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A Week In Detroit, MI, On A $100,000 USD 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 project manager who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on NARS concealer.
Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Power Distribution
Age: 31
Location: Detroit, MI
Salary: $100,000
Net Worth: ~$338,800 (Estimated home value: ~$389,000, rollover IRA from previous company: $126,759, current company IRA: $10,082, Roth IRA: $41,264, mutual fund: $12,716, individual stock account: $96, checking: $5,954, savings: $32,967 minus debt)
Debt: $280,019 (car loan: $5,019 looking to pay this off in the next few months, mortgage: $275,000)
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,750 (after health insurance, HSA, dental and vision insurance, 8% contribution to IRA)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,620 ($1,520 rent, $75 concierge, $25 parking for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom in Detroit)
Mortgage: $1,772 (I bought a condo in Seattle in December, 2020 that I am now renting out. A property management company takes 8% of the $1,595 rent, so I have "condo carrying costs" of $305 because the rent I charge doesn't cover my full expenses.)
Car Payment: $189
Internet: $60.73
Phone: $65 (pay this to my parents)
Disability & Life Insurance: $58.13
Electricity: $60
Water: $35
Auto & Renters Insurance: $180
Landlord Insurance: $24
YouTube TV: $64.99
Amazon: $13.77
Netflix: $9.91
Spotify: $9.99
Airline Credit Card Fee: $95
Savings: $1,000 to my mutual fund
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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, there was an expectation, especially because both of my parents went to graduate school. I received a full-ride, merit-based scholarship to my state university that covered all four years of undergrad and I got a one-year research assistant stipend for my master's degree. I worked during college to have spending money and savings. I am blessed to have had this scholarship because I know it gave me a financial foundation to be able to save to buy my condo and grow my net worth.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents did pretty well teaching us about money and they were very frugal with us as kids. My parents took us to the bank when we were kids to open up our own bank accounts and deposit money. They emphasised not spending more than you should and balancing your account. They would emphasise that we were expected to get good jobs and work for our own money, that we wouldn't be "trust fund" kids. That instilled a good work ethic in me and made me want to build my own wealth. I picked up their frugal saving habits.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at 13 as a soccer referee and I did that job for five years. It allowed me to to save up for my first MacBook and also made me more assertive, because I was incredibly shy as a kid and was usually the only woman and black referee.
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Did you worry about money growing up?
I was fortunate and privileged to have not had to worry about money growing up. My mom worked for 10 years before she had kids so she was a stay-at-home mom while my dad worked. We had very comfortable lives on my dad's one income. I think I was slightly worried after the '08 crash with everything in the news about job losses and seeing what my friends' parents went through, but, fortunately, my father's job was not affected.
Do you worry about money now?
Because I have a frugal mindset, I feel an anxious urge to always save, save, save even though I have great cushion. However, the pandemic showed how easily life can change. I look at my Mint app and have my own Excel document to track spending and savings.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent when I got my first post-college job, in engineering, at 23. However, I will note that I paid for everything except health insurance until I got kicked off at 26. To be fair, their coverage was incredible compared to the high-deductible plans my old company offered. I have quite a bit in liquid savings as well as my mutual fund if I do need to dip in for an emergency. I used portions of my Roth IRA, savings, and mutual fund to pay the 10% down payment on my Seattle condo a year ago and have been fortunate to build those savings back up. My parents did not contribute to my down payment. If absolutely necessary, I could live with my parents.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up, roll over in bed, and turn on my laptop to begin work. Back story: I got this job back in May because I had been in my old field for seven years and I wanted a change. I got my PMP in December, 2020 and had been wanting to transition to project management and move away from pure engineering. Also, I had been dating a guy long-distance for two years who lived in Detroit so I moved here for him. I lived with him for less than two months before he decided to break up with me, citing issues that honestly should have been resolved on his end before I made the big decision to move 2,000 miles. Fortunately, I found a tenant in August and I demanded my ex pay for my moving costs to an apartment up the road, which he agreed to. I'm fortunate that my job is remote because I spent a lot of time back in my hometown with family, but have made a commitment to stay in Detroit for at least a year and not be run out because of some stupid guy.
12 p.m. — I have a slow day. My job is pretty administrative (processing orders, communicating with external customers, communicating with the plants), but I like it. I've also had the chance to go to job sites to see our products installed and meet customers face-to-face so they remember there's a human behind that email telling them their order has been delayed due to the global supply chain crisis. I take a break for lunch, which is leftover tortellini pasta and sautéed kale with olive oil, butter, salt, and red pepper flakes.
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3 p.m. — I get a text from my brother, J., in our sibling group chat confirming that he received our dad's gift. It's a family history book with information imported from Ancestry.com and pictures of my dad, his parents, and up to four generations back. It's profound because, like most black families, we can only go back so far, but it is cool to see where our ancestors came from, what they overcame, and how far we've come. My dad is turning 70 in February, and we are celebrating at my brother's house. The book cost $75, but my two siblings will Cash App me their share. $25
6 p.m. — I finish work and text my friend, D. Every Wednesday, I do trivia. (Note: I'm vaxxed and boosted as is everyone I hang out with this week, and we all wear masks when we are out.) We end up winning first place (a $20 gift card to the bar) and then lose the second round. I get two margs and a Coors Light. $31.75
10 p.m. — D. and his boyfriend, K., don't want the night to end just yet, so we go up the street to a townie bar to get a nightcap. They buy me a beer. I break $2 into quarters, so we can play some 50-cent games. As I'm coming back from the bar to drop off our empties, I make eye contact with this guy and hold it and smile. He sees me again on his way to the restroom and gets up the courage to come and talk to me. My friends are leaving, and I say I'm cool to stay and talk with this guy. He's very nice. I find out he's 40, divorced with two kids, has a good job, and is very friendly. He walks me to my car and asks for my number. This is definitely an ego boost, and I'm always open for a date. I make it home and crash around midnight. $2
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Daily Total: $58.75

Day Two

8 a.m. — I once again roll over and open my laptop. I recognise I should probably stop starting my day working in bed but I usually end it at my desk in the living room. It's just so convenient. I'll do better, I swear (spoiler: I don't). I put on NPR.
12 p.m. — I'm out of electric toothbrush heads and I need a new wide-tooth comb so I place an order on Amazon in between meetings and lunch. Lunch is tortellini and Aldi tomato and Parmesan soup. I also make a salad of spinach, grapes, mozzarella cheese, and ranch dressing. I try to make my La Croix fancier by serving it over ice in a stemless wine glass with fresh lemon. $32.81
3 p.m. — I keep working through the day. I have The People's Court playing on YouTube in the background.
5 p.m. — After a bit of drama, I log off work. Dinner is — drumroll — tortellini. I turn on YouTube videos of affluent black women giving dating and lifestyle advice, then I catch up on Summer House and Vanderpump Rules.
9 p.m. — I FaceTime with my friends back in my hometown. We've been friends since middle school, and they're all incredible women doing amazing things.
11 p.m. — I lay in bed and mess around on my phone until I pass out around 12:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $32.81

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — Up and at 'em for work. Another rollover and workday but it's Friday! I start work earlier so I can get out earlier. Turn on NPR Morning Edition to wake myself up.
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11:15 a.m. — I have a meeting with an executive that I emailed back in June when I first started. She gives me good advice, and I'm glad I could get face time with her.
12 p.m. — You guessed it: tortellini for lunch. I have my court shows on while working through lunch. These cases are wild.
2 p.m. — It's verrryy slow at work, so I check my email and see that the modelling agency I've been signed to since 2018 submitted me to a casting for a commercial, and they want me to send a self-tape. So I set up my ring light, make a video, and submit it. I definitely see this as a side hustle and I've only made $100 in the four years I've been signed.
4:45 p.m. — I close my laptop for the week. I have to rush to get ready because my neighbours and I are going to an Argentinian wine tasting.
7 p.m. — We take an Uber to the restaurant, and my neighbour pays. The sommelier is a very eccentric woman and really knows her stuff. We quickly realise we are the youngest people here as the vibes are very 40th high-school reunion, but the wine is excellent, and the food it's paired with is incredible. Definitely worth the $75 we paid in advance.
9 p.m. — After the tasting, I bring my neighbours to a friend's party. I pay for my friend's drink and three Cuba Libres. $33.60
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10 p.m. — Of course, we don't want the night to end so we go to another bar. We get more Cuba Libres and watch as the Zoomers don't know these earlier millennium songs like Fergalicious (the audacity, I know). I go to the bathroom and tip the bathroom attendant $5. I am hit on by a 23-year-old and then four different men throughout the evening so this 31-year-old still got it. $41
1:45 a.m. — The bar closes, so we stand in the cold waiting for our Uber to take us home. I got a few men's numbers, but most of them are in their 20s. We make it home, and I crash around 3 a.m. I'll settle up with everyone and send money for Ubers. $17
Daily Total: $91.60

Day Four

11 a.m. — I wake up, and my hangover isn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I still nurse it with tons of water. I lay on the couch watching YouTube videos and texting with friends. Recovery day.
3 p.m. — My neighbour, B., stops by to pick up snow pants and my ski jacket because she's going skiing on Sunday. She's very appreciative. I'd join her but I have a running “date” I signed myself up for with this guy, F.
4 p.m. — While recovering on the couch, my friend, M., invites me to go out with her later this evening with friends. I commit and tell her I'll text her when I come back from dinner. I marvel at how much easier it has been to make friends here than in Seattle. That has been making it a little easier to call Michigan home.
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5:45 p.m. — I meet up with these amazing women I met at a Detroit Institute of Arts happy hour event. They set up going to dinner at Frame Bar, which hosts restaurant pop-ups in the space. The food is so good! It is good to catch up with them, and we agree to at least work from home and do happy hour sometime next week. $72
8 p.m. — I call my mom while driving home to tell her about my dinner. I pull over to get gas. $57.08
9:45 p.m. — I take a Lyft down to meet up with M. She's with two of her bartender friends, which is great because they know other bartenders, and we can get our drinks cheaper and then leave larger tips to show our appreciation. $12.95
11 p.m. — We walk to another bar. I chat more with M. She and her fiancé are moving to Nashville for his new job, so we chat about that and again marvel at meeting cool people here before one of us has to move.
12 a.m. —We go to one more bar, and I pay for two rounds of drinks. We're talking, and this guy starts talking to me. He's a little tipsy but he's enamoured with me because I told him that I'm trying to find my husband this year. He says he's going to be the one to put the ring on my finger. He tells me he's 27 and has never had a serious girlfriend, and my flag goes up. He starts to get pushy about making plans and I lose interest and take a car home. $35.65
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Daily Total: $177.68

Day Five

11 a.m. — I wake up to the guy from last night sending me a GIF of a sloth. I immediately block him. I have been pushing to listen to my gut more and if there's a flag — even when he was drunk — I hit the block button. My time is precious to me as are my boundaries. So my new year resolution is to be firmer with them.
1:30 p.m. — I'm supposed to go do that running date in an hour but I ask F. to move it back to 3 p.m. because I have to run to Target to pick up a hat and gloves. He responds with a thumbs-up emoji. That is not how I like to be communicated to as a grown woman by a grown man. Whatever. $27
3 p.m. — I park at the neighbourhood park. I put my sharing location on my iPhone and share it with a few friends because I know this scenario sounds like the opening for The First 48. I see F., and we begin to slowly jog around the neighbourhood. I am…not a fan. I hate being cold and hot at the same time, and it's hard to talk to a guy while you're jogging. Thankfully, it's only 20 minutes, and he lets me pick the restaurant. I tell him I'll meet him there and let my friends and family know I'm alive.
3:30 p.m. — We get to the restaurant, and I look over the menu because I assume we are also getting food, but he tells the waitress just beer. It's okay but a little awkward. The waitress brings the check, and he doesn't move to grab it, which initially is fine, but then he doesn't reach for it for fifteen minutes. I don't pay on dates, but I want this to be over with, so I take out my credit card, and he finally says he's got it. Needless to say, there won't be another date.
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5 p.m. — I make it home, shower, and make stir fry for dinner. I have it with basmati rice and a side salad, then lay in bed and text people about my date.
10 p.m. — I am literally about to go to bed when I open my email and see a message from this theatre that is putting on an opera saying I got an audition. I finally contain my excitement after texting all my friends and family and fall asleep around 1:45 a.m. ready to face Monday.
Daily Total: $27

Day Six

8 a.m. — I roll over and open my laptop for our weekly Monday morning meeting. I listen in for 30 minutes from my bed, then start my day.
10 a.m. — I check my phone and see running guy has texted saying he had a great time. I'm polite but dry in my response.
11 a.m. — I could seize the day, but my bed is too comfortable! I realise I need to make a hair appointment, so I book online and pay the $1 fee to make the appointment. $1
12 p.m. — I get out of bed and get dressed, then heat up frozen pizza to have with a spinach side salad for lunch.
6 p.m. — I'm making chilli for dinner. I sauté the onions and ground beef, then combine kidney beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chilli powder, cumin, and salt, and simmer for an hour. I top with thawed jalapeños from my mom's garden, sour cream, and shredded cheese. I sit down to watch 90 Day Fiancé before my nonprofit meeting.
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8 p.m. — Our planning meeting for the nonprofit goes well, and I take notes to send to the team. It wraps up around 9 p.m., so there's nothing left to do but finish 90 Day Fiancé. I settle down to get more sleep than last night and pass out at midnight.
Daily Total: $1

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Wake up, get to work. I take a break around 10 a.m. to talk to my mom.
12 p.m. — I'm reminded to buy my return ticket back from Florida so I buy a one-way ticket. Then, I fix up a bowl of chilli and work through lunch. $128.10
4:45 p.m. — I finish up work and drive to Whole Foods so I can return lightbulbs I got from Amazon. I exchange them for warm lightbulbs. On the way, I stop at Ulta to pick up NARS concealer, because mine somehow walked off, as well as white nail polish and nail polish remover. After I drop off the lightbulbs, I call and chat with my dad on the drive home. He's playing with my niece who turned one in October, so it's fun to hear her babble into the phone. $46.52
7 p.m. — I fix another bowl of chilli and turn on 90 Day Fiancé.
11 p.m. — I fall asleep earlier tonight. Good night!
Daily Total: $174.62
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.

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