A Week In Atlanta, GA, On An $11,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a full-time student who works in the restaurant industry and makes $11,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on car air freshener.

Editor's Note: This diary has been updated since it was originally posted.

Occupation: Full-Time Student & Server
Industry: Restaurant
Age: 21
Location: Atlanta, GA
Salary: $11,000
Paycheck (Every week): ~$220

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $0. I live at home with my mom and siblings.
Loan Payments: $50. I am still in school, but I pay this every month so there is less interest by the time I graduate.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Phone: $70
Apple Storage: $0.99
Spotify & Hulu: $4.99
Personal Trainer: $280
Therapist: $40/session, usually every week but it depends
Gas: $200. I drive often for school and work.
Savings: $25. I have a good amount of savings from my summer internship so I don't stress myself about taking some from each check.

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up to get PJ (the boy I nanny) to school. I'm out the door by 7:15. I have a lot of errands to run today so I mentally prepare for what's ahead. After I drop PJ off, I head to get my oil changed. I've been putting it off for a while, but finally decide to get it done since I'm taking a mini-road trip next week. It's $7 off since I get there before 10. $54.89

9 a.m. — I rush home to register for my last semester of undergrad and get all the classes I want. Yay! Afterwards, I head out to go grocery shopping but first make a stop at Chick-fil-A ($2.79) and fill up my gas tank ($41.82). $44.61

9:45 a.m. — I haven't been to Trader Joe's since I lived in New York for my internship, but I'm reminded of how much I love it again today. Something about TJ makes a girl happy. I get everything I need for meal prep this week: spring mix, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, apples, grapes, chicken sausage, pasta, marinara sauce, thyme, pot stickers, and a bottle of pinot grigio for a treat ($41.72). I also run to Kroger for sliced turkey, ground turkey, chicken breasts, and a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette. I start to stress out because I'm running late for my therapy appointment in Buckhead and it's pouring, meaning traffic will be annoying ($17.54). $59.26

11:15 a.m. — I get to therapy 15 minutes late because I had to drop off my groceries at home, but my therapist is understanding. I've missed the past two weeks because I've been so busy, and today was much-needed, and refreshing. Unfortunately, I have to pay for the past couple of sessions but I put it on my credit card ($120). I also pay for parking on the way out ($3). $123

12:45 p.m. — I finally get home and can start meal prepping. I put on an episode of Younger (new fave!) and begin.

3 p.m. — I change into my gym clothes and head over to my personal trainer. After my workout, it's time to pick up PJ. I take him home to get him ready for swim lessons. His mom is out of town and I'm taking on more roles this week with him.

8 p.m. — PJ's mom texts me to grab pumpkins for him to decorate at school. She'll add the costs to my check at the end of the week. ($3 expensed) I finally get home for the night and finish cooking. I don't finish until 10:30, and am already on my third glass of wine. Oops. I FaceTime my BFF and we talk about our upcoming trip to the mountains. I fall asleep around midnight, dreading my 6 a.m. workout.

Daily Total: $281.76

Day Two

6:55 a.m. — I wake up angry at myself for oversleeping and am unusually tired, probably because of all the wine. After I get back home from picking up PJ and taking him to school, I decide to skip my 9:30 a.m. class and take a nap until 10.

12:30 p.m. — LOL. I overslept again and won't be going to the gym today. I get in the shower and get dressed for class, packing clothes for my sorority's initiation ceremony tonight. I eat one of the salads I prepped and decide to steal salad dressing from work, since I'm not a fan of this one. I leave the house around 1:45 to make sure I get to class on time.

3:45 p.m. — My advertising class was uneventful as usual, and I decide to skip my 4:30 class to do homework in the library. Its two and a half hours long and I can't stand to listen to my boring professor today, plus a friend tells me that she will sign my name so that I can get points for attendance. During my study break, I buy The Girlboss Workbook on Amazon Prime. $11.20

7 p.m. — Tonight is my sorority's initiation ceremony. Even though I went alum in May, I go to celebrate my great-grand little's initiation. After the ceremony is over, we decide to celebrate with a “family dinner.” I hate that I'm going to spend money after going grocery shopping, but we've had this planned for weeks. The Cuban restaurant we wanted to go to is closed so we go to Chili's. The food is bad and the service is even worse; never again. $18.22

10:30 p.m. — I leave the restaurant and stop by PJ's house to check on him and his sister. Their mom is out of town and she wants to make sure everything is okay in the house. After, I go back home and start to prepare for tomorrow. I get in bed and toss around because I napped so much today, but finally doze off around 2 a.m.

Daily Total: $29.42

Day Three

7 a.m. — Up to pick up PJ. It takes me longer than usual and now it's time to get ready for my serving shift at work (a.k.a. the pizza prison) at 10 a.m. I eat a breakfast of sliced turkey and grapes.

2 p.m. — I am cut from work and decide to order a salad so that I won't be too full by the time I work out. It was a pretty good morning shift, and I get half off anyways. $3.10

4 p.m. — I head to the gym for a cardio session and my trainer scolds me for skipping yesterday. When I'm finished, I rush to get PJ from school, and his mom texts me to get dinner for him and his sister. I stop at Wendy's and Zaxby's on the way back; she'll pay me back with my paycheck. ($13.45, expensed)

6:15 p.m. — I stop at the gas station to vacuum my car ($2) and get a car air freshener ($2). $4.00

6:45 p.m. — Home and it's time for dinner: chicken with onions and peppers, broccoli, and roasted potatoes. My little sister made brownies so of course I take one of those, too. My mom washes my hair and I watch 90 Day Fiancé while she styles it. I go to bed when she finishes around 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $7.10

Day Four

12:30 p.m. — Once again, I wake up late and miss my 9:30 class, but I'll make up for it by going to one of my professor's other sections so it doesn't affect my grade. I pack lunch, dinner, and snacks for the day since my last class doesn't let out until 9:45 p.m., and am out the door by 1:40.

3:45 p.m. — Finished with my 2:30 class where I just learned that we have an exam on Tuesday. Ugh. I head to the café to heat up my pasta for lunch and start on homework.

7 p.m. — Still doing the same homework, and still hungry even after the pasta and snacks. I heat up my dinner (same as last night) and then go to class.

8:50 p.m. — My professor lets us out early so I get to go home! When I settle in, I immediately go to finish the homework I started earlier. I don't finish until 1 a.m., but am very relieved after I do so. I organize my agenda and prepare for the gym tomorrow. I am glad PJ's mom doesn't need me tomorrow morning so I can sleep in an extra hour before going to the gym. I doze off around 2 a.m.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Up and ready for my 8 a.m. gym session. I need to make it quick since I picked up a shift at work. When I am back from the gym, I grab an apple before changing into my work clothes.

2:30 p.m. — I am cut from work and head home. I eat lunch and start to watch a movie called Chloe on Netflix that my BFF recommended.

6 p.m. — My aunt calls to tell me she's leaving soon for the Georgia vs. Florida game. She asks if I want to dog sit or come with. I decide to tag along for the game since I don't have any plans this weekend.

7:45 p.m. — I stop at Chick-fil-A before hitting the road to Jacksonville. It's about a five-hour drive, and I plan on doing homework the entire way. $6.53

10 p.m. — We stop at a gas station. I grab Kettle chips and water. $4.23

1:30 a.m. — We finally get to the hotel and I pass out.

Daily Total: $10.76

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I am woken up by my aunt rushing us to get ready for the tailgate. I get ready and then we run to the mall to buy sneakers for my little cousin, who only brought slippers. I stop by Dunkin' in front of the hotel. $3.22

1:30 p.m. — We get to the stadium and I am shocked by the number of people there! I've never been into football, but it's nice to see so many people bonding over the sport. We get to our tent and I immediately make myself a drink and grab a plate. My trainer would not be happy with my eating habits today.

7:30 p.m. — Georgia won; go dawgs! We pack up our tent and go to a house by the beach where one of my aunt's friends lives. We continue to eat and drink, and then all the “adults” decide to hit the bars. I'm invited but I decide to stay at the house and watch Black-ish.

1 a.m. — We get back to the hotel and I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $3.22

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — One of my mom's friends who also went to the tailgate is driving me home; she calls to say I need to be ready in 30. When she arrives, we go to Dunkin' before getting on the road. $5.76

3 p.m. — I sleep the entire ride home. I have two hours before I have to work the dinner shift at the pizza prison. I eat and do a bit of homework.

4:20 p.m. — Head to the gas station to fill up for the week and then head to Buckhead. $43.86

10:30 p.m. — I ended up having to close at work, and it was shitty shift. I only walked out with $40 after buying dinner and tipping out. I decide to pick up a shift tomorrow morning since I could use the money for the cabin next weekend. I head home and unpack from this weekend, before getting ready for bed and mentally preparing for the upcoming school week.

Daily Total: $49.62

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