A Week In Seattle, WA, On $17 Per Hour

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 customer service representative working in tech who makes $17 per hour and spends some of her money this week on Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Fudge Core ice cream.
Occupation: Customer Service Representative
Industry: Tech
Age: 23
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $17/hour
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$870, depending on how many hours I work. I'm only working part-time right now, but in a month I'll be full-time.
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $837.50 for my own room in a three-bedroom house.
Student Loans: $0 (I was lucky to have my parents and scholarships cover my school costs, and I don't own a car or have credit card debt.)
Wi-Fi: $25.35
Gas Bill: ~$10-$30
Water & Electric: ~$40
Spotify: $4.99 Spotify Premium +Hulu with that fresh student discount. This is my last month with the discount — next month I'll pay full price for Spotify and lose my Hulu subscription. :(
Netflix & Phone Bill: $0 (Shout-out to the parentals.)
Healthcare: On my parents' plan until I'm 26. My work provides healthcare coverage, but my older sister, who has a much more established career, is still on their plan, which I figure means I can do it, too.
Pilates & Yoga Studio: $74 (My membership is $109/month, but work covers up to $35.)
Orca Transit Card: ~$40 (My work loads on $75 each month, which is wonderful.)
Savings: At least $100, plus anything from my paychecks that I don't spend.
401(k): I'm not eligible yet (I haven't been employed for 90 days), but once I am, I plan to contribute enough to receive the company match.

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up to the sun aggressively streaming through my windows, promising some nice and toasty weather for the day. Exactly a week ago it was over 80 degrees here, but all week it's been rainy and in the 60s. I never really know what to expect. After lounging in bed and being on my phone for too long, I make my way downstairs for some food and to be productive.
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9 a.m. — I waited too late to get up, and now I'm hungry and don't want to wait for anything to cook, so I eat two cookies I made last night while mixing up a huge smoothie made of bananas, chia seeds, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries with some coconut shreds on top.
10:30 a.m. — I walk to grab some coffee from Starbucks (using money I have from a gift card). My friend C. and I are making plans for the weekend, and she asks if I want to take a wine-and-paint class with her tomorrow evening. I think it sounds fun! I have negative artistic ability but have never taken one of these classes, so I'm excited. I book online right away to ensure a spot in the class ($39). I then catch the bus to Value Village. $39
1:30 p.m. — After convincing myself to not buy things I don't need (looking at you, mediocre T-shirts that are also only $2), I only end up with a cute little storage basket, new pajama shorts, a floral handkerchief, and a set of four wooden bowls for $9.83. I have some time before the bus comes, so I run into Safeway and buy tampons that I desperately need (ugh), some coffee grounds, and a bag of sugar, since I almost ran out of it making the cookies ($18.68). $28.51
2:30 p.m. — I'm super hungry and in need of solid food, and when I get home I get a sugar rush from looking at the pile of cookies still there. I text my roommates to let them know that they're up for grabs, and I eat leftovers from yesterday: homemade refried beans, corn, cheese, and some chips for scooping.
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3 p.m. — My old coworker Snaps me to say he's working super close to my house. I bring him and my other old coworker some cookies and stay to chat a little. Then I go lounge at the lake while it's still nice out. While there, I dog-watch and write postcards to my friends whom I studied abroad with in college. We're trying to plan a get-together. I haven't seen most of them in over two years, so I'm excited at the prospect of seeing them in person again!
7 p.m. — Once I get home, I watch the newest episode of The Bold Type and eat some dolma, then some homemade chocolate granola with fresh strawberries. I'm not really hungry anymore, but I'm also not satisfied. While I'm browsing for a new show to put on, my grandma calls and says she's in town and wants to get dinner tomorrow. I'm excited to catch up and get all the hot goss on the family, and now I don't have to worry about dinner tomorrow night either.
9:30 p.m. — I order a pulled-pork sandwich with tater tots and hush puppies and then watch the documentary about The Price Is Right contestant who memorized all the prizes. I have a few bites of each before I feel disgustingly full and bloated. I put the other 80% in the fridge knowing I'll likely eat it Monday for lunch or dinner. $20.09
10:30 p.m. — The documentary ends, so I turn on some Ben Howard, shower, do my nighttime skin-care routine — Cetaphil face wash, Cocokind raspberry vinegar toner, Cetaphil moisturizer, and Neutrogena under-eye cream — and start the dishwasher. I mentally plan my day for tomorrow and am asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $87.60

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — Oy, I didn't sleep well last night. I try to fall back asleep. When I can't, I go to the bathroom, clean my newish ear piercing, and lie in bed browsing some YouTube videos. I fall back asleep around 6:15.
8:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I feel 12 times more tired than when I woke up at 5:30. I fall back asleep until my friend N. texts me 10 minutes later. I just want to lie in bed and get up slowly, but I need to make a decent breakfast if I want to catch the bus at 9:30 to meet her at 10. After whipping up some scrambled eggs with cheese, spinach, and Everything but the Bagel seasoning (one of the best seasonings ever made — thanks, Trader Joe's), I go back to my room to get ready. My friend asks if I can just meet her at her new place around 10:30, which is totally fine by me. I add some ice cubes to my leftover iced coffee from Starbucks and go upstairs to get ready at a leisurely pace.
11 a.m. — I walk to N.'s house to see her new place and meet up before the market, and boy is it deceivingly hot out. I am sweating after the 30-minute walk to her place and hope the cookies I'm bringing aren't falling apart. After a cool-down and a tour, we decide to walk another 30 minutes to the farmer's market. Wowza, I am grosser than I'd like to be.
1 p.m. — After meandering and shopping around, I end up with some apples. (One for free! Thank you, Mr. Apple Man!) I also get strawberry-rhubarb jam, a bag of frozen raspberries, and homemade bread ($21). As we're walking, I see a lavender booth, and there are LAVENDER EYE PILLOWS. I try one on along with the matching lavender neck pillow and feel infinitely more relaxed. The owner of the booth takes a photo of me and puts in on her Insta Story, so to prep for my newfound #instafame, I buy an eye pillow. Hopefully, it will help me sleep better ($16). $37
2:30 p.m. — I'm getting pretty hungry for some lunch, and N. spots the Tandoozy booth where her other friend works, which means free vegan naan! It smells so good, and I cannot wait to dig in. Her boyfriend comes to pick us up and agrees to stop by PCC before dropping me off at home. While there, I get more Cocokind raspberry vinegar toner and a big tub of Chobani Greek vanilla yogurt. The past year I've been trying to reduce my waste and lessen my impact on the planet, which means eating more plant-based — I never cook meat, but sometimes cravings hit and I'll order it (pulled-pork sandwich) — and shopping from ethical and sustainable brands like Cocokind and Chobani. $21.87
3 p.m. — I finally make it home and scarf down my naan, which came with lentils, mango chutney, basmati rice, and red sauce that is all so delicious and filling. I hop into the shower to quickly rinse off in an effort to be less icky for painting and dinner.
4 p.m. — I get to the wine-and-canvas class, where my friend has saved me a seat and gotten my paint for me. I go over to get some wine and realize that even though it's a wine-and-paint class, you have to pay for your wine separately. Sad. Alas, I want some cold rosé, and I'm too invested to not drink any. I tip the bartender and get ready to paint. $10
6 p.m. — With my beautiful and not at all messed up painting in hand, I board the bus to skedaddle on home so my uncle can pick me up for dinner. My aunt lives south of Seattle, and since my grandma is with her, we decide to meet in the middle in Tukwila.
7 p.m. — My uncle finally picks me up, and it's quite the car ride. He's always been an odd and eccentric guy, and I haven't seen or talked to him in about 10 years, but the drive isn't nearly as awkward as I thought it would be. He shows me where he used to live "back in the day," the spots I should go to, and tells me to always carry around mace, ha.
8 p.m. — My grandma decides on Claim Jumper, since the Cheesecake Factory is, gasp, too busy. I get a mojito and a Caesar salad, and everyone shares sliders and fries. I enjoy catching up with everyone. It's getting late and I need to get up early, so my uncle drops me back off at my place around 9:30.
10 p.m. — Once I'm home, I make oats for the morning, bag up my lunch, and pack my clothes for work and Pilates. I do my nighttime skin-care routine, set my alarms, and text my roommates, who are both not home yet, to see if they're alive — they are. I'm exhausted and fall asleep as soon as I get into bed around 11.
Daily Total: $68.87

Day Three

5 a.m. — Ugh, I wake up again and feel tired, sweaty, and just icky overall. I slap on my lavender eye mask and try to fall back asleep.
6 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I need to get up, so I can catch the bus to Hot Pilates, but I'm still tired and considering skipping it. Knowing I'll feel worse if I skip it, I get up and get dressed and ready to go.
7 a.m. — I'm in the studio relaxing and preparing myself for the workout ahead. Ten minutes before class starts, and I'm still the only one in the studio. The instructor says I'm the only one who has signed up, so it might just be me. I reaallly hope other people join me. Soon enough, four more people come in, and we all get a good sweat in.
8:45 a.m. — It wasn't my favorite class — I'm not sure if it was the instructor (my first class of hers), the music, or the fact that we didn't do burpees, but it just felt a little off. After quickly showering, I walk to work to begin the rest of my day.
9 a.m. — I eat my overnight oats at my desk and get started on filling orders and answering emails.
12 p.m. — I'm getting a little hungry again, so I grab my smoothie leftover from the weekend.
6:30 p.m. — My last few tickets of the day were very pleasant and easy, and once I leave, I barely have to wait for the bus! As soon as I get home, the cramps kick in aggressively, and I kind of want to throw up. I pop some ibuprofen and lie down, knowing I need to make dinner soon or I'll be sad and hungry.
7:30 p.m. — My roommate is driving to Trader Joe's, and I'm feeling like a human again, so I jump at the chance for a ride. The parking lot is packed, but we manage to get a spot. I snag rolled oats, apricots, coffee, dolma, refried beans, eggs, almond milk, apricots, frozen berries, a box of fig granola bars, bananas, a frozen spinach lasagna, and a caramel brownie in a mug that my friend recommended as a treat for me and my uterus. $34.99
8 p.m. — My roommate needs to stop at Safeway to buy some rice and body wash, and I can't help but look at the pints of Ben & Jerry's on sale. I grab Peanut Butter Fudge Core and check out before I can buy anything else. $4.12
8:30 p.m. — Back home I eat an apricot and my spinach lasagna while we watch an episode of Game of Thrones. I've seen a smattering of episodes throughout the series, and we both know what happens in the final season, but my roommate is watching them all in order while I pop in and out. Nonetheless, I manage to accidentally spoil the fact that — spoiler ahead — Shireen dies, because I am an idiot and can't seem to read the episode numbers and thought it had already happened.
9:30 p.m. — Exhausted and ready for bed like the grandma I am, I eat a couple of bites of ice cream to satisfy my sweet tooth, take a shower, and get ready for bed. I manage to put away some laundry and empty my workout bags from today before I pass out at 10:30.
Daily Total: $39.11

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I'm still quite tired. I kept waking up throughout the night, hot and cold, on and off. I want to sleep a little more, but once I check the bus schedule I realize my bus is coming much sooner than I realized, so I scramble to get ready and make myself some food.
8:45 a.m. — I walk into work and am the first one at my desk clump, so I take some time getting myself ready for the day. I drink my canned latte from Trader Joe's (it's much cheaper than a latte from a coffee shop!) and eat a banana to complement the piece of toast I inhaled on the bus.
11 a.m. — I answer a bunch of emails and place orders while I eat my fig bar.
1 p.m. — I eat my lunch of apples with vanilla Greek yogurt, cinnamon, and peanut butter. It's yummy, but I know I'll be hungry later. I have a meeting at 3 and still have so many things to do.
4 p.m. — I eat three baby apricots and speed through the last of my tickets so I can try and get home by 6.
6:30 p.m. — I speed-walk through the door just after Hannah B. gives out the first group-date rose on The Bachelorette, so I haven't missed too much! My roommate hosts a viewing party every week, so I open up a bottle of wine for people, grab myself a glass and some snacks, and settle in to watch and judge and feel better about myself.
8:30 p.m. — After everyone leaves, we clean up the kitchen and spy on our neighbor's new puppy. My other roommate puts on a new episode of GoT, and I start prepping my food for tomorrow. I feel a little fruit-deprived after the cheese and other snacks during Bach, so I eat a banana.
10 p.m. — I pack up my bags and some clothes for Pilates and work tomorrow and try to clean up my room a little. It has become such a mess, and I just cleaned it last weekend! This always seems to happen.
11 p.m. — I brush my teeth and do my nighttime skin-care routine. Fall asleep minutes after I hit my pillow.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

6:10 a.m. — I wake up to my last alarm and speed downstairs to get ready. I switch out the jeans I packed for today, nab an apricot to snack on, and pack my food. Everybody is awake and downstairs, which is pretty rare for us, and we all groggily chuckle about it.
7 a.m. — I take the bus to the studio, ready to get my sweat on.
9 a.m. — Class was good, and I quickly shower. There are three of us using the two showers, and it's always an interesting start to the morning to have half-naked middle-aged women asking you if you liked class and whatnot, lmao. At my desk, I pull out my oats and get to fulfilling orders.
11 a.m. — Even customers who don't have delays are acting like it's life or death if they don't get their packages before Memorial Day weekend. I eat a fig bar and get back to it.
12:30 p.m. — I heat up the grilled cheese I made last night using my delicious farmer's market bread, mozzarella, tomatoes, and pesto. It's delicious, and thankfully there aren't many tickets left.
4 p.m. — I eat two apricots since things are a little slower.
5 p.m. — I finish all of my tickets and there are no orders on the docket, so I head out and catch the bus. Since it's 5 o' clock, the bus is packed. I manage to find a seat and notice that there's an empty row with a bag containing brown mushy stuff on one of the seats. (It doesn't smell like poop, but also you never know.) No one standing is brave enough to move the bag and claim the seats. The bus is getting more crowded, so I watch and wait to see what happens.
5:30 p.m. — I walk from the bus stop home and get a voicemail about my upcoming hair appointment. The stylist I scheduled with had to cancel :/ and I can't make a new appointment with her until next week. I reschedule with a different stylist.
6:30 p.m. — I get stuck outside talking to one of my landlords (they live next door) for about 20 minutes. She is super nice, but I also really have to pee and no one came out to help me end the conversation. (The three of us roommates have an agreement that if someone gets stuck outside talking to either one of them for more than 10 to 15 minutes — they're notoriously chatty people — we will give them an out by claiming that their laundry or food or something is done.) Once inside, I turn on some Schitt's Creek while making a dinner of eggs and toast. I also munch an apple.
8:30 p.m. — No one is home, and I realize I've been a potato on the couch for way too long. I want some dessert, so I make one of the TJ's caramel-chocolate mug cakes and add a scoop of Ben & Jerry's on top. It is SO good, but now I'm full and definitely don't want to get up and be productive.
9:30 p.m. — My roommate comes home, finally, after like a seven-hour happy hour. We talk about our days, how boys' toes should never be seen unless a) you are at a beach/swimming pool, or b) actively having sex. We both agree guys should not wear sandals, ESPECIALLY with jeans and ESPECIALLY to the office. Like no, gross, put your feet away, thank you. This somehow leads to a discussion about our high school dress codes, which is always fun. Sometimes I still like to play a game where I think of all the ways people are out of dress code, according to my high school's rules.
10 p.m. — After doing my skin-care routine, I turn on my fan, hop into bed, and fall asleep very quickly.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Again I wake up without an alarm, and for once I'm feeling rested, what a concept. That was the best night of sleep I've gotten all week. I don't have to be in the office until 12:30 today, so I quickly fall back asleep.
8:30 a.m. — Okay, I'm up for real this time. I walk downstairs and make myself some coffee and an egg scramble with tomatoes, spinach, cheese, and Everything but the Bagel seasoning. It's delicious!
10:30 a.m. — After some cleaning and catching up on responding to my texts (I am literal garbage at responding to people), I realize I should start getting ready. I decide I want to actually straighten and do my hair today, since I'm not coming freshly showered with dripping hair from Pilates.
12:45 p.m. — I've confirmed that my hair appointment is at 11:30, gotten myself an iced coffee at Starbucks (using money already on my app), and am prepping for my phone call at 1. I eat the lunch I packed — zucchini noodles with whole-wheat pasta, tomatoes, spinach, Parmesan, nutritional yeast (you can never have enough cheesy flavor), and vodka sauce. It's delicious and gives me the energy I need for this meeting! I'm gonna crush it!
5 p.m. — I've already eaten my fig bar, but I'm still hungry and know I won't have dinner until at least 7:30. I eat the two baby apricots I packed and finish up something to help my manager out, since I physically won't be back in the office until Tuesday.
7:30 p.m. — 30 Pilates was great, except that we had to do TWO different sets of burpees, which theoretically is good, but also I. Hate. Burpees. The only actual bad thing about class was that a dude two mats away smelled so bad! Like, I probably did not smell too hot myself, but c'mon man, we're in a crowded room with the heat on, and it's definitely at least 20% humidity — you gotta wear extra deodorant or something. I text my dad on the bus ride home, and on the walk from the bus stop to my house, I call my mom back to catch up and see what's new. I want her friend's bulgur dip recipe, since I'm going to a Memorial Day BBQ this weekend and want to bring something vegan.
8 p.m. — I eat the rest of my pasta from lunch, as well as a few handfuls of blueberries. My roommate and I discuss our respective days while unloading the dishwasher and cleaning the kitchen. I pull out a couple of dates and replace the pits with dollops of peanut butter. Yummyyyy. Delicious and satisfying.
9 p.m. — We both remember it's trash day tomorrow, so we take out our trash bag — only one for the week, woohoo! — plus our compost and recycling. I remember I got a text from CVS about my prescription and make a mental note to pick it up tomorrow. I realize I still haven't showered and have been in the same gross clothes since Pilates, which I know isn't healthy especially for your lovely lady down there, so I quickly hop into the shower.
10 p.m. — After doing my nighttime skin-care routine and getting into bed, I get sucked into the world of YouTube for way too long.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up without my alarm and then make myself some coffee and breakfast —French toast, extra eggy! I get a text from one of my old coworkers; she's having some friends over and wants to go out for drinks on Saturday night. I've already spent a good amount of money this week between my wild time at the farmer's market and paint class. Plus, I have my haircut today. But I also want to hang out and be a good friend. I'm only working part-time right now, so I should really be saving more, but in a month I'll be full-time, and I have a healthy amount ($12,000-ish) in savings. I decide I'll just pregame a little and buy one or two drinks.
10:30 a.m. — I clean up my dishes from breakfast and watch some Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Then I get ready for my haircut!! I usually get one, maybe two haircuts a year, so I'm excited to have healthy, smooth, and silky hair, plus that little head massage you get when they shampoo you.
12:30 p.m. — My hair is so short!!! And soft!!! And swishy!!! Ahhhhh, it feels so good, I'm really liking it. My stylist even told me that they do free bang trims, which is perfect since I'm still growing out my gross wispies from my front block bangs back in the winter. I'm trying to be more adult and take better care of myself, which also means taking care of my body, skin, and hair — so I also bought an anti-frizz/heat protectant cream. Everything including the haircut, style, tip, and cream was $89.89. $89.89
1 p.m. — I put in a load of laundry and make myself a huge smoothie with the rest of my spinach, almond milk, frozen mangos, frozen mixed berries, a banana, chia seeds, and some coconut flakes. I drink it while watching the newest episode of The Bold Type and sending everyone photos of my new hair.
2 p.m. — I put my last load into the dryer and go upstairs to make my bed. Since I'm feeling kind of productive, I decide to vacuum, too.
5 p.m. — I take a break and make myself some dates with peanut butter, this time with chocolate chips on top. It's delicious, but I need some actual food, too.
7 p.m. — I decide on a simple pasta and veggies and browse Girlfriend Collective's website while I cook. I love their workout gear — plus it's an ethically and environmentally conscious brand founded by women for women ;). I have a code for a free pair of leggings that I've been holding on to since December, but I can't seem to decide what to use it on.
10 p.m. — Today was fairly productive. I'm pretty pooped, which is good since I agreed to go to a two-hour dance class with my roommates in the morning, and I have been warned that class will be pretty hard. I decide to get ready for bed and call it a night.
Daily Total: $89.89
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