A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $45,000 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 social media assistant who makes $45,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a copy of Hamlet.
Occupation: Social Media Assistant
Industry: Auctions
Age: 22
Location: Dallas, TX
Salary: $45,000 plus up to $4,000 bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,400
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with the parents.)
Student Loan Payment: $1,353 (I took out student loans, for which I pay $203/month. My parents took out parent-plus loans under their name for my education, and I'm paying them back at $1,150/month.)
Creative Cloud: $19.99 (I'm still on the student plan.)
Apple Music: $4.99 (I'm still on the student plan for this, too.)
Cell Phone: $0 (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)
Car Payment/Insurance: $0 (Once again, thank you to my parents!)
Health Insurance: $0 (I'll be on my parents plan for as long as I can be.)
Savings: $100-$200 (This will be a lot higher once my credit card is paid off.)
Credit Card: $500 (I have about $1,500 left to pay off from dumb decisions I made when I went to college in New York.)
Patreon: $30 (I support a podcast that I love; it's the highest tier and slightly pricey, but I think the two hosts deserve it!)
Charity: $100-$200 (Whatever money I make from sales of my self-published book goes straight to either Planned Parenthood, End the Backlog, or whatever charity I'm feeling at the time!)
Hulu: $7.99
Netflix: $0 (I use my parents' family plan.)
Gym Membership: $15

Day One

7 a.m. — I've already hit snooze on my alarm a few times, so I have to get up, because living at home means dropping my little sister off at school. I wash my face and change into my gym clothes so I can head straight there after drop off.
9 a.m. — Back from the gym, showered, and ready to work. My company is amazing, and I get to work from home one day a week, so I always pick Tuesdays. I have a few errands to run, so this works out perfectly.
11:30 a.m. — I head to the post office to mail a package to New York. An influencer who I admire is letting me send her a copy of my book, and I'm ecstatic. I want to get it sent off right away ($6.70). On my way home, I stop by Dunkin' Donuts and grab an iced coffee, a breakfast sandwich, and hash browns ($7.50). $14.20
3 p.m. — I haven't been productive at all, which is what happens all too often when I work from home. Luckily I got ahead on my work yesterday, so it's okay I took it slow. I peruse the ASOS website for work-appropriate summer wear, but can't commit to anything. Time to pick up the little sister from school!
5 p.m. — Done working for the day, and decide to eat a snack. I munch on almonds and string cheese while I decide what to cook for dinner.
7 p.m. — Dinnertime! I'm trying to eat out less, so I cook up asparagus and mushrooms with poached eggs. I'm not particularly good at cooking, so I always stick to simple meals!
9 p.m. — Bedtime! I may be 22, but I'm not one to stay up late. I have a strict routine I follow, so that I'm always in bed my 9 p.m. and asleep by 11. I watch this week's episode of Silicon Valley (just caught up and I'm in love).
10 p.m. — Time to turn off the tech. I set my alarm for the morning and put my phone away. I try not to look at screens an hour before bed. I've always had bad insomnia, but this slight change has worked wonders. I pull out the book I'm reading, The Female Persuasion, and read 30 pages. I try to read a book a week, so I have a set number of pages to read each night. Once I finish up, it's lights out before 11!
Daily Total: $14.20

Day Two

7 a.m. — You'd think after months at my job, I'd be able to get up easily, but nope. I've already hit snooze a few times. I take a quick shower, drop the sister off to school, slap on makeup, and I'm out the door.
8 a.m. — Dallas traffic isn't the best, but it gives me time to listen to podcasts. I have a few in rotation, and this week I'm working my way through the first season of Startup from Gimlet Media. I want to host a podcast, so I listen to as many as I can!
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! The morning passes so quickly, I don't even realized how hungry I am. I packed a Greek salad for my lunch, which I made in bulk earlier in the week, but I'm not a huge fan of it. I also just read an article about why I shouldn't eat romaine, so I'm trying to just finish it up.
4 p.m. — Freedom! My work hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is truly amazing, and means I get to skip the worst of the traffic. I'm home in 40 minutes rather than the hour-and-a-half it would take if I left at 5!
5 p.m. — Quick Amazon order: two sets of headphones, headphone splitters, and a microphone. My sister and I are starting an indie podcast because we think we're funny (I'm sure no one else will) and because we spend way too much time talking about conspiracy theories. $95
6 p.m. — I spend an hour designing us a very tacky logo that includes the outline of Guy Fieri's hair and race car flames, and thinking of social media handles. We talk through podcast episode ideas, but I start to get hungry, so we put the planning on hold.
7 p.m. — I fry up tofu with broccoli and cauliflower to make a quick stir-fry and call it a day.
9 p.m. — I spent the last two hours playing video games with my little sister. Was anybody else obsessed with Kingdom Hearts as a child, or just me? I introduced her to it, and she's as hooked as I was growing up. We played through a few levels, but now it's both of our bedtimes!
9:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of Champions. I love Mindy Kaling, and the show is funny, plus I love seeing representation for Indian American women like me!
10 p.m. — I set my alarm for tomorrow and put my phone away. Still working my way through The Female Persuasion. Lights out by 11!
Daily Total: $95

Day Three

7 a.m. — I feel like I'm very boring with my same ol' routine, but once again I'm up, taking a quick shower, dropping off the sister, and slapping on makeup. Out the door slightly later than usual, but my office is relaxed, so I'm not worried.
8:15 a.m. — Starting my day off by listening to My Favorite Murder. I love this podcast, but I have to listen to it in the morning, or else I'll have nightmares. They keep mentioning a book called I'll Be Gone in the Dark, so I make a mental note to pick it up over the weekend to read. I love reading true crime books, but I get through them so slowly because they keep me up at night.
11:30 a.m. — I forgot to pack my lunch, but I think it's because I subconsciously didn't want to eat my boring salad. I drive over to a local Thai place and order stir-fried veggies and rice. I feel sluggish when I head back to work. $8.75
2 p.m. — The day is going by so slowly. I once again find myself on ASOS deciding if I should buy a few pieces for my trip to New York in a few weeks. I look through my saved items, but still don't feel ready to take the plunge. I decide to wait until my next paycheck and order two-day delivery so I can still get the clothes in time!
4 p.m. — Time to go home. I listen to another podcast called Yeah, But Still. This is the one I pay for on Patreon. The hosts are so funny and always make me laugh. Ever since I moved back to Dallas a few months ago, I've been missing the sense of humor my NYC friends have, and this podcast reminds me of them!
6 p.m. — Dinnertime! I poach an egg and cook up asparagus and mushrooms again.
6:30 p.m. — Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, so my sister and I drive down to a tattoo shop to sign up for a $20 tattoo. I decide to get a little pear, since I'm slowly working on covering my arm with plants and fruits! $20
7:30 p.m. — We make a spur of the moment decision to go watch A Quiet Place, and I grab tickets for both of us. I'm not one for horror movies, but the reviews on this one are too good to pass up. I walk out thoroughly impressed and teary-eyed! $28
10 p.m. — Home and in bed. I read more of my book, but feel too tired to get through my daily page count, so I fall asleep a little early.
Daily Total: $56.75

Day Four

7 a.m. — You guessed it: quick shower, drop off the sister, and put on makeup. I'm out the door by 8!
8 a.m. — I just started listening to a new political podcast. I've been lacking a news outlet that doesn't make me sad, but finally found one that shows both conservative and liberal standpoints without being negative!
8:45 a.m. — Traffic is lighter than usual, so I have time to grab coffee before work. I get a cold brew with coconut milk for myself and a flat white for a coworker! $8
11:30 a.m. — Time to go get my tattoo. The shop is right by my work, so I walk over. It only about five minutes. I slip the artist a $5 tip because I know he is crazy busy. $5
4 p.m. — I leave work, and I'm starving. I blast the new Saba album on my way home and drive with my windows down, enjoying the warm Texas weather. The best thing about living in the South is that my seasonal affective disorder doesn't hang around throughout the spring like it did in New York!
5 p.m. — I'm home! I snack on almonds while I stare at the fridge, trying to decide what to cook. My parents are having a date night, so I'm watching the little sister tonight.
6 p.m. — I make myself a quick stir-fry with all the vegetables I can find in the fridge, and cook up udon noodles for my little sister.
7 p.m. — More Kingdom Hearts with the little sister! We play for two hours until it's time for her to go to bed.
9 p.m. — I start coughing and feeling a little under the weather. I always get sick after getting a tattoo, so I'm not worried, knowing it'll be gone in the morning! I head to bed and read for an hour to catch up on pages from last night, and then fall asleep by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $13

Day Five

8 a.m. — Saturday means sleeping in, but only for an extra hour. I wake up and change into my gym clothes. I make sure to get to the gym early, so it's not too crowded. It's cardio day, so I spend a lot of time on the elliptical and treadmill.
10 a.m. — Get home from the gym and take a shower. I feel a little hungry, but still have to wait two hours to eat. I pull out my laptop and scroll through social media. Then I check on my book's sales to see how it's doing. This month was pretty slow, but I don't mind. I published the book for myself, and wasn't looking to make a profit, since I have a good full-time gig. Then my sister and I spend more time planning out the podcast.
12 p.m. — Time to eat! I make a mushroom-and-feta omelet. It ends up looking very ugly, and I'm sure Jacques Pepin would not approve, but I think it's delicious.
3 p.m. — Every weekend I babysit my little sister until 3 p.m. Once my mom is home, my sister and I head to the mall. I've been wanting to get my ears pierced for some time now, so I head straight to Claire's and get it done. My piercer was incredibly sweet, and I'm excited about all the tacky earrings I can now rock! $31
7 p.m. — My sister and I spend a few hours perusing the mall, and then walk around the area to take outfit pictures of her. She's trying to step up her Instagram game, and since I'm a social media professional, she has forced me to help her out. She does a few outfit changes in the car, and we get a lot of good pictures!
9 p.m. — I may or may not be the lamest 22-year-old on the planet, but I decide to stay in for the night. My best friend is a nurse who works nights, so it's tough for us to get to spend time together. Since I just moved back to Dallas, I don't have many other friends to spend time with, but I don't mind. My sister and I end up binging Grey's Anatomy until midnight. Neither of us had watched it before, and now Shonda has us hooked!
12 a.m. — Bedtime!
Daily Total: $31

Day Six

8 a.m. — Gym time! I'm trying to get in the habit of going to the gym three times a week, and I hate it! But I'm stubborn, so I force myself to lift weights and jog a few miles.
10 a.m. — I'm a creature of habit, so every Sunday morning I buy my groceries for the week, as well as a book at Barnes & Noble. (I know, I know, I should shop local, but my suburb doesn't have any good local bookstores.) I look around for a while before deciding on Hamlet. I'm trying to read and reread classics because I never appreciated them in high school. I've always loved Shakespeare, and it's been a while since I've read this one. $13
12 p.m. — I'm home and starving, especially after my workout. I poach eggs and mash up some avocado, which I eat with sourdough.
2 p.m. — I meal prep for the week: broccoli, mushroom, pepper, and tofu stir-fry with brown rice.
6 p.m. — Time for dinner! I bought pizza dough from Trader Joe's when I did my grocery shopping, so I make a cheese pizza with olives for myself. This was always my go-to lazy dinner in college, and it makes me nostalgic for my crappy Brooklyn apartment that I loved so much.
9 p.m. — You guessed it, I'm in bed! I catch up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This show is so funny, and it has a openly bisexual character! Everyone needs to watch it!
10 p.m. — Reading time. The Female Persuasion is a long book, so I'm giving myself two weeks to finish it and am a little more than halfway through. I read for an hour before falling asleep!
Daily Total: $13

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Happy Monday! My mom is home in the morning, so I don't have to drop the little sister off at school. I take my time getting ready and decide to whip out the hair straightener for the first time in months. I somehow manage to straighten my hair in fifteen minutes, so I slap on makeup before heading out the door.
11 a.m. — Lunchtime! We have a team lunch today, which is paid for by the company. (We do this once a month.) We head to a Tex-Mex place where the food is just alright. My coworkers and I discuss the recent Facebook scandal and the Zuckerberg testimony. I have been off of Facebook for months, but because my job is in social media, I have to keep up with all their policy changes. On my way back to the office, I pick up makeup remover, since I'm out of it. $10
4 p.m. — I clock out for the day. I was incredibly productive, so I don't feel bad about being the first one out of the office, especially since I'm one of the first people in the office every morning. I listen to the new episode of Yeah, But Still as I drive home. They talk about Coachella, and it makes me feel relieved that I didn't spend thousands of dollars on a music festival that doesn't even seem fun.
6 p.m. — I'm still full from lunch, so I make a small dinner. I heat up stir-fry for dinner.
9 p.m. — In bed, as per usual! I watch the latest episode of Silicon Valley, read for a bit, and then it's time to sleep!
Daily Total: $10
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