A Week In Durham, NC, On A $52,000 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 procurement manager working in education who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Banza spaghetti.
Occupation: Procurement Manager
Industry: Education
Age: 30
Location: Durham, NC
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $4,300 before taxes
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,500 (Our mortgage is $2,000 a month split evenly between my fiancé and me. We each put in an extra $500 for household expenses and a little extra savings. We're trying to put a down payment on a used car in the next few months.)
Loans: $0 (My incredibly generous parents paid for undergrad.)
Phone: $50 (I'm on my fiancé, L.'s, family plan, so we Venmo his parents.)
Car Insurance: $30
Health Insurance: $30 (I'm excited to be on L.'s health insurance when we get married because he has amazing benefits.)
Savings: $500 or more each month
Roth IRA: $250
Credit Card: $150 (Using my card was a bad habit and I'm trying to pay it down. I will say that there's been significant progress, I'm starting to be someone who hates having a balance. Took long enough!)
Gym: $20
5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off at 5:30. Usually this feels way too early but somehow L. and I made it into bed by 9:30 last night. He's a first-year surgery resident and his lack of sleep would truly kill me. I should be better about making sure we're always in bed early but after the gym, making dinner, and taking a few minutes to just hang out, time gets away from us. I wash my face, put on Sunday Riley UFO oil, Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizer, Algenist primer, Tarte Shape Tape concealer, Bobbi Brown bronzer, Dr. Perricone blush, NARS eyeshadow, L'Oreal brow pencil, and Maybelline brow gel. Writing that out makes it sound like a lot but it takes like 10 minutes and I swear I don't look crazy.
6:25 a.m. — Still playing around with this dress code but settle on a cream ruffled top, black pants, and olive Rachel Comey boots that I'm so excited it's finally cold enough to wear. We moved from Philly in June and I miss east coast fall!
11:30 a.m. — I have lunch, which is sauteed broccoli, homemade butternut squash soup (my immersion blender is a game-changer), and two egg white and spinach frittata muffins. Work is steady and I'm so happy that I love my job. I've been here for about three weeks and was really nervous about leaving a WFH position that I didn't have any major complaints about. I have a lot more responsibility here and was also given a pretty significant raise, plus it's always nice to get out of the house. When weighing my decision, I tried to think of being in the house all day in February. Such a dark and depressing month and I knew that being home alone all day long would be literal hell.
4 p.m. — I get in the car and text L. to see if he wants to join me at the gym tonight. I plan on going shortly after I get home regardless if I hear from him or not. One of the things I've learned about being with someone in the medical field is that its freakin' IMPOSSIBLE to make plans. I can't tell you how many times he's been walking out and a kid will come in with a broken arm that needs to be seen immediately. On the way back I listen to the Dateline podcast. They've recently started playing episodes as podcasts and I couldn't be happier. Total true crime junkie.
7:30 p.m. — Home from the gym and L. is doing some work on the couch. He texted me back while I was there so unfortunately missed today's workout. We love to work out together but his current rotation has been nuts so lately gym dates have been few and far between. I cuddle with L. on the couch for a little bit and then we head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Early alarm again. At the moment, I have an unfortunate pile of work-appropriate clothes that have gathered near our bed. I keep meaning to make the switch over from summer clothes and get them in drawers but it's been about two weeks and I've made zero progress. I will say that the pile is clean and folded, but still. I settle on oxblood leather Vince leggings and L.'s black cashmere sweater that I've kind of adopted. I'm a little nervous that leather pants are a scandalous choice, but decide to take the risk. After all, the dress code only said jeans weren't allowed. Same makeup as yesterday.
1 p.m. — I'm still in the training period at work but the girl who oversees my training is out today and I'm on my own. It's a busy day but luckily there aren't many things that I can't handle on my own and I only need to go over a few things that I'm not positive about with her tomorrow. I'm proud of being able to hold the fort down.
3 p.m. — A friend of a friend, Y., is in town for work and staying in Downtown Durham. I've known she was coming for a little bit and we made plans to go to a barre class together and then possibly to M Sushi, where I still haven't been. This friend is pretty into the food scene and L. and I are more "restaurants are for special occasions" people. We both grew up that way and I really can't say that I get a ton of pleasure from trying a new restaurant. I think it stems from wanting to save money/not thinking expensive food is worth it. Don't get me wrong, we both can absolutely let loose and I'm all for getting a glass of wine at a new place (or anywhere) but this just isn't my thing. Not to mention sushi as a post-workout meal feels a little strange?
4 p.m. — Text Y. to see if she needs me to pack extra workout clothes for her tonight. She says she's on a Z Pack and doesn't think a workout would be the best idea. I'm annoyed cause that would have been nice to know before I booked the later class to accommodate her. She's also a notorious flake so I'm not shocked. Text with L. about the news and he laughs about how seriously she seems to be taking this Z Pack.
6 p.m. — Home for a little before class with L., which is a rare luxury these days. Half tempted to cancel barre and go lift with him but I refuse to get charged the $15 late cancellation fee. I don't even really love barre but thought it would be a good class to take with a friend. Oh well, always happy to sweat.
7:45 p.m. — Shitty class. Something was going on with the instructor's mic and I couldn't make out one word of what she was saying. It was also really crowded and just overall not a great workout. Tomorrow is some type of modified CrossFit class, so I have high hopes for that. L. is on his way back from the hospital gym (we have the PF black card membership in my name which sucks cause he can't lift there unless I'm with him) and once he's back we cuddle on the couch, watch a little bit of Hustle & Flow, and then get in bed by 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Get up and make the bed, which I do every morning. Up until we bought our house, I wasn't really a "make the bed everyday" kind of person, but it takes literally one minute and seems like an adult thing to do. Groceries are kind of low so I grab a peanut butter bar from our snack drawer and a chocolate muscle milk for breakfast.
11:40 a.m. — After browsing the Aritzia site, I see a pair of grey Citizens of Humanity jeans that I had seen a day earlier at the TJ Maxx next to my office. I considered them while I was there, (only $59) but ultimately passed and now suddenly I want them. Damn you, Aritzia! I head out to see if they're still at TJ Maxx and pick something up for lunch since I failed to pack something last night.
11:50 a.m. — No luck on the jeans! I'm really not too bummed, I keep telling myself that if I loved them that much I would have purchased them the first time I saw them. I've been trying to reevaluate how I shop because when I really think about it, I'm either in work clothes (I tend to go for versatile classics from Vince and Theory) or gym clothes (big fan of Lululemon and recently Alo because their stuff is cute enough to run errands in on the weekends without feeling like a total mess). I buy almost everything on sale of from TJ Maxx or Nordstrom Rack and will say that I have incredible luck/have found some really amazing pieces.
12 p.m. — Stop at Whole Foods for something quick for lunch and end up stocking up on some Fage Greek Yogurt with honey, Banza spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, and these weird chicken breast bites that are chicken and waffle-flavored. Not so sure what made these seem appealing but L. has an insane sweet tooth and these aren't TOO unhealthy so I'll probably end up giving them to him. L. eats a lot of his meals at the hospital so I'm usually just grocery shopping for myself. Of course, I wish we could have dinner together every night, but if anything, this keeps the grocery bill down. $23.56
5:45 p.m. — Head to class, which is amazing. Sometimes I get frustrated with barre and pilates because I don't feel like I'm getting an intense enough workout, but this was no joke. Also, it was just me and one other guy in this class, so basically a free personal training session.
8:15 p.m. — Home on the couch with L. We're halfheartedly watching The Resident, which is the first medical show I've ever seen and I'm so into it. Apparently it's a far cry from what life in the hospital is really like, at least according to L. While we watch, I'm scouring the internet looking for a pair of black ankle boots to replace the pair I bought last year from Zara that were absolute crap. I'm pretty hard on everyday boots and need something without a super high heel (this is me getting older, I used to be the four-inch queen) that will last and that isn't a Doc Marten. I find some decent options at Nordstrom but nothing that I love enough to commit to yet.
9:45 p.m. — Head up to get ready for bed. Nighttime skin routine is Biologique Recherche P50 followed by Sunday Riley A+. Yes, I'm aware that it says not to use P50 with retinol but my skin isn't sensitive and I've had no issues. P50 is also life-changing and worth every cent. In bed by 10.
Daily Total: $23.56

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — Up, make the bed, and do the usual makeup. Grab breakfast, which consists of Greek yogurt and a Complete Cookie. I kind of hate myself for eating these because they're so processed and the snickerdoodle variation gets crumbs EVERYWHERE but they're so good and so convenient.
11:30 a.m. — My coworker is still sick, but at this point, I feel like I've got the hang of everything. It's a pretty chill job but steady enough that I'm never bored and I genuinely love what I do and that I get to work in a school without being a teacher. I taught eighth grade for a year after college and it's so stressful/just not for me.
12 p.m. — Lunch today is Banza spaghetti and Trader Joe's meatless meatballs. I've been a Banza fan for a long time but somehow just discovered their spaghetti. Total game changer. Since I eat quickly, I head over to TJ Maxx to browse. Nothing has changed in the clothing department since I was there last, but I pick up Korres Wild Rose Brightening oil. A good vitamin C is something that my skincare routine is currently missing, so hopefully, this does the trick. Obviously I look it up and see that its $54 on the Sephora website and that gives me a money-saving high. I know some people are skeptical about discounted makeup being "expired" or tampered with, but I'm careful about what I buy and honestly, I don't care. $15.76
4:15 p.m. — Heading home. Plan to lift with L. tonight and do some tidying up around the house. I need to grocery shop pretty badly but don't see it happening tonight. I know there is enough food in the house to get through dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.
7:45 p.m. — Back from the gym. Cuddling with L. on the couch is my actual favorite thing in the world. We always laugh about how we managed to find an equally affectionate partner... let's just say that both of our love languages are "physical touch." We halfheartedly watch a 20/20 about Jon Benet Ramsey and then head upstairs to get ready for bed. Same nighttime routine of P50 and NeoStrata Glycolic gel (this has changed my skin, can't recommend it enough). I put some UFO oil on L., cause what guy doesn't want nice skin too?!
Daily Total: $15.76

Day Five

5:40 a.m. — Finally Friday! Traffic is a little lighter on Fridays so I stay in bed for 10 extra minutes and then start getting ready. I'm new to Shape Tape and have come to the conclusion that it's not like other concealers, in that a little goes a LONG way. I tap a few dots on my under eyes and chin and then use my fingers to blend, then carry on with the rest of my makeup. My co-worker is still out but I'm used to being alone at this point. I miss her, but also love working independently.
12:10 p.m. — Run to Whole Foods for lunch. I get tomato parm bisque, egg salad, and almond crackers. I get back to work and realize that Whole Foods egg salad is so, so bad compared to Trader Joe's! Egg salad is strangely the only thing I crave and TJ's is my absolute favorite. Lesson learned. $14
4:07 p.m. — So happy it's the weekend. L. always works late on Fridays and I'm so looking forward to having the house to myself, lounging, and drinking wine. I'm bummed because I ordered new Eberjey pajamas during an Anthropologie sale last week but there was a shipping delay and they're still not here. Oh well. I stop at Harris Teeter to get a bottle of wine and then head home to do nothing. $10.07
8:32 p.m. — I'm having zero luck with TV. I got so into 13 Reasons Why a few months ago and nothing has compared since. At first, I felt like a total weirdo not only watching but being super into a teen show but it's so good that I don't care. L. gets home around 11 and we head to bed.
Daily Total: $24.07

Day Six

9:07 a.m. — I finally get to sleep in. By the end of the week, I am really feeling the 5:30 wake up call, so this is exactly what I needed. I head to the gym without L. because the poor guy got up at 4 a.m. for work. A solo trip the gym is actually nice this morning cause I can listen to The Teacher's Pet podcast, which I've been trying to finish for a while.
12:34 p.m. — L. gets home and we head to one of his co-resident's houses to celebrate the baptism of their adorable daughter. It's a small, mostly family gathering, but I always appreciate the chance to be social since I still feel like I don't know a lot of people in Durham. Another resident's wife is there with her 7-month-old son and I think I need a baby? We're waiting until we get married to start trying, more so because I already ordered my dress in a 4 than I feel like we need to be married to raise a child together. I watch her adorable son slobber all over her shoulder and immediately know that I'm the mom who will have drool rags everywhere because no child is ruining my outfit. (Aware that this will probably change, but just saying.)
2:15 p.m. — We're hosting a Friendsgiving next weekend and this is the perfect excuse to head to HomeGoods in Raleigh for Christmas decorations so that the house will be ready. This probably isn't my best quality, but I'm totally an appearances person and need everything to be perfect. I'm working with a budget so have to keep myself in check, but we find a ton of amazing decorations that suit our style. I also encounter a box of Complete Cookies by the register and who knew that they made them in a single serving size?! I would always try and fail to eat half of the giant ones, so this is a welcome change. L. pays for the decorations out of our shared fund, which we use for household expenses. I'm excited that he's on board with the fun that is decorating the house for holidays, I know a lot of friends whose partners think stuff like this is superfluous, but he even talks about wanting to get things that our kids will remember. $204
3:35 p.m. — Instead of heading to the car dealership like we planned, we head to Wegman's. Being from PA, it's a huge deal that NC finally has a Wegman's! Apparently everyone is just as excited as we are because it's crowded AF. L. stocks up on their no sugar added chocolate ice cream and I get sour cream, guac, and cheese to make meatless tacos for dinner tonight. $15.90
5:15 p.m. — Internet shopping rabbit hole leads me to buy a pair of Everlane's side zip work pants. I've never purchased anything from Everlane, but have heard good things. I'm sometimes in between sizes in pants but these are stretchy so I figure I'll probably be able to make them work. $30
9:40 p.m. — I take down Halloween decorations and put the Christmas ones out. Obviously with the fireplace on and Christmas With The Kranks playing. Not a favorite holiday movie but it was one that we both hadn't seen. Not awful! In bed by 11.
Daily Total: $249.90

Day Seven

9:15 a.m. — Wake up thinking about finishing touches on the house before next weekend and realize that we need throw pillows for the couch. Yes, need. I've had an inspiration picture bookmarked on Instagram for a while now so I head to the website and once I have the whole lewk in my cart it's $290. For velvet pillows. I am not "$290 worth of pillows crazy" (yet) so that's not happening. I manage to find eerily similar ones on Target's website! This will require me to visit three Targets but it's Sunday, so I'm down for an adventure. $79
11:45 a.m. — What better way to explore a new state than to visit multiple Targets? Something about Target around the holidays is really nice to me. I also pick up a pack of ImPress press-on nails and OMG. You guys, get these. I'm not an accent nail girl so I skip that part but it's like the best, chip-proof manicure I've ever had, and it takes five minutes. I'm a little paranoid about a nail coming off so I'm gonna carry the whole pack in my purse forever.
2:30 p.m. — Pillows are a success. Head to Trader Joe's, which I know better than to do on a Sunday but here we are. I get broccoli, tofu, egg salad, rice, flowers, dried ginger, green juice, and bar soap for L. I also get gas on the way home. $61
3:19 p.m. — SO excited to be home and have the remainder of a Sunday to just lay around with L. We catch up on The Resident, fold some laundry, I drink a glass of wine, and we're in bed by 10.
Daily Total: $140
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