A Week In Indiana On A $57,000 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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: an analyst working at a nonprofit who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on sweet chili sauce.
This diarist opens up about her experience with schizophrenia. To learn more about schizophrenia and find resources for support, please head over to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. You can read an interview with this diarist here.
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Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 25
Location: Indiana
Salary: $57,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,200
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 for my half. (I live with my boyfriend.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I went to a public university and had a full-tuition scholarship.)
Gym: $23
Parking: $20
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $35
Spotify: $10
Therapy: $130 per session, once or twice per month
Medication: $35
Renters Insurance: $10
Phone Bill & Car Insurance: $0. (My parents graciously pay.)
Roth IRA: $450

Day One

6 a.m. — Wake up after snoozing several times. I had intended to do morning yoga at home with a YouTube video, but I opted for a hearty breakfast of eggs and avocado instead of downward dog. I do my hair and makeup and pack my lunch for work – roasted eggplant, zucchini, and onion with leftover rice and shredded chicken, plus my favorite drink, pineapple-flavored seltzer water. Lunch, done.
7 a.m. — 15 minute commute to work. I work for a nonprofit with a lax schedule, so I'm one of the first people on my floor to arrive. I fire up Outlook and start responding to vendor emails.
11:30 a.m. — I finish my morning meetings and reheat my lunch in the microwave. I want to go outside for a walk, but it's raining. I settle on eating at my desk and browsing Reddit.
3:30 p.m. — I leave work a little early to make my therapy appointment. I used to see my psychologist twice a week, but I've tapered that down to once every two to three weeks now that my parents aren't paying for it anymore and I have a high-deductible health plan. I've worked with this psychologist for eight years now, and talking to her is a priceless comfort.
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4:45 p.m. — My therapy appointment is over. I feel drained but also lighthearted. We talked about my anxieties related to my face and body tremors, plus my dreams and fears related to having children. The medication I take is harmful to fetuses, and people with serious mental illnesses have a hard time – impossible, really – getting approved to adopt. My medication makes a normal life possible for me, but I've always wanted kids. It's been on my mind for the past few months, especially since my boyfriend of four years also wants kids. Google tells me that surrogates cost about $100,000-ish, which is a lot less than I would have expected. If I decide I want to have a child when I'm 35, which is in ten years, then I would need to save $10,000 per year starting now.
6 p.m. — I work from home a little to make up for the time I spent in therapy. Then I microwave a frozen meal for dinner.
8 p.m. — My boyfriend and I watch an episode of Westworld. He downloads the show online for free somehow. We already used the free month HBO offers to new subscribers on the HBO Now app, and we're both too cheap to pay the 15 bucks a month. I feel bad and resolve to start paying for HBO when Game of Thrones starts up again in 2019.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Wake up on the first alarm. I groggily put on Spandex and a T-shirt and drive to the gym. I lift on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays with a coworker, who is quickly becoming a friend. Today is leg day. We do deadlifts, squats, lunges, calf raises, and hip thrusts.
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6:45 a.m. — Leave the gym, go home, and contemplate showering. I decide not to, and instead use baby wipes, deodorant, and dry shampoo.
8 a.m. — Arrive at work. It's been a goal of mine to bring my lunch four days a week. On Sunday I tried making shakshuka from a popular New York Times recipe that popped up on my Facebook feed. I plan to eat it for two lunches this week, and today is one of them.
11:30 a.m. — Emerge from meeting. My tremors have been getting worse lately, and I don't know why. The antipsychotic drugs I take for my schizophrenia have caused me to develop something called tardive dyskinesia, which, for me, manifests as facial grimacing and hand tremors. It's not terribly noticeable, but I told my coworkers I have Tourette's to explain away the tics.
12:30 a.m. — Eat lunch. This shakshuka is delicious!
5 p.m. — Leave work and head home. I put a few chicken breasts into the slow cooker every Sunday so I can have shredded chicken in the fridge for quick salads and tacos throughout the week. I microwave chicken mixed with cheese and heat up a couple taco shells in a skillet. I add salsa, rice, and the other half of the avocado that I opened up in the morning. Voila – dinner in seven minutes!
6 p.m. — My boyfriend gets home from work. We usually spend an hour after work talking and cuddling on the couch. He tells me about the mystery thief in his office who has been stealing lunches from the break room, and I tell him about my presentation at work that went well.
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7 p.m. — I head to the salon down the street to get a haircut. I see a junior stylist, which is considerably cheaper than getting a cut from the more experienced hairdressers at the salon. It's only 30 bucks for a cut, and I tip 20% as usual. My bangs come out a little wonky (they always do, no matter where I go) and I gingerly fix them in the bathroom with kitchen shears when I get home. My DIY bangs situation unsurprisingly doesn't work out, and I resign myself to bobby pins and head bands for the next couple of weeks. $36
Daily Total: $36

Day Three

7 a.m. — Wake up and make a quick breakfast of egg whites, avocado, leftover rice, and Sriracha. I make a large cup of coffee in my Keurig, which is more expensive and environmentally wasteful than a regular coffee pot, but the convenience factor is unbeatable.
11 a.m. — One of my 2018 resolutions is to donate to a different charity every month. I try to give about $20, which definitely isn't a lot (and I know I can do more…), but it's the number I settled on. I try to pick local charities instead national ones. Someone left a flyer in the break room for my city's youth robotics team, which is raising money so they can go to an international competition. I hop onto their GoFundMe page and contribute 20 bucks. $20
5 p.m. — I pick up my boyfriend from work. He usually takes the bus, but it's raining today so I offered to pick him up. We're home by 5:15 and decide to make beef strips and peppers with pasta for dinner.
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7 p.m. — We're done with dinner, and to my dismay, we're out of coffee creamer, soy sauce, eggs, and a few other kitchen staples. We decide to go to Kroger. I pick up a few different sauces (sriracha mayo and sweet chili sauce!) for a roasted bang bang cauliflower recipe I've been wanting to try. I also get other food stalwarts like onion, peppers, kale, rice, chicken, limes, and my current obsession: Halo Top. $45
8 p.m. — I head to the gym and do an easy workout on the elliptical. I'm lifting tomorrow, so I don't overdo it.
9 p.m. — I take my evening medication. It makes me super drowsy, so I'm asleep within 10 minutes.
Daily Total: $65

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up and head to my psychiatrist's office. I've been seeing her since I was 18, and she's the best psychiatrist I've ever been to. She's fee-only (no insurance), but completely worth the $200 per visit. I usually see her once every three months, but my symptoms have been flaring up and I want to try a different medication. We discuss some of the newer anti-psychotics on the market. I called three pharmacies beforehand to get price quotes on them with my insurance, and the most expensive came out to be over $500 per month. She tells me there are chemically similar meds on the market that are older and cheaper. She writes me a script, and I head to CVS to drop it off. $200
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9 a.m. — I head to work late because of my appointment.
12 p.m. — I eat my packed lunch – another salad. I added roasted veggies and rice I had in the fridge, so it's not half bad. Then I browse Airbnb for places to stay in London. My boyfriend and I are going to the U.K. in a few weeks and we haven't done any planning yet.
5:30 p.m. — I'm finished with work. One of my friends and I make an effort to go on long walks together a couple times a week, which we do today. She's a little older than me, and is hoping to get married in the next couple years. She's been with her boyfriend for seven years, but he keeps telling her he's not ready for marriage yet. I'm better friends with her boyfriend, so I tread carefully while she unpacks her feelings about the subject.
8 p.m. — I read my book, Americanah, for about an hour. Then I do my skincare routine. I'm a little beauty product-obsessed. My best tip for saving money and having great skin is at-home acid peels. Obviously not for everyone, but my skin is very hardy and loves chemical exfoliation. I buy bottles of chemical peels for 20 bucks and they last an entire year of twice weekly sessions.
Daily Total: $200

Day Five

7 a.m. — I decide to walk to work today. It's about two and a half miles away, so it's a bit of a hike. The route is pleasant, though. I cross a few parks and spend most of the way on walking and bike trails.
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8 a.m. — I arrive at work a little sweaty, so I wipe down in the shower area with a towel before heading upstairs to my desk.
6 p.m. — I go to a local place to get my oil changed. I know nothing about cars, but the garage people always tell me I need full synthetic oil, whatever that means. $90
7 p.m. — Oil change complete. I get gas. Since my commute is so short, I only need to fill up once every three to four weeks. $25
8 p.m. — I FaceTime my parents. My obsessed-with-running mom tries to encourage/harass me into doing a half marathon with her in a few months. I've had persistent shin splints for a while now, so I rebuff her efforts. My parents are really into this thing called FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I don't know much about it other than people who subscribe to the ideology try to save a significant amount of money in a strategic way to retire before 65. As a result, my dad regularly checks up on me by asking me how much I've contributed to my Roth IRA. It's his way of showing that he cares. I tell him I'm at $4,500. I had a $3,500 tax return this year, so I put all of it into my Roth and another $1,000 I had saved up. He is pleased with my answer, but tells me I can always do better. Ahhhh, Chinese parents – gotta love them!
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Daily Total: $115

Day Six

8 a.m. — It's my friend's birthday tonight, and he texts me and my boyfriend inviting us to go out for drinks to celebrate. I reply that we'll be there.
9 a.m. — I swing by my gym buddy's house and pick her up. We live about half a mile away from each other, so we carpool whenever we can.
10:30 a.m. — Workout is done, and I'm exhausted. We did arms and abs today. On the bright side, I increased my bench PR! Yay, me!
12 p.m. — I make fried rice for lunch. My boyfriend gets home from his run, and we chill on the couch for a bit, just talking. We're trying to decide if we want to stop in Amsterdam or Paris when we're in Europe next month. I went to Paris about six months ago, and I've never been to Amsterdam, but my boyfriend is more interested in Paris. We discuss the pros and cons of each.
5 p.m. — Dinner! We decide to make baked ziti for dinner and have red velvet Halo Top for dessert. It's a feast!
8 p.m. — I get ready to go out. I settle on a dress and a denim jacket.
10 p.m. — I only let myself have one drink tonight, because alcohol doesn't mix well with my meds. I used to be more lax about drinking and would sometimes have over five drinks in a night, but last month I made the conscious effort to reduce my consumption. It's helped my schizophrenia symptoms considerably, so I'm happy with the compromise. $5
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2 a.m. — My boyfriend and I stay up talking about the night. He's got a little bit of social anxiety so he usually unpacks his feelings after big social events for a bit when we get home. I listen to him for a while and we eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $5

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I wake up and my boyfriend and he makes us French toast for breakfast. We lay around on the couch talking and do more planning for our trip to Europe.
2:30 p.m. — I go to the local library. The book club I'm in picked out next month's book, and the library has one copy left! I schlep myself on my bike to the library and pick up the book, along with a couple others.
6 p.m. — I am super engrossed in Gone Girl. I know my book club is a couple years late on this one! It's a really gripping page-turner. I check the clock and I can't believe I've been reading for a couple hours!
8 p.m. — My boyfriend and I head to our friends' place for TV night, which they host once a week. We bring a bottle of wine and chips we already had at home.
Daily Total: $0
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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.
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