Next up: a program manager who makes $40,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on wine tasting tickets.
Occupation: Program Manager
Industry: Think Tank & National Security
Location: Washington, DC
Paycheck (1x/month): $3,333
Housing Costs: $880 to rent a shared row house with four roommates.
Loan Payments: None. My university waived my tuition expenses, and my parents and grandparents helped with the rest of my school expenses (books, housing, meal plan, etc.). I worked a part-time job for general living expenses.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Utilities & Internet: $50-$70
Metro Pass: $81
Produce Delivery: $15/week after split with one roommate
Cell Phone: $27 toward my new phone. (My plan is reimbursed by work.)
Foreign Policy Subscription: $15
ACLU Donation: $15
7:30 a.m. — I slept badly last night but still manage to roll out of bed after 30 minutes of snoozing, and stumble downstairs for sustenance. I'm starting to run low on groceries, so this morning it's the last of my Rice Krispies, a pile of apple slices, and coffee.
9:30 a.m. — I stop at the post office on the way to work to mail a package to my brother. I was in Israel for work a few weeks ago and found an art shop with awesome prints while wandering around Jaffa. A print of a black-and-white photographer seeing color through his lens reminded me of my baby bro, who is a budding and super-talented photographer. It was just his birthday, and though I already sent him a "gift" (money for camera stuff), this print was too good to pass up. $3.32
9:45 a.m. — Arrive at work a little later than usual thanks to my post office detour, but I work alone in the office (everyone else is remote) so no harm done. Before getting down to it, I drop by the kitchen to fill my water bottle. I'm horrible at hydration so I'm making an effort to finish a bottle of water before I cave and drink more coffee. For the three days I've been doing it, it's worked! I add a probiotic capsule to the water because why not?
12 p.m. — After a productive morning, I head out for lunch. I usually bring it, but I'm running out of lunch-ready food to pack so today's a treat. I walk to a Poke place I haven't tried yet and realize I still have cash from when I converted my extra shekels back to USD after my work trip, so lunch is paid for by my Israel spending allowance! I bring the food back and spend lunch catching up on my favorite blogs and reading articles. $14
1:30 p.m. — Time for my lunch-dessert and afternoon caffeine. I head to the kitchen and steep a bag of Trader Joe's matcha green tea latte. We have free coffee and cold brew in the office building at all times, but I'm trying to cut back on drinking coffee constantly, so green tea is my substitution for now. I drink it while prepping for a 3:30 conference call.
5:30 p.m. — I catch the bus to a Bossed Up event in Georgetown, where there is no metro. My monthly metro pass doesn't include bus rides, so this is technically $2, but I keep extra discretionary funds on my card for the few times I need a bus or go over my metro pass fare limit. (My pass allows me unlimited free trips within a certain distance; if I go beyond that, I pay the fare balance.) I add $10 of extra fare for these instances, and it generally lasts a month.
7:30 p.m. — Met some cool ladies, but I'm running on empty with just a cup of champagne and a juice sample from the event so I bounce early. Catch a bus back to the metro, realizing too late it's the wrong one and end up walking far more than I'd hoped in my work heels to get to the closest metro stop. Bus ($1) is paid for with my discretionary fare; the metro is mostly covered by my pass with the balance also paid for by my extra fare (an extra 15 cents).
8:30 p.m. — Come home to find packages from orders I placed last weekend. I try on the lipstick (it's perfect and I'm now obsessed) and sports bra (disappointing because once again it's too tight in the boobs and too loose in the waistband — the struggles of a 32D). I head back downstairs to heat up frozen mushroom risotto from Trader Joe's.
11:30 p.m. — After scarfing down way too many servings of risotto, I do GRE practice questions and then try calling some of my best friends. Most of them live in L.A. (our hometown) or somewhere on the West Coast, and they are basically my second family and biggest support system (besides my actual family), so I try to call just to chat on a semi-regular basis. It seems they are all unavailable tonight, but then one calls me back! We chat for a good hour before she heads out to start her night and I settle in to read before calling it a night at 12.
Daily Total: $17.32
7:30 a.m. — Had a weird nightmare about a baby falling off a stage (??) and wake myself up when I gasp and clap my hands to my face. I stay in bed with my eyes closed until my alarm goes off, then snooze for another 30 minutes. I get up, quickly fry eggs, heat up veggie bacon (I am addicted and ALWAYS fully stocked), and brew coffee for breakfast.
9:45 a.m. — At work with my water bottle refilled, ready to go. I quickly take care of some editing and administrative stuff, then prepare for my weekly call with our social media coordinator, who works remotely.
12 p.m. — I walk a few blocks down to the Hudson Institute, where they are hosting a Colombian legislator to talk about the peace deal with the FARC. They are providing salads for lunch, but I skip so I can have my hands free to take notes.
2:20 p.m. — The Hudson event ran long and truly sapped my energy. Now kicking myself for not taking a free salad, I head back to the office with my intern, who usually works remotely but decided to come to Hudson and then work from the office this afternoon. I heat up three sad Trader Joe's veggie gyoza I stuffed in my bag this morning and pour a full cup of hot coffee to get me through the afternoon.
6 p.m. — On Thursday afternoons, my internal team holds a strategy call to review and update the week's progress on all our internal processes. I lead the call, and after cycling through Every. Single. Aspect. of our org, I'm generally so braindead that I just go home and focus on follow-ups the next day. Today after our call, my boss stops by to discuss the Hudson event from earlier, so I end up staying even later. Finally pack up and head home.
6:45 p.m. — At home, I heat up a turkey corn dog and add raw broccoli and a pile of guacamole. I scarf it down and then settle in for a nice, long GRE practice test. Womp.
11 p.m. — Finally finished with my test and reviewing my answers; my brain is mush and I'm ravenous. I go downstairs for chili-lime mango and Principe cookies. After snacking, I tidy my room, organize my planner, read a bit, and knock out by 12.
Daily Total: $0
8 a.m. — Why is waking up so hard?? I snooze repeatedly before deciding to stop pretending and sleep to 8. I'm teleworking today, so that commute time becomes sleep time. Finally get up and make a one-egg omelet, fry a Trader Joe's hash brown patty, heat up veggie bacon, and slice Beecher's cheese to eat with my morning coffee.
9:25 a.m. — At work five minutes early thanks to my pajama outfit and 30-second commute! Fall appears to have finally hit and it's beautiful outside, so I set myself up on the porch. After a few minutes, I realize I'm chilly and quickly make tea. I break out my Trader Joe's pumpkin spice rooibos, which I drink exclusively from late-September to late-November. It's the best time of the year!
2 p.m. — Lost track of time and ended up having to save lunch until after a 1 p.m. call with the event planner for an upcoming conference we're hosting. By the end of the call, I'm fading and having trouble concentrating, so it's into the kitchen to scrounge around for lunch. I manage to make a black bean taco with the one lonely tortilla I have left, the remainders of an open can of beans, and a cup of miso soup along with the last of my tofu. Dessert is a bag of M&Ms I have left over from a movie night. It's definitely time for grocery shopping.
2:30 p.m. — All it took was my lunch of food scraps and the first episode of the new Will & Grace to perk me back up! Back to work and hoping to roll right through to the end of the day.
5 p.m. — Yom Kippur starts tonight, so at 5, I pack up work and start getting ready for services. I take a quick shower and then get dressed while FaceTiming my college roommate/best friend in Chicago. While we talk, I heat up a can of Trader Joe's vegetarian chili for my last meal.
6:30 p.m. — I end up talking to my friend for half an hour longer than I should have; we don't get to talk often so I'm reluctant to end our conversation, but now I'm late for services. The synagogue I'm attending for High Holy Days is inconveniently located for public transit; given that I'm late, I cave and order a Lyft. $10
9:30 p.m. — Services have ended so I walk 13 minutes to the closest bus that will take me home, only to find out the next one doesn't come for another 15 minutes. I feel guilty about paying for so many Lyfts lately (I paid for several to synagogue during Rosh Hashanah last week, and it added up fast), but I'm already hungry again and I just want to be home and in bed. Lyft it is. $8
10 p.m. — Once I get home, I set my alarm for tomorrow morning and fall asleep within half an hour.
Daily Total: $18
8:30 a.m. — I wake up naturally around 8:30. I get up to go to the bathroom and brush my teeth, then lie in bed a bit longer until my alarm.
9:30 a.m. — I decided to attend an alternate Yom Kippur service today instead of the standard synagogue, and I'm relishing not having to be anywhere until 11. (Yom Kippur service usually starts at 8:45.) Since I'm fasting and generally observe the traditions of physical asceticism, getting ready takes about 10 minutes. With all this extra time, I read in bed for a while before leaving the house.
10 a.m. — I take the metro to Dupont Circle (extra fare covered by my Metro pass) and arrive with 20 minutes to spare before I have to be at the bar (you saw that right) where the alternative service is. I decide to sit in the Circle and people-watch while I wait. It's a little chilly, and the circle is full of people chatting over coffee, walking their dogs, and enjoying the cool weather. It's nice and calming, and I feel like it's a great start to Yom Kippur. At 10:40, I walk the remaining five minutes to the bar.
1:30 p.m. — The alternative service was lovely! I have a hard time finding Jewish activities that satisfy my conservative upbringing and my secular lifestyle as an adult, but this service did a great job of staying true to the purpose of Yom Kippur within a modern-day context. After thanking the leaders of the service, I leave and walk back home.
2:30 p.m. — The walk home takes about an hour, but I'm in a good mood after a meaningful Yom Kippur service and I'm enjoying the cooler weather, so I decide it'll be a good opportunity to practice mindfulness and enjoy D.C. instead of rushing home on the metro. By the time I get home, I have a slight headache and I'm exhausted (not eating can do that to a person), so I head directly to my bed for a nap.
4:30 p.m. — I set an alarm to wake up so I would have time to make it to Ne'ilah, the concluding service of Yom Kippur, but when it goes off, I have trouble waking up. After lying in bed for a bit, I decide to skip Ne'ilah (and avoid paying for more Lyfts to and from the inconveniently located synagogue) and just stay at home until it's time to break the fast. I hang out in bed and try calling my family back home, but they don't answer so I have to assume they are still at services.
6:45 p.m. — My parents call me back and we talk about our respective Yom Kippurs. My mom teaches Hebrew school, so she's really curious about my alternative "experience."
7:30 p.m. — It's finally time to eat!!!! I walk down to the Moishe House in Columbia Heights for a break the fast party and proceed to gorge myself on three different types of pasta and garlic bread.
9:45 p.m. — I planned to stop by my favorite bakery in Columbia Heights after the break the fast for a celebratory cupcake, but by the time I leave it's closed. I substitute it with a pack of Hostess cupcakes from 7-Eleven. I pay with some of my Israel money. $2
10:30 p.m. — Once I get home, I eat my cupcakes and start taking off my old nail polish. I paint my nails once a week because it keeps me from biting them, and a manicure is long overdue. I stop short of repainting and decide to go to bed around midnight. Turns out it's really exhausting to go without food or water for 25 hours.
Daily Total: $2
8 a.m. — I wake up naturally and decide to get going on my day. Since yesterday was dedicated to prayer and naps, today I plan to cram as many weekend chores as I can into one day. I whip up coffee, two fried eggs, and of course, veggie bacon. I watch random YouTube videos while I eat, then grab my produce delivery from the porch. I subscribe to Hungry Harvest, which sends weekly boxes of the produce that was rejected by grocery stores (but is totally edible!) because it looked "weird" or was too small or whatever. Every Sunday morning, we get a new box! This week, we got lettuce, tomatoes, yellow onions, red bell peppers, grapes, apples, and a pineapple.
9 a.m. — I get dressed and then put on Portlandia while I do my nails. I finish an episode while waiting for them to dry, then head out for grocery shopping.
10 a.m. — First stop is Trader Joe's; two Metro stops away and covered by my pass. I get milk, garbanzo beans, spaghetti squash, a frozen pizza, veggie breakfast sausage, mushroom ravioli, boxed mac and cheese, banana bread, wheat bread, sweet potato gnocchi, $2 Chuck, and a bunch of eucalyptus for my bedroom. $34.10
11 a.m. — Trader Joe's didn't have great produce, so after I drop off my purchases at home, I head to Safeway for the rest. I get Lucky Charms, a bottle of Coke, Tofurky kielbasa, two cucumbers, green onion, an avocado, and a bunch of cilantro. $16.70
12 p.m. — Fix a bowl of Lucky Charms, throw on a record, and start deep cleaning my room. I'm allergic to basically every kind of dust and mold imaginable, so when I clean, I tend to go all out. I dust, reorganize my closet, refresh my eucalyptus, and do a quick clean of the bathroom.
3:15 p.m. — Welp. Went down the Monica Geller rabbit hole and three hours later, I'm still cleaning. Grab another bowl of Lucky Charms, then vacuum and put away all the stuff I moved around. Finally, I sort my laundry and head downstairs to get the first load going.
3:45 p.m. — Get distracted by an Instagram message from a girl I went to college with, who is currently visiting the city in Mexico where I lived for a bit last year. She saw my comment on her pic of the city and is asking for suggestions on places to go. Big mistake on her part, as I then proceed to send her an Instagram essay detailing my fave spots and emoji crying about my jealousy that she is there.
4:30 p.m. — I'm finished cleaning, but the work is not over. I'm trying to figure out my next steps career wise; I currently work in national security, but I'm a linguist and ultimately want to become a translator. Unfortunately, career advice for translation basically consists of "just do it" so I'm juggling applications to translation firms and studying for the GRE so I can get my master's. It's exhausting, but hopefully will pay off at some point? Another bowl of Lucky Charms to get me through a volunteer application at a language learning nonprofit and research into an online translation gig.
6:45 p.m. — Going through my emails, I'm reminded that Conversational D.C. is having a Spanish wine tasting later this week. I try to go to all their Spanish events, and usually they are free, but this one isn't so I'm hesitant. Finally, I decide to bite the bullet; the event is all in Spanish and there's gonna be wine so that seems like a solid investment. I buy a ticket and reserve my spot. $25
7:20 p.m. — Decide it's time to get dinner going. I head downstairs to put a spaghetti squash in the oven, change out a load of laundry, and then settle down to start another job application while the squash cooks.
8:40 p.m. — Finish up my spaghetti squash cacio e pepe while chatting with two of my roommates who have come into the kitchen to cook and hang out. Once my food is ready, I mix a kalimotxo and eat about half of the squash. The rest goes into a container for tomorrow's lunch.
9 p.m. — For dessert, I cut slices of banana bread and grab a few grapes, and eat them while chatting with one of my roommates who is still cooking. After she's done, I clean up my cookware, switch out the laundry, and head upstairs to wind down.
11 p.m. — Ended up lazing around on my phone for way too long. I quickly run downstairs to switch out the laundry again, then get ready for bed and read for a bit before going to sleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $75.80
7:20 a.m. — Roll out of bed and head downstairs for coffee, a slice of bread with peanut butter and banana, and veggie bacon.
8:30 a.m. — I have plenty of time to get to work, but I'm feeling crampy and want to squeeze a few more chores into the day, so I decide to telework again. I start out on the porch with pumpkin tea, but end up back upstairs next to the open window, where I can enjoy the cool weather and work in the fetal position at the same time. Cramps suck.
11:30 a.m. — Today's workload is super light, and kind of at a standstill until I can check in with my boss. I throw my bed sheets in the wash and pick up the packages UPS just dropped off downstairs. They are both for me! One is sundry household items from Amazon, and the other is a new pair of work pants. I quickly try on the pants, and I'm undecided on how I feel about them. I table the issue and sit back down to do some busy work until my boss calls.
12:30 p.m. — Boss finally calls, and after catching up on a few things I take care of the easier tasks he's mentioned and then break for lunch. I add shredded lettuce, a green onion, and veggie kielbasa to an egg scramble, slice Beecher's, and grab tomatoes. For dessert, it's apple slices with a spoonful of peanut butter and a small slice of banana bread. Then it's back to work.
3:30 p.m. — The combination of light day, cramps, and a message from my mom asking for advice on how to ask my 16-year-old brother if he has a girlfriend are making it hard to focus on work. I brew more tea, try to get more work done, and talk to my mom about whether this hypothetical girlfriend is interrupting his studies.
5 p.m. — Call it a day and start to get ready to leave the house. I have an informational meeting at the Central American Resource Center about an announcement they made a few weeks ago looking for translation volunteers. I'm only mildly familiar with the organization, but what I know of them is pretty awesome and any translation work I can find will get me closer to my career goals, so I'm excited to learn more about the opportunity. I throw on my Celia Cruz playlist to get me in a Spanish mindset while I get ready, then walk over. It's about a 15-minute walk from my house.
6:30 p.m. — The meeting went so well! I'm super excited (and nervous) about this opportunity as it's legal translation, which I've never done in a formal capacity. The woman I spoke to assured me that with my previous experience I should be more than fine, and it can all be done remotely! I call my dad to tell him about my new gig while walking home. Once I'm home, I attempt working out but my cramps take over and I give up halfway through. At least it's better than nothing, right?
7:15 p.m. — Shower and head downstairs planning to cook something healthy, only to find out my roommate is watching Dirty Dancing. As a house, we are all mildly obsessed with Dirty Dancing, and I end up getting sucked into the movie instead of doing anything productive. The healthy chickpea salad I was going to make becomes a Trader Joe's frozen pizza and two kalimotxos.
8 p.m. — Take a break from the movie to call my brother. Not gonna even ask about this girlfriend situation yet, but my dad asked me to try to convince my brother to apply to be a Senate page next summer. My job is easy; when I bring it up, he says he wants to try for it. Job done. We chat a bit more, then I bounce back downstairs to enjoy Patrick Swayze's beauty.
10:15 p.m. — Oops, ended up hanging out downstairs way too long after the movie ended, chatting with my roommates. Eventually we all drift off to our rooms and I get to work cleaning up my room. (Turns out working from your bedroom means it's MESSIER at the end of the day than when you started.) I put clean sheets on my bed, thinking about what I'll do with my new pants until I decide they are too big. I set them alongside the other orders I need to return or exchange.
12 a.m. — Everything is done except GRE studying. I struggle through a few lessons before deciding no learning is going to happen tonight; should have done this earlier. I'll have to try to make up for it throughout the week. (But how does one resist Dirty Dancing?!)
Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed for coffee, bread with peanut butter, some grapes, and veggie bacon.
9 a.m. — Grab my leftover cacio e pepe spaghetti squash and an apple and head out for work. Once I arrive, I put my lunch in the fridge and fill up my water bottle, then it's right to work.
10:30 a.m. — I had to compile reports for a donor meeting my boss is going to in Pennsylvania today, so the beginning of the day was a bit busy, but after he picks up the packets, work slows way down. I have one project for my boss, but I don't understand it so I save it for when he can talk. Work always slows down when he is traveling. I take care of a few personal tasks, confirming my availability for the translation work from yesterday and cleaning out emails. Then I take care of housekeeping (filing, etc.) while waiting for my boss to be available.
11:30 a.m. — My boss calls from the road to ask if I included something in the packet that I forgot. Ugh. He says it's not a big deal and he can print the missing documents when he gets to his hotel, but I curse myself for the oversight. I've put together these packets before. Try to forgive myself and continue with work.
12 p.m. — I'm going to a panel on media and politics in Central America at Inter-American Dialogue, just 15 minutes up the street. I head out of the office to walk over. When I get there, they have sandwiches and chips for lunch! I fill a plate and find a seat for the panel. The lunch I brought today is now tomorrow's lunch.
2:20 p.m. — Back at the office to finish out the day. I have a bit of a headache so I grab a cup of coffee from the kitchen. Still haven't heard from my boss about my assignment from the morning, so it's back to housekeeping tasks until he finally calls back. Even after our conversation I don't feel confident about what I'm supposed to do, but I give it a go and send him a draft. He's in a meeting through the end of the day, so I do more housekeeping until 5:30.
6 p.m. — I'm meeting with a community organizer for a Jewish organization in D.C. that compiles all the Jewish events in the city into one neat calendar. I get to the meeting spot in Dupont Circle 15 minutes early, so I walk around the area for a bit while listening to a podcast. When 6 p.m. hits, I head back to meet with the woman. We order iced teas to drink during our chat. She pays.
7:30 p.m. — I'm meeting my ex-roommate for dinner at a new tapas place that just opened. She brings a couple of friends and we order half the menu to share while catching up. We end up splitting four ways. $46.05
9:30 p.m. — Once I finally get home, I change out of my work clothes and get to studying. I'm taking an online class through edX about Don Quixote and Spain that starts today, so I start reading that. After an hour, I switch over to GRE practice. I finish just before midnight and head straight to bed.
Daily Total: $46.05