A Week In Rural Utah On A $62,500 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Starbucks.
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Today: a director of partnerships who makes $62,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on Starbucks coffee.
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Occupation: Director of Partnerships
Industry: Outdoor
Age: 27
Location: Rural UT
Salary: $62,500
Net Worth: $64,709 (Savings: $22,000, Roth IRA: $12,000 (started this before the startup I worked for offered a 401(k) and health insurance), 401(k): $4,709, bonds: ~$26,000 which will be around $40,000 when it finally matures? My grandparents and immediate family started these when I was born, and then again when I had my bat mitzvah at age 13. Debt is to my parents.)
Debt: $6,000 (to my parents)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,718
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,150 (I rent a one-bedroom basement apartment in a super small town. All utilities and maintenance are covered in this and my landlords operate a business upstairs. My landlords are awesome humans! I originally paid $1,250 per month and when the pandemic hit they offered to lower it. I actually refused as I was still being paid full time and never got furloughed; when the time came for me to re-sign my lease, they TOLD me that they were just lowering it $100 a month.)
Debt Payment: $500 (This is to my parents who covered the upfront cost of buying my car and I've been paying them back. I have $6,000 left.)
Car Insurance: $129
Phone: $120
Netflix + Disney+: $18 ( I cover and share these with my BF, he covers and shares Amazon Prime)
Strava: $60/year (This used to be a free service but they changed that this year. Giving a go, but will probably skip it next year.)
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: $450/year (Typically, I travel a TON and work lets me put in on my card and reimburse. While I haven't been able to get as much travel use out of it, this year it's been helpful with increased grocery rewards, gas rewards, and food delivery services that don't deliver in my tiny town. Whoops.)
Savings Contributions: ~$300
401(k): $228.25 w/ company match
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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?
Yes, going to college was non-negotiable in my family. My dad has an MBA in accounting and mom just retired from being a teacher. Education wasn't just about what you learned, but how you applied it to life. I received scholarships to go to school out of state and took out about $22,000 in loans to do my bachelor's degree. Throughout college, my parents told me that they would pay my student loans upon graduating and I would be expected to begin paying them back directly immediately in order to avoid interest. My dad's dad (my grandfather) did this for him and allowed him to re-pay interest-free, while still understanding the responsibility involved. However, when I graduated, my parents let me know that my maternal grandmother had secretly left me (and had done this for my brother earlier) an account that was ONLY allowed to be used to 1) pay off student loans 2) go to grad school or 3) buy a house. Paying off my student loans with that left me with only about $4,000 left. I was working full time within two days of graduating and was able to pay it off within two months.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were always extremely conscious of finances and what to do with them and never really kept things a secret from us. During the economic recession in the early 2000s, my ad lost his job in Chicago and ended up commuting to Michigan for four years to work. He would drive up on Mondays and come back on Thursdays. My mom's job provided stability and security (and family healthcare) during this time, but things were definitely stressful. I remember sitting with my dad as he explained how banks actually worked, what bouncing a check was, and I had my own checking and savings account by the time I was 13. I got money from my Bat Mitzvah and put it directly into savings for college spending money.
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What was your first job and why did you get it?
I began "babysitting" as a mother's assistant (entertaining the kids while the mother was still home so that they could get stuff done) when I was 11. It was a family my brother had babysat for previously but didn't have time to do once he got to high school. I was also a teacher's aid at our synagogue on Thursday nights and Sunday mornings for around six hours a week and think my paychecks were around $120 biweekly. My first real job was as a counselor and sports staff at the Jewish summer camp I grew up at. If you've ever seen the movie Wet, Hot, American Summer, that's how I spent my summers for three years of college, eventually becoming a head staff member and running their sports and wellness program. I still say this was the most influential job I had before my career because it taught me how to put up with ANYTHING while running on four hours of sleep for consecutive nights. My parents covered extra-curricular, school trips, etc while I covered social spending up to college. Once I got to college, I began racing triathlon competitively and needed to cover equipment, race entry, and food. I worked at the campus gym as well as the local bike shop.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I don't think worry is the right word, but I was extremely conscious of it. There was a reason that dad was in Detroit, and I still don't order drinks at a restaurant because $3.50 is just insane for a soda.
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Do you worry about money now?
Yes, with all of the privilege that I've received, the safety net I know is there, and the ambition I have to prove myself to be a successful career-oriented woman, my biggest fear is having to depend on someone else financially. I pay my credit card balance in full the DAY the statement is posted and refuse to have autopay on any of my bills. I've never been late on a payment and it took a solid six months until I let my boyfriend pay for a meal two times in a row.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself when I graduated college at age 21. When I was a freshman in college, I showed up at a local bike shop and hung around enough that they finally just put me to work. I began working full time for the shop two days after I graduated from college, with full benefits and an hourly wage. I also had an unexpected safety net in the form of a friend and her wife. They were moving overseas and needed someone to watch their house while it was being prepped up to be put on the market. I was able to live there rent-free (they considered it a favor) and work full-time, which allowed me the opportunity to build up my savings quickly for the first few months. When I got the opportunity to jump in with a new startup, these savings is what gave me the courage to jump. Though I know my parents are absolutely my safety net, that is also my biggest motivator to NOT have to depend on them. It's an odd relationship in that I'm truly grateful to all that they do for me, but never want to be dependent on them because it would feel like I failed. This is all pressure I put on myself... maybe I should see a therapist.
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Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have never received any and I have no idea if I will. Of all the things that my parents have shared with me, the topic of inheritance in the form of money has never come up. I do know that there are some family material heirlooms coming my way one day.

Day One

6:45 a.m. — Alarm set for 6:45 kills my soul. My LDR boyfriend left town yesterday after a three-week visit, which means that all of a sudden I go from sleeping nine hours per night to maxing out at around four. I drag myself to the kitchen to make a french press and regret letting him leave... first coffee is his job. Skip breakfast, too grumpy.
8:30 a.m. — I usually get into the office around 8:30 or 9 based on how anxious I feel about my inbox. I was employee number one for a startup bicycle brand, and work in almost every timezone with our different pros and partners for both sales and marketing. Our office is HUGE and before the pandemic we had plans to make a bunch of new hires. When everything hit, our operations team was safely able to continue to come in, while everyone else worked from home. No one could have anticipated that the pandemic would mean a boom in business as people discovered that bikes = happiness. We've since slowly started to trickle back in and take advantage of the large space to stay socially distant while also getting to collaborate in person.
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11:17 a.m. — Need. Food. NOW. When I skipped breakfast, I forgot that I did a 100-mile bike ride on Saturday, followed by another 40 miles with friends on Sunday. It was for charity and super fun to be out in the perfect fall weather, but my body feels like a trainwreck. I head to the local cafe and get a bread bowl with havarti, cheddar, and broccoli soup. This place just opened up and not only is the food excellent, but they also make pretty dope coffee which is rare in UT aka LDS land. I also buy one of our mechanics coffee as a bribe to bleed the brakes on my bike after this weekend's adventures. They usually let me suffer through repairs on my own, but I don't mess with hydraulic lines. $19.33
7:30 p.m. — After work, I head out to the trails for a quick 5k to assess where my body is at. Still a dumpster fire? Great. Don't feel like grocery shopping because of said dumpster fire so I just scramble up some nearly dead mushrooms, leftover broccoli, and chicken sausage with eggs for dinner. My boyfriend is a professional athlete, so we usually go to bed around 9 and wake up at 6. However, when he's gone, my body goes complete haywire. I fall asleep at 11 and dream about a donut chasing me. I should probably switch out the donut top cap from my bike, apparently, I've been staring at it for too long.
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Daily Total: $19.33

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Slept way later than I meant to, but guess that means I'm skipping a workout today since I'm meeting some friends after work. Also, it's below freezing, so that run was about a 50/50 chance to begin with. Make coffee and two gluten-free blueberry waffles with peanut butter and banana. Why gluten-free? Who knows. I'm leaving for a work event (race + expo) tomorrow, the first one since the pandemic hit, so I jump onto my laptop before heading into work to try and get ahead. It's contract season for the professional athletes we sponsor and we've just extended into a new market so I'm trying to line up COVID-safe meetings for them and some industry partners.
3 p.m. — I get totally bogged down at the office and forget to run out to get lunch. I run to Starbucks and grab a grande Pike with 2% milk and a tomato mozarella sandwich. It's pretty rough, but it'll do. Back to contracts and phone calls. $12.19
6:30 p.m. — Regardless of the fact that I still have a full day of work tomorrow and then have to drive four hours south to the event; I made plans to meet up with some of my cycling buddies. One of them is dating a new girl and he wants to introduce us. I'm assuming this is so that when she wonders where he disappears to all the time, she knows he's in safe (mostly sane) hands. We go to one of our favorite local outdoor pubs and order beers and burgers. Since this is Utah, we specifically go here because they have beer cans available over 5%. One of my friends is also doing the race this weekend (and on our bike!) so we get there a little early to gameplan the course before it's no longer socially acceptable to ONLY talk about gear ratios, tire widths, and whiskey handoffs. We're also assuming that our friend's girlfriend is going to be terrified of us, but she's rad and is quickly welcomed into the clan. Note: this is the first time that any of us have hung out without wearing spandex. $30.01
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Daily Total: $42.20

Day Three

3 a.m. — I've been up since 1:45 because my brain decided it was time to party. By 3 a.m., I'm wide awake after trying to use every trick in the book to get back to sleep, so I decided to pack and save myself having to do it in the morning. Cue 80s hits dance party while I figure out where I hid my expo polo shirts. I typically do 13-15 events per year, but because of COVID, this is the first one this year and in an entirely new market. The thought of going out for a run crosses my mind, but I make a Sleepy Time tea instead and watch an episode of The Great British Baking Show. Finally fall back asleep around 6, alarm goes off at 7, d'oh.
12 p.m. — I'm trying to get everything organized and finish e-mails before leaving town, when I find out that one of the demo bikes that was supposed to be delivered back the day before never arrived. Jump in my car and drive two hours round trip to pick it up. Crisis averted and I pick up a kolache on the way. Chalking this one up to per diem since it IS technically a travel day, so I add it to the expense report. CFO just laughs, I'm off the hook! ($8.79 expensed)
6 p.m. — After a debacle with the rental car company, I finally get everything loaded up, power down my laptop, and go for a 20 minute run before starting my drive. I call my boyfriend from the car and do my best not to measure my 20 minute run against his two hour bike ride, one hour gym session, and 45 minute run. He gets paid to be an athlete, I pay to be an athlete. Boyfriend goes to bed around 8:15 (yep) so I pump up the tunes and car-karaoke to Southern UT. I arrive around 10 and grab a Cafe Rio salad and a tres leches to eat in the hotel room. Has vegetables, it counts. ($14.67 expensed)
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Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — Wake up and listen to Pod Save America for 20 minutes or so. I don't have to set up until 10 at the earliest so I get up and run to the gas station across the street because the hotel coffee maker looks dangerous. I'm the only person in the store wearing a mask besides the cashier, which freaks me out big time. Grab coffee and snacks and spring back to the hotel room to sanitize. Southern UT... dude. Google search a trailhead close to the hotel and head out for a pre-expo run. My legs feel surprisingly strong and I run into a few industry people I know, so naturally, I toss in some intervals to make myself look good. Head back to the hotel to shower, eat, call the boyfriend before I go MIA for the day, and catch up on some e-mails. ($21.26 expensed)
10:30 a.m. — Park the van and get everything unpacked. I didn't want to bring our normal expo team and expose them to anything for such a small event, so it's just me at this one. We have a few employees from the office coming down to race, but later in the day. Just as I'm about to ask someone for a little help with getting the tent up (the ONLY two-person job), my buddy from the bar shows up. He helps me unpack and get totally set up. We loaned him a bike for the race, but I still feel a little guilty that I'm taking advantage of him being here. He's racing 125 miles of dirt tomorrow so we make plans to grab dinner after the expo and I send him off to rest. Instead, he goes out for a ride. I need new friends.
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6:05 p.m. — It's a solid but LONG day at the expo, but everyone seems to be taking COVID and social distancing seriously and it's exciting to see our new product in person. Feels good to see old friends, meet up with new, and catch up with the industry connections. The expo closes and I take my friend to get pizza as a thank you for helping me to set up that morning. ($40.52 expensed)
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:22 a.m. — Slept like garbage last night, but that's expo usual. The race goes off around 7 so I bundle up (desert mornings!) and jog down to the start. Everybody is lined up with masks on in spread out corrals and the first five miles are neutral before they can take their masks off and start racing. I quickly get cold so I keep running down the course and wait for them to pass me before turning back. I head back to the hotel, grab food from the order/takeout complimentary breakfast, and head back down to expo.
11:35 a.m. — The morning is full of meetings but big plans are made as we explore a new market with some of the local partners. One of the companies there sponsors one of our pros too, so we make plans for a new media push. I buy some tires from a local brand that we work with as an act of goodwill, our fulfillment center will use them, and I throw it on the expense report. A few of their employees are also interested in buying industry deal bikes, so it's a good trade-off. ($21.06 expensed)
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2 p.m. — The race finishes right at the expo and we get to see the epic sprint finish between the top two. My two pros end up rolling in fifth and seventh place overall which is a great showing. No other brand has two products in the top ten, so the party gets rolling at our tent. We're set up in a brewery parking lot (hooray!) so I buy the first round. After that, everyone starts contributing as they finish the race. It's part party, part networking, and all fun. By 3:30, someone shows up with margaritas and the other employees from our brand are getting an epic shindig rolling. ($17.03 expensed)
7 — We finish up the awards ceremony and I get everything packed into the van while our cooler becomes the local watering ground. Our CFO decides that the company is buying all of us dinner. We go out for Thai food in the middle of a podunk town in UT... it is delicious, especially after the margaritas.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:40 a.m. — Wake up and immediately just want to GTFO back home. Quickly pack up and swing by Starbucks before hitting the road by 7:34. I know I'm going to be hungry so I get a Pike roast and one of the new Impossible breakfast sandwiches. I keep kosher, so it's weird feeling like I'm eating meat and cheese together, but nevertheless, she persisted. The main road back to where I live is closed off due to a massive fire, so I have to detour an hour extra to get home. The whole valley is filled with smoke and I use this as a bonding moment with my boyfriend over the phone as he prepares to potentially evacuate his house due to fires in Colorado. ($9.72 expensed)
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12:13 p.m. — Finally get back to the office and unload the rental car before throwing a bike in the back and driving over the rental car center. You'd think that I'd check the tires before depending on a bike as my method of transportation to get home, but I forgot. Within a quarter-mile of leaving the rental car center, I double flat with no tools to fix it. So starts the exhausted and hungry walk of shame two miles back to the office. I finally get back and wash down the demo bikes.
3:30 p.m. — Finally get home and decide I need to be productive if I want to be able to sleep tonight. I go out for a five-mile run in the trails — one of the perks of living here is that they're right out my door. I go straight uphill for 2.5 miles which is a horrible life choice considering that the Air Quality Index is hovering around 110 from the fires nearby. I get back and head straight to the grocery store. Having to use my credit card again sucks, can I expense this? Finally get home, shower, unpack, and realize I'm too tired to cook any of the food that I just bought. Avocado toast, cherry tomatoes, and German chocolate cake it is. FaceTime my boyfriend so that he doesn't forget what I look like — he did a double run day and got a massage. I think about quitting my job and try to get sponsored before I remember that I hate structured training. $70.02
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Daily Total: $70.02

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Monday Funday! Wake up feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, before checking my heinously neglected inbox. Send over an event recap to marketing, sales, and C-suite while I'm drinking my coffee and eating more gluten-free waffles. I head into the office by 8 to start following up on leads and catching up on everything I missed.
1:20 p.m. — I'm heading out to grab coffee when the CEO pulls me aside and thanks me for running point on the event this weekend. He tells me to expense coffee, so I grab orders for everyone at the office. ($18.34 expensed)
5 p.m. — Finally leaving the office on time today, and I have about 90 minutes of daylight left. I head home and jump onto my bike to spin up the canyon. As much as I complain about low ABV beer and local politics, this is a pretty incredible place to live. I climb around 1500 feet of elevation in four miles and get to the overlook. Everything smells amazing, the colors are popping, and my lungs are burning..although, that might still be the fires. I head home and cook ground turkey with mushrooms and zucchini and throw it over couscous. It's enough for two more servings so I'll eat it for lunch this week since I've been eating out WAY too much.
Daily Total: $0
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