A Week In San Jose, 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.
Want to continue the conversation? Join our Money Diaries Facebook Group to discuss finances, share spending habits and saving advice, ask money- and career-related questions, and get access to exclusive content. It's a judgment-free zone.
Today: a content marketing manager working in hospitality tech who makes $85,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Hydro Flask. This Money Diarist wrote a diary back in January, when she was unemployed. Read below for an update on her life now.
Occupation: Content Marketing Manager
Industry: Hospitality Tech
Age: 26
Location: San Jose, CA
Salary: $85,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,237.27
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I still live at home with my parents and younger siblings.)
Car Payment: $726.85 (I pay for the family SUV ($393.44) and my sister's car ($333.41).)
Commuter Card: $108 pre-tax every paycheck. (I live in San Jose, but commute to work in San Francisco. I add enough to get me to and from the office 4 days a week, since I work from home at least once a week.)
BART Parking: $60
Cell Phone: $365.86 (I pay for my family's and boyfriend's lines, and my boyfriend and sister pay me back for theirs ($54).)
Netflix: $10.99
Curology: $19.95
401(k): 6% of every paycheck ($212.50 every two weeks)
Savings: $1,500-2,000
Additional Expenses
Spotify: $0.99 for three months. (I keep canceling my subscription, but they just keep coming back with these offers.)

Day One

8:30 a.m. — My boyfriend, M., and I just spent the weekend in New Orleans, and we're flying home today. Our flight is at 10:55 a.m., but we have to pick up a friend and drop off our rental car before getting to the airport. We check out at the hotel and pay for two days of parking. $45.30
10 a.m. — A friend asked M. to bring his guitar back to San Jose with us. M. wants to check in his luggage to make carrying the guitar easier, but the line is stupid long, and we're boarding in 25 minutes. We take the chance and head to our gate in hopes that the Southwest attendant will just help us check it at the gate (and she does).
10:10 a.m. — We breeze through security, thanks to TSA PreCheck. I'm not really hungry, but I want to get as much NOLA food as I can before we leave. I buy a spicy creole sausage from a small food stand near our gate. Who knew a hot dog from a random food stand would be so satisfying. $6.19
10:55 a.m. — We snag one of the last two seats next to each other. The older man next to nice and a bit chatty, but in a good way. He asks M. if I'm his wife, and then tells him the best thing to do is to become best friends with your partner first. My heart is giddy, because he is so pure and sweet.
12:30 p.m. — M. and I both KTFO on the flight, and then wake up in Vegas for our layover. We roam, and I grab an iced tea from Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. $4.75
1 p.m. — I want spaghetti and meatballs so badly, but I can never justify paying over $10 for it when I can make it for way less at home. So we go to Popeye's. $9.62
3:40 p.m. — Back in good old San Jose. Grab our luggage and hop into M.'s sister's car. She drops us off at his house, and then he takes me home, where I'm greeted by my overly-excited and adorable puppy. I missed him so much over the weekend, I actually cried.
5 p.m. — My parents' friends are visiting, so there's enough food to feed an army for dinner. I have some, plus I try Mozzarella 'N Marinara Ruffles. They taste like mozzarella sticks dipped in marinara sauce. I'm amazed.
7 p.m. — I need gas so I can get to work tomorrow, and I want boba from Gong Cha since I have 20% off. I swoop up M., who lives just a couple minutes away, and stop by Costco for gas ($32.82). Then I treat myself to an oolong milk tea with egg pudding, because vacation doesn't end until 11:59 p.m. tonight ($3.74). $36.56
10 p.m. — My nighttime routine has shortened tremendously since I started using Curology about a month or so ago. They recommend that you simplify your routine to face wash, then Curology, then moisturizer. But I still use my toner, because I can't not use it, and eye cream. Curology helped me a lot in the beginning, but I feel like my progress has slowed lately.
Daily Total: $102.42

Day Two

5:50 a.m. — I wake up for work at a stupid hour. I'm too lazy to wear makeup to work, and I ain't got nobody to impress, so I'm out the door by 6:02.
6:30 a.m. — I always hop on the same BART train every day (unless I'm running late). My commuter payments are loaded onto my HSA card, which doubles as a commuter card. One way costs me $6.75 plus $3 parking, but I've already preloaded money.
7:24 a.m. — I reach the Embarcadero stop in San Francisco. I wait about five minutes for the PresidiGo shuttle to take me to the Presidio, where I work. It's free during most of the day, but during peak hours, you need a PresidiGo pass or a pass from your Presidio employer. They never check, though.
7:53 a.m. — All in all, it takes me about two hours to get to work. It's not ideal, but it's also not as bad as everyone makes it seem. Instead of being stuck in traffic for one and a half to two hours, I get to sleep or read.
8:30 a.m. — After not having checked my email for a few days, I learn today that we have changed our weekly all-hands meeting schedule. Instead of our usual 9:30 a.m. meeting, today we have a 5 p.m. meeting. I'm not thrilled. Had I known, I would have come in later.
11 a.m. — I've been wanting a Hydro Flask for a long time now, but could never justify the cost. My best friend tells me REI is having their anniversary sale, so I select a 40-ounce Hydro Flask for 50% off, plus I throw one in the cart for my BFF. I plan to pick them up after work at the Fremont location. It's $46.74, but BFF Venmos me half. $23.37
12 p.m. — I didn't pack lunch, so I decide to take my hour-long lunch break to get food, since I have to stay later anyway. (I usually work through lunch so I can leave as early as possible.) I run into my coworker in the bathroom, and we walk over to the cafeteria together.
12:15 p.m. — I am so tempted by all the indulgent food in our super gourmet cafeteria, but I get a falafel pita sandwich with sides of tabouli and French fries. As I eat my lunch outside, I realize they only gave me one tiny falafel. I feel cheated. $9.71
1 p.m. — I went to JINS a few weeks ago for a new glasses prescription and a new pair after realizing my current frames weren't cutting it anymore. Either the new prescription isn't great, or my eyes are having a hard time adjusting, so I make another appointment at JINS for tomorrow so I can get checked out for free while I'm still within my 30-day grace period.
5 p.m. — Meeting time. It goes over the allotted time slot. I am tired and want to go home.
5:38 p.m. — I miss the 5:30 PresidiGo shuttle, so I wait for the next one that's supposed to come in 15 minutes, but it doesn't. At least a group of my coworkers is also waiting, so we chat. I'm in my fourth month at this company, but I'm super shy, so I try my best to contribute to the conversation.
6:15 p.m. — BART is extra crowded (read: stuffy and smelly) at this hour. I am thoroughly annoyed with my day at this point.
7:10 p.m. — I debate pushing off the Hydro Flask pickup for another day, but I decide to get it over with. I begrudgingly make my way to REI, where I encounter a long line and a fussy toddler.
7:45 p.m. — Finally home, about 14 hours after I left this morning. I scarf down dinner made by Chef Mom, play with my pup, shower, do my nighttime routine, and knock out by 10:30.
Daily Total: $33.08

Day Three

5:50 a.m. — Up and at ‘em. Thankfully, I'm an early bird.
6:30 a.m. — BART time. In the office by 8 a.m., per usual.
9 a.m. — Omfg, my coworker brings in the most amazing glazed donuts. Seriously, they are the best I've ever had. I am overjoyed when I learn they're from Stan's Donuts in Santa Clara — close to home, so I can go when I please. My coworker and I talk about our love for donuts and food in general over Slack.
1 p.m. — It's my boss' last day in the office before she goes on vacation, so there's a lot to do. I eat a bag of Stacy's pita chips and hummus to hold me over.
1:30 p.m. — One of my best friends just graduated from Berkeley Law, and I have yet to get her a grad gift. She told me about these Nike slides she's in love with, so I order a pair for her. $27.31
4 p.m. — I skedaddle out of the office ASAP so I can get to my appointment on time. I take a Lyft Line because it's about half the price of a regular Lyft, and my driver and I chat about the exorbitant costs of living in the city, and Trump. I like this guy, so I tip him $1. $8.44
4:45 p.m. — Well, the optometrist makes a slight adjustment in my prescription, but informs me that the change is so minimal that I may not be able to tell a difference. Since it's free, I decide to go for the new prescription anyway. Just like last time, though, JINS doesn't have my lenses, and they have to special order them. She tells me it'll take two to three weeks. Sigh. I leave JINS just the way I came.
5:12 p.m. — BART after popping into Uniqlo to use the restroom.
6:40 p.m. — M. is a high school teacher, and they had a potluck in his class today since it's the last week of school. Someone brought Limon Hot Cheetos, and M. brought home the remainder for me since he knows they're my ultimate fave. I love him. I stop by his place to pick them up before heading home.
6:45 p.m. — I scarf down dinner. I should really stop eating so fast, but by the time I get home, I'm ravenous. Then, I take my pup on a two-mile walk. He gets scared of balloons that are tied to a tree we pass. My heart.
8:15 p.m. — I decide to prepare a veggie patty for lunch tomorrow. I bought a box of these Morning Star chipotle patties from Costco, and wow, they are amazing. I throw it in a meal prep container with a load of spinach, and then pop it in the fridge.
8:30 p.m. — M. and I go to Safeway to get ingredients for a dip he's making for his students. I want to add an avocado to my lunch tomorrow, but they're $1.99 each. No, thank you. I randomly find a coupon for Chilly Cow ice cream near one of the registers. I've been wanting to try it, so I grab a two-pack of their Cookies 'N Cream flavor, plus a tub of macaroni salad for a friend's BBQ this weekend. I accidentally drop a container of cherry tomatoes, and it explodes at my feet. I run away in panic, and then feel really bad afterwards. $9.98
9:30 p.m. — M. wants to eat the ice cream now with me, and as much as I would like to do that and cuddle, I'm exhausted, so I send him home with a container of ice cream.
11 p.m. — I usually try to get to sleep by 10:30, but I click around on my phone for too long and don't fall asleep until past 11, even though I'm dead tired.
Daily Total: $45.73

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Do my makeup on BART because I'm going to dinner tonight.
8 a.m. — In the office. There's only one other person on my team here today. He's the closest in age to me, so we bond the most. It's a chill day, but my boss is still messaging me like mad, even though she's out of the office.
8:30 a.m. — I have a banana and am still starving afterwards, so I make buttered toast with Dave's Killer Bread. Everyone here is on the Justin's peanut butter train, but I personally don't enjoy it all that much.
9 a.m. — M. and I have an interesting and semi-difficult conversation about the time we spend with each other's families and our respective expectations regarding it. We've been dating for three and a half years, and we're both incredibly family-oriented, so sometimes it's a bit hard trying to accommodate both our families. The talk starts off rocky, but we're able to end on good terms. I eat a single Cheez-It while I reflect.
11 a.m. — I'm going to a joint birthday party at a club on Friday in the city, and my friends are getting bottle service. They ask us to chip in. I am so not for bottle service — it's such a rip off. They pay a total of $1,107 for what, two or three bottles of Hennessy and a place to sit? Our shares are $36 a head. I fork over the money because they're my two good friends. $36
11:30 a.m. — I always try to wait until at least noon to eat my lunch, but I cave at 11:30 today. Microwave my veggie patty and eat it with my raw spinach. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds.
1 p.m. — Surprise, surprise. The veggie patty and spinach filled me up for, like, 10 minutes. Strawberries, blueberries, and mixed nuts it is.
3 p.m. — There's a Thai restaurant in the city I've had bookmarked for ages, so M. and I decide to go there for dinner before meeting up for our friends' birthdays on Friday. There's a 5:30 p.m. reservation available, which is a bit early, but it'll have to do. Their menu looks killer.
4 p.m. — HOMEWARD BOUND. Well, kinda. I'm meeting up with an old coworker for dinner in Japantown in SJ. Traffic is annoying, but expected. I blast a “Get Turnt” playlist on Spotify.
6 p.m. — I arrive at the cutest little boba shop where I have a BOGO 50% off deal, so I treat my old coworker/friend to her drink. I try their peach yogurt tea today, and it is YUMS. $5.90
6:30 p.m. — We walk over to Minato, a Japanese restaurant on the one street that makes up Japantown. I've never been, but have heard great things about it. I think I order the wrong dish, though, because I'm not that impressed. They have stamp cards here, so I guess I'll have to come back and try their most popular dishes. $17
8:45 p.m. — Get home, play with my pup, and shower. I'm working from home the rest of the week, so I don't sleep until around midnight.
Daily Total: $58.90

Day Five

8 a.m. — I love working from home. I wake up to a message from my boss for an image request. Even though most of my job revolves around writing and content management, one my favorite parts is doing graphic design. I have a bit of a design background, so it works out for everyone to have a semi-designer on the marketing team.
9 a.m. — My mom makes mini dumplings after I tell her I'll deal with breakfast on my own. She questions me about feeding myself and seems to think I'm incapable of getting my meals on my own because she won't back down until she's fed me.
11 a.m. — I'm going to M.'s class for a last day of school potluck, and he requests that I bring this strawberry cake he loves. I stop by the store to grab it. $11
11:30 a.m. — I arrive at his classroom with my laptop so I can continue working. I eat tortilla chips and crab and artichoke dip, some of an Oreo donut, and a slice of pizza. M. also saved me a baby banh mi from our favorite banh mi spot. He shows his love through food offerings, and I couldn't feel more loved.
3:30 p.m. — M. helps pick up his four-month-old nephew from daycare on Thursdays, and I ask him to bring the little guy over so I can see him and so my mom can meet him. He's a hit with everyone, even my dog.
4 p.m. — My BFF is getting married next year, and she just asked me to be her maid of honor! She wrote me a letter, and it did me dirty — a.k.a. I cried. She and I are going wedding dress shopping today. The fact that it's my BFF shopping for her wedding dress is insane. I had to hold back tears as I watched her try them on. MY BABY GIRL.
5:30 p.m. — We don't want to go to dinner yet, so we find a happy hour nearby and get drinks and an order of truffle fries to share. My treat. $27.89
6:30 p.m. — I've been craving sushi, and thank goodness BFF feels the same. We go to this sushi spot we've been wanting to try for a long time. We originally wanted omakase, but their chirashi looked too good to pass up. It's amazing and beautifully plated. We also get salmon maki to share. BFF pays and I Venmo her for my half. $28
10:30 p.m. — My dog usually sleeps with my parents, but tonight I love him a little extra, so he's currently curled up in the furriest little ball on my bed.
Daily Total: $66.89

Day Six

8 a.m. — Seven messages from my boss later, I am up for work. I publish a blog post and edit drafts.
9:30 a.m. — BFF made another wedding dress shopping appointment. I pick her up and we head over. We find several that we love — much more productive than yesterday. Again, I bring my laptop with me so I can keep working.
12 p.m. — We go to Trader Joe's in the same plaza. I pick up truffle chicken liver mousse, brie, and TJ's version of Hot Cheetos (good, but not spicy). $10.53
3:45 p.m. — M. and I drive to BART so we can start making our way into the city for the birthday party. Our friends will be driving us back to our car tonight. Parking is free after 4 p.m., so I save $3 and I just use pre-loaded dollars on my Clipper Card to pay.
5:15 p.m. — We get off at the 16th St. Mission stop. It's only a 16-minute walk to Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine, and it's not as cold as I thought it would be, but I am in heels and a short romper, so I'd rather not walk. We opt for a Lyft, and M. pays, since he has 10% off rides for being a 5-star rider.
6:30 p.m. — Oh mylanta, the food is amazing. We get fish cakes as an appetizer, and they are spicy and so good. I get a southern Thai-style fried chicken dish that comes with roti, curry, and black rice, and M. opts for the tiger prawn pad Thai. We also share a Thai iced tea. I am so, so satisfied. I highly recommend this place, if that wasn't already obvious. $80.96
6:45 p.m. — We have time to kill before meeting up at our friends' hotel to pregame, so we walk three minutes to a bar I've been wanting to go to, True Laurel. We are stuffed, but in true foodie fashion, I must try the fried mushrooms they serve that everyone raves about. I do, and they're not really for me. We each get an expensive fancy cocktail and I also try rose du cidre (pass). M. pays.
7 p.m. — I sit down at a table facing the crowd while M. faces the wall, and as I'm adjusting the deep V on my romper, I catch a guy across the room staring right at my chest. He doesn't look away, even after I catch his gaze. He actually smirks a bit. I am repulsed and uncomfortable now, so I switch seats with M. I hate this guy.
7:45 p.m. — We have even more time to kill, so we look for dessert nearby. There's a banana dessert on Tartine Manufactory's Yelp that we want to try, so we go, but of course they don't have it, and we have to awkwardly leave our seats after not having purchased anything. We keep walking around to kill time until our friends finally arrive at their hotel to pregame. M. hails a Lyft.
10:45 p.m. — Three shots of Henny later, we're in line for Love + Propaganda. The music is poppin', and I toss back a couple more (huuuuge) shots and a mixed drink. It's always fun celebrating birthdays. One of my friends gets kicked out, haha.
2 a.m. — I'm hungry. There is one man outside with a dirty dog cart, and I swear, he is heaven-sent. M. buys me a dirty dog, but I eat half and end up giving the rest to a homeless guy who approaches our group. In true gentlemanly fashion, M. buys me another dirty dog. We hop in the car, drop off two friends, and then make our way back to SJ.
3:30 a.m. — We get to my house, and M. brings me to my room and helps me take off my shoes. Then he gives me Advil and water so I don't die. I appreciate him. I try my best to get ready for bed, but all I can manage is taking off my contacts and using a makeup remover wipe. Whatever, better than nothing.
Daily Total: $91.49

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I'm awake and not hungover!! We were supposed to go to another friend's birthday at noon, but he was the one who got kicked out last night, so he's not feelin' so hot. He pushed the event back to 2, so I have time to do…nothing.
11 a.m. — I shower and sit down to do my makeup. I have lash extensions on right now, since I got them done for our trip to NOLA last week, so I can leisurely do my entire makeup routine in about 10 minutes. (I also have microbladed brows.) I throw on a dress, my trusty denim jacket, and sneakers. I always feel extra posh/cool when I pair a dress with sneakers. I don't know why.
12:45 p.m. — Head over to M.'s house and leave my car there. He drives us to his sister's place so he can let her dog out. But then we have to go back to my house because I can't remember if I turned off the iron… Thankfully, I did. We head over to pick up my BFF, and then it's off to San Mateo.
2 p.m. — Our friend lives in a cute apartment behind his landlord's home, and they have the fluffiest Husky. I proceed to pet him many times and take many, many pictures of and with him. He is not amused.
3 p.m. — The rest of our friends start to finally trickle in, so I start eating (more than I already have been). Hot links, chips and guac, cookies, grilled oysters, Japanese curry, guacamole, hamburgers. You name it, I eat it. My dress is pretty loose-fitting, but by the end of my feast, I have a little food baby.
6 p.m. — I'm feeling pretty sleepy. M. was supposed to drive us home, but he just smoked a joint and is feeling even sleepier than I am, so I drive.
7 p.m. — M. and I take my pup on a short walk and then lounge around.
8:30 p.m. — We're still not hungry, but we know we should get something in our stomachs so we're not starving when it's too late. I make pasta with soy sauce, sugar, garlic, mushrooms, turkey bacon (real bacon is 10x better, but I work with what I have), and spinach. We finish Nacho Libre, and then attempt to watch The 40-Year-Old Virgin. M. knocks out almost immediately, which is nothing new, and I start dozing off about half an hour in.
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 theme:
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!
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here:
In addition to our Money Diaries, we're looking for people who want to talk to us about the following topics for other stories on Refinery29:
1. Calling all twins: In honor of National Twin Day, we're looking to showcase Money Diaries of twins. Make sure your twin is on board, and then email us here for a chance to be featured on the site.
2. Ever gotten a weird freebie from your job, like a lifetime supply of gum or a pet goldfish? We're rounding up the weirdest work perks out there. Email us here if you've got one to share.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series