A Week In Kenosha, WI, On A $54,500 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: a retirement analyst working in HR who makes $54,500 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a countertop compost bin.
Occupation: Retirement Analyst
Industry: Human Resources
Age: 25
Location: Kenosha, WI
Salary: $54,500
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,535
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage Payment: $1,300, which my husband and I split evenly. (My husband and I maintain completely separate bank accounts, but we do have a joint account that we pay bills out of every month. We split everything equally since we make about the same amount of money. We like to spend our money differently – he doesn't buy much, whereas I love to shop.)
Student Loan Payment: $125. (I have less than $10,000 remaining.)
Car Loan Payment: $475
Car & Home Insurance: $160, which my husband and I split equally
Internet & Cable: $118, which my husband and I split equally
Hulu: $11.99
Netflix: $0. (Thanks, Dad.)
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Blue Apron: $120 (which my husband and I split equally)
Cell Phone: $0. (Thanks, Mom.)
Health Insurance: $0. (I'm still on my parents' insurance.)
401(k): 7% of my paycheck. (My company matches 50% of the first 6%.)
Credit Card Debt: $300 this month, but it varies. (My husband and I frequently book travel on my credit card, which has a great rewards program. I try to pay off as much as possible but sometimes we do have a rolling balance.)
Savings: $400. I have a direct deposit of $200 set up for each payday.
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99/year

Day One

7:30 a.m. — After hitting snooze a few times, I finally drag myself out of bed. (I am not a morning person.) This is the latest I can sleep without being late to work or without my cats walking all over me until I feed them breakfast. I take a quick shower and use my trusty dry shampoo and mascara to hold me over for the day. Give my husband a quick kiss and I'm out the door by 8.
9:41 a.m. — I don't have much going on today, but already the morning seems to be going by fast. I've submitted a few files and have already spoken with a few retirees about their 401(k) and pension plans.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! My company is very strict about making sure its employees take a full lunch hour, which is great. Since I live very close to work, I sometimes go home and eat, but today I brought leftovers from last night's Blue Apron meal.
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5:18 p.m. — Just as I'm getting home from work and settling in, I get a text from a friend asking to meet for dinner. I haven't seen her in a while, so I say yes and head over to a local restaurant. My husband, B.*, meets us and I pay for my husband and me. The three of us spend the next few hours talking about our travel plans for the upcoming months. She's going to NYC in a few weeks and we are going to Europe in the spring. $37.38
Daily Total: $37.38

Day Two

7:10 a.m. — Wake up, feed the cats, and hop in the shower. I race around the house to find a pair of tights because it's warm enough to wear a dress. I need to buy another pair... I'm out the door by 8:05, which makes me eight minutes late for work.
12:05 p.m. — Since we went out for dinner last night, I don't have any leftovers to eat for lunch. Luckily, my company has a cafeteria with great food for great prices. I order the main entrée, grilled, herb-marinated chicken with mac and cheese and veggies. $5
5:30 p.m. — After work, I head over to my parents' place to use their treadmill. I'm training for a few races in the early summer but don't want to spend money on a gym membership. For now, I'll use my parents' equipment until it's not -5 degrees outside. Tomorrow should be nice enough to run outside. (The joys of Wisconsin weather! It can be -5 degrees one week and 45 the next.)
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7 p.m. — My gas light comes on during the drive home and I make a stop. I drive a small SUV that gets good mileage and since my daily commute is less than three miles a day, this tank should last me at least two weeks. $25.10
Daily Total: $30.10

Day Three

7:10 a.m. — Normal showering morning routine, except this time, I nix the tights and decide on pants and my trusted Tory Burch riding boots. The weather has been nice enough that the city has stopped salting everything and I feel confident that I can wear them without them getting salty and ruined.
1 p.m. — The morning and early afternoon fly by. I peek at the shared calendar I have with my husband and notice we have nothing going on tonight. I want to do something since it's Friday, so I send B. a quick text to make plans.
2:15 p.m. — I check the Milwaukee Bucks schedule to see if they're playing tonight, which they are. We frequently go to Bucks games in the winter because it's a short, 40-minute drive up to Milwaukee and we both love sports. Once April comes, we'll shift our focus to our favorite sport, baseball, and our favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers. I buy the tickets ($250) and request B.'s half through Venmo. $125
6 p.m. — B. and I head up to the Bucks game. We park a few blocks away from the arena to get cheaper parking ($15), which B. covers. Once we get inside, we stop at a concession stand and I pay for food and drinks ($30). We spend the evening cheering for Giannis and the rest of the Bucks. $30
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Daily Total: $155

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — Since it's Saturday, I sleep in and try to ignore the cats pawing at our closed bedroom door. I love being able to sleep in and take my time in the morning. B. makes pancakes for us and I make a pot of coffee. Weekends are the only time where I really eat a full breakfast. Normally, I just grab a granola bar or muffin on the way out of the house.
11:30 a.m. — My dad texts me and asks if B. and I want to go the Wisconsin Badgers hockey game tonight. I am leery and reply, “How much?” since my dad normally makes me pay for these tickets. When he responds that I don't have to pay, I happily accept.
4:45 p.m. — We bum around for a little longer until we start to get ready for our day. First, we stop at my grandma's house to pick up the homemade chicken and dumpling soup she made for me. B. is worried about leaving the soup in the car, but since it's freezing outside, I'm not worried that it'll go bad. The two-hour drive to Madison really supports the farmer stereotype of Wisconsin – it's dairy farm after dairy farm!
6:45 p.m. — We get to Madison just in time for the game, and our tickets include parking. Once we get in, we go to the team store and wander around for a while before I pick out an Under Armour crewneck sweatshirt that is literally the softest thing I've ever felt in my life. It's a little more than I would normally spend, but the softness of this sweatshirt makes it worth it. $70
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7:25 p.m. — After the first half, we decide to get food. We go to the nearest concession stand and order buffalo chicken fries for B. ($8.50) and a brat ($5.50) for me. I offer to pay, but he shoots me down, calling it a date night.
Daily Total: $70

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — I sleep in a little later than normal today. B. has already woken up and let me sleep, bless him. I make my way to our basement, where I find a mountain of laundry to do.
1:30 p.m. — After binge-watching The Crown for a while, we hop in the shower and get ready for the day. B.'s out of shampoo, so I guess we are making a trip to Target today.
4:30 p.m. — We leave Target with a new flavor of Halo Top ice cream ($6.99), shampoo for B. ($2.99), socks for me ($9.99), and a bottle of wine ($13.99). On the drive home, I realize I forgot tights. How does this always happen? $35.83
5:30 p.m. — I start making our Blue Apron dinner and B. throws in a load of laundry. A perfect Sunday of doing nothing!
Daily Total: $35.83

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — Back to the weekly grind. I struggle to wake up this morning, as I do every Monday. A quick shower, a swipe of mascara, and I'm out of the door by 7:55.
1 p.m. — I've been so immersed in work today that I forgot tomorrow is my birthday! I've only been with this company for five months now, but it seems like when it's your birthday here, you can bring in something for everyone. I look up a few cupcake recipes on Pinterest before settling on one of my classics: chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes.
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5:30 p.m. — I get off work a little later than usual and stop by the grocery store on the way home to buy the ingredients for cupcakes and fajitas for dinner tonight. $25.12
7 p.m. — After dinner, I do some yoga and then start on the cupcakes. I love baking, which definitely runs in my family. My mom, aunt, and grandma are all incredible bakers. I call my mom for her buttercream recipe.
Daily Total: $25.12

Day Seven

7:10 a.m. — Today's my birthday! It snowed six inches overnight, so I know I need to hustle this morning to get to work. My normal routine takes a little longer and I make it to work with the cupcakes by 8:03.
11 a.m. — I get a few texts from friends wishing me a happy birthday and confirming they can come to my birthday dinner. Most of my friends live all across Wisconsin, so I figured it would be easiest for everyone if dinner was on a Friday after work instead of in the middle of the week.
4 p.m. — I've been thinking about how much waste I throw away when I cook and have been researching countertop compost buckets for scraps. The one I want from Target just went on sale, so I quickly order it online and also throw in a sheet mask to treat myself. $22.87
7:05 p.m. — I call my insurance agent to find out if my car insurance will go down now that I'm 25; she tells me that it will go from $160/month to $156/month. I was expecting it to be more than that! Once B. turns 25, I hope it'll decrease even more. I know that some people don't enjoy their birthdays, but I think of it as a day all for myself. I can only assume that birthdays from here on out won't be as exciting, so I'll enjoy today while it lasts.
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Daily Total: $22.87
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
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