A Week In Auburn, AL, On A $49,300 Income

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.
Want even more Money Diaries, plus $$$ advice from a kick-ass, all-female team of financial advisors, and tips on how to save more than $500? Pick up our new book: Money Diaries! Order here!
Today: a communications specialist working in higher education who makes $49,300 per year and spends some of her money this week on shoes for her wedding.
Occupation: Communications/Marketing Specialist
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 25
Location: Auburn, AL
My Salary: $37,300 for my full-time job
Additional Income: $12,000 for my part-time job
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,049.22 ($2,049.22 full time job + $1,000 part time job)
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $780
HOA Fee: $120
Utilities: $140
403(b): $155.42
Teacher's Retirement Pension: $186.50
Health Insurance: $162.34
Flexible Spending: $25
Dental Insurance: $12.60
Vision Insurance: $6.77
Cell Phone: $35
Internet: $65
Insurance: $115 (auto, home, personal property)
Apple Music: $4.99
ICloud: $0.99
Netflix: $0 (I use my parents' account.)
Hulu: $0 (I use my sister's account.)
Annual Expenses
Headspace: $58/year

Day One

6:20 a.m. — I wake up pretty late this morning and have limited time to get ready, but I'm excited because it's Friday! I take the dog out and start getting ready while juggling listening to The Dave Ramsey Show and talking to my fiancé, P., on the phone. Then I head out the door.
7:15 a.m. — I drive to the closest Starbucks and order a venti iced chai latte and a blueberry muffin. I make an iced chai latte at home and bring it to work every morning, but I ran out of milk yesterday, and it's a Friday, so what the heck! $7.52
7:35 a.m. — Make it into work. I eat my muffin and drink my tea while I read my daily email from The Skimm — my typical morning ritual when I get to work.
8 a.m. — My summer intern arrives, and I chat with her about a meeting I had yesterday when she was out of the office. Then we head out to a day-long workshop our department is hosting. It's our third this week and the twelfth one this summer. I'm glad it's the last.
11:30 a.m. — The catered lunch for the workshop arrives, and we set it up before it's time for the workshop participants to eat at noon. We decide to eat our lunch before the floodgates open. I eat Caesar salad, shrimp pasta, and a Rice Krispies treat from Newk's, which catered the lunch.
3:30 p.m. — I'm off work! I leave earlier than normal today, since I got to work at 7:30 and didn't take a normal lunch break. Plus, it's Friday, and I always leave early on Fridays. I get home and check the mail. I have a $100 check as a wedding gift and a new collar for my dog in the mail! I put the new collar on her, take her outside to let her go to the bathroom, and then take pictures of her in her new collar to send to P., my best friend, and my mom. I change out of my work clothes and into comfy clothes.
4 p.m. — I sit down on the couch and turn on Gilmore Girls, which is my favorite show of all time. I've probably watched it all the way through like seven times and recently realized it may be my last time to watch it all the way through in peace, since I'm getting married soon! I sit down with my laptop and start working on freelance projects while I watch. I love my freelance work so much — I wish I could do it full time. But freelance work doesn't have benefits...ahhh, adulting.
4:45 p.m. — I get a notification on my phone that it's time to do a meditation session. Last month I started using the free version of Headspace and loved it. They emailed me a couple weeks later with a 40% off discount for purchasing the annual plan, so I went for it! I meditate for 10 minutes. Then it's back to freelance work.
6:30 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk. I try to walk her every day. Two rounds around my neighborhood takes about 30 minutes and usually does the trick. As we wrap up our walk, we run into my dog's best friend, a German Shorthaired Pointer. We let them play for five minutes before we go inside. Summer humidity in Alabama is no joke.
7:30 p.m. — The dog and I get in the car to head to P.'s house. I grab Chick-fil-A on the way (an 8-count nugget meal with a lemonade with no ice) and eat it in the car. I almost always eat out on Friday nights because I try to not eat out during the week. P. lives about 50 minutes away, and tonight I'm meeting with him and his parents to go over wedding details. Our wedding is about six weeks away, so there's a lot to get ironed out. $8.43
11:30 p.m. — I get home, remove my makeup, put on pajamas, and hop into bed. I put on a mediation from the Headspace Sleep pack and knock out.
Daily Total: $15.95

Day Two

8:10 a.m. — I wake up and then lay in bed looking at my phone for about 30 minutes. Then I take the dog out and then do freelance work in bed.
9:40 a.m. — I finally get out of bed, take a shower, and do two face masks and a nose strip. Then I make my bed and head downstairs.
11 a.m. — I order from Panera on the Panera app and have it delivered to my house. They charge a delivery fee, and I tip the driver. I eat my lunch while watching Gilmore Girls and settle in to do more freelance work. I have a busy week coming up and probably won't have much time to get in many freelance hours during the week. $16.39
3:30 p.m. — I finally close my laptop and head to the mall to shop for items I need for upcoming wedding-related events. I spend about an hour and a half in Dillard's and come out with a Spanx thong, a white dress (which I'll wear for either my bachelorette weekend or bridal shower) and a pair of AMAZING shoes I've decided are perfect for my American wedding dress. The best part is that they're on sale for $35! I can't believe my luck. $153.80
5 p.m. — I return home, let the dog out, get sucked into doing freelance work again for about an hour, and then head upstairs to try on my wedding dress with the new shoes. I'm SO happy with how my American wedding dress outfit is coming together! I snap a few pictures to send my mom and best friend. I call my mom to catch up on wedding details, and then I lounge around the house and watch more Gilmore Girls.
8:15 p.m. — I realize I haven't eaten dinner yet, so I venture out to grab a salad from Zoe's Kitchen and two cookies (one for me and one for P.) from a local cookie shop. I eat my dinner and chat with P. on the phone. Then I eat my cookie and watch Gilmore Girls for the rest of the night. $15.44
Daily Total: $185.63

Day Three

8:10 a.m. — I wake up to a phone call from P. We chat for about 30 minutes, and then I peel myself out of bed, take the dog out, make my bed, and hop in the shower. I get dressed for the day and then do some chores around the house: vacuum, unload the dishwasher, throw out the trash, and get a few things together for errands.
11:30 a.m. — I take off and drop the trash at the dumpster and mail in the outgoing mailbox in my neighborhood. Then I head to the mall again. I have two dresses that I bought online that didn't work out, so I'm going to return them. I hit up Belk first and then Dillard's, and I get $204.70 back in total for my returns. Then I head to the grocery store — my least favorite adult chore.
12 p.m. — My grocery trip is quick today because I have a busy week ahead with some days out of town and won't need as much food as I normally do. I get apples, nectarines, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, carrots, green onion, avocado, frozen shrimp, and small milk boxes I think my fiancé might like to try, brown rice, granola, cheese, fruit juice, Coke, milk, yogurt, toilet paper, detergent pods, mascara, toothpaste, and mouthwash. $104.28
12:45 p.m. — I put the groceries away, sit down on the couch, and watch Gilmore Girls until P. calls and says he's on his way! I hurry upstairs to do my hair and makeup and finish in just enough time!
1:30 p.m. — P. and I hang out on the couch and watch Hulu for a couple hours, pausing for snacks.
6:15 p.m. — We venture out for pizza and bring the dog with us! I order a pizza for me and a pizza for him while he waits on the patio with the dog. P. pays.
7:15 p.m. — We wrap up dinner, and I decide I want a popsicle while we walk to the car. The line is long, but the wait is worth it. I order a passion fruit popsicle for myself. P. doesn't want anything and waits outside with the dog, who garners serious attention from everyone around. She loves it. We get home and P. and I hang out for a little while longer and chat about saving for retirement and some traveling we want to do after we get married. These types of chats are always fun. Then P. leaves (sad face) and I continue to hang out on the couch with the dog. $3.80
9:30 p.m. — I finally head upstairs to get ready for bed. I put on my meditation and fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $108.08

Day Four

5:35 a.m. — It's Monday morning, so I drag myself out of bed. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put my contacts in. Then I make my bed, take the dog out, and do my makeup and hair while listening to The Dave Ramsey podcast. P. calls me on his drive to work, which he does every day, since his schedule is an hour ahead of mine. We chat for about 10 minutes until he gets to work. I continue getting ready and then head downstairs.
7:10 a.m. — I pack my lunch for the day: leftover pizza from last night, grapes, and a Coke. I also bring an apple for breakfast and a nectarine for a snack and make my homemade chai latte. Then I'm out the door.
7:40 a.m. — Typical morning routine, apple, chai latte, read The Skimm. I have a website meeting with my summer intern and direct report, which goes well and wraps up early. Then I have my weekly one-on-one meeting with my boss. It also goes well — business as usual. I respond to emails and tackle a couple small tasks until lunchtime.
11:35 a.m. — Lunchtime. I eat with one of my coworkers who I almost always eat lunch with. Then it's back to my desk, and I finally deposit a wedding gift check I got in the mail the other day, which I use to buy something off my registry! A stainless steel nesting bowl and measuring spoon set from Joseph Joseph.
1:30 p.m. — I take a phone call from my wedding cake company, and we iron out a few details. My mom is coming to visit me tomorrow, so I make us a dinner reservation at a cute new restaurant called Lucy's that recently opened in my town. Work work work work work work.
4 p.m. — Leave work! I get home and have two boxes waiting for me at the front door: Away carry-on suitcases for our upcoming honeymoon (pink for me and black for P.). I let the dog out and then make myself a yogurt parfait before sitting down to watch more Gilmore Girls.
6:30 p.m. — The dog is getting restless, so I decide it's cool enough to take her on a walk. We do our typical 30 minutes and then head inside.
7 p.m. — I make a shrimp quesadilla with sliced strawberries on the side for dinner, plus an extra quesadilla for lunch tomorrow. My dog can sense that her dog BFF is outside (I don't know how she can sense these things!) so I open the door and sure enough, he's out there. I take her to play for about 45 minutes.
10:15 p.m. — After showering, I get in bed, put on my meditation app, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — Roll out of bed a little late today for my typical routine. I head to work for two meetings this morning.
11:30 a.m. — It's finally lunchtime! I eat with my coworker. Shrimp quesadilla and strawberries, just like last night. Then I juggle some tasks and some freelance work for the rest of the workday.
4 p.m. — Time to head home! I get home, let the dog out, change, pick up around the house and wait until my mom arrives!
5:15 p.m. — Mom is here! Getting to hang out with your mom as an adult is so much fun. We bring her stuff in, she greets her grandpup, and then we get ready to leave for our dinner reservation. I order a burger and she orders a black bean burger. The food is amazing. Mom pays.
7:30 p.m. — We hang out for the rest of the evening and catch up. Around 10:30, we decide it's time to head upstairs, but first we discuss our day tomorrow. We're heading to Atlanta to meet with my wedding decorator to decide on the decor. My fiancé is Indian, and we're having an Indian wedding, so the decor is much more involved than an American wedding.
10:45 p.m. — I get in bed, put on my meditation app, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

9 a.m. — Mom and I are up and ready. We wash a few apples to bring with us on our trip, since we know we'll be having a late lunch.
9:30 a.m. — We get on the road to Atlanta, which is about two hours away. I arranged for my pet sitter to take care of the dog for the day while we're gone, and I send her $25 on Cash App. $25
12:30 p.m. — We arrive to Atlanta at 12:30 p.m. local time, and our decorations appointment is at 12:45. We meet up with P.'s parents.
2:45 p.m. — We're finally done! Two straight hours of making decisions is not fun. We say goodbye to P.'s parents and head to Chick-fil-A for a quick lunch. I order the 8-count nugget meal with a lemonade and mom orders a salad with the special Georgia peach tea lemonade. It's delicious! I pay for lunch. $17.03
3:45 p.m. — We head to a nearby Indian mall to purchase outfits (Punjabi suits) for the pre-wedding festivities that will happen before my wedding (haldi and jaggo). Mom buys herself a simple outfit and shoes. I buy myself a not-so-simple outfit, but I'm super happy with it! $169.60
5 p.m. — We head to a mall in Atlanta to continue shopping. Mom is looking for an outfit for my wedding reception, but doesn't have any luck. We go to Sephora, and I return a Supergoop sunscreen that made me break out, plus I buy Dior Backstage Foundation, the new Beautyblender Sapphire, and a Lancôme lip gloss for my wedding day. Between the Supergoop return and a Sephora gift card P. gave me for my birthday last week, I don't pay anything for my Sephora purchases and still have money on the gift card! Then we head to Dillard's and I find the gold version of the shoes I bought this past weekend, which I buy because they'll look good with my Indian wedding dresses. If I find something that I love and that works for me, I buy it in multiple colors. Does anyone else do that?! $37.04
6:30 p.m. — We stop at the food court for a quick dinner. Mom gives me $20 to pay for my dinner (so sweet!), and I head over to the Panera Bread counter. I have a lot of rewards there because I order food for work a lot, so I use a $1 off a beverage and a $10 off my entire order. The total comes to $2.28 and I just pay for it myself and return the $20 to my mom. $2.28
7:30 p.m. — We finish dinner and leave the mall to head back home. It's going to be a long drive! We stop in Newnan, GA, to get gas and snacks. (Mom buys snacks. I buy gas.) We get back home at 8:30 p.m. local time — the time zone change finally did something good for us! We're exhausted, but we cuddle with the dog and then start getting ready for bed. I have to head back to work tomorrow. $20
9:30 p.m. — I shower and say goodnight to my mom. She's going to stay home with the dog tomorrow. I get in bed, turn on my meditation app, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $270.95

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — It's back to work for me today. My mom is going to drop me off, so I'm able to wake up later than normal since I won't have to worry about parking. I brush my teeth, wash my face, put in my contacts, and take the dog out. Then I feed the dog her breakfast and my mom drives me to work!
8:30 a.m. — I catch up with my coworkers and tell them about the decorations meeting. Then I get to my desk and start doing actual work.
11:30 a.m. — I place an order on the Zoe's Kitchen website for a Greek salad with grilled chicken, and then I go pick it up. After I eat, I grab my computer and a notebook and pen and head upstairs. Today we have a TED Talk lunch as a team. We watch one about artificial intelligence taking over jobs, but it's not as gloom and doom of a talk as I thought it would be. $10.77
1:15 p.m. — I head back to my office and do more tasks to wrap up the week. I'm taking tomorrow off work again because it's my bachelorette party and bridal shower weekend! I text my mom to see if she can come pick me up at 4 p.m.
4 p.m. — Mom (and my dog!) are here to pick me up, so I say goodbye to my coworkers and start my weekend early! We get home and I change into comfy clothes and lounge around the house for a little while. My mom went shopping today and found something to wear to my wedding, so she shows it to me.
6:30 p.m. — I cook shrimp stir-fry with brown rice for dinner for my mom and me. We eat together and watch Gilmore Girls. Mom cleans up after dinner, and then we take the dog on her walk around the neighborhood and chat. I head upstairs to start packing for the weekend, which is one of my least favorite things to do.
10:30 p.m. — The packing continues until it's time for me to shower and go to bed. When I finally finish, I get in bed, put on my meditation app, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $10.77
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.
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.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
In addition to our regular Money Diaries, we're looking for Money Diaries from teachers! If you are a teacher (especially in Arizona, Colorado, West Virginia, Oklahoma, or Kentucky), we want to hear from you! Submit here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series