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A Week In San Francisco, CA, On A $129,000 Salary

Photo: Courtesy of Olipop.
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 data scientist who makes $129,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Olipop soda.
Occupation: Data scientist
Industry: Retail
Age: 22
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $129,000
Net Worth: $82,734 ($20,000 in a HYSA, $2,083 in checking, $8,760 in my 401(k), $51,891 in a brokerage account).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,819.57
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,400 (I live in a three-bed, one-bath with two roommates.)
Utilities & Internet: ~$100
ClassPass: $89
Hulu: $17.99
Max: $15.99
Audible: $14.95
HYSA Contribution: $2,000
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?
I knew from a young age that I was expected to go to college. I don’t remember ever considering that there were alternatives. College always made sense to me — I love school and learning, and more importantly, I didn’t have any other ideas about what I would do. My parents would have been okay with me not going to college, but I would have had to have some sort of game plan. Both of my parents have bachelor’s degrees. Unlike some of my other friends, my parents didn’t care what I majored in, but I knew I wanted to study something that had a straightforward path to employment without graduate school. My parents paid for all of my school expenses, my rent, and also gave me a monthly allowance in college of $500, so I never had to work. I am SO grateful for that support, and for the fact that I don’t have any student loans.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t talk that much about money. The main lesson I learned was to always pay off your credit cards and to treat them like debit cards. I always trusted that my parents were financially responsible. It wasn’t until I filled out the FAFSA when applying to college that I learned more details about our finances.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was working part time at a bakery when I was 16. I got it because I wanted extra spending money, and also experience that I could put on a resumé.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I went through phases where I would really worry and then times where I wouldn’t. When I was in elementary school, my dad got laid off. This was in the wake of the 2008 recession. I was a very anxious child (now a very anxious adult), so this worried me, despite my parents’ efforts to shield us from that anxiety. Starting in middle school, a lot of my friends were or seemed to be wealthier than me, so I had a false sense of how my family was doing. We didn’t go on vacations or have new cars, which worried me and at some points embarrassed me. Now I realize how silly that was. I feel bad that I ever made my parents feel like they weren’t providing me with what I needed, because they always did.
Do you worry about money now?
Sometimes. I feel super lucky and sometimes guilty that I have a good income just out of college. The main thing I worry about is losing my job. There haven’t been as many tech layoffs recently, but I know that could change. That’s why right now I am really trying to build up my emergency fund. My goal is to have $25,000 in a savings account in case something bad happens. I use a budget tracker and that helps me be realistic with how much I should spend. I am worried about lifestyle creep. I also know that I don’t want to work in tech forever and may want to go back to school, so I worry that I will get accustomed to a certain lifestyle and then have to adjust to a completely different one.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I don't know if I am technically financially responsible for myself right now, because my parents pay my phone bill, I am still on my mom’s health insurance, and my parents pay for my therapy ($200 per session, twice a month). My older sister is still on my parents’ phone plan, so I think I will consider myself financially independent when I am off my parents’ health insurance and I pay for my own therapy, which I will accomplish in 2024. I pay for all my other expenses and have done so since I started working in August 2023, when I was 22. I definitely have a financial safety net in my parents, and if all else failed, my extended family.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes. I have a brokerage account that my parents started when I was born. It currently has around $50,000 in it. I only found out about it a couple of months ago. I know that I could also use that money to fall back on, but I operate as if it’s not there. I really just don’t want to touch it. My grandma has also twice in my life given me $5,000.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I wake up from a bad dream. It is so cold in this apartment (single pane windows!) and they are dripping with condensation. I immediately turn on the heater in my room. I make myself some coffee in a mug I recently made in a ceramics class. Being an adult is sometimes no fun, BUT I now have enough money to take a ceramics class once in a while.
9 a.m. — I start work. I work as a data scientist. I started last August so I have now been working for almost five months. I worked as an intern for the same team last summer, before I started my senior year. At the end of the internship, I received an offer for full-time employment after graduation. I accepted because I really liked my manager, the pay was good, and I really did not want to go through tech recruitment again. It definitely took a ton of pressure off for my senior year, because I didn't have to job hunt. I feel super super fortunate to have had that, especially since news of tech layoffs and hiring freezes broke later that year.
10 a.m. — Our wi-fi has been super slow the last few days, and it is frustrating because I work from home. I call our ISP to see if they can tell what’s wrong. Based on the conversation, it sounds like our wi-fi extender is too far from the router. I cave and order ANOTHER wi-fi extender, which I won’t ask my roommates to split since both of them work outside the apartment. It is $5 per month, and our wi-fi is already kind of expensive, but for now, it is worth it. $5
10:30 a.m. — Each week, my team does a weekly recap meeting. I really really like my team. My manager is amazing and everyone has been super helpful and is very lovely. The bummer is that we are spread out across the US, so we only interact virtually. I like to think I bring a young, fun (but not obnoxious) energy to my team, but I really don’t know. Then I have some other meetings.
12 p.m. — I usually take my lunch break at this time, but I am focused on something so I don’t take a break. I do finally brush my teeth, which is pretty pathetic of me. I also just got a pair of incredibly cute boots from Miista, but they are so tight in the calves. I put on thick socks and leggings and zip them up. My heating vent is right under my desk, so I figure that the heat will help the stretching process. I call a shoe repair place near me to ask if they can stretch the calves, but they tell me that since they have a zipper, they can’t stretch them without risking breaking the zipper. I thank them then go on Amazon and look for leather stretch spray. I find one that has good reviews and I order it, along with some other household stuff we need (more laundry detergent, dryer balls, drain snakes, tub drain protector) and a new nail buffing thing for me ($80.07). My roommates will pay me back for the shared stuff. $63.40
2 p.m. — I am super hungry. I just got back from visiting my family, so I have no groceries. I borrow my roommate’s car and head to Trader Joe’s. A great thing about my job is the flexibility. From Trader Joe’s, I get the ingredients I need to make this Earl Grey cake I found on NYT Cooking, and then my usuals — half and half, broccoli, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, salmon, pre-marinated chicken shawarma, hummus, pesto, bruschetta, mozzarella, apples, avocados, tofu, frozen palak paneer, frozen orange chicken, pita chips, salt, pepper, and two bottles of my favorite $5 wine. Since I am ravenous now, I get a wrap to eat in the car. I know Trader Joe’s checkout people are supposed to be super friendly, but the guy checking me out is pretty closed off and not in the mood to chat. It’s too bad, because he is kinda cute, but I don’t blame him. $120.62
3 p.m. — I unload my groceries. I have been really into this podcast called If Books Could Kill. I listen to an episode while unpacking. Then, I go back to my desk and continue working. For most of the tasks I get assigned at work, my first instinct is “I have no idea what I am supposed to do.” I am not used to being such a novice at something, so it’s necessary and humbling.
6:30 p.m. — I head to a hot yoga class. The studio is a couple blocks away and I really enjoy it. It is the only exercise that I have found that I can be consistent with. The class is good, but I have been having knee pain for the past few months that is bothering me. I know I need to get it checked out.
7:30 p.m. — I’m home from yoga and very sweaty. I take a shower then make frozen orange chicken and broccoli in the air fryer. My roommate, T., has just finished making her dinner, so we eat together and watch The Office.
11 p.m. — I have been trying to read before bed instead of scrolling on my phone. Right now, I'm reading The Guest List by Lucy Foley. It’s hard to put down, so I stay up later than I mean to so I can finish it. I put on one of my sleep playlists and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $189.02

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — Woohoo it’s Friday! And a three-day weekend. I wake up and scroll on my phone for a few minutes. I make myself coffee and then start work at 9 a.m. I put on thick socks and my new boots again with my pajama pants tucked into them. I look like I’m wearing pantaloons.
10 a.m. — I brush my teeth while I’m waiting for some code to run. Fridays are usually pretty chill. I can’t tell if the boots are stretching or not. I also can’t tell if they are cutting off circulation to my feet.
11 a.m. — The work I am doing right now doesn’t require that much brain power, so I listen to an episode of the podcast 5-4, where they unpack different Supreme Court cases (and why the Supreme Court sucks). I listen to the episode about Korematsu v. United States. My grandfather was interned, so I am always interested to learn more about the internment.
11:30 a.m. — I switch to music. A lot of what I do is googling or asking ChatGPT. I know people are scared of LLMs (Large Language Models) taking jobs like mine, and while I worry about that, I also know that I don’t want to stay in tech forever. And in the interim, ChatGPT is very helpful with debugging code or reminding me of syntax. I try to be very polite when we interact.
12:30 p.m. — I take my lunch break. I make myself a sandwich with sourdough bread, the Trader Joe’s vegan kale pesto, mozzarella, Trader Joe’s bruschetta, and mixed greens. It’s good, but the bruschetta is very oily. I am trying to eat less meat and my go-to before was a turkey sandwich. Then I take a quick nap.
2 p.m. — Okay, I kind of slept later than I meant to. I feel bad about this, but I figure I will just work later. I realize I haven’t had any water yet today. Maybe that’s why I’m sleepy.
3:30 p.m. — While I wait for some things to run, I make myself some tea and empty the dishwasher.
6 p.m. — Done with work. I’m really hungry so I snack on some hummus and pita chips, then have some raspberries. I listen to another episode of 5-4 about the case that overturned affirmative action. My sister, K., texts me that she has an extra ticket to a showing of the new Mean Girls musical movie at 7 p.m. I spend way too long picking out an outfit and end up just wearing black jeans, black boots, a black long sleeve shirt, and a jacket (hunter green). I take an Uber to the theater instead of taking the bus because I am already late. $21.95
7 p.m. — We watch the movie. The theater is a fancy one where you press a button and a waiter comes to take your order. I get a Dirty Shirley and we split popcorn. $17.61
9:30 p.m. — The movie is done. It is moderately enjoyable. I review it on LetterBoxd (I give it 3.5 stars). I technically haven’t eaten dinner, but the popcorn really filled me up. We head to a bar. I wasn’t expecting us to do anything after the movie, except maybe eat. I am not wearing what I would consider a going-out outfit and I didn’t put any makeup on. I get a vodka cranberry that is incredibly strong. My sister pays. After a bit of chatting, I get myself some sort of cocktail they have with mint and grapefruit, and my sister asks for another beer, so I buy both. This drink is also strong. $27.37
11 p.m. — We go to another bar nearby. This place has a DJ and a dancing area, as well as a film photo booth. We spend way too much on photos — my sister and I take one set, and then I take a solo one because the other girls are. I feel kind of drunk, so I stick to water. $14
1:30 a.m. — I am so ready to go home. I’m amazed that I managed to stay out this late. I usually require advance notice for any plans that will end later than midnight. I’m already stressed about getting to bed, and I am also aware that I didn’t have a proper dinner and my stomach is growling. I take an Uber home. $21.95

2 a.m. — I get home and scramble an egg with some soy sauce, then eat that over some of my leftover rice. I’m still hungry, so I have half a PB&J. I chug a bunch of water because I really don’t want to be hungover. I listen to an episode of If Books Could Kill then I get into bed. In my drunken state, I don’t end up washing my face or brushing my teeth.

Daily Total: $102.88

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up and check my phone. It’s very gloomy and supposed to rain all day, so I figure a very chill day at home is permissible. Plus, this means I can very easily have a no-spend day. My roommate makes oatmeal for both of us, and I have coffee with a bit of maple syrup. We watch a couple of episodes of The Office.
10:30 a.m. — I resolve to clean my room. I listen to another episode of 5-4 about Brett Kavanaugh while I clean. I do the dishes after tidying my room. I love seeing how much dust and debris the vacuum picks up.
12:30 p.m. — Done cleaning my room so I start rereading the book Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson. I have read it once before but not in a while.
2 p.m. — My other roommate, N., comes home from work. She works as a barista and brings me a cookie butter chocolate latte. It is so good. I make myself a mozzarella sandwich and continue reading.
3 p.m. — I finish the book. I had forgotten so many details and it’s even better than I remembered. It really beautifully portrays the intricacies of a chosen family. I stay in bed and rot for a bit. My stomach kind of hurts. I think it’s from the drinking.
6:30 p.m. — I start making dinner for T. and myself. We are having the pre-marinated chicken shawarma from Trader Joe’s with pita bread and roasted broccoli. It turns out pretty yummy and there are leftovers, which is great.
8 p.m. — We watch the movie Past Lives. The beginning is a bit slow for my taste, but the ending is great and devastating. I give it 4.5 stars on LetterBoxd.
11:00 p.m. — I get ready for bed and scroll on Hinge and Tinder. Last October, my ex-boyfriend and I broke up after four years. I haven’t been single since I was 18 and that feels like ages ago. It is super daunting to think about dating again, but it’s also somewhat exciting. Once I run out of my daily likes on Hinge, I decide that’s enough. I scroll on TikTok and Twitter (X?) and play Connections on NYT. I end up falling asleep around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

10:30 a.m. — I wake up and I’m mad at myself for sleeping in so much, as I wanted to be productive today.
11 a.m. — T. and I decide to go get breakfast by the beach and then go on a walk. I put on yoga pants, sneakers, and a long sleeve, and then bring a hoodie and some sunglasses.
11:30 a.m. — We go to a beachside cafe and I get a hot latte and a lox bagel. We sit and eat our food, then walk over to the bike/walking path next to the sand. $20.83
1 p.m. — We finish walking. We stop at Safeway because we need more eggs. T. gets those and some other things. I discover that they sell cans of Chamberlain Coffee iced lattes, so I get one to try. I am not a huge fan of Emma Chamberlain, but I have charted her progression since I was in high school, and I have been curious about her coffee. I also get some Earl Grey tea for my cake, two Olipop sodas, onion powder, and cinnamon. Then we stop at a laundromat to get quarters for laundry. $24.83
2 p.m. — I am so sleepy when we get home. I close my eyes for a second and then wake up at 4:30 p.m. I quickly throw on some workout clothes and fill up my water bottle, then head to a 5 p.m. yoga class. The class is good but my knee is bothering me more now. I really need to figure that situation out.
7 p.m. — I shower and then eat the leftover chicken shawarma and broccoli over rice with some sriracha. Both of my roommates are home. We smoke some weed and watch Bottoms.
10 p.m. — The movie is over. I really liked the first hour but it kind of got away from me in the last 30 minutes. I give it 4 stars on LetterBoxd. Both of my roommates have work tomorrow so they go to bed early. I end up listening to two more episodes of 5-4. I fall asleep around 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $45.66

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — No work today! I wake up and make coffee. My leather shoe stretching spray finally comes. I put on my thickest pair of leggings, two pairs of socks, and go outside to spray the boots. It tells me to test the spray on a hidden part of the shoe so I do that and wait about 30 seconds before deciding it’s probably fine. I spray the shoes on the outside and inside, then shove my feet into them and zip them as best I can. I make a list of what I want to get done. I am going to bake my Earl Grey cake today and then go to the ceramics studio to pick up the remaining pieces from the class I took last year.
1 p.m. — I accidentally leave the cake in for an extra 10 minutes. It doesn’t look burned but I’m worried it’s going to be ridiculously dry. I let it cool and get ready to go to the ceramics studio. It just so happens to be in an area with lots of clothing stores, so I plan to look around. It’s warmer today, so I put on some jeans, a T-shirt, and a cardigan, with my boots (this proves to be an error). I smoke some weed then hop on the bus ($2.50 on a prepaid transit card).
3 p.m. — I wonder around different vintage stores and look for things that strike my fancy. I end up getting a cute casual vintage zip-up hoodie that I think will be a great layering piece ($16.29). Then I go into a cute bookstore and am happily surprised to find that they have this book, True Biz, that I have been wanting for a few weeks. I buy the book ($19.94) then head home. I can’t tell if the boots have successfully stretched and actually, I can’t really feel my feet at this point. I theorize that my feet are swelling in response to lack of circulation — is that a thing? Also, my knee is hurting even worse now. I hobble onto the bus and remind myself how lovely it will feel to get home and take off these boots. $36.23
5:30 p.m. — I make the frosting for the cake and then stick it in the fridge to firm up. Then, I make rice and marinate salmon in teriyaki sauce. When the rice is close to done, I shove the salmon in the air fryer and cook it. Then I toss this Asian-style salad from Trader Joe’s. I add Kewpie mayo and sriracha to the salad. I eat the salmon over rice with soy sauce, sriracha, kewpie mayo, sesame seeds, avocado, and seaweed (obligatory Emily Mariko shoutout). I sign up for a free week of some ridiculously named streaming service so that I can watch the Emmys live. My roommates join me. It’s pretty uneventful, except for Brian Cox and Kieran Culkin kissing on the mouth. I think Kieran Culkin is so hot. We eat the cake. It is a bit dry, but still really yummy.
10:30 p.m. — The Emmys are over so we disperse. I start reading my new book. It’s really interesting and I end up reading for an hour. The book is interspersed with lessons on ASL and Deaf history. I have been thinking about taking an ASL class at a local community college and this is motivating me to follow through. Work is making me anxious, but I finally fall asleep around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $36.23

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Good morning, I guess. I am planning on going to the office today, which is why I am up at this unconscionable hour. I do my morning routine, then put on concealer, blush, mascara, and lipstick. My office doesn’t have a strict dress code, and especially on the tech floor, the vibes are very casual. I end up wearing my new boots, some dark wash wide-leg jeans, a blouse, a sweater, and my trusty hooded Carhartt jacket. As usual, getting dressed takes twice as long as I would have wanted, and the floor of my room is now littered with clothes. Oops! I hop on MUNI and start a new 5-4 episode ($2.50, prepaid on my transit card).
9 a.m. — I arrive at the office. I realize that I have virtual therapy today at 2:30 p.m. If I had remembered, I would not have come to the office. We have private meeting rooms, but I know they aren’t soundproof. I decide I’ll leave at lunch. I buy an iced latte and a peanut butter banana toast from our office coffee shop. The toast is so good. It has dates and some fancy type of salt on it. $9
12:30 p.m. — My morning is mainly meetings. I’m so tired and can’t stop yawning. I pack up and take the train home then continue working.
2:30 p.m. — Therapy! I have seen the same psychiatrist since I was 12, so we go way back. Today we talk about my feelings of incompetence. She challenges me to not smoke weed for the rest of January, and I agree to it. We’ll see how it goes. I smoke too often, and it messes with my appetite and my sleep. However, it does make me feel silly and less anxious. After our session, I realize I’m hungry. I add edamame and avocado to my leftover salad and eat that at my desk.
6 p.m. — I finish work. I’m still so tired and I desperately need to do laundry. I put on 5-4 and wash my sheets and then some of my clothes ($12 for two loads). It’s raining, which is a bummer because our laundry room is outside of the building. I make a sandwich with mozzarella, pesto, bruschetta, and mixed greens and then make my bed. I decide I like this podcast enough to become a paying subscriber to their Patreon ($5). I reason with myself that I’ll just binge the episodes and then cancel, but even as I’m thinking that, I feel icky about it. I guess this will be a part of my monthly budget now. $17
10 p.m. — I get into bed and scroll through TikTok, Hinge, Tinder, and Instagram. At 11:30 p.m, I fall asleep in my beautiful clean sheets.
Daily Total: $26

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I have a really bad dream about my ex-boyfriend, terrible start to the day.
9 a.m. — I start work and have several meetings. I’m into what I’m working on so I work through lunch.

2 p.m. — I eat my leftover salmon over rice and then drink my ginger lemon Olipop. Sometimes leftover salmon kind of grosses me out, so the Olipop helps. Then I get back to work.

3 p.m. — I paint my nails while I’m working and while listening to 5-4, of course. I even follow the podcast on Twitter.

5 p.m. — I end up painting and repainting my nails twice and then almost immediately smudge them while they dry. My nails are longer and healthier than usual, so I decide to get my nails done. I call a local nail salon and schedule an appointment.

6 p.m. — My nails are now beautifully clean and a pale baby blue. The nail technician informed me that I unfortunately have “oily nails,” something I didn’t even think was a possibility. She was really lovely and did a great job ($38 + $8 tip). On the way home, I see a funny flyer that only my ex-boyfriend would appreciate. Things like this happen more infrequently now, and they don’t send me into deep sadness anymore, which is progress. $46

7 p.m. — T. makes us a dinner of mac and cheese with leeks and cauliflower. I don’t really know what leeks taste like, but the meal is very yummy. We have more Earl Grey cake for dessert. I do the dishes.

11 p.m. — I scroll on social media for a bit. I have convinced myself I can’t fall asleep in silence, so I have an arsenal of sleep playlists that I cycle through and heavily rely on. I fall asleep to Bon Iver’s sleepiest, saddest songs.

Daily Total: $46
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