A Week In Washington, D.C. On An $89,000 Salary

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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 woman in finance watching her fantasy-football league closely.


Industry: Finance
Age: 27
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $89,000 + ~20% annual bonus, discretionary profit sharing and additional potential annual bonus pools
Paycheck amount (bimonthly): $3,708 2x/month, down to $2,184 after tax, insurance, 401K, and Metro card load
# of roommates: 1, a friend

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,300/month total, $1,550 is my share (ugh DC rent)
Credit Cards: Varies, but always paid in full every month
Loan Payments: $0, my parents graciously paid for my school as long as I maintained good grades and stayed in state (Michigan)
Utilities: I pay cable/internet, ~$150/month, my roommate pays electric (water is covered) – the bills generally even out-ish, so we’re pretty bad at actually sitting down to divide it up.
Phone Bill: ~$75/month to my parents, still on the family plan to save $$!
Health Insurance: ~$150/month pretax for health, vision and dental, comes directly out of my paycheck
Transportation: $50/month pretax to my Metro card, comes directly out of my paycheck.
Long Distance Tax: ~$75/month on trains to see my boyfriend in Philadelphia; we try to see each other every 2 weeks, so we generally each buy 1 trip/month.
Savings: 12.5% to my 401K each paycheck, matched at 4% by work. Also save ~$2,000/month that eventually goes toward investing when I think the markets look good. I have about $190,000 saved between my brokerage account, checking/savings, 401k, and an IRA from my previous job.
Gym: $0. Outside, or free gym at work. I got an amazing deal for $1 for a month of Class Pass, but that just wrapped up. Loved the classes, but not sure if I’ll want to pay full price for it. TBD.
Netflix: $0. Thanks boyfriend!
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Day 1

8:30 a.m.— Wake up grumpy after a bad night’s sleep. My fantasy teams sucked last night and I’m still bitter. I drink my standard glass of water when I wake up to get my metabolism going (I used to be pre-med in school), and watch the news while getting ready. This is my normal pre-work routine.

9:45 a.m. — I get to work pretty late in general, usually between 9:45 to 10 a.m. I take the Metro to and from work every day. It’s only three stops, which is $2.15 during peak hours or $1.75 off peak. I try to get to the Metro after 9:30 a.m. to hit non-peak. This comes directly out of my paycheck.

10 a.m. — Coffee! Free from the office and I keep my favorite French Vanilla creamer in the fridge. I think it’s kind of silly to pay for coffee when it’s free at work, so I only go to Starbucks once a year for my free birthday drink. We also have a client that makes coffee machines and gifts them to us, so we can make literally anything — espresso, cappuccino, lattes, iced coffee, tea, you name it.

11 a.m. — There was a catered meeting at work this morning — leftover bagels for the win! I keep bagels, cream cheese, and cottage cheese in the fridge for my breakfasts each morning, but would much rather have a free Panera bagel.

1 p.m. — Sushi with a coworker! We each get two rolls and catch up. It’s Friday so we’re a bit lenient with the whole “one-hour lunch" thing. I'm not as hungry as usual due to my late bagel breakfast, so I save half for later. We split the bill. $15.93

6 p.m. — Time to go home. Metro back to the house.

7 p.m. — Leftover sushi, some beer, and Modern Family after a long week. Chat with the boy for a bit; he’s going on a work trip soon so we probably won’t get to talk as much.

10:30 p.m. — Out to meet friends! One of our friends has been living in Australia and Brazil for the last year-and-a-half, and he's back for a few months. I buy a couple beers at one bar and one of the guys gets my beer at the next. $17

2:30 a.m. — One of the nice things about my expensive rent is that I live very close to many D.C. bar spots, so I walk home. I consider stopping at Yum’s, this odd walk-in Chinese fast-food spot, but think better of it. I get home, drink water, and eat a few of my bed Wheat Thins. Yes, this is a box of Wheat Thins I keep next to my bed for occasions just like this.

Daily total: $32.93
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Day 2

9 a.m.— Awake! Feeling fine, which is nice. You never seem to know... It's football day. I will probably not do much besides TV and chill. I snack on more bed Wheat Thins.

11 a.m. — I have a Starbucks Frappuccino bottled drink I snagged from a work conference earlier this week and make scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, and some delish sourdough toast. Comically, I only had one egg left (Who leaves one egg in a carton?), so it's a lot of spinach and cheese and only a little egg. Add eggs to my grocery list. I consider going to the store, but I had this killer HIIT workout class two days ago and I’m still sore, so walking more than I have to sounds like a poor decision.

12 p.m. — Roomie and I hang out and watch Food Network/football for a couple hours. My team, Michigan, doesn't play until 3:30 so we'll watch that later. I often go to the D.C. Michigan bar for games, but I'm way over my alcohol budget for the month so I'm going to watch at home.

2:30 p.m. — I make a pre-game power lunch of Velveeta and hot dogs, because I'm 5 years old. I didn’t eat mac 'n' cheese much as a kid so I’m making up for it as an adult, but I like to class it up by making garlic- or jalapeño-infused butter for the pasta! I eat the whole box. Bad idea. I am Thanksgiving-level full.

6:30 p.m. — Michigan wins! 4-0 feels good.

9 p.m. — More football. "Watching" with the boy, i.e. watching the same thing and texting about it. Celebratory vodka soda with lime for my team's win!

Daily total: $0
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Day 3

10:30 a.m. — Sunday Funday! Coffee at home in my Keurig with Thin Mint creamer.

11:30 a.m. — Head to my friend’s place so we can Uber to brunch with friends. Since I walked to his place, he offers to cover the ride.

12 p.m. — Rooftop brunch on H Street! My group plays a game called “Bottoms” where we basically race to see who can finish their current bottomless mimosa first, and then declare “Bottoms!” It is always dangerous, especially today as they’re making cider mimosas, which are insanely good. Blurry next few hours, but we have an awesome time! We also sort of forgot to eat, so my check is only for the bottomless mimosas. $22

5 p.m.? — My friend also grabs the Uber back to Logan Circle — what a nice guy. I cannot avoid Yum’s this time. I think I get two orders of Crab Rangoon and burn my tongue trying to eat it so fast. IT IS DELICIOUS. I pay with cash, very rare for this exact reason, so I really have no idea how much this is. I use cards for everything so I can track my spending (and get points!), but I have this cash from work (Uber reimbursements from the conference), so I have to spend it somewhere. $8?

5:30 p.m. — Much-needed nap.

8 p.m. — Heading to my friend’s house to watch Sunday Night Football. My fantasy teams are having a pretty volatile week, so at least hanging out with these guys (who are also on one of my leagues) will make it more fun to watch. One guy grabs me in a cab on his way because I’m along the route. We have a few beers, order some excellent Hawaiian pizza, and lament our poor performances so far this year. The guys cover the pizza and beers, which is very nice of them. I also somehow end up with a bottle of unwanted Svedka and club soda to take home. Excellent!

12 a.m. — Grab an Uber home. I did not score enough points in this game. $8.43

Daily total: $38.43
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Day 4

9:30 a.m. — Metro to work after getting ready and watching the news.

10 a.m. — I need sustenance! I toast a bagel and make coffee. The vending machines are free at my office, so I also grab a ginger ale since I drank for far too many hours yesterday.

12 p.m. — I need more carbs to (hopefully) kick this queasy feeling. Off to Subway! I feel like people hate on Subway a lot, but I like it. And I have a coupon: $6 for any footlong sub. I get the toasted Chipotle Chicken with pepper jack, yum! I don’t usually go out to eat much for lunch but given yesterday’s shenanigans, I didn’t make it to the grocery store. If I do buy lunch, I try to stretch it to two meals. $6.60

12:30 p.m. — Target is across the street so I run over to get my friend a birthday card, and because it’s Target and it’s impossible to buy only the thing you went in for, I also buy a candle that’s on sale. $11.85

4:30 p.m. — Snag some free Doritos from the vending machine. I really want the other half of my Subway, but I’m forcing myself to wait until a more normal dinner time.

6:30 p.m. — Home, and Subway #2 time! The boy calls and we chat for a while. I miss him. We’ll be together next weekend though, so yay!

10:30 p.m. — Finish up the night with some football. One of my players goes off, the other does nothing. I win one league and lose the other. I guess it’s better than nothing!

Daily total: $18.45
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Day 5

9:45 am — On the Metro, time for another day. How is it only Tuesday?

10 a.m. — Office cappuccino. I also have a peach (our company gets fruit delivered for us twice a week) and a Nature Valley granola bar from the vending machine. Work definitely provides us with lots of food and drink, which is highly appreciated by me!

11:30 a.m. — There are killer flight deals for my friend’s upcoming bachelorette party weekend, so I buy a flight back to Michigan. I always do price alerts from Kayak to make sure I get good deals, but this is a shockingly low price. High five, Delta! $136

1 p.m. — Breaking multiple rules I have outlined in prior days, I go out to lunch again AND eat the whole thing. There are always food trucks near my building, and today I go with a new South American truck, getting the sandwich special. It is very tasty (and massive), but I know it won’t heat up well, so I just eat the whole thing. Then I walk around for the rest of my lunch hour — if I don’t have lunch plans, I try to walk during lunch to get fresh air and steps. I aim for four to five miles a day, so walking at lunch definitely helps. $10

6:30 p.m. — Heading home. This is my one “free” night for the week so I feel compelled to go for a run, do laundry, and grocery shop. There is about a 1% chance I do all that.

7 p.m. — Grocery shopping wins. I walk to the store and get some basics. I’m not going to make dinner until at least Friday, so I don’t want to buy anything too perishable. I get French bread, tortillas, chicken, avocado, garlic, cottage cheese, sour cream, peanut butter, jelly, soup, pizza, and restock on mac 'n' cheese. I try to shop sales, and through that save at least 20 to 30% off my bill each visit. $40.84

9 p.m. — Because I ate such a huge lunch, I’m not too hungry for a real dinner. I eat cottage cheese and bread and butter while hanging with my roommate and her BF.

Daily total: $186.84
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Day 6

9 a.m. — My alarm completely flaked today, so I wake up way late. I’m pretty sure my phone is quasi-broken. I was up for an upgrade, but my mom asked if she could use it, so I can’t upgrade for at least a couple months. I make myself lunch before rushing out.

11 a.m. — Chaos in the office because we’re hosting a big client seminar today, so I have no time for breakfast and just have coffee while we prepare for everyone to arrive.

1 p.m. — Eat the sandwich I brought in, as well as some chips from the vending machine. There are leftovers from the seminar, so I grab another half sandwich and some salad since I missed breakfast. Kale salad. Woof.

1:30 p.m. — I walk around Georgetown for my lunch break. I consider going to Vineyard Vines to return some dress pants, but I’m still on the fence. They’re super-cute, but they have an itchy tag! WTF. It starts drizzling while I contemplate the decision, so I take it as a sign to turn around and sleep on it.

3:30 p.m. — Mint tea at work. I’m tired. Then I remember mint tea has no caffeine…

6 p.m. — Head out to meet with book club! We’re meeting at a restaurant to discuss Amy Schumer’s book, but not until 7:30, so I decide to go to the Brazilian steakhouse across the street for happy hour. I sit at the bar and order a caipirinha and a sampler plate of three meats. I don’t know if this is how it usually is, but I was given about six times more food than what I ordered. The bartender and manager just kept being like, “Would you like to try 'X' as well?” Never one to turn down food, I end up with mashed potatoes, cheese-stuffed bread, deep-fried plantains, and SIX extra kinds of meat! It is all insanely good. My friend later said maybe they thought I was a food critic?! Somehow, this nine pounds of food I ate "for an appetizer" and the drink come to $19.25. I tip extra for the excellent experience and make a mental note to give this place 5 stars on Yelp. $24.25

7:30 p.m. — Book club begins; I will never eat again. The rest of the group orders dinner but I am so stuffed I just chat. Everyone loved Amy’s book!

9:30 p.m. — We wrap up dinner, and a few of us stick around for a night cap. I try a pumpkin beer. It’s pretty good! $9

10:30 p.m. — Three of us share an Uber home since we all live close; one of my friends offers to pay.

Daily total: $33.25
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Day 7

9:45 a.m. — I make lunch before heading to work. I need to eat like a normal human today.

10:30 a.m. — Coffee and cottage cheese for breakfast. There’s a new batch of fruit and snacks and restocked vending machines, so I grab a banana, some trail mix, and Kit-Kats! My coworker also convinces me to try my first rambutan. Kind of weird, but I’d try it again.

1:15 p.m. — Sandwich and trail mix for lunch. Rainy day, so I just hang out in the office for lunch. Adios, 10,000 steps! I consider doing some investing of my idle cash, but the market is pretty overvalued to me right now. I track markets daily and like to buy on dips, but haven’t seen any great opportunities lately. If my cash pile gets too large, though, I may just have to bite the bullet.

3:45 p.m. — Tired again. Rainy days are no good. I make a chai-tea latte before my 4 p.m. meeting.

5:30 p.m. — Head out to meet my friend for an after-hours party at the International Spy Museum! It’s Teacher’s Night. She has free admission (as a teacher); my admission is $16. She offers to split it with me, and owed me a few dollars from a previous dinner, so I give her the last of my cash. $4

6 p.m. We have snacks, martinis, climb through an air duct like spies, and hang out with James Bond! This is one of the few museums in D.C. that has an entrance fee, so it’s nice to come after hours when it’s not too crowded and the fee is subsidized. It’s a very fun evening! We wear mustaches the whole time…

9 p.m. — I walk home because it’s not that far, but the rain starts up again and I am umbrella-less. Probably should have gotten an Uber, but I wanted my steps since I didn’t do anything for lunch. I am rather wet when I get home, but thankfully I had my North Face with a hood, so it could have been worse.

10 p.m. — Phone catch-up with a friend who’s heading to Denmark on a whim tonight.

11 p.m. — Food Network and bed.

Daily total: $4
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