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A Week In New York, NY, On A $114,000 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 senior valuation associate who makes $105,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on iS Clinical Active Serum.
Occupation: Senior Valuation Associate
Industry: Financial Services
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $100,000 (plus bonus, which was $14,000 last year).
Net Worth: $105,000 ($16,000 in checkings and savings, $64,000 in investment accounts and $25,000 in my 401(k) account).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,298 (after taxes and the deductions listed below).
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,189 (I live in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with one roommate).
Utilities: $120–$150 (my half of the internet, gas and electric payments).
Phone: $0 (my dad used to work for a phone service provider so we are grandfathered into a cheap family plan and my parents continue to pay for my portion).
Health Insurance: $0 (taking advantage of the last year on my parents' plan). 
Renter’s Insurance: $10 
Commuter Benefits Program: $75 
iCloud Storage: $0.99 
Streaming Services: $0 (I mooch off my boyfriend, T., and roommate).
Spotify: $0 (my dad pays for our family plan).
ACC Donation: $30 
Planned Parenthood Donation: $50
Identity Guard: $4.62 (deducted from my paycheck).
FSA: $19.24 (deducted).
401(k): $461.54 (deducted).
Roth IRA: $307.70 (deducted).
Life Insurance: $8.30 (deducted).
Annual Expenses
Chase Sapphire Fee: $95
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?
Absolutely. Growing up, it was always drilled into my head that I had to go to college and pursue a career that would guarantee me both job security and financial security. Both of my parents had undergraduate degrees in business and economics and worked in the corporate world so that was the only path I saw and felt was available to me. My parents had my brother and me when they were in their 40s and had been building savings since they joined the workforce so I was lucky enough that they had money set aside to pay for my college education. However, I also received merit scholarships and worked throughout college (internships and service jobs) and covered most of my housing and summer study abroad expenses myself.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mom's parents were Holocaust survivors who immigrated to the US with absolutely nothing and no family or security net. My grandfather ended up finding work as a tailor but from what I understand, they were also financially reliant on reparations from the German government. As a result, my mom grew up incredibly insecure about money and having the pressure of needing to be the financial safety net for her parents once she reached adulthood. As I mentioned earlier, my mom didn't have kids until she was in her early 40s and by that point had reached financial stability for herself and her family. Still, she maintained the same frugal mindset and concern over money. She taught my brother and me about the importance of saving money, being fiscally responsible and being financially independent. Lots of conversations were about money — in fact, it felt like almost every conversation was about money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first jobs were babysitting and tutoring when I was in high school. I was also a camp counselor in the summers. All of the money I earned was for personal spending and savings. My mom would always cash my checks for me and put most of the money into my savings immediately so I was only able to spend the leftovers that she gave me. I am extremely thankful she did this.
Did you worry about money growing up?
As I mentioned above, my mom grew up with a lot of financial trauma and never spoke about how much money we had or how much things cost. So I was never sure if we were actually in financial distress but the lifestyle I grew up in was extremely focused on saving money and avoiding possible financial distress. My mom quit her job after my brother was born so my dad was the only source of income. He was laid off around the 2008 recession and I remember having a sit-down conversation about cutting back on spending but I had no real concept of what our financial situation was. My mom was and still is a big couponer. We rarely went on vacations and only went out to dinner on special occasions. We only ever made big purchases when things were on sale and 100% necessary. But I am so grateful that I was always comfortable and never heard words like: "We can't afford that." It was more like: "That's a lot of money; I don't think you really need it." As evidenced by the fact that my parents paid for my education, we were always way more financially comfortable than my mom let on. She just wanted to make sure that they had more than enough savings to send my brother and me to college and pay for other big expenses, which was very smart.
Do you worry about money now?
I am so privileged to have graduated from college with no debt. I always knew my parents would be my financial safety net and, although I never needed it, knowing that I had support to fall back on definitely drove the decisions that got me to where I am today. I am lucky to say that I do not worry about money now. Since I began working after college, I have focused on building a nice cushion of savings and have allowed myself to spend slightly more on my daily lifestyle, invest and donate money.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After my sophomore year of college, my parents only paid for my tuition and I paid for housing, books, food and any other expenses. As soon as I graduated from college, I became fully financially independent.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. I received around $5,000 to $10,000 from family and friends, mainly for my bat mitzvah but also for holidays and birthdays. My mom immediately put all cash gifts into CDs that matured once I graduated college.

Day One

7:10 a.m. — I snooze my alarm a couple of times and finally get out of bed and start getting ready for work. I put in my contacts, wash my face, brush my teeth and do my makeup. I washed and blow-dried my hair last night so I just brush it and add hair oil. I was feeling ambitious and laid out an outfit before I went to bed, which is a nice treat this morning because I'm usually rushing at this point. I throw on my clothes, add jewelry and perfume, and head out the door. I take the subway to work. Through my commuter benefits program at work, I have $75 a month taken out of my paycheck that I use to load my MetroCard.
9 a.m. — By the time I get to my desk I am always starving, so I pack breakfast to eat as soon as I sit down. It typically consists of yogurt with blackberries, granola and honey, plus a Babybel cheese and a banana. Work has been busy for a few months surrounding year-end but things are finally slowing down and this morning I check my to-do list to see that it has dwindled to almost nothing. This is the BEST feeling ever. I am currently studying for the Level II CFA exam so I am excited to get on-the-clock study time, which is rare and means maybe I won't have to study too much over the weekend.
12:40 p.m. — During lunchtime, I walk to an in-person appointment to apply for TSA PreCheck. My boyfriend and most of my friends have PreCheck so it's been on my list for a while. The $78 for five years of less airport security hassle seems totally worth it. The appointment takes literally five minutes and then I walk back to the office and heat up the lunch I brought: leftover salmon with orzo, peas and asparagus. $78
3 p.m. — Thankfully, my office has free coffee that doesn't suck. I go to the kitchen and make a decaf dirty chai latte. I cut out caffeinated coffee recently because I realized how much it was negatively affecting both my stomach and my anxiety, but I miss it in my routine, so I have been drinking non-coffee and/or decaf alternatives instead. I also snack on a granola bar I brought from home.
5:30 p.m. — I take advantage of the slow day and leave the office earlier than usual. I lost my knit winter gloves last week so I stop at Nordstrom Rack on my way home to see if they have replacements. They've already switched all of their stuff over to spring/summer so I do not find gloves but I do pick up Honest face wash and body lotion, plus OPI nail polish. $41.32
7 p.m. — I was supposed to go out for dinner with my roommate and a friend but we pivot our plans to a more low-key night of hanging out at our apartment, ordering takeout and watching Love Island instead. My boyfriend, T., also comes over to join. We order Mexican food from a place around the corner so I pick it up on my way home to save on delivery fees. My friends Venmo me for their portions and I pay for mine and T.'s. We hang out on the couch until we call it a night at 10. I take a quick shower, and T. and I hang out in bed and watch TikToks together until we fall asleep around 11. $29.68
Daily Total: $149

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Happy Friday! T. and I wake up and head over to his apartment to work remotely for the day because he lives alone and has a much bigger space than I do. I live in Brooklyn and T. lives in Manhattan so we're in an inter-borough relationship, which is basically long distance (just kidding). It is a 45-minute trek on the subway so I pack a bag with stuff to last me the whole weekend. We stop at Dunkin' on the way and I get a matcha latte with oat milk, an egg and cheese on an English muffin, and a donut for later. T. pays with his Dunkin' app.
12 p.m. — I usually have virtual therapy during my lunch break on Fridays but my therapist has been on leave for the past couple of weeks and doesn't show for our session today. She emails me shortly after, profusely apologizing for missing the session, but I am just glad that she is okay. She asks if I want to meet tomorrow but I have been feeling pretty good lately so we just confirm our weekly appointment for next Friday. T. has been wanting to get trendy nail art done so we head to the nail salon around the corner during our lunch break. I get a pedicure and he gets a manicure with a nude base coat and black abstract line/dot designs on top. It comes out looking so good! It's $85 for both of us and I have a $75 gift card that T.'s mom got me for the holidays. T. pays the extra $10 and tips for both of us.
1:45 p.m. — After the nail salon, T. and I go back to his apartment and heat up frozen lemon chicken and orzo soup that his mom brought the last time she visited. We eat and watch a couple of episodes of You. I spend the rest of the afternoon studying and fielding work requests.
5:30 p.m. — I sign off from work and do a 30-minute yoga workout in the living room using the Down Dog app (I have a free annual subscription using my old student email). T.'s brother and his fiancé invite us over to their apartment for dinner. They live right around the corner so I shower and we walk over. We agree to pick up a side vegetable, drinks and dessert on the way so we stop at a grocery store and buy broccoli, a bottle of Fanta, Milk Bar cookies, Swedish Fish and Van Leeuwen ice cream bars, which I pay for ($28.85). We all hang out on the couch while T.'s brother cooks us a fabulous steak and broccoli dinner. When we're done eating, we watch the new Reese Witherspoon and Ashton Kutcher movie, Your Place or Mine, and it's kind of awful. I fall asleep on the couch mid-movie. We walk back over to T.'s apartment around midnight and head straight to bed. $28.85
Daily Total: $28.85

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — T. plays soccer in a pick-up league on Saturday mornings so he leaves at around 8:30. I let myself fall back asleep because I've realized that I am lucky to sleep in as long as I want at my age and it probably won't last forever.
11:30 a.m. — I wake up to a text from T. asking if I want a bagel. I give him my order: egg and cheese on an everything bagel. I get up, brush my teeth, wash my face and make tea. T. gets home around noon and we eat our bagels together while he tells me about soccer.
3:30 p.m. — I get a couple of hours of CFA studying in while T. watches soccer and does schoolwork. He is currently taking night classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology as part of a plan to get into the fashion industry. We get hungry and take a study break to walk to Juice Generation. T. gets an açaí bowl and I get a smoothie. I pay because T. paid for bagels this morning. We try to rotate paying for food so that it all evens out. $24.17
5:30 p.m. — I finish up studying for the day and do a 30-minute yoga workout using the Down Dog app. When I'm done, T. has an espresso martini ready for me so I sip it in between showering and getting ready. Getting ready for a night out, especially after a particularly productive Saturday, is genuinely one of my favorite things. I like it more than the going out itself, if I'm being honest. T. and I set the perfect vibe by playing reggaetón music through his Sonos speakers, drinking espresso martinis and doing fashion shows for each other while we pick out our outfits.
7:30 p.m. — Three of our friends come over to T.'s apartment and he makes us a round of cocktails (I have a mezcal margarita) before we leave to make our dinner reservation at 8:15. We walk over to the restaurant and order appetizers and a bottle of wine for the table. I get cacio e pepe as my entrée and it is delicious. We're all a little tipsy and are having really good and deep conversations about our families and mental health. It's so refreshing to be able to talk openly. I feel lucky that I have found people I can do that with. When we get the check ($418.40), I put my card down and we all agree to split it evenly five ways via Venmo. $86.40
10:30 p.m. — We don't want our night to end yet so we head back to T.'s apartment rather than going to another place to pay for drinks. T. has a couple of bottles of wine so we drink some of that. Our night ranges from helping one of my friends update his Hinge profile to discussing how we want to get into volunteering. We all end up registering online for volunteer opportunities on the Habitat for Humanity website. At around 2 we call it a night and our friends head out. T. and I go straight to bed.
Daily Total: $110.57

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — T. and I wake up and lie in bed for a while because we are both exhausted and definitely feeling hungover from all the wine we drank last night. We both scroll on our phones and share funny videos. I finally make myself get up around 10:30 to start my day. I brush my teeth, wash my face, put in my contacts and head to the kitchen to make myself tea and do all the dishes from last night. I also wash my makeup brushes that I keep at T.'s place because I try to do that weekly.
11 a.m. — The hangover is kicking in even stronger and we are feeling too lazy to go outside so T. orders us breakfast sandwiches and croissants from a local coffee shop through DoorDash, and he pays ($40). I often feel guilty about ordering delivery for a few reasons: It comes with a lot of wasteful packaging, makes me feel lazy and is an unnecessary expense. On the contrary, it is a treat that I can afford and it supports small businesses and delivery workers (I always tip well, of course). And as far as the sustainability part, well, I do everything I can in my daily life to live as sustainably as possible and request no excess packaging or utensils when I can, but I've learned that avoiding delivery isn't going to solve the climate crisis. I just eat the croissant for now because I'm not feeling up to eating the sandwich yet. We spend the rest of the morning the same way we did yesterday: T. watches soccer and does schoolwork while I do some CFA studying.
2 p.m. — I take a study break and go for a walk around the city. While I'm walking, I call my parents to catch up. We chat for about 25 minutes, then I stop at Trader Joe's to do my grocery shopping for the week. I pick up brioche buns, frozen boba drink mix, boxed mac 'n' cheese, bowtie pasta, vanilla Greek yogurt, matcha latte mix, grilled chicken strips, frozen sweet potato fries, salad dressing, dried cranberries, granola, a green juice, strawberries, cucumbers, arugula, bell peppers, a red onion and a lemon. Grocery shopping at Trader Joe's is a treat because they don't have a location near me in Brooklyn. I like shopping there because Trader Joe's is much cheaper (I would spend about double the amount at my local grocery store in Brooklyn for the same haul) and, of course, there are certain Trader Joe's treats that you just can't find anywhere else. $55.31
3 p.m. — I get back to T.'s apartment and put my groceries in his fridge for now. Then I eat my smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich from earlier and drink the green juice I got at Trader Joe's. I scroll on my phone and then get back to studying.
7 p.m. — T.'s aunt and uncle, who I have never met, are in town for a few days and invite us to dinner. T. and his brother recommend an Indian restaurant around the corner so we meet them there. We order family-style for the table, and T.'s aunt and uncle pick up the tab.
9 p.m. — I head back to T.'s apartment and pack up all of my stuff, grab my groceries and make the trek back to Brooklyn. Of course, the subway line I usually take isn't running this weekend because of track maintenance so I walk to my only other option, which is out of the way. When I get there, I find out that line isn't running either because it's on a weekend schedule. Luckily there is a different subway line that runs through that station that I can take and then transfer downtown to a different line that will get me home. Oh the joys of the MTA. It takes me a full hour to get home. I put away my groceries, wash my makeup brushes (an essential Sunday task), take a quick shower and get into bed.
Daily Total: $55.31

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Wake up, brush my teeth and wash my face, change into sweats and sign onto work in my home office (which is also my bedroom). My roommate is away on a trip until Tuesday so I have the apartment to myself. I sip tea while I check my emails, make my to-do list for the day and hop on an internal call. After that, I take a quick break to unload the dishwasher, vacuum the apartment and make my breakfast of yogurt, granola and strawberries with a banana and Babybel cheese.
2 p.m. — I knew that the calm period at work wouldn't last long. This morning is hectic and I get caught up in calls. When I finally have time to take a lunch break, I am starving. I make a salad with bowtie pasta, arugula, cucumber, red bell pepper, red onion, grilled chicken and Trader Joe's Goddess dressing. This will be my lunch for the rest of the week and now all of the ingredients are prepped. I eat at my desk while I continue to work. I usually work through lunch when I'm at home because I take other breaks throughout the day to do chores and/or self-care things. After I finish eating, I take one of these self-care breaks and do an Olaplex hair mask (luckily no video calls this afternoon). Then I paint my nails with the new OPI nail polish I got at Nordstrom Rack the other day.
3:30 p.m. — Time for my afternoon beverage! I try the brown sugar instant boba kit I bought at Trader Joe's yesterday. If you like boba, RUN, do not walk to Trader Joe's right now. It is SO good and easy to make. I also snack on pretzels throughout the afternoon.
7 p.m. — I sign off and do a 40-minute yoga workout with the Down Dog app. Then I make a veggie burger with spinach and garlic aioli on a brioche bun and a side of sweet potato fries. I eat dinner on the couch, FaceTime T. and start watching a romcom called The Clapper. At 10, I shower and blow-dry my hair. Then I scroll on my phone in bed before falling asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Wake up, brush my teeth, wash my face, change into sweats again and sign onto work. I typically go into the office on Tuesdays (my job is hybrid and we are required to go in a minimum of two days a week) but it snowed last night and I also have the sniffles so I'm staying home today (I already took a test and it's not COVID). I make myself tea, grab a Babybel cheese and a banana, and start working.
11 a.m. — I get caught up at work and finally look at the clock and realize it is 11. I haven't eaten a real breakfast yet so I go to the kitchen and make the same yogurt, granola and strawberry bowl I had yesterday. My job requires switching between multiple different client-based projects all day so I try to take small breaks in between as a palate cleanser to help me keep my focus. I scroll on my phone and then get back to work.
2:15 p.m. — Since I had a late breakfast, I'm not hungry until later than usual. I make the same salad as yesterday for lunch and another brown sugar instant boba. I work through the afternoon and snack on pretzels. I am actually feeling productive today and less stressed. I check nine things off my to-do list and feel pretty good about it.
5:45 p.m. — Finish up work and sign off. I contemplate going outside for a walk because I haven't left the house in almost 48 hours but I think about how it's cold and dark and now there's snow on the ground, too, and I decide it's just not worth it. I have plans to go into Manhattan tomorrow so I let myself revel in my laziness for today. Instead, I do a 40-minute yoga workout with the Down Dog app to move my body.
7 p.m. — I meal prep my breakfasts and lunches for the next three days (same as I have had the last two days) because I'll be staying at T.'s place. Then I make the same veggie burger dinner as last night. I eat on the couch and watch the first episode of Fleishman Is In Trouble.
9:15 p.m. — I clean up my dishes and shower. Then I pack my outfits for the next couple of days and get into bed and scroll on my phone before I fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:15 a.m. — I get up, brush my teeth, wash my face, put in my contacts, brush out my hair and throw on sweats. I grab all of the food and clothes that I packed last night and head out to make the trek over to T.'s apartment. I am heading into Manhattan during rush hour so of course the subway is packed. The crowd doesn't bother me that much in and of itself but I feel like the packed space magnifies people's lack of courtesy, which agitates me.
8:30 a.m. — I get to T.'s apartment, unpack my stuff and then make tea and sign on to work. I eat my breakfast of yogurt, granola and strawberries while I work at T.'s dining room table.
12:30 p.m. — I head to a facial appointment at Glowbar during my lunch break. I've been struggling with hormonal acne since I came off spironolactone, which magically cleared my skin but had negative effects on my sex drive and, I suspect, my anxiety as well. My aesthetician does a chemical exfoliating treatment, pore extractions, high frequency treatment, LED treatment and then a moisturizing treatment. She recommends I try the iS Clinical Active Serum that she swears cleared her skin. I know she is trying to sell me the product but I trust her and I honestly am willing to try anything that will help my skin at this point. I also decide to sign up for the monthly membership, which gets you $10 off each facial and 10% on all products. The facial comes out to $55 with the membership price and the serum is $71. I also tip. $148.09
1:30 p.m. — I get back from my facial and T. immediately tells me my skin is glowing (he knows just what to say). He went to Whole Foods for lunch while I was out and bought me an Olipop because he knows I like them — he's so sweet! I drink it and eat my pasta salad as I get back to work.
8 p.m. — It's a whirlwind of an afternoon. I have meetings and then knock out a few urgent tasks. I'm just looking up from my computer for the first time in hours and my brain is tired. I was really productive, though, and tomorrow will hopefully be a bit calmer because of everything I got done this afternoon. T. has been patiently waiting for me to sign off. He starts making dinner (aka heating up frozen chili that his mom made) while we snack on pita chips and hummus and sour candy (weird combo, I know, don't judge). Then we sit on the couch and eat while we watch a few episodes of You're The Worst.
10:30 p.m. — I take a quick shower, pack up my stuff for the office tomorrow and then get into bed. T. and I scroll on our phones and go to sleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $148.09
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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