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A Week In North Carolina, USA On A $125,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Shiseido.
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 $125,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Shiseido foundation.
Currency in USD.
Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Clinical Research
Age: 28
Location: North Carolina
Salary: $125,000
Net Worth: ~$900,000 (Savings/Emergency Fund: $60,000, Investment Accounts/Retirement Funds: $670,000, Home Equity: $170,000)
Debt: Mortgage: $230,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,208 pre tax
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,450 (I bought my house about three years ago and I live alone.)
Water/Power/Energy: $100
Netflix/HBO Max/Spotify/Subscriptions: $60
Cable/Internet: $120
Gym App: $20
Car/House Insurance: $100
401(k) Contribution: ~$1,600
Medical/Dental/Vision Insurance: ~$600
Donations: $100 (my company will match up to $1,200 of donations per year, so I try to donate somewhere each month, usually the local food bank or a research fund)
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. For most of high school I didn't think I wanted to go to college — my parents were very supportive but made it clear if I didn't go to school they were not going to support me financially and I would have to get a full-time job. I had good grades and no idea what kind of career I wanted, so I decided I'd take the college route. I'm extremely lucky that my parents paid for college in full so I was able to graduate with no student loans. I'm now in grad school part-time and my company reimburses me for this (as long as I get As).
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents had very different philosophies on money growing up. My mom has always been a saver and my dad was a major spender; I like to think that I've landed somewhere in the middle. We never really talked about the family finances/how much money my parents made, but my dad set up investment accounts for my sister and me when I was about 12 and gave us each about $10,000 to invest. We got to pick stocks that were interesting to us and seeing that money grow helped me learn early on the importance of investing your money.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
As soon as I turned 15, my dad had me working summers at his company and I've had a job ever since. He wanted us to be successful in the business world and wanted to ensure we knew how to behave properly in those settings. My parents supported me throughout high school and college so the money I earned working during these years was for spending/saving money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No, thankfully I never worried about money growing up.
Do you worry about money now?
I shouldn't worry about money now but I do (I'm a natural worrier). I only keep around $15,000 in an account that I can easily access and try to forget about the rest of the money I have. If I go under this $15,000 I start to stress.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
21or 22. After I graduated college and landed my first full-time job with insurance and benefits, my mother stopped supporting me financially, although she still pays my phone bill (love ya, mom). I've been able to save up a good financial safety net in case I lose my job and I know my mom would step in and help if I ever needed it.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. My dad passed away when I was in college and I inherited about $600,000. I've only used this money twice, to buy a car and for the down payment on my house. The rest of this money is invested — it's always been hard for me to use this money as it still doesn't really seem like it's mine.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — It's Sunday so I'm up a little later than usual. I drink my coffee in bed while scrolling mindlessly on my phone for about an hour. I'm a creature of habit and always like to have my coffee in bed before I start the day. I finally drag myself out of bed and eat breakfast (always a scrambled egg). I meet up with my mom around 8:30 and we take our dogs for a walk. She recently moved down the street from me and it's so nice having her close by. After the walk, I head to Whole Foods to get groceries for the week, plus desserts for a birthday party we're having for my brother-in-law. I get lettuce, celery, red peppers, carrots, radishes, bananas, blueberries, coffee beans, olive oil, a few bags of chips, chicken thighs, eggs, gluten-free pizzas, parmesan cheese, almond milk, almond butter chocolate cups, yogurt for my mom, and a bunch of sweets for the party. $177.08
11:30 a.m. — I get home, unpack all of the groceries, and make some green tea. I make a salad for lunch and meal prep a few salads for the week — lettuce, arugula, red onion, carrots, celery, radishes, pepper, hard-boiled egg, parmesan cheese, and a quick homemade vinaigrette with olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon, and salt. While I eat lunch, I marinade some chicken thighs for my weekly salads. I let them marinate for about an hour then cook them in the oven while I work on some grad school work. I really like the classes I'm taking, but it's the last thing I want to do after working all day during the week, so I try to get as much done on the weekends as I can.
3 p.m. — I head over to my grandma's house for my brother-in-law's birthday party. My sister is pregnant so we keep it to just family and we're all outside (thanks COVID). I'm very lactose intolerant so I make sure I have my Lactaid with me before I have a bite of cheesecake and a mochi. We play some games outside and I head home.
7 p.m. — I eat my gluten-free pizza for dinner then head over to my friend's townhouse. Her townhouse pool is closing for the season so some of her neighbors decide to bring their dogs to the pool for an impromptu pool party and we join. My dog normally doesn't like the water but she has a BLAST running around with the other dogs and playing in the water. We stay for about an hour and head home. I'm in bed by 9 and lights out by 10.
Daily Total: $177.08

Day Two

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I snooze it until 6:30. I get out of bed and do my morning routine — brush my teeth, wash my face with CeraVe cleanser, and layer on Paula's Choice toner, Skinceuticals Vitamin C, Laneige Water Cream, and Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen. I make my coffee and meet up with my mom to walk our dogs. I get back around 7:30 and drink my coffee and scroll through dating apps before I start work. It's been a struggle to date during COVID as I'm not out as much as usual and I also hate dating apps. Nobody sparks my interest so I log into my work computer at 8 (I'm working from home today, as I do most days).
1:30 p.m. — I have meetings all morning and I eat one of my prepared salads for lunch along with some barbecue chips. I try to eat a salad every day for lunch but usually don't have time/don't feel like making it during the week, so I try to meal prep as many as I can. Sephora is having a sale on foundation, so I decide to order the Shiseido foundation I've had my eye on for a while. I also order another Briogeo scalp scrub and a mini Benefit setting spray. $101.46
5:30 p.m. — I finish up work around 5:30. I do my dishes from the day and head over to my grandma's house. She lives down the street (with my mom) so I try to go by there at least once a day and I usually eat dinner with them three or four times per week. It's super convenient not to have to make dinners every night and after spending so much time alone in 2020 (thanks COVID), I relish in the family time. Tonight for dinner, my grandma has made hamburgers (no bun for me), sweet potato fries, and asparagus. After dinner, my mom and I walk our dogs and I head home.
8:30 p.m. — I'm a horrible sleeper, but I've found if I start winding down a lot earlier in the night it helps me sleep. Around 8:30, I turn off the TV and go lay in bed. I usually watch YouTube videos while I get ready for bed, but I get an email alert about a big sale at ASOS so I scroll through for a while and place an order — three pairs of jeans, two t-shirts, one nice work shirt, and a sweater. I've definitely gained some weight over the last year and a half and most of my jeans don't fit so I'm hoping at least one of these pair fit well and I'll return any that don't. I do my evening routine — rinse off my body in the shower, brush my teeth, double cleanse with the Inky List oil cleanser then the Youth To The People cleanser, prescription retinol (yay for adult acne), and Biossance moisturizer. Lights off at 10. $185.16
Daily Total: $286.62

Day Three

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. There was a big thunderstorm last night and my dog woke me up panting/crying (poor girl), so I'm exhausted. I snooze until 6:45 and jump up and speed through my morning routine. I make coffee and meet up with my mom to walk the dogs. I'm back home around 7:45 and I drink my coffee while I go through my emails.
1 p.m. — It's been a slower day at work. I eat my salad and then take a break to get some exercise. I bought a treadmill to go under my standing desk a while ago, but it's a little hard to type and walk. I have a few trainings I need to do for work, so I walk for about an hour while I watch training videos. The rest of the day is still slow and I stop working around 5.
6 p.m. — Dinner at my grandma's again — she's made chicken soup. Although it's 85 degrees outside, I'm happy not to have to make dinner. We eat, my mom and I walk the dogs, and I head home.
7:30 p.m. — I'm going into the office tomorrow so I shower and wash my hair (I use the Briogeo scalp scrub then Briogeo shampoo). I only wash my hair twice per week so I do a mask in the shower (Briogeo again). I let my hair towel dry for about 10 minutes then I put my products on — Alterna moisture CC cream, Alterna oil on the ends, and Drybar liquid glass spray. I let my hair air dry for another 10 minutes, then I blow dry with a round brush and straighten with a flat iron — it's a long process, another reason why I only wash my hair twice per week. I go through my closet to plan my outfit for tomorrow and am reminded how few work clothes I have that I still like and still fit. Athleta is having their friends and family sale so I order another pair of the Brooklyn Ankle Pants (my fave work pants) and another pair of black leggings (can't have enough) and the order comes to $151.65 — both are back-ordered until November, ugh! I blame COVID. I do my evening routine and lights out at 10. $151.65
Daily Total: $151.65

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up, do my morning routine, walk the dogs with my mom, then drink my coffee and check emails while I get ready for work. I actually put on makeup today. I use the NYX Marshmallow primer, Hourglass foundation stick, Tarte Shape Tape concealer, Laura Mercier setting powder, Physicians Formula bronzer, and NARS blush in Orgasm, and set the makeup with Urban Decay All-Nighter. Thankfully the office is close by so I'm in by 9.
1 p.m. — My company is still letting people work from home so the office is pretty empty. I've just started going in one day per week as it helps break up the week. One of my friends is in the office today and we decide to go out to lunch. We go to a Mexican place around the corner and I get a taco salad and water. $18.35
3 p.m. — I'm starting to hit that after lunch slump and walk to our office convenience store and buy a Celsius energy drink. I've never had one before but everyone on the internet always hypes them up. I get the kiwi guava flavor and it tastes good, but I'm not convinced it's given me any energy. I have a late meeting today so I leave the office around 4:45 and finish up the day at home. $3.50
6:45 p.m. — I'm done working for the day, but I've missed dinner with my grandma. Thankfully I have my prepped salad I didn't eat for lunch, but this is my last one so I prep a few more while I eat. After dinner, I walk my dog. When I get home I do some reading for grad school until about 9, then do my evening routine and head off to bed.
Daily Total: $21.85

Day Five

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off, snooze until about 6:30, then usual morning routine. It's a busy day and I'm on calls from 8 a.m to 1. p.m.
2 p.m. — Finally getting a break to eat my lunch. I do some online shopping and find a great sweater on RueLaLa — it was originally $275, but it's on sale for $99.99, which is still a lot of money but hey, I'm a sucker for things on sale. I also snag another sweater and some small gold hoops, the total comes to $174.76. I've ordered a lot of clothes this week, so I make a mental note that I need to stop online shopping for a few weeks. $174.76
5:30 p.m. — Finish up work around 5:30 and go to my grandma's for dinner — tonight she's made shrimp pasta (with rice noodles for me). Walk the dogs with my mom and head home. My dog needs more of her supplements so I place an Amazon order. I try to only place an Amazon order once I have a few items, so I've got some random stuff in my cart as well. I get poop bags, joint supplements, and probiotics for my dog as well as probiotics for me, Neosporin, air filters, and shaving cream. $138.01
Daily Total: $312.77

Day Six

6 a.m. — I didn't sleep great but it's FRIDAY! I snooze until 6:30 then get up and do my morning routine. My mom wants to go to Starbucks after our walk so I don't make coffee. We walk the dogs and hop in my car to go to Starbucks — the drive-thru is packed so my mom goes inside while I wait in the car with the dogs. After 20 minutes she comes back with two sets of egg bites and two flat whites (mine with almond milk). She said it was so packed in there but the barista made a point to show my mom the perfect heart on top of my flat white before she put the top on — the baristas at Starbucks are always so nice. I drop my mom off and head home to start work.
5:30 p.m. — It's been a crazy day but I'm finally done working. I meet up with one of my friends at the dog park — it's super crowded so we don't stay very long. We decide to run to Whole Foods for sushi and eat outside with the dogs. I watch the dogs while she goes in for sushi, and the selection is pretty low but she gets me a salmon avocado roll and a Topo Chico. I Venmo her. I head home and wash my hair, and pass out at 9:30 (it's been a long week). $14.50
Daily Total: $14.50

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — My dog wakes me up at 6:30 to let her out, then I go back to sleep until around 7:30. I finally get up and have my coffee and breakfast. My mom and I head out to walk the dogs around 8:30 — it's already super hot outside and we do a longer walk than usual. I rinse off once I get home since I got super sweaty.
11 a.m. — My Sephora package comes in! I'm heading to a brewery today to celebrate a friend's birthday. I use my new Shiseido foundation along with my usual products and I love it. I throw on a casual dress and my Birkenstocks, grab my dog, and head over to the brewery. This place has gluten-free pizza so I order one as well as a cider — the total is $23. The gluten-free pizza is pretty steep, but I'm just happy they have it. We hang at the brewery for a few hours then I head home. $23
6 p.m. — My mom is out with friends so it's just me and my grandma for dinner. She makes steak, mushrooms, and asparagus. After dinner, I walk both dogs myself (a struggle) and head home. I do some grad school work and head to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $23
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