A Week In New York, NY, On A $250,000 Salary

Megan Decker
·17 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: a finance associate who makes $250,000 and spends some of her money this week on a Pura.

Occupation: Associate
Industry: Finance
Age: 25
Location: New York, NY
Salary: $250,000 ($115,000 base salary with $135,000 annual bonus last year)
Net Worth: ~$300,000 ($95,000 in an employer-sponsored 401(k), $68,000 in a personal investment account, $22,000 in a personal retirement account (IRA), $13,000 in Fundrise (real estate ETF), $102,000 in a high yield savings account (Currently an anomaly, I try to keep ~$10,000 here as an emergency fund, but my year-end bonus is currently sitting in this account as I decide how to invest it).)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,000
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,050 for my half of a two-bedroom apartment in Manhattan that I share with my roommate, L.
Utilities: $150
Spotify: 10
Netflix: $14 (A group of friends and family exchange access to some of their streaming services)
Scribd: $11 (to read books and magazines on my iPad)
Misfits Market: $53 (I’m on a bi-weekly subscription, I get a box once a month and donate the other)
Apple Storage: $1
Renters Insurance: $7
Donations: $255 (Kids in Need of Defense, Planned Parenthood, City Harvest, and Wikipedia)
Fitness: Pre-COVID, I paid $87 a month for Classpass. Now, I pay ~$150 a month for classes (some livestream, some virtual) at my favorite fitness studios still operating. Because several of my favorite studios have had to shutter permanently during COVID, I feel like this is worth it to support my favorite instructors and studios.

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, growing up in a second/third-generation immigrant family, there was always a strong focus on education as *the* key to achievement in the U.S. My grandparents paid for all four of their children’s college and higher education on store clerk salaries (a testament to the fact that a few decades ago, service jobs used to actually provide a living wage). With the combination of my parents and grandparents saving for my college education while I was growing up and in-state tuition to a state school, I graduated from college debt-free.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents always emphasized the importance of saving more than you spend, spending wisely, and being generous with money when it matters (particularly to support family and friends in need). They also made sure I was financially literate from a young age. They discussed budgeting, tax preparation, how credit cards work, etc. They never discussed exactly how much money they made, but just communicated that financially, we were “comfortably middle class” or “upper-middle class.” In high school, my mom set up a credit card for me that she co-signed for so that I would begin to build credit.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was babysitting for my neighbors when I was a teenager. In retrospect, I was a pretty bad babysitter, but I guess the parents just appreciated the fact that I lived down the street and could be at their house on very short notice. The money I earned was entirely spending money for myself. At some point in high school, the expectation between myself and my parents became that they would pay for my groceries and shelter and I would pay for my own clothes, personal care, entertainment, etc.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Thankfully no. The most I ever remember being worried was during the 2007 – 2008 Great Recession. I was in middle school, but I heard (on the radio, news, school, etc.) about how the American middle class was being gutted and people were losing all of their savings. I distinctly remember asking my mom during a car ride what that meant for her and us. And her response was that her investment (e.g. her retirement, my college savings) accounts would be impacted, but that day-to-day, our lives were fine and we were a lot luckier than most.

Do you worry about money now?
No. I’m incredibly lucky to be working at a high-paying job where I can save about as much as I spend.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent when I graduated college and started working an investment banking job. I was (and am still) on my parents’ phone plan, but I direct deposit them quarterly for my portion of the bill.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and eat yogurt and make matcha tea for breakfast. Today’s President’s Day and because I’m off of work, I’m volunteering at a local food pantry/soup kitchen. I end up spending three hours packaging pecans and cookies into ~500 individual portions. This place serves around 700 meals to hungry and homeless New Yorkers every weekday. Since the COVID-pandemic set in, they’ve been offering food “to-go.” It takes an incredible amount of coordination from the staff and volunteers to make this happen every day.

12:30 p.m. — The volunteers have lunch together after shift, which ends up being fish, rice, and veggies. Delicious.

1 p.m. — Back home. I sign into my email, respond to a few things, and then take a nap.

5 p.m. — After a relaxing, lazy afternoon, I decide to sign up for a 6:30 barre class ($37). I walk there and back. $37

8 p.m. — Back home after barre, I heat up some leftovers I made over the weekend (salmon and pasta) and eat it with some chips and salsa.

9 p.m. — Tomorrow is one of my best friend’s (P.) birthdays and I’ve forgotten to get her something. Given that I haven’t seen her in over a year (because of COVID) and she lives in a different state, I feel like thoughtful birthday gifts are a nice way to share something tangible when everything else in our lives is virtual. I quickly scramble, text our other friend (N.) and we end up sending her some Compartes chocolate for her birthday ($25 for my half). It’ll end up arriving late, but P. isn’t currently at home anyways so hopefully, it arrives before she gets back. $25

Daily Total: $62

Day Two

9 a.m. — Wake up and make a smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies have been a cornerstone of my breakfast routine since high school (non-dairy unsweetened yogurt, frozen fruit, spinach, non-dairy milk, and whatever protein powders/seeds/oils my roommate L. or I have around).

1 p.m. — My workplace is allowing us to expense meals while working from home, which is very generous. I Seamless some roast chicken from a nearby gourmet grocery store ($18 with delivery cost and tip — expensed). I make a quick salad with mixed greens, avocado, macadamia nuts, and a dijon/apple cider vinegar/avocado oil dressing to eat with the chicken. ($18 expensed)

2 p.m. — I work through the afternoon, trying to sneak bites of roasted edamame beans between Zoom calls.

9 p.m. — Decide I’m done with work for the day, just in time to put on real pants and a little makeup before going out to dinner with my roommate, L. We both miss our pre-COVID lives where we would go out and see big groups of friends regularly and realize it’s going to be a long time before we are allowed to/feel comfortable to be hanging out with strangers at a crowded bar again. We agreed that we just need to spend more time and energy enjoying what we can in NYC, especially now that indoor dining just reopened. We snag a 9:30 reservation at an Italian restaurant. Thankfully, L. and I both love food and like to eat the same things, that’s probably 70% of why we get along as roommates. The veal and tiramisu and vibes are phenomenal. I really missed sitting indoors at restaurants and people watching the other diners and servers and bartenders, so tonight feels great. L.. and I split the bill — $100.10 for my portion. $110.10

11 p.m. — Do 20 minutes of half-assed, slightly tipsy yoga before bed.

Daily Total: $110.10

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — I go back and forth about whether or not I like working from home. I miss my cubicle space and being around other people while I work. But the one undeniable benefit is sleeping in every day. My first Zoom call today isn’t until 10, so I get to sleep in until 9:30. After answering a few quick emails, I make a matcha latte and change my nighttime pajamas into my marginally more professional daytime pajamas.

11 a.m. — I order a breakfast sandwich for a weekday brunch. It’s delicious even though I wolf it down in a few minutes between calls. ($24 expensed)

1:30 p.m. — I have four straight hours of Zoom after this, so I make a quick salad (just lettuce, oil, and vinegar) and get some water before sitting down again.

4 p.m. — Snack on some roasted edamame that I drunkenly purchased on Amazon but are actually pretty good.

7 p.m. — Going to be working late tonight, so I order dinner. I get some vegan dry pot from a Chinese restaurant. ($32.25 expensed)

11:30 p.m. — Finally done with work. I think work culture during the pandemic has overall gotten worse because items that used to be handled by quickly popping into someone’s office for ten minutes now take at least 30 minutes of back and forth over email. I manage to sign off and quickly get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8:50 a.m. — Roll out of bed, wash my face and throw on a collared shirt before my 9 a.m. Zoom meeting. It’s supposed to snow all day in New York.

10 a.m. — Two meetings/calls down. I make a matcha latte and smoothie (today it’s mango, pineapple, almond yogurt, collagen powder, and flax milk).

1 p.m. — Eat my leftover dry pot and cook some mushrooms for lunch.

3 p.m. — One of my prized possessions in life/most ridiculous purchase is my Philips Sonicare DiamondClean toothbrush. It was unreasonably expensive but has a ton of features that I actually use, namely an app that tracks how often I brush my teeth and areas of my mouth I tend to miss. It also lets me know if I’m brushing with too much pressure or going too quickly. I fully realize that these features are unnecessary, but believe me when I say they changed my life. I’m out of replacement heads so I buy some on Amazon. $48.56

7 p.m. — I roast the last of my veggies from my latest Misfits Markets box — some butternut squash and two red potatoes. I like Misfits and I generally choose the components of my box ahead of time. But the quantity of each fruit/veggie is always a surprise to me. Sometimes I’ll get two potatoes, sometimes I’ll get one carrot, sometimes I’ll get six beets. You really never know. L. and I eat the veggies with some salad for dinner.

8 p.m. — After dinner, I take a break to relax on the couch and watch Netflix before doing one last hour of work.

10 p.m. — Feeling a little achy from sitting all day, so I do 30 minutes of yoga with the Down Dog app before bed.

12 a.m. — Accidentally fall into an Instagram/TikTok hole instead of showering and getting ready for bed. Whoops.

Daily Total: $48.56

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I have a three-hour Zoom this morning so I wake up early enough to fully get ready and eat breakfast before starting my day.

10 a.m. — I get a reminder email about a friend’s virtual baby shower in a few weeks. She has a registry, but most of the items have been purchased so I send an Amazon gift card so she and her husband can buy whatever they need. $200

12 p.m. — L. makes pasta and veggies for lunch for both of us.

6 p.m. — Grocery store to get supplies for a dinner I’m having with a few friends at my apartment tonight. We’re a “pod” that has been hanging out together for months at this point. We’re essentially having a cheese plate for dinner. I also get some groceries for the week. I buy crackers, several kinds of cheese including vegan cheese (shoutout Miyoko brand), olives, sweet jarred peppers, raspberries, spinach, cucumbers, bell peppers, limes, Topo Chico mineral water, oat milk, noodles, and pasta. $69.92

8 p.m. — My friends (N. and S. plus L.) show up and we set up our cheese board and pop open some sparkling wine. Love this group, I can already tell it’s going to be a long night of eating, drinking, chatting, and listening to music. I very much miss going out to bars and meeting new people, but hanging out with this group on the weekends makes me very happy. And I know I will never again take for granted hanging out in a bar at 2 a.m.

1:30 a.m. — My friends leave and I clean up. Thankfully, our apartment has a dishwasher so I can pretty much put everything in there and figure out the rest tomorrow.

Daily Total: $269.92

Day Six

10 a.m. — Wake up with a hangover and stomachache, honestly the cheese and wine last night was still worth it. I’m going back home to my parents’ house today outside of the city, so I get up and go to Penn Station.

11 a.m. — I am a little worried about taking the train, but it ends up being a pretty normal experience. It’s not very crowded so I get a section to myself, show my e-ticket to the conductor, and settle in. My ticket costs $19.50 for a round-trip. $19.50

12 p.m. — My mom picks me up from the train station and we head to one of our favorite restaurants to pick up lunch. She orders pasta, a pizza, and a few soups/sides. I run inside to get the food and pay. $59.93

12:30 p.m. — We drive to my grandma’s apartment to eat. I’m excited to see her because we’re pretty close but haven’t been able to see each other as much since the onset of the pandemic. She’s also technologically challenged and pretty deaf, so speaking to her on the phone or via FaceTime can be challenging. She is recently fully vaccinated, and while we still keep our distance (wear masks when we aren’t actively eating, don’t hug), knowing that she’s vaccinated makes me feel much safer about seeing her in person. She also gives me a whole fish to take home that she prepared my favorite way (a belated-Lunar New Year gift, sort of). I’m a little worried about how to transport it back home, but my mom does that mom-magic thing where she manages to get it into a sealed Tupperware and wrap it in a bag so it won’t smell on the hour-plus trip back home.

4 p.m. — Time for me to go back home. My mom drops me off at the train station. I’m very sleepy after lunch and doze off a little on the train.

6 p.m. — At home, I make a quick dinner — noodles with veggies and the fish from my grandma.

8 p.m. — L. and I watch old episodes of New Girl and relax on the couch for the night.

Daily Total: $79.43

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I signed up for a morning Solidcore workout and it’s with my favorite instructor. I love Solidcore and think it’s truly the hardest workout class that I’ve tried yet. I’m always very sore the next day. It’s also very doable with a mask on because the workout is entirely comprised of small push-pull movements versus cardio. I previously purchased a package of classes for Solidcore, but right now each class is ~$40 to purchase individually.

11 a.m. — Confirmed I’m barely able to walk out of class. I head to a nearby coffee shop for a chai tea latte. My favorite barista is there and it’s not very busy so we chat for a little before I head out to the park to enjoy my latte around the company of dogs and families. $6

11:30 a.m. — I take the long way home and stop by a cute bookstore. I end up picking up a copy of My Year Abroad by Chang-Rae Lee. It ends up being a signed copy which is pretty cool. $30.49

12 p.m. — Home, I make some eggs with spinach, butternut squash, and roasted garlic and a sandwich with leftover cheese, peppers, and veggies.

1 p.m. — I take a shower and do a full skincare/haircare routine including hair mask, skin mask, and exfoliation.

3 p.m. — I see an ad for Pura, which is a Bluetooth-enabled plug-in scent diffuser. The reviews look great and they’ve partnered with some great fragrance brands to create scents. I’ve been looking for a good alternative to candles for a while now so I decide to buy it and try it out. I buy the device as well as three scents. $78.18

7:15 p.m. — Take the subway to meet a friend, D., for dinner near where he lives uptown. I haven’t taken the subway very much since the onset of the pandemic, but I am starting to feel more comfortable doing this again. $2.75

7:30 p.m. — Meet D. uptown. The restaurant is pretty much empty so we feel comfortable sitting indoors. We get drinks and share a bunch of Turkish food including flatbread, zucchini fritters, salad, lamb, and manti. D. and I have hooked up in the past and sometimes I feel like we have weird ~vibes~. I’m not interested in ~seeing~ him right now so I insist on splitting the bill and casually let him know I’m taking a Lyft home. $73.26

9:30 p.m. — As promised, I take a Lyft home. Already feeling sore from Solidcore this morning so I wash up, get ready for bed, and brace myself for another work week starting tomorrow. $15.11

Daily Total: $205.79

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