A Week In Providence, RI, On A $42,000 Salary

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.
Want even more Money Diaries, plus $$$ advice from a kick-ass, all-female team of financial advisors, and tips on how to save more than $500? Pick up our new book: Money Diaries! Order here!
Today: a membership manager working at a nonprofit who makes $42,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino.
Occupation: Membership Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 35
Location: Providence, RI
Salary: $42,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,615.20
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 (total is $2,200 split with my husband)
Student Loan Payment: $132.22
Roth IRA: $100
Train Pass: $363
Life Insurance: $68
Cable/Internet: $87
Dental Insurance: $35
Health Insurance: $90
Short-Term Disability Insurance: $31
Primerica Payment: $25
Eyebrow Waxing: $15
ClassPass: $15
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on my parent's plan.)
Joint Savings With Husband: $50
Money Market Savings Account: $150

Day One

9 a.m. — We don't have Summer Fridays at my work, but we do have four extra vacation days in August. I decide to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take the Providence/Newport ferry down to Newport. I can't wait to try it! There's free parking at the terminal, so I park and buy my roundtrip tickets for the day. Beach, here I come! $20
11 a.m. — I decide to do a little window shopping downtown before I head to the beach. I come across an adorable soap/body product shop, so I have to go in. I have a minor fascination with beauty products (#jadorefrenchpharmacies). All the products are made in Rhode Island, and my sister is coming to visit next weekend, so I buy a little Rhody welcome gift for her. After test-sniffing all their scents, I pick up a bar of soap with exfoliants for her and a facial soap with charcoal in it for me. $19.26
12 p.m. — I walk from the downtown area to Easton/First Beach. I love to walk! I am a city mouse at heart. I made myself a sub sandwich and chips for my beach picnic lunch at home and eat it before engaging in a rotation of sunbathing/reading/wading in the perfect wavy water.
3:15 p.m. — I decide it's time to make my way back to the ferry. On my walk back, I stop in an adorable gourmet shop and get a vegetable juice. $7.51
4:15 p.m. — I stop in a tourist souvenir shop and purchase two postcards, one for my postcard collection and one to send to my husband, who is studying in Vermont all summer. $2
4:20 p.m. — I swing by the post office and stick a stamp on my old-fashioned love note. $0.50
5 p.m. — I'm on my way back to Providence, I breathe in the sea air.
6:15 p.m. — My husband and I try not to eat out a lot, but since I'm having a “Rhode Island day,” I decide it's time to try this new seafood shack in downtown Providence called Dune Brothers. I park at a meter and head over. $2.50
6:30 p.m. — It's a gorgeous night and there are families and young professionals in the eating area. A DJ spins tunes from the 80s and 90s, and I have to say I'm feeling the vibe! I order a glass of red wine and a cape shark sandwich. The food is absolutely delicious, and I'm a sucker for beautiful summer nights. I also order a bowl of clam chowder. $30.40
8 p.m. — I decide to watch The Great British Baking Show for the rest of the night and also nurse a little sunburn I got. (It's hard applying sunscreen on your back when you're alone at the beach!)
Daily Total: $82.17

Day Two

8 a.m. — I wake up and make myself Greek yogurt with frozen blueberries and coffee. This morning the weather is gloomy, and it's supposed to rain, so I make it a point to do things around the apartment today.
12 p.m. — I take a break from my boring admin work and reheat a delicious baked ziti dish I made earlier in the week.
2 p.m. — I decide to read a little bit and re-embark on the novel I started yesterday at the beach, Before We Were Yours.
3:15 p.m. — I get ready for a night of babysitting. There's a family I babysit for about once a month in Providence. I started last year when I was unemployed and looking for some ways to make extra cash, but I continue because it's great for extra money and I really like the kids. We play with blocks, make pillow forts, and take baths. I enjoy a slice of pizza with them for dinner.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, drink water and coffee, and eat cookies I made earlier in the week.
10 a.m. — I meet up with some friends I haven't seen in a while. We start at a gluten-free bakery in the area and I get an iced tea ($2.97). It's a pretty hot day, but we do a walk on Blackstone Boulevard on Providence's east side. We walk almost two miles down and two miles back. It's great to catch up on our summers, as we haven't really seen each other since the spring. $2.97
12 p.m. — My husband and I chat on the phone. Only two more weeks until we see each other! I reheat some more baked ziti and start doing some meal prep for the week.
3:30 p.m. — I finish my workout in my apartment gym and head to the store to go grocery shopping. I get Jarlsberg cheese sticks, eggs, yogurt, rolls, a Stouffer's frozen mac and cheese, frozen broccoli and Brussels sprouts, soap, Ziploc bags, jam, white wine vinegar, tuna, a bag of brown sugar, sparkling water, bottled water, a Starbuck frappuccino, peaches, arugula, apples, a lemon, a shallot, whole grain mustard, a pint of blueberries, and a small bag of baby potatoes ($60.24). They don't seem to have wild salmon at Stop & Shop this week, so next I go to Whole Foods and get a quarter pound of wild salmon, an artichoke, a donut, and a peanut butter cup pack ($11.12). $71.36
6 p.m. — I go to mass. I love going to church with my husband, so I miss him. It's such a nice time to disconnect from the world and reconnect with God. I leave $5 cash in the basket. $5
7 p.m. — I do some dinner and meal prep for the week. Most of the time I really enjoy cooking and tonight I have some time, so I make arugula salad with lemon and parmesan cheese, blueberry pancakes, and an artichoke with tarragon lemon butter. The artichoke is NOT as good as I would have liked, but the other things are tasty.
9:30 p.m. — I wash up and head to bed, reading a bit before I turn the lights out.
Daily Total: $79.33

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and devour three blueberry pancakes with coffee and water for breakfast.
7:50 a.m. — I get on the train and head to work. (I work in Boston, although I live in Providence.) I give the peanut butter cups I bought yesterday at Whole Foods to the train conductor as a thank you. I lost my pass last month, and he let me on with just my receipt, so I feel I owe him a thank you!
10 a.m. — I take a “brain break” and check to see if the dress I really wanted during the Nordstrom sale is back in stock in my size. I have a feeling it will be now that the sale is over, and sure enough…it is! I hold off on buying for now.
1 p.m. — For lunch I have reheated pasta, arugula salad, a cheese stick, and cookies. I have a total sweet tooth!
3 p.m. — It's so freaking hot today, and I notice my forehead is starting to peel. Rawr!
5:30 p.m. — I get changed and eat cheese sticks and almonds before I go to a dance class in Cambridge ($15). I love to dance, and I've been going to this jazz class for a few weeks now. I took a little break from taking dance on a regular basis but wanted to get back to it this summer. We've been working on a combo for three weeks, now and my muscles know the steps and can really dig into the movement. $15
7:30 p.m. — After class I get a McDonald's cheeseburger since I've really been craving one ($1.03). Then I run to Copley Plaza because the Lacoste store there is going out of business and I want to see if they have any watches on sale for my husband. They don't. I tried! I pick up a pop from Tasty Burger in the train station ($2.15) and head home on the freezing train. $3.18
Daily Total: $18.18

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I decide to have a large blueberry pancake for breakfast this morning and a hard-boiled egg with my coffee. Delish!
9 a.m. — I buy a coffee at my work when I get in because I'm hankering for another one ($0.75). No, they don't have free coffee where I work because they think people will “take advantage of it.” Um, yeah? $0.75
11 a.m. — We all complain about how hot the office is, but I remember in previous years when my offices have been ice cold in the summer, and I prefer this. Still, some moving air would be nice, so a kind colleague offers me an extra fan.
1 p.m. — I have the rest of my leftover pasta, a peach, and cookies for lunch. Cookies are life!
7 p.m. — Today I have nothing planned after work. I try to do this at least once during the week, so I go home and cook. I found a recipe for a green bean salad in the Wall Street Journal this weekend, and I'm excited to make it tonight with green beans from my garden. It ends up being delicious! I feel super healthy as I eat the green bean salad with potatoes and arugula salad, salmon, and a roll. I eat yogurt for dessert.
Daily Total: $0.75

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — More blueberry pancakes for breakfast this morning and coffee.
1 p.m. — Today for lunch I have leftover green bean/potato salad, a turkey sandwich, and a peach.
2 p.m. — I need a desk break, so I walk to Starbucks and get a premade Mocha Frappuccino. $2.62
6:15 p.m. — I eat a super quick dinner of Stouffer's mac and cheese and then head to a meeting with a financial planning group that I'm a part of. I'm really passionate about financial education.
10 p.m. — I leave the meeting a little later than expected but hey, it's summer, so I feel more alive and less sleepy.
11 p.m. — I can't sleep so watch an episode of Friends on my iPad.
Daily Total: $2.62

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — More leftover blueberry pancakes and coffee for breakfast.
8 a.m. — On the train I call my parents, and we talk about our weeks. I like to think the train is a good time for “parent catch-up calls,” but the reception in certain areas is spotty, so it's really not a great idea in the end, but at least I try.
10 a.m. — I have lots to accomplish today, especially since I'm off again tomorrow. I find myself able to focus this morning and work on sending emails to our members and track the click rates on our newsletter that went out last night.
1 p.m. — I have more leftover potato/green bean salad for lunch and a mini ham sandwich.
2 p.m. — Still doing well and staying focused! I work with our marketing team on getting events for our members this fall on our website. Just moments after I put some events up, people already register. Makes me feel accomplished!
5:30 p.m. — I leave work and head to a roof deck pool at the Colonnade Hotel (a perk from work). I feel like by the time I get there I'll be all hot and sweaty from the 30-minute walk and want to jump right in the water, but that's not quite the case. The pool itself is smaller than I remember and there are lots more people out hanging around the deck than I anticipated, so I feel self-conscious just going in by myself. I lounge on a chair and read my book/listen to the acoustic guitar player. I ponder ordering a drink, but they are just too pricey.
7:40 p.m. — I decide to leave and make my trek to the train station.
8 p.m. — I order a chicken sandwich and beet lemonade from B Good next to the train station ($11.52). I eat it with an apple I brought from home. I'm eating outside even though it's hot, because I want to soak in as much summer as I can sitting next to Boston's beautiful brownstones. $11.52
8:35 p.m. — Ugh, the train is late! I don't know why there are more delays in the summer than the winter, but c'est la vie.
9 p.m. — The train finally arrives and I'm on my way home.
10 p.m. — I arrive in Providence and watch a few more episodes of Friends before hitting the hay at midnight.
Daily Total: $11.52
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
In addition to our regular Money Diaries, we're looking for Money Diaries from teachers! If you are a teacher (especially in Arizona, Colorado, West Virginia, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Dakota, or Kentucky), we want to hear from you! Submit here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series