A Week In North Florida On A $24,960 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 research coordinator who makes $24,960 per year and spends some of her money this week on Bubly seltzer.
Occupation: Research Coordinator
Industry: Healthcare
Age: 23
Location: North Florida
Salary: $24,960
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $894 (after taxes)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $720 (I live with one roommate in a two-bed, two-bath. Utilities is usually $10-20 per month for my half.)
Credit Card: $280
Car Payment: $301
Pet Insurance: $47.42
iPad Insurance+ iCloud Storage: $7.37
Gym: $12
Spotify, Netflix, Regal Unlimited: $55
Wine Club Membership: $38
Express Style Trial: $50

Day One

6:49 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I debate sleeping in but remember it's a hair wash day. I get up and my cat steals the warm spot. While I am waiting for the shower to heat up, I log into YNAB to budget my paycheck. It says my trial subscription expired so I begrudgingly type in my credit card for the $83.99 annual fee. It's not in my budget at the moment but this app has really helped me reign in my spending. Oh, the irony is not lost on me. $83.99
7:13 a.m. — I sit on hold with my bank because my CC billing info is incorrect? Maybe it's a sign... I start getting ready for work while I am on hold. I throw on scrubs because today we are doing a brain scan so I can't wear metal. Bless up because I love wearing scrubs. I was a Sephora VIB Rouge member for two years before I controlled my impulse spending, and I have been slowly working through my "collection" of high-end products. I spray my face with Fresh Rose toner and after it's dry, apply sunblock. I then use ABH dip brow, Mac powder foundation, Too Faced chocolate soleil bronzer, Tarte blush, and Marc Jacobs mascara. I accidentally take out my eye with the mascara in the process. Oh today shall be a good day.
7:36 a.m. — Finally fix my bank card. I start cutting up strawberries and washing grapes for an afternoon snack at work. I also pack a banana. It's not much because I left my tomato soup and rice at work yesterday and my friend is bringing me homemade butternut squash soup. I blow dry my hair straight and throw it in a braid. I say goodbye to my cat and start my walk to work. I live walking distance to work and it's better than paying $200 a month for parking.
8:30 a.m. — Off to my first meeting of the day. It's a 15 minute walk from my cubicle. I hope there's free donuts this week again.
9 a.m. — No donuts. I am sad.
10 a.m. — Went and grabbed coffee with my boss. I offered to pay, but she declined so I got a free coffee. I preloaded my Starbs card to cover it but ended up not using any funds ($10). On top of that, she told me my counter salary offer was accepted with an additional $1,000 per year!!! I'm on cloud nine right now. I'll go from ~$25,000 per year to ~$36,000 per year. This may not seem like much, but to me it's a big jump especially since I was so afraid to ask for an extra $3,000! They will also pay for my masters next year so I am pleased. $10
11:45 a.m. — I eat my lunch at my desk, which is just tomato soup and jasmine rice. My mom is blowing my phone up from the good news! My dad didn't have money to go to school (or money at all growing up), and his goal was to be able to provide his kids opportunities he never had. My mom is an immigrant from a communist country so she never dreamed of going to college. It makes me happy to make them proud.
12:30 p.m. — I meet a friend who is a nurse at the hospital where I work. I buy us two cookies since she brought me soup. Afterwards, I race to the MRI scanner for our scan session! I love my job. I get to look at brains and see how drugs and other stimuli affect us. $2.01
5 p.m. — Done with the scan and made it back to my cubicle. Time to finish some stuff up before the weekend.
6:15 p.m. — Home and my friend, H., texts me asking to get drinks. It's out of my budget but since I get a raise starting next Friday, I'll look the other way. I'm in the mood to celebrate!!
9 p.m. — Leaving the bars. I paid the tab for both of us and she Venmo'd me the other half ($21 my half). We got a pitcher of beer, four mixed drinks, plus bar food for a grand total of $35 ($42 with tip), which is pretty good in my opinion. It was great celebrating with my friends and I also ran into old college buddies which is always nice. The Uber home is $6.50. $27.50
10 p.m. — Making toast to soothe my tummy ache. After that I use Clinique to take the day off, then Cetaphil skin cleanser. I put on Ole Henriksen banana eye cream then Fresh lotus face moisturizer. I spray a lavender facial mist on to help me relax for the night. In bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $123.50

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I lay in bed for 15 minutes giving my cat scratches and cuddles. We both love it. I jump in the shower and get ready for my day. I don't wash my face with cleanser in the mornings, but I do splash cold water to wake me up then spritz Fresh rose toner before applying my sunblock and same makeup as yesterday.
9:30 a.m. — I make it to H.'s brunch party! Her and her roommates invited me last night at the bars. There's a good amount of people here too. We all chat and cook eggs, bacon, sausages, croissants, and hash browns while drinking mimosas. Then we sit, eat, and watch college football.
1:30 p.m. — Most people have left and I head out to the closest Starbucks. I am studying to take the GRE in January and I am behind in my study schedule. Thankfully they still have the pumpkin cream cold brew so I order one of those ($4.77, prepaid on my Starbucks card).
3:15 p.m. — Studying is going well. I got a free refill (Protip: brewed coffees, cold brews, iced coffees, and iced teas are all free refills if you stay in store and have a green level rewards card) but I pay $.50 for the flavored cream from my prepaid card.
5:30 p.m. — I give up studying because the math frustrates me. I'm also starting to have a low blood sugar attack so I need to eat dinner. Back home I notice an Amazon package. My long distance BF, C., sent my cat a pet water fountain. We joke that C. is my cat's sugar daddy cause C. sends him so many gifts. Sadly, I think the pump is defective because I can't get it to work. Frustrated with the fountain, I give up and make dinner. I make avocado toast on whole grain toast with a runny fried egg. I top the egg with cayenne pepper and Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I eat this while watching college football.
7 p.m. — G. texts me to go out drinking tonight but I decline since I'm over budget and I wanna loaf. Instead, I continue watching football while daydreaming what I'm gonna do with my increase in salary. I also start my graduate school application and sign up for the GRE ($205). I think that is a stupid amount for a computer test but such is life. RIP my credit card. The high charge makes me feel very anxious about my future. I really hope I get into the program I am interested in. I distract myself with a Twilight movie-thon with my roommate and N. $205
9:30 p.m. — I figured out the water fountain and my cat is THRILLED!!! I watch Twilight movies until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $205

Day Three

9:30 a.m. — My cat wakes me up with his demands for scratches. I can never say no to him so I give him the pets he wants. Since I'm up, I FaceTime C. then I call my friend, L., who recently moved across the world. Sadly she doesn't pick up. I surf on Reddit and read the latest MD. I would love to travel to Denmark one day!
10 a.m. — I get up, splash my face with cold water and brush my teeth. Then I make my bed and put on workout clothes. I'm at the gym by 10:30 and hop on the treadmill for a 30 minute walk. It's my first time back in the gym in over a week so today will be a walk and light arms.
11:30 a.m. — Finished my workout. My little noodle arms are shaking!! I get home and make avocado toast again with a fried egg and my seasonings. I read MD while I eat — this one is the mom of twins in FL and her little ones sound adorable.
12 p.m. — I get ready for the day with my usual routine. Sunblock and makeup. I put a new category in YNAB for makeup because I'm low on my Mac powder and mascara. I head out to Starbucks to study.
1 p.m. — I order a grande Starbucks doubleshot on ice (you gotta say Starbucks doubleshot because it's different from a plain doubleshot of espresso). ($4.02 on my prepaid card).
3 p.m. — I am getting antsy. I debate the pros and cons of buying Chipotle. Pros: its delicious. I wanna try the new carne asade plus their guac is fire. Cons: I'm over budget by nearly $300 cause of this test and my YNAB subscription… the cons win out and I am sad. Instead I get a free refill at Starbucks, this time getting the iced peach green tea lemonade and an everything bagel with cream cheese (free refill plus $2.85 prepaid on the card).
4 p.m. — Back home to catch the ending of Breaking Dawn Part One. It'll drive me insane if I don't finish watching the movie plus part two starts right afterwards so I'm gonna continue my moviethon with my cat and my roommate.
5 p.m. — On to part two! My friend, L., texts me that she baked me something and is coming over to drop it off!! What a sweet surprise. While I wait for her arrival, I make tomato soup and jasmine rice for dinner.
6 p.m. — L. comes over with her fiancé and drops off homemade cheesecake!! My friends are the best.
7 p.m. — Twilight ends and I race to the movie theater to see Last Christmas with G. I get a free ticket as part of my regal unlimited membership.
9:20 p.m. — The movie is adorable and I cry way too much. Afterward, I get gas ($28.64) using a gift card I got for babysitting my nieces and nephews. There's a McDonald's right next to the gas station and I can't resist those golden nuggets. I order a 10 count and medium fries. At home, I am surprised to see 12 nugs in the box!!! Score! $6.67
10 p.m. — Wash my face and crawl into bed. I watch YouTube videos until I pass out around 10:15.
Daily Total: $6.67

Day Four

4 a.m. — I wake up in the middle of the night. I'm feeling extremely anxious and can't seem to calm my mind down. I get up and drink water and try to fall back asleep.
9:30 a.m. — I am up. I don't have work today as it is a holiday. Thank you to all that have served and are actively serving in the military! I was gonna hit the gym this morning but I feel a tickle in my throat, which usually means I am getting sick. I jump in a hot shower instead and make myself hot tea. I sit down to study.
11:40 a.m. — I give up on studying. It's hard to focus when my roommate is blasting the TV in the living room. I make myself some breakfast (my usual avocado toast w/ fried egg and my seasonings) and drink more water. After that I do the dishes, clean my room, shower, put on makeup, and blow dry my hair straight while listening to a podcast.
12:30 p.m. — I head to CVS. I get EmergenC packets, DayQuil pills, and NyQuil liquid for $20.67. I had $7 worth of coupons but they expired a couple days ago. Darn. $20.67
12:58 p.m. — Back at Starbucks to study since I can't focus at home. I reload my card ($10) and order a skinny vanilla latte. $10
3:30 p.m. — I leave Starbucks to grab lunch at the local market. I get some vegan tomato and avocado soup plus a roll from the market. I have a $3 off coupon, making my total only $1.50, then I bring it over to my friend L.'s place. We eat and catch up them leave around 4:30 to go see Zombieland 2. $1.50
4:50 p.m. — Movie time! I grab cappuccino flavored ice cream for the movie. $5.67
6:30 p.m. — After the movie, we go to L.'s place to look at apartments for next year. After hours of looking, we find a couple of decent options. We both agree that we don't want to spend more than $500 each month, which is doable since it'll be us plus her fiancé. I head home.
10 p.m. — Nightly routine. I eat some buttered toast for dinner and then crawl into bed. $5.67
Daily Total: $37.84

Day Five

7:40 a.m. — After hitting snooze a million times I get up. I hop in the shower and body wash. I put my hair in a ponytail and straighten it again. Then I do my usual skincare/makeup combo. I throw on jeans, ballet flats, and a wine colored top. I make my lunch for today: grapes, strawberries, tomato soup w/ rice. I head out to walk to work and am at my desk by 8:30.
10:30 a.m. — My morning has been answering a lot of emails and drafting reports for each study I am overseeing. I take a break to head to the hospital to grab an Asiago bagel with cream cheese ($3.20) and look over study data in the lab. I eat lunch at my desk when I get back. $3.20
5 p.m. — I leave work and walk home. Back home, I immediately change into leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top. I text my boss some important info before I forget and then make dinner. Unsurprisingly, it's avocado toast with a fried egg (I am a creature of habit and it tastes so good). After dinner, I crawl into bed and sit on social media for an hour while giving my cat some lovin'.
6 p.m. — My internet isn't working well, which is super frustrating. I am ready to move out of this place, as it is overpriced and not nice at all. I keep fantasizing about the townhomes L. and I were looking at last night. There is one place that sounds like heaven, but the price isn't listed and I'm sure it is wayyyy over our budget.
6:30 p.m. — I get up and start cooking my turkey/cranberry sausages and some jasmine rice for the week. While those are cooking I do the dishes, clean the litter and take out the trash.
7 p.m. — 100% overcooked my sausages. Fack. I put all the food away, do the remaining dishes, wipe down all the counters and vacuum the floors.
7:30 p.m. — I do a little self-care and paint my nails black. I then head to the gym to do some light cardio. I'm still feeling blah from this weekend but I'm determined to not get sick. While I wait for L. to join me, I FaceTime my BF.
8:45 p.m. — After 45 minutes on the bike, I go home. I make a protein smoothie using chocolate protein powder, a banana, almond milk, and a healthy scoop of peanut butter. I munch on a piece of dark chocolate while the smoothie is blending. Before getting ready for bed, I grab another piece of dark chocolate.
9:30 p.m. — Nice hot shower later, I am in sweatpants and an oversized T-shirt. I do my nightly skincare routine and crawl into bed. As soon as I do, my cat curls up next to me and I'm in heaven.
Daily Total: $3.20

Day Six

7:35 a.m. — Hit snooze a million times and accidentally oversleep cause my last alarm was at 7:20. Whoops! I check my emails to see if anything pressing happened. Holy moly, it's 39 degrees outside!! I love the cold so this is awesome news. Since I don't see patients today, my attire is less business and more casual. I give my face an extra healthy spritz of my rose toner because I'm feeling extra dry from the weather.
8:30 a.m. — I do my walk to work and it's a gorgeous day out. I probably should have worn a scarf or a hat, but too late now. Sit down at my desk and start my day around 8:45.
10:30 a.m. — So much work to do. So little time. I feel overwhelmed at the moment. I get up to stretch my legs, do some deep breathing to calm down and make myself some coffee from the office Keurig machine.
12 p.m. — I don't know what's wrong with me today but I feel so anxious. I think it's a combination of anxiety and imposter syndrome. I eat a honeycrisp apple at my desk and do the breathing exercises on my Apple Watch to calm down. I heat up my overcooked turkey sausage, jasmine rice, and lentils.
4:15 p.m. — My eyes are burning from staring and a computer screen plus my blood sugar is tanking, so now is a good time to dip out of work early.
4:30 p.m. — Home and I immediately put on sweats. I toast bread, slather it with PB&J, and eat it open-faced, with cinnamon and honey as toppings. I also make hot *dark* chocolate with almond milk cause this cold weather calls for it.
5 p.m. — I clean up my kitchen since I somehow made a complete mess. Then, I do my daily sit on my bed with my cat and peruse social media for 30 minutes.
7 p.m. — OOPS!!! 30 minutes turned into two hours, but that happens sometimes when you fall down a YouTube rabbit hole. I get up, put on thermal leggings and a long sleeve, and head out to the market. I do my grocery shopping every Wednesday since they do double ad Wednesdays. I leave with brown eggs, thick sliced bread, five avocados (.50 each!), a pound of white rice (for less than a $1!), two things of my organic tomato soup, green grapes, hazelnut syrup that's on sale, a bottle of red wine, and two cases of Bubly sparkling water. $41.24
8 p.m. — Back home and pouring myself a glass of wine. My friend gave me her Disney+ login info (bless up) but it's not working and I'm pretty sad I can't watch The Little Mermaid right now. I throw in some laundry while I try to boot up the site.
9:47 p.m. — OMG I finally got it to work!! I guess I just had to wait for all the kiddies to fall asleep.
10 p.m. — It crashed. /:
10:15 p.m. — It's back up!!!
10:28 p.m. — The site crashed. Again. I'm so sad.
10:45 p.m. — It's working!!!!
11:01 p.m. — It crashed. Fack.
11:40 p.m. — I finally finish the movie. What a rollercoaster that was, but it was so worth it. I wash my face and change into pajamas. I crawl into bed and pass out.
Daily Total: $41.42

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I hit snooze a million times and finally get up. I body shower and splash cold water on my face. The usual rose toner plus sunblock then my powders and mascara/dipbrow. I pack my lunch of green grapes, Honeycrisp apple, and tomato soup w/ white rice. I throw on flared jeans, black heeled boots and a nude button down collared blouse. I put my hair in a pony and straighten the tail cause it's looking wild.
8:30 a.m. — Walking to work. It's still cold out and I probably should have packed a jacket but too late now. I am feeling seriously sick. This sucks. I have so many patient appointments coming up and I can't reschedule since they need to be done before the Thanksgiving break.
11:48 a.m. — Lunch at my desk. It's been a busy morning.
3 p.m. — Leaving work early cause I'm seriously struggling right now. I'll probably have to do some stuff from home for my patient appointment tomorrow. Once home, I make a peanut butter and jelly sammie. My monthly clothing subscription arrives in the mail. I try on a dress, a blouse, and a blazer but none of them are working for me. I put them in the prepaid shipping bag and plan on mailing it out tomorrow.
4 p.m. — Since it is BOGO Starbucks today, I drive to the closest one to get a grande skinny vanilla latte. I seriously don't need it but I can't resist a good coffee fix. I bring it home and work on some documents for work while watching Frozen. Disney+ is finally working seamlessly and I am thrilled. My cat likes watching all the snowflakes fly around in the movie and it's adorable.
6:46 p.m. — I finish up the documents and Frozen. There's plenty more to do, but I'll work on it tomorrow. I should be studying, but I feel so lousy right now. More Disney movies it is!!
7:57 p.m. — Dinner is more tomato soup and white rice. It tastes off, probably because I am sick.
9 p.m. — I shower, wash my face, and take a hearty swig of NyQuil. I am out for the count today. Tomorrow is my first day in my new salaried position!!
Daily Total: $0
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