A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $36,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today a freelance graphic designer who makes $36,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Cook's Extra Dry.

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Occupation: Graphic Designer
Industry: Freelance
Age: 24
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $36,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,500
Gender: Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,287
Loans: $0
iCloud Storage: $.99
Adobe Photoshop: $20.99
AMC Stubs: $23.99
Utilities: $43
Gym: $34.99
Spotify: $12.99
Savings: $100

Day One

12 p.m. — I get a really late start to my day because I didn't get home from last night's party until 6 a.m. (my roommate, P., and I were our Lyft driver's first ride of the day). I wake up to a thread in my friend group's group chat saying that, apparently, we are all meeting at K.'s new apartment for a boozy brunch/housewarming. I take a cold shower (gotta text the landlord about that), throw on some makeup and head to Ralph's to pick up four bottles of extra dry Cook's and a gallon of OJ. I see that the Girl Scouts are selling cookies out front, but I refrain. $32.23

3 p.m. — I am apparently really early, despite the fact that the meeting time was about an hour ago (that's so typical of my friend group). It's pouring rain, so I drive to Primo Passo to get an oat milk masala chai latte. Fortunately, it's Sunday, so I don't have to pay for parking. I used to be a barista so I always tip at least 25% on coffee, baristas are probably the least appreciated service people ever. I sip my chai under an umbrella for about 20 minutes. It's so peaceful, it hasn't rained here in a while and I love my lazy Sundays. K. finally texts me saying she's home, so I head over. $6.75

7:30 p.m. — I stop for gas on the way home, which always makes my heart sink. I used to drive a Prius, but I drive an Outback now and I pay twice as much for gas. Don't get me wrong, I love my car, just not gas prices :/ $60

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Daily Total: $98.98

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — I stop for coffee before work. I used to work at a location closer to the office, but as far as I know, my ex is still working there so I avoid. I worked a handful of shifts at this location, so I know everyone there and they never charge me for my cold brew. Of course, I leave a decent tip. As a freelance graphic designer, I'm lucky to have secured a long term contract at a commercial real estate group where I work a minimum of 20 hours per week on marketing materials. I can set my own hours and work remotely when I need to. $3

2:30 p.m. — I leave work and notice my car is filthy. I only ever wash my car when the dirt on the windshield becomes a hazard or right before pulling into my dad's driveway in the Bay Area after the six-hour drive up from L.A. (look, dad, I take care of the car!), and today's level of dirt falls into the first category. Somehow, the rainstorm yesterday made it worse. This gas station has a drive-thru car wash, so I buy the cheapest one and a pack of gum. I love drive-thru car washes — it's like a rave for your car but instead of leaving all sweaty and brain dead, you come out clean and rejuvenated. $13.39

4:30 p.m. — I head to a hot yoga class and park a few blocks away so I don't have to pay. I'm at the tail end of my free week, and I have zero intention of buying a membership or pack of classes. My friend that I usually go with, M., bailed on me today, so I'm alone. This particular instructor likes to have us partner up for this one pose which I cannot stand. My introverted ass reverts back to that elementary school panic where all of my friends are in a different class, except here, everyone's an extremely sweaty stranger. I didn't eat much today and I really start to feel it towards the end of class. I've been doing hot yoga for 10 years so it normally doesn't phase me, but today is pretty rough. I squat for 10 minutes in the studio's showers to try to catch my breath and not puke. I finally got the strength to get dressed and drive home.

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7:30 p.m. — I snack on some baby bell peppers and hummus just to put something in my system before my friend, T., picks me up for dinner. P. is packing up for night class while I snack. We've been friends since high school where we were both theater kids. Sometimes my only child syndrome comes out around him, he's the sweetest person on earth but never cleans or leaves the apartment except for class. I retreat to the bathroom to do my makeup while T. and I try to figure out what to eat. We settle on Italian, where I order sun-dried tomato pasta. It's delicious. $13.09

9:30 p.m. — Neither of us wants to call it a night yet, so T. and I grab a cocktail nearby. When we first met two years ago, T. had a huge crush on me and would never let me pay for anything. After a few months, he realized his efforts wouldn't be rewarded (except with my dazzling platonic presence, of course), and gradually weaned off of paying for me when we were out. Sigh. This bar is really cute — it's really dimly lit with a fireplace, books on the walls, and really cozy couches. I get a mezcal cocktail, which is a little spicy for my liking. I tell the bartender it's perfect. T. and I talk about our upcoming Japan trip. He'll have to go for work soon, and since I'm half Japanese and a huge chunk of my family is over there, I'm trying to time my upcoming trip with his so we can spend a few nights hanging out together. We head home around 10:30. $16

Daily Total: $45.48

Day Three

6:50 a.m. — My alarm goes off at 6:50 this morning in hopes of making it to hot yoga. To my surprise, M. texts me saying he'd meet me at the 7:45 class this morning — just the incentive I needed to get my ass out of bed. I hop in my car to get to Santa Monica. Traffic is bad so I have to park in a metered spot. $4 for two hours. I love you, Santa Monica, I really do (insert upside-down face emoji). Today's the last day of my free week, and I feel so good during class. M. is my best friend. We dated about two years ago, but like every guy in LA, he didn't want to be tied down. We managed to stay friends, and I am over the fling. However, that doesn't mean that I don't like the fact that I get to show off my yogi body in a sports bra and my Lululemon leggings in front of him just to let him see what he gave up:) $4

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10:30 a.m. — My desktop at work reminds me that I need to order blue light blocking glasses. I haven't gotten new glasses since high school because I normally wear daily contacts. I debate for about 20 minutes whether to spend the extra $50 on a prescription before taking the plunge. It would definitely reduce the frequency at which I have to order contacts, which would be a huge help. I choose a cute pair of prescription tortoiseshell horn-rimmed round glasses. TIJN emails me a $15 off code, hell yes. $105

11 a.m. — I get a Venmo request from M. for all expenses during our MLK weekend trip to Arizona. Considering we spent three nights there, it's not too bad. Most of the $217.72 is from the rental car/gas, and the rest is for the cost of drunken Uber rides and the drinks M. put on his card the last night we were there. We stayed at a friend's house in Scottsdale and his family kindly cooked most of our meals, so all in all, that's not bad for a weekend getaway. Either way, I kind of hate Venmo culture. My friend group is really adamant about splitting everything, even though I'd prefer to trade off what we cover each other for. Whatever, I guess we go out a lot so this is the fairest way to do it. $217.72

12:30 p.m. — My friend N. texts me reminding me that her coworker has a show downtown tomorrow night. I buy a ticket. I swear, I thought today was going to be a no-spend day. If there's one thing I can't say no to, it's live music, and much to my dismay, all of my favorite bands are in town this spring. Last week, I saw Tycho and Silversun Pickups on two different days, and I'm planning on seeing the Strokes, Glass Animals, Umphrey's McGee, and a few others within the upcoming weeks. Oh well, I'm a 24-year-old single girl living in LA. I'd take that over diapers and formula any day. That reminds me, I'm waiting to see if Coachella accepted my volunteer application. $12.57

3:30 p.m. — Every second Tuesday of the month is a free admission day at LACMA, and my friend F. isn't working at the moment so we decided to head there for the afternoon. Even though no payment is required, they ask for a small donation, and $2 is all I have on me in cash. $2

7 p.m. — F. and I make a bet. We see one of those "Shot on an iPhone" billboards and he thinks it's a closeup of the Petersen Automotive Museum. I say it isn't, and we bet a drink. Silly F. We head to a bar and get two happy hour drinks at the bar around the corner, which I definitely feel due to how little I ate today. He pays. After drinks, I head home.

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Daily Total: $341.29

Day Four

10 a.m. — I hang at home and do some work before the show tonight.

5 p.m. — N. texts me saying she's going to be working late and asks if I can pick up a bottle of vodka to pregame for her friend's show tonight. I run to target and look for Deep Eddy Lemon (the only vodka I don't have to chase), but they don't have it so I settle for New Amsterdam Peach (at least I have lemonade at home to make it bearable). $13.13

6:30 p.m. — N., P., F., and I walk into the village to grab dim sum for dinner. We hit this place at least once a week, the food is delicious, filling, and really inexpensive. We order lamb dumplings, mapo tofu, and braised eggplant. We leave so full that I worry I won't be able to get drunk (spoiler: we still get drunk and then head to the show). $14

11 p.m. — My buzz starts wearing off after the show, but a lot of old friends are here so no one wants to leave yet. I order a hard kombucha and a shot of tequila (not that I really needed both, but hey, hump day). $19

Daily Total: $46.13

Day Five

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2 p.m. — Last Saturday night, my friend, G., paid for everyone's cover at the party which I totally forgot to Venmo him for. He reminds me and I send it over right away. I think about adding a little extra for the drinks he bought for me and all the yay I did, but I remember that he makes a lot more than I do (and hey, I design all of his band posters for him). $15

5 p.m. — I really have to pee on the way home from work, so I stop into Target to use the restroom. I remember that I've been out of cocoa powder and PB2 for my morning smoothies, so I pick up a container of each. $9.68

10 p.m. — N. and I go see Little Women, which is so good. Since I pay for AMC Stubs, I try to go see a movie at least once every two weeks, and the theater is pretty close to me. N. orders popcorn for us, and we sneak in some chocolate so we don't have to spend another fortune.

Daily Total: $24.68

Day Six

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3 p.m. — I dogsit for extra money, and today I have to pick up a dog from West Hollywood (which is an absolute bitch to get to on a Friday afternoon). On the way home, I decide to treat my single ass this Valentine's day to an oat milk lavender chai latte from Dialog Cafe. Even though it's on the way home, making a left on Sunset at this hour and finding parking adds another 40 minutes to my drive home. Worth it. I drop the pup off and then head to the gym. $6.25

6 p.m. — I go to the nail salon after the gym for an overdue mani-pedi. My nail tech asks me if I want her to remove my callouses and I say no, but she does it anyway. \_(シ)_/ I go with a dark blue gel for my hands and a red for my toes. My nail ladies always give me a discount since I come in pretty often and am not an asshole, so I always tip generously. $60

8 p.m. — G.'s been sick all week and wants to go out to the Victorian tonight, so I tell him to come over and pregame at mine first. I stop at Ralph's to get a bottle of Deep Eddy Lemon on my way home from my mani-pedi (they have it!). G. comes over and we drink a bit before heading out. $15.49

11 p.m. — G. has been going through a lot with his current guy, they aren't officially dating, but G. is in love with the asshole. I buy him a few drinks to forget the pain. We both get really drunk and dance all night, even when the rest of our group leaves. G.'s bi, and we always kiss when we get really drunk together. It's never gone further than that, it's just this cute thing we do. Kinda weird, whatever. Everyone at the Victorian thinks we're a couple, so no guys approach me and I'm fine with it. $79.84

Daily Total: $161.58

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Day Seven

3 a.m. — After dancing for hours, G. and I are RAVENOUS. I swear Denny's isn't a normal thing for me. We decide to go since it's the only thing open, so we meet our friends who'd left earlier and order a bunch of food. I know I'm going to regret it the next morning, but in the moment, it's so good. One of my friends covers the bill, which I'm really thankful for because I did not mean to spend $80 on drinks. When I'm drunk, I tend to forget money is a real thing that I work for.

2 p.m. — A few of my friends and I are going camping this weekend. We always head out way later than we intend to, so we hit a lot of traffic getting out of LA. About halfway through, everyone is hangry so we stop at a taqueria for lunch. We all get burritos, which are really good until I find a hair in mine. I'm almost finished and pretty full, so I don't say anything. $10

5 p.m. — Once we get to our campsite, we pay $30 for the night and set up our tent. We drive back into town to get groceries and some supplies that we forgot, which is annoying because we do this every time and just accrue a lot of the same camping stuff. $77

7 p.m. — We remember that we didn't get marshmallows and graham crackers to make s'mores, so we stop at Target and I pay because I want them more than anyone else. Once we got back to the campsite, we each take an edible and go through about half our groceries the first night. Worth it. $6.85

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Daily Total: $93.85

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