A Week In St. Paul, MN, On $43 An Hour

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an IT analyst who makes $43 an hour and spends some of her money this week on Mountain Dew.
Occupation: IT Analyst
Industry: Management Consulting
Age: 25
Location: Saint Paul, MN
Salary: $43/hour (about $89,000 a year)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,900 pre-tax
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $300 (I live with my mom, but she charges me.)
Student Loans: $169
Car Insurance: $83
Phone: $75 (I pay my mom for my portion of the family plan.)
Orangetheory: $100 (for eight classes a month)
Debt Repayment: $1,650 (This includes a credit card loan and installment plans for things I've bought.)
Business Expenses: $225 (podcast hosting, paying an editor, business Gmail account)
Various Subscriptions: $55 (Hulu, HBO, Audible, Patreon, Spotify; I use my mom's Netflix)
Credit Card Payment: $200
Amazon Prime: $119, yearly
AMC A-List: $23.57
401(k): $0 (not eligible yet at my new job, but I have $12,200 from a previous job)
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Day One

6 a.m. — I'm gently woken up by my Sleep Cycle app. I like it enough to pay for it and keep using it. It shows I snored for 51 minutes. I've been snoring a lot more lately and can't figure out why. Weather??? Who knows, but I secretly like listening to the recordings it has of my snoring. I also read some nice sexts sent by someone last night. It sets the tone for the day.
6:45 a.m. — I'm getting ready for work, and I notice my acne has been really bad lately. I upload some pictures of my face to an online derm service, and we'll see if they recommend any prescriptions.
8 a.m. — I arrive at work later than I'd like, because there was an accident and it took me an hour. Love this new job, hate the commute. I get the results back from the derm service, and they send two prescriptions over. Insurance covers the visit. Acne, be gone.
8:30 a.m. — Grab breakfast from the company cafeteria. One bagel with cream cheese and an apple juice, please. I broke up with my boyfriend last week and haven't gone grocery shopping yet, lol. Yikes. I'll get to it tomorrow. $4.17
11 a.m. — Steal some free popcorn. I guess it's not stealing if it's free. But this is my second bag, so I feel bad.
11:20 a.m. — Lunchtime. I've been dealing with my new health insurance for like two hours, and I am angry because I don't think I should wait six weeks to get a psychiatrist visit. Work told us there would be food trucks here, so I didn't pack my lunch. Alas, the trucks have been moved to next Tuesday. I get fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans from the cafeteria. Pretty average, and I only eat half of it. $8.45
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12:20 p.m. — Skype is down, so I can't attend my meetings. I browse around on David's Bridal to pick a dress for a wedding I'm in this May. Another bridesmaid took my preferred style, so I have to find another one. They're all ugly. I think it looks best when people all have the same dresses, but it's not my wedding. I send my picks to the bride; we'll see what she says.
1:30 p.m. — There's a snack cart coming around the office to raise money for charity. Everything is $1. I buy a pack of shitty doughnuts. Why is sugar so addicting???? $1
4:30 p.m. — I'm free! I leave the office and drive to a chiropractor appointment. Bummer, though, because the check-engine light and gas light go on at the same time!! I text my dad asking what I should do and am annoyed because car expenses are not planned for this month. I go to a chiropractor because I have a chronic shoulder problem. She does muscle work along with spinal alignment, and I think it's been really helping! I have new insurance, though, so I hope she's still covered.
6 p.m. — I leave the chiro and fill up my tank. The chiropractor informs me that she is still in-network! Dad didn't text back, so I guess I soldier on (it's probably because I need an oil change? Who knows). $30.86
8 p.m. — Podcast time! I host a podcast (doesn't everyone), and we record once a week. This takes an hour, but I feel weirdly nauseous so I don't think it was my best episode. After recording, I Skype with my co-host and another friend for an hour. We all met online, so it's nice that we're able to find the time to talk face-to-face.
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10 p.m. — BEDTIME. It has been a long day, and I want to sleep long and deeply.
Daily Total: $44.48

Day Two

6 a.m. — Snooze snooze snooze. I don't actually leave my bed until 6:30, which is kind of late, oops. I check my Sleep Cycle app — I only snored 10 minutes. That means I'll probably be less tired today. I also check to find a yummy picture from my sexting buddy. I tell him good morning and send some drool emojis.
7:30 a.m. — Arrive at work and run to the cafeteria before my 8 a.m. standup. I get a bagel with butter this time and a cranberry juice. $3.85
8:15 a.m. — Enter my spending from the past few days into my master budgeting spreadsheet. It's payday tomorrow, and I could really use the influx of cash to pay off a credit card, but I can wait one more day.
9:15 a.m. — Someone brings in free doughnuts. I need this sugar to last me until lunch. I stayed up later than I wanted last night, and now I'm feeling the effects. Maybe I'll go into my car and take a nap later. I read an article Nora Ephron wrote about her apartment, and it's delightful.
11 a.m. — I walk around because the cafeteria doesn't open until 11:15. I need to talk to my boss about finding more work to do, because right now there isn't a whole lot. It kind of scares me, because I'm a month in and feel like I should be able to have more responsibilities. I wander down to the café at 11:15 on the dot and get a grilled cheese with fries and a Mountain Dew (it's my vice because I don't drink coffee. I predict I will have this meal two more times during my Money Diary). $6.11
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12:15 p.m. — A movie that some people have recommended to me (Joe Versus the Volcano with Tom Hanks) is playing at the Alamo Drafthouse. The showing is almost sold out, even though it's a few weeks away, so I buy a ticket. I love going to movies alone — no one bothers you and you don't have to hold hands with your date awkwardly. $10.27
2 p.m. — I hide out in my company's meditation room. I think we're in a slow season, so I just kind of take walks and find random nooks and crannies to hunker down in. I'd watch things on Netflix if it wasn't so obvious.
4:15 p.m. — I leave work and head out to my happy hour to meet a friend from Bumble BFF. It was my goal this year to make a couple of new friends, since I feel like a lot of my friends are married and set in their routines or have moved away. It's so fun! We talk for almost two hours, and it's totally not awkward. I get a glass of rosé sangria (not rosé) and some cheese curds. $11.26
7 p.m. — I leave my new Bumble friend and pick up the bride of the wedding I'm in. We're going back to David's Bridal to see if we can find me a dress that I like. After trying on, like, six dresses, I find a halter one that makes me look good. Score! It's fun to catch up with my friend, and I drop her off around 8:30.
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8:45 p.m. — Home for the night. I usually don't do this much activity in any given week, but the rest of my weekend is packed, too. I neglect to shower since I'm working from home tomorrow, so I just chill and swipe through my phone until lights out at 10:30.
Daily Total: $31.49

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — Late wakeup call, baby. And, it's payday. I was worried last night about my weight; I kind of haven't been eating the healthiest lately, and I'm going to the doctor today. I really don't want to see my weight. I know there's more to health than weight, but I'm really thinking about it.
7:40 a.m. — I log on to work and pay some bills. Because I started in the middle of the month at my new job, I didn't really have any money for the beginning of the month, so I'm happy to be able to not feel like debt is breathing down my neck. I send my mom rent money and phone money, and I pay a credit card payment, as well as send my podcast editor his payment for the week (all above).
9 a.m. — I chat with my mom, and she convinces me to sign up for Weight Watchers so we can do it together. If Oprah can do it and eat bread, THEN SO CAN I. $15
11:30 a.m. — I go to the doctor's office, because I have to establish care to get my prescriptions refilled since my insurance changed. They're being slowwww, but finally I get set up with a doctor and some new prescriptions. I'm there for two hours and pay for my prescriptions. $56.62
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1:30 p.m. — By the time I get out of the doctor's office, it's late and I haven't had lunch. I make a game-time decision to get tacos at Taco Bell, and then dutifully enter them on my Weight Watchers app. Sigh. I'm really going to have to start eating vegetables, aren't I? $6.11
3 p.m. — Hallelujah, I ordered groceries. Instacart will change your life. I get some good stuff for salmon, chicken, and tacos this week. And a frozen pizza as a backup. I know I have to work late twice this week, so we'll see how much time I actually get to cook. :( $80.57
5:50 p.m. — I rush to get to a basketball game to meet my friend M. We are meeting her parents before and I'm LATE, so that's a good impression on people I haven't really seen since high school. They pay for dinner and drinks, HELL YEAH.
8 p.m. — Basketball game is well under way. Go Timberwolves! I buy the first round of drinks and tip. $30
9 p.m. — The game is over, and we head to a bar to wait out the post-game crowd and get a drink. M. pays for everything. I checked my bank balance, and I thought I must have bought one more round, but I guess I didn't!
11 p.m. — I'm home. I send a sext to my dude, and I pass the fuck out.
Daily Total: $188.30

Day Four

7 a.m. — I'm up and I don't really know why. I debate getting up, but decide to watch some episodes of Grey's Anatomy instead. I'm watching it for the first time, and I'm absolutely HOOKED.
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8:30 a.m. — I finally get breakfast — Rice Krispies cereal and almond milk. I go back to bed and watch more Grey's. I call to switch my Orangetheory class.
10 a.m. — I cancel my Orangetheory class. I've been so bad at going lately. I feel bad, and I know I need to get my motivation back. Ugh.
1:30 p.m. — My friend texts me and tells me that bingo is soon, so I book it out and we go to a dive bar. Football happens for a little bit, and then bingo starts. My other friend S. won $700!!!! She pays for the rest of the night, lmao, but I do buy the first round for everyone. Why am I so generous even though I'm cash poor? $36
5 p.m. — We're at the bar for a loooong time. Bingo takes forever, and I always forget. I'm happy my friend wins, but I'm really mad that I didn't win (though I didn't even pay for the bingo card). We decide to go axe-throwing, which just feels very American. Do they have axe-throwing bars in other parts of the world? S. pays for drinks and pizza. Sorry, Weight Watchers.
7:30 p.m. — Home and decide to Skype with D., my podcast co-host. We're bored on a Saturday night, and we can usually find things to talk about and just shoot the shit for a while. We start watching The Last Jedi and only get about an hour through before I head to bed. Early night after another day of drinking.
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Daily Total: $36

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — I wake up LATE! I haven't slept this late in a long time. I decide to not delay and get up to make breakfast. Three Kodiak Cakes waffles. I watch Grey's Anatomy for a bit, and then my ex-boyfriend (not the most recent one) texts me that he's getting engaged after only six months of dating his new girlfriend. I feel conflicted and I need to go back to therapy, lol.
12:30 p.m. — I head to Orangetheory for the first time in a while. I feel groggy and slow working out, but I did it!
1:30 p.m. — I head to the nail salon a couple doors over, because I need to get my dip nails taken off and regular polish put on. It takes two hours because — and I kid you not — two customers refuse to pay and start getting physical with the owners. The police are called, and they have to take statements because they are pressing charges. What a day this is shaping up to be. $34
3:30 p.m. — Run to Target and only buy the three things I need — face lotion, a new pair of jeans, and Swiffer wet wipes! $48.14
4:30 p.m. — Cook dinner, watch Grey's, clean the bathroom, make popcorn, and sit down for Watchmen at 8. I don't really understand what's going on with this show, but a lot of my friends watch it, so I watch it too because #fomo.
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9:30 p.m. — Shower and in bed. I can't fall asleep and have to take a Bendaryl to snooze at 1:30 a.m. I'm not proud of it.
Daily Total: $82.14

Day Six

6 a.m. — Snooze snooze snooze. I'm dead tired because of the aforementioned sleep issues, and I would very much like to sleep for three more hours. I cancel my Orangetheory class because I know I'm just going to want to come home from work and sleep. I eat breakfast (Rice Krispies) and head out.
7:40 a.m. — At work. I'm wearing my new jeans, and they are so dang comfy. Shout out to Universal Thread — I'm balling on a budget.
11 a.m. — I found out that it's almost a full moon. That's probably why I slept like crap. I head to heat up my meal, but I cave and get fries and a Mountain Dew. $2.50
4:30 p.m. — After taking a typing test at work for fun because it was slow, I decide to cut my losses and head home early. I swipe on Bumble for a little when I get home and match with a CUTIE. It's too early to date seriously, I think, but it never hurts to message someone...
6:30 p.m. — Home and watching Grey's Anatomy. I have miles to go before I'm done, and it's killing me softly. I make a Totino's Party Pizza and ignore the fact that Weight Watchers won't like it.
9:30 p.m. — Bedtime after watching His Dark Materials. So much content!
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Daily Total: $2.50

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Wow, has it really been a week of me tracking spending? Wild. I woke up in the middle of a dream about my ex-boyfriend suing me, so...I don't know. I might have to look up an interpretation of that later. On the plus side, I wake up to a nice picture. :)
7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work after cruising on the highway and eating Rice Krispies for breakfast. Yum. I have a one-on-one with my manager later, so I'm going to talk to him about having not a lot to do. I don't even have any emails to respond to today.
9 a.m. — My editor dropped the podcast episode for this week in our shared Google Drive. I forgot my headphones and have to listen to it on my phone on low volume, while I hold my phone to my ear like I'm taking a call. It's a good episode, for what it's worth.
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! I didn't bring lunch today, because I ate a Totino's last night and obviously didn't have any leftovers. Grilled cheese and fries (told you it would come around again). I eat in our team room and Google recipes to make later in the week, because this meal is not Weight Watchers–friendly. $4.92
12 p.m. — I notice that Bumble guy responded. I asked a thoughtful question and didn't get a thoughtful response, so...we'll see. Make an effort!! I also browse through my Disney+ app because it dropped today and I have MOVIES to watch.
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5 p.m. — We're out for the day and heading to a team-bonding event at a bowling alley/bar. It's pretty fun! Free drinks and pizza — who am I to say no to either of those things. I lose both games, because I am a terrible bowler.
8:15 p.m. — I'm home and sleepy. I tried to watch Cadet Kelly on Disney+ because it launched today, but my eyes are closed and it deserves my full attention.
9:30 p.m. — Shower and lights out. Night night, R29 readers.
Daily Total: $4.92
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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