A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $70,000 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 assistant director who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on window bars.
Occupation: Assistant Director
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 32
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $70,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $3,377.49 (after taxes)
Gender: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $824.50 ($1,649 total split evenly with my partner)
Student Loans: $302 (income-based repayment hopefully forgiven after 10 years)
Car Payment: $0 (partner covers)
Car Insurance: $0 (partner covers the cost)
Pension: 7% of my paycheck (pre-tax)
Health Insurance: $75 (my partner is on my health insurance and he pays me the $116 for his portion)
Donation to Alma Mater: $10
LA Water and Power: ~$50 (I cover it all)
Yoga Membership: $95 (unlimited)
Internet: $50 (I cover it all)
Cell Phone: $140 (I cover it all)
Campus Parking: $86
Netflix: $15
NY Magazine Online Subscription: $2

Day One

6 a.m. — My cat wakes me up for breakfast. We took in an eight-year-old Siamese last year. She's very loud, very demanding, and the love of my life. I feed her and then lock her out of my room to get one more hour of sleep. For some reason, even if she's been fed, she does not like me sleeping in so if I don't lock her out, I won't get my last hour.
7:10 a.m. — Exhausted as usual. I can never get enough sleep. I get up and open the bedroom door so the cat can yell at me while I get ready in the bathroom. I throw on some makeup (foundation, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, and some concealer for my chin zit).
8 a.m. — Out the door. On my 40 minute commute, I almost always talk on the phone (with headphones) to my friend who lives in Israel. Today's topics include coronavirus, wedding registries, anti-depressants, and his mom's boyfriend's obsession with opening doors out of chivalry.
8:45 a.m. — I go to the café in my building for some iced coffee with oat milk. In October, the university offered a special promotion where if you bought this specific travel mug ($19.19) you could get coffee and tea for only $0.19! Best purchase of the year. At my desk, I drink my coffee and eat my banana mini muffins that I was inspired to make from another Money Diary post. $0.19
12:15 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk. Leftover rice and vegetables. I go online to buy security bars for my window. I recently found out from my next-door neighbor that there has been a peeping tom leering outside our windows, and he's not just looking if you catch my drift. The whole thing is deeply unsettling, especially since I live on the ground floor and my landlord refuses to put bars up, even in light of this new development. I guess I have to take matters into my own hands. I only purchase one set for now, even though I need four because I want to make sure they function properly in my windows. $34.79
5:15 p.m. — Leave work early to race to yoga. My studio is close to my apartment and only five miles away from work, but it's still a struggle in LA traffic to make it there by 6:15. On the way I call my partner, B. He's a musician and travels regularly. He's been gone for about two weeks but he'll be back in LA tomorrow to end his tour with a show here. I get to the studio with a couple minutes to spare, so I run across the street to Trader Joes to buy two large bottles of Pellegrino which is my greatest indulgence in life. $3.92
7:15 — After yoga, I decide to treat myself with sushi for dinner. I order a salmon avocado roll and a tuna avocado roll ($21.80 with tip). I shower, brush the cat, read a bit of my book, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante, and it's lights out by 10:30. $21.80
Daily Total: $60.70

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — I wake up too late, slap on some makeup and rush to my 9 a.m. meeting where there is a light breakfast. I grab a croissant, fruit, and coffee.
10:30 a.m. — The meeting ends and I'm not feeling so great. I've got a killer headache, so I grab my laptop and decide to work from home for the rest of the day. On my way back, I stop at a sandwich place and grab one for me and one for B. ($22.80 with tip). He'll be stopping by the apartment before his soundcheck for tonight's show. I eat half my sandwich, take some Advil, and pass out for 40 minutes. $22.80
1:30 p.m. — B. comes home and the cat and I are thrilled to see him. He's been touring regularly for about seven years, so I'm pretty used to him being gone, but we still miss each other of course. He leaves for soundcheck around 3 and I finish up some work.
5:30 p.m. — I take a shower and a jar of conditioner falls on my toe! It really, truly hurts. The nail starts to bleed. I get out of the shower and can hardly walk. I ice it while brushing my cat. Dare I treat myself to more sushi to assuage the pain? I can't walk to my usual spot (I don't want to irritate my toe), so I order from the cheaper sushi place — a salmon avocado roll, spicy tuna roll, and a side of steamed rice. $21.01
7:30 p.m. — Time to head to the show. What does a woman over 30 with a mangled toe wear to see her boyfriend's band? At 15, this would have been an easier choice. I decide on black bell kick cropper flares that I got from Target six years ago (great purchase!), my favorite graphic tee from the goodwill (another great one!), and red patent leather cowboy boots I got on a flash sale from Free People (to protect my sad little toe). B. calls and tells me he forgot a tub of merch and asks me to bring it. I lug it with me to the Lyft ($17) and he meets me outside to unload it. $17
8:30 p.m. — A few of my friends come to the show and we hang out in the green room where they have free beer and wine. I decide I want a tequila soda (they don't have hard liquor backstage, as it's been a problem for a few band members in the past), so we go to the bar and B. buys me a Cazadores, soda, and lime juice.
11:45 p.m. — The show is packed and they played a great but long set. B. needs more time to pack up and I need to get to bed, so he orders me a Lyft and will get dropped off by the band after. I fall into bed after midnight, regretting the tequila and soda.
Daily Total: $60.81

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Late start to my morning. I throw on a dress and am out the door a little after 8. I do not feel well and my toe still smarts. I can't make it to work without coffee, so I forgo that sweet $.19 deal and stop at my local coffee shop for a large iced coffee with oat milk and a croissant. $6
12 p.m. — I rather unsurprisingly forgot the other half of my sandwich. But this afternoon we're having a big celebration for the whole fundraising staff for exceeding our campaign fundraising goal. I know there will be food there, so I just eat a banana at my desk.
2 p.m. — We head over to the celebration and there is a pretty nice spread. I eat some nopales tacos while chatting with coworkers before heading back to the office.
5:30 p.m. — Is there anything better than leaving work on Friday? On my way home, I stop at the grocery store to get a frozen pizza for dinner as well as some vitamins B. asked me to pick up, some more Pellegrino, berries, and bananas. We eat pizza and salad while catching up on all the Vanderpump Rules we missed while he was away. I usually wait until he's home to watch because it's more fun watching together. Lights out by 10:30. $25.68
Daily Total: $31.68

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Feeling rested and rejuvenated. We go to the coffee shop and get iced coffee and a bagel to split. At home, I make eggs to compliment the bagel. $12.90 with tip $12.90
11:15 a.m. — My friend, Q., picks me up and we head to the east side to canvas for Elizabeth Warren. I first started volunteering for campaigns in 2016 for Hillary. At the time, I was so certain she would win that I volunteered not out of necessity, but simply because I wanted to say "I helped elect the first woman president." Devastating. But that experience inspired me to get involved in the midterms to flip seats in surrounding congressional districts. Since I live in California, I'll be volunteering for congressional elections again instead of the presidential election once the nominee is chosen. But right now it's the primary and I feel the desire to stump for who I think will be the most amazing president we could ever hope to have.
1:30 p.m. — Q. says he's STARVING and can't possibly encourage more people to vote without taking a break to eat. We go to a burger spot and I order a turkey panini. We eat and knock on a few more doors before heading home to each take our respective naps. $11.63
5:30 p.m. — I wake up from an excellent nap and then read a little before getting ready for the night. My partner and I decide sushi sounds like a great idea. B. pays. After we head to Q.'s condo for a little leap day soiree he's having. I order a Lyft ($10). Q. says he has a bunch of leftover alcohol from another party earlier in the week, so he tells us just to bring ice ($4.37). $14.37
1 a.m. — We're having a jolly good time and then someone suggests we go to the bar down the street. Without much coaxing, I agree. I buy my partner and me Cazadores and soda ($30! With tip). This is why I don't go out. We Lyft home, he pays. I don't get to sleep until close to 3 a.m.! $30
Daily Total: $68.90

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — I feel surprisingly fine. Must have been all that water I chugged before bed. B. is not on the same page, so I offer to go get coffee and pastries. $12.60
1 p.m. — I do chores around the house for most of the morning and early afternoon. B. is hungry so he decides to get a burger which we split. He pays. Then we both snooze in the living room with our cat.
3:30 p.m. — I wake up and hope that I overslept for my yoga class. Alas, I still have an hour, so I decide to do myself a favor, get dressed, and drive over early so I can stop by Trader Joes before class instead of after. I get stuff to make pizza (dough, sauce, cheese, spinach, onion, and mushrooms) plus some Pellegrino, yogurt, and bananas. After I check out I realize we (1) had pizza on Friday and (2) I forgot salad stuff. Gonna have to put on extra spinach to add some nutritional value. $30.50
5:45 p.m. — Yoga is really crowded and really hard! But I'm thrilled I went. I feel undeservingly productive. I stop by the gas stations on my way home. B. makes the pizza and we spend the night watching Love is Blind. $35.66
Daily Total: $78.76

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — Here we go Monday. I have a dermatologist appointment this morning so I make some coffee at home and eat a banana. Traffic is so bad, I realize I'm going to be a couple of minutes late, so I call the office and they reschedule me for 2 p.m. today. When I arrive at work I get my $.19 coffee. $0.19
12 p.m. — We ate all that dang pizza yesterday so there are no leftovers for lunch. I'm totally incapable of bringing my lunch to work if it's not leftovers. I have no ability to make something special for lunch. I go to the Mexican place on campus and pick up a salad with shrimp for me and lunch for my coworkers but they'll pay me back. $11
1:30 p.m. — I walk to the dermatologist. I haven't seen one since high school but because my brother and dad have had skin cancer, I decided it is probably time to get a skin check. Additionally, I seem to always have at least one zit on my chin, a problem that has emerged in the last year. Turns out my moles look stellar but she prescribes a topical cream for my pimples. My copay is $20. $20
5:30 p.m. — I drive home and call one of my best friends from high school, N., who recently got engaged. We've both been with our respective significant others for around 10 years and I had her in the “never getting married” file alongside me. Needless to say, I was flabbergasted when they got engaged out of nowhere. We talk about the wedding — she wants something simple near where she lives. I'm truly thrilled for her. I recently read Jia Tolentino's book and she said she's been invited to 40-something weddings over the last decade. I decided to count how many weddings I've been invited to since graduating from college. 25 (including N.'s) — not as popular as Jia I see. I love going to weddings — even though I don't want one for myself — I just wish they were free for me and for the people getting married.
6:30 p.m. — B. makes balsamic honey salmon for dinner and veggies. We watch Love is Blind and talk about how it could be better if it was a Bravo show.
Daily Total: $31.19

Day Seven

7:20 a.m. — Super Tuesday! I wake up and head to work, get my coffee, and eat a whole-wheat English muffin at my desk while checking out the latest polls. $0.19
12 p.m. — I go to vote at the designated place on campus but the wait is two hours! I'm happy to know that so many people, including students, are voting this year. LA recently changed voting laws and now anyone can vote at any polling place. I was excited to not have to leave campus but I'm not waiting two hours. I hop in my car and drive to another voting center nearby to cast my ballot.
1: 30 — I'm back within an hour and eat a turkey sandwich and salad at my desk ($13). My friend's birthday is next weekend and I ask her what she wants as a present. She makes it easy and sends me a link to some moisturizer and I add some vitamin C serum to round out the gift ($54.48). $67.48
5:15 p.m. — I leave work to race to yoga. On the way, I call my mom and we talk about the election and who people her age would be willing to vote for (she's a Warren supporter, too). After we hang up, I listen to NPR and am surprised they've already declared North Carolina for Biden. I run across the street to Trader Joes for Pellegrinos and a banana before class. $4.33
6:45 p.m. — Wow so much has happened with the returns since I was in class. Even though CA polls haven't closed yet, Biden is already declaring victory all over the north and southeast. I'm sad that Warren didn't get more support and now it's probably time for her to drop out. It's hard to get invested in a candidate (and what a great one!) but I'll support whoever gets the nomination and vow to work for a democratic congress.
7 p.m. — B. almost always makes dinner when he's home from tour but tonight he's out with his bandmate for happy hour. He comes home and we order Mexican, I get some grilled shrimp tacos, B. pays. I swear we don't usually eat out this much! CA election results won't be in until tomorrow or later due to the number of vote by mail ballots. We watch Love is Blind and I'm asleep with my cat by 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $72
Editor's Note: This diary was written before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and current CDC guidelines about social distancing and travel restrictions were put into effect. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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