A Week In Baltimore, MD, On A $36,000 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.
Today: a business co-owner working in the event and wedding planning industry who makes $36,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel Seasoning.
Occupation: Business Co-Owner
Industry: Event & Wedding Planning
Age: 29
Location: Baltimore, MD
Income: ~$36,000 (~$15,000 from my business, plus ~$21,000 from my waitressing job)
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $1,000 from my business and ~$1,500-$2,000 from waitressing
Advertisement
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $850
Loans: $0 (My parents paid for my undergraduate degree — thanks, Mom & Dad! And my car is paid off.)
Cell Phone: $0 (Paid for through my business.)
Cable/Internet: $89.72
Health Insurance: $88.68
Car Insurance: $65
Gym: $56
Utilities: ~$100
Spotify: $9.99
Savings: $200 (sometimes more, depending on how much I make at my waitressing job)
Massage Membership: $84.99 bimonthly

Day One

7:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I lay in bed, try to fall back asleep for a little bit, and finally get up at around 7:45 a.m. I put on hot water for tea and sort out my laundry while I'm waiting for it to boil. Today is an “off” day for me, which means chores around the house and errands await me. I take my laundry down to the machine in the basement of my building. I live in a studio apartment that's in a townhouse, so we all share the laundry. Hopefully no one has anything in the machines right now!
8 a.m. — Turn on The Today Show and make myself oatmeal with almond milk, apples, cinnamon, and peanut butter — my favorite fall breakfast. I ignore the negative news while I briefly look through emails for my business. Nothing new at this point, but we have two events this weekend, so I'm sure it'll pick up as the day goes on. Even though today is my off day, checking email is a constant. Luckily, I have a business partner, so when I go on vacations she takes care of things, and vice versa. It's a unique life! I head to a spin class at my gym with my favorite instructor. I try to work out four times a week (including yoga once).
Advertisement
11 a.m. — Great class!! I head to Trader Joe's feeling a little hungry (rookie move). I get quinoa-and-black-bean tortilla chips, avocados, granola, Everything But The Bagel seasoning, frozen broccoli, frozen vegetable pizza, bananas, mandarin oranges, chia seeds, coconut chips, Dijon mustard, olive oil spray, and dark chocolate bars with almonds. I'm also planning to make pumpkin muffins, so I grab unsweetened applesauce, maple syrup, and coconut oil spray. I've been eyeing waxed cotton food wraps, too, so I grab those as well. I then head to my parents house to have lunch with my mom — she works part-time, so it's nice to have someone to get together with on my random days off during the week. She makes homemade chicken salad with grapes and celery — so yummy! $55.24
2 p.m. — Finally home and ready to finish my chores in preparation for working this weekend. I throw the laundry into the dryer, sweep and Swiffer the floor in my apartment (SO MUCH HAIR), fold laundry, and take out the trash and recycling. Then I head out to the bank to deposit cash from waitressing shifts earlier this week. I never used to go to the bank, but now it's a weekly occurrence. If I leave cash in my purse, I spend it, which is not the best. On my way home, I stop at my favorite wax place to get my eyebrows and lip waxed. It comes to $31 including tip. The walk home is so nice — it's so beautiful outside. When I arrive, I get started on the pumpkin muffins, which I make in mini muffin tins. They come out GREAT, and I have two as an afternoon snack. $31
Advertisement
6:30 p.m. — I end up talking to my business partner on the phone for about 30 minutes about our plans for this weekend and answer some emails while on the phone. Once I'm done, I heat up the leftover chicken taco chili (from @skinnytaste on Instagram — I love her recipes!!), and add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and avocado. I eat it with the quinoa-and-black-bean chips I bought today while watching Jeopardy. Does that make me old? I end up watching Chappaquiddick afterwards, which is very interesting. I do my face routine (makeup remover, face wash, lotion, undereye cream, castor oil on eyebrows to help them grow in) and brush my teeth. Then I get into bed and settle down with Sourdough by Robin Sloan. It's so good, I'm flying through it! I fall asleep not much later.
Daily Total: $86.24

Day Two

6 a.m. — Wake up, immediately turn the kettle on for tea, and heat up oatmeal I made yesterday. I chop up apples to put on top and sit and eat while watching the news. I'm working at the restaurant today, so I throw on my clothes, put on minimal makeup, and head out the door. My shift starts at 7:30, but I arrive early to roll my silverware beforehand so I can scoot off right at 2 p.m. (We only serve breakfast and lunch.)
1:30 p.m. — What a day! I quickly eat the lunch I brought (leftover chicken stir fry), cash out with my boss, and change my clothes. I have to head to a set-up for a wedding we are coordinating this weekend. It's tented on their private property, and the lighting and decor is being installed today. I stop by my business partner's house to pick her up, and we end up answering emails and catching up on things before heading out to the location. Her two little girls keep us company the whole time, and they're my favorite little humans.
7 p.m. — I finally get home after we oversee some of the install. They still have one chandelier to hang, but everything is on track and looking great. I take a hot shower, heat up more chicken taco chili, and pour myself a glass of red wine. Today has been exhausting, and I have another day at the restaurant tomorrow. I put on Schitt's Creek. Season 4 just came on Netflix and it has made me SO happy.
10 p.m. — In bed reading Sourdough again. I try to go to sleep but my mind races until about midnight, when I finally fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I'm so exhausted. I seriously tossed and turned all night; this weekend's events have got me feeling really anxious. Get ready quickly for my shift at the restaurant, and I'm out the door by 6:05 a.m. I have a lot to do before we open at 7 a.m.
3:30 p.m. — I finally finish up and head home to shower and relax a bit before my evening plans. I'm going to see A Star Is Born tonight with my sister and some friends from work, so I buy the tickets online, and everyone will pay me back later. I deal with phone calls with vendors for tomorrow's wedding before heading out to meet my sister for an early dinner. $50
5:30 p.m. — Meet my sister at a local market called Belvedere Square, which is right across the street from the theater. We split a mushroom pizza and a Mediterranean salad with chicken. I get a glass of red wine from the wine bar in the market and my sister grabs a beer. It's happy hour, so the wine is only $6 (plus tip)! My sister pays for the food, since I bought the movie tickets. We head over to the theater and grab a snack and another glass of wine ($15). Here we go! $22.54
9:30 p.m. — The movie was SO AMAZING! Lady Gaga is fabulous, and it was worth seeing in the theater because her performances were really great. I head home, do my face routine, and get in bed. I watch a few episodes of New Girl and then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $72.54

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I finally got a good night of sleep. I relax for a bit and then head out for a run to get some of my anxiety out before this crazy day begins. I head home to make a meal that will hold me over for a while: scrambled eggs with avocado spinach and quinoa. I head out to the first of two events today.
12:30 p.m. — Arrive at the venue to begin setting things up. This wedding is tented on a private farm. The florist is here, the lighting person comes to tweak some items, and the caterers are setting tables with silverware, glasses, etc. It's all really coming together beautifully. We've owned our company for two and a half years now, and when getting to be so involved with decor and design really reminds me how much I love what I do.
3 p.m. — We head out. My business partner is going to the church for the wedding ceremony, and I'm heading to another venue for an 80th birthday party. My 35-minute commute turns out to be an hour and a half due to road closures from the Baltimore Marathon — what a nightmare. I end up having to park in a different lot and pay $20 for parking, which is so annoying. I put it on our business credit card. Turns out some other vendors had the same problem that I did, but luckily everyone makes it in time to set up final items, and we are ready to go by the 5 p.m. start time. The event goes smoothly, and the birthday girl is very happy. ($20 expensed)
9:15 p.m. — I leave to meet a friend from college who is in town visiting. We meet for a drink, and she immediately tells me she's pregnant — so exciting! I drink a beer while we catch up on all that's going on in our lives. We haven't seen each other in about two years. $11.92
11 p.m. — I get home and relax a bit before washing my face with a Burt's Bees acne scrub. I'm 29, but my face seems to think I'm 13. It's probably the stress leading up to these events that has caused it, so hopefully after this weekend it will settle down. I watch an episode of New Girl before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $11.92

Day Five

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I lay around for a bit and make toast — one slice with peanut butter, banana, and honey, and one with avocado, an egg, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning. So delicious. Today, my business partner and I are heading to a nearby town for a workshop that we're sponsoring. We did this last year, too, and it's a nice little one-night getaway. We get to network with others in our industry and enjoy good food and drinks. We had planned for me to pick her up at 9:30, so I rush to take a quick body shower, pack a bag, and clean up my apartment a bit. I also take frozen chicken out of the freezer to make chicken noodle soup when I get back tomorrow night.
9:45 a.m. — I arrive at her house, but she isn't ready yet, so I help her pack and we end up heading out the door around 10:15 a.m. We always stop at the outlets on the way down. My main goal is Banana Republic, and I do really well. I get a new pair of jeans, two shirts, a sweater, and a bracelet. I have a Banana Republic card, and I'm able to use $65 in rewards. With additional sales, everything comes to $27.50. A steal! We also stop in Under Armour, Gap, and Nike, but I don't buy anything else. $27.50
1 p.m. — We are both starving, so we quickly stop at McDonald's and get crispy chicken sandwiches with fries ($17.79). I don't usually eat fast food, but when I do, it's so amazing. My body will probably reject it later, but oh well. We also stop at an Aldi because we want to have cookie giveaway bags with our business cards for all of the workshop attendees. We grab some coconut water and knock-off Frappuccinos for tomorrow morning when we will most likely be hungover ($21.93). We expense everything on our business credit card. ($39.72 expensed)
2:30 p.m. — We finally arrive! We check into our room, stuff the baggies with cookies and our business cards, and head over to the suite where the welcome happy hour will be starting at 4 p.m. We help set up a few things and then head back to our room to get ready. I straighten my hair, put on makeup, and try on five different outfits, all of which I hate. I end up wearing jeans, black boots, and a long grey sweater with fancy jewelry to dress it up a bit. We finally head over to the happy hour and catch up with some friends/old colleagues.
7 p.m. — We decide we need a proper dinner and convince some others to head to Fish Tales with us. We walk there and order shots as a thank you to those who took the walk with us. I have Thai bbq shrimp and some other appetizer that I can't remember. ($31.98 expensed)
11 p.m. — We continue drinking and having fun with everyone until about 11 p.m. when we Uber back to the hotel. Drinks and Uber are expensed on our business credit card. ($8.35 expensed)
Daily Total: $27.50

Day Six

9 a.m. — We are both struggling. I get up to refill our waters, and I grab the coconut waters, too. We each shower and lounge around the beautiful hotel room for a bit. It's so nice and relaxing to come to the beach in the off-season. We stop at a Jewish deli for some bagels for breakfast and matzah ball soup to save for when we get hungry later. ($29.82 expensed)
11 a.m. — On the road. We stop at a great liquor store that has amazing deals on our way home. I buy a 15-pack variety of beers and five bottles of wine. We make it back to my business partner's house by 2:30 p.m. $64.14
3:30 p.m. — I stop at the grocery store on my way home. I'm hosting book club tomorrow night and need some dessert items and ingredients for chicken noodle soup to go with the chicken I defrosted. I get egg noodles, chicken broth, celery, an onion, spinach, brownie mix, vanilla pudding mix, frozen Cool Whip, and graham crackers. I get home, unpack everything from the grocery store, and eat the matzah ball soup before cleaning up my apartment. I also end up potting a few mums I got for my porch and repotting some indoor plants that needed some TLC. I do two loads of laundry and call it a night for chores. $39.15
8 p.m. — I end up eating too many lacey cookies from Aldi and fight off my hangover headache that has hit later in the day than expected. I thought I had avoided it. I take a steamy hot bath and ready Sourdough while trying to sweat out this delayed hangover. The heat has finally gotten to me, so I hop out and get ready for bed. I watch three or four episodes of New Girl before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $103.29

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I had such a good night's sleep last night, and I'm feeling much better this morning. I have to work at the restaurant today, so I quickly make some eggs with avocado and quinoa before getting ready and heading out the door. I also made a smoothie for later in my shift. The shift goes by quickly — we're fairly busy but I still feel so tired and am getting a little feisty with the customers who are being high maintenance. I'm looking forward to having the next two days off.
4:30 p.m. — I stop at the bank on my way home to deposit cash from last week and today's shift. Then I swing by the grocery store to grab some Perrier and bread to have with the soup. I get home and get to work prepping for book club. I make the brownies and pop them in the oven, and then I make a pumpkin dip with Cool Whip, canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla pudding mix. I'll serve it with graham crackers. Then I make the soup — chop up celery, carrots, and onions and sweat them out with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme/rosemary from my garden. Then I add the pulled chicken and chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. I add the egg noodles and let it all simmer until the girls arrive. Lastly, I pull out the wine and beer I bought at the liquor store and some wine glasses. $7.50
7 p.m. — Girls start to arrive and we have such a great time. We discuss The Wolves at the Door by Judith Pearson. It is so good — a really unique view of WWII, and a true story. I highly recommend. We select two books for our next meeting, which will be our annual holiday potluck and gift exchange. The two books are The Lonely Hearts Hotel by Heather O'Neill and One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. Both look so good! After everyone leaves, I clean up and do dishes, then get ready for bed. I read some of Sourdough before falling asleep. Tomorrow's a light day, and I can't wait to have a slightly normal schedule again!
Daily Total: $7.50
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 you been working for at least 8 years and seen your salary increase or fluctuate? If so, fill out this form for a chance to be featured on our Salary Story series!
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here! In particular, we're looking for diaries from Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico, and North Dakota.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series