A Week In Charleston, SC, On A $50,000 Salary

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Today: a Senior Account Executive who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Harry Potter box set.
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Occupation: Senior Account Executive
Industry: Communications
Age: 23
Location: Charleston, SC
Salary: $50,000
Net Worth: About $30,000 across high yield savings, index funds, single stocks, my retirement accounts, and my car
Debt: $0 (I had a merit scholarship for college, I bought my car in cash, and I pay my credit cards in full every month.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,414.74 (post-tax and after health insurance of $120/paycheck)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $974 (Room in a three-bed, three-bath duplex with the most amazing high ceilings and a beautiful kitchen)
Car Insurance: $105
Utilities: $75-$100
Internet: $33.88
CBS All Access: $6 (Trade this with family members for Sling, Netflix, and Hulu)
Cell Phone: $10
Spotify: $8
Canva: $12.95
ClassPass: $29
Ally Savings: $250
Betterment: $100
Roth IRA: $100 (my company 401(k) hasn't kicked in yet)
Annual Expenses:
Costco: $60
Renter's Insurance: $180
Credit Card: $150

Day One

8:15 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. I'm still trying to adjust to both my new life (recently changed jobs and states, more below) and this work-from-home pandemic life. Last night was the first night I went to bed before midnight in ages. Baby steps. I scroll through social, put on clothes from my “comfy but not just leggings” category, and hop back into bed to go online.
10:30 a.m. — I spend the morning refreshing my project management pages and slacking a few people to get tasks for the day while having YouTube playing in the background. I have a Zoom call with my immediate team at 10:30.
12 p.m. — Bagel time! I made bagel dough last night and left it to ferment in the fridge overnight. It's been proving for a little over an hour now so I get a pot ready. I shape and boil the bagels and then pop them in the oven. They come out of the oven and my roommate, O., and I immediately go in for a taste test. It's a success and O. proclaims that rosemary olive oil bagels should be available everywhere. I post a photo on our company's new cooking Slack channel to show them off.

12:30 p.m. — I toast a bagel and have it with some Kerrygold butter and an Izze. I watch an episode of Sue Thomas: FB”Eye” while I eat. Let me pause a moment and say this show is everything I never knew I needed. It's available on Hallmark Now (I have a free trial right now) and is a show from 2002 about a woman who is deaf joining the FBI. I've been attempting to learn ASL so I find this show super interesting, and who doesn't love a good procedural. Highly recommend.

1:15 p.m. — I buckle down and move out to the living room where my roommate is also working. I spend the afternoon drafting social copy, getting approval from clients, assigning ads, and doing research. I ask people a lot of questions via Slack and then worry that I'm bugging everyone. In March, I relocated from Washington, DC to Charleston. It was a spur of the moment decision — like everyone I know was shocked I would even consider leaving DC — but it seemed like an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Thus far, I have really enjoyed the job and the city. I will say, it is extremely stressful to move to a place where you know no one and to start a new job remotely in the middle of a global health crisis. Thankfully, my roommates have been great but they are also the only people I have been able to meet in the city because, you know, social distancing. I'm an extreme extrovert, and I can't wait to meet new people and explore more once everything is re-opened.

6:30 p.m. — I get a lot of last-minute social requests this afternoon so I am just now wrapping up work. I was going to go to Trader Joe's but sadly they close at 7 so I decide to go to Publix instead. I grab the mask that my mom sent me last week and drive over there. The store has made aisles one-way only which is great for social distancing but also makes shopping more confusing. From my list, I get two boxes of Chex, Cheerios, pretzels, two packages of Oreos, two bags of bagel chips, fresh salsa, jarred salsa, tortilla chips, chocolate chips, flour, butter, and cream cheese. I impulse buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch because it's BOGO, Pringles, and a delicious pint of Churro Dough ice cream. $60.99

7:15 p.m. — When I get back home, I wash my hands and unload my groceries. I pop the jar of salsa verde into my Instant Pot with some chicken breasts and get rice going on the stove. I clean my dishes from making the bagels this morning and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies this weekend. I love baking and cooking but cleaning dishes is one of my least favorite chores.

8 p.m. — My burrito bowl, made with chicken, rice, black beans, onions, peppers, and salsa, is ready to eat! I sit down with my other roommate, C., and we watch last night's episode of Below Deck Sailing Yacht. Next week's episode looks like it will be drama! We then watch the last two episodes of season four of Southern Charm. I snack on Pringles and my new ice cream while we watch. Under the influence of a few glasses of wine a couple of weeks back, we decided that we just had to watch the series so that I could see what non-pandemic Charleston looked like. Shaky justification but we are obsessed now and have finished an embarrassing amount of episodes in a very short time.

11:30 p.m. — So much for going to bed at a reasonable hour. I get ready for bed, read a chapter from The Defining Decade, turn on my white noise, and turn off my lights. I probably fall asleep around 12:30.

Daily Total: $60.99
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Day Two

8:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, but no. I snooze until 8:45. I check my phone and see that one of my close friends texted our group that she had her baby last night! He is so tiny and precious and I can't wait for things to settle down so I can plan a trip back to meet him. I open my laptop and go online to check on my scheduled posts that I had across a few pages. I check my open tasks and look at the rest of the week and make my to-do list for the day.
9:30 a.m. — Okay, I should at least change out of my pajamas and brush my teeth. I decide on a mustard t-shirt and a new pair of wide-legged black pants from American Eagle. I throw my hair up in a scrunchie because I don't have any video calls today. I don't know if it's just me, but I feel like I look like an egg if I video chat with my hair in a ponytail. I also run to the kitchen and toast one of my bagels from yesterday, grab some berries, and fill up my water bottle. Back to work!
12:30 p.m. — Over my lunch hour, I go for a walk around my neighborhood. The weather is so nice, so I walk over to the shore and enjoy the view for a bit. While on my walk, I listen to a recent episode of the Bad On Paper podcast.
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4 p.m. — I spend the afternoon diving into more writing, research, and reaching out to clients for approvals. I put the new Hallmark movie, Just Add Romance on in the background. Gotta say, it's one of the better ones I've seen recently.

6 p.m. — I do a 10-minute HIIT workout. I know it's not much, but I guess it's something? I then call my mom and we chat for a few minutes. After, I make myself a burrito bowl with my leftovers from yesterday and join my roommates for the latest episode of Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart with a glass of wine. We keep up a hilarious running commentary. While we're watching, my friend texts me and tells me I have to read Beach Read so I place a pre-order for that. $10.30

8:30 p.m. — C. and I decide to watch the season four reunion episode of Southern Charm which immediately persuades us to watch (and buy) Relationshep before we move on to season five. We watch a couple of episodes with more wine. We're not quite sure how this show will turn out but desperate times call for desperate TV choices. $9.99

11:45 p.m. — Another late bedtime. I do my normal bedtime routine which consists of brushing my teeth, cleansing my face with micellar water, applying serum and moisturizer and then turning on my white noise, using a lavender face and pillow spray, updating my to-do list, writing in my One Line A Day, and reading a chapter or two of a nonfiction book.

Daily Total: $20.29
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Day Three

8 a.m. — I did not sleep well last night at all. I woke up multiple times and at a certain point changed my 8:15 alarm to 8:45. Alas, the neighbors doing construction had other plans so I wake up to an incessant banging around 8. I watch last night's episode of Single Parents and then do the bare minimum to get ready for the day. I have my last bagel for breakfast — might need to make these again soon! I get online for another day of the usual.
10 a.m. — My grandma recently passed, and I found out last week that all the grandkids are receiving a small unexpected inheritance from her. The money hit my account today so I spread it across my house downpayment savings account, my travel savings account, my Roth IRA, and keep a little bit in my checking account to treat myself to some takeout orders from a few Charleston restaurants I've been recommended. I then get sucked down a rabbit hole of looking at properties for sale in the area. I'm not looking to buy now but would like to own in the next couple years and that's much more feasible here than DC.
1 p.m. — I have a cookie sandwich and some strawberries for lunch because I am the epitome of #health. I come across a delicious-looking cinnamon roll scone as I'm scrolling through the NYT Cooking Instagram and see that the recipe is from a cookbook I've had my eye on so I go ahead and purchase it. Procrastibaking, for those curious. $19.06
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4 p.m. — There's not much work to do so I log off early, clean my bathroom, and take a shower. Today is the day I am officially starting the Curly Girl Method. I stopped using heat last month and have slowly been introducing some of the techniques and my hair has responded very well. I had curly hair as a kid, and I figure it's got to still be in there somewhere and anything is better than the part-straight, part-wavy, part-curly, all-frizzy mess I have now. Today, I do a clarifying shampoo from Suave and use the Shea Moisture Curl Conditioner. When I'm out, I use a Cantu leave-in conditioner mist and curl gel. I'll “scrunch the crunch” later.
5:15 p.m. — C. and I have plans to watch a biscuit making Instagram livestream at 5:30 with the founder of Callie's Hot Little Biscuit sponsored by Yelp Charleston. I pull out all the ingredients they listed in their post so we're ready to go. 26 minutes later and the biscuits are in the oven! While they're cooking, we both prepare our dinners.
6:45 p.m. — Cinnamon Buttermilk Biscuits are out of the oven and we start a new episode of Relationshep. While we're watching, I text with a few friends, as well as a guy I've been talking to on Hinge since March, and field some late-night client requests that are rolling in.
10 p.m. — It's trivia time! My parents and their friends normally do Friday night trivia at a brewery back home and their usual trivia host moved his operations online for socially distanced trivia three times per week. The company goes live on YouTube and teams answer in real-time via Google Forms. Our team discusses answers through an Insta DM group and one person submits everything. Tonight's theme is Trivia Prom so all the answers are related to love, dancing, and/or high school. It's fun but I log off about halfway through because it's already 11:30 my time.
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12 a.m. — Bedtime. I've really got to stop staying up this late. Normal routine. Read another chapter of The Defining Decade. Oh, and a curl update! I have some great curls at the front of my hair but still have to work on the sides and the ends. My dad commented that “something looked different and he liked it” when I video chatted him earlier which was a shock because he didn't even notice when I went blonde for a bit last year. I must be doing something right *shrug emoji*.
Daily Total: $19.06

Day Four

8 a.m. — I slept great last night and wake up at 8, before my alarm. It feels like a sweats and t-shirt kind of day. I scroll through my phone for a bit and see that I got a notice that a train I had booked in France was canceled which means I can get a full refund! My friends and I had booked a trip to Paris and the south of France for the end of May but that is obviously not happening anymore so I've been crossing my fingers, hoping that I'll be able to get full refunds for all of my reservations rather than travel credits.
8:45 a.m. — I catch up on Slack and get right to drafting a few Friday post requests that have come through. I send a post for approval to the wrong client, so that's how my Friday is going. Around 10, I take a quick break to heat up some biscuits from yesterday for breakfast. I switch between TLC, HGTV, and Bravo for some background noise — I don't handle silence well.
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12 p.m. — I have DashPass with my credit card so I decide to order Indian food for lunch. With a credit I have and tip, it comes to around $10 for onion bhaji, kadai chicken, and garlic naan. I should have at least a serving of leftovers. I watch the first episode of McMillions while I eat and read some of the recent Money Diaries. $9.50
3:30 p.m. — While I'm in a holding pattern waiting for some designs and client approvals, I start my bedding in the laundry and pick up my floor, vacuum, and mop. We have our weekly company Zoom happy hour at 4:30 and this week's theme is Apocalypse Costume Party. I'm scrambling to figure out what to wear and decide to go with a black unicorn horn headband and black lipstick. Apocalypse unicorn? I grab a Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer to drink.
5:15 p.m. — Happy hour is over. I wrap up a few work projects and then sit at my desk staring at the wall for about 10 minutes because I'm not sure what to do with my evening. I call my mom and we chat for a bit. The weather is nice so I decide to go out for a walk to the shore. I bring a seltzer along and switch between listening to music (Bastille, AJR, T-Swifty) and another episode of Bad On Paper.
6:30 p.m. — I chat with a friend/former coworker on the phone when I get home about my new job and how my old company is handling coronavirus. I try to patch in our other friend but somehow patch in someone from college who I haven't talked to in years? That was awkward. When I get off that call, I call one of my other friends from DC and we talk about life for a bit. Once I'm off with her, I attempt to start reading Yes, No, Maybe So. After a couple of chapters, I decide I'm not in the mood for a YA, so I switch over and read a few chapters of Meeting Your Half Orange. All the while, I'm blasting Pan!c on shuffle because neither of my roommates are home. Somewhere in there I have chips and salsa with a seltzer followed by Oreos for dinner. I also chat with my dad for a few minutes about my job, last night's trivia, and a Beatles livestream sing-a-long that's happening tomorrow.
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10 p.m. — So, I am a big Harry Potter fan. Like it's a defining fact about me. I even have a Harry Potter tattoo. But I have never re-read the series. I'm thinking that maybe Harry Potter might just be the cure to my reading slump, and I have been curious lately about reading the series as an adult. I only have books 1 and 7, though, so I decide to purchase a Special Edition Complete Box Set from Target. It will be here next week! $54
10:45 p.m. — I curse myself for not making my bed earlier when I took my things out of the dryer. I get my sheets on the bed, schedule a couple of Facebook posts for the weekend that just received the green light, light a candle (Pine is a year-round scent — fight me), do my normal bedtime routine, and settle in to read a bit of Sorcerer's Stone. Lights out around 11:30.
Daily Total: $63.50

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Why oh why are the neighbors doing construction this early? I try to fall back asleep but the nail gun (and the music the crew is blasting) is relentless. I lay in bed Googling noise ordinances in Charleston. Looks like the City Council banned construction noise before 9 on Saturdays but the new rule doesn't go into effect until June 10th. After lamenting my bad luck for a bit and scrolling social media, I get out of bed and move to the living room. I have some frozen waffles for breakfast and then I sit on the couch and start in on The Antidote for Everything.
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11:30 a.m. — I get about halfway through my book before my roommates make it out to the common area. We chat for a bit and put on Booksmart. I heat up some frozen Trader Joe's Penne Arrabiata for lunch.
2 p.m. — I'm feeling restless so decide to relocate to the park on the waterfront for a bit. On my walk over, I call AT&T to inquire about a charge I received from when I changed my number to a different carrier last month. Success, they waive it! I get to the park and lay out my picnic blanket. The closest people to me are about 25 yards away so it's a very socially distanced outing. I read the rest of my book and snack on some Smart Sweets Sours.
4:25 p.m. — I have miraculously not been bitten by any bugs! I don't want to chance my luck any longer so I pack up to walk home. On my walk back, I call my mom. When I get home, I take a quick shower to rinse off the bug spray and sunscreen.
5:30 p.m. — My friend from college and I have been working our way through a season of Married At First Sight and we only have three episodes left. We're both free for the evening so we connect on Kast and watch the episodes together. While we're watching, I heat up the last of my leftover burrito bowls to eat for dinner. We're proud of ourselves for calling which couples were going to stay together and which were going to divorce. We have the reunion left but save that for another time.
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9 p.m. — I've signed off my video call and that can only mean one thing, it's time for even more trashy TV! C. and I queue up the fifth season of Southern Charm (she pays for this season), and we end up watching four episodes. We're wondering what happened to Landon, no mention of her yet. So much drama! I've loved Cameron and Patricia since the first season. And Shep, Craig, and Austen all have their moments. We eat some ice cream while we're watching.
1 a.m. — I know, I know. Modified bedtime routine, white noise on, lights out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:25 a.m. — I am apparently incapable of sleeping in, even if I go to bed way after midnight. I spend the morning in bed, scrolling through social, reading some saved articles, and catching up on YouTube (a few of my favorites are Lucy Wood, Hannah Witton, and Michelle Reed).
11:30 a.m. — I finally get motivated to get out of bed and clean up my eyebrows. I normally get them threaded monthly, but with the pandemic and all, they've reached a dire state. After, I jump in the shower to wash my hair. My curls lasted well but my hair just feels gross from the curl gel. I need to do some research on other ways to apply it. Today, I skip the gel and just use the Cantu Leave-In Mist and argan oil. I dry my hair for 15 minutes in a microfiber towel and then let it air dry. I put on a white t-shirt and black flowy shorts. Sadly, I notice a tear in my shorts, so I search Target for a bit and order two pairs of high-waisted flowy shorts (black and cheetah print). $28
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1 p.m. — I'm super hungry at this point so I just heat up my leftovers. I eat that while I watch the next few episodes of McMillions. Later in the afternoon, I call my great aunt and chat for a few minutes. After we get off the phone, I order her a bottle of whiskey because she mentioned she was running low and wanted to try “that Irish whiskey” at some point. I head out to my balcony to get some fresh air and call my mom for a bit. $41.70
3 p.m. — I take a break from McMillions to make some brown sugar muffins because I noticed my milk is about to expire. They turn out well, and now my roommates and I have breakfast for the week. I finish up the rest of McMillions after. It was a very, very slow docuseries, and I honestly didn't feel like it was as “wild” as everyone said it was. Maybe the facts I now know will come in handy for trivia one day?
7 p.m. — I make pepperoni pizza for dinner with a frozen crust from Trader Joe's and have that with some peppers and berries. I also open a bottle of Sangiovese for the evening. C. and I dive back into some Southern Charm. We only have a little over a season left, and with over a month left in the stay at home order, we'll need to find a new show or two ASAP.
11 p.m. — We force ourselves to turn off the TV. Normal bedtime routine, including updating my to-do list for the week and reading a few more chapters of Sorcerer's Stone.
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Daily Total: $69.70

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I'm up. I add some anti-frizz cream to my hair and put on a super comfortable jumpsuit. I grab a muffin for breakfast and fill up my water.
9:30 a.m. — We have our weekly company meeting via Zoom. I get a shoutout during the meeting, so I guess I must be doing something right!
5 p.m. — Today flew by. Lots of drafting social copy and emails and interfacing with clients. At some point, I had a sausage for lunch and snacked on some bagel chips and skittles in the afternoon.
6 p.m. — I need to get out of the house so I go on a walk to pick up dinner from a local BBQ place. I order a BBQ pork platter with fries and cornbread. While walking, I chat with my mom on the phone and stop at a Little Free Library where I pick up a book about John Edwards' presidential run. $18.76
7:10 p.m. — I eat my dinner while catching up with my roommates. After, O. heads to work out and C. and I turn on some more Southern Charm. We only watch two episodes tonight so we're calling that a win!
10:30 p.m. — Do the usual to get ready for bed. White noise on, read some Harry Potter, and then lights out around 11:30!
Daily Total: $18.76
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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