A Week In Cincinnati, OH, On A $53,372 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 archivist working in health care who makes $53,372 per year and spends some of her money this week on late-night pizza.
Occupation: Archivist
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 30
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Salary: $53,372
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,429.04 (All below listed expenses are paid for by me, and will all continue to be paid by me until my husband finishes school. His PhD "salary" is about $29,000 a year.)
Side Gig Income: ~$300/month
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,075 (I rent a one-bedroom apartment that my husband lives in with me half the time, since he attends school in a different state.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents covered my tuition.)
Roth 403(b): $287.40
Health Insurance: $87.10
Auto Insurance: $185.58 (I had an accident last year that more than doubled my insurance payments.)
Renters' Insurance: $12
Internet/TV: $111.83 (My mom got me a TV subscription for Christmas and sends me the $15 each month it costs to bundle with my internet.)
Cell Phone: $32 (I pay my parents each month, since I'm still on their plan.)
Gas & Electric: $100
Church Donation: $5
Savings: $100 (We have about $35,000 saved that will someday go towards a house...)

Day One

5 a.m. — I feed my cat, drink some water, throw on workout clothes, and drop off the last of our wedding thank yous in the mailbox on my way to run stairs. After showering and some chocolate milk, I jump back into bed for a quick cuddle with my husband who is still in bed and so very warm. My cat has cuddle-sense and immediately joins us. I get dressed and make a peanut butter banana smoothie for breakfast while my husband polishes off the key lime pie I made for him after he successfully defended his master's thesis last week. He packs to head back to school. (He's getting his PhD at a university in another state — oh, the joys of long distance marriage!) Then I head to work.
7:05 a.m. — The work day begins with emails and a cup of tea from our office machine. A friend emails me a job posting, but I've already seen it and know I have no chance at it based on my recent failed attempts to work for that organization.
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11:45 a.m. — I finish a morning meeting about the next oral history I'm producing with my interviewers and interviewee. (Wow, talk about gossip. IUDs for earrings?) This one is going to take some finessing. I eat my spinach salad with turkey, peppers, and cucumber ranch dressing and an apple from home as I read Jilly Cooper's The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous. Ugh, Lysander is a bore.
1 p.m. — Cataloging meeting minutes bores me, so I grab Biscoff cookies that I have in my snack drawer to perk me up. My office mates like to tease me about all my snacks, but you don't see me wasting money on overpriced food in the cafeteria, now do you?
2 p.m. — I get another cup of tea as a medical staff member comes by with a donation for the archives. My intern is super excited to see something that isn't digital, and we lovingly look through the box. This somehow leads to a conversation about best practices versus reality in archives, and I decide this donation will feature in my next exhibit.
4 p.m. — I leave work and rush home to feed my cat. (Aww, my husband actually washed the pie plate instead of leaving it in the sink. He DOES learn!) After a quick dinner of a cheese quesadilla and jalapeno chips, I head out to my side gig archiving materials for a local business founder. While working extra hours isn't fun, this job is the only reason my husband and I were able to afford a honeymoon. All the additional money I earn now will go towards a down payment for a house in a couple years. It's slow going, and it will be even slower if my mother-in-law needs financial assistance while she looks for a new job.
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9 p.m. — Four hours later, I'm mentally done and head home for the Karamel Sutra Core ice cream from Ben & Jerry's that's in my freezer while I register my wedding frames for breakage replacement and review all the photo books from our wedding. Everyone always talks about how much you have to do to plan a wedding, but no one ever seems to talk about the months of work that follow the big event.
10:20 p.m. — After reading one more chapter in my book, I get water and cuddle with my cat as I pass out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5 a.m. — Ugh, it's pouring rain. I feed my cat and hop on my erg machine instead of going for a run. Yay! I'm over three million lifetime meters! I want to beat my husband to the five million meter club, but even my large head start probably won't help me. He ergs faster, longer, and more often than I do. I have my customary glass of post-workout chocolate milk.
7:10 a.m. — I'm at work, but I drink my peanut butter banana smoothie in the car so I can listen to Second Date Update on the radio. This one is a bit anti-climactic. I don't understand why you would wear mildew-smelling jeans out to a bar in the first place? I head inside and have a cup of tea as the work day starts.
11:45 a.m. — My morning meeting ends late. I have to leave early today, so I eat my lunch from home of spinach salad with turkey, peppers, and cucumber ranch, a side of apple and fruit snacks while looking over the first draft of oral history questions my interviewer prepared. These are more statements than questions. They need serious editing, and I'm quite unmotivated.
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2:45 p.m. — I have to duck out early for my car maintenance appointment — I need my oil changed and tires rotated. They tell me to only worry about the plastic making noise at high speeds if it gets worse and then remove a screw from my tire, thankfully not causing any substantial damage. $68.43
4 p.m. — My car appointment ends way earlier than I thought it would, so I head over to my parents' house. My father makes guac and my mom hands me a glass of wine because god forbid I'm in their house for more than five minutes without alcohol. I show them my honeymoon photo book, give my dad his Father's Day present (a framed photo of our us from my wedding), and pet their dog. I took care of her when she was a young puppy while my parents were on vacation and have been her favorite person in the world ever since.
5:30 p.m. — Massage time! A birthday gift from my mom to help me recover from some running races...over a year and a half ago. I've never had a massage and am not big on physical contact with other people. It feels okay, but I don't think I'll make this a regular thing, since my husband massages me for free. The massage is paid for, but I tip $10. $10
7 p.m. — Back at my parents' house, I'm fed a delicious dinner of spinach salad, pork chops, and — of course — more wine. My dad offers me five different types of Talenti gelato for dessert that I happily help myself to. My mom and I see that my wedding florist posted a photo of my ice cream table from our wedding on Facebook. I served Graeter's ice cream at my wedding instead of having a cake, and it was glorious.
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9:15 p.m. — I call my husband as I drive home from my parents' with a leftover pork chop and spinach salad in tow. We catch up and he tells me that he had another paper accepted to a journal. I don't think I will ever understand why being published is important if you don't plan on staying in academia, but this is great news. I contemplate having warm cookies delivered to his office again, even though I did that last week for his thesis.
10:15 p.m. — I fill a bottle of water to keep next to me and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $78.43

Day Three

5 a.m. — Hump day! Ugh, I really need to be better about being in bed by 10 p.m. The sleep shortage is getting to me. I feed my cat, throw my husband's sweaty undies in the wash, and head out the door for a short four-mile run.
6:30 a.m. — While stretching, I drink my glass of chocolate milk and check my email. None of the job openings on Indeed look promising, but some items on my wishlist at Modcloth are on sale! I purchase a skirt and dress and qualify for free shipping. I have store credit, so even though it's over $100, I only owe $59.17. $59.17
7:10 a.m. — I get a cup of coffee from the office machine to fuel my morning and eat my onion bagel with cream cheese from home while settling in for the day. I get the go-ahead to buy more supplies and recording equipment for audio-only oral histories before the end of the fiscal year. I'll miss having this budget when I go somewhere else; this kind of financial freedom is not typical in archives.
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12 p.m. — Our department eats lunch together during our weekly staff meeting. I eat my home-packed lunch of a spinach salad with peppers, shredded chicken, and cucumber ranch dressing. Though I brought a dark chocolate Bounty bar with me, I decide to save it for a more emotional time of need.
1:30 p.m. — The headache I've been ignoring for hours is now distracting. It's probably the lack of sleep and hot coffee, which has a tendency to make me feel depressed and/or in pain. Strangely, iced coffee or soda sometimes helps. We have some leftover soft drinks from our last board meeting in the refrigerator, so I snag a Diet Coke.
4 p.m. — Time to go! When I get home, I feed my cat, eat the leftover pork chop from last night, put my husband's laundry away, and head out the door to work.
9 p.m. — Another four-hour long shift does nothing to help my mental and physical state. My legs are so tight from sitting all day that I feel like crying. I call my husband on my way home and actually start crying when I bemoan our current situation and how I'm jealous of all my friends who can afford fancy vacations "just because," new houses, and babies. Meanwhile my husband is a student in a different state, we're stuffing ourselves in my tiny apartment, and my job is slowly killing my soul. He tells me we just aren't there yet, but that does nothing to help my despair. I eat some more Ben & Jerry's as I do laundry, write thank yous for newly arrived wedding gifts (just when I thought I was finished...), and end up applying to two new jobs to give myself hope for the future.
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10:20 p.m. — After waiting to put the wash in the dryer, I sleep with my cat. So much for going to bed early.
Daily Total: $59.17

Day Four

5 a.m. — My legs still feel awful, but my despair is less. My cat is meowing to be fed (it's not like he doesn't have dry food out all day, the little bugger...). I take care of him, put away my now-dry clothes, and head out the door for another short four-mile run.
6:30 a.m. — The run loosens up my legs a bit, and I drink chocolate milk before using my foam roller. It hurts, but I force myself to do it anyway. I see an email that my husband's friend bought him the StrokeCoach from our registry. I'll make him write that thank you note...
7:15 a.m. — Tea at work with my onion bagel and cream cheese from home. I need to draw up my supply order for the next few months.
11:15 a.m. — Time for lunch! I eat the leftover spinach salad my parents gave me and an apple at my desk. I finish The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, which brings my grand total of books read for the year to 45. Then I decide I need to eat a Cadbury Twirl. I only have three left from our honeymoon, so I try to savor them.
12:30 p.m. — Our office is really cold today, so I make a mug of tea to drink while writing exhibit labels.
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4:10 p.m. — I head home to feed my cat, put away more laundry, and pack for my friend's wedding this weekend. Then, I walk downtown to meet my friend for beer. Why hello, $3 drafts! We catch up but don't hang out for too long, since we're both exhausted. $8
8:30 p.m. — While I was walking home, my husband arrived and went to shoot hoops. I finish off my Karamel Sutra Ben & Jerry's while making a list of what I need to pack tomorrow before we leave. (Must. Not. Forget. Bridesmaid. Dress.)
9:45 p.m. — My husband holds me while I attempt to sleep with my cat's butt in my face.
Daily Total: $8

Day Five

5 a.m. — Cat is fed and run is completed. I've decided to take a break from running the next couple days while I'm out of town for the wedding to see if that helps my knees at all.
6:45 a.m. — I'm not hungry for a substantial breakfast right now, so I drink an extremely large glass of chocolate milk to tide me over until mid-morning.
7:15 a.m. — I make a cup of tea at the office and am annoyed to see that my boss has not responded to my urgent email regarding my intern's time clock. My boss is nice and a big supporter of work-life balance, which I greatly appreciate. However, she always seems to be on her "life" schedule when I need her to do something at work.
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12 p.m. — I eat lunch I brought from home (peppers with dressing and sparkling water) with a coworker. I'm not very hungry and end up saving most of it for another day. As soon as we finish, I leave work to pick up my husband and head to Columbus for the wedding rehearsal. I stop to fill up gas along the way. $20.04
6:30 p.m. — My brother-in-law covers the $4 Uber ride from the rehearsal to dinner. The rehearsal dinner is delicious. I drink some beer and champagne while eating sliders (crab cake and buffalo chicken for me!), mac and cheese, wedge salad, and — of course — Buckeyes for dessert. I get to catch up with my sister and friends who don't live in Ohio anymore.
Daily Total: $20.04

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, put on my getting ready outfit and head to the bridal suite. I eat half a bagel with cream cheese and drink a couple of mimosas that the bride's mom brought as we take turns having out hair and makeup done. (The bride pays for these expenses as a gift.) We have a great view of the Pride parade from our windows. We think they can't see us, until people start waving. Naturally, we wave back.
11 a.m. — Jimmy John's is delivered for lunch, courtesy of the bride's mom. I enjoy my Turkey Tom with hot peppers while drinking a Rhinegeist Bubbles. While we get dressed, we discover missing hooks in a few girls' dresses, and some girls' bras won't stay covered by their dresses. I have a sewing kit that solves the hook issues and use my stash of safety pins to attach bras to dresses so they won't ride up.
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1:30 p.m. — The bride is ready and we head to a local bar to drink more beer, play giant Jenga, and take photos. There are people in some awesome getups for Pride, so we make sure to get them in some photos with us. The bartenders tell us our bride is their kind of bride. She's awesome, so I'm not surprised. We'd like to hang out all day, but we finish our beers (paid for by the brides's mother...again) before heading to the statehouse for the ceremony.
4 p.m. — Yeah, they're married! We take photos around the statehouse before hopping into our party van and going to a local bar for more photos. While we wait our turns for photos, we get drinks, courtesy of the groom's parents. I get a whiskey sour. It's not the best I've ever had, but it's tasty. My husband texts me about a delicious beer he ordered at a bar while hanging out with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my friends. I love being there for my bride, but I wish I had more time to hang out with my family and other friends. I don't see them very often.
6:40 p.m. — We miss the cocktail hour, but the hotel put some plates of hors d'oeuvres in the bridal suite for us to snack on quickly before we go downstairs to make our entrance. I get to my table to see that my husband already has a beer waiting for me. I knew there was a reason I married him. I enjoy the salad, but not my main course. Luckily, everyone wants to try it anyway and trades me bites of theirs. Knowing I'll need the energy, I trade my white wedding cake for my husband's slice of chocolate. We currently only have two life rules: 1) I get to claim my favorite of whatever drink/food we both order as my own, and 2) Always stop when the fresh donut sign is on at Krispy Kreme. I grab another beer and start to dance the night away with my husband, the flower girl, and anyone else I can drag onto the floor.
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12 a.m. — The wedding is over! I go upstairs to change out of my heels and see that my husband surprised me with a six-pack of the beer he had earlier. I can't wait until we drink some together back in Cincinnati. But first, we walk about a mile to a bar with late night pizza. There are tons of people out. Apparently my blush bridesmaid dress looks like a wedding dress, because several people congratulate me. I wonder if they are confused by my husband's lack of suit Anyway, my friend, sister, and her husband are already in line, so they offer to order for us while we sit. My husband is dehydrated and exhausted, so I order him a Sprite. The bartender only has tiny cups, so he gives me the Sprite for free. I Venmo my brother-in-law for our slices. $8
Daily Total: $8

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — Ugh, six hours of sleep was not enough. We head down to the complimentary buffet breakfast. After some sausage, vegetables, and chorizo hash, the bride makes an appearance. I tell her how beautiful she was yesterday and that she has to come visit in Cincinnati so we can go to our favorite bar together.
12 p.m. — It's time to check out and head home. I tell myself I love my friend and she'll only get married once when I see the bill. $470.66
1 p.m. — We stop at the outlet mall on the way home. My husband buys himself some flip-flops and a pair of pants. I try on a bunch of items but don't end up buying anything.
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3 p.m. — Once we're back near Cincinnati, I fill up my gas and stop to return $260 worth of clothing that didn't work out. $20.83
4 p.m. — My cat is super excited to see us. I feed and take care of him. My husband scavenges together a meal of bagels, cheese, chips, and salsa for himself as I unpack. I'm not terribly hungry, so I have a few bites of everything.
7:20 p.m. — I'm not feeling so great, and figure it's hunger. I make scrambled eggs and throw it in a tortilla with some salsa, Sriracha, and cheese from the fridge. I feel better already. My husband and I eat some ice cream and split one of the beers he bought for me before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $491.49
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