A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $105,000 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 paralegal who makes $105,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a pineapple.
Occupation: Paralegal
Industry: Law
Age: 27
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $105,000 +10% bonus
Net Worth: $36,052.68 (High Yield Savings Account: $3,200, Roth 401(k): $18,000, Health Spending Account: $4,279, Crypto: $21,780 (this is pure luck an ex-boyfriend gifted me crypto back in 2016 and I just never sold it) minus debt. I had more in my emergency fund, but I had a cancer scare and even with great insurance it took a lot out of my cash reserves.)
Debt: Student Loans: $9,897, Credit Card: $1,309.32
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,190.13 (I make over time so my paychecks fluctuate, but this is an average)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,354.60 (my half of the rent in my rent-stabilized apartment that I share with one roommate)
Credit Card: $327.33
Medical Installment Plan: $57.89 (this month is my final payment for a procedure I had six months to pay off)
Internet: $10 after firm internet stipend
Gas: $10
Electric: $90
CrunchyRoll: $9.99
Netflix: $15.99
iCloud: $0.99
Apple Music: currently free since I bought AirPods recently
Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+: free with my Amex
New York Times: paid for by firm
WSJ: paid for by firm
Peloton Membership: paid for by firm
Vacation Fund: $200
Gift Fund: $100
Emergency Fund: $260
House Fund: $550
Annual Expenses:
YNAB: $98.99
Doorman Tip: $500 (this is half and my roommate contributes the other half. I save for this year round to make sure I have cash on hand to thank them properly and not put a strain on holiday season finances)
Annual CC Fees: $889 (Chase Sapphire, Delta Gold, AMEX Platinum)
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?
Yes. I'm the first on either side of my family to go to college and despite no family member understanding the difficulties of attending, I grew up with the expectation that I would go. I got very lucky and received a full tuition scholarship for a school which left me with about $11,000 per year of room and board to cover. I took out loans to cover it and had a job on campus which allowed me to pay off significant parts of the principal of the loan while I was still in school. I graduated with about $32,000 in debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't really talk to me about money. They would say very generic things like, "Save your money!" and "Spend less than you make," but never really got into the details about credit/loans/etc. My dad did teach me a lot about investing which I'm very grateful for. I didn't put what he taught me into practice until recently as I didn't understand how investing interplays with personal finance/how you can invest even if you're still in student loan debt.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a clothing store during high school making minimum wage ($7.25). I didn't apply for it I was approached by a manager saying I "had the right look."
Did you worry about money growing up?
No. We lived in a very low-cost-of-living area and my father worked out of state making more than most in our area. My parents made me conscious of money/spending but never let me worry about it which looking back on is a huge privilege.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I worry that I'll never be able to shake the last $10,000 of student loan debt, I worry that I'll lose my job, I worry that I'll let lifestyle creep set in and make irresponsible decisions, I worry that my boyfriend is not as financially savvy as me and how that could affect our relationship especially now that I'm on pace to out earn him despite being younger.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
18. My parents made me learn about financial responsibility in high school, but in college, I was really on my own. All the loans were in my name, I had to get a job to buy books, food, flights home for the holidays, shoes, etc. Part of me was really proud because any penny my parents didn't spend on me was a penny they could put towards finally retiring. I know if I were to ever fall on hard times they would be there for me. My parents did cosign my first apartment in NY (the landlord wanted someone who made 40x the rent and I didn't meet the requirements as I hadn't started my job yet, they also provided me with $500 towards my security deposit that I paid back once I started receiving paychecks and I am very thankful for that help).
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm to scroll through TikTok and review my calendar for any large deadlines. Thankfully, mercifully, it looks like it's a lighter week than normal. I wash my face, brush my teeth, pop an allergy pill, and do my skincare routine which is Krave Matcha Hemp face wash, Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence, Stratia liquid gold serum, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Grade IPL Dark Spot Correcting Serum, Dieux Instant Angel, and Biore Watery Essense Essence.
9 a.m. — Settle into work, which for my current work-from-home system means turning on a Lofi radio station, starting my ice machine, and looking through all the emails that came in over the evening/weekend. I have a string of meetings that start at 11 so I only work on things that can be completed before the meeting.
11:30 a.m. — I'm feeling peckish after the first meeting so I grab a Larabar from my pantry. Receive an email saying that we will be receiving extra PTO days to address employee burnout. And as an option, we can either cash them out into our next paychecks or use them as 401(k) contributions. I calculate what it would look like to contribute some of the days to my 401(k). I know I want to keep some of the extra time off for a trip to see my family in Korea but I love padding my retirement funds when I can. I write myself a note to come back to this question and get back to work. I take a break to putz around on the internet. I see that a game I want to play with my boyfriend, It Takes Two, is on sale. I check my budget in YNAB to make sure I have the funds and when I see I do, I buy it and I set it to download on my PS5. $16.97
1:30 p.m. — Make lunch, which is a wrap with air-fried Morningstar chicken tenders, Siete almond flour tortillas, kale, celery, cherry tomatoes, and Frank's RedHot. I eat while catching up on my new favorite anime. I'm still a little hungry so I go back to the fridge and get some pineapple.
5 p.m. — I reach a point where I feel like I've done enough for today. I spend some time cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. I notice I'm running low on toilet bowl cleaner and conditioner and my boyfriend is almost out of contact solution. I check my budget, it's a little low as my next paycheck is just days away so I coupon for all the items I need and place the order for pick up. $2.74
6 p.m. — I start dinner which is a quinoa and spinach salad and roasted chicken breast and Brussels sprouts. Right as I put the chicken and sprouts in the oven I get a work call — there is a last-minute fire drill and a co-worker is calling for a favor. I can't say no to my work wife (or OT) so I set a timer for the food in the oven and get back to work.
7:30 p.m. — I finish work for real this time and begin plating up dinner. My boyfriend arrives and has brought me sliced mangos, blueberries, and a case of seltzer water. We eat dinner and then watch an episode of Masterchef while eating the fruit. I do my skincare routine which is the same as the morning except I use Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA instead of sunscreen (I also don't use the vitamin C serum anytime I use actives!) and then we play the game I got us in bed for a few hours before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $19.71

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up because of the construction outside of my window but stay awake because of the state of my inbox. I answer a few emails in bed before getting up to complete my morning routine and start work with Up First and The Daily podcasts playing in the background.
1 p.m. — I finally get my to-do list and inbox pared down to a manageable point so I stop to make lunch. What I really want to do is order a salad and sandwich from my local cafe but I decide to make food with what I have to save money. I make miso soup with silken tofu, miso paste, instant dashi, green onions, and dehydrated seaweed. I also pull some frozen edamame from the freezer and make it into a salad with smashed cucumbers, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili crisp, green onions, garlic, and soy sauce. I pull some impossible beef from the freezer to thaw for dinner. I get a ping saying the meeting I was frantically preparing for has been canceled. I celebrate by drinking one of the seltzers my boyfriend, Q., got me and taking a walk to pick up my Duane Reade order, grab some books I have on hold at the library, and turning in a winning scratch-off to get more.
2 p.m. — Back at my desk and back at work.
7 p.m. — I'm in a place work-wise where I feel like I can manage to take some time to prepare dinner. I toast some dried chili peppers, an onion, some tomatoes, and garlic and blend with chicken stock to make an enchilada sauce. I fill the tortillas with seasoned and seared impossible beef and quinoa and throw it all into the oven. I also start some quick pickled red onions. While dinner is in the oven, I clean my room and run the Roomba (a gift from work).
8 p.m. — Q. comes over. We eat dinner and have some beer from a local brewery. We have pineapple for dessert. We get ready for bed with our typical routine and play video games until we go to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up to shower. Today is jam-packed so I need to be ready to go out of the house ASAP. I shower (Oribe Bright Blonde hair products for my bleached hair and L'occitane almond shower oil), do my skin-care routine, apply Bread hair oil to my damp hair, and Palmer's cocoa butter lotion. I use my Dyson dryer (a Christmas gift) and then do my makeup (Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter, Westman Atelier contour stick, Charlotte Tilbury highlighter wand, Nars eye primer, Anastasia Soft Glam eyeshadow, Patrick Ta brow pomade, Tom Ford Eyeliner Duo, and Gurlain mascara).
9:45 a.m. — I leave my apartment for a dentist appointment. Grab the train and get there on time. $2.75
11 a.m. — I get a clean bill of (dental) health! No copays because it was just a cleaning/check up so I hop on the train to the office. $2.75
1 p.m. — I order lunch with coworkers from a Mediterranean spot. I get a falafel salad and iced green tea, which the firm reimburses. ($17.89 expensed)
4 p.m. — I want a pick-me-up so I offer to do a coffee run for my team. I get a matcha latte. The firm picks up the tab. ($33.25 expensed)
6 p.m. — I wrap up work and head to an Italian restaurant for dinner and drinks with the team. I have several gin and tonics and a massive plate of butternut squash risotto. The firm pays for all of us and my car ($67) home. I do my nightly routine and clean my room a bit. ($67 expensed)
10 p.m. — Q. comes over and does his nightly routine. We play more of our game before falling asleep to The Great British Baking Show.
Daily Total: $5.50

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up early because I have a lot to do in very little time. Paystubs have been released so I take 30 minutes in the morning with a coffee to update my budget with my newest paycheck. I pay $163.67 towards my credit card debt that I'm on track to pay off (in monthly expenses). (I do this twice a month instead of once to take the edge off). I put $57.89 towards the past payment of medical bill I was on a payment plan for I prefer to pay for medical expenses rather than reimburse using my HSA because I'm using that as a retirement account (also in monthly expenses). I do a form of envelope budgeting so I love seeing the progress of my debt, filling my categories, and having different savings goals. Once I'm done with this, I do my skin-care routine before starting work in earnest.
12:30 p.m. — I take a break from work and think about my plans. I realize now is a good time to book tickets to visit my family. I spend 30 minutes talking with my travel agent (another firm perk) and doing my own searching before settling on a perfect medium-in-price/amenities ticket (I always pay a little more for a nonstop flight that lets me pick seats beforehand). $257.20
1 p.m. — I take a phone interview from a recruiter. While I love my current law firm, I want to see what else is available/if I could achieve a better quality of life or balance. The interview is with a tech company instead of a firm and I'm very interested in leaving the law firm bureaucracy behind. They seem interested in my resume and tell me they're really enjoying the conversation we're having. Then we talk salary. I throw out a number that is about 30% higher than my current salary. They counter higher… I'm even more interested. Then they throw out the bonus and equity incentives. With those sorts of numbers, I could begin saving and investing very heavily and attempt to retire early. We agree to revisit numbers when I have a better sense of job duties. We wrap up and I make a pineapple and kale smoothie and have a side salad and Larabar for lunch.
8 p.m. — I have to help out with an emergency so I work most of the evening. My boyfriend brings me Italian subs for dinner. We have them with a beer to unwind. He works in tech so I ask him if he thinks the numbers they offered for comp/bonuses/equity are competitive and he says, “overwhelmingly so — I need to see if they're hiring in my department.” We talk more about it while watching an old episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race. Then we do our night routines and go to bed.
Daily Total: $257.20

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my phone practically vibrating off the charging stand. I grab my phone and see what the damage is (54 unread emails). When I piece together that I'm needed ASAP I rush through my morning routine and get to it. I power through it while occasionally looking over at my boyfriend still deep asleep in bed with envy. He eventually wakes up and starts getting ready for work and leaves. But only a few minutes later he's back! With an almond croissant and flowers!
12:00 p.m. — I'm finding I'm hungrier earlier than normal so I go to the kitchen and pull out the other half of my Italian sandwich. I also pull out short ribs from the freezer to thaw for dinner.
2 p.m. — I find time to take an actual break so I go to the kitchen and begin preparing the short ribs so they can slow cook all day. I soak them in water to clean them while I prepare a braising liquid of soy sauce, mirin, ginger, sugar, garlic, dried mushrooms, and pepper. I parboil the short ribs, add the sauce, and then add some rough chopped Korean radishes, carrots, and onions. I let it all come together and leave it on low heat in my prized Le Creuset dutch oven (something I purchased with my first paycheck) while I get back to work.
5 p.m. — I have managed to clear my inbox early! Friday is typically one of the busiest days at law firms as they are traditionally deadline heavy but I seem to have lucked out this week. I wash and place some rice in my rice cooker. I tend to my short ribs and start deep cleaning the living room, dining room, and bathroom, then I take a ride on the Peloton.
8 p.m. — I start plating up Korean side dishes as my boyfriend walks through the door. He makes us soju cocktails to have with our dinner while I bring the short ribs to the table. My roommate who has been gone all week on business walks in and we invite him to have dinner with us. We get very drunk and full and play Mario Kart to celebrate the weekend arriving.
11 p.m. — We call it a night. Q. and I do our routines, get in bed, and excitedly discuss what food we want to eat, where we want to go, or who we should see this weekend. I fall asleep while flipping through cookbooks for food inspiration.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

9 a.m. — Q. and I wake up despite wanting to sleep in. The weather is great, so we decide to get chai lattes, his treat, and take a very long walk around the park.
1 p.m. — I get hungry and Q. tells me he'll get me whatever I want. We go to my favorite vegan Ethiopian restaurant. We order tofu, a platter with different types of lentils, sambusas, string beans, braised collard greens, carrots, stir-fried cabbage, lots of injera to share, and some cocktails.
2 p.m. — We walk back home instead of taking the train. A few friends text us asking if we're around to play board games. I immediately say yes and we plan to meet in a few hours to drink and play some games. I go to the store and grab some tonic water, brie, puff pastry, and fresh figs. $24.46
3 p.m. — I get home and relax and watch the newest episode of Spy x Family while making brie en croute.
4 p.m. — Our friends arrive and we play several games and drink and eat the brie and popcorn I've put out. We do eventually crave more legitimate food so I offer to get us some pizzas. I leave for 10 minutes to pick up large pizza and some salad. When I'm back we crack open some beers and enjoy our pizza. $36
11 p.m. — My friends leave with the promise we'll see each other soon and with more lead time. Q. and I play some video games before doing our night routines and heading to bed.
Daily Total: $60.46

Day Seven

8 a.m. — We wake up and decide to head to the large multicultural market. I go through my Notion recipe database to get an idea of what I want to eat/make this week. My boyfriend has a car, a New York blessing and curse, and the best part about it is we're able to stock up on food when we go shopping. This trip we get kale, romaine, black beans, plantains, cherry tomatoes, fresh salmon, shrimp, a whole chicken, asparagus, baby carrots, celery, frozen empanadas, frozen chocolate-covered bananas, jerk seasoning, rice vinegar, sweet potatoes, pineapple, strawberries. $89.66
1 p.m. — On the drive back home we stop at a Trinidadian restaurant to pick up doubles, Q. pays. We get home, unload groceries, and eat. We spend the rest of the day cleaning, reading, and watching What We Do In The Shadows.
7 p.m. — We take the train to a restaurant. $2.75
8 p.m. — We eat at an incredible Italian place. We have several courses including three rounds of cocktails, focaccia with ramp butter, grilled prawns, fettuccine with lamb sausage and fennel, agnolotti with sheep's milk cheese, honey, and saffron, a grilled leg of lamb, and vanilla gelato with olive oil, honey, and fennel pollen. It is one of the best meals I've had in a long time. The bill comes and this one is my treat as Q. has recently gotten a huge promotion! I personally think the bill is reasonable for the amount we ordered but it is typically close to what I typically spend in a single month on dining out coming in at $212.37 after tip (but it took me a month to get this reservation so I was able to save up for it). $212.37
10 p.m. — We take the train home. $2.75
11 p.m. — We get home, do our routines, and crash into bed still full and delighted by dinner.
Daily Total: $307.53
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