A Week In Prince George’s County, MD, On A $42,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a preschool teacher who makes $42,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a prayer journal.
Occupation: Preschool Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 27
Location: Prince George's County, MD
Salary: $42,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,381
Gender Identity: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $550 (I split a house with roommates)
Loans: $0 (My parents covered my undergrad and my graduate degree was covered by tuition remission.)
Utilities: $40-100
Cell Phone: $46 (My siblings and I split a family plan)
Rock Climbing Gym: $79
Church Tithe: $75
Retirement: $200
Savings: $250 (or more depending on spending for the month)
Netflix: $12.99 (My sister pays for Hulu)
Apple Music: $4.99
Washington Post Digital Subscription: $5
Billie Razor: $9.54 (every other month)

Day One

7:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I drag myself out of bed, cursing last night me for starting an episode of This is Us at midnight. My friend, J., and I are volunteering with a meal ministry to help prep and serve food this morning and I don't want to be late so I quickly brush my teeth, wash my face, and then put on eyeliner, mascara, and concealer (so I look a little more like someone who got a decent nights sleep). Before heading out, I slice a piece of the banana bread I baked last night, slather on some vegan butter, sprinkle with salt, and rush out the door. When we get there I Venmo J. to cover the cost of food for the meal ministry. $60
11 a.m. — I get a call from my dad asking if I can take my grandma to church since my mom isn't feeling well. I had planned to go to my usual church for mass but I happily oblige and head to my aunt's to pick her up once we've got everything cleaned up. After mass, I drop her off at my aunt's and head over to my parents where I'm eagerly greeted at the door by our pup, K. My stomach was grumbling like crazy during mass so after giving K. some love, I scrounge around for food, settling on carrot sticks with hummus and a few handfuls of peanut butter pretzels. I also help my dad prep peppers and onions for the crockpot Italian sausages he's making for dinner.
3 p.m. — My brother, sister, and I head over to the climbing gym. I offer to drive and we stop for gas on the way. My sister and I climb a few times a week, but my brother only tags along occasionally so it's fun to have a surprise sibling outing. We stick to bouldering and I have a really good climbing day, doing a range of climbs I could complete and some more challenging ones I'll have to keep working on. $23.49
5 p.m. — I lounge around my parents' house for a while and then do the dishes and set the table while we wait for my aunt and grandma to arrive. I've always lived close to a lot of my family so I get to see them pretty regularly, but I still try not to take our time together for granted.
7:30 p.m. — I pop into Aldi on my way home to grab a few things for this week (beans and tomatoes for chili, some fruits and veggies, couscous, and a loaf of gluten-free bread). I try to do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi since it's more affordable, but I usually have to pick up a handful of things from other stores. $21.09
9 p.m. — After showering, I light a candle and settle into my comfy chair for some prayer time. I read a few pages from Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and then watch an episode of Modern Love before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $104.58

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and go through my quick morning routine. I have a therapy appointment this afternoon and have been feeling extra overwhelmed by life recently so I decided to take today off as a mental health day. I walk to the nearby church for daily mass.
8:45 a.m. — I live in a little town that is really walkable, so I head over to the nearby coffee shop for a macadamia milk latte (paid for with a gift card I got from a student) and an açaí bowl (paid for with reward points I've been accumulating forever). I struggle through part of a crossword puzzle and start reading Between the World and Me. Afterward, I walk over to the art supply store (that offers a teacher discount!) to get a new prayer journal and also pick up a Micron pen. $22.04
12 p.m. — As I walk back home, I'm reveling in the gorgeous mid-50s weather we're having today. Part of me wants to take a nap but this is my ideal running weather so I throw on some shorts (!!!) and head out for a couple of miles. After showering I make chili and cornbread while catching up with my friend who moved to California this fall for a Ph.D. program.
2:15 p.m. — The food is done cooking but I'm not very hungry so I just grab a clementine, cherry tomatoes, and a handful of nuts to eat in the car. I head to adoration for some prayer time before my counseling appointment. I see a Catholic therapist because I appreciate the holistic body and soul approach. The practice is out of network but my insurance reimburses 70% once I've reached my deductible. $100
5:30 p.m. — My friend invited me over for dinner to catch up and to save me from unnecessary driving around before a faith formation class I have near her place later tonight. We have leftover lentil salad with roast cauliflower and wine while we talk about needing to figure out where we're each living once our leases end and what we're doing with the rest of our lives.
9:30 p.m. — Once I'm back home I get my lunch made for tomorrow (chili and cornbread plus some veggies) and catch up with my roommates about their days. Oh, how I love being back in my bed after a busy day! I scroll Instagram for a little too long and read a few pages before calling it a night.
Daily Total: $122.04

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I gave up snoozing my alarm for lent so I force myself out of bed before I accidentally fall back asleep. I head upstairs to boil some water for tea and snack on a piece of banana bread. I take some prayer time and then head out to go to daily mass. I get to work a few minutes early so I eat my actual breakfast (yogurt, granola, chia seeds, and cacao nibs) and catch up with my co-teacher about yesterday.
1:45 p.m. — It's nap time for the kids. We spend some time in the room to help them fall asleep (read: rubbing one child's head while incessantly telling others it is not a time to play and their friends are trying to sleep) and then head out for our planning time. Today is our weekly planning meeting with our curriculum coordinator and special educator.
4:30 p.m. — It's another beautiful day so we spend a good chunk of our afternoon on the playground. On my way home, I stop by my doctor to pick up a referral for a gastroenterologist. Once I'm home, I change into my running clothes before I can talk myself out of it and run a few miles.
6:30 p.m. — Some friends and I get together at my place for a monthly women's fellowship group. While I wait for everyone, I heat up some of my roommate's leftover lasagna and slice some cucs for dinner and then get my taxes finished and filed.
9 p.m. — Once everyone has headed out I pour myself a glass of wine, grab a couple of Tefoils, and snuggle up in bed for a few episodes of Modern Love.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — I let the alarm go off for a few cycles and then get out of bed to get the day started. After making tea and praying, I get dressed in my overalls (so it's gotta be a good day), put on eyeliner, mascara, and concealer, pack more leftover chili for lunch, and grab breakfast to eat at work (a small slice of banana bread and granola with cacao nibs and chia seeds, banana, and almond milk).
7:30 a.m. — On my early days, I have about an hour of planning and prep time. I check emails, set up the classroom, and prep materials for the day. Today's prep includes cutting out "ballots" the kids will use to vote for our next unit of study. My school follows the project approach where the kids engage in an in-depth, hands-on, child-driven study of a topic for a few months. Today they're voting between construction and cooking and I'm honestly torn between which I want to win.
2 p.m. — Planning time. I work on our lesson plan for next week, respond to emails, and call the parent of our one child who is out today to get his vote. This level of follow up is only necessary because the kids kept it super close (cooking: 8, construction: 9). We get the last polling place, er kid, called in and construction wins!
3:30 p.m. — On my way home from work. I swing by Whole Foods to replenish our banana supply and also pick up a few So Delicious coconut yogurts and a Sweet Earth vegan pizza. These extra purchases are what I get for my aimless wandering. Once I'm home, I take a quick nap and charge my phone in preparation for my sister date tonight. $12.87
5:20 p.m. — My sister, N., meets me at my place and we head into D.C. for dinner and a Dermot Kennedy concert. We grab pizza at a place I've been wanting to check out and man, was it worth the wait. We are way ahead of schedule (which is very uncharacteristic of us) so after parking, we split an apple pie concrete at Shake Shack. I bought the concert tickets when I was dating someone thinking we'd go together but alas... Glad my sister is my ride or die. She covers our food for the night instead of paying me for the ticket.
Daily Total: $12.87

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — You know you're an adult when 6:30 is sleeping in. I go through my usual morning, just an hour later. Once I'm at work, I eat a raspberry yogurt from yesterday with granola and fixings with the kids who are having morning snack.
2 p.m. — For some reason, our kids are boycotting naps this week so I'm very happy for a break when planning time comes around. It has been a day...Bloody noses. Getting bitten. Lots of screaming. I do some planning and try to de-stress for the afternoon. I snack on pretzels and clementines to get me through the last few hours of the workday.
4:30 p.m. — I had plans to climb with my sister, but after the day I've had, I call her about rain-checking so I can grab a drink and dinner with coworkers. We check out a new food hall near work and I order an IPA and fried cauliflower sandwich. $23.11
7:30 p.m. — Once I'm home, I throw together my breakfast (yogurt and granola) and lunch (last of the chili leftovers and some veggies) for tomorrow. I take a quick shower, pour myself some wine, and climb in bed. I read a few pages of St. Francis de Sales and then watch Ben is Back (thank you watchlists for making my life simpler).
Daily Total: $23.11

Day Six

5:30 a.m. — Knowing it's finally Friday is my only motivation to get out of bed this morning. Tea, pray, get ready for work. While listening to Up First, I learn that the Coronavirus has made it to my state. Yay.
1:15 p.m. — While attempting to get kids to sleep, I skim through my Washington Post and Bon Appétit daily emails and read the first day of a devotional my friends and I are doing together.
4 p.m. — I get home from work and plop on my bed for about two minutes before being healthy gets the better of me. I head out for a quick run, then shower and douse my hair with dry shampoo. I munch on an apple and some carrots and hummus while I cook a frozen pizza.
7 p.m. — I metro into D.C. to meet some friends for a Wizards game. I'm not a particularly big basketball fan but I always have a blast at any sporting event. And the third-row seats my friend's boyfriend got for free are definitely an added perk. Between Googling how old and how tall different players are, we buy tickets to an Irish concert we're going to together next weekend. $25.84
10:15 p.m. — I get home from the game, pour some wine (to make up for the beer I decided not to buy at the game), and grab some cookies. I snuggle up in bed to finish the last few episodes of Modern Love.
Daily Total: $25.84

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — I didn't mean to wake up quite this early but don't hate not waking up to my alarm beeping. I make some tea and pray. Then make avocado toast with olive oil, nutritional yeast, and everything bagel seasoning to eat on my drive over to yoga.
12 p.m. — I haven't been to a yoga class in a month and power flow may not have been the best place to start. I boulder and socialize for a bit after class but my body's too wiped out for much. I swing by L.L.Bean to pick up something I had delivered to the store, which I end up returning because I don't like the fit. After some wandering there and at REI, I head home for a lunch of leftover pizza and celery and an apple with peanut butter.
3 p.m. — I finally get around to cleaning my bathroom, throw in a load of laundry, and do some dusting and straightening in my room. I check Mint to split a recent Target purchase since I found the receipt in my cleaning. I've been trying to stay on top of spending the last few months since that's a source of stress I actually have some control over. I take a little nap once all that's done since I've got nowhere to be for once.
5:45 p.m. — Up from my nap, I throw in another load of laundry and head to the coffee shop down the street to read for a bit (and get a gift card-covered dirty chai). When I'm home, I start making buckwheat chocolate chip cookies, eat a bowl of cereal, meal plan for the week, and do the dishes. While the cookies chill I turn on Remember the Titans (my all-time favorite movie). I eat a few cookies and finish up a bottle of wine while watching.
11 p.m. — I debate watching a second movie, but since it's daylight savings, I decide to be responsible and not lose more sleep than necessary so I can get up for mass tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0
Editor's Note: This diary was written before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and current CDC guidelines about social distancing and travel restrictions were put into effect. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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.

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:

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series