A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $40,000 Salary

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Today: a receptionist working at a talent agency who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Steve Madden heels.
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Occupation: Receptionist
Industry: Talent Agency
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,200
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 for my share in a three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment
Car Loan Payment: $216.83
Electricity, Wifi & A/C: ~$54
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $13
Gym Membership: $35
Spotify: $9.99
Hulu/Netflix: Free! My friends work at Hulu, and I use another friend's Netflix.
Cell Phone: $100
Extra iCloud Storage: $0.99

Day One

5 a.m. — My alarm goes off. It's Monday. Ugh, why does morning come so quickly? I text my best friend back home because we agreed to encourage each other to get up and workout this morning. I tell her I can't get up, but she makes me feel guilty, so I count down 3, 2, 1 and I'm up!
5:30 a.m. — Why the fuck do people wear jeans to the gym? Someone tell me please!!
6:30 a.m. — Back home from the gym, and I'm so glad I went. As hard as it is to get up, it makes my day much better when I do. Then I make breakfast — over medium eggs on a bed of lemon arugula and avocado toast with feta and Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning. Best. Breakfast. Ever. I'm out the door and heading to work by 8:02. I work at a talent agency Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and it's hard not to dread the longgggg days, but I recently read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and have been working on being present and not worrying about anything else.
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11:09 a.m. — Phone calls and emails. I'm hungry again, so I have half a green apple, string cheese, a handful of almonds, and some green tea.
2 p.m. — Lunch time, yasssss. I swear I need to constantly be eating or I'm just not happy. I bring my lunch every day because who can afford to eat at the bougie ass Century City mall everyday? Not me! This week I have ground turkey with roasted zucchini and red bell peppers.
7 p.m. — I'm freeeeeee. I stop by Bristol Farms on my way home to pick up teriyaki skewers to go with Chrissy Teigen's Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice that I made this weekend. I also grab coffee creamer and two bananas. $11.39
7:45 p.m. — I sear the meat a few minutes on each side, pop the rice in the microwave, sprinkle with toasted coconut, toss leftover garlic broccoli on the plate, and bam, dinner. I'm the queen of quick dinners.
8:30 p.m. — I got a package in the mail with a swimsuit and dress I ordered for my trip to Vegas next weekend for my best friend's birthday. The swimsuit is adorable, and I usually hate buying things online without trying them on first. The dress is extremely short but...it's Vegas right?
9 p.m. — I'm craving something sweet, so I have a Lenny & Larry's Complete Cookie. I wish I had strawberry mochi instead. I get in bed and watch The Affair. I'm obsessed.
9:26 p.m. — Sweet dreams! (Yes, I'm 87 years old.)
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Daily Total: $11.39

Day Two

5 a.m. — *Usher starts singing.* Nooooo, there's no way it's already 5. Can't do it. Nope. Cramps. Need more sleep. I snoooze my alarm.
6:35 a.m. — *Usher starting singing again.* Whyyyy. Snooze.
6:52 a.m. — Okay, I'm up! I shower, turn on my coffee, and start my makeup. I washed my hair yesterday, so I don't wash it today.
7:20 a.m. — I spend more time making/eating breakfast than I do getting ready. I'm very serious about my meals! Today is two eggs over medium with half an avocado sprinkled with feta and Tapatio.
8:20 a.m. — I pull into the parking garage at my office, and I accidentally lightly tap the car next to me while parking. I'm dying. I look and I don't see a scratch, but I feel sooooo guilty. I walk into work and immediately decide I need to go back and leave a note regardless. I'm praying they don't call me, but I want good karma.
12 p.m. — I go back to check the car because I'm stressing and...IT'S GONE! They haven't called yet, and I'm hoping that's a good sign. My guilty conscience is going crazy.
1 p.m. — Yay, it's time for lunch! Usually I walk outside, but it feels like a damn sauna out today, so I just sit in the shade outside my building and read my book while I eat my ground turkey and vegtables. I'm obsessed with reading.
4:30 p.m. — I keep having heat flashes and chills, plus I have a headache and feel nauseous. Lord, please don't make me sick.
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7:30 p.m. — I get home from work and take a hot shower. Oh, little moments of heaven.
8 p.m. — I make a pita pocket filled with hummus, Trader Joe's garlic spread, and frozen falafel. So good, but I'm not full afterwards, so I make an almond butter and jelly sandwich. This isn't normal for me, but I'm broke AF right now and determined not to grocery shop until after I'm paid on Friday.
8:30 p.m. — Finally in bed and catching up on Sharp Objects. If you haven't watched it yet, start now!
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5 a.m. — Nope, I'm not working out. There's a demon in my stomach trying to kill me with cramps.
6:30 a.m. — You still want to be rude, alarm? Okay. Snooze.
6:40 a.m. — I get up, shower, use dry shampoo, and put my hair in a bun.
7:15 a.m. — I decide to make am everything-in-the-fridge-and-pantry-smoothie. Spinach, Greek yogurt, almond milk, frozen banana, frozen cherries and berries, almond butter, protein powder, leftover toasted coconut from the coconut rice, and chia seeds. Oh, and avocado!
8:21 a.m. — Scream at the person in front of me for braking when there's no one in front of them. God, why are people such idiot drivers!?
10:20 a.m. — Hey, a famous person from a show I used to love is here! Seeing celebrities all day is part of my job, and I'm so used to it now, but it is pretty cool when I see someone I'm a fan of.
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11 a.m. — A crazy person keeps calling the office over and over and over and over and over. It is pissing me off, and I end up having to get security involved.
2:45 p.m. — Hey, there's a guy from a famous early 2000s boy band! It's like a childhood throwback today!
6:10 p.m. — Leaving work early for a preview screening of Crazy Rich Asians at the iPic. I feel like such a normal human when I get to leave at a normal hour.
7 p.m. — Yep, I'm never seeing a movie in a regular theater again. The iPic has reclining lounge chairs, pillows, blankets, and a full food and drink menu. What did I do to deserve this? Oh wait...I paid for it. I Venmo'd my roommate for the tickets last week, so I don't have to worry about paying tonight. I order crispy rice with tuna (omfg amazing), a margarita, and a toffee chocolate chip cookie for dessert. $39.90
9:15 p.m. — I cried five times. Where in the world is my Nick Young? Come to me!
9:20 p.m. — I forgot to validate my parking, so I have to pay $5 instead of $3.50. $5
9:45 p.m. — Finally in bed. I make a quick note in my phone: “Want to walk down the aisle to ‘I Can't Help Falling in Love with You' sung live." Sweet dreams!
Daily Total: $44.90

Day Four

5 a.m. — My alarm goes off. Not today, Satan! I have a headache, and I think it's because I've been eating pretty clean but went HAM at the movies last night. Oh well. I know what you're thinking..."Why does she set her alarm every morning to workout when she doesn't even go?” It's the thought that counts! And it's not happening today. Snooze.
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6:40 a.m. — Okay, I'm up. I wash my hair, put on sunscreen and makeup, do my hair, and get dressed. Breakfast today is coffee (duh), two over medium eggs, and avocado toast with feta and Everything but the Bagel seasoning.
9 a.m. — I run to a different floor at work to yell at my coworker for not inviting me to her premier of Crazy Rich Asians where the actual NICOLAS YOUNG walked in. Love him.
1:20 p.m. — I walk with my work wife to the mall for lunch. I'm soooo tempted to get sushi like she does, but my ground turkey and veggies are $0, and sushi is $9, so...no.
7 p.m. — I'm free! Have to stop for gas first. My sweet friend Venmo'd me $45 for gas the other day after seeing my IG Story and noticing my gas tank was on E. Angels do exist, y'all. I use the $45 from her, plus an extra $5. $5
7:15 p.m. — I get home and evaluate what I have inside my fridge. Hmmmmmm, spinach needs to get eaten and so does the pesto, so I whip up a pesto, spinach, and shrimp pasta while watching Real Housewives of Orange County. Vicki, that was totally a bitch move on Kelly.
10 p.m. — Zzzzz.
Daily Total: $5

Day Five

6 a.m. — It's Friday, and it's payday! I catch up for 15 minutes on Kylie's 21st birthday. My invite must have gotten lost in the mail...
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6:30 a.m. — Shower, have coffee, and make some Trader Joe's gluten-free waffles. I add peanut butter and a touch of maple syrup.
8:30 a.m. — I run into work, and my coworker brings me a venti vanilla bean coconut milk cold brew from Starbucks. Such an angel.
11 a.m. — You know those days where everything and everyone is pissing you off? Today. That is today.
1 p.m. — It's the weekend! Thank god for summer Fridays. I'm definitely going to cry when they end soon. I'm going to a special screening on BlacKkKlansman for work, so I rush over to get there in time.
4 p.m. — Wow. Wow. Wow. That was powerful. Go see it!
4:30 p.m. — I'm finally home and am starving, so leftover pasta it is.
6 p.m. — I'm supposed to go out with a guy tonight, but of course we have no set time or place. Why does dating have to be so difficult? Tell me where to be and when and make it before 8 p.m., okay?!
7 p.m. — While I'm waiting to hear back from him, I decide to vacuum, rearrange my room, and have a nice glass of cabernet.
10 p.m. — He finally picks me up at 10 and has made a reservation at Katana, a Japanese restaurant in West Hollywood. It's super loud but has an amazing vibe. I order a dirty martini (my fave) and crispy rice with spicy tuna. Delish! We stay for over an hour and have an amazing convo getting to know each other. He pays and then we decide we don't want to go home yet, so we head to another place for one more drink. When we get the car from valet, he opens my door, which is such a small gesture, but something I don't feel happens enough anymore.
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12 a.m. — We get to E.P & L.P, a hoppin' rooftop bar and restaurant also in West Hollywood. The line is about 20 people long (yes, even at midnight), but he knows someone who knows someone, so they let us right in. I get one more drink, a vodka tonic, and we stay until closing. He pays again, such a gentleman.
2 a.m. — How am I this drunk? I take my makeup off before faceplanting onto my bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Omg, I'm going to die. My head feels like it's going to explode. Help!
10:30 a.m. — Hi, it's me, still dying! Send help! I get up to make avocado toast, hoping it will help, but it doesn't at all. Then I lay on the couch for a few hours with a blanket over my eyes.
12 p.m. — I'm back in bed in my pitch black room and decide to sleep again. I feel horrible that half my day is gone, but I try and remind myself that it's okay to do nothing on the weekends when I work as much as I do.
2:30 p.m. — Okay, I'm finally awake and feeling 97% better. How the hell am I going to survive Vegas next weekend?
3:30 p.m. — I head to the gym and get in a good hour-long workout.
5 p.m. — I stop by Target to get eyelashes for Vegas and make it out of the store spending under $40. I'm so proud! I got the lashes I needed, plus deodorant, hairspray, coffee creamer, and a cute shirt ($39.83). I truly hate shopping but I need new clothes, so if I see something that's cute, I just have to go for it. I used a coupon on my Cartwheel app for the hairspray and it saved me $0.60. I then walk over to Trader Joe's to stock up on whatever looks good. I talk to myself the entire time, or else I forget what I'm getting ($65.87). $105.70
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7 p.m. — A friend I haven't seen in a while invites me for a drink with her, her fiancé, and a few other couples. Although drinking doesn't sound amazing after my hangover, I do want to see her, so I decide to go. But after getting ready and then laying down on the couch, I decide I'd much rather just get in bed and watch The Affair, so I don't go after all. I'm craving something sweet, so I pop cookie dough in the oven.
Daily Total: $105.70

Day Seven

8:15 a.m. — How amazing is it to wake up without an alarm and a hangover? I make myself a hot cup of coffee with almond milk vanilla creamer and cinnamon and cuddle back in bed to finally finish The Affair. My mom and I both watch from 400 miles apart, and she is dying to chat about it.
9:30 a.m. — I feel like going to a cute coffee shop on the beach in Venice or Santa Monica, so I do a quick Instagram Story question post for recommendations. Someone suggests Gjusta in Venice, and although it's not on the beach, parking is way easier over there. I look to see if I got any other recommendations, but nope, just a marriage proposal and an "I love you." Oh, the wonders of having a non-private Instagram. Gjusta it is! Oh wow...I just walked into the hipster headquarters of the world. I also just paid $6.50 for an iced almond milk latte the size of my thumb. L.A., you are such a wonderful place. $6.57
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11 a.m. — My roommate texts me asking if I want to meet for coffee. I'm on a coffee crawl, I guess! We meet at Superba, another hipster spot, and I Venmo her $10 for an iced vanilla latte and amazing breakfast potatoes that we split. $10
1 p.m. — I brave the crowds and run to the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica to try and find a pair of nude heels for Vegas next weekend. I hate shopping. I need a personal shopper. And why do people need to stand on top of you in line? I hope she's reading over my shoulder as I type this. I get a dainty necklace from Forever 21. $5.40
2 p.m. — I'm crazy for coming here on a Sunday. It's insane, I'm hot, and I'm having major anxiety. I try on a dress and it's cute. Sold ($35). I then run into Steve Madden to find heels. The sales girl really tries to convince me to buy heels by saying they “really contour my foot well.” *Eyeroll.* $95.95 later, the heels are mine. $130.95
4 p.m. — I'm home and exhausted, but being the adult that I am, I need to clean the kitchen, do laundry, and meal prep for the week. I also pack for Vegas, since I leave early Friday and my days are long.
7:30 p.m. — Insecure on HBO is back. So good. Issa Rae is the best.
9 p.m. — I finish The Affair so my mom and I can discuss, and then I'm off to bed! I have a 5 a.m. wake up call....and this time I SWEAR I'm getting up. Sweet dreams!
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Daily Total: $152.92
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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