A Week In Long Beach, CA, On A $75,000 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 project director working in substance abuse treatment who makes $75,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week at Trader Joe's.
Occupation: Project Director
Industry: Substance Abuse Treatment
Age: 31
Location: Long Beach, CA
Salary: $75,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,998
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0. (My husband pays rent and I pay for utilities and food. We keep our finances separate, which works well for us. We have joint savings goals, however, we are free to spend our money how we please as long as we take care of our individual responsibilities. We discuss large purchases and budgeting together, though.)
Student Loan Payment: $605
Utilities: $270
Phone Bill: $95
Gas: $140
Tithes: $200
Car Insurance: $95
Disneyland Pass: $114
Medical Insurance: $500
Credit Card: $800
Private Practice: $200
Gym Membership: $40
Daycare: $400
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Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up late as usual. My alarm clock known as my four-month-old baby slept in a bit. (She usually wakes around 6 to eat.) I get up and warm her bottle, feed her, and change her. After she eats I can usually count on her going back to sleep until we leave for the day, but today there is no mini nap. I quickly get dressed and we head out the door. I drop her at Grandma's house. (I pay my sister-in-law monthly to watch her three days a week – I am so lucky!) I head to work, late as usual.
9 a.m. — I sneak into the office, drop off my stuff and walk down to the coffee shop on the corner. I oversee a very small staff of people who are are great at their jobs and therefore do not need micromanagement, which I love. By the time I get into the office, our clients are in group and things are running smoothly. I order a decaf coffee (I'm breastfeeding so I limit my caffeine intake, but I love my coffee) and a breakfast croissant with ham, cheese, red onion, and tomato. So good. $9.44
1 p.m. — It's been a typical Monday – small fires and chaos and whatnot. I take a moment to text my sister-in-law asking for a picture of my babe! She loves her aunt and every picture is always a smiley one, unless she's hangry. I miss her so much but I also love the freedom of my job. It's a good balance: I get enough time to be a decisive and articulate individual and then get to go home and be a silly mommy and wife. I am getting pretty hangry myself and I don't want to spend any more money at the coffee shop today. So I eat an everything bagel from my fridge at work and snack on trail mix that I keep in my drawer. That should last me until I get home.
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Daily Total: $9.44

Day Two

9 a.m.— Today I get to work on time and manage to eat a breakfast of organic oatmeal and raisins. Oatmeal is great for your milk supply and since my babe is growing fast, I need to produce more breast milk. I check emails and talk to my crew before the day starts. We gossip about other coworkers, which is a horrible habit of mine. I have coupon from Express for $10 off, so I order a pair of black flats. I have a capsule work wardrobe, meaning three pairs of pants and five shirts to pair them with, but I am missing plain black flats. My kid has twice the amount of clothes as I do, but it makes my morning routine simple. I save money and I know I look professional daily. $26.27
12 p.m. — Sweet! I got a free lunch today. My coworker is a great cook but hates eating her leftovers, so she often gives them to me. Today it's homemade spaghetti, which I love. I didn't bring a lunch today so I would have had to buy otherwise. What a wonderful Tuesday.
6 p.m. — I pick up my babe and head home to make dinner. On tonight's menu is Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice with a side of squash. We eat out twice a week for dinner, usually on Friday and Saturday nights. The other nights I make really simple meals. My husband is a teacher and is studying for his master's as well as pursuing amateur boxing, so if I want to see him, dinner needs to take 20 minutes or less. We get the babe bathed, fed, and down for bed by 9 p.m. I pump for 30 minutes and then snuggle with my husband while watching wrestling on WWE. Great way to decompress. We have a 10:30 sharp bedtime.
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Daily Total: $26.27

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Today I work from home, which means snuggling with my baby and watching Tabatha's Salon Takeover for a few hours. I make myself oatmeal and raisins and get us dressed for the day. On days when I work from home, I take care of household admin tasks like grocery shopping and cleaning, so that I can reserve weekends for family and fun. We head to Trader Joe's and I pick up orange chicken, fried rice, protein cookies, apples, squash, grapes, cheese crunchies, pita chips, sparkling wine, tikka masala frozen dinners, frozen turkey burgers, blueberry scones, yogurt, and vanilla half and half. Basically whatever I see that looks good. I really need to get back on my meal-planning game. The babe is fussy, so no Target run until husband gets home. $57
6 p.m. — Damn Target! I went for toothpaste and of course ended up spending 200 bucks. I purchased an activity center for my babe; she has been super clingy lately and I am hoping this will entertain her just long enough for me to get some chores done. I also purchased a new shower curtain and bath mats for my grandpa's house, a birthday card and glove-and-beanie matching set for my two-year-old cousin, toothpaste, Listerine, Fixodent (for Grandpa), and this new matte lipstick I saw a commercial for. I am trying to feel like a woman/girl/person again so hopefully this will help. $200
8 p.m. — No dinner is being made tonight so my husband brings us home individual pizzas from the local make-your-own-pizza place. I get zucchini, ricotta, and pepperoni on mine. It's so freaking good. I have a glass of sparkling wine from TJ's. We all sit on the couch and watch The Big Bang Theory. My babe is tired at 9 and so am I. I put her to bed, pump for 30 minutes, and head to bed myself. $19.63
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Daily Total: $276.63

Day Four

9 a.m.— Back to work! I am on time today, which I always acknowledge and celebrate. While I was pregnant, I took advantage of my freedom, working from home a lot and coming and going as I pleased. When I came back from my maternity leave, I made a goal of giving my 100% everyday, which includes being on time! Today I walk into my office and there's a crème brûlée donut waiting for me. My coworker is the best! I reimburse her for it. $3.50
12 p.m. — I brought a sandwich with cheese crunchies on the side for lunch today – pretty boring. Thursdays are pretty low-key around here, so I listen to Pandora and kill time before a 1:30 training. I look up the cost of Weight Watchers and contemplate signing up.
6 p.m. — We receive a final bill from the hospital in the mail today. $3,777! I actually do a little jig at the mailbox because it's less than I anticipated. When we found out we were pregnant we immediately started saving so we could take the max amount of maternity/paternity leave and not have to worry about bills. I was able to take four months off and my husband took six weeks. Combined, we saved $18,000 and we only used about $3,000 of it. I am really proud of us! We can pay this immediately without stress, which is such a blessing. I'll send it off tomorrow. Turkey burgers tonight for dinner. $3,777
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Daily Total: $3,780.50

Day Five

11 a.m. — It's Friday, so I buy my breakfast/lunch: decaf coffee and a breakfast croissant. I decide I am not getting any work done today. I make a few phone calls and chat with my team. We eat cookies and talk about our clients. Fridays are the best. $9.44
5 p.m. — I pick up the babe and chat with my sister-in-law for a few minutes. I don't know what I want for dinner, but then my husband texts me: "Souplantation." Yes please, I have a coupon!
7 p.m. — The food at Souplantation is unimpressive. I'm tired and crash after feeding my babe for the night. My husband puts her to sleep while I doze off on the couch. I didn't even pump, which is going to suck in about three hours. $22.59
Daily Total: $32.03

Day Six

11 a.m. — On Saturdays we all go to my Grandpa's house to get his groceries and do his errands. He doesn't drive anymore, thank goodness. I stop at the donut shop by his house and get him a dozen plain ones. $8
2 p.m. — We pick up his groceries and then grab burgers at In-N-Out. Grandpa pays for lunch. I consider it payment for services rendered.
6 p.m. — I'm still content from lunch so my husband grabs a sandwich for himself. I snack on pita chips and have half a glass of sparkling wine. We cuddle on the couch and watch Dave Chappelle's new comedy special on Netflix. My husband and I talk about going to see Black Panther next week and possibly going to this 80s-themed bar we've been wanting to go to for while. We conclude that there is no way we can do both given our 10:30 bedtime, so we decide to go to the bar next week and the movies the week after. Grandma 1 and Grandma 2 can babysit.
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12 a.m. We feel wild for staying up this late and exhausted. After Chappelle, we watch a show about women who go on a New Kids On The Block cruise. It's freaking fantastic. What bedtime? But seriously, I'll be up in two hours for my babe's 3:30 a.m. feed, so I need to go to bed.
Daily Total: $8

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Yay Sunday. We wake up and I eat a bowl of oatmeal and raisins. We head to church and I buy a decaf coffee. We go to my mother-in-law's house for free laundry and Sunday dinner. $2
6 p.m. — My mother-in-law doesn't feel like cooking tonight, so she takes us out for Mexican food. I destroy my dinner – breastfeeding makes me monstrously hungry all the time. My mother-in-law gives me her leftovers and some things from her fridge that she won't eat. We take homemade marinara sauce (which I freeze), tomatoes, and frozen chicken breasts. Yay!
7 p.m. — We get home and settle in. I put away the laundry and freeze the sauce. I pack the baby's diaper bag in preparation for the week to start again. Sundays always make me sad. This week we have an audit at work so I am going to have to step it up and actually do my job. My husband is holding my babe and playing video games. I sit down with my half glass of sparkling cider and read The Power in preparation for my book club meeting. I never finish the book but I love chatting and eating! Bedtime at 10:30.
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Daily Total: $2
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.
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.
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