Sarah*, 24, is a staff writer at an online blog who lives in Brooklyn. With a salary of $60,000 and a monthly take-home pay of $3,114, and no student loans, she’s trying to save as much as she can while still being able to afford rent and toys for her dog. Sarah spends most of her money on rent, take-out, and vet bills. She just moved into a one-bedroom apartment alone and is getting used to paying significantly more in rent than she did before, and covering electricity, wifi, and gas bills by herself instead of splitting with a roommate.
She tends to save in binges, putting away an entire paycheck when she can and then living leanly until the next pay period. Because she hates to cook, she spends most of her money on take-out (easily two meals a day) and would like to cut back, but doesn’t have the time or energy to learn to cook. As a relationships writer for a popular website, she knows people might expect her to spend all her money on beauty products and expensive dates, but the truth is she spends most nights alone with her dog. She doesn’t see this as a disconnect because she spends a lot of time researching and writing and some weeks are lean on meeting up with potential mates. Plus, she’s single and wants to enjoy it while she still can!
Yearly income: $60,000
Monthly savings: $1,200
Fixed monthly payments:
- Rent: $1,800
- Utilities: $90
- Spotify: $10
- Dog walker: $380
- Metro Card: $40 every 1.5 weeks.
10:00 am, $19.58 — Hair ties, bobby pins, dog toy
I got a haircut recently and the new layers are proving to be unwieldy for my typical running braid. I know that Duane Reade or CVS charges so much for small items like hair ties, so I figure I’ll buy the cheapest ones on Amazon and select the slower shipping method to get a $1 reward I can use later on movie rentals or other digital purchases. It’s true, I do buy a lot from Amazon and the slower shipping method is my way of mentally justifying certain purchases. Hey, it’s basically free money! Because of this, I also throw in a $9 dog toy for my dog while I’m at it.
I feel pretty good about this purchase; I know I saved on the hair ties by buying online rather than at the drugstore and I feel like I basically got free money by choosing slower shipping.
4:00 pm, $10.50 — Burrito
I’m counting this as a late lunch/early dinner. I know it’s not great to eat a burrito for two meals—it’s unhealthy and also just not enough food—but I was too lazy to make breakfast for myself this morning (and TBH most mornings) so I just ate some Pirate’s Booty and leftover pizza. That plus waking up late means this is the first meal of the day. I get a burrito from my favorite inexpensive takeout place.
8:00 pm, $6.99 — Popsicles
I had a date planned for tonight, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Because it was for a story for the website, I made a mental note to ask my editor for an extension. When dating is part of your job, it can become seriously tiresome. Of course, there are lots of fun (and funny!) things about dating, but sometimes you just want to chill with your pup. I made a note to talk this over with my therapist, and then I went for a run with the dog to a nearby park. On the way home, I stopped into a grocery store to get popsicles, which I love.
10:00 pm, $20.89 — Pizza
I caved to my junk food desires and ordered a (second) junky dinner for myself of pizza and breadsticks. I know I can always save the leftovers and eat them for days later, so this is basically grocery shopping for me. I think, also, I did this because I was feeling a little guilty on skipping out on the date — not because I felt bad for the dude, but because I’m anxious about telling my boss.
Day total: $57.96
11:00 am, $6.48 — Coffee
I understand on an intellectual level that fancy coffee is stupid and overpriced, but I rarely drink coffee (like once or twice a month, if that) so I feel like this is fine. Coffee normally proves to be too much caffeine for me, but I’m feeling extra exhausted today so I bite the bullet and do it. It climbs from $4 to $6 for coconut milk though, which I have to get because I’m lactose intolerant.
3:00 pm, $11.20 — Thai lunch
I shared a late lunch with my boss to tell her about not going through with the date, and she was completely understanding. She told me that you can’t always “turn it on,” and that she believed in me—she also gave me a deadline extension. I love her and want to be her when I grow up. Also, the Thai food was pretty good, and it was an all-around happy spend.
Day total: $17.68
4:00 pm, $14.64 — Sandwich and seltzer
I’m craving something sweet so I get one of those fancy San Pellegrino seltzers with my lunch today. Too bad it jacks the total up to $14. I know this is kind of a waste of money, but I just love me some carbonation!
9:00 pm, $11.50 — Takeout tacos
I order tacos from another one of my in-rotation restaurants. I waited too long to eat when I got home and just needed something fast when the hunger hit. This place always delivers very quickly and is very filling.
Day total: $26.14
3:00 pm, $8.67 — Sandwich
I feel guilty after my extravagant seltzer experience yesterday (I try to keep my lunch under $12 since I, unfortunately, do buy takeout every day.) I go to a cheaper sandwich place and get a tuna sandwich to eat at my desk. Yes, I know tuna gets hate in offices, but I need to reward myself with my favorite sandwich! I’m working on finding men to talk to about their dating experiences, and it’s a lot of posting on Facebook, asking friends, and generally being really outgoing to try to find the best people for the story. I’m naturally more of an introvert, so the need to reward myself with food was very real. (Don’t worry, I made another mental note to discuss this in therapy.)
7:00 pm, $13.17 — Sandwich and lemonade
I grab dinner with my dog sitter/friend at a burger place. I get the chicken sandwich and it’s good. She’s a new friend of mine who started out as my dog sitter and over the course of my many harried texts about my dog we’ve become IRL friends. I don’t have many other friends with dogs (she has one too) so it’s always nice to talk to other dog owners and pick their brains about “is this normal” or “how long did it take for your dog to stop doing this” etc. It’s a nice break from talking and thinking about relationships all day!
9:00 pm, $100.10 — Skincare stuff
After dinner we walk around and she tells me about this new store that just opened up in the neighborhood that sells a lot of fancy Korean skincare stuff. I love reading NYMag’s Strategist blog on my lunch break and reading their Korean skincare recommendations. They write about this one brand, in particular, Klairs, a lot and I’ve never seen their stuff sold in stores. I always thought of it as one of those “cult, can only buy online” brands, so when I see it in person, I wind up buying six things: a Vitamin C serum, a sleeping mask, a cleanser, a cream, and two sheet masks. I pulled up a bunch of articles on my phone about which items from this brand are worth buying, and compared prices with Amazon. The store was only a dollar or two more at most, so I feel fine about my purchase. It’s nice to splurge a little (within reason) and all the comparison shopping I did on my phone proves that buying on impulse at the store wasn’t vastly more expensive than it would’ve been if I waited to buy online.
Day total: $121.94
3:00 pm, $12.61 — Sandwich
I get another sandwich from the place downstairs. It’s quick, easy, filling, and I’m able to run out and pick it up without having to be away from my desk for too long.
7:00 pm, $21.10 — Chicken sandwich delivery
I order a chicken sandwich from the ~fancy~ takeout place because it’s Thursday and why not? I know it’s expensive, but takeout and TV are my only after-work plans, so I don’t mind spending money on it.
Day total: $33.71
4:00 pm, $13.95 — Burrito
I get a burrito from another place near work. It’s more than I’d like to spend on lunch, but they throw in free chips so I tell myself it’s fine.
7:00 pm, $30 — Therapy
I have my weekly therapy sessions every Friday and it’s always a $30 co-pay, which is fine. This weekly expense definitely adds up over time, but it’s a small price to pay knowing that I have a built-in vent session with a professional at the end of every week. I’m lucky enough to have insurance to make it doable, but honestly, I’d pay even if I didn’t. Having a consistent date with my shrink just makes every small workplace panic attack so much more manageable.
I used to hate having these appointments on Fridays because it made planning after work things much harder, but now I’m too comfortable with being able to unload alllll of the work week’s problems at once that I don’t want to change the time.
8:30 pm, $30.66 — Groceries
My psychiatrist’s office is right next to a Trader Joe’s so I usually go there after my sessions to pick up groceries. I don’t cook at home but I’ve been trying to save, so I pick up “starter groceries” after therapy. Nothing too crazy, but I got bagels, microwave meals, breakfast stuff, and snacks for the upcoming week. Oh, and kombucha. Trader Joe’s kombucha prices are insanely good!
8:00 pm, $16.41 — Uber home
I normally take the subway home with my groceries but the train was delayed and I didn’t want my sorbet to melt. Plus, it’s Friday and it was a long work week and sometimes you just need to treat yourself!
Day total: $90.02
9:00 pm, $14 — Coffee date
I go on a Hinge date (not for a story! for my real life!) that winds up being a total bust. There was no chemistry and we both seemed like we couldn’t wait to leave. I covered coffee at this cafe for the both of us while waiting for a spot at the restaurant he wanted to go to open up. I don’t mind paying my share or covering half the date, and I feel pretty good if $14 is all I spent on a Saturday and I left the apartment. Some takeout-heavy Saturdays I don’t even leave and wind up spending like $30 on just food.
Day total: $14
Total weekly spend: $361.45
*Name has been changed.