A Week In Columbus, OH, On A $75,000 Salary

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 government affairs manager who makes $75,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on White Claw hard seltzer.
Occupation: Government Affairs Manager
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 26
Location: Columbus, OH
Salary: $75,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $4,378
Additional Income: ~$180 per month for teaching yoga
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $950 (my half) for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom rented condo I share with my boyfriend
School Loans: $0
Car Payment: $200 (I pay more than required so I can pay it off early.)
Work Parking: $80
Car Insurance: $60 for my half
Utilities: ~$75 for my half
Cable: $60 for my half
Wine Club: $40
Phone: $42
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $80 taken out of my paycheck
Gym: $120 (I also go to the yoga studio I teach at for free.)
Retirement: $625 from each paycheck. I'm in the state employee system and automatically put in 10% of my income with a 14% employer contribution.
Netflix: $0 (My sister pays.)
Hulu: $0 (I bum off my college roommate.)
Amazon Prime: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
Spotify: $16 (I pay for a family plan with my sister and her boyfriend on it.)
Savings: $300-$500 to a basic savings account, depending how much is leftover at the end of the month. My savings account has almost $20,000 in it, but I don't have any investment accounts, and I really need to learn more about it. I'm trying!

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Wake up after a shocking 8.5 hours of restful sleep. I generally don't sleep well, but I think my body cooperated after a weekend in D.C. celebrating my best friend's birthday. I lived in D.C. for almost eight years, and it's bittersweet leaving every time I visit (even though I'm still recovering two days later). My boyfriend, H., takes our dog for a walk while it's 15 degrees out. Sweet angel.
8:15 a.m. — Walk to work after eating a protein waffle with Kodiak Cakes mix, pumpkin, collagen protein powder, flax, and an egg. I try to walk to work once or twice per week.
12 p.m. — Like clockwork, my stomach is screaming at me. I walk to the post office on campus to drop off my tax refund information and think about whether I'll save most of it or treat myself when my refund arrives. I scarf my packed lunch of salsa chicken, roasted broccoli, and sweet potato.
5:30 p.m. — Start the cold 25-minute walk home after a very busy afternoon. I took Friday off, and it always feels like I'm scrambling the following week when I take time off.
6 p.m. — I get my car and run to the grocery for whole carrots (anyone else loathe baby carrots?), onions, garlic, tomato paste, tomatoes, rosemary-and-sea-salt bread, bacon, and three types of cheese. $55.15
7:30 p.m. — Today is Fat Tuesday, and despite the plan to cook turkey burgers, I suddenly demand tacos. H. picks them up from our favorite place, Condado, on his way home from a workout. They stuff tacos to the brim, making for a perfect Fat Tuesday meal. H. pays.
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9 p.m. — Start my nighttime routine after food coma puppy snuggles and half a cookie from Milk Bar that I brought home from D.C. Promptly pass out after.
Daily Total: $55.15

Day Two

4:50 a.m. — I'm up after an okay night's sleep to get ready for a 5:30 workout. I have to repeatedly tell myself I will feel better when class is over at 6:30. I bought class packs for this gym last fall.
8 a.m. — Out the door to work after coming home from the gym to walk/feed the dog, get ready, and make a small smoothie of unsweetened almond milk, collagen protein powder, flax, and frozen berries. Since it's Ash Wednesday, I'm participating in the fast, which equals two small meals (not to be larger than one regular meal combined) and one regular meal. Also, no meat.
11 a.m. — I generally try not to drink coffee, but I can't shake my headache and I hope caffeine will help. $2.10
3 p.m. — The afternoon approaches quickly after morning meetings and knocking things off my to-do list. I work on federal legislative issues important to the university, even though I'm based on campus. I snack on a rice cake and peanut butter and order more ground flax seed and shaker balls for my Blender Bottle on Amazon. Pork rind breadcrumbs appear as a suggested purchase. I'm down for some food trends, but really? Up-charged ground pork rinds? To each their own, I guess. $13.65
7:30 p.m. — I come home after Ash Wednesday mass (I donated $5 to the collection basket) with my parents and H. I make us dinner of homemade tomato soup and three-cheese grilled cheeses. Perfect non-meat meal on a 14 degree Ash Wednesday. $5
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9 p.m. — My parents leave, and I browse the sale on Anthropologie's website. I'm looking for a white top to match a red skirt I recently bought, so I save a few options (and maybe a dress or two) to reassess tomorrow and see if I still like them. I finish my book, Text Me When You Get Home, and fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $20.75

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and run four miles. I know I'll hate myself for saying this in mid-July, but dang I am ready for warmer running weather.
8 a.m. — I leave for work after doggie duty/doody (I'm a sucker for puns), getting ready, and talking with H. over a breakfast of eggs and toast. We both recently started new jobs after moving in together last year, so we have a lot of new routines and try to make sure the stress of our new jobs doesn't get in between us.
9:15 a.m. — I leave for a doctor's appointment. I have the implant birth control that stays in your arm for three years, and I need it replaced. Man, time flies! I've switched insurance since the first time I had it, so I spent over an hour calling the pharmaceutical and insurance companies confirming it's covered under my plan. I think people our age (and everyone in general) need to be smarter healthcare consumers. Costs are rising and cost-sharing is changing, and people need to know what their plan does and what options they have. I don't have a copay.
11 a.m. — I fill up on my way back to work ($22.91) and get a small half decaf coffee ($1.75) because I can't shake this headache from yesterday. I eat my packed lunch of salsa chicken and sautéed peppers and onions when I'm back at my desk. $24.66
2 p.m. — My boss leaves for vacation. Cue Meredith Grey/Cristina Yang dance party!!! I celebrate by succumbing to the Anthro tabs I saved yesterday. As with most online purchases, I'm sure most things will look weird as hell on me instead of breezy and chic like they do on the models. I expect I'll return most of it, but hope I'll end up with one top to go with this skirt. $249.40
8 p.m. — Walk with H. and the doggo to CVS after eating a dinner of leftovers and watching The West Wing. I am FINALLY watching The West Wing after years of working in politics. We're into season six of seven. Bartlet went into paralysis, and I was SHOOK! (The show ended over 12 years ago, I think it's fine to mention spoilers.)
10 p.m. — Finally home after getting a birthday card for my cousin and burning some energy off the dog. He's the cutest damn thing, but man when he has the zoomies it can be exhausting. At home, H. and I have a conversation about our future. We want to get married, and I feel ready to make that next step (a.k.a. big sparkly rock on my finger), but I think he wants to pay off more student loans before we go down that path. Plus he just started his new job. I try and tell myself everything will fall into place, but I hate when we don't reach a resolution when we have deep conversations. I get ready for bed and fall asleep quickly. $4.64
Daily Total: $278.70

Day Four

7 a.m. — Good grief, I do not normally sleep this late during the week. H. already got up to walk the dog and I thought it was Saturday, but at least it's Friday! I make eggs and toast and get ready. I feel guilty that I didn't work out, but at least I don't have to wash my hair. I walk to work — I've been walking to work a lot this week because I just found a new podcast Crime Junkie. I'm OBSESSED. I find myself audibly gasping about a case on my walk and slightly feel like a crazy person.
3 p.m. — I have some fires to put out today, so I don't get the chance to eat until 3. I have sautéed peppers and veggies because it's a Lenten Friday. I also do some major damage at Lululemon. For International Women's Day, our local shop offered 18% off on top of my 25% discount for being an instructor. I take the opportunity to stock up on black leggings and a tech jacket. $337.17
5:30 p.m. — I come home to quickly change and get to my yoga studio by 6:15 for my shift. I teach a sculpt class. Friday evening class isn't ideal, but hopefully I can bring in good attendance. I bring a smoothie of almond milk, collagen peptides, flax seed, almond butter, and frozen berries I made at home.
9:30 p.m. — Finally home! Class was great, and I made a playlist of lady jams in honor of International Women's Day. It was a hit. H. and I meet our friends for pizza afterwards (he pays) and we come back to our house for wine and Big Little Lies. I watched it when it came out, but it's so interesting to watch again now that I know what happens. Our friends leave after one episode, and I hit the hay.
Daily Total: $337.17

Day Five

7:15 a.m. — Up and at ‘em again. I have to embrace the suck of being tired (and it being dark outside) and head to an 8 a.m. class before I teach at 10:30.
9:15 a.m. — I head to a local coffee shop down the street in between my classes to get a half decaf coffee to pump up for my class. I leave a dollar tip. $3.15
12:30 p.m. — Home after the BEST class I've ever taught. I started teaching a year ago, but I was so timid at the beginning and was afraid to really take control of the room. I've noticed a drastic change in the past six months with my overall confidence and ability to share my creativity and love of fitness with people. It's stressful to balance, but I've benefitted so much! Cue Elle Woods "exercising releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy" quote...
1 p.m. — I head to our local mall (which deserves its own zip code because of how massive it is) and return a sweater to Anthropologie ($102) and foundation at Sephora ($50.53). Anyone else feel like it's payday when they make returns?! H. meets up with me, and we have our monthly wine tasting at the winery where we're members. We have so much fun doing it. I tip the bartender $10 for the both of us. $10
5 p.m. — I'm finally home after the tasting, walking off the buzz, and grocery shopping. I'm slightly psychotic about groceries and buy roughly 75% from Trader Joe's, 20% from Costco, and the remaining 5% from Whole Foods. It takes a long time, but it's worth it for me. This week from Trader Joe's I buy mushrooms, apples, pears, avocados, Cruciferous Crunch salad mix, cauliflower gnocchi, tomato paste, flour, chicken stock, and Italian Truffle Cheese, which I could eat every day of my life ($50.68). Costco is a bigger trip this time because we stock up on broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Kerrygold cheddar, Kerrygold butter, chicken, cereal, laundry detergent, eggs, and avocado oil ($105.83). We're executive club members and got $30 cash back. I pick up white onions and steak from Whole Foods ($11.56). I put everything on our Splitwise, which is a godsend. $168.07
9:30 p.m. — Finally in bed after taking the doggo for an evening walk, eating leftovers for dinner, meal prepping, and writing a few things in my planner to get ready for the week.
Daily Total: $181.22

Day Six

6 a.m. — Up after 8.5 hours of sleep, but somehow it feels like four. #Mondays. My quality of sleep is truly a crapshoot. I shower, cook eggs and toast, get ready, and snuggle the dog before walking to work. More Crime Junkie!
12 p.m. — My morning drags because I have no desire to be here. I'm going to the Mumford & Sons concert tonight and I can't focus! I eat my lunch, which is a salad with grilled chicken, apple, pear, cheddar, almonds, and Greek yogurt honey mustard dressing. So. Tasty.
3 p.m. — I take a break from work and update my budget. I don't use a debit card; instead, I pay for everything on my two credit cards and pay them off every single month. Since reading Money Diaries, I've wanted to get a better handle on my finances. I'm great at saving but have never been calculated about it, so I'm tracking my spending better in a spreadsheet on a weekly basis. I did some damage in D.C. and with my recent retail purchases, but I know that will be it for a while.
5 p.m. — I'M OUTTA HERE. I walk home and find my parents and H. already at my apartment. My parents are going to a party to celebrate my uncle being named Irishman of the Year in our Irish club, which is the highest award a member can get. I'm sad I can't celebrate him tonight, but I'll think of him while at the concert. The party is at a pub close to our house, so my parents drop by to kill time.
7 p.m. — We meet our close friends for the concert. They also lived in D.C. when we did and moved to Columbus a few months after me. After dinner (they pay), we Uber to the arena (H. pays), and we all get drinks to continue the wine buzz we have. I can only get two drinks at a time, so I get a beer for H. and a big can of White Claw for me ($24). Our friends get their own drinks, and we check out the concert merch. I shamelessly buy a shirt ($45). I should've gone into vending for sports venues, because they charge you an arm and a leg. $69
11:30 p.m. — Home after one of the best nights since I moved back to Columbus. H. and I walk home. The show was amazing, and they played most of my favorite songs. It brings back a lot of memories. I first saw them in concert with my roommate at the time, who passed away pretty tragically about six weeks after the show. It's been almost four years since he died, and him convincing me to go to the concert on a weeknight is one of the best memories I have with him. I go to bed in a snuggle pretzel with H. feeling happy, nostalgic, and already dreading my alarm tomorrow morning.
Daily Total: $69

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — My concert high quickly fades as I realize I slept through my alarm to work out. The studio charges ($15) if you don't cancel the class reservation within 12 hours, and I'm pissed at myself for forgetting to cancel it last night. It's also a really hard class to get into — these classes fill up within an hour of the signup window. I feel disappointed in myself as I get ready and head out. $15
12 p.m. — I get wrapped up in a tedious project all morning simply because no one else wants to do it. I eat my chicken, pear, and apple salad and grumble about the Mondayest Tuesday ever.
5 p.m. — I leave work incredibly annoyed. Nothing irks me more in the workplace than when people are passive and use phrases like, "Can we make sure to do x, y, z." I need you to be direct and tell me what you want and none of this passive "we" BS. If YOU'RE not helping me do it, then it's not a "we" situation. Ugh. I run to the grocery store to pick up things for a Guinness beef stew I'm making tonight as a pre-St. Patrick's Day treat. (I'm a little Irish, if you couldn't tell.) $44.10
10 p.m. — The stew takes almost three hours, so I run four miles while it simmers. I have the itch to get into running again, despite the toll it takes on my social life. I HATE eating dinner late, but this stew was worth it. H. and I scarf it down and watch The West Wing. I'm feeling a little more relaxed after this annoying day. I head to bed and feel determined to shake the grumblies before I wake up tomorrow. I dream that I'm at the concert again, singing at the top of my lungs.
Daily Total: $59.10
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