Food, Coffee, More Coffee: Inside the Spending Habits of a Working Student

I don’t think my spending habits are too bad, but I do have my slip-ups. This year, I’ve been pretty good at keeping my spending in check, but we’ll see how that progresses/devolves as the holidays draw closer. I do know that, day to day, most of my money goes to food and coffee. Although I often eat at home — I love making breakfast and try to have either lunch or dinner at home every day too — it still has a way of adding up.

Also, I guess I should mention that I work at Man Repeller AND am finishing up my BFA at the School of Visual Arts, which means I require a good amount of coffee just to keep me alive and kickin’. It also means I’m trying to balance a budget that accommodates both work and school. On most Thursdays and Fridays, I’m home finishing up assignments, cleaning and generally relaxing (which helps me save), but this week was different, and my budget took a hit as a result. You’ll see what I mean. With that, here’s what I spent my money on this week.

Today, my friend Maria and I are taking a day trip to Storm King Art Center, wahoo! Before I leave, I run downstairs and redeem my free, medium-sized beverage from Think Coffee thanks to my loyalty points. (Funny story: My loyalty account is for some reason linked to my cousin’s phone number, so she gets all my receipts. Hi Jaime! She likes knowing how my week is going. Large coffees = rough week.)

There’s only one food option at Storm King so I get an above-average vegetarian chili and a decent chocolate chip cookie. After our shenanigans upstate, we part ways and I come home and make pasta for dinner because wowee, I am so hungry. At 9:45 p.m. I run (okay, fine, walk) to CVS and buy Tide Pods because I already committed to doing my laundry and, surprise!, had no detergent left.

I usually walk to work, but this morning I wake up late and can’t figure out what to wear (UGH) so I have to take the subway. I put $20 on my Metrocard for this trip plus future use. I study photography and primarily use film for my personal work, so I drop off a roll of film that I took yesterday at Storm King. Thankfully, I save a couple of dollars by just getting it processed and scanning it myself at school. My buddies at Two Hands bless my wallet and give me a discount on my coffee and don’t charge me for my 3 p.m. orange juice. I get home from work pretty late so I spend the rest of my night watching YouTube videos and eating leftover pasta. SO fun.

Another exciting day at work! Pretty sure I was still tired from my day trip to Storm King and finishing up all the props for the MR GIFT GUIDE (!!!!) so I had two coffees today. This is why I am good friends with the people at Two Hands: a minimum of two visits a day builds a strong relationship. Then, Madi tricks me into getting lunch with her at Sweetgreen, but then bails to By Chloe, so I am stuck eating yet another Harvest Bowl alone (add avocado, no cheese, swap almonds for pecans, tysm). After work, I have one too many alcoholic beverages and plenty of mini snacks at the MR Ralph Lauren event. I mistakenly think that means I’m set on dinner but, 30 minutes after, when I start scanning film at school, I feel hungry again.

When I finally get home, I whip up a gourmet meal (toast and butter) for dinner and then realize that I left MY ONLY USB CABLE in the office and so, while my phone is slowly dying , I decide to get one on Amazon. (Another funny story: I thought, “Hey, maybe I should buy an extra USB cable” while walking past the Apple store that evening on the way back from the event but didn’t buy it!)

Today the water is out on Mott St. (where the MR office is located) and so my beloved Two Hands is closed (honestly they just need to #sponsor me at this point), so I get a coffee from Cafe Grumpy instead. Good thing I have a loyalty card going there too! I also get more film processed, woohoo! I decide to go to Maman for lunch today because I just really need a sandwich. Then, Emily and I stay pretty late at work finishing up the gift guide but I still manage to make yet another bowl of pasta for dinner when I get home (I’m having a phase).

TWO HANDS IS STILL CLOSED BECAUSE THE WATER IS STILL OUT! Cafe Grumpy it is. I usually don’t work on Thursdays but we had to finish wrapping up the final gift guide shoot. I make it back home in time for some lunch before class so I whip myself up some eggs on toast and then head to school. I spend three hours talking about photographs with my thesis class and then have a nice dinner with my friends at Goemon Curry! (PSA: they have cutlery that looks like little rakes and shovels.) I head back to work for a little bit after that to finish up random bits and bobs and then come home and sleep like a baby for the next couple of hours….

….Before I wake up late for a shoot happening this morning, ACK! I didn’t have time for breakfast so I run to Irving Farm to redeem my free coffee and get a croissant. I didn’t have time for lunch before going to class so I grab a brownie and another coffee during break so my stomach stops making weird noises in class. Usually I don’t do anything on Fridays because I prefer to chill at home and eat MORE pasta but tonight is different because it’s my friend Margo’s birthday and we celebrate with beers! A friend and I have a pre-celebration dinner at Big Daddy’s which includes a very delicious veggie burger and sweet potato tots. 10/10 would recommend.

HAPPY SATURDAY! I spend the first half of the day at home cleaning my apartment and having lunch before going to Chillhouse for a manicure. Before heading in I wander around Soho and am, of course, hankering for a snack and so I, of course, go to Two Hands, because I gotta stay loyal. This is actually the first manicure I’ve ever gotten in New York since moving here 3.5 years ago. It was a very long and stressful week so I decided to treat myself to some pretty nails since I don’t think I will have to paint anything in awhile (fingers crossed) (don’t look at me Emily).

While in the area, I pop over to Top Hat and buy some presents for friends and myself because Christmas is near! And you know who likes gifts? Me. Also my friends! But mostly me. On my way home I make more exciting purchases at the supermarket. Grocery haul you say? NO PROBLEMO! I got bananas, sparkling water, pasta sauce, pasta and a bottle of blood orange juice and kombucha.

BAM! DONE! Money spent! Honestly this week has just been a documentation of how many times I go to Two Hands in a week and also how much coffee I consume, which isn’t usually this much, I promise. I actually don’t feel that bad about the money I spent because I had a great week and I did a couple of special things like go to Storm King and get a manicure, but I do want to keep working on my spending habits.

For now I’m just gonna sit back, relax, and wait for my mother to make a comment about how much caffeine I drink.

Photo by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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