A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $58,000 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 millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a Marketing Specialist working in Digital Media who makes $58,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on pumpkins.
Occupation: Marketing Specialist
Industry: Digital Media
Age: 23
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $58,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,671 (plus additional income of $150-$300, I professionally organize on the side)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I recently relocated to D.C. after spending six years in Boston. I grew up here, so I'm staying at home with my parents until I find an apartment I really love)
Student Loans: $1,725 (Down to ~$14,600 owed from ~$32,500, I'm paying this much right now since I'm not paying rent)
Storage Unit: $246 (I'm renting a 100 square foot storage unit for all of my crap until I move back into my own place)
Phone: $0 (I'm still on my family plan)
Netflix/Hulu: $0 (Thanks to friends and family)
Spotify: $2.50 (For my portion of a "family" plan that I share with friends)
Health Insurance: $0 (I'm still on my family plan)
401(k): $0 (I've only been at my new job for about a month, so my 401(k) contributions should start kicking in with my next paycheck. I'll start out with 5% in my 401(k). I currently have ~$9,100 in a 401(k) from my last job.)
Roth IRA: $0 (Same situation as my 401(k), I'll start out with 5% in a Roth IRA.)
Personal savings: ~$600 (This number will go down once my 401(k) and Roth IRA deposits kick in. I currently have ~$11,500 in my savings account.)

Day One

7:40 a.m. — I wake up after snoozing my alarm for a full hour. I went to bed a little later than I usually do on a work night, so my body is not having it this morning. I (woefully) climb out of bed and get ready for the day. My parents are having a beach weekend with some friends (those crazy kids!) so I sing badly to myself as I do my makeup.
8:40 a.m. — I'm leaving the house a little later than I wanted to, but it's Friday and shit happens. I grab my mom's mandoline (the cooking utensil, not the instrument) from the kitchen before I leave. I'm making dinner with friends tonight and promised I'd bring it along. I also toss her cut-proof gloves into my bag so that no one loses part of their hand while slicing cucumbers later. Someone is taking pity on me somewhere and I only have to wait a couple minutes for the bus this morning. Yay!
9:20 a.m. — I get to work and get organized for the day. Fridays are pretty relaxed, which is a nice change of pace from my last job where Friday was the busiest day of the week. I scan my to-do list, and most of what I have to take care of needs to wait until after a call I have this afternoon anyway.
10 a.m. — My co-worker, Z., is going to grab breakfast and asks the rest of us if anyone wants to tag along. I'm pretty hungry and don't have anything time sensitive to work on right now, so I join her. On our way to a café around the corner, she asks how I'm settling in. I really like Z., she's super easy to talk to. At the café, I grab a hard-boiled egg, some turkey sausage, and an orange juice. $4.92
11 a.m. — This morning while on the bus I saw an advertisement for RuPaul's Werq the World tour. Since they're stopping in D.C., I text my friend L. to see if she would want to go. We decide it would be fun, and plan to ask our moms and her sister if they'd want to tag along. There may be a ticket purchase in my near future!
12 p.m. — My team is having lunch with our CEO today and he sprang for pizza! I grab a couple of slices of cheese and some spinach salad, and we settle in for our meeting.
2 p.m. — We finish up with our lunch meeting and I think it went really well. We mostly used the time to ask him questions about the company's road map. My last company was pretty massive, and I never would have had an opportunity like this there, so this meeting was a really cool experience. Now for some calls!
4:15 p.m. — Just got an alert that a coat I'm absolutely in LOVE with from J. Crew is on sale, but it's still $198. That's 70 bucks cheaper than it was, but still way more than I feel comfortable spending. I'll keep my eye on it — I feel like they mark things down all the time and are always having additional percent off sales. If I can score it for $150, I might cave. I also need to replace my black pointed-toe boots that finally crapped out on me after about four years. Why is maintaining wardrobe essentials so expensive?
4:30 p.m. — I tie up a few remaining loose ends and pack up for the day. I need to pick up a couple of things for side dishes tonight, so I look up the closest grocery store to my friend's apartment and hop on the metro over there.
5:05 p.m. — I get to the store and head for the produce. I grab two large cucumbers, a pound of baby spinach, and a small bunch of green onions. I also pick up a small bag of bruschetta and a package of fig and olive goat cheese in case anyone is hungry ahead of dinner. (Me. It's me. I'm hungry.) $19.25
5:30 p.m. — I get to my friend E.'s apartment and he lets me in. I haven't seen him in over a month and I missed him! I also haven't seen this apartment yet — he and his boyfriend moved into it not that long ago and it's really nice. I start on my side dishes while E. works on getting the main dish ready. E.'s boyfriend gets home not long after we start cooking and the three of us chat, prep ingredients, and snack on the bruschetta I brought along.
6:15 p.m. — L. arrives and she brought quick pickled carrots! This dinner is going to be so good. We finish up our cooking, and then sit down and start in on braised tofu over rice, tteokbokki, spicy cucumber salad, quick pickled carrots, and sesame spinach salad.
9:50 p.m. — We watch Gaga: Five Foot Two (E. had never seen it!) and when it ends all of us are yawning and practically falling over, so we call it a night. I could metro home, but it would probably take me over an hour and I'm really not feeling it. I check Uber prices and cringe, but bite the bullet anyway. $19.61
10:25 p.m. — I get home, take the trash bins in, and grab a couple of packages that were left at the door today. My boyfriend D. is going to come over for a bit. I settle in before he arrives.
10:45 p.m. — D. gets here and we're both so tired it's kind of comical. We snuggle up in bed and put on The Return of the King.
??:?? — I honestly have no idea what time it is. D. and I fell asleep, but he has to get back home tonight. He gets out of bed, grabs his things, and gives me a kiss goodbye. I think I say goodbye, but honestly, who knows?? I am as close to asleep as a person can be with their eyes open. He heads out, and as soon as I hear the front door close behind him, I'm out again.
Daily Total: $43.78

Day Two

9:15 a.m. — I wake up, and I doubt a person has ever been so happy to remember it's a Saturday. I lounge around in bed for awhile. My friend L. and I are going to go to a fall festival today and I am SO excited. I'm such a dork for fall things. Pumpkin patches! Apple picking! Cider! I can't wait. She's not picking me up until 12:30, so I'm in no rush.
10:30 a.m. — L.'s birthday was this week and I haven't had a chance to give her presents yet. I wrap them up and set them next to my bag so I won't forget them. I rinse off and throw some makeup on, then hang around for a little while before L. arrives.
12:40 p.m. — L. texts that she's here! I meet her at the car and we decide to stop for lunch on our way to the festival. We go to a chicken place we both like and I get buffalo boneless wings, lemon pepper fries, and a Diet Coke. The fries are so good, but I barely make a dent in them. These portions are huge! $12.71
2:15 p.m. — We get to the festival and there are dogs and children EVERYWHERE. We wait in line to pay for admission and then head in. $12
3:30 p.m. — We spent the last hour or so petting all kinds of farm animals, trying out the corn maze, and wandering around enjoying the atmosphere. We decide to head into the market for cider and donuts (both absolute necessities, obviously). L. pays for our ciders and I grab a half dozen apple cider donuts for us. I also pick up a water bottle because I'm parched and didn't think to bring my own. $10.07
4 p.m. — Time for pumpkins! We wander around looking for the best ones to take home and end up chatting with a sweet young family that's having a photoshoot with their two young girls, two (BIG) doggies, and lots of pumpkins. I know my mama wanted a few pumpkins for the house, so I pick out four white ones and pay for them before we head home. $12
5 p.m. — We decide to go back to my place to hang out for awhile and L. opens up her presents. She loves them! I'm so happy to see that I picked out some winners. We settle in to watch Hocus Pocus because how could we not? L. also lets me know that she was able to get tickets for Werq the World. Yay! I Venmo her for mine. $44
8 p.m. — We're just now hungry for dinner, and we decide to order Ethiopian. We split a veggie combo and an order of tibs. I Venmo her for my half. $21.50
11 p.m. — L. heads home, and I start to get ready for bed.
1 a.m. — I get distracted putting some of my clothes away and before I know it I am re-organizing my vanity drawer and going through paperwork to make sure it was filed correctly. This happens sometimes when I'm feeling anxious — I usually get through a couple hours of organizing and/or cleaning before I even realize that I'm experiencing anxiety. I groan when I realize what time it is, and climb into bed.
Daily Total: $112.28

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I wake up, and before I even open my eyes I know it's going to be a rough day. I'm feeling very depressed and unmotivated. It's overcast outside, so I doze in and out of sleep for a bit before I roll over and scroll through Instagram, watch a couple of random YouTube videos, and just lay around.
11:30 a.m. — I finally get up and I figure if I change my sheets it might help keep me out of bed for the rest of the day. I strip my old ones and set them aside to wash later, then make my bed up with my clean set.
12 p.m. — My stomach is starting to growl, so I go downstairs and heat up leftover Ethiopian food. I bring it back up to my room and eat while I watch Criminal Minds on Netflix.
2 p.m. — My plan to not get back in bed has failed. I curl up on top of my duvet cover and cover up with a blanket because for some reason it makes me feel less guilty than getting fully in bed. I put on an episode of The Handmaid's Tale because I'm almost done with season three and I might as well make a dent in that.
3 p.m. — I'm tired of fighting sleep, so I let myself nap.
6 p.m. — I wake up, not really feeling any more rested. I'm honestly feeling a little bit embarrassed writing this, but I'm documenting my week and this happens to be how one of my days is going. No point in trying to sugar coat it, I guess.
7:30 p.m. — I'm hungry, and I know I should cook or eat leftovers, but all I want is Indian food. I cave and order paneer masala and naan off of Uber Eats. It should be here in 25-30 minutes, so I figure I'll shower while I wait. $21.21
7:50 p.m. — I get out of the shower and I do feel a little bit better. I check Uber Eats and my food is about five minutes away, so I get dressed, comb out my hair, and meet my delivery person at the door.
10:30 p.m. — D. was mountain biking in Virginia all day for a friend's birthday and he didn't get home until 10. He knows I have been having a hard day and asks if I want him to come by. I think it would be nice to snuggle up with him, so he comes over. We get settled in bed and put on an episode of Tiny House Nation on Netflix. We fall asleep right when the episode ends.
Daily Total: $21.21

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — I wake up and I should get out of bed right away, but D. is a sweetie and asks to cuddle for a few more minutes. After about 5 minutes I get up and start to get ready for the day. I'm definitely not feeling top notch, but I am feeling a lot better than I was yesterday.
8:15 a.m. — I say goodbye to D. and he heads home. I throw leftover Indian and leftover spaghetti in my bag so I have lunch options for the next couple of days, grab a Luna protein bar for breakfast, and then head out. We have guys coming by to work on our chimneys today, so I hide a house key for them and move my mom's car onto the street so it's out of their way.
9 a.m. — I get into the office and there's like one whole person here. Weird. I pop my food in the fridge, get a glass of water, and settle in to reply to client emails. One person in particular is driving me a little crazy, but I try not to let it get to me.
9:30 a.m. — One of my co-workers makes it in and she looks really frazzled. She says the trains were a nightmare, apparently because two trains hit each other earlier this morning — yikes. I guess that explains the super quiet office.
11:30 a.m. — I'm already hungry, but if I eat now I know I'll be starving by the time dinner rolls around. I head to the kitchen and make myself a coffee before heading back to my desk. I'm feeling a little restless — this is only the beginning of my fifth week on the job, so I'm still ramping up. At this point I'd rather be a little bored than be totally overwhelmed, but it's definitely an exercise in patience and pacing myself.
12:45 p.m. — I decide on leftover Indian for lunch and refill my water while I heat it up. I read Money Diaries (heyy) while I eat at my desk.
2:30 p.m. — Shit. It's my mama's birthday on Wednesday and I meant to wrap her present this weekend while she and my dad were away. Oh well, I'll just have to be sneaky about getting wrapping materials into my room tonight or tomorrow night. They get back today and it'll be nice to have them around again. I don't mind alone time at all, but being alone in their house for more than a couple of days starts to feel pretty lonely. We dropped off my little sister at college (ahh!) almost a month ago, so it's just been me at the house if they're gone.
3:15 p.m. — I snack on a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn from the kitchen. Some of the pieces are good and some are truly terrible, so it's sort of like playing Russian roulette with low calorie snack food. My boss walks by my desk holding what looks like an iced espresso and yells "I'm dying!" before collapsing on the sofa. What a mood.
4:30 p.m. — I text my mama to see what she's thinking for dinner and to ask if she wants me to pick up anything from the grocery on my way home. Turns out my dad is going to a show at the Black Cat tonight, so it will just be the two of us. We decide to make grilled cheese, so no grocery trip for me!
5:45 p.m. — I get home and change into comfy clothes. My mama has “wine club” every Monday (also known as the time that she and some of the neighbor ladies set aside to get together and talk about literally everything but wine, while drinking wine). I chill out and watch the last episode of The Handmaid's Tale season 3 before she gets home.
6:45 p.m. — I finish up my episode (it was SO good!) just as my mom gets back. We catch up on each other's weekends while we get dinner ready. She has a grilled cheese with sharp cheddar, sliced apple, and honey mustard, and I have mine with sharp cheddar, sliced apple, and harissa. It is STUPIDLY good. Like, I could eat two more of them good. We sit down and watch Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which I've been wanting to see since it came out.
8:45 p.m. — The movie ends (I really liked it) and I get ready for bed. After saying goodnight, I get settled in bed around 9. I watch an episode of Criminal Minds (can you tell I like TV?) and knock out around 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:15 a.m. — I wake up actually feeling rested, and start to get ready for the day. I chat with my mom while I do my makeup and she lets me know that she and my dad are grabbing dinner with some family tonight. She asks if I want to tag along, but I think I'm going to do some organizing after work. I've tackled a few rooms for family friends of ours in the last month or so, and I'm in the middle of getting their basement tidied up.
8:30 a.m. — I grab a Luna protein bar before leaving to catch my bus. My ride is eventful this morning: I'm super short, so when I sit down on the back seats of the bus my feet don't touch the ground. At one point the bus came to a sudden stop, and since I'm wearing mules, one of them flies off. Such a lovely morning.
9:15 a.m. — I get off the bus and decide that I'm going to buy myself breakfast. I pop into a café and grab hash browns, a hard-boiled egg, and turkey sausage. I notice that they have biscuits, and after some (read: very, very little) deliberation, I grab one of those too. I pay for my food and an orange juice and head out. Honestly, if you can't treat yourself on a random Tuesday for literally no reason at all, when can you treat yourself, am I right? $6.38
9:25 a.m. — I get into the office and get settled for the day while eating my breakfast.
11 a.m. — I check my personal email and J. Crew is having a 40% off sale! The coat that I've been eyeing would now be $160.80, and the boots I need would be $118.80. Even though ~$280 is much more appealing than almost $470, I just can't bring myself to pull out my wallet. The sale is going on through Friday, so I'll think about it some more. As much as I love the coat, I need the boots more. Maybe I'll just get those…
1:15 p.m. — Time for lunch! I head to the kitchen to heat up the spaghetti I brought in yesterday.
6 p.m. — I get home from work and catch up with my dad for a bit. I haven't seen him since Wednesday. I honestly feel so lucky to be able to see my family all of the time now — I spent six years missing them, and it had gotten old. And it's not that I didn't like where I was before, I actually love Boston. I just love my family more.
6:15 p.m. — I head out to do some organizing! N. and O. live just far enough away that walking isn't ideal, so I borrow my mom's car. I get to their house, hang out in the backyard with the doggies for a bit so they can get their zoomies out, and chat with N. She's honestly the sweetest. Afterward, I head down to the basement and continue tackling the mess.
7:15 p.m. — O. is an architect, and he has a ton of amazing architectural plans. A lot of them are really large, so I've been trying to figure out the best way to store them. As I'm laying them out, the doggies come downstairs for some attention. Ugh, I just love them.
8:20 p.m. — I get ready to head out and say goodbye to N. and O. I honestly really enjoy organizing, so a two-hour session is like the easiest $75 in the world to me. N. asks if I'd be able to do some dog sitting for them in the next month or so (um, yes! I've done it before and it's so much fun). We agree that she'll text me the dates in the next couple of days.
8:25 p.m. — I get home just as D. arrives! He stopped by on his way home from work. We don't get to see each other a ton during the work week, but we try to have short little visits when we can fit them in. We chat about our days and make plans for this weekend, and he heads out around 9.
9:10 p.m. — My parents are going to head home from dinner soon and my mom texts me to ask if I want them to bring me anything. God bless that woman, I'm starving and don't feel like cooking. I take a look at the menu, request a grilled salmon salad, and thank her profusely.
9:30 p.m. — They arrive, salad in hand, and we all hang out in the kitchen and chat while I eat. Tomorrow is my mama's birthday, but she decides she wants to keep it pretty low-key. Plus, my sister is coming home on Friday for the weekend (yay!), so we're going to go out to dinner as a full family to celebrate once she's back.
10:15 p.m. — I remove my chipped nail polish and cut down my nails before hopping in the shower.
11 p.m. — Finally ready for bed! I climb under the covers and am asleep within minutes.
Daily Total: $6.38

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — It's my mama's birthday! My dad has already left for work, but she's around, so I poke my head into their room and wish her a happy birthday before getting ready for work. I haven't seen her on her actual birthday since I was in high school. It's so nice to be able to give her a hug.
9:15 a.m. — I hop off of the bus and have a sudden craving for Starbucks. I tell myself I won't go because I don't want to spend the money. Then the clouds part and the light shines down from the heavens and the angels start to sing — I remember I have enough rewards to get a free drink! That just made my morning.
9:25 a.m. — I get to the office, venti iced chai tea latte in hand. I normally never get a venti, but it was free, so I'm basically a queen now. Time to get to work.
12 p.m. — Pizza has arrived! Everyone gathers in our largest conference room to have lunch with my coworker, S., for his last day. I grab some caesar salad and two slices of cheese.
1 p.m. — We sprung for dessert, too. Bless. I grab a cookie and head back to my desk. When I sit down, I have an email from my mom with an apartment listing forwarded. She stresses that even though she doesn't want me to move out yet, the apartment reminded her of me anyway. It sounds pretty amazing — it's in a carriage house, has been renovated in the last three years, and has access to the main house's pool, yard, and patio. The woman who posted it is asking $1,700, which is definitely more than I have budgeted to spend, but that price does include all utilities and internet… I'll email her to ask for photos, just to see.
1:30 p.m. — While I'm waiting on some responses from clients, I take a look at my budget. I've been thinking I'd spend a max of $1,500 on rent once I move out (since I don't own a car and I'm pretty strict with my monthly spending, I'm okay spending more than 30 percent of my take home pay on housing, especially because I really want to live alone in my own space for awhile). $1,700 is a big leap. I'd have to cut the extra money from somewhere, likely some from my food budget (not the worst thing) and some from my savings (not the best thing), at least until I have my loans paid off. I had been thinking $1,500 without utilities and internet, so I guess that closes the gap just a bit. There's also the fact that D. may end up moving in with me, which would obviously cut my portion of the rent down significantly... I'm getting ahead of myself anyway, I haven't even seen the place yet.
2:45 p.m. — I sat down for a meeting at 2 and by 2:30 I felt awful. Like, feverish, lightheaded awful. I can't concentrate because I feel so dizzy and like I'm burning up. Perfect! Love this for me. When the meeting ends, I let my boss know that I'm feeling sick and that I think I should work the afternoon from home. She tells me to feel better and I head out.
3 p.m. — I feel crappy, but not crappy enough to skip out on getting my mom her birthday treat. Krispy Kreme classic glazed are her favorite, so I stop on my way to the bus and pick up three of them. Because I give them my email address, one of my donuts is free. $3.28
4 p.m. — I had to wait almost 20 minutes for a bus, but I'm finally home. I lay down for a bit before pulling out my laptop. I wonder if I'm having a silent migraine? My vision blurs every time I stand up or move my head too fast. I've never felt quite like this before, but it is not pleasant.
7 p.m. — I'm still not feeling so hot, but it's much more manageable than it was earlier. There's no way I'm skipping out on dinner with my mom and dad tonight, though, and she decides on her favorite pizza place. I pull myself together and we all head out.
7:20 p.m. — I order spaghetti with tomato sauce and a spinach salad with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese. It's really good, but I can't stomach a ton of food right now, so I bring home leftovers.
8:40 p.m. — We get back home and I pull out the donuts for my mom. She's very happy to see her favorite treat! I also give her the present I bought her and she really loves it. It's this really neat spherical glass vase that reminded me of her.
9:30 p.m. — The woman who posted the apartment listing sends me a floor plan and some photos, and it's kind of perfect. I make plans to view it tomorrow — what the hell am I doing? I wasn't thinking I was going to move until after the holidays, but this place is just so tempting...
12 a.m. — I don't know what happened or why I'm still awake. I feel too icky when I lay flat on my back, so I'm all propped up with pillows. Bleh. Tomorrow may be a work from home day. I guess we'll wait and see! Lights out, finally.
Daily Total: $3.28

Day Seven

6:40 a.m. — My first alarm goes off and when I roll over to turn it off, I get a head rush. Ugh. I get up to use the bathroom and take my temperature. Slightly feverish. It's such a mild fever, I wonder if maybe I'm just really dehydrated somehow? I honestly have no clue, but I do know that I'll be working from home today. I message my boss to let her know.
9:30 a.m. — I run out of water so I head downstairs for a refill. While I'm down there I realize I'm hungry, so I poach a couple of eggs, spread some harissa on a piece of toast, and top it with the eggs. I eat while chatting with my mom a bit — we're having a party at our house on Saturday and we brainstorm different charcuterie board ideas so we can make an accompanying grocery list. She and my dad have plans tonight, so I might do the shopping later assuming we have the list ready and that I'm feeling okay. I'm really hoping this is a weird 24-hour ailment, considering my sister is going to be home this weekend, I have a best friend visiting from out of town, and we're having this party.
12:30 p.m. — I take a break from work to re-pot a couple of my plants that are in desperate need. I also prune a few and then check to see how the soil feels in all of them to see if anyone needs watering. I have a good number of plants (around 30 or so) and I brought them all with me from Boston. Most of them handled the move okay, but my damn spider ferns totally freaked out and are only now starting to recover.
5 p.m. — I finish up with work and throw on real clothes. I'm feeling so much better than I was 24 hours ago. Definitely don't feel 100 percent just yet, but I bet I will by tomorrow. I head out to see the carriage house apartment (!!!).
6:15 p.m. — I leave the carriage apartment and oh my GOD. I think I might actually do that totally crazy? Maybe. I'll make a pro/con list, go over my budget for the 10 millionth time to make sure I'm not forgetting about some major expenses that will end up ruining me financially, and chat with my parents about it to see what they think.
6:30 p.m. — Home! I add 10 bucks to my metro card online while I'm thinking about it because I know my balance is getting low. Time to eat last nights leftovers and watch Criminal Minds while I daydream about decorating that apartment... $10
8:35 p.m. — My parents get home from dinner and we all chat, mostly about the apartment. They're so helpful and I really appreciate their input.
10:30 p.m. — I've been slowly but surely working on cleaning out/re-organizing our attic, because it's gotten out of hand in the last five years or so. When I worked on it last week, I left some things in my sister's room to keep them out of the way. Since she's coming home tomorrow, I put them back up in the attic before getting ready for bed.
11 p.m. — At last, sweet, sweet bed! I fuss around on the internet a little bit and start a spreadsheet to keep track of everything I'll have to purchase once I move out (I know, I know, this apartment has really kicked my planning into high gear). Even though it'll mostly be basic housekeeping stuff (e.g. cleaning supplies, dish towels, sponges, etc.) I know it's going to magically end up being like 12 million dollars worth of stuff. Oh well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it! Lights out at 12, and I fall asleep thinking about floor plans.
Daily Total: $10
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