Money Diaries logo

A Week In Bucks County, PA, On $22 An Hour

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 member advisor who makes $22 an hour and spends some of her money this week on Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patches.
Occupation: Member Advisor
Industry: Banking
Age: 30
Location: Bucks County, PA
Salary: ~$45,000 ($22 an hour, plus overtime and incentives)
Net Worth: $106,000 ($15,000 in IRA rollover from previous jobs in the stock market, $16,000 current 401K, $70,000 in high-yield savings and CDs, and $5,000 in emergency savings and checking)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x month): ~$1,400
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,275 (I live alone)
Electric/Cooking Gas: ~$30 (for electric and gas; heat and hot water are included in rent)
Wifi: $0 (haven't gotten it yet)
Cell Phone: $42 (family plan)
Netflix: $8 (my sister pays half)
Spotify: $10.69
Kickboxing: $169 for unlimited classes
Car Insurance: I transfer $50 from each paycheck to a separate savings account for the yearly insurance payment and any shop visits.

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?
Thinking about it now, I should have listened to my gut and done my first year in community college. I jumped the gun once I got into my first school choice because I felt I accomplished something. However, I was overwhelmed with stress in the first semester and didn't do so well. My parents were supportive of what me and my siblings wanted to do for our careers, even when it involved changing majors. I got a bachelor's degree and double majored in Communication Studies and Public Relations. My parents helped out whenever they could between me and my siblings. I worked during my breaks and went to a state school. Right after school, I worked two jobs and threw every extra cent I could towards my student loans.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents would always say “everything adds up” or “we don't have the money." Looking back now, they're right. They clip coupons, only buy stuff on sale, get what we need, and if something new comes out, my dad always tells us never to buy it. What they meant by “having no money'' is they didn't have it in their budget like getting the latest iPod or Hollister clothes back then. My parents are having a comfortable retirement because of their choices and they know when to save and when to treat themselves.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a grocery store when I was a sophomore at high school. When I was waiting for my interview, a customer knocked down a tower of toilet paper and I helped clean it up. I found out later they were impressed by it. My parents would only agree to take me to get a learner's driving permit if I got a job and this was the job. I pet sat and babysat on the side. I also worked at an after-school childcare program for nine years after high school.

Did you worry about money growing up?
It took me a while to understand how money revolves in life. My parents were open with us about if something happened to their jobs. It hit me in high school when the recession hit. My dad was downgraded to part-time and he was the breadwinner of the house. There were times at college I would forget how much I put on my credit card and the bill was not great.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, even though I have savings thanks to living with my parents in my 20s, but with inflation and now living by myself I don't know what is going to happen. I recently got out of a very bad roommate situation and unexpectedly had to pay for a storage unit, a PO box, and a month's rent on the apartment I was no longer living in. I lived with my uncle all summer for free because of it. Now I'm living by myself in a town where I can have a fresh start. I just got a raise from work so that's helping to make up the cost a bit.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Right after college at 22, but I lived with my parents. With the money I made working at a coffee shop and in childcare, there was no way I could make enough to pay for a studio apartment. My parents say that as long as we're working, we can stay with them and give them $300 a month.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My uncle passed away last year and he had a large collection of coins. They were split up among us and I cashed mine in to pay off a credit card bill.
Advertisement

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up on my brother's futon at his apartment still thirsty after my flight from Dublin last night. Not only was the flight delayed several times, but the Phillies won the game to go to the World Series. My brother lives right in the city and wasn't able to move his car, so I took an Uber. Since I don't have a washer or dryer at my place, he lets me use his to wash all my clothes from Ireland. We go up to his apartment's rooftop lounge for a bit to catch up and look at photos from my trip. When we get back, I throw on jeans and a sweater I got in Ireland to get breakfast. We get coffee and bagel sandwiches at a shop with a vinyl record store attached. Got us coffee and bagel sandwiches. I pay this time — we take turns, so he's buying next. After eating breakfast, I organize my suitcase as the laundry is almost done. $18
11 a.m. — All packed, and still my suitcase is heavy as a rock, even after giving my brother a bottle of ale and a pair of thick wool socks. We say our goodbyes and I head down to the train station. I have to take two trains to get to my family friend's place. I tried to power walk to the station, but I missed the regional train because my card was declined right when the train came by my brother's (I put in the wrong zip code — I forgot to change it when I moved) but was able to get the next one ($2.50). When I get to the next station for the train to my family friend's, I have over an hour to kill. I buy my ticket for that train ($6) and double check the time and zone where it's arriving. $8.50
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I'm craving a Philly soft pretzel so I get one with cheese along with a chai lavender latte and an espresso coffee cake that caught my eye at a coffee shop as my lunch. I sit at the station enjoying my lunch while scrolling on my phone and posting photos I took in Dublin to Instagram. $14.15
2 p.m. — On the train (finally) and text my family friend that I'm heading to her place. Because I missed the last train, she isn't able to pick me up at the station due to a doctor's appointment, so Uber it is. $15
4 p.m. — My Uber drops me off at my family friend's place and I go in right away to use the bathroom and chug a large glass of water. They aren't home but said I could use the access codes to get in. I grab the stuff I left at their place for safekeeping and my car keys. I don't have much food at home so I decide to just get the food shopping out of the way. I go to Walmart first to grab basics such as fruits, veggies, frozen items, pasta, and ingredients for a dish I want to try from TikTok. I also grab some Celsius for the week as I'm going to avoid coffee shops for a bit. The total is $91, but I use Ibotta so I get $5.75 back. Next, I go to Giant for a few items Walmart didn't have in stock. I had rewards to redeem so I get a few items for free, plus $2.25 cash back from Ibotta. $106.50
Advertisement
7 p.m. — Home sweet home. I'm able to get the best parking spot in front of my apartment. I unload my food first then my suitcase. Once everything is put away I do a COVID test (negative) and then take a refreshing shower. I don't feel like cooking so I open a can of lentil and chickpea stew I had in the cabinet and toast a slice of bread from the loaf I got for free. I check my emails and scroll on TikTok. I still need to post the rest of the pictures of my trip but I'm too tired. I call my parents to catch up with them.
10 p.m. — I usually put everything from a trip away when I get back but I'm too exhausted. I plan my outfit for tomorrow and prep my bag for work.
Daily Total: $162.15

Day Two

6 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm — probably still used to Irish time. I put in my contacts, do my skin routine, and start getting ready. I put on my Irish sweater along with comfy green work pants. I throw together the leftover lentil stew from last night, an apple, and snacks for lunch. I also have a bag of treats from Ireland for my coworkers.
8 a.m. — I get to work on time and am greeted by my coworkers. They have been keeping track on Facebook and texting about my Ireland travels. My Ireland trip was pushed back for two years because of COVID and everyone was happy I was able to go, as I've dreaming of this trip for a long time. When I get to my office, my manager comes in wanting to see me once I'm settled. I lucked out with no big follow-ups and no important emails while I was gone. I meet my manager in private regarding a few things — best news from the meeting is that the company changed the pay scale, which means I got another raise! Before I left for my trip, I got my raise from my annual review and backpay from it. With another raise, I'll have more flexibility with my budget.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Lunch in my office with the door closed. I take a deep breath before checking the credit card account I used for my trip to Ireland. Grand total: $700! I did buy a $100 sweater from the Aran Islands, but scrolling down all my transactions I see everything add up. Meals were around $20-$30 US each, not to mention distillery tours, drinks, and souvenirs. Next paycheck I'll probably pay it all off to get it over with. I transferred my paycheck from last week to one of my HYS and other credit card bills, and set aside for rent. I keep telling myself I was on vacation and it was worth it.
5 p.m. — The rest of the work day is taking clients in the office and placing a couple of orders for the branch for supplies (company pays). They had a list for me when I got back. I interoffice some candies to my coworkers from other branches. I'm holding off going back to kickboxing. I just want to go straight home.
7 p.m. — I make the crockpot tortellini pasta I saw on TikTok. I change it a bit by adding more veggies and soy ground beef. As it cooks I clean up and organize my apartment, including adding more items to the donation pile I still need to find a place to drop off. I eat some of the tortellini. So delicious and enough for a few meals this week!
9 p.m. — Darn it! Not only are tomorrow's kickboxing classes booked, but the next day's as well. I could do it in the morning before work but feel like that would be too much since getting back. They changed the schedule a while ago and now more people are filling up the after-work classes. I book two back-to-back classes on Thursday after work and am able to get in.
Advertisement
11 p.m. — Scroll around TikTok for a bit and check when the World Series starts for the Phillies and Astros. Plan my outfit for tomorrow and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6 a.m. — Wake up with not only a headache, but a cramp knowing my time of the month is coming. I slap in my contacts and do my skin routine. I change my outfit that I planned the night before into one of my comfy pants and sweater as I notice I'm bloated. Work is busy. I have loan applications and members coming in with issues. We are one of the busiest branches in our region and clients come in like a revolving door.
11 a.m. — Early lunch. My period came while at work. Thank goodness my company provides feminine hygiene products! I have lunch in my office again. As I'm enjoying the tortellini pasta, I scroll the Kohl's website. I have $10 in Kohl's cash expiring this week, plus 20% off. I buy a cardigan and sweater for a good deal for pickup. My coworker from another branch lets me know she got her Irish candy and loved them. Irish whiskey fudge and Kinder Bueno (different from the American one) were the big hits. $35
5 p.m. — Finished work. Today I booked two loans that I will get incentives for. Some regular members come in to ask how my trip was. One of them was an old coworker of mine from daycare and I gave her a piece of Irish fudge.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — Get home and decide to have the tortellini pasta again as I'm not in the mood for cooking. I take a short walk around town as today was a lot and the activity will help with the cramps. Fall is my favorite season and seeing the colorful leaves just feels amazing.

10 p.m. — I've been been talking to this guy for a while and we have been trying to see each other. I decide to text him I'm back. We talk back and forth a bit until midnight. I've never had good luck when it came to dating. With my confidence, COVID-19, and my roommate situation, I haven't talked to or met anyone for a very long time. I call it a night and pick another comfy work outfit.
Daily Total: $35

Day Four

6 a.m. — Wake up feeling like a cold just came. Great. On top of my period, along with just getting over a migraine. I do my usual routine and pop a Motrin. I pull on the outfit I picked out last night and pack up for kickboxing. I chug a Celsius while running around getting ready.
8 a.m. — Arrive to work a little late as I got stuck behind several slow-moving trucks on the road. Our schedule for the next month came out, and my manager made sure we all got a fair share when it comes to working on Saturdays. During downtime I try to call some of my doctors to see if I can get any appointments. I'm able to get a dentist appointment, but only in December.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — Lunch in the office again. We decorate for our Halloween theme this year: sleepover. I realize I never got my onesie, as everyone is doing a Disney theme for their PJs. I hop on Amazon and find a cute Stitch union suit for a good deal ($32) that will come on Saturday, just in time. Upon ordering it I realize that my Subscribe & Save for Aveeno lotion, tampons, and Hero Cosmetics acne patches just posted on my account ($33). I forgot to check on it during my trip, but I do need those items — especially the Hero patches as my acne is popping back. $65
5 p.m. — Kickboxing is not for another hour so I have time to kill. I go to Kohl's to pick up my order, then walk next door to Party City to get decorations for our branch. Nothing much for the sleepover theme, but I get pink candy bowls, banners, and purple table covers. The company is paying for it — we have a budget for decorations.
8 p.m. — Out of shape! I survived the two back-to-back classes. I forgot it was Halloween-themed, but one girl I hope to become friends with gave me a cute pumpkin headband to borrow. They have a kickboxing tank in a rose color that I've had my eye on for a while and only one left in my size, so I grab it. $31.13
9 p.m. — On my way home I stop at Wawa to use my free Celsius coupon that expires today. I pick up hard-boiled eggs to make a quick dinner without cooking. I make avocado toast with the eggs and take a nice shower after.
Advertisement
11 p.m. — Tomorrow we can wear Phillies attire to work with jeans and sneakers. I dig up my Bryce Harper shirt from my drawer and decided to pair it with the cardigan I just got. Text a bit with the guy.
Daily Total: $97.43

Day Five

6 a.m. — I was scheduled to come in to work at 9, but I decide to go in early for extra time to help decorate the branch. I love when we can wear jeans and sneakers to work. Before leaving, I do my morning routine and pack my last tortellini meal with snacks, plus more green tea as I was drinking it all week prior to having a cold.
8 a.m. — I've been wearing a mask as a caution since I came back from another country and now this cold is noticeable at work, but it's not bad — no fever, just a stuffy nose. My coworkers and I put up the decorations I bought. It's slow this morning while we get everything up. I sip on my Celsius as I print the staff names on colored paper to put up on the banners. Every person that comes in is in a great mood because of the Phillies. Why can't everyone be like this all the time?
2 p.m. — Late lunch eating my tortellini again. I decide to make homemade chicken soup when I get home which means I need to go to the store. I go to the app for the grocery store I go to often and their free item this week is a canned drink. I scroll on TikTok and put up another Instagram post about Ireland. I clock back in early so I can complete my September expense report and update October's.
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I get out of work on time. We had someone that didn't read the sign use a broken ATM and get their check jammed. Of course they blamed us and caused a scene. I go to the grocery store to get ingredients for homemade chicken soup. There's a deep discount on meat so I grab some to freeze, plus some items like dish soap, salad dressing, sparkling water, and my favorite free2be cashew butter cups on sale. $52
8 p.m. — With this cold and no plans, I go back to my apartment. My laundry was piling up as I had a pile before my trip. Usually I'll go to my uncle's place to do laundry and save some money, but the laundromat is a short walk away so I decide to go. Their machines are fast and the price isn't bad with the amount I have. I do my load while catching up on Sam and Colby's Hell Week series on YouTube. $5
9 p.m. — Back from the laundromat. I put away my laundry and the rest of my clothes from my trip (finally). I check on the World Series game and decide to make the chicken soup even though it's late. I watch more of Sam and Colby's Hell Week as I make the soup. I make enough for multiple meals and put it in containers to store in the fridge or freeze. Working tomorrow so I prep my outfit and hit the hay. The Phillies win!
Advertisement
Daily Total: $57

Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up to do my skin routine and contacts. The Hero patches are worth every penny, and I'm sadly on my last one. Thank goddess my order is being delivered today. I pack an apple and crackers since we don't get a break on Saturdays. I have a feeling we might order food today. I get to work and already have three cars waiting for us to open up as usual.
12 p.m. — Every Saturday, when one manager works, we end up ordering Chick-fil-A from DoorDash. Sometimes he can expense it depending on if we're short-staffed but today it's on us. I order chicken tortilla soup and medium waffle fries with Polynesian sauce. $11
3 p.m. — Time flew by really quickly today — I looked at the clock at 2:45 and we close at 3 p.m. Luckily we get out on time. My Amazon packages were sent to our family friend's place. I swing by to pick up my Stitch onesie and toiletries along with my Taylor Swift Midnights vinyl that came while I was in Ireland. On my way back to my place I get gas. $32.19
4 p.m. — My cold isn't bad but as I'm running around, I decide to lay low for the rest of the day. I eat a bowl of chicken soup and go on Amazon again to order lights for under my kitchen cabinets, as the lighting in my kitchen at night is not that great. $20.18
Advertisement
7 p.m. — I book my classes for kickboxing for next week and scroll on TikTok way too much! I spin my new Taylor Swift vinyl. I pile on more donations in my box, finish putting everything away from my Ireland trip, and assemble the new vacuum my sister got me as a housewarming gift while catching up on my podcasts. I text the guy about my cold — so much for trying to meet up.
Daily Total: $63.37

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I slept in today which was so worth it! Not only has my cold cleared up but my period is finally over. The weather today is too nice to stay inside. I make homemade hash browns, fried veggies, and eggs to start off. I clean up my apartment for a bit.
12 p.m. — Dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, I hit the town. I absolutely love that I can just walk everywhere. Once I'm fully settled, my friends from work want to have a housewarming party and explore the town together. I stop at a very popular Italian cafe where their outside seating is open. I order my usual cold brew with cinnamon powder and try their homemade pumpkin scone. I forgot their pastries are expensive since they're freshly made, but worth it. $11
1 p.m. — I sit at the cafe for a while, posting pictures of my Ireland trip on social media, texting a few friends and family, and sharing my photos with my group from Ireland to our WhatsApp chat. Old Navy is having a big sale and I have Super cash to use along with a $2 reward. I order new sweatpants since my old ones are worn out, a new top, and decide to try out a bodysuit for the first time in a red-wine color. $42
Advertisement
3 p.m. — I walk around town for a bit. The leaves with the mix of colors and the historical buildings in town are just perfect! I pass a few shops along the way and stop at a small business known for their fresh soap and lotions. I used up most of my hand lotions and lip balm in Ireland so I decide to pick up a new hand cream and lip balm to try ($14). I go to Gap and get running shorts on clearance ($12.97). I get a Thredup shipping slip from them to send some old clothes and receive Gap credit. I walk around town more and resist buying anything else for the rest of the day. $26.97
5 p.m. — I have a bowl of chicken soup along with free2be cups for dinner. I pack clothes to send to Thredup, which is easy since I already have an account with them. I watch the rest of the Sam and Colby Hell Week series and talk to my parents a bit.
9 p.m. — I take a shower and get ready for bed. It's an easy outfit to prepare for tomorrow since I'm wearing my Stitch onesie for Halloween. Work is buying lunch so I don't need to prepare anything for that, either. I update my dry-erase calendar with my goals for next week. This week has been an adjustment back to reality. I write a list of things to do along with new goals to accomplish.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $79.97
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series

Advertisement