Money Diaries logo

A Week In Houston, TX, On A $92,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Essie.
Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: An operations manager who makes $92,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Essie’s No To-Do nail polish.
Occupation: Operations manager
Industry: Oil and gas
Age: 27
Location: Houston, TX
Salary: $92,000
Net Worth: -$53,603 (My IRA minus credit card debt and my car loan)
Debt: $31,025 left of my car loan and $25,078 of credit card debt from living in NYC. I don’t regret it, but it’s taking a while to pay off.
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,595
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,600 for a one-bed
Car Loan: $800 (I pay more than the minimum $600 to pay it off faster.)
Credit Card Debt: $800
Internet: $45
Electricity: $40-$220
Therapy: $160
Travel Savings: $400
General Savings: $300
Car Wash Membership: $20
Amazon Prime: $13.04
Spotify: $10.99
Patreon: $5
Apple TV: $10.81
iCloud: $0.99
Max: $14.99 (I share with my mom, and she pays for the Netflix account.) Whalebone Magazine: $5.44
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, there was. My parents did not grow up with the resources to attend higher education, so they did everything in their power to make sure my brothers and I did. My dad started saving for my college tuition when I was born. I went to two universities for my bachelor’s degree and graduated in 3 and a half years. I took summer and winter courses so I could graduate as quickly as possible.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We did not talk about money at all. I remember being shocked at how much groceries were when I was a kid. And then when I was in high school my parents sat us down and talked about how my dad was going to change jobs and how that was going to impact us financially, but I never saw a difference since it was never talked about. My high school boyfriend’s family were the ones to teach me about credit cards, interests, and what to do and not to do. I got my first credit card at 21 after my dad begged me not to, thinking it was going to be the root of all of my issues, but I never felt this. If anything, I have more issues with credit now, but that was my decision.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was in the daycare center. I’d babysat since I was 12, so I always loved kids, and I knew the manager of the location. I got the job right when I turned 16, and stayed until I graduated high school. It helped me save up everything for my first apartment in college since I did not want to live in a dorm.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not have to worry about money until I was in college. I am very blessed for that and do not take it for granted.
Do you worry about money now?
I worry about money a lot now. I worry about getting out of debt as soon as I want to and about being able to own a home in my current neighborhood. There are two most important things I want out of life, and one is to own and care for an old historic home. The other thing is to adopt children. This will also cost a good amount of money since it would just be cheaper to give birth on my own. So I only worry about not being able to achieve these two things and still being able to pay for groceries.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself fully right out of college. I paid for my health insurance years before I needed to. My parents wanted to still pay for me, but I wanted to be independent. I have only needed help a few times since. When I was living in NYC, my complex got bought out and the new owners gave me less than a week to move out. Thankfully, I was lucky to be able to move to my family’s lake house for a few months rent free, since I took great care of the house. The only other time I needed financial help was to move to Houston. My parents lent me $1,500 for my apartment’s deposit which I fully paid back in three weeks.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I have not received any passive or inherited income.

Day One

6 a.m. — My dog wakes me up to go outside to potty. I go back to sleep to wake up at 7 a.m.
9:55 a.m. — Wake up late. After laying in bed doing some Duolingo, planning the work day with some coworkers, and responding to some emails, I get out of bed to take my dog out again. There is a risk of tornados today, so it may throw off my entire day of when I get to the office. I plan to go around noon.
10:15 a.m. — I drive to my favorite coffee place. I get a vegan breakfast taco and an oat milk cappuccino ($10 with tip). I listen to some Avery After Dark, journal, and play a couple of rounds of Fortnite on my Nintendo Switch. $10
12:13 p.m. — I make some kimchi ramen for lunch, change my clothes, get ready for the day, wait for a break in the storm, and let my dog out again. I leave for the office at 1:25 p.m.
4:45 p.m. — There is not a dang thing to do so we close a little early and I make a quick stop at the post office. Then I go to my favorite Cajun restaurant to meet up with my good friend, S., and her mom. I get happy-hour fried pickles, Abita Purple Haze, and a bowl of seafood gumbo ($27.64). I get another beer, but my friend’s mom pays. $27.64
7:34 p.m. — I leave the restaurant for my book club which is at a bar across the street. I have a great time and leave a little after 8:30 p.m. to get back to my dog.
9:14 p.m. — I get home and plug in my dead phone. I walk my dog, shower, and start some laundry, which is shared in the hallway. Because of this, I need to wait for it to be done to go to bed, which is annoying. I play with my dog for a while and listen to my favorite podcast, Two Girls One Ghost. I make some chai and then put on a Paige Wassel video on YouTube. While watching, I buy a few things on Amazon. I get a lick mat for my dog, some paw wipes, two books, and my favorite nail polish (Essie’s No To-Do). $55.42
11:28 p.m. — Of course the dryer stops mid-cycle. Our property management is the worst, so 10 apartments share one semi-working dryer. I restart the dryer, eat some pretzel sticks, read some more, and then let my dog out one last time.
1:28 a.m. — The laundry is finally dry! I put it away quickly then pass out.
Daily Total: $93.06

Day Two

7:47 a.m. — I get up after an hour of snoozing. I am just so tired. I listen to Two Girls One Ghost and then leave for the office at 8:38 a.m.
11:05 a.m. — My coworker and I go check the office mail and then get lunch together at a sushi place. We put lunch on our boss’ card.
2:25 p.m. — I leave the office. I stop at the car wash on the way to a friend’s house. I am so beyond grateful for my car wash membership. I also grab an oat milk cortado at a drive-thru coffee shop (not Starbucks because of how they spend their money). $4.98
4:46 p.m. — I meant to stop by and have a quick visit with my friend, but I have such a good time I’m there for a few hours. I have another coffee while hanging out with them. I am one of those people who can drink coffee right before bed. Thank the universe for my fast caffeine metabolism! I head out, grab two books from the library, and stop to get gas. $30.22
5:37 p.m. — Got home excited to see my dog and then see that he tore apart his bed when I was gone. He is not usually destructive, so I’m very upset. I clean up his mess, take him for a walk, and then make mushroom soup. I eat, read, and drink a Heineken 0.0.
10:21 p.m. — I pole dance for a workout and hobby, so I have a pole in my bedroom. I practice for 30 minutes. Then, I shower, do my skin care, brush my teeth, and grab fresh water. I take the dog out one last time and then go to bed.
Daily Total: $35.20

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up after snoozing my alarms for 30 minutes. I get ready, take the dog for a walk, and then head to the office at 7:40 a.m.
11:39 a.m. — I go pick up my usual lunch — hot and sour soup at a nearby Chinese restaurant ($6.57). I eat my lunch at my desk and got some more work done. I usually leave before traffic gets bad, so I go home at 3 p.m. $6.57
5:23 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk then head out to get my friend, H., for run club. We go for a run and then end at a brewery for a beer ($14.10). I then go over to her house for dinner. $14.10
10:30 p.m. — I finally get home and quickly shower, let my dog out one last time, read a couple of chapters in my book, and then pass out well before midnight.
Daily Total: $20.67

Day Four

7:38 a.m. — I get up and ready for the day. I’m working from home today. I take a couple of calls and then head to my doctor’s appointment.
8:41 a.m. — I have had a lot of unresolved health issues for years, so I get bloodwork done often to prevent things from getting worse. I am not on any kind of medication right now since my levels change almost every time I get checked. I get my flu shot while I’m here, since it was free. I have to pay for parking. $5
10:45 a.m. — I get home, walk the dog, and then heat up some leftover mushroom soup for lunch. Work is slow so I do some cleaning.
1:38 p.m. — I’m hungry so I make some lemon pasta. Then I get some movie tickets for Mean Girls tomorrow since I planned on going with my neighbors and another friend who is also really into Broadway. We LOVE Reneé Rapp, and have since she was originally on Broadway. $19.32
4:44 p.m. — I grab some dog supplies and water and get the dog ready to head to the dog park bar with some friends. My friend, L., just got a new puppy so this is their first time meeting. I have to pay for parking for the last 15 minutes before 5. $0.70
5:30 p.m. — I grab one beer since I’m driving ($8.13) and watch our dogs play for a while. $8.13
9:37 p.m. — Got home, do laundry, and give the dog a bath. I put on Normal People because I feel like watching something sad.
12:10 a.m. — Quick walk with the dog and then I get in bed and read until my laundry is done, then I go to sleep.
Daily Total: $33.15

Day Five

7:38 a.m. — Up and at ’em! I let my dog out. Got back in bed to complete some Duolingo, watch some TikToks, and rot away in my sadness until 9:48 a.m.
9:48 a.m. — Get out of bed to make coffee and some breakfast potatoes. Get my blood test results in from the doctor and it makes me so sad. The results just say that I need to eat healthy and start working out…Everything I already have been doing almost my whole life. Apparently my kidneys aren’t doing well either, but not concerning enough for a follow-up or medication.
11 a.m. — I take the dog on a long walk. I fall asleep until 12:16 p.m. Thankfully, work is slow so I didn’t miss anything.
3:13 p.m. — I eat rice and mackerel with lemon then freshen up and grab my guitar.
6:19 p.m. — I have a jam night with some friends. We order Greek food (I venmo my friend for this) and play until 9 p.m. Then I run home, let the dog out super quickly, and run to catch Mean Girls at 10 p.m. $17
12:44 a.m. — I get home from the movie. I give it a mixed review. I will say Reneé Rapp is Mommy, but I will be showing my future children the original movie. Shower, ready for bed, and get in bed.
Daily Total: $17

Day Six

7:28 a.m. — My dog wakes me up to let him out and then I get right back in bed until noon. I then meet H. for a run. I get a coffee while we’re out on our run. $5.75
1:41 p.m. — I get an offer to babysit tonight. I try to babysit once a week, and it brings me in an extra $400 on average a month. I get home and quickly shower and feed the dog before leaving to babysit. On the way, I stop at Whole Foods to grab some Indian food to quickly make in a microwave for dinner and some extras I need for home. $22.57
11:22 p.m. — Got home from babysitting, take the dog for a walk, do some reading, and then go to sleep.
Daily Total: $28.32

Day Seven

7:33 a.m. — Happy Houston Marathon Day! I shoot out of bed and get ready, curling my hair to warm up since a big freeze is coming in less than 24 hours. I take the dog on a walk and then some friends come over around 8 a.m. to make signs and drink coffee (and prosecco). We then head over to the marathon route. I have a few friends running it this year, so I’m excited. I ran it last year, but I didn’t want to run this year because of how blistered and scarred my boobs got. It was weeks of extreme pain even just showering, so I will never run a full marathon again.
11:17 a.m. — Get home and make pasta while I watch TV.
4 p.m. — I take the dog for a long walk then head out to celebrate with my friend who just ran the marathon. While there, I have three beers and a vegan pizza. $55.17
7:40 p.m. — Everyone goes home, but one of my friends, B., and I still want to go out, so we go to her favorite local bar and meet up with some friends. I get us each a beer and a shot of vodka for another friend ($23.03). My phone dies, so B. calls me an Uber home. I shower, let the dog out, and fall asleep almost immediately. $23.03
Daily Total: $78.20
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience 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.

Do you have a Money Diary you’d like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series