A Week In Philadelphia, PA, On A $65,000 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 consultant working in software who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a deep conditioning hair mask.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Software
Age: 26
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
Salary: $65,000, plus a $7,000 annual bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): 1,700.08
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $860 for my one-bedroom apartment (includes water and heat)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents helped me with my education.)
Dental Insurance: $19
Medical/Vision Insurance: $67.59
HSA: $30 (My company contributes $600/year.)
Car Lease: $179
Car Insurance: $0 (covered by my dad until September, when I will take over)
Cell Phone: $0 (covered by work)
Verizon: $40.59
Spotify: $10.65
ICloud: $0.99
MoviePass: $9.95
Gym: $31.99
Netflix: $0 (I use my parents' account.)
Electric: ~$20-$50, depending on the season
Company Stock: $162.50 (My company matches 40% of this.)
401(k): $541.66 (My company matches 6% of my salary.)
Savings: ~$600-$800 (I have about $23,000 total in savings.)
CD: I have $6,000 in a six-year CD (3.10% APY)
Advertisement

Day One

6 a.m. — It takes two alarms (and snoozing those alarms) for me and my boyfriend, C., to finally get out of bed this morning. We've only been together a couple months and have two separate apartments, but I'm living in his apartment right now. We adopted two stray kittens we found in my parking lot, and the poor babies have ringworm. While we treat them, we're keeping them quarantined in my bathroom, and I only go home to get clothes/food and to take care of them. It's okay for now, but I'm excited for them to be better so I can get my space (and kittens!) back.
6:30 a.m. — I brush my teeth and put my contacts in and then head home to feed the kittens and give them some good morning ear scratches. I receive adorable purrs in return. I freshen their water bowl and then get ready for the gym. I change, grind beans to make coffee in my Contigo mug, eat half a banana, and take my vitamins and birth control. I pack my backpack with my breakfast and strawberries and head out. C. and I work at the same place in different departments, which is how we met. We usually carpool, and today is my turn.
7:15 a.m. — Our office has a free gym, which is one of my favorite work benefits. C. and I generally do our own workouts, but on Fridays we do a plyometric HIIT circuit together. We use steps and plyometric boxes and can barely breathe after six rounds.
Advertisement
8:30 a.m. — I quickly get in the shower, since I have a 9 a.m. call. I don't have time to blow dry my hair, so I put in some Eden BodyWorks Curl Defining Creme, which has been amazing for my very curly and frizzy hair. A little (like a dime size) goes a long way.
9 a.m. — This morning, my team and I are testing. Working in software implementation basically means fixing errors all day and trying to not pull my hair out. I eat breakfast (oats soaked in almond milk, fat free Greek yogurt, chia and flax seeds, half a banana, and agave syrup) and drink my coffee.
10 a.m. — I started investing for the first time earlier this week, and have bought shares in two Chinese companies. One of them is crazy volatile this morning, and I've lost $15 so far. It's freaking me out. I know that's what investing is and it will likely go up again, but it's scary. Maybe I should have started with mutual funds first.
12 p.m. — We spend all morning testing, and I eat my strawberries to get me through a three-hour call. I break for lunch around 12. On Fridays in the summer, our office does barbecues. Today is smoked jerk chicken with plantains, rice, and pineapple salsa, and apple fritters for dessert. SO GOOD. We receive $4.25 every day as a lunch stipend, so after that, my lunch costs me only $2.06. I eat with C. and a few people from his old team. $2.06
Advertisement
2 p.m. — Aerie is having a sale on their swimwear, so I buy a bikini and a one piece for $45.65. Free shipping on all swimwear! $45.65
4:30 p.m. — All done for the day. I always leave a little early on Fridays. I'm driving home to see my family tonight. My little sister turned 21 earlier this week, so I want to take her out for a drink! I also bought her a Golden Snitch bracelet from Alex and Ani, which should be arriving tonight.
6 p.m. — I help C. give the cats their ringworm medicine and then kiss him goodbye. I listen to My Favorite Murder on my drive to my parents' house. I don't consider myself true crime obsessed, but I do love this podcast. It is, however, making me super paranoid about all the ways in which my loved ones and I can get murdered.
7:30 p.m. — Home! I say hello to our floofy dog, who is the first to greet me, and then to the rest of my family. I put laundry in, because you're never too old to use your parents' washing machine.
8 p.m. — My sister and I don't end up going out, because we're too tired. We eat Indian food for dinner and hang out in my parents' room with my little brother. (They have the biggest bed.) My brother is playing Just Dance, and it's hilarious. I get in bed at around 10:30 to read — I'm re-reading all the Harry Potter books, and starting on Chamber of Secrets tonight. Then I Facetime C. to say to goodnight before passing out around 11.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $47.71

Day Two

7 a.m. — Wake up far earlier than I'd like, and I'm not happy about it. I try to sleep a bit more, but it doesn't work, so I head down in search of food and caffeine. I make a double shot of Nespresso and a bowl of oats with peanut butter and berries (and a spoon of peanut butter for the floof for being adorable). I have my breakfast in bed while reading more Chamber of Secrets and snuggling the pup.
9 a.m. — Spend the rest of the morning hanging out with my mom and picking out Indian clothes for a wedding coming up next month that I'm a bridesmaid for. She asks me lots of questions about C. and our relationship, including: “Are you getting married?” Indian moms.
10:30 a.m. — I shower and take my car to the dealership for servicing. As part of my lease agreement, I get two free oil changes a year. However, I have to also get my tires rotated, and the guy informs me that there's a recall on my engine mount, so they need to inspect it, and the whole thing could take a while. I call my dad to bring me home, then use his car to run errands. I go to the bank to take out $50 of quarters for laundry, and then stop at the post office to mail something for my mom.
12 p.m. — We're having what is called a havan at my house, because my brother graduated eighth grade. I was raised Hindu but no longer practice it, but my family does these events once in a while and I don't mind participating. It's basically a prayer session around a fire which we end by expressing good wishes for my brother and his friend on their move to high school.
Advertisement
3 p.m. — I catch up with our family friends, who I haven't seen since Thanksgiving, over food and beer. My sister drives me to pick up my car from the dealership. The oil change was free, and I had a $10 credit on my account, so I only pay $21.33 for the tire rotation. I drive home, pack up, and get ready to drive back to PA. I stop for gas at Costco on the way ($27.89). $49.22
6:45 p.m. — Back home. I first give the kittens their medicine and say hello. They're so cute and keep rubbing themselves against my legs. I feel incredibly guilty keeping them stuck in this bathroom. We're going to the vet on Monday, and hopefully he will say the ringworm is gone so we can get our snuggle buddies back! I unpack some of my things, fold and put away two weeks of laundry (because I never fold my laundry in a timely manner), and then change into shorts and a t-shirt. I had thought about asking a friend to hang out tonight, but I'm feeling antisocial and want to have a night alone.
7:15 p.m. — I spend the rest of the evening watching Parks and Rec. For dinner, I eat red lentil pasta with pesto and steamed veggies (kind of disappointing), and then for dessert I heat up a chocolate Levain cookie I had frozen, which I eat with a scoop of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter World on top. HEAVEN. I go back to my apartment to feed the cats at around 8:30 and freshen their water. I do two face masks (Skinfood Black Sugar Mask and a vitamin C sheet mask) and then get in bed around 11 to read more Chamber of Secrets before passing out. Very wild Saturday night over here! But it feels good for my soul to spend time alone.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $49.22

Day Three

9 a.m. — Wow, I slept in very late! I had a weird night of sleep, where I woke up multiple times and now I feel super sweaty. I head over to feed the kittens and give them cold water from the fridge, since today will be hot. I also move their tunnel into the bathroom, because I'm worried they're getting bored. I change into workout clothes, eat a banana, head to the gym, and do 30 minutes on the StairMaster, which makes me so sweaty that it looks like I peed myself. (Yay for grey leggings!) I finish with a little abs and stretching.
11 a.m. — I take a shower and then eat a two egg omelette with salsa, plus two multigrain waffles with almond butter and honey. Then I wash a bunch of dishes while listening to more My Favorite Murder. I grind some of C.'s coffee beans, make myself a cup, and settle down with more Parks and Rec. I would love even a quarter of Leslie Knope's energy.
1 p.m. — I head to Trader Joe's to buy groceries. C. asks me to pick up two bananas and yogurt for him too. I pick up bananas (for me and C.), broccoli and kale slaw, an avocado, blueberries, curry quinoa salad, meatless ground beef, Quinoa Cowboy Burgers, a pack of Calamansi Coolers, a loaf of bread, old fashioned oats, aloe gel moisturizer, and yogurt ($34.80). The total for C.'s stuff is only about $4, so I tell him not to pay me back. $34.80
Advertisement
4 p.m. — I read Chamber of Secrets in bed and snack on pretzel chips and blueberries until C. gets home around 4. He is starving, so we head to Smashburger. I get a chicken cobb salad with grilled chicken and no bacon or blue cheese, and Smashfries on the side ($8.52). There's a Five Below next door, so we stop for candy since we're going to a movie after (C. pays). There's also a Petsmart in the same mall, and everything is 50% off because it's closing, so we each buy two bags of cat food ($25.32). $33.84
5:20 p.m. — We go to the movie theater to see Ocean's 8. (We both have MoviePass.) The movie is great. Both C. and I feel sick after eating so much candy during the movie, but I'm honestly not even sorry.
7:45 p.m. — We give the cats their ringworm medicine and feed them, and I make breakfast for tomorrow and pack my gym bag. I make a small salad for dinner with the groceries I bought earlier. We both get in bed around 9:15 to read and doze off around 10ish.
Daily Total: $68.64

Day Four

6 a.m. — Alarms start going off. I have horrible cramps today thanks to my time of the month, and C. is exhausted, so we turn off all our alarms. No gym today! My cramps are excruciating though, and I can't sleep. C. places his hand against my abdomen, and the warmth of it feels like a heating pad and lulls me to sleep. He's a keeper.
Advertisement
7:30 a.m. — We force ourselves out of bed. I quickly go back home to feed the cats and freshen their water, grab my work clothes, make coffee, take my vitamins, and take medicine for my cramps. Then I come back to C.'s to shower and get ready. I have two pieces of toast with almond butter, Greek yogurt and honey, and blueberries on the side. I rush out the door for a 9 a.m. call.
11:50 a.m. — Morning goes by in a blur of more testing and I have a talk with my boss about my goals and upcoming projects. I need to take a certification exam soon, so we discuss that and the next projects he envisions putting me on. He informs me that my chosen area will be light in terms of projects, which is his way of saying, “be prepared to be bored." Then it's lunchtime! I have a grilled chicken and roasted veggie wrap with salad on the side. It is $4.23, which means I pay nothing after my stipend.
3:45 p.m. — Afternoon of more testing, and I book my certification exam for next Tuesday (eek!). I eat a stroopwafel leftover from last week, and then dip out early to take the cats to the vet. C. is leaving a little later and will meet me at the vet.
5:15 p.m. — The vet said that the cats both look much better, but she recommends we keep treating them for a week or two more to ensure the ringworm is gone, and then come back to get a culture done. The cats also get their second set of shots ($25 for my half), and are declared otherwise healthy. $25
Advertisement
6:30 p.m. — I eat salad (kale and broccoli slaw, dried cranberries, tomatoes, meatless ground beef, curry quinoa salad, dressing) and a slice of avocado toast, with a raspberry and cream bar for dessert. Then I log on to do some work for about an hour.
8 p.m. — I go back home to feed the babies and talk to my friend, K., on the phone. We talk about work, life, and what we're planning to wear for our friend's upcoming wedding that we're both bridesmaids for. The bride already purchased our outfits for the ceremony, but we still have four other events we need clothes for. K. is a nurse who alternates day and night shifts and we don't get to talk as often as I'd like, so I really love when our schedules line up!
9:30 p.m. — Get back to C.'s place to get ready for bed. We get in bed around 10, chat for a while, and then drift off to sleep.
Daily Total: $25

Day Five

6 a.m. — Alarms. So many stupid alarms. C. and I snuggle a little longer because he is heading home tonight and we won't see each other for a few days. He has to help his mom, who just had knee replacement surgery. I'll drive down in a few days to join him, but we're in that beginning phase where even a day apart seems too long. Since my last relationship was long distance, I am getting spoiled by this whole seeing my S.O. everyday thing.
Advertisement
6:25 a.m. — Finally out of bed. I brush my teeth and put my contacts in, and then go back to my place to feed the kittens, change clothes, grind beans and make coffee to go, take my vitamins, eat half a banana, and pack my bag with my breakfast and snacks. C. and I are carpooling to work today, and he is driving.
7:20 a.m. — Finally at the gym! I work on my legs today, focusing on my glutes and hamstrings. Then I shower and get to my desk at around 9:20.
10:30 a.m. — I have a catch-up scheduled with a work friend who I did a project with about a year ago. We actually met because she wanted to make a move into the department I was previously in and had randomly reached out to ask me to meet. We really hit it off, worked on a project together, and are now good friends. We catch up about life for 30 minutes, and it's a nice way to break up my morning.
12 p.m. — Today is free smoothie day (the best day), so I keep lunch light with a salad (greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, tofu, boiled eggs, chickpeas). My total is $0.25 after our lunch stipend. I get an Apple 'N Greens smoothie from the Jamba Juice guy and rush back to my desk for a couple hours of calls. $0.25
5:15 p.m. — C. and I head out. Today we are bathing the cats (ugh). As part of their ringworm treatment, we have to bathe them in a lime sulfur dip every five to seven days. Each time we do this, we clean the entire bathroom from head to toe as well. We're getting pretty efficient at it though, and finish in about an hour.
Advertisement
6:45 p.m. — We spend the rest of the evening showering, eating dinner (veggie burger on avocado toast and salad for me) and packing up C.'s things. Since he's going home for 11 days, he's taking his snake with him. (Ya, we have practically a damn zoo between the two of us.) It takes us four trips to get all his things to the car. I kiss him goodbye and squeeze him extra hard. You would think we were going to be apart for a month, but I'm not embarrassed to admit that I love his company.
8:15 p.m. — I stop home to give the cats their medicine and food, and then I head to Target because I need tampons, pantyliners, and index cards. I also pick up a deep conditioning hair mask. I chat with my mom, grandma, and grandpa on the phone while I'm shopping. $29.05
9 p.m. — I log on to finish up a few things from earlier and then get in bed around 9:45 with my book. I read for 30 minutes and then it's lights out.
Daily Total: $29.30

Day Six

6:10 a.m. — I feel extra tired, so I decide to sleep in and go to the gym during lunch, since my day is really light meeting-wise.
7 a.m. — Of course, I couldn't actually fall back asleep, so after rolling around in bed for an hour, I get up. My legs and back are extra sore today, and I feel stiff. Since I showered last night and will be showering again in a few hours, I skip my morning shower. I brush my teeth, wash my face, and put my contacts in. Then I go home to feed the cats, change, and grab my gym bag. I also try on my bathing suits from Aerie that arrived last night. The top looks AMAZING — potentially the most flattering top I have ever worn. I think I might need to order a couple more. The bottom is too tight, though, so I'll go after work to return it. I come back to C.'s place and make a cup of coffee and a slice of avocado toast with two fried eggs on top.
Advertisement
8:15 a.m. — Make it to work, fill up my water bottle, put in my headphones, and listen to My Favorite Murder while I make notecards. I eat a clementine and a handful of almonds while studying.
10:30 a.m. — I take a break to check Robinhood. The stock market has been volatile as hell this week. On Monday, I was down about $45, and today I'm only down $9. It's a wild roller coaster ride.
11 a.m. — Gym time! I'm extra sore and I don't have BCAAs with me, which sucks. I'll have to drink some tonight when I get home. I do 15 minutes on the bike and then chest, biceps, and triceps. I end by foam rolling and stretching a lot, because I am crazy sore still. Today is Member Appreciation Day at our gym, so I enter a raffle for a free Lululemon gift card.
12:30 p.m. — After showering and changing, I head to the cafeteria and get a salad for lunch (greens, carrots, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, breaded chicken, tofu, and roasted potatoes). My total is $0.80 after our stipend. I'm still starving after, so I have a PB&J bar from Trader Joe's. I also have C.'s ID and his lunch stipend to use, so I buy a can of cold brew. $0.80
2:20 p.m. — Starving again! Apparently midday workouts make my metabolism race. I eat another handful of almonds and get a flavored seltzer water from the kitchen, hoping that will keep my stomach from growling.
Advertisement
3 p.m. — Nope, not working today. I have a hazelnut chocolate Rxbar and hope for the best. This is why my bag is constantly stocked with snacks.
5 p.m. — I pick up a package for C. from a UPS pickup location. Then I drive down the road to the mall and stop in Target to try on bikini bottoms. I find ones that I love (a little cheeky but they don't cut into my hips), and then head to Aerie to return the bottoms that were too tight. I find high-waisted ones that I really like which are $5 more, so I end up saving no money. (Facepalm!) Oh well, I'm spending half of the coming week at the beach, so I need bathing suits! $24.99
6:45 p.m. — I give the cats their medicine and say hello. The dummies managed to get their food in their water bowl, so I wash it out and give them fresh water. I wash the dishes, pack my gym bag, and make breakfast for tomorrow while listening to My Favorite Murder. Then I head to C.'s place to have dinner and work.
7:15 p.m. — I eat a chicken burger on a whole wheat English muffin with a side of roasted carrots (all from Trader Joe's, from my hefty freezer stash). Then I have a raspberry and cream bar and call my family. I talk to my mom, brother, sister, and grandparents, and it feels nice to catch up. I head back around 8:40 to feed the babies.
Advertisement
9 p.m. — Go back to C.'s house, get ready for bed, and read more Chamber of Secrets. I'm determined to finish it before I sleep tonight, and I do! C. calls me around 10:30 and we talk until 11 when I go to sleep.
Daily Total: $25.79

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Ugh. Staying up that late to talk to C. was not a good idea — I feel wiped. I pull myself out of bed around 6:15, brush my teeth, and put my contacts in. I head back home to feed the kitty cats and freshen their water. Then I grind beans to make coffee, eat half a banana, take my vitamins, change, pack my bag with my breakfast/snacks, and head out. I listen to more My Favorite Murder while I drive in, because as much as it scares me, I'm hooked.
7:10 a.m. — Gym time. My legs are still so sore, so I scratch the run and hill sprints I had originally planned. I bike for 15 minutes, and then lift back and shoulders. I'm starting to see more definition, and it is exciting!! I end with abs, foam rolling, and stretching. I shower, dry shampoo my hair, throw it in a bun, and head to my desk.
8:50 a.m. — Get settled in with my breakfast (oats soaked in almond milk, chia and flax seeds, fat free Greek yogurt, half a banana, and agave syrup) and my coffee. I catch up on yesterday's Money Diary and some emails, and then get to work.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — I have a few lunchtime meetings today, so I go grab food a little early. I get a shrimp and avocado salad, which I eat with two rolls ($2.01 after stipend). $2.01
12 p.m. — The other junior consultants and I have a meet and greet call set up with the more senior consultants in our area of specialization. But the senior consultants never show up, so we end up just chatting about everyone's upcoming projects. I'm still, unfortunately, project-less.
2 p.m. — I use C.'s lunch stipend to stock up on more cold brews for us (per his request). I pay $1.03 after his stipend. I also eat a small bag of almonds and half a chocolate chip Rxbar during the afternoon while I finish off slides for tomorrow. $1.03
5 p.m. — Head out to go to European Wax Center for a Brazilian. I prepaid for my waxes (it was buy nine, get three free), and I go every five to six weeks. I love the girl I go to and always have a good time chatting with her about our respective love lives. It (almost) makes me barely notice I'm getting hair forcibly ripped out of my private parts. Almost. I tip $8. $8
6 p.m. — Home to check on kitties and give them their medicine. It was really hot today, so I crack the window for them to get some air. They don't seem to be overheating and I'm, for once, pleased about how little sunlight my apartment gets. I play with them for a little and then wash my dishes, prep my gym bag for tomorrow, and start packing for this weekend (I'm heading to C.'s mom's house on Saturday morning). I pack all my clothes and some of the cat's things and then head back to C.'s for food.
7 p.m. — I am beyond exhausted. I eat curry cauliflower quinoa salad mixed with meatless ground beef and a piece of whole wheat bread on the side. Then a few spoons of Ben & Jerry's Oat of this Swirled and a slice of whole wheat bread with almond butter and raspberry jam. I crawl into bed and mindlessly scroll through Instagram. Why am I so tired?! I force myself out of bed around 8 to go back and give the babies dinner.
8:15 p.m. — Come back to C.'s and put on the Skin Food Black Sugar scrub mask while I start Prisoner of Azkaban. I then brush my teeth, take out my contacts, put on the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, and get back in bed to read more. It's barely 8:45 and I'm already in bed with my Kindle and the lights out. Lame or cool?
9:45 p.m. — Put my Kindle away and try to sleep, but it's just not happening. C. calls me at 10 and we chat for 20 minutes before I try to sleep again.
Daily Total: $11.04
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
In addition to our Money Diaries, we're looking for people who want to talk to us about the following topics for other stories on Refinery29:
1. Calling all twins: In honor of National Twin Day, we're looking to showcase Money Diaries of twins. Make sure your twin is on board, and then email us here for a chance to be featured on the site.
2. Ever gotten a weird freebie from your job, like a lifetime supply of gum or a pet goldfish? We're rounding up the weirdest work perks out there. Email us here if you've got one to share.
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series