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A Week In Ohio On A $30,000 Salary

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.
Why don't job listings reveal pay ranges? How hard have you had to dig to find out how much a new job opening might pay? How far have you gotten in an interview process without having this info? We want to hear your experiences with pay transparency for an upcoming story.

Today: a preschool teacher who makes $30,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on an Impossible Whopper.
Occupation: Preschool Teacher
Industry: Childcare
Age: 32
Location: Ohio
Salary: $30,000
Net Worth: -$7,500 ($2,500 in a savings account minus debt)
Debt: $10,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): Average is $1,100 (depends on how many days are in the pay period)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (This is my contribution to our monthly rent for our two-bed/one-and-a-half-bath townhouse. My boyfriend, T., offered to pay more because he has fewer bills and clears more than I do each pay. T. also pays for internet and Paramount+. We have completely separate accounts at this point.)
Loan Payment: $125
Credit Card: $300
Cell/iPad/Apple Watch: $90
Car Insurance: $66
Electric: $50
Apple One: $15 (T. and I split the $30 plan and give my mom access)
Peacock: $5
Hulu: $2
Annual Expenses:
Renter's Insurance: $90
Prime: $119
WOW Presents Plus: $40 (Drag Race is life, can't help it.)
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?
There was a huge expectation that I would go to college, as neither of my parents did. I was also very eager to grow up and explore the world, and I felt college would be the best way to do so. As a pre-teen/teen, I dreamed of going away to college and exploring a new city; however, I dreamed too big and didn't get into my dream schools. I ended up going to a state school for two years before dropping out because of my grades. I was also pretty lost around that time and changed my major three or four times, so the time off was needed. After an eight-year break, I went back to school for an associate's degree in early childhood education. My dad paid for my tuition and I paid for my books.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My mom works in banking and my dad is very weird about money, so money was always a subject of conversation in my household. Despite my credit card debt, I'd like to think I'm very in control of my finances. I've never been late or missed a payment and I keep a check register and balance my accounts to the penny weekly.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was at a movie theater in high school. I got a job for two reasons: I was super into film, so free movies (and popcorn), and because my mom told me that if I wanted a new cell phone, I had to pay for it myself and cover the bill each month.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Absolutely. My dad is pretty tight when it comes to money and my mom is a big spender, and I conveniently inherited both of those behaviors. I always knew we had the money, but my mom and I would often hide shopping bags in her car or credit card statements so my dad didn't see.
Do you worry about money now?
Constantly. I honestly don't know if I'll ever chill out when it comes to money, especially because I'd love to have a child in the near future.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say at 24, when I moved out of my parents' house, though my dad did pay for my tuition. If things ever got terrible, I know my boyfriend would have my back — he covered both of our living expenses for the first month after we moved a few months ago, and I still hadn't found a job. My parents would be there for both of us if needed.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My dad paid for my education and doesn't want the money back (I offered multiple times). When my grandfather passed, my mom promised to gift me some money from the sale of his home and a life insurance payout, which I'll probably put into savings or pay off my loan. I doubt I'll receive anything from my grandmother (my only surviving grandparent), but as an only child, I'll receive whatever my parents have (if anything) when they pass.

Day One

6:15 a.m. — I get up to give my dog, N., his pill and take him outside. It's Memorial Day and my daycare is closed so back to bed we go!
8:15 a.m. — Ugh. My boyfriend, T.'s, third alarm goes off and I'm annoyed because now I'm up. I lay in bed and scroll social media and Apple News.
9:30 a.m. — T. leaves for work, I take N. out, then make myself a cup of coffee. I head back upstairs to grab the dirty towels and put them in the washing machine, then go back upstairs with my coffee and call my mom.
11:15 a.m. — I change loads and sit down to have a bowl of cereal (chocolate Krave with soy milk). I'm basically done with my day already. So far, I've typed and printed some stuff for work, dusted the floors, cleaned the upstairs bathroom, and balanced my checkbook.
12:30 p.m. — N. and I go out for a short walk and when we come back in, I give him a treat (okay, two treats) and put my last load in the washing machine. T. calls and we talk while he's on a break.
1:45 p.m. — Laundry is done, so I take a shower. When I'm done, I put on The Nanny and text with my cousin.
4:00 p.m. — Outside with N., call my mom, and chill until T. gets home.
5:30 p.m. — T. is home a little early! We make burgers (beef for him, veg for me) and sweet potato waffle fries for dinner, then watch Bar Rescue because my love for T. exceeds his terrible choices in television.
8 p.m. — I take N. out, give him his dental bone, and head upstairs to exfoliate, which I try to do one night each week. I use GlamGlow SuperMud Clearing Treatment then NYX Bare With Me Cannabis Sativa spray, apply Glow Recipe Banana Soufflé Moisture cream, and end with The Inkey List Caffeine Eye cream under my eyes. We watch Mythic Quest and The Office until I go to bed at 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I take N. out and give him his pill, make a cup of coffee, and get ready for work. My morning routine isn't too crazy on work days: brush my teeth, take an allergy pill and supplements (elderberry and a women's probiotic), put my hair in a ponytail, wash my face (I use Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce cleanser, NYX Bare With Me Cannabis Sativa spray, and e.l.f. Blemish Control Face primer) and apply a small amount of makeup (Tarte Creaseless concealer under my eyes and e.l.f. eyeliner). I get dressed, get my lunch and coffee, and I'm out the door by 6:30.
6:50 a.m. — At work and get ready for my first kid to arrive.
12 p.m. — I go on break. Lunch is a Silk soy yogurt and chia seeds and when I'm done eating, I go to Starbucks for an iced caramel macchiato with soy. I use my pre-loaded card, so it doesn't cost anything today. I also start this week's episode of The Bald & The Beautiful podcast.
4:30 p.m. — I'm finally free, a half-hour late. Insert eye-roll. I finish The Bald & The Beautiful on my way home.
6:15 p.m. — I take a body shower, clean my makeup brushes, refill my travel bag of chia seeds, and give N. his usual pill and his flea pill. I have rice cooking for dinner because I'm too hungry to wait for T.
7 p.m. — T. is home! I made a rice bowl (rice, tortilla chips, black beans, shredded cheese, pineapple salsa, sour cream, and Taco Bell's Baja sauce) for myself for dinner and since T. doesn't want any rice or beans, he makes chicken for himself. When he's done eating, we finally put together the bed and new bedside table in the spare bedroom.
9 p.m. — I take N. out one more time and I'm too lazy and tired to wash my face, so I just put my under eye cream on and get in bed. T. puts Bar Rescue on and we cuddle until I fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I do my usual routine.
6:50 a.m. — Get to work and wait for my kids to start showing up.
12:45 p.m. — Finally on break because everyone sucks. I have a meeting with a parent later who is so rude and disrespectful and was rude to me again this morning, and I contemplate quitting before the meeting. (For context: I am still masking up in public and at work, though I am fully vaccinated. I work with children under the age of 5 and I feel it's my job to keep them safe, this is no different. This mother asked why I was still wearing one and rudely said she hopes we ditch them.) I love these kids way too much to do that though, so I complain to my mom and T. and eat my yogurt instead.
4 p.m. — Hey, I get to leave on time today! Both my mom and T. had texted a few times this afternoon, so I chat with each of them on my way home.
4:30 p.m. — Take N. out and clean up the tiny mess he left for me. I make another rice bowl for dinner, then head upstairs to shower and wash my hair, make the spare bed, and pack for this weekend. I do my nightly skincare routine (Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce cleanser is what I use when I'm not exfoliating), and I listen to this week's episode of Welcome to the OC, Bitches, while I get everything done.
6:30 p.m. — T. gets home and we finish getting our spare bedroom put together and hang out.
9:15 p.m. — Our friend, J., is working in town, so we invite her over. She offers to pay for pizza and breadsticks and she FaceTimes her fianceé (T.'s close friend), who asks T. if he wants to be one of his groomsmen in their wedding. T. seems shocked, but excited, and says yes.
12:30 a.m. — I am exhausted, so J. leaves. I go up to bed and almost immediately pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and my life is the Twilight Zone.
6:55 a.m. — Get to work and open my room!
12 p.m. — Can I leave yet? I have my yogurt and a banana, then head to Starbucks for my usual iced caramel macchiato with soy. Again, I use my pre-loaded card, which I typically load once per month.
4 p.m. — And I'm out! I'm leaving for my parents' tonight, so when I get home, I change my clothes, finish packing, and N. and I head out the door. While I drive, I listen to this week's episode of Office Ladies.
7:30 p.m. — Finally able to stop. The rain has been so bad and I was waiting so I could let N. use the bathroom. I also haven't had dinner, so I get an Impossible Whopper from Burger King and a Sprite. $9.31
9:05 p.m. — Have to stop for some gas and I choose a gas station next to a field, so I can let N. go to the bathroom again. $10
9:40 p.m. — At my parents'! I unload the car, my mom takes N. to the backyard to let off some steam, and I call T. I go to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $19.31

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — Up to give N. his pill and get ready for our day. N. has a dental appointment at our old vet's office, so my mom and I are hanging out in my old city for the day. I brush my teeth, take my supplements, put my hair in a ponytail (because I'm lazy), wash my face with my usual Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce cleanser, and apply makeup (Stila One Step Corrector, Fenty Beauty foundation, e.l.f. powder, Tarte Creaseless concealer under my eyes, and e.l.f. eyeliner). We leave by 7:20.
8:45 a.m. — We get to the vet's and get N. checked in. Really hoping he doesn't need any teeth removed! My mom wants breakfast, so we stop at a nearby breakfast spot. Breakfast foods aren't really my jam, so I get hash browns, wheat toast, and a caramel coffee. I pay and my mom leaves the tip. $22.35
11:45 a.m. — We spend some time driving around my old city and then I treat myself to a mani/pedi. My mom says she wants to run a few errands during my appointment, so she drops me off. I choose a lilac for my toes and a purple/gray for my nails, and the next hour and 45 minutes fly by! $150.80
1:50 p.m. — We pick up my friend from work and head to lunch. I haven't seen her since March and it's so great catching up at one of my favorite restaurants. We split fries and each get a salad and slice of pizza. I treat everyone and my mom leaves the tip. $35.75
3:30 p.m. — After dropping my friend off, we head to the mall, so I can stop at Bath & Body Works and my mom can window shop. I buy a few wallflower refills and T. a body wash. $32.40
5:20 p.m. — Back at the vet to pick up N. Poor guy had three more teeth removed, so it's bye-bye dry food. I put this on my Care Credit card, so I get 12 months no interest and will pay this off over time. $1,453
7:30 p.m. — Finally home to my parents'. I make a rum and lemonade and sit on the patio with my parents and my dogs (my old dog lives with my parents). I change and wash my face but am truly too exhausted to waste another minute to moisturize. I talk to T. and go to bed around 9:15.
Daily Total: $1,694.30

Day Six

1:30 a.m. — N. wakes me up to go outside. Back to bed!
6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off to give N. his meds from the vet. Still no water and he refuses his heart pill, but he goes outside again and he takes his other meds fine, so I'm happy. We go back to bed.
9 a.m. — My alarm goes off and T. calls about a minute later. When I get off the phone with him, I take a shower, brush my teeth, and take my supplements. I let my hair air-dry for a bit, then finish it with the blowdryer, straighten it, put it in a ponytail, do my skincare routine, and apply concealer under my eyes and eyeliner.
10:35 a.m. — My aunts, uncles, and cousins all arrive with champagne and donuts. It's honestly so great to see them. My family kind of fell apart a few years ago, but right before the pandemic, my mom and her brothers got really close again, and my cousins and I started talking again. Now that we're all vaccinated, we've been able to hang out a bit. We have donuts, bagels, fruit, hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausage, mimosas, bellinis, and coffee. Again, not really my thing, but I eat half of a strawberry cream stick, half of an everything bagel, some fruit and hash browns, and drink two bellinis and two cups of coffee.
1 p.m. — Everyone leaves. T. calls then I help my parents with different phone issues. I also balance my checking accounts, download the Care Credit app for a $5 statement credit, and order gifts for my dad for Father's Day — a garden flag, two t-shirts, and a football field rug. $168.50
3:45 p.m. — My parents and I eat Mexican takeout on the patio. I have a cheese quesadilla, cheesy Mexican rice, and chips and guac, with a Redd's Peach.
5:00 p.m. — My mom and I change into pjs and look for something to watch. I find The Birdcage on Peacock, which we haven't seen in forever, and settle in with another Redd's Peach.
6:15 p.m. — I pause the movie to give N. his meds and heart pill and try to offer him some fruit, but he refuses. Sigh.
8:15 p.m. — My mom and I take the dogs out, then get sucked into SNL sketches, after I come across a BuzzFeed article about the funniest breaks on the show (Gilda, always my queen). I do my nightly skincare routine, get in bed, and scroll Apple News. I text T. and go to bed at 10:15.
Daily Total: $168.50

Day Seven

1:30 a.m. — This better not be a daily thing. N. goes potty and we go back to bed.
6:15 a.m. — Back to N.'s normal medicine time. I then take both him and my other dog out and go back to bed.
8:33 a.m. — N. wakes me up again and I figure I'll be up for the day. I take my supplements and make a cup of coffee.
10 a.m. — After two cups of coffee and half of a cream stick, I help my mom update her resume and print some copies for her. I hang out with her, my dad, and the dogs, and we watch The Office.
11:45 a.m. — I take a shower, do my skincare routine, and in between packing, I blowdry and straighten my hair.
1:55 p.m. — I'm completely packed and ready to go, so I run to my favorite ice cream place ($3.50), drop a letter in the mail, and head back to my parents' to pack up the cooler and load the car. $3.50
2:30 p.m. — And we're off! I listen to the newest episode of Las Culturistas and talk to T. and my mom.
5 p.m. — I stop at Starbucks and let N. go to the bathroom. I'm deeply disturbed when the barista tells me they're out of peach so I settle for a strawberry refresher. I use some stars for a free drink.
6:15 p.m. — I stop to give N. his meds.
7 p.m. — Finally home. I unpack a bit, get N. his water, and throw myself into bed.
8 p.m. — T. is finally home! I cover him in kisses, then I take N. out, and we try to give him some ice cream. I feel bad because I haven't spent time with T. since Wednesday, but I'm exhausted and want to go to bed early. I know he's mentally drained from work, so I tell him to play Xbox and we can hang out tomorrow night. I fall asleep around 9.
Daily Total: $3.50
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