A Week In Arkansas On A $36,000 Salary

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Today: a financial aid specialist working in higher education who makes $36,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Ritz Crackers.
Occupation: Financial Aid Specialist
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 23
Location: Arkansas
Salary: $36,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,042.59
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom duplex. (My half is $300. I live here with my husband, A., and our kitty fur baby.)
Student Loan Payment: $142 (I owe around $23,000 in total.)
Car Payment: $369.95
Health Insurance/Dental/Vision: $58.18, deducted from my check pre-tax
Short-Term Disability/Life Insurance: $15.07 pre-tax (My employer pays for Long-Term Disability.)
Utilities: $70-$100 for my half, depending on the time of year
Cable/Internet: $57.18 for my half
Phone: $45 for mine
Car Insurance: $140.18
Renters Insurance: $7.11 for my half
Amazon Prime: $14.22
Apple Music: $10.94
Netflix: $15.32 (My parents use this and so does A.'s best friend and his wife.)
Donations: $15 to Planned Parenthood
Credit Card: $50 to my main card ($2,453 total) and at least $54 to my Torrid card ($400). I'm trying to pay off the Torrid card first.
401(k): I contribute 4% of my salary, and my employer matches 10%. I currently have $800 in my 401(k) at my new job, and $2,300 in a different 401(k) from a previous job.
Savings: $100 (This will increase when my cards are paid off. I also have $3,500 in a stock account that A. and I plan to build up to use for a down payment for a house.)

Day One

8:30 a.m. — Why the hell am I awake? I get up after failing to fall back asleep, brush my teeth, and wash/moisturize my face. A. is still asleep, so I grab my phone and water bottle and head into the living room. I turn on the Keurig and realize that it snowed this morning! Not a lot, but enough to cover the ground. I get my cup of coffee, settle down on the couch with the fur baby, and watch last Sunday's episode of Outlander.
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11 a.m. — I hop in the shower because my stepdad is picking me up after he's done grocery shopping. I'm supposed to watch a movie with my mom today, and they don't want me to drive because of the slick roads. After I shower, I put on moisturizer, blow dry and straighten my hair, throw on a hoodie and leggings, do my makeup, and slip into my old Uggs. My stepdad arrives a few minutes later, and we leave.
12 p.m. — My mom makes me a ham and cheese sandwich for lunch and then we snack on some Rotel. The movie we wanted to watch (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald) isn't available for rent yet, so we watch a basketball game and chat until A. comes to get me. A. and I head home and then I snuggle the fur baby while we try to decide what to do for dinner. We end up getting into a stupid argument, and he leaves to go get his own food. I make mushroom penne pasta and retreat to our room when he comes back home. I watch season one of Game of Thrones while I eat.
7:30 p.m. — I come back out to grab my bag of Sour Patch Kids and a bottle of water, and A. seems to be less dickish than he was earlier. I stay in the living room and we watch Chopped for an hour before he goes to bed. I wash off my makeup and then settle down in the living room to paint my nails and watch You.
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10:45 p.m. — After two episodes of You, I head to bed. I browse Amazon and Pinterest for a while, and then order a white marble print vanity tray set I found earlier on Amazon. I purchased a toothbrush holder and makeup brush holder from Marshalls the other day in the same print, and I'm obsessed with how great it looks in our bathroom. I fall asleep around 11:30. $26.49
Daily Total: $26.49

Day Two

8 a.m. — I wake up and wish that I could sleep as long as A. does sometimes. I get up, brush my teeth, wash/moisturize my face, slip on a pair of shorts, and then head into the living room. I make a cup of coffee in my Keurig and settle down on the couch to snuggle my fur baby. She's extra snuggly and purring because it's cold AF in here. I go ahead and start another episode of You.
10 a.m. — This show is SO crazy! I make another cup of coffee and settle in for yet another episode. I browse vacation ideas on Pinterest while I sip on my coffee. A. comes in around 11 and tells me to start getting ready because we've apparently been invited to his cousin's house. They grew up together and are more like brothers, and we call his little two-year-old boy our nephew. My best friend also happens to be his cousin's wife. We tell the boys all the time that they're lucky we get along so well, especially since we're over there almost every weekend. I straighten my hair and do my makeup while A. showers, then get dressed and put on my new Uggs. This pair was originally $200, and I got them for $115 after tax and shipping. I NEVER spend this much on shoes or clothes, so I don't feel guilty. I go online and order Ugg protection spray while A. gets dressed. $10.95
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12 p.m. — We leave the house, and I drive to his cousin's. On the way, we stop at McDonald's because I really want a McGriddle, but they aren't accepting cards, so we drive to Sonic instead. I get a popcorn chicken meal with a Coke, and A. gets two breakfast burritos. He pays. We finally make it to his cousin's house, and I share my chicken and tater tots with our nephew. My friend leaves to go to her hair appointment and the boys go to the liquor store, so I stay behind and play games with our nephew. When the boys get back, they turn on the football game. A.'s other cousin and his girlfriend show up, and then we have deer roast with potatoes and carrots for dinner.
5 p.m. — The girls and I are bored, so we decide to drive to Braum's to get some ice cream. I order a medium chocolate shake, and then we head back to the house. $3.59
1o:30 p.m. — We finally head home after a night of football and playing with our nephew. Before we leave, A.'s cousin sends us home with 30 pounds of ground deer meat. He's big into hunting and offered to shoot a deer for us if A. helped him process it and bought him a new pack of broadheads. Score! When we get home, I clear out our freezer and stack up the deer meat. Then I eat a PB&J with a glass of milk and play on Pinterest while A. watches fishing videos. I fall asleep, and A. wakes me up around 12:45. I get a glass of water, do my nightly routine, follow him to bed, and am asleep again by 1:15.
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Daily Total: $14.54

Day Three

8 a.m. — Apparently my body is determined not to sleep in this weekend. Since I'm already awake, I may as well go and get my oil changed. I get up, brush my teeth, wash/moisturize my face, run the straightener through my hair, do my makeup really quickly, and get dressed and put on my Uggs. Then I run out to start my car, fill my travel tumbler with coffee from the Keurig, start the dishwasher, and head out.
8:45 a.m. — I get there and fill out my info, and they line my car up. I drink my coffee and play on my phone while I wait. They come in after a few minutes and tell me I need to change my air filter and rotate my tires. I tell them to hold off, and I'll come back another day — I was only planning on the oil change cost today. They also top off my wiper fluid, air up my ties, and vacuum the floorboards. I love this place — the men are always very nice, and they're fast. I'm out the door by 9:05, and then I drive to TJMaxx and sip on my coffee until they open their doors. $44.88
10 a.m. — I find a blouse that I like, plus a little organizer for Q-tips and cotton balls ($21.89). Next stop is Walmart for gas and groceries. I fill up my tank ($20), which usually lasts me two weeks. I hate going to Walmart, but there's not really any other option. I finish my coffee, pray for sanity, and then go inside. I get Ritz crackers, Rice-A-Roni, cranberry/pecan salad toppings, Amy's frozen tofu pad Thai, Laughing Cow cheese, blueberry Greek yogurt, baby spinach, tampons, a bag of Boom Chicka Pop, a loaf of bread, half a rotisserie chicken, bananas, Clorox wipes, and a gallon of milk ($44.49). Then I head home, unpack the groceries, and start tidying up. $86.38
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12 p.m. — A. leaves to go buy a new fishing rod, and I start a load of laundry, clean out the litter box, and start the Rice-a-Roni for lunch. While that cooks, I unload the dishwasher and reload it, then work on cleaning up the kitchen. Once the food is done, I sit down on the couch to eat and watch You.
1:30 p.m. — A. gets home as my episode is ending, so I let him have the TV and I resume cleaning. I clean out our bathroom cabinets, wipe down the counters, and then set up my new vanity tray set that came in. Loooove it! I sweep and lay out my new rug. A. takes out the bathroom and kitchen trash for me and puts new trash bags in while I start mopping the bathroom floor. Once that's done, I decide that the rest of the living room cleaning can wait. I change into one of A.'s t-shirts and flop on the couch.
4 p.m. — A. offers to take me shopping for new bath mats, because ours are starting to fall apart. We head to Ross and pick out a new set. A. pays, since I've bought the last two sets. On the way home, he swings by the bank and gives me money for his share of the bills. When we get home, I jump in the shower while A. starts a load of towels and throws the clothes in the dryer. When I get out, A. tells me he wants to go out for dinner, but I want to stay in. I offer to cook and make chicken parm for dinner, so I do. Afterwards, A. cleans up and puts the leftovers away, and then we watch Jeopardy! on Netflix.
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8:30 p.m. — I change the sheets on our bed and then fold laundry. At 9:45, I go kiss A. and the fur baby goodnight, and then lay down and watch The Office. A. comes to bed shortly after and I'm asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $131.26

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I meant to get up earlier, but I snoozed through my alarms. I get up, do my morning routine, and get dressed. I spray on perfume and put on deodorant, then kiss A. goodbye and head into the kitchen to start the Keurig. I love on the fur baby, then put on my boots and put my lunch together. Today I'm taking the Amy's pad Thai, a banana, and a Laughing Cow Cheese with crackers. When my coffee's done, I add creamer, grab my stuff, and hit the road by 7:35.
9:30 a.m. — My team leaves to go work in a private computer lab. We have an audit coming up and need somewhere quiet to work. Before we go, we stop at the convenience store downstairs. I grab a water bottle and a bag of white cheddar SkinnyPop. Then I work on processing student files and help a coworker update some information. I snack on my cheese and crackers and then eat my banana. $4.38
12:15 p.m. — Time for lunch! I heat up my pad Thai and eat while I check my bank account. We're getting our boss a gift card for her birthday, so I chip in my part. After my 30-minute lunch break, I get back to work and munch on the SkinnyPop I bought earlier. $5
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4 p.m. — Leaving time! I have a terrible headache. I head to the bank to deposit the money A. gave me into my bank account, and I also swing by Sonic and get a large Coke to see if it helps with my head. I get home around 4:40 and check the mail. My W2 from my old job came in! I only need one more document, and then I can do my taxes. A. is still at work, so I start watching You and hope that I can finish the season before he gets home. I take a peek at my bank account and then look over our budget. Everything's been paid that comes out of this check, minus my phone bill. $2.62
6:30 p.m. — I pause You to heat up last night's leftovers and shred the chicken for my salad tomorrow. The leftovers are kinda blah today, but oh well. I finish the last episode of You, and DAMN. That was crazy!!! I text my friend to talk over the show, and then I put on The Office and start my taxes. A. gets home while I'm in the middle of them and takes over the TV. I'm unsure of whether to file separate or joint, because his taxes are always fucked. We got married this past fall, so this is a first for us.
9:45 p.m. — I'm mentally exhausted, so I shut the laptop down, wash off my makeup, and brush my teeth. I tell A. goodnight and give the fur baby some pets before I go crawl into bed. I set my alarms and then browse Pinterest. I'm still awake when A. comes to bed around 11, and have a hard time getting sleepy.
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Daily Total: $12

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — Oops. I roll out of bed and hurry through my morning routine. I go outside to start my car, and apparently we had some freezing rain last night. I go back in, make my coffee, eat a yogurt, pack my lunch, and start the dishwasher. I'm out the door by 7:40, and I somehow make it to work a few minutes early! I put my lunch in the fridge, make my to-do list, check my email, and then put my headphones in and get to work.
8:30 a.m. — I get a notification that my Poshmark sales have been direct deposited into my bank account. I login to my Torrid account and put the money ($52) towards my credit card bill. One of my coworkers sends an email about Girl Scout cookies, so I order a box of Thin Mints and a box of Samoas online. I eat the banana I brought. $10
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! I eat a spinach salad with chicken, cranberries, pecans, and croutons with balsamic vinaigrette. When I finish, I have my Laughing Cow cheese and crackers.
4 p.m. — Time to go, and it's bitterly cold outside. A. calls and tells me he ate a late lunch, so I stop and get an order of tofu pad Thai to go. I'm not a vegetarian, I just really like tofu with my pad thai, lol. I swing by my financial advisor's on the way home and sign a form they forgot to have me sign the other day to change my last name on the account. Then I head home and eat. Afterwards, I put on season one of Game of Thrones and start looking up vacation ideas. At 6:45, I take a long, hot shower. $10.90
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8:30 p.m. — We tentatively discuss California for our vacation this year. I went when I was younger, but A.'s never been. I start getting estimates so that I can determine how much we need to save for a five-day trip. I'd like to go to Disneyland, but convincing him will be difficult. A. makes a cup of chocolate milk, and now I want one, too. I make a glass and then curl up with the fur baby. At 10:15, I do my nightly routine and head to bed. I'm asleep by 10:45.
Daily Total: $20.90

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I go into our bathroom and do my morning routine. After I get dressed, I start my car so my windshield can defrost. Then I come back in, eat a yogurt, and pack a banana and some Boom Chicka Pop for a snack. No packed lunch today, since I'm having lunch with a mentor/friend. I decide to swing by Starbucks this morning instead of making coffee at the house. I'm out the door by 7:25.
7:40 a.m. — I order a venti white mocha with an extra shot, and I pay using a gift card that A.'s dad got me for Christmas. I get to work right at 8 and put my stuff away, turn on my computer, check my email, and make my to-do list. I put in my headphones and start working.
10:45 a.m. — I finish organizing my binder for our audit, and now I have nothing to work on. I don't go to lunch for another 45 minutes, so I offer to help my work friend organize his binder. He's working full-time and going to school right now, and I know he's swamped. He accepts and thanks me repeatedly.
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11:30 a.m. — I meet my friend, and we head to lunch. She and her husband have been friends with my parents since I was a kid, and her husband was my manager at my first job. We go to a little cafe and I get a French dip sandwich and a Pepsi, which comes with chips and cookie. We catch up while we eat, and she asks me how I'm fitting in. She helped me get this job a couple months ago, and I'm forever grateful! I tell her I'm happy and that things are great. After we're done eating, we head back to the college. $12.70
4:30 p.m. — Time to go! I stayed a little later today to make up for the fact that I took an hour for lunch. I drive home, and when I arrive, A. is unusually smiley. He tells me to go look in our bedroom, so I open our bedroom door to reveal...new nightstands! Ah! It's weird what you get excited about as an adult. We have a list of things we'd like to buy for our place, and now he's crossed another thing off! He's the best. I give him a kiss and tell our fur baby what a great daddy she has. She's not impressed.
6 p.m. — I convince A. to go to Olive Garden for dinner because I've been craving it for weeks. I order chicken and gnocchi soup and five cheese marinara over angel hair pasta. He orders salad, lasagna, and a beer. I pay, since he bought the nightstands today. I have some leftovers, so I take it to eat with my salad for lunch tomorrow. We get home, and I immediately change into one of A.'s shirts and some pajamas pants. I lay on the couch, browse Pinterest, and text my hairdresser to schedule my next appointment. $37.38
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9:15 p.m. — It's bedtime. I kiss A. and the fur baby goodnight, and then go do my nightly routine. I refill my water bottle and put The Office on. I fall asleep to it basically every night, and A. turns it off when he comes to bed. I set my alarms, look at Pinterest, and then fall asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $50.08

Day Seven

7:05 a.m. — Fuuuuck. I'm gonna be late. I jump out of bed and rush through my morning routine. I get dressed, put on my shoes, and kiss A. goodbye. I walk into the living room...and there are pistachios everywhere. A. is gonna kill the cat. I run out and start my car, make my coffee, and pack my lunch. Today, I have salad, leftover pasta, a banana, and Laughing Cow cheese with crackers. I get all of my crap and am out door by 7:40. Happy FriYAY!
8 a.m. — Right on time! We give our boss her birthday card and gift card, and then sit down for a meeting. When it's over, I sort through my emails and make my to-do list. I submit my time sheet, since I had to use some sick time last week. Once that's done, I put in my headphones and start my work for the day.
12:30 p.m. — Time for lunch! I have leftover pasta, salad, and cheese and crackers. I chat with coworkers while I eat at my desk.
2 p.m. — I'm leaving early! My boss is very laid back and tells me if I'm finished with my work I can leave. I finish my last thing, say goodbye to my coworkers, and hit the road. When I walk outside, it's snowing! I get home, change into leggings and a hoodie, and watch last week's episode of Outlander.
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3:30 p.m. — A. calls to tell me that he's swinging by with his cousin to grab a tool they need. I call his cousin's wife and ask if she wants me to come over, and she says yaaaas. She's a teacher, so she's already done with work for the day. I get dressed and leave with the boys when they arrive and find the tool they need.
5:30 p.m. — My friend and I are in charge of dinner, so we order pizza. She orders, and I Venmo her half. We watch Shrek with our nephew while the boys fix the floor in their living room. The pizza finally arrives an hour later, and we all chow down while we watch Netflix. After they put our nephew to bed, we watch Jackass and laugh/cringe at the scenes. RIP Ryan Dunn! $15
11 p.m. — I wake up on their couch. A. and I hang out til 11:45, and then he drives us home. It's so damn cold. When we get home, I drink a glass of chocolate milk, and kiss A. and the fur baby goodnight. He doesn't have to work until 2 tomorrow, so he's gonna stay up and mess with his fishing shit. I do my nightly routine, change into one of A.'s t-shirts, and crawl into bed. Then I turn on The Office and make a list on my phone of everything I need to get done this weekend. Once that's done, I browse Pinterest until I can't keep my eyes open. I'm asleep by 1:30.
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Daily Total: $15
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