A Week In New York City On A $39,500 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.
Today: an operations coordinator who makes $39,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on a donut.
Occupation: Operations Coordinator
Industry: Education Nonprofit
Age: 22
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $39,500
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,180
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 (I pay in cash and this includes all utilities.)
Student Loans: $275
Phone: $45
Health Insurance: $44 (I pay my mom, and I'm still covered on her plan.)
Therapy: $40 (co-pay)
MetroCard: $121
Gym: $26
Savings: $100
Netflix: $0 (I use my aunt's.)
HBO Go: $0 (I use my grandma's.)
Hulu: $0 (I my my ex/now friend's account.)
New Yorker Subscription: $0 (My ex's parents bought me a multi-year subscription.)
Spotify: $0 (My ex/friend really comes through.)
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Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up and immediately take melatonin to get more sleep. At a reasonable time, I reawaken and put on the album The Bluest Star by Free Cake for Everyone. I've been trying to expand my taste in music. I read BBC News and scroll through Instagram. BBC is my preferred outlet for daily news because it's not totally preoccupied with the current administration, not to mention the 2020 election — which is almost two years away. I feel like a grouch, but I absolutely despise how early politicians announce their candidacy in this country. I get up and have breakfast — a hard-boiled egg and half a grapefruit. I listen to a learn French podcast and do work on Duolingo.
10:45 a.m. — I have a training session at the gym — it was free for joining. I've only been twice because I'd have to wake up early and have been thus far unwilling to commit to it. I clean up my room, which is mostly just hanging up the coats I've thrown on my couch for the past five days. I also clean my bathroom and stove because it's been a while and my shower curtain has been slowly turning into a mold farm. I head to the gym and make it by 11. I do a 30-minute free session and end up buying two more. The trainer is really nice, and I think it'll force me to go. $87.78
11:45 a.m. — I end up back at home and text some people to coordinate plans for today/the week. I sort my laundry into darks and lights and head to the laundromat. I also text my ex ~fling~ (not the one whose subscriptions I still use) to tell him about the gym and also because I am WEAK. I go to a laundromat farther from my house because the one on my block has truly incomprehensible hours and once two women got in a fight and threw each others' clothes on the floor. I stop to get cash for quarters and lunch later. My ex leaves me on read, which is existentially what I deserve. $20
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12:30 p.m. — I leave my laundry in the washer and come home to do some quick meal prep. I am disgusting from the gym and want to shower, but I'm going to wait until my stuff is in the dryer. I FaceTime my friend in Amsterdam and prep a salad for dinner at my friend's house tomorrow night. Then I shove peanut butter toast in my face and go back to the laundromat to switch my clothes to the dryer. I stop at the bank and deposit a reimbursement from work for office supplies.
1:15 p.m. — My ex calls ,and we talk for 20 minutes or so. My boundaries are garbage. I jump in the shower (finally!) and clip my nails. I neglect to shave or comb my (too long) hair and make a mental note to try to do it another day. My friend shows up for lunch, and we take the bus uptown for Japanese curry. We crowd some people at the bar and end up making friends with them. I skipped some grades, so I should be in my last year of college right now, and I like connecting with people who are still in school. I follow them on Instagram, which is maybe an awkward thing to do, but I'm always trying to extend my friend circle. $18
4 p.m. — I fold all my laundry and put away an entire box of clothes my friend gave me. She's moving, and I "helped" her pack (I moved one box) and took piles of clothes she didn't want anymore. I call my mom to talk about a financial aid application that I'm filling out for graduate school abroad next year. IT IS PRICEY! My mom very generously offers to look over my paperwork, but also ends up stressing me out by issuing (valid) warnings about student debt. I finally get to my other errands and drop off a letter (I already have stamps) for an Amnesty International campaign. I warm up some of the soup I got at Trader Joe's, the consistency of which is remarkably like mashed potatoes. My stomach has been upset all day (really since Friday when I drank eight unique types of alcohol over a five-hour period and somehow didn't die), and I'm hoping the soup helps. I catch up on Broad City as I eat.
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6 p.m. — I change into exercise clothes and go to my friend's soccer game. She asked me to join the team, and I am truly untalented, but it's still fun. I invited a guy I knew in college who hits it off with everyone. We all go out to a diner after, and I get a waffle and chow down on my friend's French fries. We catch glimpses of the Oscars on the TV, and the entire table sings Shallow along with the silent TV. I get on the train home, and the car isn't properly displaying the destination. I freak out because I really don't want to end up on Coney Island at midnight. A guy on the train sees I'm losing it a little and reassures me. We see a rat in the train car and a very drunk dude who's kissing the window. Possibly prompted by this shared trauma, he asks for my number, which I give him because he was continuously sweet and also very cute. I try to catch some of the Oscars when I get home, but they're over and I head to sleep. $9
Daily Total: $134.78

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I read the news for a few minutes, scroll through Instagram, answer texts, and muster the enthusiasm for filling out more financial aid paperwork before work. I rush through eating (egg, other half of grapefruit) and showering. Then I rush to the train (there's a lot of rushing in my life). Staff meeting lasts over an hour, and then I work on a few projects. I am the office coordinator and also director for one of the smaller initiatives, so my time is split throughout the day. Sometimes it's hard to get anything done because I'm putting out several fires at once.
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1 p.m. — I eat the roast beef sandwich and carrots I brought for lunch. I snag a brownie from the office and a candy from the front desk, too. The guy from the train and I text throughout the day. I walk to Staples on my break to inquire about recycling the office's old computers, which are currently ruining my life. Then I leave the office. Of course, my train isn't running so I take the local and text my therapist that I'll be late.
6:15 p.m. — I actually get home and manage to call my therapist on time. It's 45 minutes with a $10 co-pay. I kind of suck because I'm doing my makeup in the mirror as we talk, but I'm going to dinner immediately after. The session comes out of a check I've already sent her.
7 p.m. — I pack up and bounce. The trains are late, so it takes me a year to arrive in Greenpoint. Train boy has stopped texting me, and my ex has started to *facepalm*. I leant him $400, and he pays me back. I put it straight in my savings. My friend made us pasta and chicken meatballs for dinner. I made a salad with lettuce, kale, arugula, green apples, and avocado, and brought the dressing separately so it wouldn't get slimy on my odyssey from lower Manhattan to Greenpoint. We were supposed to go out for dinner, but we're both broke so we decided to cook. We catch up and reminisce and then chat with his roommates briefly. He and I grew up together and have known each other since we were little kids.
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10:40 p.m. — I tipsily head home in a Lyft because they're having a promotion. I tip the driver a lot, because the driving is the same, even though it's cheaper for me, and because he was exceptionally nice. He updated me every few minutes about how far away we were and waited until I unlocked my door before driving away. I write a review — I worked for two years in the service industry in college and those sort of things are nice to receive when you really are trying to do a good job. I call my mom to talk financial aid again. Then I call her back two minutes later to apologize to being for snappy on the phone. She's understanding because she gets that I'm dealing with a lot — I've applied for four different scholarships as well as school-based aid and still have to apply for loans and so on. I'm also working and trying to do my taxes and like 11 other things. $20.06
Daily Total: $20.06

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up. I mess around on the internet for a few minutes and start my financial aid applications. I finish an important one and submit it before starting work on another. Then I rush through my morning routine and eat a frittata I precooked, froze, and then reheated. I shower, fill my brows, and bounce. I miraculously make it to work a few minutes early. I make tea, put my lunch in the fridge, and finish up some ongoing tasks before diving into my big project.
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1 p.m. — For lunch I warm up red lentil pasta I brought. I call my mom to discuss the financial aid work again and email a restaurant near my house about a hostessing position. If I don't have enough savings and get no aid, I'll probably move home for the summer, and I'd rather being working like a dog in the city than living at home. My coworker and I take a quick walk for her to get food and me to reenergize. Subway boy texts me, and I am very pleased.
5:30 p.m. — I leave and head to a language exchange happy hour I try to attend every two weeks. I speak atrocious French but try to practice as much as possible. I realize the bar has a high credit minimum, so I leave to get cash. I walk by a homeless woman twice who is crying. I stop at a cart and get her a hot pretzel and also give her a couple of dollars. $12
7:30 p.m. — We head out and think of getting tapas but end up at sushi. I always end up at sushi. It's fun — I'm a little tipsy and can't tell to what degree I'm being obnoxious. I get home and start cooking for the rest of the week: six hard-boiled eggs, sesame mushrooms, and lemony salmon fillets. I send an email to the restaurant manager who returned my inquiry about hostessing and hours. I try to work on another aid application, but it requires significantly more tax information than I am capable of dealing with. I package up the food I made and take a valerian pill to help me sleep. $20
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Daily Total: $32

Day Four

7:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I shave my legs and listen to music — I usually shave in the shower, but have been in such a rush (and it's winter) so this is truly a production. I eat breakfast (sausage, toast, apples) and read. I'm trying to chill out a little bit today. Then I shower, get dressed, and actually put on makeup and comb my hair.
11:30 a.m. — I'm starving so I eat lunch early: salmon and veggies, which I brought from home. Then we have a conference call and it's my job to take notes. I also fail as a person and text my ex again, but it's because his restaurant was listed as a semi-finalist for a hugely important award! I text him congrats and he leaves me on read. Same shit, different day lol.
5:30 p.m. — I head out to a lecture that my former thesis advisor is giving. He's in town for a few days, basically on a book tour for his incredibly impressive book. I have not read it yet but I can be very enthusiastic about the concept of its existence.
6:30 p.m. — The lecture starts. I'm a little sleep-deprived (throwback to college) and tired from work. I feel like I catch 30% of what's going on. It's formatted as a panel critique of the book and his research. It wouldn't normally be above my head, but I am not catching all the nuance tonight. The audience is primarily French, and you can tell because they clap only once, briefly, at the end of the lecture. I catch my professor after the discussion concludes, and we make plans to catch up over the weekend. On the way home, I stop at the Middle Eastern market on the corner by my house and buy baklava. I get home and warm up salmon and mushrooms for dinner. I also eat some baby carrots before eating the baklava. Then I watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and veg out. I wash my face, brush my teeth, take probiotics, and drink water. I take herbs again to help me sleep because I'm trying to ween myself off melatonin. But I give up and take the melatonin at about 1 a.m. $4
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Daily Total: $4

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I get up and ready. I didn't get to sleep immediately, so I'm lethargic and unfocused. I eat eggs and fruit and then take a shower.
12:30 p.m. — I eat the lunch I brought — more lentil noodles. I'm coordinating a pickup of recycled computers today, so I have to deal with the front desk, the freight, the building, the recycling company, our finance department, and my coworkers who are helping me move the stuff. I end up on the street surrounded by garbage bags. The pickup company is late, and I stand there waiting for 45 minutes in the cold.
5:30 p.m. — I head to meet a guy (different from train guy), and we get a quick tea and chat. We've only texted before this, so it's essentially putting a face to a name. I was supposed to link up with train boy at 7 (I know I shouldn't necessarily pile these dates on top of one another, but I literally am only free tonight), but I push it later and eventually cancel. I didn't really eat dinner, so I order a burger and fries on Seamless. Starting on Friday, I usually spend atrocious amounts of money. I'm going to try to deal with that in the upcoming month. $15
Daily Total: $15

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I get up and pull myself through my routine, not combing my hair and generally still feeling down. I get to work and try to get things done. I go out to Dos Toros for lunch. In general I'm in a better mood because I'm getting quite a bit done at work and don't feel so overwhelmed. $12.50
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5:30 p.m. — I head downtown to my house and get ready for a friend's going away party. I buy beer and make myself semi-presentable. I have to lug the beer from an express stop because the train isn't running local and I curse my friend for wanting to have a "beer aesthetic" rather than wine or something else less cumbersome. $10.39
7:30 p.m. — I arrive and help set up, and then we order sushi. Her roommates and their friends are there already playing beer pong. I restrict myself to drinking one kind of alcohol throughout the night and generally succeed. I meet a bunch of her friends from work and catch up with people we went to college with. Eventually I go sleep in her room before the party winds down. $15
Daily Total: $37.89

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up because the light in her room is so bright. We finish packing, and she gives me another half of her wardrobe that she's throwing away. We go to breakfast at a vegan diner and go to a donut shop after putting our name it at the restaurant. The snow is disgusting, and I am soaked. While we wait, I walk across the street and get socks and plastic bags for my feet (I'm wearing tall boots) because they are FREEZING. I get a donut too. $5.72
12 p.m. — We get seated and get our food fairly quickly. I get pancakes and sausage, which are both fine. $21
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1:30 p.m. — I swing back to my friend's house, say bye to the other people we were out with, and then she and I have a long drawn out goodbye. I was devastated last week but have now come to terms with her leaving and I'm able to feel excited for her. I take a Lyft home with all the stuff she gave me in bags. I rest and watch Broad City because my time management skills are poor on the weekend. I start cleaning my apartment and making a grocery list for Sunday. I also have computer work I need to do after everything is neatened. I snack on leftover French fries. $25.25
5 p.m. — I need to pay rent. It's the 2nd of the month, but my landlord isn't strict at all. I transfer money from my savings account to do that and plan to get it out of the bank on Monday. I lay around and eventually go for a walk, circuitously making my way to a bar where I'm meeting the guy I met on the train. He's half an hour late, but it's cool because he had a long distance to get here. We go to a wine bar and then a Chinese place for dumplings and noodles. He pays for dinner and I pay for drinks.We end up at a dive near my house and I'm drunk so I invite him back. (Lol @ me). He's been polite and is cute sooooooo. Boy leaves, and I crash. $21
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Daily Total: $72.97
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