A 25-Year-Old Banker Shares His Money Diary

My spending habits aren’t great. It’s a constant battle between my checking account, credit card bill and having an insane case of FOMO. Things haven’t gotten totally out of hand yet, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few close calls in the few years since I moved to Manhattan after college. I turned 25 this year and with the age brought self-awareness, if not self-control. It’s all about awareness, right? Below, a week of my terrifying spending diary. Thank you in advance for being kind. I have already grounded myself.

I quit my old job at a big bank at the start of the summer and recently began my new job at a smaller bank. The hours are just as long and I frequently work weekends. Because of this, the weekends sort of happen when they can. I left work late and headed to my favorite karaoke bar in Soho, Baby Grand. Saturday turned into Sunday while I was there, hence the charge above. This may as well be a recurring weekly expense; the bartenders are so used me that they no longer ask what I want to drink anymore (straight gin) or even what I want to sing (“Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis). I took a cab home, woke up a few hours later and miraculously did nothing that cost money until a Sunday date at Bar Sardine. Bought a few cans of rosé to lubricate the four-hour-long performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream in the park that followed. An expensive Sunday…but at least it felt like summer.

This is how I’d prefer every day to look. I spent a couple dollars on a CLIF bar, save for the trip to the DMV. I unfortunately lost my license (I know I’m going to f-ing find it) and got pretty sick of taking my passport everywhere. The coffee is an easy place to cut out, but we all have our vices, right? One of mine is definitely cold brew. (Another one is “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis.) One thing about working late: my job pays for dinner past a certain hour. The evening was pretty uneventful. I just hung out and looked at the moon, wondering about when we’ll finally make it there.

Another good day except that I ran late to work and took a cab rather than the subway, which is pretty preventable. It’s just so loud on the subway.

Trying hard not to hear, but they talk so loud. Their piercing sounds fill my ears, try to fill me with doubt…you cut me open and I…

$29 at Caliente Cab ended up biting me in the ass with some pretty brutal food poisoning. Don’t go to Caliente Cab on Bleeker at 7th Avenue. It’s a trap!

This one is a wallet dagger. I bought concert tickets to a Joshua Radin concert day-of. Couldn’t help myself. We all had angsty moments driving home from our high school musical rehearsal, right?! I took a friend, bought drinks, only cried a little when he played “I’d Rather Be With You.” I had to go back to work in my emotional state, then finished the night with a couple more drinks at a bar in the West Village. Honestly, the drinking train had left the tracks, so I’m not going to apologize for that. Had a great night chatting with my friends about old movie footage, special effects and whatnot.

I promised myself this morning I would go to work, come home, look through my telescope, go to bed. Did I? No. Another day, another lunch at Chop’t. I get the Santa Fe with grilled chicken and Mexican Caesar, highly recommend it. I walked 30 blocks toward home tonight to enjoy a rare humidity-free evening and got caught by a familiar foe, the Nike store. I think I blacked out for a second and walked out with new running shoes (I’m running the Chicago Marathon) and $25 dollar compression socks. Who the eff knows how these help, but if it’s not about the gear then I don’t want to know what it is about. Drank with friends who picked up the tab later and eventually ended the night with a friend, a couple olive-laden martinis, and a grilled cheese/tomato soup at Slowly Shirley. Shout out to my boy, mixologist Sean. Great soup.

THE WEEKEND! It’s here! For real this time! For a Friday, it brought some incredible relief to my wallet: CLIF bar, cab to work, coffee (albeit a very basic Starbucks), the salad, the moon, and a train ticket to Connecticut for a friend’s law school graduation celebration weekend. Because I was with my friend’s family, it meant dinner, desserts, Leona Lewis, wine and cars were all gratis. I was thankful.

Made a trip to the gym while I was in CT and a woman spoke to me for the entirety of the five miles I ran on the treadmill. She didn’t let me put my earphones in and asked specific questions throughout, including, but not limited to: “You don’t feed your dog ANY human food?!” And, “You’re telling me you wouldn’t sleep with Bill Clinton?” I can’t say she wasn’t a little entertaining, but she’s keeping me from “Bleeding Love!” Anyway, I bought some ice for the graduation party and had a smoothie, great day.

Time to look to the big scoreboard and see what the damage was.

OKAY I KNOW. The process was painful at times, especially because I knew I would be sharing my life with the incredible MR followership. This exercise definitely made me rethink the amount of taxis in my life and my alcohol habits. Probably some easy places to cut. As for my girl Leona, she stays. Just don’t let her read this.

Follow the no-longer-anonymous author Marshall Sandman on Instagram @marshallsandman!

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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  • Millie Lammoreaux

    I love this person but I’m also gagging at his order of “straight gin”. My #1 most-hated liquor, straight! Not for me, nope nope.

    • Lyla

      I cannot handle a gin and tonic, but a shot of gin is actually so easy. I have no idea why.

  • I love these money diaries. I’m always fascinated and curious to know what people spend their money on. I’m 25 as well and still getting used to the fact that I’m an adult, with my own salary, and I can spend my money on whatever I want! (you know, to an extent)

    • Cristina

      The older you get, the more you contemplate impulse purchases. Like, I want to blow up the MAC store right now… buttttt do I want new makeup bad enough to spend my “burn money” on it and not get new shoes? HECK NO. lol

      • Lyndsay

        amen. I have a whole account just for burn money and it is my favourite thing. The lady at the kooples calls it my ‘spend me’ card lol! It’s amazing how you can buy quite extravagant items once you realise the actual value of all that impulse shopping.

  • Amber MB


    • Amelia Diamond

      burrito bowls

    • Christina

      I work with bros and this is a real thing (at least for lunches).

      • Amber MB

        Why. I’m kind of horrified and kind of want to join in

    • Marshall Sandman

      Salad only! It’s not all that healthy though with crispy onions and bacon in it…

      • Amber MB

        Right, sending you a food package

  • Damalia Jack Spaniard

    Curious to know what’s his annual salary to give us some persoective…not that this spending was a little crazy but if he’s making 250k this would be a drop in the bucket

    • Abby

      Yeah in reading this all I could think about was what the salary might be. In an anonymous diary, I think it’s an easy thing to include!

      • Amelia Diamond

        we have un-anonymous’d him!

    • Same

    • Same!

    • jdhammer

      Jesus, do 25-year olds make $250k? I am doing something very wrong

      • emma

        Yes some make $500k+

        • emma

          (To be clear not in banking – some PE shops, some hedge funds – depends on the year and bonus structure)

          Most of my PE friends make ~$300-400K at 25-26 yrs

      • s_knucks

        i have a 27 year old coworker who told me her friends in finance make $300k entry level. My first immediate question was why the hell do you hang out with so many finance bros (we’re both artists), but that’s a story for another time~*!

    • rachel

      I am a banker in Missouri (though probably at a lower level than this guy) and let me assure you I make nowhere neaaaar 250k.

      • Lyla

        Banker is a pretty broad term. He is probably an investment banker of some kind.

  • Cristina

    OMG I black out and then end up with new Nike’s too!! This must be a thing. I can probably add it to WebMD.
    Gah, money diaries are my favvvvv.

    • Marshall Sandman

      Wish I could help myself 🙈

  • Alison

    “OK I KNOW” — my response, every time. But tracking spending is really helpful to get back on track. You can do it, one “Ok I know” to another.

  • tmm16

    Also curious to know what his salary is? I respect the impulse purchases. We all do it.

  • Nathalie

    I live in a city that’s quite cheap in Europe and never been to NYC so can someone tell me is Sparkling Water really $13?? Or is it not just one bottle, I’m so confused..

    • Basil

      Me too. I live in London and have seen my fair share of expensive sparkling waters but … $13?!

    • Tess

      I’m assuming he bought a 6 or 4 pack of bottles, or a pack of 24 12oz cans. Live in NY and I’ve never heard of a singular sparkling water costing that much.

  • lillian c.

    Sometimes I am really happy I live in Ohio where the drinks are strong, your boyfriend will drive you around and any tab over 30 dollars is extravagant

    • lillian c.

      yet I still play that, where did all my money go? game

    • Yupppp. Although then I think about how I can never leave Ohio because I can barely keep my finances straight here. Wouldn’t stand a chance somewhere more expensive!

  • Tiffany Persons

    I so love the Money Diary series. Puts everything in to perspective.

  • i live for money diaries. can we ask leona lewis to do one next?

  • fortinbras

    Where on earth do they sell smoothies for 13 dollars. I’m in Philly and the most expensive one i’ve seen is still less than 10. (9.50, but still!)

    • Abby

      I’m in Philly too and, very shamefully, I’ve def spent $15 on a smoothie (damn you, PS &Co!).

      • fortinbras

        Oh lol that makes sense. I’ve never even stepped in there!

        • Abby

          It’s so insanely overpriced. Completely not worth it.

    • Marshall Sandman

      It’s not even fair to call it a smoothie honestly. It’s peanut butter and banana and almond milk… might as well be a milkshake

      • Nico

        Invest in a Vitamix! $13 spent on just those ingredients could provide a week’s worth of smoothies for breakfast!

  • Thought the Sunday snip at first was for like a week and literally gasped when i realized it was for DAY ONE.

  • M

    Honestly, the most shocking part of this is that you let that woman at the gym jabber on for five miles

    • Reese Ferguson

      😂😂😂😂 My thoughts exactly. Learning to tactfully terminate should be next on his to do list.

      • Sagal Kahin

        I could really benefit from a how-to on this. Short of hiding in the washroom, I have no idea how to bring painful conversations with friendly strangers to an end.

        • sockmarks

          I employ the Jessica Lovejoy tactic of “Excuse me, I have to go stand over here now.” Don’t forget to simply step two feet away and point yourself in a different direction. Any direction.

    • Marshall Sandman

      It was awful…

  • Ok YES please do more money diaries!!! One of my favorite Refinery pieces are these type of articles!

  • Lindsey

    I just wanna know how Monday came out to $35. That math is not right, haha. That being said though, if I was a single person with a lot of money, I KNOW I’d spend it like this. I’m totally an impulse buyer for literally anything. I will buy just random things that add up and then an expensive thing on top of it! No judgment here for his spending habits. If I had it to spend, I’d be the same way.

    • Marshall Sandman

      Work pays for dinner! Wasn’t reflected in the above but definitely a good catch.

  • Emmie

    i didn’t realise Leona Lewis made such a big impression on the US


    It would really help to add the salaries and general monthly expenses of the individuals who are writing these. It really helps put the spending in perspective and helps me relate more to certain money diaries over others.

    • Amelia Diamond

      noted on the salaries – it’s tricky when they are not anonymous (our author has just asked to be named!) but noted for the anon ones, or something to consider if we should only do anon (and therefore get salary) before moving forward.

      • susan

        Why doesn’t he want to post the salary esp since he’s posting spending? With no frame of reference, it’s kind of a pointless post. Would prefer to see entire salary/rent/daily spending breakdown. Only way for it to be useful or interesting! Also, are there no 25 yr old women bankers? I don’t understand the point of this post.

        • june2

          Agree. Recently read Amanda Steinberg’s book on women’s finance (http://amzn.to/2wUgfYf) and reading this brought the examples in the book to mind. The money diary’s of two manhattan women were featured and how the difference in how they spent it made to their overall wealth. One with a 250k salary and a million dollar apartment she owned and another with something like a 60k salary and a rental. The woman with the lower salary was actually worth more due to wise use, etc, both of which were detailed out. Would LOVE to see real life comparisons like that here in the mk money diaries! This guy was funny though ; )

  • Nutella Fitzgerald

    The Joshua Radin call-out killed me. TOO REAL.

    • Marshall Sandman

      Love him… won’t apologize for it

  • Money diaries are the best, it doesn’t matter what your job is or how much you make…. I just love reading them in general!


  • Nancy

    “I just hung out and looked at the moon, wondering about when we’ll finally make it there.”


  • Jacqueline

    Are you guys taking submissions for Money Diaries? Would love to do one if possible!

    • Amelia Diamond

      email me! amelia at manrepeller dot com

  • Valerie Adrianne Barahona


  • Megan Greffen

    Does the $13 sparkling water come with a unicorn?

    To be fair, Mama’s got her vices, lord knows I never met a kombucha I didn’t like.

  • AbigailatSea

    This is excellent. I saw the $$ on Sunday, and I was all prepared to get judgy, and then I had to stop myself and be realistic because I do some of this stuff. I don’t drink any more but I have been known to stop at whole paycheck (now prime whole paycheck…) and spent $25 on hot breakfast and coffee and a salad on my way to work. Adds up.

  • Alycia

    This is the best thing I’ve read all week. Maybe Marshall will do us all a solid and write another article for MR??

    • Emily


  • claire

    this had me LOL’ing super hard at my desk (sorry colleagues..). whether marsh makes 400K a year or 40K, sounds like he’s spending it wisely at 25 – drinks with friends, concerts, good food, etc. you only reeeeally have to start saving for retirement around 30.

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    can i just say, it’s so refreshing to read a “money diaries” where the comments section isnt a total drag fest (coughrefinery29cough). anyway, i always love reading these. keep em coming!!

  • cleo

    was i the only one who thought this was satire…

  • Emily

    i am CRACKING UP at my desk! so funny!

    also -i am a fellow Bleeding Love aficionado… best ballad EVER? definitely my karaoke song, and if anyone tries to sing it before me, they die.

    the crescendo after the second verse… life-changing!

  • Basil

    Glad to know I’m not the only person living almost exclusively on shop made salads

  • I’m so excited that you went to the Joshua Radin concert! Started listening in high school…never stopped, ha. Concerts are one thing I have a lot of trouble not spending on-I always think “what if it’s the last time I can see them??”

  • nicolacash

    and here I am trying to make $100 stretch 2 weeks…

    • Eliza

      seriously… i guilt myself if i get starbucks 2 days in a row.

  • Kelsey Alyssa

    I have painful weeks like this, too (except instead of drinks and going out I drop $500 on clothing), so no shame! I love the money diaries series, it puts so much into perspective!
    it seems as though people in New York eat out all the time..

  • belle

    My job also pays for lunch if you work through it, and dinner if you stay late. If I have nothing else to do and I can get overtime pay and my meals paid for, why not?! I’m on a pretty strict budget (aka never go out to eat) so this is a win-win for me, plus I get to try new restaurants and take home leftovers.

  • missmg

    I loved this Marshall well done, who doesnt love Leona Lewis!! I live in Perth Australia and these prices/spending is normal to me, it all adds up really quickly!!
    As for people requesting his annual salary, are you for real? They have included his public Insta account would you honestly let the entire internet know how much you earn!? I would not.
    I think the money diaries is meant to be more of a fun exercise and allows you to compare your own spending to others, regardless of income… just my thoughts 🙂
    Again great job Marshall and nice to see a males perspective.

  • heatherloveslove

    Sheesh, drinking gin straight is a thing?!

  • Danielle S.

    “I just hung out and looked at the moon, wondering about when we’ll finally make it there.”
    It’s been a while, but we have been to the moon. This makes it sound like we haven’t and I needed to get that off my chest.