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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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