A Week In Scranton, PA, On $15.25 Per Hour

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 fabric engineer assistant working in manufacturing who makes $15.25 per hour and spends some of her money this week on a Yeti mug handle.
Occupation: Fabric Engineer Assistant
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 25
Location: Scranton, PA
Income: $15.25/hour (In addition to my job, I also pick up occasional shifts at my family's restaurant. I get paid $10/hour + tips.)
Paycheck Amount (4x/month): $450
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my parents.)
Student Loans: $650
Car Payment: $217
Health Insurance: $0 (I'm still on my mom's plan.)
Dental Insurance: $7.12
Phone: $0 (I'm still on the family plan.)
Car Payment: $217
Car Insurance: $155
Netflix & Spotify: $0 (My dad pays for these accounts.)
YMCA Membership: $0 (I'm on the family plan that my dad pays for.)
Other Gym Membership: $10
401(k): $97.24
Savings: I try to put $50-$100 away from every paycheck, but sometimes this doesn't happen, depending on what's going on each month.

Day One

6:40 a.m. — Wake up, pack my gym bag and some snacks for work, get ready, and then leave the house by 7:30 to get to work at 8. The morning is always chaotic at my house. There are five of us living in close quarters, and we all have to be out of the house before 8. I also really love to sleep, so my getting-ready routine is really minimal.
8:15 a.m. — Arrive at work a little late. It's super windy here today, so I took the long way to work just to be safe. I eat my breakfast of a homemade vegan protein muffin and some organic blueberries — yum!
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! I take a quick break from my desk and run out for a smoothie. My parents' restaurant is five minutes up the road from where I work, so I get lunch from there a couple times a week — because hey, who doesn't love free food?
4 p.m. — Time to leave work, and I head right to the grocery store. I really enjoy cooking. My boyfriend is vegan, so we eat most of our meals in. It's rare to come across good vegan food in Scranton. My boyfriend and I split our cooking duties in half — I cook Monday-Wednesday and he cooks Thursday-Sunday. Since his switch to veganism, I haven't cut out meat and dairy completely, but now I only eat it on occasion. (Sometimes I really just need some pizza in my life.) The three recipes I choose for this week are pad see ew, vegan Swedish meatballs with gravy, and falafel burgers. $55.83
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5 p.m. — I head to my boyfriend's sister's house to work out. She just bought a new Bowflex and workout app, so obviously I'm reaping the benefits. She has a whole home gym, and working out is always easier when you have someone to motivate you! Plus, she only lives about five minutes away.
7 p.m. — I get home and immediately fire up dinner. My dad and sister usually get home late, so I always make sure to cook extra for them! My mom and little bro aren't so much on board with the vegan trend. I sometimes get them to try our dishes, but it's not very easy. I make the pad see ew tonight. It's pretty good, but I probably won't keep it in my recipe arsenal.
10 p.m. — I'm showered and in bed. My boyfriend and I tune in for the pilot episode of The Enemy Within. We just finished Dexter on Netflix and are obsessed with Jennifer Carpenter, who also stars in this new show. My boyfriend and I are intrigued at the end, and agree we'll watch again next week. After the show, it's lights out!
Daily Total: $55.83

Day Two

6:40 a.m. — Same routine as yesterday!
8 a.m. — Get to work on time today. Have another muffin and some blueberries for breakfast.
12 p.m. — Starving. I eat veggie dumplings and caramelized onion hummus with blue corn chips for lunch, which I bought yesterday at the grocery store.
4 p.m. — Get out of work and head to the YMCA for a Zumba class! Classes are included in the membership, which I love. I pay $10 a month for another gym membership that is right up the road from where I work. I'm considering canceling it, though, to save some extra cash.
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5:30 p.m. — Head home after working out and get started on dinner. Tonight is the Swedish meatball recipe, which I found on Facebook. Update: It sucks! All the meatballs fall apart and cook into the sauce. I should have read the comments on the recipe and cooked the meatballs separately. It's edible but disappointing...I swear I'm a good cook, usually!
7 p.m. — Work on finishing a shirt I'm making for a customer at my parents' restaurant. I upgraded a plain white shirt with a pocket for my sister by sewing a felt doughnut with sprinkles I made on it, and a customer loved it and wanted her own! I love making things and enjoy the extra cash it sometimes puts in my wallet!
11 p.m. — Finish up the shirt and get ready for bed. Then I scroll on Instagram, where I see some really cute earrings. They're inexpensive, so I decide to get them. Sweet dreams! $10.96
Daily Total: $10.96

Day Three

8 a.m. — At work on time. I have another muffin for breakfast. I recently got new protein powder and made a big batch of muffins with it. They taste delicious and keep me full in the morning.
12:30 p.m. — I was so busy at work all morning that I forgot about lunch! I text my sister and order a salad from my parents' place for lunch to pick up. The free parking spaces are all filled at the restaurant, and I have to feed the meter, even though I'll be in and out. The parking-meter attendants in Scranton are vicious, and I'm not about to get a $25 ticket! $1
4 p.m. — Run home and mix up the falafel burgers for dinner before working out. I make a triple batch so I can give some to my boyfriend's family.
5:30 p.m. — Back again at my boyfriend's sister's to work out. My boyfriend's mom joins us this time. We jog outside and then do the weight portion of the workout. I give everyone some falafel burgers to have for dinner.
8 p.m. — Get home just in time to eat and to watch Riverdale. (Yes, I watch Riverdale at age 25, and no, I'm not ashamed.) My sister cooked up the burgers while I was working out. She rules!
10 p.m. — Shower and get ready for bed!
Daily Total: $1

Day Four

6:40 a.m. — Wake up, get dressed, and head to work.
8 a.m. — Arrive at work on time, eat my usual breakfast, and don't take a break until a little before lunch.
11:30 a.m. — Run out to pick up lunch. My favorite soup place is close to work, located in the mall. My gym is also in the mall, so I stop in to cancel my membership. I missed the cancelation window for this month, so I have my gym membership until April – womp, womp. Then I head to the soup stand in the food court. I get vegetable soup, one of my favorites. They also have some salads and sides in containers in a small cooler, so I grab pimento cheese dip to take to my aunt's house for dinner tonight. I grab kombucha to have with my lunch, too. $17.23
11:45 a.m. — Heading back to my car with my lunch, I remember I have a Starbucks gift card — score! I run in and order a tall Passion Tea Lemonade. I also pick up a cake pop for my little cousin. She loves them and will be at my aunt's tonight!
12 p.m. — Back at the office, I scarf down my lunch and get back to work.
4 p.m. — All done at work, I head to the YMCA for Zumba at 5:30. I sit in my car and read for an hour to pass the time. My current book is The Girls, and it's pretty good so far.
5:30 p.m. — Zumba time! It's a new teacher subbing, and she was awesome!
7 p.m. — Arrive at my aunt's. I help my aunt prepare taco salads and then play with my little cousin. We have a dance party and then play the Wizard of Oz. She picks me to be Glinda and my sister to be the Wicked Witch of the West.
9 p.m. — Get home, shower, and hop into bed — entertaining a four-year-old is hard work. Thank God tomorrow is Friday!!!!!
Daily Total: $17.23

Day Five

6:40 a.m. — It's Friday!!!!!! I do my usual morning routine and leave the house.
8 a.m. — I get to work and finish the last of the muffins, thankfully! They were great, but I was kind of getting sick of them, TBH.
11:30 a.m. — I run out to grab lunch at the restaurant. I get a lentil burger on a salad instead of a bun…so good. To counterbalance my healthy lunch, my sister packs me a hot fudge cheesecake square, too. It's all about the balance!
4 p.m. — I clock out of work and change for my exercise class. It doesn't start until 5:30, so I get there early and hang out in the parking lot. Tonight I'm taking a class called Pound, where you basically jump around and dance the whole time while pounding plastic drumsticks on the ground. It sounds silly, but it's so fun and a great workout!
5:30 p.m. — Time to pound away! Today is my last day for the pass I bought. The intro rate was $30 for a month of unlimited classes. Now I'll have to pay per class or buy a pass. I decide to hold off until the next time that I come, though, to save for right now.
6:30 p.m. — My mom and sister text me to meet them for dinner at our favorite pizza place. I usually eat at my boyfriend's on Fridays, but I decide to switch it up a bit, plus my mom is treating! I get a slice of chicken, bacon, and honey-mustard pizza and a slice of Sicilian. Sooo good.
7 p.m. — After dinner, I head to my boyfriend's house. He lives with his parents still, too, and is watching his niece tonight. We hang out, bake, talk about his niece's upcoming trip to Disney (she tells me I can come with!), and play video games.
11:30 p.m. — I want to head to the gym in the morning, so I head home and get ready for bed. Goodnight, people!
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — It feels good to sleep in a little bit. I wake up, get dressed, brush my teeth, and pack a bag of work clothes, since I'm working a shift at the restaurant. The YMCA is about 10 minutes from work, and I want to get a 45-minute workout in before I have to be at work at 10.
9 a.m. — I hop right on the elliptical for 30 minutes and then finish off my workout by running a mile on the treadmill.
10 a.m. — I get to work and make a smoothie for my breakfast. I can't eat before working out or I'll get sick.
3 p.m. — The day goes by pretty fast. I only make $50 in tips, which is around half of what I usually make. I remember we're celebrating my boyfriend's dad's birthday tonight, but I didn't get him anything. I got him a Yeti coffee mug for Christmas, but he hasn't been able to use it because the mug is hard for him to hold without the handle, so I go on the website of our local sporting-goods store and order a handle to be picked up today in-store. $10.99
4 p.m. — My sister and I head to the sporting-goods store and I pick up the handle…so easy! Next, we go to the grocery store. We usually do our shopping on Sundays, but we're supposed to have a snowstorm tomorrow, and we decide to go today while we have time. We figure out our meals and split the cost. $70
6 p.m. — I get home and shower to get ready for the birthday celebration. I then run to the local plaza by my house, where I get a card at the dollar store and then a gift card and lottery ticket at the grocery store. I run to fill up my gas tank, too, before the storm. $45.53
7 p.m. — I make it to my boyfriend's house. We eat, have birthday cake, then play games and watch Hairspray! I fall asleep from running around all day.
12 a.m. — I drive myself home and get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $126.52

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Wake up, brush my teeth, and get ready for spin class. It's a running tradition in my household. Every Sunday, my dad, sister, and I go to spin class at the Y and then go out to eat. I love starting off my morning right.
9 a.m. — Get to the Y early to get a bike because they fill up fast!
9:20 a.m. — Time to sweat it out and get the blood pumping.
10:30 a.m. — Class is over and we head to a new restaurant for breakfast. We wait 20 minutes for a table, but the prime rib poutine is worth the wait. Dad picks up the bill because he's the best!
11 a.m. — We get home before the snow is supposed to start. I hang out with my cat for about an hour. Today she is getting her nails clipped. We wait for the groomer to come.
12 p.m. — The groomer is in and out in five minutes. It's so convenient — she comes right to the house. I give her $20, which covers the service and tip. $20
1:30 p.m. — I bought stuff at the store to make fresh pressed juice and homemade almond milk. I do both and then make some avocado chocolate mousse. Snow days call for lots of treats!
5 p.m. — By the time I'm done with everything, it's dinner time. My sister made turkey chili. I watch Abducted in Plain Sight while I'm eating, and have my mind blown.
7 p.m. — I hang out at my house for the rest of the night, watching TV and chatting with my family.
10 p.m. — I get ready and hop into bed. I like to go to sleep earlier on Sundays so I'm well-rested for the work week. Mondays suck enough already when you're not tired!
Daily Total: $20
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