A Week In New Milford, CT, On A $31,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an ABA Therapist/Nanny/Psych Grad Student/Occasional Dog Walker who makes $31,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a fishnet.
Occupation: Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapist, Nanny, Psych Grad Student, Occasional Dog Walker
Industry: Health and Childcare
Age: 24
Location: New Milford, CT
Salary: $31,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month for my therapist job, 1x/week for childcare): Varies, but averages $565 for my ABA position, $340 for my nanny job.
Gender: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,150
Loans: $0 (My parents gave me a personal interest-free student loan for grad school that they do not expect paid back until I am finished, but I do spend an average of $150 every six weeks on textbooks.)
Wi-Fi: $75
Electric: $160 average
Healthcare: $60 (my fiancé has a large medical debt and we live entirely off my income due to his illness)
Renter's Insurance: $26.50
Savings: I try to deposit at least $20 a week, but also use a “Keep the Change” program in my app that transfers small amounts to my savings.
Cell Phone: $0 (Technically $60 a month, but I'm on family plan and my parents deduct it from an account I had in high school specifically so I would have savings to pay the bill with as an adult.)

Day One

11:30 a.m. — We pull into the Starbucks drive-through, I'm already tired from my first two runs to the new place, while my fiancé, D., has just woken up and is still groggy. D. and I are moving today. We're only 10 minutes away, but at a much more expensive condo. Our landlord died and her kids sold our place out from under us, and this was all we could find, so while the $200 a month price jump from the prior $950 blows, I'm glad we were able to get into a place. D. has a severe mental disorder and can't work, so finding a place to live can be hard on my income alone and there are always questions about his lack of job history and income. I preorder two of the new breakfast burritos, anticipating it's the only thing I'll eat for the day, through the Starbucks app. I have a credit from when they previously messed up my order so technically I don't have to shell out any extra cash.
2:30 p.m. — My parents drove down to help us move, so we meet them back at the new house to unpack boxes. I help D. move some things around and then make an emergency run to Petco. Our two axolotls have grown significantly bigger and we need a larger net to transport them out of their tank and into a carrier (then back into their tank). While I'm at Petco, chatting with a friend who works there, my dad texts me asking me to pick up coffee and breakfast sandwiches for him and my mother. I grab those on the way back. $13.65
9 p.m. — Two friends of mine who own a moving truck finish helping us unload the big furniture into the new place. They won't let me pay them what would have been the standard fee, so I tip them each $50. D. and I go inside, incredibly tired and sore, and make some mac and cheese for dinner before going to sleep. $100
Daily Total: $113.65

Day Two

9:20 a.m. — I head off to my nanny job, stopping at Starbucks to get myself a short Wellness Tea and bagel. Paid for with my credit. I spend the day nannying and meeting with ABA clients.
6:30 p.m. — A friend, who I rotate dog walking shifts with, texts me while I'm in with an ABA client. She says the woman I've been petsitting for came back early due to the rising status of the pandemic, so I'm off the hook. I'm honestly relieved. My lungs don't function properly, so I'll take any excuse to stay home right now. However, this means that I was overpaid, so I Venmo her the difference. I head home around 6. $65
8 p.m. — While D. and I make soup, my nanny client informs me they're going into lockdown quarantine and won't need me to come in, but will continue to pay me my minimum weekly salary. I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for this.
Daily Total: $65

Day Three

10:30 a.m. — We wake up and wait for D.'s Social Security caseworker to call. With all the uncertainty around coronavirus, I don't know how long I'll have a steady income. His disability status is still pending, so we haven't received any kind of support yet. If I do end up losing my income, it will be really helpful for us to have some money to cover his half of the bills, especially because I've been covering them for the last two years. The caseworker finally calls and tells us it could be another three or four months until we see a check. Great. We spend the rest of the day moving things to our new condo.
7 p.m. — After a long day of moving we order contact-free pizza delivery with a coupon for 50% off since we're both way too tired to attempt cooking tonight. $13.50
Daily Total: $13.50

Day Four

10 a.m. — Thanks to that trusty Starbucks credit, I get another free breakfast of egg bites on my way to an ABA therapy client's home. While I'm there, the client's mother informs me she wants to suspend his therapy due to coronavirus. Smart, but stressful as my employer has made it clear that therapists who don't work won't get paid.
3 p.m. — I finish with my ABA client and run to Home Depot to pick up a kit to fix a one-inch dent in the paint in our old condo. I really need that $1,900 deposit back from our old place so I have to make sure it gets fixed. I wear latex gloves the whole time I'm in the store and viciously Purell in the car. $9.34
7 p.m. — I get home and hang out for a while before starting dinner. We make burgers with no buns and a side of homemade, hand-cut fries. We did all our grocery shopping before the move to limit our exposure, so I have a feeling we will be eating a lot of potatoes over the next few weeks.
Daily Total: $9.34

Day Five

11 a.m. — I've been unpacking for a few hours, but D. just woke up. He has cereal for breakfast and I have leftover shrimp and lobster pasta from the freezer. My last hold out ABA therapy client cancels her sessions, so it looks like outside of getting the last bit of our stuff out of the old place, I'm home full time. The lack of income terrifies me.
1 p.m. — I realize I'm late paying D.'s medical debt bill to his psychiatrist. I call and make the payment. This should be the second-to-last one after months of paying it down from his first hospitalization almost a year ago. $60
8 p.m. — More burgers and fries, tonight with a side of weird Netflix movies. The boredom is setting in already. I don't know how D. does it all day! I'm crawling out of my skin after a few days and I'm an introvert!
Daily Total: $60

Day Six

12 p.m. — After sleeping in, D. and I head back to the old condo to clear out the closet with all our holiday decorations. I threw out my back the other day so at this point, it looks like we can only do a little bit per day since I'm useless.
2 p.m. — On our way home we stop for gas. While there, D. asks for tobacco juice for his vape pen. I hate that thing, but at least he's not smoking a pack a day anymore. I also don't blame him because his medication makes him crave stimulants since it subdues his dopamine levels so dramatically. I tell him to make it last because this is the last time I'm going inside anything remotely like a store, and when he finishes it he has to start his patches. $28.11
3 p.m. — Once we get home, D. has cereal for lunch. I eat an apple and a cookie that the cat keeps trying to take from me. I window shop for curtains on Amazon but don't order knowing Amazon isn't fulfilling shipments of non-essential items right now.
5 p.m. — My dad comes by and drops off Omaha Steaks and hot dogs that I'll cook for dinner later. It's a zero contact drop off, but at least it's nice to see him.
8 p.m. — We have hot dogs for dinner. While we're eating, I get an email from my ABA therapy office saying they have gotten telehealth approved for clients with certain insurance carriers. I'm relieved to know I'll still have some kind of steady income during a time when so many people are struggling with job uncertainty.
Daily Total: $28.11

Day Seven

8 a.m. — The cat is crying and wakes me up. When I open my eyes I see he is sitting on top of the turtle tank. He likes to harass her and often screeches at her until she moves and he feels like he has her attention. I check my work email and then my personal email. I see an email saying my local pharmacy got mini hand sanitizers in and they're limiting them to five per customer. My dad's immune system is compromised and I know he has been looking everywhere for them, but they've all been sold out. I quickly order five to be delivered to my parents' house. $18.02
9 a.m. — I eat an apple and some cookies while I unpack six boxes. Then I wake D. from the dead and he eats cereal while I have a glass of juice before we make a run to the old condo to take some photos and paintings off the walls and bring them home
5 p.m. — We earned a free pizza through an app we use, so I hop in the car to pick up the pizza via no contact pick up. I leave a small tip because it's all the cash I have right now, but I want to make sure the employees know their work is appreciated. Our state is going into official lockdown on Monday, so I feel for all these workers. I get home and unpack a bit before settling in to eat pizza and watch old episodes of New Girl. $2
10 p.m. — With the move going on, we've spent more than we usually do in a week and I haven't deposited my weekly $20 into my savings. I check my “Keep the Change” section of my checking account to see what was transferred over to my savings for the week, for a grand total of $7.12. I'll take it.
Daily Total: $20.02
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