A Week In Houston, TX, On A $82,200 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of J Crew.
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 registered nurse working in healthcare who makes $82,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on a J. Crew coat.
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 23
Location: Houston, TX
Salary: $82,200
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,300 (on average — a mess of base pay, night time differential, weekends and overtime)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,350
Loans: $0 (big shoutout to mom and dad for paying for undergrad and sending me off into adulthood with a paid-off car)
Utilities: $90
Cable + Wifi: $111
Gym: $40 (my gym has a deal for members under the age of 30)
Netflix + Hulu: $0 (thanks little sis for sharing student accounts)
Spotify: $10
Phone: $55, paid to my parents
Car + Renter's Insurance: $115
Health + Dental + Vision Insurance: $75 per paycheck
403(b): $300/paycheck (8% before tax, my employer matches 6%. I currently have $15,000 in here and don't plan on touching it any time soon.)
High Interest Savings Account: $2,000/month (I have $29,800 currently. The interest rate has dropped since I started from 2.25% to 1.70%, so I've been talking with my dad about what the next move is for my savings and investments.)
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Day One

12 p.m. — Wake up way later than I expected, but that's what Tylenol PM does to you. That, and being back in my own bed after Christmas break at my parents' house. I wake up and make scrambled eggs and breakfast sausage with a cup of Houston blend coffee while I do the dishes I left in the sink for the last week.
1 p.m. — I have nothing on the agenda for today, so I take my time getting ready with my new blow dry brush (HIGHLY recommend), and do an easy makeup look. I use NARS foundation, Clinique powder, blush, and under-eye highlight, topped off with my favorite Sephora brand mascara. I throw on Loft jeans and a blouse with my ruffle Keds and head out the door.
1:30 p.m. — Drive out of the loop to the suburbs so I can get all of my shopping done at once. I have a new episode of the podcast, Girls Gotta Eat, to listen to, so the drive isn't too bad. I spin through Hobby Lobby to find a new cross stitch pattern, but no luck. Next stop is Target, where I can always find something. I get Christmas storage, La Croix, and a heart-shaped pancake mold. $21
2 p.m. — After circling the HEB parking garage for 20 minutes, I score a spot. I stop in the Roastery for a latte and a mini powdered sugar donut to soften the holiday crowd at the grocery store ($5.95). I stick to my list and get home with salmon, chicken breasts, spinach, artichokes, French bread, apples, clementines, celery, pre-made sushi, asparagus, eggs, yogurt, almond milk, PB2 powder, and gluten-free pretzel crackers ($70.26). $76.21
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3 p.m. — I stop by three other craft stores on the way home, but I guess cross-stitching is a thing of the past. I finally get home and convince myself to change into workout clothes before I settle in for the night. I manage to run four miles, which is a breeze considering downtown is empty with everyone getting ready for New Year's Eve.
6:45 p.m. — As I start making dinner, I realize I threw away my mayonnaise in a fridge clean-out and need it for this recipe. I'm not a fan of walking in the dark alone, so I put on a bra and get in the car to drive two blocks to the grocery store. I buy mayonnaise, tampons, and a pint of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream. Happy New Year's to me! $8
7 p.m. — I feel lame for staying in, but most of my friends are out of town or at work, and working nights makes midnight not such a novelty anymore. I prepare my spinach and artichoke bruschetta, pour some Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, and snuggle on the couch with St. Elmo's Fire. I ring in 2020 with a bubble bath and a spoonful of ice cream.
Daily Total: $105.21

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up refreshed, and as cheesy as it sounds, ready for the whole new year/new me. I have a half marathon coming up that I haven't been super diligent about training for, but here we go. I get dressed in my favorite Lululemon outfit, fill up my water belt, and head out the door. I get in eight, yes eight, miles.
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12 p.m. — I eat some HEB tamales and clementines post-run. I consider going shopping, but I'm so exhausted I just lay on the couch and binge-watch ER. I'm a tried a true fan of medical shows, but this one takes the cake for most realistic. I play on my phone all afternoon, reading Money Diaries and mindlessly swiping on Hinge, but after my last relationship ended I just can't get into the dating apps.
6 p.m. — I finally get my sore legs into the shower and get ready for dinner with my friend, C. I straighten my hair, do my makeup routine, and put on a new fun peplum crop top from Anthropologie with puffy sleeves, simple gold hoops, skinny ankle jeans, and booties. We go to the Original Ninfa's, my second favorite Mexican restaurant in Houston. I get a frozen marg and chicken fajitas. $36.50
9 p.m. — I'm exhausted, so meal prepping can wait. I get in bed in my cozy Soma pajamas and buy the new Jodi Picoult book on my Kindle. I used to be a major bookworm, but with Netflix and Hulu have stopped reading before bed. One of my resolutions is to read more this year, so here we go. $14
Daily Total: $50.50

Day Three

11:30 a.m. — Wake up to no alarm. It's my first day back, so I try to let myself sleep as late as possible. After an hour of playing on my phone, I decide to face the world. I put on my Outdoor Voices Exercise Dress (my favorite thing ever – don't laugh) and running shoes. I head to the post office to drop off a package for Poshmark (a $15 sale once they receive it!) then go to the gym. I listen to more Girls Gotta Eat on the elliptical, then get overwhelmed by the gym bros lifting weights so I go home to do some more ab exercises.
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3 p.m. — I shower and make another cup of Houston Blend coffee in my Keurig. I used to have my mom bring this to me when I was in college out of state, it's my absolute favorite. I meal prep four salads and four dishes of chicken fried rice with egg, veggies, brown rice, and cauliflower rice. I also prepare snacks in plastic bags and start mentally preparing for work tonight.
5:45 p.m. — I have on my Figs with a matching scrub top, a Lululemon bow scrunchie, and matching jacket. I get so tired of navy scrubs that I'll do anything to style it up. I make avocado toast on Dave's Killer Bread with a poached egg and make coffee number three in my travel mug to take to the hospital.
10:30 p.m. — Work is going smoothly (we never say quiet in the ICU). I only have one patient, and he's my favorite, but we have our routine down so he's tucked in, bathed, meds in, and ready for bed. I try to get as many of my tasks done at the beginning of the night because you never know who is going to code, what kind of admission is going to hit, or what's going to happen with your seemingly stable patient.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

3 a.m. — I go to lunch with my orientee, Z., and we catch up from the holidays. I eat my meal-prepped salad and chicken fried rice, which isn't the best, and watch HGTV on my thirty-minute lunch break.
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7:30 a.m. — Done with report and ready for SLEEP! That workout bag is going to stay in my locker, there's no way I'm going to the gym. My first nights on are always hard because I'm terrible at flipping my schedule. I rinse off, use my Kiehl's avocado eye mask, and take a melatonin.
5 p.m. — Sleeping all day might sound fun, but no matter what, I wake up exhausted. I douse my head in Dove Dry Shampoo (a godsend) and do an easy face of makeup to hide the bags under my eyes. My everyday challenge is trying to look like I've slept more than I actually have. I put on more Figs scrubs, my Dankso clogs and compression socks, and grab my overnight oats and travel coffee on the way out the door.
9:30 p.m. — Admissions are quite the way to start the shift. Now that all my orders are in and both patients are settled, I can finally sit down to chart and drink my coffee.
11 p.m. — One cup isn't going to cut it. I leave my orientee and head down to the hospital cafeteria for more coffee. I also grab an orange at the cash register and pay for it with my badge to have it withdrawn from my paycheck. $4
Daily Total: $4

Day Five

2:30 a.m. — I go to lunch, more salad and chicken fried rice. I packed breakfast this morning too. 2019 was full of schedule flip-flopping and drive-throughs on my way home in the morning, so I'm trying to bring breakfast this year. You never really get used to eating salmon and veggies at 3 a.m., but I'm figuring it out.
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5 a.m. — The clock has to be moving in slow motion. I'm glad I wore my clogs today, because I had to stand in a sterile procedure for over an hour. I get my chia seed yogurt and banana from the breakroom and eat it at the desk while I check Z.'s charting.
7:30 a.m. — I change into running clothes in the locker room at work. It's surprisingly chilly, so my open back Lululemon tank isn't going to work for an outdoor run. I drive to the gym and run for 30 minutes on the indoor track. Once I get home, I shower, wash my hair with my John Frieda Frizz-Ease shampoo + conditioner, blow it out with my Revlon, and get in bed. It's definitely harder to wind down after working out, but I fall asleep around 9:30.
5:30 p.m. — My bed is so cozy tonight and I can hear it storming outside. I put on a long sleeve shirt under my pink scrub top to make myself warm because I know with the rain it will be so cold on the unit tonight. I pack my bag with another serving of overnight oats and reload my Starbucks app on the way to work so I can order a Medicine Ball on the way in. Parking at the hospital is free for night shift nurses, and there's a Starbucks connected to the garage but I try to limit my coffee runs to save money. $20
11 p.m. — I look in my snack stash in my locker and find some microwave popcorn. With Z. doing all of our nursing tasks tonight and me just watching her, it's pretty boring, so I'm snacking and playing Sudoku to stay awake.
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Daily Total: $20

Day Six

3 a.m. — The chicken fried rice is fine on night three, but the salad has seen better days. I eat my applesauce and clementines and pick at it, but I'm still pretty full from the popcorn so I throw the rest away.
5 a.m. — I spend the rest of the shift making sure all the patients on the unit have a bath and clean sheets. I eat my morning yogurt while my best work friend, L., goes through my dating apps for me. Every time I think I want to try dating again, I remember swiping in the middle of the night is not going to attract the type of guy I want to meet. I think I'm just destined to be single until I'm off night shift... which will be a while, unfortunately. I had a casual fling with a Hinge boy for a couple of weeks and realized I'm not good at the casual thing. We stop to clean up everyone's drinks before management shows up.
7:30 a.m. — One more melatonin and one more day sleep! I usually work three shifts a week, but after working Christmas, I had a week off so now I'm barreling through four in a row to get back on track.
5 p.m. — I usually don't put too much effort into getting ready for work, but I decide some makeup will wake me up. I straighten my hair, then put on a faux-Gucci headband that matches my Figs, blush, metallic Nikes, and pearl earrings. Tonight I make sure to pack my Hunter backpack with my Kindle, snacks, AirPods, gum, and my Sudoku book. There's nights where I never drink water and others where I need activities, you really never know what you're in for.
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7 p.m. — We have our same two patients back, so I eat my breakfast while Z. gets her day together. I have greek yogurt, blackberries, and granola with a cup of coffee. Gone are the days of my coffee going cold, I bought myself a Yeti coffee mug for Christmas and finally understand all of the hype.
10:30 p.m. — While I'm trying to order more narcotics from the pharmacy, my friend, C., texts me about St. Patrick's Day in Chicago! I've been dying for a trip, so I immediately start looking at plane tickets. I also make a late-night online purchase on J.Crew. I get the City Coat I've had in my cart all winter, with a sale price I can't pass up. Hey, its cold in Chicago, this Texas girl will need a coat! I spend half my life in navy scrubs, so I love to treat myself to tops or trendy items to mix and match with what I already have in my closet. Gone are the college days of big t-shirts and Lululemon shorts everywhere I go. $108
Daily Total: $108

Day Seven

7 a.m. — The rest of the night flies by with me planning my new trip to Chicago, Z. calming our patients down, and everyone staying alive. I get to give report to my favorite nurse, so I stay after chatting but finally get home around 7:45 and take a bubble bath to mentally digest the last four nights. I have a lot of fun with my coworkers, but seeing some of the sickest patients in terrible situations really takes a toll on you. I make a mug of Sleepy Time tea and fall asleep around 8:30.
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3:30 p.m. — I wake up groggy, but make myself stay up to attempt to flip my schedule. I text C. about watching The Bachelor later, which she's hosting this week, so I walk to the grocery store by my apartment for a bottle of wine to bring. I should go to the gym, but instead I get my laundry going and wash the dishes I abandoned while I worked the last four days. Since I don't have a roommate, these things tend to go by the wayside when I work long stretches. $9
7 p.m. — I drive to C.'s apartment for the long-awaited premiere of The Bachelor! I loved last season and am excited to watch Peter, but some of these girls are too much. We talk more about Chicago, narrowing down a weekend to go, and I get a message from a Hinge guy about getting drinks. I say yes on a whim, not wanting to end up like the girls on this show.
10 p.m. — Surely The Bachelor producers could get Hannah B. some waterproof mascara!! I drive home and get my Christmas tree taken down. The flip side of sleeping all day is being up all night when everyone else sleeps. I watch ER and message back and forth with the boy from Hinge about getting drinks this week. I get in bed around midnight and fall asleep reading my book.
Daily Total: $9
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