A Week In Bakersfield, CA, On A $50,000 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.

This week, we're featuring moms and their spending during the back-to-school rush. Per Deloitte, in the United States alone, back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year, "touching 29 million households and accounting for $27 billion in sales." Since women are usually responsible for household purchases, wherever they are in the country or in the world, we wanted to see what it's like for women with children of a variety of ages, in a variety of locations.

Today: a quality evaluator who makes $50,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week buying Vans and Converse sneakers for her kids.

Occupation: Innovative Quality Evaluator — fancy title for listening to and auditing calls for bill collectors, and then training with them
Industry: Collections (specifically student loans)
Age: 36
Location: Bakersfield, CA
Salary: $50,000. I'm paid hourly and also receive a bonus, which varies between $1,200 - $4,000/month.
Paycheck (2x/month): $900 after taxes and insurance for my first paycheck, and about $2,500 after taxes, etc. because of my bonus.
Child Support: $500 — $400 current and $100 in arrears — for three kids ages 9, 13, and 17

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,414, including insurance and taxes
Car Payment: $450
Auto Insurance: $135 for two cars (My 17-year-old son drives)
Cell Phone: $240
Cable & Wi-Fi: $91
Electric: $290. I have solar, and I'm on equal payments after my true-up statement this year.
Gas: $20
Water: $100
Gardener: $80. He comes every other week.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Netflix: $11
Gym: $30
Gas: $120 for both cars

9 a.m. — I'm up and not happy about it. My boyfriend recently moved in (five weeks ago), and we have things to get ready for a party tonight.

9:50 a.m. — After listening to me be grumpy, BF goes into the kitchen and makes pancakes and sausage for breakfast. The kids join him, and I can hear them from the bedroom, so I get up and start laundry.

10:40 a.m. — I decide to work on my bedroom in an effort to make sure my boyfriend has plenty of space.

1:40 p.m. — BF asks if my 9-year-old daughter can go for a motorcycle ride; she's been begging all day. He's going to the bank to pay me back for groceries I bought the night before, and they head off!

6 p.m. — We were supposed to be at a party by 6, but it took me this long to finally finish my room and the laundry. After, I had to get ready, so we are only leaving now. We arrive at a party at a coworker's house for couples' Bunco, where we laugh, eat, and drink all night long. Boyfriend slips me $300 for the groceries we bought last night. (I spend $700 average on food each month.) We don't win Bunco, and it costs $20 to play. $20

Daily total: $20
10 a.m. — We offered to take the kids on a little getaway, but they declined. They wanted to stay home and binge Annabelle-related movies in preparation for the new one coming out (with all the junk food they can handle). Boyfriend and I make them a big breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, and bacon, and we settle in.

1:15 p.m. — Between movies, we make more food. Next up is guacamole and root beer floats. We cap everything off with a dinner of chili cheese fries.

8:25 p.m. — Finally cleaned up and in bed for the night, when I realize I need to pay my cell phone bill. I log in and spend the $240. While doing this, I realize I need a bus ticket for my getaway on Friday. It's $19, and the BF pays me back.

Daily total: $0
6:30 a.m. — Boyfriend is flying to visit his kids today, and we are fighting for space in the bathroom. He's retired, so normally this isn't the case. The kids are sleeping as they're still on summer break.

8 a.m. — Make it to work on time, but I'm out of coffee, creamer, and all my work-week snacks. I hatch a plan to have a very early lunch!

11 a.m. — Boyfriend picks me up for lunch before he drives to L.A. to catch his flight. We have chicken shawarma bowls from a local Mediterranean place. He pays.

2:10 p.m. — My coworker/work wife didn't come back from lunch, and it's been a long time since my lunch, so I go for a walk to get motivated again.

5:20 p.m. — Home from work and picking up the kids for back-to-school clothes shopping. We get a great sale on Vans for the boys and Converse for my daughter — buy one, get one half off! Next, we hit up Target and Kohl's. My boys are man-sized — both well over six-feet tall — so they're expensive to shop for! $428.77

7:30 p.m. — Finally home. The kids make dinner tonight (chips and sandwiches) to thank me for getting them new clothes. We binge watch Teen Mom 2 since the boyfriend is gone. I paint my daughter's toenails and chat with her after the boys run off to play video games.

Daily total: $428.77
6:30 a.m. — Boyfriend's cat is scratching to be let out, but I'm leaving soon and he won't be able to get back in, so I tell him no. He poops in his litter box in my room while staring at me. (We haven't introduced him to our two girl cats in the main part of the house, though everyone's fixed.) His poo stinks, and I'm annoyed he did that to me, but I'll be late if I don't get going.

7:15 a.m. — Make it on time to work at 7 only to remember I'm still out of coffee pods and creamer. I buy a Diet Coke from the vending machine. $1.25

11 a.m. — Work wife and I run to Hobby Lobby to get a picture board for a coworker who is getting a promotion this month. We want her to have pics of us in her new cube! I pay the $13.40, but my coworker picks up my lunch — an amazing tri-tip salad — in return. It costs about $7. Tri-tip isn't common outside Southern California; it's kind of a barbecued roast. $13.40

1:35 p.m. — Hungry again, so I finish my salad and see that my personal trainer sent me a message saying he'll see me tonight. I don't normally go on Tuesdays, but we talked about changing days, so I'm fine with it. I make plans with coworkers to go see Girls Trip tomorrow night now that I don't have training.

4 p.m. — I'm off! I come home to an empty house. The kids are at their dad's, where they'll spend a few more days of summer vacation; our eldest drove. He and I text back and forth about his car possibly needing repairs and the dentist appointment his dad paid the copay for.

5:30 p.m. — Trainer texts to say he thought today was Wednesday, so he can't see me in an hour after all. I tell him I'm busy so we plan to meet up next week. I grill a steak and clean the pool out. Nice dinner outside of steak and salad while chatting with my mom on the phone.

8:15 p.m. — Settle in bed watching all the Netflix and enjoying all the Wi-Fi bandwidth without my kids hogging the connection! I love them — but no buffering is so nice sometimes.

11 p.m. — My boyfriend and I have been texting for about half an hour, and he tells me to go to bed. I shower and hit the hay! I'm trying to talk myself into getting up early and buying coffee and creamer before work.

Daily Total: $14.65
6 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed early to get to the grocery store to get coffee pods and creamer. Boyfriend's cat stares me down, wondering where his dad is.

7:40 a.m. — Make it to Vons and get the creamer and pods. I steer myself away from buying any other food items and make it to work on time. $12.08

12:30 p.m. — My work wife, the corporate trainer, an operations manager, and I have had it up to here with work. We decide to head to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. Yummy chili verde salad for me! $11.60 (including tip)

5 p.m. — Quitting time! A coworker and I head to go see Girls Trip at the mall. The showing is considered matinee because it starts just before 6. I grab a kid's-sized popcorn, a drink, and a huge soda for my friend since she bought me lunch a few weeks back. $17.50

8:05 p.m. — Home from the movie and starting to get a little hungry. Boyfriend is texting me, and I'm also texting with my 17-year-old son. His senior year starts next week, and there was a mistake on his schedule, but I emailed his guidance counselor and got it resolved earlier today. He says the other kids are good. They're going away to Oregon for a long weekend with their dad and will be back in six days. I need to find something to eat for dinner, watch Big Brother, and order pictures for my photo project. I eat lunchmeat and veggies for a quick dinner.

Daily Total: $41.18
6 a.m. — Boyfriend's cat wakes me up, demanding to be pet. I stumble through the house, tired, and manage to get out the door on time. My cats look at me happily as I leave, as if they're saying, "Aren't we the best cats ever?!" (They are.)

7:45 a.m. — Make it to work on time at 7 and barely have time to answer emails before I have to go across the street for a blood drive. My coworker gives me a chocolate Fiber One Bar, and I woof it down as I walk across the street. I donate blood — two more times and I'll be in the one-gallon club! Score some free cranberry juice.

11 a.m. — Work wife and I head out to the Dollar Tree and CVS to get the last few things for our coworker-friend's promotion gift. I stop into a local sandwich place to buy a half-salad ($4.50). I pay for the CVS trip and my food; my work wife pays for the Dollar Tree. $7.88

1 p.m. — Time for our weekly conference call. The main manager isn't on the call this week so we finish in 30 minutes instead of the allotted 60. We consider going to break early and working through the rest of the afternoon, but decide to work on the gift for our coworker first. After, we get back to work.

4 p.m. — Quitting time! Work wife offers to make me a shirt for a preseason NFL game I'm going to in L.A. this weekend. We go to a t-shirt store and get a baseball tee. $7.50

5:15 p.m. — Head out to get a massage and my eyebrows waxed. I have a gift card for my massage but after tips and all I end up spending $25. I should get gas, but I'm leaving town tomorrow, and if I wait until we get back, my boyfriend will pump it for me. (I dread this task since it's as hot as 110 degrees here.) Later at home, I eat pepperoni and cheese for dinner. $25

Daily Total: $40.38
6 a.m. — Regretting my decision to ask for an early shift so I could leave the office early, but trying to get motivated. I washed my hair last night, so I curl it and leave putting on makeup until I get to work. I load the dishwasher, wash a load of laundry, grab an Atkins breakfast bowl to take to work, and head out the door.

7 a.m. — I'm at work on time, making coffee for my work wife and me, and heating up the bowl. I eat and put on makeup while listening to calls and returning emails.

9:30 a.m. — Load up 100 backpacks that our company raised money for through employee donations. They're part of a local rescue mission, so that parents going through rehab can have supplies for their kids to go to school. The mission treats it as a huge photo op so that others will be encouraged to donate. Our office manager asks us to take videos and pictures, to counter the perception that all bill collectors are mean. (We really aren't. Answer your phone!) It's really hot in the chapel, but it's humbling to see these men and women who are working so hard to stay sober.

11 a.m. — Back at work. A coworker has run to get another shirt because we ruined the first one for my NFL game. She tells me to buy her lunch next week to pay her back.

12:30 p.m. — We have our coworker-friend come to the conference room, and she's terrified. We surprise her with a lunch of pizza and sodas to celebrate her promotion. She loves the board we made for her cube! Then, work wife and I sneak into the janitors closet to iron on the words on my shirt. Success! It says: "I may not be perfect ... but at least I'm not a Cowboys fan!" Fingers crossed the Rams fans approve. I'm a 49ers fan myself.

2 p.m. — I'm home and running around trying to order an Uber, switch over laundry, clean the cats' litter boxes, and feed and water them before I go. I grab a few last-minute things and head out the door as my Uber driver pulls up. She's a super sweet, older woman, and she tells me to catch my breath and make sure I remembered everything I need. We check the status of my bus to L.A. and realize it's late; the BF texts to tell me that his plane is delayed, too. She offers to take me through a Starbucks to make my wait better, but I decline. She's awesome, so I give her a five-star rating and leave her a $3 tip on the $10.98 Uber ride. I don't pay for this as it is charged to my boyfriend; he pays for all things travel related.

3:05 p.m. — The bus is really late, so I grab some snacks from the vending machines. I've been on a strict diet for six months, and I've lost 50 pounds, but I'm off the bandwagon starting with my friend's celebration — plus, I'll be drinking all weekend on vacation. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Famous Amos Cookies, and a Diet Coke it is. Prices are high at the bus station. $5.50

5:15 p.m. — My bus should get to L.A. in 45 minutes, but we definitely won't be there by then. I think I'll be lucky if I have two more hours on this bus. Boyfriend lands and asks for the hotel address, so he can check us in and rest before dinner.

6 p.m. — Boyfriend says the hotel I chose is super shady and insists we cancel and stay somewhere else. I scrounge around online and find a spot at the Hyatt Regency via Priceline; $130 a night for three nights! He pays.

9 p.m. — I'm exhausted and don't want to go to the hotel restaurant, so I order room service — a yummy burger and fries to split, plus two drinks. BF is showering when room service comes, and I charge it to the room.

11:30 p.m. — We look online for fun ideas for Sunday. We decide to visit the Queen Mary in Long Beach and head to bed. It's been a very long week!

Daily Total: $5.50
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