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A Week In Austin, TX, On An $80,000 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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: an executive recruiter working in professional services who makes $80,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck on a pair of black Vince Camuto booties.
Occupation: Executive Recruiter
Industry: Professional Services
Age: 26
Location: Austin, TX
Salary: $80,000. (Plus ~$20,000 in bonuses paid out as I reach milestones on my projects at work.)
Paycheck (2x/month): $2,485.69
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $947.50. (I live in a two-bedroom apartment in South Austin with my boyfriend. We split the rent evenly.)
Student Loan Payment: $300
Auto Loan Payment: $379.48
Phone Bill: $57.84. (I'm on a family plan with my boyfriend.)
Utilities, Netflix & Internet: $0. (I have an agreement with my boyfriend where he pays the bills and I pay for all our groceries. It more or less evens out.)
Health & Dental Insurance: $8.92 pre-tax
Additional Expenses
Auto Insurance: $515 for six months
Renter's Insurance: $229/year

Day One

7:15 a.m. — I wake up way later than usual and struggle to keep my eyes open. I got plenty of sleep, but I'm still exhausted because my boyfriend and I have had family in town (including his daughter) for the last week. This morning, I'm dropping off my parents and sister at the airport before I resume my regularly scheduled life. After scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and playing Word With Friends, I finally get out of bed. I bundle up because it is unusually cold outside (29 degrees! In Austin!), and greet my boyfriend and dog. I down a chocolate protein shake with a little cinnamon added in for flavor and then pick up my family from their hotel and drive 20 minutes to the airport. I'll miss them once they're gone, but for now I'm ready for a few days of normalcy post-holidays.
9:45 a.m. — Traffic wasn't too bad this morning and I make it home at a reasonable hour and start my work day. I work from home, so my schedule is pretty flexible. That said, I have a heavy workload at the moment and I'm motivated to wrap up some of my current projects before new ones are added. Not to mention that reaching project milestones means more monthly bonuses for me and getting closer to my goal of becoming debt-free by the end of the year. (I'm using Dave Ramsey's debt snowball method.) One things I love about my job is that I have uncapped earning potential. With my current workload, at a minimum, I will earn $95,000 in total comp for the year, but I expect that it will be more based on last year's numbers.
12 p.m. — My boyfriend and I need to make a grocery run so that I can make chili for dinner tonight. Ideally, this would have already been prepared in time for today's lunch, but I didn't have time to shop while the family was in town. I buy gas at Circle K on the way there. I can't believe it's gone up almost $0.20/gallon in one week! $20.06
12:30 p.m. — We head to Target where we pick up two bell peppers, two cans of black beans, eggs, almond milk, and sparkling water. This will only hold us over for a day or so, but the longer shopping trip will have to wait. We stop at the Starbucks in the shopping plaza (the one at Target is always understaffed with a huge line), and I pick up the trenta unsweetened black iced tea that I've ordered on my app. It's usually $3.19 but I pay with a gift card my friend gave me for Christmas. $16.51
1:30 p.m. — Back home, I bake some of the chicken tenders that we bought for my boyfriend's daughter in the toaster oven. While they are cooking, I buy a pair of black Vince Camuto booties that I've had my eye on and two pairs of fleece-lined tights from Nordstrom online. I might have to go to NYC on a business trip at the end of the month, and my old black boots finally died after a recent trip to London. $162.27
5 p.m. — I call it a day and head to the kitchen to eat a bowl of the chili that I put on to simmer after lunch. I somehow forgot to buy half of the ingredients that I needed, but it tastes good anyway. My boyfriend and I decide to stay in and watch Netflix tonight. I play games on my iPad, and we go to bed around 9:30.
Daily Total: $198.84

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Slept in late again! I must have been seriously wiped from last week. I get out of bed, throw on comfy pajamas, and down a protein shake. I forgot to add cinnamon, so it's pretty gross. I crack open the new bottle of mineral oil that I ordered last week from Williams Sonoma, and apply it to my wooden cutting board. It makes an immediate and noticeable difference in the appearance and texture of the wood. I leave it on the counter to soak in and plan to add another coat later. I head to my home office to begin the work day.
11 a.m. – I get confirmation that our managing partner does, in fact, want me to come to the NYC office at the end of the month, so I book my flight and hotel. Delta has a convenient direct flight to JFK for less than $300, so I book that and pay a premium for preferred aisle seats. I log in to my boyfriend's Starwood Preferred Guest account (he has platinum status and gets better rates) to book my hotel. I find a great deal on a hotel ($440.51) that's just a short walk from my office, and book it. ($775.11 expensed)
12:30 p.m. — Leftover chili for lunch with mandarin flavored sparkling water.
4 p.m. — Today is a very busy workday full of candidate calls, planning, and writing bios for a client deliverable that is due tomorrow. I resolve to finish half of them today and do the offer half in the morning.
6 p.m. — Leftover chili for dinner and boyfriend and I catch up on Fixer Upper before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7 a.m. — I'm slowly creeping back toward my normal 6:30 a.m. wakeup time. Perhaps my internal clock will reset over the weekend. For now, I forgo my usual phone scroll and hop out of bed to get dressed right away. My boyfriend (who also works from home) and I are planning to check out the H-E-B near our apartment this morning to determine if it will fit our grocery needs. We just moved to Austin a couple of weeks ago and have yet to find our go-to grocery store. I down my protein shake, drink a glass of water, and make myself a mug of tea before working on a request that my boss sent me late last night. I finish up those emails and we head out to the store.
9 a.m. — Oh man, I'm starving! In the car on the way back from the store, I eat pepperoni slices that we bought at the deli and drink a bottle of unsweetened iced tea. The store was kind of a bust (we only eat organic and they didn't have a great selection) so we left with just a few staple items: black and cannellini beans, canned tomatoes, baby carrots, bell peppers, avocados, chipotle hummus, baby spinach, deli meats, chicken stock, pistachios, a rotisserie chicken, and my iced tea. The search for the perfect store continues. $98.44
11 a.m. — Scrounge around in the kitchen for lunch; end up eating a bowl of rotisserie chicken and baby carrots.
5 p.m. — Another very busy day at work. Everything that was pushed out for the holidays is coming back to haunt me. I spent three hours finishing up a report to send to one of our clients, made some calls, and call it a day promptly at 4. My company does early release every Friday, which is one of my favorite perks. We ate the last of the chili yesterday, so tonight I make beef stir fry with broccoli, bell peppers, and onions. I buy all of our beef from Crowd Cow (super cool online company that lets you buy "shares" of a cow from a local farm), and one order usually lasts the better part of a month. In late December, I placed a huge order for steaks, a roast for Christmas, stew meat, stir fry pieces, and 14 pounds of ground beef that we're still working our way through.
Daily Total: $98.44

Day Four

7 a.m. — Saturday is here! I've been looking forward to today all week as we're taking our dog to her first ever Vizsla meet up. There will be 20-plus dogs of the same breed for her to run around and play with. I'm curious to see if a lot of her behaviors are breed traits that will be mirrored in the other dogs. I quickly get dressed, down a protein shake and a few slices of bacon that my boyfriend prepared, and get ready to head out. The meet-up is at a dog park on the far side of town so we leave a little early to give ourselves time to get lost. We pull into a Starbucks drive-through on the way for an order of egg white sous vide bites and a trenta unsweetened iced green tea. My remaining gift card balance won't cover the $8.55 needed to pay for this order, so I load $30 onto my card. $30
11 a.m. — The meet-up was so fun! There were a ton of Vizlas, and it was so cool to watch them all run around together. Our dog passes out as soon as we get into the car, and we drive straight home. I eat a bowl of rotisserie chicken and carrots for lunch.
4 p.m. — We met with two dog sitters from Rover today, and found a great sitter for when we're away visiting family next month. I book the stay on our drive home, and Rover immediately bills it to my card. $160.50
6 p.m. — Dinner was fun to prepare tonight as it was my first time using the spiralizer that my boyfriend got me for Christmas. I made zucchini noodles with chicken in a lemon garlic brown butter sauce. It was delicious and there was a little bit leftover for another meal!
Daily Total: $190.50

Day Five

9 a.m. — I'm meeting up with a girl from Bumble BFF at the dog park for a puppy playdate. I get up, bundle up for the cold weather, down my protein shake, and head out to the park.
11 a.m. — OMG. I got stood up! This has never happened to me before. It's such a weird feeling! My dog and I meet some other dog owners and dogs at the park and have fun anyway. I pull into the drive-through at Starbucks on my way home and use my free drink reward to purchase my go-to iced tea. I get home and heat up leftovers for lunch.
1 p.m. — As part of our plan to get serious with our finances, my boyfriend and I each bought a three-month gift subscription to MoviePass for Christmas to maximize our "fun money." For the $30 that we both spent, we can see a new movie in theaters every day for the next three months for no additional cost. We just received our cards in the mail this week, and today we've decided to test them out for the first time. We go to the Cinemark by our house to see the latest Star Wars movie.
4 p.m. — The movie is a lot of fun! We decide to pop into Sam's Club afterward to see if it makes sense for us to buy a membership. The main benefit would be the discount on gas that we'd receive as members, since my boyfriend's car requires premium fuel. We explore for 30 minutes and decide to do it.
6 p.m. — I make dinner (lentil pasta with a beef and veggie sauce), and we watch TV for a few hours before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7 a.m. — Up and out of bed promptly this morning. I drink my protein shake and settle in at my desk. Today is going to be extremely busy, and I'm planning to cut out early to meet another match from Bumble BFF. I have an urgent request from my boss for a project and I dive into that first.
11 a.m. — Leftover pasta for lunch and back to churning out emails for the next few hours.
3:30 p.m. — Wrap up a great call with a fabulous candidate, send a note to my boss letting him know, and then shut down my laptop for the day. I quickly primp before leaving to meet my new Bumble BFF in downtown Austin.
6:30 p.m. — The meeting is a success! We share a lot of the same views on relationships and the world. Definitely a keeper. I order one skinny margarita and a trio of tacos for dinner. We each pay our own tabs, and agree to get together again soon before leaving. $20
9 p.m. — I turn in early and browse the web on my iPad before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $20

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I guess this is my new wakeup time. I play Words With Friends in bed and check Instagram before getting up and hopping in the shower. Afterward, I drink a glass of water, put water in the tea kettle to boil for my morning tea, and drink a protein shake. I'm feeling extra hungry today so I also microwave three slices of bacon. Work continues to be pretty busy. This morning, I focus on finally clearing out my inbox post-holiday, and take a couple of calls.
11 a.m. — Lunch time rolls around, and I remember that I was planning another experiment for lunch and dinner today. I am attempting to make pasta e fagioli soup with lentil pasta but what comes out definitely isn't soup. It smells and tastes pretty good, though. I suppose I'm going to strike out sometimes when trying new recipes. Gotta keep at it to diversify our menu.
1 p.m. — My boyfriend and I are visiting his grandparents in Northern California next month and were originally planning to stop in Napa for a couple of days, too, but we ended up canceling our hotel reservation to save money. We're kind of regretting that decision, so my boyfriend checks his Starwood Preferred Guest points balance and we have just enough to stay in Napa for two nights for free, so we book it. We each buy a $75 ticket for the release party for Silver Oak 2013 Napa Cabernet and call it our Valentine's gifts to each other. We also have a membership to one of the wineries up there that includes a free tasting whenever we visit, so it should be a pretty budget-friendly trip. $75
4 p.m. — I have a craving for Starbucks and I convince my boyfriend to go with me. I order my iced tea through the mobile app. The cost is deducted from my remaining gift card balance. My boyfriend doesn't want anything, but drives me there anyway. That's real love!
6 p.m. — We both heat up leftovers for dinner, and watch a few episodes of Travelers on Netflix before going to bed.
Daily Total: $75
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