A Week In Detroit, MI, On A $65,000 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 senior executive assistant who makes $65,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her paycheck on Chipotle and a spray tan.

Occupation: Senior Executive Assistant
Industry: Automotive
Age: 28
Location: Detroit, MI
Salary: $65,000
Annual Bonus:~$3,500
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,771.77

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $600 plus about $50 in utilities to rent a tiny studio
Student Loan Payments: $80. Almost paid off. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Payment: $228 for my leased car
Phone: $0. It's on my company's plan and costs me nothing out of pocket.
Health Insurance: ~$80
401(k): I put in 5% and my company matches it with another 5%
Savings: $1,000 minimum. This was a new goal for me in 2018.
Other: In an effort to help me build my savings account, my boyfriend covers the cost of gas, groceries, car insurance, gym membership, Spotify, and a few other miscellaneous expenses. A lot of these go on a credit card with cash back offers and are paid in full at the end of every month. We are getting engaged soon and are beginning to combine our finances as we get ready to pay for a wedding (and eventually a house) together!

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I start the day with a cup of blackberry tea and a scoop of collagen protein. I usually hit the gym by 5:30, but I slipped and twisted my ankle over the weekend and am trying to give it a rest. The warm weekend weather melted the snow but with temps dropping overnight, I figure I should get up and going so as not to be late to work due to bad roads.

8:15 a.m. — My intention to get to work on time failed, but with my executives out of the country, no one seems to notice or care and I go about my morning routine. I heat my overnight oats in the microwave for a minute (blueberries, oatmeal, unsweetened coconut milk, and collagen protein) and grab a mug of hot water to make tea at my desk.

10 a.m. — I am hungry but am trying to figure out if I am just eating out of boredom. Weeks when my executives are traveling are always slow. I snack on a few gluten-free cheddar crackers for a snack from my food drawer. I keep a designated food drawer to keep me from spending all my money and calories at the office vending station.

12 p.m. — My mom texts to ask if I want to come over for lunch. I grab my lunch from the office fridge and head to her house. About two weeks a month, I order prepared lunch meals from a local meal prep company at $10/meal. My mom and I chat and I eat a not-so-satisfying veggie burger and sip a cup of ginger tea. Spending time with my mom always brightens my day.

2:30 p.m. — Work is very slow today. I dive weeks deep in a fitness vlogger's YouTube account, something I have no actual interest in. It's about time for an afternoon snack, so I pull a protein peanut butter cup out of my drawer and try to eat it without making a crumbly mess on my keyboard.

4 p.m. — My cousin texts my mom and I that she's nearby for an appointment and asks if we want to meet up for happy hour. I dip out of work an hour early and meet them both for a cocktail and a cheese plate. Cheese = my favorite part of life. I pick up the tab and tip because my mom raised me and my cousin is a newly-employed teacher $28.11

7 p.m. — My boyfriend, Chris*, heads out of town tomorrow for the remainder of the week, so I make dinner tonight at his place. We eat salmon, broccoli, and brown rice while we catch up on each other's days. After we clean up the kitchen, I help him pack for the week. He hates traveling for work and I do my best to lighten his mood. We have a very fun black-tie event the evening he gets home and both of us are very much looking forward to it! It's an automotive industry event often referred to as AutoProm.

9:30 p.m. — I make a cup of Sleepytime Tea, turn on some music, and fall asleep wondering if Chris knows where his bowtie is.

Daily Total: $28.11

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I skip the gym again today hoping my ankle is better by tomorrow. I forget my morning tea and collagen and feel very foggy this morning.

8:30 a.m. — I am somehow late to work again today. I put my overnight oats in the microwave and grab a mug of hot water for tea. I dread days without my executives. I feel so unfulfilled at work without a lot going on. At least my oats taste like a warm blueberry muffin.

9:30 a.m. — I walk to the office fridge and pull out a Wella Bar (Awesome Almond!), reminding myself to enter this in MyFitnessPal. My gym is doing a six-week challenge and we're in the second week.

10:55 a.m. — More boredom snacking. I pull a bag of SmartPop out of my desk.

11 a.m. — I am now craving Chipotle. I brought lunch to work, but my craving gets the best of me. After browsing the nutritional content online, I place a pick-up order for a steak burrito bowl, sans rice. $8.32

12 p.m. — I leave the office and head to a quick-change oil shop. My car has been reminding me to change my oil for over a week now. I usually hate getting my oil changed because the staff is so unfriendly and tries to up-sell me on everything, but today is my lucky day, I pull in and the staff is friendly and efficient. I am out of the shop with an oil change, a new air filter, and a refill on my wiper fluid in under 15 minutes. I make a note to leave a Google Review for the wonderful service $88.11

12:30 p.m. — I stop and pick up my burrito bowl. Oh, how I love Chipotle. I start to head back to the office but see a big red Target sign looming ahead on my right. A self-proclaimed shopaholic, I recently evaluated my finances and am trying to get my shopping-for-sport under control. Today, I resist the urge and am very proud of myself. I think of my savings account increasing and wonder when Mint will send me another congratulatory email on my newly developed spending habits.

12:33 p.m. — Just past Target, I spot a new health food market and pull in to get a bottle of kombucha. In a severe lapse of judgment, I gave up coffee for the month of January and have been replacing my afternoon coffee craving with a bottle of kombucha. It's on sale, two for $7. I also grab a Pink Lady apple and a container of pre-cut mixed berries. $13.78

7 p.m. — I'm craving something for dinner but, not wanting to do much about it. I stop by my parents' house and there's a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup on the stove, so I help myself. My dad and I end up asking Alexa the most ridiculous questions we can think of. Turns out, the love of Alexa's life is R2-D2. Can't blame the bot for that! I love spending time with my family. I always leave feeling so blessed and peaceful.

8 p.m. — I get home to a package in my mailbox! I walk into my studio and drop everything in the middle of the kitchen floor to open up my package. It's grain-free granola I ordered from a Chicago-based blogger I follow.

9:30 p.m. — After tidying my studio, making a list of a few things I need for home, and talking to Chris on the phone, I finish a cup of decaf tea and go to bed. I am an introvert by nature and usually don't mind when Chris travels for work, but I missed him a lot today.

Daily Total: $110.21

Day Three

5 a.m. — Up and at the gym for the 5:30 a.m. class. I like to work out on an empty stomach so I grab my water bottle and head out the door. The group fitness instructor is a no-show (weird, but I've never liked her) so everyone bands together and kicks ass with a group workout on the fly. I am not usually hungry immediately following a workout but this morning I consider my gym shoe a viable snack.

7:30 a.m. — Out the door a little early for work. With Chris out of town, I realize how little I keep at home. I go to the market to pick up a few things to keep at the office, including frozen blueberries, unsweetened coconut milk, and Siggi's yogurt (two for $3!). I charge $10.48 to Chris' card. I get to work just before 8 a.m. and mix in a handful of the grain-free granola I got last night in with the yogurt I bought. So good! I resist immediately eating another yogurt with more granola and text my girlfriends who also work out at my gym. We bash the instructor who didn't show this morning; nothing like a good group-text vent session.

10:15 a.m. — My executives are on their way back and clearly purchased Wi-Fi during the flight; my inbox is on fire. It's the fire and chaos that makes me love my job. I grab a mug of hot water and make a cup of blackberry tea, glad to escape boredom snacking this morning. Another protein peanut butter cup should get me through until lunch.

12 p.m. — Mom texts me just as I'm walking out the door for lunch. She asks if I'm bringing dresses over to try on. My Rent the Runway delivery for AutoProm should have arrived by now, but I got a delayed notification from UPS. I decide to go see my mom anyway. We eat chicken noodle soup and warm chocolate zucchini muffins as we talk about the family cat (whom I think is possessed). I stop at my favorite coffee shop on my way back to the office and get a blueberry tea with the gift card Chris got me for Christmas. He calculated what one coffee or two teas a week would be for a year and put it on a gift card. My most thoughtful and appreciated gift this Christmas! The staff asks how my coffee moratorium is going, I sigh and say it seems to be getting harder. They remind me I'm halfway through the month and a coconut milk latte isn't far off in my future.

1 p.m. — My inbox is full and I've got a full list of tasks to complete, including trying to resolve a hotel room fiasco for an upcoming international trip. Moving my executives to a lesser hotel halfway through a conference our company is sponsoring? Not happening on my watch.

4 p.m. — George*, my favorite executive, touches down in Detroit and is in full effect. I convince him to delay coming into the office because he is never that effective post international travel. I open the second bottle of kombucha I bought yesterday and debate leaving work early to grab my Rent the Runway rental, but after tracking online, I realize it still hasn't been delivered. Officially getting worried.

5 p.m. — I have enough time to swing by the store to pick up a few things I didn't buy yesterday. A few staples turn into a lot of impulse purchases, like a dessert-flavored tea. I hate myself for this. I consider putting it all on Chris' card because I know he wouldn't mind, but I know these are all for my place and put it on mine. At the checkout, I take out $20 in cash for tips I'll need on Friday. $45.16

6 p.m. — The spray tan studio is packed for AutoProm. I'm easily the youngest person there by 20 years but I don't mind; the older ladies are hilarious. While I am waiting, Rocksbox sends me an email reminder to return my items but damn it, I love one of the necklaces and I have an account credit to use! (I canceled my subscription when I set up my budget at the beginning of the month.) It's only $30 after I apply my $29 account credit. I get sprayed down and purchase a bottle of tan extender. $85.78

8:30 p.m. — My Rent the Runway is finally delivered and disaster strikes: Two dresses don't fit and the one that does has a massive rip down the side. I call Rent the Runway in a panic and get a customer service specialist who couldn't care less about my plight. After a 20-minute call and full-on customer service 'tude, I hang up and try to focus. I open up my laptop to search local department stores' current stock online. I realize my internet isn't working and remember I canceled my Wi-Fi when my provider tried to jack my bill up by $50 over six months ago. (Shows you how often I'm really at my place.) I use my cell phone as a hotspot, saying cheers with a cup of tea to unlimited data from my work phone plan!

10 p.m. — I've purchased three dresses I feel lukewarm about for store pickup tomorrow from the larger mall about 40 minutes from me ($603.25 on Chris' card). I figure I can take a longer lunch tomorrow to pick them up. That gives me four hours after work if those dresses don't fit to hunt something down near me. I wish I lived somewhere with better local shopping. I call Chris to update him on my plight and promptly fall asleep. I've always appreciated my ability to sleep even when I'm stressed.

Daily Total: $130.94

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — Out the door a little early. Forget to make tea. I want to wash the salt and slush off my car before I get to work. Fueling female driving stereotypes since 2005, I nearly cause an accident pulling into the car wash when I forget to put my car in neutral. $6

9 a.m. — I am so distracted by the dress situation that I start drinking my mug of hot water without a tea bag. George is in the zone and I am glad he is back. He encourages me to take a long lunch to pick up my dresses. I grab my yogurt from the fridge and granola from the drawer and am excited about breakfast because it tastes so good.

1:30 p.m. — Back in the office after my lunchtime sprint to pick up my dresses. I buy two salads from Whole Foods on my way back for George and me. ($11.58 expensed)

3 p.m. — My salad sits on my desk untouched. I open my drawer looking for something else but don't find anything appetizing. I take a LaCroix from my fridge stash instead. Why am I so wasteful? I let George know there's an extra salad in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch since I won't be in and he's not the best at feeding himself.

7:30 p.m. — After work, I put on a fashion show for my mom, baby brother, and sister-in-law. We all agree on a dress and I go to the local mall to get a pair of shoes for the new dress ($135.66). They are pricey but I've needed a good pair of black pumps for a while. After, I meet one of my besties for dinner. He recently started working at my company (yay!) but with our schedules, it's been hard to even get lunch together. I am glad to catch up with him and am getting more and more excited for AutoProm. We're fluid about who picks up the tab. I think it's my turn, so I pay ($49.04). $184.70

9 p.m. — My usual decaf tea, phone call with Chris who is at the airport ready to fly home, and off to bed. Very excited for tomorrow but my love of sleep captures me quickly.

Daily Total: $190.70

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — My internal body clock wakes me up earlier than I'd like, so I lay in bed but my restlessness gets the best of me and I'm up early.

9:30 a.m. — Out the door with a pile of items to return. By 11 a.m., I've returned $450.56 worth of dresses to Chris' credit card and another $173.86 for the shoes I purchased for my original dress to my personal card. I am feeling good about this as my new dress and shoes ultimately cost me less than what Rent the Runway would have. While I'm still bitter, party of one, when it comes to Rent the Runway, I did get a full refund and a credit for my next rental.

3 p.m. — With my hair ($35 plus a $10 tip) and makeup done (free as I am a VIP Rouge member at Sephora, meaning I spent $1,000 at Sephora in the last calendar year), I swing by Chipotle to get Chris and me something to eat ($15.58) before we head out. $60.58

5 p.m. — We arrive at the AutoProm pre-party. Chris had a heated work call on the way and I worried it would prevent him from enjoying the evening but upon arriving, we happily run into several friends and enjoy free food and drinks as the night begins!

11 p.m. — After hours of fun, food, and drinks, we venture out on our own. Everyone thinks AutoProm is about the cars. It's not — it's about the unparalleled people-watching: the glam, the weird, and the just plain ugly. I love it! We hop to a few of our favorite bars, including an Irish pub with $1 jello shots. Chris picks up the bar tabs and I pay for the Ubers. I grab a cup of water from the last bar as our Uber home pulls up and hiccup the entire way home in my fancy gown like the classy lady that I am. $47.87

Daily Total: $108.45

Day Six

12 p.m. — I sleep until noon, something I almost never do. I am fairly hungover, as I knew I would be, and so is Chris. I drive us to our favorite breakfast diner for hangover sustenance. Chris does a bit of work on his phone and I browse social media and photos from the night before. Chris picks up the bill.

1:30 p.m. — After I drop off Chris at his car, I stop at a coffee shop and get an overpriced cup of tea before I take a lazy drive through the city with my heat blasting and windows down. It's nearly 50 degrees in January! Hangover or not, I live for sunny days in the dead of winter. $3.25

3:30 p.m. — The sunshine and fresh air are calling our names. Chris and I take our bikes out of the garage and do a slow loop around town. It is cold but the sunshine and fresh air feel great! We talk about all the bike rides we want to take in the spring and summer.

6 p.m. — I make a veggie and shrimp stir fry at home. After a quiet dinner, we are both still very hungover and craving something sweet. Chris runs to Target for Halo Top and I make a box of Simple Mills chocolate chip cookies to crumble on top while we watch House Hunters. Curled up on the couch with soft blankets, I smile at Chris and tell him we're living the dream.

8:30 p.m. — I am ready for bed. I make a cup of decaf tea that I barely finish before I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $3.25

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I sleep in later than normal again. Time for tea and a quick breakfast of eggs over easy, spicy chicken sausage, and brown rice. I scarf it down before I get ready for church.

11:15 a.m. — Chris and I recently started attending a new church. I am so moved by the sermon, I tear up during the prayer.

12:30 p.m. — On our way to my parents' house for family brunch, Chris and I take a detour to a nearby bar for one cocktail. He is feeling very stressed and anxious today and I know it's always helpful to sit and talk it out. His career is incredibly fast-paced and high-stress, so I try to be considerate of that as much as possible.

1:30 p.m. — My mom makes an amazing spread for brunch as per usual: two different quiches, cinnamon bread, sausage, bacon, and fruit. We catch up with my family and I suspect that my youngest brother is recovering from a night of shenanigans since he seems slightly hungover. Sunday brunch with my family is one of my favorite parts of every week.

3 p.m. — Chris and I planned to stop at Costco on our way back to his house but we completely ignore our responsibilities for the day and go to the next town over for Sunday Funday instead. We hop to five different bars, have a drink at each, spend hours talking, and split an app at the last one. Chris picks up the tabs.

7 p.m. — We're back home. Friday night was a blast but there's nothing like quality time with just the two of us. I check the fridge and confirm I have enough food to make it through Monday, though I'll have to stop at Costco after work tomorrow night. I don't like running errands after work, especially on Mondays, but I know Chris needed a relaxing day today. I hope the week ahead isn't too difficult for him.

9:30 p.m. — I make a cup of decaf tea and add a splash of honey, which naturally means I down it in a matter of minutes. My sweet tooth always gets the best of me, even in small ways. I put on my noise-canceling headphones but don't think I make it through one song before I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $0

*Names have been changed.

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