A Week In Denver, CO, On A $63,500 Salary

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

Today: a land use planner who makes $63,500 per year, and spends some of his money this week on a Wings + Horns fleece robe.

Occupation: Land Use Planner
Industry: Municipal Government
Age: 39
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $63,500
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,606.18
Gender: Transgender FTM (closeted, pre-HRT)

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $2,461. I pay $821; my partner pays the rest.
Loan Payments: $787 to cover car loan, student loans, and credit cards.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Pension, Life Insurance, Healthcare: My monthly pension is deducted from my paycheck pre-tax. My life insurance and healthcare expenses for my high deductible plan are also auto-deducted from my paycheck.
Therapy Appointments: $240/week for co-pays. (I have to meet a $1,500 deductible each year for my healthcare plan.)
Parking: $205/month for parking downtown
Roth IRA: $200
HOA Dues: $185
Auto & Homeowner's Insurance: $156
Cell Phone: $70
Google Music: $10.36
Other: My partner makes $98,000/year, so he pays for our $68/month solar panels, the $40 secondary HOA monthly dues, our variable gas bill ($25-$95 from summer to winter), and our $70/month security system bill. He also pays for almost all our restaurant meals. We do maintain almost totally separate finances. We have one joint account at our credit union that we use to pay the mortgage; when that is due, he transfers money to the joint account, and I transfer it into my account and pay the mortgage. (We each have various bill pay, ACH, and other accounts set up to debit from our individual checking accounts to pay the bills.)

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I don't have time to eat breakfast at home, so I stop at Starbucks on my way to work for their sous vide egg bites and an extra-hot flat white. I use their app to pay and add a dollar to their tip jar. (I seriously hemorrhage so much money through their stupid app.) $11.83

1:30 p.m. — I thought I could give IF (intermittent fasting) a go, but it's 1:30 and I'm really grumpy. I get a sandwich and overpriced bottle of kombucha from the convenience store that is inside our office building. $13.66

4 p.m. — I drive an hour to far Southwest Denver for a session of neurofeedback, which I am doing as an adjunct to the weekly therapy I receive for gender dysphoria. It's a brain training regimen where you get monitors hooked up to your scalp and ears to measure your brain waves, and then you get auditory feedback to help your brain learn how to operate more calmly and with greater efficiency. Buying four sessions at once drops the price per session from $70 each to $65 each, so I buy a package. It has made a huge difference in reducing my anxiety around driving and helped boost my performance at work. $260

Daily Total: $285.49

Day Two

3:30 p.m. — My hair is getting shaggy AF, so I finally stop in to see my hairdresser. She is awesome and we spend some time chatting. I pick up a travel-sized container of Kevin Murphy Balancing Wash in addition to getting my hair cut. I had to reschedule this appointment four times due to other things coming up, so I give her an extra-good tip on top of the $65 cut. $93.25

Daily Total: $93.25

Day Three

4:30 a.m. — I wake up and my freaking menstrual cup is leaking. I have severe gender dysphoria around my monthly cycle as it is. I try to not think about it, get cleaned up, and order a new brand that a friend recommended called FemmyCycle. Hopefully, it will ship soon. Sheesh. $45.45

6:30 p.m. — My partner is cranky that I constantly steal his luxurious Wings + Horns cabin fleece robe, so when I see that their oxblood crimson color robe has gone on sale, I snap it up for him. Although the robe lists for $167 Canadian, after the exchange rate, I only pay $137.99, which is fantastic. $137.99

Daily Total: $183.44

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — My gas tank is hovering around half full. I still remember how hard it was to get gasoline after September 11, and for some reason I have a ton of anxiety around letting my tank fall below this level. I stop at the filling station on my way to work and get a half-tank of mid-grade. $19.54

7:45 p.m. — I need to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few items. What started out as picking up kitchen garbage bags turns into over $100 worth of various items. $118.54

8:30 p.m. — I have a terrible habit of using a nicotine vape pen. There's a limited-edition cucumber flavor of the mint pods I usually order, so I pick up a packet, more mint pods, and a spare USB charger for the pen itself. Sometimes I secretly vape in the bathroom at work if nobody else is in there. $55.52

Daily Total: $193.60

Day Five

5:15 a.m. — I get a publisher's notice for a new book about reducing one's risk for Alzheimer's in my email, and I read it before getting out of bed and into the shower. Even though my partner has about 500 books in our shared home library, I buy it anyway. I recently had my genome sequenced and found out that I am heterogeneous for the APOE4 "Apolipoprotein E" gene for Alzheimer's, and this book contains a doctor's regimen that promises to help reduce the risk. $9.68

12:36 p.m. — I check my online banking account and see that my subscription to Google Music has auto-debited from my checking account. I got a pair of noise-canceling Bose QC35 headphones from my partner for Christmas, which makes it possible for me to work in my ridiculously noisy office. I use Google Music to listen to binaural beats to help me focus and concentrate throughout the day.

4:33 p.m. — My car is dirty from the snow we had a few weeks ago, so I stop by the car wash on my way home from work. I've had my car for nearly two years but have never waxed it, so to assuage my guilt, I get the premium auto wash that supposedly includes a wax-like spray that is supposed to help protect the paint. $15

Daily Total: $24.68

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Because of my gender dysphoria around my chest, I usually wear a binder, a compression garment that is designed to flatten and conceal breast tissue. I have dense fibrocystic tissue and a 36 DDD chest, so it's hard to conceal. The two binders I have been wearing don't seem to conceal as well any longer, so I buy two more during a boring meeting using my phone. They ship via Priority Mail, so hopefully, I won't have to wait too long for them to arrive. $73.25

2 p.m. — I meet one of my good friends for a late lunch at one of Denver's most-hyped restaurants, Linger, in LoHi, and overrated neighborhood in Northwest Denver. Linger used to be Olinger's Mortuary until it was converted into a restaurant. I hardly ever drink, but I'm a sucker for coconut and they have a gin fizz that's made with coconut milk, so I order one in addition to our meal. I get a Korean-style chicken bao bun and sweet potato fries, and my friend gets a vegetarian burger called the Impossible Burger that looks just like hamburger. We split the tab. $34.46

Daily Total: $107.71

Day Seven

1:30 p.m. — I have been treated for moderate to severe depression for the past 16 years. Although I was off all medication for the past four years, I was having a lot of difficulty functioning when I started therapy last summer. This is my co-pay for a 90-day supply of Prozac, or at least until I meet my $1,500 deductible for our health plan. $87.76

Daily Total: $87.76

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