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A Week In Salt Lake City, UT, On A $45,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Fenty Beauty.
Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a social media manager who makes $45,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on the Fenty Skin Blemish Defeat’r.
Occupation: Social media manager/retail associate
Industry: Higher education/retail
Age: 22
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Salary: $45,000
Net Worth: -$22,833 ($2,300 in checking account; $1,200 in savings account; $6,700 in a HYSA; $2,000 in Roth IRA; $600 in 403(b); my car is worth ~$18,800 minus debt).
Debt: $54,433 ($17,477 for my car that I bought this summer, $36,956 in student loans).
Paycheck Amount (2x/month, 1x/week): ~$1,310 for my social media job, ~$92 for my retail job.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $775 (for my share; I live with one roommate and this cost includes water, sewer, and trash).
Car Payment: $353.82
Private Student Loans: $242
Federal Student Loans: $196
Electricity: ~$20 (differs by season; split evenly with my roommate).
Gas: ~$20 (differs by season; split evenly with my roommate).
Wi-Fi: $12.50 (split evenly with my roommate).
Auto Insurance: $144.75
Renter’s Insurance: $12.54
Streaming Services: $0 (my mom pays for us).
Apple Music: $0 (my mom pays for a family plan).
Seed Probiotic: $51.49
Health Insurance: $33.02 (pre tax).
Savings: $200-$400
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?
I wouldn’t say there was an expectation from any authority figure in my life, but I expected it of myself. I was very studious as a child, so for me, it just made sense as my next step. Also, I know my parents and grandparents are proud of me for doing so. I just graduated this past May from a private university. I received a lot of scholarships and grants and paid for the rest of my first three years of school with loans. My senior year, I paid the remaining balance after my grants and scholarships using my savings. I am responsible for paying my student loan debt by myself.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I wasn’t aware of my parents’ finances until about 2012. Before then, I had a comfortable childhood. Following that year, my dad had financial troubles, my parents divorced, and my mom had no job as she was a stay-at-home mom. I was very aware of money then, but my parents never disclosed details to me. We had a roof over our heads, but my parents couldn’t buy me new clothes or give me spending money, and sometimes we’d struggle with things such as heating our house in the winter. My dad tried educating me when I was about 12, but I didn’t care to listen. I have taught myself a lot about money since living on my own.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Babysitting when I was 12. I babysat the same family for five summers, and it was mainly to pay for clothes, experiences, and gas. I didn’t start saving until 12th grade, working six days a week to save up for survival money during college.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really when I was a young child, but very much as a teenager.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, I think too much. I am very mindful about spending and saving and my current and future expenses, and I don’t have the wiggle room to save as much as I want. I am trying to better my relationship with money at this point in my life and am trying not to feel guilty every time I spend.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say I am 90% financially responsible for myself. My family lives in a different state, so the physical disconnection makes it so that they can’t really do things for me like provide me with a place to live or buy me food. My parents are doing better financially now, and when I go home, they pay for all of my food. My mom currently pays my phone bill and iCloud storage. My mom also pays for our family’s streaming services accounts and Apple Music. She also occasionally sends me small amounts of money for an Uber or dinner to treat myself. My dad pays for my monthly chiropractic membership.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received a lot of money for high school graduation from family and friends (I can’t remember how much) and $1,000 from my grandfather for graduating college that I used on the down payment for my car.

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and jump out of bed. It’s finally getting cold outside, so I throw on a hoodie and go to the bathroom to do my skincare. Because I have acne-prone skin, I do simple skincare. In the morning, I wash my face with water, use Vanicream moisturizer (I have the driest skin on Earth), COSRX sunscreen, and Drunk Elephant eye cream.
7:20 a.m. — I head out the door for my daily morning walk. It’s chilly and raining and it makes me so happy. I do a 20-minute walk through my neighborhood.
7:45 a.m. — I arrive back home and make breakfast. I’m pretty much all out of groceries and I have been too busy to get some, so this is a sad breakfast: bacon, frozen Trader Joe’s hash browns, and a banana. I get dressed and ready for work, feed my cat, pack some food, and am out the door by 8:45 a.m.
9 a.m. — I arrive at work, put my food in the fridge, make coffee, and sit at my desk. I start my mornings by answering emails and doing other administrative tasks. I also try to fit in a 10-minute journaling session before I go into deep work, just to set the tone for my day.
11 a.m. — Next week, our campus is hosting a wellness day for faculty and staff. I snag a 15-minute massage spot. Even though it’s only 15 minutes, it’s free and I’m excited! I also snack on some apples at this time.
12:30 p.m. — For lunch, I eat microwavable butternut squash mac and cheese from Trader Joe’s, which is so good, and read my current book.
1:30 p.m. — Back to work. My two weekly Monday meetings were canceled this morning because my boss is out of town, so I got a lot more done this morning than usual and have a nice, slow afternoon to do focused work.
3:30 p.m. — I get hungry, so I have a snack: homemade salsa that my colleague made for me, paired with pumpkin tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s.
4:15 p.m. — I leave work early to go run some errands for a panel that my department is hosting on Thursday. First, I stop at the thrift store and drop off a box of donations. Next, I stop at the grocery store, where I buy some chocolates for panelists ($18.09, expensed) and a carton of eggs for myself. $3.90
5:30 p.m. — After I get home and do some quick chores, I do a 15-minute Pilates workout on the Peloton app. I have a free trial right now and plan on canceling before it charges me.
6 p.m. — I make dinner: salmon, rice, edamame, and mushrooms. I make sure to have leftovers to take to work tomorrow.
7:15 p.m. — Book club time. I host a book club each month at my house and my roommate finally read the book this month, so she gets to join. I’m super excited. I made a caramel apple crisp bar over the weekend to serve tonight.
10:30 p.m. — My boyfriend, N., also joined the book club this month. He stays after, we clean up, and go to bed around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $3.90

Day Two

6:25 a.m. — N. works an hour earlier than me, so I wake up early when he is here. We get up, he leaves, and I do my skincare, brush my teeth, feed my cat, and get ready.
8:20 a.m. — It’s my colleague’s birthday today, so I leave my house a little early today to stop at her favorite bakery. I get her a scone, and I get myself an egg and bacon breakfast croissant. $12.36
10 a.m. — Weekly meeting with my colleague. I give her the birthday scone and a gift card to a local coffee shop that I bought her last week.
12 p.m. — On-campus book group time. We’re reading a self-help book and doing the prompts together once a month. I always leave feeling inspired and more clear minded, something I struggle with as someone with bad anxiety. Afterward, I eat my leftovers from last night and read my book. I also place an Amazon order for some eyebrow scissors with a comb and razor. $5.35
1:30 p.m. — Back to work. I have an event meeting and then work on some social media content for the rest of the afternoon.
4 p.m. — I take a break and do some prepping for two trips I’m going on in the next few weeks. I buy a carry-on backpack and packing cubes from Amazon. Kind of unnecessary, but I’ve been wanting them for a while and I travel often enough. $46.10
5 p.m. — Home from work. I spend my evening cooking (pasta), cleaning the downstairs, and doing a 45-minute strength Peloton workout. While cleaning, I realize I need more cat litter and order some on Amazon. I’m ordering a lot on Amazon right now because my credit card is giving me 5% cashback when I shop there. $10.18
8 p.m. — I finish my workout and shower, then hang out in bed for the rest of the night watching YouTube and reading my book. I’m asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $73.99

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Wake up. It’s really cold outside so I throw myself out of bed and do my morning routine. While doing my morning TikTok scroll, I see a girl mention the Fenty Skin Blemish Defeat’r. I’ve been looking for a product like that my whole life! I remember I have a Fenty Beauty gift card and order it immediately. $1.20
7:15 a.m. — Morning walk and get ready for work. For breakfast, I eat potatoes, bacon, and an egg.
9 a.m. — I arrive at the office and settle in for the day. I get started on work almost immediately. I have a busy day, preparing for the panel tomorrow. I finalize some things, make some signage, do last-minute planning, and put together gift bags for the panelists.
12:30 p.m. — I take a break for lunch. I heat up my leftovers from last night and eat them while reading my book. After I finish eating, I walk to the post office to ship some items I sold online. It’s a beautiful fall day, so I spend the rest of my lunch break reading on my phone outside.
3:15 p.m. — I take a break for a quick walk around campus. I can’t stop smiling because it is so nice outside.
5:20 p.m. — Home from work. I spend the afternoon hanging out with my roommate and trimming my bangs. When my bangs get too long, it makes my anxiety worse, so I do this pretty often. I also start a load of laundry and realize I need more detergent, so I order that on Amazon. I don’t usually run out of everything all in the same week, but alas. $13.91
6:30 p.m. — I do a 30-minute 2010s pop yoga flow on the Peloton app, then shower and get ready for bed. Afterward, I pop a frozen Trader Joe’s Margherita pizza in the oven and enjoy it while talking to my roommate.
8:30 p.m. — I lay in bed for the rest of the night watching YouTube, TikTok, and reading my book — my usual routine. I’m asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $15.11

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Today is the panel that I have been planning for months. I have a longggg day ahead of me, so I get up and do my morning routine including skincare, morning walk, getting dressed, and eating breakfast (eggs, toast, hash browns). I put on more makeup than usual and feel really good about myself.
9 a.m. — I arrive at work, journal, and get started with tasks immediately. This morning, I spend some time researching social media reports and creating content for the social media pages. I just ran my first paid social ad campaign and would like to create a report to see what went well and what did not go as well, so we can adjust spending in the future.
12:30 p.m. — I break for lunch and eat some pasta leftovers while reading my new book (I finished the previous one last night). After I eat, I walk to CVS to look for shower and body wipes for my cabin trip next weekend, but I don’t find any. I buy a bag of Cheez-Its instead. I have a $1 off coupon to use. I don’t want to order these wipes on Amazon because they only come in huge packs for $20, so I decide I’m going to look at Walmart before I resort to doing that. I spend the rest of my lunch break outside again because it’s beautiful. $1.64
1:30 p.m. — Back to work. The rest of my afternoon will be spent preparing for the panel conversation and reception. First, the team and I meet to go over to the recital hall and auditorium to check it out and do an early setup.
4:30 p.m. — The panel starts. It goes very smoothly, the panelists are awesome, and the audience seems very engaged.
5:45 p.m. — We do some networking after the event. For catering, I ordered a few hors d’oeuvres and desserts, but the cheese platter is getting so many compliments. I eat lots of cheese because the compliments are well deserved: it’s so good!
7:30 p.m. — I finally leave my office and stop at Panda Express on the way home to pick up dinner for N. and me. I get orange chicken and chow mein and he gets orange chicken, beef and broccoli, and fried rice. $18.81
10 p.m. — I hang out with N. for the rest of the night. We eat, I take a shower, we watch football, and end the evening reading. We fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $20.45

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I wake up with N., brush my teeth, do my skincare, go on a walk in the dark, get ready, and make breakfast and a latte. I thrifted a Nespresso machine for $5 earlier this year and it is my best thrift find to this date.
9 a.m. — At the office, settling in for the day. I clean up the stuff I just threw in here last night, post panel, and open a gift that our intern got for me: Halloween treats and a candle. So cute.
11:30 a.m. — I spend the morning doing my end-of-week tasks and planning my next week. I eat an apple with peanut butter as a snack.
12:30 p.m. — I take a break to run to the chiropractor quickly. I go every Friday just for weekly check-ups. My dad pays for my monthly membership, so I want to make sure I use it because I really appreciate it. I always feel like I can breathe again after an adjustment.
1 p.m. — Back to work. I’m not taking a long break today because I’ll be leaving early to make up for the time I stayed last night. I do some small tasks and have a meeting with a colleague about managing our student employees.
2:30 p.m. — Back at home. I open some packages, clean up a little bit, then jump straight into a 30-minute strength Peloton workout. After I work out, I clean my room and hang out with my roommate all night. We go to Walmart so I can buy the body wipes I’ve been looking for and some groceries: Cheez-Its, chips, milk, bacon, bagels, potatoes, beans, and soup. $35.15
8 p.m. — My roommate and I go to Crumbl Cookies because they have awesome flavors this week. I order a mint chocolate cookie and peanut butter crunch cookie. Once we get home, I open the box and I realize they gave me one wrong cookie. It makes me really sad because sometimes, you know, that’s just the final straw. So I eat my one cookie, pout, and go to bed. $6.68
Daily Total: $41.83

Day Six

8 a.m. — Even though I wake up relatively early throughout the week, I can’t be trusted to wake up at a decent hour on the weekends. I want to get up early today to get things done before my plans, so I set an alarm for 8 a.m.
8:45 a.m. — I do a 20-minute booty strength workout on the Peloton app. After that, I take a shower and start on breakfast. I make breakfast tacos with air-fried potatoes, soy chorizo, scrambled eggs, and spinach. My roommate comes back from her morning errands with the cookie flavor I didn’t get last night and I could cry. She’s so sweet and I love her.
11 a.m. — I call my sisters and mom to catch up. They live across the country, so I rarely get to see them. I also get ready for the day while on the phone.
12:30 p.m. — My roommate and I head to our friend’s house who is driving us up the canyon to go to Oktoberfest. We leave for the event around 1:30 p.m.
2:30 p.m. — The first thing I do at Oktoberfest is buy some Dippin’ Dots. I love Dippin’ Dots and will buy them wherever and whenever I see them. I get the cookies ’n’ cream flavor. I also don’t drink much, so beer is not a priority for me. I do sip on N.’s beer and a few of my friends’ fun flavors. My favorite is the pumpkin with whipped cream on top. $6.50
3:30 p.m. — After waiting in a very long line for food, I get an order of cheese fries and we sit down in the grass to relax. I devour my fries; they’re so good and I feel satisfied. $10.82
5:30 p.m. — We go down the canyon, drive back to my friend’s house, and then my roommate drives us home. We don’t know what we’re doing for the rest of the night yet, so we chill at home for a while.
7:30 p.m. — N. calls me and asks if my roommate and I would like to come over so he can cook for us. We say yes, of course, and go to the grocery store on the way to his house to buy ingredients: carrots, celery, potatoes, beef, beef stock, peppercorn, and French bread. I pay for them, and we head to his house. $28.97
8 p.m. — N. makes beef stew and we hang out at his house for the rest of the night. A lot of our other friends come over, too. I talk to my friends, watch Drake and Josh on the couch, and go to bed around 12 a.m. My social battery wears out fairly quickly.
Daily Total: $46.29

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I finally get myself up and out of N.’s bed after cuddling all morning. I have to work at my retail job at 11:30 a.m, so I head home. I spend the morning talking to my roommate and getting ready for work. For breakfast, I eat a breakfast burrito and sip on a dirty chai I make at home. Out the door by 11:20 a.m.
11:30 a.m. — I work on the sales floor putting out stock and cleaning up. The morning runs pretty smoothly.
3:15 p.m. — I clock out for lunch and go home to eat. I have leftover beef stew and some potato chips.
4 p.m. — Back to work. Post lunch, I spend most of my time up front as a cashier because there were a lot of callouts today. I get nothing done on the floor and I feel bad for leaving a mess. This happens weekly because so many people call out of work on Sundays.
7:35 p.m. — Finally off. I go home quickly because I am exhausted. Once I am home, I shower, then make and eat dinner (tuna, chickpeas, rice, spinach) and an ice-cream sandwich. I eat weird dinners like this all the time, so I tell N. what I’m eating so he can make fun of me.
9 p.m. — I do a 30-minute evening yoga flow on Peloton, do some chores, and end my night with a journaling session. I’m asleep by 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $0
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