A Week In Norton Shores, MI, On A $35,525 Salary

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Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a client services specialist working in wealth management who makes $35,525 per year and spends some of her money this week on Drybar dry shampoo.
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Occupation: Client Services Specialist
Industry: Wealth Management
Age: 28
Location: Norton Shores, MI
Salary: $35,525
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,097.10
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage $0 (My husband pays.)
Auto Loan Payment: $290
Health Insurance: $378.33 (My company pays me an extra $175 per paycheck to cover most of this.)
Gas & Electric: $90
Netflix: $10.99
Pandora Subscription: $5.29
iTunes Cloud Storage: $0.99
Gym Membership: $19.99
Book of The Month Club: $14.99
Auto Insurance: $100 (My husband and I share a policy that's auto-paid from his bank account. I Venmo him $100 per month to cover my portion.)
Cell Phone/iPad: $80.72 (I'm still on our family plan. I Apple Pay my portion to my mom each month.)
Roth 401(k) Contribution: $200 (My company also puts a 5% Safe Harbor contribution into my Traditional 401(k) each paycheck.)
Credit Card: $100 (Card balance is at about $550 due to having to buy a refrigerator for my dad, who is handicapped and unemployed.)
Savings: $400

Day One

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I lay in bed checking my phone. I peek through the bedroom curtains and see three deer in my backyard. I love this kind of stuff! Then I make my way to the kitchen to feed the cats, make coffee in my French press (since getting this and a Yeti, my Starbucks visits have DRAMATICALLY decreased) and scramble eggs for today's and tomorrow's breakfasts. I'm in the shower by 6:55, where I make the executive decision to skip washing my hair. By 7:55, I'm dressed and running from one end of the house to the other, collecting things I'll need for the day and kissing my husband and cats goodbye. When I reach the back door, I grab the work-food bag I prepped last night (English muffins, butter, apples, and individual creamy peanut butter cups) and shove in the two containers of eggs I made this morning, along with a change of shoes, a comb, and hairspray. We're out the door by 8 a.m.
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8:10 a.m. — Arrive at work 10 minutes late, which, unfortunately, is normal for me. I'm constantly trying to do as many things as I can in the morning, when in reality I just don't get up early enough. My boss is on spring break with his family this week, and my partner/work wife called in to say she's staying home with her son, who sounds like he has the flu. The stock market looks like it's gonna be a disaster today, and there's a possibility that we'll (i.e. I'LL) have to do a lot of selling in client accounts. My partner Facetimes me and we review our market strategies. We let out a giant sigh of relief when we realize it's not as bad as it looks, and agree to monitor the situation as we end our call. In the break room, I throw a cinnamon-raisin English muffin into the toaster oven and microwave fully-cooked bacon and the scrambled the eggs I made this morning. I take my breakfast back to my desk and continue working.
11:45 a.m. — I try to eat at regular intervals throughout the day to make sure I'm eating enough and to avoid mindless junk food snacking. I take prescribed Adderall every day, and it has really done a number on my appetite over time. I go back to the kitchen and cut up a Pink Lady apple and make a mug of the Yogi blueberry green tea, and take them back to my desk to eat with an individual container of creamy peanut butter. Then, I take a brain break and go to the American Eagle website, where I load up a cart with almost $400 worth of things I might want…and then quickly close out of the window before I make the mistake of charging any of it to my store card. My husband messages me on Skype to tell me which restaurant we're going to tonight for our friend's birthday, and I'm pumped — the one she picked is my favorite.
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12:30 p.m. — Before my lunch break, I check the status of my bank account and open my Excel budget spreadsheet to log the grocery purchase I made last night. At 1 p.m., I take my break. I typically talk to my sister on the phone every day at this time. I drive through Wendy's on my way home and order a cup of chili with crackers and chili seasoning packets ($2). Then I drive the five minutes to my house to relax for a bit. When I get home, I decide I'm not hungry yet, so I leave the chili in my car to bring back to work with me to eat later. I feed our girl-cat, since she got shorted during breakfast this morning, and then climb into bed to play Solitaire on my phone and rest for a while. Five minutes before 2 p.m., I head back to the office. $2
4:30 p.m. — It's almost time to leave for the day, and my husband messages me to suggest that I make a gift for our friend's birthday. I quickly log into my Cricut design space and work up two unique designs to iron on to cute canvas pouches for her. At 5, I run out to Hobby Lobby. The set of pouches I want isn't available, so I grab a different one that I hope will work ($3.99). I also grab a package of cute on-trend paper gift bags ($9.99), and as I approach the checkout, I spy another pouch that may also work ($4.99). After my 40%-off-one-item coupon, my total comes to $15.87. At home, I get to work cutting, weeding, and ironing on my designs. I ask my husband to text our friends and let them know we're running slightly late. We're out the door by 7 p.m. for our 10-minute drive to the restaurant. $15.87
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8:45 p.m. — Dinner is over and we had a great time. There were three couples and a single friend, and we sat at a round table with a fireplace in the middle. I ordered a beet and goat cheese side salad and my favorite lemongrass salmon with forbidden rice. My husband had a Caesar side salad, a cup of tomato soup (which was amazing), and a small plate of maple-glazed pork belly on creamy polenta. When the server brings our check, my husband pays ($74.28). We're back home at 9 p.m., and we change into comfy clothes to watch TV and hang out with the cats in the living room. We land on a documentary about JFK's final day and get totally sucked in. Before I know it, it's 11 p.m. and definitely time for bed.
Daily Total: $17.87

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — My second alarm goes off. I grab my phone, turn off the next alarm, and check Facebook, emails, and my bank account — it's payday! I see that I received a bonus and I make a mental note to update my budget spreadsheet when I get to work. Then I'm up, out of bed, and into the kitchen, where I make coffee and feed the cats. I shower, skipping my hair again (I'm kind of pushing it at this point), and then wake up my husband before I continue getting ready. Once again, I sprint through the house and am out the door by 8:02.
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9:30 a.m. — I'm getting hungry, so I head to the office kitchen for the same breakfast as yesterday. I take it back to my desk and send my husband a Venmo for my portion of the last two months of car insurance ($200). Then I go to Birchbox and re-order my favorite Supergoop CC cream ($32) and a sample pack of acid and vitamin-heavy skin care products ($25). I have $9.40 saved up in points, and I use my Honey browser add-on to find a discount code for 20% off and free shipping, which brings my total to $36.20. Bonus paydays are always spendy for me, as I use them to stock up on splurge-beauty products, household items we may be running low on, and other random purchases. $36.20
11:30 a.m. — Our boss is still on vacation, but my work wife is back today, and we want pizza. We order from a local place and my company buys — score! She runs out to pick up the pies and brings them back to the conference room, where we sit and chat while we eat. I'm taking my lunch break early today, so at 12:30 I head out. This is my sister's third week at her new job, and she's totally killing it, but she's still relearning to adapt to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for over a year. I make a mental note to assemble an "emergency kit" for her car as a gift. At 1:25, I head back to the office.
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1:45 p.m. — I want to surprise my sister with the emergency kit, so I log onto AmazonSmile and quickly assemble one for her. She spends a lot of her work time in the car, traveling between different appointments. I choose a clear box with a lid, a bottle of ibuprofen, Tide To Go pens, mini-lint rollers, plastic spoons and forks, bobby pins, and a stainless-steel water bottle ($75.62). I also sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime. I mark the items as gifts and write her a quick note. The order should arrive at her house in two days. $75.62
4:20 p.m. — Before I forget, I log into my bank accounts and to transfer some money into my savings. I need to straighten up the guest room and my craft room, and generally clean the house up a bit. Some of our favorite friends recently moved from Chicago to the city next to ours, and they're coming over on Saturday to see our new house for the first time!
7 p.m. — I get everything cleaned up and take care of other organizing tasks around the house. My husband is making dinner tonight: sautéed seasoned portobello mushrooms on top of olive oil and rosemary-flavored pearled couscous. I also roast brussels sprouts that need to be used up. After dinner, I lay on the sofa and catch up on my shows while my husband watches golf in the den. At around 10:15, we decide we're tired enough to head to bed.
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Daily Total: $111.82

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Once again I've snoozed my alarm too many times. I make coffee, feed the cats, and head to the bathroom to get ready for work. I shower and wash my hair with Pureology Hydrate shampoo and conditioner and exfoliate my face with St. Ives Green Tea scrub. I wake up my husband, blow dry my hair, and get dressed. We get to wear jeans on Fridays, so it makes getting dressed a little easier, but once again I'm running late and out the door at 8:05.
9 a.m. — This Friday is just me and my work wife, and we decide to order breakfast from IHOP. I get Swedish crepes with scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns. $11.85
1:10 p.m. — I take my lunch break and head out to Ulta to stock up on beauty goods. I pick up Drybar dry shampoo and dry texturizer (which comes with a free mini!), Ulta face primer and body spray, Formula 10.0.06 pore strips, a Soap & Glory eye mask, and Covergirl Super Sizer mascara. With $3 in reward points and a coupon for $3.50, my total comes to $83.71. Then I stop and get gas before my gas light comes on ($48.05). When I get back to work, I warm up a small dish of last night's leftovers and add dressing to the salad I packed. At 4:30, my partner tells me we can leave for the day! $131.76
6:30 p.m. — I've been puttering around the house since I got home, putting things away and straightening up in preparation for our friends' arrival tomorrow. My mom instilled in me an obsessive need for my house to be spotless for guests. My husband and I go back and forth about what to do for dinner, and finally decide on our favorite hole-in-the-wall bar around the corner. I order a burger with green olives and American cheese, and he orders nachos. We run into an old acquaintance of my husband's, who buys our first round of beers. After those, we have one more of the same, and pick up a drink for the old friend. There's a work acquaintance of mine sitting on the other side of us at the bar. He orders microwave pork rinds and we chat with him and laugh about the absurdity of such a thing…and then we buy a package to take home and try ourselves. The total comes to $26 before tip, and my husband pays.
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8 p.m. — Back home and settled into the sofa for the night. We turn on the fireplace (we got gas logs installed last month and are loving it) and catch up on an episode of The Curse of The Civil War Gold on History Channel — it essentially takes place in our backyard, and we love both the history and knowing that our city is getting national attention. I fall asleep during the show, and my husband wakes me up around 10:30 to go to bed.
Daily Total: $143.61

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I am baffled by my sleep patterns. During the week I have the hardest time getting out of bed before 7 a.m., but on the weekends I'm up at the crack of dawn. I make coffee, feed the cats, and eat cereal while I watch Jessica Jones on Netflix.
12 p.m. — I shower, get ready for the day, and then go out to Old Navy to use my SuperCash. But I leave without buying anything. Then I go to the grocery store, and on my way I get a call from my sister, who received my care package and wants to know why I'm "the best sister ever," which makes me feel all the feels. I pick up eggs, milk, juice, English muffins, coffee creamer, bacon, Red Bull, salsa, tortilla chips, and pretzels. After $14.08 in rewards, specials, and coupons, my total comes to $43.71. I use the prepaid rebate card I got in the mail yesterday, which I got when I got all four of my tires replaced last month. My husband texts while I'm at the store to see if I need him to do anything while he's also out and about — I don't, but I love that he asked.
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5 p.m. — Our friends have arrived! We give them a tour of our house and they crack open craft beers. Then we put on our warm weather gear and take them on a hike in our backyard. Our property backs up to what used to be a sand mine, and what is now a gorgeous and mostly untouched lake. We climb the dunes and check out the view. I'm reminded again of how lucky we are to live where we do and say a quiet bit of thanks to the universe for landing us here.
7 p.m. — We're starving, so we head downtown for food and drinks. Our first stop is our local distillery, which is Prohibition-themed and specializes in old-timey drinks. My husband and I both order Chesterfields. They. Are. Divine. Our friends order a Bloody Mary and a Black Betty. We also order spinach and artichoke dip, and a giant soft pretzel with cheese sauce ($77.84, which I pay for). Our next stop is a local sandwich place. Our friends and I order gyros, and my husband orders an antipasto salad with a side of cheese balls. I have one Oberon, and everyone else has a couple rounds of a few different beers. The tab comes, and our friends pick it up. $77.84
9:30 p.m. — Our final stop is back at our favorite hole in the wall. We each order a beer (which my husband pays for), but it's 9:30 at this point and we're all getting pretty tired. I finish half of mine and tell the crew it's time to go home — I'm dying to put on my sweatpants, play games, and relax.
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Daily Total: $77.84

Day Five

8 a.m. — I would love to stay in bed longer, but I have a bit of a headache, and I always try to make sure I'm up before our guests in case they need anything. I down ibuprofen with a giant glass of water and make a package of roast beef ramen noodles. Then I watch more Jessica Jones with the cats while I wait for people to wake up.
10 a.m. — Everyone is awake. I make coffee, scrambled eggs, oven bacon, and English muffins for us all. Our friends eat with us and then say their goodbyes. The rest of the day is spent glued to the sofa, watching golf and playing Sims 3 on my laptop.
6:30 p.m. — I make spaghetti with spicy ground turkey meat sauce and garlic bread from things we already have at home.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — Up and at it for my usual morning routine. I make scrambled eggs and separate them into two containers for breakfast over the next two days. I shower and should probably wash my hair, but I'm too lazy. Throw my hair in a bun, put on makeup, and get dressed in a pair of black Pixie ankle pants and a leopard print sweater from Old Navy. On my way out the door, I grab the scrambled eggs, a container of leftover spaghetti, and a can of plain soda water.
10 a.m. — My boss is back from spring break but will only be in the office for a few hours today, as he has to go out of town again for a couple of days. When he arrives this morning, we have a meeting in his office where we catch up on what we've all been up to for the last week, both professionally and personally. He tells us that he ordered a “very fancy” espresso machine for our office, and my work wife shares the cost with me on the DL — I am flabbergasted but so amused, because this is very typical of my boss. We laugh about it for the rest of the day. After our meeting, I check out my bank account and update my budget accordingly. I see a charge today for Netflix ($10.99).
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12:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover spaghetti and eat it at my desk before I take my lunch break. At around 1, I head home to talk to my sister and play Solitaire on my phone for an hour. The rest of the afternoon at work is busy.
4:45 p.m. — I realize I need to leave to get to my 5 p.m. massage therapy and chiropractic adjustment appointment across town. I shut the office down and head out. When my appointments are over, I pay for the visit using my husband's HSA card ($75). I look forward to these biweekly appointments, but I leave this one feeling almost more uncomfortable and in pain than I was before. I have some sort of undiagnosed injury/problem with my neck, upper back, and right shoulder, along with scoliosis. During my visit with my chiropractor, we decide that he probably can't do much more for me and he recommends that I get a referral from my primary care physician for a physical therapist. I make a mental note to log into my medical app and send my doctor a message with this request.
6:30 p.m. — Back at home, my husband and I straighten up from the weekend. We decide to get take out for dinner, and while he goes to pick it up, I take a shower and turn my bathroom into a spa. Earlier in the day, I received my Birchbox delivery with the “Acids & Vitamins” skin care kit, so I unpack it and read about what's included. I apply various creams and the eye mask I bought at Ulta earlier this week. I also soak off my old crusty shellac manicure. When my husband gets back with dinner (hot and tangy chicken wings with fries, which he paid for), we sit at the coffee table and eat together. Afterwards, I paint my nails and we watch TV for the rest of the night. Mondays always get us both, so we go to bed early at around 10 p.m.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — I'm up on time! Such a miracle. Apparently going to bed at a decent hour helps with this. I do my usual morning routine and I'm out the door by 7:55!
9:30 a.m. — Work has been pretty chaotic this morning. I'm guessing a lot of our clients think my boss is back from his vacation, which he was…but he's gone again. Sometime in the morning we get a package from Amazon — it's the espresso machine, a day early! My work wife and I open the box…and then another box…and then another box, until we finally find the machine. We spend the rest of the morning putting it together and trying to figure out how it works, in between fielding calls from clients and completing work tasks as they pop up. We determine that the machine is too big to fit where we originally wanted to put it, and we need to get a cart to keep it on.
12 p.m. — My work wife and I are starving. She gives me her debit card and I make a trip to Qdoba to grab lunch for us. We both order essentially the same thing: kids nachos with ground beef, black beans, rice, salsa, and sour cream. I make sure to ask for lots of chips, since I usually eat it in two sittings. The meals are $4.56 a piece, and I pay for them separately on our debit cards. Before I head back to work, I talk to my sister briefly on the phone. She makes me laugh with a hilarious story about my middle niece, a savage four-year-old with sass for days and the strongest will. $4.56
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5 p.m. — The rest of the afternoon flies by, which is great, because as soon as the work day is done, I'm headed to my friend's house in the next city over for dinner. I make the half hour drive to her house, and her pup greets me at the door. She's making grilled chicken and soba noodles with miso vinaigrette using a recipe from Cooking Light. Everything smells amazing, and it tastes amazing too. She and I take turns hosting each other for dinner every week or two. Sometimes we cook and sometimes we go out, but we always have a great time catching up.
8:30 p.m. — My friend's husband gets home from work and offers to take us for cocktails at a nice restaurant that's walking distance from their house. We sit at the bar and each order a cocktail — my friend gets a Paloma, I order an Aperol Spritz, and my friend's husband orders an Old Fashioned. My drink is wonderful, but I taste her husband's drink and immediately regret my choice — I love Old Fashioneds. The three of us chat about everything under the sun, and before I know it it's 10 p.m. My friend's husband pays our tab (three drinks for him, one for each of us girls), and we walk back to their house. I say my goodbyes and head back home. My husband is already in bed, so I crawl in and snuggle up.
Daily Total: $4.56
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.
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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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