A Week In Central Pennsylvania On A $50,000 Salary

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 assistant athletic director who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a candy apple.

Occupation: Assistant Director
Industry: Athletics
Age: 30
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Salary: $50,000
Net Worth: -$218,000 ($30,000 in 403(b), plus random stocks in Robinhood and Stash totaling about $100; minus debt)
Debt: $248,000 in student loans from law school. I am on the PSLF plan so they should be forgiven in six or seven years.
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,974
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,350 (includes internet)
Car Lease: $261
Cell Phone: paid by work
Renter’s Insurance: $13
Utilities: $75
Netflix, HBO, Hulu, Prime: I use friends’/family’s accounts
Peloton App/Bike: $92

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?
Yes, both my parents are highly educated and I was always expected to go. I went to an in-state school for undergrad and my parents paid. I went to a private university for law school, which was very expensive (hence the loans). My deal with my parents was that they would pay for my education, however, I then learned about the PSLF so they are paying those monthly payments ($90) and I am working toward forgiveness. Without this, the money would be looming over me for life, but I’m less worried because I can get them forgiven.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We did not talk about money, I came from a very comfortable background and it wasn’t an issue.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
When I was 13 I started babysitting and did that through law school for extra money.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, we were well-off and we got most of what we wanted. I never had a car or anything, but we were comfortable.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, I feel like I am barely making a living and it is hard when I grew up very differently.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
After law school, I moved back with my parents for a bit while job searching, but I still had a full-time job for bills etc. I don’t get anything from my parents now, but I know if I was in need they would step in.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

11 a.m. — I wake up (sadly). I am not a morning person AT ALL, but it is a weekend so I feel I can lay in bed. I take my puppy out. I thank the puppy for being such a trooper. She can go through the night (up to 14 hours) and almost never gets up for me to take her out, even at eight months! I did cave early and she sleeps with me…

12:30 p.m. — I make a random “brunch” with things I have. Trader Joe’s roasted potatoes with pepper for the win. Make that with some scrambled eggs and watch Making the Cut. Not as good as Project Runway, in my opinion. I then do a quick 30-minute Peloton ride.

4 p.m. — I have a meeting on campus… on a Sunday. I bring my puppy because it’s a weekend and the people attending will enjoy her. She promptly falls asleep in my lap so that doesn’t make me feel great about my presentation skills.

5 p.m. — Since I have a meeting on a weekend I decide to splurge on grocery pickup ($2.95) instead of going to the store. I get turkey, lettuce, bread, Sun Chips, pickles, fruit, tomatoes, eggs, Diet Coke, cheese, and some other things. $54.70

7 p.m. — I decide to make zucchini pie with some zucchini I got at a local stand and it turns out pretty well. Just going to do laundry and relax before the week. We recently returned to the office and it is TIRING.

8 p.m. — I do another 30-minute Peloton ride.

Daily Total: $54.70

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for work. Shower, dress, light powder makeup, and some mascara. I have really relaxed my makeup after 18 months of working from home. I pack a granola bar and fruit for breakfast and stop at Dunkin’ on the way in. I will likely not even eat the food because I am not big on breakfast, but it’s good to have. I reload my Dunkin’ card and prepay. I get my usual iced coffee. Does anyone else drink iced coffee all year even in the winter? Hope this reload lasts the week. Spoiler: It will not. $10

12 p.m. — I go home for lunch and to let my puppy out. I don’t think she needs to go out constantly, but I worry for her and I think she is lonely. I can then have lunch at home, which is also nice. I make a turkey sandwich and have some Sun Chips and tomatoes with it while I let the pup, S., run around. She is so cute and I hate leaving her again.

5 p.m. — Get home from work and decide to relax with S. and play with her a bit. I heat up leftover zucchini pie for dinner and eat that while vegging in front of the TV. I do a quick Peloton session.

10 p.m. — I get in bed to cuddle with S. but don’t actually fall asleep until about midnight. She, of course, falls right asleep and I keep having to shift her around since her little body is so hot.

Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Time to get up… not having it. As you will see, as the week goes on, I sleep later and later. Honestly, I wish I could work from 10-7, but alas, not an option.

12 p.m. — I go home to let S. out and I let her run around a little. I make myself some lunch with leftovers and throw her toy for a bit before I have to head back to work. I miss working at home and I’m sure she misses it, too. I sell a random thing on Poshmark! I only get $4 but oh well. I am HUGE into the reselling game. I have so many old things and it really helps give me extra spending money. I also now “consign” for a few friends and keep a third of their sales. I’ve made about $5,000 so far.

3 p.m. — I book a flight to Chicago for a friend’s wedding coming up this fall. This is actually a pretty good deal. I haven’t flown yet since COVID and I am still a bit skeptical (even though I’m vaxxed), but it should be fine. Luckily, I have approximately 30 cloth masks laying around my house since my mom got very into making them this year. Looking forward to the wedding… now to find something to wear. $308

5 p.m. — Back from work and having some leftovers for dinner again. I have been trying to eat all the frozen leftovers I have saved since I rented out my place on Airbnb for a few weekends and I want to clear out as much food as possible. I contemplate doing a Peloton ride, but I’m too tired. Ever since I returned to the office, I only use it on weekends, but I am trying to get better. I used to do lunch workouts or just ride during webinars and I really miss that flexibility. I have heard they may let us go hybrid soon and I cannot wait.

10 p.m. — Get into bed to start to relax and read my book. I am a huge reader and read about a book a week. I use the library ebook borrowing system. I also put on some The Ordinary serum after cleaning my face.

Daily Total: $308

Day Four

6:50 a.m. — Same old story, wake up, take out the dog, shower, and get ready and go to work. Stop at Dunkin’ for iced coffee. I am boring during the work week, I guess.

12 p.m. — Go home to let the dog out and leave out a package for pickup for Poshmark sales. I am so into this and this will give me an extra $60 this week.

5 p.m. — I come home from work and eat dinner and then start swiping on Hinge. During the pandemic, it wasn’t a priority, but I do really want to meet someone. This is a very family-centric town and it is very hard to meet guys. I haven’t had great luck, but I’m trying to stay optimistic about it all.

6:30 p.m. — I pour a glass of wine and take a bath with some bath bombs and do a face mask. I’m trying not to drink on weeknights anymore but sometimes it happens. Wine Wednesday, right?

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — Wake up, let dog out, shower, get ready. I don’t stop at Dunkin’ today because I find some iced blueberry tea in my fridge, so I bring that.

11:30 a.m. — Our department has a back-to-school picnic in the football stadium, so I head over there for lunch. They have typical game/grill food and I eat a hot dog, fries, baked beans, and half a pint of ice cream. Yes, they gave us full pints of ice cream.

5:15 p.m. — I get home, do leftovers again for dinner, and realize I am out of several things. I put in an Amazon order and get puppy food, clear packing tape (for Poshmark), a dog nail file thing, and deodorant. I have been trying to clip my puppy’s nails but she is not having it, so I think a file could be better? She’s just so small that it’s hard to get at her paws sometimes. Fun note: When I got her she had white nails, but they are black now. Adorable. $54.58

6 p.m. — While on Amazon, I discover “Amazon Wardrobe” where you can order stuff and try it on, then only pay for what you keep. After watching Making the Cut, I decide to order a few things from Seta for this upcoming wedding. I get about $600 worth of clothes and I definitely will not keep it all, but interesting concept.

Daily Total: $54.58

Day Six

6:55 a.m. — Get up, shower, get ready, go to work. Bring my own iced tea again since I don’t have time for Dunkin’.

12:15 p.m. — Go home for lunch and make an “adult Lunchable” with crackers, cheese, turkey, and some veggies.

5 p.m. — Finally the weekend!! I order a Domino’s pizza since I have a free one and I just pay for garlic sauce. I pick that up and head home to watch movies and have some wine. Just a chill night at home, which is ideal. $0.53

Daily Total: $0.53

Day Seven

11:30 a.m. — I convince my neighbors to go to the local county fair with me. We get there and pay admissions and park. $9

12:15 p.m. — We walk around a bit at the fair and decide to start our food and drink tour. They get some fried pickles and I get spinach dip and we share. I also get an iced tea. $10

1 p.m. — I spot pierogi tacos and get two. They are delicious. This fair is a very small town old-timey fair and it’s pretty fun to look around. They have animals being judged and different booths with games, etc. $8

1:45 p.m. — It is about 95 degrees, so we decide to head out. I get a candy apple to go and I will eat that later. So good with that bright red crunchy candy shell. $3

2:30 p.m. — I take a nap to recover from the heat.

5 p.m. — After laying in bed for a while I get up and do a quick Peloton ride and make some dinner. Leftovers again (chicken fajitas) and wine while watching bad movies again. He’s All That is NOT IT.

Daily Total: $30

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