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A Week In New York, NY, On A $90,000 Salary

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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 content writer who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a tea kettle.
Occupation: Content Writer
Industry: Software
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $90,000
Net Worth: $163,254.37 (checking: $613.08, brokerage: $18,478.78, inherited brokerage: $97,864.26, Roth IRA: $23,751.23, UTMA account: $17,227.58, 401(k): $5,319.44).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,017.32
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,662.50 (I live with one roommate in a walk-up with no amenities. We split every expense evenly. I realize this is an insane amount to pay but our rent was raised from $1,450 each and we figured we would eat the $2,400 yearly increase because moving in NYC is so expensive. Also, we love our neighborhood and the apartment is a very comfortable size).
Health Insurance: $51.93
Dental Insurance: $21.92
Vision Insurance: $5.31
401(k): $519.23
Wi-Fi: $35
Utilities: Depends on the season but last month I paid $38.63. We don't have central A/C and our window units can get expensive.
Phone: $0 (I'm on my family's plan. My dad has threatened to kick us off multiple times but still no action).
Roth IRA: $500 (I've been bad about contributing this year but I always max out at the end).
Emergency Brokerage Account: $200 (I'm committed to building up my emergency savings fund again because I had to tap into it when I got laid off).
Gym: $62.69
Spotify: $9.99
Billie Razor Subscription: $5.44
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Patreon: $10
New York Times: $4.08
Renters' Insurance: $10.41

Annual Expenses
Delta American Express Card: $100
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?
Without question! My parents both have advanced degrees so there was no debate about whether or not I would go to college. I graduated from a state school with a BA. My parents made an agreement with my siblings and me that if we chose to attend graduate school, it would have to be in-state. In my case, they would have paid for a private (or out-of-state) graduate school because my tuition was so low. I am exceptionally privileged that my parents paid for my college tuition, room and board, plus a monthly allowance. I graduated without debt, which is a blessing.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My dad is fanatical about personal finance. He always discussed money and spending habits as I grew up. Both of my parents are committed to spending on education and travel rather than material items. I grew up upper-middle class but had a lot of friends with more visible wealth. I've also taught myself a lot about finances by listening to podcasts and reading about personal finance.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a sleepaway camp counselor for two months the summer before I started college. I wanted to work there because my sister had done the same thing when she was 18. The pay was low (about $1,500 for the whole summer) because room and board was free. It was a ton of fun because I worked with a lot of my camp friends. Plus, everybody hooks up with each other.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Never. I grew up very comfortably. My family was able to take multiple vacations per year and I never really had to think about what I spent (within reason). I attended private school through eighth grade. I definitely envied friends with pools, bigger homes and nicer clothes than me but I think that's a pretty natural feeling.
Do you worry about money now?
Not in the immediate sense! I lost my job during the mass tech layoffs but I had a very handsome emergency savings fund from living at home for two years. Dipping into it was scary but I reminded myself that that was its purpose. I also walked dogs on Rover during this time for pocket money. Luckily, I found a new job pretty quickly. Because I'm single and without children, I only have to spend money on my own wants/needs. I am privileged enough to have a safety net in my parents if things got really bad. That being said, I am very conscious and intentional about what I spend (most of the time). I worry more about the effects of climate change and bad politics. I suppose money won't matter when we're all underwater.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I think as soon as I moved out of my parents' house to New York City, I became responsible for myself. I was 24 at the time. I didn't pay for rent, groceries or gas when I lived at home. Now, I pay for everything myself, except my phone plan. I have a financial safety net in the form of my emergency savings account. Plus, if I was really struggling, I know my parents would help me. They would prefer that I turn to them before draining my retirement savings. Of course, I would pay them back in that case.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My uncle died about four years ago and left his entire estate to my siblings and me. We inherited about $70,000 each. My dad placed all of it into a target retirement fund and it's grown by about $28,000. Also, my parents placed all of the money I received from my bat mitzvah into a UTMA account. That's now worth about $17,000. I classify this as “passive” because I didn't have to do anything for it except memorize my Haftarah portion.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and immediately feel groggy, probably because I smoked a lot last night. I get out of bed to pee and scroll on Instagram for a while. This never makes me feel good! Weird how that works. I fall back asleep.
12:30 p.m. — I wake up for real this time. I make a parfait with Greek yogurt, chocolate granola and raspberries. I also drizzle honey on top. I make coffee using my French press. I finish Goodfellas, which I started last night, and read a little bit more of The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead.
1 p.m. — I run down to the bodega to get cash because today is laundry day. I withdraw $10 and resist the urge to buy an iced coffee.
1:15 p.m. — Laundry time! There's nothing like dragging 20 pounds of dirty clothes up and down five flights of stairs. My ass has never been perkier. I pay $5.50 for the washer. I could do wash and fold but it's prohibitively expensive. Plus, the laundromat is exercise and makes me feel like a New Yorker. I leave while the cycle runs. $5.50
1:25 p.m. — I remember that I have a sparkling water in my tote bag. I knew I would want a fun drink in between cycles! I sip on this (Spindrift pineapple) as I walk to Target to get toothpaste. $4.99
1:50 p.m. — I switch my clothes to the drier and take out the things that can't go in. I pay $3 for an hour-long cycle. I snack on some crackers while I wait. $3
2:45 p.m. — I get my laundry and take it home. Then I put on a podcast and fold and put away all of my clothes.
6 p.m. — I leave home to go on an evening walk. It lasts about 30 minutes and I see some great dogs, including one with a beard.
6:30 p.m. — I cook dinner. Tonight I'm having rice, kimchi, a fried egg and some veggies. I settle in to watch Citizen Kane.
10 p.m. — I finally finish The Colossus of New York. Lights out!
Daily Total: $13.49

Day Two

7:40 a.m. — I wake up, chug water, check my phone and then get out of bed. I always make my bed. I brush my teeth, put in contacts and make coffee. I also do my skincare. I'm diligent about this because I can't afford Botox yet. I listen to the BBC Global News podcast as I get ready.
8 a.m. — I log into work, check my email and submit an expense report from a business trip last week. My week looks pretty light because I just wrapped up a few projects. I am 100% remote. I appreciate that my boss cares more about my actual work than my Teams signal being active all the time.
8:30 a.m. — I leave to return my library book, pick up dry cleaning (I paid at drop-off) and take out the trash. I give $2 to a man asking for money outside the library. $2
12:30 p.m. — I make a yogurt bowl and jump into a meeting. I leave the meeting with a lot to edit. One of our VPs sends out an optional assignment. Raises and promotion season is coming up in eight weeks so I choose to complete the task. My work is interrupted by my super, who's come to fix our drain. He doesn't know how much of a godsend this is to me. Once I reach a good stopping point, I prep lunch (tofu and corn salad) and head out for a short walk.
1 p.m. — I eat lunch and watch Succession while editing.
5 p.m. — I finish up work and head off to the gym for my favorite class, cardio sculpt. On my way home, I give $2 to someone else. I get home to shower and make dinner (pasta with cauliflower). I'm running pretty low on groceries but I think I can make it work until Wednesday. I see a pair of sandals I really want online for $130. I struggle with impulsive shopping but I'm getting better. I don't buy them because rent is due on Friday and that's going to take a good chunk of my paycheck. $2
7 p.m. — My guy friend, J., asks if I want to get oysters and drinks. I don't really drink or eat out on weeknights so I suggest Friday instead.
10:30 p.m. — I brush my teeth and apply tretinoin and moisturizer. I also create my grocery list for the week in the Notes app.
Daily Total: $4

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up later than usual so I rush to make my bed and change into workout clothes. I brush my teeth and put in contacts. I log in, check emails and bring my laptop into the living room with my yoga mat. I start a 30-minute Pilates video. Ugh, my boss requests something due Thursday.
9 a.m. — I finish my workout as I work. I shower, change into jeans and sit down at my desk. I ask my manager if he can meet later today. I also make the same yogurt bowl again. There's a giant zit brewing on my jawline, which means my period is imminent. Ugh.
11:15 a.m. — Quick break to have a snack (buttered sourdough toast with sliced tomatoes). I may need to move the grocery run up to tonight because I have no more fresh produce.
12 p.m. — I brush my teeth and fly down the stairs to catch a train because I have a dentist appointment (for my cracked filling) in 30 minutes. I make it with two minutes to spare. $2.75
12:25 p.m. — I got to the dentist early and she was able to see me right away. I have a fractured tooth so she files it down. My dental insurance covers 100% of emergency visits and she's classified the appointment as such. I walk the 25 blocks home, stopping at a great bakery for a slice of carrot cake and iced coffee with almond milk. I tip 20%. $15.06
1:30 p.m. — I get back to work as soon as I'm home. I have a lot to finish if I want to get groceries.
5:30 p.m. — I submit my work and immediately have to sign on to my tutoring session. I volunteer with an organization that provides free virtual tutoring and college counseling.
6 p.m. — Tutoring ends early because it's so late in the semester. I take the train to the grocery store. I could walk but I'm tired. It's $2.75. I buy hummus, lettuce, yogurt, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, potato chips, marinara sauce, cornstarch, cucumbers, wild-caught shrimp and salmon, avocados, garlic, hummus cheese, pasta and lemons for a total of $74.94. I forget corn and granola; I'll go to Whole Foods tomorrow. I train home (another $2.75) with three Baggu totes full of groceries. $80.44
8:15 p.m. — I make a quick dinner (pasta with cauliflower and sweet potato) and watch The West Wing.
11 p.m. — I read The Years by Annie Ernaux, trying to ignore my obnoxious neighbors, before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $98.25

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — I wake up and scroll through my phone. I know this is a controversial habit but it's hard to break. I get up, make my bed and put in contacts. I start making coffee.
8 a.m. — Log into work. I got a lot done yesterday so I think today should be chiller. I text my friend, S., to see if she still wants to hang out in the park later.
10 a.m. — I spoke too soon! During my 10 a.m. meeting my boss tags me for a project, so I now have 20 minutes to make and eat breakfast. I make toast, fried egg and sliced tomato. My coworker tells me that I always seem calm and unflappable. That gives me a little boost.
11 a.m. — I leave for Whole Foods and buy smoked paprika, oregano, granola and canned corn. My total is $15.36. My sister FaceTimes me from Goodwill because they have a lot of good stuff. We're both obsessed with secondhand clothing. This makes me want to shop but I don't! I get home 15 minutes before my next meeting. $15.36
11:45 a.m. — I pay my credit card statement balance ($160, mostly from purchases above). I do this a few times per week. There are differing views about how often to pay but this works for me. Plus, I keep my personal costs pretty low. I also move $250 into my emergency fund so I don't forget.
12:20 p.m. — My neck hurts, I'm really tired and I'm in a meeting that I don't care about. I make lists when this happens. I also text a friend that I can't make it to her birthday this weekend. My ex RSVP'd yes and I don't need that in my life.
2 p.m. — I make lunch (same pasta as last night) and nosh on salt and vinegar chips as I wait.
5:30 p.m. — I finish work. S. cancels on the park hang so I take a long solo walk and call my dad. He loves hearing about work and mundane stuff. I stop in at a thrift store but don't buy anything. I get home to watch Jeopardy! and make salmon with salad.
8 p.m. — I eat the rest of yesterday's carrot cake and watch The West Wing.
10:30 p.m. — I get into bed and read more. I'm exhausted and fall asleep quickly.
Daily Total: $15.36

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and feel pretty refreshed. I respond to some texts and check the weather. It's icky outside. I get up to make coffee and comb my hair. I brush my teeth, do my skincare and make my bed. I know I'm getting my period because I feel a vague sense of impending doom.
8 a.m. — I log into work and my mom calls almost right away. She does this most mornings on her drive to work. It's very sweet and a nice way to start my day. I quickly vacuum the apartment before my first meeting. I'm compulsively tidy and can't work in a messy space.
9:05 a.m. — My meeting starts but I'm hungry. I turn off my camera to make a yogurt bowl with granola and strawberries.
10 a.m. — I call my insurance company so I know how much I'll have to pay at the ophthalmologist next week. This turns into an hour-long endeavor and I want to cry. The representative is very nice and it's not her fault at all but the process is so complicated for no reason. I finally get a price estimate ($118) and take a Tylenol. I get back to work.
1 p.m. — I get the overwhelming urge to lie on my bed in the fetal position for 25 minutes. I give in. Then I get up and make lunch. While I'm baking tofu, I eat too many chips and spoil my appetite. Also, I realize that I haven't gone outside yet. This is a good opportunity for a quick walk.
2 p.m. — I get back from my walk and feel better. I get more work done and agree with my sister to go on a walk later.
4 p.m. — I'm finally hungry and have a (very late) lunch of tofu and salad.
5 p.m. — I leave to meet my sister in the park. We walk to one of my favorite bakeries. She gets a choux chantilly and I get a slice of cake. She pays (older sisters are amazing) and the total is $14.94.
6:46 p.m. — I get home to watch Jeopardy! and browse on Poshmark.
8:18 p.m. — I end up buying a pair of shorts and a shirt on Poshmark. I've had a busy week and I want more cool summer outfits. $61.94
10:30 p.m. — I get into bed and read more of The Years. My throat itches. I hope it's gone by the time I wake up.
Daily Total: $61.94

Day Six

7:22 a.m. — I wake up and immediately pay rent. My roommate has already Zelled me her share. My throat still hurts so I get up to take a COVID test. It's negative! I think it's allergies.
8 a.m. — I accidentally miss my mom's call but she's left a sweet voicemail. Time for coffee! I put in contacts and make my bed. I log into work and start drafting a webpage that my boss requested (at 9:30 p.m.). I also make a bowl with yogurt, granola and strawberries.
12:45 p.m. — I don't feel well. I text J. that I probably won't make it to happy hour. I don't want to get anyone sick in case it's a cold. I feel lame because I haven't been that social this week but the weather sucks so I'll blame that. I make tortellini with spicy sauce.
2:10 p.m. — I'm going on a long-haul flight in a few weeks and want sheet masks for the plane. My brother is also going and requests a few. I buy six masks, makeup wipes and antibacterial wipes from $45.31
3 p.m. — I get a text from my friend, B. We're supposed to either get coffee or see a movie tomorrow. He asks to meet later in the day, which works for me. Now I'll get to sleep in. I also have plans to see my best friend, K., and her dog so I'm really hoping to feel better.
6:30 p.m. — I take a nap for an hour then I eat my leftover pasta and some crackers. My roommate and I watch the new Brooke Shields docuseries.
10 p.m. — I get into bed but am not tired yet. I watch In Her Shoes and don't fall asleep until 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $45.31

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I wake up with the same sore throat and stuffy nose. Blegh. I get up to make coffee and end up watching Risky Business with my roommate. I also text B. and K. to cancel our plans. Canceling plans usually gives me a rush but I really wanted to have a social weekend so I'm emo.
12 p.m. — I make a quick brunch of avocado toast before getting back into bed.
4 p.m. — Oops. My quick nap turned into a four-hour activity. I reassure myself that I needed the rest.
5 p.m. — I come out to make tea and decide I want to order a tea kettle. We don't have a microwave and are down to one pot, which makes mornings tough. I find a simple one from Bed Bath & Beyond (RIP). $22.99
6 p.m. — My family does a group FaceTime. I make a small salad to use up my groceries.
6:50 p.m. — I order Vietnamese food to get outside for a bit. The walk is short and the weather is disgusting. Still, it feels good to leave the apartment. I choose this place because the pick-up window is outside. I get veggie bun (vermicelli). It's delicious and I needed a hearty meal. The total is $15.28 and I tip 20%. $18.68
9 p.m. — I make tea and veg out on the couch. I resist the urge to text every boy in my phone for entertainment purposes. Women can do anything!
11 p.m. — I pop a few melatonin. I get into bed and read a few chapters of The Years before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $41.67
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