A Week In Atlanta, GA, On A $57,000 Salary

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Today: an associate producer working in digital media who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on iced coffee.
Occupation: Associate Producer
Industry: Digital Media
Age: 25
Location: Atlanta, GA
Salary: $57,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,600
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $900 (I share a two-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and we split rent evenly.)
Student Loan Payment: $100 (The minimum payment is something like $50, but I try to pay at least $100 a month.)
Electric: $100
Water: $25
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $48.75, deducted from my paycheck
HSA Contribution: $20 from each paycheck. (My employer also puts $750 into my HSA account each year.)
Car Insurance: $120
Gas: $75
AMC Stubs A-List: $21
Spotify: $10
Netflix, Hulu & HBO: $0 (Thanks, Mom!)
Cell Phone: $0 (Again — thanks, Mom!)
401(k): $144 (This comes out of each paycheck pre-tax. My employer matches 100% of what I contribute, up to 5% of my salary.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Waking up this early on a Saturday should be illegal. My alarm actually wakes up my boyfriend, D., before it wakes me up. He jumps up and starts shaking me awake. I feel bad since he doesn't have to wake up — just I do. I rush out of bed, make myself a protein waffle and mix some cold brew with half of a protein shake, and head out the door to work.
10 a.m. — It's been a very slow Saturday at work. I work in digital journalism, and hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute can be very different every single day. I'm thankful for a slower day when I can get one. I use a little of the downtime to research the best travel-rewards card. I've been looking for something that'll earn me lots of points to put toward hotels, specifically for a big trip my boyfriend and I are taking to Spain later this year. I settle on the Capital One Venture card and apply. This is my second credit card ever, and it feels like another big step into adulthood.
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11:45 a.m. — I normally pack a lunch, but I didn't have time to make anything today and probably didn't have much left to bring to work anyway. Plus, working on Saturdays sucks, and treating myself to takeout lunch is a nice way to make it suck less. I have a $3 coupon for Fresh To Order, so I order a salmon panini and an Asian side salad on my phone. I run quickly down to the food court and try to space out eating over the rest of my shift. $11.51
5:30 p.m. — Home sweet home, and now my weekend has officially begun! My lunch didn't fill me up as much as I would have liked, and since we're going out drinking tonight, I decide to make a quick omelet using some leftover roasted zucchini and tomatoes. I toast up a British-style crumpet from Trader Joe's and top it all with some Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Perfect base for a few beers later.
8 p.m. — I offer to pay for the Lyft to the bar, and D. says he will cover my drinks for the night, since we're going out to celebrate his friend's birthday. While we're in the car on the way there, we see on Instagram that one of our other friends who will be coming out tonight actually proposed to his girlfriend today. So much to celebrate this evening. $10.66
11:30 p.m. — After a few beers at a few different bars, the group is making a move to the next spot, but D. seems ready to go, so we say our goodbyes. I call the Lyft home. $11.62
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12 a.m. — We shower as soon as we get home because we've spent most of the night at bars that allow indoor smoking. D. and I don't smoke cigarettes, but most of his friends do, so we're used to it. After we shower, D. toasts up some frozen naan to soak up all the booze in our bellies and we drink some Sleepytime tea before passing out. It's been a long day, but we still snuggle for a few minutes before drifting off. We've been living together for a few months now and have been dating for more than three years, and in that time we've never gone to bed without a proper pre-sleep spooning session. No matter what.
Daily Total: $33.79

Day Two

10 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I feel rough. Who knew three drinks could make me feel so queasy. D. wakes up a little after I do, and we cuddle for a bit before hopping to it. We've got lots of plans for our Sunday together. Since I work Saturdays, it's our only full day together every week. Today we have big plans to hit up the farmer's market and cook a nice meal.
11:45 a.m. — We stop at my favorite biscuit shop on the way to the market. We order half a dozen biscuits to share in a variety of flavors and two iced coffees. I pay, since D. is driving us around today. We sit outside and watch all the puppies and families walk by. I really love this neighborhood and wish we could afford to buy a house nearby. $20.31
12:45 p.m. — We thought we'd beat the Sunday crowd to the market, but we thought wrong. The Dekalb farmer's market is like a supermarket but with all farm-fresh ingredients. We buy fresh pasta, tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, and garlic for dinner tonight. We buy a whole chicken for roasting, chicken breasts, bread, eggs, pineapple, grapefruit, cucumbers, Serrano peppers, pickling seasoning, dill, buttermilk, butter, basil, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, onions, and dark brown sugar for the rest of the week. Snow is forecasted for Atlanta, so we're stocking up just in case. We split the cost. $39.63
1:45 p.m. — Quick stop at Family Dollar for some household items on the way home. I feel like adulthood/living with a significant other is basically just managing a never-ending list of “shit we need for the house.” I run in and pick up shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, sponges, and some hair gel. I foot the bill for this one. I make more money than D. does and have less student-loan debt, so I step up and pay for some of the smaller stuff when I can. $35.75
2:30 p.m. — Back home earlier than expected. We unload all the goods, and I cut up my pineapple into chunks and snack on about one fifth of it. Pineapple with a pinch of salt is a trick my abuela taught me when I was a kid, and it's one of my favorite treats. D. messes around on GarageBand in our spare room/his office/our guest room while I watch HGTV. It's nice that we're able to spend a little time apart after a somewhat stressful supermarket trip.
3:30 p.m. — D. decides to pickle the cucumbers he bought, since he has the time now. I salt the whole chicken we bought and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes before marinating it in a plastic bag with buttermilk. We're trying this recipe from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, and it's our first time ever roasting a chicken, so I'm a little nervous. But the recipe seems easy enough.
5 p.m. — Once our meal prep is out of the way, I get started on making the tomato sauce and boiling water for the pasta. I combine the sauce with chopped basil and fresh mozzarella and let it sit and absorb all together for a little bit. It tastes incredible. The best part: There's enough for leftovers!
8 p.m. — I start updating our shared calendar for the week ahead. We decide to see a movie and have a little date night this coming weekend. We book our tickets through the AMC app for Saturday night but pay nothing since we're members.
11:30 p.m. — After a relaxing night of Netflix, the internet successfully sucks me in and I end up ordering two turtlenecks and a black cardigan from H&M. D. shrank my favorite turtleneck the other day, and I finally think I've found something I can love again, so I try not to feel too guilty about this purchase. I finally join D. in bed and we snuggle for a minute before dozing off. $45.17
Daily Total: $140.86

Day Three

9:45 a.m. — Mondays are my off days, so after D. wakes up and heads to work, I usually lie around in bed scrolling through Instagram until I'm ready to eat. I shoot off a few quick texts wishing my best friend a happy birthday. She lives in NYC, and I really miss being able to spend our birthdays together. One of my other best friends and I sent her a cookbook and some cooking gear for her birthday, and I forgot to mail him a check for my half. (I stopped using Venmo a while ago, after my account got hacked.) Checks are a pain, but it's also an excuse to send a friend a card. I write the card and check before making myself green tea and smoked salmon on sourdough toast for breakfast. $30
1 p.m. — After a morning of dealing with some emails for work (on my off day, hooray), I finally get around to filing my taxes, vacuuming my apartment, and unloading the dishwasher. I filed online with TurboTax and payed for their help with my state refund and my student loan interest deduction. My credit card has an offer for $15 back when I pay for TurboTax, so it costs me $79.98 now, but I'll get money off later. $79.98
3 p.m. — I was planning on going to the movies by myself this afternoon, but I've lost my motivation. We're supposed to get snow tomorrow, but it's a sunny 60 degrees today, so I go for a walk on the trail near my apartment. It's such a luxury living so close to such a pretty wilderness area while still being in the city. Before I go, I take out the whole chicken I'll be roasting later so it can come to room temperature.
6:30 p.m. — Chicken took a little longer than expected, but it is delicious and a unanimous win. We will for sure make it again.
9 p.m. — D. is headed out to a show tonight with some buds, so I watch the Fyre Festival documentary on Hulu. I've been totally riveted by this crazy story. Since it's going to snow tomorrow, I'll be working from home instead of driving in, which means I can sleep a little later. Yay! I head to bed around 11:30 and pass out before D. makes it back home. Boring but peaceful Monday off.
Daily Total: $109.98

Day Four

8 a.m. — Got to sleep in about an hour later than usual, but I'm still super tired. D. is working from home today, too, so he gets coffee going in the French press while I log on and start my day. My work day is usually a little more busy than his, so he can get a slower start while I have to dive right into it.
11 a.m. — Not a single snowflake has fallen, and the chance of snow has come and gone. All that for nothing. We're such big babies when it comes to snow in Atlanta. The morning has totally flown by, and before we know it, we've killed all the coffee and D. and I are both ravenous. He makes a sandwich, and I opt for a smoked salmon omelet with some fresh dill left over from D.'s pickling supplies, served with a nice piece of sourdough toast. I feel like I'm dining in France. I also cut up a grapefruit to have as a side. Can't remember the last time I made myself such a full breakfast. Man, I love working from home.
3 p.m. — We take advantage of spending the day at home and run a few loads of laundry. My work day has been consistently busy all day long, so D. has done most of the laundry and folding, and I feel really bad.
5 p.m. — D. finishes up his work early and runs to the store to get some supplies for cookies we want to make — Bon Appétit's brown-butter-toffee cookies, another fancy recipe we tried out a while ago and have been obsessed with ever since. He also picks up a bunch of things we need for our place like dish soap, tea, laundry detergent, and chips and dip for the Super Bowl. I send him some money via my bank app for my half. $36
7 p.m. — I reheat leftover chicken and veggies in the oven for our dinner while the cookie-dough batter rests. D. bakes the first sheet tray of cookies, and before they're even cool, I box some up to take them to two good friends of mine who live in my building. I chit-chat and catch up with both for a little bit. By the time I'm back, D. has finished baking and completely cleaned the kitchen. Is he a keeper or what?
10:30 p.m. — I snack on one cookie because I can't resist. Then I make some quick tuna salad to bring to work for lunch tomorrow. I'm strict about allowing myself only one day a week where I buy lunch from our cafeteria. There are so many tempting options all around, and I try hard to keep it as a treat for myself. Then it's to bed early tonight, as we're both headed into our offices tomorrow. Begrudgingly.
Daily Total: $36

Day Five

7 a.m. — First alarm goes off, but I don't manage to drag myself out of bed until about 7:30 a.m. The struggle is so real. D. and I dance around each other getting ready. The Super Bowl is in Atlanta this year, and it's just days away. While I'd normally be able to leave the apartment half an hour after D., today I have to leave at about the same time as him to account for Super Bowl traffic.
11 a.m. — So many people are working from home this week, since no one wants to bother with the huge influx of people in the area and increased traffic. But I'm glad I came in, because I get to wow the few people who also came in with my cookies, and I get some good one-on-one time with one of our senior producers.
4:30 p.m. — Work never got super busy today, but it's especially slow now, so I log onto my apartment resident portal and prepay my half of the rent since it's due in two days.
6:30 p.m. — Commuting home was easier than expected, and D. has gotten dinner started already. On tonight's menu: shallot roasted asparagus and lemon pepper chicken breast. Can you tell we like chicken? Score! There's enough leftovers for us to each bring lunch to work tomorrow.
8 p.m. — We smoke on the patio before watching a few episodes of The Great British Baking Show and snacking on some of our homemade cookies. Man, this is our best batch ever.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Make my usual protein shake and cold-brew coffee mix and a protein waffle while getting ready. Out the door earlier than normal to account for Super Bowl traffic. Gah, this week feels endless.
10 a.m. — Tickets go on sale for a show D. and I want to see next month. It's Better Oblivion Community Center — Conor Oberst and Phoebe Bridgers's new band. I buy two tickets and D. sends me $32 to cover his. $32
12 p.m. — I'd say 70% of my team is working from home. It almost feels like a weekend. News happens and we keep busy, but the day is flying by.
2 p.m. — The morning crew has headed out, and now the entire evening crew is logging on from home. I'm practically all alone and dreading the traffic home. A teammate suggests I take a quick break to commute home before things get bad. I sit in on our afternoon news meeting and then make my swift exit.
5:30 p.m. — Wrapping up my day from home was so the right move. I end up working almost half an hour late, but I don't mind because I got to take half an hour to drive home earlier.
6:30 p.m. — D. and I had planned on cooking dinner tonight, but I'm not really into that idea anymore. I suggest sushi and he agrees, begrudgingly. (Sushi is my favorite, but he doesn't love it.) We're both really hungry by now, though, and it's close by, so we get in my car and make our way there.
7 p.m. — Unpopular opinion: children should be seen, not heard. Our neighborhood sushi spot is overrun with a group of about four kids dancing, playing music, singing, and essentially running wild. Where are their parents?? D. and I each order a few rolls, and we don't linger after we finish eating. We both feel better having eaten, but we have headaches from trying to talk to each other over that chaos inside that restaurant. $26.14
10 p.m. — I drink tea while D. and I both read and scroll through social media on the couch, and then it's off to bed. It's an early night for me because I've got a 5 a.m. wake-up call tomorrow since I'm working the morning shift. I've decided I'm done even trying to drive into work, and I'll be joining the rest of my team in working from home for the rest of the week. Looking forward to staying in PJs all day.
Daily Total: $58.14

Day Seven

5 a.m. — First alarm goes off, and I'm very confused. I've worked the 6 a.m. shift a few times, but it's always tough. I snooze until 5:30 a.m. and then drag myself out of bed as quietly as possible so as not to wake D. He still has two more hours of sleep before he has to wake up and go to work. I'm very jealous, but I tiptoe around our apartment, making some coffee and getting set up at my desk in our living room.
9 a.m. — Three conference calls and three cups of coffee later, I'm wired and ravenous. I boil some water and toast a piece of sourdough for my avocado toast and soft-boiled egg breakfast. It hits the spot.
12:30 p.m. — D. texts me asking if I want him to pick up pizza on his way home from work. I know we shouldn't spend the money, but I can't resist. I say yes and send him $10 via bank app to cover my half. $10
2:30 p.m. — I've wrapped up my work-from-home day, so I call my mom to catch up while I cut up a grapefruit for a snack. It's such a bitter fruit, but I feel like I might be getting a cold and think the citrus may help.
3:30 p.m. — I debate taking a nap, but decide against it so I can get to bed early since I've got another 6 a.m. shift tomorrow. I decide to watch Abducted in Plain Sight instead. I know it will haunt my dreams for weeks, but I can't help it, I'm so curious.
5:30 p.m. — D. arrives home with pizza in hand just as the documentary is ending. Perfect timing. We have a low-key evening at home of binge-watching this British TV show we recently got into called Travel Man. In the show, the host/comedian travels to a new city with a different celebrity in each episode. It's really funny and interesting and fuels my desire to travel even more.
9:30 p.m. — We take a break from the show and D. initiates...my period is coming this weekend, so I'm glad that we get to enjoy each other a little bit before it arrives.
11 p.m. — In bed later than I'd like. I'll be paying for it tomorrow, but oh well, this was a chill Friday night. I can't regret it too much. D. and I snuggle in bed for a good while before we untangle and start to sleep.
Daily Total: $10
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