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A Week In St. Petersburg, FL, On A $57,500 Salary

·24 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: a business analyst who makes $57,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on Twisted Tea.

Occupation: Implementation Business Analyst
Industry: Insurance
Age: 43
Location: St. Petersburg, FL
Salary: $57,500
Net Worth: -$105,877 (Checking: $557 (this account zeroes out almost every paycheck period, I do not save), 401(k): $772.21 (started new job three months ago; contributing 2% with company match), $35 in penny stocks and Dogecoin investment (only did these investments after being coaxed by my boyfriend, hence the very small amounts) minus debt. I live with my long-term boyfriend/father of my two youngest kids. We have separate bank accounts and split all household expenses and kid-related stuff. Anything left is for our own personal expenses.)
Debt: $95,663.23 in student loans (currently in deferment) and $11,578 left on my car
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,794
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $790 (My half after splitting rent with boyfriend — three-bed, two-bath house)
Utilities: $145 (Boyfriend and I split all utilities; this is my half of electricity, water)
DIRECTV Satellite Cable: $200 (I pay this in full, boyfriend pays both cell phone bills in exchange)
Internet: $108
Before and After School Care: $68 every two weeks (Boyfriend and I swap payment every other week)
Amazon Prime: $12
Amazon Kindle Unlimited: $9.99
Car Insurance: $142
Netflix/Hulu/Spotify: $30 (I share my logins for Netflix and Hulu with my adult children ages 28 and 22 and my grandchild who is 12)
Ipsy Subscription: $9.99
Car Wash Membership: $42.99
Google Storage: $1.99
Health/Vision/Dental: $284

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?
No, there was never any real expectation. Neither of my parents went to college and we never talked about college in my house growing up. I dropped out of high school, got my GED, and did not go to college until later in life. I ended up having my daughter at the age of 15, which caused me to have to grow up pretty fast. The father was not in the picture, so I was on my own, with my parents’ help. I went back to ninth grade after I had the baby, but school was no longer my focus at the time. I ended up getting into a program for young adults, which helped me get my GED and nurse’s aide training. I did not go to college until 2014 when I decided to start attending online classes and I have been chipping away at that bachelor’s degree now for over six years with three classes left to graduate.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I was not really educated specifically about money. When I was really young, I remember having to go with my mom to cash SSI/disability checks. She has a really severe case of scoliosis. At some point, the disability stopped, and my mom started working again as a toll booth collector. As far as I am aware, my parents did not use a bank, everything was paid in cash. My parents gave me a small allowance of $2 a week when I was about 10 and I thought it was the bee’s knees.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first paying job was at 13 through a summer program created to better the welfare of children. That first summer, I learned how to make jewelry. The second summer, I worked in the library of the local children’s hospital.

Did you worry about money growing up?
We grew up middle class in my eyes. I never saw us struggle for anything and we ate takeout once or twice a week, but we never went on family vacations. Anything I asked for I pretty much received, but I also remember myself and my brother not really asking for much. My dad used to take us to the thrift store and we would spend hours there so I got really good at spotting deals.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, I do worry about money, but probably not as much as I should. I lost my job in October 2020 during the pandemic. When I lost my job, I did not have any money saved, and only $4,000 in my 401(k) because I had already been dipping into it with loans. I did not receive any of my accrued PTO from my job and was paid only up to the exact minute I was let go. Literally. To. The. Minute. I had never felt so left out in the cold. Thankfully, I was able to extend my car payments and sign up for unemployment, otherwise, I would not have been able to keep up with everything. I did start a new job, but I’m still not saving any money other than in my 401(k), so it’s pretty much paycheck to paycheck.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself fully at about 18 years old. Over the next five years or so, I found myself moving back in with my parents numerous times. It was a struggle to do real adulting for a while there, even with a baby. I do not have a financial safety net other than my 401(k), which has started over from zero.

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

Day One

5:30 a.m. — Wake up to my boyfriend, F.’s, alarm, wish I could ignore it. Try to go back to sleep for those extra 30 minutes. I listen to my gentle waves sound machine until my alarm goes off. My eight-year-old sneaks into my room for his iPad while I am in the shower.

6:15 a.m. — F. leaves for his 7 a.m. shift; his workplace never closed during the pandemic, so he has had to go to work every single day. I envy how he never had to change his routine.

6:40 a.m. — I wake up my 12-year-old and make the eight-year-old get out of bed. I have to remind him every few minutes to keep it moving or he’d stand in front of the TV naked with one sock on all morning. We get out the door at 7:05 to drop the younger one off at school (the older one is still doing remote learning).

7:25 a.m. — We stop by McDonald’s on the way to school. We get hotcakes with sausage, a hash brown, orange juice, and a large coffee. $8.77

8 a.m. — Get back to the house and log on to the WFH job that I just started three months ago. I have a small area behind the dining room table where I have a desk set up. When the pandemic started, I tried to work from the kitchen table, but I felt I needed more of a real desk setting with multiple monitors. I bought a cheap desk and an expensive cushy office chair. No regrets. I have a meal replacement shake and a banana while I work.

9:15 a.m. — Log into my one on-camera Zoom meeting for the day. Thank goodness all my other meetings are off-camera. Start another Zoom meeting with two other newbies for our daily three-hour training call.

12 p.m. — Lunchtime for my son and me. I heat up some BBQ pork ribs, a burnt hot dog (the only way to eat grilled hot dogs IMO), and some baked beans that I made for dinner Sunday. I offer some leftover BBQ to my son, but he opts for some frozen taquitos that he nukes in the microwave.

2:30 p.m. — Window shopping on Amazon, which I do at least 10 times a day. I have a lot of items “saved for later,” plus I probably order something twice a week. Prime is so addicting. I order a strip to lay down between my stove and my counters to cover the gap since food keeps falling through. I also added some Aquaphor and more HBR meal replacement chocolate powder mix. $43.67

3:30 p.m. — F. gets home from work and picks up our daily energy drinks from the corner store on the way home. Such a bad habit but I feel like I cannot function without them. Plus, they taste good. I CashApp him money to cover drinks all week. A delivery from Amazon arrives, and at first, I have no clue what it is. Then I remember I ordered a card game for us to play for my son’s birthday called “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” $12

4:30 p.m. — Log off my work laptop, I’m done for the day, yay! I leave to go pick up my younger son from his after-school care. It’s my 12-year-old’s birthday today so we stop by the store to pick up his birthday cake. Also pick up some paper towels, Capri Suns, and vanilla ice cream. F. CashApps me half. $25.50

5:30 p.m. — Once we get home, the birthday boy opens his cards and gifts. Then, I start dinner and watch Worst Cooks in America while I cook. Dinner is on the table by 6:45. I wash the pots, pans, and dishes from dinner and then we sing Happy Birthday to my son and he blows out his candles on the cake.

8:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale that I am behind on and 90 Day Fiancé: The Single Life finale. I also eye the bottle of tequila I bought over the weekend and promise myself a margarita before the end of the night. We play “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” We are all laughing so hard, my face hurts from laughing. It is one of the best times we have had in a while, so glad I bought this game. After the game, we all hang out in the master bedroom on our various devices until bedtime.

10 p.m. — The kids go to bed. I read on my Google News and Apple News apps and check my emails. F. is doing the same on his iPad. I never did get that margarita (sad face). I’m yawning, so I guess it’s time to get ready for bed. I turn off the TV and turn on my white noise machine/nightlight. I’m snoring by 10:45.

Daily Total: $89.94

Day Two

6 a.m. — Barely heard F.’s alarm and now here goes mine. Ugh. Another day another dollar. Jump in the shower to start another day. Same routine with the kids. I’ve been wearing my hair natural for the past seven months or so — it’s super curly but can turn frizzy in two seconds. I need to braid it into some cornrows to refresh the curl, but I don’t have time for that. I spray some water and add some leave-in conditioner. We are out of the house by 7:20 today, and I am running late.

8 a.m. — Get back to the house after dropping off my son at school. Need to log into work ASAP so it looks like I am there. There is so much more pressure when WFH to make sure it looks like I am always present and busy, even when I am not. Working in the office was so much easier because you were there and everyone could see and hear what you were doing. I am actually looking forward to being back in the office. Mix up another shake.

11:30 a.m. — Finish my morning training a little earlier than usual. Talk to my son about lunch options. I’m hungry, so we decide to make a Publix run for an Italian sub for me and some chicken tenders from the hot deli side for him, plus a four-pack of Hawaiian sweet rolls and two bottles of Publix tea. I also get $20 cash back at the register to buy lotto scratch-offs from the automated machine (win $5). $36.55

2 p.m. — My mom stops by to pick up some of the leftover ribs we cooked on the grill over the weekend and I also saved her a plate of the chicken parmesan I made last night. My mom is in her seventies and recently stopped working (finally!). She is not truly in retirement, as it was not by choice, but I think it is good for her to finally slow down and enjoy life. She doesn’t like to cook anymore, so I cook for her when I can. Then, I have another meeting.

4:30 p.m. — Work is done, go to pick up my kid from school. Listen to old-school rap and R&B on the way. I love it way more than a lot of the current music. Back at the house. After helping my son get started on his homework, I watch some more Handmaid’s Tale and then I get ready to cook dinner. I make tacos while watching more Worst Cooks in America.

8 p.m. — The kids want to play another game of “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” I decide to record it on the camera my kids got for Christmas. They want to be YouTube stars and both have budding channels. Unfortunately, they only have me to help edit and get everything uploaded, so they are not posting many videos. Plus, they are kids, so it really should be for fun not like a job. We play and it’s hilarious again.

10 p.m. — Time for the kids to go to bed, same routine as usual. I’m still not up to doing my hair, so I just wrap it up into the usual bun. I’m feeling tired already, so after reading on my Kindle app for a bit, I get ready for bed. I’m out by 10:15.

Daily Total: $36.55

Day Three

6 a.m. — Wake up, happy hump day! Just glad the week is halfway done. Wish it was Friday at 5 though. Same routine for kiddos. For me, I decide to wear a pair of my daily contacts today, which I rarely even attempt to do anymore. My eyelids have a condition called GPC caused by me sleeping in my contacts when I was in my twenties. Now I can only wear my contacts for about six hours before my eyes turn red and start getting itchy. However, it’s been like a year and I have three boxes of unused contacts, so I need to try to get my money’s worth. Get out of the house to drop off my son at a decent time, and make good time on the drive over.

7:35 a.m. — After I drop him off, I swing by the Dunkin’ by my house. I order a small hot chocolate, hash browns, and a large hot caramel coffee. I also throw in a last-minute order of bacon and cheese roll-ups. They are unexpectedly pretty good. Log in to work by 8 a.m. and get on a Zoom call at 9. $11.20

12 p.m. — My morning training is done and it’s time for lunch. Both my son and I have no clue what to eat, so we opt for the easy route: a pouch of tuna fish with hot sauce on it and townhouse crackers. I mix some Mio squirt into my water.

3 p.m. — My eyes are starting to already bother me from the contacts, so I take them out and lube up my eyes with some saline solution to get the gritty feeling out. I then put on my tried and true red, too big for my face, Ray Ban-esque frames from Zenni. I love these glasses. F. gets home and tells me he has to go into work at 3 a.m. tonight. Yuck.

4:30 p.m. — Done with for the day at work. Head out to pick up my son as usual. After getting back home, I send my youngest to the kitchen table to start his homework. I pull out the ingredients for a shrimp boil and realize I am missing a key item, the Zatarain’s crab boil in a bag. I make a run to the closet grocery store. This store is always out of what I need and today is no exception. I don’t find the crab boil in a bag, so I get a bag of Zatarain’s Crab Boil powdered seasoning. I also get some things for breakfast. $12.95

6:15 p.m. — Finish cooking, grub down on the shrimp boil, and everyone grabs a piece of birthday cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert. F. gets ready for bed around 8 and kisses us all good night.

8:30 p.m. — We play a quick game of “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.” It cracks us up as usual. I head back to my room, turn on the noise machine. Night-night.

Daily Total: $24.15

Day Four

1:45 a.m. — F.’s alarm goes off for him to get ready for his early shift. He only needs like 30 minutes to wake up, shower, and leave the house. I fall back into a restless sleep. I’m tossing and turning, not fully awake, but not fully asleep. I find it hard to sleep when F. has to leave early. I start having mini panic attacks that this is the night someone will try to break in.

6 a.m. — My little bully of an alarm won’t stop ringing, so I guess it’s time to get up. I peruse my Apple News app for a few, watch more news on the TV, and then get motivated to get dressed and wake the kids up. I try to do something different with my hair but it’s just not having it… I have a love/hate relationship with it, as I think most women do. I have a nice stash of wigs that I used to have on rotation before the pandemic, but once we started WFH, I went the natural route, and it’s been working so far. Side note: I’m half white, half Black. I love all my sides, but the more accepting side of me has always been my Black folks, so that is who I identify with more.

7:20 a.m. — We stop for McDonald’s on the way to school. We get the usual: a large hot coffee, a few hash browns, a small OJ, and a small sweet tea. Back at home by 8, logging into my work PC for the day. We do not have any training until the afternoon, which leaves me some time to go onto LinkedIn for some job searching. I am low-key looking for a new job, as the job I have now is not what I thought it would be. Put in a few applications. $11.47

12 p.m. — I heat up leftover shrimp boil. After eating, I log into my kids’ summer camp website, which is at a city recreation center at a park. My kids go here every year and my older kids did as well. It’s nice to have them somewhere where I know all of the counselors and how they operate. The first installment for the summer camp is due today. I pay and see that we got a credit back on the account for $25 since my older son is getting a grant to attend teen summer camp. Nice. I email F. a copy of the receipt and he CashApps me half. $65

3:30 p.m. — I check my email and see that I finally hear back from a recruiter who I thought had ghosted me last week. She said the interview went really well but that the decision-makers have been on vacation and are now just getting back and that I should hear something soon. I gain a flicker of hope.

4:45 p.m. — I talk to F. about picking up dinner while I am out to get my son from school. We decide to get Chick-fil-A since it’s on the way. I grab a few combos for us, something for F. to take for lunch, and a kids meal for the youngest. F. CashApps me half. $19

7:30 p.m. — Decide it’s time to wash my hair, as I need to refresh the curls. I grab my Suave Moroccan Infusion Shampoo, Paul Mitchell The Detangler deep conditioner, and my Denman brush. Once it’s all lathered up, I brush through as much of the tangles that I can then wash it all out and apply another healthy amount of the conditioner and rinse one last time. I lightly towel dry my hair and then add aloe vera gel, CurlKeeper Liquid Styler, and a dollop of Let’s Jam Conditioning Hold to each parted section and cornrow them. Pop open a premixed drink when I’m done.

9:30 p.m. — We call it a night a bit earlier than usual. We all get ready for bed and hit the sack.

Daily Total: $95.47

Day Five

6 a.m. — It’s finally Friday! The morning goes as planned, we get out of the house on time and I’m on my way to drop off my son at school.

9 a.m. — My Zoom on-camera meeting is canceled today, another win for Friday! I also receive a notice that the clothes I ordered last week are delivering one day earlier, today instead of tomorrow. Woot woot!

11:30 a.m. — Getting hungry, so I decide to make some cheese quesadillas for lunch. My son eats the leftover chicken nuggets. The day goes by pretty quickly and it’s time to log off (we have an early release today).

4:30 p.m. — It’s time to go pick up my son from school. On Fridays, we always pick up dinner while we are out picking up my son from school. We get Chinese food for us and McDonald’s for the kids. F. CashApps me half. $20

7 p.m. — The entire family gathers at the dining room table to play a round of “Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese, Pizza.”

10:30 p.m. — Get ready for bed after playing some Destiny 2 on the Xbox. I’m trying to get my character’s power level up as the new season has started and I have not had time to play as much as I usually do. I love good shooter games. F. is still up, rebelling against having to go to sleep early on a Friday night. Lights out for both of us by 11.

Daily Total: $20

Day Six

2:10 a.m. — I sleep through F.’s alarm (thankfully) and only wake up to kiss him goodbye; he’s out the door for his early shift. I fall back asleep.

5:45 p.m. — It’s the weekend so no work for me, but my youngest cannot sleep past 5:30 on the weekends. He pops into my room and asks for the iPad. I oblige. I’m up by 7:30. I help my youngest get some waffles in the toaster and I toast a few slices of bread. My older son and I slather some butter and grape jam on the toast and call it breakfast.

9:30 a.m. — The kids and I head out to the grocery store. I pick up bananas, cabbage, cherries, Gatorade, Twisted Tea, Heineken, ground beef, chicken wings, pork roast, crackers, canned green beans, macaroni and cheese, instant mashed potatoes, lasagna noodles, spaghetti sauce, garlic bread, eggs, milk, bread, hamburger buns, creamer, cereal, waffles, banana milk (so good), and a few other items here and there. F. CashApps me half. $70

11 a.m. — F. sends me an email of a purchase he just made, he says it’s a secret and not to tell the kids. He bought an Oculus VR headset and will be picking it up from Target on his way home. My 12-year-old asked for this for his birthday that just passed and we did not get it simply because it said you are required to have a Facebook account. Last week, I happened to see that he had emails from Facebook. I was like, hold up, these look like emails to someone who has a Facebook account. This child should NOT have any social media accounts without our knowledge. Found out he created it to livestream one of his favorite YouTubers but failed to tell us. Long story short, we will be monitoring that account. Sidenote: F. and I are social media-free in our lives. But I guess now we can get the Oculus. Facebook is such a racket.

3:30 p.m. — F. gets home with the new Oculus. He’s really tired from his 12-hour shift, especially since he bucked going to bed early last night. I help the kids with the setup. We download Beat Saber right away and the kids are having a blast playing.

6 p.m. — F. has fallen asleep on the couch, poor baby. I check with him to see what he wants on his pizza, as pizza is the ritual for Saturday nights. We order Papa John’s — two pizzas and some garlic breadsticks. I run out to pick up the pizza and hit the car wash on the way (included in my monthly subscriptions). $16

8 p.m. — I make margaritas for myself and F. followed by a Twisted Tea and a Heineken for F. We both play some Destiny 2 on the Xbox.

10:30 p.m. — Get ready for bed, my youngest has fallen asleep on our bed, so I wake him up, and he zombie-walks to his bed. We are all asleep by 11.

Daily Total: $86

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — I wake up, no alarms, but I still cannot sleep in anymore. The kids are also up but not out of their beds yet. I cook some Canadian ham and scrambled eggs for breakfast.

10:30 a.m. — I buy two more games on the Oculus and download a few demos. It’s pretty neat. $50

11 a.m. — Put in a Target drive-up order for new twin Minecraft bedsheet sets for both of my kids. I also start tonight’s dinner; we are having beer-braised pulled pork. The pork roast I bought is seven pounds, so it will need to slow cook for five hours. I start with the sear, which is dry rubbing the roast with pepper, seasoning salt, coriander, Sazon Goya, garlic powder, and paprika, then roasting at 500 degrees for 45 minutes. I then pour a can of Guinness over the roast and cook for five hours at 325 degrees. Mmm, so good. $41.21

4 p.m. — My mom stops by, she wants to try out the VR headset and get a plate of the pulled pork. While we chit-chat, I start the cabbage by putting half a pack of bacon on med-high. I dole out bacon to everyone and keep a few pieces and the bacon drippings to cook the cabbage in. I cut up the cabbage and fry it in the bacon drippings, then add seasonings and some water. This cooks down for about 45 minutes.

5:30 p.m. — The pulled pork is done, so I make a to-go plate for my mom. She got a call from my older brother who wants some money, as usual, so she is on her way to give him some cash. So over that sitch but I don’t say anything as it falls on deaf ears. She an enabler.

10:30 p.m. — Kids go to bed as they can’t hang past this time most nights. F. brings me a Twisted Tea and he drinks another Heineken. We play Destiny 2 for a while.

11 p.m. — I re-braid down my hair to refresh my curls. Hit the sack as we are all pooped.

Daily Total: $91.21

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