A Week In Dallas, TX, On A $66,000 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 project writer working in data management who makes $66,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on kombucha lemonade.
Occupation: Project Writer
Industry: Data Management
Age: 27
Location: Dallas, TX
Salary: $66,000
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,928.93
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,279. (I live in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment with my dog. My total rent includes $10 pet rent.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I had a partial scholarship for undergrad, and grad school was free, thanks to grants.)
Dental Insurance: $17.54
Vision Insurance: $4.62
401(k): $126.92
Disability & Life Insurance Benefits: $39.20
Therapy: $250. (I go twice a month for anxiety, depression, and Asperger's syndrome.)
Health Insurance: $0. (I got permission to stay on my mom's far superior health insurance until I can afford my medications.)
Water, Trash & Exterminator Fees: $50-$60
Electricity: $30-$60
Car & Renter's Insurance: $110.66
Cell Phone: $100. (I pay my parents because I'm on their plan.)
Internet: $81.64
Pet Insurance: $72.82 for my cat and dog
Dollar Shave Club: $6
Remote Personal Training: $110. (My trainer gives me 3x/week programs that I do by myself.)
Gym Membership: $92.01
Hulu: $12.98.
Spotify Family: $16.23.
Netflix: $12. (I share my Hulu, Spotify, and Netflix accounts with my sister.)
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Additional Expenses
LifeLock Identity Theft Protection: $275/year
Unlimited Spin Studio Membership: $1,336.65/year
Amazon Prime: $99/year. (I share with my sister.)

Day One

5:10 a.m. — Alarm goes off for my morning lift at the gym, and then I'm back at my apartment by 6:30. I shower quickly before taking my dog to my parents' house, which is five minutes away. I shamelessly use them for doggy daycare on a daily basis. My dog gets to play and nap with our family dog all day, and I don't have to pay for daycare (plus I frequently get free breakfast and/or dinner out of the arrangement). It's a win-win-win situation. I stop at the grocery store after dropping off my dog to get apples, almond and peanut butter, yogurt, cereal, almonds, protein bars, kombucha, and other snacks for work. $14.78
8 a.m. — I'm the first person in my department to arrive at work, so I have more time to sort through my hefty inbox and do a couple of personal things online. I bought two pairs of shoes from Zappos last week to wear to a friend's recent bachelorette party in New Orleans, knowing I'd end up returning one. I print that return slip and then call my primary care doctor to get a prescription for oral steroids. I'm super sensitive to cigarette smoke and NOLA has pervasive wafts of it. I could barely breathe in spin class last night and I started having chest pain. When that happens, my asthma meds aren't enough to open up my lungs, and I have to go on oral steroids for a couple of days.
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12 p.m. — I send video clips of myself lifting this morning to my personal trainer and email him the tally of my February lifts. I started working with a personal trainer last April as a way to strengthen my joints. I've had several surgeries through the years after playing soccer competitively in college, and lifting again keeps me from getting re-injured. I feel like the resulting improvements in my confidence, self-esteem, and strength justify the cost. A lot of people design their own lifting programs or do stuff like BBG, but I have very specific needs and limitations and working with a trainer is a much more comfortable fit for me.
3:30 p.m. — Work is very busy today. It seems like all of our salespeople decided to need things as soon as I left last Friday. I sort through my inbox and prioritize projects with my supervisor. Because I don't usually take a lunch break, I can leave early some days (especially every other Tuesday when I go to therapy). I eat an apple and almond butter, yogurt, and a protein bar throughout the day, drinking plenty of water too, and take some Do-si-dos from the front mail room. They're usually one of the first boxes to disappear during Girl Scout cookie season, and they're a nice treat when I want something sweet. I leave work at 5:15 and call my sister on the way to the polling station to vote in the primaries, and I take my dog to the dog park after voting.
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7 p.m. — I drop off the dog at my apartment and start a load of laundry before heading back to the grocery store to pick up toilet paper, cat food, sweet potatoes, Lean Pockets, spinach, eggs, and beans ($98.99), as well as my prescriptions. I'm still on my mom's insurance until I can afford my medications – I'm on a lot of very expensive ones to help moderate the more prevalent of my autism manifestations. Today, I pick up my birth control, thyroid medication, anti-anxiety medication, and the oral steroid my doctor called in. (It's a $30 total co-pay that I pay for with my flex spending account card.) I return home, too tired to cook the sweet potatoes I bought, so I heat up a few Lean Pockets and wash them down with Arctic Zero before crawling into bed at 9 to read a little Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. $98.99
Daily Total: $113.77

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — Dog wakes me up a little early. I get up and go through my morning routine: listen to the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix audiobook while I brush my teeth (I keep the series on repeat on my phone), wash my face, do my skincare routine, put Tend Skin on my bikini area and legs, put on work clothes, and grab my spin clothes for after work. Then I head to my parents' house at 6:20 to drop off my dog. I start my steroid prescription, and holy shit, after only one dose I can feel my lungs really opening up. Drugs are awesome. I arrive at work at 7:45, and we have a new hire interview at 9 (someone to share some of the conference scheduling and admin burden with me). The candidate is woefully unprepared and inappropriately dressed, so we go with a different candidate, who will start tomorrow.
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3:30 p.m. — I finally start looking at receipts from the bachelorette party weekend. So much money on ride-sharing! Mostly solo trips, since I did some excursions by myself and left Bourbon Street earlier than the others. I start a Google Sheet to keep track of what I paid and what I owe. Three of the four girls end up owing me a total of $74.90, so I send the totals out on the group chat and they Venmo me their shares. I owe the other girl $17.18. She doesn't have Venmo, so I write her a check that I'll give her when I see her this weekend for dinner with the bride and her maid of honor (who couldn't make the trip). $17.18
4 p.m. — Our Bachelor bracket commissioner sends a memo reminding us to pay. I came in dead last, but fortunately, we don't have punishments like in Fantasy Football leagues. I Venmo her $5 for my shameful performance. After a packed day today and yesterday, I take the last hour of the day to clear my Gmail inbox; my Atlas Obscura, Refinery29, Countable, JSTOR Daily, and alumni emails have piled up since last week. I tinker with an inventory spreadsheet while watching Beauty With Mi and Sweet Digs videos on Refinery29. A $104 refund for dresses from Lulus comes through. I bought two in the hopes that I'd be able to wear them on the trip, but one looked cheap and the other was too big in the boob area. $5
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5 p.m. — Finish a busy day and head to the spin studio for a 5:30 class. I'm confident I'll be able to go harder today now that my lungs are less compromised. After spin, I check dating apps. I made a new rule for myself that I can't look at dating apps unless it's after a workout. This really keeps my mindless swiping addiction in check and my confidence high. I check my mail on the way back to my apartment and find an invitation to my cousin's baby shower, my Dollar Shave Club shipment, and a reimbursement check for my cat's vet visit a couple of weeks ago. I text my cousin to let her know I'll be at the shower in a few weeks and mobile deposit my reimbursement check ($275.48). I shower and change before going to pick up my dog and have dinner with my mom.
9 p.m. — After dinner, I go home with my dog. I'm a little hyper from the steroids, but I don't want to commit to chores and risk a later bedtime, so I brush my teeth, walk my dog, and read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for 10 minutes or so before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $22.18

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — Up early again. My mom is taking our family dog to the vet for a tumor removal and jaw X-rays, so she offers to drop off my dog at daycare (and pay for it) while she's out with the other dog. I swing by the dry cleaner on my way to work to pick up a conference room table tablecloth I dropped off earlier this week. ($13.59 expensed)
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7:30 a.m. — I drive to the gas station to put air in a tire. I'm nearly positive there's a nail tear in it that will need to get patched soon. That happens to me all the time, but for now, it's cheaper and easier just to fill it up when it gets low ($1.50). I fill up on gas while I'm at it ($27.25). I get to work super early today, but it's nice because that gives me a little extra time to sort my day and warm up my brain. Our new hire starts today, meaning there is an additional person added to my interaction slate today. Not super happy, but it'll be nice when I don't have to worry about conference stuff anymore. $28.75
11 a.m. — We go out for lunch as a department with our new employee. Someone else pays and expenses it. I'm excited because the new employee is about my age (which is rare for my job) and loves animals. I get a Chinese chicken salad and eat half of it; I don't want to be too weighed down in spin class this evening.
12:30 p.m. — I'm trying to finish up a large project for a client, but I'm already sleepy from lunch. I grab a bottle of GT's Kombucha Lemonade from my grocery store run. The little caffeine boost and bubbles help keep me awake. I remember to plug in my Fitbit Flex 2. (If your activity's not on your activity tracker, did you really even do it?) I also go ahead and cough up the registration fee for my high-school reunion next month. I don't really want to go, but the girl who planned it lives in my apartment complex and really wants me to. I've changed since high school, so maybe everyone else has, too. Plus, the school's paying for the alcohol and ride shares, which is nice. $30
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2:30 p.m. — Refill my water bottle. I drink 96 to 120 ounces of water during work, which keeps me hydrated and awake and also lets me get up and walk every couple hours. I register for a free yoga class that one of my favorite spin instructors/buddies is teaching in a couple of weeks. I never do yoga, and it's on a Sunday (I usually don't spend Sundays around humans) but I want to support him!
5 p.m. — Spin time! The instructor is injured, so I'm encouraged to ride the instructor bike in his place. I've been doing spin classes consistently for three years, but I've always been terrified of the instructor bike because being in front of crowds with eyes on me is a personal nightmare. I don't have enough time to think about it and be scared, so I go up there and it is amazing! I have the best time. Who knows, maybe I'll be a teacher someday...
7:45 p.m. — My mom is picking up the dogs from the vet, so I have to wait for her to come home with them before I can leave. I help feed both dogs when they're back but I'm not really hungry, so I decline my parents' invitation to stay for dinner. I go back to my apartment, still grinning from spin this evening. I spread peanut butter on a Kodiak Cake and take my meds. My dog and I are in bed by 9 and asleep by 9:45 after a nice chunk of Hitchhiker's.
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Daily Total: $58.75

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I skip my lift this morning. I don't have March's lifts yet from my trainer, and my body could use the break. I snooze until 5:45, then brush my teeth, take my asthma meds, wash my face, and moisturize. Dog is still asleep at 6:15 when I pull the covers back to wake him up! We pack up and go to my parents' house, and after a nice long walk with my mom and the dog, I swing by Smoothie King on my way to work. I usually reserve JuiceLand and Smoothie King runs for rewards after early-morning lifts, but I'm feeling peckish, so I get a Lean 1 smoothie. $6.50
9:30 a.m. — It's inventory photo day! Taking inventory photos is one of my favorite parts of my job. I get to go play with old records, read them, and photograph them. Today, we don't have anything super interesting but sometimes I get fascinating stuff, like old murders and bizarre legal cases. I show our new hire how to take archival "before" photos. By 11:30, I'm back to my desk to tackle quotes. I grab the rest of the kombucha I started yesterday and a Siggi's yogurt I bought last week. I skim a JSTOR Daily interview with Steven Pinker and pop over to Goodreads to add a couple of his books to my "To Read" list. I'm always looking for books to add to my list, especially from unfamiliar areas.
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1:30 p.m. — My leftover Chinese chicken salad from yesterday has congealed into an unappetizing lump in the to-go container. I toss it and grab the last of my apples from my desk, which I eat with Justin's Honey Almond Butter. I finish up a few quotes and read some Public Domain Review articles. The deviation from my morning lift routine, leftover energy from last night's spin, and steroids opening up my lungs have me itching to go for a run after work. At 3, we have a meeting to discuss a massive project for one of our biggest clients. And then at 4, I review a proof I designed for one of our records management systems.
5:15 p.m. — I leave for the day and chat with my sister on the way to my gym, where I go for a quick run. Afterward, I hit the dog park with the dog and then stop by Trader Joe's for tortilla chips to snack on while I cook and clean tonight. I try to spend Fridays recuperating from my weekly responsibilities by cleaning, doing laundry, and cooking. I'm in bed by 9:30 and read Hitchhiker's before falling asleep. $5.38
Daily Total: $11.88

Day Five

10:45 a.m. — I sleep in a little, then get up, brush my teeth, wash and moisturize my face, and get my workout clothes on. I grab a sleeve of Clif Bloks for carbs and caffeine and take my Saturday walk with the dog and both parents. It's a great way to catch up with both of them. Then it's time for spin. After a great class, I meet my parents, my cousin, and his family for brunch. I decide to run there because my GPS says it's only a mile from my apartment. False — it's a solid two miles. Exhausted, I change shirts at the restaurant and join my family. I order tomato pasta with grilled chicken and my cousin snags the bill before my dad. I don't usually like kids, but my cousin's kids are pretty cool.
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5:30 p.m. — I spend a relaxing afternoon at my apartment with the dog. I'm meeting my friends for dinner tonight and decide to go to the restaurant early for a drink. Not only does drinking lessen my social anxiety, but it actually reduces the effects of external stimuli for me, making me less overwhelmed. My friends trickle in, and I put their drinks on my tab. I'm pretty sure I still owe them from NOLA even though we settled up earlier this week. $38.93
9 p.m. — We finish up our dinner. I had a 25% off coupon for our whole party, and the waitress forgets to apply it. I remind her about it and she brings new checks. It's great seeing everyone, even though I just spent the weekend with them. $28
9:30 p.m. — The bride and maid of honor head home, and the other girls and I go across the street to a pub to hang out. I get a PBR to sip while we chat before leaving at 10:30. I contemplate going back out, but by the time I get home to my dog, I don't really feel like it. I crawl into bed by 11:30. $4
Daily Total: $70.93

Day Six

7 a.m. — The alarm hurts this morning. Daylight Saving has started, so instead of seven and a half hours of sleep, I get six and a half. I take my dog for a short walk with my mom. Sometimes I don't take my stimulant medication on Sundays so I can sleep more. It's not great to skip it, but the medication is really expensive and I can make the prescription last longer if I skip odd days. I take a long morning nap and then go for another walk with the dog at 11:30.
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12:30 p.m. — My alma mater's men's basketball team is playing in the conference championship today, but I decide to watch at home instead of going to the watch party. I had my fill of socializing last night, so I watch while I clean and vacuum. I do some serious stretching too. The run after spin class yesterday left me more sore than normal. Huzzah, we win! March Madness will be a little more exciting with my alma mater still in the running. After the game, the dog and I go for another walk. Then the dog takes a nap and I settle into my reading chair to finish The Kremlin's Candidate. I loved the first two books in The Red Sparrow trilogy, but I'm taking longer than normal to finish this book. It just doesn't grip me as much as the last ones did.
6 p.m. — I boil pasta with tomato sauce and spinach for dinner and then finally finish the book. I cried a little at the end – one of those: "It had to end this way, but it's still sad" conclusions. I take the dog for another walk and turn on Archer, do a clay mask, and shower to cheer myself up before bed. I'm in bed by 9:30, but my brain won't settle down, so I read Hitchhiker's until 9:50 before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Up at 6. Losing an hour to Daylight Saving Time is killing me. I know a lot of people like it, but the hour time change and extra light at night are really hard for me. Light is one of my biggest autistic sensitivities. I usually have to bring hats and sunglasses with me all the time since it's bright so late now. Dog and I head to my parents' house at 6:45. I read theSkimm while he and our family dog eat breakfast, and then we go for a morning walk. I stop by the grocery store at 8 for apples, a bottle of kombucha, and cereal. It's going to be a caffeine day today. I get to work a little late, start up my computer, and get water and Earl Grey going. Hopefully, my brain starts working soon. $11.59
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12:30 p.m. — I eat a protein bar from my desk, which makes me surprisingly full, and call in more prescription refills that I can pick up after work. By 3:30, I'm hungry again, so I eat one of my apples with honey almond butter as a pre-workout snack. I leave promptly at 5 today. I can't wait for spin at 6:30 when I can get some endorphins. I feel much better after my hard workout, but I don't have the energy to pick up my meds, so I'll do that tomorrow. I shower and go to my parents' house to get my dog and eat a little. We're back home by 8, and I brush my teeth, take my meds, and hop in bed by 8:45. I read Hitchhiker's for a bit and fall asleep with my dog.
Daily Total: $11.59
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