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A Week In Austin, TX, On A $77,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an e-commerce marketer who makes $77,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a custom shed.
Occupation: E-commerce Marketer
Industry: Pet Health
Age: 32
Location: Austin, TX
Salary: $77,000
Net Worth: $359,100 (cash: $67,500, retirement accounts: $45,300, house value: $440,000, car value: $20,000 minus debt)
Debt: $205,500 left on my mortgage, $8,200 left on my car loan
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,155 plus about $400 net profit a month from my online boutique
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,326
Car Loan: $356
Aerial Studio: $200
Pole Studio: $100
NYTimes: $4.26
Dog Prescriptions/Food: $100
Arthritis Medication: $5
CBDA Subscription: $65
Environmental Charity: $12
Pig Rescue Charity: $7
Internet: $75
Car Insurance: $75
Gaia TV: $12
Spotify: $17.31
Utilities: $160 a
Savings: $200-$500, depending on my spending and online boutique sales
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
My mom never told me that I had to go to college, but I wanted to go. I got a full-tuition scholarship to a private college and more scholarships to pay for most of room and board. My mom helped me with the rest.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't talk about money at all. My mom didn't know a lot about finances and didn't give any guidance. I seemed to have an innate drive to save money, though. On my sixth birthday, I started getting money sometimes instead of gifts, and I decided that I would always save half so that I could save up for a car when I turned 16. I ended up inheriting a car from my aunt at 18, so I bought a car for my sister instead.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I was a babysitter at my church's nursery and babysat for people from church during the week. I wanted extra spending money (more than my $10/month allowance).
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not, but I understood that we didn't have a lot of money. I grew up with a single mom and I know money was tight, but I was okay with that. I was happy to shop at thrift stores and garage sales, and she'd generously splurge on Ross and TJ Maxx runs before school would start in the fall.
Do you worry about money now?
No, I don't worry about it, but I do feel like I should be making more and saving more to feel more comfortable owning my own house. There are lots of expenses that pop up and it's hard owning a house alone for that reason. I'm not currently budgeting, I'm just living by the mantra that I will be frugal, but spend money on things that are essential to giving me joy.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I moved back home after college, so I didn't become fully financially responsible for myself until I was 24 and moved out. I do have a safety net in my $30,000 emergency fund, and then my mom has a little bit of money but I wouldn't count on her.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, my mom gave my sister and me $15,000 each after she sold her last house. I'm using it to buy a custom shed for my backyard.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — In an unusual turn of events, I wake up before my alarm goes off. Stress jitters jolt me out of bed in anticipation of an 8:30 a.m. meeting where I have to present data in front of a group of 40+ people on Zoom. I feed my dog, then pour myself some Love Crunch granola with almond milk while I listen to Alexa shout NPR news at me. I listen in on my first Zoom meeting with my camera off while I get ready for the morning. I moisturize my face and put on some vitamin C serum, sunscreen, and deodorant. Then I brush my teeth, roll on some perfume, and change into my daytime pajamas.
8:30 a.m. — The dreaded 8:30 meeting goes fine and after a couple more meetings, I take a break to walk my dog.
11 a.m. —Lunchtime! I sauté some spinach and mushrooms, pan fry up some savory tofu, and put it all on top of gluten-free pasta. I eat a square of dark chocolate for dessert, as per usual. I reply to some emails and then I take a 45-minute nap.
4:30 p.m. — The rest of the work day goes fine. At 4:30, I take my dog out for walk number two, then go to my pole class, which is a heels choreography class. Click clack, bitches! It's so much fun and makes me so happy. I always drive home with my windows down, music up, and wind in my hair.
7 p.m. — When I get home, I make half a baked potato in the microwave with frozen mixed veggies, vegan cheese, and savory tofu from lunch. I watch a comedy special on Netflix while I eat and then I have a bunch of dark chocolate for dessert. Then, I call my mom while I mend an antique petticoat.
9 p.m. — My dog starts howling at a siren and I join in. I post a dress to my online boutique and then get ready for bed. I wash my face, moisturize, apply a retinol serum, floss, and roll on some perfume. I just love smelling good all the time, I've got four different oil blends that I cycle through based on my mood. Then I go to bed at 12.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I wake up, feed my dog, and let him out in the backyard. I heat up some loaded oatmeal that I made a couple of days ago. I put chia seeds, walnuts, almond milk, cinnamon, maple syrup, peanut butter, and frozen strawberries and blueberries on it. It's a drizzly day and my back hurts — my arthritis flares up before and during inclement weather, so I take two ibuprofen.
8:15 a.m. — My mom drives over to my house to follow me over to the car dealership, as I have to bring it in for some work. She drives me home and I get started on work. Yay, no meetings today!
11 a.m. — After working for a bit, I take my dog out for a walk. It turns out to be quite a harrowing experience. We happen upon a bizarre pile of six rotting turkey legs on top of a mound of apple pie at the base of a tree. My dog is very food aggressive, so this is basically one of my worst nightmares. I pick him up by his harness to steer him away from the food, but he twists free of my grasp and starts lunging at me. Having an 80-pound bear lunging at your face is pretty scary and I get knocked over. I take a couple of minutes to work up the courage to wrestle him again, and although the leash somehow gets stuck between my legs and he's thrashing about and growling, I manage to cart him away from the scene and he calms down. I start to feel paranoid that the pile of food could have been poisoned, it was just so odd. Being a single dog mom to an aggressive dog is really hard.
11:30 a.m. — After we get home from the walk, I immediately go out again on my own to go pick up the meat and pie pile so that I don't run into this issue on the next walk. I bring a small shovel, gloves, and bags. I shovel the meat into the bags and it's just disgusting. The undersides are covered in maggots and it all smells like death. I walk home and pass by some neighbors. I wave my shovel at them in hello.
12 p.m. — I finish up some work and then eat lunch. I heat up the same lunch from yesterday — the pasta and tofu dish. I listen to a comedy podcast called The Viral Podcast. I get Friday afternoons off, so after lunch, I take a three-hour nap.
4:30 p.m. — I wake up from my nap and feel a bit better. I take a kava pill to improve my mood and calm my nerves further. My car is ready to be picked up, so my mom comes back over to drive me to the dealership again. I get my car and I don't owe anything since my car is under warranty. From the dealership, I drive to pole open studio.
6:30 p.m. — I get to pole open studio 30 minutes late and only have an hour to practice, which is a bummer but I'll make the most of it. My stomach is feeling sassy, so I pop a couple of tums. I first practice tricks and then work on heels choreography at the end. I'd love to have a pole installed in my house so I could practice all the time, but my house is too small to accommodate one.
8 p.m. — I drive home and eat dinner. I heat up the other half of the baked potato from last night and eat the same dinner with dark chocolate after, of course. I watch an interview about the effects of mold on gut health while I eat, and get paranoid.
10 p.m. — I take a shower and wash my hair, which is a laborious task since I have hair down to my legs and legs down to the floor. I do an apple cider vinegar rinse as well to detoxify my scalp from buildup. I take an epsom salt bath directly after to soothe my sore muscles and for relaxation purposes.
11 p.m. — After I get out of the bath, I do a 15-minute training session with my dog in the backyard under the full moon. I think he needs more mental stimulation and bonding time with me. We work on weaving through my legs, holding “stay,” and playing chase with the “touch” command. We both have so much fun and he's so smart, I feel extra guilty that I don't find the energy to do this every day with him. I'm not mad at him from the walk earlier, it just makes me sad that he reacts that way to me. But I guess I'd be pretty mad if someone took me away from a delicious pie, too.
11:30 p.m. — I clean up my kitchen a bit and then go through my bedtime routine, which tonight includes combing out my hair for five minutes. My dog jumps up on the bed and wants cuddles, so I give him my full attention and pet him for 20 minutes. Then I read a little of the book The Art of Psychic Reiki before going to sleep. I'm going to take a Reiki level 1&2 practitioner class next month, so I've been reading up on it lately. I go to sleep around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up early again. I slept a bit poorly and I think that three-hour nap yesterday did me in. I feed my dog and heat up my loaded oatmeal. I make an apple cider vinegar tonic with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and water and sip on that while scrolling through Instagram.
9 a.m. — I get ready for the day and remember that my dentist recently recommended that I start using a mouthwash that has fluoride in it. I do some quick research online and decide to buy Bite's mouthwash tablets that have a fluoride alternative in them and zero waste packaging. It's a four-month supply. $24.42
9:30 a.m. — I take my dog out for his morning walk, and when I get back I package up some orders for my online boutique. I eat a snack of raspberries and some pistachios. I drive to the post office to ship them off and then drive to my mom's place to pick her up.
10:30 a.m. — I walk my dog, and do some chores around the house. I dust off old spiderwebs from my front door, being careful to leave the ones with active spiders. I tell my Roomba to vacuum the house. Then I make a new big batch of gluten-free pasta for lunch.
12:30 p.m. — I get a text from my friend, B., about going bouldering later this evening and I am excited to get some socialization in! My sister asks me to pick up some groceries and special cough syrup for her, so I drive over to the store. I get her lettuce, potatoes, cereal, rice, kombucha, and cough syrup, and I get myself some oat milk, tofu, mushrooms, and potato chips. $65.64
2 p.m. — I drop off the groceries in front of my sister's apartment and go home and take a nap.
5 p.m. — I eat another microwaved baked potato for dinner, how thrilling. Then I head over to B.'s apartment and he drives us to the climbing gym.
7 p.m. — I get a day pass and rent some climbing shoes. We stay for about an hour and a half and then I go home. It's very fun! $19
9:30 p.m. — I get home and do some training with my dog in the backyard. I watch Good Girls on Netflix and then get ready for bed. I go to bed at 12:30.
Daily Total: $109.06

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — I wake up, feed my dog, and eat my loaded oatmeal with my apple cider vinegar tonic. I get a text from my sister that she has COVID, sad! She and my mom were supposed to come over to my house today to cook a meal together, but since she saw my mom last night and exposed her, it looks like I'll be on my own today.
10 a.m. — I walk my dog and then make a big batch of savory tofu in the oven. I do some work and then eat my pasta lunch during a meeting.
12 p.m. — My meetings are crazy today and I don't have time to take much of a nap. I take a 25-minute nap and then sleepily get back to work.
7 p.m. — I decide to make a loaf of bread. My sister has a great recipe for gluten-free and vegan bread that holds together well and is tasty. I put the ingredients together and then let it rise for an hour. During that time, I take my dog for a walk.
8 p.m. — I catch a pantry moth and drop it in the web of Clarence the Toilet Spider. As his name suggests, he's a spider who lives behind my toilet. He's pretty cute and I like to feed him, so I guess he's kind of my pet?
9 p.m. — My friend, K., comes over to my house to drop off some kava juice that he bought for me. How sweet! He plays me some songs that he's thinking about including in his first studio recorded album. He leaves, I watch more Good Girls, and then go to bed at 12.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — I feed my dog and eat my loaded oatmeal.
9:30 a.m. — I leave for an endocrinologist appointment. During my yearly physical in the fall, an oversized nodule was found on my thyroid, but it took about six months to finally get a referral to an endocrinologist. While I wait to get my blood drawn, there is a young woman sitting in the waiting room talking about how she got COVID in March 2020 and now has long COVID and has been sick ever since. Also, one of her legs got paralyzed from long COVID but she recently regained sensation in it. She was only 26, it's sad to hear! It reinforced that I still need to be careful even though most people are shedding their masks and going back to “normal.” There is no going back to normal. $40
10:30 a.m. — Back at home and back to meetings!
11:30 a.m. — I eat my leftover pasta for lunch and read the news.
3 p.m. — I'm in meetings for most of the afternoon and have a snack of raspberries and pistachios.
5 p.m. — I eat roasted veggies for dinner with tofu and watch a TV show about aliens.
7 p.m. — I go online and buy a rolling rack for the vintage market that my sister and I are going to sell at on Sunday. $81.90
9:30 p.m. — I post some things to my online boutique, then read my book and go to sleep at 11:30.
Daily Total: $121.90

Day Six

8:25 a.m. — I wake up a bit later than usual, roll out of bed, and hop on my laptop. I respond to some chats, then feed my dog breakfast and eat my oatmeal.
9 a.m. — For my first Zoom meeting of the day, I keep my camera turned off and get ready. I braid my hair in two long inside-out French braids and then paint my toenails. I have another one-hour meeting and then walk my dog.
11:30 a.m. — I eat my pasta lunch while watching Good Girls and then take a 45-minute nap.
1 p.m. — More meetings and then I get a good chunk of time to work for a bit until my final meeting of the day.
4:30 p.m. — I pay the down payment on a custom-built shed for my backyard, which I plan on eventually finishing out into its own room. I'm planning for it to be a storage room as well as an art and photography studio. Then I walk my dog, feed him dinner, and get ready for my aerial silks class. $4,995
6 p.m. — I go to aerial silks class and work up a big appetite. After class, I drive home and eat my roasted veggies topped with tofu, then dark chocolate sorbet for dessert topped with coconut oil. I watch more of Good Girls.
10:30 p.m. — I package up a few orders for my online boutique so I can ship them out tomorrow. Then I go to bed around 12.
Daily Total: $4,995

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up, feed my dog, and eat my loaded oatmeal.
1 p.m. — I take my mom to lunch. We each get a tofu bowl and pay separately. I only eat half and save the other half for dinner. $15
2 p.m. — I drive my mom and I to the Zilker Botanical Garden. She generously pays our admission. We walk around for about 30 minutes but it's so muggy out that it isn't very pleasant to be outside.
3 p.m. — We hop back in the car and drive to a bakery, where we each get a vegan cupcake. Then we walk over to a local witchy store, where I have a gift certificate I haven't used yet. I peruse all the cool occult items and fill my basket up with candles, a clear quartz pendulum, wood runes, a mini cauldron, a candle snuffer, a selenite athame, and a rose geranium to plant in my front yard. My $75 gift card covers most of that, but I pay $25 out of pocket. $25
4 p.m. — My mom has a tarot card reading booked at the trailer out front, so I sit outside and wait for her. While I wait, I read an article about how to use my new runes and then cast my first reading. I do a simple past, present, and future reading. The past and present runes are very accurate, so I expect the future one to be, as well.
5:30 p.m. — I drop my mom off at her house. I drive back to my house and feed my dog dinner and then take an hour-long nap.
7:30 p.m. — I take my dog out for his evening walk, and afterward eat my lunch leftovers for dinner. I watch part of an episode of Good Girls while I munch.
8:30 p.m. — I clean up my kitchen and tidy up my house. I go outside and water my plants, too. My mom brought over old opossum bones earlier in the week that she found in her yard and I place them in a glass jar.
10 p.m. — I put on a sports bra and running shorts and run circles in my backyard for 25 minutes under the moon. I never said I'm not a hamster! It's still muggy out and I get so sweaty and dizzy. I do a little washcloth bath to get the sweat off and then do active and passive flexibility training for 20 minutes for my middle splits and pancake splits.
11 p.m. — I set up a candle circle outside and perform an abundance spell, then play my crystal singing bowls. I go to bed around 1:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $40
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