A Week In Buffalo, NY, On A $31,000 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: a teacher who makes $31,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Perfect bar.
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 23
Location: Buffalo, NY
Salary: $31,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $951
Additional Income: I also waitress on the side and make $300-$400 per month. (This includes tips...I get around $30 per check before tips.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $790, split down the middle with my boyfriend, C.
Student Loan Payment: $100 (I owe $27,000 total.)
Netflix: $15 (My sister SOMETIMES remembers to pay me for the other half.)
Credit Cards: $300 (I owe about $2,500 in credit card debt that I am aggressively trying to pay off.)
Gym Membership: $22
Utilities: Never more than $100 a month. C. takes care of utilities and then deducts my half from the rent he owes me.
Savings: $20 every Monday into my savings account. Small, I know, but that's what happens when you make a small salary!

Day One

6:55 a.m. — I wake up. I am SUPER LATE. I've had this bad habit lately of trying to get every minute of sleep I can. My students are really exhausting me lately. I love them, but middle schoolers are hard work. I grab my breakfast and lunch and jet out the door.
7:35 a.m. — I get to school on time somehow! I want to meet with my principal to discuss a fundraiser he wants the club I advise to run. But unfortunately he's going on a field trip, so I don't get to meet with him. I heat up the breakfast I brought from home and wait for my kiddos to arrive.
11 a.m. — Lunch is provided for us today! I almost always bring my own lunch, as I am trying to save money. I eat the egg-salad sandwich I brought (hey, I love it) and grab some of the tomato soup we have in the teacher's lounge. Halfway through the day, I feel a really bad cold coming on. I consider calling in sick tomorrow but think about how I have a club meeting during my lunch tomorrow...
3 p.m. — School's out! I have a basketball game to coach today, so I need some caffeine. I go to Starbucks and buy a double shot on ice. I refill my Starbucks app for $10 and then swing through to Whole Foods to get a Perfect Bar. They're on sale, two for $4, so I grab another to throw in the fridge when I get home. $14
5 p.m. — I leave the basketball game and head to my second job. I waitress on Tuesdays and Fridays and sometimes pick up shifts on Saturdays as well. I do this along with coaching basketball, being a club adviser, and acting as a parent-teacher liaison. Here's to hoping I make some money!!
10 p.m. — Finally out!!! I head home, grab some gas on the way so I won't have to do it in the morning. I get home, take a shower, and give C. a kiss hello and goodnight. Tuesdays stink for us because we don't see each other at all. I read on my Kindle and then fall asleep. $10
Daily Total: $24

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and feel TERRIBLE. I have hella anxiety even thinking about calling in sick, but I know if I don't I will feel even worse this weekend. I don't want that to happen, because C.'s sister is visiting from L.A. and we'll be spending time with her! I text our school secretary and tell her I'm ill. I promise her an iced cappuccino tomorrow when I come back.
10 a.m. — I'm just lounging around the house. I still feel pretty crappy, but the extra sleep helps a lot. I make myself some breakfast. Toast with avocado and eggs and another piece with peanut butter and banana. I am OBSESSED with peanut butter. C. gets mad because I buy different flavors all the time and we currently have ten jars.
12 p.m. — I scroll through Amazon, but I don't buy anything because I have a $125 gift card coming my way from credit card rewards points. I'm trying to cut down on plastic, so I put some reusable sandwich baggies in my cart.
5 p.m. — C. gets home!! We chat about his day and make dinner. He plays rugby and eats A LOT, so our eating schedules don't usually match. I make an egg-white omelet with veggies, and C. makes a lot of chicken and veggies. We take turns switching between me watching Netflix and him playing on his PS4. We have a Fire Stick in the bedroom, but I don't feel like lying in bed.
10 p.m. — I scroll through LikeToKnowIt. I love all the outfits. I haven't bought clothes with my own money (thank you, gift cards!) since before Christmas, so I want to treat myself eventually. I do this until I pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I wake up at 6:30. But. I. Can't. Get. Up. I stay snuggled up until my second alarm goes off at 6:45. I rush lunch and breakfast together. I've really got to start doing this before I go to bed.
7 a.m. — I stop by Tim Horton's to get our secretary her promised iced capp, and I grab an iced coffee for myself as well. Yesterday I didn't spend any money, so I'm all right with shelling out the six bucks. $6
11 a.m. — I eat my hodgepodge of Trader Joe's mac 'n' cheese, roasted veggies, and a vanilla yogurt. I have another basketball game later tonight, and I know I'm going to have to grab a snack somewhere after school. I check my bank account, and my landlord STILL hasn't taken my rent check out. This happens a lot, and it's pretty inconvenient because I have to mentally figure out how much I have in my checking. I notice I have a little money to spare after payday this week, so I make a mental note to pay a little extra toward my student loans. They aren't as much as what some people I know have, but the interest adds up.
3 p.m. — I head to basketball. It's stressful coaching even for middle school. We lose in overtime. I make a big speech at the end because a few girls made faces on the court when I told them what to do, and it drives me NUTS. Now I know why my mom used to get so mad.
5 p.m. — I decide to run and grab a few groceries before I head home. I head to my favorite place on earth, Trader Joe's!!!! I get almost all of my groceries from Trader Joe's. I decide to grab the frozen lamb tandoori to eat for dinner tonight. I spend a little under $70. I also run to Target because they sell the yogurt I like. Of course I get ice cream, ChapStick, and a few other things. That comes to a little under $30. $97.29
8 p.m. — I really should be going to the gym, but I can't keep my eyes open at all. C. is a bad influence and tells me to just stay home and rest. He heads to rugby, and I doze off and don't even hear him come home.
Daily Total: $103.29

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — I wake up a little later than usual, but I feel great because I got a full night's rest. I get dressed quickly and throw a lunch together. I pack my waitressing clothes because I have to work tonight. Double payday today!
7:15 a.m. — I grab coffee for two coworkers and myself. We have formed a really tight-knit group in the past year and a half, and I like showing my appreciation for them whenever I can. Our job is difficult, and not everyone understands the stress teachers experience. We have a group chat where we send frequent memes and complaints and talk all day. $6.23
10 a.m. — Is this day over?! My kids are really testing me today. We're watching a movie about abolitionists, and it's actually really good, but they WON'T STOP TALKING. It drives me nuts.
12 p.m. — Okay, while my kids are watching the next documentary about Jesse Owens, I cave. I spend $87.52 at Gap online — two shirts, a pair of "sculpt" jeans, and a pair of really cute dress pants. I also head over to Nordstrom Rack online, where I get a pair of pants and a pair of over-the-knee boots. This equals out to $142.70. I don't feel bad because I am tearing through my closet this week getting rid of anything I don't wear. $230
3 p.m. — School's out!! Only one more week until February break! I'm going home to visit my parents for five days, and I can't wait. I live five hours away now, and I miss them a lot. I get ready to head to the gym before my waitressing gig.
4:30 p.m. — I'm starving! I get to work and immediately order a chicken sandwich. Luckily, we don't have to pay for our meals here. For a little while we did, and it sucked. I would spend part of my tips paying for my meal. I scarf it down and get ready to serve. It can be hit-or-miss here, so I never know what I'll make.
10 p.m. — Woo! Made about 100 bucks tonight! This is great, because I try to spend my tips before I touch my debit card. This will buy and probably cover all of our groceries next week, so I'm excited. Waitressing after teaching all week is exhausting, so I immediately crash after getting home. I grab $10 worth of gas on my way. $10
Daily Total: $246.23

Day Five

10 a.m. — I take time to pay my credit card payments. I set aside $300 per month to pay off my cards. I have three. It was a mistake to open up so many, but oh well. I'm taking responsibility for it now. I have one almost paid off. Once that's done, I'll aggressively pay off the other two!
11 a.m. — We have a long day ahead of us, but I hit the gym first. WOW — I am sore. My friend is a personal trainer, and each month he creates a workout for me for the month. It's awesome! I grab a water bottle on my way in. $2
4 p.m. — We meet C.'s parents and his sister for dinner. We spend every weekend with them! It's great because they're so nice and also let us do our laundry at their house. We get Italian food and C.'s dad graciously pays.
8 p.m. — We hang out at C.'s parents', and his sister rents Bohemian Rhapsody. It's so good!! We hang out for a few hours before we head home and get to bed.
Daily Total: $2

Day Six

10 a.m. — C. and I head to our favorite café/coffee roastery. It's in an old funeral home, and it's Day of the Dead–themed. We love it! I want to join their mug club, but it's $100 a year and I can't justify that just yet. I get a turkey sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich on a whole-wheat bagel. C. gets this ridiculous sandwich with mac 'n' cheese, BBQ chicken, cheese, and Triscuits. He says it's delicious, and honestly, it does look pretty great.
4 p.m. — We've been lounging allllllll day. I hop on Netflix and watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I use our spare bedroom as my closet and really need to get rid of things and organize more effectively.
7 p.m. — I am almost completely done cleaning my room. Whew. That was a lot. I put some clothes aside to send to my friend. I also post some on Poshmark and hope that I can make some money that way.
10 p.m. — Okay, I'm shot. I get into bed and wait for sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — Ughhhhhhhh. Mondays. They are rough. I run out the door and stop and grab a coffee. I am really trying to cut back on my spending, I swear. $2
8 a.m. — It's only 8, and I've already yelled at my kids. They are so mean to each other that it hurts my soul. All I want to do is teach them to be kind human beings, but they are really struggling with that.
11 a.m. — Lunch time...halfway through the day. I can do it! I have basketball again today right after school, so I'm counting the hours until I can go home and sit down. I love being a teacher, but man, it makes me tired.
3 p.m. — As we head to our game, I see a Venmo request for a wine tour we did with friends a few months ago! Apparently, my friend forgot just like I did. I send her the money for it. I also stop and get $20 in gas since somehow I'm on empty again. Between driving back and forth to work every day, basketball two to three times a week, and the gym four times a week, my car is sucking up the gas. I really should fill it up, but it's freezing! So I fill it up halfway. $95
5 p.m. — I get home and see my credit card rewards have come in the mail! I have $125 for Amazon and $50 for Starbucks. This is amazing, because I spend money at these two places the most!
7 p.m. — I make dinner for us — Buffalo chicken with broccoli and sweet potatoes! We scarf it down. C. goes to rugby practice and I put on Lady Bird.
11 p.m. — I finally crawl into bed. This week has been a long one, and I only have four more days until February break. I can't wait!
Daily Total: $97
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