A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $55,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an associate working in communications who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on TIEM cycling shoes.
Occupation: Associate
Industry: Communications
Age: 23
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $55,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,307 (post-tax and after a post-tax Roth 401k contribution of $250)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,155 (English basement in a townhouse. Share the house with 3 roommates.)
Car Insurance: $124
Gas, Electric, Water: $75-$100
Internet + Cable: $17
CBS All Access: $6
NakedWines: $40
Canva: $12.95 (For some freelance social media work I do)
Health Insurance/Vision/Dental: Parents pay
Cell Phone: Parents pay
Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Sling: $0 (I use various other people's accounts)
Ally: $260
Betterment: $120 (Currently have ~$13,000 across Ally, Betterment, and a few single stocks)
Yearly Expenses:
Multiple Political Professional Association Memberships: $55
CA State Society Membership: $20
Sorority Alumnae Chapter Membership: $55
District Daybook and Tom Manatos Yearly Subscription: $50
Costco Membership: $60
Renter's Insurance: $130
Washingtonian Magazine: $18
Zone 6 Parking Permit: $35 (Parking at work is free and I do have parking at the back of my house, but I still appreciate the flexibility of the street parking permit.)

Day One

8:15 a.m. — Wake up and read a bit of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone before getting ready for a workout class. I am incapable of sleeping in on the weekends now.
9 a.m. — I head to my favorite studio for a spin class. The studio has both barre and spin classes, and I only recently started trying out the spin classes, but I really enjoy it! I do social media for the studio in exchange for unlimited classes. After class, I head to the library to pick up some books I have on hold. Snap a pic out front for my bookstagram and head back home.
12 p.m. — After showering and getting ready for the day, I eat my leftover Chipotle bowl from yesterday's lunch and watch Baby Ballroom on Netflix. Don't ask me why, I'm a sucker for Netflix's recommendation algorithm. I also paint my nails a nice burgundy shade.
1:30 p.m. — I have a friend, L., staying with me this weekend and she just got back from a hair appointment across town. When she walks in, I realize we're wearing nearly identical outfits — leopard print skirts and white T-shirts. After debating what to do for the rest of the afternoon, we decide to Uber over to my friend S.'s place ($4.64). We drink a couple of hard seltzers (unpopular opinion: Smirnoff Seltzers are better than White Claw) on her roof which has an amazing view of D.C., and then venture down to a street festival. Lots of hustle and bustle. After a few blocks, we stop for some apricot and raspberry schnapsicles at Stable DC, which are delicious ($7). My friend and I have a busy night ahead so we peel off from the group. We debate walking back to my place, but decide it's worth calling a Lyft because we're hot and tired. (Update: Wish we had walked. We were eaten alive by mosquitoes while waiting 10 minutes for the car.) Friend covers. $11.64
5 p.m. — We chug water and eat chips and salsa while winding down from our adventure. We decided to watch the first episode of Bodyguard before we have to head out again. So far, we're big fans. We both change (I keep the same skirt and add a black top and black booties) and retouch our makeup before heading down to the Wharf. We're going to see Bastille!
7 p.m. — We Lyft to the Wharf ($15.43) and stop at Tiki TNT for dinner. The decor is so much fun and I get a yummy drink called Wet Money that is flavored with passionfruit and saltwater. I also get chicken skewers and chips with guac ($35). $50.43
8:30 p.m. — Concert time! In the security line, I see three different people I know from school and/or past internships. D.C. is a small, small world. My friend and I head up to the second floor to watch Joywave. I love the Anthem — it's such a cool venue. To avoid the post-opener crowds, we head over to get a drink from the bar and down to the floor before the set is over. I saw them a few years ago and remember them being better. $9
11:45 p.m. — Bastille was amazing! L. and I also saw them when they came to the Anthem last December, which was wonderful, but I like tonight's performance slightly more because I just love the new album. The concert had some very cool graphics, and I loved that the setlist followed the timeline of the latest album. L. wants to try Milk Bar's Cereal Milk ice cream so we stop by there before heading home. I run into yet another person I know from a past summer internship while standing in line. We catch up on life and talk about how tonight's crowd was a bit annoying. I get people want to drink at concerts, but have the wherewithal to be mindful of the people around you. We walk closer to L'Enfant Plaza for better Uber prices. L. covers the Uber back.
12:45 a.m. — Face washed and teeth brushed. I call my mom to fill her in on my busy day. L. and I chat a bit about life before we both fall asleep.
Daily Total: $71.07

Day Two

7 a.m. — Up and at ‘em! L. lived in D.C. for two years before moving up to NY recently. She came back down for the concert, but a second motivation was that the Washington Monument finally reopened this week after three years of renovations. I straighten my hair and throw on a cheetah print dress and Vans. We Uber to the Monument to get in line for entry tickets (L. covers the ride). They only do day-of tickets, and the ticket window opens at 8:30. At 7:45, we're a hundred or so people back in line. Plus side of getting there that early — we see the Australian Prime Minister head in for a tour. D.C. is cool.
9:30 a.m. — We finally get to the ticket window. I decide to grab an extra ticket and invite my friend S. from yesterday. The earliest tickets available are for noon, so we figure we should find breakfast. For anyone who knows D.C. geography, you know that food sources near the Mall are limited so we start trekking downtown. We end up at the cafe at The Willard. I get cornflake-crusted french toast with chantilly cream and fresh berries. The meal is heavenly. L. kindly treats as a thank you for hosting her this weekend.
11 a.m. — We wander back over to the Mall and sit under a tree waiting for our entry time (after an extended effort to snap cute Monument pics for the gram). The other friend finds us just in time! We wait in line at the base of the Monument chatting with the Park Rangers. After a security check, we hop in the elevator and head up to the 500 feet platform. The views are gorgeous! We just wish the observation windows were larger.
1 p.m. — We're deciding what to do before L.'s 3:45 bus back to NY when I see on Insta stories that a friend from childhood is in the area with his dad. Turns out said friend just moved from our home state to Baltimore and his dad is visiting. We decide to meet up for lunch back near my neighborhood. RS. departs for the REACH festival at the Kennedy Center, and L. and I metro to Eastern Market (I load up with $20 whenever my balance is below $5) and find them at the flea market. Friend's dad treats us to coffee while they eat lunch, and we catch up on life. Friend's dad then leaves for the airport, and the three of us walk over to my place.
3 p.m. — We hang out for a bit talking before I drive both of them to Union station. L. for her bus to NY, and my other friend for his MARC back to Baltimore.
3:30 p.m. — I stop at Giant after dropping them off. I only intend to buy ingredients for my meal prep tonight, but there are few good deals, so I decide to stock up on a few more things and end up spending double what I was planning to (rosemary bread loaf, cake mix, lo mein, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, a few boxes of crackers, Oreos, Ledo's pizza sauce, black beans, a pack of tiny ginger ale cans, scallions, shallots, mint, basil, habaneros, salsa, apples, grapes, and mini peppers). $61.41
4:30 p.m. — I get home and put my groceries away. I guess now is a good time to tell you all that I live in the English basement of a townhouse and my basement is essentially a studio. I have tons of space, my own fridge/kitchenette, and my own bathroom. Three other girls live upstairs, and we share access to the main floor. I'm obsessed with my basement. I'll be content if I never have to move again.
6:30 p.m. — Meal prep time! I bought pork chops last week on super sale at Aldi and found a recipe to make chile garlic lo mein to go with them. Everything takes about an hour to make. The dish turns out amazing, if I don't say so myself. I'll have to add it into my rotation of recipes. I eat my dinner while watching a couple more episodes of Bodyguard. After, I do all the necessary cleanup and fill up four containers with food for lunch this week.
9 p.m. — This weekend was tiring (lots of walking and heat!) so I get ready for bed early. My bedtime routine includes brushing and flossing, washing my face with an Origins facial oil and following it up with a toner, and using the Origins Dark Circle Eraser eye cream, Shiseido Power Concentrate from a Sephora sample, and Neutrogena Hydro Boost Moisturizer. Tonight, before the last steps, I put on a Sephora pineapple face mask. I read a few chapters of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone before turning off the lights and falling asleep to a Headspace sleepcast (currently trying the 14-day free trial).
Daily Total: $61.41

Day Three

6:35 a.m. — Get up to my alarm and do the bare minimum to get ready. I touch up my hair and decide on a black shirt with wide-legged plaid pants from American Eagle and Steve Madden black loafers. I head out to my car, pull up Waze, and start the new Bad on Paper Bad on Politics episode.
7:30 a.m. — At work and start prepping clips. I wade through NetBase, Cision, and Google Alerts to pull together relevant social and traditional media updates for my client team. I send them around at 8:30 and heat up a biscuit and sausage breakfast sandwich I meal prepped a few weeks ago. I read POLITICO Playbook before my daily 9 a.m. team meeting.
12 p.m. — Spent the morning brainstorming social media ideas for internal use as well as inputting my weekend expenses into my September Variable Spending spreadsheet. I track my monthly spending, extra income (babysitting, pet-sitting, etc.), and fixed spending and then input totals into a yearly spreadsheet at the end of the month. I'm not strict with a budget, but I like to see how I net out each month and track my net wealth. I heat up my pork and noodles for lunch, cut up a plum from the kitchen, and have some Tate's mini cookies for dessert.
4:45 p.m. — I spent the afternoon deep in some research projects. I get off at 4:30 because of my early start time, but an urgent research request comes in. I decide to quickly head home so I can complete the task from my couch instead of my desk. After the 30 minute drive, I pop back online. For the next few hours, I delve into recent relevant news coverage to pull quotes. While doing this, I have HGTV on in the background and then talk to my mom for a bit. A neighbor also texts to ask if I can watch their dog next weekend while there away. I say yes right away - here for that extra cash!
8 p.m. — Huzzah! Close the laptop for now and grab a chicken skewer that my roommate kindly made for me. I have the chicken along with rosemary bread and chile olive oil. I flip on the TV to watch the season premiere of 911. I'm so hype for the fall TV season! After, I watch the series premiere of Prodigal Son. I. Am. Hooked. I call my mom to tell her she has to watch it (she's in CA so it will air three hours after me).
10:15 p.m. — I get ready for bed (see routine above) and fill up a glass of water. I respond to a few messages on Hinge. I took a few months off dating apps and am easing back into it. Keeping notifications turned off has been a good change. I then set my alarms and read a couple more chapters in my book before playing another sleepcast.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:35 a.m. — Up for the day and start getting ready. I decide on Gap jeans, a navy blouse from Banana Republic, white oxfords, and a white and gold watch.
7:40 a.m. — Left a bit later today than I wanted, so it's a good thing that relevant news coverage has declined since yesterday. I get the news clips out a few minutes after 8:30 and head to the kitchen to get water and heat up a slice of a pumpkin kringle I picked up from Trader Joe's.
10 a.m. — Morning meeting went well. I post in my company's general Slack channel requesting apple picking farm recommendations for the weekend. I get lots of great responses, so I decide to throw everything into a spreadsheet (sorted by location, entrance fee, main attractions, etc). I think my friends and I will go to Rock Hill Orchard this weekend. I dig into some social media strategy and continue to monitor my Google Alerts and Tweetdeck.
12:10 p.m. — Lunchtime! Head downstairs to eat lunch with a few coworkers. I heat up more leftovers and have strawberries. There are donuts left from a meeting so I snag one after I'm done eating. I read a Money Diary when I get back to my desk before following a Reddit AMA for a client. Time for another team meeting. I get some new assignments and spend the afternoon working on those, taking a break to chat with a coworker for a bit and uploading a post to my bookstagram. I love the bookstagram community — so close to 200 followers lol.
4:50 p.m. — I was pulled into another research project, but I need to leave if I want to make my spin class so I head out. I get to the studio with just enough time to change. Class is with an instructor I haven't tried before and it's a surprise Kanye v. Everyone Else class. I just started trying to go to classes more consistently (don't worry, I don't have my life that together).
7 p.m. — After class, I hop in the shower. When I get out, I decide to use the rest of my sample of the GlamGlow Super Mud mask. I put on lotion and use an Aveda damage repair cream on my damp hair. After I'm done pampering, I have Trader Joe's mini tacos (which I heat up in my air fryer) with chips and salsa and grapes for dinner while I watch yesterday's episode of Below Deck Mediterranean. Sad that it's almost the finale — big fan of this season's crew. I just love Aesha and Jack together!
10:30 p.m. — After the episode, I decide to read instead of watching more TV. At some point, I finish getting ready for bed and turn on a sleepcast. I'm asleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:50 a.m. — Okay, okay. I know I need to be up. My hair is looking a bit ridiculous, but I don't have any time to do anything about it, so half up, half down it is. I put on a white t-shirt, a cheetah print midi skirt from Target, white Vans, and my favorite watch. I get in my car, pull up Waze, and start the new Bad On Paper podcast episode, which is a book club on American Royals. I also pop on some under-the-eye patches for the drive because the bags are real.
10 a.m. — Sent out clips, caught up on my social media, and sat through our morning meeting. After, I heat up some Maple Streusel bread from Trader Joe's. Sadly, I'm disappointed — the Cinnamon Croissant Loaf is much better. While I was on Facebook earlier, I came across some great posts by one of my favorite 2020 congressional candidates, Young Kim, which reminds me it's nearly end of quarter, so I donate to her campaign. $10
12 p.m. — On my lunch break, I head over to Target to do a return and stock up on a few items. I obviously end up raiding the Halloween and clothing sections because that's just who I am as a person. Burgundy is my favorite color so literally everything is speaking to me. The Target app has 20% off clothing, shoes, and decor and I have an extra 5% coupon on top of my 5% off with the Red Card (I get some shirts, a sports bra, two pairs of leggings, a burgundy jumpsuit, a pair of boots, Halloween decor, baking supplies, shampoo, a serving tray, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting to list here). $141
8 p.m. — Guess who's still at work! Following an urgent request, I'm drafting an op-ed, a few LTEs, and a number of social posts.
9 p.m. — And I'm out of here. I call my mom on the drive home. I stop at &pizza on the way and get a build-your-own with spicy tomato sauce, pesto, roasted chickpeas, double pepperoni, arugula, garlic oil, and red chile flakes as well as a ginger berry lemonade. Because I was at work so late, I can expense this meal. ($14.67 expensed)
10 p.m. — After I get home and unload all of my Target purchases I decide to watch the pilot of All Rise to wind down from the day. It's decent. I'll watch the next couple episodes to see if it's worth sticking with. I do an abbreviated bedtime routine and read another chapter of my book. Lights out by 11:15.
Daily Total: $151

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Working on clips alone at the office. This morning I put some waves in my hair and dress up a bit (burgundy wrap midi skirt, button down white shirt, and black heels) because I have an event tonight. After sending clips, I heat up more of my pumpkin kringle. Our morning meeting is canceled so I spend some time uploading a new post to my bookstagram.
11 a.m. — I've spent the past couple of hours digging into an interest research request (if you haven't been able to tell, at least 75% of my job is being good at Googling things). I take a break and scroll through my social media. I place an order for the TIEM cycling shoes in merlot and cleats from REI, which is a bit cheaper than the product website. I gave myself a month of spin classes before deciding to invest in a pair. I pet sit for 15 days earlier this month and was paid $150. I reserved that money for this purchase, and it covers the price almost exactly. $153.70
5:15 p.m. — I head out for my event and drop by Bank of America on the way to deposit cash I've had lying around from babysitting and a focus group. I chat with my mom while I sit in traffic. I drop my car off at home and hop on the bus down to Sonoma. S. and I get there at the same time and I introduce her to a few folks. The event is an anniversary celebration for a women's political nonprofit I have been involved with for a few years. We enjoy the wine, cake, and appetizers. A congresswoman who supports the organization gives a quick inspirational speech. The crowd is starting to thin so S. and I bow out and walk over to Matchbox. We both have the DC Passport which is a super cool book that gets you BOGO drinks at a number of bars across the city. The BOGO option here is their Patio Pounder Lemonad,e which is house-infused watermelon vodka and lemonade and is delicious. S. covers this time, and I'll cover when we stop at Union Pub on Sunday.
9 p.m. — I call my mom on my walk home and we chat about weekend plans. When I get back, I watch yesterday's Modern Family episode, get ready for bed, and read a few chapters of The Wedding Date. Lights out!
Daily Total: $153.70

Day Seven

6:50 a.m. — It's a jeans and sweater kind of day (even though it's a high of 85 today, can't it just be fall??). I listen to the latest episode of the Bitch Work podcast on my way into work. Prep and send clips. Pull some data on social conversations. Prepare a backgrounder on a company. Take notes on our team meeting. The usual work stuff.
12 p.m. — I'm hype because it's Free Lunch Friday! We have Rasa today (build your own Indian bowls) and it's amazing. I chat with some of my coworkers. Our office lunch culture is great and very nice for an extrovert like myself. I get seconds and grab candy from the kitchen before heading upstairs to copy edit a few documents.
3 p.m. — This Friday afternoon is really dragging. I see an article about must-watch Hallmark fall movies and immediately call my dad to ask if we can add on Hallmark as a channel to our Sling for October-December. He agrees, and I Venmo him. I am already so excited thinking about all the cozy nights I'll have this fall watching ridiculously cheesy movies. $15
4:30 p.m. — Our office is having a happy hour before an outing to the Nationals game tonight. I snag a seltzer before driving back to DC for my spin class — it's a sing-along happy hour ride with my favorite instructor!
7 p.m. — I quickly head home after class and get ready to go to my friend's place. I drive over to Arlington and we get pizza for her birthday dinner. We spend a couple of hours catching up and watch the latest episode of Grey's Anatomy. Around midnight I drive home and fall asleep almost immediately because I have big weekend plans — barre class, birthday parties, and apple picking, oh my! $17
Daily Total: $32
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