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A Week In Atlanta, GA, On A $72,000 Salary


Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a Client Manager working in Marketing who makes $72,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Plan B.

Occupation: Client Manager
Industry: Marketing
Age: 30
Location: Atlanta, GA
Salary: $72,000 + ~$200-$300/month from side hustle as a server for a catering company
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,187 after taxes
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,233 (for an apartment in my dream location. I live by myself.)
Credit Card Loan: $938
Internet: $20 (I cut cable this summer and have been surviving on streaming friends/family accounts.)
Electric: $82
Water/Trash: $56
Car Insurance: $135.98
Renter’s Insurance: $19.42
Phone Bill: $50 (I joined my family’s plan recently to save money.)
Gym Membership: $189
Weight Watchers: $13.97
Car Payment: $224.63 (I put down a hefty down payment to lower my monthly cost, and then will buy the car when lease is up.)
iTunes Storage: $0.99
Spotify/Hulu: $9.99
Netflix/HBO/NFL Sunday Ticket/Amazon Prime/Etc: $0 (I use my parents’ or my BFF’s accounts.)
Savings: $2,500 in emergency fund. Working on debt so not putting any money towards it right now.
401k: $200 — currently have over $14,000 saved. Next year I hope to put in more so I can qualify for the full 6% match by my employer. 

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I’m excited for today because it’s jam-packed with meetings, followed by kickball after work, and then my friends and I are going to a comedy show. It’s a roast of serial killers, which is sure to be amazing. True crime fanatic over here… stay sexy. I get ready for work while watching Good Morning America. We have a casual work environment, so I wear jeans almost every day. I also do a full face of makeup because that’s just who I am. Pack my lunch and snacks and I’m out the door by 8:30. My driving commute to work is about 20 minutes (leaving the city into the burbs) and my commute home is usually 45 (returning to the city).

8:40 a.m. — UGH I just discovered I forgot my breakfast (banana) at home. There’s a Chick-fil-A right by my office so I run by for a breakfast sandwich (note to self: don’t get the egg white grill again). I make it to work right on time. $3.87

12:30 p.m. — I take a break to eat lunch and read today’s Money Diary. I ran out of my meal prepped lunches so I scoured my kitchen to throw something together. Quinoa, turkey pepperoni, red onion, garlic, basil, feta, and pesto. It’s actually pretty good! I love not spending money by digging in the fridge! The group text for kickball is lit right now — we don’t have enough confirmed players tonight so we’re going to say “no thank you” and forfeit. Bless.

6 p.m. — I walk over to my friends’ house and gather the troops for comedy night. With kickball canceled, we actually have time to get dinner before the show. We walk down the street to Sweet Auburn BBQ, my favorite BBQ spot in the city. I order pulled chicken, fried okra, bourbon baked beans, and a glass of wine. I then proceed to be a vulture and pick off of everyone’s plates when they’re done ($23.41 + $5 tip). $28.41

7:30 p.m. — Time for comedy! We walk to the venue and head straight to the bar, where I convince myself to get a double serving of wine to save myself a trip later. I ask the bartender to put it in a plastic cup because I am a child and will drop the real wine glass. They get a good laugh out of me.

9 p.m. — Later in the show, I go back for another double wine. I don’t need this, but heck it. I love wine. The show ends and wow — it was hilarious! We were cackling the whole time. We talk to some of the “killers” after the show (the guy who played Ted Bundy was a hottie) and then settle up before heading out ($24 + $4 tip). $28

10 p.m. — We all get back to my friend Y.’s house who suggests we have another drink. He brings out two bottles of wine and we all set up a little wine tasting. I realize that I am pretty in the cups at this point and should probably go home. I head out around 11 and walk home (it’s only three blocks).

11:15 p.m. — I’m still awake so I make some popcorn, drizzle it in honey, and shove it in my mouth while I watch Great British Bake Off in bed. Pretty sure my drunk self got honey all over my sheets (drunk self is a monster with late night snacks). Looks like it’s laundry day tomorrow.

Daily Total: $60.28

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — Awake before my alarm and helloooo wine hangover. Good to see you again. Sadly, I’m not able to snooze so I lay in bed on Instagram till as late as possible. Glad today is not a hair-wash day. I finally get up around 7:50. I get ready for work while I watch GMA. Pack my snacks and out the door by 8:30.

12 p.m. — CURSES. I remembered my banana today, but forgot my lunch. It was all packed up in my fridge and I just left without it. The plus side? A trip to Chick-fil-A is in order. I started Weight Watchers two months ago and CFA has some okay choices for lunch. I’m not very good at WW just yet (see: eating honey popcorn in bed at 11:30 p.m.), but I love tracking my food and trying to keep myself in check. I drive to get lunch and order grilled nuggets with BBQ sauce, a side salad with light Italian dressing, and a Diet Coke. $8.94

4 p.m. — The office is dead and I’m done for the day so I head home. My mom and her sisters are swinging through tonight on their way home from a vacation. We’re all going to dinner and then they’re spending the night with me. They text me an update that they’ll arrive at 5:15, but they don’t understand Atlanta traffic so I text back “LOLOLOL see you at 6:30.” It’s beautiful outside, so I go for a walk and listen to the Wine and Crime podcast while I wait for them to get in.

6:30 p.m. — I am clearly excellent at gauging Atlanta traffic and my family rolls in late as predicted. The three of them take quick showers and we head out to my favorite pizza spot, Varuni Napoli. We split two pizzas, two salads, and a bottle of wine. They pick up the tab.

8:30 p.m. — We need a bit more wine to get us through the night so we stop by Trader Joe’s for provisions. My aunt picks up two bottles of red and some chocolate. One bottle of wine is a hostess gift for me — yay! We chat for a bit but they are exhausted from their drive and everyone is asleep by 10.

Daily Total: $8.94

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Saturday is here! I take the fam out for breakfast before they all depart their separate ways. We go to General Muir for lox and bagels, challah french toast, latkes, and amazing coffee. Once again, my family picks up the check. I love having the parentals in town.

11:30 a.m. — Everyone is gone! Back to my regularly scheduled weekend. I am hosting clients today for the Atlanta United game, so I put on my soccer gear and grab a Lyft to go pick up my friend V. Even though I’m “working,” I get to bring a plus one and I can expense my travel costs to the stadium. V. and I head to the Marta because it’s so much easier to take the train to the stadium ($10.95 expensed). Last time we tried to leave the stadium in a car it took two hours. I top up my card for a round trip and we’re on our way ($5 expensed).

4 p.m. — The game was awesome and we won! I’m not into soccer, but the fan base here makes it so fun to go to a game. V. and I sit around as long as possible with a few more drinks to avoid the Marta rush. We finally head outside to discover it’s pouring and absolutely miserable, but we are dressed for the elements! We are also very buzzed on wine, as we had an all-you-can-eat-and-drink spread at the game. #Blessed. We ride the Marta to our neighborhood stop and I get a Lyft back to V.’s house ($17.59 expensed). We have a drink with her roomies and decide our next move.

6 p.m. — Oh boy, looks like we’re going to Buckhead, which means this night is going to get out of hand. Buckhead is a hot spot for every 22-year-old so I never go. But about once a year you need a trashy Buckhead night and that’s where this party’s headed. V. grabs us a Lyft and we’re off to our first spot to watch football and meet up with friends.

8:30 p.m. — Things get a little fuzzy here. Our generous friend N. bought us a few vodka/Red Bulls and we are feelin’ fine. I keep asking if anyone wants to get food and no one is interested. Note to self: skipping dinner is a mistake on a big night out! This will haunt me. V. and I decide that this bar is lame because it’s too early so she gets us a Lyft to a nearby bar to meet up with a different friend group. More vodka/Red Bulls and dancing ensues (unsure who paid for those drinks). I start talking to a cute guy that knows my friend, Y., and we literally cannot stop talking. Y. keeps giving me the eye. Cute guy buys me a drink. This is going well?

10:30 p.m. — Like a scene from any rom-com you’ve ever watched, cute guy looks at me and says “you wanna get out of here?” Hell yes. Thankfully the Red Bull brought me back to life after all the wine I had earlier so I remember everything that comes next. I say goodbye to my friends as they give us a knowing look and we walk outside while cute guy calls us a car. We get to my house and have sex in every room (no code words here!) before passing out at midnight. Cute guy was fun and hilarious. I chalk this up to a win as it ends a fairly long dry spell. God, I hate being single.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I need water and ibuprofen. Cute guy is snoring away, but I can’t get back to sleep so I play on my phone until he stirs. I scheduled a gym class this morning (before I decided to have a 12-hour day of drinking) and tell cute guy that I’m sorry but he’s gotta go. He sweetly asks for my number as he leaves, which is silly because he doesn’t live here. He was only in town visiting friends and family. Bless his heart.

9 a.m. — I decide the $13 cancellation fee is worth it to skip the gym this morning. I’m not terribly hungover, but I want to be a sloth for the rest of the day. 90 percent of the time my gym forgets to charge the fee so we’ll see if this shows up in my account. I rummage in the fridge for leftover pizza and chug water while watching the new season of Insatiable.

10 a.m. — I need caffeine. Badly. My friend V. gifted me a Starbucks card yesterday because she is the sweetest, so I walk to Starbucks. I’m not big on PSL, but man do I love Peppermint Mochas and I decide it’s perfect weather for one. It’s chilly outside and the coffee hits the spot.

12:30 p.m. — My mom is still in town, but was visiting other family while I was boozin’ it up yesterday. I meet up with her for breakfast tacos (she pays) and we go see the new movie Judy. Two movie tickets, popcorn, Diet Coke, and M&M’s all covered by my mom. The movie is heartbreaking! Poor Judy Garland, but Renee Zellweger’s Oscar buzz is well-deserved.

4 p.m. — Finally alone and free to be a worthless human for the rest of the day! After the movie, I stop by Kroger to grab some groceries for the week. I pick up bananas, grapes, applesauce, veggies and meat to make chili, chicken breast and cornflakes to make chicken nuggets, eggs, corn and black beans to make a Mexican-style salad (nugget side dish), and some canned Underwood wine because it was on sale. $51.66

6 p.m. — I spend the rest of the night watching football, making chili for meals this week, doing laundry, and drinking wine on my porch. Atlanta has finally decided that it’s fall and the weather is perfect. I chat with my best friend, T. (she lives across the country), about my adult sleepover and she is thrilled for the end of my dry spell. However, I realize I was a bit careless and she yells at me to get Plan B. I’m on NuvaRing, but was finishing a period and didn’t have it in this week. Better to be safe than sorry. Aren’t I supposed to be wiser at 30 years old? (I’m ready for you, comments section.)

9:30 p.m. — Can’t keep my eyes open! Must be sleep deprived from last night (hehehe). I pop a melatonin and head to bed.

Daily Total: $51.66

Day Five

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I get dressed to go to the gym! I usually go four times a week and try to get them all done on weekday mornings. I eat half a banana and then drive to my 6:30 class. My gym is just a few blocks away and I used to bike to class until my bike got stolen. It was locked, but they cut it. I hate people.

7:30 a.m. — Back home to shower and get ready for Monday. I put together an outfit I saw on Instagram, do a full face of makeup, and blow out my hair. I’m trying to stop spending money I don’t have (hi, credit card debt) so I’m really trying to make new outfits out of my stale closet. It’s a fun experiment every morning. I eat the other half of my banana and head out at 8:15 with my packed lunch and snacks.

8:30 a.m. — I’m at Kroger on the hunt for Plan B. Why are all the serious women products locked in plastic boxes? #FuckThePatriarchy. Ugh, I have to get a human to unlock it for me. And the pharmacy isn’t open yet so (a) I can’t do this discreetly and (b) I can’t use the online coupon I found because you can only use it at the pharmacy. Cool. I get to self-checkout and the employee doesn’t know how to open the box. She goes to get help and brings over a boy. Okay, can we not make this a production? I’m not embarrassed, but just want to pay and get out of there. Three employees later, my box is opened (no pun intended), I pay, and rush out of the store. This shit’s not cheap. As soon as I get to work, I’ll request a $10 rebate from Plan B’s website. $44.44

9 a.m. — Despite the Kroger ordeal, I make it to work right on time and immediately make coffee. We have a super cool coffee machine that I love. I’m thankful for this so I don’t have to make coffee at home or go broke from Starbucks runs! I used to have a Keurig but got suspicious of how clean it really was and tossed it. I snack on some Weight Watchers sea salt chips because I am already hungry. I had a coupon and bought a bunch of WW snacks recently because they looked tasty online. Some of them are actually decent!

12:30 p.m. — Take a break for lunch and to read some Money Diaries. I brought my meal-prepped chili today with greek yogurt (instead of sour cream) and applesauce. Applesauce is zero WW points and it has become one of my favorite snacks.

4 p.m. — Heat up a WW brown sugar oatmeal. I can never get the water/oatmeal ratio right! This is the first oatmeal I’ve tried from them and it’s good, but it came out like wet concrete. Better luck next time.

5 p.m. — Done for the day! I head home while listening to The Daily Skimm and start a new podcast called Slow Burn. Season two is all about the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal and I’m hooked. Once I get home, it’s time to start on the second half of this week’s meal prep — cornflake chicken nuggets.

8 p.m. — Wow, these are way more labor-intensive than I imagined and I bought too much chicken. After three rounds of chicken nuggets in the oven, I throw together my corn and bean salad that will be the nugget side dish. Throughout all of this, I watch a few episodes of Insatiable and eat grapes. I had another round of chili for dinner so I won’t eat my nuggets yet. They turned out really well!

9:30 p.m. — I pop a melatonin and go to bed. I only take melatonin on nights before I have to wake up early for the gym. I’m generally a bad sleeper, but since July have made a deal with myself to stop canceling class just because I want to sleep an extra hour. The new melatonin plan is working and I feel pretty great on days I wake up at 6 a.m.

Daily Total: $44.44

Day Six

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and it’s time for the gym. I eat half a banana and drive to my 6:30 class.

7:30 a.m. — Back home to shower. I wash my hair every other day so I need to figure out something fun to do with it. I attempt a french twist thingy, but realize my hair is too long and settle for a half-assed straightening job and a side braid to pull back my still-sweaty bangs. I pack my lunch, grab the other half of my banana for the commute, and am out the door at 8:30. I turn on the next episode of Slow Burn for my commute.

10 a.m. — I am so hungry I feel like passing out (always starving on days I go to the gym) so I heat up a WW brown sugar oatmeal to make it through lunch. It hits the spot.

12 p.m. — I run out to Dollar Tree to pick up a scrunchie. I loathe the notion that scrunchies are back, but I am dressing as Eleven from Stranger Things for our work Halloween party later this week and a scrunchie is crucial to her season three “cute El” lewk. Some of my work peeps are completing the group and going as Steve, Robin, and Hopper. We better win the costume contest! I also pick up a Halloween card to send to my parents ($1.59). I swing by the post office to get some stamps. I have to snail mail my water bill otherwise they charge you four bucks to pay online. The audacity! ($16.50 for 30 stamps) Plus I’ll need stamps for Christmas cards soon enough. I head back to my office to eat my lunch — chicken nuggets with BBQ sauce and the corn and bean salad. $18.09

3 p.m. — I am celebrating my work team today. They hit their goal for a campaign we were working on for Latinx Heritage Month so we are celebrating with Taco Bell! (Yes, we know that it’s not representative of Latinx culture, but it’s what the team picked as their reward. Plus, a few people on the team are Latinx, myself included, and everyone was pumped for tacos.) I browse the menu online and see that if I order a party pack I get 15 percent off. I order a party pack of 12 tacos to go pick up. I love any reason to celebrate my team and these little one-off treat celebrations always go over well. $12.90

6 p.m. — My commute was longer than normal today so I listen to The Daily Skimm, Slow Burn, and some Wine and Crime. Now I’m home and starving. I grab some grapes to nosh on because it’s too early for dinner. I have nothing to do tonight and no meals to prep so I’m looking forward to a lazy night home and turn on Insatiable. Yes, it’s on heavy rotation right now, but the new season just came out and I love it! Coach Bob is freakin’ hilarious.

6:45 p.m. — I decide it’s a reasonable hour for dinner. I heat up some chicken nuggets with BBQ sauce and have some corn and bean salad. This is my go-to for weekday meals. I make two different meals and rotate them throughout the week. I don’t mind leftovers and repetitive eating.

9:30 p.m. — After more Insatiable and a little Great British Bake Off, I get ready for bed. I put on Patchology Flashpatch Eye Gels and settle in bed to watch a few ASMR videos. It’s a surefire way to put me to sleep!

Daily Total: $30.99

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hit snooze for 10 more minutes. I love sleep-in days. I finally pull myself out of bed to get ready. Blow out hair, full makeup, get dressed, pack lunch, watch GMA. I realize I’m getting low on some Dry Bar products but will wait till my November budget hits to purchase. I refuse to buy cheap when it comes to my hair! I love their Money Maker hairspray, Prep Rally detangler, and Hot Toddy heat protectant. I also have the Dry Bar straightener and wand. I’m a super fan.

9 a.m. — Arrive at work and have a breakfast of a banana and hazelnut coffee. It was 45 degrees outside this morning and our office didn’t get the memo — it’s freezing in here! I keep my puffer coat on for a bit while my coworkers laugh at me and I make a second coffee for warmth.

10:30 a.m. — My day is packed full of meetings. I take a break to read a Money Diary and eat WW breakfast cookies. Tasty, but not super filling for a snack.

12 p.m. — I have a 12:30 meeting so lunch is happening a bit early today. I eat lunch in our cafe (chili with greek yogurt) while updating my budget tracker. I try to shovel the chili before my next meeting and burn my mouth. Awesome.

2:30 p.m. — SHIT. My brother’s birthday is this weekend and I need to send him a present. He lives in England so Amazon UK is my best friend when it comes to gifting. I like sending him gift baskets so I shop around and settle on a mixed pack of Oktoberfest beer. Such festive. Using my BFF’s Prime account (thank you T.!) shipping is free and it will get there in three days, ON his birthday. Bless you, Amazon UK. I get a Diet Coke from our fountain machine (so dangerous, yet so amazing) and eat some WW salt and vinegar chips to get me through the last bit of the day. $51.94

4 p.m. — Work, work, work. I walk to the fridge to grab an applesauce from my lunchbox but see that there are treats leftover from a meeting. I grab a scotcheroo instead. Oops.

5 p.m. — ROLL OUT. Turn on the usual pod rotation of Skimm This and Wine and Crime for my drive home.

6:15 p.m. — I am getting my nails done tonight so I need to go ahead and eat, otherwise it will be late when I get back! Heat up some chicken nuggets (y’all, they are so good, I’m glad I have to eat these all week), BBQ sauce, and corn and bean salad.

7 p.m. — Arrive at my nail appointment. I get SNS/dip powder every two weeks and have been coming to this place for almost five years. I bite my nails and have tried everything in the book to try to quit. SNS nails are truly indestructible and it’s the only solution I’ve found that works. Sadly, my side hustle requires that you have neutral nail colors, so for the foreseeable future I can’t get anything fun. I settle on a color called Bare Skin. ($35 + $7 tip) $42

8:15 p.m. — Back home and snacking on grapes with some Great British Bake Off. I can’t believe that Old Greg is the host of this thing now. He and the other new host are really not that great. I miss the girls. I take a melatonin (gym tomorrow) and I’m asleep by 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $93.94

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