A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $57,000 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.
Today for Money Diaries Month: a marketing project manager who makes $57,000 per year and spends some of it on hair glitter and dog training.
Occupation: Marketing Project Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 30
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $57,000 salary, plus a biannual bonus (varies).
Babysitting & Freelancing: ~ $5,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,663
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,664 for a 450-square-foot studio in Belltown. This includes $25 pet rent.
Loans: None. Thanks to the Tennessee HOPE scholarship, my college education was free.
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Utilities: $60-80
Health Insurance/Dental: $68 every paycheck for an HSA (company matched).
Internet/Cable: $100.
Phone Bill: $0. The $80 is currently covered by my parents. I stopped using a company-paid phone when I was laid off six months ago, and they'd paid for it since.
Savings: $0. I'm working on paying off credit cards.
Transportation: $150. I don't own a car. I usually set aside about $150 for my Orca card, which I can use on the bus, light rail, ferry, and for car or ride sharing services.
Hulu & Netflix: $15
Amazon Subscribe & Save: $50
Credit Cards: $200 - 500. I have about $10,000 in credit card debt. I've been laid off four times since I graduated in 2009. (Hi Recession!) I hope to knock this out in the next year or so.
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8 a.m. — I make myself a smoothie to-go with an acai frozen packet, banana, mango, almond milk, protein powder, yogurt, and greens powder. I walk to work and smile at everyone stuck in traffic. It usually takes me about 30 minutes, as I like to walk through Pike Place Market.

12 p.m. — I prepped a sandwich last night — turkey, brie, and mustard on a pretzel bagel. I also have fruit.

1 p.m. — My coworker and I take a walk on what is a beautiful day. We grab cold brew at one of my favorite third-wave coffee places and I pay with cash from babysitting over the weekend. I regularly babysit for a family from my nanny days; they have become like a second family to me and generously pay $25/hour. $6.06

4 p.m. — I haven't taken a full grocery shopping trip in the six months since I was laid off (I ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches), so I treat myself to a trip to Whole Foods in light of getting my first paycheck. I take a Car2Go to the bigger Whole Foods that won't be overrun with Amazon employees, and so I won't have to worry about carrying everything ($20). I buy strawberries, bananas, cherries, asparagus, lettuce, satsumas, peaches, carrots, apples, blueberries, cucumbers, peppers, cauliflower, chicken breast, ground beef, chicken sausage, eggs, almond milk, avocados, tortillas, crackers, nuts, bacon, yogurt, and cold brew. Grocery shopping is one of my favorite things. I can't explain how happy this makes me. $113.87

7 p.m. — I take a break from a meal prep frenzy to work out in my apartment building's gym. There are perks with paying a higher rent, like an on-site gym and a killer rooftop, but I do miss paying $850 at the income-restricted building I lived in up until a year ago. After I was promoted, I didn't qualify anymore.

8 p.m. — I take my dog for our daily walk through the Seattle Center. Access to a big grassy area is also a huge score for downtown living. The sunset is gorgeous so we hang out for a bit. I also call my mom in Atlanta and chat about the hockey game. (Go Preds!)

9 p.m. — I'm not too hungry because I snacked on everything I prepped earlier, so I drink the leftovers from my smoothie this morning and watch this week's episodes of Silicon Valley and Veep using my brother's HBOGo login. (I maintain his website, so it's only fair.) I also do a load of laundry; another perk of my new apartment is having an in-unit washer and dryer! I read a little and go to bed tired.

Daily Total: $119.93
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7 a.m. — I'm up early for a meeting with our team in Germany. I make my smoothie and take cold brew with me too. I order a Car2Go to get to work since I'm shorter on time. $4

10 a.m. — My manager invites me to go get coffee with her. I brought coffee with me to avoid expensive coffee runs, but I'm also trying to be friendly and social at my new job. I suggest the place I went yesterday. I get the same thing and we hang out for a bit. I use babysitting cash again to pay. $6.06

1 p.m. — I eat a chicken avocado salad with crackers, crudités, and fruit I prepped last night.

4 p.m. — I walk home through Pike Place Market and debate getting some of the gorgeous peonies that are finally available. I resist and save myself $20.

5 p.m. — My dog and I do our normal walk. There's an event going on so the park is a little busier than I'd like. But the Starbucks coffee truck gives us a free “puppuccino,” which my dog loves.

7 p.m. — I have an autoimmune thyroid disease and am feeling really run-down after yesterday's activity and intense workout (and, in general, a stressful year). I do a rejuvenating yoga session using Aaptiv and feel a little better after.

8 p.m. — I eat the meatballs, mustard greens, and cauliflower puree I prepped yesterday while catching up on some freelance work.

10 p.m. — I go to bed early since I'm feeling tired and want to avoid any crashes tomorrow. I just started a new job and need to be on my A-game! I read a little more of my book.

Daily Total: $10.06
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8 a.m. — I make my smoothie, grab coffee, and walk to work.

12 p.m. — After a morning of meetings, I'm super hungry. I eat the same lunch as yesterday.

1 p.m. — I go for a midday walk through the square, and am lured into a smoothie place. I get the "Almond Joy," which has coconut, almond butter, yogurt, and cacao. $5

4 p.m. — The crash I hoped to avoid hits hard. I take a Car2Go home. $5

4:30 p.m. — I snack on fruit and turkey slices on the roof with my dog and finish up some work.

6 p.m. — I call into a meeting with my team in Japan. It's short and sweet, and I stay on the roof during it.

7 p.m. — I'm still feeling down, so I take my dog on a short walk. We stop by the pharmacy because I need to pick up a prescription. I don't have my new insurance information yet, so I pay $60 and hope I will be reimbursed later. $60

8 p.m. — I eat a little of the dinner I prepped for the week: cauliflower puree, meatballs, and greens.

9 p.m. — I go to bed early after drinking some of the reishi mushroom tea I keep on hand. (It's part of my Amazon S&S delivery). I finish my book before going to sleep.

Daily Total: $70
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8 a.m. — I change it up and eat a hardboiled egg, chicken sausage, and strawberries for breakfast. I take the last of the coffee to work and force myself to walk, hoping it will energize me.

12 p.m. — I eat the last serving of the chicken avocado salad. This was a really good work lunch, and I think I'll add it to my regular prep rotation.

1 p.m. — I need to get a birthday card to send to my sister-in-law. I walk down to Pike Street Press to buy her something cute (and local!). $5

4 p.m. — I'm going to a “white tie party” tomorrow night, so I stop by City Target on my walk home to see if I can find anything to wear. An inventory of my wardrobe last night revealed that I don't own a lot of white clothing. (I blame having to use coin-operated, public washers and dryers for the last 10 years!) With my own laundry now, maybe I'll invest in less black. I find a white top and some hair glitter to use for the party. I'm also out of hair conditioner, lotion, and dog treats, so pick those up as well. $56.42

6:30 p.m. — I eat the remaining cauli puree, meatballs, and greens with a green tea mochi I have in the freezer.

8 p.m. — I still feel off, but I have a busy weekend that I want to be 100% present for. It's hard to explain what a thyroid crash feels like, but it leaves me feeling exhausted, foggy, forgetful, and like my whole body is on fire. So, I make myself some “golden milk” (coconut milk, turmeric and ginger) to help with the inflammation. I do a heavily modified yoga sequence while watching HGTV. Once my insurance comes through, I plan on going back to acupuncture. That always helps when I crash like this. I also finish up some freelance work.

10 p.m. — I go to bed early again and start a new book. I've become a big reader while being in school and working full-time over the last two years, and I make it through about one book every week!

Daily Total: $61.42
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7 a.m. — I'm working from home today. My office is very chill about where and when we work, so most of my coworkers skip the commute on Fridays. I don't have a key to the office yet, which means I'm working from home too.

8 a.m. — I take my dog for our usual walk through the park. We stop at the Starbucks coffee truck for an Americano and a puppuccino. Starbucks isn't my first choice in Seattle (TBH, I used to be a barista), but my dog doesn't like being tied up outside. I also like using the Starbucks app to pay for coffee, instead of carrying a wallet, so I take advantage of the coffee truck! A friend was kind enough to buy me a gift card when I had a ridiculously bad day a couple of weeks ago, so I use that on my app to pay ($4).

11 a.m. — I decide to move to a coffee shop/dining hall nearby, where I buy a pretzel bagel with avocado and a green juice. The juice is free since my punch card is full! I frequented this place a lot while job hunting. $5.79

2 p.m. — It's a slow day, and because most of our teams are in other time zones and are finished for the week, I decide to call it a day, too. I'll monitor email on my phone just in case. I take my dog for another walk through the park.

3 p.m. — Normally I'd do some freelance proposals or work right now, but I have a busy weekend and want to take the opportunity to just relax. I grab my book, some rosé, and snacks, and hang out on the rooftop until I need to leave for the party later.

8 p.m. — I take the bus to my friend's apartment. We pre-game a little bit and catch up since she just got back from a trip to Amsterdam. I use my Orca card to pay.

9:15 p.m. — We stop by the liquor store on the way to the party and pick up some bubbly. My friends are celebrating buying a house, which is quite the accomplishment in Seattle, so we agree to bring something nice and on-theme. $46.33

2 a.m. — Everyone went all out on the “white tie” theme, which makes things extra special. After a rough winter (the darkest, wettest, and coldest in Seattle history!), and of course being off the scene due to my job situation and health issues, it's really good to see everyone and celebrate something good! My friend and I split a Lyft back to our apartments. I end up paying $9 for my share. $9

Daily Total: $61.12
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9 a.m. — I definitely did too much last night — too much alcohol, weed, food, dancing — and not enough sleeping, and I'm feeling it. My dog is in my face, so I walk him on our usual route. There's a race starting in the park. All the women in pink tutus are too much for my state. We grab our usual at the coffee truck, an Americano and a puppuccino. I know all this whipped cream isn't the greatest for my dog, but he's old and deserves it! $4

10:15 a.m. — I muster the energy for a good breakfast back at home. I make scrambled eggs with chicken sausage, a pretzel bagel, avocado, and fruit.

2 p.m. — One of the museums I volunteer for (I have a BFA and a graduate certificate in art history and museum studies) is having their annual auction this weekend. My friend is managing it, and I agreed to volunteer a few weeks ago. Art and arts nonprofits are my real passion! The museum is on Bainbridge Island, so I have to take the ferry to get there. I walk to the ferry and then use my Orca card to board; I pay the ferry fare on the island. $8.20

4 p.m. — I take a quick break and wander around the festivities. There's free food in the break room, but I opt to grab a ham sandwich and iced coffee from the coffee shop next door. $11.47

9:30 p.m. — I stay a little bit later to help my friend clean up and she offers to drive me home, which I happily take her up on. We drive onto the ferry this time. Since she works for the museum, she's reimbursed for her ferry rides.

11 p.m. — I take my dog around the block and then pass out.

Daily Total: $23.67
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8 a.m. — Up early for a 5K to raise funds for the Seattle Animal Shelter! I make a quick breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, avocado, and cheddar in a coconut tortilla.

10 a.m. — ReachNow is having a $50 special. I grab a Mini that I will use for the rest of the day, since I'll be going all over town with my dog in tow. It would take hours on the bus to get where I'm going, and not all bus drivers are cool with dogs. I pick up coffee on my way. There are a million coffee and drive-through stands in Washington, and drive-throughs are so much fun when you rarely use them! $55

11:30 a.m. — I meet my friend at Seward Park and pay her back for the registration and t-shirt. $40. Then we start to walk! We're walking the 5K because I had to give up running in college after a back injury. Plus, both of our dogs are over 10 years old. We hang out for a bit after the walk to take advantage of the festivities, and score a lot of free treats, both dog and human! $40

2 p.m. — Since I have a car, I drive my friend home. We stop at a brewery in her neighborhood because it's nice out. (And most breweries in Seattle are dog friendly!) I get a cider and we snack on pretzels. $6

4:30 p.m. — My dog has become increasingly aggressive toward other dogs since he lost sight in one of his eyes a couple of years ago. (Even after a very expensive eye surgery.) Even though he did okay this morning at the 5K, his behavior is a problem in a city that has more dogs than children. A friend who trains dogs in Alaska recommended a course and tonight's our first class. I'm a little nervous because we got kicked out of the puppy class I tried to take him to 12 years ago! I write a check for $89 to cover the first three classes. We take the Mini to North Seattle. $89

7:45 p.m. — Since I have a car and am out of the city, I stop at a Trader Joe's on our way home. I pick up a ton of fruit and veggies, turkey slices, flat bread, dog treats, almond milk, chicken sausage, mac and cheese, green juice, pretzel bagels, salad mix, acai packs, nuts, crackers, tuna, eggs, and olive oil. No peanut butter sandwiches! $88.37

8:30 p.m. — I score a parking spot right outside of my building! After carrying in all the groceries, my dog and I are exhausted. I make some mac and cheese with chicken sausage and peas, pour myself a glass of rosé, and eat my dinner on the rooftop while watching the sunset.

Daily Total: $278.37
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