A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $77,000 Salary

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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: a Digital Strategist working in Marketing/Communications who makes $77,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Thank You notes.
Occupation: Digital Strategist
Industry: Marketing/Communications
Age: 26
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $77,000 + $2,500 Performance Bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x/monthly): $2,320 (after 401(k) and healthcare deductions — fun fact: WA doesn't have income tax!)
Gender Identity: Cisgender Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,728 (I live with my cat in a 1BR and have a washer/dryer/balcony hence the hefty price tag)
Loans:$ 0
Utilities: $35
Internet: $63.50
Cell Phone: $50
Netflix and HBOGO: $0 (go Mom & Dad!)
Hulu/Spotify/Amazon Prime: $37.16 (I share these with my parents and sister)
Investments: $100 (via
Car Insurance: $112.60
ClassPass: $15.90 (2-3 classes per month)
Savings: $450 (I am trying to bulk up my savings after it was depleted from moving across the country. I currently have $4,250 saved in personal accounts and $27,000 in retirement.)

Day One

6 a.m. — Breaking News: Early morning meetings and hair wash day do not mix. Sluggishly, I unfurl myself from many comforters and shuffle to the shower. My cat follows and sits on the edge of the tub as I shave my legs, only occasionally lunging at the razor.
7:08 a.m. — Fall is officially here in the PNW! I make a mental note to unpack my electric blanket, coats, and gloves from storage. I curl my hair, add perfume, and pack an extra bag of makeup for after-work touch-ups. Dash out the door to catch my bus ($2.75 from my pre-loaded transit pass).
7:30 a.m. — Once I get to my office, I dial-in to a (very under-caffeinated) client call. Most of my clients are on the East Coast so these early alarms are more frequent than I'd like. I've been looking for a new job for the last few months and have made it to the final round of interviews several times only to not get the job in the end. It is super frustrating and I celebrate everyone who has done this without going slightly crazy. I suspect I am bordering on “burnt out” from my current job and looking for a job. Even so, I click around LinkedIn while munching on a freezer waffle with peanut butter and banana from our communal office pantry.
10 a.m. — Therapy time! My therapist offers video counseling so I shut my office door and word vomit my anxieties. Afterward, my card is charged a $30 copay. $30
12:15 p.m. — Mandatory team fun = free lunch! I eat a spinach salad with berries, cheese, cucumbers, and chicken with a lemon vinaigrette while talking to my coworkers about our shared Costco obsession. ($12.15, expensed)
5 p.m. — Eeep. Time for my date. I slip into the ladies room to touch up my makeup while listening to the new Dateline podcast The Thing About Pam. I'm a sucker for a good true crime story.
5:27 p.m. — For once I beat C1. to a date. I am really nervous. We have been talking for about seven weeks and I didn't expect to like him this much. I was traveling and he has been busy with family for the October Jewish holidays so I haven't seen him in for a week or two. My face breaks into a smile when I meet his eye and I go over and give him a hug. C1. opens the tab on his card. We order drinks (a beer for him, a red currant cider for me) and catch up. I'm relieved at how easy it feels.
6:35 p.m. — The main attraction of the bar we are at is their mini-golf course. I offer to grab us another round of drinks before we play. C1. says to put them on his tab, despite my protests. While talking to the bartender, he invites me to play a prank on another bartender and if I am successful he will give me a free beer. I am and he does! I pay for our mini-golf round. $18.49
7:20 p.m. — We play mini-golf. I am terrible and quickly lose our bet. Now I have to cook C1. dinner on our next date (yay for more dates!). We decide to head back to C1.'s neighborhood for Thai food. On the way, I add money to my transit card. He orders Thai basil fried rice and I opt for a zesty crispy chicken dish with jasmine rice (delicious). He pays. $30
9:15 p.m. — Head to C1.'s condo for some shenanigans. We have not had sex yet as we are waiting on STD test results (C1. had never been tested). I'm trying to be more of a safe sex stickler after a health scare. I got my results (all clear!) last week and I cross my fingers that his results come through soon.
11:55 p.m. — I decide to call it a night and Uber back to my neighborhood. C1. walks me to the car and kisses me goodnight. $11.48
Daily Total: $89.97

Day Two

7:40 a.m. — Alarm blares. I made the mistake of taking two Benadryl in the middle of the night to help me fall asleep when the Melatonin didn't kick in. Big mistake. HUGE. (Name the movie reference). I feel like a zombie. But hey, it's Friday!
8:30 p.m. — I take the express bus to work and still feel like I am underwater. Once at the office, I realize that our senior leadership is all working from home. I make a plan to sneak out early for the long weekend.
12:20 p.m. — I enjoy my “I forgot to pack lunch” lunch and have a peanut butter banana waffle with a honeycrisp apple (the best!).
1:30 p.m. — I get a text from C2. Yes, I am talking to two guys with the same first name. Apparently I have a type. It weirds me out, too. C2. and I have been texting for two weeks, but haven't met as I was back east. We have a plan to get breakfast bagels tomorrow morning. I feel conflicted about going, but C1. and I aren't exclusive and I shouldn't put all my eggs in his basket.
4:20 p.m. — I sneak out of work, and withdraw cash at an ATM. $54.05
5:30 p.m. — I get home and start baking desserts for my friend's engagement party tomorrow. I check my email and find a job offer (!) stemming from my interview earlier this week. I am shocked. Even more so when I see the salary plus bonus they are offering (a 40%+ raise). YES. I call my parents and my best friend while happy dancing around my apartment.
7:30 p.m. — I continue dancing around the kitchen and make chicken cutlets, rice pilaf, and a spinach salad for dinner with half a chocolate edible for dessert.
10:45 p.m. — Bath. Bed!
Daily Total: $54.05

Day Three

8:48 a.m. — Wake up, cuddle with cat, scroll on phone for meal prep recipes for the week.
11 a.m. — After a quick shower and two episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I head out to grab lunch and run errands. I end up at Chick-fil-A (deplore their politics, love their chicken) and grab a 12-count nugget meal and a $25 gift card for my coworker who cat sat for me while I was out of town. I snag extra Chick-fil-A sauce to give to him as well. $36.77
12:15 p.m. — Get fuel for my car. Seeing as I'm close to empty, the total is less than ideal. I'm embarrassed to say that I had never pumped my own gas before living in Washington (my home state has gas station attendants!). $44.43
12:45 p.m. — Time to grocery shop. I pick up basics (pasta, lemons, Parmesan, two bottles of red wine, peanut butter pretzels, butter, apples, apple cider, spinach etc.) and the ingredients for Ambitious Kitchen's Peanut Butter Oat Bars, Damn Delicious's Italian Wedding Soup, and Pinch of Yum's Skillet Chicken with Grapes. $104.55
2 p.m. — I meet with a friend from my book club for a two-mile walk and catch-up on our lives. While waiting for her to arrive, I order mascara ($4.77), blister cream ($8.23), and thank-you notes ($15.35) from Amazon. $28.35
3 p.m. — I arrive early to my friend's engagement party and help the hostess set-up. Once the party kicks off, I sip, chat, and snack on amazing food with my friends and the bride-to-be's loved ones. This is going to be a beautiful wedding and an even more lovely marriage!
9 p.m. — I head home and am greeted by hunger pains. I snacked on BBQ at the party, but was too distracted by conversation to commit to fully eating my meal. All the wine I drank demands carbs so I make a bowl of pasta. I decide that healthy eating can commence after the long weekend.
11:45 p.m. — I watch two episodes of The Office on my iPad in bed and fall asleep shortly thereafter.
Daily Total: $214.10

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Good morning! I somehow misplace my cat and spend five minutes looking for her in my apartment. I find her napping contentedly under an ottoman in my closet.
9:15 a.m. — As I feed the cat, I decide to make a quick breakfast of a one-egg omelet with parmesan and spinach with red grapes on the side.
10:50 a.m. — C2. and I meet at a bagel place and I order a toasted rainbow plain bagel with pomegranate cream cheese and a water. C2. gets an everything bagel with lox cream cheese ($17.70 that C2 pays). We decide to walk down to the Elliott Bay and eat them at a picnic table. We have a nice time and I think I'd see him again if he asks.
1:15 p.m. — My old boss (a close friend) comes over and I share my job news over Marionberry Hard Cider and pick her brain for how to resign on good terms. She's been through this rodeo before with my company and her advice is invaluable. I've been trying to host more "hangs" at my house to curb my food/drink spending problem.
6 p.m. — I eat leftover chicken cutlets with a citrus spinach salad for dinner while watching The Great British Baking Show. At some point during the day, iTunes charged me an upgraded storage fee. I fall asleep to the sound of Paul Hollywood. $2.19
Daily Total: $2.19

Day Five

8:45 a.m. — Wake up and hear back from the recruiter. I have the day off today for Columbus/Indigenous People's Day. I review the benefits package with my dad (hi, adulting is hard!) and we agree that it is very generous. I reply to the recruiter and ask to hop on the phone. I feel the need to negotiate this on principle as I'm trying to learn to better advocate for myself. Even if they don't agree to my suggested terms to the bonus structure, I've decided to accept! The recruiter says she will go back to leadership and get back to me. *long exhale*
9:45 a.m. — I go for a three-mile run/walk around Green Lake. The leaves are changing, there is a chill in the air and there are dogs wearing sweaters. This makes me so damn happy. I dash into Starbucks and get a breakfast sandwich (sausage and cheese, please) with a blueberry iced tea. $11.17
11 a.m. — I then run errands around town. I pay for 15 minutes of street parking ($0.62). $0.62
1:03 p.m. — I get home and straighten up my apartment (vacuum, sanitize bathroom/kitchen, and wash sheets). I remember that I have a professional cleaning credit on my account and add a reminder to my calendar to schedule it for two weeks out. Of course, I decide to make a mess of my newly-cleaned kitchen and cook my Italian Wedding Soup (which makes the apartment smell amazing) and Peanut Butter Oat Bars for meal prep.
4:27 p.m. — After a hot shower, I bundle up and sit on my balcony with a pumpkin spice candle, drinking a mug of hot apple cider, and reading Lori Gottlieb's Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I feel like an Autumnal Basic Bitch. Strike that. Autumnal Basic WITCH. Is it clear that I love fall by now?
6:18 p.m. — I decide to have the soup for dinner and want French bread to go with it. I live across the street from a grocery store, which basically means it is my extended pantry (case in point, I accidentally wear my slippers on this trip). On my way out I also grab two blueberry mint kombuchas for the week. $11.28
10 p.m. — I call it a night and read from bed until passing out.
Daily Total: $23.07

Day Six

6:26 a.m. — I wake up four minutes before my alarm. I consider it a win as it gives me more time to acclimate for the day. I have horrible abdominal cramps and worry I am getting my period. I have a Mirena (read: hormonal) IUD that is my best friend. It has reduced my periods from debilitating to light spotting two or three times a year. I hop in a hot bath (not my usual move in the morning) and put my makeup on as my cat tries to knock it off the ledge into the bathtub. I then quickly throw clothes on and head to the office.
10:15 a.m. — I finally surface from calls that started at 7:30. I finally have a break and grab my Peanut Butter Oat Bars (super yummy) for an energy boost. I check my email. No word from the recruiter. My anxiety swells.
1 p.m. — More meetings. Eat soup. Look for recipes.
5:07 p.m. — Head home from work on the bus and rush to try and beat C1. to my apartment.
5:37 p.m. — C1. arrives and we decide to make a homemade pizza for dinner. We head over to a fancy supermarket and grab pizza dough, marinara, a red bell pepper, pork chorizo sausage, pepperoni, two types of cheese, and arugula. $39.61
6:40 p.m. — While we are cooking C1. takes a sip of ginger beer that I realize is incredibly expired. We talk about when I bought it — the week we matched, actually — which leads to a discussion about how long we have been seeing each other. We decide to be ~exclusive~. I'm really excited!
9:30 p.m. — We watch an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and start making out by the nine-minute mark. C1. shares that he is all clear on the STD front. Cue sexy time. Worth the wait.
12:30 a.m. — C1. and I are both very light sleepers so he heads home and I pass out.
Daily Total: $39.61

Day Seven

6:08 a.m. — A large crash from the garbage truck wakes me up. Ugh.
7 a.m. — Another early morning call (this one was kind of a disaster). Before heading off to work, I watch an episode of Explained on Netflix while drinking Earl Grey tea.
1:12 p.m. — OH NO. I forgot my soup at home. I make a peanut butter waffle and have an apple in its place.
3:07 p.m. — I gossip with my colleague about our respective love and family lives. We meander around a TJ Maxx for 20 minutes and I miraculously don't buy anything. When I get back to my desk, I see that my Subscribe & Save from Amazon was charged. I ordered air fresheners ($5.20), cat food ($27.87), and a “calming” cat collar (13.20). $46.27
5:15 p.m. — My anxiety has been through the roof today. I've been considering asking my therapist/primary care doctor for their opinion of prescribing me a low-dose anti-anxiety medication. Until I get that resolved, I'll cope with cardio. I do 30 minutes on the elliptical and then a 15-minute strength routine I learned in knee physical therapy. As I'm changing, my phone chimes and I see an email from my “would be” boss at the new gig. She wants to talk timing and next steps on Friday! Yes, please.
6:30 p.m. — Time to head home and make moves in the kitchen (i.e. reheat the homemade pizza from last night in a cast iron skillet). My friend who had the engagement party arrives with wine to toast my job offer and I pour us each a glass. She just went back to school so we try to make our hangs relatively low cost.
9:30 p.m. — After she heads out, I hop in a bubble bath and finish my book. Sweet dreams!
Daily Total: $46.27
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