A Week In Baltimore, MD, On A $50,000 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 Communications Manager who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on The Knight Bus lego set.
Occupation: Communications Manager
Industry: Non-profit
Age: 29
Location: Baltimore, MD
Salary: $50,000
Net Worth: I have $5,000 (my fiancé and I keep separate finances and have each had setbacks lately)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,463.36
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $825 (my half for our three-bedroom, two full bath, two half bath townhouse we own)
Car Loan: $364 (will be paid off in July)
Utilities: ~$150 (I pay for gas and electric)
Internet/Cable: $0 (paid for by partner)
Health Insurance/Dental/Vision: $39.15 (changes during this MD)
Car Insurance: $0 (my parents keep me on their plan because it saves them money, apparently)
Gym: $19.99
Netflix: Thanks, mom and dad
Spotify/Hulu: $10
HelloFresh: $51.92
Audible: $115/annually
Apple Storage: $0.99
Retirement: $104.46 (2x/month from paycheck, company matches 7%)
Donations: I donate sporadically, usually to animal shelters, the YellowHammerFund, and the Immigration Counseling Service (which provides minors in immigration custody free legal representation in court so they don't have to defend themselves.)

Day One

7:01 a.m. — I wake up what feels like suddenly, seeing as my alarm isn't set to go off for another 45-ish minutes. I roll over, cuddle up to C. and realize that I'm definitely not going to be able to fall back asleep because I'm too excited about today. C. and I are getting married! It's a quicky wedding. We're already engaged and our wedding date is set for 2021, but the job he started in February doesn't let him get insurance until six months of employment and since his business is considered “essential” during the pandemic, we want to get him on mine as quickly as possible. So, we were granted an emergency marriage license by the state of Maryland and found an officiant to marry us today. I pick up my phone and check social media, my emails, and just lay in bed.
8 a.m. — Since I'm working remotely (and have been for a few weeks), I take a quick shower, wash my hair (you gotta have clean hair on your wedding day…), and do my full makeup so I don't have to worry about it later. I use Philosophy moisturizer, tinted cream, Tarte shape tape concealer under my eyes, Mario Badescu powder, eyeliner, eyebrows, a slight contour and blush to my cheeks, mascara, and highlighter. I throw on comfortable pants, a white tank top, a pink sweater, and my slippers and go into my home office to start up my laptop. I then brush my teeth, make our bed, and put on my engagement ring. Before settling into a busy morning, I go downstairs to feed the cats, make some coffee, and grab a banana. I swear we're busier than ever now that we're fully remote.
11:45 a.m. — C. brings me some lunch upstairs: crackers, ham, cheese, and Doritos. He ran out to the stores earlier to look for a few items we needed and found everything but toilet paper. Of course. I make sure he disinfects all of it and then himself with a shower. Our officiant texts me to confirm we're meeting her at a local park at 1:30 and to give me the write-up of what our mini ceremony will include. I ask C. to please venmo her the $35 before we leave. He's paying her because I paid the $35 for our emergency marriage license last week.
12:45 p.m. — After I wrap up work, I put some curls in my hair, throw on a semi-white dress, a jean jacket, a pendant my late grandfather brought home from Italy when he was 18 and in the army, the ring I had made from my grandmother's engagement and wedding rings, and some cute white mules. I have old (necklace and ring), new (my engagement ring — we got engaged in February), blue (jean jacket), and I borrow a dollar from C. We grab the paperwork, some Clorox wipes, and bolt out the door.
1:30 p.m. — We arrive at the park and find our officiant. I hate that I can't hug her. I'm a hugger. But maintaining social distancing is more important. We find a cute blossoming tree with a bench underneath, wipe it down as best we can, and start. The ceremony is simple, short, and over before I feel like we can process what just happened. Our officiant fills out the papers, takes a few pictures of us, and we're done! We get back in the car and call my mom. Only my mom and dad know about this. Since we're having a big wedding in 2021, we want that to be what people remember, so this is ours to have and cherish. We stop at Sonic on the way home for a milkshake to share (because I've been craving one for weeks) and we end up getting corn dogs and tots, too. I pay. $11.71
2:45 p.m. — At home, we change back into comfy clothes and spend a little extra time upstairs. After, we eat our corndogs and drink our milkshake and eat, chatting. We then pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate and finish the last two episodes of Tiger King.
5:50 p.m. — I FaceTime my sister so I can talk to her and her kids. I don't tell her about our wedding and I feel very guilty about that. After we hang up, I do a little cleaning around the living room while C. starts dinner. I throw on a playlist that I made after we got engaged with wedding songs (LOL) and dance around to Let's Get Married Remix by Jagged Edge and RUN DMC while cleaning. We started doing HelloFresh two weeks before quarantine began and tonight we're doing a Mexican chicken and sausage stir fry thing. I help C. cut up everything and make the sauce and salsa. It's so tasty.
8:15 p.m. — My friend B. asks if we wanted to play virtual Cards Against Humanity, and we agree. She sets up a Zoom call and the game on some website. There are six of us and it's really fun! We drink and play for a few hours. I end up winning!!!! We stay up a little longer and chat before we take out the trash. Thankfully we remembered this week! I kiss C. goodnight, go upstairs, and do my nightly routine: brush my teeth, makeup wipe, Glossier jelly cleanser, night cream, under eye cream, chapstick, and sleepy lotion. I get into bed, set my alarms, and turn on an episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch on Hulu. I don't end up falling asleep until after midnight.
Daily Total: $11.71

Day Two

4:40 a.m. — I bolt up in bed because I could have sworn I heard one of the cats throwing up. I'm a very light sleeper. C. must have fallen asleep downstairs because he's not in bed. I get up, pee, and go check the house to see if one of them threw up, but can't find anything. I then make sure C. is alive (he is, and snoring away). I go back to bed and cuddle with the cats, but can't fall asleep until close to 6.
8:33 a.m. — I wake up, tired, and drag myself into the bathroom for a shower. I skip hair washing because I can usually go four days without it and there's still some curl left from yesterday. I then brush my teeth, make the bed, and put on moisturizer, a tiny bit of mascara, and a little fill in my brows since I have a few Zoom meetings today. I head downstairs, feed and water the cats, make coffee, fill my giant mason jar of water, eat a banana, and go back up to my office to start work at 9.
12:45 p.m. — Lunch! I go downstairs where C. made me a tuna melt with a side of Doritos and an apple. We eat lunch together and chat about if there's anyone else we want to tell about our little wedding. After cleaning up, I go back upstairs and start working on the insurance paperwork to get C. onto my health insurance. I chat with my HR person and she is so happy for us and super helpful. We get everything settled, she gives me my new premium ($134.60 per paycheck, ouch), and she says she'll send me confirmation once it's done and he'll get his cards in about a week. So that taken care of! We're done just in time for our daily 2 p.m. staff Zoom call.
6:15 p.m. — Today was long and rough. There's just so much going on right now on top of my usual work, so it's exhausting. Plus, I can't stop thinking about wedding planning. I don't want to be a bridezilla, because I like to be liked. My therapist and I are working on it. I go downstairs where C. has already started to cook the shrimp and grits from our HelloFresh box. He says he has it under control tonight and doesn't need my help, so I grab my water and go and sit down to watch a dumb makeup contest show on Netflix. It's British, and I just love how they talk and call each other “babe.” I want to start doing that, alright babe? I check my personal email and see we were charged for next week's HelloFresh. I think this is our last week with a discount and next week it will go up. After I clean up dinner, I make C. come on a walk with me around the neighborhood for some fresh air.
8:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with my family for a long while, and when my sister gets off, my parents and I discuss our wedding budget. With venue, dress, food and bar service, we're already more than 75% of the way through our budget. We still need flowers, photographer/videographer, C.'s suit, hair and makeup, DJ, transportation, hotel rooms, invitations, favors, decorations, and some other stuff. I want to throw up.
10:50 p.m. — I have been up in bed researching vendors since I got off the phone with my mom. I find some good photographer and hair/makeup options and follow them on Instagram. I found a great hair/makeup person for a great price that I'm excited about. I realize it's getting late, so I do my nightly routine and get back in bed. I still can't turn off my brain, though. I stupidly pull out my laptop and keep looking at vendors, specifically florists. I know it's early and I don't need to find everyone right away, but with all the people postponing and rescheduling wedding dates, I'm worried things will get scooped up faster. My planner already said on her Instagrams that it's kind of happening and it's not too early to look.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I wake up to my blaring alarm. At some point last night I made sure to change it so I could maximize my sleep. I think I drifted off a little before 5, so I got about three and a half hours… I get up and do my morning routine, grab coffee, a banana, and get to work.
12:30 p.m. — My team does MWF calls around lunch to check-in. I actually enjoy these because I love my team. After our meeting, I go downstairs to get a second cup of coffee and make a salad. Eating lunch at home every day has been hard. I usually buy my lunches at a place near my office. I miss those lunches.
5:35 p.m. — I finally finished all the trademark requirements, and send them off before I log out for the day. I go downstairs where C. is getting ready to cook our last HelloFresh for the week, Pork Luau Bowls. I help him do some of the cooking before digging in. They so good! We settle in and start watching The Witcher. We watch a few episodes, all while fielding calls from our families who keep checking in.
9 p.m. — I kiss C. and head upstairs to bed. He calls me old and lame since it's Friday night and I'm crashing so early. But he comes up into the bedroom about 30 minutes after I finish my nightly routine and gets in bed. We turn on Parks and Rec reruns for him to watch while I pass out. I end up forcing myself to stay awake to watch Ron and Diane's wedding because it's seriously one of my favorite moments of the show.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up to my big cat sitting on my chest purring. Such a momma's boy. I get up, take a quick shower, brush my teeth, and put on blue joggers, a college t-shirt, and slippers. I go downstairs and make myself a coffee. C. comes down around 11:30 and I convince him we should order brunch for pick-up to support one of our favorite local restaurants. We call to place our order. I get a $5 liter mimosa and one of their specials (two chocolate chip pancakes, two pieces of sausage, and toast). C. also gets a mimosa and their breakfast sandwich (bacon, egg, cheddar, tomato, dijon aioli on sourdough, and breakfast potatoes). I pay and C. goes out to pick it up. $52.60
1 p.m. — After brunch, we're both tired from the mimosas. C. has been rewatching DragonBall while I've been working, and he wants to keep watching it now, so I go upstairs to lay in bed and watch Parks and Rec. I want to make a spreadsheet with all the vendors we might want to work with, so I start that. I write down their names, price ranges, services, comments/thoughts, and links to their websites. As I'm doing that, my childhood best friend calls to check-in. We talk for a long time, catching up and laughing. She tells me our favorite childhood video game, The Sims, is on sale for $5. I buy and download it. $5
5 p.m. — I can smell C. cooking downstairs. I go down to help. We have chicken, veggies, and noodles. It's really good. C. does most of the cooking in our house and I typically take care of clean-up. We settle into the living room and watch another episode or two of The Witcher. I remember that next weekend is my nephew's sixth birthday and C.'s 30th. It breaks my heart that I won't be able to go home and spend my nephew's birthday with him like I have every year before. We switch on Parks and Rec so C. can play video games. I go in search of Nintendo Money and a cool Lego kit for my nephew. I find a Harry Potter Knight Bus Lego set on Walmart that's cute and a book called Scranimals that my sister can do some cute projects with after they read it. Sadly, it won't get to them until a week after his birthday. $48.22
9:50 p.m. — I decide to go upstairs and lay in bed while C. continues to play video games and drink beer virtually with his buddies. I do my nightly routine (minus teeth brushing because I'm really hungry), run back downstairs to grab some lightly salted pringles and an apple, and go back up to bed. I don't like eating in bed, and until about a month ago I hadn't had a TV in the bedroom, but C. bought a 75-inch TV with his tax return and I refused to get rid of the other perfectly good TV. I decide to finally watch To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. It's so cute and I love it. I'm totally team PK. I clean up my snack, brush my teeth, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $105.82

Day Five

2:30 a.m. — A drunk C. comes to bed and wakes me up to tell me how excited he is that he bought a second Apple TV from Amazon, but he made it an Amazon Fresh order because it can be delivered sooner. I put in my earplugs and fall back asleep.
8 a.m. — I wake up to C.'s panic voice saying my name. I sit up startled and try to figure out what's wrong. He keeps telling me to look at his hands. He's having some sort of panic attack/allergic reaction and his hands are slightly swollen and he has a few hives. I get him calmed down a little bit, get some Benadryl and water, and get him in bed. The medicine starts to work and he calms down. I lay in bed with him and rub his back until he falls back asleep.
10:30 a.m. — I sneak off downstairs to let C. get some rest after brushing my teeth, washing my face and throwing on sweats and a t-shirt. I feed the cats, make some coffee, and check my email. I have an email from my wedding coordinator about a call we set up for today at 1. I'm excited! I haven't really had a chance to talk to her yet. I also text C.'s mom to let her know he's having a rough day. She calls and says she's going to the store this afternoon and asks if we need anything. I tell her if she sees toilet paper, we'll take some. I get a big bowl of cheerios with a cut up banana and turn on First Wives Club.
1 p.m. — My planner, F., calls. Talking to her has relieved 97% of the panic I was feeling earlier this week. I'm so glad I hired her. She gives me some leads of who I can talk to for a DJ and a florist. Her DJ recommendation can also serve as our “officiant” since we don't need a real one, we can just pay him a little extra and they can tack that into their service. As soon as we hang up, C.'s mom calls me. The bank she works for is treating their employees to pizza. Each employee is getting a pizza delivered to their home. She apparently just ate pizza last night and offers to bring it over to us on her way to the store. SCORE! I eat two pieces when she drops it off, and I take one upstairs for C.
6:30 p.m. — I hear C. moving around upstairs. He gets in the shower and I go up to quickly pull the sheets off the bed. I try to wash/change our sheets every Sunday. I run into the basement to the laundry room to throw these ones in then run back upstairs to put on clean ones before he's out in case he wants to get back into bed, which he does. I decide to make some “elevated” ramen. I add the packet of spices but also add a few other spices, chopped green onion, some sprouts we have in the fridge, carrots, sriracha, and hoisin sauce. It's delicious. My sister and baby niece Facetime while I'm eating to show me that she learned how to wave when you say “hello” or “bye-bye.” I tell my sister we got married and she's happy for us but sad she wasn't there.
8 p.m. — As I'm standing over the pizza trying to decide if I'm still hungry/want another piece, C. comes downstairs. He lays on the other side of the couch and we talk for a while. I bring up him starting to see someone about his anxiety and depression and he agrees he should. I email my therapist for a recommendation. When we're done talking, I realize it's almost 10 and I'm exhausted. I kiss C., quickly run out to his car to grab the CBD gummies he keeps there since the ones we keep in the house are gone (and hope none of the neighbors see my braless boobs flopping around as I run up/down the steps), then go upstairs to shower, do my nightly routine, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — Usual morning activities: wake up, morning routine, a tiny bit of makeup, get dressed (flowy/comfy blue pants, white long sleeve t-shirt), make bed, feed cats, make coffee, grab a banana, get to work. I have a busy day ahead of me trying to write our printed newsletter, which in turn won't be printed, but published as a PDF since we've eliminated printed materials during the pandemic. It's scary because printed materials are a big part of my job. I do much more, but it's something that I worry about. I also have a meeting with my boss today about updating my job description (which we do yearly).
9:22 a.m. — My therapist emails me back and gives us a great recommendation for a guy she's worked with and sent patients to before. I get C. all his insurance info and he calls the guy's office. They can squeeze him in today at 4!
10:30 a.m. — Time for the meeting with my boss, V. She tells me that she's putting me up for a promotion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been working here for four years and I got a small promotion after my first year, but it's been in the works for me to hopefully get another one. I could throw up. We hop off the call and I do a little dance around my office. I have another meeting with two girls on my team about someone from another department who is causing issues. I give them advice and help them create an alternative plan. I feel like I'm on fire today.
3:55 p.m. — I get up to find some headphones and to let C. know I'm putting them in so he can have his session in private. As I'm working and jammin' out to 90's pop, my friend, L., texts me to say we made a deal to start working out every day starting today. SHIT. I tell her I'll start as soon as I'm done with work for the day.
5:20 p.m. — DONE. I got a lot done today. I was riding high after my meeting with V. I check in on C., and he's still super anxious but said his session was really good and he's going to do more. I gather my box of workout stuff, weights, yoga mat, bands, etc., change, and go into the basement living room to workout. I pull up my Mari Fitness Home Guides (shoutout to all you other Mari girls).
6:45 p.m. — I think I've died. I'm so out of shape, but it feels so good at the same time. L. calls me and we agree to the same time tomorrow. I'm glad I have someone who can keep me accountable. I go upstairs and heat up one of the many frozen meals we bought at the beginning of the pandemic. I eat and chat with C. before going upstairs to take a shower and wash my hair. I'm still so hungry after my shower, so I got back downstairs and get two cookies and a small glass of lactose-free milk. C.'s brother calls to talk to us and we decide to tell him about our wedding. He's super happy about it and says to me “Well, I was already calling you my sister anyway.” Cue the waterworks. He lets us know that he's going to make a run to the store SUPER early tomorrow and asks if we want anything. We tell him toilet paper. He says he'll drop off whatever he gets us at the front door sometime tomorrow morning.
10 p.m. — It's been a long day and I'm ready for bed. I go upstairs for my nightly routine, get in bed, turn on Sabrina on Hulu and attempt to braid my hair so it'll be kinky tomorrow. They look pretty good to me. I turn off the lights and C. comes into bed not long after.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:59 a.m. — I wake up one minute before my alarm and lay in bed for another 20 minutes because I'm so comfortable. I get up and do my morning routine: brush teeth, wash face, light moisturizer, toner, minimal makeup, make bed (C. was up before me), get dressed (grey flowy shirt, black leggings), make coffee, feed cats, eat a banana. I also realize I never switched the laundry and rewash everything in the washer so it doesn't smell mildewy. I then get to work.
9:30 a.m. — C.'s brother drops off 12 rolls of Cottonelle toilet paper, a pound of ground beef, two tins of tuna, and three boxes of tissues. I get everything off the porch, wipe it down, and put it away before I send him a text to say thank you. Work is busy this morning. After fielding a bunch of emails and calls, I decide to pre-order C. his favorite food for his birthday this week: CRABS! Thankfully, our favorite crab place is still doing to-go orders. I place an order for two dozen seasoned and steamed medium female blue crabs to be picked up on Saturday afternoon. $78
12 p.m. — C. is feeling a lot better today. He makes and delivers me a late breakfast/lunch of cream chipped beef over toast and leftover potatoes from Saturday's dinner. It's delicious. Please don't hate on cream chipped beef until you've tried GOOD cream chipped beef.
1:50 p.m. — I pull out my phone for a quick social media break. On Instagram, I see the BARCS (Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter) posted about a dog they found yesterday morning who weighs only 17 lbs when she should weigh 40-50 lbs. This breaks my heart and it's completely sickening. I go to their website and donate $20 towards her recovery and costs, crying while I do it. I then force cuddle the big cat for a solid five minutes. $20
5:35 p.m. — I wrap up for the day and call my mom. She tells me she found an unused, never opened N95 mask in the garage and put it in the mail for C. when he goes back to work, along with some plastic gloves. After we hang up, I get changed and go downstairs for my workout. C. is having a rough afternoon, he has some weird lump in his throat that's making it hurt to swallow and he feels a burning sensation. He tells me that I should go do my workout, and he'll be fine.
6:20 p.m. — I text L. to let her know I did my workout today, chug some water, and go upstairs to ice my knees (they swell like basketballs if I don't). C. is still struggling, and as soon as I sit down to ice, he decides he needs to go to urgent care. I quickly change, grab a homemade bandana “mask” for each of us and go with him in case he needs a driver. When we get there, he goes in alone and I wait in the car (per the recommendation on the urgent care website) and browse my phone. I see that this local artist is doing a flash sale for $20 custom prints and there's only 10. I quickly snag one because I missed the last time she did this. $20
7:30 p.m. — C. calls and says they need me to come in, get a mask from the front desk, and come back to his room to prove I'm there and capable of driving him home. They're giving him the “Pink Goddess” GI cocktail since his EKG was normal and they think his anxiety amplified his GI/indigestion issues. I sign him out, and we wait for the prescription for Xanax that they're giving him which will last for 10 days. He makes an appointment with a psychotherapist on Thursday and another appointment with his therapist, too. We quickly run over to Walgreens next door, get the prescription filled out, and I grab a birthday card and a bag of white cheddar baked Cheetos. $12.98
8:30 p.m. — When we're home, we both jump into the shower to get cleaned off, wipe down everything we brought home, and throw our clothes in the washer (and I move the sheets to the dryer…whoops). I then make us both some rice, tuna, and spicy wasabi aioli mix that we like. C. eats just the rice and tuna, no spicy wasabi aioli, which is smart. We sit and watch some Parks and Rec before going upstairs to go to bed. I do my nightly routine and get into bed. As I'm drifting off, I remember we need to place our Safeway order. I grab my laptop and C. and I order apples, hotdogs, buns, yogurt, chicken, k-cups, banana nut muffin mix, milk, eggs, a few frozen meals, lettuce, tomatoes, onion, ice cream bars, and a few other items. I put my computer down, turn off the lights, kiss C. goodnight and go to sleep as I start to hear the beginning rumbles of a thunderstorm. $58.81
Daily Total: $189.79
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