A Week In Brooklyn On A $50,000 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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a woman in non-profit doing research ponders how to contribute to her mutual fund.

Age: 25
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck amount (2x a month): $1484 (after taxes)
# of roommates: 1, my girlfriend

Monthly Expenses
Housing costs: My GF and I split our rent of $2,100. My portion of the rent is $1,050.
Loan payments: None
Utilities: I pay for gas (roughly $45) and internet ($54.99). GF pays electricity which is high right now since we have two AC units.
Transportation: Work pays for my monthly MetroCard.
Health Insurance: Work pays 100% for my health insurance.
Phone Bill: My parents pay.
Savings: I have a mutual fund that I set up a few years ago when my grandparents died and gave each of their grandchildren a chunk of money. There’s about $21,000 in it now.
Amazon Prime: $80 per year.
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Day 1

7:30 a.m. — I made cold brew last night and threw some strawberries and blueberries in a bag in the freezer. I drink my coffee and make a smoothie with the berries and some almond milk. It doesn’t turn out great but I don’t want to have to buy breakfast later so I finish the smoothie. I take some cold brew for the road and head to work.

10 a.m. — At my desk, I snack on some dried mangos I bought last week. I used to work in startups with overflowing snack cabinets. I’ve been at a non-profit about three months and am still adjusting to no office snacks.

12:50 p.m. — Grab the lunch I brought from the kitchen. I had some time yesterday so I roasted Brussels sprouts, and made a white-bean spread. Added some greens, a hard-boiled egg, and half an avocado for a (hopefully) filling lunch. I work at an international humanitarian non-profit so people are always coming and going from travels. Someone brought back fudge from Mozambique so I grab a piece from the kitchen.

2:45 p.m. — I get antsy since I didn’t go out for lunch and need a little walk around outside. While I’m out, I grab an iced tea and a granola bar for me and coffee for my co-worker. She can’t find me on Venmo, so I cover it. Not sure if she’ll pay me back, but I don’t mind since we’re building a friendship and it’s nice to do something nice. $11.25

5:45 p.m. — GF and I get off the subway at the same time, from trains going in different directions. Amazing coincidence! We stop at the supermarket together and pick up butter, milk, paper towels, and toilet paper. We generally just take turns buying household stuff. She pays this time since I paid for fruits and veggies yesterday.

6:30 p.m. — We cook and eat dinner at home, it’s a recipe for pasta with cauliflower that I saw online over the weekend and wanted to try out.

Daily Total: $11.25
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Day 2

7 a.m. — Go for a run outside since it’s still warm, and GF is gone for work by the time I get back. Have cold brew and a smoothie at home.

9:15 a.m. — Still feeling tired so I drink office coffee when I get to work. It’s not that good but it’s free.

12:30 p.m. — Bring leftover pasta with cauliflower for lunch and it’s surprisingly satisfying. I’m usually very averse to leftovers.

6:15 p.m. — Meet GF at Buttermilk Channel, her parents gave her a gift card for her birthday so we’re finally going to use it. We get BBQ oysters, salad, and fried chicken. I leave the tip. $15

7:15 p.m. — We walk to an Italian bakery we like, and get cannoli and almond cookies. She pays since I paid the tip at the restaurant.

8 p.m. — At home. We watch The Night Of and I prep my lunch for the next day.

Daily Total: $15
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Day 3

7:30 a.m. — Cold brew and smoothie at home. I usually do a frozen banana, almond milk, and peanut butter, plus berries if I have them.

8:15 a.m. — I have to refill my monthly MetroCard, but the debit card I get from work is declined. I have some pre-paid money on my card to get through but it’s still a waste and I’m annoyed.

1:20 p.m. — Lunch is a salad with roasted Brussels sprouts, corn, ricotta, and strawberries. I add in half an avocado I left in the fridge on Monday.

4:10 p.m. — Need a snack so I finish the dried mango in my desk. I’m going to have to pick up new snacks for my desk.

4:45 p.m. — I do some research about adding more money into my mutual fund. I have about $1500 in a 401(k) that I contributed while at a previous job and I want to combine it with my existing mutual fund. I also have some savings that I thought I might use for travel but hasn’t happened yet so I think I might add it too. Is it good to put money in stocks while the market is up or down? I do some research online but don’t really land anywhere. I’ll probably call my dad later for a consult.

6:30 p.m. — At home, I make us scrambled eggs, a little salad, and toast with ricotta. I pay our rent online and there’s a $2 processing fee, but I don’t charge GF since it seems petty. Rent is included in the monthly total, but bums me out nonetheless. $2

Daily Total: $2
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Day 4

7 a.m. — Go outside for a run but it’s raining harder than I thought. I go back in and attempt a yoga video. It’s difficult to do while GF is getting ready for work since our apartment is small. I don’t belong to a gym because there isn’t one in my neighborhood and haven’t committed to one by my office. I’ll have to figure out something once it starts getting colder.

7:45 a.m. — I have some cold brew and a smoothie at home. The smoothie is sort of lame because I ran out of almond milk yesterday and forgot to pick more up. I put in extra peanut butter.

1:15 p.m. — I go to the deli next door to grab a turkey sandwich and a seltzer ($10.56) then go to a bakery to get a cake for my supervisor’s birthday ($29.95). I should be reimbursed for the cake but she’s the person who processes the reimbursements so I haven't figured out how I’m going to get that one by her yet. $40.51

5:15 p.m. — GF is having a bad day and I don’t feel like eating the food we have in our freezer. I stop on the way and pick up pre-made stuffed chicken and a cabbage salad. $21.13

Daily Total: $61.64, will probably get $29.95 reimbursed
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Day 5

7 a.m. — Run outside, it’s really the perfect weather right now.

8 a.m. — Drink some cold brew at home and head to work.

8:45 a.m. — Stop to get a fancy smoothie at Juice Generation since I was out of almond milk at home. It’s a (delicious) splurge, but I try not to indulge too often. $9.20

11:30 a.m. — Incredibly bored at work so I take a walk and get a coffee. Turns out to be stupid expensive. I hate New York sometimes. $4.50+$1 tip = $5.50

1 p.m. — Head out of work early, it’s our last summer Friday of the year and I try not to think about staying until 5 p.m. next week.

4:30 p.m. — My friend's parents have a country house in the Berkshires, so I head to Grand Central to meet GF and some other friends so we can take the Metro-North up there. I buy some snacks and a seltzer for the train ride ($9.08). My friend grabs tickets for all of us since the line is really long; I Venmo her ($25.25). $34.33

8 p.m. — We get to the house and have a BBQ. His parents are the most generous people when it comes to having people at their house. They feed us dinner, pie, and wine.

Daily Total: $58.23
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Day 6

10 a.m. — We make French toast out of the challah my friend bought that didn’t get touched at dinner, with some eggs and coffee.

1 p.m. — We head out and hang out on by the lake for a while, playing cards.

3:15 p.m. — We’re all ready for snacks so we drive over to a county fair that my friend’s mom mentioned was happening this weekend. It’s a $9 admission fee, which we weren’t expecting. To save cash, we decide that only a few of us will go in; those who do grab corn dogs and fried dough for everyone.

6 p.m. — On the way back to the house we stop for groceries for dinner. We use Splitwise to tally up who owes who what and I Venmo $7.45 for the fair snacks and groceries. $7.45

8 p.m. — We spend the night hanging out in the hot tub, cooking, and playing cards, and watch a little Hey Arnold before going to bed early.

Daily Total: $7.45
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Day 7

11 a.m. — We head to a diner about 10 minutes away for brunch and I get huevos rancheros and coffee. We all go out to eat together a lot and tend to just split bills equally to make things easier. $15

2:20 p.m. — Get on the train to head back to the city. GF buys our tickets while I get us both sodas from a vending machine. $4

5:30 p.m. — At home, I go to drop off our laundry (we do this once a week and pay when we pick up. It’s usually about $15) and GF picks up some bacon and eggs for breakfast. We usually do a big shop for the week on Sunday but since it’s a long weekend, we’ll do it tomorrow. It’s usually about $50, which I often pay for since I tend to stock up for a week of food prep more than she does. I make coffee, smoothies, and try to do lunches during the week. She gets a lot of food/drinks at work because of that sweet startup life.

6:30 p.m. — We’re feeling lazy and order Thai food while we watch a movie. I pay since she bought my metro-north ticket earlier. $26.29

Daily Total: $45.29
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