A Week In New York, NY, On A $135,000 Salary

Refinery29
·27 min read

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: an investment banking analyst who makes $135,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Valentine’s Day card.

Occupation: Investment Banking Analyst
Industry: Finance
Age: 22
Location: New York, NY
Salary: ~$135,000 ($85,000 base with discretionary bonus)
Net Worth: ~$70,000 (40% in Growth ETFs, 50% in S&P 500 ETFs, 10% held in cash/liquid accounts, 401k: ~$13,000, Roth IRA: ~$33,000, HSA: ~$4,500, Investment account: ~$18,000, Bank/liquid cash: ~$1,000.)
Debt: $0, although have monthly credit cards that I pay off every month
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): ~$1,900
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: ~$1,470 for a room and utilities in Manhattan. I have two roommates and we flexed a one-bedroom into three bedrooms.
Renter’s Insurance: $5
Phone Bill: $15
Contact Lenses: $52
Health Insurance: $72
Amazon Prime, Spotify, iPhone Storage: $15.90

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?
There was definitely an expectation for me to attend higher education. Growing up in an Asian household, my parents constantly pressured me to attend/apply to prestigious colleges. It was a meter of success for them. These conversations began in elementary school. They were disappointed when I went to an in-state college instead, although it was viewed as the next best option. I received my bachelor’s degree from an in-state college. My tuition was funded by my mother and my room and board were funded by my father. I received a small scholarship for my academic achievements and funded my day-to-day spending with on-campus jobs (barista, teaching assistant) along with summer internships.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up, the first thing that was instilled in me was the importance of saving. My grandparents and parents both emphasized this. Later on, my mother educated me about investing to the best of her ability. My father educated me about spending on the right things (things that improve quality of life).

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a KUMON instructor in high school. I nabbed the job for some extra spending money.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not worry about money growing up. My parents both earn a comfortable salary and have saved well their entire lives. They both started their own businesses and are invested in financial instruments. I am conscious that I was an expensive child and that my parents spared no expense (piano, ballet, violin, ice skating, clarinet, additional supplementary online courses). In return, I worked my hardest at every single class I went to. I think even when I was younger, though, we were quite conscious about how we spent money. It was never careless and we would save in ways that we could.

Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now. I view money and savings as a measure of freedom and am trying to save aggressively for retirement, ideally early. At the same time though, I believe in spending money on experiences and things that make memories. All of that being said, I am actively trying to grow my income as fast as possible while simultaneously cutting costs where it makes sense. I am also trying to develop/brainstorm passive income streams. Investing in equity is one method that makes sense given the amount of time I need to spend on my current job (80 hours minimum/week).

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 22, although I think my mother did a good job of progressively developing my financial responsibility. In high school, I was responsible for my own gas. In college, I was responsible for budgeting my day-to-day spending and started covering my own phone bill. I believe that either my mother or father would be willing to step in financially if needed.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
In college, I was given an allowance of $100/month in addition to what I already had. Around the holidays (Christmas, New Year, Lunar New Year, and my birthday), my grandparents always tended to slip me $1,000-$2,000. My family also gave me around $6,000 collectively for my move to NYC (an excessive sum but I think they felt guilty for not physically helping me move since it was during COVID).

Day One

9 a.m. — Good morning! I wake up, scroll through my email notifications, and then head to the bathroom to start my skincare routine. I got my first facial three days ago, and the kindest facialist told me to focus more on moisturization. Routine is Great Barrier Relief serum from KraveBeauty, a dab of Vaseline Advanced Repair moisturizer, and La Roche Posay SPF 50 sunscreen. Afterward, I pour myself a cup of cold brew along with half a cup of oat milk and take a moment to write a sentence on what I’m grateful for today.

9:30 a.m. — Login to WFH life and scroll through my emails. Nothing pressing at the moment, although I flag a few emails from last night that I’ll address and work on later in the day. I’ve found lately that waiting to reply to emails can sometimes be the best solution (issues often resolve themselves). I see a notification about my tax forms and take a moment to consolidate and send everything to one email. Will handle these next month when I get home and can use my mom’s TurboTax account.

10 a.m. — Roommate heads over with her boyfriend’s new puppy! Take some time to pet him and chat about our recent experiences with COVID. I tested positive at the beginning of January and had relatively mild symptoms (only remaining issue is that my sense of smell is not back at 100%). She had a recent COVID scare and had to quarantine.

10:30 a.m. — Work starts popping off in earnest. I answer a few emails, mess up sending out an email invite, and send out materials for a call in an hour. I frequently feel micromanaged at my job and am actively job searching. After handling, I sit down and consume some social media, online window shop, read some articles, book my next facial in a month, and look at some tennis clubs in Manhattan. I’m looking to join one in the near future since I think it’s important for my mental health to actively pursue hobbies on the weekends.

11:30 a.m. — Jump on a call where we walk through IPO materials with a high-touch client. We’ve been sending materials every other day, most of these created by moi, resulting in the most annoying dynamic. I take a deep breath and remind myself to be grateful for my paycheck, the experience, and the opportunity to learn.

12 p.m. — Make some lunch. Samyang Buldak Light ramen, three eggs, and some frozen veggies. First time trying these instant noodles. The verdict is that they are definitely good, but I prefer the Chicken Carbo noodles that are creamier. Head out for a 30-minute walk. It’s snowing pretty heavily and although I love snow, I quickly abandon the walk and decide I will go for a quick yoga session. On my way back up to my apartment, I notice a cute lamp in the furniture disposal area of my building. Have an internal debate about whether or not to grab, given that my room is tiny. Decide to grab it and test it out.

1 p.m. — My dad calls me to tell me he’s made a Costco account and to buy vitamins from it. I order the vitamins and pet the puppy goodbye. Quick 20-minute yoga session during which multiple emails from the VP flood in. I try to resist the urge to check during yoga, but get too anxious and check through the emails before resuming my yoga session. Back to work.

2 p.m. — Natural lull in the day, haven’t gotten any new emails in twenty minutes or so. Feeling a bit tired (worked until 2 a.m. last night), so I masturbate then take a nap. Back up checking and responding to emails. Itching to go out for a run but the weather forecast isn’t great…decide to just go tomorrow. Eat a couple of gyoza and an apple. Make a reservation for a 5 p.m. gym session in my building, fingers crossed I can make it.

5 p.m. — Get changed and head downstairs for a quick full-body weights session. Keep an eye on email, luckily nothing urgent comes through. Back upstairs for a quick body shower, and a layer of Innisfree green tea serum on my face. Refill my water bottle and make a cup of green tea. Have a moment of internal panic as it’s Day 42 of my menstrual cycle, before trying to reassure myself that it’s likely because last week was pretty stressful in terms of work. Then freak out again by reminding myself that I’ve been randomly spotting the past two to three weeks. Make a mental note to get a pregnancy test tomorrow.

6 p.m. — Dinner! Spicy salmon leaf salad from Dig Inn (bought yesterday) with two clementines. Right as I’m about to eat, several things happen at once. The associate emails my team asking to catch up, a friend asks whether we can FaceTime because she’s debating breaking up with her boyfriend, and my boyfriend texts me (first time today I might add) that something at work happened today that might affect our relationship. One thing at a time. I eat dinner, then start working again. FaceTime my friend. Text the boyfriend back. Keep an eye on email.

8 p.m. — Work on some materials, then lose motivation. No one’s emailed me chasing for them anyways. Do my nighttime skincare routine (Matcha hemp cleanser, Great Barrier Relief serum, Laneige lip mask), brush my teeth, and then snuggle into bed all while keeping an eye on my emails.

10 p.m. — VP emails and I say a quick prayer to myself it won’t result in more work, then open her email. Thankfully, the associate blocks and tackles the request. I get peckish and slice up an apple to eat before returning to bed.

11 p.m. — Field a few emails from my phone. Starting to feel exhausted and I want to head to bed, but know I need to stay up until 1 a.m. just in case. I plan my meals for tomorrow and set an alarm on my Google Home. Handle another email from a VP on a different team from my phone.

11:30 p.m. — VP emails. I panic and check. Nothing urgent and the associate handles.

12:30 a.m. — No emails for the last 30 minutes or so, I’m exhausted and don’t think I can make it until 1. I take the risk and go to bed. Lights out.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9 a.m. — Morning! Scroll through emails and see an urgent one that I handle before running through my morning routine. Coffee, skincare, one-line of gratitude, and then login to work. The plan for today is to work, go for a longer run (30-40 minutes), and then grab dinner with the boyfriend.

10 a.m. — I’m cramping pretty heavily. Say a quick prayer that this means my period is coming and then start looking into reloading my Commuter Card (allows me to put in pre-tax money and save!). The website is pretty old and outdated. $255

10:30 a.m. — Receive an email telling me my credit score’s decreased. Cue confusion. I’ve paid off everything on time, so conclude that this is because I opened a new credit card this past month (Amazon credit card for 5% back on Amazon and Whole Foods). Start reading through the morning news, Morning Brew, Term Sheet, and occasionally Money Stuff by Matt Levine (really enjoy this one but it tends to be longer).

11 a.m. — Meeting for IPO. Juggle client request emails during the meeting. When I flip back to the meeting, I realize that it’s developed into a shitshow free-for-all. Cue shrug. Not really my problem. Address a LinkedIn headhunter request as well.

12 p.m. — I am HUNGRY!! A weights session will definitely do that to me. Same lunch as yesterday (ramen, eggs, veggies). Reply to emails and head out for a quick walk outdoors. Back to work afterward. Call my mom and chat about boy life and whether I should take on a new business opportunity managing a family member’s portfolio. A new deal comes down the pipeline at work. Kind of exciting, but at the same time, means more work. Another analyst takes point on running the model while I start pulling together preliminary research materials to prep the whole team.

3:30 p.m. — Lace up my sneakers and go out for a 30-minute interval run. Check emails during the run. Shower and shave, work a bit, then clean and vacuum my room. Make a bowl of oatmeal with vanilla greek yogurt, almond butter, and monk fruit sweetener, eat it, then back to work. Handle some emails from headhunters as well.

6 p.m. — Slice up an apple because I’m peckish. Eat while on hold with tech support. My boyfriend finally replies to my text from this morning. I consider myself a pretty low-maintenance girlfriend but am considering bringing up the topic of replying more often. I get that it’s a workday, but maybe he could text me briefly during lunch? Don’t want to come off as crazy, but it really would be nice to get a message every three or four hours. Despite these thoughts, his text really does make me smile.

7 p.m. — I’m hungry. Air fry some gyoza and veggies and decide to not wait for the boyfriend for dinner as he said he wouldn’t be here until 8, which would mean waiting two more hours to eat. Buy shaving cream from Amazon. My boyfriend comes over afterward bringing baklava and a tiramisu tart! It’s our one month. We chat and go pick up his take-out. He eats, I eat the treats and another apple. He is the sweetest. We cuddle and have sex. He goes to bed early. $20.34

12:30 a.m. — Send off an email pushing work to tomorrow (internal tech system was down, not much I can do about that). Lights out.

Daily Total: $275.34

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Roommate’s alarm goes off. I almost cry before shoving my noise-canceling foam earbuds back in (they fell out while I slept) and rolling over. My boyfriend’s alarm goes off and he leaves for work. I don’t need to be up this early but I can’t really fall asleep anymore. I’m never really able to sleep past the first alarm. I begrudgingly get up and check emails as there’s a lot of noise in the apartment now. The cleaning lady came over (she is the sweetest!). Roommate texts me her ATM card isn’t working, so I front the cash, leave it on the counter, and Venmo charge my roommates. This is the first time we’ve had a cleaner! I haven’t counted it into the monthly utilities yet, because I’m not sure this is going to end up being a regular occurrence. $43.34

9 a.m. — Skincare, coffee, baklava, and one line of gratitude. Read through a few R29 articles. Login to work laptop. VP for a different team emails and I see that no one on that team is logged in yet, so I run the preliminary calculations and debate sending them through since I don’t usually cover these. Decide against it and a few moments later the second-year analyst covers it, cha-ching! Also have a moment of panic because I really need to coffee poop, but the bathroom is covered in Clorox and not ready for use yet. Go poop anyways.

10 a.m. — Read through a few morning newsletters and see that the stock market dipped yesterday. Debate whether it is too late to buy into the dip, but then check markets and decide that it’s not. Briefly read through the investment thesis of an ETF I’m interested in (I’m not allowed to buy single stocks because of my job), check its top 10 holdings, and decide that I like what I see, then deploy a bit of capital. See a Bloomberg article about a possible psychedelics ETF and make a mental note to research and possibly invest in the future. Log in to a three-hour-long meeting. While it’s going, I answer headhunter emails and fill out job search forms they’ve sent through.

11:30 a.m. — Juggle two meetings. One from my phone and one from my laptop. Our VP gives a pretty good rundown of the Gamestop situation. I’m always impressed by how well-spoken and concise he can be. He’s definitely one of the leaders I take notes on. Personable, friendly, communicative, balances stakeholders well, sharp with numbers, business model savvy, and a great dad to boot. Almost seems like a superhero, but then I remind myself that these are the facets of him that he’s chosen to show me (over Zoom lol).

12 p.m. — I am so exhausted, but this is really per the norm every time I get my period. Crack open a vitamin energy drink. It’s bubbly and delicious! I’m so pleasantly surprised. Love it.

1 p.m. — Meeting ends and I make lunch. Eggs, avocado, naan, sriracha, Everything but the Bagel. A go-to and so delicious! I usually put kimchi on this too, but today I am out. I don’t feel good (way tired) so I have another energy drink. Writing this down makes me realize this is probably not the healthiest approach…but they can’t be that bad for me, right? Go for a quick 30-minute walk in the sunshine.

2 p.m. — Start work again and immediately feel overwhelmed. An associate just dumped a ton of work on me and I feel like crying before I remind myself to take things one step at a time.

2:30 p.m. — Take a break. Answer some texts. Feel like crying but try not to. Mom texts with a stock recommendation and I text back saying thank you but I’m not allowed to buy individual stocks. Dial up the heat in my room and make myself a green tea in a pathetic attempt to get more natural caffeine and self-soothe. Too many emails are coming in so I get back to work answering them. Handle client requests and make a bowl of oatmeal with vanilla greek yogurt and almond butter. Same old.

3:30 p.m. — Still feeling like shit. I have a client call and a million emails. I feel so overwhelmed and anxious.

5:30 p.m. — This call won’t end. Order dinner into the office, put on makeup, head into the office to focus, and try and churn out some work. Dinner arrives. It’s pretty good, but wish they gave more veggies. Munch on two mini apples as I work ($25 expensed)

8 p.m. — I’ve made some good progress, so I wrap up and walk home. Grab a pregnancy test on my way home (day 44 of my menstrual cycle, I’m worried since I average 37 days) and am happy to report, YA GIRL IS NOT PREGNANT!!! FaceTime my friend (same one from two days ago) for the boy update. $18.99

10 p.m. — I do some more work. I’m exhausted…again (the theme of today). I go through my skincare routine and lay in bed, waiting for my coworker to reply. Once he replies, I quickly make updates. Lay in bed for a bit before getting up to take stock of what groceries I have. About enough for seven breakfasts of ramen and eggs and three snacks of oatmeal. There are also a few bits and bobs like an apple, a popsicle, a cookie, etc.

12 a.m. — What is with everyone today? Emails are rapidly coming through from two teams. Nothing I need to take action on, but it makes me anxious. Masturbate before bed. Check emails one last time and see nothing. Lights out.

Daily Total: $62.33

Day Four

9 a.m. — Morning! I wake up feeling much better than I did yesterday. Scroll through email and see that I missed one from 12:51 a.m. addressed directly to me. Good thing this one was non-urgent, I breathe a sigh of relief. Skincare, coffee, one line of gratitude. Respond to a few texts from friends and scroll through social media. This morning, I notice I’m able to taste my coffee better!!! Baby steps. Login and start work. Decide to tune in to our global all-hands call because I haven’t for a while. It’s nice to hear the strategy behind all of the work, but I can’t say I care too much. Turnover is high in the industry. Grind some coffee beans and make a two-liter carafe of cold brew. Feeling jittery. Seems like my life is an endless repetition of either too little or too much caffeine. Yikes.

11:30 a.m. — Kick off a client call with small talk. Juggle a billion things during the call (scheduling calls, finishing up and sending out research, messaging the boyfriend, scheduling weekend tennis). Check the lunch menu at work and decide to go into office for lunch.

12:30 p.m. — A bunch of things explode in my face at once. Make a to-do list of things to clear before tomorrow. No way am I working on a Saturday.

3 p.m. — One of my co-workers is in the office today, so we take a quick break and grab coffee (he treats). He tells me a lot about what a great group I’m in and gives friendly advice. To be honest, though, it’s too little too late. I can’t bring myself to care but try and smile and nod at the right moments. When we get back, I eat a fruit cup and vanilla yogurt from the cafeteria.

4:30 p.m. — Kick off client meeting with small talk. Kick off a second client meeting with small talk. Order dinner into the office. ($25 expensed)

6 p.m. — I finally come up for air. I’m so mentally exhausted. Walk home and make a list of things I need to wrap up before finishing for the night. I take a quick break because I need it and eat dinner. Have a kitchen sink cookie from Dig Inn for dessert. My grandpa texts me asking how I’m doing. He says that he hasn’t heard from me in a while. I’m close with my grandparents and haven’t chatted with him since last weekend. All of a sudden, I feel like crying. I respond with one word, “tired.” I’m just…feeling a lot of things. I place a pickup order for a steak salad for tomorrow’s dinner. $22

8 p.m. — Order a Valentine’s Day Card for the boyfriend on Amazon Prime. I already bought his present a week or so ago but need a card too! $5.43

12 a.m. — Lights out.

Daily Total: $27.43

Day Five

9 a.m. — Morning! I’m woken up by my roommate having sex. Such is the roommate life. Think I drifted off to sleep around midnight last night. I wake up and run through skincare before drinking another one of the vitamin energy drinks. Delicious! One line of gratitude and then I take some time to journal. It’s a gorgeous sunny day in NYC. One of those days where I wish cafes were open so that I could sit in a cute coffee shop drenched in natural sunlight. Alas, they are not. Since it’s a day off, I don’t wear my Apple Watch. I like the watch for how practical it is for work (never miss an email, always can respond quickly), but honestly, it’s felt like a handcuff for a while. FaceTime my grandpa and whole family and slice up an apple to eat as a snack. It’s really lovely just catching up with them.

1 p.m. — Bundle up in five billion layers and go for an outdoor tennis session with a tennis partner. We chat it up, hit a bunch of rallies, and grab matcha lattes and a pastry to share afterward. She treats this time and we sit in the sun and just chat about life. Get back home and defrost. See that a cute boy from the past just texted *eye emoji* and another one from the past just Snapchatted me, what is with everyone today? Make a meal of eggs, avocado, and tandoori naan.

5:30 p.m. — Go and pick up dinner. Subway and walk there and back. I eat dinner and honestly….it is a little disappointing. Steak is overdone and the salad is literally just lettuce. Ah well. Pretty tired. Lay in bed and scroll through social media before drifting off at around 11.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up! Wish I could have slept longer until 9, since I don’t feel 100% rested, but I can’t seem to sleep anymore. Run through skincare, one line of gratitude, drink the remainder of my matcha latte from yesterday. Start studying with a fresh page of notes. NYC is really grey today so I turn on my sunlight lamp for a good hour or two. Paint my nails during a break.

12 p.m. — Make lunch! Typical ramen meal. Emails start flooding through for work so I take a 30-minute walk then start on them.

4 p.m. — Make a bowl of oatmeal then take a nap. Handle a few work items and head uptown to pick up some tacos from Casa Birria. I’ve wanted to try these out since I’ve seen them everywhere. THEY ARE DELICIOUS. LITERALLY SO FLAVORFUL AND THE DEPTH OF FLAVOR IS AMAZING. WOW. It’s snowing hard and it makes me fall in love with the city a little more. I wonder when it’ll ever feel like home here. $14

9 p.m. — Read a chapter of Middlesex. Browse social media. Lights out.

Daily Total: $14

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Happy Monday! I wake up feeling pretty refreshed. Run through skincare, make a coffee, and write one line of gratitude. I read a poem yesterday that I found really beautiful, and one line really captivated me, so I copy the last stanza and line into my gratitude journal as well. “As if you were on fire from within, the moon lives in the lining of your skin” – Pablo Neruda. Usually, this space is dedicated to Polaroids, but since my boyfriend and I didn’t take pictures this past weekend, I repurpose it for poetry. Find that I quite like the change. It’s basically blizzarding in NYC today and I love the way it looks, it reminds me of home. Turn on all the lights in my room including the sunlight lamp.

9 a.m. — I see an emergency order banning travel, which means boyfriend can’t come over tonight and chat like we thought we’d be able to…privately wonder if this means he’s about to become a lover in the past tense. I really like him but can’t justify having to repeat myself for a bare minimum. Inspired by Drake lyrics, I dance around my room for 20 minutes. Man, I miss clubbing and going out pre-COVID. Login to work. Look up flower arranging classes in NYC. If the breakup happens tonight, I’ll take myself on Valentine’s Day!

10:30 a.m. — A call gets put on my calendar. I reprioritize workstreams so that I am more prepared for it. I start working on a financial summary.

11:30 a.m. — Whelp. Shit tons of work just got dumped on my face. I make and eat lunch on back-to-back calls. Take things one at a time but feel the anxiety creeping up.

2 p.m. — Run downstairs for a quick full body weight session. Keep an eye on emails and nothing comes up. Answer urgent emails after I come back upstairs, then shower and settle back into work. Make and eat a bowl of oatmeal on the side. Lender call afterward. Send through some work items then decide to take a break.

6 p.m. — Eat half of a spring onion pancake with some veggies and coconut aminos, then decide to make dinner early since I am hungry!!! Always happens after a weights session. I sauté chicken breast (thawed and pre-marinated from a few hours ago), frozen veggies, and pop some frozen naan into the toaster. Absolutely delicious. How do I not eat this meal more often? It literally hits all the macros and is SO BOMB.

9 p.m. — I have a long, exhausting call with my boyfriend after which I don’t know how I feel. We’re staying together for now, but it’s brought up some deeper thoughts that I’ve always had. I feel weird about the entire situation. My dad calls and then a friend calls me after that. I finish chatting with everyone and just feel… Weird. I write down every tidbit that I can remember into a journal and just try to call it a night. Put on my favorite perfume in an attempt to self-soothe. Emails are still streaming in but hopefully, nothing I need to address will come through.

12 a.m. — Whelp. Work from a VP comes through. Get to work turning comments. I frankly consider just sending in my two weeks notice on the spot, but don’t have the balls to do it.

2 a.m. — Just sent off a full deck to the managing director, but frankly I need to quit. This can’t possibly be good for me.

Daily Total: $0

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