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: Full-time graduate student and Intern

Industry: Real Estate

Age: 22

Location: Jersey City, NJ the 201

Salary: Credited internship, so no salary

Debt: $17,000 

Pronouns: He/him/his

Monthly Expenses/Subscriptions

Rent: I live with my parents so I don’t pay rent

Spotify: $5

Apple storage: $0.99/monthly 

Phone plan: $26

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

Not attending college wasn’t an option for me. Since I was a child, my parents always told me that the more I read the more places I’d go. This is what their parents emphasized to them so it was passed on to me like a family heirloom, so to speak. My mother and our close family friends all work in the education sector, so I always grew up around people who would tell me the same thing my parents told me.

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

I never worried about money. Truth be told, I am spoiled. It’s something my father always told my mother at the dinner table, “You spoil him too much.” I grew up in a comfortable household, and I had opportunities that other kids my age did not, in my opinion. Every summer my family and I would leave the country and vacation in Europe. If I wanted something, I would have it. As I grew older and began spending money on my own, I became more aware of conversations regarding money as I was finally able to grasp the concept.

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

I managed my finances since receiving my first ever paycheck at the age of 16. I remember walking back from the bank, my father said that I need to save the majority of that money but to use the rest of it for my own pleasure. To this day, whenever I get paid, 2/3 of my money stays in my bank, and 1/3 goes to my spending. Truth be told though, I do have moments where I blow out a whole check on food and clothes just because.

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

I’ve had a savings account from the day I was born. I didn’t know about it till I became a teenager when my parents gave me access to it.

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

At 16, I began working at my high school. I worked in the GED department after regular school hours. This was something that I never thought would really happen this early, and kept it a secret from my friends for about three months. This job was offered to me by a supervisor while traveling in Europe with the school the year before. She liked my character and offered me the job, no interview or anything. She said if I wanted it, it was mine. What made me take the offer was the idea of having my own money, rather than being dependable on my parents all the time.

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

I don’t think I’ll consider myself fully responsible for myself until I get my own place with my own money. Yes, I still have my own expenses while living under my parents’ roof but it’s not the same because I don’t have to pay for rent, wifi, food, and all the basic necessities. Now, at home, my only responsibilities are my grad school studies and performing my best at my internship. I personally don’t worry about money, and I’m by no means rich but thanks to the minimal expenses at home and being in the midst of a pandemic, my spending is relatively low. However, as an unpaid intern at a real estate company, any money I spend is essentially just money going down the drain. That being said, I’m a firm believer that one way or another, if you are determined, the money will find its way to you, unless you are greedy. 

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

My financial safety net is my parents. They always have been my safety net. Even now they always ask me if I need money or what is going on with my expenses. I am an open book with them regarding money, on how I’m spending it and how I’m earning it.

Spending (Sunday-Saturday)

Day One:

This real estate broker that I follow on Instagram and really love just released a book so I went to buy it because everything about real estate and his deal closings. Though I don’t want to be a real estate agent or broker, this book is sort of a life-shaping book. It cost $23

I also needed to buy some car fresheners from bath and body works because the ones from Yankee Candle don’t work haha  $15

I took an uber to brunch to meet up with friends $15

While the gorgeous NYC view may have been a little expensive, it was worth it because brunch was great $50

After walking around a bit in Hoboken, I took the light rail home cuz I wasn’t feeling on spending another 15 on uber $2.25

  • Day Total: $105.25
Day Two: 

Mondays are one of the two days that I have classes for grad school so outings on a day like this are very rare. 

I began my day by having breakfast and then logging into work. I’ll usually bing around the day and avoid lunch. After work, my day was pretty relaxed. There was nothing crazy happening and I just relaxed at home, scrolling on social media, had dinner with my parents, and got ready for class. 

When class finishes at 9 p.m. I usually try to take a look at my schedule for the next day so I know what to expect and can knock out what I need to get done. 

  • Day Total: $0
Day Three: 

I drove into NYC at 8 a.m. because I needed to go pick something up. EZ Pass $17

But there was no way I’d go anywhere that early without coffee and donuts. So I made a stop at Dunkin $10

When I got back home, I logged onto work for the next few hours.

Then later I had to catch up on some homework assignments. The trimester is ending in two weeks so I have project after project to submit. 

My mom cooked dinner when she finished with work and then the rest of the day was spent relaxing with the fam and watching Netflix. 

  • Day Total: $27
Day Four: 

As it has been a month since I started this internship, my workload continues to increase as I become more familiar with the database and have an understanding of my tasks. 

Since my company is French-American, one of my managers is currently located in France, so when I start my day, she’s usually finishing hers. I usually have to be up early to regroup with her for the day. This day I was getting trained on a new task and it honestly felt overwhelming but I’m confident that once I adjust I’ll feel differently.

After work this day, I pretty much just helped my mom clean around the house, then facetimed my friends and planned some outings. I also tried to start reading a new book I had just bought. 

In the evening, I had class from 6-9 p.m. so after dinner I made some coffee and had to prep for class and be ready and presentable. 

When the class finished I literally just shut my laptop and went into the living room to watch Netflix. Being on a screen for a long time gets to me. 

  • Day Total: $0

Day Five: 

After she finished work, my mom and I wanted to go out. My dad was still at work but my mom just wanted to escape the house for a while so we just went driving around Edgewater and walked around the promenade. 

I kept on bragging to one of my friends about how I love my Nespresso machine so I got her hooked and she went and bought it. So I wanted to get her coffee mugs to use with it, but I made sure to take some time finding ones that she would like $10

After our drive, my mom and I came back home and she cooked dinner. Following dinner, the evening passed casually. I cleaned around my room, planned for the next day, called my friends, and had a chill evening — the usual. 

  • Day Total: $10
Day Six: 

For the past three months, I started going running. It brings me some peace of mind after being stuck inside all day. Since the weather was nice today, when I got out of work around 1:30 in the afternoon, I texted my friend to see if she wanted me to pick her up to go out for a run. 

We usually go for runs in Weehawken because what’s a better view than running next to NYC.

Two hours later, I dropped her off back home and headed back to my house. 

Luckily, since it was Friday, I didn’t have to worry about prepping much for the next day so after my shower I literally did nothing. It was beautiful. 

  • Day Total: $0 
Day Seven: 

This day I planned to meet up with some friends which I haven’t seen since this summer and we went shopping.

While out I found this pair of shorts that I wanted for running $25

I also bought Argan oil shampoo because it smelled really good haha $6

Then I found this leather jacket that I fell in love with. It fit perfectly and made me look like a biker $300

Afterward, we went for a bite to eat at a Greek restaurant $20

On the way back home, I had to make a stop at Dunkin for coffee $4

  • Day Total: $355

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

Yes and no; pre-pandemic I would always be out. I spent weekends in NYC having a great time, shopping, eating, and partying. Of course, the pandemic has prevented me from a lot of things. But little by little as things begin to reopen, I’m more comfortable doing more. There are still limitations. Currently having no income is another factor that encourages me to be more cautious of my spending. Truly, most of my money goes to dining out with my best friend. This past year has given me time to reflect on my spending and make necessary changes to how I look at my finances. 

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

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