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A Week In Seattle, WA On An $82,711 Salary

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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.

Today: a communications specialist who makes $82,711 per year and spends some of her money this week on gluten-free funfetti cake.
Occupation: Communications Specialist
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 28
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $82,711
Net Worth: Approx. $125,000 ($15,000 in an old 403(b), $20,000 in a Roth IRA, $21,000 in my current 403(b), $40,000 in an HYSA, $10,000 in I bonds, $13,000 in checking and my car is worth $6,000).
Debt: $0 (my car and student loans have been paid off).
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,045
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 (for my share of a three-bed/two-bath house. I have two roommates).
Car Insurance: $483/six months.
Health Insurance: $27.12 (deducted pre-tax).
Donations: $100 (taken out automatically).
Utilities: $75
MLB App: $1.99
Apple Storage: $0.99
Cell Phone: Say it with me now: “Thanks mom and dad.”

Annual Expenses
Trusted HouseSitters: $109 (I don't think I'll be renewing this next year but it covered essentially three months of rent for me over the winter, when my life was in major transition, so very worth it for that alone).
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?
Oh god, yes. I come from a long line of educators so going to college really felt like the only option after high school. I attended a small, private liberal arts school, paid for through a combination of generous financial aid from the school, work-study, independent scholarships and small loans. After I graduated, my parents were adamant about covering those loans and they were paid off a few years ago. I'm exceptionally grateful for my college experience and the privileges that made it possible but also increasingly find fault in the way we culturally prioritize higher education but refuse to change any structures to make it more equitable or accessible.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
There must have been some small conversation about money and savings when I started getting an allowance in first grade but I don't remember it particularly well. My mom taught me how to balance a checkbook in middle school, a skill I have used absolutely not at all. I've always been pretty frugal but wish I'd had more education around investing.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started pet-sitting when I was about 10 years old and continued to do that over the years, along with babysitting. In high school I was volunteering four days a week and my parents wanted me to keep prioritizing that versus a more traditional retail job so they would occasionally cover movie tickets, ice cream outings with friends etc.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Like a lot of kids in 2008, that time period was the start of my worrying about money. The combination of the recession and an ongoing lawsuit my family was part of led to a lot of internalized stress in my little brain, despite my parents' best efforts to hide it.
Do you worry about money now?
I'm actively working on my relationship with money. A few years ago, I took a substantial pay cut and moved across the country for my dream job. Living on my own on that level of income was challenging. My boyfriend at the time, who was freelancing exclusively, moved out to be with me. So I was supporting both of us on about $30,000 a year and stressed about money constantly. It's been a few years now but that worry still looms quite large.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I didn't have a job lined up after college and my parents let me live with them while I was freelancing and building up my career. I became financially responsible for myself when I moved out a few months later at the age of 21. I have a great relationship with my parents and they're in a relatively secure financial position right now so I know they would support me if things got dire.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No, but my parents frequently debate the merits of giving my sister and me money over the next few years vs waiting for us to inherit it after they're dead. Because my dad is in favor and my mom is opposed, this seems unlikely to happen in the near future.

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up and walk to yoga, listening to What Lies in the Woods by Kate Alice Marshall (courtesy of the Libby app). I moved about a month ago and have been taking advantage of new member trial promos at various fitness studios in the neighborhood.
8:45 a.m. — Walk home dripping sweat, shower, log on for work.
10:15 a.m. — Between meetings I make coffee in the French press and a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar, blueberries and collagen peptides. I have celiac disease, which means I'm gluten-free in a serious, high-maintenance way. I tend to make most of my food at home and when I do eat out, I'm willing to pay more for a safe, tasty experience.
12:45 p.m. — We're having a bit of a heat wave in Seattle and the warm weather combined with a rather barren fridge means I snack on strawberries and some toothsome gluten-free peanut butter pretzels, and call that lunch.
1 p.m. — Therapy! I cry a lot, which is not my usual MO. Our session ends, I sob for another 10 minutes, take a walk around the block to recalibrate and then return to work. Actually feeling your feelings is exhausting. I'll cover the $25 copay but the rest will be reimbursed by my insurance. $25
5 p.m. — Snack on a mix of dark chocolate chips, popcorn and a tangerine while wrapping up work. Drink half a Core Power protein shake for the gains (and because it tastes like a melted chocolate milkshake). Change out of WFH sloth clothes, grab my library books and walk to the light rail. With my wrap skirt, sneakers and book club tote I feel like a caricature of a woman. Work pays for our ORCA cards so nearly all public transit is free.
5:45 p.m. — Meet my friend at a thrift store in Capitol Hill, where I exercise tremendous restraint by not buying a pair of tie-dye overalls. We walk over to the opening of this gear collective/coffee shop/coworking space/social club (classic Seattle, right?) and on the way I drop off library books and pick up two new ones. We meet another friend at the event and have fun checking out the vendor booths and trying to fill out a bingo card. There's an in-person raffle at 8:15 but it's only 7 so we walk across the street to a wine bar and each have a glass of wine on the patio. $14.56
8:15 p.m. — Alas, none of us are victorious in the raffle. We say our goodbyes and I take the light rail home, finishing my audiobook on the way (highly recommend!).
9:20 p.m. — Start a load of laundry and pick at the Costco rotisserie chicken in the fridge like a feral animal. This guy I've been very casually seeing, J., texts about getting together Saturday if he can get off work early. I tell him sure and feel remarkably ambivalent about the whole thing. After an appropriate amount of procrastination, I finally change my sheets and brush my teeth. A few Christmases back, my sister gifted me a 10-page Google doc about skincare, makeup and hair care, then offered her services as a consultant for a trip to Sephora (not footing the bill though — she's a younger sister, please). So I have three different things she's told me to put on my face at night but am not entirely sure what they all are/what they do. I layer on a retinol night cream, a thicker white lotion and a cool, hydrating goo and crawl into bed. Crack open one of the new library books and use it as a nice holder for my phone while scrolling TikTok. Asleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $39.56

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — Wake up, apply sunscreen and head out for a walk. Start a new audiobook, All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham. I dislike the exploitative nature of true crime podcasts but love to listen to mystery/thriller books. Free, thanks to the magic of Libby.
8:45 a.m. — Make coffee and oats and settle in to work.
12 p.m. — Walk over to yoga during lunch. On the way home, I pick up gluten-free graham crackers and gluten-free potstickers. The gluten-free mark-up is obscene and these are a luxury I would never have allowed myself a few years ago. $14.87
1:30 p.m. — Back at my desk, tippety tapping away.
2:15 p.m. — Make a thoroughly half-assed but delicious chicken Caesar salad with leftover greens and more of the Costco chicken.
5 p.m. — Done with work and am in a little bit of a funk about boys, friends, my purpose in life etc. I clean up my room and walk over to the grocery store for three bags of ice for the bonfire my roommate is hosting. $8.67
7:15 p.m. — Our third roommate is out of town so my remaining roommate, N., and I clean up the yard and set out some snacks, then sit to eat our respective dinners in the kitchen (leftover pasta for her, more chicken Caesar for me). She and I have spent more time together recently and it's been so nice to get to know her better. She fills me in on all the salient details of the friends coming over — who's single, who's dated who, who wants to date who etc.
8:30 p.m. — Friends arrive and we get a beautiful fire going. I toast and eat many marshmallows.
12:15 a.m. — I wanted to go to sleep about an hour ago but am trying to be social. A friend needs a ride home with their bike so I, who has been nursing the same mango White Claw since 9, jump at the chance to make my exit.
1 a.m. — Back home, teeth brushed, face stuff on. Pass out immediately.
Daily Total: $23.54

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — Wake up, get dressed and gather up a snack bar, protein shake and coffee for the day. I leave the coffee on the counter but do not realize that until I'm already driving. I've had this standing volunteer gig every week for years and I treasure this time each week. I take a toll bridge on my way over there, charged to my GoodToGo pass. $2.40
3 p.m. — Toll bridge again! $2.85
3:30 p.m. — My Saturday morning volunteering is pretty specialized and outside of the city. Since I like having a volunteer commitment that's closer to where I actually live, and because I recently moved to a new neighborhood, I signed up for volunteer orientation at the local food bank. Orientation is quick and easy, and I schedule my first shift for the coming week.
4:15 p.m. — Walk over to Trader Joe's since I have a little time to kill, and buy salad greens, green goddess dressing, vanilla meringues, turkey jerky, organic raspberries, frozen rice and frozen gluten-free chicken nuggets. $50.32
5 p.m. — Drop the groceries off at home and drive over to my favorite consignment store, where I drop off a few bags and browse their racks. Exercise tremendous restraint by leaving behind a pair of dark blue, tie-dye Lululemon leggings and by walking past the bougie ice cream store next door.
5:30 p.m. — I make my way over to Green Lake and flop in the sun. I listen to the baseball game and people-watch luxuriously.
7:30 p.m. — The game ends so I pack up to head home. On the way, J. texts and says he's off work and asks if I want to go for a walk. I tell him I'm in desperate need of a shower but after that, yes. Shower, change and heat up some Trader Joe's chicken meatballs to tide me over. Celiac doesn't really lend itself to spontaneously eating out so I try to travel with snacks or eat at home before meeting people out. Bus over to meet him (free with ORCA card). We have a lovely walk and stop at a cute neighborhood spot on the way back. He gets a sandwich and paloma, I get a gin martini (he pays), we go back to his place and… (this is a Mamma Mia reference, iykyk).
11:15 p.m. — Bus home, brush my teeth, smear the same stuff on my face and fall asleep watching Just My Luck.
Daily Total: $55.57

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — Wake up, eat a tangerine and drive over to a local athleisure store with my roommate, where they're hosting a free Pilates class.
10 a.m. — Phew! Not too bad for a free workout. Another friend of mine met us there and the three of us walk over to a coffee shop after browsing around the store. $4.17 for drip coffee plus tip. $4.17
12:30 p.m. — My roommate leaves for a date and my friend and I do some window shopping before taking the light rail to check out the farmers' market.
1:15 p.m. — It's definitely still shoulder season at the market (who needs that many radishes?) but my favorite gluten-free bakery stand is open so I buy a bacon and cheddar scone and a slice of funfetti cake. $16.91
1:20 p.m. — My friend sees a friend of hers, who's running for city council, at a table by the market so we stop to say hi. I don't live in their district but want to support his campaign so I make a small donation. $25
1:30 p.m. — I hug my friend goodbye and take the light rail back home.
2:15 p.m. — At home and feeling a little antsy. I'm trying to improve on my ability to just settle in and rest but it's very much a work in progress so I empty the dishwasher and clean out and reorganize the fridge while listening to my audiobook. Afterward, I brew some decaf, eat half the slice of cake and another tangerine, and scribble a bit of a brain dump with my schedule for the week, a grocery list and some miscellaneous to-dos.
4 p.m. — I have friends coming into town this week and want to make a belated birthday treat for them so I head out to the store to pick up ingredients for strawberry macarons and some things I forgot at Trader Joe's yesterday. $50.02
4:45 p.m. — Get home, unpack the groceries, mix up a strawberry buttercream filling for the macarons and prep a few salads for the week with snap peas, carrots, cucumbers and the last of the rotisserie chicken. I've been texting about getting together with a friend I haven't seen in a few months and ask if she wants to come over tomorrow night to hang out in my kitchen and drink wine while I make macarons. She responds with an enthusiastic yes. I'm a big proponent of friend time like this, where conversation and time together happens in the midst of a passive but productive activity. Sit in the passenger seat while you run errands? Great. Flop on your bed while you pack for a trip? Sign me up. Hang at the counter while you meal prep? Lovely. It's also free and minimizes arbitrary social drinking.
6 p.m. — One of my best friends from college calls so I take a walk while she and I catch up.
7:30 p.m. — Assemble a fine feast of gluten-free dumplings, leftover snap peas and carrots, and the other half of the funfetti cake for dinner. I eat while reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, then get caught in a TikTok vortex.
9:30 p.m. — Clean up the kitchen, fold laundry, shower, brush my teeth and apply the various goos to my face in the order my sister dictates. I lay out yoga clothes and fall asleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $96.10

Day Five

7 a.m. — Wake up and walk to yoga.
8:45 a.m. — Home, shower, slosh some vitamin C serum and something from a blue tub on my face. Coffee, the usual oats and log on for work.
9:30 a.m. — Secure reservations for an oyster restaurant as part of an upcoming trip with friends. Reservations opened at 9 this morning and there were only three slots left by the time I went to check so I'm thrilled to have made it! This cost will cover two dozen oysters and our own cute little open-air hut by the water. My friends will eventually split this cost with me. $83.63
12:30 p.m. — I eat a meal-prepped salad for lunch.
4:45 p.m. — Hankering for a little extra movement today so I lace up my running shoes and get in four miles before my friend arrives.
6:15 p.m. — I heat up some chicken meatballs and am snacking on those and some snap peas when my friend texts that she's here. She sits at the counter and we catch up for a few hours while I make the macarons.
8:45 p.m. — Friend heads out and I assemble the macarons. My roommate comes in and we chat about the new season of Never Have I Ever.
10:30 p.m. — Brush my teeth, put out clothes for tomorrow, do face stuff and send an exceptionally attractive selfie to my sister to show her how diligent I've been about my skincare this week. I get in bed but am very much still awake so I watch Emma and eventually drift off around 11:30.
Daily Total: $83.63

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — Wake up and head out for a five-mile run. My two-week intro membership at the yoga studio is up but I'll probably invest in a full membership next week after the long weekend. For years I followed a lifting/running plan but in the wake of major life changes and emotional turmoil, I've found that I treasure an hour a day where someone will just tell me what to do.
7:15 a.m. — I pack up overnight oats, a tangerine, a turkey Chomp stick and one of the meal-prepped salads. I take a shower and attempt to get dressed. This is where my morning derails. I'm going to a concert tonight and won't have time to stop at home so I need an outfit that can go from office-appropriate to concert vibes, both sartorially and in terms of temperature. By the time I leave (black lace bodysuit under a semi-sheer, dark floral blouse, wide-leg jeans and boots), I'm late, grumpy and my room is in a state of total disarray. Speed walk to the light rail.
9:05 a.m. — Arrive at the office and make coffee in an attempt to repair my mood.
10:30 a.m. — Eat my oats, intermittently glower into the middle distance and continue clickety clacketing.
12 p.m. — My team has scheduled lunch with our donor engagement team so we all sit together on the patio and chat. It's perfectly pleasant but involves a lot of small talk and I'm a little resentful of not really getting a true break.
3:37 p.m. — Grumpily eat a tangerine at my desk.
4:45 p.m. — People always leave early when we're in the office so by the time I head out, the cubicles are deserted. Bus over to meet my friend, S., at a bougie Mexican spot and arrive just in time to order a round of happy hour blood orange margaritas and nachos. We stay for another round of drinks and he fills me in on the latest drama of his chaotic situationship. $43.05
6:15 p.m. — We have plenty of time before the concert starts so we decide to walk to the venue. As we walk, S. remarks that he hasn't ever been to my favorite fancy bar on the water so we stop in and each order a deliciously overpriced mezcal cocktail and enjoy the view. $22.43
8 p.m. — Concert time! S. gets a beer for himself and a mango White Claw for me, the latter of which we end up passing back and forth throughout the show. The band is great and I'm reminded of how much I love live music. I say goodbye to S. and make my way to the bus stop but upon checking the app see that the next one won't arrive for another 10 minutes. Since it's a nice night and I have a lot on my mind, I decide to walk the mile and a half home.
12:15 a.m. — Arrive home, wash my face, half-heartedly put one of the lotions and potions on my face because for some reason doing all three feels insurmountable, pile running clothes on my dresser and crawl into bed.
Daily Total: $65.48

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm despite having had an abysmal night of sleep. Run five comically slow miles, shower and get dressed. My stomach, which was in mild agony when I woke up, has not improved its attitude and the prospect of going into the office makes me want to bawl. This seems like an outsized response all around but then I consider yesterday morning's foul mood and the way I cried while listening to Tyler Childers on my walk home and realize my impending period may be a factor here. How I love being a woman!
8:30 a.m. — Give myself a small pep talk on the walk to the light rail, to nominal success, and head into work.
9 a.m. — Make bad office coffee and settle in for wall-to-wall meetings.
12 p.m. — Lunch is another prepped salad with the last of the rotisserie chicken (how long does this last? Maybe this is the true source of my intestinal distress?) while attending an “optional” lunch and learn.
1:45 p.m. — Chomp on a turkey Chomp stick and scowl out the window at the nearby high-rises. Oddly, this improves my mood more than anything else today. Either that or it's having just a few more hours left at my desk.
4:30 p.m. — Pack up and light rail out to meet one of my college best friends and her husband, who are visiting for a few days before attending a wedding out on the peninsula. It's a gorgeous day so she and I take a walk around Green Lake and then pick up teriyaki and meet her husband for a takeout picnic. They generously treat and we have a great time talking, laughing and generally catching up.
8:45 p.m. — I'm exhausted so I say goodbye and walk home. While brushing my teeth, I idly check my steps for the day — 14.2 miles! Not too shabby. Confession: I do nothing to my face tonight. I feel terribly guilty but also exceptionally tired. I collapse into bed, inexplicably force myself to stay awake to scroll TikTok for a little bit and fall asleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0
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