A Week In Palo Alto, CA, On A $97,000 Salary

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Today: an executive personal assistant who makes $97,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money at the movies.

Occupation: Executive Personal Assistant
Industry: Philanthropy
Age: 28
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Salary: $97,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $2,450

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $1,700. I live in a five-bedroom townhouse with four roommates. Our rent includes water, electricity, and monthly cleaning services. I also have one of two private parking spots that I am supposed to be billed $50/month for, though they have never charged me.
Loan Payments: $0. Thank you, parents!

All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Membership: $95
HBO: $15
Spotify: $9.99
Match.com: $35. I need to cancel this.
Cell Phone: $100. About half is reimbursed by work.
Rent The Runway: $150 for an unlimited subscription

Day One

8 a.m. — I invited a new coworker with me to grab coffee from one of my favorite places close to my office. It was great to start a Friday with conversation and an almond latte. Our office services coffee and lattes, but I enjoy going out for coffee a few times a week. $6

12 p.m. — Walk over to a specialty market that has a great salad bar. We typically have a lot of leftovers in our office throughout the week so I can usually count on food, but nothing healthy was left today. $10

6:30 p.m. — I do a quick workout and run over to my favorite poke place to grab a bowl before seeing a movie. Tuna poke bowls are one of my favorite to-go dinners, but the price adds up after I add seaweed salad and avocado. I recently moved to the Bay Area, and I spent my first few weeks her checking out poke bowl places (there are a lot). $12

7:30 p.m. — I, Tonya was an interesting movie but I wouldn't see it again. When I told my mom I went, she said she wouldn't see it either because she "lived through it." After the movie, I decided to join the theater's movie club. My friends back home make fun of me, but it is a great deal: $8/month for one movie per month. (Tickets are otherwise $15!) You also get additional tickets for $8. $15

Daily Total: $43

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — Heading into San Francisco (approximately 30 miles — about an hour — from me in Silicon Valley). I fill up my tank before driving. I am meeting a friend to go biking today, and it looks like a beautiful day so far! $40

10:30 a.m. — Parking is a disaster where my friend lives. I think I circled the block by her place four or five times before giving up and just driving farther away to find a spot. I walk toward what I think is her street, but realize I'm not by her place at all. I give in, call a Lyft, and pick her up so we can go to Neiman Marcus in Union Square. My friend and I both use Rent the Runway Unlimited's subscription service (and RTR is located on the top floor of Neiman). Since I've moved, I have significantly fewer social and work events to go to, so I generally use it for getting nice work clothes or when I travel. $10

12:30 p.m. — My friend pays for a Lyft over to the Marina/Wharf area where we are picking up rental bikes. We end up grabbing a late lunch at Buena Vista, the home of the original Irish coffee! We share a table with a couple and end up in conversation. One half of the couple is moving here from Seattle in a few months, and she is in town trying to figure out what neighborhood she wants to live in. We have fun exchanging moving to the Bay Area stories. $25

2 p.m. — Bike pickup! Our plan is to ride over the bridge and take the Sausalito ferry back. (Our bike rental includes the ferry fare.) We conquer the last hill before the bridge and think we're in the clear for a nice, non-hilly experience the rest of the way — wrong. There aren't any hills but it is crazy windy! We make it over the bridge after what seems like the longest, coldest, most difficult ride ever, thankful to leave that behind us. The views are great but it is an experience I'm happy to have completed once and not repeat. We bike down to beautiful Sausalito, which is so charming, and find a little market for coffee to warm up. After, we get to the line for the ferry, and it is so insanely long that we decide to take a cab back. We share the car with another couple visiting from Germany, and my friend covers the cost of the car since she'll get a credit for the ferry tickets, and I covered the Lyft earlier. $40

6 p.m. — The car drops us off about a block away from the bike return and we enjoy a last, short ride through the crab-smelling wharf. The return goes great, and I call a Lyft to take us to dinner. My friend is doing a January cleanse — no alcohol, dairy, or gluten — and being the good friend that I am, I pick one of my favorite restaurants, Delarosa, which has amazing pizzas and salads. Friend gets mussels and a salad, and we essentially share a table (divided with a small decoration) with two guys visiting on break from college. They are 18, and my friend gives them suggestions for places young'uns can visit. We finish dinner and I pay; my friend pays me her half on Venmo. We take a Lyft line to my car, and I drop off my friend at her house. I head back to the South Bay and immediately pass out when I get home. $45

Daily Total: $160

Day Three

6 a.m. — I'm an early riser on every day of the week. I wake up, make myself a coffee, and go back to bed.

4 p.m. — After what feels like the laziest day, full of binge-watching Divorce, I make it to my gym's Sunday afternoon yoga class. It's definitely not the best yoga class, and it drives me crazy when people show up late. But I enjoy the stretching and time for mental clarity — and that the class is included in my membership!

6 p.m. — Quick trip to Sprouts, which I've recently discovered. I have been a loyal Whole Foods shopper but their parking situation is ridiculous, and it's never difficult to park at Sprouts (and it's closer to my house). I grab a few things for the week and am in and out rather efficiently. $24

Daily Total: $24

Day Four

9 a.m. — We have the day off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, so I run to my car dealership to get my tail light replaced. It's been out for a few weeks, but I haven't taken the time to get it fixed. I'm driving into San Francisco again today, so it's time to get it done. $10

10:30 a.m. — It took me a few months to find a good nail place, but I finally found a great salon close to my office. I run in for a quick manicure and pedicure and have a great experience (even though I jammed my thumb the other day and am nervous about them removing the gel from it). Friend in SF texts that she's done with work and ready to play, so I jet home to change, grab a baseball hat, and go into the city. $75

3:30 p.m. — After taking the dog to the beach, we grab a snack from the market. I get a farro, tomato, and mozzarella salad; we're fueling up before yoga. We get back to my friend's house and I realize I'm so full from our "snack" that I can't do yoga. Friend agrees, and we decide not to go. A few minutes later, my friend suggests we reconsider so before I know it, we are running downstairs to the yoga studio on the ground floor of her building. The class is packed. I quickly sign up for a free one-week pass and my friend drops my mat next to a cute shirtless guy. Hey there! $5

6 p.m. — We have an amazing class, and I love the studio. Next, we catch the sunset on her roof, and I look up other studio locations near me. There is one about 25 minutes from my house, and I commit to going again this week. When I leave, I find two parking tickets on my car for $75 each! I decide to deal with this later; I thought the meters were off for the holiday. So annoying! I hit up Target to grab a few additional groceries for the week — LaCroix, chicken, spaghetti squash, Annie's cheddar bunnies, and toiletries. $32

Daily Total: $122

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I typically eat breakfast at work — either a protein shake or a Siggi's yogurt with almonds — as they're pretty generous with free breakfast options. Today is a vanilla shake kind of morning.

12 p.m. — We have a guest speaker at lunch today who is incredible and talks about the criminal justice system. Lunch is catered (as it typically is on Mondays), and we have a great spread with salad and chicken.

5:30 p.m. — I subscribe to Plated, one of the meal subscription services, off and on. I saw them on Shark Tank, really liked their pitch, and decided to try it out. I love trying different recipes, and it has encouraged me to cook more. But I've found the meals get expensive and are high in calories. I make one of my final Plated meals (steak frites), and it ends up being delicious!

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — It's another protein shake morning — chocolate this time. I pay for my car insurance, which is due at the end of the month. This will cover me for three months. $291.37

12:30 p.m. — We have leftovers from yesterday's lunch at the office. I catch up with my coworkers and enjoy getting to know them more.

2:30 p.m. — I run an errand for my boss at Paper Source, and while I'm there, I pick up some cards. I love sending handwritten notes as much as I enjoy receiving them! A friend recently found out she's pregnant, so I find a cute mom-to-be card, a birthday card for my cousin, a card for a friend's birthday (I'm trying to be ahead of things), and a "miss you card" for a BFF from home. The cards are pricey but worth it. I hope they'll make the recipients smile! $25

7 p.m. — I trek down to the yoga studio that's closer to me to try a hot power fusion class. It ends up being amazing, and they complete the class in the dark with just candles. I am hooked on the studio and vow to go back tomorrow! I get home and make dinner with some food I have left from my grocery shopping the other day.

Daily Total: $316.37

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I run to the grocery store with my coworker for gum. The protein shakes always leave a weird aftertaste. $1.50

12:30 p.m. — Lunch with coworkers. They take me to a great Japanese restaurant close to our office. We talk work and expense the lunch ($20).

7:30 p.m. — Back to yoga! I am hooked on the evening class; it's a great way to wind down from the day. I have a few days left on my free week but talk to the girls about signing up for the monthly pass. It costs $110 the first month and $189 each additional month. I mull it over and pop by the tea place downstairs to grab a drink for my ride home. I wanted something warm but the tea is iced. Still pretty good despite not being what I expected. $5

Daily Total: $6.50

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