A Week In New York City On A $48,000 Salary & $900 Monthly Allowance

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a dance instructor who makes $48,000 per year (plus receives an additional $900/month from her parents) and spends some of her money this week on Tarte blush.
Occupation: Dance Instructor
Industry: Dance
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $48,000 + $900/month from my parents
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,379
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 for my portion. My boyfriend pays $2,100 for his, since he makes $97,000 before bonuses.
Student Loan Payment: $318
MealPal: $83 (for 12 meals)
Grocery Delivery: $135, including tip. (My boyfriend and I order groceries separately, since he eats "cleaner" than I do.)
Utilities: $40 for my half
Hulu: $11.99 (My boyfriend pays for Netflix and cable.)
Spotify: $9.99
Cleaning Service: $100 for my half
Roth IRA: $400 (I just opened this account this week with a $1,000 birthday gift from my parents, to which I will contribute $400 monthly.)

Day One

5:45 a.m. — Our doorbell is ringing out of control and wakes up both my boyfriend, N., and me. I scheduled a PeaPod delivery with a 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. window, and it's here early! I jump out of bed but struggle to find a robe, while N. crankily tells me to grab the door. After three minutes of unnecessary tension, he gets out of bed and grabs the door himself. He asks me to leave out the groceries that don't need to be refrigerated so all the organizing doesn't make noise and keep him awake, since we live in a studio. I put the cold stuff away and hop back into bed until 6:30.
7 a.m. — N. is awake now, and I finish putting groceries away. I hop in the shower, go through my skincare routine, and toss on leggings with a tank top for work. I also pack N.'s lunch of beef and tomato soup. Then I hard-boil eight eggs from N.'s groceries, since he likes to take two with him to work every day. For myself, I spread crunchy peanut butter on toast and grab a still-green banana for breakfast.
7:30 a.m. — For some reason I really can't find any of my belongings today, so I'm stuck wearing three-quarter length leggings through the cold on my walk to work. I make a mental note to organize my closet to avoid frozen ankles in the future. I browse MealPal for my lunch today and decide on a beef and broccoli dish from a Chinese spot near work for 11:45 pick up.
11:30 a.m. — I run out to grab my meal and am pleased to see it's a hefty portion! MealPal lunches are sometimes skimpy on portion size since they're discounted, but not this place!
12:45 p.m. — I already feel queasy from the beef and broccoli. Something was definitely off with the meat. Before my next class, I run to Duane Reade to pick up Tums and ginger ale to soothe my tummy. I remind myself to never order from this restaurant again. $7.63
5 p.m. — I finish classes and text my friend, D., to cancel our drink plans for tonight. My stomach still feels off. Instead, I ask if she wants to come over and drink some Prosecco I have at home while I sip on tea. She agrees and let's me know she'll be over at 6:30.
5:45 p.m. — I'm home and cleaning up for D.'s arrival. I also text N. to let him know she'll be over, and he says he'll go grab drinks with his coworkers to give us some more girl time.
7 p.m. — When D. gets here, we chat and gossip and then turn on season two of Gossip Girl, our favorite season.
9:30 p.m. — N. gets home and greets D., and she heads out a few minutes after his arrival. He takes a shower while I make myself pasta with Alfredo sauce, steamed spinach, and breaded chicken. I ask N. if he wants some and he says, "No thanks, just ate," from the shower. Of course when he comes out he takes two bites, which ends up being half my chicken. I'm low-key annoyed, but not enough to mention it or make another piece, so I supplement my meal with a scoop of his chickpeas.
11 p.m. — Before bed, I stock up on some beauty supplies: Clinique Beyond Perfecting Foundation, Tarte Dollface Blush, a new blush brush, and a few lipsticks in my usual color, since I like to have three on hand — one for my purse, one for my work bag, and one for home. $124
11:30 p.m. — N. and I also book last-minute holiday travel to see his family. I use 30,000 miles to knock off $300 from the price and pay $450 for the remainder. I hate when N. opts for last-minute travel, but he apologizes and says he'll cover the full hotel cost. Works for me! We head to bed. $450
Daily Total: $581.63

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up later than usual today because I have a dermatology appointment this morning. I have mild eczema — but one area on my palm is being extra stubborn and has only gotten worse with the weather getting colder and dryer. I toss on my usual outfit of leggings and a tank top for class afterwards and head out of the house around 9:30.
10 a.m. — I get to the doctor's office, which is just a short 20-minute walk away from home. It's my first time with this doctor, so I hope it's worth my $50 co-pay. They make me pay upfront and ask if a training PA can sit in during my appointment, but I decline because I'm a little sensitive about my eczema. $50
10:30 a.m. — The doctor gives me a prescription for the same cream I've been using, but in a higher concentration. I use Capsule as my pharmacy, so my prescription pops up in the app. My portion of the cost is $6.16. I schedule to have it delivered tomorrow at work. $6.16
11:30 a.m. — I pick up my MealPal from Mulberry & Vine before heading into work. Today's meal is chicken thigh over rice, broccoli, and a cucumber-tomato salad. The portion looks tiny, but that's what you get for $6 I guess! I walk to work and eat really quickly before starting class.
5 p.m. — Done with work, so I head home. My mom calls me on my walk so we chat about life and I update her about my doctor's appointment. She also struggles with eczema, but she thinks all creams are a scam and that I'm wasting money by going to a doctor. She says she's tried everything in the books and the only thing that's ever worked for her was avoiding irritants like chlorine, salt water, and dish soap. I take her advice with a grain of salt and thank her for her input, but my irritant seems to be sweat, which isn't very avoidable with an active job like mine.
6 p.m. — I clean up before N. gets home. Tonight we're planning our holiday budget as well as our 2019 financial goals, since we want to develop a "future us fund." (We're not officially engaged, but we have a long way to go savings-wise and we might as well start now.) I look through the Mint app to see what's reasonable for me. The app tells me I underspent this month compared to last month, but little does Mint know my holiday shopping hasn't even started yet!
7:30 p.m. — I run to the liquor store two doors down and pick up some tequila to make margaritas, and N. Venmos me for it since he insisted on the cocktails to make our finance chat less of a chore.
8:30 p.m. — N. unpacks some pre-made guacamole he bought from Whole Foods on the way home and I grab chips we have in the pantry. We sit and start mapping out our goals.
10:30 p.m. — For our holiday spending, we agreed on the following: $400 joint gift to his parents, for which I'll contribute $125, and a $120 gift for my parents, which we'll split down the middle. (His parents are a little more gift-oriented than mine are.) N. also says he'll bring some flowers and an assortment of loose-leaf teas for my parents, which he will cover. For our more general 2019 goals, I plan to try and put away $200 a month for future us. He'll try to put away $500. We will each put this money in our own separate bank accounts that do not have joint access. So far, I have about $400 in a "future us" fund, while he has $3,000. My portion is in my checking account, but I transfer it to my high-yield savings for the extra 2%.
12 a.m. — N. has been trying to get me into The Handmaid's Tale, so I try to sit through episode one for the fourth time now, but I really just can't maintain interest. I fall asleep with the TV on.
Daily Total: $56.16

Day Three

4 a.m. — I wake up to this banging/clanking noise our heater makes sometimes. I've been meaning to speak to management about it for weeks now, but I just haven't gotten around to it. I debate taking melatonin but it'll just mess me up, so I browse BuzzFeed until 5:30 when I finally feel my eyes getting tired again.
7 a.m. — I'm awake and exhausted, so I make extra coffee and drink half of a 5-hour Energy. I take a shower and watch Project Runway reruns on Hulu while N. also gets ready to start his day. I pack him his portion of beef tomato soup again and ask if he wants to have dinner in or out tonight. He mentions he wants to go to iPic Theaters at South Street Seaport, which has a full dining experience, so we plan to meet there to see Bohemian Rhapsody. I grab a snack-pack of baked crunchy Cheetos from the pantry for a snack and head to work.
7:45 a.m. — On my walk, I scroll through MealPal to pick my lunch for today. I choose a falafel wrap from a place I've never tried before. I reserve it for 11:45 pick up.
11:30 a.m. — On my way to pick up lunch, I check my bank account to see if my wire transfer to my Vanguard Roth IRA went through yet, but it hasn't. I wonder if it's even worth having a Vanguard account with my income, but I might as well.
12 p.m. — My falafel wrap is surprisingly good, considering it's half cold now! I spend the rest of my break browsing Instagram. I see that my childhood friend moved in with her boyfriend recently and made a really cute post about it. I congratulate her and tell her we need to plan a visit soon. I wrap up my break and get back to work.
6 p.m. — I'm lingering at work even though my day is over because I have some time to kill before meeting my boyfriend at the movies. I hang out with some other instructors and we plan to do a Secret Santa. We all join a group chat on WhatsApp and one person takes the lead and sets up the exchange on a Secret Santa generating website. We put a $40 max on gifts.
8 p.m. — I'm at the movies waiting for my boyfriend but he hasn't texted me since 3 p.m., so I worry he's going to be late. After about 10 minutes past our meeting time, he lets me know he's on his way and asks me to buy tickets so we can reserve seats in the dining area. I'm surprised to see how expensive it is! $16 plus a $14 "VIP fee" to be seated in the dining area per ticket, and we still have to purchase our own food and drinks. I pay $60 for us both (he'll pay me back) and keep N.'s ticket at the booth waiting for him.
8:20 p.m. — N. makes it right as the film is starting. I've already ordered us two cocktails, beef sliders, pizza, and truffle fries, so we cheers with our margaritas and wait for our food, which is actually pretty good! Exceeds my expectations. When the movie is over, N. picks up the bill for our food and Venmos me for the movie tickets. We walk around the Seaport for a little and head home.
11 p.m. — N. has a sweet tooth and asks me if I want anything from Insomnia Cookies. I'm ready to go to bed so I decline, but he orders for himself and stays up watching The Handmaid's Tale.
1:30 a.m. — Our doorbell won't stop ringing! Turns out the cookies never made it and are just NOW getting delivered. My boyfriend already received a refund from Seamless but he takes the cookies anyway and tips the delivery guy in cash. He puts the cookies in the fridge and comes back to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7 a.m. — I'm so relieved it's Thursday. I go through my usual morning routine and use my new eczema cream. I pack my boyfriend's lunch but we're out of his soup, so I instead boil him two eggs while he gets ready and make him a salad with grilled chicken from his groceries. I slab some crunchy peanut butter on toast and eat as I get ready.
7:30 a.m. — I chat on the phone with my dad on my walk to work. He updates me on his upcoming vacations and asks if I want to join him for a trip to Arizona in the new year. I decline because I can't take more time off work, but thank him for the invite. Today's MealPal is a buffalo chicken wrap from Just Salad at my usual 11:45 pick up time.
11:30 a.m. — Heading out to grab lunch! I also do my usual notification checking – looks like my Vanguard transfer of $400 went through. I make a mental note to hop on the website later to actually buy into a retirement fund. Heads up to anyone who's opening an account with Vanguard for the first time: unless you actively BUY funds, the money is in a "settlement fund," which is essentially a savings account and NOT in the market. My friend spent three years contributing only to realize none of her money was actually invested, so bless her heart for giving me a heads up!
5:30 p.m. — Done with classes for the day, and honestly, I'm ready for a nap. I go straight home and to sleep.
7 p.m. — N. unintentionally wakes me up when he comes home. I ask him if he wants to go see the tree and the holiday store displays tonight, and he's up for it. We search OpenTable to find a restaurant in the area and choose Bann, a Korean BBQ spot, even though it's farther west than expected. I offer to treat him to dinner tonight since this isn't his first choice but is one of my favorites.
8 p.m. — The Saks display this year is STUNNING as usual, but I think I liked last year's more with Snow White. I love the holiday season. It's so easy to only see NYC as concrete on concrete on concrete, but these displays are so so cheerful and a nice break from the every day. And Bann is a GREAT choice. We order steamed chicken buns, scallion pancakes, beef, short rib stew, and crispy chicken wings to share. Plus a couple drinks. N. offers to pay, but I don't let him. He says his bourbon drinks upped the bill a lot, though, and that he insisted on getting so many things for us to try, so we end up splitting it down the middle. We go home and head straight to bed. $77.50
Daily Total: $77.50

Day Five

10 a.m. — I don't teach morning classes on Fridays, so I sleep in until 9:30. Then I take a bath with Lush bath bombs that were gifted to me a couple months ago and I set my laptop up on the toilet seat so I can finish my Project Runway season while in the tub.
12 p.m. — No MealPal for me today. I make an egg scramble with grilled chicken, spinach, and pepper jack cheese in a wrap. I also grab a cherry lime Ice drink from the fridge and browse @fomofeed on Instagram to see if there's anything cool happening this weekend. I make a note to touch base with some friends who I've unfortunately kind of lost touch with since moving in with my boyfriend. I really need to nourish my friendships, even if it means spending less time with N.
2 p.m. — On my way to my afternoon class, I browse Spotify for a new podcast. I finished all my favorites, so I try My Favorite Murder, but I don't like it. My go-to was Planet Money and I also like The Daily, but I wish it wasn't ALWAYS centered on politics. There are many other American issues besides Mueller and Trump.
6 p.m. — Done with work! N. left work early today, so I find him when I get home. He told management about the noise from the heating pipes, and they are bringing in maintenance to look at it tomorrow between 10 and and noon. I run some laundry and tell N. I want to do something new and fun tonight, since my day-to-day has been feeling stale. We plan to have one of those drunken college nights, and he runs out to grab some vodka for shots. We bought tickets online for a DJ at Marquee and note we have to get there before midnight to avoid an absurd cover fee. We each pay for our own tickets. $30
8 p.m. — We start pregaming to get a buzz and get dressed for a night out. I get to wear a dress I haven't worn in ages, which I'm very excited about. I do my makeup, too. Four drinks later, I think I'm good to go!
9:30 p.m. — We go to a bar down the block and invite some friends to join. One other couple comes and we have some drinks before heading to Marquee around 11:15. I pick up the tab for M. and me. $42
1:30 a.m. — I remember why I hate Marquee! It's SO packed and hot and sticky. We end up leaving before the headliner DJ even comes on and instead head to get dinner at L'Express, a 24-hour restaurant that serves amazing mac and cheese after midnight. We finish up around 4 a.m. and the boys split the bill. We head home with happy tummies, ready for bed.
Daily Total: $72

Day Six

10 a.m. — Maintenance wakes us up at 10 on the dot. N. lets them in and we're both embarrassed at the mess in our apartment. I continue to sleep with my face in the pillow until maintenance finishes up.
2 p.m. — I'm officially awake but don't feel like doing anything, so I binge I Feel Bad on Hulu. N. is at Bloomingdale's returning a shirt.
3 p.m. — N. texts asking if I'm a medium or large in winter gloves, since he says there's a good sale and my current pair doesn't have the touch screen capability. I tell him I'm not sure, and to use his best judgement.
6 p.m. — N. gets home with bags from both Bloomingdale's and Whole Foods. I try on the gloves he bought, and they fit perfectly. I thank him and ask him how much to Venmo him, but he says they're his treat. I help him unload his Whole Foods bags, which consist of mostly produce.
8 p.m. — We order food in tonight, since we both still feel beat from yesterday. We use Uber Eats to get Mexican food delivered from one of our favorite spots, and we order guacamole, tacos, and a steak quesadilla with tres leches cake for dessert. I Venmo him $25 for my portion. $25
10 p.m. — I buy a new bath mat on Amazon since ours is getting pretty raggedy. I also order some tape, lint rollers, and scissors. Nothing exciting tonight, and we're in bed by midnight. $35
Daily Total: $60

Day Seven

10 a.m. — N. and I are up and running, doing our own things. I received my Secret Santa match, so I browse Amazon for a gift and decide on slippers, a book off her wishlist, and a couple candles, which puts me $2 below the $40 max. After, I make a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and a side of chicken noodle soup. I also have a bag of baked crunchy Cheetos on the side. $38
2 p.m. — I do some online shopping and buy four new dresses and a cardigan on sale (with free shipping). $156
3 p.m. — I browse online for a Christmas present for N. He and I set a $50 max on gifts, but agreed to splurge on an experience that we'll decide on together. I buy him some cologne, exceeding the $50 max by $35, but his is running low. Plus I know he'll actually use it! Then I follow a pulled pork Crock-Pot recipe to make for N.'s lunches this week. $85
5 p.m. — N. wants to go to the gym and asks me if I want to join him. I say no, but we plan to meet for a casual bite after he finishes around 7:30.
8 p.m. — We grab dinner at Root & Bone for some fried chicken, mac and cheese, and biscuits to share. N. pays.
9:30 p.m. — I'm in the mood for dessert so we Lyft ($6) to Spot Dessert Bar, where we share the Golden Toast and Coconut Monkeybread, both of which are amazing ($19). I pay for both the Lyft and the dessert. $25
11 p.m. — N. orders us a Lyft home. I portion out N.'s pulled pork lunches, he thanks me, and we get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $304
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