A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $110,000 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: a communications director who makes $110,000 per year and spends some of it on cheesecake.
Advertisement
Occupation: Communications Director
Industry: International Relations
Age: 29
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $110,000
Paycheck (Monthly): $5,640
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $2,100, which sounds like a lot but is a deal for our apartment in D.C. I split this 50/50 with my boyfriend.
Loan Payments: $0. I just paid off my car!
All Other Monthly Expenses
Health Insurance: $245
Car Insurance: $140
Electric: Between $60-$80
Metro: $75
Savings: $1,000, plus 10% of my pre-tax paycheck goes to 401(k)
Charitable Contributions: $100 (varies)
Cable & Internet: $0. (Boyfriend pays $140.)
Netflix: $0. (Boyfriend pays $10.)
1 of 8
8 a.m. — I wake up dreading the start of the workweek. I am not a morning person. I bought a Nespresso machine about two years ago and it is life-changing! I haven't actually calculated how much I save by making coffee at home, but I'm sure it's a lot. I make a coffee and grab a yogurt to eat at work.

12 p.m. — I grab a spicy tuna roll for lunch. It's not super-filling, but my boyfriend and I are going out for a big Italian dinner tonight to celebrate our anniversary. I also snack on a cookie that my coworker brought in. $14.50

5:30 p.m. — I usually take the Metro, but today I Uber home so that I have more time to get ready for dinner. This was a mistake. I always forget how awful D.C. traffic is. Over the next 45 minutes, I do have an interesting conversation with my driver about the Russia scandal. It's all we can talk about in D.C.! My boyfriend and I have been together for many years, so I don't take our anniversary very seriously. We had agreed to no gifts, but I come home to seven pink roses (one for every year we've been together). Now I feel guilty that I didn't get him anything. $6.70

7 p.m. — We go to a fancy Italian place that we've been eyeing for a while. It is overpriced and the service is a bit snooty, but the food is yummy. We split Champagne, two appetizers, two pastas, and get cheesecake for dessert. I'm a vegetarian and my boyfriend is not, but he's very sweet about wanting to share everything. The check is more than $150, which we split. I'm glad we did it for a special occasion, but the bill is a little hard to swallow! $76.80

Daily Total: $98
2 of 8
8 a.m. — I make a coffee and green smoothie at home to balance out last night's heavy dinner. My boyfriend makes these every morning, so we always have tons of kale in the house.

12:30 p.m. — I usually eat lunch at my desk, but today is so beautiful that I decide to go for a walk. I end up at an Indian food truck and get a chaat for $6. It's cheap, but not great. While I'm eating it, my friend starts texting me photos of her mouse infestation, which makes me lose my appetite quickly. $6

6:30 p.m. — I convince myself to go to yoga. I go to a great local studio that emphasizes affordability and community. This is a class I haven't taken before; it's more of a restorative one, which is awesome. I really struggle to turn my brain off and be present, and this is one way of working on it. I get home and grab some leftovers in the fridge. We start the new season of House of Cards. We're both exhausted, so we only get through one episode before falling asleep. $10

Daily Total: $16
Advertisement
3 of 8
8:30 a.m. — I wake up and make a coffee. I realize I forgot my parents' dog's birthday yesterday (contrary to romantic anniversaries, I take dog birthdays very seriously), so I buy some organic treats online and get them shipped. I'll FaceTime with them later tonight to say hi and see the dogs. I also buy a new sports bra online. I'm a large-chested girl and I finally found one that's comfortable! I'm now running late for work, so I run to the Metro. $57.50

11:45 a.m. — My caffeine buzz is wearing off, so I grab an iced latte at Starbucks. $5.78

2:30 p.m. — I'm starving. Finally have a chance to grab lunch. I have just discovered poke bowls — so good! $14.54

7 p.m. — I planned a dinner for my group of girlfriends tonight. After a lot of back-and-forth, we settle on a Thai place. I get a curry and cocktail, and we split dessert. It is so wonderful to catch up! Our lives seem to get busier and busier, and it's rare that we're all in D.C. at the same time. We go around the table to get life updates. One friend just got engaged, another just started dating a guy, another just said "I love you" with her boy. I don't have any exciting personal-life updates! I don't miss dating, but I do miss sharing my crazy bad-date stories and laughing with my girlfriends. $34.10

Daily Total: $111.92
4 of 8
10 a.m. — I am working from home today, which means I get to watch the James Comey testimony! I used to work in the Senate, so I'm a political nerd and this is like the Super Bowl. I make a coffee, grab a yogurt, and settle in on the couch.

12 p.m. — I am so enthralled I don't want to leave! I end up ordering Ethiopian from UberEats. I order from a place six blocks away, so I wonder if the driver is judging my laziness. Comey is so cool, calm, and collected. I don't agree with everything that he has done, but you can't deny that he's a pro. I daydream about how I would handle testifying. I'd like to think I'd be a badass, but I would probably be a nervous mess. $20.39

4 p.m. — I do a load of laundry and realize we're out of detergent. I order some from Mrs. Meyer's and add a few yummy-smelling soaps. $32.10

6 p.m. — Game time! My boyfriend bought tickets for the Nationals-Orioles game for his family back in May, but the first game was rained out. These are fancy seats (my boyfriend's friend works for the team, so he gets a nice discount) that come with unlimited food and drinks. There aren't a lot of vegetarian options (I really wanted a veggie dog!), but I grab a salad. I end up getting a beer and some Cracker Jacks because it seems like the thing to do at a baseball game. The weather is perfect, and the Nats win!

Daily Total: $52.49
5 of 8
9 a.m. — I sleep in a bit. I usually work from home on Fridays. My job involves a lot of travel, but they're super-flexible about working from home. I make a coffee, get out my laptop, and turn on the news. The headlines never stop.

2:30 p.m. — There was a bit of a crisis at work, so I ended up scrambling. Before I know it, it's 2:30 and I'm starving! I order UberEats again so that I can keep working, even if it isn't the most economically responsible thing to do. $14.58

5 p.m. — Yoga time! I almost always go to this class on Fridays. It's the perfect way to wind down from the week. For some reason, there are only three people in the class today, so it's almost like a private lesson. $10

7 p.m. — My boyfriend picked up some poblano peppers from the market, so we make stuffed poblanos (his favorite dish). We pour some wine and settle in for House of Cards. We end up watching five episodes! Robin Wright is such a goddess.

Daily Total: $24.58
6 of 8
11 a.m. — Since we stayed up super-late binge-watching House of Cards, we sleep in this morning. Boyfriend makes me a smoothie with kale and banana.

1:30 p.m. — A Whole Foods just opened in our neighborhood, which is super-convenient but not great for my bank account. We usually do one big grocery haul per week. Since my boyfriend usually pays when we go out, I pay for groceries. We end up with a bunch of produce, milk, cheese, lentils, and grains. I also buy four types of Halo Top ice cream. It's a recent discovery and I'm obsessed! We also both get lunch at the salad bar. So many options! $128.64

7 p.m. — We make lentil "meat" tacos. So good: I mix lentils, walnuts, and tons of seasoning. We top them with cheese, lettuce, avocado, and tomatoes that we bought earlier today. We cozy up on the couch again to try to finish House of Cards. Four episodes to go! I break out the Halo Top. The strawberry tastes just like "real" ice cream!

Daily Total: $128.64
7 of 8
11 a.m. — We stayed up late watching House of Cards again (we finished!), so we sleep in. We make coffee and heat up the leftover lentils for lunch.

2:30 p.m. — A friend suggests that we go on a double date at the bowling alley, an idea I love. Bowling is super-fun, but we all joke that we're showing our age. My arm gets so sore! Who knew bowling was a workout? I come in second place, which is respectable. It's a little expensive ($53); my boyfriend pays.

5 p.m. — We walk around the waterfront and stop to get a cupcake at the best bakery. Such a fun day. $4.13

5:30 p.m. — We have to pay $11 to get out of the parking deck. That's the same price as an Uber! $11

7 p.m. — My nails are looking particularly ragged, so I stop in for a mani-pedi. I have a big meeting tomorrow and want to look good. There is a super-rude and demanding customer next to me, and I have to bite my tongue. No excuse to treat people like that! It's $55 and I tip $10, then wonder if I should have tipped more since they had to deal with the difficult customer. $65

8:30 p.m. — I get home pretty late and neither of us feels like cooking, so we have leftover lentil tacos again. Plus, I finish the cupcake from earlier. That's a balanced meal!

Daily Total: $80.13
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? Submit it to us here.
Advertisement