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A Week In Phoenix, Arizona, On A $67,000 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 dollar.

Today: a reporting specialist who makes $67,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a pink laptop.
All currency in USD
Occupation: Reporting Specialist
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 33
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Salary: $67,000
Net Worth: -$16,650 ($19,000 in student loan debt. I do contribute $500/monthly into a Roth IRA, however, that just started three months ago so I only have $1,500. I currently have $850 in savings. My savings took a dive when I had major fixes to my car.)
Debt: $19,000 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,275 including rental taxes for a two-bedroom. No roomies, one child.
Loans: $0 (deferred currently)
Netflix: $19.54
Gym: $0 (onsite at work)
Renter's Insurance: $9.95
Car Insurance: $85
Internet: $30
Hulu: $11.49
Cell Phone: $130 (Two lines + iPad, which will be paid off next month so this will change to $100 soon!)
Electricity: $150
Gas: $20
Apple Music: $4.99
HBO Max: Free from cell phone provider
Roth IRA: $500
Personal Savings: $350
Child Savings: $150
Emergency Fund: $500
Allowance For Child: $75 (usually only spends $20-25 and transfer the remaining into child's savings account)
After School Care: $1,500 annually
Instrument Rental Fees: $26
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?
There was an expectation for me to attain higher education. No one in my family has earned any degree higher than a high school diploma, so it was always a given that I would go straight to university, which I did. My first year in college was mentally draining and I felt as though I had no clue what I was doing there, so I dropped out. The second time around, I was more focused and comfortable financially. I have paid for my education with grants, scholarships, student loans, and money from various jobs. I'm currently in my final semester of university.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up, I don't remember necessarily having conversations about money with my parents. Both parents were entrepreneurs and we lived a very upper-middle-class lifestyle. I would occasionally watch my mom balance her checkbook and she would casually mention the need to save just as much as you spend, but nothing more than that.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working as a dispatcher for a transportation company my senior year of high school. I got the job because my parents were friends with the owners. The owners mentioned needing afternoon help and my mother volunteered me. I remember making $320 bi-weekly and honestly, I would spend most of it on essential teenage things like clothes, visiting the movie theatre, and parties.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not worry about money growing up. If there were ever any money worries in my household, I did not know.
Do you worry about money now?
I worry about stability and money a lot now that I am a single parent.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 25. I know that if I am struggling and ever need help, my parents could provide a safety net for me.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received an inherited income of $5,000 when my grandma died. I used this money to buy a used car and a new bedroom set.

Day One

6 a.m. — Why am I up so early on a Sunday? I really, really, really, have a love-hate relationship with Sundays! I mean it's the start of a new week but it's also Monday Eve. Anyway, I have spent the last three weeks unsuccessfully re-decorating my bedroom and have had to sleep on the sofa to escape the mess. I grab a cinnamon dolce K-Cup and throw it into the Keurig. I grab a cinnamon raisin bagel from the fridge, a container of cream cheese, and head back to sofa to find something to watch on Netflix.
10 a.m. — Sleepyhead is finally out of bed. I'm learning that my pre-teen is super grumpy in the mornings, so on weekends, the pre-teen really sleeps in. We snuggle and say I love yous and then review the menu to our favourite local café. On the weekends, the café has pork belly wraps and I drool just hearing the name! We shower and head over. I'm feeling kind of meh, so I'm sporting a makeup-less face, a black V-neck, black joggers, and cute powder blue braided sandals. The pre-teen, K., watches TikToks while I sing and drive. Once at the café, we order and sit out on the patio. We are both vaxxed, however, still not comfortable with indoor eating. I order the pork belly wrap and a side of house potatoes and K. orders French toast sans powdered sugar. $40.47
3 p.m. — I try to dedicate one day a week to go to my parent's house and spend time with them. When I walk through the door, I am greeted with tiny toddler hugs from my nephews. My mother is always watching a Hallmark movie, so we sit on the sofa and she fills me on the plot. Spoiler alert, the plots are always the same. At some point, I become less interested in the movie and decide to go into the backyard with my dad to chill. We talk about cars and sing along to oldies until he remembers he wanted me to set up his new printer and show him how to operate his new cell phone. My parents are both Boomers, but my dad is not tech-savvy at all. Around 6, my mom cooks dinner; steaks, homemade mashed potatoes, and a Caesar salad. She makes extra so that K. and I can have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch. Did I mention how much I hate cooking? Just after 7, we pack up our things and head home. I should stop and get gas, but I decide to wait until tomorrow.
Daily Total: $40.47

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up to that annoying iPhone alarm, you know the one. Glance at the clock and decide I am going to try and get another nine minutes of sleep. I do this every day and every single day, I regret it. Insanity. I sit in bed for a few minutes and decide to get up. I look for the journal I bought last week from Target. This year, I want to be more consistent about journaling. I think I left the bag in the car, so there's always tomorrow. I shower, brush my teeth and decide to wear a black lace top, dark denim jeans and black Ugg boots today. Makeup-free day again because why waste precious time doing makeup when I could scroll Twitter.
6:55 a.m. — I wake up K. I throw a frozen fettuccini alfredo dinner in the microwave and stuff it into the thermos. Our middle school provides a catered lunch for $6/day, so I pack lunch Monday-Thursday. I grab the prepackaged apples, crackers, cheese, and fruit snacks and toss that along with the thermos into K.'s lunchbox. We jet out the door.

8:30 a.m. — Ahh, Monday at work. I check some emails and glance over my schedule. Mondays are usually heavy meeting days. I go into the company's kitchen, grab a random K-Cup and some sugar-free vanilla creamer and also grab a La Croix out the fridge. As I make my coffee, I chitchat with a coworker then head to my desk to respond to emails before my 9 a.m. meeting. I would like to reiterate, I am just not a Monday type of girl.

1:45 p.m. — I am a big advocate for not eating at your desk. I order a Beach Club sandwich from Jimmy Johns with jalapeño chips and a small Diet Coke. I refresh the tracker until I see that my order is ready for pickup. After picking up my sandwich, I drive back to the office, park, and watch Girlfriends on my cellphone. This is becoming my lunch routine. $12.13

4:45 p.m. — After what feels like a 15-hour day, I head to K.'s school. UGH — the gas light is on and I'd hate to run out, so I pull into the nearest has station. Gas prices are so high! I pay with Apple Pay at the pump and start to fill up. K. is now calling because it is 5. I finally make it to the school, she jumps in the car, and we head home. K. tells me about school projects and we talk about upcoming birthday plans at the end of the week. $42.19

7 p.m. — K. and I spend most of the evening doing homework then learning new TikTok dances. I'm not a regular mom, I'm a cool mom. I reheat the leftovers that my mom made for us, open a bagged salad, and we eat dinner while talking about Bob's Burgers. We love a good meal and a good cartoon. After dinner, I shower then log into my school portal to check my list of upcoming classes. Spring semester starts soon and I am feeling really motivated. I end my night by lighting candles and cleaning the living room and kitchen before heading to my room to pass out.

Daily Total: $54.32

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — The lovely alarm rings again. I head to the bathroom and decide I'll start journaling today. I journal for a few minutes before waking K. for school. Today I throw on a burnt orange dress, with green lace flats and a denim jacket. Makeup free again. One day this week, I will put in effort. K. wears a bun today, because buns are easy and fuss-free. I warm up another fettuccini dinner and add a side salad, an orange, strawberries, and fruit snacks to K.'s lunchbox. We head out the door at 7:15.
8 a.m. — I walk to company kitchen with a coworker to get coffee and talk about our nights. I head back to my desk, take a sip of coffee, and start working on reports. I have so many reports to manipulate this week and not enough time. Around 10, I grab my headphones and listen to Toni Braxton while I crush through these reports. It helps.
3 p.m. — I am exhausted! I look over a the clock and realise it's already 3 and I haven't eaten. I'm done working for the rest of the day, so I head to Nekter to buy an açai bowl. I text K. to not go to aftercare and then eat in the school's parking lot while I wait for dismissal. Did I mention I am exhausted? After grabbing K., we go straight home and I take a nap. $9.72
6:30 p.m. — I'm up from my nap and still feeling lousy! I order mango habanero and garlic parmesan wings from Wingstop through Doordash. I eat and lay back down. $38.86
1 a.m. — I get up to use the bathroom and take a few Tylenols. I feel feverish. I look online and schedule a COVID PCR test at a local community college. The testing is free. I go out to the living room and turn on Hulu. I don't watch anything and decide to go back to sleep.
Daily Total: $48.58

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes. I grab my phone and text my director that I'm not feeling well. K. has independent learning today, i.e. a free day from school, so I turn off her alarm and go back to bed.
9 a.m. — I'm finally up, at least for a bit. I see my director has sent me texts about a project I've been working on. I ignore the text, grab an orange out of the fridge, and check on K.
11 a.m. — We head over to get COVID tested. It's a drive-thru testing site at a local community college. Very fast and efficient testing. We swab our nasal canals and hand the samples over to the person at the end. We head home because this mama is STILL exhausted.

1230 p.m. — For lunch today, K. makes us ramen with a side of sliced oranges and tajin. We talk about her upcoming birthday and she cries because I still don't feel comfortable hosting birthday parties. I look up fun zoom party ideas and we decide we will have a mini cupcake celebration at lunch this Friday. We celebrate our solution-making with cherry popsicles.

8 p.m. — I've managed to somehow sleep the day away. K. eats wings and salad for dinner. I scramble around the kitchen and settle on Hot Cheetos and cream cheese. I finally check some emails and start working on a few projects before showering and bingeing Doctor Foster on Netflix, for the millionth time.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off on schedule. K. has a test today so we make French toast for breakfast before getting ready to start the day. On the bright side, I am feeling better. The downside? It's very chilly outside. Today I'll be working from home, so I'm wearing navy blue sweats and a blank spaghetti tank. I honestly just didn't feel like making K.'s lunch today, so I stuff $10 into her backpack. On the way to school, K. and I listen to the cheesy second date update on the radio. We laugh. $10
10 a.m. — After spending the morning working on projects, I decide to take a break and go through my Tinder likes. I really hate app dating but I miss male companionship (at times). I swipe left on what feels like a million men until I match with someone. We immediately chitchat and decide to video chat to confirm identities. We seem to mesh and decide if I'm feeling better and receive negative results, we'll have dinner one day.
3 p.m. — Before getting K. from school, I grab a chicken bowl from Chipotle. I actually forgot how much I don't like Chipotle and give the food to K. instead. Once home, I grab a bagged salad from the fridge and respond to some work emails. $12.05
6 p.m. — K. and I go for walk to the park. We haven't been to the park in what feels like ages. We have the entire neighbourhood park to ourselves and toggle between the swings and the merry-go-round. I've missed this feeling of carefree living. The sun starts to set so we head home.
7:30 p.m. — We finally sit down for dinner. We look at new laptops online for K.'s birthday. We land on a very pretty pink HP from Target. I apply my Target Circle savings and a $150 Target gift card I received for Christmas towards the purchase. We end our night watching That's So Raven and eating cherry popsicles. $109.98
Daily Total: $132.03

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Alarm! I swipe the alarm off and check a local news channel's Twitter feed. Just before 7, I wake K. and we start the day. K. complained about having to eat school lunch yesterday, so today I pack a turkey croissant sandwich, grapes, watermelon chunks and a bag of chips. I throw in two fruit snack packets and a small side salad. I'll be working from home today, so I'm wearing a maxi dress and black Hilfiger thong sandals. We leave just before 7:30 and head to school.
11 a.m. — While working, I get a notification that K. and I are COVID negative. Hooray! I head to the Safeway bakery to pick up K.'s cupcakes and drop them off before lunch starts. The cupcakes are GORGEOUS. Red velvet but decorated with gold flakes. Very, very bougie, K. approves. I head home to finish my project. $16.08
12:30 p.m. — Tinder guy and I meet for lunch. I do a full face of makeup, put on my false lashes, and my best Spanx. I curl my hair in huge baby doll curls and slip on my favorite black bodycon dress, jean jacket, and black mules. We meet at my favourite café. I have the buffalo chicken sandwich and he has the Monte Cristo. He's a gentleman and is very chivalrous. After two hours of conversing, we realise the café is shutting down. He walks me to my car and we decide to hike and have breakfast this Sunday. I head to K.'s school.
7 p.m. — We have a very solid Friday night routine. We pick a movie, make homemade pizza, and spend the night bonding in matching PJs. This is my favourite night of the week. Tonight we watch Jingle All the Way and make a margherita pizza. The pizza comes out delicious, minus the slightly burnt crust. We pause the movie to look up the Tickle Me Elmo documentary on YouTube. 1996 was an insane year for Elmo.
Daily Total: $16.08

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I'm up and it's K.'s birthday!! She is still sleeping of course, because it's Saturday. I call my mom to confirm lunch plans and talk about the news.
10:30 a.m. — K. is finally up and we have Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast. I run over to the bakery and pick up K.'s birthday cake — a double-decker, very chocolate, very pretty round marble cake with marble flowers and chocolate gift boxes with gold flakes. I head back home to get ready. K. is all dolled up, wearing cute denim jeans, a denim jacket, a pink crop tank, white Fila platform shoes, and gold hoops. I am wearing ripped black denim jeans and a black V-neck with black chelsea boots. $18.97
3 p.m. — We head over to K.'s favorite sushi bar and meet my mom and sister. My mom is wearing a "being a grandma is my favourite thing" t-shirt. My sister gifts K. a manicure. K. has salmon rolls and I order eel rolls and a squid salad. Our server brings out the cake and we sing happy birthday and dig in. My mom pays for dinner and my sister and I cover the tip. $15
4:30 p.m. — K. and I grab two vanilla and brownie cones from Coldstone and head to the park. We get chased by geese and decide to head to my parent's house. $7.71
6 p.m. — I spend the rest of the evening at my parent's house. My dad gives K. $100 and showers me with a million hugs. Maybe I should start coming over more. K. and my dad show us the TikTok dances they've been working on and we laugh while I record. Eventually, we all settle down and decide to watch Encanto. I eventually sneak off to the guest room and FaceTime with Tinder guy. We confirm plans for the following day. I rejoin the family and watch Thor until I can no longer keep my eyes open. I go into the guest room and call it a night.
Daily Total: $41.68
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