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 Digital Communications Manager working in Healthcare who makes $48,508 per year and spends some of her money this week on a soda.
Occupation: Digital Communications Manager
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,310.76
Gender Identity: Cis-Woman
Rent: $495 for my half of $990
Student Loans: $0 (my student loans of $25,000 were paid off just last year!)
Health Insurance: $81/per paycheck (pre-tax, deducted automatically)
Dental Insurance: $5.50/per paycheck (pre-tax, deducted automatically)
403(b) Contribution: ~$143/per paycheck (pre-tax, deducted automatically)
Savings: ~$393 (~30% of each paycheck is deposited automatically)
Phone: ~$25/month (total per month is around $50)
Internet: $22.47 (total per month is $44.95)
Therapy: $100 ($50/session, I go 2x/month)
Costco: $0 (am on brother’s family plan)
Netflix: $0 (I use a friend’s plan)
Hulu: $0 (I use another friend’s plan)
6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I roll out of bed to get ready for work. I kiss my partner, K. (he/him), good morning and make myself two slices of maple honey oat bread, which we baked yesterday for this week’s breakfasts, and a glass of water. As Paul Hollywood from Great British Bake-Off would say, “it’s massively over-proofed,” but I think it tastes fine. After breakfast, I go through my morning skincare routine — rinse my face, splash on Klairs Supple Preparation Toner, and apply Aveeno SPF 30 Daily Moisturizer. I’m out the door to get to the office by 7:45.
11 a.m. — I’ve settled into my emails and projects when I see my office manager has sent out an email addressing some “missing treats” from the office kitchen. Apparently a large tray of holiday cookies has gone missing from the kitchen fridge since yesterday (Sunday) and so this is a “gentle reminder to please remember that office treats are for staff to enjoy only, not to be taken home.” I’m less interested in a whole tray of cookies going missing and more appalled that anyone would come in on a Sunday to work. Frankly, I find the whole thing very funny and text my friend about it while eating my lunch (leftovers from last night, spicy garlic chive and pork stir fry).
4 p.m. — I leave the office for my therapy appointment at 5 (noted in my monthly expenses). Since I have a lot of time, I decide to pick up my “pickle of the month” beforehand, as the two locations are very close to each other. My friend, P. (they/them pronouns), makes lacto-fermented pickles in their Minneapolis kitchen and sells them at farmer’s markets, local pop-ups, and through the winter in their CSA-style pickle subscription. I purchased the subscription in the summer ($72 for three quart-size jars over three months) as a treat for the winter months, and so far each month’s pickles has been creative, funky, and delicious! Last month’s pickle was celery and mint, and it looks like this month’s is pickled black beans!
6:30 p.m. — I’m home and K. has made dinner already — Thai basil and pork stir fry over white rice! He recently got a cast iron wok and is very excited to use it for stir fry recipes picked out for the rest of the week. We talk about our days, my therapy session (which went really well), and try out the fermented black beans (which are funky and delicious). After dinner, K. does lesson plans (he’s a teacher) and I research bed-in-a-box mattresses online. There’s an overwhelming amount of options — not to mention the aggressive marketing — and after noting a couple of mattresses that might suit both of us, I put away the laptop and watch some ridiculous Munchies Youtube videos with K. before we decide to get ready for bed. I shower, do my nighttime skincare routine (double cleanse, Klairs toner, Belif Hungarian Water Essence, and Huxley Secret of Sahara More than Moist cream), and am in bed by 10.
Daily Total: $0
6:30 a.m. — I didn’t sleep well but get up anyway to sit with K. while he eats breakfast. I like to drink a full glass of water in the morning as I wake up, and do so while scrolling through Twitter. I pack two slices of maple honey oat bread (to eat at my desk), my lunch, and move on to do my morning skincare routine and get dressed for work. I get to the office by 7:45 again and see a small cookie tray in the office kitchen — did the cookie monster bring the tray back out of guilt? Lol!
12:30 p.m. — It’s lunchtime! My co-worker, V. (she/her pronouns), and I made plans to get lunch today. We go to Costco because I need gas ($27.39) and we can go to the food court before wandering around the warehouse. I get their hot dog and soda deal ($1.61) and she gets a slice of pizza. We catch up on my work trip from last week to Florida, the cookie monster, the upcoming holiday party, and office gossip. $29
4 p.m. — I leave work and go to the library to pick up some books I had placed on hold — a poetry book by Layli Long Soldier titled Whereas, a book on Adobe Illustrator, and three graphic novels for the Cartoon Network mini-series, Over the Garden Wall. I just finished the series and I LOVED it so much! It’s really cute and whimsical, but it also addresses dark themes and has really good plot twists. I highly recommend it!
5 p.m. — K. isn’t home yet so I look over my financials for the month to see how I’m doing. I’m trying to save up for a web developer boot camp that I’ll start next March and it is not cheap — $10,995 for an intensive, six-month course that will result in a “full stack web developer” certification. I make a note to increase my savings allotment from 30% of my paycheck to 40% and it looks like I’ll be able to save the amount by March, with a little cushion! The boot camp also offers a monthly payment plan (payable over the course of the boot camp), which makes the full amount much more manageable. K. gets home just as I wrap up and we start to prep the ingredients for dinner — a stir fry for chicken in Chee Hou sauce.
7 p.m. — After dinner, K. works on lesson plans while I read through the Adobe Illustrator book I borrowed from the library. It looks like I won’t be able to follow along very well, as the book is written with the expectation that the reader has AI (which I don’t) and access to the book’s library of video tutorials with its one-time access code (I doubt I am the first person to have seen the access code). I find the book useful and interesting anyway since I want to see how one could go about creating art digitally. After a bit, I decide to get ready for bed. I shower, do my skincare routine, and crawl into bed. K. and I are asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $29
6:30 a.m. — Same routine — I drink water, pack my food, do my skincare routine, and am out the door to work by 7:30. I jump between projects and emails while listening to Nicole Byer’s and Sasheer Zamata’s podcast, Best Friends. I love listening to them because they have a great rapport and Nicole is just so funny and says the most random things. I loved watching her on Nailed It! and especially love listening to her other podcast, Why Won’t You Date Me?
12:30 p.m. — I take a break from work and eat my leftovers from last night while reading through Whereas, the poetry book I borrowed from the library. Reading the book also reminds me of my time as an undergrad immersed in poetry and creative writing — just really introspective, creative, and romantic. I miss that world very much and think about writing more in 2020 as a new year’s resolution.
2 p.m. — I mosey over to the office gift exchange, which I chose not to participate in this year in an effort to save money towards the boot camp. It’s in full swing as people steal each other’s gifts with glee amidst gasps of surprise and outrage. Keep in mind, the hot ticket items are usually snowmen/gnome decorations or fuzzy throws. I love the good-natured ribbing between my co-workers and even got to play for a couple of them who weren’t present but had contributed a gift. Someone gifted a Someecards daily calendar, which didn’t go over so well with the office manager and the recipient (both thought the gift was “inappropriate for our office”).
4 p.m. — I go home and turn on a 20-minute Yoga with Adrienne video. I got into these yoga videos on the suggestion of my therapist this past summer, who thought it would be a good idea to cultivate mindfulness and relieve my anxiety around my mortality. I wouldn’t say it has become my go-to for stress relief, but I do find them incredibly helpful when I feel tension in my body or find myself anxious because I’m not “doing anything” even though I’m not sure I should be doing anything? After yoga, I begin prepping ingredients for the next stir fry on K.’s list, Thai chili sauce chicken. (Side note: all these recipes are from The Woks of Life, an amazing Chinese-American food blog). I also stir fry leftover garlic chives from Sunday’s recipe with eggs, a classic dish from my childhood that reminds me of my mom. K. finally comes home and we sit down to eat and catch up on our days.
7 p.m. — After dinner, we snuggle on the couch while K. scrolls through his phone and I read more of the Adobe Illustrator book. I’m starting to see that a lot of the techniques in the book are techniques I’ve used in places like Microsoft Word and Canva. I do think AI is a really robust tool that allows one to make minute adjustments to personalize their work, but maybe mastering AI isn’t the only way to be good at graphic design/digital art? I just wish it didn’t cost so much. I put away the book as K. wants to cuddle and watch a movie, so I pull up Booksmart on Hulu. Afterward, we do our nightly routine and go to bed at 10.
Daily Total: $0
6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I go through the usual morning routine. I get to work around 7:30 am and spend the morning working on my boot camp “pre-work,” which is strongly recommended for people like me who have never coded a day in our lives. I create a fan page for Lizzo from scratch using HTML and actually have fun seeing it come together. I leave my fan page and head into a three-hour meeting with a consultant.
2 p.m. — Meeting is over! I check my emails and follow up on a couple of projects. While I wait for a response, I call my bank about a debit card that never appeared in the mail. It looks like they tried to send it to my old address on file, even though I asked them to change the address when I opened the account. A part of me knew this would happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it. They promise to send the debit card right away to my current address. I go back to my projects and the rest of the workday goes by fast.
4 p.m. — I rush home since I am meeting a friend at a poetry reading later tonight and wanted to get some things done beforehand. I do a “yoga core” video with Adrienne, which kicks my butt. I am about to prep dinner when my friend texts me asking for a raincheck. This works for me, and we reschedule for Sunday afternoon. With my night suddenly free (which I never complain about!), I turn on Queer Eye on Netflix and watch a couple episodes instead until K. comes home. We decide to reheat leftovers for dinner.
7 p.m. — After dinner, I settle in to read one of the Over the Garden Wall graphic novels, which takes place between the events that happen during the mini-series and fills in the blanks on some of the characters’ backstories. I fly through it and end up watching a couple of videos on YouTube from BestDressed. I really like Ashley since she has a kick-ass sense of fashion and she keeps it real with mental health issues. I watch her videos on holiday outfits and why she hates LA (lol) before I do my nighttime routine and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0
6:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I briefly consider going to work later since our holiday party is at noon and we’d get the rest of the afternoon off afterward. Knowing me, I will probably need all the time I have in the morning to finish work before the long holiday break. I do my usual morning routine and head to the office.
8 a.m. — As if on cue, I get sidetracked from emails and work by the sales happening at Madewell and Anthropologie. With the BestDressed video on holiday party outfits still in my mind, I do the familiar dance of adding everything I like to my cart and then agonizing over which items I should remove. Repeat for & Other Stories, Everlane, and Aritzia. Earlier this year, I tracked my spending on clothes and shoes and discovered I had blown through the equivalent of two paychecks over the year. With some new, concrete financial goals in mind (like the boot camp and building up my savings), I decided to do a no-buy for the remainder of the year. Even though the clothes are tempting, I remind myself of the intense buyer’s remorse I would feel and exit out of all the shopping tabs. I frantically spend the last hour I have before noon finishing work on my to-do list.
12 p.m. — I drive to the fancy restaurant where the holiday party is held. We’ve been doing the holiday party at this restaurant for the past three years, and while it’s pretty and expensive (the servers wear leather aprons!), the food doesn’t actually taste that great. However, it’s all paid for by the organization, so I don’t complain as I load up on the appetizers — lobster guacamole, fried duck wontons, and loaded potato croquettes with sriracha mayo. There’s also a lot of alcohol, and I get a glass of a red blend from the server. I find my co-worker, V., and we join two other co-workers I don’t usually talk to, A. and B. (both he/him pronouns). We end up talking about B.’s boss and the previous people that filled his role. After a bit, lunch is served — beef tenderloin tips, brick pressed roasted chicken, and creamy vegetable gnocchi with chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream for dessert. There’s leftovers, already boxed up, and I take the guac and brick pressed chicken home.
2 p.m. — I leave the party and head to the bank to deposit a reimbursement check from my work trip last week. When I get home, I do some more pre-work for the boot camp until about 4:30. I decide to take out the frozen log of matcha white chocolate shortbread cookie dough for a latke party K. and I will be attending tonight. I let it thaw for 10 minutes before slicing it up and baking it. While it’s baking, I prep the ingredients for our last stir-fry recipe of the week — shredded pork in sweet bean sauce. K. comes home and he’s surprised I am making dinner — he was under the impression we could go out for a quick bite before heading to the party. By this point, I’ve already prepped everything, so we do end up making dinner at home and resolve to go out to eat tomorrow.
6:45 p.m. — K. and I arrive at our friend’s house for the latke party! The last time we were all together was in October, so we are all very excited to catch up. We grab some food (latkes, cheeses, vegetable plate, smoked salmon, crackers, cookies) and put on music while chatting and joking. It’s a small crowd, enough for a game of Trivial Pursuit, which I have never actually played before. I quickly realize I am terrible at it and I take over the Spotify playlist instead. When the game is done, K. and I head out for home after promises of seeing each other soon.
Daily Total: $0
6 a.m. — Even though it’s Saturday, I wake up extremely early. Once I’m awake, it is very difficult for me to go back to sleep and this morning is no exception. I alternate between scrolling on my phone and closing my eyes, but eventually, give up around 7:30 and make myself breakfast. K. gets up a little later and we plan out our day over breakfast. We have to pick up books from the library, test out mattresses at Sleep Sherpa, find gifts at Support Local Hustle (a cash-only pop-up event by BIPOC for BIPOC), stop by the fancy Asian grocery store United Noodles for more rice, and then eat at Midori’s Floating World Cafe.
11 a.m. — Sleep Sherpa has a bunch of bed-in-a-box brands on display in their showroom, and we spent a good hour testing out each mattress. When we leave, I feel overwhelmed again but glad to have tested them out — there were a couple brands we definitely ruled out. We head over to the location for Support Local Hustle, which is an amazing pop-up market organized by none other than my pickle friend! SLH is one of the most intimate, friendly, and personal markets I’ve been to. I have great conversations with the vendors and there’s amazing goods for sale (like gochujang, specialty chocolates, and pickles!). K. gets some pickles (another jar of fermented black beans and pickled cucumbers) as gifts to his parents, I write a letter to an imprisoned sex worker who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I also contribute money to a solidarity fund for abruptly laid-off workers from a local bike store. $10
12:30 p.m. — We walk across the street to Midori’s Floating World Cafe, a very cute, quiet Japanese restaurant. We order kitsune udon, unagidon, and a sushi lunch to share. The service is a little slow (I think there was only one person working), but the food is amazing -—I’m already excited to go back. K. pays for lunch, and we walk back to his car, stopping by the local book store in the area to check out the kid’s section.
2 p.m. — We head to United Noodles next to restock on rice, but the rice is expensive! They charge $30 for a 25-lb bag of jasmine rice when I know I could get the same thing for $22 at Costco. I love going to United Noodles because it is stocked with fun stuff I don’t usually get at the local Asian grocery store by our apartment, but it’s also much more expensive. We decide against the rice and end up picking up sand pears, Ataulfo mangos (K. really wants these), miso, shimeji and enoki mushrooms, bok choy, ruby chocolate Kit Kats, and a bag of Calbee Hot & Spicy potato chips. I pay for the groceries. $44.20
4 p.m. — We get home and stop by the apartment office to pick up the new Zojirushi rice cooker K. bought last week. We unload the groceries and K. settles into the couch to rest for a bit. I find the kitchen area messy, which spikes my anxiety levels. I start cleaning — wiping down counters, washing dishes, spot-treating the sticky parts of the floor. I also clean the new Zojirushi and unplug our old rice cooker to move it aside. We originally thought our old rice cooker was broken, but after K. cleaned it’s interior, it’s worked just fine all week. However, I am not complaining about this upgrade. I love the little songs that announce when the rice has started/finished, the different cooking settings depending on what type of rice you have, even the quality of the inner pan is so much better than our old rice cooker. I dig out some sushi rice from the back of our cupboard — this’ll tide us over until we make it to Costco to get a bag of jasmine rice.
6:30 p.m. — I move out of the kitchen so K. can work on his project of the weekend -—taking the gigantic jar of scotch bonnets, which have been fermenting for the past five months on our counter, and blending it down into hot sauce. Despite multiple fans going, the apartment is filled with irritating pepper, and K. and I both wear surgical masks in an attempt to protect our throats (it doesn’t really work). He uses our hand blender to break the peppers down and adds apple cider vinegar to cut the spice. He ladles them into jars and I help him tag them for different people as gifts.
8 p.m. — With the hot sauce done, we open a few bottles of hard cider and watch Enter the Dragon on Netflix. I don’t really like it, but seeing Bruce Lee in his prime is fun. I put on a sheet mask and scroll through my phone before turning in for the night.
Daily Total: $54.20
6:45 a.m. — I wake up early again and this time, I don’t fight it. I move to the living room and alternate between Twitter and Instagram until K. gets up. K. really wants milk, which we didn’t get yesterday, but I don’t want to leave the apartment yet. He leaves and I read another volume of Over the Garden Wall. I make myself breakfast and start picking up around the apartment. K. comes back and makes himself some coffee and breakfast sausage.
11 a.m. — K. and I watch Rango on Hulu, which is a very cute film. I open up the bag of Calbee potato chips I bought yesterday for a snack, but decide it doesn’t cut it and make kimchi soup to have for lunch. I am able to use up the kimchi I made in the summer, plus add some ingredients from United Noodles I purchased yesterday. After I eat, I head out to meet my friend, M., for our rescheduled time together.
2 p.m. — I have a really great time at my friend M.’s apartment! We exchange gifts (she got me a Terrace House pin of the infamous coward omelet and some stickers depicting Opening New Doors motifs; I got her the book Octavia’s Brood and a sew-on patch that says, Build Communities), cuddled with her beautiful black cat, and watched the beginning of Over the Garden Wall (I had been talking about it to her last week and she agreed to watch some of it with me!). She worked on a cross-stitching project while we chatted about life, school (she’s in grad school), and mutual friends.
6 p.m. — I’m home and eat leftovers for dinner (K. already ate). We spend the rest of the night watching a few episodes of Great British Bake-Off while K. sorts his Magic cards and I prepare my weekly planner for the next week. Tomorrow is my only day of work for the week as we’ll be up north to spend the holidays with his family. We go through our nightly routine and I fall asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $0
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