A Week In Cleveland, OH, On A $27,000 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 children's librarian who makes $27,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on cranberry juice.
Occupation: Children's Librarian
Industry: Public Library
Age: 28
Location: Cleveland, OH
Salary: $27,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,142.25. ($99 is taken out of each paycheck for my health insurance.)
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $300. (I live with my boyfriend in a house he owns, but I pay him monthly for the mortgage.)
Loan Payments: $357. (This payment is for a personal loan I took out to consolidate the credit card debt I hope to pay off by the time I'm 30. I am extremely lucky to have no student loans – my father teaches at the university where I attended school, so I got a tuition waver.)
Netflix: $0. (We use my mom's.)
Spotify Premium: $10.75
MoviePass: $9.95
Car Insurance: $47
Savings: ~$100
Phone Bill: ~$75
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Day One

8 a.m. — It's the weekend, so I get to wake up without an alarm! I feed the dog and take him out, brush my teeth, chug water, then change into yoga clothes and do a 20-minute Yoga With Adriene video. I love her, and the session makes my stiff knees feel a million times better.
8:45 a.m. — I go downstairs to make breakfast and see that my boyfriend, S.*, is back from his weekly grocery/bakery/Starbucks run. We have different eating habits, so we shop separately most of the time. He got me a scone at the bakery but I decide to save it for later in favor of my usual oats, almond butter, fruit, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cinnamon combination. I also boil some water for tea. I spent way too much money on tea recently and am slowly working my way through my stash before allowing myself to buy any more. I am a tea fiend! S. and I watch a few episodes of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee on Netflix while I eat.
10:45 a.m. — It's time for me to leave for my biweekly therapy appointment. I really like my therapist and am so relieved to have finally found a good fit. Therapy, yoga, and a small dosage of medication really help to keep my once-debilitating anxiety and depression at bay. I am thrilled to find out I have a small copay today as I've just met my deductible for the year! $10
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12 p.m. — I arrive back home to find the house empty. S. and his dad have gone to Home Depot to get more supplies for the sliding barn door they're trying to install in our dining room. I decide to eat my bakery scone, which does nothing for my hunger, so I preheat the oven for a frozen pizza. S.'s sister got us a Blue Apron gift card for Christmas, and the shipment arrived while I was at therapy but I'm saving it for dinners later in the week. While the oven is preheating, I make sure to cancel my Blue Apron membership because mama can't afford this stuff every week!
12:45 p.m. — Pizza is done and S. and his dad are back. I take my food upstairs to keep the dog company so he doesn't get in the way while they work. I catch up on a few episodes of This Is Us.
3:30 p.m. — It's time to leave to grab my friend to go see Phantom Thread. She's already seen it but wants to see it again. We both use our Movie Passes. I buy a small root beer at the concession stand. $4.50
6:15 p.m. — Movie was amazing but twisted! My friend feels like eating pancakes, so we decide to go to Bob Evans for brinner. I get two pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon, and it hits the spot. We catch up on life and really enjoy ourselves despite the snail-paced service. $8.83
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7:45 p.m. — I drop off my friend and spend the short drive home soaking up more of my audiobook: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. I'm on the last chapter and have thoroughly loved it. I make a mental note to grab the next volume in the series at work on Monday.
8 p.m. — I am back home and take the dog out for one last relief before locking up for the night. S. and I sit on the couch for a bit and I fill him in on the movie. I start getting a headache (and then realize I haven't had a single vegetable today, whoops) and we decide to head to bed. I wash my face, moisturize, brush my teeth, and pass out.
Daily Total: $23.33

Day Two

8 a.m. — This just seems to be the time my body wakes up when I don't have to set an alarm. I feed and let out the dog and realize I'm too hungry to do yoga, so I save that for later and make my oats.
9 a.m. — S. and I decide to put off our Sunday responsibilities and go to the coffee shop where my sister works to hang out for a little bit. We used to go every Sunday, but the holidays and my work schedule made things wonky. Unfortunately, his car won't start and it's blocking mine in, so we go back inside to wait for AAA. I throw a load of laundry in the washer and sit down to write my grocery list for the week.
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9:45 a.m. — AAA arrives and thinks something is wrong with the starter, so they leave for other jobs and say they'll be back to tow it to the shop in about an hour. I make kukicha (Japanese twig tea) that sort of tastes like coffee since we probably won't make it to the coffee shop today. I remember I have a mileage reimbursement check from work (only $10.97, but every penny helps), so I deposit that using my bank app.
10:15 a.m. — I finally decide to just make easy burrito bowls this week since I have a bunch of pinto beans taking up space in the pantry. I take out the beans to soak and finish up my grocery list. I'm feeling antsy, so I wipe down the bathroom, my yoga mat, and a few other surfaces around the house.
10:45 a.m. — The tow truck is here! Our driveway is very narrow and I anxiously watch it pull in while the dog goes nuts barking. It takes about 15 minutes for them to figure out how to get the car on the truck (is that normal??), but they finally do it and are off to the shop. Since it's Sunday, they don't have any mechanics in today, so the car won't even be looked at until tomorrow morning. Luckily, my boyfriend can easily work from home.
11:30 a.m. — We head out to Trader Joe's. S. grabs a frozen pizza and green tea mochi while I stock up for the week: vegetable broth, frozen strawberries, jalapeños, diced green chilies, salsa, dates, oranges, oats, spinach, avocados, GoMacro bars, eggs, and cheese, plus a big bottle of ale as consolation for S.'s car situation. $55.78
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12:30 p.m. — Back home, I unload the groceries and decide to make one of our Blue Apron meals while the ingredients are still fresh. I choose the one that will take the most time: sweet potato and mushroom bao with hoisin mayo and cabbage slaw. It is more labor intensive than I tend to like when cooking, but it turns out pretty well and even S., who is not a fan of mushrooms, likes it. I don't feel like doing the dishes after all that cooking, so I just throw them in the sink to deal with later.
2:15 p.m. — S. and I are antsy and decide to venture out to the adult toy store to get a toy we'd been thinking about for awhile. We find it pretty easily, he pays for it, and we go back home to test it out. Success ;-)
4 p.m. — I realize the pinto beans have been soaking for longer than I meant them to, so I dump them in my Instant Pot with half a chopped onion, garlic, and a jalapeño. I finally deal with the dishes, fold the load of laundry I put in this morning, and wash off my makeup brushes. Then I go online and look for a new garlic press because mine is complete crap. I end up getting one through a coworker's Pampered Chef site. It's more than I thought I would spend, but she's had hers for years so I hope I'm making a good investment. $28
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4:45 p.m. — While waiting for the beans to cook, I watch the most recent episode of This Is Us. Those last five minutes...woof.
6 p.m. — It's dinnertime for doggo. He finishes his meal in 30 seconds flat and I head upstairs to do a 40-minute yoga video. Ahhhhh.
6:45 p.m. — The beans are done, and I whiz them with an immersion blender until they're smooth. I decide to save the burrito bowls for Tuesday's lunch, as I need to make another Blue Apron meal that I'll have the rest of tomorrow. This one (pesto and goat cheese fusilli with chard) is much less time-intensive and much more my speed. It's delicious!
7:30 p.m. — After I clean up the kitchen and take out the dog, S. and I watch a few episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and the first episode of GLOW, which we've been meaning to watch for awhile.
9:10 p.m. — We're both tired, and I have to get up a little earlier tomorrow to shower. A new construction project is starting on my route to work, so I also have to make sure I leave enough time for any delays that might cause. I wash my face, moisturize, and brush my teeth. S. and I chat until we both fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $83.78

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I hit snooze several times.
6 a.m. — I finally drag myself out of bed and downstairs to feed and take out the dog. Back inside, I jump in the shower, brush my teeth, moisturize, dry my hair, and get dressed. While I put on my makeup and straighten my hair, I listen to NPR's Up First to catch up on headlines.
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6:50 a.m. — After making the bed, I head downstairs to make a slight variation of my standard oats. This morning's version features cacao powder, which was an excellent choice. Tea brews in my travel mug while I eat. I grab an orange, leftover pasta, and a GoMacro bar and am out the door at 7:25, ten minutes later than I planned to leave. It turns out to be fine, though, because it looks like construction hasn't even started and I have time to get gas before I get to work. $20.17
8:20 a.m. — I arrive at work, put my lunch in the fridge, turn on the kids' computers and iPad, and settle in at my desk to catch up on emails and print out more coloring pages. The other children's librarian arrives and we dive into working on a grant proposal that's due next week.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! It was a slow morning patron-wise, but it went by quickly because we were able to get a lot of work on the grant done. I go upstairs to our staff room and heat up my pasta. I spend the hour eating, reading, and catching up with S. via text. I also buy two boxes of Samoas from a coworker's daughter who's selling Girl Scout cookies. I bought Thin Mints and Tagalongs from our neighbor last week and can't believe I forgot to get Samoas! Payment isn't due until they come in March.
4:30 p.m. — Time to go home! I grab the next Incorrigible Children audiobook as well as another new book I want to read and head out to my car, which is covered in snow. Nothing a quick scrape won't fix. Traffic is a little slower than usual and I arrive home just after 5:30, in time to take S. to the shop to pick up his car. They didn't find anything wrong with it, but they did replace a recalled airbag, and he doesn't have to pay for anything.
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6:05 p.m. — By the time I get home, I'm pretty hungry and it's clear that yoga is going to have to wait. I start on my final Blue Apron meal (spicy black bean enchiladas), as well as quinoa to add to my burrito bowls this week. As I'm dicing an onion, the knife slips and gives me a pretty nasty cut on my index finger. I run upstairs to grab a bandage, cursing my carelessness.
6:45 p.m. — I discover Blue Apron has forgotten to include the tortillas for the enchiladas, so I improvise and decide to make nachos instead. I don't usually drink on weeknights, but I think a glass of wine is in order. S. opens a bottle of cabernet and gives me a generous pour. I sip it as I finish cooking the food.
7:05 p.m. — Nachos and quinoa are done, and both turned out pretty well! At this point I'm too lazy to put the nachos on a plate, so I stand at the stove and eat them straight from the baking sheet. No shame.
7:45 p.m. — The kitchen is clean and it is time to veg. No yoga for me tonight, although I'll probably regret it tomorrow. S. and I watch two episodes of GLOW.
9:15 p.m. — We get ready for bed and say maybe two sentences to each other before we're both out.
Daily Total: $20.17

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — The dog needs to go out and I have to prep my lunch, so I drag myself out of bed. No matter how early I go to sleep, it's always hard to leave my cocoon! I feed and let out the dog, brush my teeth, moisturize, get dressed, and do my makeup and hair while listening to Up First.
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7:05 a.m. — I head downstairs to make breakfast and tea (same as yesterday) and assemble a burrito bowl for lunch: beans, quinoa, shredded cheese, spinach, and avocado. S. is back at work today, so the dog needs to be crated. I bribe him with a treat and head out the door. It snowed a few inches overnight and traffic is moving slowly, but the roads aren't too bad. I notice a sign saying the construction project has been moved to next week – construction around here never starts or finishes on time!
8:32 a.m. — I arrive at work a few minutes late. I've got an hour before we open and I use this time to do last minute prep for this morning's preschool story time. (I do story time and a craft once a week.)
12:15 p.m. — I am extra hungry after my larger-than-usual story time crowd this morning. I love doing story time and it made me so happy to see my regulars as well as new faces today. My burrito bowl is delicious and I spend my lunch hour reading.
4:30 p.m. — Time to go home! I eat a GoMacro bar and listen to my audiobook on the drive.
5:30 p.m. — I change into yoga clothes and do a 30-minute yoga video. Yoga usually leaves me feeling better, but tonight, certain poses make me feel anxious and nauseated. I make it through the entire video, but need to spend about 45 minutes calming down before I'm ready to eat, so I decide to call my mom. We text every day and talk on the phone about once a week. She only lives about 45 minutes away, but with our different work schedules, I only see her two or three times a month. We catch up and I start to get hungry for dinner.
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6:45 p.m. — I reheat the leftover nachos and eat way too many while watching The IT Crowd with S.
8 p.m. — I have heartburn, ugh. I take out the dog, shower, dry my hair, brush my teeth, and get in bed. S. and I have a long chat about money, which we try to make a point of talking about regularly. I really enjoy my job but it's no secret that the pay isn't great. It's my first librarian job out of grad school and I feel like there's still so much for me to learn and do before I start looking elsewhere. We talk about areas where I can cut down my spending (ahem, groceries) and ways I can make extra money on the side. It's a tough conversation to have, but I'm glad we're able to do it.
9:30 p.m. — I read Anne of Avonlea until my eyes start to droop. I loved Anne of Green Gables as a kid but never got around to reading the other books, which is a shame, because Anne Shirley is one of my very favorite fictional characters!
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6 a.m. — I don't have work until 9 a.m. on Wednesdays, so I tend to sleep in. Today I hit the snooze button for 45 minutes. I had an awful dream about my dog dying and when I finally get out of bed, I'm in a funky mood.
6:45 a.m. — It's windy AF when I take out the dog, but I'm so glad my bad dream wasn't real that I really don't mind. Back inside, I start my usual routine of dressing, listening to the news, and doing my hair and makeup before heading downstairs for breakfast.
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7:30 a.m. — I make the same breakfast and tea as yesterday and check my bank app. I see my federal tax refund has hit my account and I immediately transfer 90% of it to my debt. I keep the other 10% as a small cushion for my checking account until I get paid on Friday, at which point I'll transfer the rest to debt.
8 a.m. — Time to hit the road. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place once again keeps me company on my commute.
1:15 p.m. — I eat another burrito bowl and exchange cute animal videos with my coworkers.
5 p.m. — We close early on Wednesdays, so everyone leaves at 5. The extra half hour always seems so long! I've been feeling kind of off all day and can't wait to get home. First, I have to stop at Target to get bread and more B12 – I have been out of my supplements for a few weeks now and can definitely tell a difference in my overall energy levels. Maybe that's why I've felt weird all day. Luckily, I hate the way the Target near my house is laid out and so I'm rarely, if ever, tempted to get more than I need. $19.85
6:20 p.m. — Back home and in need of a good stretch session and maybe deep breathing exercises. I forgo a video tonight and spend 20 minutes using my Calm app and doing whatever yoga poses I think will feel good.
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6:45 p.m. — The only thing that sounds good to me for dinner is toast, so that's what I make, with a little bit of ghee. S. and I sit on the couch and catch up on our days, and I look over my budget for next month.
8 p.m. — We head upstairs to get ready for bed. I'm feeling wired and tired. S. and I talk some more before he goes to sleep, and I read for a long time to calm down my brain. Today wasn't my best day mental health-wise, but I've had way worse, and tomorrow is another day.
Daily Total: $19.85

Day Six

7:40 a.m. — I get to sleep in even more today because I don't work until noon on Thursdays. I check the weather and Instagram before getting out of bed. (I try not to do this most days, but clearly I don't always succeed.) I feed and take out the dog and then change into yoga clothes for a 20-minute video and 10 minutes of meditation.
8:30 a.m. — I feel so much better than yesterday and am really hungry, too! I realize I haven't seen my sister in awhile even though she lives just 15 minutes away. She's five years younger than I am, and while we fought a lot growing up, we get along really well now. I text her to see what she's up to, and she offers to come over to make me pancakes! I eat an orange to hold me over, then shower and get dressed. My sister arrives and gets started on the pancakes, and I make us tea. We catch up on each others' lives.
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10:05 a.m. — The pancakes were delicious, and I'm so glad I got to see my sister. She leaves to get errands done before she heads into work this afternoon, and I go upstairs to dry my hair and finish getting ready. I decide I don't feel like listening to the news today and I jam out to Broadway tunes instead.
11 a.m. — I leave for work and fill up my tank on the way. $23.42
12 p.m. — Once I arrive, I gather everything I need for my monthly outreach visit to one of the preschools in the area. I do story time at three preschools throughout the month, and today is my big one, where I do five 30-minute sessions in a row.
12:30 p.m. — I listen to the third Incorrigible Children audiobook on my way.
3 p.m. — I am exhausted, but that was fun! I head back to the library and work on a “superb owl” display of owl books since the Super Bowl is this weekend, then take my lunch before the other children's librarian leaves for the day.
8 p.m. — Time to go home! I am so ready.
9 p.m. — I arrive at home to the news that the dog has gotten into S.'s hand cream, and I'm worried he may be sick later. He seems fine right now, so I get ready for bed and S. and I talk until we fall asleep.
Daily Total: $23.42

Day Seven

12:15 a.m. — I wake up to use the bathroom and hear the dog gagging under the bed. When he stops, I shine my flashlight under there but don't see anything. This song and dance continues for several hours, and neither S. nor I get any sleep until about 3:30 a.m.
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7:30 a.m. — Thankfully, I don't have to work today, but I do have a doctor's appointment about 45 minutes away. The dog seems back to normal and gobbles up his breakfast. I make eggs and toast and head out the door.
9 a.m. — I'm early to the doctor, so I read in the waiting room. It's just a med check, so it's a quick appointment. I've met my deductible for the year, so no copay.
9:30 a.m. — I head over to my mom's house, which is nearby, to let out her dogs and hopefully take a little nap before meeting my dad and stepmom for lunch later. I end up starting a new book (The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle) and read for almost two hours.
11:15 a.m. — I drive across town to my dad and stepmom's house, and we go to a nearby diner for lunch. I get a spinach omelet, fruit, an English muffin, and chamomile tea. My dad pays.
1:15 p.m. — Back home. I throw a load of laundry in the washer and flop on the couch to watch a few episodes of Golden Girls. I spend a good chunk of the afternoon catching up with Sophia, Rose, Dorothy, and Blanche.
5:15 p.m. — S. and I meet a friend at the coffee shop where my sister works, and our drinks are free.
6 p.m. — We decide we're hungry, so we plan to meet back up at a tavern a few blocks away. It's freezing, so walking is not an option. Parking is awful in this part of town, but we find a spot for $5 - a steal on a Friday night. $5
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7:30 p.m. — Dinner was great! I got a chicken avocado BLT and a tasty beer. We all pay separately for our meals. On the way home we stop at Whole Foods to pick up cranberry juice and pills because I feel like I have a UTI coming on. Hemp seeds are on sale, so I also grab some of those. $45.50
8 p.m. — Back home and ready to catch up on the sleep I lost last night. I read to wind down.
Daily Total: $50.50
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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