A Week In NYC On A $55,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We asked a millennial woman how she spends her hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York Mag, for the inspiration.)

The social media strategist celebrating her birthday and budgeting for Starbucks.
Industry: Media
Age: 24
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $55,000
# of roommates: Two Monthly expenses
Rent: $952
Loan payments: $158
Utilities: ~$23
Transportation: ~$130 per month ($116 for monthly subway card plus at least one trip to Connecticut)

Day One

10:00 a.m. — Working from home, so I make a late breakfast and coffee with my boyfriend, and then spend the day working in front of the fireplace. 5:00 p.m. — Dinner with my dad, stepmom, and boyfriend for my dad’s birthday. The company is excellent, but the food is mediocre at best, so I eat an appetizer and anticipate being hungry later. My stepmom pays as a birthday treat. 9:00 p.m. — Called it, I’m already starving. Time for a phone call to order my favorite chicken sandwich as takeout. I feel no regret as I get melted cheese all over my face. $12.77 11:00 p.m. — After an evening of chilling out on the couch and extensive research, I book four nights at a hotel in Europe as part of a trip my boyfriend and I are planning for the spring. He agrees that rather than pay me back now, he’ll pay for other trip related stuff (luggage and meals) until we’re even. $519.08 Total amount spent: $531.85

Day Two

11:00 a.m. — Brunch at my boyfriend’s parent’s house. His mother buys the groceries and cooks delicious breakfast pizza. 7:55 p.m. — Ran late shooting a video for work, so I call an Uber to my own birthday dinner 60 blocks away. Normally I’d take the subway, but we are so late. Plus, I can expense it to the company. $15.14, but it's expensed, so $0. 10:00 p.m. — Amazing birthday dinner with friends at Awadh on the Upper West Side. They take the check when I go to the bathroom. I am given a firm “no” when I offer to contribute. 10:30 p.m. — Birthday party for a friend at a bar in Harlem. My boyfriend orders and pays for his own beer, I am still tipsy from wine at dinner. Total amount spent: $0

Day Three

9:00 a.m. — We’re almost out of groceries at my apartment, but it’s my boyfriend’s turn to pay. 10:00 a.m. — On the way home from the store, we stop at Company on Edgecombe for coffee. I intended on cooking breakfast since I have plenty of eggs and bacon, but we see they have breakfast sandwiches on cheddar chive biscuits, so I cave. $24.28 12:00 p.m. — Hulu membership is automatically renewed. $7.99 5:30 p.m. — While prepping homemade broccoli and cheddar soup, I realize I don’t have a peeler with which to skin carrots or potatoes. I order one from Amazon using a birthday gift card. $8.99, but with the gift card it's free. $0. 6:00 p.m. — My boyfriend comes home from work and makes three different kinds of wings for dinner, we watch the Super Bowl from the comfort of our bed. Total amount spent: $32.27

Day Four

9:00 a.m. — I stop by Starbucks to pick up my latte that I have budgeted in three times a week. $4.84 12:00 p.m. — I bring lunch from home, eat office snacks, and then enjoy leftovers for dinner.

Total amount spent: $4.84

Day Five

9:45 a.m. — I forget to eat breakfast and grab a doughnut on my way to work. $1.12 2:00 p.m. — Leftovers for lunch. 7:00 p.m. — Fashion event after work with free drinks and hors d'oeuvres, plus an ice cream sandwich when I get home. Total amount spent: $1.12

Day Six

9:20 a.m. — Thank god it’s Wednesday and I get to have coffee. $4.84 12:45 p.m. — I’m bored and want to bond with a coworker, so we pop out for Starbucks round two. $3.10 8:00 p.m. — Dinner is a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on an English muffin, made at home. Total amount spent: $7.94

Day Seven

9:15 a.m. — I forget breakfast again. Another doughnut. Oops, yum. $1.12 1:00 p.m. — Out to lunch with a few of my team members. A rare opportunity since we all have insane schedules, but it’s important for us to bond. It was fun and totally worth the extra money. $13.15 8:30 p.m. — Working overtime, so I can expense dinner. Normally I’d order something small, but the time I spent working was also the time I would have spent grocery shopping and prepping lunch for the next day, so I splurge and get $25 worth of food to last me through the end of the week. $0 Total amount spent: $14.27
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. Have a money diary you'd like to share? Send it to us at

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