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A Week In Northern Virginia On A $115,000 Salary

Refinery29
·30 min read

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: an Intelligence Analyst who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Mandalorian eyeshadow palette.

Occupation: Intelligence Analyst
Industry: Defense
Age: 28
Location: Northern Virginia
Salary: $115,000
Net Worth: About $45,000 ($240,000 in assets – $200,000 in debt. $25,000 in home equity, $15,000 in savings, $25,000 in 401(k), debt below)
Debt: Mortgage: $179,000, loan for new roof: $9,900, credit card debt: $8,000, personal loan: $2,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $7,000
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Mortgage/HOA/Utilities: $1,400 (I bought a townhouse two years ago and live alone.)
Personal Loan: $250
Roof Loan: $200
Credit Card Debt: ~$1,000
Car Insurance: $133 (Got into an accident two years ago and I commute 45 miles each way for work)
Phone Bill: $100 (I’m currently shopping around to lower this)
Pet Insurance: $47
LemonAid TeleHealth: $95
Massage Envy: $65
Pole Studio Unlimited Pass: $68
Streaming Services: $40 (Netflix, Hulu, Youtube Premium, Spotify, Disney+)
Dog Daycare: $300
Ipsy: $25
401(k): $375 (Employer matches 3% of salary as well)
Amazon Prime: $99 yearly
Savings: $0 (What I would save here is going towards debt)
Student Loans: $0 (GI Bill)
Health Insurance: $0 (Employer pays premiums)

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
There was an expectation that I was going to attend college, but my parents couldn’t really afford it. I didn’t know what I wanted to study yet, so I elected to join the military out of high school. It was probably the best decision I could have made. I gained a lot of marketable skills and experience in my field, but I am attending college now to finish my degree.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t really have any conversations around money. I knew we didn’t have a lot of it after my parents divorced when I was 9. When I first joined the military, there were a lot of growing pains around learning to budget and teaching myself about finances.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Over the summers in high school, I worked as a camp counselor at a foreign language camp for younger children (I speak three languages). It only paid a stipend of $300, but the experience was invaluable.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I knew that there wasn’t a lot of it to go around, but my parents both worked their asses off to make sure we never went without the essentials. I attended school in a richer district, and there was a stark difference in how I lived and how my peers lived. I was on the free lunch program, I didn’t play any sports because we couldn’t afford the dues, and I got made fun of for not dressing well. It doesn’t bother me now, but it was painful back then.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes. I make enough to be comfortable and I have savings, but there’s always going to be a part of me that is worried about losing everything. Living alone also kind of amplifies this as I recognize that it’s all on me. Getting paid once a month has also forced me to really stick to my budget.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially independent at 18 when I joined the military, and again, there were some growing pains associated with it. If something were to happen, my parents would probably try to step in if I needed it, but I also know myself enough to know that I would never accept it.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I don’t, but if anyone rich reading this wants to throw some money my way I will definitely not decline.

Day One

6 a.m. — Wake up on my couch (oops). I fell asleep watching The Bachelorette last night (Tayshia has always been one of my favorite personalities in the Bachelor-verse). I roll off the couch to go turn off my alarms and feed the critters (I have a dog, a cat, and a snake). I give my dog a lot of love after he comes back inside before laying back on the couch and falling asleep again.

10:45 a.m. — Get up for real this time. It’s Thanksgiving today, but I have no family in the area, and with the pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable going out of state to visit. I FaceTime with my mom and sister while drinking my coffee and taking my meds/vitamins.

11:30 a.m. — I was planning on doing some baking today, but the milk in my fridge expired about a week ago. I go to CVS and buy a half-gallon of milk and a two-liter of Pepsi (my biggest vice). I feel really awful for going to the store on Thanksgiving. I need to be more observant ($6.23). I bake a cake for my dog and sourdough banana bread for myself. This is my first time ever making whipped cream from scratch and my arms hurt after whisking for what feels like an hour. I think I got stiff peaks and my dog loves it. I record him tearing the cake apart and send the video to my parents. They love their first “grandchild” almost as much as I do. $6.23

4:30 p.m. — Spend a few hours finishing up some coursework. I’m deeply insecure about not having my Bachelor’s degree and my ex-boyfriend encouraged me to go back to school during the lockdown. I only had about 20 credits to complete when I left (depression is a bitch). I’m in a much better place mentally and I look forward to being one of the few in my family to finish school. Eventually, I take a break to heat up the fried rice I made last night to go with the banana bread. Seems like a fitting Thanksgiving meal to me.

6 p.m. — My best friend, C., calls to catch up. We talk pretty often since we live so far apart. We both think there will still be restrictions in May 2021 when we are scheduled to go on a trip to Alaska. The thought makes me sad, but I know we will see each other eventually.

8 p.m. — My dog is cuddled with me on the couch while I finish my book. I usually start and finish a new book every day or two. I always have a steady stack of books on hold at the library to fuel this habit. Right now, I’m reading One Day by Gene Weingarten. After the first few pages, I knew it was going to be one of those books that just sticks with you. I can’t recommend it enough.

10 p.m. — Settle the pooch, change into pajamas, do my nightly skincare routine (Glow Recipe Papaya Cleanser, Curology, Neutrogena Eye Cream, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream), brush my teeth, and hop into bed with my cat falling asleep on my chest.

Daily Total: $6.23

Day Two

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I slept really poorly last night and want to just lay in bed all day. I hit snooze. At 6:45, I finally get myself out of bed and let my dog flop around the yard while I stretch and try waking up. After he eats his breakfast, we leash up. It’s time for daycare and as soon as we head for the car he gets excited. Since the pandemic hit, I’ve been trying to keep as much of a normal schedule for him as I can, so he goes even on days that I’m not working. The nature of my job makes telecommuting impossible, so to mitigate some of the risk, my job switched to A/B weeks at 50% office capacity. They’ve continued to pay us our full salaries through all of this. I realize I am incredibly blessed and I’ve been trying to safely patronize as many businesses that I can (mostly dog-daycare and take-out).

8:30 a.m. — After I drop off my pup, I head home to actually put myself together. I take a shower and brush my teeth. I drink some coffee and eat a slice of my banana bread. I take my meds and vitamins (Lexapro, Wellbutrin, multivitamin, vitamin D3, omega-3, cranberry pill, ginseng, and ashwagandha). After looking at the state of my bedroom, I put my sheets in the wash and put away the pile of clean clothes that have been sitting in my hamper since Tuesday. My cat screams at me for affection while I’m doing all of this.

10 a.m. — Finally time to put on my face, even though I’m not going anywhere today. Skincare and makeup are two interests that I really threw myself into when we were completely locked down at the beginning of the year. Morning Skincare is pretty simple: water, First Aid Beauty Toner, Sunday Riley UFO serum, and Tatcha Water Cream. While I’m getting ready, I listen to the Fake Doctors, Real Friends podcast (It is hilarious and you should listen). Makeup for the day is Dr. Brandt primer, Almay foundation, Too Faced eyeshadow, Wander Beauty eyeliner, Thrive Causemetics mascara, Physicians Formula bronzer, Hourglass blush, Benefit highlighter, Urban Decay setting spray, and a quick spritz of YSL perfume (Black Opium, my holy grail). I realize it’s a lot but putting effort into my appearance gives me a much-needed self-esteem boost.

12 p.m. — Take a break from my sociology class to make a cup of tea and browse the Ulta website. It’s Black Friday and there’s an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette (Born to Run, if you’re curious) and a Benefit face palette that I’ve been coveting. I’m not sure if I want to commit to buying just yet though. I put them in my cart yet again and vow to come back in a few hours and see how I feel. Lunch is more leftover fried rice. I cut up and add kale, various greens, and a handful of lentil sprouts to give it some extra oomph.

3 p.m. — Instead of buying the makeup, I get Christmas presents for my family. If they come in next week then I’ve got plenty of time to wrap them and drop them in the mail. I end up buying Christmas cards, three books (some manga my younger brother loves), an essential oil diffuser set, a crossword book, board games (Bananagrams and Exploding Kittens), and two sets of men’s athletic tops ($166.70). I watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother and snack on some more banana bread. $166.70

5 p.m. — Head back to daycare and pick up the pup. It’s a little cold out this evening and I’m grateful for curbside dropoff and pickup. When we get home, I check the mail and find the Christmas present I bought for my ex-boyfriend. I ordered it back in October because the bookseller said it could take two months to get here. I immediately start crying. We broke up a few weeks ago after three years of dating and it wasn’t a breakup where there was a good guy and a bad guy (he moved out of state so his kids could be closer to family). It’s just painful.

6:30 p.m. — I’m laying on the couch still upset and my dog tries to comfort me. Eventually, I get up and preheat the oven for the emergency California Pizza Kitchen box I keep in the freezer. Their BBQ chicken pizza always comforts me. Usually one of these lasts me a few meals, but I eat the whole thing and down a glass of Pepsi for good measure.

8 p.m. — Online shopping got the better of me. I got an email from Colourpop and they re-stocked their Mandalorian eyeshadow palette that I missed during the initial launch. I need to work on better strategies to cope with my feelings aside from shopping ($22.84). Afterward, I curl up on the couch with my dog and crack open another book (After by Anna Todd). One of the benefits of a giant dog is that they keep you warm when they lay on your feet. Unfortunately, I’m not really impressed with the book. After about 50 pages I put it down, unsure if I want to pick it back up. I end up watching a few episodes of The Good Witch on Netflix. It’s a Hallmark series and cheesy sap is what I need right now. $22.84

11 p.m. — Let my dog out one last time, put on pajamas, brush my teeth, and do nightly skincare. Before going to bed, I cuddle with my cat, stretch, and layout on my acupressure mat for a while. I cry some more before falling asleep. Hopefully, tomorrow is better.

Daily Total: $189.54

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up a little groggy. If I were feeling like my usual self, I would try to get some yoga or pilates in, but I am not ambitious this morning. I let the dog out, make coffee, do my morning skincare, take my meds, and brush my teeth. Makeup for today is a Julep eyeshadow stick, Wander Beauty eyeliner, Thrive Causemetics mascara, Garnier under-eye roller, and Morphe setting spray. I skip face products today.

11:30 a.m. — Pup and I spend the morning walking, playing, and cuddling. When he’s tired out, I take stock of my fridge and pantry for the upcoming week. I also look at my list of animal supplies I’m running low on (frozen mice, namely). I write a grocery list for tomorrow and set up a curbside pickup at the pet store for the mice and a new laser pointer for my cat. I have $2.50 in rewards points. Awesome! $10.52

1 p.m. — I head to the pet store to pick everything up. I’m tempted to go into the shoe store next door. I do really need a new pair of boots as it’s getting colder and mine are shredded, but I decide to get them online instead. The pandemic has made me really evaluate every outing I take in a given day, and weighing the risk/benefit on every trip out is getting exhausting. I live alone and I’m still working, so I had only let my ex include me in his quarantine bubble. It’s really lonely now, but ultimately, I know it’s for the best.

4 p.m. — My dog is asleep on my feet again while I read (The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker). I finally look up at the clock and realize that I missed my window to do curbside pickup at the library. Looks like I’m going to use the dropoff box later. I end up on the Ulta website again and realize that I’ve been agonizing over the same two purchases for weeks (Urban Decay eyeshadow palette and a Benefit face palette), so I decide to bite the bullet and order them for curbside pickup. I also add an Ulta-brand foundation stick I’m out of and a Colourpop lipstick that looks really cute. I count this as my Christmas present to myself. $136.89

5:30 p.m. — Go pick up my Ulta haul and drop off the books I finished at the library. I also stop at Office Depot to get a tarot workbook my mom sent me spiral-bound. While I’m searching for a new therapist that takes my insurance and does virtual visits, I’ve been using a lot of self-help workbooks for introspection. Recently, I rediscovered my love of tarot cards and use them for self-reflection as well. I really hate workbooks that don’t lay flat though, so I get them spiral-bound. Office Depot is a ghost town. $4.36

7 p.m. — I stir fry some broccoli slaw, onions, peppers, and ground beef for dinner with soy sauce and rice vinegar. I eat on the couch tonight and watch Hillbilly Elegy on Netflix. It is just as awful as the reviews said it would be and I would like those two hours of my life back.

9:30 p.m. — I’m not feeling tired yet so I put on a Yoga with Adrienne video and follow along. I’m not great at yoga but her voice is so soothing that I forget to obsess about breathing at the correct time and just enjoy the moments I put aside to be with myself. I drink a ton of water after and lay on my acupressure mat for some more relaxation. At 11, I put my dog to bed, do my nighttime routine, cuddle my cat, and lay in bed hoping to fall asleep soon.

Daily Total: $151.77

Day Four

7 a.m. — Time to wake up. I do my morning routine sans makeup. I notice there’s about a week of medication left, so I make a note to schedule a consultation for a refill. I go downstairs to brew coffee and whip up some eggs, bell peppers, onions, and spinach. My dog is batting his Kong toy around the kitchen to get his breakfast while I cook. I love eggs with barbecue sauce so I add a bit to my egg scramble. My family and friends are horrified by this. I eat breakfast at the table and read The Washington Post (a friend got me a year of Sunday delivery as a birthday present). This is probably the most pretentious adult thing I love to do, even down to the jazz playlist on Spotify.

9:30 a.m. — My mom calls and we catch up for a bit. Once we hang up, I head to the grocery store. The store is not crowded if you go while church is in service. I buy coffee creamer, asparagus, Uncrustables, Pepsi, ground beef, a frozen barbecue chicken pizza, mashed potato mix, pasta sauce, sweet & spicy sausage, and a bouquet of fresh flowers ($56.35). I also stop at the gas station and grab a few energy drinks for the mini-fridge in my office ($5.50). $61.85

11 a.m. — A friend texts me the link to a playlist he made. Our friendship is almost exclusively expressed in Spotify playlists we create for each other. I blast it through my speaker while I sweep and mop, and “This Year” by The Mountain Goats hits me way more than I expected. I have to put on 90s boybands to lighten the mood while I clean the bathroom and run the dishwasher. I cap this off by vacuuming, cleaning out my snake tank, and adding more cat food to the automatic feeder. I handle my snake and he hangs out around my neck while I tell him about my weekend. We end our bonding time with me feeding him (frozen mouse).

2 p.m. — Cleaning is done. Time to get on the pole again. In the before times, I basically lived at my dance studio. I don’t think it’s safe for me to resume classes yet, but I’m still paying my monthly dues until I feel it’s safe to go back. I would be devastated if they had to close. Lately, I’ve let practice fall by the wayside. There’s a pole in my living room, so there’s really no excuse. I warm up and do basic spins and tricks. It feels pretty good, so I try a few more difficult things that I haven’t done in a while. They go… less well but I tell myself to just keep at it. I end the hour by putting on my pole playlist and I spend a few minutes freestyling, enjoying the movement, and my body.

4 p.m. — Lunch-prep time! I cook up the sausages with bell peppers, garlic, and onion, add some penne and the pasta sauce. Voila, some kind of meal! I portion it into four containers and dig through my freezer for more ideas on what to cook. I find a bag of cauliflower fried rice with chicken buried so I heat it up and portion it into two containers. I finish up with a big batch of corn and black bean salad with the last of my onions and bell peppers. This also goes into containers and now I’ve got lunch and a snack for the rest of the week. Before I leave the kitchen, I end up making pretzel bread. 45 minutes later, I’m ravenous and eat the bread with almond swiss cheese spread. If I were a wine drinker, a glass of something red would probably complement this nicely. Pepsi will have to do.

6:30 p.m. — Zoom check-in with other women from the pole studio. It’s really nice to see everyone. These women are my family here and I really miss dancing with them. I took a class on a whim two years ago and it changed my life. Someone tries to convince one of us to buy a pair of heels she’s getting rid of, and I’m super tempted until she mentions that the heels are 8″. I really only feel comfortable in 7″s, so that’s a no. We all say goodbye after an hour of laughs and promises to check up again soon. Afterward, I’m on the couch with a new book (My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix).

8:30 p.m. — I take a shower, put on pajamas, and do my nightly skincare routine. The Curology bottle is almost empty and I’m relieved. I got it initially to help with the maskne. It didn’t break me out any worse, but it didn’t improve my skin by much in the past three months either. I’ve already canceled the subscription, but I resolved to finish the bottle since it was $40. I’m also almost out of my cleansing balm, so I have to remember to order some for pickup. I brush my teeth, play with my cat, do my nightly stretches, and layout on my acupressure mat before laying in bed.

Daily Total: $61.85

Day Five

4 a.m. — Insomnia struck last night and now my alarm is going off after not sleeping at all….crap. This happens every now and then. I just have to push through it, even though I’m sorely tempted to call in. I make my bed and do my stretches, then let my dog out. It’s raining pretty hard too so I have to towel him off and give him a quick brush when he comes in. I feed him and blast the Have a Great Day! playlist on Spotify for some much-needed pep to get ready for work. I down my coffee while I get dressed, do my skincare, and take my meds. I throw my hair into a high ponytail and brush out the ends with OGX coconut mist to help with my dehydrated hair. Makeup for the day is Almay foundation, Morphe eyeshadow, Too Faced Mascara, lots of Tarte concealer under the eyes, and Benefit blush.

5 a.m. — Time to make a decision about how I’m getting to work today. I usually try to take the train to cut down on the wear and tear on my car (90 miles roundtrip), but I decide to just drive in. I pack my lunch, give my pup lots of love, and head out the door. I stop at the gas station on the way and top off my tank ($12). On the drive up I start listening to DisneyWar by James B. Stewart (Overdrive app for the win!). I’m almost instantly absorbed and the narrator is really solid. I may try to check out the hard copy from the library so I can finish it faster. $12

10 a.m. — My coworkers are giving me weird looks for eating pasta at my desk at 10 a.m. In my defense, I’ve been here since 6 so it’s technically my lunchtime. Eating at your desk isn’t so much an option in my office, as it is an unspoken requirement. The bright side though is that we aren’t authorized to work overtime so we have to leave at the eight-hour mark. One of the energy drinks I bought yesterday is definitely going to come in handy today. While I’m eating my lunch I order more Glow Recipe Papaya Cleansing Balm for pickup at Sephora. It’s one of the more expensive things I use every day in terms of skincare, but the jar lasts a long time and watching my makeup basically melt off of my face is oddly satisfying. $32

3:30 p.m. — I am finally home! My dog and I curl up on the couch together until it’s time to feed him and figure out my dinner. I’m hit with an insane craving for corn dogs and I drive to Walmart before I even think about it. I get a box of corndogs and a container of potato salad. I also get a bigger organizational basket to hold my ever-growing stash of makeup and a sink plunger as one of the upstairs sinks has been draining slower than usual lately ($15.26). I get an email that my order from Sephora is ready so I head over for pickup. I don’t risk browsing even though the store is empty because I have already bought too much makeup this week and I still have my monthly Ipsy coming in two weeks. $15.26

6 p.m. — I inhale three corndogs with ketchup and ranch. I don’t know where this craving came from, but they really hit the spot. For a second, I think I’m pregnant, but my monthly ritual of “convincing myself I’m pregnant even though I have an IUD and a regular cycle” isn’t scheduled to start for another week. I still make a note to buy my monthly pregnancy test in the next few days. I spend the rest of the evening watching The Incredible Jessica James on Netflix, and I LOVE IT. I text my younger sister and tell her to watch it immediately.

8 p.m. — I was hoping to do some reading or school today but I just didn’t have the mental energy. Nightly routine (settle the dog, stretch, pajamas, skincare, brush teeth, acupressure mat) and I try to actually get some sleep tonight.

Daily Total: $59.26

Day Six

3:30 a.m. — Wake up naturally. Regular morning routine, but with the addition of getting the pup ready for daycare. The sample of Tatcha water cream I’ve been using is almost empty, so it’s time to start looking for a dupe. I take a few moments to write my intentions for the day on my kitchen whiteboard. I’ve been told that meditating on your intentions for the day does…something? We’ll see about that, but I do feel more settled. Makeup for the day is Loreal primer, Ulta foundation, Nomad Cosmetics eyeshadow, Wander eyeliner, Thrive mascara, Maybelline concealer, Physicians Formula bronzer, Milani blush, and Wet & Wild highlighter. I take a look in the mirror and I’m super proud of my makeup today. I snap a quick picture and send it to my mom and sister. Pup and I are out the door.

12:30 p.m. — Work has been hectic this morning. I look up and realize that I’ve only got two hours left. I could really get used to coming in early. Things are starting to slow down though, so I heat up my prepped pasta and browse Reddit for a few minutes. Our office has a small snack & drink stash that’s cheaper than going to the vending machines next door, so I grab a can of Pepsi for an afternoon pick me up. $0.50

3:30 p.m. — Made it home. Doggie daycare doesn’t close for a few hours so I take the time to clean up and do a few things that are hard with a tank of a dog constantly underfoot (mostly schoolwork). I heat up another corndog to hold me over until I’m ready for dinner and check my email. I’ve got an offer for a year of discounted online pole-dancing lessons. This seems like kismet. I browse through their catalog of videos and I’m so impressed by the variety in not just pole lessons, but accompanying bodyweight strength routines, and mobility/flexibility workouts. I’m sold and excited to knuckle down and get serious about dancing again. $79

6 p.m. — Pup and I are home, and it’s probably dinnertime. I’m not feeling particularly hungry though so I just drink a glass of water. I’ll see how I feel in an hour. I go through my credit card statement for last month and even with the shopping for Christmas and makeup purchases, I stayed on budget. My identity was stolen five years ago, so I quit using my debit card. I just put all of my purchases on a rewards credit card and pay it off every month. I should be on track to pay off my other card in the next three months as well. Note to others if you’re in your first home or apartment: it took your parents years to fill up their houses with furniture, kitchen gadgets, and decor. I fell into the trap of trying to get everything all at once and I ended up with $15,000 in credit card debt that I only got under control last year.

7:45 p.m. — Get off the phone with my Telehealth provider. My prescriptions are renewed, but we also decided to up the dosage on my Wellbutrin to try and get my oversleeping back under control. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was right, antidepressants are totally not a huge deal. I need to rewatch that show. It was brilliant. I knock out more schoolwork and text some friends. Text with C. and we agree to a Zoom yoga session for Thursday night. She’s currently finishing her Master’s degree and the stress is getting to her. I wish I was there to comfort her, but all I can do is be an ear and provide encouragement if she wants it. She’s done the same for me so many times.

8:30 p.m. — I get an email telling me that my yearly performance review from my supervisor came in. He didn’t give me a great score, citing my low production numbers and perceived disinterest in my primary customers. I don’t like making excuses, but my primary customers were in the office even less than we were this year and they didn’t have a ton of work for me so I found work elsewhere in the office. I’m so upset by this that I rage-apply to every job on the east coast that I am even remotely qualified for. I talk to C. and she sends me encouragement in the form of Star Wars quotes, mostly a lot of “Let the hate flow through you” gifs. She also talks about me moving back to Texas, which I realize I’m really open to.

11 p.m. — I’m getting ready for bed, but my phone starts ringing. It’s my ex. I should follow the “no-contact” rule, but honestly…I really want to hear his voice. We talk for two hours and it almost makes me forget everything else going on in my life. My mind is a blur and I finally go to sleep around 1.

Daily Total: $79.50

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I woke up at 4 like usual, and after last night, I feel like I would rather have my car spontaneously catch fire on the commute up than go into the office today. Probably a good sign to not go in today. I know I can’t avoid work for very long, but this feels necessary. I feed and play with my dog for a while before going back to sleep.

2 p.m. — WHERE DID THE DAY GO? WHY DID I SLEEP SO MUCH?!?!?! I finally get myself out of bed and make some coffee. Mentally, I’m feeling a lot better, but my back and hips are not happy about the 12-hour sleep-fest today. I put on some leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top and start foam rolling. I also do one of the conditioning videos from the online pole studio. At least I’ve done one productive thing today.

3 p.m. — A notification tells me it’s time to build my monthly Ipsy bag. It’s a little frustrating because I’ve asked them to stop sending eyeshadow, but there’s yet another palette in there. I’m not too impressed by the color story either. Everyone already has a million neutrals, get more creative please! I’ll probably send it to my sister. She and her sorority sisters really appreciate the free makeup. I vow to give Ipsy one more month to get it together before I cancel.

5 p.m. — I cook up some chicken and add it to some veggies and romaine for a quick dinner. While I’m eating I spend some time with the tarot workbook. I really enjoy the deep-dive into each card and how it relates to my life. After dinner, I take a quick shower because I have a reiki appointment tonight at 7. I’ve seen this guy a few times and I’m really excited because the lonely holiday along with everything else has put me really off-kilter. I recognize it is a risk going to see him, but I believe it’s outweighed by the benefits. We are both masked up and we start the session. An hour later, I feel a sense of urgent, yet productive calm fall over me. I thank the practitioner for his time, pay for the session, and add a ten dollar tip. $90

9 p.m. — I get myself ready for bed. I reflect on my week and how chaotic my feelings were. The holidays away from friends and family are always really hard, but the pandemic along with the breakup and the work disappointment made it 1000x harder. To try and put myself in a better headspace, I spend a few minutes writing down things I’m grateful for and then get in bed.

Daily Total: $90

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