A Week In Marietta, GA, On A $42,000 Salary

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 HR Assistant who makes $42,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a La Colombe draft latte.
Occupation: HR Assistant
Industry: Automotive
Age: 26
Location: Marietta, GA
Salary: $42,000
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,215
My Husband's Paycheck Amount (weekly): $450
Gender Identity: Cis woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,065 for a one-bedroom apartment
Student Loans: $200
Water, Trash, Common Electric: $135
Power: $120-150
Credit Card: $500 (we bought a car a few months ago with a credit card, and it'll be paid off before we pay any interest if all goes as planned. We also have two paid off cars, and we're trying to sell one.)
Wi-Fi: $87
Scrib'd: $17.98 for two accounts
Netflix: $12.99
Hulu & HBO: $26.98
Phone: $90
ClassPass: $15 (I switched to ClassPass Lite two months ago before a trip and haven't switched back yet)
Vacation Savings: $180
Random Savings: $200 (for car repairs or whatever else comes up)
Car Insurance: $211
Renter's Insurance: $19
Annual Expenses:
Costco: $60
Playstation Network: $60

Day One

6:40 a.m. — I finally roll out of bed after hitting snooze a few too many times. I take a shower, dry my hair, put on makeup, pack my lunch, and put on black pants, a black and white striped cowl-neck shirt, and olive green Vans. I leave at 7:30.
8:50 a.m. — I get to work and pick up where I left off yesterday, gathering info for driver qualification files. My sister texts me that the house our great-grandparents owned (which happens to be next door to my sister's house) is finally on the market. My dad and grandparents also live nearby, and my sister and dad have been pressuring me to buy the house to keep it in the family. I do want to, but I don't want to live in my hometown and I don't particularly want to be a landlord either. It's a duplex so we would likely be landlords to not one, but two, families.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up my lunch, which as usual is leftovers from last night — arugula, penne, balsamic chicken, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella balls. After lunch, I make a cup of English breakfast tea with raw sugar and almond/coconut milk blend. My husband, A., gets Taco Bell because there weren't enough leftovers for both of us. I Venmo request my brother-in-law for flights we recently bought to Calgary (going to Banff, eeeee!). $7.28
1:45 p.m. — My friend J. invites me to a hot yoga class tonight. We used to go every Thursday morning before work, but then I changed jobs and went on vacation and life got crazy and now I haven't been in a month. I like to go home and just cook dinner with A. and do nothing else after work, but I'll think about it. I get a notification that my student loan payment (on autopay) went through. More on that — A. and I only owe around $17,000 total thanks to the Pell grant and tuition reimbursement at my old job. We pay the minimums because the interest is so low.
2:30 p.m. — I eat a raspberry fig bar and have a Cran-Raspberry La Croix while reading a Money Diary. My family group chat discusses Thanksgiving, which makes me anxious because I haven't seen most of them in months and I don't know whether A. and I will spend the holiday with his family or mine, or try to go to both.
6:30 p.m. — It takes me an hour to get home and I listen to the RedHanded podcast on the way. A. runs me a bath and gives me ibuprofen for my headache and I put Vicks Vaporub (it helps!) on my forehead. We had grand plans to make chicken satay and peanut sauce, but we're missing an ingredient and I don't feel like cooking, so I spend the bath contemplating what to do for dinner. I get dressed and we go to Taco Bell. I get a Mexican pizza with no meat and no tomatoes and A. gets a Quesarito then we go across the street to Whole Foods to get lunch for tomorrow. After lots of browsing, we each pick out a Frontera frozen burrito bowl. I spot peach cobbler on the hot bar and it looks heavenly. I also end up getting a little mac and cheese and a chicken thigh. The total comes to around $20 and we use a gift card from my mom to pay for it. $12.31
8:30 p.m. — After sharing the hot bar food, I go straight to bed and turn on the space heater. After a little scrolling, I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $19.59

Day Two

6 a.m. — I jolt awake early and try to get back to sleep, but I have to pee. I get back in bed and alternate between reading tweets and sleeping until I get up at 6:35. I do the same routine from yesterday and get to work at 8:30 to start auditing I-9s. I do this once a month and it's a good chance to just put in my headphones and work. I listen to My Favorite Murder.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up my burrito bowl and it's...fine. A. and I discuss Thankgiving and decide to see both families. I text the group chat to let them know we'll bring canned and homemade cranberry sauce.
2 p.m. — It's happy hour at Starbucks and I really want coffee and a walk, but I don't want to clock out because I want to have some overtime this week. I decide to make Keurig coffee instead, gross.
5 p.m. — I leave work and head straight to get my eyebrows waxed. It's my tenth punch so it's free, woohoo! I only have $3. I would normally tip $4, but I think it's fine. $3
5:30 p.m. — A. gets gas on the way home. I get home at 6:30 and eat enchiladas that A. made. We watch a little of Home Alone 2, then I change and leave at 7 to meet my friends K. and F. at a brewery for trivia. $20.60
7:10 p.m. — I park in a paid parking spot but the kiosk doesn't work, so I have to pay a convenience fee for text to pay ($5.75). I get a cider and for a few rounds, we're actually winning! We end up coming in third, which means we win fried oreos. $5.75
9:45 p.m. — We close out our tabs ($10 with tip) and I head home. I stop at Costco to get gas but they're closed. I get home at 10, catch up with A. (and see how many of the trivia questions he can answer), and fall asleep around 11. $10
Daily Total: $39.35

Day Three

6:35 a.m. — It's Friday! We have an employee engagement meeting at 9 so I hurry out of bed. I do the same routine and head out at 7:30. I'm dangerously low on gas but I want to take advantage of Costco's gas prices, so I just get $6.50 worth of gas at Quik Trip and I'll fill up later. I order a maple latte at Caribou Coffee and put $5 on the app to cover it. I get to work at 8:25. We get charged for HelloFresh ($30). We get Hello Fresh a few weeks out of the year and I love the food, but I hate not having enough for leftovers and then having to figure out lunches for the week. $41.50
11:30 a.m. — I have lunch — leftovers from last night, a Honeycrisp apple, and a lime La Croix. For the rest of the day, I alternate between actually working, looking for a new book to read on Scrib'd, reading Money Diaries, and browsing massage places on ClassPass.
3 p.m. — I leave work early! I make pretzel-crusted chicken and maple mustard carrots while watching Dollface after some lounging on the couch. A. stops to pick up Liquid Plumber on the way home and fixes our sink, then we eat and go out to deliver for Uber Eats. He drives and I do the rest and it's the easiest money ever so we're trying to make it a Friday night habit. We do three orders and make $39.87. We get home around 9 and ask each other trivia questions in bed, then A. plays video games and I go to sleep around 11. $5.60
Daily Total: $47.10

Day Four

8:45 a.m. — I wake up and A. wakes up soon after. We play on our phones and listen to the rain in bed while he rubs my feet. He falls back asleep so I change and go to our apartment's gym to use the elliptical. I call him when I leave and he tells me he threw up. I swing by Starbucks and get a grande blonde roast with money on the app. When I get back home, A. is asleep, so I quietly straighten up the house and then sit down to drink my coffee and start watching Booksmart.
12 p.m. — A. wakes up and feels a little better, so we make lunch plans with his brother. We get ready and leave and get gas at Costco on the way. $14.47
1:40 p.m. — I get a mushroom and spinach quesadilla, A. gets a club and pickle fries, and we get pimento cheese with crackers to share. I think they didn't charge us for something because it's suspiciously cheap. $19.88
3 p.m. — We hit the road to head back home and get there close to 4. A. is feeling shitty again so he goes to lie down. My sister and dad FaceTime me (my first three-way FaceTime!) and we make plans to go to dinner and the trampoline park tonight, which is one of my favorite things in the world.
5 p.m. — I'm still not hungry, but we get a few appetizers to share and I have some shrimp and queso, plus two cocktails. My dad pays. He also offers to pay A. and me to drive him and my brother to the Falcons game on Thanksgiving Day and I tell him I'll think about it. Logistically with the two dinners we are going to, I don't think it's possible.
7 p.m. — I pay for an hour of trampoline jumping for my sister, five-year-old nephew, and one-year-old nephew (who's free), but my sister Venmos me back later ($19.50). I have the best time! Afterward, they drop me off at my car and I pick up Taco Bell for A. ($7.07). At home, A. and I watch an episode of Lizzie McGuire, a few episodes of Even Stevens, and a little of the Aristocats before I go to bed. We're on the free trial of Disney+ and we'll probably keep it and cancel HBO. $26.57
Daily Total: $60.92

Day Five

8:45 a.m. — I wake up and play on my phone and watch Billy on the Street for a while until A. wakes up, then we make breakfast burritos and get ready to go grocery shopping. On the way to Trader Joe's, we listen to/play a trivia podcast.
12:15 p.m. — It was busy, but not as bad as I thought it would be the Sunday before Thanksgiving. We check out 15 minutes before we're able to buy beer, so they put it back. I can't believe laws like that still exist. We get cranberry sauce, frozen cheesecake bites, broccoli, a La Colombe draft latte for tomorrow morning, harvest alfredo sauce, three bags of pasta, and Italian chicken sausage ($25.66). Next, we go to Costco and get sparkling water, a rotisserie chicken, a sweater for A., Canadian bacon (impulse buy because we sampled it), and a huge wedge of cheddar ($50.11). We still don't have everything we need, so we go to Publix and get more cheese (we're making mac and cheese for Thanksgiving), grapes, candied pecans, chicken breasts, chips, tortillas, English muffins, and maybe something else that's slipping my mind ($30.39). $106.16
1:30 p.m. — We get home and put away the groceries and have English muffins with Canadian bacon, fried eggs, and cheese since we only had samples for lunch. We watch a few Christmas movies while A. also watches the Falcons game on his phone.
5:50 p.m. — We make penne with the harvest alfredo sauce and Italian sausage and season two finale of I'm Sorry. I'm bummed because this show is hilarious and I don't want to wait for the next season. We do laundry and clean up the kitchen and go to bed at 10.
Daily Total: $106.16

Day Six

7 a.m. — I decide to sleep in since school is out and my commute will be shorter. I do the usual routine and leave at 7:50 after scraping my windshield.
8:35 a.m. — I get to work and go over our finances and switch back to the $49 ClassPass plan. I book a class at Cyclebar for tomorrow morning and look at massages. They're a lot of credits, but a massage would be nice.
1 p.m. — After almost three hours of doing I-9 maintenance, I have last night's leftovers for lunch. Alfredo sauce never reheats well and this TJ's sauce is no exception.
5 p.m. — A.'s dad wants to buy our third car! It has a lot of problems (that he can fix) so we ask for $2,000. A. goes to get the cash and drop off the keys when he gets off work.
6:30 p.m. — I get home and put the Hello Fresh stuff away. I start making Mediterranean beef kofta patties with sweet potatoes, peppers, and zucchini. A. calls to tell me he deposited the money in the account and I go online and pay $2,000 on our credit card. Now we owe a little over $6,000 on the car/credit card and we have 14 months to pay it off before there's interest.
7:15 p.m. — A. gets home and we eat and it's one of the best Hello Fresh meals I've had! We'll definitely save the recipe card and make this again. After dinner, we do more laundry (it never ends!) and clean up the kitchen, then make chicken salad wraps for lunch tomorrow. I add grapes and pecans to mine. I call my sister and sister-in-law and we make plans to have two of our nieces and two nephews spend the night with us this weekend. We normally take three, so I don't know if we're up for four!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:20 a.m. — After 10 minutes of getting ready, a 20-minute drive, and a 45-minute cycling class, I head to work. I eat a banana on the way, then get ready in the gym locker room at work and clock in way early at 7:20.
11:30 a.m. — I have lunch and a grapefruit La Croix. I log into undebt.it for the first time in months and see that our projected debt-free date is the month of my 30th birthday!
4 p.m. — My boss tells me we can work from home tomorrow! I make an appointment for an oil change and brake pad replacement tomorrow (this will come out of our savings account), grab my laptop, and head out just after 4.
7 p.m. — A. and I make sausage and veggie flatbreads and discuss getting a dog. We've been talking about it for years and we decide to finally do it as soon as we have more money in our emergency fund plus enough for an adoption fee and pet deposit at our apartment. I'm excited! We spend the rest of the night looking at pups on Petfinder.
Daily Total: $0
Ever had a vacation rental experience from hell? If you stayed in a home only to discover it was infested with bed bugs, had to deal with a horrible Airbnb host, or something else entirely awful, please share your stories here, and they could end up in our upcoming story.
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.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series