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A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $95,500 Salary

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Today: a sales engineer who makes $95,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on Carly Rae Jepsen tickets.
Editor's Note: This Money Diary was written in June 2022.
Occupation: Sales Engineer
Industry: IT/Cloud Computing
Age: 23
Location: Dallas, TX
Salary: $95,500
Net Worth: $74,000 ($12,000 in my savings account/emergency fund, $40,000 in my 401(k), $18,000 in my Roth IRA, $4,000 in my checking accounts)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,144
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,215 for my half of a two-bed/two-bath, rented with a roommate
Loans: $0, I had a scholarship for college and my car is paid off
Electric: $45-$70 for my half
Internet: $35 for my half
Cell Phone: my parents pay
Health Insurance: $3.20
Dental Insurance: $8.60
HSA: $200 (my company adds $1,000 a year)
Accident Insurance: $8.14
Life Insurance: $16.62
Donations: $100, split between the Equal Justice Initiative, a local women's shelter, and the National Network of Abortion Funds
Netflix: my parents pay
Spotify: my brother pays for a family plan
Peacock: $5
Savings: $500
HBO/Disney: my roommate pays

Annual Expenses:
Car Insurance: $625
Renter's Insurance: $60, split with my roommate
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes, I think my parents always considered college to be the only option and a huge part of the reason why they immigrated to the US (when I was about two years old). I received a full scholarship to an in-state school because I met the minimum GPA requirement when graduating from high school. I struggled a bit freshman year, so I was bumped down from the 100% paid tuition tier to the 80% of tuition paid. I was far too terrified to tell my parents, so I got a part-time job and worked to pay the difference. My parents paid for my housing costs and were happy to pay for food/gas/incidentals as well, but I tried my best to cover this with my part-time job wages as well. I graduated debt-free.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were very clear to me about not spending more than I had and using credit cards wisely. As I got older, my dad began talking to me more about investing. I consider them both to be pretty responsible and frugal with money, but also willing to pay more for important things. They also added me as an authorized user to their credit card which has helped so much with my own credit score, and I'm very grateful. I think they have always done a great job of encouraging me to save as much as I can but not pinch pennies when it comes to living happily and spending money on things and people that matter.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job at a bookstore during my freshman year of college, when I started to feel guilty about swiping my parents' credit card too often. I enjoyed most of it, other than the late closing shifts on weekdays, which made me switch to an assistant job my sophomore year.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did, pretty frequently. When I was a child, I think we did struggle a bit more as my parents had to work their way up after immigrating to the US, but I think we were much more comfortable by the time I was in middle school. Even knowing that, I felt pretty anxious about money, and about asking my parents to spend anything more than what was necessary.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry a little bit. I think I have a healthy emergency fund and I think I would be able to bounce back if I lost my job, but my biggest worry is always making sure that I'd be able to provide for my parents after they retire. I know that this is not at all something they are expecting me to do, but I want to make sure they are happy and well taken care of and it's from that lens that I consider my financial planning.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Other than my cell phone bill, I became financially responsible at 21 after starting my first job. I know I have a safety net with my parents and my brother if I need it, but I hope to become the safety net for them instead.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

9 a.m. — I wake up around 9 on Sunday to texts from my family group chat waiting for me to be up before they do a group call. I'm only an hour behind them but they know I'm a late sleeper. I talk to my parents and my brother for about 40 minutes before hanging up to clean up from the party we had last night. I threw my friend's dog a birthday party as an excuse to use up our apartment's stock of alcohol before we move next month and an excuse to decorate and host. I love a themed party.
10:30 a.m. — After I clean up most of the decorations and do the dishes, I talk to my boyfriend for a bit over FaceTime. He's in Asia for the next two months and we're running at a 14-hour time difference, so it's a goodnight call for him. After we hang up, J., my friend with the dog, comes over to help tidy up. I've already done most of it, just leaving the balloons for her to pop because I hate doing that. My roommate and I are fostering two kittens at the moment and this drives them under the couch to hide, which I feel bad about. After we finish, I make us some scrambled eggs and bacon. We watch the show Minx on HBO as we eat — we started it recently, and I'm not sure how I feel just yet, but I love Jake Johnson. My roommate, B., comes home from the gym as we're cooking and makes herself some leftovers.
1:30 p.m. — J., B., and I plan to head to the Dallas Pride Parade, so we split up to each shower and get ready. Unfortunately, my shower handle (which honestly has been on its last leg for a while) decides it's a good time to stop working entirely. I've been putting off asking maintenance to come look at it because we have never actually informed the leasing office that we have cats, but this means it's probably time. I set a big measuring cup underneath the faucet to catch the drips and use my roommate's shower before we leave the apartment at 1:30 to catch the DART, the public transport in Dallas. It costs $3 for an all day pass. $3
3:45 p.m. — It's so nice to ride the DART with a crowd of other people similarly decked out in rainbows and excited for Pride today! We reach the park that the parade runs through and I buy a watermelon lemonade from one of the vendors. We spend a few hours watching the parade, cheering, and catching all the things people throw into the crowd. We head out around 3:45 to catch the DART back home, using the pass we've already bought. $6
5:30 p.m. — A potential adopter is coming to see one of our foster kittens. While I'm waiting for them, I call my brother to see if there's anything I can do about my leaky shower before maintenance comes. He says no, short of prying the faucet handle off the shower wall, which I'm not too excited about. The adopting family arrives, and they love him — fingers crossed that the adoption goes through! After they leave, B. and I meet up with J. and go grocery shopping.
7:30 p.m. — The three of us head to Trader Joe's. B. and I split groceries in half and share all of our food. She does most of the cooking and I do most of the cleaning. It works really well for us because I genuinely enjoy cleaning and she's a much better cook. At Trader Joe's, we buy fruit, bell peppers, frozen meatballs and tamales, potatoes, frozen vegetables, granola, shrimp, yogurt, honey, avocados, almond butter, lentils, chicken breast, hearts of palm pasta, ground beef, ground turkey, feta and goat cheese, hummus, and some new mango black tea that I wanted to try. She pays and we put everything into Splitwise, so my half is $88.12. After Trader Joe's, we run by Central Market to grab some of their (amazing) tortillas. While there, we're also enticed by the sushi from their prepared food section for dinner, and we pick up some challah and pita bread. I pay, but we'll split the bread so it comes out to $18 for my half. $106.12
10 p.m. — We drop off J., head home, and put all the groceries away before giving the kittens some wet food. We eat our sushi (delicious) and spend the rest of the evening on the couch. I make some edits to my boyfriend's application essays and she calls her mom and grandmother, then we finish the show we'd been watching, Twenty Somethings, on Netflix. We head to bed around 9:30 and I read some of my book (There's No Such Thing As An Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura) before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $115.12

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up feeling very groggy — I had wanted to work out this morning but that is not happening. Instead, I wait for B. to leave and use her shower, using the drips from mine to water my plants. I put in a work order yesterday so fingers crossed that maintenance comes today while we're at work and the kittens are cute enough to distract them from our failure to pay pet rent. I get dressed, scoop the litter box, and put on sunscreen (I like the A'pieu one, it smells like oranges) before leaving for work just before 8. I got my hair cut and blown out on Saturday and I'm trying to make it last as long as possible.
9:30 a.m. — I usually like to be at work by 8:20 to have plenty of time to get settled in before 9, but I park at the office at 8:40 today. I am very grateful that we're provided breakfast and lunch. I grab a bagel and fruit, fill up my water bottle, and get a cup of coffee before sitting down to work for the morning. Of course, the one day I come in later than usual, my manager is in the office as well and sees me strolling to my desk at 9:30. Ouch. I don't think he cares too much but it's the kind of thing that stresses me out for sure. We're still building back up to having people in the office, so I'm never sure which days I'll see him.
12:30 p.m. — I have a few meetings this morning and mostly work on reading documentation. I'm relatively new in my role so don't have too much client-facing work just yet. I head to lunch at 12:30 and have a salad, some veggies, and two small pieces of steak with chimichurri sauce. I'm not a big meat eater but I do think the protein helps to keep me full longer. I also take a cookie. I fill up my water bottle and head back to my desk.
4:15 p.m. — I have a few more meetings and get through most of my to-do list. I also got an email that the work order for my shower was completed! Hope the kittens aren't in trouble when we get home. I'm heading out a bit early today to attend a volunteer orientation for the local women's shelter. I grab a Babybel cheese from the snack fridge before I leave. I call my mom on the way to the orientation. I get to the shelter about 30 minutes early, so I decide to put gas in my car. Gas prices have been higher lately so it costs me $30 to fill half my tank. $30
6:30 p.m. — I get home. My shower is thankfully fixed and the kittens are free, so I eat a bag of leftover Pride Doritos and talk to my roommate for a bit before she heads out to meet the guy she's been kind of seeing for the past few months. After she leaves, I have a Trader Joe's frozen chile chicken tamale and some roasted broccoli for dinner, do my laundry, and start the new season of Stranger Things. Way too spooky to watch alone; I'm glad that I have my kitten to protect me. I head to bed around 11 after folding and hanging all my clean clothes.
Daily Total: $30

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up and shower, get dressed, put on sunscreen, and scoop the litter box. I also pack my yoga mat, a towel, bike shorts, and a sports bra since I booked a yoga class for after work. I grab a banana and a clementine to eat during the morning. It takes me about half an hour to get to work and I eat breakfast, scrambled eggs, fruit, one piece of bacon, and a hash brown. While I'm eating, I scope out eBay for some black oxfords — I don't have any black shoes for work. I put in an offer for some nice suede Alice + Olivia ones and bid on some cheaper Madewell options too. Clothes and shoes are easily my largest spending category outside of bills so I try to remind myself to shop secondhand as much as I can, but sometimes it's hard to resist those new clothes. I get my coffee and fill my water bottle before sitting down at my desk at 9.
12 p.m. — I have a bunch of meetings back to back this afternoon so I eat lunch earlier than usual. I make a burrito bowl with rice, beans, corn, chicken, avocado, broccoli, queso fresco, and salsa verde. I take a cookie back to my desk. In the afternoon, I have a call for a mentorship program I'm trying to help set up: I'm one of the youngest people in our organization and it gives me immense amounts of anxiety, but helping with things like this makes me feel like I'm channeling my nervous energy into something useful. I also have a quick call with a utility concierge company that is setting up the internet for our new apartment (we're moving next month); he tells me I have the best rate for electricity and that I should transfer it to our new place, but we'll switch to AT&T for internet and hopefully save around $20 a month. I also pay for my background check to volunteer at the shelter. $18
4:45 p.m. — I head out around 4:45 to make it to my yoga class. I bought a 10-class pack at the beginning of the year because my old job let us expense fitness costs, so it's free today. Usually, the classes are between $20-$25 depending on how many you buy at once. As I'm changing, I see that the eBay seller accepted my offer! $35 plus tax and free shipping for some cute black suede loafers that were running around $100 on Poshmark — I count that as a win. $37.89
6:30 p.m. — I head home after yoga and shower immediately because I am disgustingly sweaty, but it was a good class! My roommate made me dinner — a chickpea/lentil and rice dish that's very good. We start a new show, Upload on Amazon Prime, and watch a few episodes. We head to bed around 9:30 and I finish my book before falling asleep by 11.
Daily Total: $55.89

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I slept in a bit today because I'm not going to the office, so I wake up around 8:15 before getting out of bed at 8:30. I brush my teeth, put my contacts in, and get dressed in workout clothes. I get distracted working and talking to my boyfriend over video call, so I don't eat breakfast (scrambled egg mini tacos with the Central Market tortillas) until almost 11.
2 p.m. — I spend the rest of the morning working, taking one meeting, and buying Carly Rae Jepsen tickets as soon as they go on sale. They are $60 each with fees, but I assume whoever I convince to go with me will end up paying some of this eventually. For now, I count the whole purchase as mine. I am a huge fan of hers and take it as a personal affront when people call her the “'Call Me Maybe' girl”! I make it to the gym around 2 and watch the next Stranger Things episode while I do a quick leg-and-core circuit and an incline walk. $120
5:30 p.m. — When I get back to the apartment, I scoop the litter box, clean the kitchen, and work some more before my roommate gets back around 5:30 from the office. She's going on a walk with J. and although I'm feeling lazy, I decide I should go with them. This is an unexpected plus as we walk by a gelato store I've been wanting to try and it's finally open! I get cookie butter, Oreo, and caramel pecan, and pay for J.'s gelato as well. I also leave a 20% tip because I cannot refuse a tip when I am asked. $13
6:30 p.m. — We come back from our walk and just before I get in the shower, a friend from book club reminds us that we're meeting in ten minutes, so I take an extra fast shower. Today we are discussing a book of short stories and there is some good conversation. After book club, I blow dry my hair, eat dinner (same as yesterday), and watch a little TV with my roommate before heading to bed. Before I fall asleep, I watch one more Stranger Things episode. I'm asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $133

Day Five

6:15 a.m. — Up early today because I'm taking the kittens to be spayed/neutered before work. I have to drop them off between 7 and 8 and pick them up between 4 and 5, which works pretty well with my work schedule, and luckily the rescue vet is not far from the office. It's a bit of a hike from our apartment, but this vet charges the rescue that we work with the lowest price so I don't mind driving a bit further. They're also the sweetest! B. helps me get them both in the carrier and we head out around 6:45. I drop the kittens off, sign the paperwork (but costs are covered by our rescue), and make it to work by about 7:45. Since the office doesn't open until 8, I take this as a free pass to watch some more Stranger Things in my car. I'm officially hooked. I go in and eat breakfast around 8:10. Today it's mostly fruit plus one hash brown and a mini cinnamon roll.
12:30 p.m. — I have a meeting with my manager to discuss my expectations for the rest of the year and it goes pretty well! Lunch today is Indian food. I spend the afternoon continuing to study for an upcoming certification test, attending a few more meetings, and working on a proof of concept. I also get a call from my pharmacy — I decided to swap from the pill to a hormonal IUD, but luckily my copay for the IUD itself is $0.
4:15 p.m. — I head out around 4:15 to pick up the kittens. I talk to my mom and brother on the phone on the way there. The cats are a little groggy but fine, and it takes us about 45 minutes to get home from the vet. I'm tempted to take the toll way, but it would be $5 and really only save me about 15 minutes, so I decide it's not worth it. When we get back, I let the kittens out, change, and go to the apartment gym to do some cardio and core.
7:15 p.m. — I come back after the gym and chat with my roommate before showering. It's a pretty quiet night for us tonight; I watch the last Stranger Things episode, and then we just watch some Upload and eat dinner before going to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — I decide to stay home from the office today because the building is always empty on Fridays, so that means I get to sleep in quite a bit more. I wake up around 8:15 and brush my teeth, put in my contacts, change into exercise clothes, and make breakfast (scrambled egg tacos) and coffee before sitting down for work. I only have one meeting today, plus a catch-up with an old coworker.
5:15 p.m. — It's a pretty slow day for me, as Fridays usually are. I try to study some more for my upcoming certification test after I finish up my meetings, and I head to the gym around 2. Working from home always makes me eat super late, so between that and the gym, I eat lunch/dinner around 5. I have a rice, chicken, and mushroom dish my roommate cooked for me plus some broccoli. I start reading my new library book, The Aosawa Murders.
9:15 p.m. — J. asks us if we want to go out around 9:30. It's raining and I'm sleepy, but we rally. I change into a yellow pleather skort I bought on sale a few weeks ago at Abercrombie and a black bodysuit, plus black boots which are conveniently waterproof. J. comes over and we each have a White Claw before we Uber to a bar. Honestly, unless it's prohibitively expensive, we don't usually Venmo request each other for Ubers, assuming it all evens out, so I don't spend anything because J. gets it. We get to the bar, order a round (I get a frozen blueberry mojito), and meet up with our friend, F., who pays for my drink.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

1:30 a.m. — I only have one drink because I need to go to the eye doctor the next day, but one drink plus the White Claw is apparently enough to fill my bladder. While I'm waiting in line for the bathroom I also take the opportunity to call my boyfriend since it's Saturday morning for him. I have a weird habit of calling him from the bathroom of bars. We leave just before 2 a.m., and I have just enough energy to brush my teeth and wash my face before falling asleep.
11:30 a.m. — It would be really cool if I'd woken up with time to work out before the eye doctor, but I have not. Instead, I shower, get dressed in a floral romper, and eat a banana for breakfast since we're planning to get brunch later. I make some coffee and then call an Uber. $10.99
1 p.m. — I really like this doctor because they don't use the puff of air machine and give me an option to use some fancy camera instead of dilating my eyes. I kind of consider my HSA outside of my normal savings plans, so I'm okay with paying the $40 out of pocket to use the camera. My co-pay for the appointment is $0, but I'm also charged a $50 “contacts fitting fee” so my total for the appointment is $90. My contact lens prescription is the same, but the doctor suggests getting a slightly different glasses prescription to make up for a bit of astigmatism in my left eye. I take a copy of my prescription and will probably order the glasses online eventually. $90
1:30 p.m. — I walk to brunch, meet B. and F., and get a very delicious plate of breakfast tacos plus a mimosa. On the way, I stop at CVS and buy B. some Band-Aids because her new shoes are giving her blisters. Brunch is $35 with tip and the Band-Aids are $5. $40
4:30 p.m. — After brunch, we head to an outdoor patio bar nearby that has my very favorite frozen margarita/sangria combination (also the only one I've ever had). I order one. J. meets us there with the guy she's been seeing, and they order chips and a salsa/queso/guacamole trio. Somehow, I find space in my stomach for a few chips. B. texts a new friend of ours, R., and he invites us to come out with him later tonight. That's my sign to stop at one drink for right now — I'm already sleepy. We pay and head out around 5, carefully unsticking our very sweaty bodies from the chairs (it's 100+ degrees today). My drink plus tip is $15. I get our Uber home, which is $10.76 plus a $2 tip. $27.76
9:30 p.m. — After getting home, B. and I both shower and then lay down to watch Love Actually, one of my favorite movies. I understand and agree with the discourse around this not being the most wholesome of romantic comedies but I still love it. I do feel myself slipping into the nap I wish I could take, but I resist and we start getting ready around 9. I wear a white crop top and black floral skirt plus black sandals, and our other friend meets us at our apartment before we Uber with J. to R.'s apartment. Someone else pays.
11:30 p.m. — I hold one beer at R.'s so that no one asks why I'm not drinking, and meet some of his other friends before we head to a rooftop bar close to his place. I don't buy any drinks — I'm still pretty sleepy, and honestly, this bar creeps me out a tiny bit, so I don't love to drink here. I have enough energy to dance with my friends and avoid all the men on the roof for a few hours. At 1:30, R. and the other guys invite us back to their apartment, and we insist that we'll come next time and Uber home instead. Fingers crossed that excuse works again.
Daily Total: $168.75
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