A Week In Orange County, CA On A $43,600 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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: an assistant media negotiator who makes $43,600 per year and spends it on food and snacks at Coachella.
Advertisement
Occupation: Assistant Media Negotiator
Industry: Entertainment Marketing
Age: 24
Location: Orange County, CA, but I commute to my job in L.A. Monday through Friday.
Salary: $43,600
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,415
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $0. I live at home with my parents and little sister while I pay off my student loans.
Loan Payments: $750 in student loans
All Other Monthly Expenses
Car: $266
Car Insurance: $238
Gas: on average, around $225
Netflix: $7.99
HBO Now: $14.99
Cell Phone: $85. I'm on a family plan, but I pay my parents back for my portion, which also includes my monthly iPhone payment.
Health Insurance: $0. I'm on my mom's plan.
Charitable donations: ~$25 a month, which goes to either Planned Parenthood or Doctors Without Borders.
Savings: At least $500, but sometimes less. I've had some pretty hefty doctor bills lately.
1 of 8
7:30 a.m. — Wake up and have my usual: I squeeze the juice of one lemon and add water. I also have half a bottle of ginger kombucha and plain organic Greek yogurt, both of which are from Whole Foods. (I bought these groceries myself. Every once in a while, my mom picks up lemons and/or yogurt for me, and if she makes dinner, I'll usually have some if I haven't bought something already.) The yogurt was actually super reasonably priced (less than $6 for a tub that lasts me all week), and the kombucha was on sale (two for $5). I started drinking it for the first time a few days ago and really like it. I also have a packet of Emergen-C because I've had a perpetual head cold and really need to be on my game today since I'm going to Coachella!

12 p.m. — I make it to the festival parking lot and walk around the hot desert for almost 45 minutes before I find my friends at their campsite. I bring a bottle of rosé and a few cans of beer that I bought at Whole Foods a while back. I get sweaty, and my blood sugar dips while I try to find them, so I stop by a grilled cheese stand. Let the expensive festival food and beverage purchases begin! The sandwich does the trick, and I tip $1. I worked in the food industry to support myself throughout college and bought groceries entirely from my tip money, so I tip whenever possible. $8

2:30 p.m. — My friends and I make it into the festival grounds and I am very dehydrated from drinking too much rosé at the pre-game. I'm aware that I sound like an annoying, basic, L.A., Coachella bitch right now, but let me live! I buy a bottle of water for myself and my friend. $4

3:30 p.m. — Need. More. Water. $2

5:30 p.m. — I get low blood sugar again, so I leave my friends in the Sahara tent to go buy grilled corn on the cob with butter, parm, and yummy seasonings. After, I go into the Yuma tent alone to see some of my favorite underground DJs from the U.K. My friends don't know who they are, so it's fine that I'm solo. The crowd is different, and there's a very welcoming, European club feeling. I feel at home — and not so basic anymore. $5

7 p.m. — I leave the Yuma tent to go to the bathroom and get more water, and I end up walking past a Juice Served Here stand. Still coughing (I can only imagine what I'm putting my immune system through here), I buy a spicy green juice and a bottle of water. I leave a 15% tip. $14.95

8:30 p.m. — I'm hungry again and pass by a trendy burger stand where I order a cheeseburger with fries, then tip 15%. Unfortunately, the burger is served cold. By the time the fest is over for the night, I'm feeling pretty sick, so I end up driving back home. It takes about an hour and a half, but I'm glad to sleep in my clean, comfy bed, rather than in a dusty sleeping bag in a noisy campground. $16.10

Daily Total: $50.05
2 of 8
10:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling super sick again; not surprising. My cough is so bad that I decide to skip the entire day and lay in bed. Luckily, most of the artists I want to see performed yesterday or are performing tomorrow, but I'm bummed about missing Lady Gaga. One good thing: Since my mom works in radio, she scores me a free general admission pass every year, so I don't feel pressure to attend if I'm not feeling well. I drink my lemon juice, and half a bottle of kombucha, have an Emergen-C, and eat a few pieces of bread with olive oil.

2 p.m. — I need to stock up on more things to get better, so I go to Whole Foods. I buy three bottles of kombucha, a shot of ginger, a shot of turmeric, more Emergen-C packs, a few packets of chocolate almond butter, a tub of yogurt, Mediterranean olives from the olive bar, and a pack of sushi with salmon, tuna, and avocado for dinner later. $50.88

Daily Total: $50.88
Advertisement
3 of 8
9 a.m. — I wake up feeling better and and excited to get back to the festival. I have some lemon juice, kombucha, Emergen-C, a cup of coffee from the Keurig machine, an egg fried in olive oil and topped with Crystal hot sauce (probably my favorite meal ever besides In-N-Out), and some smoked bacon that my dad made. The perks of living at home!

2 p.m. — I drive back out to Palm Springs for a pool party at a hotel. I'm not super hungry, but I know I'll get low blood sugar at the party, so I have a chocolate chip Clif bar that I brought with me.

2:30 p.m. — Get to the party and it's hot as hell. Gotta have a margarita; I tip 15%. Luckily, they're providing free ice water, so I make sure to fill up my cup throughout the afternoon. $13.80

7:30 p.m. — I finally make it to the festival after waiting to park for almost an hour. I'm starving and make a beeline for the Spicy Pie stand. I order a slice of pepperoni-jalapeño-pineapple pizza and a water bottle to go. I tip $15%. $10.05

8 p.m. — A friendly Australian guy who's my age sees me eating my pizza and starts waving at me from outside the beer garden. He promptly comes over and asks to add his friends' phone numbers into my phone since his is dying. We hang out for a while so he can call/find his friends, and he lets me sip on some of his beer. We exchange info and he offers to let me stay at his place in Queensland if I ever travel "down under." It probably won't happen, but you never know! I love meeting people this way.

10 p.m. — Just saw Lorde with my friends, and she was her usual amazing self. I'm in a great mood and I really want to conserve energy for Kendrick Lamar, so I stop by the Go Get 'Em Tiger pop-up and buy a grossly overpriced iced latte with almond milk. I'm in too good of a mood to care. I tip 15%. $11.50

1 a.m. — I stop by a gas station on the way home to fill up. Since this trip is not a part of my usual commute, I consider this to be an extra expense, separate from my monthly gas payments. A group of girls about my age in festival attire ask if I can drive them to a nearby house party. It's only five minutes away and next to the highway, so I agree. They give me $15! (But I'm kind of bummed they don't invite me along.) $20.35

Daily Total: $55.70
4 of 8
12 p.m. — I take the day off, thank God. I have my usual breakfast of lemon and water, kombucha, and yogurt, and I munch on stuff around the house all day while doing laundry.

Daily Total: $0
5 of 8
6 a.m. — Back to reality. I have my lemon and water, a cup of coffee, some kombucha, and yogurt with frozen raspberries. My commute is about two hours, so I always end up eating my yogurt in the car. Don't worry; I'm an expert driver.

12 p.m. — It's TV Upfronts season, so a major cable network group representative comes in to tell us about upcoming programming for the next broadcast year. They bring sandwiches and salad for us.

5 p.m. — I grab a free granola bar from the office kitchen. Free snacks are a relatively new thing around here, and I'm definitely a fan of the situation.

8 p.m. — I get home and eat leftover chicken nachos my mom bought from the Mexican place near our house. Can't turn down free nachos.

Daily Total: $0
6 of 8
6 a.m. — I have my usual in the car and make a mental note to get more kombucha later this week.

10 a.m. — I eat a free granola bar from the office kitchen and wash it down with office coffee. It's the super old-fashioned kind from a giant industrial coffee maker circa 1998, but I'm desperate.

2:30 p.m. — I walk into the kitchen at just the right moment: Someone had a catered meeting and has left the remaining sandwiches on the counter. I help myself to half of an Italian and some salad.

6 p.m. — I attend another network group's Upfront presentation; this one is being hosted at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. I have free sushi and champagne for dinner — definitely not a regular occurrence. It's just once a year!

9 — I see some old coworkers and we hang out for a while before leaving. Valet is complimentary but I tip $5, the smallest bill I have on me. $5

Daily Total: $5
7 of 8
6 a.m. — Lemon water and coffee, and yogurt in the car. This time I mix in a chocolate almond butter pack.

12 p.m. — I'm supposed to attend a training seminar today, but there's a major power outage in our building. We all evacuate the building and head to the courtyard outside. I'm starving and buy a bag of organic spicy corn chips. $5

12:30 p.m. — We hold the training outside and order a catered lunch. I have half a chicken wrap with garbanzo beans, tomatoes, and pesto, and a kale salad with lots of blue cheese.

4 p.m. — The power is back on! I grab a cup of green tea from the office kitchen.

5:30 p.m. — I'm craving a diet orange soda and grab one from the office fridge, wondering why my PMS is treating me this way. It's been extra bad the past few months. I think it's stress from my commute running longer than usual because of construction. Sometimes, I spend a total of five hours a day in my car. My body can't handle this much longer.

7 p.m. — I'm stuck in traffic on my way home and bored, so I decide to buy Kendrick Lamar's new album on iTunes. It's $9.99, and I'm way more into him than I ever expected. I also purchase a new remix by an up-and-coming U.K. house producer/DJ ($1.29). It reminds me of my trip to London last summer. Music is the only thing that gets me through my commute. $11.28

8 p.m. — I'm not super hungry, so I eat the rest of the chips I bought earlier today with leftover Easter candy.

Daily Total: $16.28
8 of 8
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.

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists around two topics:

Mothers: Are you a single mom, expecting your first, raising a toddler? We want to hear how you spend your money!

Women in Debt: Are you paying off credit cards, a big student loan bill, a monthly mortgage? Tell us how you make your money work for you!

Have a money diary you'd like to share? Submit it to us here.
Advertisement