A Week In Denver, CO, On An $85,000 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.
Want to continue the conversation? Join our Money Diaries Facebook Group to discuss finances, share spending habits and saving advice, ask money- and career-related questions, and get access to exclusive content. It's a judgment-free zone.
Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State:an engineer working in government who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a new pair of trail runners.
Advertisement
Occupation: Engineer
Industry: Government
Age: 32
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: 85,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): ~$2,100
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage, Insurance & Property Tax: $820 (The total is 1,670, but I currently have a roommate who pays $850)
Car Loan Payment: $375 (My parents loaned me the remainder I needed to pay cash for my new car since interest rates were so high, so my payment goes to them. We agreed I'll pay off their loan in three years, though I'm going to do it sooner.)
Medical Insurance: $34.12
Dental Insurance: $4.46
HSA: $50
Identity Theft Protection: $14.99
Life Insurance: $12.35
Pension: 8% of salary (My employer contributes 11.5%.)
457(b): $50 (but I need to up it)
Transit: $10 (My employer heavily subsidizes the EcoPass to promote multi-modal transportation, so I can go anywhere with this.)
Car Insurance: $100
Gym: $25
Cell Phone: $53
Cable, Internet & Netflix: $82
Electric & Water: ~$100 (roomie pays half)
Savings: $500-800 (depending on extra income)
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $100/year

Day One

7:45 a.m. — I wake up in my friends' guest room and get up for a workout class. I flew to Houston last night for a college friend's wedding, and my friend and I want to get a workout in before the wedding. She's a member of an outdoor boot camp that lets her bring friends for free.
8:23 a.m. — We are barely through the warm-up and I know my core is going to be so sore.
9:15 a.m. — DONE! I can feel those endorphins, damn. We head back and make eggs and toast, do a bunch of stretching, and then head to the grocery store while my friend's hubby goes for a run. Since they already have wine and liquor, I pick up snacks and craft beer for the three of us and our other friends who are driving in today. $42.63
Advertisement
12 p.m. — We realize we forgot champagne for brunch tomorrow, so we run back to HEB and each get a bottle. $9
1 p.m. — I check a few work emails just to make sure there are no emergencies. Still haven't showered, so a beer in the hot tub seems like a good call. We relax there until the other couple arrives, and then we start to get ready.
5:20 p.m. — We arrive at the wedding on the other side of town. Luckily the couple I'm staying with is splitting driving duties, so we don't have to drop $$$ on Ubers.
7 p.m. — Reception time. The venue is at a flight museum with a ton of old planes, so we get drinks and walk around taking pictures. Most of us post up around the bar after dinner, talking and catching up until the bride requests more presence on the dance floor. I toss $10 in the tip jar for the night. $10
9:30 p.m. — The bouquet toss. I'm perfectly happy with my single status in Denver, but then I come to the South and am one of only three ladies above the age of 23 who is single. One of the 10-year-olds snags the bouquet.
Daily Total: $61.63

Day Two

9 a.m. — Wake up for brunch with a group. I decide my hair looks good enough and head downstairs.
11 a.m. — Armed with our BYO champagne, we arrive at a cute bakery and restaurant. I order a croissant with turkey, egg, and brie, plus a side of fruit and potatoes. My friends order a huge almond croissant for the table to share. $13
Advertisement
1:30 p.m. — Tour de Houston. We see a beer can house and a cool water feature, and then head to a new brewery near my friends' house. I try out three different beers. $14
5 p.m. — Back at the house to relax. In the midst of this, we find out our pregnant friend, who was at both the wedding AND brunch, has gone into labor. We cheers to her new daughter for the rest of the night.
7 p.m. — There's a sushi spot around the corner, so we head there for dinner. The other out-of-town couple pays for my first round of sake since I bought all the beer, and then I cover the dinner tab as a thank you for the free crash pad. $67
9 p.m. — Back to the house. We go in the hot tub, shoot pool, and drink beer.
Daily Total: $94

Day Three

9 a.m. — Wake up to breakfast tacos! I pack up my suitcase after eating and we head to the airport.
11 a.m. — Despite the long weekend, I can't ignore the siren call of a frozen margarita from the airport Pappasito's. The ones in CO mostly have the consistency of Sno Cones, so I want the real thing. $12
1:30 p.m. — Land back home after sleeping the entire flight. I will never understand how it takes people so long to get off a plane. I make it on the train about a minute before it departs!
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — On the train, I check the bus schedule and realize I'll have to wait 40 minutes for the one that goes by my house, so I call an Uber once I'm off the train. $8.91
3 p.m. — I lay in bed for a few minutes before being roused by my friends who are at a pup-friendly patio. I suck it up and head to meet them. I'm greeted by a Golden Retriever puppy and a Frenchie, so life is as it should be. I order a beer because I don't want to be a jerk taking up space on a packed patio without getting anything. $8
5 p.m. — One friend and I head to her house to talk more. She's messaging an older dude about their date tonight, and he's communicating terribly. (Why date "more mature" men if they're actually not?!?)
7:30 p.m. — I head home with the intention of cooking and unpacking, but I watch one episode of Schitt's Creek (it's hilarious), and then decide I'm not leaving the couch.
11:30 p.m. — Wake up on the couch and decide at the least to brush my teeth. I have to use a special fluoride toothpaste after years of grinding my teeth, so I also make an effort to use that. Pop in the night guard and transition to my actual bed.
Daily Total: $28.91

Day Four

7 a.m. — Roll out of bed and get dressed for the day. I don't wear a lot of makeup to work (a mixture of laziness and my skin being decent enough), so getting ready doesn't take me much time. I make a quick protein shake, drive to work, and pay to park. I have a phone interview today and can't really do that in my cubicle, so I'll do it in my car. $5
Advertisement
10:30 a.m. — Sneak down to my car for the interview. I can tell that it doesn't go great. Oh well. I'm not looking for a new job very intensely, but just keeping an eye open.
12 p.m. — Eat a frozen TJ's bowl. Browse REI and finally bite the bullet on a fresh pair of trail runners, just in time for summer! After my member coupon, they're $73, but I have a rebate gift card from buying new tires, so I use that to cover it.
3:30 p.m. — I have a meeting to kickoff a new project, which goes fairly well. Working in local government, there are a lot of people who think their department or interest is the ONLY one, and a big part of my job seems to be reining them in and making them all work together.
4:50 p.m. — Munch on an apple for my afternoon snack and buy a ticket to see one of my favorite groups DJ on Friday before heading home. $22.19
5:10 p.m. — Take out chicken sausage to thaw while I unpack and clean up my room. Then, I make penne and sausage in marinara, with broccoli on the side. I pack up all the extras for lunches and dinners this week.
7 p.m. — I get to the sand volleyball courts and warm up. I play well, but the rest of the team is off and we lose. Still, such a great workout, and I leave happy.
9 p.m. — Head over to see a guy I'm dating. He's getting over a divorce, so I'm keeping it fairly casual while he gets things sorted out. We decide to go play pool. His roommate joins us and we head to a local dive. I discover they have frozen margaritas that are actually good and I'm so excited! (He pays for all of us.)
Advertisement
12 a.m. — We eat Taco Bell overlooking the lake by his house. This is somehow both adorable and completely not.
Daily Total: $27.19

Day Five

7 a.m. — Throw on comfortable clothes — I'm attending an all-day certification class, so I don't care how I look. Two coworkers pick me up, and we swing by a local spot for breakfast burritos and coffee on our way. $4.05
11:30 a.m. — We finish the class and opt to take the test right away so we don't have to come back after lunch. Unfortunately, we have to wait for everyone to finish the open book test. Once I'm done, I sneak out to call my friend about her dates over the last two nights with the older gentleman.
1:30 p.m. — Officially certified in Commuter Rail Safety. #Livingthedream. My coworkers and I decide a team lunch is in order, and head to a deep dish spot. I get a slice, a spinach salad, and garlic bites. $13.34
3:15 p.m. — We all decided to work from home for the rest of the day (training was supposed to last until 4), so I respond to emails and flag a few for follow up tomorrow. Three of my projects are on hold for different internal reasons, so things are slower than I'd like them to be.
7 p.m. — After getting ready, I stop and get gas on my way to a date ($15). We meet at a restaurant in a converted air controller tower. We sit on the patio, and I get a wedge salad and a cocktail. He's a really interesting guy, but I'm not sure there's much chemistry. He pays. $15
Advertisement
10 p.m. — More volleyball! I play in two leagues per week — one on sand and the other court or grass, depending on the time of year. I don't play as well as I did last night, but my team does, and we win! I head home and pop a Xanax, since I've been anxious and edgy all day. I was in a car accident a few weeks ago, and have really been struggling since. Rinse off, wash my face, brush my teeth, and sleep.
Daily Total: $32.39

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I decide to take the later bus and sleep for 30 more minutes. After showering and trying to settle down last night, I didn't fall asleep until after midnight. My bed is so comfortable and legitimately my favorite possession, so it is very difficult to leave sometimes.
7:15 a.m. — I put on one of my favorite dresses, booties, jewelry, and makeup, because we're taking my closest work friend to lunch for her last week and I want to be cute. Head to the bus stop feeling like the sidewalk is my runway.
8 a.m. — Get a Potbelly breakfast sandwich with peppers. $3.02
10 a.m. — Take a break for my "money minute." I open my budgeting website (LearnVest), file my transactions from the weekend, and update my meal planning spreadsheet. I've been going over my budget the last few months and I'm trying to buckle down and map out my spending week by week.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — My coworkers and I head to a nearby spot for sushi burritos and poke bowls. I order a burrito with tuna, shrimp tempura, and avocado. This could be bad for my wallet, but I'm in love. $12.96
1 p.m. — I give $5 to my coworker for our March Madness loser pizza party from a few months ago, and another $5 to chip in for appetizers at an upcoming team happy hour. $10
6:15 p.m. — Work late to make up for my late arrival. I bus home and squeeze in a quick workout of plyometrics and weights.
7:30 p.m. — My roommate arrives home and we catch up on our weekends…and then decide to go for margaritas. Clearly today's money minute was particularly impactful.
8 p.m. — We chat for two and a half hours, drinking margaritas on the rocks and munching on chips and queso. I'm a regular, and the bartender leaves a drink off each of our tabs, so I tip extra. $27.54
10:30 p.m. — I get the Uber home, since she got the one there. I wash my face and actually complete my routine with Vitamin C serum and retinol night cream. Then it's floss, fluoride toothpaste, night guard, and sleep. $8
Daily Total: $61.52

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Shower, quick blow dry, protein shake, and bus.
10 a.m. — I check my bank account and am happy to see my insurance payout from my car accident has arrived. I bought a new car a few weeks ago, but that check won't clear until the end of the month, so I transfer the money to my savings for now.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Run club! My coworkers and I do a lunchtime run of three miles a few times a week, but it's particularly rough for me today. Tequila isn't the best fuel for a workout — who knew!
1 p.m. — Broccoli, penne, sausage. I'm still starving, though, and I discover mini Kit Kats in my backpack left over from a snowboarding trip, so I eat those, too.
3 p.m. — A guy I've been chatting with on Tinder wants to meet up for a patio drink after work. I debate, since I'm already meeting a guy for drinks at 7, but then decide it'll save me the Uber from home if I just stay downtown, so why not? And it's true what they say — when it rains, it pours.
5 p.m. — Freedom! I don't know why, but getting through a Thursday always feels better to me than a Friday. I walk to the pub where I'm meeting Guy #1. (He pays.)
5:45 p.m. — This was a really good choice. He's cute, intelligent, funny, nice, and sarcastic. He also calls me out and correctly assumes I'm squeezing in two dates in a day, but “doesn't mind a little competition.”
7 p.m. — Second date for the evening. This guy is cool and normally I'd probably go out with him again, but I can't help but compare and Guy #1 was so great.
8:30 p.m. — I sneak a peek at my phone and see #1 has texted me to tell me he hasn't laughed that much in a long time, and he'd like to get dinner this weekend. I have a healthy dose of cynicism from a fair number of bad relationships, but this still makes me really excited.
Advertisement
9 p.m. — Uber home and toss in a frozen pizza that will double as lunch tomorrow. I'm heading out of town on Saturday morning, so I text back #1 and we agree on dinner tomorrow. $7.50
Daily Total: $7.50
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.
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.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that color what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most most vibrant cultural and culinary centers—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.