A Week In Denver, CO, On A $50,000 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 policy aide who makes $50,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on climbing shoes.
Occupation: Policy Aide
Industry: Government
Age: 23
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck (1x/month): $3,224
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $693, which includes water, trash, and electricity. (I live with my boyfriend and another roommate who is a friend. We split the rent evenly three ways.)
Student Loan Payments: ~$600 (I pay $587.03 toward a private student loan and $40-50$ of my federal loan every month.)
Hulu: $12. (I usually split it will my roommates. Sometimes I forget and let it slide.)
Cell Phone: $0. (I'm on my parents' plan but really need to start paying them!)
Health Insurance: $0. (Also on my parents' plan and trying to wait until I'm 26 before I get my own.)
Climbing Gym: $75 for a monthly membership. (My boyfriend really likes to climb and I am starting to get into it. Will see how many times I go this month and if I want to continue going. Our apartment has a gym, but climbing is such a good workout and is more rewarding.)
Spotify: $16 for the family plan. (My boyfriend splits it with me if I remember to request money from him.)

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Wake up to my alarm and an email letting me know that it's time to pay rent. I check my bank account and it also happens to be payday! I decide to pay rent tomorrow, on the first of the month. I make a cup of tea, brush my teeth, kiss my boyfriend goodbye as he leaves for work, and do my usual routine of catching up on news and eating breakfast, getting dressed, and doing my makeup.
7:40 a.m. — I am lucky that Denver has a free bus that takes you from one side of downtown to the other. Public transportation is awesome but free public transportation is even better!
12:30 p.m. — Lunch time. I try to take my lunches as late as I can or else I'll need a snack around 3. Lunch today is a leftover turkey and pepper burrito bowl from dinner last night. It's actually pretty tasty as leftovers, and satisfying.
5:30 p.m. — I usually leave the office around 5, and it's 5:30 by the time I get home. I'm already hungry! Decide to skip the gym today because I really pushed myself climbing the night before. Boyfriend comes home around 6 o'clock, and we start making dinner: whole-wheat pasta with mushrooms and a salad. That's essentially all we have in the fridge and we decide to go grocery shopping after we eat.
7:45 p.m. — Grocery shopping wasn't as bad as I expected, and we even bought a few items that are not on our usual shopping list. This time we picked up chicken thighs, chicken breasts, a whole chicken, lunch meat, a bunch of veggies (zucchini, mushrooms, kale, green beans, yams, onions, garlic, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers) almond milk, orange juice, granola, beans, rice, and a few snacks for a Super Bowl party we are having this weekend! We shop at Sprouts, which has amazing deals on produce and great organic snacks. I know we are going to have to buy a few other things for our Super Bowl party this weekend but I'm totally ready for that. I put the groceries on my credit card and my boyfriend will send me money and split the bill with me. $77
8:30 p.m. — We get home after a stressful trip to Walgreens, where my boyfriend had to deal with insurance issues when getting his medicine. We end up ranting to each other about single-payer healthcare and how the U.S. needs to move towards it. We munch on grapes while putting away the groceries, and later watch Food Network in bed.
9:30 p.m. — My boyfriend convinces me to buy climbing shoes. I started climbing with him earlier this month, and I've gone three times so far. I enjoy it, even though I am terrible. I also found out that I have a small fear of heights, but I'm slowly getting over it and learning to trust the mat when I fall off the wall. We do bouldering at the gym and it's a great way to spend time together. He pushes me to try things that are out of my comfort zone and I love him for that. I order the shoes online and after shipping and tax, they come out to $51.61. Not bad for my first pair of climbing shoes. $51.61
Daily Total: $128.61

Day Two

5:50 a.m. — This is the time my boyfriend's alarm usually goes off, but he decides to drive to work instead of taking the bus today. (He works in Boulder.) He sleeps in and we have quality cuddle time.
7:10 a.m. — I finally wake up. My bosses are out this morning so I let myself come into work late. Usually that means going to the gym in our apartment in the morning, but I would rather work out in the evening today. I eat granola with almond milk, drink my tea, and watch the Today show while getting ready. My lunch is already packed for today (leftover pasta), and I put grapes in a Tupperware. Head out at 8 a.m.!
11 a.m. — I remember that I need to pay rent today and log in to pay online — so easy. It is much cheaper to live with three people, but my boyfriend and I are definitely ready to move into our own place. Our lease ends in August and I've been daydreaming and browsing available houses online. We like our apartment, but want backyard space at our next place.
11:30 a.m. — Make myself green tea that I have at my desk, already feeling ready for lunch. I ate my grapes as a snack earlier in the day. I try to eat healthier five days out of the week and splurge (financially and health-wise) on the weekends. I fill up my water bottle, hoping that my hunger will stay at bay for another hour or so.
12 p.m. — I check my credit card bill since I am not being very productive at work. I have a really large bill for the month, mostly because I had a few big expenses. My boyfriend had to get an avalanche set for backcountry skiing from REI, and we put it on my REI credit card since I get a ton of cash back from REI purchases. (He paid me $309 earlier in the week, so I'm using that money to pay part of the bill now that it has transferred to my bank.) I also bought my boyfriend an early birthday present: tickets to Pod Save America live. They were $125 each and I got two because I am definitely going! Along with a few coffee purchases from last month, it all added up to $777.67. My payment isn't due until later this month, but I would rather be early — especially since I only get paid once a month. $777.67
1:10 p.m. — Heat up my leftover pasta from last night. I usually bring veggies and salad but it's gloomy and cold today and having carbs feels nice. I eat at my desk while catching up on work and watching a Rose McGowan interview. When it is warm out, I like to eat outside, but winters usually mean eating at my desk. Not ideal, but it gives me time to catch up on a few things.
4:45 p.m. — Just finished over two hours of back-to-back meetings. So much for eating lunch later in the day because I am still hungryyyy. I snack on the small stash of nuts in my desk drawer to make it through the rest of the day. I'd like to leave by 5 but I still have lots of work to do!
5:45 p.m. — Made it home where a few packages are waiting: one from H&M, and my climbing shoes! I ordered clothes from H&M a while ago and got the cutest apricot striped sweater, an oversized cardigan, a ribbed black sweater, and Chelsea boots. Unfortunately, my climbing shoes are way too small. Bummer. Now I have to figure out how to exchange them for a bigger size.
6:30 p.m. — My boyfriend gets home from work and we cook a quick dinner of eggplant and chickpea stew in a spiced tomato sauce. We eat that with leftover rice and watch the local news on the couch. Even though my climbing shoes are too small, I really want to go to the climbing gym. We digest and head over there.
7:30 p.m. — I rent a pair of climbing shoes ($6) to try a new problem, and I finish it on my fourth try! I also buy climbing chalk ($2) that will last us forever (and I feel bad because I've been using my boyfriend's a lot). We end up staying at the gym until about 9:15 p.m., working on a few new problems and getting nice and exhausted. $8
9:45 p.m. — We get home and while I'm in the shower, I realize how hungry I am. I tell my boyfriend and he makes me a rice cake with peanut butter and raspberry jam. I eat, read a new book (The Goldfinch), and decompress. So ready to fall asleep!
Daily Total: $785.67

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Waking up is hard today. I want to hit snooze but I need to get to work on time considering I got there late yesterday. I wake up, make a cup of tea, split an orange with the boyfriend, kiss him goodbye as he heads off to work, and start making breakfast. I know I need a lot of protein to get me through the day today, so I fix up a rice cake with turkey cold cuts and a scrambled egg. I drink tea and eat breakfast while watching the news, and slowly start to get ready for work. The last thing I want to do is change out of my PJs, but I drag myself along. It's "casual" Friday at the office, but I still need to wear something other than blue jeans.
9 a.m. — The Museum of Contemporary Art is having its winter opening celebration party tonight and my friend is a member of the museum, so she snags us tickets. It comes with a free drink ticket and we get to hang out at the museum tonight until after hours, which is pretty cool. The museum is also close to my house, so that cuts down on transportation costs! I send her money on Venmo since she bought the tickets on her card. I also remember that my boyfriend paid me for groceries and coffee, so I transfer $47 back to my checking account from the app. $16.76
10:15 a.m. — Someone brought a bag of goodies to the office. I snag a piece of pumpkin bread.
10:30 a.m. — Totally forgot that I scheduled coffee with a coworker to talk about my future and what type of jobs are next in line for me. We walk over to a coffee shop and she ends up paying. She's a really cool lady and we talk about her experiences being a working mom and focusing on your career and your kids. I'm not there yet, but I'm always interested in what's coming up in my life and how I can make the most of it.
1 p.m. — Lunch time. I am so tempted to go out and grab a big delicious crunchy salad, but I brought leftover eggplant and chickpea stew, so I end up eating that. I also brought tortilla chips for a crunch element (and because we ate all the rice yesterday). It's tasty, but its not exactly what I want, so there might be some snacking later. (I love snacks.)
3:35 p.m. — Stress-eating the rest of the pumpkin bread because of a tight, important deadline that was dropped on me. I tell myself that I can do it and get to work typing as fast as I can.
6 p.m. — I finally get home and the boyfriend made us dinner! Roast chicken with lemon with garlic potatoes and a salad, all of which is incredibly delicious. (And of course, I eat too much.) I get dressed for the night out at the museum with my friend and watch New Girl while I wait for her to let me know she's on her way. The museum is a five-minute walk from my house, so I meet her there.
10 p.m. — The Museum of Contemporary Art event is amazing, and the weather isn't so bad outside so we drink the beers that come with our tickets at the rooftop bar. After the museum, we walk over to a speakeasy style bar and restaurant for a cocktail. My boyfriend meets up with us there to hangout. I order an incredible cocktail with cognac, smoked black tea, and lemon simple syrup that tastes like magic ($13). We also order a chef-recommended charcuterie board and a very tasty fried pork appetizer. It's nice to chat and feel fancy at an underground bar! I put the total on my card ($58) but since we split the food, everyone pays me back by the end of the night. Boyfriend and I go home and are out by 12:30 a.m. $39
Daily Total: $55.76

Day Four

9 a.m. — We finally wake up and get out of bed, which turned out to be a slow process. Getting up at 9 a.m. is sleeping in for both of us. I make coffee to bring to the BF to bed, along with a glass of orange juice. I also start making a hash out of the potatoes from yesterday's dinner, eggs, onions, and parsley. We eat, get dressed, and run errands. Today, we need to return my climbing shoes that were too small. I cross my fingers that I find an affordable pair so I can use them today.
11:30 a.m. — I return the climbing shoes that were too small, but can't find any of the right sizes at the store. I'm a little bummed out, but we end up going to an REI in the same area, where I find shoes that fit great and are surprisingly comfortable (for climbing shoes). They're basically twice as expensive as the ones I had to return, but I'm sick of spending money to rent shoes at the gym and I know these will last me a long time. I use my REI credit card, so eventually I will get 15% cash back. $86
12 p.m. — We get to the climbing gym after driving on the busy highway and witnessing two car accidents. Scary! No need to rent shoes this time. Breaking in any new shoe sucks but I tell myself its worth it and try to crush a new problem. No luck, and my boyfriend and I head out to refuel and eat lunch.
12:45 p.m. — We go to an amazing, authentic hole-in-the-wall near the climbing gym called Tacos del Mexico. It is pretty busy for the lunch hour, but we end up sitting at the bar and having a great time watching the organized chaos of the kitchen. I get three tostadas, one with carnitas and two with chicken. The boyfriend gets a carnitas torta, which I of course have a bite of. I can't finish all my tostadas and give my boyfriend the rest. (I think that this is why he loves me, he always gets to eat whatever I can't fit!) $15 (including tip)
1:30 p.m. — We end up going back to the climbing gym and I finish the problem that I was working on for a while. Eventually, we make it home after stopping at several barber shops for my boyfriend to get a haircut. (They are all too busy to take walk-ins.) We get home, shower, and lay around for a bit.
5:30 p.m. — We go out to run errands before everyone comes over for the Super Bowl tomorrow. We stop at Whole Foods and buy get three pounds of chicken wings for the game and a drink for the car ride ($10.67). I put it on my card. After, we go to Target and get paper plates and napkins (not environmentally friendly, but will make our lives easier tomorrow), my BB cream, body lotion, ranch and blue cheese, carrots, celery, canned beans, razors, and Cheez-Its for us to eat while binge-watching TV tonight. Boyfriend pays, and we figure out how much I should pay him back. ($9.33) $20
7:30 p.m. — We get home from our errands, really wanting a cozy night in of doing nothing. Our roommate invites us to a party but we politely decline in favor of eating Cheez-Its all night and watching Anthony Bourdain's show Parts Unknown. We get into bed around 11:30.
Daily Total: $121

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Another slow wake up, but I think it's due to the gray, cold day outside. We want to get to the climbing gym by 10:20 so I can make it to a yoga class, so we get out of bed by 9 and put our workout clothes on. My boyfriend makes chilaquiles, or at least his attempt at them! They were still tasty and filled us up. A few cups of coffee later, we are ready to go.
11:45 a.m. — That was a great yoga class! I haven't done yoga in a couple of years so there was definitely a learning curve, but I walk out feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and physically tired. I feel really lucky that the climbing gym has a ton of options in terms of classes, especially since they are all geared towards making you stronger for climbing. I find my boyfriend downstairs and we leave the gym to go pick up a few more things for the Super Bowl party. We go to Sprouts and get salsa, cheese, buffalo sauce, and an apple for me to snack on in the car. He puts it on his card and I pay him back. $7.50
12:45 p.m. — There is a liquor store across the street from the grocery store, so I run in and grab a six-pack of Colorado Ciders to drink during the game. They're expensive, but I let myself splurge because I really don't drink that much and last month was Dry January! $13
4 p.m. — Everyone comes over by 4 and we turn on the game. I make buffalo cauliflower, chicken wings, and guacamole. We wanted to make nachos but everyone was stuffed from all the food our friends brought. It's a great night and the Eagles win! (That definitely made my boyfriend happy.) We tidy up the house once everyone leaves, watch This is Us with my roommate and his girlfriend, and are in bed by 9:45.
Daily Total: $20.50

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Might have to get a coffee today considering how poorly I slept. And my shoulders are killing me from the yoga class, which really was more of a strength-building class. I make a bowl of granola, drink a cup of tea, and get ready for work. Out of the door by 7:35 a.m., which is pretty good.
12 p.m. — Remember that I have part of my federal student loans to pay. I decide to pay $80 for the month of February and March so I don't have to worry about it next month. I feel grumpy about my student loans, and I'm also hungry but not in the mood for the last of the eggplant stew. I eat my leftovers around 12:30, hoping it will keep me going until I leave for the day.
5:10 p.m. — Leave the office and get on the bus. I'm skipping the gym today, which means I can really focus on cooking a delish dinner! We're having seared chicken thighs with lemon and garlic, rice with toasted almonds and dried apricots, and steamed green beans. It's so good — and there are enough leftovers for lunch tomorrow for both of us. (Not to mention that they're leftovers I'm actually excited about.) We eat, hang out, read, watch TV, and end up going to bed way too late. I have an early morning tomorrow!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Early morning because of an off-site meeting starting at 8. (I need to be there by 7:30.) I wake up kind of grumpy, drink my cup of tea, and eat a rice cake with turkey on it. There is a light breakfast at the off-site meeting, which means I will probably drink way too much coffee and eat fruit. I end up taking a Lyft because my boyfriend decided to drive to work today. I don't mind because work will pay for it! ($8.44 expensed)
1:45 p.m. — Was able to hold off on eating lunch until later. Looking forward to not being starving as soon as I get home! (And my leftovers were as good as I thought they were going to be.)
5:30 p.m. — Get home exhausted. I make dinner while my boyfriend takes the bus home, which takes about an hour and a half. Tonight, we are eating veggie soup that I made earlier in the week, and I cook bowtie pasta to add to it. We eat way too much, but get dressed to go climbing anyway. We make a pit stop so the BF can get a haircut. We make it to the climbing gym, but I don't feel very confident in my abilities to climb today and mostly do strength-building exercises. We drive home around 9:20 and pass out.
Daily Total: $0
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