A Week In Los Angeles On A $61,800 Salary

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. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)
Today, a woman working in entertainment figuring out how to get all the freebies.

Industry:
Entertainment/PR
Age: 24
Location: Los Angeles
Salary: $61,800
Paycheck Amount (Every Two Weeks): $1,585.47 (after taxes, pre-tax health insurance, and 401(k) contributions)
# of roommates: 1
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,050
Utilities, including internet: ~$50
Student loans: $936.41 ($600 goes to my mother each month for the loans she took out in her name for my education. The rest is in my name. I cannot stress this enough: Please take the time to educate yourself on what exactly you are getting yourself into financially before you go to college.)
Car loan: $237.84
Car insurance: $153.58
Phone bill: $0. My parents still generously pay for me on their family plan.
Yoga membership: $125
Weight Watchers: $8.05 (My employer subsidizes Weight Watchers specifically as one of its perks).
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Day 1

8 a.m. — It’s Friday and my direct deposit hit overnight. I feel rich for 30 minutes. I pay my bills (included in monthly expenses) and get ready for work. I work in Burbank, which is about a 45-minute commute.

10:30 a.m. — I eat a bagel with cream cheese at my desk. My employer provides free bagels on Fridays. Score.

12 p.m. — I step out to get my mom a birthday present. This is a little out of my budget, but my mom’s a saint and deserves it. $78

12:45 p.m. — I heat up leftover ratatouille and tortellini that I brought from home and I snag a Diet Coke from the fridge at work.

4:10 p.m. — I pick up a belated birthday cupcake for my friend. $3

7 p.m. — My friend and I attend an industry event. The food is underwhelming, but it’s free. I also have two glasses of wine.

9:30 p.m. — I tip the valet. $3

11:30 p.m. — I’m pretty starving, so I have a bowl of cereal before bed.

Daily Total: $84
2 of 8
Day 2

6:27 a.m. — After hitting snooze three times, I drag my ass out of bed.

7:30 a.m. — I make an egg, avocado toast, and tea at home.

8 a.m. — I drive to pick up my boyfriend, who lives about 45 minutes south of me. We’re going to Legoland! I got two free tickets from HR a few weeks ago at work. We would never go to Legoland otherwise, but my boyfriend is still in grad school and we take advantage of all the free entertainment we can get.

10:25 a.m. — Parking at Legoland is $15, ugh. $15

1:25 p.m. — We don’t feel like paying for theme park lunch, so we leave the park for some Costco pizza. I get a massive slice of cheese pizza and a Diet Pepsi. We don't return to Legoland. $2.79

4:24 p.m. — I'm crazy-tired and craving Dunkin’ coffee, but then I remember I have a Starbucks gift card and go there, instead. I get an unsweetened black iced tea and treat myself to a cake pop. The total is $4.90, and my gift card covers it. (Note: Last weekend, I did a ton of spring cleaning and found a bunch of super random half-used gift cards. You’ll see these gift card expenditures pop-up a few times in this diary.)

4:50 p.m. — I fill up my gas tank. I drive a Prius and my incredibly cheap gas bill makes my car loan suck less. $23.14

7 p.m. — Boyfriend’s having a guys’ night, so I opt for laundry and dinner at my parents’ house. No one feels like cooking, so I go with my mom to pick up some fish tacos. Mom pays.

8:30 p.m. — My mom has Skinny Cow ice cream bars in the freezer. She really is the best.

12 a.m. — I finish my laundry pretty late, so I sleep at my parents’ house.

Daily Total: $40.93
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Day 3

10 a.m. — Cereal and tea at my parents’ house.

11:45 a.m. — I see a movie with my sister and boyfriend. Matinee tickets are $10.75 each, but my boyfriend has a gift card. My sister buys a Diet Coke for us to share. I maybe drink too much Diet Coke.

1:38 p.m. — We grab In-N-Out for lunch. I order a grilled cheese with a water cup. $2.45

2:25 p.m. — I take advantage of being at a shopping center and try to use up a couple of my spring-cleaning gift cards. I hit Old Navy and put my $1.05 gift card toward a pair of socks. $1.13

2:31 p.m. — I buy a mini eucalyptus candle from Bath & Body Works, using up my whopping $2.68 gift card. $2.23

5:29 p.m. — Sundays are when I typically do my grocery shopping for the week. I plan all of my meals based on what is on sale and what pairs with the food I already have in my pantry. I purchase cake mix and frosting for my mom’s birthday next weekend, along with chickpeas, pita, Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, tea, vegetable broth, strawberries, a lemon, and two avocados; I save 49%. The total comes out to $16.83, and I have a $25 gift card to cover it.

6 p.m. — I make a tostada with fajita veggies for dinner.

7:15 p.m. — I take a yin yoga class to unwind. I am a member at a yoga studio that's walking distance from my apartment, which eliminates my excuses. This class is included in my membership.

9 p.m. — I get home from yoga, light my new Bath & Body Works mini candle, and do some light food prep and straightening up before settling in for the night.

Daily Total: $5.81
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Day 4

8:30 a.m. — After about an hour of hitting snooze, I get ready, pour some iced tea into a tumbler and head to work.

10:30 a.m. — Breakfast at my desk: Overnight oats topped with fresh peaches and blueberries. This sets a pretty good tone for the rest of the day.

1:15 p.m. — Sad desk lunch: Leftover fajita veggies with beans, rice, and avocado. I wish it was In-N-Out.

3:45 p.m. — I snack on cucumber slices with homemade hummus and pita chips.

6:15 p.m. — Yoga class.

8 p.m. — For dinner, I make an omelet with veggies and cheese. After dinner, I do some food prep for the next day and straighten up a bit while I wait for my dry cleaning to get delivered.

8:45 p.m. — My dry cleaning gets delivered from Rinse. I got two blazers dry-cleaned, which costs $16, but I have a $15 credit, because they "missed me." $1

Daily Total: $1
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Day 5

6:36 a.m. — Up after four snoozes. My stomach is in knots after a poor night’s sleep, so I have some toast.

7:45 a.m. — I have an early meeting, so I head to work, iced tea in hand. I’m tired and I hate everything.

9 a.m. — There are donut holes in this meeting and I have four. I also have a banana. It’s about balance.

1:45 p.m. — SDL: beans, rice, avocado.

3 p.m. — I take our new intern to coffee and we expense it. I also show him where all the snacks are and grab a pack of mini Oreos for myself. I'm powerless against Oreos when I'm tired.

6:30 p.m. — I come home to find a box from Blue Apron. My friend sent me a "free" box to try out the service (I had to put in my credit card information and after the first week, my subscription will automatically renew. I cancel my subscription immediately after I bring the box inside, so I don’t get charged). The box contains three meals for two people. Initially, I had planned to share with my roommate, but she went out of town last-minute. Six free meals for me!

7 p.m. — Weekly chiropractor appointment in Marina Del Rey. It’s my 16th visit this year and insurance covers this now.

8 p.m. — I prep and cook one of my Blue Apron meals for dinner. It’s steakhouse salmon with thyme-seasoned potatoes, green beans, and mushrooms. The potatoes and veggies are phenomenal and I feel proud of myself, even though I had pretty much nothing to do with this.

9:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed and catch up on The Bachelorette.

Daily Total: $0
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Day 6

6:40 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm! It’s a miracle.

10:30 a.m. — I eat breakfast that I brought from home: yogurt topped with strawberries with sliced banana and honey from the work kitchen.

12 p.m. — I need a mental break from work, so I open my Vons app. Wednesdays are when the new weekly ad and coupons get posted to the app, so I begin to brainstorm next week’s meals. This is very adult of me.

1:30 p.m. — My boss takes our team out for sushi to welcome our new intern. We expense it.

6:15 p.m. — Yoga class.

8 p.m. — I make my second portion of salmon from Blue Apron for dinner, but I don't really have the appetite for it. I occasionally struggle with depression, and for no reason at all other than that, tonight is a hard night for me.

9:30 p.m. — I light some candles and take a bubble bath before I get ready for bed.

Daily Total: $0
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Day 7

8 a.m. — I was way too worn down to do extra meal prep last night, so I have a fig bar for breakfast and throw a bunch of random things from my pantry in a lunch bag for work. I also grab my daily iced tea to-go.

11 a.m. — I have a handful of honey dijon pretzels from Naturebox, which is a great subscription service if you actually have money. I got my first box for half the price and have been using referral credits since then. Once my credits run out, I’ll cancel.

12:15 p.m. — SDL of carrots, pita chips, and hummus, with instant "quinoa and couscous with summer veggies" from Naturebox. This meal doesn’t totally go together, but when you fail to plan, you plan to eat random snacks for lunch.

3 p.m. — I have some trail mix from the snack floor at work.

5:25 p.m. — I hit the Starbucks drive-thru right after work, because my eyelids are heavy, I have a long commute home, and also I think I might die without it. I get a venti iced black tea and a cake pop. It costs $4.90 and I use the second half of my gift card with 20 cents to spare.

6:45 p.m. — I prep my third Blue Apron meal, so that I can cook it quickly after I get home from yoga.

7:45 p.m. — Yoga class.

9:15 p.m. — I eat my second Blue Apron meal, spicy Korean rice cakes with snow peas and pea shoots.

Daily Total: $0
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