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A Week In New York, NY, On A $35,000 Salary

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

Today: a production assistant who makes $35,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on baby wipes.

Occupation: Freelance Production Assistant
Industry: Production
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $35,000
Paycheck Amount: Varies every week — could be anywhere from $1,500 weekly or $0!
Gender: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 (my half of a one-bedroom rental split with my boyfriend)
Loans: $0 (Family paid for my education and I am eternally grateful)
Utilities: $37
Health Insurance: $125 (for a catastrophic plan)
Internet: $0 (I have been using my mobile hotspot and it works great)
Spotify Premium: $9.99
iCloud Storage: $2.99 (I always tell myself I’ll switch to Google Photos for storage but I never do)
Phone: $0 (I’ve been on my godparents’ plan since I’ve moved to New York seven years ago)
Savings: $1,000-$1,500 (I have about $30,000 saved in investments, primarily index funds but some stocks).
















Day One

9 a.m. — It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. I take my time walking my two dogs before my volunteer shift at a local museum. I remember we’re out of non-dairy milk and stop at the bodega on our block to pick some up. $5.99

10:30 a.m. — I arrive at the museum and chill. No money spent because I eat breakfast and coffee at home.

3 p.m. — I do my shift and walk back home. It’s gloriously sunny outside and I can’t help but be in a good mood. On the way home, I stop at an open house. It’s part of my research for how dang expensive apartments will be when I’m ready to buy. This particular open house is a studio going for $650,000. Ridiculous. It’s so beautiful out that I meet my boyfriend and our two dogs in the park. We sit and chat and watch the mobs of people enjoying the beautiful day.

5 p.m. — I make some spaghetti and peas when I get home. This is the type of basic food I eat on a day-to-day basis. My boyfriend goes to work; he works nights at a wine bar. I settle in with my electronic back massager, teeth whitening strips on, and watch a few YouTube videos.

8 p.m. — I go for a quick jog (about a mile and a half). I try to exercise 30 minutes a week in addition to all the walking I do living in Manhattan. I can’t justify spending $50+ a month on a gym membership when there are so many free ways to work out. I get home, shower, change my sheets, and pass out.

Daily Total: $5.99

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up, walk the dogs in the park and stop at the bodega on the way home for a bagel. The bodega employees are always really friendly to my dogs when they come in. I really need to get groceries. $1

11 a.m. — I spend my late morning/early afternoon filming a YouTube video. YouTube has always been a hobby of mine. Very non-lucrative, but I’ve been making videos for five years now and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

2 p.m. — At 2, I head to the first of three meetings with a real estate brokerage. I recently got licensed so I’m meeting with a few different brokerages before deciding which one to begin working with. My family does real estate and I have the real estate fever.

7 p.m. — I get home and meet up with my boyfriend who has the evening off. It’s another abnormally pleasant evening so we decide to take the dogs for a long walk. We catch up and chat. On the way home I have an out of nowhere chocolate craving and I stop at By Chloe to grab a vegan donut. $4.90

Daily Total: $5.90

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I get up for work. This is my second week temping as an executive assistant at a film production company. I pack my lunch and get ready before walking the dogs and heading out. I top up my Metrocard for the week ($22) and head to work. $22

1 p.m. — I’m hungry AF so I dive into my lunch at my desk. It’s a black bean quinoa sweet potato stew I made in the crockpot (it’s amazing). I won’t be leaving the office today because no one is here to cover the phones.

4 p.m. — Around 4, I start to get super hungry. My lunch did not do anything to keep me full apparently, so I browse By Chloe’s order online menu, considering ordering some to pick up on the way home… I know it’s not good but I will be packing my lunches for the rest of the week and I have no groceries at home.

7 p.m. — I end up placing an order for a quinoa taco salad and double chocolate chip cookie (important details) towards the end of the workday. I have a $10 off reward so it only costs $7.51. I head out — it’s raining and gross and I’m excited for food. $7.51

7:30 p.m. — I get home to my boyfriend who is watching television. I watch a couple of Youtube videos and eat my salad while he finishes his episode of Schitt’s Creek. We then watch Hachi together (really sad movie) as I eat my cookie and bawl my eyes out. I head to bed shortly after.

Daily Total: $29.51

Day Four

5 a.m. — I must not have eaten enough yesterday because I wake up at 5 a.m. starving. I spend 20 minutes laying in bed trying to regain sleepiness before admitting defeat and getting up. Of course, I’m still out of groceries so I stumble out into the darkness to the 24-hour bodega and purchase two bagels. I get home, toast them, and eat them both with butter before crawling back into bed next to my boyfriend at 6:30 and falling asleep. $2

8:30 a.m. — Up and at ’em. I get ready, walk my dogs, have a minor panic attack because my rain jacket zipper gets stuck and I have to wake up my boyfriend to help me. Eventually, I get it and head out to work.

1 p.m. — I eat my pre-packed lunch at my desk. Today it’s chickpeas, tomatoes, and quinoa in olive oil (a bit strange but that’s what was in my cupboard).

2 p.m. — I remember that I need to order more dry dog food and Huggies wet wipes (we use them to wipe down the dogs’ paws after walking them on grimy NYC streets). I hop on Amazon and place an order. $67.46

4 p.m. — I stop at Duane Reade and grab a pack of dry spaghetti for dinner/lunch for the next couple of days. I live off bagels and pasta. I’m 25 years old and scrappy and it works. $2.49

7 p.m. — I sit on the computer, hungry and thinking of the raw potatoes in my cupboard, and end up on the By Chloe website again. I have $10 off again, so I place an order for another quinoa taco salad, a cold brew, and a double chocolate chip cookie. So healthy. $9.20

8 p.m. — I devour my food at home while watching YouTube videos. I then spend the rest of the night editing my own YouTube video before passing out around 11.

Daily Total: $81.15

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up, get ready and walk the dogs before heading out to work.

11 a.m. — It’s only 11 and I’m already hungry at my desk. I decide to get a coffee during my lunch break. Or maybe… a doughnut? A girl who is interviewing for the position I’m temping for comes in and interviews. It seems to go well and my bosses are laughing far more than they ever have with me. I’m pleased as I’m ready to move on to my next job; I don’t do too well in one place for too long.

2 p.m. — I finally get away for lunch. I stop at a food hall to grab a vegan white chocolate and hazelnut ganache doughnut. Ah, the joys of dietary restrictions in New York City. The options are endless. I eat my black bean, quinoa, and tomato mix I packed with my doughnut. The doughnut is not as good as others I’ve had from the same place but hits the sweet craving. I pray this will fulfill my takeout food quota for the day. $3.50

7 p.m. — It’s the end of the workday and I’ve resisted the urge to place a pick-up order from By Chloe! I am beyond proud of myself. I tell myself I’ll allow myself to have it tomorrow night as a “I’m done with this week and this job” treat if I want it (which I’m sure I will). I go home on a high, excited for my spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and black beans and to see my boyfriend.

8 p.m. — I get home and eat spaghetti. My boyfriend is craving a burger but I can’t afford to spend $20 on one right now. He goes out and gets the new Trader Joe’s meatless patties instead and we talk for a while about our days. I am pretty tired for some reason so I end up going to bed early.

Daily Total: $3.50

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — It’s Friday! I try making an iced coffee but add too much caramel syrup and it ends up tasting artificial. I have to dump it. I get ready and walk the dogs before taking the subway to work.

11 a.m. — At work, my manager asks if I can work next week as well. I wonder what happened to the girl who came in for the interview that seemed to go so well. I tell him I can do Tuesday and Wednesday — I am hoping to shadow a real estate broker next week and it’s also my birthday, which I haven’t had off in years so I don’t want to work the whole week.

12 p.m. — The morning flies by. I am able to help my boyfriend’s coworker (who wants to break into the industry) get a spot on a TV show as a production assistant and that feels good. I also get an email from an audio mixer I worked on a commercial with months ago asking if I want to shadow her tomorrow for a shoot. Would I! It’s a 6 a.m. call time but I am thrilled nonetheless. I’ve been working as an assistant for three years now and have been wanting to move into a more lucrative and less taxing department of production. I’ve decided the sound department is perfect. I have never been more excited to wake up at 5 a.m. on a Saturday.

2 p.m. — I find out the job I got for my boyfriend’s coworker fell through. I’m so disappointed and feel awful because he canceled work that night to work it. I beat myself up internally for bringing this upon him even though its not really my fault. I resolve to find him another job in the coming weeks. I spend the afternoon updating my calendar and moving things around so that I can shadow tomorrow as well as plan next week now that I know I’ll be working here then too. I still have the niggling feeling of being a letdown.

3 p.m. — More bad news! My boyfriend messages me to tell me one of our dogs had an episode at another dog in the street. I was riding on such a high this morning and now it’s going down. I sit at my desk and contemplate.

7 p.m. — On my way out of work, I go back to my old ways of By Chloe pick-up orders and place an order for a taco salad and cookie to pick up on my way home. I am momentarily so excited for tomorrow to be Saturday but remember I am waking up at 5 a.m. tomorrow for a shoot. Oh well, it’s a good kind; I’ve wanted to shadow a sound recordist for ages. $7.51

8 p.m. — I get home with my salad and make an iced coffee to drink while I eat and watch YouTube videos. My favorite pastime!

9 p.m. — I spend some time making a thumbnail for my YouTube video going live tomorrow at 11. I love the process of making videos, and although I don’t get paid for it, I try to take it as seriously as I would a paid job (or maybe even more so). I finish the thumbnail and temporarily go back to making YouTube videos.

10 p.m. — I make some homemade cold brew to steep for this coming week, wash my face and get into bed for my early wakeup tomorrow.

Daily Total: $7.51

Day Seven

5:20 a.m. — I wake up, groggy AF, get up and get ready for today’s shoot. I am so excited to learn more about the audio world. It’s too early to eat or drink anything so I just head straight out.

6 a.m. — I walk across the park and meet up with the sound mixer, J., who lives nearby. She is lovely. I help her load her mixing equipment into the minivan and we drive over to pick up the producers and cameraman before heading over to set, which is in Queens.

8 a.m. — We start shooting and I stay close to J., trying to understand as much as I can about the audio equipment. I learn a bunch of things I didn’t know. It’s so good to see the process of sound recording from start to finish. I watch as she mics the senator and her technique to mounting the mics and hiding them in clothing.

12 p.m. — The producer kindly pays for my lunch even though I’m not part of the official crew. I get an avocado and tomato bagel at a nearby deli.

2 p.m. — Everyone takes the van to the location. There’s not enough room for me so the producer pays for my Uber to the next location.

5 p.m. — We wrap! I ride back in the van with J. to our neighborhood and help her unload her equipment and bring it back to her apartment. I am so grateful to have had this experience.

6 p.m. — I walk back home through the park and walk my dogs. It’s been a long day and I’m ready to spend the rest of the evening chilling in bed. I haven’t had time to get any groceries (still, I know). I order a salad and cookie from By Chloe again like a fiend. So sue me! $7.51

7 p.m. — I eat my salad while watching some mindless YouTube videos. My favorite. I then firm up my goals and what I want to achieve next week (I do this every Saturday to make sure I’m on track with everything I want to achieve for the year). I achieved 85% of my goals this week. I then veg out while watching Riding in Cars With Boys, one of my favorite films of my teen years with Drew Barrymore. It’s been a productive week and I’m proud of myself for getting through it! Over and out.

Daily Total: $7.51

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