8 Women With Similar Salaries Spend Them VERY Differently

For almost a year, we've lived vicariously around the world through the money diaries of women in Rome, Berlin, Shanghai. We've chatted with women about what it's like to earn a mere sixth of their partner's salary, how they feel about paying on dates, and started tracking how much women spend on weddings — their own, and those of their friends.

For our 75th Money Diary (yes, 75th!) we've decided to round up eight millennial women from around the country, in eight major cities. The catch? They all earn between $40,000 and $45,000 — some $10,000 above the median salary of the average American millennial woman. We're not asking that you pore over each and every entry, but comparing how similarly salaried people prioritize their spending can be fascinating and helpful.

At the end, you'll find an average breakdown per category based on the diaries featured here. Click ahead to check how your spending may (or may not) align with theirs.
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A just-moved-to-New-York woman reaping the benefits of living in the city.

Industry: Advertising
Age: 22
Location: NYC
Salary: $45,500
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $1,270 after tax, 401(k), company gym membership, and Transitchek
# of Roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1,434
Utilities: $50 for internet/cable, ~$50 for electricity
Phone Bill: Still on the family plan, paid by my parents (thanks Mom and Dad!)
Health Insurance: Still on my parents’ insurance (thanks again parentals!)
Loans: $0 (full scholarship for undergrad)

Day One

8 a.m. — I was off work last week and I’m nursing a serious vacation hangover (and a slight actual hangover). I get to the office early to read through my 400+ emails. I grab a coffee from the deli below my building and eat at banana I brought from home at my desk. The actual hangover is making me nauseous so I chug some water and pop two Advils. $3.10

12:30 p.m. — My coworkers ask me to eat lunch with them on the terrace of our office building. I’m feeling better and need to step away from media plans, so I heat up leftovers from last night and join them.

5:30 p.m. — Get home and lay down. I accidentally take a 1.5-hour nap (whoops). Whip up the same meal as last night (beans and veggies), but don’t make enough to bring leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Darn. Guess it’ll be that Lean Cuisine that’s been sitting in my freezer.

11:30 p.m. — I recently moved into Manhattan after commuting from home for over a year, so my roommate and I are still buying some necessities. I order a coffee table online from IKEA because the beer-pong table we’re currently using isn’t cutting it ($24.99). I also end up adding a set of 17 food containers ($5, what a steal!) and a corkscrew ($2.99) to the order. After taxes and shipping the total comes to $46.78

Daily Total: $49.88

Day Two

9 a.m. — Grab coffee from the deli again. I really should learn how to make my own iced coffee because this habit is getting pricey. $3.10

1 p.m. — Spent all morning working on a project, only to find out that client wants to completely change direction. UGH. Figure this is a good time to heat up the aforementioned Lean Cuisine I packed for lunch, which is chicken pot stickers with rice.

6 p.m. — Eat pretzel thins and a Laughing Cow cheese wedge to hold me over until the boyfriend gets into the city for dinner (he lives in our hometown).

8:30 p.m. — I’m officially HANGRY by the time my boyfriend gets here. He hit traffic on the way so we head to Shake Shack for a quick bite. We get two Shack burgers, cheese fries, a soda, and a salted-caramel shake. He foots the bill for keeping me waiting so long for dinner.

Daily Total: $3.10

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — Coffee. Again. $3.10

12 p.m. — I’m working on a brief for a new client. The product we’re creating a media plan for is very high-end, which is new for me, so I spend most of the morning perfecting the brief.

12:30 p.m. — Now seems like a good time for lunch because I want to save room for the Hamptons-themed happy hour one of our partners is throwing. I heat up a Lean Cuisine (Santa Fe-style rice and beans today). I decide to eat and work on the terrace. I grab my laptop and head up to the 14th floor.

3 p.m. — Finally! My company lets some of our most frequent partners come into the offices and host happy hours all the time. Today is a Hamptons-themed HH on the terrace complete with lobster rolls from Luke’s, rosé, and beach decorations. I treat myself to a crab roll and one (okay two) glasses of rosé and enjoy the nice weather with my coworkers. These office events definitely help keep my lunch costs to a minimum.

5:30 p.m. —I get out of work early but I’m not meeting my friends for dinner until 6:30. Decide to walk from my office in SoHo to the restaurant in Gramercy Park. I cut through Washington Square Park and call my mom while marveling at just how much I love the city (after commuting four hours a day, the novelty of living here still hasn’t worn off).

6:30 p.m. — Our reservation isn’t until 7 but two of my friends also get out early so we meet at the bar and take advantage of the happy-hour special. Two glasses of Pinot Grigio for $14 and $2 tips leaves me at $16.

7 p.m. — Dinnertime! I really love catching up with the girls. I lucked out that my six best friends all moved to Manhattan right after college so we see each other pretty often, but we were all on vacations last week and I missed them! We catch up over a bottle of wine and I order the mushroom cavatelli. SO DELICIOUS. We split the check. $32.01

8:15 p.m. — Done with dinner but my friend has a date in half an hour up the street and doesn’t want to be too early. We sit at the bar for another drink to kill time. One glass of wine is almost double the price it was during HH. Yikes. $13.07 plus $1 tip. $14.07

10 p.m. — Get home and tipsily clean out my fridge (drunk me rocks!) Promptly crawl into bed and fall asleep with a full face of makeup and my contacts in (drunk me sucks!).

Daily Total: $65.18

Day Four:

8:50 a.m. — I’m not hungover, but I am truly exhausted. I sleep way too late and still have to shower. I normally take the subway to work but today a cab is necessary to get to work at a reasonable time. I arrive only 5 minutes late! $16.55

12 p.m. — I’m finally done with calls and I’m famished. Forgot to pack a lunch today so I head across the street to the deli. I get a turkey BLT, a bag of salt-and-vinegar chips, and a Coke Zero. $11.44

2:45 p.m. — All the vendors/clients I need to get in touch with are on vacation so I spend the afternoon reading articles on R29 (woo!) and online shopping. Run downstairs to grab an iced coffee so I don’t fall asleep in my meeting with my boss to go over numbers. Yawn. $3.10

5 p.m. — My coworkers and I all agree to peace out early. I take the subway home and pick up a six-pack on the way. My plan for the night is to assemble the IKEA coffee table that arrived today. If you’ve ever put together anything from IKEA you know the beer was a necessary purchase. $12

7 p.m. — In a shocking turn of events, the coffee table was relatively easy to assemble. I decide to make veggie tacos for dinner consisting of beans, mushrooms, onions, jalapeños, zucchini, and shredded cheese with lots of Cholula sauce.

Daily Total: $43.09

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — Coffee. I know, you’re shocked. $3.10

11:30 a.m. — Starving again. I head down to the café in our building and grab another small coffee plus an egg-white wrap with spinach, swiss, and turkey bacon. Expensive, but so yummy. $12.67

5:45 p.m. — Walk to meet up with a big group of friends at a laundromat-turned bar (#trendy) in Stuy-Town. $3 drinks until 8. I have five Bud Lights. $18

8 p.m. — The laundromat/bar doesn't serve food so we head to Artichoke Pizza for some grub before heading to the next spot. One margarita slice inhaled on the sidewalk: $4.75.

9 p.m. — We head to one of our favorite bars. I put my card down to get my friend and I beers but their credit-card machine is on the fritz so the bartender gives them to us on the house. Score! I still rack up a tab buying drinks later in the night. $18.33

10 p.m. — The last bar is uncharacteristically empty so we head to another more “dance-y” bar. My friend gets us a round of pickleback shots (vom) and I buy a round of beers. $13

11:30 p.m. — My roommate and I are tired and over this scene so we decide to head home. We cab uptown and I pay. $10.55

Daily Total: $80.40


Day Six

10 a.m. — Wake up feeling like garbage. Damn you picklebacks!!! Chug a ton of water and decide my day will be spent in bed.

2 p.m. — Manage to get some more sleep. Realize I need food so I heat up some leftover pizza and spend the rest of the day re-watching Elementary from the beginning on Hulu (parent’s account).

8 p.m. — Shower, get dressed, and do my makeup for tonight. I heat up a Healthy Choice microwave meal of pasta marsala.

10 p.m. — Friends come to my place to pregame. We still have a ton of beer leftover from our housewarming party a few weeks ago so everyone is happy.

11:45 p.m. — Taxi to the bar for a friend-of-a-friend’s birthday party in the East Village. Friend pays for the taxi.

12 a.m. — We wait on line to get into the bar only to find out there’s a $10 cover. Annoyed because it’s a waste of money and I haven’t had to do this since college. No cash on me so my friend spots me and I Venmo her. $10

12:15 a.m. — I buy my friends a round of drinks. This is truly one of the strangest bars I’ve ever been to and I need alcohol for this. $36.30

1 a.m. — Thank god everyone agrees and we skedaddle. I want to head home but my friend convinces me to go to one more bar with them. I oblige and she buys me a drink.

1:30 a.m. — Too. Many. People. I call it quits for the night and cab it home. $11.15

2 a.m. — The boy is home when I get back. He was out with his friends who live in the city. We’re both hungry so I order mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and a chicken-cutlet panini. Apparently at 2 a.m. this all seemed worth the $39.38.

Daily Total: $96.83

Day Seven

12 p.m. — Slept in, but I’m heading home for the night and need to pack a bag (filled mostly with laundry to do while I’m home) and tidy up the apartment.

2 p.m. — The BF has his car in the city and drives me back to our joint hometown.

2:45 p.m. — My mom and dad are the cutest and fix me a mimosa while we sit by the pool and catch up.

6 p.m. — Laundry done and I watch some TV with mom. She makes the most delicious spaghetti with stuffed clams. Nothing beats a home-cooked meal with the family.

10 p.m. — Early night after a long weekend. So excited to retreat to my insanely comfortable queen-sized bed in my home bedroom.

Daily Total: $0
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The Boston woman dyeing her hair for her mother's wedding, and cooking lunch batches every Sunday.

Occupation: Community manager and writer. I studied journalism but I’m working for a travel startup at the moment.
Industry: Social media and public relations
Age: 23
Location: Live in Somerville, work in Boston
Salary: $45,000
Paycheck Amount (every two weeks after taxes and insurance & commuting deductions): $1275
# of roommates: 1 (my boyfriend plus two cats)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 (unevenly split with my boyfriend - he pays $800)
Student Loan Payments: $56.49
Utilities: We split the utilities every month. I usually pay $25 for internet + $30-70 for electricity and heat (varies seasonally).
Transportation (taken out of my paycheck pre-tax): $84.50 for unlimited monthly Charlie Card
Car lease: $90 (BF pays $100)
Car insurance: $100 (also split with my BF)
Gas: $20 (my boyfriend usually fills the tank but I also try to pay sometimes)
Phone Bill: $0 (my beautiful and generous mother picks up that tab).
Health Insurance (taken out of my paycheck pre-tax): $111 medical (Tufts Health Care) + $25 Vision and Dental (United Health Care)
Laundry: $10
Netflix: $0. He pays.

Savings: $800-$850 (I’m trying to go to grad school and Europe — or Europe and then grad school — in about a year and a half so I put money into a savings account every month).

Day One

8:15 a.m. — I get downtown and go the supermarket to get some cilantro. $1.69

8:45 a.m. — As I make my way to work, it starts pouring down and I arrive soaked. Luckily, I have a workout outfit at work so I change into that. Yay for a no-dress-code office! I never wake up hungry, so I bring my breakfast to the office instead. It’s overnight oats with berries and hemp seeds, and I eat it at my desk while I dry my hair with a shirt.

1:30 p.m. — I brought lunch (edamame, kale, beets, sprouts, and quinoa salad with tahini dressing) and snacks (watermelon and baby carrots) from home, so since it’s raining, I don’t even get out of the office. I eat my lunch in the kitchen with some coworkers.

6:10 p.m. — It's still pouring when I get out of work so I take a Lyft Line home. $6.85

8 p.m. — After a quick workout, I make salmon with cilantro paired with spicy quinoa, spinach, and broccoli for dinner.

Daily Total: $8.54

Day Two
7:45 a.m. — Once a month I deliver a dish for a community dinner at a recovery house. This time it's fudge brownies and the pan is too big and awkwardly shaped to bring on the bus, so my boyfriend gets a Lyft for me to deliver them.

9:10 a.m. — Again, I brought food from home. I have a Greek yogurt parfait with strawberries, hemp seeds, and almond butter and a cup of green tea at my desk to start the work day.

2 p.m. — I brought a kale and chickpea salad with kalamata olives, tomatoes, and feta cheese for lunch today. Last year I lived in NYC and worked as an intern, so I could not afford to eat in Manhattan and I got used to bringing lunch to work every day. I love cooking so now I still plan my meals and batch cook on Sundays.

6:45 p.m. — Last night I started to feel a cold sore breaking out. I pickup a prescription for cold sore medication from CVS after work. $6.49

7:30 p.m. — I take out my hula hoop and yoga mat to work out. My cat is spread out on the couch, licking his inner thigh. I wonder if there’s such thing as cat yoga.

8:30 p.m. — I usually make the same dinner every week on Tuesday: chicken wings and caesar salad for my boyfriend (he really likes wings) and spinach salad with quinoa, avocado, and Sriracha chicken for me. We have it while watching Sherlock (the Christmas special).

Daily Total: $6.49


Day Three
8:20 a.m. — I’m back on my subway routine. I take the T downtown and I head to the park to have breakfast there — I brought ginger and orange overnight oats and strawberries. I’m trying to enjoy the good weather as much as I can before before it gets depressingly cold here.

1:40 p.m. — I go for a walk on the Greenway and eat my lunch outside while reading my new book: Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential. The menu today: kale and chickpeas, broccoli, carrots, beets, and sprouts.

6 p.m. — I take the T home and I put in a load of laundry as soon as I get there. It’s $1.50 to wash and $1.50 to dry so I use some quarters from our change jar. Since it’s still nice out, I decide to go for a run. $3

7:40 p.m. — My boyfriend and I went to New Hampshire last weekend and on our way home we stopped at a grocery store that had all kinds of fish. We got two red tuna steaks, so I’m making seared tuna with an edamame salad and garlic mushrooms for dinner.

Daily Total: $3


Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I’ve been meaning to go to the Primark downtown to check out their summer sales. I really like this black romper; its original price is $21, but it’s on sale for $7 so I decide to get it. I know I won’t be wearing rompers in Boston any time soon, but I’m going to Austin in December, so I figure I can wear it then. At the register the cashier tells me the marked price is wrong, and that it’s actually on sale for $3. Score! $3

9 a.m. — I have overnight oats with papaya and cacao nibs at my desk. I need to tackle down a serious amount of tweets and Instagram posts today.

12 p.m. — Yoga time! We have a yoga teacher come in every week to give us a lunchtime class. Usually just 3-4 people join in, so it feels super exclusive. I love it!

1:45 p.m. — I have a quinoa and spinach salad with cucumbers, broccoli, and sriracha chicken (leftover from Tuesday) at my desk. I only eat half of it because we have a meeting at 2 p.m. After the meeting I finish the salad and have some watermelon and flax seed crackers.

6 p.m. — After work a few friends and I are going rock climbing. One of them is a full-time member at a rock-climbing gym in Somerville and he is giving me his guest pass, so I don’t have to pay anything. I offer to get a Lyft to take us there but the traffic is terrible, so we walk to South Station and take the T to Porter Square in Cambridge.

6:30 p.m. – We grab a quick bite at Anna’s Taqueria before climbing. I love Mexican food but I don’t feel like eating a whole lot before rock climbing. I get a taco al pastor with a side of guacamole and a bottle of water. $7.42.

10:30 p.m. — We are done climbing. It was so fun, but super tiring. My hands and feet are sore. One of my friends lives three blocks away from me so he gives me a ride home. I have baby carrots with hummus and what’s left of the asian salad I made last night.

Daily Total: $10.42


Day Five
9 a.m. — It’s Friday and pay day! What a time to be alive. On my way to work I stop at my favorite cafe (Broad Street Paulie’s) to grab some breakfast — on Fridays I allow myself to explore the Boston food scene. I get a small iced coffee, a banana muffin to bring to a coworker, and an egg-and-tomato sandwich. Egg, tomato, and avocado is my favorite, but Paulie’s doesn’t have avocado, so I bring one from home and add it to the sandwich when I get to the office. $7

1 p.m. — I meet with my mom for lunch. We go to a small cafe and share a Greek salad and a turkey wrap. She pays. After lunch, I get us some drinks from Panera. She gets a regular coffee and I get a hibiscus iced tea. $4.78

3:30 p.m. — I pay my student loan online and while I’m at it, I place an order on Thrive Market. This is a subscription website where you can order healthy snacks for cheaper than retail price. In the past two years I have been building up a pantry of superfoods, so I place an order on TM every month and half or so. Today, I get several packages of Go Raw spirulina bites and ginger cookies (my favorite snacks in the world), apple paleonola, bee pollen, and Herbs Mary’s Gone Crackers. $68.45

7 p.m. — I get home and open the mailbox and see a letter from my mom’s fiancé. They are getting married soon and he wanted to send me some money to take care of any wedding expenses I may have. The letter comes with a $200 prepaid Visa card. He is so great!

7:30 p.m. — I open a beer while I try to figure out what to do with all the cat hair on the couch. When my boyfriend gets home, he vacuums the cat hair and we start making dinner. We often get takeout on Fridays, but we recently spent some money buying plane tickets and booking Airbnbs for a vacation in Miami and Key West on Spring Break, so we decided to be more careful with our spending this month. We make Gordon Ramsay's "Bloody Mary" pasta with chicken and sautéd garlic-parmesan zucchini. It’s honestly way better than takeout. We have it with white wine.

Daily Total: $80.23

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up and do some yoga in the living room while watching a Manchester United game with my boyfriend. We both love soccer so if we are at home we almost always watch English Premier League matches on weekends. He has already had breakfast (clam chowder? Okay). I make a blueberry, acai, and spinach smoothie with flaxseed and almond butter.

10:30 a.m. — I have been meaning to mail a package (Ecuadorian chocolate and some awesome Bernie Sanders socks) to one of my best friends in Maine, so I walk over to the post office. I do regular mail. $4.87

11:30 a.m. — I walk to a nail salon at Davis Square to get a pedicure. Surprisingly, they are not very busy, so I also get a gel manicure. Since I already have everything I need for the wedding, I pay with the prepaid card I got from my mom’s fiancé. It’s $57, so I have $143 let on the card. I find out they only take cash for tips and I only have $6 in my wallet. $6

1:30 p.m. — My boyfriend picks me up at Davis and we head home. Neither of us wants to have big lunch because we are going to a street festival later, so I make a cheese plate with olives and fruit and we share that.

3 p.m. — We head to Union Square for What the Fluff, a community festival that celebrates marshmallow fluff, which was invented here in Somerville. We split several snacks including a Peruvian corn with ají amarillo, chicken empanadas with fluff, and a piece of tiramisu. My boyfriend pays. I pick up some bacon fudge to bring home and a couple of much-needed water bottles. $6.

8:30 p.m. — One of my boyfriend’s friends is visiting for the night, so we head out to dinner at Davis Square. We go to The Burren, an Irish Pub and one our favorite spots. I get the most glorious dish on the menu, spicy curry mussels and an Allagash White and split some fries with my boyfriend. We all split the tab. $21 (with tip).

10 p.m. — After dinner we take an Uber to Harvard Square and go to this great outdoor bar. My boyfriend pays for the car and I get us the first round. He orders a beer and I get a margarita on the rocks. $20 (with tip).

Daily Total: $57.87

Day Seven
9:30 a.m. — Despite the late night, I wake up at a usual time for the weekend and I make my favorite smoothie for breakfast (spinach, kale, frozen mango, oats, almond butter, and frozen banana). I top it with hemp seeds and sliced strawberries and I eat it on the couch while I watch Premier League with my boyfriend and his friend.

11 a.m. — Today my aunt and my mom are dyeing my hair darker for my mom’s wedding in a couple of weeks. I head over to their house and we start the process. My aunt usually cuts and dyes my hair and she is pretty good at it, so I just chill and watch more soccer while she does it. Once we're done, they make lunch. They bought some steaks at the market, and while my mom fries them and cooks some potatoes, I make a salad with honey-mustard dressing. My boyfriend joins us for lunch and he brings beer.

4 p.m. — My boyfriend and I go to Market Basket, a cheap and great supermarket chain, famous in New England. It is always crowded so it takes us about 20 minutes to find parking. We usually buy a ton of stuff because we mostly cook at home instead of eating out. We get a lot of vegetables and fruit, chicken, salmon, almond milk, yogurt, hummus, cleaning supplies, cat food, and some other things. For treats, he gets some frozen chicken wings and gummy bears. I choose corn bread, pita chips, and dulce de leche. It comes to $161.22, and we split it. $80

4:50 p.m. — We go into this Indian market/wine and beer store. This is rather convenient because I love both Indian food and beer so much. We pick up a six-pack of Dogfish Blood Orange Heffeweizen and some korma sauce for future Indian meals. My boyfriend pays.

6 p.m. — I put on The Beatles Anthology 2 on Spotify and start my batch cooking for the week. I steam some broccoli, make a tub of ginger-orange overnight oats, cook a cup of quinoa, chop some watermelon and a papaya and make a jar of cucumber tahini salad dressing. I also pack my food for tomorrow and make a sandwich and a yogurt parfait for my boyfriend to take to work.

7:30 p.m. — For dinner I make BBQ chicken breast, roasted broccoli with garlic, and I heat up the corn bread. I also open a can of baked beans (I know they’re packed with sugar and not so good for you, but I absolutely LOVE them).

Daily Total: $80
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A senior sales executive in Chicago, getting free Classpasses in exchange for monthly dog-sitting.

Industry: Software as a service
Age: 25
Location: Studio in Lakeview/Wrigley, Chicago, IL
Salary: $45,000
Net Paycheck Amount (Every Two Weeks): $1300, plus between $500-2000 in commission
# of roommates: 0

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $865
Loan Payments: $350, but I pay more depending on my commission check
Utilities: $90
Transportation: $100 bus/train pass
Phone Bill: Parents Pay
Health Insurance: Under my mom’s
Gym: $119 Classpass, which my friend pays for in exchange for watching his dog one week/month

Day One

5:45 a.m. — Just got back from a trip last night, so I don't have food. All I can find is a banana and almond butter leftovers.

6:40 a.m. — Dying, and had no time for coffee. Grab a coffee with steamed almond milk at Starbucks. $2.79

9:06 a.m. — Put an extra $500 towards student loans.

11 a.m. — Lunch at Au Bon Pain. They sent me a birthday coupon which I use on Thai chicken salad and corn bread.

3:04 pm. — Buy a “Bayside Tigers” T-shirt online, for a Saved By The Bell pop-up dinner I’m going to this summer. $21

5:30 p.m. — Starving after my interval class, so I pick up half a pound of chicken salad from Goddess & the Grocer. $5.16. But by using Spring Rewards, I get back $5 in four business days on my credit card. I’m the best at finding deals. $5.16

6:15 p.m. — Stop by Treasure Island (a grocery store) to stock my fridge (pita chips, expensive fruit salad, macadamia oil, avocado, popcorn, three Greek yogurts, strawberry carton, three Kind bars). $33.27

Total: $562.22 (minus $5 Spring Rewards)

Day Two

6 a.m. — Frozen banana again with almond butter, coffee using my French press, and a hard-boiled egg.

11 a.m. — Handful of yesterday’s popcorn, rest of yesterday’s tuna, and peach cobbler, which my coworker picked up for my birthday.

4:20 p.m. — Uber to my class because I’m running late, $4.97, but there’s a promo, for $5 off the next 5 rides, so mine’s free.

5:30 p.m. — Uber again $3.78, again free.

5:45 p.m. — Starving after my birthday workout class. I make some food from my Treasure Island haul.

6:30 p.m. — Meet up with girlfriends at 3 Greens Market around the block, while they have salads, I have a Founder’s Porter and huge oatmeal raisin cookie that I am supposed to share but don't. $9.46

Daily Total: $9.46

Day Three

6 a.m. — Homemade cold brew and a hard-boiled egg.

7 a.m. — Homemade cold brew wasn’t enough, so I succumb to Starbucks. $3.29

9:30 a.m. — Not working… Remember I need a bra. Buy a strapless Wacoal bra on sale via the Saks website. $38.53

12:18 p.m. — CVS run for some face wash and razors. $9.36

2 p.m. — Accompany a friend to frozen yogurt, and I just have a bite of hers.

6 p.m. — After my workout, eat two hard-boiled eggs, beef jerky, and M&M’s that were around my house.

Daily Total: $51.18

Day Four

6:30 a.m. – Kind bar for breakfast.

7:30 a.m. – Coworker buys me a much-needed Starbucks.

11:30 a.m. – I go to Blue Agave for lunch for a shared chicken fajita salad, fiesta fries, and margs. $27.14. Because my credit card is linked to Spring Rewards, though, I’ll be getting $10 back! $27.14

3 p.m. — My workout isn't until 4:15 p.m. so I mosey around and window shop. Walk out with 2 dresses, a pair of jeans, and a purse...oops. $249.17

8:30 p.m. — Dinner at a seafood spot nearby, Kinmont, where my friend and I share beers, lobster rolls, and seafood gnocchi. My friend pays.

Daily Total: $276.31 (- $10 from Spring Rewards)

Day Five

7 a.m. — Banana from home.

8:30 a.m. — On my way to Crossfit, my tummy grumbles, so I pick up almonds. $1.72

10 a.m. — Starving after Crossfit, so I pick up a chicken-noodle dish from healthy SNAP Kitchen across the street. $5

3 p.m. — Go to a friend’s house for derby party. Munch on mac 'n' cheese, pulled-pork sandwich, mules.

6:15 p.m. — Uber on over to Logan Square to meet a girlfriend. $5.12, but again, free.

6:30 p.m. — Sample beers at Revolution Brewery, have a radler at the Radler, and dance away at Slippery Slope & East Room. $40

12 a.m.— Pay for my and a friend’s Uber. $4.97

Daily Total: $51.69

Day Six


7 a.m. — Starbucks: coffee and sandwich for me, orange juice for the door guy (staying on his good side). $10.72

8:50 a.m. — Feeling dizzy from being hungover, so Rx bar from Crossfit. $3

11 a.m. – Uber home, and give my number to the driver…whoops… $11.72

11:30 a.m. — Munch on chicken salad, avocado, and pita chips.

12 p.m. — Grocery shop (pineapple, cantolope, seafood salad, kale salad, yogurt, two beers, spinach). $35

4 p.m. — Take the bus up north to my friend’s house where she makes me Korean bulgogi. We drink a few beers, have ice cream, and spend four hours catching up.

Daily Total: $60.44

Day Seven

6 a.m. — A quarter of a cantaloupe from yesterday’s grocery trip and a banana with almond butter.

8 a.m. — Gross work coffee.

11:30 a.m. — Kale salad and a smidge of seafood salad brought from home.

6 p.m. — Ramen on my way home 'cause it’s cold. $13

6:45 p.m. — Ice cream shop…'cause it’s on the way, duh. $6

Daily Total: $19
4 of 9
A semi-recent college grad using Excel to track her expenses.

Industry: Operations at a jewelry company
Age: 23
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $43,000 a year
Paycheck Amount (Every Two Weeks): About $1,350, after 2% pre-tax goes to my 401(k)
# of roommates: 2

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,267 rent per month
Loan Payments: $400/month, plus any extra income
Utilities: $27 a month — only Internet and PG&E
Transportation: $0. Canceled my public-transportation card, don’t have a car, and walk to work every day
Phone Bill: $0 (still on my parents' plan)
Health Insurance: $0 (also still under my parents)
Savings: 5% of every paycheck to my savings account, 2% of that to a separate travel/savings account I don’t touch

Day One
11:30 a.m. — It’s Sunday and I sleep in, then grab an iced chai latte next door. I pay in quarters at the café because they only take cash. $3.75

1 p.m. — I walk around North Beach (the neighborhood I live in), stop in a few stores I’ve never been to, and get myself a small candle and earrings. $20.67

2:30 p.m. — I have leftover pizza for lunch at home, then explore an art gallery and more of the neighborhood.

5:30 p.m. — I head to my friend’s house for our annual Sunday show session, and grab some snacks on the way — Kombucha and Goldfish. $7.33

6 p.m. — My friends decide that they decide they want to order Thai food. We walk to go get some, I get chicken curry and Thai iced tea. (I can’t eat it all and save half for lunch on Monday). It also gives me heartburn. $13

10 p.m. — My roommate pays for the Uber home (which is maybe $3).

Daily Total: $44.75

Day Two
9 a.m. — I make some oatmeal we keep at work for breakfast, as well as coffee.

1 p.m. — I eat my leftover Thai curry for lunch.

3:30 p.m. — My team and I make a bag of popcorn from the office and share.

6 p.m. — I walk to Trader Joe's after work for some fresh groceries just for the week. I’m going on a trip home (to Virginia) next week so I don’t need much — spinach, bananas, cucumbers, eggs, wheat bread, snap-peas snack, avocados, green-tea lemonade, and veggie burgers. $21.06

7:30 p.m. — Dinner is one of the veggie burgers I just bought.

9 p.m. — Hang at home the rest of the night, watch Netflix, and read a book. Mondays are for catching up on sleep.

Daily Total: $21.06

Day 3
8 a.m. — While getting ready, I make a simple spinach salad to bring to work for lunch. Spinach salad with avocado, cucumber, goat cheese, and croutons.

9 a.m. — I have breakfast at work – Nutella toast (using the wheat bread I bought yesterday and bring to work) with banana.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch I brought from home.

3 p.m. — I have snacks at work throughout the day — pretzels, Starbursts, chips. We are pretty good at re-stocking snacks for the office every couple of weeks.

5:45 p.m. — I walk to Target after work for some new shampoo and mascara. I also end up buying a fancy hair oil and hair ties. Unless you go with a list, that is what Target does to you. $36.12

6:30 p.m. — I’m doing laundry next door since we don’t have a machine. It's $3.75 a load. The dryer is absolutely terrible, so it takes 1.5 hours and $3! And my clothes are still wet. $6.75

7 to 8:30 p.m. — I sit at the café and read, plan, organize, mostly browse for new hiking boots online while my laundry is going next door. I don’t buy anything because, as mentioned before, it’s cash only (and I barely ever have cash).

9 p.m. — I make dinner consisting of sweet potatoes, chicken, and veggies. I pack half for lunch tomorrow. I do this almost every night. It makes buying lunch at work so much less tempting, and it so easy to do!

9:30 p.m. — I have a separate account and card called Aspiration. It’s a Visa Debit card you can use for free internationally with no fees. Basically I have it for travel. I transfer $61.77 to it. I usually transfer about $20 a paycheck, so around $40 a month! I don’t touch this money — and it accrues interest!

Daily Total: $42.87

Day 4

9 a.m. — Breakfast at work: coffee and avocado with toast I keep in the fridge.

11 a.m. — Snack from the office a coworker brought in (pastries!).

1:30 p.m. — Lunch I packed from dinner last night — sweet potatoes, chicken, and veggies.

4 p.m. — Banana from my desk. I also make a payment on one of my student loans I pay after the 1st or 15th of the month. $72.81. This is already in my aforementioned budget of $400/month towards loans.

6 p.m. — I head to REI after work. I get on the bus for 2 stops (free with my metro/transit card) then walk the rest of the way. I went looking for hiking boots, and end up buying a hammock — a great investment nonetheless! $107

7:15 p.m. — My friend drives us to the Mission for Mexican. We go to a famous place with a line out the door that only takes cash — I don’t have any, and he’s a…friend?! Maybe it’s a date, I’m not sure. He pays for two delicious tacos and chips with salsa.

8:30 p.m. — He drives me home (super nice since it is kind of far) so I don’t have to take public transit.

9:15 p.m. — I eat some cookie dough, do a face mask, read and relax, and call it a night.

Daily Total: $107

Day 5
7:15 a.m. — Cup of coffee from the Keurig at my apartment. It’s a Trader Joe's “To Go” kind with milk and sugar already in it.

8:30 a.m. — Walk to work as I do every day, and have a breakfast I make there.

12:45 p.m. — My lunch is a salad I packed this morning with spinach, cheese, cucumbers, avocado, chicken, and croutons (I eat a similar salad probably 2-3 times a week).

2:30 p.m. — I thought I lost my Clipper card (the San Francisco public-transit card) last week so I blocked it. Now I have to walk downtown and get a new one; it costs $5 but I am able to recover my $40 that was on the old one! $5

3:15 p.m. — Stop at CVS on the way back for plantation chips and kombucha. Do I need this? Nope, but I just walked 30 minutes and want a snack. $5.21

6 p.m. — My friend invites me to go to a food-and-drink event at a museum after work. It’s a last-minute invite, tickets are $15, plus Ubers there and back, and I’m tired. I politely decline.

6:30 p.m. — Of course I end up shopping instead. I get some very cute, basic staples from H&M: a shirt, pants, and sneakers for only $38.05.

8 p.m. — I arrive home and make pasta for dinner, with enough for lunch tomorrow. Then make cookies with my roommate from cookie dough she has.

9:30 p.m. — I spend some time updating my personal budget/ finances I organize using Excel to see how much I reasonably have for the weekend. I also decide to deposit a check from the IRS that I've had for a while. They made a mistake on my tax returns, so I received an amended return of $600. This goes directly into my savings account!

Daily Total: $48.26

Day 6

8 a.m. — I make coffee and eggs at home.

10:30 a.m. — $200 goes through from direct deposits to my student loans, taken the 15th of every month. This is already accounted for in my budget.

12 p.m. — I register for a fall, neighborhood kickball league down the street. This is in my (planned) budget because I just canceled my $59.95 a month gym membership! So I spend an extra $18.04 for the eight-week, co-ed Kickball League. $77.99

1 p.m. — Lunch: other half of pasta I made from dinner last night.

5:45 p.m. — I go to Sephora after work, to try on some things but mostly for fun and to get ready for the night. I run into a coworker who says she does the same thing all the time, and I actually don’t buy anything!

7 p.m. — Dinner at home: veggie burger and leftover fried rice.

9 p.m. — My friends are having a party, and they’ve already made ‘jungle juice,' so I don’t need to bring any alcohol. I head over, then to some bars. I don’t buy any drinks out.

2:30 a.m. — I take an Uber home, but I also have to cancel one that is taking too long. $12

Daily Total: $89.99

Day 7


12 p.m. — I sleep in and don’t do (or feel like doing) much. It’s rare that I sleep in on a Saturday, but we all need to sometimes. I make eggs at home.

4 p.m. — I walk over to my friend’s house; she has already ordered a pizza and shares some.

8 p.m. — I make a quick trip to the grocery store by her house, get a coffee, milk, and mac 'n' cheese for dinner. $7.51

10:30 p.m. — We head out to my friend's to pregame, I pay for the Uber there. There’s already alcohol there so we are set for a while. $5.45

11 p.m. — I buy my friend and I drinks at the bar we walk to from the pregame. $18

1 a.m. — A few of us take a cab to another bar closer to my house. I throw $10 cash in for shots here. From here we can (and actually do!) walk home. I end up staying at my neighbor’s house instead of walking the extra block to my place...oops! $10

Daily Total: $40.96
5 of 9
A woman working as a nanny and dog sitter on the side, waiting to close on a condo with her sister.

Industry: Education Non-Profit
Location: Live in Alexandria, VA, work in Washington, D.C.
Salary: $44,100
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $1,212.03
Age: 29
Roommates: Live at home, closing on a condo at the end of the month!

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $420
Mobile Phone: $43.91
Car Insurance: $33.76
Credit Card: $500
Gym: $35
403B Retirement Fund: $220.50

Day One
5 a.m. — Promised to babysit for a friend’s kids while she runs a race downtown. All three kids are awake and energized by 5:53; I’m on my second cup of coffee.

12 p.m. — Make lunches for the kids: pizza and sandwiches for them, whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana for me. Back to the trampoline for all of us!

1:30 p.m. — The mom gets home, and I do one last fancy braid for the 5-year-old before heading out with my hard-earned $125.

6:30 p.m. — After a nap, I head out to babysit another family. After the kids are in bed, I grab a slice of turkey and a cheese stick from the fridge and catch up on HGTV and The Big Bang Theory.

10:30 p.m. — Parents are home, and my bed is calling my name. Head out with $60 in my pocket!

Daily Total: $0, but earned $185!

Day Two
9 a.m. — Teach Sunday School (5-year-olds are hilarious), then head to Target to do my grocery shopping for the week. Pick up bunch of groceries that are actually on my shopping list (rare), and a new dusky-purple nail polish. $101.07

11:30 a.m. — Pop into Safeway on my way home to pick up Cara cara oranges, another yogurt, and some lemon curd for my mom. $15.65

11:45 a.m. — Realize I am perilously low on gas. Only place around is the super expensive neighborhood Exxon. Cringe as I put in three gallons. $9.14

2:30 p.m. — My sister and I are buying a condo. She’s finished with work and wants to meet up and check out Ikea — no buying, just research! I buy an app from iTunes while we sit in traffic. $1.99

6 p.m. — We pick up a blue chevron welcome mat, a set of mixing bowls, a colander, and a fabulous black-and-white tray, but overall are showing a lot of restraint — until we hit the As Is room. Two queen beds at a deep discount is too much of a bargain to pass up. I walk out with a $419 bed for $129. Two days before pay day, so this one goes on my credit card. $173.69

6:45 p.m. — After wrestling five huge flat packs into my sister’s CRV, I pick up my car and fill the tank on the way home. $22.33

Daily Total: $323.87

Day Three
7 a.m. — Grab a yogurt, orange, and a container of leftover enchilada filling as I head out to work. I make a French press coffee at work with International Delight Almond Joy creamer that’s at my desk.

11 a.m. — Quick call to our loan officer to see how things are going. Today is the day our financial contingency expires, and our last chance to pull out of the contract without defaulting. My family is confident that it will come through, but I’m nervous. She assures me that we’ll hear from them today.

12:15 p.m. — Check my email and see that Colin Jost is coming to the Arlington Drafthouse, $25 per ticket. Text my sister to see if she wants to go, then buy the tickets without waiting for a response. I owe her some money anyway, so these are on me. $53.50

3 p.m. — Send an email to the loan processor to check in. Yes, I am a crazy person.

3:45 p.m. — Leave work to catch a ride with dad. Carpool is a major benefit of living at home — we only work four blocks from each other.

4 p.m. — Email from the bank. Loan approved!

6:30 p.m. — Dinner with the family. We go to Cheesetique and split a cheeseboard, then follow it up with custard from the Dairy Godmother. All food courtesy of mom and dad, and my day-before-payday wallet is very grateful!

Daily Total: $53.50

Day Four
7 a.m. — Yogurt and French press again, plus a mid-morning hard-boiled egg.

12:30 p.m. — Payday! I hop online and put $400 in the joint account toward mortgage and bills for our first payment due next month ($1,283.82), and $250 to my credit card, plus my mobile phone payment goes out — $43.91. Bookbub lets me know that a Bill Bryson book is on sale on Amazon Kindle for $1.99 — I’m sold. While I’m on Amazon, I check out wedding registries for my cousin and my friend. Cards Against Humanity for my cousin’s fiancée’s shower and some wine glasses and charms for the friend set me back $73.39. Amazon Prime free shipping is amazing, plus my sister and I will split the cost of the gifts. Total (besides monthly costs and savings): $75.38

6:15 p.m. — Leave work late and not interested in going home and cooking. Sister and I are on the same page, so she stops at Del Ray Pizza and picks up dinner — salad and tater tots, thank you very much. We sit on the couch to eat and catch up on late night shows.

Daily Total: $75.38

Day Five
6:45 a.m. — Metro has been shut down since midnight last night, so dad and I carpool to work early. Yogurt again, coffee again. Most of my meetings today will be canceled because people can’t get to work without the metro. Might be a double-coffee situation.

10:35 a.m. — Definitely need a second pot of coffee. Running low on grounds, add them to AnyList. Snapchat a shot of my full French press to my friend who’s been commiserating with me.

2 p.m. — Someone put out Tagalongs. I am having the other half of my salad from last night and a diet A&W that I had at my desk, all the while trying to ignore the cookies. Check my email and BookBub gets me again — A Prayer for Owen Meany for $1.99.

3:30 p.m. — Walk about a mile to the end of the bus line to get a seat since the commuting is so crazy today. Snap some pictures by the White House. Bus is $4, but I have money on my SmartTrip card so I guess it doesn’t count?

6 p.m. — My sister and I make dinner out of stuff we bought over the weekend — branzino, salad, and sauteed green beans. Our whole family eats together while we watch The Voice.

Daily Total: $1.99

Day Six
6:45 a.m. — I’m dog sitting for a friend today, so I wake up early to fold the laundry I did last night and finish packing. I drive in to work since I’ll need my car later, and opt for the garage across the street which is $7 cheaper than what they charge in my building. $12

8:45 a.m. — Notification on my phone: Ulta is having a huge sale, and I looked through and put calendar alerts on the days I want to buy something. Today is the half-price Performance Peel by Exuviance, so I’ll get it for $37.50, not $75. I add my eye-makeup remover and a cleansing oil I’ve been wanting to try, because Neutrogena is buy one, get one 50% off. Free samples and shipping, plus 50 points in my Ulta account! $53.52

1 p.m. — BookBub got me again. I may need to cancel this email. $2.99

6 p.m. — Get to the apartment where we’re dog sitting. The owner left us $200 for the week. Puppy time + money = win!

7 p.m. — Sister picks up dinner ingredients: eggs, red and green onion, cream cheese, bacon, and hash browns. She forgets the salmon but our bagel omelettes are pretty good anyway.

Daily Total: $68.51

Day Seven
6:50 a.m. — Drive to work again, so I have to pay $12 for parking. Worth it to not deal with the fiasco that’s been public transit this week. Totally spaced on packing breakfast or lunch, so I’ll have to raid my food drawer at work — good news, apple cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast and either Thai curry soup or Pop-Tarts for lunch! $12

4 p.m. — Pick up my sister and head to Pentagon Row. We want to check out a couch that my mom saw at World Market. We don’t adore the sofa, but I do grab a bottle of wine for book club. We also pop in to Harris Teeter for some groceries: ingredients for mushroom risotto and roasted Brussels sprouts, yum! $78.46

Daily Total: $90.46
6 of 9
A recent California transplant visiting Hollywood tourist spots and prepping for a job interview.

Industry: Advertising Project Management
Location: Lives in Newport Beach, CA, works in Huntington Beach, CA
Salary: $40,000 + annual bonus (varies)
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): ~ $1,250 (after taxes & 401(k) contributions
Age: 26
Roommates: 1 (Boyfriend)

Monthly Expenses
Rent/Utilities/Internet: $750 (my portion paid directly to boyfriend)
Phone Bill: $68 (on my parents plan, paid directly to them)
Car Insurance: $83
Savings: $350 per month ($250 into 401(k) and $100 into savings account)
Spotify Account: $10.81

Day One
8:30 a.m. — I make my usual breakfast smoothie using groceries from last week (frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, and spinach). I am a creature of habit and will probably have this same smoothie every day this week.

12:30 p.m. — Coworkers invite me out to lunch. I typically don’t like to spend money eating out while I’m at work, but I decide to treat myself and join them. We go to Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. I get a salad with salmon instead. $9.17

3:30 p.m. — Start to crave a snack, so I grab a lemonade and chips, FREE from our in-agency café.

5:30 p.m. — I have a job interview later in the week that is two hours away, so I put some gas in my car after work. I always go to the cheap, cash-only gas stations since gas is so expensive on the West Coast. $25

8 p.m. — The boyfriend has to work late, so I make us a late dinner of fajitas with chicken and peppers. We already had the groceries in the apartment from our previous round of shopping.

Daily Total: $34.17

Day Two
8:30 a.m. — Another smoothie with frozen fruit, yogurt, and spinach.

12:30 p.m. — I was terribly lazy last night and didn’t pack a lunch for today, but now I don’t want to spend any money going out. Travesty! I scrounge up an apple, granola bar, chips, and lemonade from the agency café.

2 p.m. — It’s a very slow day at work, so I start browsing the internet for concert tickets. I find a rock festival in June in San Diego with some bands I really want to see, so I buy tickets for the boyfriend and myself. $84.50

7 p.m. — It’s the one year anniversary of my move from Texas to California. The boyfriend and I go out to our favorite local pizza place (Pitfire Pizza) for pizza and beers to celebrate. He sweetly treats. The rest of the evening is spent binge-watching Archer on Netflix and continuing drinking beer we already have back at the apartment.

Daily Total: $84.50


Day Three
7:30 a.m. — I leave for my job interview. Since I’m nervous, I don’t want to upset my stomach with coffee or a big breakfast, so I eat just a few strawberries before heading out.

11:45 a.m. — Interview went well and now that all my adrenaline has worn off I realize I am STARVING. I get a guilty pleasure snack from McDonald's — large French fry and a Dr. Pepper — for my long drive back home. $4.56

4:30 p.m. — I have a bachelorette party to go to soon in NYC and want to grab some new outfit options. Since I’m working from home today I take a break and head to Target. I get a pair of jeans, PJ shorts, and new flats. At least with my Target RedCard I get 5% off my total. $62.80.

7:30 p.m. — It’s been a hectic day, all things considered, so I pick up Chinese food on my way home for the boyfriend and myself. He is really great about paying when we go out on weekend dates, so I return the favor by buying any takeout dinner during the week (which we try to avoid). $28.38

Daily Total: $95.74

Day Four
8 a.m. — For some reason, I’m super early for work, so I treat myself to a latte and whole grain bagel at Starbucks on the way in. I use a gift card that my mom gave me, so it’s free!

12:30 p.m. — The breakfast was pretty filling, so I just munch on free popcorn and lemonade for lunch.

3 p.m. — I am feeling super out of shape lately, so I decide to buy an 18-pack of gym classes. A few months ago, I found a barre place on Groupon that I LOVED, so I decide to buy some full-price classes. I rationalize that (even though they are expensive) if I love the classes maybe I’ll actually go. $180 (OUCH!)

7 p.m. — I make us spaghetti for dinner using ingredients we already have in the apartment.

Daily Total: $180

Day Five
8 a.m. — Another smoothie with frozen fruit, Greek yogurt, and spinach. And, surprisingly, I’m not tired of it yet.

9 a.m. — I am late shipping some items I sold on Ebay (oops!) and discover I am out of shipping supplies. I run by Walmart and pick up packing tape, mailing envelopes, a bag of popcorn, and a six-pack of Sprite. $10.95

3 p.m. — My sister texts my brother and me reminding us that my mom’s birthday is next weekend. Since she’s the only one that lives in the same city, she will pick up a present on all our behalf. I send her some money via Chase QuickPay. $25

7 p.m. — The boyfriend and I decide to have a lazy night in since we both had such a long week. We make baked potatoes using groceries already in the apartment and we rent the final Hunger Games movie from Redbox, which I got for free with an e-mail promo code.

Daily Total: $35.95

Day Six
10 a.m. — My boyfriend has an alternate schedule at work and has to work every Saturday. So when I’m not spending time with friends I take care of my errands. Today I go to Walmart to buy our weekly groceries. I prefer to buy one week of groceries at once so I’m not constantly running to the store. It includes chicken, veggies, fruit, pantry items, beer, and a few other non-food staples, like Ziploc bags and aluminum foil. $98.50

11:30 a.m. — I received an email from Bath & Body Works that they were having a BOGO sale on their candles, which I love. So I head to the mall and I pick up four candles (but technically only pay for two!) and I use a 20% off coupon. $38.88

1 p.m. — Eat a small lunch of ramen noodles and Sprite that I just bought.

4 p.m. — I finally get myself to go to the gym today, so I use the exercise bike at my apartment complex fitness center.

7 p.m. — The boyfriend wants to go watch a game somewhere. We end up at Buffalo Wild Wings and pig out on boneless wings, fries, and beers (cocktails for me). He treats.

Daily Total: $146.38

Day Seven
9 a.m. — Wake up and eat a breakfast of avocado, egg, and toast using the groceries I purchased yesterday. Then, the boyfriend and I head into Hollywood to do some sightseeing. After driving around awhile, we finally find a place to park in a garage. Since he drove, I pay. $12

1 p.m. — We take in the sights at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and look at all the handprints. Then, we head around the corner to eat at Hard Rock Café for lunch. He pays.

4 p.m. — My morbid curiosity leads us down the street to the “Museum of Death,” which has exhibits all about serial killers and famous murders (creepy, right?). I can tell my boyfriend is not into it, so I pay for our tickets. $30

8 p.m. — We FINALLY make it back to our apartment, tons of traffic later. We make chicken, potatoes, and green beans for dinner using groceries we already have.

10 p.m. — I get bored watching TV and start browsing the internet. I buy some aloe vera for my sensitive skin on Amazon (this type of spending happens more often than it should). $13.99

Daily Total: $55.99
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7 of 9
A Denver executive assistant running a foodstagram on the side, booking her wedding venue, and falling asleep during TV shows.

Industry: Executive Assistant, Energy
Age: 27
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $40,000 yearly
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $1,106 per paycheck after retirement, and Roth contributions.
# of roommates: 1, fiancé

Monthly Expenses
Rent & Utilities: $800 (My part of all the bills is included in this amount; I give it to my fiancé, and he pays them all.)
Credit Card Payments: Usually around $300-$500 depending on what I can do. We are planning our wedding, so there have been more things than usual put on my credit cards.
Transportation: $109.66 per month in insurance, $25ish in gas, car is paid off.
Phone Bill: $107.25 (includes Jump program, so I can upgrade my phone every 6 months if I want).
Health Insurance: $8.51 taken from paycheck for health, dental, and vision (company pays 95%).
Apple Storage: $2.99 per month

Day One
6:30 a.m. — Wake up dehydrated and chug a large glass of water while I get ready for work.

8:30 a.m. — Coffee, a Starbucks Frappuccino from the fridge at work. It’s my last one, so I make a mental note to buy more.

2:30 p.m. — I go to Panera for soup and also end up getting half an avocado melt even though I have an avocado in the fridge at work (why am I like this?!). My preggo coworker and I do food runs all the time and switch of paying, It’s my turn this time, and she wants potato soup also. $14.51

2:45 p.m. — I grab gas on the way back, $23.80 to fill up the tank.

3:30 p.m. — The tights I ordered from Dbleudazzled came in the mail! Beyoncé wears them. Yas. Queen. (For the love of god, please don’t google how much they cost.)

5:30 p.m. — The fiancé and I walk across the street to Sprouts for a few things to get us through the week since we have the staples at home. We grab asparagus, broccoli, stuffed mushrooms, watermelon, two Cobb salads for me, and two of their pre-packed meals for him. Shouldn’t have to eat out the rest of the week hypothetically. $28.64 total, but we split groceries. $13.64

6:30 p.m. — I shop online for a few things I need at Ulta, I have a 20% off coupon (woo!) but as I shop I see that the “prestige” brands I’m purchasing do not qualify (boo). I buy ABH Brow Definer ($23) and Murad Anti Aging/Anti Acne Moisturizer (cause I’m at the lucky age where I need both, how swell! $48) and two bottles of Batiste dry Shampoo ($11.99 for both on BOGO sale). $86.87

6:45 p.m. — Fiancé grills steaks (we already had) and asparagus we just bought while I make rice (we already had) and cut up the watermelon. I usually try to pack half our food for lunches before we start eating, then we feast.

8 p.m. — I sip the last glass of my Skinny Girl Margarita and settle on the couch in preparation for the new episode of Real Housewives.

10 p.m. — Fiancé wakes me up on the couch, I missed the entire episode. Bed time.

Daily Total: $138.82

Day Two
6:30 a.m. — I wake up and realize I forgot to get coffee at the store last night. That was a bad choice.

7:30 a.m. — I stop on my way to work and grab a four-pack of Starbucks Frappuccinos for the week and some bananas, 'cause they look delicious. $6.36

11:30 a.m. — I cut up half of the avocado I had in the fridge at work and add it to my Cobb salad (effing delicious, BTW). I finish it off with a mini Kit Kat from the office candy jar.

5:30 p.m. — Hey remember that thing I said yesterday about not having to eat out for the rest of the week? Well it’s #NationalTacoDay and my fiancé and I run a foodstagram so this is obviously a holiday that needs to be celebrated. I have three fried tacos with rice, beans, and a giant azul margarita that treats me just right. Fiancé has an asada burrito and a Coke. I pay this time since I was the one that wanted the content for our site. $42 including tip.

7:30 p.m. — Do some chores around the house, work on some social media growth, then bedtime at 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $48.36

Day Three
6:30 a.m. — Water is my favorite thing in the morning!

8 a.m. — I grab a Frappuccino from the fridge at work and more water.

11 a.m. — Heat up the leftover steak, asparagus, and rice I packed up the other night and eat that for lunch while I keep working at my desk.

1:30 p.m. — Hungry again, I buy a loaded breakfast sandwich meal from Jack in the Box and try on amazingly heinous '80s wedding dresses at Goodwill on my lunch break. Denver holds the world record for the largest zombie crawl and I’m going this year as a zombie bride. I figure it will creep people out since our actual wedding is coming up. $6.05

5:30 p.m. — I sip rosé while cooking some Cajun shrimp alfredo with egg noodles from stuff we already have at home and pack half for our lunches before we eat.

7 p.m. — I ordered early bird tickets to a Halloween party last month because they are cheaper if you order them early, and because they include a Dining Out Passbook (two-for-one entrees at local restaurants) and I thought that would be a perfect give-away to our followers. I finally received the coupon code to order the $99 Passbook at no charge.

9:30 p.m. — Sometimes, when we try to eat small dinners, we get hungry again and go on food runs for garbage way too late at night. Fiancé grabs a 20-piece chicken nugget meal from McDonald's that we share, he pays. Then we lay in bed and binge-watch Broad City until we fall asleep.

Daily Total: $6.05

Day Four
8 a.m. — Coffee from the fridge at work and a text from a friend for a last-minute invite to the Maroon 5 concert tonight! SCORE! Uh, I wish I did some laundry. I have nothing cute to wear.

11 a.m. — I heat up my leftover shrimp Alfredo.

1 p.m. — World Market is having a killer sale on the wine I like, so I head over 'cause I need something to offer my friend to pregame with before the concert tonight. Well guess what?! Not all World Markets carry alcohol, so that was a waste of my time. Target is next door, so I pop in and grab two shirts for options tonight. $41.20

2:30 p.m. — YES! I returned a couple things to NastyGal, and the credit just hit my account (+$72). Also: banana snack.

4 p.m. — I eat my other Cobb salad and the other half of my avocado from the other day.

5 p.m. — I stop on my way home to get some dranks. I buy a bottle of sparkling rosé and a bottle of prosecco (do you know how much it hurts to spend $13.99 on something you were going to pay $5.99 for earlier in the day?). $29.71

6:30 p.m. — My friend arrives, and fiancé opens the rosé for us. Unfortunately, the bottle of rosé had been shaken somewhere down the line and most of it ends up on the ceiling and the floor. I carefully open the prosecco; it pops just fine.

7:30 p.m. — We arrive at the concert, but the opener is not really our jam so we walk laps around the Pepsi Center while scoping out all the foods. First stop: super nachos to share and a beer for her; I pay ($16.50), then she grabs a chicken and waffle sandwich to split and pays. Next, we stop for more dranks: I get white wine, and she gets another Blue Moon, I pay ($20.25 with tip). Last, I buy us a dessert taco to share; we might as well just live our best lives! ($4.75) Total: $41.50

12:01 a.m. — I request our wedding venue online. I had to wait to book the date exactly one year before because it is a public venue run through Denver Parks and Rec. My wedding planner is in Iceland, so she gave me her business credit card to use while she is away, but the site did not ask me to pay! (Panic attack.)

1:30 a.m. — I try to sleep but I am so freaked out that I didn’t reserve the date properly.

Daily Total: $112.41

Day Five
6:30 a.m. — I wake up tired, hungover, and in a panic about the venue. TGIF.

8:01 a.m. — Preggo brings doughnuts to the office so there is something positive about the morning! I start emailing and calling every Parks and Rec contact I can find; I get an email back explaining that I submit the request and then once my request is accepted I will be sent another email telling me how to pay. This gives me a slight glimmer of relief. I call and am told that three requests came in after midnight! I shriek internally when she tells me mine was the first one; she has to call the other two hopefuls and tell them they didn’t get it. I feel a bit bad about that as I drink my last coffee from the fridge.

12 p.m. — Work is cray today. Boss has me order him and the CFO lunch and says I can order food too. Score, free Jimmy John’s ham and cheese.

2 p.m. — Off work so I decide to go to the mall: Winter is coming and I need some pants. I fuckin' hate pants. I buy a fab cape jacket from Forever 21, some black over-the-knee socks, and a pair of black jeans ($57) I also buy a pair of jeans at Hollister (I have always been a smaller person so teen brands fit me well; it’s a blessing and a curse.) ($27.04) I am hungry of course but it's Friyay and I wanna eat dinner with Bae. I grab a pressed juice and hope it will hold me over till dinner ($4.64). $88.68

3:30 p.m. — There is a T-mobile in the mall, so I pay the tax for an iPhone 7. The Jump program I have spaces the rest of the cost out on my monthly bill. $63.49

5 p.m. — Fiancé calls me when he gets off work and says his stomach hurts and I should just eat something. Sigh. I get teriyaki chicken, rice and veggies from the mall and pack up the other half to bring home. Fiancé eats it as soon as I get there. Sigh. $6.48

6 p.m. — It’s payday. I pay $200 on one credit card and $300 on the other. We end up doing laundry and sitting around being lazy all night. It's perfect.

Daily Total: $158.65

Day Six
8 a.m. — There is a Starbucks across the street from our house so fiancé takes my card and buys me a salted caramel Frappuccino and a bacon gouda sammie, and himself a chai latte and a sausage sammie. $19.01

11:30 a.m. — A friend is having twins (not to be confused with Preggo at work, nearly all of my friends are pregnant rn.) and I offered to help her with her shower today. I run to Walgreens for a baby bag and tissue paper ($10.18), since I had ordered diapers and a couple outfits off her registry a while back. I pick up her cupcakes (she had pre-paid for) at a local bakery and drop them off at her new house. It is beyond gorgeous, ultra modern, and has one of those doors that span the entire front of the house so the transition from her living room to her front yard is seamless. We do some last-min decorating/plating food/tidying/etc., and I run home to change. $10.18

4 p.m. — The baby shower is so beautiful; all of the food was amazing, and she had the most lovely guests and received the sweetest gifts. What could be cuter than twin girls?!

10 p.m. — Social media meet up tonight: We head to Punch Bowl Social, and I rent a ping pong table and grab us a couple drinks ($29). As the night winds down we chat about how hard it can be to move to a new city alone and make friends as an adult. $29

12 a.m. — We make plans to meet again soon. It has been a long day, so I call it early.

Daily Total: $58.19

Day Seven
10:30 a.m. — Lazy Sundays call for amazing brunches, amiright? We walk to Denver Biscuit Company for “The Franklin”: a biscuit sandwich with fried chicken, bacon, a fried egg, cheddar and completely smothered in country gravy. I also get a mimosa, 'cause brunch. Fiancé pays.

12 p.m. — When we get home I see I have the email confirmation about my wedding venue! I pay the $210 deposit on my wedding planner’s card to reserve our date and I can FINALLY relax about it.

2:30 p.m. — After a food coma nap, we jump in our neighbor’s car and head to Rock Creek Farm to pick out pumpkins. We get two traditional ones, a green fairytale, a pie pumpkin, a mini white, and a small gourd. I also snag some corn out of the maze. Oh and pumpkin bread and water. $23

5:30 p.m. — Fiancé and I walk to sushi and just make happy hour. Drinks are BOGO, so we each get prosecco and rosé and order four rolls to share, plus gyoza. $58.79 with tip.

7 p.m. — We make it home in time for Westworld and eat nearly the entire pumpkin bread because it is so amazingly fresh.

8 p.m. — Fiancé wakes me up on the couch, I missed the entire episode. Bedtime.

Daily Total: $81.79
8 of 9
A woman in Atlanta working three jobs to pay off her car and saving for grad school.

Industry: Education, high school teacher
Age: 27
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Salary: $37,500 + about $3,000 extra income from summer jobs
Paycheck Amount (1x a month): $3,099.33 before things come out.
# of roommates: 1 boyfriend and 1 dog.

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $0. My boyfriend and I share an apartment, and he pays rent ($1,150) so that I can focus on paying off my car and grad school. He has no debt, so he is very generous here.
Loan Payments: $500/month to student loans. This is way more than the minimum, but I am trying to knock them out.
Utilities: $250 — I give my boyfriend a flat rate each month for utilities. I pay for almost all the utilities, since I don’t contribute to rent.
Transportation: $415/month car payment plus $75 insurance.
Phone Bill: $30/month on my parents' plan (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
Health Insurance: $90/month from my paycheck. Teachers get awesome and cheap health coverage.
Savings:
$143.23 automatically comes out of my check for retirement. (The state adds $340.64 a month to that. Teaching has its perks.) As far as emergency funds, the amount varies monthly depending on what I can spare.
Gym: $30/month.
Alarm System: $25/month.

Day One

9 a.m. — I am attending a conference at a hotel today. I wake up late and don’t realize until I am in the car that my pants are covered in dog hair, so the first thing I do is head to the gift shop and try to purchase a lint roller. I find one, take it to the register, the lady tells me it is FOURTEEN DOLLARS so I immediately put it back on the shelf. I will spend the day covered in dog hair and regretting that I hit snooze.

10:30 a.m. — They offer free breakfast at the conference, but I didn’t want to wake up early enough for it, so I grab a late breakfast with a friend after my first session. I have a sandwich and a drink for $6.78

12 p.m. — Lunch is provided: A chicken and pasta dish, a salad, and dessert. Free lunch is nice, but it was VERY underwhelming.

2:45 p.m. — I run out after lunch to visit Office Depot. They are having an amazing sale and they offer a discount to teachers! I get two full bags of stuff (some for me, some for my students) which would normally cost $60. I only spend $12.76.

4:30 p.m. — My last session at the conference is over, and I immediately head to the grocery store. I do all the shopping for my boyfriend and I. I try to keep our weekly grocery budget under $50. Two stores are right next to my house so I always check their apps before going to see who has better deals on the items I need. I pick up produce, bread, organic milk, eggs, meatballs for pasta, chicken broth, cereal, granola bars, etc. I spend $41.44 and get $1.70 back on rebate apps. It ends up being $39.74.

Daily Total: $59.28


Day Two
8 a.m. — I eat a breakfast scramble that I made myself and head back to the conference. We are going on a field trip today! Basically, just an off-site session.

11:30 a.m. — Lunch is served by the site we are visiting. It’s AMAZING. Quinoa salad, kale salad, turkey meatballs, and chia pudding. I eat until I am stuffed.

12 p.m. — The conference is over and I head to my other job! No more free meals, but at least I will make some money.

5:10 p.m. — A friend and I are going to a kickboxing class. I have to be there by 5:40, and my gas light comes on. I am not even that mad, though, because I am kind of starving. Stop at a gas station and spend $28.05 on gas + $3.96 on snacks (a cheese stick and a lemonade). $32.01

5:40 p.m. — Kickboxing is free because we bought a Groupon. The Groupon was $30 for unlimited classes for 30 days. The guy tries to get us to buy a membership, but I have to politely decline — it's $200 a month!

7:45 p.m. — I make it home and I am starving. I make a salad, eat the whole thing, and am still hungry 10 minutes later so I have some cereal. What a weird dinner...

Daily Total: $32.01

Day Three
7:15 a.m. — I am on the road to work while also eating a banana. When I get to the office, I eat a breakfast scramble I made earlier.

12 p.m. — I eat lunch as I run out the door to another job. YES I literally work ANOTHER job during my lunch hour some days. I tutor a homeschool student nearby. Teacher, office assistant, tutor: That’s me. I finish up my sandwich and some water as I pull into the student’s driveway. It’s boring, but it does the job.

3:30 p.m. — I take a break from a really stressful task to eat a string cheese and get some water. I have been really trying to pack more meals and snacks from home so I keep a few things in the office refrigerator that I can grab in a bind.

5:20 p.m. — I leave work late because I am finishing a project. I need to swing by the mall on the way home, but I am so hungry. I drive-through Chik-Fil-A for an eight-piece grilled nugget and lemonade. $5.01

6 p.m. — I came to the mall to pick up a conditioner at Lush and a tea diffuser at Teavana (I lost mine!). Somehow, this turns into me spending $50.26 at Lush. This happens every time I come to Lush which is why I only come like, four times per year. I head over to Teavana and get the mid-price diffuser and an iced tea to go. The Teavana stop sets me back $19.20. Make it out of the mall spending $69.46

8 p.m. — I make it home, and my boyfriend has the crockpot plugged in, re-heating some vegetable soup I made the night before. There is beef in the soup, but it got a little overcooked, so I pick around it and just eat the veggies. I eat a bowl while watching Broad City. I am so tired and still sore from kickboxing, so I head to bed shortly thereafter.

Daily Total: $74.47


Day Four
8:10 a.m. — I totally packed a breakfast today, but my friend asks if I want to go downstairs to the café for a bagel. I go down with her and get a blueberry bagel with cream cheese and a drink. $3.83

10:20 a.m. — Coffee break! Free coffee in the break room at work.

12 p.m. — A friend and I decide to grab lunch. We deliberate for five minutes before finally deciding on Panera. Neither one of us is super hungry. I get half of a flatbread and half of a Greek salad for $8.97. I can’t finish it, so I pack the rest for dinner. I’m also having a sugar craving so I grab a cookie on my way out. $11

6 p.m. — Kickboxing again even though I am still so sore. They charge $1 if you borrow a pair of gloves, but I don’t have cash so my friend covers me.

7:40 p.m. — I am going to a friend’s house tonight for a joint birthday. I stop by the liquor store to buy them each a birthday bottle. $37.43

8:30 p.m. — I left my Panera leftovers in the fridge at work so I scramble three eggs with cheese and wash them down with a beer. Gross.

10:30 p.m. — I head to the party and have a few drinks before we leave to head to another friend’s house. At the next house, I nurse a beer because I need to sober up to drive soon.

1:30 a.m. — Home, chugging water, and immediately heading to bed.

Daily Total: $52.26

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — I sleep in and when I wake up, I chug more water. After about age 25, I have to take a ton of preventative measures to avoid a hangover from even just a few beers. I get moving and have a banana plus I scramble more eggs with cheese. I am normally not this into eggs, but they are easy and fast.

11 a.m. — I have been traveling all summer and I have three bags to finish unpacking and a ton of laundry to do. I get started on my chores while watching some Hulu.

8 p.m. — We were going to go see a local band play tonight, but a two-minute conversation with my boyfriend confirms that neither one of us is interested in leaving the house at all tonight.

9 p.m. — Pizza for dinner.

11 p.m. — A glass of chardonnay from a bottle we had on hand. I feel like I earned it since my house is nearly spotless. Tomorrow I have to finish folding the last bit of laundry. We climb into bed. Freshly washed sheets are a game changer!

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

11 a.m. — Oops, I set my alarm for 10:30, but I kept hitting snooze. I finally roll out of bed and into the shower.

12:20 p.m. — I am late to meeting my friends at brunch, and they couldn’t be seated until everyone arrived. I feel like a bad friend. We get a table and order mimosas and an appetizer to split. I get a pomegranate mimosa that I immediately regret. It’s way too sweet and way too tart all at once. Definitely not worth $12. For my meal, I order the eggs Benedict with potatoes. I eat half and pack the rest up. It’s amazing, but I am so full. $28.44

2 p.m. — I pick up my car from the valet. A quick Google search tells me I should tip between $4 and $10. (“Adulting” is just a code word for “googling normal life stuff.”) I tip him $4 because he literally has to walk 10 steps to pull it around. I don’t even understand why this place has a valet. $4

2:15 p.m. — The brunch restaurant was right by Trader Joe’s, so I pop in for some fresh flowers and staple items (staple item = cold brew). $21.86

3:30 p.m. — I am home and I finish my laundry while watching a TV movie.

7:30 p.m. — My boyfriend wants Mexican food. There is a place right by our house that we like, so we go there. He is a lot hungrier than I am, since he didn’t eat a giant brunch. I eat some fajita meat and veggies and pack the rest up. We both have beers. He treats.

9 p.m. — We go to a popular area that has a few bars and restaurants and walk around for about an hour to let our meals settle. It’s so freaking hot and humid in Georgia even though it’s nighttime. We pop into a bar, and he has two beers and I just have a water. Boyfriend pays.

12 p.m. — Bedtime!

Daily Total: $54.30

Day Seven
7:30 a.m. — I am dragging and traffic is awful and I can already tell this is going to be a Monday.

8:10 a.m. — Coffee, coffee, coffee + some peppermint tea. Both are free from the office. The peppermint tea makes me feel a little better.

12 p.m. — My Panera leftovers are still in the fridge at work. I pull them out to find that my salad is looking severely wilted. I eat the leftover chicken flatbread.

1 p.m. — That was not a satisfying lunch, and I’m hungry again. I go downstairs to the café and buy a tuna sandwich and a drink, which comes with chips. I eat 75% of the sandwich before I get grossed out because I bite into something crunchy…maybe a bone? Ew. I throw the rest away. I stick the chips in my desk drawer. I know that I will be happy they are there for some future carb craving. $8.54

4 p.m. — I Venmo my coworker, because she is hosting our team from work at her house this coming weekend. Significant others and spouses are invited, so I pay for the boyfriend too. $20.

5:30 p.m. — I desperately need a car wash. We went to the beach over a week ago, so I feel like my car is covered in salt, and the inside is full of sand and dog hair. I go to a self-service car wash. They are cheaper and they do a better job. I spend $3 on the wash and $1 on the vacuum. My car is sparkling! $4

7 p.m. — Cereal for dinner even though I have a fridge full of leftovers. I just don’t want to cook at all.

Daily Total: $32.54
9 of 9
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