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Money Diaries: Emily Chronicles a Week of Spending

Furniture shopping and subway rides…

01.18.17

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I suck at numbers. Always have (and probably always will). I also suck at managing my personal finances, so this was like laying out all of my flaws in public. Though I’ve gotten better, I still spend carelessly. I don’t always put my needs in front of my wants. Similar to Leandra’s sentiments on shopping, spending can certainly feel like a form of therapy.

Growing up, there was always a huge importance placed on money (specifically, the importance of saving it and/or not having enough of it). You’d think that by now, I’d have a huge savings account and all of my shit in order. But quite the opposite has happened. When I have money, it burns a hole in my pocket. My mom used to say that I never understood the value of a dollar growing up, and maybe that still rings true as far as my personal spending goes.

Alright, without further adieu…

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“Emily, you still spend money every day on your MetroCard? How are you living in Brooklyn without a monthly subway card?” IDK. I wish I had a more adult response to this. My reasoning is that I don’t often travel to Manhattan or elsewhere on the weekend and my live-in boyfriend has a car. I also only ever go to and from work on weekdays, so I have yet to justify buying the monthly pass that I think is around the same price of 40 swipes a month at 2.75 ($110).  In regards to my “free” dinner…it wasn’t truly free since it was made with groceries purchased prior, but it’s free for now. Also, I HATE cooking. Hate it, despise it, suck at it. On occasion I can make a pretty mean breakfast spread, though.  I’m fortunate that my boyfriend cooks pretty often.

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I end up ordering takeout every day, whether it’s for lunch, dinner or both. I know this is bad to an extent, but a long work week and a strong dislike of cooking leave me with few options that don’t involve the microwave. I’ve been there, done that. (My college experience could have been titled “The Microwave: How Emily Survived College.”)

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I don’t typically buy two large pieces of furniture within a single week, but the new year has made me feel more inspired to furnish my apartment like an adult. This meant getting a set of table and chairs that aren’t $50 from Ikea. It also means saving elsewhere. Since moving into my apartment, I’ve cut back a lot on regular clothing and accessories purchases and instead am focusing on home purchases. As a result, my “wardrobe” has fallen flat but my living room is looking great!

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Surprise! Emily takes the subway again! Sweetgreen for lunch, a place that Leslie has strong feelings about. The smell is a bit overwhelming in there, but I’m too busy to pick another place so I settle on familiarity.

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Woohoo! A Mimi Cheng’s coupon found in the office kitchen scores me free dumplings. I add scallion pancakes and a seltzer. Breakfast for dinner (ordered via Seamless from a local Brooklyn diner) hit the spot that night. Happy Friday to us.

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Adulthood comes a-knockin’ on Saturdays and it’s time to buy groceries again. Not for the week, mind you, just random shit that will be used for dinner and like…toilet paper.

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The cherry on top of the week was a splurge at Ikea on a desk. Ikea (just like Target) makes you realize all of the things that you want but absolutely don’t “need.” Hmm, I think we should buy a hanging lamp for the ceiling — oh it needs a special lightbulb! And also a special cord! Oh, a new whisk! This pillowcase is kind of cool and makes it look like I know what’s going on in the world. Let’s throw that into the cart, too.

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Alright, so in retrospect, this total should actually subtract my two furniture purchases (because I don’t normally get things like that weekly). So let’s say $246.79. That doesn’t sound TOO bad? Actually, that’s pretty bad considering my other costs were just food and transportation — with the exception of that unplanned Restoration Hardware sale mid-week (I got a decorative gold tray and a bath mat).

I guess the point is that I treated myself this week, and made some “investment” purchases (lol). At least my apartment is coming together. But this has made it clear that I need to cut back in the takeout department. Do I make my boyfriend cook extra and bring leftovers? Probably.

***Disclaimer — those weeknight dinners were for both me AND my boyfriend! Not just me!

Click here to see how the money diaries of a college student. Thinking about credit card debt? Read this.

Photo by Krista Anna Lewis; Loeffler Randall bag, Barneys wallet, Céline sunglasses, Hart Hagerty earrings.

  • OMG I just ordered from Ikea too!! *twinsies* I feel at this time every year apartment makeover is on my mind…

  • Abby

    HOLY COW the takeout alone is more than twice my weekly food budget. Must be nice!

    My biggest resolution this year is to bring my lunch to work every single day of 2017. So far so good.

    • Emily Zirimis

      I know!! Takeout costs are insane, I’m not proud of it. I need to switch things up a bit

    • Aydan

      Yes me too!! It’s so easy to end up spending 10-20 on lunch and honestly I’d rather spend a little more when I go out to dinner! I’ve been doing meal prep, which I’ve ALWAYS scoffed at before, but so so works for lunch.

  • Christine

    Woow! What’s the brand of that yellow purse?

    • Emily Zirimis

      Loeffler Randall! It’s linked at the bottom of the post 🙂

      • Christine

        Thanks! 😉

  • Samantha Lee

    My solution: don’t look at my bank statement.
    JK JK that’s an awful idea, but I do it nonetheless.
    When I DO look at it, I realize literally all of my money goes to eating out + buying fancy coffee. So this year so far, I asked my mom for Nespresso (Christmas gift), and am eating out wayyyy less. It’s amazing how much that stuff adds up.
    http://www.wonderlandsam.com

    • Grace B

      A place here has FLAN coffee (actually, I’ve read your blog Sam — stalker alert lolz– and it’s Dominican Joe’s here in Austin) and it is divine. I love coffee out.

      • Samantha Lee

        Hahaha, no worries girl. I didn’t drink much coffee when I lived in Austin, but now I’m DEF gonna have to check out that coffee when I visit again. It just tastes better drinking it at a coffee shop, doesn’t it? Weird, but very true, logic.

      • Summer

        OH HAY fellow Austinite! I lived at DoJo’s when I worked remotely– their coffee is so yummyyyyy

  • Natalie

    Been having similar struggles with coffee/food out! One minor thing that’s helped is that instead of saying no breakfast muffins/coffees on the way to work, I’m only allowed it once a week. Moderation!
    I also got an aeropress and a travel mug which is SO easy that I’m making coffee before work. And I was the QUEEN of never making coffee for myself.

  • tmm16

    I wish I could eat out that much! Like Abby, that’s like my weekly food budget. Which reminds me… I need to go grocery shopping. I should also order a dresser from Ikea too…

    • Emily Zirimis

      !!! I should clarify !!! Those weekly dinners are for both me AND my boyfriend via relatively cheap Seamless food places (we alter food & dinner costs) and during this week, I took on most of the costs! I should have made that clear!

  • Grace B

    I always pack my lunch for work but I’m trying muuuuuch harder to make my own dinners. I have some gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. However, this year I’m going to try putting some money on a pre-paid Visa card and use that for breakfast. Yes, I eat breakfast out every day ($5 egg burger, $3 breakfast tacos, $7 breakfast sandwich of my dreams) and only make oatmeal like once in a blue moon.

    Therefore, I feel we are spending soul sisters, Emily. Props.

  • Miss J

    I use most of my Sunday evenings to prepare larger batches of food, enough to last the whole week. Cook quinoa in one pot, rice in the rice cooker, grill all the vegetables you can find in the oven on two baking sheets, and you’re done. Throw in some canned chickpeas or beans, boiled egg, whatever, and there you have it. Just pack it in ten boxes, and right before eating, drizzle with your favorite sauces, dressings, olive oil, or whatever. All that takes about 1 hour, it’s super healthy, and it will cost about $40 per week.

  • i rly wanna see the furniture!!! how does it all look?!

    • Senka

      Me too! I plan to start decorating my humble abode in a couple of months so all cute creative solutions are very welcome.

  • Sarah

    man, i can’t believe the costs of all this food out! I eat out once every few weeks. Saves me tons of money and then I get REALLY excited when I get to do it! If your boyfriend likes to cook, buy him some cookware and then you will have awesome meals made for you. I bought my boyfriend a pasta maker off amazon for xmas. He has bought 11 types of flour and made me pasta meals about 8 times since. then i take the leftovers to lunch. win.