A Week In St. Paul, MN, On A $60,000 Salary

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: an investigator working for the government who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a rainbow flag.
Occupation: Investigator
Industry: Government
Age: 33
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Salary: $60,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,334
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $600 for my portion (our mortgage for our three-bed/three-bath house is $1,865; my husband pays the rest, plus utilities, internet, Netflix, and DirecTV)
Debt Consolidation Loan: $250 (balance is $7,200)
Student loans: $0 (paid off)
Car payment: $0 (paid off)
Retirement Plan: $372 (pre-tax)
Pension: $268 (pre-tax)
Medical and Dental: $270 (pre-tax, I cover my husband and myself)
Parking: $80 (pre-tax)
Life Insurance: $16.60
Disability Coverage: $60
Savings: $460
Apple Music $10
Pet Insurance: $119.59
HVAC Service Plan: $10
Car Insurance: $98.82
Cell Phone: $104.98
Ipsy: $10
Planned Parenthood: $30
Note: My husband makes $110,000 a year + bonuses. We don't share an account. He pays for most of the regular housing costs, while I cover our health insurance and the expenses for all three cats and the dogs. We split any large expenses that come up unexpectedly.

Day One

6 a.m. — Time to get up! This morning the HVAC company I have a service plan with is coming to inspect our air conditioner first thing. I take the dog out, feed her, then feed all three cats. They get angry if you don't get to them quick enough, and the kitten tries to steal the dog's food. I shower and get ready for the day. On my way out the door I wake up my husband, R., and the HVAC guy arrives.
8 a.m. — Good news! Minor tune-ups needed, and my husband says he can do them himself (he's really handy!). I eat my breakfast at my desk. Today, it's Trader Joe's gluten-free nuts-and-berries granola, cottage cheese, and fresh raspberries. I send C., my boyfriend, a good morning Snapchat (it's our main form of communication, oddly enough!).
11:30 a.m. — I go for my normal lunch walk and order ahead at Caribou Coffee. I order a sparkling green tea lemonade ($4), one of my favorites. I loaded up my app in advance with money, so it's free. I head back to my office and eat lunch and read a book. Today's lunch is Sweet Earth aloha BBQ quesadillas, which is one of my favorites. I make an effort to walk for 20 minutes during my hour lunch break every day. It gets me out of my office, clears my head, and gives me a boost of energy.
5:30 p.m. — I head home and change clothes, then leave for a hair appointment. My stylist doesn't usually do evening appointments, so I bring her a bottle of wine from our wine fridge to thank her for squeezing me in. I get a partial highlight and a pink overlay in preparation for Pride festivities this weekend. I've been rocking pink hair for about nine months, and I absolutely love it! However, it's a lot a maintenance, and I have to get it refreshed every four months or so. The color is $93, and she refuses to accept a tip since I brought her wine. I have $15 cash in my wallet, so I sneak it onto her station anyway. $108
7:30 p.m. — I get home and show R. my new hair. He shrugs and says it looks nice (typical!). I'm starving but feeling lazy, so I throw a frozen cheese pizza in the oven for dinner. R. and I eat pizza and watch the new Jennifer Anniston and Adam Sandler movie on Netflix. We head to bed at 9:30, our usual time.
Daily Total: $108

Day Two

6 a.m. — Wake up, feed the animals, get ready for the day, send C. a good morning Snapchat. I pack my breakfast and lunch. I stop at the gas station by my house on the way into work and fill up. I work pretty close to my house, so I usually only have to fill up once every 10 days. I drive into work downtown and park in my contract parking ramp. I pay $80 a month for ramp parking, which comes out of my paycheck pre-tax. $25.82
8 a.m. — I eat my breakfast, which is a Kodiak Cakes microwavable flapjack. They are super yummy and have enough protein to keep me full until lunch. I meet with my boss afterward for my performance review. She tells me I'm a pleasure to work with. We discuss my personal development plan for the next year, which includes advanced leadership training. I get an "exceeds expectations" on my review (which is really good!).
12 p.m. — I take my lunch walk and go down to the midday farmer's market to browse. It's early in the season, so it's mostly lettuce, onions, and other early veggies and about half as many vendors as normal. Nothing strikes my fancy, so I walk to the old-time candy shop. I get myself a butter-cheese-caramel popcorn mix and caramel popcorn for my boyfriend, who I will see later tonight. Caramel popcorn is his favorite. I head back to the office and eat lunch, which is a random assortment of food: leftover baked beans, microwave mashed potatoes, and fresh strawberries. $8.75
6 p.m. — I get home, change, then load up my bike on my car to meet C. for a bike ride; he lives just over the border in Wisconsin. I'm starving, so I grab a piece of cheese to munch on. My husband and I have an open marriage, and I'm polyamorous. I've been dating my boyfriend for about two years, and he and my husband are friends. Mondays and/or Tuesdays are our usual days to spend time together, as well as every other weekend. I meet him (score free parking!) and we bike just over six miles along the St. Croix river on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. It's perfect summer weather: 72 degrees, sunny, and no bugs!
7 p.m. — Biking worked up an appetite, so we head over to one of our usual places for dinner and drinks. We sit outside on the patio so we can enjoy the beautiful day. I have a couple — okay, three — glasses of rosé and a veggie burger with chipotle-lime fries. We hang out and talk and just enjoy each other's company. This weekend he has his son, so I won't be seeing him until next Monday or Tuesday. We split the bill. $48.03
Daily Total: $82.60

Day Three

6 a.m. — Wake up, feed the animals, get ready for work. I'm running late, but I make a smoothie for breakfast anyways: pineapple, blueberries, and coconut water with a scoop of vegan vanilla protein powder with caffeine. I got home later than normal last night and need the energy boost.
10 a.m. — I text my friend about going to a drag brunch in July, since tickets went on sale today. She wants to go and asks me to get her a ticket. I buy two tickets to the drag brunch, which will be Lizzo-themed! We have done several drag brunches before, and they are a blast! You have to buy tickets right away because they sell out quickly. $28.26
11:30 a.m. — I run some documents over to another office, then take a quick walk on my lunch break. I brought lunch again from home today: a Southwest salad and chips and salsa. I'm trying to make a better effort to bring a lunch from home to save money. This winter I got into the habit of eating out every day at work, and I'm trying to break the habit.
5 p.m. — I get home, change into yoga pants and a T-shirt, and go outside to weed the vegetable garden. We just bought our house last fall, and the yard and landscaping needed a lot of work. We planted heirloom tomatoes, a variety of peppers, onions, raspberries, a blueberry bush, sunflowers, and catnip. While weeding, I'm surprised to find several random squash growing and a bunch of rogue tomatoes. Score for bonus plants!
7 p.m. — Done weeding and cleaning up the yard. We decide to do fast food for dinner, because I'm too lazy to cook once again. We go to Sonic. I get popcorn chicken and a frozen lemonade, R. gets a burger, fries, and a shake ($20.57). R. pays for dinner.
8:30 p.m. — After dinner I'm exhausted and head to bed extra early with my book. I'm reading a thriller right now, and it's getting good, but I fall asleep reading.
Daily Total: $28.26

Day Four

6 a.m. — Rise and shine! I feed the animals and get ready. R. is up early for an international conference call. He travels for work quite often, but when he's not traveling, he works from home. I make another smoothie for breakfast: strawberries, pineapple, coconut water, and vegan vanilla protein powder with caffeine. I send C. a quick Snapchat because I look cute for work today, and head to work.
10 a.m. — I take a break from work and text my sister about my niece's birthday party this weekend and then check my personal email while I munch on popcorn. Bookbub has a memoir about a blind cat today, so of course I buy the e-book for my Kindle. Our kitten is half-blind, and any story about a blind cat tugs at my heartstrings. $2.15
11:30 a.m. — R. meets me for lunch downtown today. We go to a Greek place near my office. I get a Greek salad with chicken and pita bread, R. gets a gyro and fries. We split a piece of baklava. R. pays for lunch ($18.63).
6 p.m. — I get off work and we go to our favorite bar to say goodbye to a bartender who is leaving. I have a glass of wine, buffalo wings, and a side salad. R. eats the majority of my wings and has a couple of craft beers. He pays for dinner. I want to stay and hang out, but I have a photo shoot in the morning and need the rest. We leave early and I head to bed around 8:30.
Daily Total: $2.15

Day Five

8 a.m. — I took a vacation day for my photo shoot, so I get to sleep in an extra two hours! I get up and get ready for my shoot, skipping breakfast so I don't feel bloated.
11 a.m. — I'm a bit late for my boudoir shoot since it's across town, but I know the photographer and she's fine with it. We have fun and shoot a nerdy Harry Potter–themed outfit. It takes me a bit to get home because of road construction (everything in Minnesota is under construction in the summer), and I'm starving by the time I get home.
1 p.m. — I decide to go get Chipotle for lunch, and C. surprises me and meets me. I order a veggie bowl with brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, corn salsa, sour cream, cheese and lettuce, and a side of guacamole and chips. I eat half the bowl and all of the chips and guacamole. $11.16
1:45 p.m. — I say goodbye to C. and head over to Target to get my niece a birthday card. I find her a birthday card, a birthday card for my mom, and some random cards as well. I also get two gift bags for her gifts, because I hate wrapping boxes. I remember I need concealer, so I pick up NYX concealer and a trial-size Pixi Rose toner I have been wanting to try. I swing through the clearance section and score a black pencil skirt for $6. Finally, I go to the baby section and find an adorable purple tie-dye romper for my niece that I just can't pass up. $76.52
3 p.m. — I get home from all my adventures and crash on the couch for an hour.
5 p.m. — R. and I go check out a local craft brewery. We each get a sample flight and three pints of beer. We sit and play the new Wizards Unite game together (we are huge Harry Potter fans!) and listen to live music. R. also gets two cases of their craft soda to split with C. R. is really thoughtful and often picks up new craft soda for them to try. R. pays for the beer and soda, and I buy a pink Pride-themed brewery branded shirt. $20
9 p.m. — We meet up with some friends for a late dinner at a local dive bar. I order a rum and coke, R. gets a beer. We order food, a flatbread for R., and a blackened chicken wrap for me. We play pull tabs ($20) and win $108, so our meal is free!
Daily Total: $107.68

Day Six

9 a.m. — We sleep in a little, but the cats get R. up early (6 a.m.) as always to be fed. Eventually, I get up and make hash browns and toast for breakfast.
1 p.m. — We go to my sister's for my niece's first birthday party. It's rainbow-themed, so I wear one of my Pride shirts. They are having pulled pork for lunch, but I'm a vegetarian (mostly), so I load up on coleslaw, veggies and dip, and fruit. We have rainbow birthday cake for dessert, and I have a hard seltzer. I take lots of pictures for my sister while my niece opens her presents — she's very enthusiastic about gifts, and it's cute. We got her five new outfits (I might have gone overboard!) and a custom bunny stuffed animal I got on Etsy.
6 p.m. — My friend T. and I head out for the night to celebrate Pride! We head over to the festival grounds in Minneapolis, and R. is kind enough to drop us off, so we don't have to pay for an Uber. My friend got our tickets in advance, so I pay her back for them ($20). It's a variety show with drag performers and is headlined by TLC! I get French fries and a lemonade ($14) for dinner, and I share fries in exchange for some of my friend's cheese curds. I get two hard seltzers ($16), and we dance and sing to "Creep" and "Waterfalls" like it's 1994. $50
10 p.m. — We walk across the park and catch the fireworks show before R. comes to pick us up. We get home and I hop into bed right away.
Daily Total: $50

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Up bright and early for the Pride parade today. I get ready and put on extra glitter for the parade. My outfit consists of a pink, blue, and purple tank top (I identify as bisexual/queer) and unicorn shorts. R. brings me a breakfast sandwich from Sonic, and we head out the door with T., who's in a similar outfit and a matching tutu.
9:45 a.m. — We meet my sister, brother-in-law, and niece in downtown Minneapolis, and they are in matching rainbow outfits. We get there early to scout out a good spot to watch the parade. Minneapolis has the third largest pride celebration in the country. With this year being the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, they are anticipating an even bigger crowd of around 400,000 people.
11 a.m. — The parade starts! We buy my niece a rainbow flag to wave, and she giggles and happily waves it the entire time. I get a little misty-eyed this year watching the giant flags go by, feeling so supported by my family. I only came out three years ago, and I'm finally starting to feel like myself. $10
1:30 p.m. — After the parade is over, our group heads down to the festival amidst a giant crowd of people. I'm starving — the few pieces of candy I got during the parade were not enough. I get Mexican street corn and some cookie dough, as there were hardly any vegetarian options. We wander the festival until our feet start to hurt, then head home. $11
5 p.m. — I take a short nap when we get home and wake up famished. I make a huge plate of nachos with chips, cheese, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream, which I share with R. We watch some TV, and later I have a Trader Joe's frozen fruit bar. We head to bed at our normal time, as R. will be up and out the door early to catch a flight the next morning.
Daily Total: $21
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