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 freelance journalist who is currently unemployed, whose husband makes $75,000 per year, and spends some of her money this week on roses.
Occupation: Freelance Journalist (Currently Unemployed)
Location: New York City
Joint Income: I'm currently unemployed and doing some freelancing, and my husband makes $75,000.
My Paycheck Amount: My unemployment and freelance payments are approximately $450/week.
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,910
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $1,285 for a studio apartment in Upper Manhattan. I live with my husband.
Gym Membership: $22 (We never use this and should cancel...)
MetroCards: $175 (An unlimited card for my husband, and I put $50 on my card at a time, which lasts me about two to three weeks.)
Therapy: I go to a clinic that offers $55 weekly sessions with trainees in grad school.
Roth IRA: $458 (I've had this for the past three years. I used to have a 401(k) through work, but lost my job and need to roll it into a traditional IRA.)
Mutual Fund: $125 (I add a large lump sum — around $15,000 — at the end of each year. I've been saving for seven years and have approximately $75,000 in this account.)
Savings: $5,000 (My husband and I have been saving this amount for the past ten months, after we both got promotions and were saving for our wedding/honeymoon. I was recently let go from my job, so we're using my severance as our savings, but we'll probably have to adjust this amount in the next two to three months.)
Stash Investment: $100
7:30 a.m. — Wide awake at 7:30 this morning...why was I never able to wake up at this time when I actually had to get up and go to work? Last month I was let go from my job and have been officially unemployed for about five weeks. I was totally blindsided...it was my dream job, and I had just gotten promoted about six months before. I got a severance package, and I've already had a few job interviews and have picked up some freelance writing work here and there, but my anxiety is definitely a reason I'm wide awake this early. Especially on Mondays, I have a hard time starting the week without getting overwhelmed. My husband, B., sleeps and snores next to me, so I scroll through my Instagram and play Candy Crush until his alarm goes off at 8:15. He finally gets up around 8:45, showers, and we both head out. I have some library books to return and we have no milk, so a stop for iced Americanos is definitely a must! I fill up my punch card, and next visit will be free! $6
10:30 a.m. — Home to wrap up a freelance article. I've gotten into a good routine since losing my job: Mornings are spent organizing finances, checking emails, applying for jobs, and working on writing projects. The days fly by! This week, I have one article to finish, another one to start, and a job interview planned for the beginning of next week. I really need a routine to feel organized. I make myself a banana smoothie with vanilla yogurt and fresh mint. At my last job, all the food was provided, so I definitely miss unlimited cereal and free lunches, but these smoothies are cheap to make and delicious.
2 p.m. — I take some time to plan out our meals for the week. I love Bon Appétit and Smitten Kitchen for recipes. I plan three dinners, lunch for B. to take for the week, and breakfast and lunches for me. I make my list and head to the grocery store. When my husband and I first met, we ate out basically every single meal and then slowly cut back to eating out three to four times a week. Now that I'm unemployed, that was the first thing to go. We try and just eat out on the weekends, and I've started making a batch lunch for him, which has literally saved us upwards of $75 a week! At the grocery store, I buy lots of vegetables (cucumbers, cabbage, zucchini, mint, lemons, limes, carrots, broccoli), beef, pork stew meat, imitation crab, milk, yeast to make pizza crust, a can of chickpeas to make our own hummus, canned tuna, and ice cream. I throw a package of fruit snacks onto the belt at the checkout and eat them on the way home for a snack. $44
3 p.m. — I unpack the groceries and check in with my husband to talk about our respective days so far. I make an easy lunch of coleslaw with imitation crab and eat garlic hummus with pretzels. I'm trying to motivate myself to go for a run...but I fall victim to playing Candy Crush for 45 minutes on my bed instead. #Unemployedlife
5 p.m. — Finally motivate myself to go for a run and do 4.5 miles! I get home, shower, and start dinner. B. gets home around 7. He makes us Dark and Stormies to go with dinner, which is rice bowls with ginger beef, cucumbers, scallions, and peanuts. Bon Appétit scores again! So delicious and easy to make. After dinner, he does dishes and I stretch out with my book. We watch a bit of a very long and very dry documentary on the Roosevelts. I...probably fall asleep on the couch. In bed by 11:30.
Daily Total: $50
7:30 a.m. — Same deal...awake early as B. sleeps like a baby. We're both up around 8:30, he gets ready for work, and I putter around the apartment, straightening up, putting dishes away, and packing his lunch — pasta salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta. I've replenished the milk, so I have coffee and my regular smoothie at home. B. gets coffee at a place by his office. $3.75
11 a.m. — I get an email from Shutterfly that they're having a 50% off sale, and I can get free shipping! B. and I got married in the spring and got our photos back last month. I love making photo books, and I have been putting a big one together for our wedding. With the additional pages and some other extras, it comes to $136 with the coupons. Considering our photographer was offering books for around $400, I am psyched. I grit my teeth and hit "buy," even though we probably don't need to be spending $136 on a photo book right now. I'm constantly wavering between being paranoid about money and remembering I got a severance and we have a good safety net of savings. I justify it by remembering our wedding money and mentally using it to "pay" for this purchase. $136
12:30 p.m. — I get edits back on the article I wrote yesterday and work on that for most of the afternoon. I take a break for lunch: cabbage, crab, hummus, and pretzels. A lady of routine...I wrap up around 3, shower, and get ready for my therapy appointment. It's nice outside, so I walk 20 blocks to the next express subway stop.
5:30 p.m. — Therapy was intense today. I didn't realize how anxious I was about job stuff until I spent 45 minutes blurting out all of my thoughts. B. and I talk about my work situation/fears a lot, but there's something about being in therapy that really gets the emotions going. This whole job situation has been difficult. Even though I was "let go," it's still a pretty degrading experience. I've always strongly identified as ambitious and career-oriented, and it's been hard the past few weeks not really knowing what my next step will/should be. I'm also feeling weird about our marriage dynamics: Now that I'm home, I'm doing the majority of the cooking and cleaning, which I don't mind, but it's just bringing up some complicated feelings about my independence/equality with B. I have post-therapy "retail therapy" at a discount store across the street and pick up some frozen dinners and a beach coverup and towel for my grandma's birthday gift this weekend. $25
7:30 p.m. — B. is having dinner with his family. We just saw them this weekend, and I am trying (and often failing) to draw better boundaries about seeing them as often as they would like. They live 50 blocks from us, and while we're both close with our families, being this physically close to my in-laws has caused some growing pains. Our compromise is that he goes to dinner during the week, when I have other activities going on. I play in a community band but don't have rehearsal tonight, so I just head home, do a 30-minute yoga video, and have more pasta salad leftovers and a glass of wine.
9:30 p.m. — B. gets home around 9:30 and brings me a huge bouquet of roses and a container of leftover potpie from his mom. We talk about our days, his family dinner, therapy, and some of the anxiety I've been feeling about jobs and LIFE! It honestly feels sometimes like we have the same conversation every day, but it helps to talk it out and say some of this stuff out loud. I'm definitely afraid I'll never get another job again, but saying that to him sounds kind of silly and makes me feel better about everything. He also reminds me of how much I've accomplished in the past few weeks. We watch a comedy special on Netflix and hit the sack around 11:30.
Daily Total: $164.75
7 a.m. — Argh. Awake even earlier today, even though it took me forever to go to sleep last night. I go through my normal routine of Instagram/ Candy Crush and wait for B. to wake up. I start reading a book, and the turning of the pages apparently rouses him out of a deep slumber. He huffs and puffs out of bed and into the shower. I apologize, but now we have time for coffee together! All is forgiven.
12 p.m. — Spent the morning researching another article I'm working on and applying for a few jobs. I have a surprising number of contacts and feel like I'm blast-emailing everyone I know, with varying degrees of success. Job hunting sucks. It's definitely helped to have this freelance gig, though, both to keep me busy and to build out my writing portfolio. I get $175 per article, so it's nowhere near what I used to make when I was working full-time, but it's not nothing! I also apply for my weekly unemployment benefit, which has been a nice bonus. It's only around $200 per week, which, once again, makes me extremely thankful I have a husband with a good job and health benefits and that we have a healthy savings account.
1 p.m. — I go to a donation-based yoga class in my neighborhood, and the class is amazing! It's surprisingly crowded for the middle of the day, but the instructor is amazing and I vow to go every other day, which I know I probably won't do in reality. I always make overly ambitious plans for myself. The class is an hour, and I donate $5 — normal classes are usually $10. $5
2:30 p.m. — Drop off more library books. Another advantage of being unemployed is that I've been reading constantly and will definitely reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books this year. I walk to find an icy stand and treat myself to coconut ($1). I call B. and we chat about our days. He's at lunch and gets an iced coffee ($3) on his way back to work. $4
3:30 p.m. — I decide to get some extra wife points and pick up our laundry, even though that's B.'s chore. This is another expense I've debated trying to cut, but I hate doing/folding laundry, and it's worth the time saved. We also do it once every three weeks. I decide to try and carry 40 pounds of laundry, a yoga mat, and a bag of library books instead of walking one additional block to get our laundry cart. This is a terrible idea. Someone finally takes pity on me and picks up the second bag I threw on the ground and helps me bring it the rest of the way! Good Samaritan award of the day! I get home and have carrots and hummus and a big bottle of water. I also get an email that my article was published! I post it online and then run out in the rain to look for a copy of the newspaper where my other article was published today! I love seeing my byline in print! $45
7 p.m. — B. gets home and has a horrible headache, so we veg on the couch and I read my book. I make a Smitten Kitchen recipe for summer squash pizza with homemade pizza crust. I bought Muenster cheese instead of Gruyere because 1) I thought they were similar in taste, and 2) Muenster is cheap. It's good, but the cheese is a little overpowering. We have white wine with ice and watch the Democratic debates. I feel like I am going to crawl out of my skin from awkwardness during this debate. More wine, please! We finally switch over to the taco documentary on Netflix, have ice cream, and hit the hay around 11:30.
Daily Total: $54
8 a.m. — Finally sleep past 7:30! Usual routine of getting ready, tidying up the apartment, packing B.'s lunch, and then settling in with coffee and my smoothie. I pay the rent, and then update a spreadsheet I keep with our expenses and cross-check with our Mint app. I update this spreadsheet every day and look at Mint once a week. It's crazy to see how much our money has fluctuated over the past few months. We got married in May and paid for some big-ticket items and all of our honeymoon, so most of the year has seen some higher spending. I thought we'd be "back to normal" in June, but then I lost my job, so it's been a roller coaster. But I'm really proud of our spending habits, especially because B. had no savings when he met me, and now we're saving $5,000 a month. We also cut back a lot over the past month on lunches, eating out, and mindless shopping. It all adds up. I feel a lot better when I'm done organizing the books.
11:30 a.m. — B. texts me he got his vacation request approved! His family has a place in Maine, and we're planning to go up in the fall. I'd love to live in Maine someday, even though everyone tells me: "Just wait until the winter." It's just so peaceful and beautiful up there, and I imagine writing books and making blueberry pies. Let me have my fantasies! I book the car ($270 for five days) and find an Airbnb in New Hampshire for the way up. We have credit in our wedding-registry account, so I use it for a $200 Airbnb gift card and pay the $5 balance. Considering we won't have to pay for lodging once we're in Maine, not bad for a five-day vacation! $275
1 p.m. — My sister asks me for the tenth time if I bought tickets for a musical festival we're going to this weekend, and I...have not. Unless I write something down, I forget to do it. I buy the tickets online — they're $20 each with ticket fees. I make my usual lunch of cabbage with imitation crab and have pretzels with leftover Muenster cheese. I also have half a brownie. $44
5 p.m. — After several hours of struggling to write my next freelance article, I give up and go for a run to clear my head. I do six miles! I feel really proud of myself and the brain clouds have cleared: I get home and write the majority of the article in one go. Super relieved to have that off my plate. I start dinner before B. gets home. I've had a big craving for BBQ but don't want to slow roast pork in the oven for six hours in August, so I make some pork in the pan and blitz it in the food processor. I also make homemade BBQ sauce and coleslaw. B. gets home around 7, and we take a walk around the neighborhood. It's gorgeous out! Summer sunsets in New York are so incredible, and we pass tons of people walking their dogs. Cue our endless debate as to whether or not we should get a dog. Pro: We want one. Con: We live in a studio, want to move abroad in the next five years, and both work/will work long hours.
8:30 p.m. — We both shower and make Dark and Stormies before having "pulled" pork sandwiches for dinner. It's really good but a little too salty? I almost never give my cooking (or anything I do...) a gold star. Definitely one of the things I'm working on in therapy. B., as usual, loves it and tells me he's never had more delicious food than I've made this week! We're both stuffed! B. cleans up and I read for the rest of the night. B. watches more of his beloved, and very boring, Roosevelt documentary. In bed by 11:30.
Daily Total: $319
8 a.m. — Morning routine — get up, organize apartment, make coffee/breakfast, say bye to B., and spend some time on the computer. I update our expenses and add up B.'s coffee purchases for the week ($20). I apply for a few more jobs and schedule an interview for one of my articles. I also polish up the article I worked on yesterday and pitch some more ideas to my editor. Break for an early lunch because the smoothie isn't cutting it today. I have the rest of the pork which tastes less salty when cold, and the rest of the coleslaw. Another half of a brownie before throwing the rest away since they're a week old and not that fresh.
4 p.m. — I pack a bag for the weekend — we're heading to New Jersey to visit my family. We'll be going to a music festival tomorrow and celebrating my grandmother's 88th birthday on Sunday. It's always a three-day event when we visit my family, and I'm already tired thinking about it. I walk 20 blocks to the next express subway stop and take it to 42nd to meet B. for the bus. I buy my grandma a bouquet of roses ($15) and get two bus tickets on the NJ Transit app ($16). $31
7 p.m. — After a ton of traffic, we make it to New Jersey. B. paces the parking lot to get over his bus sickness and my mom picks us up. She is wired! After spending the majority of the week by myself in relative peace and quiet, it's definitely a jolt. We catch up on our weeks, since we just saw them last weekend. (We see our families A LOT.) We drive to a Chinese buffet my grandma chose for her birthday dinner. My grandfather has dementia and she's his primary caretaker, which has really taken a toll. It's nice to take her out and talk to her one-on-one and celebrate her! We all feast on sushi, dumplings, and chicken and broccoli, and my parents bring two bottles of wine to share. My dad picks up the tab, which is around $75 for the five of us.
10 p.m. — We drop my grandma off at home, say hello to my grandpa, and then hit the road back to my parents' place. It's a nice night, so we sit on the deck with the fire pit, catch up, and reminisce about how great our wedding was. We've been married three months, but time flies and it's fun to talk about how great the day was with my parents. My parents have two dogs and they won't stop barking, so we finally head back inside and up to bed so they'll calm down. Lights out by 11:30.
Daily Total: $31
9:30 a.m. — I finally sleep in! Despite the dogs' incessant barking, we manage to sleep until 9:30, which might as well be the entire day to my parents. We get up and they've been up since 6. My dad takes off on a mountain bike ride with the dogs. My mom makes scrambled eggs and toast and we all have coffee on the porch. B. and I get dressed and go for a hike in the woods behind their house, but it's incredibly buggy and horrible. We run into my dad on the way back and then high-tail it back on the road to avoid the bugs. It's not a relaxing time.
1:30 p.m. — B. and I drive to the music festival! It's three stages with thirty local bands! We meander around and listen to a few sets, and meet up with my sister and some of her friends. My younger cousin is also there with his high school gang, and then my parents show up! A family affair! B. and I get iced coffee from the food vendors ($10) and sit on the grass to listen to another band playing more low-key music. The coffee is shockingly expensive, considering we're at a local music festival in the woods, but it's very delicious. I also fill up my water bottle and make the $1 donation. $11
3:30 p.m. — We take a break and park it at a picnic table in the shade. My parents join us and we have a slice of their pizza. We all wander our separate ways to check out more musical acts. B. and I get ice cream: cinnamon fudge for me, and Snickers for him. I jealously eye his freshly made waffle cone. #Regrets. (He shares.) $9
6:30 p.m. — We head home after a long and awesome day of live music! It's a beautiful night and the drive is stunning. We get home and take much-needed showers. My dad throws some burgers on the grill and we have a BBQ with fresh corn and tomatoes. I have a second scoop of ice cream after dinner. We sit on the porch and listen to more dog barking. I feel like my head is going to explode, so I head to bed around 9:30 and read for an hour before knocking out. B. comes up around 10. It's an early night for all.
Daily Total: $20
8 a.m. — Up early to get ready for church. B. and I struggle to get out of bed and are greeted by two barking dogs and a full breakfast. I pass and opt for coffee instead, which elicits my entire family asking if I'm feeling okay and reminding me it'll be several hours before we'll be home. Reminder: I am 31! I can go without a single meal at 8 a.m. My sister drives home to meet us and we all pile in the car to head to church.
10:30 a.m. — Church is over and we talk to the pastor for a bit before giving him a $500 donation for the church to thank him for our wedding. B. is part Jewish and I'm Lutheran. It was incredibly important to my family we were married at our church, so everyone needed to make some compromises to make it a meaningful ceremony for all of us. We found middle ground and got to read our own vows (not usually something you do at a traditional church ceremony), and we're grateful the pastor was so helpful and really customized our ceremony. I've been attending this church since I was born, so it was important, and actually B.'s idea, to thank them for being supportive of our wedding. $500
1 p.m. — Home and attempting to relax on the porch. Everyone is zapped from yesterday's activities. We make more coffee and then take a walk around the neighborhood before the rest of our family arrives for my grandma's birthday party, round two. There's 12 of us in total, and we hang out all afternoon. My grandma loves her gifts and even performs a birthday poem!
5 p.m. — Sunday dinner. We have BBQ chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, fresh tomatoes, and birthday cake. B. and I are the only people in the family who don't still live in the same town I grew up in, so it's always a hassle/discussion getting back to the city. But my sister drives us to the bus station and we take the bus, then the subway, back home. We're home by 9:30 and relish in the silence of our apartment before showering and hitting the sack around 11. $16
Daily Total: $516
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