A Week In New Orleans, LA, On A $78,000 Salary

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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 controls engineer working in maritime who makes $78,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on mozzarella sticks.
Occupation: Controls Engineer
Industry: Maritime
Age: 27
Location: New Orleans, LA
Salary: $78,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,999.53
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,625 (I live with my husband in downtown NOLA, but we don't have a combined checking account yet so we split rent.)
Car Loan Payment: $400 (Paid to my parents. They paid for my car on their line of credit, and I pay on that.)
Parking: $400 (Split with my husband. We pay extra for the valet garage because it's in the same building we live in. The total includes an upfront tip for the valets.)
Electricity: ~$80 (split with my husband)
Car/Renters/Personal Property Insurance: $200
Cell Phone: $80
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $139.25
401k: $390
Gym Membership: $108
Kindle Unlimited: $9.99
Spotify: $9.99
AMC A-List: $21.60
Sling: $25 (split with my husband)
Neflix & Hulu: $0 (My parents pay for Netflix, and my husband pays for Hulu.)
Savings: $400 (joint account with my husband)
Credit Card Payment: $325 (It's 0% interest right now, so I'm planning to pay it off before September when I start being charged interest.)
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99/year (split with my husband)

Day One

10 a.m. — My 10 year high school reunion is today, so of course I wake up with a headache. I realize I also have a migraine aura, and I hope it doesn't last into the evening. I take some ibuprofen to stave off the full-blown migraine, and go back to sleep.
1:30 p.m. — The ibuprofen didn't work, but I'm hungry. We have no food in our apartment, so my husband, C., goes out and picks up grilled cheeses from a local place. Since we don't have a joint checking account, most of our food and apartment expenses go onto a joint credit card that we each pay half of at the end of the month. We always pay it off in full, so I track my half of the spending as we go. My half of lunch was $11.90. I still have a headache, so I try the sleeping it off method again. $11.90
5 p.m. — I wake up again and am thankfully feeling better, so I start to get ready for the reunion. My best friend, H., and I decided to ditch our husbands for the night and go stag. C. is hanging out at H.'s house with her husband while she gets ready. The reunion is at 7, and I don't have enough time to wash and dry my hair, so dry shampoo it is. I decide to curl my very thick, very straight hair, which takes me about an hour and half, and somehow it's already 7. I do my makeup pretty quickly because C. is on his way with H. to pick me up. He drops us both off at the reunion so we don't have to Uber there.
8 p.m. — We arrive at the reunion, and my hair is already straight again. Thank you, humidity. H. and I go straight to the open bar to get drinks. There's a ton of “Hey! How have you been?” even though we all have social media and know how everyone has been. The whole thing is a little awkward at first, but it gets better after being there for a little while and ends up being a good time. I tip the bartenders for my drinks. $4
10 p.m. — The official reunion with the open bar ends, but everyone makes their way to another bar to continue the party. I start a tab for myself and also buy drinks for a couple of old friends. Most of my classmates come to the second bar, and even a couple people who weren't at the official party show up, so it's a fun time. $62
1:30 a.m. — The bar we're at is pretty dead now and most of our classmates have left, so H. and I decide to take a Lyft to another bar that we know will still be lively. I pay ($7.80). $7.80
1:45 a.m. — I buy a couple drinks for us at the second bar that we definitely do not need, and we proceed to drink and dance for a while longer. $17.50
4 a.m. — It's 4 a.m., the bar is still open, and in a move that I call “adulting,” we decide to call it a night. C. doesn't want to come pick us up from the bar and isn't too pleased about me calling, so we get a Lyft back home ($9.33). H. sleeps on my couch, and I almost immediately pass out. $9.33
Daily Total: $112.53

Day Two

11 a.m. — Even though I was out with high school classmates all night, I cannot tolerate drinking like I could back then, and therefore I'm incredibly hungover. I get up to go with C. to bring H. home and get food, and almost immediately turn around, knowing a car ride will make me sick. C. brings me back my favorite hangover food — a chicken burrito with chips and queso and a giant Coke. (I pay $15.69.) Then I pretty much just lounge around the apartment all day reading. We were supposed to go to the grocery store today, but that doesn't happen, so it's another week of eating out. C. is lucky that I don't ever fight him for the living room TV — he spends the evening playing Fortnite while I read on the couch, and randomly yell "look behind you!" to mess with him. $15.69
7 p.m. — C. wants dinner, so we order Uber Eats from a new place. I order chicken lo mein, and we share some dumplings ($17.52). There's limited street parking by our place, so one of us usually has to run down and meet the driver, but the food actually comes to our door this time, which pleases my hungover self. The food turns out really good, so we'll definitely order from this place again. I finally take a shower, change the sheets on the bed, and lay in bed playing on my phone until I pass out around 11. $17.52
Daily Total: $33.21

Day Three

7 a.m. — I snooze my alarm for about an hour before I finally get up and get ready for work. C. and I share the car I bought before we got married, since I have a commute and he can walk to work from our apartment. My commute is about 15 minutes, so I get into the office around 9 a.m., settle in, grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen, and get to work.
2:30 p.m. — The morning flies by. I forgot my leftover lo mein at home and am in meetings until 2:30. When I get out, I make a quick stop at the Wendy's drive-through because I'm starving, and get a chicken sandwich, fries, and an iced tea. $9.01
6 p.m. — I get off of work and go pick up C. from our apartment. We need to do a Target run for some essentials and decide to go see a movie while we're out. We're big movie goers, and we signed up for the AMC A-List program when it launched, so we don't have to pay for tickets.
6:30 p.m. — We head to Target and pick up cat treats, cat litter, toilet paper, dryer sheets, and paper towels. While we're there, we see there's a good sale on Coke, so we get a few different kinds. The dollar section also strikes again, and I end up getting a marshmallow skewer because I'm obsessed with s'mores. (C. bought me a kitchen torch for Christmas so I could toast marshmallows at home.) My half of the purchase is $44.43. $44.43
8 p.m. — Movie time! We share dinner pretzel bites and popcorn at theater. $15
11 p.m. — We're home, and I take a look at our card transactions. Today the second payment for our college football season tickets went through. I make a note of my half, and then head to bed. $137.70
Daily Total: $206.14

Day Four

7 a.m. — Same morning routine. I forgot to rinse my coffee cup out yesterday, so now I have to scrub it before getting my coffee. No meetings to steal my focus today, so I should be able to make some good progress on my current project.
12:30 p.m. — I get to eat lunch at a reasonable time today, so I run to a local place for a sandwich and iced tea for another caffeine fix. I get back to work, and since it's the day before a holiday, the afternoon totally drags. $12.21
3 p.m. — I let C. know I'm working late to make up some of the time I'm planning to take off Friday, and we make plans to go to dinner. He asks me if I left him a check for my part of rent, but I didn't because I forgot. I Venmo him for this month's rent and parking, minus his portion of the electric ($983).
6:30 p.m. — I leave work, pick up C., and we head to get Chinese food. We eat in, but I order enough so that I have leftovers for lunch and dinner tomorrow ($29). I'm really looking forward to doing absolutely nothing on my day off. We get home around 8ish, settle in, and commence our nightly routine of video games and reading. I end up reading my book until I finish it, and I finally go to bed around 3 a.m. $29
Daily Total: $41.21

Day Five

12 p.m. — I wake up and C.'s already left to go help his at his family's firework stand. I play on my phone for a half hour or so before I go and heat up some of yesterday's leftovers. I watch some romcoms on Netflix, and start binging The Good Place.
7 p.m. — Netflix inquires if I'm still watching. I am. I decide this means I should eat dinner. I heat up more of my leftovers.
9 p.m. — We can see the Mississippi River from our living room window, so I sit in the window to watch the 4th of July fireworks. I'm glad we're high up, because I did not put on pants today. C. comes home at around 10:30, and I've been successful in my day of doing nothing. I end up staying up late reading again and fall asleep around 3 a.m. again.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — I'm exhausted from staying up so late, so I end up waking up later than usual. I'm dragging so much, I decide to pick up an iced coffee before heading into work. I manage to make it in by 9:30 — thankfully, we have a flex schedule. $3.07
12:30 p.m. — I feel so gross from all the junk I ate this week, so I head to a local salad chain for lunch. I get a spinach, goat cheese, walnut, and chicken salad with fig balsamic dressing that I really love ($13.05). Then I walk next door to Starbucks and get a pineapple black tea. I refilled my Starbucks card last week, so I use my app to pay. I bring my salad and tea back to the office and eat at my desk. $13.05
6:30 p.m. — I leave work and pick up C.. We have tickets to see Ant-Man and the Wasp, so we'll be doing dinner at the movies again, but it's not until 9, so we kill some time shopping. I have some credit at Old Navy from a return I made, so we head there. I pick up a few blouses for work and a crossbody bag, which costs me $38.61 after my credit. $38.61
7 p.m. — There's still time to kill, so we go to Five Below, where I pick up a cute toy for our cats that looks like a fishing pole and an exfoliating glove ($6.93). $6.93
7:30 p.m. — We wander into TJMaxx, where I happen upon a springform pan that matches the rest of our bakeware, so of course it comes home with us. $8.73
8:30 p.m. — We go to the theater to get food before the movie, and I realize I have a birthday reward, so our popcorn and one of our drinks is free. We also get some mozzarella sticks and another drink. (My half is $6.86.) We both really enjoyed the movie and aren't too worried about getting home late, since we're both taking tomorrow morning off to go to the DMV. $6.86
Daily Total: $77.25

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I snooze my alarm for a while and then finally get up to renew my license at the DMV before it expires next week. C.'s expires in a couple months as well, so he's getting his renewed too. I take a little extra time getting ready so that hopefully I can take a nice picture. We get to the DMV and wait about an hour to be called. I pay the renewal fee ($38.37), and then take a new picture that does not come out nice and will be on my ID for the next six years at least. $38.37
12 p.m. — We leave the DMV and go grab some po'boys before C. drops me off at work for the afternoon. $11.60
2 p.m. — My friend texts me while I'm at working asking if I still want to go on a trip over Labor Day weekend with him, his boyfriend, and couple other friends. I check my bank account and realize it's probably not the best decision to go, but say yes anyway. I text C. to see if he's interested in going, but he doesn't have any interest in Texas wine country, so it'll just be a friend trip. I Venmo my friend for the super cute Airbnb he picked out. I have miles to cover my flight. $112.89
6:30 p.m. — C. picks me up from work, and we debate what to do for dinner, so we drive around uptown for a bit before inspiration strikes. We put our name in for a table at a French restaurant that's a bit pricier than we normally would go for on a last minute dinner, but I swear we'll get groceries next week. I grab a glass of wine while we wait for our table. $10
6:45 p.m. — They seat us quicker than I was expecting, so my glass is still full at the table. We split a French onion soup, C. gets mussels, and I get a crab meat and spinach crepe — all delicious. I get half of my entree boxed up to save room for dessert, and we split a dessert crepe that is to die for. My half of dinner is $45.50. We go home and watch a movie. I start another book after the movie, and read in bed until I get too tired that I can't anymore. I fall asleep around 2 a.m. $45.50
Daily Total: $218.36
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