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A Week In Grand Rapids, MI, On A $74,000 Salary

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Today: a tax analyst working in manufacturing who makes $74,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Bloody Marys.

Occupation: Tax Analyst
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 30
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Salary: $74,000
Side Hustles: Around $1,800/year
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,854

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $787 (Including property taxes and insurance. I bought a house two years ago on my own after owning a condo and flipping it a bit. I made $25,000 on the condo and avoided PMI on the house.)
Car Payment: $402
iPhone Payment: $58
Student Loans: $0 (I paid them off 50-50 with my parents over the last three years.)
Federal & State Taxes: $1,381
Health & Dental Insurance: $43
HSA Contribution: $108
Car Insurance: $100
Cell Phone: $25, paid to my dad for my portion of the family plan
Community Volleyball League Gym Rental: $20
YouTube TV: $10 (I pay a friend to be on his account.)
Apple Music: $15 (I share this with my ex-boyfriend, and he shares Netflix and Amazon Prime with me.)
Pandora: $5 (Because sometimes I can't be bothered with making the song selection, and no thank you to commercials.)
401(k): $617 (10% of salary)
Roth IRA: $100 (I have $15,000 saved in my Roth from saving only $100 a month, plus a one time contribution of about $2,500 from a tax refund. I started when I was 22 — my dad gave me the great advice to do this. I also have $36,000 in a Traditional IRA from previous 401(k)s, which I rolled over when I left. I've done this twice since I started a 401(k) in 2014.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Alarm goes off, but nope. I snooze for at least 20 minutes, and then get my dog to snuggle a little closer for another 10. He insists on sleeping just out of my reach at the end of the bed. Rude. I am leaving a little late, and brew myself a cup of black coffee in my Keurig (I get the mega boxes of cups from Costco) and put a Pop-Tart in the toaster. I refuse to get up any earlier or pay for my breakfast, but I realize I need to never buy Pop-Tarts again. Cardboard disguised with sugar.

10:30 a.m. — I get black coffee from the break room. It's terrible, but it's free. I am anti paying for coffee unless it is a special occasion or a social event.

12:15 p.m. — Lunch break. I head down to our cafeteria to see what they have today. I opt for soup because it's cheap and hot. I get a chicken and sausage soup with peppers and onions that actually is pretty good and filling. $1.75

2 p.m. — I switch to green tea that I brought from home. I always have a hot drink and water with me at my desk all day.

5:15 p.m. — I head out. It's been a very boring day of trying to stay productive. My dog has free access through my house because he's trustworthy, but I still feel bad leaving him home alone during the day. We play in the backyard together even though it's already dark when I get home. He loves the snow we got this week, and I help him get some energy out. I make a gourmet dinner of boxed mac and cheese tonight. I sauté shrimp from my freezer for protein. I don't mind cooking, but I really don't often cook anything too time-consuming for only myself. I pull some chicken out of the freezer to cook later when I find the inspiration.

10 p.m. — I spend the rest of the evening cleaning my house, watching football, and FaceTiming my ex. (We're sort of back together ... it's complicated.) I head to bed around 11.

Daily Total: $1.75

Day Two

8:10 a.m. — It's another Pop-Tart morning. I can't wait for the box to be empty so I can move on with my life. I brew a cup of coffee for the road and then I'm off.

9 a.m. — I work for a shoe and apparel manufacturer, and they periodically have sample sales for employees. I pick up three sets of wool socks as gifts for my family ($15), and a sweatshirt and vest for my complicated BF. (He pays me back.) $15

10 a.m. — We have a long year-end review meeting that goes into the afternoon, so my work picks up the tab for lunch. We go out to a Mexican restaurant and I get shrimp fajitas.

1 p.m. — After the meeting, I remember to buy tickets to a comedy show here next spring I want to go to. I get two. I figure if the complicated BF isn't in the picture anymore I'll find someone else to go with me by April or I'll sell them. $148

2 p.m. — I have my Rover dog walker take my dog out this afternoon for a long walk, since I have plans tonight and will be gone for most the evening. $19

4:55 p.m. — My manager takes off and I'm right on his heels. I get home as fast as I can, take my dog for a fast walk, feed him, kiss him, and take off again. I try not to feel too guilty when I remember the great walk he had today, plus my Rover guy played in the backyard with him for a bit as a bonus. I hurry to meet my friend for dinner at a new restaurant out in the 'burbs. I get an absolutely delicious squash risotto with roasted veggies and grilled chicken and a glass of wine. After dinner, we go to our high school's musical — Newsies! We were both in the shows back in the day and I'm a donor now, so I love to see them. $34

9:30 p.m. — We both head home after the show — it was amazing, and I blast show tunes all the way home. When I get home, I see my Rover walker brought in the sound bar that I ordered on Black Friday. I get my independent woman pants on, read the instructions, hook it up, and pat myself on the back. I realize this is not exactly a great achievement, but technology is not always my forte. I head to bed around 11 after taking the dog out again.

Daily Total: $216

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up without my alarm. What is it about getting older that means my internal clock is trained? I have an appointment this morning to get my hair done, so I get going on dog duties and head out.

10:20 a.m. — Appointment is finished, and the result is an A-. I haven't been here for color in seven months, so I'm not too phased by the cost, even though I'm going to blend a few spots myself when I get home. (I am a hairstylist on the side…if I could just take my own off my body to do my own hair, that'd be great). I leave her a $15 tip. $115

11 a.m. — It's Bath & Body Works candle sale day, and I'm already in the area of a mall, so I decide to swing by. I walk right in, pick out five to stock up for myself, and use as a couple gifts. By the time I leave, they have a line set up outside and aren't letting people in until some people leave the store!! The sale is good, but come on, not that good! $47

12 p.m. — I get home and realize I haven't eaten anything today. I make a quick Isagenix protein shake with some milk, ice, and Greek yogurt for lunch. I spend the rest of the afternoon organizing the junk drawers and cabinets in my kitchen and wrapping all my presents.

5 p.m. — I get ready because I'm meeting my friend for dinner tonight. I walk the dog, freshen up my makeup and hair, and get out the door for another early dinner date! We go to a fun restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids. I get an IPA and mac and cheese with meatloaf, brussels sprouts, and sweet potato chips on top, because I love myself. After dinner, we go to an improv show because my friend got free tickets from a work event. It's mediocre, but I laugh a couple times. $28

10 p.m. — Head home to the dog. On the way home, my dad calls and says my grandma isn't comfortable driving in this weather to church tomorrow morning. It's lightly drizzling, but hey, she's 90. I agree to come to church and bring grandma, since I live very close to her. I take the dog outside for a bit when I get home, and then we hang out and watch Ozark until bedtime.

Daily Total: $190

Day Four

9 a.m. — I head out to pick up my grandma for church, and on the way remember that I have brunch plans with my friend. I text her to push back our planned time 45 minutes, and luckily, she's cool with it.

10:45 a.m. — I leave my grandma with my parents, who will bring her home. I need gas badly and have time to fill up before brunch. $27

11:15 a.m. — I meet my friend at a restaurant we've been wanting to try for brunch. They have a good and cheap Bloody Mary — I beat her there, so I get one while I wait, and then another when we order our food. Our waitress is slammed, but we tell her we're in no rush, so we hang there catching up on life for a couple hours. I get a glorified breakfast sandwich on an English muffin with fried potatoes and a chipotle aioli. It's good, not great. $23

1:30 p.m. — After a productive day yesterday, I'm happy to relax for the rest of the afternoon. I do load of laundry, watch a combination of Ozark and Sunday football (my fantasy team is struggling today), and hang out with my animals. (My kitty comes out to lounge on lazy days.)

8 p.m. — I remember I have chicken thawed in the refrigerator and decide to prep some lunches for the week. I mix quinoa, chicken broth, black beans, onion, salsa, seasoning, and the chicken in my Instant Pot. It comes up to pressure, cooks for 10 minutes, and voila, Mexican chicken quinoa is packaged up for at least three meals, plus some for a small dinner tonight.

10 p.m. — I get into bed with my dog and start an episode of Dirty John, but the TV show is just not as captivating as the podcast. I fall asleep within an hour after texting with my complicated BF for a while.

Daily Total: $50

Day Five

7 a.m. — I get up on time today, because I know I want to wash my hair this morning. Why does it just never feel quite right when someone else blows your hair out for you? Is that just me? I mix up some toner to blend in a few of the foil lines before I shower, so that takes a few minutes. The color is perfect after the toner and shampoo, so I'm happy. I should have gotten up a little earlier, because I still leave for work about 10 minutes late. Such is life. I brew a coffee and hit the road.

11:30 a.m. — I didn't eat breakfast, so I'm starving and can't wait any longer for lunch. I heat up the chicken and quinoa, and to my delight, it's delicious. I eat at my desk like usual.

12 p.m. — We have an increased employee discount as a holiday bonus, so I order a pair of slip-on suede sneakers. I got the same pair for my mom a few months ago, and she raves about how comfy they are. $19

2 p.m. — We have our holiday party this afternoon! It's super fun. I eat my weight in guacamole and chips, and have two beers.

5 p.m. — I have to rush home, as always, to try to exercise my dog before more plans tonight. My mom and I are going to a concert that the university puts on each year around Christmas featuring their choir and orchestra. It's a yearly date for my mom and me, and it's at a beautiful old church downtown. I play with my dog in the backyard for a while and feed him. Then my mom meets at my house and we head out for the concert.

8:45 p.m. — Concert is over. I drive home with my mom, then spend the rest of the night catching up on Dirty John and Monday night football. I fall asleep for a bit on the couch with my dog and cat. When I wake up I contemplate having something more to eat, since “dinner” was guacamole and chips this afternoon, but I'm too tired to make the effort. I just opt for a LaCroix instead. I wake up around 11 and force myself to wash my face before going to bed. If I don't, it will be zit city. Luckily, I fall asleep in bed easily.

Daily Total: $19

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — I wake up with 15 minutes to get ready…I woke to my “it's almost time to leave” warning alarm instead of my regular one. Oops! Luckily my hair is still decently clean from yesterday, so I spray some dry shampoo in it, run over it with the flat iron a few times, wash my face, put on some makeup, put the dog outside, and quickly get dressed. I leave nine minutes late after insisting on brewing myself a coffee. Not bad!

12:30 p.m. — I eat another helping of the Mexican chicken and quinoa.

5:15 p.m. — I leave work at my normal time and head home. I have plans to highlight my mom's hair for her tonight, and she picks up Arby's gyros for us before she meets me at my house. I don't do a lot of hair on the side anymore, especially color. It's a pain to mess with it at home, so I only do it for my mom (for free) and one other friend. I love doing hair for wedding parties though, so the majority of my side hustle hair income comes during the summer, when I work for a local salon on Saturdays.

7:45 p.m. — Mom leaves and I just hang out with the dog and cat like usual. I take a short walk with my dog, but it's freezing, so we're both happy to keep it to a quick one. I watch some more Ozark until I get hungry, make a PB&J, and then head to bed around 10:30.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — More cardboard (I mean Pop-Tarts) for breakfast along with a brewed coffee. It snowed overnight, and for whatever reason that means a traffic light is out right in front of my highway on-ramp. It takes an extra 15 minutes to get to work, so I'm late.

11:30 a.m. — We go out for a team lunch. I get a French dip with fries, but the sandwich is so big I can barely eat any of the fries! I take them to-go.

1:30 p.m. — I take a few minutes to update my budget when we get back from lunch. I keep a detailed spreadsheet with every expense listed, along with all my cash and current credit card balances. I never carry a balance on my cards from month to month, and I net the current balances with my actual cash on hand in my spreadsheet, so I have a real picture of how I'm doing financially. I even run a personal income statement every month and a net worth calculation.

5 p.m. — Time to head home! Traffic is annoying, and my commute is around 40 minutes long, which is annoying for me, but I know it could be worse. I play with my dog for a while, we take a short walk, and I make mac and cheese for dinner, which is the worst decision I've made in a while. My stomach immediately hurts, and I have a volleyball game tonight.

8:30 p.m. — I get home from volleyball and settle in to watch Survivor with the fam (animals). It's time for bed around 10:30.

Daily Total: $0

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