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A Week In New York City On $18 Per Hour

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Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a content marketing intern working in design who makes $18 per hour and spends some of her money this week on horchata.

Occupation: Marketing Intern
Industry: Design
Age: 21
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $18/hr
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $576
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I'm a college student, and I live at home with my parents. Since we're only about an hour and a half from my school by public transit, they decided against spending on the astronomical dorm and apartment costs.)
Student Loans: $0 (I'm still in school.)
Wi-Fi & Cable: $126.74 (I started paying this bill about six months ago as a decision between me and my parents.)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.)
Health Insurance: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.)
MetroCard: About $80
Birth Control: $15 (I get it from my school's health center — don't tell my mom.)
Netflix: $3.50 (I split the monthly payment with a few other friends.)
Hulu: $0 (Thanks to my boyfriend.)
Spotify: $2.50 (I'm on a family plan with a few of my friends.)
Savings: I have about $3,200 saved as of this month. It's from working full-time for the past two summers and part-time for two semesters.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I purposefully set an alarm for 30 minutes before I actually need to wake up because hitting snooze gives me some semblance of having control over my sleep schedule. I highly recommend it. However, today is actually my first day of work at my new job, so I'm actually pretty eager to get out of bed.

7 a.m. — I'm awake, but my legs aren't. I stumble ungracefully into the bathroom, pee, brush my teeth, wash my face, and put in my contacts. I notice my eyes are extremely puffy from crying last night (a lot to unpack there), but I decide not to worry too much about it.

7:20 a.m. — Even if you think you're an early riser, there's always an Asian parent who beat you to it. My parents have the day off and are both sitting down at the dining table already. They've made steamed dumplings, which I pour a generous amount of Chinkiang black vinegar over, and eat about seven of them.

9 a.m. — I arrive at my new office on time — no signal problems, no sick passengers, #blessed. I'm a little nervous to go in at first, but my supervisor comes to meet me and shows me to my desk. They've piled it with a bunch of company merch and a welcome card. I'm not going to lie, my heart melts a little bit from the kindness of the gesture, and also because I love free things.

10:30 a.m. — I spend most of the morning meeting the team, getting a tour of the office, and reading up on the company. My supervisor has given me a to-do list for the next few days, so I slowly work my way through it.

1 p.m. — My supervisor takes me out to lunch, expensed. We go to a nearby café that I've never been before. I order a shrimp avocado salad, and we get fries to share. We talk about the company, career stuff, and my plans for the future. Her advice is really helpful.

4:30 p.m. — The rest of the day has flown by, and I can hardly believe it's almost the end of it.

6 p.m. — A twenty-minute train ride later, I arrive at my clinic for my first ever Pap smear. It has been a day of new beginnings.

7:30 p.m. — I get home, shower, and have dinner with my family — my parents ask me about my day, and I try to explain what marketing is in my conversational Chinese. They nod politely.

9 p.m. — My boyfriend calls me as he's getting out of work (he's on the west coast for the summer) since he's three hours behind. I catch him up on my first day and he tells me about his day.

11:30 p.m. — I'm in bed! It'll probably be another hour before I fall asleep, but that's something I've accepted anyway. My head hits the pillow for some well-deserved rest.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — I'm out of bed a little later than yesterday, so I move more quickly.

7:30 a.m — I make myself some earl grey tea with honey and almond milk. My parents left me some udon noodles for breakfast, so I have those and go back upstairs to change and finish getting ready.

9:15 a.m — I arrive in the office and open up my to-do list for the day. My first assignment is writing out thank you notes for clients and assembling gift boxes to be shipped out.

9:30 a.m. — I'm surrounded by tape, scissors, and cardboard, kneeling on the floor taping up boxes. Never have I felt more like an intern.

1 p.m. — For lunch, I get a spicy Thai salad from By Chloe (comped by work). I text my friends and scroll through Twitter and Instagram.

2 p.m. — My boss sends me assignments. I put the gift boxes to the side for now and get to work on what she sent me.

5:15 p.m. — I find myself pretty swamped with assignments for the rest of the day– my boss gives me the okay to leave, so I head out and start walking to Chinatown, where I'm meeting a friend for dinner.

6 p.m. — My friend and I catch up over Shanghainese food. We order scallion pancakes, Shanghai lo mein, cold jellyfish, and cold chicken. We split the bill evenly. $13.89

8:15 p.m. — I get home and hang out on the couch with my brother for a bit before going upstairs to shower. I used his Metrocard today, so I Venmo him back for two rides. $5.50

10 p.m. — I text my boyfriend for a little bit before he goes to watch the new Spiderman movie. I spend the rest of the night on YouTube, and remember to take my birth control.

11:30 p.m. — Time for bed! I spray my pillow and sheets with a lavender oil mist that I got from Whole Foods when I was feeling indulgent one time.

Daily Total: $19.39

Day Three

7 a.m. — I'm up! I feel like my body is getting used to waking up at 7 again.

8:15 a.m — The 20-minute walk from my house to the subway station leaves me drenched in sweat, but today is the last day of the week before we get time off for the Fourth of July, so I'm excited about that.

9 a.m. — Arrive at work and take care of some short assignments my boss gave me.

10:30 a.m. — Finish filling up the boxes, then manually inputting information for 27 shipping labels to tape on the boxes. Absolutely thrilling, and I can barely contain myself.

1:30 p.m. — My supervisor wants me to have a social media launch plan by our 2:30 meeting. I go into STRESS packing mode.

2 p.m. — Every last box has been taped up, labeled, and is ready for shipping. I can't tell if my lower back hurts from crouching or if I generally just have very poor posture. I alternate between standing and kneeling on the floor to give my legs a break. These gift boxes are my magnum opus. I word-vomit social media campaign ideas into my notebook in preparation for my meeting in 30 minutes.

3 p.m. — I raid the office kitchen for a granola bar and almonds.

4 p.m. — I have my meeting with my boss, and it's pretty quick. We decide on a social media launch for the coming week and I get to work on it. She sends me a copywriting example from our marketing director, and I'm so impressed by her writing. I give myself a reminder to speak with her sometime during the summer about career stuff.

5:20 p.m. — I finally muster up the courage to ask my boss if I can leave, since I'm done with my assignments. She wishes me a good Fourth of July weekend, and I'm out the door.

5:45 p.m. — I meet my friends, A. and R., at R.'s apartment since we're getting tacos together. We go to my favorite taco place, Taqueria, located on St. Marks Place. I get a lengua taco, a chorizo taco, and a horchata. Chips and salsa are free. $12.78

6:30 p.m. — We go back to R.'s apartment and A. makes a gin and tonic, which we share. It relaxes me, and I sink into the couch, scrolling through Twitter and giggling to myself.

6:55 p.m. — A. and I live in the same neighborhood, so we decide to head home together. I haven't seen him since I started working, so I catch him up on my job and how things have been going. He's currently prepping for the LSAT and has been pretty stressed, so we haven't had the chance to talk much recently. We joke about non-work-and-LSAT-related things too, because balance is important.

8:30 p.m. — I arrive home and decide that I'm too lazy to shower yet, so I call my boyfriend. Since we didn't get to talk much yesterday, we talk about how the week has been going for us. I'm really proud of him, and myself, for where we are in terms of figuring out what we want to do in the future. I'm lucky to have someone who I feel like I can grow alongside, and these conversations I have with him really remind me of that.

12 a.m. — I get off the phone with my boyfriend and get into bed with my phone. I alternate between scrolling through social media and texting my boyfriend for a while longer before I fall asleep at around 2 a.m.

Daily Total: $12.78

Day Four

10:15 a.m. — It's the Fourth of July and I don't have work, so I get to sleep in. I take my time getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, and changing into my workout clothes.

10:30 a.m. — I've had a gym memberships on and off, but nowadays I find that I'm able to fit in workouts more regularly by doing them at home. I usually just do two or three workout videos at a time, one cardio and one or two strength-training.

12:45 p.m. — I've showered and made myself breakfast/lunch. I eat really weird food combinations when I'm home alone, and today's consists of noodles, boiled dumplings (cut in half), and an egg cracked on top. I eat it out of the pot and season it with gochujang, soy sauce, sesame oil, and a little bit of black vinegar and it's good, I swear! While eating, I start bingeing the new season of Stranger Things.

4 p.m. — We're having a family barbecue today, so I go downstairs and start prepping some skewers for later while watching Stranger Things.

5:30 p.m. — My parents come home from work and more relatives show up. I help out with some more food prep, and I realize my absolute KING of an uncle brought PORK BELLY to the barbecue. There are also little toddlers running around, and they're adorable but also very draining to play with.

8:30 p.m. — The sun has set, so the fireworks start. My family and I watch them from the backyard. No matter how old I get, there's still something pretty magical about the sight and sound of fireworks in the sky. I also find myself glancing over at the toddlers to see their reactions to the fireworks — the way their faces light up in awe is the cutest, most innocent thing ever.

11 p.m. — The barbecue is pretty much over, and I've retreated to bed to finish where I left off on Stranger Things. It gets a little too intense for pre-bedtime (I get nightmares easily), so I decide to stop for a bit before falling asleep shortly thereafter.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — The only thing better than barbecue food is barbecue leftovers, and that's what I have for breakfast. I don't really have anything planned for the day, and I'm not really feeling like working out. I text my cousin asking if she wants to go to the mall later, since I need a new bathing suit top. She offers to come with me later.

11 a.m. — It's a lazy, Stranger Things- type of morning.

2 p.m¬. — My cousin comes to pick me up and drive me to the mall. A Primark opened up recently, and it's my first time going. It's the type of place where I can definitely see myself buying a ton of things I don't need, so I keep in mind that I'm here for a bathing suit top and nothing else. But I do end up buying a pumice scrubber for my feet, because who's trying to show up at the beach with crusty heels, especially during #hotgirlsummer?? My cousin buys a sun hat and nail polish, but I ask if she can pay for my scrubber with her stuff, because the shame of going up to the cashier with my single item being a foot scrubber is too much. $1.50

3:30 p.m. — At Hollister, I finally find the right bikini top. (Is there anything more annoying to buy than swimwear?) It was originally $28.79, but I get it on sale for $17.37. $17.37

6:30 p.m. — I have dinner with my family and talk to my brother about his new job. It's his first time working retail, and lately he's been coming home exhausted from his eight-hour shifts. I'm worried about his physical and mental state, but he says that he can handle it, and hopefully he won't have to work as many days once the holiday weekend is over.

9 p.m. — My boyfriend's sister is arriving in town tonight, and I ask her if she wants to go to brunch tomorrow. The pressure is on for me to find something solid, because for some reason I decided to tell her that “I know some really good brunch places,” even though I've been to brunch maybe four, five times in my life. I start Yelp-ing and researching a good spot for us to go tomorrow and decide on Café Mogador.

10 p.m. — I'm not sure what I spent the last three hours doing between dinner and now, but it probably involved some YouTube and texting my friends and boyfriend. I'm super tired despite not having had too busy of a day, and I knock out in the middle of an ASMR henna tattoo drawing video.

Daily Total: $18.87

Day Six

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off for my 8 a.m. driving lesson, my first one ever. For some reason, even as I try to go back to sleep (30 more minutes), I feel a weird sense of heaviness and anxiety in my chest. This doesn't happen much anymore, but when it does, it always feels the same, and it's almost always in the morning.

7:50 a.m. — I arrive at the driving school to wait for my instructor. He goes through the process of telling me where everything is, and teaches me how to start the car and pull out. Midway through, he switches seats with me and I'm behind the wheel for the first time ever. Maybe I'm too tired to be nervous, but I think I do pretty well for my first lesson. We spend the next hour and a half driving through the residential area, while I practice my left turns, right turns, and stops.

10:15 a.m. — I get home and decide that I need to nap. Twenty minutes later, I drag myself out of bed and do a workout.

2:45 p.m. — I'm running a little late because the trains were running local (love when that happens) and I meet my boyfriend's sister outside the restaurant. I apologize for being late, but luckily, she doesn't seem very bothered by it. I'm relieved because some of my morning anxiety carried over into the train ride, and I was worried about bringing any negativity to the meeting. We have good, easy conversation and my anxiety gradually melts away. We order the same thing, poached eggs in tomato sauce, which comes with pita and home fries, and a mimosa each. It's good food, but I wouldn't say it's super filling. Including tip, it comes out to just over $20, which is probably why I've only ever gotten brunch four times. $22.87

3:30 p.m. — We walk to a café where my friend works. He graciously comps us for two iced lattes and I sit and talk with my boyfriend's sister until about 5:40, when I start to head out to midtown to celebrate my friend V.'s 21st birthday with her.

6 p.m. — I meet my friends in front of the Presbyterian church on 5th Ave, and we start walking together toward the Peninsula Hotel. When we get to the rooftop bar, Salon de Ning, we're told that there currently isn't any outdoor seating at the moment, and to wait and order drinks at the bar. We decide to just stand on the terrace and take in the view, but I'm getting worried because the skies are pretty overcast. Sure enough, the waiter tells us that they might close the rooftop soon because of the rain. We cut our losses and make our way downstairs to use their bathroom instead. (It's a really nice bathroom, okay.)

7 p.m. — After being denied entry to the 230 Fifth Avenue rooftop bar (one of our friends isn't 21), V. decides that we should head over to Eataly instead. I order a pesto pasta, and my friends get cacio e pepe. We all agree that pasta was the best decision of the night. And it stopped raining. $19

8:30 p.m. — We get a text from a friend who's hosting a party on a nearby rooftop. It's only a short walk away, so we take our time eating and waiting on an unnecessarily long line for gelato. I love us. $5.33

9 p.m. — We arrive at the rooftop, and I have to admit, it has a pretty amazing view, especially since it's nighttime. I've lived here my whole life, and yet there's still perspectives from which I've never seen the city before, and I wonder how many others there are yet to see.

10:30 p.m. — I'm one game of beer pong in and my social battery is close to depletion. Luckily, it's not too big of a party, but I'm about ready to go pretty soon. My friends agree, and we decide to head out in a bit. It takes V. about another thirty minutes to say goodbye to everyone, and then we start to make our way back down to the lobby.

10:45 p.m. — V. and I both live in south Brooklyn, albeit on opposite ends. I decide to take the train with her back to her neighborhood, since I don't want to take the subway alone. I figure I can just Uber from her stop back home. We're both pretty sleepy on the train ride, but manage to squeeze in one last heart to heart conversation. Late night subway heart to hearts = priceless.

12 a.m. — We arrive at V.'s train stop. She tries finding me an Uber on her phone, but there aren't any cars in the area. Who would've thought that traveling from one end of south Brooklyn to another at midnight wouldn't be a very popular route?? Luckily, I'm able to get a Lyft, and I part ways with V. after she swears to me several times that she's fine to walk home by herself.

12:25 a.m. — I arrive home, shower, and promptly get into bed. I tip the Lyft driver because without him, I'm not sure how I would've gotten home. $16.11

Daily Total: $63.31

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of my mom's voice telling me to get up, because we're meeting our family friends for dim sum. I get out of bed for dim sum. I'd do anything for dim sum.

11:30 a.m. — I spend some time reading before we head out and use the time alone to collect my thoughts from the busyness of yesterday.

12:30 p.m. — It's about a 30-minute wait for seating, but it's worth it. We order barbecue pork buns, har gow, chicken feet, fried pumpkin cakes, a flaky durian pastry, and steamed rice rolls.

4:30 p.m. — I have my second driving lesson, and today I learn how to pull over and parallel park. Correction: I attempt to learn to parallel park.

6:30 p.m. — I get home and have dinner with my family, but I'm feeling a combination of dehydrated, irritated, and antsy. Is it the Sunday scaries? Imposter syndrome? Or just mild food poisoning? It's hard to say. I go upstairs to use my laptop and try to wait for the feeling to pass.

10 p.m. — The feeling still hasn't passed, so I decide to work on something that will keep my hands busy, and hopefully my mind as well. I cropped a polo that my dad gave me a few days ago, so I work on hemming the bottom so the edges don't curl up in the wash. It takes a while since I'm doing it by hand, but the combination of working in the tiny stitches and having YouTube playing in the background does help to relax me.

11:30 p.m. — I decide to call it a night, since I'm back at work tomorrow. I remind myself that a shitty day doesn't equal a shitty life, and then I'm asleep.

Daily Total: $0

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