A Week In Missouri On A $34,500 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a marketing coordinator in Missouri who makes $34,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on a hazelnut latte.
Occupation: Marketing Coordinator/Server
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 26
Location: Missouri
Salary: $29,900 + $4,600 stipend
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $937
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $675
Student Loans: $124 for Sallie Mae (My federal loans are still deferred, since I just finished my master's degree.)
Personal Loan: $272
Car Insurance: $65
AT&T: $156
Wi-Fi: $50
Credit Cards: $500 (I was about $10,000 in credit card debt when I left a bad relationship two years ago, where I financially supported us and am now getting on track to pay everything off. It's slow but steady. I try to pay extra when I can.)
Health Insurance: $224 (pre-tax)
Planet Fitness: $25
Spotify: $10
Hulu/HBO: $22.52
Netflix: $12
Savings: $50 (I'm more focused on paying off my credit card debt than saving right now.)
Yoga Teacher Training: $200 (I'm starting the class in a few months, but am trying to pay as much as I can up front. They are luckily pretty flexible on payment plans.)

Day One

9 a.m. — I wake up super late for the day. I stayed at the apartment of the guy I'm seeing, C. It is very new but also awesome so far. He drives me to pick up my car at the restaurant where we both work. He picked me up after work, and I didn't feel like trying to take my car home last night.
9:45 a.m. — I get home, shower, and get ready for work. I have to go straight to the restaurant after work tonight, so I wear black jeans, a black top, and a cardigan. I throw my hair up into a messy bun, throw on a velvet wrap headband, and run out the door.
2 p.m. — I'm getting hungry. I go to the wrap place around the corner and get a chicken salsa wrap with chips and a small soda. $9.87
5 p.m. — I leave the office and head home because I forgot to bring a change of shoes that are appropriate for the restaurant. Luckily, everything is like a 2-5 minute drive. I clock in for the night. I made hardly any money over the weekend during the opening/lunch shift, so I'm hoping I do tonight. We have two big parties coming in, so I should do well.
10 p.m. — I finally clock out. I should've made at least $120 tonight, but the parties all tipped less than 15%, and one guy didn't leave anything after I busted my ass on them for three hours. I ended up making $89. I'm exhausted and starving, so I get Taco Bell because it's the only thing open after 10. After waiting on people all night, I don't feel like cooking dinner for myself. I go home to watch last night's Big Little Lies and then call it a night. $6.56
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Daily Total: $16.43

Day Two

8 a.m. — I was supposed to wake up way earlier to hit the gym and take my car in for an oil change, but that's not happening. I get up, shower, and get ready for work. I have leftover chicken and veggies that I put in my lunch bag along with sriracha and a Diet Coke.
8:45 a.m. — I get into the office, turn everything on, and start going through emails. I start looking up some InDesign inspiration for this newsletter I'm putting together.
9 a.m. — I drop in next door to get an iced coffee. I've gotten somewhat close with the owner, R. We're around the same age, and she gets my frustrations about work. She tells me about a position someone has open that I may like. It doesn't really have to do with my degree, but if it pays well, I'd be open to it. $2.63
12 p.m. — I heat up the chicken and veggies for lunch. It's not as much food as I thought, but it'll work. I also end up getting frustrated with the micromanagement at work and apply for a few jobs on Indeed on my phone. I've already felt on edge about being here the past two weeks. There was a fuck-up on payroll's side, and they were paying me too much the past three months since I started, so now they are correcting that amount to what I should be paid and additionally docking money each check because I have to pay back what they overpaid. Super chill. I haven't been here long, so I know it won't look great if I leave so quick, but I don't think I can deal with the pay being so little. I knew I was taking a pay cut by taking the job, but I'm already working a second job, adding up to 60-80 hours a week. I don't think I can do much more.
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3:30 p.m. — The chicken and veggies are not cutting it. I think about going over to the coffee shop again for a treat, but I stop myself. I think I have plans to go into the city tonight with C., but I'm not sure because we made the plans when we were day drinking so, like, who knows. But we had made plans to go to dinner and see a movie, and I don't want to overindulge if we're going out.
6 p.m. — C. picks me up and we head into the city to see Midsommar. It's almost an hour's drive to get there. He get the tickets, our popcorn, and drinks.
10 p.m. — Midsommar is not at all what I thought it would be, but I still sort of enjoyed it. We also didn't realize the movie was like three hours long. We go to a little steak place that's just serving appetizers at this point, so we each get a beer and some food. I offer to split the bill with him and he says no, which is really nice.
12:15 a.m. — We get back to town and everything is closed. We go to the bar we work at where you can buy beers to go as long as they leave unopened. We each get two Budweisers and then go to my place to watch Insidious. The beers go onto my tab, which I've already figured into my paycheck, but they're probably about $5 total.
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2:50 a.m. — We go to bed. I'm a sleepy girl at this point. If there wasn't the shock factor of the movies, I would've easily fallen asleep sooner.
Daily Total: $2.63

Day Three

8 a.m. — I quietly get up so I don't wake up C. I shower, brush my teeth, do a minimal makeup routine, and throw on a dress and some sandals.
8:30 a.m. — I take my car to the garage that's behind my apartment building for an oil change. I like this place. It's local, and they are up front about prices. I know enough about cars to get by, but not quite everything, and I feel like the people at this shop are always cool about explaining things. I also prefer to go to auto shops where they hire women. I drop it off for the day, and then C. drives me to my office. I slip into the coffee shop next door to get an iced caramel macchiato because I am tired. $5
12:45 p.m. — I am forcing myself to drink more water. I'm hungry, but I don't want to eat early and then be hungry again when I get home from work. I've forced myself to drink two bottles of water just to make sure I actually am. I go to the wrap place and get their spicy crab wrap with chips and a drink. $10.27
4:40 p.m. — I leave work to get my car. They have my car parked in the street next to my apartment building. After, I try to go out to find this spot where we commissioned a mural to be done for work so I can get some photos, but I get lost in the industrial district, so I give up. I turn around and head to Target to pick up my new bedding that I had delivered to the store instead of my apartment. $46.97
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6 p.m. — I get home and make dinner. I have a bunch of veggies I want to cook up before they go bad, so I sauté some asparagus, mushrooms, and broccoli, and then throw in some whole-wheat rotini. I make a ton, so I have plenty of leftovers.
7 p.m. — I head to the gym for a bit. I do 20 minutes on the elliptical and then 30 minutes on legs. My body feels tired, and I don't go as intensely as I want to. I get 25 PF points for checking in today. I don't know what I'm saving my points up to get, but I'm saving them. When I finish, I stop by the restaurant to pick up my check. My rate as a server has gone up, since I'm not in the “training” stage anymore. I also look through receipts from my tabs. Not as bad as I thought it would be. I know a lot of the bartenders don't add all of the drinks we have to our tabs, especially if we're drinking cheap stuff. My check this time is $91.70. I snapshot deposit it into my account.
8:45 p.m. — I get home, put my new bedding on my bed, wash my face, and watch a few episodes of Veronica Mars before crashing.
Daily Total: $62.24

Day Four

6:55 a.m. — I wake up and feel like I really need to pee. I get up. I can sense a UTI. Yep. I definitely have a UTI. I go ahead and shower and get ready for the day. I put on black jeans and a burgundy tank. It's alarmingly hot this week, and my boss said we could wear shorts, but I don't have any appropriate for work, and I have tattoos on my legs that I don't think she appreciates.
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7:45 a.m. — I go to Walgreens and get something for the UTI pain. I know you should go to a doctor and get an antibiotic, but going to urgent care is extremely expensive, and my insurance isn't that great. I've always treated UTIs on my own, and it's been fine. $18.75
8:10 a.m. — I head to take photos of the mural, and the lighting is perfect. Afterwardm I head back to my apartment to pee. Then I go to Starbucks for a hazelnut latte. $5.60
12:15 p.m. — I go grab a sandwich from the coffee shop. $9.63
2:15 p.m. — I leave work and go home, since we have an event tonight. I take a 30-minute nap before I head to the work banquet.
7:45 p.m. — I finally leave the banquet. I stop by the store and pick up a case of beer. I get a call from my boss at the restaurant. She asks me if I can come in tomorrow during the dinner shift and essentially host and make sure the guys run things smoothly. I say of course. $17.85
9 p.m. — I leave my apartment and head to C.'s place. We go to the bar where we work and have a couple of drinks. I literally don't hang out anywhere else.
12 a.m. — We leave the bar and head back to C.'s place. We watch Big Mouth until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $51.83

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I finally wake up to an alarm. I'm really pushing it today. I drive home and then I text my boss that I'll be a little late. I complain to C. that I had plans to get Starbucks this morning since it's right next to his place but now I won't have time. He says he'll bring me an iced coffee later, but I tell him he absolutely does not have to do that.
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9:15 a.m. — I get into work and it's pretty quiet. My coworkers are in the other office. I upload pictures from the banquet and post them. A few minutes later C. brings me an iced coffee and breakfast sandwich from Starbucks. He even ordered a venti without me asking. I think this guy is here to stay.
11:30 a.m. — The director of one of our sister agencies is leaving after next week so we have a going away lunch for her at a restaurant around the corner. I get a buffalo chicken cobb salad. I'm not that hungry since I just ate the breakfast sandwich, but it's so good. $11
2:45 p.m. — I go next door to the coffee shop. They also have 16 oz. iced coffee for a dollar today and I get a shot of hazelnut with it. The owner asks if I'm working at the restaurant tonight. She wants to come to the show in the connected concert hall, but can't decide. I tell her she should do it because I'll be getting off work then and we can actually hang out outside of our work day. $2
4:45 p.m. — I leave work and go home to take a shower before I have to be at work again. I'm the queen of getting ready fast and it helps that my hair dries quickly, especially in the Midwestern heat. I've mastered my makeup routine so that it only takes me five minutes, if that. Once I get to work, it seems a little busy, but nothing unmanageable. I put in my order for food and just hang out because the guys don't really need me yet.
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9:30 p.m. — Damn. Tonight got insane and I'm honestly pissed I didn't get to clock in as a server tonight because I would've made bank. I get a few tips from bartending here and there throughout the night and then two of the guys that I helped out tip me out. I walk away with $30. R. texts me to see if I'm still at the bar — she's coming in for the concert.
12 a.m. — The show is pretty fun. I'm a little drunk, so C. offers to drive me home since he was bartending the concert. When he drops me off, we make plans to get breakfast before I have to open the bar in the morning.
12:30 a.m. — I drunkenly order a pizza because I am dumb. When it gets here I eat two slices and pass tf out. $20
Daily Total: $33

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. I honestly can't remember if C. and I actually made plans to get breakfast or if I dreamed it. I figure he'll call when he wakes up, so I'll just go back to sleep.
9 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and force myself out of bed. I shower and get ready for work. C. calls while I'm getting ready apologizing for missing his alarm to take me to breakfast. I laugh and tell him it's fine. When he closes he doesn't leave work until 3 a.m. or later so I get it.
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9:45 a.m. — C. picks me up and takes me to work since my car is there. It's not that far from my apartment, but it's a 30 minute walk and it's hot as balls outside. He also has the key so he lets me in.
11 a.m. — I'm training a new server today. She's a high schooler and the cutest thing ever. While I'm opening the doors, C. comes in and brings me breakfast from the place we were supposed to go this morning. I might marry this dude. JK. Kind of. I eat it during the first hour of work while we're super slow and the new girl is rolling silverware.
3 p.m. — Holy shit today was busy. I make $105, which is a lot for a lunch shift. I stay after my shift to have a drink and get some ham and cheese sliders. We always get a free drink after our shift and then 50% off food, which goes onto my tab.
4 p.m. — I go by the mall, which is my least favorite place to be. I have my parents' anniversary dinner tonight and I don't really like anything I own these days. I get two dresses. I also look for a top since I'm going with C. to his family's place tomorrow and I'm not sure what I have clean. I clearly need to do laundry. $40.33
5 p.m. — I get back to my apartment and shower. I take my time doing my makeup and then attempt to dry my hair a little. My parents get to my place and I help them bring up the dresser they got me. My mom found it for $10. It's mid-century and a dark brown wood — I love older, vintage furniture. The dresser comes with a mirror, but I don't want it on the dresser so I leave it off and decide to turn it into a DIY project for later.
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6:25 p.m. — We head to a restaurant where we meet my aunt and uncle for dinner. It's good food and none of us had ever been to this place before. After dinner we head to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. I'm not a huge fan of sweets, but I get a scoop of cookies n' cream. My parents pay for everything.
8 p.m. — We stop by Target so I can get toilet paper and some skinny belts for one of the dresses I bought today. $20.75
9 p.m. — My parents drop me off at my apartment and I do laundry, add clothes to my new dresser, and binge watch Queer Eye. It feels so nice to have a night of nothing.
12:30 a.m. — I text C. one last time before falling asleep. He's bartending tonight and I guess it's chaotic over there.
Daily Total: $61.08

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up and go downstairs to make coffee. I lounge around and watch more Queer Eye. I also heat up leftover pizza for breakfast.
10:30 a.m. — I do a short yoga sequence to feel like I did something today. Afterwards I shower and throw on some jeans and a tee. C. texts me to let me know what the plan is for the day.
11 a.m. — I run to Target again to get new sunglasses and look for a cute top. I get a light pink tank and some black and white sunglasses. $34.08
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12 p.m. — I get home and do my makeup before sitting back down to watch more Queer Eye. C. picks me up and we stop by Starbucks before heading to his family's place. I get a grande iced coffee. He treats.
7:30 p.m. — We leave his family's and head back since it's about to start storming. We decide to head to the bar when we get back. There's a usual Sunday crowd that goes to the bar and it's always fun.
8:30 p.m. — No one from the usual crowd is at the bar so we head to a different one. Our friend is leaving as we're going in. We stay for a beer and C. pays even though I try to before he can.
9 p.m. — We go back to our bar and hang out with everybody. The group that's there just shares pitchers of Michelob Ultra. It's all men minus me and they all take turns covering a pitcher. I don't think any of them go onto either of our tabs.
12:30 a.m. — I am feeling it by the end of the night. C. and I go back to his place so I can go to sleep since I have work in the morning. I set three alarms to make sure I'll get up. C. and I have had a really good day and night together so I go to bed happy.
Daily Total: $34.08
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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