A Week In Philadelphia, PA, 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 millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a proofreader who makes $42,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Kiehl's cucumber toner.
Occupation: Proofreader
Industry: Legal
Age: 23
Location: Philadelphia
Salary: $42,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,227.24
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $570 for a bedroom in a sizable three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. (New Yorkers would die if they saw the square footage Philadelphians get for a third of the price.)
Student Loans: $486.42 (I worked three jobs throughout school to pay as much tuition as I could up front.)
Internet/Electricity/Gas: ~$60-$100, depending on season
Public Transit Pass: Varies, but usually ~$80
Mattress Payment: $45
Netflix: $10.99
Apple Music: $9.99
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Phone: $0 (I'm still on the family plan.)
Amazon Prime: $0 (My mom added me to her subscription so I could read free e-books.)
FSA/Dental/Vision: ~$30 each paycheck (I am on my dad's insurance for general health insurance.)
Savings: I usually end up putting anywhere from $400 to $600 into my savings each month (between the two paychecks). Because I was a contractor at my job for a long time, I'm dealing with retirement/employer contributions/all that jazz currently.
Additional Expenses
FabFitFun Box Subscription: $49.99 (quarterly)

Day One

7 a.m. — Incapable of sleeping in. I put on my creepy, bra-looking (but oh so effective) contoured sleep mask and force myself back to sleep.
11 a.m. — My dad forwards me the intricate rules for the cousins' Super Bowl pool. It's a random, "luck of the draw"-type pool, so I Venmo my cousin $15 for three blocks. I'm mainly contributing so the pool will be bigger when someone else inevitably wins (terrible luck over here). $15
1 p.m. — My roomie and I head to our friend's house (nicer kitchen and cable) for a pre-Super Bowl brunch of cheesy eggs, tots, bacon-wrapped shrimp, and banana pancakes. We watch Ex on the Beach and a crime doc while we nosh and drink mimosas. As a former VH1/MTV reality-show junkie, I am mesmerized by Ex's loco plot.
6 p.m. — We finally rally and head to a friend's SB party a few blocks away. There's wings, pizza, buffalo chicken dip, sausage and peppers, and a four-foot-long hoagie — all the goodies. We're all Eagles fans (plus one dude in a Pats shirt who "likes both" — yeah yeah yeah), but it's a good excuse to eat, drink, and clown on Tom Brady for a few hours. I limit myself to a White Claw and a Bud Lite. The hosts refuse to accept any money from us for the food or drinks.
10:30 p.m. — The game was super anticlimactic, and we all disperse during the onscreen celebrations. I'm pretty sure I won $25 from the cousins' pool! My roommate and I grab plates of leftovers and head out to our overpriced Uber. I pay, since she covered the brunch ingredients earlier. $20.27
10:50 p.m. — Home after an intense battle with my roommate playing the in-Uber trivia game. I shower, double cleanse, pop on seaweed night cream and hyaluronic acid eye cream, and scroll through Twitter for a half hour. I find out 21 Savage was allegedly detained by ICE for being a U.K. citizen? The things you miss when you don't check social for a few hours!
Daily Total: $35.27

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I check and see that my cousin Venmoed other people their pool winnings already, so I didn't actually end up winning anything. Damn. My roommate is dog-sitting a Rover dog, and it went to the bathroom on the floor, causing the apartment to reek. Since I do not get paid for helping my roomie with her Rover dogs...I usually leave this fun part for her. I wash my face, layer on moisturizer and sunscreen, get dressed, and head out.
9:30 a.m. — The day-after-drinking dehydration hits. I stop by CVS and see there's a BOGO deal for Arnold Palmers, so I grab two. The cashier asks if I want to use my $2 off reward, which results in two free Arnold Palmers! It'd be less than $2 for both anyway, but it's a small victory for a Monday morning. Then I get on the subway using $2 on my prepaid card for my short ride to the office.
10 a.m. — I dislike spending money on coffee, but I have a Pavlovian response to going to work on Monday mornings because it means free coffee! I grab some, plus a Nature Valley bar from the kitchen, and start my first assignment of the day.
11 a.m. — Just spent 10 minutes in the bathroom fumbling with the back zipper and clasp on my new pair of pants that I bought during a J.Crew sale. They were only $20...but XS. It's been a ~minute~ since I could fit comfortably in an XS, so...what was I thinking? The world may never know! They were cheap, so I don't begrudge my past self too much.
12:25 p.m. — On a short break, I browse my neighborhood's “Buy Nothing” Facebook group and see that a neighbor is giving away a few skin-care items. I quickly message her and we arrange for me to pick them up today. A “Buy Nothing” group is exactly what it sounds like — your neighbors give away various free stuff (clothes, homewares, food, pretty much anything) to the first person who responds to their post.
1:30 p.m. — I get a pastrami sandwich from the cafeteria. Skin-care girl messages and says she added more to the bag of products! Lunch is followed by more pants fumbling. $3.55
6:30 p.m. — I book it home on the subway to pick up the stuff. She said she would leave it outside for me, which is a package death sentence in the city — mere seconds is all it takes for your package to be swiped. I get to her address and...it's miraculously still there! I walk home, immediately get into pajamas, and dig into my leftover hoagie from yesterday with my second Arnold Palmer. I half-watch Ant-Man and the Wasp with my roommate while I inhale my food.
7:50 p.m. — I am SO pleased with my bounty — my generous neighbor gifted 14 mostly full-size products!! A wide variety of hair/skin/face goods ranging from drugstore brands to Korean, French, and even Indian products. I'm most pumped about the Tosowoong green tea essence, snail-mucin repair cream, and Glossier face spray. What doesn't suit my skin type I'll pass back to the group or option off to my roomies.
8:50 p.m. — Check my mail and see that my dad sent me new insurance cards and my new credit card. It's one with flight rewards that my sister and mom rave about. I have more rollover vacation and personal days from last year than anticipated on top of this year's, so I'll hopefully plan some vacays soon enough. I do wonder what I should do with my current credit card if I plan to predominantly use the rewards one??
10:20 p.m. — I've been looking at reviews of my new products and half-watching YouTube videos while posted up in front of my humidifier. I get a reminder email about a 40% off plus free shipping sale on Society6 ending tonight, so I decide to bite the bullet and get one poster and two prints from my wish list. The discount takes $30 off my purchase ($48.73), but I still have to pay $10 for shipping multiple packages. I wonder after the fact if I should've made three separate purchases to circumvent that charge — too little, too late! $58.73
11:40 p.m. — Face is cleansed and moisturized and teeth are brushed. I'm in bed watching my ASMR playlist, which I use most nights to fall asleep to.
Daily Total: $62.28

Day Three

8 a.m. — Awoken by what I am near positive is the sound of our third roommate's boyfriend doing something...impolite in the next room. (She already left for work.) He is a certifiable Bevers. Moving on from that trauma...
9:20 a.m. — Morning subway commute listening to Lily Allen's It's Not Me, It's You. Nostalgic for 2008, when I would bump these songs as if I could relate SO much at 13. I put some more money on my SEPTA Key transit card after seeing I have $1 on it. Once at work, I get my usual coffee with a pound of creamer and a Nature Valley bar from the kitchen. $30
1:30 p.m. — Super busy morning. There's ramen in the cafeteria, and I get a huge bowl of it for under $10. I eat in my office and read my desk book: Gil's All Fright Diner. $8.63
2:20 p.m. — I run to Walgreens to look for a pair of gel inserts for the shoes I wear every day. The fabric under my big toe is all messed up, and it's been bothering me all day. The cheapest is $12.99, which seems steep. I go back into the office and mess with it until there's a bigger hole in the fabric, but it stops bothering me. A short-term money saver that I promise you I will regret later when it gets worse!
6 p.m. — It is an unseasonable 65 degrees out when I leave work, so I decide to walk home. The plus side of walking: I save two whole dollars from not taking the subway. The downside: I walk directly through downtown to get home and usually stop at 500 places for stupid things. I listen to the latest episode of If I Were You on the trek.
7 p.m. — The walk home would normally take about 30 minutes, but I end up stopping at Warby Parker to try on a few frames that I liked online and Shakespeare & Co. for some new titles I'll definitely add to my library list. I stop by Wawa (the world's largest!) for a ham and turkey club and a quart of chocolate milk for my apartment. $8.56
7:30 p.m. — LinkedIn reminds me that today is my work anniversary at my job, and as luck would have it, my FabFitFun winter box has arrived! What a serendipitous anniversary gift to myself. This is my first time getting one — I kept seeing ads for it on Insta for $20 off, and I caved and ordered one. The box has a good mix of stuff, including a sleek, black crossbody bag, hyaluronic acid eye masks, a deep-conditioning hair mask, and an eye-brightener stick. Sadly, two of the three mini ceramic bowls that came in it were broken, but the unbroken one finds an immediate home on my dresser to hold trinkets. Considering I only paid about $32 for this box that's supposed to retail for $300-$380, I'm content!
8:30 p.m. — Crank up my humidifier, roll out my yoga mat, and do some “Yoga with Adriene” in my room, followed by a shower. I'm an amateur yogi, and my loud, street-facing room is hardly Zen, but I feel more comfortable learning how to do it from home (that and I'm cheap).
11:30 p.m. — Rewatch episodes of Killing Eve while I do some light cleaning, vacuuming, and organizing all my new beauty/skin-care loot. I set aside the things I am giving away from yesterday's free exchange before slapping on a heavy moisturizing mask and heading to bed.
Daily Total: $47.19

Day Four

8:50 a.m. — My later start time would be great for someone who likes to sleep in or is productive in the morning — but I do not possess either trait. Like on most days, it's a bare-minimum-effort morning. I use my Burt's Bees sensitive cleanser, moisturize and slather on sunscreen, throw on clothes, and I'm out the door, using $2 from my prepaid card on the subway. At work, I get coffee and a Nature Valley bar.
1:30 p.m. — I have some of my roommate's leftovers for lunch. (Wish it was ramen.)
2:30 p.m. — Earlier today I learned that a childhood friend died last night after a long battle with cancer. I see on Facebook that a GoFundMe has been launched to cover medical and funeral expenses, and I donate $50, plus the $5 fee. I see that so many of my classmates from home have also donated, and I'm very glad that her family will be receiving a lot of support from our community. $55
6 p.m. — I take the usual cramped subway ride home, where my roommate and our friend are hanging. Earlier, we discussed doing a taco night, so I haven't yet eaten, but of course my roommate is cooking an unrelated meal for herself, so taco night has been forgotten. My friend and I run to the liquor store, where he gets us a box of Pinot noir. We go back to the apartment to drink, sneak some of our other roomie's brownies, and gossip about our weeks.
9:15 p.m. — I call an Uber Pool to my aunt's house, where I'm watching her dog for the night. It would be $4.34, but I use Uber Cash I have from a gift card.
9:50 p.m. — I feed and take out the pup. My aunt leaves me a note that there are Auntie Anne's pretzel dogs in the freezer, so I scarf one down while I half-watch Guy's Grocery Games and watch her crazy dog bounce off the walls. Then I dip into my aunt's expansive and high-end skin-care collection and crash.
Daily Total: $55

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Crazy dog woke me up several times last night. Feed the dog, put on the TV for him, and head to the subway ($2 prepaid).
10 a.m. — Get to work and there is a fire drill immediately. We don't have to leave the building, but rather must stand in the hallway. When I'm finally free to roam, I grab my usual coffee and Nature Valley bar.
1:30 p.m. — Today I brought a sandwich of goat cheese, prosciutto, fig jam, and honey on sourdough. It's my makeshift and inferior version of my favorite sandwich to buy out somewhere. I received an email that add-on items are now open for the FabFitFun spring box. There are nearly 100 add-ons to look through, but nothing catches my eye.
4:30 p.m. — Losing steam at work. I make hot chocolate in the kitchen and browse my Amazon wish list for a bit. I put an earring set in my cart that is definitely the copy of a brand I see on Instagram a lot, and a rice-water cleanser duo from The Face Shop. I hold off on finalizing my cart in case I think of anything else I need.
7:30 p.m. — After work, I go on a bit of a shopping spree. I stop first at Kiehl's to replenish my stock of their cucumber herbal toner ($17.28). Next stop is Five Below, where I get a water-gel mask and a small crescent-moon-shaped mirror ($9.70). My last stop is Buffalo Exchange, where I get two Madewell sweaters and a soft Madewell tee ($36 with my $5 coupon). This is definitely more money than I usually spend on a random jaunt around Center City, but I feel like I got quite a bit for my buck! $62.98
8:20 p.m. — Get home and see my free gift of a hyaluronic-acid serum from Tree of Life Beauty has arrived! I'm (obviously) having a skin-care moment.
9 p.m. — Fifty-cent pierogi Thursdays at a local dive with friends. I don't drink, but I do “splurge” on some of the 75-cent add-ons (Cheez Whiz, apple sauce, etc.). $7.50
11 p.m. — Showered, water-gel mask applied, and in bed reading my book, The End of Mr. Y.
Daily Total: $70.48

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Rover dog has been barking for hours. Send help.
8:30 a.m. — My roomie and I get in a little tiff, partially about the dog-sitting and about other little built-up stuff. Neither of us enjoys this tense rehashing of things, so we quickly settle our scores and she offers to pay for my 50-cent pierogis next week. (Big spender! I'm just glad we aren't still fighting.)
10:03 a.m. — Hate being even three minutes late, but the subway is a fickle mistress. Get into work and immediately make my coffee and start my assignments. My mom texts me about an anniversary party for our favorite Irish pub in my hometown over the long weekend. I make a mental note to buy a Megabus ticket this weekend.
1:30 p.m. — My goat cheese, prosciutto, honey, and fig jam speciality again for lunch.
6 p.m. — My friend and I have a dinner reservation at 9, the earliest we could get at a newish and very popular Italian restaurant. We have three hours to kill, so I do my makeup in my bathroom and then head to get my eyebrows threaded. Because it's my tenth visit with my punch card, the threading is free, plus tip. $3
8:40 p.m. — After meandering through Barnes & Noble for nearly two hours, I meet my friend at the restaurant. The inside is seriously straight out of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. We sit at the bar and get a carafe of white wine, which I cover. $23
9:15 p.m. — We get seated and order drinks (a mule for me). We're next to a couple celebrating a 90th birthday and learn their entire life story — turns out we're neighbors! We split stuffed artichoke hearts and I get the wild boar bolognese. Seriously delicious food, surprisingly inexpensive, and a really cute and charming waiter. My friend spent more on drinks, but we split the bill down the middle. Then we hit up a few bars, and my friend pays for my drinks to make it even. $50.31
1:30 a.m. — I walk home. I could just pay $4 or $5 for a cab, but it's been a spendy day. I'm lucky to live in a neighborhood where a really dumb, stupid gal who decides to walk home alone drunk can do so without problems. (Still not safe, do not rec!) I haphazardly smear a makeup wipe and micellar water on my face/eyes and pass out.
Daily Total: $76.31

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Yeah, not happening! Sleep mask on.
10 a.m. — Get up and chug chocolate milk, which is the only drink in my fridge. (Why don't I just drink water?)
11:30 a.m. — Vomit up the chocolate milk. (We all saw that coming, didn't we?) Brush my teeth, pop two Excedrin, cleanse my face, heat up my hot therapy pack, and Snapchat people about my snail-mucin cream. (Not many replies back. Feeling unappreciated!)
12 p.m. — My friend wants to go to an insectarium/butterfly pavilion in the Northeast today, so she Venmos me for my ticket, which is discounted with a Groupon deal. My friend who I went out with last night Venmos me $7.50 for the rest of the drinks. $9.75
1:40 p.m. — Uber Pooling to the Northeast, since I have no clue how else to get there. Luckily, Uber in Philly is much less expensive than in other cities. (I see you, NY.) $10
4:30 p.m. — After seeing way too many tarantulas and being swarmed by swooping butterflies in the butterfly pavilion, we get smoothies in the café. $5.94
5:30 p.m. — My friend drives us back to my hood to try a new ramen place. It's incredible, and I try a drink that may become a new addiction: Calpico soda. $17.28
7:30 p.m. — Some friends from college are meeting up for drinks across town, but I'm still recovering from last night and my day of activity. I shower, do laundry, drink some Naked strawberry-banana juice I have in the fridge, and continue my binge of The Americans until about 4 a.m. So much for being too exhausted for interaction!
Daily Total: $42.97
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