A Week In Asheville, NC, 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 millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a dog trainer who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Cards Against Humanity.
Occupation: Dog Trainer
Industry: Animal Welfare
Age: 24
Location: Asheville, NC
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,181
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 split with boyfriend, R. (My share is $550.)
Electric: $90
Water: $10
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I finished college debt-free thanks to my parents, my small income, and financial aid.)
Health & Vision Insurance: $18
Phone: $30
Car Payment: I bought my parents' old car and paid it off a couple years ago.
Car Insurance: I'm on my parents' plan — they were really nice about offering until I turn 25 and can get a better rate.
Retirement: Nothing yet — this is my first time having a job that offers benefits, so I'm looking into it as open enrollment comes around.
Internet: $50 (split with my boyfriend)
Netflix: $12
Spotify Premium: $10
Hulu & HBONow: $0 (R. pays.)
YMCA Membership: $32
Dog's Medication: $6
Savings: I put at least $500 in my savings account each month.

Day One

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I've been awake off and on since my boyfriend, R., woke up at 6:15 a.m. He does this three times a week, and I can usually go back to sleep, but I've been having weird dreams all morning. I get up, take the dog out, feed her, my cat, and my bunny their breakfasts, and start my morning routine. Ever since I started working with dogs, my routine has become much simpler, which I LOVE. I wash my face, put on a Neutrogena moisturizer with SPF, brush my teeth, and finger-comb my hair into place. I drop one of my contacts as I try to put it in and cannot find it anywhere!! I give up and open a new package; I wear the monthly kind, so it hurts to lose one halfway through the month, but oh well.
8:45 a.m. — For breakfast I make a smoothie with Kefir and frozen fruit and run out the door to get to CVS before work. My birth control prescription expired, and I've had to jump through so many hoops to get it refilled, and today is finally the day I can pick it up. After, I stop by a coffee shop to get a bagel and coffee. I've been trying to be better about not spending money on things I can make at home, so I gave myself a $20 cash allowance for "shenanigans" — which I use to pay for this. $5.65
1 p.m. — I didn't have the energy to cook anything for today's lunch last night, so I brought an apple and some pumpkin pie I made to pair up with whatever I find at Publix. After looking at the frozen meal selection, I end up going to the hot bar and get popcorn chicken — not the healthiest, but it hits the spot. Back at work I join a coworker at the picnic table outside since it has been such a nice day. The director of our department comes out to tells us some good news about an addition to the program, and we all rejoice and comment on how happy the dogs will be! $3.30
5:37 p.m. — I leave work and get home with just enough energy to take my dog out to play. Then I shower and make a lazy lunch for tomorrow — spaghetti with vegetarian meat. I'm not a vegetarian anymore, but I still don't like the taste of ground beef, so I always keep this handy. Once I clean up the kitchen, I make a snack of chips and lime juice (odd, but don't knock it ‘til you try it!) and catch up on How to Get Away with Murder. The episode is wild as usual, and I love every minute of it.
10:30 p.m. — R. gets home, and we get ready for the night. My nighttime routine is just as simple as the morning: wash my face, put on CeraVe moisturizer, and brush my teeth. I had really bad acne as a teenager, but was able to get it under control with a) birth control, b) a cream that melted off my skin until it was nice again, and c) the most basic moisturizers. After scrolling through Instagram, we turn the lights off and go to bed.
Daily Total: $8.95

Day Two

8:15 a.m. — I get up before my alarm, but instead of doing something productive, I walk around the house after R. leaves for work, sipping on my smoothie. We're going to see Avenue Q tonight at the community theater, and it's all I've been looking forward to! I pack snacks for the day (pretzels, granola bar, candy) and make coffee on the Keurig, but something's wrong with it and I don't have enough time to use something else, so I run out to get an energy drink at the gas station. I've cut back on these to maybe one every couple weeks, but today it's much needed. $2.38
1 p.m. — On Saturdays I go home during my lunch break to let out my dog. Luckily, I only live 10 minutes away, so I eat my lunch at home, too. I heat up my spaghetti while I play fetch with her in hopes of making up for leaving her alone all night while we see the play. I also wash grapes and take them with me back to work.
5:55 p.m. — I rush home five minutes early and quickly feed everyone, change, and head out to meet R. at a grocery store near downtown Asheville. Finding parking during tourist season is nuts, so I leave my car there and we take his. I'm hungry but we don't have time to get dinner, so I eat a Kind granola bar I packed just in case. We find parking and walk to the theater, which is packed! I've never seen Avenue Q, but for some reason my best friend and I knew most of the songs by heart in middle school and sang them all the time. $5
10:30 p.m. — The musical was everything I hoped it'd be and more. R. is gonna have to deal with me singing the songs from it for about another week or so. We go to the grocery store to see if there are any snacks we want and see a couple homeless guys with a sweet pit bull sitting by the carts. This may be an unpopular opinion, but even though I feel bad for homeless people, I always feel worse for the animals they have with them. I can't stop thinking about it, so we get a bag of dog food, bottles of water, and a protein bar and give it to them on the way out. So much for late-night snacks. We head home and I give my cat extra cuddles before falling asleep. $8.78
Daily Total: $16.16

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — It's my day off, so we lounge in bed for about an hour. R. gets up so he can get ready for work, and I end up falling back asleep until 11:30 a.m.! I still have a headache, so I get up, make oatmeal, cut up an apple, grab a Tylenol and water, and settle into the couch. I'm a huge TV person, so I catch up on a few shows and make plans with my friend I haven't seen in over a month, which is rare for us, since we usually get together once a week.
4 p.m. — Plans end up getting rescheduled for tomorrow, but I don't mind having the whole day to be lazy around the house! I don't have much to eat at home so I go to Moe's and get a burrito with a side of queso. $10.70
4:25 p.m. — I also stop by CVS because I just ran out of nose pore strips and have a $4 off coupon that expires soon. It ends up only costing me $3.22! $3.22
5:45 p.m. — After eating, I get a new series recommended on Netflix — Christiane Amanpour: Sex & Love Around the World — and I nearly binge-watch the whole thing. It is so interesting!!! R. gets home at 8 p.m., and I promised I'd watch Hocus Pocus with him since I've never seen it. I grew up in South America, so certain trends such as this movie that everyone seems to love didn't quite make it to my home as a kid. We call it a night around 10 p.m. and go to bed.
Daily Total: $13.92

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I snooze my alarm for another 20 minutes and then force myself to get up so I can eat before I go to the Y. I mainly joined for their TRX classes, which is what I'm taking this morning. I get the young adult discount at $32/month, which is very cheap compared to the usual rate. I feed my pets, make a quick Kefir and frozen berries smoothie with chia seeds, and grab a glass of water to chug while I get ready.
11 a.m. — Class was great but I nearly passed out, so I make a mental note to go to the later class next week so I have time to eat a full breakfast beforehand. I've noticed big differences in my strength ever since I started doing TRX so now I'm hooked — I figure this is the youngest I'll ever be, so might as well maintain my health and shape now!
11:15 a.m. — I pick up R. from home so we can go grocery shopping, I ask him to bring me a cup of coffee to pair with my handy granola bar I left in my car. Ever since we started going to Aldi, we have not looked back — it is SO CHEAP! Unfortunately, the produce section is not always on point and there's no kale or good apples today, so I'll get produce at another store later. We get salad stuff, sandwich stuff, eggs, almond milk, bagels, cream cheese, frozen fruits for smoothies, and more. There's a bunch of extra stuff we splurge on this week, so it ends up costing a little extra today. But we always split it, so it's not too terrible. Once we get home, R. goes to work and I make cinnamon rolls I forgot were in the fridge. Then I shower and settle in to watch more of the Christiane Amanpour series I started yesterday. $41.20
4 p.m. — I made plans to meet up with my friend at 7 p.m. and will probably get food at the restaurant, but need something to hold me over for now. I make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with grapes on the side. I start getting ready around 5 p.m. and feed the pets before I leave.
5:40 p.m. — Early voting is still going on, so I swing by the library and get that done, then head over to Target for eye drops since the air is getting drier at my house. As per usual, I browse around and get dog treats, Cards Against Humanity (only $6!!), a new water filter, and a Whitney Houston t-shirt because why not — plus it's on sale! $45
7:10 p.m. — I'm a little late, but we get seated as soon as I arrive at the restaurant. It's good to catch up with my friend — we usually do this once a week, but work and travel have made the past month go by so fast. This place has half-off margaritas on Mondays so I get two, plus we a bowl of guac to share. The waiter is a little weird and keeps referring to us as “girls,” which makes me cringe every time... $17
9:30 p.m. — I get home, let the dog out to pee, and get ready for bed. I actually put on concealer and did my eyebrows today, so after washing my face I use Thayers Witch Hazel Rose Toner and call it a night.
Daily Total: $103.20

Day Five

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off, so I head to the bathroom and start getting ready for work. I have a uniform, but the bottoms are flexible. I usually stick to the tactical pants they recommend we wear, and I love them — they're so practical and full of pockets! I'm not feeling creative, so I just make a smoothie with Greek yogurt and frozen fruit and chia seeds and then head to work.
1 p.m. — It's lunchtime, and I drive home because R. insisted on making ratatouille and wants me to try it. I don't even remember what it looks like from the Pixar movie, but I give it a try. It's okay but not filling, so I make nachos with leftover tortilla chips, fresh pico de gallo, and queso from Moe's. We have a system to keep track of how many times each person walks our dog, so I trade him a quick walk now so he'll take her for a long walk later. I spend most of my days at work being active with the dogs in the program, so I'm usually tired of walking by the time I get home. I rush out and make it back to work just in time.
5:50 p.m. — I had to stay at work a little late to discuss a dog that hasn't been doing well, which is a huge bummer since I've grown to really like the little guy. I'm not in the best mood after that, so I get in my comfy clothes as soon as I get home and clean up the kitchen a bit. I'm not feeling super motivated to cook, so I make a little Rip ‘n Dip pizza thing I got at Aldi as an emergency meal and grab a small bowl of carrots to add some health to it. I watch TV and Youtube videos in between checking my phone and cuddling my cat.
10:05 p.m. — I let the dog out to pee and do my night routine. R. gets home, and we chat about our days as we settle in for the night.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I had a rough night and didn't sleep too well, plus all our lights came on around 5 a.m. when the power went off and on. I manage to get out of bed and get ready for work. I have extra time this morning since we got out of work later than usual yesterday, so I make scrambled eggs and two homemade waffles.
9:40 a.m. — Since I didn't make anything for lunch last night, I make time to go by the grocery store and pick up a frozen meal ($5.10), plus they have a Starbucks, and I would like a pick-me-up today. I get a small cold brew with sweet cream foam. I haven't had cold brew in a few years since it fucked up my stomach last time. but I'm feeling brave today ($4.35). $9.45
1 p.m. — It's lunchtime, so I head over to the kitchen and heat up my Amy's ravioli. I brought some grapes from home, which I eat as I tell my coworker about the dog we're working with. He didn't do so well today, so we're really worried about him. I love working with dogs with behavior issues and wouldn't want to do anything else, but every once in a while the hard times get extra bad and it feels like a cloud of gloom follows me around. Compassion fatigue is real this week. Thankfully I work with people who really care about each other's well-being, as well as the dogs'.
5:35 p.m. — I thought about working out today, but I'm starving, so I head home, walk the dog, and stare at the fridge for inspiration. I bought tostada shells at Aldi but forgot to get beans and avocado, so I end up making pretty basic but tasty ones with cheese, pico de gallo, lime juice, and salt. I feed the pets, make a bowl of oatmeal, and take carrots with me to the living room to watch some TV.
8:25 p.m. — Still hungry, but there's nothing I'm craving too much, so I just get a bowl of Greek yogurt with Froot Loops. It's been a night of odd dinner foods, but I mainly just care about getting enough protein and fresh fruits and veggies, so overall it's not too terrible.
9:20 p.m. — I start getting ready for bed since I'm so tired from today. I listen to the latest Two Less Lonely Girls podcast episode while I scoop litter and clean up the house, then go to bed once R. gets home an hour later.
Daily Total: $9.45

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Alarm goes off but I snooze for an extra five minutes. I finally open my eyes and but lie in bed until 8:20. The house is at optimal in-bed cuddle temperature, and my cat refuses to get off my chest! I get dressed, do my morning routine, and make a yogurt and frozen fruit smoothie. Once I'm fully dressed, I toast a bagel, add cream cheese, fill my to-go cup with coffee, and head out to work.
1 p.m. — Since I didn't make anything for lunch, I go to Publix on my break and get sushi and grapes. Back at work, I join coworkers in the lunchroom and grab an apple I remembered I brought from home. Somehow we get on the topic of infanticide among animal species. I greatly appreciate having people to nerd out with. $9.98
5:40 p.m. — I signed up to do yoga after work a few weeks ago and make myself stay, even though I'm feeling emotionally and physically beat. We're so lucky to have a yoga instructor come to our workplace and give classes! It's donation-based, so I give $3. It ends up being just four of us, but the stretch was much needed. I go straight home afterwards and take my dog out, then quickly feed everyone so I can jump in the shower. Now that the weather's cold again, I can retrain my hair to go more days without washing it. So far it's been three days. $3
6:30 p.m. — Once I'm clean and dressed, I make the other half of the Rip ‘n Dip pizza from earlier this week, grab a cider, and hang out in the living room. I started watching Wanderlust last night and I'm hooked. Toni Collette is amazing at everything she does.
9:45 p.m. — I get a call from R. saying his car died and needs me to rescue him. Luckily he's only five minutes away, so I can go in my PJs. We jump his battery and go home to get ready for bed and call it a night.
Daily Total: $12.98
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