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A Week In St. Louis, MO, On A $46,000 Salary

Photo: Sonic
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 manager who makes $46,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Sonic cherry limeade.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Events
Age: 22
Location: St. Louis, MO
Salary: $46,000
Net Worth: -$13,451 ($246.79 in checking, $3,677.24 in savings, $1,174.45 in retirement, $18,550.20 in student loans. This is what's in my name, but I'm paying a car loan and a parent plus loan in my parents' names. With that, it adds about $35,000 in loans/debt).
Debt: $18,550.20 in student loans. If forgiveness goes through, mine will be wiped out. I'm also paying off $35,000 of loans/car debt via my parents, but that is all in their name.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,360.94
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700 (I share a two-bed, two-bath with a roommate).
Student Loans: With loans on pause, I've been putting $200 a month in savings so I can make a lump sum payment before the pause ends.
Energy: $100
Car Insurance: $75
Phone: $85
Car Payment: $210
Book of the Month: $16.67
Billie: $10.42 every three months.
Streaming: I use my parents'/friends'.
Truebill: $4.99
Spotify: $15.99 for the family plan (my family uses it but rarely pays me).
Apple Family Plan: $7 for my share (I use it for Apple Fitness and storage).

Annual Expenses
Renter's Insurance: $99
Amazon: $30 (in the last year of student pricing, I split it with my parents).
The Athletic: $35.99 (also in my last year of student pricing).
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?
I went to a private four-year college and got a bachelor's degree. I paid for it with loans, grants and scholarships. As the oldest daughter who was good at school and self-sufficient, it was always expected I would go, but I don't know that it would have been the end of the world if I didn't go as long as I had a plan. I wanted to go to a small, out-of-state school so I knew it wouldn't be cheap. I didn't really realize at the time how much I was really taking out in loans and with the pause starting my sophomore year, I'm so grateful I've only accumulated $94 in loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't really talk about finances. Growing up, both of my parents worked but neither ever made much money. I still remember when my dad came home in the middle of the day one summer when we were playing outside and it was because he was let go. There were times we were on food stamps and free/reduced lunch but my parents always made sure we were well-fed and well-involved in extracurriculars. I'm still not great at saving and know nothing about investing, and I can't really rely on my parents for help in any of that.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started babysitting in middle school but my first real job was my senior year of high school, at a craft store. I got the job so I could have spending money for gas and going out with friends.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes and no. I didn't because I still got to play club sports and we always had food on the table and a roof over our heads, but I did because I heard things and I knew when we were on food stamps and that my parents filed for bankruptcy at one point. I never asked for money and I plan to pay for some of the loans my parents took out for me.
Do you worry about money now?
For sure. My boyfriend has talked about buying a house and I feel like I'll never be able to get there. I'm slowly saving but once I have to pay loans again I don't know how much I'll be saving. I'm trying to be better about my spending and find a happy medium between saving, paying my debt and still having fun.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I'm technically not quite yet. I'm still on my parents' health insurance and I will be until I'm 26. I know if I needed to, I could move back in with my parents, but I don't want to. My boyfriend, although still not fully financially independent, would also be able to help me out if I needed it. My friends would also help with what they could if it came to that.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I got a car from my grandpa and uncle right before I left for college and drove my dad's car for a while as well.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I scroll through my phone before getting up. Once I get up, I brush my teeth, put in my contacts and then start my makeup. I keep it fairly simple with a moisturizer, SPF, primer, concealer, and a tinted moisturizer as my base. Then I use bronzer and blush to bring some color back and finish off with eyebrow gel and mascara. Most of my products are e.l.f and all of them are drugstore. Nothing fancy. I washed my hair yesterday and let it air-dry and it looks surprisingly good so I put in some frizz serum and call it a day. I throw on a light sweater and my trusty black work pants and black ankle boots, grab my Olive Garden leftovers for lunch, and I'm out the door. I had to scrape the ice off my car but thankfully my morning was quick so I have plenty of time.
7:30 a.m. — I'm craving a Panera chocolate chip bagel so I stop and grab one since I have a gift card. Starbucks is right next door so I decide to pop in for a peppermint mocha to enjoy the peppermint while I still can. I also have a Starbucks gift card so my breakfast is free!
8 a.m. — Get to work and eat my breakfast, then dive into my tasks for the day.
10 a.m. — My windshield cracked over the weekend so my mom let our insurance agent know and she calls me to get the details. She says to expect a call later to confirm it'll be covered.
11 a.m. — That was quick! My windshield replacement is covered so I call Safelite to make an appointment for Saturday.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! I heat up my baked five-cheese ziti and watch some TikTok while I eat.
4:30 p.m. — Time to go! Work was quiet today and I didn't have any meetings so I got a good amount done.
5 p.m. — I get home, change into workout clothes and go on a quick walk. After my walk, I head to my apartment gym and lift for a bit.
5:40 p.m. — I run to the grocery store for some things to get me through the week. I get a cucumber, some potatoes, tomatoes, rolls, popcorn chicken and lunch meat for $22.76. And then since I'm out, I stop at Sonic for a cherry limeade. A little treat never hurts ($2). $24.76
6:10 p.m. — Home from the store, I start on dinner. My chicken is still slightly frozen so I put it in cold water while I cut potatoes, asparagus and green beans. I start the potatoes first, season them with garlic salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and some mozzarella. Next, I put in the asparagus and green beans with some garlic salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Chicken gets seasoned with lemon herb seasoning and some salt and pepper. While that cooks I start season two of Ginny and Georgia and make my sandwich for lunch tomorrow.
7:30 p.m. — Clean up my delicious dinner and then do a quick body shower before putting on my pajamas, doing my nighttime routine (take out my contacts, remove my makeup and then moisturize) and getting in bed. I watch two more episodes of Ginny and Georgia and lights out at 10.
Daily Total: $24.76

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I scroll my phone again before getting up. I do my usual morning routine and throw on a black and white striped tank top, green button-down, leggings and my Converse. Grab my lunch and head out the door! No scraping my windows today thankfully, so to celebrate I stop at Starbucks for a peppermint mocha and red velvet loaf. Still have money on my gift card so it's free.
8 a.m. — Get to work and eat my breakfast then chat with my coworker for a bit since she wasn't here yesterday. I eventually start working.
11:30 a.m. — Lunch break! I eat the sandwich I packed and scroll on TikTok for a bit before getting back to work.
4:30 p.m. — Time to go! I give my coworker $10 to go in on the pot for the mega million. It's a pipe dream but I can't be the only one in the office who didn't participate if we win. $10
5 p.m. — Get home and quickly change to work out. It's nice out again so my plan is another walk and then a quick lift.
6:15 p.m. — I had planned for a longer workout today but not this long. My apartment gym only has one rack and I've never had a problem getting it, but today somebody was using it and spent probably half the time on their phone. I biked for 20 minutes until the rack was free, then did my lift quickly and went home to make dinner.
6:45 p.m. — Dinner eaten, lunch packed, kitchen cleaned. I hop in the shower and soak. I haven't lifted in a few weeks and I'm feeling it. I use a shower steamer I got for Christmas and just chill for a bit. When I get out I light my peppermint candle and turn on Ginny and Georgia for a bit.
9 p.m. — I fall asleep halfway through an episode.
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, scroll my phone, morning routine. I can't figure out what I want to wear today. I settle on my black pants and boots with an olive green tank top and black denim jacket. I take out some homemade bread from the freezer for breakfast and am out the door by 7:20.
8 a.m. — At my desk, eating my breakfast and checking my email.
11:30 a.m. — Lunchtime! I'm not super hungry but I need a break so I eat my sandwich and finish the episode of Ginny and Georgia that I fell asleep during last night.
4:30 p.m. — Closing time! Say bye to my coworkers and head home.
5 p.m. — I get home and change for the gym. It's still nice out but I'm tired of walking by myself so I decide to walk on the treadmill and watch Netflix while I walk. Walking alone outside makes me miss my boyfriend, K., who temporarily moved back home for work. I put on an episode of Ginny and Georgia and tell myself I have to walk the entire episode.
5:45 p.m. — Mission failed. When I get to the gym it is FULL so I have to bike on the world's most uncomfortable bike for five minutes until a treadmill opens up. About 20 minutes in, my feet start to hurt. I've noticed when I'm walking for an extended period of time the sole of my foot gets super stiff and hurts pretty bad. I've tried arch support, I've tried no arch support, nothing helps. I call it quits at a mile and head home to eat.
6:30 p.m. — I have my popcorn chicken and fries for dinner with some veggies. I chat with my roommate for a bit while I eat, clean up and pack my lunch.
7:30 p.m. — Another body shower and my nighttime routine later, I'm in bed and watching Ginny and Georgia. I finish the series around 10:30 and pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, I scroll through my phone, and get up. I do my usual morning routine, then throw on a maroon sweater, black pants and black boots. I add some dry shampoo to my hair and do a half-up look today to stretch it between washes. Grab my packed lunch, grab some bread for breakfast and head out the door by 7:15.
7:40 a.m. — I get to work a little early so I chill in my car for a bit before I head inside, eat my breakfast and get to work.
11:30 a.m. — Lunch! I eat my sandwich and watch last night's Abbott Elementary.
4:45 p.m. — Leaving a little late today because I have a meeting run long. I wrap up what I need to and then head home. I talk to my mom on my drive since we haven't talked in a while.
5:15 p.m. — I get home and my roommate and I buy our plane tickets for our trip to Louisiana. Our other bestie moved last year and we haven't made it down to visit her yet. We plan to go for a weekend during my roommate's spring break. After we get our tickets, I change and head to the gym. $345.95
6 p.m. — All of the treadmills are full again so I bike. I start the new episodes of The Circle that just dropped and bike for 40 minutes.
6:45 p.m. — My Aerie package arrived! I stop by the mailbox to get it and then head home. I get my chicken, potatoes, green beans and asparagus in the oven and then try on my new bras. I ordered one last week in my normal size and it was too small so I got a few more options. Thankfully one of them fits but since when did bra sizes turn into jean sizes?
7:15 p.m. — I sit down to eat dinner and watch more of The Circle while I eat. I clean up dinner real quick and hop in bed by 7:45.
Daily Total: $345.95

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Wake up and get ready. I skip the makeup today and throw on leggings and boots, a striped long-sleeve shirt, and a cardigan. I didn't pack a lunch last night but it's Friday and payday so I'll treat myself. I head out the door by 7:10.
7:30 a.m. — I have a free donut at Dunkin' and I'm early so I swing by. I get to work just before 8 and head in and get started.
11 a.m. — I head out to drop off some stuff for my coworker who is out with COVID. On my way back I grab Chick-fil-A for lunch. I have money on the app but not quite enough so I reload my card with $10. $10
4:45 p.m. — I get home and change to do a quick run at the gym. I do a 30-minute run/walk and then head home to shower and get ready since K. and I are going out tonight.
6 p.m. — K. gets here and we head out to dinner. We were planning to try a new place but it's packed so we decide on Red Robin. There's a 20-minute wait so we sit at the bar for a while. I get a drink and K. gets water. I pay $5.99 for my drink and then we head to our table. Both of us get burgers. I get dinner and with tip it is $40. $45.99
7:45 p.m. — K. wants dessert so we head next door to Sonic. He gets a cherry limeade slush and I get a chocolate Oreo blast. K. pays since I got dinner. When we get our order, my shake doesn't look very chocolaty. I'm not sure what I got but it definitely wasn't chocolate or Oreo. Disappointed, we go home and get in bed. K. turns on a basketball game and I watch TikTok until I fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $55.99

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off so I can make sure I'm up for when Safelite comes to replace my windshield. They text at 8:15 that they'll be there in 20 minutes so I throw on sweats and a coat and head out to defrost my car. The guy gets here around 8:30 and I leave my keys with him and head back inside. I start some laundry while waiting and just hang out with K. for a bit.
10:15 a.m. — My car is done and insurance covers it so no cost to me. K. and I go to the gym and do a quick workout, then come back and shower.
11:30 a.m. — We head out to grab lunch before seeing a movie. We settle on Chick-fil-A. I scan my app to get the rewards points, forgetting I have money on the app so we end up splitting lunch.
12:30 p.m. — Movie time! We're seeing A Man Called Otto and I'm so excited.
2:30 p.m. — Ugh, it was so good. So sad, but I loved it. K. didn't like it as much because he doesn't like sad movies. I also find out they're making a movie adaptation of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I loved that book growing up and I can't wait to see it.
3 p.m. — We head to the store for some groceries. We get stuff for a roast, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole for dinner tomorrow. I grab some extra potatoes and green beans to have with dinner this week and some mozzarella. K. grabs some things he needs too. K. pays.
3:30 p.m. — Home just in time for football. K. gets settled on the couch and I put my laundry away and then get comfy in bed. I catch up on The Circle and end up dozing off to TikTok.
7 p.m. — We order a pizza for dinner. I order the pizza, which is $23.61, and K. goes to pick it up. I watch football with him for a bit before getting bored and getting into bed to watch some Gilmore Girls. I fall asleep and K. joins me at some point. $23.61
Daily Total: $23.61

Day Seven

8 a.m. — K.'s alarm goes off so he can get up and start dinner. We're making a roast so he gets up and gets it in the crockpot and then we go back to bed.
10 a.m. — We decide to get up and go on a walk. It's a little chilly but the sun is out so it isn't too bad. We do our lap and want to walk more but my feet are killing me so we call it quits.
11 a.m. — K. gets settled on the couch to watch football and I lie in bed and start The Mindy Project.
5:00 p.m. — We get hungry so we work on dinner. K. makes the mashed potatoes and I make the green bean casserole. Once it's all ready we sit down to eat. It all turns out pretty delicious! We sit on the couch to watch more football.
7 p.m. — We make cookie skillets for dessert. I scoop cookie dough into a bowl and put it in the air fryer for seven minutes, then top it with ice cream. Delicious! K. and I play Chronology while he watches football and I go to bed around 9.
Daily Total: $0
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