A Week In Portland, OR, On A $43,000 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 office manager working in distribution who makes $43,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on a box of apricot La Croix.
Occupation: Office Manager
Industry: Distribution
Age: 24
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $43,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,400
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,089. (I currently live in a one-bedroom apartment by myself. My wife and I are currently separated. It's a long story, but I'm hoping that we'll figure it out soon.)
Student Loan Payment: $50
Car Payment: $218
Utilities: $100, which includes hot water, sewage, garbage, and electricity
Cable & Internet: $120
Phone Bill: $60
Car Insurance: $90
Renter's Insurance: $20, which also covers my engagement ring and wedding band
Amazon Prime: $10.99
Netflix: $13.99
Health Insurance: $313, although that is reimbursed by work. (I stopped being covered by my parents' insurance at the end of the year. After considering my options, it turns out that it's cheaper for me to get an individual plan and be reimbursed than to be added to the company's plan. I am very excited about this because I can get incredible insurance for a little over $313 per month and the company will cover all of it.)

Day One

8 a.m. — Wake up to let the dogs outside. My parents are away this weekend, so my younger sister and I are dog sitting for them. I contemplate waking up my sister, E.*, to get coffee, but fear the teenage anger that will come of it. Instead, I turn on garbage TV and scroll through social media.
9:30 a.m. — I can't wait any longer. I reluctantly wake up E., who is in surprisingly good spirits, and she agrees to go with me. We drive to Dutch Bros. (not my first pick when it comes to coffee, but it will do) and I order a small latte with Irish cream and an extra shot of espresso. She gets a blended, flavored energy drink. We have a full punch card good for a free drink and get both drinks for the price of one. $7
12 p.m. — I need to get jeans that actually fit me and E. just started a new job and wants to update her closet, so we decide to go shopping. I end up getting a pair of jeans, a pair of cute shorts, and a new pair of sunglasses. E. gives me one of her coupons and the total is only $33! I know I should stop spending, but we go into Nordstrom too and I end up leaving with a great pair of Jack Rogers booties on super sale and velvet pajama shorts just because ($65). $98
2 p.m. — We worked up an appetite shopping and stop at one of our favorite sushi places for lunch. We share a couple of plates and I have a hot tea. Being the older sister, I always seem to pick up the check, but I really enjoy spending time with E. $22
6 p.m. — E. is going out with her boyfriend tonight and I have plans later, but I go for another round of retail therapy to pass the time. I reason with myself that going through this separation from my wife has been very hard on me, and shopping for clothes that fit is way better than drinking or another coping mechanism. I find another pair of shorts and a sports bra and call it a win. $35
7:30 p.m. — I meet my brother-in-law's girlfriend for drinks at one of my favorite bars. We both order pomegranate ciders and share an order of Cajun tots. We talk about my separation and the family. It's been so hard but my in-laws are incredible. After talking and crying for a while, I pick up the tab. $22
10 p.m. — Get home and am ready to crash. I let the dogs out, put them to bed, and hit the pillow hard.
Daily Total: $184

Day Two

9 a.m. — This is seriously sleeping in for me. I rarely sleep past 8 anymore. I get up, let the dogs out, and start a load of laundry before waking up E.
9:30 a.m. — We drive to Starbucks and I order a triple-grande latte and E. gets a black iced tea and a bacon breakfast sandwich. I pay again. $11
10:30 a.m. — I start another load of laundry and mentally prepare for my week. I make a list of groceries I need to get and plan my meals. My stomach has been very sensitive lately so I have been focusing on eating quality protein and produce.
12 p.m. — E. coaches a youth volleyball team, so she leaves for practice and I head out to the grocery store. First stop: Trader Joe's. I grab spinach, hard-boiled eggs, apples, dried mango, and breakfast trek mix ($12). Next I stop at Costco for a rotisserie chicken and a whole pepperoni pizza from the food court per E.'s request ($15). $27
5:30 p.m. — E. and I snack a ton throughout the day and are not that hungry for a full dinner. I eat a slice of pizza and she makes Top Ramen. We lounge on the couch while I look online for more clothes as well as housewares. I recently moved into a new apartment, so buying home decor has been fun and distracting for me. I end up putting a bunch of things in my cart but don't pull the trigger yet. Typical.
8:30 p.m. — I pack all my stuff from staying at my parents' house and head back to my apartment to unload before running out to pick them up from the airport.
11 p.m. — Finally back in my own bed and already thinking about buying a coffee in the morning. I am an old lady at heart and this is way past my bedtime, especially when I have to be up for work early tomorrow.
Daily Total: $38

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Finally roll out of bed after pushing snooze twice – I knew it was going to be a rough morning. I jump in the shower, get dressed, and pack shredded chicken, an apple and trek mix for my lunch. I'm out of the door by 7. My ability to get ready so quickly is a super power.
7:20 a.m. — I resist the urge to stop at my favorite coffee shop near my office and instead go to the grocery store to stock the office coffee supply. I buy creamer, two packs of coffee pods, a bottle of water, and more forks on my company credit card. I get to the office by 7:30 and organize our coffee supplies before sitting down at my desk. ($22 expensed)
9 a.m. — I go through emails and get organized while drinking two cups of (free) office coffee. I have a feeling this week is going to be very long. The owner of the company comes in and talks my ear off about his weekend. I really like him — plus our conversations usually eat up a good hour of my day, which I am totally okay with. He tells me about a conference he would like me to go to later this year. I do some research, find a great deal on airfare, and use the conference group rate to book my hotel. ($425 expensed)
4 p.m. — Wow, what a Monday! Today kicked my butt and I could not be more ready to head home. One of my favorite parts of my job is the hours. Getting off at 4 makes it feel like I have plenty of time to accomplish things after work. I pack up my stuff, starving and sleepy from the long day.
5:30 p.m. — I get home and unpack everything from my weekend. Then I fix a spinach salad with shredded chicken. For the life of me, I cannot get my new salad dressing bottle open, so I settle for olive oil and soy sauce and it is delicious! I eat my salad on the couch and catch up on TV.
8 p.m. — I'm exhausted and starting not to feel too good. I jump in the shower (I don't like blow-drying my hair, so I normally shower at night), wash my face, and jump right in bed. I watch Grey's Anatomy on repeat to fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Snooze my alarm twice. (I set my alarm way too early so I can snooze it and lay in bed longer, which I know makes no sense.) I get out of bed, do my hair and makeup, throw on clothes, and head out the door. My office is pretty casual, which I am so thankful for. If I had to dress up every day, I would be a very cranky person.
7:30 a.m. — It's super foggy this morning, and everyone in the Pacific Northwest forgets how to drive when there is fog (or rain or, heaven forbid, snow). My commute is a little longer today but I cave and stop at my favorite coffee shop. Their espresso is so smooth and delicious. I get a triple latte with one raw sugar. $4.25
11:30 a.m. — Things are super slow in the office, which is bizarre since we are having the best Q1 we've had since I've been here. I'm getting antsy and hungry, so I go to Subway for lunch to get out of the office. I get a foot-long turkey sandwich with lots of veggies and have every intention of saving half for tomorrow's lunch. $7.50
11:45 a.m. — As I walk out to my car, I notice how dirty it is. Ever since I bought it last summer, I have been obsessed with taking good care of it. I go through the quick car wash and then go back to work, where I grab an apricot LaCroix (my favorite). $8
3 p.m. — I finish up the application for my health insurance plan and pay the first month's premium, which I will be reimbursed for. Then I pack up my stuff and head home. ($313 expensed)
5 p.m. — I do a core workout in my living room and watch Say Yes to the Dress, which kind of feels like torture even though I enjoy it. I eat the other half of my sandwich from today's lunch for dinner.
6 p.m. — I'm meeting my wife so that we can do our taxes together, and I am a total ball of nerves. We haven't seen each other in two weeks and it has been so hard. She's been staying with her parents, so we meet at their house and sit at the dining room table. We have a decent conversation but I can tell that she is getting antsy, so I head out. I feel hopeful for our future and that we can start to turn things around. I pay the fee to file and direct deposit our taxes. $69.99
8 p.m. — I go to my parents' house to pick up two packages I sent there. It's nice to see my family but they always ask about my wife and how it's going, which is really difficult. I grab my packages and go back to my house. The grocery store by my parents' house is the only place I have seen apricot LaCroix in the larger boxes, so I stop in and grab a box to restock my fridge. $4
9:30 p.m. — Finally home. I do my normal nightly routine and go right to sleep.
Daily Total: $93.74

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — After waking up throughout the night, I am exhausted and have a terrible migraine. I lay in bed for way too long while I contemplate working from home, but I feel like I need to suck it up and go into the office. I rush to get ready and leave by 7:10.
7:30 a.m. — I need all the coffee this morning. I brew a cup at the office but put in too much creamer, so it's kind of gross. Again, not very many emails and not a lot of big projects going on, so I know it's going to be a long day.
1 p.m. — Someone ordered pizza and I grab a slice and eat at my desk with a LaCroix while I scroll through social media. My birthday is next week, so I confirm my family dinner reservation.
4 p.m. — On my way home from work, I realize my gas is getting pretty low so I stop to fill up. Costco gas is 20 cents cheaper per gallon than the gas at any other place around, so waiting a little longer seems worth it. $26.70
5 p.m. — Watch college basketball, start a load of laundry, and relax a little bit. During halftime, I sauté spinach and chicken and top it with Alfredo sauce. It's delicious and I have enough to take to work tomorrow.
7:30 p.m. — I jump in the shower and do my nightly routine before watching the new episode of Grey's Anatomy and heading to bed.
Daily Total: $26.70

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I'm surprisingly awake and in good spirits — maybe because it's Friday? Get ready for the day, pack my lunch and clothes for the weekend (I'm housesitting for a family friend), and turn off all the lights and the heaters since I won't be back until Sunday.
7:10 a.m. — My commute is a breeze this morning; it seems like Fridays and Mondays are always less congested, which is nice. I get off the freeway with plenty of time, so I go through the Starbucks drive-through. I would much rather have coffee from my favorite place right around the corner, but this way I don't have to get out of my car. I order a triple latte and a bagel to munch on at my desk. $7.20
12 p.m. — Take my lunch break and drive over to the house I'm staying at this weekend to check on the dogs and drop off my stuff. Once I'm back at the office, I go through emails and eat my leftover spinach and chicken. The rest of the day is pretty much a dud, so I hope I can get out of here a little early and run errands before heading back to the dogs.
3 p.m. — Freedom! Even if it's an hour early, I will take it. I leave the office and go to the store to return a couple of items I don't like enough to keep. I leave with some other items too, of course, and spend an extra $30. Before going to the house, I stop at Target to pick up thank-you cards. I also grab car air fresheners (black ice is the OG), a charcoal clay mask cleanser, a couple of makeup brushes, and an eyeshadow pallet (I don't even wear eyeshadow but it's on sale and this is Target). Only $22 in damage – not bad if you ask me. $52
7 p.m. — After wrestling the dogs and catching up on garbage television, I make a quick salad and a cup of hot chamomile tea and settle in for the night.
10 p.m. — These dogs are on the tightest schedule – it's kind of insane. I let them out for the last time before putting them and myself to bed.
Daily Total: $59.20

Day Seven

8 a.m. — I take the day off to reboot and refocus.
10 a.m. — Pick up coffee for a friend and me before heading over to their house. $9.80
11 a.m. — We head up to a winery with beautiful views. We are so lucky to live in a place with random gorgeous days like this one in the middle of winter. We both do a tasting flight ($20) and then order a magnum bottle of rosé to celebrate my birthday. We split the bill and tip. $50
1:30 p.m. — We are starved and decide on Thai food. I have been craving pad see ew and am so excited. We split the bill again. $18
4 p.m. — I had some other things I wanted to accomplish today, but I am exhausted and honestly a little tipsy from all our wine earlier in the day. I decide to hang out with my family for a bit before calling it in early.
8 p.m. — Still exhausted and fighting a nasty wine headache, so I decide to give in for the night. I end up binge watching old Grey's Anatomy episodes before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $77.80
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
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