A Week In New Orleans, LA, On $47 Per Hour

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 speech language pathologist working in education who makes $47 per hour and spends some of her money this week on new Beats headphones.
Occupation: Speech Language Pathologist
Industry: Education
Age: 26
Location: New Orleans, LA
Income: $47/hour (I work in two settings: schools and Early Intervention, and this is my hourly rate for both. My income was $61,000 last year.)
Paycheck Amount: At schools I work between 15 and 25 hours per month, so I get anywhere from $700-$1,200 per monthly paycheck for that. And I work at Early Intervention between 20 and 26 hours per week, so I get anywhere between $1,880 and $2,440 per biweekly paycheck for that.
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100
Student Loans: $280 for my loans that I accrued during graduate school
Health Insurance: $220 (I pay out of pocket for health and dental insurance since I'm an independent contractor.)
Internet: $100
Utilities: ~$30-60 depending on the month
Planet Fitness: $0 (My mom pays for my gym membership.)
ClassPass: $20
Apple Music: $9.99
Netflix: $0 (I use my parents' account.)
Amazon Prime: $0 (I use my parents' account.)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on my parents' account still – thankfully.)
Savings: ~$200-$800 (The amount I save varies per paycheck, but I try to do 15-20% of each paycheck. I also transfer $20 to my high-yield savings account and to Digit every Monday. I have $15,000 total in my high-yield savings.)
Annual Expenses
Costco: $60

Day One

6:45 a.m. — I wake up late after hitting snooze a couple of times. I rush and get ready for work. Luckily I'm wearing scrubs and a hoodie today – my classic work outfit, since I work with toddlers all day. I fill my Yeti up with ice water and grab a banana, take my supplements, and head out the door.
7 a.m. — I have no gas in my car — good thing I live close to Costco. I fill up my tank and continue to work, hopefully on time. $17.85
9 a.m. — I get to my second placement for the day. I sit in my car for a few minutes and book my flight to Cancun for my birthday. I pay for one ticket with points (and $52 of fees), and find another ticket for way less than anticipated, so I go ahead and buy it as well. $220
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1 p.m. — I'm home for the day! I'm lucky enough to create my own schedule, but the caveat is that for the hours I don't work, I don't get paid. I'm saving for a down payment on a house this year, so I try to maintain a solid schedule. I look at my calendar for the week and confirm therapy sessions with parents for tomorrow and do my monthly notes and email them out.
4 p.m. — I'm finished with my documentation! I rummage through my fridge and realize I don't want anything that I cooked. I run to Whole Foods and get some food from the hot bar and a kombucha. $14.93
9 p.m. — I'm tired, so I shower and get ready for bed. I bought an oil diffuser from Amazon last week and have been obsessed. I fill it with water and add eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil, turn on My 600-lb Life and doze off.
Daily Total: $252.78

Day Two

7 a.m. — I'm up and getting ready for the day! I'm not a really huge breakfast girl, so I put some mangos and blackberries in a bag to snack on while I'm driving in between the first couple of daycares I visit. I fill a water bottle with ice water, take my supplements, and head out the door.
10 a.m. — I get to my third placement of the day and settle down. I realize that I have to buy a standardized test for work. Long story short is, I lost it, and unfortunately, it's expensive. Fortunately, I can write off the expense on my taxes at the end of the year. My boss offered to pay for it and remove the cost in installments from my paycheck, but I declined because I figured I could use the credit card points — at this point, I'm thinking I should have taken her up on her offer. $374.90
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12 p.m. — Time for lunch! I head home and reheat some food I made on Sunday. I thought I was going to do Whole30, but it turned out to be only for a Whole 12 Hours. All of the food I have to eat this week is Whole30 compliant, and I'm a little annoyed because I want grains and beans. I heat up chicken and vegetables and eat before I head back to work.
4:15 p.m. — I just finished up seeing two kiddos! I have one more session at 5:30, but it's unconfirmed. I'm about 25 minutes away from my next session, so I decide to go to a coffee shop and kill time. I search through my bag and realize that I left my wallet at home. Luckily, I have my card information stored on ParkMobile and Starbucks, so I head to a Starbucks downtown. I reload my card with $15 and pay for parking. Ultimately for nothing, though, because I don't end up having a session. Bummed, I head home. $18.35
6:30 p.m. — I pull up to Planet Fitness and run five miles. I have a half marathon on Sunday that I'm super excited for, and I decide to take it easy today.
8 p.m. — I'm home from the gym! I shower and eat dinner. Then I add water and essential oil to my oil diffuser, and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $393.25

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I take my supplements and decide that I want coffee this morning, so I leave my house early to make sure that I can be on time to work. New Orleans has a lot of really great locally owned coffee shops, so I head to one and get a large iced coffee and add cream and sugar (take that, Whole30!). I chug a quarter of it on my way to my first daycare and pour the rest in a small insulated coffee mug to keep it cold. $3.37
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2:15 p.m. — So far I've gone to two daycares, a high school, and one home visit. I'm heading to another home visit, but the family cancels last minute, so I head into Walmart to kill some time and buy yet another Mr. Potato Head (my third one of the year, I'm really bad about leaving toy parts around) and some bubbles and keep it moving. $6.87
4:30 p.m. — I'm done for the day! I had two cancellations today and every time that happens, I can't help but do the math for wages lost. This is one of the downfalls of being self-employed. I head to Target and buy some Beats headphones. (In my head these are for the half marathon, but in reality, I've wanted them for a year, and they're finally on sale.) Since I can never go to Target for just one thing, I also grab three sets of flashcards I can use for my high schoolers, a growth chart, and a felt alphabet book for my niece. $280.90
7 p.m. — I'm home from Planet Fitness after a four-mile run. I catch up on Broad City and scroll through Instagram. (I've been enjoying my Finsta more than my actual page lately.) It's been a bit of a funky week in terms of work, so I make myself a gin and tonic and try to relax.
11:30 p.m. — I just got off of FaceTime with one of my best friends. She lives in New York, so I rarely get to see her. We catch up for over an hour and both realize the time. I know that I'm “sleeping in” tomorrow, so I'm not too worried about going to bed late.
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Daily Total: $291.14

Day Four

7 a.m. — I have a pep in my step this morning because I know that I'll be in Shondaland tonight! I throw on scrubs and a long sweater while I'm on the phone with my best friend. We both work in education and talk on our way to work every morning — it's definitely one of my self-care rituals! I take a detour to get coffee and a large ice water from McDonald's…not the best coffee, but it'll have to do for now. $4.31
11:15 a.m. — I drive to Chick-fil-A and find a seat before the lunchtime rush. I order and get three different sauces (annoying, I know) and pull out my computer and eat. I try not to do work-related stuff during lunch, but I decide to begin writing an evaluation report that I really want off my plate. I select a podcast to listen to while I drive ("Managing Valentine's Day Stress" and "Showing Up for Yourself" on Therapy for Black Girls) and head out. $6.68
1:15 p.m. — So I had a mishap with some bubbles (read, a kid broke them). I run over to Walmart and pick up a new stick of bubbles and a soccer ball. It sounds dramatic, but both are critical to my workday. $2.35
6:30 p.m. — I'm finished for the day! I missed happy hour, but I head to a sushi restaurant to meet two of my friends. I rush in to see their checks on the table, but I order a spicy tuna roll anyway — I haven't eaten since lunch. $6.01
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7:30 p.m. — IT'S ALMOST TGIT! I realize that I didn't watch last week's episode, so I rush into Costco and buy a new bottle of Zinfandel and head to my friend's house. I don't have cable, and we live down the street from each other so I like to watch at her place! $13
11 p.m. — Time for bed! I turn on my oil diffuser, and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $32.35

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and while I'm tempted to roll over, I jump in the shower and get ready for the day. While on the phone with my best friend, I get dressed, take my supplements, pack some mangos and blackberries for a morning snack, and rush out the door.
7:30 a.m. — I have a huge craving for coffee, so I decide to go to Starbucks. I still have money on my app from earlier this week, so I order a grande coffee and a breakfast sandwich. I'm a little early for work and I just got paid, so I bite the bullet and pay my credit card bill. I really try to keep a zero balance, and I've put it off as long as I can before interest kicks in. I take a deep breath and pay ($875).
11:30 a.m. — I'm at home for lunch! I had a really hectic morning, so I'm using the gap in my schedule to recalibrate. I turn on The Read (my favorite podcast) and update my weekly timesheet and type an evaluation report. I snack on some fruit that I have in the fridge.
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1:45 p.m. — I check my mail and see that I have one more email to send. I had a medical bill in collections (for a grand and petty total of $55) that I had no idea about until last week and I've been trying to get it removed from my credit report. I send an email to the collections company and hope for the best.
6:30 p.m. — I'm done for the day! I drive home and head straight to Planet Fitness, where I run almost four miles. Then I head to Trader Joe's to pick up a cold brew coffee and sparkling grapefruit water. $7
7:15 p.m. — My gas light turns on while I'm driving home — I usually go through a tank of gas a week, and I was hoping to at least make it through Saturday. I head to Costco and contemplate getting a pizza slice, but I decide against it since I just ran. I pump gas and leave. $10
7:30 p.m. — I get a burrito from a local Mexican restaurant. I'm hungry so of course I go overboard and get a large burrito, chips and salsa, and a small margarita. $25
8:15 p.m. — I jump in the shower, plop on my couch, and eat my burrito. Then I turn on the Sam Cooke documentary on Netflix and wind down for the night. I rarely go out, so I get super cozy knowing that I'll be in my house all night.
Daily Total: $42
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Day Six

8 a.m. — It's the day before the half marathon, and my nerves are killing me. I lie in bed for an hour and contemplate the meaning of life (a.k.a. panic about tomorrow). I get up and grab a small coffee from a local coffee shop. $2.37
11 a.m. — My best friend calls, and we make movie plans for 1. I hop in the shower so I can wash and deep condition my hair.
12:45 p.m. — I'm heading out the door when I realize I didn't eat anything today. I get a kids meal from Chick-fil-A and then pick up sangria to sneak into the movie. Probably not a good idea considering I'm running tomorrow, but I'm willing to accept the consequences. I buy my ticket and head into the theater. $25
5 p.m. — Time for a pasta dinner with the crew! It's a potluck dinner to pack on the carbs for tomorrow, so I eat a heaping plate of spaghetti.
8 p.m. — Time for bed! I refill my oil diffuser with water, add a few drops of lavender and eucalyptus oil, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $27.37

Day Seven

5 a.m. — The day is here! I make a last-minute playlist — my third one for today, just in case I get bored. I take a moment to pray and meditate for my friends who are running today as well. I get a cold brew from my fridge and snack on some fruit. My best friend's boyfriend gives us a ride to the marathon site, since all the streets are closed down.
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7:45 a.m. — The half marathon begins!
10 a.m. — I finished in 2:11! I beat my time last year, so I'm really proud and excited, but also exhausted. I chug two bottles of water and a Gatorade and wait at the finish line for my friends.
2 p.m. — My best friend and I waddle to a Mexican restaurant. I demolish a super burrito and head back to my house for a nap. $8
7 p.m. — I'm awake from the dead. I have no food in my fridge but I'm starving. I waddle through Trader Joe's and pick up a salad, pizza, and another cold brew so I can have something to eat tomorrow for lunch. I can't even meal prep today. $11
8:30 p.m. — Everything hurts so I head to bed. I turn on my oil diffuser, and it's lights out!
Daily Total: $19
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