A Week In Plano, TX, On A $40,000 Budget

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

This week a customer Specialist working in Health IT who makes $40,000 per year and tries to keep fixed expenses low — but can be tempted to try out a new subscription service.
Occupation: Customer Success Specialist
Industry: Health IT
Age: 26
Location: Plano, TX
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x month): $1,245
Gender Identity: Female

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $775
Monthly Loan Payments: $189
All Other Monthly Expenses: Utility bill: $40; Electricity bill: $40; Internet: $44; Car payment: $354; Car insurance: $93; Spotify: $10

Day One

7 a.m. — It's Friday! I drink a cup of coffee with half and half and peruse the internet before work. I usually don't eat breakfast, and today is no different.

12 p.m. — I usually bring my lunch to work, but I'm pretty much out of everything, so I head to Trader Joe's on my lunch break. I grab frozen enchiladas for my lunch and pick up some groceries while I'm at it. I buy avocados, onions, broccoli slaw, sunflower seeds, eggplant hummus, a frozen pizza, and a bag of split red lentils. $21.21

12:30 p.m. — Back at the office, I heat up my enchiladas and also snack on some chips and salsa from yesterday's catered lunch.

6 p.m. — I get home from work, and I'm famished. I quickly throw together gluten-free chicken nuggets, a few slices of cheddar cheese, some corn and flax chips, and some hummus. I wolf it all down while watching Insecure on HBO GO. I also polish off the bottle of wine a date brought over earlier this week.

8:30 p.m. — I browse the Target website. I am in need of a bedside lamp. There's a nice one for $29.99, but I decide I'll go look in the store this weekend and save on shipping. I'm also really good at delaying purchases, so it may be another three months before I finally break down and buy a lamp.

10 p.m. — Sleep.

Daily Total: $21.21

Day Two

7 a.m. — Why am I awake this early? Might as well be productive. I call the mail-order prescription service that my health insurance insists I use. I'll take it — free birth control is free birth control. But last month they sent a 90-day supply to my very old address. I spend 30 minutes on the phone with them, but we finally get it sorted and they are going to expedite my 90-day supply. Thank goodness, because I can feel PMS coming on already!

8 a.m. — Why did I make that call without any coffee in my system? I make coffee in my Chemex and then pour it over half and half and whisk it with my immersion blender to make something akin to a latte. It's delicious.

9:30 a.m. — I head out to pick up my friend and her cousin for yoga at a local brewery. We arrive at the brewery and find out that we were supposed to register ahead of time, and the class is sold out. I don't like to pre-register for things and commit my money (even if it's only $15) to an event I may decide not to attend, so I'm okay with getting rejected at the door.

11 a.m. — We take our yoga fail as a sign to start eating and drinking. We stop to pick up my friend's roommate and then head to a local upscale BBQ place that I've never tried before. I order pulled pork eggs Benedict and have two mimosas. We each pay for our own meals. The drinks have me feeling generous so I tip a little over 20%. $31.84

1 p.m. — We decide to continue day-drinking. My friend and I go to the grocery store for supplies to make mimosas and palomas, and the roommate and cousin go to the liquor store for the tequila and champagne (Texas blue laws... you can't buy liquor at the grocery store). I buy the groceries and my friend promises to Venmo me later. $21.15

2 p.m. — Back at my friend's house, we drink, I lead some yoga, and we smoke some weed that my friend's roommate graciously provides.

2:30 p.m. — Somehow the topic of a lamp comes up. My friend has an extra lamp she wants to give me! Thank you, gods of the unwanted lamp! So glad I didn't drop $30 last night on Target.com.

4:30 p.m. — My sister and her boyfriend are in town so I meet up with them at a local pub. I snack on her cheese fries and order a Lonestar Beer. Sis' boyfriend pays.

5:45 p.m. — More drinking. Sis' boyfriend buys champagne and Red Bull and I pick up a six-pack of beer at the 7-Eleven. $10.27

9:30 p.m. — Sis and her boyfriend leave. I set my timer for an hour long nap. I'm supposed to meet up with my friends later but I'm soooo sleepy.

10:30 p.m. — My friend texts "We'll be in Deep Ellum in 10." I am already very asleep and so I miss the text.

Daily Total: $63.26

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and spend way too much time on Facebook before getting out of bed. I finally get up and make a homemade latte with some cocoa powder whisked in.

10 a.m. — Grocery store run number two. This time I go to Central Market for off-brand grapefruit fizzy water, a head of lettuce, ginger, soy sauce, unsalted roasted cashews, organic half and half, a frozen Amy's Indian meal, Siggi's whole milk plain yogurt, and some flowers for my aunt who invited me to dinner tonight. These groceries will probably last me about two weeks. Next weekend I may go to Aldi or Whole Foods for items I can't get at TJ's or Central Market. $26.82

10:45 a.m. — I also get gas while I'm out. I still have half a tank, but I like to fill up every weekend. $10.74

12 p.m. — I make some salad dressing based on one at my favorite vegetarian restaurant using the cashews, soy sauce, and some vegetable oil. I eat it over broccoli slaw and some sunflower seeds from my TJ's haul.

1:30 p.m. — I cook some Khichdi, an Indian lentil porridge, using some groceries from a previous week. It turns out delicious and it'll make a great lunch throughout the week.

2:30 p.m. — I've been wanting to buy undies, but I'm really cheap, and when I buy them from Target they fall apart. I usually end up going to Marshall's or TJ Maxx, but those stores can be hit or miss. On top of that, I don't really want to spend a bunch of time trying to find acceptably cute undies. I solve this problem by signing up for a BootayBag subscription. It's $12/month for two pairs of undies. I hope this saves me time and energy and improves my underwear drawer! $12

3 p.m. — I'm inspired to clean out my underwear drawer and toss all the ratty pairs. I also hand wash some clothes.

3:30 p.m. — I cook the Trader Joe's frozen pizza and eat half of it.

6:30 p.m. — Dinner at my aunt and uncle's house includes steak, baked potatoes, salad, and two glasses of red wine. We talk about current events and how we hope my teenage cousins' generation will be stirred to change things when their time comes.

9:30 p.m. — Back home I get on Facebook and see that one of my favorite artists is playing in Dallas next month. I've never seen him perform live. I immediately look up tickets and purchase two when I see that it won't put me out too much. $98

Daily Total: $147.56

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Coffee is the nectar of the gods. I drink some and then head out for work.

9:30 a.m. — It's freezing in my office. I make some tea from the stash I keep at my desk.

10:30 a.m. — I eat my hard-boiled egg with some hot sauce I brought from home. It seems to only make me hungrier, so I also eat a few tortilla chips left over from a catered lunch last week.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch is khichdi with a swirl of whole milk plain yogurt that I brought in a separate container. My coworkers and I watch SNL videos on YouTube while we eat.

4 p.m. — I am working from home this afternoon and I snack on half an avocado with some Crackers.

6:30 p.m. — Dinner is a salad made with lettuce and broccoli slaw and topped with homemade cashew tamari dressing. I also drink a beer from my 7-Eleven run this weekend.

10 p.m. — After reading for a bit, I'm off to sleep.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Homemade latte and lounging around the house before work. I pack my lunch of Khichdi, yogurt, and a hard-boiled egg in case I want a snack.

10:15 a.m. — I look down and my fingernails are blue because I'm so cold. Time for more tea from my stash. I drink the last one and set a reminder for myself to bring more from home. I have an unhealthy habit of collecting tea, and I probably don't need to buy any more for the next year.

10:45 a.m. — Hard-boiled egg and some more leftover chips. They're starting to get stale, but I love tortilla chips so much that I don't mind.

12:30 p.m. — Time for lunch. I eat the khichdi and yogurt that I packed.

5 p.m. — Practically no one is at the office, so I head out earlier than usual. When I get home I see that my birth control has arrived! It's in a giant box with a styrofoam cooler inside and two ice packs. I stash the styrofoam thing in my closet and pop the ice packs in the freezer. It may be cold outside now, but I can see myself using them to keep beers and fizzy waters cold this summer.

6:30 p.m. — I am craving something warm, so I make curried sweet potato soup using coconut milk and some sweet potatoes I had. I eat it with some avocado and a quesadilla made with tortillas and cheese that I also had already. I drink a grapefruit fizzy water.

7:30 p.m. — My scalp has been really irritated lately, and my avocados are ripening faster than I can eat them, so I decide to do an avocado scalp treatment. I mash up an avocado and massage it into my scalp. Then I put on a shower cap and let it sit for about 30 min. I also decide to do a clay face mask. Afterward I spend way too long washing bits of avocado out of my hair. It's worth it though; my hair is super soft and my scalp feels great.

9 p.m. — Sleep.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — I wake up early because I have a dentist appointment this morning and I want to have time to drink coffee before I go. I pack my lunch and an extra mug of coffee before I head out.

8:30 a.m. — Thank goodness there's no charge for the dentist appointment — my insurance covers it. The appointment didn't take very long and my calendar at work is blocked off until 10 a.m. I'm tempted to do something else for an hour, but the weather is crappy and I really do not need to buy anything, so there's no sense in stopping for a coffee or perusing Trader Joe's. I head to work but take a longer route to kill a little time.

9 a.m. — It's 58 degrees in our office this morning. I silently thank the coffee gods for my second mug of coffee. I reheat it and sip while catching up on emails.

10 a.m. — Eat my hard boiled egg with some hot sauce I brought from home.

11 a.m. — I refill my tea stash with a bag of teas I brought from home. They include: ginger, green, rooibos chai, chamomile and a "daily detox" blend. I make a mug of the detox tea.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch is khichdi and then table tennis with my coworkers.

4 p.m. — I'm starving, so I make some popcorn from the office stash and share it with my coworkers. I top mine with some of the hot sauce I brought for my hard-boiled egg this morning. Yum.

6:30 p.m. — Get home and whip up some cashew soy sauce dressing and eat it over lettuce and broccoli slaw. I also pop open a beer and sit down to watch some videos that my therapist asked me to see before my appointment tomorrow.

7 p.m. — I'm inspired by creating my money diary and create a spreadsheet to track my spending all year long.

9:30 p.m. — Sleep.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — How is it only Thursday?! I drink two cups of coffee with half and half and cocoa powder whisked in.

10 a.m. — I didn't bring a hard boiled egg today because I'm out and I forgot to make more. Womp womp. No breakfast.

11:30 a.m. — My period is coming any minute now, and I can feel my appetite increasing exponentially. I place an order online for lunch — two barbacoa tacos, chips, queso and an iced tea. I normally always eat my packed lunch on weekdays, but when it's that time of the month, all the rules go out the window. I set the pickup time for noon. $14.60

12:30 p.m. — Back at the office after eating most of the chips in the car — oops. I eat one of the tacos and save the second one for dinner. I share the chips and queso with my coworkers.

6:30 p.m. — I stay at work a little later than usual since it's closer to go straight to my therapist's from work. I eat my second taco at my desk before heading out.

7 p.m. — Therapy. I have a great therapist. Insurance pays for the session via the Employee Assistance Program. I found out today that only three sessions are covered (today was my second) and I'll have to pay $80/session after that... I will have to look at my budget to decide if I want to allocate my money that way right now.

8:30 p.m. — I get home and work on my blog. I've started this side project to hopefully bring in a little extra money, but the past week I've been really lazy about it. As per my sister's advice, I create a timeline of goals and deadlines to get myself back on track.

9:30 p.m. — Sleep. Tomorrow is Friday!

Daily Total: $14.60

The Breakdown

Weekly Total $$ Spent: $246.63
Food & Drink: $136.63
Entertainment: $98.00
Home & Health: $0.00
Clothes & Beauty $12.00
Transportation $0.00
Other $0.00
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