A Week In Brooklyn, NY, On A $44,000 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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: a marketing associate working at a nonprofit who makes $44,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on miso soup.
Occupation: Marketing Associate
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 23
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Salary: $44,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,242 after tax and 403(b) contribution
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,225. (I live with one roommate.)
Student Loan Payments: $250. (If I keep on this trajectory, I'll pay off my last interest bearing loan by the end of 2018.)
Utilities & Internet: ~$105
MetroCard: $121 for 30 days unlimited
Spotify: $9.99
Savings: $150
403(b): $150
Health Insurance: $0. (My work pays for it.)
Phone: $0. (My parents pay for it. Whenever I visit home, I try to do work for my dad's small business as a form of repayment.)
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Additional Expenses
Gym: I paid $75 for six months in December.

Day One

6:10 a.m. — I struggle to get out of bed after the long weekend, but I put my gym clothes on and head out the door. If I don't go before work, I know I wont go at all! When I get home, I make breakfast (coffee and apple chia oatmeal) and prepare my lunch for the day.
8:35 a.m. — Off to work! I've been working at this organization for the last six months. My executive director can be a drag but I really love our mission and my other coworkers, so they help make up for it. My MetroCard ran out last Friday, so I refill it for another 30 days.
12:15 p.m. — I eat lunch in my office (chickpeas with a tomato sauce and cabbage salad on the side) and read Money Diaries. I limit eating out to twice a week because restaurants are so expensive here and, for some reason, I can't seem to spend less than $25 every time I go out to eat. I also love to cook, so I don't mind bringing my own food for lunch every day.
4 p.m. — I accidentally had a package sent to my last address in Boston and one of my old neighbors was kind enough to help me out by sending it to my Brooklyn address. I Venmo him for the cost of shipping. $12.80
7 p.m. — Get home feeling kinda meh (hello pre-period hormones!), but am pleasantly surprised to see that I got a letter from my grandfather in the mail. He lives in Paris, so I don't get to see him too often, but I'll be visiting in April and am so excited to spend time with him and my grandmother. I found roundtrip tickets for only $250 a few months back and bought them because it was too good a deal. I make a mental note to write him back ASAP.
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8 p.m. — I make miso and veggie dumpling soup for me and my roommate. When she gets home, we eat and watch Imposters on Netflix, which is soooo good. I later get a phone call from my ex in California — we broke up eight months ago, but we're still friendly and chat on the phone once every few months. It makes me miss him (dammit!), especially considering we only broke up because we were moving to different places after college. I've gone on a few dates since we broke up, but all the guys ended up being dicks. I think it's a New York thing. Lately, I've been focusing on myself and have made a point not to look for dates. I've been feeling really great recently without the pressure of finding anyone. Self love FTW! We chat for an hour before I go to bed at 10.
Daily Total: $12.80

Day Two

6:20 a.m. — I wake up and do my same usual morning routine: gym, shower, and breakfast, and am out the door by 8:30. My roommate leaves early for work today so I have the place to myself for a solid hour. I know I pay a lot for rent, but I absolutely love my apartment: We have a huge sliding door window with a view of Manhattan, a balcony, and huge rooms. It's the perfect place to relax after being in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan all day.
12 p.m. — It's been pretty slow today because both my supervisor and executive director are out of the office. I eat lunch (leftover dumpling soup that I added chickpeas to) and read some New York Times articles, including a really interesting one about the fruit/vegetable shortages in Alaska during the winter. I am so privileged to have access to a year-round farmer's market, which is why I'm happy to spend a little extra to support my local farmers.
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1:45 p.m. — I'm still kind of hungry from lunch, so I cut up an apple I brought and munch on it while working on invitation designs. I bought a half bushel of barely bruised apples (around 20 pounds) for $12 at the market on Saturday and have been eating them nonstop.
3:30 p.m. — Get an email from ClassPass about a 70% off discount. I've been wanting to try it to take fun classes, since I just lift weights with minimal cardio at my old school gym. I decide against it for now but resolve to sign up the next time a good discount comes around.
4:30 p.m. — I get to leave an hour early from work, hooray! I rush home so I can take advantage of this strangely warm weather. I sit on my balcony and continue reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. For the last few years, my New Year's resolution has been to read at least 25 books over the course of the year. With all my commuting, I've been able to get so much reading in! It's gorgeous outside and I start to feel so nostalgic for summer.
6:30 p.m. — I roast potatoes for dinner and add homemade sunflower seed "cheese" from making sunflower seed milk (which is way cheaper than almond) over the weekend and devour it while watching YouTube videos. After finishing dinner, I am craving something sweet but don't have a ton of snacks because I try to live zero waste and tend not to buy pre-packaged stuff. I end up mashing sweet potato and topping with cinnamon and maple syrup. It's certainly not ice cream, but it does the trick. I spend the rest of my night reading and writing a letter back to my grandfather. In bed by 9:30.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:10 a.m. — Feeling groggy when I wake up but I push past it and head to the gym. Today is chest day. I usually ask for a spotter because I'm benching pretty high (105!), and after a few rounds, one of the guys spotting me takes weight off the bar without asking and says I should go lighter. I would usually brush this off, but I've been feeling serious microaggressions from men lately and this really bugs me. I breeze through the lighter set and walk away.
7:15 a.m. — When I get home, I shower, make apple chia oats (creature of habit), and drink chai with sunflower seed milk. My roommate went out to dinner last night so I didn't get to see her before bed, but we chat a bit this morning before she heads off to work early.
12:30 p.m. — I heat up my lunch (sweet potato with chickpeas and spices) and decide to go into my office's conference room to eat and read my book. Ideally I'd be having lunch in Central Park, but it's grey and drizzly today.
1 p.m. — Back at my desk with apple chia pudding. I'm meeting a friend for dinner later and have zero intentions of eating healthy tonight, so I'm getting in nutrients while I can.
6 p.m. — I randomly run into this guy I went to college with and we chat for a few minutes as we get out of the subway. This is probably the seventh or eighth time I've run into someone I know in NYC, and it's still so insane to me every time it happens, especially considering I grew up in Texas. The guy gives me his number just before we part ways, and I plan on inviting him over the next time my roommate and I throw a party.
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6:05 p.m. — Get to the burger joint and wait a few minutes until my friend arrives. We each order the Impossible Burger, which is totally vegan but "bleeds" like real meat! We catch up on each other's lives since we haven't seen each other in a few months, and end up sharing a coconut milkshake with avocado, lime, and coconut flakes that tastes like key lime pie. $23
8 p.m. — When I get home, I have two packages waiting for me! The first is a wooden frame for a poster in my room and mesh produce bags, and the other is a stainless steel French press I ordered because I broke my glass one over the weekend. When my roommate gets home, we do clay face masks (she works in beauty and gets tons of free products) and watch more Imposters. I go to sleep around 11.
Daily Total: $23

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Woke up well before my 7:15 alarm this morning, but I stay and relax in bed while listening to a podcast my friend recommended to me: Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. I get up to make breakfast and decide to boil potatoes for potato salad with a Dijon vinaigrette that I'll bring for lunch.
8:45 a.m. — While waiting for the train, I run into other friends from college (!) and chat with them until we get to our stops. We haven't seen each other in a while, so we talk about our jobs, my friend's experience in graduate school, and my sustainability blog. One of them asks to come to the farmer's market with me sometime soon and I happily say yes – I usually go by myself but love to have company with me!
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12 p.m. — I eat potato salad with half an avocado I brought from home while attempting the New York Times crossword puzzle. My roommate texts me and asks if I want to go out for dinner tonight with her friends, and while I'd rather not spend money since I have food at home, she pressures me into it. I've spent less money than usual this week, so I don't mind too much.
3 p.m. — I see a theater matinée today (work perk) and get to leave a few hours early from work! The show we see is very strange and I don't understand a thing, but it's interesting to see the story unfold. Afterwards, I head home, since I have time to kill before meeting my friends for dinner.
6:15 p.m. — There's a homeless man on the train asking for money, and while I usually prefer to give food, I don't have any on me, so I give him a dollar. I didn't grow up in a place with so many homeless people and it's heartbreaking, so when I have the opportunity, I like to help. $1
6:30 p.m. — I get to the restaurant and meet up with my friends, but the place is super crowded so we end up going to another sushi spot a couple of blocks away. My roomie buys me a beer (I think she feels bad for pressuring me to go to dinner, but I gladly accept) and I order miso soup, a veggie California roll, and a sweet potato tempura roll. Before we all leave, she gives us gifts from her work: samples of a very chic perfume from one of her clients! It smells like spring and I'm so excited to wear it once the weather gets warmer. $14
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8:30 p.m. — Right as we're about to catch the train home, my roommate's boyfriend calls and asks if we want to go meet him for drinks. We end up going to this weird dive bar and I order a Guinness. We stay for an hour and play Hangman, and by the time we get home at 11, I am fully exhausted and ready for bed. $7
Daily Total: $22

Day Five

8 a.m. — It's the weekend! I've gotten into a Saturday morning routine that I look forward to every week: wake up, hit the gym, come home and shower, eat breakfast, and take the bus (or walk if it's nice outside) to the farmer's market. It looks like it might rain soon, so I decide to walk along the bus route just in case I want to hop on. I bring my week's compost and a ton of reusable bags so I'm totally prepared. The rain holds off so I walk the hour there while listening to music.
11:30 a.m. — I get to the market and it's super busy. The weather is nice, so lots of folks bring their dogs and I even spot an actress from Orange Is the New Black! I buy red potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, bread, onions, a vegan chocolate chip cookie, and a beet, and put in another order for a half bushel of "imperfect" apples from the apple farmer. Americans waste nearly 40% of food, so I like buying fruit that otherwise wouldn't get sold. Hooray for saving money and the planet! I have plenty of dry goods like beans, rice, and oats left from a bulk trip last week, so this week's grocery haul is somewhat inexpensive. I usually spend around $50 per week. $27.80
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3 p.m. — I make avocado toast for a late lunch with roasted butternut squash that I have leftover from last week. The roomie and I watch the rest 0f Imposters and try to wrap our heads around the ending. It's kind of confusing and we are hoping to get more answers when the next season comes out.
7:30 p.m. — I make pasta with the last of the homemade tomato sauce I froze from the summer. It's so much better than premade sauce, and I got a huge discount on bruised tomatoes from the market back in September. I watch some episodes of The End of the F**king World, scroll through Instagram, and do remote work for a co-op that I'm a member of. Chill night overall, and I'm in bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $27.80

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, make breakfast (coffee and apple oatmeal), and finish my book while eating. I make a plan to read more Gladwell soon; he's a phenomenal writer. Next up: A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (another amazing author). My tenth book of the year!
10:30 a.m. — Head off to the gym for leg day and then come home to shower and get ready for lunch with my roommate's mother and grandmother. They're stopping by our place for bellinis beforehand, so we make sure to deep clean the apartment so we look like responsible adults.
2:45 p.m. — We decide to go to Forrest Point in Bushwick, and I order a Mediterranean plate with Israeli salad, pita, hummus, harissa, and potatoes. I love my roommate's family and really enjoy chatting with them. Her grandmother treats us.
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6:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover pasta from last night and do another face mask with my roommate. We decide to throw a party in a few weekends, since we have plenty of alcohol left over from our last party and love having friends over. I look online to see if I can find a planter for a plant I bought a few weeks ago, but can't find anything that fits my style. I go to sleep around 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — Slept in for my rest day and made coffee and toast, which I topped with leftover roasted butternut squash. I'm all out of my usual toast toppers (PB, jam, avocado, hummus) but this turns out great! I also add nutritional yeast, red chili flakes, and salt, which is a delicious combo. I listen to music while getting ready for work.
10:30 a.m. — My executive director brought back pecan pralines from her trip to New Orleans and even got a few vegan ones especially for me! They're super delicious, and the southern treat really reminds me of home.
12:15 p.m. — I heat up my lunch (apple chia oats) and read articles while listening to music. I also start writing down cool restaurants I want to try when I visit Paris. That's another reason I'm trying to save up – I don't want to feel deprived while I'm there! While I definitely plan on having inexpensive picnics, I also want to try some of their fine foods apart from just baguette and salad.
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2:30 p.m. — I spend the afternoon working on emails, social media, and website updates. I munch on another pecan praline and more leftover butternut squash for my snack. Just waiting for Monday to be over...
5:30 p.m. — I'm out of work! When I get home, I check my mailbox and see a letter from my mom, who sent me a $25 Target gift card she wasn't planning on using. She is such a sweetheart and I feel like we've become extra close the last few years, which I love.
7 p.m. — I roast potatoes and a beet and listen to an old Drake album. While that's roasting, I prep cabbage salad for the week as well as more sunflower seed "milk." I make more vegan cheese with the leftover pulp and add it to my roasted potatoes. After dinner, I'm craving something sweet again, so I make hot cocoa with water, sugar, and cocoa powder.
Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
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