A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A $76,500 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a Veterinarian who makes $76,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on crystals.
Occupation: Veterinarian
Industry: Veterinary Medicine
Age: 28
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Salary: $76,500 (plus ~ $10,000 for emergencies, extra shifts at another local animal shelter, and some blog writing)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,965 (after health insurance is taken out)/
Gender: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $113 (My boyfriend owns our house, but I pay 2/3rds of what is left on the mortgage — after our upstairs apartment tenants and our roommate pays their share — since I make more)
Loans: $0 (I owe $43,500 on a no-interest loan but am pre-paid until 2021. Scholarships and family helped me pay for school.)
Phone: $173 (for my mom and me)
Car Insurance: $109
Car Payment: $209 (I bought a new car last year. I could have paid in cash but they offered 0% APR for 48 months so I financed part of it.)
Hulu: $6
Cleaner: $105 (including tip and $5 for Alia benefits)
EZ Pass: ~$75
Retirement: $1,250
Savings: $450
Advertisement

Day One

12:05 p.m. — I wake up to the sound of the cat feeder going over. I'm super disoriented — I know the feeder goes off at 5 a.m. but it's already woken me up once. I check my phone and realize its past noon! I haven't slept this long in months. I have been struggling with back problems for the last year and usually toss and turn for a few hours until I get up around 7. Last night, I slept on the couch because my boyfriend is sick and I don't want to get sick or bother him. Maybe I need to consider sleeping on the couch more often if it helps my back? I feed my little dog, let her out to pee (thank god she has a bladder of steel), throw in a load of laundry, and make myself some cream cheese stuffed French toast with maple syrup.
1:30 p.m. — I had planned to take my dog for a few miles in the park and was going to make a loaf of focaccia bread, but my sleep schedule has really thrown me off. I'm off Mondays but I start my on-call tonight and I'm dreading it. I'm on call every fourth week. When I'm on call, I stay at my boss's mother's (E.'s) farmhouse right next to work. She's wonderful but it's cold and her new rescue dog is a disaster. This week is actually my last week of work because I quit for a better paying job with no on-call and much a better commute.
Advertisement
3 p.m. — I pack up my car and start the 50-minute drive to work. I stop halfway at Honeygrow to pick up a salad and stir fry I ordered ($24.79) and then run to Trader Joe's. I usually meal prep for my on-call but we are running low on food in the house and I was on call the week before last so I'm tired of my usual meal prep. I love to cook but I prefer to cook in my own kitchen so I just eat "quick eat" meals while I'm on call. I get blueberries, mandarin oranges, peppers, cucumbers, minestrone soup, cereal, lactose-free milk, pork buns, tamales, taquitos, corn salsa, focaccia, kombucha, coconut milk yogurt, and a kale salad. I also have cornbread crisps, homemade chocolate chip cookies, tea, and fig bars I brought from home. I put my phone on ring before driving to work and pray to the on-call gods that the rain will keep the calls away. $74.42
5 p.m. — I get to the house, let the dogs out (mine, E.'s two dogs, and the visiting student's dog) and unpack everything. I eat my Honeygrow salad and some focaccia. I save the stir-fry — hopefully I can stretch it into three meals later this week. I also drink a cup of herbal tea while sitting in front of the heater in the spare room.
7 p.m. — I make another cup of tea to eat with two of the cookies I made. I text some friends about a bachelorette party I'm planning and browse the Patagonia web specials. I want another Snap-T but need to save my clothing budget for my new job.
Advertisement
8:30 p.m. — UGHGHG. My phone rings. There's a horse colicking. I grab my farm truck and stop by the clinic to stock up on a few things. Then I drive 20 minutes to the middle of nowhere. The horse isn't doing so hot and I'm out here for a few hours before we finally make a tough decision. I end up standing in the rain in the dark for 30 minutes and am so happy to get back in my nice warm truck. My heart breaks for the family.
11:45 p.m. — I get back and I'm mentally exhausted but physically wired. I eat some more focaccia, which immediately gives me heartburn (is it the carbs? The stress?). I take a quick shower and do my skincare routine which consists of Cerave under eye cream, The Ordinary retinol, Farmacy Sleep tight balm, Lush Sleepy Lotion on my hands, and Lush Lip Service balm. My little dog snuggles in the crook of my arm.
Daily Total: $74.42

Day Two

1:30 a.m. — I toss and turn until I finally get up and go to my car for some Tums. I finally fall asleep around 2.
7:30 a.m. — Oof. I never sleep well when I'm on call. I snooze a little longer before making myself a bowl of cheerios with granola and blueberries (my usual). I wash my face and do my morning makeup routine of Oil of Olay moisturizer, ELF concealer, Milani blush, a cheap lip stain, Covergirl mascara, and an IT Cosmetics eyebrow pencil. I stop at Dunkin' and get a large hot tea. Yes, I know this is a waste of money. I pay with my app.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — OMG I have the best thing happen ever. I'm stitching up a chicken and she pops out an egg while we are in the middle of surgery! I burst out laughing. Chickens fairly often lay an egg while under anesthesia but this is one was very loud and perfectly timed. Definitely made my day.
12:30 p.m. — I heat up some stir fry to eat with a blueberry coconut yogurt. It's a delicious choice and I'm glad I paid a few more dollars for extra veggies in the stirfry. I also fill out a veterinary-specific survey on my phone and get a $25 gift card!
4 p.m. — There is a lull between some dog vaccine appointments and the sugar craving hits so I run across the street to a gas station for a Reese's. I also grab one for one of the techs and an ice cream bar for one of the other doctors. I also Venmo my housecleaner. It's a shame I'm not home to enjoy the clean house. $6.87
5:30 p.m. — I'm so glad I had some sugar because the phones won't stop ringing and I have two emergencies that are already planning on coming in this evening.
10:30 p.m. — I finally wrap up my second emergency. My first one was a hypoglycemic newborn goat kid. The owners didn't have a ton of money but she was a little more perked up by the time she left. The next one is a goat who had triplets earlier today and isn't doing so hot. The goat is too big to bring inside the clinic so I spend some time arm deep in the uterus of a goat while in the back of a trailer. Such a glamorous life. One perk is I usually make an extra $100 per call so my paycheck will be nice this week. I head back to the house, let my dog out, and microwave two pork buns (these save my life all the time while I'm on call). I shower and catch up on The Bachelor before bed. I have trouble sleeping again and fall asleep around midnight.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $6.87

Day Three

6 a.m. — My phone rings and jolts me awake. It's a woman who has a goat going into labor. I tell her to come in ASAP and she says she will meet me at the office at 9. I toss and turn for a bit and finally just decide to finish The Bachelor episode. I do my normal routine (including Dunkin') and head into work a little early to catch up on records and to be ready for the emergency.
9:45 a.m. — My emergency calls asking me if I can come to her house. I explain to her I can't because I have appointments in the office all day and that I've been sitting here waiting for her. I offer her a later slot at the office. She schedules it then calls back 10 minutes later and cancels. Ugh, I'm exhausted.
12 p.m. — I break for lunch. I have some more stir fry and another yogurt. I always work through lunch but I take a few minutes to scroll through Instagram. I also drink a Diet Coke from the office fridge.
4 p.m. — I snack on some peanut butter pretzels in between appointments.
6:30 p.m. — People are testing me today. A man tells me his dog is "resistant to fleas and ticks" because he's never seen that dog breed with fleas or ticks. Then he tells me two of his dogs have Lyme disease. Then he declines the free sample of preventative I offer. Then when I warn him that the dog food he's feeding his dogs was implicated in a FDA report as a food linked to heart failure in dogs he responds "well, my granddaughter works at PetSmart and she recommended this food and she knows a lot about this kind of stuff." I want to sob into my diploma.
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — I get home (and by home I mean the farmhouse) and shove down some minestrone and ciabatta before my phone has a chance to ring. I also eat two chocolate chip cookies, crank up my space heater, and snuggle into bed with my dog. I text a friend about maybe going to see a counselor, I've been struggling with anxiety recently. I'm hoping my job change will help with that but I figure it can't hurt to be proactive about it.
9 p.m. — AAAND my phone rings. I head in to see another hypoglycemic goat kid. I stabilize it and refer it to the local university for hospitalization.
10:45 p.m. — I take a quick shower, chug some water, and head to bed. I watch an episode of A Million Little Things. I'm usually a morning person but on-call always ruins that for me.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

8 a.m. — I hit snooze until I can't anymore. I do my routine and stop at Dunkin'. I've run out of money on my card but I have a free beverage reward!
10 a.m. — My coworker brought donuts! I eat a chocolate-covered donut. We have a group of older kittens in for surgery and they are adorable. We all play with them in between appointments.
12:30 p.m. — I have to run to our other facility to do a recheck on a goat so I know I should eat something but I'm not really that hungry. I have a yogurt and look at Figs scrubs. I just bought a pair and I feel like I can't ever wear normal scrubs again. I might invest in a second pair after I get my paycheck. My sneakers are also falling apart but those aren't any fun to shop for.
Advertisement
3:30 p.m. — I eat my kale salad while catching up on notes. I feel like I haven't been eating enough vegetables this week.
6:45 p.m. — Everyone is in a bad mood at work and it's stressing me out. I also almost get bit by a Chihuahua and a lady screams at me on the phone about a situation I have no control over. I snuggle on the floor with a sassy 11-year-old puggle patient and feel a little better.
7:30 p.m. — Finally home! I eat the rest of the minestrone, some ciabatta, and a chocolate chip cookie. I meant to eat some of the veggies I bought but somehow end up eating the cookie instead. I text the boyfriend about Valentine's Day/anniversary/last day of work celebration plans. We are going to try to get a bar seat at Zahav on Monday (James Beard Best Restaurant 2019) — wish us luck! I also text with a friend about plans for our Austin/Fort Worth trip.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — I have an ophthalmologist appointment at 7 so I wake up early. I get dressed quickly and grab a breakfast sandwich and tea at Dunkin'. The sandwich is so dry I almost choke. $8
8 a.m. — Okay so turns out I'm super dumb. I went to the wrong location and their doctor isn't available for another hour. I feel horrible because they clearly are stressed out about squeezing me in. While waiting, I run to the Dunkin' across the street and grab a dozen donuts for their staff as a thank you. $9.99
Advertisement
8:30 a.m. — I bite the bullet on buying replacement sneakers. $54.95
9 a.m. — Second dumb mistake of the day. I didn't realize I was going to get my eyes dilated (I know, but this was my first ophthalmologist appointment!). I panic, I have so much work I have to do today. My panic annoys the tech and now I feel even worse. I consent to getting eyes dilated and get a clean bill of health. I have a $50 copay. $50
10 a.m. — I head to the shelter for a few hours. My clinic has a contract with them and I love working there. However, I do learn the hard way that it's impossible to do an eye exam on an angry cat in the dark with your eyes dilated.
12 p.m. — I call my mom on the way back to work. My coworker buys me a BLT and I scarf it down with a Diet Coke and then have two Reese's valentine hearts. Clearly my budget and my food choices are taking a little bit of a hit today.
7 p.m. — This afternoon was an absolute disaster. We are slammed and I'm way behind on everything. I also spend 20 minutes wrestling two dogs for a nail trim and come out of the room covered in hair and out of breath. I drink a Sprite and eat some cold fries because I don't care anymore. Today's also my official last day in the clinic. My staff gets me a small cake, a candle, and a hand-painted chicken egg!
Advertisement
8:40 p.m. — I stay late at work finishing up records. I'm not really hungry but I feel like I need to eat something. I have a small bowl of Cheerios.
Daily Total: $122.94

Day Six

8 a.m. — I sleep until the last minute. I do my usual routine and stop for a tea. I know this is a habit I need to stop with my new job. $2.38
1 p.m. — The shelter is relatively slow. I catch up on some cases, vaccinate a few animals, and say goodbye to everyone. I also carry around my favorite kitten for a while until my technician shoves her in her hoodie pocket. Then I head back to the clinic for another goat emergency. While I'm waiting I heat up a tamale to eat with corn salsa.
3:30 p.m. — So turns out the baby goat is totally fine, they just have never had a goat before and freaked out after spending too much time with Dr. Google. I run home, let my dog out, and then head over to an alpaca farm to pick up some clippers I forgot last week. I call my best friend while driving. One of our friends is coming into town unexpectedly on Tuesday and surprisingly a bunch of us have off work so I'm so excited to hang out with everyone!
6 p.m. — E. fixes me a steak with mushrooms and onions. While she cooks I eat a few peppers and cucumbers. The dogs stare lovingly at my steak.
Advertisement
9:30 p.m. — I browse online for some new house items. I'm getting a relatively large amount of money for my two weeks of on-call this month and I am also getting a nice little tax refund. I'm putting most of it in savings but I've been wanting to upgrade our house a bit. We bought a beautiful Victorian townhome about six years ago and furnished it almost entirely from the thrift store, stuff from our families, and yard sale items. I'll buy everything slowly over time after also scoping out Craigslist, a local vintage place (Jinxed! It was mentioned in a previous Philly diary), and thrift shops. I buy some crystals on Amazon to jazz up an antique chandelier I got for free from a Facebook Swap group. Whenever I'm on call, I tend to spend too much time online shopping, but I don't spend much on anything else since there isn't much to do. I have to stay within 20 minutes of the clinic while I'm on call and it's a pretty boring suburb. $30.28
Daily Total: $32.66

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I'm technically off today but I'm still on call. I sleep in and then snuggle with my dog for a while. I adopted her about a year ago and she's one of the very best things in my life. She was a scraggly stray that was picked up by a rescue and brought into my old job to be spayed. I fell head over heels for her and take her everywhere with me.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — I head to a local Starbucks so I can catch up on records. I also write up a little document on some of the shelter dogs I've been managing so that hopefully it helps the transition with me leaving. I jam out to the Decemberists Pandora station and text my sister-in-law about us going to see them this summer. I drink a brewed Chai tea.
1:30 p.m. — I stop at a Goodwill on the way home. I've never been to this one and its massive. I find an Express Portofino shirt for $1 that I like but the checkout line is 20 people deep and moving super slowly. I'm hungry so I decide to just head home instead of waiting. I heat up some taquitos to eat with corn salsa and the cucumbers and peppers. When I'm on call, I don't like to wait until I'm starving to eat just in case I get called and have to hurry out in a rush. I play with the dogs for a while and clean up a bit.
6 p.m. — I run back to the clinic to do some last-minute paperwork. I eat two pork buns while I work.
9 p.m. — My old roommate texts me to see if I want to go to a candle-making bar in Philly. It looks like fun and is a good excuse for us to hang out. She books tickets and I Venmo her for my portion. $40
Daily Total: $40
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences 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: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series

Button: Register To Vote