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 production assistant who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Juneshine.
Occupation: Production Assistant
Location: New York, NY
Net Worth: $129,000 ($40,000 in 401(k) + $66,000 in savings account + $21,000 in investment account + $2,000 in checking acount)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,504
Rent: $1,625 (includes heat + water)
Renter’s Insurance: $13.50
HBO Max: $14.99
Amazon Prime: $99/year
FSA: $76.92 (pre-tax)
Health Insurance: $146 (pre-tax)
Dental Insurance: $8 (pre-tax)
Vision Insurance: $6 (pre-tax)
Monthly Metrocard: $127 (pre-tax)
Cell Phone: $0 (still on my parents plan)
St. Jude Donation: $20
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?
Growing up it was pretty much assumed we (my sisters and me) would go to college. My mom never went to college and she always told us it is one of her biggest regrets in life. I am very lucky that my dad is such a hard worker and was able to fully finance my college education. I graduated with no debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I don’t recall many conversations surrounding money, but I do remember every week sitting with my dad at the kitchen table while he would look through all the grocery store circulars and clip coupons. He also always instilled in us the importance of paying off your credit card in full every month. that’s one piece of advice I live by to this day.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Technically, my first job was babysitting for neighbors when I was 13. My first job that gave me a real paycheck was as a cashier at a local grocery store when I was 16.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No. We always had everything we needed and went on vacations a few times a year. As I’ve gotten older, my parents have been more open about how they actually did struggle with money in the beginning of their marriage. They did a good job of shielding us from worrying about money as kids.
Do you worry about money now?
Not really. If anything I worry about the rising cost of living while being in an extremely HCOL area. I’m not sure how long my current salary will be sustainable.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
25. I got the job I have now and moved out of my parents’ house. If anything were to happen I know my parents would help me out.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Last year, my dad gifted my sisters and me $40,000 each to put towards investing and various life endeavors. I invested some of it and also used some towards medical bills I had accrued due to my ongoing PCOS/endometriosis.
8:30 a.m. — I wake up and stay in bed for an hour lazing around. I finally get up, make coffee, and eat a granola bar while watching The Office.
10:30 a.m. — I realize my mom’s birthday is next week so I text my sisters to see if they have any gift ideas. I mention she might like a wine chiller and my sisters agree. I find a nice marble and wood one that can be monogrammed and order it. The total cost is $99, but my sisters Venmo their portion right away ($33). In the spirit of gifting, I also remember I’ve been meaning to send a gift card to a friend who just had a baby. I decide to go with Uber Eats since it can be used for restaurants or groceries, and I don’t really know what they need most right now ($50). $83
11:45 a.m. — I head out and go downtown to check out an Ulla Johnson sample sale in SoHo. It’s the second to last day of the sale and, unfortunately, there’s not much left. I look around and try on one top but I’m not crazy about it. I leave empty-handed. I go to Little Cupcake Bakeshop and treat myself to a blueberry muffin and a slice of funfetti cake to save for later. $12
2 p.m. — On my way home, I stop at Whole Foods. I grab grapes, cauliflower, frozen blueberries, tortilla chips, turkey, chicken strips, and a can of JuneShine. $45.44
5:30 p.m. — I had tentative plans to go on a date, but I haven’t heard from the guy. I send a quick message asking if we’re still on and he asks if we can reschedule (with no mention of when to reschedule). I take it as he’s not interested, which I’m fine with because I don’t really feel like going out tonight anyway. I’ve been wanting to get my nails done, so I figure now’s a good time. I just moved to this neighborhood a few months ago and I haven’t found my mani/pedi spot yet. I choose a random one on Google Maps and as soon as I walk in, I feel like I made the right choice. It’s spacious, clean, and doesn’t seem to be that busy for this time of day. I get a regular manicure and pedicure plus they charge extra to take off the gel that was left on my nails. I tip $10. $57.02
7 p.m. — Back home, I heat up chicken strips and have a little bit of the cake slice. I watch the rest of season one of Ted Lasso then put on a the second Fear Street movie on Netflix. It’s cheesy, but I love it. I’m a glutton for anything horror-related.
10 p.m. — I get ready for bed. Shower, wash face, apply Biossance lactic acid night serum and Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide moisturizer. I take my meds, read for a little bit, then lights out.
Daily Total: $197.46
8:30 a.m. — I wake up and get out of bed. I want to go to the beach today, but I have some apartment stuff to do first. I make coffee and eat a Kind bar, then change the sheets on my bed. I’ll be thanking myself later for doing that now.
11:30 a.m. — After a little more cleaning and a phone call with my mom, I pack up my beach bag with grapes, water, and the can of JuneShine I bought yesterday and head out to Coney Island. It’s not the best beach, but it’s a straight shot on the train and I don’t plan on going in the water.
1 p.m. — I walk around the boardwalk for a little bit and decide on a place for lunch. I get a grilled chicken sandwich, fries, and soda ($14.16). I decide it’s easier to eat at a table on the boardwalk instead of the beach, so I eat first before heading down to the sand. Despite what people say about this place, I always enjoy the carnival-like ambiance. It’s nice being back after not visiting at all last summer. I finish my food and set myself up on the beach. I douse myself in a generous amount of sunscreen and practically starfish on my blanket, letting my body bask in the sun. I alternate between napping and reading for a few hours. $14.16
4:30 p.m. — I’m officially covered head to toe in sand and figure it’s about as good a time as any to pack up and head home. On my way back to the subway, I pass by a candy store and can’t resist. I make a bag of gummies for myself and a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans to bring to a friend I’m seeing tomorrow. I’m very aware of how overpriced these stores are, but it’s not a frequent purchase so I don’t mind. $22.94
6 p.m. — I get home and shower. I have a feeling I’m still going to be finding sand in odd places for the next few days. I chop up cauliflower and toss it in flour and garlic powder. I pop it in the oven for 20 minutes then pour buffalo sauce over it. I make a plate with turkey and cauliflower and eat while watching Just Go With It. I go to eat the rest of the cake from yesterday, but it’s already super stale so into the trash it goes. That’s a disappointment.
10 p.m. — Usual nighttime face routine and reading in bed.
Daily Total: $37.10
7 a.m. — Ughhhhhh, Monday. My alarm goes off, but I have no intention of getting out of bed anytime soon.
7:45 a.m. — I’m finally out of bed. I brush my teeth and move on to my morning routine, which consists of witch hazel toner, Kate Somerville Recovery serum, Beekman 1802 vitamin C serum, and Dr. Brandt Liquid Sun Shield SPF 50 sunscreen. While all that settles into my skin, I get dressed, throw my hair into a ponytail, and then start on makeup. I do Saie’s bronzing drops, Tarte blush, and Kosas mascara. I head to the subway around 8:30.
9 a.m. — I stop at Starbucks first for a grande iced coffee before getting to the office. I pay with my Starbucks card that already has money pre-loaded on it from last week. Despite taking my time, I’m still a sweaty mess by the time I get to my desk. I turn my computer on and am surprised by the lack of emails. These are the kinds of days I wish we had the flexibility to work from home. Our CEO is vehemently against any type of work from home (despite being non-essential workers and being able to fully do our jobs remotely). We started back in the office part-time last June and have been back full-time since September 2020. Plenty of people in the office ended up getting Covid once we came back, but the company would not budge on the work from home issue. This has really left me with a sour view of the company and I have since been looking for other job opportunities.
10 a.m. — Although it’s only Monday, I decide to remind my dad about ordering cupcakes for my mom’s birthday this weekend. I tell him I’ll place the order and he just has to go pick them up, which he is more than happy to do. I order a dozen from a specialty cupcake shop my mom loves. My dad pays.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I brought lunch from home (leftover turkey and buffalo cauliflower), but I also reserved a salad through Mealpal to have for dinner later. I go pick up my salad and throw it in the refrigerator.
5:30 p.m. — Work day is over! I grab my salad and head over to my friend K.’s apartment. K. is one of my best friends from college and up until three months ago we lived together. When our lease was up, we decided as single girls in our 30s we should move on to getting our own places, but we still try to get together as much as possible for Bachelor Mondays (in this case Bachelor in Paradise). I bring her the chocolate-covered espresso beans and we spend the next few hours eating, drinking wine, and rolling our eyes over the “extra-ness” of these contestants.
10 p.m. — The show is over and I don’t feel like dealing with the subway at this time of night, so I call an Uber. I get home in about 20 minutes, which makes the cost so worth it. I tip 20% on the ride. I take a quick shower, do my nightly routine, and hop in bed. $25.30
Daily Total: $25.30
7 a.m. — Wake up, get up, morning skin routine, and out the door by 8:30.
9 a.m. — Starbucks grande iced coffee in hand (paid for with my pre-loaded card), I arrive at the office for what I assume will be another uneventful day.
10 a.m. — One of my co-workers comes over to my desk and asks if I have some time for her to show me how to place purchase orders. I’ve been in an assistant role for five years now. I’ve brought up the opportunity to transition into a new role with my manager, but she’s never been able to give me a straight answer. This is another reason why I’m looking for other jobs. In the meantime, while I’m still here, I really want to take advantage of learning as much as possible.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! Today I have a Chick-fil-A meal reserved through Mealpal. It’s their grilled chicken sandwich, fries, and a soft drink. I try not to get this too often but I didn’t see anything else available today that I liked.
2 p.m. — During a quick scroll through Instagram, I see a local brewery in my hometown has announced their annual Oktoberfest event. I text a couple of friends to see if they want to go and buy tickets. K. is in, so I buy her ticket with mine and she Venmos me. Ticket price is $25 + tax, but includes a beer stein and two drinks. Sounds like fun! $28.16
6 p.m. — Get home from work and see that my meals from Evolve arrived! I ordered and paid for these two weeks ago but the shipment got messed up so this is my replacement order. I really hope these are good since it would be so convenient for nights (or weeks) when I don’t want to cook. I start off with the turkey meatball pesto bowl. It’s not terrible but tastes a little too salty. I eat most of it but don’t think I’ll re-order it.
7:30 p.m. — I almost forgot I have a Capsule delivery scheduled for today (in monthly expenses); luckily, they send a text reminder when the courier is on their way. I used to always get my prescriptions from Duane Reade near my office but when the shutdown happened, one of my doctors recommended Capsule and I’ve been using it ever since. The courier calls when they’re outside my building and I go down to meet them.
10 p.m. — The rest of the night is spent flipping through the channels, reading, nighttime skin routine, and then bed.
Daily Total: $28.16
7 a.m. — I wake up, get up earlier than usual so I can straighten my hair, do my morning skin routine, and am out the door by 8:30.
9 a.m. — Get my usual grande iced coffee on my way into work and dive into emails while snacking on a Kind bar and blueberries. I spend most of the morning reaching out to our sales and planning teams asking them to communicate any customer-specific requirements I should know about. The bulk of my job centers around approving the ticketing and labeling of products before they are shipped from our factories overseas. This includes reviewing price stickers, care labels, and assuring the cartons have the correct quantities and style information.
12:30 p.m. — I have one of my Evolve meals for lunch. The one I brought with me today is blackened chicken with almonds and carrot sticks. I’m surprised at how much I like it.
6 p.m. — I walk into my building and see that my order from the Nordstrom Anniversary sale arrived! As excited as I am to tear into it, I’m also hungry so dinner is first priority. I throw another Evolve meal into the microwave, tonight it’s sirloin tips and green beans. This one is much better than last night’s. I finish and get right into opening my package. I actually had no intention of shopping the sale, but I got an email alerting me when it was the last day so I decided to look. As it turns out, my favorite Nest scents (grapefruit, bamboo, and Sicilian tangerine) were available in both diffusers and candles so I got one of each set. I also splurged a little bit on a small black leather Longchamp bag, which I immediately love! And then I notice it still has the security tag on it. I’m assuming this was sent from a Nordstrom store rather than their warehouse. I call customer service and they tell me as long as I have proof of purchase, I can bring it to my local Nordstrom Rack to have it removed.
7:30 p.m. — I finally start laundry that I’ve been putting off for the past few days. But, at least I no longer have to go to a laundromat! Having laundry right in the building has been so convenient. I pay for the laundry with a prepaid card. While that’s going, I start watching The White Lotus. In between switching over the laundry and waiting for it to dry, I get through the first two episodes. Not sure how I feel about it, but I’ll keep watching.
11 p.m. — I will never understand how laundry becomes a three-hour ordeal. I finish folding and putting everything away. Then it’s shower, nighttime skin routine, reading, and bed.
Daily Total: $0
7 a.m. — The usual.
9 a.m. — Starbucks grande iced coffee, emails, and a fig bar for breakfast.
12 p.m. — Tomorrow is my co-worker’s last day so today my team is taking him out for lunch. We go to a burger place down the street from the office. It’s always interesting to be with co-workers outside of the office because I feel like you get a different sense of everyone’s personalities, especially when we’re not in work mode. We all order various burgers and three different types of fries to share. When the bill comes we split it evenly. $30
5:45 p.m. — The rest of the day crawls by. I leave work around 5:30 and head out for my eyebrow wax appointment I have scheduled for 5:45. Even though it’s kind of painful, I still find the experience relaxing. I bought a package for 12 waxes last month, so today’s wax has already been paid for. The package doesn’t include tip, so when I go to check out I have them charge $5 to my card on file. $5
6:15 p.m. — After my eyebrow appointment I walk over to Nordstrom Rack, luckily it’s only a few blocks away. The customer service rep I spoke to yesterday was right: I showed them proof of purchase, and they removed the security tag for me.
7 p.m. — I know I should make one of my Evolve meals for dinner, but I’ve been craving sushi all week. I open Uber Eats and scroll through the list of sushi restaurants in the neighborhood. I decide to try the one that has a little medal next to it. I order a California roll and a shrimp tempura roll. $25.77
Daily Total: $60.77
7 a.m. — Same drill as before.
9 a.m.— Coffee, emails, kind bar.
10 a.m.— I help my co-worker review samples. Although tedious, this is something new for me and will hopefully help the morning pass quicker. Our company holds the licenses for many big-name brands and one of our current accounts I’m working on involves flip-flops. There are five massive boxes and 20+ styles of samples that have to be checked in, then separated between production, sales, and submission. Once I get everything in order, I bring the sales team their samples, hang up the ones for production, then work with the design assistant who will send out a batch to the brand for their approval.
12:30 p.m. — Just as I thought, the morning flew by. I have another Evolve meal for lunch. Today’s is buffalo chicken, almonds, and carrot and celery sticks. Definitely ordering more of these in the future.
3 p.m. — Out early for summer Fridays! I head to Grand Central and make the 3:32 train. As soon as I get situated in a seat, I open my MTA eTix app and purchase a one way off-peak ticket. $17.75
5:30 p.m. — My dad picks me up from the train station and then we pick up pizza on the way home. We hang out as a family and then my mom and I go sit out on the patio and have a glass of wine before bed.
10 p.m. — My routine stays the same even when I’m at my parents’ house. Shower, skin routine, reading, and bed.
Daily Total: $17.75
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