A Week In Centennial, CO, On A $78,000 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a Buyer working in Aerospace who makes $78,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on sweet potato tater tots.

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Occupation: Buyer
Industry: Aerospace
Age: 37
Location: Centennial, CO
Salary: $78,000
Boyfriend's Salary: He is not salaried, he works based on commission see below
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,040
Boyfriend's Paycheck: (2x/week): $700- $3,000 (he's a mechanic and his pay is considered commission)
Gender Identity: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,700 (for two-bed apartment, including water/trash)
Car Payment/Insurance: $1,250
Credit Cards: $850 ($18,000 total between two credit cards and a 0% interest furniture loan)
Tool Truck Payments For Boyfriend: $100
Storage Unit: $40
Cell Phone: $140
Hulu/Netflix/Spotify: $40 (share HBO and CBS w/ sister)
Student Loans: $500 ($45,000 total. Boyfriend is on an income-based repayment plan, which is why his is so low)
Utilities: $100-250
Retirement: My company puts 12% of my salary in a SEP-IRA without my contribution. Boyfriend has a pension plan paid for by his part-time work. We plan to increase this by 100% when my boyfriend's new job sorts itself out. His current job offers no retirement options.
Savings: We try for $500 a month, depends entirely on my boyfriend's paycheck.
Amazon Prime: $70 a year, we use my boyfriend's work email to claim student Prime
Renters Insurance: $180 annual
Health/Dental Insurance: $250 a month pre-tax and it covers both of us.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — My boyfriend, B.'s, alarm goes off at 5:30 and he gets up to take his shower. He really doesn't need to wake up this early but he likes to sit on the toilet and goof off on his phone for an hour every morning. I prefer to sleep like a sane person.

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I feed the cats and the fish and head to my bathroom (separate bathrooms saved our relationship). It's only Tuesday but I feel exhausted. I weigh myself then brush my teeth and wash my face. I put on a cheap Neutrogena moisturizer/SPF combo, some basic make-up, and my wig. I lost most of my hair upfront about five years ago. I'd love to find a cure but after many doctors' visits and bloodwork, they just shrug and say deal with it. So wig it is!

6:30 a.m. — After getting dressed and doing pet chores I head to the kitchen and make our lunches for the day. B. is finally getting out of the shower and getting dressed for his day so the timing works out for a smooch. B. is working two jobs right now, he works 7-4 as a mechanic and then goes to a local community college and teaches until 9. The college told him there is a full-time teaching job opening in the Fall of 2020 and he has a very good shot at getting it, so we're crossing our fingers. We're both tired of him being a mechanic. The pay is crap and it can be 60 hours a week. It sucks. Quick commute to work. I walk in at 7:10 and hope the busy body doesn't notice that I'm a smidge late. But honestly, I'm always late. This is probably early.

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9 a.m. — I eat my boring Greek yogurt and honey for breakfast. Coworker, L., and I start a kvetching conversation about how expensive it is to live in Denver. She doesn't mind because she comes from a much cheaper but more terrible place to live, so she's happy. I disagree! Our apartment lease is up and they want to increase our rent $200 a month this April. Ugh.

1 p.m. — Finally heat up my chicken and broccoli for lunch. I eat it with mustard. I've been hungry since 11 but since I am supposed to drink 80 ounces of water a day so I've been beating it back by constantly drinking water. And peeing. So much peeing. Because our office has no breakroom I eat at my desk. Coworker, L., heats up her soup and we chat over the cube walls.

2 p.m. — B. texts me a picture of his W-2 so I go online and fill out his tax forms for him. He has zero time to do this himself right now so I take care of it. I also check for my W-2's and score, they're all online! So I do mine as well. We're getting about $2,000 in refunds but after paying for car tags and the annual renters insurance, we're only going to be putting a small dent into our credit cards. I pay $17 to do my taxes through an online service because I made too much for the free version. $17

3 p.m. — Work gets crazy and I'm ordering stuff and filling out forms like crazy. This always happens right before I leave for the day. I send off an email requesting approval on something and call it a day. I have a bunch of stuff that needs to get dropped off at our storage unit so I make a quick stop there on the way home and empty out my car. I stop at the grocery store on the way home and get some stuff for chicken tacos. I get a rotisserie chicken, black beans, taco sauce, cilantro, and mushrooms, fish, and cauliflower for tomorrow. $39.18

5:30 p.m. — I make it home, get changed, feed the pets, and do my exercise routine. It's not anything specific just a circuit of squats, push-ups, lunges, crunches, and arm stuff with weights. Afterward, I take a shower and get changed into PJs. I put on another layer of moisturizer, some hair fortifying cream that makes my wig stick better to my remaining hair. I want to branch out into nicer skincare routines but I have a million bottles of cheap stuff that have collected over the years. But soon I'll be able to try out The Ordinary products I've been dying to try.

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7 p.m. — I make my chicken tacos. I try to cheer myself up; soon I'll need new clothes! I've lost 15 lbs already since December 1st and I need to be more positive, but sometimes life sucks. I put on Netflix's Cheer and try not to cry when they <spoiler>. But go team! I drink more water because my life is drinking water right now.

9:30 p.m. — B. is late so I sneak a peek at his phone location using the tracker thing on our iPhones. He texts right as I'm snooping that he's leaving work now. After he gets home he tells me he got pulled over on the way home but luckily got away with a warning. I got a speeding ticket a few months ago so I'm very jealous that he just gets a warning. He goes to take another shower and wash off the grease. I unpack his lunch and get ready for bed while he showers.

11 p.m. — After lighting a joint to share (this is Colorado…), we start an episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel show. I hate it but he loves it so I half-watch while I play around on my phone. I look up his bank account and he spent $12 on lunch today. Because he eats a sandwich for dinner every night, for lunch he gets to go out with the guys and get a break from work. It's expensive but it's a treat for him. The joint does the trick and I'm getting super tired, so I go to bed while he finishes the episode. $12

Daily Total: $68.18

Day Two

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6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I didn't even hear B.'s alarm so I must have been really tired. I go through my normal routine, making our lunches and feeding the cats and fish. I settle on a black long sleeve shirt and some jeans for the day. After work, I'm heading back to the storage unit to drop off even more stuff and it is all dirty car parts (so many car parts!), so I don't want to wear anything too nice. Luckily my work doesn't care about what we wear.

7 a.m. — Make it to work on time for once! Coworker L. is out today and I'm sad, I don't have anyone to talk to. After wrapping up stuff from yesterday that was waiting on approvals, I email my friend, M., and ask if she wants to meet up for lunch this weekend.

9 a.m. — I eat my yogurt and honey, but I add in a banana. I'll regret it when I'm hungry tonight but I love bananas. M. emails back and says yes to lunch this weekend, and suggests we go check out a boutique too. Most of the time boutique clothes mean really pricey and not my size, but I say sure.

1 p.m. — I'm heating up more chicken and mustard for lunch. I chat with coworker L. over our internal message software and we both agree this weekend is going to be amazing to be outside (70 and sunny), but it's supposed to snow on Monday so screw that.

4 p.m. — Free from work finally. I decide to stop by my apartment complex office and try to talk reason with them about the rent increase. She has to call her regional manager to get approval which sounds like an excuse, but there isn't much I can do except wait. Arrrg. I get home and do my pet stuff and exercise. I hate exercise so much. I have never gotten a surge of endorphins from exercise, not once. I'm convinced it's a lie. Afterward, I check and B. spent $25 on lunch today. Oooph. That's a lot. But I try to reason that this is his only escape and he doesn't spend that much too often. But ooph all the same. $25

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6 p.m. — After my shower, I start a load of laundry and begin the new Project Runway knockoff on Netflix, Next in Fashion. It's mindless fun and just what I needed. After the first episode, I heat up some mushrooms, spinach, and black beans to make tacos again. I have plenty of chicken leftover from yesterday but I'm just not feeling it.

9:30 p.m. — B. gets home and it's mostly the same routine. I get ready for bed while he rinses off, then we watch an episode of silly superhumans doing time travel or something, and I read twitter about Next in Fashion. Twitter agrees with me that episode one sucks.

Daily Total: $25

Day Three

3 a.m. — I wake up at 3 and cannot go back to sleep. Everything seems to ache so sleeping is impossible. I stare at the ceiling for a few hours until the alarm goes off. I know today is going to suck but not much I can do about that now. Insomnia is terrible.

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6 a.m. — Normal routine morning except I feel puffy and kind of gross.

8 a.m. — I have a meeting at 8:15 this morning, and it's in a different building a few miles from my office. I get to work at my normal 7:10 but then drive over to the other building at 8. Afterward, I head back to my office and grab my yogurt and honey and banana, and I know I'm not feeling well because all I want is a bagel.

1 p.m. — Someone called for a last-minute meeting at 12:30. I get assigned about two hours' worth of work to be done ASAP. I get an email that there is leftover lunch from a sales meeting in the breakroom on another floor. I think maybe my boring chicken and broccoli can wait another day and go scope it out. It is chicken and broccoli leftovers. Sigh. The world is telling me something. I grab some anyway and head back to my desk to start on my new assignment.

5 p.m. — I worked way late today. I didn't even realize the time. I still feel crappy so I decide to pass on my work out tonight. I am just not feeling it. After my shower, I start up the last episodes of Next in Fashion and decide to roast my cauliflower and eat it with some hummus. While it's roasting, I see on Twitter that one of my favorite podcasts has a new t-shirt line and I buy one that says "It was capitalism all along" for $30.72. I'm hoping it fits! After eating half the cauliflower, I make a kitchen sink omelet with blacks beans, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, and feta for some protein. I'm stuffed. $30.72

7 p.m. — While half-watching TV, I check out Poshmark and make an offer on two pairs of shoes. They're an expensive brand that I usually can't afford, but since it's Poshmark, it's more in my budget. I try to get nicer shoes to dress up my daily jeans at work so I don't look like a total slob, which I am. Both say they've never been worn and I'm crossing my fingers that is true because used shoes are gross. $48.98

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10 p.m. — B. finally gets home and he's pooped. So glad its Thursday. I can't wait for this weekend. We discuss some weekend plans and then I head to bed early, like normal.

Daily Total: $79.70

Day Four

5 a.m. — Well I'm up an hour early and there is no going back to sleep for me. I start my morning routine but tiptoe around so I don't wake B. up. The cats are very excited that I'm up early.

6:30 a.m. — And I'm at work! Early even! I wish I was at home in bed! Luckily, I might win some brownie points because our director is also at work early and he sees me walk in. It is busy but everyone finds the time to question my decisions, so when I think something is finally done I have to spend another 20 minutes justifying my thought process. I remember I didn't look up B.'s lunch total from yesterday so I scope out our bank account and it looks like someone else treated him. Nice. Maybe the high lunch yesterday was a payback thing?

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10 a.m. — Coworker L. and I are discussing The Lion King coming to town this summer and I mention B. and I bought tickets a few weeks ago. She really wants to go so I look them up and there is a seat left next to us. Kismet! I buy her a ticket ($63) and tell her it's an early birthday gift. I love going to stuff with a big group of people so really it's a gift to myself. $63

1 p.m. — I was supposed to go out to lunch with a supplier and my new boss, but my new boss is nowhere to be found. Coworker L. and I head out for soup/salad. $14.67

5 p.m. — I head to Kroger to get some groceries for next week. Friday afternoon is when I do all my big weekend chores so B. and I have more time to hang out on the weekends. I get soda and Gatorade (for B., I drink nothing but water now), yogurt, frozen vegetables, cat food, veggie patties, the stuff for overnight oats including peanut butter powder, more spinach, cat food, chicken breasts, milk, conditioner, and olive oil. $112

6 p.m. — I get home and have to juggle grocery bags while walking around insistent and loud cats (there are only two but they swarm). I finally finish the last episodes of Evil (so, so creepy) so I can talk about it tomorrow with M. over lunch. I heat up leftover rotisserie chicken and mushrooms and put them in a tortilla. I'm realizing I eat a lot of tacos. I also do more chores like laundry, dishes, and clean my bathroom. I check the bank and B. spent $6 on lunch today. $6

10 p.m. — B. gets home and he's pooped. He takes his shower and goes right to bed. I stay up doing a paint by numbers picture of a tree but I think I screwed up because the root system is black and that seems wrong?

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Daily Total: $195.67

Day Five

7 a.m. — I'm awake at 7 on a Saturday because of course I am. I'm supposed to meet M. at 11 at her place, so I start watching YouTube videos on cutting my own wigs. I bought a few costume versions last year that I wouldn't mind styling for fancy nights out but I don't want to pay $$$ to get them styled by a professional.

10 a.m. — Crap I spent three hours on my phone? I rush through getting ready and cut up an apple for breakfast. Not the best, but better than nothing!

11 a.m. — I meet M. at her place and we head to the boutique first. Like I thought, all the clothes are size XS so I start browsing the accessories pile. I pick up a cute plaque and a make-up bag for my sister. I know she doesn't wear make-up but maybe she can use the bag for something else. She's been feeling down lately and I wish I could tell her how much I love her, so hopefully, this random gift will cheer her up. After the boutique, M. wants to head to Hobby Lobby. I'm against Hobby Lobby in general but I go along even though I haven't been to one in years. When we get there, I'm shocked at all the décor stuff they have. We spend a few hours browsing everything, and she ends up buying a big milk jug thing that says Paris on it (she will buy anything that says Paris on it…anything) and a cake stand. I don't buy anything. $17.18

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2 p.m. — Finally make it to lunch! We go to a beer/burger bar and I get a turkey burger with blue cheese, sweet potato tater tots, and a cider. We split an order of wings for an appetizer. It's a hot day outside, actually might hit 70 today, and I can't wait for summer. The wings appetizer is huge so I only finish two bites of my burger and I'm full. I do manage to eat the sweet potato tots because I always have room for fried potatoes. $45

3 p.m. — I head home and B. is happy to eat the rest of my turkey burger for a snack. While I was out shopping he went to the dispensary and picked up an ounce of pot ($123) and washed his car ($12). After doing some basic house cleaning we decide to take a lazy warm afternoon nap. $135

8 p.m. — Crap we slept forever. It's too late to grill now, our original plan, so I order Chinese food. The food gets here and I shove B. enough to wake him up. We eat and watch the new Top Gear and the first episodes of Picard. $42

Daily Total: $239.18

Day Six

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1 a.m. — I never stay up this late but I guess a five-hour nap will do that to you. I head to bed and wish B. a good night, he'll be up for a while.

4 a.m. — I wake up to the sliding glass door opening and I immediately think we're getting robbed. But no. B drank waaaay too much and he's drunkenly sitting on our porch watching online videos about fish tanks, at 4 a.m. I swear he only drinks this much every other year or so. I try to gently guide him back inside, but a drunk B. is something to be seen. He insists it's too hot inside (it's not) and that he wouldn't sleep anyway. So I go back to bed and he's on his own. The idiot. Sorry neighbors!

5 a.m. — Apparently he did eventually get tired because I come out to see if he's still okay and he's passed out on the couch. Usually, this type of drinking (which is not common!) leads to vomiting so I try to tiptoe quietly not to wake him up.

5:30 a.m. — Tradition holds and he's throwing up. At least he made it to the bathroom.

9 a.m. — We wake up again and both agree that B. is an idiot for drinking so much last night, even if it's not said out loud. After both our showers and getting ready, we decide to go run some errands. First, we get gas in my car ($35), and then take a huge load of car parts to the storage unit. This load includes a spare car door for our winter beater car that only fits in the back of my SUV. I was not exaggerating when I said we have a gazillion car parts. We could build a Frankenstein car out of all the parts in our storage unit. After that we stop at the local fish store and pick up a test kit ($16.20), then the post office to mail my package to my sister and one to my aunt ($29), then hit the Kroger to get stuff to grill ribs tonight. We get cilantro, corn, more mushrooms, cornbread, and paper towels ($19.98). B. is hungry so we swing by McDonalds to get cheeseburgers for him ($12.99). $113.17

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3 p.m. — B. starts the ribs and we discuss maybe watching the big game on TV, but then decide against it. We'd rather watch a movie. We watch Richard Jewell and Uncut Gems while the ribs cook. Before they're done, we spend about an hour doing fish tank maintenance. Don't ever get a fish tank, you guys. It is 100% not worth it. The ribs take six hours so I snack on some low-calorie cereal.

9 p.m. — We finally eat the ribs, and I chat with my dad over the phone about the game for a few minutes. I wash my wig and make-up brushes and snuggle with the kitties. They're both elderly and kind of hate snuggling now but I do it anyway because they wake me up at 6 a.m. every morning.

11 p.m. — I throw together the ingredients for my overnight oatmeal. It's bedtime and I'm pooped from this weekend, so I hit the sack, making sure to turn on our mattress pad heater on B.'s side so it will be nice and toasty when he gets to bed.

Daily Total: $113.17

Day Seven

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5:30 a.m. — Hello, Monday. We're supposed to get six inches of snow today so after all my morning chores, I dress warmly with a turtleneck, jeans, and hiking boots. I've learned my office will crank up the heat on snow days so I know better than to wear a sweater. I grab the oatmeal I made yesterday. When I get to work I discover the oatmeal is genuinely terrible, and I'm irritated I wasted money on ingredients for something that tastes like floor planks.

1 p.m. — As usual, people called in sick proactively because it's snowing. It gets a little hairy but nothing crazy, and by lunchtime, I'm feeling restless. I brought some soup today instead of my regular chicken. It's carrot and butternut squash and it's not bad for prepackaged soup. At least it doesn't taste like metal.

3 p.m. — I decide to call it early for the day. With the snow as bad as it is, I don't want to be in traffic after 3:30. Plus everyone else left already, including my new boss. I make it home and feed the cats/fish and get a text from B. that classes are canceled, but he has to work till 6 at the dealership. I quickly do my exercise routine and hop in the shower so B. doesn't come home and see me all sweaty and smelly. I finish up watching Next In Fashion and boy, did the wrong person win. Yikes. This show makes me miss Tim Gunn. I check the bank again and B. spent $17 on lunch today, from what looks like a food truck? How do you spend $17 at a food truck? $17

6:30 p.m. — B. gets home and takes a longer shower than normal. This is kind of like a day off for him so he doesn't mind the snow at all. We decide to be lazy and just heat up a frozen pizza. We start watching the new Sabrina and just chill on the couch most of the night. Eventually, I pull out the paint by numbers death tree and start working on it again.

10 p.m. — We're feeling really lazy so we light up a joint and read our phones for an hour or so, then head to bed. Tomorrow the driving will probably be worse and it's going to be freezing cold. We discuss getting better snow tires instead of making credit card payments with our tax return. I really want a new wig and new jeans, not tires. But the adult thing to do would be to pay down our credit cards. We'll figure it out when the money actually hits our account. And we're off to bed. I forgot to preheat our mattress pad and tonight is the worst night to forget because it's so cold, so we cuddle up and try to stay warm until the heat finally kicks in.

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Daily Total: $17

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