A Week In Baltimore, MD, On A $62,000 Salary

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This week, we're looking at Money Diaries during the (often expensive) holiday season, to see how people save up — and spend. Today: a creative director who makes $62,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a drone.
Occupation: Creative Director
Industry: Tech
Age: 24
Location: Baltimore
Salary: $62,000 plus equity
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,962
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $810. I live in a pretty nice town house with three roommates where I have my own bedroom and bathroom.
Student Loan Payments: $581. (I have $71,035 in student loans.)
All Other Monthly Expenses
Health Insurance: $40 each paycheck
Car Insurance: $91
Renter's Insurance: $13.07
Utilities: ~$70
Internet: $24
Water Bill: $20
Savings: $1,300-$1,600. I'm currently building up my base savings; some of it is in investment accounts as well. Once I hit $20,000 (should happen in October 2018), I plan on setting up a retirement fund and funneling more towards my loans. (My startup doesn't offer 401(k) plans yet; it's too small.)

Day One

7 a.m. — I'm up and out of bed to get ready for work. I down a bottle of cold water while making a piece of avocado toast and a piece of jam toast. Trader Joe's coffee brews while I eat. (Their Winter Spice Blend is to die for.)
12 p.m. — I skip the company tradition of Thai food to go to Wegmans with my coworker for hummus. We both realize we've never been to Wegmans before, and wander around in awe of its magic. There's an entire vegan aisle. (I'm mostly vegan — not careful enough at restaurants to be full-on vegan — but I am strict vegetarian!) And there's an aisle where you can make your own trail mix! I'm already in love. I buy two tubs of hummus, a two-pound bag of carrots, pretzel chips, and raspberries. When I get back, I dip some of the chips and carrots into the hummus for lunch. I also munch on blackberries from home. $15.15
2 p.m. — I run to Starbucks with my manager; we go two or three times a week. It's a good chance for me to have one-on-ones with him and learn more about the company. He recently became addicted to peppermint mochas despite saying he hates coffee, so I feel like this is a big win for me. The total is $2.39 for a grande Pike Place roast, but I have a preloaded card with gift card cash.
5:30 p.m. — On the drive home, I need to stop and get gas. I have a pretty economical Honda that I love, and filling up the tank cost will probably last between one and a half to two weeks. $19.28
6:45 p.m. — I get home from the drive. I commute to D.C. one or two times each week but my company pays for the E‑ZPass, so I don't mind it. I work a bit more while making dinner, a veggie burger on toast with corn and beets on the side. For the rest of the night, I work on freelance projects, schedule emails, and plan my Christmas gift shopping (to be done on Friday — also known as payday).
Daily Total: $34.43

Day Two

8 a.m. — Got a late start this morning. First thing I do after getting ready for the day is drink a full water bottle. Mine holds 750 mL, and I usually try to drink at least three liters a day. For breakfast, I eat avocado toast and jam toast again, and brew coffee, which I'll bring to work in mason jar (inevitably burning myself during the drive). Every day, I think about buying a to-go mug, but here I am after two months, still spilling coffee on my commute.
12 p.m. — Lunch time! My lazy, running-late lunch is hummus from Wegmans and a bag of baby carrots with whatever fruit I remember to bring. I drink two more bottles of water by the end of lunch and log my intake into an app, since I'm trying to save my skin from winter.
5 p.m. — One of my coworkers leaves to buy chips at Subway. I don't want to spend money, but chips sound so good. I solemnly drink tea at my desk thinking about chips.
6 p.m. — I drive home and start working on freelance projects. I don't do them very often, but this one was too awesome to say no to, and the additional money never hurts. I hoped to make it to the gym if I finished in time, but that seems unlikely. I make dinner for the night at home, roasted sweet potato, black beans, corn, beets and salsa. I also made a serving for lunch, adding in quinoa and snap peas. I'm trying to keep my spending low during the week since I have to buy Christmas presents this weekend and take my car to the shop for an oil change. My December bonus is attached to this Friday's paycheck so it'll give me a bit of wiggle room, even though I plan to add most of it to savings.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — This morning sucks. It's cold and dark and rainy. I walk around with blankets wrapped around me while brushing my teeth and checking Tinder. I stare at my goldfish for a while with bleary eyes and sip on the water. None of my avocados are ripe, so this morning's toast is all raspberry jam. I'm really starting to get sick of toast but I ran out of oatmeal earlier this week, which I is my usual alternate for breakfast. I get freelance work done in the morning, which is quiet and filled with coffee, and send emails from home.
12 p.m. — Lunch time. All my coworkers love eating lunch exactly at noon for some reason. I heat up my lunch from home and join them. Even though I forgot to add mango salsa to my lunch, it's extremely spicy, so I chug water at the speed of light, also throwing ice cubes in my mason jar of coffee. I spend the second part of lunch trying to figure out what maintenance my cars needs since it's close to 100,000 miles, internally hating owning a car and being an adult.
4 p.m. — Our co-working space is having a holiday party today, which means free food and booze. I graze on the vegetable plate while drinking a Corona. Initially, I grabbed spanakopita and a veggie sandwich too, but in an unfortunate chain of events, I realized the sandwich labeled vegetarian was actually turkey and had to throw it. out. I chat with my coworkers and eventually pop out, taking some of the free food home in my container from lunch.
8 p.m. — I sip on egg nog, eat the spanakopita I brought home, and watch a bit of TV before getting started on freelance work. The person I'm doing freelance work for calls and we have a good discussion about timelines. Looks like I'll make it to the gym tomorrow! It starts snowing outside, which I am not about. People in Baltimore are already shit drivers, and this isn't gonna help.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — I drive to work. Didn't have time to make any breakfast or coffee beforehand, but I drink the office coffee and later have a packet of instant oatmeal my coworker/best friend brought me after I complained about all the toast.
10:30 a.m. — I leave work to pick up my manager from the airport. The airport is only a seven-minute drive from our office so we usually leave our cars at the office building. He buys me Starbucks in exchange for the ride, so I happily sip my mocha on the way back to work.
1 p.m. — I had a presentation at noon with West Coast clients so I missed lunch. They loved what I presented though, and my manager picked up a hummus snack cup from Wawa for me when he grabbed lunch. $3.73
6 p.m. — I've been working on our website redesign and still have a ton of work to do, but I want to head home to go on a run and refresh my mind. I drive home, curse at traffic, go on a long run, and then make a sandwich. During my run, I had a moment of clarity with how I want the new website to look, and I try to get it on paper. My roommate and I have Assassin's Creed on in the background, and he seems to think it's awesome. I couldn't even tell you what happened. By the time the movie is over, it's after 10. I head up to my room, clean up a bit, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $3.73

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — It's payday! And it's bagel breakfast today. (One of my coworkers brings in bagels for everyone on Fridays.) My coworker drove us in today and we get to work by 8:15 a.m. I drink the office coffee, munch on my bagel ($3), and meet with my team about the concept I came up with last night. They love it and we spend the first half of the day trying to prove the concept and iterating on it. When we present it before noon, my CEO loves it, too. $3
12 p.m. — Since my coworker and I both got our paychecks and bonuses today, we decide to treat ourselves to lunch. We go to a hipster place that sells artisan jam because that's a thing now. My vegetarian banh mi and cup of butternut squash soup are amazing ($11.41). Would literally cry into my food if it was appropriate. I treat myself to an eggnog latte afterwards as well, because I haven't spent much money all week and am really excited about eggnog season. ($3.50) $14.91
6 p.m. — The rest of the day is pretty normal. My team works on illustrations we need for the new website concept. We have a meeting at 5 p.m. with a West Coast client that runs past 6 p.m. When we finally leave, traffic is terrible and there are about four inches of snow outside. While the snow is pretty, scraping the ice off of the car is hellish.
6:20 p.m. — During the ride home, I get terrifying text from one of my roommates, J. Our house was broken into this morning after we all left for work. He came home and saw the backdoor had been kicked through. They literally kicked through a fucking deadbolt in broad daylight. I'm stuck in traffic for another 20 minutes and anxious about how bad it will be. J. said the house was trashed.
6:40 p.m. — I get home and there's a cop sitting on my couch, cataloguing everything that was stolen. Honestly, at this point, I really just want to check on my goldfish. Ironically, they're the things I care the most about even though I won them by accident at a state fair for two bucks over the summer. (I thought the prize was a stuffed animal, but I went home with four goldfish.) I hightail it upstairs to check on them, and they're fine! I start breathing easier, although the rest of my room is in shambles. They left my computer, which was in plain sight on my desk, but they took my iPad, which was in a case in my bookshelf?? They took a fake pair of pearl earrings, too. I tell the officer what was taken, and check on my roommates' rooms. J. is the only other one home for tonight.
7:45 p.m. — The police officer leaves, and J. and I try to figure out what to do with the backdoor since the lock is broken and the doorframe is falling apart. We end up drilling planks of heavy wood over the door to blockade it. Then, we clean up our roommates' rooms a bit before going to clean our own. I put everything I own in the washer because my stuff was thrown everywhere.
8:50 p.m. — After cleaning, J. and I settle in to watch a movie and drink wine. I realize I haven't had dinner yet, and since I just got fucking robbed, I order my fave food off Uber Eats. Take that robbers. My chilaquiles ($17.12) are expensive, but whatever — they're good and I deserve it. I've already done the math and realize what was stolen is less than my deductible, so I cut my losses. My roommates weren't as lucky and lost some pretty expensive stuff. Two of my roommates who split renter's insurance accidentally wrote the address wrong, and have been insuring the pizza place down the street. Darkly humorous, but also so shitty. We watch movies for the rest of the night, drink, and smoke. It's chill. We're not in the mood for much else. $17.12
Daily Total: $35.03

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I'm wide awake and am not falling back asleep. I had multiple break-in nightmares that would easily work for a horror movie. In one, the robber was still in our house, sneaking around, stealing our phones when we weren't looking, and then murdering us one by one. So, yeah. Didn't sleep much and don't plan on going to go back to sleep.
8:30 a.m. — I hear someone moving downstairs and see a text from J. that the landlord is here with maintenance to fix the door. They're taking apart our handy work first, which they were surprised to see. Who wouldn't board up a broken door in Baltimore?! I make coffee and toast, while my landlord is wears sunglasses and complains about being hungover. It's too early to deal with this, so I go upstairs to take care of my house plants, which need their showers. I have a couple of big ones so it's easier to put them in my shower to water them instead of using a watering can.
12 p.m. — Maintenance finally leaves and I'm off to Target with my friend. I'm spending a little bit of my bonus on new skincare items. My sister started doing the double wash method and has been raving about it, so I'm going to try it, too. I buy the Pixi Double Cleanse face wash ($24), and a variety pack that includes their toner because they're out of the large bottles. The tester has two mud masks and tonic toner in it, too ($22). I also grab a pack of washcloths for my face so I can use a fresh one every two days ($3.99). I use my bonus money on this instead of my regular budget. $49.99
12:45 p.m. — After target, we stop in Harris Teeter to buy groceries for the week. I get raspberries, Tofurkey, corn, peas, black beans, bananas, bread, one frozen entree, avocados, hummus, and coffee for $39.87. It'll be enough to make it for the rest of the week. We're pretty hungry and stop in Chick-fil-A next door for a quick snack. I get medium fries and sweet tea ($3.55). It's pretty clutch. $43.42
3 p.m. — To wrap up the shopping trip, we drop into the liquor store. I made a bottle opener a week ago in a blacksmith class and haven't had any bottled beer to try it on. I text J., who also did the class, and asks if he wants to split. We decide to get a variety pack of Sierra Nevada because we have different beer preferences ($21.50 total split two ways). I also pick up a bottle of wine to split with my other roommate, which costs $7.45 after being split two ways. $18.20
5 p.m. — I get home and J. really wants sushi. I'm down, so we take some of the beers we just bought to a BYOB sushi place. It's awesome. I get two avocado rolls and miso soup for only $11 after tax and tip. $11
7 p.m. — Friends come over and we play poker and pregame for holiday parties we're going to later. One is fancy one, the other is ugly-sweater themed, so J. and I wear my two ugly Christmas cat sweaters with his suit jackets on top and bowties. I've got a black skirt and tights on, and he wears nice slacks. It's hilarious and we run with it. We drink beer, play games, and eventually head out.
11 p.m. — The second party runs out of alcohol and my friend wants to grab some from the liquor store down the street. I tag along; it's almost 11 so the liquor store closes in an hour, and I figure I can have one more beer. I grab a Modelo Tallboy for myself and another for J., which he pays me back for. Economical, and will take me a while to drink. When I get back to the party, it seems a lot of people know we were robbed and keep asking about it. I'm kinda over it and just stick with some of my good friends. Around 1 a.m., I head home with friends, snack on a little hummus, drink a lot of water, and go to bed. $3.45
Daily Total: $126.06

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I wake up with a slight headache and put away the last load of laundry while drinking water. Around 10 a.m., I head to a coffee shop to focus on work for the rest of the day. I order black coffee and spinach and feta wrap, deciding this is the last thing I'll eat out for a while. I remember that I said I'd start writing Yelp reviews yesterday at sushi. J. said his friend brought him to a Yelp Elite event that was an open bar and buffet on a really classy boat cruise. Apparently, it was amazing. He's trying to get the same Elite status now, and we turned it into a game to see who can do it first. I write a review for the coffee shop and finish the review for the sushi place. $6.88
12 p.m. — I buy Christmas presents for my family. I split the cost of my dad's gift with my sister and brother-in-law; it's a drone that takes cool pictures since he loves nature photography ($26.40). I buy my sister two books and a card game from her wish list, and a rubber-band gun for my brother-in-law from his ($81.90). I spend the next bit of time balancing my budget. If I stick to my plan, I should save $18,000 from now until next October, which is pretty rad. Thinking about it like that, I'll make a serious dent in my student loans once I get my base savings out of the way. $108.30
5 p.m. — I spend the rest of the time finishing a freelance project I'm submitting later tonight. They're paying me a couple of grand for it, so that'll be a nice savings bump. I buy a ticket to a formal event in January for a program I'm in, make dinner at home, finish up work, and watch a movie with my roommates. After this week, I'll have $200 left until January 1 based on my budget. I decide to pull another $100 for NYE from my bonus. $40
Daily Total: $155.18
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