A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $220,000 Salary

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 law associate who makes $220,000 and spends some of her money this week on dish towels.
Occupation: Associate
Industry: Law Firm
Age: 27
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $220,000
Husband's Salary: $270,000
Net Worth: Around $200,000+ (Combined with my husband. Amount varies depending on the state of the stock market.)
Debt: $0
My Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $8,461.54
My Husband's Paycheck Amound (biweekly): $7,307 
Pronouns: she/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,655 (My husband and I rent a one-bedroom apartment. I pay all of the rent but he covers utilities, groceries, and a lot of our day-to-day expenses.)
Loans: $0
Health Insurance (Dental, Medical, & Vision): $70
401(k) Contribution: $761
Life/Disability Insurance (required by my job): $92
Metro Fare: $100
Cell Phone: $305 semi-annually (I am on my parent's phone plan but pay them every six months for my portion)
Internet: $60
Spotify & Hulu (bundled): $10
Netflix: $14
Monthly Donations: $72 ($10 to NPR and $62 to Partners in Health)
Savings: $2,000-$3,000 (I don't track the exact amount very well. Usually, I just move $5,000 from checking to savings whenever I have over $10,000 in checking.)

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up to a crashing sound when my husband drops a pack of soda as he walks into the apartment. My husband, L., is an internal medicine doctor and frequently works nights so he is just getting home from work. On the way home, he stopped for groceries and grabbed paper towels, Clorox wipes, Diet Dr. Pepper (my favorite), and sparkling water. We'd been looking for paper towels and Clorox wipes for a week with every store being out because of all the coronavirus hoarding. I'm excited we can finally stop rationing our last roll.
9 a.m. — Settled on the couch, we catch up on TV from the week. We always try to watch Superstore and Brooklyn Nine-Nine together. Eventually, my husband heads to bed to get some sleep before his shift tonight. I start browsing Bloomingdales, Anthropologie, and Nordstrom, which are all having sales. We need new kitchen dishtowels and I want to see if any cute ones are on sale. I eventually find a set I like from Bloomingdales and order them. $20
12 p.m. — I am hungry for lunch but nothing in our fridge looks good. After looking through all of the various food delivery apps, I settle on a lobster roll with a side of clam chowder, which feels nice and cozy on this rainy Sunday. I pay $32 for the food and fees then tip $10. $42
3 p.m. — My mom calls to chat. She is struggling with being cooped up back home. My parents live in a state that hasn't issued a stay-at-home order yet, but they are still trying to avoid going out. Since they are both over 60, I worry about them leaving the house even to go to Walmart these days. My mom says that one of her friends is going to send them face masks. She asks if we want any. With all of the supply shortages, I am not sure if I want to potentially contribute to the problem by having face masks we don't need (outside of my husband's job and the grocery store, we almost never leave our apartment). My mom says her friend will send them anyway just in case. #classicmom
4:30 p.m. — I am getting snackish again with a craving for cupcakes. I order two cupcakes for delivery ($11 for the cupcakes with fees and $9 for the tip). $20
7 p.m. — After procrastinating doing a couple of work projects all weekend, I log onto my laptop to get started. I finish a few emails then eat the vanilla cupcake. Cupcakes are a nutritious dinner, right?
8 p.m. — My husband is up to get ready for work. We catch up while he drinks his "morning" coffee and I have a glass of wine. We need to cancel plane tickets and hotel reservations for a trip to Japan we planned for the end of April. I was looking forward to the vacation but obviously we won't be traveling for a while now.
Daily Total: $82

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I snooze for another 30 minutes before getting out of bed. When I don't have to shower, get dressed, and commute for work, it's a lot harder to motivate myself to get up on time. L. gets home while I am making my morning coffee. He was treating patients with COVID-19 last night. To limit any spread outside the hospital, he changes clothes before leaving the hospital then immediately showers when he gets home. We also wipe his phone down with the Clorox wipes he picked up yesterday.
8 a.m. — I settle onto the couch to start work for the day. This is my third week of working from home full time. Thankfully, basically all of my job can be done remotely on my laptop. However, we don't have an office or other work-from-home space so the couch is my office now. After 30 minutes of catching up on email, I change from pajamas to yoga pants, a sports bra, and a t-shirt. I tell myself if I have workout clothes on I might actually do something more active then walking from the fridge to the couch today.
10:30 a.m. — My cat starts meowing like crazy in front of our bookshelf. She usually does this when she's lost a toy under it. We got a cat last summer. She is spoiled rotten with attention, especially now that I am working from home. I pause my work to try to get the toy for her but can't find it. I look around the apartment and still can't locate her toy. Since our cat keeps magically disappearing her favorite toys in our apartment, I decide to order her a replacement ($2). While I am looking at cat stuff, I buy her some more cat food too ($16). I place the order with delivery next week. Hopefully, the cat will make do with her dozens of other toys while we wait for the new one to arrive. $18
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! I step away from my laptop to heat up leftovers. We ordered delivery from a local Balkan restaurant last week and I am still working through some of the slow-roasted lamb. I combine the lamb with a Daily Harvest bowl. I ordered a box of Daily Harvest frozen bowls a month or so ago in an attempt to have healthier frozen options on hand. While I didn't eat many then, they are coming in handy now that we aren't going grocery shopping very often.
2:30 p.m. — I have a weekly meeting with one of my case teams every Monday. This week, a partner decided to send out a WebEx (Cisco's version of Zoom) invite for the meeting since we're all remote. Little did I know that meant we were doing a video meeting instead of our usual teleconference. (We used Webex in the past to share screens but never had video capability until a recent update). Everyone is on video while I am a black screen. No one needs to see my greasy hair and gym clothes look today. Note to self: shower and get dressed for work on all Webex team meeting days from now on.
6:30 p.m. — I step away from my laptop for an hour or so for dinner. I heat up more leftovers. This time, it's a bowl of rice, roasted cauliflower, and more lamb mixed in. I rewatch Broad City while eating. All of the sad and stressful news makes me only want to watch comforting TV right now. After a couple of episodes, I turn back to work.
9 p.m. — Taking a little break from work to scroll through my personal email, I see an email that a restaurant that my husband and I love is now offering delivery. Instead of allowing you to pick off the menu, you schedule to have two or three multi-course meals delivered in advance. With dining out shut down for now, we have been trying to order delivery from all of our local favorites. I place an order to have three days of meals delivered two weeks from now when my husband is off work ($247 for food with fees plus $50 for tip). It's expensive but it's the closest thing we can have to date night right now. $297
10:30 p.m. — I shut down my laptop and head to bed.
Daily Total: $315

Day Three

7 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I snooze as usual. Eventually, my cat forces me out of bed when I hear her knocking makeup off my vanity. She is an adorable little terror sometimes.
8:30 a.m. — Start working from the couch. Then, surprising both myself and the cat who was sleeping beside me on the couch, I decide to get on the stationary bike. Last year, I bought a stationary bike with a desk attached so I could simultaneously work and workout. While I don't use it consistently, I like being able to be active during times when my job is demanding. Now that I am home all day, I know I should use it even more. After shifting my laptop set up, I start biking while finishing up a project for the morning.
12 p.m. — I try to take a break for lunch but one of my bosses keeps calling me. In the office, our offices are right next to each other and he would always randomly pop in to ask me questions throughout the day. With everyone remote, he has shifted to calling me multiple times a day instead. The current record is six calls in one day. It's a lot of calls, but I find it oddly comforting to still talk to him regularly as if we are in the office. I quietly heat up more leftovers while we talk then scarf down my food as soon as he hangs up.
5 p.m. — I am struggling to focus on my work so I pause for an early dinner. I need a break from eating more leftover lamb so I dig around the freezer for something appetizing. My husband picked up a couple of frozen pizzas at the grocery store that don't look half bad. I heat up the oven and "cook" a veggie pizza for dinner.
8 p.m. — Back to work. I am on a cross-border project that involves working with associates in our Japan office, which means evening emails and calls. Tonight, we are having a sync call with the Japanese team about the case. I hate calls after 8 p.m. because I am never at my best this time of night. I make it through the call then head to bed early.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I set my alarm a half-hour later because we know I am not getting up at 7 anyway. Of course, this leads to me snoozing until 8. Oh well. I roll out of bed, make coffee, and start working.
10 a.m. — After a rough few days at work, L. decides he wants pizza. He orders Pizza Hut as soon as it opens. He pays for it himself but I still steal a bite. He eats then heads to bed.
11:30 a.m. — All of a sudden, I am starving. I blame the smell of the pizza. Instead of eating the older leftovers, I reheat a slice of pizza for lunch. I try to eat, work, and bike at the same time but it just upsets my stomach. I return to my office, aka the couch, and get back to work.
6 p.m. — After trying and failing to focus on my work for an hour, I need to get out of this apartment. I haven't been outside in two weeks and am getting stir crazy. I look online and see that my favorite wine bar and shop is offering takeout. I buy some cheese, chips, guacamole, salad, and, of course, wine to go. While they prepare it, I shower and put on pants that don't have an elastic waistband for the first time in weeks. I walk the block to the store to grab our food then come home. Even though it is a short walk, I feel a lot better just getting out of the walls of our apartment. I never knew how much I would miss just walking to and from the metro every day. $58
8 p.m. — My husband wakes up. We hang out on the couch and watch a little TV. I am excited that he doesn't have to go into the hospital tonight since he is moving to day shifts starting tomorrow. We sip on some of the new wine while I eat all of the cheese. In my defense, he is still full from his breakfast pizza and doesn't want any cheese. (I can't relate).
10:30 p.m. — Time for bed. After sending one last work email, I wake up my husband from his couch nap to send him to bed. I grab the cat and join him.
Daily Total: $58

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — L.'s alarm goes off. I wake up enough to pet the cat for a bit before falling back asleep.
7 a.m. — I get up with my alarm for once. I make coffee and eat some yogurt before jumping on my bike and starting to work.
11:30 a.m. — My morning is pretty quiet so I am able to really focus on a project. The only plus of working remotely is I have a lot fewer disruptions and distractions than in the office. Overall, I miss being able to walk around and talk to people, but I like having a few hours of quiet sometimes to focus on researching an issue.
1 p.m. — After heating up the last of the leftover lamb for lunch, I start to think about dinner. In our household, L. is the cook. The closest I get to cooking is heating up frozen meals. With him working the past week, no one has been making any food so we have been surviving on frozen food and delivery (very healthy, I know). Now that we are almost out of the last round of delivery, I need more food. I remember getting an email from a restaurant about delivering set dinners for two. I check and tonight's menu is roast chicken, pesto pasta, and salad. I place an order ($98 for food and fees and $22 for tip). $120
5 p.m. — Food is here! I immediately dig into the pasta and chicken. Grocery store rotisserie chickens are one of my guilty pleasures and this tastes like the gourmet version of that. When my husband gets home from work an hour later, he grabs some as well. Even after both of us eating a full meal, there are plenty of leftovers. I guess I know what I am eating for the next few days.
9:30 p.m. — I spend the evening working from the couch while my husband watches TV. We have a Roku and recently learned you can set it up to have the audio go through headphones, rather than TV speakers. Game changer. Now my husband can watch TV without distracting me. Eventually, he starts to doze off on the couch so we head to bed.
Daily Total: $120

Day Six

8 a.m. — I somehow sleep through my husband's alarm. When my alarm goes off, I struggle to get out of bed.
10:30 a.m. — The coffee isn't working today. I can't focus on my work. I try to bike some for the endorphins but that doesn't work either. I return to the couch and cuddle with the cat all morning.
11:30 a.m. — I heat up some leftover pasta for lunch and eat it while scrolling through documents for work. I get excited when I find an important document that we've been looking for and email my boss. The thrill of actually accomplishing something today gives me some energy for the afternoon.
4:30 p.m. — The afternoon is mostly calls and reviewing documents. I am trying to have document binders made for the partners on a case but am struggling to work with our document services team remotely. I am also reminded of the immense privilege I have that I can work from home while the employees that handle printing have to go into the office. Our firm implemented new procedures limiting the number of employees in the office at a time and extra cleaning measures but that still doesn't remove the risk. After a couple of calls, we are all on the same page about the binders and they get delivered that afternoon.
5:30 p.m. — I am back to struggling to focus on work. Since it's Friday, I sign off early and shift from working on the couch to relaxing on the couch. Rifle Paper is having a buy-one-get-one sale on art prints and I am sucker for cute wall art. I buy four prints and a desk pad because I can't stop myself. After some retail therapy, I tidy up the apartment before L. gets home. $78
7 p.m. — L. gets home later than usual because he picked up Chipotle for a patient. She has been in the hospital for three weeks and has at least another week to go. With all visiting hours shut down because of the COVID-19 risk, the patient is alone with no one to bring her anything. He said getting her Chiptole was the least he could do. I am constantly humbled by the care he gives for his patients. Whenever I get stressed about the silly parts of my job (like trying to get binders made), I am always reminded that I am not looking after people's lives or well-being and those binders don't actually matter.
9:30 p.m. — We spend our Friday night on the couch watching Superstore and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Then, my husband humors me and watches the new episode of RuPaul's Drag Race with me. He couldn't stand the show when we started dating. Now, he knows all the queens' names. Bianca del Rio is his favorite. When we can't find anything else to watch, we head to bed.
Daily Total: $78

Day Seven

9:30 a.m. — My cat wakes me up when I sleep too late for her liking. I pet her and scroll through Twitter in bed. The onslaught of coronavirus-related news is difficult to digest. All of the job loss and economic hardship is terrifying — on top of the disease. While my husband goes in and helps people every day, I feel useless stuck inside working at my stupidly high-paying job.
10:30 a.m. — I finally get out of bed. I am still stewing on the coronavirus news. To keep myself from spiraling, I research charities providing services to people who have lost their jobs and donate $500 to Feeding America. I also remember that I need to finish our wedding donations. We got married in January. Instead of traditional wedding gifts, we asked for charitable donations to organizations that we support. Since many people just gave us cash or checks rather than a direct donation, we needed to finish the job. I look up the final numbers on the gifts in our old wedding gift tracker spreadsheet. We end up giving $900 each to Legal Aid for D.C., RAICES, Catholic Relief Services, and Conservation International. $1,400
12 p.m. — I am really craving a biscuit and fried chicken. I know we should be spending money at local places but I order delivery from Popeye's. I love their chicken sandwich! I get a chicken sandwich, mashed potatoes, and a biscuit. It's $15 for food and fees and $10 for tip. $25
4:30 p.m. — My husband is home early! He was working in a COVID-19 free area of the hospital today which was pretty slow. The hospital canceled all elective procedures and people are otherwise trying to stay away. We open a bottle of wine and play with the cat.
6 p.m. — We make popcorn for dinner and watch Kim's Convenience on Netflix until we run out of new episodes. He heads to bed early while I stay up browsing the Bloomingdale's sale section.
Daily Total: $1,425
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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