A Week In Northern Indiana On A $53,747 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: Higher education marketer who makes $53,747 per year and spends some of her money this week on a digital thermometer for a snake.
Occupation: Marketing/Communications
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 39
Location: Northern Indiana
Salary: $53,747
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,589.57
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $0 (my husband pays the mortgage on our home, which is $825/month)
Loans: $0 (I finished paying off over $50,000 in student loans for my undergrad degree in October 2018. My husband paid his car off and I don't have one.)
Health Insurance/Dental/Vision/Life/Disability (deducted from husband's pay): $405
Hulu: $11.99
Amazon Prime: $119 annually
Medication: $35
Gym Membership: $48
Netflix: $12.99
Audible: $14.95
Ipsy: $12
Spotify: $14.99
Internet: $67
Phones: $115
Power: $80-130 (depending on season)
Gas (for home): husband pays
Water/Sewer/Trash: husband pays
529 Plan: $550 (both of us pay equal amounts)
Christmas Club (savings): $102
New Car Savings: $200
General Savings: $250
Home Repair Savings: $200

Day One

6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I startle awake and think “hahaha, no.” Hit snooze.
6:25 a.m. — Take two. Up and at ‘em! I shower and get dressed for work, take the dog out for her short morning walk, bring her back in, and feed her. Then I pack enough Diet Cokes in my backpack to see me through the workday. I am a Diet Coke addict and it is a problem. Someone convince me to give it up, please! Having gotten ready for work himself, my husband comes downstairs and we both bundle up. Winter in Northern Indiana is truly brutal, but it hasn't gotten miserably cold yet, so we've been spared the worst of it thus far... which just means there'll be hell to pay in late Jan/Feb. :) We hop in my husband's car and he drives me to work and drops me off. Kiss goodbye and I'm off.
7:25 a.m. — I sit down at my desk, start my computer, crack open a morning Diet Coke, and take my medication. I work at a university and, in addition to a generous holiday break, I tacked on some vacation days to give myself a full two weeks off over the holidays, so it's my first day back in two weeks. I open my email and make a handwritten to-do list for the day. Since I started my career in my 20s, it has been my habit to make to-do lists for the week, with a section for each day, on a legal pad. I recently switched to graph paper notebooks and I take weird, nerdy joy in making little checkboxes for each item and then checking them off. Where my list lovers at?
8:30 a.m. — My coworkers come in and we catch up on the details of each other's holiday breaks. I was sick the entire break and none of my grand plans (tear down wallpaper in the guest room! Make lots of collage art! Hit my step goal every day!) came to fruition. It's nice to catch up with everyone. Then, I continue plowing through email and I email my husband. We email all day at work. I joke that half our relationship happens over email. It's a fun way to stay in touch throughout the day, though, and I smile each time a message from him pops up.
11:45 a.m. — I consider ordering Jimmy John's for lunch but don't. I'm a seasoned intermittent faster and I like to OMAD: eat One Meal A Day. I eat all my calories in one meal and I love it. Sometimes I do like to order lunch when I'm feeling peckish, though, and I remain flexible about my fasting window. Today, I'm not at all hungry at lunchtime, so I resolve to eat at dinner. That decision made, I crack open a book on my Kindle for PC app (James Fell's The Holy Sh!t Moment) and read through the lunch hour.
1 p.m. — My coworker returns from lunch and brings a round of McDonald's Diet Cokes for the office. Huzzah! (Now please lecture me on the evils of aspartame. I need it!)
1:30 p.m. — Weekly team meeting. It helps me get a handle on the ongoing projects that were paused for our holiday break. Then back to my desk and work. I also make arrangements for my mom to pick me up from work and take me by the pharmacy for a prescription decongestant that my doctor (finally) called in. Then, we'll pop over to Hobby Lobby because she wants to pick up a cake plate for her dining room table. (We are both slightly obsessed with these and I collect them.) I work at my desk through the afternoon.
5 p.m. — I walk to a spot on campus where my mom will pick me up. I usually walk home because I don't live far from campus and I like to use that time to decompress after work, get some exercise, and listen to audiobooks. Mom picks me up. We head to Walgreens to get my prescription, which costs $10.48. Then we hit up Hob Lob and HomeGoods. Miraculously, I do not buy anything. I think I am on stuff overload from all the holiday shopping. $10.48
6:40 p.m. — I walk the dog, eat my OMAD, and hang out with my husband and son. My son, who is 18 and taking a gap year, is house-sitting for some neighborhood friends but shows up once a day to hang out, get some more clothes from home, check on his pet snake, etc.
8 p.m. — Walk the dog one more time, read in bed with my husband (this time it's The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste), and sink into blissful sleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $10.48

Day Two

6:25 a.m. — Usual morning routine. I get up, walk the dog, pack my backpack for work, and my husband drops me off.
7:25 a.m. — Sit down at my desk and crack open a you-know-what to get me going. Check my email and get some work done before my coworkers start straggling in. I have three meetings today, but they should all be moderately painless (I pretty much hate meetings, in general).
8:30 a.m. — Check Facebook. I am reminded that my brother's fiance's birthday is coming up this weekend. I send her the cutest air plant in an amethyst holder from Plants and Beautiful Things ($32). She doesn't like a lot of stuff and I also see that, in that vein, she's asked for donations to The TLC Foundation for Body-Repetitive Behaviors (she suffered from trichotillomania) and I donate $10 in her name. Shopping online reminds me that I need to add trash bags to my online grocery cart. I order my groceries online from a local chain and always having a running cart going for the next grocery run. Trash bags added. Also, a bouquet of flowers in the name of #selfcare. :) Time to email my husband. $42
10 a.m. — Meeting with supervisor and coworker to sketch out an editorial calendar for some video content. Relatively painless. At 11, I attend a team meeting. Yep, still hate meetings.
12 p.m. — Not hungry, so I'll OMAD later (that acronym is apparently a verb, noun, and adjective for me). I finish The Shadow King at my desk. Then, I write a blog post reviewing it (highly recommend!) for my book blog.
4:30 p.m. — God, I am so over work today. I pack up, put on my tennis shoes, and hit the road for the walk home. I love my walks home because they are something just for me. They are also a money-saving experiment. When my car had a big repair come up in November, I decided I was tired of pumping money into an older car to keep it running. We sold it on Craigslist to someone who wanted to fix it. After calculating that it would probably be cheaper for me to not have a car for a while than to buy a new one, for which I'd need a loan, plus all the costs associated with one (insurance, maintenance, gas), I embarked on a one-month car-free experiment. Turns out I can mostly use my husband's car or take a Lyft. My Lyft totals for the month were negligible compared to the cost of owning a car.
8 p.m. — My husband and I walk the dog around the block. Then I check on my son's corn snake. She pokes her head out of her hiding spot to say hello when I pour water in her dish. Her little head is so alien-looking and cute. I check on her once a day while my son is house sitting because I worry that she gets lonely, lol. I feel like her tank is not that warm, but the thermometer reads 80 degrees. She looks fine and her eyes are not cloudy (which would be a sign that something is wrong). My son mentioned that he might need a new thermometer at some point though, so I think why not now? I order one for him on Amazon. I don't mind paying — he's trying to save money for college next year. Since we're out of body wash, I order that too (Jason Relaxing Chamomile, my favorite). $17.11
9:30 p.m. — I stay up too late reading Stillwater by Nicole Helget. It's delightful. I know 11 won't sound late to many people, but I feel awful if I don't get at least eight hours of sleep.
Daily Total: $59.11

Day Three

625 a.m. — Wake, shower, dog walk. It is windy AF today! And cold. I put on one of my favorite dresses, a navy blue A-line with a print of constellations and stars. It sounds twee, but it's quite subtle and pretty. Gray tights and Chelsea boots complete the lewk. My husband takes me to work per usual. I sit down at my desk, Diet Coke, morning meds, open email, email husband. As I suspected, I'm feeling my “late” night and my eyes are tired this morning. I have two stories to write and two versions of an email newsletter to build. Let's do this.
10:30 a.m. — Meeting with one of my least favorite colleagues and the director of our department who is very kind as a person but a somewhat incompetent leader. Also, she's one of those people that expects to get work done in meetings rather than discussing what we need to discuss, then getting work done on our own. She makes me tired. Anyhoo, the meeting goes as expected and I head back to my desk.
12 p.m. — I'm actually hungry at lunchtime today, so my coworker and I order Jimmy John's. I have a Turkey Tom, chips, and an oatmeal raisin cookie (insert drooling emoji). It doesn't cost me anything thanks to the gift card my husband slipped into my Christmas stocking. Yay! I wanted to make this a no-spend day, but we need groceries. We've been living on a random assortment of what was in the fridge after our New Year's Eve party, plus some other basics. I order groceries online and set a time to pick them up later when my husband gets home from work with the car. Total is $137.92. My husband and I divide bills and expenses between us mostly proportionate to our salaries and I pay for groceries. $137.92
4:30 p.m. — My coworker offers to give me a ride home (so sweet!) and I take her up on it because some items I ordered during break were delivered and are just sitting on our front porch for the taking. I usually have stuff delivered to my office, but I thought these would arrive while I was still home on break to receive them. Anyway, I get home and find two of the three packages. The one that held the thermometer and body wash has been stolen by porch pirates. I walk the dog, then arrange for Amazon to send me the missing items for free, this time to my office. I send a message to the neighborhood listserv. People always share when they've had a package stolen, I guess to remind others to be on guard. And sometimes people actually find the stolen items ripped open and tossed in one of the alleys.
6 p.m. — My husband swings home and picks me up and we go pick up our groceries. Get home, put them away, and he heads out to meet some friends at the local watering hole. I don't want to go because I'm just too tired. Work is super busy this week and I'm already kind of fried. Definitely no energy for extroverting. I have eat some pretzel crisps, carrots, and low-calorie Swiss Miss. Yum. I read Stillwater while I eat.
8 p.m. — I walk the dog, prep for bed, and crawl in bed with Stillwater. My lights are out by 9:30.
Daily Total: $137.92

Day Four

6:25 a.m. — Dear god, I am exhausted. I am moving like molasses this morning. Still the usual routine, though: shower, walk dog, pack backpack, off to work. I tell my dog I have to go make money for her snacks. I sit down at my desk, crack open a Diet Coke, take my morning meds, check email, email my husband. I have a stomach ache and my life feels extra hard today. Usually a combo of my depression flaring, plus dehydration. I resolve to drink more water and hope that helps.
9 a.m. — One-on-one meeting with my supervisor. These are weekly. I have a super supportive boss. He's kind and cares about me and his other direct reports. After years of working in environments that ranged from stilted to toxic, he is a breath of fresh air. He's the kind of boss who, when you say you don't feel good, says, “Just go home and rest.” What more could a cubicle warrior ask for, you know? I digress. The meeting goes well and I'm back to my desk for the long haul.
12 p.m. — Hungry again today. Also lazy and pressed for time so, you guessed it, I order Jimmy John's. They deliver straight to my desk. While I eat, I hop on Reddit for a while and then put up a Facebook post asking a fun question and it gets tons of attention. I have fun answering the comments and chatting with the friends that respond. Love it when FB isn't a total dumpster fire of political shit-talk. $15.06
4:20 p.m. — Sick of working, so I pack up and walk home. Today, it's kind of warm for January, though drizzling slightly. I walk home and listen to the audiobook version of Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come by Jessica Pan and enjoy it very much. I arrive home and my son is there! He's done house-sitting so he's home for good now. It's good to have him back. The dog is elated. He's her person. She follows him around all evening staring up at him in adoration. I sit on the couch and we chat and watch some episodes of Shameless until my husband gets home.
6:30 p.m. — Tonight, with my son handling the late evening dog walk, I plan to introvert hard. I make myself some dinner (peanut butter, pretzel crisps, ramen noodles, veggies, and some peanut butter cups) and retire to my room to eat and finish up Stillwater. It's such a good book.
8:30 p.m. — Read-in-bed time (affectionately referred to as “RIB Time” by my husband and me and, sorry no, it's not a euphemism. We just read next to each other). After Stillwater, I move on to another book and then pass out around 9:30.
Daily Total: $15.06

Day Five

6:35 a.m. — Running slightly behind this morning. I shower and dress. I put on a cute mauve snakeskin print top I just bought on clearance from Maurices and I just love the soft colors. I always feel better when I like my outfit. Then I get the dog out in a hurry. Pack my backpack with Diet Coke and mixed nuts in case of lunchtime hunger, and we're out the door.
7:20 a.m. - Sit down at my desk, Diet Coke, morning meds, check email, email husband. I am truly a creature of habit. My Facebook post has seen some more love overnight, so I jump in and comment.
10:30 a.m. — I set up a freelance designer to work remotely on a project via a computer in our office. It's a tangled web, but it has to be done this way because we need someone who can code to work on the website, but she lives in Florida. I go back to my own desk and follow up on some story leads. I also edit some graphics and check our editorial calendar to make sure we're good for content over the weekend.
12 p.m. — I'm OMADing today, so I spend my lunch writing a blog post on Stillwater. (Hope you're not annoyed with my book talk, I just really love books.)
1 p.m. — Back to work, baby. No meetings this afternoon, what luxury!
2:45 p.m. — Why is this the longest afternoon of my life? Maybe some meetings would have broken up the afternoon.
4:20 p.m. — Annnd, I'm out! I walk home in unusually warm weather for January in Indiana. It's almost 50 degrees out. Weird.
5:20 p.m. — Get home, greet my son, walk the dog for good measure, and fix my OMAD. Tonight it's a snacky plate of salami, a bagel with butter, carrots and veggie dip, pretzel crisps, and applesauce. My son and I eat and watch Shameless until my husband gets home, then chat with him for a bit.
7 p.m. — I go upstairs and take off my makeup, change, and settle in for an evening of reading and an early bedtime. My husband reads with me, then finds something else to do at home when I'm ready to turn out the lights around 10. Woo Friday!
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:45 a.m. — Oh Saturday, how I've missed you! I can't sleep any longer, but my husband goes back to sleep for a bit. He must've stayed up late. I get dressed and walk the dog. A steady rain is falling and it's still unusually warm out. I slept quite a bit last night, but I am just dragging today. Moving like molasses. Before I got sick over break, I'd head right to my desk on my days off and start making collages. Today, my brain is sludge and I do not have the energy for art. I get a drink, take my medicine, and curl up on the couch with my Chromebook and read some blogs. I wait to see if my meds kick in and give me a boost of energy for the day.
11:11 a.m. — I end up reading a post by the Literary Ladies Guide on Facebook recommending that everyone read Frankenstein before they die. It gets me thinking about whether there is one book I would want everyone to read before they die. These thoughts turn into a blog post. I also decide to see if food helps my sluggishness and end up eating pretzel crisps and a bagel with butter. I also chug some water. It helps immensely.
12 p.m. — My husband has showered and comes downstairs. Turns out, he went to two different bars after I went to sleep and saw a band play. We chat and then decide that while it's not raining heavily, we'll go for a walk to get some exercise. We bundle up and head out. It is raining and the wind picks up so we stop at the neighborhood bar for a warm-up. I have two delicious white Russians and my husband has a mixed drink and a beer. We talk to the regular sitting next to us who manages to say, like, ten sexist things in the space of an hour. He reveals that he has a wife and a secret girlfriend and I think, “TWO women are in love with this joker?” There is no accounting for taste. We also chat with the newer bartender who organizes music shows in town. Then we head home. My husband pays.
3 p.m. — I shower, then head out to pick up a prescription ($10). $10
3 p.m. — I also pick up some curtains I had dry-cleaned. I bought them for $6 at Goodwill a few months ago and thought I could just wash them myself, but I couldn't get that musty Goodwill smell out. When I pick them up at the cleaners, I am astounded by the bill, which comes to $77.70. So much for my inexpensive curtains. $77.70
3 p.m. — I head to Meijer and pick up two curtain rods, plus some lemon wax melts, and some earrings that were on clearance (I'm always losing earrings so I like to restock when I can). $27.26
6 p.m. — I hang the curtains in the guest room and clean it out. My son comes home from work and makes himself dinner. My husband helps me move the treadmill I never use out to the porch. I send an email to the neighborhood listserv and offer the treadmill for free to whoever wants to come over and lug it home. It's gone within ten minutes. Wow. I continue cleaning and then lay on my bed and scroll through Instagram and Facebook.
7:30 p.m. — My husband and I take a Lyft to a local restaurant/bar that's closing next week. He pays for the Lyft. My husband has enjoyed going to this restaurant because of the bartender, who is the kind of bartender who wants to make you the cocktail he thinks you need, rather than the cocktail you order. We meet three friends there, one couple and a friend whose wife can't make it. They eat tapas and we all have several drinks. Service is slow and they are running out of various items since they're closing soon. A friend of ours who is a chef in town comes by near closing and has a drink with us. He drops some hints about what's next for the location after the restaurant closes. We leave at closing and my husband pays.
10 p.m. — My husband and our one friend whose wife couldn't come decide to hit up another location. We head down the street to a dive bar. We frequented this bar in college and the owners live two doors down from us. Their son is bartending. Our city sometimes feels like an interconnected little world of people who mostly know each other. We have several drinks and play songs on the TouchTunes jukebox. My husband pays. (Note: My husband pays for a lot of our entertainment because he makes more money than I do. I chip in where/when I can.)
Daily Total: $114.96

Day Seven

12 a.m. — We make one last stop at the neighborhood bar (the same one we walked to earlier in the day). We take a Lyft and I pay ($9.81 with tip). We have some drinks and hang out, then walk home around 1:30 a.m. and head to bed. $9.81
9:45 a.m. — Hangover day! I get dressed and walk the dog. I'm hungover thanks to our busy night and I need some greasy breakfast. I take my husband's car to McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts and bring back breakfast sammies ($8 even) and donuts ($10.69) for us. My son is up when I get home and we eat together. My husband comes down to join us. We veg on the couch together while my son plays Grand Theft Auto and I read some funny memes out loud to make us laugh. $18.69
12:30 p.m. — I've had enough of this hangover and I take some Ibuprofen and a very, very long nap.
6 p.m. — Told you it was a long nap. I feel much better and get up to take the dog out. Sunday night is “movie night” at our house. It has been since my husband and I were dating and he would come visit me when I lived at my dad's house. The formula is order/pick-up food + watch something. It doesn't always have to be a movie. Tonight we are both feeling lazy, so my husband makes us a frozen pizza and we eat it on the couch and watch House Hunters International. Our son goes out to see a friend of his at work and doesn't come home until around 9:30.
8 p.m. — We head upstairs for RIB time. I start The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott and it's... okay. I'm not sure if I'll stick with it. I really want to read more historical fiction this year, but I find some of it so bland.
Daily Total: $28.50
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