A Week In New York City On A $52,000 Salary

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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 social worker who makes $52,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her paycheck on fondue.
Occupation: Social Worker
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 28
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,514
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0. (My fiancé covers it.)
Health Insurance: $44.44, out of my paycheck
Internet: $70, split between my fiancé and me
Electricity: $30-$120, depending on our A/C usage
Gym: $0. (My parents pay.)
Netflix: $0. (My brother pays for it as my birthday present.)
Hulu: $0. (I use my fiancé's account.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I am paying off my grad school directly without loans. I still owe my school $1,700, but I have until May.)
Zumba Certification: $30
403(b): $400
IRA: Whatever is leftover in my account, with a max of $5,500/year.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I get to sleep in on Thursdays for an extra hour because the Zumba class I like doesn't start until 9 a.m. I get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, and go to my gym. Then I head home, eat breakfast, and shower. I make the same breakfast every morning: mushrooms, cooked spinach, egg whites, turkey bacon, tomatoes, and mozzarella. It's delicious and healthy.
11 a.m. — I haven't gotten my nails done in a month and I'm going away next weekend, so I decide it's time. I get a pedicure, gel manicure, and a lip wax, and read while I sit. (The nail technician gives me looks since the book is called Trauma Therapy.) I like to tip well at places I go to on a regular basis, so I tip $16. $89.31
12:30 p.m. — Nails are done and it's time to go to work. I love gel because I don't have to worry about messing it up. I take the bus and get off a bit early to get a chai from Starbucks with my preloaded card.
3 p.m. — I get to work and realize none of my bosses are in, so our staff meeting is cancelled, I guess. My coworkers and I decide to hold our own meeting to discuss issues we've wanted to bring up to our bosses. One of my coworkers orders buffalo wings for everyone.
7 p.m. — Workday is slow until a case comes in. Once the family arrives, the children are interviewed and the paperwork is completed by 10:30 p.m. My shift usually ends at 9 p.m., unless something like this comes up. If a child is being abused, the situation has to be figured out right then and there to ensure there is a safe place for the child. I decide to stick around to make sure everyone leaves okay and because my office only pays for cabs after 11 p.m. So at least I get a free cab ride home. ($14.39 expensed)
12 p.m. — Finally get home, say hi to my fiancé, wash my face, put away my stuff from the day, and head to bed, exhausted.
Daily Total: $89.31

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Time to get up and go to the gym. I don't have to go to work until 3 p.m. today to make up for late nights, but I have a ton of things to do around the house. I go to the gym and then get groceries on my way home: milk, beans, Kleenex, avocados, cold cuts, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, bananas, cucumbers, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, onions, and Ziploc bags. $74.50
1 p.m. — I get home, make my breakfast, cook cauliflower rice taco bowls for next week, clean the apartment, and spend time with my fiancé before he has to leave for his meeting.
3 p.m. — I'm just about to start napping when my fiancé complains that we don't spend a lot of time together. We make tentative plans for dinner tonight, but it depends on whether a case comes. I leave for work and get my chai on the way.
6 p.m. — At work, I get hit with a case immediately and spend a few hours interviewing and taking care of that family. When I finish, I'm starving, so I pull out the cauliflower rice shrimp stir fry I brought for my lunch yesterday and eat that with a Babybel cheese. I try to catch up on paperwork but I can only do so much because our phones aren't working, so I order a present for my friend's baby shower on Sunday. I know she's going to yell at me because she thinks I've spent too much on her already. I really haven't though, and this is something I want to do. I buy a diaper garbage can. (I've already bought a lot of baby clothes because I just can't resist.) $38.08
7:45 p.m. — Luckily, the case we thought was coming in doesn't, so we can leave a bit early today! I meet my fiancé at a restaurant we have a Groupon for. It's a nice evening of wine tasting and good food. We didn't realize our Groupon deal didn't include dessert, so we were a bit surprised by the bill, but still happy. It may be worth coming back to — with a Groupon deal, of course. $40.38
12 a.m. — We get home and start snoozing on the couch, so I change into my PJs. But then my fiancé gets a text and hears yelling outside our window. It's our friends who want us to come out with them for pie. Random, but doesn't sound bad to me, so we change and leave for a nearby diner where I get a waffle and chocolate milk. (When I go to diners, I have to get chocolate milk.) My fiancé orders a baked potato, chicken fingers, cake, and beer. (I guess one dinner wasn't enough.) We split the bill with our friends. What a fun, random night. $40
1:30 a.m. — Get home, exhausted. I wash my face, change into my PJs for the second time, and crash.
Daily Total: $192.96

Day Three

8:20 a.m. — Wake up for the gym. Though I'm tired, I know today is going to be filled with eating and drinking, so I get myself to a boot camp class. I get my butt kicked and then stop by Starbucks for my chai, which I buy with my prepaid card.
11 a.m. — Get home, make my usual breakfast, shower, and head out the door to meet my friends for brunch.
1 p.m. — There's a wait for the brunch place and look around for another option, but everywhere else has a wait, too. When we finally get seated at the original place, I am soaked. (I forgot it was going to rain today.) I order biscuits and gravy, which are delicious. I don't eat pork, so I get excited when there is a gravy that I can eat. I also get an apple cider mimosa that's heavier on the apple cider. This is probably for the better because we're going to a wine-tasting class after this. $23.59
3 p.m. — My two friends and I were gifted a wine-tasting class for our birthdays. It ends up being a great day of games and cheese. I am babysitting later and have time to kill beforehand, so we go to Shake Shack. I get the 'shroom burger and it is good, but probably not worth the extra $2 compared to the regular burger. $7.94
6:30 p.m. — Get to my babysitting job right on time. I've been with these kids for three years and it's a nice way to make some extra cash. When I interact with kids at my day job, it's usually in sad situations, so this is a nice change. We watch TV and read books and then the kids go to bed early.
10 p.m. — Head to my friend's apartment for game night. I hang out for a bit and play "Saboteur" with my friends and their boyfriends, whom I really like. We end up leaving a little after midnight and I get a lift home from my friend's boyfriend who lives a few blocks away from me. I get home, talk to my fiancé for a bit, and go to bed after a long, rain-drenched – but fun — day.
Daily Total: $31.53

Day Four

9 a.m. — I wake up, clean the living room and kitchen, and then head to a kickboxing class. I usually do two classes on Sundays, but I'm helping my friend set up her baby shower today and only have time for one.
10:30 a.m. — I get home from the class, make breakfast, clean the bathroom and shower, and then pick up the food for the shower. I chose an "afternoon tea" theme and preordered tea sandwiches, a bakery platter, and pink cupcakes from a great bakery in my neighborhood. I was going to take the subway since she lives one stop away from me, but the food comes in two massive boxes and it's pouring. I can barely carry everything and end up having someone help me hail a cab. $8.30
7 p.m. — The baby shower is a great success. My friend wasn't sure she wanted one since she only moved here a few years ago and doesn't know many people, but she ends up having a great time. She and her husband keep trying to pay me back for the food, but I tell them repeatedly I want to pay because she's always extremely generous.
8 p.m. — My fiancé and I get home and relax for a little bit. I end up in bed at 9:30, partly because I'm going to try to wake up at 5:20 a.m. for the gym tomorrow, and partly because I am just exhausted from the weekend.
Daily Total: $8.30

Day Five

5:20 a.m. — I manage to get up and go to the gym. I haven't been able to do this in about a month, but I won't be able to hit the gym tomorrow and I'm going out of town on Thursday, so it's now or never. I hit a body pump class, which is great for people who need help with strength training. I get home, realize our Internet is out, put on a Golden Girls DVD, make breakfast, shower, and chill for a little bit before work. Stop for my chai on my way.
9 a.m. — Make it to work, get myself settled, catch up on paperwork, and meet with my intern. She's great and I'm excited to see all the progress she's making. My fiancé made me quinoa, butternut squash, and chicken. He's an excellent cook, which makes my life better.
4 p.m. — Help a coworker practice her interviewing skills and then head out of the office with my intern. She has class and I'm meeting a friend for dinner in a similar area.
5:30 p.m. — I meet my friend at Kashkaval for fondue. We met at my old job and it's great to have a friend who is also a social worker. We catch up over happy hour wine, truffle fondue, and hummus. We both complain about long hours and being underpaid and overworked. She is one of the nicest people I've met in a long time. We talk each other into getting chocolate bread pudding before calling it a night. $50.08
9:30 p.m. — Another friend of mine is here for work and staying a few blocks away from the restaurant. I meet him at his hotel and we go to a bar around the corner to catch up. I don't see him often because he lives across the country, but we talk all the time and it's really nice to talk in person. We get a few drinks and then he insists on going to Starbucks since we're both big fans and it's still open. I don't get anything, though, and head home after. $27.26
11:30 p.m. — I get home exhausted, talk to my fiancé for a bit, wash my face, take out my schoolwork for tomorrow, and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $77.34

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — I oversleep and wake up 20 minutes after my alarm, but my job is pretty relaxed as far as when we get into work. I get ready and arrive only 10 minutes late.
12 p.m. — A case comes up and I quickly heat up my lunch (homemade tomato meat sauce with spaghetti squash and a Babybel cheese). I always eat quickly at work because things can happen at any second.
3 p.m. — My coworker's adorable toddler comes to the office and I spend the rest of my day playing with her. Five o'clock rolls around and I leave to make it to class.
6 p.m. — I grab a Starbucks chai before my trauma class, which is really interesting and very useful in my current job. I'm two classes away from my second master's and am so excited to be done with going to work and school at the same time.
8 p.m. — I finish class and text a friend I'm supposed to get dinner with. He tells me he's still at work and isn't sure when he's going to get off, so I go home and make myself a quick avocado toast with poached eggs and feta. It's my first time making poached eggs successfully! I spend the rest of the evening packing for my upcoming trip, and get to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — I wake up, make the bed, and leave for a weight class at the gym. Then I stop at the grocery store to get mushrooms, egg whites, eggs, and spinach for breakfasts. $13.47
1 p.m. — Get to work and then head to the Bronx with a coworker and my boss to assist an interview training. At least I'll be out of the office for a bit.
5 p.m. — A coworker begs me to bring Starbucks back to the office so I ask my boss if he wants anything since he's driving us back. I buy him a coffee as well. $11.87
9 p.m. — After an exhausting case, I go home. I was supposed to see my friend again today, but he is working late and I need to ensure I have everything for my trip. (I'm leaving straight from work tomorrow.) My fiancé arrives home and we go to bed early.
Daily Total: $25.34
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