A Week In Athens, GA, On A $24,000 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 Ph.D. Graduate Assistant working in Horticulture who makes $24,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on corduroy pants.
Occupation: Ph.D. Graduate Assistant
Industry: Plant Breeding and Genetics
Age: 24
Location: Athens, GA
Salary: $24,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $1,800
Gender Identity: cis woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my boyfriend, B., on my family's farm)
Loans: $0
Tuition: $0 (thanks to my assistantship)
Audible: $15
Hulu: $6
Flea Medicine For Cats: $60
Nexguard For Two Dogs: $36
Heartguard For Two Dogs: $17
Boxing: $100
Classpass Lite: $9
Prescriptions: $20
Apple iCloud: $3
Vitamins: $10
Billie Razor: $10
Savings: $300-$500
Roth IRA: $100

Day One

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I push snooze. I really feel terrible. I spent last weekend in NYC and caught a cold. I also caught three days worth of hangovers.
9 a.m. — I finally get up. I let my dogs out and let my four rescue kittens out of their night time prison of the guest bedroom. They won't let me sleep if I let them stay out. We also have three grown cats and two dogs. Luckily, we live on a farm or the place would be a mess. I go back to the bathroom and use Kate Somerville face wash, acne cream, and moisturizer. I put on Tarte mascara and brow powder. I throw on leggings and a t-shirt. I always wear some variation of this. I go back to the kitchen, make coffee, and give my dog his joint medication in peanut butter and pour both dogs some dry food. I eat a Kind bar because I don't feel like making eggs. I leave the house at 10 to head to work.

2 p.m. — I've been a machine in the lab despite feeling like I could pass out any minute. I work on about three different things at once. I finally have a moment to eat and run over to the Einstein's in the building near me and get a hummus veg out bagel sandwich and a regular coffee. $9.75

5 p.m. — After finishing up my lab work and working on some homework, I head home. As I'm leaving the parking lot, a girl waves me down and I help her jump her car. I stop by Kroger on the way home. I spend $100 but B. will Venmo me $30 for the food I buy for him. I think I got enough food to last about a week but we will see. Recently, we've decided to try to eat less meat and add more fish into our diet so I get a lot of frozen seafood. $70
6:30 p.m. —I finally get home. I say hello to my excited pets and unload groceries. I then go feed the farm animals. Part of my living-for-free arrangement is taking care of the animals. We have horses, cows, donkeys, goats and more. After I feed the animals, I decide to ride the stationary bike for 30 minutes to get some sweat in for the day.

9:30 p.m. — B. and I don't eat dinner until 9:30. He got out of his welding class at 8, but hit a deer on the way home and had to deal with that. Comes with the territory of where we live. I make salmon and roast veggies and pour myself two glasses of wine. We watch comedy specials on Netflix while we eat and go to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $79.75

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I still feel terrible, so I snooze until 8. I turn my phone brightness to 100% and scroll for a minute to wake up. I put on my daily athleisure uniform and make coffee and eggs. Today I leave the house by 8:50.
12 p.m. — I work hard on fungal cultures all morning and then run to class. Once in my seat, I can barely keep my eyes open. Luckily class ends 15 minutes early so I have time to grab a coffee on the way to my next class. $2.55
2 p.m. — After my second class, I have time to eat lunch. I eat a banana and a lentil and roasted red pepper soup that I brought from home. I eat and read articles on Buzzfeed for 15 minutes before getting back to work.
4 p.m. — I head to a mandatory seminar, at least there's cheese and crackers!
5 p.m. — Finally this day ends. As a grad student, I don't have set hours, but I try to stick to 9 to 5. I leave the office and head to my CoreBox class.
7 p.m. — I get home and feed the animals with B. We end up getting frisky for awhile. At 9, I realize we haven't eaten so I make Thai coconut curry shrimp soup. I drink three glasses of wine while we watch The Bachelor. I've been trying to drink less so I get mad at myself, but I do really love red wine.
Daily Total: $2.55

Day Three

9 a.m. — It's finally Friday so I let myself sleep until 9. I never do this except, apparently, this week a couple of times. I'm hoping this extra sleep will fend off my cold. I usually work late on Fridays anyways and never take a long lunch break, so I don't feel like I'm slacking. I don't know why I even justify my work behavior when we don't have hour requirements. Some built-in guilt, I guess. I make coffee and eat a Kind bar for breakfast. I notice we're almost out of cat food again.
1 p.m. — I am moving and grooving in the lab this morning. I am doing cultures, DNA extraction, and transmission assay all at once. I finally sit down for lunch. Today I brought tomato soup. It gets lukewarm before I eat it because I get caught up working on my research progress for my committee and researching travel grants.
6 p.m. — I leave the lab at and go to FitBox. I buy a snack of beef jerky and sunflower seeds at the gas station on the way there. I feel guilty about eating beef but it's filling.
7:30 p.m. — Boxing was so fun! I get home and find that B. has already fed the animals and I am very grateful because it's dark and rainy. I make fish with couscous and arugula for dinner. We rent Anchorman on my parents' Prime account and play a drinking game to it. I drink three glasses of wine. I enjoy our nights in, but sometimes I get restless since my friends moved away. I make a plan to go to Atlanta next weekend to hang out with people. $3.59
Daily Total: $3.59

Day Four

9 a.m. — Good morning, I barely slept last night due to this cold. I scroll on my phone until 10 and then wake up B. for morning sex. He goes back to sleep when we're done and I get up to take my car to the Subaru place. There was a recall on it. I make coffee and eggs before I go but hurry to eat it all since the place is kinda far away.
2 p.m. — This day is such a blur! I spend a long time at the car place before they finally give me a loaner car for the weekend since my replacement isn't ready yet. The loaner car is super fancy and even has wifi. My home doesn't even have wifi! I get home and clean my house. My parents come up for the weekend and my dad wants me to go shoot clay pigeons with him. I've only shot a gun a couple of times, but I think it'll be fun, so I agree. We aren't as country as we sound, I promise! My parents still live in Atlanta and I did until college. Also, we all advocate gun control. After shooting clay pigeons for a while, we head to dinner.
7 p.m. — We go downtown for dinner. The restaurant is only a 15-minute drive from our farm. I have a quesadilla and two glasses of wine for dinner. We also got a cheese plate for the table. My parents pay.
10 p.m. — When we get home I drink some tea and quickly pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

9 a.m. — I wake up and actually feel rested. I let my dogs out and then get back in bed. I get an email that Urban Outfitters is having a big sale and decide to peruse. I buy corduroy pants, a henley, and a scarf for only $30! I know, I know, Urban, ugh, but the sale was too good. I release my kittens and feed them with the food B. got yesterday. I settle in with coffee and cut up a pear to snack on. I write a bit then make eggs and avocado toast. $37.45
12 p.m. — I spend most of today relaxing, something I almost never do. My sister comes by today and we trail ride our horses for a few hours. Then, I go through my Goodwill clothes with her and give her some of my unwanted leggings. We stop for lunch and eat PB&J sandwiches before heading out to the garden to pick kale. My mom goes to the grocery store and picks up a few things for me and doesn't make me pay her back.
5 p.m. — I ride the stationary bike for a bit then take a bath. I read The Giver of Stars in the bath. Baths and books are two things I love but rarely make time for, so this feels so nice. After my bath, I make a Trader Joe's bagged salad while B. goes to hang out with his friends (he still has a few friends left in town). I drink wine and watch Love Island until my eyes get heavy. I get in bed at 11.
Daily Total: $37.45

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I snooze it until 8. I know I got enough sleep but I can't get up. My headache medication does this to me. I used to never sleep and now I sleep too much. I make my coffee and then go get my car from the Subaru place.
10:30 a.m. — It takes a while to get my car so I don't start working until 10:30. I finish DNA extraction and set up a microscope. Around 11:30 I head to my boxing studio. I always go to noon boxing on Mondays and Wednesdays. It clears my head and makes me work better in the afternoon.
1 p.m. — Boxing kicked my butt. I use Native deodorant, brush my hair, and wipe my face with a Stridex acne wipe before going back to campus. I need to see my experimental designs TA, so I drive to a parking lot near their building. I'll have to pay, but it is worth it not to take the hour-long bus ride. I meet with my TA then get some homework done. I finish up and then go to the campus market to buy broccoli cheddar soup, Boom Chicka Pop, and a coffee. I drive back to the lab to start a new procedure. $14
7 p.m. — I finally finish my lab work. The protocol I was doing required a bunch of downtime, so I end up back on the Urban Outfitters sale page. I buy a cute jacket. I justify this purchase because all of my current jackets are athletic or farm wear. I get home and B. told me he fed the animals — what a guy. I shower and make a shrimp dish with rice. I get in bed at 10 but tummy troubles keep me awake until 11. $39
Daily Total: $53

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — It takes a while for me to get up because I slept poorly again. I do my morning routine and am out the door by 9.
9 a.m. — I spend the morning doing prep work in the lab and then going to my classes. I stop for lunch around 2:30. I buy a chicken salad sandwich and coffee ($7.85). I am so tired and don't want to keep working on my feet. Luckily, I have therapy soon so I get to leave early. I will catch up on data entry until then. I take a quick break first to buy some makeup brushes on Amazon for $9.50. $17.35
2 p.m. — After therapy, I work on data for a while longer. I then go get jerky, seeds, and gum before heading to CoreBox. CoreBox is a super intense 30-minute workout, which I love because it gets me home earlier. I drive up my driveway and see an unknown truck. The man in the truck introduces himself as Bubba and tells me he's looking to buy my dad's tractor. Living in the country is wild. $5.75
7 p.m. — My dad comes up to the farm to talk to Bubba and then decides to spend the night. He takes us to dinner at a tavern nearby. I get a greek salad and a glass of wine. I really enjoy spending time with my dad especially because he is getting older and his health is not great. I make tea when we get home. B. and I get frisky and then I take NyQuil. I go to sleep right before 11.
Daily Total: $23.10
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