A Week In Silicon Valley On A $100,000 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 marketer for a tech company getting all the free food and putting aside $2,600 a month in savings.

Occupation: Marketing for a Silicon Valley tech company
Location: Bay Area
Salary: $100,000 (excluding bonuses and stocks. My company is publically traded.)
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $2579
# of roommates: 1

Monthly Expenses

Health Insurance: $55 a month plus another $20 a month to my FSA for prescriptions and things. All $75 is taken out pre-tax.
401(k): 8% of my salary goes to my 401(k) account pre-tax ($667 per month). My company matches up to 4%, in full.
Housing Costs (rent, or other?): $600...my rent is insanely low because I got lucky and my friend is temporarily renting a room to me for cheap. (Internet and electric included.) Please don’t move out here thinking this is the norm.
Loan Payments: $0. My parents paid for my college tuition and I’ve never carried any debt.
Utilities: About $20 a month for water, sewage, garbage.
Transportation: About $180 a month for gas.
Car insurance: $90/month, paid semi-annually.
Phone Bill: $50; I pay my parents my portion in our family plan. We use my dad’s company discount. I have a second work cell that my company pays for.
Long-term Savings: I can afford to save right now so I am taking advantage of that. With that said, I've always been a saver. I put at least $2100/month into my longer-term savings account. This goes towards a future down payment, car, etc. I won’t be able to save this much once I move so I’m doing what I can now. At the end of the month, whatever’s left goes in this bucket as well.
Short-term Savings: I put $500 a month into my short-term savings account (these are separate bank accounts). This is mostly for travel and pricier things. (Currently, I’m saving up for a designer handbag.) I like to save every month for this so that when the time comes for me to pay for trips, I’m actually on vacation, etc. it doesn’t feel like I’m broke for all of that month. This is definitely a budget that I’ll be slashing when I move.
Netflix: $8.99 a month (In an effort to save money, I’ve cut Hulu Plus for the summer until fall tv resumes.)
Amazon Prime: $10.50 a month. Not ready to commit to a full year yet.
Gym membership: Paid for by work. Didn’t use it all week. Whoops.
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Day 1

10 a.m. — Wake up and make some coffee and eat a breakfast pastry my roommate shares with me. I also finish prepping my items for the potluck barbecue later.

2:30 p.m. — Arrive at a barbecue my friend is throwing. I bring sangria (spent about $13 on ingredients last week) and salmon (got this for about $15 from Costco the week before). It’s fun and super relaxing.

6 p.m. — My friends and I go to the nail salon. I get a mani-pedi. Last week was, and next week will be, crazy busy so I decide to treat myself. $48 after tip.

7:30 p.m. — Get home and I can’t believe I’m still hungry! I make some dumplings that I wrapped and froze about a week ago with bok choy and finish marathoning UnReal (using my friend’s Xfinity login). That show is so good.

Daily Total: $48
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Day 2

9 a.m. — Arrive at work and make breakfast: Cereal with almond milk and coffee, provided by work.

12 p.m. — Lunch with the team. Our intern is leaving so it’s a send-off lunch. I have salad, pasta, and soup. It’s $12. Work pays.

1 p.m. — Head to Office Depot. Pick up some supplies for a work project: $3.26, expensed. Also buy myself some fun stuff for my cubicle: $4.33

3 p.m. — Our intern comes around with farewell cookies so I accept one. I also have a mocha, provided by the office. I mail off some makeup for a return.

7:30 p.m. — Get home from work. My aunt stops by with some veggies her co-worker gave her from her garden. Score! I window shop online but resist purchasing. I just window shop so I can see if stuff I want is on sale, or keep an eye out for when it goes on sale. I rarely pay full price for clothes.

9 p.m. — After a quick nap, I make myself a quinoa & salmon bowl with a side of broccolini for a late dinner. I have a ton of salmon because there were sales at Whole Foods and Costco last week. The pesto is leftover from a potluck dish I made last week. I watch TV and clean.

11:30 p.m. — Get back to work on my laptop and work until 12:30 a.m. Tired.

Daily Total: $4.33
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Day 3

6:30 a.m. — I wake up, make coffee, and do some work from home. I got paid yesterday so I transfer money to both my savings accounts. That always feels good. I pay off last month’s credit card bill. It’s brutal since I went on vacation but this month looks much better. I head to the train station to work a trade show in San Francisco.

8:30 a.m. — Parking at train station is $4, expensed to work. The train ticket is $5.80, expensed. I work at a few shows a year and support several remotely.

10 a.m. — Arrive at the trade show and grab some free coffee.

12:30 p.m. — I forego the free lunch to grab some Sushiritto with a friend who’s in town on a business trip. I don’t expense it since lunch was provided and I chose to skip it. $13

3 p.m. — My third cup of coffee. This is a vicious cycle.

6 p.m. — Help myself to a little pasta salad and wine at the trade show.

7 p.m. — Leave the show and head over to a bar to meet a guy from Tinder for a drink. He pays.

9 p.m. — Head home on the train. The ticket is $5.80. I'll expense it.

10:15 p.m. — Get home. Since I didn’t really have dinner, I eat some leftover quinoa veggie salad I made for a potluck last weekend. I watch some Netflix and do an hour of work. I’m exhausted and go to bed at 1 a.m.

Daily Total: $13
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Day 4

8:15 a.m. — I’ve been up reading since 7 but I don’t get out of bed until now. I make some coffee and dumplings at home.

9 a.m. — Head to San Francisco. I decide to drive this time. Bridge toll: $6, expensed. It’s $7 if you don’t have a pass and pay cash; the cash line is always slow so I bought a pass from Costco as soon as I moved here.

10 a.m. — I arrive in the city and grab a free coffee at the trade show.

12 p.m. — Free lunch at the show: It’s a falafel wrap. Yum.

1:30 p.m. — My co-worker, friend, and I walk around the show, check out exhibits, and pick up some free swag. I play a couple VR video games and get a phone charger and two pairs of VR glasses. I’ll save one pair to give my dad.

3 p.m. — More free coffee to get me through the second half of the day.

4 p.m. — It’s time for evening food on the show floor! We work the booth and grab what will be dinner in between. The food is good today. I get scallops, ravioli, cheese and crackers, half a veggie dog, and salad. I also get a glass of wine and a margarita. I’m sooooo full. Why do I insist on pigging out on free food?! I’m not a college kid anymore!

7 p.m. — I get off work and meet some friends for a drink. I don’t go out on weekdays often but I’m also not usually in San Francisco during the week so I wanted to take advantage of it. We go to a bar I’ve been wanting to check out and do the usual SF lamenting about the cost of living and discuss when we will ever be able to own. I ask them how much they think the average salary of a college-educated Millennial in the Bay Area is. One guesses around $100,000. My other friend says $80–100K. I say that I think a lot of people are living beyond their means out here. Sometimes they have no choice. There’s no rent within a third of their salary! I pay for our drinks, and my friend Venmos me but is accidentally short. I don't want to ask for another $2, so my bill comes to $18.

9 p.m. — Time to go home. I pay for parking. It’s $30, expensed to work.

10 p.m. — I get home, shower, and crawl into bed. I do some window shopping online again but I’m too exhausted to even buy anything and fall asleep!

Daily Total: $18
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Day 5

9 a.m. — Wake up and make coffee and dumplings for breakfast. Working from home today.

12:30 p.m. — I make some tea and do a couple of quick exercises at home.

2 p.m. — Late lunch while on a call. More leftover quinoa-veggie salad. Greek yogurt with strawberry jam for dessert.

5 p.m. — I refill my filtered water subscription. I pay $15 for 50 gallons. It'll last a while.

5:30 p.m. — Get my eyebrows threaded. It's only $5 at my local spot! I also leave a $1 tip, and I see a coupon for $2 off a local nail salon so I grab one. $6

6 p.m. — I head to dinner ($5 bridge toll). I’m craving cupcakes so I pick up two for dessert for my friend and me ($8). I also browse Sephora a bit to check out the eyeshadow I was looking at online yesterday but I’m feeling indecisive and walk away with nothing. It’s for the best (for my wallet)! I am STARVING. I guzzle some water I always carry around to prevent myself from buying random drinks. My stomach is rumbling. Total: $13

6:30 p.m. — I walk by a market and see a sale on chanterelle mushrooms. Score! They also have mini avocados, the perfect size for avocado toast. I buy a bit of both. $8.05

7 p.m. — I meet my friend for dinner. I have a portobello, wild rice, and kale bowl and we share the cupcakes for dessert. Dinner is $10.50.

9 p.m. — By this point, I’ve decided to make risotto with the chanterelles. It’s not so fun making risotto just for yourself so I round up my relatives for a home-cooked dinner tomorrow. I stop by my aunt’s house to invite them in person and play with their puppy. I spend the rest of the evening cleaning, scouring Pinterest for recipes, and organizing a Sunday trip to Napa with friends. I look like death so I slap on a face mask.

Daily Total: $52.55
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Day 6

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to an email saying there’s a sale on flights home. I excitedly check but the prices didn’t go down for weekends. Luckily, I already bought tickets home for Thanksgiving during a sale. I make a mental reminder that I also offered to buy my mom tickets to come visit me for her birthday. I make coffee at home and discover this awesome eyeshadow that’s been in my stash all along. See? I didn’t "need" any new eyeshadow!

9:30 a.m. — Coffee and avocado toast at the office. The avocado I brought in from yesterday; bread and coffee were provided by work.

10:45 a.m. — My girlfriend texts to tell me she’s going to make her first purchase on Memebox. I quickly send her a referral code so she gets 20% off and I get $10. When I log in, I see I already had $7 credit. Score! I’ll place an order on some skincare and makeup next week. That Korean 10-step skincare routine really sucks up my money!

12 p.m. — Grab Korean food with a friend in town for the weekend. We share a seafood pancake and vegetarian bibimbap. It comes with a ton of appetizers and I take home the leftovers. Lunch is $19 per person. I think it’s kind of pricey but I guess that’s the par for the course in this area... I wanted to take him somewhere good. We also stop and get some bubble tea for $3.50. This is kind of a weird week because I usually bring lunch to the office. (I’m usually just too lazy to go out for lunch.) $22.50.

4 p.m. — Leftover Korean food and office green tea. I love that Costco green tea.

6 p.m. — Safeway shopping for tonight: parsley, arborio rice, onion, shredded Parmesan and some more fancy mushrooms. The dinner group grew so big that yesterday’s purchase wasn't enough. I splurge and get the nice $9 pack of organic wild mushrooms. I also grab some ginger ale I was craving since I forgot to grab a can for free at work. I forgot my grocery bag in the car. Instead of paying $0.10, I throw it all in my giant purse because I'm like that. $23.73

6:30 p.m. — Gas and car wash. This place has a premium car wash for $8! It's cheaper than the other place I used to go to. I make a mental note to go here from now on. $47.50 for both.

8:30 p.m. — Dinner is served! I make mushroom risotto and roasted veggies. My aunt also brings salmon (which I picked up for her during the Whole Foods sale — I stock up on deals!). We open a few bottles of wine I already had and my cousin supplies his fancy whiskey. Woo Friday! Just kidding. I go to bed early.

Daily Total: $93.73
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Day 7

11 a.m. — Wake up and make coffee. I clean the kitchen and do laundry. I end up tossing a bunch of food that’s gone bad. Ugh. I was so busy this week, I hardly cooked! I give my roommate some veggies (the ones that are good!) and she gives me some fruit. I do a workout with a YouTube video.

1:30 p.m. — Lunch at home: shrimp and veggie pasta using yesterday’s leftover veggies. I do some work from home and add everyone whose business cards I collected at the show on LinkedIn. It’s all about building your network! I get dressed and use some tape to remove the lint from my sweater (last week’s Kleenex-in-laundry explosion). I need to go to Target and get a lint brush!

3:30 p.m. — I meet up with my friends to go shopping and walk around town. It’s a nice day. We visit the Chloé handbag I’m saving up for. I’ve been visiting it for months. It’s about $2,000 but I’m almost there! (Note: I ended up buying this bag a week later.) Most of this shopping trip is aspirational...like the designer sunglasses I try on. I get some vegan froyo with fruit: $5.90. Bridge toll: $5. Total: $10.90

6 p.m. — I pick up some flowers at Whole Foods for my friend’s birthday dinner. The service is terrible. I complain and end up getting the $17 bouquet for $7. I also skim the store for some deals and see broccoli ($0.79/lb!) and arborio rice on sale. I grab those and a kombucha. I also saw the same pack of mushrooms from yesterday for less at Whole Foods of all places! I remind myself to get them here next time. Total bill: $13.22

7 p.m. — Friend’s birthday dinner: it’s Japanese izakaya. Yum. We split the bill and cover the birthday girl. $35

10 p.m. — I come home and plan some snacks for Napa tomorrow. Hey, it saves money! I already know tomorrow is going to be pricey. I feel a little homesick so I look at flights again but there aren't any sales. I send my dad-money for the phone bill, watch Netflix, and go to bed. Napa, bright and early in the morning!

Daily Total: $59.12
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