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A Week In New York, NY, On A $70,000 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 consultant who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Fenty's Cookie N Clean Face Mask.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Tech
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $70,000
Net Worth: -$59,974 (savings: $2,500, and checking: $987, minus debt)
Debt: $61,487 (includes graduate student loans, my car payment, and credit card debt)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,226
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (I live with my parents in a three-story home and give this to them monthly)
Debt Payments: $1,500-$2,000 across loans/debt (I'm aggressively paying off my debt)
Utilities: $200
Gym: $35
Cable/Phone/Internet: $65 (my sister and I split this)
HYSA: $250-$500
Car Insurance: $328 (car insurance is so high in New York)
Subscriptions: $30 (includes Apple Music, Google Photos Storage, Apple TV)

Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $75 (I’m on a student plan)
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?
Absolutely. I was told from a young age that college is the only option. My parents are Caribbean immigrants and came to New York in the '80s. We had a lot of financial ups and downs, so my parents wanted me to go to college for a better and stable future. For undergrad, I went to a community college and then a local public college, both of which were paid for by grants and financial aid. I went to a private university for grad school and had to take out $45,000 in loans to pay for it. I graduated during the pandemic so thankfully payments are on pause and with the new forgiveness plan, I should get $20,000 forgiven.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Honestly, I didn't have conversations about money with my family or friends. Back then, it was taboo to talk about money, but I was always aware when things changed financially based on how much allowance I was given. I taught myself about finance through YouTube, Google, and reading finance books.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at my community college doing clerical work for the English department. Obtaining a work-study job was extremely difficult because there were so many applicants. I was lucky to know somebody in the department who helped me get the job.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. My parents were able to provide for me and my siblings, granted we didn't ask for much, but we always got what we wanted. However, things changed when I started college because my parents lost some of their sources of income.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes! I have a lot of debt and it holds me back from things I really want to do such as investing in a retirement fund and getting my own apartment. I constantly worry about future expenses and wonder what I will do in case of an emergency. Between all of that, along with inflation, layoffs, and the upcoming recession, managing my money properly is all I think about lately.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents stopped funding my lifestyle around age 20. I got my first car at this age and started working retail jobs. My financial safety net is just my savings account right now.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
None at all. My parents migrated from a poor country and I am a first-generation citizen. My parents didn't have assets until coming here to America.

Day One

9 a.m. — Today is Sunday so I have a pretty late and slow start to the day. I browse TikTok and YouTube for about an hour and then shower and brush my teeth.
2 p.m. — I have a date tonight so it's time to get ready. I put on KISS press-on nails and some makeup, straighten my hair, and put on a crop top and straight-leg jeans from Zara. I'm out the door by 4:30. I'm hungry and need something to hold me over until our dinner reservation so I pop into McDonald's for a small fry. $2.38
6:30 p.m. — Parking is free in New York on Sundays so that's one less thing to worry about today. I meet my boyfriend, K., for dinner at a Haitian restaurant. We're celebrating his promotion at work, so I pay for the dinner. $156.79
9 p.m. — After dinner, I take my boyfriend to Seaport downtown to see the Brooklyn skyline and get ice cream at Mister Dips. It's getting really cold in NY so it's nice to have a few moments outside before we stay mostly inside all winter. $15
10 p.m. — I need gas! I want to spend the next couple of days at my boyfriend's place but I don't have enough gas to make it there. I drive to the nearest station and it is a whopping $6.59 per gallon. That's insane even for New York! I pay $8 at the first gas station just to get over the bridge and once I'm in his neighborhood, I go to another gas station and fill my tank up. $33
Daily Total: $207.17

Day Two

8 a.m. — K. wakes me up right on time for work. I log in and check my emails. After my hour-long team meeting, I step out to get breakfast at Dunkin'. I got a croissant and a green tea drink and I'm shocked that it is over $5. Back in the day, $5 would get you so far at Dunkin'. $6.16
12 p.m. — My boyfriend buys me lunch which we get delivered.

6 p.m. — My boyfriend takes me to dinner at a sushi restaurant. I'm newly obsessed with chicken teriyaki rolls and get them every time I'm in his neighborhood!

9 p.m. — We spend the rest of the evening watching The Watcher when suddenly, I'm craving something sweet. He lives near an Insomnia Cookies so I stop what I'm doing and drive there. I've never been here so I try five different cookies. To be honest, they are just okay, but they do satisfy my cravings. $12.80
1 a.m. — We stay up too late watching The Watcher and finally go to bed around 1.

Daily Total: $18.96

Day Three

9 a.m. — I begrudgingly get out of bed and put myself together. I spend some time on the couch doing work, answering emails, and talking to my teammates.
1:30 p.m. — I finally take a break to eat. There aren't many restaurants in this particular neighborhood so I go with good ol' faithful McDonald's. My go-to is a chicken sandwich with fries and a strawberry banana smoothie. I quickly chug that down before my next stop. $9.15
2:30 p.m. — I want to cook dinner tonight so I go to Trader Joe's and our local chain grocery store to buy groceries and seasonings. I'm making pan-seared salmon with basmati rice and a homemade special sauce. I also pick up some stuff to bring home because my local TJ's doesn't have them (e.g. sweet chili sauce). I swipe my cashback credit card and I'm very shocked to see my grocery bill — things are so much more expensive now. $91.48
6 p.m. — I make dinner for K. and myself and it's delicious!

10 p.m. — It's time to head home. I say bye to K. and start my drive. I have to take three bridges to get home, which means paying three tolls. I get home safely and find a parking spot in front of my house! $20

Daily Total: $120.63

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up way earlier than usual today because I have a lot of personal and work tasks to attend to. I scurry to complete a risk assessment for a client so I can send it to my manager for his review. Afterward, I get ready for the day. I have a lot to do today and I want to be as comfortable as possible. I put on my sneakers and a baggy sweatshirt and pants to head out.
11:30 a.m. — I HATE the MTA. Even though it's the cheapest way to get around the five boroughs, I avoid it because it's rowdy, smelly, and tight. I opt to take the LIRR into the city and I get there in 30 minutes. I get off at Penn Station and walk a block over to the B&H Photo Store to return a vlogging camera and also sell an old lens that is collecting dust. In total, I receive a return of $1,400! $9.75
1 p.m. — I'm getting hungry so I decide to go to Sweetgreen for the first time. I get the crispy rice bowl, a side of sweet potatoes, and a soda. I quickly walk back to the train station to catch the train and realize I left my soda on the counter. I'm so annoyed with myself especially since I never drink soda and only purchased it in the spirit of trying new things. $23.24
2 p.m. — I quickly use the LIRR app to purchase an off-peak ticket home. Expensive, but it's so much better than taking the subway. $9.75

3 p.m. — I get home and join a meeting. I don't have much to say so I leave my mic and camera off and eat my lunch. Honestly, it isn't tasty. I rate it a 4/10 (sorry Sweetgreen lovers).

8 p.m. — I shut my laptop and realize I have a raging headache. I do my skin care and head into bed while browsing the Zara app. Zara coats are so up my alley and I'm tempted to purchase but decide against it... at least for tonight.

Daily Total: $42.74

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Starting my day early again. There's just so much work coming in from my clients and sometimes they can be demanding. I sit at my desk until 12:30 working and taking meetings. Then I get up and get ready for the day.
1 p.m. — I wanted to return some things to Zara yesterday but didn't have time, so I go to the mall to grab lunch and do the return. I get $149 back (yay) and have a buffalo chicken sandwich for lunch. $9.71
2:30 p.m. — I had no idea this mall had a Sephora (it must be new) so, of course, I pop in to grab some must-haves. Beauty items are my guilty pleasure! I purchase Fenty Beauty Cookies N Clean face mask. I also get a travel-sized Kay Ali Vanilla perfume and a new Beauty Blender. $83.89
3 p.m. — I head into Walgreens to buy a pack of Glucerna for my dad. He is diabetic and loves this shake. I also grab my favorite chips ever, Popcorners White Cheddar. $17.28
3:30 p.m. — I'm back home and back to work. My head starts to hurt again so I talk to my boyfriend for a little bit before making my Friday to-do list and ending the work day.
8 p.m. — I have dinner at home and go to bed early.

Daily Total: $110.88

Day Six

7 a.m. — It's Friday! I have so much work to do, ugh. Before brushing my teeth and eating my breakfast, I send in two projects to my manager for his review.
11:30 a.m. — I go to physical therapy every Friday for my lower back. I have a back injury two years ago from an accident and had two surgeries for it. Thankfully I'm okay now, but I still go to physical therapy. Therapy is paid for by my car insurance since my case is still open.
12:30 p.m. — I'm craving Chinese food today so I go to my local Chinese food restaurant and order beef and broccoli with white rice and a water bottle. I haven't had this meal in years. $8.75
1 p.m. — I get back home just in time for a meeting with a client. The meeting runs for about 90 minutes and by the end of it, I'm so drained. Consulting is no joke!
3:30 p.m. — After a much-needed break, I get back to work. Usually, I end work early on Fridays, but I can't this week because I have so much to do. I type away for the next couple of hours until I can't anymore.
6 p.m. — I finally sign off. I originally had plans with my friend, but thankfully she cancels. I would have loved to see her, but I am so exhausted.
8 p.m. — I grab a fruit bar from the freezer and hop into bed. I catch up on my favorite YouTubers before dozing off. I'm really a homebody at heart.
Daily Total: $8.75

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I sleep in so late today and I have no regrets! I feel amazing. I get dressed and ready to go grocery shopping for the following week. I have no list today; I'm just picking up my main essentials.
12 p.m. — I arrive at Trader Joe's and get my must-haves — almond milk, fruit, rice, meats, ice cream, and bread. Trader Joe's has the BEST butter brioche bread. My grocery bill is once again higher than anticipated. Inflation is kicking my butt. I pay using my credit card for cash back. $72.79
1 p.m. — I call my friend to catch up while in the line for Chick-fil-A. I order a chicken sandwich deluxe with no cheese, medium fries, and a Sunjoy. This is my go-to here and it puts me in a better mood. $11.92
2 p.m. — I get home and put away my groceries. I start to clean up a little bit, but get distracted because my parents needed help with their smartphones.
4 p.m. — I start getting ready for the night. My cousin is coming over and then we're going to see a concerto at Carnegie Hall. I'm so excited because this is my first time and Sheku Kanneh-Mason will be performing! I put on some makeup, curl my hair, and I'm out the door by 6!

7:15 p.m. — Traffic is insane but thankfully parking is free after 7 on Saturdays and we find a spot right on Broadway. We walk one block over to enter the show.

10 p.m. — The show is amazing! There were so many talented musicians — I will never get over it. We're hungry after the show so we stop at McDonald's for fries. $4.07

Daily Total: $88.78
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