Money Diaries logo

A Week In San Francisco, CA, On A $150,000 USD Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last penny.

Today: a UX designer who makes $150,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Kirkland Signature oat milk.
Occupation: UX Designer
Industry: Tech
Age: 25
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $150,000 (I have a $110,000 base salary and the rest comes in stock and a bonus.)
Net Worth: $169,500 (Brokerage account: ~$110,000, Roth IRA: ~$24,000, 401(k): ~$10,000, emergency fund: $20,000, Acorns account: ~$2,500, buffer savings account: $3,000. This is the first year I've been able to contribute to a 401(k), so previously I was just saving in Roth IRA and brokerage. I also have a lot of unvested stock but I don't count that towards my net worth until it is vested.)
Debt: $0
Paycheque Amount (2x/month): $2,370
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,300 (for a three-bedroom, one-bathroom with two other roommates)
Utilities: $40
Renter's Insurance: $10
Internet: Reimbursed through my roommate's work.
Car Insurance: $97
Climbing Gym: $90
New York Times Subscription: $4
San Francisco Chronicle: $15
Phone: $0 (I get reimbursed $50 a month through work which I send to my dad for our family plan.)
Apple Storage: $1
Netflix, Hulu & HBO Max: $0 (I share with my family. I also give them access to my news subscriptions.)
Transit: $0 (My work puts $270 on a transit debit card each month. I use this to load my transit card.)
401(k): $1,620
Health, Dental & Vision: $20 (pre-tax)
Savings: $1,000
GiveWell Maximum Impact Fund: $99
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
100% yes. My mother was obsessed with where I went to college. I had an SAT tutor and a college counsellor. My private college tuition was entirely paid for my parents and extended family, for which I will be forever grateful.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I grew up very comfortably, atop what I now see as a mountain of financial privilege. We didn't talk a ton about money. My parents would talk about how certain things like restaurants, clothing, hotels, etc., were “too expensive for us,” but there was always money for things my parents deemed important like camps, sports, and educational opportunities.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was as a gymnastics coach. I did gymnastics growing up, and the owner of the gym just asked me if I wanted to work there. I took the job to have something to do during the summer and to have money to spend on things my parents wouldn't necessarily approve of like concert tickets and makeup.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not, at all.
Do you worry about money now?
No, I feel lucky to have been given such solid financial footing by my parents and even luckier knowing that I won't need to financially support them as they age. I make good money and I am proud of how much I have saved.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I moved out of the house at 22 and then became mainly responsible for myself, although my parents still paid some random bills like cell phone and car insurance for a while. I absolutely have a safety net in my parents and I know I could move back home for an extended period if need to.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. I received $23,000 combined from my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather when they passed away relatively close together. I was able to save that entirely and it has about doubled. This is included in the brokerage part of my net worth. A good chunk of my college tuition was paid for by my great aunt, although I wouldn't call that inheritance because she was alive at the time. My car was a college graduation gift from my parents. Additionally, my parents have already told me they have money set aside to help my brother and me buy homes because housing prices in the Bay Area are so insane. I imagine I will receive an inheritance when they die but I am hoping that is a long, long time for now.

Day One

6:20 a.m. — Alarm goes off, super early, because I am meeting my friends to run. I am not usually a morning exerciser but doing it with other people makes it bearable, plus I won't have time to work out later today. I brush my teeth, put in my contacts, apply sunscreen. Get dressed in the running clothes I laid out last night.
6:45 a.m. — I'm exactly on time to meet my friends for our run. We run about four miles, then stop at my favourite coffee shop for oat milk lattes. $6.50
8 a.m. — Walk home, shower, and do my skin-care and hair-care routines. I make scrambled eggs with cheese and a piece of sourdough with butter for breakfast.
9 a.m. — Start my workday. I have actions items from my one-on-one with my manager to complete and I think I can get them all done this morning.
10:30 a.m. — Get distracted and start looking at studios on Craigslist. One of my roommates is moving out in two months and I have no idea what I am going to do. I don't know if living on my own is worth the money or if I would get too lonely, but I dream of having my own bathroom.
12 p.m. — I have a grain bowl for lunch. It has a quinoa and rice blend, roasted Brussels sprouts, sautéed chickpeas, and lemon-tahini dressing. After I eat, I go out for my afternoon walk. I walk every day after lunch, which is a habit I started when I worked from an office and obviously continued through work from home. As I am leaving, I see my upstairs neighbour has left blueberry muffins on our steps. I eat one and put the other two inside for my roommates.
1 p.m. — I stop for oat milk from the corner store. They literally just sell single cartoons of Kirkland Signature from Costco, but that's alright with me. $3.50
2 p.m. — Do some more work, QA a feature that is set to release. I need to get designs approved by my director, but he doesn't have time until tomorrow. so I schedule a meeting with him then. My boss wants to review other things with me later today, but I have a doctor's appointment so that gets pushed as well. Looks like I'm done with my tasks for the day.
3 p.m. — Drive to my doctor's appointment across town. I have Keratoconus, a corneal eye disease, and I have been trying for so, so long to get contacts that actually work! After cross-linkings on both my eyes and two different doctors, they still can't get my right eye better than 20/40 vision. The appointment is entirely covered by insurance. I pay the parking meter and then head home. $0.75
5:30 p.m. — I have a date tonight so I do my makeup and change into a cute outfit. It's a second date, and I was kinda meh after the first one but I'm willing to give it another chance. I decided to take Muni instead of driving, the trip will be longer, but I want to drink and I'm not in the mood to find parking. I pay for it using my preloaded Clipper card.
9 p.m. — Get to the restaurant right on time! I actually like the guy more than the first time around. We get gin cocktails, poke tacos, a Caesar salad, and fish and chips. We split the bill, and I shouldn't be shocked considering all the drinks, but damn, this city is expensive. $88
9 p.m. — We finish dinner, and he offers to drive me home. I know we are super close to his place so I decline, do a quick kiss, and leave off into the night in an Uber. I recap the date with the Uber driver — he says it's a bad sign that two hours felt like a long time. Now I'm in my head about it and second-guessing whether or not I actually like him. $16.89
9:30 p.m. — Get home and see he texted me. I call my friend, H., to recap the date, and she calms me down and says everything is going great. After I get off the phone with her, I respond to the guy, write in my five-minute journal, do my nighttime skin care, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $115.64

Day Two

8 a.m. — Wake up, scroll on the phone. Realise I have an early morning meeting and get out of bed to do my morning routine.
12 p.m. — After a morning of meetings, I eat the last serving of the grain bowl at my desk. No time for a walk today.
1 p.m. — Video call with my therapist. I started this about three months ago, and the jury's still out on how much it helps, but I do find it fun to dig into my emotions and feelings with another person. Insurance covers $100, and I pay the other part. $90
3:30 p.m. — Attempt to leave for a laser hair removal session, but of course, my boss pings me right then. We do a quick 10-minute call, and I am only seven minutes late for my session.
3:50 p.m. — Get my chin, jawline, and neck lasered. I prepaid for the session but give a $10 tip. $10
5:30 p.m. — Finish up work for the day. I text my friends to see if anyone will rope climb with me, but they are all busy. I think about going bouldering but I decide to just go on a nice walk instead.
6 p.m. — I walk for about an hour. I spend the entire time on the phone with my friend from college who currently has COVID and therefore nothing to do.
7 p.m. — I come home and start making dinner, which is curry chickpeas. I eat it with warmed-up naan.
8 p.m. — Watch an episode of Yellowjackets with the roommates.
10:30 p.m. — After a solid hour of phone time, I finally do my nighttime routine, fill out my five-minute journal, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $100

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, do my five-minute journal.
8:15 a.m. — Finally, get out of bed and head to the bathroom for my morning routine of face wash, moisturiser with SPF, putting in contacts, and brushing my teeth.
8:45 a.m. — Make the same breakfast of a fried egg on toast. I go to unload the dishwasher and see that a glass broke and there's glass all over the bottom of the machine. My phone is going off non-stop with Slacks as I try to get the glass out.
9:20 a.m. — After just one small nick, my roommates and I have gotten all the glass out. I head to my desk to start responding to my missed messages.
11:30 a.m. — We finally release a feature that I have been working on for so long! I just stare at the usage graph as our customers click on the notification.
12:30 p.m. — My roommate, K., invites me to try a place near us for a weekday lunch, but I counteroffer with a midday run instead because it's gorgeous outside. She accepts and we run three miles.
1:45 p.m. — Head back to my desk and heat up another portion of curry chickpeas with naan.
4:30 p.m. — I'm helping my boss edit a doc when my director pings me. He drops a whole new project on my lap and then heavily insinuates that it needs to be done by the end of the day. I don't exactly know what to say but a) I'm not starting this project now and b) even if I did, it would take me hours to complete and c) whenever he has asked for a rush job on projects, he doesn't end up looking at it for days anyway. I'm feeling not good about our conversation, so I Slack him with an offer to do the work over the weekend so it's on his virtual desk by Monday morning. He responds by saying there's no need to do it over the weekend? I'm heavily confused.
5 p.m. — I finish up for the day and quickly head to the train. I am meeting my boss, one of my current coworkers, and two of my ex-coworkers for drinks. It's a belated birthday/impending fatherhood send-off for one of them, and I'm excited. I take the train and end up in uptown Oakland. We go to an outdoor beer garden.
6:20 p.m. — I order a cocktail slushie and bag of chips because I know better than to drink on an empty stomach, but I think we will get real food later. $10
7:30 p.m. — Order a beer for myself, another for a coworker, and a cocktail for the birthday boy/soon-to-be dad. Confusingly, no one seems to make any moves towards food. $22.72
9 p.m. — A coworker buys me a beer to pay me back, and now I fear it's too late to order something to eat. Drink my beer and head out.
10 p.m. — I head back on the train. I get home starving and demolish my last portion of curry chickpeas and naan. Do my bed routine and PTFO.
Daily Total: $32.72

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — Wake up ever so slightly hungover and chug water.
8:20 a.m. — Finally emerge from bed. I was going to run this morning but I feel like I have been doing a lot of cardio lately, so I do a yoga sculpt video instead. It kicks my ass because I basically do no strength work.
9:30 a.m. — My friend, T., arrives. It's beautiful out, so we go for a walk and stop for coffee. I get an iced latte. $6
10 a.m. — We get açaí bowls for breakfast. Mine is loaded up with nuts, granola, fruit, and honey. It really hits. $13.91
10:20 a.m. — After we eat, we go to a cute boutique. I have been trying to be more eco-friendly, so I buy a pack of reusable cotton rounds. $21.72
12 p.m. — Come back and take a shower. It's a long one, and I do a full shave in preparation for another date tonight. Afterward, I call my mom and scroll.
2 p.m. — I make a tuna sandwich for lunch. It feels too nice to stay inside, so I go to our backyard to read. We have a shared backyard, but it rarely gets used because to access it you have to go down a rickety spiral staircase and a creepy tunnel literally under our building. I'm reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. It's been on my bookcase for a while but I am just now getting around to reading it.
4:30 p.m. — Get ready to go on another date with the guy from before, and I guess he deserves an initial now: E. We are going to a rooftop bar to watch the sunset. I take the bus, using my Clipper card.
6 p.m. — The city always looks so good when the sun hits the towers downtown. We split a pitcher of margs and yucca fries. I still can't decide how into this guy I am. He pays.
7 p.m. — We leave and decide to get dinner somewhere else. We get chips, and I get a beer and chile relleno. He gets pork carnitas, another marg, and a beer. We split the check. $48.93
8 p.m. — We walk down the street, and he asks if I want to go to his apartment. I'm in the mood, so I say yes. He calls a car back to his place.
10 p.m. — We talk on the couch and then move to his bed. I'm cuddling and deciding whether or not I want to stay the night. I decide I would rather wake up in my own bed, so I call an Uber home. $15.36
11 p.m. — In my bed, I FaceTime my friends and recap the date. It's lights out by 11:30 p.m., which is honestly earlier than some weekdays.
Daily Total: $105.92

Day Five

8 a.m. — Wake up on the earlier side. I wanted to go hiking this morning, but no one else is free, so I take myself on a hike. I have eggs and coffee before I leave. One of my favourite parts about hiking is that you don't have to plan your meals around it like you do for running.
9 a.m. — I go on a gorgeous hike. During this time, I listen to two podcasts and call two friends. I get in line at a pastry place, but the line is long, and I don't wanna wait.
11:20 a.m. — Back from my hike, I eat a random assortment of foods including the last of a cheese block, a spoonful of peanut butter, and my last frozen naan. My exercise high wears off quickly, and I'm somehow lonely even though I spent all day with people yesterday? My extraversion knows no bounds.
1 p.m. — A friend texts me that she is going to do a Golden Gate Park walk. I obviously say yes.
2 p.m. — I meet my friend at the park, and she kindly brings me an iced chai. We walk all the way to the beach and discuss our dating lives and whether it's weird that E. Facebook-friended me. Essentially, all I have done today is walk. I take the train home.
3:30 p.m. — I stop at the bougie grocery store on the way home. I guess I semi-failed on my plan to buy more groceries, but I really have nothing left for breakfast. I get a carton of eggs and broccoli. I want to get English muffins but they don't have them in stock, so I guess I'll just have eggs for breakfast this week. $7.33
3:15 p.m. — I pop into the local hardware store to get trash bags because we are out. $8
4 p.m. — I make a Thai curry noodle dish for dinner. It's fine.
9 p.m. — Finally head home. I read Becoming and go to bed.
Daily Total: $15.33

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, do my five-minute journal, and then scroll on my phone for a while before getting up to get ready. Since the pandemic started, I hardly ever use an alarm, which is why I wake up at a different time every day. I'm not one to sleep in, so it works well.
9 a.m. — Make two eggs and coffee for breakfast and start working. I'm mainly working on the project that got dumped on me before the weekend. It's not super challenging, but it's tedious.
12 p.m. — Eat my mediocre Thai noodle bowl and then go for a walk. I get home, make myself a decaf coffee, and then eat half a random candy bar my roommate has left on the “up-for-grabs” section of our table. It's actually pretty good.
5:30 p.m. — End the day reviewing the project with my director. Then, I get ready to go climbing. I always try to eat a snack before I go, because top-roping takes a long time, and we go for hours. I have half a bag of trail mix.
6:15 p.m. — Drive to the climbing gym and see my friend's ex pulling up. All of the guys in our group are pretty tight, but I'm still kinda shocked he is here because he doesn't even climb.
7np.m. — I get a 5.11A I have been working on for a while but I am pretty much flailing at everything else. We end climbing, and I head to the pull-up machine. My goal is to be able to do one pull-up by the end of the year, but I'm pretty far away from that, so I do five on the assisted pull-up machine.
9:30 p.m. — We get burritos from a local spot. I don't have cash, so my friend pays, and I Venmo her. I get a carnitas super burrito. $10
10 p.m. — Get home and scroll on my phone until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $10

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Wake up after honestly a terrible night's sleep and realise I slept with my contacts in. Crap, the last time I did this I could barely look at a computer for hours.
8 a.m. — Keep the scrolling to a minimum and go the bathroom. I take a morning shower because I didn't shower after climbing last night and I hope this will reset my eyes and wash any contact gunk out. I put my contacts back in, and my eyes don't seem too irritated. Crisis averted.
9 a.m. — I just make a coffee today because I am still full from last night's burrito.
12 p.m. — Eat the last serving of Thai noodles and head for my walk. I make an iced latte when I get back.
5:30 p.m. — Finish work and pack. I'm going with my mom and brother to Palm Springs for five days. They are actually both already down there, so I will just fly down and meet them.
6 p.m. — I make Trader Joe's cauliflower gnocchi with Rao's marinara and TJ's turkey meatballs. I'll have the second half of this tomorrow for lunch and then fly out after work. I'm feeling very proud that I managed to eat up all my food. I freeze the rest of the Rao's sauce, because that stuff is pricey and, pasta sauce always goes bad so fast.
7 p.m. — Head over to bar trivia with my friends, my true passion. We switch off buying the happy hour pitchers, and my friend gets ours tonight.
9:30 p.m. — We end in sad fourth place, right outside the money. The music rounds always kill us. It don't mind because I play for the camaraderie and the love of the game.
10:30 p.m. — Do my bed routine and scroll a little before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behaviour.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series