A Week In Pittsburgh, PA, On A $44,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Target.
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Today: an accountant working in healthcare who makes $44,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on frozen Reese's cups.
Occupation: Accountant
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 23
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Salary: $44,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,233
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $850 for a one-bedroom apartment that I live in alone.
Car Payment: $160
Student Loan Payment: $165 for undergrad. (I have a loan from my grandmother for grad school that I will begin paying back after graduation.)
Health & Dental Insurance: $0 (I'm on my mom's plan.)
Doggie Daycare: $200 every five weeks for daycare twice a week
Hulu/Spotify: $12.99
Phone: $0 (My mom pays.)
Netflix: $0 (Mom also pays.)
Cable/Internet: $71
Gas: $20
Electric: $80-$100
401(k): I contribute 4%, and my employer matches.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I drag myself out of bed and start getting ready for the day — do my hair and makeup, brush my teeth, and get changed. I get the coffee going as I take the dog for his morning walk. When I get back home, I make my lunch and head to work — a 30 to 40 minute drive, depending on traffic. I actually don't mind the commute, though. It gives me time to sip my coffee and get ready for the day.
8:30 a.m. — I get to work and then settle in at my desk. I answer emails I received over the weekend and then head down to the kitchen to make myself an English muffin with peanut butter and refill my coffee cup. (I keep English muffins and peanut butter at my desk, and my office supplies the coffee.)
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! Most of the time, we all eat at our desks, but once or twice a week we'll order delivery or go out. Today I heat up my leftover tortellini from dinner last night and snack on sweet potato chips.
4 p.m. — Well, it looks like Aunt Flow decided to make her appearance this month. I head to the market downstairs and buy myself frozen Reese's cups as a "yay, you're not pregnant!" treat. My boyfriend and I recently broke up, and even though I'm on the pill, a baby would have not been ideal right now. $1.50
5 p.m. — I'm out! I eat the granola cups I brought from home on my way out of work. I call my mom and we catch up on family gossip and the happenings of our lives. I try calling her a few times a week since I don't see her every day.
7 p.m. — I get home and walk my dog, then eat rice and veggies for dinner. I forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer before leaving for work this morning — oops! After dinner, I play with the dog and do some training with him. He was at the shelter for months and his previous owner didn't train him. I got him just a few months ago, but he is already lightyears ahead of where he was then! After training, the pup is tired and I get started on my paper for the week. I'm in an online Master's program and have one or two papers due every week.
10:30 p.m. — Get showered, brush my teeth, let the dog out, and then it's lights out!
Daily Total: $1.50

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — Finally get myself out of bed and start my morning routine. I have a mandatory online class tonight, so I take the pup to daycare. I take him twice a week — he loves it, and it lets me have two evenings a week where I can get a lot of school work done, go to a workout class, or do something with friends. He gets a punch on his 10-day daycare card.
9:45 a.m. — English muffin with peanut butter and coffee.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! Today it's a sandwich with kettle chips. Very middle school of me, I know. I scroll through Instagram looking for a picture of my pup playing, but he doesn't make the daycare's feed today.
5 p.m. — Time to leave! I grab a banana on my way out. I have to stop at CVS to pick up my prescriptions and a daily fiber supplement that my doctor recommended to help with my IBS ($38.15) . I swing by Target to pick up a pizza crust for dinner ($3.97), and then head to the dog daycare to pick up the pup. $42.12
7 p.m. — I log in to a Skype session for class. I don't have to have my webcam on, so I eat my pizza while listening to the lecture. Afterwards, I go through my email and notice that my earnings from a recent sale on Poshmark have hit my account! I start looking for booties and find a pair I like, which I pay for using credits in my account from my previous sales. Score!
10:30 p.m. — I write some of my paper that's due Friday while tuning into This Is Us. I don't really pay much attention to the show, though. For some reason, this season isn't really pulling me in like the last two did. Then I take a shower, brush my teeth, take the pup out, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $42.12

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — First alarm goes off at 6:30 and I stay in bed to cuddle with the pup — he's in a snuggly mood this morning! I finally pull myself out of bed at 6:45 and do the usual morning routine, plus I add fiber supplement to my morning glass of water. It's orange-flavored and pretty gross. I'm hoping I'll be able to finish the container I got. I have a hair appointment tonight, so I take my pup to daycare on my way to work. Another punch on the pre-paid card.
9:30 a.m. — Time for my daily English muffin and peanut butter! I've been eating this for breakfast for about a year now and love it because it keeps me full until lunch.
12 p.m. — Today's lunch is leftover pizza and some dark chocolate I have at my desk. I scroll through Instagram and see that my pup made an appearance today! Such a proud dog mom moment.
2 p.m. — This past summer, I met with a financial advisor and one of his recommendations was to change my traditional 401(k) to a Roth 401(k). Since today is slow, I log into my employee portal and figure out how to change it. 20 minutes later, it's all set up. I am now contributing 4% to the Roth plan, and work is contributing 4% to my traditional plan. My advisor explained that having some contributions in both is a good way to get the best of both plans.
5 p.m. — Time to leave! On my way to pick up my pup, I stop at the ATM and take out $10. I am getting my hair cut tonight and they only take cash tips. When I get home, I quickly make gnocchi and head to my 7 p.m. appointment.
7 p.m. — My hair appointment takes about an hour. I have been going to the same stylist for years and trust her to always make me look and feel my best. We know the same group of people, so it's always fun to catch up. $50 (includes the tip)
8 p.m. — I stop at Target on my way home to pick up gum for my desk, tampons, and a wedding card for my college roommate's upcoming wedding. I got the gift when the registry first came out. $13.67
10:30 p.m. — After I get home from Target and my hair appointment, I take the pup for a quick walk before settling in to finish this paper. An hour and a half later, I have one paper submitted and have started the outline of the second paper. By 10:30, my internal clock is telling me that it's time for bed. I do my nightly routine and it's lights out at 11.
Daily Total: $63.67

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — Crawl out of bed. I'm not taking the pup to daycare today, so I take him for a short walk around my complex. Before leaving, I place a mobile order from Starbucks using a gift card I have. I swing by to pick it up on my way to work. I absolutely love mobile ordering, it is so quick and easy!
10 a.m. — Have my daily English muffin with peanut butter. I am a creature of routine.
11:30 a.m. — My coworkers and I decide to order lunch from our favorite delivery place. I get the buffalo chicken salad with a side of fries. I am a true Pittsburgher and can't have a salad without fries. $14
5:45 p.m. — Return home to find my Rent the Runway package has arrived! I ordered a dress for the wedding this weekend. I take the dog for a 45-minute walk and as soon as I get back, I try the dress on and absolutely love it! I like Rent the Runway for events like weddings and formals (tbt to my college days) because it gives me the chance to always wear something different and trendy, while sticking to my budget.
7 p.m. — I am obsessed with sheet pan dinners. They are so quick, easy, and healthy. I make one tonight using some leftover veggies from earlier this week and shrimp that I had in the freezer. So yummy!
8 p.m. — I log onto my Chewy account and order a 30-pound bag of dog food and a 24-pack of bully sticks. Then I look for an urn for my last puppy. When I got her last year, I noticed that she wasn't gaining any weight like the rest of her litter mates. It was a long year of constantly taking her to the vet and getting tests done. I found out she had stage four kidney disease and had to put her down just after her first birthday. I was going to order one from the company that cremated her, but they never answered my calls or emails. Sigh. I finally decide on one and get it engraved ($74.90). $162.98
10:30 p.m. — After watching a few episodes of Younger, my newest TV obsession, I do some training with the pup, shower, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $176.98

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — My snooze has already gone off twice, but my bed is warm and the dog is in a snuggly mood, so I stay in bed a little longer than I should. Then I do the usual morning routine and take the dog for a 15-minute walk. I order a coffee and donut from Dunkin' (I love ordering ahead) and get out the door relatively on time. I stop at the ATM to get out $10 for the Mega Millions pot we have a work — I will not be the only one who doesn't contribute and then get stuck working if we do win. Then, I swing by and pick up my coffee and donut. I pay with money that I had preloaded.
12 p.m. — I give the coworker in charge my $10 for the Mega Millions. We're doing $5 per entry, so I just decide I'll put my name down twice. Then we all go eat lunch in the cafeteria — it's Friday and it's been a long week. $10
4 p.m. — On Fridays we get to leave work any time after 3:30. I leave at 4 and head home to pick up the pup and a bottle of wine I got at a wine festival a few weeks ago and head over to my best friend's place. Her dogs and my dog get along so well, so we let them play while we talk about her wedding next summer. I'm the maid of honor and am so so excited! Her fiancé brings us pizza on his way home from work.
10:30 p.m. — I get home, but I'm not really tired. I decide to make some chocolate chip pumpkin muffins — a fall staple in my family. My friend signed me up for Bumble while I was at her place (that's how she and her fiancé met), so I decide to just give it a try and start swiping. After my muffins are done, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and head to bed around midnight.
Daily Total: $10

Day Six

9 a.m. — It's so nice to wake up without an alarm! I take the pup on an hour-long hike. He has become the best hiking buddy, and afterwards, he is wiped! I get back home, shower, make a sandwich for lunch, clean up the apartment, and get ready for the wedding.
2 p.m. — I love this one color of Revlon but can't find it in my makeup bag and I am running out of time. I also need safety pins to pin the straps of my dress. Based on the reviews on Rent the Runway, I knew the straps would most likely be too long. I stop at CVS to get some safety pins and lipstick. Once I'm ready and en route to the wedding, I call my brother to confirm that he is letting my pup out later this evening. $13.17
11 p.m. — The wedding was so fun! I went on my own, which was a little scary at first, but no way was I having my ex come with me, even though he was supposed to. I ended up knowing a lot of people and having a really good time.
Daily Total: $13.17

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Wake up and take the pup for a quick walk. I am talking the pup up to my mom and her fiancé's house, which is an hour north. They have a ton of off leash hiking trails, so we're all going to take our dogs out. I stop and get gas while I'm up here, since it's so much cheaper. $37.17
2:30 p.m. — All of the dogs had so much fun and are so worn out! I have a dog, and my mom and her fiancé each have two from before they met, so we took five dogs total out hiking. Afterwards, my mom and I head to the outlets near her house so I can look for a new winter jacket. I end up finding a cute everyday jacket and a nice leather moto jacket. I've been looking for a leather jacket for what feels like FOREVER. $139.54
6 p.m. — I get back home and log onto my laptop to order groceries. I am obsessed with Walmart's free grocery pickup. I order sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, carrot sticks, sandwich fixings, body lotion, kettle chips, granola cups, chicken breasts, ground beef, egg noodles, and iced tea. I pay now but schedule my pickup for tomorrow evening. $42.89
10:30 p.m. — I match with a cute guy on Bumble and we start messaging. It feels good to flirt again! I shower, let the dog out, and turn the lights out by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $219.60
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