A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $43,500 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.
Today: an environmental specialist who makes $43,500 per year and this week spends some of her money on a notebook.
Occupation: Environmental Specialist
Industry: Government
Age: 24
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $43,500
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,377.51
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $750 (My share of a one-bedroom apartment that I live in with my partner; rent includes parking)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I was very lucky that my mom and dad paid for my education.)
Health Insurance: $155.88 (taken out of my paycheck)
Pet Insurance: $24.62 (taken out of my paycheck)
401(k): $210 (My employer matches my contribution at the end of the year.)
Transportation: $110 (covered by work)
Car Insurance: $57.40
Spotify & Hulu: $12.99
Netflix: $0 (Thanks, mom and dad.)
Climbing Gym: $69.36
Phone Bill: $0 (This is my last month on my parents' plan — next month it will be $40.)
Utility Bill: ~$45
Savings: $150

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I hit snooze and scroll through Instagram on my phone until 8. The puppy starts making noise, so my partner, G., gets up, gives him breakfast, and takes him downstairs to pee. I throw clothes on and do my morning skin care routine of exfoliating toner, vitamin C serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen. We put the puppy in his jacket and are out the door by 8:20.
8:45 a.m. — We drop the puppy off at daycare before we go our separate ways downtown. Paying for puppy daycare is expensive — we buy 10 days at a time for $380 and alternate who pays. (10 days lasts us about five weeks.)
9 a.m. — Make it to work. My boss is back from vacation. I'm glad she's back, because we're the only two from the company sitting at this client site right now. We chat for a bit before digging into work. A few months ago, I bought a coffee maker specifically to save money on coffee, but I couldn't be bothered to use it this morning, so I go to the coffee shop downstairs in my building and get an Americano. At 10, I make banana nut oatmeal and take my vitamin D. $3.80
12:30 p.m. — It's the start of the new fiscal year for my company, as well as the start of the month, so I have quite a few administrative tasks to take care of, which keeps me busy for most of the morning. I typically work on environment-focused projects, but as a consultant, sometimes I help out with marketing and project management tasks to fill out my billable hours. I take a break to go down the street to a lunch buffet place that I love. They charge by the weight, but I pretty much get the same thing every time, and it's rarely over $6.50. It's worth it to me, because I hate meal prepping. Today I get my usual: salad with soy vinaigrette, two pieces of a California roll, rice, and chicken. $6.61
12:30 p.m. — During lunch I finally pull the trigger on work shoes that have been sitting in my Gap cart for a few weeks. I get a pair of flats and a pair of heels that are both on sale and use an extra 20% off code. $80.15
5 p.m. — I meet G. at the dog daycare, and we head home with the pup. Days when the dog goes to daycare are great because he's so tired he doesn't want to go on a walk in the evening, which gives us extra time. I give the dog dinner and then snack on Kettle Chips and iced tea while I work on adding addresses to our wedding guest list. We're getting married later this year, and even though we're trying to keep it relatively low key, we're planning and paying for the wedding mostly ourselves, so there's a lot to do.
7:30 — G. makes pad see ew noodles with chicken and broccoli for dinner. After dinner, I clean the kitchen and eat Rolos. I have big plans to do more chores and maybe work out, but instead, I pour a glass of wine, do my nightly face routine (retinol serum, hyaluronic acid, and moisturizer) and paint my nails. We've been looking at flights to Oakland for later this summer for our unofficial bachelor/bachelorette weekend, and decide tonight's the night to buy. I've been saving my credit card rewards specifically for this and have $275 to put toward my flight. The flight costs $285.40, so I end up only spending about $10! $10.40
Daily Total: $100.96

Day Two

7 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm but lay in bed until it goes off. G. and the puppy stay in bed while I get dressed, do my morning face routine, and start the coffee maker. I take the puppy out to pee, put leftover noodles in my bag, and jump on the bus. I get a low fare warning, so I reload my ORCA card when I get to work. ($110 expensed)
1 p.m. — Heat up last night's leftovers and an orange I brought from home for lunch at my desk.
5 p.m. — After a pretty uneventful afternoon, I leave a few minutes early to go to my wedding dress appointment at BHLDN. This is my second appointment, so I have a good idea of what I'm actually looking for. My stylist pulls dresses from the list I brought and we start with the ones I've been staring at online the most. I end up falling in love with the first dress I try on and comparing all the others to that one. I try the first dress on again, and I think it's the one! As an added bonus, it just went on a major sale! Like, $1,000 off, major sale! My mom offered to pay for the dress and gave me a pretty big budget, but I've been setting a personal budget of under $1,000. Our wedding isn't going to be extravagant, and I would just feel guilty and uncomfortable wearing a super expensive dress.
6:30 p.m. — I get on the Link and pick up two chicken tikka masalas and rice on my way home because I know G. is working late tonight. We don't usually eat out during the week, but we planned for this today since our schedules were going to be a little out of whack. I get a double order so I can eat the leftovers as lunches. G. tries to Venmo me for dinner, but I tell him this one's on me $29.86
8 p.m. — G. is working late (and his home office desk is in our living room), but he doesn't mind that I have the TV on. I eat a mini Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar for dessert and then accidentally fall asleep on the couch. I wake up, shower, and do my nightly face routine. By 9:30, G. is finally done working and wants to hang out, so we play a round of Carcassonne — a tabletop game kind of similar to Settlers of Catan. Then we get in bed and each read our library books until we fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $29.86

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, and play with the puppy while I start the coffee maker. Decide to walk to work since it's nice out right now, but put a rain jacket in my bag after I look at the forecast for the rest of the day. Once I get to my desk, I have my coffee from home and make oatmeal while I respond to emails and make my to-do list for the day.
1 p.m. — For lunch I heat up leftover Indian. While I eat, I organize my finances: pay my credit card bill, move money from my savings to my checking for upcoming wedding expenses, and move $2,000 from my savings into my investment account.
3 p.m. — This has felt like a very long Wednesday and I am feeling PMS-y, so I feel like I deserve a treat. I go downstairs to get a cardamom vanilla latte from the coffee shop. $5.51
5 p.m. — I decide to walk home, since it's only slightly raining. I get a call from my sister, who asks me to help her find a new computer, since her Mac broke, and she's going back to school to get her teaching Master's soon. Last year I bought a Lenovo for less than $250 after my Mac died, and she wants a similar deal. When I get home, G. and I take the doggo for a nice long walk.
6:30 p.m. — G. makes veggie lentil soup while I call my mom. I thank her for the jean jacket she got me as an early birthday present that just came in the mail. I told her not to get me anything since she's helping out with a lot of wedding stuff, but she got me a present anyway. I send an email to the wedding caterer, because they just sent us a contract that says their catering minimum is $3,000 — which is almost $1,000 over what they quoted us!
8 p.m. — After dinner, I do a resistance band workout, watch TV, and read. We're asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $5.51

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Wake up, get ready, make coffee. Put a Clif Bar in my bag, since I ate the last of the oatmeal that I keep at my desk. Package up the rest of the leftover Indian food. G. and I walk the dog to daycare and I'm at work just before 9. I drink the coffee I made at home and eat my Clif Bar for breakfast.
12:30 p.m. — I planned on eating leftover Indian for lunch, but G. IMs me saying he's craving guacamole and asks if I want to meet him at Chipotle for lunch. We don't usually meet up for lunch like this, so it feels like a treat when we do. I get a chicken burrito bowl and G. gets a chicken burrito. We pay separately. G. wants to go spy on the dog at daycare, so we walk by and watch him through the big windows. All the dogs in the room are napping, but our dog is begging for treats from the attendant! We don't want to disturb the peace, so we leave once one of the dogs notices us and starts barking. $8.09
3 p.m. — I can feel myself start to drag, especially after my big lunch, so I grab an Americano from downstairs. $3.69
5 p.m. — G. is going to a work happy hour tonight, so I pick up the dog and we go home and lay on the couch together. I remember I need to get my sister a birthday present, so I order her a face mask and Balm Dot Com from Glossier. G. is back just before 7, and we eat leftover lentil soup for dinner. $34
7:30 p.m. — We go to the climbing gym! I spend today doing more moderate climbs and focusing on good technique and endurance. When we get home, I do a quick resistance band workout and a take shower.
Daily Total: $45.78

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up a little early. G. is on a conference call, so I try to get ready without making too much noise. I don't want to use the coffee grinder, so I pick up a coffee once I get to work. I'm at my desk by 8:45, eat a Clif Bar, and take my vitamin D. $3.69
12:30 — Lunch is leftover Indian that I packed yesterday. While I'm eating, I get an email from my health insurance with a claim for the insulin pump supplies I bought two weeks ago. (I'm a type 1 diabetic.) I cringe at the bill for $407.10 and decide to wait until the bill from the pump supply company comes, to avoid overpaying the insurance. The supplies should last me three months, but I need to do research to see if I can bring the cost of the supplies down. On a happier note, a friend sends me an invite to a networking/socializing event next week for a talk about salmon habitat restoration at a brewery!
5 p.m. — I take the bus home, and then G. and I take the dog on a walk while we discuss what we want to do tonight. We try to make Friday nights feel like date night even though we spend most nights together. The dog is not happy that it's sprinkling outside, but we make it home without incident.
7 p.m. — We decide we want to get tacos and then go to a barcade! It's raining out, but we walk anyway. That was a mistake — we only make it about four blocks before we're drenched! Our pants and jackets are completely soaked through, which is not normal for Seattle rain! We decide we won't be happy sitting anywhere with completely wet clothes, so we turn around and go home. We contemplate changing and taking a Lyft, but decide we're over it and drive to get Thai food. We order chicken satay, pad see ew, and yellow curry. G. pays. Of course once we start driving, the rain stops.
9 p.m. — We take a short walk to the neighborhood bar to get beers. $16
Daily Total: $19.69

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and make savory toast for breakfast with butter, marmite, and Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I decide to officially order the wedding dress I tried on ($660.60, paid for by my mom). I have 30 days to return it for a full refund, so I may do another shopping trip in the next couple of weeks just to make sure there isn't one I like better. While I'm in the wedding organizing mood, I call the caterer to negotiate the contract and am able to secure our original quote! Success! I edit the contract before I sign it to make sure they don't go back on their word later, and pay the 50% deposit. $1,160.50
11 a.m. — Puppy is bored, but it's raining, so I put off our walk for later, hoping to catch a break in the rain. G. and I walk to a coffee shop and talk about the personal projects we're working on while we sip cappuccinos. I pay. $8.37
12 p.m. — I go to get my hair trimmed and dyed. I've been slowly transitioning out of (the expensive world of) being super blonde, and today is the first time I dip my toes into darker dye. It turns out great! It looks very natural and I love it. I tip $35. While I'm at the salon, I get my sister a hard-to-find purple conditioner ($25) for her very blonde hair. $252.65
3 p.m. — We take a super wet walk to the dog park. The dog gets to play with two other pups there! By the time we get back to the apartment, I have to peel off soaked jeans again and the dog is shivering, so we snuggle under a blanket and turn on the TV.
6 p.m. — Think about trying to go out to make up for last night, but it's still raining hard, so we decide to spend the night at home. Eat leftover Thai, play video games, and watch TV.
9 p.m. — G. braves the outside to walk to the market to get beers — I give him a rare $20 bill (I never have cash) for a six-pack for me and a bomber for him. He gives me $4 back. We watch a movie and then go to sleep. $16
Daily Total: $1,437.52

Day Seven

9 a.m. — G. gets coffees and donuts from Top Pot for breakfast. We take the doggo on a walk and then plan our meals for the week, which helps us keep track of how much we're spending on food and really limits the amount of food we waste. This week were going to make pizza, cilantro jalapeño chicken, and enchiladas.
12 p.m. — This is my week to pay for groceries. We walk to QFC to get chicken broth, pizza crust mix, juice, oatmeal, tomato sauce, pretzels, cilantro, cheddar and mozzarella cheese, tortillas, frozen mac and cheese, Clif Bars, onions, jalapeños, bread, potatoes, sour cream, potato chips, bell peppers, mushrooms, chicken thighs, ground beef, mouthwash, and a case of La Croix. We recently started using reusable mesh bags for our produce, which really cuts down our plastic usage. When we get back, I put the groceries away and eat a frozen mac and cheese for lunch. $95.70
1:30 p.m. — I decide to go to a coffee shop and do a little bit of work on my computer. I've been trying to go to new coffee shops outside of my usual routine, because it makes me feel like I'm constantly exploring the city and helps me feel like I'm not stuck in a rut. I stop in Dick Blick on the way for a notebook, ruler pencil, and eraser ($17.27) to sketch out and make notes on creative projects that have been sitting in my head and need to be put on paper. When I get to the coffee shop, I order a cappuccino ($5.40). The coffee is good and the shop is really cute, but the vibe feels like I'm an outsider in locals-only territory — not a feeling I super enjoy — especially as I'm trying to make a serious effort to feel more ingrained in my neighborhood. I've lived in Seattle for almost three years, but it's been a little hard to break into the social scene and people are weary of new transplants — even though it feels like most people I meet aren't from Seattle either. $22.67
4 p.m. — Go to the climbing gym. Making progress! Feeling good!
6 p.m. — Make pizza for dinner. I chop veggies while G. works on the crust he started earlier in the afternoon. He's on a mission to perfect a gluten-free pizza crust that we can both enjoy. Tonight's pizza turns out good! But we both agree that the crust last week was better, so we'll try that one again next time.
8 p.m. — I somehow get both of us motivated to do deep cleaning that has been on my list for a while. I clean the bathroom and the kitchen floors while G. deep cleans the fridge and the kitchen counters. I finally take a shower and do an AHA/BHA exfoliating mask before heading to bed at 11.
Daily Total: $118.37
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