A Week In The Bay Area, CA, On A $125,000 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.
Want even more Money Diaries, plus $$$ advice from a kick-ass, all-female team of financial advisors, and tips on how to save more than $500? Pick up our new book: Money Diaries! Order here!
Today: an accountant working in fintech who makes $125,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Sour Patch Kids.
Advertisement
Occupation: Accountant
Industry: Fintech
Age: 29
Location: Bay Area, CA
Salary: $125,000
Paycheck Amount (Semimonthly): $2,780
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 (for half of the apartment I split with my boyfriend)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents helped during undergrad, and I paid for grad school by working.)
Phone: $120
HSA: $130 (I recently started my job and my last one didn't offer an HSA, so it's a bit inflated so that I can max it out by the end of the year.)
Car Insurance: $100
Caltrain: $0 (paid for by work)
Internet: $40
Utilities: $40 (varies month to month, split with my boyfriend)
Spotify & Hulu: $12.99 (I have the combined subscription.)
Netflix: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
401(k): $770
Savings: $1,500-$3,000 (I deposit into my high-yield savings account or Vanguard investment account. The amount totally varies depending on the month, but I always try to put a minimum of $1,500 aside.)
Annual Expenses
OneMedical:
$150

Day One

8 a.m. — Whoops, slept in a little later than I meant to and will miss my usual train to work. Luckily my job is super flexible and most people get in between 9:30 and 10 a.m. I shower and put on my usual light makeup — just some BB cream, mineral powder, and mascara, and am out the door to catch the next train.
9:45 a.m. — Finally arrive at my desk! The train takes about 20 minutes, but it's about a mile away from work, so my total commute time is usually about 35 and 45 minutes after factoring in the walk. I pour myself the very last of the brewed coffee from the office canisters and start brewing a new pot for the next person.
Advertisement
11 a.m. — I grab a coconut water and a La Croix from the fridge. My office is very typical Bay Area tech-y, and is filled with free snacks and beverages. I'm not really a snacker most of the time, but I love beverages and am known to have two to three on my desk at all times.
12 p.m. — My favorite time of the day: fooooooood. We have lunch and dinner catered to our office every day (like I said, typical Bay Area tech office, feel free to roll your eyes), and it's pretty hit or miss, but I'm definitely not complaining. Today's lunch is Vietnamese, and I get a pork banh mi with a side of salad. The weather is beautiful, so I eat in the courtyard in the shade.
3 p.m. — It's been a really productive afternoon at work! It's the beginning of the month, which is always a really busy time in the accounting world. I started this job pretty recently, so I'm still getting the hang of things. I'm in that awkward spot where I feel like I should know more than I do by now, so I get nervous asking my boss questions in fear of getting a “wait, how do you not know that?” response. Definitely something I need to work on.
5 p.m. — Our company is hosting an intern event tonight, and BBQ is on the menu. I sneak pulled pork, mac and cheese, and grilled zucchini before wrapping up for the day. Then I walk to the train and ride home. A nice work perk is that my company pays for each employee's annual Caltrain pass, so my commute costs $0. I try to read on the train, but I'm really just not feeling my book and spend most of the train ride browsing Insta.
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — My boyfriend just bought a car on the east coast and is driving it home this weekend, so I have the place to myself. He shared his location on Google Maps with me so I can track his drive, so I check in and see that he's currently in Texas! I give him a quick call and we catch up on our days.
1 a.m. — Oops, I head to bed after falling asleep on the couch watching Pretty Little Liars. Not even sure I like this show? I'm on Season 2 and this same plot is getting a little old. Hoping it gets better — how are there possibly five more seasons? Also, does anyone else find it creepy that the show glamorizes Aria dating her teacher?!!
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

10 a.m. — YAYYYY, Saturday. It feels soooo good to sleep in. It's my brother's birthday today, so I send him a happy birthday text, post an embarrassing photo on his FB wall, and email him a $100 Amazon gift card. $100
11:30 a.m. — I take a stroll to the post office to drop off a package of Stitch Fix items that I don't like. I've gotten three boxes so far, and I loved everything in the last two, but this one just didn't do it for me. I stop in a coffee shop near the post office and get a cafe au lait and a Snapple. $6.28
12 p.m. — I walk over to the BART station and put $15 on my Clipper Card. I use $4.85 of my new balance to head to SF for my monthly Brazilian wax ($72, which includes a 20% tip). Even though it's a bit of a journey, I love the esthetician and she does a great job. 10 minutes of torture to not have to shave and get stubbly is SO very worth it to me. #Babysealstatus. $87
Advertisement
2 p.m. — After taking BART back home, I pick up a sandwich ($11 including tip) at an amazing local sandwich shop and then walk to the grocery store across the street. Some of my best friends are coming over for a wine night, so I need wine (duh) and snacks. I get two bottles of red, baby carrots, Hint Of Lime Tostitos, Sour Patch Kids, deli-cut genoa salami, and provolone cheese ($38.32). I get home, tidy up, and start putting together the appetizers (a.k.a. putting all the stuff I bought on a plate, lol). $49.32
6 p.m. — Everybody is here and I have missed these girls SO much. We spend a good chunk of time gnawing on the snacks and drinking wine, all while planning a girls' trip we have coming up to celebrate my 30th (oh dear lord) birthday.
8:15 p.m. — We decide on a hot pot restaurant within walking distance for dinner. One of my friends is Chinese, so she does all the ordering for us and we end up with SO much food (and two more bottles of wine, oops). Hot pot is such a fun and social meal! The restaurant gives us two free servings of beef, since we spend over $100. Our waitress tells us there's a 10% discount if we pay with cash, so I run to my bank's ATM next door and withdraw $260. Our meal total comes to $202, and we leave the remaining $58 as tip. My friends each Venmo me for their shares. $65
Advertisement
10 p.m. — Back to the house for more shenanigans, and by shenanigans I mean Sour Patch Kids and a wee bit more wine. At this point we're pretty tipsy. We spend a lot of time having drunken heart-to-hearts about our careers (we all worked together at one point), relationships, and everything else. One of my friends drives home around midnight (she doesn't drink), and the other two pass out at my place. Adult sleepovers are the business.
Daily Total: $307.60

Day Three

12:15 p.m. — Omfg, hangover. Another reminder that I'm turning 30 and CANNOT party like I used to. My friends are also feeling it and we are all moving incredibly slowly. Apparently last night we decided we were going to brunch this morning and then having a fabulous day in the city, but it has become evident that none of that is happening, lol. We all chug water and they end up going home around 1 p.m. I go back to sleep.
3:30 p.m. — I finally pull myself out of bed, chug more water, and am feeling MUCH better. I should probably feel guilty for wasting the entire day sleeping, but meh. I eat half my sandwich leftover from yesterday and pick off the soggy AF bread. I also update my net worth spreadsheet (yes I know, but I'm an accountant, okay?). I don't really use this for anything but tracking what I have in each account, because I like (or sometimes don't like) seeing the trend, and it'll probably be interesting once I have like, five years worth of data. Right now, I have a little over $200,000 in various non-retirement mutual funds and savings accounts. I don't even really know what I'm saving for specifically at this point. Even though that sounds like a lot, Bay Area housing is completely out of reach for me, and I don't see myself moving in the next few years.
Advertisement
5:45 p.m. — After watching two more episodes of Pretty Little Liars and cleaning up after last night, I'm feeling restless. I decide to take my bike out and ride the four miles to Barnes & Noble. I haven't been in a bookstore in ages because I used to just go to the SF public library, but now that I'm rarely in the city and have yet to get a card for my local library, I figure it's a good enough excuse to buy books.
7 p.m. — My out-of-shape ass struggled REAL hard on some baby hills on the ride, so the first thing I do after locking up my bike is head to the cafe to buy a bottle of water and a coffee ($5.45). I could spend my whole day in here browsing books, but I narrow down my purchase to an eclectic three: Brave New World, Crazy Rich Asians, and Black Edge ($55.35). $60.80
7:30 p.m. — I found a way nicer, flatter, and less busy route home, so next time I journey out, I'll for sure be using this one instead. I also passed by a random casino that I had no idea existed. I was raised in Nevada, so I admittedly do enjoy gambling sometimes when I get the chance and have the money to lose. Mostly I just like playing poker, but with a few drinks, you'll catch me at the craps table, hehe. As soon as I get home, I call my mom to catch up on our weeks and talk about upcoming plans. I hope I get to see her soon!
Advertisement
9 p.m. — I put on an argan oil hair mask and a clay face mask and dig into my new book (starting with Crazy Rich Asians) while I wait for my boyfriend, who is on his final leg of his cross-country journey. I also throw a load of laundry in ($1.25 to wash and $1 to dry). I want to do two loads, but while I'm switching my first load from the washer to the dryer, another tenant of my building comes down with his laundry basket, so I just let him use it instead. I can finish mine tomorrow. $2.25
11:30 p.m. — Boyfriend is home and his new car looks fabulous! Even though he's been driving for basically four days straight, he's excited to take me for a spin in it, and if we're leaving the house at 11 p.m., it's deeeefinitely gonna be to In-N-Out. I treat him to a burger (er...two actually) and get one for myself. We also get fries to share and a drink. We fall asleep at around 1 a.m. after eating and cuddling. $15.99
Daily Total: $79.04

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up after snoozing my alarm about eight times, but don't shower this morning because my hair still looks and smells amazing from last night's hair mask. I'm almost out the door to catch the train, but my boyfriend offers to drive me to work in his new whip. It makes no real difference to me time-wise, but he's cute and excited about his car, and I'll get to spend a bit more time with him before work, so I happily accept.
Advertisement
8:45 a.m. — At work earlier than most. I pour myself a mug full of coffee with cream and honey. Honey in coffee is the BEST. I check my email and calendar and immediately feel overwhelmed by everything I need to get done in the next few days. Ugh, Monday.
10:30 a.m. — Someone sends a company-wide Slack blast that there's Chick-fil-A breakfast biscuits up for grabs in the kitchen, and everyone stampedes to get them. Chick-fil-A is only fair in my book, and I don't really eat breakfast, so I pass. Ugh, the chicken does smell good though!
12 p.m. — Lunch today is a big green salad with strawberries, quinoa, and pesto chicken. I also get a blackberry-flavored Hint water and a cherry Coke Zero. (Ugh, my ultimate weakness! Give me all of the aspartame!) The morning is full of a bunch of unplanned meetings, so I eat at my desk to catch up on some actual work I need to do.
1 p.m. — My calcs are running SO SLOW and I can't handle it. Excel is the bane of my existence. While I wait for the calcs loading in the background, I browse my email and see that Everlane sent me a 10% off and free shipping coupon. I browse their site and add a sweater and jeans to my cart, then realize I was just played so hard by their marketing team. I don't need this stuff! Dammit. I close the window without buying anything. Back to werk.
Advertisement
4 p.m. — I text some of my old coworkers, who are some of my closest friends, and we make plans to do a wine tasting day in Napa this weekend. My mood brightens with plans to see them soon :).
4:45 p.m. — My friend from my hometown texts me to remind me she and her BF are staying with me this weekend for a music festival in San Francisco. I'm thankful she reminded me, because I totally forgot that was this weekend! A few other local friends are also going, so with a little prodding (music festivals aren't really my thing, especially with the massive price tag), I bite the bullet and purchase a general admission ticket for myself for Saturday. Between this and the wine day, I'm going to have a busy weekend, but lots to look forward to to get me through the week. $169.45
6 p.m. — Aaaand dinner is served! Tonight it's tostada bowls — yum! I seriously inhale my bowl in about 10 minutes. I need to boogie to catch the train so I get home by 7:30. One of my friends is coming over to watch The Bachelorette finale with me at 8!
9 p.m. — My friend and I stress eat an entire package of Sour Patch Kids and split a bottle of wine from my wine rack. This show is so overly dramatic sometimes, but it's fun to watch together and make fun of things as they happen.
11 p.m. — SHE PICKED GARRETT?? WTF??? My friend heads home right as my BF is getting home from a late day at work. We head to bed and, maybe it's the fact I just subjected myself to three hours of The Bachelorette, or maybe it's the wine, but I feel the need to discuss our relationship at length, right at this exact moment, especially within the context of him buying a new car. We've been together for almost four years, and I often worry that our relationship is a dead end. I'm almost 30 (again, YIKES) and my near-term goals involve old people stuff like marriage, kids, buying a house, and moving out of the Bay Area. I've really struggled communicating some of these things to him and feeling confident in his responses, so sometimes that leads to nights where I get emotional and let it all out. Tonight was one of those nights. My BF, in his usual slightly detached way, comforts me, but still doesn't tell me the things I want to hear. Why are relationships so hard? :(
Advertisement
Daily Total: $169.45

Day Five

8 a.m. — Sleep in a bit again today, oops. Rush through a shower and take my usual 20 minutes to put on makeup and get dressed. I consider booking it to the train, but ultimately decide to drive to work today. We have a lot of deadlines this week at work, and I prefer to drive when I think I might be working late so I'm not beholden to the mighty Caltrain schedule.
9:30 a.m. — Get to work and pour myself coffee! Ugh, traffic was rough this morning. But I don't mind too much because I love listening to NPR on the way. Today they're talking about the 500+ immigrant children STILL not reunited with their families. It's upsetting.
12 p.m. — Poke bowls for lunch today! I fill mine up with a bunch of lettuce, rice, chicken, and a few pieces of tuna. I usually love raw fish, but I'm just not feeling it today. I top my bowl with some fish sauce, edamame, and green onion. I also drink a mango La Croix and grab a sugar-free Red Bull for later. I have a feeling it's going to be a long day.
1 p.m. — I check the after-hours trading of a stock I recently bought some options on through my Robinhood app. All of my “regular” investment accounts are invested in diversified index funds, but I just threw a couple hundred dollars in my RH account to gamble with (told ya I was a gambler). Looks like they beat earnings but the stock is trading down, so I'll have to check again tomorrow to see if I gained or lost.
Advertisement
6:10 p.m. — Oh wow, I pretty much worked nonstop until dinner without even checking the time. Time flies when you're...riding the accounting struggle bus? Tonight's dinner is greasy Chinese food. The chicken and veggie dish is super spicy, so I stick with white rice and honey shrimp. Immediately after finishing, I get that lovely MSG bloat. Blahhh.
8:15 p.m. — I finally decide to call it a night and drive home. During my ~20 minute drive (sooooo much shorter after rush hour!), I think about everything I didn't do at work and about the conversation my BF and I had last night. A song by Sia comes on the radio and I burst into tears out of nowhere. I have no idea why I'm feeling so down today.
8:40 p.m. — Arrive home, throw my stuff down, grab my earbuds, and go out for a walk. I NEED some fresh air after that heavy dinner and not getting my usual two mile round-trip walk to the train in. I force myself to only listen to upbeat music (Danza Kuduro anyone??) and by the time I get back home 30 minutes later, I'm feeling a bit better. I settle in with half a glass of wine leftover from last night's bottle and an episode of Pretty Little Liars.
10 p.m. — BF gets home from friend's place and we chat for a bit about our days. I read my book on the couch while he plays video games, and we both head to bed around midnight.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:20 a.m. — Made the decision about an hour ago to hit snooze and drive to work again today, so I lazily get up after scrolling through social media and hop in the shower. I put on my favorite romper/jumpsuit thingie with a cardigan, determined to make today a good and productive day. BF is just getting out of bed when I leave the house. He's an engineer and at his company, people get in around 10 to 11 in the morning.
9:30 a.m. — Arrive at work and pour myself the usual mug of coffee with cream and honey. One of the new hires used the last of the coffee and asks me to show her how to brew a new pot. I guess I'm officially a veteran here now!
12:15 p.m. — I check what's on the menu for lunch, and it's Thai food. I don't really think I can do more Asian food, so I decide to take a walk and find something downtown. I invite teammates, but they're all pretty busy and eating at their desks today, so I head out alone. It feels amazing to get fresh air and a little exercise. I end up stopping at a cute cafe and ordering an acai bowl with acai, peanut butter, blueberries, bananas, granola, and hemp seeds ($10 + $1 tip). This is actually the first time I've purchased lunch instead of eating at the office, so I don't feel too guilty, and it's a nice mid-week treat. $11
Advertisement
3 p.m. — Hello 3 p.m. slump! I get a bag of baked potato chips, a mini York peppermint patty, and a mango La Croix from the office kitchen.
6:15 p.m. — Dinner's delivered to the office and I'm the first person to pounce on it. I make myself a big plate of salad topped with turkey meatballs in red sauce. Sort of random, but it tastes pretty good. I eat with coworkers at one of the tables in our dining area, and we talk about some of our struggles as women in the tech industry.
8 p.m. — I get an invitation for an 8 a.m. meeting tomorrow in my inbox, and immediately shut my laptop and call it quits for the night. There's no traffic on my drive home, and I listen to an NPR story about Japanese-American soldiers in WWII while eating a mini Milky Way stolen from the office. I'd like to say that my recent sweet tooth and crankiness are PMS, but who am I kidding.
8:30 p.m. — Get home and I'm delighted to see that my Sephora order from last week finally arrived!! I really, really WANT to be skincare-obsessed but 1) I'm lazy and 2) I have super sensitive, Irish, rosacea skin. Most products irritate my face, so now that I've found a good BB cream that my face doesn't reject, I pretty much don't deviate at all from it. I also bought a small tube of Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, since I always love trying new mascaras. Best part of having Sephora shipped rather going into a store is the free perfume samples.
Advertisement
9:30 p.m. — BF gets home from work and we laze on the couch browsing our phones and talking. I turn on an episode of Pretty Little Liars (he groans), and half-watch while texting my siblings in our group text and playing Words With Friends against BF. I head to bed and then read for about 30 minutes before turning off the lights and passing out.
Daily Total: $11

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed and curse the person who scheduled the 8 a.m. meeting. Whyyyyyy??? I take a super quick shower, which perks me right up, and end up driving to work again. I've been pretty bad this week about taking public transit.
7:55 a.m. — Get to my desk just in time to quickly pour a cup of coffee before heading to the meeting. Our meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, but ends up lasting a god awful TWO HOURS and thirty minutes! I feel pretty bad about how the meeting went. There were a lot of things I was asked to speak to that I wasn't sure of right on the spot. I come out of the conference room feeling exhausted and already behind on all of today's tasks.
12 p.m. — Lunch finally arrives, and today it's BBQ. I fill half of my plate with a kale, watermelon, and feta salad, and fill the other half with mac and cheese and pulled chicken with BBQ sauce. I eat outside in the courtyard to force myself not to look at my monitor for 30 minutes. This is JUST the comfort food I've been craving.
Advertisement
12:30 p.m. — Back at my desk again. I steal a mini York peppermint patty from the snacks area and as soon as I put it in my mouth I get the most horrible pain in between two of my teeth. Did I just find a cavity??? Dammit.
4 p.m. — I've been spinning my wheels aimlessly on one workpaper, and I'm exhausted. I take a quick walk around the building to get fresh air, and call BF to see how his day is going. It's ramen night at my office, so we make plans for him to come here for dinner.
6:30 p.m. — BF arrives at my office and we build our own bowls of delicious ramen. I add green onions, wakame, and about five soft-boiled eggs to my bowl of noodles and pork. So, so good, and I'm glad that BF gets to meet a few of my coworkers.
8 p.m. — BF drives me home so we don't have to take two cars. I'll just ride the train in tomorrow and drive home tomorrow night — our office is chill about leaving cars overnight. As soon as we get home, we start tidying up since my friend is set to arrive in a few hours. We run to the grocery store across the street to get a few essentials: laundry detergent, vodka, and Its-Its (my friend's favorite ice cream snack). The total comes to $18.53. BF pays, but will add it to our shared expense spreadsheet later. We track our shared expenses monthly and then “settle up” at the end of every month. This works for us, and our version of taking each other out on a date usually involves the phrase: “I won't put this on the spreadsheet, babe.”
9:15 p.m. — BF makes us Moscow Mules, and he tackles the kitchen and dishes while I clean the bathroom and set up the air mattress. We "invested" in a fancy $80 one from Amazon last year, and all of our guests rave about it. When we're done setting it up, we lay on the couch and play our favorite dumb video game until our guests arrive.
11:30 p.m. — Yay, my friend is here with her boyfriend! I've probably only met the guy once so I don't know him very well, but as soon as he says “IS THIS THE LEGENDARY AIR MATTRESS?” I know we'll get along great. BF is super cute and insists on making everyone cocktails (and even runs to the store to grab more ginger beer). We stay up until about 1 a.m. chatting and planning the weekend. Only one more work day left!
Daily Total: $0
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 themes:
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!
We want to hear from you: A new study has found that Americans pay nearly as much for childcare as they do for rent — and we want to talk about it! Fill out this form to join the conversation about the state of soaring childcare and rental prices in the U.S. and for a chance to be featured in an upcoming piece.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series