Career & Money

Power Greens and Too Many Sales: The Money Diary of an Accidental Icon

money diary lynn slater man repeller

In this edition of MR Money Diaries, Lyn Slater, a professor of social work and a fashion blogger, tracks her spending for a week. You may know her on Instagram as The Accidental Icon.

I am a professor but started a fashion blog four years ago because I was feeling bored with academia and wanted to try something new. I was a social worker before that — still am — and have had to be, at times, very creative in order to remain living in NYC.

My parents came from families that represented both ends of the economic spectrum and I am somewhat nervous about recording my expenses this week as I fear my spending will reflect the two proverbial poles of my DNA: extravagant and frugal (although some of my financial mood swings can be blamed on my being a Gemini). The fact that I have and use a debit card complicates matters further, as do all the emails from my favorite shopping haunts advertising “75% off designer” sales creating massive temptation. The frugal girl in me says, “What a bargain! You don’t want to regret not getting that The Row bag at such a discounted price!” while the extravagant, luxury girl in me says, “No, put that money towards getting new spring looks from the runway at full price!” I know that at some point I will just run off to Beacon’s Closet, which I did — the very first day I started my Money Diary.

This is the first week that the fashion world wakes up after the holidays and the week that my spring semester begins, which means I am teaching two online courses and am thinking about future content and looks. I spend a lot of time working at The Wing — especially on Sunday, because it is quiet and I can set myself up for the week ahead.

The first money I spend each day is always at my neighborhood bakery and coffee shop, Frenchy’s. It opened a few months ago and is owned by the most wonderful young French couple — bakers. The staff they have hired are just as fabulous as they are and includes the most optimistic young man I have ever encountered in my life.

I head to the subway, latte in hand, where I put $40 on my MetroCard and get points for swiping in someone I know from my neighborhood who needs to go to work. I arrive at The Wing having deferred breakfast so I could get my favorite overnight oats there at The Perch. Coffee is free as is water and fruit — a lovely perk.

I check five items off my to-do list and then feel like I can go out to find some things I need for photo shoots — I love looking at clothes so this is a reward for having gotten things done. I find myself at my favorite Beacon’s Closet (the one in Manhattan) and find a butter-soft tobacco-colored leather shirt/jacket that will work perfectly for my upcoming shoots. I am very excited right now.

Last stop is at my local grocery store to pick up fruit, yogurt, seltzer and almond milk — breakfast staples dictated by an anti-inflammatory diet for the week ahead.

Today I am working from home. I developed an online course and am a faculty mentor so I am fielding emails from anxious adjuncts and students and have no time to go out. I do, however, manage to find the perfect pair of Nike metallic rose gold sneakers which I need for an upcoming look. They are on sale at and need them to get here fast — expedited shipping it is!

I need a break so I decide to go to Frenchy’s and work there for a couple of hours where I eventually have not one but two lattes — one skim, one matcha. Then I walk 20 blocks to the nearest Barnes & Noble for some exercise and inspiration and find a book on editorial design (digital and print) after looking at a random bunch of magazines.

Today I got a call that my new prescription sunglasses were in. Sunglasses, big earrings and a bold lip are my signatures, and for an item this essential to my image I go a bit extravagant. I usually get all of my prescription glasses at Anne et Valentin as I love the selection, plus not many people have what I end up getting and they do an amazing job with my incredibly horrifying prescription. Not to mention that most people who work there have French accents and I love that.

Also went to a dental appointment for a cleaning before paying my Amex bill (which featured travel expenses from a trip taken as part of my academic life, meaning I had to set up and pay for all travel in order to get reimbursed months later) and other monthly subscriptions.

Today I took the subway to The Wing (after stopping at Frenchy’s for a latte) because I wanted to devote the entire day to reading, commenting on and grading assignments for the two online courses I am teaching before teaching my first live sessions tomorrow. I buckled down for a few hours, then had a working lunch of leafy greens.

Upon leaving The Wing I decided to refill my MetroCard (so I don’t unexpectedly run out) before stopping at the local grocery store for power greens, apples, more seltzer, turkey breast, chia seeds, lentils, barley, super skim milk, oats and pumpkin seeds. There’s that diet again.

Today I worked from home and had my first live online class — it went perfectly. I celebrated by not resisting the 75% off emails in my inbox and got a Joseph trench coat on sale from Net-a-Porter. I also ran out and got a latte in between classes and business calls.

The internet on my new iPhone XS and MiFi has been acting very unreliable for the last couple of weeks. My attempt to resolve online was unsuccessful, so I decided to go directly to the source: the Verizon store. Ended up upgrading my plan (of course) so that my online classes and life run smoothly. I can’t afford unreliable internet so the cost today (and per month moving forward!) is $40.

Annoyed, I decided to go home and clean my house to burn off steam. I stopped at the drugstore to get cleaning supplies, but not before getting a latte. Later, because I had a terrible neck ache (either from the internet issue or because I am constantly slumped over a laptop), I decided to buy a laptop stand that encourages good posture. I spend too much time online not to justify this purchase.

Got up early today as I wanted to go up to Westchester and visit my mother. I stopped at Barnes & Noble to get her some large print books, crosswords and chocolates, then took the subway to Grand Central so I could catch the MetroNorth, plus took a cab to her home and back.

I went out and did some shooting today followed by — of course — a latte at Frenchy’s. I also prepared for another shoot by getting a haircut with my amazing stylist Jun before ending this week at the grocery store again for my weekly yogurt, berries, almond milk and seltzer. I added a dark chocolate bar this time.

It’s the end of the week and here’s what I’ve observed:

+ I drink way too many lattes.
+ I save a lot of money by eating most of my meals at home thanks to my anti-inflammatory diet (except when cheating with lattes)
+ I save a lot of money by walking and taking the subway rather than Ubering
+ My hypothesis about financial mood swings is correct
+ My hypothesis about debit cards is correct
+ Despite really trying, I can’t resist a perceived bargain
+ I can justify unnecessary purchases by saying “I need it for a shoot”

In reviewing my review for Money Diaries I see a few positive takeaways: My spending reveals that I am eating well, getting exercise and tending to my dental and eye health. My Ph.D. was a good investment as I am all about proving and disproving hypotheses. I realized that because I am a fashion blogger now buying clothes and accessories are legitimate business expenses, and that I am a good daughter and committed professor. Can it really be possible that I have arrived at a point in my life where I can’t find something to feel guilty about?

Feature photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi

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