A Week In Grand Rapids, MI, On $13/Hour

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 for (the last day!) of Money Diaries Month: a patient service representative who makes $13 an hour. This week, she spends some of her check on Aerie swimsuits and bralettes.

Occupation: Patient Service Representative
Industry: Women's Health Care
Age: 24
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Salary: $13.39/hour
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $790

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $420 for my share of the rent (split evenly). I live with my boyfriend.
Utilities: $20
Cat Expenses: $20
Loan Payments: $0 at the moment. My loan is in deferment until I finish school in November.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Cell Phone: $0 — I'm on a family plan.
Netflix $8.99
HBO: $0 — thanks to my big brother.
Gym: $20, which includes tanning and unlimited guests, meaning my boyfriend goes for free.
Internet: $0 — my boyfriend pays the $60.
Consumers Energy: $40 - $100, depending on the season
Health Insurance: $0. I'm under 26, and on my mom's insurance.
Car: $0 — the car is in my parents' names. I pay for gas with a credit card to keep my credit score up.

5:30 a.m. — I have to be to work earlier than normal today, and I like taking my time to get ready. I also see a Starbucks trip happening in the near future. I have a business law class until 10 p.m. tonight, and it shall be a long day. I do my hair and makeup while drinking my morning smoothie (soy milk, frozen raspberries, spinach, banana, peanut butter, and protein powder). Once I'm done getting ready, I throw my lunch together and pack lunch for my love since he isn't a morning person. He wakes up at the last possible second and gets ready in like, 30 minutes. Opposites really do attract?

7 a.m. — I stop by Starbucks for an iced vanilla latte with coconut milk. I have my trusty reusable venti-sized cup. It's $4.89, but my mom gave me a gift card, and you get about $0.10 off your drink if you bring your own cup.

10:30 a.m. — The coffee has not kicked in yet ... so I get another iced latte at the café downstairs in my building. I eat some of the snacks I packed until I have lunch at 12:30 p.m. I always pack cheese sticks and clementines, or a protein bar. $3.87

12:30 p.m. — I finally get to eat lunch. I made enough salad to last a few days this week. I'm a vegetarian and this week's salad includes roasted chickpeas, avocado, walnuts, and poppy seed dressing.

4:30 p.m. — Home from work. I change my clothes and eat a quick dinner (a veggie omelet with a thin bagel and avocado) before class at 6. I have class every Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Each class lasts five weeks, and I'm cycling through new classes until I complete my degree in business management. I love this accelerated program. My boyfriend gets home earlier than usual — he's going out to dinner with his dad, and wanted to see me before I go to class. I say goodbye to him and our cat-child, and head out.

10:15 p.m. — Get home from class, which was very fun today. We had to act out a case and my group was the plaintiff; the original case lost, so we lost too, but it was still fun. I get coffee ready for the next morning and do my normal ritual before bed. My boyfriend is a night owl, while I go to bed at 9:30 or 10 p.m. Tonight, I tucker out at about 10:45. Education is worth sacrificing sleep, right?

Daily Total: $3.87
6:15 a.m. — I get an extra hour of sleep today, since I don't have to be at work by 7:30 like yesterday. I do my hair, makeup, drink a smoothie, prepare lunch, and bring coffee with me to work.

12:30 p.m. — One of the physician's assistants comments on my daily salad. Was that a sign that I need to change it up? A lot of my coworkers buy and order lunch, but after working in the food industry for about five years — I find ordering food hard to justify. To each her own.

3:30 p.m. — In between checking out patients, I do some online shopping at Aerie.com. My boyfriend and I are going on vacation next month and I want a few more swimsuits and bralettes. I end up buying two swimsuits and two bras on sale and clearance. $61.98

6:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I usually go to the gym together on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends. But I have something physically draining on the horizon, and want to rest up for it. We go to Trader Joe's and buy a bunch of random food: cauliflower rice, jackfruit, BBQ sauce, veggie broth, and turkey corndogs for him. He graciously pays $26.89 for our small grocery haul.

7:30 p.m. — I make dinner and we watch Netflix until I decide to go to bed at 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $61.98
5:15 a.m. — I am opening the office this morning, and I have to be there 15 minutes before the first patient arrives at 7:15. I bring my smoothie and coffee to work in preparation for another long day ahead. Before I leave, I pack lunches for the two of us again. Habits die hard.

12:30 p.m. — The usual lunch and snacks; it's pretty busy for a Friday. I am mentally preparing for my training tonight. I am so pumped.

4:30 p.m. — I am out of work and start getting ready for tonight. I do GoRuck events and my first "Tough" challenge is in August. A ruck is a backpack with weight, and a tough event is about 10-12 hours long and covers 15-20 miles. Tonight, I am rucking (walking with backpack) 20 miles. We're starting at 8:30 p.m. and should finish at 3:30 a.m. I have to drive to my hometown in Kalamazoo to meet up with the group; there will be four of us.

Daily Total: $0
3:30 a.m. — We finish in the ideal timeframe and drink beers to celebrate. My feet have blisters, and my hips and shins hurt, but I made it through all 20 miles! I decide to drive an hour back to my apartment, and I make it there safe and sound. I should have stopped at my parents to rest though, lesson learned.

10:45 a.m. — I wake up in a little bit of pain and am happy it's a chill weekend; my feet kill and my toes feel bruised. I shower and make some much-needed breakfast — a veggie and egg scramble with a bagel and cream cheese. My boyfriend's birthday is coming up, and he wants to buy Mario Kart for Nintendo Switch, so we decide to do a little shopping this afternoon. Walking wasn't on my to-do list.

1 p.m. — I didn't feed him breakfast, so he buys himself a pretzel at the mall. We go to GameStop and I buy the game for him. Happy Birthday, my old man. We walk around the mall and he buys us an iced tea to share from Teavana. The Beach Bellini flavor is amazing, but I walking at a snail's pace; the blisters on my toes have made themselves known. $63.59

2:45 p.m. — We go to Nordstrom Rack because my boyfriend needs a swimsuit. I try on different shirts but decide against them. I ended up getting a hat and sunscreen for our trip instead. We make separate transactions. $25.38

8:30 p.m. — I make black bean pasta for dinner and have a nice glass of wine with it. My boyfriend is getting beer with a friend, and he's bringing him over for Mario Kart. I hang out with them for a little bit, and go to bed at 9:30. I'm still super sore and exhausted.

Daily Total: $88.97
8 a.m. — I really want to go to church this morning and service is at 10, so I put on a little makeup and fix my hair.

9:30 a.m. — I decide to get a coffee at Starbucks and use the last of my gift card money. I get my usual iced vanilla latte with coconut milk, plus egg white vegetable bites. It comes out to $10.49 and the gift card is used up.

12 p.m. — Church was amazing and I am so glad I went. The co-pastors are a husband and wife pair, and they alternate who gives the message. Today was the female pastor's turn, and it felt great to be back. I chitchat with church friends and then make my way home. I put the jackfruit in the crock-pot with BBQ sauce. I'm making vegetarian nachos with lots of veggies and pulled "pork." I also work on the mountain of laundry waiting for me.

4 p.m. — Sunday is grocery day. We start at Meijer and my boyfriend foots that bill. Then we stop at Trader Joe's for additional things we need, and I pay that one. I get more protein powder, jackfruit, chickpea cans, wine, cauliflower rice, and other random stuff. My boyfriend puts groceries away, and I switch laundry around. $42.08

6:15 p.m. — We eat our nachos and watch Glow on Netflix. I prepare a few days' worth of lunches (fried cauliflower rice with eggs, vegetables, and roasted chickpeas). It's been a good weekend.

Daily Total: $42.08
6:30 a.m. — I am in the phone room today, which means I am not wearing makeup. I throw my hair in a braid, make my breakfast smoothie, as well as lunches for my boyfriend and me. Today's smoothie is cold coffee, spinach, soy milk, peanut butter, chocolate protein powder, and a banana; it was pretty good.

12:30 p.m. — Eating lunch, which turned out awesome. I'm glad I changed things up and didn't do a salad for the millionth time.

4:15 p.m. — Since I opened, I get to leave early. I go home and find my online orders waiting for me! I try on the swimsuits and bralettes and decide to exchange one of the bottoms. My Fashion Nova order arrived, too; I could live in the tie-dye "Feminist" t-shirt I got. I wait for my love to get home so we can go to the gym tonight. It's arm day!

7 p.m. — We get home from working out, and I make us veggie omelets with roasted sweet potatoes. We watch more Glow, which we are loving. We had to find a new show since The Handmaid's Tale is over, and Game of Thrones is almost back. OITNB is on my list, too, but I'm trying to savor it and not binge watch.

Daily Total: $0
7 a.m. — I get to go in later than normal because we have a staff meeting, and I can't get overtime pay. I drink a smoothie while I get ready and then pack up our lunches. My boyfriend forgets his because he has a dentist appointment; it'll be ready for him tomorrow. I stop at Starbucks for an iced latte (something I need to get better about making at home). $5.14

9:20 a.m. — A coworker brings in donuts!

12:30 p.m. — Same lunch as yesterday, and it is still really good. I have my usual clementines and cheese sticks, too.

5:15 p.m. — I stay until the last patient checks out. My boyfriend and I are working out again, and today is ab-core day. I cuddle the kitty a little, and then we head out.

6:30 p.m. — We get home and I start making dinner; tonight is a good night for pasta, plus making it now will give me a start on lunches for the coming days. I do some homework and then watch more Netflix with my main squeeze and our cat. I'm in bed by 10.

Daily Total: $5.14
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