A Week In New York City On A $90,000 Income

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 marketer working in tech who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on mini Hershey's bars.
Occupation: Brand Marketer
Industry: Tech
Age: 26
Location: New York City
Income: $90,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,959 (I also do freelance work sporadically, for which I get paid around $2,000 at a time.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: I pay $1,400, and my boyfriend pays the remainder of our $6,700/month apartment. This is because he makes about six times more than I do, and really wanted an apartment that I obviously could not pay half the rent for.
Student Loans: $0 (My tuition was paid for by a combination of inheritance from my grandparents and parental support. I am very lucky.)
Credit Card: ~$300 (I have $900 left to pay off.)
Acorns Investment: $10 plus auto round-ups
Acorns Later: This is what I'm using as a Roth IRA, which I just set up. I'm new to the retirement fund situation because I've never worked for a company that provided a 401(k). I just started contributing $25/week, which I plan to up once I've paid off my credit card.
Netflix: $0 (I use my boyfriend's account.)
Spotify Premium: $9.99
Adobe Photoshop: $60 (Used only for freelance work, so I'll be able to write it off hopefully for taxes).
Savings: $600

Day One

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off, but my office is a ghost town until 10. I like to have a leisurely wake up, so I snooze the alarm. A few minutes later, my boyfriend (who woke up at 7:30) crawls back into bed with me. We are moving backwards. I read theSkimm, The Hustle, and The Monocle Minute on my phone, and then get out of bed around 9 and do my every-damn-morning routine: Avène everything. I've dealt with rosacea and acne my entire life, and the only routine that has kept my skin calm is comprised solely of products for babies made from thermal spring water developed by French dermatologists a hundred years ago. I get major trendy skincare FOMO. I put some peanut butter and chopped dates on celery and start my one-mile walk to work.
9:30 a.m. — Today is one of those glorious, sideways-rain days we all just love so much here in New York. I pop into Starbucks and get a medium vanilla coffee with steamed soy milk. $4.95
9:31 a.m. — Spill entire medium vanilla coffee all over my pants and the brand new Barbour jacket I stole from my boyfriend's closet this morning as I struggle to open my umbrella on the sidewalk. I scream a string of expletives, and a West Village mother cups her hands over her child's ears and gapes at me in horror. Good morning, world!
10 a.m. — Arrive at work, catch up on emails, and give feedback on creative projects. Side note about office life: Does anyone else live in silent, freezing misery all day long? I break from work to text my friend C. about the ballet we want to see. We found two amazing seats for only $75 each, which is suspicious. They don't even have a “partial view” tag or anything. We choose to believe this is serendipity and jump on them. I pay, and she Venmos me. I throw in a few bucks as a donation at checkout. $100
1:30 p.m. — I go to break out my sad salad when I remember we have a work lunch today at a Thai place. TBH, I hate eating exciting lunches because I have digestion problems triggered by delicious things like garlic and onions and oil, but I don't want to earn a reputation as Girl We Shouldn't Invite To Lunch. I browse the menu online. It looks like they have a few delightfully bland veggie and brown rice options. I order one with no sauce at the restaurant. Our boss covers it.
5 p.m. — I am a MAJOR sugar addict (plot twist!). I'm trying to cut back because of stomach pain, but I feel like ONE mini Hershey's bar won't kill me. I buy two mini Hershey's bars and a hot tea ($2.98). I savor the high as I browse Goodreads and put books on hold at the library (Where The Crawdads Sing, Beartown, Three Things About Elsie, and Dark Places). I recently moved down the street from a library, and my life has improved tenfold. I just finished reading Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, and would not recommend to anyone. Zero stars. Don't read. $2.98
6:30 p.m. — It's my friend D.'s birthday today, and instead of having the celebration on the weekend prior like a normal person, he is having it on a Monday. However, my friend situation is growing dire (I have very few friends left in NYC), and I am fundamentally against flaking culture. I hop on the L train (I have money on a random subway card), stop at a bakery to buy a box of giant cookies ($21.75), and bop across the street to the liquor store for a bottle of bourbon ($38.50). It's not a birthday dinner without presents, IMO. $60.25
9:45 p.m. — D. is a photographer who has done work for this restaurant, so they hook him up with a good deal on a family-style meal of wine, salad, pasta, steak, fish, and cake. I nibble at dinner and then eat a slice of cake the size of my face, as per usual. I sit next to a Russian girl and ask her about Russia. (I would read Anna Karenina every day of my life if I had the time) and try to get her to describe what American accents sound like. (This is a question that will eat at me for my entire life.) Post-dinner, we head to the rooftop bar. I don't get a drink, but hang out for about an hour to show birthday support before Ubering home ($28.75). $28.75
11 p.m. — I Venmo the birthday boy $80 towards the dinner when I get home. My boyfriend is working late, so I head to bed around midnight. $80
Daily Total: $276.93

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up for an 8 a.m. call. I'm working from home this morning because the second half of our sectional is arriving today (after they delivered the wrong piece twice). My stomach is killing me, probably from the weird combo of dinner food and aggressive cake-eating, so I drink a big glass of lemon water and wait for my stomach to calm down before I make my peanut butter/date/celery situation.
9 a.m. — Couch got delivered early! Two months later, our sectional is complete. I start my walk to work and stop at a local coffee shop for a large vanilla coffee with oat milk, which I do not spill at all! $3.25
10 a.m. — Work day starts with a PR emergency, so I spend all morning writing pacifying emails to a dozen different people and strategizing with our agency. Afterwards, I take my day-old wilted salad from the fridge and eat it in the lounge area. I supplement with Skinny Pop from the office.
5 p.m. — My stomach feels like there is a small fire burning inside of it, but I'm also hungry? I tentatively eat a granola bar (also from the office) and leave for my cardio hot yoga class. Sweating it out usually helps.
8:15 p.m. — I walk home from yoga feeling a little more chill and in less pain. It's about a mile walk, so I listen to My Favorite Murder. I pop into the market under my building and pick up a brown rice and avocado roll and veggie potstickers for dinner. I then ponder the extensive bougie chocolate bar offerings, select a particularly artisanal-looking coconut-and-pecan option, and check out ($19.09). I spend the remainder of the evening sprawled across every square inch of our new, complete, fully-assembled sectional while watching World of Dance reruns. My boyfriend is working late, so I head to bed alone at 12:45 a.m. $19.09
Daily Total: $22.34

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — My boyfriend's alarm goes off and wakes me up. He leaves, and I read the news until 9. Then I make peanut butter/dates/celery for breakfast and get a calendar reminder that I have work drinks tonight. I brush my hair and eyebrows in anticipation. I'm not used to putting this much effort into my routine, so now I'm running late. I slip into Starbucks and get an iced vanilla coffee with almond milk ($3.43). PSA: the almond milk at Starbucks is nasty. $3.43
10:30 a.m. — I'm late. I walk into the office briskly, pretending to wrap up an important phone call so that it seems like I have been pacing just outside the office, handling business. Nobody notices or cares that I am late. I spend the afternoon doing some planning, and then break out another sad lunch salad and grab some popcorn and a granola bar. I also book a dance class at my favorite workout studio ($35) for this upcoming Saturday and a different dance class at my second-favorite studio ($35) for Sunday. Usually I buy a monthly membership at one studio, but I'm debating this month still. $70
4 p.m. — Leave for networking drinks with my coworker. It's pouring rain, so he calls us an Uber. We meet up with colleagues at a bar, and typical small chat ensues. They all get a few rounds of drinks while I nurse a ginger ale (expensed), and then I excuse myself after about two hours because I have to get to pilates. (I prepaid for the class.)
8:15 p.m. — An hour of muscle torture later, I start my trek home. Then I shower and heat up a can of Amy's Organic Quinoa, Kale, and Red Lentil soup for dinner with some Mary's Gone Crackers. I also book a last-minute 8 a.m. SoulCycle class for tomorrow morning and cancel my booked HIIT class ($36). I hate morning workouts, and the idea of burpees and bright lights at 8 a.m. sounds miserable right now. At least SoulCycle is in the dark and half-seated. I do my every-damn-night routine: Avène everything and Biologique Recherche P50 (if you're debating, BITE, because it's so good) topped off with Biologique Recherche face cream.
11 p.m. — My boyfriend comes home! He has to do more work, but he watches Dirty Dancing with me. I grew up without television, so I'm catching up on decades' worth of movies. I head to bed alone around midnight while he finishes work.
Daily Total: $73.43

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — Omg LOL. My last night self was ambitious. I immediately snooze the alarm until 7:45. Then I force myself with every ounce of willpower and absolutely zero motivation to get up and walk the four blocks to SoulCycle. I use a leftover gift card balance for shoes and water.
8:45 a.m. — Limp home. I clean our kitchen and guest bathroom and hang out with my boyfriend, who is slowly getting ready for work. Once he leaves, I shower and then have the brilliant idea to turn my sad desk salad into a thrilling desk wrap!! I dump all the salad in the middle of a whole wheat wrap. Then…try to wrap it? Doesn't work. I attempt to salvage it by holding it all together with a bunch of tinfoil. I choose to ignore what will happen once the tinfoil is removed.
9:45 a.m. — I make two celery sticks with peanut butter and NO dates, because I'm in charge of my own wild destiny, and walk to work listening to The Memory Palace. I'm pretty drained. I don't get the endorphin rush people say they get from morning workouts. I feel like I've just survived being chased by a bear and need to go lay down. I head to my favorite coffee shop for a large vanilla coffee with oat milk. $4
1:30 p.m. — I have never failed as badly at anything in my life as I did with this salad wrap. Skinny Pop ILYSM.
3 p.m. — I text my friend R. to see if she wants to go to an improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade tomorrow. She's into it. We've been trying to come up with weekend plans that don't revolve solely around drinking and eating. I buy both tickets, and she Venmos me for her half. $13.50
6 p.m. — Out of left field, my friend T., who I haven't seen in forever, texts me that she's near my apartment and wants to come over. I dip out of work and stop to pick up a bottle of wine. On my way to the checkout, I also pick up a pity bottle of Malbec from a guy offering free tastings ($43.31). I don't even like Malbec. I stop for groceries, and it ends up being a more expensive trip than normal — I don't keep snacks around the house, but I grab some in honor of Girls' Night. I buy peanut butter, English muffins, tuna, avocados, chives, parsley, dill, lettuce, cucumbers, dinner rolls, a bag of popcorn, and trail mix. And a donut ($46.21). $89.52
8 p.m. — T. arrives and literally rolls into my apartment like: “I could really go for some Malbec.” We watch Shark Tank and catch up while snacking. We decide to order a proper dinner of tacos, which I pay for, and she Venmos me her share ($22.35 each). After she leaves around 11, I do my laundry and prep salad dressing for the weekend (vegan mayo, olive oil, fresh dill, fresh parsley, fresh chives, salt, and pepper). My boyfriend comes home around 12, which is so early for him that he actually asks if I want to watch an episode of Sharp Objects. No. No, I would like to go to bed. Do my every-damn-night routine and fall asleep. $22.35
Daily Total: $129.37

Day Five

7:25 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I actually get out of bed! But my boyfriend catches my foot and pulls me back. So it's his fault I snooze for another ten minutes. I finally get up at 7:45, and now I'm going to be late for pilates (booked with old pass). I throw on workout clothes, pack a quick lunch salad and a whole wheat dinner roll, and then book it to pilates.
9:20 a.m. — Can't feel my legs. I stop for a coffee on my way to work. $3.61
10 a.m. — Arrive at work, grab a handful of almonds, and start cranking on training documents for new team members. I also check out some hotels because my boyfriend and I are attending a wedding next month and decided to make a weekend trip out of it. My boyfriend has much more expensive taste in hotels than I do or can afford, so when we go on trips, he generally pays. I usually contribute a few dinners or an activity within my budget. I find a nice B&B, email it to him, and he books it.
2 p.m. — Break out my lunch. Much less gross than the rest of the week's lunches! While I eat, one of my best hometown friends texts our group chat reminding me that I have to send our other friend a wedding gift! I check out her registry on Crate & Barrel. She's not a “treat yourself” kind of girl, so the list is mostly essentials. I find one option that seems like a fun luxury treat (sterling silver photo frames), and buy four. I choose to pay extra for gift wrap. I love presents!! $218.13
4:30 p.m. — I'm pulling up my jeans in the bathroom and literally rip two of the belt loops straight off. This is my own fault. I never buy new jeans and only own two pairs. I kick myself for balling out on those stupid picture frames like I'm freaking Daddy Warbucks. I leave work and walk around the corner to Aritzia, where I find a pair of KILLER Citizens jeans. They're so good, I make a note in my phone of the exact style so I can eventually buy one in every color. I also pick up two tops, but once I do all the math in my head, I immediately drop the two tops and stick with just the jeans, which are a splurge on their own. An investment piece, right? Right?? $235
5:30 p.m. — I get back to work and see that my coworker left a big salad on my desk, since there's catered food at the office tonight. I eat half and save the rest.
6:30 p.m. — Race out of work because I'm supposed to meet R. in an hour! I speed to my apartment, drop my things off, and call an Uber. It cancels on me. I call another — it also cancels on me. This happens often enough that I'm thinking there is some sort of driver-facing warning on my Uber account. Thankfully, there's a taxi outside my apartment. I hop in a cab and take it to Times Square ($10.55 with tip). $10.55
7 p.m. — I'm instantly reminded of why we never come here. BUT we've been wanting to check out this classic bar, and the theater is nearby, so it's now or never. And it's super fun! There's a piano player and the cocktails are delicious ($18.30 with tip). We each nurse one drink until it's time to walk to the show. At the theater, I buy us each a big glass of wine (you have to be a little tipsy for an improv show) and R. Venmos me for her half ($8). The show is glaringly mediocre. $26.30
10:30 p.m. — My boyfriend texted me during the show that he's home early. I grab a taxi ($11.34 with tip), and we open the bottle of wine I bought earlier this week and snack on a big bowl of popcorn. We watch the last two episodes of Sharp Objects. (I have to say — I felt like it was really predictable. But still enjoyable to watch. In a gross, messed up way.) We pass out around 1:30 a.m. $11.34
Daily Total: $504.93

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Up and at ‘em. I have a dance workout at 9 a.m. I laid out my workout clothes next to the bed last night, so I get ready quickly and still somehow manage to be running late. I walk halfway and am not making good time, so I grab a taxi. $4.35
10:30 a.m. — As someone who could barely run the mile in high school, dance cardio has been a game changer. I meander back to my apartment listening to The Memory Palace and My Favorite Murder. On the way, I stop at the library to pick up three books on hold and at my local coffee shop for an iced coffee with oat milk ($5 with tip). When I get home, I sprawl on the floor of my boyfriend's office while he works, talking at him, and clean the apartment for an hour. Once it's all fresh, I sit down with my laptop and do some graphic design work for the brands I freelance for. I eat the rest of my salad from yesterday for lunch. $5
3 p.m. — I curl up on the couch with my new book, As Wide As the Sky, and a glass of wine. This book is not gripping me — it feels a little pandering. My boyfriend finally finishes his work, and we head out for a BBQ on his friend's roof. We pick up a bottle of wine to bring ($28, boyfriend pays) and then grab a cab ($10.45, boyfriend pays). One of the girls there brought her new puppy, so it's instantly the best BBQ I've ever attended. I get a little anxious when they start taking hot dog or hamburger orders (I'm not an enthusiastic meat eater), but the host's wife has a veggie burger for me!
7 p.m. — The second part of this evening's plan is to go to the concert of a band I've never heard of, but my boyfriend did not inform me that NONE of the other girls are going. And the host of the BBQ already bought me a ticket. So it's just me, my boyfriend, and all the husbands/boyfriends while the girls hang back and drink wine. I would have loved to hang back and drink wine. My boyfriend pays for our Uber and everyone's train tickets for the LIRR to Queens. Once at the venue, I get myself a rum and lemonade cocktail. $16
9 p.m. — I still have no idea what band this is. My boyfriend gets me another cocktail to numb the pain of sitting through this random concert with a group of his fraternity brothers. Finally, FINALLY, it ends, and we all Uber back to Manhattan. Those lemonades hit me hard, and I pass out as soon as we get home, around midnight.
Daily Total: $25.35

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready to go help set up for opening day at the boutique of a brand I freelance for. I went to school for fashion and started out in the industry, but found the culture wasn't for me. My side hustles let me still enjoy the fun, creative parts. I drink the rest of my iced coffee from yesterday and have some trail mix for breakfast, which is just a socially acceptable, healthy way to eat peanuts and M&Ms.
12 p.m. — After a fun and busy morning decorating the store and styling merchandise, R. meets me, and we decide we want ice cream. We try to avoid dairy, so we stop by Grom for sorbet (lemon and wild blueberry, $6.50) and then sit on a bench in Washington Square Park near a jazz band. She's moving away soon, and I'm going through the stages of grief. Right now I am at Bargaining, so I spend most of the afternoon trying to convince her that she could live rent-free in my apartment in exchange for walking the dog we are adopting. I assure her my boyfriend would be SO fine with it!! $6.50
3:30 p.m. — Dance class. Afterward, I walk home and snack on some popcorn while my boyfriend finishes work. Then we walk to a nearby bar so he can watch a football game. I know nothing about sports, but I love a festive atmosphere, so assign me a team to cheer for, put me in a crowded bar, and I'm real into it. He has to take work calls intermittently throughout, but it's nice to have some time with just him! I have rosé, which is predictably awful, because who orders rosé at a sports bar. I switch to a Bloody Mary. My boyfriend pays. At halftime, we walk to a pizza spot where he gets a few slices, and I eat his crusts like a weird, symbiotic parasite.
8 p.m. — We walk home, and I pour myself more rosé while my boyfriend orders us dinner from a Middle Eastern restaurant. I get a chicken kebab and some hummus. We watch The Sinner while we eat, and then pass out by 12.
Daily Total: $6.50
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Have you been working for at least 8 years and seen your salary increase or fluctuate? If so, fill out this form for a chance to be featured on our Salary Story series!
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here! In particular, we're looking for diaries from Hawaii, Maine, New Mexico, and North Dakota.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series