A Week In Monterey, CA, On A $120,000 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.

This week, we're featuring moms and their spending during the back-to-school rush. Per Deloitte, in the United States alone, back-to-school season is the second biggest shopping season of the year, "touching 29 million households and accounting for $27 billion in sales." Since women are usually responsible for household purchases, wherever they are in the country or in the world, we wanted to see what it's like for women with children of a variety of ages, in a variety of locations.

Today: a graduate student who makes $120,000 per year, and spent some of her money this week on school clothes and Origins face wash.

Occupation: Graduate student
Industry: Military
Age: 33
Location: Monterey, California
Salary: $120,000. The military pays my salary and tuition.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,225.01

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $3,000 to rent a house with my daughter. My husband is stationed in Los Angeles.
Car Payment: $702/month for five years
Student Loan: $449, with $4,000 remaining

All Other Monthly Expenses
Auto Insurance: $90
Electricity: $135 — and my landlord reimburses 35%. Long story short, I found out that I had been paying my landlord's electricity for six months. They reimbursed me for their portion and decided 35% was fair since they spend 50% of time out of town.
Cable & Internet: $92.75
Daughter's Care: $35/day, four days per week for summer camp
HOA: $190 per quarter for a rental I have in Texas
Verizon Wireless: $150/month (including my husband's phone)
Netflix: $10/month
Barre Unlimited Membership: $112.50/month
Amazon Prime: Husband pays with his check
Retirement: 9% of monthly base pay. (I know it should be more!)
Savings: ~$1,500/month, plus whatever I have left in my checking account when I get paid

5:30 a.m. — Repurchase Philosophy eye cream since I had to refuse my previous order at the post office due to damage; the refund hasn't been processed yet. Philosophy added many extras to my order to "make it right" after an item exploded in the box. Yay! $73.95

9 a.m. — Buy a $29.99 reusable water bottle at barre for 20% off. I pay $25 after tax and the discount. I am so weak when it comes to barre swag! $25

10:30 a.m. — Finally eating after barre — a green smoothie bowl and bottle of water at a café while I correct and submit two papers due today. As a full-time grad student at a military school, I have class two days a week. I should eat before I get up and get my daughter moving for the day, but I never do. I always end up running around my house doing chores instead. $12.21

2:30 p.m. — Rent and cable/internet are due. I catch my landlord outside after I get back from the café. It disgusts me to pay this much for housing. I am from Texas, and this is the most expensive place I have been stationed in my 15 years of service. I grab a quick snack at home before I pick up my daughter from summer camp!

9 p.m. — Tooth-fairy expense! When my daughter and I get home, she loses a tooth while eating Fruit Snacks. (It was wiggly for a while.) After tears and hugs, we take our pup on a walk, come home, and cook dinner. As a vegetarian, I buy her precooked meat. We eat salads today; hers has flank steak that I bought cooked. After she falls asleep at bedtime, I tiptoe into her room to take the tooth and give her $5. $5

Daily Total: $116.16
7 a.m. — As soon as I get to class, I deposit the landlord's share of the electric bill this month. I'm not really worried about the amount itself, but about the fact that I was paying their bill before. I drink coffee at home and on my way to take my daughter to summer camp. I hate this day since my class starts at the exact time her camp opens. The professor lets me come 15 minutes late but it is still embarrassing to walk in after everyone else.

7:45 a.m. — A friend takes my Starbucks card to go on a coffee run during break. We always switch off paying since we are thesis partners and are always in coffee shops together. Venti iced coffee with half and half, no sweetener. $7

12:15 p.m. — Fill up my tank before I leave campus, as gas is much cheaper on the military base. Head home to eat lunch and work on more homework before I pick up my daughter from camp. Eat, sleep, study, repeat. $35.55

Daily Total: $42.55
6 a.m. — Up two hours before I get my daughter up because I need some alone time. My dog squished me all night and I'm feeling crabby. Coffee and pancakes for me, pancakes and juice for her.

9 a.m. — Gel manicure and pedicure. I recently changed nail salons and I love this one so much more. $60 (including $10 tip)

12:15 p.m. — Head to a 45-minute barre class before I go home for lunch. Have fruit at home and a small salad before studying. Work until I have to get my daughter from camp.

Daily Total: $60
7 a.m. — Up at 7 since it's Fri-yay! Coffee at home before I take my daughter to camp and head to barre. Today's class is an hour, so I'll get food after. It's a killer workout; everyone should try barre!

11 a.m. — Venti iced coffee with half and half, no sweetener. I eat a banana and almonds I brought with me and work on homework that's due Tuesday. $3.75

11:45 a.m. — Nordstrom steals my money! (Especially during the anniversary sale.) I buy Zella leggings, one pair of Beyond Yoga leggings, and three pairs of shoes for my daughter. My husband is going to be slightly irritated at me, but YOLO. One thing about barre: It makes you want to buy ALL the cute clothes! $327.45

5:30 p.m. — Pick up daughter after doing more work and head home for the day. We eat Trader Joe's appetizer-like dishes for dinner and watch TV for the rest of the night since I don't have homework on Friday! (I'm a Trader Joe's enthusiast and spend about $80 there per week.)

Daily Total: $331.20
9:30 a.m. — Up for the day. School starts in two weeks and I have to get my girl her new clothes. I didn't grow up with a lot of money, so to the annoyance of my husband, I make sure she has ALL the clothes. First stop: Old Navy. $44.56

10:30 a.m. — Stop in Sephora for face wash. Origins Checks and Balances is life! I have never looked back after starting to use this. $25.13

12 p.m. — Smoothie bowls for the win at lunch. I don't like açaí so I always get the green bowl, a smoothie with granola and sliced fruit on top. Today, I order extra banana. My daughter gets a turkey sammy, cut-up apple, and a lemonade. $30 (including tip)

1:20 p.m. — I pretty much black out in Target. I don't get myself anything — it is all Cat & Jack items for my daughter. I suggest this brand for all the "middle-class" moms out there. It's good quality, cute, and doesn't take all your money for your always-growing kiddos! We get shirts, tanks, leggings, and a Star Wars sweater. $131.21

2:30 p.m. — Geez, I'm tired. I buy a venti coffee on the way out. I hate shopping, but I needed to get it all done today. Head home to walk the pup as he's been home by himself all day. I know; bad puppy mom. Get home to find him waking up on his favorite chair. Take him on a walk, get us all showered, and relax at home for the rest of the night. I am lazy, I miss my husband (whom I only get to see once a month due to a more than five-hour distance), and I prefer to eat at home since I'm a vegetarian. We make pasta with red sauce for me, and white sauce for my daughter. There's zucchini on the side for both of us; she gets chicken breast with hers. $4

Daily Total: $234.90
8 a.m. — Whole Foods hot bar for breakfast. I had coffee at home, and I get oatmeal and fruit for me and bacon, eggs, and a tortilla for my daughter. We also pick up ingredients for vegetarian lasagna. So good and such a comfort dish. Head home to take the pup for a walk. It's absolutely gorgeous here; for those who aren't familiar with Monterey, it's always foggy and chilly. $22.13

12 p.m. — Eat a quick lunch at home: cauliflower pizza crust from TJ's with sauce and mozzarella. I buy non-animal rennet cheese to ensure I'm not eating animal products. I feel bad about eating dairy as a vegetarian, but I do it anyway. Daughter's pizza has organic turkey pepperoni.

2 p.m. — Take my daughter swimming at a local indoor pool. She loves it and I get to sit on the bleachers and study. I always give her at least two hours in the pool; we bring toys and there are lifeguards, so I can periodically look up from studying and know she's okay. I snack on almonds that I brought from home, and she snacks on apple slices after she gets out. $4.95

4 p.m. — Buy take-out Mexican food from a local mom-and-pop spot. I hate franchise restaurants, and this is so good. I get vegetarian nachos with extra jalapeños; she gets two steak tacos. Go home, walk pup again, and relax for the rest of the night. $22

Daily Total: $49.08
7 a.m. — Coffee at home, cereal for my girl, get ready for barre class.

9:05 a.m. — Kids club at barre. My studio has childcare on certain days and I love it. I'd gladly pay $7.50 to work out when she's not in camp. $7.50

11:30 a.m. — I make us lunch after getting home from barre. I hate Sundays since I have so. Many. Chores. I wash clothes, fold them, put them away, and clean the house. As I'm cleaning, I put rice on in my rice cooker. After, I quickly sauté frozen veggies and eat that for lunch. I add chicken to my daughter's. I stay at home the rest of the night and get ready for the week to start again. Tonight's meal is breakfast for dinner: pancakes and fruit for me; pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon for her. I get us cleaned up, clean up the kitchen, and watch the past two weeks of Shahs of Sunset before I go to sleep.

Daily Total: $7.50
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