A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $52,000 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: a behavioral health manager working in mental health care who makes $52,000 and spends some of her paycheck this week on a Kiehl's turmeric mask.
Occupation: Behavioral Health Manager
Industry: Mental Healthcare
Age: 24
Location: Seattle
Salary: $52,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,860.40
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $525 for my half of a one-bedroom apartment that I share with my boyfriend. (Utilities are included.)
Health Insurance: $0. (I'm on my parents' insurance plan until I turn 26.)
Car Loan Payments:
$140 to my dad
Hulu, Netflix & Xfinity: $0. (I use the accounts of various friends and family members.) Massage Therapy: $52. (I go to a massage school and this is my monthly cost for an hour-long massage/cupping session with tip. I have chronic neck and back pain and massage is incredibly helpful.)
Chiropractor: $25 copay. (Again, this is necessary for my chronic pain.)
Therapist: $0. (My insurance covers all of my therapy copays!)
Savings: Varies, but I usually try to save between $500-$1,000/month depending on my spending habits.
Retirement: I don't have a 401(k) set up yet (poor planning for the future, I know) but I am hoping to invest about $5,000 in Ellevest in the next few months.

Day One

10 a.m. — Wake up with sun shining brightly in my face (a rarity during Seattle winters), and snuggle with my boyfriend, *B. He hops out of bed to make coffee and brings me a cup in bed, a sweet little gesture he makes every morning that means a lot to me. I drink my coffee and read in bed for a while. I am obsessed with memoirs and mysteries and am currently making my way through all of Lisa Gardner's mysteries. Her plot twists are unparalleled.
11 a.m. — B. makes cinnamon toast with bread that his mom made for us! It is delicious and reminds me of what I ate for breakfast as a child. After finishing up our toast, B. pulls me back into bed for some quality time before we both head to work ;).
2 p.m. — Leave my apartment and go to work, which is only about a 15-minute trip.
3 p.m. — I eat snack with my clients and then peruse the internet. I've been waiting for a sale on glasses through EyeBuyDirect for a few weeks and today all frames are BOGO so I decide to go for it! I buy six pairs of frames knowing that I will probably return at least four. There is a tool for "trying on" the glasses online by uploading a photo of yourself but I never know how the glasses will look until I actually try them on at home. $163.23
6 p.m. — Spend the afternoon hanging out with my clients, playing card games, and watching a Disney movie. Dinner is chicken fingers, seasoned fries, and carrot sticks with my clients! I dunk the carrots in a solid amount of ranch dressing because I loathe carrots. The group of clients we have right now is on the quieter side so my coworker and I spend time telling jokes.
10 p.m. — Say goodbye to the few clients who are still awake and then go to a grocery store near my apartment. I pick up a random assortment of items including a tin of raspberries, cotton pads, ice cream, chips, milk, and turkey bacon. $17.52
12 a.m. — After I get home I light candles (a nightly ritual for me – I am a candle maniac) and do my skincare routine. I read in bed for a while and wait for B. to come home from work. When he gets home we talk about our respective days, snuggle in bed, and eventually pass out.
Daily Total: $180.75

Day Two

10 a.m. — Wake up and snuggle in bed with B. for a while, the most peaceful part of my day. I usually don't set an alarm unless I have to be at work early for a meeting, which makes my slow-moving mornings that much nicer. B. makes coffee and brings me a cup in bed while I read and mess around on my phone. B. eventually joins me back in bed and we enjoy sexy time before cleaning our apartment. This is a Sunday morning ritual for us: I clean the kitchen, living room, and bedroom and B. takes on the bathroom and the vacuuming.
1 p.m. — Give B. a big kiss goodbye and go to work. Once I get there, I pick out an apple with almond butter and chat with newly admitted clients.
3 p.m. — It is an incredibly quiet day at work so I decide to do a little bit of online shopping. I see that there are super cheap tickets for a musical I love (The Last Five Years) so I buy two ($25) and text a friend to see if he wants to come. Thankfully, he is down and free on the night I booked the tickets! I want to do something fun and special for Valentine's Day with B. because I am mushy like that but also because it is going to be our last Valentine's Day in Seattle. (We are moving in the next few months.) I find a cool event at a distillery where you get a tasting of their liquors and then get to make your own hot chocolate with the alcohol you like the best. I buy two tickets and plan on surprising B. with them tonight! ($43.66) $68.66
5:30 p.m. — Tonight, my coworker is covering dinner with the clients so I eat with another coworker in our break room. Dinner is mac and cheese with lots of hot sauce! I snag fresh veggies from the fridge to munch on as well. Once perk of working at the facility I do is that we always get meals/snacks during the workday, which definitely saves me money on food costs. (Although I love to eat out so it's probably not saving me THAT much money.) I notice that two of my Poshmark bids went through. I am the proud owner of a new sundress, earrings, and a cuff with my favorite stone, ocean jasper. $30.98
8:30 p.m. — Eat the last snack of the day with the clients; this time I choose a Choco Taco and munch on it while playing trivia at my table. These clients know so many random animal facts, it is amazing! I learn that octopi have three hearts and that a group of parrots is called a pandemonium. After snack I head home and B. is already there since he had the day off. We snuggle on the couch, I pour myself a glass of rosé, and we watch the new Blue Planet 2. We are obsessed with the Planet Earth series and spend the next hour geeking out over how cute puffins are.
11 p.m. — Early to bed for B. and me. I do a quick face mask with Farmacy's Honey Potion (my saving grace for moisturizing – it always makes my skin glow). Then I finish up with the rest of my skincare routine: Acure's glowing serum, retinol from The Ordinary, and Origins Night-A-Mins moisturizer.
Daily Total: $99.64

Day Three

9 a.m. — Up and at 'em for an early day. I complete my skincare routine (The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, REN Radiance Perfection Serum, One Love Organics Morning Glory Caffeinated Firming Serum, and then I mix up Kiehl's Hydro-Plumping Re-Texturizing Serum Concentrate with Caudalie Vinoperfect Radiance Serum as well as Origins Matte Moisturizer) and brush my teeth. Then, I throw on mascara and a bright red lipstick and I am good to go. Give B. a big kiss goodbye and drive to work.
10 a.m. — Answer urgent emails when I get to work and then have morning snack with the clients. Today is a banana, a spoonful of Nutella, and coffee to get the day started.
12 p.m. — Work, work, work, work, work, work. I feel like this day will never end. I was promoted to a management role a few months ago and it has been extremely busy managing my team and the clients at the same time. I snag leftover tomato soup and salad from the break room and eat at my desk (sad, I know). The tomato soup is amazing and I thank the chef who makes all the food for the clients and staff; she is a fantastic cook!
3 p.m. — I grab a brownie for snack with the clients and eat that with a glass of milk and water. It has been a tough day for the clients so I try to keep conversation light and playful. After snack, I interview a potential new hire and decide that she would be a great fit for our team. I have a couple of meetings with various coworkers that fill up my afternoon and make it pass quickly.
6 p.m. — I jet out of work and head over to U-Village, a beautiful outdoor mall in between my work and apartment. I have my eye on a turmeric mask from Kiehl's and since they have a deal where you get extra goodies if you spend over $85, I end up buying a microdermabrasion re-texturizing scrub as well. I got a sample of this scrub a few weeks ago and haven't stopped thinking about it. I will definitely be using both the mask and scrub for a little at-home facial tonight. I poke through Anthropologie and the Gap as well but don't find anything that's calling my name. I leave the mall and drop off books at the library, picking up two new books that I had on hold – Find Her (another Lisa Gardner mystery) and Marcus Samuelsson's memoir, Yes, Chef. $88.06
8:25 p.m. — I order pad Thai with extra chicken and spring rolls, and get it delivered to my apartment. With my $10-off coupon it's a pretty good deal for the amount of food that I get. I give myself a facial with my new products from Kiehl's and watch Law & Order: SVU while eating my dinner. I fill the bathtub and pour myself a glass of rosé while soaking in the tub with a Lush bath bomb. The water gets cold after only 20 minutes so I hop out and moisturize head to toe. $15.34
11 p.m. — I take a Lyft Line down to the restaurant where B. works to meet him for a drink once he gets off work. $3.63
12:30 a.m. — B. and I catch up on our busy days while sitting at the bar; he orders a beer and I get a glass of rosé. We enjoy relaxing and chatting with some of his coworkers until I realize that I can't stop yawning, which means it's time to leave. The staff at B.'s restaurant loves him and they have gotten to know me pretty well, so our drinks are free! I tip the bartender $5 as a thank you. B and I enjoy the walk home from the restaurant to our apartment, which is made especially pleasant by the fact that it is not raining. $5
Daily Total: $112.03

Day Four

10:30 a.m. — Wake up and snuggle with B. before getting ready. I quickly throw on comfortable clothes, do a quick skincare routine, and brush my teeth. Give B. a kiss goodbye and leave for a doctor's appointment. I have been having abnormally high inflammation on my blood tests and my doctor has been running consistent tests to try and get to the root of the issue. I get my blood drawn and only wince a little. (I am pretty terrified of needles.) No copay because my parents' insurance is amazing.
11:20 p.m. — I notice that my gas tank is low so I fill up on my way home. I get 10 cents off per gallon due to Safeway reward points. After filling up, I drive home and watch the newest episode of The Bachelor while lying in bed. B. has the day off too and is watching a soccer game in the living room. I eat leftover pad Thai while I try to keep my mind off the inflammation thing; t scares me a little to know something may be wrong but not know exactly what it is. B. interrupts my pity party by providing some very welcome sexy time. $26.81
2 p.m. — B. and I shower and get ready to go see a movie! We walk from our apartment toward downtown, stopping at a 7-Eleven to buy candy before the show – strawberry sour straws for me ($1.39) and B. buys his own gummy candy. We enjoy the walk to the theater and purchase tickets for Den of Thieves ($5). $6.39
6 p.m. — The movie was alright; the way women were portrayed in the movie made me really mad and the general violence was not for me. I guessed the twist very early on in the movie but B. was blissfully unaware and surprised at the end. We decide to go grab food before trivia tonight and check out a couple places before settling on Rachel's Ginger Beer. B. pays for our chicken sandwiches and we dig in. I get an Asian-inspired sandwich while B. gets one with spicy sauce and jalapeños.
7:10 p.m. — We swing by one of my favorite coffee spots, where I get a caramel latte and split a pear and almond tarte with B. The coffee is delicious and we both finish the tarte in a matter of minutes. After people-watching through the window, we head over to the bar where they are hosting trivia. $12.36
8 p.m. — B. and I manage to get seats by the bar and we are pumped for trivia. We decide on a team name and B. buys us both beers. I give him $3 to cover mine; he gets a Tecate and picks a Bohemia for me. $3
10 p.m. — Whomp, whomp — history repeats itself and we score in the middle of the pack. We felt confident about a lot of our answers, but only got about 70% right. We cut our losses and start walking home. About halfway there, I get a hankering for chips (Cheddar and Sour Cream Lays are my weakness). Before I ask my boyfriend if we can stop at the store, he says he is also really craving chips. I give him a big kiss and tell him I was thinking the exact same thing! We each buy a bag of chips and walk the rest of the way home. $3.29
11 p.m. — We arrive at our apartment and break into the chips while watching more Blue Planet 2. This episode is all about the deep ocean and while I find it fascinating, it also creeps me out a little. We jump in bed after finishing the episode and fall asleep spooning.
Daily Total: $51.85

Day Five

10 a.m. — Spend a lazy, sexy morning in bed with B., and after an hour or so we finally roll out of bed for coffee and breakfast. B. makes coffee, eggs, bacon, and more toast from the bread his mom made for us. We chat over breakfast and then B. heads to work – I have the day all to myself! I hop back into bed with delicious lavender Earl Grey tea and read for a while.
12 p.m. — Make another cup of tea and spend time writing in my journal while watching America's Next Top Model and doing a few face masks. I choose a brightening pumpkin face mask by Andalou Naturals, followed by a clay mud mask by Kiehl's, and then finish with the turmeric mask I bought a few days ago. My skin is glowing after this pampering.
2:30 p.m. — I get a call from a market researcher and video chat with her for about half an hour. I sign up for market research and focus groups as a side hustle and I bring in a couple hundred dollars a month just by doing this for an hour or so per week. I use the gift cards and money I get from these studies to pay for skincare, clothes, and travel. This research interview pays $85 in the form of an Amazon gift card, so I peruse Amazon after finishing the call, but I don't see anything I really need at the moment.
3 p.m. — B. loves movies and we have been wanting to come up with a way to watch movies since we take forever to agree on one that will fit both of our tastes. I pick out a scratch-off movie poster online that has 100 of the top critically-acclaimed movies, which will be an amazing gift for B. for Valentine's Day. I order it and pay for express shipping so it will be here in time. I have plans to meet a friend for happy hour, so I quickly get ready and run out the door. $22.95
4 p.m. — I drive over to a small Mexican restaurant for happy hour and order a winter sangria while I wait for my friend to arrive. I take one sip of the sangria and feel it almost immediately, so I decide to order chips, salsa, and a few tacos to soak up the alcohol before I keep drinking. My friend arrives and we have such a wonderful time catching up. He has a few margaritas and orders tacos for himself as well. In college, we used to go swing dancing almost every week. Neither of us has danced in a while, so we decide to go dancing together soon. $36.56
6:30 p.m. — I arrive home feeling incredibly tired even though I did almost nothing today! I am supposed to meet another friend for a late night walk but text him and let him know that I probably am not going to make it tonight, and we take a rain check for later in the week. I crawl into bed and read my book for a few hours, then end up falling asleep for a surprise nap.
11 p.m. — Wake up with a start to my birth control alarm going off on my phone! I had no idea that I slept for so long but I feel a lot better. I take my pill and then clean up my apartment a little, doing dishes and tidying up the bathroom. I read more and B. comes home around midnight. We chat about our days, get ready for bed, and then fall asleep almost immediately.
Daily Total: $59.51

Day Six

9 a.m. — Wake up to my alarm and quickly get ready for work. On Thursdays, I have a ton of meetings starting at 10 a.m.
10 a.m. — Arrive at work and drink more lavender Earl Grey tea and sit in on my first two-hour meeting. We talk about each client's progress, and how they are doing so far in treatment and with each medical provider. After the meeting, I interview a candidate for my team and it goes very well. I email back and forth with HR about the position during the early afternoon.
1:30 p.m. — Snag leftover lasagna and a roll from the staff kitchen and then eat at my desk while checking my emails. I get an email that I have been waiting for a long time: acceptance into a graduate program for my master's in counseling! I tear up a little and text my family members and boyfriend. I whip out my card and pay the $500 deposit to secure my spot for the fall, which will eventually go toward tuition for the fall semester. I have been working toward this for several years and finally feel ready to go back to school, knowing that my heart and passion is in the mental health field. $500
4 p.m. — Drink coffee and eat animal crackers at my desk while working on training and onboarding materials as well as scheduling my team for the upcoming month.
6:30 p.m. — Leave work to meet a friend at a free DIY Valentine card-making event at a local coffee shop. I am apparently on an Earl Grey tea kick and I don't feel like drinking alcohol so I sip on that while catching up with my friend. We each make several cute cards with the provided materials. $3.50
8:30 p.m. — I drive home and end up ordering delivery from my favorite Indian restaurant. The chicken tikka masala arrives at my door in less than 30 minutes and I am one happy gal. I celebrate by myself and plan to go out with B. this weekend to officially celebrate my acceptance to school! I watch Law & Order: SVU and the latest episode of Project Runway All-Stars (I love Fabio!) while munching on my dinner. $18.26
10 p.m. — I paint my nails and then read my book while waiting for B. to come home. He finally arrives around midnight and gives me a huge hug, telling me he is so proud of me for my grad school acceptance. We spend time talking and laughing, then go to bed around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $521.76

Day Seven

10 a.m. — Wake up and have a nice romp in bed with B. I don't have to work until noon today so we get time to lay around and cuddle. B. makes coffee and brings some to me in bed. I drink while reading and then get ready before I leave.
12 p.m. — My boss isn't at work today and I have a meeting-free schedule, so I have time to work on various projects and get materials together for the onboarding of a new employee. I grab leftover spaghetti and meatballs from the client lunch. Eat at my desk and chat with my coworkers while eating cake that one of them brought from an amazing bakery. Work through the afternoon, have dinner and snack with the clients, and handle some minor disasters along the way. One thing I love about my job is that I never know what is going to happen when I walk through the door in the morning.
8 p.m. — Head home to quickly put on makeup and change my clothes before going to karaoke with friends! A friend picks me up and drives me to the karaoke bar, something I really appreciate since I don't have to spend money on a Lyft. We get a room and the four of us belt out everything from "Party In The U.S.A." to "Humble" to "The Circle Of Life" over the next two hours. I drink two glasses of house rosé and get nice and warmed up – ready to belt out all the high notes. After the two hours are up, we each pick up our own tabs for drinks and two hours of singing. $27.46
11:30 p.m. — After leaving the karaoke bar, we head over to the restaurant/bar where B. works and each order a glass of rosé. B. brings us complimentary food and we play "What Do You Meme," a hilarious game that I bought him for Christmas. When B. gets off work, he joins us at the table and hilarious chaos ensues as we scream over the already loud music and voices in the bar. B. kindly picks up the tab for our drinks since he gets a discount – what a gentleman!
12:45 a.m. — After we are all tired from several glasses of wine, we go our separate ways. B and I walk home and fall asleep almost immediately. Wine drunk is truly the best drunk.
Daily Total: $27.46
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
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