A Week In Denver, CO, On A $70,000 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 analyst working in finance who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Justin's Maple Almond Butter.
Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Finance
Age: 25
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $70,000 + $10,000 bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,175
Gender: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $2,150 (Mortgage, taxes, and insurance for an 800-square-foot condo I share with husband. He pays the HOA ($420), which includes his parking, utilities, cable, and internet, and the title is in both of our names.)
Loans: $0
401(k): 5% contributions
Gym Membership: $66
Car Payments: $0 (our cars are old, paid off, but reliable)
Parking: $0 (HUGE work perk!)
Semi-Annual Car Insurance Payment: $490
Netflix: $16.99 Netflix

Day One

5 a.m. — My Monday morning alarm hurts my soul. I simply have to be productive this morning, but I don't think I'll be able to stay awake working from the couch. I steal my husband, K.'s, iPad and head to the treadmill at our condo gym to listen to online lectures for graduate school. Difficult to fall asleep while walking, right?
6:15 a.m. — I quickly rinse off and get ready in the dark because K. is still sleeping soundly. This is a surprisingly difficult task — a lot of my work dresses are wrinkly. I find something passable, ignore the tornado-closet, warm up a bagel sandwich I made last night, and head out for my glorious 15-minute walking commute.
6:50 a.m. — I get to my desk and wish I had learned to like coffee.
12 p.m.— I get an email that my credit card payment has posted. This email usually gets instantly deleted (I don't carry a balance and have autopay set up), but K. was fired last week and we're trying to be careful, so I comb through my spending a bit. We take the “what's mine is yours” philosophy to money, but we haven't actually gotten around to joining accounts. The mortgage and most groceries come out of my checking account while his salary (slightly higher than mine) mostly fed our savings, HOA, travel, and entertainment budget. Luckily, my credit card bill for January was shockingly low and I doubt we'll eat into savings at all this month.
2 p.m.— I eat a protein bar with a Diet Dr. Pepper that I brought from home at my desk. Yes, I deserve to be lectured — diet soda is a bad (almost daily) habit and I very rarely take a lunch.
4:30 p.m. — I leave and get home to catch up with K., who's had four phone interviews and two workouts today. He's probably moving a bit too quickly, but all things considered, this is a great outcome. Nobody can truly say they know how they'll handle being fired until it happens, and taking too many random interviews is better than laying on the couch feeling angry and sad. My heart aches for my sweet man who's fighting so hard to regain his confidence. I curl up on the couch for another online lecture, punctuated by random YouTube clips from my extrovert husband who's been cooped up all day.
6:30 p.m. — I head to my friend's house — she has a group of girls over that are watching The Bachelor. Honestly, the show is pretty funny to me and the group offers a hilarious running commentary, but it's hard for me to get too invested. I really enjoy the company though.
8:30 p.m. — I leave my friend's house (without knowing who didn't get a rose — gasp!) and head to our indoor coed soccer game. Soccer is honestly one of my favorite parts of the week. To the great pride and entertainment of our single fan (an injured teammate who doubles as a dutiful spouse), we win a nail-biter. We sit around chatting for almost an hour afterward — we've fully fallen into the trap of “adults who take their recreational coed soccer careers way too seriously.”
10:45 p.m. — I'm not hungry and all I want to do is flop on the couch, but I know better, so I shower and assemble a burrito bowl — chicken, romaine lettuce, peppers, black beans, quinoa, homemade pico de gallo, and guacamole. I cooked the various pieces of this meal yesterday. If I were a glowing goddess with a coherent skincare routine, fashion sense, and a consistent yoga habit, this would be called meal prep, but I'm a scattered mess, so it's called "eating leftovers all week." K. brings home a McFlurry to split and dutifully admires my new four-inch bruise.
12 a.m. — My thoughts are still bouncing around, so I turn on the TV to tune them out. Luckily, K. sleeps through anything.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6 a.m.— The alarm is rough this morning too. Luckily, my morning routine is simple — moisturizer (generic Target brand), contacts, brush my teeth, brush my hair, and fill in the patchy blonde excuse I have for eyebrows. I make an egg white and veggie scramble, smother it with cheese, top it with salsa, spend too long eating it, and have to speedwalk to work.
12 p.m.— My (fantastic but tough) boss catches a minor mistake I made on Friday and yells at me in front of everyone. This industry is not for the faint of heart. I have a pretty thick skin, but for some reason, this one frazzles me a bit. I run to 7-11 for a diet soda, fresh air, and de-frazzling. $2.02
4:45 p.m. — I leave work and head straight to the gym, where the check-in guy said my membership has been canceled since the credit card on file has expired. I swap spin class for 30 minutes with customer service. They waive the $100 late fees I've apparently accumulated (!) and set up auto-pay again.
5:30 p.m. — I get home and commiserate with K. over burrito bowls. I'm restless and slightly cranky, which are signs I probably should have tried to squeeze in some exercise after the credit card snafu.
6:30 p.m. — I'm finally settling down to work on a report for my graduate school class when K. gets a call from our old apartment telling him his W-2 was delivered there. Productivity be damned, a walk through the city at 50 degrees in January sounds much better than homework, so I join him for a stroll across town.
7:45 p.m. — We've been wandering around the city with no real destination or purpose. Walking and talking is therapeutic and Denver's fun to wander — it's small enough to change every block. Eventually, we make it to Broadway and K. asks to stop for a beer. We wander into a new bar. I get a vodka diet and K gets a 32-ounce beer ($7 total before tip). My drink is strong and I don't really care to drink tonight anyways, so K. drinks most of it. He pays.
9 p.m. — We get home, turn on some music, and bust out our best moves, which would be average at best in a club. Weird? Immature? Probably. Stress-relieving? Definitely.
10:30 p.m. — I have a couple of bites of ice cream and a piece of peanut butter toast before showering and going to bed.
Daily Total: $2.02

Day Three

6 a.m. — My dearest husband's sleeping personality is occasionally a real asshole. My progressive efforts to get him to stop kicking me off the bed — gently shaking him awake, picking up his feet and moving them, crawling to the other side of the bed, and a not-so-gentle retaliatory kick — are all fruitless. I wake up on the couch. He wakes up innocent and apologetic.
12 p.m. — My chronic back pain (thanks, college athletics) rears its ugly head after a quiet week. It's surprisingly intense and distracting today. I duck out to the convenience store for some ibuprofen, which is really expensive! For whatever reason, this price gouge really offends me, so I ask K. to bring me some when he passes my work on the way to the gym.
4:30 p.m. — I leave work and head straight to the gym for a light lift and a short spin bike ride that doesn't aggravate my back. I struggle to eat and sleep normally without some level of endorphins, but my back makes getting that endorphin fix difficult. I'm incredibly grateful for the experience and financial support my sport gave me (between academics and athletics, I was on a full-ride scholarship), but I do have weeks where post-athletic life is a tug of war between mental and physical health.
6:05 p.m. — I meet K. at a sandwich shop. It has massive sandwiches on Wednesdays for $5, but it closes at 6! The disappointment is pretty crushing, so we stop at Snarf's on our way home to split a 12-inch spicy turkey and Swiss sandwich. $12.47
7:30 p.m. — I settle in for a couple of hours of homework, powered by Beyoncé, and a small salad and dark chocolate. The exercise definitely helps my focus and my report is progressing quickly! I try to ignore the fact that I might have to skip next semester while we wait for our tuition savings balance to come back up.
10:30 p.m. — I eventually shower and get to bed to find K. cracking up over Jackass 3. I'm not usually above silly humor, but this one is a little much for me.
Daily Total: $12.47

Day Four

6 a.m. — I lay in bed too long, eat a bizarre breakfast of whatever's closest in the fridge (frozen berries, some leftover chicken, and a couple bites of ice cream), throw my hair in a ponytail and dash out the door. At least I brushed my teeth and remembered ibuprofen — counts as a win in my book!
12 p.m.— I have a protein bar and an apple while working through an interesting project. K. texts me to say the hiring manager for his top choice company asked for his salary range and told him he's a leading candidate!
5:30 p.m. — I get called into a last-minute late meeting and leave late. The meeting invitation is a good sign for my professional development and the meeting is interesting, so I don't mind the near 11-hour day. I stop by the gym to listen to a lecture while biking, then I shower and head home for a burrito bowl salad and report writing.
9 p.m.— We leave for amateur comedy night. We honestly might be the only non-aspiring comedians to ever attend this event, but it's hilarious and the comedians appreciate an easy audience who's willing to sit upfront. I nurse a vodka diet, K. drinks a few beers, and we split some wings. Beers are $3.50, but I honestly think K. gets half of them for free between the friendly owners and appreciative comedians. He puts the drinks on his tab, I get the wings. $11
12 a.m. — K.'s decently tipsy. He's not physically capable of getting a hangover, so I'm really happy to see him having fun after a rough 10 days and confident he'll crush his afternoon phone interview tomorrow. However, he's attempting to get on stage to present an unrehearsed comedy routine about farts, which is our cue to leave. We walk the mile home because we're too cheap for Uber.
2 a.m. — K. treats me to a tipsy stream of consciousness that alternates between an unrehearsed comedy routine, job opportunities, and future plans. He reveals he canceled our Europe trip this week and was very, very upset (we had been dreaming of it for a while but agreed it wasn't good timing with last week's events. I wasn't aware he had already bought the tickets as a surprise). I comfort him, encourage more comedy (regret this — he's hilarious, but there's only so many times you can laugh at a tipsy Taco Bell fart joke), and drift to sleep. I love K. with all my heart and feel guilty for falling asleep when he needs a conversation buddy, but I'm exhausted.
Daily Total: $11

Day Five

6:20 a.m. — The snooze button is my best friend and worst enemy this morning. I throw on my casual Friday pants, drink a tea, eat a bagel sandwich, and make it to work on time.
11 a.m. — I drop my phone and crack the screen. K. can replace it for a $10 glass cover and an hour's worth of work, but the thing is three-years-old and doesn't hold a charge, so I Google replacement refurbished phones. Yikes — when did refurbished phones get so expensive? The phone is still working fine, so I put this decision off and open a Diet Dr. Pepper to power through more work.
5 p.m. — My back is hurting, so I skip the gym and go home, where K. is eager to fill me in on a day of successful interviews. We have a rare lazy Friday night with a gourmet menu of Trader Joe's Chicken Chow Mein, obligatory salads, and Ben and Jerry's. Neighbors stop by for a bit to chat and we take their dog out for a walk.
8 p.m. — We bid our neighbors and their dog adieu and head back for more sober, lazy Friday. Entertainment includes a trip to the building hot tub, a couple of games of pool, and deleted scenes from The Office.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

9 a.m. — We've been up for a while not doing much, but I finally roll out of bed and make an egg white and veggie scramble.
10 a.m. — We leave for a hike near Red Rocks. It's a gorgeous 60-degree day and there's no need for the Yak Trax I packed. The views aren't quite as stunning as the taller peaks we can climb over the summer, but for a safe winter hike, it's pretty good!
1:30 p.m. — Hike's done and I can barely feel my legs — deadlifts this week were a bad idea! We stop at a local restaurant with a mountain town vibe for food. K. pays for my burger, which is honestly not great, even after a long hike. I'm tired and disappointed.
3 p.m. — We pass a Target on our way back and I convince K. to go. I desperately want a big, comfy sweater and Target is my go-to for comfort clothes. I can't find one, but we walk out with some groceries — peppers, carrots, lettuce, diet soda, frozen veggies, eggs, cheese, bagels, turkey bacon, Justin's Maple Almond Butter (my absolute favorite splurge, I have to limit myself to once a month), toothbrushes, and probably a couple other things. I don't feel great about this trip — Target isn't the cheapest and we probably forgot some things, but we're honestly pretty lazy about getting the car out and this is better than walking to the expensive stores in the heart of downtown. $41.67
4 p.m. — We get back, put away the groceries, rinse off, and immediately go to the building hot tub to soak our sore muscles. I follow this up with a long, luxurious shower.
6:30 p.m. — I wake up from a very intense nap — the kind where you startle yourself awake and spend a couple of minutes trying to remember what planet you're on. I'd have to leave soon if I want to meet our friends at a bar before we go to Comedy Works. I'm torn — I'm behind on my grad school report, but I really want to go. I decide to be responsible and plan to meet up with them later.
7:30 p.m. — I've eaten snacks (fruit and spinach protein smoothie and Trader Joe's taquitos) but I've gotten nowhere on the report and my brain feels scattered. K. texts me to tell me the girls decided not to go to Comedy Works — it's a guys night, but they really want me to come anyways. I actually am probably a little closer with the guys (sports talk comes very easily to me) and I always have a ton of fun at guys night, but I'm a little hurt the girls didn't let me know their updated plans. I text them and get no response. I'm very embarrassed I let that bother me (I'm a 25-year-old woman! I have a 401(k)! I didn't go to the pregame! Why on earth do I get bothered by catty behavior?), but it stings nonetheless. I decide to stay home and focus on the report.
9 p.m. — My laptop is nine years old and keeps crashing. It usually runs fine, but being asked to run K.'s job search all day and complex code for my report at night is a little taxing. I need a new one, but we should probably wait until K.'s employed. I focus my restless energy to cleaning and laundry instead of cursing at the laptop.
12 a.m. — I've refolded my entire dresser and the place looks pristine — it's amazing how quickly our 800 square feet can get messy. I flop on the couch and hide my laptop (it's turned on, ready to perform, and staring at me disapprovingly). I watch (okay, rewatch) Cheer until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $41.67

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I wake up, eat some almond butter toast, stare at my report for a while, do some physical therapy exercises, and generally laze around until it looks warm enough to run.
12 p.m. — I'm riding a serious endorphin high, but I'm also painfully aware I pushed it too far. I Google chiropractors, remember how expensive they are and how unhelpful they've been, give up, rinse off and head to Costco with K.
1:30 p.m. — We get cases of Corona, Bud Light, a spiked seltzer I've never heard of from Upslope, Doritos, and two massive pizzas for our Super Bowl gathering. We also get a rotisserie chicken — we'll shred it and add it to salads, pasta, and sandwiches throughout the week ($93.47). While I check out, K. goes to the attached liquor store for some vodka and tequila (he pays, probably $40 — we're young and dumb enough to still like cheaper alcohol). We probably got too much alcohol because most of our friends will bring their own beer, but we need to restock anyway. Because we live downtown, friends are always stopping by our place before their Friday and Saturday night shenanigans and we like to have a stash handy. $93.47
2:30 p.m. — K.'s brother comes early for job searching help. We have similar backgrounds, so I offered to help him poke around the Internet and edit his resume. An hour slips by really quickly! I quickly eat a piece of pizza and speed walk to Target before our friends arrive. I get paper plates, red Solo cups, sodas for mixing, and Gatorades for K. and I. We don't usually drink Gatorade, but I like to prepare in case of hangover. $11.86
4:30 p.m. — I quickly whip up a batch of brownies (no recipe — my hidden talent!) and settle in for a good game. I then feel guilty for experimenting with recipes on our friends.
6:30 p.m. — I realize I'm really tipsy at halftime when I get distracted by Shakira's hair (of all things in that magnificent performance) and spend the entire halftime show Googling “hair salon fabulous like Shakira Denver” and giggling. I haven't eaten enough today and I'm not trying to make up for a tame weekend on a Sunday. I switch to water and have more pizza.
10:30 p.m. — We've talked and enjoyed our friends for hours, but I'm sobered up and tired. The brownies were demolished — I'm proud, but disappointed that I forgot to taste one for myself! I head to bed and really, really hope I can find time to write my report tomorrow.
Daily Total: $105.33
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