A Week In Ann Arbor, MI, On An $85,000 Salary

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Today: a registered nurse working in healthcare who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Hubble contacts.
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 27
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Salary: $85,000
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,500-$3,500
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $345 for my half of a one-bedroom apartment shared with my boyfriend, D.
Loans: $0 (I have $1,200 remaining on a student loan from when I was 19, down from $2,000. I will restart payments next month.)
Water/Sewer/Trash: $0 (included in rent)
Electric: $0 (D. pays)
Phone Bill: $40 paid toward a family plan
Internet: $0 (D. pays)
Netflix: $0 (D.'s family shares with us.)
Hulu: 99¢ (Cyber Monday special)
HBOGo: $14.99
Amazon Prime: $49 annually (shared with my family)
Gym Membership: $7
Pottery Studio Space: $55 every 10 weeks
Healthcare: $0 (employer pays)
Car Payment: $0 (Both vehicles were paid in full.)
Car Insurance: $160 for two cars
Renter's Insurance: $120 annually
Savings: I move money over from my checking account when it exceeds $1,000. I currently have $27,000, and I am saving for a down payment on a house.
Simple IRA: 3% contribution each paycheck, matched by employer. I am considering increasing this.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — My patient's cat wakes me up to be fed by jumping onto my chest from the windowsill. This is a new low, even for her, but now I'm wide awake and oblige her request. I take care of my patient's morning care routine and let the aide who works under my license sleep in. While writing my patient's progress note, I brush my teeth and take my blood pressure. I am completing day 30/30 of a study where I get an Apple watch and cash incentives for completing health-related tasks.
7 a.m. — The oncoming nurse arrives, and we chat about how the night went while I gather my belongings. Driving home from my 12-hour night shift is slightly more tolerable when listening to WCBN (local college radio station) and watching the sun rise. I get home and let my excited-to-see-me dog outside. She's the light of my life, so I give her a treat. D. and I snuggle in bed for a few minutes before we leave for the gym.
8:15 a.m. — We drop by my parents' house on our way to the gym. I am keeping an eye on things while they are on vacation. After bringing in the mail, I water their garden and feed their pet lizard and tarantula. At the gym, we weight-lift for an hour.
9:30 a.m. — We return home, and I let the dog back outside for a quick walk. D. gets ready to leave for work, and I mix him up a protein shake. We kiss goodbye as he walks out the door. I won't see him until tomorrow morning, as I work another night shift tonight. Before heading to bed, I sort and wash pinto beans to put into the slow cooker with homemade stock.
12:45 p.m. — A combination of my neighbor's dog barking and the lawn-care workers wakes me up. I get my running clothes on, apply Body Glide and sunscreen, and walk the dog around the neighborhood. Before putting the dog inside, I pick the last of the cherry tomatoes from my dried-up tomato plant (she served me well this summer) and water my outdoor garden. During my run, I listen to the Moth Radio Hour and The Daily by The New York Times.
2 p.m. — Back home sweaty and hungry. I haven't grocery shopped in a while due to being on vacation last week, so it's slim pickins around here. I make a smoothie with almond milk, chia seeds, frozen mango, and banana. It's okay but not very filling, so I eat pita chips, almonds, and a Chocobon from D.'s cousin, who lives in Germany.
3 p.m. — Walk the dog and say goodbye, make a pot of brown rice to have with my pinto beans later, pack up my overnight bag, and head out. I stop by D.'s father's house to pick up his medical marijuana that he left behind. We are staying with them up north on Lake Michigan this weekend. My phone alerts me that my package has arrived at my parents' house and that I have been charged. I stop by to pick it up — it's my first Hubble contact lens order. I rummage for food in their kitchen and end up eating peanut butter pretzels with grape jelly (pitiful, I know), then drive to work. $41.16
4:30 p.m. — The off-going nurse has fancy dinner plans, so I start my shift a couple hours earlier than usual.
5:30 p.m. — After researching anti-nausea medications for my patient's cat, I eat a yogurt cup that I had left in the fridge at work.
8 p.m. — My patient is watching Dr. Pimple Popper. I eat a clementine and heat up my beans and rice. I add salsa and sour cream and eat it with locally made garlic tortilla chips.
12:30 a.m. — My patient goes to bed, and so do I. I am allowed to sleep while at work (it's mostly incredible), as long as I attend to her needs. Throughout the night, the aide and I take turns assisting with various things.
Daily Total: $41.16

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Wake up, do morning care, report off to the day nurse, and drive home.
8 a.m. — After watering the plants, taking care of the pets, packing up the car with D., and getting the dog buckled in for the 3.5-hour drive, we head to the gas station to fill up. I pay in cash. D. drives while I close my eyes to supplement my broken sleep. $20
9:45 a.m. — D. pulls into our favorite pit stop/halfway point, and I wake up. We let the dog out for a short walk and then head inside. We pick out local specialty cheese, sesame pretzel chips, sesame sticks, banana chips, and elk and beef jerky, and D. pays ($28.42). Back on the road, I feed D. an assortment of the snacks we bought while he drives the last two hours to the lake house.
12 p.m. — We arrive and greet everyone. D.'s immediate and extended family are all in attendance. Feeling groggy from the lack of sleep, I pour myself some cold brew. I eat some of the sesame sticks we brought and a pear from a nearby farm stand.
1 p.m. — We change into our swimsuits, slather on sunscreen, grab the dog, and head out onto the jet boat. D.'s little brother drives the boat, while the rest of us water ski and tube. The water is pretty rough, but we manage to find an old shipwreck to explore. A storm starts to roll in, and we race back to the lake house.
5:30 p.m. — When we get home, there is a tasty dinner waiting for us: a gargantuan platter of spaghetti prepared by D.'s father and grandmother, accompanied by salad and garlic bread. I eat a modest portion, because we have plans to eat and drink at our favorite brewery later this evening.
7:30 p.m. — We take the scenic drive up to Short's Brewing Company, and it is packed inside. There is a 20-minute wait, so we all peruse the gift shop. A friend of mine from high school is working at the gift shop, and we chat for a while (cue the "It's a Small World After All" song). We get seated and order four flights of beers, a mushroom pizza, a sausage-and-veggie pizza, followed by three pints of our favorite beers and a chocolate chip cookie. I offer to pay, but D.'s little brother insists on splitting the bill. We hang around and play pool and darts before driving back. I only sipped on a few of the beers from the flights, so I drive. $61
12 a.m. — At the lake house, we play cards until we're too tired to focus and go to bed.
Daily Total: $81

Day Three

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling a little bit groggy from last night. Sadly, I wasn't designed to handle much alcohol and don't often imbibe. I put my running shoes on, let the dog outside, and go for a quick run. Sweating helps me feel a bit better. There are pancakes waiting for me when I get back. I eat a few and go for a swim in the lake with D.
12 p.m. — We all take the boat out to do some skiing. We check out a new shipwreck before another storm moves across the lake.
3:15 p.m. — For our last meal all together, we make hot wings and cook up some zucchini purchased from the farm stand nearby. We laze about on the beach for the next few hours, do a little bit of swimming, and then soak in the hot tub.
6:15 p.m. — After packing up and cleaning the house, we say our goodbyes and begin the drive home. We stop at the first gas station we see and fill up for $25. I pay with cash. We planned to split the drive, but D. ends up driving straight on through back home. $25
10:05 p.m. — We arrive at our apartment and let the dog walk around outside for a bit. We unpack while watching America's Got Talent — we adore Terry Crews — and fall asleep shortly after finishing the episode.
Daily Total: $25

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — Wake up to my phone alarm and let the dog out for a short walk. I pack a lunch of leftover pizza, a pear, and a granola bar. I get dressed comfortably, brush my teeth, kiss my sleeping D. goodbye, and drive to work.
7 a.m. — I arrive at work, and my patient is sleeping. I take full advantage and do prep work for the day before closing my eyes for a bit. She gets up within the hour, smokes, and then goes back to sleep. This pattern continues for the rest of the day.
12:00 p.m. — While she sleeps, I watch the latest episode of The Handmaid's Tale. This season has been so intense.
2:45 p.m. — I eat the pear I packed and a plate of carrots, sweet peppers, and cherry tomatoes that I had left at work. I have the need to eat something sweet after every meal and take a mini Almond Joy out of our bottomless candy jar.
4:30 p.m. — I, the aide, the nanny, and our patient get into her van to go pick up her son. We drive an hour and a half to go get him. I am exhausted by the amount of driving I've endured lately and pass out in the passenger's seat. We stop at a gas station to fill up, and I buy some fancy jerky for D. inside, because he told me he was having a rough time at work. I come back to the van to find my patient smoking while the aide fills up the tank. No! Agh! Somehow none of them were aware that that is a bad and unsafe thing to do. We finish up the drive, and the van reeks of smoke, giving me a headache. $14.99
7:35 p.m. — Eventually we get home, and the night nurse takes over. I drive straight to my ceramics studio to catch the last hour and a half of studio time. Some projects I had been working on were fired and finished, and I'm very happy with how they turned out.
9:15 p.m. — I get home to my dog and D. and make myself a steak, lettuce, and tomato wrap with leftovers given to us by D.'s father. We start the second season of Top of the Lake before going to bed. Elisabeth Moss is such a talent.
Daily Total: $14.99

Day Five

7:20 a.m. — Typical morning consisting of walking the dog, kissing D. goodbye, and packing a lunch. I drive to my clinical nursing job.
8 a.m. — I have patient after patient today and don't sit down once. The other nurse I work with walked out last week while I was on vacation and left the clinic in a bind. Once the patients are all finished, I complete my charting and message my friend from Germany. We make plans to meet in Detroit while she is in town. I last saw her in 2015, and I can't wait to spend time with her. I buy us tickets to the Detroit Institute of Arts and ask my brother if he is free that week to meet up with us. $29.68
2:45 p.m. — I leave work, see a low-tire-pressure light on my dash, and fill up my tires with free air from a nearby tire shop. I eat a few sweet peppers in the car before driving to the pet store down the road. I buy three frozen rats (I'm sorry), one for each of our pet snakes. $17.21
3:20 p.m. — Once I'm home, I grab a pear to eat and walk my dog to the park. When we get back, I give her a piece of leftover steak and make myself a steak, tomato, and pesto wrap.
6 p.m. — I decide to go to the pottery studio to work on a piece for my father's birthday. I end up making him a red clay version of his favorite river fish and make a second one to give to a friend of mine.
8:15 p.m. — I leave the studio and drive to BTB to pick up two vegetarian supreme burritos for D. and me. I put a couple of bucks in the tip jar on my way out the door. I drive back home, change into running clothes, and go for a run before the sun sets. $14.42
9 p.m. — When I get back, D. has two of his friends over to play Magic: The Gathering. I eat my burrito and chat with everyone for a little while before slipping away to sprawl out in bed and watch Bachelor in Paradise. I don't typically watch any shows from this franchise, but it is nice to turn off my brain and watch the drama unfold.
11:20 p.m. — D. joins me in bed and has mac 'n' cheese and pancakes with him (no, I don't understand him either). I fall asleep while messaging a friend/former coworker about the perils of nonprofit work.
Daily Total: $61.31

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — The usual morning routine, with the addition of watering my plants. Most notably, my monstera deliciosa has produced three new leaves in the past week and looks beautiful.
8 a.m. — I work at the clinic today and have another very heavy patient-load day.
12:45 p.m. — My best friend, T., works as the receptionist at the clinic and gives me their lunch because they say it is flavorless. I accept. It's curry and rice made from pouches from Costco, and although it is bland, it is edible and fills me up.
1:30 p.m. — I have a small gap in my schedule between patients, so I use the time to order groceries online. I have a promotional coupon for free delivery on orders over $75. I place an order for delivery and upload digital coupons as I make my selections. I purchase Annie's Goddess Dressing and vegan mac, asparagus, avocado, bananas, broccoli, Daiya mozzarella, oat milk, garlic, coffee, Herdez hot salsa, Brussels sprouts, white rice, red lentils, red potatoes, mango, MorningStar veggie crumbles and chik'n strips, pea crisps, bucatini pasta, cherry tomatoes, tikka masala simmer sauce, spring mix, tomato paste, unsweetened coconut chips, almond milk, skinny pop, strawberries, sorbetto, terra chips, and plantains (estimated total $113.05).
5:30 p.m. — I leave work later than planned and end up missing my last spin class at the gym. My patients got stuck in traffic driving over from Canada and were two hours late. Before leaving work, I find out that one of my beloved patients is going on hospice. I hold it together until I get in my car, and as it rains on my drive home, I cry. I stop and get gas before going home. $27.02
6:45 p.m. — D. took the dog to work with him, so no friendly greeter today. I practice my Spanish on Duolingo for a half hour to prepare for my trip to Nicaragua this winter. I'll be working in a hospital for part of my time there and need to familiarize myself with some useful phrases. I listen/watch the Taco Chronicles on Netflix in the background and heat up a slice of mushroom pizza and eat it while waiting for D. to come home.
7:30 p.m. — My grocery delivery driver texts me that they will be arriving soon. I text my brother about recommendations for entertaining my German friend in Detroit. The groceries get delivered, and I tip the driver with cash — the total after coupons and discounts comes to $83.26. D. arrives and helps unpack the groceries. We put on our gym clothes, grab our laundry, and drive to his father's house. We drop off the dog and a load of laundry, as our machine is out of order at the apartment. We work out at the gym, switch our clothes into the dryer, and then drive downtown. $83.26
9:30 p.m. — We go to Fleetwood and order a tempeh pita for me, a club sandwich with two eggs over-easy on the side for D., and share a basket of fries and a Coke ($29 with tip) — D. pays. We leave, pick up our laundry and dog, then head back home.
1:30 a.m. — After folding laundry and watching a documentary about a weightlifting gym on Netflix, we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $110.28

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — Wake up and snuggle D. for a little while before heading to work. I won't see him until tomorrow night, because I work my clinic job, followed by a 24-hour shift at the home-care job.
9 a.m. — I breeze through the morning and get done with all my patients by noon. Between patients, I clear out my inbox of junk mail and promotional emails (why isn't there a "delete all unread spam" button?). I finish charting, clean up my work space, and organize supplies before leaving.
12:30 p.m. — I move $1,700 from my checking to my savings on my mobile banking app. I drive to the gym and park on the street. On my walk, I see an unattended garage sale with tons of good books laid out. I pick up one by Toni Morrison and another by Margaret Atwood, as well as two more that had attractive covers and themes. There is a money jar and a Venmo sign with the seller's name. I have no cash, so I download Venmo and send them money for the four books. $4
12:45 p.m. — After dropping off my new purchases in the car, I walk to the gym. I complete a stair-climber routine, where I climb the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Statue of Liberty. I follow this up with a half-mile treadmill run and a weight-lifting circuit.
2:30 p.m. — I get home, walk the dog, and pick more cherry tomatoes from my very dead-looking plant. After preparing food for my snakes (I'll spare you the details), I heat up some of D.'s leftover stir-fry. I eat it with a handful of the tomatoes.
3 p.m. — There are a few more hours until I have to go into work, so I shower, do a face mask, and then give myself a self breast exam (do this once a month at the same time during your cycle — it doesn't take long). In an attempt to relax, I find myself cleaning the apartment and preparing food before I am able to fall asleep.
5 p.m. — Up from my brief nap, I decide to take the dog with me to go see D. at work. On the way there, I stop in at a cash-for-gold establishment and sell some old jewelry. The woman pays me in fives, and I end up with a few hundred dollars. I stop at D.'s job, where we hang out and ride bikes for a little while. I leave the dog with him and say goodbye.
7 p.m. — I get to work, and it's business as usual. I make myself a salad with spring mix, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. I sit outside for a little while, reading my book before my patient goes to bed.
11 p.m. — My patient goes to bed. I read and lie down. She is up throughout the night, and I don't rest much. I am exhausted and hope to catch a nap tomorrow!
Daily Total: $4
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