A Week In Albuquerque, NM, On A $39,570 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a clinical research coordinator working in healthcare who makes $39,570 per year and spends some of her money this week on nail strengthener.
Occupation: Clinical Research Coordinator
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 25
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Salary: $39,570
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $988.81
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $385 for my half of $770 total (My boyfriend and I share a two-bed/two-bath apartment with utilities included.)
Loans: $0, but total $95,500 in deferment (I financed my education myself; the majority is from graduate school for my MPH.)
Health/Vision/Dental Insurance: $177.88 pre-tax deduction
Retirement: $325 pre-tax deduction
Savings: $750
Wi-Fi: $31 ($62 split with my boyfriend)
Netflix: $18 (I pay and share with my family.)
Hulu: $0 (on my boyfriend's brother's plan)
Spotify Premium: $5.99
Cell Phone: $60 (on a family plan with my brother; he sends me his portion every month)
Dog Food: $45
Dog Day Care: $25
Car and Renter's Insurance: $0 (My boyfriend covers because his salary is higher.)

Day One

4 a.m. — I wake up to a quiet bark. It's the puppy letting me know she needs to go outside. I let her out for a bathroom break, put her back to sleep, and crash until my 5 a.m. alarm goes off. L., my partner, sleeps in a bit while I get up and prep our breakfast. Our work-day breakfast consists of overnight oats with a scoop of peanut butter, plus coffee for each of us. L. gets up at about 5:30 to come play with the puppy and eat with me. I pack the puppy's overnight bag while he takes her outside for another bathroom break.
6:30 a.m. — Today is the first day we are boarding the puppy in preparation for an out-of-state trip that we have soon. We take her in bright and early so she can play all day with the other dogs and (hopefully) sleep well tonight. She is very excited to be back with her doggy friends and practically runs through the entrance door. We reserve her boarding nights for our trip and for a wedding we are going to in a few months, and pay a 50% deposit for the seven future nights before heading to work. $139.15
11:30 a.m. — L. and I were going to meet for a lunch date, but he gets called into a meeting. Bonus for me, since I have a ton of work to catch up on from my annual leave last week. I am on a productive roll, and I have several research participant items to complete, so I go back to my desk and take a working lunch. I bring a whole week's worth of lunch on Monday mornings and keep it in the communal fridge, so I pick at my baked chicken, broccoli, and an apple while I schedule participants.
12:45 p.m. — L. texts me that his meeting is out, so we head to the campus café for a coffee break/lunch hour. We spend the hour catching up on finances and talking about plans for our upcoming trip. He isn't feeling too great, so I order him a tea and get myself a doppio con panna as an afternoon pick-me-up. $4.25
2:30 p.m. — One of the department administrators has a birthday today, and someone brought chocolate-covered strawberries. Another staff member baked a traditional Italian cake that is perfectly light for this hot summer day. I have a small slice to join the celebration. I head back to my office after the festivities to nail out some final projects for the afternoon.
4:30 p.m. — I swing by Walgreens after work to pick up some nail-care items. I need to get a better nail strengthener while my nails grow out. I also grab a nail buffer and a new red polish to try out. $22.78
5:30 p.m. — After I pick up L. from his office, we head home and make dinner. Veggie burgers tonight! I really like the high-protein veggie patties from Trader Joe's. I don't eat a lot of meat, so the protein these patties have is much needed, and at $3.50 for two patties, they are a much better value than most other vegan options. I pop the patties in the oven, and L. helps me prep the rest of dinner.
7 p.m. — L. and I sit down to review our budget and go over financial goals for the remainder of the year. I will be starting nursing school in five months, so we are really trying to reach our savings goal before I quit working. After about an hour of planning, we agree to get cash out for expenses for the rest of the month to keep on track with our savings goals.
9:30 p.m. — We were supposed to have a CouchSurfing guest, but she lets me know she is not on schedule to make it to town tonight. Since we have the evening to ourselves again, I cuddle up with L. on the couch, and we finish the new season of Working Moms. This show is tearing my heart up. We head to bed by 10:30 and both knock out.
Daily Total: $166.18

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — Since there is no puppy alarm clock this morning, I snooze my 5 a.m. and get closer to L. under the covers. We snuggle in bed and doze off, and finally wake up (obscenely late) and decide to pack our overnight oats and coffee to-go. L. and I hop in the shower and sneak in a bit of sexy time — and still get to the office by 7:30 to prep for my meetings.
8:40 a.m. — I dropped my oatmeal on the floor, and I'm now wildly annoyed with myself. I run up to the café and order a breakfast bowl, which comes with two eggs, black beans, turkey sausage, some hash browns, and a bit of cheese. I go back to my desk and keep working while I scarf down my food. $5.19
2 p.m. — I have been super busy with research meetings this morning, but I finally reach a good break point. I heat up my broccoli and carrots for lunch, and after picking at it for a few minutes, I take a walk to the café for a coffee. I received some pretty bad news this morning, so L. meets me there for a bit of decompression time. I go to get in line, but he has already ordered my drink. I am going to marry this man.
4:30 p.m. — Finally OOO. Today was much busier than I was expecting, and I am happy to be off for the day. I swing by L.'s office to pick him up, and we head to the dog-boarding location to pick up our puppy. We missed her so much yesterday! She runs up to us smelling fresh and clean, and we pay the remainder for her overnight stay before heading home. $23.20
6 p.m. — Tonight is the puppy's last training class. Graduation time! Today we work on leash walking, and I am seeing a bit of improvement in her reactivity to other dogs. She is very loving and just wants to play with everyone, and she loves to bark to tell you all about it! The puppies finish class with a nice long playtime session.
7:45 p.m. — We get home, and the puppy immediately goes to her bed and falls asleep. The poor thing has been going constantly for two days, so I have a feeling she will sleep hard tonight and tomorrow. I make salmon burgers for L. while he does the dishes. L. is in a grumpy mood, and I am feeding off of his emotions, so I try to leave him alone and do my own thing after we eat.
10:30 p.m. — Our grumpy moods turn into a bit of a constructive argument, but I am glad it did. We are both able to get some things off of our chests, and we both feel better after a bit of a release. We put the puppy to bed and head to bed ourselves.
Daily Total: $28.39

Day Three

5 a.m. — I was right, the puppy slept like a rock. I have to wake her up for the first time since we brought her home two months ago! I run through our morning routine, and L. joins me to get our breakfast and coffee ready. We are getting back into our swing of things after a crazy few weeks — I appreciate his little gestures even more today. He prepped our vitamins last night, so I finally remember to take them. When I remember, I take daily flaxseed oil (omegas), vitamin D and vitamin B12 (to help with my depression), iron pills (anemia), and a prenatal. We are very careful and are NOT trying for a baby, but I am not on birth control due to a variety of health issues and multiple expelled IUDs, so I try to take a prenatal vitamin just in case we end up pregnant at any point. It gives me a sense of control that I have a healthy foundation to make the choice I want regarding pregnancy outcomes, should something unexpected show up in the oven.
6:30 a.m. — I dry shampoo my hair and throw on some mascara and a dress to head out for work. The puppy has already outgrown her 36" crate, so we set up the 48" crate that L.'s boss gifted us. We settle her in there with some stuffed animals and her Wobbler before heading to work. She goes in and falls straight asleep. Maybe she will be ready for a walk later on after all!
12:30 p.m. — This morning at work was super busy, but I have the afternoon off for a therapy appointment. I grab my carrots from the fridge and head out of the office. I was diagnosed with chronic PTSD this year, and my therapist is awesome and has been helping me through some really tough traumas lately. I pay cash for my visit co-pay. $45
2:15 p.m. — Therapy was rough today, so I am glad I took the afternoon off. I head home to spend time with the puppy. She is so aware and attentive to human emotions; she always cuddles up with me after a session. It's hard to be under a 40-pound dog, but she makes it work. I make pasta for a late lunch and pack up the leftovers for dinner tonight.
3:45 p.m. — Sharing a car is tough, but we have managed to make it work somehow for over a year now. I leave the apartment to go pick up L. from the office, and I stop for gas on the way when I see it is $2.16 a gallon. While the tank fills, I grab an iced tea and Gatorade. I pick up L. from his office, and then we pick up my bridesmaid dress for my friend's wedding. $25
6 p.m. — The dress is beautiful but definitely not the right color gray. I send her a picture, and she says it's totally fine (being the only bridesmaid has its perks). She says the color should match her brides-man's pants, so we are in the clear. She calls me later to ask me to be her maid of honor!
9:45 p.m. — L. and I pick up the apartment a bit, put the puppy to sleep, and take showers. I do my normal skin and hair routine and come out smelling like a coconut. We get into bed and try to start watching Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, but it is too soothing. We agree to put the computer away, and KO by 10:30.
Daily Total: $70

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — I have been in and out of sleep for a while, but L. got up with the puppy at 5 and told me to stay in bed and rest. I come out, and he has coffee ready for us both. I quickly straighten my hair, and we head out on the puppy's morning walk. We eat our overnight oats when we get home, then head to work.
7:45 a.m. — Today is already a busy one. I swing by my office to grab my laptop and then run to another building for a meeting.
12 p.m. — I have enough time to grab lunch before a busy afternoon, so I go to the café and order chipotle chicken tenders with a side salad, since I forgot to pack my eggs today. Not the healthiest option, but I am running on fumes and seriously need some protein. And it is delicious. $8.49
4:15 p.m. — Today was insanely busy, but it's Friday and it's over! I meet L. at his office, and we head out. He went home at 2:30 to play with the puppy, so we have some time to kill before we need to head back. We stop by a local ice cream shop for a sweet treat, since it is still so hot. I get a small chocolate and banana ice cream, he gets a cinnamon vanilla shake plus a hotdog. L. treats with the cash we each pulled out specifically for dining out earlier in the week.
5 p.m. — We make a Costco run for a few items before heading home: chicken tenderloin, coffee, shampoo for me, bagels for meals this weekend, and some specialty salsa that L. loves. We pay cash and split the $57.58 total down the middle from the money we took out this week. $28.79
5:30 p.m. — Get a phone call from a good friend of L.'s, and we rush home. She is passing through town on a trip from Los Angeles and asks if she can swing by to say hi! She stays for a bit before getting back on the road, and the puppy absolutely loves her. It's hard being so far from friends and family, so this was a welcome surprise.
8:45 p.m. — The weather has been pretty stormy tonight (monsoon season is super unpredictable), and we have been playing with the puppy pretty hard to try and get her sleepy. It's not working. I take advantage of a break in the rain and walk/run her up and down the street a few times before it starts raining again. She seems happy when we get home and curls up on her bed to sleep by our feet. L. agrees to watch an episode of The Handmaid's Tale with me while the puppy rests.
9:30 p.m. — We are both really emotionally drained after watching, so we put the pup to bed and head to our room. We try to decide on something to watch, but I start dozing off. I curl up next to L. and fall asleep while he reads some ESPN articles.
Daily Total: $37.28

Day Five

4:30 a.m. — Puppy woke up at 3:45 for a potty break. I let her out. The puppy is still awake in her crate and whining. Now I am a little mad about it. I push through and wait until 5, her normal wake-up time, before I give her any attention. We go through our normal morning routine, but she is being extra testy this morning.
6:45 a.m. — L. wakes up and takes over with the puppy so I can catch a break. I make us a pot of café de olla. I enjoy my coffee and make us a quick breakfast of bagels and eggs. At about 8, L. takes the puppy on a walk, and I lie in bed and try to nap.
11:45 a.m. — Definitely got to rest this morning! L. came home and played with the puppy until she needed a nap and then cuddled up with me when she finally fell asleep. We get her up at 11:45 and take her with us to a local coffee shop before L. goes to his volunteer clinic for the afternoon. We order two iced coffees and I leave a cash tip, then we hang out on the doggy deck for a while. $9
1 p.m. — I drop off the puppy at home and run around the corner to buy an oil filter and get the car's oil changed. The down time gives me the chance to finalize some options on the favors my friend wants and to look into her hot chocolate/candy/boozy bar for the wedding. I brought the oil from home, and L. splits the labor cost with me. $17.67
2.15 p.m. — I surprisingly did not have to wait for the oil change, so I have time to kill while the puppy naps. I decide to knock out the week's grocery haul. First I stop at Sprouts and buy carrots, lots of broccoli, avocados, plums, cherries, bananas, pineapple juice, ground cinnamon, and bulk items including brown rice, brown sugar, and rolled oats. Next, I go to the local bakery for a treat and buy a chocolate babka loaf to make French toast tomorrow morning. Last is Albertsons, where I pick up turkey sausages, coffee creamer, Cholula, alfredo sauce, soy sauce, some tortilla chips for L., and a large jug of white vinegar. I pay cash and everything totals $70.85, half from each of us. It's starting to thunder when I leave the store, so I head home. $35.43
3:30 p.m. — The thunder is really close, and I am glad it doesn't scare the puppy too much. I turn off the AC and leave the patio door open while I prep a pineapple chicken crockpot meal and clean and chop the rest of the fruits and veggies for the week. She happily plays with her bone while I get some chores done.
7:30 p.m. — L. texts me that he will be done with clinic in 15 minutes, so I grab the puppy and head to pick him up. On the way home, we are both really hungry, so we just swing by Blake's Lotaburger for dinner. Mistake. Our order takes forever and is completely wrong. We end up waiting about 45 minutes for two burgers, but they finally come out right. Bonus, they threw in some brownies on the house for the wait. $9.50
11 p.m. — We set up to watch the rest of Crazy Rich Asians. I snack on some cherries. By the end, I am falling asleep on the couch, so we finally go to bed.
Daily Total: $71.60

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — I wake up feeling wonderfully refreshed. L. got up with the puppy this morning around 4:30 and told me to sleep in, since I have been getting up with her most mornings. I go to the living room and join their playtime for a while.
8 a.m. — Breakfast time! I break out the babka from yesterday and make French toast and turkey sausage as a Sunday morning treat. I serve the French toast with cherry jam for me and with syrup and an egg for L. This turned out much more chocolatey than I expected, but I am not mad at it. L. is probably not the biggest fan, so I make a mental note to get regular bread as well next time.
11 a.m. — After a lazy morning, we get the puppy ready and head out for a coffee date. We stop at Little Bear, a local dog-friendly café, but it is super packed. Instead, we head to Old Town to go to one of our favorite spots, Blackbird Coffee House. We set up on the patio outside and enjoy the sunshine and delicious coffees. The puppy happily plays on her mat and watches people curiously as they walk by. $11.67
1:45 p.m. — We head home and stop by Trader Joe's on the way. L. runs in and grabs coffee creamer and mini ice cream cones as a dessert treat. $6.48
4 p.m. — L. starts the laundry for the week, and I prep our dinner. Our apartment complex constantly has issues with the washing machines, so we end up paying for three loads instead of two. I make dinner while he gets everything done, and we eat the crockpot pineapple chicken with broccoli and brown rice. After dinner we relax for a while, and I treat myself to a glass of the red wine I have been saving. $5
7 p.m. — We take the puppy out for her 45-minute walk early, since the weather is significantly cooler than usual. The puppy does really well about not pulling while we walk, but has a "rocket" moment right before we go back to the apartment and scratches the back of my legs.
8:45 p.m. — We finish the evening by meal-prepping the chicken for L.'s lunch and hanging out on the couch watching YouTube videos while the puppy rests. We head to bed early for once, around 9.
Daily Total: $23.15

Day Seven

5 a.m. — We made it! The puppy slept all night again! L. gets up to let her out, and I snooze for a few minutes. I roll out of bed and make us hot oatmeal while he makes our coffee. It's an easy morning.
6:45 a.m. — So long, easy morning. There is a leak in our apartment, and we debate back and forth taking the puppy to daycare so maintenance can come in. L. decides to work from home this morning, so he drives me to work and heads back.
12 p.m. — I had a super productive morning, so I take a minute during lunch to submit my tuition remission form for my fall classes. One awesome perk of this job is getting to take eight credits per semester paid for by the university, so my nursing pre-reqs have been covered. I am taking A&P and pathophysiology, so I use the rest of my break to look up course books. No deals yet, so I hold off on buying any until I can do some serious digging.
12:15 p.m. — L. calls and tells me he needs me to come stay home. It looks like they have to cut a hole in the wall to fix the leak, and he has a meeting. Since he dropped me off this morning, I call a Lyft and head home for the afternoon. $9.81
5 p.m. — I have been snacking all afternoon, but I still feel ravenous. I make some pasta alfredo and veggies for dinner. L. comes home from the gym after work, and he has stopped to pick up more dog food and some baking soda for me on his way back. We split the dog food cost for the big bag of Hill's Science Diet Large Breed Puppy food. $25
7:45 p.m. — We take the puppy out for her walk and discuss a nose-work training class, but decide against it since we are both starting classes again soon. I am currently applying to nursing school, and he is applying to med school next year, so we both want to keep ourselves sharp this fall.
9:30 p.m. — The puppy is sleepy finally, so we all relax in the living room for a while. I make us some canela (cinnamon tea) while L. sets up a movie for us to watch. Surprise, it's Harry Potter! We make it about halfway through the Goblet of Fire, then head to bed.
Daily Total: $34.81
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