A Week In Birmingham, AL, On A $115,000 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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: an attorney who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a dress from Rent the Runway.
Occupation: Attorney
Industry: Law
Age: 35
Location: Alabama
Salary: $115,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $2,343
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $700. (I rent an in-law suite from a family friend. It's completely separate with its own entrance, kitchen, laundry, etc.)
Student Loan Payments: ~$1,000 (for undergrad and law school)
Car Loan Payment: $305
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Utilities: ~$150. (I split power, gas, utilities, and internet with the owner of the house.)
Car Insurance: $65
401(k): $900
Savings: $1,172. (This is 20% of my net pay and it goes into a money market account at a separate bank. I basically never see this money, except when I check the balance. I treat it as untouchable.)
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $250. (This is my contribution, and my employer covers the balance.)
Cell Phone: $45
Netflix, Hulu & Spotify: $0. (I use friends' and family members' accounts.)
Le Tote Subscription: $74. (I have only been using this for about four months and am debating if I am going to keep it.)
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $100/year (includes streaming)
Massage Package: $400, paid twice per year. (I go every three to four weeks for a relaxation massage. It is hugely helpful for shoulder aches and pains. I buy a package to reduce the cost.)
Chewy Dog Food & Supplies: $92.97 every six weeks

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up not feeling so hot. I take the dogs out and then my boyfriend feeds them while I get ready. I make bagels for both of us and grab a drink for myself from the fridge. BF puts his bagel on the coffee table for a minute — big mistake! His dog eats it in under 10 seconds and looks ashamed but delighted. I leave to the sound of my BF scolding the dog, but secretly I'm cracking up.
8:30 a.m. — I get to the office and make a hazelnut coffee. (My firm provides free soda, coffee, tea, etc.) I'm not usually a coffee drinker, but I hope the warm drink will make my aching throat feel better. I fill up my water bottle, water my plants, and settle in to get my day started.
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10 a.m. — Check my account and notice I was charged for HelloFresh. We get deliveries on Mondays but our order frequency varies depending on our travel plans or if we have lots of social events in the upcoming week. I pay and then split with the BF. We're not very strict about things but try to be equitable and have never had an issue with who pays. He tends to pay more frequently when we go out for dinner and drinks, though. $59.94
11:30 a.m. — Go to lunch with a partner and another associate and we talk about projects we have coming up and how to handle work-life balance. I really admire this partner because she has a good balance and is kind and funny; she's been a real mentor to me. I order a sandwich with sweet potato fries and the partner pays for the three of us.
1:38 p.m. — Grab candy from our office candy jar. I worry about rotting my teeth out of my head, but it doesn't stop me.
3:10 p.m. — Take a Diet Coke and then stop to chat with a coworker for five minutes. I am hoping the soda and gossip will wake me up since I'm still not feeling well.
6:30 p.m. — Leave work and drive over to the BF's place. He owns his house and we usually stay there a few nights a week, at my place a few nights, and then separately at our own places for the remainder of the week. We make a pork noodle dish with kale from HelloFresh. It's a decent version of pho, but I miss the extra sauces and toppings I would get at a restaurant. I wash my hands because I cut up Thai peppers but evidently not thoroughly enough because I burn the crap out of my eyeballs when I take my contacts out.
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9 p.m. — We binge-watch Parks and Recreation and BF makes us hot chocolate. Then we go to bed around 10:15, since I'm still not feeling great.
Daily Total: $59.94

Day Two

6:40 a.m. — Alarm goes off; it's Friday! I lay in bed and pick out my next box from Le Tote. I get three to four boxes a month with four clothing items in each. I've only had a subscription for about three months and I'm torn about whether I want to keep it. I usually only like three of the four items and they aren't always the highest quality. On the other hand, I do save significantly on dry cleaning and don't have to worry about what to wear in the morning. I feed the dogs and let them out while my BF showers. He's going to drop off the dogs at my apartment on his way to work. We're staying there tonight because we're meeting friends out and I live close to the location.
7:40 a.m. — Have a granola bar and soda on the way into work. Call BF to see how traffic is since he left before me. He tells me my dog recognizes my voice over the Bluetooth and my heart melts.
10:40 a.m. — Wrap up the conference call, refill my water, and grab Advil from our office's medicine cabinet for my cramps. Booooo, cramps — but I'm happy that meds are available to help.
11:50 a.m. — A client catered lunch for our office today. I stack up Greek chicken, hummus, salad, pita chips, rice, and chocolate cake.
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3:30 p.m. — Very stressful feedback meeting. I'm all sweaty afterward. Thank you for the betrayal, body. At least it's Friday!
5:50 p.m. — Meet BF and his coworkers at a local bar. I order three beers, a Diet Coke, and a falafel sandwich; he pays for everything. One of his coworkers makes a sexist comment to another coworker's girlfriend and she gets ticked off. I don't hear all of it but secretly fist pump when she stands up to him.
10:30 p.m. — We take an Uber home since we've been drinking. BF pays. We get home, walk the dogs, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — Wake up and check email. Lay around and read for a few hours.
10:15 a.m. — BF picks up breakfast for us from McDonald's. Guilty weekend pleasure. Sadly, my sausage and cheese McGriddle only has cheese.
1:30 p.m. — A friend takes us to get our cars from the bar. On the way home, I stop to fill up with gas because my tank is empty, empty, empty. $30.64
2 p.m. — BF orders pizza and we watch college basketball while I work.
4:30 p.m. — I drop BF off at a bar to meet his friends. They're doing a birthday bar crawl but sadly, I have to keep working. I buy a Diet Coke on the way back to keep me company and spend the next few hours working with The Lord of the Rings on in the background. Good add, Netflix! I also put on a face mask my mom put in my Christmas stocking. It makes working a little more tolerable. $1.20
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9:30 p.m. — I stop working, walk the dogs, shower, and get ready. Then I take an Uber to meet BF, his friends, and two of my friends. Wow, they are all really drunk and it is very entertaining from my totally sober perspective. $6.02
10:30 p.m. — I get two cheap beers with cash and tip a dollar each time. A member of the group buys a round of shots for everyone and we dance for a couple of hours. Around midnight, I tell my BF I need to go home because I have to work again on Sunday. He decides to turn in with me. $8
11:59 p.m. — We snag an Uber but BF gets distracted by a taco truck. His drunken antics are out of character and are cracking me up. Our Uber ride is $6.41, but I tip the driver an extra $10 in cash for waiting on my drunk/ridiculous partner and for putting up with his passionate declarations of love for the taco truck on the drive home. We get home, I steal half a taco, walk the dogs, and go to sleep. $16.41
Daily Total: $62.27

Day Four

8:10 a.m. — Wake up, take dogs out, and make myself a bagel, which I eat with raspberries and cranberry juice. Get back to work, sadly. This weekend I have to work an unusual amount because of a big project.
1 p.m. — Stop working, get packed up, and go volunteer. I buy a wrap and water on the way and eat in the car. I am working with individuals with disabilities to help prepare for an upcoming fundraiser. It's challenging work but I have a great time and start contemplating my ticking biological clock. I still think I want to have kids, but I know the risk of birth defects increases with the mother's age. I don't think there is an answer to this question for me right now, but it definitely gets my brain churning. $4.80
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4:45 p.m. — Arrive at BF's house. He cleaned up my apartment for me and then brought the dogs over to his house because it is much closer to where I was volunteering. I grab a few crackers and then take a nap while he finishes watching a scary movie (a genre I'm not into).
6 p.m. — Wake up and keep working. We make a HelloFresh meal of chicken tacos and watch Apollo 13 while I work. It's crazy how young all of these actors look! Also, Kevin Bacon was QUITE fit in the day. I laugh after noticing this. BF cleans up dinner, we get in bed and talk for 30 minutes, and then it's time to snooze!
Daily Total: $4.80

Day Five

6:50 a.m. — After the usual routine, we drop my dog off at my apartment before going to work.
8:20 a.m. — Grab a Diet Coke from the work fridge, put in my headphones, and blast Chvrches. The deadline for the big project I worked on all weekend is today, so I am ready to power through the day.
10 a.m. — Get an email from Chewy billing me for dog food and supplies I have on auto-order. It's cheaper than picking up dog food locally.
1 p.m. — Eat leftover pho we made for dinner last week. It's still pretty tasty and I am digging soup with the cold weather. Work through lunch.
6:30 p.m. — Our project is done! I get home and take my dog for a leisurely stroll. I unpack this week's HelloFresh box, put everything in my fridge, and start doing laundry.
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7:15 p.m. — I need groceries and run to the store to get a variety of snacks, breakfast food, and quick meals. $41.73
8 p.m. — I crash on the couch with mac and cheese, broccoli, and a beer. I catch up on The Bachelor and watch the first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which I am loving. Still, I get to thinking about how she shows her breasts (and is conventionally attractive and sexualized) and wonder if that was a requirement for people auditioning at her time. In some ways, she's clearly on track to be this powerful and successful woman, but there are also beauty norm issues here.
9:30 p.m. — I rent a dress from Rent the Runway for a fundraiser my BF and I are going to on Friday night. I feel a little guilty because I already own things I can wear, but I think, What the hell, and order the dress ($58.20). I also sign up again for RTR Pro ($15.25), because my subscription has expired. I rent dresses about four times per year so the shipping savings with Pro are worth it. $73.45
9:45 p.m. — Drink a second beer while watching TV, then walk the dog and crash by 10:15.
Daily Total: $115.18

Day Six

7 a.m. — Wake up and cuddle the dog, scroll through Instagram and FB for a few minutes, shower, walk the dog, grab raspberries and a granola bar, and head out the door.
8:45 a.m. — Get to work and a coworker has brought in baked goods. I take a piece of cake for the afternoon because I know it will all be gone by then.
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11:30 a.m. — I take several people from a regional bank to lunch. It's a mix of business networking related to my job and trying to secure money for a fundraiser for a local nonprofit I am involved in. They agree to donate and I am thrilled — lunch is also delicious. I pay for everyone's meal but will be reimbursed by my company. ($71.10 expensed)
6:10 p.m. — Hit up the gym, which is a free perk of my job. I go about twice a week, although I always have the best of intentions of going more often.
7:30 p.m. — Make chili from HelloFresh, which is pretty tasty, and watch an episode of Parks and Recreation and one of Black Mirror. This episode isn't as bleak as others so I feel downright cheerful compared to how I usually feel after watching Black Mirror. Then I get a text from my ex, which, while cordial, makes me really sad. I cry in the shower for a few minutes because sometimes a good cry just makes you feel better. The text is nice — he wanted to check in on me and the dog and give me an update on his life — but it definitely leaves me feeling off. I talk to my BF about it a bit and go to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — It's a typical work morning. I take care of the dog and grab a bagel for my drive. Not having the weekend to recover from work has me longing for Friday, even though it's only Wednesday.
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12:10 p.m. — I planned to eat leftovers for lunch today but my salad from yesterday had too much dressing and is yucky today. My pho is old and grossing me out, too. I go wild and order Jimmy John's, which arrives in less than 20 minutes. I am embarrassingly excited about my "Vito" sub and salt and vinegar chips. I'll have to avoid breathing on anyone for the rest of the day. $12.40
2:30 p.m. — A coworker and I have cabin fever and decide to walk and get a snack. I pick up peanut M&Ms from a sundry shop around the corner. $1
5:45 p.m. — I meet a friend who is also involved in the nonprofit I am fundraising for to discuss marketing for an upcoming event. We meet at a local pizza place and order beers and a pizza to split. It has braised lamb, roasted tomatoes and onions, arugula, queso fresco, and southwestern seasoning, and is so good. We split the bill. $21.20
7 p.m. — I swing by the drugstore and pick up a cheap bottle of wine on the way home. $11.80
8 p.m. — I veg out again with my dog, take him for a walk, drink a glass of wine, and watch The Bachelor. I get in bed and call the BF to catch up on our days, and then conk out.
Daily Total: $46.40
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.
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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.
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