Money Diary

Inspired by the Money Diaries series on one of my favorite websites, Refinery29, I joined in on its mission of "tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women" by tracking my weekly expenses. While I understand that disclosing information such as salary publicly could be seen as an inappropriate over-sharing, I found that being transparent with my financial situation helped me to make better spending decisions and may also encourage other young people to take ownership of their finances. Who knows? Maybe these Diaries will be the nudge that encourages young men and women to negotiate for a better salary, learn more about investing, or become more conscious of just how much their Starbucks habit is drinking away their earnings. (Okay, that last one was for me...)

Saturday, April 1

Occupation: Communications Associate
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Salary: $41,000

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $510 including utilities
Loan Payments: $600 in student loans
Savings: $200

All Other Monthly Expenses
Health Insurance: $88.30
Retirement: $85.72
Car Insurance: ~$30.00
Gym Membership: $27.46
Spotify Premium: $11.00

10:00 a.m. — After sleeping in a bit, my boyfriend and I drive downtown to check out the farmer's market. It's still in the final weeks of the winter market and the offerings are a bit sparse, so we don't spend too much time there, instead choosing to grab coffee nearby. I order an iced latte and my boyfriend picks up a coffeecake for us to split. We spend the next hour walking the neighborhood and popping into Whole Foods Market where we look around and snack on free samples. $4.75

1:00 p.m. — My boyfriend and I were mailed a coupon for BOGO burger boxes at a place near his work. We each get a burger and fries. My boyfriend picks up the tab and I drop him off at work.

2:00 p.m. — My mom and sister had lunch together and want to stop by my place to say hi. We walk to the park across the street and catch up while enjoying the warm weather.

4:30 p.m. — I head out to run errands, starting with a trip to FedEx. I am mailing my water-damaged college laptop to a company that buys computers for parts. Shipping is prepaid, but I am charged for the box, bubble wrap, and tape I use to package my laptop up. $8.04

5:00 p.m. — I make my weekly pilgrimage to the promised land -- AKA Costco. I drop a quarter on a bottle of water to drink while I shop. I usually only buy produce here because it's tough to store too many economy-sized things in my matchbox-sized house; this weeks haul includes two pounds of strawberries, two pineapples, bananas, and sweet corn.  $18.05

5:30 p.m. — I've recently opened my eyes to the wonders of Aldi, where I stop to pick up the rest of my groceries for the week. I am so impressed with the produce prices. (Is adulthood the point in your life when the low cost of zucchini becomes a highlight?) I like to meal prep for the week so I pick up cowboy caviar ingredients, zucchini to spiralize into zoodles, granola, honey, paper towels, parmesan cheese, and sweet potato chips. I remember I'm supposed to be making a cheesey dish for a work event on Monday, so I throw in some elbow macaroni that I can use to make mac and cheese. $37.22

6:15 p.m. — As I drive home, I snack on the sweet potato chips I bought. I finish off the bag as I pull into my driveway. Dreading the thirty foot walk to bring my groceries inside, I pull up a YouTube video on my phone and decide to test out the Costco strawberries. Twenty minutes later, I have watched several videos and consumed two pounds of strawberries. I am a monster.

10:00 p.m. — I wasn't very hungry for dinner after the impossible amount of food I ate on my drive home, so I spend the evening chopping some fruits and vegetables for the week and watching The Office before falling asleep.

Daily total: $68.06


Sunday, April 2

9:30 a.m. — I wake up a bit later than I was hoping to before heading out on my run. I am training for a marathon and-- now that my runs are getting a bit longer-- I like to get a head start so I can be home before noon. I am aiming for 12 miles, but end up running just over 15 due to my inability to estimate distance. I get home, rehydrate, and have a few cucumber slices and a smoothie bowl with granola.

1:30 p.m. — Due to an unplanned shortage of strawberries, my boyfriend and I run to Target to do a bit more grocery shopping. I pick up two more pounds and some granola. A salesperson is handing out free samples of Tide Pods, so we grab three to add to our stash at home-- a little victory considering how expensive those things are. I pay using a Target gift cards my mom mailed to me last month. $9.27

2:30 p.m. — Before heading home, my boyfriend and I are drawn in by the appeal of the nearby Taco Bell. I devour two Doritos Locos Tacos before deciding I am still hungry. My boyfriend suggests we walk to the next door Burger King for a pie, which is beyond extra but beyond tempting. He pays for my Hershey pie. $4.07

7:00 p.m. — I wake up from a fast food-induced nap and remember I need to make a dish for tomorrow's cheese party. Every Christmastime at work, an older gentleman wraps and delivers blocks of cheese as a gift for staff. Eventually this cheese is divided up among staff members who then make their best cheese dishes and bring them to work for a "Cheese Party." For my contribution, my boyfriend and I attempt to make mac and cheese. Key word: attempt. Several hours later, all of our dishes are covered in a Velveeta-like cement, we have created a brick of mac and cheese, and I am seriously considering embracing a dairy-free lifestyle. Yep. Definitely not bringing that to work. Around midnight, I head back to bed, praying I don't have any cheese-induced nightmares.

Daily total: $13.34


Monday, April 3

6:30 a.m. — I make it out of bed and get ready for work. I eat a smoothie bowl with granola and strawberries before pouring myself an iced coffee to sip on. Drinking plain coffee is a recent development for me, and although I am not crazy about the taste, the burst of caffeine brings me to a level of excitement that I typically reserve for Friday afternoons.

8:00 a.m — I work in the global program's department on a college campus and live in one of the student-filled neighborhoods nearby, making it much easier (and cheaper!) to walk to work instead of paying for parking. Even though I complain about my "commute" on super snowy or humid OR rainy days (Minnesota weather, I tell ya!), I try and appreciate the convenience of working so close to home and use the time to listen to my spring Spotify playlist. I pay for the premium plan and it is worth every penny.

11:30 a.m. — I ditched my usual bagged lunch for today's Cheese Party, but after last night's mac and cheese snafu, I'm feeling less than appetized by the idea of anything resembling Velveeta. I order a salad with UberEats which I chow down on before going to check out the Cheese Party offerings. I mingle with my coworkers while silently applauding my decision to forego the inevitable gastrointestinal mess participating in this event would've caused me. $14.69

2:30 p.m. — Not bringing food from home was definitely not my best decision. I've been guzzling water since lunch trying to feel full, but I eventually let my hunger win and run to a nearby coffee shop to grab a blueberry muffin. $3.00

5:00 p.m. — After walking home, I snack on some cucumbers and strawberries before heading down the block to the community center for yoga. There is free yoga on Monday nights, which makes for great post-run recovery at a great price.

7:15 p.m. — I walk home from yoga ready for dinner. I spiralize some zucchini for zoodles and eat that while drinking a banana smoothie and watching The Office. Afterwards, I do some cleaning and prep cowboy caviar to make into taco salad lunches.

11:00 p.m. — More episodes of The Office before bed. By this point, I've basically spent the whole day at the office-- both my actual one and the one on Netflix.

Daily total: $17.69


Tuesday, April 4

7:00 a.m. — Several rounds of snoozing and one shower later, I am ready for the day. I eat a smoothie bowl in front of the TV before walking to work.

11:30 a.m. — Tickets for a local ice cream shop's biennial ice cream flavor contest tasting go on sale today! My boyfriend and I have been trying to brainstorm flavor ideas to enter into the contest for the past two years, so I scoop up two tickets (LOL) and mark my calendar. $34.78

12:00 p.m. — It's been a crazy morning at work, so when I realize I forgot my lunch at home, my first thought is where I can go to buy something. I am really craving a Starbucks iced caramel macchiato, but I decide that I will save my weekly Starbucks treat for tomorrow. I walk the fifteen minutes home to grab one of the taco salads I meal-prepped. Once I get back to work, I assemble a taco salad by topping lettuce with cheese, tortilla chip crumbles, and a huge scoop of the salsa I made earlier this week.

5:30 p.m. — After spending the afternoon working on a design project, I run to the University's Rec Center to do a track workout as part of my marathon training plan. Luckily, its a quicker workout today-- I'm in desperate need of some dinner.

6:30 p.m. — After my workout, I head home and cook some zoodles for dinner. I eat in a hurry so I can run to the mall before it closes and do some returns.

7:00 p.m. — I make it to Gap where I return a blazer I changed my mind on and a shirt I accidentally ordered the tall version of. I find the shirt in the right size and pick up a trench coat I put on hold online; I have winter coats and jean jackets with no in between, so this one will be a staple in my spring wardrobe. The price difference after returning and rebuying items is an additional $2.07.

8:30 p.m. — I visit my sister who also lives on campus. We catch up and play with her kitten.

10:30 p.m. — Back at home. Back to The Office. Back to bed.

Daily total: $36.85


Wednesday, April 5

7:15 a.m. — I am up early and at Starbucks determined to finish transcribing an interview for a student story I did last week. I redeem my stars for my weekly treat of an iced caramel macchiato (and since it's free, I upgrade to venti AND get extra caramel drizzle. Score!) I also order some oatmeal for breakfast. $3.18

11:30 a.m. — I've been working back at the office for a few hours now and am already so hungry because of my early breakfast. I eat another taco salad at my desk while watching YouTube videos. I always read that it's best to eat away from the desk, but I never manage to put that tip into practice. Maybe tomorrow.

1:45 p.m. — I head to Target to pick up a prescription, plus a case of raspberries, and a chapstick. I pay using a gift card. $16.00

5:00 p.m. — I head home to grab some dinner before my workout. I have more zoodles and some pineapple slices.

6:00 p.m. — Tonight's workout is a run, some stairs, and an arms workout. All the while, I am craving ice cream. Once I'm finished working out, I take a quick shower and head to a nearby grocery store to pick up a half gallon of bunny tracks. Jake and I split it while watching Food Network, which is an indulgence we allow ourselves on occasion. $5.99

Daily total: $25.17


Thursday, April 6

9:00 a.m. — I am running late and low on groceries so I order Starbucks on my mobile app and pick up my usual oatmeal and tall iced coffee on my walk to work. $5.80

12:00 p.m. — After a busy morning designing a brochure and ordering awards for an upcoming work event, I have another taco salad and run to the post office to return a dress I ordered. I have to pay the return shipping of $3.21, but I'd rather get a majority of my money back and save myself from hanging onto something I won't get wear out of. $3.21

5:00 p.m. — After a long day of work, all I want to do is lay on my couch. I have some corn on the cob, cucumber slices, and pineapple spears for dinner. I am not in the mood for my run, so I stall while watching TLC. Eventually I force myself to get ready so I don't have to run in the dark.

8:30 p.m. — After getting in my miles, I am exhausted and decide to call it an early night.

Daily total: $9.01


Friday, April 6

8:46 a.m. — I am working a short day and heading home this afternoon, so I drive to work to save myself the walk home to get my car. I pay for four hours of street parking a few blocks from the office. $5.00

9:15 a.m. — Again with the no grocery thing. I didn't want to buy too much since I'll be home this weekend, so I head to the coffee shop near work for a blueberry muffin and a cold press. I've spent wayyy too much on coffee this week, so I vow to do better at sticking to my standard 'one coffee run per week rule.' $6.73

12:00 p.m. — I was hoping to leave work by now, but I've been caught up confirming award art with a vendor and prepping an email newlsetter that has to go out today. I scarf down the last of my taco salad ingredients while trying to wrap up all of my work before my meter expires.

12:46 p.m. — My meter expires.

12:47 p.m. — I am still at work, but I know I'll be done soon, so I don't refill the meter.

1:15 p.m. — Soon passes. I haven't refilled the meter.

1:40 p.m. — I run out of the office praying there isn't a ticket on my dash (what a great ending to my money diary that would be, right?!) 

1:45 p.m. — Fate is on my side. No ticket. I get on the road for my hour drive home.

3:00 p.m. — I stop at the outlets a few miles out of town. I want to look at the Nike store for running apparel and swing by Gap to see if I can find any pieces to round out my spring capsule. My new M.O. for clothes shopping is to only buy something if I imagine getting five years of wear out of it, so even though I try on a few things, I don't find anything that fits well enough to live up to my heightened standards.

4:00 p.m. — Seriously need a snack, so I swing by my favorite local grocery store for some fruit. Everything is so much more expensive than it is in the cities, so I fill up a pay-by-the-pound salad bar container with fresh berries. It ends up being more fruit for a few dollars cheaper than the price of one pack. $3.92

5:00 p.m. — Family dinner! Spaghetti and green beans.

7:00 p.m. — I meet up with friends from high school. We go to Dairy Queen and chat over soft-serve before going back to my house for more catching up. $2.88

12:00 a.m. — I fall asleep in my childhood bedroom turned guest room. It's so weird to come back home as an "adult" but still so nice to see family. (Although I must admit, the room looked way cuter when I it was "mine." Sorry Mom, love ya!)

Daily total: $18.53

Weekly total $188.65


Gina Van ThommeComment