A Week In Texas On A $31,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
What are your most pressing money questions right now? The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many of us to rethink and reprioritize our finances. Is there a burning money-related issue for you that’s come up in the past few months? Submit them here.

Today: a childcare worker who makes $31,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Whataburger.
Advertisement
Occupation: Childcare Worker
Industry: Daycare
Age: 25
Location: Texas
Salary: $31,000
Net Worth: $1,500 in my savings account and $9,500 in my IRA. I do not contribute to this account. I also have $600 in my 401(k) — I put in 4% and the government matches 3%.
Debt: $5,800 in student loans.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,015
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $863
Student Loans: $76
Wifi: $63
Electricity: $30-$40
Cell Phone: $30
Spotify: $16.9
Savings: $50 (for medical bills and gifts. I have about $200 in this account.)

Day One

5 a.m. — My alarm goes off…. Nope! I can hear the cat knocking stuff off the dining room table….like why cat.
5:30 a.m. — Okay okay, I'll get up. I throw on my fuzzy robe, slippers, and head to the bathroom. I brush my teeth and wash my face. I then put some Sephora eye cream and the Hope in a Jar moisturizer with SPF 30. No makeup for me, I only really put it on when I am meeting up with people. Maybe one day I'll paint a face on, not today, today I'm faceless. I change into my work clothes that comfy and adhere to the strict guidelines (cover tattoos). I start the coffee maker and pop the bagel into the toaster. I eat a banana and drink water as I get ready. I pack my lunch and my work bag. Then, I head to work.
6:45 a.m. — I work at a childcare facility and we go through security before we enter. At the facility, they ask us the COVID questions like if we've traveled out of the country, etc. They take our temperatures. We have also dramatically reduced the number of kids and staff. Only those with essential jobs can bring their child to the daycare and we have been alternating work weeks, so I had last week off and this week on. Honestly, I don't like it. I'm bored at home and would rather come to work. Thankfully I still get paid my full 80 hours so I really shouldn't be complaining, I just prefer to be busy.
Advertisement
7 a.m. — My kids start arriving. The rest of the morning consists of playing, breakfast, playing, diapers. We wear masks at work and I wonder how it will affect child development if they can't see our faces for nine hours a day.
9 a.m. — My last kiddo comes and we roll out for a walk. I'm happy to be outside so I can take my mask off and get some sunshine.
12:30 p.m. — And this is how I perish, the person who covers me for lunch hasn't come yet. I am hungry and need to pee. Sigh the cons of working at a daycare, you can't leave the kids alone. I sit there trying to decide if I should send $500 to my savings or towards the student loan. I think I'm going to send it towards the student loan.
12:46 p.m. — If I pee my pants, let my mother know that she potty trained me well.
1:15 p.m. — Finally somebody comes. I get an hour and 15 minutes. I eat my rice with cheese and peanuts, berries, and a cucumber. I make some green tea as well. I scroll through social media and read a bit on the Libby app. I head back to the classroom at 2:30 to be with the kiddos. I leave work at 4:30 and head home to change.
5 p.m. — I text my friend that I'm on my way to her place, which is about 20 minutes away. I get there and we decide to research somewhere for happy hour with a patio. Texas has opened everything up so we decide to venture into the world. We get to a local restaurant and find a table away from people. It's not full and people are spaced out on the patio. We split two appetizers and I get three beers ($25 with tip). We discuss life and our dating woes. I'm in a situationship with a boy — he doesn't see it going anywhere but it's nice to have someone during these weird times. $25
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — I drive home and rinse off my body. I'm gross from all the sweating. I get in bed, scroll on social media, and eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $25

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Alarm officially goes off and I get my butt out of bed. I do the same routine as yesterday. Pack the same lunch and out the door by 6:15.
7 a.m. — My kids are taking their sweet time arriving. My boss lets me organize some books before they trickle in. It's been interesting because we are alone with fewer kids instead of having a partner and more kids. I miss having another adult to talk to.
9 a.m. — Time for a stroller ride. Lord, it's hot outside!! Once we get back, I do diapers while letting them watch videos on the iPad. Did I mention that I take care of one-year-olds?! Being stuck behind the diaper changing table while they destroy the classroom is not ideal.
12 p.m. — I put my kids down for a nap and take my lunch break. Same as yesterday.

4 p.m. — Quitting time. I text my friend saying I need to go home and change. It's our friend's birthday today and we will be going to a restaurant to celebrate. I feel so thankful that I made friends before COVID-19 started. I moved to this new state seven months ago because I wanted to explore my independence further and move somewhere where I didn't know a single soul. It's hard to make friends as an adult and I'm proud of myself.

5:30 p.m. — My friend comes to my apartment and we gossip for a bit. We then go to Target for drinks and cupcakes before heading to our friend's house. I pay for the cupcake. $3

6:30 p.m. — I put a candle on the cupcake, sing happy birthday to the birthday boy, and then we roll out. We go to a nearby restaurant and sit on the patio. I order a fancy grilled cheese and a mojito. I feel like I ate more yesterday for the same price. $30

8:30 p.m. — I say by to my friends and go home. I get into the tub, rinse off the sweat, and head to bed.

Daily Total: $33
Advertisement

Day Three

6 a.m. — I'm up and out of bed. I quickly do the same routine as yesterday and eat my bagel/coffee in the car. I realize once I get to work that I forgot to pack lunch, oops.
9 a.m. — By this time all the kids have arrived, eaten breakfast, had diapers changed, and it's stroller time!
10 a.m. — We take a long walk this time because we have older kids on this walk. Once we get back, we go outside and I water our garden. Then I put the kids down for a nap.
1 p.m. — My relief comes in and I roll out. I drive and I see that the ramp towards the food places is closed along with some very heavily backed up traffic. I go the opposite way and find a Taco Bell. I get two crunchy tacos with beef and cheese, Pepsi, and chips/queso. $6.05
4 p.m. — Quitting time! Once I'm home, I strip my clothes off and decide to sit in bed. I heat up some leftovers from last night and munch on them while I wait for the lover boy to text me about meeting up tonight. I had asked him to spend more time together and invited him to grab a drink.
5 p.m. — He finally texts me and asks if it is okay to bring a friend. I say of course and invite a friend real quick. We decide to meet up at a nearby restaurant. Lover boy and I are working on our friendship relationship, so having a group thing is perfect.
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I arrive and my lover boy/his friend have snagged a table. We order drinks while we wait for my friend. The rest of the night we talk and drink. I have four beers. I sit and have a realization that my life has completely changed. I'm in a brand new state with new friends and a new job. The way we can change our lives is incredible. $25
8:30 p.m. — Back home, I quickly rinse off my body and hop into bed. Trying to encourage the cat to join me so I can snuggle with him. I send thank you texts to my friend for joining me tonight. Then I toss/turn for the rest of the night.
Daily Total: $31.05

Day Four

6:05 a.m. — I'm up and I've got ten minutes to do everything. I quickly pack my lunch, make breakfast, and get dressed I'm out the door by 6:25.
8:30 a.m. — The usual routine of breakfast, diapers, walk.
11 a.m. — My coworker comes and asks if I want lunch right now. Heck yes!! Get me out of here. I feel so tired and my body hurts. I eat the same thing as Tuesday and scroll through social media the rest of the time.
4 p.m. — The rest of the afternoon goes by quickly. On my drive home, I decide to get some ice cream. I get a scoop of vanilla and cookie dough with a waffle cone then head home. $2.15
Advertisement
5 p.m. — I heat up some potstickers for dinner. I debate working out but decide to give myself a night to relax after being extremely socially active the past couple of nights. I decide to get Hulu — the first month is free and then I'll pay $5.99 a month. I settle down to watch Beauty and the Baker.
7 p.m. — I quickly clean the bathtub with some bleach then fill it up with hot water and lavender epsom salt. I put on a charcoal face mask by The Ordinary then hop into the tub. Mmmm so nice. I get out after half an hour and watch more TV.

9:30 p.m. — Time to hit the hay! I brush teeth, put on some moisturizer from Drunk Elephant (sample) and roll some essential oils onto my pillow. I toss and turn most of the night.

Daily Total: $2.15

Day Five

6 a.m. — UGH. I do the morning routine and keep stepping on my cat who is following me around. I feel bad but move little man!!
8:30 a.m. — It's Friday! I take the kids out for a stroller ride, do some free art letting them get messy, and then immediately take them outside to hose them down/play.
10:30 a.m. — I wrap the kids up in towels and roll inside. They look so cute sitting in their towels. Sadly, I got wet in the process, so my boss brings me an extra shirt. I get the bubble machine out and let them play in the tunnel.
Advertisement
10:45 a.m. — Time for lunch. The higher-ups bring in sandwiches with chips and cookies. I had no idea or else I wouldn't have taken the extra time to pack lunch. Apparently they announced it yesterday, but I'm guessing my kids were screaming during that time.
12 p.m. — Back in the room the kids are asleep. I sit and contemplate if I should plan something for Memorial Day. The idea of not working next week gives me anxiety and spending time with others will help. However, I'm tired of being the one having to suggest and plan things. These are new friends and it's weird to build a new dynamic with people especially in quarantine.
4 p.m. — Quitting time and I want Whataburger! I go through the drive-through and get a patty melt, onion rings, and large coke. $10

4:30 p.m. — Go home eat the burger. I start watching The Great and I'm very entertained. I'm fast asleep by 9:30.

Daily Total: $10

Day Six

10 a.m. — I wake up. Finally some good sleep! I'm so happy. I make eggs, bacon, and biscuits. I make some coffee and settle into the couch to keep watching the great. I then discover Sweet Magnolias on Netflix. It's like a Hallmark show and I love it so much.
12 p.m. — I decide to head to Walmart to get some stuff. Ugh, people are so ridiculous!! I know I have a face mask on, but that doesn't mean you stand right next to me. A man in a scooter also runs into me. I run through the store, not even getting everything on my list. I get two nail polishes, cat litter, cat food, paper plates, cups, watermelon, toothpaste, bottled water. While loading stuff into my trunk I realize I already had cat litter so there wasn't even a need to come to Walmart. $58.60
Advertisement
12:30 p.m. — I put away the groceries and start cleaning. I text people and decide to plan a beach-themed game night for Sunday night. We'll see who shows up. I start looking up tropical drink ideas.
3 p.m. — I Facetime my family for my sister's birthday. She opens up the packages I sent weeks ago. I made sure to order lots of stuff so she had multiple things to open. I miss my family a lot, but I can't visit them since I can't afford to take two weeks of no pay to quarantine after travel.
5 p.m. — Liquor stores aren't open on Sundays so I drive to the local liquor store and get vodka, lemonade, and curacao. My friend texts me asking if I wanna come over for a movie night. It feels nice that somebody is asking me to come over. $39.40
7:30 p.m. — I stop and pick up some Little Caesar's pizza. At my friend's place, we crack open the wine and watch Hustlers. The movie is pretty good. Afterward, we watch the show Selling Sunset. I leave by 12 and pass out as soon as I get home. $7.49
Daily Total: $105.49

Day Seven

5 a.m. — Wake up with a headache. I take two migraine pills.
9 a.m. — My head still hurts so I take more meds. I realize that I'm out of my migraine meds and it needs doctor authorization. Shoot, I should have filled it sooner. I make a bagel and chug water.
Advertisement
11 a.m. — I try taking a quick nap and wake up semi feeling better. I head to the Dollar Tree. I get some beach-themed decorations including fun cups and some candy for myself ($16). I head to Walgreens to pick up my birth control and then through the McDonalds drive-thru for a cheeseburger, fries, and large Coke for the headache ($4.09). $20.09
1 p.m. — I scarf the food down at home and watch TV for a while. I decide to pay $400 toward my student loans. Lawd this makes me nervous!! Then I take a nap. $400
4 p.m. — I get up and shower. Heaven sent. I reheat some ravioli and eat on the couch. After eating, I start to do some minor cleaning. I bake brownies and carve out the innards of the watermelon. I wash the cups and tape up the decorations.
8 p.m. — Everybody arrives, they love my decorations. Let the games begin! Alcohol is flowing, I make blue lagoons for everybody and we play UNO and dominos. We are giggling like crazy. My boy toy and his brother end up coming over around 11.
2:30 a.m. — Holy smokes, time flies. I grab my boy toy, kiss him, and ask him to stay over. He says okay and we say goodbye to everybody. We end the evening with a little bit of fun.
Daily Total: $420.09
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series