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A Week In Dayton, OH, On A $32,175 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 development associate who makes $32,175 per year and spends some of her money this week on bed restraints.
Occupation: Development Associate
Industry: Non-Profit Development
Age: 23
Location: Dayton, OH
Salary: $32,175
Net Worth: $6,945 total. $2,325 in savings and $5,270 in a mutual fund investment account my grandfather created for me when I was young and adds money for birthdays/Christmas in lieu of gifts. Minus debt.
Debt: $650 to my parents for a car repair (interest-free)
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,002
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my parents)
Spotify Premium: $10.74
Netflix and Hulu: $0, mooch off parents
Disney+ and HBO: $0, mooch off brother
Savings: $400-$800 depending on the month
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?
In the suburb I grew up in, everyone went to college after high school so I always knew I would follow that path and never considered doing otherwise. I had really good grades and test scores in high school so the majority of my education was paid for by a large merit scholarship. I paid the remaining tuition for my first semester with my savings from high school because I wanted to contribute to my own education. My parents paid for the subsequent semesters. I'm very thankful to have graduated with no student loans and I recognize my privilege.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents never really educated me about personal finance. It probably didn't help that my mom was not involved in my family's finances and she is the parent I spent the majority of my time with. The one thing I remember is my mom often telling me that it is better to spend more on a quality item than to get the cheapest option and have it be poor quality.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting and dog sitting when I was 13 so I could start saving for my future. This is how I was able to pay for my first semester of college out of pocket. I never spent the money I made. When I was 16, I got a job working in the cafeteria of a retirement home but had to quit after a few months because of a medical emergency. When I was 18, I started working at an escape room and continued working there for over three years.
Did you worry about money growing up?
All the time. My family was not "struggling," we were solidly upper-middle-class, but I was hyper-aware of how much my existence cost my parents. My extracurricular activities and medical bills were expensive and I was constantly reminded of this and experienced a great deal of guilt surrounding these costs.
Do you worry about money now?
Until very recently, yes. When I met my partner, she had been working full-time at her career-job for two years and I was working part-time in retail. It was really hard for me to keep up with our shared lifestyle on my income and I would occasionally borrow money from my parents to pay for our dates. After I got my first full-time job three months ago, I immediately paid my parents back everything I had borrowed and started saving aggressively while also being able to afford myself a much better lifestyle. I still worry about money but not as much.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I am still not financially responsible for myself. Not even close. All of my basic needs are met by my parents. I'm very comfortable with this for the present moment because it gives me the ability to save large chunks of my income. I know that even once I move out, I could always rely on my parents if I needed something.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My grandfather created a mutual fund for me, as previously stated.

Day One

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I scroll on TikTok for about half an hour before finally getting out of bed. Breakfast is a plain bagel with globs of butter. We got heaps of snow so I spend a solid 10 minutes scraping my car before I'm finally on the road by 8:50. I listen to my favorite personal finance podcast, She's On The Money as I drive to work.
11 a.m. — I eat some cauliflower and a Larabar before my noon staff meeting because I know I will get way too hungry if I wait until it's over. The staff meeting runs smoothly but I get caught up with work after so I don't get around to lunch until 1:30. Lunch consists of a frozen chicken and broccoli alfredo bowl, a green juice, and animal crackers.
3 p.m. — I fill my 24oz tumbler with water and add two packets of crystal light with caffeine. I don't like coffee and these packets have really helped me curb my Starbucks spending.
4:30 p.m. — I leave work a bit early because I'm ahead on hours for the week. I decided to give up weekday shopping for Lent so I've been eagerly anticipating Friday so I can get some errands done. I'm not super religious, but I do like the idea of setting a 40-day goal. Plus the Catholic guilt certainly helps me stick to it. As I park to go to the thrift store, I realize I have to pee but the Goodwill doesn't have a bathroom. I go into a coffee shop in the same plaza and ask to use the bathroom. I'm proud of myself for resisting the urge to be polite and buy something. I'm sure this barista doesn't really care anyway. I'm here on a mission to get my brother's birthday gifts. I pick out three sweaters and a shirt for him and can't resist picking up an early 2000s mini bag for myself. $26.61
5:45 p.m. — The next stop is a resale clothing store. I'm selling six things, half of which are my girlfriends. I try on a matching sweatsuit I saw posted on the store's Instagram and it's divine. The original price is $20 but I have a $10 off rewards coupon plus I get $21.72 for the items I sold, so I apply my coupon and do an exchange which gets me the sweatsuit for free plus $11 in cash. I Venmo my girlfriend, M., $7.62 for the items that were hers.
6:30 p.m. — My mom orders pizza and breadsticks for dinner. It's delicious and I certainly enjoy all the free meals I get living with my parents. We watch an episode of Selling Sunset while we eat and then she heads to bed. I call M. and we talk for about an hour. After we hang up I watch mindless YouTube.
1 a.m. — I haven't stayed up this late in months. I end up on the ThredUP app looking for a pair of jeans. I recently ripped the seat out of one of my two pairs of work jeans and I've been looking for a replacement. I'm not the hugest fan of ThredUP, but since I stopped buying new clothing altogether about two years ago, I will check ThredUP when I can't find something in a brick-and-mortar thrift store. Their return policy is kind of shady, there is a $1.99 restocking fee and if you want a refund instead of store credit there are more fees. I decide on a pair of Land's End denim. My total with shipping and tax is $40.90 but I have a credit for $13.05 from a previous return so I only end up spending $28.85. I need sleep. I put on some ASMR to help me get there. $28.85
Daily Total: $55.46

Day Two

10 a.m. — Late start because I was up so late. I put on the astrology crewneck M. got me for Valentine's Day. My dad brings home donuts from a local pastry shop for breakfast. I pack an overnight bag to go visit M. for the weekend. She lives about an hour away so we only really see each other on the weekends and tend to do a lot of overnights to make the trip worth it. Never have I ever met a lesbian couple that isn't at least a little bit long distance. On the road by noon. I pick up some yellow roses for M. at Kroger. $9.62
1 p.m. — As I'm getting off the interstate, I see a homeless man and give him a dollar ($1). I meet M. at her apartment and we head out to start our day together. We go to Cane's for lunch and she buys. We stop at Target and I get tech wipes, a pair of blue light glasses, and organic menstrual pads and liners. ($19.65). I get Starbucks there for myself and M. but my app is already loaded so it doesn't cost anything. $20.65
4 p.m. — We stop at Bath & Body Works and I get myself five pocket hand sanitizers and a candle for my mom because there's a good sale ($25.82). We hit up a few more stores and eventually end up at a local bookstore. M. buys me an astrology book as a gift (she's so good to me) and I get us coffee and muffins from the coffee store inside ($13.75). $39.57
7:30 p.m. — We decide to go to Ikea to look for a new bookcase for me. I find one I like but it's out of stock. I get M. a milk frother and myself one of the rainbow shopping bags and a bucket hat made out of an Ikea bag that I definitely don't need but lizard brain said "get it" ($10.62). M. and I drive through Skyline for dinner and I pay. She's a cheap date, our total is ($10.77). $21.39
9 p.m. — We stop at a sex toy store to look for bed restraints and we find a set we like. This is something M. and I have been wanting to try out for a while. I also pick up a pink lace bra from their lingerie section and a novelty rainbow test tube shot glass set for M. since she is a scientist. I drop $85.19. When I get home I realize the bra is was way too small and I FaceTime my friend to see if she wants it and she does. M. and I turn on Survivor in bed and I fall asleep by midnight. $85.19
Daily Total: $176.42

Day Three

7 a.m. — M. and I always tend to inadvertently wake up early during our sleepover weekends. I drift in and out of sleep until about 9 then after breakfast (frozen mini breakfast sandwiches and yogurt) and a shower, we have sex for a few hours before driving down the road to get some lunch. We go to our favorite local pizza place, M. has a $5 off coupon but I pay. It's $11.16 for two slices of za and two breadsticks plus tip. We eat at M.'s apartment then head back out. $11.16
1:30 p.m. — M. needs a piece of plywood to replace some broken slats in her bed so we stop in Lowe's. She grabs some new knobs for her dresser as well. Then we drive-thru Dunkin. I get a refresher and M. gets cold brew. She pays.
2:30 p.m. — We stop at an abandoned mall we have been wanting to check out. It's massive and has really cool early aughts nostalgia vibes. The best part about a mall with no stores is I can't spend any money, something I seem to be doing a lot of this weekend.
4 p.m. — Our next stop is Home Goods where I get a pack of 35 hangers for my mom. She Venmos me for them immediately. M. needs to make a return at Target, and after making a lap around the store, I get us Starbucks. I need to reload my card and I add $10. It's rare M. and I go a weekend without going to Target at least twice. And we can't go to Target without getting Starbucks apparently. $10
6 p.m. — After M. and I watch another episode of Survivor, it's time for me to head home. Goodbyes are really hard for us, even when we know we will see each other again in a week. I make it home, heat up a can of SpaghettiOs for dinner, watch some more YouTube, and read in bed (City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert) before shutting my eyes at 10.
Daily Total: $21.16

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I overslept this morning! Ack! I have a microwavable breakfast sandwich and a slice of apple pie ala mode for breakfast because I believe every meal deserves to be punctuated with dessert. Despite oversleeping, I'm the first one at the office when I arrive at 10.
1 p.m. — I heat up a Trader Joe's baked ziti and graze on carrots, broccoli, yogurt, pretzels, cheese, a smoothie, kombucha, and a cupcake for the remainder of the day. I get very hungry at work so I pack a lot of food and eat it in small bursts throughout the day.
7 p.m. — Wow! I stayed at work much later than I intended. I hate "hustle culture," but I definitely fall prey to attaching my value to my productivity. I'm working on a huge social media campaign that is quite time-consuming. I'm the head of social media so this workload was self-imposed, but I'm hoping the return will be worth it.
7:30 p.m. — I clean the kitchen for my mom and make myself butternut squash ravioli with tomato basil sauce courtesy of Trader Joe's. I start season 3 of Good Trouble then get ready for bed. I recently decided to start doing a more elaborate skincare routine, more so for self-care rather than actually wanting to change anything about my skin. Yves Rocher riche creme cleanser, some sort of Tarte serum (it was a gift), Trader Joe's eye cream, Trader Joe's gel moisturizer, and Burt's Bees night cream. Read in bed until 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — Oversleep again, but not quite as drastically. Same breakfast as yesterday. Variation of the same skincare routine but with a different cleanser from SheaMoisture, Burt's Bees acne spot treatment (smells like licorice), and the Burt's Bees day lotion. Arrive to work at 10 but I am not the first one here so no brownie points for me.
12 p.m. — My lunches are essentially the same every day but the frozen entrees change. Today it's Trader Joe's mac and cheese. I know I gave up shopping for lent but I am a very bad Catholic so I cave and buy a barely-used Glossier milky jelly cleanser from a Facebook buy-sell group for only $10. Sorry, Jesus, but that's a really good deal. $10
4:15 p.m. — It's a much calmer day today at work and since I worked late yesterday, I decide to reward myself and leave early. I stop at Trader Joe's (can you tell I like Trader Joe's?) and get bread, milk, sour cream, and apples for my family. I don't pay for any groceries while living at home so I swipe my mom's card. I head across the street to Kroger to get the remainder of my groceries — kombucha, frozen burritos, pretzels, trash bags, and nicotine lozenges for my mom. She quit vaping a few months ago and I am so proud of her!
5:30 p.m. — I stop at the resell store again to sell a fleece jacket that my mom got as a promotional item with her skincare order. It's cute, it just didn't fit either of us. She lets me keep the $4.88 that the store gives me for it.
6:45 p.m. — My brother comes home (he moved out a few months ago) so my mom makes enchiladas for the family. She informs me they will be way too spicy for me so I make a quesadilla with cheese, corn, and black beans. It's a weird combo, but it works. I convince my brother to watch one of my favorite movies, Sorry to Bother You, with me because I know he will love it and he does. Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups and cheap rosé accompany the film. Skincare, read, and bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $10

Day Six

7 a.m. — I did not oversleep but somehow am still running late? Breakfast is the same sandwich with a different slice of pie. Make it to the office a little before 10 just in time to greet my volunteer. I get her set up with tasks for the day and head upstairs to my office.
12:30 p.m. — Today's entree is a Trader Joe's Indian Butter Chicken and it's the best one yet! It's been a relatively slow day but I'm knocking things off my to-do list. The big social media campaign I've been working on is practically finished so that feels good.
2:30 p.m. — I have a Zoom call set up with a friend from college who needs to interview someone who works at a non-profit for her class. I love talking about my job plus catching up with her is so nice.
4 p.m. — I have a meeting with a community partner who is hosting a drive for us to pick up collection barrels. This is the most high-profile community partnership I have worked on so far and I'm very excited.
5:30 p.m. — I drive to Kroger after work to get all-purpose flour, frozen breakfast sandwiches, and a few Bird's Eye frozen veggie pasta steamer bags. So yummy and the pasta is made entirely from veggies and it's grain-free. Definitely check out if you are on a restricted diet. Again, I use mom's card to pay for groceries. I call M. from the parking lot and we end up talking for several hours. I get emotional thinking about how a lot of my friends have moved or are about to move out of state, which is something I'm sure a lot of twenty-somethings can relate to. When I get home around 8, I'm too blue for a proper dinner but I manage to eat a slice of sweet potato pie and drink a smoothie.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Surprise surprise! I overslept! There is currently a hole in my ceiling that was cut out to inspect for mold that is finally being repaired today (it's been there for like two months) so I make sure my room is tidy enough for the worker to be able to do his job. I skip the pie and just have a breakfast sandwich. M. sent me a $5 Starbucks gift card with a koala saying "Hang in There" when I was sad last night so I use that to mobile order a pink drink from Starbucks which I pick up on my way to the office. I arrive at 10:15. Oof. I'm glad my workplace is flexible on arrival/departure times, I know my late mornings wouldn't fly elsewhere.
12 p.m. — Due to my lack of pie, I'm hungry by noon. Veggie mac and cheese purchased last night is my entree today and I graze on the same snacks as always throughout the day.
5:15 p.m. — I leave work and get stuck in some nasty traffic. Thankfully, I have my finance podcast to keep me occupied during the extra-long commute. I quickly run inside, change out of my work clothes and into the sweatsuit I got earlier in the week, eat a cheese stick, and gulp down a glass of water. Today is my first day volunteering at a non-profit supporting trans folks and I'm already running late due to traffic. I make it to the volunteer site by 6:25 and get to work. We finish sorting all the donations by 7:40.
8:30 p.m. — After talking to M. for a bit in the parking lot, I head into Walgreens to pick up Zzzquil for my mom, I get two packs because there is a sale, plus a L'Oreal toner for me and a pack of peanut M&Ms for my mom. I put it all on her card. I also buy myself nuggets, fries, and a frosty from Wendy's using her card (with permission, of course). I am going to take advantage of the luxuries of living at home as long as I can. I watch another episode of Good Trouble while I eat. Before going to bed, I check my bank account and see that my direct deposit hit so I send my mom $100 on Venmo to go towards the car repair mentioned previously. I skip my skincare routine and reading and am in bed by 11:15. $100
Daily Total: $100
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