A Week in New York on a $46,000 Budget
Industry: Real Estate/Finance
Location: Upper East Side, New York City
Paycheck After Deductions (2x per Month): $1,150
Number of Roommates: 2
Utilities (A/C, Heat, Internet): $35-60
Transportation (Metrocard): $116.50 (I pay this with pre-tax dollars)
Tithing: $350 (10% of my Income pre-tax)
Day One (Thursday, September 1st)
6:45 am: I wake up, get dressed, and pack my lunch for work. Today is my last day before moving to my new apartment, and so I’m running a little lean on food. I grab my chilled water bottle and head out the door.
8:00 am: It takes about 45 minutes to get to Midtown from Washington Heights, where I’m staying now. I don’t have to be at work until 8:30, but I’m wary of the subway and like to give myself a few minutes to sit at the New York Public Library before starting my day. Unfortunately, today is unexpectedly drizzling and my choices are slim. I head to McDonald’s to grab an Egg White Delight and small Soda. $5.01
11 am: I had left some veggie straws in my desk at work the day before, and I take the chance now to eat a few.
1 pm: Lunch outside the New York Public Library (it’s not raining!) consists of my packed peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich on wheat bread and applesauce.
4 pm: I tend to get restless at my desk around 3:30 or 4, so I eat a snack size Take 5 bar and hope the sugar will fuel me through the rest of the afternoon.
6 pm: Home from my commute and it’s time to finish packing- tonight will be my first night in my new apartment and it’s both exciting and stressful. I finish the cottage cheese I bought last night with some Ritz crackers to fuel the long trek to the Upper East Side (it takes an hour!)
8 pm: I fully intended on taking the Subway all the way there, but change my mind due to how heavy my things are. I get off the A at 125th and take a Gett the rest of the way. $16.50
10 pm: Time for Bed!
Day Two (Friday, September 2nd)
6:45 am: Repeat my morning ritual at my new apartment. It’s a bit of an adjustment to go back to sharing a bathroom with two other girls, but I know it’s just a matter of finding a routine. I don’t even bother to pack a lunch. My office lets us out early the day before holidays, and so I know I’ll be able to leave work by 2 pm.
7:45 am: I forget that my commute is so much shorter now and so I make it to Midtown very early. It’s still very cool and slightly damp, so I succumb to the draw of warmth from McDonalds. I use the coupon on the receipt from the day before to get two McMuffins for the price of one, a small soda, and a hashbrown. $6.61
12:00 pm: I reheat the second McMuffin for a lunch-ish snack. In order to avoid the imagined stares of judgment of my healthy coworkers, I had removed it from the McDonald’s wrapper and stuck it in a Ziploc bag to make it look like I brought it from home.
1:30 pm: My boss let me leave a little early to get a jumpstart on the weekend and so I’m free to run my errands.
2:00 pm: First stop, Barnes and Noble. I’ve been staying with my boyfriend’s parents since I moved to New York two months ago, and I wanted to do something to show my gratitude now that I’m *finally* moving out. I pick up a $50 giftcard because they both are voracious readers. $50.00
4:00 pm: After swinging by my apartment to change and switch bags, I take off for East Harlem. It has one of the only Aldi’s in the city, as well as the only Target on Manhattan. I have a Target gift card and pick up chocolates (for boyfriend’s parents), makeup remover, a pillow, and some Febreeze. At Aldis, I grab two cans of soup, hot dogs, hotdog buns, and ketchup. $4.41
6:00 pm: Home, and all I can think of is sleep.
Day Three (Saturday, September 3rd)
10:00 am: This is the first weekend that I’ve had the opportunity to sleep in since coming to New York in July. That opportunity, combined with the fact my period started surprisingly early, means that today is a day of bed rest and errands.
1 pm: Finally, out of bed and headed back to Aldi’s and Target. I use most of what’s left on my Target giftcard to buy tampons and Twistable colored pencils (they calm me down, what can I say?). At Aldi’s, I buy as much as I can carry. Two pounds of ground beef, two packets of taco seasoning, macaroni and cheese, angel hair pasta, cheddar cheese, alfredo sauce, mandarin oranges, green beans, and corn. $19.44
3 pm: Returning home, I decide to try out this “meal prep” idea by making a large pot of pasta and shuffling it into a plastic container for lunch this week. I intend to do more, but considering my roommates and I are having a large get to know you dinner, I decide against making too much food.
5 pm: I head back over to my boyfriend’s parents house to pick up the last of my things. I also grab the remaining fragments of food that I had leftover- some sandwich meat, half a jar of pickles, a fourth of a jar of applesauce, a few slices of bread, one package of ramen noodles, a partial jar of peanut butter, a partial jar of jelly, and my Ritz crackers.
7 pm: Returning home, I realize that I’m still missing a few things to start my food pantry. I head back out into the night to pick up a few more things. I grab mayonnaise (that was supposed to be on sale, but wasn’t at the register, darn it), a can of ravioli, and a microwaveable Korean soup. $7.87
7:30 pm: The trip to C-Town was so infuriatingly expensive (mayonnaise, man!), that despite needing just one more thing I insist to myself that it would be worth it to walk to another grocery store. I head to Fairway on 86th, grab flour tortillas, get lost trying to find the staircase out, and finally make it back out onto the street. $2.99
8:00 pm: I quickly eat the Korean soup and head back into my room for some more self-pity, chocolate, and Netlfix.
Day Four (Sunday, September 4th)
10:00 am: Another day of late rising. The church here is just two doors down from my apartment and doesn’t start until 1 pm. Plus, it’s fast Sunday which means no eating or drinking until dinner tonight.
11:00 am: Call a friend from home to commiserate a bit.
1:00 pm: Make the long trek to church (haha!).
4:00 pm: Break the Fast- yes! I guess not every Mormon is super into the three hours of church thing, so sometimes they have food at the end of the services to convince people to stick it out. It was definitely worth it. A meal of chicken tikka masala, basmati rice, broccoli, and Rice Krispie treats awaits us.
7:30 pm: Chicken Taco dinner with our apartment and the apartment next door.
Day Five (Monday, September 5th)
10:00 am: It’s Labor Day, and the last holiday I’ll have until October when I take a day off. I plan to use it to sleep in, explore, and watch some more TV. I scarf down some leftover tacos before heading out.
10:10 am: I realize my monthly MTA pass ran out and have to buy a refill. $116.50
11:00 am: I make it to the Intrepid Air, Sea, and Space Museum. It’s not my boyfriend’s cup of tea, but I’ve been wanting to do it since I learned of its existence. Aircraft carriers are a huge point of interest for me, especially when you combine them with World War II. The ticket is expensive at $24, but I guess that’s the benefit of having a real job now. $24.00
3:00 pm: I leave the museum and venture back to the Upper East Side, stopping into Staples quickly to pick up a spiral notebook. $0.17
5:00 pm: More tacos, more cobbler from last night.
Day Six (Tuesday, September 6th)
6:45 am: It’s a new day and time to prepare for work. The great thing about Saturday’s meal prep is that I don’t have to worry about making a sandwich this morning.
1:30 pm: Work has been overwhelmingly stressful- definitely the most difficult day so far. I’m just now heating the pasta and eating it at my desk- something I hate doing. I need a boost, so I log onto the church’s website to pay my tithing from last month. Latter-day Saints pay 10% of their gross income to the church. It sounds silly that paying such a huge amount would make my day better, but somehow it does. $350
3:45 pm: The board meeting had a lunch of sushi and there was a decent amount left. I guess the stress of today was worth something since I get to pick over the leftovers.
6:00 pm: I meet William for dinner at a restaurant in Brooklyn Heights. I have a burger and fries. He has chicken and waffles with a cocktail. He pays- a treat for abandoning me all weekend.
Day Seven (Wednesday, September 7th)
6:45 am: Up and at’em. I left the rest of my pasta at work, so I don’t have to pack anything for today’s lunch.
1:00 pm: Lunch of pasta, applesauce, and veggie straws in Bryant Park. Get hit on by a random guy while taking advantage of the free “Art Cart.” Basically, you can color or draw for free while sitting at a few reserved tables outside of the library.
6:00 pm: My boyfriend stops by to see my new apartment. One roommate is there, so we decide to go for a walk. We stop by Fairway Market to pick up a Ritter Sport with Marzipan. I’ve been craving Marzipan for weeks. It’s on sale for $3, but I always forget that taxes on non-essential foods in NY is very high. $3.80
7:30 pm: After walking around Central Park, my boyfriend decides he’d like a snack before we head to trivia. We go to Xi’an Famous Foods where we sample a spicy lamb burger and sour and spicy dumplings. He pays.
9:00 pm: Since my boyfriend covered the snack and dinner last night, I pay tonight. The trivia here is great, but the food is mediocre and expensive. I wish we could find somewhere else to go. My boyfriend and I each order fried calamari, and he gets a Coke and a cocktail. $42.50
Week Total So Far: $649.80
Transportation: $116.50 (monthly cost)