A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $55,000 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: an office manager working in architecture who makes $55,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a McDonald's Mighty Kids Meal.
Occupation: Office Manager
Industry: Architecture
Age: 27
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $55,000
Additional Income: $500/month from my parents, for the time being. I am extremely grateful for this.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,767
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,756 (I live in a small one-bedroom “affordable housing” apartment. $150 parking fee is included.)
Internet: $49.99
Electricity: $20
Gas & Water: $0 (Covered by my landlord.)
Cell Phone: $100
Car Insurance: $72
Medical, Vision & Dental Insurance: $0 (Covered in full by my employer.)
Netflix: $10.99 (I share my account with my entire family and then some.)
Pandora: $4.99
Apple Cloud Storage: $1.99
HBO, Showtime & Firestick: $0 (I use my parents' logins.)
Hulu: $0 (I use an old roommate's account.)
Costco: $0 (I'm on my parent's business account.)
Credit Card: $800-1,000, for the next couple of months until my debt is paid off. (I've paid off $8,000 in the past nine months.)
Savings: $0 (I've stopped saving so that I can focus on aggressively paying off my debt.)
401(k): I plan to have 4% taken out of my paychecks once I'm eligible, in addition to the 7.5% of my salary that my employer contributes. I will up my contribution amount significantly once my debt is paid off.
Additional Expenses
Therapy: $35, biweekly
Headspace: $95.88 for a year, paid up front

Day One

7 a.m. — Lord please no. Make it stop!! I've snoozed my alarm for the past 30 minutes and am still struggling to get moving this morning. I wake up to the snuggliest boyfriend, E., having completely forgot that I slept over at his place last night (thank you, NyQuil). Today is day 10 of fighting a terrible cold, but thankfully E. has been really into playing doctor lately and drags me out of bed to down some meds. He makes me an Americano with his Nespresso while I shower and then I'm ready and out the door by 7:35. E. walks me to my car and kisses me goodbye.
8:45 a.m. — One of my coworkers gets to work with a giant box of gourmet donuts from a shop downtown. I send an email to the office letting everyone know, and make my way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee and a donut.
9:30 a.m. — I remember it's payday and immediately get to paying my bills. I pay half of my reoccurring monthly bills every payday, so I pay my phone and car insurance bills. I also put $750 towards my credit card and move $385 into Digit for rent and bills later on down the road.
10:30 a.m. — I get a text from a friend inviting me to the spring sample sale for the designer she works for. As much as I'd like to go to support her, my budget doesn't allow for anything costly right now and the times sadly interfere with my work schedule, so I respectfully decline. This is the fourth time she's invited me to a sample sale and I've had to decline, so I have a feeling it will probably be the last.
12 p.m. — I scarf down the last of the fried rice I brought from home and go for a mile-long power walk. Everything is blooming and it is just lovely. I attempt to meditate in my car when I get back to the office, but my Headspace app won't load, so I scroll Instagram for a bit and catch up with my aunt on WhatsApp. She's heading to Chile for one of our cousin's weddings and it saddens me that I can't attend. Living in a different country than half of my family isn't always easy.
1 p.m. — Apparently there was an earthquake while I was out on my walk and everyone is talking about it. Super confused because I didn't feel a thing, so I make tea and check the L.A. Times, which calls the earthquake “the most powerful in years.” I grew up with hurricanes, so I find earthquakes intriguing yet terrifying at the same time.
3:30 p.m. — Tea time. I also grab a Snyder's 100-calorie pack from the office snack cabinet. My office provides K-cup coffee, Nespresso, soda, tea, and a variety of healthy snacks.
5 p.m. — I'm meeting my old roomie/bestie for birthday drinks tonight after her exam, so I head home to relax for a bit. I'm ravenous, but my fridge is basically empty, so I run down to the Jersey Mike's under my building and get a turkey sandwich combo. I devour the entire thing in less than 10 minutes, like a savage. Then I watch last night's episode of Life Sentence on the CW (seriously the cutest show!) and crawl into bed to unwind, since I'm still not feeling well. My best friend from college texts me asking if I felt the earthquake, and we end up chatting for two hours about her upcoming trip and life in general. She just moved to a new state with her boyfriend and is feeling the struggle of making new friends as an adult. $12.30
8:30 p.m. — The birthday girl is unable to get out of class early, so we reschedule for next Wednesday. I'm secretly relieved, since my anxiety has been through the roof today. I take a quarter of a Xanax and a long hot shower, Shiseido hair mask and all. Then I blow dry my hair and jade roll my face using my favorite Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate while watching Happy Anniversary on Netflix. The movie is terrible, so I turn it off halfway and get sucked into the black hole that is natural skincare on Instagram.
10:15 p.m. — Earplugs and silk eye mask, and then I'm out like a light.
Daily Total: $12.30

Day Two

7:10 a.m. — It's another chill morning in L.A., so I stay snuggled up in my cloud of a bed a little longer than usual. I do my extensive skincare regimen, jade roller and all, apply minimal makeup to make me look alive, and throw loose curls in my naturally wavy hair. I drink my morning Bragg apple cider vinegar and I'm out the door in under 30 minutes. Today is the first day in what feels like forever that I wake up feeling well.
9:45 a.m. — I am surprisingly not hungry this morning, but I force myself to drink a protein shake anyways. The Reset360 shakes are my absolute favorite! They are so satisfying, yet so delicious — I highly recommend. Friday is bagel day at the office, so I squirrel away two bagels for the weekend (it's all about balance). I take my vitamins and check my phone for the first time all morning and see that my boyfriend, E., has sent me a slew of sweet morning texts. Morning made.
11:15 a.m. — I fill up my S'well water bottle (I drink a ton of water and probably refill it about 10 times throughout the work day), make myself another mug of green tea with added collagen powder, and snack on pistachios from my desk stash.
12 p.m. — I run to Trader Joe's for my weekly haul and end up just buying things to tide me over for the next couple of weeks. I buy organic strawberries, bananas, apples, shredded carrots, a tomato, mixed greens, frozen pineapples, frozen mangos, a frozen tropical fruit blend, mushrooms, spiraled carrots, turkey meatballs, a large bag of organic chicken breasts, green tea mochi, green tea, organic maple syrup, pasta sauce, miso ginger salad dressing, hummus, two ThinkThin Brownie Crunch bars, reduced sodium pistachio nuts, roasted seaweed snacks, coconut water, and three bottles of wine. I get back to the office and make a large smoothie with greens, frozen fruit, and chia seeds. $115.32
3:30 p.m. — I take a break from work to order more Vitamin C serum on Amazon Prime. $19.99
5:30 p.m. — E. declares tonight a date night. I quickly change, and we walk down to the ocean. The beachfront hotel/restaurant on the boardwalk he wanted to take me to is slammed, so we turn around and head to our favorite beach-y dive bar. We each order two Bud Lights, split a small basket of fries, and catch up on life and the status of where I'm at with my debt repayment. I love how transparent we are with our finances and how supportive we both are of each other. E. pays ($42), and we head to the pier to catch the sunset.
7:20 p.m. — Neither of us is in the mood to fight the crowds at a formal restaurant, so we decide on Wagyu burgers at a new fast casual spot in the neighborhood. We each get a double cheese burger, and E. gets a beer. The burgers are AMAZING. His treat.
8:15 p.m. — We make a pit stop for froyo on our walk home. I get an original with a variety of chocolatey toppings, and E. gets a little of everything. He treats again.
8:45 p.m. — Home and shower time. We share a bottle of wine from my Trader Joe's haul and watch the season finale of Vanderpump Rules on Bravo. So trashy, yet so satisfying! It's our guilty pleasure.
10:30 p.m. — Skincare routine, then I'm out like a light.
Daily Total: $135.31

Day Three

7 a.m. — I am surprisingly up before my alarm and not hungover! We stay snuggled up in bed for a while and start making moves for the day when the alarm goes off. E. showers while I make the bed, and then he makes us breakfast while I steam our clothes. We split an everything bagel with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and nutritional yeast, and I put our new Ninja blender to the test and make us a shake with chocolate protein powder, water, banana, and chia seeds. We split it, and E. cleans the kitchen while I get ready for the day.
9:15 a.m. — We're heading to Newport Beach today, so I make a quick stop at Costco to fill up my gas tank before we hit the road ($50.15). We make it in a little under an hour, which allows us time to walk around and explore the sleepy town for a bit. Oh the beauty that is being on the road before 11 a.m. during a weekend in Los Angeles! I pay for five hours of parking, just to be safe ($7.80). $57.95
11 a.m. — Whale watching time! I bought us tickets on Groupon a couple of weeks ago. It was supposed to be a surprise for E., but I accidentally blurted it out over wine last weekend. Whoops! He gives me his card to go get us a round of drinks at the bar on the ship. I get us each a Bloody Mary and a small bag of Fritos to share, since I am feeling a bit seasick. I tip 15% because the bartender was so friendly ($32).
1:30 p.m. — The trip was such a treat. We saw two whales and a bunch of sea lions. My favorite part was just being out on the water and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I grew up on the water and find myself missing the simplicity of island life a lot these days.
2:30 p.m. — On the road back home. Traffic is a nightmare and I end up getting rear-ended on the 405. Awesome. The other driver is in a rental car on his way back to LAX to catch a flight home, so we exchange contact and insurance info, plus I get his Hertz information. I'm really shaken up, but somehow I hold it together.
4 p.m. — I call my parents for advice as soon as I get home, because I've never been in an accident before. E. suggests fresh air, so we walk to the diner across the street for a late lunch. We share a Mediterranean platter and a turkey club with a side of steamed broccoli. I can't find my wallet, so he pays ($28).
5:45 p.m. — I check my car for my wallet and realize that the hat I was wearing must have flown off in the accident, because it somehow made its way into the back of my car. No wonder my neck is sore. I wash my face to de-stress when I get back upstairs and open a bottle of wine for us to share. We drink it while watching the season finale of Summer House.
8 p.m. — I'm still pretty full from our late lunch, but E. is hungry, so I make us lentil pasta. He goes to the grocery store across the street because he wants more red wine, and I only have a bottle of white left. I meditate while he's gone.
10:30 p.m. — E. spills his wine all over my carpet and coffee table. I take deep breaths and proceed to help him clean it up. He freaks out, and the next thing I know, he's leaving. Super confused as to why he's upset in the first place, but I offer to get him an Uber. He refuses and keeps trucking on. Stubborn men, I swear. He lets me know when he's home, and I take a quarter of a Xanax and go to sleep, exhausted from the day.
Daily Total: $57.95

Day Four

8 a.m. — Awake and decide to have a lazy morning in bed. This is very rare for me, so I enjoy every moment of it.
10:40 a.m. — E. calls me after the gym to apologize for everything last night. He expresses to me that dealing with my anxiety and depression has been really hard on him. This is hard to hear — I had no idea it had been affecting him so much. But it means a lot that my happiness means so much to him.
2:30 p.m. — Make my way out of bed and shower. I throw three pieces of bacon in the oven before realizing that we used the last of my eggs yesterday morning. Too lifeless to care, I eat the bacon without eggs and spend the rest of my afternoon on the couch watching movies while doing a series of face masks.
5:30 p.m. — I throw a Stouffer's Tuna Noodle Casserole in the oven and pop some popcorn. My sister texts me to cancel our plans for tomorrow. Apparently she has a work outing she forgot about and asks me if we can reschedule. I find myself aimlessly scrolling Instagram for the umpteenth time today, and then decide to delete the stupid app once and for all.
8:30 p.m. — I cut up strawberries and pack up a week's worth of snacks to bring to work with me in the morning. Then I go to sleep hoping for a better day tomorrow.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — Monday, we meet again. I make my bed, open all the blinds, and do my usual skincare routine. Then I make a chocolate banana protein shake to bring to the office with me, water my orchid, and place it by an open window to get fresh air for the day. Traffic is a nightmare this morning, but I still make it to to the office by 8 a.m.
9 a.m. — Work is the last place I want to be right now. We have our weekly office meeting and I sit in the back to avoid having to talk to anyone. I'm usually really good at plastering a smile on my face when I'm down and pretending to be my usual cheerful self, but I am finding it impossible to shake this funk today. I text my therapist when the meeting is over to see if she can see me tomorrow instead of Wednesday. In the meantime, E. texts me to wish me a wonderful day and to apologize again. He asks if he can see me tonight to make it up to me. I decide to wait until I hear back from my therapist to respond.
10:35 a.m. — I eat a ThinkThin protein bar while drinking my third mug of tea for the day.
12 p.m. — I make avocado and lox toast sprinkled with Trader Joe's Everything But The Bagel seasoning and crushed red pepper, and then call Hertz to file a claim from the accident on Saturday. I drink the shake I brought from home while on the phone. They give me a claim number and tell me I should hear back from them within five business days with the next steps.
1 p.m. — I get back to the office and file a claim with my insurance company online. It looks like I won't be hearing from them for another day or so either. What a mess. My therapist texts me to tell me that she's unable to move our appointment to tomorrow, so I text E. back telling him he can come over tonight.
5 p.m. — Feeling emotionally and mentally drained, so I call my sister on my drive home to see if she's free on Friday afternoon. We haven't been on speaking terms since last summer, so the call brings up a ton of emotions. We laugh and we cry, and I hang up feeling like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest.
5:30 p.m. — I change into workout clothes and then E. and I go for a long walk to talk things out. Fighting isn't a normal thing for us since we normally communicate very well, but I can't help but feel that we are stronger because of it.
6:45 p.m. — We go to an Asian fusion restaurant we both like on the 3rd Street Promenade for a glass of wine. They tell us it's happy hour all night, and since it's so nice outside, we decide to make an impromptu date night out of it. We take advantage of the incredibly low prices and order pretty much everything on the menu. E. has three beers and I have three glasses of rosé. The bartender feels bad that the kitchen is backed up and gives us a free shot of a delicious whiskey and hibiscus concoction. E. insists on paying ($109 plus tip). We walk home feeling full and happy.
9 p.m. — We settle in for season 2 of Vanderpump Rules on Hulu.
10:30 p.m. — E. has a sweet tooth, so I bake him chocolate chip cookies and do my skincare routine before crawling into bed for the night. Earplugs and silk eye mask, then it's light out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7 a.m. — Thankful to the hangover gods for doing me a solid and not hitting me hard this morning. We shower and E. makes my bed and tidies up the kitchen while I get ready for work. I made a comment to E. last night that I forgot to water my plants (crazy plant lady alert — I have close to 20), and the next thing I know, he's moved all of my plants into the kitchen and is watering them. What a guy. We place them on the coffee table by the open balcony door to sunbathe for the day. He walks me to my car and kisses me goodbye before heading back home.
9:30 a.m. — Another busy morning at the office. I eat a ThinkThin bar and sip on Earl Grey tea while working.
11 a.m. — I sign for the Georgetown Cupcakes delivery I ordered for one of our employee's birthdays. They are seriously the cutest.
11:15 a.m. — My boss asks me to go to Target with him to return items he bought and I oblige. We discuss a new birthday policy for the office while in the car, because I've noticed a trend of quite a few birthdays going unrecognized despite being on his calendar.
12 p.m. — Back at the office. A coworker and I decide it's too beautiful of a day to eat inside, so we prep our lunches to go. I make a tropical fruit and chia seed smoothie and the same avocado lox toast as yesterday. We eat at a communal lunch area down the street and he updates me on all the lady happenings in his life. He tends to go for younger girls and I find his love life to be so entertaining.
2:44 p.m. — I take a shot of apple cider vinegar and cut up an apple to snack on along with my pistachios. I sip on green tea with collagen powder while I do research on the best sites to post the intern position we are looking to fill for the summer.
4 p.m. — I text my cousin via WhatsApp to confirm dinner next Monday when she's in town. I see that E. texted me a picture of the refund check from my old landlord which arrived today (my old roommate and I didn't know where we would be living, so we had it sent to his apartment). I notice our landlord deducted $600, so I text him immediately, as well as my old roomie. She's pretty pissed, because we left the apartment in far better shape than it was in when we moved in, and we had to live with termites for several months. I shrug it off for now and make a plan to put $200 towards joining the YMCA down the street from my apartment ($150 initiation fee, plus a $50 membership). I cancelled my kickboxing membership in the New Year, as I couldn't justify the high cost, and have been dying to get back into the gym.
5:30 p.m. — I check the mailroom and see that my package from Amazon was stolen (RIP Vitamin C Serum), so I walk over to the leasing office and let them know. This is my third package that has either not shown up or been stolen since I moved into this apartment a couple of weeks ago. I'm very frustrated, but I decide not to let it ruin my day. I snack on pretzels and hummus while I marinate chicken in TJ's Soyaki, run the dishwasher, and change into shorts. I grab my book, The Carpenter, and go read up on the roof area.
6:30 p.m. — I shower and then sage myself and my apartment. I've had seriously bad luck for several months now, so I'm really hoping this helps. I accidentally scratch the burn on my forehead from my curling iron and end up bleeding everywhere.
7 p.m. — I put Polysporin on my scab, and then it's dinner time. I throw on my favorite Ben Howard record while I cook the chicken I marinated and make a salad with mixed greens, tomato, shredded carrots, and carrot ginger dressing. I bought the dressing on a whim, and I have to say it is DELICIOUS! I pack the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
8 p.m. — It's a beautiful night, so I drink tea on the couch and stare aimlessly out my open balcony door at the city lights. Then I write in my gratitude journal and reflect on past entries. I haven't written in a while and I'm starting to realize how much it affects me when I don't.
9 p.m. — I crawl into bed and scroll through OfferUp to look at coffee tables, since E. is insisting on replacing the one he ruined over the weekend. I fall in love with a vintage bohemian table on the app, but it's sadly already been sold. My old one, which was only a few months old, is on sale, so I'll probably just get the same one.
10:15 p.m. — I go to sleep proud of myself for having three consecutive days of no spending.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

8 a.m. — A coworker stops me in the parking lot to give me a little something she has for me. This coworker is fairly new to the company and much older, so the gift comes as a surprise and really touches me. Just as I was beginning to lose faith in humanity…
8:15 a.m. — I take my ThermoPlus vitamin and sip on a cup of coffee with collagen powder while diving into my emails for the day.
9 a.m. — I make peanut butter toast with honey and chia seeds and eat at my desk. I also munch on strawberries. I take the rest of my daily vitamins: super algae, vitamin D3, a multivitamin, and 5-Htp.
10:30 a.m. — It's a very quiet day at the office, so I write E.'s mom a thank you card for the housewarming present she sent me a couple of weeks ago. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer sending handwritten cards over digital ones any day.
11:20 a.m. — Hungry and bored, I snack on roasted seaweed and catch up on today's Money Diary. The comment section gets me every single time. Like a trashy romcom, I just can't stop reading.
12 p.m. — All of the McDonald's talk in that MD has me craving nuggets, so I abandon the salad I brought from home and get a Mighty Kids Meal. Everything is sadly overcooked and flavorless, but I am ravenous. I reschedule a laser hair appointment while in the drive-through. $4.81
12:30 p.m. — I make a smoothie with the greens from my salad, strawberries, frozen fruit, and chia seeds. I also take a shot of apple cider vinegar to prevent heartburn later on in the day. I have to leave work early today, so I cut my lunch break short.
3:30 p.m. — After about an hour of reading California renters rights, I decide to message my dad the itemized deduction list from my landlord along with all of the photos I took of the unit before we moved out. My parents are landlords, and although they're in a different state, I can use any advice I can get. $450 for paint just isn't settling well with me. I re-read our lease and email the landlord requesting itemized receipts for the deductions. I mentally prepare to have to go to small claims court.
5:15 p.m. — I meet with my therapist for our biweekly appointment ($35). I've been seeing her for several months and I really look forward to our sessions. Not only do I feel like they've been helping me grow as a person, but I've also noticed an improvement with my communication skills and a better handle on controlling my emotions and stress. I'm a work in progress, but I always leave our sessions with a clearer head.
6:20 p.m. — I run up to my apartment to grab my denim jacket and change purses before walking over to the wine bar across the street. The place is packed, but I somehow snag two seats at a communal high top and order a bottle of cabernet while I wait for my old roomie/bestie. We haven't seen each other in three weeks, and you'd think it would have been a lifetime with the hug we have when she walks through the door. We spend over three hours catching up about everything under the sun and share two bottles of wine and a small meat lover's flatbread. Bottles are half off on Wednesdays, so we each spend $29.77 plus tip. $35
10 p.m. — What a week! I chat on the phone with the BF while doing my skincare routine. Then I down several glasses of water and it's lights out.
Daily Total: $39.81
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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