A Week In Denver, CO, On An $85,000 Salary

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Today: a policy analyst working in insurance who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on poke.

Occupation: Policy Analyst
Industry: Insurance
Age: 30
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $85,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,196.80

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 for my half. (My husband and I split our $1,600 rent.)
Student Loan Payment: $600
Car Payment: $185 (my half of the $370 monthly payment)
Joint Savings: $262.50 (This money goes towards vacations, car maintenance, and doggie daycare.)
Personal Savings: $75
401(k): 10% of my salary at $326.92 per paycheck
HSA: $40 from each paycheck
Bootcamp Classes: $69 for four classes
Spotify: $10.75 (canceled after this month)
ClassPass: $30 (also canceled after this month)
Avatar Nutrition: $9.99

Joint Monthly Expenses(My husband and I split joint expenses 50/50, so below is my half for each expense.)
HBO Now: $7.77
Netflix: $5.95
Internet: $33.48
Electricity: $10-$20
Car/Renters/Personal Property Insurance: $54.46 (The personal property insurance is for my engagement ring.)
Health/Dental/Vision/Life Insurance: $35.08

Day One

8 a.m. — I eat a frittata with Sriracha that I brought from home for breakfast . I try to bulk prep breakfast for the week at home every Sunday so that I don’t get Starbucks on my way to work. (I fucking love those egg white bites.) I know the egg smell can be nauseating to some people, so I try my best to cover it up with the Tupperware lid. It does not work.

12:15 p.m. — I order Chipotle online to pick up and bring back to the office so I can work through lunch. I prefer to order it online because I can customize my bowl without having to hold up the line at the restaurant. (Gotta get that double chicken for those #gainz.) $9.77

6:30 p.m. — My husband plays video games with his bros on Monday nights, so we usually make something quick for dinner. Our Monday night go-to has been Banza pasta with meat sauce. Y’all, Banza is delicious, and you cannot tell it’s made from chickpeas AT ALL. We try to eat gluten-free most of the time, and I much prefer Banza over brown rice pasta. After my husband leaves, I sit down with the dog to watch Insecure and eat a dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe’s.

Daily Total: $9.77

Day Two

8 a.m. — Breakfast in the office again. I’m usually in meetings all day on Tuesdays. Luckily my first one is a conference call, so I can shovel food into my mouth while on mute.

12 p.m. — While eating leftover pasta from last night, I pay my urgent care bill from last week when I thought I had strep. I’ll eventually reimburse myself from my HSA, but for now it’s on the credit card. $187.72

4 p.m. — I stop by an ATM by my office to take out $80 just to have. My bank reimburses the $1.50 ATM fee. I head back to my cubicle and eat a snack of an apple with some peanut butter. Have you ever measured out an actual serving of peanut butter?? It’s sad and demoralizing — don’t do it.

5:15 p.m. — Before I work out, I stop by the Natural Grocers down the block from my gym to pick up some supplements. My hormonal acne has been out of control lately, so I’m hoping Saw Palmetto will help. Heal me, weird palm thing! $22.86

7:15 p.m. — After my workout class, I head home to help my husband with dinner. It’s nice out so we’re grilling chicken breasts, onions, peppers, and pineapple to have with quinoa. The pineapple is so good and sweet!

Daily Total: $210.58

Day Three

8 a.m. — Breakfast in the office again — same old, same old. Usually Wednesdays are when I start hating what I bring in for breakfast, so I daydream about an Egg McMuffin while I check my emails from last night. I really try not to check emails at home unless I know something urgent is coming through, but then that means I have a full inbox every morning.

12 p.m. — Pilates time! I take a small private group pilates reformer class during lunch on Wednesdays. I have a bad back, and my chiropractor has basically begged me to do pilates because it’s a corrective exercise. I prepaid $175 for five classes (expensive, but worth it for the booty pump). The studio is a few blocks away from my office. I’m really tempted to take an electric scooter instead of walking, but my husband’s voice about always wearing a helmet rings in my head, so I walk instead. When I get back to the office, I have leftover grilled chicken, veggies, and quinoa from last night.

3 p.m. — I take a quick break from work to head to my monthly sugaring appointment. I used my last package visit last month, so I have to buy a new three visit package for $95, which is the best deal I’ve ever seen for sugaring. I really want some Starbucks on my way back to the office, but traffic is terrible, so I skip it to get some work done. $95

5:20 p.m. — I had plans to go to happy hour with some old coworkers, but we had to reschedule since most people couldn’t make it, so I head home. My husband leaves to go running, and I order a bra from ThirdLove through their try-on program ($4.99 for shipping). I haven’t found a local bra store in Denver that I like, so I order a 34H and hope for the best. I’ve heard great things about ThirdLove, but I really wish they would send the right sizes to the Instagram influencers that promote their products. I’ve seen too many ads where the bra is obviously too small, and it’s INFURIATING! $4.99

6:45 p.m. — I make roasted chicken thighs and veggies for dinner. While it’s cooking, I check my credit card and realize I have $29.58 in rewards. Score! I request the amount as cash back on my card to offset some of the cost of the sugaring package.

Daily Total: $99.99

Day Four

7 a.m. — I head to the dentist before work for my twice yearly cleaning. I didn’t get a cleaning for almost a year and a half a while back, and boy did I pay the price in the dentist’s chair. Now that I have dental insurance, I am there two to three times a year for cleanings. I don’t get charged at the office but I’m sure I’ll receive a bill later. I also have to make a follow-up appointment to get some cavities filled that the dentist didn’t have time to get to today. Yay.

12 p.m. — I eat some leftover chicken and veggies from last night while on a tense conference call. I don’t eat the Brussels sprouts because microwaved Brussels are nasty AF. I feel guilty because I know I’m stinking up my cubicle area, but not too guilty to do anything about it.

6:15 p.m. — After a quick weight lifting session at my office’s onsite gym, and because I’d like to further avoid the unrelenting Kavanaugh coverage, I go to the froyo place by my office for a quick pick-me-up for the drive home. I used to work at a national domestic violence/sexual assault hotline back in the day, and seeing/hearing about sexual assault everywhere makes me relive the worst calls I dealt with. While I think it’s so important for us as a culture to be having these conversations, I have to give myself permission to avoid the news for my sanity’s sake. $4.41

7:30 p.m. — I make chili for dinner tonight and plan out my lunch for tomorrow since I’m meeting my husband after work for dinner and drinks. The dog is doing what he does best — snoring loudly on his chair in the corner.

Daily Total: $4.41

Day Five

6 a.m. — I wake up with a massive headache, which rarely happens for me. Yay, life!

11:30 a.m. — My office has a really nice salad bar in the cafeteria, so I build a giant ass salad for lunch. To encourage healthy eating at work, my company gives a $0.50 discount on salads and other things. It’s not much, but it’s a good gesture. $6.24

5:40 p.m. — I meet my husband at a restaurant down the street from my office. It seems like every table around us has one or more small kids, so it gets pretty loud. We consider asking for another table but decide to stick it out. Happy Hour prices end at 6 p.m., so we rush to get our order in. We get chicken nachos, a carnitas pupusa to share, and two locally made hard ciders. Our bill comes out to $25.36 plus a $5 tip, which we split. $15.18

Daily Total: $21.42

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — It’s Saturday, so we’re going hiking this morning! One of the best parts of living in Denver is being super close to awesome hikes, as long as you’re willing to get up early and beat the crowds. My husband takes the dog to doggie daycare for the day while I get my stuff together and prep a protein shake for the car. I have to use an inhaler at altitude or I can’t breathe, so I tear our bedroom apart until I realize it’s already in my backpack. Whoops!

9 a.m. — The hike we’re doing starts on private property, and the owners made the very smart decision to charge for parking. I pay since I have cash on me, and they don’t take cards. The trails are pretty busy, but once we get to the top there’s no one around us. It’s pretty creepy, so we don’t stay at the top for too long. $5

1:15 p.m. — After our hike, we head to the closest town to try a BBQ that comes highly recommended by a former coworker. I lived in Texas for 15+ years and know good BBQ, and this ain’t it. It’s very mediocre, but probably is good by Colorado BBQ standards. I’m also reminded to never trust the BBQ opinions of people who grew up in New England. My husband and I split a four meat combo with a few sides, and he gets a Mexican Coke. We split the bill. $16.60

2:20 p.m. — Once we make it back to Denver, we stop by Starbucks for some coffee. I get a nitro cold brew, and my husband gets a plain black coffee, for a total of $7.56. While we’re waiting for our drinks, our dog’s daycare calls us asking us to pick up our dog, since he’s coughing a lot. We rush over and consider taking him to the vet since it’s right next door, but he seems totally normal when we pick him up, so we just take him home to watch him. His daycare doesn’t charge us for the day since he went home early, which was super nice of them. $3.78

6:30 p.m. — We’ve been watching our dog all day, and it seems like he may have a tiny cold, but he doesn’t cough at all. I stop at the liquor store on the way to an old coworker’s house for dinner to grab some gluten-free beers. The drive takes 25 minutes since my coworker lives in suburbia hell, but watching the sunset over the plains makes up for it. It’s great getting to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and someone pays for our Indian takeout. I eat some naan because naan is a top three favorite bread product for me, gluten be damned. $20.50

12 a.m. — I finally make it home after watching and making fun of the new Jurassic World movie. I climb into bed and check if I ever received a Venmo request for the food. Nothing yet. I’m always happy to pay my share of things, but decide not to push this one too hard.

Daily Total: $45.88

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up still exhausted from the day before. I consider making some protein pancakes, but decide to watch SNL clips from last night with my husband instead. I almost pee myself laughing during Matt Damon’s Kavanaugh skit.

12:30 p.m. — I eat some leftover BBQ chicken from yesterday. We take the dog to the park for a quick walk, and then I get a poke bowl while my husband gets Burger King. I add a $1.50 tip to my bowl because the owners are always super nice to me here. We each pay for our own. $13.36

2:30 p.m. — Still hungry. While I’m heating up a frozen chicken patty from Costco for a snack, the manager of our doggie daycare calls to check on our pup. The daycare had an outbreak of kennel cough a few weeks before, so they’re trying to be extra cautious when it comes to dogs showing any signs of sickness. I tell the manager he’s totally fine, and we confirm his boarding for next weekend while my parents are visiting.

4 p.m. — Our grocery delivery order from Safeway arrives. My husband usually does the shopping, but he received a $20 coupon for delivery, which we take advantage of. We get some veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers), frozen shrimp, and ice cream. The total comes out to $46.55 after the coupon. Since my husband and I will both be out of town for part of the upcoming week, it’s a pretty small order. I try to do some online shopping (take my money!!) but the workout leggings I want to buy are all sold out in my size. Why must black leggings always be the first to sell out??? $23.28

7 p.m. — My husband grills shrimp for dinner while I make some roasted broccoli and quinoa. While my husband is grilling, I do my best to keep the dog away from the grill. He is very dumb and my husband gets overly worried he’s going to burn himself, so somehow it becomes my job to watch the dog. After dinner, I eat some of the ice cream we got. I got Ben & Jerry’s The Tonight Dough on a whim, and it’s amazing! We settle in to watch a movie and get ready for the week ahead.

Daily Total: $36.64

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