A Week In Tri-Cities, WA, On A $55,400 Salary

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Today: a teacher who makes $55,400 per year and spends some of her money this week on an essential oil diffuser.
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Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 25
Location: Tri-Cities, WA
Salary: $55,400
Net Worth: -$83,000 (I have money in my savings account and in my retirement fund set up by my district but I have student loan debt and credit card debt. I have about $58,000 in student loans from my undergrad and masters combined (I just finished my masters two weeks ago so my loans are in deferment until December). I have about $26,000 in credit card debt which I accumulated mostly from being stupid in college and a little from actually needing stuff. I am currently "snowballing" my debt and have paid off about $6,000 in the last four months. If all goes as planned I will be credit card debt-free in the next 21 months!)
Debt: Student Loans: $58,000, Credit Card Debt: $26,000, Medical Bills from Emergency in 2018: $3,500
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,205
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $500 (I live with my sister, R., and her boyfriend, C., in their new house)
Loans: student loans are on deferment until December but will be ~$375. I own my car so no loan payment there.
Car Insurance: $58.60
Credit Card Payments: ~$1,000 (with snowballing)
Planet Fitness: $11 (paused right now due to COVID-19)
Phone and Hulu (bundled): $100 to my mom (my line is $70 and the other $30 are to help pay for my little sisters' phone)
Medical Bills: $95
Health Insurance (with Dental and Vision): $65 taken from each paycheck ($750 deposited into Veba account debit card in January)
Disney Plus: $71/year
Netflix: Mooch off my brother
Amazon Prime: Mooch off my sister but will be getting my own when I move out this summer
Costco: Mooch off my mom and sister but will also be getting my own when I get my own place this summer
Spotify Premium: Sister's boyfriend pays for a family plan
Savings: ~$500 (or whatever's leftover)
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Day One

9 a.m. — Good morning world! I wake up excited because today is payday and I am also expecting my edTPA score report. I brush my teeth, take my allergy pill, wash my face, and then do my regular morning skincare routine: Simple micellar water, Clean and Clear gel moisturizer, and Mario Badescu rose face spray. For breakfast, I warm up a frozen egg, bacon, and cheese burrito and also grab some vanilla greek yogurt, a banana, and some orange juice. I take my food back to my room and eat while I pay my bills. I am currently focusing on aggressively paying off the credit card debt I (stupidly) accrued in college so I look forward to payday each month so I can chip away at the debt. I am also saving up to get my own apartment this summer and I am excited to be able to put $700 into that account!
10:45 a.m. — After straightening my room and washing my breakfast dishes, I settle at my laptop to do some work and play an episode of Ozark in the background (haven't decided if I like it yet). I'm a teacher and our schools have now been closed for 45 days. I check my email and my Class Dojo and answer some questions from parents. I post a reminder for the Zoom meeting I am having tomorrow (fingers crossed my kids come!). I work in a low-income district and we cannot guarantee one-to-one access to devices and WiFi for all students, so we are not live-teaching. Instead, the district provides weekly packets that families can pick up at the school when they go pick up lunch and that I can send out through Class Dojo and email. I miss my kids so much so I am super excited about our call tomorrow.
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12:30 p.m. — After I finish my work for the day, I pull out the two suitcases that are currently housing my spring and summer shoes because I need to switch them out with my boots. Not sure if I'll get to it today but at least if I have to stare at the suitcases, I can't keep pretending to forget. I cozy up in bed to read my book Tangerine by Edward Bloor. This book is for my classroom library but I like to read any new books before I add them so that I can tell my kids about them.
2 p.m. — I browse online for a cute essential oil diffuser for my little sister who is turning 12 in a few weeks. I find one that has color-changing lights and I pick out five different oils so she can have some variety. $44.05
2:45 p.m. — I head to the kitchen to hang out with my sister while she cleans. While I'm putting a mini cheese pizza in the oven to snack on, I get a call from one of my professors and he lets me know I passed my edTPA! I'll get an official score report in my email by the end of the day but I am SO relieved! This was the last thing I was waiting on and I finally feel 100% done with my Masters in Teaching Degree! I text with the group of friends I made in my program to share the good news and we celebrate as much as we can since we can't go out for happy hour. I pull out some chicken and chicken sausage to defrost for dinner.
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4:45 p.m. — I start working on dinner. I'm making a one-pot Cajun pasta dish. I'm not great at following recipes and we don't have everything it calls for so I kinda do my own thing and it ends up being super yummy! After we eat, I pack C. (sister's boyfriend) a serving for his lunch tomorrow (he is an essential employee and is working six days a week) and put the leftovers away in the fridge. I clean up the kitchen and then jump in the shower.
7:45 p.m. — After my shower, I put on a pore strip, start my laundry, and put away the now-dry dinner dishes. I watch the first episode of Big Little Lies and decide I like it.
9 p.m. — I join my sister and C. for dessert and we chat for a few minutes before they go to bed. I switch my laundry into the dryer and do my bedtime routine: brush teeth and light skincare (Simple micellar water, Beauty First Aid Repairing Cream, Mario Badescu rose face spray, Kylie Skin eye cream, and Laneige lip sleeping mask). I turn my TV off by 10 and read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $44.05

Day Two

7 a.m. — My first ambitious alarm goes off but nope. Hit snooze.
8 a.m. — I finally wake up and ease into my morning by checking my phone and email.
8:45 a.m. — I roll out of bed and do my makeup since I have a Zoom call with my students today. I have definitely not been wearing makeup during quarantine which has been great for my skin, but I look forward to the days when I can feel like my regular self. I do my full face (moisturizer, primer, foundation, concealer, setting powder, ABH brow pomade, mascara, bronzer, blush, highlighter, liquid lipstick, and setting spray), brush my hair, change into yoga pants, a t-shirt, and sneakers, and dump my clean laundry on my bed so I'm forced to put it away if I want to go to sleep tonight.
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10 a.m. — I warm up the leftover pasta from last night and watch The Office while I eat. After cleaning up my dishes, I work on a spreadsheet for my principal where I keep track of how much engagement I'm seeing from my kids on their online learning.
11 a.m. — Zoom with my kids! Six of my 20 kids log on which is one more than last time so I call that a win! We catch up, play a game of Kahoot, and then they show me around their homes. I'm sad because my kids will be going to middle school next year so I won't even get to see them around school next year.
12 p.m. — Since I did my makeup, I decide to treat myself to an iced coffee (it's the little things). I use money I already have on my Starbucks app to pay. I enjoy every second of the five-minute drive.
12:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with my little sister (she's 11) because she needs some help with an essay she's writing. Once she's all set, I talk to my other little sister (she's 7) and read her a couple of books before letting her work in Epic. My sister R. and I are both teachers and are able to help the little ones with anything they need (and we got them all the supplies they could need when schools were closed). It makes me think about how we really can't hold all our students to the same expectations right now because not all kids are as fortunate as my sisters.
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2:30 p.m. — After my FaceTime call with my sisters, I hard-boil some eggs for a snack and read my book. I keep my eye on the news and see that our governor has extended our stay-at-home order until May 31st. I support him 100% but I'm still bummed, especially since my commencement had to be postponed (I remind myself to be grateful I have my income during this time when so many do not).
6 p.m. — I make dinner just for myself today since R. and C. got takeout. I make handmade tortillas and scramble a few eggs with a tomato, a jalapeño, and an onion. Simple but a go-to meal for me.
8 p.m. — I finally get around to switching out my shoes. I manage to get all my boots into the suitcases for storage and I organize my sandals neatly into the closet. Once that's done, I hop in the shower.
9:45 p.m. — Curse morning me that dumped all my laundry on my bed! I lie on the tiny sliver of my bed not covered in clothes and watch TikToks hoping my laundry will put itself away.
10:45 p.m. — My laundry did not put itself away. I drag myself up and put it all away in about 10 minutes (easy when it's all PJs and yoga pants). Do my normal bedtime routine and then promptly fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Good morning! I wake up with no alarm and do my usual morning routine.
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9:30 a.m. — I make myself a quick breakfast: a smoothie with banana, frozen strawberries, and oats, turkey sausage links, and two slices of toast. I have fresh bananas right now so I'm trying to enjoy them because I don't leave the house very often for groceries right now. Pre-quarantine I would go to the grocery store every day to buy produce as I needed it in an effort to not waste food so this has been tricky for me. After I eat, I wash my dishes, change into yoga pants, an oversized sweater and sneakers, make my bed, and put a new Bath & Body Works scent into my wall plug-in (white tea and sage is AMAZE).
10:30 a.m. — Last week, my sister, brother, and I bought my mom a new grill for her Mother's Day gift. C. has the day off today so we're going to go pick it up at Home Depot. We're doing curbside pickup so we'll be socially distanced. It's a beautiful day out and I enjoy the ride.
11:30 a.m. — We get home, unload the grill, and I hang out in my room for a few hours. I put on my favorite chill study music on Spotify (Chilled Cow) and finish my book. I'm excited to add it to my classroom library, I think my kids will really enjoy it. I pick out my next book One Hundred Years of Solitude (this one is for me). I text back and forth with a photographer I booked a couple of weeks ago. My best friend and I are both graduating this spring and want to take pictures together but the extension of the stay-at-home order means we need to reschedule. I'm glad I paid for those pictures up-front because I imagine this family is struggling right now. After this, I do my monthly debt tracker. I have been "snowballing" my credit card debt and have managed to pay off about $6,000 since January. This month my credit card debt goes down $1,400! I know getting this much credit card debt was irresponsible but I am working on it!
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2:30 p.m. — I make myself a late lunch — ham and cheese sandwich with tomatoes, a small bag of sun chips, two oatmeal raisin cookies, and an Arizona green tea. I watch another episode of Big Little Lies while I eat.
4:30 p.m. — One of my best friends, Q., is a barber and he cuts C.'s hair in the normal world. He comes over since barber shops won't be open for a few more weeks. I sit at the other end of the driveway and hang out with them.
6:30 p.m. — Once Q. leaves, my sister and I hang out and play games. I have a few drinks while we play.
10:00 p.m. — We go get McDonald's (my sister drives and pays). Yay chicken nuggets.
11:30 p.m. — Drunkenly change into PJs, do my normal bedtime routine, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Mornin'! I wake up, do my usual morning routine, and take a couple of Excedrin in case I get a headache from the drinks last night. I tidy up the kitchen, pick up the games we left on the table, and take out the trash then I get back in bed since it's still early.
10:30 a.m. — Thought I might fall back asleep but I never did so I get up now because I'm hungry. I consider going through a drive-through because I'm craving fries but I told myself I needed to be better about spending. I make oven fries with Cajun seasoning and a brunch burger topped with bacon and an egg. Turns out delicious!
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12 p.m. — I clean up the kitchen once I'm done eating then head back to my bed to watch another episode of Big Little Lies. I'm obsessed with Reese Witherspoon, she's so talented.
5 p.m. — Woah. I ended up binge-watching the entire first season, I could not stop watching. I'm starting to feel a little blegh from laying in bed all day so I get up and get in the shower. Today is Sunday so it's "leg skincare day." I'm self-conscious about my “strawberry legs” so I have a routine to keep my legs soft and healthy-looking. I use an exfoliating glove to go over each leg twice with sea salt scrub. Once I'm out of the shower, I pat my legs dry, apply witch hazel to help reduce the size of my pores, and then moisturize with Aveeno lotion. I do this twice a week and have seen a HUGE improvement in my legs since I started doing this.
6 p.m. — My sister calls me for dinner, she made pasta. I have a bowl and C. fills us in on his workday while we eat.
7 p.m. — After dinner, my sister and I take the dogs on a walk around the neighborhood. It's beautiful out and the fresh air feels good. We stop by the mailbox because the essential oil diffuser I ordered was delivered yesterday.
7:45 p.m. — My sister is craving horchata so I offer to drive her to one of our favorite local places to get some since I need gas. We're both lucky to be getting paid our full salaries during this time so we try to support local businesses as much as possible. I fill up my tank and my sister buys us horchatas and she gets a carne asada burrito that C. can take for lunch tomorrow. $14.42
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9 p.m. — Once we get home, I read my book while I drink my horchata. I have a staff meeting tomorrow at 10 a.m. but I don't bother setting an alarm since I usually wake up by 8 or 9 on my own. I do my usual bedtime routine and I'm asleep by 10:30.
Daily Total: $14.42

Day Five

10:12 a.m. — I overslept! The one Monday I don't set an alarm and I manage to sleep for almost 12 hours! By some miracle, my principal canceled our staff meeting so I don't have to log on late. I do my normal morning routine and check my work email. Today is the start of "Teacher Appreciation Week" and I see an email from our admin about all the things they have planned for us even with social distancing. I love the building I work in and feel so lucky!
10:45 a.m. — I have leftover Cajun fries from yesterday so I decide to make a breakfast burrito. I dice some bacon and onions and sauté them. Once the bacon is crispy, I add the fries and then scramble some eggs into the mixture. It ends up being enough for three burritos so I freeze two of them for another time. I use my last banana to make a strawberry banana oat smoothie and watch Big Little Lies while I eat.
12 p.m. — Once I finish eating and cleaning the kitchen, I straighten up my room. I really need new pillows and wish I could go browsing *sigh*.
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1 p.m. — I sit at my desk to do some work. I post this weeks' online learning packets on Class Dojo and answer some messages from parents. I make and post a step by step video of how families can download the packets onto their devices since I've been getting that question a lot. I complete the packet so parents can have an answer key to refer to and post that as well. Then, I work on a teaching resource I'll need next year. It involves a lot of cutting, laminating, and organizing (my favorite types of tasks honestly) and is tedious. I didn't have time to do it when school was in session but now I'm dragging it out so I don't run out of things to keep me busy.
2:30 p.m. — I put away my work things and head out for a drive. For day one of Teacher Appreciation Week, my principal has purchased drinks for us from a local coffee stand. I get a blended "Aztec Mocha" which has spiced chocolate and it is soooo good! I take the long way home with Fleetwood Mac blasting and the windows down so I can enjoy the fresh air.
3:30 p.m. — I sit outside for a change of scenery and just enjoy my drink, read my book, and look at apartment décor ideas on Pinterest. I've never had my own living space before so I'm really looking forward to my own apartment! I also call my best friend and we catch up. She's in her last quarter of nursing school and is doing clinicals at the hospital but thankfully she is not working with COVID-19 patients.
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5:30 p.m. — My sister makes grilled cheese and tomato soup for dinner. There was an outbreak of COVID-19 at a local meat processing plant and the plant has been shut down. This morning there was a story in the news about how Costco will be limiting the amount of meat we can buy so we're going to try to make more meatless dinners to make our groceries last as long as possible. We hang out for a little while after dinner and I do the dishes since my sister cooked.
7:30 p.m. — Shower time. After my shower, I send a couple of emails and send one of my kids the learning packets directly since he emailed me to ask for them. I remember that I miss my kids and get sad again.
9 p.m. — I get in bed with my book after doing my bedtime routine and read until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

10:04 a.m. — I tossed and turned all night and didn't really fall asleep until 3 a.m., so I'm barely waking up. I have a 10 a.m. Zoom call so I call in four minutes late with my camera off.
11 a.m. — After my call, I head to the kitchen to make breakfast. I scramble a couple of eggs with chorizo and eat with jalapeños, queso fresco, and tortillas. While I eat, my sister and I start putting together a grocery list because it's time we brave Costco soon. When I'm done eating, I clean up and change into jeans and a t-shirt.
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1 p.m. — I drive to my school because yesterday a parent reached out asking for school supplies (I go alone and will not interact with anyone while I'm in my classroom). I pack up all his stuff from his desk and book box into a bag and add in a couple of notebooks, computer paper, construction paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, and a few other odds and ends that they might need for at-home learning. I label the bag and drop it off in the office. I message the parent to let her know the supplies are ready to be picked up.
2 p.m. — On my way out, I pick up a cherry limeade shaved ice from a truck parked outside our school. Our admin brought them out for day two of teacher appreciation week. This is also a local small business so I'm glad we can support them. I thank my vice principal who is greeting us (socially distanced, of course), and then head home.
2:30 p.m. — My best friend is graduating from nursing school next month so I browse online for a gift for her. I pick a nursing coloring book with funny quotes and a mug and wine glass set that says “before patients” on the mug and “after patients” on the wine glass. She's going to love it! $31.38
3:30 p.m. — I put Underworld on the TV since it's newly-added to Netflix and I half-watch while I scroll through my phone. I've seen it a bunch of times and love it so I don't mind missing bits and pieces.
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5:30 p.m. — For dinner, I make potato and chorizo sopes that we top with crema, sliced cabbage, and a fresh salsa I make out of my last tomato. I finished the last of the queso fresco this morning but that would also have been delicious on these. Can't justify going to the store for just one ingredient though.
7:30 p.m. — Once the kitchen is clean, I sit outside since the weather is beautiful. I'm trying to teach myself to do needle-point but it's not going very well.
9 p.m. — Regular bedtime routine and The Office in the background while I scroll through social media. I'm asleep by 11.
Daily Total: $31.38

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I wake up happy and refreshed! I fell asleep right away last night and slept through the night. I get up, do my morning skincare, change into jeans, an oversized sweater, and my Birkenstocks, put my hair up in a ponytail, and fill up my Hydro Flask. I have plans to do some solo work in my classroom today and I am excited to have somewhere to go.
10:30 a.m. — I pick up an early lunch on my way to work at McDonald's. I'd love to support local always but sometimes you just need fries and a McChicken. I get extra buffalo sauce, a sweet tea, and two McDoubles that I'll give to my sister when I get back home. $12.48
11 a.m. — When the governor closed our schools initially, it was only for six weeks so I didn't have my kids completely clean out their desks and book boxes. Now that they will not be returning, I get to do it all by myself. Yay. I get busy putting together packages for each kid so that they will have more at-home learning materials. I also add in granola bars, trail mix, goldfish, and juice pouches from the food pantry I keep in my classroom since that food was for them anyway and who knows if we'll have regular school in the fall.
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11:45 a.m. — I've gotten through five desks when my sister calls. We had plans to go to Costco tomorrow but she just realized the dogs are low on food so she'd like to go now. I tell her I'll pick her up at 12:30.
12:30 p.m. — I pick up my sister and we head to C.'s job to pick up the Costco card. He tells us that the National Guard is giving out food nearby. We decide to check it out and get lucky because there's no line. We get milk, two 20-pound boxes of bacon, potatoes, onions, pasta, and some pantry items (they load everything in the car for us so the whole interaction is social distanced). I text my principal and arrange to drop the food off tomorrow at school. My school has a pantry going for our families who need help with food and I'm happy I'll be able to contribute to it.
1:45 p.m. — Costco was successful! We wore our masks and gloves and were in and out very quickly. The store is limiting the number of people allowed in at one time so it was not crowded at all. We get ground beef, chicken sausage, bananas, carrots, a tres leches cake, dishwasher pods, milk, heavy cream, orange juice, potatoes, bread, mayo, juice, soda, frozen strawberries, tortillas, eggs, shredded cheese, sour cream, condensed milk, honey, flour, scent pods for the laundry, and dog food. My sister pays and I transfer her for my share. (I realize for some of you mathematicians out there that this seems like a big chunk of the money I have leftover after bills and savings, but we only do a Costco haul once a month so I won't spend on groceries again until June). $97
2:30 p.m. — Groceries are unloaded and sanitized with Clorox wipes and Lysol spray. I did all the shopping at Costco so my sister wouldn't have to touch anything (gotta keep my niece/nephew safe but she has to go with me since it's her membership) so now I'm taking a break while she puts everything away. Since it's her house, she organizes the fridge and pantry how she likes anyway.
3 p.m. — I grab half a pint of strawberry cheesecake ice cream out of the freezer and log onto Zoom for a trivia game put on by our principal for day three of teacher appreciation week!
4 p.m. — Trivia is so fun! It's nice to chat with coworkers again. Once I'm done, I take my laptop out to the breakfast bar and hang out with my sister while she finishes organizing the snacks.
5 p.m. — My sister starts dinner. She is making honey pepper chicken and mac and cheese (like they make at Applebee's) and I help her make the honey sauce and crisp up the bacon.
7 p.m. — After dinner, I help clean up the kitchen (I always like to go to bed with a clean kitchen, I hate waking up to dirty dishes in the sink). An OP on a recent money diary talked about Simcity: Skylines and made it sound so fun so I want to check it out. C. sees that it happens to be one of the free games of the month on his PS4 so he helps me get started.
8:30 p.m. — Ugh. An hour and a half later and I still can't figure out why my houses don't have power. I call it good and give C. the controller. I jump in the shower and do my leg care routine.
9:30 p.m. — Of course by the time I get out of the shower, C.'s city is booming! I make myself a cup of Sleepy Time tea with honey, do my bedtime routine, and read. I'm asleep by 11.
Daily Total: $109.48
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