A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $71,400 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 engineer working in biomedical engineering who makes $71,400 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on Sriracha.
Occupation: Project Engineer
Industry: Biomedical Engineering
Age: 28
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $71,400
Paycheck (1x/month): $3,698.96 after taxes, 401(k), health, dental, and vision insurance
Monthly Expenses
Every month I withdraw $600 and divide it into physical envelopes for various expenses, including food ($200) and the following:
Gym Membership: $15
Car Insurance: $100
Petco: $40
Costco: $15
Additional Expenses
Rent: $950, including utilities. (I live with my boyfriend in a condo that he owns. We split the rent.)
Student Loan Payment: $0. (My parents paid for my college tuition.)
Car Loan Payment: $430 for my Subaru, which includes third party extended warranty.
Roth IRA: $400
Phone Bill: $80 (for my share of the family plan)
Market America Vitamins & Household Items: $110-$160 (varies depending on items)
Savings: $1,000. (I currently have about $30,000 in total savings.)
UPS Store Mailbox: $120/year. (I get my packages delivered here because I don't trust my neighborhood.)
Amazon Prime Subscription: $99/year
Netflix: $0. (I use my boyfriend's brother's account.)

Day One

10 a.m. — Today is Sunday so I wake up later than usual and lounge around in bed with my boyfriend and our two dogs before we decide to go on a hike.
12:30 p.m. — After I get ready (eating Eggo waffles, changing into gym clothes, and feeding the dogs), my boyfriend asks if I want to bring the dogs with us. I do, but I know they'll get dirty and we'll have to shower them, which takes two hours. Plus, they just got haircuts last week and still smell good. We to flip a coin — heads for bringing them, tails for leaving them — and my boyfriend calls heads. Time for an adventure!
1:30 p.m. — The weather is beautiful and there are a lot of other people outside. The dogs are tired but the five-mile trip is worth it because there's a waterfall at the end of the hike that's great for picture-taking. We brought our fancy camera with us and take great scenic and doggie pictures.
3:30 p.m. — Finally back to the car. I take more pictures with my car for new Instagram content. (I have an Instagram dedicated to my car; it's weird, I know.) Then we head back home.
5:30 p.m. — Done with the showering! The bigger dog is exhausted and keeps falling asleep while we're showering her. Much cute; so tired.
5:45 p.m. — I review the pictures we took earlier today while my boyfriend calls his mom and brother; we decide to all go out to eat. I was born and raised a vegetarian, so sometimes it's difficult finding a restaurant that caters to everyone. Usually we can go anywhere but my boyfriend's family is on the Keto diet right now and today is a bit different.
6:45 p.m. — We wait out the very long line at the restaurant we picked because it'll take at least another 20 minutes to find another place. After we get seated and order, we catch up on everything that's been going on in our lives. My veggie omelet arrives and turns out amazing, complete with hash browns and pancakes. My boyfriend's mom pays.
8:15 p.m. — On the way home, we decide to stop by the Chinese supermarket to get a few groceries. My boyfriend's mom and brother join us because they're looking for Chinese BBQ sauce. We get frozen veggies, fish, two bags of edamame, Chinese eggplant, long string beans, Sriracha, veggie canned duck, and veggie rou song. I pay with cash. $35.76
9 p.m. — My boyfriend's mom and brother stop by our place afterwards for a bit and to say hi to our dogs. While they're all talking, I pack up Etsy orders from my shop that are ready to ship. My shop is mostly dedicated to selling handmade hair accessories and it's well worth maintaining for the amount of money I make from it. Plus, sewing is therapeutic. I made about $100 this week, which is not bad!
10:30 p.m. — They leave to go back home and I head straight to bed. I scroll through the Internet until I fall asleep at 11:30.
Daily Total: $35.76

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — Monday Funday. I snooze until 7:45 and drag myself out of bed.
8:10 a.m. — I make my usual breakfast – an English muffin egg sandwich – and wrap it up to take to work. I take my daily vitamins as well. I kiss my dogs and boyfriend goodbye (he started up his own business recently and works from home), and drive our electric car a whopping two miles to work.
8:20 a.m. — I'm parking at work when I look back and realize that the groceries we bought last night are still in the car! Fail. I don't want to turn around so I just hope they'll be okay until I go home for lunch.
9 a.m. — I put aside my egg sandwich and see that another department has brownies. I take one and eat it at my desk.
10 a.m. — I get a phone call from a recruiter saying that one of the companies I applied to wants to do a phone interview with me later this week. I'm excited because I've been working at the same company since college and I think it's time for a change!
11:50 a.m. — I rush home to put the groceries in the fridge and freezer ASAP. Then I finish my sandwich and eat fried rice.
1 p.m. — I drop off the packaged Etsy orders at the post office and go back to work.
5 p.m. — Time to go home and get ready for the gym! I call my mom every day after I get home from work so she knows that I'm safe. (Otherwise she freaks out.) She's been sick the last few days so I encourage her to make a doctor's appointment and get antibiotics.
5:45 p.m. — I'm in the car with my boyfriend on the way to the gym when my sister calls me. She had a miscarriage recently and is still recovering, physically and mentally. I sent her a little gift from Etsy and she just received it, so she calls to thank me and to tell me how she's doing.
6:15 p.m. — Bench press day! The flat benches are taken so my boyfriend and I head to the incline bench. Why is the gym so packed?! We do chest, triceps, and shoulders and then go to the sauna. The sauna is literally my cardio since I don't do cardio. Ain't nobody got time for that!
8:30 p.m. — After showering back at home, we order Mexican food for dinner. My go-to is carne asada fries (with meat on the side, which I give to my boyfriend). I usually put Morningstar veggie crumbles on there too. $17.82
9:30 p.m. — I eat half of my fries and cookies and cream ice cream before making Mickey ears and packaging them up! I've sold a total of four pairs on Etsy today.
11 a.m. — In bed and ready for sleep.
Daily Total: $17.82

Day Three

7:45 a.m. — I hit snooze one too many times and finally get up. Same breakfast sandwich to-go and I'm out of the door by 8:15.
8:30 a.m. — Today is busier at work, which is nice. I gobble my sandwich and make at least two trips throughout the morning to the water station. I only drink hot water at work because it's typically cold in the office and also because I'm Asian like that.
11 a.m. — I'm in my first meeting of the day and we are reviewing a new project. I'm excited to be part of the team for this!
12 p.m. — At home for lunch. Leftover fried rice is the dealio!
12:45 p.m. — I've sold three pieces today so I make them really quick at my craft table at home before going back to work.
5:20 p.m. — Done with work! I go home for the obligatory parent phone call and get ready to go to the gym with my boyfriend.
6 p.m. — Another packed day at the gym. Miraculously, both squat racks are open so we snag one and do overhead presses and Good Mornings. My shoulders are sore from yesterday but I ain't a quitter so I ignore it and power through my workout. We end with rows and the sauna.
8:30 p.m. — After the shower, I decide to make myself instant noodles and add in tofu, broccoli, edamame, two eggs, soy paste, and sesame oil. The end result turns out nothing like it's supposed to taste but it's still good and at least I'm getting protein in so I don't have to feel that bad about eating packaged noodles.
10:30 p.m. — I spend the rest of the night preparing for my phone interview and am asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — I am up! Same routine – make my breakfast egg sandwich, kiss dogs and boyfriend goodbye, and am out the door by 8:15.
12:15 p.m. — Home! Leftover chili in the fridge along with pancakes makes for a good lunch! Afterwards, I snuggle with my dogs and read online (currently hooked on a vampire book I found for free) before kissing them goodbye and going back to work.
5:05 p.m. — I rush home and call my parents. Today is rest day from the gym (thank goodness because I'm sore everywhere) but I have that phone interview tomorrow, so I spend the rest of the night preparing. I'm not the best at expressing myself so I'm trying really hard to prepare. Haven't had a phone interview since I started working at my current company more than five years ago!
10 p.m. — I eat a quick dinner of Cheerios and ice cream (thug life) and take a quick shower. I also make and package two items I sold today. I'm in bed by 10 and am so sleepy that I almost immediately knock out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:05 a.m. — I set a grand total of five alarms to ensure I wake up in time for the phone interview at 8 a.m. Unsurprisingly, I dreamed about missing the interview last night.
8:30 a.m. — The interview went okay, I think. The HR manager said she will let me know if the hiring manager wants to interview me, which would most likely be tomorrow. I get ready for work, make an egg sandwich, and head out.
9:30 a.m. — I draft a thank-you email and send it to the HR manager. I know I'm going to be nervous the rest of the day about this.
11:15 a.m. — Free Mexican food at lunch today! I get four mini cheese quesadillas, beans, and rice. I know I'm having a light dinner later.
4 p.m. — I haven't heard back yet from the HR manager regarding a second interview, so I email her to say that tomorrow still works but that I will need at least a few hours' notice to ensure that I'll be available. Cross my fingers!
6 p.m. — Finally off work! I make my usual call while I get ready for the gym. My boyfriend and I assess where we are sore and decide to do front squats today. We get to the gym and by another miracle, we score a squat rack again without having to wait.
8:30 p.m. — Ten sets of five reps of front squats with 95 pounds. My clavicle hurts. We sauna for 15 minutes and head home to shower.
9:30 p.m. — Cereal for dinner it is. I love Cheerios.
11 p.m. — Good night world.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:40 a.m. — I wake up at 7:20 but I snuggle with my boyfriend and dogs for about 20 minutes before actually getting up. Regular egg sandwich to-go for breakfast and I'm at work by 8:30.
9:45 a.m. — I get an email from the HR manager! I have a phone interview with the hiring manager scheduled this afternoon. I freak out for the rest of the morning while trying to be productive.
12 p.m. — Home for lunch and the interview. I eat, prepare my documents in front of me (resume, cover letter, job description, etc.), and give the dogs peanut butter so they'll be quiet while I'm on the phone.
1:35 p.m. — Done! I feel like this phone interview went way better than yesterday's. The hiring manager was very easy to talk to – personable and down-to-earth. I'm feeling excited about what's next. He mentioned that if they want to take next steps, the HR manager will contact me. Perfect.
5:30 p.m. — I head home and call my parents. I feel like eating out today so I convince my boyfriend to go to Café Spot, one of my favorite Hong Kong-style cafés. I get a tofu steak (a fried block of white tofu with sauce over it) and we get egg waffles for dessert. I have tried many egg waffles in this area and this is by far my favorite place for them. Boyfriend sneakily pays but I give him cash anyways. $10
8 p.m. — My boyfriend asks me if I want to watch a movie on Netflix, but I'm feeling super lazy so I spend the rest of my night looking up fabric and resin parts online for my Etsy shop.
Daily Total: $10

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — My boyfriend leaves early to go to Irvine for his part-time job. I decide to use the alone time to go shopping!
11:15 a.m. — First stop: the post office to drop off some sales. Second stop: my favorite boba place. It a has a buy one, get one free deal, so I buy two passionfruit green teas (my absolute favorite!). Third stop is the UPS store, where I pick up a few packages. $4.22
12 p.m. — I head to Walmart next for fabric ($8.42) and Cheerios ($3.64). I find a cruise fabric and a Hello Kitty fabric and then after 15 minutes of waiting, I finally get an associate who can help me. I asked, like, three people and no one knew how to cut fabric. (It's not rocket science!) $12.06
12:45 p.m. — Next I drive over to Joann Fabrics and Crafts, one of my favorite places. I browse around and literally spend half an hour standing in front of their cotton fabrics, finally deciding on some plain ones for my Etsy store. I make sure to use some coupons. $12.76
1:30 p.m. — Last stop: Michaels! I pick up fake flowers for my Etsy wares and take advantage of their coupons, too. $13.49
3 p.m. — I go home and start cutting fabric. Batman Returns is on Netflix and am still amazed at how good this movie is. I also purchase Toy Story fabric on eBay because Pixar Pier is opening up soon at Disneyland and I want to use it as an opportunity for more sales in my shop. I use my PayPal account, which is replenished whenever I sell something on eBay. (I have everything from Disney items, to stickers, to Star Wars themed-items listed on there.)
3:30 p.m. — I am starving so I use my air fryer to make air-fried potatoes. I add in sour cream, salsa, avocado, and Morningstar veggie crumbles. It's amazing, and potatoes make me poop, so I never feel guilty eating them.
6 p.m. — Boyfriend comes home and we consider watching a Netflix movie, but decide not to again. I spend the rest of the night crafting with my new fabric. #GrandmaStatus.
Daily Total: $42.53
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!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series