A Week In Philadelphia On A $57,200 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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

This week, a woman in Philadelphia with a husband in grad school, going on a rare shopping spree at Costco.

Age: 27
Industry: Higher education
Roommates: 1, husband
Salary: $50,000 per year, plus about $600/month from my husband’s weekend job
Paycheck, 1x month (after health insurance for 2 people, 401(k), and discounted subway pass): $2,782.42

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,014
Netflix: $7.99
Student Loans: $178
Utilities: ~$150
Cell phones: $100
1 of 8
Day 1

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and make my husband a breakfast burrito before he goes to work. He’s a grad student, but he has a weekend job and has picked up a lot of extra hours this summer. I debate buying myself breakfast at the coffee shop, but my mom is visiting this weekend and if I wait an hour she’ll probably pay. While I’m waiting, I transfer a few dollars to my credit card. Paying in smaller bits feels less awful. $6

9 a.m. — My mom arrives and brings me a bunch of goodies, like laundry detergent and cat food. I know this weekend will involve a lot of shopping, but we’ve been planning this visit for a while and I saved up some money.

9:30 a.m. — Mom treats me to coffee and an almond croissant, then we head to Costco. I don't have a car, so these Costco and Target trips only happen a few times a year when my mom comes to visit.

11 a.m. — I’ve literally bought everything in Costco: frozen fruit, chicken breast, fancy cheese, protein powder, the list goes on. It's an even split of groceries and home goods. We head back to my house, where I freeze a lot of the food I got. $456

12 p.m. — My mom treats me to lunch at a local dim sum place. We split soup dumplings and spring rolls.

1 p.m. — My mom drives me to Ikea and Target. At Ikea, I buy a TV stand, a lamp, and some kitchen stuff. $43

2 p.m. — Target time! I get string lights for our patio, a scented candle, tampons, potting soil, and a few small grocery items — the groceries are only $15, since I got so much at Costco. $118

3 p.m. — We stop at Pier 1 Imports on the way home so I can buy a chair cushion. $24

4 p.m. — We head back to my house and unpack the car, then set some things up on my patio.

6 p.m. — My husband gets home from work and we all head out to dinner at a local pizza place. We split a margherita pizza and some steamed clams. I pay. $46

Daily Total: $693
2 of 8
Day 2

8:30 a.m. — My mom and I walk downtown and she buys me a latte at Starbucks. My husband leaves for work, taking last night’s leftover pizza with him.

10 a.m. — Back at my house, I make eggs and toast for us and we eat outside. We do a little gardening before my mom heads home.

12 p.m. — After some house-cleaning, I make a protein smoothie and lay around on the couch.

4 p.m. — I’m starving and can’t wait for dinner, so I eat some tortellini from Costco. I put together the Ikea TV stand and rearrange my living room. I make my husband a lunch for the next day.

6 p.m. — Husband gets home from work, I make him some tortellini and then we sit on the patio for the rest of the evening snacking on cheese and crackers.

Daily Total: $0
3 of 8
Day 3

7:30 a.m. — I get up for work, shower, and make a protein smoothie to drink on the subway. I remind my husband to take his lunch with him as I run out the door. He leaves for work around 9:30 and buys subway tokens for the week. $10

9 a.m. — In my office, I have a cup of tea from the tea bags I keep in my desk.

10 a.m. — I eat a Babybel cheese that I brought from home and some almonds from my desk.

12 p.m. — I have a chicken burrito bowl from Costco. It’s surprisingly tasty. I also take a walk to get some fresh air, and resist the temptation to buy a cookie from the coffee shop downstairs.

1 p.m. — I have a meeting across campus, which gives me a strong urge to stop and get iced tea, but I resist.

2:30 p.m. — Back in my office, I eat a Clif Bar while typing up my meeting notes.

5 p.m. — I head home on the subway, but stop to pick up a bottle of wine to have with dinner. We eat chicken breasts with mango quinoa on the patio while discussing our days. I pack the extra for my husband’s lunch. $15

Daily Total: $25
4 of 8
Day 4

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, shower, protein smoothie. I have a class for grad school tonight, so I make sure to pack extra snacks.

9 a.m. — The usual cup of tea while catching up on email.

10:30 a.m. — Almonds and Babybel.

12 p.m. — Another Costco burrito bowl, followed by a walk to pick up my birth control from the pharmacy. I’m so glad it’s free!

1 p.m. — I have to make a bunch of calls this afternoon, so I make a cup of tea to keep my voice fresh.

5 p.m. — I leave the office and stop in the bookstore to browse before my class tonight. I want to get a new notebook, but I haven’t finished my current one yet.

6:30 p.m. — I eat a Clif Bar before class starts. Business statistics is not my favorite way to spend Tuesday nights.

9:30 p.m. — I head home on the subway and make myself some tortellini. My husband plays D&D on Tuesdays and takes an Uber home pretty late. $9

Daily Total: $9
5 of 8
Day 5

7:30 a.m. — The usual. My husband is off today and tomorrow, so I don’t need to remind him to remember his lunch.

9 a.m. — Tea and email.

10:30 a.m. — Almonds and Babybel.

12 p.m. — The last Costco burrito bowl from the package. I’m pretty ready to switch up my lunch routine.

1 p.m. — I want an iced tea before my back-to-back meetings, but the 99-cent tea deal doesn’t start until 3 p.m. so I decide against it.

5 p.m. — Head home. The farmers' market by my house is today, so I do a walk-by, but it looks pretty sad and I don’t buy anything. Dinner is one pot of beef stroganoff, but there aren’t any leftovers so I make myself a chicken breast and mango quinoa for lunch the next day.

Daily Total: $0
6 of 8
Day 6

10 a.m. — My morning is completely usual, but my husband got paid today so I debate getting a cappuccino. I decide against it.

12 p.m. — Chicken and mango quinoa, plus a walk for fresh air. I think about the farmers' market near my job, but I don’t have any cash and don’t feel like taking any out. I stop at CVS to pick up face wash. $7

1 p.m. — A training session and meeting take up my entire afternoon.

5 p.m. — I head home on the subway. I make tortellini with chicken sausage and pack the leftovers for my husband’s lunch. We eat on the patio, and I work on my statistics homework for most of the evening.

Daily Total: $7
7 of 8
Day 7

7:30 to 10 a.m. — The usual morning routine: Smoothie, almonds, Babybel.

12 p.m. — Every other Friday, I splurge and buy sushi for lunch. I get a combo: salad, a spicy tuna roll, a salmon and avocado roll, and an iced green tea. I eat outside on a bench. $12

5 p.m. — I take the subway to my husband’s job, and then we walk home together. We stop for a drink on the way and split a cheese plate. $32

7 p.m. — We have a light dinner on the patio at home; salmon filets and spinach salad. We each have a glass of wine left over from Monday night.

Daily Total: $44
8 of 8
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Have a money diary you'd like to share?
Send it to us at https://you.refinery29.com/submit-money-diary.