A Week In Santa Fe On A $57,720 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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)
This week: a geophysicist and PhD student making $57,720 per year, who recently bought a house with her boyfriend.
Occupation: Geophysicist
Industry: DOE contractor
Age: 27
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Salary: $57,720
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,527
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $800. My boyfriend and I split a two-bedroom casita with a backyard for our two dogs.
Loan Payments: I have ~$1,500 in student loans and pay $50/month towards them.
Roth IRA contribution: $150
Gym Membership: $170 Orangetheory unlimited membership
Cell Phone: ~$55/month. (I use Project Fi from Google so this varies.)
Credit Card Payment: $40 on a 0% interest card.
401(k): $220. The first 6% is matched by my employer each pay period, along with a 3.5% annual contribution.
HSA: $70 pre-tax contribution
Health insurance: $102 pre-tax High Deductible Health Plan insurance
Split Expenses With My Boyfriend From Our Joint account
Car Payment: $408 for our 2014 Subaru Outback
Car/Renters Insurance: $183. We have four bundled policies that cover my Honda Accord, the Subaru Outback, my boyfriend's motorcycle, and our renters insurance.
Internet: $54
Water: $80 water and trash/recycling
Electricity: $60

Day One

6:00 a.m. — My boyfriend wakes me up to show me a house that just came on the market, we text our realtor to ask for a showing ASAP. After getting pre-approved for a mortgage last week, we are officially on the house hunt.
8:00 a.m. — Quickly make coffee at home before my 8:15 Orangetheory class
9:30 a.m. — Home from the gym, I make sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burritos on homemade tortillas and have an Earl Grey tea.
11:20 a.m. — We have an hour to kill before our house showing today, so we drive by the outlets and stop by Levi's. I need new black jeans but don't want to pay full price, so I postpone for later. I do pick up four blouses for work from Loft, all 50% off. $120
12:30 p.m. — Meet our realtor f0r a showing. The house is $289,000, in a bad neighborhood, and small. There is zero closet space, which is a problem because we have a lot of stuff. We pass almost immediately after walking in.
1:30 p.m. — We the dogs to the dog park before heading home since we are in the area.
2:30 p.m. — I eat an applesauce topped with cinnamon while making Annie's Mac and cheese. I mix frozen peas into mine and have a side of broccoli tots with ketchup.
5:00 p.m. — Our friend cancels on us for beers, so we head out to a new tap room and share a flight of five beers and two appetizers: spiced nuts and a popover with a Gruyere dip. $25
6:30 p.m. — We get home but aren't hungry for dinner so I make popcorn and watch John Wick. I make myself hot chocolate with Ovaltine and milk.
Daily Total: $145

Day Two

8:00 — I make coffee and steel cut oats using my rice cooker. The oats boil over and make a huge mess so I finish them on the stove with soy milk, walnuts, shredded coconut, and cranberries. I eat half and put half away for my work breakfast.
9:15 — Orangetheory. So. Many. Squats.
10:30 — I run home for a quick shower and make two pieces of PB&J toast that I eat in the car on the way to the next house showing.
11:15 a.m. — I arrive early for the showing, so I drive around the neighborhood and discover that the backyard opens up to an arroyo, which has a paved running and bike path. The bike path leads straight to the community center where my boyfriend plays hockey!
11:30 — Our realtor is out of town, so we walk through the house with the listing agent. The house is a little dingier than what was shown in the photos. The cabinets and baseboards need a fresh coat of paint and so does the deck. The listing also neglected to show that the master suite is in the basement — but it is huge and the bathroom has a giant shower, soaking tub, and sauna. There is an additional room off the master that I decide can be used as a night nursery down the road, alleviating the need to walk upstairs when we have kids.
1:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I agree to put an offer in on the house. The listing realtor tells us that the owners purchased it for $350,000 and are looking to get out ASAP, which is why it's listed for $300,000. We agree that some work needs to be done — painting cabinets, painting deck, landscaping — but it's nothing that we can't do ourselves.
2:00 p.m. — I snack on tortilla chips and hummus while making grilled ham and cheese and the rest of the broccoli tots. After eating, I survey our fridge and make a weekly meal plan and grocery list based on what is left.
3:00 p.m. — We speak with our realtor, who starts writing up our offer. We have decided to offer the full listing price, $300,000.
4:00 p.m. — I grocery shop for the week. I'm very into Albertsons Monopoly and purposely choose products that will get us tickets. I buy the same groceries every week and try to buy organic as much as possible: O.J., yogurt, coffee beans, tortillas, bell peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, bananas, and a giant box of spinach. I also buy ingredients for beef stroganoff, my boyfriend's meal request of the week, along with a new acne wash and two boxes of Yogi teas that are on sale. Two people ahead of me in the checkout line don't play Monopoly, so I get their tickets as well! $105.56
6:00 p.m. — I make white chicken chili for dinner, along with an organic take-and-bake baguette. I also open a bottle of two-buck chuck to deglaze the pan while I'm cooking and drink a glass as well.
8:00 — The realtor emails us the terms of the offer and asks us to sign electronically. We agree to pay $5,000 of earnest money and confirm that we will be put 5% — $15,000 — down on the house. We watch an episode of The Man in the High Castle before bed.
Daily Total: $105.56

Day Three

6:00 a.m. — I brew coffee and pack our lunches while my boyfriend feeds the dogs and puts away the dishes before we head out.
7:30 a.m. — I check my email while eating reheated oatmeal from yesterday. I confirm that our offer was submitted to the buyers and start pulling together paperwork for the loan officer. When I print out my student loan statement, I discover that my loans have been put back into deferment due to my re-enrollment in school as a PhD student.
8:15 a.m. — I check Credit Karma and see that my score has gone up 20 points! I'm now at 742/746. I previously had four hard injuries from financing my Subaru, but those have all been removed. I text boyfriend to tell him the good news.
12:00 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk: strawberries and leftover chili with saltines, followed by Yogi's Peach DeTox tea.
3:00 p.m. — I eat an afternoon snack of celery, peppers, and an apple. We should receive news on our offer by 5 p.m. but I have not heard anything yet. I'm starting to get nervous.
5:15 p.m. — I pick up my boyfriend at his office. He has just heard from realtor, and we should receive a counteroffer in a few hours. We spend the car ride home debating what the counteroffer will entail.
7:00 p.m. — The counteroffer comes in and the only changes are clarifying a few maintenance requests. The washer might be broken so they offer us a $500 credit towards a home warranty instead of replacing it. We sign, return, and are officially under contract!
7:30 p.m. — I drink a glass of two-buck chuck to celebrate while I make dinner: zoodles, red sauce, Trader Joe's eggplant cutlets, and another demi-baguette on the side. We spend the rest of the night calling our family and friends to tell them the good news!
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

4:45 a.m. — I wake up for a 5 a.m. Orangetheory class. Afterwards, I drive home, swap cars, and we head out to work.
7:00 a.m. — I drop boyfriend off and head next door for a rye bagel with veggie cream cheese. It costs $3.10 but I pay $4 and leave the change as a tip. $4
7:15 a.m. — There is a swimming pool between our offices, so I try to go for a swim twice a week. (I'm training for an Olympic triathlon in July with my dad and two friends.) I bought a 10-punch pass for $31.50, so each swim costs $3.15. I swim 1000 yards and shower at the pool.
8:15 a.m. — I drink coffee from home and have the bagel at my desk.
12:00 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk: I mix a Peach DeTox tea with one bag of green tea for a little caffeine boost, and have zoodles, red sauce, and some leftover bread from last night. I also execute a 60-day sell order on 65 shares of my Chevron stocks. I set the limit for $119/share, the 52-week high — totaling $7,735. This will be the bulk of my share of the house down payment.
5:20 p.m. — I'm running late to pick my boyfriend up. We battle with spotty cell service and confirm our loan application appointment for tomorrow.
6:20 p.m. — Home! We quickly feed the dogs and I make Annie's macaroni, mixing in some beef and taco seasoning. I pack our lunches for tomorrow while the macaroni is cooking.
7:00 — The Banff Film Festival is going on at the local theater. I bought the tickets last month as a Valentine's Day gift. We decide to skip the second half of the films after the 9 p.m. intermission and head home since it's past our bedtime.
Daily Total: $4

Day Five

6:20 a.m. — We've both overslept. I quickly feed the dogs, make coffee, and throw together my go-to smoothie: Two bananas, O.J., plain yogurt, and enough spinach to fill the blender.
7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work only 15 minutes late — not bad for oversleeping by 30 minutes.
12:00 p.m. — On Wednesdays, I conference into an infrasound seminar. I'm a full-time PhD student but am only taking one class this semester, which luckily counts as work to my boss. I eat my lunch — tuna packet mixed with mayo, crackers, cucumbers, and celery—while on the call.
3:00 p.m. — I receive a $10 reimbursement check from work for two lunches that I was able to claim while I was at a software training in Albuquerque last week. This isn't how much I actually spent on the lunches; it's how much I'm allowed to be reimbursed for.
3:15 p.m. — I fill out my timecard. I submit my time each week and have cost codes for each project I work on — three at the moment, plus a special cost code that will cover my day of volunteering tomorrow.
5:15 p.m. — I leave work early to meet with our mortgage officer. Her office is located downtown so I pay $2 for meter parking. She pulls our credit and I'm pleasantly surprised to see my score has gone up more: the median one is 753. My boyfriend and I give her all of our financial accounts and statements from the past two years. I have about $45,000 in Vanguard accounts: brokerage, traditional and Roth IRAs, along with $1,500 in a Fidelity 401(k) since starting my position in October. $2
7:00 p.m. — My friend Carl is in Santa Fe for work and it's his birthday! We meet him at his hotel for a drink before dinner. $24
8:00 p.m. — We get dinner at Cafe Pasqual's, a restaurant that I've never seen without a line out the door. We share three appetizers, a smoked trout salad, melted brie with crackers, and a papusa. Boyfriend and I share a hearts of romaine salad and chicken paillard and each get a glass of wine. Carl's coworker pays half the check and we pay the other half. $122 plus a $24 tip. $146
Daily Total: $172

Day Six

7:00 a.m. — I walk to the coffee shop next door and get a medium Americano and two breakfast tacos before my volunteering event starts. The price wasn't listed for the tacos and I immediately regret purchasing them once I pay. $12
7:45 a.m. — I walk to the convention center where I check in for my volunteer position. I'm leading a team of 10 middle school girls through a day of STEM programs. Work offers 36 hours a year of science outreach community service, so I'm taking advantage of it.
12:00 p.m. — I eat a veggie burrito lunch provided by the conference and then run next door to the title company where I drop off our earnest money check. That's $5,000 out of my boyfriend's account since he has more liquid cash at the moment.
3:00 p.m. — After the conference, I walk home and meet Carl. We walk the dogs to a cigar store where he buys two cigars, and then we go to Whole Foods where I buy a ginger kombucha, vitamin D, and powdered collagen. $22
4:00 p.m. — Carl smokes his cigar on our patio while I drink a kombucha Moscow Mule. When my boyfriend gets home, I heat up Trader Joe's frozen spinach artichoke dip that we eat with tortilla chips.
7:00 p.m. — I make one-pot beef stroganoff and a side of shredded Brussels sprouts. After dinner, I attempt a small batch of coconut oil chocolate chip cookies. The recipe does not turn out well but we eat them anyways.
Daily Total: $34

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I work a flex schedule and have every other Friday off since I work 9-hour days the rest of the week. We go out to breakfast before Carl leaves town. Boyfriend and I split stuffed French toast and huevos rancheros. $39.33
11:30 a.m. — I show up at 11:30 for an Orangetheory class that actually started at 11:15. They won't let me in, but they do let me reschedule for this afternoon — and don't charge me a no-show fee!
12:00 p.m. — I eat leftover beef stroganoff before cleaning out my closet and filling a giant bag of clothes to send in to ThredUp. Work on a big proposal for school/work and make pizza dough in my stand mixer before Orangetheory at 4:30.
7:00 p.m. — I go to Whole Foods for fresh mozzarella and crescent rolls that I'll use to make pot pies tomorrow. $7
7:30 p.m. — It's pizza night! We make personal pizzas; mine has shaved Brussels sprouts, olive oil, parmesan, and mozzarella. Watch three episodes of Grand Designs on Netflix before bed.
Daily Total: $46.33
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