A Week In Los Angeles, CA On A $68,000 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.
This week: a marketing manager who makes $68,000 per year and spends it on very large croissants.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Financial Services
Age: 28
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $68,000/year (mine) + $118,000 (partner's)
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,866 after taxes and deductions
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $2,200/month to rent a dated two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with no laundry and one parking spot in a nice neighborhood. My husband handles all of the expenses related to the apartment, including rent and utilities. We used to own a small condo, but we sold it two years ago at a nice profit with the idea of upgrading to a house. We are still living in the "temporary" apartment with no end in sight, since the housing market here is crazy and you get very little for a lot of money. We're planning on settling in, and waiting for a housing crash — which is an absolutely awful thing to wish for, but seems to be the only way we will get our foot in the door.
Loan Payments: $750/month for two new cars plus $120 for husband's student loans. He handles all three expenses.
All Other Monthly Expenses: My husband and I maintain separate finances. To make up for the discrepancy between our salaries, we loosely divide up what we pay for. My spending typically includes the following each month:
Daughter's College Fund: $400 (My husband also contributes)
Savings: $500 (at minimum)
Pre-School: $479, which covers two mornings per week. (Our extended family very generously provides childcare for free.)
401(k): $418, deducted from my paycheck.
Roth IRA: $250
Orthodontist: $250 for my monthly Invisalign payment.
Gym Membership: $82
HBO: $14.99 (for the add-on subscription to our Amazon Prime account)
Netflix: $9.99
Microsoft Office: $6.99 subscription on our shared family laptop
Charitable Giving: $15 recurring gifts to Planned Parenthood and EMILY's List
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5:30 a.m. — I creep out of the house to hit the gym before my daughter wakes up. I've been on a roll with working out three mornings a week, but waking up this early is the worst. Since we're out of bananas, I grab an applesauce pouch from the kid's snack basket to eat on the way. After I park, I realize that I've forgotten my water bottle. I grab one from the fridge behind the check-in desk and they charge it to my card on file. $2

6:45 a.m. — I get home to find my husband and daughter watching Bob the Builder on the sofa, and the coffee already made. While my husband gets ready for work, I dress my daughter, pack her bag for the day and my lunch, and drink my coffee while feeding her breakfast (peanut butter toast and sliced strawberries). My husband and daughter leave for the day (he drops her off at his mom's on the way). I eat the remnants of her breakfast and get ready for work, then I grab my lunch and head out the door.

2:30 p.m. — I've been in meetings all morning, so I am just getting to eat my sad desk lunch. I haven't been to the grocery store in a week and I try to bring my lunch to work every day, so it was slim pickings in the fridge this morning. I have some tired-looking blackberries, two cheese sticks, the last of the the Marcona almonds in the house, and another applesauce pouch. The office fridge is out of sparking water, which I use as an excuse to walk to the Starbucks down the street for a Teavana Passion Tango iced tea. $1.95

5:30 p.m. — I scoop up my daughter up from her grandma's and we stop at the park on the way home. (Our apartment only has a small patio.) She and I are on our own tonight because my husband has class after work. After the park, we stop at Trader Joe's for our weekly shopping: bagged salad, carrots, bananas, hummus, salsa, some fun cheeses, crackers, more applesauce pouches, mini pizzas, Joe's O's, berries, yogurt, lots of meat, pasta, sparkling water, and Cats Cookies. When we get home, I throw dinner together for us. It's already kind of late and we go straight into the bath/stories/bed routine. After she's in bed, I settle in with the cookies to watch Golden Girls on my sister's Hulu account. I try to wait up for my husband, but fall asleep on the sofa. $168.92

Daily Total: $172.87
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6 a.m. — Swimming lesson registration for our daughter opens up at 6 a.m., so I've been up and waiting for the clock to hit 6. When it does, I log into the website and see that the time slots for our first and second choice times have already filled. I quickly sign up for our third choice and pay the $50 fee. Our daughter has preschool this morning, so I head to the kitchen to get the coffee going and pack her lunch (meatballs from the freezer, carrots, cucumbers, half a banana, and two cookies), and mine (basically an adult Lunchable with fruit). My husband gets dressed, wakes our daughter up and gets her ready, and heads out the door with her by 7:30. I pay a little extra for her to eat breakfast at school and it is totally worth it. $50

12:30 p.m. — I hate eating lunch at my desk, so I walk to the office park next door to get some outside time. I use some credits on my Amazon account to buy the novel The Circle on my Kindle. $5

5:15 p.m. — I'm meeting a friend for a Pilates class after work. The directions to the studio show that there's an Ulta nearby, so I leave work a little early to stop by and replenish my supply of Living Proof shampoo and conditioner. My hair changed for the worse after having my daughter, and while these products are pricey, I feel like my hair looks so much better when I use them. I also buy a sheet mask, and some detangling spray for my daughter's hair. $58

6 p.m. — The studio my friend invited me to join her at has a deal for first-timers, meaning my class is only $10! Keeping up with friends has been a challenge since I had my daughter, so it's nice to get a visit and a workout in at the same time. She decides to join me at home after class until traffic dies down. By the time we get there, my husband and daughter have already eaten, so we all play with her and snack on things from the fridge for dinner. My husband handles bath and bedtime, so that my friend and I can hang out on the couch. After our daughter is asleep, he joins us and we open up the bottle of wine I bought at Trader Joe's yesterday. $10

Daily Total: $123
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5:30 a.m. — I have every intention of going to the gym this morning, but my daughter wakes up when she hears me in the living room. She can be kind of noisy and I am already dressed to leave the house, so I strap her into her stroller and we walk around the neighborhood for awhile, ending up at the overpriced but Instagram-worthy coffee shop nearby. I decide to surprise my husband with breakfast. I buy two coffees, two very large croissants, and have the barista pour a little milk into a short cup for my daughter. (She feels like such a big girl when she gets "coffees.") I make sure to take a picture of her with her cup for the 'gram before we leave. $9.50

10 a.m. — I take a quick work break to purchase a gift for a bridal shower I am going to in a couple weeks. My friend is really into puzzles, so I download one of her engagement photos from their wedding website and order a custom puzzle from a vendor on Etsy. I also buy a cute wine stopper off their registry. My plan is to add a bottle of wine, a gift card to their favorite takeout place, and some candy, and package it all up as a "Date Night In" basket. $39

12:30 p.m. — Vendor lunch! My firm advertises in an industry publication and their ad sales rep is taking me out to lunch to discuss opportunities to expand our current online campaign. She and I have known each other for a long time, so we talk about work for approximately 10 minutes, and our kids for the rest of lunch. We each have a salad, and split a flatbread. She picks up the tab.

3:30 p.m. — I'm feeling really droopy, so I grab a Diet Coke from the fridge in the conference room.

5:30 p.m. — My husband has class after work again, so it's another girls night for my daughter and me. After picking her up from my mother-in-law's house, we head straight home for dinner: baked chicken, rice, green beans, and strawberries for her, and baked chicken with half a bag of the Trader Joe's Kale +Hemp Seed Salad for me. We play with toys and read stories for a little bit, and then snuggle up on the couch to watch The Little Mermaid. We only make it through half the movie before she starts rubbing her eyes. It's a bit early, but she was also up an hour early this morning. We skip the bath tonight and I lay with her in bed until she falls asleep.

10 p.m. — My husband gets home and he is ravenous. He eats the rest of the TJ's salad and chicken while I pack lunches for the tomorrow and we chat about our day. Having him in school has been really challenging. He spends at least two nights a week in class, plus time on the weekends studying, so a lot of the household and childcare duties have fallen to me. However, we both really think it'll be worth it in the long run — and he only has six months left!

Daily Total: $48.50
4 of 8
8 a.m. — Late start this morning; luckily, I packed lunches last night! My husband leaves to drop our daughter off as school. Before I head out, I throw some gym clothes in a bag in case I can squeeze in a workout at lunch.

9:30 a.m. — Since I didn't have time to make coffee at home this morning, I grab some from the office kitchen.

1 p.m. — I manage to get to the gym, and while I remembered to pack my gym clothes, I forgot to pack my water bottle. Again. $2

2:15 p.m. — Back at my desk, I eat lunch and work on updates for the company website.

5:45 p.m. — We are all home at a reasonable hour, so we cook dinner and eat as a family. Our daughter loves to "help" in the kitchen, and we've found that when she helps, she actually tries what we make. She's generally skeptical of new foods, so this has expanded her palate a lot! It's really nice out, so after dinner we walk to Yogurtland. My husband pays for a strawberry fro-yo, and we split it three ways.

Daily Total: $2
5 of 8
6 a.m. — Today is my work-from-home day, so I start checking email and working on a website analytics report from my laptop in bed. The earlier I get the day started, the earlier I can finish.

7:30 a.m. — My husband has already left for work. He's already fed our daughter breakfast — scrambled eggs (eaten), strawberry yogurt (uneaten), strawberries (eaten) — so I get her dressed and then strap her in her stroller to go to my parents' home for the day. We are really lucky that both sets of our parents live nearby and provide free daycare for us. We save a ton of money, and our daughter has developed very close and special relationships with all four grandparents.

7:55 a.m. — On the walk back to our apartment, I eat the banana I stuck in my bag and stop at Starbucks for an iced coffee. When I get home, I settle in on the sofa for a few hours of uninterrupted work. $1.95

10:30 a.m. — I take a quick break from work to throw a load of laundry into the washer. Our apartment has a communal laundry room at $1 for a wash and $1 for a dry. I probably spend about $14-$20 a week on laundry. My biggest wish would be to have in-house laundry, but that's kind of a rarity in L.A., unless you want to pay a lot more in rent than what we pay now. One day! $2

11:45 a.m. — Lunch time. I make up a plate for myself (hummus, baby carrots, two kinds of cheese, crackers, and a sliced apple) and eat it while working at the kitchen table. I notice that we're running low on a couple things and make a note to go to the grocery store this evening for a supplemental grocery shop.

12:15 p.m. — Throw in another load of laundry. $2

1:45 p.m. — Throw in another load of laundry. I've been dumping all the clean stuff on our bed throughout the day... will deal with it later. $2

3 p.m. — I'm done with work for the day. I grab the last load of laundry out of the dryer and drop the basket of clean stuff just inside the front door. I decide to quickly swing by Trader Joe's before picking up my daughter to grab things we are running low on (bananas, milk, salad greens, strawberries, and eggs). I also pick up a couple things for dinner tonight. $37.24

4 p.m. — I drive straight from the store to pick up my daughter. My husband is home when we get there, so he helps bring in the groceries and stroller from the car.

6:30 p.m. — It's pizza party night! At TJ's, I bought two bags of their pizza dough, a tub of sauce, pepperoni, and green peppers. That, plus some cheese we already have in the fridge, will make our pizzas. Our daughter puts her toppings on and sits in front of the oven watching it cook for the entire 10 minutes it takes.

9:30 p.m. — While I put our daughter to bed, my husband folds and puts away all the laundry. We decide to rent a movie from Amazon. It takes us awhile to agree on something but we finally settle on Argo since neither of us has seen it. We finish the bottle of wine from earlier in the week, and split a bowl of Cat Cookies. $3.99

Daily Total: $49.18
6 of 8
7 a.m. — My toddler hasn't grasped the concept of sleeping in, so she is up early no matter what day of the week it is. She and I go hang out in the living room so my husband can get a little more sleep. (We try to take turns doing this on the weekend.) We watch public television cartoons, play with dolls and puzzles, and eat cereal with bananas for breakfast while he sleeps.

8:30 a.m. — My husband is up and he makes coffee. My daughter and I walk to the laundry room to throw a load in the washer. She helps me put the coins in but drops a quarter behind the machine, so I have to run back to the apartment to grab another one. $1.25

9:30 a.m. — Before my husband leaves for the library to study for a couple hours, I run to switch the laundry into the dryer. I don't take my daughter with me this time. Since we are running low on quarters, losing another one behind the machine would mean we wouldn't have enough to finish the laundry. $1

12:30 p.m. — I make lunch: a quesadilla and baby carrots for my daughter, and a chicken/hummus/veggie wrap for my husband and me. He'll eat his when he gets home. My daughter and I take a walk around the block before she goes down for a nap.

1:30 p.m. — While our daughter sleeps, my husband folds and puts away the laundry and I speed clean the kitchen. We consider putting away all her toys (we keep them in baskets in the living room), but decide to leave them be until after she's asleep tonight.

3 p.m. — Day-date! We drop our daughter off at my in-laws' house and take an Uber from there to a nearby brewery. My husband doesn't have an Uber account, so I pay. $6.50

3:30 p.m. — At the brewery, we order two beer flights. After we finish those, I order each of us a draught of the one we like the best before closing the tab and tipping the bartender. We are kind of hungry and there is a food truck outside, but since they only take cash, my husband orders food from the brewery. He pays for a sandwich, a wrap, and some croquettes. $26.40

5:45 p.m. — We Uber back to my in-laws' house and hang out there for the rest of the evening. My mother-in-law is happy to feed our daughter dinner, and around 8 we scrounge for food in her fridge before driving home. $7

Daily Total: $42.15
7 of 8
8:45 a.m. — It's my sleep-in morning, and when I wake up, I see a text from my husband letting me know he took our daughter to the park. If I rush, I can make it to a 9 a.m. spin class at my gym. I grab an applesauce pouch to eat in the car as I run out the door.

10 a.m. — My sister happened to be in the same spin class as me, so we decide to get an iced tea from Starbucks and walk around the nearby stores for a little bit. We end up in Anthropologie, which is always dangerous, but luckily for my wallet, I am too sweaty to try anything on. $2.95

11:30 a.m. — I am starving when I get home, so I eat some of the leftover pizza from Friday over the sink. My husband and daughter walk in the door and catch me in the act, so I make her a plate of leftover pizza (eaten), green beans (half-eaten), and half a banana (rejected).

1:45 p.m. — Nap time! My husband wants to watch Bosch, but he is a few episodes behind me, so I take the opportunity to do a little online shopping. My daughter needs new warm-weather clothes and Old Navy just happens to be having a sale: 40% off plus free shipping! I buy her a bunch of shorts and t-shirts, and throw in a summer dresses for myself and a work appropriate button-down for my husband. $89.53

3:30 p.m. — My daughter wakes up grumpy from her nap, so I give her a cup of milk and some Goldfish. We "do homework" (color) at the kitchen table while my husband does some reading for school.

6:30 p.m. — I find turkey burger patties in the freezer and my husband throws them on the grill. I microwave two potatoes for a few minutes, and then put them in the oven to cook the rest of the way. Add a Trader Joe's bagged salad on side and some sliced strawberries, and it's time for dinner!

7 p.m. — It's really beautiful outside, so we sit on the patio stairs. We didn't want to invest in chairs for the patio last summer because we didn't think we would still be living here, but since it looks like our living situation is going to stay the same for the foreseeable future, I might keep my eye out for some on sale. Our daughter wants to blow bubbles, but we left our bottle at the park last week. We improvise with a pie tin, dish soap, and a wire dry cleaning hanger. Works great!

Daily Total: $92.48
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