A Week In Tampa, FL, On A $40,000 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: a Medical Biller who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a rosemary plant.
Occupation: Medical Biller and Coder/Consultant/Administrator
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 35
Location: Tampa, FL
Salary: $40,000 (plus monthly commission of 7-10% of billing collections)
Debt: $70,000 school loans, $10,000 credit card debt from starting own business three years ago
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $1,677 plus 1x/month commission ($200-$600)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $1,157
Student Loans: currently nothing, they've been in deferment for three years
Credit Card: $400
HOA: $105 (includes cable and internet)
Netflix: $12.99
Car Lease: $350
Car Insurance: $141
Health Insurance: paid by my one of my clients
Utilities: $100
ADT: $58
Waste Management: $60 quarterly
Lawn service: $45
Personal Cell/Business Cell: $65 (paid to my parents, I'm on their family plan)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Its Saturday and I haven't been able to sleep in since I got my rescue dog, P., a year and a half ago. He actually makes the mornings better because he climbs on me for a quick snuggle and a kiss. I get up and take him and my 10-month-old dog, B., outside. B. still sleeps in the crate because he is naughty and can't be trusted. I make breakfast for me and feed the dogs. My big plan today is to revamp my backyard!
9 a.m. — I bought six bags of rubber red mulch from Costco last week that I plan to use to create a landscaped area. I edge out the rectangle and clear the weeds and half grass in the area. Last year I landscaped the front yard so I have agave plants growing baby plants. I dig out four baby plants and replant them in the back. They were expensive, so I am happy they grew so well and I don't have to buy more. I realize the plastic edging I have is not going to work back here so I head to Home Depot.

10:30 a.m. — Since it's the season of COVID-19, there is a line outside of Home Depot. I wait 10 minutes to get in and buy my stone edging. I head home, do the edging, and take a break. I then get my pressure washing gear together to pressure wash the back patio. The water makes my nonexistent grass muddy and I turn around to find both of the dogs playing in the mud. I rinse them off and put them in their crates to dry off. At least they had fun. Once I finish washing I decide I should just paint the concrete black so I don't have to do this again. I take a break and check out videos on YouTube for inspiration. Well now the idea is in my head and I want to do it now. I find the paint is at Lowe's so guess who is making another trip? $48.90

1 p.m. — At Lowe's, they don't have a line outside. I go straight in and grab some clearance plants, a pressure washer attachment for large areas, a paint roller, and concrete black paint ($86.44). As I was walking to the car, I notice the vegetables and herb plants are on sale! It's a great deal so I put all the stuff in the car and go back to buy the plants because my seedlings didn't sprout and I want to have a vegetable and herb garden this year. I get two types of cucumbers, two types of tomatoes, three types of peppers, dill, parsley, cilantro, lavender, and rosemary ($43.40). $129.84
2:30 p.m. — I get home and get to painting my concrete patio slab. The first coat looks amazing!!!! I paint the second coat and am exhausted.
4:30 pm — I take a shower, cook and eat dinner, and head to bed on the early side.

Daily Total: $178.74

Day Two

8:15 a.m. — It's Easter and I'm sad because I can't hang out with friends like we usually do. Since I don't have family here, my friends' families have become mine. I take the dogs out and then feed myself and the dogs breakfast. I make a cucumber salad while I'm cooking and pop it in the fridge.
10 a.m. — I sit and watch TV because my body is sore from all the work yesterday. I call my parents for a chat. They are upset because they had to cancel their trip to come visit me this month.

3 p.m. — The sun has gone down a bit so I get up and plant the plants I bought yesterday in pretty farmhouse planters I got from Costco last week.
5 p.m. — I really want burgers tonight so I fire up my charcoal grill, sip on a White Claw (watermelon flavor), and watch the dogs act crazy in the yard. I throw a burger on the grill. Once it's perfectly cooked I put it on a plate (no bun!) with pickles and the cucumber salad I made before. Delicious!

7 p.m. — I head inside, feed the dogs, take a shower, and wash my hair. It is so long, like down to my butt, and I am over it. I can't wait to get a haircut after all this ends. And I can't wait to get my nails done again. They are so ugly right now! I watch Netflix and go to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — I wake up to P. licking my face. My left ankle is throbbing and swollen to twice its size (I rolled it yesterday while gardening but thought it was no big deal). Yay. I do my usual routine and get ready because on Mondays I make my rounds to three of my four doctor clients. At my first stop, my client tells me their patient load has decreased by 50% which means my commission will be lower in the next 30-60 days. They check my ankle for fractures but it looks like a bad sprain. Then I head to my main client, which is a bigger facility. I'm the practice admin on top of my billing work for this client. I do a lot for them and they were a big reason why I could start my own medical billing/consulting business. They also pay for my health insurance.
1 p.m. — I am hungry and order Chipotle so I stop and grab a burrito. Then, I head home. It only takes me forty minutes to get home instead of the usual hour and I'm thrilled. $18.56

5 p.m. — On the way home, I stop and get Chick fil A because I don't feel like cooking and my ankle is killing me. I take the dogs out, we sit in the backyard for a bit and then watch TV until bedtime. $8.55

Daily Total: $27.11

Day Four

7:35 a.m. — Wake up and do the usual routine. I am working from home today. I like working from home because I get to hang out with my crazy dogs. Also before this self-isolation started, I was close to a work burnout. I was working until 9 every night covering the front desk for my client while he looked for a new hire. I swear it is so hard to find a good front desk person and medical assistants. I was running that practice by myself for months on top of my other clients and was getting so exhausted. This slowdown has really helped my anxiety.
1 p.m. — It's lunchtime and I can't be bothered with cooking. I have been working from my bed all morning with a cold compression brace on my ankle. I decide to order pizza. I order a large sausage pizza, mozzarella cheese sticks, and a fried shrimp and chicken platter. This will last me lunch, dinner, and maybe lunch tomorrow. I spend the rest of the afternoon working. $27.78
6 p.m. — Time to stop working. I feed the dogs who have been angels all day today. I let them play outside a bit while I sip on a mango White Claw. I heat up my lunch leftovers in my air fryer and they're so good. I chat with my best friend about life and COVID. She hasn't left her house in weeks. I don't know how she does it. I love my alone time but this is a bit too much.
9 p.m. — I watch TV and head to bed.

Daily Total: $27.78

Day Five

6 a.m. — The alarm goes off and I hit snooze. It is too early but my main client has a clinic today that I run every week. I eventually get up, take the dogs out, and feed everyone eats breakfast. I put on makeup and toss my hair in a ponytail. I don't put too much effort into my appearance since we have to wear masks, eyewear, and gloves today with patients.
12:30 p.m. — Break for lunch. The doctor buys me and the medical assistant lunch from a nearby pizza place and we all get Philly cheesesteaks. After we eat, I put on my protective gear again for the patients in the afternoon. I'm handling the front desk since we don't have anyone right now. I was about to hire somebody to cover, but then COVID happened. Hopefully, I can hire someone for May. I run from the front of the facility to the back where the doctor is all day. At least I get my steps in, lol.
4 p.m. — We are all done for the day and my ankle is killing me. I head to a chiropractor to see if I can get my ankle adjusted. I arrive at the office and as soon as he adjusts it, the throbbing pain stops. I thank him and tell him to bill my insurance. This chiropractor is a friend of one of my clients and tells me I don't have to pay, which is so kind. I am lucky to know people in the healthcare industry. As I drive home, I pick up a Greek salad and gyro pita for dinner. $25.60
6:30 p.m. — The dogs are excited to see me which makes me smile. We all hang out and watch TV for the rest of the night.

Daily Total: $25.60

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and notice my ankle feels a lot better. The swelling has gone down, but it's sore from the adjustment yesterday. I feed the dogs and myself with some eggs and bacon. It is storming outside. I'm supposed to go into the practice again today, but I have a rule against driving on the highways when it is downpouring like this. I have had really bad anxiety since I was in a car accident in 2015. It was raining and I hydroplaned, spun around three times, and hit the guard rail. I damaged my neck and couldn't use my arm normally for six months. I got treatment and eventually, the numbness and tingling subsided, but I now refuse to drive when it's raining like this.
1:30 p.m. — I eat some leftovers and check in with the medical assistant. She is doing great and told me to stay home. I keep working from bed with my ankle up in the cold compression brace. The dogs are being very bad today. Eventually, they both go in time out aka their crates. I swear they act like toddlers sometimes.
6 p.m. — I'm hungry and not in the mood to cook again. I do usually cook, but I just don't want to stand in the kitchen on my ankle right now. I order from Doordash and look for a place with free delivery. I find a burger place and get a Cali burger with fries and a drink. I always have to share my dinner with my dogs. P. will sit there drooling with one paw on my leg while the other one copies and puts his paw on my other leg. They are so damn cute! We basically hang out, watch TV, and go to bed. $17.89
Daily Total: $17.89

Day Seven

7:25 a.m. — P. wakes me up like usual and we start our day. I decide I need to run to Home Depot for more stone edgers to put around the concrete patio to match the other side with the mulch. I measure and head out. I get to Home Depot and wait in line. I convert the measurements and pray I am doing the math correctly here ($56.71). I then head next door to Publix to grab some groceries. I buy oranges, immunity shots, salad, bacon, cheese, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, popcorn, ginger ale, peanut butter, and jelly ($66.12). $122.83
11:20 p.m. — I put the groceries away and work a bit on emails, voicemails, etc. My friend reminds me of our virtual happy hour today at 5:30 and our theme this week is the 80s. We have been doing this since the self-isolation started and picking a different theme each time. I stop working at 4 and start to prepare my makeup. I use the Jeffree Starr and Shane Dawson palette to create a neon pink, yellow, and teal eyeshadow look. It turned out great! I am more of a makeup person than a hair person so my hair goes up in a side pony!.
5:30 p.m. — I have my margarita ready and join the Houseparty app to socialize with friends. It lasts about an hour and a half and is so much fun. I eat some leftovers, take a shower to wash this makeup off, and settle down for the night with my dogs.

Daily Total: $122.83
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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