Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.
Do you want to start investing in the stock market? Are you already experienced at it? Tell us all about your experiences with stonks here.
Today: a registered nurse who makes $100,700 and spends some of her money this week on a light pink surgical mask.
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Location: The Bronx, NY
Net Worth: $43,000
Debt: $5,000 (This is credit card debt that I accrued paying rent for my mom for five months of the pandemic.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,500-$3,100 (varies based on overtime)
Housing Cost: $300-$500 (I live with my mom and don’t actually pay rent, but I give her this amount of money every month.)
Health Insurance: $28.81 biweekly (I have a high deductible, but my employer puts $650 in an HSA for me every year.)
Disney+: $75 annually
Roth IRA: $500
House Savings: $600
Emergency Savings: $800
Discretionary Spending Account: $200
Cell Phone: $200
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
I went to an in-state college and went on a full merit scholarship. I only paid for some outside fees associated with my nursing program such as scrubs, stethoscopes, etc.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I grew up in a seven-person household with a total income of less than $30,000 a year. We immigrated here from Honduras for the land of opportunity, which is not what we found. More than once growing up, I came home to find an eviction notice on our door, but we always made it work. I was definitely kept in the dark about money, which is why personal finance is now an interest of mine.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first “job” was a paid stipend I got from my local clinic for being a peer educator. I helped teach other teens in the clinic about sexual and reproductive health. My first real job was as a sales associate at a clothing store. I got it my senior year of high school in an effort to earn enough money to go to prom since I didn’t want to put that strain on my mom. This money also helped me contribute to the needs of my siblings.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, all the time. I knew not to ask for anything extravagant.
Do you worry about money now?
It’s weird, growing up in a low-income household and now becoming middle class, I’m suddenly able to buy all the things I could never have. Whoever said money can’t solve your problems didn’t have enough money.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I’ve always been pretty responsible for myself. I have had a job since I was 15. I never stopped working even in college. My safety net is my savings account that I grew myself.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No, I wish.
9 a.m. — I’m awake. Today is my day off so I slept in. Not much going on today, just a Brazilian later on. I make some avocado toast and turkey bacon for breakfast and start watching Netflix.
1 p.m. — I’m a sucker for churros, so I get three for $2 from the vendor and then stop by Starbucks and get a grande iced peach green tea. $6
2 p.m. — I head to the salon for my Brazillian wax. I end up buying a wax pass just because I prefer to pay for things up front. This pass should last me for the whole year. $530
3 p.m. — I stop by a clothing store that’s going out of business. They’re selling everything, even the fixtures. I find a really cute dress for only $15. Then I go to Trader Joe’s. $15
4 p.m. — In line at Trader Joe’s, I realize I don’t have my debit card. I go check my bank account to lock my card and see that someone has been using it and about $2,000 is missing. I call my bank and report it. I’m not going to let this ruin my day. I pay with cash for my avocados, banana bread, grated cheese, and cauliflower rice. $12
9 p.m. — I meet up with some nursing school friends for dinner at a Thai restaurant. I get the basil fried rice bok choy spring rolls and a Thai mule. $52
10 p.m. — My friend has a discount with Lyft so I ask her to book me a ride home. I send her the money. $8
Daily Total: $623
9 a.m. — I am off again today. I try to be productive on my days off, but honestly working three 12-hour days a week takes a toll on you. My mom makes her daily run to get some fresh bread in the morning so I wait until she comes back to make my breakfast of avocado on bread with turkey bacon and coffee.
1 p.m. — I go to the post office to pick up a package. The bank calls to tell me they will be mailing me a new card. I stop by my local branch to take out cash from the teller to hold me over until then. I’m a sucker for a light pink surgical mask and I see someone selling them on the side of the street, so I buy 10 masks. $2
2 p.m. — I stop by my favorite coffee shop. I love getting a horchata latte and avocado toast. I sit outside and enjoy some alone time. I grab another latte on my way out. $19
3 p.m. — I head to my appointment to refill my eyelash extensions. I only recently started getting eyelash extensions and I am in love with them. They make my face pop so much $85
Daily Total: $106
6:30 a.m. — I sleep through multiple alarms. I’m exhausted because I stayed up listening to Apple’s pure party mix on Apple Music and it gave me so much energy, but I had no business being up that late. My commute is typically 30 minutes by train to work, but it’s anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes by Uber. Since it’s the weekend and we all know how the MTA can be, I take an Uber to work. $32
9 a.m. — I have two patients today but they are two very critical patients, so it will be busy. I eat breakfast quickly while doing some documentation.
3 p.m. — It’s been a busy day and I finally get a moment to eat. I get a garlic parmesan bowl from Dig Inn. I also stop by Starbucks to get an iced peach green tea. $14
7 p.m. — I finish up with my patients and give report. My take away from being a critical care nurse is that there’s power in understanding the fragility of life and it’s taught me how to live for now instead of living for ten years from now. I get on the train home.
8 p.m. — I get off the train and decide I deserve some ice cream. I buy my favorite flavor of Haagen Dazs — cookies and cream. I get home and blend some Oreos into crumbs to top my ice cream and it is *chef’s kiss*. $4
Daily Total: $50
5 a.m. — I wake up pretty late today, but manage to get out of the house by 6:10. I wait for the bus because I don’t feel like walking to the train. The bus doesn’t come for 15 minutes, so I decide to just order an Uber to work. I buy a tamale for breakfast from a street vendor. I really hate the amount of money I spend on Uber. $24
3 p.m. — I finally get a few moments to myself to eat. I have two patients today, one of which is very critical. Another nurse is going to Starbucks and offers to pick up a drink for me, so I get a grande iced peach green tea with Stevia. $3.50
7 p.m. — I hand off my patients and head to the vaccine clinic. I’m getting my first COVID vaccine tonight. I admit I am nervous. However, as soon as I feel the prick of the needle in my arm, I feel immediate relief.
Daily Total: $27.50
5 a.m. — My schedule has sucked this week. I make a quick breakfast of boiled eggs, avocado, and turkey bacon.
7 a.m. — I just graduated a few months ago, so I am still in a nursing residency program and take classes. Today’s class is about chemotherapy. We have a three-hour lecture then I observe a nurse administering chemo to a patient.
2 p.m. — I take a break for lunch. So far, the day has been great. I even got to do a couple of procedures with some other nurses. I talk index funds with one of my colleagues and end up buying two shares of PRNT, which is $60. $60
5 p.m. — Class is over so I head home and watch Netflix for the rest of the day.
Daily Total: $60
9 a.m. — Another day off, loving being able to sleep in. I’m doing Sunday brunch with the girls, but it’s honestly way too cold for outdoor dining today so we go to The Boil in Jersey City.
3 p.m. — The food is so good and being able to spend some time with my friends is so good. We split the bill. $78
7 p.m. — There is not much shopping in this area of Jersey, but we stop at TJ Maxx where I buy an Evian spray and a sweater ($20). I also treat everyone to Starbucks before we head back home and that’s $10. $30
Daily Total: $108
5 a.m. — Everybody loves Mondays, right? LOL not me.
8 a.m. — Mondays at the hospital are always overwhelming and I’m glad I’m not working. I have a shake for breakfast.
10 a.m. — I go meet my trainer for a boot camp workout. I’m just getting back into working out. I purchase a 10-pack of sessions. $600
4 p.m. — I shower and take a nap. I had dinner plans, but they get canceled. I heat up leftovers from yesterday and do some work for a class.
5 pm – Mail is here! So excited to have a debit card again. I make some cauliflower rice and grilled shrimp for my work lunch tomorrow. I spend the rest of the evening on Netflix. Until next time guys, xoxo, your Gen Z nurse.
Daily Total: $600
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual’s experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you’d like to share? Submit it with us here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?