A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A $200,000 Income

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Today: a marketing specialist working in finance who makes $200,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a banh mi.
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Occupation: Marketing Specialist
Industry: Finance
Age: 30
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Salary: ~$200,000 ($150,000 salary + $25,000-$30,000 bonus + 15% profit sharing)
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $6,647 net — takes out 15% for 401(k), the rest goes to taxes
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $450 - I live in a three bedroom, three-bathroom house that my boyfriend bought a few years ago. It's already very inexpensive because it's not in the nicest/safest place in Philly, and then it's split by four of us. I just moved in last month (after being long distance for many years — yay!). We may move into our own place at some point, but we're happy where we are for now, and the savings are huge. I was paying $1,500-$2,000/month for rent/utilities for the last nine years in a different city, so this is a huge change.
Student Loans: $0 (I finished paying off my student loans last year. $20,000 for in-state tuition after scholarships.)
Utilities: ~$75 for my share
Renter's Insurance: $14.83
Cable/Internet: We get it for free through my boyfriend's work.
Phone: $0 (My work pays, which is new!)
Healthcare: $0 (Work pays, though it's a super high deductible — $6,750. They contribute half to an HSA.)
Savings: ~$7,000 (This includes $1,875 in my 401(k) and then ~$5,000 post-tax that I invest. I have always been an aggressive saver — since graduating, I have accumulated $400,000 in investment accounts and $40,000 in savings. The savings will be used to invest at some point, but markets are at all-time highs right now.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Wake up and start getting ready for the day. I do my morning routine (shower, stretch, moisturizer, brush teeth, put on makeup, pack lunch) and try to be out the door around 8:30. I walk a mile and a half to work, sometimes with my boyfriend, T., but he had to head in early today. It's a lovely rainy/foggy/misty day, and my umbrella proves useless. I arrive to work with wet pants.
9 a.m. — In my office and awkwardly trying to hold my space heater up to my pants to dry. Very casual. I recently started my job and was told that standard hours are 9 to 5 with an hour lunch, but it's flexible on start and end timing. My other jobs have had stricter (and longer) hours, so this is taking some time to get used to. Once I'm slightly drier, I head to the kitchen for some office coffee as usual. I usually keep breakfast at the office (often Greek yogurt), but I ran out yesterday, so I also grab a protein bar from the snack pantry.
11:30 a.m. — I see T.'s sister just posted that she's having a fundraiser for her birthday. It sounds like a great cause (Alternatives for Girls based in Detroit, which helps young, homeless and high-risk girls find a positive path through shelter, counseling, education, etc.), so I hope to get the ball rolling with her fundraiser as her first donor. $25
12:15 p.m. — I continue to work and eat lunch that I brought from home — a PB&J sandwich and some DiBruno Brothers Port Wine cheese with low sodium Ritz crackers. A highly adult lunch, indeed! Our fridge isn't working well right now (it won't get cold enough) so I'm somewhat limited on lunch options, but I like PB&J's. I bring lunch to work basically every day. Maybe once every month or so I'll go out to lunch, and every so often a colleague will take me to lunch since I'm still new, but otherwise it's desk lunches. I do it to save money, but also just so I can stay healthier and easily track what I eat; I'm almost at a 1,000-day streak on MyFitnessPal! I am a huge data nerd and love seeing my macros, keeping an eye on my sodium, etc.
12:45 p.m. — My dad texts to let me know that the gifts I sent my mom for Mother's Day have been delivered to their house (success), but the delivery person just threw the box on the porch (fail). I ask him to check if anything looks broken and needs to be re-ordered, since some of the gifts are glass. Seems like everything is okay, phew! I was already charged for this a couple of days ago.
12:50 p.m. — Since I'm still new to Philly, I like to wander around during my lunch hour to learn the city, get in some steps, and often do some recon on different things (i.e. best looking happy hours, identifying potential good running routes, checking the selection and layout of grocery stores nearby). Today, it's off to the Free Library of Philadelphia to get a library card! I want to be able to get free books to load on my Kindle. It ends up being quicker than I thought, so I continue down Benjamin Franklin Parkway toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art/Rocky statue and enjoy looking at all of the flags of the world lining the street. I already hit my 10,000 steps, yay! I have averaged over 10,000/day since moving here, which has been awesome.
4:45 p.m. — Done with meetings for the afternoon! I'm still finding my place in the firm, but I was able to make a couple of good points today, which was nice. I'm generally the only woman in the room and am quite a bit younger than most people at the firm. It has always been like this at my companies, as finance is very male-dominated, so I'm used to it. But I always feel a pressure to prove that women are capable and smart. One of the partners comes to my office after, and says it was good to have me in one of the consultant meetings because I knew a few data points off the top of my head — yay! Nice to have a little validation.
6:30 p.m. — T. texts that he's heading home soon, so I begin prepping dinner. We've been trying out HelloFresh for the last few weeks, and it's been pretty good! We're off the promotion period after next week though, so we'll have to decide what we want to do. I'm all about promos, so if anything, I'll cancel mine and he can sign up for four more weeks of $20 off, or we might try another meal prep service. Tonight, one pan tropical chicken tacos are on the menu!
7:30 p.m. — T. opens a nice bottle of wine to go with our dinner. We eat and chat about our days. He cleans up since I cooked.
8 p.m. — My friend calls and we catch up a bit. It's been hard moving to a city without my group of friends, where I mostly just have my significant other, so I need as many friend chats as possible!
9:30 p.m. — T. and I test out Biore nose strips for the first time, which is hilarious. We finish up our wine and watch Great British Baking Show (we drink every time they say or do something awkward or adorable, which is basically the entirety of this wonderful show), and head to sleep around 11.
Daily Total: $25

Day Two

7:15 a.m. — Up and decide to head in a little early so I can walk in with T. I do my quick morning routine, make lunch, and off we go. Another gloomy day in Philly. Sun, please show yourself. I feel like a prune.
8:30 a.m. — Office coffee. I really need to head to the grocery store soon to get stocked back up on breakfast. Office snacks are not cutting it. Also, no one is here yet.
9:15 a.m. — T. requests $35 on Venmo for my ticket to an event at the Barnes Museum tomorrow. Our finances are separate right now. We may change that at some point, but we have extremely different spending habits. (I'm a saver, he's a spender.) I make more than him (~$200,000 vs ~$145,000), but he wants to spend more/go out more, so we generally split most things pretty evenly, with him sometimes paying for more when we're out; he's generally the one wanting to go out all the time, and I spend more on groceries because I cook more. It's not a perfect science, but it works for us for now. We're very open with money and try to make sure our arrangement is generally fair. We've always “competed” to see who makes more each year since we started dating in college, and I've beat him every year except 2018 when he got a promotion. With this job change, I'm back on top! He jokes he has to go into finance now so he can win again, but in the meantime, he likes to call me his sugar mama. $35
10 a.m. — The market is getting crushed this week as the China trade deal seems to be crumbling. I will keep an eye on it and might invest some of my idle cash soon.
11:30 a.m. — I come out of a couple meetings to find that I've been invited to lunch! My lunch from home can wait. I suggest we all go as a big group, but people have different ideas about where to go, so we decide to go as two groups and convene back at work.
11:45 a.m. — Off to Cava for a grains and greens bowl with braised lamb and all the veggies. So good! It's $12.23, but I pay with a gift card my sister got me for my birthday last year. I eat with the group back at the office, and it's so nice to have some social time at work! I am definitely liking my colleagues a lot.
2 p.m. — My weekly reminder to check on my Global Entry application status pops up. Still pending. It has been about two months – the government shutdown caused massive backlogs (thanks, Trump). I'm hoping it gets approved before my trip to Costa Rica this summer, but at this rate, who knows.
4 p.m. — T. has a few minutes to get lunch, so we meet up and peruse the options. He gets Wendy's, but I'm just keeping him company and don't get anything. We walk by Modell's, and I ask if he wants to check for some Philly sports attire — we went to a Phillies game a few weeks ago, and neither of us had anything Philly-related to wear. There is a 76ers game tonight, but we wind up getting Bryce Harper/Phillies shirts. $30
5:15 p.m. — I learned that I can use the work gym for free for a month and then join if I want. I keep gym stuff in my office, so I head to the gym and do my favorite interval run, arms, abs, and stretching. Probably way too intense for my first workout in a couple weeks, but if I'm here, I figure I'll go for it.
6:15 p.m. — T. texts that he's heading to the Racquet Club to play some squash, so I join him and cheer him on during his match. He just started playing and I'm hoping to learn soon too — I hit the ball around a little after the match since I'm still in my workout stuff, and it's fun! Will be back.
7:15 p.m. — We head to the club locker rooms to shower and meet up at the restaurant after to watch some of the 76ers. I'm still not hungry, so I just grab a Tito's and soda with a splash of cranberry and try a few bites of T.'s dinner. He's a member here, so our purchases just get billed to his account as opposed to paying each time.
8 p.m. — A new friend texts me to see if T. and I want to have dinner with her and her husband on Sunday. Yay! I love dinner. Her husband is a chef, so I think it'll be quite a treat.
8:45 p.m. — I grab us a Lyft home – I switch between Lyft and Uber, as usually one has a promo. Right now, it's 25% off Lyft. Usually we'd walk, but it's a bit late and we're both tired from our workouts. $5.67
10 p.m. — 76ers are winning by enough and T. has fallen asleep, so I turn on Food Network (my favorite) for some Beat Bobby Flay before falling asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $70.67

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Ugh, terrible sleep last night. I always sleep pretty poorly – I wake up a lot, and due to my anxiety, waking up in the middle of the night usually leads to racing thoughts. I usually try to listen to Parks and Recreation or The Office when I wake up so I can let my brain focus on the happy dialogue instead of whatever negative nonsense it wants to focus on, which often works, but not last night. I'm very lucky T. is a deep sleeper and it doesn't bother him. Caffeine will be highly necessary today. At least it's Friday!
8:45 a.m. — Slower start today. I dress in a full skirt and polka dot blouse so I'm on theme for the “Spot On” museum event at the Barnes tonight — it's inspired by pointillism, and dressing to theme is encouraged!
9:15 a.m. — Walk to work. I decide to place an order through Ritual at Chestnut St. Bagels, since I need something more substantial than pantry snacks. I invite T. to piggyback off my order (he's already at work) which should also get me $10 in referral credits since he's new to the app. I get turkey, avocado, pepper jack, and sprouts on an everything bagel. I have $5 in credits from referrals already, so it comes to $2.56. T.'s order gets canceled somehow, so I offer to wait in line for him and grab him his everything bagel with plain cream cheese ($3.24) and bring it to his office. $5.80
10:45 a.m. — Check Mint. It's payday! I have used Mint daily for 10+ years — I love tracking everything. It helps me budget and review trends, keeps my savings strong, and generally is just easier to have everything centralized. I'm also not used to this new paycheck size. I got a huge raise when I started this job (about 50% on salary alone, plus bigger bonuses and more profit sharing and much lower cost of living). It's a big increase, but I generally don't change my standard of living when it comes to raises, which is one reason I've saved so much. My first salary out of school was $42,500, and I just got used to living on that sort of paycheck. The only thing I generally splurge on is travel (I try to visit at least one new country a year), and even then I try to be budget-conscious about flights (Scott's Cheap Flights!) and lodging. With T.'s encouragement, I am treating myself a bit more now with more going out and a little shopping. Our HelloFresh payment for next week has posted. $35.17
2:30 p.m. — Finally hungry for lunch after my bagel. I eat the PB&J I brought in yesterday and my cheese and crackers at my desk. I'm definitely a creature of habit and don't mind eating the same thing all the time. I often do like to meal prep on Sundays, but we were out of town in Boston last weekend, and with our fridge on the fritz, we can't really buy groceries.
3:15 p.m. — Decide to go check out TJ Maxx because I'm so tired I might fall asleep at my desk and I feel like a walk might help. As mentioned, I shop very infrequently, but I do want a couple things – dry shampoo and a running armband for my new phone. Yesterday was my first day running with my new iPhone XR, and my hands are WAY too tiny to hold that thing while also trying to manipulate treadmill speeds. And if you'd believe it, I've never bought or even really used dry shampoo. They had some at the Racquet Club that I liked yesterday, so I decided it was finally time. I get three travel-sized Batiste sprays so I can test out the different scents, and a black running armband. $17.26
4:30 p.m. — Still very tired, so I grab a Dr. Pepper from the fridge. I review some materials for a prospective client and catch a few things to edit. I am trying to improve the way we communicate with clients, prospective clients, consultants, etc. as well as working on process improvement. I also spend time re-reading my CFA Level 1 books. (I passed level 1 a few years ago but do not intend to continue — that test was a monster, and a full CFA designation does not align with my career goals.)
5:30 p.m. — Head to Assembly rooftop bar for a quick pre-drink overlooking Logan Square with T. before our event tonight. Very pretty spot. I grab two bottled beers for us on happy hour and tip a bit over 20%. As a former server, it would take a LOT for me not to tip 20+%, though I do wish tipping was abolished and restaurants would just pay their employees a living wage. $10.80
7 p.m. — Spot On event begins! End up being a little disappointed by the event itself (drink lines are insane, snacks are just okay, and there is no pointillism anywhere!), but we have a lot of fun with a big group of friends. T. pays for my two drinks at the event. We head out around 10 to go to Attico and keep the party going. One of the guys pays cover for the group, and I promise to wingwoman for him for being so nice. Also, how is cover still a thing? T. gets me one more drink I think, but it's definitely enough because I am a lightweight. The bar is cool, and we stay for a couple hours.
12:45 a.m. — T. gets us an Uber home and decides to drunk order Chinese delivery. I don't really want an entrée but I will never turn down crab rangoon or cheesesteak egg rolls. I am usually very anti eating in bed, but drunk me lives by no rules.
Daily Total: $69.03

Day Four

6 a.m. — No thank youuuuu, try to go back to sleep.
8 a.m. — Slept on and off for a little longer. I am more sore today than I was yesterday – I'm one of the people who is more sore two to three days after a workout. Stretch and do a little foam rolling.
10 a.m. — T. eats leftover Chinese, and I make toast with peanut butter and jelly. I usually make scrambled eggs or other more substantial breakfasts on the weekends, but until the fridge is fixed, I don't want to keep much in it. Wasting food is really upsetting to me, so I don't want to chance it after having a couple things rot before their expiration date. But there's supposed to be someone coming by noon to take a look at it and hopefully fix it!
11 a.m. — I clean up our room and bathroom by putting away and organizing clothes/other items, dusting, taking out the trash, and cleaning the floors, which is my Saturday morning ritual. T. starts a few piles of laundry for us that he'll do later.
12:30 p.m. — The fridge people canceled on us! Booo. Will have to reschedule. T. heads in to work for a little, so I take the time to catch up on the new season of 90 Day Fiancé. I am so behind on watching my reality TV because T. is not a fan. I'm hoping I can convince him over time. He's coming around slightly with Vanderpump Rules — I'll take it!
1:45 p.m. — I walk downtown to meet T. to play squash for the first time. It's a lot of fun and a really good workout. He beats me in six games but I finally get him on the seventh, woohoo! He jokes that he let me win, but I'm not convinced.
3:30 p.m. — We shower and change before I consult Yelp for weekend happy hours because I need food stat! We settle on Graffiti Bar since it's a nice day outside. We try a bunch of food — kimchi fried rice, crab rangoon, chicken bao buns, and a pork bahn mi, plus I have a couple strawberry sake cocktails, and T. has beer. Service is slow, but everything is tasty and it's definitely a cool vibe. I pay since T. paid for drinks last night ($49 + $11 tip) $60
6:30 p.m. — Walk home for some nap time and Ocean's Thirteen.
10 p.m. — We meant to get up again, but the rain started, so we decide just to have a lazy night because we're both sore from workouts and walked over six miles today. Watch Great British Baking Show and head to sleep by midnight.
Daily Total: $60

Day Five

8 a.m. — Awake and still sore from Thursday workout with added soreness from squash yesterday. Plus it's been raining all night and will likely rain most of the day. Seems like a sign for a rest, recovery, and hydration day in bed — Self Care Sunday is my favorite! We light some candles and settle in for Four Weddings, Food Network, and Naked and Afraid marathons. T. brings up some Brownie Batter Core and feeds me bites with all the batter — yum!
11 a.m. — Head downstairs for some toast and coffee. T. cleans up the kitchen a bit and starts a load of laundry. Then it's back to bed! I also call my mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day, and she says she loves all of her gifts! I wish I was home, but I'll be back next weekend for my friend's wedding, so we'll be doing a delayed Mother's Day dinner then.
3 p.m. — Quick Yelp review for an awesome woman-owned bagel shop we tried in Boston last weekend. I've been a Yelp Elite for the last three years and try to write reviews at least a couple times a month to keep up my status. I've met a few new friends through my first couple Philly Yelp Elite events, so I definitely want to be able to keep going, since I don't know many people here besides T.
4:30 p.m. — Finally drag myself out of bed to shower and get ready for dinner at my friend's house.
6 p.m. — T. and I walk to my friend's place. They asked us just to bring wine and they're preparing all the food, so we bring a couple of our nicest bottles of pinot. Dinner is amazing! My friend's (chef) husband makes us a Mexican feast — guac, queso fundido, multiple homemade salsas, the most delicious pork, and fresh tortillas with lots of taco toppings. I love to cook, but I feel we will severely disappoint them if we have them over for dinner next time…maybe we're better off as the couple that always brings wine. We stay to watch game 7 of the 76ers and watch them lose on a buzzer beater – bummer.
10:30 p.m. — Home and our HelloFresh has arrived! Unpack it and head to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Heading to work after a quick morning routine. It's STILL raining, so T. gets us an Uber. Too much wine and not enough carbs last night is not making me feel my best. I'm at my desk for approximately three seconds before I say screw it and head to Taco Bell for a 9 a.m. shredded chicken quesarito. Nothing says happy Monday like a TB walk of shame. $4.42
9:15 a.m. — Office coffee and emails! Also make a mental note to drink tons of water today since I'm donating blood tomorrow. I start making a little tally each time I finish another glass. (Again with the tracking stuff, I know, but I love it.)
9:45 a.m. — Stocks are still getting crushed, so I decide to add to my S&P 500 ETF. I update an allocation spreadsheet I created (how much money I have in each market segment and how I should rebalance given opportunities). I think we may still have room to fall, so I'm only going to invest a small percentage – dollar cost averaging is important! It's a little over $5,000, but I don't consider it an expense as it was idle cash waiting to be invested.
12:45 p.m. — Also add about $4,000 to my MSCI EM ETF, and I set a limit order for another tranche of S&P in case the markets keep falling.
2 p.m. — T. decides Taco Bell was a really good idea, so I meet him to walk back with him – thankfully the shift seems to have changed, so I don't have to been seen twice at the same Taco Bell only a few hours apart. I really could probably eat TB again, but I think that miiiight be a little overboard. Also, my friend from last night texts that she had lots of fun and wants to do it again soon, yay! It's great to start having friends here — most of my “friends” in Philly are T.'s friends, but I'm working on building a little bit of my own support system too.
3 p.m. — Try to wrap up a large project I've been working on for almost a month. My friend texts that he RSVPed for us for a happy hour at Volver on Wednesday – I'm excited to try this place since it has such good reviews!
6 p.m. — Arrive home and put together a donation box – a girl in our neighborhood FB group posted about needing prom attire for her high-risk special needs high school students for their dance next week. It sounds like a wonderful thing to donate to, so I put together a big bag of dresses, shoes, jewelry, makeup, and nail polish. She picks it up at the house and is super excited to show the girls everything!
6:15 p.m. — T. is working later today and I'm hungry, so I start prepping our Cranberry Apple Pork Chop Hello Fresh meal. I have low-ish iron, so I tried to make sure to have higher iron foods yesterday and today for my blood donation – I've been turned away a couple times due to my iron levels. Finish cooking and leave out the second portion for T.
8 p.m. — My friend calls to ask for my advice on good credit cards without foreign transaction fees since she's moving to Peru to teach next month. My friends call me “Rewards Friend” because I'm always using miles/points/promos for various things – it's saved us a lot of money as a group! I walk her through a few different options to see what benefits she's most interested in. I'm so excited for her to start this new adventure, and I also can't wait to visit. I did a big trip to the Philippines/Bali for my 30th birthday last year to visit one of my other best friends who moved to Asia to teach. It's so cool to have friends around the world, though it's definitely hard seeing them so much less often.
9 p.m. — T. is home and has dinner while we catch up on our days and watch Pool Kings – I need an infinity pool in my life. If only it wasn't 45 degrees and raining here.
10:30 p.m. — I clean up the dishes and head to bed while T. keeps working. He's wrapping up a big project so hopefully his days aren't this long going forward.
Daily Total: $4.42

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Awake, get ready, and walk to work with T. After going through emails at the office, I have a protein bar and some coffee while doing a pre-blood donation questionnaire that's supposed to save time at the appointment.
10:30 a.m. — I receive an email with info about the wedding that we'll be at this weekend. The bride is one of my good friends from college, and I'm so excited for her wedding, which is at a castle! They say gifts are unnecessary, but that is very foreign to me. I text a few other friends that are going to see how they're handling it. Perhaps I'll just do something small? It didn't say “no gifts,” just that “your presence is gift enough, but if you insist…” Hmm.
12:30 p.m. — Blood donation was successful, with above average iron! Woohoo! I have some mini Oreos and water at the recovery station before heading back to my office and having my sandwich and cheese/crackers.
4:45 p.m. — T. texts me to see if I want to walk to Walgreens with him, so we meet up for a few minutes. I was thinking I might go cheer him on at squash at 6:45, but I am starving after my blood donation (it burns 600+ calories!) and can't wait that long to make dinner, so I wish him luck and tell him I'll see him at home.
5:30 p.m. — Home and notice there's a leak coming out of a ceiling vent in our bathroom. I put a towel down to catch the water but am unsure what else to do. Seems like something is always going on with this house! It's only three years old, but there have been quite a few issues. In happier news, it seems the fridge may have fixed itself (it's now at the correct temperature), so perhaps the people canceling on us was a blessing in disguise! Hopefully we can buy groceries soon now.
6:30 p.m. — Cook panko crusted chicken with a lemon/parmesan/garlic pasta with blistered tomatoes – yum! I leave the leftovers for T. and settle in for my favorite show, Chopped!
8 p.m. — T. is home and has the dinner I cooked. He knows I was anxious today, so he suggests we keep watching Chopped while cuddling under my gravity blanket, which definitely helps.
10 p.m. — T. cleans up dinner/the kitchen a bit and then we head up to bed. He checks out the roof deck to see if he can find what's caused the leak – one of the spaces on the roof deck is semi-flooded from all the recent rain, but it just takes a quick plunge of the drain to get it all back to normal. Phew, that could have been a much bigger issue. It's thankfully supposed to be sunny and warm the rest of the week, so hopefully we don't have to worry about it when we're away this weekend.
Daily Total: $0
Being a bridesmaid can be a lot, and it certainly adds up. Do you have feelings about being a bridesmaid and how much it has cost you to participate in your friends’ or loved ones’ weddings? Then share your thoughts here for a chance to be featured in upcoming stories!
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