Welcome to Money 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.
Money Diaries Month: an executive assistant who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of it on a Tumi wallet for her stepdad.
Occupation: Executive Assistant & Weekend Receptionist Industry: Tech Start-up Age: 28 Location: Palo Alto, CA Salary: $90,000 Side Hustle: About $150-$295 (varies on weekends worked) Paycheck (2x/month): $2,458.48 from my full-time job, after health insurance, dental, vision, flexible savings account, and taxes are taken out
Monthly Expenses Housing: $1,461 my share of the rent (including $50/ month pet rent) and I have one roommate Personal Loan: $442.03 — I took out a personal loan to pay down my credit cards, which was seriously one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done because interest is 24%. Thank god I only have eight more payments. Student Loans: $197.89
Other Monthly Expenses Storage Unit: $99 I pay for this and share the space with my parents, they pay for my cell phone Utilities: About $90 for my share Car Insurance: About $200 because I added my little brother’s car to my account while he is in grad school Renter's Insurance: $5 Pet Insurance: $96 for my dog and my parents' puppy Car Payment: $385.47 Netflix: $9.99 LearnVest: $19. It's the best way for me to track my money! A financial planner helped me set up my budget, and we check in with each other at least once a year. My planner helps me focus on long-term financial goals, such as paying off debt. Sink Fund: $225 for things like hair appointments, doggy daycare, trips to the vet, gifts, car maintenance. These are infrequent and aren't monthly. I pull this amount from my main checking account every month and deposit it into a separate checking account. Credit Card Payments: $360 minimum. I learned my lesson and am still paying off my credit cards balances. Now, I pay the minimum that's due every month and then throw extra payments on top of that after I get paid from my side hustle. I should be completely debt free by October 2018. ( Editor's Note: The diarist has paid off $10,000 of debt so far, per her comment below.) Flex Spending: $650 (or about $150 per week). Covers groceries, gas, household goods, shopping, dog food, eating out — really anything I might spend during the week. My goal this year is to watch every single dollar and get hyper-focused on paying down my debt.
8 a.m. — I wake up without an alarm and see that my phone has died. I was up working until 11:45 p.m. last night so I don't feel bad for sleeping in a bit. I hop in the shower and then start my new beauty regimen. I’m trying out a service that launched recently called
HelloAva. They analyze your skin type, recommend products that address any issues you have, and then ship the products to you. I start with Vichy LiftActiv serum for my eyes and lashes; it's worth every penny. Next, I use REN Instant Firming Beauty Shot serum, followed by IT Bye Bye Under Eye Cream, and finish up with Youth to the People Kale & Spinach Age Prevention Moisture Cream and a dab of Algenist Sublime Defense sunscreen. All of this cost me about $245 last month. 8:30 a.m. — Toast some Ezekiel bread, add an avocado slice, and scramble egg whites. After breakfast, I do a guided meditation on the Calm app. 10 a.m. — Finally in the office. Fill up my two S'well bottles (I'm trying to up my water intake), and track that on the Waterlogged app. A friend texts me about a Money Diary. We are fascinated that this diarist has a pen pal, and we research how to find one. 11 a.m. — I've banged out a bunch of work and am caught up on emails, so I do a quick money check in on the LearnVest app and then check my bank accounts. Today is the first of the month and also payday. I pay my rent online and transfer $148 from my main checking account into my IRS sink fund. I underpaid my taxes in 2014 and got a letter in the mail last month saying that I owe nearly $1,500, which was absolutely shocking. Every extra dollar I've been putting toward my credit cards is now going straight into this fund. I am determined to pay it off this month! I eat an apple with almond butter from home to tide me over until lunch. $148 11:50 a.m. — I sign up for a pen pal on International Pen Friends (IPF). There's a small membership fee, but I hope it's going toward what will be a fun experience. Julia Child had a pen pal, which led to an amazing friendship. I pay this from my flex spending account. $35 12:20 p.m. — Finally lunchtime. My chicken Tex-Mex salad arrives at the office, where we get EAT Club lunches every day for free. I also grab two plums from the office kitchen. 1:40 p.m. — My boss gets back early from a conference and is dying for a cup of Peet's Coffee. I do a quick run and grab myself a cold brew as well. The cost is charged to my corporate card. 4:50 p.m. — Afternoon munchies kick in. I eat a peanut-butter chocolate Tone It Up protein bar that's in my desk drawer stash and log it in the MyFitnessPal app. Apparently, my life revolves around apps. 6 p.m. — I'm dealing with major travel booking drama at the office. I eat Hi-Chew candies from the kitchen and spend the next two hours on the phone with our travel agency. Having a serious Devil Wears Prada moment. 7:15 p.m. — Finally home. I whip up dinner while I FaceTime with my cousin. I make a Buddha bowl with ingredients already in the fridge: roasted sweet potato, cooked kale, sprouts, avocado, edamame, and tahini dressing. 8:30 p.m. — Stretching my back in bed, watching Netflix, and trying to zone out from a long day of work. I fall asleep with my makeup on, skin care regimen fail. Daily Total: $183
7:12 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed so that I have time to shower before my chiropractor appointment. I shower, go through my skin routine, hop into yoga pants, and head out.
8 a.m. — Amazing adjustment! I can walk without pain now. I had major pains in my lower back two weeks ago and had to take a break from my favorite training program, the Tone It Up Bikini Series. I pay the $25 copay with my flexible spending card. 8:35 a.m. — Back home. I make the same avocado toast meal from yesterday, ice my back, and do my hair and makeup. 9:30 a.m. — In the office. We get breakfast on Fridays and today is National Doughnut Day. I grab a maple old-fashioned. 10 a.m. — Text my brother happy birthday then email him an Amazon gift card. The power of the interwebs. $100 10:20 a.m. — Boss Man texts to say he's running late and needs a coffee from Peet’s. Off I go! I grab myself an iced coffee too and drink it during the car ride back to the office. 11:30 a.m. — My side hustle paycheck hits my account. Two paychecks in one week! I transfer all of it to my IRS fund. $227.24 12 p.m. — My brother texts me from Nordstrom, where he found the perfect Tumi wallet for our stepdad’s birthday. I Venmo him half of the cost, happy that I planned for his gift and this one in my budget this month. $55 12:30 p.m. — Lunch of hummus and pita from EAT Club. 4:30 p.m. — Grab a handful of Skittles from the kitchen after a stressful meeting. Stress eating candy is becoming a bad habit this week. 6:45 p.m. — Finally done with work! I need a new mouth guard to prevent me from grinding my teeth at night. Ironically, I broke my last one by grinding on it too hard. I find a deal for a pack of two at Walgreens and also spot a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich that I have to have because it's so hot outside. $26.62 8:30 p.m. — A few friends text me about going out for Friday night drinks. I pick up my bestie on the way to meet them in downtown Burlingame. At the bar, the others have already ordered and poured us glasses of Champagne! Love these girls! We catch up and order another bottle plus bar bites. I Venmo my friend for my portion at the end of the night. $28 12 a.m. — Home after a fun night out. I hop in the shower to wash away the day and then commence my night time skin regimen, which is very similar to the morning one. I just started using Vichy 3-in-1 Pureté Cleanser. It cleanses, tones, and removes makeup, so it's basically magic in a bottle. Out of the shower, I start with Vichy LiftActiv serum again and follow up with the REN Instant Firming Beauty Shot serum. After that dries, I apply Kale & Spinach Age Prevention Moisture Cream and lock in hydration with the Vichy Aqualia Thermal Night Spa. Voila! Daily Total: $436.86
8:30 a.m. — I crawl out of bed, stretch my back, and grab two ice packs. I lay on top of them for the next 30 minutes while watching
Sense8 on Netflix. Back pain is no joke. 9:30 a.m. — Make myself a cup of hot water with lemon while I get ready for my side job. I also order cold brew and an egg sandwich from Starbucks on my way into the office. I have a ton of gift cards still on the app. 10 a.m. — Grab my order and then walk next door to open up the office for the day. I started this weekend gig late last year to make more money for my debt snowball, but I actually kind of like it. I man the phones, greet clients, and help the agents with office tasks. It's a very chill job. If no one is in the office, I watch Netflix and catch up on personal tasks. 12 p.m. — Packed myself a Buddha bowl for lunch. I eat it while watching RHONY, my fave Housewives! 4 p.m. — I'm off work. On my way home, I stop by Habitat for Humanity ReStore to see if they have any nice pots; my patio needs some more color. I don’t find anything, but it's cool to finally check this place out. Back at home, my head and back are in major pain. I take a bunch of Advil, ice my back, and then chill in bed listening to a new podcast, Celestial Blood. It's kind of like a radionovela. 8:45 p.m. — Finally feeling normal again, I decide to eat something for dinner. The only things I have in the fridge are kale, egg whites, and zucchini. I'm not in the mood to eat this assortment of things, so I order pizza instead. I order my fave deep dish and garlic bread via DoorDash. $26.92 10:45 p.m. — Wash my face, do my skincare regimen, and go to bed. Daily Total: $26.92
7 a.m. — Wake up too early on a Sunday for my liking. I stretch a bit in bed, throw on some yoga pants and a hoodie, and head to my brother's apartment in San Francisco to help him move his mattress.
8 a.m. — It takes me less than 40 minutes to get to his place. He already went to Starbucks and got us iced lattes, so I'm in a good mood. We use every inch of the backseat and trunk in my little SUV to stash his full-size mattress. We send a selfie to our mom as proof of our tenacity, and 15 minutes later, we head back to my house. I'm storing his mattress at my place until he moves to back to LA for grad school. 10 a.m. — I open the office for the day, eat a protein bar, and munch on some Sugarfina rosé gummy bears my brother gave me as a thank you. 12:30 p.m. — Reheat the rest of the mini-pizza from last night. It's still delicious! I add a side of edamame for something green and FaceTime my mom so I can talk to my dog. My parents recently got a puppy and she doesn't do well when she's home alone, so they are “borrowing” my dog. They'll stay together as friends for the rest of the month until we figure out what to do next month. 4:15 p.m. — I'm finished with work and cruise over to Trader Joe’s. I am trying a new routine of only going grocery shopping two or three days at a time. I tend to waste too much food otherwise. I pick up a sweet potato, two apples, a pound of salmon, sprouts, one avocado, baby carrots, and a mini bag of chocolate toffee almonds for the car ride home. $17.59 6:15 p.m. — Meal prep dinner for tonight and the next two nights. I roast the salmon with zucchini and make two more Buddha bowls for the week. I also cut up fruit and veggies to have as snacks for tomorrow. Tonight, I'll eat some of the salmon. 9 p.m. — My hair feels really dry today, so I use a Briogeo Deep Conditioning Mask while I'm in the shower. When I wash my hair at night, I tend to leave it wet, in a bun while I sleep, and use a little bit of Bb Blow Dry serum on it before I blow it out in the morning. I also exfoliated my face tonight, so I apply a bit of Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum before my usual regimen to help with the dryness. I spend the rest of the night reading You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. She’s hilarious! Daily Total: $17.59
8 a.m. — I slept so well last night, for the first time in a long time. I get up, wash my face, and blow out my hair, spraying a little Oribe Royal Blowout to protect my hair from the heat. I make avocado toast and then finish my makeup while drinking more green tea.
9:45 a.m. — On my way to work. No Peet's stop this morning! 11:50 a.m. — Eat apple slices I brought from home. 12:20 p.m. — Another EAT Club lunch. Today I'm having a paleo Portobello bowl with tahini dressing, my fave. 3 p.m. — I have a massive headache, probably from the lack of caffeine. My boss tells me he forgot his lunch and is trapped in back-to-back meetings. I run downtown to grab him some food and end up parking in front of a new cookie shop. I grab his usual Indo-Chinese food down the street and then stop back at the cookie shop, where I buy a peanut buttercup cookie. Maybe it will help my headache? $1.60 7 p.m. — Back at home, where I eat a Buddha bowl from the meal I prepped the other night. It's delicious. I just discovered tahini and now I want to eat it on everything! 9 p.m. — Finish up about 45 minutes of work, then watch an hour-long Suze Orman video on YouTube. I love her story; it gets me super motivated about my current debt payoff plan. Too hyper to fall asleep, I make myself a cup of green tea and lemon, and then listen to a sleep story on Calm. I fall asleep barely 10 minutes into the story. Daily Total: $1.60
6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I can't seem to wake up. I watch the latest episode of
Southern Charm on my phone using my dad’s cable account. 7:30 a.m. — I brush my teeth and drive to another chiropractor appointment. The $25 goes on my flex spending card. 8:30 a.m. — Back home, I make egg whites with avocado toast and green tea. I then get ready for work. 11:50 a.m. — I get hungry again and eat a Tone It Up bar while working on expense reports. 12:35 p.m. — My EAT club lunch arrives but I’m not hungry enough for a full salad, so I put it in the fridge for tomorrow. I pop into the cookie shop and pick up cookies for a friend I’m seeing tonight. I buy a half-dozen and one for me to eat on the drive back to work. She pays me half on Venmo. $6 1:15 p.m. — I eat apple slices with nut butter from home and continue to work on expense reports. 4:30 p.m. — A new employee passes out ice cream bars to meet everyone in the office. Clever! 7:30 p.m. — Finally leave the office, and I still need to connect with my boss. I text him to call me on his way home and then drive to my friend's for dinner. 8 p.m. — My friend is an amazing cook and makes a taco feast. We eat dinner with her fiancé, catch up, and chat about our new jobs. She lets me borrow a few dresses for a wedding I have on Saturday. They try the cookies and are impressed. 9:30 p.m. — My boss finally calls me. We discuss a few things I need answers to for scheduling purposes, travel booking, and projects. 10:45 p.m. — Leave my friend's house and work for another hour and a half at home with a teammate in our Hong Kong office. Sometimes I have the strangest working hours.
Daily Total: $6
8 a.m. — Barely wake up after a late night of work. I'm still so tired, but I'm not ready to get out of bed yet so I watch
Below Deck Mediterranean on Bravo. 10 a.m. — On my way to the office, I mobile order a sweet cream cold brew and a chocolate croissant. I pay with a gift card. 12:45 p.m. — It’s go, go, go as soon as I get in. I have just enough time to eat a coconut Tone It Up bar from my purse before a 1 p.m. meeting. 2:20 p.m. — Meeting wrapped. I’m not hungry for yesterday's salad, so I grab a banana and a madeleine from the office kitchen. 7:20 p.m. — I leave the office and stop for gas on my way home. A colleague from Hong Kong calls just as I’m trying to parallel park. I schedule two more events with her and park without hitting anything. $10 7:40 p.m. — Realize I am out of avocado. I walk 10 minutes to Trader Joe's, where I immediately see the carton of black and white cookies out of the corner of my eye. Nothing worse than grocery shopping when you haven't eaten a real meal all day. I buy the cookies, an avocado, and a pint of coffee ice cream. $8.77 7:50 p.m. — Back home, I eat a cookie and then eat my last prepped Buddha bowl. 9:30 p.m. — An old friend from high school stops by to look at my apartment. Last week, my roommate told me that she is moving out at the end of the month, and I need to replace her ASAP. The guest likes the apartment but isn't sure about the commute. 10 p.m. — Boss Man texts to say there's a conflict on his schedule. We text back and forth for an hour until it's resolved. 12 a.m. — I finally wrap up work, email a few people from Craigslist about my apartment, and then watch another video on YouTube — this time, Oprah being interviewed by David Rubenstein. It's very inspiring. I make myself a cup of green tea with lemon and pass out while listening to another Calm app sleep story. These are magic! Daily Total: $18.77
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