A Week In New York City On A $60,200 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 paralegal working in government who makes $60,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on flats from H&M.
Occupation: Paralegal
Industry: Government
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $60,200
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$1,800
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $675 (I share a room with a college friend in a two-bedroom apartment. We bunk. I know, I know — we keep telling ourselves it's a temporary thing.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Financial aid, scholarships, and paid internships/work study got me through college.)
Internet/Electricity: ~$35
Gym: $13
Spotify & Hulu: $4.99
The New York Times & The New Yorker Subscriptions: $8
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Annual Expenses
MoviePass: $89.99

Day One

9:30 a.m. — Wake up feeling grateful that I didn't go out last night. I head to a brunch place to catch up with a friend. The Moroccan-style bowl I get is amazing, and I wonder if I can recreate it in the future with some cheaper grocery store ingredients. $18
11:30 a.m. — I pop into Sephora to make a return. It was a slightly expensive item, so I use the money back as an excuse to pick up a replacement mascara and a new setting powder I've been wanting to try. The summer humidity lately has me willing to spend all kinds of money to prevent my face from being constantly shiny. $30.44
5 p.m. — After heading home to put on more makeup, I walk over to Central Park with a friend for a free concert. It's raining, but we brought umbrellas — nothing is going to stop me from seeing Tokimonsta play in Central Park.
9:30 p.m. — Concert ends a bit early. My friend and I are tired but happy after a solid 4+ hours of jamming to rappers and DJs we rarely get to see live, let alone for free. They're all West Coast artists, where my friend and I are both from, so we definitely feel a little sentimental hearing their songs performed in the ultimate New York place that is Central Park.
10 p.m. — We head back to my apartment to get ready for a friend's housewarming party. I take my friend to the Mexican grocery store downstairs that makes the best tacos I've had in NYC. My go-to order: two tacos al pastor. $7
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11:30 p.m. — The housewarming is well underway by the time we get there. I drag my conversation skills out of the dusty compartment I shoved them in after graduation and force myself to socialize. At least there's free alcohol.
2 a.m. — My friend is pretty lit and wants to continue the party elsewhere. One of my favorite bars is a 20-minute walk away, so I suggest a nice stroll there. Cover at the door is $5 for women and $10 for men. These gendered price discrepancies always make me feel bad for my male friends. My friend pays.
2:30 a.m. — The music is bumping, but the dance floor is pretty cleared out, so I get a drink because I feel awkward, and also buy my friend a drink, because he paid my cover charge. Totally not equal, but I don't want to make a big deal and seem stingy. $28
3:30 — I walk to the train station because I don't want to pay for an Uber all the way back uptown. I'm thankful to the friends who support my public transit habit by walking me to stations at 3 or 4 in the morning. I shower and am in bed by 4:30.
Daily Total: $83.44

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up without a hangover, but my legs feel swollen as hell. I'm annoyed at my aging body and eat yogurt and a papaya milk smoothie to make myself feel healthier.
1 p.m. — Roommate wants to work out, something I'm in sore need of. We split a gym membership that's $26/month with unlimited guest privileges, and she's been really great at dragging me out with her.
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7 p.m. — Spent a lazy day in bed (I'm bottom bunk, for those curious), so I decide I don't need to make too big of a dinner. I steam some rice, boil some bok choy, and make a quick dish that is basically eggs scrambled with edamame and green onion. I make a portion to pack for tomorrow's lunch as well.
11:30 p.m. — I'm in bed early, feeling down about the work week starting again tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I recently started this job, and I'm still getting used to waking up almost an entire hour earlier for the longer commute. I grab a yogurt and am out the door in time to arrive by 9.
12 p.m. — I eat my packed lunch early.
5:30 p.m. — I stop by Chinatown after work to pick up fresh groceries — a head of cabbage, a carrot, and some oranges. $5.10
8 p.m. — I'm bored of eating rice, so I make noodles with this spicy instant pack my mom shipped me from California. It's organic, and the chili oil that comes with it is super delicious. I toss in some bok choy and an egg to get my nutrients in.
9 p.m. — My best friend and I want to make a weekend trip to Miami, so we spend a few hours looking for cheap flights and figuring out the best dates. We scheme together on how to get away with an early Monday flight back into the city.
12 a.m. — In bed early again, ready (or not) for another routine day at the office.
Daily Total: $5.10

Day Four

8 a.m. — I snooze my alarm one too many times and have to rush out of the apartment to make it to work on time. I realize I forgot to grab a yogurt when I'm already on the train.
9:10 a.m. — I'm exceptionally hungry this morning, so I decide to order breakfast delivery. The closest deli has a $12 minimum, so I decide to get extra food that I can save for lunch. I place an order for an iced coffee, a bagel with lox, and a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. The prices are probably about a dollar more than at the deli under my apartment, which is a little annoying, but unavoidable. $14.98
12:30 p.m. — I eat my deli sandwich at my desk while working, which is something that I usually hate doing. I get a set amount of time for my lunch breaks though, so there isn't much I can do about it. My duties these past two weeks has been to draft and revise court orders and motions for the attorneys.
3 p.m. — I'm hitting the late afternoon slump, so I walk out to grab some boba. I get a jasmine milk tea with boba, 50% sugar and light ice. $5.17
6 p.m. — On my way home from work, I stop by H&M to pick up more formalwear. My work bag and a few of my work flats are all falling apart, so I pick up some replacements. I also snag a work-appropriate dress and a flowy black skirt (with pockets!). $140.35
7 p.m. — Roommate and I head to the gym. Because the gym location we like best isn't close by, the whole session including transit time always takes around two and a half hours.
9:10 p.m. — Stop by a small Japanese grocery store close to our gym that we've been obsessed with. We found out this place sells the perfect small portions of high quality meat and fish, so we've been buying some every time we go to the gym. I like that we've found a way to eat meat without having to throw a ton of it away. I get a portion of pork belly for the dinner I want to make later. $5.60
10 p.m. — Dinner is yakisoba with fresh cabbage, carrot, and pork belly. It's easily one of my favorite recipes, cause it's quick and cheap to make but still tastes bomb. I save a portion for tomorrow's lunch.
11:30 p.m. — My best friend and I decide to bite the bullet and book our flights to Miami. The flights we were looking at before have gone up in price by too much, so we end up settling for budget airline flights to nearby Fort Lauderdale instead. We reason that the Uber Pool to our Airbnb will still be cheaper than the pricier Miami flight. $122.34
1 a.m. — I get to bed a little late, but I'm super excited about this Miami trip. I use travel as a way to decompress from my job and city life. This is also the first ever plane trip I'll be taking with my best friend.
Daily Total: $288.44

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, put on light makeup, eat yogurt, and am out the door. I buy a new weekly unlimited MetroCard at the train station. I've switched to weeklies so I can skip the days when I stay in all day or choose to walk everywhere. $32
12:30 p.m. — Eat my yakisoba at my desk. My friends and I discuss watching Crazy Rich Asians tonight. MoviePass only lets you book a ticket an hour early, so we make plans to meet right after work at the theater.
6:50 p.m. — Bad news — every showing tonight is sold out on MoviePass, and in-theater tickets are sold out until 9:45. We make the decision to shell out the ticket money for the sake of financially supporting the film. MoviePass is truly useless. $16.99
8 p.m. — My friends and I get dinner while we wait at one of those trendy "bowl food" chains. The hummus is actually spicy by my high standards, and the portions are so large that I can save some for tomorrow's lunch. $12.65
9:15 p.m. — There's a boba shop across the street and I can't resist getting some. I tell myself to save it and sneak it into the movie. Doesn't happen. $5.17
9:45 p.m. — Our seats for Crazy Rich Asians are literally in the first row. My ears hurt from the volume barely 10 minutes in. Despite the uncomfortable viewing experience, the movie is fantastic and the theater audience gasps and laughs along in all the right places.
12:20 p.m. — I take the train home and try to process the tumult of emotions the movie made me feel. I make a mental note to tell my parents to watch it. I shower and am in bed by 1.
Daily Total: $66.81

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — Ugh, waking up early after late night plans is the worst. I rush out of my apartment with yogurt in one hand and leftovers in the other.
12:15 p.m. — I eat at my desk again.
6:30 p.m. — As soon as I get home from work, I steam some rice while I boil bok choy and pan-fry the rest of the pork belly. I eat quickly and then head out to the gym with my roommate.
10:30 p.m. — Back from the gym and freshly showered. Now that our flights are settled, I need to figure out our Airbnb situation for Miami. My best friend and I spend a few hours perusing the listings and sending each other extravagant penthouses as a joke. We settle on a private room in a small condo within walking distance of South Beach. I make a new Airbnb account so I can get the $40 referral credit. $41.20
12:10 a.m. — It's officially my birthday here on the East Coast. I have mixed feelings about being another year older. I'm too tired to stay up worrying about my life trajectory, though, so I knock out.
Daily Total: $41.20

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and scroll through our family group chat for a few minutes. I have a twin brother, so we both think it's hilarious to wish each other a happy birthday. I'm out of yogurt, so it looks like I'm skipping breakfast today.
9:00 a.m. — Get to work, and I don't tell any of my coworkers it's my birthday (so awkward, that new hire period).
1 p.m. — I decide to treat myself today instead of getting another random Seamless delivery. My coworker and I place orders from Chick-fil-A, and I eat at my desk. $8.43
4 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day figuring out my birthday plans. I don't like making a big deal out of my birthday, so I opt for a chill dinner with some close friends, and then a hookah session at a new lounge I discovered.
6:50 p.m. — After waiting almost an hour, we finally get a table. This restaurant is my favorite place for Korean food in Manhattan. I split a large pot and get a drink. My friend covers my tab as a birthday present. So kind!
8:45 p.m. — On the way to hookah, we detour and stop by a rooftop bar. I don't feel like drinking, so we just take some cute pictures and admire the skyline. Next is a boba shop, where I *do* feel like drinking. I get two cups because there's a card minimum and I feel like treating myself. Grapefruit green tea and honey green milk tea, both 50% sugar and light ice. $9.25
9:45 p.m. — This hookah lounge is always popping. We decide to splurge and get a fancy hookah with a milk base instead of water. I keep phantom-chewing my inhales because the smoke tastes so creamy. I can feel myself relaxing already. Not sure if it's the nicotine or just the good vibes I associate with going to a hookah lounge with friends. $43
11 p.m. — My friend wants us to do Jägerbombs for my birthday, his treat. It goes on my tab, though, because there's a table minimum. It's a bit pricey in the end, but I feel fine about covering it all since I'm grateful that my friends came out to spend the night with me. $48.50
11:30 p.m. — Bathroom break. I'm struggling to tie my romper back up when I accidentally swat my phone into the toilet. God, that's so disgusting. Thankfully I have insurance, so my mistake is more gross than pricey.
12:10 p.m. — I call an Uber Pool home, since the nearest subway station is shut down for the weekend. On the carride uptown, I make a Finsta post about my birthday and how I'm feeling. I know 23 is still really young, but I can't help but feel like time is slipping by too quickly. I've been putting off law school applications for the sake of “getting more work experience” – which is actually just my own thinly-veiled excuse to live the life of a carefree young adult with a steady income but not many responsibilities. $6.15
Daily Total: $115.33
Editor's Note: This diary has been edited to protect the identity of the diarist.
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.
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