A Week In Kalamazoo, MI On A $84,738 Salary

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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: an associate professor who makes $84,738 per year and spends some of her money this week on a stout.
Occupation: Associate Professor
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 38
Location: Kalamazoo, MI
Salary: $84,738 + ~ $20,000 from my consulting side job
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,391.05
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $930 (I live with my dog.)
Car Loan: $438.08 (three years left)
Student Loan: $516 (Supposedly two years left on PSLF)
403(b): $1,109.86 (for nine months a year and in addition to my regular pay — ~$83,000 in my account)
HSA (pre-tax for 12 months): $100 (~$3,500)
Dental/Vision (pre-tax for nine months): $9.38
457(b) (post-tax for 12 months): $138.74 (this account is new; ~$500)
Car Insurance: $137.87
CSA (Community-supported agriculture share): $100
Newspapers (local, WaPo, NYT): $21.07
Home Service Contract: $14.99 (this gives me priority service, routine maintenance on electric, water, heat, cooling, and a 15% discount on all other work. I have an old house, so the discounts are always more than I pay yearly.)
Gym: $69
Netflix: $8.99 (I share with friends, and they give me Hulu)
Amazon Music: $7.99
Biweekly House Cleaning: ~$150
Phone/Cable/Internet: $240
Utilities: $170 (this month, but depends on the season)
Specific Savings: $250 for property taxes and insurance (see below)
Yearly expenses:
Shipt: $99
Amazon Prime: $119
Homeowners Insurance: $599
Property Taxes: $2,006.87
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Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up before my 9 a.m. alarm and lay in bed checking my email and reading the internet. I love days when I wake up before my alarm because it feels like I start the day out on the right foot. I have some fires to put out with my consulting side gig, so I send off a couple of emails and then get myself out of bed. I feed the dog and take her out and then settle in to do about an hour or so of work. I have a green smoothie (spinach, coconut milk, frozen banana, and a tablespoon of peanut butter) and a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. I take a quick shower and put on some dark wash skinny jeans, a striped sweater, and my snow boots (#westmichigan).
11 a.m. — I have my weekly therapy appointment. I have no history of mental health issues and I'd never seen a therapist before, but I've recently been going through a hard time — several months of depression/anxiety, my (ex) boyfriend unexpectedly broke up with me which surprised me and dredged up some issues that I thought I had buried — perpetual body image issues, two past sexual assaults....anyway. Having a therapist is amazing. I feel like she is already helping me and I've only just started going. I wish I would have seen someone sooner. Like, 10 years ago. It's $75, but I pay with my HSA. I have a high deductible plan and unfortunately, she's out of network, so even when I reach my out-of-network deductible ($4,000), I'll still have to pay 20%. It took two different phone calls to figure this out because health insurance in the US is dumb and confusing.
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12:15 p.m. — I stop at my new bank. I recently refinanced my house through it. I was able to lower my interest rate, get rid of PMI, knock seven years off of my loan, and take out some extra to pay for a personal loan I had for renovations for the house — all without drastically increasing my monthly payment. However, the bank has been kind of a nightmare to deal with and it feels like each hand does not know what the other is doing. They never sent me a debit card so I couldn't set up online banking and the people I called said I needed to stop into a branch to get everything straightened out. I get my debit card and talk to my loan officer about when the funds are going to be disbursed (tonight) and when my first payment on my new mortgage will be due (March). I have to pay for parking. $1.05
1 p.m. — I get home and have some lunch. I made my own veggie burgers Sunday, so I reheat one of those for lunch with cheese, ketchup, mustard and some spinach on a brioche bun. I also get a curried coconut and butternut squash soup going in the crockpot for dinner this evening. Then I settle in to work on my consulting project.
6 p.m. — I have a half bowl of my coconut curry soup and a hard-boiled egg while I continue to work.
8 p.m. — I meet my friend for a class at our gym. It's my least favorite instructor because I think his classes are too easy but at least it means I work out really hard?
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9:30 p.m. — Back home. I shower and have the other half bowl of soup and work for another hour and a half. Then I wind down (contacts out, brush teeth, wash face with Fresh Soy cleanser, and lay out my clothes for tomorrow) and try to sleep but I toss and turn until 1:30 a.m., largely mulling over things my therapist said.
Daily Total: $1.05

Day Two

9 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up today. I internet a little (read the news, check my personal email) and then get up and get dressed. I don't like the shirt I laid out last night and I never wear it, so I add it to my Poshmark pile and pick another shirt. Lately, I've been trying to really take Marie Kondo's advice to heart and only keep things that spark joy. Today, it's the same dark wash skinny jeans as yesterday, a grey shirt that I got probably 10 years ago at the Gap, a long beige cardigan, and brown suede booties. I take my dog out, pack my lunch, and head to work.
12 p.m. — I go to a faculty meeting, which is usually the lowlight of my week. When I get back to my office, I have a notification from Delta that my missing item has not been found and my claim has expired. I left my Kindle in the seat pocket on an airplane a few weeks ago and I had hoped that it might make its way back to me, but I guess no one turned it in. I order a new Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon with a cover. It is $104.82, but I pay with a gift card from Christmas and some Discover cashback points. I also take care of a few other financial matters — setting up my new online banking, filing my taxes (which I had completed previously, I was just waiting for filing to open), and submitting some paperwork to FedLoan so that my IBR payments could be recalculated. I have another leftover veggie burger for lunch.
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2:30 p.m. — I teach a class and then I head to my office hours. These office hours are a little bit different since they are for a student organization where I am an adviser. I brought a KIND bar to have as a snack, but the chips and candy bowl seduce me and I have some Fritos and an M&Ms fun pack. Every week I say that I will not succumb, and then every week I do. I also get a soda from the vending machine. $1.50
8 p.m. — I meet my friend for another class at our gym. This one is SO much better than Monday night! I feel pumped. I drive home, immediately take my dog out, and then take a shower. Normally, I drop my dog off at a friend's place on Tuesdays since I have a long day but she couldn't take my puppy today. I give her lots and lots of snuggles and promise that this won't be the norm. I text with my ex-boyfriend for a little bit and as usual, he makes me feel bad and I know I need to quit him. I have a bowl of curried butternut squash soup and then I marathon three episodes of The Good Place and head to bed. I am asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $1.50

Day Three

9 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up again today. I have personal training sessions on Wednesday mornings so I get up, toss on my work out clothes, and take the dog out. I have trouble working out when I've eaten a lot, so I just have a string cheese and some coffee. I buy my personal training sessions either 12 or 24 sessions at a time, depending on whatever promotions might be happening. I'm not going to lie, this is an enormous expense and it usually works out to about $55 per hour-long session. I know this probably seems insane, but about two years ago, I decided to literally change my entire life and make myself and my fitness a #1 priority. I'm not a person who self-motivates very well and I am at my best when there are other people on my "team" pushing me to be better, so this works for me. My personal trainer and my therapist are both helping me get to the best possible version of myself, even if right now I am a serious work in progress.
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11 a.m. — I have an amazing session and head home. I shower and have lunch — baked sweet potatoes topped with avocado, goat cheese, and homemade pickled onions. I also have my groceries delivered from Shipt. I get shredded cheese, sliced Colby Jack, taco sauce, a 12-pack of grapefruit sparkling water, sour cream, white balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, corn tortillas, a two-pound bag of limes, two dozen eggs, eight avocados (on sale!!!), black beans, and milk. It comes to $51.13 with the tip. I spend most of the afternoon working on revisions to a manuscript. $51.13
4 p.m. — I have kind of a weird evening ahead of me with two late afternoon/evening events at work, followed by a date, so I go ahead and have an early "dinner" of one of my veggie burgers. I get dressed to leave the house in Madewell skinny jeans, navy blue knit v-neck from Everlane, and the same long beige cardigan and booties. I also do full makeup since I have the date later (normally, I don't really bother). Then I head out to pick up my CSA for the week. I get butternut squash, onions, sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, cilantro, pea shoots, and kale. I drop my CSA back at my house and then head to campus for my events.
5 p.m. — There are appetizers at the first event (a faculty forum), so I have three buffalo chicken strips and two cookies. Dinner/snack of champions? Then I head to my second event, an undergraduate majors fair.
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7:30 p.m. — I leave campus for my date at a brewery. We have three rounds (I pay for one, he pays for two). For about the first beer and a half, I am enjoying myself, but then the conversation starts to go off the rails and I see his true colors. After he mansplains to me my own area of expertise, I ask the bartender for my tab. He walks me to my car and then insinuates that I should go home with him. I laugh and politely decline because I have to work tomorrow. He then goes in for a kiss and feels me up and I am so very uncomfortable. So yeah. Good times. I get home, get ready for bed, and text with my ex-boyfriend until 2 a.m. because I am a glutton for punishment. We mostly talk about him because that is what we always talk about, so I guess everyone is getting what they want from me tonight. The date guy texts me and asks for a second date. I do not respond and block him. $12
Daily Total: $63.13

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up for the third day in a row. I take my dog out then come home and get ready for work. Today I am wearing Madewell skinny jeans, a forest green loose-fitting t-shirt, a different beige cardigan, and the same brown suede booties. Vogue, here I come. I have two hard-boiled eggs and coffee for breakfast, pack my lunch, and head out the door.
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11 a.m. — I have a couple of hours of office hours this morning on campus followed by yet another faculty meeting. Everyone is expecting it to be a contentious meeting and it is not, so that is a pleasant surprise. I head back to my office and jump on a conference call. I don't have to talk much during the call, so I put my phone on mute and eat my lunch — more veggie burger (I will be glad when the last serving of these is consumed). After that, I teach my class. Normally, I would do a couple more office hours this evening, but my class took an exam so I don't think anyone is going to be knocking on my door. I post a notice on Blackboard that my office hours are canceled and head home.
6:30 p.m. — I was supposed to go on a second date tonight with a guy I was really excited about, but he texts to cancel citing "illness." Is this true? Is it a lie? I hate online dating. But I'm not one to sit home and some friends from my book club are also going out tonight so I send a message to our group text and say I'll be able to come after all. We go to a local brewery and it's good to catch up with everyone. At the end of the night, one of my friends asks how things are going with my love life and I sort of lose it a little. I think I'm more upset about the end of Wednesday night's date than I realized in that moment. My friends are all so amazing and offer support and useful advice and commiseration. It makes me sad when I hear other women talk about how they can't be friends with women because my female friendships are some of the most rewarding relationships in my life. I have a grilled chicken salad but decline to drink tonight, so my bill is cheap. $20.67
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9:30 p.m. — I am home. I snuggle the dog, change into my PJs, and settle in to catch up on this week's Project Runway. I am in bed by 11:30 p.m., asleep by midnight.
Daily Total: $20.67

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm! I lay in bed and internet a bit before I get up and get ready for the day. I take the dog out and work from home for a few hours grading exams. I basically skip breakfast and then have an early lunch of the butternut squash soup and two hardboiled eggs. My refinance funds have been deposited in my account so I call my personal loan provider to pay off my loan. I miscalculated my refinance request, so there wasn't quite enough to cover the entire payoff balance of the loan out of my refinance funds, but I have the money in my account to pay it off in full anyway. $392.65
2 p.m. — I shower and put on a long-sleeved black cowl neck dress, leggings, Stuart Weitzman knee-high boots, and an oversized blue marled cardigan, and drive to campus for a meeting. Everyone loves a Friday afternoon committee meeting, right? After the meeting, I meet a group of my friends/colleagues at a restaurant because we are celebrating a friend's tenure decision! I split an appetizer of calamari and have a bowl of mushroom carbonara and two glasses of red wine. I split the cost of my friend's meal with one of the other members of the group. She deserves it for all the hard work she has done. Plus, she's always been a good friend to me so I'm more than happy to do a little something for her. $63.77
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9 p.m. — Four of us wander across the street to a brewery (yes, this is the third brewery I've been to this week) for a couple more. I have two stouts. $13.66
11:30 p.m. — I go home, but I'm still a little keyed up so I watch an episode of The Good Place and send some introductory messages on Bumble before I go to bed.
Daily Total: $470.08

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and internet in bed a bit. I check Facebook and I see that a friend is doing a fundraiser for her birthday benefiting under-represented groups in STEM fields. I believe strongly in that mission so I go ahead and donate — diversity of people means diversity of ideas! Then I get up, take my dog out, and have coffee and a KIND bar for breakfast. $20
10 a.m. — I relax for a couple of hours before jumping in the shower and getting ready for my lunch date. I wear light wash skinny jeans, a navy tank top with a maroon deep v-neck sweater, and snow boots and do some light make up. It's one of my "I'm trying to look like I'm not trying" looks.
1 p.m. — I meet my date at a local restaurant. He is shorter than I expected but really cute, so I am trying to keep an open mind (#tallgirlproblems). We have a really good conversation and he's super easy to talk to and really respectful, which I appreciated a lot after Wednesday night's jerk. We each pay for our own checks (my choice — the question of who pays is always so awkward!). He walks me to my car, gives me a hug, and says he would like to go out again, his treat. He seems like he's got some unresolved issues with his ex, but we talked for three hours straight and I am seriously considering the second date — even if he is two inches shorter than I am. $20.40
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4:30 p.m. — I get home and immediately jump on a conference call about this consulting project I've been working on. Looks like I've got a bunch more work ahead of me for our next meeting with the client on Monday. I try to keep in mind all the money I'm going to make on this one project (it's looking close to ~$20,000) but I'm not excited to work for the next few hours on this project on a Saturday.
7:30 p.m. — I'm not really that hungry for dinner, so I just snack a little bit on some string cheese and a KIND bar. I watch a couple of episodes of The Good Place and waste untold hours on the internet. (Seriously, I have no idea what I did all night). I go to bed around 11:30.
Daily Total: $40.40

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — Wake up and internet for a little while. I eventually roll out of bed, throw on some athleisure-wear and have two hard-boiled eggs and some coffee for breakfast. At 11, I have to jump on a conference call. I know, it's Sunday! But here we are. The call takes two and a half hours and I die a little inside. While I am on the call, Thursday guy texts me and says that he is finally feeling better, so perhaps he actually was sick? He still hasn't suggested another time for the date that he canceled, but I am reserving judgment.
1:30 p.m. — It's 50 degrees out in West Michigan in February, so I put on my running clothes, cue up some Lizzo, and do an easy five miles around the neighborhood. It feels good to run outside in the wintertime without wearing 18 layers. When I get back, I have fridge salad for lunch — the last of my baked sweet potatoes with some pea shoots, avocado, goat cheese, pickled onions, and some balsamic. I shower and take care of some of the tasks I need to accomplish from my conference call.
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5:30 p.m. — I decide to start dinner — black bean and squash enchiladas. The recipe calls for butternut squash but I've got tons of delicata squash in my fridge from the last couple weeks of my CSA. You don't have to peel delicata squash so laziness wins the day. The tortillas kind of fall apart so the enchiladas turn out more like a casserole but it tastes good and that's what counts. Saturday afternoon guy texts me asking about another date and I cautiously agree. He suggests one of my favorite places for a date on Wednesday evening and when I tell him I love that place, he responds that he suggested it because he remembered I said that. So. Maybe two inches shorter than me isn't a big deal? Ugh, why is height my only physical appearance hang up?
6:00 p.m. — My ex-boyfriend texts to ask if I am watching the Super Bowl and we decide to watch together virtually. I don't really care that much about football but he loves it and I've watched so much this season that not watching the Super Bowl would feel like skipping the season finale of a TV series. We synch our TVs and keep up a running commentary. J.Lo and Shakira are #goals — if I can shake it half as well as J.Lo when I am 50, I'll be ecstatic. Towards the end of the game, my ex gets a little distant and then abruptly says he is off to bed. I feel like something is weird but I seriously cannot emotionally invest in his bullshit right now. He has said that he wants to be friends and I am trying my best and not getting much (read: anything) in return. Quit him, quit him, quit him.
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10:30 p.m. — I watch the penultimate episode of The Good Place and then get ready for bed. I pick out my favorite v-neck sweater dress for Monday, set my alarm, and drift off to sleep. Tomorrow starts another week.
Daily Total: $0
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