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A Week In Arlington, VA, On An $87,000 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 financial analyst who makes $87,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Starbucks.
Occupation: Financial Analyst
Industry: Government Contracting
Age: 25
Location: Arlington, VA
Salary: $87,000
Net Worth: $80,970 (checking account: $140, savings account: $500, HYSA: $7,500, Acorns: $6,000, mutual fund: $16,130, 401(k): $36,200, car equity: $14,500).
Debt: $8,500 remaining on my car loan.
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $4,307
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,650 for a one-bedroom that I live in alone. This includes sewage and water.
Car Payment: $260
Gym: $43
Electricity: $50
Car Insurance: $84
Apple TV: $6.99 (I pay for this for my family and in return I use their Netflix, Hulu and HBO accounts).
Internet: $60
Kindle Unlimited: $9.99
Amazon Prime: $14.99
Apple Care: $11.73
Audible: $11.99
Savings: $500
Cell Phone: $42 (but work reimburses this).
Mutual Fund: $100
401(k): 10% of my salary.
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?
Yes, there was always an expectation for me to attend higher education. Both my parents had undergraduate degrees. I attended a public university in my home state and received an academic scholarship that covered tuition. My parents covered room and board. I worked over the summers so I could have spending money for food and non-school-related things.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up, we didn't talk too much about money, although my parents wouldn't shy away from talking about it if we asked questions. My dad worked in finance so he seemed to have good ideas about budgeting and investing but didn't really share with us unless we asked. Now that I'm older, I call him with any money-related questions.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was in high school when I was 15, working at the local pool during the summers. I wanted work experience as well as extra spending money for gas, food etc.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I didn't really worry about money growing up. My dad was the sole breadwinner for a couple of years but we always seemed to have money for extracurriculars and the occasional vacation as well as dinners out. I would describe us as middle class.
Do you worry about money now?
A little bit. I'm finally in a place where I can afford to live by myself after many years of roommates. I do get stressed about the high cost of living, especially in my area. Because I live by myself now and am not able to split rent with roommates, I'm less impulsive with my purchases. If I want something more than $100 or even $50 I think about it for a few days before buying.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I would say 22 when I graduated from college and moved to Virginia by myself. My parents would be my financial safety net should I ever need anything but I don't want to have to rely on them for much, especially as they're getting closer to retirement age.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents bought me a used car my sophomore year in college, I think mainly because they didn't want to keep driving to pick me up and drop me off during breaks. They also gave me $5,000 a year ago when that car unexpectedly broke down and I decided to buy a newer used car that was more reliable.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and listen to The Daily as I fix my hair, wash my face, put on CeraVe SPF, makeup and a cute work outfit. I'm out the door and on the road by 8:30 to make it to the office by 9.
9 a.m. — At my desk, I catch up on emails and then go to the office kitchen to get a coffee from the fancy machine and a banana. I bring both back to my desk. I work until noon.
12 p.m. — Around noon, my coworker lets me know that there's leftover food in one of the conference rooms. I grab some salad, bread, roasted veggies and a piece of BBQ chicken. I bring it back to my desk to eat. I finish up my day with some more heads-down work and a couple of meetings. I leave the office around 5.
5:40 p.m. — I get home from work around 5:40 and am ravenously hungry. I eat leftover sweet potato fries and a pesto turkey burger that I top with some pickled jalapeños and onions, plain Greek yogurt, pesto and sliced tomato. I went to the store yesterday so I have a lot of food in my fridge at the moment. I digest my food, do my Duolingo and watch TikTok on my couch until 7.
7 p.m. — I decide to go on my run. I plan on four miles but after three I'm feeling pretty tired so I walk the last mile home while listening to the Normal Gossip podcast. Once home, I clean some dishes and make a protein smoothie with protein powder, frozen blueberries, banana and spinach. I drink my smoothie then hop in the shower to rinse off. Then I sit on my couch and watch some MTV Catfish while I crochet a baby blanket for my pregnant sister. Around 11 I head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

8 a.m. — I snooze my alarm until 8. Uh oh... I frantically get ready for work by throwing my hair in a ponytail, then do the rest of my morning routine. Apply light makeup including Glossier skin tint, throw on an outfit and am out the door by 8:30. Get to office a little after 9. I go through emails and tasks for the day, then head to the kitchen for a coffee, then back to my desk to do some more work.
11 a.m. — Mid-morning I realize I need to pay for my summer class today in order to not be dropped from the course. I pay $1,200 on my credit card and spend the next hour sorting through all the paperwork for reimbursement. My work offers tuition reimbursement for any employee that wants to take classes or go back to school ($1,200 expensed).
12 p.m. — It's time for lunch so I head down to the café to get some food. My office provides a free lunch ticket each day so I get a chicken cobb salad. I bring the salad back to my desk to eat. While I'm eating, I see that today was payday so I move some money around and pay some bills. While I'm doing this, I see I've been charged ($4.54) for my sustainable grocery delivery service — toilet paper and dish soap, which will arrive at my apartment later today. I continue to work the rest of the day, then leave the office around 5. $4.54
5:30 p.m. — Home from work around 5:30. I eat another leftover homemade turkey burger and get ready to go to the gym. I leave my apartment around 6 to start walking but mid-walk some friends text to see if I want to do taco Tuesday. My legs are feeling sore and I'm feeling social so I agree. I hop on the metro to the restaurant (normally $2 but I have money on my pass still). I get a spicy margarita and a steak burrito ($29.14 with tip). We hang out for an hour or so and then my friends walk me halfway home. I walk the rest of the way back listening to Normal Gossip. I get home around 8:30, put on some comfy clothes and hang out on the couch while drinking a cranberry kombucha. I get ready for bed around 10. While doing my night routine, I practice giving a work presentation I have tomorrow in the mirror a couple of times. I'm in bed by 11 and asleep by 12. $29.14
Daily Total: $33.68

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and see I have a couple of texts from a new guy I might be seeing, B. He wanted to hang out with me but I was very much asleep. Oh well. Big day in the office today so I shower, wash and style my hair, put on a fuller makeup look and put on a suit. I leave for the office a little after 8:30 and get in around 9:15. Once there, I get a coffee, go through emails/tasks and prep for my presentation.
1 p.m. — After my presentation is over (it went great and my boss gives me a really nice compliment), I head to the kitchen and get myself a burrito bowl from today's catered lunch. I go back to my desk and enjoy my lunch while I work. Around 3, I start to feel a little snacky so I go to the kitchen to get more coffee and an ice cream bar. I embarrassingly spill coffee all over myself. Luckily my suit is dark so it kind of blends in. Back at my desk, I text my mom to ask if I should take my suit to get dry-cleaned or if I should try to get the coffee out of it myself. She says dry-clean.
4 p.m. — I leave the office around 4 to try to beat the traffic and get home around 4:30. I log back into my computer and work until a little after 5 and then change into some workout clothes. I run three miles and then quickly rinse off in the shower to get ready for my 7:30 Hinge date.
7:30 p.m. — I leave my apartment at 7:25 to make it to my date on time. We're meeting at a dive bar around the corner from me. I immediately know I'm not interested in him but I order a beer and chat with him for an hour. He pays. I leave the date around 8:45 and head home. I finish the last of my turkey burgers and then hang out on my couch and watch the new Apple TV show Silo while I crochet. I'm very intrigued and will have to watch more episodes. I'm in bed by 11 and asleep by 12.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

9 a.m. — WFH today so I sleep in as long as humanly possible and wake up to my snoozed alarm right before 9. I log onto my computer and drink a can of La Colombe draft vanilla latte I have in my fridge. I work from my desk for a little bit and then move to my couch. Around 11 I make myself avocado toast topped with a fried egg, hot sauce, pickled onions and jalapeños. I open Hinge and see the guy from last night has messaged me and wants to see me again. I gently tell him I'm not interested.
3:30 p.m. — I make more toast and drizzle with honey.
5 p.m. — I close my laptop and clean my apartment for an hour. For dinner I eat oatmeal with bananas, chia seeds, peanut butter and honey.
7 p.m. — I metro to my kickball game at the National Mall using my prepaid card. We win! I have two beers while I'm there.
8:30 p.m. — My team heads to a bar to celebrate our win. I drink a giant beer and then a small beer. I text B. and see if he wants to hang out but he says he's too tired. I hang out at the bar for a few more hours. $28.36
11 p.m. — I'm feeling properly tipsy and decide I want a late snack. I leave the bar and go down the street to order myself a burrito. Burrito in hand, I metro home. I finally get home around midnight, enjoy my burrito and go to bed. $15.40
Daily Total: $43.76

Day Five

9 a.m. — I wake up a little before 9 and drink a big glass of water and log onto my computer.
11 a.m. — I need coffee so I load $25 onto my Starbucks card and order a latte and breakfast sandwich. I walk to pick it up. When I get home, I'm hungry, so I cook some rice and heat up a can of Annie's organic vegan chili. $25
5 p.m. — I head to the gym for a workout. I walk on the treadmill for a little bit, then do some heavy squats and bench presses. Back at my apartment, I make a protein smoothie. It's a Friday night and really nice out so I feel guilty for wanting to stay in but I'm tired from last night and don't really want to go out. I eat the rest of the chili from lunch today, watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding and go to bed around midnight.
Daily Total: $25

Day Six

10 a.m. — I sleep in until 10, then wake up and go to a café to get a chocolate croissant and a latte. Once I'm back at my apartment, I see my Warby Parker glasses try-on box has come in. I FaceTime my sister while I try on the different options. I don't really like any of them. The rest of the morning I hang out on my couch, watching TikTok and playing guitar. $14.52
2 p.m. — A friend texts and invites me over to their apartment to drink mimosas. While getting ready, I notice my eczema has been acting up. I order some cortisol cream from Amazon ($8.45). I finish getting ready and then walk to my friend's place. We drink champagne and then decide to make moves to some bars. $8.45
5 p.m. — We hang out at the outside section of a bar. It's not too crowded out. My friends buy me a beer and once we finish those, I order us another round and some mac and cheese bites for myself. The bartender gives us all a round of free frozen drinks. $34.05
9 p.m. — We head back to my friend's apartment and I text B. to see if he wants to hang out. He lives close by so I say bye to my friends and go to his apartment. We hang out for a couple of hours, then around midnight he heads out to a bar and I walk home. I text B. once I'm home and we make tentative plans to hang out tomorrow.
Daily Total: $57.02

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — I wake up a little hungover and very hungry considering I only ate a croissant and mac and cheese bites yesterday. I order a Starbucks latte and breakfast sandwich. I still have money on my card from when I added the $25 so I technically already paid for it. I head back to my apartment and hang out on my couch for a couple of hours while I text my sisters and read my book.
1 p.m. — I put my gym clothes on and think about going to the gym. I walk about a block, then notice I have hives all over my body for some reason. I decide to skip the gym and go back home to figure out what's going on with my skin. Maybe it's allergies? I rinse off in the shower and take a Zyrtec in hopes it will cure me. I make some fried rice with the leftover rice I have from two days ago and some frozen veggies. I see I have a notification from Apostrophe reminding me to check in with some updated pics of my skin since I've been using them to treat my acne. I pay a $20 copay. $20
5 p.m. — I order takeout from my favorite kebab restaurant for dinner. I walk to pick it up and then eat it while watching the new Ted Lasso. I watch more TV on my couch and then head to bed early. $26.62
Daily Total: $46.62
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