A Week In Spartanburg, SC, On A $38,500 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 last dollar.
Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a case manager working at a nonprofit who makes $38,500 per year and spends it on chicken McNuggets.
Occupation: Case Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 24
Location: Spartanburg, SC
Salary: $38,500
Paycheck (Monthly): $2,547.08
Uber Monthly Income: $500-$900, depending on how often I drive
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $750, including water bill. (I live with my husband, but he isn't working due to his immigration status, so I pay all the bills. Since he isn't a U.S. citizen, we don't share finances at the moment.)
Student Loan Payment: $44.57 minimum, but sometimes I pay more.
Car Loan Payment: $250.31
Electricity: $50-$100, depending on the season.
Internet & Cable: $116.95
Car Insurance: $89.90
YMCA Membership: $60
Credit Cards: ~$500. (I'm paying off a couple at the moment, thanks to my stupid 18-year-old self.)
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Day One

7 a.m. — I get out of bed and start getting ready for work. Make coffee in my French press and take my meds while I wait for the conference call to start.
7:30 a.m. — The call is for a service club that was created to help the organization I work for, and as usual, I wonder why I'm on it. I never contribute anything, so joining them each month feels a bit pointless to me. Still, the club itself is fantastic and does great work, and I don't have complaints about that. During the call, I keep myself on mute and check my bank account. I see that our immigration checks have cleared and am over the moon! Our first application was rejected because of bounced checks, so this is a huge deal.
8 a.m. — Leave for the office a little late.
9 a.m. — The team meets to discuss our upcoming summer camp, which is going to be wonderful this year (mainly because we are all on the same page about everything).
10:25 a.m. — Start contacting my families to check in with them. There's one in particular that my manager wants to make sure we help.
11:30 a.m. — Tell my manager I'm leaving for lunch and she stops me to discuss my impending move. Basically, she doesn't think I'm ready yet (neither do I) and says there are a lot of factors that need to be reviewed and discussed beforehand, which I completely agree with. Eventually, I leave and go to McDonald's, where I order a 10-piece McNugget combo with a Coke. $6.47
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12:45 p.m. — Back at the office. I spend my time preparing for an event we have at work this week and updating my case notes. We do this event monthly and at this point, it's second nature to me.
5 p.m. — The clock strikes 5 and I'm ready to go, but our intern's Lyft hasn't arrived yet. I wait with her until it comes.
5:45 p.m. — I take my husband to the YMCA for his spin class and then make my way to Wendy's because I'm starving. I order a "Son of a Baconator," fries, and a Coke. When I finish eating, I turn on the Uber Driver app and ride around to see if I can get any fares, but no dice. $8.51
6:30 p.m. — Pick up my husband and we head home. I watch TV while he showers and makes dinner. He reminds me that I still need to watch Sunday's This Is Us episode, and I turn it on. I think about going out and Uber-ing again, but I decide to stay home and have a glass of wine instead.
9 p.m. — Bedtime! My left ear clogs up while I'm trying to fall asleep, which means I won't hear well tomorrow.
Daily Total: $14.98

Day Two

7 a.m. — Usual morning routine: meds and getting ready for work.
7:30 a.m. — I'm ready early and have time to stop at Starbucks. The balance on my Starbucks card is low, so I add $10. I order a venti white chocolate mocha with an extra espresso shot and head to work. $10
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8 a.m. — Same thing as yesterday: prepare for the family event and update my case notes. It's a boring week at the office.
12:45 p.m. — Leave for lunch. My manager talks me into trying a popular (and cheap!) Japanese place. I order hibachi steak that comes with mushrooms and carrots, and it's delicious! I wonder why I've waited this long to try it. After I eat, I visit my husband at home until it's time for me to go back to work. $7.83
1:45 p.m. — Back to the office for more case calls!
5 p.m. — I turn on the Uber app and remind the intern that I'm an Uber driver, so I can take her home sometime. We wait for her Lyft again together. After she leaves, I get a ride request!
5:10 p.m. — Drop off my passenger and check for. other potential rides. My husband is at the Y until 6:30, so I have time to kill. I get a ride request an hour later from a town in the opposite direction. I take it and finish right at 6:30. At least I made some extra money!
6:40 p.m. — Pick up my husband and we go home. He suggests ordering pizza, which I'm all for, and we decide on Domino's. I order a medium pepperoni pizza and he builds his own. I add an order of chocolate lava cake — SO good. He pays.
7:25 p.m. — I notice that our order status has changed a couple of times and call to see where the pizza is. The dispatcher says they are low on delivery drivers and that the wait is two hours, so I go pick up the food in person and request a refund for the delivery fee.
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7:50 p.m. — We eat and watch TV as usual, and I have a glass of wine. My cat cuddles with me and I fall asleep on the couch in the middle of This Is Us.
Daily Total: $17.83

Day Three

7:50 a.m. — Leave for the office. I research how much an outstanding traffic ticket might cost me. Today is the court hearing and I'm extremely nervous. I got a citation for going 92 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone when I was out. of town for work a few months ago. Luckily, I have an affordable lawyer who can go to court for me.
8 a.m. — I distract myself with event preparation and a couple of research projects I've been putting off, but it doesn't completely help. I feel a panic attack coming on and text my two best friends to help me calm down. They're a lot of help, and I grab a water bottle from the office fridge.
12:15 p.m. — My manager goes home for the day since she's feeling sick, and I go to Starbucks for Double-Star Day. I already need to reload my card again (that was fast!) and put another $10 on it. Then I go to McDonald's (again) and order a 10-piece nugget and fries. I'm stress-eating like crazy this week, but eating out at lunchtime also gives me time to myself that I don't really get now that I'm married. I love my husband — but we introverts need solitude now and then. $16.46
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12:45 p.m. — Stop at Spinx on the way back for gas. $15.01
1 p.m. — Distract myself with case notes and research until it's time for my meeting. It's a bi-monthly meeting where local nonprofits come together to learn about other community resources, events, and fundraisers. It's also an opportunity for agencies to get advice on how to handle certain cases.
1:45 p.m. — Leave for the meeting and struggle to find a place to park. The parking in downtown Spartanburg is awful. I'm one of the last people to arrive, so I get a pretty terrible seat. Today's organization isn't one I'll be using (for now), so I feel a bit out of place — but, at least it gets me out of the office for a bit!
2:45 p.m. — Check our mail and procrastinate more by registering for an upcoming young professionals event (it's free for members) and filling out their member survey. My job pays for my membership, so this is totally work-related, right?
3:50 p.m. — Husband suggests I call my lawyer, and I do. It's great news: the judge reduced my speed to nine miles per hour over the limit and my insurance may go up, but that's it! No driving school, suspension, or anything major, which I was nervous about — I'm thrilled. I call my husband to tell him, but he doesn't pick up. I also text my parents and my best friends from earlier. What makes it even sweeter is that I have 40 days to pay the fine and court costs.
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5 p.m. — Turn on Uber so I can get a ride request from the intern to take her home. Somehow, another request gets to me first, and it's a long ride (which means more money), so I take it.
5:25 p.m. — This lady is going to the Charlotte airport! I drive her up there and we have a great conversation before I drop her off and drive home. I try to find more rides on the way back, but no luck.
8:30 p.m. — Come home, change clothes, grab pizza and wine, and plop on the couch with my husband. We watch last week's Saturday Night Live and I am slightly disappointed.
9:20 p.m. — Cuddle my husband until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $31.47

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — I wake myself up by some miracle. I consider getting out of bed and being productive but I've been a terrible wife lately, so I stay in bed and hug my sleeping husband.
7 a.m. — Usual morning routine, but today, I add makeup to the mix! I don't wear it all the time but today is a big day: not only is is the monthly family event, but I'm also doing hospital visits in Greenville. While I get ready, I add $20 to my Starbucks card. $20
7:35 a.m. — I've been skipping my daily meditations for a couple of weeks, which has made my anxiety increase. I take a minute to meditate using the Aura app, and I feel better already.
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9 a.m. — Arrive at the hospital only to learn my first appointment has been moved to tomorrow. Sometimes communication isn't my families' strong suit. I text the other families I'm visiting to see if they want anything from the cafeteria. They don't, but I need coffee. I go to the Starbucks in the hospital's cafeteria and order a grande hazelnut latte. I pay with the app.
11:15 a.m. — Stop at the gas station, which has a McDonald's. I get something to eat and pay for it with my work credit card ($6.47 expensed) since it's a business trip. $20
12:10 p.m. — Back at the office, I start to get nervous about the event tonight, even though I know it'll be fine. I also still haven't gotten the email from my lawyer about how to handle the fees I owe, so I'm very nervous about that, too. For a slow week at the office, it's turning out to be high-anxiety!
3:25 p.m. — Starting to feel sick...
4 p.m. — Go home to have a moment alone and pick up my husband. He is not home and I'm irritated at his lack of time management skills.
4:30 p.m. — Leave for the event, which is at a church. (These events are not designed for atheists like me.) The moment at home does make me feel much better, and I ask my friend (who is coming to volunteer) if she can pick up my husband on her way over.
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6 p.m. — I eat some of the catered food; as usual, it's terrible. It's baked ziti (which was not what I asked them to deliver), salad, and garlic bread.
6:25 p.m. — Break out the birthday cake and sing to the February birthdays! The cake is gone by the time I want some, so I miss out. Once everyone finishes their cake, they break out into their groups. One of the moms leaves her disabled baby with me, which I'm uneasy about. But I manage – he's a sweetheart!
7:25 p.m. — Ask my husband, friend, and the intern to start cleaning the crafts up. Thankfully it's almost time to leave!
7:45 p.m. — Finally done! The intern isn't feeling Uber today (understandable), so I take her home.
8:10 p.m. — Meet my husband and friend at our favorite brewery for a beer. I LOVE the Hefeweizen here. I order one and join them. My husband orders hummus and pita with his beer (he pays for his order), so I help him finish that while we talk about the night and other goings-on in our lives. $6.40
9:30 p.m. — We close out and head home. Husband and I stay up talking for a bit before I cave in and go to bed.
Daily Total: $46.40

Day Five

7 a.m. — I finish my morning routine early and I treat myself to a Friday Starbucks (paying with my Starbucks card) before heading to the office.
7:45 a.m. — I get to the office early and have more time to get little things done!
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11:10 a.m. — I remember that I need to schedule an immigration medical exam for my husband. I call and set an appointment for Tuesday morning, and tell my manager that I will be late that day. I call my husband about the appointment and he says USCIS sent him an email saying they will refund one of our filing fees. They won't talk to me without him there, so I have to wait until we're both available.
11:40 a.m. — I meet my husband for lunch at a nearby deli. It has amazing sandwiches that are made with local, organic ingredients. We both order spinach wraps with pulled chicken, cheese, avocado, and tomato with special mayo. He orders water and I have sweet tea. I pay. $23
12:45 p.m. — Husband sends me the rest of the money we need for his exam via PayPal. I drop him off and go back to work. USCIS calls when I park and, yet again, they can't tell me anything. Sigh.
12:50 p.m. — Husband texts me to see if he can add the Latino package to our cable account. It's $7.99 for 40 channels and it means fewer video downloads, so I say yes. Now we can watch our favorite Spanish shows at home!
5 p.m. — After a long afternoon of discussions, calls, texts, emails, and filing, it's FINALLY the weekend! I pick up my husband at home so we can run errands. We go to Supercuts first for haircuts and I get an eyebrow waxing as well. (We each pay for our own haircuts.) $52
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7 p.m. — We go to the grocery store and buy milk, bread, and a frozen pizza. Between the two stores, the total is $5.76 for everything. I love my cheap grocery stores. $5.76
7:45 p.m. — Husband puts the pizza in the oven and we watch TV. I plan on Uber-ing later, so I only drink a small glass of wine.
8:50 p.m. — My tired brain thinks it's a good idea to take a short nap before driving...but I fall asleep and don't wake up until the next morning.
Daily Total: $80.76

Day Six

8 a.m. — Get up, get dressed, and turn on Uber. It's gross and rainy, which makes me think it'll be a good day for rides. I stop at Starbucks for a latte and pay with my app.
2 p.m. — I only get one ride all day and I feel a bit defeated. I go home to get ready for a dinner date with the hubby. I make an extra effort to look nice, which means curling my hair. It turns out okay, but I do end up with a nice burn on the left side of my neck. Ouch.
5:15 p.m. — Eat at the gourmet burger place downtown. We order mac and cheese, brussels sprouts, and fancy burgers with fries. Hubby orders a Heineken and I get a Moscow Mule. Our waitress isn't that great, so I don't tip her as well as I normally would. I pay. $57
6:15 p.m. — Go for a drink at the brewery next door to the restaurant. We each get a beer and play a lot of foosball. I lose every time. $10
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7:15 p.m. — Go to Ingles to get something chocolatey to share and other miscellaneous items. Husband buys deodorant and I get ear drops and a few other things. On the way to the self-checkout, I spot Reese's, which I've been craving for weeks. I buy three bags just because ($12). $39.17
7:40 p.m. — Go home and watch our favorite show from Spain on the couch for the rest of the night.
Daily Total: $106.17

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Get up, get dressed, and go to feed and walk my boss' dogs. She and her husband live very close to us, so she asks us to watch their dogs when they're out of town. She graciously pays us, even though I would do it for her for free. After the. walk, I turn on Uber. I'm immediately busy and it takes me to Greenville. At some point, I stop at McDonald's for a biscuit, two hash browns, and a latte, though none of it is very satisfying. $8.50
11:35 a.m. — Take a break to visit a friend who's still in college at her apartment. We talk about random stuff and our plans for tonight; her dad is coming to town and wants to take us to dinner. The timing still isn't set, so I tell her to let me know when my husband and I should get to her apartment later. I stop at the McDonald's near the complex for fries and a Coke to try and make up for yesterday's letdown. From there, I get back on the road. I'm not as busy as before, but I still get some rides here and there. $3.12
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2:55 p.m. — Get home and I'm exhausted, so I opt for a nap before getting ready for dinner. It goes longer than planned and when I wake up, we're rushed.
5:15 p.m. — Feed and walk the dogs before I go to Greenville.
7 p.m. — Go to dinner at a very fancy restaurant in downtown Greenville and it's AMAZING! We order two bottles of wine, split two appetizers of beef tenderloin bites and crab dip, each order an entrée (I order the coq au vin), and share sides of asparagus, gouda mashed potatoes, and mushrooms. To top it all off, we share tres leches cake and crème brûlée. My friend's dad pays.
10 p.m. — Husband and I head home, not realizing how late it is! We stop at my boss' house to walk the dogs one more time, but my husband tells me to go home and says he'll do it for me; he's the best. I have trouble getting to sleep, so when he comes home, he joins me in bed and helps me doze off.
Daily Total: $11.62
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.
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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