A Week In Pittsburgh, PA, On A $48,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a claims investigator working in health insurance who makes $48,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Venti Starbucks Coffee.
Occupation: Claims Investigator
Industry: Health Insurance
Age: 27
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Salary: $48,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,286
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $630 + $25 pet fee (I live alone in a one-bedroom)
Student Loans: $450 (I still pay these even though I'm in deferment)
Utilities: $150
Car Payment: $230
Bus/Trolley Pass: $60
Car Insurance: $62
Cell Phone: $91
Internet: $68
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Netflix: $0 (my dad pays for this and I pay for the others)
Spotify Student (Showtime & Hulu Included): $5.34
HBO Now: $16.04
Payment Plan for EDC Las Vegas 2020: $60
Medical, Dental, Vision Insurance: $36 ($18 deducted from each pay)
401(k) Contribution: $220 (6% each paycheck, employer matches up to 6%)

Day One

9:30 a.m. — My dog wakes me up by putting his butt in my face. I ask if he wants to go outside, but all I get back is a dumbfounded look like he has no idea why I would ask such a question. I realize O., one of the couple of men on my roster (if you don't get this reference, watch That Awkward Moment), texted me at 1 a.m. last night asking me to come over so I respond giving him shit and asking if he's alive. My dog finally settles down and we drift back to sleep for another hour.
10:30 a.m. — I'm awoken from my slumber once again but this time by the elephants upstairs stomping around. This appears to be the new normal since my neighbor got a new roommate. It's nowhere near as bad as my old neighbors so I just grin and bear it. While I'm up letting my dog outside, I turn on the TV for some background noise and scroll through social media. I also spend some time going through the emails that have accumulated overnight.
12 p.m. — I'm going to see a movie with my dad today, but my house is freezing so I wait until the last possible second to get out from under my three blankets to shower and get ready. I don't pay the water bill at my apartment, so I take full advantage and take a long, hot shower. I put on some CeraVe moisturizer and quickly dry my hair because my dad texts me and asks if I'll be ready earlier than planned (typical).
12:45 p.m. — While driving to the movie theatre, my dad interrogates me about what “boyfriend” I'll be seeing tonight (he knows me too well) and asks me about the MBA program I got into that I'll be starting in January. In typical dad fashion, he makes sure the extra student loans are worth it in the long run and I assure him it is, especially since my current employer has a very generous [$6k/year] tuition reimbursement program.
2 p.m. — Movie Time! Ever since I was a kid, my dad and I have bonded over movies. We're going to see the new Maleficent movie today. My dad pays for both tickets since he has an AMC movie pass. The movie ends and my dad drives us back to his house where we pick up his puppy and head over to the dog park to release some of that Husky Pup energy. O. texts me on the drive back to my dad's and we make plans for me to sleep at his place tonight since tomorrow is one of my designated work from home days.
6:30 p.m. — My dad makes us breakfast for dinner (my fave!) — farmers market eggs, thick-cut peppered bacon, and whole wheat toast. We eat dinner outside next to the fire pit while sipping on some spiked hot cocoa. My dad drives me back to my house around 8. I wash some dishes, snuggle with my pup for a bit, then head over to O.'s for the night.
9:30 p.m. — O. surprises me with my favorite pumpkin beer when I get to his house — I knew I kept him around for a reason. We watch the Watchmen premiere on HBO and as soon as the credits roll, we're all over each other. Sex with O. literally never gets old or boring. Brush our teeth together and pass out by 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I'm surprised to see O. when my first alarm goes off this morning since he was adamant that he was going to get up at 5:30 and go to the gym before work this morning. O.'s first alarm for the day goes off right after mine, we snooze both until 8. O. gives into my whining and we snuggle for 15 more minutes before he jumps in the shower and I drive back to my apartment to start working for the day.
10:30 a.m. — My stomach was growling during my entire morning meeting so I whip up a little breakfast of low-fat cottage cheese with fruit and brew my second cup of black coffee for the day.
1 p.m. — I heat up some leftover buffalo chicken pizza for lunch that V. (#2 on my roster) ordered on Saturday and make myself a third cup of coffee…coffee is good for you right?!
5:30 p.m. — I get stuck online later than I had planned and miss the hot yoga class I was going to go to tonight, so I decide to keep the momentum going and work until 6:30 so I can make it to hot yoga at a different studio. I forgot that my gas light came on during my drive home from O.'s this morning so I stop to get gas and cross my fingers I won't be late to class. $33.67
7 p.m. — By a stroke a good luck, I find a parking spot close to the studio. I check into class and am happy to see that I still have five classes left in my package, so I won't need to buy more this time (student price $80/10 classes typically lasts me three or four weeks).
9 p.m. — Home to shower off the sweat and make a quick sandwich for dinner with chicken breast, pepper jack cheese, spinach, and habanero mayo before brushing my teeth and doing my simple nighttime beauty routine (Pixi Glow Tonic Cleansing Gel, Clindamycin 1% lotion, and CeraVe moisturizer).
11:30 p.m. — I catch up on a few shows, turn my TV off (I can't fall sleep with any lights or noise), toss and turn for 45 minutes, and realize it's gonna be another sleepless night unless I take something. I cross my fingers and hope one of the Valerian Root supplements works or it's going to be a shitty day at work tomorrow. I fall asleep somewhere around 2, unsure if it's the Valerian Root assisting or not.
Daily Total: $33.67

Day Three

8 a.m. — I don't remember hearing my alarm going off this morning or snoozing it this long… I sluggishly get out of bed and try to get the dog to go outside in the rain, but he's not having it; we're clearly on the same page this morning. I realize that I'm going to be extra late if I take the bus so I drive to the parking lot closest to the trolley station and park there for the day. The trolley arrives ~15 minutes later and I'm off to work (I use my pre-loaded card).
8:45 a.m. — Mobile order from the Starbucks in the bottom of my office building while boarding the trolley. I can already tell I'm going to need the extra caffeine today so rather than my typical Venti Cold Brew I opt for a Venti Iced Blonde Americano (with two pumps of Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce, one pump Sugar-Free Vanilla). My balance is low so I reload my Starbucks account. $25
11 a.m. — My tattoo artist posted a last-minute opening on his Instagram story last night. I've been eyeing up a drawing on his Halloween flash sheet for a few weeks now and it feels like fate, so I call the studio to make an appointment. While I'm on the phone scheduling an appointment, he waives the deposit (typically $100) since he knows I won't back out and texts me that he's excited to see me for our appointment.
1:30 p.m. — One of my work friends had a birthday yesterday, so my boss stopped at a bakery on the way back from her meeting this afternoon and got cupcakes for our team. We sing "Happy Birthday" and eat decadent cupcakes while ignoring our work for 20 minutes. I try to get back to work, but despite having a sugar high from the cupcake, I can't concentrate.
4:15 p.m. — I pack up my bag to work from home again tomorrow and stop at the ATM to grab cash to tip my tattoo artist before catching the trolley back to the parking lot to pick up my car ($8). It's starting to get cold out, so I decide to check out the sweater selection at the Salvation Army. I end up buying six sweaters ($26). $34
6 p.m. — I cook myself some chicken breast, spinach, pesto pasta, and whole wheat garlic bread for dinner. I relax with a glass of wine that V. bought me on Friday and eat my dinner while watching an episode of American Horror Story 1984. I also text with my best friend, H., about plans for the weekend. I got scheduled to work at my part-time serving job on Saturday for the college football homecoming game but still agree to go to a Halloween party with H. on Friday.
11:30 p.m. — I do tonight's skincare routine. I also take another Valerian Root supplement pill (I'm still not sure if it works but I'm willing to give anything a try). I scroll through social media and dating apps until I fall asleep around midnight (right now my goal is to build a roster, not look for love).
Daily Total: $59

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — The first of many alarms go off. I snooze this alarm and call my dog in from his bed on the couch to snuggle with me until I start working. I plop myself down on the couch and log onto the network around 8. I don't have any meetings today so I will be able to breeze through my work rather quickly.
12 p.m. — Instead of taking my designated half-hour for lunch, I pack up my laptop and head to my dad's house to do the laundry that I've accumulated over the past two weeks. Text O. and make plans to spend the night with him again tonight.
5 p.m. — I get home and my dog is all over me because he can smell my dad's puppy. I feel bad for leaving him along for half of the day, so we take a long walk before it gets dark outside. Once we're back, I heat up a chipotle chicken sausage and roast Brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, and Marie Sharp's Habanero Pepper sauce (I brought home a ton of this hot sauce from my trip to Belize last April, it's delicious). O. texts me and says that he's done with work and to come over whenever, so I shower and head over to his place around 8.
9 p.m. — O. sets an alarm for 5 a.m. tomorrow so he can go to the gym before work — just the thought of this makes me want to cry. I remind him that even though I'm working from home tomorrow, I have a 9 a.m. meeting that I can't miss, so I won't still be in his bed when he gets back. O. and I have sex and are asleep by 10 because we're basically an old married couple.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 a.m. — O. is still in bed when I wake up to go to the bathroom, either he went to the gym and came back already, or he skipped again. I don't care either way because I still get my morning snuggles. I have enough time to stop and get a fancy coffee from my favorite coffee shop on my way home ($7.50) and still make it online in. time for our weekly team meeting. In typical fashion, we bullshit for 20 minutes before diving in. It's great working from home, but being the only person on the phone for this meeting is frustrating — it feels like I'm constantly interrupting someone else when I have input on a topic. $7.50
12:30 p.m. — Eat a quick snack (spicy hummus, pretzel thins, and carrots). I log off work for the day to head to my tattoo appointment. Since I worked this morning, my team doesn't have to cover anything for me, which I'm sure they all appreciate because we've been swamped recently.
3 p.m. — I'm one of those people who doesn't mind the feeling of getting stabbed a bunch of times in the name of art, but the back of my arm feels like it's on fire. My tattoo artist mentions during our conversation that he's tattooing at the Expo again next year and since we've been working on my sleeve together, we plan for him to do my next tattoo while there!
5 p.m. — We're finally done! We take pictures of my newest addition for Instagram and wrap up my arm, so the ink doesn't bleed on my clothes on the ride home. I pay the receptionist ($380 including tip), give my artist a big hug, and plan to meet up with him in January to get an idea down for my next tattoo. I'm down the street from a friend's house and remember that I've had her son's birthday present in my car for a month, so I swing by her place to drop it off on my drive home. $380
9 p.m. — I must have accidentally dozed off when I got home earlier — I always forget how exhausting getting tattooed can be. I unwrap my tattoo to wash it and apply coconut oil, then complete my nightly routine and go to sleep early.
Daily Total: $387.50

Day Six

8 a.m. — I get ready for work and am able to catch the bus since I'm not running late and am at my desk by 8:30. Half of my team is off work today and it feels like a ghost town in the office.
11 a.m. — I spend my morning catching up on emails. It's the last day for the farmers market in the park by my office, so those of us who are at work today take a quick walk over to grab lunch. I get a giant stuffed zucchini with lemon dill sauce. We all agree that it's too cold to eat lunch outside today so back to our desks we go. $8
4 p.m. — I leave work a little early and stop at the pharmacy to pick up my prescription on my way to the bus stop. Public transportation is the worst — two seemingly drunk people are screaming at each other the entire ride to South Side. $20
4:45 p.m. — I want to let my hair air dry as much as possible so I shower as soon as I walk in the door. I rarely wear make-up, so I try not to go over the top even though I'm going to a Halloween party (primer, matte foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, highlighter, brow gel, and mascara). I also curl my hair with my wand.
7 p.m. — H. texts that she just ordered Chinese for us, so I request an Uber to her apartment to eat dinner and pregame. We eat dinner then get changed into our black bodysuits and leather skirts. Apparently, we're being Charlie's Angels tonight, but you'd have no idea because this is a normal going out outfit for me. $12
9 p.m. — After a few drinks at her place, H. gets us an Uber to the party. Since I have to be up early, so I set several alarms and cross my fingers that I don't sleep through my shift.
11 p.m. — Tequila makes everything better, but I don't know anyone at this party since they're all H.'s coworkers. After a few hours, I request an Uber home and am in bed by midnight. $15
Daily Total: $55

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I'm pretty sure I'm still drunk… this is gonna be a long day. I throw my hair up in a ponytail, brush my teeth, and do the same make-up routine as yesterday. Since I was out drinking last night and parking will be insane near the stadium, I request an Uber to the bar and somehow make it there early. It's been over a year since I've worked a college football game and I can't say I'm looking forward to it. $11
8:30 a.m. — My friend/co-worker N. and I order Starbucks from Postmates — we use my account and she Venmo's me her half ($8). Customers start to pour into the bar around 9:30 to drink before the football game. $8
12 p.m. — The football game starts and just like that, the section of the bar that I'm scheduled in is dead. It's been drizzling on and off all morning and starts to rain around 1, so all of a sudden it picks up again.
5 p.m. — I was supposed to double today, but it's not looking like it's going to be crazy busy after the rush we had for the game this morning, so I get cut early. My friend/co-worker B. and I haven't seen each other in a couple of weeks, so we agree to stay and drink together after our shifts. I wait for my last two tables to close out their tabs, do my side work, tip out the bar, and clock out around 6:30.
7 p.m. — Since I started before B. this morning, I get cut before her, so I sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders until she's done. I order a Blue Moon from D. (my other best friend/best bartender ever). She won't let me pay and puts this drink on her comp tab. Typically I wouldn't stay at the bar so long, but I promised I would wait for B. to get off work so I down a couple more Blue Moons while I wait.
8:30 p.m. — B. is finally off work so we can play! B.'s boyfriend joins us after his shift around 10. We all agree that it's been a shitty day, so I order a round of Lemon Drop Shots for the three of us. $30.50
12 a.m. — V. has been texting me to meet up all day and I remember that he mentioned he would be at another bar down the street for their Halloween Party tonight. D. refuses to charge me for my beers or let me tip her on my card so I leave cash on the bar when I leave ($20). V. and I have a few drinks at the next bar (cue fuzzy tequila brain), but I've had a long day, so we get an uber home (V. pays). Brush teeth, wash face, pass out. $20
Daily Total: $69.50
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