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

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

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

Background

Occupation: Unemployed 🙂 :’( 

Industry: Aspiring journalist? Writer? Filmmaker Richwife??

Age: 22 

Location: Jersey City aka the sixth borough 

Salary: N/A

Net Worth: $15,000 (savings)

Debt: $15,000 (student loans)

Pronouns: She/her 

Monthly Expenses

HBO max: $15 (way expensive but WAY WORTH IT)

Rent: $0 (live with my parents *throw up emoji*)

Spotify: $4.99

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

 I was one hundred percent expected to go to college; my entire life my parents have told me that the most important thing is school and getting good grades so that I could get a high paying job and be successful. There was no world in which I wouldn’t attend college. My dad paid for basically all of it until my junior year when I started taking out the small amount in loans my parents would allow me to because I felt bad, but really it didn’t make much of an impact.

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

I’m really lucky because I never had to worry about money until my senior year of college. Growing up my parents always told me that I had to get a good job and make a lot of money so that I would never need to depend on a spouse. They also just always said that the responsibility of every parent is to make sure that their kids do better than they did in life. 

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

Though I’m still probably not the best at managing my finances, I started learning how to budget and save during my sophomore year of college. That was the year that I opened up my first credit card, started working, and began realizing just how expensive life can be. I don’t think anyone ever really taught me about finances, we didn’t really talk about it in school and my parents definitely never spoke to me about paying bills or investing or anything. I’ve just always done my own research. 

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

I opened my first savings account back in June because I realized that I’m much less likely to spend my money if it’s not just sitting in my checking account. 

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

When I first started working in the spring of my sophomore year of college, I somehow ended up starting two jobs at the same time. I worked as a hostess at a restaurant in New York City and a freelance reporter for the Jersey Journal. I started working at the restaurant because I just knew that I was nineteen and I should have a job. At the same time, I started at the Jersey Journal because I was lucky enough to have a family member that used to work there and knew that I loved to write. 

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

I’m not financially independent at the moment, although I would like to be. Like many other college seniors, the pandemic put a halt to my post-grad plans and I have been home with my family ever since. Even though I’m fortunate enough that my parents let me live with them, rent free, and pay for all of the necessities, I still do worry about money – A LOT. This is because I am unemployed and I desperately want to move out. I also worry about it because I studied Journalism and unfortunately that field does not pay a lot, isn’t very stable and does not have a lot of viable opportunities, especially when you’re first starting out.

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

When COVID-19 initially hit I was still working as a hostess but was then laid off so I was able to collect money from unemployment when we went into lockdown. This money went straight to my savings account since I had and still have minimal expenses while living at home. 

Spending

Day One: Sunday 

To start my week off I spent my morning applying to jobs for a few hours while I waited for my sister to wake up. Once she finally woke up around noon, we worked out together in my family’s workout room. 

When I finished, I took a shower, while my dad ordered us pizza for lunch from our favorite local pizza shop that we’ve been going to for years. 

After lunch, I continued working on job applications for a few hours until dinner. My dad cooked spaghetti and meatballs, which is my personal favorite dish that he makes.

Later on, my sister and I watched a movie. We watch one almost every single night.

  • Day One Total: $0

Day Two: Monday 

Since every morning is pretty much the same in my house right now, like yesterday I spent my morning applying to jobs and working out.

After eating leftover pasta for lunch, I took a trip to Target because I needed to buy a few things. When I workout I like to make protein shakes so I bought strawberries, milk and bananas. $10.68

When I got back from Target my sister was still in one of her online classes so I went to my room to read the book that my aunt lent me. The book is called “Think Like a Monk” by Jay Shetty and it’s very insightful.

My mom cooked us all dinner. Then my sister and I watched “Let it Snow” on Netflix because we wanted to get into the Christmas spirit.

  • Day Two Total: $10.68

Day Three: Tuesday

After completing my morning routine, I decided that I should do my laundry while I waited for my sister to finish her classes for the day.

When she finished at 3:30 p.m., we went to the mall because my mom’s birthday was coming up and we needed to buy her a gift. 

Our first stop was Sephora for a skin care product we knew she wanted. $21.55

Then we stopped by Macy’s to get her a MAC blush as well. $15.49

Once we returned from the mall I spent the next hour or two just scrolling through my Tik Tok FYP waiting for dinner.

My mom cooked again and we all sat together in our dining room and talked about our very boring day. 

After dinner, my sister and I convinced my mom to watch “The Lie” with us on Amazon Prime, which was nice because normally my mom doesn’t want to watch the same movies as we do.

  • Day Three Total: $37.04

Day Four: Wednesday 

Today, I decided to make myself pancakes before working out because they are my favorite thing to eat for breakfast and I wanted something different.

After my workout, I ordered myself lunch from Rumba’s Cafe because I was tired of eating leftovers every day. I also bought my sister’s food too because I couldn’t let her suffer either. $23.35

In the afternoon, I spent some time applying to jobs and scrolling through Tik Tok until dinner was ready. I ate dinner in my room because I attended a Zoom conversation my school hosted from their new “Cool Jobs to Consider” series. 

To conclude the evening, my sister and I watched “Backcountry,” which was probably our favorite movie we saw this week. 

  • Day Four Total: $23.35

Day Five: Thursday 

Today, my aunt came for an unexpected visit so I spent most of my morning talking to her. She brought us lunch and when we finished eating introduced us to her third-grade students she teaches remotely. 

After she left, I spent the majority of the day applying to jobs and as usual, my dad made us dinner. 

Then a little later, I watched “Ingrid Goes West” — I highly recommend it!

  • Day Five Total: $0

Day Six: Friday  

I decided to clean my room when I woke up because I knew my mom was going to put the Christmas tree up later in the day and she would have to move some stuff into my room. After cleaning, I did a quick workout.

For lunch, my dad brought me home a sandwich from Jersey Mikes. Then after scrolling through my Instagram feed for way too long I decided to go for a drive just to get out of the house.

When I got back, my family had dinner from the same italian restaurant we always order from. 

Then I watched the new HBO Max show “The Flight Attendant” until I went to sleep.

  • Day Six Total: $0

Day Seven: Saturday

I didn’t feel like doing anything today, so when I woke up I just watched Youtube videos all morning until my family woke up.

I then decided to order myself an EMS muscle trainer to help me reach my fitness goals because unfortunately after many years of trying I still can’t tone my butt. I don’t know if it’s going to work but it was on sale and the reviews were good so fingers crossed. $30

Lunch was again leftovers; then I decided to finally watch “Emma” because I had been wanting to see it since it came out. 

After dinner, I helped my sister write an essay for her Theology class, and then I just went to bed.

  • Day Six Total: $30

Graphic by Alexis Morales
Is this what a typical week of spending looks like for you?

I would say that currently this is what a week of spending looks like for me. I typically don’t spend much money unless I want to buy something for myself like clothes or I’m going to safely spend time with my friends. 

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

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