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A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $48,500 Salary

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Today: an executive assistant who makes $48,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on Old Navy jeans.
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 28
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $48,500
Net Worth: $177,892 (Savings: $18,039, stock portfolio: $154,515, Roth IRA: $5,338. I set up my Roth IRA when I was hired at my current company. I am not eligible for my company's 401(k) until January 2023 and I will be starting one as soon as I am.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,347
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,250 (for my half of a one-bedroom duplex I share with my boyfriend)
Health Insurance: $98 (pre-tax, deducted from my paycheck)
Renter's Insurance: $9 (my half)
iCloud: $2.99
Patreon: $5
Apple Music & TV: $4.99 (I still get a student rate and share this with my mom.)
Netflix: Thanks, Mom!
HBO Max: Thanks, Mom!
Xfinity: Thanks, Mom!
Hulu: I use my boyfriend's account.
Amazon Prime: $6.52 (I am still on a discounted rate from when I was out of work for most of 2020. My mom uses my account.)
Billie Razor: $10.89
Yoga Studio Membership: $180
Electricity: $25–$40 (my half)
Internet: $27.49 (my half)
Phone: $69.73 (I venmo my mom because I'm on the family plan. We get unlimited data and our phones can be used as a hot spot. Payment also includes a monthly payment for my iPhone 13 mini.)
Savings Transfer: $100

Annual Expenses
Theatre Development Fund Membership: $40
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! My dad was the first person in his family to go to college, and my mom never went because she couldn't afford it and had to work to help my grandma with the bills. School was never my favorite thing so for many years I didn't want to go but that was never an option for me. I graduated from a private university early and attended graduate school in London. I am very fortunate to have had my undergraduate degree paid in full by my parents. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer when I was in college, and the assets he set up for me and my sister were given to us early. I used a huge chunk of cash from this account to fund my master's degree. I chose to get my degree in the UK because London is the best city in the world for theatre (I studied theatre-making), and the degree was significantly cheaper than if I went stateside.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't talk about money often but if we did, it was generally my mom telling stories of the financial hardship she and my grandmother faced when my grandfather left them. We were also reminded how hard my dad worked at a job he hated (CEO of a large company) so we could do whatever we wanted in life. The biggest financial advice my parents gave me growing up was to live under your means. My dad was very savvy with putting every bonus into the stock market and passed this onto me as well.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was a camp counselor at the day camp I attended. The first summer, I made $1 an hour, and it was expected we would make the bulk of our income from tips — it was the summer of 2008 so tips were scarce. I had a lot of friends who worked at the camp so most of the day was spent hanging out with friends. It was a fun job, and I stayed until my senior year of high school.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Never. My parents constantly reminded us we lived under our means despite us having two homes (paid for in cash), nice cars (also paid for in cash), and basically being given anything I wanted. I never thought about money because it was always there, but we were constantly reminded that hard work, luck, and strategy got us to where we were.
Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. Pre-pandemic I worked two jobs for the same company and made pretty decent money — at a cost. My second job (as a Broadway usher) took a toll on my mental health and caused me to burn out pretty quickly. I received a promotion at my office job in October, 2019 with a $10,000 pay raise so I left ushering a couple of months later. When COVID knocked out Broadway, I lost my job, and it took me a year to land my current job, which came with a pay cut. I put passion over salary, but as of late my passion for the industry is drying up, and I'm thinking of leaving for a higher paying industry so I can afford to have more of a life. Overall, I try to keep my expenses low, but I'm coming up short every month, and it's frustrating.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself when I moved to New York at 24. In between moving and grad school, I lived with my mom and saved my intern checks to move. When I was working as an usher full time, I did have a few months where I had to lean on money set up for me from my dad (he passed away while I was in college), but I only used it on groceries and transportation. Right before the pandemic, I was feeling super confident about my financials, but it all came crashing down when I lost my job. I was grateful for unemployment and the stimulus, and I moved a lot of it to my savings. As stressed as I get about my finances, I know deep down I have money to fall back on and I am grateful, even though now I pretend that money doesn't exist.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received full control of my stock portfolio and about $70,000 in cash at 19. This money was set up for me by my dad, and I wasn't supposed to receive it until I turned 30, but when he got sick it was pushed up. I refused to bring the debit and credit card that came with the account away to college with me until after my dad passed because I didn't trust myself. Shortly after my dad passed away, my maternal grandmother passed away and left me $10,000 which I put towards my master's degree.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I roll out of bed and head downstairs to make coffee and read my book, Severance by Ling Ma. It's for my book club, and I'm not sure how I feel about reading about a post-apocalyptic pandemic world but I'm enjoying it. I turn on my diffuser with lemon and eucalyptus oil; it's a great way to start my day.
7:15 a.m. — It's warm today, so I decide I'm going to go on a long walk in the park after I eat breakfast. I have a multigrain English muffin with guacamole, Trader Joe's Green Goddess seasoning, and a blood orange while I scroll through my horoscope and socials. Then I do my morning skin care (Aveeno Ultra-Calming Foaming Cleanser, Innisfree eye serum, CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, Glossier Rose Balm Dot Calm on my lips) and head out the door to the park.
9 a.m. — I feel super energized and ready to tackle the workday. My role has been WFH since the beginning of the year, and I've been loving it. My office is far from the closest train so it can take over an hour to get to work. My manager (who is amazing) and I are in the process of creating a new role elsewhere in the company since I've been doing assistant work for longer than I ever anticipated and I am ready to grow my career. My company just acquired a lot of new business and we are super busy so I like to log in early to balance out the day.
12 p.m. — I throw laundry into the wash and have a lemon-ginger Seltzer during a brief meeting. For lunch, I throw together a salad with kale, beets, artichoke, falafel, and Trader Joe's Vegan Creamy Dill Dressing. My boyfriend, B., goes out to pick up a prescription and comes back with a chocolate Nutella babka as a surprise — he's thoughtful! I will definitely have some later this afternoon.
12:45 p.m. — I head out on my “lunch” to Old Navy to return a pair of jeans that just weren't doing me any favors ($20 refund to my debit card). I've been eyeing another pair of jeans, but they aren't on sale so I'll wait until they are. When I get home, I have some of the babka and make an iced coffee while I plow through life admin.
5 p.m. — I finish up my last meeting of the day and go on a sunset walk. My best friend, N., calls me. Most of my good friends in NYC work Broadway schedules, so it's hard to find time to get together. I get home and roast sweet potato and garlic cloves for dinner with some hummus and broccoli topped with TJ's Vegan Kale Cashew pesto. I make extra for B. and lunch later in the week.
7:30 p.m. — I feed my soul with more babka and catch up on The Gilded Age, which is just porn for Broadway fans and people who love period dramas. I take a shower and do my midweek face mask (Innisfree Brightening and Pore-Caring Sleep Mask) before making a cup of ginger-turmeric tea. B. is a night owl and has the flexibility to work late but he takes a break to watch an episode of Ted Lasso with me. I'm off to sleep by 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Roll out of bed, coffee, read, skin-care routine, walk in the park. It's colder today, but I don't mind.
8:30 a.m. — I toast an English muffin with guacamole and have a blood orange while scrolling through my horoscopes and socials. I clean the bathroom and wipe down the kitchen before starting my workday.
12 p.m. — Between a meeting with our UK team and expense reporting, the morning goes by pleasantly fast! When B. emerges from upstairs, we chat about what's going on in Ukraine and it's heartbreaking. I heat up spinach pies and make a salad with mixed greens, mandarin oranges, roasted fennel, walnuts, and Parmesan to have on the side. The salad is my take on my favorite salad from my favorite pizza place nearby, just $15 less.
12:40 p.m. — I go for my midday walk.
2 p.m. — B. has therapy, and our apartment is super tiny, so I go to my favorite coffee shop across the street and get an oat milk latte ($5.90 with tip). I get work done before my next meeting. $5.90
4 p.m. — I snack on white truffle potato chips while I aggressively try to circle back with the CEO about scheduling meetings for important new business. Ah, the thrilling life of an executive assistant!
6 p.m. — I call it quits for the day and start dinner. Tonight it's tortellini and a Mediterranean salad mix. I make some for B. even though he won't eat until later. B. recently gifted me frozen lava cakes from my favorite bakery in Seattle, so I have a chocolate–peanut butter cake for dessert.
7:15 p.m. — B. is still working downstairs, so I go upstairs, light my favorite fig candle, and catch up on the latest episodes of Pam & Tommy and Secrets of Playboy. I shower, do my nighttime skin-care routine (same as the morning but I swap out the moisturizer for Innisfree Intensive Hydrating Serum), and make a peppermint tea. I read a little bit before B. comes upstairs to watch an episode of Ted Lasso. I fall asleep on top of him sometime around 9:45.
Daily Total: $5.90

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Awake, coffee, lemon oil in the diffuser, read.
7:30 a.m. — It's a cold and rainy morning so no walk for me. I make my usual breakfast and add a tangerine to the mix while scrolling through my socials and horoscopes. I do my morning skin-care routine and decide to do a yin yoga sequence to stretch out my body. I've come to learn if I don't walk or do yoga in the morning I get very antsy and uneasy throughout the day. It feels good to check in with my body before whatever the day throws at me!
8:45 a.m. — I check to see if those Old Navy jeans are on sale. Turns out they are, and I get 4% cash back with Rakuten. I place an order for pickup to avoid paying for shipping. I go through my personal email and budget before logging on for work. $27.99
12 p.m. — I love filling last-minute ticket requests for work and I have two this morning — a great way to start off a Friday. It feels so nice to be a tiny part of a special experience. I break for lunch and go to yoga. I feel so guilty about how much my monthly membership costs but I love going, so the expense is worth it to me. I started going to yoga regularly eight and a half years ago after my dad passed away, and it's been my therapy ever since. I just started going back in person instead of the Zoom option. Thankfully, my studio has a strict vaccine policy.
1:15 p.m. — Home from yoga and luckily nothing urgent happened while I was in class. I have another lemon-ginger seltzer with leftover salad and spend the afternoon booking travel and setting up meetings.
4:30 p.m. — I was my bedding and towels and see an email from our property manager. Our apartment has been without heat for six weeks and nothing has really been done about it. B. and I are looking for a rent concession but our property manager lets us know it's probably not going to happen. I am steaming, and B. calms me down as we go through our email thread and catch errors on the property manager's end. I am still too angry to respond so I hold off, or else there would be a lot of choice words.
5:30 p.m. — Shabbat Shalom! I wind my day down and take a walk, calling N. I like to take a walk to separate from the work week and Shabbos. B. and I observe Shabbat by staying off our phones and laptops and spending quality time doing things we enjoy with people we care about most.
7 p.m. — I put on a turtleneck and jeans to make the very long commute across the street for Thai food with F. We haven't gone out for Shabbat dinner in months because of Omicron, and it feels so good! We share scallion fritters, and I order tofu pad Thai, while B. gets chicken pad Thai. B pays for the meal ($48.64 with tip). We home to light Shabbat candles. We each take an edible and instead of our plans to watch more Ted Lasso, we have sex, and I fall asleep shortly after around 9:45.
11:30 p.m. — I am woken up by the sound of B. using the air popper to make popcorn. I'm glad he's enjoying his Friday night!
Daily Total: $27.99

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I am a natural early bird and I wouldn't have it any other way. I make coffee, light a vanilla candle, and read more of my book — it's growing on me.
8 a.m. — The weekends are reserved for a special breakfast in our home: the latke, egg, and cheese. A bougie deli near us makes them, but B. and I like to make our own courtesy of Trader Joe's frozen latkes. I have a tangerine on the side, then take a shower and do my morning skin-care routine (I was bad last night and fell asleep before taking my makeup off) and head out the door to yoga. My arms are sore from yesterday's class but the class is so lovely.
10 a.m. — As soon as I get out of class, N. calls me. We used to work together and we were roommates for two years. He's 12 years older than me but he's like my big brother. We chat as I walk to Old Navy to pick up my order from yesterday. I am close to Trader Joe's, so I top off our groceries with quinoa and black bean tortilla chips, sourdough, coffee, green goddess dip, blood orange cake mix, Many Things Snack Mix, and a little houseplant ($27.88 including bag fee). Usually, B. and I split groceries, but most of this stuff is for me, so I'm not going to send a Venmo request. $27.88
12 p.m. — I'm tired from a busy morning so I settle down on the couch with chips and dip to catch up on the new season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I have a green juice and heat up the last of the spinach pies from the freezer. When B. finally gets up we talk about doing something fun later.
1:30 p.m. — If I don't have plans for the weekend (which is most weekends these days), I treat myself to an oat milk matcha from a local coffee shop ($7.53 with tip) and read. Afterward, I go on a very long walk in the park and catch up with my mom on the phone. I come home, talk with B., and watch more Mrs. Maisel and read before getting ready for dinner. $7.53
6:45 p.m. — I want to do something special for B. because he does so much for me. B. makes over $100,000 more than I do, so he rarely lets me pay when we go out, even though I always offer. I throw on mom jeans, a black sweater, high tops, a leopard beanie, and red lipstick, and we're out the door. I tap my phone for the train fare ($2.75), and we are on our way to B.'s favorite pizza place. He orders two slices of eggplant Parm pizza, and I get a slice of the eggplant Parm and a Caprese slice ($20). We are both so full but we still manage to find ourselves in the bakery next door. B. gets a berry Napoleon, and I get a slice of chocolate mousse cake, both to go. B. pays ($16.94 with tip), and we take the train home ($2.75). $25.50
9 p.m. — We get home, and I light our Havdalah candle to end Shabbat. We watch an episode of Ted Lasso followed by more sex. I do my nightly skin-care routine and head back upstairs and get lost down a meme rabbit hole on Instagram. I fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $60.91

Day Five

7 a.m. — Make coffee, light a sage incense, read for a while. Same routine, new day.
9 a.m. — I finish Severance and it is… okay. Definitely not the worst book I've read for book club but not my favorite, especially because of how it parallels the last few years. Since it's still the weekend, I make a mega latke, egg, and cheese on sourdough and it's divine. I head out on a beautiful and long morning walk, chatting with N. and my mom on the phone.
11 a.m. — I want to make the blood orange cake I picked up yesterday and matzah ball soup with parsnips and leek. I freeze the veggie scraps to make broth in the future. While both are cooking, I reorganize a shelf in the kitchen and clean the bathroom and living room. When B. wakes up, he makes a fresh batch of coffee, and we watch Ted Lasso. In between episodes, I go downstairs and have my chocolate mousse cake from last night.
2 p.m. — I throw in another load of laundry and I'm at a loss for the day. A lot of my friends left the city over the last couple of years and almost all my friends in the city have work today. I don't feel like venturing too far or spending a lot of money, so I go to Target to look at bedding. B. recently ordered a new mattress, and it's larger than what we have now, so we'll need new sheets, which he has generously offered to pay for. I take pictures of options I like and I end up picking out a cute pot for my new plant and a small candle ($8.71). I go for a little walk when I'm out of the store because it's such a pretty day. $8.71
4 p.m. — I come home and pour myself a green juice. I open my laptop to catch up on my socials, and my mom calls me. We chat for a while, and I get tortilla chips and green goddess dip to tide me over until dinner. I watch another episode of Mrs. Maisel.
6 p.m. — I want to get back on my normal schedule so I have a light dinner of matzah ball soup and some of a chopped southwest salad kit from Trader Joe's. I unload the dishwasher and take the trash out.
7 p.m. — I begin my Sunday evening routine by making a cup of peppermint tea. I take a bath, wash my hair, and paint my nails. I wash my face and use my Innisfree mask. I write out basic wellness goals for the week and do my weekly three-card tarot pull. My Sunday evening routine is sacred to me and helps me tackle the week.
8:30 p.m. — B. asks if I want to watch Ted Lasso, and I agree. I fall asleep on B. sometime around 9:15.
Daily Total: $8.71

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — A slight twist this morning! We have leftover coffee from yesterday in the fridge so I have an iced coffee this morning and I start a new book; The Midnight Library by Matt Haig — I'm hooked! I read a little longer than usual before my morning skin care and walk.
8:30 a.m. — Breakfast! It's chilly so I make a tea with oat milk and have the last multigrain English muffin with hummus and za'atar with two mandarins on the side. I go over my monthly goals (crushed it this month) and make new ones. I put on mascara to feel put together and change into a secondhand J. Crew striped sweater before logging onto work for the day. I spend the morning on my weekly call with the CEO and COO going over their schedules for the week, then spend the morning correcting conflicts.
12 p.m. — I heat up some of the matzah ball soup I made yesterday and eat the last of the salad I made last night. I make a few calls rescheduling appointments for the CEO before heading out on my afternoon walk.
1:30 p.m. — Home from my walk, I make a cup of tea with oat milk and have some of the blood orange cake I made yesterday. Oh my goodness, it's so citrusy, I LOVE it! Since my team's been traveling, they have a lot of expenses piling up so it's an afternoon of expense reporting for me. It's a pain, but when the report is due, I'll be happy I put the time in now.
4 p.m. — My team is busy launching a new event, so I know the rest of the day will be slow. At this point, I am on call in case there is a scheduling emergency. I compose myself to respond to my building manager about the lack of heat. Sadly, B. and I are ready to give up and we are writing to let the manager know some of the information they are telling us is incorrect and this is our final plea for something to get done. We had an issue with a leak that left a hole in the wall prior to this so we are definitely not renewing this lease. At this point, we are ready to move on.
5 p.m. — I put myself on standby and take my laptop upstairs to watch Euphoria. I pause a few times when emails come in. I heat up leftover sweet potato in vegan kale cashew pesto, frozen broccoli, and falafel with vegan creamy dill dressing. It's delicious! B. is grateful for the food and offers to clean up.
7:30 p.m. — I take a shower, do my nighttime skin-care routine, and make a cup of pumpkin spice rooibos. I look at Y2K memes on my phone for far too long before B. comes up for our nightly Ted Lasso viewing. I am proud of myself for not falling asleep this time, but I'm fast asleep by 9:45.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:35 a.m. — Awake, make coffee, read. I'm hungry this morning so I eat before my walk: sourdough with guacamole and a mandarin. I do my morning skin-care routine and I'm out the door to the park.
8:45 a.m. — This afternoon I have my annual executive review with the CEO, and he's super casual, but I am not. I know we're discussing my new role at the company and I feel like it's a little awkward because he knows I'm not happy working as his assistant. I wear a gray cashmere sweater, throw on mascara, and begin the workday.
10 a.m. — I need to pull something up on my manager's calendar and see she has a meeting about me with HR later today. I am trying to stay cool and not freak out. I was terminated pretty quickly in the pandemic from my last job and I am still processing the trauma around it. I am a little anxious so I have snack mix and dive into my work.
12:30 p.m. — I tell B. what's going on, and he tells me everything will be okay. He also points out that if it were bad, it wouldn't be on a calendar I can access, which makes me feel slightly better. I'm not very hungry but I know I should eat so I put together TJ's vegan ranch crunch salad. I know I won't eat the whole thing, so I save it for later before heading out on my afternoon walk.
1:30 p.m. — I get home from my walk, and my boss asks if my review could be moved to tomorrow, ugh. I understand he's totally swamped but I'm a little bummed because this was supposed to happen a month ago. N. calls me, and I make an Earl Grey with oat milk and have some blood orange cake. I know my afternoon will be slow so I take my laptop upstairs to give B. a quiet space to work. I go over all my new role notes for my meeting with my manager tomorrow and the points I want to go over with the CEO in my review.
3:30 p.m. — B. and I finally hear back from our building manager who lets us know they cannot compensate us financially for not having heat for six weeks, but they can give us a new appliance even though they are all working fine. I want to cry but I am too emotionally drained.
5 p.m. — I put on the latest episode of The Gilded Age and one of my dearest friends, C., texts me to catch up later this week! I'm so excited. We haven't caught up over the phone in a year, and I hate that we've let so much time pass.
6 p.m. — I'm not very hungry but I want something before yoga. I have the last of the matzah ball soup, chat with B. about our apartment drama, and head out the door for yoga.
8:30 p.m. — Class is so lovely! I always feel good after this teacher's classes and I make a point to go to his class at least once a week. I am hungry and spent a good chunk of class thinking about hamentashen. I know a Key Food close to my apartment sells them but I pass two other grocery stores on the way home so I figure I'll try them first. No luck. I don't feel like going to Key Food so I shelf this mission for tomorrow.
9 p.m. — Home and I take a nice shower. We watch another Ted Lasso and I'm asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $0
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