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A Week In Twin Cities, MN, On A $110,000 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: a marketing manager who makes $110,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Starbucks Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 29
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Salary: $110,000
Net Worth: $102,000 (I'm happy to have cleared six figures here, as my car is finally paid off as of last month. The breakdown is as follows: $13,000 in a Certificate of Deposit (CD) account, $33,000 in a Roth IRA, $51,000 in a traditional 401(k), $500 in an HSA, and $4,500 in the stock market. I'm starting to build up an emergency fund now that I'm debt-free. My plan for emergencies until I have enough saved in a traditional savings account is to dip into my CD account and just pay the early withdrawal penalty.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,473
Pronouns: She/they

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,160 for a one-bedroom apartment, including utilities
Internet/Phone: $0 (covered by work)
401(k): $1,500 (I try to max out my contributions every year)
Vacation Fund: $200
Emergency Savings: $600
Spotify: $2 (on a family plan; I pay my brother monthly)
Netflix/Hulu/HBO: $0 (my brother's)
Medical/Dental: $0 (work covers premiums)
Vision: $30.21 (work also covers vision premiums, but I opted for a premium plan)
HSA: $100
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?
Yes. College was a non-negotiable in my family. My grandparents were poor and working class and college was simply not an option for them. Both sets of grandparents did everything they could to ensure my parents went to college. As a result, my parents are first-generation college graduates. When it came time for me to go to college, I was fortunate to have received some scholarships and a lot of help from my parents for an out-of-state private school. I ended up taking out $10,000 or so in loans which I have since repaid, unfortunately pre-Biden forgiveness (but I am 100% here for that, no bitterness here!). I also worked part-time all throughout college to earn spending money.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We talked about money a good amount. My parents drilled into us that money is meant to be saved and used judiciously, but not to be hoarded or coveted, either. We were taught that, on top of paying for the essentials, money is to be spent wisely on the things you care about, like making donations to charities or saving up to buy something special for someone. There was a lot of buying only the essentials (in bulk) and coupon clipping in my house.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was in college working at the campus gym. I came of age during the 2008 recession and it was hard to find a part-time job in high school, so I didn't work until college. The gym job was a part of my financial aid package, though, so I had to get another job for spending money. I got a second job at a specialty foods deli. I made hot sandwiches, designed charcuterie boards, assembled gift baskets, and packaged handmade pasta. Probably my favorite job to this day.
Did you worry about money growing up?
For the most part, no. On one hand, we never struggled to get food on the table and there was always money for field trips and extracurriculars. On the other hand, I felt that we had “less” than my friends or neighbors. My parents drove an older minivan and we never bought anything full price, which made me worry that we were poor. But by the time I went to college, I gained some perspective and realized that I grew up in a wealthier community and wealthier than most Americans, even though I didn't feel like it growing up.
Do you worry about money now?
100% yes. I worry about money from time to time, even though I know I'm doing okay in the grand scheme of things. Specifically, I worry about how I'll pay for big, unexpected items like a medical emergency — and in the longer term, I'm worried about retirement (even though I do my best to max out my 401(k) annually) and affording kids (something I'm thinking more about as I approach my 30s).
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible at 22 when I graduated college. I haven't received a single penny from my parents since then (aside from holiday presents and being treated to meals). My financial safety net is definitely just my savings account at the moment.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I want to reiterate that my parents helped me with a good chunk of undergrad, enabling me to graduate with hardly any debt, which is a huge privilege. Other than that, I do not expect to receive any passive or inherited income.

Day One

10:30 a.m. — Today is my day off and I'm planning to spend it at the library. I head out, grabbing an iced coffee and a cake donut on my way over. $8.81
3 p.m. — I've spent the last four hours reading all three books from Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved trilogy. I was a big fan of the Netflix movies but never read the books until today — and even though I'm not the target demo for YA lit anymore, the series was really engrossing. In my reading daze, I forget to eat lunch and realize that a) I'm pretty hungry and b) I also have no food at home.
4 p.m. — Finally manage to leave the library to go grocery shopping! I know better than to shop for food on an empty stomach, so I grab a super late lunch (early dinner at this point, really): three tacos al pastor and an agua fresca. $14.43
5 p.m. — I get back in the car and realize the tank is nearly empty, so I pull into the first gas station I can find to fill up my tank. While at the pump, a friend, N., texts and asks me if I want to grab a drink with her. I happily agree and decide to put off grocery shopping for another day. $52.18
7 p.m. — N. and I catch up. It's been more than four months since I've seen her, and we spend most of our time talking about our summers so far. We split a pitcher of margs and a basket of bottomless chips for the table. $18.65
9:50 p.m. — Finally home for the night. I do my nightly routine — wash my face, change into pajamas, and turn on a TV show. Tonight, it's Trainwreck: Woodstock ‘99 on Netflix. I watch two episodes with a glass of red wine and am horrified by the mess of it all.
Daily Total: $94.07

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Eek! I get up way later than I intended and have to rush to be online in 30 minutes. Once again, it's extremely hot, humid, and sunny in my apartment — so after a hasty oatmeal breakfast and downing an iced coffee, I decide I must leave for my coworking space before I get further into the work day.
12:45 p.m. — Lunch is leftover pasta salad and cherries. The pasta salad is the epitome of a sad desk lunch, but the cherries are sweet and slightly sticky perfection. I also text my brother, S., who I'm driving to see tomorrow, to confirm arrival time and dinner plans.
5 p.m. — I leave my coworking space and get home — but not before I realize that I didn't end up going grocery shopping yesterday… so I have no food. I have an intense craving for Neapolitan pizza, so I order a pizza, salad, and blood orange San Pellegrino for takeout. $34.30
6:30 p.m. — I head over to my friend, G.'s, house for a classic backyard bonfire. On the way over, I pick up a few beers to share with everyone else. $23.81
7:15 p.m. — Well, turns out I should have brought Champagne instead! Shortly after I get there, G. and his wife announce that they're expecting. Of all my close friends, G. will be the first to become a parent. I'm equally excited and terrified that my friends and I are already at this chapter of life.
10:50 p.m. — Getting ready for bed when I get a BeReal alert. I take a picture of myself brushing my teeth, close the app, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $58.11

Day Three

9:19 a.m. — I wake up to some buzzing on my bedside table — it was, to my surprise, another BeReal notification. I look a mess, but I can't deny the spirit of BeReal. I snap a picture of my spider plants in the morning light with the back-facing camera (and hope for the best for the front-facing camera).
11 a.m. — I pack an overnight bag and start my long drive to Madison to spend a weekend with S. (my brother) and his boyfriend. I have about five hours of driving ahead of me and am running a bit behind schedule.
1 p.m. — I stop for a late lunch at McDonald's. $6.13
2:30 p.m. — I stop again, but this time to fill up on gas. I resist the temptation to get a snack and polish off the rest of my now-cold fries. $44.40
4:30 p.m. — Finally at S.'s! It's my first time visiting him in his new apartment and I'm envious of how much nicer it is than mine. I practically throw my bag on the futon and jump in the shower (long drives always make me feel gross) before we head out to dinner.
6 p.m. — We meet up with S.'s boyfriend, E. We spend dinner catching up and hearing all the latest gossip. As usual, we're all doubled over in laughter by the end of the meal, and I feel warm and tipsy when I stand up to use the restroom before our next stop. I happily pick up the bill. $150.92
8:30 p.m. — At a brewery now, and E. and S. insist that they get a round each in exchange for my picking up dinner. I drink an IPA and a stout and feel pretty drunk at this point, but so very happy to be in the company of my little brother and his love.
11:40 p.m. — S., E., and I part ways. They're headed to a party (how?), and I'm headed straight to S.'s couch to catch some zzz's. It's a horribly rainy night so I take an Uber back to the apartment — thankfully, it's not too pricey thanks to my monthly $10 Uber Cash benefit from my credit card. $7.84
Daily Total: $209.29

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up less hungover than I thought I'd be. I check to see that S. is in his bed (he is). I drink two cups of water and immediately go back to sleep.
9:30 a.m. — I wake up, this time for real. S. and I talk about our upcoming trip to Japan to see our cousin while we eat breakfast: coffee, oatmeal, blueberries, and (very) stale raspberry scones. It'll be my first time out of the country since the pandemic and S.'s first time in Japan.
11:25 a.m. — Time to hit the road (again!). I wish I could stay longer, but I need to be back to work tomorrow. S. and I grab lunch at a slice shop nearby before I leave. As the older sister (and the one not in grad school), I of course pay. $23.47
4:45 p.m. — I'm making good time and am a little irritated that I need to stop for gas, but so it goes. I only fill up a little and vow to not use my car for the next few days after. $20
6 p.m. — HOME! I'm starving and there's no way I'm cooking anything now, plus I have a major case of the Sunday scaries. Uber Eats it is. I order Thai curry and spring rolls (+ tip). $37.09
7 p.m. — Food arrives and I'm a happy gal. I pair my meal with a tallboy of Hamm's (iykyk), park myself on the couch, and finish the Woodstock docuseries.
Daily Total: $80.56

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — I roll out of bed, even though I should have been at my desk 30 minutes ago. Thankfully, the one meeting I have today gets canceled and my boss Slacks me (before working hours) that he'll be taking a sick day.
10 a.m. — I celebrate my meeting cancellation with a trip to the coffee shop so I can get my iced latte on. I end up also getting a strawberry rhubarb danish. I have a hard time saying no to myself. $12.71
5:30 p.m. — I shut my laptop after a slog of a day and go for a walk around a lake. I sit on a bench and talk to my mom on the phone while I people watch, catching her up on the events of the weekend.
7 p.m. — I walk back home and I'm not even two steps in when I remember that I still don't have food for dinner! Unfortunately, I'm extremely hungry, so I order Chipotle. I then block time off on my calendar tomorrow specifically to go grocery shopping. This is getting out of hand, even for me! $22.74
10 p.m. — I unwind from the day and begin to watch Miss Congeniality on Netflix on the couch with a tall glass of red wine.
Daily Total: $35.45

Day Six

1 a.m. — I fell asleep watching the movie on my couch, and now some random Netflix show is playing. Disoriented, I wipe the drool off my face, rinse my mouth, and head to bed.
7:30 a.m. — I get up to go on a morning walk. Minnesota this time of year is so lovely, especially after a big rainstorm when the air is a bit thinner and a bit cooler. I grab my usual order at Starbucks on my way back: a grande Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. $5.13
10:30 a.m. — It's not even 11 a.m. and somehow I've already had three meetings today! I'm looking forward to my next meeting, which is a monthly lunch one-on-one with my coworker, T., who lives in a different state. I scroll through Uber Eats and place an order for Thai food (papaya salad and spring rolls) to arrive at 12. Work picks up the tab, so I leave a super generous 35% tip. ($32.93 expensed)
1 p.m. — T. and I wrap up our monthly catch-up, but my food doesn't arrive until now. I quickly scarf it down before I return to work on yet another deck.
3:45 p.m. — GROCERY TIME! I put my Slack status on away and tell my coworkers I'll be gone for the next hour. I head to my local Trader Joe's. I do a pretty big shop and pick up a few essentials: frozen meals, bottles of tomato paste, bags of dry pasta, instant oatmeal, eggs, olive oil, frozen shrimp, and snacks. $88.23
6:15 p.m. — I wrap up work and make Alison Roman's classic shallot pasta for dinner when my younger cousin calls. I'm not really in the mood to chat right now but I know she's going back to school soon, so I pick up and we chat for a solid half hour before I feign tiredness.
11 p.m. — I eat a few CBD gummies (purchased a week ago from a health foods store), do my nightly routine, and read until I doze off to sleep.
Daily Total: $93.36

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Another day, another morning walk, another Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew. $5.13
8:45 a.m. — I open my laptop to start my day a tiny bit early and read through the slog of emails that members of my team in Asia have left me overnight.
3:30 p.m. — The mid-week slump is real for me this week, so I sign off a little early, park myself in front of the TV, and finish The Rehearsal. For a TV dinner, I heat up some frozen egg rolls and eat a hasty fruit salad made of apples, bananas, and grapes with a honey dressing.
8 p.m. — I'm not going to any weddings this year because I wasn't invited to any and I am feeling a little sad about this. I decide to treat myself to some clothes. I pull the trigger on a top I've had my eye on forever from Reformation, a skirt, and another top. Look, ya girl's gotta look cute. $365
10:45 p.m. — Nightly routine time. I break open a new canister of floss and a new tube of toothpaste, which feels fortuitous. To new beginnings!
Daily Total: $370.13
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