Money Diaries logo

A Week In San Francisco, CA, On A $115,000 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 dollar.
Do you work in sexual health education? We want to hear from you! We are looking for Money Diaries from sexual health professionals and teachers and would love to read yours. Submit your diary here and send any questions you have to This is a paid opportunity.

Today: a senior business analyst who makes $115,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Glossier Cloud Paint.
Occupation: Senior Business Analyst
Industry: Technology
Age: 24
Location: San Francisco
Salary: $115,000
Net Worth: $85,000 (401(k): $20,000, roth IRA: $10,000, brokerage: $25,000, savings: $30,000)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $3,523.36
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,500 (I split an apartment with two roommates. I pay the least because I have the smallest room, and one of my roommates has the ensuite.)
Classpass: $15
Netflix: $5 (Split with college roommates.)
Spotify: $2.67 (Split with friends.)
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?
Yes, both my parents have graduate degrees, so there was always the expectation that I get at least an undergrad degree. I graduated from undergrad a few years ago and paid for it with a mix of scholarships and the bank of mom and dad.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't really talk about money when I was young, but when I was a junior in high school, we started talking about what college was going to cost. I also stopped getting an allowance around then, so I could practice earning and managing my money while I was still at home. My parents encouraged me to open up a credit card when I went to college and also added me as an authorized user on one of their cards so I could build credit faster.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job when I was a junior in high school working at a takeout restaurant. It was a pretty easy job, mostly involving taking and packing up orders. I only worked three hours a week because my parents still covered all of my expenses.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I never had to worry, because my parents were very protective. But I never really had anything new or fancy, since I have a large family. There were a lot of hand-me-downs, from clothes to textbooks to phones. I never had to worry about meals or about paying for school trips.
Do you worry about money now?
I don't really have short-term worries, but I do have long-term worries. I definitely worry a bit about living in San Francisco. So far, I really like it here, but everything is so expensive. I don't know if I could afford to be here in the long term, but I don't know what moving will look like for my life and career.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Probably 22, when I graduated from college. My parents went back to giving me an allowance when I went to college since they wanted me to focus on my studies and my interests, instead of having to work. After college, they made it very clear that I was expected to support myself, but I know that if something disastrous happened, they would help me out.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, in college I received an allowance of $500 a month for every school month (so not during winter and summer breaks). Then when I graduated, my grandparents gifted me $5,000, which I use as my emergency fund.

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up against my will, but cannot seem to get to sleep again. I do a quick scroll through Instagram and an hour later, get up to start my day with a bowl of Lucky Charms and the last of my milk. I read through SF and Bay Area articles as I eat. I recently moved to the Bay and am looking for lifestyle inspiration. Unfortunately, most of these articles were written pre-pandemic, which means the lifestyle is just not relevant anymore.
9:30 a.m. — I do my morning routine (brush teeth, rinse face, vitamin C, and moisturizer). I recently broke down and bought the Skinceuticals CE Ferulic and I have some regret. It is quite nice, but not $166 plus CA sales tax nice. I will be switching back to the Timeless serum after it's gone.
10 a.m. — Sit down to scroll through my phone again, and accidentally pass another hour. Realize I'm running late to meet a friend for brunch. I'm very disappointed in myself because I was looking forward to getting ready. I really enjoy the process of getting ready and like to take my time. Now, I speed slather on sunscreen, Boy Brow, and mascara. Running late also means that instead of walking to brunch, I have to call a car. $16.99
11:30 a.m. — The brunch place we planned to go to has a massive line. My friend, F., and I are not prepared to wait two hours, so we walk down the street and look for another place. Thankfully there are a lot of options in this area. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them have long lines. We finally find one with a reasonable wait. We eventually sit down to delicious egg benedicts and a much-needed catch-up. $36.22
2 p.m. — F. offers me a lift back to my apartment. I gratefully accept. When I get dropped off, I head to the Embarcadero for a walk and a farmer's market peruse. The market is winding down, so there's nothing good left. I am disappointed, but not surprised.
3:30 p.m. — When I get back to my apartment, I find that my roommate, J., has finally gotten up and has also made chocolate chip pancakes. She offers me one, and we catch up while we eat. Our third roommate, R., is in Europe right now (we are jealous but also worried), and we discuss the crazy story she texted last night. R. is much more extroverted than J. and me and the apartment is so much more fun when she's here.
5:30 p.m. — I am hungry again, so I microwave a bowl of leftover chicken soup until it's steamy. Then I add a packet of instant noodles and cover the bowl with a lid. This is one of my go-to quick meals. I eat an apple and dried mango slices for dessert. Then I remember I have a box of chocolate-covered almonds, so I eat those as I watch an episode of the new season of Queer Eye.
7:30 p.m. — J. asks if I need anything, as she's going to the small general store down the street. They have truly astronomical prices (we're talking double digits for a small box of blueberries), so I thank her and decline.
9:30 p.m. — I drink a small glass of bad wine and call a friend from college, D. She recently quit her job at a small start-up to move to a much larger tech company. We talk about working in tech and the surprise of paying taxes when you have company stock. After we hang up I accidentally fall asleep.
12:15 a.m. — I wake up from too long of a nap. I get up, shower, do my evening routine (brush teeth, wash with supermarket cleanser, put on Weleda Skin Food), and head to bed.
Daily Total: $53.21

Day Two

9 a.m. — Wake up. Chill in bed. Then, get up and make scrambled eggs with toast. Text J. to ask if she wants any, and as expected, there's no reply since she is asleep. My roommates and I were acquaintances in college and I would really like to get closer with them. Unfortunately, our schedules don't usually match up, so I don't see them that much.
11:30 a.m. — Do my morning routine, then spend the morning doing some mindless cleaning with old episodes of SVU playing in the background. We don't have a cleaning schedule in this apartment, but J. and I both tend to be really conscientious about it.
12:30 p.m. — I really, really don't want to cook, and also don't want to go to the supermarket. I decide that I will go to the supermarket, so that I can have food to eat this week, but as a treat, I will order ramen for lunch. I take myself to Trader Joe's and buy apples, bananas, oranges, Asian pears, a salad kit, baby carrots, rosé, chocolate heart cookies, matcha ice cream, chocolate peanut butter cups, frozen dumplings, frozen naan, frozen curry, frozen tamales, frozen risotto, and dryer bags. $76.68
1:45 p.m. — I get back and am very tired from hauling my groceries. I decide I want something heavier for lunch, so I order Japanese curry. $27.41
3:30 p.m. — D. and her boyfriend are in the city, so she asks if they can come over. I agree, and they come over. I am very excited to see that they've brought me a brown sugar boba. D.'s boyfriend leaves to run errands, and we sit in the living room chatting.
5 p.m. — J. emerges from her room. This is late, even for her. She went out last night for the first time in a while and it sounds like she had a great night. She grabs a bowl of cereal and heads back into her room.
5:45 p.m. — D.'s boyfriend gets back and asks if I'd like to get dinner with them. I decline because I feel like I'm always pestering D. and don't want to crowd them too much.
6 p.m. — I think about getting some more makeup since I will hopefully be leaving the house more. I browse Glossier's website because I don't want to buy anything too heavy/expensive. I chicken out on trying anything new and instead buy a replacement Boy Brow, and another Cloud Paint (Eve). $36.55
7 p.m. — I eat the rest of my chicken soup with a piece of naan, a small side salad made of kale, spinach, and rocket, topped with kewpie mayo. I eat chocolate heart cookies for dessert. I contemplate eating an edible gummy, but I don't like getting high on nights before work.
8:30 p.m. — I do my evening routine ridiculously early, then hop into bed with a book my mom recently recommended, called An American Marriage. It was on Oprah's reading list a while ago and it's absolutely riveting.
9:45 p.m. — I am pretty tired, so I decide to go to bed. Before I do, I quickly open my work laptop to check emails and messages. There are a bunch because I work with a number of workaholics. Nothing that can't be left until Monday, so I turn my laptop back off, and turn in.
Daily Total: $140.64

Day Three

7 a.m. — My alarm rings and I wake up and immediately get out of bed so I'm not tempted to snooze. I throw on a sweatshirt and some sweatpants and go to the kitchen to make a smoothie. I add a banana, some mixed greens, two scoops of protein, and frozen berries.
7:30 a.m. — I decide not to eat the smoothie so I can go work out. I'm back within half an hour because I'm really not feeling it. I take the smoothie from the fridge and settle down at my desk to read emails.
8:30 a.m. — I hop in the shower and then do my morning routine. I read the news while I wait for my 9 a.m. meeting to start.
12 p.m. — Done with back-to-back meetings! I fix a small snack plate (carrots, orange slices, and a few peanut butter cups) that I take back to my desk. It's not quite filling enough so I heat up a piece of naan.
1:30 p.m. — I make a bowl of pasta. I check my brokerage account as I wait for the water to bowl and then I cry because my portfolio is down so much. I can't decide whether to buy the dip or put money into savings to avoid further losses. I decide to not make a decision and also to not check my brokerage account for the rest of the week.
3 p.m. — It's a really slow day at work, so I call my grandparents. My siblings and I all try to call them during the week to make sure we all keep in touch. My grandpa mentions that my mother told my aunt that I would help my cousin look for an internship. I grind my teeth as she had failed to mention this to me.
3:40 p.m. — I call my mom, who has just gotten off work. She tells me she's driving home and to call her later.
4:15 p.m. — My manager pings me with an update about what we need to present at the department wide sync later this week. I grind my teeth again, as it's literally something I had brought up last week, and he had shot down. Now, I need to redo all of the analysis. He sends me a Word doc with an outline of the flow of the presentation. I push back on some of the content, since I know it will be a fight to get it done in time. He apologizes but says this is what we have to do. Thankfully, he offers to lend a hand.
4:45 p.m. — So much for my easy work day. I settle in for a long night of excel. I think about how nice it would be to be financially independent. I don't hate my job, but I do wish there wasn't so much pressure to throw my whole life into it.
8 p.m. — I have finished most of the analysis and decide to give myself a break. I cook half a bag of frozen dumplings and eat them straight from the pot. I check my phone and see a missed call from my mom, but I don't have time to call her back.
8:35 p.m. — I'm back at my desk with an apple and start reviewing the work I just did. I want to make sure there are no errors before I start putting the findings on a slide.
9:10 p.m. — My manager pings me again, and my heart sinks when I see the message. He's been proofreading the report that we're supposed to submit before the presentation and he wants to discuss something with me. We hop on a call and thankfully, he just wants to move some sections around, as opposed to adding more or different content. I really hate how last minute he leaves these discussions because it adds so much unnecessary stress.
10:30 p.m. — I finish reviewing the analysis, and have built drafts of the slides. I decide to order dessert (fancy sweet toast). $25.34
11:30 p.m. — Shower, brush teeth, do my evening routine, and fall into bed.
Daily Total: $25.34

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Decided to wake up later this morning. I roll out of bed and eat a bowl of Lucky Charms. Do my morning routine while listening to a Spotify made playlist. I feel very hyped as I head into my morning one-on-one with my manager.
9:05 a.m. — I always leave these meetings feeling very unsatisfied. My manager manages both my work and my professional development, and our one-on-ones are supposed to cover both, but we usually only have time for the former. I don't know how I'm supposed to communicate my professional goals to him if we're always talking about projects. I relieve some dissatisfaction by browsing r/antiwork and dreaming of forming a union at my company. It would never happen because I'm pretty sure everyone else is satisfied. And because my employer would probably union bust.
11:50 a.m. — Manager pings me and tells me he has good news. I am excited but wary. We hop on the phone and it turns out it is actually good news, potentially great news. We've been trying to hire a new person for our team for about six months. Last year, we went through a reorganization that moved two of our team members away, leaving us very understaffed. We've been looking for someone with the right mix of skills and we finally found them. They have some experience already, which is great and they can start immediately. I'm very excited about what this means for the team. I'll be mentoring and managing this person, so it's also a great opportunity for my professional development.
2 p.m. — I hop off a long call with a member of our finance team, who wants to discuss some of the forecasts we submitted for the product. He wants us to take another look at some specific segments, so I spend some time compiling the findings and then send them over to him.
3:445 p.m. — Finance guy calls me again and we walk through what I sent over. Then we have a little gossip session and he mentions that he heard there might be another reorganization. This is not entirely unexpected, as there's typically been about one reorganization a year. It's mostly because the company has undergone a lot of inorganic growth, so there's always the need to integrate the acquired companies.
5:30 p.m. — I finish up the slides I've been working on and send them to my manager to review. Then, I go to the gym.
6:15 p.m. — Come back after another terrible workout. I check my work laptop to see that manager is not online and hasn't reviewed the slide deck yet.
7 p.m. — I take a shower and do my skincare routine. Eat a microwaved tamale with some scrambled eggs. Follow it up with some chocolate-covered almonds and a banana.
8:30 p.m. — I check my work laptop and unfortunately my manager is online and has sent me back comments. Most are pretty minor, but some will require completely redoing the content and layout. I reply letting him know I've seen the comments, and tackle a few of the minor things. I really don't feel like doing more, so I put on some YouTube and do some yoga.
10:10 p.m. — J. texts me that she brought some free cookies back from the office. I go out of my room to take one. Both of our offices have voluntary attendance policies, but her office serves boxed lunches and good snacks, so she tends to go in much more than I do. We both complain about work for a bit and then she disappears into her room to do said work.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — I snoozed because I woke up feeling very sad and unmotivated. I really do not want to go to work. I eat matcha ice cream and chocolate heart cookies for breakfast.
9 a.m. — Thankfully no meetings this morning, so I get started on working through my manager's comments.
10:15 a.m. — I pick out lunch and schedule it to arrive right before the training we have. It's performance review season and this training goes over the process we have to go through to get promoted. It seems unnecessarily complex. $25.24
10:50 a.m. — My tacos arrive early, and I decide to eat them now. I then fix a snack plate (carrots, apple, and Asian pear slices) to eat during the training.
12 p.m. — Training ends and it was actually very interesting. They talked about merit raises as well as the promotion process and it sounds like everyone will be getting larger-than-expected raises this year.
2:30 p.m. — I take a break from work and decide to book an exercise class for later this evening. I book a hot yoga class at a studio down the road using my ClassPass credits. I text J. to see if she wants to join. She does, so I send her the link to the class.
5 p.m. — Wrap up edits and send the revised presentation to my manager.
6:15 p.m. — Walk to yoga with J. She gives me tips for how to handle performance reviews, as she just had hers in November.
7:45 p.m. — We get back from yoga and we are beat. Hot yoga in a mask is not easy, and I am very out of shape. J. has amazingly good balance and I was very impressed by how she managed to do every pose. I ask if she'd like to cook or order dinner together, but she has a bunch of leftovers she needs to eat. I decide to order ramen. $20.75
9 p.m. — I call my mom. We catch up, but I forget to mention the cousin thing.
11:15 p.m. — I check my work laptop right before going to bed. Manager is not online and has not replied. Go to sleep soundly.
Daily Total: $45.99

Day Six

7 a.m. — Get up and make a smoothie. I put it in a sippy cup and take it on a walk around the block.
8 a.m. — I set up at my desk and wait for my morning meetings to start. I break my resolve to not check my brokerage accounts. We are down. We are majorly down. I decide to buy the dip and transfer $1,000 from my checking to my brokerage to buy some shares of a total market ETF.
10:30 a.m. — Done with meetings. I get started on some of my recurring tasks, which have taken a back seat to the presentation. I also think about making weekend plans because I need to see people and get out of the house.
12:30 p.m. — Order tacos again, because the ones yesterday were so good. $25.24
1:15 p.m. — Manager emails me to set up some time for us to do a dry run of the presentation. He also asks if I have any business analyst work friends who can ask him a softball question. LOL. What work friends? I've barely met anyone from work. Zoom happy hours can only do so much.
4:30 p.m. — Manager and I finish doing a dry run of the presentation. I am very excited because this is the first time I'll be getting to present at the department-wide meeting. I'm only doing a few of the slides, but this is still an exciting opportunity. I tell him I do not have the hook up for softball questions and he decides to just cover the material during his voice-over. He also tells me I need to start putting together some introduction/training materials for when the newcomer joins in two weeks. We brainstorm a list of topics the trainings should cover and I block off some time to start the materials next week.
6 p.m. — I practice the presentation a bit more, then realize I've seriously neglected my recurring tasks. I spend some time getting what I can done, then decide to work on the rest tomorrow.
7:30 p.m. — I debate whether I want to cook or want to order food. Because I ordered tacos for lunch, I heat up a frozen curry and a piece of naan. I eat matcha ice cream for dessert, and then go downstairs to the mailroom to pick up my Glossier package. I also bring up a couple of packages for J.
8:10 p.m. — D. texts to ask if I want to go on a double date with her and her boyfriend, and one of his buddies. She sends a photo of him and he is not really my type. I agree though, since I could use the social interaction. D. suggests a comedy show, which I take her up on. She buys tickets, and I Venmo her my portion. $22
10 p.m. — Do my evening routine and head to bed. Stalk the blind date candidate on socials. He is cuter in other photos and seems very NorCal. We shall see how this goes. I do some online shopping. I barely bought any new clothes during the last two years. I take a look on Aritzia and see some pants on sale. I could wear these to dinner or to work, so I get them in camel. $115.04
Daily Total: $162.28

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I get up and I am so excited that it's Friday! I eat matcha ice cream and peanut butter cups for breakfast.
8 a.m. — I do my morning routine and then I put on a bit of makeup (old Boy Brow, new Cloud Paint), due to the presentation today. I'm kind of nervous, but also excited.
10:30 a.m. — The presentation goes well! We did get some probing questions but my manager fielded them very well. He pings me with a cute congratulatory note.
11 a.m. — I feel much more relaxed now and make a plan for the rest of the day on how I should tackle work. Since I'm planning, I also make a list of what I need to get done for the next week, and try to make sure I block out time to make training materials.
11:30 a.m. — Decide to eat a lunch of snacks before I start doing these tasks. I really procrastinate, but also suffer under the crushing weight of my very manageable tasks. D. calls me during lunch and tries to convince me that we should both get second jobs so we can double our salary. I am intrigued. Unfortunately, the conversation is cut short because we both have to go back to sending our stupid little emails.
5:30 p.m. — I do a very good, long, unbroken stretch of work, and basically finished everything on my list. I send an overview email to my manager and outline the tasks I plan to tackle next week as well as a fleshed out version of the training materials plan. Then I sign off and power down my laptop for the weekend.
6:15 p.m. — I go to the gym for a quick run. I only run for 15 minutes before coming back.
7 p.m. — Order a fancy dinner for myself, of filet mignon with mushroom and potatoes. I hop into the shower to wait for it. $53.38
8 p.m. — Food arrives, and I'm looking for a movie to watch while I eat it. J. asks if I want to watch Don't Look Up with her. I haven't seen it yet, so I'm happy to accept. Unfortunately, her food hasn't arrived yet, so I offer her some of my dinner. I'm secretly relieved when she declines. Halfway through the movie, we decide to order dessert. She has the UberEats monthly pass, which I should really get, so she places the order, and I Venmo her my half. $17.33
10:15 p.m. — I don't want to go to bed yet, but I've already watched a movie and am not sure what else to do. D. has disappeared into her room. I wonder if I should hit up another friend from college, but it feels weird. I remember that I haven't finished An American Marriage and hop into bed with it and a small glass of wine.
11:45 p.m. — Do my evening routine and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $70.71
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 behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series