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A Week In Westchester, NY On A $95,500 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Greenie's.
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.

This week: a marketing manager who makes $95,500 per year and spends some of it this week on dog pill pockets.
Occupation: Marketing manager
Industry: Retail
Age: 30
Location: Westchester, NY
Salary: $95,500
Net Worth: -$94,023.14 (401k: $18,510.15; HYSA: $131.14, minus debts)
Debt: $112,664.43 (two consolidation loans and three credit cards: $36,783.43; student loans: $75,881 that my parents pay — because they want to!)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,448.23
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $300. I moved back in with my mom three years ago after having lived out of state for 13 years. At first, she was not charging me anything but the maintenance costs at our co-op went up this year so she asked that I cover the increase.
Monthly Loan Payments: $2,911.68 (Total of the monthly payments on the two loans, three credit cards and the car payment.)
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Car Insurance: $160.58
Pet Insurance: $66
Zumba Instructor Membership: $43.94
YouTube TV: $72.99
Spotify: $14.99
Disney+: $9.99
Microsoft 365: $10.79
NYT digital: $4.07 (This is promo pricing until June when it goes up to $25 a month, at which point I’ll probably cancel.)

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, there was definitely an expectation. My mother got married and raised kids during her college-aged years so she wanted my older brother and me to go to college right after high school. My mother did eventually get a bachelor’s and master’s but it wasn’t until I was in college myself. My dad completed a bachelor’s degree in his 20s. I did not want to go to college immediately because my intended career path didn’t require a degree. My parents were against that, so I went to college and didn’t follow my initial career path. I got a BA in communication and then a Master of Business Administration about a year after my undergrad.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
There were none. My father made a good salary that could sustain our family on a single income. My mother worked in education but her money was her money. My parents didn’t talk to me and my brother about money and they didn’t talk about money in front of us. I was very privileged to mostly get what I asked for as well. I’m very grateful for what I was afforded but it has made adulthood a bit more difficult in terms of learning how to spend and live within my means.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
At 17, I worked in my town’s pizza place. I was the counter girl so I just took orders, cleaned up, handled cash wrap, et cetera. I was paid in cash once a week. I got this job only because I wanted to have one. My parents did not encourage me to work in high school. I needed their permission to work, though, since I didn’t have a car and would need someone to pick me up and drop me off. It took a long time to get them to agree to let me work here. It was only about six months and then I moved away for college.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not worry about money growing up.

Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. I worry about paying off my debt and I worry about retirement. However, I’m comfortable with my salary. I don’t worry about not having enough money in the current time, I just worry about figuring out how to spend it correctly.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 21, when I graduated college and got my first “big girl” job. I'm lucky that I have a financial safety net in terms of a place to live because I know I can always continue living at home, or move in with other family. However, I do not have a safety net when it comes to debt or other monthly payments. I would need help paying the monthly bills I couldn’t pause (I can get rid of monthly subscriptions, but I need help making my monthly debt payments).

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No, I have not.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to an alarm I meant to turn off last night. It’s Saturday, and one time six months ago I decided to set weekend alarms to regulate my sleep and build a routine. Not once have I stayed awake when it’s rung. I turn over and sleepily apologize to J., the man I’ve been seeing, for waking him up. Last night was date night so we were out and up pretty late. I promptly fall back asleep.
11:30 a.m. — J. and I finally decide to get up. He goes to shower so I catch up on phone notifications and then head to the kitchen to feed my dog. Once J. is done, I take a shower, do my skincare, and get dressed. My dog is very excited to go out so I put his leash and raincoat on. The three of us walk to a dog-friendly breakfast cafe. It’s cold and rainy today, and I’m a little concerned about my new sneakers getting ruined. J. gets a bagel with scallion cream cheese and a coffee, I get a baconeggandcheese (#iykyk) and a coffee. J. pays. We head back to his place around 2 p.m.
3 p.m. — I decide it’s time to head back to Westchester. J. lives about an hour’s drive away in Queens. Since we’re relatively new to seeing each other, this is only the second time I’ve stayed over, but I opted to drive down instead of train so I could bring my dog with me. I live with my mom and never want to burden her with having to take care of my dog since he is my pet and my responsibility. I pack my things and J. walks me to my car. Once I get to my car I realize I can’t find my wallet. After an hour of searching my car and bags, his apartment, and retracing our steps, I give up the hope of finding it. I lock all my cards through my banking apps on my phone and drive the hour ride home at the speed limit in fear of getting pulled over and having to explain why I don’t have a license. I had been planning to hit a drive-thru on the way home for a snack but I can’t do that now that my wallet is missing.
5 p.m. — I’m home now. I unpack everything thinking maybe I somehow missed my wallet. I didn’t. I get online to officially report my cards lost. I order new debit cards and a replacement driver’s license. The debit cards are free to replace but my license costs $17.50. I put on sweatpants and crawl into bed to watch Restaurant Impossible reruns on Max. $17.50
9 p.m. — Whoops, I fell asleep. I get up and search the apartment for my mom, who is in the living room. I sit with her while she watches last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live. I apply for jobs and pay some bills while passively paying attention to the TV. I was recently passed over for a promotion at work (second time in the past six months) and the hopes of getting a raise this year seem bleak, so I’m looking for a new job.
10 p.m. — It’s time to walk my dog so we head outside. Once back inside, I feed my dog and decide to make stir-fry for dinner, which just means I’ll sauté some vegetables and mix it with a pack of ramen noodles sans the seasoning and soup. After, I get back in bed and back to watching Restaurant Impossible while playing Candy Crush. I recognize how unproductive my day was and try not to feel bad about it. My weekends aren’t always like this so I try to allow myself to appreciate the privilege of doing nothing today. I fall asleep somewhere around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $17.50

Day Two

9 a.m. — I remembered to turn off my 7:30 a.m. alarm last night so I wake up on my own at 9 a.m. I check my phone and tell myself I should get up but decide against it and fall back asleep.
11 a.m. — I wake up again and think about the errands I have to run. I decide to make a grocery list as an excuse to stay in bed a little longer. By noon, I’m out of bed. I walk and feed my dog, shower, and clean up my room. I was sick last week, so changing the bed sheets is necessary this weekend. It’s a beautiful 60-degree day so my windows are open letting the sun and fresh air in.
2 p.m. — I finally get out the door to run my errands. The first stop is Plato’s Closet with some winter jackets and shoes to sell. While I wait for them to review my items, I realize I haven’t eaten yet today so I go across the street to Popeye’s. I get six wings, fries, a drink, and a biscuit for $12.75. I pay in cash that I had home and thankfully was not in my wallet when I lost it. Plato’s texts me that they’re ready. They buy four of my eight items and pay me $46.65. (Does this cancel out what I spent on lunch?) Time to head home, I grab an iced chai from Starbucks ($4.99) to keep me company on the 40-minute drive. $17.74
5 p.m. — I head to Target and the grocery store, my last errands for the day. At Target, I stick to my list and pick up body lotion, carpet cleaner, Pledge, and lip balm. Again using cash, I pay $35.93. $35.93
6 p.m. — The supermarket is in the same plaza as Target so I don’t have to go far. I’m shopping for both my mom and me today. The list doesn’t look long but the cart fills up fast. I stick to the list here too and get fruits, veggies, some chicken and steak, coffee, and some snack foods. Somehow everything ends up being around $170. Once I put my rewards number in, it drops to $157. Since I wasn’t sure if my cash would cover the groceries, my mom let me take her debit card (since mine is MIA) before I left. When I get home, I unpack the groceries and give her $70 from my cash stash for most of my half of the groceries. I tried to give her $78.50 which would have split the groceries evenly but she told me to round down. Shoutout to Mom. $70
7 p.m. — I’ve been dreading it but I have to do laundry. It’s been like two weeks since I did, so it’s time. I wash three loads and fill two dryers. Luckily my laundry card has enough on it to pay for those, but it leaves me with only $1. I opt to refill my card tonight instead of two weeks from now when I attempt laundry again. I use $20 in cash to refill my card. During all this, my mom orders pizza and wings. She pays for the pizza and I cover the delivery tip ($5). Over dinner, my mom mentions that she wants to watch Napoleon so I sign us up for Apple TV+ ($9.99). I’ll cancel it in a few days once she gets a chance to watch it. $34.99
10 p.m. — I finally finish the laundry and bring everything upstairs. Before I get to folding, I take my dog for a walk. I watch Family Feud with my mom while I fold and then head to bed. I try not to think about what work will bring me tomorrow so I put on a sleep podcast to help me fall asleep.
Daily Total: $158.66

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and realize I slept through my first alarm at 7:30 a.m. I hit snooze a few times and eventually open my eyes at 8:30 a.m. I spend about 30 minutes on my phone checking notifications and emails.
9 a.m. — I check my work email quickly to make sure nothing urgent has happened this morning. Thankfully not, so I take my dog for his walk. While walking, I scroll Airbnb for a reasonably priced spot in Scottsdale. I’m going to Flagstaff for a wedding in September but will need to spend the week before in Scottsdale so I can see some friends and family. I opt for an Airbnb so I can save money on meals and cook while I’m in town. I choose a home to book and do the pay now/later option so I’m only charged $143.81. $143.81
12:30 p.m. — My 11 a.m. meeting ran a little late so just now I’m breaking for lunch. I head to the bank so I can replace one of my debit cards that the website wouldn’t let me replace online. Once I finish that, I grapple with whether or not to get lunch. Eating out is a huge weakness for me but I’m having a hard time justifying it when I just got groceries yesterday and we still have leftover pizza and wings. I want French fries so I compromise with myself to get a frozen bag from the grocery store to satisfy the craving but also get more bang for my buck since I’ll get multiple servings from the frozen bag for the same price as one small serving from McDonald’s. I also pick up a Coke. I spend $7.44 for the bag of fries and the drink. I get home and heat up the aforementioned wings in the oven while cooking the fries in the air fryer. $7.44
1 p.m. — While eating, I venmo a coworker $10 who took care of sending sympathy flowers on behalf of our department to another teammate whose father recently passed. I’m back in meetings by 2 p.m. $10
7 p.m. — I’ve been rotting in bed since 5:30 p.m. to decompress but now it’s time for dinner. I make rice, chicken, and bok choy. I eat while watching Masterchef Junior. I take my dog out for his nightly walk a little earlier so I don’t need to miss a second of the season premiere of So You Think You Can Dance at 9 p.m. By 11:30 p.m., I’m in bed but spend too much time watching YouTube videos and doomscrolling. I go to sleep far too late.
Daily Total: $161.25

Day Four

8:45 a.m. — I don’t remember turning any of my alarms off but I do know this most recent one interrupted a very odd dream that included me skateboarding (which I cannot do in real life?). Last time I had looked at the clock, it was 3 a.m. I’m exhausted and cannot get up. I snooze my alarm for another hour, intermittently checking my work email from my phone to make sure nothing crazy is happening. By 10 a.m., I’m out of bed. I walk my dog and get ready for an 11 a.m. meeting.
12:30 p.m. — FINALLY free of meetings. I’m free until 2:30 p.m. so I head to shower and eat something. I feel like I have a million things to do so I want to get through these two tasks as quickly as possible. I decide to eat first. I was going to make pasta but didn’t want to wait for a big pot of water to boil so I put on a smaller pot of water to boil so I can make ramen. I sit down to eat, put on a YouTube video, and monitor my Teams app all while stuffing my face with noodles. After, I shower and get dressed. I’m back at my desk by 1:45 p.m. to lock in for another afternoon of meetings.
4:30 p.m. — I’m almost done with my workday when I get a call that my wallet was found! They say I can pick it up during business hours tomorrow.
8 p.m. — I decide to make pasta for dinner. I eat while watching Restaurant Impossible. After, I lay down to do some reading. I take my dog to the bathroom and try to head to bed at a reasonable time since I’ll have to wake up earlier tomorrow so I can get my wallet before work.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — I set my alarm earlier than normal so I could get ready for the day. I need to leave around 8 a.m. to make it to Queens by 9 a.m. when the bank opens. Grateful my wallet was found but it was returned to my bank’s Queens location (understandably since I was in Queens with J. when I lost it). They had said if I didn’t pick it up today, they’d discard it, so this morning is my only option before the work day gets busy. I shower, dress, take my dog out and get in the car. My mom let me use her car today since the EZpass in my car can’t currently be refilled. She asks that I put gas in the car at some point though and gives me $40. I get gas first then to McDonald’s to get a breakfast sandwich and drink ($6.69). I start my hour drive. Thankfully there’s no traffic and by 9:30 a.m., I have my wallet back! I stop at the Dunkin’ next door to the bank to celebrate with an iced coffee and doughnut ($5.25). Then I start the drive back home. $11.94
11 a.m. — I’m back in town and head to my mom’s work to drop off lunch for her since she didn’t have time to grab anything this morning. I get her a wrap from a nearby pizza spot and use some cash she gave me to pay. I stop at Chipotle for lunch for myself ($11.19) and get a burrito. Then I head home to eat quickly before my noon meeting. $11.19
6 p.m. — Afternoon full of meetings. I finally finish up and make the same ramen stir-fry that I made the other night. I lay in bed watching TV and nod off a few times. I wake up in time to watch the premiere of The Masked Singer.
10 p.m. — For some reason, I decide to work some and I’m at my desk until midnight. After I finish up, I head to my room with some crackers and iced tea to watch more TV. I’m going to need some time to decompress again from working so I probably won’t fall asleep for a while.
Daily Total: $23.13

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm in a tizzy since I was dreaming that I overslept and missed my morning meetings. I’m exhausted from working so late so I fall in and out of sleep until the very last second. I’m up by 9 a.m. to make a 9:15 a.m. meeting with enough time to brush my teeth and wash my face. Around 10:15 a.m. I make some toast with almond butter and strawberries quickly to eat during my next call.
12:15 p.m. — I’m finally done with morning meetings. I have my next meeting at 1:30 p.m. I’m going to take my dog out and feed him before getting into the afternoon. My head is spinning from the craziness at work. I’ve been nursing a cup of coffee that I made earlier with the toast so I’m not hungry just yet.
2:30 p.m. — I’m finally hungry and have no meetings to be in. I make some pasta and eat while I’m working. It’s been such a busy day at work I feel like I don’t have a second to myself.
5 p.m. — I make my Teams status “offline” so people stop asking me questions. I take my work laptop to my bed intending to work more but instead, I watch How to Be Single and fall asleep.
6:30 p.m. — My phone vibrates with incoming texts and it wakes me up. J. is confirming our plans for tomorrow. I need to go to Target to get dog food and pill pockets so my dog can take his flea and tick medicine. I’m thinking I might get a burger for dinner while I’m out because I’m feeling lazy tonight.
9 p.m. — I finally make it to Target. I decided to wait for my mom to get home from work before I left in order to protect our street parking spot. I go in for dog food, pill pockets, and some deep conditioner. I get distracted by the clothing section but stay strong and only get the necessities. I spend $25.49 and even saved some money on the dog food. $25.49
9:30 p.m. — The next stop is Five Guys. I pick up two burgers (one for my mom), fries, and drink for $25.69 and then put $2 in the tip jar. $27.69
9:45 p.m. — While waiting for my food to be ready, I buy my train ticket for tomorrow morning. A one-way peak train is $18.25. That meme about leaving your house costs at least $40 now is too true. $18.25
10 p.m. — I’m home. I eat and feed my dog. I take him out and then come back in to shower. I have to wash my hair for my date tomorrow but also up early to make a train into the city for work. It’ll be a long night and and early morning so anticipate no sleep.
Daily Total: $71.43

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — Told you I had to be up early! Our apartment only has one bathroom and since my mom has an “outside job,” I opt to shower first on days I go into my office in an attempt to not interrupt my mom’s daily routine too much. She’s up at 6 a.m., so I’m up just before to get a quick shower in. It’s also date night after work so I put a little extra effort into my hair, makeup, and outfit. I walk my dog and by 7:15 a.m. I’m out the door for a 7:24 a.m. train. I’m actually running a few minutes behind. Luckily we live five minutes from the station, but I still drive fairly quickly. I’m on the platform literally a minute before my train pulls in. I paid for my train ticket last night so I just activate my ticket in the app. I put my headphones in to listen to Ariana Grande’s new album while I wait for the conductor to come through checking tickets.
8:30 a.m. — J. meets me at Grand Central Terminal and we walk to work together. Did I mention J. and I met at work? Our teams don’t work directly together — in fact, he and I didn’t even interact until my boss introduced us one day when we were all in the office. We’ve been seeing each other for a few months and no one at work knows yet. We grab coffee from Starbucks on the walk to the office. I get a tall black coffee and J. orders a grande coffee with almond milk. J. pays. We head to our desks for the day.
11:30 a.m. — J. texts me to see if I want to grab lunch. Yes, I do. I’m starving. We head to Just Salad. I get a buffalo chicken wrap and a coke, and he gets a crispy chicken poblano salad and a seltzer. We pay separately. My meal is $17.11. We head back to our desks for a working lunch. Around 1 p.m., I head to the vending machines to grab a seltzer water for $2.25. $19.36
5:20 p.m. — I had the most productive afternoon. The mix of it being a Friday with no meetings and the office being empty allowed me to really dive into my outstanding work. I log off, pack up my bag, and meet J. at the elevators. We have a dinner reservation at 5:45 p.m. about 20 blocks away so we jump on the subway to save time ($2.90). We eat dinner — I get steak and fries, J. gets a burger, and we both have a glass of wine. J. pays. After we head to our show. $2.90
9:30 p.m. — The show is done; it was really fun. J. walks me back to Grand Central. I didn’t make the 9:52 p.m. train and the next train isn’t until 11:04 p.m. I buy my train ticket ($13.50) on my phone so we can go sit in a ticket holders-only seating area inside the terminal. Around 10:50 p.m. J. walks me to my track and we say our goodbyes. $13.50
12:20 a.m. — I am finally home! I walk my dog, take a quick shower, and have some crackers while watching TV before brushing my teeth and heading to bed. What a week!
Daily Total: $35.76

The Breakdown

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