A Week In Arlington, VA, On A $90,000 Salary

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 consultant who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on cheddar Chex Mix.
Occupation: Consultant
Industry: Government & Public Services
Age: 26
Location: Arlington, VA
Salary: $90,000, plus a yearly bonus of $6,000-8,000
My Husband's Salary: $85,000, plus a yearly bonus of $20,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,076.92
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 for my half (My husband pays the other $800 — we live in a one-bedroom apartment and the rent includes parking and our pet fee.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I had full athletic and academic scholarships for undergraduate and graduate school.)
Utilities: $70-100 (I pay.)
Cable/Internet: $99 (My husband pays.)
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $15 per paycheck
Roth 401(k): $258.46 per paycheck
Pre-Tax 401(k): $129.23 per paycheck
Phone: $0 (This is fully paid by my employer, and my husband is still on his family's plan.)
Gym: $18 (My employer pays the other $18, since they cover 50% of well-being expenses.)
Netflix: $0 (Thank you to my husband's family!)
Birchbox: $10
Additional Expenses
Amazon Prime: $99/year (I pay)
Car Insurance: $336.86, 2x/year (I pay in February and in August. My husband pays for gas, oil changes, etc.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Roll out of bed to put my contacts in. My husband is flying to Nashville for a quick business trip, so I grab our golden retriever puppy and we all get in the car to drive him to the airport. He travels (at most) once a year for his job, and this time it's because his boss couldn't go and sent him instead. He hates flying and has been complaining for days!
7:40 a.m. — Make myself coffee at home (which I do every day), clear the dishwasher from last night, and make the bed. Then, I get to my laptop to begin working for the day. I've been working from home for the last year and a half, and I love it. I only go into my office for occasional in-person meetings. My first project at this company had me at a client site in D.C. all day Monday through Friday, and I certainly do not miss the commute on the MetroRail. I can't stand wasting time in my day on commuting.
11:15 a.m. — Take a quick break from work calls and emails to walk the puppy around the neighborhood. Now that the weather is nice, I try to get walks in when she has to go to the bathroom. I stand at my laptop all day (I hate sitting — it kills my back and hamstrings), so I use the walks more for fresh air and breaks from staring at the computer.
1:30 p.m. — Receive a quick call from a midwife at the OB/GYN office, who reports my HCG level from yesterday's blood work and instructs me to come in weekly to get it checked until it reaches zero. I had a miscarriage last week, and now have to deal with the aftermath. It is quite devastating, and I wish more people would talk about this topic. My husband and I are so anxious to try again, but the factor of time is making me insanely frustrated and impatient.
4:15 p.m. — I walk to the gym ten minutes away. For years, I've made it a top priority to exercise daily. I think I'm addicted to the endorphins. Running outside is my favorite (I ran long distance track and cross country in high school and college), but I'm constantly injured from high mileage. So aggravating, but I'm still recovering from a pelvic stress fracture that came on in early March while I was training for the Boston Marathon. I feel like it hasn't fully recovered, so I do non-impact cardio in the gym instead until I can run again.
6:40 p.m. — Walk home from the gym after doing 75 minutes on the Jacob's Ladder machine (only workout that can give me a "runner's high") and a 30-minute spin class. Immediately take the puppy outside for a walk around the neighborhood. We get back home and I take a shower before catching up on work emails. I'm a night owl and will usually do work as late as I need to, especially since I prefer to get to the gym before 5 p.m.
7:40 p.m. — Finally start preparing my dinner. I always eat a big salad with various raw and cooked veggies plus a protein. Tonight is fresh herb lettuce mix with cucumbers, mushrooms, green beans, a splash of vinegar, and a can of sardines. I snack on a mix of snap pea crisps, Pop Chips, and Teddy Grahams...I have a penchant for "kid" snacks. I also take a prenatal vitamin...might as well keep taking them, since I know we'll be trying again as soon as possible.
9:30 p.m. — Play with my puppy, since she gets a burst of energy before she falls asleep for the night. Once she calms down, I relax on the couch by scrolling through news articles on my phone and browsing the Internet. I only like watching TV with my husband, and he's not here, so I don't bother trying to figure out how to turn on Netflix. He and I catch up on the phone about his work day in Nashville and I eventually let him get to bed since he values sleep a lot more than I do.
11:45 p.m. — Crawl into bed...this is early for me. I try not to think about the miscarriage, but can't help myself. I Google stupid questions on the topic until my eyes get heavy enough to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5 a.m. — The puppy puts her front paws up on the bed to let me know it's her bathroom and breakfast time. My husband is always the one to take care of her early morning routine (bless his heart, because she often starts bugging us at 4 a.m.), but today it's my job. I take her out quickly and decide to start working now so that I can end early and get to the gym before picking up my husband from the airport. I make coffee and start digging into emails. I try to catch up on my podcast episodes (Ali On the Run Show, C Tolle Run, and I'll Have Another with Lindsey Hein) while I work, but I have to rewind a lot because multitasking gets the best of me.
10 a.m. — I take the puppy for a quick walk, but she won't stop trying to lay in the grass to chew a stick. I have to drag her inside so that I'm not late.
10:40 a.m. — I walk to my office for three back-to-back meetings from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The first is with a girl who's backfilling my old role, and I'm trying to train her over the course of a few meetings. She is awesome and I feel like I'm leaving my old program manager in good hands. My second meeting is with my work counselor (everyone at the company has one for performance management purposes). We meet one Friday per month, and this time she debriefs me on the outcome of my yearly performance review. The conversation goes well, and I don't have any concerns. I move onto my third meeting with a summer intern who put time on my calendar to chat about consulting and my experience thus far. She's from my college alumni network, and I am happy to help her out.
12:45 p.m. — On my walk back to my apartment, I stop into the post office to mail a $10 check to Arlington County for our puppy's rabies license. I also pay the 50 cents for a stamp. This expense is so weird...once the county figures out your dog is over six months old, they require a rabies license. Our pup got her vaccine back in March and the vet submitted the info to the county. As soon as I get home, I take the pup out quickly and head back inside to finish working. $10.50
3:15 p.m. — I get changed and walk to the gym, where I complete 90 minutes on Jacob's Ladder and 15 minutes on a stationary bike to flush out my legs. I know an hour and 45 minutes of exercise may sound crazy to people, but I listen to Future radio on Pandora (the free version, because I am a cheapo) with my wireless headphones and the time goes by quickly.
5:30 p.m. — Hustle to shower and dry my hair. Thankfully I have super thin hair, so it only takes five minutes of blow drying and then I'm good to go. I put the puppy in the car and drive to the airport to pick up my husband. It's usually an eight-minute drive, but there's rush hour traffic and I am definitely going to be late. I don't know why I care so much, because my husband is the most patient man on Earth and he doesn't mind at all. We're happy to see each other and we head home so he can change out of his suit and relax.
6:45 p.m. — After our usual Friday night back and forth of "What do you want to do for dinner?" "I don't know," "What do you want to do?" we decide to go to Safeway for our weekly grocery shop. We know we'll go out to dinner tomorrow, and it's very rare that we go out to dinner more than once in a week. We usually choose Friday or Saturday, but sometimes I end up cooking all seven nights of the week instead. We come out of Safeway with lettuce, mushrooms, cucumber, assorted frozen veggies (the kind that steam in the microwave in minutes), sardines, eggs, cheese, coffee, beer, nacho ingredients, and snacks. He pays this time, but I'm the one who pays for items throughout the week as needed, since a weekly shop doesn't always hold us over. I hate wasting food, so we don't buy in bulk. I can easily walk to stores during the week as needed. $47.53
7:45 p.m. — I begin making my husband a big plate of nachos while he plays with the pup. I cook ground venison on the stove with taco seasoning. (This is why we didn't buy meat at the store — his family supplies us with tons of venison products from their yearly hunting trip, and I try to use it up until we see them again and re-stock). I top the chips with the ground venison, cheese, diced tomatoes, jalapeños, lettuce, sour cream, and hot sauce. I know it's strange, but we don't eat the same meals at dinner. I love cooking for him and he does the dishes, so it works fine. I prepare myself my usual big salad with leafy greens, mushrooms, cucumber, steamed cauliflower, vinegar, and sardines.
8:45 p.m. — We get cozy on the couch, and I graze on a mix of snacks while we watch episodes of Drugs, Inc. on Netflix. We recently finished all the episodes of Dope and moved on to Drugs, Inc., which I like better...the filming is less hokey. We both find the dynamic between drug dealing and law enforcement fascinating.
11:59 p.m. — We recently got into a bad habit of falling asleep on the couch together and finally getting into bed between 1 and 3 a.m. This time it's around 2:30 a.m.
Daily Total: $58.03

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Get dressed for the gym and pack a bag of clothes so I can shower and change in the locker room. I do 90 minutes on Jacob's Ladder and 15 minutes on the stationary bike before showering, putting on light makeup, and drying my hair.
9:15 a.m. — I get on the Metro to get to my 10 a.m. massage appointment in D.C. Typically, I'd only go if I had a gift certificate, but I am desperate to get my hips evened out to see if it helps get me back into running. This massage therapist has given me great sports massages to help my hips in the past. I still have $20 left over from a Christmas gift card from my husband, so I end up paying $80 out of pocket and I leave a $20 tip. $100
11:45 a.m. — I get home to find my husband coming back from a jog with the puppy. I make a pot of coffee for both of us, and scrambled eggs and toast. I run the vacuum and then figure I may as well continue cleaning the apartment while I'm in the mood to get it done.
2:30 p.m. — We put the puppy in the car and drive to Annapolis, which takes less than an hour. We've lived in the D.C. metro area for three years and still haven't visited Annapolis, so today is the day. We park and walk around near the water and Naval Academy before purchasing tickets for a 90-minute boat cruise ($28 per ticket, and dogs are free). We get to see a lighthouse and the tour is scenic and relaxing. $56
6 p.m. — We look up dog-friendly restaurants in the area and decide on a place within reasonable walking distance. We end up waiting 30 minutes for a patio table to become available, and my husband orders a beer while we wait. I usually enjoy drinks, but I'm abstaining for a little while, since alcohol can supposedly increase my bleeding during this time of miscarriage. Sigh. We finally get seated and order crab dip to share. I end up getting a cobb salad, and my husband gets fish tacos and another beer. Then I get the Smith Island cake for dessert. Apparently it's a Maryland thing. My husband pays the bill ($62.50 including the tip).
9:15 p.m. — We arrive home and eventually turn on Netflix to watch The Stanford Prison Experiment. I find it interesting, but my husband is disturbed by it and I can't help but laugh at him. After it ends, we switch to Drugs, Inc. and make our usual mistake of laying down together on the couch until we pass out and eventually wake up at 3 a.m. to move to the bed.
Daily Total: $156

Day Four

10 a.m. — Slept in and it felt so good. But 10 a.m. is my limit before I get mad at myself for blowing the day. I get up and make a pot of coffee and scrambled eggs and toast. We take the pup for a walk and I get dressed for the gym.
12 p.m. — I get to the gym and go through my usual routine of using Jacob's Ladder and a stationary bike. Walk home drenched in sweat.
2:15 p.m. — Take a shower and change into yoga clothes for later. In the meantime, I get out my laptop and try to get ahead on work for the week. I started a new role this week and feel overwhelmed by how much I have to learn right now. Once I get the hang of it, I think I'll really like it, but I'm making myself do "homework" to speed up the learning process.
4:50 p.m. — Walk to a power yoga class at the gym further away than the one I usually go to (which doesn't offer many classes on weekends). I had ClassPass for almost two years but I canceled it last month, so I am taking advantage of the free classes at my gym instead. The class is better than I thought it would be, and I leave feeling great!
7 p.m. — Arrive home around the same time as my husband, who is back from his basketball men's league game. I take the pup out for a quick walk before preparing my dinner: my usual salad with greens, mushrooms, cucumber, steamed brussels sprouts, nutritional yeast, and two fried eggs. Then I snack on a mix of Cheez-Its, Pirate's Booty, and Annie's Bunny Grahams.
9:30 p.m. — I cook dinner for my husband so that it's ready when he gets home. (He has a football game tonight.)
10:30 p.m. — My husband gets in, showers, eats dinner, and gives me a back massage. We stay up talking until getting in bed around midnight.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — My husband kisses me goodbye and heads to work. He takes our car to work each day, which works out, because I can walk to my office if I need to or use the Metro to get anywhere else. Today, I get up 10 minutes after he leaves and have a cup of coffee as I start working from my laptop.
12 p.m. — I take a quick break to get the pup outside for a walk. Per usual, she does fine until I need to go in and all she wants to do is lay in the grass with a stick. The cuteness kills me...
4 p.m. — Get to the gym for my usual long cardio routine. I try to zone out to my rap music, but I end up thinking about work the whole time. There's a lot to process from today, and I find myself thinking about all of the tasks I need to complete for the week.
6 p.m. — I stop into CVS on my walk home to pick up dog food since I have a 40% off store coupon. I also throw in two bags of cheddar Chex Mix since it's on a great sale and I'm addicted to it. $7.41
6:30 p.m. — I take a shower while my husband is out walking the puppy. Then I do my daily skincare routine with all of my new Birchbox samples. Lately, I've been using a Kiehl's Ultra Facial oil-free cleanser in the shower and then moisturizing with Sunday Riley CEO Vitamin C brightening serum. I spray my hair with leave-in conditioner and let it air dry while I cook dinner. Then I give it a quick blow dry before sitting down to eat.
7:30 p.m. — My husband eats venison steak with red potatoes and green beans while I have a salad of greens, mushrooms, cucumbers, green beans, vinegar, and sardines. We catch up on our days, and then I snack on the cheddar Chex Mix while he cleans up. I give him all of the wheat Chex because they're gross. Good thing he loves them.
9 p.m. — We start watching Drugs, Inc. on Netflix and my husband is snoring within 30 minutes. I'm wide awake, and watch a few episodes before deciding I need to get up. I refuse to fall asleep on the couch tonight!
12:15 a.m. — Get my husband up and we get in bed. I have to scroll through news on my phone in order to make my eyes heavy enough to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $7.41

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Get myself ready to walk to my office. I get dressed, put light makeup on (my routine takes less than five minutes), and make a travel mug of coffee to go. Even though I'm meeting a work friend for coffee to catch up on life, I am being cheap and would prefer to bring my own than buy a cup. I make really strong (almost mud) dark roast coffee. It makes the coffee at the office taste like water in comparison.
8:30 a.m. — Meet my work friend in our office cafeteria so we can just catch up on life for a half hour. She was my team lead from my first project at the firm and is still a great friend and mentor to me. We don't see each other much anymore, so I am very happy to have coffee with her today. I wish we had more time, but I have get to another meeting in the office at 9 a.m.
9 a.m. — Meet in person with the girl I'm training to backfill my role. She seems increasingly nervous about the work, so I try to boost her confidence that she can do this!
9:30 a.m. — I am so thankful to only live a 15-minute walk from the office...I hustle home so I can get the dog out to the bathroom. No time for a walk, because my emails are piling up and it is stressing me out. I crunch away on endless work tasks and get ready to go back to the office.
2 p.m. — Meet with one of two of my new work bosses. She is super nice and I can tell it will be easy to work with her. She wants to meet at 2 p.m. every Tuesday as I begin my new role so we can make sure I get up to speed. After we meet, I try to prioritize the rest of my tasks for the day. I spend time in the office getting work done but eventually head home to finish up a report and let the dog out.
5 p.m. — Leave for the gym and do my usual routine while I'm there. I try to run on the treadmill for 15 minutes when I'm done to see if the massage from the weekend helped. The motion of running feels normal, which I'm happy about, but my left groin area still hurts. I know I should go to a doctor to get it figured out, but it's just not a priority right now. I need to stay afloat at work, and it's hard enough to fit in my OB/GYN appointments as it is while we're trying to conceive. I don't have time for another medical problem right now. I will have to stay content doing my other cardio workouts.
7:15 p.m. — I get home and immediately have my husband help me carry our heavy laundry bin down to the apartment basement to the shared laundry units. I can't wait to have a house with my own units. Not to mention, I'm so sick of going through rolls of quarters! We go through $6 in quarters each time I do laundry. Once I get back upstairs from separating the lights and darks into washers, I start cooking a ham and cheese frittata for my husband with a side salad. I prepare a salad of greens, mushrooms, radishes, roasted asparagus, and two fried eggs for myself. I get dinner on the table and insist my husband start eating without me while I get in the shower. I never sit down to eat if I'm in sweaty gym clothes.
8:10 p.m. — Finally sit down to eat. My husband and I catch up on our days and talk about what we might want to do next weekend. I was not up for being social last weekend while going through the miscarriage (for physical and emotional reasons), but I'm back to feeling like "me" again and I would love to make plans. While my husband does the dishes, I go down to the laundry room to throw the clothes into the dryer and I bring up most of my exercise clothes to hang dry.
9:15 p.m. — We sit down to watch an Allen Iverson documentary on Netflix. My husband pauses it at a certain point to go down and grab the laundry out of the dryer. He's always happy to do this part, since I take care of the sorting. I fold some of the cottons so they don't wrinkle in the basket overnight, but I'm too tired to do the rest.
11:45 p.m. — I know I should go to bed, but I don't. I grab my laptop and try to get ahead on work...which means I end up in bed close to 2:30 a.m. Oops.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Rush to get ready and head out the door to the Metro. It's only a few stops away to get to my OB/GYN office, and I want to be there when they open at 8 a.m. so I can get back home as soon as possible for work. My HCG level needs to drop to zero before I can get pregnant again. I'm a little scared to know what these appointments are going to end up costing me. I feel like my health insurance won't cover most of it. What a shame.
8:45 a.m. — Arrive back home to make coffee and dig into work. I stop intermittently to put laundry away until it's done.
12:15 p.m. — Take the dog for a quick walk and get back inside to get on a few calls for work. The workload feels heavy and endless.
4:45 p.m. — I take a break from my work to go to the gym. I end up using Jacob's Ladder for an hour and then I do the gym's spin class.
7:05 p.m. — I walk to Safeway on my way home to pick up a few things: super greens lettuce mix, frozen veggies, beans, rice, tortilla chips, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Oreos. (Last time I bought this flavor, my husband and I ate the entire package in one night and didn't feel bad about it.) $13.70
7:40 p.m. — I quickly shower and start cooking my husband a dinner of ground deer with rice, beans, and cheese. I make my usual large salad, this time with a can of tuna for protein. My husband thanks me for not putting him through the smell of sardines.
8:30 p.m. — While my husband cleans up and takes the dog out for a walk, I dig into those Oreos while scrolling through the News app on my phone. We turn on Netflix when he gets back and decide to binge-watch old episodes of The Office.
11:45 p.m. — Wash my face and get ready for bed. I decide not to open the Pandora's Box that is my laptop tonight. I actually feel tired.
Daily Total: $13.70
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