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A Week In Charleston, SC, On A $70,000 Salary

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Welcome toMoney 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: a data scientist who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money on pretzel M&Ms.

Occupation: Data Scientist
Industry: Government
Age: 25
Location: Charleston, SC
Salary: $70,000
Paycheck Amount (biweekly ): $1,730
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rents: $800 (I have two roommates, and we each pay $800. This also covers all utilities, Wi-Fi, and cable.)
Loans: $0 (My parents generously paid for my college! And my car is paid off!)
Spotify: $9.99
Sprint Phone Bill: $58.44 (includes my share of the family plan + paying off my new phone) Car Insurance: $109
Stash Investments: $40
Tithing/Donations: $350
FERS Retirement (pre-tax): $233.67
Thrift Savings Plan (Government's Version of 401k): $265.52
Savings: I ambitiously try and save ~$1,000 a month to one day afford a down payment on a house. Right now I have about $18,000 saved up.

Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up sprawled across a pull-out couch in my best friend's personal space. Today is the last day of a girls' weekend in Austin with my friends from college. After graduating, we all spread out around the country, so we try and meet up a few times a year in different places. 10/10 would recommend going back to ATX!

9:30 a.m. — I have to get one last breakfast taco (or two) before my flight home. We walk to a hole-in-the-wall taco spot down the street, where I get a bacon, egg, and cheese taco and an avocado, egg, and cheese taco. I also buy two for one of my friends who forgot her credit card. $13.53

10 a.m. — I'm in the mood for coffee. Actually, I'm in the mood for a sweet treat, but coffee seems more acceptable at this hour. We walk across the street, and I order something called the Skinny Bill Murray: two shots of espresso, chocolate syrup, coconut syrup, and nonfat milk. I'm not sure who I think I'm fooling by getting nonfat milk — I feel like someone who's ordered a Big Mac with a Diet Coke to be “healthy.” $4.87

11 a.m. — Take an Uber to the airport. One of my friends is doing the San Francisco marathon this morning, so I use a live tracking app to see her progress! I'm so proud and inspired! $19.72

3 p.m. — Layover in Atlanta. Get some pretzel M&Ms from a vending machine and binge read Money Diaries while waiting for my next flight. $1.50

6 p.m. — Land in Charleston! I momentarily forget that I parked at the airport during this trip, and I'm a little peeved that the parking fee was $40 for the weekend. It is what it is, and I bet Ubering back and forth would have been even more expensive. $40

6:30 p.m. — I stop by Publix on the way home and grab a bunch of groceries to try to get on the healthy-eating train after this weekend. One of my friends is a nutritionist, and I get a few recipe ideas from her for the week. I get Greek yogurt, dill, sage, mushrooms, lemons, chickpeas, feta, onions, gnocchi, tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, hummus, artichokes, lentils, and bagels. $39.66

8 p.m. — I get home and do one of my first ever attempts at meal prep. I make bowls with lentils, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, chickpeas, feta, and a dill Greek yogurt sauce. They are so freaking good.

10 p.m. — Get into bed, scroll through Instagram, and decide to follow this really cute guy I met in a bar in Austin. He seemed really interested at the bar and texted me throughout the next day, but didn't make an effort to see me again before I left town. Interestingly enough, we both grew up in the same area and had a bunch of mutual friends, so I decide it wouldn't be too weird to follow him. I fall asleep for the night.

Daily Total: $119.28

Day Two

6 a.m. — Wake up from a deep sleep. Austin Guy has followed me back on Instagram, liked my latest photo, and texted me again. I get a little nervous and decide to deal with this later. I slowly jog five miles before it gets too hot.

7:15 a.m. — I stop by Bi-Lo for a post-run Gatorade. The cashier comments on how sweaty I am. Yikes. $1.02

9 a.m. — Get to work and settle in for the day.

9:30 a.m. — Finally get the courage to text Austin Guy back. He asked if I was still in town, and I tell him that unfortunately I have returned home. I don't ask him any follow-up questions, because I have this weird fear that he doesn't actually want to chat and is just being nice. Why am I like this??

11 a.m. — A couple of weeks ago, I tore up the bumper on my car. The repair shop calls and says they need me to pay the first $200 before they can order the parts. $200

1 p.m. — I eat one of the meal-prepped lentil salad things. I feel like someone who really has their life together.

3 p.m. — I get the most random phone call that ends up making my entire day. An old friend that I used to do swim team with calls to catch up. He went through a really hard time in college and found a renewed sense of meaning through a relationship with God. He is going to give back by working as a missionary, and he's looking for support. I think a lot of times Christians (rightfully) get a bad rap, but it's powerful how genuine, open, and humble he is being in sharing his story with me. I really respect what he is doing, and I decide to contribute $75 a month. I process the first payment. $75

5 p.m. — I head home and make dinner. I make gnocchi with balsamic glaze, mushrooms, sage, thyme, and basil. I'm having friends over for The Bachelorette tonight, so I also whip up some brownies.

7 p.m. — I catch up with my roommate about our respective weekends. We didn't know each other before living here, but she is one of the most hilarious and kind people I have ever met, and she has become one of my best friends. She thinks Austin Guy might be interested, but just unsure how to keep the conversation going. She convinces me that the answer is an interactive Instagram story to give him the chance to reach out.

8 p.m. — My friends come over for The Bachelorette, and I come through with an interactive Instagram story. I AM SO LAME, but at least I'm having fun. Anyway, he watches the story but doesn't take the bait. Not going to waste any more hours thinking about this guy. Bye.

10:30 p.m. — A little reading, a little Hinge swiping, and a little catch-up on Heather McMahan's Instagram stories before bed. Lights out!

Daily Total: $276.02

Day Three

6 a.m. — I wake up to run again. I really don't want to get out of bed, but I have a new kitten, and she howls whenever she hears my alarm, so there's no point in going back to sleep anyway. I feed her and get ready to go.

8:15 a.m. — I run nine miles, and I feel amazing! I am doing the NYC marathon in November, and I'm following a fairly mileage-heavy training plan. I didn't think I could do it when I first started, but each day I check off another run, and I feel productive.

9 a.m. — Take a shower and emerge to find that my roommate has made me coffee! What a gem! We are both working from home today.

11 a.m. — It's pretty slow at work, so I do some online computer-science tutorials. I currently work as a data analyst for the government, which breaks down to about 25% programming, 75% red tape/government hoopla. I really like the computer-science skills that I've learned, and I'm toying with the idea of going back to school one day. For now, there's this hilarious guy on YouTube (@thenewboston) who does free computer-science tutorials, and I'm loving trying to learn a few new things on my own.

12:30 p.m. — You already know — another meal-prepped lentil salad! I also make some toast as a side, because I am a huge carb girl and it's my treat for my run this morning.

3:30 p.m. — I'm still hungry, so I make a giant smoothie and save half for tomorrow. I also can't seem to stop eating toast, so I make another piece.

6 p.m. — I receive a text from a recruiter saying that he thinks I would be a good fit for an opening, and he would like to set up a phone interview tomorrow. I am mildly weirded-out — no recruiter has ever reached out via text, and I don't remember sending this company my résumé, but I oblige anyway. My job is usually pretty slow, and I am passively looking for a better opportunity.

7 p.m. — I go over to my brother and sister-in-law's apartment for dinner and The Bachelorette finale. They have salmon, risotto, and fresh crab dip (served on even more toast!). We are shameless superfans of the Bachelor franchise and so excited to see how the finale plays out. I've read all the spoilers, but I can't really believe it.

9 p.m. — The spoilers were true! What a wild ride! So proud of the way Hannah handled things, but I wish she could have found the happy ending she was searching for.

10 p.m. — I get home and see that my new Warby Parker glasses have arrived! I am obsessed with them but a bit nervous because the new prescription immediately makes me a little dizzy. I read for a while and then go to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up with the most grueling stomachache. I had c-diff for nine months last year, and I'm constantly worried that it's going to make a reappearance. In reality, this pain is probably just the aftermath of me eating an inordinate amount of salmon and crab dip last night. Looks like my cat also had a stomachache, so I clean up a few piles of cat vomit before setting off on a slow five-mile jog.

8:30 a.m. — Working from home again! Although I have an office I can go to, my entire project team lives in San Diego, so I typically work from home several days a week. I make coffee and have the remainder of the smoothie I made yesterday.

10 a.m. — I have the phone interview with the recruiter who texted me yesterday. It actually sounds like a really cool opportunity at a big company. I'm sooo sick of feeling like I have nothing to do at work, so I would love to work somewhere where it feels like I can actually contribute.

12:30 p.m. — The last of the meal-prepped lentil salads!

3 p.m. — My project lead schedules a surprise Zoom video meeting. Unfortunately, my roommate, who also works from home, is taking a call in the living room, so I take the meeting from bed and cross my fingers no one notices! I hold the screen uncomfortably close to my face but pull it off.

5 p.m. — I notice that one of my friends from the trip last weekend has Venmo-requested me for one of the meals he paid for. Thinking about food, I get hungry again and make some avocado toast with buffalo sauce. $32.57

5:30 p.m. — I'm feeling really pent up from working from home, so I take another trip to Publix. I buy pizza dough, pesto, goat cheese, yogurt, almond milk, eggs, tomatoes, kale, apple cider vinegar, beans, and sun-dried tomatoes. $33.65

6:15 p.m. — My friend L., whom I haven't seen in a few weeks, invites me to go on a walk. About two minutes into the walk, it's clear that she just wanted someone to unload her problems on. This isn't the first time that she has jumped headfirst into talking to a guy who has shown some major red flags. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear about what's going on in my friends' lives, but it's a little frustrating to hear her go through the same toxic patterns with guys over and over again.

7 p.m. — I get home and make dinner with my roommate. She makes a delicious black-bean soup, and I make a pesto pizza and sautéed kale. Once again, my stomach pain nearly takes me out. I can't even stand up straight and wonder if I should go back to the doctor.

8 p.m. — I curl into a ball and watch Married at First Sight with my roommate. I love how my social plans all three nights this week have revolved around dating shows. Whatever, I really feel like some of the couples this season might make it!

10:30 p.m. — I check my email and learn about a diaper drive that's going on for underprivileged moms in my neighborhood. There are a lot of staggering statistics — for instance, the average yearly cost of diapers in Charleston is $936! How is anyone supposed to afford that, especially if they don't have a well-paying job?! I contribute to the online registry to buy a box and then fall asleep. $31.52

Daily Total: $97.74

Day Five

6 a.m. — I wake up from a weirdly vivid nightmare of my boss calling me out for being a slacker. Probably brought on by my guilt at taking the Zoom meeting from bed yesterday. I feed my cat and head out the door for a 10-mile jog.

8:30 a.m. — My run could only be described as an absolute slog. It was excruciatingly humid, and I also fell and ripped open the skin on both my hands and both my knees. There's blood everywhere, and my clothes are so sweaty that I could wring them out. I treat myself to a Gatorade at Publix ($0.90) and a caramel-flavored coffee at Dunkin' ($2.42). $3.32

9 a.m. — I grab a bagel from home and head to work. I finish my workload in about an hour. The longer I stay here, the more disgusted I am that I'm not doing more, but I ask around and no one ever has any tasks for me! I spend the rest of the morning browsing ASOS for some lingerie to bring to a friend's bachelorette party next weekend. I find a really cute set! $38.70

12 p.m. — While I eat a lunch of frozen saag paneer from Trader Joe's, I find myself online shopping yet again, this time for me! I recently bought some amazing mid-length biker shorts from Lululemon, and it's been a true game-changer on eliminating chafing from long runs. I want another pair but don't want to pay Lulu's prices, so I order some from a brand called Colorfulkoala on Amazon. I also throw in a pair of headphones to use at work. $29.42

5 p.m. — After I get home from work, I take my roommate to the airport. Her boyfriend lives in Florida, so she spends a lot of time traveling, and I try and help her save money on Ubers when I can. On the way there, she finds out that her flight is delayed three hours. We pivot and go to a half-off wine happy hour at a sushi restaurant nearby. We split two “award-winning rolls,” spring rolls, and each get three glasses of wine. Oops. $36.08

9 p.m. — We hang out for a few hours until my roommate's flight finally leaves and I am good to drive. I head back home and am weirdly sad and lonely. Lately drinking hasn't been as fun because it always brings me down after the buzz wears off.

10 p.m. — I go straight to bed to try and sleep off my angst.

Daily Total: $107.52

Day Six

3 a.m. — I don't let my kitten sleep in my bedroom, and I swear she spends the entire night listening for my every movement. Every time I turn over, I hear her crying and scratching at the door! It's kind of sad, but I want her to grow up and be well-trained, so I don't give in.

7 a.m. — I sleep in a little because I am not running today, and then I get up and go to work. I stop at Bagel Nation on the way in and get a sourdough bagel with sweet cream cheese. I listen to the latest episode of the Morning Toast podcast on my drive in to work. $3.24

11 a.m. — My boss lives in D.C., and I've actually never met him (although we talk on the phone nearly every day). He is in town today, so we meet in person to sync up. It's funny because I've conjured a mental image in my head of what he looks like, and I'm not correct in the slightest. It's a good chat, and meeting in person helps me feel a little more connected to my job.

12 p.m. — I have another sad desk lunch of leftover gnocchi and kale. I check my personal email and find out that I've made it to the next round of interviews from the recruiter I spoke with yesterday! The bad news is that I didn't realize this would be a contractor role for the larger company. I'm nervous about what this might mean for job security/benefits/etc.

2 p.m. — I check my phone and do a double-take because Austin Guy has texted me! What?! I had truly written him off at this point. He says he wishes I was coming back this weekend, and my mood immediately skyrockets. I spend the rest of the work day chatting with him and very slowly writing Python code.

5 p.m. — I stop by my favorite Mexican restaurant for happy hour with a friend, M., whom I haven't seen in a while. Every weekday, they do half off their already cheap drinks AND give free chips and salsa. I get two mojitos and enjoy catching up with my friend. $7.96

7 p.m. — I go back to my house and eat some leftover pesto pizza and feed my cat. As soon as I get in, I realize that I don't really feel like spending the evening alone, but I also don't really feel like going out. I reach out to my friends (who are also my neighbors!) and head over to their house to watch No Strings Attached.

9:30 p.m. — While watching the movie, I am pretty distracted by texting Austin Guy. He asks if I would want to go on a date over Christmas when we are both home, but I decide I want to fully shoot my shot and be bold this time. I say, "Why wait until Christmas?" and tell him he should come visit. He says he would like to, but the conversation quickly dies thereafter. I have no regrets, and I'm interested to see if this goes anywhere. I get into bed and quickly go to sleep because I'm getting up early tomorrow.

Daily Total: $11.20

Day Seven

5 a.m. — I wake up absurdly early, because today is long-run day. I'm doing 16 miles, and the thought of it is stressing me out. I pass the time by listening to some podcasts (The Morning Toast, That Sounds Fun) and zone out while I power through. Around mile 12 it starts pouring, but my amazing sister-in-law agrees to let me use the treadmill in her apartment complex to finish the final four miles.

9:15 a.m. — Finally done with that mess, and I am ready for a treat. I go to a local doughnut shop and get a lavender almond-milk latte and a toffee-pecan doughnut that is the size of my face. I am so hungry that I eat it before I've even walked out the door. So much for savoring my food. $7.50

10 a.m. — I arrive home, shower, and use some of the endorphins from my run to crank out some tasks I've been avoiding. I scrub the toilet, freshen up the cat-litter box, and try to clean my AirPods. My AirPods can't hang with my ear sweat apparently, and they are leaking this weird corrosive material, which is preventing them from charging properly. Every few weeks I end up using an assortment of tweezers, Q-tips, and hydrogen peroxide to clean them up.

12 p.m. — I'm hungry again, so I make a bagel sandwich with eggs, bacon, cheese, avocado, and raspberry jelly. It's divine. I lie on the couch mindlessly scrolling Instagram.

4 p.m. — One of my friends, B., texts me that she needs to get out of the house. We decide to just go sit in a park and people-watch. There are a ton of bachelorette parties, tourists (including an adult mom/daughter duo in exactly the same jumpsuit?), and couples doing engagement photos. B. and I catch up on life and snack on Gardetto's that she brought from home.

5 p.m. — I mention that I've been craving plantains, so B. and I go to a Caribbean restaurant nearby. I get a cucumber vodka mixed drink, fried plantains, and sweet potato fries. I will definitely be back for these plantains! $19.10

7 p.m. — Honestly, I feel like I've done enough for today, and I'm looking forward to an evening of just relaxing. I go home, get back on the couch, and buy a book on my Kindle called Everybody, Always. I put my phone away to read for a couple hours without distractions, and it feels great. $13.10

10 p.m. — I get into bed and scroll social media before going to sleep. The moment that I am about to put my phone up, one of my friends texts me asking if I want to go out. Sure don't! I go to sleep basking in the fact that I don't have an alarm to wake up to tomorrow.

Daily Total: $39.70

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