A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $100,000 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 manager working in Management Consulting who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on margaritas.
Occupation: Manager
Industry: Management Consulting
Age: 27
Location: Washington DC
Salary: $100,000 plus bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,572 (after taxes and healthcare/dental/disability deductions)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: ~$950 (I pay half of my boyfriend's mortgage each month for a junior one bedroom. This cost includes utilities and internet, which we split evenly.)
Loans: $0 (my parents generously paid for my undergrad and I don't carry a balance on my credit card)
Classpass: $60
Donations: $20 (several lump sum donations annually as well)
Phone: Covered by work
Netflix/HBO: Use my parents' and boyfriend's accounts
401(k): $1,250 (pre-tax)
HSA: $180 (pre-tax)
Commuter Costs: $40 (pre-tax)
Longer-term Mutual Fund Investments: $1,000 (I put my full post-tax annual bonus in this account as well)
Short-Term Savings: ~$400 (This varies month-to-month based on whether I have a big expense or not; I keep eight months living expenses in this account and move over lump sums into longer-term investments as it surpasses that amount. There are some months where I take from this account rather than contributing since I auto-transfer more in my longer-term investments, but I make sure to keep it over six months of living expenses and even it out with other months.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. My boyfriend, T., and I returned home from visiting family last night and are still several time zones behind, so 7:30 feels particularly painful. I turn off the alarm and set one for 8 instead. At 8, I get up and check the bus schedule to see what time I'll need to leave the house to get to therapy on time. I realize I need to leave at 8:20 to give a buffer for a late bus or traffic, so I get dressed quickly while T. makes coffee and then head out the door to catch the bus. The bus ride is $2 on my pre-loaded metro card.
8:45 a.m. — I arrive at my therapist's office 15 minutes early, so I duck into a nearby bakery since I know she has a patient right before me and may not be able to buzz me up yet. I grab a coffee and a banana and sit in the bakery until it is closer to my 9 a.m. appointment time. $3.80
8:55 a.m. — At 8:55, I head to the office for my appointment. The appointment goes well and it's nice to digest everything that happened over the holidays. I started therapy about four months ago and have been really happy and surprised with how much it's helped. It was hard to swallow the cost at first, but I've decided that it's something I want to prioritize. I'm still figuring out how the cost works with my monthly budget. I currently have a cushion in my short-term savings, so I'm giving it a few months (now that we're out of the holidays) to try to adjust my spending and work it in with my current savings auto-transfers. We schedule on an appointment by appointment basis so the cost varies by month (approximately three appointments/month). I pay $185 for the appointment (unfortunately, my insurance doesn't cover it, so it is all out of pocket). $185
10 a.m. — I'm close to Trader Joe's and our fridge is empty after two weeks away, so I walk over to get some staples. I pick up beans, avocados, tamales, cauliflower tabouli, wine, and a bottle of prosecco for New Year's Eve dinner. My post-vacation brain doesn't have the mental energy to think about meal prep yet, so I skip most of the meats and vegetables and plan to go to our nearby grocery store later. I walk to the closest bus stop and use my metro card to take the bus home. $66.33
11 a.m. — I get home and T. makes avocado toast for breakfast. After breakfast, he heads to his office to get some work done and I open my laptop to apply for a job posting I had saved. I've been looking for jobs in the non-profit sector, and it's been really inspiring to explore all of types of positions/organizations out there after feeling very uninspired at work lately. Part of the reason why I'm trying to save/invest a lot now is because I'm expecting a salary decrease when I jump to the non-profit sector and want to have a good amount invested and growing for later life expenses, especially given the cost of living in DC.
2 p.m. — I finish submitting my application and explore the kitchen for dinner ideas. I find frozen chicken thighs in the freezer and decide to try chicken piccata. I head to the Giant a few blocks away to pick up lemons and broccoli. The store is mobbed with pre-New Year's Eve crowds, but I find a short line and make it out without too much hassle. $5.31
6 p.m. — I fix a gin and tonic and start making the chicken piccata and broccoli. I look up a few recipes for chicken piccata with chicken thighs rather than tenderized chicken breasts, and see enough recipes out there to make it seem like a promising idea. When T. gets home, we open up the bottle of prosecco and eat. Unfortunately, the chicken thighs did not do well with the breading (maybe you still need to pound them to an even thickness?), but the broccoli and Prosecco are good! We watch a few episodes of Frasier since it's its last night on Netflix and then switch over to Parks and Rec before heading to bed around 11. Neither of us are big on staying up late, so we're happy with a quiet New Year's Eve in.
Daily Total: $260.44

Day Two

9 a.m. — We wake up and doze for a bit in bed. We visited both of our families over the holidays, so we're happy for some rest before heading back to work. An hour or so later, we wake up and decide to take advantage of restaurants doing New Year's Day brunch (much more our speed than New Year's Eve parties). Our first choice is packed, so we walk down the road to a local taqueria. I order tacos while T. gets a tostada and we both get celebratory margaritas ($35). T. pays since I made dinner last night.
1 p.m. — After brunch, I pay a few medical bills that came in the mail while we were away. I had a biopsy two months ago as a follow up to a surgery last spring (they were worried that the precancer they removed was deeper than they initially thought based on an abnormal pap, but luckily it came back benign!). I pay $281 for the biopsy and $54 for the pathology. When I called my insurance to ask for a price estimate before the procedure, they estimated closer to $900, so even though it's still a lot I feel relieved. I pay for the cost out of pocket since right now I'm in a position where I have a good amount in my short-term savings. I have money in my HSA that could cover it, but I've decided to not touch my HSA for now and invest it for now to save as a retirement supplement or for a medical emergency when I have less savings available. $335
5 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day finishing reading The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (highly recommend) and watching a couple of episodes of The Crown. We eat leftover Indian food that we had originally picked up on the way home from the airport. I drink some of the wine that I picked up from Trader Joe's (the wine selection/prices are the main reason that I still make the journey to Trader Joe's even though it's no longer my closest grocery store).
10 p.m. — T. finishes up some work in the living room and I head to bed around 10. He comes in soon after and decides to go to the office early tomorrow to finish up what he needs to do.
Daily Total: $335

Day Three

5 a.m. — I wake up to T.'s alarm and immediately go back to sleep. Turns out 5 a.m. was optimistic for him too, so he turns off the alarm and sets another for 6:15. At that point, we hit snooze several times before getting up at 7. We get into our morning routine where I make coffee and make the bed while T. showers and then T. makes breakfast while I shower. Then, we typically eat breakfast together and talk about what's coming up in our days. Today, T. has to run before eating breakfast since he has a lot to do before his first meetings, but he makes me avocado toast topped with hot sauce. After breakfast, I do a quick routine of drying my hair, flossing, and brushing, then applying moisturizer, BareMinerals foundation, and Burt's Bees. I put some coffee in a thermos with soy milk before heading out the door at 7:45.
8 a.m. — I get to the metro right as a train is pulling up! The Metro has gotten a lot of complaints lately, but my line is fairly reliable. My metro ride is $2.50. At the start of each month, my metro card fills up with $40 (tax-free), which I'll use and then supplement with post-tax money to get through the rest of the month. I could increase my contributions since my commuter costs have increased since first setting it up, but I've heard horror stories from co-workers about changing their contributions and then having several months where the money leaves their paycheck and never ends up on their metro card.
12 p.m. — Most of my clients cleared out for the holidays, so I come back to a total of five emails after being out for two weeks. The morning goes fairly slowly as everyone eases back into working, and I use the time to do month-end admin tasks for the project. The day is still going slowly by lunchtime, so I message my friend, N., who works across the street to see if she wants to take a walk to get lunch. I typically limit lunches out to Mondays and Fridays, but I had plans for after work today and didn't want to carry around my lunch container (one of my least favorite things about being a consultant is that I'm constantly shifting locations and carrying all my stuff with me, so a plastic lunch container is small but it adds up in purse/bag-space). The office has very limited selections close by, so we take advantage of the slow day to walk a bit farther and get something different. I get a falafel bowl with hummus and red cabbage ($10.17). We each pay for our own lunch. $10.17
4:45 p.m. — I am out of here! This project is slower than any other I've been on, so I'm trying to adjust to the pace. I try not to look for jobs during the workday unless I'm taking a break for lunch, so the job search doesn't help too much in keeping the days from dragging. Another $2.50 on my metro card to get home. On the ride, I start a new audiobook, The Chemist, that I've borrowed from the library (a great deal if your library system offers it).
6 p.m. — I originally had shopping plans with a friend after work, but those fell through so I stay in for the night. I make my standard dinner for when T. is working late and I don't have leftovers (can't go back to the chicken piccata yet) — a Trader Joe's tamale with salsa. I come from a hometown with very good Mexican food, so most of my family makes fun of me for liking Trader Joe's tamales but I think they're good! I check Classpass to see if there are last-minute spots in the Pilates class that I typically take Thursday nights. The class is full, so I do Pilates in my living room for about 15 minutes before getting bored (this is why I require classes with other people). I pour a glass of wine and browse jobs. T. gets home around 8 and we watch the Alex Trebek special on ABC. We read in bed afterward and turn out the lights around 10.
11 p.m. — I am still awake. Since I started writing this Money Diary, I've started narrating every part of my day to myself in my head and have had a hard time turning it off. I grab some melatonin from my nightstand and finally fall asleep.
Daily Total: $10.17

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — We wake up and go through the morning routine. I throw some frozen falafel and cauliflower tabouli in a plastic container since I ate out yesterday. It's a light lunch, but usually, there's extra food around on Fridays. I use $2 on my metro card to take the bus to work (I go to a few different locations during the week — metro is faster for some, and the bus is faster for others). The roads are fairly empty since a lot of people took the whole week off for the holidays, and I get in by 8:20. The office is pretty empty too, not a good sign for finding free food later. I grab some coffee from the office Keurig and outline my priorities for the day in my notebook.
11 a.m. — The day goes by quicker than yesterday (I knock out a few end of year reviews with my team), but I'm eager for the end of the week. Who knew a two-day week could be so long? I message a few of my friends to see if they are up for happy hour later (success!). We've all been having a hard time with work lately, so happy hours have definitely been getting more frequent. In theory, we try to switch off between going to each others' houses so the cost doesn't add up too much, but more often we end up going to a restaurant for food that sounds good. I grab my packed lunch and scroll through the news while I eat.
2 p.m. — My client confirms that next week will be a travel week. I take a look at my calendar and move a doctor's appointment I had scheduled for Monday night. I use OneMedical (my company covers the annual cost) because of their flexible scheduling, but the appointments usually cost me $180/appointment even with insurance so I don't mind delaying it a week after the bills earlier this week. The appointment is a follow up after starting on anxiety medication. I've been feeling good so far with the medication, but I'm interested to see how it goes on a travel week with my client. We had one client recently leave in part due to inappropriate behavior and there are several other inappropriate situations that we're monitoring. I've been coordinating with my leadership to try to resolve the issues, but it's had a major impact on the team.
2:07 p.m. — I find a free bag of Cheezits leftover from a meeting! I snack on them as I get ready for a 2:30 call with a non-profit I volunteer with. It's a nice way to break up the day. I have a good amount of autonomy on the new initiative I'm helping with, so it's nice to feel like I'm being useful while also feeling like I'm making a difference.
4:30 p.m. — My friend, K., and I take the bus up to happy hour where we meet up with our other friend, N. The restaurant has raised their prices, but we were never sure how they were making money with the old prices. I get a couple of glasses of wine and split a few appetizers. K. pays and I venmo her $40. $40
7 p.m. — T. stops by at the end of happy hour when he's off work. We decide to go to an Italian restaurant down the road for date night. We typically do a dedicated date night in the middle of the week and cook at home together or go to a neighborhood restaurant. Since I'll be traveling next week, we do it tonight instead. I get a cocktail, T. gets two beers, and we split a pasta dish. It's pricey for pasta but tastes amazing. We split the bill down the middle and I pay $25 including tip. T. orders a Lyft home. $25
Daily Total: $65

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — I struggle to wake up and get ready for 9:30 coffee with a friend. I make it out of the door just in time to catch the bus (one of my favorite things about our house is all the bus routes nearby — I can get nearly anywhere).
9:30 a.m. — I meet my friend, V., for coffee at Dolcezza. I order an herbal tea because I have a massage afterward and don't want to have caffeine in my system. $3.30
11 a.m. — V. and I walk around the neighborhood once we're done with our drinks and we end our walk at the spa where I'm scheduled for my massage. I didn't use Classpass while I was out of town, so I had a lot of credits that were set to expire on Monday. The spa had mixed reviews online, but I decided to give it a shot and book a massage to use up the credits. It's a somewhat odd experience (the place seems deserted for the first ten minutes I sit in the lobby), but the massage is great! I tip $10 (their typical massage price is $50), and then walk home. $10
1 p.m. — T. has already cleaned the house and is out grocery shopping when I get back. I heat up a tamale for lunch and then venmo him for groceries when he gets back. We usually split groceries from our nearby grocery store (where we get the bulk of our groceries) and then I pay Trader Joe's bills (I drink most of the wine) and he pays for our bi-weekly vegetable delivery. $15
5 p.m. — Some of T.'s friends are in town and we have dinner plans with them tonight. We invite them over for drinks so that they can see our place before heading out. After a couple of cocktails/beers, T. orders a Lyft to the restaurant where we have a reservation. The restaurant has small plates, so we order several for the table. Very impressed with the food! Most of the table has a couple of margaritas as well. We split the bill between the two couples, and I venmo T. for my portion. $50
10 p.m. — We head over to another friend's birthday party after dinner. T. orders a Lyft to the party and we hang out there for a few hours before needing to call it a night. I order a Lyft home and we're in bed quickly after. $12.35
Daily Total: $90.65

Day Six

1 a.m. — I am awake and my back is so sore. Maybe that massage wasn't a great idea.
11 a.m. — We have a very slow morning in bed, and finally make it up around 1 p.m. for eggs, bacon, and coffee. I'm dreading the next week of travel, but happy to have a week of covered expenses after all the eating out this weekend.
4 p.m. — I walk down to a pilates class while listening to my audiobook (with this class, I get my Classpass credits down to the level where they'll all roll over to the next month before they expire tomorrow). It's a good class, but my back is still sore after the massage yesterday. Afterward, I walk back home and resist the temptation to pick up dinner. The pilates studio is in my old neighborhood, so I have lots of favorites places there that I don't get to go to much anymore.
6 p.m. — I get home from pilates, and make myself falafel, cauliflower tabouli, and olive bread toast. I almost pour a glass of wine to calm some nerves about traveling tomorrow, but I opt for moringa tea instead to give my liver some help after the holidays and the weekend. T. and I read in bed before falling asleep. I finish the last book I was reading (All We Ever Wanted — nice book, quick read), and start a new one (The Wife Between Us).
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — I wake up a bit earlier than usual to catch my flight. T. graciously wakes up with me so that we can do our morning routine. It doesn't take me that much longer to get ready when we don't do it, but it's a nice way to start the day, especially before a week apart. It's a travel day, so meals and travel will be expensed.
7:30 a.m. — I take a Lyft to the airport ($12 expensed) and catch up with coworkers who are traveling on this trip. I get distracted by our conversation and don't have time to buy a coffee before boarding. I've read all the Buzzfeed articles warning me to never drink coffee on the plane, but I go for it anyway when they come around with drinks. I spend most of the flight reading my book and getting a few minor work things done.
12 p.m. — My team and I pick up a rental car and grab lunch at the closest sandwich place ($11.53 expensed) before heading to our first meeting. I grab a few extra snacks to get through the afternoon since I know the day will feel especially long with the time difference.
5 p.m. — After our meetings, I get some work done in the hotel before meeting my team downstairs for dinner. I do some bodyweight exercises in my room, but that's probably the extent of my exercise for the week (I will forever be impressed by people who can work out regularly on travel weeks).
7 p.m. — My team meets up to grab tacos for dinner ($33.75 expensed) and calls it an early night. I turn on The Bachelor (guilty pleasure) as I start to doze off and am out soon after that.
Daily Total: $0
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