A Week In Orange County, CA, On $30 Per Hour

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a marketing manager working in consumer goods who makes $30 per hour and spends some of her money this week on First Aid Beauty moisturizer.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Consumer Goods
Age: 29
Location: Orange County, CA
Income: $30/hour
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,750-$1,850
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $300 for my half. I live with my fiancé, N. My future father-in-law is our landlord. He's helping us save up for a house (which is incredibly generous), so we just pay HOA fees for now.
Student Loans: $250 (My parents pay for most of it — again, super grateful — and I pay a small portion.)
Health Insurance: $70
Phone: $0 (My company reimburses me.)
Car: $350 (My payments are $280/month, but I throw more at it.)
Car Insurance: $128 (I feel like I'm overpaying for this. I need to renegotiate.)
Netflix: $5.50 for my half
HBO Go: $7.50 for my half
Internet: $40 for my half
Electric: ~$25 for my half
Exercise Classes: $129
Vanguard Roth IRA: ~$460 (I max this out yearly.)
Retirement: $400 (My company matches up to 3%.)
Savings: I save about $500+ a month in cash. All in all, I have around $30,000-$40,000 in various accounts (retirement, savings, Roth IRA). I feel kind of behind since N. is a superstar at saving and investing. He's taught me a lot of good tips and tricks.

Day One

8:15 a.m. — Wake up! N. and I went to Big Bear with our friends for the weekend. The weather was horrendous last night. No snow, just gross cold rain. Our friends make us breakfast this morning, which is awesome. We eat eggs, sausage, Greek yogurt, tomatoes, and coffee.
2 p.m. — On the road back home. The road is super curvy — I try not to get carsick. The scenery is beautiful, so I just try to focus on that. We start talking about the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson scandal. I don't know why I care, but I do. I haven't watched an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians in over five years, yet I still click on any BuzzFeed article that mentions their drama. WHY?
5:30 p.m. — Finally make it back to N.'s parents' house. His sister, brother-in-law, and adorable niece are over. She's one and a half and talks A LOT. N. is going to be the best dad ever. He takes her outside with him to play with our dog. She's loving it. He's so patient with her and loves talking to her.
7:30 p.m. — We leave N.'s parents' house and head to the grocery store so I can pick up some lunch and dinner stuff for this week. I purchase chicken, blueberries, carrots, asparagus, salad, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, English muffins, marinade for salmon, turkey wraps, tangerines, Flamin' Hot Nacho Doritos (!!!), and some other small miscellaneous items. Normally N. and I split groceries down the middle, but he recently got laid off, so I'm trying to help as much as I can, even though he tells me not to. I don't add the groceries into Splitwise and hope he doesn't notice. $52.70
8:30 p.m. — Finally home, and N. helps me put all the groceries away. I actually don't mind grocery shopping and volunteer for it as one of my “chores” that we split. I hate vacuuming the condo and cleaning the shower, so N. does that instead. I remember I have a $50 gift card at Macy's, so I put it to good use and purchase a pair of Levi's and a Clinique facial scrub ($18.61 after the gift card). $18.61
Daily Total: $71.31

Day Two

6:20 a.m. — Out of the shower and ready to do my routine. I hope I don't sound too American Psycho–ish with my regimen, but I use: Anastasia Beverly Hills Pencil, Smashbox eye primer, Urban Decay eyeshadow in Toasted, a dark brown pencil, Cover Girl mascara, SPF 30 moisturizer/sunscreen, Smashbox foundation, Hourglass Bronzer (so expensive, but it takes me years to go through bronzers), and Tarte blush. Then I finish it off with Urban Decay All Nighter spray and grab a lipstick to apply in the car on my way to work. It sounds intense, but it only takes about 15 minutes.
7:15 a.m. — Finish packing my lunch and I'm out the door. My commute is pretty long, but I deal with it by listening to podcasts. I really like Over My Dead Body, Court Junkie, and Generation Why. I'm into true-crime podcasts.
10 a.m. — I'm training a new person on some of my job duties as my role continues to expand. I have a great boss who is really awesome and encouraging. She wants me to be more focused instead of a jack-of-all-trades, so I can grow in my career path without being bogged down by smaller projects. I made it my mission in 2019 to volunteer for the hard stuff and figure it out as I go. She supports this initiative and tells me not to be afraid to just go for it. I read Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office, and it was encouraging for me. I've just started taking leaps of faith and not taking things so personally.
12:15 p.m. — I work on my schedule for the week. N. and I have a food tasting on Thursday night for our wedding. I am thrilled. Probably the only fun part of wedding planning, TBH. I check workout classes and notice my favorite instructors are teaching this week. I schedule four classes to attend. I try to do a minimum of three per week. And I schedule a manicure for this evening because I need one bad — my gels are peeling. Ugh. I text N. to let him know the dinner plans — we're making healthy chicken parm tonight. (It's basically baked instead of pan-fried and cut into thinner pieces.) It's a super easy and cheap weeknight recipe that gives us a few days of leftovers.
4:45 p.m. — Hit the road and try to beat out traffic. It's surprisingly pretty clear today, and it only takes me 40 minutes to get to the nail salon. I get a gel manicure — the same color I always get. The ladies at the salon laugh at me because they know “the usual” and have it out for me when I make an appointment. I'm a creature of habit. $36
6:30 p.m. — Remember that I forgot to get spaghetti and parsley for tonight's meal. I also grab Parmesan cheese and hummus. $10.70
8 p.m. — Dinner was really good, and we're all wrapped up with cleaning up. We flip on the Lakers vs. Clippers game. We're Clippers fans — which is always disappointing. Clippers, Angels, and Rams. Two out of three of those teams had disappointing seasons last year.
Daily Total: $46.70

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I'm up before my alarm. I scroll Reddit and read the news. I don't know why I continue to torture myself with the headlines first thing in the morning. I guess I'd rather know than be totally oblivious. N. and I just had a conversation last night about how some people say “I just don't follow politics” and how that in itself is a privilege.
8 a.m. — Why do I have 30 emails already? I scan them to make sure nothing is on fire. Thankfully, it's not. A really annoying project I've been working on has been figured out, which is super exciting. I make coffee and an English muffin, go through the rest of my emails, and set a to-do list for the day.
11 a.m. — I check who's teaching my barre class today, and it's my favorite instructor. She's my soul sister. We're birthday-twin Capricorns who love Bravo shows. During her last class, she started the warm-up with “Don't Be Tardy for the Party.” This reminds me that I haven't watched the latest episode of Vanderpump Rules yet. I make a mental note to catch up on it when I get home tonight. N. pretends like he hates it, but he actually loves it. He gives all kinds of opinions about the show.
2:30 p.m. — In our team meeting, my boss goes on a two-minute speech about how awesome I am. I am mortified (I don't like attention), but it also feels really great. I've had a tough year with lots of learning, so it's great to see it all pay off finally.
8 p.m. — Finish eating leftovers from last night and flip on Vanderpump Rules. I love this show. I'm screaming at Kristen sage-ing Stassi out of her apartment. N. is also as amused. I mention that I want to catch up on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and he yells “nooooooo.” Housewives are something he can't get behind — he hates how they all talk over each other when they argue. Fair enough. He watches Vanderpump and Southern Charm with me, so I'll take what I can get.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — I was super slow today getting out of the house. Thank goodness I packed my workout clothes and lunch last night. Does anybody else feel more motivated to work out with cute workout clothes? I have these killer leggings from Lululemon (N. got them for me for Christmas) that I get excited to wear. You can say that they spark joy. I totally feel like I fit in with the rest of O.C. when I put them on. Ha!
8:10 a.m. — Arrive at the office, make coffee, and check emails. I'm thrilled and feeling way more relaxed about a project launch we have tomorrow.
4:50 p.m. — I see Madewell is having a sale. I love everything Madewell, but I'll wait until everything is on sale at Nordstrom Rack. Out the door and on my way to barre class!
6:45 p.m. — Barre class is finished. She made us do mountain climbers. I HATE mountain climbers. But I feel great after class and my skin is glowing. I wish I could mimic this look all the time. I've tried tinted moisturizers, skin tints, etc. — but it's never the same.
7 p.m. — Arrive home — we're making turkey tacos for dinner! N. and I make tacos and chat about our days. He's thinking of switching careers and has been doing some tests and studying at home while job searching to see if he's interested. I'm proud of him for not wallowing in defeat and thinking of trying something new.
9 p.m. — Read Bad Blood and doze off by accident. I wake up to N. moving my Kindle, charging my phone, and tucking me in for bed. I guess those mountain climbers got to me.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5:45 a.m. — I set my alarm earlier today so I can get to work earlier. I want to get a head start on some projects I have before everyone else gets in. Today is also the product launch, which gives me anxiety. I read my horoscope (lol), and it says that success is not necessarily defined by doing everything 100% right, but by being able to roll with the punches. I needed this today.
7:10 a.m. — After dragging, I'm running out the door. I wanted to leave a little earlier, but I'll still beat traffic. I take the coast to work. I'm not complaining. I turn on Spotify's #ThrowbackThursday playlist, and it's “Women of the '90s”–themed. I jam out to Meredith Brooks's “Bitch.” I'm trying to enjoy my commute instead of fighting it. It's a work in progress.
7:45 a.m. — Clock in and immediately check emails and do some product testing. It seems like everything is going okay. I've been here for four years now, and I think about making more money elsewhere, but I really love what I do, I love my coworkers, and my boss is really invested in me. It doesn't seem wise for me to leave just because of cash right now.
10:30 a.m. — Email my mom about our wedding food tasting today. We're all going together, and I think it will be really fun. It's open-house style, with lots of stations set up. I'm my mom's only child, and sometimes I think she's more excited for this wedding than I am. I don't mean that as a knock against N. — we talk about just wanting to get it over with and enjoy being married. Our families are pretty big, so there's a lot of excitement around the big day.
5:15 p.m. — Meet up with my parents and head into the tasting. OMG, the food is so good. The filet mignon sandwiches are the bomb, but they're an extra $20 a person. No. They have a craft cocktail bar, which is neat, but a definite no for me. It's interactive, so you muddle your own drinks and put fruit and syrup in them. I guess that's cool, but that's the last thing I want to do when I'm drunk. The rest of the options are fabulous, and it's really hard to make a decision.
8:30 p.m. — Stop and get gas at Costco. Gas is insanely expensive right now: $3.23 a gallon?!? $29.70
11 p.m. — Stay up late reading ghost stories about New Orleans and doze off.
Daily Total: $29.70

Day Six

7:20 a.m. — I spent too much time petting the dog this morning, so now I'm running behind. Traffic is lighter on Fridays, though, so I'm not worried. I listen to a “Women of Rock” playlist on Spotify and jam out to “You're So Vain” and “Celebrity Skin.”
8 a.m. — Stop and grab a bagel. The bagel is almost $4, which is totally insane. $3.98
4:50 p.m. — Leave the office and text N. He's at his parents' house helping them with some stuff and hanging out with his sister and niece. On my way, I stop by Sephora and pick up First Aid Beauty's Coconut Smoothie Moisturizing Primer. I am a FAB stan, so I'm excited to try it. I notice my skin is starting to become more combination and less oily as I get older. $28
7 p.m. — Head out to meet N.'s coworkers at...Olive Garden. We're cracking up because there are so many unique restaurants in the area and we choose OG. Sometimes you just have to have unlimited breadsticks. N. pays for our portion of the bill.
Daily Total: $31.98

Day Seven

7:50 a.m. — Wake up for my barre class. I'm a huge morning person, but it seems difficult to get up this morning. I slap on my new moisturizing primer to perk up my skin a bit. Maybe I've found it — the product that makes it look like I just worked out. It leaves a really natural glow on my skin.
9:45 a.m. — Class is over and I head home to make breakfast with N. Pretty standard — toast, eggs, and bacon. Nothing special. We are meeting his mom later to look at wedding bands.
3 p.m. — Head to the jeweler and try on my custom band. I can't wait to see what it will look like when it's finished. N.'s mom keeps telling me she wants to buy me earrings for my wedding day, which I think is such a lovely gesture. After the appointment, we go grocery shopping with her and she buys us Vietnamese coffee.
7 p.m. — N. and I head to the mall before it closes to get a gift for my stepdad's birthday. We try five different stores to find the perfect gift, and decide on a lightweight flannel shirt. N. and I split it. $40
11 p.m. — Finally finish Bad Blood. What a fantastic book and a wild ride. Highly recommend this one.
Daily Total: $40
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