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. 


Occupation: Teacher/Digital Consultant

Industry: Education/Communication & Media 

Age: 23

Location: West New York, NJ

Salary: $22,000

Net Worth: The $700 I have in my savings 🙂

Debt: $6,000 (animal hospital bill)

Paycheck Amount: $746 biweekly / $300 monthly

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Monthly Expenses/Subscriptions

Rent: $200 (I help with rent, but I wish actual rent was this low)

Groceries: $200 I’ll occasionally contribute to groceries

Apple storage:  $2.99 

Spotify: $10.65

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

Yes! Attending college was a huge deal for me. My family began working at very young ages so they never got the opportunity to receive an education. Growing up, they always pushed me to focus on my studies. I almost dropped out of college after my first year because my financial aid fell through, but luckily I was able to appeal for more aid for my remaining three years. I was able to pay for college with my financial aid and my brother’s college savings (sorry bro.)

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

Sort of. My parents never had conversations about money problems with us because they never wanted us to worry, but I could tell when we had rough months. But thank God for my mom, she always made sure we bounced back even when we were close to losing our house.

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

It wasn’t until I was 16/17 years old when I got my first job that I was able to actually manage my money. I’ve always had fun with my money, but I’ve also been smart about it. Both my parents taught me about finances, but especially my mom.

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

Yes, I opened one two months ago, but before then I’d save with a piggy bank and through my mom’s savings account. 

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

I was a summer camp counselor and I was entering my senior year of high school so obviously college was just around the corner and I knew I had to have some money saved up for books at the very least. 

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

I still haven’t become fully responsible for myself. Sometimes I worry about money because I want to move out soon and want to become fully independent, but you just gotta take it one step at a time.

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

My home is my financial safety net. I haven’t inherited money, but my father has a life insurance policy that would be divided between my siblings and me. 

Spending (Sunday-Saturday)

Day One:

I spent the entire day locked inside my house so I didn’t waste a dime.

  • Daily Total: $0
Day Two: 

I was craving a mango smoothie, so I walked to the supermarket and bought tons of frozen fruits to make different flavored smoothies for my family and me throughout the week. $17.55

  • Daily Total: $17.55
Day Three: 

I had to pay my credit card bill. $306.95

  • Daily Total: $306.95
Day Four: 

See from this day and beyond is where things went downhill! I constantly misplace my keys and wallet so I bought a lanyard and elastic wallet to go with it. I could have stopped there, but no. I came across a cute bag so I added it to my cart ~ no regrets. $65.04 

  • Daily Total: $65.04
Day Five: 

I haven’t worn actual makeup in a while, but lately, I’ve started glamming up a bit. I realized I had a ton of old makeup so I decluttered and made room to buy some new products. $39.45  

  • Day Total: $39.45
Day Six: 

I had Friday off so I ran some errands this day. I treated myself to breakfast, some mangu to be specific — delicious! $8.32 

While out, I bought bagels & bread for my family. $15.75

Paid for an Uber back home. $12.99 

  • Day Total: $37.06 
Day Seven: 

I had more errands to run, which meant more outside breakfast, but this time I was paying for three people. $21.09 

I went to the mall with my cousins and came across Kung Fu Tea – so I obviously bought myself a drink. $6.13

Bought two cute bralettes, luckily I had coupons so I got two for the price of one! Score!!! $30

I needed a new pair of jeans and leggings so I picked some up at Aerie & American Eagle. $111.88

In the last store of the day, I bought a sports bra and biker shorts (because you can’t have enough of those); I had a member credit so I spent a lot less than expected. $2.62

  • Day Total: $171.72

Graphic by Alexis Morales

Is this what a typical week of spending looks like for you?
Yes and no, sometimes lol. I obviously don’t pay my credit card bill every week and that was a huge chunk of what totaled up this week’s expenses. I have my weeks where I won’t spend a penny and then I have my weeks where I decide to spoil myself and buy the things I want. Obviously, I’m blessed to have the ability to spend money especially with everything considering, but I make it a habit to set aside savings money and contribute to household expenses when needed. It’s all about balance. 

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

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