A Week In Denver, CO, On A $140,000 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.
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 design strategist working in tech who makes $140,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on LaCroix.
Occupation: Design Strategist
Industry: Tech
Age: 31
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $140,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month ): $3,996.02
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage:$1,132.58, split with my fiancé
Student Loan Payment: $0 (But not for long, since I'll soon share my fiancé's loan debt.)
Car Payment: $632.84
Car Insurance: $76.19
Credit Card Debt: $834.24
Medical/Dental/Vision Insurance: $0 (I'm on my fiancé's insurance — he will have to pay taxes on it as additional income next year, since we're not married yet.)
Spotify: $9.99
Netflix: $7.99
Amazon Prime: $100
Phone Bill: $138.72
Climbing Gym Membership: $75
Savings: $500 from each paycheck
401(k): $0 (My new job doesn't have one of these, so I'm trying to save cash for now. I have about $20,000 saved up in my old 401(k).)
Joint Allowance Account: $250 from each paycheck (for dog/house stuff/house cleaner, etc.)
Additional Expenses
Dropbox: $200/year

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Wake up! I shower, check emails, and feed the dog. I'm getting married in a month (!), so I throw on Crest Whitestrips I bought off of Amazon last week. I have a fake front tooth and want my other (coffee-stained) teeth to match it before the big day.
8 a.m. — I'm on a smoothie kick, so I decide to see how my body will deal with smoothies for both breakfast and lunch. Diarrhea? Indigestion? All good? We'll see! I bought a bunch of supplies at the grocery store yesterday and blend a morning smoothie (blueberries, peach, strawberries, banana, almond milk, flax seed, chia seed, superfood powder) and a lunch smoothie (half a bottle of Soylent, protein powder, blueberries, strawberries, peach, flax seed) and brew coffee.
9:30 a.m. — J., my fiancé, and I drive into work together with our dog. (We both work in the same city about 40 minutes from our house.) Usually, he bikes, and I work from home and go into the office once or twice a week, but we both have kickball tonight, and I have in-person meetings today, so driving is easier.
1 p.m. — Starving! For lunch I drink my giant smoothie and grab a (free) coffee from our coworking space's kitchen.
1:30 p.m. — I walk the dog (with a pit stop to chase sticks in the creek) over to where J. is working so he can take her to doggie daycare for the rest of the afternoon, and I can get back to work. We have a joint account that we each deposit $500 into each month. A half day of doggie daycare is $21. $21
3 p.m. — After in-person meetings, I take an internet break to investigate rings for J. Neither of us are jewelry people and we don't know what to get. Amazon has rings ranging from $10 to a few thousand dollars! I wasn't into the idea of an engagement ring AND a wedding ring, so I just have my one ring. It's super small, and I wear it only a few times a week. It was $1,200, which I still think is way too much! We're actually getting tattoos on our wrists right before our ceremony — this is currently super secret and only our friend who is officiating knows. My mom is going to kill me!
5:30 p.m. — J. and I go on a quick three mile trail run with the dog after work. I'm feeling low energy so I pick up a banana, a hemp bar (not sure what it is, but it looks healthy?), and a LaCroix at a deli outside my office. During the trail run, the dog goes after the prairie dogs (but they're way too fast for her!). Alas, halfway through our run she's a quarter mile away and we have to chase her down. J. is annoyed and worried we'll be late for kickball, so he puts her back on leash. I'm amused. $7.26
6:45 p.m. — Whole Foods dinner right before before kickball ($11.67)! I get a salad from the salad bar, a bottle of water because I forgot my Nalgene, and jelly beans. Game ends up with me as our last kicker. We're down a run with a few people on base. I get out, and we lose. Oh well — everyone is in good spirits anyway because it's just kickball, and it's our first game of the season. Somebody brought Modelos, so I have a can. Our team of friends hangs out on the grass after the game. $11.67
8:45 p.m. — While hanging out, we get a text that one of our friends (who played kickball with us) has been in a bike accident, so we jam over to the ER and hang out with him. Luckily he's okay, save for really bad road rash, a fat lip, and a headache. We head over to the accident scene to transport his bike back to his house (after fighting with an angry sprinkler). Good thing he was wearing a helmet! He was grocery shopping and his coconut shrimp and donuts somehow survived both the accident and the sprinklers!
12 a.m. — Get home late, booty, pass out.
Daily Total: $39.93

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, drink half a Soylent, check emails.
8:45 a.m. — Head over to a local esthetician and get a facial! Pretty nice way to start the day. Haven't had one in probably a year and all things considered, this facial is well priced. I try to tip her but she insists she doesn't take tips. $75
10:20 a.m. — Drink rest of Soylent, and then I get to work. (I'm working from home today.) Currently, I get to illustrate and code for a project my team is working on, which is both very time consuming and very fun. I could get lost in it for hours, so working from home is good because I usually break my day up with some form of exercise with the dog. Somewhere in there I make a smoothie and buy new sheets online. I'm sick of the $30 jersey sheets from Target that seem to get worn out after a few months, so I buy fancy sheets on sale from Nordstrom (pillowcases, fitted sheet, and flat sheet). I don't pay for this from our joint account because I want these sheets, and I don't want to justify their purchase to my fiancé. $212.72
6:30 p.m. — Walk the dog. Make a lazy dinner (tuna fish from the pantry with lemon juice and olive oil on a rice cake alongside half a rice cake with maple almond butter). Dessert is a few gummy bears.
7:45 p.m. — Bike to the climbing gym and climb with a new friend!
10 p.m. — J. gets home from a business drink and I get home from the climbing gym at around the same time. We pack for camping/climbing tomorrow, and I can't wait to be in the mountains all weekend!
Daily Total: $287.72

Day Three

7 a.m. — Wake up with a nasty rash on my back around stitches that I have for three mole removals I had done a few weeks ago. (The moles were all benign.) Especially now that I'm in my 30s, I want to be proactive rather than reactive about my health. I'm hopefully getting the stitches out today — my back is so irritated that I put hydrocortisone on the itchy skin and pop a Benadryl.
7:15 a.m. — I'm so itchy that I decide not to wear a sports bra on my run. Blargh. I take the dog for a four mile run. It's not so hot in the morning, so the run feels pretty great!
8 a.m. — Shower, swig Soylent, put on white strips, dry my hair. Send work updates to my coworkers on Slack. Brew coffee and make a smoothie for lunch.
10:15 a.m. — Stitches come out!!!!!! YAY! No copay. I never understand my healthcare costs…maybe they'll hit me with a bill later?
11 a.m. — After working from home all morning, J. and I frantically pack everything into the truck and drive to work for the afternoon. We drop the dog off at our friend's house (the one who got in the bike accident). Our friend loves our dog AND we don't pay for doggie daycare — so it's a win-win! I'm starving, so I eat a bunch of dried mango I brought from home.
12 p.m. — Meetings! I drink my smoothie and a LaCroix from our communal fridge.
1:45 p.m. — The coffee I made this morning was a bit weak, so I go up to the coworking space's cafe to grab a coffee and scrounge for string cheese. It's Friday, and they're out of cheese, but I do find a box of fancy kombucha in the community fridge. That plus the coffee should get me through the afternoon.
4 p.m. — Work blows up for J., so instead of heading up to the mountains early, I head over to a local mini-tech-convention (I get a free badge from a coworker) and watch a teammate talk on a panel about our industry. She does great!
5 p.m. — I run out of the panel to the parking garage and pick up yet another LaCroix (I might have a problem), a Smart Snackers pack with almonds and cheese, and a packet of trail mix ($6.13). I pay for parking ($8) and head towards J.'s office. $14.13
5:15 p.m. — Before grabbing J., I swing by a local climbing shop to grab a stick clip — a tool to prevent falling to the ground on a climb before you have any protection in the rock. The place we're going to this weekend has many high/sketchy first bolts, so we're both stoked to have stick clips, but the only one the store has in stock is $75 (super long and very lightweight). I call J. to make sure we want to spend $75 on something most people make out of some cobbled together implements from a hardware store and he says yes. He even goes as far to say that he'll Venmo me for the entire cost. Alas, I put it on our shared card. $37.50 (for my half)
5:30 p.m. — Grab J. and go to our friend's house to grab the dog. Then we swing by grocery store and get peaches, dried mangos, a jar of Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter (J. hates nuts so this is definitely just for me), fancy organic jelly beans (sorry to my dentist who I'm seeing next week!), chocolate covered pretzels (J.'s favorite), Annie's white cheddar mac and cheese, bell peppers, Builder's Bars, fruit bars, Nut Thins, a bottle of cold chai, and some Babybel snacking cheese. Also some grocery store sushi for dinner. Total is $71.11, but we split it. $35.55
6 p.m. — J. runs to the liquor store for beer while I run to the pharmacy to pick up anti-scarring cream that my doctor recommended. It's expensive, but I buy it anyway. Later I realize I can't use it until my back wounds fully close. $28.29
6:15 p.m. — We're finally on the road!
8:15 p.m. — More than halfway there. We stop for gas, and it's my turn to fill up. We take turns driving. $44.81
9:45 p.m. — We arrive at the camp, though we're right at the end of our super intense sci-fi audiobook and have a hard time turning it off. Camp is surrounded by beautiful limestone cliffs under a dark sky, far enough from anything that you can see the Milky Way. There's a fire ban, so we gather at the tailgate of our friends' truck and drink a beer before bed.
Daily Total: $160.28

Day Four

8 a.m. — Sleep in! Roll out of bed. Make coffee and oatmeal with blueberries and raspberries for breakfast.
9:45 a.m. — Do some climbing, snack on cheese and nuts, and chat with other climbers. Our dog makes friends with another dog. Life is good.
1 p.m. — Saunter back to camp and make lunch. J. makes a caprese sandwich, and I make caprese salad. We have chai leftover from yesterday, so we combine it with the cold brew coffee and have a bit before climbing again.
2 p.m. — Hike a bit further out to climb, and I try some harder stuff that I try to complete without falling, but alas I don't succeed. J. pushes me to try it a second time, which I appreciate.
6 p.m. — We climb until it starts pouring rain, and we hustle back to camp. Our two friends have returned from their fishing adventure, and we all pile into the back of their truck and drink beers while waiting for the rain to stop. We share our chocolate covered pretzels.
7:40 p.m. — The rain stops momentarily, and we realize we've all brought mac and cheese with various fixings for dinner, so we decide to divide and conquer. Our friends contribute asparagus and a tomato which I sauté in oil along with our bell peppers and leftover basil. J. and I contribute hot Italian elk sausage from the elk we shot last year. J. and I hunt (I got him into hunting), and we've hunted three years in a row since moving to Colorado. We both shot the elk at the same time, but one of us missed, and we'll never know who! We packed the elk (over 200 pounds of meat in three separate trips back to our car) and took it to a processor that turned it into burger, sausage, roasts, and steaks (this cost us about $400-500). We don't really buy meat at the store anymore, and one elk has lasted us a whole year. We love feeding our friends, and hunting has become a big part of that.
8 p.m. — It starts pouring rain right as we finish cooking dinner, so we assemble a large tent and eat our elk sausage-bell pepper-tomato-asparagus mac and cheese inside the tent. It's amazing. We drink beers and eat cookies somebody has brought. Eventually the rain stops again, and we go outside and drink beers before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — I slept terribly! The rain was on and off all night and the beers and heavy dinner made my stomach super grumbly. We climb out of bed and everything is muddy and wet. Our friends decide to take off early to go to town for brunch, but J. and I have faith that the cliffs will dry out and we'll still be able to climb today. We discover we didn't properly put away a bunch of stuff, so our rope, climbing shoes, and guidebook are all soaked. Also in our drunken stupor last night we forgot to put the dog's food in the truck, and an animal has carried it off. Doh! We feed the dog a breakfast of many dog treats. We make coffee and oatmeal with peaches, blueberries, and raspberries.
10 a.m. — I'm not feeling great — probably a hangover, but we decide it's dry enough to climb, so we do! The sun is out and the valley is beautiful. Climbing this morning is hard. I'm having a high-gravity day.
2 p.m. — Lunchtime! Caprese sammy for J. and a caprese salad for me. Then we climb a bit more. J. is climbing strong, and it's equal parts hot and intimidating. The crag clears out of people, so we get down in a dry stream bed underneath a dried up waterfall of lichen-covered rocks and beautiful water-slick stones.
6 p.m. — We pack up camp and head home. What a great weekend!
6:15 p.m. — The dog is crying, so we swing by a gas station as soon as we're back in civilization and buy a can of dog food ($1.41). She wolfs it down in less than a minute and immediately passes out in the back for the drive home. Her farts for the rest of the night are toxic. $1.41
8:15 p.m. — We stop halfway and grab a quick dinner at Qdoba. J. gets a burrito and I get a mini burrito bowl with chicken and brown rice. J. pays for mine while I run to the bathroom to wash my hands. My stomach is still feeling off, so I eat about two thirds of my bowl and run across the street to Walgreens to pick up hydrogen peroxide, smaller bandaids (both for my back), and a sparking water. Really I want a Coke since it's my turn to drive, but all they have are 16 ounce cans and that is too much pop/sugar. $7.81
10 p.m. — Get home, unpack, shower.
11 p.m. — Take care of wedding chores. First check RSVPs — now we're only waiting on nine people out of 150. Then we send a $5,000 deposit to our venue. They say they'll just hang on to the check until after the wedding and then just give the check back to us so long as we don't damage anything. Finally (this was my bad), I ordered the wrong sunglasses with our initials on one side ($350 for 150 pairs) for the party guests, and they're not even salvageable, so I email the company and see if we can get the right sunglasses. Fingers crossed! $5,000
12:30 a.m. — Bed. Can't turn my brain off and it takes forever to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $5,009.22

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Wake up late. J. informs me that a test we sent in a few weeks ago confirms we have lead in our water. After some desperate Googling, we find out we're within a safe range, but decide to put a filter on the kitchen tap.
8 a.m. — Check calendar, emails, and Slack. Paypal a close friend for housing at her wedding at a Buddhist retreat center in two months. Then I look at flights. Sunday night flights from San Francisco back home to Denver are expensive. I send options to J., indicating my preference would be to fly out early Monday morning and get in a full day of surfing on the Sunday after their wedding. Then I throw on white strips and prep a breakfast smoothie for later. $90
9:30 a.m. — Drink a Soylent and drop dog off at doggie daycare ($31, split). Bike downtown to the coworking space and grab a coffee from the community kitchen. $15.50
1:15 p.m. — I have a candidate interview that goes long, and afterwards I inhale my lunch smoothie and two string cheeses. J. and I send out wedding emails (to our planner, the venue, the shuttle service, and our amazing friend who is DJ-ing for free).
2:30 p.m. — Bike to my favorite coffee shop in the city. Grab a kombucha ($4) and tip ($1). My coworker and I meet with another candidate. We also plan to have a team dinner with our S.O.s at my house next week while our boss is in town. (I ask J. over Gchat if he will cook elk burgers and he obliges.) Bike back home and by the time I pick up the dog, I am sweaty and a mess in black jeans (wrong pant choice!). I eat the last Babybel snack cheese from our camping weekend. $5
4:50 p.m. — I'm feeling behind on work from all of these meetings so I decide to spend the evening in to get ahead on the week and on this project. If the temperature cools off, maybe I'll find some motivation for a run later. Eat the remains of the tuna from last week and snacks from our climbing trip. J. messages me that he's drinking a Soylent on the bus, and it's “super gross.”
7:30 p.m. — I take a break and make a layout of wedding tables and guests while eating a few camping jelly beans. I put the guests on little Post-It notes and move them all around until the arrangement makes sense. Our singles table is epic! I send a picture of my handiwork to a group chat I'm on with eight of my closest friends from our wild 20s. They text back that they want to see photos of everyone at the singles table, so I oblige. There's a reason it's called Men-ver!
8:30 p.m. — I decide not to run tonight and dive back into work-work. I'm frustrated I still haven't heard from the sunglasses company.
11 p.m. — J. wants my help picking out his ring. He's literally reading articles on the differences between 9ct and 14ct gold. Just pick something already! I'm paying for it, since he paid for my ring. The ring he picks is nice — it's a thick gold band with two little stylized trees on it (~$450). It looks like it's made-to-order from New Zealand though, so I send a message to the Etsy store owners to see if they can get it to us in time before buying it. I plan to secretly get goofy country song lyrics engraved on it.
Daily Total: $110.50

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Wake up to an excruciating kink in my shoulder from an old injury. It must be irritated from climbing. I wake up, pop three ibuprofen, and try to use the foam roller to roll it out and calm it down to no avail. I take a hot shower and lay in bed cuddling the dog, hoping it will loosen up so I can start my day. I read work proposals from bed and answer some emails.
8 a.m. — I get out of bed, make coffee, and walk the dog. My shoulder is still cranky, so I make a mental note to go to the walk-in chiropractor tomorrow in the town where J. and I both have offices/kickball.
9 a.m. — I swig down a Soylent. I can't deal with this shoulder pain and can barely turn my head, so I find somebody local to adjust/needle/massage. I've had an MRI (clear), been to PT, and consulted with three different doctors for this shoulder pain, and I thought I finally had it under control. I work while listening to our company-wide town hall, counting down the minutes until my chiro appointment.
11 a.m. — Head to the chiropractor. He adjusts me, but it doesn't make the pain go away completely. He confirms that my rib is “out” again (same problem from a year ago). I'm frustrated, but this guy seems to have a plan and his patient reviews online are awesome, so I try to trust the process and I schedule another visit along with a massage for Friday. Pay the copay. I wanted to grocery shop today, but I have too many meetings and too much to do, so I'll live on whatever's left in the house. When I get home, I have two spoonfuls of the almond butter I bought on Friday. $30
2:18 p.m. — My shoulder hurts. It's hard to focus on this three hour meeting. I end up grazing on cheese and gummy bears.
4 p.m. — Pain has eased a bit, so I make a smoothie. I throw in spinach, blueberries, mangos, green superfood, green superfood protein, chia seeds, flax seeds, and strawberries. I chug it and then run the dog to the park, about 3.5 miles.
7:17 p.m. — I do a bit of watercolor painting (top secret wedding project for J.). We touch base while he commutes home. He isn't feeling great. Neither am I. We have concert tickets for tonight that we bought a few weeks ago (CHVRCHES! soooo good) but neither of us wants to go, so I try to unload them on facebook. I sell them for face value minus fees, and the buyer Venmos me $75. I feel so old and lame for bailing on this concert!
8:30 p.m. — I notice a bill on my desk that I've been meaning to pay from a colonoscopy that I had back in March for the anesthesia. I had three pre-cancerous polyps found in my colon a few years ago, so I get regular colonoscopies. Between my history and my family's history, I have to be up on my colon health! $30
9 p.m. — I feel like crud, but I will myself to go the grocery store. I get blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, peaches, lemons, dried mango, mixed greens, almond milk, fancy tuna in olive oil, campari tomatoes (it takes roughly one to two weeks for these to get ripe, so I always buy them to have on hand like the good little Italian that I am), coffee, and four boxes of LaCroix. Plus chicken ramen to cook up when I get home. $76.84
9:48 p.m. — My new sheets arrived today and are freshly washed, so I put them on the bed. Then I crawl into bed with J. and the dog. We both agree these fancy new sheets are really nice, and we promptly christen them.
Daily Total: $136.84
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.
Also, wedding season is upon us, and we want to know: If you think it's okay to give money as a gift, how much is the right amount of cash? Fill out this form for a chance to be featured on the site!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series