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 graphic designer who makes $52,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on Trader Joe's popcorn.
Occupation: Graphic Design & Marketing
Industry: Weddings
Age: 28
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $52,000, plus annual bonus
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,479
My Boyfriend's Salary: $57,000
My Boyfriend's Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,760
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $995 (for my half)
Student Loan Payments: $0 (I was very fortunate that my parents paid for college.)
Health Insurance: $105 (deducted from paycheck)
401(k): $200 (Deducted from my paycheck; my work contributes another $160)
Orange Theory Unlimited Membership: $186 (I know it's pricey, but it's worth it to me to pay for a studio that makes me want to work out three-to-four times per week.)
Phone: $52
Spotify: $9.99
Savings: $300-$500 (Plus, I have a mutual fund that my grandparents started for me when I was born, which is currently at about $50,000. I'm continuing to let it grow and will eventually use it toward a down payment.)
Shared Monthly Expenses: My boyfriend and I have a joint account and each contribute $500/month to cover the following expenses (plus groceries, gas, and pet supplies):
Utilities: ~$90-120
Sling TV/Hulu/HBO: $73
Netflix: $0 (We use my mom's account.)
Internet: $11 (I work from home, so work covers $60.)
Pet Insurance: $50 (And so worth it)
Shared Slush Fund: $200-$250
Additional Expenses
Car Insurance: $200, quarterly, which we split. (We share a car.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and my boyfriend and I snuggle for a few minutes before we get up. I was out of town all weekend with my dad, so it feels good to get a few extra minutes in my own bed. Waking up on Mondays usually sucks, but my dad flew back to Seattle with me before he heads home, and we have a busy schedule today. (I work for my family business.)
8:45 a.m. — Out the door to pick up my dad for our first meeting of the day. He's staying in a hotel in my neighborhood, so we meet at a coffee shop up the street. A latte and half a spinach quiche are waiting for me when I arrive…parents, FTW! We surprisingly don't hit traffic and arrive at our first meeting 15 minutes early, a rare occurrence in my family.
1 p.m. — Our last meeting is a casual lunch and we're relieved because that quiche is not gonna hold us over much longer. We get to the restaurant early, and I pay for parking ($10). We order chips, salsa, guacamole, and margaritas while we wait. When our colleague arrives, we order a second round of drinks, but I switch to vino verde because two margs seems aggressive for a Monday afternoon. I also get the vegetarian enchiladas per the waitress's recommendation and a side of rice and beans for the table. Turns out the enchiladas have peas in them, and while I have nothing against peas, I'm also not convinced they belong in enchiladas? Oh well, they're tasty enough (and free), so no complaints here. Dad pays with his company card. $10
3 p.m. — Before dropping Pops off at his hotel for a nap, we stop by REI. It's the last day of the members' sale, and both my boyfriend and I need travel packs for our upcoming trip to Europe. We enlist an overly enthusiastic employee to help, and settle on Osprey 70L packs with dreams of bringing back Italian wine with the extra room. LOL, who am I kidding? If I'm given 70L to pack in, I'm packing 70L worth of clothes! I'll make the dude pack light. I also have a gift card from my birthday, so the total for both packs is $252.76. I Venmo request my BF for his half. $76.16
4:15 p.m. — Drop off my dad and head to Trader Joe's. Tonight I'm making chili and salad (Dad is coming over for dinner), so I get ingredients, plus produce, chicken breasts, eggs, turkey, naan, whole wheat wraps, Greek yogurt, white cheddar, a small sourdough loaf, and a few bottles of wine ($100, using our joint card). Head next door to pick up a prescription ($10 on my card). $110
4:45 p.m. — Back home, and my poor pup has been home alone all day, so I leash him up for a walk. About halfway through the walk, I realize my boyfriend used the last of the bags this morning and forgot to refill them. Fantastic. I've been the victim of stepping in dog shit three times in the past two months, so I suck it up, walk home for bags, and come back to clean up after the dog. When we get home, I feed him and start making the chili in my Instant Pot (the Christmas gift I didn't ask for but now can't live without). Boyfriend gets home from work, turns on the Mariner's game, and announces he must run out for beer (because sports). When my Dad arrives, he offers to take our dog for another walk to get more steps in. I do not object, and neither does the dog.
7:30 p.m. — Dinnertime! We open a bottle of wine and sit down to eat together.
9:15 p.m. — After watching the M's get their asses handed to them, my dad walks back to his hotel, and my boyfriend and I watch an episode of The Sopranos. Unsurprisingly, my attempts to keep him awake during the last five minutes are futile, but we were prepared for this and did our nightly routines beforehand, so now we head straight to bed.
Daily Total: $196.16

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I'm super disoriented until I realize I have to be up earlier than usual for a meeting-filled morning. Hit snooze a couple times and finally get up when I hear our trusty Mr. Coffee beep. Give myself a mental fist bump for remembering to set it last night. I jump on the webinar, drink two cups of coffee, and make myself peanut butter banana toast to combat the caffeine jitters.
10.30 a.m. — Check my budgeting app to import new transactions and make a few adjustments. I recently finished a two-month trial and decided to make the small investment to help with my quest for financial stability. It took a little while to adjust, but I'm really starting to notice a shift in the way I think about money and budgeting, and it has become something I actually look forward to doing. Yay adulting!
12:15 p.m. — Hungry again so I heat up my leftover enchilada from yesterday. A little more indulgent than my typical weekday lunch, but hey, at least today I'm drinking water instead of tequila!
12:50 p.m. — Dog is getting antsy for a walk. I look up and realize the sun has come out…you win this round, pupper.
3:05 p.m. — After staring at my computer all day, I'm relieved when I look at the clock and realize it's time to get ready for my Orange Theory class. Change, grab my water bottle and heart rate monitor, and rush out the door.
5:30 p.m. — Back home and showered, I get dinner started while listening to an episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. Tonight I'm making a blackened chicken chopped salad with apple-cider-vinegar-and-dijon dressing. Part way through I realize I don't have a red onion, and our salad just won't be the same without it. I text the BF to pick up an onion, garlic, and olive oil on his way home from the gym, which he pays for on our joint card ($12). After dinner we watch more Sopranos. Shit is getting reaaal. Hop into bed around 10 to read Home Fire, and I'm sad when I finish because I really loved it and will have to wait a whole month to discuss it at book club. At least I finished early for once! $12
Daily Total: $12

Day Three

7:20 a.m. — Hit snooze on my alarm once and then scroll through Instagram before getting up. Get dressed, grab a cup of coffee, and log in for a call, only to find out it's been rescheduled. Hooray! Take this opportunity to make scrambled eggs with spinach, white cheddar, and hot sauce in a whole wheat tortilla and eat while working on a blog post and watching Good Morning America.
12:30 p.m. — Lunchtime! Heat up last night's chicken to make a leftover chopped salad and toast half a piece of naan with spicy hummus while watching The Real Housewives Of New York City…so stoked to have the girls back in my life!
2 p.m. — Check availability for Comedy Cellar tickets in New York in two weekends. My Dad, sister, and I are going to visit my other sister, and we're buying these tickets because our dad is funding the majority the trip. I have been completely financially independent since I graduated college (besides Netflix… the horror!), but after my parents' divorce a few years ago, my dad loves getting us together as much as possible and is more than happy to foot the bill since we're all over the country and wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise. We're sure to buy drinks, meals, and stuff like that to show our appreciation. I make a reservation and find out that we don't pay until the show.
3:45 p.m. — The past few hours have been super productive, so I wrap things up and take the dog on a long walk while listening to Bitch Sesh. Casey and Danielle are so effing funny and this episode's guest is Roxane Gay. I can't help myself from laughing out loud. If you watch Bravo and don't listen to this, you're missing out. They're self-aware and fully embrace the ridiculousness that is Housewives. It is amazing.
6:15 p.m. — I'm meeting a new friend/colleague for dinner because she's in town for work. She also works for her family business, and we really hit it off when we met earlier this year. After getting ready, I call a Lyft ($10.89) and head to one of my favorite restaurants, Manolin. I arrive early to put our name in and then have a glass of rosé outside by the fire, drizzle be damned! When she arrives, we share a bunch of small plates (plantain chips, sunchoke kale, mussels, black squid rice, and pork belly with squash) over wine and good conversation about our industry. She picks up the tab, and I get us a Lyft back to my neighborhood since she's staying near me ($11.09). Back home, I snuggle on the couch with my boys while watching The Sopranos before bed. $21.98
Daily Total: $21.98

Day Four

8:15 a.m. — My boyfriend works from home some Thursdays, so we lounge for a few extra minutes until he gets up to walk the dog. I make us coffee and spinach egg wraps with berries. Once I get settled into work, I check my budget app and see that my Everlane return has hit my account! I transfer it to my credit card bill.
12:30 p.m. — Head out to meet a friend for lunch – a treat, since we both rarely eat lunch out during the week! I order a spicy braised tofu bowl with broccoli, but they're out of tofu so I sub chicken ($12.92). Run by the dry cleaners on my way home; I usually hand wash my dry clean-only clothes, but there are a few things I'm too scared to ruin. Plus, a button needs to be reattached on my blouse, and all of my mom's attempts to teach me to sew have been unsuccessful. Thanks for trying, Ma! $12.74
2:55 p.m. — Learn that it's National Grilled Cheese Day and briefly consider changing tonight's dinner plans, but decide to do the responsible thing and cook what I meal-planned for.
3:30 p.m. — Orange Theory break! My triceps are still sore from Tuesday, but I won't let anything get in the way of me and my fitness!
5:30 p.m. — Start making lentil and spinach dal while listening to an episode of Armchair Expert. We top it with cilantro and Greek yogurt and have naan and hummus on the side. Even though it's not grilled cheese, it's still very satisfying. Listen to another episode with Anna Faris while my boyfriend does the dishes. I love to cook, and his kitchen skills go about as far as bacon and eggs, so this arrangement is ideal for both parties.
7:30 p.m. — BF heads to band practice, and I take full advantage and binge-watch Bravo. When he gets home, we watch TV and then get into bed. I decide to start a new book that was just passed along to me, The Weight of Ink, but I don't very far before my eyelids start to get heavy.
Daily Total: $12.74

Day Five

8 a.m. — Oof! My body is feelin' yesterday's workout. Lay in bed for half an hour while browsing on my phone and stretching my lower back.
9 a.m. — While I'm making peanut butter banana toast, I look up from the kitchen just in time to see my dog nearly knock my coffee over onto my computer with a pillow in his attempt to create the perfect nap nest. Luckily he doesn't hit it hard enough, so I breathe a huge sigh of relief and tell him he's one lucky pup. That computer is my life. I spend the morning looking for flights for a work trip, and purchase tickets for five people (including myself) on my company card. ($2,000 expensed)
12 p.m. — I call my mom to chat, since we haven't talked in a week or so. She's been having a hard time dealing with my grandma's advanced dementia and just moved her to a new homeopathic assisted living facility, so I want to offer emotional support. While on the phone, I look up banana bread recipes. I've been craving it for weeks and decide that tonight is a good night to make it since my friend is coming over while my boyfriend plays a show. (I've been his dedicated groupie for over five years, so I get a free pass every once in awhile.)
1:45 p.m. — After eating leftover chili, I take the dog for a walk. Thank god I have Danielle and Casey to keep me company again, because this weather is truly miserable – not only rainy, but also super windy and I have to throw my leggings in the dryer when I get home. Ah, springtime in Seattle.
4:30 p.m. — Work is finished, so I tidy up and run to TJ's to pick up snacks for tonight. I get jalapeño artichoke dip, cheese, salami, grapes, two frozen appetizers (their strongest department, IMO), pita chips, a baguette, and dish soap, and then ask an employee to bring me the mushiest bananas they can find from the back. I also taste a couple of wines because Trader Joe's is so fancy now, but decide to be boring and get two of my go-tos. Venmo request my friend for her share. $37.45
5:15 p.m. — Back home. I take a shower and then have a glass of wine while making the banana bread. Boyfriend pops in from work to change and give me a kiss before he heads to the venue to soundcheck and hang with friends before his show.
7 p.m. — My friend arrives and we spend the evening catching up until she leaves at 11:30. I'm surprisingly not tired, so I watch an episode of Unreal until the BF gets home bearing late-night cheeseburgers. Be still my heart! Eat our burgers and hit the sheets around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $37.45

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — Because we're both still in bed, doggo knows it's the weekend, and he is ready to go. We lay in bed for 20 minutes brainstorming ways of tricking him into thinking all mornings are weekdays. Alas, today is not that day. My BF gets ready to meet up with his dad and their dog for a playdate. When they get back (nice and wet), I mention that I just used the last of the coffee and our half and half is a bit questionable, so he runs to out to restock these two very necessary staples ($10.85 on joint card). When he returns, we eat spinach scrambles and bacon while watching Cash Cab and meal planning for next week, our Saturday morning tradition. $10.85
10:45 a.m. — BF puts on a record and we dance to Talking Heads while busting out household chores. He cleans the bathroom and takes out the trash/recycling/compost while I dust, vacuum, Swiffer, wash our sheets and towels, and water the plants. We have our system down pat, and my constant tidying and sweeping up dog hair throughout the week makes it go quickly!
12 p.m. — My boyfriend drops me off at Orange Theory so I'm not late. I start feeling nauseous at the very end of class, and realize I must have not taken my medicine with enough food before class. Get home and have a bite of leftover pizza in the fridge and immediately feel better. Pizza cures all.
2 p.m. — Take a long, hot shower, make half a turkey scramble wrap with grapefruit, and watch TV. BF's friends pick him up at 3 for an hour-long drive to see Car Seat Headrest and get dinner before (#mandate), so I do laundry and walk the dog until I have to leave for babysitting. I used to nanny full-time and have remained close to the family, so I pick the boys up from school once a week and babysit here and there. Tonight we order pizza and root beers, and I get a detailed recap of their spring break trip to Disneyland. Then we watch Lilo & Stitch, and I get in plenty of snuggles while reading books before bed.
11:45 p.m. — Home and exhausted. After being bombarded with dog howls and kisses, I let him out, do my nightly skincare routine, and read in bed for 20 minutes before passing out in our freshly laundered sheets. Is there anything better? I think not.
Daily Total: $10.85

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Our dog is too smart for us, so we don't even attempt to trick him. BF meets his dad and his dad's dog, and I make coffee. I sneak a small cup even though I shouldn't because I'm doing a sensory deprivation float for the first time today, and they recommend not having caffeine before, but banana bread without coffee would just be a crime. My boyfriend gave me a Groupon for the float, thinking it would be a fun way for me to relax, so even though I'm a little nervous, I'm going to give it a try!
10 a.m. — Run to TJ's for this week's haul: berries, spinach, asparagus, avocados, red onion, baby potatoes, chives, grapefruit, eggs, whole wheat bread, ground turkey, salmon, salsa, guacamole, cheddar cheese, black beans, hummus, laundry detergent, paper towels, body wash, and flowers because it's dreary AF, and I need a lil pick-me-up ($87 on joint card). Somehow I miraculously made it before the Sunday rush and I'm home within a half hour, so I unpack the groceries and make toast with Laughing Cow cheese, radishes, smoked salmon, chives, and Everything But the Bagel seasoning. I eat it with a grapefruit while watching Beyonce's Coachella performance from last night. DEAD. $87
12 p.m. — Float time – wish me luck!
1:30 p.m. — Welllll...hmm. After what I assume is the closest I've ever come to a minor panic attack and almost getting out only 10 minutes in, I survived! It took me awhile to get comfortable, and it was really hard to turn by brain off, but I'm glad I tried it! I'll probably stick to yoga or a massage when I want to relax, though. I throw my wet hair in a top knot, slap on blush and Boy Brow, and walk over to a local coffee shop to meet the boys' mom I babysat last night. They got home too late to catch up for long, so we decided on a coffee date today! I arrive first, so I get tea for her and a cappuccino and croissant for me ($13.34 with tip). We chat for an hour, and she gives me $160 in cash for last night and an IOU for the past month of school pick-ups. $13.34
2:45 p.m. — I stop in a cute little shop on the way back to my car to pick up a birthday card for a friend. Conveniently, there is a gorgeous clothing store next door, and I can't help but go in. I want everything but get nothing, and thank my new budgeting skills for giving me this restraint. $6.57
3:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I decide to check out a local brewery. We each get a beer (he pays) and play cards until it's time to go to his dad and stepmom's house for Sunday dinner. They host whenever they're in town, and we try to make it at least once or twice a month. Tonight, we have shredded pork tacos and salad, and I drink a pomegranate hard cider.
7:30 p.m. — Stop by TJ's to grab a bottle of wine and popcorn ($11.59). At home, we change into comfies and I put on a Glossier face mask before renting Moonstruck on Amazon ($4.39). About 10 minutes into the movie, I notice a crackling in my ear due to leftover Epsom salt from the float, and it's driving me nuts. I Google ways to get rid of it and grumpily tell my boyfriend we need to go to Bartell to pick up hydrogen peroxide. Run to the store (where I realize I still have my face mask on – LOL), get the goods ($1.99), and on the way home find a contradicting article reporting how dangerous it can be to mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar. Damn you, Internet! Even though I'm sure it's fine, in a moment of panic I skip the peroxide and mix water with white vinegar that we already had at home, of course. My boyfriend drops a teaspoon into my ear canal, and it actually works! Thank god. Apologize to my boyfriend for momentarily blaming him and his dumb Groupon for my troubles. $17.97
8:45 p.m. — Back to our regularly scheduled programming! I'm loving this movie, but I finish it alone because I somehow end up with a snoozing dog to my left and a snoozing boyfriend to my right. Get ready for bed and read before dozing off.
Daily Total: $124.88
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