A Week In L.A. On A $73,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We asked a millennial woman how she spends her hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York Mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a startup contractor in Los Angeles living without a car.
Industry: Startup/Content Marketing
Age: 25
Location: Los Angeles, CA (live in West Hollywood, work in Santa Monica)
Salary: $73,000 as a contractor, plus $10 to $20K as a freelancer
# of roommates: One (My boyfriend)

Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $850 ($1,600 a month for a one-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment. I pay more because my boyfriend drives me to work three mornings a week. It’s a great deal.)
Student loan payments: $500
Utilities: $60 (electric and gas; my boyfriend pays for internet)
Transportation: Varies — I don't have a car in L.A. I know, shocking. I moved from San Francisco and then New York, so I never got around to it and I am reluctant of the payment, gas, insurance, parking, and added responsibility.
Phone Bill: $75
Health Insurance: $200 (I am a contractor, I don’t have insurance through work.)
ClassPass: $99
Spotify Premium: $9.99
QuickBooks: $8.00

Ed note: This diarist rounded to the nearest dollar when applicable.

Day One

12:00 p.m. — I buy face wipes, drugstore foundation, Jergens self tanner, and Sensodyne toothpaste. I have a $6 coupon; CVS coupons are the truth! $31

2:30 p.m. — I get a wax; because I am a literal hairy yeti. I have a prepaid wax 12-pack, and I only pay tip. $8

3:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I get some home stuff from the 99 Cents store; I avoid CVS and Target, so I try to get everything I can here — hangers, bar soap, dish soap, sponges. We split the cost. $13

4 p.m. — Two Kombucha because I've been thinking about them all week. $8

4:30 p.m. — I make mac and cheese for dinner because I'm hungry. I use AmazonFresh weekly, which was delivered at the beginning of this week, and even though it's supposed to cost $299 a year, I've used four different emails for the 30-day promo, so groceries are around $50 to $60 a week for my boyfriend and me. I can't believe the promo still works.

5:30 p.m. — I put the ClassPass to good use and go to yoga.

7 p.m. — I pick up my jumpsuit at the tailor. I am trying to stop buying fast fashion, so I'm buying slightly nicer more expensive pieces and getting them tailored. I am 5’ 4” and size 6 to 8, so I have to get basically everything hemmed. $14

8 p.m. — Roast chicken and beans and rice for me and my BF, with some white wine at home.

10 p.m. — I take a charcoal pill (which I order off Amazon) and head to The-Dream concert with a friend who gave me a ticket. I buy a round of drinks for us. $23

12 a.m. — We Uber from the concert to a house party, friend pays. Free drinks at the party, yaaass. $0

4 a.m. (oops, lol) — Lyft home = $9

Total amount spent: $106

Day Two

2 p.m. — It is a miracle I am not hungover. It’s definitely because of the charcoal pill. I go with my boyfriend to this casual brunch place I like and get a burger with a fried egg and iced coffee. We split the bill, which we usually do just because it’s habit and less drama. $23

7 p.m. — Me and my boyfriend go to see How to Be Single. We use an AMC gift card my boss gave me for Christmas. $0

9 p.m. — After the movie we go to Little Osaka and split a Japanese curry plate and croquettes. We should share meals more often. $14

Total amount spent: $37

Day Three

11:30 a.m. — It is my girlfriend's birthday so we go to brunch on Larchmont. I order a lox-and-potato pancake brunch and cold brew. $21

1 p.m. — We’re annoyed the brunch place had no alcohol, so we go to a nearby Italian restaurant and order a Champagne each. $11

3 p.m. — Why are we still eating? We go to another happy hour brunch spot (Churchill on West 3rd, my favorite spot!), and I have one drink and some of my friend's fries. $8

8 p.m.— I make chicken tacos from leftovers from Friday’s chicken for me and my BF, and pack a lunch for me for tomorrow at work.

Total amount spent: $40

Day Four

9:15 a.m. — I go to hot yoga off ClassPass. Rent a shower towel. Honestly, this is a total scam; they should just offer it. But I am not going to carry a wet, sweaty towel with me to work, so I just pay it every time. $3

10:30 a.m. — This was dumb, but I kept thinking about food in yoga. I walk to Starbucks before work and grab an iced coffee and breakfast sandwich. $6.50

2 p.m. — I eat the chicken tacos I packed for lunch.

3:45 p.m. — Snack on a free tea and cookie at work.

6:15 p.m. — I take the bus as close to my house as it gets without transferring, while explaining to my BF on the phone how to make some lemon butter garlic fish with asparagus and potatoes (some superwoman stuff here). My BF picks me up from the bus stop. This is a new system we are trying out because we used to carpool, but he recently went full-time work from home. It's $1.75 but I never have change. $2

7:00 p.m. — We eat the lemon butter garlic fish when I get home.

Total amount spent: $11.50

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — I have a coffee and avocado toast in the car on the way to Pilates before work.

9 a.m. — Turns out I forgot my special socks in a frenzy this morning and have to buy some. This pisses me off but whatever. $8

1 p.m. — Apparently, I also forgot my leftover fish and veggies lunch, so I go with my coworkers to get an ahi poke bowl. $9.50

6 to 8 p.m. — I go to happy hour with my friend from middle school who is in town, staying in Santa Monica. I get two drinks. $18

Total amount spent: 35.50

Day Six

11 a.m. — I'm working from home so I make avocado toast with an egg.

1:30 p.m. — I put chicken, onion, peppers, and BBQ sauce in the slow cooker to prep some meals for tonight and tomorrow's lunch. I'm going on a work trip to Vegas and really want to use all my groceries before I leave. I even have a note on my fridge encouraging me.

4:30 p.m. — I eat the lunch I forgot to bring to work yesterday so I don't die during spin class.

5:30 p.m. — Spin class, and I have to rent shoes. Again, one of those just added costs of exercise, but worth it to me. $3

8 p.m. — I eat dinner of BBQ chicken, macaroni, Brussels sprouts that I prepped earlier.

8:45 p.m. — I get a bar cart delivered; I'm on an email list for a vintage store I love, and I saw and claimed a bar cart earlier this morning. I’ve been looking for one for the entire time I’ve lived in L.A., and can never find the right design or price. This was $50, which I think is an amazing deal. $50

Total amount spent: $53.00

Day Seven

9 a.m. — While I am asleep and getting ready for work, my BF walks the dog and brings me an iced almond latte.

11:30 a.m. — I am getting hungry and munch on some free trail mix at work.

1 p.m. — I take one of my freelance writers to lunch at work and we can expense it (yay). We get sushi and it costs around $50, but for me $0.

5 p.m. — We do our week-end review, and have a wine and cheese party at work. I have some chilled white and a bunch of cheese.

6:30 p.m. — I take the bus home. It takes an eternity, but so would an Uber or a free ride from my boyfriend. That’s L.A. $2

Total amount spent: $2
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.

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