A Week In Arlington, VA, On A $80,000 Salary

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Today: a project manager working at a nonprofit who makes $80,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on pickles.
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Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 32
Location: Arlington, VA
Salary: $80,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,125
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,020 for my half. (I live with my boyfriend.)
Student Loan Payment: $305
Utilities: $65-$80 for my half
Health Insurance: $50
FSA: $216.66
401(k): $100 (My employer matches this 100% and deposits an additional 10% of my salary.)
Roth IRA: $200. (Between my Roth and 401(k), I have about $45,000. I'm not quite at my goal, but I'm getting there.)
Car Insurance: $55
Netflix, Hulu, Spotify: $32.97
Therapy: $192
Public Transportation: $0 (covered by my employer)
Credit Card: $500 (I'm almost done paying off $7,000 of debt I accumulated in my 20s. One payment left!)
Savings: I have about $3,000 in an "emergency fund." I don't contribute to it currently — I am focusing on paying down my credit card. I'll also probably max out my Roth IRA before contributing to this again.

Day One

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I promptly press snooze three times. I finally get up around 7:30 after sending my friend a barrage of text messages about how Mondays are the effing worst. I don't have any breakfast food at home, so I catch the bus and plan to get something on the way to work. I stop a Panera for a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich. $5.31
10 a.m. — I drink my third green tea. I'm trying to drink less coffee, so today I'm trying tea instead, but this is not cutting it. To all those people who say green tea gives them as much energy as coffee — I'm calling shenanigans. I finish it quickly and get ready for a meeting with my boss about a series of projects that we have coming up. He asks if I have the bandwidth to help manage the first two, and I think I do. I'll be stretched a little, but I've been looking for an opportunity to demonstrate that I can handle more challenging work, and I think this is it.
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1 p.m. — It's hot as hell, and I don't want to walk far, so I grab a Greek salad and vegetable soup from the deli downstairs. I manage to break into a disgusting sweat in the five minutes I'm outside. Yuck. $9.88
5 p.m. — Leave work and head home. I stop at the market near our apartment and grab wine and a few items for breakfast the rest of the week: yogurt, fruit, granola ($28.74). My boyfriend is working late every day this week and I don't feel like cooking, so I order Chinese for us to share – General Tso chicken and steamed dumplings (19.98). $48.72
Daily Total: $63.91

Day Two

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I can't seem to drag myself out of bed. I move like a sloth until the five minutes before I need to leave — during which I attempt to pack my breakfast, feed the cat, grab all my stuff, and get out the door in time to catch the bus. Obviously, I miss the bus. I have a meeting, so I don't have time to take an Uber Pool and I have to take an UberX instead. Fantastic. $16.74
9:55 a.m. — I order a black coffee on the Starbucks app, and run in to pick it up before heading to my meeting. I'm not even going to pretend that tea will work today. $2.37
11 a.m. — I finally sit down at my desk and eat breakfast (granola, fruit and yogurt). This morning was a rough start, and I can tell that today is going to be a longgg day.
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1 p.m. — I'm surprised that I'm hungry, considering that I just ate only two hours ago. I take a 45-minute walk before picking up a salad. I try to spend as much of my lunch hour outside as I can — especially if the weather is nice. $10.31
3:30 p.m. — The day is dragging, and I find myself window shopping online. I remember that we are almost out of cat food, so I order some on Amazon ($34.16). This also leads me down an Amazon black hole that ends in buying succulents as well ($15.15). $49.31
6 p.m. — Because I arrived late, I leave work late. Then I head to my friend's house, since I promised I would help her and her boyfriend unpack their apartment. We order Thai food (her treat), and I get spicy eggplant with veggies (my favorite). I'm home, and I'm in bed by 10:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $78.73

Day Three

8 a.m. — How is it that I went to bed at 10:30 and still feel tired at 8 a.m.?! WTF! Mornings are a PRESS. I get dressed, get my stuff together, catch the bus (woohoo), and head to work.
9:30 a.m. — I brought breakfast (yogurt, granola and fruit again) with me and have green tea at my desk. I have back-to-back conference calls all morning, and I am not looking forward to it. There is one call in particular that I'm really dreading — I haven't been getting along with one of the volunteers for a project I'm managing. She consistently tries to undercut me in front of others, and I've struggled with how to call her out without sounding angry or aggressive. The call goes less than smoothly, and I'm left with the uneasy feeling I get when I realize something I should/could have said after it's too late.
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2 p.m. — Conference calls are finally over, and I have another meeting at 3 p.m. I don't have much time to get lunch, so I run to the deli downstairs. Luckily there's no line, and I get veggie soup. $5.89
4:30 p.m. — Head out to happy hour with a friend! I haven't seen her in a while, and she always makes me laugh until I cry. The older I get, the more I realize how lucky I am to have such amazing friends in my life. Three glasses of wine and a few appetizers later, I head home. $39.50
Daily Total: $45.39

Day Four

8 a.m. — I'm up and out of bed reasonably fast. I make coffee in my French press and actually have time to drink it before heading out the door.
9:30 a.m. — I'm really groggy at work and don't want to spend money on breakfast, so I make green tea and hope that it will be enough to last me until lunch. I walk past my coworker's office and notice she has a smoothie in a mason jar. This reminds me that I need to buy lids, so I go on Amazon and put them in my cart. (I don't buy them yet though.)
11:30 a.m. — I'm STARVING, so I order a salad on the Cava app. I've been trying to eat more veggies, so I get roasted vegetables instead of chicken. $9.87
12 p.m. — After I pick up my salad, I walk to Walgreens. I've been looking at online hair tutorials and I want to see if they have a particular curl crème by Eden Bodyworks that I've been looking for. I've been wanting to branch out in the ways I style my hair. But they don't have it ☹. I am very tempted to buy gummy bears because they're on sale, but I fight the urge.
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6 p.m. — I've been eating out a lot this week, so I head to the grocery store to get a few items to make a quick dinner: red onion, mushrooms, green pepper, spinach, a plum tomato, eggs, a sweet potato, and feta cheese. I sauté the veggies and scramble two eggs to go with them. I forget about the feta until after I'm done eating. Whoops. $13.42
10 p.m. — My boyfriend makes it home in time for me to say goodnight before passing out.
Daily Total: $23.29

Day Five

6 a.m. — Getting up this early is terrible. We have a conference at work today, so I have to be there at 7:30. It reminds me of high school, when I had to be in class by 7:15 a.m. I know to some people this isn't early at all, but I am not a morning person. I have literally lied to people in my sleep to avoid getting up. I groggily get dressed, do my hair, and catch an Uber to work. $16.59
8 a.m. — At least this conference has food. I get a bagel, fruit, and green tea (the coffee is terrible) for breakfast. Unfortunately, the subject of this particular conference is not related to any of my projects, but my boss thought it would be a good idea for me to observe and learn for the future. I get it, but it's honestly not the most interesting.
10 a.m. — I see that Sephora is having a Labor Day sale. I don't actually need anything yet, but they never have sales, so I decide to check it out. Right on cue, my boss sits down next to me, so no more shopping until he gets up.
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11 a.m. — It's break time, so I pull the Sephora website back up. I spend a few minutes comparing vitamin C serums from Drunk Elephant and Sunday Riley. But, after thinking about it, I decide not to purchase anything. First, 15% is not really a sale, or at least it's not enough for me to justify buying something I wasn't planning on buying beforehand. I should finish my current serum first.
5 p.m. — Conference over! I really should go to the grocery store, since I've decided to cook more this weekend/next week, but I'm tired. I'll go tomorrow...maybe. Unfortunately, I remember that today is the last day to pick up an online order I placed at Lowe's: a plant hook and a laser level. $31.26
8:30 p.m. — I get ready for a Netflix binge with all the necessities — blanket, PJs, deep conditioner for my hair, and a face mask. And wine. Date night with myself 😊.
Daily Total: $47.85

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I wake up to the cat stomping on my back to let me know she's hungry. I usually shoo her away, but I'm ready to get up. I love Saturday mornings. It's so nice to not feel rushed. I make myself coffee in the French press and put on some oldies over the stereo; it's a habit I developed when I was younger. It reminds me of home and boosts my mood. I've been craving pancakes, and we have bananas that are about to expire, so I make banana pancakes.
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10:30 a.m. — We get started on chores. This is another habit I picked up from childhood — Saturdays are for music and cleaning. We have been slacking in the cleaning department lately, and I can't take it anymore. I deep clean the bathroom and kitchen and do a couple of loads of laundry. My BF tackles the bedroom and the living room. I also hang the plant I bought the hook for. I'm slowly trying to turn our apartment into a plant haven. I haven't killed anything (yet), so I think I'm on track.
2 p.m. — We decide to grab lunch from our favorite taco place, El Charrito Caminante. It's a little out of the way but totally worth it — their steak tacos are so good. My boyfriend pays.
7 p.m. — Our friends have invited us over for a game night. Since we don't want to show up empty-handed, we stop at the liquor store on the way over to grab a bottle of rum. I Venmo my boyfriend for my half . Game night ends up being a great time. Alcohol combined with Taboo is one of the funniest things I've ever experienced. We both drink a lot, so we crash at our friends' place. $18
Daily Total: $18

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Drinking always makes me wake up earlier than I normally would. We drink coffee with our friends and then drive home. I promptly get back in bed and go to sleep when we get there.
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1 p.m. — Time to go to the grocery store. I kick myself for not going on Friday, when it's always empty. I hate grocery shopping. We try to be as efficient as possible so we can get out of the store quickly. My plan is to spend less on eating out this coming week, since I spent a lot of food this past week, so I buy food for four breakfasts, four lunches, and three dinners. We get yogurt, granola, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, trail mix, ground turkey, salmon, butter lettuce, arugula, pickles, red onion, avocados, seltzer, jasmine rice, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, goat cheese, and ice cream. $70.54
7 p.m. — I make turkey burgers, sweet potato fries, and grilled onions. There are enough leftovers for us both to have another meal. My boyfriend doesn't like to eat the same thing for dinner and then lunch, so he makes a salad for us to each take for lunch tomorrow.
10 p.m. — I try to go to sleep but can't, and end up scrolling on Instagram for far too long. I come across a few articles about Serena Williams's loss in the US Open and get really pissed off over how racist and sexist some of the comments are. It makes my blood boil. It's probably 12 a.m. before I finally fall asleep.
Daily Total: $70.54
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