A Week In Washington, D.C. On A $74,000 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.)

This week a woman working in business development in D.C. whose inauguration week is eventful for more than one reason.
Industry: Government Contracting/Human Services
Age: 31
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $74,000. My husband's salary is $53,000 a year.
Paycheck Amount (2x month): $1741
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1900 (Split with husband — we use completely joint bank accounts)
Netflix: $10
Gym Membership: $75
Charitable Giving: $100 (NPR, Planned Parenthood, Nature Conservancy, Partners in Health, Doctors Without Borders)
Car Insurance: $75
Internet: $50
MetroCard: $20 pre-tax taken from my paycheck
Cable: $0 (I use a friend's log-in to stream cable on my computer)

Day One

10:18 a.m. — A friend of mine is performing in a play next month and I'm so excited to see it! I buy tickets for myself and another friend. $30.00

10:30 a.m. — I make turkey bacon and eggs for breakfast. We need to go grocery shopping soon. I am down to just the staples.

12:00 p.m. — I drive down to a rock climbing gym in Virginia. It would normally be too big of an indulgence for me to come to this gym and pay for a day pass, since I already have a gym membership elsewhere. Luckily my family gave me a lot of gift cards for this rock climbing gym over the holidays! I'm hoping to get pregnant soon and want to get in a lot of climbing while I still can.

6:30 p.m. — My little brother stops by to watch football. He is new to the city and has just started an entry-level job at a nonprofit organization. He is looking for an apartment, and I am reminded of how hard it is to find an affordable living situation in D.C. I make a mental note to help him buy some furniture once he gets a place. I cook chana masala for him, my husband, and me.

Daily Total: $30.00

Day Two

8:15 a.m. — My husband wakes me up with some delicious breakfast tacos! He's not the most confident cook, so I am very proud of him for taking the initiative and also not burning the kitchen down.

10:00 a.m. — My sneakers' shoelaces are completely shredded. I walk down to the big box store and buy new laces. $3.00

12:30 p.m. — Time for our weekly grocery shopping run. Most of the meals that we cook at home are vegetarian, but we occasionally purchase turkey bacon or chicken. This week, we are buying a lot of produce and yogurt. We received a 10% discount today because we got our flu shots at the store recently. Gotta love the public health incentives! $74

2:00 p.m. — I was supposed to join a friend for lunch, but we got our wires crossed. I eat leftover chana masala and half a pomelo instead. I get a text from a relative who wants to see if I would hire him do my taxes. I'm a bit hesitant to share financial information with family relations, so I make an excuse. I feel a bit guilty though. Hopefully he will find some other clients.

6:15 p.m. — I buy a 15-class pass for my local yoga studio. It's a little painful to shell out this much all at once, but as long as I use all the classes within a year, it will save over $45. I am trying to do some form of exercise six days per week, and my husband has resolved to do more yoga this year. We are able to share the pass. We both head to a 6:30 p.m. class. It's an intense class and totally kicks my butt. $237.40

7:45 p.m. — My husband cooks his signature dinner for us — pasta with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Daily Total: $314.40

Day Three

7;30 a.m. — I make some coffee at home and read a book while I drink. As I head out the door, I grab a yogurt, which I'll eat at the office for breakfast.

12:30 p.m. — After my morning meetings, I am super hungry. I head to the organic supermarket near my work for a lunch of chicken piccata, kale salad, and fruit. I also pick up some groceries that are unavailable at my local grocery store — paneer, bok choy, and bulk spices. $17.76

3:27 p.m. — It's a really slow day at work for me, so I take care of some personal errands. I make a car maintenance appointment and also schedule my annual physical with my primary care doctor. Also, totally TMI, but now that I am exercising more often, I am seeing the value in having sweat-wicking underwear. I buy a three-pack off Amazon for $25.

5:00 p.m. — I head to my gym, where I have a membership, to work out. Afterwards, I drive 30 minutes out of the way to donate some clothes to an organization in Maryland, but no one is there. I'll have to try again soon.

8:30 p.m. — My husband is watching the confirmation hearings for potential Secretary of Education DeVos when I get home. There are a lot of educators in my family, and her lack of knowledge about education is making our blood boil. I'm in no mood to cook, so I just eat the final leftovers of our chana masala. It turns out to not be enough food, because I wake up hungry at 2:00 AM.

Daily Total: $42.76

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I drink some coffee with butter in it because we are out of cream, then I drive down to Virginia to drop my car off at the shop for maintenance, which is a chore that I always struggle to do on time. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get away with just the expense of an oil change and nothing else.

9:00 a.m. — One of the auto shop employees drops me off at the metro station and I ride home.

9:30 a.m. — While I take my morning conference calls, I have a breakfast of yogurt and turkey bacon, but am still feeling hungry. My period is two days late, so there is a possibility that I am pregnant. But I've also only recently started exercising on a daily basis, so I may need to up how much food I eat generally. Throughout the rest of the morning, I snack on pumpkin seeds and popcorn.

12:39 p.m. — I walk over to the library to return some books. I pick up a couple books I had placed on hold: a nonfiction book about physics and a Salman Rushdie novel. The D.C. Public Library is a fantastic system — I haven't had to purchase a book for myself in nearly three years.

1:00 p.m. — I make miso ramen with bok choy and egg for lunch. Afterwards, I snack on a grapefruit.

3:45 p.m. — I take the metro back down to Virginia to pick up my car. In addition to the oil change, I also have to get repairs to the brakes and suspension systems. The District of Columbia has some of the worst roads in the country, which means I'm frequently paying maintenance fees like this. $300

6:00 p.m. — We make some gnocchi with Brussels sprouts and chestnuts for dinner.

7:45 p.m. — I walk down to the local yoga studio for a night time class (paid for with my new 15 class pass). Their dehumidifier stopped working, so it's like a jungle in there!

Daily Total: $300
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Day Five

7:30 a.m. — We start the morning off with a pregnancy test and it's positive. It's a good thing I had an IUD for the last five years, since turns out we were pretty fertile! I drink coffee, eat yogurt, and try to read, but it's pretty hard to concentrate. My job is super flexible about working remotely, so I decide to work from home and spend the day with my husband. Since his office is inside the security perimeter for the inauguration, he is also working from home today.

9:30 a.m. — We do another pregnancy test just to make sure and then I call my doctor. She wants me to come down to their office today for a confirmatory blood draw.

11:00 a.m. — I almost missed my morning conference calls because I fell down a rabbit hole of looking at different pregnancy sites! This still doesn't feel quite real. I take the metro downtown to my doctor's office. There was no copay for my appointment — not sure if that's because the blood test was considered preventative care by my insurance or if the doctor's office just did it as a courtesy.

On my way, I keep seeing cool posters for the Women's March on Washington and learn that they are giving them away for free at a local used furniture store. I make a mental note to go back for some tomorrow.

1:00 p.m. — My husband and I walk to the library and pick up a couple of basic pregnancy books. I have a degree in public health, but all of the different advice on the internet about food, exercise, exposures, etc is overwhelming even for me. I'm hoping a well-trusted book can help me tune out the noise. On our way back, we stop by an organic grocery store and pick up some naan for dinner. $3

2:30 p.m. — Having a baby in this city is going to be expensive. We are fortunate to live pretty comfortably right now and still save up a fair amount of money, but we will have to cut back on a lot of our discretionary spending to afford child care.

6:00 p.m. — We make bhindi masala for dinner. My brother stops by on his way to the grocery store and has a little bit with us. We decide to tell him that I'm pregnant and he seems pretty shocked. Telling someone else is making this whole thing more real.

Daily Total: $3

Day Six

8:00 a.m. — It's Inauguration Day, so my husband doesn't have work. I still do, but work remotely again, this time to avoid road closures. He makes us some breakfast tacos. We kick off the start of this new dystopian reality by watching an episode of Black Mirror on Netflix.

10:30 a.m. — While my husband watches the inauguration, I sequester myself in the bedroom for my morning calls and am grateful for the distraction. Eight years ago, we walked down to the National Mall in the freezing cold pre-dawn hours, with a multicultural group of friends. As an ethnic minority, I'm horrified that there are thousands of people in this country who think that I don't belong here, and that there are millions more, including the new president, who are not inclined to stand up for me.

12:00 p.m. — I take the metro down to the furniture store for a free protest poster, but they ran out yesterday. It's a little eerie outside right now — the metro is empty and there are very few people out on the streets. I walk home in the rain.

2:00 p.m. — I start to prepare some slow-cooker chicken enchilada soup for dinner and then I walk over to my best friend's house. I didn't make myself lunch and am pretty hungry, so I pack myself a snack of chestnuts and a grapefruit. When I tell my BFF that I'm pregnant, she immediately steams up some dumplings for me.

7:00 p.m. — My husband and I eat the chicken enchilada soup for dinner and then text with some friends to coordinate our meeting spot for the Women's March on Washington tomorrow. We watch live coverage of a few anarchists protesting downtown who have lit some trash cans on fire. I'm glad that the more violently-inclined protesters are marching today and not tomorrow, since I think they make the rest of us look bad.

Daily Total: $0.00

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — We wake up early for the Women's March on Washington and eat a breakfast of yogurt, tea, and bananas.

8:00 a.m. — We check Twitter to see how crowded Metro is, and trains are already at capacity, so we walk about three miles downtown instead. Even this far north, we see tons of pink-hatted people making their way downtown.

11:00 a.m. — We can't hear anything at the rally, so we take a quick break at my husband's office since it is right by the mall. We warm up, eat a few free office snacks, and watch some streaming video of the speakers.

12:00 p.m. — We stop at a sandwich shop for a quick lunch before rejoining the March. We spend the rest of the afternoon at the mall alternating between marching and chanting with the crowds and trying to catch a break from the mass of people. It's amazing to see all these people, who came from all over the country, streaming onto the Mall, with the metro escalators constantly depositing more and more people. $4.30

3:30 p.m. — We are feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the people so we start to walk home. Once we walk about a mile north, we are able to catch a bus home.

5:00 p.m. — One of my good friends is hosting a potluck brunch tomorrow as a follow-up to the Women's March and she has asked her guests to bring toiletries and other items, which she will donate to a local homeless shelter. I stop by the grocery store to pick up ingredients for my dish and items to donate. I end up buying a sandwich for a homeless person outside the store as well. $20

7:00 p.m. — We eat the leftover chicken enchilada soup and scroll through social media to see news from our friends. Nearly everyone we know marched today, either in D.C. or in their home cities. In addition to this election being personal to me because of my ethnicity, my new pregnancy has brought up a lot of issues that were once only abstract to me. All of a sudden, there are people who think that the government is more fit to control my body than I am, and that thought scares me.

Daily Total: $24.30
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