A Week Being Unemployed In New Jersey

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a recently unemployed woman in New Jersey living at home and celebrating birthdays in the city.
Industry: Pharmaceutical
Age: 26
Location: West Windsor, NJ
Salary: $0, unemployed. I've been unemployed since July 7, 2016, and I cannot collect unemployment until I have an interview with a claims examiner. The unemployment office is currently backed-up, so my interview is scheduled for September 7.
Previous Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $1,700 after tax and medical insurance deductions. Luckily, I put a decent amount in savings before being laid off.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0. I live at home.
Student Loans: $150. My parents paid for my college education, but I set aside some money to help them later in life.
TV/Internet: $130/month
Car Payment: $203
Car Insurance: $158
Phone Bill: $120 (includes payment plan for a new phone I purchased in April)
Health Insurance: $0 — still figuring out Obamacare.
Savings: $0 (I was previously saving $1,000 a month, part of which was Roth IRA contribution.)
Spotify: $3 (on a family plan)
Netflix: $8
Gym Membership: $20
Courses: $99 (This is not always a monthly expense, but I try to take three to four courses a year online to broaden my skill set.)
Miscellaneous: $75. My parents and sisters are pretty thrifty, so I usually pick up something for them routinely — clothes, something random from Amazon, takeout, etc.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I haven't slept in a single day since I was laid off. It feels nice to be up early, but I don't have a plan for the day yet. 11:15 a.m. — Returning some stuff, because I shouldn't be spending money I don't have. I'm an emotional eater first and an emotional spender next. But since my diet is costing me late-night beers and tacos, I have unnecessary goods from Modcloth and Amazon. I mail back a two-piece swimsuit that made me look like a cupcake with melted frosting and two cover-ups. -$110.98 3 p.m. — I've spent most of the afternoon applying to jobs and listening to Conan clips on autoplay before I realize the rumblings in my stomach. I make myself a vile smoothie of kale, spinach, blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Costco has prepackaged smoothie packets in the freezer aisle that are about $12 for six. It tastes like grassy water. 6:15 p.m. — Earlier in the month, I received a Costco cash card valued at $100 for buying a cell phone there earlier in the year. I picked up blueberries, raspberries, spring mix, pads, bread, and grilled chicken. $32.83, on the cash card. 9:20 p.m. — My boyfriend just finished his first year of business school, so we are out celebrating at happy hour. He gets a beer, we both get Moscow Mules, and share calamari and tuna crisps. I insist covering my half, but he pays.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

2:15 p.m. — I make myself a milkshake using milk, sugar-free chocolate syrup, coffee powder, vanilla extract, and some ice. It's pretty vile, but I hate wasting food, so I gulp it down. I watch some TV with my dad. Unfortunately, he is unemployed at the moment, too. It’s a bittersweet thing to bond over. 4 p.m. — I get an email about a sale at Torrid. RESIST. RESIST. I make myself a salad with some mixed greens and nectarines I picked up from Costco over the weekend. 5:45 p.m. — I’m going to the Caribbean with some friends next week and need to get some products for general TLC. We're staying at an all-inclusive resort for a few days and the trip came out to under $700 a person and was paid for in June. I order the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Eau Thermale Avene Spring Water, Bioré sunscreen, and some travel-sized reusable bottles. I wince while paying. $47.08 9:15 p.m. — Meeting up with some friends for hookah. I go maybe a few times a year and don’t really know how to inhale so…it’s not so bad? $12.50 10:45 p.m. — Trying to be productive with my unplanned “time off,” so I’m enrolled in a couple of GRE classes and a marketing writing class. I stop by a grocery store to pick up a couple of notebooks and some packing tape. I can’t believe they have a six-pack of Sharpie markers for $2.50. Where were these deals when I was in school?! $4.11 Daily Total: $63.69

Day Three

1:15 p.m. — It’s been a very productive day so far! I applied to about 10 jobs and cleaned out a lot of my closet. I find a couple of tops I purchased two months ago that I haven’t worn yet and toss them in a bag to return. -$32 2:10 p.m. — UGH, NOT PROUD. I tried to resist all the '90s trends this summer, but I really want a sexy top to wear on vacation. I order a lace-up top in two sizes, a dress, a choker, and a two-piece from Forever 21. I promise myself out loud that anything I don’t love, I will return. $63.80 4:45 p.m. — I unsubscribe from store emails to not be further enticed by sales and then see H&M has an additional 30% off sale. I order a cover-up, a printed off-the-shoulder dress, and a printed fit-and-flare dress. $28 7:30 p.m. — I take care of house chores for the rest of the night. My mom is having some health problems, so we try to keep her from doing anything around the house. It’s also a pretty minor way to be able to help while living at home. Daily Total: $91.80

Day Four

11:30 a.m. — When I say I’ve exhausted myself with applying to jobs, I’m talking over 350 job applications. Admittedly, half of them were easy apply through LinkedIn and Indeed. I’ve finally landed a part-time job as a “project research assistant” at a small company. It pays about $10 an hour for 25 hours a week, so I’ll be earning what I used to make in a day over the course of a week. It is what it is — and the road to success is not linear, and other such bullshit words you find on Pinterest boards and clearance racks in Target. A friend from high school has a salaried job at my new gig and I meet her for lunch at a café prior to my “New Hire Orientation.” I get an iced green tea. $4 3:30 p.m. — Exhausted from the orientation, I head to Home Goods to sleep. Yeah, right. I’m missing a friend’s housewarming over the weekend, so I stop to pick up a couple of cute decor items for her home. $24 4 p.m. — I pass a liquor store on the way home and pick up a bottle of wine for the same friend. I had missed her wedding a couple of years ago and never really got her a wedding gift. I can’t spend above my means at the moment, but I figure the thought put into this gift could still be worth it. $13 Daily Total: $41

Day Five

11 a.m. — I am soooo not looking forward to the next couple of days. It’s my best friend’s birthday and we’re spending the weekend in the city. The vacation is next week, there are three big birthdays coming up, and a wedding. I figure a gel manicure will keep me well-groomed for the next three weeks. This salon does a great pedicure and include a five-minute foot massage, so I opt for that, too. $67 (with tip) 1:30 p.m. — Best friend and I head to a local pizzeria and share a personal-size pizza and a large chicken salad. $13 4:15 p.m. — My mom’s friend insists I help her shop for some dresses she needs for a cruise and I oblige. She buys two dresses and a pair of flats within an hour and thanks me with an iced green tea. 7:30 p.m. — I invite my friend to stay the night so we can unwind from the week. We had planned to watch a movie, but instead, she watches me pack for our trip the following week. My boyfriend comes over with some Afghan food. I split some of the cost. $15 Daily Total: $95

Day Six

10:30 a.m. — We get to the train station pretty early and my friends buy some round-trip tickets. I saved myself about $30 by borrowing my aunt’s monthly train pass. Woo! I buy a banana to hold me over until brunch. $1 1:45 p.m. — How will we ever eat again? We share mac 'n' cheese, vanilla-bean French toast, a fried egg croissant sandwich, and a Mediterranean salad with roasted chicken. The French toast gets pretty neglected, much like me in the job market right now. The three of us split the cost. $30 (with tip) 4:45 p.m. — I walk my best friend over to Sephora, where she gets her makeup done. We have a great time with the makeup artist who somehow convinces me to try out false lashes and offers to glue them on for me. She tops it with a perfect winged liner. I have Jasmine’s eyes with Mulan’s attitude — LOVE IT. $10 7:30 p.m. — We have the best meal, EVER, at a small Michelin-starred restaurant, Casa Enrique, in Astoria. We share a ton of food and do a round of drinks. My boyfriend joins us for the meal and generously offers to cover my share, too. We all also cover the birthday girl’s meal. 10:45 p.m. — It’s been a long day, but the night is about to get longer with drinks at a bar. I get the first round for my boyfriend, my friend, and myself. After that, it's a bit of a blur. $45

12 a.m. — I'm not feeling too well, so my boyfriend and I leave the club and stop at a Duane Reade before heading back to the hotel. We grab a small cheddar sandwich and a ginger ale. $7

Daily Total: $93

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Well, it’s been a long night with my boyfriend vomiting! I clean the bathroom as much as I can, but then realize housekeeping really needs to help me out. I hand her a tip that I can’t imagine is enough, but she seems a lot less upset after! $20 10:45 a.m. — I rush over for a laser appointment. I’m too hungover to deal with the subway, so I take a cab ($10). I had paid for eight sessions with a Groupon for about $170. The only catch is that I have to tip between $35 and $45 (20 to 25% of the original price) each session. It still ends up being a better deal than most places and I’m happy with the results. $45 (cab + tip) 11:30 a.m. — I head back to the hotel via subway (with a prepaid card) and see that my dear friends got my boyfriend some food from McDonald’s. I Venmo them for the food. $8 2:30 p.m. — Boyfriend and I head home to New Jersey and he has now tallied up nine dinosaur-sized vomits. I pat him on the back, but boy am I exhausted from the weekend. I use my aunt’s monthly pass again. 5 p.m. — I get my boyfriend into bed and head to the grocery store. I figure chicken noodle soup is the way to go, so I buy chicken breasts, egg noodles, celery, carrots, an onion, parsley, thyme, ginger ale, a loaf of bread, hot sauce, and I make my own salad from the salad bar. It comes out to $48, but my boyfriend had given me his card. 9:15 p.m. — I finally head home and make myself a fruit smoothie with pineapple, berries, and mango. I see that the package from Forever 21 came in yesterday and throw it in my car to return everything after the damage done this weekend. -$63.80

Daily Total: $73
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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