Money Diaries logo

A Week In Central Kentucky On A $61,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a copy editor who makes $61,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Beats by Dre wireless headphones.
Occupation: Copy Editor/Writer
Industry: Agriculture
Age: 33
Location: Central Kentucky
Salary: $61,000
Net Worth: $149,295 (checking: $11,730, savings: $25,733, 401(k): $19,787, investment portfolio/mutual funds: $56,320, Roth IRA: $35,725)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,510
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $450 for my half ($900 total). My twin sister and I live together in a rented two-bed, one-bath house.
Electric/Water/Gas: $146.65 (split with sister)
TV/Internet: $29.99 (split with sister)
Lawn Service: $40 (we're supposed to pay this every month, but the people who cut our grass sometimes weirdly forget to bill us — last year, we ended up just paying a lump sum at the end of the season)
Hulu/Disney+/ESPN+: $13.99
Netflix: $16.79 (paid for by sister)
Peacock: $4.99
Cell Phone: On our parents' family plan
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
There was absolutely an expectation to attend college, as both of my parents spent their entire careers in higher education and my sister and I grew up on college campuses. My dad was the first person in his family to go to college, and he values education and learning more than anything, so I understood how important higher education was from a very early age. I attended the liberal arts college in my hometown and also got a master's degree. I am extremely fortunate that, as part of my dad's job package, my sister and I received tuition remission for attending the college where he worked, and he and my mom paid the remaining room and board. My parents also helped me pay in part for graduate school. I have no student loan debt through no hard work of my own, and I do not take that for granted.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't talk about money very much, but I was definitely aware that my mom and dad worked very hard to give us the lives that we had and that they did not grow up with the same privileges that my sister and I did. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived through the Depression, so my parents are very frugal. I definitely always knew that you don't just spend money willy-nilly; you make investments in items and use them until they are completely worn out. When my sister and I were babies, my dad came into some money that he and my mom decided to invest for us. Those investments have grown substantially over time, and we were always aware of them and gradually became more involved in making decisions about that money. We got our first checking and saving accounts in high school, but our parents didn't talk to us very much about how we should use that money — I think they knew we wouldn't be irresponsible with it.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
It wasn't an official job, per se, but I started dog-sitting for various people in our town when I was in seventh grade — and I'm still doing that 20 years later! Dog-sitting was my only job until college, when I was hired as a copy editor for the student newspaper.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I am very fortunate to say that I did not. My sister and I were born when our parents were 38 and 40, already well-established in their jobs and beloved by the college community (as in, they had job security). We never saw them struggle and we never had to struggle ourselves.
Do you worry about money now?
I have general anxiety disorder, so I worry about everything, money included. I went through a depressive episode a few months ago that got so bad I considered quitting my job with no other job lined up. I have a good amount of savings and could have made it for a while, but I'm ultimately glad that I decided not to do that, as I like having money and not having to worry about it. I'm still thinking about a career change, but I know that I'll never be able to find another copy-editing job that pays this much — heck, there are few jobs anywhere in Central Kentucky that I would be qualified for that pay this much. My investment portfolios have taken a hit this year, as have many people's, and I worry about that when I get my statements in the mail, but my parents and financial advisor assure me that they'll recover.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself upon graduating from college and getting my first job. I was partly able to do that because housing was part of the job package, which allowed me to save a lot of money in the two years I spent in that role. I burned through my savings in graduate school and while taking a sabbatical from working for a few months (a.k.a. having a nervous breakdown), but I've been able to rebuild it over the past four years. I have what I consider a comfortable financial safety net now. I am also extremely fortunate that my parents set up the investment portfolio for me, as I know that money will someday allow me to buy a house and will be crucial for my retirement.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents paid for my college education and established my mutual fund investment accounts, but I've never received inheritance money from a relative or acquaintance. My dad also bought me a car 10 years ago when I was in graduate school, so I don't have a car payment currently thanks to him.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Ugh, what a terrible night's sleep. Still, I manage to get up 10 minutes earlier than usual. I have been getting to work really late recently, and I want to be a better employee. Eat my breakfast (cereal and milk), get dressed and ready, grab the coffee that I set up last night on a timer, and head out the door at around 7:30. I have a 35-to-40-minute commute, which I don't love, but it does give me the chance to sing really loudly in the car, which can be just as cathartic as therapy.
8:05 a.m. — I get to work a little bit late, but definitely closer to “on time” than I have been recently. I'm grouchy from not getting good sleep last night, so I don't accomplish very much this morning. I snack on a trail mix bar and sea salt truffles from my snack stash before a Teams meeting.
12:30 p.m. — Leave the office for lunch. My go-to choice for lunch lately has been Whole Foods. I get a slice of cheese pizza, a salad from the salad bar, and a seltzer water ($13.29), and I read Smithsonian Magazine while I eat. Then, for the first time in months, I actually do some writing! Not on my fiction manuscript, alas, but on an essay on maladaptive daydreaming that has been percolating a lot in my mind lately. I only write a short paragraph, but it's more than I've done in such a long time! Before I leave Whole Foods, I buy a chocolate chunk cookie ($2). $15.29
1:45 p.m. — I make a decaf coffee K-cup in the office break room and fill up my water bottle before settling into my cubicle for the afternoon. I break into the cookie around 3 p.m.
4:45 p.m. — My mom texts to ask if my twin sister, N., and I want to have takeout with her and my dad tonight under the premise of celebrating the birthday of their mini goldendoodle. We say yes and our dad places an order at a new Greek restaurant in town. I get the falafel wrap. I turn off my computer at 5:08 and pack up my stuff to head out.

5:55 p.m. — I'm passing the Greek restaurant on my way back into town, so I pick up the food before heading to my parents' house. We have a lovely dinner.

7:15 p.m. — I leave my parents' house and head to Kroger to do our weekly grocery shopping. I get vermicelli, canned soup, mayonnaise, orange juice, cereal, bananas, seltzer water, coffee K-cups and snack bars for work, apples, 2% milk for me and oat milk for N., bell peppers, asparagus, tortellini, naan, feta cheese, hummus, banana pudding, Skinny Cow frozen delights, allergy medicine, and fiber gummies. $128.86

8 p.m. — I get home and help N. unload the groceries. I am exhausted. I have been wearing a suit for over 12 hours (the dress code at work is business professional) and am so ready to be in my pajamas. I eat a Skinny Cow chocolate cone while watching an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Then I read for an hour before turning my light off at 10:30.

Daily Total: $144.15

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Got a better night's sleep last night! Same routine this morning as yesterday (my only “beauty” step is putting on CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion), but I leave the house a few minutes later, which means I get to work a few minutes later. Fill up my water bottle before a meeting at 8:30, after which I eat a snack bar from my newly restocked snack drawer and drink the coffee I brought from home.
12:30 p.m. — Didn't bring my lunch again today, so I decide to head down the road to Bob Evans, where I get sweet tea, a veggie omelet, hash browns, and banana nut bread. I write another paragraph of my essay! I'm just getting to the good part when my food arrives; I wish I could write instead of working this afternoon. I finish eating in 45 minutes, so I use the time I have left to call my mom. (I am very adamant about taking my full hour at lunch!) $17.98
1:45 p.m. — I make a decaf K-cup in the break room at work and settle down in my cubicle for the afternoon. It'd be nice to be able to work from home sometimes, but the company is very inflexible about that and wants everyone to be in the office at all times. I think that's going to hurt them in the long run.
4:45 p.m. — I waste a little time at the end of the day looking at wireless Skullcandy headphones on Woot! I need a pair because, even though I've had my new phone for a few months, I only recently realized it doesn't have a headphone jack. When I get to the checkout, though, it tells me that I need to spend $15 to be able to use my $10 off code, and I'm currently at $14.99. For real, y'all?! It's already past 5 at this point, so I'll just figure this out tomorrow.
6:15 p.m. — I get home and change out of my suit and into some joggers before heading to the kitchen to start cooking. I'm making asparagus and tortellini to take for lunch for the next few days, as well as a veggie quesadilla to have for dinner tonight. Chopping veggies takes forever!
7:30 p.m. — I finally get to eat my quesadilla while watching Supernatural, then wash dishes and clean up the kitchen before taking a shower. I watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine while eating a banana pudding cup before reading and turning off my light around 10:30.
Daily Total: $17.98

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Same routine as yesterday, but I somehow manage to leave the house even later today. Guess I'm going to have to start getting up even earlier! I forgot to set up the coffee maker last night, so I make a K-cup coffee in the break room and eat a snack bar before getting down to work.
11:30 a.m. — I buy some cheese and crackers from the fresh market on our floor. I also know that I'm going to want a San Pellegrino with my lunch, so I go ahead and buy one of those, too. $2.12
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I grab my asparagus, tortellini, apple, peanut butter, and San Pellegrino from the fridge and head outside to the patio. I eat with my coworker, S., and after she goes back inside, I read a little more of Smithsonian and just enjoy the sun and the breeze. It'd be a great afternoon for taking a nap in a hammock.
1:45 p.m. — Make my afternoon decaf K-cup.
4:50 p.m. — I go back to my Woot! shopping from yesterday and peruse for other things I could buy so I can use my $10 off coupon (I know spending more to save more is not real, but I'm pretending it is!). I find some Beats by Dre wireless headphones for sale for $40, which is way more than the Skullcandy headphones were, but they have double the battery life, and I've always heard great things about Beats headphones, so I end up ordering them before packing up to head home. $38.15
5:30 p.m. — Stop at the gas station near the office to fill up my tank before starting the journey home. $29.68
6:10 p.m. — Get home and throw together some tuna salad and naan to scarf down before getting back on my computer for my coaching program call at 6:30. It's a nine-week program led by my life coach/personal trainer/yoga guru that meets virtually. There are three other women in the program and we're currently on week six. Tonight we do tapping and clear our heart walls. I haven't been fully committed to the program and the homework because there's some stuff we're doing that I don't quite buy into, but I still go through the motions. Tonight's call goes 20 minutes over our set time and I am so ready to be finished by the time we hang up.
8:20 p.m. — I change into my PJs and watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine while eating a KIND frozen treat bar. Then I just lie in my bed dozing and thinking about life before finally turning off my light around 10:30.
Daily Total: $69.95

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I literally say “No!” out loud when my alarm goes off this morning. Same routine as usual. I manage to leave the house a few minutes earlier today.
8:15 a.m. — Forgot again to set up the coffee pot on a timer last night, so I make a coffee K-cup in the office break room. It's a gloomy day and I'd much rather be curled up in my bed watching true crime, but I've got a 34-page hospitality guidelines booklet to edit, so I have to focus up. I put on some chillhop and get down to business.
12:30 p.m. — Time to break for lunch. It's cooler outside today, so I eat my tortellini, asparagus, apple, and peanut butter in the break room with my coworkers. We talk about how we wish we could work from home. Afterward, I make my usual decaf K-cup and have two sea salt chocolate truffles from my snack drawer for dessert.
4 p.m. — My motivation has run out, so I look at a few purses online that I've been trying to choose between for weeks. I only own/use one purse at a time, and the loop holding the crossbody strap to my current purse recently broke. Since I am a “give me a crossbody strap or give me death” kind of person, I am desperate to get a new purse, but I am so indecisive! I've been looking at expensive options that seem very well-made in the hopes that they will last for years to come. I still haven't been able to come to a decision by the end of the workday. Maybe tomorrow.
6:10 p.m. — I get home from work and am putting together some naan, havarti and blueberries for dinner when N. and I get into a big fight. She says a little comment, I say a little comment, and it just blows up. At one point, she says she doesn't think we should live together anymore. I am shocked by this and the whole thing really upsets me. I am very much an introvert and I don't really have much of a social life outside of her, so if she moves out, there's a real possibility that I will go full recluse. I cry really hard. We eventually both apologize, but this was probably one of the worst fights we've ever had.
7:30 p.m. — Take a shower, put on my CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, then watch Bodyguard and Brooklyn Nine-Nine while eating a Skinny Cow cone. I read a little bit before turning my light off around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Same routine as usual, but I can't stop thinking about the fight last night with N. and start to cry again as I'm getting ready. (I should qualify this by saying that I'm a big crier, so it doesn't take much to set me off.) I really just want to get back in bed, but I make myself go to work. The universe is telling me I should have stayed home: There's a car partially blocking our driveway (a note left on the windshield said the battery died), and once I eventually get on the road, I get stuck behind a car accident. I cry some more in the car. I can't help but feel like N.'s life would be better without me. I'm so dependent on her, but I think I hold her back. I don't know where to go from here.
11 a.m. — I did okay for a while this morning, but now I'm crying again and hoping no one stops by my cubicle. I eventually go to a phone booth and call my mom. She helps me calm down a little, but I'm still upset, and all of this crying has worn me out.
12:15 p.m. — My boss sends me a message complimenting me on my editing; I feel like she must have seen me crying and just wants to cheer me up. I leave to get lunch a few minutes later since I didn't bring my lunch today. I go to a sushi restaurant where I get their lunch special. I get a Philadelphia roll, a shrimp tempura roll, and a salad with sesame-honey dressing. I write a little bit while waiting for my food to come. $24.66
1:45 p.m. — I'm already late to get back to work, but I am still exhausted from emoting so much, so I run to a local coffee shop to get a cortado with their signature syrup (featuring cinnamon, vanilla, and honey). I also get an oatmeal cream pie. $9.45
4:45 p.m. — On Fridays, I usually bring food back from somewhere for me and N. to have for dinner. We are both so indecisive that choosing can be like pulling teeth, but we decide to go for P.F. Chang's tonight. I place an order online for two orders of chicken pad Thai and N. also gets egg drop soup. I also get us some veggie spring rolls. I plug in my iPod (yes, my iPod! Going strong since 2007!) for the drive back home and do some very loud singing, as well as some fist-pumping to “C'est La Vie” by B*Witched — those Irish flutes get me every time! $55.66
6:30 p.m. — Finally arrive at our house with the food. N. and I eat while watching Hawaii Five-O on Ion, which has become something of a Friday evening ritual for us. The food is good, as per usual.
7:30 p.m. — When we're finished eating, I put my leftovers in the fridge and get ready to dogsit. I pack a small bag and N. and I ride over to the dog's house together. We all hang out and watch some more Hawaii Five-O until around 10:30. Then, after taking the dog out one last time, N. and I read (we're both sleeping in the owners' king-sized bed) and chat before going to sleep around 11:20.
Daily Total: $89.77

Day Six

7 a.m. — N. gets up to take the dog outside. I should get up, too, but I stay in bed snoozing until 9:50. I eat a Pop-Tart from the owners' pantry before getting ready to meet up with T., my life coach/personal trainer, at her yoga studio.
11 a.m. — I drop N. off at our house on my way to meet up with T. It is a beautiful day, so we take a walk and then do some yoga together when we get back to her studio. It's nice to talk to her about the past few days and she gives me some good advice about how N. and I can deal with conflict in healthier and more helpful ways in the future.
12:35 p.m. — When I'm finished with T., I call N. to see if she wants me to pick up lunch for us. We decide to get sandwiches and fruit cups from a very cute bakery/deli downtown. I also get us two of their cupcakes. I bring the food back home, and N. and I eat while watching Animals Unscripted on the Pet Collective. My sandwich is banging, and the cupcakes, which we split, are delicious. $33.96
2:30 p.m. — I keep watching Animals Unscripted while N. takes a shower, and when she's out, we head back over to the dog's house again. N. takes her out and we play with her for a little while. Then, even though I had plenty of sleep last night, I take a nap. I set my phone timer for 45 minutes but I end up sleeping more than two hours.
5:30 p.m. — I finally get up. N. feeds the dog and then we go back to our house to eat our leftover P.F. Chang's from last night while watching CSI on Ion Mystery. I love that meals from P.F. Chang's can stretch into several dinners if you don't stuff yourself.
6:30 p.m. — N. heads back over to hang out with the dog for a few more hours, but I decide to stay at our house. I watch a few more episodes of Bodyguard (Richard Madden is foine) and eat a KIND frozen bar while going through a stack of mail I've let pile up.
9:30 p.m. — N. arrives back at our house. We both retire to our rooms to watch stuff on our iPads. I, of course, watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine and then I read for a while before turning off my light around 11.
Daily Total: $33.96

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — N., who is a minister at our church, got up early this morning and left the house by 8:15 to do announcements at church services. I should make more of an effort to go to church, but I haven't been in a really long time. I finally fully wake up by 9:30 and watch Snapchat stories on my phone before having some cereal for breakfast. Then I watch some Dateline while lying in bed.
12:30 p.m. — I should already be up and dressed since I know our uncle calls my parents' home phone at 1 p.m. every Sunday to talk to us (he is literally the only reason they still have a landline). After throwing on some jeans and a t-shirt and getting ready, I drive over to my parents' house where I meet N. I bring my leftover P.F. Chang's to eat and still get a chance to talk to my uncle.
3:30 p.m. — My stomach is really upset for some reason, so as I'm leaving my parents' house, I stop by CVS to get a Coke. I also get one for N. and get us each a Reese's cup. The total comes to around $8.50, but I have a $10 ExtraBucks coupon, so I use that and get my stuff for free! When I get back to our house, I flip through a few catalogs before I decide to start watching the show Big Sky for the sole reason that Jensen Ackles is starring in season three.
6 p.m. — I decide to get McDonald's for dinner. I go through the drive-through and get N. and myself cheeseburgers and fries. When I pull back into our driveway, one of my former college professors and his wife are walking by with their absolutely adorable dog and they stop to chat. We end up talking for about half an hour, so the food is almost cold by the time I actually get inside. $15.35
8:15 p.m. — I take a shower and put on my PJs before settling down to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Then I think about the week ahead and read for a little while before turning off my light around 11.
Daily Total: $15.35
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience 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.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series