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A Week In New York 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.

This week: a sound mixer who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Fujifilm.

Editor’s Note: This is a follow-up Money Diary. You can read the previous diary here.

Occupation: Sound mixer
Industry: TV/media
Age: 29
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $65,000
Assets: Checking account: $5,211; HYSA: $34,118; Barclays UK bank account: $460; cryptocurrency: $130; Various ETFs: $24,686; Roth IRA: $46,856; Vanguard brokerage account: $92,180.
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount: This can vary from $0 to $15,000 monthly.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,225. I live in a fifth floor walk-up, one bedroom in the East Village with views of a park (rare for Lower Manhattan).
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Utilities: $50 for gas and electric.
Renter’s Insurance: $13.92
Health Insurance: In between right now, so $0.
Spotify Duo (I split this with my boyfriend): $14.99
New York Times Digital Subscription: $4
Classpass: $51.21
Hulu: $0.99 (got that Black Friday deal!)
Mubi: $8.95
Regal Unlimited Pass: $23.99
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, almost all of my family worked in education, so it was expected. There was no question about my going to college and I felt like I was pushed into going to a private college. It cost over $250,000 for four years. I have very generous godparents who, when I was a baby, told my parents that they would cover my college education. This covered most of it — I had maybe $15,000 in student debt by my last year of college. My grandfather kindly paid that off so I graduated debt free. While I’m extremely grateful, I don’t believe in United States’ overpriced higher education system and more often than not I don’t believe many higher educations are worth their current prices, at least here in the USA.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I had very few conversations about money with my parents. The only financial advice they gave me was to invest in real estate, which they did at just the right time. They bought a couple places for $40,000-$100,000 in the ’90s that are now worth almost $1million each. My father makes his living off rentals now. As inspiring as this was growing up and even now, it’s hard to imagine I will ever be able to buy here in NYC or even back home, given the soaring real estate prices since. It puts me in a sad headspace sometimes.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was doing admin work at my middle school over the summer and I got it for spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I never really worried about money, but I did enjoy saving in my Pikachu piggy bank.
Do you worry about money now?
A little bit. The last year and a half has been really rough in my industry, with the union strikes, AI and other things affecting TV and media across all the boards, hence my stagnant income. But I know I’ll always be okay, due to my saving habits.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My godparents still pay for my cell phone and internet plan so if that counts as financially dependent I guess I still am. However, I am capable of paying for it myself. I probably would say I was more or less financially independent in my eyes at about 24. My financial safety net is my savings and my investments. I also think my family would have my back financially if I were in dire straits.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. To be completely upfront, I feel very grateful and my family’s help is a big reason I’m not financially stressed. My godparents and grandfather were kind enough to pay for my bachelor’s degree so I have no debt. My grandfather helped me pay my rent for my first two years in New York (probably $20,000-$30,000 worth) and has also given me about $40,000 in the last five years. My godparents also told me they are going to start giving me money from a trust, which is incredibly kind of them. That amounts to $20,000 a year. They are so incredibly kind and I am extremely grateful for them — they are the only reason I don’t feel as if I am just scraping by. I admit that my family is the only reason I’m as comfortable as I am now. I know a lot of people don’t like this and I totally understand why.

Day One

6:15 a.m. — Alarm wakes me up early and it’s a rainy, gloomy day out. Today is a shoot day, so I will be on set most of the day. I shuffle out of bed, trying not to wake my boyfriend, G., who slept over last night, and start making coffee which I sip as I browse Reddit before getting dressed and ready.
7:30 a.m. — Out the door and into an Uber to Park Slope. I take a lot of rides expensed by production because I don’t have a car but I need bring a lot of gear to work for my job. On the ride over, my sister lets me know she’s paid me back the money I lent her for rent last month (my sister struggles a lot with financial management). It’s a relief because with my sister, I never know if I will get it back or not. $36.31 (Expensed)
8 a.m. — Arrive on set and greet the crew I’m working with today. I’m freelance so I do different shoots every day. It’s been a while since I worked with this team (work has been slow in the film and TV industry the last couple years) and I’m happy to see some familiar faces. This week, I’m shooting a few days on a dog food commercial. Each day we’re following around a different dog and their “paw-rent” (sorry, had to). Today’s subject is a pug puppy named after a particularly delicious fruit. I chew a sandwich that the producer has kindly made to make sure we have something for breakfast (I’m vegan and on-set food isn’t always an option for me so I’m grateful to have something to eat).
9 a.m. — We set up for the first few shots and start rolling. The puppy is chowing down on his food while her owner talks about why she likes it. Pup is thrilled to be getting so much food!
10 a.m. — I get a text that the shoot day I was meant to work in two days has been cancelled. It’s a bummer, but I know there will be another soon enough. It was a documentary that I have been working on for the past few months. It’s a really good concept and the other shows I’ve done for the production company went on to do well, so I’m hoping this documentary gets picked up and gains the same traction.
11 a.m. — We shoot a testimonial interview with the pug’s owner about why she loves the dog food so much. Pug has to be put in the bedroom and is intermittently rapping angrily on the bedroom door to remind us of her presence.
12 p.m. — We continue on to various shots of pug puppy happily eating treats and running around in a top hat and bow tie. As we do this, I make some notes for what sound effects to get before we wrap (we do this because sometimes the microphone can’t get close enough to the sound effects for it to sound good because of the framing/angle of the shot — it sounds a lot better). I continue to record for reference.
2 p.m. — Break for lunch. I get a cauliflower pita with hummus and I wolf it down because I am starving!
3 p.m. — Back in and we’re filming some magic tricks with the puppy.
3:30 p.m. — I separate from the rest of the crew and set up for some foley sound (sound effects) of the dog kibble pouring into the bowl.
4:30 p.m. — I am wrapped! I pack up and head out. It’s still pouring and I hop in an Uber with my gear back to Manhattan. I am WIPED. I call G. in the Uber home and we chat logistics for a shoot he’s on tomorrow (he is also a sound mixer) and he plans to swing by mine tonight pick up an extra headset. $52.69 (Expensed)
5:30 p.m. — Finally get home after a hectic and rainy rush hour. I greet my own pup and hop in the shower.
6 p.m. — Finally in pajamas and relaxed, ahh. I heat up some tomato soup and make a grilled cheese sandwich as my dog and I listen to the giant thunderstorm outside. So cozy. I eat some Lindt chocolates from my Lindt stash (hot tip — if you’re near a Lindt store, you can get 150 Lindts in a “sharing tote” and it costs only $55).
6:30 p.m. — I read my book, Wonderful Town, which is a collection of short stories about New York city life set over the past 100 years, curated by The New Yorker editor David Remnick. Good stuff.
7:30 p.m. — I step out to walk my dog in the rain — we just walk a few blocks for her to pee as it’s still pouring.
8:30 p.m. — I put my batteries on to charge for my shoot tomorrow and watch Enough Said with James Gandolfini (his last film ever and released posthumously — so sad) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (great crossover). I enjoy it but I seem to have this ADD problem the rest of my generation has where I want to watch a movie but end up scrolling Instagram the whole time.
11:30 p.m. — I finally go to bed! Sweet dreams.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Wake up and lay in bed, pondering the meaning of life.
7 a.m. — I get out of bed, make some coffee (with the brown sugar oat creamer from Trader Joe’s — so good). G. drops by to grab a headset and then I climb back in bed and watch some Katy Bellotte on YouTube (she’s in London visiting her boyfriend’s family and I’m from London originally so this feels quite homey).
8 a.m. — I get dressed to walk my dog and we toodle around the block. I call my sister during our walk and we catch up on her newest adventures — meeting up with a potential sugar daddy she met online to pay the bills. Oh, the things our generation does to get by.
9:15 a.m. — I head out to today’s shoot with my gear. The shoot is in Manhattan and requires less gear, so I hop on the subway with my pre-paid balance.
10 a.m. — I arrive at work on the Upper West Side. Today’s shoot is for a high-end department store in New York City. We’re featuring a famous jewelry designer whose line they carry. We get to work loading in and setting up the first shot.
11 a.m. — Shoot an interview with the jewelry designer in their apartment overlooking Broadway and then walk over to Lincoln Center for some B-roll of them wearing the department store’s clothing with their jewelry.
1 p.m. — Wrapped and headed out. I hop on the subway downtown (using my pre-paid balance), excited to enjoy the rest of my free day!
1:30 p.m. — I get home and immediately make pasta with tofu and broccoli for lunch and then get to work uploading the audio from today’s shoot.
2:30 p.m. — Eat my lunch while browsing Reddit and then I send off my invoice for today.
3:30 p.m. — Finish up uploading today’s audio while looking up ways to relieve face tension. I’ve been holding so much tension in my face and I feel like my face is getting smile lines from it. It stresses me out. In reality, I think I just look sad. I end up in bed with my dog listening to lo-fi and reading some of my book.
5:30 p.m. — Getting kinda down so I decide to walk the two miles to my Classpass class in Midtown. I call G. on the way and we decide I’ll spend the night at his tonight (I’ve been having a bit of an anxious episode). I pass by the building his shoot is in, overlooking Union Square, and we wave at each other (me from the ground and him four flights up).
6:30 p.m. — I get to class feeling anxious and not ready to dance/meditate/yoga/whatever this class is going to be with a bunch of strangers. Usually I’m not anxious before these things (and in retrospect it’s because I didn’t eat enough).
7:30 p.m. — Class is amazing. It’s a mix of breathwork, intuitive dance and yoga. Thoroughly needed and helps with my anxiety so much.
8 p.m. — I hop on an uptown train to match up with G. on his way to from work. Pup is in a backpack on his back (he stopped at mine on the way out of work and picked her up). I don’t know what I did to deserve him.
9 p.m. — We arrive back at G.’s, rinse off and make tacos for dinner. I feel better just being at his apartment. He lives uptown, and his apartment feels a lot more spacious and more like a “home” than my downtown one. We listen to some Spanish music (he is Hispanic and has great taste in music) and we fall asleep soon after.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — Wake up at G.’s, we rise and make coffee while chit chatting. G. makes us some tempeh BLTs for breakfast which are delish.
10 a.m. — We are heading out to the park when the entire building starts shaking. G. thinks its a water pipe bursting (his apartment was flooded a month ago) and hurries us out. I know from experiencing an earthquake in Mexico a couple months ago (not serious, they’re very blasé about them there), that that is exactly what it is. While outside, we call some friends to confirm that they too felt the shaking and it turns out New York has experienced one of the strongest earthquakes it’s ever had.
10:30 a.m. — We head to the park (perk of being in upper Manhattan is actual space and grass!) and I play ball with the pup while G. makes a family friend phone call. She mutilates the ball and loves it.
11 a.m. — We hop on the train downtown. I stop at the bodega on my home and grab a can of Diet Coke (I plan on doing some serious spring refreshing of my apartment today and need the stamina). $1.56
12 p.m. — We arrive at my apartment and heat up some of the tofu broccoli pasta I made for our lunch. I add some vegan Field Roast sausage and avocado to spice it up.
1 p.m. — G. heads out to go rock climbing. I scroll Reddit, read about the earthquake and eat the remains of a dark chocolate bunny I have from Easter. It’s the head. I hate eating the head. As a vegan it’s conflicting to eat animal-shaped food but he tastes very good.
2 p.m. — I finish my book, Wonderful Town, on the sofa. I must be ADD because I can’t always concentrate on every detail, yet I enjoyed it anyway.
3 p.m. — I start browsing film stocks. I’ve got into film photography recently (I bought a Contax G2 earlier in the year). I end up buying several rolls of film at B&H — three rolls of Fujifilm 200, two rolls of Kodak UltraMax 400, and a roll of Kodak T-Max 400 Black and white just for fun. $53.96
3:30 p.m. — I do a 10-minute abdominal workout to get me going before I brace myself and begin my closet clean out.
5:30 — Clean out mostly done! It was pretty intense and I still have a small pile of random things I’m not sure what to do with on my living room floor but I’ll figure that out in a wee bit. I head to my bed to sit down for a sec and watch some YouTube.
6 p.m. — I’m sitting in bed chilling with the heated mattress pad, eating some more pasta and watching some Chelsea Callahan on YouTube when an aftershock from the earthquake hits! Not as severe as the one this morning but still. What the heck is happening today?
7 p.m. — Eat a mint chocolate Nugo protein bar as a snack and watch some Tess Christine on YouTube.
8 p.m. — I walk my dog around Noho and G. meets up with us and because it's a warm, nice night out, we walk around the village and Soho for a couple miles before heading home.
10 p.m. — Home. We chat, snuggle and go to bed!
Daily Total: $55.52

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Early wake-up — I’ve got the dog food commercial again today. I drink some coffee and scroll Reddit before getting dressed.
7:30 a.m. — Hop in an Uber to the Upper East Side. $33.28 (Expensed)
8 a.m. — Arrive at the location, greet the crew and paw-rent/doggo duo we’re filming today — an elderly golden Labrador and his owner! Oh, to be a dog living with a single woman in a multi-million dollar apartment by Central Park.
10 a.m. — We shoot an interview with his owner about his eating habits, why she likes the food, and so on.
11:30 a.m. — Some of the lady’s grandkids come by to shoot some B-roll with doggo and owner.
1 p.m. — We break for lunch. I got a chickpea tuna sandwich on some delicious bread from Daily Provisions. 10/10. I really appreciate these producers always making sure there is a vegan option.
2 p.m. — Producer, the director of cinematography, assistant camera, doggo, owner and I head out to shoot B-roll in Central Park. It’s a beautiful day and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. We shoot some portraits and B-roll of them walking around.
3 p.m. — We head back and set up for product shots of the food and doggo eating.
5 p.m. — Wrapped and out! I jump in an Uber and head home; G. invites me out tonight, but I’m getting up early again tomorrow so I let him know I'll see how I feel. $35.86 (Expensed)
5:30 p.m. — I get home, greet my pup and rinse off. Then make some avocado toast with a chocolate mint protein bar because I really don’t feel like cooking this second and pretty much jump straight into bed to relax.
6:30 p.m. — G. and I get into a relationship discussion. He is the sweetest person ever and offers to bring me dinner (he made Mexican) food but I told him I needed to do some things by myself — otherwise what am I good for? G. and I used to live together, then broke up and he moved out. We are trying again months later after realizing we were each other’s “one” but one of the things I need to work on is taking space for myself (I am the type of person that no matter who I’m with I need alone time sometimes) and I’ve noted we have been spending 90% of our nights together lately. I love him so much so setting that boundary has been hard, but we both want it to work in the long run so it’s important to make sure we have that boundary in place.
8 p.m. — I feel more clarity and relief than I’ve felt in a while after talking to G. and I walk my dog longer than normal tonight — we take a 30-minute walk to the East River where we play in the giant baseball field. She loves playing with a twig. We play for awhile and then loop back.
9:30 p.m. — We get home, I rinse off and hop into bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — Awake. I get up, make an iced coffee and crawl back into bed to drink it while waking up.
7:30 a.m. — I pack some fresh batteries and head out in an Uber to work. Last day of the week, woohoo! $35.99 (Expensed)
8 a.m. — Arrive at work and we are greeting by an excitable, elderly chihuahua and his owner.
10 a.m. — We shoot an interview with owner, then some B-roll of owner and chihuahua together.
12 p.m. — We step out to Riverside Park to shoot some B-roll of the chihuahua and owner frolicking among a backdrop of cherry blossoms.
1 p.m. — Lunch! I eat a delicious cauliflower shawarma with tahini.
2 p.m. — The rest of my day is pretty chill, as there isn’t much audio. The crew sets up for product shots as we pass around the chihuahua (he loves to be held but is, unfortunately, extremely gassy). We have one producer who is a saint and holds him for quite a while.
3 p.m. — The chihuahua strikes some poses in some flashy outfits (he has a whole wardrobe).
4:30 p.m. — Camera wrap! I give my SD card to the assistant camera to offload. It’s our last day shooting and there are a ton of dog foods and treats leftover. As we pack up, one of the producers gives me a bunch to bring home to my dog (so kind!). I know she’ll love them.
5 p.m. — I finish packing up, thank the producers and say bye to the team and head out. I call an Uber and relax and gaze out at the stunning weather on the entire ride home. $50.82 (Expensed)
6 p.m. — Finally get home, drop my gear, leash up my dog and head outside because it is absolutely stunning out. We walk to the local park and everyone is soaking up the sun, including my dog who finds her favorite bench and basks. I call G., who is waiting in line to pick up solar eclipse glasses (there’s a solar eclipse tomorrow!) in midtown. Unfortunately the line is crazy and he has to be at a friend’s recital soon, so our chances of finding glasses are getting smaller and smaller.
7:20 p.m. — I lay in bed contemplating if I should order dinner or not (when I get home from a long day of work the last thing I want to do is cook and clean). I cave and order Beatnic (RIP, By Chloe). $43.33
7:30 p.m. — While I’m at it, I top up my transit card balance. I try to do no-spend days and since I’m already spending today, I may as well #logic. $20
8 p.m. — Food arrives (quinoa taco burrito, peanut crunch salad and mac and “cheez”) and it’s time to throw down. I go to bed soon afterwards.
Daily Total: $63.33

Day Six

7 a.m. — I lay in bed, feeling at peace with the fact that the only thing I have to really do today is clean and watch the solar eclipse.
8:15 a.m. — I organize and clean all my microphones, mic packs and cables from the last few days and put them away.
8:45 a.m. — I take my pup for a walk through Noho. It is a beautiful sunny and warm day. I call my sister for a chat. Sugar daddy situation seems going well — he paid for a few new outfits and a sushi dinner with her friend.
9:30 a.m. — I get home and send off an invoice for the dog food commercial, brush my own doggo’s teeth and clean up around the apartment.
10:30 a.m. — I do a mobility and ab workout. Gotta stay “toned, tanned, fit, and ready” (quoting Katy Perry) — just kidding, I just like to feel good in my own body.
11:30 a.m. — Discuss the technicals with a colleague for a potential job coming up (BTS for a fashion show next week).
12 p.m. — I start a new book Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo.
12:30 p.m. — Get dressed to head down to meet G. for the eclipse. I head down with my film camera out and snap a bunch of film pics of lower Manhattan in its beautiful spring prime. I stop at REI to look at some Hokas on the way. I’ve been thinking about them for a while and I think it’s time to pull the trigger.
2 p.m. — Arrive at Battery Park City on the Hudson River overlooking the Statue of Liberty and secure a spot in the grass. I get a text that I’m booked for the fashion shoot next week. I lay out a blanket and read a little bit. G. is picking up vegan burgers and fries for a pre-eclipse picnic (I zelle him for my half). It could not be more stunning out. $23
3 p.m. — G. arrives and we chow down and catch up on the last few days of work, life, and events. He got glasses so we can watch the eclipse! It’s pretty cool, but as it turns out 90% coverage is still quite light outside. It just felt like there was a light blue tint over everything.
4 p.m. — We have to find a bathroom so we stop in a nearby mall to pee and then go explore a little bit. We find a new pier we haven’t been to before and sit on a swinging bench overlooking downtown to read our respective books in the sun for a bit. Then we stop at an abandoned soccer pitch on the same pier and kick around a soccer ball. I take some film pics of the lower Manhattan skyline from the pier and G. playing soccer (he has great legs for it, I must say).
5 p.m. — It’s getting a little cold and neither of us are dressed for it so we slowly start the couple mile trek through Tribeca, West Village and into the East Village to mine, which we don’t mind because it is absolutely stunning out.
6 p.m. — G. stops at Whole Foods on the way home to grab some ingredients for a lentil bolognese for dinner while I head home to check on pup and sit down for a sec.
7 p.m. — G. prepares dinner (he’s an incredible chef and enjoys cooking). I break my rule and zelle him for groceries (I told him I wasn’t zelle-ing him for anything under $10 anymore because I would get so particular over everything and zelle for even the tiniest thing). But he mentioned splitting the groceries and I didn’t want him to take the whole cost alone. $6
9 p.m. — Dinner is delicious. Unrelated, we watch the follow-up episode of Quiet on Set (the docu-series about Nickelodeon kids being exploited) and go into a Drake Bell conspiracy black hole before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $29

Day Seven

8 a.m. — G. and I wake up, lounge around a little.
9 a.m. — We get up, shower, start making breakfast. G. makes a lentil olive tapenade topped by a tofu filet soaked in black salt (gives the tofu an egg taste) on Dave’s Bread. I’m lucky to have a partner who is good at improvising in and out of the kitchen.
10 a.m. — We head out for a walk with the dog. I drop off the roll of film I shot yesterday to get developed at my local photo store and then we go to the park and sit on a bench for awhile and bask in the lovely weather. $19.59
12 p.m. — We drop off doggo at my apartment and head over to a café where I plan to work on a social documentary I’m working on. End up at Stuytown Café which has a stunning patio outside in what feels like a college like campus in the East Village (this is rare in Lower Manhattan). I get an oat milk cappuccino and begin work on my doc. $7.48
2 p.m. — I’m really into editing when my laptop dies prematurely and so I read a little bit of my book at the café. I then step out into the sun and call my sister for a bit. I head home shortly after.
3 p.m. — I get home, plug in my laptop, draw my blackout curtains, and continue to chug away at editing. I’m so close, just a few little tweaks and I’m done with the final cut!
5 p.m. — I wrap up the editing for the day and put on a a pumpkin butter face mask from Lush, followed by a long shower.
6 p.m. — I end up on looking at new camera straps (my current one is a little thin and uncomfortable. I end up buying one on Amazon that looks thick and comfy. $13.44
7 p.m. — I started the film How to Have Sex on Mubi ages ago when I was in Mexico and it only just recently became available in the US so I finish it. I have to admit, I wasn’t too keen on the first two thirds but the last third is quite good.
8 p.m. — I take my dog on her evening walk. Golly, it is hot today. This reminds me I want to not be in the city this summer. But boy, am I glad I’m here.
Daily Total: $40.51

The Breakdown

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