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 consultant who makes $95,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Rimowa phone case.
Industry: Life Sciences
Location: New York, NY
Net Worth: $173,000 ($13,000 in personal savings, $1,000 in my 401(k) and $59,000 in an educational savings account set up by my parents. Trust fund: $100,000 (more on that below)).
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,350
Rent: $2,100 (I live with one roommate in a flex two-bedroom apartment. She lives in the flex room and pays $1,800 a month).
401(k): 3% of every paycheck (and it is matched by my company).
Monthly MetroCard: covered by my work.
Cell Phone/Streaming Services: parents pay.
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?
Yes. My parents were invested in my education from a very young age. I was always a good student and went to a magnet high school. College was never a question and the expectation was that I would go to the best college I was accepted to. My college tuition was paid for by a faculty tuition benefit from my mother’s job and my parents paid for my housing and gave me pocket money throughout my four years.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
The main thing I learned about money from my parents was to save. Even though my father works in finance, we never really had conversations about investing, taxes or building credit, which I regret. My mother is from South America and grew up in a primarily cash economy so I never really had any financial conversations with her beyond simply saving as much as possible.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was the summer after my freshman year of college. I worked as a teaching assistant at a local tutoring center and was paid slightly above minimum wage. I decided to work mainly because I wanted to experience having a job since I never worked in high school like many of my friends did, which I realize was a luxury.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No. My parents were older when they had me and very financially stable. I did notice that as I got older there was more spending flexibility in our household and we started going on nicer vacations, renovated the house, etc.
Do you worry about money now?
A bit. Living in New York is expensive and I am planning on going to medical school this year so I am trying to save as much as possible while also enjoying my income. I never like to feel like I am stretched for cash so I am fairly meticulous about checking my account balance and credit card bills. I don’t have a strict budget but I have a pretty good idea of what I can spend in a month to meet my savings goals and I stick to that as much as possible. I am also concerned about the cost and length of pursuing a medical education and am intensely aware that it will be a long time until I am making an income that allows me to save and that I will likely need to take out loans to finance part of my education.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’m not yet completely financially responsible for myself. I am still on my parents’ health insurance, they still pay my phone bill and occasionally I will charge an Uber to their account. I know they would be happy to support me if I needed more help but this year I have tried my best to be as financially responsible for myself as possible, knowing that when I go to grad school, I will once again be financially reliant on them.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. My college was paid for by my mother’s job and this year I received a trust of $100,000 as my inheritance from my grandparents. I hope to avoid touching that inheritance for as long as possible and I don’t have full access to it until I am 35.
7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off but it’s so hard to get up. I haven’t been to work in person for almost four weeks because we were moving offices, I was traveling and then I was sick, so today will be my first day in our new office. This new commute is a lot more involved than my previous one so I’m thankful that I am between projects and won’t miss any morning meetings if I get lost.
7:45 a.m. — I pour myself the last of my Starbucks iced coffee with a splash of 1% milk and eat applesauce for breakfast. The iced coffee is a luxury because it’s like $10 a container but my Keurig coffee started making me nauseous and I need at least one cup a day to function. It lasts me a week so at least it’s cheaper than buying coffee every day…or at least that’s how I rationalize.
9:15 a.m. — I make it to the office with no incident (using my prepaid MetroCard). In the office, I putter around for a bit, try out the new coffee machine and pick a desk by the window.
11 a.m. — I spend the morning doing project reviews and catching up on some administrative things. Break for lunch and get a rice and chicken shawarma bowl with hummus, baba ganoush and cucumbers. $14.25
3 p.m. — I read a very unfortunate email that tells me I’ve been waitlisted at a medical school. I’ve already been accepted to a few but there is something about waitlists that inherently bothers me. Tell me you want me or tell me you don’t…don’t keep me on the back burner. I put my head down and work on putting together a case study slide for a project I just finished.
4:45 p.m. — It’s supposed to snow and I’m fairly wrapped up with work so I head home on the subway (using my prepaid MetroCard) and call my mom to complain about how this waitlist situation feels weirdly similar to a toxic situationship.
4:45 p.m. — I pick up some pineapple chunks and more coffee at the grocery store that is very conveniently located next to my building. $18.24
6:10 p.m. — I finish up a work request and make some dinner. I make a chicken bowl with rotisserie chicken, leftover rice and half an avocado. Dump some leftover Trader Joe’s miso ginger broth and some soy sauce on it to revive the rice and call it a day.
7 p.m. — Snack on some pineapple and attempt to pack for my Thursday trip to California to see my boyfriend, B.
11:15 p.m. — I do my simple skincare (CeraVe face wash, Paula’s Choice 8% BHA exfoliant, CeraVe moisturizer) and head to bed after a lengthy FaceTime with B.
Daily Total: $32.49
8:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I spend 10 minutes in bed on my phone.
8:40 a.m. — Roll out of bed, wash my face, brush my teeth, make an iced coffee and open my laptop. I have a deep appreciation for working from home.
10:15 a.m. — I eat the rest of the pineapple I got yesterday for breakfast at my desk and lazily sign up for some work trainings. My day is slow since I’m not staffed this week but hesitant to ask for work since I’m traveling Thursday.
12 p.m. — I stop by Sephora to pick up a travel-size shampoo and perfume ($54.44). I try to check out a sample sale but the line is around the block so I decide against it. $54.44
12:45 p.m. — I heat up some leftover stuffed peppers I made this weekend for lunch and eat a spoonful of peanut butter. The one bad thing about working from home is that when I do, my eating gets really weird.
3 p.m. — Hop in the shower. All I’ve been doing is scrolling today and my brain and eyes need a break.
4:15 p.m. — Head up to my mom’s office on the subway (prepaid MetroCard). She works in the city and is driving me to an orthodontist appointment I have in the suburbs this afternoon. One of my front teeth has been twisting and I’ve had too much orthodontic care in my life to not like my smile.
6:45 p.m. — Eat dinner at my parents’ house after being quoted $2,500 for a round of Invisalign to fix my shifting teeth. My mom graciously handles that payment and we have some chicken, rice and string beans for dinner. I top off the meal with a bowl of vanilla ice cream from my parents’ freezer.
9:15 p.m. — My dad drives me back to my apartment in the city — a luxury I will sorely miss once it’s gone. To be fair, I probably could have found an orthodontist closer to my apartment but going to the one that did my braces just seemed like the path of least resistance.
10 p.m. — I wash my face and use some of the Summer Fridays Jet Lag mask since my skin has been super dry. Catch up with a friend over the phone and FaceTime B. Bedtime is around 11.
Daily Total: $54.44
7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I’m super tired. Sometimes I sleep really soundly and sometimes I move around a lot at night and have super vivid dreams that leave me exhausted in the morning. Wash my face and moisturize, brush my teeth and make a coffee.
8:35 a.m. — Out the door and on the subway.
9:05 a.m. — Get settled for the day and ponder how I’m going to fill my time. I end up checking my email and reading a few articles on current events in the pharma space. I’m a nerd for the more sciencey articles and end up deep-diving on the mechanisms of several exciting new drugs that will hit the market in the next few years.
9:30 a.m. — Grab a mini KIND bar from the kitchen. This office is significantly larger than our old office so the trip to the kitchen is a journey. My days in the office are bumping up my average weekly step count.
12:50 p.m. — Lunchtime! I head to Chopt and grab a Santa Fe salad with crispy chicken and enjoy a lengthy lunch with five of my coworkers. $16.85
3 p.m. — Open another waitlist offer from a medical school. This sucks. A waitlist feels worse than a no.
3:30 p.m. — Grab a matcha with my work mentor for our weekly check-in. These coffees/beverages are covered by the company so we try to make the most of it.
4:15 p.m. — I head out of the office early. Just to be clear, this is an off week. I usually am pretty booked at work but the nature of consulting is it waxes and wanes and I’m trying to be better at accepting when I’m not busy. I get another waitlist offer on the train.
4:50 p.m. — I get off the train a stop early to walk and talk to my mom again about these waitlists. I’m feeling pretty defeated and stop by the wine store to grab a bottle of red. $30
6:15 p.m. — My friend from college comes by after work and I make myself a salad with more of my rotisserie chicken for dinner. We bake brownies, talk about life and our relationships, and make a solid dent in the wine.
9:30 p.m. — My friend leaves and I watch two episodes of Big Little Lies, which I’m rewatching for the third time, and FaceTime B. before heading to bed around midnight. But not before rebuying a Rimowa phone case that I bought two weeks ago and for some reason the order got canceled. $179.65
Daily Total: $226.50
8:30 a.m. — I killed nearly a full bottle of wine last night so when my alarm goes off, I just lie a little longer.
8:55 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed and make a coffee. I eat some raspberries and a brownie for breakfast and open my work laptop. Honestly, I don’t even wash my face.
9:15 a.m. — I pick up a call from an unknown number and receive some of the best news of my life. I have been accepted to one of my top choice medical schools! I’m shaking and sweating and make the necessary calls to my mom and dad. We cry. I want to tell B. so badly but he is in a client workshop all day and I want this news to get the attention it deserves. I resolve to tell him tonight when I see him. Wow, this week has really given me whiplash.
10 a.m. — I buy tickets for a concert at the Brooklyn Mirage in a few months. A few college friends I don’t keep up with well enough are going and I deserve a treat today. $70.56
12:30 p.m. — Eat some soup dumplings from Trader Joe’s for lunch.
4:45 p.m. — I didn’t do much today besides distribute the good news, contemplate my life’s meaning and have a coffee chat with a girl from my undergrad who is interested in my company’s internship program. Regardless, I log off early, scarf a salad with the last of my chicken, avocado, green onion and tomato, and catch an Uber to Newark Airport. $98.54
6:15 p.m. — I am horrifyingly early for my flight, just how I like it. I plop down in an airport restaurant and order an exorbitantly priced Stella and call my mom. I consider getting chicken tenders but then think about the loans I’m going to have to take out in a few months and decide against it. $11.54
7 p.m. — Pick up a bottle of water and board my flight. $6.58
12:15 a.m. — Touch down in CA. I’m exhausted. It was a brutal flight with a lot of turbulence and I forgot to pack my neck pillow so sleep eluded me. Thank God for B., he is waiting for me at the terminal exit. One of my favorite parts about flying to see him is he always meets me at the airport even though he doesn’t have a car. After a long hug we catch an Uber to his place (he pays).
1:30 a.m. — After eating some very mediocre chicken halal platters, we knock out.
Daily Total: $187.22
7 a.m. — I wake up and log onto my work computer. I want to be online for East Coast hours today just in case but a 6 a.m. wakeup was not on the cards. After another hour of dozing with my laptop in bed, I head to the dining room table to read through some emails and to let B. get another hour of sleep.
9 a.m. — Have some coffee and cereal (Honey Nut Chex purchased in advance just for me) with B. and chat before our meetings. I also take a quick shower.
2:30 p.m. — Great news! B. just got approved for a transfer to New York! I’m so excited to have him nearby and this means he’ll be closer to family and college friends as well. A win across the board.
3:30 p.m. — We both log off and nap. I’m exhausted and B. has effectively been working East Coast hours lately so he is too.
6:30 p.m. — B. and I head to dinner at a local seafood restaurant. We get oysters, crab linguine and a bottle of wine. B. kindly pays for dinner.
9:30 p.m. — We have a whole night out at the bars with B.’s college friends. Everyone is super sweet and we stay out long past my bedtime. I buy a round of drinks. $45.61
3 a.m. — End up back at B.’s apartment, chatting with some of his friends about current events and travel. I’m the last girl standing so I decide to turn in at around 3:30 and B. joins me shortly after.
Daily Total: $45.61
1:30 p.m. — We wake up super late today for obvious reasons but after a shower and microwaved Jimmy Dean’s breakfast burritos, we are ready to take on the day.
2:30 p.m. — Grab burritos (yes, we are having a very burrito-filled day) for lunch (B. pays).
4 p.m. — It gets cold and windy so after a few attempts to find a coffee shop with indoor seating, we stop at a boba shop. B. gets a hot boba and I provide some cash for us to play the claw machine they have in the store. I win a plush yellow dinosaur on my first try. $2
5 p.m. — We uber back to B.’s (he pays), grab extra jackets and a few ciders, and head to a park with an insane view of the city for sunset. The climb up is not for the weak but so worth it. I am also reminded that my current workout routine of one Pilates class a week isn’t doing much for my cardiovascular health.
6:45 p.m. — After a quick change back at B.’s apartment, we head to dinner at a Spanish tapas-style restaurant on the water. We get a charcuterie board, little smoked salmon bites that have truffle honey on them, marinated olives and chicken croquetas. We also each have a gin and tonic. The food is excellent and B. pays.
9 p.m. — I call the Uber home. $8.67
10:15 p.m. — Another night out. After hanging out with B.’s roommates for a bit, we head to his coworker’s birthday drinks celebration. Of course, we wind up at bars after. I buy myself and B. a few drinks. $65.42
3:15 a.m. — Bedtime! I’m beat. You would think coming from New York, I’d be able to handle the nightlife, but at home I have gotten very comfortable with calling it a night at a maximum of 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $76.09
11 a.m. — I open my eyes and immediately have the unfortunate realization that I have to leave today. I hop in the shower while B. sleeps and by the time I’m out, he’s up and making eggs. We have breakfast on the couch, chat with his roommates and snuggle a bit. B. is big into quality time and is actively converting me.
1:15 p.m. — Head to the airport in an Uber with B. (he pays). I love that he always comes to get me and see me off and I won’t complain about the extra time together. He walks me all the way to security and waves a final goodbye.
2 p.m. — I realize my flight is going to get into Newark at almost 11 p.m. and I should get something to eat lest I starve. I check out the airport store and get a big glass bottle of Voss water as well as a cheese stick and some fruit snacks. A bit of a rogue haul if I do say so myself. $14.22
2:45 p.m. — I get to the gate to make sure it exists and eat my cheese stick. As soon as I finish, my body realizes that it is in fact hungry, and I go hunt for more sustenance. I settle on a mango berry smoothie, which is far sweeter than I had hoped but fulfills my craving for something fresh and hydrating after this weekend’s antics. $14.35
2:45 p.m. — Board the plane and settle in for a long journey. I spend the first hour of the flight trying to get the in-flight texting to work but then give up and watch a rom-com. At some point, I fall asleep and wake up just as we are preparing for landing, which is always ideal.
10:30 p.m. — I get an Uber home from the airport and call B. from the car to let him know I got back safely and thank him for being an amazing host as per usual. $117.39
11:05 p.m. — I am home and hungry. I drop my bags in my apartment and run down to the grocery store on the corner to get my favorite easy meal, a bowl of Shin brand ramen ($4.99). I make it with half water and half bone broth before washing my face, laying my laptop on my desk for tomorrow and finally knocking out. $4.99
Daily Total: $150.95
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