A Week In Rockville, MD, On A $55,000 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 marketing analyst who makes $55,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on Dippin' Dots at a football game.
Occupation: Marketing Analyst
Industry: Hospitality
Age: 22
Location: Rockville, MD
Salary: $55,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,415
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $900 to split a two-bedroom apartment with one other roommate
Utilities: $70 - $100
Student Loan Payments: $1,000
All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Membership: $35 (reimbursed by work)
Spotify Family: $15. (I share with my boyfriend.)
Groovebook: $3 for a monthly photo book subscription
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Day One

12 p.m. — My boyfriend and I wake up after sleeping in; he's visiting me this weekend from school. He's a fifth-year senior (I'm jealous) and lives about three hours away. I usually visit him, but this weekend we're going to watch the Ravens play in Baltimore. We finally get up and head out to breakfast before we drive up. I get breakfast tacos, he gets an omelet, and we both get iced coffees. The bill is about $30; he picks it up.
3 p.m. — My boyfriend and I check into the hotel we're staying at tonight before the football game tomorrow. I work for a hotel company and get a pretty great employee discount. I get 50% off, making the room rate $99 (normally $200!). I splurged on this hotel a little; it's nicer than where we would normally stay, but the tickets for the football game were an early Christmas gift for my boyfriend and I want it to be special. After taxes and fees, a daily "resort fee" of $9.95, and parking for one night ($18), the grand total is $142.87. Splurging pays off: We get a complimentary bottle of wine at check-in! $142.87
5:30 p.m. — I sent my mom tons of pictures of our hotel, and she tells me she wants to pay for us to have a nice dinner out! We're staying right in Inner Harbor, so there are tons of cute restaurants all within walking distance. She deposits $100 into my bank account, which is extremely generous of her. My boyfriend and I stop at the wine and cheese event the hotel is hosting on our way out to eat. We each get a glass of sangria and cheese, and then head out to eat. We walk around and survey our options, eventually landing at a burger restaurant and bar. It's really crowded, but somehow we're seated right away. We both order burgers, and each have a couple of beers while we watch college football. The bill comes to $89.09, which comes out of the account my mom deposited money into.
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9 p.m. — We head back to the hotel. I'm exhausted! We get back in time for the hotel's nightcap event: s'mores and Grand Marnier. I make a s'more and my boyfriend sips some Grand Marnier. We head back to the room tipsy and head to bed. My boyfriend wants to make sure we're up early to start tailgating before the football game tomorrow.
Daily Total: $142.87

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I wake up and get packed up and dressed for the game. I wish we were staying another night; this hotel is amazing! We head out to the breakfast spread, which has locally baked pastries, fresh fruit parfaits, and fresh juices. I grab an almond croissant, an oatmeal and yogurt parfait, and a cup of coffee. We finish eating and order an Uber. I figured it would be just as expensive to drive to the stadium and park, so I leave my car at the hotel and we hop in the Uber. $11.16
10:30 a.m. — We arrive at a bar that one of our friends recommended. We've never been to a Ravens game before and we're actually rooting for the opposing team. This bar is cool; there's an outdoor area with a DJ and booths selling drinks. It's a little chilly and they're selling spiked hot apple cider. I order one of those and my boyfriend gets a beer. It's cash only and I have no cash, so he pays. We have Orange Crushes and more beer, and then walk over to the stadium feeling pretty good!
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1 p.m. — We get to the stadium just in time for kickoff. As we go through security, I learn that the NFL doesn't allow bags bigger than your hand inside the stadium, and mine is too big. They tell me I can put it in a locker outside the stadium, or throw it out. Ugh. We don't want to get out of line and then wait in it again. It was a cheap bag, so I toss it, but I'm not happy about this. How do you not give advance notice on the tickets for something like that?! We head up to our section and buy a few beers before finding our seats. $17.87
1:30 p.m. — We go back down to the concession level for a bathroom break. I see Dippin' Dots and get a serious craving even though it's 40 degrees out. I buy some while my boyfriend is in the bathroom. It's $8, which is ridiculous, but oh well. We grab chicken tenders and fries and my boyfriend gets another beer. I'm done drinking since I'm driving us back to my apartment after the game. $27.62
4 p.m. — The Ravens win. We head out of the game disappointed with the outcome and walk a few blocks away to get away from the craziness of the stadium. There, we grab an Uber to get my car from the hotel. $13.19
6 p.m. — We're on our way back to my apartment and need to figure out what we're doing for dinner. We're exhausted from a long couple of days and decide to order pizza for takeout from a place near my building. He calls and orders ahead and then runs in to get it. I throw him my debit card to pay, and while I'm sitting in the car waiting, I get a notification from my bank that my card was charged nearly $25. For one large pizza! That's kind of crazy to me. Oh well, I'm hungry and the weekend is almost over. We head back, hop in the shower, and watch a few episodes of Suits. $24.72
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Daily Total: $94.56

Day Three

9 a.m. — My boyfriend wakes up at 5 a.m. to drive back to school. I say a groggy goodbye to him and fall back asleep until around 7:30. I finally get up and get ready for work. I have nothing to eat for breakfast because I'm almost never home on the weekends, so I usually only grocery shop on weekdays. (Something that always haunts me on Mondays when there is nothing to eat.) I load $10 onto my Starbucks card and order ahead for a coffee and a bagel with cream cheese to pick up on my way to work. $10
11:30 a.m. — Monday morning is already pretty busy at work. I have a couple of meetings that run through lunch today. I know I'll be starving and cranky if I wait to eat until after it's over, so I head out to grab something early. There's a local, natural grocery store right by our office, which is a blessing and a curse. It's so convenient, but it is not cheap. I manage to find a pre-made ham and cheese wrap that has been discounted, and a brussels sprout and butternut squash salad. I head back to the office to pop the wrap in the fridge and eat a little bit of the salad before I head into my meetings. $7.54
1:30 p.m. — My second meeting wraps up and there are snacks! I snag a pastry and chocolate covered strawberries on the way out, feeling less hungry than I thought I would be. I eventually eat the second half of my sandwich and continue working through the rest of the day.
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5:30 p.m. — I head out of the office, knowing I need to buy groceries so I don't keep buying lunch out. Normally, I go to Safeway or Trader Joe's and can keep my spending for the week around $25 to $30. Today, I don't feel like fighting the traffic to get to TJ's, so I walk back to the little grocery store by work. It is unreasonably expensive, but just so easy. I grab salad mix, chicken breast, an avocado, cucumber, spaghetti squash and pasta sauce, milk and cereal, and frozen eggplant. I'm a little disappointed in myself as I check out. I know I could have gotten the same things at another grocery store for much less. I get home and don't feel like cooking, so I eat leftover pizza from yesterday. $40.92
Daily Total: $58.46

Day Four

8 a.m. — Wake up and realize my direct deposit came into my "spending" bank account. I split my paycheck into two accounts: one that takes care of all of my bills, student loans, and rent. The other is my flex spending account that pays for pretty much everything else. Every time I get paid, I move whatever is left in my spending account over to my savings account. It usually ranges from $50 to $100 every paycheck. I also Venmo my boyfriend $40 for all the drinks he bought on Sunday. He texts me and tells me I didn't need to, but I don't mind. We're pretty flexible with who pays and always make up for it. $40
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12 p.m. — I still have some of my salad and the other half of my sandwich from yesterday's lunch in the fridge. I head down to the café to eat with coworkers but finish my food feeling like it wasn't enough. Luckily, on my way back upstairs, I see that leftovers from a lunch meeting are up for grabs! I fix myself a small bowl of Qdoba leftovers and eat at my desk.
5 p.m. — One of our agencies is in town for a quarterly business review tomorrow. Tonight, they're taking us out to dinner! We head to the restaurant and find out we're early for our table, so a few of my coworkers and I head to the bar to grab a drink. We're seated and I order salmon over brussels sprouts and lentils. It's delicious. My coworkers continue to indulge in drinks but I told myself I was going to work out after this dinner. That doesn't end up happening, but at least I saved myself the calories. On the drive home, I remember I need to cook the chicken I bought yesterday. I make it on the stove while I vacuum and clean up the apartment.
Daily Total: $40

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up and start getting ready for work. I pop an espresso pod in my Verismo machine and start frothing milk to make a latte. I sip it while I put on makeup and get dressed for the day and head to work. I'm really lucky that my commute only consists of a 10-minute drive. A lot of my coworkers live in D.C. and take the metro into Maryland where our office is. I decided to live close to work since I'm still new to the area. A 45-minute commute is considered "normal" here, but I don't know if I could do it. I told myself I'd move into the city when my lease was up, but it's way easier being close to the office.
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10 a.m. — I head upstairs to grab coffee. It's time for our business review with our agency, which brought bagels and pastries from Panera. I grab half a bagel with cream cheese and half of a pastry and sit down for their presentation.
12 p.m. — Lunch arrives! I grab chicken, plantain, beans, and rice, and am so hungry that I eat it too fast. I sit uncomfortably through the rest of the presentation, wishing I hadn't. After the meeting, I work at my desk for the rest of the day. There are leftover beans and rice and I can't stop taking some. I've essentially eaten nothing but carbs today.
5:30 p.m. — I leave the office and head to Marshalls to get gift-wrapping supplies for Christmas presents. I'll be exchanging gifts with my boyfriend and his family over New Years. He's driving home from school and I'm flying out, so I want to give him the gifts now so I don't have to bring them on the plane. Normally, I raid my mom's stockpile of wrapping supplies for the holidays; this is the first year I'm on my own. I grab a roll of wrapping paper, a few gift bags, tags, and ribbon. I also end up getting a candle, a pink bodysuit that's on sale, and an eyeshadow palette that caught my eye while I'm shopping. The total comes out to over $50 (way more than I was expecting) but I have a gift card that brings the total down closer to $20. $21.53
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7 p.m. — I get home and put away my purchases. I'm still kind of full from all the beans and rice, but I grab the last piece of leftover pizza from the fridge (more carbs, ugh). I'm mad at myself that it's Wednesday and I haven't gotten a workout in. Every night, I get home and feel like there aren't enough hours in the day! I hop in the shower, do a load of laundry while watching Grey's Anatomy, and then get to sleep.
Daily Total: $21.53

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for work, and realize while I'm doing my makeup that I'm running low on my favorite foundation. I make a mental note to order more tonight. I eat an orange, make a salad for lunch, and am on my way.
6 p.m. — I'm home from work and head to my apartment's fitness facility to get a quick workout in. Then I head home and make spaghetti squash for dinner. While I eat, I remember that I need to buy more foundation. Ugh. Makeup is one of those items I feel really guilty about splurging on. With an enormous balance of student loan debt, I stress about spending money on any non-essential items. It's hard to find the balance between saving to put extra payments toward my loans, and still having fun without getting too hung up on being in debt. Urban Decay is having a 25% off sale, so I put my foundation in the cart along with my favorite concealer that I've also run out of, but hadn't been planning to repurchase. $42.30
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Daily Total: $42.30

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — It's Friday; woo-hoo! I wake up and get ready for work, make a latte and a salad for lunch, and I'm out the door. I stop to get gas on the way in. I'm driving to visit my boyfriend tonight and need to get gas for the three-hour drive. I usually try to buy it when I'm down there because gas is often at least 20 cents cheaper, but I don't have enough in my tank to get me that far. I fill up just enough to get me where I need to go, and I'll refill up again down there. $13.42
11:30 a.m. — At 11 a.m., I am suddenly starving at my desk. I can't hold out until lunch. I get my salad from the fridge and hope nobody notices. Noon hits and I realize I need second lunch to make it through the day. I swing by the natural grocery store to buy a cup of soup and a wrap — both are discounted. I'll save the wrap for an on-the-go dinner in the car tonight. Head back to the office to eat. $7.43
6 p.m. — Home from work and I take a shower and get ready to hit the road to see my boyfriend. I prefer to wait until traffic dies down so I don't wasting time going nowhere, even if it means I don't get there until later. That also means the demand-based toll prices for the express lanes will be cheaper. When I'm about to leave, I realize I left the wrap I bought earlier for dinner in the fridge at work. Womp. It will be bad by Monday since it was already discounted. I scold myself and figure out what I'll eat instead. I stop at the Safeway by my apartment and pick up a pre-made turkey sandwich and an iced caramel macchiato to keep me awake. I use what's left on my Starbucks card for the coffee and pay for the rest with my debit card. Then, I'm off. $5.31
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8:30 p.m. — I've made it to the land of cheaper gas! It's $2.19 a gallon here compared to $2.40 a gallon in my city. I fill up my tank and make it to my boyfriend's college apartment. While I was on my way, he picked up Captain and Coke for us, so we mix a few drinks. All of his friends are heading out, but we're feeling lazy and it's cold outside, so we stay in. After a long week at work, I feel too old to keep up with college kids even though I just graduated! $20.65
Daily Total: $46.81
Editor's Note: This post has been updated at the request of the diarist.
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