A Week In Norman, OK, On A $38,000 Salary

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Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: an assistant director working in college athletics who makes $38,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on peep-toe booties.
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Occupation: Assistant Director
Industry: College Athletics
Age: 25
Location: Norman, OK
Salary: $38,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,133.42 (I'm currently also earning overtime, so my paycheck varies by $100-$400.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $685 for a one-bedroom on a golf course
Monthly Loan Payments: $459.86 (I have $40,000 in loans to pay off from undergrad. I went to school out of state and did not have a huge college fund.)
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $303.75
Internet: $40
Sling TV: $29.99
Spotify: $9.99
Utilities: ~$100 (It varies, depending on my work travel schedule.)
Car Payment: $366.82 (I didn't want to have a car payment right now, but my car broke down on me and was basically totaled, so I didn't really have a choice.)
Ashley Furniture: $108.50
Netflix: $0 (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Day One

7 a.m. — I'm up and exhausted. It's been a draining week, but I only have to work half a day today! I'm heading home to Dallas this weekend and cannot wait. I was supposed to go home last night but have some things I need to wrap up this morning before I take the weekend off.
11:45 a.m. — TGIF! I head home from the office to finish packing and then call my mom to let her know I'll be on the road soon. I just got a new car last month and I don't know how good its long trip mileage is, so even though I have half a tank I fill up anyway just to be safe. $17.63
3:30 p.m. — People are idiots on the road and I hate traffic. I can usually get to Dallas in about two and a half hours, but it takes me over three today. I walk in the door feeling cranky, but happy to be home.
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6 p.m. — After sitting in the car for three hours, I really want to go out and walk around. My mom and I head to our local outlet mall to browse. I try on jeans at Levi's, but get frustrated by the sizing (I'm three different sizes in three different styles) and opt to come back another day. I find a puffer jacket at Columbia that's on sale for $65, which will be perfect for not only next winter, but my upcoming work trip to Minneapolis, so I purchase it. I'm impressed that we're only leaving with one bag! $69.19
8:45 p.m. — My godmother stops by to drop off her dog at our house. My parents are dog sitting while she goes to visit my cousin out of town. We chat for a bit and say our goodbyes as the dogs run around the house.
10 p.m. — In bed and ready to pass out after a long day! I peruse Twitter for a bit before finally succumbing to sleep.
Daily Total: $86.82

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I've decided my body can no longer sleep in, as I am awake at 8:30 on a Saturday. At least I'm waking up at home and Dad is making a breakfast run! All I want is a breakfast taco, so he goes and gets those for my mom and me.
11 a.m. — In November, an IKEA opened literally behind our neighborhood. I wish I was exaggerating, but you can see it if you stand on our roof. I really want this canvas photo I saw there a few months ago, so we load up and head around the corner to shop.
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12:35 p.m. — Dad heads to his second job at Home Depot as Mom and I finish walking through the store. I get the photo I want ($49.99), and my mom has a $15 gift card to make it cheaper! I also grab a cinnamon roll ($1) on the way out because, well, why not. IKEA is literally amazing, and I'm so glad there's one close to home. $35.99
2:30 p.m. — I'm tired of sitting around, so Mom and I head to an outdoor shopping mall for a bit. I lost my OU (Oklahoma University) charm on a recent work trip (the chain broke and the charm disappeared into the abyss that is Des Moines, Iowa), so I stop into James Avery to get a new one. Unfortunately, they no longer sell it due to licensing issues, and I resign to the fact that I'll never have one again. I've had it since I graduated high school, and had been wearing it every day. I'm bummed and in desperate need of retail therapy.
4 p.m. — I wander into Francesca's and find a pair of dark grey over-the-knee boots on sale for $15! The only size left is a size 10, and I take it as a sign that I need them ($16.18). I also find a pair of peep-toe booties ($55.30) and after downloading a coupon, decide they're worth the splurge for a good summer work shoe. We hit up a few other stores and I buy a Texas Rangers shirt ($35) for baseball season and a few car decals ($24.34). Thankfully, I've been getting overtime at work and have money put aside for “fun purchases,” so this doesn't hurt my wallet too much. $130.82
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5:30 p.m. — We're home with pizza that we picked up from a local restaurant. We've been going to this place since I was four years old and eat there every Friday night. I always have to go when I'm home because they make the best NY-style pizza. We eat dinner with Dad before he heads back to work until 10.
9:30 p.m. — Mom and I watch the school I work for play softball on ESPN and celebrate a victory! I jump in the shower and then watch Netflix in bed for a bit before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $166.81

Day Three

7 a.m. — I'm up early to go to 9 a.m. mass with my family. I'm not very chatty at this hour and am thankful that the priest doing today's mass is the quick one. Even with communion taking 12 minutes, we're out of there before 10 a.m.
10 a.m. — Free donuts! The church my parents go to has free donuts on the first Sunday of every month. My stomach has been growling since mass started, so I scarf down a donut, losing some sprinkles along the way.
11 a.m. — Head over to see my grandma at the retirement community she lives in. We eat and hang out for a bit before heading home.
1:30 p.m. — It's a gross day in Texas, and it's going to be even worse when I get back to Oklahoma. Dad fills up my gas tank for me and I hit the road.
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4:30 p.m. — I head to Sprouts and I pick up chicken, apples, strawberries, watermelon, granola, yogurt, frozen dinners, veggie chips, and tzatziki. $33.38
5:15 p.m. — I'm traveling for work this weekend and realize I need to replenish my travel-size toiletries. I have to pick up a prescription as well, so I head to Walgreens and get everything there. It's pricier than Target or Walmart, but it's cold outside and I don't want to get out of the car again. $19.85
6 p.m. — I don't feel like cooking anything for dinner, so I cave and get Taco Bell. I try not to eat fast food too much, but some days just call for it! $4
9 p.m. — Jesus Christ Superstar is AMAZING. I've always loved the musical, and was a bit skeptical of NBC's performance of it, but they did a great job! The guy playing Judas is INCREDIBLE; the set work and lighting is insane. As a former theater kid, I'm very impressed. Some things (namely, ALL the commercials) could have been better, but overall it was fantastic.
Daily Total: $57.23

Day Four

7 a.m. — I hate Mondays. Especially Mondays during meet weeks. The team I work for is traveling to Minneapolis this weekend and there is so much to get done in the few days before we leave. I make a granola, yogurt, and strawberry “parfait” for breakfast and grab a frozen meal for lunch before heading out the door just after 8.
12 p.m. — Heat up my lunch and continue to crank things out. I'm down to just one item on my to-do list and it's only lunchtime, so I'm feeling pretty good about today! I send a few emails and update my planner while I finish eating.
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3 p.m. — Never. Say. A. Monday. Is. Easy. Just when I thought my day would be fine, I get slammed with multiple projects that are all time-sensitive. Everything has to be finished by Thursday at noon or we won't have everything squared away in time for our trip. I rush through things and hope that printing services can get what we need done in a short amount of time.
5:15 p.m. — Finally out the door and headed home! I'm exhausted after my whirlwind afternoon and looking forward to spending my evening on the couch with reality TV. I call my mom on my way home and sort through a ton of mail before making dinner.
7:30 p.m. — I have successfully been a couch bum since getting home. I grab Thin Mints from my stash in the freezer and curl back up on the couch to watch Vanderpump Rules.
9:30 p.m. — Is 9:30 too early to go to bed? Asking for a friend. I shower, prep my lunch for tomorrow, and climb into bed to watch the season finale of Summer House before passing out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7 a.m. — I wake up at 7, but since I showered last night, I sleep in a little longer. It's 70 degrees outside right now but dropping to 50 by midday, so getting dressed proves challenging. I end up in a skirt and long sleeve top to hopefully combat the weird weather.
12:15 p.m. — I've been so productive, but it still seems like nothing is getting done. I go to Starbucks with a coworker and get a tea. I'm getting over a case of strep, so the tea helps and is a warm treat on what's turning out to be a cold and VERY windy day. $2.45
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3 p.m. — The head of our office leaves at lunch to go home and watch his daughter for the afternoon due to the Oklahoma teacher walkout going on. Two of my coworkers are at practice, and the others took an early afternoon, so it's literally just me holding down the fort. I don't mind it, though. I get a lot of work done and even do freelancing stuff for my mom when I need a mind break.
5 p.m. — I'm speaking at a campus group tonight (Association of Women in Sports Media) and I'm actually really excited. The meeting isn't until 6, and it's about an hour long so I text our volleyball director of operations to see if she wants to grab dinner beforehand. We walk over to Campus Corner and grab a couple slices of pizza. $7.74
7:10 p.m. — Meeting is done! I had a great time talking to the girls, and I'm already looking forward to more interactions with other groups at the college. I'm an alum of the journalism school, so giving back to the place that taught me so much feels great. I call my mom on the drive home, complaining about how incredibly windy it's been all day.
10 p.m. — I get home and spend most of my night watching tattoo shows (Ink Master is my favorite). I don't have any tattoos, but I love seeing how amazing (and terrible!) the designs turn out. While watching, I browse through a couple that sales some of my favorite stores are having, but after my spending binge this weekend, I decide I need to take a break! I head to bed around 10:45 and am out within minutes.
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Daily Total: $10.19

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I let myself sleep in a whole 30 minutes today because yesterday wore me out for some reason. I cut up strawberries and throw them into a container of yogurt with granola for breakfast. I head to work a little later than normal, but still make it in before 8:30.
10:30 a.m. — A website I love is having a “42” sale today in honor of Jackie Robinson. I've had my eye on a few shirts and a poster print, so I take a look and see if anything I want is on sale. If I spend $50, I get a free "42" snapback. I put stuff in my cart but decide to hold off and see if I still want the items later today.
11:35 a.m. — Last night's meeting has me feeling generous this morning, so I decide to join the alumni association through the journalism college. It's $50, but I can split the payments, so I opt to do it in two separate payments with the second not due until October. $25
12:15 p.m. — On Wednesdays we wear pink – and go to the athletic dorm for lunch. Faculty can eat there for just $5, which is a deal, since it's all-you-can-eat! We all get our money's worth and grab cookies on our way out. $5
1:35 p.m. — It always takes me a while to get back in the work groove after lunch. I don't know what it is, but I am always so unproductive in the hour right after getting back. I browse Ticketmaster for concert tickets to country shows this summer and fall, but literally every show close to me is on a day I have a work event or will be out of town. It's a bummer that I won't get to see Dierks Bentley again, but at least I'm saving money?
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4:50 p.m. — The last 10 minutes of the work day are the worst. I leave the office right at 5 most every day. I'm an hourly employee, so as long as I have my eight hours for the day, I'm outta here! I text a work friend about my desire for Chick-Fil-A and the lack of one near my apartment.
6 p.m. — The Chick-fil-A cravings are too strong, and I decide to just go for it. I get chicken strips, fries, and a chocolate shake and head back home. $8.25
9 p.m. — Laundry and packing have taken up most of the night, but my friend stops by to bring me a cupcake! She has a work bake-off tomorrow and needs a taste-tester, and I happily oblige. She made the cupcakes and frosting from scratch, and they taste amazing. We haven't seen each other in a while, so we catch up for a bit.
10:45 p.m. — Packing is done and I think I'm all set for the trip. I always feel like I'm forgetting something but I don't know what it could be. I pull up Netflix on my iPad and watch a few episodes of Friends before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $38.25

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I washed my hair last night before bed, and I currently look like a curly-haired lion, so I get to work straightening it. I've been doing this for close to 12 years now, so I can get my hair straight in just about 30 minutes despite having extremely thick hair.
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9:15 a.m. — I finish packing and head out. I didn't eat breakfast, so I stop at McDonald's for a sausage biscuit and smoothie. $4.23
11:45 a.m. — I wrap up everything I need to do for the morning and head home for a couple hours before our flight. I make myself scrambled eggs.
3 p.m. — On the plane and ready to go! We've got a big competition this weekend, and luckily were able to get a charter flight out instead of flying commercial. Flying commercial is fine most of the time, but we would have had to be on two different flights and had layovers to deal with, so this straight shot is so much better. I use the time to get ahead on work for next week and enjoy having a row to myself.
5:35 p.m. — We land and head straight to dinner. On the way, we see that the Frozen Four is in town and the semifinals are tonight. Two other staff members and I decide to go, since Michigan and Notre Dame are playing. Tickets are only $35, so I purchase them on Stubhub and the others immediately Venmo me for theirs. $35
11:30 p.m. — LET'S GO IRISH!!!! An incredible game ends with Notre Dame picking up a 4-3 win with a goal in the last six seconds. We're all a little buzzed after drinking throughout the game. We've basically had one beer per period and two in the third because of last call. I didn't really want to spend $40 on alcohol, but it's not everyday you get to go to a Frozen Four, so it's worth it. $40
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12:45 a.m. — We're not ready for the night to end, so we head out to an Irish pub down the street from the hotel. We buy a couple more rounds and take shots (bad, bad idea) and talk with a couple Notre Dame staffers. I pay for my drinks and the round of shots (my coworkers were Michigan fans, so I buy the drink as a peace offering for putting up with my bragging all night) and have now spent more money on alcohol than on tickets. Oh well. $38
1:30 a.m. — We head back to the hotel in Minneapolis and pretty much pass out immediately. We all have to work tomorrow, but tonight was definitely worth the hangover/exhaustion we'll feel tomorrow. (Side note: Tomorrow morning I will wake up to find that my wallet has been stolen/lost. I guess that's the downside of getting a little too lit!)
Daily Total: $117.23
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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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