A Week In Rapid City, SD, On A $41,600 Salary

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Today, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a director of digital content working at a nonprofit who makes $41,600 per year and spends some of her money this week on a new Fitbit band.

Occupation: Director of Digital Content
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 31
Location: Rapid City, SD
Salary: $41,600
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,870.21 (My husband does bring in some money, but it’s inconsistent because he’s doing construction work on the side while he’s in the process of starting a business.)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 for an apartment I live in with my husband
Student Loan Payment: $0 (No college debt for me — I had a scholarship. My husband’s minor college debt was paid off, thanks to an inheritance from his grandpa.)
Utilities: ~$150
Gym: $80 (for both me and my husband)
Health Insurance: $300
Car Insurance: $53
Dog Food & Vet Bills: ~$75
Charity: $76
Google Play Music: $15
Husband’s Phone Bill: $45
IRA: $105
Car Insurance: $58
Physical Therapy: $170
Phone Bill & Streaming Services: Paid for by my work. (Includes Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and MoviePass.)

Day One

7:45 a.m. — Wake up begrudgingly. (The worst part about going to bed at night is knowing I have to wake up the next day.) Husband takes the dogs out while I start the water for coffee. I shower, then emerge to freshly made French press coffee. I drink a couple small cups slowly (small mugs = happiness, because then the coffee doesn’t get too cold!) while I begin the day’s work on my computer. (I work remotely.)

11:20 a.m. — Husband comes home from one of his random jobs, so we eat lunch together, which consists of homemade chicken salad and leftover hamburger buns, as well as a couple of rice cakes with homemade Oreo protein cookie butter on top. Oh, and a couple of Oreos too, lol.

12 p.m. — Husband gets a house coffee at a local coffee shop on his way to a job. $2.89

2:30 p.m. — I make a pour over for an afternoon pick me up, since I haven’t been sleeping all that well lately. So much of my work involves writing and editing, and it’s hard to keep focused and produce quality work when my brain’s foggy! My mom, a coffee teetotaler, often tells me that I should stop drinking coffee so I can reduce my expenses — sure, Ma! Plus, I feel like we save a lot of money by buying beans in bulk and making it ourselves, as opposed to going to a coffee shop every day.

3 p.m. — The hubs fills up my car with gas using our $0.50/gallon discount (thanks, grocery purchases!), so it’s pretty cheap overall. $35

4:30 p.m. — Snack on Special K Protein cereal to stave off hunger. I haven’t eaten tons today and will need some energy before heading to the gym after work….aaaaand I also have half a cream-filled chocolate Long John because, well, my husband bought a whole box on clearance a couple days ago and we can’t let them go to waste now, can we?

7:15 p.m. — Have some pre-workout in my water before heading to the gym. Then I crush my workout, I think because of the donut. (Maybe I should do that more often…) Afterwards, I stop by the grocery store to get tortillas and cheese. We have leftover shredded chicken, so I figure we’ll make tacos for dinner. I also get 18 eggs, coffee, butter, two big containers of Greek yogurt, and two boxes of Special K Protein. Once I get home, I eat an ear of corn (a relative gave us four ears from a stand on the side of the road us a few days ago) with my tacos, plus a couple dollops of whipped cream straight from the can for dessert. (I’m so fancy.) $38.12

12:15 a.m. — We go to bed waaaay too late after staying up to watch an epic tennis match on TV. #Worthit. I know I’m going to feel it in the morning.

Daily Total: $76.01

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I hit snooze like 16 times before finally getting up. I take out the dogs, make coffee, and go straight to work while my husband sleeps, since he doesn’t have a job today. I honestly don’t know how I used to stay up so late in college. When did I get so old?!

11 a.m. — Husband goes to Walmart while I work, and gets shampoo and conditioner, body wash, and a loofa. We try to buy things on sale and/or choose the cheaper brands/generics whenever possible. I use the cheapest shampoo and conditioner to save money, instead of buying the expensive stuff my salon recommends. He also gets shampoo for himself, two more boxes of protein cereal (better deal!), motor oil and a filter to change oil on his vehicle, two Sea Foam containers for putting in both vehicles, and something for testing another something on his car because it’s been misfiring. Hopefully that will fix the problem so we won’t have to spend more on it! Yay, old cars. $84.74

12:20 p.m. — Tacos (and the last of the leftover shredded chicken) for lunch, as well as a rice cake with homemade Oreo protein cookie butter again. I wash it down with good ol’ tap water because we’ve been trying not to buy sparkling water or diet soda to save money. It’s not something we really need, and since we’re in the process of opening a business, we need to save where we can. But I decide to make iced tea to sip while I work for the afternoon, because water can get boooooring.

4:30 p.m. — I eat the other half of my donut on my way to my biweekly physical therapy appointment ($85). I’ve been going to this therapist for about six months now, and she’s the only one (out of multiple doctors, chiropractors, and PTs) who’s actually made a difference on the back pain I’ve had for years. But since I’ve finally made some progress, and since it’s not covered by my insurance (pre-existing condition FTW!), my husband and I recently decided it would be best to decrease from one appointment per week to one every two weeks to save money. Kinda sad for me because she’s close to my age, we both have puppies around the same age, and we both enjoy the same dumb reality TV shows, so I always have fun with her. Maybe we should be friends in real life…

5:30 p.m. — I drive from my PT appointment to the city tennis courts for a clinic and drop-in play while the hubs goes rock climbing with the dudes. The tennis community here is small, but there are really good people, so I always have fun playing. I didn’t get to play tennis for quite a few years before moving here because we lived in a small mountain town where people mostly cared about mountain-oriented activities, so it’s really nice to get to play now. I need to get my racket restrung and put a new overgrip on.

7:30 p.m. — Eat protein cereal as a snack until my husband gets home and we can cook dinner. I buy a new band for my Fitbit Charge 2 on Amazon, since my current one isn’t going to hold up for much longer. I don’t think they were made to last one and a half years. Oops. I also order a few notebooks for keeping track of my workout progress, since my current one is almost full. Buying the band on Amazon saves me about $22 over buying one directly from Fitbit. Winning. $18.59

8:30 p.m. — Husband stops by the store to get Worcestershire sauce to go with our elk steak dinner (from a roadkill elk we got last year!). Of course, he also gets other stuff at the store: bread, a clearance pie, two bottles of diet soda, jalapeño bread, and chicken breasts for the rest of the week. For dinner, we have frozen broccoli we already had plus some of the jalapeño bread and pie with the elk. $29.06

11:15 p.m. — We head to bed a bit earlier than we did last night. No A/C because it’s been getting chilly at night, but starts out pretty hot. I try not to run the A/C unless absolutely necessary because it saves money and (hopefully) reduces climate change a bit, but I also feel bad when my husband is sweating with hardly any clothes on and no covers.

Daily Total: $132.39

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, take the dogs out, shower, and drink coffee. I only shower every other day (unless I get super sweaty/stinky) to reduce some of my consumption…less water, less heat, less time spent, less doing my hair and makeup, less money, etc. But today I definitely need one, especially after two nights of exercise! Then it’s back to work.

12:13 p.m. — Hungry today! For breakfast, I have protein cereal in Greek yogurt, followed by two pieces of bread and some chicken lunch meat. Also a glass of diet soda, because guilty pleasures. My husband eats at a relative’s house because he’s doing work on their shower.

3:20 p.m. — I eat an Oreo. Okay, two Oreos. I also have a conversation with my boss about asking the higher ups for a raise. I work for a nonprofit, so I get that there’s not a lot of money to be made, but it feels like I’ve been using that excuse for far too long. I’ve been with my organization for over eight years now. I should be making more than $25/hour. I also wonder (again) if my organization is paying me less because I’m not “supposed” to be the primary breadwinner. If the men who work at my organization can support themselves, their wives, their kids, and their pets on their salaries — as well as make car and mortgage payments — then why do my husband and I rent a 550 square foot apartment, have no kids to support, and try to be as frugal as possible, but still can’t survive on my salary alone?!

5:01 p.m. — I eat a rice cake with homemade Oreo protein cookie butter on it while I get ready for tennis.

6 p.m. — I drive to the indoor tennis courts for the women’s weekly round robin play. I pay the $12 fee for nonmembers because I can’t afford the $599 initiation fee and the $139 monthly membership fee. $12

8:30 p.m. — My husband made dinner while I was at tennis, yay! Chicken breasts with cheese and salsa, more of the jalapeño bread, corn, and a tiny bit of pie for dessert. We decide to the run A/C instead of keeping the windows open at night, because it’s hot. We watch a couple episodes of a new show on Netflix and stay up until 11:30 since neither of us has to work tomorrow.

Daily Total: $12

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — I sleep in a bit, and then take the dogs out and make coffee. I only work four days a week because working on a computer for five days a week killed my back (not to mention it’s making me nearsighted in one eye…sigh). Now I alternate between a standing desk and the couch, which helps. My PT and weightlifting have made a difference, too. But since we’re looking for more income (at least until my husband’s business becomes profitable, fingers crossed!), I’ve been contemplating going back to working five days a week.

12:30 p.m. — After spending the morning cleaning and doing dishes while listening to an audiobook through my local library, I eat my usual for lunch: rice cake and protein cookie butter, Greek yogurt with protein cereal, deli chicken, and water.

3:11 p.m. — Husband buys wood at the hardware store for finishing our camping kitchen box. We camp a fair amount and will be camping for at least two weeks next month, so he’s building us a system for the back of my car that makes storing our camp stove, dishes, cooler easier. $25

5:05 p.m. — Fell asleep on the couch while reading and woke up hungry! So I have some cereal and milk before tennis.

8:45 p.m. — Some friends invite us over to their place to hang out by their firepit, but we need dinner first so we get Qdoba. Hubby gets a burrito and I get a burrito bowl and chips. When we get to our friends’ house, they make us Moscow Mules and a caprese salad using homegrown tomatoes, homegrown basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. Apparently we’re doing them a favor because they have way too many tomatoes and can’t possibly eat them all. Best tomatoes I’ve ever had. We also make s’mores. We don’t get home until midnight, and fall asleep pretty much right away. $17.52

Daily Total: $42.52

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Wake up because one of the pups was really thirsty. Works for me, though, because I’m playing tennis again at 10 a.m. Dang. I’m playing a lot more than usual this week, because I want to be outside as much as possible while the weather’s good! I make coffee beforehand.

10:45 a.m. — Husband runs back to the hardware store to get one last thing needed for finishing our camping kitchen. $28

11:45 a.m. — I eat my leftover Qdoba after tennis. Then, I take a much-needed shower before driving to the grocery store to get food for camping tonight! Should’ve planned ahead better since the grocery store is just down the street from the tennis courts. Oh well.

1:08 p.m. — We decide to split dinner with one of the couples we’re going camping with, so I only have to buy a few things at the store. I grab two packs of bratwursts, a loaf of sourdough bread, two kombuchas, a 12-pack of diet soda (on sale!), and a liter of seltzer water. I also make brownies using a box I already have. Husband runs to a liquor store to get a six-pack of sour beer he likes. $30.25

3:13 p.m. — Drive into the Black Hills to camp with two other couples to camp just off a forest service road — it’s free! The kombucha is perfect for the drive. We’ve camped in this spot before, and the most recent time, our younger pup got stung by something or found poison ivy and was itchy for two days, so we’re hoping that doesn’t happen again!

6:20 p.m. — After a short hike, we cook all of the brats using our camping kitchen. We also snack on the brownies, veggie salad, and tomatoes our friends brought. Hubby drinks a couple beers, and I drink wine. What a relaxing afternoon and evening! We climb into our rooftop tent around 10 p.m.

Daily Total: $58.25

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — We make coffee using the French press attachment on our Jetboil and sit around with our friends and chat.

9:30 a.m. — We cook French toast for breakfast using the loaf of sourdough I got yesterday and share with our friends. It all gets eaten :). Then we pack up and head back into town.

12:15 p.m. — I eat a banana and a hamburger at another tennis event in town. Didn’t even have to pay to play in this event, so it really is free food! My team ties for first, so I also get a $20 gift card to a local hardware store and a hat, which my husband will appreciate for his work.

2:20 p.m. — Decide to have a tennis friend restring my racket and put a new overgrip on. The strings were just too dead feeling today to keep playing with them. $32

3:20 p.m. — I eat a bowl of cereal while watching a tennis match on TV, then take a shower since our water will be off all day tomorrow. (They’re repairing something nearby and have to turn off the water.)

8:06 p.m. — I sit down to eat more of the chicken my husband bought earlier this week with frozen sweet potato fries and frozen broccoli. My husband’s climbing friends buy two frozen pizzas from the grocery store and bring them over to cook. We offer them $20, but they don’t take it.

10 p.m. — Husband found a Snickers in his snack box, a magical box I had no idea existed. How could he hide such a thing from me?! I eat two thirds of the Snickers, because yum. Save the rest to eat while working tomorrow.

Daily Total: $32

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Get up and make coffee while filling jugs with water since our water is supposed to be off the entire working day today. Makes using the restroom hard when you work from home.

11:22 a.m. — It’s definitely time for the rest of that Snickers, because Monday.

12:40 p.m. — Not much in the fridge right now for lunch. I eat a chicken breast and dry protein cereal — quite the combo. I have a diet soda for at least a little bit of flavor.

4:50 p.m. — So hungry. I finish off the protein cookie butter on a rice cake and have some grapefruit sparkling water. How is it that we don’t have more snacks?! I also find Halo Top protein ice cream in the freezer, but discover it’s been in there too long and I have to throw it out. Freezer burned ice cream is no bueno.

6:50 p.m. — My husband wants something other than just plain chicken breasts for dinner, so I run to the store to get sauce and frozen egg rolls. I make the chicken and the sauce with rice noodles and frozen stir-fry veggies that we already have to make pad thai (sort of). I also get a big thing of whipped cream and another jar of sauce to have on hand for next time. $22.95

9:30 p.m. — Husband finishes off his last beer while we watch TV. I have a dollop or two of whipped cream. Then we head to bed around 10:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $22.95

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