A Week In New Orleans, LA, On A $65,000 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.

Today: a Speech Language Pathologist who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a to-go margarita.

Occupation: Speech Language Pathologist
Industry: Education
Age: 27
Location: New Orleans, LA
Salary: $65,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/week Schools and Supervision, 2x/week Early Intervention and PRN): ~$1,100-$1,400, ~$500-$1,000, ~$500
Gender Identity: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 (I live alone)
Student Loans: $180 (from grad school)
Internet: $107
Energy: ~$50-$70
Health, Vision, Dental Insurance: $400
Teletherapy: $75-$150 (1-2 sessions per month)
Classpass: $39
Planet Fitness: $25 (partially expensed when my mom remembers to send me the money, but I don’t press her for it… I probably should since I’m paying for Classpass).
Apple Music: $9.99
Netflix & Amazon Prime: $0 (I use my parents’ accounts)
Savings: I save 30% of my paychecks for estimated taxes. I have $10,000 in an AmEx HYSA, $10,000 in my banking savings account for taxes, $4,500 in a Vanguard brokerage account that I contribute $200 a month to, $1,500 in my Roth IRA (I hope to max it out this year, my savings priorities were out the window last year, as I attended five weddings), $800 in a digit account set up for my maid of honor duties (wedding is in May!).

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up late after hitting snooze three times. I generally have the same morning routine, hit snooze, text my clients’ parents to confirm sessions for the day, read a devotional, turn on the latest episode of The Daily, and hop in the shower. I primarily work with kids that are 0-3 years old, so I stick with wearing scrubs and I don’t wear makeup at all. I slick my hair down into a bun and do my morning skincare routine: brush my teeth, wash my face with Boscia charcoal face wash, tone with witch hazel, apply Laneige moisturizer, and Supergoop! SPF 40. I fill in my eyebrows when I feel like it. I’m running late so I go downstairs to make a quick lunch: turkey sandwich, baby carrots, and two blood oranges. I put them in a lunch bag and head out the door.

8:30 a.m. — Although I got dressed for work, today is my first of three days this month performing my civic duty for the wonderful Orleans Parish doing…dun dun dun… JURY DUTY. While my inner crime junkie is jumping for joy, the 1099 in me is screaming. When I don’t work, I don’t get paid — and the last thing I want to do is spend an entire day not working. I also wonder to myself if I should have dressed cuter in case I run into a cute attorney, but as of late, I have a very “take me as I am” approach to dating — like it or leave it.

9:45 a.m. — A judge comes down and gives everyone in the jury selection room a pep talk and says he hopes to get us out by 2 p.m. I was hoping to work today but that is looking unlikely. I text all of the parents of my afternoon clients and reschedule for another day, sigh.

10 a.m. — I’m turning into a popsicle so I walk to find the free coffee. I’m pointed in the direction of the café where I order a coffee and my total is $1.50… that’s not free but it’s $1.50 so I leave it alone. As I walk back, I see the room… with the free coffee. How did I miss that? $1.50

11:30 a.m. — I spend my morning completing a whopping 30 monthly treatment reports and emailing them out. Maybe jury duty isn’t so bad after all, as I would have hated to do this in my actual free time. I’ve been texting my friends all morning and catch up on the responses.

11:45 a.m. — Everyone has been watching the docket clock all morning. Suddenly, it goes from 8 to 2! The excitement is short-lived, as the receptionist lets us know that the judge has ordered FIFTY people to go upstairs. Naturally, everyone erupts in an uproar and I can’t help but laugh — people are MAD.

11:50 a.m. — I am not one of the 50, but one of the 15 who is called to go to lunch and return in an hour… the joke is on me. I walk to my car and talk to my mom on the phone for a little while I eat my lunch. She has to go back to work, so I turn on the newest episode of Crime Junkies, how fitting.

1 p.m. — I’m back from lunch and the receptionist has no updates for us, we are just told to sit and wait. I send a few emails out — one to my mentor from one of my clinical rotations in grad school, one to the caterer for my best friend’s bridal shower, and one my accountant. I am nowhere near ready to do my taxes on my own, so I let him know that I have all the documents I need to file. I have $10,000 set aside for taxes. Perhaps I’m overly prepared, but last year I owed significantly more than anticipated and I cannot have that happen again. I’m not sure how much I’ll end up owing but whatever is leftover is going to go in my Roth IRA and toward my credit card bill — more on that later.

5 p.m. — A couple of chapters into Girl, Woman. We are sent home for the day and told to report back for our next jury duty date. What a waste. I’m having flashbacks from this summer, it was really slow work-wise and I didn’t make nearly as much money as I thought I would, so I hate wasting billable hours. Blasted 1099.

5:30 p.m. — I get home and heat up the dinner I made last night: TJs shawarma chicken, rice, broccoli, and sautéed onion. I text my therapist and ask to reschedule my teletherapy session for next week. I’m no stranger to therapy, but I recently started going again this summer after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was a mess, I’m talking having a breakdown in the parking lot at Paul Mitchell after a stylist didn’t do my hair the way I liked kind of mess. Thankfully, my mom is now cancer-free, and therapy has given me the opportunity to grow and tackle other issues. I turn on old episodes of Kitchen Nightmares to cheer myself up. I can’t get enough of Gordon Ramsay and know that he will make me laugh my irritation away.

9 p.m. — I’m absolutely exhausted and go upstairs for my nightly routine. I rarely get pimples but my last cycle, I got four in the shape of a square on my cheek, which left dark spots — wtf. I shower and do my nightly routine: wash my face with the Boscia charcoal cleanser, tone with witch hazel, and apply castor oil to my eyebrows, as I had a threading mishap that I am currently trying to rectify. I was using GrandeBrow, but it’s $70 for a tube and I cannot make that make sense financially. Finally, I put on four Peace Out microneedling dots (they are not cheap but I have to do what I have to do), and awkwardly apply Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Facial around the dots and head to bed.

10:45 p.m. — I can’t sleep so I open my computer and create bridal shower games on Microsoft Word. Why would I pay $5 for editable templates when I can make them myself for free? I turn on my oil diffuser and fall asleep an hour later.

Daily Total: $1.50

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I open my phone and read a devotional about comparison. Last year, I had five close friends get married, and while it was amazing, it was more of an emotional doozy than I anticipated. My therapist told me that I need to take the suffering out of being single and that really resonated with me, so I am choosing devotionals to ground myself and reaffirm that I am enough.

7 a.m. — I finish my devotional, text all of my clients’ parents for today to remind them of their sessions and turn on The Daily. I am a podcast girl. I was looking for a news notification on the Iowa Caucus results and they are not here — yikes. I do my daily morning routine, put my hair in a high bun, throw on some scrubs, and head out the door with just a banana. I’m going to be late!

10:15 a.m. — So far I’ve gone to two house visits. On my way to the third visit, they cancel. Luckily, I am down the street from a daycare and I run in to see another baby before they have lunch. Flexibility!

1:45 p.m. — I’ve seen five babies back to back. I drive a lot for work, but I log my miles and deduct them on my taxes. I used to be unbothered but I’m starting to get tired of driving. I have 15 minutes until my next round of sessions and I run into Walmart to get paper towels, tissue, tweezers, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. $20

3:45 p.m. — One more session left! I’m hungry, so I stop at Wendy’s to get their spicy chicken nuggets. Why are these things so good? Thank you Chance the Rapper for getting Wendy’s to bring them back. I eat while I drive to my last baby’s house. $2.20

5 p.m. — I’m done for the day! My stomach is rumbling and I am already regretting the nuggets. I drive across town to a cycling studio for my weekly class. I pay for parking $4.35 for one hour… that seems excessive and I’m almost certain they don’t check parking on that street in the middle of rush hour but I’d rather not take my chances and get a ticket. $4.35

7:30 p.m. — I’m home from cycling and eat some ravioli and broccoli — sad dinner but I’m trying not to eat out as much. An hour later, it dawns on me that I need to wash, deep condition, and blow dry my hair for my hair appointment tomorrow after work. I’m a couple of episodes behind on one of my favorite podcasts, The Read, so I turn a random one on and get in the shower. I put on a Sephora clay mask while I blow dry my hair, multitasking at it’s finest.

10 p.m. — I’m finished with my hair and I realize that I have an evaluation report due tomorrow. Why am I coming to all these realizations so late? I’ve been doing a lot of evaluations lately so it’s normally not time-consuming but I’ve had a busy day. I turn on Broad City and start my report.

12:30 a.m. — I finally finish and go upstairs to bed. I add lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus oil to a diffuser. I scroll through my emails and track my online shopping order for a dress that I placed earlier this week. Does anyone else obsessively check their package delivery updates or is that just me? I don’t fall asleep for another hour.

Daily Total: $26.55

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — I went overboard on the snooze button today. I have 20 minutes to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get out the door. I scarf down a waffle and meatless sausage patty, take allergy medicine, fill up my Yeti, and quite literally run out the door. On mornings like this, I’m grateful to wear scrubs.

11 a.m. — I am leaving my third daycare for today! I need a coffee the size of my head but I don’t have the time because I have to go across town to complete a language evaluation.

12:20 p.m. — Evaluation complete, but no coffee. I have ten minutes to get to another school for supervision. My boss recently gave me quite a bit more responsibility supervising one SLP-A and two Clinical Fellows. When I grow up (haha), I would love to be a professor, so being tasked with supervision is a step in the right direction. I make it just in time.

1:15 p.m. — Just as I’m getting ready to walk out the door, the sky opens up. I’m talking torrential rain and hail. I stare out the window longing for an undamaged car and lunch. I check the weather radar and plan my exit. When I am hungry, I am unstoppable.

1:30 p.m. — In my hangry haze, I completely forget about the original coffee shop I wanted to go to and find myself in the Starbucks drive-thru… Did anyone know they sell grilled cheese? I’ve noticed they’ve been sold out everywhere and surprisingly, I get the last one. It’s decent but not my first meal choice and also makes my stomach start to rumble. I vow to have today be the last day I don’t pack my lunch this week. I also get a small coffee to drink later. $9.59

4 p.m. — I’m finished with work but still have to make it across town to get my hair braided. I’ve been looking forward to this appointment for a week, as I am extremely unmotivated when it comes to doing my hair. I’ve worn my hair in a bun all week and I’ve had a number of babies point to me in confusion and yell LOOK! HAIR! I don’t mind because they’re using their words, despite it being at my expense.

4:15 p.m. — I have a few minutes to spare so I stop at Target and get string cheese, a Naked smoothie, pretzel chips, and a bottle of water. $6

8 p.m. — I’m home! I put salmon and broccoli in the oven and shower while it cooks. I heat up veggie fried rice and make a salmon fried rice hodgepodge. My best friend who knows little to nothing about Harry Potter FaceTimes me to let me know that she is in Hufflepuff. I am beside myself with laughter and humor her by taking a sorting hat quiz with her on Pottermore. Of course, I am Ravenclaw (I’ve known this from day one).

9:30 p.m. — I turn on my Apple TV and scroll through the HBO App. I love what Richard Price did with The Night Of and am considering rewatching but I realized I’m an episode behind his most recent HBO show, The Outsider. I put my phone on DND and watch it, and fall asleep shortly after it ends.

Daily Total: $15.59

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up on my second alarm and turn on today’s episode of The Daily and complete my morning routine, but today, I fill in my eyebrows. I go downstairs and make a lunch of a turkey sandwich with hummus, red bell peppers, and spinach. I get ready to head out the door and check my phone to see that three sessions have canceled — yikes. We’ll see how today goes.

1 p.m. — I manage to see all my morning appointments, and my schedule is officially clear. Once again, cries in 1099. I have a half marathon on Sunday that I don’t feel prepared for so I head to the gym and run five miles on treadmill since it’s been storming all day.

2:30 p.m. — As I’m driving to my last daycare, a small rock flies out of the back of a dump truck and cracks my windshield. In the past four months, I’ve had to patch two tires and replace another, as the roads in New Orleans are egregious. The thought of repairing my windshield literally makes my head spin. I turn off my radio and drive in silence.

3:45 p.m. — I’m home for the day and it feels weird as I normally work until 6. I turn on the most recent episode of Monster: DC Sniper and heat up some leftover salmon and broccoli from last night because I’m getting hangry and I need a snack. I send a picture of my windshield to my dad and take a shower. I decide to fill in my eyebrows since I will be in the presence of adults and put on my favorite pair of mom jeans, a flannel, Vans, and a teddy jacket. I look in the mirror and ask myself if I’m dressing my age. Regardless of the answer, I head out the door!

4:45 p.m. — I rarely make happy hours since I work late so I’m happy to get some time to catch up with my friends. We split edamame, pineapple fried rice, and calamari amongst the table. My sushi palate is still pretty unadventurous so I order a shrimp/avocado/cucumber roll and two Cosmos. We wrap up a couple of hours later, I barely sipped on my second Cosmo so I got it in a to-go cup to finish at home, gotta love New Orleans. $18.94

8:30 p.m. — Last year I kissed a lot of frogs so I’ve recently taken a hard stop on dating but in a moment of weakness, I text a guy I briefly dated, S. He comes over with a bottle of wine and we sit on my couch and watch Broad City. To my surprise, he really enjoys the show, not like he had much of a choice because I am a remote hog and this is my house!

11 p.m. — We head upstairs and turn on McMillions, and I am asleep by 1.

Daily Total: $18.94

Day Five

6 a.m. — I don’t know why, but I set an alarm for 6 a.m. today. It wakes S. and I up and he uses the opportunity to ask me if I have Valentine’s Day plans. I am sleepy and confused. Also, one of my best friends is my Galentine this year and I will not leave her hanging! I gently let him know I need more sleep and roll back over.

7:15 a.m. — I wake back up and text the parents to confirm my sessions for today. I forgo listening to today’s episode of The Daily and listen to Paramore instead and proceed with my normal routine. I take my allergy medicine, multivitamins, and put a banana and orange in my bag and head out without a packed lunch — so much for my resolution earlier this week.

10:15 a.m. — I have a short break and stop for a coffee. New Orleans has so many amazing coffee shops. Just as I’m paying for my coffee, I see a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit that is calling my name. I eat half of it in my car and drive to my next set of sessions. $7.66

3 p.m. — Today has been crazy. I’ve had to rearrange my schedule and haven’t had the chance to eat. I run into Whole Foods and to my dismay, the hot bar is completely ravaged over. I get the only thing that looks fresh — a slice of pizza with pesto, goat cheese, and red peppers. It looks great, but it’s $4 for a slice — that is not normal! I eat it on the way to my next session. $4.66

4:30 p.m. — I end up spending almost 25 minutes talking to a caregiver when my session ends. Coincidentally, she had jury duty this month too! I look at my watch and see that I’m going to be late for my last session so I text the parents and let them know that I’m running behind and head out.

5:45 p.m. — I’m done for the day and contemplate going to the gym but I don’t have the energy. I decide to go home and unwind. I pour a glass of wine and rummage through my fridge to find something to eat. I feel uninspired and still full from my pizza, so I eat chips and TJ’s cowboy caviar. I send my friend the $50 I owe for the hairdresser that will do our hair for her wedding. $50

7 p.m. — I turn on the Democratic Debate and watch the first hour. I am actively trying to find the balance between being informed and being depleted. I decide that I will catch the highlights that I am assuming The Daily will cover and change to last week’s episode of Life after Lockup, and update my weekly timesheet to send in the morning. I also edit some of my Money Diary and realize I have a bad habit of rushing in the morning… one day I will be better.

8:45 p.m. — My best friend FaceTimes me and asks if I’m willing to learn TikTok dances with her — what? I decline to participate but we talk for a few minutes before hanging up — she keeps me on my toes. I pour myself another glass of wine. This is barrel-aged, very interesting.

10 p.m. — Today is payday, and I transfer 40% into the savings account I use strictly to save tax money. I generally have money leftover once I pay my quarterly taxes and that used to go in my Amex HYSA but now that I’ve opened up accounts with Vanguard, they’ll be going in there. I am normally not good at saving so my younger sister has graciously walked me through brokerage with Vanguard. I basically do as I’m told. Baby steps…

10:30 p.m. — I shower and put on my Peace Out microneedling dots and awkwardly apply a sleeping mask on my face. I scroll on Amazon and add things to my cart to send to my friend for Galentine’s Day. $21

11:45 p.m. — I’m still relatively awake so I get on Kanopy and decide on Seoul Station. I fluff my pillows and position my weighted blanket accordingly, and nuzzle in my bed. I fall asleep 15 minutes into the movie. Sigh.

Daily Total: $83.32

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up because of the sun beaming through my window, it’s a beautiful morning! I decide to drive to the park to get some fresh air and I walk/run four miles. If you can’t tell by now, I love coffee. I go to a local coffee shop when I’m finished and get a 20oz iced coffee. $4.55

9:45 a.m. — I quickly shower, throw on some jeans and a sweatshirt, and head out the door. I’ll work on the weekends if I’m in the mood. I was planning on staying home all day, but a client I work with asked for a makeup session so I oblige. My gas light turns on and I drive to Costco to fill up my tank before heading to work. $20.01

3 p.m. — I saw four kids today and I’m tired! I go to Walmart to pick up two pairs of sandals and some leave-in conditioner. $15.38

5 p.m. — My best friend picks me up for a pasta dinner with our running group. Our half-marathon is tomorrow and I’m nervous, as I’m not as prepared as I was last year. I eat a full plate of spaghetti and leave feeling optimistic.

8 p.m. — I quickly run to the corner store and buy two Gatorades and a water bottle to drink tonight. $6.29

10 p.m. — I get in bed and make two playlists for tomorrow! I don’t really know what music mood I’ll be in so my playlists are all over the place but I’m not too worried about it. I put my headphones and Apple Watch on the charger and set three alarms for the morning. I fall asleep in 30 minutes.

Daily Total: $46.23

Day Seven

5:15 a.m. — I wake up to my second alarm. I put on my running clothes, pin my bib on my shirt, and go downstairs. I eat a waffle and drink half a Gatorade. I text my friends who are running in the morning to make sure everyone is awake and getting ready!

6:30 a.m. — My best friend’s boyfriend drops us off at the start point. My nerves are so bad. The other half of my Gatorade spilled on my headphones, and the last thing I want to do is run 13.1 miles with no music. I keep checking to make sure they power on — thankfully they do!

8 a.m. — The race begins! I’m already thinking about if my toenails will survive, and what I’ll eat for lunch. I’m taking mental notes of all the restaurants I run by that I haven’t tried yet. I run past my cycling instructor, friends, and a bunch of random strangers handing out donuts and beers. The energy is electric.

10:30 a.m. — Another half-marathon under my belt! A friend and I ran next to each other the entire time and I’m glad she was there to cheer me on and hold me accountable. Around mile seven I was considering taking a detour and running home! My legs are killing me, so I have a banana and Gatorade, and we wait for our other friends to cross the finish line.

11:30 a.m. — I get home and take the longest shower of my life. I hate it when I get really hungry because it’s so hard for me to make a decision on what to eat. I decide to take a nap and revisit later.

2:45 p.m. — I’m awake and hungry. I drive to a Mexican restaurant and order a margarita and chips and queso to eat while my burrito is being prepared. I end up sitting at the bar for 20 minutes watching Twilight — horrified that teenage me was so into this series. Once my burrito comes, I pack up my chips and queso and put my margarita in a to-go cup and waddle back home. $30

6 p.m. — I’m awake from nap #2 and decide to go to the grocery store. I have no food inspiration and hate when I grocery shop with no intention because I always end up getting random food that I don’t eat. I pick up marinara sauce, ground beef, plums, a bottle of wine, salad, rice, broccoli, and some other random things. I’m still not properly functioning so my cart doesn’t make sense to me. I will regret this later. $54.68

7:45 p.m. — I’m in the middle of cooking when my salt mill breaks over my pan and onto my floor. I probably shouldn’t be cooking anyway and take this as a sign to wrap things up. I go into my fridge for my Gatorade, turn on the rest of The Pharmacist, and set my alarm for tomorrow.

Daily Total: $84.68

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