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A Week In Rochester, NY, On A $82,348 Salary

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 penny.
Today: a financial analyst who makes $82,348 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bucket of grout.
Currency in USD.
Occupation: Financial Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 30
Location: Rochester, NY
Salary: $82,348
Net Worth: $207,600 ($115,500 in home equity, $30,100 in savings, $57,000 in investments/retirement accounts (457(b), Traditional and Roth IRA, Brokerage Account, $5,000 car)
Debt: $79,500 mortgage
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,450 (post ~$500 for taxes, ~$1,200 for pre-tax retirement and 457(b) contributions)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $547
Property Tax: $360
Gas/Electric: $100
Water: $12
Phone: $45
Cable/Internet: $96
Car Insurance: $64
Homeowner's Insurance: $55
Health Insurance: $0
Netflix: $17.99
Peloton Digital: $12.99
Spotify: $9.99
Pandora: $4.99 (for my dad)
Amazon Prime: $12.99
Local Newspaper: $9.99
Parking: $100
Roth IRA: $500
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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 and no. My parents' biggest concern was that I not go into significant debt in pursuit of my career. They would have been happy if I chose to attend a trade school or community college. However, I knew I wanted to go away to college to get the college experience since I was a pretty big loner in high school and knew I hadn't met "my people" yet. I'm very grateful that my parents paid the tuition portion of my college expenses (~$5,000 per year) and I paid for room and board (and eventually rent and living expenses when I moved off campus junior year). I worked 10-20 hours per week in high school, so I had some significant savings by the time I went to college. I worked part-time during college and had various full-time jobs during the summer months. I graduated with $8,500 in student loans and paid them off a year or so after I graduated thanks in large part to a year-long fellowship program, which provided a stipend to go towards loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I learned the value of money early on. My parents never discussed specifics about their finances, but we frequently discussed money and how it "doesn't grow on trees." Though we were eventually comfortably middle class, my parents always took pride in achieving an enjoyable, simple life while living below their means. We had old cars, lived in a small, one-bathroom house, and when my sister and I eventually took horseback riding lessons, my mom subsidised the cost by mucking stalls. My parents both came from large, lower-income families where one parent died young, and I believe that manifested in a bit of a scarcity mindset for both of them. Though I'm sure they didn't mean for it to, it made me feel somewhat cognizant of money and that spending it led to stress. Still, we wanted for nothing and I had a carefree childhood.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job at 14 doing event concessions and catering. I initially wanted the job to make my own money, and then I made friends and found I enjoyed the fast-paced, customer service-oriented work. It made me feel independent and I thought earning $6 an hour was the best thing ever.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I never worried about money, but there was always a vague sense of us not having enough. It's not that we didn't have enough to be comfortable, but my parents were frugal and worked too hard to spend frivolously. There was always emphasis on saving money anywhere possible.
Do you worry about money now?
I don't worry about money right now, but as a single woman, I have worked hard over the past several years to build up a safety net so that if I were to lose my job or face another challenge, it wouldn't be catastrophic.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Once I graduated college, I became financially independent. At 21, I was earning less than minimum wage during my year-long fellowship while living with friends, paying my own bills, and using food stamps. My parents absolutely would have helped me if I needed it, but I didn't want to have to ask.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.
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Day One

6:45 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and let myself snooze for a few more minutes. I don't fall back to sleep, so I grab my phone for a quick social media scroll. I have an early appointment for a visit to a radiology office to get an ultrasound on a sketchy lump on my neck and I know I should really get moving. I head to my workout/home office room across the hall and pick out a quick cycling class on my Roku app with a great playlist. I don't have a real peloton, but I've had a bike that cost like $400 for over a year now and I'm still loving it.
7:30 a.m. — I'm off the bike and I realise if I can leave soon, I will have time to swing by Home Depot to pick up some grout that I need for my kitchen renovation project. I change and head downstairs to drink a small protein shake and put my cold brew in a thermos. My two cats race downstairs, excited that it's breakfast time.
7:50 a.m. — I head out and listen to the Fake Doctors Real Friends podcast on the way to Home Depot. Besides grocery stores, I've spent the most time (and money!) at home improvement stores since the start of the pandemic. I'm in and out of there in five minutes thanks to self-checkout. $14.71
8:30 a.m. — I arrive at the radiologist's office right on time. I've never had an ultrasound before and it would have almost been relaxing if I wasn't so worried. $20
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9 a.m. — I call my sister on my way home to tell her about my appointment and that I'm going to mail a birthday card to one of our aunts with some lottery tickets (a tradition of ours). She asks if I can sign her name on the card and she'll Venmo me for half of the lottery cost. I know she'd do the same for me and I happily agree.
9:30 a.m. — I buy the lottery cards at the grocery store and drop the card in a blue mail dropbox. I spent $16, but I'll get reimbursed for half. $8
10 a.m. — I get back home and have some time before an appointment with stone fabricators to do measurements for the quartz slab backsplash I'm having installed in my kitchen. I had a matching quartz countertop installed a few weeks ago and can't believe how it transformed my kitchen! I bought my 100-year-old house about four years ago and I've added my own touches to it. I've been pleasantly surprised by the DIY skills that I've gained in the process. DIY projects were a creative outlet during the pandemic and got me through the stretches of lockdown when I was quarantined alone. I recently added new cabinets along one wall, which basically transformed my galley kitchen into a U-shaped kitchen. Now, I'm working on the three floating shelves that will go on that wall. I came up with a shelf design and built the first one so I need to make the other two. I head out to the garage where I keep my tools, rip down wood, and start to assemble the shelves.
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10:45 a.m. — The fabricator shows up and kindly ignores the sawdust in my hair. He gets to work using the laser measurer. I watch The Price Is Right because I'm a game show nerd. Ever since we went back to working in the office all the time, we have had no flexibility to work remotely, even though we did it for the full duration of the pandemic with no issues. I had to take PTO for this appointment, but still, I check my email.
12 p.m. — The fabricator has left and they'll be back in two weeks to install the backsplash! Pinching myself that a design I dreamed up is soon going to be a reality. I coat some chicken thighs in my favourite Aldi chicken spice blend and pop them in the air fryer while I get ready for work.
12:30 p.m. — The radiologist calls and starts out with a dramatic, "Have you seen your results yet?" But, he has relatively good news! Apparently, the lumps are due to swollen lymph nodes, so he doesn't recommend I take any action just yet, but he says I should monitor them and possibly do a biopsy soon. I call my sister to let her know.
12:45 p.m. — I start my short commute to work, eating the cucumber and bell peppers I packed. It's downpouring. Normally I park a few blocks from my office building because it's cheaper, but it's well worth it to pay more to park across the street to avoid working in waterlogged flats for the rest of the day. $6
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4:27 p.m. — I'm the last person in the office and resist the temptation to leave early. I still have work to do but it's the day before a long weekend and my motivation is seriously lacking.
5:30 p.m. — Finally time to leave! I'm glad I pushed through so that I won't be stressing about work over the long weekend. I blast Cruel Summer by T-Swift on the ride home to usher in the holiday weekend vibes as I drive to Aldi. We may be a Wegmans town, but Aldi has my heart. Tomorrow, my dad is coming to my house to help me finish installing white brick veneer on a wall in my kitchen and I want to make sure I have snacks for him. I buy a watermelon, cucumbers, some chocolate, juice, and pears. $15.73
6 p.m. — My mom calls me on the way home. I had called earlier but she has a patient-facing job and can't always answer the phone. I get home and decide to do a Peloton class. At 7, I pull up the Spectrum TV app on my phone to watch my favourite, Wheel of Fortune, while I finish the workout.
7:30 p.m. — So hungry! My freezer is quite full so I'm trying to make meals from what I have in there. I air fry a cod fillet, sear four jumbo scallops, and make some whole wheat spaghetti and steamed broccoli. I eat on my sectional (quite possibly my best quarantine purchase), watch TV, and relax the rest of the night.
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11:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother while I get ready for bed. In bed, I read Jessica Simpson's book and pass out.
Daily Total: $64.44

Day Two

8:55 a.m. — I slowly get up and start to tidy up. I vacuum upstairs, straighten out the guest bedroom since I assume my dad will stay the night, and clean the kitchen so we have a somewhat organised workspace amongst the home renovation chaos.
10:15 a.m. — I head out to run some errands and grab some more snacks. My dad is doing me a huge favour and the least I can do is feed him!
10:30 a.m. — I buy my dad a couple of slices of his favourite breakfast pizza. One slice is basically a quarter of a pizza, but still, I buy two. $11.36
11 a.m. — I head to our local farmers market, one of my favourite Saturday morning activities. I buy an iced coffee, a specialty loaf of bread, bell peppers, cherries, donuts for my dad, and raspberries. $16.50
12:15 p.m. — One last stop at a nearby Dollar Tree for some odds and ends. I need batteries, some cheap disposable supplies for my brick project, and ice cream for dad. $7.32
12:30 p.m. — Dad is going to be here later than expected so I have some time. I mow the lawn and listen to the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast and try to hold in my laughter so my neighbours don't think I'm a maniac. I cut up the fresh fruit I bought and I enjoy the minimal cleanup that is a major perk of my new workstation sink. Truly life-changing!
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2:30 p.m. — I finally finish building the two floating shelves in the garage while I play a UEFA soccer game on my SpectrumTV app. Once that's done, I mix up some mortar and start laying bricks.
3:30 p.m. — Dad shows up and he is hungry! We eat a bit and discuss the project. He's always so eager to help me with my home improvement projects and I would be lost without him. Plus, we always have fun doing it. We set up the wet saw he brought and get to work.
9:15 p.m. — The work is tedious but we make so much progress, even with our frequent snack breaks! Miraculously everything is level and looking great. We are both tired and it's dark out so we call it a day. There are still some bricks that I will need to cut later but I can use my manual tile cutter and it will be just fine. I had planned to get us subs for dinner but everywhere is closed now, whoops. I cook a frozen pizza and we continue to eat our snacks. Dad has his ice cream.
12 a.m. — After watching Dateline (unsurprisingly, the ex-boyfriend did it!) and part of a silly movie, it's time for bed.
Daily Total: $35.18

Day Three

8:45 a.m. — I wake up and head downstairs to clean up a bit. Dad gets up and I heat up a slice of his breakfast pizza in the air fryer and he is amazed by how well it works. It's the little things. We eat, have coffee, and hang out on the front porch. I put one of my cats on his leash and he enjoys the sunny morning with us.
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11:30 a.m. — Dad heads out. Even though I usually see my parents monthly, it's always hard to say goodbye. I relax for a bit until I finally get off my butt to do my Peloton workouts.
3:30 p.m. — I head out to a good friend's house for a barbecue. On the way, I swing by Old Navy to return a few things. Within one minute of arriving at the BBQ, I have a baby on my hip and a glass of white wine in my hand. Parties certainly look different since we entered our 30s, but I love these kiddos. Luckily we have all been vaccinated since spring, so these types of gatherings are becoming more and more normal.
8 p.m. — After a great time, I go home, lay more bricks, and stop working at 10. The book Before We Were Yours is finally available to borrow from the library on Kindle. So excited to read it! That reminds me that I have a credit for Book of the Month that was a (great) gift from a friend. I read the book reviews on Goodreads and select Razorblade Tears and an add-on book. I turn on Hacks and try to wind down. $10.79
Daily Total: $10.79

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — Is there any better feeling than not needing to set an alarm on a Monday morning? I sleep in and eventually get up to do my Peloton workouts. Today's definitely one of the days I regret not having central air. Sprawled out on the floor when I'm done, I'm a hot mess and am only motivated to get up to turn on The Price Is Right and make a protein shake.
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1:00 p.m. — I'm back to cutting and laying the last of the brick veneer. I let Spotify curate a playlist for me based on Ludacris' Moneymaker and the early aughts club vibe has me dancing to the project's finish line. Finally done! Hallelujah! I box up the unused bricks and load them into my car. So excited that I can vacuum the main floor of my house and clean up the mess.
5 p.m. — I experiment with some grout techniques on some spare bricks while watching the phenomenal U.S. Women's soccer team play against Mexico. All of a sudden, the fully vaccinated life has come roaring into view and I have plans with friends every night this week (my introverted self is mildly stressed about this), so the grouting extravaganza will probably have to wait until the weekend.
7:30 p.m. — I make a quick dinner of frozen veggies, whole wheat spaghetti, and a leftover chicken thigh while I watch Wheel of Fortune. Then, I'm out the door to my old roommate's house to watch The Bachelorette. On the way, I stop to pick up my three-month supply of birth control. Since it's generic, it only costs $15 total. $15
10 p.m. — Sure, The Bachelorette may be trashy TV but it's a great excuse to catch up with my friend. In between all the nonsense and drama, the tough conversations around race and sexual consent this season have also been a refreshing change of pace.
10:30 p.m. — At home, I clean up, shower, and read in bed.
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Daily Total: $15

Day Five

7 a.m. — I slowly get up and get ready. I do 40 minutes of a workout and will need to find some time to do the spin portion of the day's plan. I can't help but be in a better mood as I attempt to do one-armed planks to appease one of my cats who's lying beneath me, begging for belly rubs and chin scratches.
8:30 a.m. — I drink a protein shake and pack lunch. Listening to the Morbid podcast, I drive into work. I pay to park. $4
8:30 a.m. — I enjoy my iced coffee and watermelon at my desk as I dive into the Monday-est Tuesday ever. I see one of my favourite financial bloggers has a sale on her multi-year net worth dashboard. I bought an earlier, single-year version of the dashboard and have been meaning to upgrade to this new tool, so I pull the trigger on Etsy. I've learned a lot about the Financial Independence/Retire Early (FI/RE) mindset over the past two years and this tool has helped me visualise my progress towards my goals. $25.36
12 p.m. — Lunch is the leftover spaghetti, a chicken thigh, a hard-boiled egg, and some frozen veggies.
4 p.m. — I get a lot of work done but I'm also distracted. I recently accepted a tentative offer for a new job and am waiting for the final offer. My job is very specialized from that of my coworkers and my workload skyrocketed during the pandemic, resulting in a ton of unpaid overtime and extreme stress. I had been very motivated, thinking that my hard work would be noticed, but that quickly waned after watching several men with less experience recently got promoted ahead of me. When I tried to have a conversation about my role and future opportunities with my boss, I was told I need to "pay my dues" and "put in my time" to prove myself (after 8+ years here...). And that's when I knew I should explore other opportunities. However, it's too premature to be giving notice to my employer, so I'm trying to put some sustainability measures in place as I go so my time during my notice period isn't so intense.
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5:30 p.m. — I leave work and meet up with a colleague to catch up over wine and cheese. We sit on the sidewalk at a lovely wine bar, people watching and chatting. It feels wonderfully Parisian. She is way too generous and insists on paying, but we agree that I will pick up the next tab.
8 p.m. — Aldi just closed so I head over to Wegmans instead to pick up a couple of essentials — cold brew coffee, almond milk, spray butter, and yes, denture cleaning tabs for my new Invisalign trays I'm picking up tomorrow. Between this and the game shows, I fear I am the embodiment of a 30 going on 100-year-old single gal. $12.12
8:30 p.m. — I know I said I would spin tonight but I don't have it in me. A walk sounds far more enjoyable and I have a Chatty Broads episode to listen to on my podcast app.
9 p.m. — I start inputting info in my new financial dashboard and realize it's time to make my (optional) monthly additional principal payment towards my mortgage ($450). I used to do $800-$1,000 per month extra, but this year I shifted my priorities towards increasing my investments. $450
9:30 p.m. — I also remember I need to send my sister a "congrats on crushing the MCAT" gift. I send her a box of wine and will eventually receive $25 cashback via Rakuten. $96.90
11 p.m. — I'm about to start getting ready for bed when I remember I bookmarked two more job postings that expire tonight. Even though I have a tentative job offer, nothing is finalised yet, so I'm making sure to pursue all opportunities that interest me.
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12:30 a.m. — Whoops, it's late. Did I really need to watch this couple begrudgingly compromise on a home on House Hunters? Time for bed!
Daily Total: $588.38

Day Six

8 a.m. — Well dang, I am on the struggle bus this morning. I don't get up until I absolutely have to. I pack cold brew, watermelon, and a granola bar for my appointments this morning. My orthodontist's office is just around the corner and I pick up my new Invisalign overnight retainers. They were $200 and I paid for them last week when they did my impressions.
9 a.m. — Once again, I drive to Home Depot. I return the excess brick and a few other things. I realise I'm going to need a lot more grout, so I buy three more bags. $48.72
9:45 a.m. — I arrive at my doctor's appointment for my new patient exam. He refers me to an ear nose and throat doctor to check out the lump on my neck, although he doesn't seem terribly concerned. The copay is $20. $20
11 a.m. — I took a half-day for my appointments, so I go home, watch The Price Is Right, make lunch, and do laundry. I thawed an Aldi ahi tuna steak overnight and whisk up a marinade with soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, and orange juice. After a quick sear, it is divine! So good that I eat it straight out of the pan. One of the biggest perks of living alone is there's no one there to judge you, right?
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1 p.m. — Back at the office. I eat quinoa and my daily bag of peppers and cucumbers. I listen to the England vs. Finland UEFA soccer game and I'm the last to leave.
5:45 p.m. — At home, I get some exciting mail — a $50 check from my health insurance company for meeting certain fitness goals, a new credit card that will give me a substantial sign up bonus to help with my travel hacking goals, and extremely less exciting, a property tax bill of $2,900. I strategically signed up for the credit card this month because paying these taxes will be a huge boost to meeting the minimum spend. I won't pay until a couple of days before the deadline, though, so I have a few weeks.
7 p.m. — While watching Wheel of Fortune, I air-fry macadamia-crusted flounder and heat up frozen veggies. I make a quinoa and kale cake and also a crab cake (which I will eat cold) for lunch tomorrow. I'm late to leave to meet my friends and can't figure out what to wear, so I just wear my work outfit but swap out the cardigan for a jean jacket. This is millennial-chic, right?
7:35 p.m. — I meet my friends at a wine bar. We catch up over flights of wine. It means so much to me that they carve out time most weeks to get together. My friends order an additional glass and insist on splitting the tip between them to make up the difference, since we split the overall bill evenly. $30.60
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10 p.m. — After a great time, we head out. I call my mother on the way home.
11 p.m. — Trying not to repeat last night's mistakes, I head upstairs to get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $99.32

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Another rough morning, I need to get it together. I scroll through the apps on my phone instead of getting up. Distracted by finance bloggers, DIYers, and travel accounts on Insta, I'm up a little too late. Oh well.
8:45 a.m. — I'm at work eating watermelon and drinking cold brew (shocking!). I turn on the Hamilton soundtrack and make it loud because a coworker is popping his gum, triggering my misophonia. Ah, the joys of being back in the office.
12 p.m. — I realize that I forgot to Venmo request my mom and sister for our June phone bill. I send the requests and my sister completes it right away. I have a VerizonUp reward and choose the $3 Amazon gift card option. I need a new water bottle and I buy a large one that I used to have and loved. $13.20
2:30 p.m. — I'm going to a baseball game with friends tonight and I realize I won't have time for dinner or to make lunch for tomorrow. I order a salad, falafel, and steak and chicken kabobs from my favourite middle eastern place to pick up at 5. I tip 20%. $23.82
3 p.m. — I've been trying to maximise my insurance benefits. I learn I can see a dietitian for a $25 copay, so I make a telehealth appointment for next week.
5 p.m. — I leave work and battle more torrential rains on the drive.
5:28 p.m. — OMG I get a call from the restaurant asking if I am still planning to pick up my food! How could I possibly forget?! I'm 15 minutes into a workout and run out the door to pick up my food. When I get to the restaurant, the owner and I laugh about it. I try to tip him in cash, but he refuses.
7 p.m. — The rain has cleared! I drive to my friend's house and the four of us head out to the baseball stadium in his car. I Venmo my friend for my ticket. $6.50
7:30 p.m. — At the stadium, I buy a beer. I haven't been to any sporting event since before the pandemic and it feels at once exhilarating and nostalgic. $10.50
10:30 p.m. — We drive back to my friend's house. One of my friends is visiting from out of town and we haven't seen him in forever, so we decide to keep the night going. We have seltzers on the front porch and reminisce about college. The guys try to convince me to join Hinge, but I'm not so sure I'm ready for that phase of post-vaccine life...
12:45 a.m. — I finally have to call it a night. I'm hosting a bonfire on Saturday night and my friend thinks he will make it, so I hope this isn't the last time I see him before he leaves. I'm in bed way too late at 12:45, but tomorrow is Friday and nights like this are totally worth it.
Daily Total: $54.02
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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.

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