A Week In Baltimore, MD, On A $53,500 Salary

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Today: a Health Educator working in Public Health who makes $53,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on a graduation card.
Occupation: Health Educator
Industry: Public Health
Age: 28
Location: Baltimore, MD
Salary: $53,500, plus $11/hour for my marching band side hustle (this adds up to about $2,500 per year, mostly in the fall)
Paycheck Amount (Every two weeks for full-time job, 2x/month for band): $1,386 (FT job), plus $60-$250 twice per month for band May-December
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $550 for a rowhouse with two roommates, including utilities (this will be increasing to $1,050 soon when I move into a one-bedroom nearby)
Student Loans: $350 (This is for my master's degree. My parents paid for undergrad, and I know that's a huge privilege.)
Spotify/Hulu: $9.99
ClassPass Lite: $10
Roth IRA: $100
Work Retirement Account: $312 taken out of my paychecks pre-tax (it's a local government pension plan, but functions like a 401k if I leave before I'm vested)
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $119.42
FSA: $10
Car Insurance: I'm still on my family's car insurance and cell phone plans and my parents don't ask me to pay, but when my current car and cell phone need to be replaced I'll be on my own.
Cell Phone: See above
Donations: I have a goal of donating 10% of my salary (about $450 per month) through a combination of money, time, and physical donations. I don't meet this every month, but it's something I'm working toward.
Personal Savings: varies, but usually $800-$900.

Day One

10:45 a.m. — Happy Saturday! After a lazy morning of peanut butter toast, snuggles with my roommate's cat, and staring at my phone for too long, I put on running clothes and do a quick half-mile jog (tbh my distance limit right now) to my friends' house for crafting time! I'm third-wheeling with them at a nerdy fundraiser/beer release party tonight and we're making some on-theme t-shirts. I made the designs and my friends bought the iron-on supplies. They don't want me to pay them back, so I'll try to buy them both a drink at the party later.
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1:30 p.m. — Back home I heat up leftovers for lunch, bake cookies and tortilla chips, watch Fixer Upper and nap on the couch until I'm running behind, and then shower and run around getting ready for the party.
7:45 p.m. — Lyft with friends to the party (they pay). We get our free pint glasses, taste the newly released beer (it's a sour - my favorite!), play games, and admire other people's costumes (it's sustainability/trash-themed). We get lots of compliments on the t-shirts! I get a pesto grilled cheese from a food truck ($8) and a couple more sour beers. Turns out the event is open bar, so I leave a $10 tip for the three of us. $18
10:15 p.m. — I pay for a lyft back to our neighborhood ($11.86 including tip). When I get home, I watch the new episode of SNL on the couch with the roommate's cat, some cookies, and a big glass of water. Bedtime once the show ends at 1 a.m. (I'm getting old — it used to be easier to stay awake until the end!). $11.86
Daily Total: $29.86

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up dehydrated and a little anxious this morning. I make a note to look for hangover/anxiety patterns in the future. I haven't noticed this about my body before, but I think I may be on to something. I take some time to relax before starting the day. My roommate is traveling, so I feed her cat, then eat a quick breakfast before heading out to volunteer.
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2 p.m. — All done with my volunteering shift and feeling much better! I helped with setup and cleanup at a fundraiser for an organization that delivers free meals to people living with HIV and other chronic diseases. As a public health nerd, this cause is really important to me and I try to help whenever they need a hand. Oh, and they had DELICIOUS cheeseburgers left over — I almost never eat red meat these days, but I couldn't let it go to waste, right?
3:30 p.m. — Call my mom to wish her a Happy Mothers' Day!
7 p.m. — Eat leftovers (black bean/sweet potato tacos with avocado) for dinner while watching 60 Minutes (yes I'm 80 years old). I take some soup out of the freezer for lunch tomorrow, watch Hulu and YouTube for a while, and stay up a little too late making vegan breakfast cookies for the week.
11:30 p.m. — Finally time for my bedtime routine. I take out my contacts, brush my teeth, brush again with a whitening booster, wash my face with a charcoal soap bar from the farmers' market, and moisturize with a free sample of Drunk Elephant Protini Cream (it's great, but I don't think I can justify the price when this sample runs out). Then I do some Duolingo lessons, meditate using the Headspace free version, read a few pages of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and write out the best and worst moments of my day, as well as some things I'm grateful for. It seems like a lot written out like that, but for me it's worth it! Since I started being more disciplined about this routine a couple months ago, I've felt happier and more grounded.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:40 a.m. — After two snoozes, I'm up. I snuggle with my (still traveling) roommate's cat (she's so cute!), put on work clothes, brush my teeth, wash my face, put my contacts in and a little makeup on (tinted sunscreen/moisturizer, brow filler, eyeliner, and mascara). Then I pack up my lunch and head to the car at 8:15.
8:33 a.m. — Aaallllmost on time for work. It's pretty quiet this morning, so I check my email, add some things to my personal planner, and make a grocery list while eating the breakfast cookies I made last night.
1 p.m. — After I teach a short training in the office, it's lunchtime! Today I eat the leftover soup from home at my desk while reading some news articles saved to my kindle. For dessert, cake! It's from an office birthday celebration last week, but no complaints here.
4:30 p.m. — After work, I head to Trader Joe's. My weeknights are busy this week, so I get some easy meals. I end up with butternut squash ravioli, mayonnaise, baked beans, cauliflower latkes, frozen butter chicken with rice, frozen vegetable biryani, fresh Brussels sprouts, a loaf of bread, naan, and some (new?) egg fritata things that look delicious. $30.50
6 p.m. — I roast the Brussels sprouts, heat up a weird combination of food items I just bought for dinner tonight and lunches for the week, feed the cat, and sit down to eat and watch The Bachelorette. I'm excited for another season, but I wish they would focus on the cute connections rather than the (clearly manufactured) drama — it's gotten a little out of hand lately! Once it's over, I shower, do the bedtime routine, and lights out by 11:30.
Daily Total: $30.50

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — Two snoozes, snuggle cat (so cute, I want one!), morning routine, feed cat, pack lunch, and make it to work on time.
11:30 a.m. — On my way back to the office from a presentation, I stop at Target to get a graduation card for a friend from the marching band. $5.03
5:30 p.m. — After work, I change quickly and head to a jazz dance exercise class. I paid using a 10-class package I bought a few weeks ago. I love going to this class! I'm not a great dancer, but remembering the steps is workout for my brain as much as my body. I eat another weird combination of Trader Joe's food for dinner.
9 p.m. — After dinner, I relax, and on a whim decide to download Hinge. I went through a breakup a couple months ago, and but I've been starting to feel ready to date again. We'll see how it goes! After too much swiping, time for the nightly routine and lights out at 11.
Daily Total: $5.03

Day Five

7:40 a.m. — Same morning routine, plus cat snuggles (seriously, should I get a cat?).
8:30 a.m. — I make it to work on time and do some money moving while eating breakfast. I schedule my Target card and regular credit card payments (I pay for basically everything with these and pay them off every month), and notice my first band paycheck of the season was deposited today (woo!).
11:45 a.m. — We have a seminar on stress today with free lunch (free food is rare in local government work), so I get salad, pasta salad, and a shrimp salad wrap (why are those three totally different foods all called salad??). In the afternoon, I finish a report I've been working on for a couple days and feel a good sense of accomplishment when I leave!
5 p.m. — Once I get home from work, it's time for a quick dinner (more Trader Joe's food that doesn't go together), then I change clothes and leave for band practice. I play in the marching band for the local pro football team, and it has been so much fun! We practice once a week, and we perform at parades and home games. Football isn't necessarily my favorite sport (for a couple different reasons), but being part of this community and showing kids where music can take them make it worth it for me.
10:30 p.m. — Home from practice and start getting ready for bed immediately. Shower, bedtime routine, and asleep at 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:40 a.m. — Up at the normal time. Cat snuggles (seriously, I'm getting a cat), morning routine, and out the door almost on time.
1 p.m. — I have meetings almost all day today, which is unusual. I heat up the lunch I packed (squash ravioli with pesto and Brussels sprouts), and eat it while reading. Then I take a quick walk around the block and back to meetings and emails the rest of the day.
3:30 p.m. — I get to leave an hour early every Thursday! I head home with the intention of going for a run, but I have a little PMS headache, so I take it easy for a bit, then heat up dinner.
6:45 p.m. — After dinner, I pack up a couple beers and head to the park for my weekly bocce league. It's a beautiful night, but unfortunately my team ("I Wanna Dance With SomeBocce") loses a tight game to "Bocce, Please!" After the game, my team heads to a local bar for happy hour. I get a buffalo mozzarella appetizer — YUM ($12 including tip). $12
10 p.m. — Back from the bar, and time for bed! First, I check my phone, and a friend is trying to give away tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld tomorrow night. I don't have plans tomorrow, so I tell her I'm happy to use them — hopefully someone will be free to come with me! Bedtime routine then asleep at 11ish.
Daily Total: $12

Day Seven

7:40 a.m. — The cat decided to leave the gift of a hairball on my carpet sometime last night (Maybe I shouldn't get a cat?). So I clean it up, and get ready for work like normal.
10 a.m. — Make it to work on time, and helped with a small emergency in our building first thing, but it turns out to be not big deal. Once I return to my office, I sit down and realize tickets are about to go on sale for the Jonas Brothers tour. I hadn't planned to go, but my love of boy bands gets the best of me and I buy two tickets ($182.50). I'll invite my sister to come with me. This is a pretty spontaneous purchase for me, but teenage me (and 28 year-old me) are so excited to see them!! $182.50
1 p.m. — Heat up lunch, read Kindle, take a little walk. I found a friend who wants to come to the show tonight — first try!
5 p.m. — It's the weekend! But it's also time to clean the litter box (spoiler alert: I'm NOT getting a cat.). Then I eat a quick dinner and head to pick up my friend for the comedy show. We haven't seen each other in too long! We park at the light rail station (free) and take a 15-minute ride to the theater ($1.80). $1.80
8:30 p.m. — The show was great! Friend and I light rail back to the station ($1.80), and promise to hang out again soon. $1.80
10 p.m. — I watch the finale of the Big Bang Theory (I haven't kept up with the show, but it was a cute ending), message with some boys on Hinge, then head to bed.
Daily Total: $186.10
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