A Week In Fairfax, VA, On A $59,200 Salary

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Today: a project manager working in engineering consulting who makes $59,200 per year and spends some of her money this week on grapes.
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Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Engineering Consulting
Age: 24
Location: Fairfax, VA
Salary: $59,200
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,671.40
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $960 for my portion. My fiancé, A., and I split the $1,650 rent proportionally to our incomes.
Student Loan Payment: $305
Car Payment: $325
Electricity: ~$100
Insurance: $114 for car insurance, renters insurance, and an additional policy for my engagement ring
Hungry Harvest Subscription: $37
Spotify: $10
Netflix, Apple Music & Hulu: $0 (I am a big ol' moocher.)
Gas & Phone: My fiancé covers the monthly gas and phone bill, and the complex we live in pays for water.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up after snoozing my alarm a startling amount of times. Then I drop my car at the shop right when they open at 8 a.m. so they can fix the starter and change my oil. I'm working from home today, so I grab a Lyft home and get cranking. $4.57
1 p.m. — I put creamer in some iced coffee and have leftover pasta with veggies for lunch. Then I throw diced tomatoes, two chicken breasts, and a few big spoonfuls of pesto in the Crock-Pot for dinner.
5:30 p.m. — I get a Lyft back to the shop ($4.50) and pay for the repairs they did ($320.38). Thankfully, it was just a dying battery, oil change, and tire rotation, which isn't as bad as I had anticipated. I bought a used car after graduation last year, and I love it. $324.88
5:50 p.m. — I stop at the grocery store and get a six-pack of my fiancé's favorite beer. He is seriously undervalued at his job and works so hard, and I know this will cheer him up. $12.71
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7 p.m. — When I get home, I make pasta and turn off the Crock-Pot. I haven't had great luck with meat in the Crock-Pot, but it turns out amazing. I do the dishes because my fiancé had to jump onto his work computer. I'm asleep by 9:15 and don't even hear my fiancé, A., come to bed.
Daily Total: $342.16

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Oh god, who likes waking up this early for work??? I peel myself out of bed and throw on my crummy field clothes. After doing my field basic morning routine (SPF, brush teeth, deodorant), I am out the door with my coffee by 6 a.m.!
3:30 p.m. — Thankfully, today was an uneventful day! About half of my work is on construction sites, which is nice on days when it isn't 100 degrees and 90% humidity. I chug a bottle of water on the drive home while chatting on the phone with my dad. Once I get home, I shower and catch up on emails.
7 p.m. — A., and I arrive at a local synagogue for our first Intro to Judaism class. I'm not religious, but A. and his family are Jewish. Our rabbi agreed to marry us if we both took the class (new learning for me, review for A.), and I'm pretty nervous.
9 p.m. — Of course the class was great! The rabbi was really interesting and the people in the class were very nice. A. and I chat on the way home about how I'm feeling, and he makes sure I'm not feeling overwhelmed. I have anxiety, and I really love how he checks in with me every so often. I've had a rough two weeks at work, so he helps me talk it out before bed.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:20 a.m. — I wake up 10 minutes before my alarm is set to go off. I figure it's not worth it to even get back into bed, so I get dressed for the field again. I pack my lunch and hit the road! D.C. traffic is almost nonexistent at 6 a.m.
2 p.m. — My contractor is done for the day, which means I'm headed home early! I stop at the grocery store for supplies for dinner (beer, sauerkraut, and kielbasa) and for the watch party we're going to tomorrow (buffalo sauce, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, celery, and tortilla chips). $53.79
3 p.m. — I shower and tidy up the apartment after throwing in a load of laundry. Since I have the apartment to myself, I watch my favorite trashy show on Netflix while I do one of those foot masks with the booties full of liquid. I rinse off my feet after an hour, but don't notice much difference. Oh well!
6 p.m. — A. makes kielbasa and pierogies with onions and sauerkraut. We watch Ozark and drink homemade Kentucky Mules. We're snuggled in bed by 11 p.m.!
Daily Total: $53.79

Day Four

9 a.m. — I wake up naturally at 9 a.m., which I don't think I've ever done. I decide to do something with my time and head out to the mall for the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale. It is a madhouse in here, but I leave with a pair of shorts, a pullover sweatshirt, and a pair of leggings. My mom calls me as I'm leaving to tell me she won the Hamilton lottery in NYC for tomorrow!!! She pays for our tickets and tickets for the bus. $155.82
12 p.m. — I throw all of the ingredients for buffalo chicken dip into the Crock-Pot while A. makes us lunch. It's finally cool, so we open all of the windows and throw on sweats. We snuggle up on the couch and watch Ozark until about 5 p.m.
6 p.m. — We stop and get beer for the party we're headed to. One of my college gal pals just started renting a beautiful house in Arlington, so we drive over to watch our alma mater kick butt at football. One of my friends brings her new boyfriend, whom A. and I really like. A. drives us home, and we're asleep by 1 a.m. $12
Daily Total: $167.82

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and shower, and then wake up A. so he can drive me to the bus. We only have one car, and he needs it today. I get an iced coffee for me, a tea for my mom, and a muffin to share on the ride to NYC. $5.27
1 p.m. — Finally in Manhattan! The bus drops us about 10 blocks south of the Rodgers Theater, and even though it's raining, we walk. We stop at a Kosher deli, and my mom refuses to let me pay for lunch, but I convince her to let me tip. We wander into Times Square and people watch before heading to the theater. My mom lived here in the '80s and loves to tell me about how much the city has changed. $10
3 p.m. — We get our lottery tickets and head into the theater. I can't pick my jaw off of the floor when we get to our seats — they are dead center in the second row!! The show starts and my mom and I have goosebumps within the first three seconds.
6:30 p.m. — As we walk back to the bus, we can't stop talking about the show. Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius, and we love him. We stop and get sandwiches to take onto the bus. $40.72
11:45 p.m. — Since A. had the car today to see his family for Rosh Hashanah, I Uber home. I change, wash my face, and brush my teeth in record time. I wish A. a happy New Year and am asleep by 12:30. Wow, what a day! $23.95
Daily Total: $79.94

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — Wow, I am tired. I have fibromyalgia, and the combination of a nine-hour bus ride, less than seven hours of sleep, and the past three days of rain means that I am hurting this morning. I choose to go back to sleep and work from home today. I love that I can make my own schedule for work.
8 a.m. — I wake up and drag my hurting body to the kitchen for food and then to the couch to start working. Thankfully, today isn't very eventful, so I can catch up on emails and reports that I put off when I was in the field. I take some pain medication, which helps a bit. As I'm wrapping up for the day, my dad texts me and I remember that I promised to buy college football tickets for our family for the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I buy five seats ($372.50) and promise to remember to buy parking passes when I'm back at my alma mater, since they're so much cheaper when you buy them in-person. $372.50
5 p.m. — A. is finally home and finds me curled up in a ball on the couch. He grabs me a heating pad and medicine and holds my hand as I doze off. I wake up about an hour later feeling much better! As I'm still waking up, I order succulent potting soil (a.k.a. fancy and overpriced sandy potting soil) and shampoo on Amazon. I have a horrible black thumb and have killed every plant I've ever had, but I am trying my best to keep a succulent, bamboo, and jade plant alive. $19.52
6 p.m. — I throw together leftovers for dinner right as A. has to do some night work from the couch. I also marinate some tuna steaks for tomorrow. We watch Frasier until we get sleepy and then head to bed.
Daily Total: $392.02

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I wake up in a good mood, which is rare on rainy days. I use my happy light that my best friend sent me from Portland. It mimics the sunlight, and I use it almost every morning when I'm feeling glum. I listen to the Hamilton soundtrack as I get ready, and I'm in the office by 8 a.m.
1 p.m. — I've barely had time to breathe today! Consulting can be pretty ebb and flow in terms of when we have projects starting and when things are due. It makes for interesting work, but some days are totally bananas. As I eat my packed lunch I browse the Madewell website. I don't need new clothes, but it's nice to look. Then I book my hotel room for next month when I get to go back to my alma mater and recruit more engineers. ($107.90 expensed)
4:30 p.m. — I turn off my computer for the day and head to Aldi, where I buy wine, pasta, tomatoes, apples, berries, grapes, cheese, spinach, seltzer, tofu, frozen tuna, and cold brew coffee. A. and I love Aldi so so much! I listen to Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me on the drive home. $87.52
5 p.m. — When I get home, I Venmo my friend for my ticket to Paul Simon's farewell concert this Friday. A and I decide that this rainy day calls for pasta, so he whips some up while I Swiffer the apartment. I guess the tuna steaks will have to wait one more day! $65
8 p.m. — I call my best friend after we eat and clean up dinner. She's home for the week, so we plan a time to see each other while we're still in the same time zone. A. and I watch more Frasier in bed and are asleep by 9:45!
Daily Total: $152.52
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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