A Week In Louisville, KY, On A $32,000 Salary

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Ahead of World Teachers' Day on October 5, Refinery29 is publishing a special theme week of Money Diaries, featuring teachers from across America. Today, we have a teacher who makes $32,000 per year and spent some of her back-to-school money this season on Post-it notes. We asked the OP some questions regarding her back-to-school spending, and here's what she had to say:
"My school provides materials (pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, etc.) for all students. Also, we have a set budget that teachers can use for various needs (field trips, books, etc.) throughout the school year. My co-teacher and I bought some items out-of-pocket this year, but they were pre-approved at the end of last school year and we were reimbursed. In the past, I worked at a school where I was expected to supply all the classroom and learning materials, and I easily spent thousands of dollars, most of which went on my credit card. I'm extremely grateful that my current teaching position supplies classroom materials. For my personal classroom use, I bought a notebook, a packet of Post-its, and binder dividers, which cost me around $8.
"Additionally, my 14-year-old car died a week before school started. Thankfully, I found a year-old used car with low mileage, and I purchased it via an $845 down payment and a low-interest car loan (thank you, good credit!). With the down payment, loan, and license and registration fees, I paid around $11,000, which was definitely my most expensive and stressful back-to-school shopping purchase yet!
"My absolute favorite part about being a teacher is seeing students continually try to grasp a new social skill or educational concept until, suddenly, something clicks. That click is such a humbling thing to witness, especially because each student is different. Learning is a process and not an outcome. Also, and this is selfish (and cheesy) of me, but it's the truth: teaching has made me a better listener, communicator, and learner. My days are always different and while some are more difficult than others, I always learn something. It's a constant puzzle each day. I really have become a better person because of the education I've received from teaching."
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 32
Location: Louisville, KY
Salary: $32,000
Paycheck Amount (Bimonthly): $916.16
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $625 (I live alone in a one-bedroom apartment, but will be moving in with my boyfriend when my lease is up later this year.)
Student Loan Payment: $137.52 (I'm on the income-driven repayment plan. I have about $150,000 in federal grad school loans.)
Utilities: $60-$90 (depends on the season)
Internet: $40 (split evenly with my downstairs neighbor)
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $47
Phone: $0 (Thanks, Mom and Dad! My parents refuse to let me pay for my phone. It's only $36 a month on their plan, and they're okay with covering that expense.)
401(k): $275, matched by my employer
Car Insurance: $70
Car Loan: $178
Credit Card: $0 (I just finished paying off my credit cards! It's a relief to be free of that debt!)
Therapy: $60 (total copays for two visits per month)
Hubble Contacts & Dollar Shave Club: $36
Savings: $25-$50
Netflix & Hulu: $10.99 (I share with my parents.)
Amazon Prime Membership: $13.57

Day One

10:30 a.m. — I never sleep this late. My boyfriend, D., and I went bar hopping last night, and, surprisingly, despite the copious amount of bourbon cocktails (it's Kentucky, y'all!), neither one of us feels hungover. However, we're starving. D. chills with my cat while I listen to an episode of FoodStuff and make us chai espresso tea, over-easy eggs, and rye toast with butter. We also split a red grapefruit. I douse my eggs in Tapatio sauce, which is my current hot sauce obsession. D. washes the dishes (we trade off cooking and cleaning), and then we rest on the couch to digest and scroll aimlessly through the news.
11:30 a.m. — D. leaves so I can get ready for my therapy appointment, grocery shopping, and grading. I receive snuggles from my large, affectionate orange tabby. I've had him for 11 years, and he's totally spoiled.
12:15 p.m. — After a quick shower, I slather on my topical rosacea medicine and SPF 70. Then I take my maintenance inhaler and prescription nasal spray (allergies and asthma for the win!), brush my teeth, put in my contacts, and get dressed. Before heading out, I fill a reusable water bottle. I always have a water bottle with me and I consistently drink water throughout the day.
12:35 p.m. — I notice my gas is at a quarter of a tank, so I stop at a Kroger gas station on my way to my appointment. My new car is very good on gas and it doesn't cost much to fill, which is such a nice change after driving a gas-guzzling beast for years. I save 10 cents with my Kroger fuel points. $17.77
2 p.m. — My therapy appointment is done, and I leave feeling relieved. I started my current teaching position a year ago and while it's rewarding, it's been a source of anxiety for me. Also, some aspects of the job are difficult for me due to my ADHD, particularly because I don't take meds anymore since they make me feel icky. I pay my copay, and we set another appointment for September. Checking in helps me stay grounded, manage my ADHD and anxiety, and remember to care for myself.
2:15 p.m. — My stomach is growling so loudly that I think people in surrounding cars can hear it, so I swing into Whole Foods and make a gigantic salad of red leaf lettuce, peppers, red onions, cucumbers, Kalamata olives, edamame, garlicky kale, and a side of avocado vinaigrette dressing. I estimate that the vegetable monstrosity will be over $10, but I'm pleasantly surprised to see it's less than that amount! I fill a cup with water from the water fountain and down the salad in a few minutes. $6.95
2:30 p.m. — I text D. once I'm back at my place, and we make plans to meet up at his apartment to swim because his complex has a pool. I slather myself in SPF 70, change into my suit, throw on running shorts and a tank top, grab my towel, and head out. We enjoy the the pool for a few hours before D. decides to head out because his rec team has a volleyball game. As a former competitive swimmer (I swam through college), I could stay in the water all day, but I need to go home and complete work for the upcoming week. I change in D.'s apartment before leaving.
4:45 p.m. — I stop at the Kroger on my way home from D.'s to buy bananas, frozen stew vegetables, frozen broccoli, and classic hummus. I purchased a lot of groceries last week, so this haul is just the basics to get me through the week. $7.69
5:45 p.m. — Once home, I make a soup with Trader Joe's Latin Style Black Bean soup as a base and I add frozen corn and half a bag of the stew vegetables. The soup will be my work lunch for the week. While everything is cooking, I heat up half a falafel sandwich leftover from lunch yesterday. I smother it in a mix of vegan mayo and Sriracha and dive in. Because I'm going to D.'s tonight, I pack my lunch (the soup, Trader Joe's Multigrain Pita Chips, and a clementine). Also, I pack my travel coffee mug and a reusable water bottle in my work bag for tomorrow. I'll pack my clothes later.
6:15 p.m. — I grade short reading comprehension assignments for my ninth grade English class. We've only been in school for a week, so I use the assignment as a baseline. I make notes on a few students who seem to have struggled, but everyone performs well overall. After recording the grades, I check and write work emails, create a homework assignment, and post it to the Google Classroom. I loosely plan a lesson for later in the week because I don't have the brain power to deep-dive into it just yet. Also, I send myself a reminder email for tomorrow morning and update my various Google Keep to-do lists. It looks like the upcoming work week is going to be non-stop...
8 p.m. — I take a break from work to shower off the chlorine and pack a bag to head over to D.'s. Before leaving, I fill the cat's auto feeder and water bowl, run the dishwasher, and take out the trash.
8:15 p.m. — D. and I watch The Emperor's New Groove and giggle like small children. I feel super dehydrated despite all the water I drank, so I dilute a Gatorade with water. We go onto the balcony to watch a meteor shower, but it's too bright (boo, city living!). Before bed, I wash my face with prescription rosacea face wash, slather on topical cream and face lotion, take out my contacts, take my maintenance inhaler, and floss and brush my teeth. I'm asleep within minutes.
Daily Total: $32.41

Day Two

6 a.m. — Ugh. Monday morning. While D. stays in bed, I pull myself out of a blanket cocoon. I usually prepare for workdays the night before, so my morning routine is pretty basic: dress, maintenance inhaler and prescription nasal spray, brush teeth, put in contacts, apply topical cream and SPF 70, and put on makeup (just under-eye concealer because I perpetually look like I was punched, eye shadow, and mascara). For breakfast, I down a glass of water and eat two pieces of Trader Joe's 7-Grain Bread with unsalted creamy almond butter and a small banana. I leave coffee and a short note for D. before heading out with my travel mug, reusable water bottle, lunch, and work bag. I live in Kentucky but work in Indiana, so I usually try to leave early enough to beat traffic. This morning, though, I have to print packets for my English class, so I need be at school before all the other teachers monopolize the printers in the staff room.
7:30 a.m. — At work, I fight with the printer. It eats paper and jams. I respond with some choice words. Finally, all my copies are made and I rush to the morning car line. Outside, I chug the rest of my coffee and cheerily greet sleepy teenagers. A coworker sings Neil Diamond, and I whistle along. The teenagers keep their distance.
10:45 a.m. — My English class lesson went smoothly. I chat with my co-teacher about our plans for our classes the rest of the week. When I return to my home base, I check in with a few students to see what they're working on for the day. My school is a non-traditional school (project-based learning and co-teacher model, among other aspects), so our setup is different from most public schools, and we have a lot of students with learning and behavioral challenges that need consistent check-ins. Theater auditions are later in the school day, so anxiety levels have skyrocketed among a number of students. A few students and I discuss how to ease their nerves, and I read through lines with one, which is a fabulous reminder that acting is not a strength of mine. The student, however, performs flawlessly.
11:45 a.m. — Lunch! I eat the lunch I packed and chat with my coworkers in the break room. D. and I text about our days. One coworker loses a tooth, chaos ensues as another coworker fishes in her mouth to help, and I try not to react too viscerally. There's something about loose and missing teeth that I just can't stomach...
4:30 p.m. — The rest of the school day flies by, and I take quiet time after hours to grade a writing prompt that was due today. I make copies for a few students who'll need to redo theirs, and I email their disability aids to communicate the need for extra support. Additionally, I email a school psychologist about a student whose mental health is a concern. I chat with my home base co-teacher about her day before saying goodbye to her and the class chinchilla, a curmudgeon who occasionally is a love bug.
5:15 p.m. — I call my sister on the way home using my car's built-in Bluetooth for the first time. I drove my last car until it died, so my new car's features are so exciting for me. My sister updates me on how my niece is adjusting to daycare. Amazingly, I don't get stuck in traffic, and I make it home at a decent time. After unpacking my work bag and changing as soon as possible into comfy clothes, I inhale a piece of toasted rye bread with the remaining portion of Trader Joe's Three Layer Hummus. The cat demands my attention, and I give him cuddles until he decides I'm no longer worthy. Still hungry, I eat multigrain pita chips and wish they were potato chips.
7 p.m. — D. texts and says that his volleyball game is finished, and that he and our mutual couple friends will be at a Tex-Mex place by my apartment. I throw on some running clothes and sprint a little over a mile to meet them. I'm running a 10k soon, so I need to start running more seriously to prepare. I ran consistently this past summer, but since school started, I've fallen out of the habit. I order a huge salad with mango vinaigrette dressing , chips and salsa, and a water while everyone else orders burritos and multiple margaritas. We're at a sidewalk table, so the couple's adorable puppy attracts a ton of attention. D. pays for dinner.
9:15 p.m. — We leave the restaurant and head to D.'s car, but a very large train is stalled on the tracks, effectively blocking the street where D.'s car is parked, the surrounding side streets, and my apartment. We walk away from the restaurant, find a free space to safely cross the tracks, and navigate to D.'s car. There are a few houses for sale, and D. and I casually discuss which neighborhood we'd like to live in one day. Once we're at my place, D. showers while I clean the cat box, take out the kitty poop and pull the trash barrel to the curb for tomorrow's pick up, unload the dishwasher, and pack my lunch for work (black bean and veggie soup that I'll heat in the morning, a clementine, and multigrain pita chips with classic hummus). When D.'s done with the bathroom, I listen to an old True Crime Garage podcast episode while I shower. I'm not feeling tired at all, which is not a good sign for sleeping tonight...
11 p.m. — D. and I go to bed after completing the usual night routine. D. plays on his phone and I read a chapter of Gulp by Mary Roach before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

2:35 a.m. — Great. I'm awake. The anxiety spiral begins...
3:30 a.m. — I drag myself to the couch so my tossing and turning doesn't wake D. The cat is a traitor and stays on the bed with D. instead of joining me.
6:30 a.m. — I begrudgingly pull myself out of bed (stumbled back around 5:30 a.m.) and do my typical morning routine, but I skip the makeup and wear my glasses today because my eyes are too tired for contacts. I heat the soup before ladling it in my thermos, pour coffee and unsweetened vanilla almond milk into my travel mug, and fill my reusable water bottle. I'm starving, so I make a larger weekday breakfast than usual: two fried eggs with Tapatio sauce and two pieces of Trader Joe's 7-Grain Bread with butter all washed down with the remaining half a bottle of Trader Joe's Green Kombucha. It's getting late, so I kiss D. and the cat goodbye before running out the door.
8:45 a.m. — I check in with a few students in the morning, and help one prioritize the day's assignments and another working on an essay for a college application. It's quiet, so I have time to update individual notes to reflect these morning discussions, and to read and respond to emails.
10:45 a.m. — I meet individually with five ninth graders to explain their credit situation for the year, as well as for the remainder of their high school years. We have parent-teacher conferences on Thursday and Friday this week, so I want these students to be prepared for this layout before their parents receive this information, especially because the point of these conferences is to discuss schedules for the year and overall high school credits and graduation plans. I answer a lot of questions, but I feel satisfied that my students understand. Also, I check in with three students who need to redo their English homework, and we outline how to answer the writing prompt. I talk to another student about his plans to complete a graduation portfolio project.
11:45 a.m. — I eat the lunch I packed last night and chat with my coworkers in the break room. Thankfully, no one loses a tooth today.
12:25 p.m. — I meet with disability aids to discuss accommodations. I give them hard copies of tomorrow's English notes and homework, and we discuss parent-teacher conferences. I feel so lucky to have so much support for students with learning and behavioral challenges, so I try to make collaboration as productive and helpful as possible. Back in my home base, I schedule a Google Classroom post about tomorrow's English class times, which are shortened to accommodate the three-day week. Theater callbacks are this afternoon, so anxieties are high again, as are disappointments, and I have a few private conversations to support students. A large portion of the room leaves to attend callbacks, which gives me time to check in with my home base co-teacher. We agree that we're both tired beyond all reason.
3 p.m. — There's a meeting for parents and staff about the new graduation requirements, so I snag a seat in the back. This information, while complicated, isn't new to me, because the staff reviewed everything before the first day of school, but my boss required each staff member attend. Some aspects are complex, so it's a nice clarifier. Halfway through, my lack of sleep hits me, and I struggle to stay awake. A coworker sitting next to me draws cute cartoon animals, which helps keep me focused.
4:10 p.m. — A parent corners me after the meeting and asks questions about the new graduation requirements. My brain is fried, and I nicely try to answer the questions that I can and then direct her toward resources and people who can best help her. A few minutes after she leaves, another coworker and her young daughter come to visit the chinchilla. We feed him a treat, which he snatches and takes into the darkness of his plastic house (#spiritanimal). We chat for a while, they leave, and I straighten the mess of papers on my desk. Somehow, I manage to make it out of the building before anyone else can find me.
5:05 p.m. — I'm almost home when I realize I need to buy cat litter. I stop at the Kroger next to my apartment and grab a small box ($8.29) along with Kettle Salt & Vinegar chips ($2.99). The Kroger parking lot is a hot mess, and it takes me around five minutes to finally exit onto the street. $11.28
6:30 p.m. — After inhaling around half the bag of chips, I feel too lethargic to cook, too unfriendly to venture out into the world, and too cheap to order Postmates, so I microwave Trader Joe's Jackfruit Curry with Jasmine Rice. Normally, frozen meals aren't my go-to, but this one is surprisingly good. I top off my meal with a grapefruit seltzer water. While I eat, I check my personal email and read random online articles. This unwinding time is vital for me and definitely helps me recharge for tomorrow.
8 p.m. — I try to read another chapter of Gulp, but I'm too tired. Instead, I watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Hulu only to quickly discover that the show is just as terrifying as it was when I was a child. To feel better, I force the cat to snuggle with me.
9:35 p.m. — I pry myself off the couch, set the coffee pot for tomorrow morning, and pack my lunch (the same as the past two days). Feeling as though I may want to sleep in, I prepare overnight oats with rolled oats, Aria protein powder, flaxseed powder, cinnamon, banana, and unsweetened almond milk. After food prep, I take a shower while listening to an episode of The Generation Why Podcast.
10:15 p.m. — I am SO excited for bed! However, I binged too hard on true crime shows and podcasts, which causes me to repeatedly check the locks on my apartment door. To alleviate my fears that I'll be murdered in my sleep, I read a chapter of Gulp before passing out.
Daily Total: $11.28

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — I wake up feeling much more rested than yesterday and complete my usual morning routine. For breakfast, I forget I made overnight oats, and eat a banana while the soup for my lunch is heating. After pouring the soup in its thermos, I toast a the last piece of 7-grain bread and a piece of lemon blueberry bread that I dig out of the freezer. I cover both in almond butter and drink a large glass of water and half a bottle of mango kombucha.
7:10 a.m. — Before leaving, I check my bank account because today's payday! I notice that I was paid for some PTO days that didn't roll over from last year, because I had too many unused days. The extra money is definitely welcomed. It's getting late and I want to avoid traffic, so I fill my coffee mug and water bottle and grab my lunch. The cat is sprawled on top of my shoes by the front door, and I have to give him attention to free my flats.
11:45 a.m. — The morning flies by. I eat the same lunch I've been eating all week, as well as some vegetables and dip someone left for everyone in the break room. My coworkers and I all grumble about how we're all behind on preparing for student-teaching conferences.
1:30 p.m. — The last of the theater callbacks are today, and half the home base disappears again. I check in with students about their remaining workload, their ongoing graduation projects, and their weekend plans. At one point it starts pouring outside, and a student and I chat about the comforting sound of rain against the roof. These individual conversations are my favorite because I really get to know each student.
3:30 p.m. — After school, I meet with a coworker about the classes I'm leading that will begin next week. These classes are independent, as students can complete various English credits needed for graduation. Students will create their own schedules and projects, and my job will be to ensure standards are met, credits are appropriately interpreted, projects are brainstormed, and that timelines are followed. I'm feeling super anxious about this type of class because it requires a lot of moving pieces, but my coworker, who led this type of class in a different subject area last year, is very helpful and makes me feel a lot more prepared by the time we're done talking.
4:15 p.m. — I make copies for conferences tomorrow, file papers, and organize for the next day. I like having everything in place the night before because it makes me feel less rushed and anxious on the day of, but this usually means that I often work late. Technically, my salaried hours are 7:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. Before I leave for the day, I vacuum (we have carpets) and clean the tables.
5:35 p.m. — On my way home, I listen to the most recent episode of The RFK Tapes, which fascinates me because I'm a sucker for history podcasts. (Actually, I'm just a sucker for podcasts.) Surprisingly, traffic is minimal, and I finish the podcast in my apartment while eating salt and vinegar chips.
7:30 p.m. — D. comes over and we're feeling lazy, so we decide to order a veggie pizza from a new place near my apartment. It's good, but arrives cold, so we have to warm it in the oven. D. pays, and I tell him the next dinner is on me. D. makes around five times what I do and often pays. Although this makes me feel uncomfortable at times, D. and I make a point to not spend a lot of money. We often cook together, go hiking, and attend free local events. After eating, I watch a portion of an episode of Unsolved Mysteries on Hulu while D. takes a work call, which, to me, always sounds like he's speaking another language.
9:30 p.m. — My work computer keeps freezing, so I give up on doing work. My conferences don't start until 1 p.m. tomorrow, so I'll go in early and finish everything then. Using my personal computer, I pay my gas and electric bill ($88.29) and my credit card bill from last month ($81.27), but I decide to save the points I've accrued. After two years of carrying a large credit card balance, it's a huge relief to use and pay off the card every month to garner points instead of having consistent debt. D. opens the crossword app on his phone, and we work together. The puzzle is super hard, so it takes us time to finish.
10:30 p.m. — I complete my normal nighttime routine, and D. and I listen to the thunderstorm once in bed. The cat, who's terrified of storms, snuggles next to my face and while I'm squished between the cat and D., I don't push away either one. Eventually, we all fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:45 a.m. — The lightning and thunder is so intense it wakes me. I listen to the storm for a few moments before going to the bathroom and then crawling back into bed. Both D. and the cat are snoring.
8:30 a.m. — Sleeping in on a work day feels weird, but it's one of the perks of parent-teacher conference days. I hop in the shower and comb a dollop of argan oil through my hair when I'm done in an attempt to fend off the inevitable frizz. I decide to wear a shirt I bought on super sale this summer, and it doesn't look as good as I remember. After contacts and eye makeup, I eat the overnight oats from two days ago and drink a large glass of water and the remaining half of the mango kombucha. D. wakes up and heads back to his place. He'll be visiting friends out of state this weekend, so I plan to stay at his place tonight. I make him take extra pizza with him.
9:30 a.m. — I check my bank account and see my student loan payment was deducted ($132.57). I take a few moments and budget this paycheck's expenses in a small notebook I have for this purpose. In the past, I used to record my budget in a spreadsheet, but writing down this information helps me visualize and remember my expenses and remaining income much more effectively. I transfer $200 to my savings to make up for slacking the past few times due to buying a car. D. texts me and says his apartment's power is out, so he's coming back to my place to work for the day. (He works at home.) It rains and storms a lot here this time of year, and losing power happens at times.
10 a.m. — D. arrives, and I make us a pot of coffee. Before I forget, I transfer $50 to another checking account, which I use for "fun" money so I don't overspend. I update my planner and Google calendar, and write on a Post-it to remind myself to figure out how to set up online payments for my car loan, as the instructions are very vague and the loan isn't through the bank I normally use. For me, automatic payments with Google Calendar and old-school planner reminders really help me stay on top of my finances.
10:40 a.m. — Unfortunately, I need to get to work to finish prepping for conferences. I grab my lunch (two pieces of leftover veggie pizza, sparkling grapefruit seltzer, and two clementines), and fill my reusable water bottle. D. is on a work call when I leave, so I give him a quick side hug and a peck on the cheek. It's stopped raining, but the forecast is predicting another storm, so I grab my raincoat. On the way to work, I listen to NPR, get depressed by the current state of the world, and then listen to half a FoodStuff podcast.
12:40 p.m. — I've been at work diligently catching up for over an hour, so I head to the break room to eat my lunch. There are a ton of snacks donated from our parent organization, so I eat the slices of veggie pizza and snack on some snap peas, carrots, and celery. On my way out the door, I grab a Nature Valley Cocoa Peanut Butter Soft-Baked Filled Square for later. I have parent-teacher conferences from 1 to 6 p.m. with no breaks, but I have hope that I can manage to eat something at some point. On the way back to my home base, I refill my water bottle.
6:20 p.m. — Conferences are finally over for the day! After running to use the restroom, I crack open the grapefruit seltzer, and down two clementines and the granola bar from the break room, which is surprisingly good. My co-teacher has finished her conferences too, so we catch up on the day and all the work we still have to do. My brain feels like mush, and I know I still need to focus when I get home. Conference days really drain me. On the way home, my dad calls and we catch up. Then I listen to the rest of the FoodStuff podcast from earlier.
8 p.m. — I decide that the work pants I wore all day are uncomfortably tight, and I place them in the donate bag I keep in my closet. When the bag's full, I'll donate it. I tell myself I'll go thrifting or to the outlets this weekend and buy clothes that fit and make me feel confident.
8:30 p.m. — I dig rye bread out of the freezer and make a grilled "cheese" using Daiya cheese. Unfortunately, I've been really limiting my cheese and dairy intake lately, at the recommendation of my dermatologist, to help treat underlying inflammation that causes rosacea. While I've had serious cheese cravings, I've really noticed a difference in my complexion and in my digestion, and I occasionally buy and use vegan cheese to squash cheese cravings. I add half a tomato I find in the fridge, and the sandwich is weirdly good. I listen to the newest episode of True Crime Garage while I eat, but then switch to listening to the old episode that the new episode is referencing so I know the backstory. D. and I text, and I decide to stay at my place tonight despite our earlier plans. He's very understanding even though I'm bummed I won't see him before his trip this weekend. This guy is definitely my person, because even when I'm peopled out, I want to see him.
9 p.m. — I begrudgingly power on my work computer. I love my job, but I hate all the paperwork it entails. While working, I text with a friend from grad school who recently earned her PhD. She fills me in on her new faculty position at a university up north.
11 p.m. — Work is finally finished, and I'm exhausted. I do the usual bedtime routine, set the coffee pot for the morning, and fall into bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — I definitely don't feel rested when my alarm goes off. I spent a portion of the night tossing and turning, which I think was caused by not being able to shut off my brain before bed. Thankfully, I'm done with conferences early today. I take a quick shower, get dressed, and complete the rest of my usual morning routine. For breakfast, I chug a glass of water, drink half a green kombucha, and eat a piece of lemon blueberry toast with almond butter and a banana. I fill my water bottle and travel coffee mug. The forecast doesn't look promising, so I also grab my raincoat before heading out the door. On the way out, I take out my recycling and bring the entire bin to the curb for today's collection.
11:30 a.m. — I have a 30-minute break between conferences, so I head to the staff room and eat carrots and celery, as well as tortilla chips and salsa. On the way back to my home base, I snag a granola bar to keep in my work bag for hangry emergencies and I also refill my reusable water bottle.
1:30 p.m. — Conferences are finally done! I text with my home base co-teacher, who left before me, and read and respond to a few of the emails I received during the day. Before leaving, I wipe down the tables, straighten chairs, and turn off the lights so everything is ready for Monday morning.
2 p.m. — Once I'm back in Louisville, I decide to head to Trader Joe's, thinking it won't be as crowded as usual because it's a Friday before schools have let out. I'm wrong, so incredibly wrong, and it's the ninth layer of hell inside the store. Quickly, I try to navigate the aisles, but the store's layout has been rearranged since my last visit, so it takes longer than usual for me to find everything I need. I buy frozen mixed veggies, frozen brown rice, a can of chickpeas, a sweet onion, Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce (I'll use those ingredient with tofu I have at home for the upcoming work week's lunch), a bottle of green kombucha, a bottle of mango kombucha, sprouted seven-grain bread, two cucumbers, a red bell pepper, an orange bell pepper, a dozen brown eggs, organic arugula, and a birthday card for a close friend. Thankfully, the parking lot isn't as bad as the store, and I'm able to drive away unscathed. $26.83
2:40 p.m. — A sudden strong craving for beer hits me, so I stop at the liquor store close to my apartment and buy a six-pack of Bell's Two Hearted Ale. Out of habit, I show the clerk my ID, but he barely glimpses at it. I used to get carded all the time, regardless of where I was, but since I turned 32, I've rarely been carded. I'm still not sure if this shift is a good or bad thing. $11.65
3 p.m. — At home, I put away the groceries and open a beer. While listening to the next part of the True Crime Garage podcast from last night, I wash and chop the cucumbers and bell peppers. Then, I set to work making a salad of arugula, peppers, cucumbers, Manzanilla olives, banana peppers, shredded carrots, and raw sunflower seeds. The remaining portions go in the fridge for the rest of the week. Next, I make my go-to homemade dressing out of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, Italian seasoning, and dijon mustard. D. texts to say his plane has landed, and we text for a bit. I also text with a few close friends. I'm still hungry after the salad, so I eat multigrain pita chips with classic hummus.
4 p.m. — My stomach is growling despite the large salad, pita chips, and hummus, so I eat the last small piece of veggie pizza dipped in Sriracha, as well as a clementine, before retreating to the couch to scroll aimlessly through Buzzfeed and Twitter. I've had a pair of leggings decorated with cat faces sitting in my Amazon cart for over a week, so I take the plunge and purchase them. Jeans are more my thing than leggings, but it's practically my duty to own and wear these cat leggings so I can become "that" English teacher. Excitedly, I text my co-teacher, who fully supports my purchase. I record this purchase and my groceries in my budgeting notebook. $12.99
6 p.m. — I get a second wind and decide to do laundry. The washing machine and dryer are in my building's basement. I use quarters I already have for the towels ($1.25), but it looks like I'll need to go to the bank tomorrow to get more. Upstairs, I strip the bed, put on new sheets, and bring my comforter to the basement. Next, I sweep, dust, Swiffer, vacuum, and then clean the bathroom. Lastly, I clean the cat box and take out the trash. Before I hop in the shower, I switch the towels to the dryer ($1.25) and put the comforter in the washer ($1.25). I'm on my last two Trader Joe's Lavender Dryer Bags (I use them and dryer balls instead of dryer sheets), so I make a mental note to buy more. In the shower, I listen to a part of an episode of The Generation Why Podcast. I feel organized when my environment is, so a clean apartment is a relief. $3.75
7:30 p.m. — My late lunch equals a late dinner. I heat the rest of the black bean soup, add salsa, and drink a glass of water. For dessert, I eat a Trader Joe's Mango Mochi. After dinner, I put the comforter in the dryer ($1.25) and fold the towels while finishing The Generation Why Podcast. The cat is super interested in my exciting Friday night, so I corner him and run a brush through his thick fur. This brush is a miracle worker, in my opinion, because it's really helped managing how much he sheds. He escapes, but I know I'm forgiven when he joins me on the couch about 10 minutes later. $1.25
9:45 p.m. — The usual nighttime routine, clean bed sheet awesomeness, and I read a couple chapters of Gulp before passing out around 11.
Daily Total: $56.47

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — I'm awake because my body thinks I have to go to work, and my sinuses are pulsating. My phone app says the dust and mold levels are really high, but I'm out of allergy meds. I tell myself I'll buy some later today, take my prescription nasal spray instead, and then force myself to go back to sleep.
8:45 a.m. — My stomach is growling so much that it wakes me up. Am I the only one who wants to eat immediately in the morning? For breakfast, I have coffee with unsweetened vanilla almond milk, the remaining half of the green kombucha from yesterday, a glass of water, and two eggs with Daiya cheese and salsa on two corn tortillas that I find in the freezer and warm in the oven. The reheated tortillas taste more like chips. I don't finish my coffee with my breakfast, so I take it to the couch where I check my personal email and read various news articles.
10 a.m. — I've been on the couch way too long. I want to go running, but there's a strong chance of thunderstorms, so I decide to wait until later. D. and I text, and I search for quotes for us to fly to Philadelphia for my friend's wedding in a few months. I text D., and we agree to hold off for a bit to see if prices decrease from $366 per person. I feel frustrated because this amount of money is just non-negotiable for me, but I know D. can easily afford it. However, he's respecting that I'd like to pay for the tickets because it's my friend's wedding. At times like these, I hate that my salary doesn't really give me much wiggle room.
11 a.m. — I do my usual morning routine sans makeup, throw on shorts and a t-shirt and flip-flops, fill a water bottle, and head out the door. Because Louisville started school this past week (Indiana starts earlier), I figure there may be back-to-school sales, and I head to the mall to see if I can find work pants. I have a Macy's gift card that a parent at my last job gave me two years ago, and although I'm not sure it's still valid, I bring it with me just in case. If the mall fails, there are a number of thrift and consignment stores in the area.
11:15 a.m. — I stop at the bank to get a roll of quarters for laundry. The teller recognizes me and cheerily asks if it's laundry time... $10
12:45 p.m. — Mall was a bust. Everything fit weird and was too expensive, and it was super crowded. I head to a nearby consignment store and Goodwill and also strike out. At this point, I decide to drive to the outlets. On the way, I listen to the most recent episode of Sawbones.
1:30 p.m. — I stop at a Panera because I remember I have a gift card from a former student. I order a Greek salad and a cup of water. The meal is $6.99, but the gift card covers the cost. The storm that was predicted for earlier in the day rolls through, so I take my time eating and people watching.
3:30 p.m. — Outlets were a huge fail. The prices were ridiculously expensive, which is a bummer because earlier in the summer, I found a lot of awesome deals. Feeling defeated, I decide to head to TJ Maxx, another consignment store, and another Goodwill. The consignment store is having some very weird, very enthusiastic contest, and I spend most of my time hiding amongst the clothing racks and in dressing room so I'm not asked to play along. Everything I try on is either way too small, too big, or super frumpy. I text a friend from grad school about how women's pants sizes are stupid and should be uniformed, like men's. She tells me to destroy the patriarchy and then commiserates. I feel somewhat better.
4:30 p.m. — I'm officially over shopping for pants. On my way home, I stop at a Kroger and buy a large container of allergy meds, toilet paper, mouthwash, a pint of organic strawberries, a tomato, and scallion-flavored Treeline Treenut Cheese that's half off. My receipt tells me my Kroger card saved me $2.60, and I figure that's my win for the day. I head home with my Kroger loot. $28.90
6:15 p.m. — It's looking like it may storm again, so I change into running clothes, attach my spare key to a small carbine clip that I hook onto my sports bra, and shove headphones in my ears. I warm up by walking a brisk .25 miles, running 3.65 miles, and cooling down .50 miles. My running pace is slowish, but it's a lot muggier outside than I thought. I'm almost home when I realize my headphones aren't around my neck. I backtrack to try and find them, but I'm too thirsty and give up quickly. At home, I chug two glasses of water, stretch for 10 minutes, and take a lukewarm shower.
7:30 p.m. — After throwing a load of laundry into the washer, I make dinner by toasting the last two pieces of rye bread. Then, I spread on scallion Treenut cheese, add tomato slices, chopped Manzanilla olives, and arugula. I wash everything down with another glass of water.
8:30 p.m. — I switch the clothes to the dryer and use my drying rack for the ones that can't be dried. Apparently this is most of the load, and I have to hang a few items on the shower rod in the bathroom. I pour another glass of water, eat a mango mochi, and try to work on an essay I've been writing. I had an essay published a few months ago, and I know this current one is not even close to that level of complete. $1.25
10:15 p.m. — Oops! I forgot about the clothes in the basement. Surprisingly, everything is dry, so I lug it all up the stairs, fold, and put away everything. I'm still hungry, so I wash and eat strawberries. There's no way this pint is going to last more than a couple days.
11 p.m. — After the usual nighttime routine, I climb into bed, the cat joints me, and I read the remaining chapters of Gulp. Lights are out around midnight.
Daily Total: $40.15
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