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 pound.
Today: a law associate in New York City who earns £183,123 ($235,000) per year and pools it with her boyfriend's earnings (noted below). This week, they spend some of their money on Marmite, purchased during a trip to London and Paris.
Occupation: Associate Industry: Law Age: 30 Location: NYC Salary: £183,123 ($235,000) | Boyfriend's Salary: £105,200 ($135,000) + bonus Paycheque (twice a month): £4,013 ($5,150 )
Housing costs: £0. I live with my boyfriend and we pay £2,570 ($3,300) in rent. The monthly payment withdrawals are tied to my boyfriend's bank account, so I technically don't pay anything. We operate differently than most couples, however, in the sense that we treat our income as completely shared. We do have separate accounts, but it is irrelevant which one of us pays for expenses. We do not pay each other back, split expenses, or keep track of who spent more at any given time. In our eyes, my money is entirely his, and his money is entirely mine. Loan payments: None. I had six figures of student loans but made extra payments and I was able to pay them off in about three years.
Flexible spending account: £29 ($37.50) Health insurance: £321 ($414) Dental insurance: £100 ($128). I cover my boyfriend's health and dental insurance through my firm's plan, so these are payments I make for the two of us. Phone: £46 ($60) covers my boyfriend and me. (Our bill is £79 ($100), but my firm reimburses me £31 ($40)/month.) Internet: £0. (Tied to my boyfriend's bank account.) Transportation: My boyfriend and I both walk to work and load up our subway cards on a pay-as-you-go basis. Savings: I deposit any remaining money I have at the end of every month into various accounts.
Day One 11am: Mid-morning tea from the office. Our office has the biggest and best selection of free coffee and tea I have ever seen. The teabags are a high-quality brand and there are about 10 types of fresh brewed coffee to choose from every day. We do have machine coffee, but why would anyone opt for that instead of fresh coffee? I usually drink a cup of tea to start the day, and I never eat breakfast. I was born unable to put food in my body before noon. 12.30pm: There are tons of conferences and lunch meetings at my office, and there's often leftover food because they inevitably order too much. Today, there are a ton of leftover bagels and muffins. I grab one of each for later. 1pm: My boyfriend and I are travelling to London tomorrow, over Fourth of July weekend. I take a quick work break and go to a nearby salon for waxing. I tend to work quite late most days, so I sometimes need to quickly run errands during daylight hours. £27 ($35) 2pm: I purchased today's lunch yesterday because I knew I'd be too busy. My daily lunch is usually a huge salad — one that's bigger than the size of my head. It's packed full of vegetables, so I get all my servings in. My usual fixings are spinach, roasted cauliflower, broccoli, tomato, red onion, shredded carrot, cucumbers, and sometimes other things they have, like roasted asparagus, green beans, courgette, radish, jicama, or squash. 5pm: My boyfriend and I are trying to buy an apartment and have spent several years saving as much money as possible for a down payment. NYC prices are exorbitant, so we've been going to as many open houses and viewings as possible. I walk to today's viewing, and take the subway back to work. £2.14 ($2.75) 6pm: Buy a medium iced coffee on my way back to work. £3.47 ($3.47) 7pm: Someone in our office ordered the absolute best cookies from a well-known NYC bakery and there are a ton left over. I grab one — beyond excited. 9pm: Stop by a souvenir shop on my way home to pick up a T-shirt for one of our friends in London. She requested an NYC shirt that is yellow and monochrome, and it's really hard to find something fitting that description. £7.80 ($10) 10pm: We eat dinner at home since we rarely go out to eat or order takeout during the week. The exception is when we get it expensed from work, which is somewhat regular. We save dining out or ordering in for the weekend because we're trying to minimise our expenses. Over the last few years, we've been extremely focused on just paying off our loans and saving money to buy an apartment. Also, we rarely eat at a decent hour anyway, given our work schedules. Finally, it's healthier (but less fun) to cook. We are leaving on a trip tomorrow, so I plan to eat everything in sight then! 12.30am: I eat a late-night snack before bed. Today, like most days, that snack is chocolate and a large bowl of porridge. I never eat breakfast, but I always eat right before bed. Not everyone's style, but it works for me. Total: £40.41
Day Two 11am: I take a quick break from work and run to a nearby nail salon for a manicure. I grab two free mints on my way out. This nail salon does not have good candy like the other one I normally go to, but that one is farther away, and I don't have the time today. £11.68 ($15) 12pm: Drinking tea from the office. I will have to work straight through lunch until it's time to leave for our flight. There is always a mountain of things to take care of before a vacation or holiday and I can't drop the ball. 4pm: Pick up NYC souvenirs for two more London friends on my way home. £12.70 ($16.31) 4.30pm: Grab my bags and head to the airport. We are flying out of JFK, so we take the subway £2.14 ($2.75) and AirTrain £3.89 ($5) instead of taking a cab to minimise cost. Cabs to JFK from Manhattan are so expensive, and traffic will be an absolute wreck at this time anyway. (It's late afternoon on a Friday before a holiday weekend.) I haven't eaten all day, and I'm starving but we're taking a red-eye Virgin Atlantic flight, and they have relatively good airline food. £6.03 ($7.75) 6.30pm: I buy a water bottle and a hot coffee with cream at the airport. In the air, we are served drinks of our choice, in addition to almonds and pretzels. Dinner is served around 9pm. We share two meals: orzo with veggies and a veggie lasagne. Each meal also comes with sides like salad, bread, and a mini-chocolate streusel dessert. £4.23 ($5.43) Total: £34.64
Day Three 6am: The flight is just over six hours, but because of the time difference it's now morning as we approach London. We're served a muffin and yoghurt or bagel and banana for breakfast; we take one of each. 11am: We land and go through Heathrow's long passport control line. We take the Tube and buses everywhere in London, since we're very familiar with the city. Black cabs are too expensive and traffic is terrible so we load up our Oyster cards. Even though it seems expensive (and it is), the cost of public transportation is still less than a one-way black cab ride from Heathrow into the city. That would cost around £80. I'm putting all of our expenses on my card because it has no foreign transaction fees, and I get good points for food purchases, which is essentially all we will be making! £50.07 ($65.17) 11.45am: We are finally in the city and having brunch at a place we've wanted to try. On this trip, we're aiming to go back to our favourite spots, try a few new ones, walk around the city as much as we can, and see friends. We get fresh crumpets, poached eggs, and a jalapeño cornbread brunch dish. Delicious. £17.71 ($22.73) 12.30pm: After brunch, we stop by one of my favourite cafés in the area to get one slice of Marmite on toast and another slice with Vegemite. I plan to eat constantly today! I completely understand why people hate Marmite and Vegemite — and it kind of shocks me that I love them, but I really do! £2.03 ($2.61) After, I buy a cappuccino £3 ($3.85) from another one of my favourite cafés in the area. We walk as we eat and drink. £5.03 ($6.46) 1pm: We visit one of our old friends, and I give her the T-shirt she requested. It isn't yellow, but it is pretty monochrome with a small yellow accent, so it'll do. 2pm: We buy slices of salted-caramel chocolate cake and ginger cake at a bakery we've been to many times. Sadly, it turns out they've discontinued my favourite cake. £9.74 ($12.51) 2.30pm: We stop by one of my favourite restaurants that has an in-house bakery, and we buy a loaf of the fresh multigrain bread they bake daily. We'll eat this throughout the coming days. I say hello to the manager, whom I've known for a couple of years. He always takes great care of us when we dine in, but there's no time to linger on this trip! £2.03 ($2.61) 3pm: We are now able to check into the hotel. We prepaid for the room a couple of weeks ago, but they are charging us $40 for a two-hour late checkout. We pay that fee now. Otherwise checkout is at 10am but that is ridiculously early, and they aren't flexible at all. £31.16 ($40) 3.15pm: Pick up groceries at a local store across the street, including cheese for the bread we bought earlier, soft drinks, fruit, and different British snacks. £12.40 ($15.92) 7.30pm: Make a quick stop at a French café we love to pick up a sandwich. No time for a sit-down dinner tonight. £3.91 ($5.02) 8pm: Hyde Park has a summer concert series every summer and tonight, the headliner is Green Day. Yesterday, it was Phil Collins, and tomorrow it's Justin Bieber. My boyfriend was able to get free tickets for tonight's show. It's a crowd of 60,000 people, apparently! 9.30pm: The concert is going strong, and we stop for a food break. There are lots of food trucks to choose from, but we go to the French fries truck. I'm a huge fan of fries (who isn't, really?), with my favourites being seasoned fries, curly fries, and crinkle fries — in that order. These are just normal fries with a bit of extra seasoning. You can top them with a variety of cheeses and sauces, but I stick to ketchup. (£3.04) $3.91 10.30pm: I'm from NYC, so I know and love a good cheesecake. I also know that good cheesecake doesn't really exist outside of the city — except for this one place in London. It is to die for; take my word for it. It weighs two pounds because it's meant to feed four people, but not in our case. We devour it. I get it every time I'm in London, which sounds ridiculous coming from NYC, but it's the reality. £15.23 ($19.55) Total: £150.32
Day Four 4.30pm: We slept in and then walked around the city most of the day, before meeting my friend at a cafe. It's great that we're able to meet up with so many people on this trip! Her husband was supposed to join us, too, but he had to work at the last minute. She picks up the tab for us, which is very nice! 6pm: We continue walking around the city. The weather has been amazing on this trip; it hasn't been cloudy or drizzly, which is surprising for London. 8pm: We go to another friend's house, hang out with him and his wife, and they offer us food and drink. 10.30pm: Back at our hotel "home," eating a late dinner created from the groceries we picked up yesterday. 1am: Eating late-night snacks and planning tomorrow's day trip to Paris. Tomorrow — well, now it's today — is our anniversary, and we thought it would be nice to be in Paris for the day. The Eurostar makes it way too easy and convenient to miss the opportunity. Total: £0
Day Five 6.30am: We check in for our train, go through passport control, and buy a bottle of water for the ride. We are hoping to sleep the full 2.5-hour ride there. We pre-booked the tickets a few weeks ago as you have to do, since these trains sell out in advance. $2.08 (£1.62) 10.30am: We arrive! There's a one-hour time difference but we'll make it up on the way back to London this evening. I was able to get some bad train sleep most of the way, but that doesn't matter — we're excited to be in Paris! All we plan to do is walk around the city and eat today. We've been to Paris several times, so we don't have tourist agendas — but we do hope to visit the Musée d'Orsay. It turns out the museum is closed on Mondays, so we walk to one of the best bakeries in Paris and buy fresh breads, including a croissant, peasant bread, and a sweet pastry. The croissant is either the best or the second best in Paris. (So, probably in the world!) £6.73 ($8.64) 1.30pm: We stop by a place that has the best hot chocolate in the city. We order one hot and one iced chocolate. They're different, and we both think the hot chocolate is better, but each one is delicious. £12.02 ($15.43) 2pm: We order two desserts: a chocolate mousse-ish option and a framboisier. £14.60 ($18.74) 3pm: We stop at another chocolatier and buy a plum tart and another chocolate cream/mousse dessert. £12.91 ($16.57) 4pm: Stop by a famous macaron shop and buy salted caramel and blood orange macarons. £4.93 ($6.33) 5pm: We stop to get fresh-squeezed orange juice and an item one of my friends from home asked me to pick up for her. £5.01 ($6.55) 5.30pm: We've pretty much only had sugar all day. I'm not complaining, but we need to get something in us that isn't another dessert. We stop by a well-respected bakery and order a slice of their famous sourdough bread. A slice of bread, albeit a large one, is not enough, so we stop by another trusted bakery in the area and order a full-size sesame baguette to share. £1.51 ($1.94) 6.30pm: We take the subway back to the train station. We took public transportation a few other times today, too, but we used subway passes that we saved from the last time we were here and didn't have to spend money on those rides. £3.04 ($3.90) 7.13pm: On the train back to London. We arrive around 8.40 p.m. and the time difference is to our advantage. Our unlimited transport cards have run out, so we refill them. This should get us through the rest of the trip. £10.15 ($13.02) 9.15pm: Dinner at our favourite restaurant in London. We planned to have drinks at our favourite bar, but we haven't eaten much real food all day and decided to come here instead. We split three appetisers and eat those with the fresh, delicious bread they provide. They know it's our anniversary, so they give us complimentary champagne. Everything is delicious. £18.81 ($24.13) 11pm: Stop for an Americano on the way home since there's no coffee at the hotel. £2.13 ($2.74) Total: £93.46
Day Six 12pm: We check out of the hotel. We are flying out of Gatwick this time, and we can't use public transportation to get there, so we buy rail tickets that take us to the airport. Still way cheaper than a black cab. £21.12 ($27.09) 12.40pm: I buy a couple of travel soaps. There's a particular store in London where I always like to get my bars of face wash. £3.43 ($4.40) 12.50pm: I post a package for a friend who just had a baby girl. £6.62 ($8.50) 1pm: We visit a few more old friends until it's time to go back to the airport. We get past security around 4pm and buy two water bottles and a small jar of Marmite to take back with us. The flight back home is eight hours because of the jet stream working against us. Luckily, we sleep for more than half of it; we watch TV and talk for the rest of the time. £5.50 ($7.10) 8.30pm: Arrive at JFK and wait through the long passport control line. Around 10, we get on the AirTrain and take the subway back, which only costs $7.75. I don't have enough on my subway card, though, so I decide to add $20. I'll use the rest eventually. £15.59 ($20) 11pm: Back at home, we unpack, shower, and eat food we already had, including salad, hummus, bread, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, and mac and cheese. Around 1am, I have a bedtime snack of porridge and an apple. Total: £52.26
Day Seven 11am: Mid-morning tea at the office. Being back at work is tough, but it's really nice to have visited London and Paris without taking any holiday days. Yes, we had to squeeze a lot in, but it was totally worth it. 2pm: Buy my regular huge, veggie-filled salad for lunch. I need it after that vacation! £6.20 ($7.95) 4pm: Run out to quickly run some errands. First, I pick up a prescription (insurance covers the whole cost). Next, I buy a cucumber, cherries, and a nectarine from a small shop that sells the best produce for super cheap prices £2.19 ($2.83). After, I pick up the dry cleaning I dropped off on Friday £19.40 ($25) and drop off a few items for my boyfriend. You pay when you pick up, so it will be $12 when it's ready. £21.59 ($27.83) 6pm: Medium iced coffee with mounds of cream. £2.72 ($3.49) 10pm: Dinner made up of things we already have, including salad, hummus, bread, a burrito, and cheese and spinach tartlets. 1am: Chocolate and my large, comforting bowl of porridge. Total: £32.70
The Breakdown Food/Drink: £168.66 Entertainment: £0 Clothes/Beauty: £49.91 Travel: 108.14 Other: £77.08 Total: £403.79