A Week In Houston, TX, On A $47,000 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 marketing specialist who makes $47,000 per year, and spends some of her paycheck on a tie and hookah.
Occupation: Marketing Specialist
Industry: Finance
Age: 21
Location: Houston, TX
Salary: $47,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,545
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $0. I live at home with my parents, sister, and dog.
Car Note: $300/month
Car Insurance: $650/year
Student Loans: $0. No loans thanks to my generous parents.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Yoga: $65
Spin Package: $70
Phone: $0; I'm on my parents' plan.
Children's Orphanage & Catholic Charities: $55
Apple Storage: $1
Ipsy: I got my subscription as a gift!
Spotify: On my family friend's family plan. (They're a family of four and the family plan allows five accounts.)
Insurance: $32 for vision, dental, medical, short-term and long-term disability
401(k): My company will start contributing 3% now that I've worked here six months, and I have about $850 from an internship saved into another 401(k) account. I need to figure out how to manage these.
Savings: $1,545. I pretend that I only get paid once a month and put every other paycheck into savings. I want to buy my own house and hope to accomplish that by my 23rd birthday. I use the other paycheck for all my expenses, and save whatever remains (I aim for at least $200/month) into another savings account that I'm keeping for travel.

Day One

7 a.m. — One of my worst habits and best talents is my ability to calculate exactly how much time I need to get somewhere, and then take advantage of it by waiting until the last minute to get ready. This is exemplified by me waking up at 7, having to be at work by 8, and having a 30-minute commute. I feel like a tornado, running around getting ready and packing my things, but it's worth the extra sleep.
8:15 a.m. — I get to work just in time and make oatmeal in the kitchen. Oatmeal is such a sad breakfast, but it's cheap, easy, and healthy, so I've eaten it almost every day since I started working full time.
12 p.m. — I am starving! I walk to the Subway close to my office for a meatball marinara; they're only $2 this month! Unfortunately, they are out of meatballs, so I get a cold-cut combo for the same price. I run into a girl I knew in college and can't remember her name for the life of me, but she remembers mine and we make small talk in the line. $2
1 p.m. — One of my coworkers has a buy-one, get-one-free coupon at Chipotle and I go with her to split it. I already ate, but I'll keep this in the fridge for future lunches. I usually get a salad base at Chipotle, but they're out of salad. Secretly, I'm not too upset and ask to pile on rice. My coworker pays since I paid last time we split.
2 p.m. — My company's Christmas party is this Saturday and we get to invite plus ones. I'm as single as can be, so I've asked my guy BFF to come with me, as I know he'll be great company. I want to get him a tie to match my dress as a "Thanks for coming" Christmas gift. I tried ordering the tie online to pick it up in-store a few days ago, but there were lots of issues. I'm trying to buy it again. I also get a pair of leggings for myself. $52
4:45 p.m. — I sneak out of work a little early to make it to a yoga class I really like. It starts at 5, and according to my calculations, 17 minutes is the exact amount of time I need to get to my car, drive to the studio, park, change into workout clothes, and set up my mat. I finish the class as a sweaty mess and head home.
7:30 p.m. — I shower and get ready to meet some of my girlfriends. We're going to River Oaks to see the multimillion dollar houses all lit up for Christmas. I fry some eggs and eat them quickly to avoid spending money later in the evening. One of the friends I'm meeting works at a shoe store and bought a pair of shoes for me with her discount. The shoes are $30, but I only have $10 in cash. I take a $20 bill from my mom to give to my friend. $10
9 p.m. — The lights are gorgeous! I dream of owning a home in this ZIP code one day. We go to a hookah bar after to eat and smoke shisha. The fried eggs don't hold me and I order a Greek salad ($5), a bottle of water ($1 — it sucks how hookah bars always charge for water), and pay my portion of the hookah. $18
Daily Total: $82

Day Two

7 a.m. — In tornado mode. I rush through my skincare routine: Juice Beauty cleanser, Foreo Play brush, and The Ordinary squalane serum and sunscreen.
8:30 a.m. — One of my vendors is hosting a Christmas luncheon, and in an effort to save my appetite, I sub my oatmeal for a square of chocolate one of my coworkers brought from a weekend trip out of state.
10 a.m. — Turns out that chocolate is not a good substitute for breakfast. (Or at least a small piece isn't.) But I'm too busy finishing things before the luncheon to eat anything else.
12 p.m. — The luncheon is great! I grab chicken piccata, ravioli, bread, and salad. I'm disappointed in the dessert though; it's cheesecake, but tastes frozen. I eat one bite and leave the rest.
2 p.m. — A client delivers cupcakes from one of my favorite bakeries to the office! I eat a chocolate one at my desk.
5 p.m. — I leave work and head to a 5:30 p.m. flow class. I get such cheap yoga because I'm still cruising on my student membership from when I signed up in college. I can justify that because I'm still college-aged, and I've referred lots of friends to my studio, right...?
7 p.m. — I head to the mall to sort out the tie situation, and much to my annoyance, no mall in my area has the tie I want! I'm frustrated because there are several charges on my card and no tie in my hands. I cancel the leggings and the tie I ordered and plot another way to get it in time for the party. I kick myself for not ordering it earlier.
8 p.m. — On my way home, my mom calls and asks me to pick up a tray of biriyani and to withdraw $70 to pay for it. She tells me the place is close to home, but when I look it up, it's 10 miles away! I'm already annoyed at having to deal with this after the tie mishap, and when I get to the ATM, I have to withdraw in increments of $20. When I pick the food up, it turns out the total is only $60. I head home and eat a little of the biryani. It's too oily and spicy for my liking, plus I'm not that hungry after my heavy lunch. My mom gives me $70 later, but I only take $40 since the dish was $60 and I took money from her yesterday to buy my shoes. She would never ask me to pay her back, but I'm trying to get out of my high school and college ways and be an adult. Normally, I wouldn't take any money back from her at all for something like this, but this month is tough with gifts and holiday stuff, so I accept.
10:30 p.m. — I've become a bit of a grandma since I started working. I shower, complete my night time skin care with the addition of the Aztec clay mask, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I'm at work and go to make my oatmeal, but I only have a quarter-cup left! I supplement it with apple pie we have in the fridge at work just because.
12 p.m. — Our building is providing catered food for all the tenants today! A group of coworkers and I head downstairs for free tamales, rice, beans, nachos, and cookies. While we're there, they try to grill me about the upcoming Christmas party. I'm in charge of planning it and I made the event semi-formal, and they're annoyed about it. Oh well! I want it to be an elegant affair. When they're in charge of the party, they can decide the dress code, too.
12:30 p.m. — After eating quickly and taking a phone call, I go to a nail salon near my office. I'm also due for a pedicure, but my dad accidentally charged $250 to my card on Amazon and I'm trying to be mindful of my expenses to offset that. I contemplate paying with cash I have from earlier, but since I asked Shoe Friend to order two more pairs for me with her discount, I save it for when I'll need to pay her back. $14
5:15 p.m. — This is turning out to be an expensive day! I stop at Costco to fill up on gas before my flow yoga class at 6. $25
7:15 p.m. — I'm supposed to meet two friends from college for dinner. We haven't seen each other since the summer, and as the time to meet draws nearer, I remember why. They both flake, individually, when I'm already at the burger joint. I am so annoyed; flaking is my biggest pet peeve. I vow to never make plans with them again — some people aren't worth bending over backwards for. I still go inside and order a burger because I've been wanting to try this place for a while and I'm hungry. $6
8 p.m. — Instead of waiting until tomorrow at lunch to look for the tie again, I decide to go right now. When I get to the Macy's, they tell me they have ONE LEFT! The sales associates says it isn't worth hunting down at this location, though, and suggest that I go to their Woodlands location 60 miles away, where there are four left. I plead to St. Anthony as I search through the tie racks. I find a few good backups, but not the one I want. Being my usual stubborn self, I decide to put them back in the tie section where they belong, and I find the last tie! I am thrilled — and I end up getting a discount because of all the cancelations on Macy's part. $24
10 p.m. — Finally get home. Finding the tie offsets my annoyance with my flaky friends. I guess everything happens for a reason. I hang out with my parents for a bit, then do my nighttime skincare routine and go to bed.
Daily Total: $69

Day Four

7:10 a.m. — I wake up a little later that I should. As usual, I rush get myself to work on time.
8:30 a.m. — Refill my oatmeal container with a giant packet from Costco and eat at my desk.
12 p.m. — I finally eat my Chipotle! It's still yummy. When I finish, I go to World Market to look for Christmas crackers to leave on guests' chairs as party favors at Christmas party. I don't find any, but I do get a holiday card for my boss. Next, I go to Walmart to look for the crackers, and of course they don't have them either. I am so over going to multiple places to find what I'm looking for! $5
4 p.m. — I leave work a little early to go to a networking event. I eat mini-chicken skewers and meatballs. Everything is well-planned and I meet tons of people.
7:30 p.m. — I planned to get my legs waxed after the event, but I stayed way longer than I intended and the salon is closed; that means tomorrow will be a very tight day. On my way home, I stop at a specialty store and finally find the crackers! They are WAY overpriced, even with a 20% off coupon, but I'm desperate and know I can expense them. During the drive home, I realize I left my outer jacket at the event. Ugh ... not the best way to make a good impression. I brainstorm ways to fit in picking it up tomorrow into my schedule. ($52, expensed)
8:30 p.m. — I go to the gym for a 45-minute workout. I'm religious about my yoga practice and try to go every weekday as the studio is close to my office, but not my house. I spend 25 minutes on the elliptical and then do an arm circuit.
10 p.m. — I shower and get ready for a dinner that a friend who graduated from college today is having. I missed the ceremony because of my networking event, but I promised to make it for this. The restaurant is 20 miles away and I regret saying yes, but in light of getting flaked on yesterday, I drag my exhausted self over.
12 a.m. — The dinner ends up being a good time, and the family of the graduate pays. As I leave the restaurant, one of my besties texts to say she saw my Snapchat at the restaurant and is at a hookah bar down the street! I'm beyond tired, but she's leaving to visit family tomorrow and I won't see her until the new year, so I go and hang out for about an hour. When the check comes, I offer to pitch in with the other four girls even though I was late and barely smoked. They're still students, and it's just a few bucks. No big deal. $6
1:30 a.m. — Finally home! I wash off my makeup and do a quick brightening treatment before jumping into bed. I don't want my skin to look dull after this long day. Thank god tomorrow is Friday and traffic won't be so bad. According to my calculations, I can afford to sleep in until 7:15, as opposed to my usual 7. Small mercies.
Daily Total: $11

Day Five

8 a.m. — I'm the first one on my side of the office! I leisurely eat my oatmeal and read the news at my desk.
11:15 a.m. — I usually bring lunch from home every day, but this week has been an unusual one with tons of free food. I decide to continue the trend of eating outside food and get a meatball marinara from Subway. I usually eat closer to 1, but I haven't replenished my stock of office snacks, since doing so seemed pointless with the holidays right around the corner. $2
12:30 p.m. — I take my lunch break and pick up my jacket, which I thoughtlessly left behind last night. After, I have about 20 minutes left on my break, so I take a quick nap in my car. It's probably not the best habit, but sometimes when I'm really tired, I'll take a power nap in the garage. A year ago, I could go out all night and still function normally at work. Now, going to sleep after midnight turns me into a zombie the next day.
5 p.m. — I wanted to leave work a little early to have time to get ready for the evening, but my boss needs me to take care of something at half-past 4. When I finish, I leave the office and go to the salon for my waxing appointment.
6:30 p.m. — I started coming to this salon when they first opened and used an introductory Groupon. The owner continued to give me the Groupon rate even after the promotion ended, so I get my arms, legs, and Brazilian done for just $65 — including tip. I go home to shower off the stickiness and help my parents put up more Christmas decorations before I get ready. $65
9 p.m. — My girlfriend picks me up and we leave for her company Christmas party. She works at a Big Four firm, and their party is a grand affair with 3,000 people. They rent out the entire Museum of Natural Science, and there's a lot of booze, snacks, and exhibits to look at. A group of us have a blast taking pictures and indulging.
12:30 a.m. — After the party, we go out for dessert to The Chocolate Bar. I try to pay, but my "date" and our other friend insist I'm their guest and pay for the ice creams and milkshakes. On the way out, I buy a box of chocolate covered strawberries for my mom to offer the guests she's having over this weekend. Boxes are half-off after 8 p.m., so it's a good deal. $5
1:45 a.m. — Finally home! I take off my makeup and fall asleep right away.
Daily Total: $72

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up a little earlier than I need to for my spin class. (They had a Black Friday sale, so this class is paid for.) Joke's on me though: Even though I woke up early, I only get to the studio right as class starts and don't have time to fill my water bottle. I always think it's so wasteful when other people spend money on water at gyms, but here I am in the same situation! My shoes are $2 and so is the water bottle. $4
12 p.m. — One of my best friends and I grab lunch at our favorite Thai place. I remember to bring my metal straws and we both drink water and get red curry. When the check comes, we both argue about who will pick it up and settle on splitting. This friend and I frequently pay for each other and never worry about paying the other back; it always comes out even in the end. $13
1:30 p.m. — I get home, prep my skin with a sheet mask, and then start straightening my hair. I can't believe my Christmas party is tonight! The cleaning lady is here, so I put away my laundry and tidy up a bit so she can vacuum the floor.
4 p.m. — I go to a friend's house to have her do my makeup. I swear, she could be a real makeup artist. She does a brown and gold smoky eye with nude lips that goes well with my dress.
5:20 p.m. — Of course, I end up running late. I meet my friend at Kroger. We try to buy balloons, but it takes too long. I keep calm and call Party City to place an order for immediate pick up.
5:45 p.m. — I finally have my ball0ons! I'm running VERY late, as I wanted to arrive by 5:45 to set everything up (the event starts at 6:15), but looks like I'll be right on time instead. I hope no one is there yet. ($17, expensed)
6:10 p.m. — Ah — people are already there! I run in with my hands full of balloons and table decorations. I ignore everyone's offers to help and have my friend set up things on one end of the table, while I do the other side. I scatter the balloons around as much as I can before the rest of the guests arrive.
6:45 p.m. — Finally, I start to relax. People are in love with the setup and I'm already getting compliments about the venue and food choices.
7:30 p.m. — I arranged to have a wine tasting before dinner. Everyone gets an individual charcuterie plate and wine flight, and they're very impressed! We have dinner from a pre-fixe menu; I order the caprese salad, short rib and mashed potatoes, and for dessert, we all have French truffles with prosecco.
10:30 p.m. — I talk with the staff and get the check to my boss, who pays for the evening. They made a mistake initially and I caught it, despite being tipsy. I wish my boss knew that! He seems super happy with everything, so I leave the venue feeling great. My friend and I consider going to Discovery Green to see the lights, but we decided it's too cold and he drives me home instead.
11:30 p.m. — I go home and sadly wash off my makeup. Wish I could keep it on forever! I jump into bed and fall asleep right away.
Daily Total: $17

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — So tired still but I need to get up and help my mom get things ready for her guests.
12:30 p.m. — Guests have started coming, but my dad wants more soda, so he sends me to Kroger for Coke, Sprite, tonic water, and two avocados for my mom. I see blueberries on sale so I grab two cartons. I'll have to remember to take them to work with me tomorrow. $10
1:30 p.m. — Dad gets nervous about us running out of beer, and sends me out again. I still get a thrill out of buying alcohol and showing my ID, even though I've been 21 for a while now. I did not realize beer was so expensive. I get a 12-pack of Stella and head home. $18
4:45 p.m. — The party went well! A lot of our guests leave to go to church or get started on the week ahead. My family and I head to church, too.
7 p.m. — There were only nine strawberries in the box I got yesterday so my mom didn't put them out. I eat a few before showering and doing a deep-cleaning skincare routine to compensate for all the makeup and lack of sleep I've put my skin through this weekend.
10:30 p.m. — I pack clothes to change into tomorrow (after work, I'm going to a Rockets game) and remind myself to withdraw money at lunch to pay my friend back for my ticket. After such a hectic weekend of back to back-to-back parties and outings, I'm pooped. I watch a little Netflix while my essential oil diffuser is on, and fall asleep, dreaming of the PTO I have planned in the weeks ahead.
Daily Total: $28
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