A Week In New York City On A $40,000 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 junior associate working in public relations who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Pop-Tarts.
Occupation: Junior Associate
Industry: Public Relations
Age: 22
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,245
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,668 split evenly between me and my roommate ($1,834 each)
Gym: $0 (My company covers this.)
Electricity: around $30.41
Wifi: $28
Wax: $51.21/month + tip
AppleCare: $8.71
Netflix/Hulu/HBO/Spotify/Cell Phone: $0 (I still mooch off my parents.)
Savings: I try to put $50 from each paycheck into savings, but I don't always follow through. Currently, I have just over $7,000 in my savings that I've acquired throughout high school and college.
Advertisement

Day One

7:58 a.m. — I wake up two minutes before my alarm goes off. I normally hate when this happens, but today it gives me a bit more time to do the social media rounds before starting the week. I give myself ten minutes in the morning to lay in bed, reply to texts, and check my email. If I spend longer than ten minutes in bed, my morning routine will be thrown off.
8:45 a.m. — After showering, getting dressed, and swiping on some mascara, I make myself a piece of toast with cream cheese and Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning. I had to take a few extra minutes today on my makeup because I woke up with a massive zit on the side of my face, and I had to strategically apply cover-up. This also means I'm getting my period soon, so it's just a great way to start the week. After eating, I pack up my lunch, which is typically leftovers from the night before.
8:55 a.m. — I walk to work since it's only a few blocks away. I've been seriously craving an iced chai from Starbucks — but I'm trying to budget myself and I know I can make tea at work, so I skip it.
9:30 a.m. — After replying to emails and getting a few things done for work, I make myself a cup of chai tea and chat with my coworker for a bit about our weekends and monthly horoscopes. Our office is super into astrology, and we regularly discuss our horoscopes and astrological compatibility with friends and others. I'm not sure I believe it all, but I like marking the “important dates” on my calendar and hoping for good things to happen. It's also nice to blame things on the universe and not myself.
Advertisement
12:40 p.m. — I heat up my leftover sausage and spinach pasta and swipe through various news sites for a little brain break while I eat.
6:05 p.m. — I leave the office and head to my parents' house in Brooklyn. My family has started taking ASL classes once a week because my dad is hard of hearing. The classes are super fun, and it's really nice to go home once a week to see the family and get a free, delicious meal. I'm running a bit late this week, however, because I had a call run over at work. My mom said she'll save a plate of spaghetti for me.
8:15 p.m. — After ASL I snoop around my parent's house for snacks. I also pack up a fan and a drying rack that my mom is giving me because I don't want to turn on the AC in my apartment yet, and my drying rack is broken. I leave her with my favorite pair of black jeans that ripped last week. She's good with a needle so I want her to try to salvage them because I haven't found another pair that I like as much. I chat with my parents for a bit about my upcoming work anniversary and whether or not I should resign my lease. I don't have to make a decision until later this summer though so I'm not too stressed out.
9:25 p.m. — I get on the subway back to the city. My hands are full with the fan and drying rack but I don't feel like paying for a cab. Plus I gotta get my steps in!
Advertisement
9:50 p.m. — I get home and immediately plug in my new fan. I grew up in New York but have never adjusted to the summer heat. Afterward, I put away the laundry I did the night before and change into my pajamas. I have plans to FaceTime my best friend at 10 and want to plug my recent expenses into my spreadsheet beforehand. I developed terrible anxiety in high school and, while it's gotten better, tracking my finances and making to-do lists helps me keep it under control.
11 p.m. — I brush my teeth, wash my face, pop a melatonin (my favorite drug), and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I lay in bed for ten minutes and do the usual social media rounds.
8:25 a.m. — I'm having some difficulty picking out what I want to wear this morning so I switch up my routine a bit and do my makeup and cook my breakfast first. Breakfast is the usual: toast with cream cheese and Trader Joe's seasoning. After eating, I quickly pick out an outfit and head out for work.
10:20 a.m. — Our intern gets in at ten so I spend some time walking her through her tasks for the day and then make myself a cup of chai tea.
12:30 p.m. — Today's lunch is my leftover Chipotle bowl from over the weekend. It definitely is not as good as it was the first time around but it's still Chipotle. I also spend some time browsing the internet for bridesmaid dress inspiration for my friend's wedding next year. I've come to realize that one of the worst things about being an “adult” (loose term) is how much money you're required to spend on weddings. Between the gifts, travel, hotels, and dresses I swear I'll be broke by the time I'm 25.
5:20 p.m. — I leave work and head home. When I get back to my apartment, I have a yogurt while I watch an episode of Bob's Burgers and then change for the gym.
6:15 p.m. — I realize there's a class going on in the room I like to use for my workout at 6:30 so I decide to do the circuit in my apartment. My roommate has a PDF of Kayla Itsines BBG workout and I'm on week 5 now. I was a division three athlete in college but working out after graduating has been a struggle for me. I had someone crafting my workouts for me for four years and it took me a while to find a way to motivate and hold myself accountable. Now, I find it a lot easier to go if the workouts are already written.
7 p.m. — After my workout, I hop in the shower. I shower twice a day if I work out. but I only wash my hair once a day. I've been told it's not good to wash your hair every day but if I don't my hair gets super greasy very quickly. I shave my legs because I want to wear a dress tomorrow and I don't like shaving in the mornings when I'm rushed. After my shower, I put on PJs, apply a leave-in conditioner to my ends, and scroll through Instagram for a bit.
8 p.m. — I start cooking my dinner, turkey burgers with Brie and spinach. I make two servings so I can eat leftovers for dinner the next day. As I eat, I put on last nights episode of The Bachelorette. My roommate and I don't have cable so Bachelorette Mondays have turned into Bachelorette Tuesdays.
8:45 p.m. — I clean up my dinner and eat a raspberry and vanilla cream ice cream bar from Trader Joe's. I'm still hungry though and I don't have any snacks, so I decide to run down to 7/11 and grab potato chips, a two pack of Pop-Tarts, and two granola bars. $8.56
9:05 p.m. — When I get back from 7/11, I snack on some chips and finish my episode of The Bachelorette. Just so it's known, Luke P. sucks and Peter the Pilot is the man I've always dreamed of. Also, Tyler C. is 10000% a freak in the sheets and I'm here for it.
10:30 p.m. — When I finish the episode I brush my teeth, pop a melatonin, and climb into bed. I stalk Tyler C, on Instagram (SO hot) and then pass out.
Daily Total: $8.56

Day Three

7:50 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm because I really have to pee. I go to the bathroom but then get back in bed for my allotted 10 minutes.
8:10 a.m. — Shower, makeup, breakfast, the whole shebang.
8:55 a.m. — I leave for work. As soon as I get down to the lobby I realize I forgot my umbrella and it's supposed to pour today. I run back upstairs and grab it knowing it will make me a few minutes late to work.
9:45 a.m. — After getting a few emails out at work, I make myself a cup of tea and think about how tired I am. I have a feeling this is going to be a highly unproductive day.
12:20 p.m. — I realize today is payday and I check my account balance. Normally, I'd immediately transfer $50 into my savings but I have to pay a friend back from dinner last weekend so I decide to skip it ($62.29). After spending a brief moment wallowing in my sadness about spending so much money, I head to the common area to heat up my leftover turkey burgers and eat. $62.29
5:25 p.m. — I leave the office and walk home. My friend, S., asked me to get drinks and I tell her that I have to go to the gym first and then I'll see. She lives all the way downtown so it's a bit of a trek to get to her but it's a really nice day out so I consider it.
5:30 p.m. — I get home and finish my bag of potato chips. I give myself a few minutes to digest before changing and heading to the gym.
7:05 p.m. — I get back to my apartment and text S. to let her know that I won't make it for drinks. I know she's going to want me to go out this weekend and I don't feel like spending money on overpriced drinks on a weekday and over the weekend. I then hop in the shower to quickly rinse off.
7:30 p.m. — After my shower, I spend a few minutes browsing bridesmaid dresses before cooking dinner. I make a stir fry and save half for lunch tomorrow. I watch an episode of The Bold Type as I eat and then do my dishes. While I finish the episode I pick off the rest of my nail polish from a manicure from two weeks ago. I'll just re paint them myself this weekend.
10 p.m. — I brush my teeth and decide to be spontaneous and floss before getting into bed. Of course, I pop a melatonin and then spend some time on Facebook while it kicks in.
Daily Total: $62.29

Day Four

8 a.m. — Wake up, social media, shower.
8:25 a.m. — In the shower, I realize that I've gotten my period. I also remember that tonight my brother and I are going to see the Harry Potter play on Broadway and I have to leave straight from work. I'm super excited. When I get out of the shower I get dressed, do my makeup, and eat breakfast. I pack a sweater in case the theatre is cold.
9:15 a.m. — I check my emails and make my usual cup of chai tea.
11 a.m. — I take a quick bathroom break and on my way, notice an incredibly attractive male working in the common area. After I return to my desk, I go make another cup of tea so I can check him out just a little bit more.
12:40 p.m. — I reheat my stir-fry and browse social media.
5:30 p.m. — I leave work to go meet my brother at the 44th street Shake Shack. I have to refill my metro card ($33) and there are tourists in front of me taking ten years to work the machines. Luckily they finish up before the next train arrives and I catch the W uptown. $33
6 p.m. — I meet my brother at Shake Shack. He got there before me and ordered the meal and I promise I'll get us some drinks or dessert after the show. We stand around waiting for a table for a while. We finally manage to snag a table and we talk about his plans for the summer since he didn't land the internship he wanted. I don't get a lot of one on one time with my brother much anymore because he's in college and has a very serious girlfriend and I'm in the real world and very seriously single. It's really nice to have some time with just me and him. We finish up our meals and head over to the theatre.
10:20 p.m. — It's a damn long show but wow is it great. I forget how much I love Harry Potter sometimes and then when I remember it's amazing. After the show, my brother splits to go to his girlfriend's and I hop on the train home. On my way back I pause at the sports bar under my apartment and watch the Blues vs. Bruins game through the window. The Blues are up, which is great, because I swear to god if Boston wins another championship I'll kidnap Tom Brady and hold him hostage in a room where his only entertainment is “show time” subway dancers and his only sustenance is hot dogs from the cart outside the Times Square subway station.
10:50 p.m. — I get home and watch the final six minutes of the game. The Blues win, so Tom Brady is safe — for now. I brush my teeth, take my makeup off, drink a huge glass of water, and pop the ever faithful melatonin.
Daily Total: $33

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up later this morning because I'm working from home today. I scroll through social media then brush my teeth, change out of PJs and into a pair of athletic shorts and set up in the living room. I try to not work in my bed or my PJs because it forces me to feel at least a bit productive at home.
10:30 a.m. — I start to get hungry, so I make myself toast with cream cheese and Trader Joe's Everything Seasoning. I scroll through Instagram while I eat and then get back to work.
12:55 p.m. — I make myself Trader Joe's frozen shells with brie and asparagus and quickly finish an assignment before my next call at 1. I like working from home a lot, but it also requires me to monitor myself and my workload more closely than when I'm in the office.
3:30 p.m. — I feel my brain starting to slow down a bit especially since my inbox has been quiet for a few hours. I decide to hop in the shower so when my brother gets here in a few hours we can cook dinner and skedaddle.
5:20 p.m. — My brother comes over and I quickly finish up a few things for work. I cook us pesto pasta and chicken and then force him to do the dishes while I get dressed. We decide to take the subway to the show because walking will take too long.
10:20 p.m. — After the show, we walk over to a cookie place, Schmakary's, and I buy us cookies ($12). Afterward, we take the subway back to my apartment where he meets his girlfriend and then continues home. $12
11 p.m. — I watch Always Be My Maybe, and then pass out.
Daily Total: $12

Day Six

10:15 a.m. — I wake up and FaceTime S. to talk about our plans for the day. Both of us have to go to the gym and grocery shop first, so we decide to get a group of friends together and meet for drinks later this afternoon.
10:45 — I head over to Trader Joe's to shop for the week. I buy milk, dumplings, peanut butter, a bag of pasta, granola bars, a few frozen meals (TJ's has the best frozen meals), turkey burgers, ravioli, English muffins, spinach, two bags of potato chips, frozen berries, peanut butter cups, and apple cider vinegar. When I get home, I unpack all my groceries, have a granola bar and change for the gym. $46.52
12:30 p.m. — I head to the gym for a quick workout. When I finish up, I call S., who says that they'll be ready around 2:15 for drinks and then hop in the shower.
2:15 p.m. — I decide walking is the quickest way to the bar and I head over. About ten minutes into my walk, S. texts me saying they'll be late. I decide it's useless to turn around and would rather just wait at the bar. I also stop at Duane Reade on my way there to pick up some bandaids for my blister-prone feet. $9.93
3:50 p.m. — Waiting at the bar was a terrible mistake. S. and our friends end up being over an hour late. I decide it's not worth my time anymore and I catch a cab back to my apartment. $17.05
5 p.m. — My other friend who was supposed to meet us at the bar texts me apologizing. She offers to buy me an Uber to the new bar they've relocated to. I decided I'd rather hang out with them than sit in my apartment by myself. When I get there, they offer me a drink and refuse to let me pay. We talk it out and take some pictures by the water. I don't particularly like holding on to anger, especially when it's towards people I really care about.
7 p.m. — We move to another bar nearby to meet up with S.'s work friends. It's cash only so she covers my drinks.
8 p.m. — We decide to go back to my apartment to hang out, change and drink before going to a new bar. I pay for the cab since S. bought all my drinks. $17.30
10 p.m. — After hanging out at my apartment for a bit, we decide to relocate to a bar across town. S. calls the cab but we can't all fit, so I have to call another one. I'm a bit frustrated that I've spent so much money on cabs today but I guess I have yet to buy a drink so that's alright. We head over to the Standard Biergarten which is one of my favorite places to go in the summer since it's outdoors. $23.81
2 a.m. — I finally head home for the night. I take a Via to lessen the price since I spent so much on cabs today. When I get home, I take off my makeup and pass out. $12.92
Daily Total: $127.53

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — I don't set myself an alarm and I wake up super late. I make myself the usual breakfast and put on another Netflix movie. I decide today is going to be a super lazy day.
4 p.m. — After watching a couple of movies, I decide I need to actually do something. I put on my bathing suit and head up to my apartment's roof. My gym club membership also pays for roof access and the club puts out recliners and towels for people to use. I bring a book and a water bottle with me and relax for a bit.
6 p.m. — I decide it's probably time for me to get out of the sun so I head back to my apartment and make dinner. I make stir-fry again and put on the next Blues vs. Bruins game. S. also left beer at my apartment this weekend, so I help myself to one while I watch.
10 p.m. — After I finish dinner, I turn off the game (the Blues aren't doing so well) and wash my dishes. Of course, I pop a melatonin and get ready for bed. I take some extra time with my routine tonight just to make myself feel like I've rid myself of all the toxins from the weekend. The melatonin starts to hit and I pass out.
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.
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.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money