A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $45,000 Salary

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 project manager working in language services who makes $45,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Gatorade.

Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Language Services
Age: 29
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $45,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,370
Gender Identity: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,070 for one bedroom in a two-bedroom apartment that I share with one roommate, my dog, and her cat.
Student Loans: $0 (I went to an inexpensive school and worked or had scholarships to cover everything.)
Cell Phone: $50 for a prepaid service
Utilities: ~$140 for internet, gas, water, and electric
Netflix: $0 (My roommate is on her family plan.)
MetroCard: $150 reimbursed by work, but I haven’t refilled in a while because I work from home 95% of the time.
Insurance: $200
Pet Insurance: $35
BarkBox: $30
Apple Storage: $0.99
Gym: $170 for an unlimited pass to a barre/spin/yoga studio

Additional Expenses
Costco: $30 yearly, shared with my roommate
CSA: $300 (Every six months, split with my roommate.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — Up and at ‘em! I’m not usually a morning exerciser, but I’m trying to make the best of my monthly pass and have plans a couple of nights this week, so off I go to a 7:15 barre class and then to take my dog for a walk. I get two miles of walking in by the time that I often roll out of bed.

8:30 a.m. — I get started with work. It’s been quiet the past couple of days, so I take care of a few projects and some reporting, then schedule some meetings for later in the week. As I’m scrolling through Insta, I notice a friend is having a hard time, so I message her and then send $15 to her Ko-fi account. $15

11:45 a.m. — I realize I forgot to eat, so I make a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich and strain my decaf cold brew so I have it for today and tomorrow. I had to stop drinking regular coffee because it was making me jittery, so this is as close as I get to real coffee these days.

2:30 p.m. — I don’t really have anything else to do, so I scroll some more, contribute to my mom’s birthday fundraiser to round it out to a nice even number, and then notice a dress that I favorited on Poshmark is on sale. I’ve been looking for something to wear for a friend’s wedding that I’m officiating this fall, and I think this will be perfect. Right as I’m looking at it, my friend messages saying she approves, so there I go. $187.29

3:45 p.m. — Take the pup for a super quick walk before calling a Via to get to Nats Park. I’m going with my friend, G., to Nats Night Out. The tickets came with T-shirts, so I get there early to make sure we get them before they run out ($6.25). Turns out I didn’t need to be there quite so early, but I don’t mind. $6.25

5 p.m. — Dinnertime. I’d rather pay for good food than mediocre and incredibly expensive ballpark food, so we head over to a Southern-style restaurant near the park. My food philosophy is eat what makes you feel good, and mostly that is plant-based, but today what sounds best is a bacon cheeseburger. G. is great and covers dinner as a thank-you for me picking up the shirts and for letting him crash on my couch tonight. I’ll also be helping him move next weekend, so I don’t feel too bad about it. We head over to the stadium and wander around for a bit before grabbing an unlimited refill Coke for us to share for the night. $11.25

7:45 p.m. — Oof. We’re a couple of innings in and down by five. It’s not looking good, but we’ve been chatting with the folks in our section and I miiiiiight have spiked the Coke, so it’s all good.

10:35 p.m. — Bottom of the seventh and the Nats are ahead! But we also have to Metro back to G.’s car and then drive home, so we say bye to our new baseball friends and head out. I set up the couch for G. and then jump in bed myself.

Daily Total: $219.79

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I didn’t sleep very well, so I hop up and say good morning and check on what time G. is heading out, then try to get a little bit more sleep before starting work.

8:10 a.m. — After a quick walk with the pup, I log in to work. I take care of urgent emails and get my one project that’s due today out, but then lose some steam and end up catching up on the latest episode of The Bachelorette. My job was originally only two days remote a week, but it’s shifted recently so I only have to go into the office occasionally. This has its upsides for sure, but I struggle a bit with focusing as well at home. Luckily my job is 85% very short deadlines, so I never get too far behind.

1:45 p.m. — I realize that besides the pickle I ate a few hours ago and a handful of crackers, I haven’t had any food today. I chop up the last of the bok choy in the fridge and make a quick salad, decide to finish off the last bottle of root beer that I bought this weekend with a root beer float, and then try to dig back into work.

5:30 p.m. — A quick walk and change before heading to the gym for a spin class, followed up with yoga. I got both my feet off the ground in crow for the first time ever! (I average about 20 classes a month, so the cost per class is about $8.50.)

8:30 p.m. — A “friend” texts to see if I want to hang out and rewatch some more West Wing tonight. I’m still a little tired from my late night last night, so I say tomorrow instead. I get home from spin and don’t know what I want to eat, but I end up making a delicious rice-and-beans bowl that hits the spot. I have a little nightcap of lemon elderflower soda with vodka and then get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — I didn’t sleep very well, so I put off getting up until the last minute. I take the pup for a quick potty break, then log in to work.

2:30 p.m. — So many fires to put out today. I’m overwhelmed and haven’t eaten, so I chop up some veggies, toss them in the oven, and have some of the decaf cold brew that I prepped. I should probably find something else, but that’s too much thinking for me right now. I play in the backyard with the pup for a few minutes to give us both a break, then register for a barre class tonight and update my TaskRabbit availability. I worked a lot last weekend, which is great because it will cover most of my upcoming 30th birthday trip to Chicago, but it means that this week has felt longer than usual because I didn’t have a day to rest and recover. I also ogle the jumpsuit from Fleabag season two, episode one, but I legitimately have no place to wear it and it’s 95% polyester, which I try to avoid.

4:45 p.m. — Another walk with the pup, then off to barre!

7 p.m. — I meet up with a friend who is leaving the city soon at my favorite Ethiopian place. Ethiopian food should be a must on everyone’s D.C. bucket list. By the end, I’m totally stuffed and can’t eat anymore, so the owner packs up what’s left for me along with a little extra. $24

8:30 p.m. — I catch a Via over to watch West Wing. After a couple of episodes, my friend drives me home. We chat a little bit about my work situation, but I’m tired and a little grumpy, so I’m not super interested in having a conversation about it. $5.65

Daily Total: $29.65

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Ugh. I have to go into the office today, so I’m up early, but I was awake three or four times during the night after having a hard time falling asleep. Normally I turn on a true-crime podcast and am out quickly, but the episode of Southern Fried True Crime I turned on was especially horrific and it definitely did not help me fall asleep.

7:40 a.m. — After ironing my dress, throwing everything in my bag, and walking the pup, I’m finally on my way to work. I catch a bus, get on the Metro (right as the train is pulling away — a good omen for the day!), and manage to snag a little nap without even missing my stop.

2 p.m. — I leave to run an errand for work and finish out the day at home. I had a bagel and the cold brew I packed around 10, but don’t have time to eat again until 3:45, when I scarf down my leftovers from last night. I start listening to Bear Brook on my way home and, holy cow…there are some terrible people in the world. I pick up my three holds from the library on the way.

5 p.m. — Done at last! I’m supposed to meet a friend coming in for the weekend at 5:15, but his bus is delayed until 9, so I take a nap before walking over to meet him at the station.

9:30 p.m. — We head over to U Street to meet up with another friend who has clearly been having more fun than we have. He gets us a round of drinks, and we hang out at a bar for a while before going to get them a jumbo slice. Both guys I’ve met up with are from NYC and have strong feelings about D.C. pizza. We hang out in the area for a while, but around 11:30 I decide it’s time to call it quits and make sure they’ve called an Uber before I walk home.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Finally! A day without an alarm. I get up around 8:30 to take the pup out and then crawl back into bed for a while longer.

12:30 p.m. — I check in with my friends who want to go see the D.C. sights. Rather than getting ready to go meet them right away, I putter around until 2-ish before calling a Via to the mall, and then we walk down to the Wharf. $5.35

2:30 p.m. — We stop by District Donuts and each get one doughnut (one of the guys pays), and then we wait in line for seafood at Captain White’s. I get a crab cake with sides of hush puppies and mac ‘n’ cheese for $17.60, and then head toward Pride. $17.60

4:45 p.m. — Somehow I end up on the opposite side of the parade route from the group, so it takes me like 45 minutes to go around the start of the parade route, and I stop at CVS to grab a couple of Gatorades on the way ($3.71). I don’t love crowds, but I get a little emotional seeing everyone out and thinking about how much progress has been made, but also about how much is left to be made and how much harder it’s gotten to continue making progress in the current political climate. $3.71

6 p.m. — I have a reservation at 6 at Supra, which is one of my favorite places to take people who are visiting the city. I ate a lot of Georgian food when I was working abroad with one of the guys from New York, so we know exactly what we want — adjaruli khachapuri and potato and cheese khinkali, plus a drink for each of us. I have a $50 gift certificate, so we only have to pay $3 plus a tip. My friend is also taking advantage of the legal weed situation in D.C. and orders some to be delivered to my place, then Venmos me the money to pay for it. He heads back to where he’s staying to freshen up, and I walk home to take the pup out and take a quick shower after all that walking around. $10

8:30 p.m. — After I meet the delivery guy, there are shots on my block, and by the time my friends show up, the police have the street blocked off to cars. Never a dull moment! (Not to be flippant, but it’s a thing that happens not irregularly in my neighborhood, and no one was seriously hurt this time.) We have a couple of rounds of Moscow Mules and some edibles before leaving for jumbo slices ($10) and to meet up with another friend. The lines everywhere are unsurprisingly outrageous, so we end up walking back to my place and hanging out for another few hours. $10

Daily Total: $46.66

Day Six

12 p.m. — Damn. I guess I needed more sleep? I can’t remember the last time I slept that well or that late. I take the pup for a walk and then check in to see what my friends’ plan is before they leave. We decide on Ethiopian food (I’ve been evangelizing about it all weekend) and meet at the restaurant. We split a vegan seven-dish sampler and tilapia tibs between the four of us. I put it on my debit card, and they Venmo or give me cash for their shares. No one was super hungry, so there are plenty of leftovers for me to take home. $15

4:30 p.m. — Two of the guys have earlier buses, so they go to the station, and the one who has a later bus and I walk to Jeni’s for some excellent ice cream. I get a kid’s scoop of a super chocolatey flavor in a waffle cone. SO GOOD. $7.33

5:55 p.m. — At home, trying to decide what to do for the rest of the day. My roommate and I decide that mango sorbet and chick flicks are on the agenda, so we head to Trader Joe’s and end up doing a great job only getting real groceries and avoiding unnecessary snacks, except for the planned mango sorbet. She pays and then puts my share on Splitwise (nectarines, a couple of frozen gnocchi meals, Greek yogurt, veggie hotdogs and buns, avocados, strawberries, almond milk, seaweed snacks, rice, blueberries, watermelon, lemon elderflower soda). I text our friend who lives on the next block, and she comes over to watch Sleepless in Seattle with us, which is a pretty perfect way to spend a Sunday night, especially after such a busy weekend. $38.36

Daily Total: $60.69

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — Happy Monday? I wake up without an alarm and take the pup for a very soggy walk, then settle in to work for the day. It isn’t too busy, but my boss calls to give me some updates after our team meeting on Friday, and that gets my head spinning a bit. There’s been a lot of change in the company lately, and while it’s necessary, it has still been difficult.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch break! More Ethiopian leftovers. Try as I might, things never turn out exactly right when I make them at home, but I’m happy to support the family-owned restaurant that I go to. I just counted, and I’ve legit taken at least 15 people there, so I’m doing my part to keep them in business.

2:30 p.m. — Work is slow enough that I have time to try and get some of the slobber marks off of my couch. I spend half an hour rubbing a vinegar-dish-soap-water concoction on the worst parts. I will never again own a light-colored couch — this one is a shade of bright blue, but it shows everything, which isn’t great with how much time my pup spends chewing his toys on it.

4:45 p.m. — Done with work, and I lie down while my phone is charging and end up sleeping for an hour and some change. Oops. I’m taking that as a sign that I still need rest after all the activity this weekend and decide to not try and make it to the gym today, but register for spin and barre classes back to back tomorrow instead. Another soggy walk with the pup, and when I get back the dress that I ordered from Poshmark is here. I try it on and think it’ll work perfectly once I get it hemmed.

6:30 p.m. — I make up some Trader Joe’s gnocchi with a side of watermelon for dinner and settle in to watch Jane the Virgin with my roommate. I remember that we’d talked about getting tickets to see Hari Kondabolu’s show this weekend, so I double-check that she’s still interested and get the tickets, then add hers to our running Splitwise balance. $25.50

8:30 p.m. — Still watching Jane the Virgin, but remember that TaskRabbit has been reminding me to update my payment information, so I try to go set up another checking account so that it’ll stay separate and can go directly into my currently nonexistent emergency fund. I’ve spent so much of the past few years being broke and underemployed that I haven’t been able to save anything, but now I’m actually at the point where I still have money in my bank account by the time my next paycheck hits and feel the need to get my shit together more. I hit a bump with the checking account, but spend a while reading posts in the Money Diaries FB group and sign up for an Ellevest account with a scheduled initial deposit for after my next paycheck hits. It’s a step in the right direction, even if I still need to do a lot of reading and research.

11:20 p.m. — Time for puppy snugs.

Daily Total: $25.50

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