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A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $125,000 Salary

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 marketing associate who makes $125,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Simple Modern tumbler.
Occupation: Marketing Associate
Industry: Tech
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: ~$125,000 ($85,000 base salary, plus ~$40,000 in bonuses and equity)
Net Worth: $249,300 (personal investment accounts: $102,000, Roth IRA: $14,000, crypto/NFT investments: $8,000, HYSA: $10,000, savings: $4,000, checking: $1,800, company equity: $74,000, 401(k): $28,500, car: $25,000 minus debt)
Debt: $18,000 (car loan)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,881.54
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my parents.)
Car Payment: $405.62
Car Insurance: $230
Gym Membership: $30
Curology: $19.95
Apple: $2.99
Spotify: $9.99
Phone: $0 (I'm on my parent's plan, but my work reimburses $50 a month, which I send to my parents.)
401(k): $250 (deducted from paycheck)
ESPP: $624 (deducted from paycheck)
Investments: $800
HYSA: ~$1,300 or what's left after expenses
Annual Expenses
AAA: $54
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. I grew up in an area known for its public school system, and almost everyone I knew went to college right after high school. My parents were able to fund my undergrad education with money from the sale of my grandparents' home after they'd passed away. I'm unbelievably grateful to my family for the privilege of graduating without debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was a touchy subject and the catalyst for most of my parent's fights growing up. I grew up in an affluent area, and my parents weren't ever tight on money (as far as I know), but they have different views on how to spend and save, hence the fights. Because of where I grew up, I understood the privilege that comes with having money, but I didn't know much about how to achieve said privilege other than saving. The financial knowledge that I have now is due vastly to the wisdom of my financially savvy friends and coworkers.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
My first job was tutoring when I was in high school. My first “real” job was working on campus in college for an organization that sends students into the local community to tutor kids. This job helped me start saving at a fairly young age.
Did you worry about money growing up?
In terms of my living situation and stability, no.
Do you worry about money now?
Not more than I should. Living in and planning to buy a home in such an HCOL city can be stressful, but I recognize how lucky I am to be well-equipped for my financial future.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I'm not financially responsible for myself. I still live at home, and my parents do not charge me rent. I contribute where I can in terms of grocery shopping, running errands, and taking care of my parents when needed, but overall, we operate similarly to roommates. I know it's a controversial subject, but I'm grateful for my parents' unwavering support when it comes to setting me up for financial independence in the future (hopefully very soon)! My family or my boyfriend would help if I had a major emergency that depleted my safety net.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents bought me a used car in college that I eventually sold for $10,000, and I used that amount toward the down payment on my current car.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — It's Friday! I wake up, tend to my plants, and check the progress of the gnarly sunburn I'm currently healing. My shoulders are on the mend, but I sense a serious peel in my future. I follow up with skincare (lots of Paula's Choice and sunscreen), then discover my scalp has begun peeling. Cue 30 minutes of very gross but very necessary scalp crisis management.
9 a.m. — Get online and clean up my inbox. Fridays are very relaxed work-wise. My friends influence me to get a Simple Modern tumbler from Amazon. While I love my current tumbler, it's too bulky for my car's cup holder, and I drive a lot so I know this smaller one will be useful! $24.08
10 a.m. — Take a break to make breakfast: smashed avocado on rosemary bread with an egg on the side. I have a protein bar later to get my protein up. I need to go grocery shopping pronto.
1 p.m. — I make do with what's left in the fridge and put together a prosciutto and mortadella sandwich and a Greek yogurt parfait for lunch. My body needs to ingest a vegetable desperately.
3 p.m. — Work's done! But now it's time for side work. TBH, the projects I'm working on right now are stressing me out more than I think they're worth, but I'm just trying to get them done because I've already poured a lot of energy into them.
5 p.m. — I finally get presentable and leave the house to meet up with my boyfriend, K. I pick him up a new pair of glasses at the mall then decide on Chinese for dinner. We split hot and sour soup, chow fun, and salt-and pepper pork chops. Since K. picked up a bunch of expenses on a trip we took last week, I pay. After, we get boba (my weakness), and I order an extra one for my mom. K. kindly pays for that. $52
9:30 p.m. — I get home and catch up with my parents, then hurry to do my nighttime skin care: cleansing bar, Alpha Arbutin, Curology, lash serum. Spend the night browsing Reddit and scrolling TikTok before going to sleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $76.08

Day Two

7 a.m. — Wake up. Enter sneaker raffle. Go back to sleep.
10 a.m. — Spoiler alert: I did not win the sneakers. I finally get out of bed and have toast, eggs, and strawberries for breakfast. I then laze around for longer than I'd like to admit and fall into a rabbit hole of celebrity…cosmetic dentistry? TLDR: a lot of your favorite celebs have veneers. And grills are very cool.
3 p.m. — After a lackluster lunch of Chinese leftovers, I muster the energy to go grocery shopping. I pick up my usual staples, which include bananas, avocados, Greek yogurt, almond milk, bagels, veggies, bread, ground turkey, Perfect Bars, and a few other things. I'm a shamefully bad cook, so most of my grocery trips are repetitive and easy. $62.38
5 p.m. — I have plans to go out with friends tonight, so I take my sweet time getting ready and am out the door by 7. I meet up with said friends, we pregame, then we meet up with some other friends to pregame more. As it goes. I successfully get to dance once we're out, so I consider the night a success. Throughout the night, I get one drink and an Uber for my friends and me. $31.95
1:30 a.m. — Best part of the night: snacks! I get back to my friend's apartment and eat the best boneless wings of my life (due to circumstance, not quality) while we start The Girl From Plainville. Is it just me, or is the acting in this show painfully bad? Make it home and get in bed by 3 a.m. Woof. $20
Daily Total: $114.33

Day Three

11 a.m. — To my great dismay, I must get up. To my great joy, I'm not hungover!
12 p.m. — My mom asks me to join her for lunch, so we make our way to new-ish Korean restaurant. I order soon tofu soup, and my mom gets gamjatang, and we share a plate of galbi. There's truly no better post-night-out meal... But then I start to feel sick toward the end of our lunch. My mom covers the bill.
2 p.m. — Remember when I said I wasn't hungover? I was deceived. Badly deceived. I'm nauseous and unwell for the next few hours until I fall asleep, and it passes, but I subsequently have to cancel my plans with friends. I get hangovers fairly easily and this reminds me that the temporary fun of drinking often doesn't outweigh the consequences.
6 p.m. — Now that I'm feeling better, it's dinnertime! I am unfortunately eating Chinese leftovers yet again, but I can at least appreciate a meal that goes a long way.
7 p.m. — I make plans to meet up with one of the friends I previously canceled on. I grab a milkshake, and we sit in my car and chat. This is one of our favorite things to do, and it never disappoints. Proof that you don't always need an exciting “activity” to have fun! $5
10 p.m. — My friend and I end up chatting for quite a while, so by the time I get home, it's time to prepare for the week ahead and go to bed. I FaceTime K. before bed like we always do and call it a night.
Daily Total: $5

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — I wake up extra early to squeeze in a trip to the gym before a busy day. I fuel up with a Dave's protein bagel and a Celsius, then hit legs with the geriatric Monday morning crew (I love them, don't come for me). One of my knees has been giving me problems lately, but I'm thrilled to notice that it's almost better!
10 a.m. — Once home and showered, I make a terrible protein smoothie and log into work. Mondays are always busy with meetings and budget/performance reporting, but at least my inbox is light.
12 p.m. — I toggle between meetings and getting ready for the day, then take a quick break to heat up leftover soon tofu for lunch. Apparently, I'm a big leftovers kind of girl.
2 p.m. — I set my Slack status to “lunch” and use this time to trek across town to my friend's new apartment. We work together from her place for a few hours before meeting up with another friend and heading to Dodger Stadium for a game against the Angels.
7 p.m. — I'm not a serious sports fan, but I love the energy at sports games — a lot of time, other's people's excitement excites me more than the actual sport taking place. You can't see the Dodgers without getting a Dodger Dog, so I grab one for myself and one for my friend who invited me, as well as a painfully overpriced water ($7 for water is a crime, but so is being dehydrated). $22.96
9 p.m. — The Dodgers are losing, and it's 9 p.m. on a Monday, so we head out early.
10 p.m. — I arrive home hungry because frankly, one hot dog is like a snack to me. I'm feeling lazy because it's late, so I quickly eat avocado toast and chips to tide me over until morning. It's lights out around midnight.
Daily Total: $22.96

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Up and at ‘em. I'm not going into the office (or anywhere for that matter) today, so I take my time this morning. Cinnamon-raisin bagel and an egg for breakfast.
10 a.m. — Work's on the busier side this morning due to meetings for both my job and the work I'm doing on the side, but obviously I manage to squeeze in time for Wordle and Quordle. I also make a withdrawal from my Roth IRA because my accountant informed me I contributed more than I was eligible to last year. I swear I live in fear of the IRS. Taxes and finances are so unnecessarily daunting.
12:30 p.m. — I'm hungry! I make one of my go-to lunches: high-protein pasta with Rao's sauce, ground turkey, a bit of Truff hot sauce, and green beans. I've been making a version of this meal for the past few weeks and dread the inevitable day that I get sick of it and have to think of something new.
4 p.m. — I'm procrastinating working on my freelance projects, so naturally, I bite the bullet on a Sephora purchase using my friend's Rouge account so I can reap the full 20% off. I try to practice self-control and only order Dr. Brandt Pores No More primer (my go-to), and a Fenty Beauty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint to try out. $67.45
5 p.m. — My dad calls me outside and shows me a large crack on his brand new car's windshield that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. He's been dealing with a lot lately and this is just another bummer thing to add to his plate. I do some research for him and it seems like insurance may be able to cover the replacement with little to no deductible, so that's promising at least!
6:30 p.m. — K. comes over with dinner, my king! We eat with my dad and then watch Jeopardy!, which is a family tradition of sorts. I particularly suck at getting answers correct today.
9 p.m. — K. heads out and I spend the rest of the night watching my current favorite show, Abbott Elementary, before sleeping around 11.
Daily Total: $67.45

Day Six

7:50 a.m. — Rise and shine! I'm going into the office and to a Clippers game tonight, so I do my full getting-ready routine while listening to Up First, Snacks Daily, and Morbid. I'm out the door around 9 with a bagel in hand.
10:20 a.m. — Finally in the office and I realize they catered bagels today. I may have already eaten a bagel, but absolutely nothing can stop me from consuming free food. I eat half an Asiago bagel, make a coffee, and grab snacks for my desk for the rest of the day.
11 a.m. — I have a one-on-one with my manager and talk about potential opportunities for me to take on more responsibility, which is a promising conversation if I choose to stay at my current company.
12:30 p.m. — A few of my coworkers and I head to a leisurely lunch because we have chill afternoons ahead of us. It's sweltering today, but I love the LA heat. I eat a curry chicken sandwich and a small salad before heading back to the office for another meeting. $12.50
5:30 p.m. — Wrap up sending monthly highlights to my manager and call it a day. I offer to drive my coworkers who are also going to the game.
6:30 p.m. — We're the first to arrive at the suite and take full advantage. I load up a plate with fruit, potato salad, and a hot dog and wait for the game to start. Other coworkers and their plus-ones trickle in little by little, including K.
7:30 p.m. — The game's a bit of a doozy with the Clippers crushing the Suns, but the Suns end up making a solid comeback in the last quarter.
10 p.m. — Drop my friends back at the office and make the trek home.
12 a.m. — I'm so tired, but somehow manage to scroll excessively on my phone before knocking out around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $12.50

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — I wake up with eye crusties because I cried during a dream about my childhood cat who passed away a few months ago. Losing a pet is genuinely one of the most emotional things I've been through. But, alas, I must get out of bed.
9 a.m. — Breakfast is avocado toast topped with a fried egg. Never gets old.
9:30 a.m. — Log on to work per usual.
11 a.m. — I have a minor emotional meltdown after seeing a TikTok about a rescue cat and subsequently deciding to look through my Snapchat memories of my cat. I cannot figure out why I intentionally do things that I know will make me sad. My dog magically senses my sadness and comes over to distract me. Thanks, man.
12 p.m. — I find out that a bunch of layoffs have just taken place in a department that's tangential to mine, and one of my friends has been affected. The layoffs aren't a huge surprise, but I spend the next hour or so exchanging information with my close colleagues about what happened and figuring out my game plan if I am let go.
1 p.m. — Lunch is pasta again with Rao's, turkey, and green beans. Still good though!
2 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day in a funk but manage to complete work and catch up on freelance emails. At some point during the blur of the workday, I eat a mint chocolate Perfect Bar.
5:30 p.m. — I take a short nap and wake up with a vision for a TikTok I want to make. I change into my gym clothes and get presentable, then spend an embarrassingly long time filming the video. I eventually post because honestly, who cares?
7 p.m. — Finally make it to the gym for another leg day. The way the crowd at my gym changes depending on the time of day is always fun to observe. Since it's late tonight, it's me and the high school boys who exclusively work out in groups.
9 p.m. — I make it home and guzzle down leftover chicken, veggies, and rice. Eating right after working out is gross to me sometimes, and this is one of those times.
9:15 p.m. — Chat with my parents in the living room. We talk through some things my dad's going through right now, and I update them on the layoffs at my job and my career plan for the upcoming year. Moments like these remind me how grateful I am to be close to my parents.
10 p.m. — Shower and close out the night by scrolling on my phone, what else? I'm asleep by 12:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $0
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