How a Recession Changes Weekly Spending

A grad student compares her habits to a year ago.

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About a year ago, Veronica, a grad student in Brooklyn, tracked her spending over 5 days to explore where exactly her money was going. Now, she's done it again. We wanted to know: How does a recession affect the spending habits of a 25-year-old about to finish her grad school program? It turns out her frugal habits haven't changed much, and she took advantage of several gift cards she had received over the holidays. Most of her money went towards food, much of which was eaten at home -- a surefire way to reduce weekly expenditures. (Also helpful: A generous boyfriend.)


  • 1:00 PM: $5.70 CVS: birthday card and Gatorade (it was around 90 degrees out and I was hot and thirsty)
    • 10:00 PM: $33.05 Rachel’s Taqueria: 1 beef burrito (that provided ample leftovers), 2 pina coladas (see the aforementioned 90 degree weather), 1 la bamba, tax and tip (My friend and I needed to vent about upcoming graduation, loan repayment, etc.)
    • Sunday

      • 1:00 PM: $15.01 Key Food: Gallon of milk, gallon of Arizona iced tea, napkins, bag of baby carrots, box of cereal, 2 roma tomatoes (I made a list of what I needed and stuck to it for the most part, the iced tea was the only impulse item)
        • 4:00 PM: $19.80 Associated Supermarkets: 4-pack of chicken breasts, 8-pack of chicken legs, bag of baby carrots, 2 cucumbers, bag of romaine hearts (Boyfriend called, said he was having a BBQ could I pick some things up since he was still trying to finish bottling beer. He paid me back.) 
          • 4:10 PM: $15.70 Red, White, and Bubbly: Bottle of NY Riesling to bring over.
          • Monday

            • 11:45 AM: $2.95 Dunkin Donuts: Medium Iced Tea (I have a gift card, so while I spent 2.95 it wasn’t 2.95 in real money)
            • Tuesday

              • 1:30 PM: $2.40 Starbucks: Venti Iced Tea (Paid for with gift card)
              • Wednesday

                • 11:30 AM: $2.10 Starbucks: Grande Iced Passionfruit Tea (paid for with gift card) 10:00 PM: $78.02 Blue Ribbon Brooklyn: 2 prix fixe meals (23 dollars each), 2 glasses of beer (7 dollars each) + tax + tip (I didn’t have cash for the tip so my boyfriend gave me the cash for the meal (65.02) and I charged the meal + tip to my card. I actually paid 13.00 of my own money.)
                • Total amount spent: $174.73, minus gift card payments ($7.45) and amount reimbursed by boyfriend ($84.82)

                  Net amount spent: $82.46