A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $240,000 Income

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Today: a product manager working in tech who makes $240,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on cherry Coke Zero.
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Occupation: Product Manager
Industry: Technology
Age: 29
Location: Seattle, WA
Income: $95,000 base salary plus $145,000 in stock grants
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): ~$13,400
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,400 for my apartment that I live in alone
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I paid them off.)
Health Insurance: ~$200
Utilities: $50
Netflix: $12
MealPal: ~$75
Amazon Prime: $13
Gym: $50
Barre Class: $100 for an unlimited pass
401(k): $2,000
Personal Investment Account: $4,000-6,000

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up feeling great. It's summer in Seattle, and the sky is so blue I can't imagine I'll ever see a cloud again. I run through my morning routine: shower, brush my teeth, half an Adderall, makeup, all while checking Instagram for Monday outfit inspiration. I settle on a denim skirt and t-shirt. Then I check my email and am reassured that India, Japan, China, Europe, Brazil, and even Mexico have already started their work days. (Job security…check.) I'm glad I work for a West Coast company. If I had to add New York emails on top of everything else, my head would explode before I finished flossing. I grab a bagel and start my 20-minute walk to work.
8 a.m. — Before arriving at my office, I grab a drip coffee at Herkimer. I knew I was living in Seattle when I ordered a coffee and the barista asked if I wanted a “drip.” I couldn't figure out if that meant regular coffee or pour-over, so I just told her I wanted the least expensive thing. I like the staff here because they are knowledgeable without being pretentious, and the prices are reasonable. $2.50
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2 p.m. — At work, I make a few stops at the vending machine. Two cherry Coke Zeros and something from the fancy machine that I compost after a bite and a half. I use a MealPal credit for lunch because it's practically the only way to get lunch for less than $15 around here. $5
5 p.m. — My day has been busy, but enjoyable. My skirt isn't amenable to walking uphill, so I take an Uber Pool home. $4
6 p.m. — I spend time talking to my parents, and make salmon (farm-raised… I like the taste better) with lemon couscous for dinner, after which I watch an episode of Alias Grace on Netflix, spend time reading, and then go to sleep.
Daily Total: $11.50

Day Two

8 a.m. — After getting dressed, I check email and see that both my afternoon meetings have been moved. I decide to take the afternoon off. It's nice to be able to make these kinds of decisions spontaneously. Most of my calls are in the evening or early morning, and I operate more or less autonomously at work, so taking an afternoon off to enjoy another beautiful day is no big deal. I order the usual drip on my way in, then work until around noon. $2.50
12 p.m. — I make a lot of money, but I try to live like I don't. I cook most of my own meals, I shop at Zara or stores with similar price points, and have neither a car nor a personal trainer. Being relatively thrifty and saving most of my money lets me occasionally splurge on nice things without having to account for them, and more importantly, without having to feel guilty. I walk to Pike Place Market and have lunch at Sushi Kashiba. $80
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2:30 p.m. — Being at the market on a weekday is an absolute joy. I browse the fish and flowers at my own pace. I'm having company tonight, so I pick up an enormous bouquet of sunflowers and begonias and walk home with them. $15
6 p.m. — I have a few work calls with Asia, and then my friend, D., arrives. We are celebrating her birthday, and she brought a bottle of red wine that we sip while I defrost broth and warm up steak tips I prepped over the weekend for delicious Taiwan-style beef noodle soup.
8 p.m. — After dinner we order bobas on Uber Eats, and she lets me pay. Pro tip when getting boba tea delivered: make sure to ask for the ice to be put in a separate cup so the drinks aren't watered down when they arrive. $17.50
10 p.m. — We indulge in our shared vice of watching Olivia Jade on YouTube, and talk about the concert we're going to together later in the month. D. is a bit anxious after what happened in Vegas last year, so when we see an ad for a stadium seat that converts into a bulletproof vest, it seems like the universe is sending us a sign. After a brief conversation, I buy two of them and wish her a happy birthday. All I can say is that it's an interesting time to be alive. $285
Daily Total: $400

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — My early morning meeting falls during that awkward window I call the “I really don't want to be at work but it's not early enough for me to be in my pajamas hour.” I compromise by taking the call during my walk. Fortunately, my morning commute is downhill, so I'm not out of breath when I come off mute to talk. At Herkimer the barista mouths, "the usual?" and I nod. $2.50
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2 p.m. — I swing by the vending machine for my second cherry Coke Zero and overhear coworkers talking about how our stock is doing. When the company offered me my current role three years ago, it took me almost an hour of fiddling with a spreadsheet to figure out how much money they were actually offering me. It was really good money, around $130,000, but about a third of it was in the form of stock that wouldn't start to vest until I had been there for two years. The volatility made me somewhat nervous, but I wanted a change of scenery and was frankly sick of billable hours, so I left my management consulting job for a large tech company, the stock price of which has since tripled. My semi-annual stock grants — which I quickly convert into a combination of cash and index-fund investments — are now in the neighborhood of $75,000 each. $2.50
5:30 p.m. — I go to Whole Foods on my way home and pick up a baguette, artichoke hearts, fresh tomatoes, and an avocado. At home I proceed to make a salad with a side of bread, both drizzled with a dressing of olive oil and rice vinegar. I know balsamic is more typical, but rice vinegar is light and delicious, and I've gotta let my Asian identity shine through sometimes, right? $12.50
Daily Total: $17.50

Day Four

8 a.m. — It's Thursday. I throw on jeans and a collared shirt go into work. I'm taking PTO tomorrow, so I get into the office early, skipping Herkimer for office sludge. I don't care that it's freshly brewed…any coffee served in an office is sludge as far I'm concerned.
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1 p.m. — After lunch (MealPal, again), I head over to Cascade Coffee Works for real coffee. The coffee is great and the baristas are knowledgeable, but there's a certain blandness to South Lake Union that even reclaimed wood and two-minute single-source pour-overs can't entirely get rid of. I'll take my neighborhood spots any day. $4
5:30 p.m. — I'm meeting a friend for dinner in the International District to kick off my long weekend. I take an Uber to Boiling Point, a no-nonsense hot-pot spot on the edge of the district. $6
7:15 p.m. — I'm a fairly opinionated person in general, but when it comes to Asian restaurants, I basically turn into the tall Asian female version of Kevin O'Leary. My general rule of thumb is the shinier the facade, the crappier the food. In my experience, the very best Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants are run like — and sometimes look like — your high school cafeteria. Wait in line, take a bowl, and enjoy the most delicious pho ha noi you've ever tasted. We split the check ($12 each), and I take an Uber home ($8). $20
Daily Total: $30

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and go through my daily routine, sans emails and Adderall. I decide to spend the morning on my side gig. I head over to my usual spot, add a pastry to my order, and plug in. $5.50
11:30 a.m. — I chat with my business partner, S., about how to price medical billing software, and when to start looking for seed money. I'd be lying if I said my passion for my side hustle wasn't a primary driver of my aggressive monthly savings. I have enough in the bank and my investment account for the recommended eight months of living expenses for starting your own business, but would also like to have enough to bootstrap some of the initial expenses so we can build more value before talking to investors. I advocate for this vociferously to S. with a combination of exclamation points and scary-face emojis.
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11:45 a.m. — In between research on industry pricing, I spend a few minutes browsing IndieGoGo and make another online purchase. This time it's half-impulse, half-planned. Last year, the air quality in Seattle was pretty terrible for almost a month due to the forest fires, and I suspected we'd be dealing with that again this year (a suspicion that's since been confirmed). So I had already decided to buy a better air purifier, just not on buying one that had been crowdfunded! Sometimes my impulse shopping is like that: at any given time I'll have three or four things that I plan to buy swimming around in my head, then when I randomly stumble upon something that fits the bill, I'll jump on it. $260
12:30 p.m. — I get ramen for lunch, then meet my friend who has an adorable St. Bernard puppy. I think one of the reasons Seattle is such a dog town is that it never gets unbearably hot in the summer, so you can exercise your dog pretty much yearround. We spend the next few hours walking around Queen Anne with the dog. $12
5:30 p.m. — My friend invites me to her house for dinner tonight, so I go home and change, then swing by the grocery store for a nice Pinot. $35
5:45 p.m. — I make another stop at a pet store for cow ears, her dog's favorite treat. $8
8 p.m. — I limit myself to a glass of wine at dinner since I'm driving to the airport to pick up my mom afterwards. I pull up ReachNow and reserve a BMW X1 I'm very much looking forward to checking out when my mom texts me to say she's at the apartment. Her flight came in almost an hour early but she didn't want to “inconvenience” me, so she took an Uber from the airport. I've already paid for the first hour of the car rental, so I decide to make the most of it and drive the entire half mile home. $15
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Daily Total: $335.50

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — My mom is awake when I get up. She's making something that smells delicious out of ingredients I didn't know that I had. Wherever I'm living, she insists on doing the most touristy things possible. I book us two CityPasses, which are good for admission into most of the places she'll enjoy telling my father about when she gets home. $178
8:15 a.m. — Downtown Seattle is busy enough — especially on the weekends — that it's a lot easier to take Ubers than it is to rent a car and drive. In four and a half hours we hit up the Space Needle, aquarium, and the MoPOP. $8
10:30 a.m. — While I'm waiting for my mom in a gift shop, I take time to tweak my shopping list and order groceries for next week. $80
1:30 p.m. — I suggest the International District for a late lunch, but my mom has her heart set on seafood, and also doesn't exactly share my fondness for hole-in-the-wall foodie spots. I'm a fan of the YouTube show “Worth It” and have been meaning to try the salmon places they profiled for their Seattle episode, so we head up to Ivar's Salmon House. It's as delicious as I had hoped. $75
3 p.m. — I think my mom's desire for touristy activities has been sated by our jam-packed morning, so we spend most of the afternoon just walking and talking, ducking into a bodega once for water and snacks. $4.50
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7:30 p.m. — We go home and change before taking an Uber to Aqua, the other spot from the salmon episode. I'm planning on picking up the check. My parents do fine, but I like when they visit and I don't want them to spend a ton of money every time they do. But my mom firmly vetoes and insists on paying. I pick up the Uber home. $20
Daily Total: $365.50

Day Seven

8 a.m. — After breakfast, we rent a Mini and drive up to Snoqualmie to check out the waterfall. I love to drive, and since we're up so early, the roads are relatively empty. There's nothing quite like an open highway with pine forest on both sides, especially when you're driving a car fast enough to appreciate it. $60
10 a.m. — We check out the falls and then have brunch next door at the Salish Lodge, where we both order the eggs benedict with Dungeness crab. Dungeness crab is one of my favorite things about the West Coast. It's like a combination between the snow crab and king crab we ate sometimes on vacation on the Eastern seaboard growing up. Even better with a mimosa and coffee. $105
11:30 a.m. — On the way home, we have a long talk about my side gig, and I mostly listen as my mom talks about the nuances of “dropping out” of the workforce in favor of a DIY experience. Some of my friends automatically assume that because my mom is Asian she would be in favor of me keeping my steady job with the fat stock grants, 401(k) matches, and subsidized benefits. In fact, a lot of Chinese people are far more entrepreneurial than people tend to think, and I give her a lot of credit for considering the big picture and not pushing me one way or the other.
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4:30 p.m. — When we arrive back in Seattle, I take her to the Amazon Go store because it's awesome. We pick up a meal kit and walk out. This time she doesn't have a chance to insist on getting the check. $16.50
Daily Total: $181.50
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