A Week In Sioux Falls, SD, On A $32,000 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 reporter working in media who makes $32,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Marc Jacobs Daisy Love perfume.
Occupation: Reporter
Industry: Media/Journalism
Age: 22
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Salary: $32,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,000
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 including utilities and internet. I'm rooming with my friend, and she knows I'm broke on a journalist's budget, so she offered me a flat fee that's pretty cheap for the Sioux Falls rental market.
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents and I cut a 60/40 deal, and my 40% was covered by scholarships and part-time work.)
Car Insurance: TBD (I just moved out of my parents' house, so I have to get on my own car insurance ASAP.)
Spotify: $5 (I still somehow have the student discount price. I mooch off my parents for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and HBO.)
Gym: $0 (I'm still on my family's plan.)
Phone: $0 (I'm still on the family plan, and I don't pay yet. My dad and I agreed I should start paying about $40 in January.)
401(k): $75
Roth IRA: $60 (Between my Roth IRA and 401(k) matched by my employer, I try to put away 15% of my salary toward retirement before and after tax accounts.)
Savings: It can range from $60 to $700 a month. I try to put as much as I possibly can into my savings after covering my monthly budget because living in debt is scarier to me than FOMO.
Advertisement

Day One

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I get out of bed. I'm dragging this morning after getting only six hours of sleep, but I know today is going to be busy, and I need to be up and at it.
8 a.m. — I get dressed and make a piece of multigrain toast with butter and garlic salt on it. Then my dad comes into the kitchen. (I'm living at home until the end of the week. I've lived with my parents since the beginning of the year after graduating college and finding out I had cancer. But I'm cancer-free now!!!) He offers to make me a mushroom and onion cheese omelet. Of course that's a yes on my part. I manage to eat half of it and then feed the egg part to my family's dog.
9 a.m. — I head to the grocery store to stock up for my new place and take advantage of this week's sales. I get some butter, four frozen Lean Cuisine meals, croutons, four cans of tuna, two cans of cream of mushroom soup, dill pickles (hamburger, spears, and whole), cereal, tortillas, pasta sauce, Miracle Whip, four boxes of veggie pasta, four cans of soup, fresh green beans, mustard, three rice packets, four pounds of ground beef, two bags of frozen shrimp, shredded and sliced cheese, a pound of deli sliced turkey, chicken, baby carrots, four avocados, three Honeycrisp apples, two limes, a bag of lemons, a pomegranate, and three bananas. I also get a bag of Romaine lettuce hearts and four different salad dressings for a Friendsgiving potluck I'm going to this afternoon. Everything is on sale, plus I get 20 cents off for bringing in recyclable bags and 12 cents off per gallon for the next time I fill gas. Score! $103.54
Advertisement
10:30 a.m. — My dad and I finished working on our “summer” project last night (about two months later than planned) on an entryway table for my new house. We load it into his pickup and drive to my place to drop it off. My roommate, C.'s, dog is excited to see us, and we let her outside.
11 a.m. — After dropping off the entryway table, we head over to Slumberland to pick up my new mattress along with my split bed springs (The house was built in 1920, so the stairs are super narrow and a queen box spring can't fit up the stairs. C. already tried to bring a queen box spring up the stairs and put a hole in the wall.) We bring it all back to the house and manage to fit everything. I'm proud of myself because I was able to help lift a lot of the gigantic bed, which we thought might not happen since I haven't had much strength and haven't worked out or lifted anything more than 40 pounds for the past nine months. The bed and box springs cost me nothing. My grandparents said they wanted to cover it for me because I didn't accept any money from them while I was going through treatment.
12:30 p.m. — We get back to my parents' place, and I prepare a huge salad for Friendsgiving. It's being hosted by my coworker and his girlfriend — some of my other coworkers will also be there.
Advertisement
1:30 p.m. — Happy Friendsgiving! Everything looks delicious. I eat some rotisserie chicken, creamed corn, green bean casserole, rosemary stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, Brussels sprouts made with bacon grease, homemade biscuits, my salad with red onion, croutons, and Italian dressing, and some homemade pickles. We talk, laugh, and debate about stupid stuff. At the end of the meal, we write on the tablecloth what we're thankful for with our name and year attached. I write that I'm thankful for my family and friends' unwavering support this year. Cancer and chemotherapy are tough things to go through, but knowing that there are people rooting for you makes it so much easier.
5:30 p.m. — We finish Friendsgiving by playing some rounds of Catchphrase that I brought to the party. Then we all part ways, and I drive home since I didn't have any alcohol. I stop at Target on the way to pick up two pairs of tights. When I get home, my mom is preparing supper for us and I help set the table. She makes stuffed peppers paired with my salad and fresh green beans. $22
7 p.m. — I don't want to have a dresser in my room at my new place, so my dad and I are installing shelves in my closet. We head to Menard's to buy shelving and brackets. I end up finding baskets that are perfect to put on the shelves, and buy four. My dad pays at the register but I Venmo him $60 to cover the cost of the baskets. He volunteers to cover the shelving and spice drops my mom asked us to pick up. $60
8 p.m. — We get home, and I'm beat. I take a shower and read some of my book, Outlander, before falling asleep at 9:30 p.m. (Wow, I feel old.)
Daily Total: $185.54

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — Time to start the work week. I press the snooze because I'm still adjusting to working a normal schedule after being out of work for so long, and I worked the Saturday reporting shift, so I only had one day off work.
7:15 a.m. — I finally roll out of bed after spending 15 minutes checking my email, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts for any important updates that happened overnight. Just a few messages I answer quickly. I make two pieces of multigrain toast with peanut butter and honey, prepare my lunch for work, turn on today's podcast episode of the The Daily, and leave for work by 7:40 a.m.
8 a.m. — I sit down at my cubicle and start logging into my computer for the day. I packed a banana for a morning snack today, but I'm already hungry again so I eat it the second I sit down. Oops.
10:30 a.m. — Something was wonky with the schedule this week for our breaking news team. I'm on general assignment this week but I volunteer to transition to nighttime. My supervisor tells me I can leave at noon and come back at 5 p.m.
12:20 p.m. — I leave work and make a turkey lettuce wrap with some Kettle Chips when I get home. I sit down and start reading Outlander again. It's hella long — like Game of Thrones books long — but good. I watched the first season and a half of the TV show a month ago and decided I'd rather read the books first.
4 p.m. — I take a break from reading to start packing up parts of my room. C. recently bought a house, and we agreed to be roommates, so I scored big time on cheap rent and an awesome, reliable roommate.
5 p.m. — I get back to work and start on a story I was working on before by making some phone calls. It's a sad article about a murder that took place in a small community. These kinds of stories are always hard to write and make me wonder just how long I can stay in breaking news.
6 p.m. — I heat up my supper while keeping my ear to the police scanner. Supper is yesterday's reheated red bell pepper stuffed with ground beef and rice along with a romaine salad and hard boiled egg.
8:30 p.m. — One of my coworkers left a plastic container full of brownies in the office. Since I'm the only one left here for tonight, I take one on my way to refill my water bottle. It's delicious, as expected.
9 p.m. — Time to go home! I remote start my vehicle from the newsroom because I'm a wimp. It's so cold! I bundle up and remind myself that my visible puffs of air are just reminders that Christmas is soon.
10:30 p.m. — I head to bed after watching tonight's episode of Manifest with my parents and take my twice-daily Lovenox shot. I had a blood clot during chemo, and so I have to take a blood-thinning shot twice a day until the end of the month.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I wake up and make a quick call to finish my story and submit it for publishing. Then I eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes with 1% whole milk, take my shot, and settle in for a few hours to read again.
11:30 a.m. — I listen to this week's episode of The Minimalists while getting ready for work and preparing today's lunch and dinner. I eat some salad and chicken and broccoli stir-fry with rice that my parents had for dinner last night. I also just found out that Game of Thrones comes back in April and start to frantically message every GoT-loving friend I have. SO HYPED.
12:40 p.m. — I turn on The Daily and head to work. My story was published this morning and it's doing okay. Not great, but okay. I run to a fire a few blocks from the office during my shift and write up a brief story about it when I get back to the office — no one was hurt, thank goodness.
5 p.m. — I eat while on the clock because I have to head out over my break. I'm applying for a part-time position at a facility nearby because it pays almost as well as my pay now, and I'm in need of extra money. I plan to go to grad school after getting a few years of work experience, and I don't want to worry about student loans, so I need to save up. I also want to pay back my parents for covering the costs associated with my cancer treatment. Even though we're on an amazing healthcare plan my mom has through work, it still cost them around $10,000. If they don't accept the money when I finally earn that much, then I will give it to them as an anniversary present to finally visit Australia like they've been dreaming.
5:45 p.m. — I leave work for my break and head to the facility. After taking a tour, I get signed up for a graveyard shift, 11:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., which works well with my schedule since I don't work until 1 p.m. regularly.
7 p.m. — I get back to the office, where I listen to the scanner and monitor social media until it's time to get off my shift at 10 p.m.
10 p.m. — I'm super tired and can barely can keep my eyes open. When I get home, I realize I'm super hungry and make a tuna salad sandwich. I eat it while watching part of an episode of Love It Or List It with my mom. I take my Lovenox shot, go to bed, and fall asleep by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I wake up, roll out of bed, and get ready for the day. I make myself some Frosted Mini-Wheats with 1% milk along with some chamomile tea and honey. I take my Lovenox shot, catch up on social media while I eat, and track my expenses from last week on the Dave Ramsey EveryDollar app, which helps me track my spending and keep to a budget.
9 a.m. — After I finish my tea, I open my laptop and look at the ads for this week at my grocery store. I'm obsessive about planning and like to keep track of data and look for patterns. Since I had nothing to do while I was out of work for nine months, I started tracking sales prices at my grocery store. It's actually helped me get an idea of what actual good deals look like for certain products and how often they happen without having to actually spend any money.
11:15 a.m. — I take my dog for a walk instead of finishing the ad log.
11:40 a.m. — I prepare my supper for tonight and then eat my hodgepodge lunch of reheated pizza from Saturday, a hard boiled egg, and carrots.
12:40 p.m. — I leave for work and listen to The Daily on my commute. When I get to work, the first tweet I see is from one of our U.S. senators on the history of the turkey pardon. This year's turkeys are from South Dakota for the first time in the 71-year tradition. I start working on an updated story on the turkeys since they leave South Dakota at the end of the week, and we find out their names at the beginning of Thanksgiving week.
2:45 p.m. — I'm so engrossed in my turkey research that I forget about an appointment I have at the hospital at 2:30 p.m. I call up the hospital, and they say I can still come in, so I head over there. The appointment is to check my drain where my tumor used to be. When I had my tumor removed this summer they cut off some lymph nodes in the area, so it's been filling up with fluid and created a lymphocele. I've been going in once or twice a week for the past month or so to get the area injected with alcohol to deaden the tissue and stop the cavity from filling up with fluid. I'm hoping they decide to take the drain out today. I can't work out with the drain in, and I have to wear dresses to work every day because jeans are too tight to wear with the drain.
4 p.m. — I'm getting my drain out tomorrow morning! I head back to work and get right into breaking news instead of turkey news. I write up a brief on a burglary suspect police are looking for and listen to the scanner.
6:15 p.m. — I grab my supper: a banana, strawberry Jell-O, and a chicken, turkey, and avocado sandwich.
10:15 p.m. — I leave work, listen to the last half of The Daily on the drive home, and go to bed by 10:45 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I hit snooze twice. I eventually get up at 6:30. I get dressed in a sweatshirt and yoga pants, remote start my car, brush my teeth, and head out to meet my friend at a coffee shop at 7 a.m. I'm taking her wedding photos in December, and I want to plan out a schedule and make sure we lock down what kind of photos she wants taken during the day.
7 a.m. — We get to the coffee shop, and I order a fried egg and bacon panini with watermelon slices on the side and chocolate orange tea. It's expensive for breakfast, but payday is tomorrow so I don't sweat it too much. $13.50
8:30 a.m. — We've nailed down the schedule, and she'll send me additional details with names of family members and other things over the next week. I'm getting so excited for her wedding! I arrive at the hospital for my appointment at 8:45 a.m., and they take my drain out.
10 a.m. — I get home and I take a shower right away — it's the first time in nine months I don't have to put saran wrap over some part of my body to cover an insertion or something else! I get out and sit at my computer.
11:15 a.m. — We're having a potluck at noon today. It was too late last night to cook something, and I was too busy this morning, so I run to the grocery store and grab two dozen chocolate chip cookies. I also get a pack of gum because I'm out of the ICBB (in case of bad breath) stash I keep in my car. $11.23
1 p.m. — At the work potluck I eat some chips and salsa, a Buffalo chicken sandwich, meatballs, spaghetti squash, cheesy potatoes, peppermint bark popcorn, romaine salad, and a German chocolate cupcake.
6:15 p.m. — I take my break to eat my oats and chocolate Fiber One bar and read a little of Outlander.
10 p.m. — It's been an excruciatingly slow night, but I keep myself busy and pitch a few stories.
10:15 p.m. — I listen to a podcast one of my coworkers recommended, Mystery Show, on my way home. When I get in the door, my dog is super hyper and running around the house. He didn't get a walk at all today, so I convince my dad to go on a walk with me and the dog. We get back around 10:45 p.m. and poke fun at my mom for falling for the turkey challenge my brother sent to her. She takes it like a champ and says she'll end up as a meme online.
11:15 p.m. — I feel like it's been forever since I've read more than a few pages of Outlander, so I sit in bed reading until midnight.
Daily Total: $24.73

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and end up snoozing until for another three hours.
9 a.m. — Get up. Get ready. Get dressed. Then I load my car with some boxes to take to my new place. I listen to The Daily on the way there and then let out C.'s dog and listen to another episode of Mystery Show while I get my room ready.
12 p.m. — I get back home and heat up some goulash — pasta noodles, ground beef, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and an ungodly amount of brown sugar — that my grandma made for me while in the hospital and we froze. I leave for downtown and stop at my bank's ATM to take out some cash to pay my mom back for a copper kettle we found that I want to give to C. for our Friendsthanksmas celebration we're having with our other friend this weekend. The ATM isn't accepting my PIN code. I try upwards of five times, leaving a little frustrated.
12:30 p.m. — I stop at the Washington Pavilion — a mixed-use historical building in town that features art exhibits, science exhibits, and theater performances — to buy a Downtown Sioux Falls gift card as a Friendsthanksmas present for my other friend. It works at almost all of the downtown shops and boutiques, and she might be moving here soon so she can use it. But my debit card is frozen (it got deactivated because I got my PIN wrong so many times earlier), so I have to run down the street to my bank to get cash. I get it just in time to make it to work at 1 p.m. $12
5 p.m. — I take out my supper: a chicken and turkey sandwich with mustard, mayonnaise, cheese, and lettuce along with a side of pickles.
8:30 p.m. — I get off work early because I'm out of hours. Then my dad and I run over to the new place to measure my closet one more time so we can cut the board. I put my hanging clothes into my car along with miscellaneous items I haven't moved yet.
11 p.m. — I'm so tired and ready for bed. I feel like I haven't seen my mom all week, so I text her goodnight.
Daily Total: $12

Day Seven

8 a.m. — It's move-in day AND Friendsthanksmas! I get ready for the day and head over to the new place to get the closet finished.
11 a.m. — We finish setting the room up. Turns out shelves are too short. My dad and I will cut the new board when I'm back home later today. He leaves, and I chill out for a while, enjoying my newfound freedom. C. gets home around 11:30. We catch up about life and change to look presentable for being out in public.
12:30 p.m. — After our friend comes over, and we show her the house. We decide to go eat at a local eaterie downtown called Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen. I order the fish and chipwich sandwich (wild Alaskan Cod, sea salt and vinegar chip crust, bread and butter pickles, and tartar slaw) while they both order poke bowls. We all split naughty fries (pork chili verde, taqueria pickles, queso fresco, cilantro, and radish) and C. covers the fries. $15.48
2 p.m. — The South Dakota Showdown game starts, so I head home to watch with my family. It's South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Go Jacks!) against our in-state rivals, the University of South Dakota Coyotes. I leave after halftime though because SDSU is doing so well, and I don't like feeling sorry and embarrassed for USD.
4 p.m. — I meet up with C. and our friend at Homegoods and then we head to Ulta. C. convinces me to splurge and buy Marc Jacobs Daisy Love perfume as a way to celebrate being cancer-free, leaving my parents' house, and being an adult. My mom is allergic to fragrance, so I've never used scented lotion or perfume before. $63.90
5:30 p.m. — We eat supper at Phillip's Diner in downtown Sioux Falls. I'm not that hungry, and I really just want to get a milkshake, but I force myself to get a bowl of chili (because I need some nutrition) plus a s'mores milkshake. Toasted marshmallows on top and crushed graham crackers in the milkshake. Um, YUM. $13.36
6:30 p.m. — We get back home and start decorating the Friendsthanksmas tree. It's my job to arrange the ornaments because I'm so detail-oriented. I happily oblige because I love decorating. Then we make a quick trip to Lewis to pick ornament hooks, which C. pays for because it's her tree.
9:45 p.m. — We go see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I thought it was good, but I wish J.K. Rowling still wrote Harry Potter-verse books. They're just so good, and I feel like this movie series is lacking her usual depth. I buy three movie tickets, and my friend covers snacks. $30.36
12:30 a.m. — The movie is over, and it's time to drive home and sleep in my new bed! We lounge for a while in the living room because we're all too tired to actually go to bed, ironically. I end up falling asleep around 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $123.10
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. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Have you been working for at least 8 years and seen your salary increase or fluctuate? If so, fill out this form for a chance to be featured on our Salary Story series!

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Documentary
Five love stories behind diverse, multicultural marriages.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Life experiments, 5 days at a time.
Watch Now
Fashion
The style of subculture.
Watch Now
Beauty
Viral trends, tried and tested.
Watch Now
Documentary
From vibrators to lipstick, learn how your favorite products are made.
Watch Now
Documentary
Extraordinary, one-of-a-kind individuals
Watch Now
Documentary
The latest stories to watch.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Inside the homes of millennial women — & what they paid for them
Watch Now
Comedy
Let's talk about sex, baby.
Watch Now
Documentary
Female artisans around the world
Watch Now
Politics
Made by and for smart, opinionated women.
Watch Now
Film
We helped 12 female directors claim their power.