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A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $73,500 Salary

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Welcome toMoney Diaries , where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a director of annual giving who makes $73,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on iced tea.

Occupation: Director of Annual GivingIndustry: Private EducationAge: 29Location: Los Angeles, CASalary: $73,500Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,062

Monthly ExpensesRent: $600 for my share of a two-bedroom duplex apartment. My husband pays the other half. Our landlord pays for water. This is far below market value, and we count our lucky stars every singe day.Car Payment: $553Student Loans: $0 (My loans were relatively modest for undergrad and grad school, thanks to government grants and university scholarships, and attending community college before state universities lowered my costs. I paid off my balance last year with a portion of a gift from my mom after she sold some property. The rest of the gift is in my savings, and I haven’t gotten around to properly investing the money.)Medical, Dental & Supplemental Life Insurance: $57.92FSA: $54.17Car Insurance: $114 Cell Phone: $70Hulu: $11.99Netflix: $12.99Electric & Trash: $70-$100KCRW Membership: $20ClassPass: $79Internet, Gas & HBO Go: My husband pays.Retirement: $151.67 every paycheck. This is matched by my employer.

Annual ExpensesCredit Card Fees: $450 (I pay for nearly everything with my two credit cards throughout the month to rack up points, and I use travel rewards/reimbursements to counterbalance the fee.)Costco Membership: $60

Day One

8:15 a.m. — We take the dog with us to breakfast. I love bringing him out, even though he is extremely excitable and draws a lot of attention. My husband orders two breakfast burritos ($13.92) and pays while I let our dog sniff around outside. The place is a hole in the wall, but we have been coming here since high school and their breakfast burritos are incredible.

9 a.m. — They finally call our order! We take it to go and stop at our local coffee shop for lattes ($9) before heading home. Husband pays.

11:30 a.m. — While my husband plays a video game, I browse on my iPad. I haven’t been shopping for clothes in a couple of months, and I have Banana Republic rewards burning a hole in my pocket. I buy a few tops, a pair of pants, and a dress, which are 50% off, plus an extra 10% off with free shipping for cardholders. After using my rewards, I pay $42.34. I feel so accomplished that I check out Madewell’s sale and purchase a dress and a sweater with an additional 15% off code ($134.12). $176.46

2:30 p.m. — I pick a couple of recipes to try this week from Chrissy Teigen’s new cookbook, and I head to Trader Joe’s for groceries. After shopping at Whole Foods for the past several weeks, I am reminded how awesome and affordable Trader Joe’s is in comparison. I stock up on everything, including beer, wine, fruit, veggies, ingredients for a few dinners, and milk-chocolate-covered peanut butter pretzel bites. $158.31

3:30 p.m. — I put away the groceries (my husband already knows I am OCD and like to do this by myself) and make a snack board for us with cucumber, cheese, nuts, hummus, and pita chips.

4:15 p.m. — I caramelize onions for a French onion dip we’re bringing to a family dinner tomorrow night while we watch Workin’ Moms on Netflix. My husband goes to the grocery store for Stumptown coffee beans and a couple of herbs I needed but TJ’s didn’t have.

6:10 p.m. — I look up cool restaurants on Yelp, but of course they are all booked on a Saturday night. My husband and I agree that we’re not really hungry, and dealing with traffic and crowds is not appealing. He makes a gin martini for me and bourbon on the rocks for him. This is way better than going out!

7:20 p.m. — I have some fresh veggies that are going bad soon, so I throw them on a sheet pan and roast them for my weekday lunches. I request another martini because why not, so we each have another cocktail and cuddle on the couch.

8:45 p.m. — We’re both beginning to fall asleep, so I clean up the kitchen, shower, and get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $334.77

Day Two

8:20 a.m. — I crawl out of bed and go into the kitchen, where my husband is making coffee, bacon, and eggs. Daylight Saving Time is a cruel trick we impose on ourselves. Make it stop. He is going to see Captain Marvel this morning (sorry, but I hate going to the movies), so he wants to get breakfast going early. We enjoy a big breakfast and lounging on a slow morning. The dog gets a couple of slices of bacon.

10 a.m. — I change out of pajamas, say goodbye to my husband, and take the dog for a long walk. I adore our neighborhood and feel so lucky to live here. We moved a lot when I was younger (I attended four different elementary schools), so feeling “at home” is a big deal for me, and I truly love where we live.

10:50 a.m. — I feed the dog and get my stuff together before heading to visit my grandma, who is in an assisted-living home about 40 minutes away.

11:15 a.m. — I stop at Target on my way there and get a few things we need at home, plus a couple of items I noticed my grandma was out of last weekend, like Tums and Purell ($42.91). I always bring her Starbucks, and there’s one inside this Target, so I don’t have to make an extra stop! I get her a hot Venti decaf vanilla latte with almond milk, a blueberry muffin, and three packages of Madelines ($15.05). I really should get the app, since I’m going to Starbucks almost weekly. $57.96

11:50 a.m. — My grandma and the other residents are having lunch. I sit down next to her, and we chit-chat while she drinks her Starbucks and we share cookies. The caretakers here are saints, and my grandma is finally adjusting after being here a few months. Her humor and personality are coming back. She lived alone for the past few years but increasingly needed more assistance, so I am glad she’s here, even though it was a difficult transition.

2:50 p.m. — I arrive home and chat with my husband about the movie and my grandma. I’m always emotional after visiting her and worry about her a lot these days. She helped my single mother raise me, and I lived with her during my four years of college and during my gap year. We can never have enough time together. I jump in the shower and get dressed. Then we throw potato chips, my onion dip, and a bottle of wine in a bag and head to my cousin’s house.

3:30 p.m. — We arrive and catch up with everyone, including our goddaughter and her sister. It’s a full house, to say the least, and we learn this evening that there’s another baby on the way! We polish off the onion dip, plus ribs, coleslaw, scalloped potatoes, and beans.

8:20 p.m. — We arrive home and let the dog run around in the front yard. I ask my husband how he feels about the new baby on the way. We both knew they wanted one more kid, and they are amazing parents, so we’re really excited for them. But for most of last year, we were struggling with infertility and wondered how we would become parents ourselves. We are taking a break right now to just enjoy life and save money for IVF, which my insurance does not cover. We both agree that we feel less sad than we expected, which feels great. It’s such a crazy mind game, but we really have grown closer and stronger in dealing with this.

Daily Total: $57.96

Day Three

6:37 a.m. — I way overslept. It’s dark and I have a headache. I get up and make French press coffee while my husband is in the shower. I would rather be late to work than tackle Monday without good coffee. I throw some random stuff into my lunch box and make our coffees to go. My husband leaves for work and I get ready.

7:20 a.m. — I am running so late. The dog is snoring on our bed, and it takes a lot of effort to get him out in the backyard, but he finally obliges when I put his food out. I wish he could have free rein of the house, but after he destroyed a ton of our stuff when he was a puppy (including a loveseat from CB2), we crate-trained him and he hangs out back when the weather is nice, which it is 90% of the time. If it’s raining or too hot, he’s indoors in the crate.

7:55 a.m. — I arrive at work early! Traffic was light, PTL. My boss notices immediately that I’m here on time, which is funny and sad. I’m usually here closer to 8:15, and I am so grateful that she’s flexible.

9:40 a.m. — I have an apple and a handful of walnuts for breakfast.

11:55 a.m. — I’m thinking about the haphazard lunch waiting for me and consider buying chips or a microwave meal from the cafeteria before my meeting. It is tempting but unnecessary, so I hold back.

1:10 p.m. — Again I second-guess my lunch of roasted veggies, pita chips, ham, and an avocado. I consider going out and picking up my favorite chicken salad, but enjoy my lunch more than expected. Chicken salad is definitely happening soon, though. Maybe Friday.

4:05 p.m. — The afternoon went by pretty fast, thankfully. I have a 5:30 Pilates class, so I head home. On my way, I call my husband to check in about dinner plans, and he is going to make turkey chili that I shopped for this weekend.

7:40 p.m. — After Pilates, I am exhausted. I shower and get into pajamas. My husband serves us big bowls of chili and giant wedges of honey-glazed cornbread. Heaven.

8:15 p.m. — We watch the latest episode of Crashing on HBO, and then I suggest we switch over to part one of The Bachelor finale to see what’s happening with Colton and the ladies. The highly anticipated fence-jump aired last week, and we have to see how this concludes. I freaking love that my husband is into the Bachelor franchise. We’ve been watching it for years, and I don’t know how we will ever give it up, unfortunately.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:18 a.m. — I get out of bed and pour myself a cup of coffee while putting together my lunch. It’s another mix of things, but I’m into it today. I make our coffees to go, and my husband leaves for work.

7:10 a.m. — Running late again. I just cannot get out the door before 7, no matter how much time I have. I am low on gas but decide to continue on to work. I listen to The Joe Rogan Experience on my drive, which distracts me from the traffic.

10:30 a.m. — After working on a project, I have a pear and almond butter for breakfast. Then I dig into a bag of Belgian waffle cookies I bought at Target over the weekend.

1:30 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk: pita chips, hummus, cucumber, roasted turkey slices, and a mini Brie wheel from Trader Joe’s.

4:30 p.m. — I barely have time to get home and change for a 5 p.m. workout class with my husband, but my gas light is on, so I stop for gas near my house. I always regret not filling up on the weekend. $31.25

6:45 p.m. — On our way home from the workout, we stop at a pet-supply store and stock up on dog treats, and I impulse buy a new toy ($32.82). I clean up the kitchen and start preparing Chrissy Teigen’s Spice-Rubbed Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Garlicky Sautéed Spinach and jasmine rice. I pour a glass of Pinot left over from the other night while I’m cooking. $32.82

8:10 p.m. — Dinner is simple but delicious, and there are no leftovers. We watch The Bachelor and relish in the drama.

9:45 p.m. — I shower and get ready for bed. Then I download the Starbucks Rewards app and load it with $25. $25

Daily Total: $89.07

Day Five

6:20 a.m. — I wake up a bit late and didn’t prep any coffee. I’m hoping to stop at Starbucks so I can use my new app and gift card. I rarely go to Starbucks for myself, but there’s one on my way to the freeway on-ramp, and I’m craving their sous-vide egg bites.

7:15 a.m. — I don’t want to stress even more about being late to work, so I decide against Starbucks. I listen to the finale of The Dropout and plan to make coffee when I get to work.

8:05 a.m. — I’m (basically) on time. I make a cup of coffee and eat a banana and almond butter from home.

10:30 a.m. — I order my lunch to pick up at noon: a Chinese chicken salad with extra chicken, extra lettuce, extra side of dressing, added avocado, and an iced tea ($17.25). This massive salad will last me two days with all the extras, so I don’t feel so bad about ordering out. $17.25

1:30 p.m. — I finish half the salad and have a pear with some Belgian waffle cookies for dessert.

5 p.m. — I consider stopping at the store on my way home for toppings for our leftover chili, but decide to go on a family walk to the store, since I don’t have a workout class tonight.

6 p.m. — My husband and I walk the dog to the store, and he buys shredded cheese and sour cream for tonight. He pays. It’s about 1.5 miles roundtrip. At home, I reheat the leftover chili and cornbread.

8:30 p.m. — After enjoying a giant bowl of chili and wedge of cornbread, I barely make it through the first half of Aquaman and fall asleep on the couch. Though I don’t love movies, I enjoyed Jason Momoa being shirtless in the scenes I actually watched.

Daily Total: $17.25

Day Six

6:20 a.m. — Yesterday’s coffee was deeply disappointing, so I get out of bed and make French press for us before I shower. I throw a couple of pieces of fruit and a jar of almond butter in my bag for breakfast.

9:40 a.m. — I get distracted at work and find a pair of Cole Haan loafers in sale on Zappos. I have a $5 Zappos reward code, so obviously I have to buy them. $85.40

12 p.m. — I enjoy my leftover salad and then take a walk outside. There are butterflies everywhere! This butterfly migration is seriously good for all of the stressed out people in L.A. (myself included).

2:30 p.m. — I have an apple and a TJ’s mini brie wheel at my desk.

4:30 p.m. — At home, I change into gym clothes for my 5:30 Pilates class, and I play with the dog outside while my husband waters our front yard.

6:50 p.m. — On my way home from Pilates, I stop at the pharmacy to pick up my medication. I pay with my fully funded FSA card. I also stop to pick up my dry cleaning. It has been a while, so it’s a higher bill than usual, and unfortunately I don’t have a coupon. $76.41

7:25 p.m. — My husband is making pepperoni, mushroom, and bell pepper pizza with TJ’s herb pizza dough (the best). We nearly finish the entire pizza and each have a Heineken. I eat a few Biscoff cookies, too. I browse online for new workout clothes, but I decide to wait since I’ve already spent quite a bit on clothes this week. We’re planning to take my husband’s parents to Austin for the Formula 1 Grand Prix later this year, so I look up itineraries and am pleased that my credit card points will cover all four of our flights!

Daily Total: $161.81

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — It’s dark and cold, and I stay in bed as long as possible. I invite the dog up to cuddle for a few minutes while my husband is in the shower. I pack the single leftover piece of pizza and some fruit and almond butter in my lunch.

7:20 a.m. — I stop at Starbucks, since traffic is usually light on Fridays and I don’t have to rush. I get a Caffè Misto and sous-vide egg-white bites and pay with my gift card on the app.

12 p.m. — Fridays generally fly by because I stay busy wrapping up projects from the week. I warm up my pizza and browse the internet. I have an apple with almond butter as well.

3:25 p.m. — Everyone leaves early on Fridays, so I pack up. The parking lot is nearly empty, which makes me think I should’ve left even earlier.

5:30 p.m. — After walking the dog, I start a load of laundry and we get ready for dinner. I made reservations at Sawyer in Silverlake, which I’ve been wanting to try just based on the cute AF branding and décor. The menu looks amazing, too.

9:15 p.m. — Feeling reeeeal good. I’ve had two martinis and a glass of wine. We shared hush puppies and lamb meatballs, and I ordered poached lobster with buttery potatoes while my husband ordered the NY Strip. We also split a flat white and milk-chocolate mousse with caramel and pralines for dessert. We had great conversation and great food. Husband pays.

10:20 p.m. — We arrive home and end a great date in the best way. I am beyond lucky to have him as a partner, and I go to sleep excited to spend the weekend just doing our thing, which always includes good food.

Daily Total: $0

Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

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