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A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $65,000 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 recruiting coordinator who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a rosewater spray.
Occupation: Recruiting coordinator
Industry: Non-profit
Age: 27
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $65,000
Net Worth: −$20,000 (I don’t have any savings because all my money goes to my credit card debt).
Debt: $20,000 over four credit cards and one personal loan.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,850
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,350 (I live alone in a rent-stabilized apartment I won through the NY Housing Lottery).
Electricity: ~$50
Personal Loan: $216
Cell Phone: $89
Wi-Fi: $90
Apple: $10 (Apple Music and Robux for my sister).
Netflix: $20 (for all other streaming services I use my friends’ accounts).
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 no expectation but it just seemed like the right thing to do, especially since I had no idea what I wanted to do career-wise. I was the first person in my family to go to college and get a degree: I got my BA in business and my MS in fashion marketing. I have always had an interest in the fashion industry so after studying abroad, I thought getting this degree would help me get into the industry — but that was a fail on my part so I didn’t do anything career-wise with that. I got a scholarship that covered 90% of my tuition, room and board, and books. Then for grad school, I took out loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up I was very much spoiled. I got whatever I wanted from family members. No one really talked to me about money or saving. I got money and things from my grandma and aunt but that was about it. I thought they made a lot of money because they would take me to visit family in Jamaica and give me gifts.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
In high school, I babysat for spending money. I didn’t work a real job until college. I worked at retail stores over the summer breaks so I would have money for clothes and things I wanted for the upcoming semester.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn’t worry about money growing up until I was in high school. I was so used to getting whatever, that when that stopped, it was jarring. My mother is a single mom and at the time she was pregnant with my younger sister so money was tight. My family had a big disagreement and I was left with the choice of living with my grandma or living with my mom and I chose my mom. I could no longer get the things that I wanted, so life shifted a bit.
Do you worry about money now?
All the time. I am in what feels like extreme debt. I tried so hard, especially in college, to work on getting rid of the debt that I had accumulated so that I could have an amazing credit score, since my godmother told me I should focus on my credit score. Now that I look back, the $500 credit card debt I had back then is nothing compared to the debt I have now. I feel like I’m in a never-ending hole. As soon as I pay off one thing, I owe something else. It’s been a rough past two years, especially being unemployed twice in that time (including from February to May of this year). I’m trying to play catch up, but I’m still behind. I’m seriously thinking about getting a weekend job to help with my debt. It doesn’t help that I spend money on stupid shit all the time and I have a younger sister who thinks I should buy her whatever she wants.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became completely financially responsible for myself when I moved out of my mother’s apartment at 25. I know that’s a lot older than most people so you would think I would do better, but nope. Even now, I ask my mother for money for things like food or to pay a bill because I’m struggling. She has definitely helped me a lot over the past two years financially so I would like to pay off my debt so I can pay her back.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No. I know my grandmother has some type of will but I don’t know the details and don’t think I’m included since we barely speak.

Day One

8:25 a.m. — Today I have to commute to work, which I hate. I would definitely rather be at home, especially after having such a hard time sleeping. It was one of those nights where you don’t know if you’re actually sleeping or awake, so you wake up exhausted in the morning. Am I the only one who goes through this? I walk to the train and use my Cash App account, since I get $1 off the now $2.90 train ride. I’m really trying to cut out unnecessary spending, and I bring my own coffee so I don’t buy any. $1.90
3 p.m. — I had two meetings back to back so I’m having a very late lunch. I order a kale Caesar salad from Sweetgreen. Salads are not cheap, especially when you add avocados. It would have been cheaper if I bought a salad kit from Trader Joe’s when I went grocery shopping — but I didn’t, so here I am. This is my last bit of money until I get paid tomorrow but I have already budgeted that paycheck, so really I won’t have much until the next payday. $17.37
5:07 p.m. — I’m out the door at 5 p.m. on the dot today. I can’t wait to go home; I can’t believe it’s only Tuesday. Two more days of commuting that I don’t want to do. Every part of my job can be done remotely because all I do is schedule interviews and answer the phone (which is on my computer), but I digress. I’m ready to get into bed. $1.90
9:15 p.m. — Dinner tonight is already-cooked rosemary chicken and rice from Trader Joe’s. I bought two boxes of the frozen jasmine rice because I suck at cooking rice. This is my first time trying the grilled chicken, which goes in the microwave and is surprisingly good. I put the extra in a separate bowl to save for tomorrow. I love a quick and easy meal that doesn’t require too many dishes.
Daily Total: $21.17

Day Two

5:18 a.m. — Of course, as soon as I get paid here comes something unexpected. This time it’s Netflix. This is my first time paying for it on my own. I used to use my best friend’s account but we’re no longer friends and he kicked me off. LOL. I’m laughing, but it’s actually kind of sad. I cost in my monthly expenses.
7:26 a.m. — I owe my friend money from a trip we took, so I send it over now. I owe two more people money but they will have to wait because I budgeted that money from my future paychecks. $57
7:29 a.m. — I transfer half my rent into my savings account so I don’t spend it. This way I can pay the rest of my bills and still have money left over. I want to be a month ahead in rent but that will come in due time. Right now credit card debt takes over my life so I don’t have much to put away.
8:10 a.m. — I pay my past-due internet bill that I completely forgot about, so now I’m behind a month (in monthly expenses, no late fee). Yikes. The struggle is real. I really need to look into a weekend job. That would help me so much right now. I’m hoping I can find something seasonal. I think being a waitress or bartender would be ideal but I feel like my horrible memory and Resting Bitch Face won’t be the best. But there is money to be made so I need to figure it out.
8:20 a.m. — Off to the office again. I’m not sure why, but last night I swore it was Thursday so to wake up once again and it’s not was super annoying. Thanks again to Cash App for the $1 off boost for the MTA. It needs to be permanent. $1.90
8:45 a.m. — Because it’s payday I think I deserve an expensive coffee, but do I really? Nope, but I’m doing it anyway. I stop at this new coffee place and get an espresso matcha latte. $6.13
12:51 p.m. — I meet up with some old coworkers for lunch since we’re in the same neighborhood. It’s been a minute since I’ve seen them so it is great to catch up. We get Mexican food, which will also be dinner tonight. I also get a scoop of ice cream. My lunch date pays for my ice cream and I’m grateful for the treat. We plan to meet up again in the next couple of weeks and I walk back to the office. Still dying for the day to be over. $23.95
6:16 p.m. — I used Klarna to pay for two tickets to see 50 Cent last month so another payment goes through that I forgot about. I have one more payment then that’s done. I got super high during that concert so I don’t remember much so there goes that, but I love his music and I had fun. $101.15
5:32 p.m. — After work, I decide to stop at Marshalls. Very bad idea. I only pick up eyebrow razors, tweezers, and under-eye patches. Not necessarily things I need, but still things I could use. I bought aloe vera gel last week from Trader Joe’s so I'm going to attempt to shave my face tomorrow night. Let’s hope nothing crazy happens. $17.39
Daily Total: $207.52

Day Three

8:25 a.m. — Last day of the week in the office. I have some oatmeal before I head to the office on the subway. $1.90
9 a.m. — Remember that extra food I was supposed to take home for dinner? Well, I forgot it at the office so I figured I would have it for lunch today. Nope! It’s been thrown out. I forgot about the 4 p.m. rule and my name wasn’t on the bag. I’m a little salty because now I have to buy food.
1:05 p.m. — I get a burger and fries from the food hall by my office. Still thinking about the quesadilla from yesterday. I'm going to try to bring in food next week so I’m not spending $60 a week. This is going to add up, and not in a good way. $21.78
11 a.m. — They’re offering free health screenings at work so I sign up for this slot. At the health screening, they prick my finger and test my cholesterol. I then do some more work and end up having to sit in on an interview, which makes me nervous because I haven’t been trained for this.
5:25 p.m. — I talk to my manager at the end of the day to catch her up on all the recruitment stuff I did this week. I always pick the end of the day to talk to her and end up staying past 5 p.m. She was in interviews all day so I kind of had no choice. I go back to my desk, throw my computer in my bag, and leave. I take the subway home. $1.90
9:45 p.m. — I fall asleep while playing games on my iPad so I don’t end up eating until late. My mom wakes me up with a phone call asking me to take my sister to school tomorrow. I heat up some chicken and then go to sleep so I can wake up early tomorrow.
Daily Total: $25.58

Day Four

6:50 a.m. — I wake up irritated. I don’t even get up this early to go to work and it’s supposed to be my work-from-home day. I drag myself out of bed and have a protein shake. I get dressed and realize if I try to take the bus and train I won’t make it in time. I call an Uber. $16.89
7:20 a.m. — We stop at the store on our way to school. My sister, Y., gets a bacon, egg, and cheese roll, two drinks, and a lollipop. We get to school at 7:28 a.m. and then I walk back to my mom’s house so I can work from home there. $9
1 p.m. — For someone who needs to be saving, I do a very bad job of it. Since I’m at my mom’s house and I know there’s no food, I have to buy something. I go to a sandwich and coffee place nearby and order a grilled chicken Caesar wrap with avocado. I make a note to buy avocados when I go grocery shopping so I can have some at home. $12.52
5 p.m. — I spend the day working, then head home. I make a birria pizza for dinner and then have a chill evening on the couch.
Daily Total: $38.41

Day Five

10 a.m. — I sleep in and then have a protein shake for breakfast.
12 p.m. — I lounge around the house for a while and just have a relaxing day.
5:30 p.m. — My sister has been having a hard week at school, so when she asks me to take her shopping, I oblige. My mom sends $100 to take her shopping and I end up spending $60 of my own money. At the end of the day, my sister is my world so I’m okay with spending a little extra to treat her. Plus, I got a few small things for myself from Ulta and VS Pink. $60
10 p.m. — I realize that I didn’t really eat today so I heat up the leftover birria pizza and eat that. I try out the new rosewater spray I got from Ulta. I've seen a couple of videos on TikTok about rosewater being great for your skin and I am easily influenced. I’m hoping it helps with my dry skin and dark marks until I get a vitamin C serum.
Daily Total: $60

Day Six

8 a.m. — I’m awake and up for a day of errands.
12 p.m. — I go to the beauty supply store to pick up a spray for my wig and some press-on nails. This year has taken a toll on my mental health, which has lead to my confidence and wellbeing going downhill. I decided that although my bills and extra spending are high, I need to do something for myself that makes me feel better. For now, that looks like taking care of my hair and nails. I just want to feel better overall and I feel like those two things will be a start. Hopefully, I can keep it up going forward. $23.92
1:30 p.m. — I stop at Trader Joe’s to pick up some things I need to make a club sandwich. My friends and I planned a virtual movie night and we’re all making club sandwiches. I’m going to make the sandwich twice so I can bring it to work for lunch, so I get double of everything. I already spent way too much money last week, so I’m trying to bring lunch every day this coming week. $39.27
3 p.m. — I add $20 to my Starbucks account so my sister can get a Frappuccino. I think it was a successful weekend of bringing her spirits up. My therapist thinks I should set boundaries for how much time I spend taking care of her, but she had a bad week so I made an exception. Let’s not get into the trauma of being an unofficial teen mom... that’s for another day. $20
10 p.m. — I take my sister home and wash my hair while I’m there. My mom braids my hair right after I get out of the shower. She pays for my Uber home and gets us dinner so that’s something I don’t have to worry about. Off to sleep so I can get up for work in the morning.
Daily Total: $83.19

Day Seven

10:15 a.m. — It’s raining and I’m thrilled I don’t have to go to the office today. I walk to Dunkin’ since it’s free coffee day. I have money on my account so I get a free coffee and a croissant.
1:15 p.m. — I let my best friend H. talk me into buying lunch and we order from a local sandwich place. I get a salad that costs too much. We walk to pick up our orders then go back to our homes since I don’t have time to sit and eat. I have a training and two interviews to sit through for the rest of the work day. $15.12
2:45 p.m. — The training ends early so I rush to eat some of my salad before my other meetings. As soon as my meetings end, I do a quick workout at home and then get ready for movie night.
6 p.m. — I make my club sandwich and settle in for virtual movie night. When the movie is over, I get into bed and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $15.12
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