A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $65,000 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 digital operations manager who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an Apple Watch.
Editor’s Note: This is a bonus throwback Thursday diary — this diary is from the Money Diaries archive and has previously run on the site.
Occupation: Digital Operations Manager
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 26
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $65,000
Net Worth: $18,050 ($9,000 in my emergency fund, $9,300 in Roth IRA minus $250 in debt)
Debt: $250 left of $4,000 of medical debt from my last hospitalization
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,980
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000 for my share in a three-bedroom apartment
Medical Debt: $75
Netflix: $15
Spotify: $3
Obe Fitness: $27
HYSA: $200
WiFi: $22 (split with roommates)
Electric: $50-$120
Cell Phone: $80
Donations: $90
Housekeeper: $60
Vegamour Subscription: $33
Medication: $5
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?
Yes and no. My parents are both college-educated and instilled its value into us. However, in my community, higher education was frowned upon and when I told my high school teachers that I was trying to apply to college, they tried to dissuade me from doing so. However, it has become more common in the Ultra Orthodox community (which I am still part of culturally and socially, but not in practice), and has become a lot more accepted, especially since there are gender-segregated college programs that specifically cater to members of the community. Because I was initially dissuaded from going to college, I applied to college so late in the year that I had to apply to a direct admissions program and didn't have the opportunity to apply for scholarships. To pay for school, I worked full-time while taking classes for about four-and-a-half years. During that time, I had it drilled in my mind that student loans were a no-no (my parents had taken out students loans that they struggled to repay for most of my life), so I put my tuition on credit cards or paid in cash. Using balance transfers on 0% intro APR cards, I mostly managed to avoid interest. Looking back, I probably should have just gotten a part-time job and taken out a small student loan to just have peace of mind and actually enjoy my time as a student. Instead, I was a rat on a wheel, burnt out, exhausted, and constantly anxious. I wouldn't recommend it.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't teach me much, but they bemoaned credit cards and student loans as the devil. I constantly judged them for their spending habits until I got older and realized I wasn't any better. Once my mom got diagnosed with cancer, the bills piled high and we were always struggling to stay afloat. Then I got sick, too, and realized how hard it is to manage when you're constantly battling your health. Karma is a bitch. I learn most of what I know now from friends, mentors, and people I follow on Instagram.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a babysitter for local families while I was in high school, then as a camp counselor. My first big girl job was as a secretary for an educational director.
Did you worry about money growing up?
My parents were constantly worried about money and never tried to hide it from us, which consequently meant that I was always worried about it too. I considered us to be extremely poor, despite being middle class, and had a lot of resentment towards my parents for not being able to give me what my friends had. I grew up in a very materialistic community where designer strollers and handbags and vacation homes in the Catskills were the norm. As a teenager, I would do our weekly shopping for a family of eight with a budget of $100. We relied heavily on food pantries to supplement. As I got older, I realized we probably had it better than most, we just didn't have a lot of support.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, all the time. But I'm also confident in my resourcefulness and willingness to adapt and learn. I am willing to work hard if I need to, and I'm cautious about my life choices.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I don't really remember a time when I wasn't. I've been buying my own clothing, food, and MetroCards since I was 14 years old. I worked every summer and babysat year-round. I never thought I had a financial safety net. After my mother died, the community rallied together to raise funds for my family while my father was not able to work, and for the first time in my life, my family is in the green. I am doing the best to manage that money and try to make it grow. It's also money that is not mine and should I need access to it, I would need to have a consensus from all of my siblings.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My sibling and I are the trustees of my parents' home, and should my father remarry and move out, we could sell it and split the profit.

Day One

8 a.m. — Alarm rings but I snooze it for about an hour. I can't bring myself to get out of bed. My throat hurts and I don't really want to move. Don't worry, I already had COVID. My neighborhood was hit HARD with COVID in March and everyone I know had it, too. But still. I am traveling in a week and need to have a negative result to avoid quarantine. I cuddle with my boyfriend for a bit and then head to the bathroom. I wash and moisturize my face with my gentle CeraVe. With the weather getting colder, my skin is dry AF, so I coat my eyes in Vaseline (the only dry eye deterrent that actually works for me!) and brush my teeth.
10 a.m. — My siblings are heading back to the West Coast today. After my mom died last year, us older siblings in our 20s have been juggling responsibility for the younger ones (ages 10, 16, and 20), but it's gotten hard for us to take care of it all, so they are spending the year living with my aunt and uncle. As Actual Adults™, they are just better equipped to take care of their day-to-day needs than we are, but I'm going to miss them! Hot cocoas and cinnamon rolls in hand, I run over to my family's house around the corner to wake them up with gentle kisses and goodbye hugs. I've learned that the secret to waking up grumpy teens is doing so with treats in hand. These moments make me glad I live near the house; it just makes spending time with family a lot easier. $27.76
1 p.m. — We head upstate for a bat mitzvah. The color theme is orange and black, so I put on a leopard print slip skirt, a black mock neck, and my leather pointed heeled booties. We arrive at the tent where we find cute customized masks at every seat, a large dance floor, and a DJ who is actually GOOD! It's been a long time since I've danced and despite the sprawling litter of pre-teens and their perfected TikTok moves, I manage to have a good time. After a few hours, I am ready to go.
7:30 p.m. — Arrive at the apartment my boyfriend shares with his brother in the Hudson Valley and I am feeling antsy. Part of me wants to spend a few nights here enjoying the fall foliage, but also, I like my bed and my house and because I don't drive (city girl with anxiety to blame for that), I always feel a little trapped when I'm here. I weigh the pros and cons of a three-hour, train, bus, and Uber trip home. After I decide to go, we leave for the bus station, but right away realize that we are short on gas because his brother didn't fill up the car like he said he would (ugh!). There's no way I am going to make the next bus, so I take it as a sign that I should stay and just make peace with it.
8:15 p.m. — We fill up on gas and pass a rustic tavern on our way back. I suggest we have a cozy date before we head home. My boyfriend agrees. I order a mimosa and pickles and he gets a French onion soup and a beer and we take turns asking each other questions from the "36 questions that lead to love." Despite us dating for nine months (we met right before COVID hit NYC, a stroke of good luck), we still manage to learn things about each other. The total is $25, my boyfriend, B., pays. We head home to go to sleep.
Daily Total: $27.76

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Despite our best efforts to go to bed early, B. and I are exhausted. The air in the room is dry and I'm slightly dehydrated from self-neglect, so my body just doesn't want to get up. We keep snooze a bit and then get up to get our bodies moving before work.
8 a.m. — We head out of the house, stopping at the Starbucks drive-through on the way. I order a grande flat white for B. and a grande cafe misto for myself. Nothing like a cozy walk with some liquid gold in hand. We get in a few miles before we get home with just five minutes to spare for my first meeting of the day. $8.57
11 a.m. — I log into my work Zoom meeting, turn off my camera and microphone, and make some breakfast. I fry up some onions, mushrooms, and kale while I listen in. Am I the only New Yorker who must constantly be multitasking? When the meeting is done, I fry up some eggs, plate some for my boyfriend, and inhale my portion.
4 p.m. — Work is done for the day. A big project I was working on was terminated, so it's going to be a quiet work week. I decide to start working on my PFL: Plans For Life. The last two years of my life have been unsettling, to say the least. Between my being hospitalized for IBD twice, family drama and trauma, my mom's illness and death, changing jobs, moving back home for a bit to take care of my siblings needs, moving back out again, and COVID, I haven't had time to just breathe in a while. But now, much thanks to my siblings being away and fewer social obligations, my life has been pretty mellow and I think it's an opportune time for a change and some career growth moves. I start building out my pro/con Airtable spreadsheet of grad school options, certificates that I may want to obtain, and general career ideas.
7 p.m. — Dinner time! I'm trying to use up whatever is in the house because I spent so much money on groceries these past few months. I dig up some frozen salmon, canned artichokes, kale, cucumbers, and an avo on the verge of no return and make some herb crusted salmon and kale salad topped with balsamic vinaigrette. The salmon tastes meh (I'm never a fan of frozen!) but the salad is a hit. We make popcorn and put on Orange Is the New Black. At around 12, I brush my teeth, shower, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $8.57

Day Three

8:10 a.m. — The alarm rings and I don't stay in bed for long because I want to hit the trail this morning. I put on my black sweater and black leggings and my white leather fashion sneakers (referred to henceforth as my uniform). We stop by Starbucks and I reload my Starbucks card for $25. I order myself a cafe misto with half-and-half, a mocha latte for my bf, and an almond matcha latte for his bro. I pay. We drop his brother off at the community college for class and then drive to the trail, this time taking a nice path through the woods. $25
11:30 a.m. — Shower and make myself a pot of popcorn (again!) for breakfast because there is nothing else to eat. I sit on my bf's massive bro-couch (you know the giant La-Z-Boy style ones that are so comfy yet grotesque?) with my laptop and start working. At some point, I book us mani-pedis for tonight and let my bf know. He's in and tells me he wants it to be his treat even though I had every intention of paying for it. He says he wants to have a date night before we go. He's the freaking best sometimes! I get back to work.
2:45 p.m. — I get a call from a researcher from NYU who is conducting a study to see how autoimmune patients on biologics fared with COVID. Strangely enough, both my roommates had more severe cases than I did even though I'm the immunocompromised one, so I'm looking forward to the results. She promises to check in again in a month.
4:30 p.m. — I remember that I have an appointment with my new oral surgeon and I need to mail in my x-rays that are back at my apartment. I call my roommate and ask her to bring them to the post office, which she is nice enough to do. $18
5:15 p.m. — Work is finished for the day, so I begin doing some research on the GRE. I am torn because each year fewer grad programs require it, but I want to have my options open. But also, it's been YEARS since I studied math and I'm afraid of the mental toll it's going to take on me. Regardless, I decide to dip my toe in and practice some vocabulary: Dereliction, Dialectic, Regaled, Cipher, Unstinting, Inexorability, Farcical, Resplendent, Subsume, Transmute.
7 p.m. — B. drives us to the salon where we mostly sit in silence while I practice my vocabulary words and scroll through social media. We occasionally reach over the plexiglass to show each other memes. When we are done, we opt-in for additional 10-minute massages. The total, with tip, is $126. B. pays.
8:30 p.m. — We are hungry, so B. orders some brisket, fries, and General Tso's from a kosher takeout. After dinner, B. gets back to work and I sit down to do some life admin stuff. I pay some bills, arrange our Shabbat plans, and schedule meetups with some friends. I purchase some shoe racks and packing cubes on Amazon. I transfer $1,000 into my investment accounts and then B. and I go to sleep. $98.50
Daily Total: $141.50

Day Four

7 a.m. — I actually feel well-rested for a change. We dress and head out. Obviously, I need some Starbucks. I get matchas for the boys and my usual cafe misto using the card I refilled yesterday. We go for a hike and the two brothers are like adventurous bunnies in the wild. Having mostly grown up surrounded by my sisters, it's cute to see them being super playful together.
9 a.m. — B. prepares some tuna and celery sticks for breakfast while I begin to work. At 11, I have my scheduled call with my oral surgeon. He is super informative, patient, and soft-spoken. We book my surgery for right before Thanksgiving so I can spend my extended weekend recovering.
12 p.m. — B. goes into the office today, so I'm stuck in the apartment by myself. There is really no food at this point, so I open another can of tuna and eat that with the remaining celery sticks. It's alright because I have an engagement party tonight that I want to stay hungry for.
2 p.m. — I'm doing some research for my PFL, so I call a former coworker of mine who is now completing his Master's in marriage and family counseling. We talk for about 30 minutes and he offers some interesting bits of wisdom. I end the call with a bit more insight into the field, but still undecided about whether it is worth considering. I miss college. I miss academia. I miss the feeling of aliveness that comes with constantly learning… and yet… is it worth the heavy debt it's sure to throw upon me? Decisions, decisions.
6 p.m. — I throw on a thick black H&M sweater over my olive green Anthropologie slip dress. B. showers while I apply my Glossier Boy Brow, Perfecting Skin Tint and Concealer, and Cloud Paint. The only product I use that is not Glossier is my Maybelline mascara which I have on a bi-monthly subscription from Amazon. I top it off with a felt hat from Gap and some ASOS earrings and I'm seriously feeling myself. B. gets out of the shower and asks me to find something for him to wear, which I do a little begrudgingly because he always needs my opinion on what to wear and then doesn't listen. It's sweet that he loves my opinion but his indecisiveness drives me mad sometimes! Obviously, he doesn't wear what I suggest.
7:15 p.m. — I arrive at the engagement party. It's in a tent with food, string lights, and a three-piece klezmer band. I am the first to arrive, which means small-talking and mingling with family for a good few hours before others show up. I'm a very social person but socializing with new people through a mask just draaaains the energy out of me. I need to take a nap, so I go upstairs to one of the rooms to lie down. Lucky for me, I am a close enough friend that I can go do what is otherwise completely socially unacceptable. That is until two nursing mamas walk in, needing a quiet place to feed their babes. Oh well. I head back downstairs.
11:30 p.m. — A friend of my bf offers me a ride to the city. It's 12:30 a.m. when we get there and my eyes are sooo dry, all I want to do is pass out. Except my room is a complete wreck with a week's worth of clean laundry to fold piled high on my bed, which, as of last week, is a mattress on the floor (my bf and I broke the frame and it happened exactly as you think it did, lol.) I wash the makeup off my face, moisturize, and brush my teeth. I pile the clothing into an open suitcase, push the rest to the other side of the mattress, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — Wake up, scroll through Insta for a bit and remember that I have a TON to do today. I start by ordering a bed frame on Amazon while I sit on the toilet. I select a basic metal queen. $103.43
8:45 a.m. — I make some pour-over coffee with frothed milk in the Nespresso and I sit down to write my Morning Pages, which is this idea to write three pages a day, first thing in the morning, to get out of all of the residual thoughts and feelings that can block creativity. I find this ritual of free-flowing thought to be enjoyable and relaxing before the chaos begins. But the chaos begins and before I know it I'm deep in a rabbit hole of random work and travel prep “to-dos” and my Morning Pages are yet to be written. Maybe the consistent journaling habit I want to create will happen in retirement.
11 a.m. — I am overwhelmed by everything I need to do so I start by taking down a big suitcase and just dumping all of my summer clothing into it haphazardly. It probably isn't a very efficient way to pack, but it provides an illusion of productivity, so who cares. I'll sort through what I actually need later. I realize I haven't eaten, so I grab TJ's Just a Handful of Olives from my pantry.
12 p.m. — More errands! I prepare my returns and check to see if the Apple Watch I've wanted for a while (so I can run without my phone) is available at Best Buy since I'll be nearby later for a friend's birthday dinner. I run to the dry cleaners across the street to hem up a dress and a pair of pants. As a short person, I have to constantly budget for tailoring, which I don't exactly love. $69
3 p.m. — Put on a cute hat, some really nice pants that are really just leggings in disguise, and makeup, and head to the subway. I still have money on my MetroCard from when I used to commute to work. I catch up on old texts on the train because I have this awful habit of responding to texts like two months late. When I arrive at Best Buy, I'm told that they don't have what I want in stock. Meh. I order a Starbucks latte on the app using my free coffee award.
4:15 p.m. — I have about 45 minutes to waste in Union Square when I get a text from my best friend, M., checking in about scheduling. Did we plan something? Because she keeps low-key checking in all day. I straight up ask her and she is a little annoyed that I don't remember that we discussed hanging out sometime today. WHOOPS. As a new mama, her social dates are sacred. I can't possibly let her know that I am not going to make it because I'm having a birthday dinner with a different friend who is not as close on the closeness scale of friends. I tell her that I can have a late dinner with her tonight.
4:30 p.m. — Tonight's restaurant of choice is abcV. While I wait, I call my new potential roommate to discuss her move-in plans. I'm going to a different state for a month to visit a friend, so I am subletting my room to her for the month. When my friends arrive, we head inside and order one of almost everything. The waiter thanks us profusely for supporting them during these times, which breaks my heart a little. I am reminded of how little I go out to eat typically, that I may not live in NYC forever, and that I need to take serious advantage of the city's culinary offerings while I can. At 6:30, my friend drives us back and I schedule my COVID test for Saturday morning while we drive. $128.44
8 p.m. — M. messages me to let me know that tonight isn't going to work. We schedule that she'll come over Saturday instead and we'll go out to eat when I get back from vacation. My bursting tummy is relieved!
9:30 p.m. — At my parents' house for a budgeting meeting with my dad, since my siblings and I manage his finances (which my mom used to do), and his random eBay spending on things like vintage belt buckles has gotten way out of control. On my way out, I remind him to defrost the chicken for tomorrow night's Shabbat dinner and I grab a banana for breakfast, because that's what parents' houses are for.
Daily Total: $300.87

Day Six

9:10 a.m. — Meet with a friend who recently moved back to the States after her divorce. We have a lot to catch up on as we walk around the neighborhood chatting about life, dating, relationships, and getting back in the game. After 30 minutes we stop at a local bakery. I get some hummus and a latte and she gets a loaf of spelt bread. She pays. We sit on the small table outside of the shop to eat and I am transported to the shuks of Jerusalem and reminisce over the many nights we spent there. I am overcome with nostalgia… I just can't wait to travel again.
10:30 a.m. — Train to Best Buy. They have the exact watch I want and I check out using my brother's Best Buy Rewards. I send him 26,000 Chase Miles in exchange and pay only for the tax, the head home. When I exit the train, I quickly review some notes for a conversation I am having with the mentor from my fellowship. I arrive home just in time for the meeting, which goes really well. $9.67
1:30 p.m. — At my parents' house to see what ingredients they have before I go shopping, and it reeks of neglect. The floor hasn't been cleaned in days, the garbage is overflowing, and it's just GROSS. I decide I'm not cooking; takeout it is. I call the housekeeper, a local high schooler who cleans for me for a few hours a week to earn extra spending money, to ask her if she can come today to clean my dad's house after school. She can! What a relief.
2 p.m. — I run to the supermarket to pick up food, seeing that my dad did not defrost the chicken like I asked him to. (Ugh. But also, poor guy.) I pick up some ready-made tomato dip, challah, chicken, ready-made salad, a potato kugel, and hearts of palm. The total is $55.50 and I pay for it using the family card. I stop next door to buy two bottles of wine for our hosts for tomorrow's Shabbat lunch, which comes out to $38.63. $38.63
3 p.m. — My dad freaks out when I let him know the housekeeper is coming; he doesn't want anyone in his space. I call my housekeeper and apologize profusely. She is so understanding. I want to pay her for her time, but she doesn't have any money transfer apps, so I send her a $15 Starbucks gift card via text and an apology note. $15
4:30 p.m. — B. and his brother arrive as I am finishing cleaning the house and setting the table for Shabbat dinner. It's just going to be myself, my dad, my brother, and his wife, while my bf and his brother go out to eat with some friends.
6 p.m. — Family arrives for dinner. We discuss stock prices, saving, and current events over our takeout. I'm glad I prioritized spending this time with family before I leave for a month.
9:30 p.m. — I dress up to go out and go meet up with my brother and his friends for dessert. It's really a lovely night out and we have a really nice time. By the time I get home, I'm wiped from too much conversation and food. I knock out at 1:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $63.30

Day Seven

8:20 a.m. — An ambulance passes my window, forcing me to wake. It's COVID test time! I go to the bathroom and get dressed. I decide to Uber to the train, knocking my trip time down by 20 minutes. I throw on my go-to uniform, grab a coffee from my Nespresso, and head out the door. $6.07
10 a.m. — After three train transfers, I arrive at the testing center. It's in an abandoned parking lot in a part of Brooklyn I'm certain I have never been to before as a conscious adult. I see a nurse standing outside of a line of cars and I shout over the barrier that I don't have a car. She tells me to order an Uber, because cars are required. Oh, well. I order an Uber and tell my driver that indeed, I am going nowhere. After waiting in the line of cars for five minutes, he gets super annoyed that he is losing business (rightfully so!) and I feel really guilty, so I hand him a crumpled up twenty I find buried in my purse, which seems to satisfy him. About a minute later it's my turn to get tested. The nurse hands me a large Q-tip in a plastic bin through the car window, asks for my DOB + name, and has me swish it about one inch into each nostril for five seconds before returning it to her. That was easy! I thank my driver and head back to the train. $27.11
11 a.m. — I desperately gotta pee so I stop into the local supermarket to use the bathroom. (Pro tip: if you ever need to know where any bathroom is, ask someone with Crohn's!) I'm expecting a friend over later and I have nothing in my fridge, so I buy some Greek feta olive salad, goat cheese, and some fancy grapes. The total is $20.60. I walk home while listening to the Rough Translation podcast, and order water bottles, paper towels, almond-flour crackers, and feta cheese on Instacart for $52.95. $73.55
12 p.m. — Get home, shower, and start cleaning up the dishes from last night. I have B. put together the new bed and move the air conditioner into my bedroom closet. It's nice when he gets into the get-shit-done mode and I don't have to nag him.
1 p.m. — Forget what I said about not having to nag him. We are running late to Shabbat lunch. I nudge B. to go shower and get dressed because I REALLY want to be on time. In our social circles, my bf and I have a reputation of being chronically late and I feel bad and anxious about it and at least try to rush, whereas he is allergic to rushing. I'm annoyed at him and my first-day period cramps and headache are not helping.
2:08 p.m. — We are the first guests to arrive. It's a lovely meal and this particular friend is an incredible home chef. We have a great afternoon.
5 p.m. — I go to pick up my clothes and the dry cleaners are closed. I take a look at the receipt and sure enough, it says to come AFTER five on Saturdays, even though the fine print on the bottom shows that it closes at 4, and now it's too late for me to have the items for this trip. I'm annoyed, but what can I do?
6:20 p.m. — I check my email and see that my COVID test came back negative. The bell rings and my friend is here. I throw together a cheese board with the items I bought this morning. It's not my best work, but she's still impressed. I haven't seen her in ages, as she just moved back from living abroad. We hang and chat for a couple of hours.
8 p.m. — I had this really unrealistic idea that I would be able to pack in under two hours and be in bed by 10, all well rested for our trip to the airport at 4:30 a.m. HAHAHAH. Nope. The clock is ticking and no progress has been made in that department. In the meantime, I pick up some kosher snacks for my friend I will be visiting. The total is $43.32. My friend, M., arrives to help me start packing, while we catch up on allll the gossip. $43.32
11:30 p.m. — M. leaves and I go to the kitchen to clean up. I really hate it when my roommates leave me a mess to clean up when they're gone, so I try my best to keep things neat and tidy for them. I set my alarm for 4, send my bf a text with all of the tasks I need him to take care of after he drops me off at the airport in the morning, pop a melatonin, and knock out.
Daily Total: $150.05
Editor's Note: COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Visit the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, restrictions, and other resources.
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