A Week In New York City On A $70,000 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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 programmer working in tech who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a white orchid.
Occupation: Programmer
Industry: Tech
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $70,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,955
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,250 for a studio. (I knew someone who knew someone, and got a great deal.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents helped fund my education.)
Health Insurance: $0 (The health insurance through my work is terrible and expensive, so I'm on my parents' plan.)
Electricity: ~$100
Internet: $15
Spotify: $9.99
Phone: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.)
MetroCard: $121 for 30 days unlimited
Therapy: $160
Savings: ~$500-$1,000 (I put in whatever I have leftover every month.)
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Additional Expenses
Cleaning Service: $60, every other week

Day One

9 a.m. — I get to work just in time for the start of my Monday morning meeting. These meetings are pretty much a waste of my time, but we get catered breakfast, which makes it worth it. I make myself half of an everything bagel with peanut butter and an espresso. I prefer coffee, but my office doesn't have a drip coffee maker.
1 p.m. — I'm dying to take a little lunchtime walk, but I'm too busy to leave my desk.
3 p.m. — I didn't pack my lunch today, but I'm not super hungry and I don't have a lot of time, so I get an iced coffee from a nearby café. $3.21
5 p.m.. — My office kitchen stocks tons of snacks, so I grab a bag of popcorn and try to get a difficult code enigma figured out.
6 p.m. — I take the subway to my therapy appointment. I have time to spare, so I stop by a boutique and pick up a pretty black blouse and bralette ($41). I also stop by the ATM to take out a month's worth of therapy co-pays. I'm not insured through my workplace, but through some weird exception, my work funded a $750 HSA account for me. I withdraw the money from that account ($160). $41
8 p.m. — I leave my therapist's office and go to Whole Foods. This is a weekly ritual for me. I love grocery shopping — it feels like an extension of my therapy session. I get a green bell pepper, Persian cucumbers, grape tomatoes, a yellow onion, chickpeas, black beans, tempeh, vegan chick'n nuggets, a frozen burrito, and almond milk. $28
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9:30 p.m. — I shower, change into comfy clothes, and start cooking up some cauliflower kimchi fried rice and a chopped vegetable side salad. I was planning on packing the leftovers for lunch tomorrow, but end up eating everything. I go back into the kitchen to cook another serving for tomorrow.
11 p.m. — I get into bed with my book and fall asleep soon after.
Daily Total: $72.21

Day Two

8:15 a.m. — It's impossible for me to wake up earlier than I absolutely need to, so most mornings I end up getting out of bed at the last possible second and frantically getting ready. I go through my routine and then remember that I need to do my makeup because I have a date later tonight. I don't wear makeup every day, but I make an effort if I have social plans after work. I contemplate taking my makeup bag to work and doing it there, but decide to do it now and be a few minutes late instead.
9:10 a.m. — Not too late to work, fortunately. I make myself an espresso and eat half a bagel with peanut butter from yesterday's leftovers.
1 p.m. — I eat my desk lunch of kimchi fried cauliflower rice and salad.
3 p.m. — I'm feeling restless, so I go across the street to get a coffee and a chocolate croissant. I sit by the window and people watch for a little while. $5.38
6:15 p.m. — A guy I've been seeing for the past couple months, D., picks me up from my office to take me to dinner. I've felt somewhat ambivalent about this guy since I've met him. We have an amazing emotional connection, but I don't feel intense physical chemistry. I find myself comparing him to my ex a lot, which sucks. We walk to a cute Thai restaurant, where we each get a glass of white wine and share a julienne salad, edamame dip with wonton chips, and spicy vegetable tofu green curry. Everything is delicious. He offers to pay, but I insist that we split. $23.14
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8 p.m. — We take the subway back to his place. The only dessert he has is a half a cookie left in the freezer, so he puts it on a frying pan to heat it up for me while I shower.
8:30 p.m. — I spend 15 minutes on the phone with my dad. I haven't talked to him in a couple months. Our conversation feels a little forced, but it's nice to catch up.
9 p.m. — D. and I cuddle in bed with our books. I'm not a huge fan of watching TV or movies in the evening. I spend my whole day in front of a computer, and a lot of time intermittently on my phone answering texts and emails. It's just too much screen time for me. I try to read my book, but we end up talking for most of the night until we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $28.52

Day Three

8 a.m. — I drag myself out of bed. I don't sleep well sharing a bed with someone, and I am usually crabby in the morning. Not a good combination, but somehow D. finds my bad attitude charming. I borrow a sweater from his closet so I'm not wearing the exact same clothes as yesterday. D. walks me to the train station, and on our way through the park, we stop to admire the feral cats that live there. I love the cats, and love how D. always indulges in this habit with me.
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9 a.m. — Arrive at the office and make myself some espresso.
10:30 a.m. — Feeling peckish, so I eat some pita chips and hummus from the office kitchen.
12:30 p.m. — I walk to The Strand to pick up a book I've been wanting to read: My Promised Land by Ari Shavit. They have a used copy available, so I choose that over a new edition. I also wanted to get Two Sisters by Åsne Seierstad, but they don't have it in stock. $9.25
1 p.m. — I get Indian food for lunch: a bowl with brown rice, chana masala, and saag paneer, plus a small samosa. $8
3 p.m. — I check the Mint app on my phone and see that my tax refund has arrived! $1,490! I tell myself I should treat myself to a designer bag I want, but I know I probably won't. I don't like making big purchases, but I generally let myself indulge in smaller treats throughout the month.
4 p.m. — I cancel a drinks date I had scheduled tonight. I've been out with this guy, J., twice. He's great on paper, but I'm just not crazy about him. When I met my ex, I was instantly enamored, and I guess I'm waiting for that feeling again. There's a free classical music concert tonight that I want to go to, and I contemplate inviting him, but decide I'd rather go alone.
9:30 p.m. — The concert was amazing. So nice to close my eyes and focus on the beautiful music. I donate $5 to the nonprofit that organized the event. Via is having a promotion where they're offering rides for $2.95, so I call a car home and tip the driver a couple of extra dollars. $10
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10 p.m. — I snack on a hard boiled egg, two pieces of toast with goat cheese, and a couple cookies with a glass of almond milk.
11:30 p.m. — Not sure where the rest of the evening went. I talk on the phone with D. for a few minutes before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $27.25

Day Four

8:25 a.m. — Barely drag myself out of bed. Why does no amount of sleep ever feel like enough?
9:15 a.m. — Roll into work late. I'm pretty emotionally checked out of this job. I've been here for a year and a half and plan on leaving soon to freelance for the summer. My boss is insufferable. We sit next to each other, and he has literally clipped his nails under his desk while sitting two feet away from me before, among other infractions. I also recently found out that one of my male colleagues makes significantly more than I do, despite doing the same job and having similar qualifications as me. It's left me feeling bitter, and consequently, I've felt no guilt about coming to work late or taking long lunch breaks. I make an espresso and eat an ezekiel bread English muffin with peanut butter that I brought from home.
12:30 p.m. — I walk to Muji to look for a housewarming gift for a colleague. I peruse for a while but don't find anything. Then I take a walk around the neighborhood and return to my desk to eat the veggie burger and salad I packed for lunch.
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3 p.m. — A colleague and I go across the street to get coffee, and the barista tells me it's on the house!
6 p.m. — On my way out of work, I take out cash from an ATM for my cleaning lady who is coming tomorrow ($60). She cleans for me every other week. It's a pretty unnecessary luxury considering I live in a studio and am generally pretty neat, but cleaning makes me anxious and it's so nice never having to deep clean. I've been thinking about ending our arrangement and cleaning myself, but my cleaning lady is the sweetest, most hardworking woman and I feel terrible taking away one of her income sources.
7 p.m. — After changing and doing my makeup at home, I meet J. for dinner at a Vietnamese place near me. He was very gracious after I cancelled last minute yesterday, so I go despite not feeling very excited about the date. I have a huge bowl of spicy curry veggies with brown rice. J. pays.
9 p.m. — We walk over to a nearby bar and spend the evening flirting, playing chess, and drinking. He pays again.
11 p.m. — J. walks me home and we make out on the street for a while. It was a nice date, but once I'm back in my apartment, all I can think about is my ex. I'm still pretty tipsy, so I put on "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor on repeat and wonder if my ex is feeling the same way.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Aren't I too young to have such a bad hangover for drinking this little?? I text my boss to let him know I'll be late.
9:25 a.m. — I get to work, make myself an espresso, and chug a couple glasses of water.
12 p.m. — My work caters lunch one day a week, so I fill my plate with coconut brown rice, mashed sweet potatoes, and roasted veggies.
1 p.m. — I walk over to The Strand, and they have Two Sisters in stock today! I buy it. Next I walk to my optometrist's office to pick up a six-month supply of contact lenses. I payed for it with my HSA last week. $14.50
5 p.m. — I leave work and take the train to Times Square to try to get discounted Broadway tickets for myself and a friend. Unfortunately, there are no affordable tickets left for the shows we wanted to see. I call her to break the news, and we decide to meet at an Italian restaurant instead.
8 p.m. — My friend and I each get a pizza and also split a burrata and beet salad and a bottle of rosé prosecco. The food is divine, and I end up a little drunk. $43.55
10 p.m. — I take a cab home. While I was at work, my cleaning lady came, and my apartment is spotless. I shower, snuggle up in my freshly washed sheets, and fall asleep to an episode of Dateline. $12.87
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Daily Total: $70.92

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up hungover, take some ibuprofen, and lay in bed for an hour.
10 a.m. — I get coffee from a coffee cart on my block for $1.25. I sip slowly and walk to Lululemon to exchange a pair of leggings D. got me as a gift. He's a thoughtful gift giver and I really appreciate the gesture, but I hate the print he picked out. I didn't have the heart to tell him that, so I feigned enthusiasm. He left me with a gift receipt, so despite feeling guilty, I exchange them for a more sensible navy blue color. The sales lady somehow convinced me to exchange my $98 pair for an even more expensive pair, so I end up paying the difference ($43). Afterwards, I go to Madewell and pick up a blouse that makes me excited for spring ($44). $88.25
12 p.m. — Back at my apartment, I eat an apple with peanut butter while I pack a small weekend bag. I'm going to be dog-sitting for a family member for a couple of days. When I arrive at their place, I see they left me $80!
2 p.m. — I've had such a lazy afternoon. I still have a bit of a headache, so I've just been dozing on the couch and browsing the Internet. I answer a few emails that I've been meaning to get to and help myself to a bagel I find in the freezer, as well as some Mallomars from the cabinet.
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4:30 p.m. — I walk to a nearby florist to get a last minute gift for my colleague's housewarming party tonight. I pick out a gorgeous orchid without asking how much it costs first. The total is $38, and I know I could have gotten the same thing for half the cost at Whole Foods, but I console myself by telling myself that it's good to support local businesses. $38
7 p.m. — After feeding and walking the dog, I grab a bottle of wine from the fridge (I was given permission!) and take the subway to Brooklyn. The journey takes about an hour in total, and I get lost in my book.
11:30 p.m. — I leave the housewarming party. It was low-key, and I had a great time. My colleague's girlfriend made delicious tofu sliders just for me because she knows I'm a vegetarian, which was such a lovely gesture. I take the train back to Manhattan and call D. to see if he wants to meet up at the apartment where I'm dog-sitting. He arrives not long after I do, and we catch up and cuddle with the dog before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $126.25

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — Sharing a bed with D. and the dog left me with way too little space and blanket last night. I barely slept. D. and I take the dog for a walk and then I make us bagels and coffee.
11 a.m. — We go to the park and sit in the sun for a while. The dog has anxiety issues, so she doesn't come with us. :(
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2 p.m. — I feed the dog and take her for a walk. Then I hop on the train to go to my friend's apartment in Queens. The trip takes forever, but I remembered to bring my books, so I get some quality reading time in. I arrive at my friend's apartment just as she's taking lemon poppy cookies out of the oven. We eat a few and then walk over to the Noguchi Museum. It's a smallish museum featuring an amazing outdoor sculpture garden. It's my first time visiting, and I'm in love!
6 p.m. — On our way back to my friend's place, I stop at the Vietnamese café across the street to get a huge spicy tofu sandwich. $7.50
7 p.m. — I take the train back to feed the dog her dinner and go for another walk. I do some laundry (they have a washer and dryer in their apartment!) and clean up the place. Then I try on my new Lululemon leggings and immediately regret buying them. I plan on exchanging them again next weekend for a more reasonable pair.
8 p.m. — I'm hungry, so I go out and buy myself a small bag of potato chips and a Hershey bar with almonds. $3
10 p.m. — I end my night quietly, reading my book, cuddling with the dog, and falling asleep to an episode of Forensic Files.
Daily Total: $10.50
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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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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