A Week In Albany, NY, On A $47,000 Income

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Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a music therapist working in education who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on apples from a farm.
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Occupation: Board Certified Music Therapist
Industry: Education
Age: 26
Location: Albany, NY
Income: $30/hour for music therapy (about $40,000 annually) plus $7,000 for part-time nannying
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): ~$2,500 for music therapy plus $800 from nannying
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $450 for my half. (I split rent with my boyfriend.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I'm thankful that my degree was paid for by grants/scholarships and my parents' 529 plan.)
Mutual Fund Investments: $750
Roth IRA: $0 (but I plan to start contributing ASAP)
Phone: $30 (Virgin Mobile is the BEST.)
Internet: $65
Utilities: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
Car Insurance: $73
Renter's Insurance: $16
Netflix: $0 (My sister pays.)
Spotify: $10
Hulu: $5
Improv Team Coaching: $10
Nonprofit Donation: $10
Adobe Creative Cloud: $20 (This is a gift to my boyfriend.)

Day One

9 a.m. — I groggily look at my phone for a few minutes before getting up to feed our foster cat and make coffee with my Aeropress and frozen waffles (classic). I research the possibility of replacing my computer's hard drive, weighing the DIY effort it'll take vs. getting a new laptop.
11 a.m. — My boyfriend, M., and I drive to Best Buy and talk to about five different customer service people before finding one who can actually find what I'm looking for. What's a $100 part replacement compared to $1,500+ for a new laptop? $100
12 p.m. — Grocery shopping! M. and I try our best to meal plan, but it's hard to figure out who should cook what and when during the week. We buy ingredients for a chicken marsala slow cooker meal, salami, cheese, fruits/veggies for my lunches, and my favorite sparkling water. M. pays today, and I finish our veggie chili leftovers from last week for lunch at home.
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1 p.m. — Time for community yoga class at my favorite studio. Ironically, I rarely went when the studio was five minutes away, but since they moved 15 minutes away, I'm a regular! It's a fun and challenging class, and I come out feeling like spaghetti. I usually donate at least $10, but I'm low on cash today. I'll make up for it next time! $5
6 p.m. — I eat leftover steak for dinner and pack clementines, carrots, celery with peanut butter, and salami and cheese for lunch tomorrow. I almost always have to eat lunch in my car due to driving around for work, so it's finger food all the way!
11 p.m. — I shower, wash my hair (I've recently discovered the “squish to condish” and “plopping” methods for curly hair — lifesaving!), use vitamin A retinol cream and moisturizer on my face, and medicate the cat's ears (this cat is so high maintenance, but I love him) before sneaking into bed. As a med student on rotations, M. is usually asleep long before I am.
Daily Total: $105

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up from a crazy dream that's hard to shake, groggily make my Aeropress coffee and cereal, and feed the cat. My job involves seeing students at multiple schools, and I start my day today at a school 30 minutes away. I listen to the local NPR station — my knowledge of current events is directly related to my excessive driving!
11:45 a.m. — I eat the finger foods I packed last night and have a picnic in the park. I'm supposed to be seeing another student now, but there's a scheduling conflict, so I actually get a lunch time! Music therapy is all about facilitating therapeutic change as it relates to each client's individual goals, and in my case, I'm singing to the kids almost 100% of the time. Needless to say, I'm grateful for the unexpected break.
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2 p.m. — It's my last session of the day and MY GUITAR SUDDENLY DEVELOPS A HUGE CRACK. I'm afraid of what a repair will cost... I lament to a friend, and then we talk about her upcoming visit to NYC in a month. All of my closest friends are scattered around the country, so I can't wait to spend a fun weekend with her!
6 p.m. — I arrive home from my second job as a nanny after picking up a couple of dresses left out for me by someone in my neighborhood. I'm part of a Facebook group/movement called “Buy Nothing,” and the idea is to be able to offer and ask for goods and services from within our community. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure :).
7 p.m. — M. has baked our favorite Newman's Own frozen pizza, and we plop in front of the couch for a few old episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I text with one of my BFFs on the west coast who says she's likely to elope within a year...can't wait to talk more about that when I see her over Thanksgiving!
10 p.m. — I pack lots of small snacks for lunch on-the-go tomorrow, shower (not washing hair tonight), put vitamin A retinol cream and moisturizer on my face, medicate the cat's ears, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up, make coffee, eat cereal, and spend waaayyy too long deciding what to wear. I've contemplated doing the capsule wardrobe thing, but I run into a road block when I think about how often my clothing needs to be washed when worn around children...there's no way I could wear the same top twice in a week!
11:30 a.m. — I'm rushing from school to school all day today, so there's no time to stop for lunch! I have to eat my carrots, oranges, nuts, salami, and cheese as I drive. I miss the camaraderie of interacting with adult humans during the workday.
6 p.m. — I pick up my birth control on the way home. This is my last month on my parent's insurance, and I just found out that my employer may be able to offer health insurance soon — a rarity in my small field. I respond to work emails while M. makes chicken sausage orzo with tomatoes and spinach. He's the best because he cooks when I desperately don't want to!
7 p.m. — M. and I head to the local ice cream shop to celebrate our friend's birthday. He and all his friends are medical students, and by now I'm used to being around 100% medicine talk at social gatherings. I get a scoop of “Stoney's Dream” in a chocolate-covered waffle bowl. (I didn't realize until now that so many of the ice cream flavors at this place are psychedelically named, haha.) M pays :).
9:30 p.m. — I shower, exfoliate, put Vitamin A retinol cream and moisturizer on face, take care of the cat, and sneak into bed. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to spend my birthday tomorrow...
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up SO grateful that there's no school today due to a holiday! M. has left me cute and loving birthday sticky notes all around the bathroom mirror, as well as a framed, self-made caricature of us. Be still, my heart! I make coffee, eat yogurt and granola, and decide to go to a new yoga class this morning. Namaste! $15
10:45 a.m. — Yoga was incredibly challenging and fun, and I decide to continue the self-care festivities by shopping at a nearby consignment store. I come away with a work-appropriate dress and tunic for the new season. $30
12 p.m. — I eat leftover orzo, paint my toenails, and watch Netflix while doing most of the dishes. If there's anything worse than doing chores on your birthday, it's walking around a messy house on your birthday. I call my grandpa's assisted living home and, incredibly, he's available to talk with me on the phone!
6 p.m. — I saw my nannying kiddo today, and I talk to another long-distance friend as I drive home. M. and I open presents from his parents (his birthday is only three days after mine) and go out to eat at a Mediterranean place I've been meaning to try. M. pays, and the moussaka is amazing!! We get baklava to go so he can light a candle on it for me :). I call my parents later and thank them for their gift card and donation to the cat rescue organization I volunteer for.
10 p.m. — Oh yeah, I have work tomorrow...I quickly go over my session plans and songs before taking care of the cat and showering. I check Facebook (how can you not on your birthday?) and notice that my fundraiser for the cat rescue was much more successful than I expected! I'm so happy with today.
Daily Total: $45

Day Five

7 p.m. — I'm up and feeling mysteriously joyous about the day, given that I'm not a morning person. I pack the same little snacks for lunch and squeeze in yoga by watching my favorite YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene. I think I love her videos the best because she's a fellow native Texan!
11:30 a.m. — I facilitated very fun morning individual and group sessions (my middle schoolers are the best), and now I have to drive to another town before returning to this same school in the afternoon. I eat my little packed snacks in the car with the windows down, enjoying this weather.
2 p.m. — I'm done with music therapy for the day, and instead of going to the library to write my session notes like I usually do, I go buy a birthday gift for M. I walk away with a birthday card, a new anatomy-themed game for him (already gave him the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, but I couldn't resist this), and an on-sale necklace for me. $42
6 p.m. — I fill up on gas after my nanny job, get a free drink from the gas station, and reheat leftovers from last night's moussaka (still incredible). M. comes home and we snuggle for 20 minutes before I leave for my improv team practice. I love the improv theatre community so much, and we always have a blast! $25
11 p.m. — My hair is washed, curl cream is in, retinol cream and moisturizer are applied, cat is cared for, and it's time for sleep.
Daily Total: $67

Day Six

7:30 p.m. — I'm out of the house earlier than usual today because of a client who's only available on Friday mornings (hooray). I make coffee, eat a small Greek yogurt cup, and pack a kid's Clif bar for on-the-go breakfast later, plus my finger foods for on-the-go lunches.
12:45 p.m. — I have 15 minutes to eat my salami, cheese, carrots, and pretzel sticks in a school parking lot before my last two sessions. I desperately need an energy recharge!
3 p.m. — It's "Food Friday" with the kiddo I nanny, so we pick a recipe to make (no-bake cookies) and head to the grocery store to buy ingredients. It's adorable how he tries to be helpful. I pay with my card but will get reimbursed later. He has a lot of fun putting the cookies together, and I'm proud of him for not sneaking bites before they're done...unlike me ;). ($8.50 expensed)
6 p.m. — I forgot to put our chicken marsala in the Crock-Pot this morning, so M. did it when he got home around 2. Apparently, the marsala sauce I thought we had in the fridge was actually *masala* sauce, so it's going to be an interesting dish...good thing his friends invited us out to an Indian restaurant tonight! We split the bill. $18
10 p.m. — I write M.'s card and wrap his gift while he showers, then take my turn and we head to bed...it's his birthday tomorrow!
Daily Total: $18

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — After getting up at 5 a.m. to feed the cat (because otherwise, he bodyslams the door), M. and I head out to the best local brunch place with four of our friends. I order a mimosa carafe for the table and we all enjoy the first morning of fall. $44
11 a.m. — Apple picking time! The farm is PACKED and we wait in a long line to get hot apple cider and cider donuts before walking to the pick-your-own section. The half-bushel bags get super heavy after a while...can this count as exercise? We have lots of fun posing for pictures and making bad apple puns. $11
5 p.m. — The chicken marsala/masala dish is...different, to say the least. It is so like me to mess up something easy like that! M., the cat, and I spend the rest of the evening snuggling on the couch and watching a movie.
11 p.m. — I shower and wash my hair, follow with leave-in conditioner, put on retinol cream and moisturizer, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $55
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.
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