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A Week In New York, NY, On A $40,000 Salary

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Welcome to Money 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: an Editorial Assistant who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a serum from The Ordinary.

TW: This diary mentions an eating disorder.

Occupation: Editorial Assistant
Industry: Magazine Publishing
Age: 23
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $40,000 + overtime (additional income: Part-time job (biweekly): $150 Freelance income: ~$300/month)
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,100
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,082 (in a three-bedroom apartment with two roommates)
Student Loans: $150
Utilities: $80
Health Insurance: $120
401(k): $25/paycheck (will boost once I get more in savings)
Roth IRA: $50 ($3,000 saved)
Hulu: $5
HBO: $8 (split with roommate)
Netflix/Spotify: $0 (family plan)
Gym Membership: $0 (it pays to have a part-time job at a high-end gym)
ClassPass: $49
Savings: $100/paycheck
Nuuly: $88




















Day One

8:45 a.m. — I wake up in my childhood bedroom (I’m visiting my parents for the weekend) after a long sleep. I head downstairs to make some coffee and end up arguing with mom about why we shouldn’t make buttermilk waffles with almond milk. Dad tries to stay out of it. We watch our favorite Sunday morning show on CBS while we eat, and Laura Dern has a segment!!! I ask (read: beg) my mom if she wants to see Little Women again this weekend — we saw it when I came home for Christmas — because it was truly one of the most marvelous movies I’ve seen in ages. I think I loved it so much because I’m an only child and have always dreamed of having sisters. Mom says no. I decide to see the movie again by myself this afternoon.

12:15 p.m. — I throw on a hoodie and jeans to go to the movies. I get to the theater, flash my student ID (I graduated in May but I’m going to try to milk these student discounts as long as I can), and get the student matinee price. Score. I brought along my water bottle and some snacks from home so I don’t have to buy anything. I cry through the whole movie because it’s just so splendid and because Timothee Chalamet’s jawline cuts right through my heart. $12.50

3 p.m. — The theater is in a shopping center with Ulta, so I pop in because I’ve been meaning to try some of The Ordinary’s products. All of the beauty groups I’m in on Facebook rave about the brand. I have PCOS and recently went off the pill because it messed with my mental health, but now my hormonal acne is back. Honestly, I’d rather have the acne than no emotions. I make a beeline for the Ordinary section and purchase the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% as well as the Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%. $14.62

4 p.m. — Mom and I go for a nice walk around the neighborhood. It snowed yesterday, so the trails are a bit precarious, but both of us need some fresh air. I would’ve gone to the gym, but I got a deep tissue massage yesterday with mom and I’m not ~quite~ ready to undo all the work my massage therapist did. Plus, since I live in NYC, I don’t ever get enough time in nature. When we get back, I’m cold to the bone, so I treat myself to a bath. Compared to my grungy, cramped Brooklyn tub, the one at my parents’ is like a spiritual oasis. I add some eucalyptus and pine bath salts, light a few candles, grab my book, and descend into the steamy water.

7 p.m. — After soaking, exfoliating, shaving, and lotioning, I help my parents cook dinner. We have baked chicken with parmesan, sauteed asparagus, and roasted baby potatoes. Home-cooked food is always delicious. Afterward, we chow down on some Thin Mints (thank GOD for Girl Scout season) and settle in our cozy basement to cuddle with our aging pets and watch Eat, Pray, Love. Naturally, Dad falls asleep.

10 p.m. — My office is closed for the holiday tomorrow, so I get an extra night in my comfy hometown bed. Before I snooze, I do my nighttime skincare routine: CeraVe cleanser, Glow Recipe’s vitamin C serum (I rotate serums weekly), CeraVe PM moisturizer, and OleHenrikson Banana Bright eye cream. I decide to patch test my new The Ordinary products to make sure I don’t have any weird reactions. I apply Rogaine (ugh, PCOS problems) and turn on my essential oil diffuser. I answer a few texts and do one final social media check. Tomorrow, it’s back to Brooklyn.

Daily Total: $27.12

Day Two

8 a.m. — I have to catch a train back to New York this morning, so I’m up and at ‘em pretty early. Still later than I would have to get up for work, though! I down some coffee and Kashi cereal, say good morning to our pets, and do my morning routine. I take a shower and put on a black long sleeve tee from Zara, Outdoor Voices leggings, and my Docs. Mom is sweet enough to drive me to the station, and we listen to my carefully curated Spotify playlist on the way. We have the same taste in music, but I wish we had more heart-to-hearts. She’s not a good listener, so I usually go to my dad. At least we have music.

10:30 a.m. — On the train! I buy a ticket on the app and pull out my book. My best friend, V. (whom I’m in love with…*sigh*), and I mail books to each other since he lives far away, so I’m reading his latest pick. It’s good, but quite cerebral — it’s all about how technology has skewed our perception of time. I’m going to try and finish it before he visits later this week so we can discuss! $16.75

12:30 p.m. — Just got back to my apartment. Luckily, I live right off a main subway station, so it’s not too difficult to get anywhere. I hop on my computer to order some more La Colombe coffee since I’m running out ($18), and then I place my grocery order for delivery later this afternoon. Say what you will about conveniences like that, but getting my groceries delivered has saved me some serious $$$, since I tend to browse all the aisles in the store and purchase unnecessary food I would otherwise not buy. I just wish the packaging wasn’t so wasteful. This week I get hummus, pita, Greek yogurt, granola, oat milk, cereal, a smattering of veggies, a few apples, popcorn, eggs, strawberries, dried mango, and, as a treat, organic pizza rolls. $90.16

1:30 p.m. — Time to clean! I live in a tiny three-bedroom apartment so it doesn’t take too long. However, my bedroom is massive by New York standards. Our apartment is settled along a main street, but I went to college in a big city, so I’m used to the noise. I sweep the floors and wipe down our kitchen and bathroom. I’m the only one who cleans, but I don’t mind. Cleaning is cathartic and, because I’m a Virgo, I probably wouldn’t find my roommates’ scrubbing up-to-par anyways, haha. Both of my roommates are sweethearts and we get along well, but one has crippling anxiety and the other is bulimic, so things can get difficult. I’m in recovery from an eating disorder, so I can relate to both girls in different ways, and do my best to always be loving and helpful.

4:15 p.m. — I have a HIIT class in Union Square at 5, so I hop on the subway now. I always make sure to leave early enough so MTA has room to mess up. I get to Union Square super early, so I pop in a used bookstore to kill some time. I end up buying Love in the Time of Cholera, Call Me By Your Name, and The Immortalists. I walk around the corner to the studio and get my sweat on… until about halfway through when I dislocate my knee (this happens sometimes). A massively swole trainer scoops me up in what is the most romantic gesture I have ever encountered and carries me out of the studio. I get some ice and leave before the class is over because I’m embarrassed AF and don’t want anyone to see me. $39.19

7 p.m. — Home! I shower and try on all of my Nuuly clothing rentals from this month. I can work with these! I decide to eat the pizza rolls for dinner tonight, along with some snap peas and dried mango. I ice my knee while I eat and call one of my best friends from college, K., for our weekly check-in. He’s working in Massachusetts and I haven’t seen him in a while. We chat for an hour and a half before I tell him I need to get ready for work tomorrow.

9:30 p.m. — I have a cycling class before work tomorrow, so I get all of my clothes and toiletries ready in my gym bag. While I pack my lunch, I listen to meditative music and it gets me ready for sleep. I add some essential oil drops to my Saje diffuser and do my nightly skincare. I didn’t have a weird reaction to The Ordinary products, so I’ll use the Niacinamide + Zinc as my serum this week. I set my alarm for 5:30 a.m. (back to the real world), hit the lights, and turn on Parks and Rec to lull me to sleep.

Daily Total: $146.10

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Uh, eff this. I haven’t done an early morning workout in weeks and it’s so COZY in my bed. Just five more minutes — NO. I have to get up. I will get up.

5:50 a.m. — Okay, I’m up. My bed is made and my room is tidy for when I come home tonight. I start boiling water for my French press (if you can do a morning workout without coffee or breakfast, I salute you) while I wipe my face with Odacité Cleansing Water. I got it for free (perks of working in the magazine industry), but it retails for $80. Honestly, it’s nothing special. I prepare my coffee and have a bowl of off-brand Frosted Flakes with some strawberries and oat milk. After I finish eating and reading the morning news, I put on my workout clothes, throw my hair into a ponytail, brush my teeth, and by 6:30 I’m outta here.

8:15 a.m. — Class was great, despite my knee injury! My friend B. taught. We met when we both auditioned to become cycling instructors! The gym is right next to my office, so I can take my time getting ready. I take a body shower and do my morning skincare: CeraVe cleanser, a spritz of face mist, the Ordinary Niacinamide + Zinc, and Dr. Jart V7 Priming Moisturizer. I use Bumble and Bumble Pret-â-Powder on my second-day hair. My outfit of choice is a pair of flowy plaid trousers from my Nuuly subscription and a fitted maroon turtleneck. Shiv Roy would be so proud. I finish my look with my statement black headband a la Blair Waldorf, thin gold hoops, gold rings, and slip-on black loafers.

9:10 a.m. — Make it to my desk. I’m the editorial assistant to the editor-in-chief of a major magazine — it’s my first full-time job out of college and I got so lucky. My boss is incredible; she gives me freedom to work across teams. I work heavily on social and commerce, and I’m finally starting to write. I start munching on the mulberry overnight oats I got in a Daily Harvest box a few weeks back while I check all of the magazine’s email inboxes and send out the team calendar.

2 p.m. — Time for lunch! It’s been a busy morning of meetings. I got a PR package from a weed company and they gifted me aphrodisiac edibles. Will keep you updated on that when V. comes on Thursday ;). For lunch today I packed hummus, whole wheat pita, an apple, carrots, and snap peas. While I eat, I read a few longform articles from The New Yorker to give my brain a break.

6 p.m. — Done for the day! I take the subway over to Union Square for my Brazilian sugaring appointment at 7. It’s my first time getting a Brazilian, so I’m terrified, but I’m tired of shaving so I’m going to suck it up. I get there early, so I order a burrito bowl at Dos Toros ($11.52) and regret it immediately. After eating half of my food, I head over to the sugaring studio. It hurts a LOT, and my Bermuda Triangle is uneven, but you know what? I’m still gonna tip 20% ($73.46). $84.98

8 p.m. — Finally home and my vagina is burning (I still have bite marks on my hand). I put some Fur oil on and attempt to forget about it by shoving two Girl Scout cookies in my mouth. *Sigh* I have to run to the laundromat a few blocks away because my laundry basket is overflowing. I take my book along for entertainment. I’m short one dollar, so the owner lends me what I need. I make a note to pay him back this weekend. $6.50

10 p.m. — It has been such a long day; I’m excited to wind down for the night. I fold my laundry, pack a lunch for tomorrow, and turn on my diffuser. I do my usual PM skincare routine and finally collapse into bed. I turn on John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch for a laugh before sleep, and end up with the song “Plain Plate Of Noodles” stuck in my head.

Daily Total: $91.48

Day Four

6:50 a.m. — Ughhhh I’m so tired today. I make my bed, tidy up my room, and get some water boiling for my coffee. I was going to be ambitious and make an egg sandwich for breakfast, but I’m tired, so off-brand cereal it is. I take a shower and quickly get ready for work because I have a 10 a.m. deadline on a story that I’m nowhere near finished with. I put on a white sweater with fun bell sleeves from my Nuuly, black frayed ankle jeans, and my Docs. I get to the subway station and remember that I have to refill my weekly MetroCard. $33

10 a.m. — Get to work in 20 minutes and don’t even break a sweat, and I manage to finish my story on time… will wonders never cease? Since I have some time before my team’s pitch meeting, I eat my second breakfast of Greek yogurt and granola and do my daily task of updating the magazine’s homepage and checking our inboxes.

2 p.m. — Lunchtime! I’m eating the same thing as yesterday (I value routine okay???). I realize that I didn’t come up with a new playlist for this week’s cycling class, so I spend my lunch planning it out. Normally, I’m into indie, folk-rock music, but when it comes to workouts, I’m all about bass-thumping hip-hop and EDM.

5:30 p.m. — Leaving a little early today because I have an event at 6 in the East Village. My best friend L., who works at a different magazine, is going too! The event is a panel of astrologists discussing what the new decade has in store for us. I think astrology is interesting, but I’m no devout believer. This event is on a rooftop and I think there’s food and drinks, so I’m excited.

7 p.m. — HAHA. Welp, we get there and there is no food at all, and the drinks are $17. At a PR event! Wild. L. and I bolt as soon as the astrologists start arguing with each other (yikes) and walk to The Smith. We met last summer when we were roommates for an internship program and became fast friends. We frequented The Smith and it feels wonderfully nostalgic to be back. I order a gin spritz and a kale salad, and she orders apple cider with bourbon and some gnocchi. We split an apple cider churro waffle, because why wouldn’t we ($42.68)? We use the fun photo booth in The Smith’s basement before we head out. The glowing marquee of Trader Joe’s entices us, so L. gets wine and I get more dried mango and a jar of crunchy cookie butter ($9.67). We part ways at the station. Tonight feels extremely New York. $52.35

9:30 p.m. — Home at last! I clean up the apartment a bit because V. comes tomorrow and I’m a clean freak. I notice that my nails look absolutely horrendous, so I paint them with my favorite gold polish from Alice & Olivia. I have a hot yoga class tomorrow morning before work, so I pack up my clothes, toiletries, and my yoga mat so I don’t have to pay extra to rent one. Before sleep, I wash my dishes that have been piling up (my bad roommate trait) and do my skincare.

Daily Total: $85.35

Day Five

5:50 a.m. — Do I reaaaaaally want to go to yoga this morning? No. But do I want to pay the $15 late cancel fee? Also no. I crawl out of bed and turn on my heater for the first time this week (utilities are expensive, okay?) because I can’t feel my face. I make my bed and make sure my room is spotless because V. will be with me when I get home tonight (!!!). I make coffee and eat some cereal and strawberries while I get stuck in a Twitter hole. I wipe my face with cleansing water, throw on my yoga clothes and moccasins, and I’m out the door.

8:30 a.m. — Class was sooooo good. I’m always glad when I go, even though sometimes it can be tough to get out of bed. I shower at the studio and put on a black button-down midi dress with heeled suede booties and tights. I take a look at my boots and they’re a mess. They’re my old party shoes from college, and you can absolutely tell they’ve frequented many a bar and shoddy fraternity. I grab a Sharpie from my backpack and fill in all the scuffs, mildly ashamed that I’ve stooped to this level.

9:30 a.m. — Make it to the office! I realize that I forgot my breakfast at home, but I don’t want to spend more money on food, so I grab a pack of blueberry BelVita biscuits from the snack bar. They kind of taste like sand, but they’ll suffice. I make a reservation for Eataly tonight because I know V. likes Italian, and then I get to work.

2:45 p.m. — I’m so freaking hungry, but I don’t want to buy food. And I’ve already raided the snack bar again to get more carbs. Plus, V. and I are going to dinner at 6:30 so what’s the point? I decide to just get a large oat milk latte at Pret because what could go wrong????? (Reader, a lot.) I use my Venmo balance because it’s not real money, haha ($7.50).

6:15 p.m. — I do my makeup in the work bathroom so that I look #fresh. My hands are shaking from the combination of caffeine and nerves… not ideal when you’re doing winged eyeliner. The last time I saw V. was the first time we slept together (and my first time… ever), so I have zero idea what to expect. Once I’m done beating my face, I gotta say, I look kinda fire. He texts and says he’s close so I head down, AirPods in so I look nonchalant and casual, and greet him. Holy shit he’s so cute!!! We hug and I’m literally shaking so hard. WHY did I get that coffee. We chat about his flight and his day in the city while we walk to Eataly. Once we sit down, I get a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and a Margherita pizza and he goes for a beer and cacio e pepe. I tell him I’m paying for dinner because he’s currently unemployed. My mom calls me, I pick up and tell her that I’m at dinner with V. “Ooooooooh,” she says.

8 p.m. — We’re wrapping up our meal. Conversation has actually been shared equally, which isn’t the norm. V. and I met in the dorms during our freshman year of college and became very close. He transferred after that year, but we stayed close friends and saw each other occasionally. After four years of sexual tension, we finally hooked up last spring, and since then we’ve been FWB. He takes advantage of my kindness and generosity, but I know he cares about me deep down, so I just let it happen. Also, the benefits are good. After we slept together in October, he went back to grad school and immediately started dating someone. It shattered my heart. They broke up quickly and of course, I was emotionally available to bear the burden of his pain, so I swallowed my hurt. I still love him, because he’s a good listener and friend (and he’s gorgeous), so here we are. $91.21

9:30 p.m. — We’re back at my apartment! V. takes a shower, so I pack my lunch for tomorrow and get all my clothes laid out for work and my cycling class. I know I won’t feel like doing it in the morning. He comes out of the bathroom and flirts with me a little, talking about how he’s been working out. He’s still skinny and I could out-squat him no problem, but he definitely looks good. He grabs my guitar and plays me some new songs he’s been working on. I want to rip his clothes off. He cracks open a beer and I sip on a black cherry White Claw. I show him the aphrodisiac edibles I got this week, and he cracks up. He doesn’t think they’ll work, so he eats one. I’m too scared to try one because I think they will work and I’ve been drinking. We lay on my bed and talk for a while about my roommates, the human experience, and his plans to hike the PCT next month. He lets it slip that he’s hooked up with multiple other people since he broke up with that girl. I pretend I don’t hear it.

11:30 p.m. — Reader, the edibles worked. Think Viagra, but weed. I sort of regret not taking one, but he always makes me come so it’s not an issue… oooop. I tell him I don’t want to have sex (because I don’t want to give him the satisfaction). He says that’s okay, and of course we manage to find plenty of other ways to experiment. After we finish, I grab his face and tell him I missed him, and that’s the closest I’ll get to saying “I love you.” We fall asleep around 3 a.m.

Daily Total: $91.21

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. V. rolls over and doesn’t let me get out of bed. We cuddle for a while. It feels so good to be held.

7:30 a.m. — Crap, I’m going to be late for work. I finally wriggle out of his warm embrace and make us some coffee. I take a body shower and when I get back, he’s still passed out. I throw on some purple corduroy pants that make my butt look phenomenal and a white bralette. I’ll add a shirt before I leave, but for now I want V. to see me like this. I put on some makeup.

8:15 a.m. — V. is up and he looks all sleepy cute. He asks when I have to leave. In 30 minutes. I crawl back into bed and he kisses me. He tastes like coffee. Once we start kissing, we both know I’m not going anywhere. We hook up and by the time we’re done, it’s 9:30. EFF. I put my clothes back on and fix my disheveled hair. He has to catch a train upstate early this afternoon, so I tell him he can stay at my place until then. I give him a huge hug and we kiss. He says, “I’ll see you when I see you.” I want to cry.

10:15 a.m. — I make it to the office, sweaty and flushed. “Train delays are crazy,” I say, fully aware that I’m the worst employee in the world. I get right to work on my tasks. Today is busy, so I try to push V. out of my mind and focus on my job. L. texts me and asks how everything went last night, and I get in my feels. I snap out of it quickly because I have things to do.

1 p.m. — I eat my same old, same old lunch while I work. Somehow I manage to cross everything except one assignment off my to-do list. I finish up my cycling class program for later today and make a note to take my work computer home so I can get ahead over the weekend.

4:30 p.m. — I head out early every Friday to make it to my class in Brooklyn by 5. Thankfully, my bosses fully encourage me as a fitness instructor and don’t mind me leaving early once a week. I still feel so guilty about this morning. I get to the gym, change, and set up the studio. I have a mostly full class today, but my energy is a little off and I’m exhausted (thanks, V.), so it doesn’t go quite as well as I’d wished. Everyone left sweaty, though!

6:30 p.m. — I get home and walk into my bedroom and it’s a mess. V. didn’t even bother to make my bed before he left. That’s kind of rude, right? I take a body shower, turn on Succession, and eat dried mango and popcorn for dinner. My parents FaceTime me and we talk for 30 minutes. I miss them.

8:30 p.m. — A cute guy, Y., and I have been texting on and off for the past few weeks. We’ve been social media friends for years, but we’ve never met in person due to the fact that he lives halfway across the country. A few weeks ago, I was tipsy and sent him a flirty DM. We exchanged numbers and had a “FaceTime date” that went surprisingly well. He texted me tonight asking if the last weekend in February would be a good time for him to visit me for the first time. I get butterflies. Yes!! I know that things with V. will never advance past our current situation, due to his emotional unavailability and the fact that we’d make an awful couple, so I’m trying to move on.

9 p.m. — I can hardly keep my eyes open. I do my skincare routine, hop into bed, and fall asleep almost immediately.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Wow, I slept so hard. I didn’t even move for 12 hours. I realize that yesterday was payday and my checks from my full-time job and my fitness instructing job just got deposited to my account. I also get a check from a few freelance articles I wrote in December. Hallelujah!!! I transfer $100 to my savings account, pay my student loan payment for the month, and have my dad take $200 out of the freelance check for tax purposes. I check my email and see that an editor for a publication I regularly contribute to has assigned me another fun article to write. I graciously accept.

9:45 a.m. — I make some coffee and start preparing breakfast. I scramble two eggs with spinach and put an English muffin in the toaster for an open-faced breakfast sandwich. I cut up strawberries and chow down while I watch more Succession. Since I went to bed so early, I wake up to nine texts, a bunch of DMs, and four Snapchats, so I reply to everyone. I make plans with my good friend, D., for next week; she just started a new job at the company we interned at together and I can’t wait to hear about how it’s going. All of the DMs are from a pre-cycling class mirror pic I posted to my Instagram story. Everyone wants to know where my sports bra is from. Lululemon; it’s the Enlite bra. My DDs swear by it.

11 a.m. — I snuggle up in my chair and watch more Succession. I made plans with L. to see her new apartment tonight. My fellow cycling instructor friend, H., texts me and invites me over for a gathering he’s having at his new apartment tomorrow night. It’ll be a great opportunity to meet more people from the gym I work for (I just started at the beginning of this month), so I agree to go. My best friend from high school, N., texts me and we catch up for a long time. She just got the lead in her college’s musical this semester. She’s hilarious and empathetic and we share what feels like thousands of inside jokes.

1 p.m. — V. texts me. He thinks he pulled a few muscles from the edible. I crack up. We agree that it was worth it. I finally get out of my comfy chair to do my weekly check-up on my plants. I have almost 20 lined up along my window sills, and every weekend I spend time tending to them. It feels nice to nurture something other than myself. Afterward, I set up my magnifying mirror for my weekly eyebrow shape-up. I take serious pride in my brows and tweeze them meticulously. I realize that it’s becoming noticeable how much hair I’ve lost in the past few months. I’ve never, ever been confident in my appearance, and this hair loss has made everything considerably worse. Ugh. Every day I hope it’s just temporary.

5:30 p.m. — L.’s oven isn’t working, so we can’t cook together. I shower and put on my favorite sage sweatpants and a long sleeve tee; I don’t even bother with makeup. I have a discount on Uber, so I treat myself since it would take me 45 minutes by subway. When I arrive, L.’s stepbrother, G., is there. He’s nice, so of course I don’t mind. We help L. put together a few more things in her apartment. $11.25

7:15 p.m. — We order two pizzas, a kale salad, and some roasted squash on Caviar. G. offers to go halfsies with the payment, and as much as I would like to front the whole bill, I swallow my pride and accept. It’s not like I’m rolling in cash. Once the food arrives, L. pours us glasses of cabernet sauvignon and we sit on her floor and play Truth or Drink. We talk and laugh for hours. I used to be so uncomfortable when I would visit with friends and there were unfamiliar people there, but now I actually enjoy it. I’m an introvert, but as I’ve grown into myself, I’m realizing how beautiful being around other people can be, even if it’s a little scary sometimes. $35.13

12 a.m. — I’ve exhausted my social tank for the day, and I have a HIIT class tomorrow that I don’t want to be sleepy for, so it’s time I head out. I give L. a big squeeze and call my Uber back home. Once I arrive, I put on a Dr. Jart+ hydrating sheet mask and finish the episode of Succession I started this morning. I do the rest of my skincare and crawl into bed. What a freakin’ week, man. $10.80

Daily Total: $57.18

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