A Week In Queens, NY, On A $73,000 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.
Ahead of National Twins Day, we present Twin Week, where we’re tracking the spending of five sets of twins. Just because twins share the same DNA, doesn’t mean they share the same money habits, so we thought it’d be a fun experiment to compare and contrast the way millennial twins are saving and spending. Here’s a set of twins living in Chicago, IL, and Queens, NY, respectively.
This diary: a program manager working at a nonprofit who makes $73,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a pitcher of beer. Her twin is a special education teacher.
Occupation: Technical Program Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 27
Location: Queens, NY
Salary: $73,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,788
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $825 ($1,650, which I split 50/50 with my boyfriend for our one-bedroom apartment.)
Student Loan Payment: $475 (I'm billed $275 but pay $200 extra per month)
Health Insurance: $210
Dental Insurance: $14
Vision Insurance: $2
Cell Phone: $200 (My boyfriend and I are on the same plan.)
Utilities: $30 for my half
Internet: $60
Netflix: $0 (We use my boyfriend's parents' account.)
Gym Membership: $10
MetroCard: $121 (30 day unlimited pass)
Planned Parenthood Donation: $10
Savings: $200 on average
Traditional IRA: $100
403b: ~$600

Day One

7:15 a.m. — I wake up and head over to the bathroom. My morning ritual always starts with putting on a podcast (or a few!) while I get ready, so I turn on the latest episode of Planet Money, followed by Stuff You Should Know. After showering, getting dressed, throwing on makeup, and making the bed, I pack my lunch quickly (just a PB&J today — running late as usual!) and head out the door toward the subway.
8:40 a.m. — Great. The subway station is packed and trains are delayed — no surprise there. Nothing I can do but wait. I read a chapter of a book to pass the time on my commute downtown. I let a couple trains pass because I've given up on forcing myself into train cars packed like sardines, but it's tempting since the station is so hot! My hair and makeup might not last me until the time I get into the office. Ugh.
9:42 a.m. — I make it to work just in time for a 10 a.m. conference call with the planning committee for a 2019 scientific conference we're holding in San Antonio — what a way to start out the day. I grab coffee from our office kitchen's Keurig machine beforehand to keep myself awake.
12:45 p.m. — I manage to find a break in my day between meetings to eat the sad sandwich I made this morning. The office is a little emptier than usual because there's a training going on. Perfect for me — I can finally catch up on the outstanding follow up emails I have to send!
7 p.m. — Another day of work over. As I walk into my apartment, I'm already doing a mental checklist of what's left in the fridge that will constitute a good meal for dinner. I beat my boyfriend home, which means I have time to relax. I contemplate watching something on Netflix, but end up leafing through the most recent issue of C&EN magazine, which popped up in my mailbox today.
8:24 p.m. — Faced with hunger pains, my boyfriend and I finally admit to ourselves that we'd rather eat out than cook up the broccoli in the fridge. We surf through Seamless and settle on getting food from a local café just down the street, but then decide to head there rather than order in. It's a change from our usual — we've been known to order in food from places just a block away…#sorrynotsorry. My boyfriend buys our $33 meal.
9:21 p.m. — Our downstairs neighbor texts me to say he's got a lot of stuff he's planning on getting rid of (books, etc.) and invites me and my boyfriend to come down and take a look! We also get to meet their brand new kitty, a sweet six-month-old Siamese cat.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:09 a.m. — I wake up a little bit before my alarm, but that's okay because it's Friday! Which means I get to wear jeans to work. And maybe, if I'm lucky, leave early for summer Friday. My office allows us to leave at 2 p.m. on Fridays between Memorial Day and Labor Day as long as we're getting our work done. This morning I listen to episodes of Criminal, The Moth, and Stuff You Should Know while getting ready. I make yet another PB&J for lunch and head out the door, relatively on time!
12:53 p.m. — Lunchtime. My coworker brought in orange crème filled chocolate cookies (similar to Oreos), and the are the perfect supplement to my tiny lunch.
6:05 p.m. — Finally heading home. The trains are surprisingly not too crowded, even for a Friday evening. There's a nice breeze in the air, so I think I might suggest to my boyfriend that we head out for dinner tonight!
7:33 p.m. — My boyfriend convinces me to try a Cuban restaurant down the street that we haven't tried before. It's delicious! We order a mofongo appetizer and each get two entrees. It's way too much food, so we'll have leftovers for tomorrow — my favorite! Since he picked up the tab last night, I have no problem picking up the tab tonight. $88
9:27 p.m. — After a quick pitstop at a convenience store for my boyfriend to pick up essentials, we settle in for the night. My boyfriend and I decide to watch another episode of This American Life on Showtime. (He's using a free trial right now.)
Daily Total: $88

Day Three

9:07 a.m. — I wake up well-rested — nothing better than sleeping in on a weekend. I wake up and hop in the shower right away, since we're having people over later and there's a lot to do! I listen to episodes of Planet Money and Stuff You Should Know while I'm getting ready. Then I get a text letting me know that my student loan automatic payment was processed. Can't wait for this to be over — I'm so close to being paid off!
10:08 a.m. — My boyfriend and I head out to the local Duane Reade so that I can pick up a medication refill and also orange juice so we can make mimosas. Then we make a pitstop at the liquor store to pick up Andre Prosecco (boyfriend pays for it!). $18
12:54 p.m. — Our friends come over, and our first stop is brunch at one of our favorite local restaurants. I get the avocado toast — my favorite! As tempting as the $4 mimosas and Bloody Marys are, we have all the fixings at home, so we just get coffee for now! We split the bill between all of us. $23
2:23 p.m. — Our next stop, a local beer garden, is closed for a private event (no thanks, $30 cover charge), so we head to another local bar that we love. We get a round and head out to go elsewhere. My boyfriend picks up the $45 tab here.
4:45 p.m. — We make our way over to another beer garden (the oldest in NYC!). Our friend buys the first pitcher, and I buy the second pitcher, plus a pretzel to share. The weather has been threatening rain all day, but it's held up so far! There's a nice breeze in the air, which is perfect for sitting outside. I love this beer garden — it's always full of young people and families with children playing. $31
6:31 p.m. — On the way back, we make a pitstop at a wine and liquor store. Because of the long-term subway construction closures, many of the surrounding stores are having sales to try and drive up business. This is good for us, and we score 15% off with three bottles for $30! My friend pays.
Daily Total: $72

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Good morning! Early to bed means early to rise, so I'm up a bit earlier than I normally would be on a weekend. I get up and make the bed. I decide to buy my mom a little gift online (found it on sale!) so she knows I'm thinking of her — she's currently undergoing cancer treatment, and living so far away from my family (they're in the Chicago area) makes it harder to stay in touch. $29
9:30 a.m. — Breakfast time! My boyfriend and I head to a local diner (our favorite spot for a cheap and delicious meal!) to get a quick breakfast. He picks up the bill.
11:15 a.m. — My twin sister calls on FaceTime — she found a good deal on airfare to come for Thanksgiving. The past few years she has come to New York to spend Thanksgiving, and it's always a fun little celebration. This year, her boyfriend might also join, but he hasn't made up his mind yet. They both live in the Chicago 'burbs, but we like to joke that NYC is her second home — she visits three to four times a year!
3:15 p.m. — It's Sunday, which means it's time to grocery shop for the week. We brave the rain and run over to our local grocery store a couple blocks away to pick up the essentials for the week ($100). My boyfriend and I usually alternate who buys the groceries, and this week it's my boyfriend's turn!
4:45 p.m. — Friends who we haven't seen for a long time text us and ask if we want to grab dinner at a hot pot restaurant in a neighborhood a little further into Queens. Hot pot? Count us in! The trains have temporary closures due to construction, so it's a little more complicated than usual, but that's okay! We're used to train issues on the weekends here in NYC. The restaurant we go to is a buffet, so we end up eating so much food. $31
Daily Total: $60

Day Five

9:35 a.m. — I get to work pretty much on time. I'm already stressed out for this week, since it's budgeting season, which means that we have a lot of work ahead of us over the next two weeks to get our current reforecasting in shape for the rest of 2018 and submit budgets for all of our major conferences and events for 2019. I grab some coffee from our Keurig machine in the office to push through the morning.
2:15 p.m. — I manage to find time to eat lunch at my desk — PB&J and a yogurt as usual! I'd rather spend money on restaurants for dinner or on the weekends.
3:30 p.m. — My boyfriend texts me to remind me that we made plans to go to a Mets game tonight with our friends from last night! They got free tickets from work, so how can we say no?
5 p.m. — I somehow manage to leave work at 5 on the dot, which almost NEVER happens, as I am regularly at work until 6:30 or 7 p.m. every day. This is great, though, because it means that we can squeeze in a quick bite to eat before heading over to Citi Field. I meet my boyfriend and his friends near their office and we eat at a pub around the corner. $25
7:35 p.m. — We make it to the game! I'm happy to finally have made it to a game this summer — now I can cross it off of my summer bucket list. We're pretty full from dinner, so we don't get food, but my boyfriend buys a beer for us to share. He was smart enough to get a pilsner because he knows I don't like IPAs. So thoughtful.
Daily Total: $25

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — Fitbit alarm wakes me up again at 7:15. I listen to Slow Burn and Stuff You Should Know while getting ready and then take my leftovers from Friday for lunch.
3 p.m. — I get a notification that my cell phone bill has posted. I'm really good about paying that right away each month, so I go ahead and make the payment on my cell phone via the app. My boyfriend and I share a cell phone plan, and I usually cover it each month.
8:10 p.m. — Dinner tonight is a weird mix of leftovers and what we have in our fridge. My boyfriend has his leftovers from Friday and I make a freezer burrito. We split a salad between the two of us.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9 a.m. — It's my work from home day! So I get to sleep in a bit. My office has a pretty flexible policy regarding working from home, so most everyone in the office works from home at least once a week. I start up my computer to see what work awaits me! While my email loads up, I make myself a cup of coffee in the kitchen.
12 p.m. — Time for a break! I jump in the shower and take time away from my computer. Then I scrounge in the fridge for something small to eat.
4:45 p.m. — I'm getting a bit sick of staring at my screen, so I start thinking about dinner. Tonight we're going to make homemade black bean burgers, which I am very excited for! I double check that we have all the ingredients and get started. I listen to an episode of Death, Sex & Money to pass the time.
Daily Total: $0
Read my twin's Money Diary here.
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