A Week In Milwaukee On A $46,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York Mag, for the inspiration.)
Today, a technology copywriter taking care of her nephew and eating lots of snacks.
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Industry: Technology
Age: 30
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Salary: $46,000 (+ husband's $38,000)
Paycheck Amount (Every Two Weeks): $1,250
# of roommates: 2 (husband, 30, and dog, 6)

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,092 (actual payment is $992 + $100 extra toward principal loan amount) for 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath house. My husband and I split the mortgage, so my portion is $546.
Utilities: Energy, $139; internet, $58; water, $60
Transportation: ~$40 for gas
Phone Bill: $0 (I'm on my parents' family plan and they won't let me pay them!)
Gym: $95
Health Insurance: $82.55 (health, dental, and vision just for me)
Savings: $200 automatic transfer from checking to savings (my husband and I have separate checking accounts but a combined savings account)
Car & Homeowners Insurance: ~$200/month


Day One

8:00 a.m. — It's been a busy week, I'm tired AND it's snowing and 30 degrees in April, so I stop and buy a coffee on my way to work to cheer myself up and get energized. I normally make coffee at home during the week, so this is kind of a special treat. I made a smoothie at home with frozen fruit, juice, and protein powder for breakfast at work. $2.25

10:00 a.m. — My smoothie didn't keep me full as long as I expected. I eat the hard-boiled egg I brought to work but was saving for the afternoon.

12:00 p.m. — I usually bring lunch to work every day, but it's the end of the week and we have no leftovers at home, so I head to a bagel shop for a veggie bagel sandwich. I bring it back to work and eat at my desk. $6.14

5:00 p.m. — My husband got home from work early so he had time to walk the dog and feed him. We decide to go to happy hour at a nearby (and expensive) beer bar. We both have two beers. Total comes to $33.58, and my husband picks up the check.

6:30 p.m. — After happy hour, we're starving so we get tacos. If you order three tacos, you get free rice and beans. He has a beer and I have a $5 margarita (house specialty!). I pay. $41.62

8:00 p.m. — Our goal was to go grocery shopping tonight, and we finish dinner in time to head to the natural foods store to stock up for the week before it closes. We alternate who pays for groceries and today is my turn. We buy greens (leaf lettuce, spinach, sprouts), vegetables (sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, celery, etc.), lots of fruit (apples, bananas, oranges) and dairy products (milk, butter, eggs, yogurt). They're having a really good sale on organic canned beans (10 for $10) so we stock up on those as well as dish soap (2 for $5). My husband snuck a six-pack into the cart and I didn't notice until we got to the checkout. This bill is a bit higher than normal but it'll save money on our shopping trips for the next few weeks so I don't mind. $114.24

Total: $164.25

Day Two


7:30 a.m. — I get up earlier than expected for a Saturday and make some coffee. I'm not hungry yet so I just have coffee and water.

9:00 a.m. — There are a few things we go to the conventional grocery store for. Plus my 5-year-old nephew is sleeping over at our house tonight so we get some snacks for him. We buy string cheese, peanuts, crackers, juice, and some other random stuff. $36.77

9:45 a.m. — We stop at the pharmacy to pick up my birth control prescription. It's covered entirely by insurance but I remembered that I need a new Burt's Bees lip balm. $3.47

10:00 a.m. — I am starving by the time we get home. I toast half of a whole wheat bagel, add peanut butter, and drink a bunch of water.

12:00 p.m. — Last week we had planned to make vegetable soup for lunch today so we make that and finish eating just in time for my sister-in-law to drop off my nephew.

1:30 p.m. — My nephew is already hungry so we both have a piece of string cheese and split an apple.

5:30 p.m. — Dinner is individual pita pizzas, apple slices, and milk. All made from ingredients we bought last night.

7:00 p.m. — We watch a movie and eat homemade popcorn made in the air popper.

Total: $40.24

Day Three


6:00 a.m. — I wake up to my nephew telling me that he's hungry. I make a bowl of cereal for him but am not hungry yet, so I brew some coffee.

8:00 a.m. — I toast half of a bagel and add peanut butter.

9:30 a.m. — As promised, my nephew and I walk to a nearby coffee shop to get a hot chocolate for him. We also get a giant cinnamon roll to split and I decide to get a chai tea. $9.54

11:30 a.m. — For lunch for the three of us, I make a box of Annie's macaroni and cheese and slice up some apples. I'm getting really sick of eating apples.

3:00 p.m. — My brother came to pick up my nephew so my husband and I can resume normal life. We head to a brewery for a beer and a snack. We each get a beer and split an order of loaded tater tots. He pays the $18.38 tab.

4:30 p.m. — We don't feel like going home yet so we go to another brewery. We each get one beer and split a third. I pay. $22.00

6:30 p.m. — I'm kind of hungry again but not enough for a whole dinner. We had planned to make spaghetti but decide not to. I snack on cheese and crackers instead. Having my nephew this weekend really messed up my eating schedule.

Total: $31.54


Day Four


8:00 a.m. — I'm tempted to go buy a cup of coffee this morning but I stay strong and make it at home instead. For breakfast, I drink a protein smoothie that I brought from home.

9:45 p.m. — Mid-morning snack is some almonds from my desk drawer.

10:30 a.m. — The almonds didn't cut it and I'm hungry again. I eat a string cheese I brought from home.

12:00 p.m. — Lunch is leftover vegetable soup from day three and water.

12:45 p.m. — It's kinda nice out today so I walk to a nearby deli with a coworker and buy an (unhealthy) desk snack: chocolate covered peanuts. I eat a few when I get back to my desk, of course. $4.04

3:00 p.m. — Afternoon snack of a Noosa blood orange yogurt that I brought from home. This project is making me realize that I snack a lot. On dairy products. I'm a true Wisconsinite!

5:15 p.m. — I'm kind of hungry when I get home, so I eat some cheese and crackers. I'm hoping this will satisfy me until I get home from the gym later.

8:00 p.m. — It's later than I expected when I get home from the gym, but I'm pretty hungry so I make a pita pizza with leftover ingredients from day two.

Total: $4.04

Day Five

8:00 a.m. — I had coffee at home this morning and a smoothie at work that I brought from home.

11:00 a.m. — I snack on a piece of string cheese I brought from home.

12:00 p.m. — Last night while my pizza baked, I prepped my lunch for today. I made a really weird sandwich but it's mysteriously delicious: roasted sweet potato slices, goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, a drizzle of honey, and greens on whole wheat bread. I also eat some chocolate-covered peanuts from my desk drawer (I should not have bought those...).

2:30 p.m. — Carrot sticks for an afternoon snack. I feel so responsible!

5:30 p.m. — My husband leaves to meet up with some friends for drinks but I don't want to go so I stay home, make a scrambled egg sandwich on a bagel with cheese, and then walk the dog.

8:00 p.m. — After prepping my lunch for tomorrow, I'm hungry so I eat a piece of string cheese (god I eat a lot of cheese).

Total: $0

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I drink coffee at home. I fill up my gas tank on the way to work. $30.44

8:00 a.m. — Breakfast at work is a chia pudding thing with oatmeal, cinnamon, and cocoa. I've never made it before and it's okay. Chia seeds have the weirdest texture. Full disclosure: The recipe is from Gwyneth Paltrow's new book that I found online.

11:00 a.m. — After two hours of meetings, I'm starving when I get back to my desk. I eat a handful of almonds and chug some water.

12:00 p.m. — I made that weird (but delicious) sandwich again. Water and a pear to go with it, all brought from home.

2:30 p.m. — Carrot sticks again for an afternoon snack.

5:30 p.m. — When I get home from work, my husband is already cooking veggie stir-fry for dinner, so we're ready to eat early enough to walk the dog AND go to the gym later.

8:30 p.m. — After the gym I'm pretty hungry, so I eat some graham crackers we had in the pantry.

Total: $30.44

Day Seven

8:00 a.m. — Coffee at home and a smoothie with protein powder at work.

10:30 a.m. — I didn't bring a morning snack and I'm out of almonds in my desk drawer. I stop by the cafeteria at work and buy some Ritz crackers. $1.47

1:15 p.m. — The crackers surprisingly kept me full until now. I finally go get my lunch of leftover veggie stir-fry from last night and drink water.

5:30 p.m. — After work, my husband surprises me with some concert tickets for a band we both really like, Caroline Smith with Lorde Freddee. I don't really like going to shows during the workweek, but we have a pretty low-key weekend planned and he got the tickets for free from a coworker. We decide to make a little date night out of it and head to a bar to catch the end of happy hour and get some cheap apps (tater tots, a mini pizza, and spinach artichoke dip...super unhealthy!). The bills is $33.28 and he treats.

7:30 p.m. — I buy us both two beers each at the show. $26

Total: $27.47
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