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A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A $39,200 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: a marketing coordinator who makes $39,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Hawaiian pizza.
Occupation: Marketing Coordinator
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 23
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Salary: $39,200
Net Worth: $3,110.23 (I have $2,369.02 in traditional savings and $741.21 in a high-yield savings account. A lot of my living expenses, specifically dining out, are paid for by my boyfriend. He makes more than three times as much as I do so whenever we go out to eat he will foot the bill. I was a little bit uncomfortable when we first started dating and he insisted on paying for everything, but it has become more normal now that we've been together for over a year. Before we dated my lifestyle looked a lot different than it does now and I went out a LOT less.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,490
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 (for my third of rent split with my roommates, including utilities)
HBO Max: $10
Yoga Membership: $110
Cell Phone: $30
Savings: $150
Health Insurance: on my parents' plan
Car Payments: my parents pay
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?
Definitely. Both of my parents went to college and my dad got his master's degree shortly after that. Growing up it was always expected that I would go to college. I am privileged to have had my college tuition paid for by my parents.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
When I was younger I had an allowance and my parents taught me the importance of saving very young. Other than general finances and learning how to be more frugal, I didn't know much about how to use my money after I graduated college. I started to seriously save money when I was in high school and by the time I graduated from college I had $6,000 in my savings, which helped me out a lot when I had to put down money for my first apartment.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I babysat here and there and would occasionally work the snack bar at Little League games when I was in middle school. Both of these jobs were given to me through connections that I had through my parents. I used the money for spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I don't think I ever really did. When I was little my parents did a really good job at making sure we had everything we needed. I now know that we were lower-middle class but did alright. Right before the 2008 recession, my dad got a job overseas. Once we moved, we traveled a lot for pleasure which was the only reason that I thought we might have been doing better financially. I now know that if my dad hadn't moved to take that job they probably wouldn't have been able to pay for my college in full.
Do you worry about money now?
A little, more so when I started at my job a year ago and was only making $36,000. I budget my money pretty well and have a good idea of what I can and cannot afford. I think to some degree I have always been a little scared of money. I got my first credit card just a few months ago because I was so nervous about going into credit card debt. That being said, the more I learn about money, the less scared I am and the more I want to take control of my finances.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Not quite there yet! I am still on my parents' insurance and will likely be on it until I am 26. My parents also pay for my phone line (I just pay off the actual phone). They also bought me a car when I graduated. I make the payments in my name every month but my mom gives me the money to do so.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Growing up, I had an allowance of $10 a week. Once I got to high school and moved away from home, my mom started giving me $100 a month, and then in college she gave me $250 a month.

Day One

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and my boyfriend, S., and I are so not ready for the week to start. I get dressed and head to my bus stop. I have a negative pass balance so I add $11 to it to last me the rest of the week. $11
9 a.m. — I get to work and grab the cherry yogurt and chia seeds that I left for myself last Friday. As I eat my yogurt, I realize it's payday! My job only pays us once a month, so I try to budget out my expenses as soon as the payment comes in. I move $100 into my high-yield savings account and realize one of my roommates just sent me her portion of the security deposit that I paid before she moved in. I put that money ($500) into my everyday savings account.
11:30 a.m. — Work at this point consists of me trying to wrap up as many ongoing projects as I can to prepare for my successor in the next few weeks. I'm starting a new job and I'm ready to leave this one behind. I'm getting really hungry so I head to a pizza place down the street. I'm feeling crazy and get a Hawaiian pizza. They have a deal where I can get a free drink with my personal pie so I get a fountain drink of Sprite mixed with their blood orange lemonade. $12.50
2 p.m. — During the slower parts of my work day, I try to budget out my pay for the next month. I got a small raise a few months ago and although it isn't much more than I was making before, it is enough for me to feel more comfortable with spending $110 on hot yoga every month (in monthly expenses).
5 p.m. — I get off of work and take the trolley-and-bus route home. The Phillies are playing tonight and my best friend, W., wants to meet me at a brewery for dinner and drinks to watch the game. I change and call an Uber over to her place around 6:20. $15
6:45 p.m. — We get to the brewery only to find out that the game has been postponed due to rain. Bummer. My friend and I decide to stay and have dinner and drinks anyway to celebrate us both getting new jobs. We each order two appetizers and two beers, and split a beer flight (because we are celebrating, after all). W. gets a discount because she works here so our whole bill comes out to just $33! We split the bill and I contribute $10 to tip. $27
7 p.m. — I grab another Uber home. $12.96
Daily Total: $78.46

Day Two

7 a.m. — My first alarm goes off and I lay around for a little before the second one follows it at 7:15. I brush my teeth, pack my bologna sandwich and cheese sticks, and head out the door. At 8:30, I get to work early and grab a turkey and cheese croissant from next door. $8.51
11 a.m. — Tuesdays are staff meetings and they tend to take up about two hours of the day. I get hungry halfway through and grab a cheese stick. When the meeting is finally over, I eat my lunch and gossip with some of my coworkers about new hires. I can't wait to get out of here. I work a lot of late nights and weekends at the moment and my new job not only has no weekend commitments, but we get out early on Fridays too.
5 p.m. — I wrap up the work I am doing and walk over to the mini-mart on my way home. I have some leftover lemongrass chicken that my grandma made for me and I want to make Vietnamese vermicelli bowls with it. I pick up carrots, lettuce, and a cucumber from the mart and grab the subway home. I debate going to yoga today because I am starting to feel dryness in my throat. I decide to skip it and take a COVID test. It's negative. $13.31
8 p.m. — S. is on his way over for dinner so I assemble his noodle bowl, make some nuoc cham dipping sauce, and turn on the Phillies game. I savor dinner because I'm super hungry. We finish dinner, put the dishes away, watch one episode of Love Is Blind, and knock out.
Daily Total: $21.82

Day Three

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and my throat is so sore. Ugh. I knew something was going around the office but I was really hoping that I wouldn't get it. I indulgently fall asleep again until 7:30 while S. starts to get ready for his day. I go to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face and S. is already perky and awake. I love him and his energy, but I am so not feeling it this morning. I whine to him that I am sick and request a bear hug to properly wake me up. S. heads out to work and I sluggishly pack myself a can of soup for lunch and some saltine crackers (with a cheese stick, of course). I get off the trolley a stop early so that I can hit one of the cafes on my way to work. I grab a blueberry muffin because I think it would go well with the five cups of Theraflu and tea that I am about to have. $3.31
11 a.m. — Ugh, today is seriously dragging. I try to focus on my work.
12:30 p.m. — Update: The soup I brought is disgusting. I grabbed chicken and rice and while the rice is alright, the chicken is just not good. I can't help but remember a video I saw about a whole canned chicken that looked particularly repulsive. I eat the rice, the broth, and some carrots. Sorry, chicken.
5 p.m. — I grab Wawa on my way home. I don't feel like cooking today and I have been craving a hoagie. S. was offered tickets to the Phillies game and my roommates are both out watching it at a local bar. I am in no mood to go out, so I eat my hoagie, wash my face, apply a face mask, make some Theraflu, and throw the game on the TV. They aren't doing so hot. I can't even finish the game because I keep falling asleep, so I put my mug in the dishwasher, brush my teeth, and head to bed. $10.78
Daily Total: $14.09

Day Four

7 a.m. — Whoa, I slept WELL. My throat isn't half as sore as I thought that it would be and I feel rejuvenated from going to bed so early. Tonight is my goodbye dinner at work so I put a little more effort into my outfit and pack my lunch.
8:30 a.m. — I get to work and eat the bagel that I packed myself. There isn't a toaster here so I have to eat it cold. Oh well, at least I'm not sick! My other coworker is out sick today and apologizes for missing my dinner tonight. I am probably the closest to her at work so I'm sad, but I tell her that I hope she feels better and we can get dinner together another time.
12 p.m. — My workload is starting to lull as I am coming up on my last few days at this job. I am going to miss a lot of things about working here, but I really can't wait for the structure and growth that is waiting for me at my new position. I have a salad for lunch with homemade dressing and a soft-boiled egg. I should do this more often — it's very good and I don't feel like I need a nap after eating it!
4 p.m. — I am basically counting down the minutes until dinner because I am so excited.
5 p.m. — We're out! We walk down the street to the restaurant. We order a round of drinks and some appetizers. I suggest we get the chicken skewers and calamari. Both are delicious. My coworkers all order ramen as their main course but since I am still feeling some type of way about soup from my little canned chicken incident yesterday, I opt for sushi instead. It's delicious and I make a mental note to come here more. Dinner comes to about $200 between the five of us but the whole meal is comped by work.
6:45 p.m. — S. is picking me up and taking me home with him so I grab some Insomnia Cookies for him as a thank you. $11
8 p.m. — We watch Love Is Blind and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $11

Day Five

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I try to ignore it as S. hits snooze.
7:30 a.m. — Two more alarms go off and since I have to be at my bus stop at 7:57, I get out of bed, brush my teeth, and get dressed. S. gets out of the shower. I kiss him goodbye and walk over to my stop. I add $5 to my bus pass because I only have enough to get myself to work but not home. $5
8:33 a.m. — I get off at my stop and walk a few blocks to the cafe next to my office. I get a bagel with cream cheese and eat it at my desk. $4.78
9 a.m. — I plan out some of the social media copy for when I leave while my coworkers set some things up in our gallery space to prepare for an event we're hosting tonight.
12:30 p.m. — I eat my leftover hoagie and some popcorn for lunch. I don't know if it is because it is Friday or if it's because it is my last full week, but the whole afternoon is totally dragging,
5 p.m. — I'm out! I pack up my things and head home. I change as soon as I get home because I have a yoga class at 6.
7:20 p.m. — I get out of yoga and head home to shower and change into stretchy pants and a t-shirt. Every Friday, S. and I work out on our own and then get together to order Vietnamese food and have a quiet night in. I head out to pick up our order at 8. $28
8:30 p.m. — S. gets here after spending a long time looking for parking and we take about five seconds to completely devour our meal.
8:45 p.m. — We spend the rest of the night watching Love Is Blind and goofing off with each other. I really love how much fun we have together. We fall asleep at 11.
Daily Total: $37.78

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — S.'s alarm goes off. He booked us for yoga at the studio that he goes to just outside the city. It's apparently more intense than mine and the fact that he chose the 8 a.m. class on a Saturday is making it feel even more so.
7 a.m. — We get dressed and head out the door. We stop at the gas station by my house and he grabs two water bottles for the class. I call my mom on the way there. My parents live overseas and because of the seven-hour time difference and my work hours, we don't have many opportunities to talk. I chat with my mom the whole car ride there.
7:55 a.m. — We get to the class and check in. I grab a mat and towel and walk into the room. 105 degrees feels a LOT hotter than I thought it would.
9 a.m. — WHOA. My goal was to not pass out, which I was able to do, but there were a couple of times when I did have to take a minute to breathe and step out of whatever pose we were doing. I don't know how S. does this every week. After chugging some water, we head to Wawa on our way home for a fast breakfast.
9:50 a.m. — I get apples with peanut butter, a hash brown, and a small personal pack of mozzarella. S. gets a banana, a mixed fruit cup, and a caffeinated soda-looking drink. He pays since I went to the class from hell with him. My head is pounding the whole way home and I can't wait to shower and take a nap.
1:30 p.m. — I am still in bed after napping for about an hour and S. is on a run. He's been running forever and I don't know where he gets all of his energy from. He asks me if I can pick up some beer for him for later this evening and so I get out of bed and walk down the street to the deli. I grab two six-packs. $24.18
2 p.m. — S. is back. I find out he very casually just ran a half marathon after the ridiculous hot yoga class we did. He showers and gets dressed and then we head over to a bar to meet friends that we haven't seen in a while.
2:30 p.m. — S. and I get a late lunch and our friends split an appetizer since they already ate. We all get a beer. S. pays the bill and we head downstairs to play mini golf.
4:15 p.m. — After one more beer and a round of mini golf, S. and I say goodbye to our friends and head back to my place to regroup before the Phillies game. We check out the bar on my street on the way back but it looks like they are already absolutely packed. We look up some other bars around the area and find one that says they should have space for the next while.
4:45 p.m. — S. heads over to that bar with one of his friends while I wait for W. to come over to my place for a quick drink. No one touches the beers I bought earlier, but it's fine because I am sure we will drink them another time.
5:15 p.m. — W. and I meet S. and his friend at the bar and we settle in. W. orders us the first round of drinks as well as some appetizers for the table.
7 p.m. — I grab another round of drinks for W. and me. $16
10:45 p.m. — The Phillies are losing so we head home early. I'm sad that they lost but a small part of me is happy that it's over. The whole process was so stressful! I make S. some instant ramen and we fall asleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $40.18

Day Seven

8 a.m. — S. and I wake up. I get out of bed before him and get dressed. He orders us coffee on his phone so I walk down the street to pick it up while he starts to get up.
8:30 a.m. — We are dressed and I found a little diner that is located under one of the large apartment buildings in the area. I didn't realize it was even there, but we decide to try it out since we're hungry and there aren't a ton of other breakfast options around. I order tomato juice and creamed chipped beef. S. gets orange juice, a toasted corn muffin, and an omelet with peppers and onions. Every once in a while I really love creamed chipped beef so I am very content. We finish our food and S. pays the bill.
11 a.m. — For the first time in a very long time, S. and I have no plans for the whole day. We watch a true crime documentary on Netflix and S. falls asleep.
1:45 p.m. — We watch Sunday night football but I mostly zone out. I am not huge into sports, so watching the Phillies this whole week has gotten me all sports-ed out. S. asks if we should just pack up and head to his place now and I say that I want to pick up some stuff from the grocery store before we go. He decides to hang back while I head out to the store.
2:30 p.m. — I get to Target only to realize that they have none of the things that I need. The next closest grocery store is Whole Foods (to my dismay). I hate how expensive Whole Foods is, but at the same time, I can't help but want to be someone who shops at Whole Foods. Probably just the way that capitalism has me in a chokehold but whatever. I grab two packs of zucchini noodles, a bagged salad for work tomorrow, an eggplant, and a Thai tea almond latte. $23.26
3:15 p.m. — I get home and pack my bag for the night. We drive to his apartment, sit on the couch, and then find that we are bored again. We decide to start watching Succession.
5:30 p.m. — I start making dinner. I slice an eggplant thinly, lay it on a cookie tray, and put it in the oven. I make the filling for the eggplant and the sauce. When the eggplant comes out I assemble the eggplant and place it in a casserole dish to top it with the sauce and cheese. I put that back in the oven to warm up. In the meantime, I season and sauté zucchini noodles. We eat dinner and continue watching Succession.
9:30 p.m. — We brush our teeth, watch some TikToks, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $23.26
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