A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $51,000 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.
Want even more Money Diaries, plus $$$ advice from a kick-ass, all-female team of financial advisors, and tips on how to save more than $500? Pick up our new book: Money Diaries: Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Your Finances... and Everyone Else's. It's out now — order here!
Today: an assistant general manager working in fashion retail who makes $51,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Aperol.
Advertisement
Occupation: Assistant General Manager
Industry: Retail Fashion
Age: 27
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $51,000 + ~$350 in commission/month
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,511
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,400 for my studio apartment
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I went to community college for three years and paid out of pocket. I never went to a university, so therefore didn’t have to take out student loans.)
Car Insurance: $60 (I pay my parents.)
Phone: $70 (I pay my parents.)
Credit Cards: ~$460
Internet: $40
Gas/Electric/Trash: $40
Spotify/HBO/Netflix: $33
Medical/Dental/Vision Insurance: $0 (covered by my employer)
Savings: This varies. I use Digit and have different funds set up – rainy day savings, vacation, additional credit card payments, and a splurge fund. I'm saving up to buy Parachute towels.
Annual Expenses
Amazon Prime: $119

Day One

8 a.m. — I lay around in bed for a while looking at Instagram and catching up on news via Twitter. Then I take a look at Poshmark and notice I sold three things! This is seriously unexpected, since I've had radio silence from the app for a few weeks. I have leftover USPS boxes, so I pack up the items to get them shipped out this morning. Hopefully the $119 will be in my account before this weekend *fingers crossed*.
8:20 a.m. — I finally get up and pour some cold brew. I've been getting better about making cold brew at home so I don't have to spend $5 every day on coffee. Plus, I buy coffee beans from my local coffee shop, so it tastes pretty much the same.
8:35 a.m. — I get back in bed and make a list of everything I need to clean in the apartment. I have a friend visiting this weekend and I have a lot of tidying up to do. I originally was going to have a house cleaner come, but realized most of the cleaning is just my crap everywhere so the $65 expense isn't totally necessary. Plus, this is going to be a pretty expensive weekend, so I should probably save the money.
Advertisement
9:20 a.m. — I pack leftover orange chicken and cauliflower fried rice for lunch. I don't need to do my hair — I curled it yesterday, so it should look good for a few days. I wash my face, use Thayers witch hazel toner, and put on Glossier Priming Moisturizer, Glossier Lash Slick Mascara, and Glossier Perfecting Tint. I'm ready to go.
9:50 a.m. — Out the door and I have to walk a few blocks to get my car. The parking in my neighborhood is seriously awful, so it's not uncommon for me to park a few blocks away. My commute to work is 25 to 30 minutes, but I have to stop for gas on the way, which should probably last me a little more than a week. I also stop at the post office to drop off the Poshmark orders. $29
11 a.m. — Get settled in at work. There's not much on my to-do list today, so I get started on condensing a call list and then trying on new clothes that we just received. There are some really cute jeans that I like, but I hold off on purchasing them because I just ordered a pretty similar pair and I want to wait and see if I like them first.
1 p.m. — I'm starving, so I take my lunch break. I heat up the leftover orange chicken and cauliflower fried rice in the microwave and sit at the computer. I read Money Diaries with my coworker — a lunchtime ritual for us. I want something cute to wear when my man friend comes to town, so I browse Zara's website and find this really cute floral dress. I buy it and hope it arrives before the weekend. $76.54
Advertisement
3 p.m. — We get a box of shipment, so I process that as slowly as I can to take up time. Today is really slow. Then I re-merchandise the floor a little bit. We received tons of units in a certain style, so I put it on the front table in hopes that it will sell.
4 p.m. — I start to get bored-hungry, so I pop over to the coffee shop next door and get an iced matcha latte with oat milk — a.k.a. heaven. This is a really, really trendy coffee shop, so the scene is pretty comical. I leave with a few good stories to tell my coworkers — I have been woken up out of my work boredom for the day. $5
7 p.m. — I forgot to bring snacks today and I am STARVING. I quickly write the closing email and chug water to hold me over until I get home.
7:40 p.m. — I get home after only looking for a parking spot for five minutes — win! I turn my portable A/C on (L.A. summers are no joke) and then quickly change out of my work clothes and into something comfy so I can make dinner.
7:50 p.m. — I intended on making carrot noodle pasta with spicy sausage tonight, but jokes on me because I have no sausage left. I improvise by sautéing zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and garlic, and then top it off with arrabbiata sauce. I then cut up cucumber to take to work tomorrow with hummus. I also make a batch of cold brew, which should last me three days.
Advertisement
8:45 p.m. — I get started on my cleaning to-do list. I crack open a White Claw and turn on the record player to make cleaning more enjoyable. I deep clean and organize my bathroom tonight and will do the rest tomorrow and the day after.
9:30 p.m. — Start getting ready for bed. I wash my face and then apply Thayers toner and rosehip oil. Then I get in bed and mindlessly flip through Netflix and HBO until finally landing on Insecure. I need to catch up on last season. I end up watching three episodes and falling asleep around 12:30.
Daily Total: $110.54

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up early today because I have a doctor's appointment before work. I get up and pour coffee, wash my face, and hop back in bed to spend time on my phone/computer before I have to really get ready. My new insurance just kicked in about a week ago and I'm still having trouble accessing my account online. I spend a good chunk of my time emailing HR back and forth, because I'm stressed I won't have the information I need once I'm at the doctor.
8:20 a.m. — Hop out of bed and quickly pack my lunch (leftover carrot noodle pasta, cucumbers with spicy hummus, and a Bobo's oat bar), put my makeup on, get dressed, and head out the door.
10 a.m. — Finish up with my doctor's appointment and we schedule a date for surgery in two weeks. I've been seeing this podiatrist for five months, but my foot hasn't gotten better. The insurance at my old job was really shitty, so I wanted to wait until my new insurance kicked in before scheduling surgery. My new insurance covers 100% of the costs, so the doctor's office urges me to pay the $500 deductible today, so then the surgery will be “free” in two weeks. Let's just say I was NOT anticipating this charge, so I have a little bit of sticker shock, but at least I'm getting it over with. I also pay the $30 copay and $8 for parking. Luckily, I have money put aside in savings, so this doesn't affect my day-to-day spending. $538
Advertisement
12 p.m. — It's really hot today, so it's really slow at the store and there hasn't been much to do since I got here. I get an email about sending items back to the warehouse, so I get started on that. This should take up a good chunk of my day.
1 p.m. — My angel coworker comes in and brings goodies in the form of brownies and cookies from Milo & Olive. Just in time for lunch! I reheat my leftover carrot pasta and sit at the computer to online window shop. My friend calls me and mentions he wants to get a Lovesac couch. I pull up the website on my work computer to take a look, and then 15 minutes later I'm scrolling through Instagram and see a targeted ad! HOW?!
4:15 p.m. — I've been powering through this RTV and run out of boxes, so I take a break. I eat cucumber with spicy hummus, refill my water bottle, and mindlessly swipe through Bumble. I haven't been on a Bumble date in ages, so I don't know why I still do this to myself. Dating in L.A. is seriously the worst!
7:05 p.m. — Leave work and head over to my friend's house who lives five minutes away. We're watching Bachelor In Paradise tonight and she's making queso and a Mexican salad. I stop at the grocery store and pick up tortilla chips and White Claw. $11.50
7:20 p.m. — Get to her place and park at a meter. She lives in a permitted neighborhood, so I can't park on the street. $4
Advertisement
9:15 p.m. — Run out and add another hour to the meter. $2
10:30 p.m. — Finally get home and there's nowhere to park. I park at a meter and set my alarm to 7:55 a.m. so I can move my car before the meter turns on. I'm so tired and am too lazy to take off my makeup, so I get in bed and fall asleep shortly thereafter.
Daily Total: $555.50

Day Three

7:55 a.m. — Wake up, walk a block to move my car, find a spot, and come back inside and hop in the shower. I make coffee once I'm out, chill in bed for a little, and look at Instagram. My friend who is coming into town tomorrow texts me about plans and I help him figure out how to get to my apartment from the airport. We chat more about what restaurants we want to visit. I'm getting excited!
9 a.m. — I blow dry my hair and do the usual Glossier beauty routine. I put together a random lunch of leftover chickpea pesto pasta, pita crackers, cucumber, hummus, and a Suja probiotic juice I find in my fridge. I also grab a Zara dress that I just got in the mail. I'm not sure if I want to keep it and might return it after work if I feel like braving The Grove.
11 a.m. — Sit down and start drinking my juice. I'm kind of in limbo until we receive more shipping boxes today. I text my hairstylist, who now works right above me, and she can fit me in for a blowout today! I want my hair to look cute for the weekend, so I'm really happy she can see me.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — It's lunchtime but I'm not super hungry, so I snack on cucumbers and hummus. I also re-share all my stuff on Poshmark, hoping to get another sale. I try on my Zara dress at work and show my coworkers. They agree I should return it.
2 p.m. — The shipping boxes get delivered...so I resume my task from yesterday.
2:45 p.m. — I get a text from my hairstylist that she can take me now, so I head to the salon upstairs. She blows me out and curls my hair. I was kind of expecting to pay maybe $20-$30, but she tells me it's gonna be $55. I almost have a heart attack, but keep my composure. Definitely won't be doing this again. $55
3:20 p.m. — Back in the store and I finish boxing up the clothes we're sending to the warehouse. I'm starting to get hungry, so I take a little break and eat my pasta salad. I really want to get a coffee next door, but I need to save my coins after that expensive blowout!
4 p.m. — My boss gets a tea next door and brings me back a milk tea with boba! Yay!
5:30 p.m. — I'm done boxing up the clothes, but we pulled a bunch of things off the floor, so I go out and re-merchandise the racks and add a few things that weren't out already. I then take a little break and scroll through Pinterest and find a recipe to make for dinner.
Advertisement
7:10 p.m. — I'm too lazy to go to Zara. I stop at Trader Joe's on my way home to get stuff to make sweet potato kale hash. I buy sausage, sweet potatoes, yellow onions, balsamic vinegar, red pepper, ghost pepper chips, and canned white wine. I snack on the chips while I drive home. $17
8 p.m. — I finally get home and can't find a parking spot, so I end up parking at meter. I set my alarm for 8 a.m. so I remember to move it. I get inside and turn on Big Brother (don't make fun of me) and crack open a White Claw.
9 p.m. — I wash my face, apply rosehip oil, and then start making sweet potato, sausage, and kale hash. I clean the kitchen while it's cooking. Once it's done, I save some for leftovers and eat the rest while watching Real Housewives of Orange County. I fall asleep shortly after.
Daily Total: $72

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and decide to move my car. I come back in, wash my face, and finish cleaning the apartment. My friend arrives this morning, but I'm going to be at work when he gets here. I don't feel like making coffee this morning, so I'll just get some at the coffee shop next to my work.
8:30 a.m. — I pack my lunch, get dressed, and I'm out the door.
9:15 a.m. — There's a lot of traffic this morning, so I get to work a little late. It's okay because the cleaners aren't here yet, so they didn't have to wait for me. I quickly grab a cold brew with oat milk next door. $4.50
Advertisement
10 a.m. — I re-merchandise the racks in the front of the store because the new product hasn't really been selling for us. Then I move around the men's product to make it look new.
11 a.m. — My boss gets in and we take a call with our visual merchandiser. The mannequins haven't really been looking "L.A.," so we chat with her about the issues we're having and what kind of looks we would ideally want them to wear.
11:30 a.m. — We get started on scanning out all the clothes that are being sent to the warehouse. There are about 11 boxes so it takes a while, but it's pretty efficient when there are two people doing it.
12:30 p.m. — I take my lunch and reheat the sweet potato, sausage, and kale hash. It's so good! Then I take a walk around the block, but don't last long because it's so hot!
1:30 p.m. — We get more shipment, so I spend the rest of the day scanning it into the system and placing it on the floor. My boss is amazing and ends up letting me leave early so I can see my friend!
5:45 p.m. — I get to my apartment and A. is waiting there. I haven't seen him in almost a year, so we catch up and I hear about what he did today. He hasn't been to L.A. in years, so it's going to be fun showing him the city this weekend. I text my friend, R., who lives a few blocks away to see if he wants to grab dinner with us. He does, so I order a Lyft to pick him up and take us to the restaurant. R. Venmos me for half of the ride. $3.50
Advertisement
6:15 p.m. — We go to this local sushi restaurant in Silver Lake each get our own sushi, but split sake. It's really good and filling! A. pays and I Venmo him for my portion including tip. $41
7:15 p.m. — We're going to a concert in Highland Park, so we take a Lyft over there and I split it with R. We decide to go to a bar first because the artist we want to see isn't on until 9:45. $5
7:45 p.m. — We decide on going to ETA and I get a strawberry Aperol spritz while my friends get beer. We stay at the bar for quite some time talking about Portland and the restaurant scene in L.A. $13
9 p.m. — We head over to the venue and I get two beers while I'm inside. The artist we're seeing is Nick Mulvey and he's really good, but is kind of giving us youth pastor vibes, so we don't stay for the whole concert. A. starts to get a little handsy during the concert and puts his arm around me. I wasn't expecting this, and I guess we'll see how the night goes. $18
11 p.m. — We head over to a bar closer to where we live to meet up with friends. Someone gets the Lyft and it's not me?
11:20 p.m. — When we get to the bar, I order a margarita and put R.'s tequila shot on my tab. I'll have him Venmo me later. $20
Advertisement
11:40 p.m. — There's a photo booth at this bar, so I obviously take pics with R. He pressures me and A. into taking one because he's been picking up on the vibes from the evening. Nothing happens in the photo booth, but the photos turn out really cute! After an hour, we're ready to call it a night, so A. and I walk back to my apartment. $10
12 a.m. — We get back and get in bed. I turn on Insecure to make this whole sleeping together thing less awkward. We watch a few episodes and he holds my hand, which then turns into much more.. ;)
Daily Total: $115

Day Five

7 a.m. — Didn't really get a great sleep last night, because there was a lot of cuddling involved. I remember today is street cleaning, so I need to move my car to the right side of the street. I get up and move my car and then come back to bed to cuddle more.
10 a.m. — I finally get up and make some pour over coffee. A. is still sleeping, so I leave him coffee for when he wakes up.
10:50 a.m. — We're finally up and ready to get breakfast. We walk to the metro and take it to the next stop. $1.75
11:05 a.m. — We take the metro to get breakfast tacos and queso. I get two tacos (bacon, egg, cheese, and potato) and queso for us to split. This place is the best, because they make all their tortillas in house. $18.67
Advertisement
11:45 a.m. — It's so hot outside! I'm feeling a little lightheaded and we're too lazy to walk to the metro, so we take a Lyft back to my place to rest a little bit before heading back out for the day. $4
1 p.m. — We take the metro downtown to Grand Central Market. We walk around and grab a coffee from one the vendors inside. I get an iced coffee with macadamia/almond milk and he gets a hot coffee. Then we then do a little walking tour of downtown — I show him the Bradbury Building, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Broad, and the rooftop bar at the Intercontinental. $4.50
3 p.m. — It's still so hot outside and we've walked a bunch, so we take a Lyft over to the Arts District to grab a beer. $4
3:15 p.m. — We decide to go to the Arts District Brewery and as luck would have it, they're doing $5 beers. We each get one and bask in the cold A/C. I really want tater tots, but I resist the urge. After we finish our beers, we do a little walking tour of the Arts District and visit the Hauser & Wirth gallery. $5
5 p.m. — We walk over to the metro and take it back to my apartment to get a little rest in before dinner and a concert. $1.75
6:30 p.m. — After cooling down and freshening up, we take a Lyft to the restaurant. $4
Advertisement
6:45 p.m. — We get to Mh Zh just early enough to snag seats at the chef's counter. We order hummus, braised cabbage, beats, and lamb. Everything is SO SO SO delicious! I love this restaurant so much and it's always my number one recommendation for anyone visiting the East Side. We devour our food and split the bill. A. orders a Lyft to a wine bar, because we have time to kill before heading to the concert. $31
7:15 p.m. — We each get a glass of red wine and A. pays because I've been getting a lot of Lyfts today. The venue didn't release set times for the concert, so we head over soon after they say doors open. We split the Lyft. $7
8:30 p.m. — The venue is packed! I think everyone did the same thing as us and got here early. I don't really know the artist tonight, so I can't be sober. I order a margarita at the bar and sip it slowly so I don't have to buy another one. I run into an ex of mine when I'm with A., which is kind of awkward, but the concert ends up being really good and all is well. $11
11:15 p.m. — We're both feeling a little sleepy and don't feel like going out, so we split a Lyft back to my place. We end up cuddling and falling asleep soon after we get home. $6
Daily Total: $98.67

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up earlier than A. and do my usual morning routine — wash my face, toner, moisturizer, and makeup. We're going to the beach today and need to get a semi-early start, so I wake A. up and we head out the door before 10.
Advertisement
11 a.m. — We stop at Gjelina Take Away to grab breakfast burritos for the beach. I also buy a bottle of water. $13
12:15 p.m. — Jokes on us for leaving "early," because there's tons of beach traffic! We finally get to Malibu and settle on Zuma Beach, because they have bathrooms and I really have to pee after that long drive. A. pays for parking ($14) because I drove. We set up our blankets and the beach is PACKED! We eat the breakfast burritos and can't stop talking about how amazing they are. I can say with 100% certainty that this is the best breakfast burrito I've ever had! I will be driving to the west side for this.
3 p.m. — After a few hours we're starting to get the itch to leave. We take the freeway home this time, because there's still so much traffic! We have dinner plans really late tonight with some friends, but are feeling super gross from the beach so we both shower and spend time in my A/C.
5 p.m. — Both of us are starting to get a little hungry so we to a Lyft to get happy hour. $4
5:15 p.m. — We go to my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Condor, where we each get a margarita and split chips and guacamole. I thought there was going to be a happy hour, but it's Saturday, so that's a no. We still have a bunch of time to kill before dinner, so we do a mini-bar crawl. First stop: Black Cat. $18
Advertisement
6:15 p.m. — This bar has a $5 daily punch special and today it's a spicy paloma. It's really good, but we're not really feeling the vibe here right now, so we head over to Bar Stella. $6
6:45 p.m. — Bar Stella has the best margaritas, so of course I get one! A. gets a cucumber mezcal cocktail and really likes it. My friends text me and say they're on their way over. When they get here, I order another margarita. We chit chat and spend enough time here until our dinner reservation. $26
8:45 p.m. — We walk down the street to Ma'am Sir, a new Filipino restaurant that just opened that none of us have tried yet. Our table is ready right when we get there and the place is packed! We do family style and split a bunch of things, but our favorites are the longganisa sandwich and lumpia. We can't decide what we want to do after this...there's talk of going to a Pornhub party (not interested), or Bar Calo (very much my speed), but the responsible one in the group suggests we just get ingredients to make Aperol spritzes and drink at his place. Everyone unanimously agrees on this idea. We all split the bill evenly and walk over to Vons. $30
10:15 p.m. — I get Aperol, prosecco, soda water, and oranges. Everyone Venmos me for their portion. $9
10:30 p.m. — After walking over to my friend's house, the designated bartender of the group gets started on making the Aperol spritzes. We all decide on playing a few rounds of Quiplash and calling it a night.
11:15 p.m. — A. and I take a Lyft back to my place. After a day full of drinking, you can guess what happens back at my place ;). $4
Daily Total: $110

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — After yesterday's long day, I sleep in today and wake up to a text from my friend who wants to do brunch with bottomless Aperol spritzes. I had wayyyy too much alcohol yesterday and don't think I can handle any more Aperol, let alone bottomless Aperol, so I suggest we go to a brunch place that has cocktails instead. I make a reservation for four.
11 a.m. — I wake A. up and let him know about our brunch plans. He wants to get in a little run before we go and I want to go to get my grocery shopping done before work tomorrow, so this is perfect.
11:15 a.m. — I get to Trader Joe's and stock up on sweet potatoes, kale, bell peppers, spicy hummus, carrot noodles, spicy Italian sausage, cauliflower rice, pasta sauce, and water. $29
12:15 p.m. — We head over to one of my favorite brunch spots in Echo Park — Ostrich Farm. I don't plan on drinking, so I drive. I find a meter right outside the restaurant (free on Sundays). My friend and her boyfriend meet us there and we split a flatbread, brioche french toast sticks, and tangerine mimosas. The boys get their own thing. So much for not drinking... $29
1:30 p.m. — We don't really feel like going our separate ways just yet, so I suggest we walk across the street to this cute bar called Bar Calo. We all get papaya and grapefruit spritzes and hang out in the super cold A/C for a while. My friends have to run errands, so they head out once we finish the drinks. A. and I head back to my place and take a nap. I like naps, what can I say? $15
5 p.m. — Somehow we're already hungry, so we head over to Pine & Crane for A.'s final meal. This was #1 on his list of places to visit in town and I agree with him — this place is the best! We split pork buns, spicy shrimp wontons, and mapo tofu. I have a few bites of everything and and save some leftovers for lunch tomorrow. $20
6 p.m. — It's so nice outside and I have blankets in my car, so we head over to the Silver Lake meadow to lounge on the grass. There's tons of people out and the weather is honestly perfect. It starts getting cold and we head over to my favorite ice cream place — Magpies Softserve. I get a cup of sweet cream soft serve with vegan fudge and butterscotch rice krispies. $4.50
9 p.m. — A.'s flight leaves tonight at 11:50 and we don't really want to go back to my place, so he suggests we go to a bar to kill time. I want to go to a place that's en route to the airport and I remember there's this cute wine bar in Chinatown called Oriel. We stop at my place to pick up his luggage and head over there. We each get a glass of syrah and sit at the bar. I'm pretty surprised we still have stuff to talk about, given we've been attached at the hip for three days. This is a really nice end to the trip though. $17
11:15 p.m. — What a whirlwind weekend! I'm finally back home from dropping him off at the airport and I have zero energy to wash my face. I practically pass out once I get home.
Daily Total: $114.50
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.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following theme:
Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
We want to know: If you didn't have student loans, what would you spend that money on? Would you invest it, throw it in a vacation fund, buy that bag you've been eyeing, or save it for a rainy day? Let us know here for a chance to be featured on the site.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series