in fresh bed linens.
Daily Total: $56.52

Day Seven

8 a.m. — My body naturally wakes up and I go ahead and get out of bed because I have brunch plans. I get ready and before I leave, I put on some press-on nails that I ordered online from Olive and June. I’ve recently gotten into press-ons because gel is too damaging to my nails and skin, but regular polish barely lasts.
10:15 a.m. — I have to take three trains to the restaurant. Shockingly, the trains are all on time and I get to the place early and get on the waitlist. They tell me it’s a 30-minute wait, so when my friend, K., arrives, we head around the corner to get a coffee. $6
11:10 a.m. — Of course, as soon as I order my iced latte I get a notification that the table is ready. It is what it is. We walk back as I slurp down my latte. Once seated, we split the pancakes and the egg and cheese sandwich. I get another coffee. My half of the check with tip is $25.77. $25.77
12:30 p.m. — I have some time to kill, so I walk with K. to her apartment. We hang out for a bit in her place and then I have to catch the train to meet my friends uptown at Nordstrom.
2:30 p.m. — Everyone has finally arrived. Weeks ago, the four of us decided to style each other, so I used a random assigner web app to choose who would style who. We decide that we’ll have an hour to choose our outfits, and the only requirements are that you have to choose one outfit in the person’s comfort zone and one out of their comfort zone.
4 p.m. — We reconvene at the dressing room for a fashion show. I’ll admit that I went a little overboard for the person I was assigned, but I’ve always loved styling other people. I’d recommend this activity for other friend groups because it helps you to see yourself in a new light and also forces you to step into your friends’ shoes (quite literally). Nothing fits 100% right for me, so I’m not enticed to purchase.
5 p.m. — We head to a nearby cafe so one of my friends can get a snack and another can bring us up to date on some recent dating drama. I don’t eat or drink anything because a voice in the back of my head is saying, “You have food at home.” We bid our farewells and I take the train home.
6:30 p.m. — I need to recharge, so I shower then have some leftover soup and salad. J. and I have barely spoken this weekend, so we take a walk to the waterfront then I go to the local supermarket to grab some groceries for this week. We’re getting our CSA on Tuesday, so I don’t get much fresh stuff. I kinda go crazy with the snacks, but I started my period today and we don’t have many snacks around the apartment right now. Altogether, it’s $71.48, which covers blackberries, two bell peppers, two yogurt drinks, a block of sharp cheddar, English muffins, frozen edamame, marinated snacking beans, some Annie’s mac and cheese, a bag of pretzel crisps, protein waffle mix, eggs, and a pack of mini Cokes. J. pays me back for half. These items will probably last us for two weeks. $35.74
8 p.m. — I prep hard-boiled eggs, apple slices, and bell pepper slices for snacking during the week. J. is doing some work in the front room and I join him because I need to do some volunteer work for the mutual aid group I work with.
10:30 p.m. — I put away my computer, do my skincare, and set out my clothes for tomorrow. Then, it’s bedtime with a new book, Big Swiss by Jen Beagin, which I borrowed from the library.
Daily Total: $67.51
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