A Week In Tri-Cities, WA, On A $37,440 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 dollar.

Today: a family services coordinator who makes $37,440 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on several red flannel shirts.

Occupation: Family Services Coordinator
Industry: Education & Nonprofit
Age: 22
Location: Tri-Cities, WA
Salary: $37,440
Paycheck: $1,100 every other Wednesday

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $250. I live at home and give this to my mom.
Student Loan Payment: $43/month. I'm on an income-driven plan, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for loan forgiveness.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Payment: $234
Car Insurance: $104
Credit Cards: ~$750/month. (I know.)
Netflix & Hulu: $0. My brother lets me mooch off him.
Gym: $10
Groceries: $50/month. My brother, sister and I all live at home, so we all contribute to a communal grocery fund for basics.
Personal Loan: $127. I took out a small loan to pay for my vacation last month. It was worth it!
Utilities: ~$70 for my share
Internet: $17.50
Cell Phone: $70 with unlimited everything
Health Insurance: $131.44 deducted from my paycheck pre-tax

In New York and want to talk about Money Diaries IRL? Lindsey Stanberry, R29's Director of Work & Money, will be chatting about all things money and taboos with writer Helaine Olen and photographer Brittany Powell tomorrow, Wednesday, September 27 at the International Center Of Photography at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets to Confessing Money: Stories of Spending in America Today are free, you just have to register in advance. More information here. And if you do stop by, please say hi! We always love to meet a Money Diaries fan.

5:55 a.m. — I stumble out of bed 40 minutes after my alarm starts ringing. That would be fine on a normal day, but today I start work a half-hour early. I enjoy doing my makeup so I try to wake up with enough time to avoid rushing. Our AC has been broken, and it's still hot in my house, but I decide to flat iron my hair anyway.

7:10 a.m. — Five minutes until I need to leave! I throw my lunch into my backpack and grab my gym bag for after work. I also make time to cut up an apple and put it in a container with peanut butter before I head out. I drive to work every day because my office is technically in another city, even though it's only a 12-minute drive down the highway.

7:50 a.m. — I get to my office, drop off my car, and pick up my company vehicle and my coworker so we can head to the farmers' market. On Wednesday, we spend the morning handing out information there on our nonprofit's services.

10:30 a.m. — My apple and peanut butter are long gone and I start considering the food trucks, until one of the vendors walks over and gifts me a bag of cherries! They should tide me over until lunch time.

12 p.m. — We pack up and leave the farmers' market. My coworker convinces me to stop and grab bean and cheese burritos at a gas station. I also buy water and mints. $6.57

12:30 p.m. — Back at the office, I eat my burrito and read at my desk. I leave the lunch I packed in the break room fridge for tomorrow and fill up my tumbler with water. Hydrated skin is happy skin!

4 p.m. — I'm off work, so I drive up the street (and into a new city) to hit the gym for cardio.

5 p.m. — I pick up my sister from work and she suggests that we get pupusas from our favorite Salvadorian place downtown, but I opt out. At home, I make ramen with an egg in it and settle onto the couch with a new episode (or two) of Family Guy.

6:30 p.m. — I transition over to the kitchen table and switch to Parenthood. I watch a couple of episodes while I prep for an 8 p.m. meeting I have on Google Hangouts. I drink more water and snack on a peach.

10:30 p.m. — Meeting done and showered, I browse online for DirecTV package prices. My sister and I are getting cable for our house but I'm too tired to research in full, so I decide to leave it for tomorrow.

Daily Total: $6.57
5:45 a.m. — I wake up, flat iron my hair, and then turn on Family Guy to play in the background while I do my makeup and get dressed.

7:15 a.m. — I don't need to leave for another half-hour, so I make myself an omelet with cherry tomatoes, red onion, and a little mozzarella. I let my brother have a couple of bites before he rushes out. He's always late! I make toast, drink a big glass of water, and fill up my tumbler on my way out.

12 p.m. — The morning flies by. I'm so busy! I grab the lunch I saved yesterday and head back to my desk. I'm having the third serving of a Mediterranean chicken quinoa salad with bell peppers, red onions, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fresh basil, and feta. I made a big batch of it Sunday night and portioned it out to save myself time during the week. I save my cup of watermelon applesauce for later; I eat and read at my desk.

3:10 p.m. — I start to feel snacky, so I open the applesauce. A coworker comes in and gives me a strawberry shortcake ice cream bar!

4:30 p.m. — I head home and stop to fill up my gas tank since I don't like to go below a half-tank. I debate whether to get the car washed now, but decide against it. $18.03

5 p.m. — When I get home, my mom has dinner ready. I love when she has the day off! I fill up on grilled chicken, rice, and salad, and then clean up the kitchen afterwards.

6:30 p.m. — My mom and sister go to go look at cars, and I agree to watch my two younger sisters. We decide we want ice cream sundaes, so we drive down to Albertsons and pick up two kinds of ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and a package of chocolate chip cookies. On our way out, I spot a pint of my mom's favorite Baskin-Robbins ice cream. Even though it costs as much as the other quarts I picked up, I toss it into the basket. $21.95

9 p.m. — After a sundae and a shower, I pour myself a large glass of water and settle in to send and reply to some emails. I serve on the leadership team for my sorority, so I tackle my to-do list. I chat with my family at the same time, and finally get to bed around 11 p.m.

Daily Total: $39.98
5:55 a.m. — Wake up, Family Guy, flat iron, makeup.

7:10 a.m. — I heat up the leftover rice from last night's dinner, fry an egg to go on top, and watch Family Guy until it's time to go. Today, I also drop my sister off at work because she's still car-less.

12 p.m. — Another busy morning. I grab my lunch from the fridge: a chicken salad sandwich, fresh pineapple and jicama, and lots of water. I save my bag of baby carrots for later, and eat and read at my desk before I get back to work.

3 p.m. — I munch on a few carrots and then stash the rest in my lunch bag before continuing to work.

4:45 p.m. — I get home and my mom tells me she wants to make Sloppy Joes for dinner. My brother, sister, and I all live at home and work full-time, so we contribute to a joint grocery fund. I grab a twenty from the stash and head to the store to buy the things my mom needs.

5 p.m. — At the store, I pick up two packages of hamburger buns, two cans of Sloppy Joe sauce, and two pounds of hot potato wedges from the deli. The total comes to $14.45.

5:30 p.m. — I have a Sloppy Joe, potato wedges, and a glass of horchata for dinner. I've had a crazy sweet tooth lately and add on a scoop of ice cream and a cookie from yesterday for dessert. My mom and sister go car shopping again, so I settle on the couch to watch Parenthood.

8:30 p.m. — After a few episodes, I hop in the shower. When I get out, my sister is back with a shiny, new BMW! She tells me the dealership gifted her free tickets to the annual hydroplane races this weekend, and I happily agree to be her plus one! The races happen every year and even though I've lived here since I was five years old, I've never gone. I touch up my pedicure so I can wear sandals tomorrow, put on a green tea sheet mask, and read my book until I drift off around 10:45 p.m.

Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — It's so nice to sleep in! I do my usual morning routine but since I'm not in a hurry, I play with my palettes to try a new eye look and then pop on my favorite lashes. I'm hungry, but I don't eat because our entrance tickets come with private seating and catering.

9:30 a.m. — We arrive and our reserved parking is just steps away from our seats. Plus, our seats have an unobstructed view of the water! My sister wants a blended drink from a coffee stand and I ask for an ice water — the high is supposed to be 103 degrees today. Her total comes to $8, but she has a full stamp card — so it's free. We settle under the tent and snack on chips while we watch the hydroplanes on the water and the air show up above.

12:30 p.m. — Time for lunch. I grab salad, rice, chicken in a spicy cream sauce, and an enchilada. I also get more water, and my sister and I split a Coke (all included in our free tickets). We watch more races, walk around to check out the vendors, and then head out around 2 p.m.

2:30 p.m. — Back at home, I go through my mail and see that Express sent me a $20 reward since my birthday is coming up next week. I log into my account and see I also have a $10 reward there! I browse their home and gift sections and decide on a fun cocktail kit and pretty glitter candles. With my $30 in coupons, I end up only paying for tax and shipping! $11.40

4:30 p.m. — A couple of weeks ago, my little sister won an art contest and the prize was a $100 gift card. She's been asking us to take her to Justice since she has a bunch of coupons, so we head to the mall. She picks out a bunch of cute stuff and ends up getting a really good deal! My youngest sister wants to buy something, too, and she picks up a package of glitter lip balms. She has her allowance but is $1.50 short, so I give her cash. On our way out, the girls stop at the candy machines and I can't resist fishing out a couple of quarters for chocolate covered almonds. $2

7 p.m. — My family usually gets together every weekend, and today is no exception. My mom and two youngest sisters have already gone to my uncle's house, but I needed to go through my emails. My sister and I head out later and I stop at a convenience store to buy a six-pack. $9.76

7:40 p.m. — My uncle and I head to a meat marker in the center of town to buy some grilling essentials. We get carne asada, marinated chicken fajitas, more beer, and ice. The total comes to $130 and change, but my uncle pays.

12 a.m. — Aaaaaaaaand I'm buzzed. We've spent the evening grilling, eating, drinking, and relaxing in the pool. One thing about my family: We're always down for a good time. One of my uncles suggests we head to a bar they like to see if we like it, too. We towel off and change into dry clothes but we've all been drinking so we call a cab. My uncle pays.

1 a.m. — At the bar, I get a mixed drink and my sister has two. My aunt orders a bucket of beers for the table, but it's not a beer I like so I get a water to start sobering up. My uncle's birthday is also coming up, so the waitress brings over a huge drink for him and we cheer as the whole bar sings happy birthday in Spanish! At 2 a.m., the bar turns the lights up and we call another cab to get us home. My uncle pays for everything again — they treat us so well! Once I'm home, I carefully take my lashes off before jumping in the shower. I dry my hair and finally fall asleep around 3 a.m.

Daily Total: $23.16
10:45 a.m. — Good morning, world! Thankfully, I don't have a hangover, so I roll out of bed and start my laundry. (I always do laundry and organize my room on Sundays.) I find a potato in the fridge, scramble it with an egg, and cover it in hot sauce for breakfast. I also start drinking water right away. I snuggle on the couch with Netflix, determined to have a lazy day.

4 p.m. — My laundry is done but I still need to fold it. I haven't done anything else all day except for migrate between the couch and my bed. I poke around in the freezer and take out a couple of frozen burgers for dinner later. For now, I heat up a corndog and head back to my bed to watch one more episode of Parenthood.

6:30 p.m. — Okay...just three more episodes. I get my burgers cooking on the stove, wash the dishes, and leave the kitchen spotless. I eat my burger, make my bed, fold my laundry, give my room a deep clean, and then hop in the shower.

8:30 p.m. — I start to mix ground beef and zucchini for lunch tomorrow until I remember there are leftover Sloppy Joes from a few nights ago! I save the zucchini for another lunch and pack my lunch bag for tomorrow. I make myself a cup of tea, put on a rose face mask, and read until I fall asleep around 11 p.m.

Daily Total: $0
5:50 a.m. — It's Monday! Family Guy, flat iron, makeup.

7:15 a.m. — My brother made rice yesterday, so I heat it up and fry an egg to go on top. I leave for work a few minutes earlier than usual because there's often heavier traffic on Monday mornings. I have a lot of work to do today and I'm eager to get started!

11 a.m. — The power goes off in the entire building, so no Wi-Fi. Welp. I relax and pull out my book.

12 p.m. — Power comes back on just in time for lunch. Good thing, too, because I need the microwave. I head to the break room, heat up my Sloppy Joe, and fill up my water tumbler. I eat at my desk and watch an episode of Extreme Cheapskates.

4:30 p.m. — It's been a long day. I've had a lot of files and applications to process, and I'm working on getting additional certification, so there was a lot on my plate today. I munch on baby carrots as I drive home and then eat the same thing for dinner as I ate for breakfast — adding yummy refried beans my mom made. After, I clean up the kitchen and hang out for a while.

6:30 p.m. — My upcoming birthday party is cowboy-themed, so I want a lacy shirt I can wear underneath my flannel. My sister and I head to Maurice's and I find exactly what I'm looking for! My aunt is planning the party and she asked that the family dress in red flannel shirts; I find adorable ones for my mom and sister. I also get myself three more shirts, a pair of earrings and a necklace. Oops. $166.09

8:30 p.m. — I track my habits and spending very closely in my bullet journal. Tomorrow is the start of a new month, so I get busy prepping the new pages after my shower. I also check my planner to make sure my calendar is good to go. I do this for a couple hours and head to bed around 10:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $166.09
6 a.m. — Wake up a little later than usual but still do my usual routine.

7:30 a.m. — Don't have enough time for a sit-down breakfast, so I make an egg sandwich and toss it in my backpack. I pack my lunch, fill up my water, and say bye to my mom on my way out.

8:05 a.m. — Eat my egg sandwich while I check emails. I also call my pharmacy to refill a prescription and make a mental note to pick it up on my way home.

12:30 p.m. — I've been very busy, but I find a good stopping point and break for lunch. I'm having the ground beef zucchini thing I made Sunday night with some other leftovers, and it's actually really good! I also eat an apple with crunchy peanut butter. I play a Corpse Husband podcast while I eat and then read for the remainder of my break. I extend my lunch by a few minutes to check out the menu of a restaurant my brother suggested. A couple of my friends are visiting this weekend for my birthday, and they want to try a new place!

4:30 p.m. — Working late tonight and did not plan accordingly in terms of snacks. Read and drink water.

6:30 p.m. — Finally off work! I stop by the pharmacy to pick up my prescription. Thank goodness for health insurance because my meds are $90 without it. I debate buying a bag of shelled pistachios, but ultimately decide to pass. $24.63

7 p.m. — I get home and my sister's making fried chicken! I whip up a side salad and my mom makes mashed potatoes and gravy. After dinner, I try to teach my mom and sister a line dance the whole family wants to do at my birthday party. Didn't go to the gym, but I get my cardio in anyway!

8:30 p.m. — I shower and settle in bed to finish up my book. I'm trying to read 50 books by 2018! I finally fall asleep around 11 p.m. but wake up suddenly when I remember I didn't prep a lunch. Oh well. I'll have to treat myself tomorrow.

Daily Total: $24.63
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The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

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 themes:

1. #TransWeek Diarists: In honor of Transgender Awareness Week (Nov. 14-20), we plan to showcase diaries from members of the trans and non-binary communities. Submit your week in money here.

2. Couple's Diaries: We want to take a closer look at how romantic partners who live together handle their money together — and individually. Whether you're married and live together, are unmarried and live together, or are in any combination of partnership and maintaining a joint household, we want BOTH of you to submit a Money Diary tracking your expenses for one week. We'll publish both diaries in an upcoming Money Diaries Monday story. Submit here.
Related Video: How does money affect a relationship? We asked our favorite couples to dish about their spending habits, their financial priorities, and just how expensive their Starbucks orders are. Watch now to hear advice, both young and old, about the do's and don'ts of spending and saving.
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