Confession: I’ve never implemented any particular “strategy” when it comes to budgeting — mainly because I don’t really know where to start. You’d think Personal Finance 101 would be a required course at every college, or at least a commonplace one. Instead, I spent my formative years of education taking classes like “Theater in the Catholic Imagination,” in which my classmates and I lay on yoga mats and platonically massaged each other under the supervision of a one-armed Jesuit priest. Our final exam was a Jingle Bell Rock flash mob. I am not making any of this up. I got an A.
So here I am, a 24-year-old adult woman with the spending habits of a blind puppy who loves expensive salads and hates passing up a good sale on YOOX. I will say that I always pay my bills on time, I don’t shop while intoxicated and I recently started *trying* to put 10% of every paycheck into savings again (a habit that died when I first moved into my own apartment and this thing called RENT began swallowing my paychecks whole like a competitive hot dog eater).
I’m relaying this information because I do not want you to throw tomatoes at me when you find out I buy oatmeal every morning instead of making it myself, and I have no intention of stopping even though it would save me $91.52 a month.
I started my diary on a Thursday and chronicled my spending through the following Wednesday. If you’re going to throw tomatoes, please use soft ones. Shall we begin?
My morning routine started per usual with a stop at Oatmeals in the West Village, where I purchased a medium-sized oatmeal topped with bananas and greek yogurt. It costs $5.72, and I get it every morning because it makes me excited to start the day. I think that’s easily worth $5.72, especially because I walk to work every day and therefore spend $0 on transportation services.
Yvonne and I went to The Butcher’s Daughter at around 11:30am to purchase $4.35 almond milk lattes and say hello to the barista, Max. He gives us all the gossip about celebrity patrons and what they order. Apparently Leonardo DiCaprio is a fan of the Brazilian Blast smoothie, which makes perfect sense.
I spent $10.18 on a Sweet Green grain bowl that I get almost every single day for lunch because I am boring. It’s a custom creation with wild rice, kale, sweet potato, carrots, purple cabbage, chickpeas, portobello mushrooms and pesto vinaigrette. Highly recommended.
I spent $4 on a vanilla soft serve ice cream from Cha Cha Matcha so that I could take a Boomerang of it for the Man Repeller Instagram. I was still too full from lunch to eat it, so I gave it to my intern, Catherine. Such is the glamorous life of social media.
I met up with four friends after work to go Citi Biking on the West Side Highway. I spent $13.07 to rent a bike. We rode to Brookfield Place and ate dinner in the food court, where I spent an additional $13.07 on a veggie rice bowl from Num Pang plus a baby Perrier. Hilarious money-related joke coming in hot: the dinner conversation was priceless.
My iced matcha latte with almond milk was half price because I had a star reward. Hooray for rewards programs.
I grabbed my usual $10.18 Sweet Green grain bowl thingy before heading to Penn Station to catch an afternoon train to Rhode Island, where I was visiting my family for the weekend. The subway to the train station cost $2.75, and the actual train was free because I was riding with my dad and he paid for my ticket. Hooray for dads.
Dinner was consumed at my parents’ house and therefore also freeeeeeeee.
The human male specimen referenced above is actually my boyfriend, Austin. I know! Plot twist! I’m basically the Shonda Rhimes of MR Money Diaries. Our 4 drinks + 2 appetizers + 2 entrees came out to $187.68 total and we split the check.
Today was a relatively low-expense day because all meals were eaten with my parental units, and my evening train back to New York was covered by the round trip ticket my dad had purchased for me on Friday. I decided to sleep at my parents’ apartment uptown that night because I had a dentist appointment early the next morning near where they live.
Before exiting Penn Station, I bought a $5.43 toothbrush at Duane Reade because I was worried my parents would not have a spare. Pre-dental appointment tooth hygiene is absolutely vital.
I took a $14.72 cab uptown. I hate taking cabs and try to always take the subway, but there is no direct route from Penn Station to the Upper East Side. It was also 11:00pm at this point, and I really wanted to be in bed.
After the dentist, I took the subway down to Nolita, where Man Repeller HQ resides. I stopped at The Butcher’s Daughter on my way and purchased a bowl of muesli and a bottle of sparkling water for $7.61.
My lunch only cost $1.18 today because I made sweet, sweet love to a Sweet Green cashier. JK the salad actually cost $10.18 but I had a reward for $9.00 off. What a time to be alive!
It started POURING at around 6:30pm — no joke: I received an actual flood warning text on my phone. Needless to say, walking home was not an option. I split an Uber with Yvonne despite the 3.8x surge. We were terrified to look at the bill, but there was a random promotion running that gave us 50% off the entire ride. My portion came out to a reasonable $15.18. Witchcraft.
Postmates delivery was also operating with surge pricing because of the rain. My dinner from By Chloe came out to $20.76 including tip. For a salad. Wah.
Yvonne paid for my latte because she owed me money for a kombucha I had purchased for her the previous week.
SweetGreen was out of rice, so I changed up my order. It was more expensive AND it sucked. I love rice.
I spent $7.50 at Grumpy’s on iced teas for Yvonne and an intern candidate, plus $3.00 on a chocolate chip cookie for Kate. But then Kate reimbursed me and Yvonne went rogue and Venmo’ed me $10, so…I somehow made a profit? Yvonne, if you’re reading this, I owe you $2.50.
I met a friend for dinner at Jack’s Wife Freda and spent $24.76 on a vegetable curry bowl plus tip.
I stopped in The Strand on my way home to look for a coffee table book but ended up buying a pair of Frida Kahlo socks because they were the perfect gift for the yankee swap housewarming party we were throwing the next day at the office. I also splurged on a sheet of emoji wrapping paper for $1.25 because it felt morally wrong not to once I saw it behind the register.
I know this is a money diary and I am technically supposed to be discussing finances and such, but I would like to take a brief nanosecond to say how much I LOVE THE MAN REPELLER COMMUNITY. I left our housewarming party full of the warmest, fuzziest feelings. But feelings are very low in actual calories and I was still kind of hungry after only grazing a little bit at the event, so I bought a chocolate chip cookie from By Chloe on my way home.
……… <–That extended ellipsis is meant to communicate my bewilderment at having spent $321.28 on…existing? By “existing” I mean “buying food,” because that seems to be the primary guzzler of my money. I didn’t even buy anything fun–like this bikini I have been eyeing or this silk cami that would cost me approximately 1 million grain bowls. When it comes to chronicling my more frivolous spending propensities, I’ll leave you with the closing words of one Taylor Alison Swift:
Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis; Reece Hudson bag.