A Week In Mountain View, CA, On A $122,000 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: an engineer working in tech who makes $122,000 per year and spends part of their paycheck this week on granola. (You can also read their interview about living in the car, here.)
Occupation: Engineer
Industry: Tech
Age: 25
Location: Mountain View, CA
Salary: $122,000
Annual Bonus: $21,500. (Varies based on performance.)
Equity: $44,500 (Vests over four years.)
Paycheck (2x/month): $2,440, after tax deductions; life, dental and vision insurance, and 401(k), IRA, and HSA contributions.
Gender Identity: Agender
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0. (I live in my car. My workplace has everything I need, including showers, laundry facilities, and internet.)
Student Loan Payments: $1,800. (My parents paid for my undergraduate by refinancing their mortgage, and now I'm paying them back. $46,850 left!)
Phone: $225. (I'm on a family plan with my parents.)
Netflix: $11. (My parents use this as well.)
Amazon Prime: $9.
Health Insurance: $0. (It's covered by work.)
Dental Insurance: $9
Vision Insurance: $4
Life Insurance: $18
401(k): $1,542. (My employer matches 50%.)
IRA: $458
HSA: $204. (My employer contributes $1,000/year.)
Savings: I keep $10,000 in a money market account and keep my checking account between $1,000-$3,000, investing in index funds when it goes above that.
Index Funds: $5,200. (I have a three-fund lazy portfolio.)
Patreon: $31. (Mostly webcomic artists.)
501(c)(3) Donations: $500. (My employer matches $6,000/year.)
Other Donations: Last year it averaged to $175/month, and this year I've budgeted $250/month.
Money Experiments: $1,000
Hen Harbor Sponsorship: $10
Additional Expenses
Car Insurance: $260, paid every six months

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up to my partner calling me for our morning call. I'm terrible at waking up and have once (or twice…) missed an important work meeting due to sleeping in, so my partner has started calling me in the mornings before work.
8:30 a.m. — I make sure I look fairly presentable for work in the office bathroom and then grab a coffee and a nectarine from the café. (All the food on campus at my workplace is free.) When I get back to my desk, I start looking into nearby animal sanctuaries to visit for Presidents' Day with my partner since we both have the day off.
10:30 a.m. — Sell my old rice cooker to a coworker for $60. I couldn't bear to part with it after I moved into my car but it's been collecting dust ever since.
12 p.m. — My partner emails me a link to an article about Ariana Grande visiting PreetiRang Sanctuary, so we're both sold on visiting there. I send the sanctuary a tour request and cross my fingers!
1 p.m. — I donate $500 to Figure Skating in Harlem, an organization for girls of color, and their sister program, Figure Skating in Detroit, as part of my skating-themed money experiment for this month. I skated when I was younger, and it wasn't until I took up figure skating as an adult (and had to pay for my own skates and lessons) that I understood how expensive it was.
1:30 p.m. — I bike to a café at work for lunch. They have vegan chocolate cupcakes (yum!) and I grab two for later, plus vegan pad Thai. I eat a cupcake before biking back.
2 p.m. — Back at my desk and starting my Money Diary. I actually just found out about Money Diaries yesterday and initially thought I would write one in the nebulous future when my life would be more interesting, but then I reconsidered. Why not now?
4 p.m. — Eat the other chocolate cupcake.
5 p.m. — I check my company's stock price and it has dropped quite a bit. The trading window for employees is currently open and I have a lot of vested shares I want to sell, but I'll wait until the price (hopefully) goes up again. During my first few years at this job, I didn't look at my shares at all. I didn't really know what it all meant and was too lazy and intimidated to figure it out. It wasn't until last year that I realized I should be selling my shares!
5:15 p.m. — I sponsor a hen residing at Hen Harbor, an animal sanctuary I've visited before. She was rescued from an urban flock of backyard hens, where she assumed the role of the rooster and started crowing. A gender non-conforming chicken! I make my monthly $10 payment.
8 p.m. — Finish my Duolingo session for the day. (I'm trying to learn Spanish and Vietnamese.) Tôi hạnh phúc!
8:30 p.m. — A friend and I share our weekly roundup of articles we found interesting and include a line about writing a Money Diary this week: "If we hate capitalism and debt, and living in a world where we need money to survive, we have to learn to talk about it in order to change it." I insert a GIF of Rob Bliss protesting the FCC's vote to end net neutrality by biking extremely slowly in the middle of the street. It makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
10:30 p.m. — I go to bed in my car.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Morning wake-up call! My partner and I talk a little about a podcast episode we both listened to, The Libertarian Ideology of Bitcoin.
8:15 a.m. — I take a shower at the gym and try to stretch my ear holes to the next gauge, but it feels like a bigger size difference than previous times. I give my ears a rest and try again in a week.
9 a.m. — I get an email from PreetiRang Sanctuary saying that they're booked for February and another email from Critical Resistance with the new issue of The Abolitionist. I donate $15, plus a bit extra since it's through Network for Good, as part of my monthly donations.
9:30 a.m. — Get oatmeal before the café closes!
10:30 a.m. — A friend I know through volunteering emailed about a free workshop for women and non-binary coders. I register!
11:45 p.m. — I bike to a café on campus where you can make your own sandwich. (Food on campus is free.) I make two and grab vegan chocolate chip cookies before biking back to my desk.
12:30 p.m. — Time for my aerial silks class. Most exercise classes at work are also free, and this is one of them! I haven't exercised in a few weeks because I got sick and then got my period (ugh), so I feel a little weak. I got good stretches in during that time, though.
2 p.m. — I eat one of the sandwiches and some cookies.
4:30 p.m. — I get on an early shuttle bus to San Francisco for a queer Lunar New Year event planning meeting. I planned to do work on the bus, but like I often do, I fall asleep after half an hour or so. (This shuttle is free for full-time employees.)
5:45 p.m. — Traffic isn't bad today! I get a surprise call from my partner and we talk en route to our respective meetings.
6 p.m. — Event planning meeting! Dinner is provided and we eat food from the venue where we're considering hosting the event.
8 p.m. — I bike to the Caltrain station ($7.70) and head back home, where I do my Duolingo lesson for the day (¡mañana es el sábado!) and start watching Altered Carbon on Netflix. I like Netflix's series because they have audio descriptions — additional narration that describes what's going on visually, which is super important for people who are blind or have low vision. (And I don't need to look at the screen!) $7.70
10 p.m. — I get back to the office, eat late-night cereal, and start watching Queer Eye. I'm so bad at sleeping at a reasonable time on the weekends.
Daily Total: $7.70

Day Three

11:30 a.m. — Lazy morning today; I stayed up so late last night watching Netflix. I get ready for the day in the office bathroom and eat my sandwich from yesterday.
1:30 p.m. — Bike to the dentist to get a crown on my back molar. I had an emergency root canal last year and finally scheduled a follow-up appointment. My dental insurance covers half the cost and I put it on my credit card (1.5% cash back). I'll submit a reimbursement form from my HSA later. $550.20
3:30 p.m. — When I get back to the office, my dad calls me because I asked for the account login to our family phone account. I need to change the current auto-pay credit card because I want to cancel the card I'm currently paying with. It's the first credit card I ever got and the phone bill is all I use it for now, but it's been on auto-pay for forever and I haven't been able to log in! I realize I still have $4.62 in reward points on the card, so I use it to buy a book I've been wanting to read, Book of Cord by Leona Chen, using points through Amazon. I'll pay off the balance and cancel the card later. $12.82
5:15 p.m. — I bike to the Caltrain station to head into the city ($7.70). I'm meeting up with another partner of mine to watch a play called Can I Hold You: An Aromantic Comedy. We're both asexual, so we're excited and hopeful that the play will be good! $7.70
6:30 p.m. — I bike to Rainbow Grocery to get snacks and food for my partner because I have spare time. I get blueberries, vegan chocolate chip cookies, granola, chocolate covered coconut chews, and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves. $18.02
7:30 p.m. — Bike to the theater and get our seats. The tickets are free, but they're accepting donations for the SF Mime Troupe and Asexuality SF, the ace meet-up group in the Bay Area, so I donate $20. My partner arrives, we find seats, and the play starts!
9 p.m. — My partner and I walk to a café and I buy juice so that we have a reason to be there. We talk about the play (we both enjoyed it) and what's been going on in our lives in the last few months. We don't meet in person very often, but it's a pleasure when we do. $4
11 p.m. — I bike to the home of a couple of friends nearby to drop off phone privacy screens for them. It's late and cold and they're about to go to sleep; they invite me to stay over and if I had planned better, it would've been easier to do that since I have a few events in East Bay tomorrow. But I left my things at home and already planned to go back. We say goodnight and I bike to the Caltrain.
11:30 p.m. — I get to the train station and hurriedly finish my Duolingo for the day. My streak continues! I fall asleep after a while, but not before setting an alarm so I don't miss my stop. $7.70
1:30 a.m. — I get back to the office, toss my bag into my chair, and immediately go to bed. I should've brushed my teeth (that's probably why I needed a root canal in the first place) but I'm so tired!
Daily Total: $600.44

Day Four

12:45 p.m. — I jolt out of bed because I've majorly overslept! It was a bit colder last night and I was enjoying the warmth of my bed this morning. I shower at the gym and toss Clif Bars in my bag for later.
1:15 p.m. — Bike to the Caltrain station to head up to East Bay. I was going to go to a music rehearsal, but it was just canceled. (This flu season is really kicking people's butts.) This means I have to lug around my instrument, but I also have a few extra hours to get food for a study group later and finish up the study group reading! I eat a Clif Bar. $5.45
2:30 p.m. — I transfer to BART and finish my Duolingo for the day. (Tiếng Việt rất khó.) $5.10
3:30 p.m. — I bike to Vegan Donut Gelato to get potluck goodies. I buy a dozen donut holes and donuts to share (sugar-dusted, rainbow sprinkles, and chocolate) and sit outside to finish the readings. We're studying the history of China, starting from the social movements in the early 1900s until the present, and how it impacts those of us in the diaspora today. $13.12
5 p.m. — Study group time! It's really great to hear everyone's different perspectives and stories, along with what they thought about the text we read. Everyone brought yummy food, too. We're meeting at LOL (Liberating Ourselves Locally), a POC-led makerspace, and we all chip in for rental costs. $5
7:15 p.m. — I bike to BART and only have to wait a few minutes for the train! $5.10
8:30 p.m. — Dash up and down the stairs with my bike in time to make Caltrain. I call my partner to catch up on both of our weekends since they're visiting their family out of town. $5.45
9:45 p.m. — Stop by Safeway on my way home to get glutinous rice flour for the Lunar New Year potluck in two days, but they don't have any. I have an interesting conversation with a stranger in the baking aisle, though.
10:30 p.m. — I get back to the office and start laundry. I've run out of pants! My workplace has washers and dryers and provides laundry detergent as well. It's late, but I make tea, eat a donut, and catch up on emails.
1 a.m. — I finish my laundry, fold my clothes, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $39.22

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — Morning wake-up call, even though my partner is on vacation! They're so sweet, despite me being so, so sleepy.
9:30 a.m. — I get coffee, go through articles in my RSS feed, and do work.
10:30 a.m. — Eat the last donut from yesterday. I love donuts.
12 p.m. — I go through my non-work emails. I helped design anti-deportation flyers last year for some friends and they emailed me for the base images so other organizations in their network could put their own text on top. I export the images and send them along. I'm currently helping out with flyers for community-based solutions to police, so I send an email asking for a few design clarifications. I also start a document to write down the craft ideas my partner and I have for TGNC Rights and Empowerment Day. An organization we both volunteer for asked for help setting up an arts and crafts table.
1 p.m. — I bike to a work café for lunch and get risotto and tapioca pudding (and some extra for later!).
4 p.m. — I go to ballet class at work, which is also free. I move like a graceless animal, but it's fun.
5:30 p.m. — Drive to a meeting about labor activism in tech. It's rush hour and traffic is awful, but we're meeting in Cupertino, which is a bit too far to bike to and not close enough to public transportation and shuttle stops. It's fun to meet everyone and discuss possible action items to work on over the next few months.
8:30 p.m. — I stop by 99 Ranch to get glutinous rice flour on my way home. It's on sale! I get a bit of ginger for the sweet soup and tofu snacks to munch on, too. $2.99
9 p.m. — I get back to the office and eat my lunch leftovers for a late dinner. I finish my Duolingo for the day and surf the Internet.
1 a.m. — Bedtime.
Daily Total: $2.99

Day Six

8:45 a.m. — Morning wake-up call! We're both tired, so it's a short talk. I listen to my morning podcasts in bed because it's cozy and I'm lazy this morning.
9:30 a.m. — I get coffee and convince myself to do work.
12:30 p.m. — Bike to a work café to get lunch: vegetables, noodles, lots of garlic bread (yum), and sorbet for dessert.
1:30 p.m. — I go to donate blood. I'm lazy, so I only donate when there's a drive at work, which is only a few times a year. But I cough while I'm in the bloodmobile and the donor technician is suspicious that I'm still sick from my cold a couple weeks ago and turns me away. I don't want to make anyone sick but it's a little frustrating. It was the first and only time I've coughed this week!
4 p.m. — I get on an early bus to Berkeley for the Lunar New Year potluck, do work for a while, and then finish my Duolingo lesson for the day.
6 p.m. — My dad calls me as I'm getting off the bus. My mom has been applying for different jobs for the past few months, and she got an offer today! My dad tells me to call her, so we say bye and I call my mom while I bike to my friend's place. She's excited and has another interview in a couple of days.
6:30 p.m. — I get to my friend's place and say bye to my mom. We start cooking! Another person also brought tang yuan to make, so we have an abundance of dessert — but we don't have any vegetables to eat except for the scallions in the scallion pancakes! We make a lot of starchy and fried foods. Probably should've coordinated who was bringing what, nutrition-wise. Everything's delicious, though! We practice our Mandarin (we're all heritage language learners) and try to remember New Year's stories from our childhoods. 新年快樂!
9 p.m. — I bike to my partner's place now that they're back in town. Yay, cuddles!
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7 a.m. — Time to wake up. I just want to cuddle!
7:30 a.m. — I say bye to my partner, bike to the shuttle stop, and get on the bus to go to work. I listen to my usual morning podcasts and fall asleep before the first one even finishes!
9:30 a.m. — I get to the office and get coffee along with two halves of vegan donuts, a special office treat for Valentine's Day.
12 p.m. — I set a limit order to sell half of my current vested company shares. The price has been rebounding, so I'm hoping it'll go through before the end of the trading window.
12:30 p.m. — I bike to two cafés: one to get japchae for later (my favorite dish), and another one further away for noodle soup. It works out well because I need to stop by someone's desk on the other side of campus anyway.
3 p.m. — I go to aerial silks class. I'm feeling stronger! I take a shower at the gym afterward.
4:30 p.m. — My limit order went through. The stock price has been increasing faster than I thought it would –now I wish I set the limit for higher! My shares sold for $21,400, and I put in another limit order for half of the rest at an even higher price.
7 p.m. — I finish my Duolingo for the day and start putting stickers on my bike. I bought a bunch of cute stickers recently but then got too lazy to put them all on. There are a lot and I only put about a fifth on before I get tired. An old bike of. mine was stolen a year ago and it was devastating. I'm hoping all the stickers will deter any bike thieves.
10 p.m. — I start watching The Mortified Guide on Netflix but I'm so tired! I go to bed and finish the episode under my covers.
Daily Total: $0
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