A Week In Austin, TX, On A $50,000 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 small business owner who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money on a dog crate.
Occupation: Small Business Co-Owner (and Part-Time Manager of Client Success for another 11 days)
Industry: International Logistics/Live Animal Shipping (small business) and Interior Design
Age: 34
Location: Austin, TX
Salary: I'm about to start taking a salary of $50,000 from my business (and I'm still making $24/hour at the part time job, which I will be leaving in less than two weeks)
Paycheck Amount (small business is every two weeks and weekly at the part-time job): $1,500 - $2,000 for my business and about $400 from my part time job
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $825 (My part of the rent — which includes gas, trash, internet and cable — on a 1 bedroom/1 bath plus a small study I live in with my boyfriend. He plays slightly more because he pays for the garage we also rent where he parks his car and hangs his hockey gear.)
Loans: $0 (My parents paid for my college — I'm extremely lucky.)
Credit Card Payment: $200
Car: $0 (paid off)
Electricity: $50
Netflix: $0 (Boyfriend pays for this)
Hulu: $0 (Don't make fun but we use my boyfriend's ex-girlfriend's mom's account. How she doesn't know we are using it blows my mind, but we keep hanging on... It's been 5.5 years!)
Phone: $75 (my personal business pays this)
Health Insurance: $0 for another 11 days, after that I'll be finding a plan under the Affordable Healthcare Act
Dog Food: $80 (I make my own dog food following the Prey Model raw diet)
Amazon: $11 a month
Savings: Nothing for the moment. I've been using a lot of my savings to live while I've been part-time and I only have about $1,500 left in savings. I'm happy to have a new salary soon.

Day One

3:30 a.m. — Yes. A.M. My boyfriend wakes me up so I can drive him to the airport. He's heading home to the midwest for 12 days. I roll out of bed, put my sneakers on, grab the dog so he can go for a ride, and drive the love of my life to the airport. After a quick kiss, he is out of the car and the dog and I are home and back in bed in 45 minutes.
11 a.m. — I've been waiting for this moment for three years! I tell my boss that I'm putting in my notice of resignation at my part-time job. I've been with the design company as long as I've been working on my personal business. I've been daydreaming about quitting for so long and it is finally here! My boss takes it…okay. Our team has been a little shaky lately and I know she is worried about hiring a new manager because none of our team members are ready to step into a manager role.
1 p.m. — In between my part-time job and doing some personal business work, I go to PetSmart where I buy a travel crate and crate pad for a client's pet I'm working with. I also donate $1 to homeless dogs and cats. ($139.79 expensed)
1:30 p.m. — I then head to Central Market (kinda like Whole Foods but better) and I buy yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, blackberries, english peas, a bag of lettuce, mint and dill, a ribeye steak, fresh shrimp, Swiss cheese, deli turkey, parmesan cheese, chocolate cookies, and Crackberry ciders. I also donate $1 to hungry families in Central Texas. ($78.60) I don't usually buy steak and shrimp but hey, my boyfriend is out of town and I feel like good food will help me eat at home instead of grabbing food out somewhere every day. On my way out of the grocery store I buy two tacos and an iced tea ($6.55) from a trailer in front of the store. I don't care if I just spent $80 on groceries they are delicious. $85.15
6 p.m. — The rest of my afternoon is spent talking to clients (both actual and prospective), emailing vendors, three calls and countless texts with my business partner, a quick break to throw the ball for my dog in the large field next to our apartment and making some corn and chili soup on the stove. I also crack open a few ciders. I wish my boyfriend was here to celebrate me quitting (he has sent lots of funny gifs and cute texts) and my business partner has a sinus infection. Party of one plus a black German Shepherd it is!
Daily Total: $85.15

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I wake up with my dog in my face. He is used to my boyfriend taking him out in the morning a good two hours before 8:30 and now has all the energy. I walk him for a good 30 minutes and give him his breakfast. Then I take my thyroid pill and check emails on my phone.
10:30 a.m. — I'm starving and make myself a turkey and Swiss sandwich with tomatoes and peperoncini on the side. I spend the next two hours fighting with a government agency that doesn't want to endorse my client's documents even though they are perfect. Sometimes clients like to point out that we are very expensive. I want to tell them, yes we are! We are a service. Like you don't have to go to a fancy steak house, but you chose to because it's nice and you don't have to cook and someone does everything for you… or I wish people could just hear the conversations (or raging arguments) I have to have with government employees…
12:50 p.m. — The agency has finally endorsed my documents and I pick them up and pay the $38 fee with my company card. ($38 expensed)
3 p.m. — I get home and take the dog to the field for some ball. When we get back, the maintenance team for my apartment is there to repaint my door — a “perk” of living here for four years. I eat the Caesar salad I was going to eat for dinner now for lunch. I settle down to do some more work. Only a few more days of doing two different jobs!
7:30 p.m. — I feed the dog and make myself angel hair pasta with lots of veggies (zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, peas, mushrooms, and onions) with the fresh shrimp. I should have added garlic but you know, not a professional chef. I finally sit on the couch and watch some old Forensic Files.
10:30 p.m. — I take a bath (something I do daily), wash my face, brush my teeth, and rub that blue aloe gel you buy in the big plastic bottles all over my chest and upper thighs as I got a little burned in the sun last weekend. Then I fall asleep listing to an old episode of the How Did This Get Made podcast.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6 a.m. — I wake up and give the dog an almost two mile walk. I'm going to have to leave him for a long time today and I'm already feeling bad. I grab my laptop, the crate I purchased the other day, and the documents I got endorsed yesterday and head to my best friend/business partner's house. We hop in the company-owned mini-van and are on our way to Houston by 7:30.
8:15 a.m. — We are both not feeling great. She has a sinus infection and I think allergies are hitting me hard this week, so we stop at the first Bucee's on the way. For y'all who aren't from Texas, Google Bucee's right away — it's the best gas station, food stop, random Texas paraphernalia rest stop. I grab two breakfast tacos and spicy verde salsa, and a large iced tea and T. (best friend/business partner) gets a breakfast sandwich (no egg) and a Diet Pepsi.) $13.23 expensed)
10:30 a.m. — We pick up my client's dog (she is so sweet!) and head to the airport. We make one quick stop to get some ice to fill the dog's water bowl for her flight to London. Did I tell you my business is to ship pets and other live animals all over the world?
11:45 a.m. — Check-in at Lufthansa for the dog is a breeze (which usually IT IS NOT!). We get all the paperwork done and then take the dog to cargo to get her in her crate and ready to depart. I pay her airfreight $579.38 with our business credit card (expensed).
1 p.m. — We make it to a Starbucks in time for me to hop on a video meeting for my other job. T. buys me a green iced tea.
2 p.m. — After my meeting, we head out of Houston but first stop at Tacos A Go Go. I get a pork belly taco and a shrimp taco. T. gets chicken and carnitas and we share guac and chips. We check out the cute store next door, but I get a client call right as we walk in, so I spend 20 minutes talking to her about how to get her cats to Germany while T. finds a cute beach hat to replace the one she ruined at the beach last weekend. ($27.45 expensed)
5 p.m. — Finally home! The dog jumps on me as soon as I walk in the door and I quickly throw my purse down and take him for a hike down to the greenbelt. We are lucky that my apartment literally backs up into 800 acres (yes I just had to Google that) of nature and trails and a creek that runs through central Austin. After 1.5 miles, we reach the creek where I throw the ball into the water and he swims for a good 30 minutes. We then hike back home. He's happy and I'm exhausted!
8 p.m. — I reheat some pasta from yesterday, send exactly one work email, take a bath, and then pass out. I miss my BF. He's with extended family this evening, so we can only text. I do remember to water all his plants, but I'm sure somehow they will die anyway because I kill all plants.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — The dog wakes me up and this is usually when I would roll over and cuddle with BF, but since he isn't here I make the dog get in bed with me to cuddle even though he desperately wants breakfast and to go for a walk. I give in to the dog and get up at 8.
9 a.m. — I have to make dog food today, so I head to the grocery store before it gets to busy. I buy two bags of chicken quarters, hamburger meat with low fat content, two packages of carnitas, two packages of chicken strips, calf's liver, sweat breads, and chicken hearts (all raw). I also get two bags of frozen mixed veggies, two bags of frozen mixed berries, and two cans of pumpkin. I add $1 donation to hungry families in central Texas. $61.21
9:45 a.m. — When I get home I make dog meals by spreading out 24 empty quart plastic tubs and adding a chicken quarter and a little bit of everything listed above also adding in some green tripe and an organ blend we purchase in bulk from a local raw dog food company. I also add a fish oil pill and an allergy pill. Let me say here that raw or non-cooked bones are very healthy for dogs. Feeding Prey Model raw is all about getting the perfect percentage of protein, bone, and organ. It took a little figuring out at first and a lot of weighing meals, but I can do it by eye now and it doesn't take that long. A few meals go into the freezer in the house, but most of them I take to the deep freeze in the garage.
12:30 p.m. — I grab the dog and we drive to the dry cleaners to pick up a dress I left there about a week ago. When I'm halfway there, I remember the other two dresses I was going to take with me that are on my bedroom floor in a bag. I fail at being an adult. I pick up the dress. $17.02 seems a little stiff, but they did get out a gnarly stain of soy sauce and some sort of alcohol. $17.02
12:45 p.m. — Dog and I go through the drive-through of a local burger place. I get a veggie burger and a large iced tea ($6.52) and the dog gets a large doggie bone (free). $6.52
4 p.m. — I drive to way north Austin and drop the dog off with our pet sitter. I'm leaving for Houston again tomorrow (for the business) and it will be an overnight trip so the dog needs to be looked after. N. (dog sitter) was the one who fostered him before we adopted him and he loves seeing her. I also say a quick hello to “New Dog” who is a Dutch Shepherd we are going to adopt once my boyfriend is home next month. I'm so excited to bring him home!
4:20 p.m. — I meet a friend at The Roaring Fork for their happy hour. I tell her all about quitting and how the business is going and then we talk about our families and how we keep in touch with old high school and college friends. I really enjoy our conversation. While I have a lot of acquaintances, I don't count a lot of people as close friends and I feel like we could be close friends. I have a dirty martini and she has a French 75. We share guac and she insists on picking up the check.
6:45 p.m. — Back at the house. It's so weird to be here without my boyfriend and especially without the dog. I eat some turkey, tomatoes, and avocado. I watch some Great British Bake Off episodes that I've seen too many times already. Take a bath. Slather my burned boobs with blue aloe goo and pack a quick overnight bag. I go to bed at 10 listening to some My Favorite Murder podcast back episodes that I haven't listened too.
Daily Total: $84.75

Day Five

5 a.m. — Another early day! I wake up, brush my teeth and throw on some leggings and a t-shirt. I take my pill and my hair goes up in a pony. I'm at T.'s house by 6 and on the road by 6:30. The plan for the day is to drive from Austin to San Antonio, pick up two cats and drive them to Houston where the cats will board overnight before we check them in on a flight to Panama the next day. Since it's a long weekend, T. and I decided to invite two other friends to come with and book a nice hotel. We love the work and we are finally at a place financially within the company to enjoy a trip to Houston with a hotel upgrade and a nice dinner.
7:30 a.m. — We stop at our first Bucees of the trip and I get my usual breakfast taco and a large Diet Coke. ($4.76 expensed)
10:00 a.m. - We have picked up the cats and are on our way to Houston. They are sweet cats, but man are they talkers in the car! We stop at Bucees number two and I get a large iced tea this time.
1:30 p.m. — We have dropped the cats off at the boarding facility. We snap photos for the client and arrange with the staff that we are going to pick them up early the next morning. We then make our way to the Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa (prepaid for a month ago). It's too early to check in, but we change in the hotel bathroom and head to the pool. Not going to lie there are a little too many children running around for my taste. There are three pools and one is supposed to be “adults only,” but there are lots of kids and no one seems to be enforcing the 18 and up rule.
2 p.m. — We decide to combat the kiddy parade by buying overpriced drinks at the pool bar. Miranda our bartender feels our pain and give us generous pours. I get a bloody Mary and then a mojito and tip generously. $38
5 p.m. — Now kinda drunk, my friend Y. and I head back to the room where we (stupidly) order mac and cheese from room service and I inspect my previously burned skin. I don't think I've added any additional harm and I made sure to keep my hat on the entire time. $12.50
9 p.m. — Dinner! Finally! The hotel has a private shuttle that will drive us anywhere within five miles ($5 cash tip). We find a place to eat, but they close at 9 because it's Sunday. With Monday being Memorial Day we totally forgot that places will close early tonight. We end up at North Italian and eat all the pasta. I get the pesto chicken pasta and a side salad and T. gets a side salad and meatballs. We all ordered a meat and cheese board for the table and T. and I get it on our tab. T. also has a glass of wine. Please note: We usually are not eating dinners like this during out work trips, but this is a weird weekend when we are working and with our friends. ($89.28 expensed) $5
10:30 p.m. — The shuttle driver deposits us back at the hotel ($5 tip) and we head to the room and I fall asleep quickly. $5
Daily Total: $60.50

Day Six

5:45 a.m. — T. and I are up and dressed (quick and quiet so we don't disturb our other friends) and we get in the car to head to the boarding facility to go get the cats AND...we have a flat tire. UGH! We then realize that we don't even have a spare in the car so we can't change it ourselves and get on the road. Lyft it is. ($26.12 expensed)
7 a.m. — M. (our Lyft driver, who is the sweetest) picks us up and is totally fine grabbing a few cats in crates and helping us get them to the airport. We get to the boarding facility and pick up the furry kiddos. Since M. doesn't want another Lyft driver to accept our drive from the boarding facility to the airport we tell her we will pay her cash for the ride there and then back to the hotel. Once we get to the airport and we are checking the cats in we realize that their paperwork was left in the minivan back at the hotel! I get in the Lyft with Brandi and she drives me back to the van to grab the documents while T. stays with the cats.
7:30 a.m. — T. has called AAA and they are waiting for me when M. rolls in. M. stays with me while AAA pumps our flat tire full of air. It seems to be holding so hopefully that will get us to a tire shop. But M. and I don't have time for a tire shop now! We rush back to the airport with the documents.
8:30 a.m. — Docs and at the airport. Cats are checked in. T. and I are back in M.'s car heading back to the hotel (again). We have to have her stop at a Chase ATM, so we can get her cash for all her help. Seriously she was amazing and so helpful. We pay her $160 (expensed) which she is super thankful for.
9:15 a.m. — T. and I make it in the van to Firestone and luckily it was just a nail that they were able to patch and we don't have to buy a new tire. Have I mentioned WE ARE STARVING! ($37.93 expensed)
10.30 a.m. — We are now ready to eat all the things and end up at Dish Society. I order a scramble and a side salad and T. gets a chicken sandwich and a side salad. We then decide we also need an order of beignets and mimosas. Again, stressing that we usually eat like Chipotle and Newks and burgers on the road (or we pack a lunch). We didn't need quite this fancy of a meal and God knows we weren't dressed for brunch, but it's been a weird morning. ($52.11 expensed)
12:30 p.m. — Back at the hotel to join our other friends for one last hour around the pool and then we change and check out. Friend Y. drives home and I sleep in the back seat. On the ride home T. sells a last minute move for tomorrow! This is great because money… but it means we literally have to drive back to Houston tomorrow morning.
6:15 p.m. — Since we are heading back to H Town tomorrow, I decide not to pick up my dog and instead let the dog sitter watch him for two more nights. She says he is getting along great with New Dog which really makes me happy. I take her two more dog meals then head home where I eat some veggies and cheese, take a shower, and spend three hours working. Then bed and I'm so excited to sleep. I put on a Lore podcast and pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Another early day. I get up, brush my teeth and throw on clothes. I'm at S's house by 7 and we at the designated meet-up spot with our client at 7:30 AM to collect her dog who is moving to Italy. She an older dog, but a world traveler. This little lady has lived on 3 continents!
8:15 a.m. — We are making good time so we stop in a tiny Texas town on the way to Houston and get breakfast tacos (two for each of us) and diet cokes from a Mexican trailer. T. walks the pup while I pay. They are delish! ($13.48 expensed).
12:20 p.m. — We are almost at the airport so we make one last stop where I grab some ice for the dog's crate. ($.79) I then sit in the car while T. does the check in and answer emails. June is getting really busy! I'm so glad I only have a few more days at the part-time job. I can't wait to answer emails from only one email inbox. $0.79
12:40 p.m. — While I'm answering emails I hear from my boyfriend. His grandmother is not doing well and they think the end will come sometime this weekend. I remember our first date when he talked about how being close with family is so important to him and how much he specifically loved his mom's mother. I try not to cry, but hearing him sigh and sound so defeated makes me tear up. He might have to stay in the midwest a little longer. We talk about if I should fly up, but we decide to play it by ear.
1:10 p.m. — We get to our pet-friendly hotel, check in, and fall onto our beds. T. and I are exhausted. We both work for about an hour and a half and then she naps and I play on my phone. I am working with another pet shipper in Singapore and we send multiple emails back and forth about a funny client we are both helping.
6:15 p.m. — Our breakfast tacos were a long time ago. We hit up a local sports bar and each grab a beer and a cobb salad. It's probably just okay, but I'm craving green, healthy food. Mmmmmm lettuce. ($42.68 expensed)
9 p.m. — We are back at the hotel and head down to the pool and hot tub for a dip. I end up just putting my feet in the hot tub and T. and I work on finding a hotel in Houston for two weeks from now when T.'s sister will be in town and coming with us. We want it to be within our "normal Houston" budget, but also nice enough for T.'s sister to hang out in while we work. We leave the pool after about an hour. I then try to Facebook stalk my new friend, but can't find her and end up falling sleep quickly to House Hunters International. Before I close my eyes I text my boyfriend, "I miss you".
Daily Total: $0.79
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.
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:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series