A Week In Arlington, VA, On A $66,000 Salary

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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.
Today: an analyst working in consulting who makes $66,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a vegan Oreo cupcake.
Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Consulting
Age: 22
Location: Arlington, VA
Salary: $66,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,733.40
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,422.50. (Includes underground parking. I share two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a friend.
Student Loan Payment: $0. (I had financial aid and family assistance throughout college.)
Health Insurance: $30 from my paycheck for medical, $6 for dental
HSA: $18.50. (My employer matches $500/year.)
Car Loan: $0. (I bought a used car at age 16.)
Spotify: $0. (I'm on my brother's plan.)
Amazon Prime: $0. (On my family's plan.)
Wall Street Journal Subscription: $0. (I have a student membership that my family covers.)
Gym Membership: $18. (Half is covered by work.)
Wi-Fi: $40
Electric: $48
Water: $24
Gas: $50-$75
Renters Insurance: $10
401(k): $72
Roth IRA: $458. (Trying to contribute this amount, at least! I started working full time only a few months ago, so I am finally over the hump of moving expenses/adjustments.)
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Day One

8 a.m. — My boyfriend, J., and I wake up after a fun night and have the perfect morning wake up ;). Then I drag him to the gym with me to go to a strength-training class at 9 a.m. I sneak him by the front desk so he doesn't have to pay the obnoxious guest fee. The class includes an ABSURD number of squats and presses, leaving us out of breath and looking at each other with "OMFG" faces. Future Instagram fitness models? Probably not.
11:30 a.m. — J. spends about half the week at my place since he still lives at home far out in Virginia but works in D.C. We go to the Giant near my place so he can get food to keep at my apartment. I pick up coconut milk, frozen corn, kale, and chickpeas for a recipe I'm making, plus a pack of seltzer to keep in the fridge. $10.95
12 p.m. — We get back and are starving! We both make eggs and then we move on to the real cooking: I whip up a kale, goat cheese, and corn chickpea cake, a batch of chili for the week, and a banana snack cake that turns green/blue because I use sunflower butter in it (though it still tastes great). J. makes a ton of French toast with a splash of Maker's Mark, which makes it so much better. We bump to J. Cole while we make a mess in the kitchen.
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2 p.m. — We pack up the French toast and walk to a friend's apartment. After an intense game of Risk with my boyfriend and roommate last week, J. and I decided we need a game with more strategy and less luck. Our trivia group offered to teach us how to play Settlers of Catan, which we enthusiastically agreed to. We eat French toast and play for five hours straight. J. wins the first game and I win the next two, after lots of strategy and negotiations. (Can you tell we are competitive?) We have an absolute blast and plot when we can play next.
7:30 p.m. — We get back from our friend's place and J. is starving, so we walk to &pizza to get him food. A friend recommended we try it, and it doesn't disappoint! After walking in the cold, we are ready to bundle in for the night. I want to watch The Social Network but can't find it for free, so we settle on Back to the Future after realizing neither of us has seen it. We hit the sheets around 11.
Daily Total: $10.95

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — My alarm wakes us up. I try to keep to somewhat of a schedule on weekends for my sleep so that I don't have too rough of a transition going back to work on Monday. I throw in laundry and then scurry to the gym, happy that it's too early for all the bros to be there. I do some sprints while daydreaming about the food I'm going to eat today.
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10 a.m. — J. is still at my place when I get back. I shower and get ready, and then we both help my roommate clean our place a bit. I'm very appreciative of the fact that my boyfriend helps out since he stays at my place so frequently. He's great about cleaning up after himself, chipping in, and bringing us wine/food/etc. I flip my laundry, make scrambled eggs, say goodbye, and then call a Lyft Line to take me Georgetown. $3.61
11 a.m. — I meet up with my amazing and lovely friend from work at M Street. We picked an awful day to explore Georgetown, since it's sleeting and about 30 degrees out, but we roll with it. We pop in and out of shops, wistfully dreaming of working for companies like Patagonia or Nike. Then we stop for tacos and talk about what we want to do with our lives and how we will find our purpose. We talk about this almost every day – we're less than a year into our jobs, but we both know we want to pursue careers that set our souls on fire instead of working in management consulting. $11.51
1:30 p.m. — We stop at Baked & Wired and both get cupcakes. We did Whole30 in January and have been looking forward to this for over a month now. She gets the unicorn one and I get a vegan Oreo. I leave half of the cake uneaten because it is so cake-y, but overall the cupcakes are WAY better than Georgetown Cupcakes. I've never understood why the line is always so dang long for those mediocre ultra-sweet cupcakes. $4.15
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2 p.m. — Our last stop is TJ Maxx, my favorite store. My mother raised me as a Maxxinista, so I love to scout the store for good sales. I snag cashew butter ($5.99), mascara, and Anastasia concealer. Anastasia Beverly Hills is one of my favorite makeup brands, and it is so much cheaper when you don't buy it at Sephora! $15.30
3 p.m. — I call a Lyft Line home, and once again am the only person in the car – score! Once I get home, I meal prep: cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, chicken, and spaghetti squash. I pack a few meals in Tupperware for the week, jam to Spotify, and prep for work. I also publish a post on my blog. I started blogging after graduation (before I started my job) and find that it's a great creative outlet for me and a fun side project, even if no one reads it except J. and a few friends that know about it. $3.51
5:30 p.m. — I pack up and head to my boyfriend's house, driving in a monsoon to get there. I call my mom on the way and we catch up, and then have a hardcore jam session to Cobra Starship. When I was in Warby Parker the other day one of their songs was playing, which reminded me how much I used to love them when I was 14. "Guilty Pleasure" is on repeat and I'm singing like I'm on American Idol, for better or worse.
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6:30 p.m. — I snuggle with J.'s dog, a rescue we adopted in college. We eat lots of good food with J.'s family.
Daily Total: $38.08

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — I wake up and roll out of bed, immediately putting on gym clothes. I use my apartment gym to avoid walking outside in the cold weather. At the gym, I do incline walking and a bit of running. I shower, make coffee, and get ready. I pop an IBS peppermint pill to help mitigate my impending stomachache along with my concoction of vitamins. At 8:20, I hop in my car and put on a podcast. Today's pick: So Money, a long-time favorite of mine. There's a big car accident so it takes me a bit longer to get to site today.
8:50 a.m. — I pull up at the same time as my manager, which is great because I'm still waiting for a badge and need to be escorted in each day. I set up in our team room, catch up on news, and figure out what I need to do today. I add some items to my Amazon Subscribe & Save order, which is set to be delivered next week: coffee ($4.96), collagen peptides ($23.76), glutamine ($9.58), Rxbars ($19.95), and BCAAs ($18.01). I use collagen peptides and MCT oil in my coffee each morning. Collagen has made a huge difference for me – I notice it most clearly in my nail and hair growth. $76.26
11:30 a.m. — After a morning of meetings, I shimmy down to the break room to grab my food: tuna, lentil pasta, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower – random but really good. I do intermittent fasting, so this is my first meal of the day. I put my head down and go back to work until about 3:30, when I heat up chili I brought for lunch.
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4:30 p.m. — I leave the client site to drive to our office for a training, parking nearby ($15 expensed). I pick up dinner from a fast casual place rather than eating my sad Tupperware dinner. I get chicken, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and sweet potatoes with a salsa verde. The rest of the night, I feel bad for buying dinner when I easily had food available. $11.55
7 p.m. — I sneak out of the training early after thinking about how much I would rather be home. I stop for gas and fill up two-thirds of my tank, following my Dad's advice to never let it get below a quarter tank when it's cold out. Once home, I eat banana cake, clean the kitchen and bathroom, and update my Excel budget. I get everything ready for work and then settle on the couch to watch This Is Us. I've been mentally preparing all day but still manage to cry three times during the episode. I'm glad no one is around to see me bawling – sometimes a good cry is therapeutic, but I'd rather do it alone. Afterwards, I crawl into bed with my book (Lover by Anna Raverat), and then fall asleep at 9:15. $20
Daily Total: $107.81

Day Four

5:40 a.m. — I wake up to the lingering smell of lemongrass from my diffuser, which was a Christmas gift from my parents. I'm still undecided on whether it makes a difference. I putter around to get my gym clothes on and walk to the gym for a 6 a.m. class.
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7 a.m. — Holy. Crap. I walked into the class thinking it was a typical strength training class, but boy was I wrong. It was essentially a combination of Zumba, running, squats, and jumping. For an hour. Everyone in the class seemed totally fine and I was in the corner huffing and puffing, my face bright red. We kept running and jumping and kicking; I didn't think it would end! It was great in an awful way. I'll probably drag myself there again next week. I walk home and notice the beautiful sunrise – one of the perks of getting up really early.
7:40 a.m. — I'm all ready for the day and have about 40 minutes before I need to get to work. Most mornings I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off to get to work on time, so this is a refreshing change of pace. Once I'm ready, I read more of Lover and drink my coffee out of a mug instead of a travel container. I appreciate drinking coffee leisurely so much more now that I'm working full-time! I toss Animal Farm into my bag to read on the metro tonight – I like to read two books at once, weirdly. At 8:10, my roommate and I walk to the metro together, where we see my boyfriend and another friend of ours from work. We have a great catch up on the ride, debriefing about my roommate's new guy. I'm going to the office today instead of the client site, which rarely happens, but I love when it does. Our office has natural light, usually free food lying around, and free coffee.
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8:35 a.m. — Join my team in our room and begin working on client materials for an upcoming offsite we're hosting. I take a break at 9:15 to go to a blind coffee taste test to help pick which coffee our company should use in the machines. The rest of the morning is filled with decks, conference calls, and strategy with the team. At 11:45, I find leftover food outside a conference room and snag eggs. I also eat my first food from home: spaghetti squash, chicken, and sautéed veggies.
1:45 p.m. — The rest of my team is in meetings, leaving my fellow analyst and me in our team room. We chat about life, project work, and consulting in general. Both of us feel like we are either going 100 miles an hour or doing nothing, with little in between. Neither of us knows if this is normal or not, so we text friends and ask their thoughts. We get mixed results back, which provides zero clarity for us. It's nice having someone on my team who is also going through the adjustment from college to working full-time.
3:30 p.m. — Our contracts are changing at work, so these past few weeks have been incredibly ambiguous and volatile. My team bonds over this with lots of jokes being cracked, which is nice. Today is a slow day: I spend most of the afternoon chatting with my team, reading personal finance articles (I dream of retiring absurdly early), and sending emails. I also up my 401(k) contribution to 6% from 3%; if it's too much I will change it back, but I want to give it a shot to save as much as I can.
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5:30 p.m. — I metro into the city for dinner with a friend from work who I don't get to see much, reloading my card on the way ($10). We interned together a couple summers back, so it's always great to see her and catch up. My stomach feels super off, most likely from the beans in the chili I've been eating the past few days, so I order a kimchi bowl for good probiotics. Eating out always reminds me how much food I could buy at the grocery store for the same amount. However, for the good of friendship, I suck it up ($9.51)! After dinner, I pop over to Whole Foods to buy milk (3.49). I metro home, reading Animal Farm on my ride. $23
7:45 p.m. — Once home, my mom calls and we catch up while I unpack from the day and put on my PJs from Target. (They are seriously the best. They look like leisurewear but also PJs, with jogger bottoms as soft as a baby's butt.) My roommate and I catch up while we eat out of our respective jars of almond butter, talking about wanting to have partners who are equally as ambitious and goal-oriented as we are. I read more of Lover while drinking some tea, and consider going to a 6 a.m. yoga class tomorrow. But my desire to sleep in wins. I go to bed at 9:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $23

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — I refuse to snooze in the morning. I immediately hop out of bed and head to the gym after chugging water. (I drink an absurd amount, gotta keep my skin young and fresh!) Damn, my butt and back are sore from yesterday. I go to my apartment gym and do a simple workout so I don't have to walk through the hail. While there, my friend texts me about the weather delay. I run upstairs and check my work phone to see that there is a two-hour weather delay – heck yeah! I embrace the delay and work in my sweatpants. Before logging on for the day, I publish another blog post and read a few pages of Animal Farm. Finally, I update my one-line-a-day journal, which I'm on my fifth (!) year of. I highly recommend it, it's great for reflecting back on the past and remembering what you've been up to in life.
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10 a.m. — My manager tells me that it's quiet onsite today so I can work from home the rest of the day if I want. I'm all for it! I make an apple cider vinegar tonic to drink while I work.
11:30 a.m. — It's very bleh outside, and I'm happy I can work from my apartment. I make veggies and eggs while reading over documents. Making eggs in the middle of a weekday is such a luxury these days, so I savor every bite. I read more personal finance articles and ponder what direction I should take with my own blog. Right now it's just word vomit of my life, from living in D.C. to wellness to personal finance. I have no idea what direction to take with it, so for now I'll just sit on it more and think. While eating lunch, I also shoot a message to the local trivia group to see about hosting – perhaps it'd be a fun thing to do once a week or so? We'll see!
1:15 p.m. — More phone calls and decks. (The consulting life!) I use my Chem-X to make pour over. In a moment of stupidity, I place a plastic container on the hot burner and the plastic melts on my stove. My apartment reeks of plastic, and I quickly clean it up to avoid lingering toxic smells in the apartment. D'oh. I have more calls, and find out that the work I've been doing for the past few weeks is essentially obsolete now. I've accepted that part of this job involves doing work that is often thrown out the window, but I don't always like that. I throw myself a two-minute pity party.
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5:15 p.m. — Today is one of those days where I look up at the clock and the workday is almost over and my brain really hurts. I put on This Is Us while finishing up emails and other random small tasks. Once again, I cry. A lot. This Is Us is really just a free form of my own personal therapy. Once I finish up, I bake a banana snack cake (a Pamela Salzman recipe), make spaghetti squash, sauce, and chicken for dinner, and chat with my roommate about work and her upcoming birthday. J. shows up and we chat for a bit before walking to trivia, schlepping through the awful weather.
7 p.m. — We meet up with friends and commence our trivia effort! We are consistently inconsistent, and tonight we're pretty bad. It's still a ton of fun though and a great thing to look forward to on Hump Day.
9 p.m. — By round four we are seriously behind, so we all cut our losses and head out. When we get back, J. surprises me with Catan! I'm so pumped – I had looked into getting it but didn't want to spend the money. We make plans to teach my roommate this weekend after her birthday brunch. We have some fun time and then read in bed before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — Up and at it again. I walk on the treadmill since I don't feel like an intense workout, but I love to move my body before work since I sit for so much of the day. I miss walking around a college campus all the time! On my commute I listen to The mindbodygreen Podcast episode with the founder of Siggi's.
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9 a.m. — I find an empty cubicle and set up shop – I hate sitting in our team room all day because it's windowless and has bright fluorescent lights. If there is one thing I truly detest in life, it's fluorescent lights. I sit with the lights off near the window (such a luxury!), and work. Our team finds out that our contract is going to be funded, which is a huge sigh of relief – we thought we'd be losing half of our team. This means my fellow analyst will still be on the team with me, which I'm happy about!
11:15 a.m. — I heat up oatmeal for lunch, which I made with oats, egg whites (don't knock it 'til you try it – they make the oats so thick!), coconut milk, ashwagandha, maca, cinnamon, vanilla, and blueberries. I read Money Diaries and more personal finance articles while also thinking of what batch meals I want to make this weekend.
1:40 p.m. — My stomach is growling, but I'm on a conference call. A teammate sends me the link to the Avett Brothers concert at Wolf Trap this summer, and I immediately text my brother to see if he wants to come to town and go with me. At 2:15 I heat up spaghetti squash, chicken, and veggies. It's a quiet day here and I wish I could work from the comfort of my couch.
4:30 p.m. — I dip out because everyone of importance on my team isn't around. I call my mom on my drive home – I really miss seeing her on a regular basis and love talking to her pretty much every day. We're very close and I love having the ritual of calling her on my ride home. Once home, I take my last work call of the day. After eating cashew butter and banana cake, I go down to the gym and walk while finishing my book to get more steps and movement in.
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6:15 p.m. — J. arrives and we have a heartfelt discussion. He's really committed to our future, and it's not that I'm not, but I feel so young to commit one way or another and don't want to make decisions now when I don't need to. I've talked before about wanting to leave D.C. and live in other cities while I'm young, which makes J. nervous. It's complicated, but we have a good discussion. After, we eat dinner (eggs, veggies, and tortillas with hot sauce) and then I succumb to a Hulu trial subscription. I've been wanting to rewatch Desperate Housewives, and J. gives in and watches with me – we get through two episodes and he's hooked! While we watch, I do a watercolor painting. We climb into bed around 9:30 and read and unwind before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — I wake up and head to the gym. After that I decide it's worth being a few minutes late to work to make J. a PB&J for him to take on his commute.
9 a.m. — On my way to work I listen to a new podcast I love called Women's Work, which J. recommended to me. This episode features Gretchen Rubin, who I LOVE! I'm a personal development junkie so I love learning about habits, happiness, and human nature.
11:45 a.m. — Sitting in a windowless, fluorescent-lit room kills my spirit. Sigh. I eat tuna (not in the team room, to prevent smelling), and a medley of veggies for my first meal.
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2 p.m. — I run out to get coffee for my manager and myself in an attempt to mitigate my headache. Sadly, it doesn't help, and now I'm stranded outside the building waiting for someone to come get me. My teammates are all in meetings/on calls, so I stand outside for about 20 minutes enjoying the sunshine and going through email. I drink my cold brew too quickly and get the shakes, UGH! This happens every time, and I never learn. Eventually, I am rescued. ($8.47 expensed)
3:30 p.m. — I have a pounding headache still. I give in and take Motrin, and then eat my desk lunch of spaghetti squash, chicken, and veggies. I'm still hungry so I eat a Larabar too. Can I go home yet?
6 p.m. — I get home from work with a bad headache, so I skip yoga and bake cupcakes for my roommate as a post-birthday brunch treat. I don't have muffin liners and the cakes get crumbly, so I turn the cake into cake balls, but realize I need butter for frosting. J. and a friend come over, and I offer to drive his friend home. I pick up butter, sprinkles, and eggs on my way back. $10.53
9:30 p.m. — J. and I split a Lyft to a housewarming party hosted by some of our college friends. It ends up being pretty lame, although I see a few people I haven't chatted with in a bit. We slip out after an hour or so and climb into bed right before midnight. $7.50
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Daily Total: $18.03
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