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 looking at Money Diaries during the (often expensive) holiday season to see how people save up — and spend.
Today: an account manager who makes $57,800 per year. She spends some of her money this week on ChapStick and putting air in her tires.
Occupation: Account Manager
Location: Denver, CO
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,640
Housing Costs: $1,100 for a one-bedroom apartment. I live alone.
Loans: $440 for my car payment and insurance
All Other Monthly Expenses
Electric & Gas: ~$75, varies monthly.
Cable & Internet: $83
Credit Card Debt: $600+
401(k): 7% pre-tax deduction, my company matches 6%. I also put 1% into a Roth 401(k).
Health/HSA/Vision/Dental: $165.80 pre-tax
Charitable Donation: $20 out of my check automatically.
Renter's Insurance: $20.25
Cell Phone: $0. I'm on my family's plan and I apply my work cell phone subsidy to their account.
11 a.m. — I wake up and I realize I am in A.'s bed. A. is a guy I am dating and last night we made dinner and watched American Horror Story until about 3 a.m. (More truthfully, he cooked dinner while I drank wine, and he watched AHS while I fell asleep on top of him.) We wake up and he makes us coffee, and we sit on his back porch admiring the fall weather while we drink.
12 p.m. — A. and I decide to enjoy the sunshine, so we take his roommate's dog on a walk. We walk all the way around Sloan's Lake and then some. By the time we get back to his house, we realize we have been walking for two hours!
3 p.m. — Neither of us has eaten today and we are starving. It's the Great American Beer Festival this weekend in Denver, which means every brewery in the city is running specials and all the diehard craft beer drinkers are going nuts. (A. is one of them; I am not.) We decide to ride bikes into downtown and hit up a few local breweries. (A. is big into riding bikes... I am not.) He is cute enough that I will learn to (or at least pretend) to like these things.
4:15 p.m. — First stop is FreshCraft and it is crackin'. Denver has a massive craft beer culture to begin with, but GABF week takes it to a whole new level. We each get a beer — don't ask me what kind — and split an order of wings, chicharrones, and an Italian beef sandwich. We split the tab. $24
5:30 p.m. — We decide to walk the few blocks to Falling Rock Tap House, which is even crazier than FreshCraft. I get whatever beer A. recommends, and he picks up this round. We head to the basement and play free pool for a few hours. I cover our second round. Craft beer, especially these fancy ones being tapped this week, are insanely expensive! $21
8 p.m. — I'm realizing now that the sun has set and we have to ride the four miles home in the dark! We walk back to where we locked up the bikes and begin the journey. A. teases me about not knowing how to use the gears on a mountain bike because I only ride stationary bikes (spinning). Once we get back to his place, we feed the dog and catch the end of the Michigan/Michigan State game. A. suggests we walk to a bar in his neighborhood, but I suggest we stay at his house and watch a movie. He mixes us insanely dirty gin martinis, and I somehow convince him to watch The Break-Up.
11 p.m. — We open a bottle of wine and turn on Zodiac. Just like last night, I fall asleep before I can even drink my wine, and wake up to the credits rolling. Time for bed.
Daily Total: $45
10:15 a.m. — Wake up at A.'s and head home pretty quickly. I've been here since Friday night and I want nothing more than to take a shower. We're not super serious, so we don't leave things at each other's places.
11 a.m. — Once I'm home, I throw my sheets in the washer, brew coffee, and jump in the shower. I smoke some weed and make a list of things I need from Target. I have bananas that have reached their end, so I decide to make banana bread. I also decide it's time to switch up the photos in frames I have around my house, so I upload some to the Walgreens website and order prints for same-day pickup.
12:30 p.m. — I swear, I can never leave Target with only what I came for. I end up buying new pillows for my bed, towel hooks for the bathroom, eggs, brown sugar, hot sauce, shredded cheese, aluminum baking pans, a ceramic baking dish, an eyebrow/eyelash brush, dryer sheets, toothbrushes and a travel case, a dish rack/drainer, cotton balls, and chocolate chips. The Cartwheel app saves me about $3. $65.19
1:45 p.m. — I stop by Walgreens to pick up my photos and grab cherry ChapStick while in the checkout line. $6.19
2:20 p.m. — I walk in my door and realize I forgot sour cream for the banana bread. I run across the street to Whole Foods and buy some. $1.69
2:30 p.m. — Finally, I have everything I think I need. I make two loaves of chocolate-chip banana bread, and make myself a quesadilla for lunch while watching old Will & Grace reruns. As the bread bakes, I put my clean sheets on my bed, and swap out my photos. I try to hang the towel hooks, but realize I will need to borrow a drill from my dad, so I smoke more weed and lay on my couch watching The Good Wife. Alicia Florrick is goals.
6:30 p.m. — I do some online shoe shopping. On Friday, I saw a pair of shoes I already own and love on clearance on Last Call. I have them in tan, but really want to get them in black as I know they will get a lot of use. Even though I love them, I waver. I decide to wait until I get paid; if they are still available on Friday, it is meant to be. I browse Macy's for new black booties, and see they are having a 40% off sale. Combined with an extra 25% off for using my Macy's card, the total ends up being $29. I also see a pair of Nikes I have been eyeing since July are on sale for half price, but they don't have my size. By the time I get my shipping info entered in, the boots are out of stock!
6:45 p.m. — Another guy I'm dating, B., calls and asks if he can cook me dinner tonight. I agree since I have zero food at my house despite going to two grocery stores today, and head down to his place in Capitol Hill. I grab one of the loaves of banana bread to give him.
7:15 p.m. — Parking is free in Capitol Hill since it is a Sunday. He is driving back from the mountains and I beat him to his place, so I stop into the bar in his building and have a Tito's and soda while I wait for him. Once he picks me up, we head to the Queen Soopers in his neighborhood and he buys stuff for dinner. We trade off cooking dinner pretty frequently; when he cooks, he buys the groceries and vice versa. $5
8 p.m. — B. cooks salmon and asparagus, and we spend the night watching Netflix. I really lucked out with not one, but two, guys who can cook!
Daily Total: $78.07
7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I remember that it snowed overnight. Wonderful. I lay in bed with B. for a while before heading out to scrape off my car and get to my house back. The drive is surprisingly not bad, and I spend it jamming out to music in my car.
8:05 a.m. — Coffee at home while I shower and get ready for work.
9:15 a.m. — I'm extremely fortunate to live about five minutes driving from my office, and we have an underground garage. I was the associate of the quarter for Q2, so I even have a reserved spot. I bring the banana bread to my office and eat a slice for breakfast while I check emails. I work all morning on various projects, and eat a handful of Goldfish out of my desk drawer.
12:30 p.m. — I run to the mall on my lunch break. Nordstrom price matches the Nikes, bringing them from $115 to $69.98. I have store credit from a pair of sunglasses they replaced for me last week, which brings my total to $42.86 that I put on my Nordstrom card. At Macy's, I look for the boots that sold out yesterday and have no luck, but I find something similar. I also scope out a pair of riding boots that I wanted to see in person before ordering. At the register, they won't let me use my additional 25% coupon on top of the sale, which annoys me to no end. I buy the booties anyway since I want to wear them tonight ($42.21). On my way out of the mall, I get on the Macy's app and order the booties plus the riding boots and use the extra 25% off coupon they insisted wouldn't work. I'll return the second pair of booties once the come next week. I get a killer deal and pay way less than half for each pair ($120.63 for both). Both Macy's purchases go on my Macy's card. $205.70
1:20 p.m. — On my way back to the office, I stop at my parents' house to borrow a drill and a stud finder from my dad to hang the towel hooks. I also pick up my mail, which includes the aforementioned Marc Jacobs sunglasses. I broke a pair a few weeks ago and since Nordstrom couldn't fix them, they replaced them for me. I say hi to our golden retriever and make a turkey sandwich to eat in the car.
4:30 p.m. — My friend's mom has extra box tickets to see The xx tonight and asks me if I want to go. Uh, yeah! I dip out of work early and run by the liquor store to pick up a bottle of vodka. At home, I make a drink and get ready. $12.95
5:30 p.m. — Uber downtown to the hotel bar we are meeting at. Turns out, my friend's mom has convinced the whole C-suite (which she is part of) that The xx rules; they are now all coming to the show, and bringing a client! We have happy hour in the swanky cocktail bar, and then the CEO decides we need a sit-down dinner, too. I have no idea what this ends up costing, but I can only imagine. After dinner, my friend and I snag an unopened bottle of Chardonnay off the table for the ride up. $9.26
8:45 p.m. — The CEO has arranged a shuttle to take us all to the show. Turns out, it's a Mercedes sprinter van, which he affectionately dubs "the bling wagon." We crank some tunes, crack open the wine, and pass the bottle around.
9:30 p.m. — At the show, the box is catered so drinks are flowing and everyone is having a blast. They open with "Crystalized" — my favorite song. Afterwards, the bling wagon totes us all back to the hotel downtown. I try to Uber home but the app isn't working, so I jump in a Lyft with my friend and spend the night at her place in the Highlands.
Daily Total: $227.91
7:45 a.m. — Both of our phone alarms go off in a painful chorus at the exact same time. I peel myself out of bed and Uber home. Southbound traffic in rush hour is unbelievable. By the time I get home, I decide I'm "sick" today and will work remotely. I wash my face, make some coffee, and climb into bed. In other news, Ryan Seacrest is Kelly Ripa's cohost these days. Da fuq? $13.29
9:15 a.m. — Kelly Ripa's enthusiasm is making me nauseous, so I turn on old Sex and the City reruns and field work emails from my bed.
11 a.m. — By some miracle of god, I find bacon in my fridge. I make that and settle in for a client call.
12:30 p.m. — B. calls and asks if I want to meet him and another one of our friends for lunch. I head down to Cherry Creek and meet them at Bombay Clay Oven where we all get the buffet and split the check three ways. Parking in Cherry Creek is a nightmare, so I park in my friend's office building where she will validate it for me later and save $8. $18.46
2 p.m. — B. and I decide to cross the street to the mall; he needs a belt and I want to look at a ring in David Yurman that I'm thinking about buying myself for my birthday later this year. I buy a Diet Coke and drink it while we walk around. In David Yurman, the salesperson asks me if the ring is on my wish list, and I tell him, "Yes. My birthday wish list." B. then asks how much it costs ($675) and nods his head. I leave the store wondering if he will surprise me with it for my birthday? I would definitely have to stop dating other people after that... $2.37
4:15 p.m. — As we are leaving the mall, I remember I have a client call scheduled for this afternoon. B. asks if he can bring his laundry over to my place (his building charges and I have in unit washer and dryer). He has to run a quick errand, so I stop and grab a drink while I take the client call. Then, I meet him back at his place to help him gather and load everything into his car. $6.50
6 p.m. — Back at my place, B. sets up his computer to work for a bit and I get started on the laundry. My friends think it's weird that I wash his clothes for him, but it's an easy thing to do that he really appreciates. It's just not that big of a deal to me. Plus, this way I can discreetly toss out anything that I'm not a fan of. "Oh, that Sean John t-shirt from 2004? No idea where it went, babe..."
8:15 p.m. — It's Taco Tuesday! B. and I head to Adelita's for $1 tacos, chips, guac, and margaritas. We split the tab. The couple sitting next to us tells us that the ice cream shop next door does $1 ice cream "tacos" as well (a waffle cone shaped into a taco shell), so of course we have to try them! I get peanut butter M&M and B. gets Oreo. He pays the $2 and I throw in a quarter for tax. $24.25
10 p.m. — Back at my place, we agree we want to go out and decide on $2 bowling at Lucky Strike. I call an Uber to take us to 16th Street. At Lucky Strike, B. buys us a round of beers, loads money onto a game card, and we play Skee-Ball while we wait for a lane to open. I am the Skee-Ball queen and he has never beat me in the year we have been dating. When it's our turn to bowl, he pays for two games of bowling and shoe rental for both of us. $4.62
11:30 p.m. — While we bowl, I order more beers and cheese curds, which turn out to be underwhelming and completely unnecessary. We run into some friends who are also bowling and all agree to hit one more bar before last call. We end up at Tarantula where B. pays for our beers and we play a few rounds of pool. Right as the bar is closing, I turn around and notice some dude has his pants down and is peeing right there on the floor! It's a Tuesday, man! Come on! $30.17
Daily Total: $99.66
1:30 a.m. — Last call is over and right as we head to leave, one of our friends tells the bouncer about floor peeing guy. The bouncer chases him down the street, puts him in a headlock, and drags him back into the bar to force him to clean it up. We take that as our cue to dip ASAP and jump in an Uber back to my place. $6.88
7:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I make the executive decision to make today another work from home day. I go back to sleep for a few hours and when I wake up, I make us coffee and answer work emails in bed.
1 p.m. — We are both starving and B. wants breakfast food, so we drive to Original Pancake House for sustenance. I get the Denver omelet and orange juice. This week has been out of the ordinary for me with restaurant spending, and I realize I have spent a ridiculous amount of money. I take my leftovers home and vow to eat them for lunch tomorrow. $21.46
2 p.m. — We swing by the store on the way back to my house for laundry detergent and coffee. I use my store's app for digital coupons and save $3 on the detergent. $9.41
6 p.m. — I am going to a surprise birthday party downtown later tonight, so I decide to spend the night at B.'s since it is closer. Parking at his place in Capitol Hill is free after 6, and I Uber in gridlock traffic over the Speer Bridge into the Highlands. The party is a hit — the birthday boy is so surprised! We have drinks and snacks and sing lots of Ariana Grande. $4.80
9 p.m. — I am trying to be good tonight since I have been such a party animal this week, so I say my goodbyes relatively early. If I didn't leave now, guaranteed I would go out with everyone to the gay bar and be out all night. I grab an Uber back to B.'s ($4.62) and snag a bottle of Malbec on my way ($11.80). At his place, we each have a glass of wine, heat up some of the banana bread in a bowl with ice cream, and share it while we Netflix and chill on the couch. $16.42
11 p.m. — Wash my face and go to bed.
Daily Total: $58.97
7 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I jump right out of bed, something that never happens. There is no traffic on the way back to my place which makes for a great start to my day. At home, I shower/coffee/hair/makeup per usual. I get a text from a family friend that I occasionally work catering gigs for. I decline the event she asks about, but make a mental note to pick up a few gigs before the holidays. I could easily take care of all my holiday shopping if I worked two events — the money is that good.
9:15 a.m. — I spend my morning preparing for a client call, and then an hour on the phone with them for our weekly status updates. I sneak in a granola bar from my desk for breakfast. The company I work for sponsors a scholarship at CU to try to recruit new hires, and the HR supervisor comes over to my desk to remind me that I am taking the winner out to lunch today. She offers me her corporate credit card which I appreciate. Now I don't have to submit an expense report!
12 p.m. — I meet the scholarship winner and take him to lunch at a restaurant across the street from my office. Two coworkers from my department also join us. We get spinach artichoke dip for the table, and I order French onion soup and a French dip. The winner is a nice kid, but it's pretty clear he has no idea what insurance brokers actually do. When the check comes, I use the corporate card to pay. ($85.16 expensed)
4:30 p.m. — On my way home from work, I stop at the gas station and put air in one of my tires just to make the warning on my dashboard go away. $1.50
5 p.m. — I realize I have spent every night for the past week out or with someone, so I relish being by myself tonight. I throw a load of laundry in the machine, pour a glass of wine, and smoke some weed while I watch The Good Wife. I wanted to be an attorney when I was a little kid, and kind of still do...
8 p.m. — I pull together a dinner of frozen dumplings, random veggies, and a teriyaki sauce in my fridge. For dessert, I snack on chocolate chips and Insta-stalk B.'s ex-girlfriend, which sends me in a stoned haze down the social media rabbit hole. The girl is a teacher and the spelling errors in her posts are both comical and horrifying.
9:30 p.m. — I finally get a grip and put my phone down. I run the dishwasher, take out the trash, and do a little bit of work on my computer before I put on a face mask and head to bed. I sprawl out in my bed and watch Seinfeld reruns until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $1.50
6:15 a.m. — I am woken up entirely too early by a frantic phone call from my best friend. Her boyfriend, whom she lives with and who basically bankrolls her life, broke up with her this morning and she's panicking. As I talk her off the ledge, I silently think to myself how happy I am that my finances aren't at the mercy of another individual. I did that once in my early twenties and learned the hard way to never allow it again. Her boyfriend's entire world revolves around the fact that he has the financial means to do essentially anything he wants — and he has no problem letting people know it. The man repulses me, quite honestly.
7:45 a.m. — Coffee and usual routine at home.
9:30 a.m. — Today is payday, and this will be the first check that reflects the 12% pay increase I received last week. I love my job, but I worked my ass off the past year and deserve every cent. It is nice to feel appreciated and validated at work; I have too many friends who do not have this experience. My salary is now approximately $65,000 and this check reflects the new wages plus approximately four months of retro-pay. The check total after tax, 401(k), insurance, etc. is $2,961. I multiply my regular check amount by 1.12 to find my increased check amount, and then transfer over the rest to my "savings" account which is really a slush fund. I need to get better about saving for emergencies, but at least retirement and health expenses are automatically deducted for me.
11 a.m. — My work wife and I head to Torchy's Tacos for lunch. We snag two seats at the bar and order margaritas and tacos and vent to each other about pretty much everything. Work wife (WW) is a little bit older than me and has been with the company longer, so I truly value her input and perspective on things. She is intelligent and beautiful and I want to be her when I grow up. WW is married, but coaches me how she thinks I should handle things between B. and A. — ditch B. and pursue things with A. — which is exactly what every other friend of mine thinks. $35.11
2 p.m. — I somehow accepted an invite for a carrier call on a Friday afternoon; not sure how that happened. I get an email from the engagement program of our health insurance notifying me that my health club subsidy has been processed and they are sending me a check for $177. You would never know it by my activities this week, but I do belong to (and use!) a gym, and my parents have paid the automatically renewing membership fee since I was in high school.
5:30 p.m. — After work, I head to the salon by my house to get my nails done. I have had busted nails for a few days now and I can't take it any longer. I get a fresh set of coffin shaped tips and I bring my own polish: OPI "Meet Me on the Star Ferry." I went through a phase where I was obsessed with nail polish and I have a filing cabinet in my closet of about 40o polishes, so the selection at the salon never compares. $38
7:30 p.m. — My dad calls and asks if I want to come over to my parents' house for dinner. Our golden retriever had surgery this week, so of course I want to see her! He picks me up on his way to the house and cooks us dinner while my mom and I drink wine, listen and sing to music, and just generally annoy him. I lied earlier this week: I have three good cooks in my life these days.
10 p.m. — After dinner, we start watching the new Law & Order series about the Menendez brothers. I get in an argument with B. over weekend plans and immediately set up a date with A. for tomorrow — a chili cook-off and beer tasting event. When the show is over, my dad insists on paying for an Uber to take me home.
10:30 p.m. — Finally home and I crash.
Daily Total: $73.11
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.
Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: Starting in January, we want to run one Money Diary per day, every day, from each state. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Life is expensive and oftentimes our salaries don’t totally cover our bills. We want to hear about your side hustle, how much money it brings in, and is it really your passion? Let us know here, and your answer might be featured on Refinery29!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs