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A Week In New York, NY, On A $270,000 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.
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Today: a software engineer who makes $270,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Broadway tickets.
Occupation: Software Engineer
Industry: Tech
Age: 24
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $270,000
Net Worth: $282,500 ($10,000 in checking, $10,000 in HYSA, $20,000 in I-bonds, $25,000 in taxable brokerage, $100,000 in treasury bills, $95,000 in my 401(k), $10,000 in my HSA, $12,500 in Roth IRA).
Debt: $0 (I pay my credit cards off in full every month).
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,346 (after tax/deductions).
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,300 for my share of a one-bed that I share with my boyfriend. We have separate finances otherwise.
Cell phone: $25
Internet: $35
Utilities: $65
Subscriptions: I get these for free either through my credit card or my internet package.
Commuter Benefits: $80 (pre-tax).

Annual Expenses
Renters Insurance: $120
Amex Platinum: $695
401(k): $22,500 (I front-load it every year using my bonus and my first few months of paychecks. This year, I also started contributing to an after-tax 401(k). I basically live off savings for part of the year while I max out my retirement accounts).
HSA: $3,850 (I also front-load it using my first few paychecks).
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, my parents wanted me to get the best education possible. They're both college grads and I knew no other option than going to college. I worked very hard from middle school to high school and got into a top private university where I received a great financial aid package that covered tuition. My parents generously covered room and board. I ended up finishing a combined bachelor/master's program in four years by using my AP credits and overloading on credits every semester. It was hard work but it was definitely worth it because now I don't have to go back to school for another degree.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My grandpa traded stocks as a hobby so I grew up watching him and I learned about investing from him. Growing up, my parents didn't teach me much about finance other than we need to save more than we spend. They did help me open my first bank account and taught me about credit cards. It wasn't until I was in college that my dad started to talk to me about saving for retirement. Due to my grandpa's influence, I had a strong interest in personal finance from a young age so I learned a lot by myself.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was doing research over the summer in high school. It came with a small stipend and I got it because I wanted to see what research was like.
Did you worry about money growing up?
We didn't have much when I was young. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad made between $40-50,000 in an MCOL area so we were stressed for a while. There were years when we couldn't afford to buy toys and eating out meant getting something from the dollar menu at McDonald's. My parents tried their best to shield me from their stress but I could still feel it. Fortunately, my dad found a higher-paying job by the time I was in middle school and his salary steadily increased over the years so we haven't worried about money since. The period of my life when money was an issue has definitely shaped how I view money and taught me the importance of it.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I worry about tech layoffs and the state of my field in general. I want to reach FIRE (financial independence, retire early) so I'm mindful of how much I spend. I also want to be able to support my parents after they retire since they supported me so much growing up.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I started paying for my own food/fun expenses in college but didn't become completely financially responsible for myself until I moved out at age 23. Due to COVID, I lived with my parents for a year after college and was able to save a lot so I have an emergency fund.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

10 a.m. — I wake up and pull my phone out to check my work emails and messages. After about 10-20 minutes of this, I roll out of bed and head to the bathroom to do my morning routine. I'm working from home today so I put on a pair of soft pajama pants and a T-shirt. Then I basically work nonstop. Today's work consists of me coding, which is typical for a non-meeting-heavy day.
12:30 p.m. — I start getting hungry but don't feel like making a full meal so I eat some leftover Krispy Kreme. A few days ago my boyfriend bought me some doughnuts as a surprise. It was really sweet because he ran over to the store on his lunch break and had to literally sprint back to make it to a meeting on time. I have a doughnut with a rainbow on and it tastes great!
6 p.m. — The rest of my day is coding and attending meetings. I get off work and decide that I want to go on a walk since the weather's really nice. It's been freezing cold for a few days and now suddenly it feels like spring is here. I rope my boyfriend, Q., into walking with me after he's done with work. He works longer hours than me so I get dressed as he finishes up work.
7:15 p.m. — We walk by a popular pizza place and notice that the line is fairly short. We decide to get pizza for dinner since neither of us has tried this place before. I get a slice of pepperoni and a slice of spinach. Q. gets pepperoni and mozzarella and he kindly pays. I would rate the pizza as pretty average. The pepperoni is a 5/10 but I'd give it a 7/10 after sprinkling on some red pepper flakes. The white slice with spinach is surprisingly good! I'd rate it an 8/10.
7:50 p.m. — We then walk to K-Town. I want to go to this super affordable place where they sell pre-packaged dishes. After you pay, you can heat up food with a microwave and eat in their dining section. The food is delicious and the portions are perfect. We get kimbap and two different sticky rice cake dishes since they are both 50% off. $13.23
8:20 p.m. — We drop by H Mart and grab some random groceries such as premade fried fish cakes, lychee jelly and sliced pork belly. $50.69
9 p.m. — We walk by a McDonald's on the way home and Q. buys a milkshake. I have a few sips. Nice and refreshing!
10:30 p.m. — We get home and spend the rest of the night watching You before falling asleep around 1 a.m. I've been trying to go to bed earlier but the show is just too good!
Daily Total: $63.92

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and check my work emails. I usually would go into the office today but I'm tired so I decide to work from home. I'm lucky that the company I work for has a flexible WFH policy so all I have to do is message my manager that I'll be home for the day.
12:30 p.m. — Not a super exciting day so far, just being very productive at work. For lunch I heat up some of the fish cake I bought last night. I notice that the stock market has been doing well lately so I'm pretty happy I bought some index funds two weeks ago while they were low. I get a text from my dad reminding me to buy Treasury Bills so I do so. I don't consider this part of my weekly spending since this is just reallocating funds. I spend a lot of my downtime learning about personal finance and investing. I'm passionate about FIRE and saving as much as I can while enjoying what NYC has to offer.
5:45 p.m. — Q. is home from work. I feel like a puppy, I always get so excited when he comes home. I swear if I had a tail, it'd be wagging so fast it'd be a blur. I get off work so I can spend some time with him. He still has some tasks to finish so I sit next to him on the couch while he works and tell him about my day.
7:40 p.m. — I watched a video earlier on how Panda Express expanded so I've been craving it all day. Q. and I decide to walk to the closest one and get takeout. I choose a plate with lo mein, veggies, kung pao chicken and of course their famous orange chicken. Q. generously pays for dinner today. We don't usually eat out this many times a week but the weather is so nice that we just want to treat ourselves.
8 p.m. — We bring dinner back home and eat it while watching You. I can't believe I didn't watch this show before. It's sooo good and I'm really liking Joe despite him technically being the villain.
9:10 p.m. — After dinner, Q. and I take a walk around our neighborhood, checking out restaurants that we haven't been to yet and just enjoying our night. On the way back home, we drop by a bakery for cookies that he's been craving, he pays. After we get home, we eat the cookies while watching You. We're on the last few episodes of season 2 and just want to binge-watch it all. However, real-life responsibilities cause us to stop at 1:30 a.m. and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up to Q.'s alarm and start checking my emails. I might as well start working since I'm already up.
10:30 a.m. — I have multiple meetings today so I head to the office to attend them in person. I find that it's a lot easier to discuss things with coworkers in person than via video chat. I take the subway to work. $2.75
12:30 p.m. — My coworkers and I get out of a meeting and we get lunch together. I'm quite stressed out today because I have multiple back-to-back meetings with only 30 free minutes for lunch. I grab a bowl of soba noodles from the cafeteria. I'm lucky that lunch from the office is free.
2:30 p.m. — Finally done with all my meetings for the day! When I started working as a software engineer, I was shocked by the amount of meetings I had. I'm more used to it now and I get pulled into more meetings the higher up the ladder I climb. It's not too bad because I'm a people person and usually enjoy meetings but today I am exhausted.
3 p.m. — My coworker asks if I want to go on a beverage run with him and I agree. We drop by the closest café in the office and see that the line is way too long. We get premade carrot juice instead and I also grab an orange on my way back to my desk.
5 p.m. — I end my day with code reviews and then head home. The weather is nice but I take the subway back because I am exhausted. I walk by Keith from the Try Guys on my way home! He is filming something so I don't want to disturb him and ask for a picture. $2.75
6 p.m. — I can't stop thinking about Keith and decide that I want to see his band, Lewberger, while they're in NYC. I try getting tickets from the theater but find that they're completely sold out this weekend. I scour resale groups and find someone selling two tickets for $80. $80
6:30 p.m. — Q. and I go out for a walk because the weather's nice. We head downtown and walk through a neighborhood I used to live in. We end up having dinner at a Sichuan restaurant that I used to frequent. We order noodles with minced pork and braised beef. The portions are very large for the price and we leave with happy, full tummies. $40.64
9 p.m. — We drop by CVS on our way home because I have a 40% off coupon. We spend some time wandering the aisles and end up buying a box of Lindt pralines. $10.11
9:10 p.m. — After we get home, we end the night by watching You.
Daily Total: $136.25

Day Four

11 a.m. — I snooze my alarm a bit too much and end up waking up late. I hurry to get ready for work and head to the office by subway. $2.75
1 p.m. — I've been working nonstop all day so I drop by the office cafeteria for some noodles and shrimp. When I started working here, I was overwhelmed by the free food and would eat multiple plates. Now I'm more used to it and am more mindful. Every day I feel very lucky to be at such a good company.
2:30 p.m. — I'm getting tired from not getting enough sleep throughout the week so my coworker and I go on a caffeine run. I usually don't drink tea or coffee but today I get an iced latte as a little wake-me-up. We get it from the office café so it's free.
5 p.m. — Time to head home. I walk home today because the weather is nice and I spent all day trying to fix a bug so I need some fresh air to clear my head. I take a quick detour to get Broadway tickets for next week as a surprise for my boyfriend. This isn't a typical spend because I normally see shows through lotteries but I really wanted good views for this show so I splurge on two center orchestra seats for $358. $358
6 p.m. — I get home and Q. has arrived first! I usually get home before him so it's nice to be the one being greeted. He has some more work to finish up so I work on connecting the new AirTags that I got last week. I'm super forgetful so these will help me stop forgetting my keys.
8 p.m. — Q. is finished with work and decides to cook tonight. We recently bought an instant pot and he's fallen in love with it. I'd say I enjoy cooking but am not very good because I tend to eat at the office or get takeout. I've been cooking a lot more since I moved in with Q. because I want to spend quality time with him.
9:30 p.m. — Dinnertime! We have steak and pasta with onion sauce. After we eat, we finish the night with You.
Daily Total: $360.75

Day Five

7 a.m. — Q. has to get up extra early for a dentist appointment and unfortunately it wakes me up too. I try to go to sleep for a bit but end up scrolling on Reddit for 30 minutes before getting out of bed. I spin the wheel on the Gopuff app and win a pepperoni pizza! Looks like we're having that for dinner tonight. I'll probably make some veggies too so we can pretend that we're eating healthy.
10 a.m. — Today's a work-from-home day and I also have a telehealth session with my therapist. I didn't start therapy until late last year and I find that I really enjoy it. It's nice to have a sounding board for my emotions and she really helps me process relationship problems. Therapy is fully covered by insurance.
1 p.m. — I work nonstop after my therapy appointment and now I am hungry. I heat up the rest of the Korean fish cakes from H Mart for lunch. Q. joins me for lunch and has the leftovers from last night.
3 p.m. — I'm traveling soon and I want to be fully vaccinated so I go to CVS for my second COVID booster shot. I've been feeling nervous all day and am excited to finally get it out of the way. It is surprisingly quick and only takes 20 minutes. I buy a pack of Oreos and a pack of Cup Noodles on my way out. $6.68
6 p.m. — I make a Gopuff order so I can get that free pizza. To make the minimum spend, I also buy a pack of water and some snacks with a nice tip for the driver for a total of $25.19. Since I'm in a shopping mood, I also get a present for my boyfriend. I think gift-giving is one of his love languages since he's been giving me a bunch of gifts. I buy us matching sneakers and a pair of track pants for $113.40. $138.59
7 p.m. — The Gopuff pizza arrives. It's cold by now so we heat it in the microwave and then scarf it down. It is actually pretty good! Since we haven't had veggies in a few days, I also stir-fry some broccoli. We spend the rest of the night finishing season 3 of You. Wow, what a finale. We can't wait to start season 4 soon.
Daily Total: $145.27

Day Six

12 p.m. — It's a weekend so we sleep in. We finally crawl out of bed and start the day. We decide that today is laundry day so we start sorting everything. We're lucky that our building has a laundry room so it's very convenient. Before moving here, Q. had to carry his laundry three blocks and one avenue so he's very grateful that that's a thing of the past. We pay for the washers with our prepaid laundry card.
1 p.m. — We move the washed laundry into the dryers. I also add $30 to our laundry card. After starting the dry cycle, we head to McDonald's because we both want to try the new McCrispy. Q. pays for lunch. $30
4 p.m. — We spend most of the day putting away laundry and doing other chores like watering my plants. I finally get a chance to rest and turn on Love is Blind. The weather is bad today so it's a nice day for chores and TV.
5:30 p.m. — I do some shopping on my phone and buy a pack of four AirTag holders on Amazon. $10.44
7 p.m. — I start cooking dinner. Today I make stir-fried baby cauliflower and air-fried shrimp and crab cakes. The cauliflower tastes delicious. I think I finally have the recipe down: 1) chop up a scallion and keep the white parts and green parts separate, 2) sauté the white parts in some oil, 3) add the cauliflower, 4) add the green parts, 5) add salt and red pepper flakes, 6) sauté until the cauliflower is slightly charred. We watch TV while eating dinner.
12 a.m. — I watch Love is Blind while Q. works and then we're off to bed!
Daily Total: $40.44

Day Seven

12:30 p.m. — Q. and I finally get out of bed. We're super tired today but have lots to do. We first head out to see the Macy's Flower Show. It is pretty but I was expecting more.
2 p.m. — After walking around Macy's we grab lunch at a halal food truck. The chicken over rice is $12. The food is good and we feed a few grains of rice to some cute birds. $12
2:50 p.m. — It's a super sunny day so we hold hands and walk around town. Walking around with a significant other is so much better than walking around by myself. It's these small moments that make me really appreciate what I have. Before going home, we drop by CVS and buy some chocolates. $13.67
3:30 p.m. — My packages arrived! One of them is the track pants I got for Q. so I sneak downstairs to get it from the lobby while he's in the bathroom. When I get back, I tell him not to come out yet and then I sprint to the bedroom to wrap the present.
5:15 p.m. — We spend an hour cleaning the apartment and we're both out of energy so we order some dumplings and noodles. I have a 40% off coupon on Uber Eats so it ends up cheaper than it would've been to buy it in person, even when accounting for the delivery tip. The total is $32.49. An hour later, we don't have our food and it's still saying severely delayed so we cancel it and I get my money back.
6:30 p.m. — We head over to Theatre Row to see the Lewberger in Concert show. I thought I got tickets for the musical but I actually got tickets for the concert so it is a surprise to me but I still really enjoy it. During intermission I debate whether I should buy a sweatshirt but it is $60 so I pass on it and spend $5 on stickers instead. I like having a little memento of each show I go to. $5
10 p.m. — We get home and order delivery. Uber Eats gave me a $5 credit for the last order being delayed so I use it up. Q. orders beef noodles and I get beef mao cai. Never had it before and it is savory and pretty filling! $31.59
Daily Total: $62.26
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