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A Week In Connecticut On A $60,000 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: an assistant professor who and spends some of her money this week on Lucky Charms.

Occupation: Assistant Professor
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 31
Location: Connecticut
Salary: $60,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,669
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 (My portion of our rent. It’s 1,800 total, but my partner makes ~$20,000 more than I do, so he covers more)
Student Loans: $669
Car Loan: $239 (I only have two more payments until it is paid off in full!) Internet: $40 (my half)
Car/Renters Insurance: $202 (I pay for both our insurance)
Phone: $0 (Partner Pays for Both)
Gas/Electric: $50-70
Credit Card Payment: $35 (I buy gifts on this card and slowly pay them off just to keep my credit active)
Netflix: $0 (Partner Pays)
Spotify: $0 (Partner Pays)
HBO NOW: $0 (Partner Pays)
Amazon Prime: $114 (Yearly)
Health Insurance: $137.18 (Taken Pre-Tax)
Dental Insurance: $32.38 (Taken Pre-Tax)
HSA: $100 (Taken Pre-Tax)
401(k): $250 (Taken Pre-Tax, I put in 5% and my university puts in 9%)
Savings: $200-$500 (I’m currently trying to build my savings back up to $10,000, I spent around $3,000 of it to move this summer)

Day One

4 a.m. — I wake up to the cats messing around, get up, feed them, and make coffee. I bring the coffee back into bed and spend a few minutes chatting with my partner, P., while we drink it.

5 a.m. — I finally get out of bed and start working. I take a break to make P. a packed lunch before he leaves for work around 5:30. I take my vitamins (a multi, B12, and D3).

6 a.m. — Brush my teeth, get dressed, and go for an easy seven-mile run.

7:30 a.m. — Get back from my run. Today was wild, I almost stepped on a snake, but I also found a quarter. I shower, make another cup of coffee, clean the litter, and have my breakfast of oatmeal with berries and peanut butter. Then, I get to work writing.

10:45 a.m. — I decide I need a break, so I make ramen for a snack. Then, I drive to Trader Joe’s for milk. While there, I get distracted and buy a Honeycrisp apple and a container of pineapple, too. My partner and I split all grocery costs evenly, so my portion is only half. $2.60

11 a.m. — On the way home, I see some cheap gas, so I stop to fill up. $16.45

12 p.m. — After getting home and working a bit more, I make a lunch of pasta and scrambled eggs. Then, back to the writing grind. I’m in the final stages of submitting a book manuscript. It’s exciting and terrifying and exhausting all at the same time. As an academic, you regularly work on something for years before finding out if it’s going to work out for you. This is one of those cases, so I’m just trying to be chill about it and let the cards fall where they will. I’ve already put in two years of work on the manuscript and presented parts of it dozens of times, now I need to officially send it out for review. No way around it.

2:30 p.m. — I take a break for a snack of peanut butter crackers, then decide to take a bath. While in the bath, I read for my classes tomorrow and mentally plan them.

3:30 p.m. — P. gets home from work and I’m on the couch watching an old season of Holiday Baking Championship. He starts a meatloaf for dinner. I take my iron pill at 4 with an orange, an hour before dinner. I get up and start some roasted broccoli and carrots, mashed potatoes, and vegan chicken nuggets for myself.

5 p.m. — We have dinner at the table. I tried to make extra mashed potatoes, but to no avail, we eat all of them. After dinner, we settle in on the couch and watch some show about car racing that I don’t really like, so I read my book instead.

6 p.m. — I make herbal tea and drink it while eating funfetti cake (funfetti is the best and no one will convince me otherwise!). We decide to order ritzy holiday cards this year, and we each pay half. I get up to stretch and do yoga. One of my cats loves to come over for snuggles and pets on the yoga mat, so we end up doing Shavasana and cuddling for a few minutes before I kick him off to really stretch. $14

7:30 p.m. — I do my bedtime routine — brush my teeth, floss, put on lotion, turn on the humidifier, get into bed, and watch youtube videos before falling asleep around 8:30.

Daily Total: $33.05

Day Two

4 a.m. — Same as yesterday. I get up, make us coffee, feed the cats, and drink coffee in bed while chatting. I get out of bed and start to get ready for work. Walking into the kitchen, I trip over the recycling bin, spill coffee, and seriously stub my toe. Looks like today is gonna be a good one! I make a packed lunch (PB&J, pineapple, apple slices, homemade hummus, a Babybel, two oranges, and Pretzel Thins), do the litter, brush my teeth, and get dressed. I leave around 5. I listen to podcasts on my commute, drink another cup of coffee, and eat mixed nuts. I drive past a really bad looking five-car accident, which causes almost no traffic back up and I hope that means that everyone is okay.

6:45 a.m. — I get to work, settle in, make a cup of instant coffee and oatmeal with peanut butter, answer emails, then start grading the papers my students submitted on Sunday. I keep a healthy snack drawer with hot drinks and an electric kettle in my office. This way, I’m almost never spending money when I’m at work. After I eat my oatmeal, I also have a few freeze-dried strawberries (my new obsession). I have office hours and classes, so I make myself a cup of decaf black tea and meet with a few students before heading to teach.

10:55 a.m. — I eat half a raspberry fig bar while I’m between classes. One of my students says she’s hungry, so I give her the other half.

12:30 p.m. — Back in my office to do more grading, office hours, and eat my lunch. After a bit, I head downstairs to tangle with my mortal enemy — the copier. I make copies of a quiz, print lecture notes for next week, and print out readings for my classes. Then, I set up my students’ last paper assignment and email them to let them know. Having procrastinated grading for at least 30 minutes, I settle back into the never-ending stack of papers. Eventually, my colleague stops by and we game plan a grant we want to apply for together. Then, of course, we gossip for a bit before I head out at 3. While I drive, I listen to podcasts, take my iron, eat two oranges, and drink as much water as I can.

4:45 p.m. — I get home, change into comfies, pet every cat a few times, put away the dishes P. did before he left for work, and start dinner. While I’m starting dinner, one of the cats pukes, so I stop to clean it up, then get some chicken thighs in the oven for P. He won’t be home for around another hour, so I settle into the couch and catch up on the emails I missed on my commute. Then, I open my book manuscript to look at the comments P. made on my conclusion. I think I’m ready to submit it tomorrow…eek. I eventually put sriracha tofu (for me) and cauliflower in the oven to roast and start rice for the rest of dinner.

6 p.m. — P. and I eat dinner on the couch while chatting and half-heartedly watching Below Deck. Eventually, I realize I didn’t take my vitamins, so I take them and eat funfetti for dessert.

7:15 p.m. — I do my bedtime routine, watch an episode of Gossip Girl, and fall asleep around 8:30.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

4 a.m. — Same as every day: coffee, cats, and chats. Around 4:30, I get out of bed, get another cup of coffee, pack P. a lunch, and settle on the couch with two cats and start grading. The temperature is so cold this morning that it breaks a record. I have ten easy miles to run today, but I’m not running until late morning to try to get a warmer temp with less wind.

6 a.m. — Take a break from grading: do the litter and make oatmeal with berries and PB. I watch some youtube while I eat. After eating, it’s back to grading. Yes, I spend too much time grading — everyone I know spends too much time grading.

8:30 a.m. — A cat jumps up on my computer and demands pets. Who am I to say no? After I give the pets, I take my vitamins and make a cup of instant coffee to power me through the end of this grading spree…only a few papers left!

9:30 a.m. — AHH, I’m done grading. Finally. I’m so tired of grading. It’s still pretty chilly outside, but I decide to put on basically all the winter running gear that I own and see how far I can make it in the feels like 14-degree weather.

11:30 a.m. — I’m home. What a slog. I finished my miles but it was brutal with the cold and a 20 mph wind. I chug water and chocolate cashew almond milk. Then, I take a long hot shower. My face is wind-chapped so I put some lotion on it, then it’s time for a lot of eating. First, I take pizza dough out of the freezer for dinner. Then, I have pretzel thins and hummus, a miso ramen cup, and apple slices with peanut butter. Still hungry, I rummage through the fridge and find a hard-boiled egg. I’m sort of full/sort of hungry, but nothing sounds good, so I just call it and start getting my manuscript together to submit to my editor.

1:15 p.m. — Well, my book draft is done. I’m too scared to send it in right now, so I make a cup of decaf tea and prep for my classes tomorrow instead. I also find dark chocolate peanut butter cups in the cupboard and have a few with my tea.

2:30 p.m. — It’s quittin’ time. I do a few chores — dishes, sweeping, wiping up after the cats. Then, I plant myself on the couch. P. comes home around 3 and we snuggle on the couch while catching up on our days. I take my iron with oranges at 3:30. I send my manuscript and avoid checking my email out of fear the rest of the night.

4:30 p.m. — We make a pizza and a salad to go with it. We eat and watch Below Deck for the rest of the evening.

6 p.m. — I ask P. to make tea, which I drink while eating some more peanut butter cups.

7:30 p.m. — I do my bedtime routine, watch an episode of Gossip Girl, and fall asleep snuggling a cat around 8:30.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

3:10 a.m. — Ugh, I’m awake and can’t fall back asleep. I snuggle P. until around 4, when I get up, make coffee, and feed the cats. We have coffee in bed and chat. Then, I get up, make myself a packed lunch, do the litter, and get ready for work. I leave for work at 5, drinking coffee and listening to podcasts while I drive.

6:30 a.m. — At work, I make oatmeal with peanut butter and a cup of instant coffee. I work on some curricular development stuff before my office hours and classes.

8 a.m. — Time for classes and office hours. I make a cup of black tea, meet with students, teach, and proctor a quiz.

12:10 p.m. — I head to a meeting for junior faculty. While there, I eat my lunch (pb&j, Babybel, apple slices, pineapple, and hummus with pretzel thins) and snag not one, but two cinnamon rolls. The meeting is full of drama and I AM HERE FOR IT. Meeting with only junior faculty is nice because no one has to watch what they say, we can be honest about what is going well and poorly, and no one can throw their power around (because, surprise, none of us has any). I head home afterward. While driving, I drink a Polar seltzer and listen to podcasts.

3:45 p.m. — I get home, put away the dishes that P. did and do the rest that couldn’t fit in the drying rack. Then, I sweep, pick up after the cats, snuggle and pet them all. I also take my iron with oranges while sitting on the couch watching local news.

4:45 p.m. — P. calls while he commutes home. We trade gossip about our days and talk about the various insanities of working at universities. While we talk, I make a tofu veggie stir fry. P. gets home around 6 and we sit down to eat. We keep the bitchfest going until 7 when P. wants to watch NFL pre-game stuff.

7:30 p.m. — Bedtime routine again. I forget to put on the humidifier, though. I watch an episode of Gossip Girl and fall asleep around 8.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

3:45 a.m. — I wake up because P. is scrolling on his phone and my sinuses are too dry to sleep. We snuggle and chat before I get up to make coffee and feed the cats. We drink coffee in bed and get up around 5. I do some class prep while I drink another cup of coffee. While I get ready for my run, I spot some cat vomit and call P. to clean it up with pleas of “they’re your cats!” (Not really true, they’re our cats, I just hate cleaning up puke.)

6 a.m. — I’ve got a nine-mile run with a six-mile workout. The weather is nice and I am flying. I was really struggling even to do easy runs until I started supplementing my iron. Everything feels easy and free. My legs are tired, but I’m belting out lyrics while I do my speedy miles.

7:30 a.m. — I get home and drink water and chocolate almond cashew milk. I shower, do the litter, and make a cup of coffee and my oatmeal with peanut butter and berries. I do more curricular development work and answer emails while I eat.

9 a.m. — P. needs to drop off his car for some work. I follow him and drive him back home. We pay our car expenses separately and don’t share them, but over the years I’ve given him my old cars, then he paid the down payment on my new car, then I helped him buy a car outright. We don’t really keep track of this stuff, it’s just a matter of who has money and who has a need. Even though we run our finances separately, we are very much a team when it comes to this kind of stuff. When I get home, I go back to curricular work.

12 p.m. — P. takes my car to the dentist. He’s had a lengthy dental procedure and hasn’t been able to eat crunchy food for a while. So when he gets home, he requests Lucky Charms and Taco Bell. We head to the grocery store and get Lucky Charms and some asparagus for dinner tonight ($4.28) and Fancy Feast for the cats. The cats get a special treat every Friday night and they love these ($3.19). Then, we head to Taco Bell. I get a spicy potato taco and a triple layer nacho. P. gets four crunchy tacos and a beef burrito. ($5.87) After we have lunch, I drop P. off to pick up his car and head home. $13.47

3:30 p.m. — P. and I watch ESPN for a while. I take my iron with pineapple. Then, we start making a lasagne together. After the lasagne bakes a bit, I go to start the asparagus, but it’s already rotting. The worst. I throw out the asparagus and rustle up a few baby carrots, broccoli florets, and frozen cauli rice. Not the best side, but this is all the veggies we’ve got.

5 p.m. — We eat the lasagne and veggies with Beyond Beef hot Italian sausages and marathon Below Deck. Eventually, P. makes me a cup of tea and I have two squares of dark chocolate. I do my nighttime routine, hit the bed at 7:30, watch an episode of Gossip Girl, and fall asleep around 8.

Daily Total: $13.47

Day Six

4:20 a.m. — We’re up, but we snuggle in bed for a while before I make coffee and feed the cats. We have coffee in bed before getting up around 5. I start some more course prep for next week.

6 a.m. — Time for an easy six-miler. I’m on a high volume half marathon training plan, so six miles feels pretty short to me at this point.

7 a.m. — Back home. Not a bad day, just pretty windy. I have water and chocolate almond cashew milk. I take my vitamins. Then, I shower and make oatmeal and instant coffee. While I do that, I keep reading for my class. Afterward, it’s cleaning time! P. and I deep clean the whole house together every Saturday morning. I do the kitchen, bathroom, and cat stuff. P. does everything else (vacuuming, dusting, and surfaces). At one point, I take a break from cleaning to eat a single-serve bag of Cheetos.

9:30 a.m. — Done cleaning. I sit back down to start thinking about the next article that I want to write. It’s important to have a lot of things under consideration at all times. No rest for the weary.

11 a.m.— I quit working and watch the Food Network. I also have a bowl of Frosted Flakes and a ramen cup.

1 p.m.— We meet one of P.’s friends at a brewery. I get gas on the way. $21.36

1:30 p.m. — I’m starving, so we go to the on-site food truck. It is…not great. I have a quesadilla and P. has two tacos. I pay because I’m the only one with cash. I really don’t love eating out because I know I could make much better food for much less money, in most cases. The quesadilla isn’t enough, so I dig around in my bag and find Annie’s bunny gummies and a pack of peanut butter crackers. I eat both. I get a short pour of an IPA and a Polar seltzer and P. gets a full pour (he pays, because I covered lunch). $17

3:30 p.m. — On the way home, we stop at Whole Foods to see if they have the entree I want to make for Thanksgiving — Gardein Savory Stuffed Turk’y. They are so good and so popular that they get really hard to find. I’ve gone to Whole Foods four times since the start of November to try to get them. Finally, Whole Foods has them! Only two bags are left and we impulse buy both of them. We also get a package of Beyond Beef Ground and some chicken thighs for P. for dinner (he forgot to take any out of the freezer earlier). $17

4 p.m. — I take my iron with an orange and settle in on the couch while P. makes dinner. He makes chicken thighs for him, Gardein chicken strips for me, rice, and cauliflower. We watch, you guessed it, Below Deck for the rest of the night — periodically getting up to stretch, do yoga, and foam roll. I also make Gatorade from powder that we buy in bulk. I get ready for bed at 7:30, do my nighttime routine, watch Gossip Girl, and fall asleep around 8:30.

Daily Total: $55.36

Day Seven

4:20 a.m. — We sleep in a bit, laying around in bed and snuggling. I make coffee and feed the cats. We drink coffee in bed until around 5:20. I finally get up and have another cup of coffee while I answer emails and grade.

6 a.m. — Time for my long run. They don’t feel all that long anymore because I’m running big distances mid-week too. Oh, well. It’s freezing and windy but I still pull out my ten miles. While running, I eat a honey gel. When I get home, I shower, drink Gatorade, and have my usual oatmeal. While eating, I set up a couple of fantasy football teams ($1.35, but I preloaded $20 onto my account at the beginning of the season, so it costs me nothing today).

8:50 a.m. — We leave to grocery shop. We shop every two weeks so that we have a couple of Sundays a month without any chores. We stop at Starbucks today for a treat! I have a praline chestnut latte and P. gets a peppermint mocha. $4.73

8:50 a.m. — Then, on to Trader Joe’s. We get mayo, instant coffee, pasta sauce, peanut butter, thyme, olives, whipped cream, ramen cups, butter, pasta, green onions, pesto, celery, tofu, chocolate lava cakes, cucumbers, raviolis, cheddar cheese, frozen peas, granola, spring mix, arugula, oranges, salad dressing, pineapple, grapefruit, apples, carrots, bananas, and garlic. (Since we split all grocery costs, my portion is $44.37). $44.37

10:10 a.m. — Next, Costco. We get seltzer, tortilla chips, Cheez-Its, bread, Chobani low sugar yogurts, eggs, frozen cauliflower, fig bars, chicken thighs, and peanut butter crackers ($43.27). They’re all out of broccoli, which is huge for us. We easily eat three pounds of broccoli in two weeks. Lately, they’ve been hit and miss with either not having broccoli or having low quality broccoli. $43.27

10:10 a.m. — We also pick up some silicone baking mats while we’re at Costco. $5

11 a.m. — We get home and I see a huge package for us. P. realizes he ordered cat litter a few days ago. We got a $200 Amazon gift card from our cable company for a signup bonus. So, the litter came out of that.

11:15 a.m. — Then, we unpack groceries. Once that’s done, it’s time for the last stop: Target. We walk about a mile to the Target and get grape tomatoes, a few heads of broccoli, three cans of beans, small shell pasta, diced tomatoes, coffee creamer, milk, Gardein chicken strips, vanilla wafers, and ground pork. You might think it’s odd to go to Target in addition to our other stores, but they have the best prices on canned goods and we often can’t find some of what we want at either TJ’s or Costco. It’s also nice because sometimes Costco is out of something (like broccoli today) or we forget something at TJ’s (like grape tomatoes). With our shopping spree over, we walk home and put away the groceries. If you’re wondering, yes, this is how much food it actually takes to feed two people who run 45 miles a week. $15.33

11:15 a.m. — While we’re at Target, we both grab a two-pack of deodorant. $7.38

12 p.m. — P. goes down to the basement to do our laundry — we switch off months getting quarters and it was my turn this month. While he does that, I clean up the kitchen and prep a pesto pasta salad with peas, tomato, and Gardein chicken strips. I have that for lunch and make P. a ramen. $8

1 p.m. — We fold the laundry while watching football. Afterward, I eat a bowl of frosted flakes.

2:30 p.m. — P. asks if I want to get in the bath with him, so I join him and we soak and sweat until the water gets cold. Then, we go back to our football.

4 p.m. — I take my iron with an orange, then make a minestrone soup. It turns out so well! I’m trying to expand my soup repertoire for winter. We have the soup and garlic toast for dinner. We eat while watching football. For some reason, Brady can’t hit his targets today and it’s really hurting my fantasy teams. All my teams are losing. 🙁

6 p.m. — P. makes me a cup of tea and I have a couple of squares of dark chocolate.

7:30 p.m. — I realize I didn’t stretch or foam roll today. Oh well, hope my legs are alright tomorrow. I get ready for bed, put on the humidifier, and watch a Gossip Girl before I’m out at 8:30.

Daily Total: $128.08

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