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A Week In New York, 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 production sound mixer who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on books.
Editor's Note: This is a follow-up Money Diary. You can read the original diary here.
Occupation: Production Sound Mixer
Industry: Entertainment/Media
Age: 27
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $65,000
Net Worth: $117,000 (checking/savings: $26,000, vanguard account: $57,000, Roth IRA: $30,000, ETFs: $6,500. I need to work on moving more of my cash into investments which I plan to do soon. I don't have any debt.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (varies): $1,500-$16,000 a month
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,025 (I got a pandemic deal on a tiny one-bedroom apartment. My boyfriend is moving in with me next month so it will be cut in half then.)
Utilities: $100
Renter's Insurance: $15.59
Health Insurance: $0 (I applied for Medicare Medicaid while I was unemployed during the pandemic and have been on it ever since)
Spotify Premium: $9.99
Google Storage: $2.17
New York Times Digital Subscription: $4
Phone: $0 (I've been on a family plan with my godparents since college)
Internet: $0 (I have a hotspot modem that comes with my phone plan)
Savings/Investments: $3,000 (this is my monthly goal)
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 doubt I was 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 that my grandfather kindly paid 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 current prices, at least here in the USA.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I had very few conversations about money with my parents. I knew it was tight at home and we never had much extra. The only financial advice they gave me was to invest in real estate, which they did at just the right time. They bought three places for $40,000-$100,000 in the '90s that are now worth almost $1 million 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 loved saving, but I never really worried about money.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes. Because I'm freelance, I'm never sure how consistent work will be. For example, now because of the slow winter season in media and tightening budgets, I haven't worked in three weeks and have nothing lined up. Thankfully I have an emergency fund for exactly this reason and have enough money to last a few months without work. While I enjoy the time off, I'm ready to get back to work.
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 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 $20-30,000 worth) and has also given me about $40,000 in the last five years. My godparents have also told me this year they are going to start giving me money from a trust, which is incredibly kind of them. So far I've gotten $20,000 from that trust since the spring. There's no denying 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

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and realize my boyfriend, G., and I are meeting friends soon to watch a soccer match at 10. Thankfully they live less than a mile away so we lay in bed and watch some low-budget movies on the Hallmark channel. They are so bad that they are great entertainment.
10 a.m. — We pull ourselves away from the Hallmark channel to head out. We dress our dog in her yellow rain slicker as it's raining and head over to our friends' house, bringing a bottle of vodka and some coffee creamer with us for espresso martinis (gotta start early).
10:30 a.m. — Our friends have bagels waiting for us from my favorite bagel place! I have a bagel with tofu scallion cream cheese.
3 p.m. — After the game, we head home and make a late lunch of Trader Joe's vegan beef bulgogi, rice, and peas with sriracha.
4 p.m. — G. and I decide to go for a jog to the river. After we pick up chickpeas, broccoli, and a pint of Van Leeuwen oat milk mocha latte ice cream at Key Foods. We put it on a credit card which we split payments for ($5.46 my half). $5.46
5 p.m. — At home, G. and I organize some stuff for his moving in. We set up some of his really nice speakers. We have a lengthy debate about whether the speakers look strange in my smaller apartment and decide to live with them for now.
8 p.m. — I download a new book for the coming week. It's called It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover and the first page hooks me in. $10.99
9 p.m. — G. and I intend to end the night by watching an episode of Seinfeld, but end up venting about our TV instead. A month ago we bought the a frame TV (that looks like art when it's off) and lately we've noticed clouding on the screen. We do an investigation and find the screen hasn't been glued onto the outer edges properly. We've already returned a TV from them already (our first came with cracks on the screen). We've been pretty disappointed because we really wanted to like it. We rage over the poor quality and customer service, agree to return it for something better made, and eventually fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $16.45

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Wake up, make coffee while my boyfriend continues to sleep, and read some of my new book.
10:30 a.m. — G. and I walk the dog while doing some shopping We buy some house necessities like moisturizer, dish soap, mouthwash, and some hangers. We also buy groceries at our local grocery store — naan bread, oat milk, and carrots. $46.12
12 p.m. — G. makes a late breakfast/lunch of pasta, tofu, and broccoli with homemade hummus and naan bread on the side. He is a great cook and usually makes really fantastic dishes.
4 p.m. — I meet up with an old friend who recently moved to the city at a wine bar. We manage to hit happy hour. We chat and catch up, reminiscing on our middle and high school lives and where we are now. $10.71
6 p.m. — I head home and enjoy some time to myself as G. is out with friends. I organize what I want to work on this coming week. I've been working on a documentary for the past year and a half — it's in the final edit and I'd love to get it done soon.
7 p.m. — I do a 30-minute dance workout at home. I want to improve my coordination/dance skills and get in shape.
8 p.m. — G. gets home from dinner with friends and we take the dog to the park where we play off-leash in one of the giant, deserted fields.
10 p.m. — We're home! Get dressed, hop in the heated bed (this is your sign to get a heated mattress cover!), and watch some Seinfeld to end the night.
Daily Total: $56.83

Day Three

9 a.m. — Wake up and do some browsing on Reddit while drinking coffee.
10 a.m. — G. and I go out for a walk with the dog. We take her to the park nearby to play with her off-leash. We pick up some Brussels sprouts and avocados from our fruit stand guy on the way back. G. pays with cash and I send him my share. $6
12 p.m. — Have a brunch of tempeh and bean salad and cashew mac and cheese. I'm vegan and G. went vegan when we started dating. He is amazing at cooking vegan meals. I'm so lucky to have such a caring boyfriend.
2 p.m. — We order some storage containers from IKEA for under the bed so we have more places to put G.'s stuff when he moves in. $15.16
3 p.m. — G. heads out to meet a friend and I listen to music and brace myself to reach out to our TV's customer service line… ahh procrastination.
4 p.m. — Customer service goes nowhere and I resolve to reach out again tomorrow. I begin to read articles and posts on different income streams. I think I've found something that I could enjoy working on. I'm not looking to go crazy, but with my quiet last couple of weeks without work, I could use some income stream diversification. I light a candle and spend the next couple hours doing research and planning my next moves.
7 p.m. — I get a text to work on a slightly lower-budget shoot starting tomorrow out of state (one shoot day, two travel days) in a format I've never worked on before. I'm willing to work on a lower budget shoot, but the combination of being out of state makes me decide it's not really worth my time.
8 p.m. — Go for a jog. I'm improving, but my knee hurts by the end.
9 p.m. — Eat dinner with G. (leftover mac and cheese and tempeh salad) and watch some Seinfeld with a heating pad on my knee. We fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $21.16

Day Four

4:30 a.m. — For whatever reason, I wake up super early and starving. Scroll on Facebook and then get up to make some avocado toast.
5:30 a.m. — Watch Mai Pham's NYC apartment tour (insane!) on YouTube while munching avocado toast and contemplate making coffee, but decide to wait for G. Do some light stretching.
7 a.m. — My boyfriend wakes up and we…you know. We start in the bedroom and end up in the shower.
8 a.m. — We make coffee and sit and talk while trying to decide what film to see tonight! We book tickets to The Fablemens. $8.80
9 a.m. — We walk the dog to Trader Joe's and I wait outside with her while G. picks up groceries. $25.89
11 a.m. — At home, we unpack groceries and begin making chili for lunch. It's rainy out so perfect weather for it.
2 p.m. — G. and I head out to a local bookstore. I end up picking out two books for me (Emily Ratajowski's My Body and The Colossus of New York). I love bookstores. I tell G. if he picks a book out I'll buy it for him and so he picks one out too. It's a little pricey for three books but worth it to support such a great local business. $57.74
3 p.m. — We wander over to a plant and vintage store that's having a closing sale and is usually super expensive. It's still expensive and all the plants have been wiped out so there are just a few overpriced pieces of clothing ($1,700 for a secondhand jacket). We continue to walk down to work a volunteering shift bringing leftover food from a restaurant to a shelter.
4 p.m. — We get there and I find out volunteering is canceled. It's raining so we head home on the bus ($2.75, but I already have some money loaded on my Cash App so it cost me nothing).
5 p.m. — Get home and have a quick dinner of leftover chili and bread while watching Seinfeld before we go see The Fabelmans.
9 p.m. — Overall, great film! It was long but good. We get home and spend the rest of the night trying to find the main actor from The Fabelemans in Shrek The Musical on Netflix.
Daily Total: $92.43

Day Five

9 a.m. — Wake up, feed the dog, and chat with G.
10 a.m. — G. and I take the dog for a walk. Another rainy, gloomy day!
11 a.m. — We make tofu scramble and avocado toast for breakfast while making plans with a friend later.
12 p.m. — We hang up some art we've been meaning to put up and buy some hooks and bath towels. $17.34
1 p.m. — I do a core workout while my boyfriend goes to the gym and picks up some groceries for dinner at Whole Foods. $25
5 p.m. — G. and I meet our friend, K., at a bar nearby for hot toddies. The toddy is 10/10. $13
7 p.m. — G. has made homemade pho with tofu for dinner and it is incredible. Especially in this cold weather. We eat it while watching Emily The Criminal on Netflix (awesome film). We go to sleep after we're done with the movie.
Daily Total: $55.34

Day Six

10 a.m. — G. and I wake up, make some coffee, and chat.
11 a.m. — We take the dog for an excursion to a handball court where we play ball with her. We stop at a knish bakery and grab a couple of hot potato knishes for breakfast. $5.25
12 p.m. — We chow down on our hot knishes and hang out for a bit before deciding to go to the King Pleasure Jean-Michel Basquiat art exhibit, which we've been meaning to go to for ages.
1 p.m. — We take the subway up to the exhibit ($2.75) and get our tickets ($36.84). $39.59
3 p.m. — The exhibit is cool! It only takes about an hour and 20 minutes to walk through the entire thing and we read literally everything. It makes me a little sad that exhibits like this are so expensive — G. and I got the cheapest adult tickets possible and it was still almost $40 each (on weekends it's $45 + tax and $65 for skip-the-line). I wish this type of exhibit were more accessible to everyone.
4 p.m. — We come out of the exhibit hungry and get a late lunch at Veggie Grill. I get the southwest chicken sandwich with fries and G. gets a buffalo chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli — it is perfect. $17.30
5 p.m. — We walk home and stop at Aritzia to marvel at all their cute winter clothing. If I had extra money to spend on clothes right now it would 100% be there. We stop at Starbucks and use a gift card to share a caramel mocha with soy milk and boy, it hits the spot.
6 p.m. — We clean up at home and chill out. We make some linguine with Brussels sprouts, pan-seared tofu, and vegan parmesan for dinner.
7 p.m. — We watch a couple of episodes of Season two of The Vow while chowing down on pasta. So good!
9 p.m. — G. gets ready to go meet some friends for drinks — I don't come this time as I've spent enough today. I walk him over to the bar with the dog nonetheless.
1 a.m. — I stay up way too late and finish my book, It Ends With Us. I text G. and ask if he can pick up chocolate at the bodega on his way home — he comes back with UnReal coconut chocolate bars and vegan chocolate waffle cones. We chow down and fall asleep around 2 a.m. $7.28
Daily Total: $69.42

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Wake up way too late once again. Snack on a few chocolate coconut bars while making coffee and chatting to G.
11 a.m. — We put together a nightstand we got for G.'s side of the bed. It looks so cute and now he has somewhere to put his things!
12 p.m. — We walk the dog to the park. It's beautifully sunny out and we want to get bagels for breakfast. The line is absolutely insane so we abort mission and head to our fruit guy to get bananas, apples, avocados, and asparagus for avocado toast and fruit at home. $5
1 p.m. — We eat our avocado toast and fruit happily and agree it was a solid choice.
2 p.m. — G. and I decide to do our seasonal trip to Fifth Avenue. We head up ($2.75 on the subway) and it is absolutely swamped with people. We take refuge from the cold and the people inside a Barnes & Noble and mess around in the Romance section. After we soak in the Saks' windows and walk through Rockefeller Plaza, we head home, stopping at Whole Foods to grab some groceries for dinner on the way ($10). I remember to use cash on my Cash App for the subway ride home. $12.75
5 p.m. — G. makes guac and we snack on chips and guac while talking. We start watching The Vow.
7 p.m. — G. begins rubbing my shoulders and I fall asleep very abruptly mid-episode.
10 p.m. — Wake up at 10 and G. and I chow down on some chili and rice he heated up and chat a bit before falling asleep again around midnight.
Daily Total: $17.75
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