A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $73,000 Salary

Content Warning: This OP mentions recovering from an eating disorder. If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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.
Today: a senior marketing coordinator who makes $73,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a mercat towel.
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Occupation: Senior Marketing Coordinator
Industry: Architecture/Interior Design
Age: 29
Location: Dallas, TX
Salary: $73,000
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,836
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,603 (I own my own house, which I purchased in September of 2017. I was getting tired of paying rent that was not building any equity for myself and had paid off all my student loans. I didn't think this would be an option for me as a single woman, but my mom and stepdad graciously offered to loan me the money for a down payment. Our agreement is that I will pay them back whenever I sell the house.)
Personal Loan: $341 (I use this to pay off my high-interest credit card.)
Camp Gladiator (Fitness Bootcamp): $59
Netflix: $10
Hulu: $13
Spotify: $10
Adobe Creative Cloud: $35
Internet: $53
Car Insurance: $145
Utilities: $150-ish
Therapy: $60 (I'm in group therapy, and even though none of it is covered by insurance, my provider has been extremely kind and worked within my budget.)
Medical, Vision, Dental: $82.48
401(k): $393
HSA: $115
General Savings: $200

Day One

7 a.m. — I roll out of bed very late and take my time getting ready. Fridays in my office are half-days, so if I'm a little late, it's no big deal because I can make it up into the lunch hour. After showering, I feed my cat and try to give him his medicine while I make a bagel and coffee. Everything bagels are my favorite breakfast, but I usually supplement them with hard-boiled eggs to have protein in my meal. I make coffee in my Keurig — my boyfriend hates the pods because of the environmental consequences, so he bought me a reusable pod and coffee for my birthday. I'm MUCH more likely to make coffee at home now.
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1 p.m. — After I finish up at work, I head over to my boyfriend's house. He lives really close to my office, so I usually go there on Friday afternoons. We are both starving and decide tacos sounds easy — there's a little local taco shop close to his place. He orders tacos al pastor, and I get a torta with al pastor and carnitas. Freaking delicious. We both get a Topo Chico because I am trying to cut down on my Diet Coke. We split the bill, which we do a lot as we're both trying to be conscious of what we're spending. We'll either split it or switch off who pays; it just depends on the meal or situation. $12.27
3 p.m. — I have an Old Navy addiction, and I don't care who knows it. I only shop when there are deals/sales, and today while I'm waiting for my boyfriend to finish up chores, I browse the website. I've been trying to find him some sandals that can replace his atrocious, old, smelly, and torn-up black ones. I end up buying five pairs of shoes, which I think is a pretty great deal. Three pairs of sandals for the boyfriend and two pairs of sandals for me. I view sandals as a "wear for a season and then trash" sort of shoe for the most part, so I do this almost every summer. $55.21
9 p.m. — My boyfriend is getting ready to take a big camping trip to the river with his friends this weekend, so I am helping him pack and run errands. By this time of the night, we're both hangry and stressed, so we decide to go get something easy and comforting. We end up at Chili's — a high school favorite for both of us. We order an appetizer, a chicken sandwich, and a burger. I succumb and order a Diet Coke, and the boy gets a beer. We split the bill — I don't have a lot of wiggle room to cover both of us, and my boyfriend just bought a bunch of stuff for the camping trip. $24.65
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Daily Total: $92.13

Day Two

7 a.m. — I'm woken up early as my boyfriend starts shuffling all his stuff around. He is packing up the car, and all his friends head over. I wait to say goodbye and then try to go back to sleep for a while — I've already missed my usual workout time, and I'm tired.
10 a.m. — I can't sleep in that much because I have too many things rattling through my brain. I get up and decide that I don't want to make breakfast when I get home, so I go to Starbucks. I use this as a little "me" time. I load my card up and order an everything bagel (surprise!), egg sous-vide bites, and a grande vanilla latte. I sit outside on the patio and enjoy the not-yet-boiling weather while I do some pages in my Intuitive Eating workbook. I am in recovery from an eating disorder, and while I go to group therapy once a week, I needed to add something a little more concrete to my routine to remind myself of my goals and why I don't even want to go back to dieting. $25
2 p.m. — I head home for a quick workout and a shower. Then I head to a baby shower for a good friend of mine. I'm excited to see friends I haven't seen in a while. I ordered her present, a white-noise machine, on Amazon a few weeks ago. In this season full of weddings and showers, I've learned you need to get the gift off the registry early if you want to get anything good. I'm loving the glitter cookies and the "mom"-osa bar. So happy for my friend and her husband!
4 p.m. — I meet my friend at a coffee shop we both love. She needed to get some work done, and I knew it would be a good time to catch up on freelance work that I do. We both went to school for magazine editing, lived together in London, and then we were roommates when we first moved back to Dallas. I order a blueberry iced tea and a water and get down to business. We catch up as we hustle. $7.19
6 p.m. — I head to my mom's house for cocktail hour and dinner. My stepsister and stepbrother are in town for Father's Day, and I want to see them. My stepdad has cooked ALL of the meat — so we have ribs, wings, and chicken as options for dinner. My mom rounds it out with queso, guacamole, and some other sides. I have a glass of rosé and hang out for a while. We play Jeopardy by guessing the answers along with the TV on Netflix to see which sibling/parent is the smartest. I impress the group with my answers and then leave while I'm still ahead.
Daily Total: $32.19

Day Three

11 a.m. — I sleep in way later than I normally do. During the school year, I teach Sunday school, so during the summer I take advantage of being able to sleep longer. I putter around the house a bit before I decide to go for a run and then do ab/strength work at home. I eat a piece of toast so I can take my medicine and then get to work.
2 p.m. — I meet up with my friend, whom I have known since kindergarten, at Alamo Drafthouse. Our friendship is the best, because we are so chill and love all of the same nerdy stuff. A HUGE plus is that she just started working at Alamo Drafthouse and gets sweet perks like free movies for her and plus one, free popcorn and soda, and a discount on other food. We chill in the bar to have a chance to catch up and chat before the movie. I order a Diet Coke (surprise!) and a lemonade. I pay for these as a gesture of "thanks for the free entertainment." During the movie we order popcorn, she gets food, and I get a milkshake (which I've been craving since I started my period this morning). $8.58
7 p.m. — I meet back up with my mom, stepdad, and the fam for dinner. We LOVE getting Indian food, and there's a really cheap local place just down the street from my mom's house. Since one of the siblings lives in Colorado and one in Oklahoma, it's nice to spend time with them. We gorge ourselves on curry, and then I head home to meal-prep for the week with groceries that I already have in the fridge.
Daily Total: $8.58

Day Four

6 a.m. — Mondays are hard, but this one is off to a good start. I wake up early enough to get all my stuff together before work. I make a bagel and pack my lunch, workout bag, and work bag. I grab my coffee and head out the door.
12 p.m. — I made a commitment this year to make every effort to bring my lunch to work every day. It saves me SO much money in the long term and helps me avoid eating crap every day. There aren't many quick, healthy options near the office, so I have to pay delivery fees or take the time to get in my car. Plus, I really prefer eating at my desk and working through lunch so I can leave earlier at night. Today I packed a turkey sandwich, yogurt, cheese crackers, and some white chocolate I brought home from my recent trip to England. I also hoard all types of snacks in my drawer at work, like Rx Bars, oatmeal packets, almonds, and sweets.
7 p.m. — After work I change into my workout clothes and head to Camp Gladiator. I started this workout program almost three years ago, and it has been life-changing. I really enjoy working out with a group, and it's not a competitive feeling. This week is focused on HIIT (high-intensity interval training) and it's like 97 degrees out, so I sweat my butt off. I feel really good about the workout and talk to my trainer about workouts and life in general. We're all prepping for CG Games — a competition that I participated in for the first time last year. I don't expect to place, but it makes me feel so accomplished when I finish.
8 p.m. — I really needed to run to the store on the way home for cat food and tampons, but I am completely wiped out after my grueling workout. I shower when I get home and then start dinner. Yesterday night I cooked ground turkey and mushrooms, so I add that to some Trader Joe's vodka sauce and make pasta. This is a meal I eat a lot, because pasta and sauce don't go bad easily and it's really quick to make. I catch up on Veep and head to bed relatively early.
10 p.m. — The biggest problem I have with sticking to a budget is that I LOVE to buy things for other people. You'd think my love language was gifts, but it's not (I'm a words-of-affirmation gal). After the baby shower this weekend, I remember that I wanted to buy a special Irish gift for the baby that I never got around to doing. My friend's husband is Irish, and my family is super Irish (my dad is from Belfast). So I ignore my budget (the website is having a sale!) and buy a stuffed animal that has shamrock patterns and recites an Irish prayer. It's one of my favorite go-to baby gifts. $38.26
Daily Total: $38.26

Day Five

8 a.m. — I don't make anything for breakfast this morning, so it's easy to get out the door. On Tuesday mornings, vendors visit our office and bring breakfast. Sometimes it's great, and sometimes it's lackluster. I'm lucky today because there's fruit and breakfast tacos.
10 a.m. — I decide I'm not going to want to go grocery shopping tonight either, so I place a pick-up order from Target. I need cat food, tampons, shampoo, and cotton pads for my toner. I usually get most of my beauty and skin-care products from Target, and they happen to have the cat food that my cat likes, so it's a no-brainer. There's no shipping, and I won't be tempted by anything else I see while strolling through the aisles. But I still peruse the website and can't resist a new beach towel with a "mercat" on it — yes, a mermaid/cat hybrid that is wearing sunglasses. How could I not? I'll pick the order up on the way home tonight. $53.81
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftover pasta. I get some more work done over the hour. We have "flex scheduling," so we have the option of working nine-hour days with a half day on Friday. I love this setup, because I can make doctor's appointments without having to take PTO, and I can run errands on Friday and not have to take precious time out of my weekend to do them. So if I work through lunch, I can leave the office at 5:30 instead of taking an hour and working until 6:30. It all depends on the day; sometimes I have to get a change of scenery or want to meet a friend for lunch.
7 p.m. — I get home and decide to go for a walk. I'm really sore from my workout the previous day, so I don't want to push it. Plus, it's June in Texas and it's SUPER hot. The last thing I need is to make myself sick. After my walk, I take an epsom salt bath to soothe my sore legs and then start looking for dinner. I don't feel like cooking, so I just have cottage cheese and an apple. I used to be disgusted when my grandma ate this meal, but now it's one of my favorites in the summer when I'm hot and tired and just need something light. I watch an episode of Broad City while working on freelance assignments and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $53.81

Day Six

7 a.m. — After waking up a bit later than I wanted to (I have a nasty habit of hitting snooze), I start packing a gym bag and my lunch. I chase the cat around the house to give him his thyroid medication. He's been a sick kitty the past couple of months. We found out he has hyperthyroidism, but he reacted poorly to all the vet visits and trial meds and didn't eat for a while. After about $1,300 in vet bills and a lot of worry, he is now eating again and taking medicine (mostly) every day. Pets are wonderful but so expensive. I make my bagel, grab my coffee, and head out the door.
12 p.m. — I work through lunch again today. I packed a sandwich, yogurt, and a new yummy chip from Trader Joe's I just discovered: Crunchy Curls made out of lentils and potato. They aren't too salty, which I am super happy about. Later in the afternoon, I get peckish and eat the hard-boiled eggs I never ended up eating in the morning.
7 p.m. — My boyfriend is back in town, and I am super excited to see him. We had originally planned to walk around the lake, but it looks like bad weather is moving in. Dallas has had a ton of really bad storms lately, and we end up being under another tornado watch. Instead, we go through his pictures from the trip and then head to dinner, since neither one of us is up for going to the grocery store. We go to a local seafood place that is cheap and easy (see a trend here? We like laid-back stuff). We both order a beer, and he makes me try an oyster. I love mussels and clams, but for some reason oysters are my limit. I actually don't hate it and agree to try one again soon. He orders a shrimp po-boy, and I get shrimp tacos. He pays, and then I send him money for my half of the food. We watch Mad Men for a while before I head home. I should cook my next round of chicken for meal prep, but I'm too tired. $16
Daily Total: $16

Day Seven

7 a.m. — My late night means I sleep through my workout and leave myself only a little time to get ready. I skip making coffee at home and grab boiled eggs and a yogurt before I run out the door. I eat my eggs and make coffee when I get into the office. We have a Keurig here, but it's not the best coffee in the world.
12 p.m. — I have a lunch meeting that I am leading today for a community volunteering event. Our sister office is coming to our office, and we've ordered pizza for the group that is paid for by the company. I first led our volunteering event last year and had a blast, so I've offered to be the team captain again this year. This is the kick-off meeting, so we brainstorm ideas of what we want to build and talk about fundraising.
5:30 p.m. — Every Thursday night, I go to group therapy at the treatment center where I went for my eating disorder. It's a hard thing to describe, because I'm definitely still in recovery but don't have an "active" eating disorder, aka I am no longer purging. This clinic doesn't take insurance directly, and my insurance has been difficult in the past about reimbursements. Since it's a private treatment center, they can work with patients on payment, and my therapist has been incredible about working with my budget so I can still attend treatment. This has been vital to my well-being. Diet culture is incredibly pervasive in our society, and this weekly meeting is the only way I can stay grounded.
8 p.m. — My boyfriend comes over to spend the night. He doesn't work traditional hours, so during the weekday it's easier for him to stay with me. For dinner, I make chicken to put in my favorite Trader Joe's salad, the Southwest Chopped Salad. I make extra chicken to keep for lunches. We talk about our weekend plans while we eat. We have a birthday brunch on Saturday and then plan to keep it low-key because we're both trying not to spend money right now. We watch more Mad Men before calling it a night.
Daily Total: $0
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