Graphic by staff graphic designer Sumen Imtiaz.

Bread, cash, moolah, paper, dollars, money.

No matter what you call it, we all know money talks, but still, it’s a topic that’s often avoided — until now.

Money Talks* is a Slice of Culture series where we ask real people in Hudson County about their personal finances, not only how they make their money, but also how they spend it, specifically during a seven day period. 

This Week: An Assistant Buyer with a passion for fashion


Occupation: Assistant Buyer

Industry: Fashion

Age: 22

Location: Bayonne, NJ

Salary: $57,000 + 10-20% bonus

Net Worth: Unsure, no assets

Debt: $0

Paycheck Amount (bi-weekly): $1,621.94

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Monthly Expenses

Rent: $0 – Technically I still live at home, which helps me save money, but my dad does ask me to contribute $300 a month to house expenses since there are eight of us living there.

Metrocard/Smartlink: $100 (when not working remotely) 

Spotify: $10.65

Netflix: $13.85

Did your family expect you to attend higher education? Did you attend? If so, how did you pay for it? 

Since middle school, my dad always told me I would (have to) go to college. My major was also in his hands until my junior year of high school when I started to really think about what I wanted to study and what field of work I wanted to be in. I went to Seton Hall University and fortunately graduated an entire semester early. Of course, none of that would’ve been possible if I wasn’t accepted into EOP, Educational Opportunity Program, which is funded by EOF, Educational Opportunity Fund, for low income/first-gen students. Because of that program (and living at home), I graduated debt-free and spent close to nothing out of pocket for school. 

Growing up did you worry about money? Were there conversations about money in your household? 

Financial independence and monetary conversations were and still are very different with both of my parents. My dad always had money and was always able to pay for things. I never heard him worry about money and even after being on disability, he has still always been okay, always comfortable. My mom, on the other hand, always had money issues. She has always lived paycheck to paycheck, asking my dad for help, continuously moving from apartment to apartment, and there were even points of food insecurity. However, they both always told me to focus on school, get a good job, and save up as much money as possible to be okay. 

At what age did you learn how to manage your finances? Who taught you about finances? 

After my sweet sixteen, my dad put that money into stocks for me and that’s when it all truly started. It wasn’t until senior year that I took over and began managing my finances seriously. My dad was and always has been the one who teaches me and talks to me about finances. At least once a week we talk about finances and sometimes, I think I may be too paranoid but I’d rather be safe than sorry. 

Do you have a savings account? If so, when did you open it?

I do have a savings account, but I didn’t open it until I got my first full-time job. 

What was your first job? What prompted you to begin working?

My first job was being a port agent at the cruise port in Bayonne. It was the summer before my junior year of high school and I knew I wanted a job, even if it was something temporary. My grandma knew a lady who worked there and she was able to help me obtain the position. 

When did you become fully responsible for yourself? Do you worry about money?

I became FULLY responsible for myself at the end of my freshman year of college. I paid for everything I wanted or needed. I took accountability for everything, I was basically in charge of myself as long as it didn’t involve anything extreme, life-threatening, or illegal. Since then, I always worry about money — if it’ll last, if I’ll have enough, if I’m doing enough with it. 

Do you have a financial safety net? Have you ever inherited income? If yes, explain.

I think at the end of the day, for right now, my dad is my financial safety net. We both know that until I have enough in the bank, enough saved, and enough in assets he’ll always be that net for me. 

Spending (August 30th – September 5th)

Day One:

My best friends, my boyfriend, and I took a trip to Long Island for the day, but the drive from Bayonne to Montauk, which is just shy of 3 hours, calls for some road trip necessity like gas, coffee, and snacks. $25

When we finally arrived at our first destination, Noah. $250.75

It was a pricey 15 minute stop but what are girlfriends for? Then, since Noah wasn’t for me, I HAD to stop by this cute little shop, Love Adorned, for a dried Lavender bouquet and the cutest gold hair claw clip. $54.31

We also went to the cutest record store for some cool and surprising finds. $133.87

A long drive calls for some much-needed food. We ate at the cutest little restaurant with really good food and coffee for a good pick-me-up afterward. $187.56

Just before we started our ride back home we had to stop at 7 Eleven because it was the only bathroom around, plus you always need snacks for the ride back! $12 

  • Day One Total: $663.49

Day Two:

Today was a day of cravings and condolences. After picking up “sorry for your loss” flowers for my cousin and aunt, my sister, cousin, and I had a little taco date. $47

  • Day Two Total: $47

Day Three:

After work, the evening was full of errands. Laundry is such a love/hate relationship but it has to be done. $15

Afterward, my sister and I made a pit stop to Walmart for fruits, car essentials, and a few other things and of course Dunkin’ Donuts as a reward for hard days work. $51

  •  Day Three Total: $66

Day Four:

Another 9-5 day at work for me. One of my bestie’s birthday is coming up and I found her the perfect gift from a shop on Etsy! $33.90

  • Day Four Total: $33.90

Day Five:

Today was a pretty basic day for me. After work, I just hung out with my sister and we watched a movie on Netflix. 

  • Day Five Total: $0

Day Six:

It’s Friday, which means it’s PAYDAY! It also means it’s time to pay the bills. 

  • Day Six Total: $300

Day Seven:

My boyfriend and I took a trip to AC for Labor Day weekend and it is truly blowing a hole in my wallet. We are both passionate about fashion and had to pick up some pieces at the outlets. Maybe we went a little too hard but you know what they say – go big or go home. (Good thing we are going home tomorrow!) We fully shopped til we dropped between Vans, Coach, Levi’s (they were having a great sale), Aldo for the perfect fall loafers, and Crocs, which were definitely not for me. 

  • Day Seven Total: $858.80

Is this what a typical week of spending looks like for you?

I wouldn’t say this was a typical week of spending for me but with summer coming to an end, it was time for me to indulge a little. (Plus, being in the midst of a pandemic, I really haven’t been spending much money.) Some weeks may look like this, others I barely spend anything. If I’m working from home, I usually just eat what my step-mom makes for the whole family, which I’m grateful for. At the end of the day, it’s all about balance and learning when to spend versus when to save.

*Disclaimer: This series and questions were inspired by Refinery 29’s Money Diaries.

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