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 AI Designer who makes $173,760 per year and spends some of her money this week on The Ordinary Niacinamide.
Occupation: AI Designer
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Net Worth: ~$255,000 (investment accounts: $105,000, Roth IRA: $38,000, 401(k): $75,000, savings, $16,000, cryptocurrency: $21,000)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,116 (after taxes and 401(k) contribution)
Rent: $1,670 (I have one roommate and we split a two-bedroom/two-bathroom.)
Internet: $54.99 (Split with roommate.)
Utilities: ~$60 (My portion.)
Lyft Pink: $19.99
Spotify: $15.99 (I pay for the family plan so my family can use it.)
HBO Max: $14.99 (My roommate and I split this.)
Netflix: $0 (Comes with phone plan.)
Hulu: $0 (Still on my ex’s account.)
Amazon Prime: $112/annually
Disney+: $0 (My roommate covers because I have the other streaming platforms.)
Apple Storage: $5
Audible Membership: $14.99
Cell phone + Insurance: $60
Calm Membership: $0 (Work pays for it.)
Medium Membership: $0 (Work pays for it.)
Chase Sapphire Reserved Annual Fee: $550/annually
Vanguard Investing: $1,500 (Goes into an ETF, Index Fund, and other stocks.)
Coinbase Investing: $500 (Goes into various cryptocurrencies.)
Savings/Emergency Fund: $1,000
MyOllie Dog Food: $13/every two weeks
Costco Membership: $60/annually (Split with my mom.)
Donations: $100 (I choose a different cause every month.)
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?
My parents are immigrants and they always wanted their children to go to college. Ideally, they wanted me to go to a public university in-state for tuition reasons. They didn’t put any pressure on us to go to community college first and then transfer because they wanted us to have the college experience. I went to an in-state school for the first two years and then transferred to another in-state school for my last two years where I graduated with a BA. My parents paid for everything — my tuition, my books, my housing, and anything school-related because they wanted me to focus on my studies.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My dad will always tell me “pay yourself first.” At first, every paycheck, I put a good chunk into savings. Nowadays, I put a good chunk of it into investing. Whenever I buy something, I can always hear my dad say “is this a need or a want” which helps me validate my purchases.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at an ice cream shop. I knew at a young age my parents were not the richest, so I got a job so I can spend my own money and save.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did. My parents’ finances took a hit during the 2008 recession and it took a toll on us. At a young age, I could see they were stressed out a lot and I saw how money could really affect families. When I was younger we went on multiple vacations a year, but that stopped after the recession.
Do you worry about money now?
I used to worry about money when I started working at my first big-girl job living in LA. I was making decent money, but I worked at a start-up with a bunch of finance/tech bros who taught me to take control of my finances now while I was still young. If I didn’t get that advice, I probably would not have been so conscious about money, but I also wouldn’t be where I am right now where I don’t have to worry about money.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I got my first job out of college at 21 and started paying for my own rent in LA. I know I could always lean on my parents for support, but right now I am making a lot of money and I’ve saved so much that I can be the financial net for my parents.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Individually, I have not received inherited income, but my parents have received inherited income family properties that they used to pay for our education. This is why I am debt-free.
9 a.m. — I wake up feeling horrible post-weekend shenanigans. I usually wake up at 8 so that I can take my dog out for off-leash hours, but today will not be that day. I chug a bunch of water, take my multi-vitamins, krill oil, probiotics, and some Emergen-C so I can become alive again. I sit in my bed and do my Stoic journal and Calm meditation. I turn on the kettle to get hot water ready to make a chai tea latte. I get ready to walk my dog while I catch up on a few The Daily podcasts that I missed last week.
11 a.m. — I make myself a bowl of cereal and catch up on what I need to do for work today. I also write down what I need to do for the rest of the week. Since I’m going kickboxing later tonight, I’m going to do a bunch of errands. I write out my grocery shopping list and I place a Sephora order for pick up. I get a really good discount so I put a bunch of things in my cart and ask my roommate, T., if she wants anything too. I get the Benefit Cosmetic They’re Real mascara, The Ordinary Niacinamide, fresh Soy Make-Up Removing Face Wash, and T. gets the Ilia Multi-Stick Cheek & Lip. I want to try a different concealer so I’ll be going in-store to see what shade I should buy and order other items that were not available for pick-up later tonight. $87.39
1 p.m. — After a few meetings, I make lunch and dinner for tonight. I use the last of my vegetables (mushrooms, scallions, and napa cabbage) to make a rice cake stir fry. T. makes both of us oat milk lattes since we’re both struggling from yesterday’s party. We wish each other luck as we head to more meetings.
3:30 p.m. — I have a really fun meeting where I’m leading an AI project for a live show. I’m super excited because I’ve never worked on a project like this before. After my meeting, I realize I need to place my Target pick-up order. I buy a shower caddy because I want to keep my shower organized and an NYX eyebrow pencil. I also start a load of laundry (free, thank you in-unit laundry) and wash/dry mine and my roommate’s towels because I want fresh towels when I wash my hair tonight after kickboxing. $28.80
5 p.m. — I stop working and take my dog out for a walk. As I leave my apartment, my phone falls out of my pocket and cracks…now I’m really considering upgrading to the iPhone 13. My AirPods also die so I walk my dog in the cold with no music. I come back and I feed her MyOllie. I get a Facebook (or Meta) message regarding a custom dresser I’ve been wanting to buy. The guy offers to FaceTime me later to show me more details. I get ready to leave for my 6:15 kickboxing class.
7:15 p.m. — My kickboxing instructor kicks my butt today. As I walk home, I stop by Whole Foods to pick up groceries. I pick up two Oatly half gallons of milk, two kombuchas, and some Terra Sour Cream & Onion Veggie Chips for myself. I also get almond milk and organic pasta for T. I was going to go to Sephora and Target to grab my items, but holding three gallons of milk plus two bottles of kombucha post-workout is not the vibe, so I go straight home. My best friend, K., calls me on my walk back and we talk about our weekends. $22.38
8 p.m. — I have my Orgain Organic Protein shake and eat my leftover veggie rice cake stir fry for dinner. T. makes pasta and gives me some of that as well. We both drink a glass of wine. While I eat, Facebook/Meta Marketplace guy FaceTimes me so he can show me the dresser. We go over details and specs and I’m absolutely in love. He will put on the finishing touches and delivery it to me by Thursday/Friday. I negotiate the price from $500 to $450 with delivery.
9 p.m. — After dinner and wine, I deep conditioned my hair with Olaplex and let it sit for 30 minutes while I clean my bathroom, vacuum my room, wash the dishes, and order the second part of my Sephora order. I get the Pureology shampoo and conditioner online and a NARS concealer. T. also gets the Sephora eyeliner because it isn’t available for store pick-up. This was a very expensive Monday/beginning of the month… I cannot believe all of my beauty supplies ran out at the same time. I bought my dad Dave Chappelle tickets this week for his birthday so I call him to make sure the transfer was complete. He is very happy about his birthday present. I wash my hair out and borrow T.’s shampoo and conditioner since I ran out. $80.03
10 p.m. — T. and I drink more wine and watch American Psycho on our Showtime free trial. I write in my Stoic journal before I go to bed at midnight.
Daily Total: $218.60
8 a.m. — I wake up a lot later than usual because I’m tired from sleeping late last night. I write in my Stoic journal and today’s prompt really gets me thinking about my day. It is, “If you knew your last day was today, would you be doing something different?” I get ready to walk my dog to the dog park hoping I can get a few minutes in for off-leash hours. I get an email saying my reimbursement claim from work has been approved so I’m getting back $420! I end up seeing my dog park friends and I grab coffee with one of them. I get a blackberry scone and a dog treat for my dog. No coffee today since I put hot water on the kettle. I walk back to my apartment and start working. $4.50
12 p.m. — I’m super busy today in meetings about AI and working on implementing AI at this live show. I finally am able to come up for air and take a lunch break at noon. I make paneer tikka masala with garlic naan and I make enough to have leftovers for dinner. My college design friends are in NYC having an NFT show so I RSVP for free tickets on Friday. I invite my roommate, T., and my friend, K., to come along since we were planning on going to Flushing to grab Asian food. I also see on Resident Advisor that there is a free techno + NFT event happening in Greenpoint tonight so I RSVP for that free event tonight and invite T.
1:30 p.m. — I end up taking a walk with T. and my dog to pick up my Sephora and Target order. T. didn’t realize how cold it was outside so she heads back after a few blocks with my dog and I pick up my Sephora and Target order. I listened to my audiobook, The State of Affairs by Ester Perel, that I purchased with my Audible membership as I walked back home. I organized my bathroom with my new shower caddy and went back to work.
3 p.m. — I’m so tired. I take a quick afternoon nap.
6 p.m. — After a busy day at work, I take my dog on a walk, but it’s raining outside so we don’t go out for too long. When I come back to the apartment, T. is watching Crazy Rich Asians. We are craving chocolate and wine so we walk to the store. Since I’ve been eating T.’s chocolate I buy her Endangered Species chocolate bar and I buy some groceries (mushrooms, raspberries, and two apples) while I’m there ($10.97). We go to a local wine shop and we buy our horoscope wines. I get the Libra rose ($29.40). $40.37
8:30 p.m. — T. and I get ready to leave for this crypto fundraiser in Greenpoint. We take the subway and agree she pays for us going there and I’ll get us coming back. When we arrive at the event, we each buy two drink tickets. We look at the NFTs that are for sale and look at some of the photography by the photographer. $16
10 p.m. — While we’re at the auction, these two guys, V. and N., start talking to us and we have a great conversation about art, design, film, and fashion. They invite us to the bar across the street and we go. T. and I realize that we’re both hungry so we leave to grab some pizza. We walk five minutes to grab some pizza and we each get each two slices. I get a cheese and a “grandma” slice. We eat outside the pizza place and then walk back to the gallery so we can redeem our second drink ticket. $7.61
11:30 p.m. — As we’re sitting down looking at the art, N. comes up to us and asks if we want to go bowling. We take our drinks and we go across the street to the bar/bowling alley. N. pays for both of our shoes and bowling lane and we bowl with N., his other friends.
12:30 a.m. — After a game of bowling, we head back. We take the subway back and I pay for this one since T. got the one going there. I get ready for bed and do my Stoic journal. $5.50
Daily Total: $73.98
9 a.m. — I need to stop going out late so I can wake up at a decent hour. I am so tired. I struggle to wake up this morning and to complete my Stoic journal. I get ready to walk my dog in the cold and I listen to today’s The Daily. I feed my dog her food and dental stick and make myself a cup of Earl gray tea and a bowl of cereal. I put my duvet cover in the washer/dryer while I work.
1 p.m. — I am so hyper-focused on this project that I forget to eat lunch. I want to eat my leftover paneer tikka masala but I run out of naan, so I walk to Whole Foods to pick up some naan… but I get distracted and start buying more stuff like two more bottles of kombucha, blueberry muffins, snacks, chamomille tea, and a salad. $22.66
2 p.m. — I finally eat lunch, drink a bottle of kombucha, and listen to more of The State of Affairs. T. asks me if I want to go to BCD Tofu House with her, but I just bought groceries so I decline. Plus, I’m trying to go to the local donation-based yoga class.
5 p.m. — Work is so busy today that I actually work until 5 and I have to put in a hard stop. I take a long walk with my dog today so I can listen to The State of Affairs. I come back home and decide to rearrange my room so that the new dresser can fit. My new arrangement is amazing! I’m so excited I end up deep cleaning my room.
8 p.m. — I go to this donation-based class down the street from my apartment. I donate $5 and walk over for an hour-long yoga session. It is actually very nice! I might make this a weekly thing. I come back home and use my extra garlic naan and the last of my Swiss cheese to make a pizza for dinner. $5
11 p.m. — I get ready for bed. I shower, pour myself a glass of wine, and do my Stoic journal.
Daily Total: $27.66
3 a.m. — T. gets home at 3 a.m. drunk. She brought home some friends that accidentally go into my room, turn on the lights, and scare the sh*t out of me.
8 a.m. — After trying to go back to sleep the last five hours, my alarm goes off and I’m so tired. I write in my Stoic journal. I get ready to walk my dog. I’m about to grab my AirPods in the living room and notice they’re missing from my bag. I start looking around my entire room, flipping my newly cleaned room over, looking all over the living room and I can’t find them. I check Find My to see where my AirPods were last located. It says today at 3:30 a.m. I’m running on no sleep and my AirPods are missing, but I try to stay calm until I can talk to T. when she wakes up.
9 a.m. — I make myself a chai tea latte and eat a bowl of cereal. As T. emerges from her room, she doesn’t look good. I ask about her night and tell her about my AirPods. She’s a little upset that I would accuse her friend, but I tell her the situation and she she understands and felt really bad. She tries to call both of them but they don’t answer. She feels so bad and offers to get me new ones if they don’t show up.
10 a.m. — I have my weekly therapy session. With my lack of sleep and situation this morning, I don’t think it was a good session, but therapy is an ongoing thing.
12 p.m. — I work until lunch and make myself another naan cheese pizza. I watch Colin in Black & White while I eat until 1 and continue working because I have a 4 p.m. deadline. I am incredibly tired and can’t focus and end up napping. I wake up at 3 and try so hard to finish my work until 4 when I have to present. The presentation ends up going really well! I finally leave my room and see my Sephora package came in. I try it on the concealer to see if the shade matches and it does!
5 p.m. — I walk my dog AirPod-less and head back so I can go to kickboxing at 6. T. informs me that she called both of her friends and they don’t remember seeing AirPods. She’s really upset that her friend would do that to her and says she’ll get me new ones. I rush to kickboxing and my instructor is the one that I went on a date with. Turns out he’s teaching the Thursday night class I always go to, so this will be very interesting. We’re not dating anymore, but we’re still friends. He’s still really nice and gives me special treatment so I can’t complain.
6 p.m. — Since my kickboxing gym is near Trader Joe’s, I take the opportunity to grab my groceries for the next two weeks. I want to make this homemade spicy vodka sauce pasta so I grab a shallot, tomato paste, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and rigatoni pasta. I also want to make butternut squash soup so I grab butternut squash and vegetable stock. Since I’m making soup and pasta dishes, I grab some focaccia bread. I also grab an Asian chopped salad, lemon arugula salad, carrots, two bananas, trail mix, spicy crispy mochi, crunchy peanut butter, and agave nectar. T. asks if I can grab her English muffins, spinach, and coconut creamer. Whenever I go to Trader Joe’s, I always buy those small bouquets. This one has a beautiful pink sunflower, a huge purple flower, and a fuschia flower. I am so happy with this bouquet. $52.30
9 p.m. — I am sweating when I get back home. I grab a protein shake and chug it. It’s also Thursday so I tone my hair. As I let the toner set in, I eat the macaroni and cheese T. made for me and eat some raspberries and trail mix. I also try this spicy rice mochi and they’re actually pretty spicy. I wash out my toner and use my new Pureology Shampoo and Conditioner and it feels so good. I get my face ready for bed and write in my Stoic journal until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $52.30
8 a.m. — I am loving the new arrangement of my room! I wake up just in time to make it to the dog park. I text my friend, B., to see if we’re still down for stoop coffee since we both weren’t able to yesterday. I get ready to go to the dog park and put the blueberry muffins in a bag. It is such a busy day at the dog park, so I head early to B.’s brownstone. She says it’s too cold outside so we drink coffee inside.
9 a.m. — B. has a beautiful brownstone! B. reads tarot cards and she offers to read mine and I gladly accept! I won’t go into too many details… but basically, I’m getting married to a Virgo. I head home and get to work.
12 p.m. — I am trying to finish my designs for this big project but I take a break so I can make food. I mix one of those pre-made salads and make some BBQ soy curl tacos. I use one of the salad bags as a veggie bed for the tacos and drink kombucha. Then, I finish up my work.
3 p.m. — I finally finish my work and submit it! I’ll just be answering emails the rest of the day, but since it’s Friday I need to get ready. I curl my hair and put on makeup for the start of the weekend! My friend, K., is meeting us here at 5:30 so we can head to my friend’s art show and then to Flushing for Asian food.
6 p.m. — Once K. gets here, we head out to catch the train. T. pays for this one. The train is PACKED at this time, literally, we are squished like sardines. We exit and as we’re walking to the art show, we pass by a Birria Taco truck and I convince my friends that we should just have one pre-game taco before dinner. I watch them as they take their first bite into one of the best tacos in NY and they die… the meat is sooo tender. We clean up and head to the art show.
7 p.m. — We get to the art show and I immediately find my friend at the door and we all catch up. They teach us more about NFT and crypto since that is the kind of art we’re seeing. It is a donation-based open bar so I grab the drinks for everyone. We hang out, catch up with my old friends, and then decide we want to continue drinking so we head to Flushing. $10
8 p.m. — We walk to a vape store so T. can grab a vape. I call our Lyft to the hot pot place. I usually call Lyfts because I get a discount on all my rides ($26.18 divided by three). We head to Flushing and the wait is only 30 minutes so we grab a bottle of soju until our name is called. $8.72
9 p.m. — We order food for our individual hot pot and some hot sake for the table. The food is DELICIOUS. We got another bottle of hot sake and hang out and eat a little bit more. The bill ends up being $130 including tip (they end up giving us a free bottle of sake) so we tip a little bit more. We split the bill evenly. We still wanted to go out and decided to go bowling! $44.33
11 p.m. — We walk to this bowling place nearby. K. and T. tie the first round, and I win the second round. $25
12:30 a.m. — When we finish it’s still pretty early so we decide if we want to go out or hang out at our place. I’m going apple picking tomorrow so I need to go home. My friends don’t really want to go out tonight either, so we decide to drink at our place. I call a Lyft ($28.90 divided by three) to the nearest liquor store to our apartment so T. can grab alcohol. $9.63
1:30 a.m. — I remember I bought this game called Anomia and we play a few rounds until 3 a.m. That’s when I realize I need to be awake at 7:30 to go apple picking. K. leaves and I get ready for bed and pass out.
Daily Total: $97.68
7:45 a.m. — It is 7:45…I am running on no sleep. My friends are texting me telling me to get to Grand Central at 9. It is a 40-minute train ride from my apartment. Thankfully, T. said she would walk and feed my dog so I quickly get dressed, get a bag ready with water because I am hungover, and leave the house. $2.75
9 a.m. — I get to Grand Central. Not only am I EXHAUSTED but dehydrated and hungry and hungover. I need coffee and food. I immediately see my friends and we grab coffee and bagels at Zaro’s. I got an iced oat milk latte and an everything bagel with cream cheese. $8.25
9:30 a.m. — We get on our train and one of my friends pays for everyone’s train ticket and I Venmo her. I eat my bagel, drink my coffee, and sleep until we arrive at the train station. $26.50
11 a.m. — We heard it would be hard to get an Uber/Lyft from this area, but luckily there’s taxi service that will take us there for $30, which we split. $6
11:30 a.m. — We finally arrive at the apple picking farm and it’s pretty quiet. We were talking about apple cider donuts on the train so we immediately go to the bakery to buy some. We order six apple cider donuts, five hot apple ciders, and water ($15). I pay for these ones and we decide we’ll figure out the Venmo situation later. After we’re done eating, one friend buys a bag so we can go apple picking. $15
1 p.m. — We spend a few hours in the vineyard picking apples, eating apples, taking photos with apples, and being basic NYC girls. We decide to buy a bottle of wine, more apple cider donuts, more apple cider, chocolate-covered apple cider donuts, apple strudel, turtle candies, and hot chocolate. We split the cost so I only pay $5. We are never eating apples ever again. $5
2:30 p.m. — We call the taxi person that dropped us off and she tells us she probably can’t pick us up in time, so we frantically start trying to find a taxi to take us to the train station. Thankfully, a taxi service is able to come and it’s $40 total. $8
4 p.m. — We arrive back in Manhattan earlier than expected, so my friends ask if I want to go grab dinner with them. I respectfully decline because I am exhausted and need to do some errands. I head to H-Mart and buy scallion pancakes, Indomie, and a spicy tuna onigiri so I don’t die from lack of food ($17.23). To thank T. for walking my dog, I go next door to Tour Les Jours and buy some treats ($8.65). I take the train back home ($2.75). $28.63
5:30 p.m. — I get back home and I am EXHAUSTED from the lack of sleep and no food. I make a roasted butternut squash soup by roasting squash, onions, and garlic. As they’re roasting, I walk my dog. The custom dresser guy finally texts me back and says he’ll be there in 30 minutes. I feed the dog and watch my vegetables until he tells me he’s outside. I help him bring the dresser upstairs and he sets it up in my room for me. We talk for a little bit as he shows me the stools he’s working on and tells me he’s taking a neon bending class. I tell him to let me know where he’s taking these classes because I’m interested. I pay him $450 and he leaves. I LOVE my dresser, it is absolutely beautiful. I put my record player, incenses, and essential oil diffuser on it, and my room feels complete. $450
7 p.m. — My vegetables are done roasting and I struggle trying to blend them in T.’s Vitamix so she helps me so I don’t break it. I toast up some focaccia bread and eat my soup. After not eating for a while, I don’t feel hungry so I only have a little bit of it before I start to clean up.
8 p.m. — T. and I watch Love Hard. It’s cute, but not the best movie I’ve ever seen. After the movie, I watch the Jimmy O. Yang stand-up special.
11 p.m. — I finally feel exhausted and I get ready for bed. I shower, brush my teeth, wash my face, and pass out.
Daily Total: $550.13
8:30 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of yelling. I look outside and realize there is a race happening right outside my window. I realize I should probably walk my dog now before it gets too hectic, so I get ready and walk her to the dog park. I feed her MyOllie and a dental stick and make myself a scallion pancake with egg and chili oil. I also make myself a cup of earl grey tea.
11 a.m. — I watch a little bit of The Hunger Games. I clean my apartment, give the dog a bath, and eat some raspberries and trail mix. I try to watch The Hunger Games again, but the cheering outside is too intense and the energy of the city is giving me FOMO so I go outside for a walk.
3 p.m. — I take a walk to bask in the energy and decide I should go to T-Mobile to see if I can trade in my broken phone. The lady is rude and laughs at me and I laugh at her back saying I’m going to switch to Verizon. So I walk to Verizon to get information on their cell phone deals and I’m pretty convinced but I have to call my family first since we’re on the family plan. I go shopping at Uniqlo, don’t find anything, and then my mom calls me asking me about the details of this new phone plan. I have to break down numbers for them so I head back home to decompress.
5 p.m. — I take a nap when I get home and break down the numbers of our new cell phone plan, but ultimately decide to wait. I feed my dog MyOllie and play with her a little bit before I heat up my butternut squash soup and bread. My roommate comes in with three bottles of wine so I have a glass with her before I go to my friend’s, C., house to watch Insecure.
7 p.m. — I get the dog ready for C.’s and I take the train to her place. We talk for a little bit, watch two episodes of Insecure and realize we still have an hour to go until the new episode comes out, so we kill time by watching this show called In The Dark… don’t recommend it. We watch the new episode of Insecure and decompress it for a little bit but I am exhausted so head back home. I take the train back with the pup. $5.50
11 p.m. — I get back to Brooklyn and I walk the dog for a little bit since I’m already outside. I get ready for bed, wash my face using my CeraVe Face Wash, Thayers Rose Water Toner, Ole Henriksen Night Treatment, The Ordinary Rosehip Oil, and Derma E Vitamin C Moisturizer, then I add a Laneige lip sleeping mask. I write in my Stoic journal and pass out.
Daily Total: $5.50
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