A Week In Sugar Land, TX On A $72,000 Salary

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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.
This week: a recruiter who makes $72,000 per year and spends it on an $8 piece of escolar at happy hour.
Occupation: Recruiter
Industry: Consulting
Age: 26
Location: Sugar Land, TX
Salary: $72,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,035.80
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $0. I just moved back to my hometown after living in Austin for another job. My parents welcomed me back to my childhood home with open arms. (I should probably mention that I am of South Asian descent, and living with your parents before marriage is really common in our culture!)
Loan Payments: $0. Thank you, Mom and Dad!
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Hulu: $7.99/month
Orangetheory Fitness: $100/month. (Although it is on hold right now.)
Spotify Premium: $9.99/month
1 of 8
6:50 a.m. — I wake up bright and early and roll around in bed until I finally gather the strength to get up, go through my morning routine, and head downstairs for breakfast. My mom left scrambled eggs with avocado and a glass of chai for me before she went to work. I gobble it up and hit the road.

9 a.m. — I work in downtown Houston, and the traffic to get up north is no joke. I get to the office after sitting in traffic for a whole hour. I am one and a half weeks into my new job, but I already have a laundry list of things to accomplish. Time to get started, I guess?

11:45 a.m. — My stomach is rumbling. My mom packed a gourmet sandwich for me that I almost literally eat in three bites. I know, I know, I am spoiled — but I can't help it. She is an amazing chef! Why would I ever turn down her food if she offers?

3:30 p.m. — My new job provides access to free snacks, so I head to the kitchen for some SkinnyPop popcorn. It's delicious and keeps me going for the rest of the workday.

6:15 p.m. — After sitting in traffic for an hour, I meet up with my boyfriend, S, for sushi; he lives with his mom in Sugar Land, too, about 15 minutes away from my house. After more than a year of long distance, it is nice to be able to just grab a quick bite on a weekday. He and I split an appetizer portion of gyoza, and I order one piece of nigiri and two rolls for myself. He pays, but I text him later to see how much I should Venmo him. $20

9 p.m. — I wrap up family time and head to my room for a bit of "me" time, a routine I've had going since I was a kid. It has changed over the years and now consists of watching new episodes of any of the thousands of sitcoms I watch, scrolling through my favorite celebrity gossip blog, and texting my friends to catch up. After about an hour and a half, I head to sleep.

Daily Total: $20
2 of 8
6:50 a.m. — Same morning routine as always. The only difference is that my mom has left oatmeal instead of scrambled eggs. I dig it; that woman is a queen.

9 a.m. — I get to work and grab Earl Grey tea from our kitchen. It's going to be a long day of checking things off my to-do list, and I need all the energy I can get.

12:30 p.m. — I head over to Salata for lunch. I get a small salad with chicken, which I most certainly do not think is worth $9, yet here I am: paying and salivating. The choices we make out of hunger are amazing. I head back to my desk to eat. Ironically enough, my lunchtime routine consists of reading Money Diaries. $9

6 p.m. — Finally back home. I am greeted by the seven kids my mom tutors. She usually likes to spread the sessions throughout the week, but since they all have standardized state tests next week, the cramming begins now. The kids are in the fourth to seventh grades, and I love talking to them about their lives. Today, I am informed that I'm ancient because I was born in "the 1900s." It was 1991; come on!

8 p.m. — My mom wraps up her tutoring, and we eat dinner as a family. Our new tradition is to eat in the game room upstairs while watching Jeopardy. We've never been the eat-at-the-dinner-table type of family, so this works with who we are. Since I wasn't home for dinner last night, we have two episodes of Jeopardy to watch. I'll take "Feeling Full and Happy" for 400, Alex.

11 p.m. — After my nightly "me" routine, I head to sleep. Tomorrow is Friday!

Daily Total: $9
3 of 8
6:50 a.m. — Scrambled eggs and avocado for breakfast. Apparently, I'm not supposed to eat eggs daily, which is why my mom is trying to switch it up with oatmeal now and again. I can't complain; she could be a real chef.

12 p.m. — This morning has been a whirlwind. I'm helping put on my first event at work, a small presentation during lunch about interns. The company caters lunch every Friday, so I enjoy some fajita tacos before standing up for the presentation. I rate both the food and the presentation a 10.

4 p.m. — My afternoon is even busier than my morning, so when I see my partner packing up to leave early, I decide to do the same. It is Friday during our less-busy season, after all.

11 p.m. — After I wrap up family time and "me" time, I get a text from my boyfriend about going out downtown. The thought of traveling 35 minutes to drink and then finding a way to get back seems like a hassle, and I'm already in bed feeling super comfy. I end up knocking out and catching some ZZZs.

Daily Total: $0
4 of 8
9:30 a.m. — I wake up and head downstairs to see one of my mom's students. We chat for a bit, and I ask my mom what her day looks like. It's her birthday on Monday, and I thought she might like to be treated to a little mother-daughter shopping spree. She is excited; I grab a couple of clementines and head upstairs to get ready.

12 p.m. — My dad has FOMO after hearing about our plans and wants to be our Uber driver. I swear, I don't know what I did to deserve both of them. We leave for the Houston Galleria, and I make sure I take my purse. There have been times I've conveniently forgotten my wallet.

4 p.m. — We get back from the Houston Galleria with countless bags. I've inherited a gene from my mom where I never try on clothes at the store. We buy, come home to try everything on with the proper accessories, and then return what we don't like if we aren't happy with it. It's not the most efficient method, but we don't mind the extra errands. I ended up purchasing three tops for my mom for a grand total of $120 bucks. She's really happy about two, but after trying the sweater on, decides that I should return it, bringing my total to $100 + tax. I, on the other hand, spent about $330 on 10 pieces from Zara for myself. After coming home and trying them on, I decide to keep three of them. $456.34

5:30 p.m. — I'm feeling a little bummed that only three basic pieces worked out, so my mom suggests that we go to the Nordstrom Rack five minutes away to see if I'll have more luck. I end up purchasing a pair of shorts, two skirts, a jumpsuit, and makeup remover. After I get home and try everything on, I realize that only the two skirts work (and the makeup remover). But this time I am content! I'll return the rest tomorrow, but for now, I have a wedding reception to get ready for! $191.23

6:30 p.m. — I get to the reception and find my boyfriend and his brother. I don't know the bride or groom at all, but I was invited because I am friends with the bride's brother (who also happens to be my boyfriend's best friend). About seven of our mutual friends show up; we hit up the open bar and prepare to dance the night away.

12 a.m. — I am happy and exhausted from all the dancing, and the DJ tells us that this will be the last song. We talk about going to the after-party, which is at a hotel just a few miles away away and en route to my house. I tell myself I won't go, because I am tired and need rest for tomorrow — but I'm there by 12:30. I guess FOMO runs in my family. I grab a beer and a slice of pizza, and hang out with friends some more.

2 a.m. — Finally in bed! I am exhausted, but I impress myself by still taking off my makeup. I don't want to move ever.

Daily Total: $647.57
5 of 8
10:30 a.m. — I wake up, not hungover. Score! I head downstairs for a large water bottle and a few clementines, and put on some trash TV. This is my ideal morning.

1 p.m. — One of my college roommates is in town, and we decide to catch up over coffee. She's engaged, so naturally a bulk of the conversation surrounds all her wedding preparations. She's also in school in Chicago getting her MBA, so I am doubly excited when she tells me that her internship this summer is in Dallas. I make a mental note to plan at least one trip there in the coming months. $4.23

3:30 p.m. — We could spend forever catching up, but her fiancé texts about early dinner plans, and we go our separate ways. I decide to go Nordstrom Rack to get my $150 back from all my returns. I also stop by Sephora with a return that has been sitting in my car for a couple weeks. While there, I call my dad about meeting at the Apple Store. We want to get my mom a new iPhone and iPad since both of hers are old and have been giving her trouble. He pays since I covered the shopping spree (and there's also no way I could drop $1,000 on birthday gifts).

6:30 p.m. — I come home earlier than my dad so that my mom isn't suspicious. When my dad arrives, we give her her new toys! She is beyond excited and immediately wants me to teach her how to use Amazon. She is the cutest!

11 p.m. — After dinner, I spend some quality time with the almost-Birthday Girl and pick out my outfit for tomorrow. I put a sleep timer on my TV and drift off while watching Friends.

Daily Total: $4.23
6 of 8
6:50 a.m. — Monday morning, blah. I check my work phone and realize that I have a training at 8:15. I really need to start checking my iCal the night before. I text my manager to ask if I can do my training from home and then come into the office, since there's no way I will get there in time, even if I get ready in 15 minutes. She tells me it's fine, and I use my home desk for the first time in a while.

10:30 a.m. — After a quick 30-minute drive into DT, I take on the rest of my tasks for the day. It's amazing how quick and actually enjoyable my drive is when it's not peak rush hour. It's heads down for the rest of the day.

11:15 a.m. — I was pretty nervous about texting my boss this morning, so I didn't really have an appetite for breakfast. Now, I am starving. My mom packed me some Asian noodles, and I eat them in 10 minutes. Crisis averted.

4:30 p.m. — I joke with my manager about how spending all day on a spreadsheet is not a job for a recruiter! In all honesty, my head does hurt a lot. She agrees and tells me to head out for the day. I happily oblige.

5:15 p.m. — I go to DSW for a quick return (a trend) and wonder if my headache is actually hunger? I decide I need some Chipotle — a burrito bowl with chicken should do it. $7.02

5:30 p.m. — Before heading home, I stop by Kroger's to pick up a bouquet of flowers for my mom. We surprised her with her gifts throughout the weekend, but I want her to feel like we remembered to do something on the actual day. $21.60

7 p.m. — Since I ate my Chipotle the moment I got home, I don't eat dinner with my family, but we do catch up on Jeopardy and hang out.

11 p.m. — Sleep timer? Check. Friends? Check. Eyes closed? Check.

Daily Total: $28.62
7 of 8
6:50 a.m. — Same morning routine as always, except I switch things up and watch House Hunters while eating breakfast instead of watching The Price is Right, which my dad prefers.

8:50 a.m. — My commute is actually becoming more bearable as summer creeps closer. I guess with all the Rice, University of Houston, and Texas Southern students leaving for summer break, everyone wins. I grab an Earl Grey tea and head to my desk for another heads-down day.

11:30 a.m. — Another $9 on Salata. The convenience for a healthy meal is just too good, but I make a mental note to start meal prepping, and another mental note to actually follow through. $9

5 p.m. — A few of my friends from college texted last night about meeting up at Uchi for happy hour. I try to bring lunch on days that I go out for dinner, but we made these plans so late at night that I decided to splurge. Plus, the only time I can actually ever afford Uchi is during happy hour, so it seems worth it.

7 p.m. — We all share an order of Brussels sprouts and a bottle of wine. I also order one roll, an expensive ($8!) piece of escolar, and a veggie roll to share with my friend. I end up footing the bill and charging everyone on Venmo; they promptly pay me back. $35.39

11:30 p.m. — I get home, hang out with my parents for a bit, then catch up on "me" time. I hit the pillows around 10:45 p.m., but right before I fall asleep, I start wondering about a misplaced receipt. I stay up for a bit thinking before I finally get some rest — making yet another mental note to stop buying and returning. (One can dream!)

Daily Total: $44.39
8 of 8
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