A woman who says she lives rent-free in New York City, earns $25 an hour as a marketing intern, and gets an $1,100 monthly allowance from her parents and grandfather plus more than $2,000 from them to pay her rent, feels guilty calling a Lyft to go home at night and whines about paying the check at dinner.
There’s so much to unpack in this recent Money Diaries post over at Refinery 29 — the series in which women from across the country earning various levels of income write anonymously about their finances. First of all, how on earth is this author earning $25 an hour as an intern? Her salary totals $2,990 each month, in that case. In addition, she earns $100 every week or two from babysitting and receives an allowance from her family
“On top of my intern salary, my parents give me a $800/month allowance, and my grandpa also wires me $300 every month (#blessed),” she writes. #Blessed indeed. There might be other descriptions.
Here’s a list of her monthly expenses, which made me laugh out loud.
Rent: I live in a one bedroom/one den apartment. The total rent is $4,050. My share is $2,100 (my parents pay) and my roommate’s share is $1,950. (She lives in the den.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I’m still in school, and my parents pay for my education.)
Health Insurance: $0 (I’m on my parents’ plan.)
Sugared + Bronzed Pass: $40.76 (I get one Brazilian sugaring a month.)
Equinox Membership: $210
Phone Bill: $0 (I’m on my parents’ plan.)
Netflix, Spotify, Amazon: $0 (I use my parents’ accounts.)
So she lives rent free, has no other expenses, aside from a MoviePass and getting a “Brazilian sugaring” once a month in addition to her fancy gym membership. Yet her parents and grandparents give her $1,100 a month although she has no real expenses and takes home nearly $3,000 a month.
The real issue I take with her money diary post is not that she has plenty of money — in fact, more power to her — but that she’s a cheapskate to her friends. At various points at a weekend in the Hamptons with her girlfriends, she whines about not getting fully reimbursed by her other friends for the Lyft ride back to their place after a night out and is constantly complaining about how much things cost.
1:06 a.m. — Time to go home. The music gets shut down, even though the guys who are throwing it have a permit. I open Uber and see that an XL costs $76, so I freak out. Maybe I’ll wait and see if someone else can stomach calling it?
1:11 a.m. — My friends are too drunk and won’t leave, so I call it. I check Lyft, and a big car is only $33. Two girls in my car play dumb and don’t pay me. $12
If you’re living rent-free in New York City — at one point she lets it slip that her apartment building has a cobbler (#fancy) — you don’t need to worry about ordering an Uber XL for all your friends one night when you’re out. Yet feeling bad about ordering cars and apologizing for taking an Uber is something this woman does a lot.
Here she is apologizing and justifying ordering a Lyft Line to go home from a babysitting gig one night.
10:06 p.m. — I opt to take a shared Lyft because I wanted to get home quicker. I usually get a lot of guilt-ridden anxiety from choosing to take cars, but I relax once I realize the subway is only $1.78 cheaper than this ride. $4.53
Girl, stop. You’re taking in more than $4,000 a month and have zero expenses. It doesn’t matter if you take a Lyft to get home at night! Order a car and enjoy the ride knowing that you can easily afford it.
Here she is complaining about paying a $45 dinner bill in the Hamptons.
8:38 p.m. — Dinner is delicious, but the service is terrible and the food is overpriced. The edamame comes out last, and my steamed veggie dumpling appetizer is forgotten. We get individual checks because some of my friends ordered drinks and some of us got more food. My check is $45.09…I’m in shock, but swallow my pride because #HamptonsPrices. $45.09
A $45 bill at a sushi place in the Hamptons shouldn’t come as a shock. Again, it’s okay to spend money going out to dinner with your friends! But nevertheless here she is on another night out at dinner complaining about the bill, and insisting that the waiter bring them free wine because they had to wait for a table.
7:45 p.m. — The waiter tells us it’ll be a five-minute wait. Those five minutes pass, and then another 20 minutes pass, and suddenly we’ve been waiting for 45 minutes. In that time, a guy I used to sleep with shows up at the same restaurant with his squad of guy friends. The whole restaurant is mayhem. I just want some fooooood.
8:42 p.m. — We finally sit down at a lovely table outside. Z. and I order two small pizzas and a grilled calamari appetizer to share. I tell her that there’s no chance we leave without getting some free stuff. I suggest to the waiter that he brings us some wine on the house, and he does. He also brings us a panna cotta dessert with our check. $36.62
Feeling like you’re owed a free glass of wine because you had to wait for a table is so extra, I can’t even.
The anonymity Refinery 29 grants its Money Diarists makes it impossible to verify the details of this specific woman’s lifestyle. But as an avid reader of the series, I’ve noticed that many of these women, who often earn generous salaries, feel the need to apologize for spending money or feel like they need to spend column inches justifying their purchases. It’s your money, you can spend it how you want! If you feel guilty about enjoying yourself too much or being too privileged, then take the time to do something for others. Volunteer, donate money, get involved in local charities to better understand their needs — financial and otherwise. Living for only yourself can be boring –and this girl seems to be very bored all of the time because she spends half of her day at work sitting on her hands. If you’re an intern and don’t have things to do, ask for more work! If there’s none to be had, then maybe try freelancing articles on the side or taking a master class online. There are solutions to these problems.
These women often feel the need to fake frugality. They force their friends to split the Lyft fee with them or take a Lyft Line instead of a regular Lyft to save $2 or buy a $6.99 growler of cold brew coffee at Whole Foods instead of grabbing a latte at a coffee shop, all in the name of “saving money.” This is so obnoxious.
Please don’t pretend to be frugal or a penny pincher or feel the need to justify ordering a car when it’s clear that you don’t have to take the subway home late at night. It makes even less sense for these women to pretend to scrimp when they are not investing any money or doing anything with the cash they’ve amassed. The #faux-frugality is insulting to people who really do need to watch their wallets.
Here’s to more women owning their financial situations and spending (or saving) their money how they want. I hope to read Money Diaries from women who are more generous with their friends — when they can afford it.