A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $56,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women 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 PR exec who balances Kraft mac 'n' cheese with broccoli.
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Industry:
Public-relations account executive
Age: 25
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $56,000
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $1,570.27 after taxes and 401(k) contribution are taken out. I’ve been working with a financial planner since 2013, when I graduated from grad school and started working full-time, and my retirement portfolio currently consists of a Roth IRA, 401(k), and whole-term life insurance policy.
Number of roommates: None
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $862.11 (I’m lucky that my monthly mortgage is low as a result of my parents giving me a large down payment for my studio.)
Condo Fee: $374
Car Insurance: $79.99 (My parents bought me my car in college.)
Loans: $0 (My parents paid for my grad school.)
Birchbox: $10
Comcast (TV/Internet): $104.57
Cell Phone: $89.64
Pre-Tax Metro Card Contribution: $40
Whole-Term Permanent Life Insurance Policy: $220.16 (an investment as part of my retirement portfolio, not just for insurance purposes)
Health Insurance: $0 (I’m on my parents' plan until I turn 26.)

Day 1

9:02 a.m. — For breakfast, I grab a bagel with lox and cream cheese along with an orange. My office provides bagels, doughnuts, and fruit every Friday, which is definitely a nice perk at the end of each workweek.

11:37 a.m. — I make a coffee with my office’s Flavia machine. The coffee isn’t bad and gives me a small pick-me-up.

12:30 p.m. — My company serves some leftovers from the office BBQ-themed happy hour we had yesterday, so it’s a chili hot dog and baked beans for me for lunch.

4:32 p.m. — I go with a coworker to grab iced green tea at Peet’s near our office. $2.81

6:30 p.m. — I meet up with three friends for dinner and get a cocktail and lamb salad. We also share some delicious Afghan veggie appetizers. $29.55

8:02 p.m. — I Uber home from the restaurant. $6.30

8:20 p.m. — I pick up some soda to mix with whiskey, since my boyfriend and I are just having a relaxing movie night at my place with drinks. $2.19

Daily Total: $40.85

Day 2

9:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I get some coffee at the coffee shop in my neighborhood. I get a chai-tea latte and he pays.

10:10 a.m. — We make one of my Marley Spoon meals that I received days earlier, which is a cook-at-home food-delivery service. We make “Crispy Rice and Vegetables with Shiitakes and Spicy Sesame Sauce." It’s an unusual breakfast, but tasty nonetheless.

2:43 p.m. — We’re heading to my friend’s barbecue, so I pick up some salsa, chips, and a six-pack of beer to bring. $17.42

3:36 p.m. — My boyfriend, friend, and I take a cab over to my friend’s barbecue, which is in a neighborhood pretty far away from me in D.C., and we split three ways. $9.67

4:02 p.m. — I eat ribs, pork belly, fajitas, smoked chicken wings, and some sides at the barbecue. Heavenly.

8:29 p.m. — We split another Uber from the barbecue to a housewarming in a different neighborhood. $7.59

Daily Total: $34.68

Day 3

11:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I grab drinks as we wait for our brunch table. I pay. $8.60

11:51 a.m. — For brunch, I order an omelet with tomatoes, peppers, and avocado. I also get a side of hash browns, toast, and coffee. Boyfriend pays.

4:25 p.m. — After playing tennis for most of the afternoon, I grab a Powerade. $2.89

7:01 p.m. — I do a load of laundry in the laundry room of my condo building. $1

7:31 p.m. — My boyfriend orders some Thai food — drunken noodles, papaya salad, and Tom Yum soup. I Venmo him for half of the cost. $13

7:55 p.m. — I order a small Moleskine journal online from Amazon. $9.09

Daily Total: $34.58

Day 4

9:25 a.m. — Breakfast is coffee from my work’s Flavia machine.

1:27 p.m. — I get out of a meeting and realize I still haven’t eaten today. I eat leftover Thai drunken noodles from the night before that I brought to work, and I grab a Diet Dr. Pepper from the vending machine. $0.50

1:44 p.m. — I buy a small salad from the café in my office building to supplement my leftovers. $5.80

5:32 p.m. — I decide to sign up for Green Chef, another cook-at-home food-delivery service. For my first week (which will be delivered next week), I receive six meals for the price of only two. $26.98

8:01 p.m. — I make the last meal from the Marley Spoon box I received last week — a tomato-based cod stew over couscous.

Daily Total: $33.28

Day 5

9 a.m. — I drove to work rather than Metro, since I’m going to drive to book club right after work. I pay for my office’s garage parking. $12

12:30 p.m. — I finish an already opened bag of wasabi-flavored chips and have some Progresso chicken-tortilla soup I had in my desk for lunch.

1:05 p.m. — During my lunch break, I pick up a birthday card at CVS for my friend’s party this Friday. $2.63

1:18 p.m. — I pick up a bottle of pinot grigio to bring to book club after work. $14.34

1:29 p.m. — I haven’t had caffeine yet today, and I’m starting to get the afternoon sleepies at work, so I make some coffee at the office.

6:40 p.m. — There’s wine and food at book club, so dinner consists of pinot grigio, mac 'n' cheese, salad, chips, and cookies.

Daily Total: $28.97

Day 6

11:40 a.m. — Busy morning at work, so I finally grab some coffee from work’s Flavia.

1:50 p.m. — I finally get around to eating after a busy day at work full of meetings — tomato-based cod stew over couscous that I made the other day.

2:14 p.m. — I order So You've Been Publicly Shamed Book by Jon Ronson off Amazon for next month’s book club. $11.48

7:55 p.m. — Taking advantage of the nice weather at a rooftop happy hour with a few girlfriends. I order margaritas, sangria, nachos, and tacos. $35.70

9:01 p.m. — I take a Lyft home instead of Uber, since Lyft is having a 50% off deal. $5.37

Daily Total: $52.55

Day 7

10:40 a.m. — Office coffee again.

1 p.m. — I meet my boyfriend at Nando’s for lunch since he works relatively close to me. We split a half chicken and two sides, which he pays for. I decide I’m still hungry and order fries, which I pay for. $3.03

4:30 p.m. — I make hot green tea with my office’s Flavia machine for an afternoon pick-me-up.

5:59 p.m. — I pick up some dish detergent at CVS. I use a $2 coupon. $0.76

6:20 p.m. — I’m craving mac 'n' cheese, so I pick up some Kraft along with broccoli and make that for dinner. Hoping the broccoli balances out the mac 'n' cheese. $6.08

Daily Total: $9.87

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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.


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