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 communications coordinator who makes $67,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on martinis.
Occupation: Communications Coordinator
Location: Queens, NY
Net Worth: $127,000 (Liquid savings: $30,000; Roth IRA: $40,000; Traditional IRA: $1,400 (rolled over from previous job); old 401(k): $9,000; brokerage account: $26,000; current 401(k): $21,000)
Paycheck Amount (1x/week): $867 (Only my subway benefit and taxes come out of this. My workplace has free health insurance and I don’t contribute anything to their retirement plan because it sucks. I contribute to a taxable brokerage account and Roth IRA on my own instead.)
iCloud Storage: $.99
Electric: ~$23 (gas is included)
Metrocard: $127 (taken out of my paycheck pre-tax)
Savings: $1,000 goes into my brokerage account each month, or if it’s the beginning of the year, my Roth. I’m debating trying to save for an eventual down payment. I’m not sure buying in NYC is worth it unless I’m a millionaire…
Streaming Services: I use my friends’ accounts
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. Where I grew up, you were a loser if you didn’t go, so I felt pressured by my peers and my parents to go even though I wasn’t ready. I wish I went to community college for my first two years instead so I could’ve saved money, but at the time I thought community college meant you were a failure. I wish someone had sat me down and said it’s okay if you walk a different path and figure yourself out first.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
None. We never wanted for anything so it was never discussed.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Babysitting neighbourhood kids.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Do you worry about money now?
All the time.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After I finished grad school at 23 or 24. However, I had tons of student debt and couldn’t afford to move out on my own. I decided I would move out once I paid off all my debt. I owed $70,000. I paid off $50,000 by myself and my parents handled the parent-plus loans, which were $20,000. A month shy of my 28th birthday, I moved out.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
9:30 a.m. — It’s Monday, but I have today off. I have a phone interview this morning with a recruiter and a dentist appointment. I’m so excited because this role would be fully remote. My roommate is still asleep, so I quietly make a breakfast of eggs, sausage, an English muffin (toasted with butter), and coffee. I use the last of the eggs, English muffins, and milk, which is fine because I’m going grocery shopping today. I sit at the table and watch an episode of The Chair on my phone with earbuds in.
12 p.m. — The call went great (I think). I’m excited to speak with more people at the company about the role. It’s a brand new position they created, which I think comes with more pressure, but I am so ready to not commute every day.
12:30 p.m. — I am feeling the energy and walk to the grocery store for a big haul. I haven’t been grocery shopping in a month. I’ve been going out a lot and doing Hello Fresh, which I’m still doing, but I also need some basic things. I buy eggs, a big thing of salt, a big thing of pepper, olive oil, English muffins, frozen pizza, bread, oat milk, whole wheat pasta, apples, tortilla chips, baby carrots, string beans, chicken, waffles, a large bag of mozzarella cheese, and two boxes of frozen garlic bread. I spend way more than I mean to, but now I’ll be good for a while, especially with Hello Fresh. $90.55
2 p.m. — I decide to eat the frozen pizza for lunch before meeting up later with my friend/former love interest, J. I assume we’ll do dinner, so I save a slice of the pizza I made for a different time. I’m so excited to see him. I developed feelings for him during the panni, and it was a whole thing. I’m not sure what I feel for him now. This will be the first time I’m seeing him in a while since I moved. He also moved, but he got his own place instead of having roommates.
3:45 p.m. — Dentist! This is my first time going to the dentist in three years. I used to go twice a year, but ever since getting shitty dental insurance that not many places take, I haven’t gone. Time to suck it up and do it. The dentist is great and I have a small cavity so I’m going back next week for a filling. This visit is covered, but next week it’ll be $50.
4:50 p.m. — Home! I didn’t think I was there for that long, but it’s been over an hour. I notice an email from a recruiter at a major firm asking if I would be interested in an opportunity. I agree to chat with her about it tomorrow. I also text J. He says he has a full bar but no mixers, so I pick up a thing of lemonade. I put everything in my bike’s basket and ride over to his new place. Last week, I told my therapist I was going to see J. and he said, “Are you going to do drugs and fuck him?” I said of course not. Everything has changed now. $3.50
6 p.m. — I arrive at his new place and before I enter, I know this is a place I would never pay to live in. It’s so depressing. It might literally be a cave, but then again, it’s all his with no roommates. I pour myself vodka mixed with the lemonade. I ask him about everything in his life, but he’s not forthcoming and barely asks me anything. I don’t know why he’s being awkward. He says he doesn’t want to do dinner. Then he asks if I want to do mushrooms. My therapist was right. I don’t know what to say. It catches me off-guard. I just say yes. Things start getting a bit frisky and I think, Why did I come here? I don’t want to just get high and sit around with him anymore. I guess I thought we would be real friends now, but it kind of seems like he just wants to do drugs and fuck me. I stop things from progressing and eventually leave.
10 p.m. — I’m home. I take out my phone to text J. that I arrived safely, but then I remember he never asked me to text him when I got home. I’m glad I didn’t hook up with him, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t feel like he respects me as a person.
Daily Total: $94.05
6:45 — Tuesday. Alarm goes off. I get up right away. Bathroom, brush teeth, get dressed, pack my lunch for the day, which is a turkey and swiss cheese sandwich, an apple, baby carrots, and tortilla chips. I also take that last pizza slice for breakfast. Out the door by 7:20. My office called us all back in full time in 2020 as soon as they were legally allowed.
8 a.m. — I arrive and I’m already depressed. I find it hard to stay motivated when there’s no upward mobility. Many of my coworkers are unvaccinated and a few had COVID and management didn’t tell us. I only found out through the grapevine later. What I really want to do is write my book full-time.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch. I put my turkey and swiss in the toaster oven and eat at my desk. I rarely take lunch anymore. I’m too lazy to leave the office.
3:30 p.m. — I have a chat with the recruiter about that job.
4 p.m. — Done for the day. As I’m leaving, I run into a coworker who asks if I want a sandwich. I say yes and he hands me a giant sandwich. I thank him and know what I’m eating for lunch tomorrow.
4:50 p.m. — I arrive home. I say hi to my roommate, A. I technically have two roommates but the other one, T., has been away since before I moved in. However, he’s coming back tomorrow. I prep my Hello Fresh meal quickly before my call with my therapist.
5:30 p.m. — Call with my therapist. I tell him about what happened with J. and he says I told you so. I Venmo him $20 for the copay. $20
6:20 p.m. — Cook the rest of my Hello Fresh meal which is salmon and potatoes with a tasty sauce. I finish The Chair while eating.
11 p.m. — I’m going to some off-site locations tomorrow and am being picked up at my apartment at 8:30, so I can sleep in. I’m still upset about what happened with J., so I opt to take out my frustrations with a morning run since now I have the time.
Daily Total: $20
6:45 a.m. — Wednesday. Alarm. No way do I wanna run.
7 a.m. — I can’t fall back asleep. Okay, I’ll run.
7:50 — Back at my place. I’m sweaty, but feel a bit better. I don’t bother showering.
10 a.m. — My coworker drops me off at the train and I continue reading a book on my Kindle, All Girls. I’m not super into it and it doesn’t have a plot, but a character in the book has apple cider donuts and now I’m CRAVING apple cider donuts. I wonder if Dunkin’ has them, then try to convince myself that, no, I don’t need it. I’m really trying to not spend unnecessary money.
11 a.m. — As I walk into my building, I pass my boss who says she left a surprise for me on my desk. Omg, I hope it’s an apple cider donut. What are the chances it’ll be an apple cider donut? Please be an apple cider donut. I get to my desk and see that it’s a special brownie that she made. My boss is the only redeeming factor of this job. If she weren’t the best, I think I would’ve quit ages ago.
12 p.m. — I heat half the sandwich, which is chicken parm. It hits the spot.
12:30 p.m. — I’m so exhausted from traveling around this morning. I notice I was charged for my next week’s Hello Fresh. I usually get charged Tuesday or Wednesday and then the box arrives Saturday or Sunday. I get two meals per box, but because I’m a single person and there are two servings, it’s usually four meals. I look and see that next week’s box is actually going up in price. I guess my promo is finally coming to an end. I’ll need to decide if $60 a week for two meals is worth it. $51.96
2:27 p.m. — I get a text from my younger brother, who lives upstate, asking if he can stay the night Friday. I say I’ll ask my roomies, but it should be fine. It’s times like these I wish I had my own place.
5 p.m. — I arrive home to a quiet house. When I see A., I ask if T. came back. He says he doesn’t know. I assume T. hasn’t arrived yet. I’m still depressed about J., my job situation, and where I’m at in life generally. I also doubt I can write a book. I need comfort food. For dinner, I cook three chicken pieces. I roll them in egg yolk and breadcrumbs and put them in the frying pan. I only eat one of these chicken pieces. The main meal is the mountain of pasta I make, which I cover with cheese.
7:30 p.m. — T. arrives. Because I moved in when he wasn’t here, we catch up and spend the next few hours rearranging the apartment. He has serious ideas about interior design. I don’t care where we put anything. I’m also very conflict-avoidant so I agree to anything.
8:30 p.m. — After we’re done figuring things out, I retreat to my room and watch an episode of Maid. I’ve never been that poor or a single mother, but somehow I relate to it so much. Later, I brush, floss, wash my face, then bed.
Daily Total: $51.96
6:45 a.m. — Alarm. I get up and go to the bathroom, then get dressed, pack a bag for the gym, and out the door by 7:20.
8 a.m. — Try to do book writing.
12 p.m. — Eat the other half of the sandwich. I also have an apple.
1:15 p.m. — Get an email from the recruiter saying I’m scheduled for an interview with the director next week. I’ve been on so many Zoom interviews while in the office, I have it down to a science.
3:30 p.m. — My phone rings. It’s a different recruiter for a different job that I had applied to. This job is temporary, but honestly, I’ll do anything to get out of this place. She asks my price and I say $90-$100,000. She says $90,000 is their top, but I think that’s low considering the work is basically three jobs. She sends me an email asking if I can send her my resume in a Word doc and a link to their Linkedin posting. I say I can email her later tonight. I check the Linkedin posting and it says the range is actually up to $110,000… interesting.
4 p.m. — Quitting time. I head directly to the gym instead of going home first because I know if I go home, I won’t want to come back out. I do two sessions a week. I’m considering quitting the gym because, one) it’s expensive, and two) it’s getting cold, and now that I live far away, I don’t know if I’ll want to walk in the freezing cold. Also, if I quit my job, I def won’t be able to afford it. I may have a small crush on someone there though, which may be the only reason I haven’t quit yet.
6 p.m. — Done with gym! Some people are getting together at a nearby bar. I know I’m trying to save money, but I’m feeling super low and I don’t feel like going home yet so I head over. I order a margarita. I’m starving, but know I have the other half of my Hello Fresh meal at home. The bar turns out to be the pick-me-up I needed. A friend says that they’re going back to school to completely change industries. This fills me with hope. While I know becoming a novelist isn’t practical, or even probable, I’m happy I’m not the only 30-year-old considering a major life change. $12.98
8:30 p.m. — I leave early because I’m tired from the gym and life in general. I’m so proud of myself for only ordering one drink. I walk home past where I used to live and I’m regretting going to see J. I was doing so well before I saw him. He has thrown off my whole week. I get home to a quiet house, though I can hear both roomies in their rooms. I reheat Hello Fresh and watch Only Murders in the Building.
10 p.m. — Take a shower and brush/floss teeth. I get ready for bed. I send the recruiter my info and scroll the internet until it’s time to sleep.
Daily Total: $12.98
6:45 a.m. — Ugh. I can do it. I can do it! I do all the morning things and then pack lunch. I don’t have enough cold cuts for a turkey sandwich, so I do PB&J instead. I usually have PB&J sandwiches every day for lunch because I’m poor. Well, maybe not poor poor, but I don’t think I’m considered middle class in NYC. Lunch in NYC is expensive and if I got into the habit of doing that, it would add up quickly. I also pack baby carrots, chips, and an apple.
8 a.m. — Arrive at work. I decide to use T-Mobile Tuesday’s promo to get a dollar off a Dunkin’ drink. I’m feeling basic so I get an iced pumpkin spice latte. I also see that Friday is get a free donut with your drink. I ask the lady if I can have one. She says it’s only with the Dunkin’ app. I don’t have the Dunkin’ app. I say never mind and go to pay for my drink. As I turn to leave, she says, “Which one do you want?” At first, I’m confused, then I realise she means a donut! Omg! I pick a pumpkin one because the apple cider one looks a little sad and thank her profusely. Score! $3.34
12 p.m. — I eat the lunch I made and it’s… gross. I don’t like this new jelly. Oh well.
2 p.m. — I’m bored and ask my boss if she needs anything. She says no, but suggests we call it a day soon and go get a drink. I immediately think, oh no, I’ve been found out. She’s noticed my poor performance and knows I want to quit. This is going to be “the talk.”
3 p.m. — We go to a posh bar, which has a martini happy hour — $10 per martini, which is a steal considering their other drinks range from $16-$18 bucks. I get their signature one and my boss gets a sweet one. The outing isn’t what I expected, she doesn’t talk to me about work at all. Instead, we talk about our childhood traumas and I tell her things I’ve not discussed with anyone. Once we are liquored up, I say how I’m sorry I’ve been “out of it” at work. She says I’m fine and she hasn’t noticed anything. Phew. The martini hits hard and I don’t have another because I don’t want to be too drunk for when my brother arrives. His girlfriend is driving him down and we are all going to go out for dinner.
5 p.m. — I pay the tab because I told my boss back in August I wanted to take her out for her birthday, but it just never happened, so this is on me. With tip, it’s $37.66. I go to the bathroom and when I come back I find she has made friends with the guy next to us. She says he’s bought us all mini espresso martinis. Wow! I cannot say no. I truly admire her ability to make friends anywhere. I’m way too shy and awkward to do that. $37.66
7 p.m. — They’re here! They manage to find a spot on my street. They say they like the area and we catch up a bit at dinner. I get the crunchy fish tacos, my brother’s girlfriend gets the veggie tacos, and he gets an appetiser sampler. We don’t get drinks. The tab comes out to around $55. He pays.
9 p.m. — They are both excited to see my new apartment. I take them up and give them the grand tour. They say I did well. I am really proud of my place (I just wish it could be all mine!). I set him up on the floor at the foot of my bed. I use my yoga mat and take the cushions from the couch for padding. He wants to have an early night to prepare for tomorrow’s travels. We watch the first episode of Squid Game. He’s already seen the whole thing, but this is my first time! Lights out by 10.
Daily Total: $41
6 a.m. — My brother’s alarm goes off. He gets up and gets ready quickly. We return the cushions to the couch, he thanks me for letting him stay, and I see him off and then go back to bed.
10 a.m. — I finally get up and make a breakfast of eggs with swiss cheese melted in it, a waffle with butter, and coffee with milk and sugar. I watch an episode of Only Murders while eating.
12 p.m. — I sit down to do some writing. It’s hard because I’m such a perfectionist that I spend way too much time writing and rewriting a single sentence. I check to see how many words I have thus far — 3,200. Only…57,800 to go…
2 p.m. — I need to return my library book. The library is apparently closed on the weekends and their outside return machine isn’t working. I head to the Dollar Store and get a sponge and one of those wire-bristle things. $6.29
4 p.m. — I get home and see my Hello Fresh box arrived. I bring it up and spend the next hour or so looking on Amazon for my costume materials. I find some good stuff and place an order. $45.59
6 p.m. — I’m starving, so I cook a dinner of roasted carrots and string beans and a few remaining tortellinis I have from last week. I also heat up a piece of the breaded chicken I made the other night. Wow, I put way too much salt on the veggies. I can’t even finish them! I also have a glass of wine. I realise I never heard from the recruiter I had an interview with on Monday and get sad. I decide to finally set up my Switch and play Animal Crossing. I saw the new updates and I’m pretty excited about it. But before I do that, I wash my dishes and take out the trash.
8 p.m. — The Switch takes forever to set up because it hasn’t been charged in a while. I talk to my mom on the phone. I tell her I’m setting up my Switch and she remarks on how she wished she had one. Her birthday is coming up and I ask if she wants one. If she can get me a Switch for my 30th, I can get her one for her 65th. After I hang up, I take a shower. I decide to do a real skin care routine tonight. I use Pixi Glow Tonic, then Sum 37 waterfull skin refresher, then Moistfull collagen eye cream, then Moistfull collagen emulsion. Do I know what tonic and skin refresher do? No. Does my skin feel different after using them? No. Do I continue to use it anyway? Yes.
Daily Total: $51.88
9 a.m. — I get up and get ready for the gym. I don’t eat breakfast.
10 a.m. — Gym! My love interest isn’t here today.
12:30 p.m. — I get home and I’m hungry. I make a latte with my Keurig and toast an English muffin with peanut butter. I vacuum the apartment and my room. I also continue playing Animal Crossing.
2:30 p.m. — I decide to make Hello Fresh sweet potato and poblano quesadillas for a late lunch. It takes way longer than it should. I watch two more episodes of Only Murders and also decide to make some popcorn. I douse it in butter, which is the only way to eat popcorn. I also continue reading All Girls. I read about a book a week and set a goal on Goodreads to read 50 books this year. All Girls will be my 42nd. Next, I have One Last Stop.
7 p.m. — I open my book’s file on my laptop and have another glass of wine. I made a resolution to at least open the word document once per day, even if I don’t write anything, I have to engage with it somehow. Sometimes I think this whole book writing thing is stupid and I’m stupid. But then I remind myself I’m writing the book I want to read. As I listen to the Christmas music my roommate puts on in the shower, I’m glad I’m not alone. I think I am going to be okay. Even if these other jobs don’t work out, I’ll continue playing the game until one does and I’ll work on my own personal projects in between. That’s all I can do, and I think it’s enough.
Daily Total: $0
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