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A Week Unemployed In Brooklyn, NY

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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: an unemployed media worker spends some of her money on matcha.
Occupation: Unemployed
Industry: Media
Age: 34
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $0
Net Worth: ~$4,000 ($11,625.99 in checking and savings; $37,045.80 in my 401(k) minus debt).
Debt: $3,769.09 in credit card debt; $40,880 in student loan debt.
Paycheck Amount: $0
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,550 in rent for a one-bedroom. I got the last of the COVID deals in New York and my rent is going up for the first time in two years next month by $150.
Student Loans: My private loans are in forbearance and I've only paid quarterly interest, $480 for the past three months. Previously they were $428 a month. I also have federal loans (previously $188/month) that are currently paused.
Peloton: $0 because I signed up for a complimentary year through my old health insurance, which hasn't expired.
Electric: $40
Gas: $20
Internet: $56
Cell Phone: on my parents' plan.
Streaming Services: $17 (between my family we have most services and we all share passwords. I joined my friend's Spotify when I lost my job).
New York Times Cooking Subscription: $5.44
Renter's Insurance: $10.41
Personal Website: $25
Hinge: $38
iCloud Storage: $2.99
Medicaid: $0
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, my mom is an immigrant who was the first in her family to attend college. She worked several jobs and sacrificed everything to put my siblings and me in private school for most of our lives. We received scholarships to attend those schools but she still had to pay small annual fees. Since I went to a private prep high school, the expectation was that everyone would go to college. I went to a state school and received a Pell Grant but mostly paid for college with student loans. My mom helps me with my student loan payments. My parents are divorced and my dad did not go to college and did not think it was important, so he has not contributed to helping me pay for it all.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents did not shelter my siblings and me from their money troubles; they talked about their situation very openly and constantly. Both of my parents are the children of immigrants and grew up in poverty. My mom's parents eventually bought their own home and were able to live a modest life. My dad's parents never got out of poverty, live in a rent-stabilized apartment, only have enough to cover the basics and receive government assistance. My dad always worked blue-collar jobs and even though my mom is college-educated and had white-collar jobs, being a single parent made it hard for her to ever be financially stable. When my parents got divorced, we barely had money for anything extra, but my mom did her best to give us a good life even when she was living paycheck to paycheck. We went out to dinner occasionally and for special occasions, and went on affordable local vacations every now and then. I remember it was always an issue when wanting to do activities with friends that cost money. My parents did not educate me about finances. I had to figure out everything on my own and learn from watching their mistakes.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first consistent job was babysitting for my sibling's best friend's family. It helped me pay for going out on the weekends in high school and buying whatever else I wanted that my parents couldn't get me.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I was very aware of the fact that my family was poor and worried about money often. I always knew we couldn't do something because money was short or if bills were late. I had to fill out my own FAFSA for college.
Do you worry about money now?
I worry about money a lot, especially since I was laid off four months ago. This is the longest I've been unemployed since I first graduated college. Luckily, I received two months of severance pay. My industry isn't looking great and I wonder if I'll ever be able to make enough money to start and support a family.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself when I moved out of my mom's house at the age of 23. I do not have a financial safety net beyond my own savings.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents have been helping me out as much as they can since I got laid off but it's not something that I want to rely on. I have not asked them for money (aside from for necessities) probably since I started college and it is extremely difficult for me to accept it when they offer. My mom has graciously given me between $300-$500 a month since I lost my job to make sure I don't have to sacrifice too much of my lifestyle during this time and can stay in therapy. She won't be able to continue doing so for much longer since she helps my siblings and me with student loan payments. My dad has thrown me a couple of hundred dollars sporadically, too.

Day One

8 a.m. — I hosted a party with a friend last night at our neighborhood bar and was out late. I only had two drinks and I'm definitely feeling it. I need more rest and try falling back asleep but it isn't happening. At this age, after having even the slightest bit of alcohol, it's impossible for me to sleep in.
9:30 a.m. — Apple cider vinegar in water helps get things going for me in the morning. I sip on that while I write a page in my journal. I've been journaling consistently for the past couple of years and find it really useful to process my thoughts. It's fascinating to look back on entries, make sense of past situations and see how you've grown.
12 p.m. — A friend calls me and we debrief about last night while she walks her dog. I defrost a slice of sourdough bread that I made a few weeks ago, toast it up and fry an egg for avocado toast. I throw in an ibuprofen with my morning stack of vitamins and supplements. Wordle time.
1 p.m. — Walk to pick up a veggie burrito and chips from a neighborhood restaurant that had a $5 off coupon on Seamless, score. Maybe this will cure me? Listen to a daily news podcast and a comedy podcast on the way. Stop in a deli to get a Diet Coke. I eat my lunch while watching a tarot horoscope video. I take my lunchtime supplements with some Trader Joe's dried mango. $14
2:30 p.m. — Get an email from a job I applied to that says they aren't moving forward with my application. The constant rejection from this process is very exhausting and demoralizing but I don't really have the option to stop trying. I respond to some dating app messages. I've been single for the past couple of years and dating with a very open mind. I've made meaningful connections and I've learned a lot about myself. I take a nap on the couch.
3:30 p.m. — Walk over to a Black-owned coffee shop nearby. I try to work out of a café at least once a week to get a break from my apartment and a change of scenery. I live alone and I figure being around people is probably good for me. Text with an ex, B., for a little bit to catch up. We had an amicable mutual breakup after living together for three years. He lives in a different city now and we do a good job of keeping in touch pretty regularly. Order a turmeric latte and bang out a few job applications. Feeling accomplished enough after applying to three jobs and reaching out to a few professional contacts. $7
6 p.m. — TGIF. I can finally relax for the rest of the night, guilt-free. It's Friday but I still feel depleted. I need to recharge mentally and physically and am excited to stay in. Turn on a hot shower and use an exfoliating peppermint body scrub that has a cooling effect that always leaves me feeling refreshed. Sit down in the tub for a minute until the water starts getting cold. Change into PJs. My mom calls me to dish on the latest family drama. I buy tickets to see the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden with my family in a couple of weeks to celebrate my birthday. I end up getting one community ticket for people experiencing financial hardship since I'm unemployed, and I justify the total cost knowing my mom will probably get lunch that day. $45
7:30 p.m. — I'm still full from the burrito but I should get some nutrients in so make a smoothie with frozen mixed berries, banana, spinach, hemp protein powder and cacao powder. Have another cookie and take a bite out of a pastry. Binge-watch the new episodes of Love is Blind and drink a glass of water with Calm in it.
11 p.m. — Do my nighttime skincare routine of Mad Hippie vitamin C oil and The Ordinary retinol. Get in bed and roll some lavender essential oil on my neck while listening to a guided meditation.
Daily Total: $66

Day Two

9 a.m. — I feel much more rested. Make a smoothie again and green tea, and have them with the leftover pastries while I watch YouTube. Take my supplements and vitamins. Do the New York Times crossword mini and play Wordle. Then I look at my accounts to reassess my budget. Using a spending app and breaking down my monthly and annual budgets has really helped me see where my money is going over the years. It's been a lot harder for me to save money since living alone but I'm hoping I can land a new job that helps me pad up my emergency fund again and live a little more comfortably.
9:30 a.m. — I order a new can of organic matcha powder. It lasts me a few months and is much cheaper than buying out, especially when matcha lattes at coffee shops usually aren't good. $35
1 p.m. — I went to a wedding last week but I missed the window to contribute to the honeymoon fund online. I write a card and insert a check. Gift-giving is not my love language and I really struggle to put a monetary value on friendships, but it is what it is. Toss some leftover whole wheat pasta in Trader Joe's kale and cashew pesto and throw a couple of fried eggs on top for lunch. $150
1:30 p.m. — I probably don't need a siesta but since I'm going out tonight and it's the weekend, I indulge and set my timer for 30 minutes.
2 p.m. — Turn on a comedy podcast and walk over to a gift shop nearby to find a birthday card for my friend who is hosting a karaoke party tonight. I snag a free copy of an André Aciman book off of someone's stoop. I love it when that happens. $6
3 p.m. — Back at home, I listen to an episode of Audie Cornish's podcast while tidying up my apartment. Some dishes have accumulated from yesterday. Keeping up with chores when you live alone is a constant battle but I find that the sacrifices, financially and socially, are worth the privacy and peace at this moment in time. Grab another mango slice.
4 p.m. — Take a driving lesson that I already paid for. I love using public transportation and biking but I'm entertaining leaving New York and working on getting my license to broaden my options. My instructor said I did a great job today and it puts some pep in my step.
5 p.m. — Turn on a 45-minute Peloton barre class since I didn't get much strength training in this week. Tack on a five-minute cool-down stretch video. The non-biking videos should really get more praise, I'm a huge fan.
6 p.m. — Put on a fun playlist in the bathroom because it's going to be a long shower. I straightened my hair this week and need to leave my leave-in conditioner in for longer to try and give my curls extra TLC.
6:30 p.m. — Respond to a dating app message but not too excited about this guy. Lie on the couch and read my book, Esther Perel's The State of Affairs.
7 p.m. — Get dressed for the party and make a quick dinner. Tuna salad wrapped in seaweed with a side of almost-stale baby carrots that I'm forcing myself to eat before they go bad. It's the ultimate "tell me you live alone without telling me you live alone" meal.
8 p.m. — Hop on the bus to the karaoke bar. $2.75
9 p.m. — Sing some early aughts pop songs and unexpectedly network with guests at the party who are in the same industry. I'm extremely grateful for people's random acts of kindness. I learn about a couple of job openings that I plan to follow up on. We have a private karaoke room and it's BYOB. I don't have to pay for drinks or snacks, just the price of the room. I eat too many sweet potato chips and have a cup of natural wine. $30
11:30 p.m. — Wait forever for the bus back. Once I'm home I do my nighttime skincare routine of Mad Hippie vitamin C oil and The Ordinary retinol, drink some Calm water, roll on some essential oil and do a guided meditation. $2.75
3 a.m. — Wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and don't want to risk not being able to fall back asleep so I take a couple of CBD tincture sprays.
Daily Total: $226.50

Day Three

9 a.m. — I stay in bed for a little longer before meditating, it's too cozy. Walk over to the laundromat a block away and start a load. Apple cider vinegar water and journal.
11 a.m. — Late breakfast is a leftover pastry from the party a few days ago with black tea and soy milk and a berry spinach protein smoothie while reading a magazine article. Dip a bite of cookie into my tea and chug my supplements and vitamins. Play Wordle and do the New York Times crossword mini. Have to make one more trip to the laundromat due to a malfunctioning dryer. $8
1 p.m. — Make a pros and cons list for the jobs I'm interviewing for. I don't want to get too ahead of myself but I've applied to over 100 jobs and haven't gotten a single offer so a girl can dream. I haven't been able to plan meal prep for the week in a while because I haven't had the capacity but I love cooking and find it very grounding. Browse recipes and make a grocery shopping list. Order a can of Harney & Sons loose-leaf green tea. $7
2 p.m. — Put on an episode of the Hidden Brain podcast. Walk to Whole Foods to pick up groceries and get my steps in for the day. Feeling a little bloated from all the pastries, walking should help. Bump into an ex, K. We ended things a couple of months ago after he left New York indefinitely and then decided to rekindle a past relationship. We haven't spoken since our final breakup conversation and we rehash some things. It's a bit awkward and bittersweet since I didn't know he was back in town and the ex he left me for is still in the picture. It's nice to catch up while walking around Brooklyn. I guess this is the most closure I'm going to get but somehow, after we depart, I wish I had said more.
5 p.m. — The conversation completely derails my afternoon but I finally make it to buy groceries. I grab seltzer, tofu, lime, mango, mouthwash, frozen berries, broccoli, curry paste, onion, coconut milk and a can of tuna. Use my mom's Amazon Prime and save $0.80 on the total. $34.34
5:30 p.m. — After accidentally walking nine miles today, I opt to take the bus back home. I call a friend to process the K. run-in. $2.75
7 p.m. — Call my dad back and get started on cooking a coconut tofu veggie curry and brown rice. I didn't eat lunch and realize I'm hungry. Snack on a rice cake and peanut butter.
8 p.m. — Take a break from cooking to polish off the last of the pasta with vegan pesto, fried eggs and a side of baby carrots. Finish the cookies and take my supplements. Throw in another probiotic, even though I usually only take one in the morning, but I think it could help my stomach. Jump on the phone with another friend to fill her in on my afternoon. Drink Calm water and respond to a couple of dating app messages. I shower, then burn a cedar stick to try and rid my apartment of today's weird energy.
12 a.m. — Skincare and in bed with lavender essential oil and guided meditation.
Daily Total: $52.09

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Linger in bed a little longer, not ready for this day. Had trouble falling asleep last night and tossed and turned throughout the night. Meditate, apple cider vinegar water, journal.
9:30 a.m. — Back to regularly scheduled breakfast programming. Heat up leftover oatmeal and add cinnamon, ground flaxseeds, banana walnuts and peanut butter. Drink Lipton black tea and soy milk. Really hope the green tea arrives soon. Submit unemployment claim online. Get my Wordle in.
11 a.m. — Turn on daily news podcasts and walk to the bank to deposit cash. My checking account is at risk of being overdrawn, not because I don't have the funds but because I have multiple accounts and moved some money around to avoid fees, etc. I have lunch in the fridge but let myself be spontaneous and pick up a channa double and aloo pie from a roti shop on the way back up to my apartment for lunch. $5
11:30 a.m. — Prep for an interview I have this afternoon. The channa double and aloo pie hit the spot, they're the perfect combination of sweet and savory. I'm glad I tried the pie but I wasn't crazy about the mashed potato. Fresh mango for dessert and I take my supplements. The interview goes pretty well. I'm not completely sure how I feel about the role though, I need to gather more information about the company culture.
3 p.m. — The weather is beautiful today and my friend, V., who lives nearby invites me to run an errand with him. I join him for a walk and he gets a slice of pizza. I should really be productive but since I live alone, I try to take advantage of socializing when I can. My friend convinces me to go up to his apartment to help him prioritize dating app prospects.
4:30 p.m. — Make a spinach berry smoothie and have a couple of rice cakes topped off with a Trader Joe's frozen banana chocolate bite. Work on a job assignment test for a job. These days you end up putting in a lot of work in the interview process only to get rejected, it's criminal. Over the years, a couple of companies have paid me to submit an application assignment — I'd love to see that become the industry norm.
6 p.m. — Call a professional contact a friend put me in touch with and we have an informal chat about one of the roles I'm being considered for. She mostly has positive things to say about the company.
7 p.m. — Hop on the subway to a gym to take a free dance cardio class with a promo code from a studio I like. Turns out the class isn't happening and I don't feel like doing another type of workout at this point. Take a quick dunk in the hot tub, shvitz in the steam room and dry out in the sauna. Not sure the trip was worth the subway cost, it happens. Accidentally pay for the subway twice in one trip. $7
9 p.m. — Eat a super late dinner for me. Reheat curry, sprinkle on some furikake and crack open a seltzer. Watch an episode of Seinfeld. Top off the meal with a piece of dark almond chocolate and a dried prune. Respond to some guys on dating apps. Drink Calm water and turn on the new Yellowjackets episode.
12 a.m. — Skincare routine and in bed with guided meditation and lavender essential oil.
Daily Total: $12

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Meditatate, apple cider vinegar water, journal.
9:30 a.m. — Oatmeal situation again for breakfast with Lipton black tea. Listen to my daily news podcasts while flipping through a magazine. Play Wordle, read an article, put on another podcast and do the dishes that I let pile up. The run-in with K. messed with me and I'm pretty embarrassed and regretful of how I handled it. He hasn't reached out and I know I shouldn't either, but the fantasy of reconnecting is there. I revisit some highlighted passages in the book When Things Fall Apart to remind myself why I should let it be and not try to do damage control.
1 p.m. — Curry for lunch with seltzer and fresh mango slice for dessert. Have a mini breakdown about how I've been feeling lately. It does feel good to cry and let it out. What a bad week for my therapist to be on vacation. I need some extra fuel to work on my job test. Make a shot of matcha and have a Trader Joe's banana chocolate frozen bite. Good thing I cleaned up a little this morning, my super unexpectedly asks to let a technician in to fix my intercom.
6 p.m. — I decide to take advantage of the warm weather and bike to the park for a run. My stomach cramps up a little during the run, maybe from the coconut milk in the curry? I suspect I'm sensitive to it but I haven't been able to give it up completely yet. I jog at a slow pace, bike back home and stretch.
8 p.m. — Heat up a Trader Joe's chile and cheese tamale. I tried these for the first time lately, not bad. Finally kill the raw baby carrots and drink seltzer. Finish the fresh mango, drink Calm water, then shower. Turn on an episode of Daisy Jones and the Six.
11:30 p.m. — Skincare routine, lavender essential oil and lights out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — Meditate and apple cider vinegar water. Have a spinach berry smoothie for breakfast. Take supplements and work on the job test some more while drinking Lipton black tea. After I submit the test, I take 10 minutes to get my journaling in. Still hungry after breakfast so I grab a couple of dried prunes to tide me over. I listen to daily news podcasts while straightening up my place. I book two driving lessons, which will hopefully be enough until my road test next month. $109
12 p.m. — A restaurant I love relocated closer to my apartment and I invite V. to scope it out with me. We grab burritos and he pays since I got him last time. We eat on his fire escape and soak up the weather while talking about our dating woes. He has to get back to work so I turn on the Naked Beauty podcast while walking to get a pistachio gelato soft serve to celebrate the sunshine. $8
2 p.m. — I grab a decaf iced Americano and post up at my favorite local café with outdoor seating. Respond to some job prospects and freelance project emails. Log my job applications from last week on the unemployment site. Look for job listings online. $8
5:30 p.m. — I don't usually run two days in a row but it's too gorgeous out. Since I don't have plans tonight, I want an excuse to be outside. I eat a couple of prunes and half a rice cake for fuel. Go for a very comfortable jog through my neighborhood and it feels good to sweat. Stretch at home.
6:30 p.m. — Do dishes while listening to Naked Beauty. Get a rejection letter for the job I interviewed for a couple of days ago. It's my third rejection email this week, which is hard, but I also don't think it was the right fit. Shower, then eat curry rice with seltzer. Banana chocolate bites for dessert. Talk to my mom on the phone.
8:30 p.m. — More Daisy Jones and the Six, the soundtrack is catchy. I'm hooked!
11 p.m. — Skincare routine and in bed with lavender oil. Read The State of Affairs before turning on a guided meditation.
Daily Total: $125

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Meditation, apple cider vinegar water, journal. It's way too hot for oatmeal and I'm out of bananas. I defrost a sugar doughnut from my freezer that I bought last week on the Too Good To Go app and make a spinach berry protein smoothie. Drink Lipton black tea and Wordle. I cheat for a few answers on the New York Times crossword mini, my brain isn't working properly yet. Do some dishes. Feeling a little lightheaded and eat a rice cake with peanut butter. Poke around for job listings online.
12 p.m. — I don't feel like staring at a screen and doing a strength Peloton workout in my apartment so I go for a run. Stop into the grocery store on my way home to pick up seltzer and bananas. My favorite vegan ice cream happens to be on sale. It's the little things. $8
12:30 p.m. — V. wants to go for a stroll. I get his espresso and I order an iced matcha for myself. $11
2 p.m. — Squeeze some lime on my curry rice dish and in my seltzer. Supplements and a frozen banana bite to satisfy my sweet tooth. Siesta, then I jump on a quick call for a freelance piece I'm working on. More online job hunting. I find a bunch of roles to apply to but don't feel like I have the energy to write new cover letters. Save the tabs and plan to revisit them in the morning.
6 p.m. — Bike to meet a friend, N., for dinner at a Mexican spot I've wanted to try. We order chips and salsa to share and catch happy hour so my marg is cheaper. Order a poblano pepper quesadilla, it's delicious. Bike home. $38
9 p.m. — Have a spoonful of ice cream plus a banana dark chocolate bite back home. Drink Calm. Watch an episode of Catastrophe. I'm late to this show but it's hilarious.
Daily Total: $57
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