A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On An $85,000 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 marketing manager who makes $85,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on Tevas.
Occupation: Marketing Analytics Manager
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $85,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $2,016
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,000 for the place I currently live in, paid to my parents. I also pay $300 for my previous place. (I'm still on the lease with my SO.)
Loan Payments: None. I went to a public university and covered the costs with a combination of scholarships and parental assistance.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Health, Vision & Dental: $100 pre-tax
Life Insurance, AD&D, & LTE: $60 pre-tax
401(k): $400 (6% of salary) pre-tax. My employer matches up to 4%.
Other Expenses
Disneyland Annual Pass: $63
Charitable Giving: $60 ($20/month to three organizations I support.)
Netflix, Hulu, HBO: $0; I don't watch TV.
Spotify: $0; my sister pays for our shared family account.
Amazon Prime: $0; my mom pays for our shared family account
Cell Phone: $0; paid for by work.
Gas: $~150/month
Groceries: $~150/month
Monthly Savings
Emergency Fund: $300
Car: $500
Grad School: $500
Wedding: $200

Day One

9:30 a.m. — I'm a little late getting into the office, but it doesn't matter because it's Friday, and everyone is working from home anyway. I make myself a cup of coffee and eat a yogurt I brought from home while I catch up on email and prep for a meeting with my manager.
11 a.m. — My manager asks if we can reschedule for Monday. It's my first week on the job, and I still need to meet with him to discuss my role and responsibilities, since I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing. He just returned from vacation, so this week has been crazy for him (and incredibly boring for me). I let him know Monday is fine and go back to browsing Nordstrom's sale section. I find a pair of shoes I passed on a few months back; they're now marked down 60%! $48.07
12 p.m. — I grab lunch with a friend at the café on our company's campus. I moved back to L.A. for this job, and it's been three years since we've seen each other. (I am terrible at keeping in touch.) I enjoy a watermelon feta salad while she fills me in on her marriage, her dog, and her career. I tell her about my long-distance relationship and how the new job is going. $8.69
1:30 p.m. — A coworker walks me through an ongoing project I'll be taking over. Yes, finally some work!
3:30 p.m. — So. Bored. I am craving something sweet, but I'm on a no-candy pact with my mom, and I can't let her down! I drink a LaCroix (Pamplemousse) from our kitchen, but it's only marginally satisfying.
5 p.m. — Hallelujah, freedom! I head home and meet up with my sister. My mom calls to let us know she has to stay at work late, so we should eat without her. We drive to our favorite dumpling restaurant. There's a small moment of panic when we first walk in and remember that it's cash only, but luckily we manage to scrounge up $15 from the depths of our purses. While eating, we discuss where we want to go for our Sister Trip later this summer. I promised her that if I got this new job, I'd take her on a trip, and now it's time to pony up! She wants to go to Japan to visit family but I don't think I can take the time off, since I've just started my job. $10
8 p.m. — After dinner, my sister and I pick up an order of our mom's favorite noodles to drop off at her job (my sister pays). Just as we're about to leave, Mom calls to let us know she's done with work and asks us to pick her up because she doesn't want to take the train this late at night. We agree and tell her about the noodles; she's thrilled!
10 p.m. — I forgot that I promised to catch up with friends tonight, and they call me to see where I'm at. I am home in my PJs and am totally exhausted, but this meet up is a bon voyage for my good friend M., who is moving to NY, so I muster up the willpower to get dressed.
11 p.m. — My friends are so fun! I grab a soda while we catch up and make up crazy stories about M.'s upcoming new life on the East Coast. We also talk about a group trip I'm planning: I am renting a house in Joshua Tree a few weekends from now, and we are trying to figure out who is available to come. I want to get at least six people to split the cost of the house (it will end up being $30 per person if we do so), but I'm concerned that no one in my laid-back friend group has fully committed yet. Everyone says they are down (except M., because he's moving), and I ask one of my friends to invite our mutual friend, B., whom I haven't asked yet. I split the bill evenly with my friends (most of whom had alcohol), so I overpay a little after tip is included. $7
1 a.m. — After getting home, I FaceTime with my boyfriend for an hour and futz around before bed. I'm moving out of my old apartment in San Diego this weekend and am feeling anxious about the move, my new job, no one coming on my trip, living at home, and a million other things. I have a hard time falling asleep.
Daily Total: $73.76

Day Two

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling somewhat refreshed after sleeping in. Mom and I hit the gym since we skipped yesterday. She is supposed to cycle for 30 minutes a day as part of physical therapy for her knee; I go for moral support and do a HIIT workout on the elliptical near her.
11 a.m. — We finish our workout and are super hungry, so we grab brunch nearby. I get an iced coffee and an omelet with hash browns and ham, she gets a 2 x 2 x 2 platter. We talk about my move and my new job. I pay for our meal; it's pretty cheap, and I can afford to treat my mom! $27.54
1 p.m. — At home, I scrounge around for boxes to take to my apartment later tonight. My parents also happen to be moving soon. They bought a new house and will be moving at the end of the month, so our house is currently a chaotic whirlwind of STUFF; it stresses me out. I list some of my apartment furniture on Facebook and hope it sells. I make everything super cheap, which frustrates me because I paid way more, and it's all still in great condition, but I can't bring it with me. Out it goes.
5 p.m. — I drive back to San Diego to pack up what's left of my apartment. A few people contact me from Facebook, and I end up selling three out of five pieces! In total, I make a cool $480 for the night. Not bad.
7 p.m. — I'm starving so I walk over to my favorite fancy taco place. I start feeling sad and nostalgic about leaving San Diego and order way too much food as a result. When I bring the takeout bag home, I see that they've packed four forks with my order for one. $32.29
10 p.m. — I've already cut the internet at my apartment, so I'm bored to death. I lay in bed willing myself to go to sleep when I get a message from my friend, B. He tells me he's down for Joshua Tree and then brings up a fight we had a three years ago at a friend's birthday party. B. apologizes and tells me he's felt super guilty ever since then. I have also felt massively guilty about this fight, and his bringing it up is a relief. We both apologize and agree to have no hard feelings. I am really, really touched and feel a huge weight lifted off my chest. I've learned a lesson about emotional maturity and forgiveness. It's my last night in this apartment, and I sleep like a baby.
Daily Total: $59.83

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up bright and early to meet my dad, who's driven his truck down from L.A. to help me move my mattress and bed. I haven't managed to sell my desk or dining table, but we find a way to squeeze it into the truck. He has plans later in the day, so he zips back up to LA while I eat leftover tacos for breakfast and do a final clean of the now empty apartment.
10 a.m. — My landlord arrives for my final walkthrough. He agrees to give me my full deposit back, minus a mandatory $75 carpet cleaning fee! I loved this apartment and would have stayed if I hadn't gotten a new job. I'll be transferring my rent amount to my parents going forward, so I'm not exactly saving money, but it's cheaper than finding a place of my own in L.A.
12 p.m. — I drive back to L.A., feeling way less anxious now that I've settled the apartment business. On the way back, my sister calls to asks if I want to go to Disneyland; we both have annual passes. I pick her up and we almost get all the way to Anaheim when I realize I've left my pass in my other purse. Moving has made such a mess of me! My sister doesn't want to go by herself, so we turn back towards home. I've wasted 40 minutes of our time, and I can tell she's annoyed but I'll make it up to her later.
1 p.m. — Dad borrows my car to take my grandparents out; it's lower and easier for them to get in and out of compared to his truck. I knock out for an hours long nap; moving this morning completely exhausted me.
4 p.m. — Grocery shopping for the week with Mom. I pick up rolled oats, almond milk, Greek yogurt, arugula, cherry tomatoes, cheese, hummus, bell peppers, sliced almonds, and a few other staples for the week. We split the bill. $30
7 p.m. — I prep food for the week and pick out work outfits before bed. Dad comes home and tells me he filled the gas tank on my car! I hope this second work week goes better, and I have more to do.
Daily Total: $30

Day Four

6 a.m. — I wake up early so I can get to work early; I'm feeling anxious about this new job. Also, I have a few personal projects to sort through and hope I can use some quiet time in the office to get it all done.
8 a.m. — I am on a roll! I was so tired this morning that I forgot my breakfast and lunch at home, so I power through on coffee alone. This is probably terrible for me.
10 a.m. — My manager cancels our morning meeting. Again! I literally have nothing to do, so I spend the entire morning planning the group Joshua Tree trip (I make a Facebook event and four people RSVP); my upcoming Sister Trip (I decide we should go to Austin and book flights using credit card reward points); and a joint birthday/anniversary trip for me and my boyfriend in October. I call and reserve a kayaking session near a sea otter reserve. It's $95 per person, and part of the proceeds go toward protecting the oceans. $190
12 p.m. — I forgot that I actually made lunch plans to catch up with another coworker/friend! We meet at Starbucks, and I reload my app with $15 to cover the cost of a chicken wrap protein box (my fave) and an iced coffee, plus a little extra for later. I feel reenergized after talking with her. She is totally killing it at her job, and I'm so proud. I head back to my desk and hope I've gotten a few emails with work to do. $15
2 p.m. — Finally meet with my manager! I show him the data model I've been working on. I think he's impressed, but I don't know him that well, and he's hard to read. He turns the tables on me and asks me to review an email he's going to send to our VP. I try to make smart suggestions and sound confident. I am very new to being at the manager-level and feel a lot of pressure to perform! I still have a job at the end of our meeting, so I guess I'm doing okay.
5 p.m. — Time to go home. I love that my new team has great work-life balance. My last job included lots of unpaid overtime.
7 p.m. — Mom and I head to the gym again and do the same routine, her cycling and me on the elliptical. Our favorite Taiwanese noodle shop is right around the corner from the gym, and we can't resist stopping by for dinner when we see there's no line! I treat her. $35
10 p.m. — I halfheartedly start unpacking a few boxes before crawling into bed. My period started earlier today, and I'm exhausted and cramping. I switched to an IUD a few months ago and LOVE it, but am still adjusting, and having my period surprise me like this makes me feel like a teenager again. I FaceTime my boyfriend and read a little in bed before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $240

Day Five

7 a.m. — Ack! I've somehow overslept despite going to bed pretty early last night. I rush to get ready and grab a yogurt to eat at my desk.
10 a.m. — I forgot that I made coffee plans with another coworker! She messages me to confirm, and we agree to meet at the company cafe in 10 minutes, so I skip eating my yogurt. I was an intern for another team at our company a few years ago, so I have a lot of old coworkers and friends to catch up with now that I'm back. Networking and relationships are super important in my industry and within the company, so I don't feel bad about spending time reconnecting. I'm also hoping to glean some inside information from her that I can use in my new role.
11 a.m. — Catching up with my friend was great! She gave me some useful hints about changes to a few upcoming products that I can pass along to my team. We also had a serious career talk and brainstormed a few people for her to reach out to for future job opportunities; her contract with our company is almost up, and she is looking for something full-time. As someone who has been through that hustle, I sympathize. At least she still has another year on her parents' health insurance! Adulting is no joke. I promise to help review any cover letters or emails she sends my way and to tip her off if I hear about any openings. I pay for our breakfast sandwiches and coffee. $12.82
11:30 a.m. — I have THREE project requests when I get back from coffee! I've already done the work for one of them, so I send it over right away and the partner replies thanking me for my quick turnaround; they also Cc'd my manager! The other two projects need input from my manager, so I review the requests and put together a quick outline for how to address each one to pitch to him later.
12 p.m. — Some team members stop by to see if I want to get lunch. I am still stuffed from breakfast, but don't want to miss out on team bonding, so I agree. I get a lemonade to drink while they eat. We talk about upcoming summer plans, trends we've seen in our industry, and gossip about other teams. I try hard not be awkward, and I think I'm successful. I hope we can be friends! $2.52
2 p.m. — I drink a cup of coffee and a LaCroix to keep me going through the afternoon while I sit in on a meeting my coworker invited me to join. I'm still getting background on the team, and this helps me to learn a lot and get to meet some of our key partners. I worked on a similar project before and even manage to contribute to the session as well.
5 p.m. — Wow, it's already time to go. Now that I have actual work on my plate, the day flies by! I'm glad; I enjoy the work I do and am excited about the new opportunities this job gives me. I'm hungry from skipping lunch, and I scarf down a bag of chips in the car, which I regret almost immediately.
7 p.m. — My mom and I are both exhausted, and it's raining, which is basically apocalyptic in L.A. We decide to pass on the gym today. I eat leftover noodles and another mango for dinner. I promise myself to pack the rest of the noodles for lunch tomorrow. I normally don't eat out that often during the week, but this week has been exceptional since I just moved back and have a lot of people to reconnect with.
10 p.m. — I FaceTime my boyfriend and tell him about the sea otter kayaking trip I booked; he's excited. We confirm his flight information for this weekend, and he tells me he's booked dinner reservations for us, too! He is so sweet. He's in San Francisco, and I haven't seen him in a few weeks, so I'm glad he is flying down for my birthday this weekend. I remember that I need to order his birthday gift as well. I search online and buy us matching pairs of Tevas; I have been trying to convert him for months; now's my chance! I have a coupon code for 30% off, and the style I want is already on sale. I also add a couple of random tops to my cart to reach the free shipping threshold. I will most likely return most of these things once they arrive. $126.66
12 a.m. — I clean up, unpack a little, and read in bed before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $142

Day Six

8 a.m. — At work early again. I eat the yogurt I abandoned yesterday, drink a cup of coffee, and plan my day.
11 a.m. — My manager asks me to help him with a special project he's working on for our VP. He is still slammed with work and hasn't had time to get started on this. I am thrilled. I think this means he trusts me? I agree to get a rough outline together by this afternoon for us to review.
12 p.m. — I go to a lunchtime yoga class with two of my teammates. We're super lucky to have a complimentary corporate gym, but classes are $8 each. I don't want to sweat too much, so I don't push myself too hard. Afterwards, I eat lunch at my desk (leftover noodles); it's a bit of a relief to not have a social lunch and be able to chill out — and save money. $8
3 p.m. — I have a networking phone call with someone from my university. He's working on a pro-bono consulting project and is interviewing me as an “expert” in my field. I feel extremely flattered — and under-qualified — for this.
4 p.m. — Touch base with my manager, and he approves my outline. We make a few tweaks to our plan, and I have clearance to move full steam ahead to finish this tomorrow. This is my first “big” project and I don't want to blow it!
7 p.m. — Gym time with Mom. She hasn't worked out in a long time, so I am proud of her for going to the gym consistently these past two weeks and taking control of her health. I make cauliflower rice bowls for the entire family for dinner (using the groceries I bought this past weekend and stuff already in the fridge) and pack the leftovers for lunch.
10 p.m. — I call a friend to catch up, FaceTime my boyfriend, and follow-up on Joshua Tree trip details before hopping into bed. I log onto Amazon to buy a Bluetooth adapter for my car so I can play music from my iPhone during the three-hour drive to the desert. (My car is so old it doesn't even have an aux connection.) I'm trying to develop a consistent earlier bedtime so I can wake up earlier, but it hasn't been going very well. I need to be more disciplined. $18.99
Daily Total: $26.99

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I get to work early to wrap up the project for my boss. I pack a mason jar of overnight oats for breakfast, but decide I don't want to eat them after all, so I pop them into the work fridge for tomorrow and just have a cup of coffee.
11 a.m. — We head out for a team lunch at a local sandwich place I love. The sandwiches here are huge, and I know I should save half of mine for later. I still try to eat it all in one sitting and end up being way too stuffed. Oof. $12.57
12 p.m. — I read a New York Times article that recommends sticking a Bluetooth tracker in your luggage in case in gets lost, and my mind is blown. So genius! I immediately buy a pack of four trackers on Amazon ($70) and call them a birthday gift to myself. They're pricey, but I fly every other weekend to see my SO and am always paranoid that my luggage will get lost. I'll split the pack with him and my sister!
3 p.m. — My manager is too busy to review my project. I have a few other things to work on, but I am burned out. I have an afternoon coffee break and make myself a latte in the office kitchen.
7 p.m. — I get back from work and hit the gym with Mom. She asks me about the Amazon purchase (we share our Prime account), and she tells me she'll pay for the Bluetooth trackers as my birthday present!
10 p.m. — I take my time getting ready for bed and FaceTime-ing with my boyfriend. He is flying into L.A. tomorrow for my birthday! I have a moment of disbelief over the fact that I will be 26 in just a few hours. Time flies by.
Daily Total: $12.57
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