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 higher-ed faculty member who makes $66,564 per year. This week, she spent some of her money on a duvet cover and Indie Lee toner.
Occupation: Faculty Industry: Higher Education Age: 35 Location: Michigan Salary: $66,564 Paycheck (2x/month): $1,922.49
Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $1,082.35 for my mortgage, taxes, and insurance. I live with my two cats and rent out my basement suite on Airbnb. (I rent it out legally. I have a business license from the city and get about $830/month.) Car Payment: $299.21 Debt Consolidation Loan: $217 Student Loans: $288.56
Pre-Tax Monthly Deductions Health Savings Account: $100 Vision & Dental Premiums: $9.44 (only for nine months) 401(k): My job does not require a match. I currently receive $887.52/month in retirement benefits (also only for nine months), in addition to my regular pay.
All Other Monthly Expenses Cable, Internet & Cell Phone Bundle: $240 House Cleaning: $300. This includes the rental suite, which is a partial tax write-off. Utilities: ~$200 for water, gas, electric and trash Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Share: $100 Newspaper Subscriptions: $20.77 for the New York Times, WaPo, and local papers. Netflix: $7.99 Car Insurance: $104 iCloud: $0.99 Investment Account: ~$100
Yearly Expenses Dropbox: $99.99 Business License Renewal: $129 Amazon Prime: $99
7:30 a.m. — It is Sunday — why am I awake this early? I browse the internet for a little while in bed with my cats before eventually getting up. I drink some cold brew that I prepped last night, scramble two eggs with shredded taco cheese and a little taco sauce, and cut up an avocado over the top.
10:30 a.m. — I bought a month-long Hulu trial last week so that I can binge some of their original programming. This morning, I watch an episode of The Handmaid's Tale, and I find it all too real. Under his eye, indeed. 12 p.m. — A friend needs Photoshop help, so she comes over to my house to work. We work on her graphics together for an hour and before descending into a cathartic bitch fest for the next hour. 2 p.m. — The chicken I pulled out of the freezer this morning is far from defrosted, so I decide to have a weird lunch. I make a small cheese quesadilla (really just two tortillas, cheese, and taco sauce zapped in the microwave — one of my "secret single behaviors"), and a green smoothie with two cups of romaine, a frozen banana, almond milk, and a spoonful of peanut butter. 2:30 p.m. — I head over to my mom's house because I told her I would put furniture together for her today. She just moved to the area and recently bought a lot of things for her new house. I spend the next couple of hours putting furniture together, helping her reorganize the kitchen, and cleaning up. I also help her figure out how to use my DirectTV login to catch up on some of her shows since she doesn't have cable right now. 7 p.m. — My mom offers to take me to dinner to thank me for putting together the island, so we go to a local bar and restaurant. I have a turkey club sandwich with a side salad and a Left Hand milk stout to drink; she has a burger and a Whitsun. We split onion rings — all her treat. 10 p.m. — I read for a little bit and then go to sleep. I'm currently reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty and it is pretty amazing — interesting, funny, but also depressing and thought-provoking. Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — I drink a cup of cold brew, take a shower, and start a load of laundry. I scramble two eggs with goat cheese and basil, toss my clothes in the dryer, start the dishwasher, and then head out.
10:30 a.m. — My mom doesn't have a car right now, so I offer to drive her around for errands. Our first stop is Costco, where she has a membership — but I do not. I take this opportunity to load up on (mostly) non-perishable goods. I get three pounds of bananas (which I'll let ripen and then freeze for smoothies), key lime pie cookies (damn you, Costco samples!), four pounds of coffee beans, 12 rolls of paper towels, one gallon of all-purpose cleaner, big bottles of Kirkland shampoo and conditioner, two liters of olive oil, salted caramels (samples again!), a jar of almond butter, three pounds of chicken breasts (also for the freezer), for sticks of deodorant, eight boxes of tissues, two packs of ravioli, one pound of assorted smoked meats, two liters of dishwashing detergent, one gallon of laundry detergent, two cantaloupes, six avocados, 10 dish towels, two pillows, 30 rolls of toilet paper, and six LED light bulbs. All of this will last me literally months. I probably bought about $40 in groceries, $25 home supplies, and the rest is drug store stuff. $277.25 12 p.m. — Mom's next stop is Target. She gets a bunch of things, but I only get a big, glass jar with a spigot (on clearance!) for my coffee. I consider spending less than $10 in Target a major win. $7.40 1:30 p.m. — We go out for lunch. I order a chicken club and a Guinness, and Mom has a burger and a cider. It's deja vu! It's $48, but Mom insists on paying as a thank you for driving her around all afternoon. 3 p.m. — We stop at JCPenny so Mom can look at shorts. I wander over to Sephora and replenish my face wash. I get Clinique's Take the Day Off. $30.79 3:30 p.m. — We run into Anthropologie, where I try some Indie Lee products. I buy toner, and I'll get face wash later — maybe after I've used the rest of what I already have. $33.92 4 p.m. — Mom wants to stop at West Elm to look at side tables for the house, and I discover that they are having a bedding sale. My duvet cover has a huge rip in it and the linen ones are on clearance. I've been eyeing linen duvets online for months, but the cheapest one I could find was from a Lithuanian seller on Etsy which carried a $115 shipping cost. These are on sale for $89.99! I buy a beautiful one in turquoise. $95.39 6 p.m. — I drop off mom, unload the car, and walk over to a friend's house to catch up. I wanted to cook for her, but she insists on cooking herself since she has a Hello Fresh meal languishing in the fridge. I make her promise to come over to my place next week, and I'll cook for her. 9 p.m. — I set up two liters of cold brew for tomorrow morning. Then I settle in for another episode of The Handmaid's Tale, and read The Sellout for a little while before I go to sleep. Daily Total: $444.75
10 a.m. — I get up and strain my cold brew into my new container. It's so good, and I wonder if it would be weird to get a fridge just for cold brew... Kind of like a kegerator? Probably. I decide to forgo breakfast and go straight to lunch. I roast two chicken breasts, cut them into slices, and then use about a quarter of it for a salad with cucumbers and radishes, all from my CSA. I freeze the extra chicken. I also throw in another load of laundry. I need clean bras!
11 a.m. — I spend a few hours working on a manuscript; the revisions were due three days ago — oops. I send the revised draft to my coauthors to sign off on. Hopefully we can resubmit it next week. 3 p.m. — I eat a snack of prosciutto and melon while watching last night's So You Think You Can Dance on my DVR. 5 p.m. — I make some of the ravioli I got at Costco yesterday, then eat half and put the rest in the fridge. A ThredUp order that I made last week arrives; it's mostly a box of fail. I've been selling clothes on ThredUp for about a year, but this month was my first time buying. I keep a plain black tank, a knit shirt, and a pair of khaki shorts. Everything else goes back, for a $53 expected refund. 6 p.m. — I do my volunteer shift for two and a half hours. Afterwards, I swing by the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk and a pack of tortillas. I visit my mom for about an hour, then head back home for the evening. $3.58 10:30 p.m. — I finish The Sellout. I recommend it if you're looking for biting satire, social commentary, and lyrical writing. I also read the first chapter in my next book, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina, and then go to sleep. Daily Total: $3.58
8:30 a.m. — I wake up and have cold brew with two scrambled eggs scrambled, made with taco cheese and sauce.
11 a.m. — I have to go to campus today. I answer student emails, read and make comments on a thesis proposal, and take a conference call for my side gig. I do a little paid consulting in industry, in addition to my academic position. I started doing this in graduate school and continued because it can be very lucrative. One company keeps trying to lure me away from academia to work with them full-time, but I have resisted so far. Sometimes it is pretty tempting. I would make more money and I could work remotely from anywhere in the world. 5 p.m. — I pick up my CSA. This week I get lettuce, kale, scallions, four heads of broccoli, two pounds of fennel, basil, cilantro, one pound of tomatoes, and three beets. While I am at the farmers' market, a friend calls to see if I want to go out for dinner and drinks. I always do! We go out and I have three Farm Hands and an Asian-inspired pork dish. $45.53 9:30 p.m. — Home! I watch the penultimate episode of The Handmaid's Tale and read more Ashala Wolf. It's a dystopian kind of night, apparently. Daily Total: $45.53
5 a.m. — Why am I awake? I lay in bed and internet for a little while, then read a bit, and then finally fall back asleep. Of course, I later sleep through my alarm and don't wake up until almost 11 a.m. I have
never slept through an alarm before. I text my mom and tell her I'll be late. 11 a.m. — I drink cold brew, eat a little prosciutto and melon, jump in the shower, get ready, and then go pick up my mom. We first stop at the post office so I can send my ThredUP order back. My mom is hungry and out of food at her place, so we stop for sandwiches after. I get a turkey pesto and save half since I'm not that hungry. Mom has a chicken salad sandwich. We both order beers, and she pays the $42.78. I pay for parking which was super cheap. I use Parkmobile to pay, which incurs a $0.15 fee, but it is worth it not to carry around change. $0.65 2 p.m. — I drive mom back to Target so she can return something, and then to Bed Bath & Beyond to get more stuff for the house. I resist picking up most of the things I see, but do get a scarf hanger for my entryway and a tube of mascara. I use a $5 off coupon. On the way home, Mom wants some Starbucks so I stop there, too. She gets a crazy, fancy-schmancy drink and treats me to my plain iced latte. $12.17 4:30 p.m. — Home again! I watch the last episode of The Handmaid's Tale. I'm just in time since I'm meeting some friends this evening and we've all been watching it. I know the conversation will drift to the show. 6 p.m. — I make a quick store run for the ingredients I'll need to make the baked Italian fennel dish I want tomorrow. I get parmesan cheese, garlic, buffalo mozzarella, a baguette, and a jug of coconut almond milk (for my smoothies). $19.87 7 p.m. — I meet up with friends at a local brewery where I order pizza, three beers, and have lots of good conversation. We definitely talk about The Handmaid's Tale, so it is good that I finished it and avoided spoilers. $37.50 11:30 p.m. — Back home, where I read Ashala Wolf before going to sleep. Daily Total: $70.19
9 a.m. — Up and awake at my usual time! I have cold brew and my leftover sandwich for breakfast. I play the "Shark Week" playlist from Thinx on Spotify and, before it gets too hot today, decide to bake blueberry zucchini bread. I make two loaves — one for me and one to give to my mom later. When it's finished, I cut a still-warm piece, right out of the oven.
1 p.m. — I make a baked fennel dish with some of the ingredients in my CSA haul this week. I also toss in pattypan squash because I have it, so why not. This is good! I package up the leftovers and put some aside to give to my mom. 5:30 p.m. — I pick up my mom and bring her to my house since I have air conditioning and it is really hot outside. We watch a few episodes of The Great British Baking Show while eating prosciutto and melon. The mail comes and with it, two pairs of jeans from Kut from the Kloth that I ordered last week. (They were on sale, plus I got an additional buy one, get one half off, coupon). I really like them! I'm thankful since I wore a hole in the thigh of my last pair of jeans, and I've had a really hard time finding something I like as much as my dearly departed pair. (Of course, those jeans were Old Navy one-offs I bought more than a year ago for less than $20. I should have purchased 10 pairs.) My mom also thinks the new jeans look good. I guess they are keepers! Mom heads home. 8 p.m. — Tomato season means it is salmorejo season! Salmorejo is a cold Spanish soup that's kind of a cousin of gazpacho. I lived in Spain and it's one of the foods I miss the most. Sadly, prosciutto is no substitute for proper jamón! I set up cold brew for tomorrow morning since I've almost finished my last batch. 9:30 p.m. — I finish Ashala Wolf, which was a fun read. After, I start my next book, The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — I wake up and spend some time reading in bed and snuggling my cat. Best Saturday morning ever.
11 a.m. — I make some fennel pesto out of my leftover frond. I have a half chicken breast with the pesto and some of the roasted fennel I made yesterday. Anise-y goodness! I package up some of the pesto to give to my mom. 12 p.m. — Honestly, I spend most of the day Netflix-ing (more British Baking Show!), reading, and texting friends to make plans for next week. I eat blueberry zucchini bread and cantaloupe for a snack, and make roasted chicken with a salad around dinnertime. This was a truly lazy day; I didn't even leave the house. Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior. The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here. Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists who are single! Whether you're currently dating, are happily solo, living it up with your best friends, or still figuring things out, we want to know how you spend without a romantic ride-or-die. Submit it to us here.