A Week In Los Angeles On A $42,000 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 Los Angeleno in fashion with a cereal pot luck.

Position: Merchandise allocator
Age: 26
Location: Los Angeles
Salary: $42,000 ($92,000 including husband's income.)
My Paycheck Amount (2x a month minus taxes, etc.): $1,196
Number of roommates: 1 (husband)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,145 for a tiny 1-bedroom.
Loan Payments: Student loan, $230; car payment, $300; motorcycle payment, $163.
Credit Cards: $400
Utilities: Electricity and gas: $60
Transportation: I live very close to the office, so I don’t spend a lot on gas for my car. If I put in $20 of gas, it will usually last close to two weeks.
Car/Motorcycle Insurance: $380 (Once loans are paid off, this will be cut in half.)
Phone Bill: $190 (Ugh.)
Health Insurance: $400 (But that’s taken out of my husband’s check, so I don’t worry about it.)
Savings: We’re not that great at saving, but I usually try to put aside $50 to 100 from each paycheck. I also have 4% of my paycheck put into 401(k).
Planet Fitness: $10
Ipsy: $10
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Day 1

7:45 a.m. — I have a habit of sleeping in until the last minute. I pick out my outfit (I prepped my lunch the night before. I rush out the door, stop and get breakfast at Starbucks. Venti coffee with nonfat milk and a blueberry muffin. After inhaling my breakfast, I do my makeup in the car before hopping on the employee shuttle that takes us from parking lot to headquarters. $6

1 p.m. — I finished my reports and sending out my new receipts (“new receipts” are new styles to stores). I get really restless staring at my computer for hours on end, so I go for a walk on our rooftop parking lot. On my way back to my desk, I stop by the vending machine and buy a can of Sprite. $.75

3:30 p.m. — Store planner who sits on the other side of my cubicle partition asks if I want the rest of her snacks — a banana and some grapes. I happily accept (score!).

6 p.m. — I go to the grocery store to get some supplies for dinner and essential groceries. Toilet paper, boneless chicken, nonfat milk, broccoli, red bell peppers, tilapia, Special K, etc. $63

Daily Total: $69.75
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Day 2

7 a.m. — I try to get some time in at the gym — treadmill and biking. Membership is covered in the monthly fee of $10, which is super affordable.

9 a.m. — We’re having a “Cereal Day” in the Retail Department. It’s a potluck, so I bring the box of Special K that I got when I went grocery shopping. It's actually a really cute potluck. We have about 20 boxes of cereal and various milks available. And everyone (myself included) keeps taking Snaps of the doughnuts covered in Lucky Charms. I shamelessly have three bowls of Golden Grahams.

1:30 p.m. — I head on out to the lunch truck parked in our parking lot. I order three chicken tacos. $6

3 p.m. — Kylie Jenner is restocking. I’m kind of obsessed. I order “Posie K” and “Kristen.” It’s extremely overpriced, but the lip kits are great quality. $58

8 p.m. — Husband and I are semi-alive on the couch, trying to find something to watch on Netflix. We order a pizza and breadsticks on GrubHub. $20

Daily Total: $84
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Day 3

8:30 a.m. — I’m the first one in the office. It gives me a chance to finish my reports before everyone gets here. I also pay our cell phones. $190, counted in monthly expenses.

1 p.m. — I eat a Greek-style salad and some BBQ chips at my desk while I send the stores some necklaces.

2 p.m. — My coworkers and I decide to take a break, and we go downstairs to the corporate boutique. The boutique carries styles from past seasons, sample sizes, and everything in between. Everything is extremely well-priced for employees. My coworker buys a dress for $15, and I decide to get some hoop earrings. $5

6 p.m. — I make tilapia, rice, and broccoli for dinner. My husband just found out he’s diabetic, so we’re trying to eat healthier.

Daily Total: $5
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Day 4

8:30 a.m. — I’m feeling fancy and I order a chai tea latte instead of my normal coffee from Starbucks, and a blueberry muffin. $7

12 p.m. — Leftover fish and rice for lunch, I’m still starving afterwards. Coworkers and I go for a Starbucks run. I drink my iced coffee and snack on a protein bar at my desk. $3

3 p.m. — Retail Operations department is celebrating someone’s birthday in the conference room, and we’re invited. I stock up on chips and dip.

5 p.m. — Husband wants to go to the movies tonight. I insist on purchasing the tickets through my company (it’s cheaper.) $16

8 p.m. — Husband orders nachos and soda every single time we’re at the movie theater. I’m more of the “smuggle my whole dinner and whatever snacks fit in my purse” type of girl. $18

Daily Total: $44
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Day 5

9:30 a.m. — I pull a packet of instant pumpkin-flavored oatmeal out of my desk drawer. A very unsatisfying breakfast — I'm still hungry.

10 a.m. — My coworker and I are makeup-obsessed. We spend the next half hour discussing Colourpop’s colors of ultra-matte/ultra-satin lipsticks. I order Beeper and Clueless and Midi. $18

10:30 a.m. — I run to the cafeteria and grab a cup of coffee before my next meeting. They serve free coffee until 11. But honestly, it tastes like shit.

11 a.m. — I LOVE distribution meetings with the buyers. It’s so exciting to see what styles will be hitting stores next month. I take mental notes of what I want to by for myself later.

2 p.m. — Meeting with director of Planning and Allocation. These weekly meetings are nerve-wracking and make me crave chocolate and a Xanax.

2:30 p.m. — Quick lunch at my desk. Green tea and tuna salad, but I’d rather be stuffing my face with Domino’s pepperoni pizza. I brought the salad from home, and I keep a box of tea packets at my desk.

4 p.m. — Promotional meeting with department heads. I enjoy these kinds of meetings, because I can sit in the back and just take notes. And all of my superiors are very entertaining with their drama, so it’s like watching a show.

6 p.m. — I go to the mall instead of going home. I stop at Victoria’s Secret; I need a new bra. It’s so hard to find a style that fits me comfortably. Gotta love my DDDs. I give up on finding something.

Daily Total: $18
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Day 6

9:30 a.m. — I’d rather be sleeping, but I drag my butt to the gym. I spend my time on the bike while watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Guy Fieri makes me crave pancakes.

10 a.m. — Shower and get ready for the day. I have a cheesy bagel and some green tea. Husband is in the garage, working on his motorcycle. I get comfy with my tea and marathon a few episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I’M SO EXCITED FOR THE REVIVAL.

1 p.m. — Husband takes me to his favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant and we share some chilaquiles. He covers the bill. I live for these chilaquiles.

3 p.m. — We stop by my brother-in-law's house to meet his new pit-bull puppy, named Bruce Willis. I cry from his cuteness. I want a puppy so bad. But our apartment building doesn’t allow pets.

6 p.m. — Still at my brother-in-law's house; we decide to have a family BBQ. I run to the grocery store with our nephews. We pick up salsa, Diet Coke, carne asada, and tortillas. $17

Daily Total: $17
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Day 7

10 a.m. — Pan Dulce and coffee at a Mexican coffee shop down the street from our place. $5

11 a.m. — Time for church. Our church is cool; it’s in an old theater in Downtown Los Angeles.

12:30 p.m. — We like to walk around the Farmers' Market that shuts down the block next to our church. We buy some strawberries and a loaf of sourdough bread. $7

3 p.m. — I hate doing laundry, with a burning passion. I save all my clothes to do in one sitting. It’s a pain to take everything to the laundromat. $20

6 p.m. — We’re too lazy/tired to make dinner. I heat up some leftover asada and serve some salad on the side.

8 p.m. — Husband puts on Gladiator on Netflix and we both fall asleep to it.

Daily Total: $32
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