A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $46,500 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: a government employee working in communications who makes $46,500 per year and spends some of her money this week on Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Occupation: Communications
Industry: Government
Age: 22
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $46,500
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,216.43
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $950
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I got a great merit scholarship from my college, and my parents started saving before I was born.)
Internet: $18.70
Gas & Electricity: $25-$30
Spotify Premium: $9.99
Car Insurance: $176 (I just negotiated this down $11, so that's something.)
ClassPass: $12
Retirement: $420 pre-tax
Investment Account: $20
Savings: I put $210 in my "Real Adult Savings" account and $90 in my "For the Fun Stuff" account. I also have a $6,000 emergency fund.
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Day One

7 a.m. — Almost the weekend! I get up after scrolling through my social media and the news for a few minutes. Ask Alexa what the weather is, pick out a warm outfit, and get ready for work.
7:45 a.m. — My commute is roughly 30 miles and normally takes 45 minutes. I listen to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts: Women Rule by POLITICO.
8:30 a.m. — Get into the office and heat up some frozen French toast sticks from Costco I keep in our work fridge. I plan out our social media posts for the day, get approval from my boss, and schedule them.
11 a.m. — I decide to have an early lunch and eat my leftover Chipotle bowl from yesterday. Brown rice, double black beans, chicken, and double pico de gallo.
3 p.m. — I eat a Chia Squeeze pouch and some candy from my office snack stash.
5:20 p.m. — Leave the office and chat with my mom on the way home. We talk nearly every day, normally on my drives home. I honestly don't know how we always have so much to talk about, but we do. I go to the Chick-fil-A drive-through because it's the last day to use my free sandwich Cow Calendar reward! I also get fries and a gallon of diet lemonade. $13.76
6:15 p.m. — I get home to a text from a downstairs neighbor asking for help setting up her tree. I drop my stuff off and head down to help her. We set it up and it looks amazing! I don't have a tree because it literally would not fit in my apartment, and I would have nowhere to store it, but I make up for it with the sheer amount of holiday decor that I have accumulated over the past five years. My neighbor offers me a slice of pizza, which I gladly accept, and we chat for awhile.
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7 p.m. — I feel terrible because I'm supposed to meet friends at 7 on the other side of town for ZooLights. Calling the Uber now…and I get to the National Zoo 30 minutes later. The lights are underwhelming, but it's fun to hang out with these new friends! $14.14
8:20 p.m. — My friend drives us to her apartment for cider and hot chocolate. We stop at Giant, and I grab a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade. $8.61
11 p.m. — Another friend texts asking me to come hang out at a bar, but I decide to call it a night and walk home. I light a candle and read a bit of From the Corner of the Oval (highly recommend!) before going to bed.
Daily Total: $36.51

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — This is my first Saturday in a long time that I can sleep in, but I'm startled awake by a phone call from a coworker. President George H.W. Bush passed away during the night. It's such sad news. After reading a long article about his life and legacy, I switch into work mode and spend the next several hours addressing his passing.
10 a.m. — Take a break to heat up a cinnamon roll I baked earlier in the week.
12 p.m. — Work is done for now, but I need to continue to monitor the news. I finish bingeing the rest of of Madam Secretary on Netflix. Amazing show. For lunch, I heat up some chicken flautas from Costco.
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3 p.m. — My landlord pops in to show someone my apartment. Great, I'm still in my pajamas. My lease is up soon, and I'm planning to move to a bigger apartment. So far the apartment search process has not produced anything fruitful, though, so we shall see.
6:30 p.m. — My friend and I decide to do a cozy night in with cheesy Christmas movies at her place! I pick up a pizza for us to split. She's getting the wine and the cookies! $16.31
7 p.m. — We end up watching Christmas Wedding Planner and Christmas with a View. Both of them are hysterical.
10:30 p.m. — I head home. It was a great night catching up with her! I do some quick picking up around the apartment and fall asleep pretty quickly after going to bed.
Daily Total: $16.31

Day Three

6 a.m. — Rise and shine. It's my week to prep news clips. For those unfamiliar, news clips are an aggregation of all relevant news to your office, principal, region, etc. This aspect of my job has really turned me into a morning person and keeps me very in the loop on current events.
3 p.m. — I pay my credit card bills that are due in a couple days. I have three cards that I use for different purchases to maximize rewards, all of which I pay off in full every month. Yikes — last November was a spendy month.
4 p.m. — I order a couple of Christmas presents for some friends and family. I love being able to find the perfect gift for each person — no gift cards from me! $100
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6 p.m. — It's my sorority alum group's holiday party. I'm running a little late, so I drive over rather than walk like I normally would. Getting involved with this group has really made my move to D.C. easier. The whole making friends as an adult thing is actually really hard. I know it's cheesy, but sororities really are for life. I leave the event with a full chicken, so now I have meals for the week — score.
Daily Total: $100

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — Get up to prep and send news clips.
7:30 a.m. — Have to get a press release out early today, so I have to delay getting ready. I skip the makeup and hit the road around 8:15, about 30 minutes later than normal. Today, I listen to an episode of How I Built This with the founder of Drybar.
11 a.m. — I spend the morning prepping social media content, editing letters, and making my to-do list for the week. I eat some Pringles and drink a Starbucks Refresher. I bought the 60-count box from Costco when it was on sale for $8 — best decision ever.
1:45 p.m. — I'm leaving early today because a former professor asked me to come speak to his Media and PR class, and I am thrilled to go back to my alma mater. I'm only a year out of college, so this makes me feel important, haha! Unfortunately, I forgot to fill up on gas this morning, so I have stop at a gas station that is slightly more expensive. $19.60
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5:20 p.m. — I had a great time talking to the class about my job and postgrad life, and it was great to see my professor again. I'm meet one of my good friends from college for dinner. We go to a Chipotle-esque noodle place that I've been craving since I moved away. We have an amazing time catching up. $9.61
6:15 p.m. — I meet up with one of my other friends who is a senior at my alma mater now. We catch up on life and talk about his job prospects. He wants to work in a similar field to me. It would be great to have more friends in the city!
7 p.m. — I head home and call my mom on the way. Today, we talk about her plans for renovating our house and what we can do when I'm home for Christmas.
8:15 p.m. — When I get home, there are contractors working on my dryer. I love that this apartment has an in-unit washer and dryer, but the dryer has been wonky for months. Glad it's finally being fixed. I hole up in my room and catch up on 9-1-1, Single Parents, and Modern Family.
10:30 p.m. — Do a quick clean of my room, light a candle, and put on a face mask. I read a chapter of Money Diaries before going to bed.
Daily Total: $29.21

Day Five

5:45 a.m. — Up to prep and send clips! My coworker is picking me up today because we're going to a concert near his apartment tonight, and he's notoriously late, so I sleep for another 30 minutes after sending the clips.
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7:30 a.m. — Up for real this time. Pick an outfit, grab some stuff for tonight, and do some quick makeup. On most days, I just use my MAC Mineralize powder, Benefit Rockateur blush, Benefit Gimme Brow, and Max Factor mascara.
8:15 a.m. — My coworker picks me up and we head into work. We started around the same time and have become good friends.
12 p.m. — Who knows where the morning went. I grab lunch from a newly discovered burger and hot dog place. I get a burger with grilled onions, Old Bay fries, and a Jones Berry Lemonade. $13.10
3 p.m. — I spend the afternoon monitoring social and working on a few video concepts. I also make a couple of graphics for social.
5:45 p.m. — My coworker and I head out to get ready for the concert at his place. I have a packet of ramen from his cupboard.
8 p.m. — We meet up with our other friend and are so hyped for the concert. We went to see Louis The Child a couple weeks back, so it's a like a concert buddies reunion. It's a full set sponsored by the local radio station — tickets were only $55! We miss the first two acts, but Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness and Bastille were freaking amazing. If you ever have the opportunity to see them live, do it. We pregame a little bit and buy a couple drinks at the show. And we get a $5 off coupon when we arrive! $31.16
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11 p.m. — My coworker and I go back to his apartment and hang out with his roommates for a little bit.
1 a.m. — I Uber home and head to bed, but I'm only going to get a couple hours of sleep. $9.04
Daily Total: $53.30

Day Six

3 a.m. — I wake up and prep clips.
3:45 a.m. — Uber to the Capitol. President H.W. Bush is lying in state until 7 a.m. today before his funeral service, and I want to pay my respects to one of the most compassionate and service-driven leaders our country has seen. $6.47
4:45 a.m. — I've finally gotten through the outdoors portion of the line, which is nice because it's definitely near freezing right now.
5:30 a.m. — After another 45 minutes waiting in the Capitol, I enter the rotunda. It is a powerful moment that I will never forget. I write a message to the Bush family and then decide to walk the 20 minutes home instead of calling an Uber.
6 a.m. — Get home just in time to prep news clips. It's a national day of mourning, so I'm working from home today instead of heading to the office. After sending clips at 7, I sleep for two hours.
9 a.m. — Wake up and terribly wish I could go back to sleep, but alas, I can't. I spend the morning working on language and graphics for social media content and some press releases. I have an everything bagel with Kerrygold butter for breakfast.
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12 p.m. — Run out of the apartment to grab lunch at one of my favorite spots, Farmbird. I get the Spicy Fresno — brown rice, crispy shallots, grilled chicken, fresno sauce, and avocado. $9.70
3:45 p.m. — I straighten my hair in preparation for tonight. It's holiday party season!
5 p.m. — I go for a more glam look with my makeup today — MAC powder, Give Me Brow and Boy Brow to shape my brows, Rockateur blush, Nars highlight, a light silver smokey eye with my Naked palette. Then I set everything with an Urban Decay setting spray and finish with a double coat of mascara. I'm wearing this great black and silver jumpsuit I picked up from Target a couple of weeks ago and Western-inspired heels from ASOS. I grab my Kate Spade bag that I got at Marshalls, put on a MAC matte lipstick in the Bronx shade, and run out the door to the metro.
5.40 p.m. — I regret the shoes. It's 34 degrees out and my toes are numb. On the plus side, the metro has perfect timing today! (It costs me $2.25 on a card I filled up a few weeks ago.)
6:05 p.m. — Meet up with my friend to go to the first party of the night. It's hosted by the organization that sponsors the public policy professional fellowship I'm in. We meet up with my friends from ZooLights and check out the open bar and food spread. Any party with an open bar is great in my book. We each have two glasses of Malbec and some hors d'oeuvres before heading to our next event.
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7:30 p.m. — We Uber across town to the holiday party for the state society of our home state. I've never been to any of their events, but I meet a lot of new people and have a blast! I have two more glasses of wine and some tater tots that are to die for. $9.50
9 p.m. — Oops — we're taking photos in the photo booth when we realize we're some of the last people here. The night is still young, so we head next door for another drink. I get the house red. $9.82
11 p.m. — This night has literally been one of my most fun nights since I've moved here, but it's time to Uber home. I take off my makeup, eat a bagel, and drink a glass of water. Bedtime! $12.72
Daily Total: $48.21

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — I wake up with no hangover! I prep and send clips and then get ready for the day while watching an episode of NCIS.
7:45 a.m. — While I'm not hungover, I am hella tired and decide that I deserve Chick-fil-A for breakfast. I text my coworker to see if he wants anything and will pick it up on the drive in.
8:15 a.m. — Get two chicken sandwiches, two orders of hash browns, and a side biscuit. I pay with Samsung Pay, so I get points on both my credit card and my app! I am so excited to eat this. $9.05
1:55 p.m. — I have grapes and barbecue chicken for lunch along with a blueberry muffin a coworker brought in. Some of my Black Friday purchases have arrived! Got my Kylie Cosmetics and Glossier orders today. #Hype.
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5:45 p.m. — Head home.
6:30 p.m. — Because of the hectic past few nights, I have neglected some household duties. I get to work washing dishes, organizing things on the kitchen table, cleaning the oven, and cleaning out some of my things in the fridge. I also desperately need to clean my room, but that can wait until the weekend.
7:30 p.m. — I have chicken flautas for dinner along with some of my leftover Chick-fil-A lemonade while catching up on some YouTube videos. With Vlogmas here now, I am so far behind! I really need to catch up on sleep, so I prep clips and read a bit more of Money Diaries before falling asleep early.
Daily Total: $9.05
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