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A Week In Orlando, FL, On A $63,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Aerie.
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 product marketing specialist who makes $63,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an Aerie bathing suit.
Occupation: Product Marketing Specialist
Industry: Technology
Age: 27
Location: Orlando, FL
Salary: $63,000 (up to $90,000 with quarterly bonuses).
Net Worth: $108,000 (~$82,000 in home equity, $3,000 in savings, $7,000 equity in my car, $16,000 in retirement).
Debt: $216,000 ($202,000 on my mortgage, $14,000 on my car).
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,806.36
Pronouns: She/her/ella

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,292.56
Car: $350
Cell Phone: $56
Internet: $0 (supposed to be $25 but for some reason I'm still getting a COVID credit).
Utilities: my dad pays.
Electricity: my dad pays.
401(k): $145.39 per paycheck.
Roth IRA: $100
Health Insurance: $10.59
Dental Insurance: $92.70
Vision Insurance: $2.61
Gym: $89
Spotify: $10
NYT: $5
The Financial Diet: $5
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. My grandmother emphasized and taught us the importance of a woman getting an education and being self-sustaining from a very young age. She never had the opportunity to go to college but my mom and her sisters all attended. My sisters and I all went to school debt-free because of qualifying for the Pell Grant and other assistance grants. I am also studying to get an MBA, which will be covered by grants.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was always something my parents showed us the value of — my dad worked multiple jobs to support us and my mom worked at the library. We definitely grew up with an advanced understanding of the value of it, especially once we got old enough to work (and all of us rushed to do so). My mom stressed we didn't have to work but to have spending money we needed it. We never went without basic necessities but I didn't learn anything about retirement or true financial literacy until a few years ago.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at 17 at a local chain restaurant. I got it because I wanted spending money and to buy myself a car.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Of course. My parents were very working class but did their best to give us a good life including trips to visit family or go to Disney. I found out a couple of years ago that my parents would do timeshare presentations and deep discounting to take us on vacations and to the parks, which I'm grateful for. I had a really happy childhood because of their efforts. Once they divorced during the 2008 recession, finances became a real source of stress for my mom so I became more aware then.
Do you worry about money now?
Not really. I know I can produce the money needed to enjoy my life since I work really hard and budget. I worry more about my mom's retirement than my own finances.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 24 when I bought my house but I still get help from my dad and mom towards expenses. My safety net is 100% my parents.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My dad pays some small monthly bills for me and my mom helps me sometimes with expenses for my house. I don't know if that counts but I do get small financial support from them now just because they want to.

Day One

7:45 a.m. — After tossing and turning all night, I wake up 15 minutes before my alarm goes off. I let the dog out, get dressed in some workout clothes and make some oatmeal with vanilla extract and cinnamon, topping it off with brown sugar, frozen raspberries and frozen blueberries. I grab a pomegranate Izze, take my meds, let the dog back in and sit at my desk at 8 on the dot to begin looking through my emails.
9:20 a.m. — Feeling restless so I decide to walk on my walking pad until my 10 a.m. one-on-one with my boss. Look up classes at the health club my friend gave me a 10-day pass for and see there's a 5:30 cycling class I can do or a 6:30 yoga class. I will decide later.
2 p.m. — I message my best guy friend and he offers to keep me company since I'm still ruminating on my recent breakup a lot. My ex and I were together for a little over a year and he broke up with me because of cultural differences. It totally blindsided me given how normal he was acting, so I've been struggling. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends who are supporting me through it all, including this one. He comes over and studies for a little. I make some broccoli and falafel while drinking another Izze. We talk until he leaves at 4 so I can attend therapy via telehealth.
5 p.m. — Done with therapy. We talked through the angry breakup texts I sent a few days ago, which effectively burned the bridge between my ex and me. I originally tried to be mature and agreed to be friends after no contact for a while but I blew up at him and he ended up deleting me. I talked through this with my therapist since there's a possibility I will see him at a mutual friend's birthday next week. My card is charged for therapy. $25
5:15 p.m. — I dash out the door to make it to cycling and it is raining. Hard. Text my friend that I will be very late and make it there around 5:50. My friend calls about 30 minutes later that she won't make it due to feeling sick and she fell asleep. Decide to attend a 6:30 yoga class instead. I'm new to this gym but love all of the activities.
7:45 p.m. — I leave the gym. I see my ex's car that his best friend is driving. Triggering but I will recover. It is still raining.
8 p.m. — Get ready for bed and take some Robitussin since my throat hurts and I have a cough all of a sudden. Someone on Bumble BFF asks if I want to get lunch. I agree but I'm not sure if we will since the conversation seemed kinda meh/I don't want to get murdered.
10 p.m. — Close my blackout curtains, tell the dog we are sleeping and promptly pass out while messaging some friends.
Daily Total: $25

Day Two

3:40 a.m. — Wake up to my throat feeling on fire. Put on some Vicks and force myself to go back to sleep.
7:47 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm. Respond to some messages, brush my teeth and take some daytime Theraflu.
9:30 a.m. — Decide if I'm going to be sick, I shouldn't be hungry, so I order Chick-fil-A for pickup. Ordering through the app for drive-thru pickup gets me 50 extra points. I order a breakfast burrito, hash browns and orange juice and go pick it up. $9.79
1 p.m. — My throat still hurts so I make a small pot of green tea with honey and drink it until my throat feels better. This guy wrote me on LinkedIn to be featured on his podcast and we're meeting tomorrow so I want to feel better before then. End up in meetings for the rest of the day.
4 p.m. — Work ends. Somewhat productive day, I guess? I work for a little longer then change into gym clothes. I text my friend and she invites me to do a cycling class with her at 5:30. She lets me know she's running late and I decide to wait. I listen to my mom rant about her job on the phone until my friend comes. I order a smoothie from the smoothie bar. $7.38
6:30 p.m. — We do a class that's a blend of yoga and Pilates then use the sauna and jacuzzi after. I get overheated so I rest for a bit then shower, say bye to my friend and head home.
9 p.m. — Get home, eat some leftover pizza, continue talking to my friend I just saw and take some Robitussin after slathering myself in Vicks since I'm still not feeling well. Decide to try to get over the relationship slump and swipe on a few cute dudes on Bumble. I match with one and try to start a conversation. We'll see how it goes. Finally fall asleep around 12.
Daily Total: $17.17

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Beat my alarm again. My dog is biting and scratching a lot on his back and I check to see he has fleas. GREAT. I let him outside and put all his dog beds in the wash. He has a grooming appointment tomorrow so I'll make sure she adds the flea bath to it.
7 a.m. — Stay in bed doomscrolling for an hour, then I brush my teeth and preheat my oven to put in some frozen pan de bono to warm while I sip water out of the wannabe Stanley cup I got from Marshalls. Immediately after the breakup, I stopped eating and just stayed at my family's houses so I think being functional/active/eating are all small achievements.
8 a.m. — Log in, sit down and eat the pan de bono. My coworker informs me I will not be attending a conference this summer, one I really wanted to go to. Okay… I rage-apply to some other roles. My ex's best friend sends the guest list over for his wife's birthday next weekend and this guy I want to network with will be there. Hope is near — even if talking to this guy will majorly piss off my ex. Ha! I am inspired to buy some swimsuits and order some that are half off on Aerie's website. I add on a 20% discount code from Unidays and use the Rakuten extension for 2% cashback on my purchase. I get three bottoms and two tops and use some money that was sitting in my PayPal account to cover some of the cost. $47.58
1:30 p.m. — I spend lunch taking some calls with sales reps. My role is mostly focused on lead generation but I don't think it was implemented very well so I spend a lot of time doing nothing or trying to do things that get rejected. I let my boss know I'm putting feelers out for other opportunities. She's very supportive and an awesome boss in general, which makes me feel awful, but the job isn't satisfying or what I want to do long term.
2 p.m. — Get ready for an interview for an independent news outlet. Think it went well but who knows? It grossly underpays but would allow me to contribute to a news platform I love.
4 p.m. — Decide I'm hungry and run to the grocery store to make dinner and pick up essentials. Let the dog out before I go. Buy some frozen foods for when I'm not in the mood to cook (all Indian, my fave), some veggies, salad, chicken thighs, nuggets, waffles, veggie broth and tzatziki. $75.98
4:45 p.m. — Get back, put groceries away and hurry to finish cooking my meal since I'm being featured on that podcast.
5:30 p.m. — Finish cooking. I made Half Baked Harvest's skillet chicken with orzo and tzatziki — it's phenomenal! I love her recipes, so simple and honestly delicious.
6:10 p.m. — I drive over to do the podcast, picking up my friend on the way who will also be on the podcast. Pray I do not get murdered by podcast guy.
6:35 p.m. — Arrive at the guy's house/office. It's such a legit podcast setup! We get settled and begin recording — we end up talking for almost three hours. I hope he has more than enough content for his platform. I realize talking on the show was actually very cathartic for me so I'm feeling good emotionally.
11:15 p.m. — My friend needs a ride home and lives super far but I'd rather her ride with me than the podcast host, just for safety, so I take her home. We stop by McDonald's since we're both starving and she pays as a thank you.
12:10 a.m. — Get to my friend's house. Say goodbye and head home.
1 a.m. — I am finally home and feeling super sick. My eyes are running, I'm feeling so tired. Look at my schedule and see I have a 9 a.m. product management team meeting so set my alarm for 8:30 and pass out.
Daily Total: $123.56

Day Four

8 a.m. — Turns out I don't need my alarm because I beat it. I still feel really sick but let the dog out and see I made a grooming appointment for him at 9:30. Wtf.
9 a.m. — Log into my meeting and get in the car, drop the dog off and instruct the groomer to cut him as short as possible. Summer months are no joke.
10 a.m. — I stop by Publix to buy some ice cream because I feel sick and sad. Get a BOGOF for Häagen-Dazs and some Oreo ice cream sandwiches and head home to continue working. $13.08
11 a.m. — Okay, I'm too sick to work. Make it through my last meeting and write to my boss that I don't feel well. Take a short nap and wake up at 12 to attend a lunch and learn virtually with a company I really want to work for. Then I get a call my dog is ready.
1 p.m. — Head to get the dog. That nap was good, I feel better but oof. Write my dad to ask if we can go to the dealer later but he tells me he has plans and we should go now. I still don't feel well but it's okay, I really want to look at cars. I get the dog, pay the groomer and go to my dad's house. While I'm there I steal a bunch of vitamin C packets since I ran out and a bottle of water, which I chug on the way to the dealer. $57
3:30 p.m. — We make it to the dealer and my dad ends up convincing me to go for a MUCH higher end model, which is MUCH more expensive. But his reasoning isn't totally bad — buying a performance car is a better long-term investment if I intend on changing cars in a couple of years, plus he'll help me with the down payment. The car I want is $53,000 instead of $46,000 so we decide to shop online to see if a better one comes up for a lower price.
6 p.m. — Make it back to my dad's, get my dog and head home. I'm really feeling sick now so I make some chicken nuggets and decide to lie down. My sister calls — she needs to get things ready for my niece's birthday Saturday and says she will be coming by soon. She has a key and everything so we chat a bit while she's here but I largely stick to lying dying in my room. My sister leaves around 8 and I'm still in bed. Take Robitussin, put on Vicks and continue watching reruns of Gilmore Girls.
1 a.m. — Wake up because apparently I fell asleep. Mess around on my phone for a bit, take allergy medicine just in case and end up messaging a friend who is also up for some reason… I fall back asleep around 2.
Daily Total: $70.08

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up and WOW, I feel better but still congested. I take my meds and log into work to see both my coworker and my boss are off today for the long weekend.
9 a.m. — Make a pot of green tea. Eat a banana and make microwavable mac and cheese. I have an appointment to do my hair, which will take forever because my girl is super slow. But she does an amazing job and gives me a deal since she is my sister's best friend, and she's the only person who has ever colored my hair.
11 a.m. — I swipe on Bumble and text with some friends. I also chug more vitamin C.
2 p.m. — Let the dog out and pack up my bag. Head out for my laser removal appointment for my tattoo (I prepaid this through Groupon last year) and think about my plans — if I go to a pool party next Saturday, I can't have the scar healing or risk infection. I call and reschedule it for the 15th time to two weeks from now. Instead of going there, I head to a mall nearby and get my eyebrows threaded, tipping $5. $19
2:50 p.m. — I have some spare time so I stop by McDonald's and order two cheeseburgers and fries. I have been eating like garbage lately since the breakup but I figure it is better than not eating at all. Agree to meet up with my guy friend later for boba tea whenever I am freed from my hair appointment. $7.13
3 p.m. — Chat a bit, explaining my breakup to my stylist. I work on my laptop while she finishes putting the foils in. She styles someone else's hair while I wait for my hair to lighten.
5 p.m. — Become triggered by my ex's best friend posting a picture with him on his story. I reply to this story and my ex's friend is understandably short. I mute his story to protect my health since I feel myself being toxic.
10:30 p.m. — My hairstylist finishes. She's so slow but is so good at the color and styling. I'm happy with the end result. It comes out to $175, I tip $25. $200
11 p.m. — Get home, admire my hair, do the bedtime routine, stay up way too late watching the last episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which triggers me to journal my feelings), put Vicks on and sleep.
Daily Total: $226.13

Day Six

11 a.m. — Wake up to my mom calling me. I do not feel well but I just lie in bed dying since she says she will make me soup. Today is my niece's birthday and I take some Theraflu to feel better.
2 p.m. — Get to the venue after my mom picks me up. The party is great and mermaid-themed. All the cousins get together and decide we should go to the movies later to see the new Little Mermaid. My cousin buys all the tickets. I offer to pay her back but she says just to get her a drink later and call it even.
9 p.m. — Get to the movies. I pay for my cousin and sister's candy and drinks. The movie is so cute! $30.30
12:30 a.m. — Get home, do a quick routine, go to sleep.
Daily Total: $30.30

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Emerge from sleep. I am an early riser no matter what. It is a curse. Let the dog out and make some breakfast (pita bread and tzatziki with an Izze).
11 a.m. — I go to my gym to discover the Google calendar appointment I added for the class was wrong by an hour and the class is now over. Leave to run some errands.
11:30 a.m. — Get gas. $39.94
12 p.m. — Stop by Marshalls to return something and end up getting three more outfits instead. I am a menace to my credit card but I am in a difficult emotional time and also have extra money sitting in my account since my bonus got paid out for this quarter. $146.94
1 p.m. — Order some food from Cava. I get the Wishbone Kitchen spicy lamb bowl to eat later. $14
1:30 p.m. — Swing by American Eagle to return something and order a top for my new swimsuit. After the return it costs less than a dollar. $0.11
2 p.m. — Meet up with my friend to study/work. He studies for an hour, I eat my bowl, I send off my contract to my new client for her to review, then I convince him to walk around. We walk, talk and he wants wings so we go to Buffalo Wild Wings. I get some wings. $12.96
5 p.m. — Head home. Make plans to go to the gym tomorrow with my friend and chat with some people on Bumble BFF. I'm not quite ready to date (in case you couldn't tell) but I am working on getting a more accessible group of friends so I have more people to hang out with.
6 p.m. — Let the dog out. Go hang out at my mom's for a bit and play with my nieces/talk to my sister.
9 p.m. — Head home. Do the bedtime routine and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $213.95
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