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A Week In New York, NY, On A $208,000 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 PR manager who makes $208,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on avocados.
Occupation: PR Manager/Fitness Instructor
Industry: Technology
Age: 30
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $208,000 ($145,000 base salary + $60,000 bonus + $3,000 from teaching).
Net Worth: $176,000 ($122,000 in personal investments + $41,000 in my 401(k) + $23,000 in cash, minus debt).
Debt: $7,500 in federal student loans + $2,500 in current credit card statement.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $3,113.55
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,300 (legacy pandemic deal on a one-bedroom rental).
Loans: $0 (federal student loan payment is not required right now).
Fitness Membership: $0 (because I teach).
Utilities: $96
Wi-Fi: $90
Cell Phone: $6 (work covers the plan, I pay the taxes and fees, comes with HBO Max, which I trade with friends for Netflix and Hulu).
Dog Walker: $192
Spotify: $10
Cloud Storage: $1
Amazon Prime: $16
Pet Insurance: $51
Rental Insurance: $20
Annual Expenses
Amex Platinum: $695 (I got this for work expenses. I have to do self-purchase for my work travel and I spend $5,000-$10,000 per month so it made sense to have the platinum for one year for the bonus, but I will probably cancel before the next fee hits).
Chase Sapphire: $550 (for personal expenses).
Citi Bike: $170
YNAB: $108
Duotrope: $50
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?
Not really, my dad didn't graduate from college and my mom didn't finish until she was in her 30s. I always wanted to go and my family was supportive but if I had wanted to do something else, that would have been okay as well. I was a very competitive student and got into a private school on a scholarship for high school. At that school, there was a social expectation that all students go to college. I got into a selective college with good financial aid, worked at a restaurant to cover my living expenses, and my parents contributed a bit to my tuition. I took out some loans to cover the remaining balance.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't have any money so the conversations were mainly around that. Money was always tight. When I got into private high school, my dad started working seven days a week to pay the portion of tuition my scholarship didn't cover. Going there gave me access to so many opportunities but my family really struggled to afford it. That added a lot of pressure and guilt.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat in middle school and then I worked at a farm the summer before high school. My parents didn't have extra money to give me so I wanted to have money to do things, such as buy clothes, a laptop and textbooks for school.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, I could not wait to move out of home and be responsible for myself. I thought about moving out in high school because I truly could not deal with my mother, but decided it would be better in the long run for me to stay and suck it up.
Do you worry about money now?
No, lol. Last year I kicked my then-fiancé out of my apartment, which was stressful because my rent doubled, but I love living here and I am very on top of my spending. I have high-value skills and could do a lot of different jobs if I ever got laid off. My friends would let me crash in a worst-case scenario.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I have paid my own phone bill since college but my parents did help me out with tuition so let's say 23, after graduation.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — First priority: my puppy. Since getting her last summer, I go out in public in some of the least acceptable outfits anyone has ever worn. Lucky for me, my coffee brews on a timer. I put some in a to-go mug and off we go to the park.
8:19 a.m. — I leave my dog at home and go to a free yoga class.
10:15 a.m. — I make most of my food at home. For breakfast, I toast bread from the freezer and smear it with red lentil pâté then sprinkle it with sesame seeds and flaky salt. Yum. I eat while reading emails.
1:05 p.m. — After some calls, it's back to the dog park. While my pup plays, I restock her supplies. I order a 34lb bag of kibble, probiotics, freeze-dried liver, Bocce treats, ear cleaner and paw wipes. This should last one to two months. $177.66
5:50 p.m. — My art collector friend and I are meeting at the galleries for some openings, including a friend's show. Rain has disrupted my plans to Citi Bike. I eat a burrito from my freezer then grab a cab. $21.48
7:20 p.m. — My friend has a cocktail party to swing by and he brings me along. He pays for this cab. The party isn't that interesting so I leave after one drink when a random guy gets handsy.
9:35 p.m. — My puppy needs attention. Then I prep food: almond butter chocolate chip cookies and sauce for tofu. The dough needs to chill overnight and the tofu needs to marinate. I soak almonds in filtered water on the counter to use in overnight oats tomorrow morning.
Daily Total: $199.14

Day Two

8:05 a.m. — A sluggish Friday. My dog and I both sleep in. I take her for a quick potty walk and feed her. Once home, I turn on the oven to bake cookie dough from the fridge. After the cookies, I bake the tofu from last night. Having things ready ahead of time prevents me from ordering takeout. I drink coffee and answer some emails. It's a holiday weekend so if all goes well it should be a quiet day! For breakfast, I eat avocado toast with red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast.
12:30 p.m. — I'm meeting up with my mentee for lunch (I've mentored her since she was in high school). I take a Citi Bike uptown to Chick-fil-A (her pick). I don't eat meat so I get fries and an iced coffee. I pay. $22.83
2:45 p.m. — I found a rug I want to buy on Facebook Marketplace so I bike further uptown to pick it up. It's new and still in the plastic. I pay the guy $60 and bike back downtown through Central Park. My hands freeze in the wind. I was lucky enough to grab an e-bike so I get an extra charge for the day's rides ($11.30). $71.30
3:30 p.m. — I take my dog to the park. While she plays, I monitor my inbox. I got enough done earlier in the week that I can slack off today. Back home, I do some laundry and load my laundry card with $50. I wash delicates and workout clothes, which I can air-dry instead of spending more on the dryer. $50
5:15 p.m. — I need to walk down to the animal rescue organization to return some gear from when I was fostering. We make it down and I realize chatting with the staff will make me miss the 6 p.m. yoga class I was hoping to attend, but I figure a long walk counts for some kind of exercise.
6:50 p.m. — I put some rice in my rice cooker and think about what to eat with it. I am leaning burrito but I am out of veggies and need some kind of sauce. I whip up a cashew miso dressing with lemon in my Vitamix. I love having a well-stocked pantry. The sauce tastes amazing.
8:20 p.m. — I sold a desk for $35 on Facebook Marketplace and a student picks it up. More closet space for me. I bring the desk down to my lobby and after the student comes I go to Whole Foods. I pick up a few things —butternut squash, sweet potato, carrots, cucumber, avocados, lemons, laundry concentrate and a pack of hard cider because it is the weekend ($59.62). I drink one and read a Sookie Stackhouse novel. $59.62
Daily Total: $203.75

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — My pup and I walk down to the farmers' market and drop off my compost. We stop for her to play at the dog park on the way back. At home, I eat overnight oats for breakfast. Then I write out my class plan and head to the studio to teach.
12:15 p.m. — I am freeeeee. Time to walk the dog, then shower and eat a burrito. It feels nice to relax on my couch. I text with a long distance friend (she lives in Brooklyn). We were going to do a walk together but the weather is dreary so we reschedule.
3:30 p.m. — My pup and I walk to the guy I'm seeing's (T.) place. I pack toys and dinner for her. On the walk there, I spot a terrible man I dated when I first moved to the city. I thought he was impressive because he went to a fancy college but he's actually psychotic. He was super controlling and stalker-y. I feel on edge after seeing him. I call my Brooklyn friend and talk to her for a bit, which calms me down.
4:35 p.m. — We arrive at T.'s place. My pup is super excited to see my male companion. We are...friends with benefits. He pours wine for us and makes a fire. We watch football and catch up. He orders takeout for dinner. We split an edible. It's a cozy night. I don't spend any money.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — I packed dinner for my dog but I forgot about breakfast. I take her out for a walk and grab a can of wet food at the bodega. $3
9:50 a.m. — T. wakes up and we spend more quality time together. Then he makes me avocado toast on a bagel and an espresso and orange juice, which is nice.
12 p.m. — The pup and I walk back north. On the way, we stop at two different dog parks. Since I can work from home on Mondays, I decide I will go visit my dad upstate so my dog can hike. I do another load of laundry and clean my apartment.
2:57 p.m. — The pup and I take the subway ($2.75) to Grand Central and rush for the 3:09 train ($20.25). We arrive just in time. I packed some food for myself and treats for the pup. I finish my book. Another passenger compliments my dog on being well-behaved. $23
5:49 p.m. — My dad picks us up at the train station. We drop the pup off at his place and go out to dinner with his girlfriend and his business partner. My dad and his business partner pay for dinner.
9:07 p.m. — Back at my dad's place. He picked up special treats for me — kombucha, ginger chews, tofu, and quinoa salad from the grocery store, all my faves. So nice! I take my dog out, read and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $26

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I let the dog out to run around. Inside, I prep an internal presentation and manage some tracking updates. My dad makes a fire and he and his girlfriend both go out to work. I eat some overnight oats that I packed.
12 p.m. — Enough work! I eat my leftover Indian food, then get my pup ready for a hike. There's an hour-long trail near my dad's where she can go off-leash. I drive in my dad's extra car. The dog does laps around me so she gets the equivalent of three hikes. It's fun to be able to let her off the leash.
2 p.m. — We make it back to my dad's house. I do a little work and a little shopping online for stuff for my apartment. I want to buy more décor for my place, which I got in an insane pandemic deal. My apartment has 13-foot ceilings and six closets. The real estate gods giveth and they taketh away; this may be the year my deal ends. I check my budget and decide not to buy anything.
6:15 p.m. — After finishing some work, I decide to head back to the city. My dad's girlfriend is staying over again and I don't mean to crowd them. I accidentally buy two train tickets but it's okay because I can use one next time. I read the next Sookie Stackhouse novel. $40.50
8:50 p.m. — We walk home from the train. I unpack, clean the dog's ears, read and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $40.50

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I ordered coffee beans online but they haven't arrived. I go to the closest coffee shop for a cold brew to get my daily caffeine fix. Overnight oats at home for breakfast. $5.50
11:14 a.m. — I have a lot of strategy calls today so I listen to them and prep veggies. The butternut squash always takes a long time to chop. I also roast sweet potatoes and make quinoa for a burrito for lunch.
4:20 p.m. — I sneak off to free yoga. This class is better.
6:07 p.m. — I eat a quinoa salad for dinner. Take my dog to the park and have a cozy night in.
Daily Total: $5.50

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — My coffee beans are still MIA. I buy a cold brew and a bag of beans at the coffee shop. $23.50
12:30 p.m. — Going into the office always throws off my plans. I realize I forgot to pack lunch as I'm walking in. I stop at Pret and grab a falafel wrap to tide me over for the afternoon. $13
5:30 p.m. — My friend with benefits comes over for diner. I make butternut squash soup with miso and coconut milk and a pine nut pasta sauce served over bucatini. Then we take my dog to the park together. On the way, we pick up beers at the bodega and he pays. We drink our beers discreetly at the dog park. Then enjoy a cozy night in.
Daily Total: $36.50
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