A Week In Hoboken, NJ, On A $55,000 Salary

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 media strategist working in PR who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on two pairs of sunglasses.
Occupation: Media Strategist
Industry: Public Relations
Age: 27
Location: Hoboken, NJ
Salary: $55,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,664
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,157. (I rent an apartment with two other roommates.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (Luckily, scholarships and financial aid helped a LOT.)
Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: $227
Spotify Premium: $9.99
Netflix: $11.72
Car Payment: $260
Car Insurance: $0. (Thanks, Mom.)
Cell Phone: $0. (Paid by my job.)
Gym Membership: $109
Transportation: $0. (Paid for by my job.)
CD Investment Account: $200
Personal Savings Account: $200-$400
Advertisement

Day One

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hit snooze twice. I'm feeling under the weather today and think I'm getting a bit of a head cold. I consider asking my supervisor if I can work from home, but suck it up and drag myself to shower and get dressed. My New Year's resolution for 2018 was to order lunch less often while at work, so I pack a quick lunch (Korean chicken and mixed veggies that I made earlier this week), plus a clementine and a banana to snack on, and head out the door.
9:10 a.m. — Hop onto the PATH train to make my way across the river into NYC. It's a pretty quick ride (just four stops for me), but I usually bring a book to read to keep myself occupied. I just finished A Clockwork Orange; I'm starting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest today.
9:30 a.m. — I make a quick stop at Duane Reade before heading into the office to pick up cold and cough medicine. My birthday is this weekend and I am determined to not be sick for all of my plans! $13.49
10:30 a.m. — There's a local volleyball league starting in Hoboken next month that I've convinced some of my friends to join with me. I offer to sign up and pay for everyone, then just have them Venmo me back. I'm always looking for fun ways to stay active, so I'm really excited for the league to begin, although I do wish it was outdoor instead of in a gym. Hello, skinned knees! $120
Advertisement
5:30 p.m. — I cough and sniffle my way through the day and ask my supervisor if I can head out of work a little early. I usually stay until around 6 or 6:30, but I'm feeling super groggy and not being productive at all.
7 p.m. — I don't have much of an appetite when I'm not feeling well, but I am craving pastina tonight. My grandma always used to make it for me when I was sick, and I'm feeling nostalgic for it. I make myself a heaping bowl and crawl into bed to continue binging Boardwalk Empire before passing out around 10:30.
Daily Total: $133.49

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — It's finally Friday! I wake up feeling much better than I did yesterday and take my time getting ready. It's an unspoken rule that everyone gets into the office late on Fridays, so I take full advantage of that every week. Once I get into the city, I stop and treat myself to a yummy breakfast sandwich on my way into the office. $4.53
1 p.m. — I'm feeling stir crazy in the office and go out for a walk with my coworker. I remember I need new fabric hangers, so we stop into Bed Bath & Beyond and I pick up a pack. I manage not to get swept up in the endless rows of kitchen gadgets like I normally do, and leave with just the hangers. $10.88
5 p.m. — My coworkers surprise me during our weekly staff meeting with two giant cookie cakes (yum!) for my birthday. I'm not a big sweets person, but they chose the best flavors: double chocolate chunk and snickerdoodle with Reese's Pieces. After the staff meeting ends, we hang in the conference room a bit longer chatting about the plan for tomorrow night. A handful of my co-workers are coming out to Hoboken tomorrow to celebrate my birthday, and I'm so excited for them to meet all of my friends from home!
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I stop in a few stores on 5th Avenue before hopping on the PATH to go home in search of a cute birthday outfit. NYC is definitely not my favorite place to shop — all the stores are always so crowded and they're much smaller than stores you'd find in a mall. I don't find anything I love, but that doesn't stop me from snagging a few sweaters that are on sale. I know it's almost spring, but it's still cold here, so I justify my purchase. $64.90
8 p.m. — I get home and throw in a couple of loads of laundry while making dinner – black bean burgers with a side of sautéed zucchini. My roommate and I get comfy on the couch and decide to rent Wonder Woman. We munch on popcorn and catch up on our weeks during the movie, and I fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $80.31

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up feeling super refreshed this morning, and make myself toast and peanut butter for breakfast. I give my apartment a good, deep clean in anticipation of my friends coming over before my birthday dinner tonight.
12 p.m. — I just joined a new gym near my apartment, and today I have a free personal training session. My trainer totally kicks my butt and I leave feeling strong and accomplished (and a little bit sore). I walk home making a mental note of all of the things I need to do today before my friends come over.
Advertisement
2 p.m. — My friend, E., surprises me and takes me out for a birthday manicure! We stop by a nail salon a few blocks from my apartment and she pays as part of my gift. After being pampered, we stop at the liquor store and I grab a few bottles of champagne ($12.81) for a pre-dinner toast when my friends come over later, and also snag two pairs of cute sunglasses at a small boutique we pass ($38.38). $51.19
7 p.m. — Guests start arriving! My friends and I drink champagne and catch up before heading out to our dinner reservation at The Ainsworth. My friends are sneaky and tell the waitress it's my birthday, so she brings out a massive bowl of ice cream and candles and everyone sings "Happy Birthday" after we finish eating. Then, we hop around to different bars for a while before ending with a quick stop for empanadas. My friends picked up my tab for dinner and drinks, so I pay for the late-night treats. A few friends come back to my apartment for a bit longer and I finally crawl into bed around 3:30 a.m. – exhausted but so happy with how the night turned out! $13.79
Daily Total: $64.98

Day Four

10 a.m. — It's officially my birthday! My mom is coming over early today, so I drag myself out of bed with just a slight hangover to go grocery shopping before she gets here. I stop at my local market to grab supplies for this week's lunches and dinners ($28.64) and then stop at the drug store on the way home to grab floss, soap, face wash, and cotton balls ($32.39). When I get home, I get my lunch started in my Crock Pot: shredded salsa verde chicken with black beans to throw over salad for the week. I set it for four hours and hop in the shower. $61.03
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I'm so excited my mom is finally here! She hasn't been to my new apartment since I moved in, so I give her the tour and then open the birthday gifts that she brought me. She got me a cute little grocery cart (my shoulders are saved!) and gift cards to some of my favorite stores. She helps me hang pictures in my room that I've been procrastinating putting up, and we hang out and catch up before going to my favorite Cuban restaurant, La Isla, for dinner.
7:30 p.m. — The birthday surprises continue! My mom texted a bunch of my friends (without me knowing) to come over after we got back from dinner for cake and cupcakes. Everyone leaves around 8:30, and I get into bed and watch Netflix until I fall asleep at 10:30. I'm taking a break from Boardwalk Empire to watch the newest season of Love.
Daily Total: $61.03

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — It's a struggle getting out of bed today after such a long, fun weekend. I shower and pack up my lunch as well as some of the leftover cupcakes to bring in for my coworkers. I check my email as I'm heading out the door and see my VP emailed me about attending a client event with him after work today. UGH, it's going to be a late night.
12:30 p.m. — Today has been non-stop meetings and phone calls and I need a brain break! I heat up my lunch and check up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see what I've missed today. I also remember that I need to buy something cheap and easy to cover up the holes in my bedroom wall (from past tenants hanging pictures), so I order a small tube of Patch Plus Primer on Amazon. My free Amazon Prime one-month trial isn't over yet, so shipping is free! $7.43
Advertisement
5 p.m. — I take an Uber uptown to the event. It's not exactly the most exciting stuff, so I'm thrilled when my VP suggests we wrap up a little bit early. ($15.57 expensed)
8 p.m. — I know I'm not going to want to cook when I get home after such a long day, so I order a penne vodka pizza (my favorite) from this amazing pizzeria called Napoli's and then order an Uber home. I expense the Uber ($40.19) on my corporate card, since this was a client event, and enter a two-stop ride so I can scoop up the pizza on my way. Thankfully, I timed things perfectly and my pizza is ready as soon as we arrive. $22.42
8:40 p.m. — When I get to my apartment, I find a big bouquet of roses waiting for me from my roommates as a post-birthday gift, since they were both away this past weekend. So sweet! The three of us catch up in the living room and make dinner plans for tomorrow night. There's a new hibachi restaurant in town that we've all been dying to try. I scarf down my pizza and call my friend to chat before watching a few episodes of Love and falling asleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $29.85

Day Six

8 a.m. — I get a text alert that the PATH is experiencing major delays today. Ugh, this feels like a weekly occurrence. As I grab my lunch and start to head out the door, my roommate asks me to check if she left her straightener on in her room. Luckily she didn't – crisis avoided.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — It's not unbearably cold out today, so I go for a walk to stretch my legs. I stop into Bath & Body Works because I'm in the market for new candles, because the dozen I already have in my room isn't enough. I settle on a mint eucalyptus candle and head back to the office for another afternoon full of meetings and phone calls. $26.67
3 p.m. — I have a client based in Tel Aviv who's in New York right now for a product photoshoot, so we decide to meet up for tea. She orders an earl grey tea and I get myself a green tea. I pick up the tab on my corporate card. I have to head back to the office for a call at 4, so both head out. ($12.35 expensed)
5:30 p.m. — There's a major snowstorm heading our way and our work policy is that if NYC public schools close, our office closes. Mayor de Blasio announces in a press conference this afternoon that he's closing schools, so looks like we're getting a snow day! The snow is supposed to start tonight, so we all head out a bit early to prepare.
6:15 p.m. — A clothing subscription box I ordered arrives today, so I get charged for it. It's great because I don't even have to leave the house to shop, and the pieces that I receive are usually things I wouldn't pick out for myself but still end up loving. In today's box, I got seven items of clothing. I decide to keep five: a bomber jacket, two sleeveless shirts, and two cute short-sleeved shirts. I'm going to send back a cocktail dress, since I don't have an immediate need for it, and a pair of jeans that don't fit very well. $255.20
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — My roommates and I have been trying to nail down a night for all of us to go out to dinner, and we're finally all free tonight. We head over to the hibachi restaurant with a couple of bottles of wine since the place is BYOB. I always get unreasonably stressed when the cook tosses food in everyone's mouths, because I never catch it, but on the third try, I catch the piece of zucchini that he tosses my way! I'd consider this a successful trip. $36.65
10:30 p.m. — We're all a little bit buzzed getting back to the apartment and each have another glass of wine in the kitchen before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $318.52

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Since its a snow day, I sleep a little bit later than usual and quickly eat a yogurt before my 9 a.m. check-in call with my supervisor. We chat through the day's priorities and plan to reconnect again at the end of the day. We're super busy today, which stresses me out. It's much harder to work quickly on my small laptop as opposed to the giant desktop I have in the office, but I throw on my headphones and start jamming on a few projects.
12:30 p.m. — One of my roommates is working from home as well today, and since I've had a really productive morning, I step away from my computer for a bit and we chat and have lunch together. We talk about watching a movie later, but she and her boyfriend get into an argument, so she has to deal with that for a while. Yikes.
Advertisement
5 p.m. — My friends who live a few floors down text me to say that they're ordering food and wine. I really shouldn't order food since I have plenty of groceries to make dinner, but it's a snow day, so I cave and go downstairs. I bring my laptop to their apartment to work a bit longer and then log off when the food gets delivered. I pay for my share. $11
7 p.m. — After we're all a couple of glasses of wine deep, we decide to play Heads Up. We're all pretty buzzed at this point, so the game is even more hilarious than usual, and we end up having so much fun that we don't realize we've been playing for hours! The night is winding down and so is the snow, so there's definitely no chance of a snow day tomorrow. I head back up to my apartment around 11:30, throw on sweatpants, and hop into bed.
Daily Total: $11
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.
Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following themes:
Advertisement
1. International Week: We want to run one Money Diary from a different country each day for a week. Want to show what it's like to live outside of the U.S.? Submit here!
2. Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Rep your state and submit here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Keep Track Of Your Vacation Spending: We're looking to get the inside scoop on when, where, and how our peers are using their vacation days. Open to tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip? Email us at traveldiary@refinery29.com.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that color what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most most vibrant cultural and culinary centers—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.