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: Operations Specialist

Industry: Media

Age: 22

Location: Jersey City

Paycheck Amount (and how often): $460.74 weekly from my full-time job and $374.76 biweekly from my part-time job

Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses/Subscriptions

Apple Music: $4.99

Rent: N/A I still live with my aunt/parents’ house

Netflix: Free with phone plan, thanks T-Mobile 🙂

CrossFit Membership: Usually $65 per week but when the weather is warm, I use the pool near my house for free and I can save a lot of money by doing that. But now that Fall weather is coming up and pool season has already ended, I am trying to work out on my own by doing some home workouts and going for a run outside. When I feel the need to go back to CrossFit training I will eventually have to pay for a membership again.

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

Yes. My parents always expected me to attend higher education and I did. I finished my Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees. For my Bachelor’s degree, I earned two scholarships. One is from swimming and the other is what the school offered me from going to a Catholic high school. I was not eligible for financial aid until my Junior year. 

Then I held a position as a Graduate Assistant for the athletics department at Saint Peter’s University where they paid for my Master’s degree classes for the fall, winter, and spring classes only. I took two summer classes and the Athletics department did not cover them so my dad covered my tuition.

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

Yes, growing up I did worry about money. There were a couple of conversations about money in my household. Most of the discussion that comes up is we have to save money since it will be useful in the future.

From what I remember, my family members mention buying something that is necessary. As I’ve grown up I’ve become conscious about saving up money. 

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

I don’t think I can manage how to deal with my finances yet. I still live with my parents and I am not paying rent. The only responsibility that I have so far is to watch out for my guinea pigs that I adopted during quarantine. I ensure that I use my money when it comes to my pet’s expenses but my parents help me out somehow. There are times when they will buy vegetables for my guinea pigs using their money. 

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

Yes, I have a savings account. I believe I opened it in 2015 when I was an upcoming senior in high school. 

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

My first job was being a lifeguard. What prompted me to begin working was when I had my employment authorization card and I was finally able to work. I like the idea of earning money that I worked hard for and spending it on something that I like to buy.

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

I don’t think I am fully responsible for myself yet since I still live with my parents and I still use their money whenever I am buying food, shopping, going on trips, etc.

Whenever I buy vegetables, pellets, hay, and treats for my guinea pigs I use my own money. Not to mention, when I go out to clubs every once in a while, I use my own money to pay for drinks too.

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

I don’t think so, as far as I know.

Spending (Monday-Sunday)

Day One:

I woke up very early to take my dog outside for a walk around 6:30 a.m. By the time I get home, I change into my bathing suit and head out to use the pool near my house. The pool hours are from 7 am-9 am but I start working from home at 9 am. By the time that I set the alarm at 8:20 am I rushed to get home as soon as possible so that I would have enough time to shower and cook my breakfast. I would manage to refill hay for my guinea pig’s hay rack and feed them with some vegetables.

On my lunch break, I prepared my own food at home. I would slice a couple of vegetables or give some treats to my guinea pigs. They keep wheeking for food.

After work, I take my dog outside again for a walk. Since I was stuck inside of the house during the day, I like to go outside, disconnect, and just enjoy the nice weather. 

When I get home, I do some cleaning for my guinea pig’s cages. Then, I give them another set of vegetables for their dinner.

When my mom was on her way back home from work, she was able to buy me a cheeseburger from 5 Guys. $5.69

Daily Total: $5.69


Day Two: 

Yesterday is pretty much the standard for my weekdays and today is no different except when my mom was on her way back home from work, she was able to buy me shrimp tacos today. $10.15

Daily Total: $10.15

Day Three:

The same routine, my mom picks up shrimp tacos (again) but this time I only have two tacos. $6.77

Daily Total: $6.77

Day Four:

Once again my day is the same but I cooked dinner at home so it didn’t cost me anything. 🙂

Daily Total: $0

Day Five:

Today I the last day for the pool so I take full advantage of it as I complete my morning routine.

After a full day at work when I get home, I do some cleaning for my guinea pig’s cages. Then, I give them another set of vegetables for their dinner.

It is rare that my mom has off from work on a Friday. We both took advantage of her free time to go grocery shopping. My expenses for grocery shopping were $61.26 and I bought 3 Coco milk teas for $15.77 that I like to store in the fridge throughout the week so that I don’t have to keep on heading out just to buy a drink. 

Afterward, we went to a pet store to make some exchanges, buy treats for my guinea pigs, and dog treats that I willingly give to the dogs at the apartment building where I have my part-time job.

I was supposed to meet up with a friend at Porta but it took her a while to arrive there and she was not communicating well with me and I could not wait any longer so I left Grove street and ordered pizza from Dominos. I’m glad I was able to use some coupons for it and I only had to pay $8.52 for a large pizza.

I think it was a better option that I ordered pizza from Dominos than having dinner at Porta. I probably have to spend more money on food including tips too.

I stayed in for the rest of the night and I enjoyed my pizza.

Daily Total: $85.55

Day Six: I woke up at 6 am to get ready for work. I cooked breakfast, I also prepared food to bring with me for lunch, I ate, and then I brushed my teeth before heading out.

I start working for my part-time job at 7 am.

Every time there is a dog that stops by in the lobby who wants to get pets and treats from me, I tell them to sit and give their paws to me. Then, I give them treats. 

I ended work at 3 pm. 

I decided to hang out with the lifeguard at the pool just to keep her company. 

At the same time, I was also just waiting to see if the longer I stay, my mom might be able to give me a ride home. I refuse to get an Uber to go home because it will cost more money. However, she is still not done with what she was up to so I had to get myself an Uber and spent $10.91 for it.

By the time I got home, I was relaxing and grabbed a quick bite of pizza that I bought from yesterday. Then I went to church from 5-6 pm

Since it was a beautiful day outside, I took my 2 dogs out for a walk.

I tried to cook Cajun Salmon and I was not satisfied with the way it tastes. 

I decided to give my guinea pigs floor time so I switched them from their cages and then into my room where I laid out all the pads and bedding and they can roam around with more space. 

At 11 pm, I had a spontaneous plan with a friend who lives very close to my house. I met up with her and we were walking around the neighborhood and we were just catching up. I did not get home until 1:15ish am.

Daily Total: $10.91

Day Seven: 

Just like yesterday, I woke up at 6 am to get ready for work, cooked breakfast, and prepared food to bring with me for lunch.

My mom was not able to give me a ride again so I ordered Uber. $9.99

My Uber driver was very nice. I enjoyed my ride since I was able to have a chat with the Uber driver and we were both learning something new about each other. We were just talking about our cultures and the college that we both went to.

I tried to cook Cajun Salmon again but I am not satisfied with the way it tastes.

I Facetimed a friend of mine who is in the Philippines around midnight and we were just catching up with how our lives have been lately. I did not get to bed until 1:30 am.

Daily Total: $9.99

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

No, this is not what a typical week of spending looks like for me. My mom usually picks me up after I get out of work from my part-time job but this weekend she was not able to. I had to get an Uber to go home.

Also this week, I was challenging myself to make my own meals at home even if I suck at cooking. I was not able to order takeout food for dinner for 3 days this week, which I usually do. But I am trying and challenging myself to teach myself how to cook better so that I can order less food outside. That way, I can save more money and it is much healthier.

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

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