A Week In Burbank, CA, On A $36,000 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 executive assistant working in entertainment who makes $36,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Nubian Heritage soap.
Occupation: Executive Assistant
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 23
Location: Burbank, CA
Salary: $36,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,055
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $950 (for a bedroom and shared bathroom in a 3-bed/2.5-bath, renting with two other roommates)
Cell Phone: $0 (on my parents' plan)
Utilities: ~$75 (gas, water, electric, internet)
Insurance (car and health): $0 (still on my parents' plan)
401(k): 6% of my salary, my company matches 6%
Netflix: $0 (I won three free years when I went to see The Ellen DeGeneres Show)
Hulu: $0 (on my sister's account)
Amazon Prime: $0 (on my Dad's account)
Tidal: $9.99
Probiotics: $31
Acne medication (every other month): $40
Savings: $100

Day One

6:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm via the Tide app. I started using it back in college because they had a calming pomodoro timer. Now they feature an alarm clock that allows you to fall asleep and wake up to the sounds of nature or peaceful music. I hate the aggressive sounds programmed on my iPhone.
7 a.m. — I'm finally out of bed and dressed in my black Nike Dri-Fit shorts and a black Roxy sports bra. My lower back has been sore, so I put on a 30-minute yoga YouTube video by Sarah Beth. I've never made a budget for a gym membership or fitness classes (frankly, I don't really like working out in front of other people anyways), knowing I can follow so many great videos online for free.
7:30 a.m. — My back feels so much better! I thank myself for taking time to heal, then hop in the shower. Showers feel amazing, but I'm conscious of my water use, so I normally am in and out pretty quick. I use Shea Moisture's African Black Soap and Mayfair Soap Foundry's Sea Lily Jasmine Sugar Scrub. When I'm all dry, I put a gel moisturizer on my face from Trader Joe's, Almond Body Butter from The Body Shop (I only buy this when I see it on sale at TJ Maxx or Marshalls), and Miu Miu perfume. Some Honest Beauty mascara and a NXY brow pencil are next, then I'm ready to get dressed.
7:50 a.m. — It's overcast this week, so I decide on black ankle skinny jeans from Abercrombie & Fitch (what can I say, they are the only place that has affordable jeans that fit my body type!), a white rayon T-shirt under a tweed J.O.A. tank, and an old black denim jacket from Volcom. Shoes are either the easiest to pick or the hardest. I decide on my trusty Adidas Stan Smiths.
8 a.m. — Off to work I go! The Daily podcast plays on my commute. Traffic is light to work, so I decide to stop by and grab a breakfast burrito at a spot my friends recommended. $8
8:35 a.m. — I have arrived at work and get a great parking space on the first floor! I finish a quarter of the breakfast burrito, and that is enough for me. I take my probiotics and make some matcha green tea to cap it off.
12 p.m. — A game-engine company is at our office today to do a panel about its role in the future of animation. It's really cool to see the boundaries they are pushing with technology, but in all honesty, I understood maybe every other word. The panel ends with a free box lunch that includes a sandwich, chips, and a cookie. It isn't great, but it's free.
4 p.m. — Every day around this time, I sit with my friend/work wife, T., for a break we like to call “tea time.” We sit in the courtyard while I snack on an apple and drink black tea.
6 p.m. — I hit up my good friend from high school, D., who is in town for the week, to see if she wants to catch up. We go to a new center in my hometown (an hour from where I live now) that has a ton of food options. The highly rated taqueria calls my name, but since I had a burrito this morning, I decide on handrolls, two salmon ones with different marinades, and some greens mixed with seaweed salad. We also grab some boba drinks and talk about our lives. D. and I were best friends in high school and throughout college, but she now goes to a university up north and I rarely see her anymore. It's so nice to catch up! $30
10 p.m. — I drop D. off at her place and stop by my parents' house. I say hi to everyone, play with my dog, and take some paper towels and toilet paper for my apartment. My dad buys the bulk packs at Costco, so he lets me take them as I please.
11:45 p.m. — Time to hit the hay! My night routine is pretty simple — I either wash my face with Pacifica Sea Foam cleanser or use a Simple Make-Up Cleansing Wipe and some water. After that, I put on my acne moisturizer from Curology, some Carmex balm, and I'm good to go. I fall asleep to the sounds of a rainstorm.
Daily Total: $38

Day Two

7:25 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and hop in the shower. I take a couple of minutes to pluck my eyebrows before filling them in and then add my mascara. Today I am wearing a denim skirt from Abercrombie & Fitch, a black T-shirt I got from work, my black denim jacket from Volcom, and my go-to Doc Marten Clemency boots.
8:20 a.m. — Work, here I come! I put on the Feminist Wellness podcast and switch between that and the traffic updates while I drive.
9:05 a.m. — I arrive safely and am ready for breakfast! The breakfast burrito from yesterday is still in the fridge, so I heat it up and chow down. When I get toward the bottom, it is 70% bacon so I stop eating it. I take my probiotics and make some matcha green tea.
12:30 p.m. — I was betting on eating that burrito another two times and didn't pack a lunch. Alas, this has left me to buy lunch, which I don't like doing, knowing I have prepped meals in my fridge. I take a nice stroll over to the cafe near the office and get an açai bowl with mixed fruit, almonds, and granola. When I get back to work, I add in chia seeds that I keep at my desk. $7
4:45 p.m. — T. and I don't have tea time today because I had a meeting, so I sit in the courtyard with my laptop, an apple, cassava chips, and a slice of bread. I know I won't be going home for a while after work, so I make sure I'm not starving while running errands.
6:45 p.m. — I'm early to my wax appointment, so I stop by TJ Maxx next door to see if there is any good soap. I'm hoping to score some from Nubian Heritage! They don't have any, but with my boyfriend in mind, I buy two kinds because one is floral-scented and I doubt he'll like that. A shea moisture raw butter bar and an Australian palm oil with plum bar are in my basket. I decide to buy them for safe keeping, but will check Sprouts later for Nubian Heritage soaps. $8
7:30 p.m. — Out of my wax appointment feeling good! They even gave me a coupon for a $39 wax on my next visit. I started getting Brazilians last year because my hair irritated my skin. My pain tolerance is pretty high, so it wasn't very hard for me to start. I feel like a real adult whenever I do this, because it's my hard-earned money going back into something for myself. The wax itself is $43, but I tip my wax lady as much as I can because I could never see myself doing her job. $51
8 p.m. — I'm starving and head home to eat dinner. I prepped salmon cakes with a dill sauce this week, so I eat that along with an arugula/spinach mixed salad. While getting my salad together, I FaceTime my parents. They are always so curious about what I'm eating for dinner, since I've only been living on my own for a little over a year.
9 p.m. — I have a pimple growing on my chin (damn hormones!), so I go to Target to buy blister bandages. My (online) dermatologist via Curology gave me a tip to use them on my acne, and it has changed my life! $4
9:45 p.m. — It's the middle of the week, which means I have to wash my hair! I normally wash it twice a week and use Batiste dry shampoo in between. I use OGX Biotin and Collagen shampoo and conditioner. Since I don't use it often, I save money by not having to restock these products. I then get in bed, chat with my boyfriend for an hour, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $70

Day Three

6:50 a.m. — I am up and dressed for yoga! It's been a hard week for me mentally, so I put on a Sarah Beth yoga video aimed at moves to settle anxiety and stress.
7:30 a.m. — I debate if I should shower since I did last night, but knowing I have a busy night ahead, I hop in and do my things. Today I've picked out a cotton black jumpsuit from Abercrombie & Fitch, a striped T-shirt to layer underneath, my loyal black (vegan) leather jacket from Obey, and my Stan Smiths. It's comfortable and cool, two of my priorities when getting dressed. I even have time to put accessories on, so I add simple gold stud earrings from a craft fair, a silver ear cuff, and a double-layered gold necklace from Bauble Bar that has my initials on it.
8:45 a.m. — On my way to work, I give in to my cravings and stop by Starbucks to buy a spinach and feta wrap. I also get a vanilla sweet cream cold brew. The tip jar for the baristas is empty, so I throw in a dollar to get it going for the day. $9
1 p.m. — T. and I have lunch in the courtyard. I eat a salad with the salmon cakes I prepped for the week. On our way back to our desks, we pass by an event that just ended and snag some leftover food for lunch tomorrow.
7:15 p.m. — I meet up with a woman I met online who wants to be my new roommate. My current one is moving out of state, so I've been trying to find the perfect candidate. She was super sweet and considerate! I think she would be a good fit.
9 p.m. — I eat a protein-style veggie burger and some sweet potato fries, all courtesy of the Trader Joe's freezer section. Frozen food saves my life, so I always like to buy some small portions here and there to keep when I'm too lazy to cook a meal.
10 p.m. — My room is a mess, but I know I should write/reflect and sleep soon, so I set a timer for 30 minutes and do as much cleaning as I can within that time. I've never done this before on chores, but it works pretty well and shows me how little time tidying up actually takes!
11:30 p.m. — I've done a good page of reflection, and I'm off to bed. Good night, world!
Daily Total: $9

Day Four

7:10 a.m. — Awake and ready for yoga! Since I'm a tad late, I only do yoga for 20 minutes. Sarah Beth guides me as always.
7:30 a.m. — I have a job interview, so I make sure to steam my clothes. My parents got me a steamer for Christmas one year; I thought it was so random at the time, but it has come in handy! I wear a black buttoned skirt, a matching black buttoned tank from Abercrombie & Fitch, and a white pocket blouse underneath for some good layering. It's cold, so I throw on a black cardigan and my Doc Martens for now and bring my interview shoes with me for later.
9 a.m. — It's doughnut day at the studio, and I've been craving a blueberry one. I get lucky and snag one of the last ones, but instantly regret eating it. My body feels sad, so I try to make up for it with getting a veggie-packed breakfast burrito from our on-site cafe. $4
9:30 a.m. — I remember that tickets for an old anime film screening go on sale today, so I snag them now before the good seats are taken. The screening isn't for another month or so, but these types of screenings sell out easily! Two middle, back-row seats are ours! $25
12 p.m. — I eat lunch (salmon cakes and salad) at my desk to get some alone time before my interview. I'm not nervous, but I always need some time to make sure my body is calm.
4 p.m. — My interview went over 30 minutes, which I think is a good sign! I thought it went pretty well, and I am confident in how I did.
5:30 p.m. — We're supposed to meet some work friends at a lounge soon, but I heard they don't have good food, so T. and I finish up that veggie breakfast burrito I bought this morning to hold us over.
6:15 p.m. — We get to the lounge, which is on the top floor of a Holiday Inn. Very unassuming, but the lounge is pretty nice! I don't drink, though, because I'm meeting my boyfriend, E., later to make dinner. I chat and mingle for some time.
7:45 p.m. — I head over to Sprouts to buy ingredients for dinner. Every Friday, E. and I make dinner, not only because it's fun, but it saves money. But he's running late today, so I go ahead and grocery shop on my own before he gets to my place. Brussel sprouts, a carrot, spinach and arugula mix, and two C2O Coconut waters. I also pick up that Nubian Heritage Honey and Black Seed soap I've been wanting! I make a note to return the other ones to TJ Maxx. $25
8:30 p.m. — Finally home. My apartment has been under construction for the past month, and my roommate has had to sleep in the living room/kitchen area (open concept space). Now I find her dead asleep on her mattress in the living room. I panic because I don't want to wake her up.
9:10 p.m. — In the end, E. and I wind up at a Chipotle-style restaurant, but with Mediterranean food. I get a mini pita with roasted veggies and lots of tzatziki, and D. gets a falafel salad. I pay because I feel bad that we had to go out. $22
12 a.m. — D. and I catch up about our week, and I end up falling asleep before him. He is playing music at a block party tomorrow, so he stays up to practice.
Daily Total: $76

Day Five

9 a.m. — We have a scheduled carpet installation happening this morning, and one of the workers accidentally opens my door, so I'm just awake now. They start hammering away, and it gets pretty loud.
10 a.m. — E. and I are both finally out of bed and fully awake. We head to take a shower, and I do my regular routine. It's going to be hot later today, so I go for a black knit T-shirt from A&F, a black denim miniskirt from Urban Outfitters, an olive-green windbreaker from Global Works, and my Stan Smiths.
11:30 a.m. — We eat overnight oats that I prepped for breakfast and bake some hash brown patties from Trader Joe's. I 100% always have to have some kind of breakfast potato (or any potato) in my freezer.
2:15 p.m. — While we wait for E.'s set to start, we grab a bite to eat with a few of his friends at the restaurant that is hosting the block party. I get a crispy Brussels sprouts salad and house chips served with a dill pickle dip. Both are very delicious! When we get the check for the table, E. gives me his card to charge our plates, but one of his friends ends up picking up the tab for all of us.
3:30 p.m. — Sound check is done and E. is on! I love getting to see him do what he loves.
7:30 p.m. — We call it a day from the block party, as it was hot, there were lots of drinks, and we're getting hungry. We get some ramen before heading home. E. pays.
9 p.m. — I guess we didn't drink enough, so E. and I get a six-pack of Asahi and one can of coconut rye stout at the mini mart across the street from my apartment. He normally pays for alcohol because I don't drink that much. We hang out the rest of the night, and I fall asleep around 1.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

9 a.m. — E.'s alarm wakes us up (I got him to use the Tide app, too!). He works on Sundays, and I normally like to run my errands, so we shower and get ready for the day like normal. I wear some comfy ripped high-waisted jeans from A&F and the same T-shirt from yesterday. E. heads out, and it's always hard saying goodbye since we don't see each other too often. When he leaves, I eat some overnight oats and do the dishes.
12 p.m. — I've been doing chores since the morning, so I eat lunch and catch up on Superstore via Hulu (that season 4 finale had me in tears). Then I do some yoga and take a quick nap.
3:30 p.m. — I drive down to my parents' house to help my sister with her business. She works from home, and I try to help her with inventory on Sundays.
4:30 p.m. — Before we get work done, though, I get my mom and sister to come with me to TJ Maxx so I can return the soaps and buy a new measuring cup. Mine broke this morning while I was trying to wash it. (I'm not strong, it's just plastic). I end up leaving with not only a measuring cup but a basket, bamboo utensils for cooking, and a two-tiered rack to organize my things under the bathroom sink. With the exchange, I spend $15. $15
9 p.m. — My mom, sister, and I get a lot of work done in terms of inventory, but we're starving. We grab my dad and head over to happy hour at a local sushi spot. I order takoyaki, sashimi salad, yellow tail, eel, salmon sushi, and veggie tempura for myself (the prices were so low!), and I miraculously eat most of it. My sister had good sales this week, so she picks up the bill for all of us.
10:30 p.m. — I'm tired and full, so I head back home for the night!
Daily Total: $15

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — A soft melody plays, and I get up with no issues today. I take a nice shower and do my things. Today I put on my black denim dress from Calvin Klein with my Stan Smiths. I'm out the door by 8:20.
12 p.m. — Today T. and I are having lunch with a friend at the studio. She works in a different part of the building, so it's nice to catch up! I end up having to buy lunch, though, and go to the same cafe as last week. I get a portobello panini with a side salad. $9
7 p.m. — I stop by Vons on the way home to pick up some groceries. There is some celery and carrots left in my fridge that I don't want to waste, so during work I looked up a minestrone soup recipe and decide that would be my task for the night. $15
8:30 p.m. — This soup is turning out great! It smells good, so I hope it actually tastes good. I get hungry before it's ready and eat some rice and seaweed that I had ready.
11 p.m. — I'm exhausted after cooking and cleaning, but got some journaling in. It is difficult tonight because my brain is already shutting down, but I try to use it as an outlet daily. I hop into bed and knock out so quick.
Daily Total: $24
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