A Week In Santa Barbara, CA, On A $129,000 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 architect who makes $129,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money at Lululemon.
Occupation: Architect
Industry: Architecture & Design
Age: 26
Location: Santa Barbara, CA
Salary: $129,000, for the past two years. The prior 2.5 years, I was making about $50,000 less, but one of our head architects left the firm and I was offered his position. I have worked really hard to become good at my job, and even with that I was very surprised they offered me the job. It's uncommon to get this opportunity this early in this field; I’m so lucky and pleased that I did.
Paycheck (2x/month): $4,100
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $500 lease payment for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom pool house on a family friend's property, all utilities included. (That's nowhere near the norm for this area. My friend heard that I couldn’t find an apartment that allowed large dogs, and offered me their unused pool house for a steal, in exchange for architectural services and babysitting their kids when needed. I renovated the house during the time I’ve lived in it, and I have LOVED the process.)
Loan Payments: None. All my schooling was covered by scholarship. I also got all my general studies done through the local community college while I was still in high school. It was hard, but totally worth it. I was able to graduate from college with a master's, a completed internship, and an architecture license in four years instead of seven. It pays to work hard in high school!
Car Insurance: $91 — should be noted that my parents bought me a car as a college graduation present. I am insanely grateful. They used a portion of my college fund, which was started when I was born, and which they and I contributed to over the years. The rest of the college fund became their vacation fund, which they deserve.
Internet: $40
Amazon Prime: $99/yearly
Phone Bill: $0 — covered by company
Credit Card Payments: Differs month to month. I paid off my college credit card debt about nine months ago. After I landed my job (which was three months out of school), I stopped using my credit card except for hotels, clothes, and flights to get points and miles. I pay it off in full every month, so it just depends on how much I use it. Past month was only $70.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Membership: Free general (my company designed the gym), but I pay $50/month for unlimited classes.
Netflix: $12. My whole family uses my log-in.
Spotify: $8
Car Cleaning Product Delivery: $50 for professional car detailing products every three months. It's a hobby; it's therapeutic, and also a little weird, but my car looks damn good.
Personal Savings: $1,000 into personal savings. I pay nothing for my current housing or car. I could contribute more, but I like shoes and travel.
Joint Savings: $500 in joint savings with my boyfriend. He contributes around $200 right now as he is paying off med school loans. Marriage is a sure thing for us, and once married, we have decided that we will combine all our finances. Until then, I started a savings account that he cosigned on, most likely to be used to buy property to build a house on.
FaceTory Subscription: $25

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up. Feed my dog-child. Eat a protein bar on the patio while checking emails. If I woke up earlier, I would have time to make breakfast, but sleep is so good. Get ready, which entails a quick shower, skincare routine, and mascara. (In the mornings, I cleanse, tone, moisturize, apply eye cream. I love trying new products and am always changing it up. I always go back to Korres for my cleanser and moisturizer though. I haven’t found anything better. My favorite mascara is Two Faced Better than Sex.) Then I head out the door. I’ve trained my hair to air dry exactly how I want it to over the years. It is insanely curly, so I just throw some product on it and let it do its thing; no point in fighting it.
8:15 a.m. — Have to stop to get gas on the way to the office (I fill up the tank) so I’m a tad late. Stop into the kitchen to get a glass of cold brew with almond milk and a dog treat before the weekly progress morning meeting. Our office is stalked with various types of coffee and water so I never buy either. I drink approximately a million LaCroix and at least three liters of water from my hydroflask every day. My boss and I are obsessed with my dog, so I get to bring him to work. I cannot express how much I love my job for this, and a thousand other reasons. $58
8:30 a.m. — Put in my headphones, turn on my podcast, and get to work; same routine every single day. I listen to the same few regularly, but my most recent favorite is True Crime Garage — it's so interesting and in-depth. We have an in-office chat on our computers, so if anyone needs to talk to anyone else, they message you first — hence why I can wear headphones without being rude.
12:25 p.m. — Long morning of calls and drawing. We are an exclusively commercial firm (no houses or residential projects of any kind), and we are each responsible for entire projects. It is a smaller firm so we don’t really have the manpower to do collaborative projects in terms of actual production. That means I do everything from initial concept to full construction sets of plans, all needed documents, and then the construction management until the project is closed out. We do help red-line (correct) each other’s plans, and all designs are signed off on by the owner of the firm. We also have a few draftsmen that help on most projects on a case-by-case basis. In most firms, the architect will do the design and oversee the project and the meat of the drawing, and production is done by draftsmen. I much prefer total control of the project. It makes for a longer turnover time for clients, but I love that I get to do both the creative and technical sides of the industry.
12:45 p.m. — A coworker and I head to lunch to decompress. Street tacos from our favorite local place and a side of chicken for dog-child. His turn to pay.
3:30 p.m. — Site meeting with new contractor on a project about to break ground. I pick up a box of donuts (a.k.a., please-don’t-be-a-dick-to-me snacks) on the way there. I have found that most contractors don’t take to well to a woman being the one in charge of them, especially a 26-year-old one. I completely understand, and that mentality doesn’t bother me in the least. This has been a male-dominated industry for a very long time and I love that I have the opportunity to be a part of it and help it grow — but for now, donuts tend to help ease them into realizing that I’m actually decent at my job. $20 (Not expensed because this is my thing, not a company requirement.)
6 p.m. — Site meeting done. Contractor was fantastic, subcontractors not so much. I can see some serious problems down the line. Hopefully their teams are better than they are. Head back to the office to pick up my stuff and head home.
7 p.m. — Get back home and start on dinner. Cooking is one of my favorite ways to relax. Tonight, it's fish tacos with whatever veggies I find left in my fridge, mostly just carrots and cucumber. My boyfriend Skypes while I’m cooking. He is currently living in Washington doing his residency at a hospital. We Skype once or twice a week when he gets chance. Residency is no joke, but he’s only got three months left before he gets to move back here, where he has already accepted a job offer. My dog always eats his dog food at the same time as I do; he doesn’t like eating alone. He’s more human than dog. Also, I call him dog-child because that exactly what he is. He is two-years-old and the love of my life. I’m a fully admitted crazy dog lady and I love it.
10:30 p.m. — Go for a long walk with the dog-child around the property after dinner. He chased squirrels and I enjoyed the quiet. Skin care routine (nightly: double cleanse face, exfoliate every other day, toner, serum, corrector, moisturizer, eye cream and spot treatment if needed) and pass out as soon as we got home.
Daily total: $78

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — Same morning routine as yesterday, but I’m out of protein bars and I’m starving. Quick stop for a green smoothie ($8) filled with all sorts of healthy stuff. Also stop at my favorite fruit stand and get strawberries ($4) since, let's be honest, green smoothies aren’t exactly filling. $12
8 a.m. — Make it to the office on time this morning. Cold brew and almond milk again.
9 a.m. — Spend a quick hour prepping for a design meeting with a new client, and ordering bagels ($35, expensed). Jobs are dispersed by the boss as they come in. The larger ones go to head architects, and the smaller go to what we call project architects. Our boss does a great job at keeping it very even and giving us clients that we will work well with. One of my coworkers has been working exclusively with one large scale client on multiple projects for almost four years.
11:30 a.m. — Design meeting went as well as could be hoped for with a new client. Our design styles don’t match quite as well as I’d hoped, but I think we will be able to make it work.
12 p.m. — Lunch time. Our new summer intern just started and I haven’t gotten the chance to get to know him at all. A coworker and I take him out to lunch. We walk over to the sandwich place a few blocks away. I have the veggie sandwich with spinach, tomato, roasted peppers, onion, avocado, pickles, and sriracha aioli on toasted wheat. The intern seems like a good kid, and he and my dog are already friends. My treat today. $46
6:30 p.m. — Long afternoon of cranking away on construction documents. Head out of the office and to the grocery store. I make it quick so that dog-child can wait in the car. Trader Joe's has a lot of good shady parking spots, so I head there. I get broccoli, bananas, peppers, quinoa, protein bars (Gomacro are the best), Ezekiel bread, feta cheese, and vegan butter. In and out in 10 minutes. That will hold me over until I go to the farmers' market on Saturday. As far as diet goes, I eat mostly-healthy. I don’t follow any labeled lifestyle, but I tend to stay away from most dairy and sugar. I don’t eat much processed or packaged food, mostly because I love cooking. The one rule I very rarely break is no drinking during the work week. I can’t afford to be tired and foggy at work. $41
7:15 p.m. — Drop groceries and dog off at home and head to the gym. TRX class tonight taught by my landlord. I thought my hydroflask was full, but I guess I drank it all. I won’t make it through her class without water, so I grab a bottle from the “protein bar” in the gym. $4
9 p.m. — Get home and start dinner. Keeping it simple tonight with just some sautéed veggies and quinoa covered in sriracha.
11 p.m. — Head to bed after letting dog-child swim for a little while. He loves swimming but isn’t very good, so I have to watch him. He’s so large (140 pounds) that he pretty much sinks if he stops paddling. I tried to get him a life vest, but he hated it. I also put on a couple of masks while watching him swim, an Aztec clay mask and a Dr. Jart sheet mask while half-watching Master of None.
Daily Total: $103

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Same morning routine, with a protein bar today. I hate mornings, so I really don’t do much other than the bare minimum.
8 a.m. — Head into work and get started on plan, and check comments for a project that I’m hoping will break ground in the next three months. Cold brew with almond milk as always.
1:45 p.m. — No meetings this morning, so I get completely lost in work. Dog is hungry and won't let me keep working without feeding him. We run down the street to a little family Greek place. I get a combo plate with moussaka, spanakopita, Greek salad, and humus with pita; he gets chicken. We are both very happy. Yes, I eat lunch out every day. I hate both mornings and meal prepping, and I love being able to take a break outside the office. It’s expensive, but I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. I justify it by only eating at local places and telling myself I’m supporting the local economy and small businesses. $18
6 p.m. — Leave the office and because of the late lunch, I’m not dying to get home and eat dinner. We head to the beach for a little while, and my boyfriend’s brother meets us there with his dog.
8:30 p.m. — After a long beach walk, we get home and I make toast with almond butter and bananas.
9 p.m. — Zone out on the couch watching Netflix. Sitting in front of the computer all day really drains me, so I head to bed early tonight. Skin care routine first, then sleep.
Daily Total: $18

Day Four

6:45 a.m. — Same morning as always, except today is Friday, so I decide to grab a green smoothie on the way to the office. Really exciting celebration, I know. $7
8 a.m. — Get into work and the monthly coffee delivery shows up. My boss is a huge coffee nerd and this is his favorite day of the month.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch time after working on plans all morning. (I really didn’t realize how often I ate tacos until I started writing this.) Tacos for me and chicken for dog-child again, but from a different restaurant. $13
4 p.m. — Since it's Friday, we all leave work early. I head home and change and go to the gym, hopefully for spin if they have any openings.
5:30 p.m. — No openings for class, so I do some HIIT exercises and throw in abs for good measure. Grab a water on my way out. $4
5:45 p.m. — Quick stop for gas. $45
6 p.m. — Pick up dog from my house and go to my parents' for dinner. My dad calls and asks if can pick up soy sauce on the way. After I get there, he finishes his grilled, glazed salmon and vegetables. I definitely got my love of cooking from him. $6
7 p.m. — My mom wants to go shopping, and I never turn down a good shopping trip. We go to Nordstrom and head for the shoe department, my weakness. I end up getting a new pair of fantastic wedges that are on sale for a crazy price. Then we head over to Lululemon: weakness number two. If I’m not at the office, I’m wearing leggings from there. I pick up a new pair of leggings and a couple of headbands. $273
10:30 p.m. — Get home and Skype with the BF. Dog-child stayed with my dad while I went shopping, so he is worn out from playing. Fall asleep a couple of hours later and thank my lucky stars I don’t have to wake up early tomorrow.
Daily Total: $348

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — This is what I consider sleeping in now and that’s a little sad, but it also means I get the best pick of food at the farmers' market. Dog-child and I head down and buy all the food: mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, snap peas, peaches, carrots, sweet onions, avocados, corn, jalapeños, nectarines, eggs, almond butter, cherries, tortillas, shrimp, and a delicious breakfast sandwich with egg, caramelized onions and peppers, and spicy sauce on an English muffin. I love the farmers' market because you know it's local, and you also can control exactly how much you are getting. There are no fresher options either; almost everything was either picked within the last three days, caught this morning, or made this week. It makes it so easy to eat healthy when healthy food tastes this good. $60
11:30 a.m. — While putting away my groceries, there is a knock at my door. That never happens and it’s a little weird. I go over and hesitantly answer it. It’s my boyfriend! He got his schedule for the week a couple of days ago and he had three days in a row off, which is unheard of for him, so he decided to grab a plane ticket and come surprise me! We haven’t seen each other in almost three months and this is about the best surprise I could have imagined!
3:30 p.m. — We spend a few hours just hanging out, swimming, snacking on some of my groceries, and playing with the dog (who is more excited to see my boyfriend than I even was). We get ready and head to his parents' for before going to dinner. We stop and pick up some flowers on the way for his mom because why not. $12
4 p.m. — Get to his parents’ house and my family is there, too! Apparently, he told everyone but me he was coming. Nice. Our families have been friends for as long as anyone can remember — long before we started dating — so it’s always fun to hang out together.
5:30 p.m. — Everyone heads to dinner at one of our favorite local places. Our dads split the check. They are the best.
10:30 p.m. — My boyfriend, and three of our six-combined siblings, my best friend, and I all head to the bar for a little bit. Just one round; my drink is Jack and ginger. $65
11:30 p.m. — Street vendor churros! $4
Daily Total: $141

Day Six

8 a.m. — This is the latest either of us could manage to sleep in. Dog spent the night at boyfriend’s parents’ house with their dog, so we take that as an opportunity and go out to breakfast. Omelets, home fries, and fruit. He pays.
9:30 a.m. — We walk around downtown for a little while through a couple vintage stores. I am working on the master bath right now, which is my last room to finish renovating. I find the most amazing patterned black and white tile for the shower, but they only have one box. It's crazy cheap, and I buy it in hopes that my tile guy can replicate it. $35
12:30 p.m. — Pick up dog child and head to the beach where we end up spending the rest of the day. I live so close to the beach that I always have a couple of towels and a swimsuit in my car. I never really plan beach days but always seem to end up there. Buy a fruit bowl and waters from a stand in the parking lot. BF pays.
7:45 p.m. — Get home and make dinner: a huge salad with a variety of veggies from the farmers' market and balsamic dressing I make weekly. (It's best dressing ever: two-thirds of a cup of olive oil, one-third of a cup of balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, salt and pepper, whisked until emulsified). Grilled corn and peaches with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the side. So good! I really love cooking with him. We’ve been dating for four years and have been waiting until we live in the same city again to get engaged. Both of us are super ready and excited to do the whole marriage thing (and kids someday); we just don’t want to be living in different states when we start that part of our lives.
11 p.m. — Fall asleep while watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (my favorite) on Netflix.
Daily Total: $35

Day Seven

6:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I texted my boss and asked if I could take the morning off today. He said absolutely, and that I could have the entire day if I wanted. Boyfriend flies back to Washington at 1, so I can head into work after that. We lay around for a while, dreading the impending drive to the airport.
9:30 a.m. — Drag ourselves out of bed and go to the smoothie place. We each get a smoothie and a “dog-çai” bowl for dog-child (peanut butter and oats and a dog cookie). Long beach walk while we drink our smoothies. $21
11:45 a.m. — Drop off boyfriend at the airport. It sucks, bad. I’m not a crier or even very emotional in general, so that’s a big plus in these situations, but it obviously still sucks. Hopefully, I will make it up to Washington soon and only three months before he is back here for good. $10 (for parking)
2 p.m. — I was going to go to work, but I’m too lazy. I answer most of my emails from the porch and then clean my house. I’m a bit intense when it comes to my home, and I normally deep clean my place every Saturday morning after the farmers' market, but that didn’t happen, so I do it now! It feels really good to have a clean space to start the week. I also throw in a few loads of laundry, give the dog a bath, and clean the pool. I’m trying out this whole audiobook thing, so I listen to a new one while I clean. Not really liking it. The book seems good but being read to feels a bit like elementary school. I have credits, so the book is free.
8 p.m. — My best friend comes over and I make us dinner. We normally hang out and catch up on our weeks on the weekend, but I was a bit preoccupied this weekend. She’s a teacher and we pretty much gave up on weeknight hangouts because of pure exhaustion. Balsamic glazed vegetables because I LOVE balsamic vinegar. (Given the choice between that and any sweet, I will literally drink the vinegar.) I also make grilled shrimp. We eat while watching The Bachelor and both fall asleep on the couch. Eventually, we wake up and drag ourselves to bed. My guest room is pretty much her bedroom. I even put her own set of toiletries in the bathroom for her.
Daily Total: $31
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