A Week in Peachtree City on a $54,000 Salary

Welcome to Spending Notes, where we do a weekly deep dive into how our readers spend their cash.

Today: a physical therapy assistant who makes $54,000 a year

Occupation: physical therapy assistant

Age: 48

Location: Peachtree City, GA

Salary: $54,000 (approx. $2,077 per pay period)

Day One


After a pretty typical day working with patients, I pick up dinner and come home to my 16-year-old daughter, E. She’s planning to go to college after finishing high school, with the hope of becoming a lawyer. I’m so proud of her, but I worry that I can’t guide her through the process like she deserves, as I got my associate degree but didn’t take education any further, besides my PTA certifications. I took to the web to look up solutions and found college admissions prep services, which look like exactly what we need. I mentioned this to E., and she’s excited if a bit nervous. We go ahead and book a free consultation with the counseling service to see if it’s a good fit.

Total: $22.50

Day Two


My workday is fairly average, as usual, but Tuesday gets a lot more exciting after my shift—just not in a good way. E. calls me in a panic and explains that there’s a layer of water on the kitchen floor. I get home as quickly as I can and find the ceiling dripping from a clear leak. Honestly, I’m surprised it took this long with our old roof! Google offers a company called Castle Roofing as a well-reviewed option, so I book a free estimate for first thing next week. The forecast is clear in the meantime, but I put a large bowl under the drip just in case. Then, E. and I clean up the remaining water, and we go out to eat.

Total: $32

Day Three


My shift today isn’t much different from others, but for some reason, I’m exhausted by the time it’s done. Tonight’s one night I’m more than happy to let the professionals deal with things like leaky roofs and dinner! I order food for E. and me and end up falling asleep on the couch while she works on homework.

Total: $39.50

Day Four


I woke up this morning feeling even worse than last night and begrudgingly use a personal day to book an appointment with my doctor in a few hours. One copay later, it turns out I’ve got the flu. A quick stop at the pharmacy for my prescriptions and some feel-good supplies, then I’m back to bed until E. gets home. I order delivery for her, and she heats up a can of chicken noodle soup for me.

Total: $53

Day Five


I’m still not feeling so hot, so I guess the meds haven’t really kicked in yet. Unfortunately, that means using another day’s PTO so I don’t risk getting our patients sick. A quick look at my inbox shows I forgot to pay off my credit card yesterday, so I have to add that and a late fee to my spending for today. Otherwise, I spend most of the day napping but manage to get myself some buttered crackers and a Gatorade from the kitchen in the late afternoon. E. is staying at a friend’s house tonight, so I make some more soup and head back to bed.

Total: $105

Day Six


By Saturday morning, I’m finally feeling a little bit better, but I’m still grateful for grocery delivery. I do a load of laundry while I wait, then put away the groceries while my sheets and pajamas dry. E. comes home in the evening, and we order sandwiches from a local spot. At least I’m feeling okay enough to eat it!

Total: $92

Day Seven


E. and I spend an uneventful day at home, with a short trip to a nearby park for fresh air. I’m finally feeling like a person again! I drop a check in the mail for my mortgage payment and call it a night.

Total: $1,250

Total for the week: $1,594