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I am 34 years old, I make between $50K (down from $50-65K)
and live in Buffalo and work in higher education and retail.
This is another update from previous MDs in June 2019, October 2019, and February 2020.
TL:DR I’m making progress towards debt, have no social life, and get to spend more time with my dog. Section One: Assets and Debt Retirement Balance
(and how you got there): $26,300 (up from $23,800 in February)
This is a combo of Stash Retire, 401K from a previous job, retirement accounts from my current job, and TSP from a previous job. Savings account balance
No dedicated contributions, a slight decrease here, as I did purchase some at-home gym equipment when the pandemic started. I still maintain my $1000 emergency fund. Checking account balance: $1774.74 (at the beginning of the MD, just got paid) Credit card debt
(and how you accumulated it): $7,879.21 (down from $10,965 in February, $17,232 in Oct and $19,556 in June)
. Student loan debt
(for what degree): Current remaining balance is $9191.53 (down from $14,789.92 in February, $19,885.37 in October and $23,645.37 in June)
(combined loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Relations. To give you an idea of how much I’ve paid off - I’ve paid $109,982.42 off up to this point).
*note: I received $2k from my parents and my $1200 stimulus check in April - this all went to debt payoff. My parents have told me and my siblings that they wish they could have helped more when we were all going to school, and are now in a financial position where they are able to help us. I cannot express how much this has meant to me and I legit cried when they gave me the check. Section Two: Income Main Job Monthly Take Home: $2422.64
I owed in taxes this year (grrrr), so I adjusted my withholdings to take extra out of my largest paycheck, which leaves me with $1211.32/paycheck - paid every 2 weeks. Side Gig #1 Monthly Take Home
: $0 My previous side gig #1 - OTF - laid us off in March. Due to COVID, I am not comfortable going back to coach in an indoor fitness environment, so I won’t be returning (even when gyms are allowed to reopen indoors in NY) Side Gig #2 Monthly Take Home: ~$500/month My retail job has been amazing - they instituted pay protection for nearly 4 months, paying us an average of our previous hours worked, while having us do virtual training most weeks. My store is located in a mall, which just opened a couple of weeks ago in NY, and pay protection will end at the start of August, and we’ll go back to pay for actual hours worked. While this wasn’t absolutely necessary to my financial wellbeing during this time, it has allowed me to still make progress on my debt repayment. Any Other Monthly Income Here
*I also will occasionally do Swagbucks surveys and Ibotta cash back on groceries. (Side note: while earlier in the year, I was hoping to be able to go full-time fitness/retail, the pandemic has definitely made me reexamine my goals - having a steady source of fairly reliable income without have to work 70+ hour weeks has actually been ok.) Section Three: Expenses Rent / Mortgage $980.00/month
(+ $3.95 service charge when I pay online) - this includes all utilities (I resigned my lease for another year at the beginning of July, with only a small rent increase).. Retirement contribution
Roth IRA from work + $80.00/month
into Stash Retire (Roth IRA is currently $1753.53 up from $993.40 in February & Stash is currently $1132, up from $167.82 in June 2019). My full time job also contributes 7% (just straight contribution from them, not a match, into a separate account) Savings contribution: $0/month
(Debt payments are the priority) Investment contribution: None Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: $70.50/month
(Through work, it gets taken out biweekly) Debt payments
Student Loan minimums: $110.63 is strictly the minimum for my 2 remaining student loans, but I’ve been absolutely attacking these, and am able to usually put another $400-600 on the lowest loan per month.
Credit Card minimums: ~$225 (I’m actually paid ahead on the minimums for this one, but still want to keep roughly 2x the monthly interest in payments so that I can continue to make progress until the loans are done, then it’s full steam ahead on this) Wifi/Cable/Landline
: $64.99/month Cellphone:
Still on the parental plan Subscriptions:
Apple storage - $2.99/month
; Netflix- $8.99
;Barkbox - $31.54
(even though I’ve been able to be at home much much more, we still get a monthly barkbox for the toys; Spotify Premium - $9.99/month
. I had signed up for a Winc monthly wine box, but I haven’t been drinking, so the wine tends to give me a huge headache after only a glass, and it’s not worth it, so I cancelled. I also cancelled my Starz subscription after the Outlander season ended. I use my parents’ Amazon Prime account, and my sister’s Disney+. Laundry
(if you pay per load): $40/month
. I put aside $10 per paycheck. Gym membership $25/month
- I budget this much for my ROMWOD and Movement Vault monthly subscriptions. My retail side gig also provides $113/month
to work out, so that goes towards the programming for my local crossfit gym. I purchased a barbell, weight plates, a kettlebell and a rower during quarantine, so I’m set now! Pet expenses
: $100/month -
includes pet insurance. This is what I put into my budget for insurance, food, grooming etc.) Car payment / insurance / average gas:
I budget approximately $100/month
. With working from home, I budget $25 out of each paycheck for gas, which gets me just about a full tank and that lasts me just over a week. Renter insurance: $12.50/month Average groceries / household supply spend
; My grocery budget is about $500/month
- approximately $100+/week. I have been spending a bit more on my “big” paycheck weeks since I’m at home more. Regular therapy:
I currently use Headspace for both meditation and sleep help - 12.99/month
. (Still haven’t got around to finding a regular therapist, but Headspace is still a standard!) Charitable Giving:
Unfortunately I’m not in the position to regularly give, but I do try to give to my alma mater during their Day of Giving. I can’t wait until I’m in a financial place to be able to regularly give. Annual Expenses: YNAB (You Need A Budget)
Day 1: Thursday
6:15am: Wake up and take the dog out. Once back inside, I feed him his breakfast, make a french press of coffee, and get the oven ready for this morning’s sourdough bake. Today I’m making four smaller loaves for a friend to use as bread bowls for homemade soup. After breaking a dish trying to make a steam dish (steam = amazing crust!), I get the loaves going and the apartment smells wonderful. I put on GBBO in the background and open You Need A Budget, so that I can budget out today’s paycheck.
8:00am: I mix the autolyse for the next batch of sourdough (adding flour and water to the leaven that I mixed last night) and leave that for at least four hours. COVID/working from home has been both a challenge and something that I’ve honestly enjoyed a little - I’ve been baking up an absolute storm. So much so, that a friend and I have been doing bake sales to raise money for local non-profits. It’s been really awesome and I feel like I’m actively doing something to help the world. Then I sign into my work computer, and complete morning tasks.
10:00am: Thursdays are my “day out” - I go onto campus once per week to check the mail and deposit any checks for my department that come in. I bundle my errands together with this weekly trip. First stop is Aldi ($77.86
) for general groceries and baking supplies, then pickup a pastry brush and mouthwash in a drive up order at Target that I placed yesterday ($13.68
). Final grocery stop is Trader Joe’s ($80.00
) where I go a bit overboard in buying frozen items - at least this is my bigger paycheck week,right? I also get a bunch of cut flowers - the gladiolas are in season! - a basil plant, and a mint plant. I stop on campus and head back home around noon.
12:30pm: Home, pooch out, flatbread in the oven for lunch (Burrata, Arugula, and Prosciutto - yum). The afternoon consists of work - I’ve been really really lucky that I can do basically everything from home (I honestly feel like I’m more productive when I’m not tied to a desk) - and baking/prepping for this weekend’s bake sale, punctuated by dog snuggles and trips outside.
6:00pm: Dinner time - I put chicken in the oven and then have that sliced on tortillas with a southwestern salad kit to make up the taco fixings. My current Amazon Prime (that I mooch from the parents) binge is Endeavor - got to love a good British crime drama. That basically is the rest of the evening along with more bake sale prepping (today’s efforts were croissant prep, macaron baking and assembly, and a batch of sourdough).
10:30pm: Bed time routine consists of a final trip out for the dog, floss/brush/mouthwash, washing my face (currently using a tea tree oil face wash from Trader Joe’s), witch hazel, and the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Serum. I add a Headspace sleep sounds and set my alarm using Pillow. Exciting day right? Daily Total: $171.54
6:00am: Earlier wake up here - my car needs a few repairs for its inspection, so I’m swapping cars with my dad. Pooch out, coffee made, contacts in. I meet my dad at 7:30am and then take him back to my parents’ house. My mom makes me some breakfast and we hang out a little bit - she also gives me tissues and lets me have a much needed cry. It does feel a bit of a relief to express some of my anxieties to someone other than my dog :) I make another cup of coffee and head back to my apartment.
11:00am: Back home here for another trip outside with the dog and work. Throughout the afternoon I make a couple of tacos (same as yesterday’s dinner) and the last piece of my flatbread while I work and bake/prep. I mix up a couple batches of bagel dough, a batch of donut dough, and 2 separate batches of cream patisserie in between scheduling meetings and replying to emails. (I am SO happy that I have my stand mixer back).
6:00pm: I pull out my rower, turn on Last Chance U on Netflix (need some kind of a sports fix!), and knock out 14K (8k, 4k, 1k, 1k). With the extra time at home, I decided to actually go through a marathon row training plan - I was a rower in college, but have never rowed for that long, so mostly it’s getting my butt used to sitting on the rower again. The rower was easily one of my favorite quarantine purchases, especially as it was a friend who was selling it and gave me a sweeeeeet deal. I shower after and make dinner (TJ’s frozen indian for the win). The rest of the evening consists of Great British Baking Show in the background, stretching, and washing dishes. Bedtime is around 10pm after the usual bedtime routine. Daily Total: $0
Day 3: Saturday
6:30am: Awake, pooch out, coffee, shower, breakfast.
8:30am: I’m working a shift at the mall today, so I grab a couple of spindrifts and fill up the coffee and head in. It has not been easy for me to go back to having people in the store - I’m very thankful our manager has been really understanding of everyone’s comfort level and that we also limit the number of people within the store at any one time. Only a couple of snotty teenagecollege aged kids that roll their eyes when I tell them they need to actually wear their masks (CORRECTLY - LIKE OVER YOUR NOSE) in the store.
2:00pm: I’m done! Clock out, and basically power walk out of the mall - certainly not staying inside for any longer than absolutely necessary. My car is done already, so I drive up to my parents’ house again for the swap and happiest of surprises, my niece is hanging out with my mom! Yay! We get a quick little visit and I have a grilled ham & cheese sandwich, since I completely forgot to actually pack a lunch for work. Also happiest of surprises, when I offer to pay for the repairs/inspection, or at least split it with my parents, my dad waves me off. My parents are amazing and I fully recognize that. Cars swapped, and I head home to begin the baking marathon.
9:30pm: Nearly completely baking…..and my bagel dough is all wrong. Make an emergency double batch with fresh yeast, not sourdough, so I’ll get a quicker rise, but I’m still up boiling and baking until 1am. (At least they’re a success the 2nd time around!). I bag up and organize my baked goods so they’re ready for pickup tomorrow. I assume that I made dinner at some point here, but as I’m typing this a couple of days later, I have no idea….I set my alarm for 5am as I have 2 more loaves of bread to bake in the morning. Daily Total: $0
Day 4: Sunday
6:06am: I open my eyes...hmmm, it feels a bit lighter than I was expecting...OH NO MY PHONE DIDN’T CHARGE AND MY ALARM DIDN’T GO OFF. I’ll have JUST enough time to finish the bakes before our pickups are scheduled. Bread baked, coffee made (there’s not enough coffee today), quick shower and I’m to our pickup point, just a few minutes late.
10:00am: Most of our pickups are done and we raised almost $400 for a local non-profit! 2 of my orders weren’t able to make it, so I scoot home, grab more coffee, let the dog out, and head out to deliver them. One is my boss and he lives fairly close to my parents, so another stop at their place to drop off the extra baked goods (croissants, macarons, and donuts). My isolation bubble basically only includes my immediate family, although this is easily the most I’ve seen them. We did all decide to get regularly tested on a rotating basis (all negatives so far!) They live right on the lake, so just sitting outside is really helpful for relaxing. As much as I’d like to nap there, I know my apartment is an absolute mess after the baking, so I head back.
2:30pm: Home, pooch out, and make a late lunch of butternut squash ravioli, mushrooms, chicken sausage and pesto. I put a load of laundry in (still have money left on my laundry card!) and end up getting in an hour nap. Blissful. After my nap I get the whole apartment cleaned up, which luckily in the grand scheme of things doesn’t take too long as it’s not that big of a place. Dinner around 6:30pm, which is chicken over a curry salad mix from Trader Joe’s. I binge a few episodes of Selling Sunset on Netflix with a lush face mask and tea, take the dog out, and fall into bed around 9:30. Daily Total:$0.
Day 5: Monday
6:30am: Up after an actual, restful 8.5 hrs of sleep according to my Pillow app. Morning meditation, morning reading (currently on “White Fragility”), coffee, and podcasts hopefully get the day started off right. Breakfast is a scramble with eggs, spinach, mushrooms, chicken sausage, tomatoes and feta.
8:00am: Log into work and also call to try to rectify a medical bill I received that I have no idea what it was for. I finally talk to someone, they say it was for a COVID test a few weeks ago - I tell them that no, that was billed to my insurance, and I have the EOB. I send that off to the email address provided and hope that that’s settled. Also based on where I got the test and the criteria they provided, I shouldn’t have received a bill even if I didn’t have insurance. I might need more than one meditation today…. I check my bank account and see that the dog’s Barkbox subscription went through ($31.54 - accounted for in monthly subscriptions above).
10:00am: Take an early lunch hour and get in a workout since I have to work at the mall tonight. I pay for programming from my local crossfit box - that plus the purchase of home workout equipment has set me up pretty well! Being in Buffalo, it’s gonna eventually get cold out, so I want to be as prepared as possible for when workout out outdoors isn’t even an option. I have juuuust enough room in my apartment to use the rower and the barbell for the same workout. Shower, basic AM skin care (witch hazel toner, Ole Henrikson Truth Serum, and Neutrogena moisturizer with sunscreen), and comb my haicurl mousse. I haven’t been to a salon in probably almost a year, and am debating whether to try to get in before the inevitable next quarantine. Mostly I’d just like to even out the hair from my undercut/side shaves from a couple of years ago and try to find the best way to grow out gray, because if the pandemic taught me anything, I’m just going full witch hair and embracing the massive curls and the gray. Back to work with my snuggly co-pilot (aka I sit on the floor with the computer and he takes up the whole couch).
12:00pm: I heat up a Trader Joe’s Channa Masala and a parathi for lunch, and cook a TJ’s chicken quesadilla in the oven so that I can take it with me to work tonight to eat during my break. Work continues.
2:00pm: The 2nd half of a lululemon order arrives - I basically only order stuff on sale, so with my discount, it’s awesome. (I paid for this before the diary started, but my total was $40.85). I ordered a pair of On the Fly full length pants in gray, which I got Friday and a gray Swiftly Tech Racerback, which arrived today.. (a) I can’t believe these were both on markdown - sometimes it feels like only the funky colors are on sale, and (b) holy wow the pants are comfy.
4:00pm: Off to the mall for work
10:00pm: My car is running on fumes - happily I have $10 in cash in my wallet and make it to a gas station. ($10) Aaaand home. That quesadilla was definitely not an actual dinner, so I take the dog out, then make a quick dinner (butternut squash ravioli, pesto, mushrooms, chicken sausage) and watch an episode of Selling Sunset (and feel like a sloth seeing people with fancy clothes, makeup and heels lol). Bedtime routine, and then a quick ROMWOD stretch. Daily Total: $10.00
Day 6: Tuesday
6:30am: We’re up. Pooch out, coffee made, Headspace meditation done. Set a timer for 20 minutes and read more of “White Fragility.” After, I put on my morning podcasts (Up First, Post Reports, The Daily) and make oatmeal with protein powder, almond milk, strawberries and blueberries. I log into work at 8am and get going.
10:00am: Quick break for additional coffee, dog scratches,making the bed, and finally changing out of my pjs. (aka changing from bedtime leggings to daytime leggings). My most recent extra student loan payment also hit my account, so I update my loan payoff spreadsheet. ($100)
12:00pm: Lunchtime - a makeshift taco salad/bowl with quinoa, leftover salad mix, tomatoes, chicken, avocado, salsa and shredded cheese. Today’s rain showers mean a nice dull sinus headache (ugh), so I make tea (TJ’s watermelon mint!) and crack open another spindrift hoping to hydrate it out of me.
1:30pm: When I was making lunch, I saw that I had bananas that I had forgotten about …..banana bread it is! I mash up 4 of the bananas, and freeze the other for whenever the next batch occurs. I use a recipe from the Kitchn (https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-banana-bread-the-simplest-easiest-recipe-139900
). Working from home and having more time in general means that I can actually bake, which has been great. I mentioned before that a friend and I started doing bake sales to support local non-profits - we’ve had 4 and have raised nearly $2,500 in total!
2:45pm: My mom stops up after seeing my Grandma - we enjoy a little banana bread and take the dog out for a short walk. She heads out after about a half hour - slices of banana bread in tow :)
5:00pm: Done with work and onto the rower. 2 x 8000meter pieces today. I cue up previously watched episodes of Outlander and start rowing. Once I’m done, a quick shower to feel clean again and I start dinner: TJ’s cauliflower tempura, fried rice, and gyoza. YUM. I end up starting 2 documentaries on Netflix, ‘Tread’ (meh) and ‘Sour Grapes,’ which is more interesting, but I’m so pooped I end up falling asleep on the couch with the pooch. Wake up around 9:45pm, brush teeth, bedtime routine, and do a quick ROMWOD before falling asleep by 10:15pm. Daily Total: $100
Day 7: Wednesday
6:45am: Up. I’m working a mall shift at 9:30am, so taking a vacation day from my full time job (I have like 100 hrs because….where am I going to go??). Take the puppers out for his morning pee break and it’s a bit crisp outside this morning. Come throuuuuuugh fall. There is nothing I love more than a WNY fall, and although I know we still have August, it reminds me that it’s coming. Back inside for coffee, Headspace, and a morning Movement Vault to loosen up. I also play a quick round of the Starbucks Summer Game (you can get 2 plays per day, even without a purchase). I haven’t bought Starbucks in months, but if I happened to win a free drink that would be awesome ;) Breakfast is a smoothie with frozen berries, spinach, protein, peanut butter, and almond milk.
9:00am: Off to work - emergency stop at Rite Aid on the way because my period started yesterday and my cramps are excruciating. I picked up the store version of Pamprin and pop 2 before I even get back in the car ($5.49).
12:00pm: (or around then) I eat my lunch (leftover tempura cauliflower and chicken over leftover curry salad mix - hurray for the day before grocery shopping) on my 10 minute break at work.
3:30pm: Home and take out the dog, who has basically just been sleeping all day. I debate whether I want to work out and lift, but still feeling kinda crampy, so I decide I’ll just stretch later. I make a grocery list for tomorrow. - planning on making Corn Chowder, Vegetarian Chili, Sweet Potato and Black Bean tacos, Mango and Chickpea Curry and homemade pizza. Unintentionally veggie heavy, but it’s the lower paycheck week coming up and I do still have a lot of frozen Trader Joe’s stuff. I also Facetime my mom.
5:30pm: Dinner is more leftover tempura cauliflower, a piece of salmon, and a carrot/cauliflowebroccoli veggie mix with TJ’s gyoza dipping sauce. I fancy it up with TJ’s sparkling watermelon juice - over ice in a wine glass. I put on more Selling Sunset (completely guilty pleasure show) and put in my Target pickup order for tomorrow. I order hair mousse, parchment paper, melatonin gummies, chili powder, granola, tampons, KIND bars, curry powder, and cumin (which gets cancelled - boo) ($31.96). I also get a text from my grandmother’s companion care worker asking if she could order 3 tarts and 6 croissants (she tried a tart I made and loved it, so she wanted to order for a family visit in a couple of weeks). Woohoo! I make sure to mark the baking dates and confirm.
7:30pm: I hit a ROMWOD routine, check out my YNAB budget and generally settle in for the evening. Daily Total: $37.45 Total Spending: $318.99
Reflection: Even though my overall income has gone down, I do feel like not working 60, 70 hour weeks has been honestly healthier. I’m still really focused on debt payoff, and realizing that in June of last year I had over $43,000 in debt, and I’m now under $17,000 is kind of amazing. I am mildly bummed that I’m not going to hit #debtfree2020. But I’m going to keep on hitting it hard and staying on track. Once I’m debt free, then it’s onto saving at least a 3 month full emergency fund! THEN I can start saving for a down payment. Which totally means I’ve already started looking on Zillow :)
With COVID, I’ve clearly been erring on the cautionary side. I’ve barely seen friends, and my bubble, apart from working at the mall - which I speed walk in and speed walk out - is basically my family. Maybe the upside is I get to spend more time with the dog? (he’s curled up snoring next to me as I type). And I’m thankful to still have a job that I can do remotely. Hopefully with my next update, I’ll have even more debt paid off!