A Week In Salt Lake City, UT, On A $50,000 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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 graphic designer working in advertising who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a corndog.
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Industry: Creative/Advertising
Age: 25
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,550
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 for my half (I live in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with my boyfriend.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I finished paying off my student loans last fall.)
Health Insurance: $80 (taken out of my paycheck)
Gas & Electric: $15-50 for my half, depending on the season
Internet: $50
Parking: $25
Auto Insurance: $111
Cell Phone: $58
Adobe Creative Cloud Membership: $32
Acorns App: $10
401(k): $125
Roth IRA: $100
Savings: $415
Additional Expenses
Bike Share Annual Pass: $75/year

Day One

8:15 a.m. — It's Monday. I wake up feeling pretty optimistic and ready to take on the day. We'll see if that lasts! I get ready for work, and I'm in the office by 9:15. I grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen and start on mood boards for a new project.
1:30 p.m. — I run home for a quick lunch and make myself a turkey sandwich. BF gets home for lunch right as I'm finishing up, and we chat for a while about puppies. He reached out to someone on KSL Classifieds who's selling a puppy, and we're planning to go meet them after work this evening. I'm a little nervous about getting a puppy, because I feel like we're already so busy with everything as it is. But my BF's heart is set on it, and I guess so is mine. But, y'know, anxiety.
6 p.m. — I head home so we can take BF's car to see the puppy. (One of my car's tires was flat this afternoon, and I filled it up with my portable air compressor, but I'm worried about driving it a longer distance.) The puppy is adorable, but we want to do more research and meet more pups before deciding.
7 p.m. – We have leftovers for dinner and work on our laptops while watching Silicon Valley before bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up thinking it's earlier than it is, and then glance at my phone and exclaim “It's NINE O'CLOCK” to my sleeping BF. I jump out of bed to get ready. It's a beautiful day, so I grab a bike from the bike share station and get to the office by 10. Gotta do better tomorrow.
1 p.m. — I eat a PB&J that I made this morning with a LaCroix for lunch. Going out to lunch always takes at least an hour, and even though I love going out with my coworkers, I wanted to bring in food today since I got in so late.
6:15 p.m. — I head home for the day. My boyfriend is going to a concert with friends tonight, so I'm looking forward to a quiet and productive evening. I make a simple turkey sandwich for dinner, snack on chips and hummus, and then pour myself a glass of wine and set up my laptop to get work done.
11 p.m. — I end up watching the series finale of Sex and the City and drawing on my iPad for most of the evening. Not quite the productive evening I'd envisioned, but I honestly feel very relaxed and rejuvenated, so, worth it? I also remember BF paid our rent today, so I transfer my half from my bank account to his.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:45 a.m. — I wake up much too late again. I wanted to get into work earlier today so I could leave a little early (i.e. before 6 p.m.) because my boyfriend and I are going to see puppies this evening! It's raining outside, so I take my car and get into the office at 9:50, just in time to give a studio tour to local university students who are about to graduate with their design degrees and want to see what our studio is like. I try to downplay the fact that I take full advantage of the company's flexible hours and mention that I only “sometimes” get in after “9:30.” A true don't-be-like-me moment. (My employer is really cool about hours, but I always feel lots shame about not being an adult capable of getting myself out of bed when I say I will.) After a 45-minute Q&A/tour with the students, I finally get a cup of coffee from the kitchen and sit down at my desk to get work done.
1 p.m. — Today is our intern's last day, so we're having a little going-away lunch for him at a company favorite Mexican restaurant. I order the daily special (a chicken quesadilla) and my coworker gets the check. What a sweetie.
5:45 p.m. — I head home to meet my BF so we can go see more pups. I didn't get as much work done as I wanted to today so I feel bad leaving early, but I promise myself I'll get into the office earlier tomorrow.
11 p.m. — I think we found our puppy. He's a Goldendoodle and will grow to be about 40 to 45 pounds, which seems like a manageable size for apartment life, and the lack of shedding will be a huge plus. The sellers are asking for $1,250 for him. We tell them we'll sleep on it and get back to them tomorrow with our final decision.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — I wake up (on time finally) and get ready for work. I make a PB&J for lunch again, grab a bike, and get to the office just after 9. Our secretary makes toast with strawberries and sugar every spring when the strawberries come into season, and today is that day! So that's my breakfast, along with coffee.
11 a.m. — I pay our power bill and my credit card bill for the month. I generally use my credit card for day-to-day transactions and then pay it off each month by transferring chunks from my checking account. I do this to build credit and collect points. I've only let a balance roll into the next month once, during a month when I'd made large purchases.
12:30 p.m. — BF wants to meet somewhere for lunch, but I have a 1 p.m. meeting so I tell him I'm going to eat my PB&J at my desk. Kinda bummed because I would love to get lunch with him and talk about puppy decisions. It's all I can think about today! At this point, we're just trying to decide which one out of the two puppies they had that we want to adopt. I'm leaving the final call up to him, because he's been looking forward to getting a puppy for as long as I've known him and I want him to be happy with whichever pup we bring home.
4:30 p.m. — We have decided on the puppy! It's really happening. I text the seller, tell her which one we want, and transfer the $300 deposit to her bank account. I feel simultaneously ecstatic and worried about everything this is going to entail (especially since we live in an apartment and both have full-time jobs). Luckily, both of us work in dog-friendly offices that are walking distance from home, and we have family around to help, so it seems like as good a time as any to get a pup. $300
6 p.m. — My sister is an artist and she's going to have a booth set up at an art festival this weekend. We have a small group of friends over to our house to help fold t-shirts and package prints in preparation for it. I order two large pizzas for the group and tip the delivery girl 20% because she is very fast and nice. $40
11:59 p.m. — We finish all the prep for my sister's art show. It's late, and I feel exhausted and emotional. I'm so grateful to the friends who came to help us, I'm a little overwhelmed about the future but excited about getting a puppy, and mostly just really tired.
Daily Total: $340

Day Five

8:25 a.m. — I wake up very relieved that it's Friday, but I'm starting to worry about the puppy paperwork I need to give to our leasing office. Our building is not technically pet friendly, but there are lots of residents who have emotional support animals, and I've had a signed form from my therapist for while, so I need to fill out the info about what kind of animal we're getting and turn it in so they can review it. I'm desperately hoping that they don't deny our request for some reason.
12 p.m. — Things in the office are pretty relaxed today. The weather is amazing, so I decide to join a few coworkers and walk to City Creek for lunch. We go to Red Iguana Express and I get the Friday special and a cup of water. We spend an hour and a half sitting outside, talking and enjoying the weather. $8
6 p.m. — I leave the office and call my mom to see how she's doing. I chat with her while I go to the gas station to fill up my car. $41
6:15 p.m. — I get home and find that I've received a couple packages I ordered online last week: underwear ($34) and new Birkenstock sandals ($144).
9 p.m. — BF and I make pasta for dinner, and I paint my nails while we watch Silicon Valley and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $49

Day Six

6 a.m. — It's festival day! We wake up, get ready for the day, and get to the festival for setup by 7:30. It's a beautiful day and tons of people are here setting up their booths. It's fun to do something totally different from my normal Saturday routine. BF helps us with setup and then leaves to help another friend with a yard project. My sister and I are hungry by 11 a.m., so we eat PB&Js that I brought with us. I find it odd that this is my third PB&J this week when it's probably been a year or two since I last had one. They're just so easy.
3: p.m. — After hanging out at the booth for a while, my friend and I are starving and decide to leave my sis in charge and walk over to the food truck area. We each get a foot-long corndog and eat on the park lawn while obsessing over every dog that walks by. $7
4 p.m. — It's time to break down the booth and leave the festival. Break down goes quite a bit faster than setup, and my sister takes the booth gear back to her friends' place and returns the rental van while my BF and I head home.
8 p.m. — We go out with friends for a little while to unwind after the festival. We get tacos and margaritas at Taqueria 27, and I get the check to thank my BF for helping my sis out this week. $41
10 p.m. — We walk over to Bar X for drinks. BF pays. After the long day we've had, with a full tummy and two cocktails in me, we go to bed by 11.
Daily Total: $48

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling very well-rested. I spend the first half of the day doing laundry and dishes, cleaning the apartment, and doing some house plant care while my BF runs errands and goes to Costco for a few groceries. I'm very thankful to be with someone who splits household duties with me pretty evenly, even though I'm doing most of them on this particular day. I like today's trade-off though, because going to Costco on Sundays stresses me out. Honestly, I'm just happy any time I get to stay home, pretty much under any circumstance.
6 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day working on my laptop from bed. Dinner is white rice and pork that my BF's mom made and sent home with him earlier today. It's yummy and costs nothing.
Daily Total: $0
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!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money


R29 Original Series