A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $36,400 Salary

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Today: a stylist working in fashion sales who makes $36,400 per year and spends some of her money this week on chips and guacamole.
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Occupation: Stylist
Industry: Fashion Sales
Age: 30
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $36,400
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,100, plus monthly bonus
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,349 (Split evenly with my boyfriend)
Student Loan Payment: $117
Cell Phone: $110
Cable & Internet: $74.94 (Split evenly with my boyfriend)
Car Insurance: $0 (My parents generously still take care of this for me.)
Electric & Gas: ~$50, included in our monthly housing bill
Netflix: $0 (We use my boyfriend's parents' account.)
Hulu: $7.99
Apple Music: $9.99
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Book Of The Month Subscription: $14.99
Imperfect Produce Subscription: ~$60 (boyfriend pays)
Health, Vision & Dental Insurance: $0 (covered by my employer)
Savings: ~$60 (I recently started using the Digit app. I also have $5,582 in my 401(k) plan from my previous employer. My current employer does not match contributions, so I'm waiting until I earn a little more monthly to start retirement savings again.)
Credit Card: ~$400 (working to pay off my debt ASAP)

Day One

9:20 a.m. — Wake up after snoozing the alarm a few times. It's a rough wake-up this morning —I think from a combination of my sleep apnea being particularly bad lately and the fact that I had three too many glasses of champagne at a 70th birthday party last night. I get dressed, feed my cat, and scoop the litter box.
11:30 a.m. — Roll through the Starbucks drive-through for an iced blonde latte with my boyfriend, M. I often put both our drinks on my Starbucks card so I can earn more stars. Sometimes I ask him to Venmo me back and sometimes I don't. Today I don't. $7.90
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12 p.m. — Arrive at work and settle into my desk. I don't have any appointments today, so I just get straight to work on styling some clients' monthly looks. Having trouble keeping my eyes open, even though I'm drinking my coffee.
3 p.m. — Decide to take lunch an hour early because I didn't eat breakfast and I'm starving. I walk to a local burger joint, Tom's #5, and get a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke. I eat lunch with my favorite coworkers and read about the Golden State Killer, followed by a supremely chilling article written by the BTK Killer's daughter. I'm a true crime fanatic through and through, and a few of my coworkers are fellow Murderinos, so we often trade stories and share articles with each other. $6.50
5:20 p.m. — Walk with my friend and coworker to move our cars into the office lot. We're not allowed to park here during the day because the other tenants in our building own the spots, but we can move our cars in after 5 p.m. I like to do this on days when I work until 8 or 9 p.m. so that I have a shorter distance to walk in the dark when I leave.
9:30 p.m. — Arrive home from work and find a great parking spot on the street. We only have one parking spot in the garage of our building, and my boyfriend and I trade off week to week. I had a late lunch so I'm not super hungry, but we just got our weekly box of Imperfect Produce, so I make a little something. We started our Imperfect Produce subscription a few weeks ago and we're obsessed — it costs about $11-15 per week for a box of veggies that holds us over for the week ahead, and we're helping reduce food waste at the same time. There's nothing wrong with the veggies — they're either funky-shaped or produced in surplus — and they would otherwise be discarded if we didn't buy them because they were deemed "not good enough" for the grocery store! Tonight, I roast acorn squash, zucchini, onion, and brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and turmeric.
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10:30 p.m. — Watch YouTube videos before pouring a big glass of ice water and doing my evening skincare routine. I wash my face with a Japanese foam cleanser called Naive, tone with rosewater, apply Le Labo moisturizer, and brush my teeth. Then I get settled on the couch and crack into the book I'm currently reading, The Girl Who Smiled Beads. It's a gorgeously written autobiography by Clemantine Wamariya, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. I'm just a few dozen pages in, but I'm totally captivated by her story and her writing. I read until it's time for bed.
Daily Total: $14.40

Day Two

9:30 a.m. — Wake up after hitting snooze a few times. I have the day off work, so I relish the extra time in bed with M. We relax and fool around for a while, finally forcing ourselves up around 11:30 to get dressed and head to the bank. It's the first of the month, so rent is due today. Our building requires us to pay rent with a cashier's check, so we head over and pick one up, and then head to the Starbucks drive-through for coffee. M. pays.
12 p.m. — Arrive back at home, and after dropping off the check, we make lunch. There are still veggies leftover from last night, which we eat with rice, prepackaged Indian food (madras lentils for me, Kashmir spinach for him), and fresh cucumber and avocado. We watch the latest episode of Atlanta and I clip my cat's claws, which she hates.
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2 p.m. — I scrounge up enough quarters from our coin bank to do my laundry. I was getting dangerously low on underwear, so doing this chore is a necessity. $5.25
3:25 p.m. — I grab my laundry from the machines and fold it while watching YouTube videos. I have a huge appreciation for luxury fashion, but lack the budget to purchase much of it at this point in my life, so it's fun to live vicariously through vlogger ladies. I also pour myself a big glass of ice water. I drink lots and lots of water at work every day, so I try to keep that up when I'm at home, too. Hydration is so important!
5:44 p.m. — I've been feeling pretty bleh all day, and I think it's because I'm PMS-ing. I'm craving junk food and also feeling super lazy, so I decide to order Jack in the Box on Postmates. I order my favorite, a Jack's Spicy Chicken meal, and add a Jumbo Jack to avoid the small cart fee. M. is at work and will be there until midnight, so I'll veg out and watch TV tonight on my own. While I'm waiting for Postmates, I take a quick shower. I use Kristin Ess Extra Gentle Shampoo and L'Oreal conditioner. $21.72
8 p.m. — I pack a bowl of Blue Dream weed and settle in on the couch with The Real Housewives. I've cut back significantly on the amount of weed I smoke when I'm alone, but tonight I just want to chill and loaf around, so I smoke a little bowl by myself.
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10:07 p.m. — Update: I'm high and can't stop watching Cardi B interviews. I love her so much.
12:30 a.m. — Go to bed after finishing up the episode of SNL hosted by Chadwick Boseman with Cardi B as the musical guest. I have a bit of trouble falling asleep (I think it's because my doctor recently increased my Zoloft dosage and my body is still adjusting to it), but it ends up being a productive time — M. and I talk through issues I've been having at work lately, and I come up with exciting ideas that I look forward to implementing tomorrow. I finally fall asleep around 1:25 a.m.
Daily Total: $26.97

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and can't get back to sleep. After some Instagram-scrolling, I crack into The Girl Who Smiled Beads and read for about an hour. The story is so captivating that I've almost finished the whole thing, and this is only my third day of reading it.
9 a.m. — My alarm goes off and M. wakes up, too. I get out of bed after we have time together and then do my morning routine: wash my face with Naive face wash, tone with rosewater, apply Le Labo moisturizer, and then put on Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment, Bare Minerals powder, Tarte blush, and Bobbi Brown mascara. Lately I've been keeping my makeup minimal during the day and then adding a flick of cat-eye liner and lipstick for nights out.
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11:15 a.m. — I hop in my car, which has been on E for a day, and can feel it sputtering out as I pull into the gas station. After gassing up ($30.11), I stop at the Starbucks drive-through ($3.95) and then head to the office. $34.06
12 p.m. — Arrive at work and settle into my desk. I'm excited to implement some of the new ideas I brainstormed while I was tossing and turning last night, and I get right to it while writing to my clients. In just a couple of hours, I can tell that it's having an impact, which is super exciting. I'd been feeling a bit uninspired and unmotivated with certain aspects of my job, and now I'm starting to get back into the groove.
1:30 p.m. — When I work the 12 to 9 p.m. shift, my eating schedule gets all out of whack. I'm hungry, so I grab my leftover rice and lentils from yesterday's lunch to eat.
4 p.m. — Just as I start to get really stir crazy, it's time for my lunch break. I walk with a few of my coworkers to the trendy shopping area down the street from our office, and they pick up boba from a new tea spot. Then we make a stop at an awesome Mexican place, where I order chips and guac. It's fantastic. I move my car into the office lot. $5.45
9:25 p.m. — Arrive home and immediately change into silk boxers and take off my bra. That's gotta be one of the best feelings in the world. I spaced out my meals a lot better today, so I'm not hungry for a late night dinner. For lunch tomorrow, I roast up brussels sprouts with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and brown sugar, and make Israeli couscous with bell pepper, cucumbers, and avocado.
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10:50 p.m. — I chat on the phone with M. for a while — he's leaving work and headed to a friend's house to hang and play video games — and then decide I want to finish off The Girl Who Smiled Beads tonight. I turn on the heater and light a candle to up the cozy factor and then hop to it.
11:47 p.m. — I'm suddenly exhausted, so I tuck in and decide to finish reading tomorrow.
Daily Total: $39.51

Day Four

8:40 a.m. — Wake up and roll around in bed for a while, not wanting to get up. After a while, I force myself out of bed and hop in the shower. My hair has a lot of product in it today, so I double-shampoo and then shave my legs and armpits while conditioning.
10:20 a.m. — I leave the house a little later than planned, but still feel the need to get coffee on the way to work. As usual, I roll through the Starbucks drive-through that's on my way and pick up an iced latte. I text my boss to let her know I'll be a few minutes late. $3.95
11:08 a.m. — I sit down at my desk and discover a beautiful bouquet of chamomile flowers and gerbera daisies on it. My friend/coworker has been buying herself flowers every week, and gifting flowers to someone else, too — and today, I'm the lucky recipient. It gets my day off to a really great start.
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12:10 p.m. — A few of my coworkers and I devised a plan earlier in the week to drink pre-workout supplements at the beginning of the workday today and then power through the day. I've never tried pre-workout before, and it smells and tastes exactly like a melted popsicle. I'm into it.
2 p.m. — I've had a latte and pre-workout and I'm starting to feel pretty jazzed, but it's not much more than a little caffeine buzz. It's lunchtime, so I grab the Israeli couscous and veggies I made last night. A couple of my coworkers and I decide to drink a little more pre-workout, too.
3 p.m. — It's time for our team meeting, and we talk a bit about business-to-business partnerships. We also all take time to pen handwritten notes to some of our clients to show appreciation. By the end of the meeting, that second dose of pre-workout is starting to kick in and I'm feeling good — I get cracking on my to-do list and it's moving right along. I feel a little crazy, but in a good way.
5:30 p.m. — Our employee committee has put together a happy hour in the office today, so my coworkers and I walk over and jump into the party. The DJ is another one of our coworkers, and there are margaritas, beers, and an amazing taco bar catered by another coworker's mom. My office knows how to party, and we dance our asses off to all kinds of music, but mostly Cardi B.
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6:30 p.m. — Happy hour is over, but I'm still on the clock until 8. I finish up the last of the items on my to-do list while sweating profusely. We danced really hard, and the pre-workout really enhanced the experience — I ended up getting a real workout in!
8:45 p.m. — There's a ton of traffic getting home due to a broken-down car on my route, but I make it back and immediately open up The Girl Who Smiled Beads. I've been looking forward to finishing it all day, and the culmination of the story, and Clemantine's reflections in the wake of such tragedy, make me cry.
10:40 p.m. — I'm tired, so I turn on Lady Dynamite on Netflix and cozy up on the couch, where I plan to stay until I'm ready to tuck in.
Daily Total: $3.95

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — My alarm is particularly heinous this morning — it's always rough waking up for a 9 a.m. shift after late mornings all week. I snooze a couple of times and then roll myself out of bed. Traffic is much worse getting to work at this hour, so I don't have much time to waste. I wash my face, put on makeup, do my hair in milkmaid braids, and hit the road.
9 a.m. — I don't have time to stop for coffee, but I get to the office at 9 a.m. on the dot. It's Friday, so there's a lighter mood in the office and lots of people have chosen to work from home. I have a styling appointment with a client today, so I take care of a couple things before grabbing a rack and pulling clothing and shoe options for her.
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11:30 a.m. — My client arrives and we get started with her appointment. She's looking for a few things for her upcoming trip to New York, so I put together a bunch of different chic and modern looks. It's my first time working with this client, and she's wonderful. We have a great time and she leaves happy.
1:30 p.m. — After the appointment wraps up, I get back to my desk and tackle a couple more things on my to-do list before lunch. I didn't pack any lunch from home today, so I walk to the co-op down the street to get machaca tacos. I sample some pico de gallo bean and rice chips and they're delicious, so I get a bag of them, too. $7
4:30 p.m. — I was asked to speak to a group of new hires during their team meeting, so I talk a little bit about what I do, plus strategies for best serving and understanding clients, and then answer some questions. These new hires are really excited and engaged, and I'm looking forward to seeing them grow within the company.
6 p.m. — I wrap up at work and pack my computer to bring home with me. I'm off tomorrow, but working from home on Sunday and Monday, so I'll need my computer with me. M. is at work for a while longer, so I go home to chill for a bit. On my way, I pick up a chicken sandwich from Burger King. $4.09
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7 p.m. — I get home and watch the John Mulaney episode of Saturday Night Live while eating. M. calls as he's leaving the studio — our friend is having people over at his place tonight and we're invited. Since I don't have to work tomorrow, I'm game for drinks. M. gets home and makes himself dinner before we head to our friend's place together.
9:30 p.m. — It's more of a party than expected. I take a couple shots and drink a few beers while catching up with friends. We get into a conversation about self-defense and my friend teaches us some Krav Maga moves.
11:30 p.m. — We decide to take the party to a bar, so my friend calls a Lyft and we go to a speakeasy nearby. We stand in line for a few minutes before deciding it's not worth the wait, and then my friend calls another Lyft to head to a dive bar down the street. It's one of our regular places, and it's more our speed anyway.
11:50 p.m. — M. gets me a tequila and grapefruit juice — my favorite. There's karaoke at the bar, and we get into it, singing along and dancing. I get the second round of drinks for M. and me and tip $2. $14.10
1:40 a.m. — Our friends have slowly filtered out, and M. and I are the last ones standing at the bar. We decide it's time to pack it in and head home. M. suggests stopping at the Taco Bell drive-through on the way home, and it's impossible to say no. I feel bad because I've had so much fast food this week, but there's nothing like TB to cap off a long night of drinking. I order a Chalupa and Nachos Supreme. M. pays.
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2:15 a.m. — We get home and chow down while watching fail videos on YouTube, and then we pass the fuck out.
Daily Total: $25.19

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Hooooly moly. I'm up because I can never sleep in after a long night of drinking. I have a headache. Can't fall back asleep, so I mindlessly scroll through my phone for a while.
8:30 a.m. — M. wakes up and we chat for a bit, and then he gets up to get the day started. He has rehearsal today for his show later tonight, and he needs to get moving. I lay around in bed for a while longer and end up falling back asleep.
11 a.m. — I wake up for real and force myself out of bed. I drink a big glass of water, take Advil, and give M. a see-you-later kiss before he leaves. Then I get into the shower and listen to an episode of The Generation Why podcast while I shampoo, condition, and shave.
1:30 p.m. — I need a little pick-me-up, so I drive to Starbucks. I have a reward on my account, so I order a venti iced blonde latte with an extra shot and a sausage and egg sandwich ($3.75). On the way back home, I stop to get get gas and a car wash ($51.43). I try to keep the exterior of my car fairly clean at all times (let's not discuss the interior), and I enjoy the ritual of going through the drive-through car wash. $55.18
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3 p.m. — After eating my lunch and watching TV, I remember that I'm almost out of moisturizer. I recently took to Instagram to crowdsource ideas for a great moisturizer for oily skin, and a friend of mine recommended hyaluronic acid. I pick up her recommended brand from Amazon: Asterwood Naturals. Then I take a nap. I'm going to M.'s show later tonight and I want to have enough energy. $16.90
5:30 p.m. — Finally force myself to get up after snoozing my nap alarm a million times. I wash my face and get dressed for the concert. I decide to get a little more made up than usual, so I use pretty green eyeshadow in addition to my regular face of makeup, and then hop in my car and head to Hollywood.
7:05 p.m. — I almost never spend time in this part of town, and everyone and their mother is out and about today. I refuse to pay $15 to park in a lot, so I spend 20 minutes driving around looking for a meter spot on the street. I find one about four blocks away from the venue. $4
7:25 p.m. — I meet up with M. and a couple of our friends at a restaurant next door to the concert venue. I'm hungry, so I get a slice of pizza to hold me over until we all go out for a larger dinner later. I also order a tequila and pineapple juice (they're out of grapefruit) at the bar, and the bartender charges me the shot special price, which is nice. $12.96
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8 p.m. — We make our way to the venue and M. pays the cover charge for me. We see four bands play and they're all great — but sadly, the band that plays before M.'s goes over their allotted set time, so the venue cut M.'s band's performance short. It's a bummer, but they roll with the punches. We're exhausted and hungry by the time the show is over, so we decide to bounce right away and get a late dinner before heading home.
11:15 p.m. — We all decided earlier in the night that we wanted to chow down on wings after the show, so we're sad when we discover that Big Wangs has permanently closed! After Yelping, we find Hot Wings Cafe, and we're all excited to get out of the shitshow that is downtown Hollywood. I order a 12-piece basket of wings, half hot and half lemon pepper. I know I can't eat it all, but I plan to save half for lunch tomorrow. $20.03
12:30 p.m. — M. and I get home, smoke a bowl, and spend a long time talking before getting too tired to function and falling asleep.
Daily Total: $109.07

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm, anticipating that it's going to ring soon. I'm working from home today, so I take my time getting up and getting ready. I scroll through Instagram and then play Design Home on my phone. I buy “diamonds” that I need for the game. I also send a text to check in on a friend who's going through a rough time because her grandmother recently passed away. $4.99
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9 a.m. — I clock in on my laptop and get started answering some emails. M. has a baseball game this morning, so he wakes up shortly after me and starts getting ready. I had to park pretty far last night because we got home so late, so when he's ready, I have him drop me at my car so I can move it closer. I pick up a coffee at Starbucks before going back home. $3.95
12:15 p.m. — I'm starting to get hungry, so I reheat my leftover wings, which I eat while styling options for clients.
12:45 p.m. — My little brother calls me for advice. His landlord is raising his rent on him, so he's looking for a new place. We talk awhile about the apartment he looked at today and its pros and cons, and also just catch up a little bit on life. We make plans to get together next weekend.
3 p.m. — I start to get a little hungry, so I eat the Trader Joe's salad that we have in the fridge. Curried chicken salad is one of my very favorite foods.
4:20 p.m. — I've finished up with all of today's clients, so I start on a dangerous mission: browsing The RealReal. When I do buy designer, I pretty much only stick to consignment items. I'm a big fashion archive person, so it's really fun discovering pieces that I remember seeing on the runway five, 10, or even 15 years ago — now for much more affordable prices. I also hunt for gifts for my friend's upcoming baby shower. I'm thinking of getting her some beautiful indigo-dyed bibs and a cool teething necklace.
5:15 p.m. — I'm hit with a wave of sleepiness, so I take a 30-minute nap.
6 p.m. — I clock out and put away my work computer. I'm already thinking about dinner and I know I have a free delivery code on Postmates, so I scroll through my options and decide on Fatburger. It's delivered in about 20 minutes, and I eat while starting The Confession Tapes. I can't believe it's taken me so long to watch this, because I'm immediately hooked. The way each side of the story is presented is completely gripping. I plan on having a night in and just relaxing. $17.14
Daily Total: $26.08
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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