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A Week In Western Georgia On A $47,500 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: an epidemiologist who makes $47,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on creamsicle Twizzlers.
Occupation: Epidemiologist
Industry: Public Health
Age: 30
Location: Western Georgia
Salary: $47,500
Net Worth: -$72,750 (Retirement: $17,569 + savings: $4,120, minus debt)
Debt: Student loans: $85,870, car loan: $8,569
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,958
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $825
Car Loan: $213.69
Student Loans: I've never had payments on student loans because my income was too low and then COVID hit
Car Insurance: $110
Electric: $20-$30
Water: $20-$40
Health Insurance: $67
Dental Insurance: $27
Vision Insurance: $12.28
Short Term Disability: $31.27
Phone: $119
Internet: $50
Streaming Services (HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify): $45.96
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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, my parents told my brother and me that we had to either move out or go to college when we turned 18. My mother told me that I had to apply to scholarships because they had no money saved for college, so for my undergraduate degree, I had a scholarship that covered tuition and fees. For graduate school, I had mostly loans and a small scholarship.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents didn't talk to me very much about money. They told me to put 10% into savings and 10% into tithes, but I no longer attend church. I did overhear them argue about money but there was never a direct conversation.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at Marshall's at 16 because my parents told me I needed a job. I used the money for gas for my car and was able to save some spending money for college.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn't really worry about money. Between my parents and grandparents, I was a pretty spoiled child.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money now. I feel like I joined the workforce late because I went to graduate school and then joined the Peace Corps so I don't have as much saved as I would like. Also, I moved to a new state six months ago for a job opportunity and the move was expensive. I had my boyfriend at the time stay in my old place until the lease was up, and unfortunately, he took advantage and started paying me half the rent and giving me a routing and account number to an empty bank account for utilities. I tried to be understanding and let him pay the rest on a payment plan, but a month later, he told me he couldn't pay anymore and left me with his $200/month utility bill and the rest of the lease. Thankfully, I only had to pay for two more months but it was very stressful and it had a major impact on my already small savings.
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At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 22 when I went to graduate school. I worked retail and had a job managing data at the university.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My family gave me about $4,000 for textbooks and spending money while I was in college and would occasionally send me money throughout undergrad.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Time to wake up. I take my dog out in the yard and grab leftovers for lunch from the fridge. I don't feel like making breakfast so I get a burrito, yogurt, and iced coffee from Chick-fil-A. $10.79
7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work and start moving reportable disease cases from our surveillance system into our line list. I then make calls to hospitals to get information on their patients before calling the patients themselves. I check my email and respond to any urgent requests.
12 p.m. — I continue making phone calls to patients and then read recent community health reports. These look at different health factors within communities (such as cancer, heart disease, and poverty rates).
2 p.m. — I have leftover ramen for lunch.
4 p.m. — I head home and let my dog out in the yard and play fetch with him for a while. Then I head back inside and work on homework for a Python coding class I'm taking that's due today. I reach out to the TAs for help and turn my assignment in around 11. I have lemon pepper wings and broccoli for dinner while I'm working. I go to sleep as soon as I'm finished working.
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Daily Total: $10.79

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up and play fetch with my dog in the yard.
7:45 a.m. — Go back inside and go back to sleep. It's far too early!
9:30 a.m. — I get up again. I make roasted cherry tomatoes in the air fryer and boil some eggs for breakfast before starting my coding class at 10. This class goes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. so it is going to be an all-day thing.
1:45 — Time for a lunch break. I have an hour, so I make a beef and broccoli stir fry and let my dog go out to use the bathroom.
2:45 p.m. — I go back to class. We work through different exercises in groups and I work with my project group on our presentation.
8 p.m. — Class is finally over! I watch YouTube and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I take my dog out into the yard and run around with him. Once he gets some energy out, I go back to sleep.
9:30 a.m. — I wake up and message a guy (K.) who I am supposed to go out with today. We set plans for lunch and I clean my bathroom and kitchen before going out to meet him.
1 p.m. — I meet up with K. We go to a New Orleans-themed restaurant and get po'boys and daiquiris. The food is great and the conversation with K. is pretty good.
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2:30 p.m. — K. wants to go to a park so I go home and get the dog. We then go to one of the local parks and swing on the swings and slide down the slides while my dog sits in the shade. I head out around 4 because I'm exhausted and want a nap.
5:30 p.m. — I wake up really hungry and decide to go to Dairy Queen for a $6 chicken tender meal. When I come home I read some of the Fifth Season and then watch YouTube videos. Then I take the dog out and go to bed. $6.24
Daily Total: $6.24

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up and let my dog out while I make a breakfast of scrambled eggs and potatoes in the air fryer. I bring my dog back in, then I shower and pack leftover beef and broccoli for lunch and go to work.
7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work and move notifiable disease cases from the surveillance system to the line list. I read through more of the community health assessments and look for the sources of the data before entering it into our system.
1:30 p.m. — I have my lunch while I read a Reddit post about people's experiences when they were declared dead but then brought back to life. My uncle recently died and my aunt died around this time last year so I've been really scared of death and trying to learn more about it helps me.
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2 p.m. — I do statistical analyses on cases of COVID-19 in public schools for my weekly report and send it to my supervisor.
4 p.m. — I go home and play fetch with the dog in the yard and then do a dumbbell full-body burner on Nike Training Club.
5:30 p.m. — I take a shower and then make a dinner of zucchini, sweet potato, and shrimp with buffalo ranch sauce. I eat dinner and finish reading The Fifth Season.
10 p.m.— I take my dog out to use the bathroom and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and lay in bed watching YouTube videos until 6 and then I take my dog out and do the Mike and Duy run on Nike Run Club. It's a really fun run, and when I finish, I'm feeling so energized.
6:45 a.m. — I have a breakfast of eggs, cheese, and broccoli. I take a shower while making my lunch of chicken, sweet potato, and broccoli in the air fryer. When the chicken is done cooking, I add buffalo ranch sauce and head to work.
7:40 a.m. — Arrive to work a little late and work on the line list and continue looking over the community health assessment.
10:40 a.m. — Feeling hungry so I go downstairs and get Cheez-Its for a snack. It was supposed to be 75 cents but I only get a nickel back as change. $0.95
12 p.m. — I watch a presentation on COVID and the church community. It's a really interesting look into how religious leaders are working to get the vaccine out in their community while continuing church within COVID guidelines.
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1 p.m. — I have lunch while I read subreddits about Real Housewives. I also take this time to request the Obelisk Gate from the library. I make calls to hospitals and to patients who have reportable diseases. Calling patients is usually a hit-or-miss thing. It can either go really well or really negatively and this can either be my favorite part of the day or the worst part of the day. Luckily, today's patients are all very kind and want to speak with me.
4 p.m. — I go home and take my dog out into the yard and play a little fetch.
6 p.m. — I do therapy and we talk about dating and not trusting myself to choose good partners. My therapist also discusses moving to biweekly sessions because I have improved since I started. When I first started, I was dealing with moving to a new place during a pandemic and not properly dealing with the trauma of an abusive ex and having my home broken into while I was sleeping. However, the coping mechanisms my therapist taught me have helped a lot and I'm doing much better. $100
7 p.m. — I go to the grocery store because I don't want anything I have in my fridge. I get salmon burgers, buns, and a Caesar salad. I then walk next door to the Dollar Tree and get one of my favorite candies: orange creamsicle Twizzlers. $17.09
7:30 p.m. — I cook dinner and realize my uncle's funeral is being held on Facebook Live and join in. It's a somber occasion but realizing the positive impact he had on his community is really inspiring to me and I dream of living a life like his.
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10 p.m. — I missed the beginning of the funeral so I go back and watch and then take my dog outside to use the bathroom and go to bed.
Daily Total: $118.04

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I oversleep and jump out of bed. I let my dog out in the yard while I get ready. I don't have time to make breakfast or lunch so I go on the Chick-fil-A app and order a spicy burrito, a grilled burrito, and two kale sides. I use a reward on one of the kale sides. $10.64
7:40 a.m. — I arrive at work and check to see if the line list needs to be updated while I eat my breakfast. I get a call back from a hospital about a patient and follow up with them.
12:30 p.m. — I have the grilled chicken burrito and kale salad for lunch then attend a conference about Hepatitis C treatments.
2 p.m. — I meet with my supervisors about how to collect information from hospitals about opioid overdoses and how to get Narcan to patients. This has been really difficult because it's a new project and overdoses are sensitive information so hospitals are wary about sharing information.
4 p.m. — I go home, take my dog out, and take a nap.
6 p.m. — I start cleaning because my mom will be coming on Friday to help me move my furniture from my old apartment, so I need to get ready for her.
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7:30 p.m. — I have a meeting with my boot camp group about data cleaning for our project and then make salmon burgers and Caesar salad for dinner.
9 p.m. — I do yoga on Nike Training Club and read some of The Obelisk Gate before taking my dog out to use the bathroom and going to bed.
Daily Total: $10.64

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — I take the dog out in the yard and run around with him before coming back in for a nap since I have today off.
8:30 a.m. — I finish cleaning up the house and then let the dog out again.
1 p.m.— I make an omelette with broccoli, bacon, and cheese and eat lunch while watching High On The Hog.
4 p.m. — I take my dog out, and while he's in the yard, I go to check the mail. My dog's tag from Firefly Lane Stamping has arrived and it's adorable. It's made from a bottle opener and is hand stamped. I absolutely love it.
4:30 p.m. — Start making dinner. I make chicken and broccoli with soy sauce, gochujang, and sesame oil over rice. While eating dinner, I watch High On The Hog.
7 p.m. — I go on Instagram to watch some of the latest drama from a 90 Day Fiancé star and then I go on Reddit and read AITA.
8:30 p.m. — My aunt and uncle sent me a Target gift card and I need wine, so I head out to the store. Turns out, they don't have wine. Since I can't get wine, I get a new toothbrush, toothpaste, watermelon tennis balls for my dog, and Body Keeps The Score (recommended by my therapist). The cashier tells me that they price-match books on Amazon so I go back and get The Parable of the Sower as well since the books come out cheaper than I expect. I put it on the gift card.
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10 p.m. — I wash dishes, take my dog out, and pack for my trip to my old place before going to bed. Having the townhouse in my old state has been stressful so I fall asleep grateful that this chapter in my life will soon be over.
Daily Total: $0
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