A Week In Charleston, SC, On A $48,000 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.

This week: a librarian who makes $48,000 a year and spends it on Sperry boat shoes and fuchsia heels from White House Black Market.

Occupation: Librarian Faculty
Industry: Education
Age: 29
Location: Charleston, SC
Salary: $48,000
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,300

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $857 for mortgage and HOA. I live by myself.

Monthly Loan Payments
Student Loans: $250
Credit Card: ~$100
Car Payment: None.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Electric and water: ~$90
Internet: $50
Cell phone: $55
Savings: $200 each month, more if I can afford it.
Retirement: ~$340. I have a state retirement plan, so before taxes, 8.6% of each paycheck goes to retirement, and my employer contributes as well.
Health Insurance: ~$10. My insurance is offered through my job via the state. It's a savings plan — so cheap monthly, with a high deductible.
Hospital payment: $92. I'm paying off a balance from a surgery I had almost two years ago. It'll be paid off in about three months. Since there's no interest, I've been paying it off at the minimum (unless I can afford to do otherwise).
Netflix and Spotify: I mooch off of family.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm goes off, but I don't want to move. My cat jumps on the bed and snuggles with me, a thing he never normally does. I decide to bask in this love and stay in bed until my next alarm. I guess I won't be going for a run this morning.

8:30 a.m. — I don't normally drive to work, but I have yoga this evening and I know my bus won't still be running by the time it's finished. I park in a garage where I get a discount with my faculty ID, gather all my things, and head to work. This garage is better for tonight but a longer walk to the office. It's a beautiful, cool morning, so I don't mind the extra distance.

9 a.m. — At my desk, computer booted, with breakfast: a bowl of cantaloupe I purchased this weekend, a cherry pie Lara Bar (purchased in bulk, thanks to Amazon), and a cup of grapefruit juice. I munch while I check emails and organize my day.

12 p.m. — Just realized what time it is, and how hungry I am. It's been a productive, fun morning, so I'm ready to take a break. I've brought my lunch today: chicken and apple sausages with spicy brown mustard. I eat some more of my cantaloupe as well. I've been thinking about getting a desk for my condo, so I browse online for one while I eat at my desk. It's an incredibly sunny afternoon, so I don't mind sitting by my window while I live in my slightly antisocial lunch bubble.

1 p.m. — Oh man, I find a desk I love from West Elm, but I can't see myself spending $280 on a piece. I find a cheaper version for about $80, but it's easy to see the difference in quality. I may dwell on this for a while. I had to force myself to stop eating all the cantaloupe I brought, so I can have some for breakfast tomorrow. (It wasn't easy.)

4:30 p.m. — I am back at my desk after attending a couple of open lectures on campus. Feeling inspired but a little tired, so I have a few pieces of Trader Joe's extra dark chocolate I keep at my desk. They are good, but a bit too bitter for what I'm craving, so I decide to visit Starbucks instead. I reload my card on my app and get a tall chai latte with a shot of vanilla and a peanut butter cup cookie. I also finish up my word search puzzle on my desk daily calendar. $15

5:15 p.m. — I'm off to yoga. I bought a package last week that was discounted, since it's done through the college I work for. It's once a week, and today is the first day.

6:30 p.m. — Yoga is great, but makes me so aware of how much I need to start running and working out again. I get in my car and head towards home. $7

7 p.m. — I probably don't need to, but I go to Trader Joe's since it's on the way home to pick up extra food for the week. I am not that hungry, so I'll make something to bring for lunch tomorrow and have some extra goodies for later this week and next. My cat is very happy to see me when I get home, and I'm positive it's because he's eaten all of the food he gets in the morning for the day. I clean up and and throw chicken into the oven for lunch this week. $59.63

9 p.m. — One of my best friends is in the area and comes over to visit. I rent a movie for us to watch through Amazon Prime. I don't normally rent movies, but my sister-in-law's very good friend stars in and directs it, so I don't mind! $6

10:30 p.m. — My friend leaves, and oddly enough, we haven't watched any of the movie at all. It was definitely a night for cozy blankets and girl talk. It was good to see her, and my movie is good for seven days. I text my boyfriend to see what his plans are tomorrow and decide to drive to his place in the morning before work to drop off the kitty. There's no point in trying to do anything else because I'm so tired, but I start reading We Should all be Feminists, which I got months ago but haven't gotten to.

Daily Total: $87.63

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — I missed my window for a morning run, so I get my morning started by taking care of a hungry cat and then a shower. I know I have to leave around 7, so I make quick work of my getting-ready routine.

7:30 a.m. — Brought the kitty to my boyfriend's this morning; it made sense to do this since I plan on staying at his place tonight, but it was a frustrating morning of cat-wrangling and traffic. The boyfriend is still sleepy, so I decide to participate in morning snuggles instead of rushing to catch a bus.

8:30 a.m. — Park downtown and sit at my desk enjoying a repeat breakfast from yesterday: cantaloupe and a cherry pie Lara Bar. I also sneak a piece of extra-dark chocolate. Today is a busier day, so I'll spend the next 30 minutes just getting in the work-day groove.

12 p.m. — I brought the chicken that I made last night for lunch today, along with arroz con gandules that I made over the weekend. I have too much to accomplish this afternoon, so I eat lunch at my desk; again, it's a beautiful, sunny day, but I don't mind enjoying the view from my window (and having all the benefits of air conditioning).

6 p.m. — I get off work a lot later than expected, but that's the good thing with the discounted parking; it maxes out at $7 a day. I head over to my boyfriend's place so we can figure out dinner plans. $7

7:30 p.m. — The boyfriend and I go to dinner with two of our good married friends at Thai Elephant. I get the Pad See Ew (which gives me life), and we also have crab wontons. It's a really fun evening out, and my lovely partner picks up the tab for the two of us.

9:30 p.m. — Once back home, we catch up on Bob's Burgers. I notoriously fall asleep before him, so he jokes that he'll snuggle with me until I fall asleep, and then go back to reading...which is exactly what happens.

Daily Total: $7

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Boo-hiss. I forgot to charge my phone last night, so I wake up later than planned. There was no sense in scrambling for the bus, so I drive to work. I grab a tall chai latte with a shot of vanilla, and because it's feeling like one of those mornings, I also get a cheese danish. I pay with the money on my Starbucks app that I loaded earlier this week. I enjoy my breakfast at my desk and start my daily word search puzzle.

11 a.m. — I'm a little annoyed because my first gel manicure ever has chipped off my thumb after six days of wear. I run to CVS to find a similar shade to have even nails for the rest of the day. I doubt I'll go back to that salon anytime soon. Since it's CVS, all their beauty products are marked up. However, I get the Revlon shade "Coy" which is a near-perfect match. I also pick up polish remover, just in case. $9.20

12 p.m. — Lunch time! For some reason, I'm so hungry I have a headache. I decide to have chicken and rice again today for lunch. I realize I left the giant thermos of water I normally carry with me at my boyfriend's place, so I fill up a random cup at the water fountain. I also pop a few ibuprofen in case my headache isn't from hunger.

4 p.m. — Done with work for the day, so I pay for parking and head to a very fun wax appointment. So looking forward to my Brazilian. (Mostly sarcasm.) $7

5 p.m. — I was talked into buying a package at my last appointment, so I don't have to pay anything today. I do, however, leave a tip. $10

5:30 — I have some time to kill before meeting someone, so I run to Target. This is a dangerous game: I don't really need anything, but the dollar section speaks to me... I end up buying thank-you notecards, pens, and a to-do list notepad. I realize I'm super hungry, and a hot dog sounds so good, so I get one from the Target café. $7.92

6:30 p.m. — Back at my place to meet with someone who is buying a piece of furniture from me. She and her husband love the bench I'm selling, and I make $75. After they leave, I water my plants and head back to my boyfriend's. Too much driving back and forth today, but leftover Thai food is calling my name. (As is spending time with him. But mostly Thai food, at the moment.)

8 p.m. — We successfully reheat a massive amount of leftover chicken pad see ew. We eat all of it and have no regrets. It's even better the second day.

9 p.m. — I suggest we watch the movie I rented earlier this week. It ends up being okay. I'm glad to support my sis-in-law's friend, but halfway through the movie I feel super guilty making the boyfriend watch it. I know it's not his thing. The movie is actually too much to be my thing, either.

Daily Total: $34.12

Day Four

7 a.m. — Despite a rough night of not being able to sleep, I am determined to take the bus this morning, so I get ready and walk to the bus. Free ride to work this morning!

9 a.m. — A very sweet coworker brought a big-ass box of donuts from Glazed. I have one, and it gives me life.

10 a.m. — I decide to walk to a different Starbucks to redeem my stars for a free drink. Because it's totally free, I splurge and create something with the barista: a Venti coconut milk chai latte, with two shots of espresso and a shot of vanilla. I can't really taste the espresso, and I'm not sure I'm loving the coconut milk, but it's not bad and I (technically) didn't have to pay for it. (Earning stars in the Starbucks app is the only way I justify spending money at Starbucks. They've had several promotions going on, so I basically earned two free drinks within a very short period of time.)

12 p.m. — Chicken and rice again for lunch today. I'm glad this is the last helping, as I'm getting a little tired of it. (Even if it's delicious.)

4 p.m. — Done with work! I was going to head back to the boyfriend's, but a friend of mine asks to hang out after she gets off work. Since we are meeting downtown, it makes sense to just stay in the area.

4:30 p.m. — I stumble upon a boutique that is super cute and full of local and artisanal bits and bobs. I buy a candle that smells like cilantro, a few Charleston-made greeting cards, and some chocolate. $33.45

5 p.m. — I also find a place I've never been to before called Peace Pie; it's essentially a shop that sells ice cream sandwiches with pie filling. The guy is a good salesman. I leave with a super delicious chocolate and banana ice cream sandwich. $6.50

5:30 p.m. — My friend wants to look at Aldo for flats. I wear flats almost exclusively to work because walking downtown in heels can be a bit traumatic. (Cobblestones are evil.) They have a really cute pair that are on sale. My friend is a terrible influence, and I buy them. I feel a little guilty but I know they will get a ton of use. $34.48

6 p.m. — It turns out that my friend is going to the new-ish cat café, Pounce. Her friend cancelled on her, and I'm super jazzed to go! She's already paid for the admission and free drink and deems it her treat. It ends up being a lot of fun, and I text my boyfriend that I want to come home with another kitty. (I don't.)

7:30 p.m. — My friend gives me a ride back to my boyfriend's place, and the three of us decide to go out for sushi; her husband meets us at Osaka. The food is so good, and my boyfriend and I have managed to figure out the magical amount to order without us feeling like slugs for the rest of the night. He pays for the two of us.

9 p.m. — I have a headache and am feeling a bit off, so we mindlessly watch something online. I fall asleep before it's over.

Daily Total: $74.43

Day Five

10 a.m. — Saturday! Hooray! I'm up and out the door with the kitty. The boyfriend is going to his parents' for the rest of the day to help them with some projects, and then he is going off to a job the next day for work. We say our goodbyes. I'm rushing to get home because I'm selling a bookcase and need to meet with the buyer by 11.

11:15 a.m. — Bookcase sold! I've made an extra $100. I get home, realize that I still feel off from the night before, but also super hungry. I have a steak that's waiting to be cooked, and despite it feeling a bit indulgent for a pre-noon lunch, I cook it. It's delicious, and I'm in a food coma on the sofa. I know I should eat something green, but I'm just not in the mood. Instead I eat far too much coconut milk chocolate ice cream from Trader Joe's. I zone out to Forensic Files on Netflix and take an unanticipated nap.

4 p.m. — Whoops. That was a much longer nap than anticipated... I feel crummy and decide to redo my nails and drink tons of water. My gel nails lasted barely a week, so the refresh looks great. While they are drying, a good friend texts me to let me know she and her boyfriend are hanging out. I've yet to meet her beau, so I commit to come spend some time with them to get to know him.

6:30 p.m. — Hanging out with my friend and her boyfriend at her place. I feel better after chugging lots of water, so I decline when she offers me a drink. They have another party to get to, so I don't visit too long.

8 p.m. — It still feels early, so I meet up with a friend in the area. We end up going to a wine and cheese bar and have some girl time. We order a bottle of wine, hummus and pita, and bread with olive oil. We split the bill down the middle. $23.45

11:30 p.m. — So tired. My cat curls up at the foot of the bed, and I'm out within minutes.

Daily Total: $23.45

Day Six

10:30 a.m. — It's blissful to sleep in on Sunday morning. I had super crazy dreams, so I am pretty dead to the world. I have a breakfast pastry that I got from Trader Joe's earlier in the week, with a cup of tea.

11:30 a.m. — My friend from the night before is in my area running errands, so we meet up after to go shopping; she's still looking for flats, and I'm trying to find dresses to wear for work. Instead I find some cute, comfortable heels and very versatile tops from White House Black Market. I also decide to get some Sperry boat shoes since spring is here, and I'm sure more boat trips are in the future. $218.36

2:30 p.m. — Home. Hungry. I spent more than anticipated today, so I eat in. I really want a salad, but the lettuce I have appears to have gone bad. I settle on some falafel patties from Trader Joe's and cook some fresh broccoli.

8:30 p.m. — Where did my evening go? I haven't had dinner, so I munch on some blue chips and black bean hummus.

9:30 p.m. — I'm actually feeling really drained from being so inactive, so I decide to head to bed and read.

Daily Total: $218.36

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Holy cow. I slept for a long time last night, despite some incredibly wacky dreams. I decide to clean up this morning since I was a bit of a sloth yesterday. I feed the kitty and make a ginger green tea for myself. I'm debating wearing my new heels today, which really dictates my outfit since they are bright fuchsia.

8:50 a.m. — Since I'm apparently not stressing about getting ready this morning, I drive to work to make sure I get in by 9 a.m. A coworker has already commented on my shoes. I'm glad I wore them...for now.

9:15 a.m. — Breakfast includes a cherry pie Lara Bar. (Is it obvious that I live off of these? They are my favorite.)

11:30 p.m. — I decide to risk walking to Verde for lunch today. I find my stash of random stamped cards from the past few months, and I have enough to redeem my free salad! I get the Mesa Verde (light on onions and tomatoes) with the agave mustard dressing. It's my favorite.

12:30 p.m. — I grab a tall coconut milk latte from Starbucks using my app. I'll need to refill it soon, but if tracking my spending for work has shown me anything, it's that I go to Starbucks a lot. I'm helping out a different department today, so I know I'll be busy until it's time to leave for the day. (Also: Still going strong in the shoes.)

5:30 p.m. — Pay for parking and fight the traffic home. I'm feeling the shoes now. $7

6:30 p.m. — Traffic is a beast. As soon as I'm home, I kick off my heels. They weren't too bad; I've just gotten out of the habit of wearing heels all day. I put on comfy slippers and get dinner ready for the kitty and myself. I have some beef from Trader Joe's, so I warm that up in a pan, and cook up some broccoli as well. I also decide to make some coconut rice from TJ's.

8 p.m. — Wearing heels all day has made my feet ache a little, so I decide to stretch them out with a walk. I text the boyfriend while he's away. Texting is so much easier for both of us, since he can be anywhere when he's on a job and may not be able to talk.

9 p.m. — Feeling a bit refreshed and sweaty from my walk, so I jump in the shower. I decide to avoid sitting in front of the TV and crawl into bed with a book. The cat decides to join me at the foot of the bed. This is a recent change in his behavior, and I LOVE IT. Cats aren't very good for forced cuddle time, so his proximity is very welcome.

11 p.m. — I'm having a hard time falling asleep despite my eyes feeling heavy from reading. I make a cup of Sleepytime tea and do what I call "yoga breathing" in bed.

Daily Total: $7

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