A Week In New York City On A $115,000 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: an entrepreneur working in hospitality who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a Totoro keychain.
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Industry: Hospitality
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $115,000
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $1,160. (Investment income is paid out at the end of the year.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,175
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I didn't take out any student loans. My parents started a college tuition fund for me when I was very little, which I also added to whenever I made money or received monetary gifts.)
MetroCard: $121, taken out of my paycheck pre-tax
Health Insurance: $433, taken out pre-tax
Electricity & Gas: ~$70
Phone: ~$58
Internet: $45
ICloud Storage: $2.99
Afar Magazine Subscription: $1.10

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I get woken up by heavy construction noise outside. Somehow, I manage to fall back asleep. I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night perusing the shopping guide for a Bergdorf Goodman beauty event. (I only found out about it when a last-minute announcement hit my inbox just before midnight.) I rarely shop for skincare products, but the big discount was enticing. I ended up passing on the sale, though, because I just can't justify casually spending $1,000.
9 a.m. — I get woken up again, this time by my neighbor slamming his door. He does this all the time, so I always know when he leaves or comes home. We never say hi to each other in the hallway. Awkward.
10 a.m. — Get ready for work. I left my corporate job last year to pursue entrepreneurship with a group of friends. We run a hospitality management start-up, so our hours are irregular. I'm on call around the clock, but in return I get a flexible schedule and choice of work locations.
10:30 a.m. — I recently changed my makeup look to a warmer tone, which feels refreshing and makes my morning routine more exciting. I'm wearing Tom Ford's Cream and Powder Eye Color today, which I splurged on with a $50 Bloomingdales gift card last week. The golden peach color is dazzling.
11 a.m. — Subway to work.
11:30 a.m. — I snack on chocolate with a glass of soy milk while spending way too much time browsing food delivery websites for lunch ideas. I keep a handful of chocolate bars at work, and our office building provides free coffee, milk, and beers.
12 p.m. — I text my coworker to check if he's okay with Thai food for lunch. All our meals are treated by the owners, but I do the ordering because everyone trusts my foodie instincts. ($34.94 expensed)
1:30 p.m. — Food arrives and so does my coworker, so we eat together. My pad woon sen comes with a variety of vegetables. The colorful dish makes me happy.
2 p.m. — My compensation package is finalized – I got the raise I wanted! This is no small triumph, because I tend to avoid confrontation. I immediately share the good news with my family and my best friend over text.
4 p.m. — My friend sends over housing options to help me out with moving. I can no longer tolerate the peeling paint and rampant mice in my current apartment, and I need to move out. I also have vacation on the mind – my family is spread out across the world, so we try to plan something special together every year.
6 p.m. — I go home to shower and relax. Then I watch YouTube videos while doing chores. I like self-help videos and motivational speeches, as well as cooking tutorials and travel videos.
7 p.m. — I eat marinated soft-boiled egg and frozen roasted sweet potatoes for dinner. I also finish up leftover bone broth with mushroom and goji berries that I made last weekend. I'm a decent cook and used to experiment with a lot of different recipes, but I have gradually reduced my cooking in favor of socializing more.
9 p.m. — To aid in my lunch decision-making, I sign up for a catering service for the rest of the week. I recently got hooked on this catering service that delivers to Manhattan office buildings from different restaurants.
11 p.m. — I read Money Diaries for ideas on what to do with my new-found wealth from my raise until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up feeling like a millionaire. Financial freedom is empowering!
12 p.m. — I receive a text notification that my lunch has arrived, so I leave the office to look for the truck. Today's lunch is Taiwanese bento boxes, and my pick is stewed pig's trotter with lotus root in a fermented bean curd sauce, which is served with white rice and cabbage. I order for two coworkers but only one of them shows up, so I save the extra food for later. ($47 expensed)
1 p.m. — While I was waiting in the pickup line, a guy walking by asked me about the truck and, after we talked for a minute, he gave me his business card. When I get back to my desk, I email him a link to the catering service's website. He had a cute French accent and was quite friendly, so I secretly hope to strike up more conversations with him.
4 p.m. — More coworkers swing by the office. Most people in my company work out in the field, so we only rent a miniscule space for office use. The noise makes it hard to concentrate, but it's also interesting to hear updates about other projects.
6 p.m. — I go with the team to a ping pong bar, but when we get there, all the ping pong tables are reserved. We decide to just look around and chill out with food and drinks. We thoroughly enjoy the short rib poutine and pulled pork sliders but get a little overwhelmed by the ricotta cheese on the flatbread. My coworkers indulge in beer and apple cider while I attempt to fit in with my sparkling water. I may not appreciate the taste of alcohol, but I certainly get the spirit!
9 p.m. — I leave the group with one other coworker. We chat a bit more about work and life on the subway before going our separate ways. I get home feeling still slightly hungry, so I eat a coconut-mango Nounos yogurt that I've been craving and a banana that's about to get too ripe.
11:30 p.m. — I watch eyeshadow palette review videos on YouTube to research for my next purchase. I have worn little-to-no makeup all my life, but I've had a passion for eyeshadow and lip color recently. But I need to know all my options before making any commitment, and that applies to eyeshadow palettes and my life partner. This is such a strenuous task that I pass out before buying anything.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

9 a.m. — It's taken a few days, but I finally come around to unboxing a package from Express I ordered last week. I got four clothing items, a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, and pink sneakers for summer during a site-wide sale ($126.15). I try everything on and decide to keep two black tops as well as the shoes and sunglasses. The other stuff either doesn't look flattering my body or I don't love the colors.
11:30 a.m. — There is leftover dessert from yesterday's lunch in the office fridge – taro and tapioca in sweet coconut milk. I know I'm about to have lunch, but this will spoil fast, so I feel obligated to prioritize it. Pre-lunch dessert it is!
12:30 p.m. — I grab food from the same catering service as yesterday. Today's menu is spicy hot pot with sliced fatty beef and assorted vegetables. I particularly love the springy sweet potato vermicelli that soaks up all the flavors of the soup. My coworker eats his in tears because of the spicy level. I make a mental note to get him something less spicy next time. ($24.98 expensed)
7 p.m. — I head home with the remainder of yesterday's lunch leftovers. My coworkers despise leftover food, but I can't bring myself to throw out perfectly good food. I feel that I owe it to the plants/animals that sacrificed their lives and the people that prepared the food with time, effort, and care.
7:30 p.m. — I get home, shower, and set my dinner on the table: leftover baked chicken with a peach-passion fruit Nounos yogurt and an apple. After posing my yogurt with props in the right lighting and finding a satisfactory angle and distance for the picture, I am able to eat my dinner in peace. (Did I mention I have to take a picture of everything I eat? Otherwise it's like I didn't eat it, right?)
11 p.m. — I'm making an effort to go to bed earlier, which is hard due to the nature of my industry. My skin used to be better when I went to bed by 10 p.m. I purposefully refrained from coffee and tea today, so I am able to fall asleep relatively quickly.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

11 a.m. — A friend reminds me of Japan Week at Grand Central, so I detour to check it out. My monthly MetroCard has expired, so I have to pay for the single trip fare. $2.75
11:40 a.m. — It takes no time to look through the exhibition. I am disappointed that there's only one food vendor at the event this year. I believe that food is the best way to share culture. It brings people together, which is why I dedicate my life to it.
12 p.m. — I pick up three meals from the lunch catering service. Spicy hot pot again because I can't get enough of all-in-one meals. ($32 expensed)
2 p.m. — My coworkers still haven't shown up for their food. I text to find out that they are not coming. Friday is my field work day, so I bring the food to share with people there. They gladly accept it.
4 p.m. — I finish work early, and it's a beautiful Friday afternoon, so I accept my coworker's invitation to go get dessert. We go to a fancy place where they serve a three-course all-dessert meal. I have known about this place for ages, but the idea of dessert after dessert always seemed excessive to me. The meal turns out extraordinarily light and refreshing – we even ordered two extra main courses (of desserts). What a promising start for my weekend! The total bill is around $75, and my coworker/friend pays in return for my treat a while back.
5:30 p.m. — I go to Express to return the unwanted clothes. I still want something real for dinner, so I walk over to Koreatown to get kimchi – I'm craving something crisp and pungent. This seems like a good occasion to order a mung bean pancake as well, which is usually too substantial to accompany an entrée. $16.33
6 p.m. — My brother texts me from across the world while I'm waiting for my takeout. I immediately turn into a six-year-old girl who jumps for joy when her big brother shows affection.
7 p.m. — I get home and eat my takeout with a little more of the leftover chicken from yesterday.
10 p.m. — I saw on social media that one of my acquaintances has two lovely Ragdolls. I've been considering getting a Ragdoll myself, so I talk to her and learn a ton about the breed.
11 p.m. — I listen to podcasts about intuitive eating until I fall asleep. I'm aware that I've had a somewhat distorted relationship with food ever since I started dieting around age 17. Being so preoccupied with food all the time has led me to miss out more important things in life, and I am hoping I can restore my relationship with it.
Daily Total: $19.08

Day Five

9 a.m. — I stalk my favorite lifestyle blogger on Instagram. She just started a 100-day workout challenge to embrace a more active lifestyle. I consider whether I should sign up for the gym as well. I give up the thought quickly – I would enjoy playing sports much more, so I consider picking up some kind of racquet sport.
11 a.m. — I see pictures of brunches on Instagram, so that's what I want now. I look up places for eggs benedict around me. I want avocado and hollandaise sauce, bonus points if the bread isn't plain old English muffin. Not a lot of options meet these criteria. I finally settle on a British-style pub right around my block.
12 p.m. — Bummer! The restaurant no longer accepts walk-ins today. I go back home and semi-satisfy my craving with marinated soft-boiled eggs and yogurt.
1 p.m. — I graze on snacks (kimchi, Taiwanese moon cake, a KIND bar, chocolate, and nuts) throughout the day while I read more Money Diaries. I usually spend my free time watching movies, TV, and documentaries, but this is not one of those weekends.
2 p.m. — I remember that the teeth whitening kit I ordered on Amazon should've been delivered yesterday, so I go downstairs and find it.
5 p.m. — I make a Chinese dessert soup with silver ear and lotus root seeds. I also throw in a couple of dried longan fruit for sweetness. I have a dinner plan with a friend at 8, so I cook a piece of frozen crab-stuffed shrimp to hold myself over until then.
8 p.m. — While waiting for my friend in the subway station, I see a cellist who performs there often. He's dressed in a green outfit today and looks super cute, so I give him a tip. He smiles. $1
8:30 p.m. — I am craving spicy chewy noodles, so we go to Koreatown. The restaurant is super busy, and we are asked to give our table (where we have already been seated) to a couple who came and ordered AFTER us because “their food came out first.” I don't understand why this is necessary, given that the table right next to us is literally being cleaned, but we comply and can't help but laugh. I consider leaving a bad review on Yelp, but figure that it wouldn't make a difference anyway. The restaurant doesn't accept multiple credit cards, so I take the opportunity to treat my friend – at least one of us should feel special tonight! $38
9:30 p.m. — We head over to Sephora for some girl fun and walk around the store exchanging knowledge of products we have used or heard about. I don't buy anything, but get some ideas for Sephora's semi-annual sale in April.
11 p.m. — My friend is craving a fruity drink, so we find a cute Korean café. She orders a mango peach smoothie, and I get water because I am not a big fan of sweetened drinks. All the dessert items in the display case looks amazing, but I left my dessert stomach at home after today's snacking.
12 a.m. — I get home and shower just in time to tune into tonight's live episode of this YouTube channel I follow. It mainly features food and travel videos, and tonight's theme is a spicy noodle challenge. The people are very personable, and watching them feels like videochatting with my best friends. I fall asleep near the end.
Daily Total: $39

Day Six

12 p.m. — I finally get into the pub for brunch! My custom eggs benedict turns out just okay, but the atmosphere is nostalgic and the waitress very nice, so I'm 100% satisfied. $25
1 p.m. — I hop on the subway for an afternoon meeting at one of our properties. The sunshine is amazing, so I get off one station earlier to walk and take in sunshine. I used to go to school around this area, so the familiar streets bring back memories that put a smile on my face.
2 p.m. — Back-to-back meetings. My team and I learn a lot of things that are important for our future developments.
8 p.m. — My coworkers send me home with leftover soup and yummy seaweed and mushroom salad. I take a stroll around Union Square and then return to my neighborhood.
10 p.m. — I chat with friends on the phone and make plans for next weekend. This has been a fulfilling week. I go to sleep with a positive outlook for next week.
Daily Total: $25

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up to find a Delivery.com promo in my inbox. I can place four orders this month and get $10 off. That's a good deal, but I am not sure I can squeeze that much takeout in such a short time. I save the email anyway.
9 a.m. — I get to work earlier than usual, and — surprise! — the building is providing catered fried chicken, waffles, and omelets today.
10 a.m. — My coworkers get here early too! Our work environment is great and it motivates me.
12 p.m. — Lunch from the catering service is here. The menu today is Mala dry pot with ten thousand ingredients in it. I order for four (and make sure that half of the order isn't spicy), and there happen to be exactly four people here today, so no food goes to waste – yay! One of my coworkers turns on a variety show on YouTube, so we watch together. ($40 expensed)
3 p.m. — I spend the afternoon tackling some issues for our business. I like the problem-solving aspect of entrepreneurship!
4 p.m. — During my down time, I check out fresh deals on FreshDirect. I put off ordering because I don't want to over-order for the sake of meeting the delivery minimum.
5:30 — I head to H-Mart after work. I only intend to grab something light because I'm not very hungry, but I end up with a basket of gorgeous-looking produce: bok choy, tomatoes, oranges, apples, Japanese sweet potatoes, Okinawan sweet potatoes, and sticky corn ($24.13). I also impulse-buy an adorable Totoro keychain in the checkout aisle because Totoro is my favorite cartoon character, and I tell myself that I can always use a spare keychain ($6). $30.13
7 p.m. — I eat a yogurt and a giant Sunkist orange, which I neatly cut into eight pieces to prolong my enjoyment of it. Somehow this works up my appetite, so I snack on more nuts and also microwave sweet potatoes. I like to microwave sweet potatoes because it slightly dries them out and intensifies the sweetness.
12 a.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $30.13
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.
Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following themes:
1. International Week: We want to run one Money Diary from a different country each day for a week. Want to show what it's like to live outside of the U.S.? Submit here!
2. Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Rep your state and submit here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Keep Track Of Your Vacation Spending: We're looking to get the inside scoop on when, where, and how our peers are using their vacation days. Open to tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip? Email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series