A Week In New York, NY, On A $15,000 Income

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Today: a student in NYC who makes $15,000 per year and spends some of her money on broccoli.
Occupation: Student (and Resident Advisor, Intern, and Research Assistant)
Industry: Education
Age: 20
Location: New York, NY
Salary: last year it was around $15,000 but it fluctuates
Paycheck Amount (depending on the job, 1x or 2x/semester, my allowance is 1x/month): ~$500-$1,000 from my parents; $3,000/semester from various jobs; around $7,000 from summer jobs
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I get housing for free during the school year because I work as a resident advisor.)
Student Loans: $0 (I have $12,000 in student loans, I don't expect to borrow any more, and I don't have to pay them off yet.)
YouTube Red: $6.99
Spotify: $14.99 (I pay for my little brothers' Spotify accounts — it was a gift)
iCloud Storage: $1 (back-up of my MacBook)
Google Drive Storage: $1.99 (photo storage)
Cell Phone: ~$100 (varies depending on data usage)
Therapy: ~$80 (more if I need it)
Annual Expenses:
Headspace: $9.99 (with the student discount)
Amazon Prime (in US and Canada): $88
LoseIt!: $24.99 (I use this to track my macros)
Strava Premium: $59.99 (for tracking runs & bikes)
Costco: $60
New York Times Cooking: $39.99 (I use their recipes ~all~ the time)
Website Hosting/Domain Name Registration: ~$20

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and get out of bed to turn it off. I take my morning meds, grab my phone, and crawl back under my weighted blanket. I check my notifications, social media, and then read the New York Times and the local newspaper from my hometown.
7:45 a.m. — I get out of bed for real now. I don't shower because I didn't work out this morning. I put on some clothes and make breakfast. I'm a creature of habit and have been eating oatmeal with craisins, cinnamon, and brown sugar for breakfast for almost two years now. As I make breakfast and wash dishes from last night, I watch The Great British Bake Off.
8:15 a.m. — I bring my oatmeal back to my room, and continue watching GBBO as I check my email on my laptop. After reading the book Make Time, I deleted the Gmail app on my phone, to help rid myself of distractions. I can only check email on my iPad or laptop. After checking my email, I begin to do my reading for my first class of the day. I get through as much reading as I can before heading off to class.
10 a.m. — I walk back to my room after and go back to bed. My body is aching, presumably from yesterday's workout. I have a neuromuscular disease, so I'm constantly sore and in pain, especially when I workout. Paradoxically, working out is supposed to be good for me (according to my doctors), but it completely wipes me out.
12 p.m. — I wake up from my nap feeling marginally better and head out for a meeting with my supervisor. It is short and sweet, and then I head back to my room.
12:10 p.m. — I warm up a chapati for lunch (or early snack), and begin to do my reading for my next class.
1:45 p.m. — I am mildly hungry and decide to eat a Krispy Kreme donut that one of my roommates bought for the suite. Not the healthiest option, but I was craving something sweet. After I eat, I decide to turn off my phone in an effort to stem any distractions.
4 p.m. — It's time to head out to my next class. I throw on my sweater on and walk/run to class.
5:30 p.m. — After class, my good friend, B., and I do an interview for my school's media team on my class. As we wait around for them to set up and do other interviews we catch up.
6:15 p.m. — B. and I chat for a bit afterward, then I head off to the admissions office where I write postcards for admitted students from Canada. It's yield season, which is my favorite time of year. I really love my college, so I help with the recruitment of students, including interviewing and helping out with the all-important yield season. I eat an oatmeal raisin cookie from Insomnia Cookies as I write postcards.
7 p.m. — I walk back to my suite and warm up leftover pasta with shredded chicken and cheddar cheese and my last chapati. I make a cup of tea and then head to my room. I watch GBBO, and read the CBC as I eat. After I'm done eating, I do a couple of sessions of Duolingo to brush up on my French.
7:30 p.m. — I walk out of my room to refill my water bottle and run into some of my suitemates. I chat with them for a bit, before heading back to my room to finish the episode of GBBO. As I watch, I fill out my overly detailed spending track sheet for March. I have been meticulously tracking my spending since 2017, and this year my monthly spending has been ~too high~. Last month was an exception because I went on a trip for spring break. I think this month will be better, because I have no more purchases I need to make and should get my tax refunds (last year + this year in US and Canada) which should total around $3,000+ dollars.
8:30 p.m. — I am finally done filling out my expenses. My spreadsheet was very buggy, so I had to fix it. I pay my bills for last month and then move onto my homework. I'm super exhausted, but I'm trying not to take a nap because 1) I already took one today and 2) napping a lot is a surefire way to end up in another depressive episode.
8:40 p.m. — I have tried reading, but I'm too tired and distracted, so I do my taxes instead. I forget my password to log into the portal to get my W4s for my school. I complete my Canadian taxes and get around $150 as a refund.
10 p.m. — I head off to a staff meeting. After the meeting, I check in on my friend K. who has been feeling sick for the past week. After chatting with him for a bit, I walk back upstairs and do my nighttime routine: brush my teeth, floss, and clean my room as I watch more GBBO.
12 a.m. — I hop into bed before journaling, which is something I usually do every night. As soon as I lay down, I realize how tired I am and go immediately to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of New York City and light streaming through the window, and immediately check my phone fearing that I slept in. I didn't, so I get back into bed and do the regular (read NYT, local news, social media).
8:45 a.m. — I hop out of bed, change, and start my workout. I'm doing the seven-minute workout thing to ease myself back into it, after being very sick last semester and losing all fitness motivation I had. After my workout, I meditate using Headspace, and then take a quick shower.
9:30 a.m. — After the shower, I get dressed and then I head out to the kitchen to make my oatmeal and wash dishes from yesterday. As I watch, you guessed it, GBBO.
9:45 a.m. — I bring my oatmeal to my room and eat it as I read through emails and continue watching GBBO.
10:07 a.m. — I'm running late to class. For this particular class, we are attending a conference about inequity in criminal justice and health. The conference is really good, but I have to leave before it's done due to the insurmountable pile of homework I need to do.
1:30 p.m. — I am H U N G R Y, but before I eat I go to the package center to pick up some mail. I take that time to think of what to make for lunch. I pick up stuff that I ordered from Amazon last week (face brush thing, a new face scrub, face lotion, and Canadian Nestle Smarties).
2 p.m. — I decide to make ramen noodles with a sweet pork meat sauce that I have in my fridge and an egg for lunch. As I cook and eat, I watch more GBBO.
2:20 p.m. — More homework! As I work, I eat the bag of Smarties.
8:20 p.m. — Somehow I have found myself reading up about Canadian extradition law? No idea how I got here, but it's time to take a break, so I can refocus. I walk to the kitchen and chop up a pear as a snack. After eating it, I decide to watch YouTube videos instead of continuing to work.
11 p.m. — I start getting ready for bed and decide to buy Spider-Man (12.99) and rent Get Out (4.99). I brush my teeth, journal, and take my medication. Afterward, I decide to watch Get Out. I don't find it at all scary or really thrilling, but it is a very good movie. Once the movie is done I fall asleep at around 1:30. $17.98
Daily Total: $17.98

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and my phone is in my bed, which is not where I left it last night. I assume I slept through my morning class, which thankfully I didn't. I then read the Times as per usual and check social media as I try to convince myself to get out of bed.
8:30 a.m. — I'm finally out of bed. I'm a morning person, so having a hard time getting out of bed is usually a red flag for my mental health. I take a very quick shower and eat a chocolate macadamia nut Clif bar as I get dressed. Then, I head to class.
8:40 a.m. — In class, I check my emails while I half pay attention to the lecture. I get an email from the National Loan Service Center which handles loans in Canada informing me that unless I re-enroll in school next year, my loan repayments begin on Dec 31. I don't have that many student loans, and they won't begin collecting interest until December, thanks to the wonderful Canadian government. That said, I'm taking a leave of absence next year, so I think I may take a course or two in my hometown to avoid interest collecting/loan repayment beginning. I also update my spend track sheet with the movie purchases and also interest from one of my credit cards. I'm waiting for reimbursement for a large purchase, and I'd rather carry the balance than ask my parents for more money.
10 a.m. — After class, I head back to my room and decide to go back to bed and take a depression nap. It's a depression nap because I'm not actually tired, just not ready to face the day.
12:45 p.m. — I wake up feeling worse and also in more pain, which is sad. I have a lot of work to do, so I get out of bed and make oatmeal for lunch. I bring my oatmeal to my room and watch the Christmas specials of GBBO. After eating, I clean my room and then begin to do homework.
3 p.m. — I walk to a discussion section for one of my classes. During the class, I panic slightly because my Apple Pencil isn't working, and I spend the entire section texting back and forth with Apple support. I make an appointment at an Apple Store in Grand Central tomorrow morning.
4 p.m. — Time for my next class, which is only a few buildings over. After class I chat with B. for a bit and then head back to my room. Once I get back to my room I realize that I am HUNGRY. So, I make a small bowl of oatmeal to hold me over until dinner. As I eat, I chat with some of my suitemates.
6:45 p.m. — I walk into my room and can't motivate myself enough to do work. So, I just browse the internet, check my credit score, and answer my emails. Also, I realize my Apple Pencil is working? I realize that the problem is my tip has worn down, so I swap it out with a spare one I have.
7:45 p.m. — One of my clubs is having a dinner for former and new staff. I walk to the location, which is just a couple of blocks up, and meet up with one of my colleagues along the way. The restaurant has this quaint aesthetic. I eat some garlic bread with goat cheese and an entree of chicken with kale, tomatoes, lemon, and quinoa. For dessert, I split a tiramisu. The food is fairly good. The cost is covered by the club, and I have no idea how much my meal actually cost.
8:30 p.m. — I walk to campus with some of my colleagues, then once I get to my suite I stop in on K. We chat for a bit about our days, and then I head upstairs to my room to grab my computer. I have a computer science project due at midnight, which I work on with two of my suitemates. I mindlessly munch on cookies as I work.
2 a.m. — Finally done my project (two hours late), I head back down to K.'s room to chat some more.
3 a.m. — I'm shocked that I'm up this late, but I think I'm getting a little manic again. I brush my teeth, wash my face (cleanse and exfoliate), and journal. I finally get into bed at around 4 a.m. I'm going to regret this late sleeping time tomorrow morning.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling down, but I have a therapy appointment in an hour. I get dressed and grab a Clif bar to eat for breakfast. Then, I hop on the subway. Each swipe is $2.75, but I still have money on my MetroCard. I load it each month with around $40.
12 p.m. — Therapy went okay. I head back to school for a team meeting but when I get there, my boss tells me it was canceled. Since I don't check email on my phone, I never realized. Nonetheless, I have a short meeting with him and do some work on my projects, so the time wasn't wasted.
1 p.m. — I head to health services for an appointment. After a long wait, I get a referral for my EMG in a few days and my next HPV vaccine. Then I head to my room and make ramen noodles with two poached eggs for lunch. I'm feeling ~very very down~, but I don't want to sleep the day away. I compromise and decide to lay in bed watching Netflix until I can surmise some energy to do something else. I snack on two Clif bars at some point during the afternoon.
1:30 a.m. — Good news: I started and finished season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Bad news: I spent all day in bed watching Netflix. But sometimes you just have an off-day. I brush my teeth and head to bed. Tomorrow will hopefully be better.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

10 a.m. — I wake up later than usual, and do the regular — read articles in my bed, take a shower, and sit at my desk to start working for the day. A day of non-activity yesterday means I need to be productive today. Before I get settled, I make oatmeal.
1 p.m. — Today is the day of a music festival at my school, and as an RA, I do rounds every hour or so in my building. When I'm not doing rounds, I'm tackling the unending amount of reading I need to do for the upcoming week. For lunch, I have (get this) ramen with a sweet and spicy pork sauce.
10 p.m. — I meant to go to bed early tonight, but I instead end up helping my friend with job applications. I get some job apps done for the upcoming year as well. I also, at some point in the evening, impulse buy a new domain name for my personal website. $100
1 a.m. — Time to go to bed. I brush my teeth, floss, mouthwash, and fall asleep without journaling.
Daily Total: $100

Day Six

7 a.m. — I have to run an early check-in space for the Admitted Students weekend. I get up, read articles in bed, change, and then walk over to the building where check-in is happening.
7:30 a.m. — I missed the memo that I was supposed to be here at 7 not 7:30. I help with the breakfast delivery (bagels, coffee, juice), and eat a bagel without butter. Regardless, I talk to the prospective students, and then at 9:30 show them to check-in. At check-in, I grab my shirt and then head back to my room.
10 a.m. — I decide to take a nap and miss church because I am tired.
1:30 p.m. — I wake up from my nap and start working. I first refund the domain name I bought last night. Then, I continue working on homework. (-$100)
2 p.m. — One of my good friends N. calls and we make plans to chat in-person immediately. She walks over to my suite from her apartment and we catch up. We haven't seen each other in weeks and weeks, so we have a lot to talk about. After an hour and a half, she heads out, and I get back to work.
4 p.m. — I head out into the kitchen to get more tea, and I run into friends making mochi balls. I sit around with them at chat, as I try to do some work and taste their creations.
6 p.m. — I head over to pick up my prospective student F., who I'm hosting for the night. Once F. and I are back in the suite, I head out to the kitchen and chat with other prospective students as I try to get some work done.
8 p.m. — I make some oatmeal to eat for dinner. I stay in the kitchen and continue studying with my suitemates. As I work, I snack on M&M's and Smarties.
1 a.m. — I head back to my room, as F. gets back. I set up her air mattress and chat with her a bit. Then I brush my teeth and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:48 a.m. — I wake up, and tip toe over F. to grab my phone. I don't use alarms (unless I think I'm going to sleep in), which is a dangerous game, but it rarely fails me because I'm a morning person. I scroll through the Times and my various social media accounts before finally getting out of bed to take a shower.
7:15 a.m. — I take a shower and come back into my room. I get dressed discreetly and then head outside to make my breakfast. I eat oatmeal and also make a cup of peppermint tea while watching the latest John Oliver clip on YouTube.
8 a.m. — I realize that I'm running late and I head back into my room to say bye to F. and grab my wallet. Then I walk quickly to the subway to take the train uptown (swipe is already paid for).
8:20 a.m. — Even though I work up at the medical center, and go here often for doctor's appointments, I. Always. Forget. The. Subway. Closure. As soon as I get off the subway, a bus pulls up and I take it the rest of the way. In my rush to get to the right building, I accidentally tear my favorite jeans on some scaffolding.
8:30 a.m. — A little late I arrive for my EMG. I get them semi-regularly because of my neuromuscular disease to monitor its progression. The clinical fellow is friendly, and it goes by relatively quickly. He said that I shouldn't expect anything new or alarming in the results, which is good news. The co-pay is $20. $20
10 a.m. — I take the subway downtown (swipe already paid for), because I need to run errands.
10:30 a.m. — I go to the movie theater to get two tickets for Avengers Endgame. The seats are crappy-ish, but I got the time I wanted. The tickets are already paid for by Undergraduate Admissions for doing the most prospective student interviews. Then, I head across the street to the Apple Store to buy new tips for my Apple Pencil. I got it in January, so I'm surprised it wore down so quickly. After a small wait, they say they're out of stock and give me one for free.
10:50 a.m. — I walk down to Whole Foods to grab butter, broccoli, pears, lemons, unsalted butter, and cucumbers ($12.56). Afterward, I take the train back home. $12.56
11:45 a.m. — Once I get off the subway, I call my mom to chat about when I'll be flying home. Some of my friends are graduating this year, so I want to stay past commencement, which will give me a grand total of 24 hours at home before I head off to a wedding, and then my summer job. We iron out the details of my flight, and then catch up.
12:20 p.m. — I head downstairs to see K. and chat with him as he votes in our student council elections online. Afterward, I take a quick nap to refresh myself before diving into homework.
1:15 p.m. — I wake up after 20 minutes, but stay in bed until F. comes in to get her stuff. I say goodbye and wish her good luck with college decisions, then get out of bed. I check my email and starting doing some banking stuff. I check my credit card balances and pay some off, and then update my spending tracking sheet.
2 p.m. — I make lunch, which is a pear and ramen with a poached egg. I eat small meals because of some minor GI issues.
3:30 p.m. — After I eat I decide to get into bed and read because it's a high pain day, and I don't want to completely give up and sleep. I keep accidentally falling asleep because of fatigue, but I slowly but surely get through my reading.
6 p.m. — I have a dinner that I'm supposed to attend, but I decide against it because of pain and the homework I still need to get to. I get out of bed and sit at my desk to work.
7 p.m. — I realize that I didn't need to do 200 pages of reading (that I have done) because I read the syllabus wrong. I decide that there is no time like the present to eat dinner, so I reheat the last of my sweet and spicy pork sauce and eat it with chapatis. I also check my patient portal to check if my blood work has come back. It has, and the results are confusing. As I eat, I go talk to K. and complain about my day.
8 p.m. — I'm back in my room, drinking tea, and reading through the literature on the blood work results. As someone with a chronic disease (or multiple depending on the view), it is a slippery slope to get lost in the literature concerning my diagnosis and prognosis, which is relatively unknown. I constantly tell myself that just because one article or case study shows X, it does not mean that will happen to me.
9 p.m. — I chat with some of my suitemates on the way to make tea in the kitchen about the perils of artificial intelligence. Then, get back to work.
11:30 p.m. — I'm done with all the work I need to do for the day, so I start winding down. I brush my teeth, floss, mouthwash, wash my face, and exfoliate. Then, I journal for a bit before going to bed. By 1 a.m., I am fast asleep.
Daily Total: $32.56
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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