A Week In St. Paul, MN, On A $130,000 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 VP of student affairs who makes $130,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on Pepto for kids.
Occupation: Vice President, Student Affairs
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 39
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Salary: $130,000
Full-Time Paycheck (2x/month): $2,787 (main job)
Freelance Paycheck (Once Per Month): $750
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,426. I own a house with my husband and two kids.
Student Loan Payments: $670 in student loans
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All Other Monthly Expenses
Cell Phone: $180
Cable & Internet: $170
Utilities: $175
Gym Membership: $120
Car Insurance: $80
Roth IRA: $250

Day One

8:15 a.m. — My husband is in charge of getting the kids out the door to school, so I sleep in as late as possible and then hustle to get to work on time. On the way to the college campus where I work, I hit the McDonald's drive-through for a large Diet Coke and a sausage biscuit. McDonald's Diet Coke makes my morning possible. $4.74
10:15 a.m. — I have a quick break in between meetings, so I do a little online shopping. I'm one of those people that has finished Christmas shopping by October, but I see a Liverpool FC t-shirt my husband will like, so I order it and make sure it gets shipped to my office. My husband is a stay-at-home dad so he's home most of the day, which makes hiding online purchases tricky. We're really open about financial stuff, but the holidays are still a time for a little minor sneakiness. $27.50
2:45 p.m. — I'm in meetings all day, but am suddenly so hungry I feel like I might barf. I go to the cafeteria at school and get a cup of soup and half sandwich. I'm too hungry to be annoyed at how overpriced our cafeteria is for how boring the food tastes. $9
5:15 p.m. — Tonight is "snack-dinner movie night" at home. I make popcorn on the stove and a frozen pizza for dinner for the kids, along with a bowl full of Halloween candy to nibble on. They choose Mary Poppins from OnDemand and I rent it for $2.99. My Friday nights are considerably less expensive than they used to be! $2.99
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Daily Total: $44.23

Day Two

8:15 a.m. — The weekend starts with a trip to the YMCA. The kids go to the childcare area; two hours are included with the family membership, which is a great deal considering two hours of babysitting would run us at least $20. I hit the pool for some laps and buy a bottle of water from the vending machine when I'm done. $1.25
10:35 a.m. — My husband is working at his part-time job at a sporting goods store, so I drag the kids to Costco. We are out of basically everything, so I stock up on meat, toilet paper, snacks, vitamins, laundry soap, and more. After we shop, we hit the food court for the $1.50 hot dogs and share a $1 churro. I'm amazed at how easy it is to spend over $200 on food and household items. I grew up very poor, and was wildly in debt in my 20s, so sometimes it still feels like magic that there is always enough money in the checking account for groceries or whatever else we need. $254.89
1:30 p.m. — I take the kids to a private indoor park so they can run off some energy. While they play, I work on a freelance article. Even though my job pays pretty well, I feel more secure if I have extra money coming in, so I have a side hustle. I'll make $150 once the article is finished, so $16 for park admissions seems like a good investment. $16
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Daily Total: $272.14

Day Three

11 a.m. — My husband and I try to make sure we each get some alone time each weekend, so I head out to a local coffee shop with my laptop. I get an iced coffee and work on my really terrible first attempt at a novel for a few hours. $4.50
1:15 p.m. — I found the perfect, cozy tunic-length sweatshirt top (with pockets!) on sale online a few weeks ago. At $14 each, I order two more colors and try not to feel crabby about the $7.95 shipping charges. I don't succeed. $37.84
1:45 p.m. — My gas light is on so I stop for a fill up of my 2010 Subaru. My car has been paid off for a few years now, and is quickly approaching 100,000 miles. It's been totally reliable, so I'm hopeful we'll get at least another five years out of it before we have to replace it. I've been trying to put a little money aside each month toward an eventual car replacement, but I still owe over $65,000 in student loans from grad school and undergrad so I have a hard time not wanting to throw all my extra money at those loans instead. $35
Daily Total: $77.34

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — McDonald's Diet Coke again. Hello, lover. I don't get any food today because I've been promised that there will be bagels at my first meeting of the day at work. I've never been one to turn down free carbs. $1.08
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12:15 p.m. — I meet up with a colleague from another college for lunch. I get the salad bar and another Diet Coke. My lunch date is newly married and about a decade younger than me. We end up talking about kids (she's on the fence about having them) and I shock her by telling her how much daycare and preschool cost in our area. My daughter started kindergarten this fall and the fact that we no longer have a $904 monthly preschool bill has been amazing for our finances. $17.58
6:15 p.m. — I'm pooped when I get home and my husband is headed out to his drop-in art class ($20), so I make a last-minute dinner decision to get Chinese delivered. I order one soup and three entrees. We'll easily get three meals out of this, so I pack up some of the lo mein for my lunch tomorrow. $35.12
11:45 p.m. — My son wakes us up because he has barfed in his bed. My husband starts clean up duties and I drive to the drug store to get Gatorade and kids Pepto. I correctly predict that we are in for a rough night. I end up sleeping on my son's floor for most of the night. $11.63
Daily Total: $65.41

Day Five

11:45 a.m. — After a crappy night of sleep due to my son's stomach bug, I call in sick to work to catch up on sleep. Once I wake up, my husband goes to the YMCA for a run and I order delivery of soup and bread from Panera. I give my son some applesauce we got at Costco over the weekend and hope I don't catch his bug. $14.45
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2:45 p.m. — I rent a Harry Potter movie for the sick kiddo and we cuddle up on the couch to watch it. I field work emails on my phone for most of the movie and remember to approve time sheets for my direct reports so they get paid. $3.99
Daily Total: $18.44

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I get breakfast at Panera (a bagel sandwich and a Diet Coke) using a gift card. I use a credit card with rewards points for almost every purchase and then every couple of months, cash those in for a gift card to Target, Starbucks, or Panera. We never carry a balance on the card, so the $100 gift card feels like free money. I spend 30 minutes working on my novel before I head into work.
4:30 p.m. — After a stressful day at work, I do a little online shopping before I head home. Do I need $26 worth of new pens? No. But buying art supplies is soothing and cheaper than therapy. I also order a bottle of lube, grateful to the gods of online shopping that I don't have to buy that when I have my kids in tow at Target. $36.75
8:15 p.m. — My son's school is doing another field trip, so I tuck the field trip fee into his lunch box. We've been back in school for less than four months and this is his fifth or sixth field trip. I'm glad he gets to do fun stuff, but I don't know how some families afford the extras for stuff like this. The cost of this one is $5 for the bus, but we put in an extra $10 for scholarships in case there are kids who can't afford it. $15
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11:45 p.m. — I get an email from Planned Parenthood requesting a donation, so I give $50. I'm trying to be more consistent in our charitable donations but we're still not as generous as we probably should be. $50
Daily Total: $101.75

Day Seven

7:56 a.m. — Diet Coke and a yogurt from the school cafeteria. I really need to start eating breakfast at home, but school days feel a little chaotic and I try not to keep soda in the house so the kids don't ask for it. Thankfully, the kids both get breakfast at school (free for all kids in our district) so I don't have to worry about feeding them. $3.21
11:45 a.m. — My assistant makes a coffee run, so I give her $5 and she brings me an iced latte. Just the thing I need to get through a budget meeting this afternoon. $5
8:45 p.m. — Registration opens for some kid activities for the winter. I sign my son up for indoor tennis and a robotics club. My daughter gets tennis, ice skating, and community ed tumbling classes. I'm always trying to find the balance between not over scheduling them and giving them chances to try new things. I'm guessing I'll need to set aside another $50 for new ice skates for my daughter before lessons start. $260
9:15 p.m. — Last summer, we went to family camp for a week and it was amazing. The camp is super popular, so they hold a lottery for registration spots. I put down the $150 deposit and cross my fingers that we'll get lucky in the lottery. If we get a spot, it will cost us just under $2,000 for the week, but I've already got money set aside for that. I work over 60 hours a week, so I look forward to that vacation all year long. $150
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Daily Total: $418.21
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