How Much One NYC Woman Spends Over Valentine’s Day Weekend

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. Each week, we ask a millennial woman how she spends her hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last cent. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

This week, a New York City copywriter celebrating Valentine's Day with cheap Broadway tickets, pizza, and edibles.
Industry: Media
Location: Astoria, Queens
Salary: $43,000
Age: 28
Roommates: 1 Monthly Expenses
Rent & utilities: $1,000
New gym membership: $40/month
Monthly MTA card: $116.50

Day One:

8:45 a.m. — Breakfast of avocado toast from groceries I had at home. $0 9 a.m. — Coffee from Queens Kickshaw to combat the Super Bowl hangover. A coffee on the go is a rare indulgence for me now. For about two years, I was an idiot who bought a coffee every morning on my way to work, effectively pouring hundreds of dollars a year down the drain. I wish I could smack 24-year-old me sometimes. $5.50 10:30 a.m. — Second cup of coffee, free from the office. $0

12:35 p.m. — Snack on a free pierogi and kielbasa in the office, because saying no to free food is really never an option. $0

2 p.m. — I use my lunch break to brave Times Square and buy tickets for an off-Broadway show for my boyfriend's Valentine's Day present. He's a theater nerd, and I have a feeling he will love it; plus, we realized early on that we would rather spend money on experiences than physical gifts. Doubly pumped that $30 tickets for under-30s are available, so the tickets end up being $64 instead of $160 — discount win! 3 p.m. — Late lunch from home: roasted sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and beets, with quinoa and some leftover avocado from breakfast, topped with massive amounts of Sriracha. I also snag a free tea from the office kitchen to warm up. $0

7:30 p.m. — I have a serious case of the Mondays, and all I really want is a burger. Instead, I make my roommate's famous cheap meal, the "hot sauce burrito:" vegetarian refried beans, sour cream, and massive amounts of hot sauce. It's the best greasy-food satisfaction for zero dollars. I also snack on leftover brie and crackers we got for the Super Bowl party and a glass of the Rioja that's already open, because the most important night of TV (re: The Bachelor) deserves a little something. $0
Total: $69.50

Day Two:

8:30 a.m. — Avocado toast and oatmeal for breakfast at home. $0 10:30 a.m. — Free coffee from the office — proud of myself for being good today. $0

12:30 p.m. — The same lunch from yesterday with more Sriracha. I'm afraid the Brussels sprouts are getting smelly and making me an office pariah. $0 2 p.m. — Feeling antsy in the office, so I step out for a couple of sweets at Le Pain Quotidian and sit in Bryant Park for a second. $4

6:45 p.m. — I pick up shampoo and a cheap nail polish to sway myself away from the Valentine's Day mani/pedi I so desperately want. Saving ~$25 feels better anyway. $8.25 7:15 p.m. — Dinner at home, and again not in the mood to cook, so it's instant ramen with an egg on top (don't judge; my "recipe" is delicious) and leftover chocolate babka from an event last week. $0 Total: $12.25

Day Three:

8:45 a.m. — Toast with a schmear of cream cheese and oatmeal. Killing the at-home breakfast this week. $0 10:30 a.m. — Also killing the week of free food at the office: free coffee and a yogurt parfait left over from a meeting. $0 1:15 p.m. — Lunch in the office. More veggies and quinoa. I'm impressed that the big batch I made on Sunday has lasted this long. While I eat, I purchase my ordination documents because I'm marrying my two dear friends in a couple of months. $57.99

7:30 p.m. — Laundry time. I'm one of the few people I know who actually does their laundry instead of drop-off, but hey, it saves me a few bucks. $5.25

7:45 p.m. — Pick up a few groceries for the week (kale, eggs, sausages). $13.23

8:15 p.m. — Dinner tonight is sautéed kale and sausage that I picked up from the store. $0

Total: $76.47

Day Four:

8:45 a.m. — Oatmeal and hard-boiled egg at home. $0

1 p.m. — Team lunch today at Aureole in Midtown, hurray! Fancy lunch for free. $0 6:30 p.m. — My boyfriend got a free screening of the movie Deadpool through work, so I rush to Times Square after work. We snack on free popcorn while watching (me gawking at) Ryan Reynolds. $0

8:30 p.m. — We're starving, and I'm dying for a burger, so we go to Shake Shack. He pays. It's a little bit of a dance of "who pays" this far into the relationship (six months). He makes double (well, more like triple in reality) what I make and offers to pay all the time. I pay for what I can, because it makes me feel guilty to have him pay for me every time. Now that the honeymoon phase is starting to end, though, we're much more comfortable not spending a ton on dates — the relationship version of Netflix and chill! $0

Total: $0 (!!!)

Day Five:

8:30 a.m. — Oatmeal and hard-boiled egg at home. $0

12:45 p.m. — The very last of my quinoa-and-veggies big batch for sad desk lunch. Somehow still tasty five days later! $0 5:45 p.m. — A long week deserves a drink, so boyfriend and I meet some friends at Birreria at Eataly (or whatever the Alps pop-up is called; it's pretty). I buy a round of mulled wine thinking it'll warm us up (it doesn't); he buys a round of beer. $25 9:25 p.m. — I hail us a cab from Union Square because we're late to our Valentine's Day dinner reservation and the L train sucks. $7.35 9:30 p.m. — We have a lovely meal at Hearth (get the pastas and the meatballs!). He pays. $0 12 a.m. — We're exhausted and need to crash, so I pay for the cab ride home. Seems only fair. $28.15

Total: $60.50

Day Six:

12 p.m. — We sleep in, thankfully, and decide to make breakfast at home (a rarity). We make kale, eggs, and coffee and have leftover bagels. $0

1:30 p.m. — I finally sign up for my neighborhood gym, after six weeks of excuses and shopping around for the best deal. It's with an annual fee, but at least no initiation fee. $99.99 6:30 p.m. — After a day of being lazy and cuddling, we decide we should venture out for food. It's 0 degrees, hurray. Still, a bowl of ramen at Tamashii Ramen was exactly what we needed. I pay for dinner. $63.83

8 p.m. — Pit stop at Astoria Bier & Cheese, boyfriend buys beer to take home. $0

11:15 p.m. — The rest of our night is fueled by sex, romance, and edibles (I picked these up over Christmas when I was in Colorado). When the munchies hit, I realize I have zero snacks in the house, so we eat leftover sausage and Gouda. It's delicious. $0

Total: $163.82

Day Seven:

11:30 a.m. — It's Valentine's Day! We try our usual brunch place, but it's packed, so instead we try Butcher Bar. BBQ is made better with a cute boyfriend. He pays. $0 2 p.m. — We go to the off-Broadway show I bought tickets for early in the week. Smart People is fantastic. 4:30 p.m. — After the show, we go grab a beer at Beer Culture, where we had one of our first dates. He buys one round. $0

6:30 p.m. — I say we should do something extra-romantic and cheesy for the night, because the whole weekend has been so sweet. We decide that our version of romance is pizza. We get two pizzas and wine at B Side Pizza; the pizzas come in the shape of a heart. Boyfriend pays, even though I beg him to split. $0

8:30 p.m. — I put that cute pink-hearted undie set I bought last week to good use. $0

Total: $0
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. Have a money diary you'd like to share? Send it to us at

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