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A Week In Providence, RI, On A $54,300 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a social media coordinator who makes $54,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on margaritas.
All prices in USD.
Occupation: Social Media Coordinator & Consultant
Industry: Construction and Hospitality
Age: 22
Location: Providence, RI
Salary: $54,300
Net Worth: $6,000 ($20,000 in savings, $4,500 in 401(k), $4,000 in Roth IRA minus debt.)
Debt: $22,500 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,426
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $350, I recognize that this is wildly inexpensive. I am very fortunate to have a relative as my landlord and she gives my roommate/sister and I a very generous family discount!
Student Loans: $211
401(k): $286 (company matches 75% of what I put in, giving me an additional $214 to this account monthly)
Spotify & Netflix: $0 (suffer through ads and mooch off the family Netflix account)
Health Insurance: on my parents until I am 26
Car Insurance: $120
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Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, growing up there was always an expectation that I would go to college. There was never pressure applied to the situation though, it was sort of just implied that after high school comes college. I was very lazy about the whole admissions process so it wasn't until November of my senior year that I began really considering how college was going to be paid for. My mom very generously covered the federal loans I was granted, while my dad helped me cover things like housing and meal plans. I was left to cover the rest. I made the decision to commute my junior year of college and took summer classes in order to finish a semester early. I'm grateful for the thousands I saved myself in that year and a half.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
From a young age, we were taught that if you want nice things you need to work hard for them. I come from a very average middle-class family and thankfully was never concerned about money growing up. I opened a bank account when I was 15 and would try to save as much as possible. My parents would talk to me about my personal finances and tried to guide me to make smart decisions when spending. It was not a topic of conversation often though.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?
At 15, I got a job scooping ice cream. My parents did not force me but explained that I was old enough to get a job and that I would need money to go out and spend time with friends. I never received an allowance growing up but my parents would give me $10 or $20 occasionally if I was going out. Throughout high school and college, I always had two jobs. Things like car insurance, cell phone bills, and gas were some of my bills as a teen, in addition to all of the fun things I wanted to spend money on. While at times I would get frustrated that I was one of the only one of my friends having to pay for these expenses, I'm so thankful looking back because I learned how to manage, save, and spend my money smartly early on. Having a job and not having to ask for money was my first taste of independence and I loved the idea of making my own money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Generally no. My parents never stressed us out with finances or how much things cost. When I was a freshman in high school my mom and stepdad told us that we were downsizing and that is my only memory of being worried about money. As I've gotten older, I recognize that they were wasting so much money trying to run a big house and pay for the lives of four kids. It was definitely a smart financial decision even though I didn't quite understand why at the time.
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Do you worry about money now?
Yes and no. Being only 22, I am satisfied with the money I have saved and do not feel overwhelmed by my student debt. I don't need to think twice if I want to grab dinner with a friend or buy a new outfit. However, I am one of those people who cannot help but think far into the future so I often worry about if I'll have enough to live the life I've envisioned for myself. Staying present and realistic helps with these feelings of uncertainty.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 21, I became fully financially responsible for myself when I moved out on my own. My financial safety net would be my savings. If something were to happen, I have multiple months of expenses saved and accessible.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.

Day One

7 a.m. — A work-from-home day, the best way to start the week. I hop out of bed and feel so energized because the apartment is flooded in warm sunlight. I quickly throw on a sports bra and shorts and head to the home gym (a yoga mat in my living room) and pick out which YouTube workout I want to do today. I choose a 30-minute HIIT video and get to work. After I'm drenched in sweat I take a few minutes to stretch and meditate and then it's time to hit the shower. I am in the process of searching for a new job and today I have four interviews with a media advertising company so I need to look presentable and professional. Full blow dry, full face of Glossier makeup, and a dress should do the trick. I am ready to go by 8:15 a.m. even though my first interview isn't until 10.
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8.15 a.m. — Now that I am clean and ready I can focus on food. Iced coffee with oat milk, a piece of avocado toast, and a Just Egg omelet sounds like the perfect way to start the week. I sit down at the table and go through my email.
9 a.m. — As I enjoy my breakfast I get an alert that my boss has started a weekly coordination meeting that I completely forgot about. I hop on and anxiously listen to the weekly updates, praying that this will wrap up before my interview at 10. We finish up at 9:40 so I calm down for the next twenty minutes until my first interview of the day begins.
12 p.m. — One interview down, and time for lunch. I heat up some lemon orzo soup that my stepmom made for me over the weekend and it's delicious. I make myself another iced coffee and settle in for a busy afternoon.
4 p.m. — I finish all the interviews for the day and feel tired but confident. They went well and this company has so many things I'm looking for in terms of my next career venture, so fingers are crossed tightly! My stepsister/roommate/bestie, D., texts me and asks if I want to go over to her mom's house for dinner. They live about a mile down the road from us and she always cooks us a delicious meal. I happily accept the invitation, it will be nice to get out of the apartment and I also do not feel like cooking in the slightest.
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8 p.m. — We get home from dinner and make lunch for work tomorrow.
10:15 p.m. — In bed finally and I decide to read a chapter of The Four Agreements. It always relaxes and zens me out before I sleep. Once I've finished reading I throw on a 15-minute sleep meditation and fall asleep before it's even over.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:36 a.m. — After three alarms go off, I am up. Have to head into the office today so I begin my a.m. routine for the workday, which I have managed to refine to an impressive 14 minutes. I head to the bathroom and wash my face with my Body Shop tea tree oil face wash and follow it up with my Coco-Kind Everyday SPF. After giving my hair a quick brush through, I venture back into my bedroom to pick out today's fit. I settle for black jeans, a fitted black tee, and some Gucci loafer look-alikes that are actually from Target. Black on black always makes me feel ready to conquer anything. I apply some Glossier Lash Slick, Boy Brow, and a spritz of my favourite perfume, and I'm ready for the day. I made my usual coffee with oat milk and blueberry peanut butter oats. Once breakfast and coffee are gone, I quickly brush my teeth and am pulling out of the driveway by 7:25 a.m.
8 a.m. — I sit down at my desk and do my usual news, LinkedIn, email check. After asking my coworkers how their weekends were, I decide it's time to do some actual work. I settle in and cross things off my to-do list.
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12:30 p.m. — After eating lunch at my desk I decide I'm not quite satisfied, so I leave the office and head over to the east side where I grab a coffee from one of my favourite shops. Although it's overpriced, I don't mind supporting a small business! I sip my coffee, blast some music, and drive around the city for about 20 minutes before heading back for the afternoon. $5.50
4:45 p.m. — Phew, done for the day. The afternoon definitely dragged a bit, but the sun is out and I am eager to go home and get a workout in.
5:45 p.m. — Living room workout complete. I take a half-shower and throw on some comfy clothes. D. calls me from our parents' house and lets me know that we are ordering Thai for dinner and our childhood neighbours are coming for a fire in our backyard. I'm excited! We haven't all hung out in a few years.
6:45 p.m. — Vegan pad thai and nime chow for dinner from our favourite Thai restaurant in town. Thankfully, my mom and stepdad foot the bill so dinner is free tonight! After we eat, my brother goes out to start the fire before our old neighbours arrive and D. and I head to Stop & Shop to get ingredients for s'mores. Upon arrival we discover they are completely sold out of vegan marshmallows, tragic…but we grab some chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows for the rest of the group. I snag a family-size pack of gum at the checkout line. D. pays for everything and I Venmo her later on for half. $7.50

10:30 p.m. — Finally home, and even though I smell a little like smoke from the fire, I am too tired to take another shower. Brush my teeth and crawl into bed. After scrolling through TikTok for 20 minutes, it's sleep meditation time. I'm knocked out by 11.

Daily Total: $13
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Day Three

6:36 a.m. — Up and at 'em!! It's hump day which means the weekend is in sight. I'm not one of those people who lives for the weekends by any means, but considering the state of the world, any excitement is good enough for me. Wash my face, moisturize, take my hair out of the braid that I slept in, and throw on a white Madewell collared shirt, black culottes, and snakeskin flats from Target. Ready for coffee and breakfast. This morning I decide on toast. One piece sweet and one piece savory. That results in PB and fruit and avocado and tomato. Brush my teeth and I'm off to work.
12:30 p.m. — After finishing my Thai leftovers, I decide my bangs are in dire need of a trim. Luckily my hairdresser is a 10-minute drive from the office so I use my lunch break to take care of my hair. The whole process takes about 10 minutes and we chat a little bit about life and how I need to get my hair trimmed before summer. She doesn't charge for bang trims but since I am here every month and a half, I Venmo her $10 and we call it even. Back to work for the rest of the afternoon. $10
4:45 p.m. — After work, I meet my friend, F., at the Providence Pedestrian Bridge since it's one of the first truly springy days we've had. We grab margaritas to-go from a restaurant nearby and I pay ( $24 with tip). We go for a walk through the city and enjoy the sunshine and margs. Just a quick hangout, but nice nonetheless. $24
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6:15 p.m. — Home for the night, and feel the slightest buzz from my margarita. I cook a veggie burger, saute some spinach, have the last of the orzo soup, and wash it all down with a few bites of vegan ice cream (coffee fudge and cookies and cream. Yes, I take out both pints at once and alternate taking bites out of both flavours. It's the only way).
7:30 p.m. — I take a shower, do a face mask (the Ordinary salicylic acid mask is a gamechanger, trust me), and put on PJs. Head back into the kitchen and make myself a salad for lunch tomorrow. D. and I talk in her room for a bit, which transcends into a dance party. Eventually, I get too tired and retire to my bed.
10:45 p.m. — I finish up my part-time job (running an Instagram for a local business) for the night and put my phone down. Throw on my sleep meditation and pass TF out.
Daily Total: $34

Day Four

6:36 a.m. — You know the drill by this point. Out of bed, bathroom, wash face, moisturize, brush hair, and pick out an outfit. I make it to the kitchen in record time and make another batch of delicious sweet n' savoury toast and can't forget the coffee! It's a rainy day which definitely affects my mood a bit but it's alright because I have a very light workload for the day so it should be a breeze. Brush my teeth and I hit the road by 7:30.
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12 p.m. — Due to the fact that I am literally incapable of being in my office all day, I decide to take a drive to Whole Foods for an afternoon pick me up. I settle on a gingerberry kombucha and a pineapple and berry fruit cup. I return to my car and disassociate for a bit while I enjoy my fruit. I roll the windows down, turn my radio up loudly, and drive around. After about 15 minutes, I decide it's probably best to get back to work. $8.65
5 p.m. — Home from work, woo-hoo. My mom comes over for a walk. This is the primary way we spend time together these days. I used to be an Orange Theory stan and went running all the time, but for the past year, I've been doing all low-impact forms of exercise due to a back problem I had last summer. I love walking and after a long day of work, it's the best way to clear my mind. Mom and I walk about 3.7 miles and talk about my potential new job, my siblings, and whatever other gossip we can think of.
6:30 p.m. — Home for the night and I finally am cooking this week. I want something easy and healthy so I boil some whole wheat pasta, roast zucchini, onions, and peppers, and saute a vegan sausage and some swiss chard. I mix it all up to create a quasi pasta salad. It's light and refreshing and just what I was in the mood for. After dinner, it's ice cream time. I do my usual two pint taste testing routine and save the rest for the weekend.
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8:45 p.m. — After taking a body shower, I generously moisturize with coconut oil. My skin is very prone to eczema and coconut oil is one of the best natural remedies I've found. Once I look like I'm ready for the oven at 350 degrees, I throw on a light long sleeve and some sleep shorts… I don't want to get oil over my sheets. I crawl into bed and watch some Good Girls until about 10:30. Finish up my side job at 11 and throw on a sleep meditation. Lights out almost immediately.
Daily Total: $8.65

Day Five

6:36 a.m — Finally Friday!! I'm always a little extra lazy on Friday mornings so I rush through my morning routine and pick out some Abercrombie jeans and a sweater. Breakfast this morning is blueberry PB oats and I throw a few dark chocolate chips on top because why not?! With a few extra minutes to spare, I decide I'll treat myself to a coffee from Starbucks this morning. I grab a grande iced coffee with almond milk NO sweetener and am off to work with my new Spotify playlist blasting. $3.51
12 p.m. — I sneak out of the office to pick up some fresh bread from a local bakery. A loaf of sourdough and a loaf of walnut raisin (they were out of my usual multigrain so I decided to branch out). $17
3 p.m. — The office gets to head home early today for Good Friday. It's so funny that no matter your age, fifth grade or 22, an early dismissal from elementary school or your job will always make you so happy. I call my mom and we decide to go for a walk since it's sunny. I stop home quickly, throw on some Athleta leggings, a hoodie, and my hot pink Lift Down beanie (it's a statement piece), and head over to my parents' house. Mom and I walk 5.3 miles, a long loop today and the fresh air feels extra good.
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5:30 p.m. — I head back to the apartment and am feeling absolutely starving and not in the mood to cook. I know D. gets home around 6:30 so I shoot her a text and see what she's doing for dinner. We decide burritos and ice cream are the only option so once she gets home, I drive us to Providence to secure the goods.
7 p.m. — I pull into an office parking lot across the street so I don't have to park on the street. We run in and grab our food to go and decide to head over to a park by the water to eat ($30 after tax and tip, $15 for my half). On our way out of the parking lot, I pull through the parking spot I'm in, because who doesn't love a pull-through?! Turns out there was an obstruction. Needless to say, my car bottomed out over a parking barrier and resulted in some pretty terrifying noises. We assess the damage and it looks okay so I try to stay optimistic and calm. $15
8 p.m. — We make it to the park, eat dinner, and I call my dad to ask for an opinion on what I should do. He advises we take the back roads home and go to the repair shop first thing in the morning. We obviously couldn't go home without some ice cream so we go to our favourite vegan ice cream shop and eat in the car. After that, we crawl home and pray my car doesn't fall apart on the way. $5.60
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9:30 p.m. — I crawl into bed early and watch some more Good Girls before passing out.
Daily Total: $41.11

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off but I've been awake for about 10 minutes now. The car shop opens at 8 a.m. and I want to get there early so I throw on some leggings, a hoodie, and my Patagonia and head to my car. Thankfully she turns on but is still making less than ideal noises.
7:45 a.m. — I make it to the car shop and explain my situation. They let me know that they can look at it right away. The mechanic brings me in the back and points out the damage I did. A busted exhaust hanger and carrier barren has me worried, but he ensures me that it should be an easy fix.
8:40 a.m. — An hour later, my car is as good as new, and he only charges me $85. So, so grateful. I head home and since it's not even 9 a.m. I decide to go for a morning walk. I walk around my neighbourhood for about 3.6 miles and listen to one of my favourite podcasts, We Met at Acme. Once I get home, I do a 10-minute ab video and decide that it's coffee and breakfast time as my stomach growls on my yoga mat. $85
10 a.m. — I make a Just Egg omelet with spinach and a piece of sourdough avocado toast. Paired with an at-home iced coffee, I'm in heaven. Soak up the sun for a bit on our porch while I enjoy my breakfast. After I clean up, I hit the shower and do a long weekend spa shower. Shave the legs, wash the hair, even throw on a face mask once I get out. I do a full blow dry and throw on a new sweatshirt from Abercrombie and some Aritzia sweats. Queen of loungewear these days. D. and I go down and visit with our landlord/grandma. We chat for about an hour and then come up for some lunch. I have some of my leftover pasta, do some laundry, and lounge for a bit.
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4 p.m. — My best friend, N., just got out of work so we invite her over to hang out. Once she gets here we chat and catch up for a bit, but then decide we're all hungry and in the mood for some cocktails. I play bartender and whip up some gin and tonics for N. and me, and a mojito for D. After happy hour, we place an order for dinner at one of our favourite vegan restaurants. We get nachos, a pizza, a quesadilla, and the most delicious cacio e pepe ever. We bring it all back to the house and make another round of drinks to enjoy with dinner. $16
9:30 p.m. — N. heads home and D. and I are feeling the effects of our drinks so we call it a night early. I watch some Good Girls and fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $101

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Wide awake thanks to a sun-soaked bedroom. I don't mind though, I feel very rested. I decide to be lazy and scroll on my phone in bed for about an hour before I get up. Chug some water, and brush my teeth before I put on my Everlane bike shorts and a sports bra. I do a leg and ab workout in the living room, make myself some toast (sweet n' savoury always), and have a coffee.
12 p.m. — I feel bored at home so I go to my dad's earlier than I planned. On the way, I stop for more caffeine. It's such a beautiful day that I take my younger brother out for a walk with me. $3.51
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4 p.m. — After some appetizers and a delish gin and tonic made by dad, we sit down for Easter Dinner. Very informal considering there are only four of us. I've really grown to like these lowkey holidays that COVID has required. This is my second Easter in sweats, and I have to say, I don't know if I'll ever revert back.
6:30 p.m. — I take a nap on the couch after we eat and wake up feeling a little groggy. I head into the kitchen and steal some candy out of my brother's Easter basket hoping that the sugar rush will revive me. After a couple of handfuls of jelly beans, I'm feeling good. We play a board game as a family and then I decide it's time to get home so I can shower and get ready for work in the morning.
9:30 p.m. — I get in bed after packing leftovers for tomorrow's lunch and taking a shower. I journal for a bit, read a chapter of my book, and then I put on Legally Blonde and fall asleep a little past 11.
Daily Total: $3.51
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