A Week In Bergen County, NJ, On A $60,000 Salary

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, as part of Your Spending In Your State:a web writer working in finance and accounting who makes $60,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on Cool Ranch Doritos.
Occupation: Web Writer
Industry: Finance & Accounting
Age: 25
Location: Bergen County, New Jersey
Salary: $60,000
Paycheck (Weekly): $1,200 pre-tax
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0. (I'm lucky that my parents still let me live at home since my job is nearby.)
Loan Payments: None. My parents paid for my education.
Health Insurance: $181.26
E-ZPass: Usually around $40.
Phone Bill: $42
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Additional Expenses
Roth IRA Contribution: I make one yearly lump sum contribution of $5,500 (the max amount) around tax season.

Day One

10:45 a.m. — I wake up way past my alarm (whoops) and spend time going through my phone. I have a kickboxing class scheduled for 12:30 with a friend and I'm glad I didn't sleep through it. It's Friday but my friend and I have been off from work all week because our firms (big accounting firms) are closed between Christmas and New Year's. Small blessings, but also kind of a bummer for me since I'm a contract employee, meaning this time off is unpaid. My contract started a few weeks ago and it's so far, so good. I drink a hot coffee with collagen, eat a banana, and then my friend picks me up and we go to the class, which we paid for previously on Groupon. It's our first time so we get free gloves and they really take the time to explain things to us. The class is great and I'm feeling powerful, but before we can escape they try to get us to sign up for a membership. We want more time to think about it and they tell us we can decide after our second class.
2:30 p.m. — I get home and shower and I am DAMN hungry. I make myself a massive sandwich of leftover Christmas roast beef, mayo, and Swiss cheese on a long white roll. I wash it down with leftover coconut cream cake and carrot cake. It's my friend's birthday tonight in NYC so I start to get ready and convince my brother to drive me to the George Washington Bridge so I don't have to take a local bus from my house. I drive over to the liquor store to buy my friend a bottle of wine and Tito's for tonight, as well as a handle of Tito's for New Year's. $62.06
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5 p.m. — Brother drives me to the bridge and it is freezing. I'd usually hop into a stranger's car so that I can get across for free and they can get the carpool E-ZPass rate, but there aren't many cars out on a night like this. Instead, I take the little bus across the bridge, which costs $2. I then refill my MTA card and hop on the subway. The subways are all messed up with the holidays and I end up having to walk across town in the bitter cold. My fingers are numb and I'm ready for a drink. $22
11 p.m. — After a few hours of eating and pre-gaming, we head out to the bar. I buy a few rounds of vodka sodas and beers for myself and the birthday girl and we dance for hours. $47
12 a.m. — Hop into a cab to get to the horrible Port Authority and make it there just in time to catch a 12:30 bus home. $21.35
Daily Total: $152.41

Day Two

11 a.m. — Whoa. I am hungover despite feeling good when I went to bed. I was supposed to wake up at 9 to drive to Hartford and spend a few nights at my cousin's house for New Year's Eve. I crawl out of bed late and manage to hop into the shower and get my bag packed. I don't have the stomach to eat yet so I grab water, get into my pickup truck, and hit the road.
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3 p.m. — After hours of slow driving (due to the snow) and terrible traffic, I arrive in West Hartford and call my cousin (who is also slightly hungover) to ask about the snack situation. She tells me it's dire so I stop at CVS to pick up staples: Cool Ranch Doritos, peanut M&Ms (half-off cause they're Christmas-themed!), Cheetos, Smartfood, and a ginger ale for my stomach/hangover situation. I get to the house and land on the couch with everyone else, where we all catch up and decide what to have for dinner while eating all our snacks. $17.49
6 p.m. — Our friends want to go out but my cousin, her boyfriend (who lives with her), and I would prefer to stay in. I am on Team Order Food And Never Leave The Couch. I desperately want Thai food so I suggest that, and then my cousin's boyfriend and I order green curry and panang curry, respectively. The girls order Chinese food and my cousin's boyfriend, who is a saint, goes out into the cold to pick up everyone's orders. When he gets back, I Venmo him and eat a third of the curry before my hangover haunts me again and I need a nap. After a nap, I wake up and we play a few rounds of Catch Phrase and Pictionary while the others have a few drinks. We go to bed early because tomorrow (New Year's Eve) is gonna be a long one. $15.64
Daily Total: $33.13
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Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up feeling a hell of a lot better and crawl into my cousin's bed while her boyfriend and the girls clean up downstairs to prepare for the New Year's Eve party we are having. If there's something that my cousin and I are good at, it's avoiding cleaning. We're not totally horrible though, so after I heat up my leftover curry and she eats a bagel, we go to the grocery store. We stop at the McDonald's drive-through because my cousin wants a coffee, and I pay ($1). We make it to ShopRite and buy the stuff we need to make food for the party later. I decide on croissants wrapped around brie and jam, and I buy seltzer as well. My cousin is making meatballs and a croissant ring stuffed with chicken, sauce, and mozzarella. Yummy situations all around. $14.16
7 p.m. — We get home, laze around for a bit, and then start getting ready for the evening. People start coming at around 7 and we eat and drink way too much: prosecco spiked with rose liqueur to start, followed by John Daly's for my cousin and me. We ring in the new year, play a few games of pong and flip cup, and then my cousin and I sneak off to bed at 2.
Daily Total: $14.16

Day Four

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling great, and pack up so I can leave and beat the traffic home. But after saying my goodbyes, I try to turn on the car and it won't start. Long story short: It's too damn cold and the diesel has gelled. My cousin's boyfriend tries to help me jump-start it in this -8-degree weather (God bless his soul) but nothing is working. We go back inside and eat the McDonald's sandwiches that the girls picked up for us. New year, same us. We try to jump the truck again but nothing happens. Naturally, I'm blocking in everyone else in the driveway, so we have to push the truck to the back as best we can so that the other cars can drive out over the lawn. AAA won't answer us and 2018 is doing me dirty.
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3:30 p.m. — I come to terms with the fact that I will not get this truck moved and abandon it. I book a bus ticket for Hartford to NYC and leave the keys with my cousin and her boyfriend before they drop me off at the bus stop. Miserable, I wait on line in the cold for the bus, which is late. I also pull a muscle in my neck during the stress of the day and cannot move my head. I get on the bus and the guy sitting next to me won't get off the phone. I'm over this day so I tell him he's rude and he finally gets off. By some miracle, the bus gets into NYC on time. I take the subway to 175th Street and then the little $2 bus across the bridge. My mom picks me up on the other side and feels bad enough for me that she buys me a Five Guys burger and fries. $25
Daily Total: $25

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up for work after a terrible sleep and start crying from the pain in my neck. I definitely have a cold now. But since I've had the past 10 days off, I know I can't pass up on work today. First thing's first, I cancel the kickboxing class that I scheduled for tonight. I have a feeling this neck issue isn't going anywhere for a while. I drink a hot coffee with collagen and half and half while I get ready for work, and make two fried eggs and shovel them into my mouth as I run out the door. I drive my dad's van to work (and he takes a different truck) since mine is still abandoned in Connecticut and walk in a few minutes late. I catch up on emails and get to a few writing assignments.
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12:45 p.m. — I bundle up and leave to get lunch. I usually meal prep for the week, but given that I got home at 9 p.m. on New Year's Day, there was no time for that. I go to the salad bar and grab lettuce, kale, broccoli, cucumbers, chicken, feta, and a bean and wheat berry salad. I throw balsamic garlic dressing on it and head back to the office. The rest of the afternoon goes slow since I feel so crappy. $9.28
5:45 p.m. — I get home from work and eat turkey soup while catching up on reality TV. I usually like to read after work (my first book of the year is The Light Between Oceans) but I'm tired and in too much pain to care. I watch Vanderpump Rules and revel in the gossip before taking Advil PM and going to sleep.
Daily Total: $9.28

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for work while drinking my collagen coffee. I had the energy to make pumpkin overnight oats (canned pumpkin, oats, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, honey, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nutmeg) last night before going to bed, so I bring that along with me to work and eat at my desk. I got a Fitbit for Christmas and decide to get my steps in today by taking a few walks around the office. Later, I do some work and then catch up with my cousin. It looks like there's going to be a blizzard tomorrow and my cousin and I are panicking about the truck situation. She has to park her cars in the driveway because there will be a street parking suspension and my truck is still stuck in the way. Not a good day. It's about 25 degrees today and my cousin is going to try and start the truck when she gets home. Prayers up that it moves because if not, I will have to pay to get it towed.
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1 p.m. — I dug through the fridge this morning and managed to find food to bring for lunch. I have chicken and potatoes in a creamy lemon sauce. Mmmm.
5 p.m. — I stop at Trader Joe's to stock up on the essentials I will need. I like to get my cooking oils and shelf items here because they're usually cheaper, while I get my meats and produce at my local grocery store. I pick up ghee, coconut aminos, Turkish honey, yuzu hot sauce (I'm VERY interested in this), Turkish dried figs, New Zealand sweet apple rings (dried apples), kalamata olives in EVOO, canned wild Alaskan pink salmon, nutritional yeast (I literally don't know why I bought this, but I always end up with a few rogue items when I go to TJ's), unsweetened organic pea protein powder, prosciutto slices, riced cauliflower, and a frozen seafood blend. $67.91
6 p.m. — After a few days of thinking about it, I decide to buy a membership to the kickboxing place. I know it's a huge expense, but I also know I will really enjoy it and that it'll supplement my home workouts. The manager said the gym would honor the 2017 pricing if I signed up after my second class but I haven't been back since my neck was killing me. I go today to see if they will still honor the pricing (my friend already signed up) and they do! Somehow, I get a great deal for a 60-class package: All told, it works out to just under $9 per class. I hand over my credit card and rip off the Band-Aid, praying that my neck will feel better soon. $494
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7 p.m. — I get home and there's pulled pork and a red cabbage, red, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro slaw waiting for me. Damn am I happy. I eat dinner, watch Jeopardy, get into bed, play and lose HQ Trivia, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $561.91

Day Seven

8:54 a.m. — SNOW DAY! The offices are closed because of the "bomb cyclone" and I relish in the extra sleep. I log onto my computer in my pajamas, sip hot coffee with collagen and half and half, and send emails and work on a few campaigns. I'm not the most productive when I work from home, so I try my best. I eat oatmeal cooked in unsweetened vanilla almond milk with sautéed apples, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a big scoop of almond butter on top.
2 p.m. — The weather is so bad outside so there is no leaving the house. I scramble up eggs with Italian sausage and onion and then clean my room. After another half hour of work, I take a shower and ice my neck.
6 p.m. — I help my brother shovel and clear the snow off the cars outside, even though I am still in pain (maybe not the smartest move) and then have leftover pulled pork with cabbage slaw. I finish the evening off with the last slice of coconut cream cake, watch Jeopardy, and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $0
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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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.
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