A Week In Boulder, CO, On A $44,000 Salary

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.
Calling all entrepreneurs: We want to hear from you! If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, we’d love to feature your Money Diary. Submit here.
Travel Diaries: We're looking to get the inside scoop on when, where, and how our peers are using their vacation days. Open to tracking your travel expenses during an upcoming trip? Email us at
Today: a billing manager who makes $44,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on clementines.
Occupation: Billing Manager
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 26
Location: Boulder, CO
Salary: $44,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,373.08
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $538.30 for my room in a five-bedroom house. I got a great deal specifically so that I could have more fun money, but I just got a raise that will take effect soon, so when my lease ends in August, I'm going to look for a place with fewer roommates.
Student Loans: $0 (I earned a scholarship that covered almost all of my tuition, and my parents paid the rest.)
Car Insurance: $53.99
Car Payment: $256.81 (I got a great deal on my car a couple of years ago and chose a three-year loan, so it's almost completely paid off!)
Utilities: $25-$50/month for my share
Netflix/HBO: $0 (Thanks to my mom and friends!)
Hulu: $5.99 (I share this one with my mom.)
Walmart Beauty Box: $10 quarterly (Four times a year you get samples for free and just pay for shipping. I get this for my mom, too.)
Ipsy Glam Bag: $10
Maximum Fun Podcast Contribution: $5 (I listen to podcasts constantly!)
Gym Membership: $44
Roller Derby League Dues: $50
Phone: $0 (I'm still on my parents' plan. It was my college graduation present.)
IRA: 3% of my salary, which my company matches. Hopefully, I can contribute more in the future, but for now I'm doing the minimum matching amount.
Savings: $0-$400 a month if I have anything left over!

Day One

8 a.m. — My first alarm goes off, and I scroll through the news and Instagram on my phone. I crawl out of bed about 30 minutes later to throw on sweats, wash my face, and microwave a small pitcher of water so I can make Dunkin' Donuts coffee in my French press (so classy). My dog and I step out to the backyard for a few minutes so he can do his thing and I can get at least a little sunshine. By 9, I'm back in the house on my laptop, ready to start work for the day.
11:35 a.m. — I had a busy morning — lots of insurance calls and closing out accounts — and now I'm starving. I heat up some of last night's vegan lentil curry soup. I don't think I'll ever go 100% vegan, since chicken wings are my all-time favorite, but I do try out a lot of vegan recipes. This one was a hit! I pop a slice of Trader Joe's sourdough bread in the toaster to enjoy on the side and sit back down for a working lunch at my desk.
12:15 p.m. — I'm still hungry, so I go back for another cup of soup. I've been a lot more active lately, and I can literally feel my metabolism speeding up.
12:30 p.m. — I make myself a cup of TJ's Tulsi tea with stevia and lemon and sit back at my desk for more calls and closing accounts. It's outrageously nice out today, so this feels like my spreadsheet version of spring cleaning!
2:15 p.m. — I'm done moving spreadsheets around. I have a flexible schedule where I have to work 9 to 2 every day, and my other hours are up to me. Normally on a Wednesday I'd work right up until my evening yoga class, but it's beautiful outside and I want to take advantage of the weather.
2:45 p.m. — After finishing up some laundry and changing into yoga clothes, I grab the pup and we head to the dog park. The closest one to us is over two miles away, so we have to drive — hopefully, we can move somewhere within walking distance of a park this summer. It's a beautiful day for the park! My dog has a great time playing with two friendly greyhounds, and they tire each other out after about an hour. On the way home, we stop by the post office so I can drop off a clothing return with a prepaid shipping label. Hopefully, this gets processed quickly and I get about $50 back on my credit card soon.
4:30 p.m. — Not super hungry yet, but I know that if I don't eat something before yoga, I'll spend the whole class thinking of what I'm going to eat later. I snack on a couple hard-boiled eggs and a slice of sourdough toast with peanut butter while watching Big Mouth on Netflix. By 5, I'm out the door walking to class.
6:30 p.m. — Yoga was a delight, as always! My favorite instructor went out of her way to teach me a few stretches that will hopefully help loosen up my back muscles, since my upper back is tight. After class, I stop by the grocery store to get a pork loin so I can make pulled pork and later posole sometime this week. At the store, I realize that the pulled pork obviously won't be done in time for dinner tonight, so I pick up a few things for a quick dinner: ground turkey, black beans, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes. I also buy a can of hominy for the posole, as well as a bag of clementines for snacking. I call my mom on the way home, and we end up talking for over an hour. $26.72
8:30 p.m. — I finally get started on the sweet potato chili. It was supposed to be a 30-minute recipe, but I like to take my time in the kitchen. By the time I'm done, it's 9:30 and I curl up with my dog on the couch to eat and watch Big Mouth.
10 p.m. — I've got some serious munchies, so after the chili I make myself a sweet snack plate with a clementine, a square of TJ's Birthday Cake Bar, and a Joe-Joe's Slim cookie. Smorgasbords are kind of a tradition in my family, so taking the time to plate a tiny assortment of fun foods instead of just grabbing a candy bar or a handful of chips has always been comforting to me. The pup and I keep on cuddling and watching Big Mouth, and we fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $26.72

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I snooze a few times today. I got plenty of sleep, but still I'm exhausted. I did some intense work yesterday at yoga to stretch out my sore muscles from Monday's roller derby practice, but today my whole body just feels like a lead noodle. I roll out of bed, take a handful of ibuprofen, heat up leftover coffee from yesterday, and start my work day by 9.
10:20 a.m. — I remember that my pulled-pork recipe isn't going to cook itself and that slow cookers are, in fact, very slow. I throw the pork loin in the cooker with some seasonings I have on hand and half a can of beer, and I set it to low. This is my first time making pulled pork, and I'm so excited!
11:10 a.m. — I go to make my first call of the day and notice that my earbuds aren't working. The adapter that allows me to plug them into my phone is bent. I order a two-pack from Amazon with my work credit card. ($9.99 expensed)
12 p.m. — I heat up some leftover turkey chili for lunch and top it with half an avocado and a bunch of fresh cilantro. I toast some sourdough bread to eat on the side and sit back down at my desk to eat. After lunch, I heat up some more Tulsi tea. I almost didn't buy it after the TJ's cashier started going on about all its health benefits. I can't help but roll my eyes when someone preaches about alternative medicine, but I'm glad I bought it, because this stuff tastes like honey and it's actually delicious.
2:45 p.m. — I've been getting transferred from one department to another all afternoon, and I'm getting frustrated. I want to be done, but I have a few more calls to make. I head to the kitchen (which smells delicious from the pulled pork) and make a cup of TJ's Winter Wake Up tea with milk and stevia. After my tea is hot and ready, I sit back down to do a few more calls.
3:45 p.m. — My last call of the day is actually a good one. I'm going to my boyfriend, G.'s, house tonight, so I hop in the shower and change into some cuter yet still comfy clothes. G.'s house is 35 minutes away in a different town, so I like to wait until the traffic has lessened to head up. I have a slice of peanut butter toast and a clementine to tide me over until dinner. Then I check my pulled pork, and it's absolutely perfect! I pack it up and throw it in the fridge for later before heading out.
6:45 p.m. — At G.'s house, we finish degassing a batch of wine we started a few weeks ago. Then we make chicken wings from the wing cookbook he bought me for my birthday last week. They're fruity, spicy, and delicious! They go perfectly with the new IPA he just finished. It's my favorite type of beer, so I help myself to three glasses. We finish off the night watching Doctor Who (G.'s been trying to get me into it for a while now, and it's finally working!) and go to sleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — G.'s alarm goes off twice. He's an early bird. I can't imagine getting up this early, so I doze on and off for another hour. While I'm half asleep, I hear him let all three dogs out and feed them all in separate areas (since one of his dogs is food-aggressive). He takes the best care of these doggies, and it melts my heart. When I finally wake up, G. and I have a little coffee together before he has to leave for work.
8:15 a.m. — It's cold and rainy out and I forgot to bring a jacket, so I'm feeling pretty miserable on the way home. I stop by Dutch Bros. The line is long, but they have a really nice guy taking orders outside. He compliments my dog and I mention that I've never been here before, so he recommends I get a Golden Eagle and tells me my first drink is on the house! The person at the drive-up window is also delightful and gives my dog a cookie. My drink is delicious — too sweet for every day — but I definitely enjoy it, and I know I'll be back the next chance I get.
9 a.m. — I'm back at home, logging into my laptop. I start to feel kind of queasy and anxious, probably from some combination of my two coffees this morning and my three beers last night. It's a work-from-bed kind of day. I do some more mindless tasks like applying payments and sending out insurance claims. I did a ton of calls yesterday, and I'll be in the office every day next week, so hopefully today I don't actually have to talk to anyone.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up some leftover turkey chili with toast for lunch. It makes me feel a little better and less jittery. Then I keep trying to be productive for the rest of the afternoon.
2:15 p.m. — I got enough done to call it a day, so I'm giving up. I'm feeling super anxious, and the gloomy weather isn't helping, so I decide I can finish things next week. I pour myself a bowl of TJ's white cheddar popcorn and decide to watch a show and maybe doze off for a bit. I have friends coming over for a girls' night later, and I need to shake these bad vibes before then.
4:45 p.m. — Nap time is over and I feel a little better. I decide to go pick up wine for tonight from the nearby liquor store, which happens to be dog-friendly. A walk always perks me up! Once I'm at the liquor store, though, I realize I left my purse in my car. Oh well, the girls usually bring a couple bottles anyway, and if they don't, they'll just have to drink what I have on hand.
7 p.m. — My friends show up to my house (bringing several bottles of wine, of course), and we have drinks for a couple hours while we catch up.
9:30 p.m. — We order a Lyft to Pearl Street for half-off sushi. But when we step outside, there's a full-on snowstorm happening! Colorado weather is wild, y'all. My friend offers to pay for my food since we didn't get a chance to celebrate my birthday last week, so I pay for the Lyfts on the way there and back. After plenty of drinks, way too much sushi, and a free birthday ice cream, we have a fun ride back home. We chat for a while and end up going to bed around 1 a.m. $22.73
Daily Total: $22.73

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of my friend leaving — we all got pretty tipsy last night, so she slept on the couch. I get ready, let the dog out, and leave for roller derby practice by 9.
9:30 a.m. — I swing by Deli Zone for a breakfast sandwich and order a small one with eggs, cheese, cream cheese, sausage, tomato, and jalapeños. I think about buying a soda, but remember that I packed a Coke Zero in my bag. I eat most of the sandwich in the car on my way to practice but leave a little for later so that I don't feel too full to skate. $5.84
1:20 p.m. — Done with practice. I'm exhausted and already sore! I finish the last few bites of my breakfast sandwich on my ride home. Once I'm back, I shower, get ready, and then heat up a cup of leftover turkey chili, which I eat with toast, two clementines, and a couple of Joe-Joe's. Roller derby makes me an eating machine, and I'm totally okay with that. Afterward, I snuggle up on the couch with the pup, drinking chai tea and watching New Girl.
4:15 p.m. — G. picks me up and we head to a neighboring town where one of my favorite breweries is releasing a new beer. We have two beers each and split a third one. I pay because G. has been paying more often lately and I need to catch up. G. orders poutine and gumbo from a food truck for a late lunch, and I have a few bites of the poutine, which is delicious! $38.75
7 p.m. — After a few hours at the brewery, we head home to my house. We watch a couple of episodes of Broad City (I'm getting him into it) and split an ice cream sandwich left over from my birthday. Then he leaves so he can go home to take care of his doggies.
9:30 p.m. — I wish I had something closer to a meal tonight, so I pop some pizza rolls in the air fryer and eat them with some cheese popcorn. Then I watch a couple of episodes of Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. I just recently got into trashy reality TV, and in all honesty I don't regret it one bit. I end up falling asleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $44.59

Day Five

8:10 a.m. — I wake up from some weird dreams and scroll through all my news and social media for almost an hour. I consider going on a real hike today, but I know it'll be muddy in the mountains from the recent snow, so I decide to go on a long walk with my dog around the neighborhood instead. I get up and throw on leggings, and then we're out the door a little after 9.
10:20 a.m. — After almost four miles, we're back at the house. I finish the last of the chili with more toast. Then I heat up a cup of coffee and have a piece of TJ's Birthday Cake Bar while watching an episode of Charm School.
12:30 p.m. — I put on my new corduroy jumper over a long-sleeved black bodysuit and head to G.'s house. I wear comfy clothes too often since I usually work from home, and I've been dying to wear this jumper, so our happy hour date this afternoon seems like a fine occasion.
12:40 p.m. — I'm almost out of gas, so I swing by King Soopers to fill up and get points on my rewards card. The total for a full tank comes out to $19.30, and that can last me almost 400 freeway miles. $19.30
3:15 p.m. — G. and I walk down to Main Street and visit a colorful new Mexican place that we discovered last week. They have an amazing happy hour every day, even on weekends. We only intended to buy a couple of $5 happy hour margaritas, but the server told us it would be a better deal to get a $24 pitcher, so we each have almost three drinks. We also get chips and salsa because their salsa is delicious. I pick up the tab, because G. is planning on buying dinner later. $33.21
5:45 p.m. — We head down the street to a local sports bar and order burgers and a couple of beers. It's restaurant week, so we also get a free dessert — some kind of chocolate coffee cheesecake. I tell G. that it tastes like the best dessert at a buffet. Definitely not bad, but also something I wouldn't order on its own. G. pays for dinner, and I order a Lyft back to his house. It's only like 12 blocks, but we don't feel like walking. $9.30
7 p.m. — Back at the house, we turn on Thor: Ragnarok. Thor is my favorite Avenger, so I can't believe I never saw this when it came out! Toward the end of the movie, I get anxious about my long day tomorrow. I've sobered up, so I drive back home and go to sleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $61.81

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up a few minutes before my alarm and hop in the shower right away. Then I throw on a denim button-up, khaki-colored skinny jeans, and some goldenrod oxfords. I grab a frozen Tupperware full of my leftover lentil curry soup for lunch, along with a Coke Zero and a couple clementines. I also heat up yesterday's leftover coffee and throw it in my to-go cup with some milk and stevia. At work, I find a parking spot right away, so I get to relax for a few minutes and keep listening to an episode of a podcast I just got into, Court Appointed. I'm in the office right on time at 8:30. Office days are wild — by the time I sit down at the front desk, it feels like I've already been at work for hours!
11:15 a.m. — I have one of my clementines, plus a couple slices of cheese and a peanut butter cup from the office to tide me over until I get a break for lunch later. I just remembered I have a free sub coupon on my phone for Firehouse Subs that expires today, so I'll have to eat my curry tomorrow. I make myself a cup of mint tea and get back to work.
1:05 p.m. — I duck out of the office to drop my dog off at the groomer. I have to go all the way home to get him, but there's no traffic at all, so we end up at the groomer by 1:30, right on time!
1:35 p.m. — I go to Firehouse Subs for my free sandwich, but when I get there I realize my coupon is just for a free drink. It's fine, though — fountain drinks in Boulder are expensive because of our by-the-ounce sugar tax (even on sugar-free sodas), so a free large soda is actually a pretty good perk. I pay for a small Italian sub and get my free drink, which is huge. I get back to the office right before 2. $6.53
5:50 p.m. — I stayed a little late to help set up for a client dinner, but now I'm on my way to pick up my dog from the groomer. He looks beautiful, and the groomer said he was very well-behaved! The total for the groom comes out to $97, which includes a teeth brushing, nail grinding, and ear cleaning. It's more than I spend on my own hair, for sure, but I only get his hair cut a few times a year. I pay using the rest of a gift card I have that was left over from a refund on a very, very bad groom last year, and then cover the rest with my debit card. The groomer is really sweet and we'll be back to see her again, so I hand her a $10 cash tip as well. Next, I rush home to drop off my dog and head out to roller derby practice. On the way, I snack on some almonds and a turkey jerky stick. $53.48
9:20 p.m. — Finally done with practice, I head home and make myself some ramen with frozen French green beans and a couple of eggs. I eat while watching an episode of Charm School and fall asleep around 11:15.
Daily Total: $60.01

Day Seven

7:15 a.m. — I wake up and hop in the shower right away again; I usually don't shower two days in a row, but roller derby has completely destroyed my entire bathing schedule. I throw on a green plaid shirt dress, leggings, and black boots because it's cold again (where is spring?) and leave my dog with a big bone to chew on while I'm at work. He was a good boy yesterday, so he deserves it. Then I head out at 8 and swing by Dunkin' for a coffee. They now have Peeps flavor! I have to try it, obviously, and it does not disappoint. I make it to the office right on time at 8:30. $2.28
11:40 a.m. — I'm getting hungry, but my boss has meetings with new clients all morning and I know she doesn't want the whole office to smell like curry just now. I grab leftovers from last night's dinner to tide me over. I'll have a real lunch after meetings are over. I make myself a cup of strawberry pomegranate tea and sit back down at my desk.
3:15 p.m. — I've been super busy with 100 things to do all day, but that's definitely made the day fly by! I take a quick 10-minute break to eat half of a sandwich from our client meeting today. I'll just have to put off eating my packed lunch for another day. After my break, I sit back down to work on scanning in paperwork and drawing up estimates.
5:20 p.m. — I head home a few minutes early. I was so busy today, I didn't have time to take a long enough break to go home and let my dog out, so I know he probably really needs to go out. After we get home, we go out to hit our step goal for the day and end up walking for over an hour.
7:45 p.m. — I decide to finally make the posole recipe I've been wanting to try. It's my first time making or eating this dish, so I have no clue how it will turn out. It's actually delicious! I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I added a couple of jalapeños because I happened to have them lying around. Afterward, I sit down to eat on the couch with the pup while watching another episode of Charm School.
10 p.m. — I need something sweet, so I put together a little dessert plate with a clementine, a few Joe-Joe's Slims, and a little bit of Chicago Mix Popcorn. I end up going to bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $2.28
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:
We’re working on a story that takes a look at what real people spend on weed and marijuana-derived products. 4/20 is right around the corner, and we want to know what real people think is a reasonable amount to spend each month. To be considered for an upcoming article please fill out this form! All answers are anonymous.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series