5 Money Diaries: A Week In The U.S. On $40,000+ Salaries

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.

We previously looked at how women earning $30,000 spent their money. Today, we follow five women making in the $40,000-$49,000 salary range. Some are hitting the bars, others are saving aggressively in school; some are educators, others work in finance. Here is what managing money looks like for them.

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.

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First up: a financial advisor who makes $48,168 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a beret and new dresses from ASOS.

Occupation: Financial Advisor
Industry: Finance
Age: 27
Location: Philadelphia, PA (Fishtown)
Salary: $48,168
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,827
Nannying Gig: $360/month. (I earn $15/hour, and nanny 12 hours/week, every other week.)

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,275. It can be expensive, but I absolutely love living alone, the apartment itself, and the fact that I have garage parking in the city.
Loan Payments: $0. I'm lucky to have had my parents pay for my college education.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Spotify: $10
Netflix: Free, I use my mom's account.
Utilities: $70 on average
Cable & Internet: None. I don't have cable and use free Wi-Fi via my parents' cable company.
Gym: $60
Composting: $15/month. I get a bucket and pick it up weekly to distribute to local farms.
Health Insurance: $30 deducted from each paycheck pre-tax
401(k): $180 deducted from each paycheck pre-tax.
Phone & Transportation: My parents take care of my phone bill and tolls back and forth from the city. I hope to be able to take care of these things on my own, but while they're happily willing to take care of them, I'll happily accept.

Day One



8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I do a 30-second meditation before getting out of bed. I hop in the shower and make the pilgrimage over the bridge to work. After arriving, I grab a free, but not-so-great, cup of coffee and longingly look forward to lunch. I eat a couple of almonds to keep me from an early demise.

11:30 a.m. — I eat the Greek salad I prepared last night with homemade croutons. Minutes after, I'm hungry again and am disappointed to hear that we don't have a lunch today. (Almost every day, we have either breakfast or lunch provided to us by mutual fund wholesalers, hoping to steer us to offer their product to clients.) I try to get to the meetings as they can be educational and there's a lot to learn about the world of finance. I remember that I owe a friend money for an upcoming trip to Hunk-O-Mania for a bachelorette party and Venmo her. $45

2 p.m. — During a break in my day, I purchase a phone case on Amazon. I have a small identity crisis (is my aesthetic artsy and minimal or free-spirited and whimsical?), but settle on a clear case. $11.27

5:45 p.m. — After getting home from work, I nibble on leftovers and walk to the gym for a barre class. I can never bring myself to work out in the weight area but I love the classes they offer. They're challenging and I never regret doing them. I utilize the hydro-massage chair and trek home to get ready for a date.

8:30 p.m. — I jump in an Uber ($8.62) and head to another part of the city for a Tinder date. Before meeting in person, I Google him and find out that he used to play for the Dallas Cowboys (what?). I pretend not to know that piece of information and we have a few drinks; he pays. I end up having a fun time and am stoked that he's more approachable — and even better looking — than he was online. I Uber home ($8.33). $16.95

Daily Total: $73.22

Day Two



8 a.m. — I wake up grateful that I only had two drinks last night and excited for the upcoming weekend. I shower and muscle through Philadelphia traffic. After getting to work, I make myself a piece of toast with bread I stow in the freezer and help myself to coffee. Since it's a slow day, I start working on a speech for a friend's upcoming conversion/bat mitzvah ceremony. Mazel tov.

12 p.m. — My dad and I work together as business partners, and one (of the many) perks is that he's an amazing cook and often brings in leftovers. Today, it's a roast in a red wine sauce and butternut squash risotto. I know, I'm spoiled. I dip into the office candy jars and tell myself this will stop me from buying one of the $12 artisanal ice cream concoctions that are too common in my neighborhood. I'm in two weddings in the next two months, and need to save money where I can.

1:15 p.m. — As I scroll though Facebook, I notice a friend is raising money for an event she's participating in that benefits children with autism. This tugs at my heartstrings since I've worked with this population in the past and know the challenges they can face. I donate $10 and elect to pay the $1.09 transaction fee. I also see that Football Stud from last night has texted me about grabbing dinner at an Italian BYOB this Saturday. I excitedly agree. $11.09

4 p.m. — The office is super quiet, so I sneak out and begin my weekend. Before heading back to Philadelphia, I stop at my grandfather's nursing home to visit him for a bit. I absolutely love seeing his face light up when he sees one of our family members arrive. The home is having a happy hour complete with donuts and boxed wine. I grab him a cup of red and an éclair. I wheel him outside so we can chat and enjoy the crisp fall air. I leave 45 minutes later with all the good feels.

6:45 p.m. — A friend is photographing another friend at a cool cemetery in West Philly and asks me to come along. We goof around while the photog snaps awesome shots. After, we're hungry and grab Mexican food and margaritas at a nearby restaurant, where we decide to be adventurous and try pig ear tacos. The food is awesome but super filling and a bit pricey. By the time we finish, it's around 9:30 p.m. and we decide to head back to Fishtown and retire for the evening. $46.20

Daily Total: $57.29

Day Three



9:30 a.m. — I take advantage of my higher-than-usual energy level for a Saturday morning and walk over to a class at my gym. This time, I do body pump, a more intense class with high-reps of weight lifting. It's tough but I feel great after. It's also inspiring to watch myself and other people who take the class get stronger and push themselves more each week.

12 p.m. — After showering and cleaning my apartment for a bit, a close friend texts me to say that her new boyfriend is in town from New York and she wants to us all to get together. I happily oblige, as I haven't gotten the chance to get to know him yet. She suggests a new Colombian place that just opened nearby. I'm excited for the company and because I haven't eaten anything yet today. She orders a quiche for the table and I order a delicious egg and plantain dish. We sip on Bloody Marys and have a great time. He's even kind enough to pick up the bill. This chap has my stamp of approval.

3 p.m. — I hang out on my couch, smoke a bit of weed to get the creative juices flowing, and start sketching out ideas for a new embroidery project. (I've been drawing and sewing pieces inspired by 40s burlesque photography.) I work on this for a bit, put on a bentonite face mask, and get ready for my date tonight.

7:30 p.m. — I Uber over to an adorable Italian BYOB ($8.33) that football stud chose. The wine, food, and company end up being phenom and he insists on paying. He walks me out as I wait for my Uber ($8.62) and kisses me goodnight. I leave with butterflies and gush to my Uber driver about this. (Why do I feel like Uber drivers are my fairy godparents after I've had a few drinks?) I go to bed early because I have a full day tomorrow. $16.95

Daily Total: $16.95

Day Four



9:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for the Buddy Walk, an annual event to raise money and awareness for the Down syndrome community. This year will be bittersweet, as I am walking in memory of a close friend's sister, who had Down syndrome and passed away this year after losing a battle with cancer. I end up having an awesome day at the walk, hanging out and celebrating L.'s legacy with new and old friends. I grab a complimentary pretzel and a water at a tent before heading home.

1 p.m. — I get back into the city and meet a close friend for brunch. I get a tuna burger and a coffee and my bill comes to $20.83. My friend wants to have a gals' day on the town and I oblige since I've had a pretty tame weekend thus far. We grab pickled watermelon margaritas and flan at a cool Mexican spot in town ($15.98). Then we head to a dive bar close by for some pool, Megatouch, and cheap beers ($14.53). $51.34

6 p.m. — After turning down an invitation from a complete stranger to do drugs at his apartment, we decide it's time to head out. Another friend agrees to cook us dinner if we bring the supplies. We walk to a nearby market and grab tri-tip, green beans, mushrooms, and onion ($26.57). We head to his house, smoke some weed, and have a fun time cooking dinner together and goofing around. We watch Get Out and an episode of Rick and Morty. I head home around 11 and pass out quickly — partly because of all the steak, mostly because of the marijuana. $26.57

Daily Total: $77.91

Day Five



9:15 a.m. — I get into work a bit late today, oops. I'm still full from our feast last night, so I'll wait until lunch to eat. My dad and I catch up with each other over coffee. My parents have a house in Puerto Rico that sustained minor damages from the recent hurricane. I check in with a few friends and hear that the damage has been pretty bad around the town. I can't imagine losing my home — or worse, my family members — as many people have. I make a mental note to find a reputable site to donate aid for victims when I get paid on Friday.

12:15 p.m. — I'm happy to see there's free lunch today! I help myself to chicken parm, steamed broccoli, green beans, and cheese tortellini. I put Caesar salad on the side and top it with Trader Joe's Green Goddess dressing that I keep stashed in the fridge. I notice that my skin is looking a bit drier than usual, so I drink a larger cup of water and vow to take my multivitamins.

2 p.m. — As much as I want to go home and eat ice cream on my couch (thank you, Aunt Flo), I resist the cupcake and cookie landmines throughout my office and opt for another coffee. Football Stud asks to hang out again tomorrow (!!), so I invite him to my part of town and start mentally planning an agenda for us. I also sign up for a late body pump class tonight, so I have time to chill for a bit after work.

4:30 p.m. — After almonds, two cookies, and a fun-size Twix, I finish working on a few retirement plans and then head home. On the way, I fill up my gas tank. $30.69

6:30 p.m. — After getting home, I clean a bit and half-watch American Horror Story on Netflix. I prepare peanut tofu and veggies with a side of lime-coconut cauliflower rice. It ends up being delicious and I pack some to bring to work tomorrow. I go out to eat very often, so when I'm home, I try to prepare healthier, vegetable-based dishes. After eating, I change and stroll over to the gym for body pump class.

8:45 p.m. — After getting home and showering, I watch more AHS and text back and forth with Football Hunk. He seems sweet and I'm excited to hang with him tomorrow. A Greek man I met on Bumble a week or two ago comes out of the woodwork and asks me to grab drinks next week and I agree. (Cue “It's Raining Men”.) I go upstairs and read for a bit before meditating and going to bed.

Daily Total: $30.69

Day Six



7:45 a.m. — I wake up with major cramps — time to drink a lot of water and pop an Ibuprofen. I shower, grab my leftovers, and head into work. Traffic sucks today but my Spotify Discover playlist helps me get though. After settling in at my desk, I peruse ASOS and purchase a few dresses for my upcoming birthday, one dress for work, and a beret. (I'm a sucker for a cool hat.) I order more than I plan on keeping, but am excited to see what the clothes look like when they arrive. Before I order anything online, I always check RetailMeNot for coupons. I find one that takes 10% off my order; heck yeah! $224.54

12:45 p.m. — After chatting with my mom for a bit, I warm up a TJ's paneer lunch. It's not great but it's filling. I save my peanut tofu meal for dinner since I'm nannying tonight and won't get home until 7:30. I'm having serious chocolate cravings due to my period and I manage find a Ghirardelli hot chocolate package in the depths of my desk drawer. I ignore the fact that it probably expired during the Neolithic Era and happily drink it.

2:30 p.m. — I drink a cup of coffee and get ready to head to my part-time nanny gig. Three days a week, every other week, I nanny for a single dad with two kids, ages 14 and 10. It makes for a long day but the pay is great, I love the kids, and I've realized that the only way that I can afford to pay rent, travel, and have the social life I want is to pick up another job.

5 p.m. — After picking up the kids from school, I make them snacks; they play games and chat with their friends on their iPads. I'm happy to see their dad left me the $180 he owed me from the prior week. I convince the boy to step away from the screen long enough for us to play Monopoly. I grab some hummus and pita chips from the pantry before heading home at 7.

8:15 p.m. — I take an Uber ($7.08) to meet Football Stud at an upscale, trendy cocktail bar near my house. He really likes it and we have a great time. We order a few cocktails and split two very good pasta dishes; he pays. My friend is working at a bar close by, so we go to hang out with her there. They get along well and she tells me she likes him. I pay for our margaritas and tacos ($80.00 including tip). He has work at 6 a.m. the next day so I walk him out to his Uber around 12. We make tentative plans to hang out on Sunday. $87.08

12:30 a.m. — My friend gets off from work; since I took the day off from my finance job tomorrow and don't have to be at my nannying gig until 3, I tell her I'll go out for drinks with her. We go to our favorite dive bar and order beers with two of our guy friends ($15.50). We decide to grab beers at a different bar nearby and then head to another friend's house to play Cards Against Humanity. We hang out in his living room until I grab an Uber home at 4:30. Oy! $23.82

Daily Total: $335.44

Day Seven



10:30 a.m. — I wake up a bit groggy (read, hungover) but so glad to have the day off. I group text a few friends and we decide to meet at our favorite noodle bar at 12. I sip on a Gatorade and text Football Stud a bit. I think I may see if he wants to go hiking at a nearby park on Sunday.

12 p.m. — I meet everyone at the restaurant and order green tea and a whisky drink. We order a few appetizers. I don't think this place has a bad dish on the menu. I go with the miso ramen and it's amazing; just what the doctor ordered. We pay and I head home to nap before nannying. $35

3 p.m. — I pick up the kids from school, bring them home, and nibble on my miso ramen leftovers while I prepare their snacks. Their dad texts to tell me that their grandparents are coming by at 5 p.m., so I can leave then instead of at 7!

5:15 p.m. — I stop at CVS on my way home and grab Ibuprofen, an Honest Tea, tampons, and deodorant. I've been toying with the idea of getting a dog, so I text a friend to see if she wants to go to the shelter with me to check some out. She shares the exciting news that she's gotten a new job offer and would love to come and grab a celebratory drink after. I pick her up after getting back into the city. $28.25

7:30 p.m. — I don't end up with a pup, but I do get to play with a few adorable little ones and feel good about giving them some time out of their room at the shelter. My friend and I walk over to a nearby bar and grab cocktails (I order a Dark and Stormy, yum). We start with truffle popcorn and split a burger and a buffalo chicken sandwich; both are delicious. We split the tab before separating. She's meeting her brother, who is actually my ex-boyfriend. He and I are in a weird spot, so I just drop her off and go home. I'm happy to watch Real Housewives of Orange County on my couch and go to sleep. $29

Daily Total: $92.25
#2: a housing case manager who makes $42,700 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on tapas.

Editor's Note: This has been updated to include the cost of housing.

Occupation: Housing Case Manager
Industry: Homelessness Social Services
Age: 24
Location: Seattle
Salary: $42,700
Paycheck (2x/month): ~$1,300, sometimes more depending on hours
Yoga Teaching: ~ $70-$105/month. I teach two or three yoga classes each month, and am paid $35/class. (I get free yoga classes as well!) Teaching is very new to me, so this amount varies each month.

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $750 to split a one-bedroom apartment with my boyfriend. (Total cost is $1,500.)
Student Loan Payments: $268. I'm on the standard repayment plan. I graduated two years ago and owe $27,000.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Insurance: $88. I split the full cost, $176, evenly with my boyfriend. I'm a new driver —only got my license a year ago — which is why this is so high. However, we are looking into getting cheaper coverage elsewhere.
Utilities: ~$64
ORCA Card: $10 taken out of my paycheck once a month for an unlimited bus/train pass. My job pays for the rest.
Union Dues: $24.64 per paycheck
Health Insurance: $10.52 per paycheck (work subsidizes the rest)
Dental Insurance: $0.94 per paycheck (work subsidizes the rest)
Vision Insurance: $4.26 per paycheck (work subsidizes the rest)
Netflix: $0. My brother pays.
Cell Phone: $0. I'm on the family plan.
Spotify: $9.99
Savings: $500 - $700/month

Day One



7 a.m. — Wake up and blearily stare at my phone for a few minutes, a habit I tell myself I'll break every morning, but never do. After finally rolling out of bed, I cuddle with my cat for a little, feed him, and put the kettle on to boil and almond milk in a pan for oatmeal. While my oats cook and the water boils, I put away dishes and chop strawberries. I eat breakfast (oats cooked in almond milk with strawberries on top and black tea with cream) while reading the news. I always linger over breakfast a bit too long and have to dash out the door for the bus; today is no exception.

8:30 a.m. — Settle in at my desk. Today promises to be a busy day; my coworker called out sick and I'll be responsible for keeping her appointments as well as my own. We have two new staff members but they are still in training. I chat with them while answering emails and waiting for my clients to show up.

12:30 p.m. — Lunch time! I dig into the food I brought from home (spinach topped with quinoa, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, and feta). I drink some of the pomegranate white tea I keep in a stash at my desk and browse the internet.

3 p.m. — After a busy morning, work is quiet. I sip on the pu-erh tea my coworker kindly shares and eat an apple.

5 p.m. — Out of work. I've been stuck indoors all day and walk into what is a shockingly beautiful autumn afternoon. On my bus ride home, I stare out the window at the sunlight and shadows on the houses and feel strangely joyful for a Monday evening. Once I get home, I take my cat outside (my boyfriend and I have been leash training him), eat two slices of toast with butter, and head out to yoga class. I get unlimited free classes at the yoga studio I teach at, which is awesome. I'm also paid $35/class that I teach.

7:45 p.m. — Back at home, my boyfriend and I fix dinner together. He roasted cauliflower and sweet potato in the oven while I was at yoga, and we have it over pasta with grated parmesan and a very seasonal block of cinnamon Toscano from Trader Joe's. We make enough for each of us to bring as lunch tomorrow. He leaves to go out for bar trivia with friends, and I stay in and make carrot-chia pudding mixed with almond and coconut milks, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. I dole it out into little jars that my boyfriend and I can bring for lunches over the next few days.

10 p.m. — I put on a rose clay mask and try to get some homework done. I'm taking an online economics and public policy class about global poverty to prepare for grad school (which I plan to apply for within the next couple years). The class just started and I'm feeling nervous about doing well. I manage to get through a couple lecture videos before I start to get too sleepy.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two



7 a.m. — I wake up to the infuriating noise of my cat munching on the plant beside my bed (something he only does when he wants attention), just one minute before my alarm goes off. He gets his way, and I get out of bed. I make the same breakfast as yesterday.

10:30 a.m. — Work is very quiet, and to stave off boredom, I go to the cafeteria and buy a small coffee and a glazed donut. My job is a study in contrasts: I'm either running around and furiously trying to get someone into housing or soothing a frantic client, or nothing. I don't mind the quiet moments, but I do wish the work could be spread out more evenly. $2.70

12:30 p.m. — I eat my leftover pasta outside with my coworkers. It's so nice out! We commiserate about post-undergrad struggles. When I get back to my desk, I make a cup of ginger tea from my stash.

5:30 p.m. — Once I get home from work, I have to hustle to get back out the door. Tonight, I have a figure modeling gig at an art studio downtown. I've been modeling for artists and art classes since college; I love the creative, freeing atmosphere and the extra change in my pocket. I make a quick dinner of spinach-bean-cheese quesadillas on corn tortillas and top them with salsa verde.

6:30 p.m. — I have time to run a few errands before getting to the studio. I park on the street and pay $1.50 for 20 minutes. First, I exchange a pair of tights at Urban Outfitters; next, I pop into the grocery store next door to buy household supplies we are desperately in need of. My boyfriend and I will split the cost of the toilet paper, paper towels, and toothpaste since I pay with a card linked to our joint account. I also buy contact solution and cotton swabs on my personal card. Errands complete, I drive to the art studio and park right outside. I'm cutting it close to the time the drawing session starts, and the parking pay machine is just not accepting my card. I give up, utter a quick prayer to the parking gods that I will not find a ticket when I return, and run inside. $31.80

10:30 p.m. — Drawing class successfully over, and, even better, no ticket! I drive home and go straight to bed. I'm exhausted; figure modeling is basically a three-hour extended work-out.

Daily Total: $34.50

Day Three



7:45 a.m. — I sleep in a bit because I have a meeting downtown, and then make myself a more lavish breakfast of chicken sausage, a fried egg, and two slices of toast. I make a small bowl of strawberries and black tea with cream on the side, and as usual have to run out the door to catch my bus. I'm looking forward to the meeting; it's a case-conference of multiple agencies where we discuss clients' housing needs more in depth.

12 p.m. — Case-conference meeting all done. I go to one of my favorite cafés afterwards and get a small latte and almond croissant. It's pricey, but I consider it a little treat to myself for hauling my impossibly heavy computer bag all over the city this morning. I send a couple of emails while inhaling the croissant. Once I'm getting ready to leave, I realize that I just missed my bus and another one won't come for a half-hour, so I eat half the salad I brought from home. It tastes great after the sticky-sweet croissant. $10.13

5:30 p.m. — Back at home, I spend almost an hour playing with my cat and snacking on an apple and a piece of peanut butter toast. I love my cat, but he's very energetic and requires a lot of attention. We play fetch (he loves to fetch) and do more leash training. I make a cup of chai and turn my attention to my online class.

7:30 p.m. — My boyfriend comes home and makes dinner while I continue to do homework. He makes an amazing pizza with apricot jam, chicken sausage, sweet potato, asiago, and goat cheese. We both agree it's the best homemade pizza we've had. While eating, we watch a few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

10:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed and get my work bag ready. I have high hopes to get up extra early for morning yoga and am hoping I'll follow through.

Daily Total: $10.13

Day Four



7:15 a.m. — I don't get up for early morning yoga, which is not surprising. I make scrambled eggs and toast with black tea. We are out of half-and-half, so I add a dash of almond milk to my tea. I have another meeting first thing in the morning, and I'm facilitating it, so am feeling a little apprehensive. I leave in time to walk the mile to the meeting site.

11 a.m. — Everything goes well! Our department shared updates and received news about a new and very helpful-sounding resource to pass along to clients. I walk to the bus stop; the bus isn't coming for half an hour, so I buy a chai and an everything bagel with cream cheese. I sit in the café patio and eat while reading The New York Times on my phone $6.22

12:30 p.m. — Once I get back to work, I sit outside with my coworkers and eat lunch (the second half of my salad from yesterday, an apple, and lots of water). A coworker who, like myself, is a recent transplant from an East Coast city remarks that the pizza she is eating isn't good, and we both agree that it's difficult to find decent cheap pizza in Seattle.

6 p.m. — I'm starving when I get home and quickly eat a bowl of cereal with almond milk to tide me over until my boyfriend gets back home and we can start dinner. I do some work for my class.

7:30 p.m. — Boyfriend is back and we make spaghetti with tomato sauce, olives, and capers. We are sure to make enough for lunches tomorrow, too. The rest of the evening is spent doing work for our separate studies.

10:30 p.m. — I start reading The Haunting of Hill House before calling it a night.

Daily Total: $6.22

Day Five



7 a.m. — The only thing motivating me to get out bed this morning, apart from the fact that it's Friday, is the thought of breakfast. Although I do love autumn, the resurgence of dark mornings is not my thing. I eat two slices of toast with avocado and spinach on top and a mug of coffee with a splash of almond milk “pumpkin spice beverage.” I'll admit I've become a willing participant of the autumn pumpkin craze.

8:30 a.m. — I'm hit with the immediate need for a warm, comforting drink when I get into work, so I make pu-erh tea and add almond milk to it to take an edge off the bitterness.

12 p.m. — My coworkers and I eat lunch outside as usual. I have my warmed-up spaghetti leftovers. It's chilly out, and we wonder where we will eat when the winter comes. Our depressing office space is a no-go, for sure. When I'm back inside, I get as cozy as one can at a desk with a mug of pomegranate white tea from my stash.

2 p.m. — The day is dragging; both my clients are no-shows for their appointments today, which makes me sad. I eat an apple and listen to podcasts while keeping an eye on my email and the phone. Later, I pick up a big security deposit check on behalf of a client; I'll drop it off to the property manager on Monday when I perform a housing inspection.

5 p.m. — Out of work and off to yoga! I drop my bag off at home, change and grab my yoga mat, and drive to the studio. I pay 25 cents for parking (the meters end at 6 p.m.) and gladly enter the studio. Ending my work week with a challenging, heated vinyasa class is one of my favorite things to do. $0.25

7 p.m. — Class was great and I am starving. I drive home, change back into non-yoga clothes, and then the BF and I head to a tapas bar. We try to go out for dinner in different parts of the city once a month.

9:30 p.m. — The tapas were amazing, and we felt very fancy. I foot the bill. Usually, we split our dinner date costs, but my boyfriend is a poor grad student and today was payday for me, so I'm feeling lavish. $62

10 p.m. — Herbal tea and more of The Haunting of Hill House before bed.

Daily Total: $62.25

Day Six



8 a.m. — Up early and feeling very enthusiastic about my day. Much to my boyfriend's tired annoyance, I'm a huge morning person. I make a cup of oolong tea, a smoothie (açai, mango, spinach, almond milk, and yogurt), throw a load of laundry in the wash, and do work for class.

11 a.m. — Boyfriend and I journey out. First, we return an expensive light bulb we purchased over a month ago; they miraculously accept it without questions. (The money, $21, goes back into our joint account. We visit the pet store nearby and buy our ever-spoiled cat new toys and a new litter scooper that promises to not break under the weight of his poop. (Side eye at his old one.) We pay from our joint account. $7.50

11:30 a.m. — We hop across the street to a new bakery that just opened. I buy a savory danish (ham and cheese) and a coffee. It's too good. $6

3:30 p.m. — I've been working all day on my classwork and feel overloaded with economics, but now I'm finished! We haven't eaten since our bakery outing, so BF makes us chicken sandwiches (avocado, onions, and tomato on top) and we watch an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

5 p.m. — Time to teach a yoga class! I pay $1 for parking and let myself into the studio. I have no idea what I'll be teaching. Since I'm still a very new teacher, this is not advisable, and I'm facing class with resigned trepidation $1

6:30 p.m. — Class went well! I close the studio and drive to Whole Foods. We aren't in need of a huge grocery run yet, but it would be good to restock on fresh fruits and veggies. I buy a pomegranate, grapes, kale, a huge tub of mixed greens, half and half, almond milk, brown sugar, bread, dish soap, cilantro, and a cucumber. This will all go onto the joint account. $16

6:30 p.m. — I also buy myself new mascara, shampoo, and conditioner. I'm very picky about using all-natural products, hence the bigger price. $28.87

8:30 p.m. — I'm feeling cozy and make a batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies while sipping on tea. I do some yoga, read, journal, and go to bed at midnight.

Daily Total: $59.37

Day Seven



8:30 a.m. — Boyfriend and I are up and ready quickly this morning; the day's plan is to go to Rainier National Park and go for an autumn hike. We make a big breakfast of fried eggs with green peppers, onions, chicken sausage, and toast, and pack snacks (grapes and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies). A friend meets us at our apartment and we all clamber into the car and set out. Before getting on the highway, we stop at a supermarket for pre-made sandwiches. I buy both my boyfriend's and my own and a large bottle of extra water. $11.63

11:30 a.m. — We're at the park, but the trails are super snowy. It's glittery and beautiful but seems strange to see snow so early in the season. We are totally underdressed for this and end up driving for an hour longer than expected looking for a manageable trail; we eat all our snacks in frustration.

4 p.m. — After completing a three-mile loop, we head back to the city. On the way, we stop at a state forest and do another short 1.5-mile loop hike.

5:45 p.m. — Everyone is hungry, and we stop at a Mexican restaurant my boyfriend swears will blow us away. I get a carnitas enchilada that comes with cheesy refried beans and rice. He's right; it's really good, especially after a long day outdoors. $12.82

7:30 p.m. — Home, and not too late, either! Our cat is happy ... and hungry.

9:30 p.m. — After showering and lunch prepping for tomorrow, boyfriend and I get cozy on the couch with tea and cookies. We watch an episode of Last Week Tonight, read, and go to bed.

Daily Total: $24.45
Today: an aquatic biologist who makes $40,500 per year. This week, she spends some of her money buying plants for her garden.

Occupation: Aquatic Biologist
Industry: Environmental Nonprofit
Age: 30
Location: Central Coast, CA
Salary: $40,500
Paycheck (Biweekly): $1,177

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $475 for rent and utilities. I live with my boyfriend and one roommate; my boyfriend owns our house. We split a room, and I pay the going rate in our area for rent (no girlfriend discounts).
Loans: $0. I paid off $18,000 in student loans quickly thanks to two AmeriCorps scholarships. I've also paid off my $12,000 car payment.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Gas: $100
Cell Phone: $55 (after $25 reimbursed by work)
Pet Care: $50. The dog is mine, so I pay all things dog related. (Food, treats, daycare, vet.) We also have a cat, but she is technically my boyfriends. (I steal all the snuggles, he pays for her things.)
Savings: $250 into a Roth IRA. I'm trying to max it out at the end of the year. I occasionally transfer money over into a personal investment account, but I don't understand the stock market enough to do much there. I don't set a goal on monthly savings accounts, but most months I have about $400 left over.
Health Insurance: $0. It is free for me (provided by work), but I don't have dental or vision.

Day One



6 a.m. — Drink a mug of espresso while making pour over coffee to-go, mix up berries and oatmeal, and grab the granola I made a few weeks ago for breakfast. Lunch will be leftovers — a sweet potato-tofu dish and stir fry from last night. I take the dog for a walk and then leave for work.

8 a.m. — First day back after a few days off. Email and catch up with my boss while eating oatmeal and combing through my emails.

12:45 p.m. — It's one of those days when I don't know what I've accomplished, but somehow it's lunch time. We are in the research phase of a project, so I'm doing a lot of internet research and reading through journals to see what information is out there.

2:15 p.m. — Leave work to head to a doctor's appointment. I got an IUD a month ago and need to get my strings checked. I see a different doctor than who put it in, and she asks me why I decided to get an IUD. I tell her because of the president. She looks up from my chart and replies, "That asshole" — one of the many reasons I really like this doctor's office. All is well, so I leave and pay the copay. Unforeseen dental expenses this year means I've used up my FSA, so this one is out of pocket. $20

3 p.m. — Stop by the store for bell pepper, Portobello mushrooms, apples, three cans of canned beans, bread, almond milk, soy milk, chai tea, and non-dairy cheese. (I usually budget $225 for food each month.) I eat plantain chips leftover from my road trip during the drive home. $26.11

4 p.m. — I usually take a spin class on Wednesdays, but I miss my dog and garden and have to work late tomorrow. If I skip gardening, the zucchinis may get fed up and come after us in our sleep.

6 p.m. — After a few hours of dog walking, gardening, and doggy play/training, I make soup with veggies from the garden. Boyfriend, T., spends the evening fixing a dying fridge. We catch up for a few minutes before I kick him out so I can go to sleep.

Daily Total: $46.11

Day Two



6:30 a.m. — I get to sleep in today because of a late work event. Make espresso, a pour over, get lunch together (soup and apples), and take the dog for a long walk. After I get back, I make a smoothie for breakfast (homemade soy yogurt, pea protein powder, frozen berries, bananas, kale, and beets). All the fruit and veggies are from the garden. I grab the chai tea I bought yesterday on my way out.

8:30 a.m. — I get to work and try to catch up on emails before our interns come in for their first day. I did this same program a few years ago and enjoy getting to work with new members now, even if it is just for a few days each month. I take them on a site tour, which including hiking, and then train them on some of the fieldwork they'll be doing with us.

12 p.m. — Interns are gone. I eat lunch and read through grant reports.

2 p.m. — Leave work a few hours to avoid dipping into overtime since I'll be working tonight. I've been obsessing about getting a dedicated emergency kit prepared, and decide to head into town for a few hours to get a flu shot, and to start stocking the kit. I have an arsenal of equipment and want to be prepared if I'm trapped at home for some reason. The importance of having a grab-and-go kit has hit me over these last few months, especially with the terrible fires in Sonoma County. I am halfway to town when I realize I forgot my purse in my work truck, which my field tech now has out in the field where he'll be unreachable for about an hour. I call him but he doesn't pick up. I can't do anything without my purse, so I decide to go read and nap at the beach. It's very windy, so I stay in my car and have a glorious time there instead.

3:30 p.m. — I eventually track the field tech down but don't have time to go to the store for the emergency kit. Instead, I go to the ATM to withdraw cash for the kit. (Who has cash on hand nowadays?) I meant to take out $100, but I hit the button for $80 by accident. The town I work in doesn't have a lot of vegetarian food options, so I go to the grocery store and get a cheap baguette and hummus for a quasi-dinner ($5.05). $85.05

9:15 p.m. — Work event is over. It went pretty well, but giving presentations to the community is a little stressful. I am exhausted, and getting home this late is always a bummer. I make tea and collapse into bed after spending a few minutes chatting with my boyfriend and giving the dog belly rubs. (T. walked her tonight.) Watch a little TV before turning off the light.

Daily Total: $85.05

Day Three



6:15 a.m. — I thought about going to work late today because of last night, but I would rather get off at my normal time, especially since it's Friday. I settle for about 15 minutes later than usual. My job is super flexible and everyone sets their own schedules. Same routine as yesterday.

7:45 a.m. — I have a meeting at 9, so I start the day at the local community college where I have lab space, around the corner from my meeting location. I work on paperwork and go through emails because there won't be enough time to process any samples.

9 a.m. — Turns out the meeting is actually at 10, which I discover after I arrive. Grr. The new interns are there, so I decide that an hour of getting to know them better counts as work. They are new to the area, and we have fun talking about different local stuff to do before I head to the meeting. It runs LONG, but we go over plans for a restoration project, and I help lead a field tour of the restoration site. It's a gorgeous day and I can't complain about a nice hike along a creek.

12:30 p.m. — Get to my office and respond to volunteers who are coming to help us on a big field effort in a few weeks. I eat lunch and log onto Mint to reclassify expenses from my trip as travel. I add up how much I spent on the trip ($275), and transfer that amount from my travel savings account to my credit card. (I made all these purchases last week.) This year, I decided to open a separate savings account (Ally for high interest!) and put travel money for the year into it. After each trip, I add up how much I spent and transfer that from the travel account over to my credit card, where I put all my purchases.

2:20 p.m. — I take a break and check Facebook, and I see lost and found animals from the Sonoma fires all over my feed. I used to live in Sonoma County; I have friends and family currently up there. The photos of animals injured in the fires are too much and make me want to go home and cuddle with my dog and cat. I click over to the Sonoma County Animal Services and make a $50 donation. The fires are so scary and my cousins' workplace burned down, but luckily all my friends and family are safe and still have homes. $50

5:30 p.m. — A visiting researcher stops by at the end of the day and I end up staying a little late talking with her about some of my work. By the time I make it home, I have a scratchy throat and a headache. I'm hoping to get ahead of this before it turns into a full blown cold. I take a quick nap before taking my dog for a walk and checking on the garden. Make zucchini fritters for dinner.

10 p.m. — T. and I spend the evening watching Netflix before I call it an early night and pass out. Whee, Fridays!

Daily Total: $50

Day Four



10:15 a.m. — Despite setting an alarm for 8, I wake up in a sleep hangover after 12 hours of being out. Drink some coffee and head out for a short run with the dog. Unfortunately, it's close to 80 degrees outside, so we don't make it far and walk most of the way back. Both of us should live in Alaska instead; utter heat wimps, we are. I'm not currently training for any races, so don't feel too guilty about bailing on a longer run.

2:30 p.m. — Spend the morning annoyed about the heat; it's now 95 degrees. I deep clean the kitchen and last about five minutes working in the garden before retreating inside.

3:30 p.m. — T. decides to go to a beer festival with a coworker, but I'm taking a breather from alcohol and decide not to join them. I drive him over to the venue and go to the hardware store after to look at plants. I go in with the goals of buying broccoli starts and milkweed seeds, and leave with milkweed seeds (for butterflies — so basically for the sake of humanity), kohlrabi seeds (for something new to grow), clover seeds (cover crop), and rosemary — but no broccoli. Could be worse, but I still need broccoli. (Gardening is a huge hobby for me.) $10.61

4 p.m. — Decide to see if Marshall's has anything good. I no longer have jeans that fit or that don't have holes in unfortunate places. I despise the whole skinny jeans and jegging trend, but I've accepted that I can't wait it out. My area doesn't have a lot of clothing stores — Marshall's and Target are pretty much all there is — and that combined with my hatred of clothes shopping means I've been living in hiking pants and running shorts the last year. I end up finding two pairs of jeans and a two-pack of hiking socks. The pants cost more than I like spending and I almost put one pair back, but rewind to the "jeans that don't fit or have holes" thing. I used to live in an area with great thrift stores where I could buy great pants for $5. Buying new clothes is rough! $67.10

5:20 p.m. — It's finally cooling down, so I decide to walk over to the beer festival with the dog and walk back with my boyfriend and his coworker. They're drunk and funny, and the two-mile walk is nice after being inside all day. We all hang out for a few hours while his coworker waits for his wife to come pick him up. They leave, and I make a Portobello mushroom sandwich and roasted potatoes for dinner. Boyfriend continues to drink and gets funnier as the night progresses. He lasts until about 9:30, but I stay up a little longer watching TV.

Daily Total: $77.71

Day Five



9:30 a.m. — This is just not my weekend to be productive, but clearly I need to catch up on sleep. I make coffee, take the dog for a walk, and spend some time meal planning for the week.

11 a.m. — Head to Trader Joe's and buy carrots, baby spinach, apples, bananas, garbanzo beans, jackfruit, pasta, two packages of gnocchi, turmeric, tofu, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, plantain chips, apple cider vinegar, and balsamic vinegar. I realize I haven't eaten yet and open one of the plantain chips. The sweet ones aren't as good as the savory ones. $34.16

12 p.m. — Meal-prep time. Make a new batch of soy yogurt and then start on tikka masala and pumpkin pasta. I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with from the garden, and tofu tikka masala has become one of my favorite ways to use them. I grew a lot of baking pumpkins this year too, and I want to try a few new things before I turn them into breads and pies. Take a break to go to the garden, pick some of the aforementioned tomatoes, and plant more of the plants from yesterday. After, I make a batch of tofu ravioli using the pasta dough. It turns out okay, but needs a bit more flavor. I make a salad for lunch tomorrow.

6:30 p.m. — I snacked a lot while meal prepping so I'm not super hungry for a big dinner. I make zucchini fries (essentially zucchini rolled in breadcrumbs and baked) and marinated tofu sticks.

Daily Total: $34.16

Day Six



5:55 a.m. — Oh, Mondays. Shot of espresso while making pour over coffee. I take dog for a walk and then make a smoothie for breakfast (yogurt, pea protein powder, spinach, mango, banana, pineapple, beet, and coconut). Grab lunch from the fridge and an apple, and head to work where I drink my smoothie and work on my timesheet. It is more grueling than usual because I didn't record what I did each day during this pay period. I bill five different grants in half-hour increments and try to record as I go, but it's been a hectic few weeks.

10:45 a.m. — Post-staff meeting snack of homemade granola.

12:30 p.m. — I eat lunch before heading out to do fieldwork. After a really windy fall, we've finally had some calm days to allow for afternoon fieldwork. (We use kayaks to get to a few sites, which isn't doable on windy days.) My field tech and I head out to check on a few restoration sites and it is utterly glorious out.

4:30 p.m. — I consider going to a spin class, but it's too nice outside for that. Go for a run from my office instead — three miles of beach paths and sea otters! Get home and take the dog for a walk while texting with a friend. She lives two hours away but is staying over tonight. We both have an all-day training tomorrow, so this saves her a long day of training and driving. Boyfriend texts to tell me he forgot he has tickets to a concert tonight and will be home late. I swear we do spend time together!

8 p.m. — My friend arrives and we spend a few hours catching up.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven



6:30 a.m. — Training starts late so I get to sleep in! After I wake up, I drink espresso and then take the dog for a run in preparation of sitting inside all day. I make a smoothie for the road and my friend offers to drive.

9 a.m. — Get to the training, which is a little dry and outside of my typical scope of work, but I knew this time was coming: grant writing. The thing about my line of work is that the more years of experience you have, the less time you spend in the field having fun (and the more time you spend inside writing grants and analyzing data). I grab a KIND bar from the snack table.

12 p.m. — The salad bar at the provided lunch isn't bad. My friend and I eat outside while everyone else, strangely, stays inside.

5 p.m. — Friend and I get back to my house. We hang out for a little bit longer before she leaves. I take the dog for a walk, and then make more rice for the leftover tikka masala. T. and I sit down to eat together and lament that it's only Tuesday. We watch a few episodes of a new show, The Ranch, and it's painfully amusing? I loved That '70s Show and am crossing my fingers for this one.

11:30 p.m. — I went to bed at 10 p.m. feeling fine, but wake up shivering, despite it being a warm night. I spend the rest of the night battling a fever.

Daily Total: $0
Next up: a program manager who makes $40,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on wine tasting tickets.

Occupation: Program Manager
Industry: Think Tank & National Security
Age: 24
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck (1x/month): $3,333

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $880 to rent a shared row house with four roommates.
Loan Payments: None. My university waived my tuition expenses, and my parents and grandparents helped with the rest of my school expenses (books, housing, meal plan, etc.). I worked a part-time job for general living expenses.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Utilities & Internet: $50-$70
Metro Pass: $81
Savings: $500
Produce Delivery: $15/week after split with one roommate
Cell Phone: $27 toward my new phone. (My plan is reimbursed by work.)
Foreign Policy Subscription: $15
ACLU Donation: $15

Day One



7:30 a.m. — I slept badly last night but still manage to roll out of bed after 30 minutes of snoozing, and stumble downstairs for sustenance. I'm starting to run low on groceries, so this morning it's the last of my Rice Krispies, a pile of apple slices, and coffee.

9:30 a.m. — I stop at the post office on the way to work to mail a package to my brother. I was in Israel for work a few weeks ago and found an art shop with awesome prints while wandering around Jaffa. A print of a black-and-white photographer seeing color through his lens reminded me of my baby bro, who is a budding and super-talented photographer. It was just his birthday, and though I already sent him a "gift" (money for camera stuff), this print was too good to pass up. $3.32

9:45 a.m. — Arrive at work a little later than usual thanks to my post office detour, but I work alone in the office (everyone else is remote) so no harm done. Before getting down to it, I drop by the kitchen to fill my water bottle. I'm horrible at hydration so I'm making an effort to finish a bottle of water before I cave and drink more coffee. For the three days I've been doing it, it's worked! I add a probiotic capsule to the water because why not?

12 p.m. — After a productive morning, I head out for lunch. I usually bring it, but I'm running out of lunch-ready food to pack so today's a treat. I walk to a Poke place I haven't tried yet and realize I still have cash from when I converted my extra shekels back to USD after my work trip, so lunch is paid for by my Israel spending allowance! I bring the food back and spend lunch catching up on my favorite blogs and reading articles. $14

1:30 p.m. — Time for my lunch-dessert and afternoon caffeine. I head to the kitchen and steep a bag of Trader Joe's matcha green tea latte. We have free coffee and cold brew in the office building at all times, but I'm trying to cut back on drinking coffee constantly, so green tea is my substitution for now. I drink it while prepping for a 3:30 conference call.

5:30 p.m. — I catch the bus to a Bossed Up event in Georgetown, where there is no metro. My monthly metro pass doesn't include bus rides, so this is technically $2, but I keep extra discretionary funds on my card for the few times I need a bus or go over my metro pass fare limit. (My pass allows me unlimited free trips within a certain distance; if I go beyond that, I pay the fare balance.) I add $10 of extra fare for these instances, and it generally lasts a month.

7:30 p.m. — Met some cool ladies, but I'm running on empty with just a cup of champagne and a juice sample from the event so I bounce early. Catch a bus back to the metro, realizing too late it's the wrong one and end up walking far more than I'd hoped in my work heels to get to the closest metro stop. Bus ($1) is paid for with my discretionary fare; the metro is mostly covered by my pass with the balance also paid for by my extra fare (an extra 15 cents).

8:30 p.m. — Come home to find packages from orders I placed last weekend. I try on the lipstick (it's perfect and I'm now obsessed) and sports bra (disappointing because once again it's too tight in the boobs and too loose in the waistband — the struggles of a 32D). I head back downstairs to heat up frozen mushroom risotto from Trader Joe's.

11:30 p.m. — After scarfing down way too many servings of risotto, I do GRE practice questions and then try calling some of my best friends. Most of them live in L.A. (our hometown) or somewhere on the West Coast, and they are basically my second family and biggest support system (besides my actual family), so I try to call just to chat on a semi-regular basis. It seems they are all unavailable tonight, but then one calls me back! We chat for a good hour before she heads out to start her night and I settle in to read before calling it a night at 12.

Daily Total: $17.32

Day Two



7:30 a.m. — Had a weird nightmare about a baby falling off a stage (??) and wake myself up when I gasp and clap my hands to my face. I stay in bed with my eyes closed until my alarm goes off, then snooze for another 30 minutes. I get up, quickly fry eggs, heat up veggie bacon (I am addicted and ALWAYS fully stocked), and brew coffee for breakfast.

9:45 a.m. — At work with my water bottle refilled, ready to go. I quickly take care of some editing and administrative stuff, then prepare for my weekly call with our social media coordinator, who works remotely.

12 p.m. — I walk a few blocks down to the Hudson Institute, where they are hosting a Colombian legislator to talk about the peace deal with the FARC. They are providing salads for lunch, but I skip so I can have my hands free to take notes.

2:20 p.m. — The Hudson event ran long and truly sapped my energy. Now kicking myself for not taking a free salad, I head back to the office with my intern, who usually works remotely but decided to come to Hudson and then work from the office this afternoon. I heat up three sad Trader Joe's veggie gyoza I stuffed in my bag this morning and pour a full cup of hot coffee to get me through the afternoon.

6 p.m. — On Thursday afternoons, my internal team holds a strategy call to review and update the week's progress on all our internal processes. I lead the call, and after cycling through Every. Single. Aspect. of our org, I'm generally so braindead that I just go home and focus on follow-ups the next day. Today after our call, my boss stops by to discuss the Hudson event from earlier, so I end up staying even later. Finally pack up and head home.

6:45 p.m. — At home, I heat up a turkey corn dog and add raw broccoli and a pile of guacamole. I scarf it down and then settle in for a nice, long GRE practice test. Womp.

11 p.m. — Finally finished with my test and reviewing my answers; my brain is mush and I'm ravenous. I go downstairs for chili-lime mango and Principe cookies. After snacking, I tidy my room, organize my planner, read a bit, and knock out by 12.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three



8 a.m. — Why is waking up so hard?? I snooze repeatedly before deciding to stop pretending and sleep to 8. I'm teleworking today, so that commute time becomes sleep time. Finally get up and make a one-egg omelet, fry a Trader Joe's hash brown patty, heat up veggie bacon, and slice Beecher's cheese to eat with my morning coffee.

9:25 a.m. — At work five minutes early thanks to my pajama outfit and 30-second commute! Fall appears to have finally hit and it's beautiful outside, so I set myself up on the porch. After a few minutes, I realize I'm chilly and quickly make tea. I break out my Trader Joe's pumpkin spice rooibos, which I drink exclusively from late-September to late-November. It's the best time of the year!

2 p.m. — Lost track of time and ended up having to save lunch until after a 1 p.m. call with the event planner for an upcoming conference we're hosting. By the end of the call, I'm fading and having trouble concentrating, so it's into the kitchen to scrounge around for lunch. I manage to make a black bean taco with the one lonely tortilla I have left, the remainders of an open can of beans, and a cup of miso soup along with the last of my tofu. Dessert is a bag of M&Ms I have left over from a movie night. It's definitely time for grocery shopping.

2:30 p.m. — All it took was my lunch of food scraps and the first episode of the new Will & Grace to perk me back up! Back to work and hoping to roll right through to the end of the day.

5 p.m. — Yom Kippur starts tonight, so at 5, I pack up work and start getting ready for services. I take a quick shower and then get dressed while FaceTiming my college roommate/best friend in Chicago. While we talk, I heat up a can of Trader Joe's vegetarian chili for my last meal.

6:30 p.m. — I end up talking to my friend for half an hour longer than I should have; we don't get to talk often so I'm reluctant to end our conversation, but now I'm late for services. The synagogue I'm attending for High Holy Days is inconveniently located for public transit; given that I'm late, I cave and order a Lyft. $10

9:30 p.m. — Services have ended so I walk 13 minutes to the closest bus that will take me home, only to find out the next one doesn't come for another 15 minutes. I feel guilty about paying for so many Lyfts lately (I paid for several to synagogue during Rosh Hashanah last week, and it added up fast), but I'm already hungry again and I just want to be home and in bed. Lyft it is. $8

10 p.m. — Once I get home, I set my alarm for tomorrow morning and fall asleep within half an hour.

Daily Total: $18

Day Four



8:30 a.m. — I wake up naturally around 8:30. I get up to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth, then lie in bed a bit longer until my alarm.

9:30 a.m. — I decided to attend an alternate Yom Kippur service today instead of the standard synagogue, and I'm relishing not having to be anywhere until 11. (Yom Kippur service usually starts at 8:45.) Since I'm fasting and generally observe the traditions of physical asceticism, getting ready takes about 10 minutes. With all this extra time, I read in bed for a while before leaving the house.

10 a.m. — I take the metro to Dupont Circle (extra fare covered by my Metro pass) and arrive with 20 minutes to spare before I have to be at the bar (you saw that right) where the alternative service is. I decide to sit in the Circle and people-watch while I wait. It's a little chilly, and the circle is full of people chatting over coffee, walking their dogs, and enjoying the cool weather. It's nice and calming, and I feel like it's a great start to Yom Kippur. At 10:40, I walk the remaining five minutes to the bar.

1:30 p.m. — The alternative service was lovely! I have a hard time finding Jewish activities that satisfy my conservative upbringing and my secular lifestyle as an adult, but this service did a great job of staying true to the purpose of Yom Kippur within a modern-day context. After thanking the leaders of the service, I leave and walk back home.

2:30 p.m. — The walk home takes about an hour, but I'm in a good mood after a meaningful Yom Kippur service and I'm enjoying the cooler weather, so I decide it'll be a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and enjoy D.C. instead of rushing home on the metro. By the time I get home, I have a slight headache and I'm exhausted (not eating can do that to a person), so I head directly to my bed for a nap.

4:30 p.m. — I set an alarm to wake up so I would have time to make it to Ne'ilah, the concluding service of Yom Kippur, but when it goes off, I have trouble waking up. After lying in bed for a bit, I decide to skip Ne'ilah (and avoid paying for more Lyfts to and from the inconveniently located synagogue) and just stay at home until it's time to break the fast. I hang out in bed and try calling my family back home, but they don't answer so I have to assume they are still at services.

6:45 p.m. — My parents call me back and we talk about our respective Yom Kippurs. My mom teaches Hebrew school, so she's really curious about my alternative "experience."

7:30 p.m. — It's finally time to eat!!!! I walk down to the Moishe House in Columbia Heights for a break the fast party and proceed to gorge myself on three different types of pasta and garlic bread.

9:45 p.m. — I planned to stop by my favorite bakery in Columbia Heights after the break the fast for a celebratory cupcake, but by the time I leave it's closed. I substitute it with a pack of Hostess cupcakes from 7-Eleven. I pay with some of my Israel money. $2

10:30 p.m. — Once I get home, I eat my cupcakes and start taking off my old nail polish. I paint my nails once a week because it keeps me from biting them, and a manicure is long overdue. I stop short of repainting and decide to go to bed around midnight. Turns out it's really exhausting to go without food or water for 25 hours.

Daily Total: $2

Day Five



8 a.m. — I wake up naturally and decide to get going on my day. Since yesterday was dedicated to prayer and naps, today I plan to cram as many weekend chores as I can into one day. I whip up coffee, two fried eggs, and of course, veggie bacon. I watch random YouTube videos while I eat, then grab my produce delivery from the porch. I subscribe to Hungry Harvest, which sends weekly boxes of the produce that was rejected by grocery stores (but is totally edible!) because it looked "weird" or was too small or whatever. Every Sunday morning, we get a new box! This week, we got lettuce, tomatoes, yellow onions, red bell peppers, grapes, apples, and a pineapple.

9 a.m. — I get dressed and then put on Portlandia while I do my nails. I finish an episode while waiting for them to dry, then head out for grocery shopping.

10 a.m. — First stop is Trader Joe's; two Metro stops away and covered by my pass. I get milk, garbanzo beans, spaghetti squash, a frozen pizza, veggie breakfast sausage, mushroom ravioli, boxed mac and cheese, banana bread, wheat bread, sweet potato gnocchi, $2 Chuck, and a bunch of eucalyptus for my bedroom. $34.10

11 a.m. — Trader Joe's didn't have great produce, so after I drop off my purchases at home, I head to Safeway for the rest. I get Lucky Charms, a bottle of Coke, Tofurky kielbasa, two cucumbers, green onion, an avocado, and a bunch of cilantro. $16.70

12 p.m. — Fix a bowl of Lucky Charms, throw on a record, and start deep cleaning my room. I'm allergic to basically every kind of dust and mold imaginable, so when I clean, I tend to go all out. I dust, reorganize my closet, refresh my eucalyptus, and do a quick clean of the bathroom.

3:15 p.m. — Welp. Went down the Monica Geller rabbit hole and three hours later, I'm still cleaning. Grab another bowl of Lucky Charms, then vacuum and put away all the stuff I moved around. Finally, I sort my laundry and head downstairs to get the first load going.

3:45 p.m. — Get distracted by an Instagram message from a girl I went to college with, who is currently visiting the city in Mexico where I lived for a bit last year. She saw my comment on her pic of the city and is asking for suggestions on places to go. Big mistake on her part, as I then proceed to send her an Instagram essay detailing my fave spots and emoji crying about my jealousy that she is there.

4:30 p.m. — I'm finished cleaning, but the work is not over. I'm trying to figure out my next steps career wise; I currently work in national security, but I'm a linguist and ultimately want to become a translator. Unfortunately, career advice for translation basically consists of "just do it" so I'm juggling applications to translation firms and studying for the GRE so I can get my master's. It's exhausting, but hopefully will pay off at some point? Another bowl of Lucky Charms to get me through a volunteer application at a language learning nonprofit and research into an online translation gig.

6:45 p.m. — Going through my emails, I'm reminded that Conversational D.C. is having a Spanish wine tasting later this week. I try to go to all their Spanish events, and usually they are free, but this one isn't so I'm hesitant. Finally, I decide to bite the bullet; the event is all in Spanish and there's gonna be wine so that seems like a solid investment. I buy a ticket and reserve my spot. $25

7:20 p.m. — Decide it's time to get dinner going. I head downstairs to put a spaghetti squash in the oven, change out a load of laundry, and then settle down to start another job application while the squash cooks.

8:40 p.m. — Finish up my spaghetti squash cacio e pepe while chatting with two of my roommates who have come into the kitchen to cook and hang out. Once my food is ready, I mix a kalimotxo and eat about half of the squash. The rest goes into a container for tomorrow's lunch.

9 p.m. — For dessert, I cut slices of banana bread and grab a few grapes, and eat them while chatting with one of my roommates who is still cooking. After she's done, I clean up my cookware, switch out the laundry, and head upstairs to wind down.

11 p.m. — Ended up lazing around on my phone for way too long. I quickly run downstairs to switch out the laundry again, then get ready for bed and read for a bit before going to sleep around midnight.

Daily Total: $75.80

Day Six



7:20 a.m. — Roll out of bed and head downstairs for coffee, a slice of bread with peanut butter and banana, and veggie bacon.

8:30 a.m. — I have plenty of time to get to work, but I'm feeling crampy and want to squeeze a few more chores into the day, so I decide to telework again. I start out on the porch with pumpkin tea, but end up back upstairs next to the open window, where I can enjoy the cool weather and work in the fetal position at the same time. Cramps suck.

11:30 a.m. — Today's workload is super light, and kind of at a standstill until I can check in with my boss. I throw my bed sheets in the wash and pick up the packages UPS just dropped off downstairs. They are both for me! One is sundry household items from Amazon, and the other is a new pair of work pants. I quickly try on the pants, and I'm undecided on how I feel about them. I table the issue and sit back down to do some busy work until my boss calls.

12:30 p.m. — Boss finally calls, and after catching up on a few things I take care of the easier tasks he's mentioned and then break for lunch. I add shredded lettuce, a green onion, and veggie kielbasa to an egg scramble, slice Beecher's, and grab tomatoes. For dessert, it's apple slices with a spoonful of peanut butter and a small slice of banana bread. Then it's back to work.

3:30 p.m. — The combination of light day, cramps, and a message from my mom asking for advice on how to ask my 16-year-old brother if he has a girlfriend are making it hard to focus on work. I brew more tea, try to get more work done, and talk to my mom about whether this hypothetical girlfriend is interrupting his studies.

5 p.m. — Call it a day and start to get ready to leave the house. I have an informational meeting at the Central American Resource Center about an announcement they made a few weeks ago looking for translation volunteers. I'm only mildly familiar with the organization, but what I know of them is pretty awesome and any translation work I can find will get me closer to my career goals, so I'm excited to learn more about the opportunity. I throw on my Celia Cruz playlist to get me in a Spanish mindset while I get ready, then walk over. It's about a 15-minute walk from my house.

6:30 p.m. — The meeting went so well! I'm super excited (and nervous) about this opportunity as it's legal translation, which I've never done in a formal capacity. The woman I spoke to assured me that with my previous experience I should be more than fine, and it can all be done remotely! I call my dad to tell him about my new gig while walking home. Once I'm home, I attempt working out but my cramps take over and I give up halfway through. At least it's better than nothing, right?

7:15 p.m. — Shower and head downstairs planning to cook something healthy, only to find out my roommate is watching Dirty Dancing. As a house, we are all mildly obsessed with Dirty Dancing, and I end up getting sucked into the movie instead of doing anything productive. The healthy chickpea salad I was going to make becomes a Trader Joe's frozen pizza and two kalimotxos.

8 p.m. — Take a break from the movie to call my brother. Not gonna even ask about this girlfriend situation yet, but my dad asked me to try to convince my brother to apply to be a Senate page next summer. My job is easy; when I bring it up, he says he wants to try for it. Job done. We chat a bit more, then I bounce back downstairs to enjoy Patrick Swayze's beauty.

10:15 p.m. — Oops, ended up hanging out downstairs way too long after the movie ended, chatting with my roommates. Eventually we all drift off to our rooms and I get to work cleaning up my room. (Turns out working from your bedroom means it's MESSIER at the end of the day than when you started.) I put clean sheets on my bed, thinking about what I'll do with my new pants until I decide they are too big. I set them alongside the other orders I need to return or exchange.

12 a.m. — Everything is done except GRE studying. I struggle through a few lessons before deciding no learning is going to happen tonight; should have done this earlier. I'll have to try to make up for it throughout the week. (But how does one resist Dirty Dancing?!)

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven



7:30 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed for coffee, bread with peanut butter, some grapes, and veggie bacon.

9 a.m. — Grab my leftover cacio e pepe spaghetti squash and an apple and head out for work. Once I arrive, I put my lunch in the fridge and fill up my water bottle, then it's right to work.

10:30 a.m. — I had to compile reports for a donor meeting my boss is going to in Pennsylvania today, so the beginning of the day was a bit busy, but after he picks up the packets, work slows way down. I have one project for my boss, but I don't understand it so I save it for when he can talk. Work always slows down when he is traveling. I take care of a few personal tasks, confirming my availability for the translation work from yesterday and cleaning out emails. Then I take care of housekeeping (filing, etc.) while waiting for my boss to be available.

11:30 a.m. — My boss calls from the road to ask if I included something in the packet that I forgot. Ugh. He says it's not a big deal and he can print the missing documents when he gets to his hotel, but I curse myself for the oversight. I've put together these packets before. Try to forgive myself and continue with work.

12 p.m. — I'm going to a panel on media and politics in Central America at Inter-American Dialogue, just 15 minutes up the street. I head out of the office to walk over. When I get there, they have sandwiches and chips for lunch! I fill a plate and find a seat for the panel. The lunch I brought today is now tomorrow's lunch.

2:20 p.m. — Back at the office to finish out the day. I have a bit of a headache so I grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Still haven't heard from my boss about my assignment from the morning, so it's back to housekeeping tasks until he finally calls back. Even after our conversation I don't feel confident about what I'm supposed to do, but I give it a go and send him a draft. He's in a meeting through the end of the day, so I do more housekeeping until 5:30.

6 p.m. — I'm meeting with a community organizer for a Jewish organization in D.C. that compiles all the Jewish events in the city into one neat calendar. I get to the meeting spot in Dupont Circle 15 minutes early, so I walk around the area for a bit while listening to a podcast. When 6 p.m. hits, I head back to meet with the woman. We order iced teas to drink during our chat. She pays.

7:30 p.m. — I'm meeting my ex-roommate for dinner at a new tapas place that just opened. She brings a couple of friends and we order half the menu to share while catching up. We end up splitting four ways. $46.05

9:30 p.m. — Once I finally get home, I change out of my work clothes and get to studying. I'm taking an online class through edX about Don Quixote and Spain that starts today, so I start reading that. After an hour, I switch over to GRE practice. I finish just before midnight and head straight to bed.

Daily Total: $46.05
Finally: a special education teacher who makes $44,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a puffer jacket.

Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Industry: Public Education (K-12)
Age: 22
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $44,000
Paycheck (1x/month): $2,950, more if I attend paid professional developments.

Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $747.50 for my half. I rent a one bedroom with my boyfriend of six years. It's our first apartment out of college and we love it — we can see the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park from our balcony!
Loan Payments: $150 for student loans, even though they don't enter official repayment until 2020.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Electricity: ~$60 for my half
Wi-Fi: $24 for my half
Cell Phone: $0, thanks Dad!
Grad School: $96. I'm getting my master's degree right now, but am thankfully getting a lot of scholarship funding to cover the cost.
Union Dues: $82
Health/Dental/Vision/Life Insurance: $0, covered 100% by my school district
Retirement: $384, taken out before taxes and my check gets cut
Credit Card Bill: I pay my credit card off in full each month, usually $800-$1,200
Netflix: $0, thanks to my mom and dad
Hulu: $4 for my half (shared with BF)
HBO: $0, shout out to my BFF
Amazon: $0, thanks BF's mom and dad!
Transportation: I refill my Metro card as needed

Day One



5:45 a.m. — Ugh, Mondays. My alarm goes off and for the first time in weeks I get up and out of bed. I need to leave my apartment by 6:25 to get the Metro, so I don't have much time to snooze. Make myself coffee, a PB&J, and apple slices for lunch.

6:30 a.m. — I made it to the train on time, a miracle for a dark and cloudy Monday. I have to reload my Metro card, so I put $20. I did the math and I don't take the Metro enough to make a monthly pass worth it, so I just throw $20 on whenever it gets low. I used to be able to walk to work in less than five minutes, but because of an issue in the district I work in, I was relocated to a different school partway through the school year. I'm still angry about the move because of my new commute and because my old school was amazing. $20

7:45 a.m. — My class wins the attendance award for third grade this morning — 100% attendance! I teach a self-contained special-education class for students in kindergarten and third grade. We only have three students right now so it's not that hard to win the attendance award, but my kids love it and it makes the Monday much less gray.

8:05 a.m. — I eat breakfast with my students every morning. Our school runs a program that provides free breakfast to every student each morning to ensure they get a full morning meal, and to help get kids to school on time. Today, it's cinnamon glazed pancakes and I honestly enjoy them.

12:15 p.m. — Finally lunch time. One of my students is absent today so it's a very low-key day. My kids have the last lunch of the day as well, so the finish line is in sight when I send them off to the cafeteria. I eat in my classroom (I haven't really made any friends at this school yet) and catch up on emails. After reading more about the Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos indictments, I immediately text my little sister who is a political science and economics double major in Washington, D.C. (and one of the smartest people I know). I'm still uncertain about whether this will bring real change in this abomination of an administration, but it's always fun to talk politics with her and dream of the day this horrible nightmare of a presidency will end.

2:15 p.m. — Made it through Monday! We did a science experiment at the end of the day to determine if common vegetables are actually fruits, so I snack on leftover cucumber and red pepper while I clean up the room and prep for tomorrow.

2:45 p.m. — My BF picks me up from school. He's a freelance film editor and just finished a job, so he's on the hunt for something new. I love when he's on a job because we gotta pay the bills, but having him home in the afternoons is wonderful.

3:30 p.m. — I'm originally from Boston, so these 100+ degree days in October have been horrible. But it's finally getting "cooler" so we're making lasagna for dinner tonight. (I don't consider high-60s cool, but when in SoCal...) I pull out my mom's sauce recipe and start cooking since it needs to simmer for at least three hours. I also start making monster Oreo cookies I saw on Pinterest...it does not go well. The food coloring makes the white chocolate seize up immediately, and my second non-colored batch somehow seizes as well. I feel horrible because I promised my students I'd bring them Halloween treats. One of the moms in my class said she'd send a cookie decorating kit in with her son for Halloween so I keep my fingers crossed and hope my students won't be too disappointed.

4 p.m. — I have a call set up with one of my mentors. Things have been really challenging lately at work and I need help. I've been asked to do some things that I'm sure are out of compliance with California Education Code and the laws that govern special education, but since I've only been at this school for a month and I'm a first-year teacher, I've been hesitant to put my foot down. Talking with my mentor is helpful and I feel a little better knowing that I was right and something fishy is going on, but I'm still feeling nervous about approaching my administration.

5:30 p.m. — Since the Oreos went so horribly, I decide to test run the other Halloween project I have planned: slime! I mix everything together (glue, water, food coloring, glitter, saline solution, and baking soda) and thankfully it all comes together as intended. My BF and I have way too much fun playing with it. I hope my kiddos like it as much as we do!

7 p.m. — Lasagna is ready! I'm happy with how it turned out. BF and I eat on the couch (a bad habit we are trying and failing to break) and watch the last two episodes of Mindhunter. We decide that overall the season was good, but things go off the rails a little in the final few episodes. We switch over to Brooklyn Nine Nine for the rest of the night and make plans to watch Stranger Things season 2 tomorrow for Halloween.

9:30 p.m. — My bedtime has gotten so early since I started teaching! I'm less tired than usual but know I should sleep now so I don't regret it in the morning. BF comes to bed and snuggles for a while so I don't have to go to bed alone, then lets me get some sleep.

Daily Total: $20

Day Two



5:45 a.m. — I wake up and realize our air conditioning is broken AGAIN. It's been on all night but the thermostat reads 82 degrees. No thank you. I make a mental note to ask BF to put in a maintenance request with our landlord today. This is the fourth time our AC has broken in as many months. I'm not thrilled.

6 a.m. — Keurig coffee, PB&J, apple slices again.

6:40 a.m. — Make it to the train on time again! Tap my Metro card that I loaded up yesterday and tune into podcasts. I finish an episode of Feminasty and start an episode of my all-time favorite podcast Pod Save America #FriendOfThePod

7:25 a.m. — Drink my coffee and get ready for the day. Today's prep work includes cutting tiny shapes out of black construction paper so we can make bats and jack-o-lanterns using geometric shapes. It's super tedious but I'm hoping it'll be a fun activity for my students.

7:50 a.m. — Bean and cheese burritos for breakfast. Not my ideal breakfast food but they're not too bad. (And, again, free breakfast.) My kids are all riled up about Halloween and I have a feeling it's going to be a long day. While my kids are eating, I pay my credit card bill and Venmo BF for my half of the rent. Halloween means end of the month, so it's bills day.

12:15 p.m. — Lunch time! PB&J, apple slices, and a bean and cheese burrito my kids didn't eat this morning. The more I work with six- and eight-year-olds, the more I feel like I eat like a six- or eight-year-old. We made slime before lunch as part of our Halloween-themed day (it was epic), so I use my lunch period to clean up some of the giant mess we made.

1:15 p.m. — On Tuesdays, my kids get out an hour early so teachers can attend professional development or staff meetings. We have professional development today on integrating social emotional learning and art! I'm excited for this one.

3 p.m. — The professional development was SO good! It was all about how important the arts are for children who experience trauma and adverse experiences. Almost every student at our school is considered a low-income student, and well over half are English Language Learners, two major markers for social, emotional, and academic barriers. I hope our school takes what this speaker had to say to heart. While I wait for BF to (ever so nicely!) pick me up, I squeeze in prep work in since I'll lose my morning to a parent conference tomorrow.

4 p.m. — BF was later than expected picking me up; he walks dogs when he's not working in film and a walk ran late. I'm always so jealous when he gets to hang out with pups all day! Once we get home, I immediately crash on the couch and we start watching Brooklyn Nine Nine because BF doesn't want to start Stranger Things until it's dark and spooky out.

6:30 p.m. — Leftover lasagna for dinner! We made enough to feed a small army yesterday. I also make myself a drink, hibiscus agua fresca from Trader Joe's mixed with gin. It's amazing; the hibiscus and gin complement each other super well. We watch three episodes of Stranger Things while we eat lasagna and leftover Halloween candy. (We didn't get any trick-or-treaters.)

9 p.m. — My phone starts buzzing like crazy. A group chat I'm in with other grad school friends is blowing up over an assignment I totally forget to do. I decide it's too late to start it tonight and promise to do it during my breaks tomorrow. I finished undergrad in May but my study and work habits are already trash.

9:30 p.m. — Bedtime! Snuggle up with the BF and pray our AC gets fixed soon.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three



5:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I am exhausted. I want to snooze and Lyft to work so badly but alas, I have a parent conference this morning. Drag myself out of bed and start the day.

6 a.m. — To no one's surprise: Keurig coffee, PB&J, and apple slices. There's a union meeting this morning that I can't go to but I'm hoping I can snag a leftover bagel.

6:45 a.m. — On time for the train three days in a row! Last week, I took a Lyft to work three out of the five mornings so I'm patting myself on the back for my timeliness. I listen to Pod Save America during my commute.

7:20 a.m. — The mom that's coming this morning is a little late for our conference, but it goes well. She's a kickass lady and her son is one of my favorite students. (Shhh, don't tell! I know we're not supposed to have favorites, but we do.) We agree that her son is making a lot of progress this year but we still have a long way to go in reading and behavior. I leave the conference on a hopeful note.

8:20 a.m. — No bagels. I grab a cup of lukewarm coffee from the lounge before taking my students outside for P.E.

10:20 a.m. — Recess, thank goodness; it was a long morning. I drink the rest of my coffee and catch up on emails. I'm an Inbox Zero kind of woman but I've been behind since last week and the 182 unread emails are stressing me out. I cut it down to 82 before recess ends and vow to get it under control by the end of the day.

12:15 p.m. — The long morning turns into a longer afternoon. Wednesdays are hard, y'all. I remember I have assignments to finish before class at 5 p.m., so I begrudgingly start those. I find out my friends in the grad program who teach middle and high school don't have class tonight and I'm super bitter. I hate the grad program I'm in, but I need it to boost my teaching credential (which will boost my paycheck), and this program gave me the most scholarship money. I eat my lunch and work at my desk until it's time to pick up my students.

2:27 p.m. — After my students leave for the day, I quickly clean up my classroom before calling an Uber to take me to Westchester/Playa Del Rey for grad school classes. It's only 17 miles away, but it usually takes over an hour to get there, so I leave right as school ends. I'm grateful to be going in the opposite direction of the Dodgers game tonight. (Not that I care about the Series this year. Go, Sox!) $10.51

4 p.m. — Oh my god, that Uber took forever. Traffic wasn't bad but the driver took such a circuitous route. I arrive on campus feeling exhausted and crabby, so I stop at the café in the building and grab a brewed coffee in my to-go cup. They charge you for a medium but I can fit more than a large in my cup! I also buy a chocolate chip bagel with reduced fat cream cheese. None of my friends from the program are here yet so I hang out and go window shopping online. Gap Factory and Old Navy are both having sales and I desperately need new clothes. $5.67

5:50 p.m. — Class is a snooze. I know I should be paying attention, and feel like a shitty student, but I still can't bring myself to close my laptop. I do discover that after paying my BF for my half of rent and paying off my credit card for October, I have a sizable chunk of extra money in my checking account. After a quick consult with my financial manager, a.k.a. my dad, I put $500 extra towards my student loans. It gives me such a rush of pride. I'm carrying almost $18,000 in loans from undergrad and even though they aren't technically in active repayment yet, I've been paying them down a little each month for the past four years. Here's hoping for debt free living in the not so distance future! I also put $627.27 into my savings account. $500

7:30 p.m. — Class ends and after chatting with my professor briefly about a reading intervention program I'm implementing in my classroom, I call an Uber. The ride home can be brutal sometimes, but tonight I get home in under an hour! $13.49

8:22 p.m. — I get home and BF has made dinner; my hero! He's on the phone with his two best friends and playing a video game with them so I quietly grab stir fry (chicken, broccolini, carrots, and red pepper) and rice along with a very large glass of pinot grigio before digging into lesson planning.

9:20 p.m. — BF finishes playing his game with friends right as I wrap up creating anchor charts and lesson plans for tomorrow. I want to watch an episode of TV with him but I'm tired. An early bedtime ensues, complete with the usual pre-sleep cuddle routine.

Daily Total: $529.67

Day Four



5:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I feel miserable. I'm exhausted and my body aches. Snooze for 10 minutes before dragging myself out of bed.

6:05 a.m. — Coffee, PB&J, apple slices.

6:38 a.m. — I leave a few minutes late but am still on track to make the train...until I realize I forgot my coffee on the kitchen counter. There is absolutely no way I can make it through this day without coffee, so I abandon the responsible commute plan and stop at Starbucks. I have money left on a gift card and put the difference on my credit card. I get a grande skinny vanilla latte and feel hard twinges of homesickness. It's been so long since I've had a hot latte and it makes me think of fall and winter back in New England. Fifteen days until I go back home! $1.55

6:45 a.m. — Grab an UberPOOL to work. I try not to Uber or Lyft to work if the fare is over $4, but I'm running too late to get the train today. $5.06

7:10 a.m. — Spend the morning prepping, as usual. We're starting a brand-new English language arts unit today, and I'm worried about how it will go. My third graders aren't reading yet, so ELA has been hard this year. But I know they have the capacity to learn the content, so I'm determined to adapt the curriculum to make it fit their needs.

10:20 a.m. — Things did not go very smoothly this morning. My students got frustrated and uninterested very quickly because the ELA curriculum is not built to support their learning needs. I make a note to message the instructional lead at my old school to see if she has any suggestions because there's no way we can do 30 weeks of this. I eat my breakfast (Cheerios and a banana today) and read emails.

12:15 p.m. — Better afternoon! We do mindfulness practice after recess and it's really starting to help some of my students. I spend part of my lunch break hunting for a book in the school library (no luck, but our amazing librarian promises to find it for me), then eat my PB&J and catch up on emails.

1:40 p.m. — The school forgot to tell families their kids were being released half an hour early due to parent conferences today. Chaos and madness ensue. I end up staying late to help our librarian wrangle more than 60 third, fourth, and fifth graders who haven't been picked up yet.

3 p.m. — BF picks me up. He really is the best.

3:30 p.m. — FaceTime with my mom. I never thought of myself as someone who was especially close to family until I moved away. My whole life, I'd never been more than 20 minutes away from my immediate family, so I think I took them for granted a little bit.

4:30 p.m. — I have a meeting with an organization that trains and supports teachers to run for office. I adore teaching and love being the classroom, but I want to run for office someday. I feel very strongly that if an elected official is making policy and voting on legislation regarding education, they should know what teaching is like. I want to run for something small like school board in the next five to 10 years and see where things go from there! The meeting goes well but leaves me with a longer to-do list.

5:15 p.m. — The vertical blinds in our apartment are breaking at a truly ridiculous rate. Personally, I think they're atrocious but #renterslife says we gotta keep them. I order metal clips on Amazon to fix the broken blinds. I use the AmazonSmile extension, so part of my purchase benefits Brave New Films, a cool, nonprofit media agency a few of my friends have worked for. I rotate out what organization my AmazonSmile is set to every month or so. $8.49

7 p.m. — I have class online tonight. It's kind of a waste of time but I don't mind it since I love my professor. BF makes dinner again: butternut squash mac and cheese. I tell myself it's healthy because of the squash but then I dump a ton of extra cheddar cheese on top. I promise myself to eat healthier in the coming days.

8:20 p.m. — Class is over, so BF and I can finally watch an episode of Stranger Things. I'm not as grabbed by season 2 so far because I feel like Eleven is so much less powerful than she was last season. I don't need to see more broken and traumatized girls and women on screen, you know? Give me badass El back!

9:30 p.m. — Bedtime for me. Snuggles with the BF as per usual.

Daily Total: $15.10

Day Five



5:45 a.m. — Thank god it's Friday.

6:20 a.m. — Coffee, PB&J, apple slices. I'll have to be more creative next week.

6:45 a.m. — Make the train! Having BF pick me up saves me almost $10 on the Metro, so my card still has plenty left this morning.

7:10 a.m. — Drink my coffee and prep for the day. It's another early dismissal day, and on Fridays, I give my kids a half-hour of free choice/playtime, so I don't have quite as much prep work to do.

8 a.m. — Whole-wheat cinnamon coffee cake muffin for breakfast. I'm going to be hungry again in about five minutes. Breakfast conversation includes dinosaurs, France, and cheese. These kids are too funny.

10:20 a.m. — Payday means online shopping apparently. I've been eying The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. Since switching to an IUD in January, I've had the worst acne. Being 22 and in a position where I feel like I need to be an expert or authority figure in parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings, I feel like having acne makes me appear younger and less confident. I'm hoping the retinoid plus a few other new products (that should be arriving today!) will help clear things up. $14.79

12:15 p.m. — I'm so exhausted and run down. My students are having a hard time keeping their hands to themselves and waiting their turn to speak. I always feel awful when I grow short tempered with my students; they're still learning to control their challenging behavior and they need love and support more than they need consequences sometimes. I try to strike a balance, but after a long week — it's hard. I eat my lunch, catch up on emails, and start the newest episode of Speechless (an all-time fave!) to boost my mood and ground me in the better attitude I need to have with my students.

1:40 p.m. — I made it through the week, thank goodness. Drop my kids off with their grown-ups and make a break for it. BF picks me up and we head home. He had a miserable day too; his phone broke. It'll be a mopey night in for both of us.

4:30 p.m. — Poor BF has been on the phone for over an hour with the phone company. I get an alert that a package has been delivered; it turns out to be three packages! One is a bag full of leftover Halloween candy from my parents, which BF and I promptly tear into. Another is from my aunt — a cute wooden sign that says "Fall." She knows I've been missing the fall weather back home, so this makes my heart swell. The last contains my long-awaited skincare products from Ulta. I'm very eager to try them out.

6:30 p.m. — We finally get around to making dinner, barebones burrito bowls. I throw white rice in the rice cooker and heat up black beans and fire-roasted corn. When everything's ready, we add a ton of cheddar cheese and guacamole before jumping into Stranger Things.

10 p.m. — It's sad that this is now a late bedtime for me. Snuggles with the BF until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $14.79

Day Six



10:20 a.m. — There's nothing like 12 hours of sleep after a long week! I didn't intend to sleep this long, but honestly I'm not mad about it. BF puts water on for coffee, but we realize we're out of our usual blend. Dunkin' Donuts sent me free samples of their new Bakery Blend flavors so we try the dulce de leche cookie one. It's kind of gross, but we drink it anyways.

11 a.m. — Decide that this morning calls for donuts (most Saturday mornings do). We live across the street from a California Donuts and are friends with the family that owns it. We pick up chocolate frosted, vanilla frosted, maple glazed, and sugar raised donuts and promptly devour all four like the creatures we are. $5

2:30 p.m. — Decide we've had enough indoor time today and go for a walk to Los Feliz. We stop at Bru Coffeebar and each get a nitro cold brew. I don't really like mine — it's too bitter — and I wish I had tried the ginger lemonade sparkler. The walk was still nice though; I miss fall but more bearable temperatures have finally arrived. $5

5:45 p.m. — Get a text from my friend that she wants to push our movie date back a few hours tonight. We were supposed to go at 4:30...then 5:15...then 6:30...now we're aiming for 7:15 p.m. I try not to be annoyed. Now that I have time to make dinner, I get started on shepherd's pie. I cook up ground turkey, peas, carrots, corn, and top it all off with the frozen mashed potatoes from Trader Joe's before throwing it in the oven. The frozen mashed potatoes are SO GOOD. Even my mom prefers them to her own.

6:30 p.m. — By the time dinner is ready, I have to leave! Grab a Lyft to the ArcLight in Hollywood. Right now, I'm using the round up and donate feature in Lyft to benefit the ACLU. $4.65 for the ride, $0.35 to ACLU. $5

7 p.m. — My friend finally arrives and we scramble to buy tickets. There are like six seats left and we get the last pair together. $18.25

7:15 p.m. — My friend wants snacks for the movie and I do too. I get a kid's combo because the movie theater sizes are so freakin' big, and it saves money. It comes with popcorn (that I don't even end up finishing), a kid-sized drink, and fruit snacks. $6.75

9 p.m. — The movie was fantastic; my friend and I both enjoyed it. Grab another Lyft home. $4.14 for the ride, $0.86 to the ACLU. $5

9:21 p.m. — Get home and watch Brooklyn Nine Nine with bf before going to bed.

Daily Total: $45

Day Seven



8:30 a.m. — Daylight savings has me up earlier than usual, but I don't mind. I feel well rested and content with an earlier start. Make Keurig coffee (usually we do French press on the weekend but we're out of coffee grounds) and oatmeal. I add nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, brown sugar, pears, and walnuts to give it a fall flavor even though it's 80 degrees in the apartment. Super annoyed with my landlady; the AC has been broken for over a week now.

12 p.m. — Running errands at Ikea today! BF loves Ikea more than life itself so it should be a good time. We decide to get lunch before we shop. He gets pasta, meatballs, chocolate cake, and coffee (free with Ikea Family!) and I get pasta, meatballs, and a latte (also free). It's not the best food ever but it's inexpensive and does the trick. I eat about half of BF's cake; sorry bae. $4.04

2:40 p.m. — After almost three hours in Ikea, we make it out with only things on our list! We get two picture frames for a vintage map of BF's family's land in Maine, a vintage solar system poster, a lid for our skillet, a garlic press, two more bowls, a four-pack of unscented candles, a candle plate, and, of course, cinnamon buns. I put everything on my card, but Venmo BF for $26 worth of stuff. We would usually go halfsies, but I promised to frame the map for our anniversary. I don't include one of the frames when I split the bill. $69.70

3 p.m. — Next up, grocery store! We hit the Trader Joe's in Burbank. We get coffee, K-cups, hibiscus agua fresca, spiced apple cider, apples, kale, carrots, red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, eggs, milk, frozen orange chicken, orecchiette, tomato basil marinara, shredded mozzarella, turkey meatballs, frozen chicken breasts, and a bottle of Riesling. Total comes out to $61.25. I deeply hate how expensive groceries are, but am grateful that I get to split the bill. Venmo him for my half. $30.63

4:30 p.m. — Skype with my mom, dad (and our puppy, Finnian) while I make dinner. We're having sweet potato and quinoa chili. I throw sweet potato, red onion, red pepper, black beans, fire roasted tomatoes with chilies, quinoa, chicken broth, fire roasted corn, cumin, paprika, crushed red pepper, and garlic into a pot and let it simmer into goodness.

7 p.m. — BF loves the chili. I do not; it was way too spicy for me. I eat leftover Halloween candy then heat up shepherd's pie. We finish season 2 of Stranger Things (it ended WAY stronger than it started!) and keep watching Brooklyn Nine Nine.

8:40 p.m. — I get an email from Gap Factory saying I have an additional 10% off, bringing my discount up to 50% plus free shipping. I cave and get much-needed new clothes after consulting with my sister. I snag a lightweight puffer jacket for SoCal "winters," a purple shirt with a cute little hem tie, a navy bell sleeve sweater, a black cowl neck dress, a black long sleeve t-shirt with a cool V-neck back, and another pair of GapFit leggings (my fave!). It's been an expensive day but I tell myself that working a full-time, grown-up job entitles me to expensive weekends for reasonable purchases. $121.30

9:17 p.m. — Early to bed to stave off a stressful Monday morning. Snuggle with BF until I fall asleep.

Daily Total: $225.67
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