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A Week In New York, NY, On A $58,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a development coordinator who makes $58,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Dunkin' coffee.
Occupation: Development Coordinator
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 24
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $51,000 from my full-time job plus ~$7,000 freelance income
Net Worth: $44,204 ($4,150 in a regular savings account, $23,069 in a high-yield savings account, $8,136 in an old 401(k), $2,566 in a new 403(b), $2,320 in a brokerage account, $3,215 in my checking account, and $748 in a Roth-IRA.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,414 plus $350-$600 a month in freelance income.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,400 for my share of a two-bed, one-bath in Manhattan with one roommate.
Internet: $43 for my half
Gas/Electric: $60 for my half
Health Insurance: $0 (Still on my parent's plan until I turn 26.)
Netflix: $21.26
HBO: $0 (Free access via parent's cell phone plan.)
Spotify: $10.62
Cell Phone: $0 (Still on my parents' plan.)
Apple Storage: $1
Roth IRA: $75
Brokerage Account: $75
Recurring Donations: $13.69
401(k): $117 (from my paycheck)
Annual Expenses:
New York Magazine: $35
Amazon Prime: $130 (I am not renewing because I want to divest from Amazon.)
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
There was definitely an expectation to attend higher education — there was no other option that would have gone over well in my household. Both of my parents did not graduate high school and my mom especially, as an immigrant to the US, heavily prioritized education. I went to a fancy college prep school on a full scholarship and having access to those resources allowed me to pursue a BA with lots of financial costs covered. My school was paid for mostly by grants and scholarships, but ultimately I was responsible for around $18,000 total for undergrad. My parents paid $10,000 of that via a payment plan and the other $8,000 was paid off between 2020 and the beginning of 2022 via a public loan. I am extremely lucky and grateful to my parents that they did this for me, allowing me to be debtless going into adulthood, which is a HUGE privilege.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I didn't have much knowledge about finances and it wasn't until I took a webinar on investing during the early pandemic, right before I graduated college, that I understood the concept of financial planning long-term. My parents added me as an authorized user to their credit card when I was 16 to help build my credit because the big thing they emphasized was to have good credit and no debt.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a camp counselor at a local museum's summer camp at 16. I worked for six to eight weeks in the summer to pay for gas, food, and going out with friends. I worked there for about four summers until I had paid internships.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. I never went without necessities such as shoes, clothes and supplies for school, and food, and to my knowledge, my parents never missed a mortgage or bill payment. However, there were times when I knew I couldn't ask for things like a new toy or to go to a certain activity because money was really tight. My mom ran the finances and she knew exactly what we could afford and not afford, and she sometimes would drop a tidbit of how tight things were, which stressed me out. The hardest transition came when I went to high school. I went from being at an underfunded public school to a school with tuition that was more than some colleges. I felt like an outsider at school, especially as one of only a handful of kids in the entire school that was on a scholarship. It took me a bit of time to adjust and come to terms with being amongst crazy amounts of wealth. It definitely gave me tougher skin, though, so overall it was good.
Do you worry about money now?
God, yes. I am first and foremost terrified of healthcare costs, almost to the point where it has affected my daily life. I had a medical emergency earlier this year and I genuinely was more concerned about the ER bills than my health. My other main worry is that I will likely not be able to own my own place in an east coast walkable city like New York City unless I switch to a much more lucrative industry. Overall, I try to make sure I have zero debt and have crafted a very detailed Google Sheet budget/tracking spender that I update every time I make a purchase.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became mostly financially responsible for myself after I moved into my apartment post-college. I am still on my parent's cell phone and insurance plans, but everything else I pay for myself. I am terrified for the day I turn 26 and lose access to great health insurance via my dad's plan. In terms of a safety net, I know I am always free to move back home with no questions asked, which I am very grateful for, but I would love to avoid that.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received about $1,000 when my grandmother died in 2021.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Happy Sunday! I hit snooze once or twice before ripping off the covers from my body to shock it into feeling awake. Today is a big day, as I'm working an event. It's being televised, meaning my team needs all hands on deck. I will get an extra day or two of PTO as compensation since I worked yesterday as well.
8 a.m. — After I brush my teeth, I put the kettle on for some English breakfast tea. Once my tea is brewed, I add a splash of milk and get set on making breakfast. I only have about 40 minutes until I have to leave for work so I try to hustle so I can take my time eating. I pop a bagel from the fridge into the toaster and fry up two eggs, sunny side up, with some grated parmesan cheese and hot sauce on top.
9 a.m. — I walk to my office. When I get to my cubicle, I throw on the shirt given to us by event producers over my black long-sleeve. It's been raining the entire weekend, and it's predicted to rain during the event, which is outdoors on the next block. The show will go on, rain or shine, so I put on my raincoat. I feel a bit silly with how many layers I've got on, but at least I won't be cold.
10 a.m. — The event starts! So far, so good. I get emotional at the sight of people coming together as a community, so when the first performer begins singing and the crowd goes wild, I inadvertently get teary-eyed. I feel very lucky to like my job since I spend so much of my time there.
12:30 p.m. — That's a wrap! I am ecstatic to see my name in the production credits — the event was broadcasted, meaning my name was on TV! I take a video of the credits rolling on the supplementary screen next to the stage to send to my parents and send to coworkers whose names were also included. I quickly walk back to the office with some coworkers to get out of the wet and cold street. When we get back upstairs, someone is making the rounds around the office with donuts from Dunkin' so I take a chocolate old fashioned one and scarf it down. Luckily, they are providing lunch for us, so once that arrives, I take a roast beef sandwich and a can of Diet Dr. Pepper back to my computer where I read some New York Times articles and eat.
1:15 p.m. — I should go home. I have plans to stay at my boyfriend's place tonight and then work from his place tomorrow. I put my raincoat back on and head back to my apartment, nice and full from the office lunch. When I get home, I peel off my wet clothes and change into black Alo leggings and a fuzzy cropped sweater from Abercrombie. I grab my backpack and pack my computer, charger, retainers, book, change of clothes, and umbrella to bring to my boyfriend's place. I do a quick tidy of the living room and kitchen, double check that everything is turned off (stove, oven, fans — I am an anxious person), and head outside. Amazingly, the trains are actually running on time this weekend! I pay the subway fare using Apple Pay. $2.75
5:30 p.m. — After hanging out with my boyfriend, M., and his roommate, we realize we're hungry and start to make dinner plans. M. bought rice, a sweet potato, and a red onion, but we need another veggie to round it out. We settle on broccoli and take a walk to the neighborhood grocery store to buy a head. It comes out to $2.49 for two small broccoli heads and M. pays. We typically pay for food we cook at our own apartments and split other things. We have a big income gap, but I'm really proud of how we discuss money. If there's ever an issue, I've learned to bring it up without spiraling or having too much anxiety, which is great for both of us.
8 p.m. — M. has his weekly video game night with his buddies from his hometown, so it's time for me to do some admin and freelance work. I've been freelancing for 10 months and it's been awesome. I love the work that I do and I especially love that I have a second income stream. What I don't love, however, is not realizing that as a freelancer, I theoretically had to pay taxes on that income quarterly, or else be subject to penalties. I just learned this maybe a week ago, so I take the time tonight to delve further. I create an IRS account and when things get overwhelming as I'm reading tax documents, I realize I might have to use a professional. I send a quick email to a tax preparer I've used in the past and cross my fingers, I won't get into trouble. I try not to worry about how much I'll owe while I do some freelance assignments and chat with my client. The brand just secured a great piece of coverage, which my client and I celebrate via Slack emojis.
10 p.m. — M.'s offline and I shut my computer for the night. We floss and brush our teeth and flop into bed. We chat and joke around in the dark for about 45 minutes before we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $2.75

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Both phones' alarms go off. We both hit snooze about four times.
8:30 a.m. — We actually get out of bed. M. heads downstairs to brew some coffee and get breakfast started. He takes point since he gets hungry sooner than I do in the mornings. Bagels with fried eggs are on the menu for this morning. I stumble downstairs and he brings over my big mug of coffee with a splash of brown sugar oat milk creamer from Trader Joe's. It's some of the best coffee creamer I've ever tasted and so affordable. I don't live near a TJ's so the creamer is a treat for when I stay here.
2 p.m. — M.'s day is a lot more hectic, but he wants to eat lunch with me, which makes my heart warm. We decide on the lunch special at the local Chinese restaurant and during my meeting with my team, he orders and picks it up. I get Hunan spicy beef with rice and wonton soup and he gets the chicken version of the same meal. Both meals came out to under $22, including tax and tip, which M. graciously covers. I'm ravenous by the time my meeting is done, so I head downstairs and we feast for 30 minutes.
5:30 p.m. — Closing time! I shut my laptop and go back into M.'s room to hang out with him. I don't think we'll do dinner together since I'm still so full from lunch. It's cold, dreary, and dark out, so I climb into his bed and we cuddle/talk/horse around. I get so comfy, I nearly fall asleep.
8:30 p.m. — Although every bone in my body wants to crash here again, it will make my morning much more hectic so I pack up to head home. M. grabs his umbrella and walks me to the subway station. He is such a sweetie. I give him a quick kiss and descend the station steps. I tap to pay with Apple Pay ($2.75). I come home to my roomie, D., watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine. We catch up while I wash my hands and unpack my bag. $2.75
9 p.m. — I finally get hungry enough to eat, so I dig around my fridge while chatting with D. I find leftover noodle and veggie soup I made a few days ago and half an apple. I cut up the apple into slices and split it with D., adding cinnamon to both of our portions. Once the soup is heated on the stove, I pour it into a bowl and add a squirt of sriracha on top. So comforting after walking home in the rain.
11:30 p.m. — I'm pooped. I floss, brush my teeth, put in my retainer and night guard (I grind my teeth in my sleep), and slip into bed in my beloved nightie. It was my mom's from the ‘90s and I wear it often. It's so comfortable and I love not wearing pants in my sleep. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $2.75

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I immediately snooze it. Half asleep, I check the weather to see if I can go for a run at the local park. Heavy rain all day, including now — no run for me! I snuggle back in and make a note to do an indoor workout when I get home from work.
7:20 a.m. — I should get up so I'm not rushed. It's still so dark out — I love the rain, but hate how dark it is outside still. After brushing my teeth, I come out to the kitchen to hear my roomie pouring herself some coffee from the pot. She reads every morning before getting ready for work and since I'm not headed out for my run, I decide to join her and dive into my latest read: a memoir by an ex-Scientologist. I take my mug of coffee and plop on the couch.
8 a.m. — I'm headed into the office today, so I've got to pack my lunch. Today's menu is raw silken tofu, cubed and marinated in soy sauce and chili onion crunch oil. I slice a piece of pumpkin pie bread pudding that I bought last week. For breakfast, I toast a bagel from the fridge and fry up an egg. I add a sprinkle of feta cheese and some chipotle gourmaise sauce — simply exquisite. After I eat, I pull on some black skinny jeans and a cream mock-turtleneck sweater with my alma mater's logo embroidered on it.
8:15 a.m. — After I eat, I put my dishes away and head into the bathroom to put on sunscreen from Eucerin.
5:30 p.m. — Quitting time. It was a pretty uneventful day, but no complaints here. I turn off my monitor and gather my things. It's stopped raining, so I decide to go on a walk around for a little bit before heading home. I pull on my backpack, head down the elevator, and enter the busy street.
6 p.m. — I walk into a market to get some groceries. I grab a container of plain yogurt, two packages of raspberries that are on sale, a single-serve bottle of pomegranate kefir, a package of mini toasts, a small wedge of herbed goat cheese, and a small wedge of Irish cheddar. Everything comes out to $19.87. My roommate and I split nearly all of our grocery bills since our diets are nearly identical and we share all our groceries and cook for both of us nearly every night, so I split this bill (minus the single-serve kefir that I'll drink alone). $10.93
8 p.m. — After a dinner of kale salad with feta, cranberries, and roasted pumpkin seeds, I open my laptop and get into some freelance work answering social media requests and emails. After freelance tasks are done and my time is tracked in my personal timesheet, I dance around my apartment. I love my roommate like a sister, but I love when I have the apartment to myself. It's so cozy! As part of my screwing around in no pants and headphones, I clean the toilet and run the dishwasher. I get ready for bed then chat with M. on FaceTime until midnight.
Daily Total: $10.93

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — Nope.
7:30 a.m. — That's more like it. Same morning routine — brush teeth, make tea, and eat a bagel/fried egg sandwich. Delicious!
8:30 a.m. — I make my lunch to bring into the office today while listening to Hasan Minhaj's new Netflix special. He is hilarious! Lunch for today is a kale salad with cranberries, feta cheese, roasted pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds. I sprinkle in extra pepper and add Caesar dressing on top. I also pack a bag of mini pretzels and another slice of pumpkin pie bread pudding. My work fit is a pair of dark blue jeans, a black turtleneck, and my rain boots. Socks: candy corn pattern, of course.
6 p.m. — Once I get home from work, I quickly tidy up before M. comes over. M gets to my place and we head out to the grocery store. We decide on some zucchini, red onion, and yellow squash to roast to go along with pasta I have and butter garlic sauce. The total for tonight's veggies is $6, but M. graciously pays.
7:30 p.m. — I have a call with a freelance client and it goes great. I have a lot to do, but it's exciting. Once I'm done, D., M., and I eat dinner together.
11 p.m. — M. and I retire to bed after we floss and brush teeth. I'm pooped!
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up super groggy. M. and I get out of bed and pad into the living room where D. is already answering work emails. Business queen!
8:30 a.m. — M. and I have oatmeal for breakfast. I pack up my lunch, which is leftover pasta from last night. I also pack single-serve kefir and pumpkin spice mini pretzels.
9 a.m. — We head out for the day. M. walks with me until we reach the subway station where he'll head back to work from home. We share a quick kiss and part ways.
11 a.m. — My cubicle buddies and I go to Dunkin'. I order a small hot coffee ($3.04). They scan my loyalty QR code and I use ApplePay. $3.04
5:30 p.m. — My eyes are burning from staring at a screen for so long. I've got a lot left to do, but that is tomorrow's problem. I'm really excited to see my old neighbor (and D.) for dinner tonight! He's one of the only friends I've made since moving to NYC that I didn't go to school with, so I'm excited to keep cultivating the friendship. I head out of the office and walk a few blocks to the subway station and hop on the train headed downtown ($2.75). As usual, I pay with Apple Pay. $2.75
6:30 p.m. — Dinner is at a dive bar and the staff inside is a hoot. They're very friendly and casual, which I love. D. arrives followed shortly by our old neighbor, K. We hug and get settled at our table. We order food and drinks. Shortly after the food arrives, one of the bartenders comes up to the table with a bottle of Jameson and little shot cups and pours us a round and one for himself. We take the shots and the liquor burns as it goes down. Some time passes, and with another round of shots and full bellies, we get the check. My portion for the meal, beer, tax, and tip rounds out to $29. $29
7 p.m. — We take the subway home. $2.75
8 p.m. — We stop at the grocery store on the way home. We grab a carton of eggs, a pack of bagels, a quart of milk, and a box of cereal that's on sale, which comes out to $11.80, which I pay for but I split it evenly with D. $5.90
11 p.m. — Before I head to sleep, I scroll around on my phone. I check my email and realize that some funds from my savings account were automatically transferred into my investment accounts, and I have to invest them now or I'll forget. I log in and allocate the funds both in my brokerage and Roth IRA. I only contribute around $150 per month split between the two, but it feels good to know over time it will go up in value. I don't count this as a traditional expense because it's just a money transfer from one account to another.
11:30 p.m. — Bedtime! Same routine of floss, brush teeth, pee, and peace out.
Daily Total: $43.44

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Good morning! It's finally nice out, so after I get up and brush my teeth, I change into exercise clothes and get my fanny pack ready to go on a run.
8:15 a.m. — I promised D. I would pick up Dunkin' this morning. I have a coupon so two coffees is only $1.25. I order for pickup and jog towards it then walk home with the coffee. $1.25
9:15 a.m. — Target is doing a bunch of deals for the next few days and coffee grounds are on sale. I have a brain blast and order 10 bags, which allows me to get a $10 gift card back and I end up saving $26 on all the bags before the gift card perk. Score! I have to order it for pickup to receive the discount so I do, and F. and I will head to Target once the order is ready in a few hours. The total for 10 bags of coffee (with a variety of flavors) comes out to $56.22, which we split in half. $28.11
12:30 p.m. — Lunch break! I decide to head out to grab the Target order. I live a few minutes away so I pull on my shoes and head out with an extra bag in case I need to pick anything else up. Once I'm there, I grab a loaf of their French bread, three avocados, sliced chicken breast, a jar of salsa, a packet of taco seasoning, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, a pack of small corn tortillas, and a box of spaghetti noodles. It comes out to $17.65 which I split between D. and myself ($8.83 my half). Once home, I slap together a quick sandwich with the French bread, chicken, some spicy mayo, and pickles. $8.83
5:30 p.m. — I shut my laptop as soon as it hits 5:30. Weekend time! My roomie is getting dinner out with her boyfriend, so I will have the place to myself for a few hours. I don't have plans with M. until tomorrow, so I relish in the empty space. I make tofu tacos for dinner and they're delicious.
8 p.m. — I finally muster up the courage to tackle what's been one of my biggest avoided tasks: figuring out my estimated taxes from my freelance earnings. I've researched what I need to do for the last couple of weeks, but I finally sit myself down and comb through the IRS website and the New York State tax site. After doing some calculations, I finally figure out what I owe per each quarter I missed and the most recent one. After the grand total, I cough it up and pay online for both federal and NYS/NYC taxes, which comes out to $1,344 which will be taken out of my savings. Woof. I think I overestimated a little bit but I'm not too worried, as I know if I overpay I will get it returned (per my accountant's advice). I wince at this internally and try not to spiral and think my financial future is screwed because I paid so much at once. I update my budget tracker immediately. $1,344
Daily Total: $1,382.19

Day Seven

10 a.m. — It feels good to have slept for so long. I get up and into the kitchen to pour some coffee. After I'm caffeinated, I make breakfast tacos. I scramble two eggs, char three corn tortillas, and add salsa, cheese, and some avocado. It's so delicious!
12 p.m. — Since it's really nice out, I decide to go on a long walk before M. comes over. I'm trying a new thing where I go on walks without headphones to really soak in the environment and today I'm noticing a lot more about my neighborhood.
1:30 p.m. — I get back from my walk and make lunch. I have a sandwich with sliced chicken breast, pickles, and spicy mayo. I want to make sure I am properly nourished and hydrated before my friend's birthday party tonight since I plan to drink.
2:30 p.m. — D. gets home and we chat about her work event and it segues into how our relationships with our partners are going. I live for these types of convos and we both come out feeling grateful for our partners and for being able to chat so candidly with each other. We're still chatting when M. rings the doorbell. Totally forgot he was on his way! I let him up and welcome him in.
3:30 p.m. — M. and I make our way to my friend's party. It's so nice out that M. and I walk to the party. M. stops to buy some candied peanuts. I stop at Le Pain Quotidien and buy a pumpkin muffin, which comes out to $4.50. We grab a cafe table outside and I eat the muffin. $4.50
5:45 p.m. — We arrive at the party a bit later than expected and make the rounds to say hello. It's so nice to see everyone! D. already gave the birthday girl her present from both of us. The birthday girl hands us a White Claw (for me) and a hard cider (for M.).
9 p.m. — I realize I haven't seen M. in a bit. I find him chatting with another pal, so I sidle over to him and join the convo. I don't like being too touchy with him in public but after two drinks, I am like Mr. Krabs — I am feeling it.
10 p.m. — An early party start means an early departure. M. and I say our goodbyes. We walk to the subway, where we tap to pay on arrival. $2.75
11:30 p.m. — Even though it's not even midnight on a Saturday, I'm beat. I'm buzzing with joy after seeing all my friends and celebrating the birthday girl. After flossing and brushing our teeth, we get snuggled up and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $7.25
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