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A Week In New York, NY, On A $90,000 Salary

Refinery29

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 PR Manager who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Just Salad.

Occupation: PR Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 26
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $90,000
Net Worth: ~$17,000 in savings and investments, ~$40,000 in retirement (IRA, 401(k))
Debt: $4,500 left in student loans
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,400
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,200 (I live by myself in a studio)
Student Loans: $250
Renter’s Insurance: $26
Health Insurance: $300
WiFi/Cable: $120
Electricity: ~$60 during winter/~$120 during summer (higher than usual since I’m home 24/7)
Phone: $82 (includes my payment plan for my phone)
Spotify: $9.99
iCloud/Apple Care for Apple Watch: $5.32
Hulu/Disney+/Netflix/HBO Max: Shoutout to the boyfriend!
Retirement: $900 (incl. company match)
Savings: minimum $500 (but I’ve been saving a lot more as of late)
MetroCard: $127 (paused)






















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?
It was definitely something that I grew up with — my mindset was always “after high school, I go to college.” I got a hefty amount of scholarship money and my parents helped a lot. I’m currently paying off a loan I took out for my final semester.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
It was always save, save, save. As kids when my siblings and I would get money for birthdays, graduations, etc. it would go directly into a savings account. All my friends were buying stuff with their birthday money and I didn’t get to touch mine! Of course, looking back on it now I’m very grateful my parents taught me the importance of saving for the long haul and not buying for the current moment. Even now when we have money conversations in my family, my parents always stress the importance of saving.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a local bakery when I was a senior in high school. I got the job for some extra spending money (mostly for outings with friends, gas money).
Did you worry about money growing up?
It was never something I worried about.
Do you worry about money now?
Definitely in my first year or two of living on my own and having an entry-level salary without any padding of savings, I worried about money. I’m in a place right now where I’m not living paycheck to paycheck and have somewhat of a savings cushion so I’m not very worried. It’s definitely something that crosses my mind from time to time when my anxiety kicks in and I run hundreds of what if scenarios through my head.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After college I lived with my parents again for a bit and moved out on my own at 22, at which I was fully financially responsible for myself. If I was in a situation where I needed housing or income, my parents would definitely allow me to move back home/help me out a bit financially.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.












Day One

8 a.m. — Finally get out of bed after hitting my alarm a few too many times. I take a quick shower and do my morning face routine — Mario Badescu Acne Cleanser and Witch Hazel & Rosewater Toner and The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% followed by Philosophy’s Ultimate Miracle Eye Cream and It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream Moisturizer. No makeup cause I’m an all natural #WFH kinda girl.

9:30 a.m. — Hop on my team’s morning call. I’ve been working from home since March and don’t see myself going back in until the fall at the earliest. I’m extremely lucky to still have my job during the pandemic and don’t mind working from home, but dang I do miss my normal routine and the office. We go through all the tasks for the day and I end up hopping on another call after to go through a few things with my co-worker.

10:35 a.m. — I make some toast with butter and Califia Cold Brew w/ Oat Milk. It was on sale and I wanted to try, but honestly, I think I’m an almond milk girl. Back on that work grind!

12:48 p.m. — I’m getting hungry and I don’t have much in the fridge since I was away last weekend — an extremely socially distanced weekend FYI! I have a $10 coupon from the diner down the street so I get a wrap for me, a sandwich for my boyfriend, N., and fries to split. N. has been staying with me for the majority of quarantine to avoid traveling too much across the city and so we’re both not alone in our apartments. I have a $10 coupon and put on my credit card getting 5% back on restaurants this month. Can you tell I’m a coupon queen yet? $24.51

6 p.m. — Done with work for now, so go on a walk with N. We gear up with our masks (pls wear one) and head out. We go about a mile and a half and head home to eat dinner.

7:10 p.m. — I have a Home Chef meal in my fridge from last week that I need to eat so it doesn’t go bad — it’s a burger. I cook the burgers and put the fries in the air fryer to get crispy (best quarantine purchase EVER). We eat and watch The Big Bang Theory on HBO Max. After dinner I crack open a La Croix and do some work — if only 9-5 was a real thing (sigh).

8:30 p.m. — After about a little over an hour of work I wash my face (same as the morning w/ topical prescription) because I am an old woman and want to get to bed. I talk with N. for a bit and read The Jetsetters on my Kindle. I’m out by 11.

Daily Total: $24.51

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Actually up before my alarm! Lay in bed and scroll on social media a bit before getting up to do my face routine. I make some peppermint tea before hopping on my computer a little bit before my morning team call.

10 a.m. — I make a cup of coffee with a splash of Califia Almond Milk Hazelnut Creamer. A few minutes later, my buzzer sounds — my AirPod is here! Yes, singular. My right one was extremely muffled when I would use the mic on calls and thanks to that one-year warranty Apple sent me a new one free of charge. BLESS. The FedEx man walks up four flights of stairs to deliver them, cause he didn’t want to just leave the package at the front door. I am extremely grateful for him and all essential workers right now.

12:05 p.m. — I’ve had so much going on, I’ve forgotten to eat. I have a great idea to put frozen zoodles in the air fryer to make zoodle sticks. Welp, they come out as extremely charred zoodles. PASS. I move to put chicken breast pieces and frozen fries in the air fryer to make some grilled chicken nugs. I go HARD on the sauces — Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Aioli, Primal Kitchen Garlic Aioli, and classic ranch. I pop open a La Croix and dial into a call that I have to listen into, but not speak on, so I chow and listen.

5:15 p.m. — My brain cannot concentrate anymore. I am in need of a good workout so I find a HIIT class on Obe to take — I got a free two-month trial through my credit card. With five minutes of class left, my co-worker calls and we chat about client work for a bit. I go back to finish the class after and do an ab circuit. I then grab my mask for a quick mile walk. Dang it feels good to be back, but also…it hurts.

7 p.m. — Shower and make dinner of chicken meatballs and pasta with vodka sauce. I put the chicken meatballs in the air fryer cause why not — well, not the best choice because I overcook them. I need to lay off the air fryer clearly.

8:15 p.m. — Do some more work and turn on my shows of the night: RHONY and The Bold Type. The perfect mix of trash and drama. I do my nightly face routine, take OLLY sleep gummies, and get ready to PTFO.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — Out of bed, but do NOT want to be. I kept on waking up last night and couldn’t fall back asleep. I wash my face, do the dishes, and make some iced coffee AKA add almond milk creamer and ice to leftover coffee from yesterday I put in the fridge. TGIF people!!

1:10 p.m. — Ok today is wild. I’m supposed to get off at 2 today because #SummerFriday but I have so much to do that I know it will not happen. I’m hangry, just started my period, and am in a mood because it’s pouring out. Therefore I order Seamless. I swear I never eat lunch out this often but I haven’t gone grocery shopping and need veggies. I get salads for N. and I from Just Salad. And I have a $5 coupon! $27.50

1:25 p.m. — Literally in RECORD TIME our salads come. Just Salad, you have my heart. Eat my salad in mere seconds and hang on my phone for a bit. I realize I’ve been charged for my Home Chef meals — I used to do these once a month but since COVID-19 I’ve been doing them every week. Makes life so much easier and I don’t have to spend as much time in the grocery store. Plus they’re SO GOOD. $85.60

5:30 p.m. — Signing off of work — for now — I have one more thing I’m waiting on from a client. I don’t go for a walk because it’s still pouring. Instead, I cut up leftover chicken from yesterday and add to a bag with buffalo sauce for homemade buffalo chicken pizza tonight. I even made the dough cause #quarantine. I also cook the rest of the chicken I have in my fridge in the air fryer for easy reheatable nugs over the weekend.

7:30 p.m. — Dinner was PRIME! Get back on the computer to finish up some work and then sign off for the weekend. I eat some Ben & Jerry’s and half of a Twix. Turn on Total Divas for a nice intro-to-weekend binge. Head to bed around 11.

Daily Total: $113.10

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Ready to take on Saturday! Wake up and walk a few blocks to go grocery shopping with N. I like going early in the morning because there are way fewer people. We get berries, watermelon, bagged salads, bananas, broccoli, ingredients for guac for taco night (my fav), wings, ice cream, almond creamer, milk, yogurt, La Croix, Gatorade, cheese, cauliflower tots, iced tea, chocolate pudding, buffalo sauce, and a few other things. We’re in and out in 20 minutes compliments to Home Chef and my list. N. pays — he’s been chipping in for groceries since he’s been staying over a lot more.

9:50 a.m. — Head over to FedEx so I can drop off my defective AirPod. I wait in line but am able to self-scan the prepaid label so it’s pretty quick. I let myself buy coffee over the weekend, so I head over to a new place I saw recently opened in my neighborhood. FedEx is a bit away from my apartment so I don’t usually walk over here, but I end up passing my FAV supermarket that I didn’t know was over here. I usually go to the one by work. It’s an overpriced supermarket that I wouldn’t normally shop at but they have the BEST cookies so obviously I need to give into my period cravings and pick them up ($8.04). I have my cookies and am ready for my coffee. This new place is adorable and I’m so glad that they were able to open during such a hard time. I get an iced latte for me and a cold brew for N. — a bit overpriced ($11.98) but happy to support a local small business. $20.02

12:30 p.m. — Turn on Total Divas and start to clean the apartment. It’s small but it also gets dirty pretty quickly. I put in the laundry too — in-unit laundry is a unicorn in NYC, especially in a studio but it’s what really drew me to the apartment. When I’m done I throw some grilled nugs and frozen fries in the air fryer and pair with chipotle aioli. It starts pouring again so I grab a cookie and settle in for a day of binge-watching.

5 p.m. — For the first time since March, N. and I are going out to eat!! Restaurants have been open outdoors for three weeks now, but we wanted to wait it out a bit so we’ve still been doing takeout. I start to get ready because I want to look cute for my night on the town. I do my makeup and curl my hair. I put on a new dress I bought for my trip to Cali in May (which was canceled obvi) with a lacy bra because I feel GOOD.

6:30 p.m. — We head to our favorite Indian restaurant. We each get a drink and order samosas and garlic naan to start. I get Chicken Tikka Masala and N. gets something very spicy and not chicken. It feels so nice to be outside and feel normal for an hour. It starts to POUR while we’re eating but we’re under an awning so it’s okay. The rain passes and we’re finished eating. I pay because N. paid for groceries. We head to end date night at our favorite ice cream place. N. pays and we head back home. $75.58

9:20 p.m. — Home and laying in bed because I had two glasses of wine and am EXHAUSTED. What has quarantine done to me? Watch The Big Bang Theory a bit and pass out by 10.

Daily Total: $95.60

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up because I cannot sleep in on weekends and also went to bed at 10 pm. Wash my face and lay on the couch watching YouTube videos because #weekendvibes.

10:45 a.m. — Get ready to go on a walk with N. We pick up some coffee and a piece of banana bread from a local place (N. pays) and we head to Central Park. It is such a nice day out, especially after all the rain we’ve had. We walk and talk and see tons of puppies (I currently have a severe case of puppy fever). We end up going through the park to the opposite side of the city and pass a farmer’s market. I love walking through a new part of the city. We end up walking close to five miles.

2:15 p.m. — A few frozen ravioli for lunch and Total Divas. I watched Total Bellas before this and am now fully obsessed with the WWE. I also have a cookie.

4 p.m. — I haven’t exercised for the majority of the week between my stomach hurting and period. I do 10 minutes of abs just to get in the swing of things. I take a shower, do a Mario Badescu face mask, and do my night face routine. Yes, I am aware that I am ready for bed before 5.

6:30 p.m. — Back on my air fryer game. If you cook anything in the air fryer I highly recommend chicken wings — they are pub quality! I season the wings, add them into the air fryer, and voila! N. and I chow and both agree we could eat so many more. We then both eat ice cream for dessert while watching The Big Bang Theory.

9 p.m. — I have a free bra from Aerie that’s set to expire next week so I browse through for one. I get a nude push-up bra because I want to be practical and sexy. For some reason, it costs one cent, but it’ll do. I go to lay in bed, share some stuff on Poshmark (anyone else do a huge closet clean during quarantine?), and read for a bit. I feel my Sunday Scaries kick in and am asleep by 11:30. $0.01

Daily Total: $0.01

Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm. I do my face routine and the dishes and waste time on my phone until it’s time for my morning call. I make peppermint tea because I’m kind of obsessed with it now (but also thankful my stomach problems are no more).

10:45 a.m. — Get off my calls — this week is going to be a long one. I make coffee, add some almond milk creamer, and get started on some tasks. I get a text from one of my friends and she’s had an exceptionally tough weekend. A few friends and I end up all chipping in to cover her dinners for the week to make the week ahead a little easier. I venmo one friend so she can get it all together. $25

11:45 a.m. — I am hungry and I know it’s early but I dive into my lunch of bagged salad and air fried chicken. I have a few deadlines I have to hit today so I keep on working. The hustle is real y’all.

5:30 p.m. — Sign off for now — it’s time to workout! I turn on an Obe lower body power workout with my favorite instructor (I was not too big of a fan of the HIIT coach last week). I finish and do an ab circuit and go for a little bit of a walk. Things are definitely looking up this week!

6:45 p.m. — Back home from my walk and N. has the tacos going. We use ground turkey for the meat and I make some guac with two beautifully ripe avocados (I could cry they’re so perfect). We have all the essentials — lettuce, cheese, pico, guac, and sour cream. We dive in, there is truly nothing like taco night! We do the dishes together and I take a quick shower after.

8:30 p.m. — I do some more work for about an hour with a side of chocolate pudding to get me through it. I feel like a child, I haven’t had chocolate pudding in AGES. I don’t know what prompted me to buy it, but dang it’s good! More Big Bang + nighttime face routine + attempted reading before bed and I am out by 11:30.

Daily Total: $25

Day Seven

7:50 a.m. — Hit the alarm once or twice but I’m up! Face routine, dishes, you know the deal. Get ready for my morning team call and the back to back calls that follow. I grab coffee from the fridge with almond creamer in the middle of it all. I am as predictable as they come.

11:20 a.m. — My buzzer rings and IT’S MY PEANUT BUTTER!!! I’ve been #influenced by social media but it’s locally made and better for you peanut butter that I’m really excited about. Did I mention there are sprinkles and Oreo cookies in it?! I immediately dig in with apples — it’s delicious!! Once I have my sweet treat I head back to work but I’m still dreaming of that butter.

1:10 p.m. — I finish up something for a client and pass it along to a team member to add some additional items. It is time to eat my bagged salad with a side of La Croix. I scroll on social for a bit while I eat to get my head outta work. My friend texts that she got our dinner surprise, so glad we were able to give her a little brightness and help her out a bit. Finish lunch with a cookie because what else?

3 p.m. — Home Chef is here! There are a million ice packs in here and it weighs 100 pounds (bless N. for bringing it up the stairs). I put away all the goodies and the fridge is full again. We will be eating well this week!

5:30 p.m. — Workout time! Obe workout again but today is upper body — this trainer is legit the best. I finish it up, do my ab circuit and go for a walk. I forget to turn on my watch and guesstimate that I’ve done a mile before I turn back home. When I get home N. is making dinner — Home Chef scallop scampi buuuut it’s actually chicken because I’m not a seafood girl. It is so good!! I eat it with an Arnold Palmer because I’ve recently revisited my love for Arnold Palmer (the tea, not the man). I clean up and shower before diving into round two of work.

8:15 p.m. — I do another hour and a half of work before moving to bed. I open my Kindle to read a little bit end up passing out before I read a page. Lights out by 11.

Daily Total: $0

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