A Week In Atlanta, GA, On A $70,000 Salary

Eufemia Didonato

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 risk and insights analyst who makes $70,000 and spends some of her money […]

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 risk and insights analyst who makes $70,000 and spends some of her money this week on a jasmine bouquet scented candle.

Occupation: Risk and Insights Analyst
Industry: Banking
Age: 24
Location: Atlanta, GA
Salary: $70,000
Net Worth: -$8,600 (I have about $25,000 saved including 401(k) and savings accounts. I took out loans in undergrad and grad school to pay for housing, but mostly received scholarships. Unfortunately, I still have $21,000 in student loans, $12,000 left to pay off my car, and $600 on a credit card.)
Debt: Student loans: $21,000, Car note: $12,000, had to finance a laptop in grad school because mine broke: $600
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,100
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $650 (I rent a two-bedroom condo and live with a roommate)
Utilities: $250 (This includes my phone bill of $100. We just cut off cable and are using a streaming box so my utilities should drop.)
Car Note: $300
Student Loans: Due to COVID, my loan payments have been deferred.
Amazon Prime: $12.99
Hulu/Spotify: $5 (yes, I still renew my student account)
Car Insurance: $185
Therapy: $45
InBrace: $50
Planoly: $9

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, growing up in a Pakistani household, my parents expected all of their children to obtain a professional degree (doctor, lawyer, dentist). While I did not pursue any of those professions, I did get my master’s in economics. My parents could not afford to send me and my siblings to school so we all received the Pell Grant and Hope Scholarship. Unfortunately, these scholarships did not cover room and board so I took out loans to pay for that expense. During my junior year, I was an RA and was able to apply for financial aid for room and board. As for grad school, I received a fellowship that covered my tuition and I applied for scholarships to cover my fees. I did have to take out loans for my final semester of grad school to cover my fees and housing costs because I was told at the last minute that I had to take additional courses.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents were not the best at giving financial advice. They were constantly worried about money. They would tell me to save my money but didn’t tell me how to save money or how to spend wisely. These were things that I had to learn from my older sibling’s financial mistakes as well as watching videos, learning on my own, and doing research on how to save and become financially stable/independent.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked as a student assistant in the scholarship office at my university (this was where I really learned about applying for scholarships and how to become financially stable). My sister used to work at this office but graduated so she referred me to her boss to take her position.

Did you worry about money growing up?
Yes, all the time. As a kid, I thought my parents were okay with money because they sheltered me so much. However, it wasn’t until I was in high school when I started to realize that my family did not have a lot of money. I would constantly save whatever money I received from my parents or from paintings that I would sell at school.

Do you worry about money now?
Not as much as when I was in high school or my first couple of years of college. I’m a lot more secure now and financially responsible. I think more about my purchases and make sure that I am investing in quality products and clothing instead of just buying the cheapest item.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself at 21. That was when I started to receive scholarships, got a credit card for emergencies, and started to analyze my purchases instead of recklessly spending my money. I have a financial safety net now and am continuously building it.

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

Day One

9:30 a.m. — Wake up bright and early and get ready to go on my two-mile walk to the Freedom Park Farmer’s Market. I stop by Condesa Coffee for a cafe au lait. $4.54

10 a.m. — I meet my sister up at the farmer’s market and we buy some sourdough bread. $3.50

10:30 a.m. — Walk over to my sister’s place where we make lemon ricotta toast topped with honey, blackberries, and basil using the bread we just bought.

11 a.m. — My sister and I then go to another farmer’s market. We buy lots of fresh produce, cheese, and decadent fresh pastries. Then we stop by Aldi for some fruit and dairy-free milk. $82

2 p.m. — My sister and I go back to her place. We make burrata with basil oil and toast and citrus/fennel salad, and I eat some of her leftover lasagna.

4 p.m. — My sister and I go for a walk and then go back to her place to drink wine.

7 p.m. — We take a Lyft to meet my brother-in-law at a restaurant. The price is surged an extra $10 within 10 minutes because of COVID — so wild. $22.41

9 p.m. — My brother-in-law pays for dinner, so I treat everyone to ice cream. I get rose jelly donut ice cream and it is such a treat! Afterward, my brother-in-law drops me off at home with my groceries. $16.70

Daily Total: $129.15

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up and watch a couple of TikToks, schedule out some food content for my blog, then head to my gym.

1:10 p.m. — After the gym, I shower up and make avocado burrata toast with cherry tomatoes and basil, compliments of yesterday’s farmer’s market run. Then I make some chai. I sit on my patio to get some fresh air and just bask in the sun. This is my first me-day all week.

3:30 p.m. — I drop my sister off at lunch with friends and then go home to eat leftover pizza with sparkling water. I take some time to plan and budget my life — I am trying to move to NYC post-COVID so I am budgeting 2021 to make that happen.

4:30 p.m. — Need some protein, so I eat leftover chicken.

6:30 p.m. — Eat my sister’s leftover lasagna (why is she the best? Stay feeding me) and attempt to make a fancy salad. I whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, and hella oregano over a bed of leafy greens/radicchio then top my salad with parmesan shavings. SO GOOD.

6:51 p.m. — I see a recipe for how to make a single serving cookie on TikTok and attempt it. It is such a fail. So I just watch some One Tree Hill.

8 p.m. — After eating the nasty cookie, I make green juice with lemon, mint, celery, ginger, kale, apple, and cucumber. So refreshing and good! Shortly after, I take an apple cider vinegar shot and then salad prep for the week.

10:18 p.m. — I read finance articles and start a budget spreadsheet. Then I brush my teeth and go to bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up and drink a detox juice and make a matcha latte with coconut milk and almond milk (Aldi has the best coconut milk).

9 a.m. — Eat a couple of dates before my 9:30 meeting.

9:50 a.m. — I get out of my meeting early and start planning out a President’s Day cabin trip since it’s a paid holiday. Leave for the gym shortly after.

11:30 a.m. — Come back from the gym and make burrata toast again with a fried egg, avocado, basil oil, and tomatoes on the side. I cut up some blackberries, blueberries, and an orange to eat after.

12 p.m. — Check some emails, drop a TikTok, and then take a shower.

1:05 p.m. — Hop out of the shower and realize I need more soap so I’ll head to Target later. I book an appointment to sell at Buffalo Exchange and then post some boots on Poshmark. Check the mail and my Aritzia package is here!

1:30 p.m. — I polish my nails. Since I wanna move to NY, I need to save money on a $60 mani/pedi. I hop into some meetings after from 2-4.

4 p.m. — I eat some cheddar cheese and water crackers. I whip up some tzatziki and make a small chicken salad before I return my package and go to Target.

5:15 p.m. — I’m inside of Target and it’s gonna be a longggg while in here. I pick up some socks, hand soap, Reese’s, and a couple of candles. I LOVE the cardamom and vetiver scent as well as the jasmine bouquet pillar candle. $53.27

6:56 p.m. — I get home and make shiitake mushroom pasta, wash the dishes, and watch the latest RHOA on demand. After finishing the episode, I heat up some peach ginger calming tea, edit my 2021 budget, and then go to bed.

Daily Total: $53.27

Day Four

8 a.m. — I wake up, drink water, do some at-home yoga, and then check some emails.

9 a.m. — I make a blueberry almond milk matcha latte and avo toast with egg whites and radishes. Sooo good after yoga. Check more emails and then take a shower and get ready for my laser appointment.

11 a.m. — Go to my laser hair removal appointment, $75 including tip. Then go to pick up my dad’s birthday cake. $75

12:30 p.m. — I go get my dad’s cake. I also pick up some candles and two personal mini cupcakes (red velvet and cookies ‘n cream, OMG). I eat the cupcakes in the car. $46

1:15 p.m. — Got home and eat lunch. Drop some content on my page about my cake experience. Shortly after, I hop back online for work and then a meeting.

4:45 p.m. — Log off of work and go for a walk on the Atlanta Beltline.

5:45 p.m. — Get home and get ready to go to dinner at Café Bombay with my sisters and dad. We order tandoori chicken wings, garlic naan, regular naan, samosa chaat, tikka masala, and mixed grill. Then cut the cake! $25

8:45 p.m. — Drop off some cake to my other sister, then go home and chill on the couch with One Tree Hill. Buy nail polish off Amazon, fold clothes, take a shower, and go to bed. $10.87

Daily Total: $156.87

Day Five

8:37 a.m. — Wake up. I am tiredddd. Make coffee and celery juice.

9:32 a.m. — I buy some coffee pods, protein powder, and coffee syrup from Amazon. Then, I go to the gym. $46.59

1:15 p.m. — I get back home and make lunch. Last night naan + yesterday kebab + salad + chutney + a little bit of achar.

5:30 p.m. — Work has been nonstop. I finally get a break and hop in the shower. I make some broccoli soup and check the mail.

6 p.m. — My exclusive pair of Air Forces came in the mail! So happy 🙂 I watch some CNN and then eat more cake.

9 p.m. — Watch some One Tree Hill, brush my teeth, then go to bed.

Daily Total: $46.59

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and make some oatmeal. Make coffee, drink water, then check my emails/write down some manifestations for the year.

10:30 a.m. — Get hungry again so I make eggs with avo. This always happens when I eat oatmeal. I NEVER stay full for long. Do more work after.

12 p.m. — Meet my trainer for an hour-long session. She kicks my ass (per usual). $55

1:30 p.m. — Get home and make lunch. Heat up some broccoli cheddar soup and make a yummy grilled cheese. Then head to meetings from 2-4.

4 p.m. — Finish work and make spaghetti with meatballs. I’m a sucker for pasta. I also prep some overnight oats for tomorrow.

6:30 p.m. — I take a shower and then get cozy in bed.

Daily Total: $55

Day Seven

12:39 a.m. — I can’t sleep so I scroll through TikTok.

3 a.m. — Still tossing and turning so I eat some overnight oats with bloobs.

6 a.m. — Still struggling to sleep so I decide to write down some manifestations. I get a little sleepy closer to 7 so I take an hour nap.

8:16 a.m. — Wake up. Do some yoga and make breakfast — boiled eggs and overnight oats.

9 a.m. — Get online for work, send and check emails (I really hate my job).

2 p.m. — I email some PR contacts about scheduling out some content. I’m a blogger in Atlanta and I’ve been kind of exhausted from the scene especially with COVID. I’m trying to find more outdoor dining options to cover.

6 p.m. — My sister and I make skillet macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and air-fried chicken breast. It is all SOOOOO delicious!!! I drop some content of the macaroni and cheese on my Instagram and my followers love it.

8 p.m. — Watch a new Real Housewives of Atlanta episode then head to bed.

Daily Total: $0

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