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A Week In Indianapolis, IN, On A $43,000 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: an advisor who makes $43,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a stack of LGBTQ+ books.
Occupation: Advisor
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: Indianapolis, IN
Salary: $43,000
Net Worth: $19,085 (HSA: $1,110, 403(b): $2,400, investments: $1,150, IRA: $5,000, emergency income replacement fund: $4,500, car emergency fund: $1,650, health emergency fund: $850, cat emergency fund: $750, sinking funds: $1,675)
Debt: $0 (I finished paying off $9,000 of student loans from undergrad in February 2020)
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,559.44 from my main job and $50-$100 a week from my side gig as a barista
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (Split 50/50 with my partner, G. When she starts her new job next month we will be adjusting a few things, including rent, to be more fairly split with me paying 40% and her paying 60%.)
Electric: $30 (Split with G.)
Gas/Water/Sewage: $75 (Split with G.)
Internet: $30 (Split with G)
Phone: $50 (Send to mom)
Roth IRA: $150
Insurance: (pre-tax)
Brokerage: $190 (pre-tax)
HSA: (pre-tax)
Parking: $40 (pre-tax)
Savings: $300 (Split between income replacement, car, health, and cat funds)
Netflix: $15.89
Hulu/Disney+/HBO: On mine or G.'s parents' accounts
Spotify: $6.50 (split with G.)
Renter's Insurance: $10
AAA: $6.88
Car Insurance: $25.35
YNAB Subscription: $8.66
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?
For undergrad, absolutely. Neither of my parents finished college degrees and my mom was adamant about my sister and me getting degrees. She also made it an expectation that we had to pay for it mostly on our own. I knew going into college applications that I wanted to go wherever it would be the cheapest so I chose an in-state public school where I received a full-tuition scholarship and some additional scholarships. Beyond that, I paid for room/board with loans the first two years (totaling $9,000) and rent the last year and a half with Pell Grants, plus around $2,000 per year from a college fund. I went to graduate school one semester after graduating from undergrad. I received full tuition + a stipend and only had to pay ~$1,200 in fees each semester. I paid off my undergraduate loans during graduate school.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We definitely had a budget each year for school supplies and new clothes. We discussed that if we went to the more expensive stores we wouldn't be able to buy as much compared to if we went to secondhand or cheaper stores. I definitely didn't get everything I ever wanted but I certainly never went without. Looking back, we were middle class.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat starting around age 12. My first actual paycheck job was working retail at 17 for spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
My mom had family members who got into a lot of debt so she always taught me to never have debt. I grew up very debt-averse and made a lot of decisions based solely on finances. It took me a while to get my first credit card to build my credit score because I was scared of going into debt (to this day, I have never carried a balance month-to-month).
Do you worry about money now?
Completely depends on the day. My partner, G. (she/her), and I are newly engaged so there is a wedding on the horizon in a few years that we will be saving for so it was a bit stressful to come up with that plan. I oscillate between wanting to save all my money and wanting to spend everything. I try to find a balance. I meet my savings goals and am saving 20% for retirement including employer contributions so I like to think I'm doing okay.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 25 when I started my first job post-grad school. The same week I started that job, my mom lost the job she had my entire life and the safety net I had always had kind of went away. I know I would be able to move back home and she would do her best to assist, but it would be much more of a burden now than it ever would have been in the past. I would also be able to rely a bit on G. if needed to get through a rough patch.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received $1,000 from my grandmother several years ago as a Christmas gift that she said she wanted to give us now so she could see us enjoy it. I put half towards my student loans and half towards fun stuff. I have no idea what I will receive when my aunt and mother pass but I know my sister and I are the recipients of their estates.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and feel an exhausted desire for some normalcy. G.'s parents have been in town for the weekend as a surprise birthday visit. While it's been great to see them, I'm quite tired and hate the change in routine.
9 a.m. — I drag myself out of bed and happily realize everyone else is out on their own breakfast adventures. I see the opportunity to be productive for a bit and decide to take it. Make a smoothie and get going on my cleaning list. Everybody comes home while I'm cleaning and we start planning the rest of their day. The parents decide to head out and do their own thing for the afternoon.
12:30 p.m. — Break from cleaning and reorganizing the bathroom to eat lunch. A classic bowl of (vegan) buttered chickpea noodles. Balancing my vegan diet with G.'s gluten-free diet makes things more challenging, and often more expensive especially when eating out.
2 p.m. — I head to Target to get everything I realized I needed while cleaning. I get hangers, a shoe organizer, cleaning supplies, and bath towels. $70.65
3 p.m. — I give into my desire to always get a little treat when running errands or leaving the house in general. I get Twizzlers and pool dive toys for next time we visit our friend's pool. $8.75
4:30 p.m. — Head out to a local food hall to meet G.'s parents for dinner. I buy drinks and appetizers while G. gets dinner. $30.04
7 p.m. — Finally home and out of the heat. We start a puzzle we bought a few weeks ago. We hyper-focus on the puzzle and finish all 1,000 pieces in under four hours.
11 p.m. — We say goodbye to G.'s parents because they'll head out early in the morning and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $109.44

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I have a work training today so I'm out of the house bright and early. I get to training a bit early and take my time settling in.
1 p.m. — Finally lunch! We get Qdoba and it's fine. I am definitely a Chipotle gal. I Venmo G. for all the spending we did this weekend to balance out. We went to Costco for some necessities (applesauce, yogurt, cereal, crackers), TJ Maxx for some fun things (puzzles, decor, dishwashing mats), and Whole Foods for treats (lots of cookies and sweets, chips). Spent way too much but alas, here we are. $50
3 p.m. — Get to leave work early, woo! I head to the library to pick up my holds. On my way, I pass a lemonade stand. I am a sucker for little businesses "run" by kids so lemonade stands and Girl Scout cookie booths get me every time. $5.11
3:15 p.m. — I check out three books. I'm trying to check out fewer at a time because I'll check out tons then get overwhelmed by the amount and not actually read any. I'm trying to fight that cycle, but how am I supposed to say no to a queer romance?
10:30 p.m. — The evening is spent crafting, reading, and wedding planning.
Daily Total: $55.11

Day Three

7 a.m. — Will I ever get up when my alarm actually goes off? The world may never know. Get up, brush teeth, wash and moisturize, dry shampoo the 'do, and get dressed. G. packs breakfast and lunch for me to eat at work. We carpool to work.
10 a.m. — Here we go with four meetings in a row. All virtual and yet here I am in the office.
12 p.m. — We break in the Zoom for lunch. I eat leftover buttered noodles and random snacks.
4:30 p.m. — Off work! We are going to tour a new gym after work to see if we like it and want to get a membership. This would be significantly cheaper than my old gym that I quit because it was far too expensive.
5 p.m. — We like the gym! We're going to start our first free month next week. I drop G. at a work dinner and then order vegan pad thai with tofu for pick up on my way home. $17.44
6:15 p.m. — Eat about half the pad thai and put the rest in the fridge for later. I grab some treats and settle in on the couch for some YouTube and internet-ing. I spend time making up a prototype of a wedding day timeline. We have over two years until the date, but it's so fun to visualize and plan.
8 p.m. — I pick up G. from her dinner and we stop by the grocery store for milk (G. pays). Relax before heading to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $17.44

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — Another day, another alarm slept through. Although today we have another retreat so I don't need to be in until 8:30 so I will actually be on time.
8:30 a.m. — Before the meeting starts, I head to the bookstore and a lot of things are on clearance so I buy a sweatshirt, t-shirt, and magnet. $50
9 a.m. — Start of the all-day retreat. Breakfast, snacks, and lunch are all catered by work. Free food is good food in my book.
4 p.m. — Out of work! I head to discounted museum day for the evening. G. bought tickets ($6/person) several weeks ago. We end up having a good time! G. buys a patch and a magnet. We force ourselves to cook dinner instead of eating out. Easy rice ramen noodles and stir fry veggies it is, followed by bowls of cereal.
7:30 p.m. — Get ourselves off the couch to pack, do dishes, and other reset tasks around the house to prepare to leave for our trip to Chicago after work tomorrow. We head to bed after a shower around 10.
Daily Total: $50

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Did I finally wake up on time and leave with enough time to get to work early? No. No, I did not. But it's Friday and there's way less traffic so I won't be as late. My boss genuinely doesn't care if we're late as long as it isn't noticeably late. Plus, I'm still there before her most days.
10 a.m. — Off to the first orientation meeting of the summer. I don't have any students today so I just listen and work on other projects. The students' energy is great and it's nice to be reminded of why I love working in higher education.
12 p.m. — I finish the project I've been working on just in time for lunch. I have leftover pad thai and free fruit. I take some time to update the budget and see where I'm at ahead of the weekend. Spending money isn't looking great for the weekend but I have some money in birthdays/holiday sinking funds to move around since this trip is G.'s birthday gift. Definitely looking forward to the side gig checks this month to have some fun money.
3 p.m. — Spend some afternoon time on projects and a walk around campus. I pre-order doughnuts to pick up tomorrow morning in Chicago. I'm always looking for good vegan doughnuts. $15.66
7:30 p.m. — We drive a few hours to Chicago and finally get to our Airbnb. We stopped for dinner on the way and G. paid.
Daily Total: $15.66

Day Six

10:20 a.m. — I get ready after a lazy morning in bed and we head out for some exploring. I pick up my doughnuts and G. buys herself breakfast.
11:30 a.m. — We stop at an adorable store and pick up a few things. I get a birthday card for a friend. $10
12 p.m. — I surprised G. with a manicure at a cool salon. She bought the first round when we initially got engaged and the rings are just so pretty, it is nice to spruce up the hands they sit upon. $90
2:30 p.m. — I find a bookstore with a huge LGBTQ+ section and leave with a ton of books. $100
3:30 p.m. — I stop to pick up some *ahem* souvenirs that one cannot buy in Indiana. $60
5:20 p.m. — Catch the bus to get to dinner. Dinner is small plate style, so we share carrot dumplings, tomato sashimi, a kale salad, and yuca gnocchi alongside some CBD drinks. It is all fantastic. This trip is a gift so we're eating way fancier than usual. $110
8 p.m. — Time for the show!!! We see SIX and have a phenomenal time. I bought tickets six weeks ago.
10 p.m. — We head back on the bus to the Airbnb to crash. $5
Daily Total: $375

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — We wake up and get ready to go brunch with G.'s friend from college who so graciously pays for brunch. I have a tofu scramble with a side of French toast and everything is fantastic.
10:30 a.m. — We pop around a few different shops and end up with more books, a puzzle, and some jewelry. G. pays.
12 p.m. — Finally on the drive home. Get home and immediately fall asleep.
3 p.m. — We make an early dinner and just relax with the cats. I start to read one of the books we got.
5 p.m. — I feel a strong desire to do a finance check-in and catalog everything from the weekend into Splitwise to settle up. I make our grocery list and financial plan for the week. All of this travel for the past month, while so fun, has led to a good amount of overspending. I need to start saving for our wedding so I re-evaluate my saving plans. I also plan to use most of the extra money from my side gig to balance out the spending from this week.
11 p.m. — I plan out my day for tomorrow and then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0
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