The Money Diaries: The 23 year-old non-profit employee living in Washington DC
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Today is the first post in the Money Diaries series, which is based off New York Magazine’s Sex Diaries. Along with the help of Jeff Kuo, we’ve collected stories from real people about their spending habits over seven days, anonymized them, and posted them here.
Today’s post is from a 23-year old woman who works at a non-profit.
7:35am – Search through mostly empty kitchen for something to take with me to work for lunch. Finally found a can of ravioli that my sister had left when she visited. I remind myself to make a grocery shopping list for the 5th time.
8:35am – Riding the bus to work through Georgetown and I just can’t believe people have enough money to buy so much stuff. It half makes me half jealous half nauseous. In my head I start adding up all of the money I have been wasting on metro/bus since my bike got stolen. I really need to just suck it up and spend the money on a new bike.
9:30am – Check my account balance… $75.00. But at least I get paid on Friday. Last week my boss approved the 10% raise I asked for so maybe I can finally start saving some money.
2:00pm – Looking at my credit card balance: $ 600. I try to pay it off at the end of each month but this month I had to pay for medical school applications. I’ve already paid over $700 just in application fees. I really hate having a balance on my credit card…makes me feel claustrophobic. I guess that’s where my pay raise needs to go.
7:30pm – Meet up with a friend for dinner and end up spending $25 on dinner when I know I can’t afford it. It’s amazing how easily something like that can throw your budget right out the window.
9:00pm – Look on Craigslist for a while and realize that an affordable and clean apartment in DC is just not going to happen. In order to save more, I HAVE to pay less rent. I just hope that doesn’t mean having to deal with roaches…
7:35am – I promised my boyfriend I’d make him dinner tonight as a reward for 5 days off cigarettes. I need to have enough money to at least buy the ingredients.
8:50am– Get off the bus and realize that I left my breakfast and lunch back in my seat. Great. I buy a bagel.
9:15am– $18.18 in my checking account! I don’t know why I’m so surprised. I took $20 out of the ATM and put dinner on my card last night. 18.18 for the next two days is not so bad but I’m so sick of living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve read that some people make all their purchases in cash so they spend less. Should I think about doing that?
11:28am– Obsessing over my student loans a bit. I have 18,000.00 still to pay and I’m applying to medical school for next year. How am I ever going to get out of debt? I only make the minimum payment each month.
7:00pm – Visited a potential house that I may be renting with three friends beginning mid-September. The rent is affordable for DC. I can’t tell if I should compromise so I can save more and have more money to do fun things (like take a snowboarding trip this winter) or if I should look for a more comfortable place.
9:00am – I just got off the phone with my dad and he wants to buy me the new bike I’ve been needing. Ever since I graduated from college last year I just haven’t been interested in taking my parents money. I want to be and feel financially independent…but man is it enticing.
1:00pm – Found out today that I could have been walking to my capoeira (martial arts) class after work the same amount of time that I was taking the metro. I had a discussion with a friend about how to ask for a raise. Is it harder for women to ask male bosses vs female bosses for raises?
8:00pm – Went to Whole Foods to pick up a few things. When I got to the checkout my wallet was missing! Yikes. Had anxious thoughts about someone spending up to my limit on my credit card and draining my account. Luckily I had just left it at my office.
7:00am– Woke up feeling wonderful. Today is payday. I’m heading back home for the weekend for my sister’s wedding shower and I’m looking forward to seeing my family and free food. I still need to buy her a gift. I should have budgeted for a gift weeks ago, and now I feel like I can’t spend any money with the stupid $600 sitting on my credit card.
9:00am – Dropped a pair of shoes off at the cobbler to get the heels replaced. Now that I’m trying to save more its kind of fun to figure out how to make things last longer. For $20 I basically get my shoes back as good as new.
6:30pm – At the airport waiting to fly home. I buy a tiny glass of wine for $5 but it’s worth it since my flight gets delayed 40 minutes. At least I have a nice little buzz while I wait.
9:30am – Get my hair cut. I don’t spend much on beauty products or clothes but its worth $50 for a good hair cut. My stylist makes me feel like a million bucks.
12:00am – At home in Cleveland for my sisters wedding shower and bachelorette party. Although I’m happy for my sister I just can’t believe how much money my parents are spending on this wedding. They don’t manage their finances well and it drives me crazy. I want to tell them to be more responsible but it is a very strange dynamic to finally realize that your parents don’t have much personal finance skills.
7:00pm – Bachelorette party at a wine bar and then a pub. It’s amazing how much social pressure there is to pretend you have tons of money. Obviously we don’t let my sister pay but everyone just has to act like they can afford whatever it is. When girl asked for her own bill and bought her own drink, I noticed people judging her.
12:00pm – Head back to the airport in my sister’s car and I have to fill up the gas tank. I haven’t bought gas in over a year because I don’t have a car in DC. I think I’ll stick to my bike for a while. I have to admit though, sometimes I just miss driving.
5:00pm: Have a fight in the car with my sister about money. She’s still in college and has been pretty irresponsible with her money… I think it’s mostly because my parents don’t manage their money well and have not set good examples for her.
10:00pm: Finally home from the airport. My boyfriend picks me up. He drives me around so much without asking for anything. I really should start contributing to his gas payments.
9:00am: I’ve realized that I spend more money when I am feeling tired and moody.
7:00pm: Going to grocery shop for the week and keep track of how much I spend on food. This is my first try so I know that I will not be at the $40 goal I’m shooting for. End up $68.00. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I have actually started doing something I’ve been wanting to do for a while even if I didn’t do as well as I would have liked.
10:00pm: Pay my bills before bed. It makes it easier to sleep.
11:00pm: Sleep. Glad to be able to pay my rent, eat and have enough left over to have a little fun. Sweet money dreams.
In sum: Spent the week obsessing about student loans, grocery bills, and the social pressure to spend. I might have also convinced myself never to get a car. I might actually be a personal finance nerd after all.
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