A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $52,000 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: a coordinator of family services at a domestic violence shelter who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on green tea ice cream.
Occupation: Coordinator of Family Services
Industry: Social Work
Age: 29
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,311
Additional Freelance Jobs
Digital Marketing Research: $30/hour, $1,000/month
Crisis Hotline: $24/hour, usually around $350/month
Private Practice: $22/hour, usually around $450/month
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,022 (I share a four-bedroom apartment with three roommates, and I have my own full bathroom.)
Graduate School Loan Payment: $190 is the required minimum, but I usually pay around $300.
ClassPass: $125
Spotify: $9.99
MoviePass: $9.99
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on the family plan still!)
Gas, Internet & Electric: $60
Metrocard: $121
Therapy: $400

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up early to prep for work — I don't usually work on Saturdays, but every couple of weeks my coworkers and I rotate who's on call on the weekends. I've always wanted to ride my bike to work, but have been really intimidated by the 22-mile roundtrip trek. This morning, though, I'm going for it! I fuel up with a Larabar and a banana and chug a few glasses of water. Then I pack my bag for the day and make sure I bring a change of clothes.
9 a.m. — Whew! Somehow those 11 miles seemed so easy. I love riding my bike through the city, and on this particular ride I got to see so many different neighborhoods — from Greenpoint to Long Island City to midtown. I put my bags down in my office and head to the local grocery store to pick up a bag of grapes ($8) and a protein smoothie ($5). I work at a domestic violence shelter and know that I need to be in tip-top shape physically and emotionally to best serve my clients, and that means feeding myself well. $13
11 a.m. — Work is slow on Saturday, so I browse Streeteasy for apartments in Brooklyn that I can't afford. I send a few to my brother, who is also a social worker, and we go back and forth on which places we'd want to buy. He owns his home in Baltimore, and though I'm happy for him, it bums me out to think about how hard it is to buy in the city.
1 p.m. — I eat the entire bag of grapes in one sitting. I love fruit and have been known to literally eat a whole melon in five minutes. I'm truly stuffed.
2 p.m. — I type up clinical notes from therapy sessions from earlier this week and keep looking at the clock. Two more hours!
4 p.m. — Time to get back on my bike! The worst part about biking long-ish distances is that you have to do it all over again on the way home. I put on the new Drake album and take a different route this time, but end up stuck in a lot of midtown congestion. There are fewer bike lanes and I try to be as cautious as possible.
5 p.m. — I get home starving and am barely able to move my legs. I heat up a bowl of a fish stew I made the other day — it has tilapia, diced tomatoes, garlic, onions, chickpeas, basil, and chili pepper in it. I quickly shower and sit down to binge-watch a few episodes of GLOW, which is just fun and silly enough to get me to zone out for a little.
8 p.m. — The best part about my neighborhood is that all of my friends live within 10 blocks of me. I meet up with an old high school friend, B., at a nearby taco and cocktail spot with a backyard, and I get a glass of white wine ($9) with two chicken tacos and one chorizo taco ($10.50). We catch up about life back home and in the city, and touch upon both of our dating lives. I've always wondered whether he and I would ever be a thing, but the platonic hug goodbye confirms that it's not meant to be. $19.50
Daily Total: $32.50

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up, drink a cold glass of almond milk, and do my usual morning routine — wash my face with Kiehl's cleanser, put on Kiehl's face moisturizer, and brush my teeth. Then I put on workout clothes and head to the subway.
8 a.m. — I go to a Tabata/HIIT style class near my apartment, which I booked through ClassPass. After three rounds of three exercises done four times, I'm beat.
9:30 a.m. — I take the local bus to Dekalb Market, one of the best food markets in Brooklyn and also conveniently has a Trader Joe's inside of it. I pick up a bagel with lox spread and tomato ($5.72) and then walk over to TJ's and get groceries for the week. I've been obsessed with my slow cooker recently, and plan on making oatmeal for breakfast and chicken salsa verde for all other meals this week. I get all the essentials, including chicken, turkey bacon, tilapia, cauliflower rice stir fry, apples, bananas, nectarines, tomatoes, salad kits, yogurt, black bean pasta, burritos, beans, granola bars, and tomato sauce ($69.71). $75.43
11 a.m. — I get home and dump all the ingredients for the chicken dish into the slow cooker (chicken, jar of salsa verde, peppers, and onions), and also put sweet potatoes in the oven to roast. While all that's cooking, I mosey on over to a garden plot a few blocks away that I share with my roommates. It was only $35 for the summer, and we split it three ways, which is a steal. I pick up Swiss chard and basil to add to my lunch.
12 p.m. — Throw the garden findings into a cauliflower rice stir-fry from Trader Joe's. I eat half and pack up the rest (plus a sweet potato) for my lunch tomorrow. I'm trying to bring lunch to work every day, not just because it saves me a ton of money, but because doing away with takeout containers is better for the environment.
2 p.m. — I pick up watermelon and head to the park to meet up with a friend, L., from grad school. We did the same MSW program and live in the same neighborhood, and it's always good to have more friends (and friends who are social workers and can commiserate). $6.81
5 p.m. — After a few hours of catching up and trying to tan, I bike the 10 minutes home. I eat some of the chicken salsa verde and change into a less sweaty sundress. Then I make overnight oats with bananas, almond milk, and frozen berries.
6 p.m. — I walk over to a dive bar in my neighborhood with a spacious backyard and meet up with another friend, A. I get two bitters and sodas. We make small talk for a little, and then get into the meat of the conversation — I recently hooked up with one of her friends, and I hope it doesn't rock the boat with our friendship. $14
8 p.m. — Phew. We talk about our respective feelings towards my FWB and really process it in true therapist fashion. All the sharing makes us hungry, so we go for tacos at the same place I went last night. $10.50
10 p.m. — I crawl into bed and do digital trend/marketing research for one of the freelance jobs I have. I was an assistant editor for them years ago and luckily can still work for them. This job essentially pays my rent, and I can do it from my own bed — what could be better? After an hour, I shut my laptop and call it a night.
Daily Total: $106.74

Day Three

7 a.m. — Wake up, scarf down oatmeal, and chug water. I don't have work at the shelter today because I worked on Saturday, and instead I picked up a shift at the crisis hotline. I've also started boxing more consistently and am heading to a studio on ClassPass in Williamsburg before work. I throw on my workout clothes, pack my food for the day, and head out to catch the bus.
9 a.m. — Class ends and I hop into the shower. Naked and dripping wet after, I realize my worst fear has come true. I look through my bag and can't find my clean clothes anywhere — I must have left my change of clothes at home. I begrudgingly put all my sweaty clothes back on, including my NSFW crop top.
9:15 a.m. — Success! I find a dollar store on the way to the subway and pick up two plain t-shirts to hit the credit card minimum. I also eat a banana and nectarine that I packed before hopping on the subway. $8.69
10:15 a.m. — The J train takes its sweet time and I'm a little late. I throw my lunch into the fridge, grab a headset, and get to work. During a shift, I work on several crisis hotlines at once, from substance abuse to suicide prevention lines. I started this job as a graduate school internship, and slowly worked my way up to a paid per diem position. It's a flexible job and I pick the hours and shifts I want to work. I've toyed with the idea of quitting because it usually eats into my weekends, but it's hard to give up the extra cash.
12 p.m. — I get a 15-minute break and eat the chicken dish I brought from home. I also do digital marketing research for freelance job #1, and answer client emails for a private practice I work for (freelance job #3!). I chat with the private practice manager at freelance job #3 on Slack and catch up on the business gossip.
1 p.m. — Someone brought chocolate biscuits from Marks and Spencer, and I devour two of them.
2 p.m. — I get off work and walk past a Gap, which makes me think about an upcoming music festival I'm going to in two weeks. I stop in and get a pair of gray athletic shorts. The festival is an invite only, three-day techno party held at a horse barn upstate. My best friend from college is coming with me, and we haven't gone to one of these festivals together totally single before. We're pumped. $24
3 p.m. — Home at last! And yes, my clean clothes that I forgot to bring earlier are on my bed. I get in bed, browse Reddit for way too long, work through emails, and then make some notes for client intakes I have tonight. I'm grabbing dinner with my cousins later, but I have to stop by a coffee shop beforehand to take some calls. As the intake manager at the private practice, I talk to potential clients and try to match them with therapists.
5 p.m. — On my way to the subway I drop off a bag of clothes at Salvation Army.
6 p.m. — I settle into a coffee shop in Flatiron and get an iced tea. I love the taste of coffee, but it makes me feel like I've taken speed, so tea is my go-to. I chat with three potential clients, getting a sense of why they're looking for therapy and if we're a good fit for them. Finding a therapist in NYC is so hard, especially one under $200 per session. Despite my crazy hours at all my jobs, I'm always happy to be able to connect someone with an affordable therapist. $4.08
8 p.m. — I meet up with my cousins at a Greek place nearby, white tablecloths and all. Some of my older relatives haven't spoken to each other in years for reasons that I can't understand, so I haven't seen these cousins in years. I love that they reached out and invited me to dinner! We catch up for a few hours over a slew of dishes like Greek salad, fried calamari, and roast salmon, and their dad picks up the check.
10 p.m. — I head to catch the train back to Brooklyn, and there are massive delays. I drank so much water and stupidly forgot to pee at the restaurant. With 10% battery left, I see that a Lyft Line is actually pretty cheap, and hop in a car home. $9
11 p.m. — SWEET RELIEF. After taking care of business, I answer emails related to the intakes I did before dinner. I wash my face, brush my teeth, slather coconut oil all over my body, and get into bed.
Daily Total: $45.77

Day Four

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I groggily get out of bed. I didn't sleep very well and had weird sex dreams about my gay guy friend that have me feeling some type of way. I'm headed to Modelfit (thanks ClassPass!) and I grab a Larabar from the kitchen to eat before class. I pack my bag for the day — oatmeal, chicken salsa verde, a banana, and an apple. I also throw in a towel to avoid paying $2 for the ones at the studio.
8 a.m. — God, that class was hard. My best friend from growing up, S., was there too, so at least we could be in agony together. After class, I shower and throw on a dress, and S. walks me to the subway.
9 a.m. — I settle into work and read through all the emails I missed from being out of the office yesterday. Our residents all have pretty extensive trauma histories, and it's both rewarding and challenging working with them. I'm so happy to have a job where I work mostly with women as my coworkers and my clients.
12 p.m. — I eat the chicken salsa verde at my desk, and close my door so no one will disturb my five minutes of peace. There are crises unfolding at the shelter today, and I sometimes just need a few minutes to reset and recharge.
6 p.m. — After unbelievable train luck, I get home in less than an hour and heat up the leftover cauliflower rice stir-fry. I add two fried eggs and half of a roasted sweet potato and drizzle a little sesame oil on top. I have four phone screenings to do tonight for the private practice, and start to review the clients' information on my laptop while eating. Looking at how little availability we have during therapy rush hour (i.e. mornings and evenings) makes me a little stressed, so hopefully these clients will have free time during the day.
8:30 p.m. — Whew, just finished the last screening. I send out final emails to clients with therapist options for them to consider, and head to the living room to watch the latest episode of Succession. This show always gives me anxiety because all the characters are so unlikeable, but I just can't stop watching.
10 p.m. — I'm craving something sweet, and find a Trader Joe's almond butter coconut yogurt in my fridge. I eat it while chatting with one of my roommates in the kitchen.
11 p.m. — FWB texts me that he'll be out of town for a few weeks, and I consider whether to send him a “bon voyage” nude. I decide to play it cool and wait a few days to send that. I get ready for bed and turn on my white noise machine, which is truly the only thing that helps me fall asleep after a long day.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Do the usual morning routine and eat a bowl of the overnight oats with tahini and honey drizzled on top. I have three phone screenings to do this morning, as well as a rescheduled therapy appointment for myself. I open up Foursquare and look up coffee shops that are near my therapist and are quiet enough to make these calls in. I pack my bag with lunch for the day — chicken salsa verde, banana, raspberry yogurt, and a Larabar.
7:45 a.m. — I order a decaf skim latte. I think about getting a muffin but remember that I'm having dinner with S. tonight — I try to stick to only spending money on one meal per day if I can. $3.50
9:30 a.m. — Finish up the phone screenings and head on over to my therapist's office a few blocks away ($100). I first started seeing this therapist after a bad breakup several years ago. The relationship was emotionally abusive and I was feeling a lot of anger towards my ex. I recently took a break from therapy for a few months but started back up again after realizing how much it balances me out and how bonkers I feel without it. Also, with the stress and secondary trauma from my job at the shelter, I need it to process everything and be the best counselor I can be.
11 a.m. — I get to work at the shelter and scarf down the banana I brought. I take a look at my calendar and see that it's pretty light today, so I start on client notes that I need to complete. I also do a little freelance marketing research and send emails for the private practice.
11:30 a.m. — I get an email from Zara that a jumpsuit I ordered last week is ready for in-store pickup. I'm going to try to swing by this weekend.
12 p.m. — Lunch is the chicken salsa verde and half of a roasted sweet potato. I take a walk to the UPS down the block and drop off a claims form to be mailed to my insurance company. I'm submitting the bills from my therapist to go towards my out-of-network deductible, so that I can start getting reimbursed for some of my sessions with my therapist.
1:30 p.m. — I'm craving something sweet, so I pull the Larabar out of my purse and snack on it while I do clinical work.
4 p.m. — After a very intense and stressful call with a potential new resident at the shelter, I grab my raspberry yogurt from TJ's and eat it at my desk. I have one more individual session and one children's group left to run, and then I'm out of here!
7 p.m. — I make my way down to Williamsburg and meet S. for dinner at my favorite Japanese restaurant, Samurai Mama. We reconnected last year after a few years of not speaking to each other, and it's nice to celebrate her birthday with her again. We ordered and split black edamame, seaweed salad, fatty tuna rolls, cold ume udon, a salmon sashimi bowl, and green tea ice cream. I picked up the check as a birthday gift. $76.61
10 p.m. — I have more private practice work to do, so I take a Lyft Line to get home quick. After sending out final emails to clients, I call it a night. $4.81
Daily Total: $84.92

Day Six

6 a.m. — Wake up, grab the last of the oatmeal, and quickly put together a Southwestern salad kit from TJ's. I also pack a TJ's yogurt and an apple, and can tell I'm going to get hungry later this afternoon. My friend gifted me some of her ClassPass credits because she couldn't use all of hers this month, so I'm headed to a boot camp-like workout in Union Square before work. I put on gym clothes and head to the subway.
7:45 a.m. — Got a good sweat in, though an old injury I have (arthritis in my big toe!) made it hard to do all the exercises. I shower and head to the same coffee shop as yesterday to do a few phone screenings before work. I pick up my usual — decaf skim latte with Splenda — and start making calls. $3.50
8:50 a.m. — I head to the subway and spot a Starbucks on the way. I don't love Starbucks, but I'm craving their spinach feta egg wrap. I order that and eat it leisurely on a bench in Union Square while doing solid people-watching. $4.30
11 a.m. — Already feeling ravenous at work, and eat the whole milk vanilla yogurt I brought from home. I may have a lead on someone who wants to buy my turntable off Craigslist — part of my attempt to rid myself of any memory of the aforementioned ex-boyfriend. We set up a time for them to check out the turntable this weekend.
12:30 p.m. — Time for my TJ's salad that I brought from home. I Slack with my private practice coworkers and catch up on emails for them.
1 p.m. — Even though I called and reminded them this morning, my client doesn't show up for our session. I take this to mean that I should browse Streeteasy for apartments and look through Reddit's juicy /r/relationship thread.
1:30 p.m. — I see my shelter paycheck deposited today, and I use my bank app to move most of it ($1,300) into savings. I have a system where I keep almost all of my money, except for $100-200, in my savings account. That way, I only have a little bit of money to play with in case I need it, and I can use my credit card to rack up points. I pay off my credit card with my savings account each month.
3 p.m. — I slip out of a meeting to buy tickets for a somewhat underground techno festival in September. It's held at a kids' sleepaway camp upstate, and we all are hoping to reserve beds in the same cabin once ticketing opens. I went the first two years it began, and this will be its five-year anniversary. It's a once a year kind of purchase, and I put it on my credit card. After I book my spot, I see that tickets sold out within five minutes! $213.20
6 p.m. — I leave work and start the hour-long commute home. I'm feeling more anxious than usual and can't tell why. I treat myself to a manicure ($15) once I get to my neighborhood, and leave a $3 tip. $18
8 p.m. — I make a hodgepodge dinner of a TJ's bean burrito, a vegan burger, and slices of gooey brie my roommate offered me. I also make a cauliflower rice stir-fry from Trader Joe's for dinner tomorrow, with extra red peppers, yellow squash, and chives and basil from our garden.
10 p.m. — I send final private practice emails and get ready for bed. I'm feeling bold and send a nude (without my face in it!) to my FWB, who promptly asks if we can hang this weekend. I lather coconut oil on my face and call it a night.
Daily Total: $239

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Today's a rest day, so no morning workout to rush to. I shower and make breakfast — sautéed red peppers and yellow squash, turkey bacon, and two fried eggs. I'm training an intern tonight for the private practice, and I spend half an hour updating part of the practice's employee manual for him to read through. I put on a silk jumpsuit, wonder if it's too risqué for the shelter, and decide it's fine. YOLO. I pack my lunch/snacks for the day and head out.
11:30 a.m. — I eat the TJ's burrito and leftover salad for lunch, plus pita chips and cheese cubes leftover from an earlier meeting.
1 p.m. — I'm craving something sweet as usual, so I grab a coconut slushie from the street-cart vendor on the corner. $1
5:30 p.m. — After several stressful client sessions and groups, I take the bus across town to the private practice, and spend time training an intern on how to do phone screenings. We're expanding our practice and will have an uptick in intakes soon, which will help us be prepared — and help me from going crazy with work.
8 p.m. — I finally get home from this never-ending workday and heat up a bowl of the cauliflower stir-fry that I made last night. An old work friend is hosting birthday drinks at a bar in Williamsburg, so I hop in the shower and get dressed. I considered biking over, but I'm wearing a leather skirt, and that is not a good look. I call a Lyft Line and head over. $8.58
9 p.m. — I order a basil and lime vodka gimlet ($11) and leave a tip ($1), and head up to the roof deck to meet my friends. Someone made an amazing key lime pie, which I obviously have a slice of. $12
9:30 p.m. — While I'm out I get an email from ASOS letting me know they received my return and refunded me $80. This was the result of one of those Instagram vs. reality moments — who knew a lime green crocheted crop top with matching shorts wouldn't look good in real life?
11:30 p.m. — I'm sticking to one drink tonight, and sip on some water while my friends keep drinking. I get a text from my roommate saying that she's locked out, and she heads to the bar I'm at to pick up my key. I'm feeling tired and decide this is my moment to gracefully exit, so I say bye to my friends and meet my roommate outside. As a thank you, she lets me ride home in the Uber for free.
12 a.m. — I get a second wind, and hit up my dealer to get party supplies for next weekend ($80). He lives close by and I change into shorts to bike over to his place. He's sweet and always tries to chat, but I'm not trying to make friends. I make my way home and throw on a Kiehl's clay mask while I brush my teeth. Then I wash off the mask, put on moisturizer, and fall asleep. $80
Daily Total: $101.58
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