A Week In Tacoma, WA, On A $55,700 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.
Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a sponsorship coordinator working at a nonprofit who makes $55,700 per year and spends some of her money this week on Enlightened ice cream.
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Occupation: Sponsorship Coordinator
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 36
Location: Tacoma, WA
Salary: $55,700
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,743
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $822.32 (I bought a 1,100 square foot two-bedroom, one-bathroom house 10 years ago. My payment includes property taxes. My boyfriend, T., lives with me and gives me $570/month to help with various bills/utilities/etc.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I worked while going to school, so I don't have any student loans.)
Car Loan Payment: $0 (I paid off my car a couple years ago.)
Health Insurance: $0 (covered by my employer)
Power/Water/Sewer/Garbage: $268
Home & Car Insurance: $130
Internet: $40
Phones: $154 (My mom and boyfriend are both on my plan.)
Netflix: $12
Hulu: $13
Patreon: $10
Storage Unit: $55
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Dropbox: $11
PicMonkey: $8
Planet Fitness: $20
Retirement: $450 (I contribute 5% of my income to my company's Roth 401(k) and they contribute an additional 4%. I also just started putting $100 per paycheck into my Roth IRA.)
Savings: ~$400. I try to move $100-$200 per paycheck into savings but sometimes I forget. I also “pay” myself $5 every time I go to the gym and stick it in a separate savings account that I use to treat myself. I bought myself Botox for my birthday this year and paid for it out of my gym account.

Day One

6:30 a.m. — Finally give in to my alarm that I've been snoozing since 6 a.m. I work from home two days a week, so I stagger over to my laptop and let it boot up while I pour myself a giant mug of coffee. My boyfriend, T., works from home every day, so I let him sleep in a little. Fridays are pretty slow days for work, so I love the chance to catch up on laundry and housework in between work tasks so I don't have to spend as much time doing them over the weekend. I throw a load of laundry in the wash and scrub my bathtub.
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7:30 a.m. — Check the Dress Barn website and see that their jeans are on sale for $19.50 a pair, with an extra $10 off if you spend $75. I buy a pair of black skinny jeans in my size, plus three pairs in a size smaller and then tell all my Instagram followers about the sale. I had weight loss surgery a couple years ago and am still slowly losing weight. For $19.50 a pair, I'll stick them into a space bag until it's time to go down a size. $74.87
8 a.m. — Check to see if my paycheck has deposited in my account (it has), and promptly pay off my current credit card balance. Catch up on Instagram stories in between replying to work emails.
8:30 a.m. — I step outside and see the lid to the cat litter box I threw away last week. This reminds me that I still need to order a new one, so I hop on Amazon and order it, plus a pack of graph paper as an add-on item. I do a lot of crafting in the fall (and occasionally sell my crafts at holiday gift fairs), and one of my favorite crafts is taking old books with interesting covers, cutting the guts out, and replacing them with blank paper for sketchbooks/journals. I've been wanting to try graph paper inserts. $32.45
10:30 a.m. — Take a break from work and eat breakfast. I eat the same thing every single day: a veggie sausage patty and a little cup of guacamole. It's protein and healthy fats, and usually fills me up until lunch. (My weight loss surgery removed 75% of my stomach, so six to eight ounces of food fills me up.) I'm not a vegetarian, I just like the way the veggie sausage patties taste.
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12 p.m. — Eat caprese salad left over from last night's dinner. Then I run over to JCPenney on my lunch break and pick up sweaters that I ordered last week. Technically my sweaters from last year still fit, but they're getting loose. This is the first time in my life I've ever fit into size medium clothing. (I was an XXL for most of my adult life, but have lost about 100 pounds over the past two and a half years.) I do a little happy dance in the fitting room, because they fit. Weight loss has been great for my self-esteem and health, but terrible for my wallet.
1 p.m. — Swing by Walgreens on my way home to get a flu shot (covered by my insurance). I work for a nonprofit, but we're a nonprofit with money, so I'm fortunate to have the Cadillac of health insurance plans. (Although, it doesn't cover weight loss surgery — I went to Mexico for my surgery a few weeks before I started this job.) I can't remember the last time I got the flu, but would rather not tempt fate. I get a bad cold about twice a year and am a snotty, coughing mess for about two weeks each time. Plus, I'm doing more traveling than usual this fall, and airplanes are flying tin cans of germs.
4:30 p.m. — Finish work for the day and head to the gym for a cardio session. I miss the exercise classes at my old gym, but this one is a mile from my house and half the price of any other. I do 50 minutes on the arc trainer while watching an episode of Suits on my tablet. After my workout, I grab a 15-minute chair massage and head home.
6 p.m. — Get home and start cooking bacon while catching up with my mom on the phone. T. gets home from errands and makes turkey and bacon sandwiches for dinner. I eat half my sandwich and part of a container of low calorie ice cream while watching more CSI.
10:30 p.m. — Take a shower, put Simple moisturizer on my face (I have no real skincare routine), and hop in bed. I toss and turn for about an hour because T. won't put his phone away, so I remind him that he has to get up at 5:30 and tell him to put the damn phone away. Fall asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $107.32

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — Wake up and notice that T. is still in bed. I tell him the time and he mumbles that he just needs a few more minutes. He rolls out of bed at 6 and I fall back asleep. He kisses me goodbye at 6:30 and I fall back asleep again.
8:45 a.m. — Dad texts me to ask if I want a mocha, and I decline. I go to my dad's house every Saturday to balance his checkbook and make sure he's doing okay. My stepmother passed away a couple years ago and he's never really had to take care of himself before. He's terrible with money and adult responsibilities in general, so I spend about an hour a week making sure he's not broke and is taking care of business.
9 a.m. — Throw on last night's workout clothes and head to the gym for a 30-minute weight circuit. My arm hurts from yesterday's flu shot, but I power through. I finish and relax in the hydro massage chair for 10 minutes before heading down to my dad's. Before I leave, I grab a pound of ground beef out of the chest freezer in his garage. I got a vacuum sealer for my birthday, so I've been buying more meat in bulk when it's on sale and storing it at his place because he has more room.
12 p.m. — Wash dishes and eat ceviche I picked up at the local bodega a couple days ago. It's a little too spicy for me (I'm a wuss), but I didn't feel like getting all the ingredients and making it myself. I'm pissed because I only find five little shrimps in the whole cup. I toss the rest because it's not worth suffering through the heat for no shrimp. I eat a couple pieces of cheese, clean out my fridge, make a grocery list for tomorrow, and then get distracted watching Instagram stories. I don't know how people that follow 1,000+ accounts do it. I follow 150 and feel like I can barely keep up with them.
4 p.m. — Wake up from a nap, reheat shredded pork, crack open an energy drink, and decide to go grocery shopping a day early. I'm going out with friends tonight and will probably be out late, so I'll feel less guilty about sleeping in tomorrow if my grocery shopping is already done. I head to WinCo and pick up kielbasa, coleslaw mix, frozen veggies, ice cream, energy drinks, hand soap, drink mixes, sugar, salt, a beer for T., apple slices, paper plates, and compostable forks. T. will pay me back 50% of what we both eat and 100% of the things only he eats. $82.23
8:30 p.m. — Head to the bar with my friends after pregaming at their apartment. I pay the $10 cover and we meet up with a few more friends. I buy a round for the table, give the drag queens a few bucks in tips, and then order chicken strips and fries for the table, since we're all drunk AF. $65
12 a.m. — Get a ride back to my friend's apartment, and I'm too drunk to drive home. T. is still awake and offers to come get me so I don't have to spend $10 on a Lyft. When we get home, I shower, scrub my makeup off, and pass out.
Daily Total: $147.23

Day Three

4 a.m. — Wake up for no good reason, stagger around the house a little, and realize I'm probably still drunk. Chug water and go back to bed. T. gets up at 5:30 and heads out for the day. He's working at a local racetrack all weekend.
9 a.m. — I feel slightly better and don't want to sleep in anymore, since it'll throw off my sleep schedule for the work week. I drink a mug of coffee and think about what to wear to brunch with my bestie. We live in the same town, but she works crazy long hours and I haven't seen her in several weeks. I throw on workout clothes in case I decide to go for a walk later, grab a Lyft back to my car, and head to the waterfront for brunch. We visit for an hour and a half and I get eggs, bacon, and grits. She pays and calls it a belated birthday present. The weather is too dicey for me to want to attempt a walk on the waterfront afterwards, so I just come home. $13
3:30 p.m. — Wake up from another nap and feel mostly back to normal, so I head to the kitchen to start my meal prep. I make sausage and fajita veggies for my lunches and crack slaw (deconstructed egg roll) for my dinners. I save the recipes in MyFitnessPal to make it easier to track during the week.
5:30 p.m. — Decide I'm no longer hungover, so I drag my butt to the gym for 45 minutes on the arc trainer and a hydro massage. Before I go, I eat a piece of cheese and a couple ounces of deli turkey to tide me over until dinner. T. comes home from his day at the racetrack with food: lengua torta for him and chicken street tacos for me. He pays. I wash my dinner down with ice cream, and we watch CSI reruns. I shower and am in bed by 9:30.
Daily Total: $13

Day Four

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I hit snooze until 6:30, and roll out of bed by 6:40. I throw on workout clothes in case I decide to go for a run later in the morning, stick my hair in a knot, and stagger into the kitchen. I pack my breakfast and lunch, fill my travel mug with coffee, and head to work. My commute is only about 25 minutes in the morning, and today I get in 10 minutes late, but I'm still one of the first people to arrive. I work in a very casual office, which is why I can look like a frump most of the time. (I'm always clean, but I don't “do” my hair or wear makeup.) I finish my coffee before eating my usual breakfast at my desk and catching up on weekend emails.
10:30 a.m. — Hungry again, so I eat a piece of cheese and check my calendar to see if I have time for a run. My job is very supportive of healthy lifestyle choices, so they're totally fine with me ducking out for 30 to 45 minutes in the middle of the day to go for a run, as long as I'm not scheduled for any meetings.
12:30 p.m. — Drink a bottle of water and heat up my meal prep: turkey kielbasa and fajita veggies, as well as a small piece of cheese. I feel like I'm starving, so I eat slow and hope six ounces of food is enough to fill me up today. While I'm digesting, I run up to Safeway to top off my gas tank. The weather is really nice today, but it's supposed to be crappy for the rest of the week, so I'd rather do it now. $23
3 p.m. — I head to the kitchen to eat apple slices and a tiny handful of wasabi and soy sauce almonds that my mom gave me. She orders a lot of snacks online and often shares new flavors/items with me. My coworker walks by and compliments my weight loss, which I appreciate.
4 p.m. — I'm FREEEE! I actually like my job, but today was kinda boring, so the hours crept by. My commute home takes twice as long as my morning commute because I get stuck with all the people coming home from Seattle. I skip the gym, since I went for a run earlier. I'm starving by the time I get home, so I heat up my egg roll in a bowl. I also eat way too much cheddar and caramel popcorn while watching TV.
8 p.m. — Decide to call it an early night. I shower, crawl into bed, and continue watching TV and screwing around on my phone until 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $23

Day Five

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hit snooze a couple times. T. has a conference call at 7, so we both roll out of bed by 6:30 in order to give our coffee enough time to kick in. I'm working from home today, so I deal with emails and a couple phone calls and then check in with my boss via IM. I have my quarterly performance review later this week, so I start working on writing a list of my accomplishments for the quarter.
9 a.m. — Usual breakfast of veggie sausage patty and guacamole cup, followed by a handful of honey mustard pretzels that T. brought home from his weekend at the racetrack. I throw in a load of laundry and wait until he's is done with one of his calls before I throw it in the dryer. Our dryer is dying a slow, squeaky death, and I'm just waiting for it to completely crap out before I buy a new one. I bought the current one at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $90 years ago, so I'm pretty happy with how long it's lasted.
10 a.m. — I process a return through Amazon for a belt I bought that was too big. I'm never sure of my sizing these days, so I tend to order just about everything in two different sizes and return whatever doesn't fit. God bless free returns.
12 p.m. — I eat my prepped sausage and veggies, along with another handful of pretzels. Then I run over to Costco Business Center and order 5,000 flyers for an upcoming fundraiser I'm volunteering for. They'll reimburse me ($205.51). I wander around Costco and pick up protein shakes, frozen fajita bowls, and seaweed snacks, too. $45.97
4 p.m. — Done with work for the day. I change into workout clothes and T. and I walk to the gym, where I lift weights while he goes on the treadmill. When we get home, I heat up and eat my egg roll in a bowl and T. makes breakfast casserole for dinner. He went a little overboard at the bakery outlet about a week ago and has a bunch of bread he needs to use up before it gets moldy. I eat some Chilly Cow ice cream for dessert.
7 p.m. — Get a push notification from Boohoo that they have $8 dresses. Usually I ignore these notifications (and really should turn them off), but I decide to check out the sale. I buy work slacks, sunglasses, push up pads (weight loss has severely deflated my boobs) and a dress that I might wear to Vegas next year. Turn the computer off, head to bed, and fall asleep by 10:30. $46.59
Daily Total: $92.56

Day Six

6 a.m. — Hit snooze too many times because my back is extra stiff this morning, so I'm moving slower than usual. Then I pack my lunch and gym bag, fill up my travel mug, and am out the door. I roll into work late (again), put my lunch in the fridge, and realize I forgot my breakfast guacamole cup. Damn. Oh well. Sit down and reply to emails.
9:30 a.m. — I heat up my sausage patty and melt a Babybel cheese over the top. It's a little rubbery, but surprisingly delicious. I throw a couple of apple slices on my plate, too, as I'm not sure the cheese and sausage will fill me up. Then I walk to WinCo to stretch my legs and pick up a few items: veggie sausage patties, syrup, an energy drink, water enhancers, and deodorant. $22.09
12 p.m. — I eat my lunch and then have two and a half hours of straight meetings, concluding with a team-building event that involves several questionable-tasting gluten- and dairy-free ice creams. I eat a handful of toppings and realize I need more "real” food, so I eat a packet of tuna with a little Greek yogurt dressing and snack on apple slices throughout the afternoon.
4 p.m. — I'm off work. I swing by the house, pick up T., and head to the gym. Afterwards, we head home and warm up leftovers and eat cookies that were brought to a meeting today. I watch TV, shower, crawl in bed, and pass out at 9:30.
Daily Total: $22.09

Day Seven

6:50 a.m. — Roll out of bed, late as usual. Pack lunch bag, grab coffee, and head out the door. Roll into work 10 minutes late, finish my coffee, and drink a big bottle of water as I catch up on emails and prep for my weekly check-in with my boss. Eat the same breakfast I eat every day.
11:30 a.m. — Finish my meetings for the day and microwave my meal prep. Swing by the post office and drop off my Amazon return. Not ready to head back to work, so I stop at the Grocery Outlet next door and pick up brownie brittle for the communal chocolate stash at work, seaweed snacks for T., chicken sausage for next week's lunches, and Enlightened ice cream because it's the cheapest I've ever seen it. $22.93
2 p.m. — I'm still hungry after lunch, so I eat a pouch of tuna, hoping the protein will tide me over for longer.
4 p.m. — Off work and headed to the gym for a weight circuit. I'm exhausted and realize that today will be 10 days in a row that I've worked out. Maybe I'll take a break this weekend. I get home and catch up on the phone with my mom while I microwave my meal prep. Watch Paradise PD on Netflix with T. for a while before switching to CSI and eating handfuls of popcorn. I'm showered and in bed by 9:30.
Daily Total: $22.93
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