Money Diaries logo

A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $84,800 Salary

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 software engineer who makes $84,800 per year and spends some of her money this week on High Noon Hard Seltzer.
Occupation: Software Engineer
Industry: Finance/Technology
Age: 22
Location: Dallas, TX
Salary: $84,800
Net Worth: ~$11,000 (Savings: $7,579, retirement (Roth & 401(k)): $21,735, investment accounts: $2,179, HSA: $1,130, minus debt)
Debt: $21,400 in student loans
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,664
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,340
Student Loans: $0 currently but my company pays $100 towards my loans each month
Wax Subscription: $46
Donations: $75
Peacock/Prime/Apple: $30
Electric: ~$60
Water: ~$15
Netflix/Hulu: $0 (on parent's Netflix, sister's Hulu)
Internet: $70
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, there definitely was an expectation since both of my parents are college graduates. I did go to college but chose a private university so it was quite expensive. My grades and SAT score got me a scholarship that covered half of my tuition. I covered the rest with a mix of student loans and my parents' help.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
The conversations that my parents had about money were always behind closed doors, so growing up I was unaware of our financial situation. The most my parents did was encourage me to save and as I got into high school my dad would talk about his stocks and the dividends he was earning. Whenever I did have questions, my mom would answer since she works in finance.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was in high school working for my dad's business. I mainly did it so I could have some extra money saved up going into college.
Did you worry about money growing up?
No, my parents shielded us from concerns, if there were any.
Do you worry about money now?
Not really. Sometimes I over-save and stress myself out but at the end of the day I know I'm going to be okay.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 21 once I started working full-time. I do have a financial safety net in my boyfriend, D., and my parents as well as my grandfather (he told me if I needed money he would be happy to help).
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up, make some coffee, and enjoy it while thinking about what needs to be done today. Then, I get ready for a run and head over to a running trail to meet two friends for a morning run, P. and K. We met while training for a marathon and have decided to run together Monday mornings over the summer. Five miles later, we are done and I head home.
8:30 a.m. — On my way home from the run, I get a Starbucks (Chocolate Cream Cold Brew). I pay for it with a gift card. Once home, I shower, eat a bagel with cream cheese, and catch up on emails. We have to turn cameras on in meetings at work now, so I put on a little bit of mascara and concealer and comb through my hair.
12 p.m. — It's therapy time. I have been going to therapy for about 10 months now and have seen a huge change in myself. My boyfriend, D., and I were going through a rough patch and I decided to start therapy because I had a really difficult time setting boundaries and was also pretty passive-aggressive with him instead of just communicating how I was feeling. I also had self-esteem problems and relationship anxiety (I had a fearful-avoidant attachment style). Now, though, things are really great and I have grown a lot. We talk about The Ultimatum on Netflix and swap opinions. I honestly love my therapist. $100
3:30 p.m. — I check my credit card balance and see that my donation went through today. One of my family friends started a non-profit a few years ago, so I donate $75 a month (in monthly expenses), which my employer matches. Work today has been hectic — oh well, it makes my days go by quickly.
5 p.m. — Finally done with work. I immediately plop onto the couch and watch a few episodes of Parks and Rec and then muster up the energy to make dinner for myself. I follow a recipe that is supposed to be a chicken fajita skillet, but the recipe is not working with me and ends up watery. Ugh. I power through anyways and it actually tastes pretty good, so I drain the water and save the leftovers.
9:30 p.m. — I am exhausted so I read a little before it's lights out. I'm currently reading The Last Season by Eric Blehm and it is so good — it's about a park ranger of the Sierra Mountain range that goes missing and the search effort to find him. I'm very outdoorsy, so this book makes me want to go on another hiking trip.
Daily Total: $100

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I get to sleep in today! I enjoy my coffee and pick out a few pictures to order prints at CVS. Last week, D. found an old framed picture of him and his ex and I realized we don't have any printed photos together to replace that picture. I order a few of my favorites and hope he likes one of them. Then, I eat and get ready for work. We have to have our cameras on during our daily team meeting, so I can't just roll out of bed and get on my meeting. $15
12 p.m. — The morning absolutely flies by and before I know it, lunchtime is here. I can barely eat, though. My team director has set up a spontaneous "touch base" with my manager and me for five minutes this afternoon, and I'm pretty nervous. I have no idea what it is about.
4 p.m. — HOLY SHIT. The quick "touch base" was to inform me that they adjusted my salary according to market value (i.e. so many people have left my team they can't afford to lose more people) and it will be increasing by $25,000. I am speechless. Going from $84,800 to $110,000 is a huge jump. As soon as the call ends, I immediately call D. and my parents and share the news. I feel like I've just had 20 shots of espresso.
6:30 p.m. — Time for my running club meetup. I am on a speed training plan, so today is a lot of hills in a lot of heat. Not my favorite combo. I slather on Trail Toes (a vaseline-like cream that prevents blisters on my feet) before heading out. It is a brutal workout and my hamstring is still tight from this weekend. On the way home I pick up a chicken bowl from Chipotle. $8
10 p.m. — I make a to-do list for my day tomorrow because I have to study for my upcoming AWS certification exam. I am way behind on my study schedule. Then, I do a little more reading before lights out.
Daily Total: $23

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and do my usual routine — drink coffee and have breakfast. Today is going to be good. I'm still shocked from yesterday. I thought I would be making six figures at 25 if I was lucky... but not at 22! I guess the all-nighters studying to be a software engineer were worth it.
12 p.m. — I miss D. so much! He is back in his hometown right now and I am thinking about him nonstop. We are moving in together next month and I am so excited. An idea hits me and I order a small file box with hanging folders. D. has said several times that he needs a file cabinet for his files, which are currently just stacked up in a corner of his closet, so I get this for him as a little surprise when he gets back. Dorky, yes, but I know he will actually use it. $43.28
3:30 p.m. — My sister needs me to come over to her place and sign for a package while she is at work. I pack up my laptop and charger and head over. Once I am done working, I text my dad and beg him for gift ideas for his birthday. Why are dads so hard to shop for???
6:30 p.m. — I find the workout gloves and cable machine attachment my dad wants on Amazon and order them to deliver to my parents' house. Since we live in different cities, I text my mom and tell her the ETA so porch pirates don't steal his gift. They're rampant in my hometown right now. Then, I wrap up my evening and read. $57.24
Daily Total: $100.52

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, drink coffee, and get ready for the day. I do some stretches and realize my hamstring does not feel tight anymore, which is great news for tonight's run. I start work at 8 since we have a department-wide meeting. This meeting is discussing roadmaps for all the organizations within my department, so it is not all that relevant to me. I spend this time tweaking my 401(k) contribution and calculating how much my take-home will be.
11 a.m. — I find one last thing for my dad. He has a beloved baseball cap that he wears all the time, but it is coming unraveled and falling apart. I find a similar hat and order it for him. It's expensive for a baseball cap, but it is a small local business and a high-quality hat, so I don't mind. $47.63
5:30 p.m. — After work, I get ready for tonight's run and go pick up the photo prints at CVS. They are so cute! I keep a couple to frame at my apartment and set aside the two that I printed for my mom. They are two different-sized pictures of me at my first marathon back in April, holding my finisher medal and smiling ear to ear. I know she will love them.
8 p.m. — This run was BRUTAL. We did a ladder (400, 800, 1200, 800, 400) and the mid-afternoon spicy snack I ate felt like hot lava in my stomach. I don't know how I managed to finish. I get home, shower, and heat up some frozen lasagna because I am too tired to cook. Then, it is in bed and lights out at 11.
Daily Total: $47.63

Day Five

7 a.m. — Morning routine: coffee, skincare, breakfast. I've been religious about maintaining my skincare routine since I got several Fraxel treatments over the winter. It made a huge difference on my acne scars, but it was $4,000, so I am doing everything in my power to not waste a penny of it. I sit down and start work. We have a half day today (every Friday), and honestly, I don't feel like doing anything all morning. It helps that I am waiting for a teammate to review my code changes, so I kinda have an excuse to not do anything. I start planning how D. and I are going to arrange furniture in our new apartment.
1 p.m. — Work is done, and I text my best friend, J., to see if she wants to get a late lunch since she has summer Fridays. She's free, so I head over to her place.
3 p.m. — J. and I get burgers and I buy, because I missed her and am dying to catch up. She catches me up on all things going on in her life and then we go to Lowe's and look at plants for her front yard. She lives in her boyfriend's house and goes ALL OUT with plants in the summer. When we get back to her house, we spend three hours planting everything we just got. $30.25
8 p.m. — I get home after hanging with J., and immediately jump in the shower to get the sweat and bug spray off me. Then I make some pasta to get some carbs in before my run tomorrow and get ready for bed. I start reading The Grapes of Wrath for a few minutes but I can barely keep my eyes open, so lights out.
Daily Total: $30.25

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up wishing I didn't stay up so late, but I know I should go on a run before the heat gets unbearable. I get dressed and drive over to my favorite running trail, eating a mini Luna bar along the way. After six miles, I come home, make a smoothie, and try to cool down before I get in the shower, otherwise I'll still be sweating when I get out.
1:30 p.m. — D. texts me that his plane has landed and I rush around my apartment trying to get my bag ready for the lake. We are meeting my friend, J., and her boyfriend, C., to hang out on their boat and drink and hang out in the sun. I drive there, pick him up, and pay the tolls when we leave the airport. He is famished, so we stop to get Chick-fil-A, and then we stop at another store to buy High Noons and chips. $32.70
6:30 p.m. — We finish up at the lake and both D. and I are tired of the heat and a little cranky. We get to his apartment, plan to make a run to Kroger in his car, only to find that his battery is completely dead AND the battery fluid has completely corroded the terminals. He calls AAA and I drive to Kroger to pick up some salad, watermelon, and a gluten-free mini chocolate cake for us and head to my place to get my overnight bag. When I get back to his place, we watch a few episodes of The Circle and get in bed by midnight. $26.11
Daily Total: $58.81

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — We are slow to get up this morning. Neither of us slept well but I am famished, so we head over to our favorite breakfast spot. He pays, but I venmo him to cover my half. We figure out our game plan for the day. $20
2:30 p.m. — After picking up boxes from U-Haul, we go to his place and start packing some of his stuff. He is moving out of his apartment this upcoming weekend, living in my place for a week, then going to his hometown until our new lease starts. So, today is packing and cleaning.
7 p.m. — After hours of packing, we call it and go to Kroger to get some essentials for the week. I get fruit, two boxes of Luna bars, toothpaste, and rice. We part ways and I head back to my place to have some me-time and eat leftover pasta. I have to get up early to run tomorrow, so it's lights out by 9:30. $41.20
Daily Total: $61.20
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience 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.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series