A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $69,000 Salary

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Today: an internal consultant working in higher education who makes $69,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on kimchi.
Occupation: Internal Consultant
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 32
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $69,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,045.65
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $656.25 (I live with my boyfriend, and we split rent and a parking spot proportionally based on our incomes. I work in higher education, and he works in tech, so my portion is 35%.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Thank you, thank you, thank you to my mom and dad for sponsoring my undergraduate tuition.)
Medical, Dental & Vision Insurance: $78
Transit Pass: $50
Pension Contribution: $425
Natural Gas: $7 (stove only)
Water: $35 for my portion
Electricity: $35 for my portion, billed every second month in Seattle
Internet: $36 for my portion
Cell Phone: $72
Roth IRA: $300 (My parents generously make an additional $1,000 contribution annually in lieu of other gifts.)
Savings: $700 (fund for future house, kids, car replacement, etc.)
Travel Fund: $200
Political Organization Dues: $265, assessed on a sliding scale
Independent Journalism Donation: $15
Regional Abortion Fund Donation: $10
Netflix: $15.40 (I pay for a household account and share with family members.)
Spotify: $8.25 for my portion

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up and snuggle my boyfriend for a few minutes before getting up. Then I unload the dishwasher and prep a smoothie, scrambled eggs, and avocado toast (such a good millennial) for breakfast with my cup of coffee.
8 a.m. — Get dressed and look at my work calendar for the day. I have a 9 a.m. webinar today and decide to take it from home.
10:30 a.m. — The webinar is about as stimulating as you'd think, but I pick up a good tidbit or two. Then I walk to the light rail and flip through Instagram while I wait for the train.
12:30 p.m. — Working with a new team today, and after two hours of highly detailed process review, we agree to break for lunch. I heat up a lunch from the Trader Joe's frozen section and head outside for some sunshine.
5:30 p.m. — Finish a long day of training, and I'm famished. Take the light rail home and scarf down the end of a bag of chips and salsa as soon as I walk in the door. My boyfriend comes home to find me standing at the kitchen counter mid-bite and digs right in. True love.
6 p.m. — Today is my brother's birthday! I grab a bottle of prosecco leftover from a party as we head to my parents' house for a celebratory dinner.
7 p.m. — Dinner is awesome. My dad and brother team up to grill salmon, and my mom has made two beautiful salads. Everyone is in a good mood, the conversation is great, and the weather is the perfect temperature. A+ family time.
9 p.m. — My boyfriend and I head home and putter around the house getting ready for tomorrow before going to bed to make sure we have plenty of time to have sex and get eight hours of sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and it's right to the yoga mat. I quit my gym membership a few months ago in favor of working out at home (mostly yoga and HIIT), which has helped me increase my workout frequency. Working out in the morning is such a nice way to start the day.
7 a.m. — I have a doctor's appointment this morning so I keep breakfast quick: granola with almond milk and diced nectarine plus leftover berry smoothie from yesterday and a cup of coffee. I hard boil several eggs while I eat my breakfast.
8:40 a.m. — Walk downtown to the eye doctor and pay my appointment copay. Can we have single payer healthcare already? $30
10:15 a.m. — Finally get out of there. The electronic medical record was down, so what should have been a 20-minute appointment took an hour and a half. Thankfully my insurance covered the fitting fee and replacement contact lenses I had to order. I'm starving and pick up egg cups at Starbucks on my way to the light rail. $4.90
1:25 p.m. — Walk directly into a meeting as soon as I land at the office and leave with a long list of action items. My stomach makes itself known and I intentionally zone out while heating up my lunch. I take my lunch back to my desk and flip through the internet for 15 minutes while eating vegetarian curry with rice, a nectarine, and a hard-boiled egg. Hoping it holds me over until dinner.
4:45 p.m. — Get an email from a local movie theater about their annual 70MM film festival. Buy two tickets to see Vertigo on the big screen. My boyfriend Venmos me his half. $18.50
6 p.m. — Take the train home and quickly prep niçoise toast and a green salad for dinner. I've got a meeting to get to!
6:55 p.m. — Hop in the car and drive 15 minutes to a political meeting, park on the street, and pay the meter. $1.83
7 p.m. — I've been a member of a socialist organization since college. Our weekly meetings are a cornerstone of my week. The combination of passionate and dedicated people, stimulating political conversation and education, and community organizing keeps me coming back. Tonight we're talking about some labor organizing a few members are involved with and holding an educational discussion on different models of organizing.
9:30 p.m. — Drive home from the meeting and join my boyfriend on the couch. We catch up about our days and snuggle a bit before bed.
Daily Total: $55.23

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I keep hitting snooze until it's clear I'm not actually going to get up and work out. You can't win them all.
7:30 a.m. — Cook a quick breakfast of fried eggs and toast. Slice a nectarine and enjoy it all with a cup of coffee. Pack up my work bag and walk to work.
9:15 a.m. — Working from my "main" office. It's technically my home base, but with various projects, I'm rarely there for more than one day a week. Catch up with my coworkers and get some work done.
11:30 a.m. — Eat my lunch of leftover tuna toast, green salad, and a nectarine at my desk. It's tasty, and I pop a piece of gum before heading into the afternoon.
2 p.m. — Back-to-back meetings all afternoon. Luckily not too much for me to do coming out of them...I've got plenty of other items to work on!
5:15 p.m. — Swing by Whole Foods on my way home. We're going on a double date to see a 20th anniversary showing of The Big Lebowski with my brother and his girlfriend tonight. I offered to host dinner, so I pick up a roast chicken, a few salads, and good bread. $38.77
6:15 p.m. — My brother is running late (of course), so we eat very quickly. I wish it could be more leisurely, but to The Dude we must go! My boyfriend calls us a Lyft.
6:40 p.m. — My brother offers to buy movie snacks. We get two medium bags of popcorn and a box of Milk Duds to share.
9 p.m. — The movie is even better than I remember. The weather feels good, so we walk back to our house after the movie to keep hanging out.
10:30 p.m. — Our building has a rooftop with sweeping views of downtown and the mountains. I mix up rosé and amaro cocktails, and we enjoy them on the roof and chat until too late on a school night. It's great to spend time with people I love.
Daily Total: $38.77

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — Up and made it to the mat!
7:30 a.m. — Make a breakfast of marmalade toast, hard-boiled eggs, and sliced nectarine. I need to have a hearty breakfast to make it through the morning. Plus, I enjoy taking the time to make beautiful food in the morning. It feels like a gift to myself.
9 a.m. — Take the light rail to work and head right to a committee meeting. We just had two proposals accepted for a national conference and have a lot to celebrate (and plan)!
10:15 a.m. — Grab a coffee with a buddy after the meeting. She didn't bring her wallet to the meeting, so I pick up the tab for two Americanos and a biscotti for me. We debrief on the meeting and indulge in a little bit of work gossip. $5.87
12:15 p.m. — Catch up on email before eating lunch at my desk again. I've packed leftover tuna toast, coleslaw, and a peach that I wash down with a La Croix.
12:45 p.m. — I'm back with the new group from earlier in the week doing more training. As an internal consultant, I'm constantly learning new systems used by different work groups and helping understand where operational improvements can be made. It's a fun challenge to help sort it out, but the first few days on a new project are always a bit overwhelming.
2:55 p.m. — I'm starting to get cross-eyed with all this highly detailed training, and suggest a snack break. I wander to the cafeteria and pick up a small bag of popcorn to get me through the next round of spreadsheets. $1.87
5:30 p.m. — Made great progress this afternoon, and head home. I prep basil-cashew-lime vermicelli noodle bowls with chicken thighs and broccoli for dinner. Cooking is my transition from work into the evening. My boyfriend and I check in about our days. This recipe is new to us, and it's good! We'll make it again.
6:45 p.m. — We're leaving for a weekend camping trip tomorrow morning. Over dinner we make a to-do list and divvy it up. My boyfriend pulls our camping supplies out of the closet while I do some food prep for the meals we're charged with over the weekend.
8 p.m. — I rarely work after hours but I need to get something out before I leave for the weekend. Luckily it goes fairly quickly, and I'm able to turn on my out of office message with a sense of accomplishment.
9:15 p.m. — We don't have to work in the morning, so we agree to stay up a little later. I make us each a drink and we curl up on the couch to watch a few episodes of The Venture Bros.
12 a.m. — We go to bed late and enjoy some leisurely sex. We're going to be in a tent sharing a campsite with a bunch of family friends all weekend, and this will be our only chance until Sunday.
Daily Total: $7.74

Day Five

8 a.m. — I sleep in a bit before getting in a yoga workout. Hop in the shower and review my prep plan for the morning.
9:40 a.m. — It's payday! I take my coffee to the couch and fire up You Need A Budget. I looooove assigning my dollars jobs and seeing all those little ovals turn green. I've been using this budget software for nearly two years and I'm a complete evangelist. It's helped me meet my savings goals, track my spending, and make sure my money is aligned with my values.
10:15 a.m. — My boyfriend runs to a cafe down the street to get us these breakfast rice bowls we're both obsessed with while I finish packing. I Venmo him for mine. $12.61
11:25 a.m. — My boyfriend's mom arrives, and we load up the car for camping. We stop at the grocery store on our way out of town for string cheese, ice, salad dressing, and chocolate for s'mores. $16.05
1:20 p.m. — After a few hours of driving, we're ready to stretch our legs. We settle on an old school lunch place in an old logging town. It's decorated with memorabilia from the local high school. The vibe puts me in the mood for a French dip, sweet potato fries, and iced tea. In an effort to get back on the road quickly, my boyfriend's mom picks up the whole tab.
2 p.m. — We stop at a local grocery store in the last small town before the national park to pick up firewood. I buy gum ($1.45) in order to get cash back ($40). $1.45
3:15 p.m. — Our campsite is perfect: large enough for two tents with privacy, close to the river, and under a thicket of tall trees. We set up camp and head down to the river for a swim.
5 p.m. — Plenty of family friends start arriving. This was an annual camping trip when my boyfriend was a kid, and the adults just kept coming when their kids grew up and got busy with their own lives. We were invited this year, and I'm touched to be included in this place that's so important to my boyfriend's family.
6:30 p.m. — I'm in charge of dinner tonight, and I make foil packets with carrots, zucchini, cod, and an herb puree. My boyfriend makes drinks for everyone while the packets steam on the campfire. They turn out great and everyone toasts to another weekend in the woods.
9 p.m. — Everyone chats by the campfire until they get sleepy and wander back to their campsites. I tuck into my sleeping bag and fall fast asleep.
Daily Total: $30.11

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and make coffee to enjoy with my book next to the campfire. I picked up Tara Westover's Educated at the library last week and am tearing through it. An engrossing memoir of a childhood so different from my own.
9:10 a.m. — My boyfriend and his mom make blueberry pancakes for breakfast together. Pancakes are not a normal part of my weekend breakfast routine, and these are delicious. I take a dishwashing shift when we're done eating.
10 a.m. — We settle on a hike for the day, get dressed, and pack food for lunch. We're going to explore the Mount Saint Helens National Park.
11:30 a.m. — On our drive to the trailhead, we stop at an interpretive site to learn more about the volcanic explosion in 1980 and the regrowth of the region. The fully upright dead trees have a spooky beauty to them.
12 p.m. — We hike up 438 (!) steps to reach the viewing area from the summit. The blast area is still clearly visible, and it's remarkable how much vegetation has returned in 35 years. We continue the hike to take in the surrounding vistas.
1:45 p.m. — The group finishes the hike, and we pile back into the car. We all eat our snacks in the car as we drive back down the mountain.
3 p.m. — I take a nap when we get back to the campsite, because why not? I wake up to my boyfriend chopping wood for tonight's fire, and I pick up my book again.
6 p.m. — My boyfriend's mom makes burgers and corn for dinner while I prep a salad. Dinner is simple and delicious.
7:30 p.m. — Everyone comes over to our campsite again, and we roast s'mores and tell stories around the campfire. I have a drink and feel warm inside and out.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — Wake up and find my boyfriend's mom reading by the fire. I join her with my coffee and book.
8:20 a.m. — Breakfast is lower key today. Granola with almond milk and sliced nectarines for me before washing dishes and starting to pack up camp.
11 a.m. — Our campsite is empty and the car is packed. I hand the $40 in cash to my boyfriend's mom for lunch on Friday ($17.50) plus a contribution for gas and a car wash. We hit the road and head back to Seattle. $40
2 p.m. — Make it home and unpack everything. Predictably, our living room is a mess. I take a long, hot shower to wash all the dirt off. Then I woo my boyfriend into an afternoon quickie.
3:40 p.m. — Once we're both clean, we sit down and start making a meal plan for the upcoming week. I'm big on meal planning, and this has become a bit of a ritual for us. We review our plans for the upcoming week, check out what needs to be used up in the fridge or pantry, and see if there are any new recipes we want to try. My boyfriend starts the laundry while I grab the grocery list and head to the store.
4:20 p.m. — Trader Joe's is a bit bananas, but I know how to get out of there fairly unscathed. I pick up a red onion, arugula, parsley, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, nectarines, avocados, a bagged salad, two dozen eggs, a small steak, ground chicken, frozen cod, frozen berries, coffee, plantain chips, fish sauce, spaghetti, capers, a loaf of rosemary sourdough, guacamole, and coconut water. I split the cost with my boyfriend. $34.38
4:55 p.m. — I stop at Safeway on my way home to pick up butter lettuce and La Croix. As I'm walking through the produce section, I throw kimchi in my cart as an impulse buy, because kimchi is delicious. My boyfriend and I split the cost. $6.54
6:30 p.m. — For dinner I sauté leftover zucchini with onion and diced chicken thighs and mix it with al dente pasta. A simple but filling dinner.
8:30 p.m. — We fold the laundry and finish putting away the camping gear. My boyfriend builds hobby electronics, so he retires to his workbench while I read my book on the couch until bed. Another full weekend in the books.
Daily Total: $80.92
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