A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $58,000 Salary

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Today: a research coordinator working in medical research who makes $58,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on pho.
Occupation: Research Coordinator
Industry: Medical Research
Age: 26
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $58,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,800 from my job, plus an extra $300 from my parents
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,320 for a small studio apartment walking distance from work
Student Loan Payment: $1,741 for my private loans
Internet: $40
Utilities: ~$110
Orca Card: $15 (I'm very lucky that my work subsidizes transit heavily.)
Gym Membership: $50
Hulu: $13
Netflix: $10

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up and rush out of bed to take my dog for a walk. I'm running a little late, which isn't ideal, as my annual performance evaluation is today! Pup is being finicky, but I still manage to get ready and out the door by 9. I'm lucky to have a highly flexible job that allows me to make my own hours. I walk most of the way to work and then hop onto the trolley, which drops me off right outside my office. My Orca card that I get through work is good for essentially all public transit in Seattle, the only exception being the ferries. I forgot to pack breakfast this morning and am starving, so I stop by the coffee stand and grab a large drip (in a reusable cup so I'm charged for a small) and a scone from the day-old goods basket. I only buy day-old goods from the coffee stand because they're way overpriced normally. $2.87
11:45 a.m. — My performance evaluation went great! My manager said I'm doing a good job and had zero things for me to improve on. I've been taking on a lot more responsibility lately, so I felt brave enough to ask for a promotion. He told me he had to talk to our finance person but that it seemed reasonable. I'm so excited! I've calculated it out, and once I make $70,000 a year (damn this pricey city), I will be living really comfortably and not paycheck-to-paycheck for once. I brought lunch today, so I go sit at my desk and eat my soup and salad while I text my boyfriend the good news. We just started dating and he's incredibly sweet. Life is so exciting right now!
4:45 p.m. — I'm currently trying to decide between ClassPass and my YMCA membership — they both cost the same and it's such a hard choice! I've been putting my Y membership on hold for a few months so I can check out ClassPass. Today I have a heated yoga (NOT hot yoga, I'm not a super human) class right after work. It's at my favorite yoga studio in the city, which is exciting! But it is also right across the street from the apartment my ex and I lived in for three years (and he still lives there). I feel sick to my stomach just being nearby, but I suck it up. I forgot my water bottle at work, ugh. Luckily there's a little market nearby so I stop and grab a bottled water. $3.07
7 p.m. — I run home after yoga and shower — my sister is coming over so we can celebrate her big move abroad! It's exciting but sad, and I'll miss her. I have frozen steaks and crab that my parents gave me — their old neighbor was a crabber (how Pacific Northwest of them) and they had a TON of crab when they moved. I figure it's the perfect occasion to cook it. Since I have dinner handled, my sister brings over stuff for drinks. She forgets mixer, so I offer to grab some from the corner market under my building. I love the guy who works there — he allows dogs, and every time he seems my pup he says "my baby!" I grab two bottles of seltzer and then go back to my place where my sister has finished cooking dinner. We eat and hang out for a few hours before she heads home. $6.57
11:30 p.m. — I'm a little tipsy and end up watching Netflix on the couch with my dog and cat. It's nice but I start getting oddly anxious and decide to call it a night. Lately drinking does that to me sometimes, so I've been trying to cut way down. I'm asleep around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $12.51

Day Two

12 p.m. — I wake up super late and am feeling hungover. It's not the best. My dog is staring at me intensely, as he needs to go out. Having a dog is a bad thing and a good thing when you're hungover — they force you to wake up and go for a walk, which is brutal but good. After the walk, I curl up on the couch and watch Netflix. I'm still not feeling great, so I decide to make ramen for lunch to fill up my stomach.
4 p.m. — I promised my pup that I would take him for a long walk today, so we head down to the sculpture park. It's a pretty nasty day out, but I like watching the waves crash on the rocks and so does he. It isn't a dog park, but he is so good off leash. I see a ton of other dogs running around, so we play fetch for a bit. Since it's a cruddy day, there aren't many runners or people hanging out in the park and we have the whole field to ourselves. While we play and walk, I listen to season one of Serial. I've listened to it before, but I love it so much!
6:45 p.m. — Pup and I have been walking and playing for quite some time now, and I'm getting pretty hungry. It's Saturday night and I don't have any plans, so I decide to use a coupon I got from Domino's to order a Hawaiian pizza for pickup. There's a Domino's right by my apartment, so we grab it on the way home. $9.12
8 p.m. — I have a FlyBarre class in the morning, so tonight I decide to take it easy. I clean my apartment and drink tea (this makes up for the pizza and ramen, right?) while watching The Sinner. I've been having concentration problems recently so it's super hard for me to commit to a TV show, but this one is pretty good so far. My doctor says I might be stressed and need my antidepressants increased, but I really don't want to take anymore. I'm working on relaxing and taking time for myself, which will hopefully help. I end up going to bed at 10 p.m. Barre is really challenging for me and I need all the energy I can get.
Daily Total: $9.12

Day Three

9 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm — so glad I set one! I almost didn't since I went to bed so early but apparently I had a lot of sleep to catch up on. Every day starts the same way — my dog staring at me until I take him on his morning walk. I used to dread this part of the day, but now I love it. The fresh air wakes me up, plus I live right by the water and it smells like the ocean. I have a barre class at 10:45 and don't want to eat beforehand, so I make lemon ginger tea and sip on it while I get ready.
10 a.m. — Right before I head out, I text my friend who is coming over for lunch after that I want to make shakshuka! I have him pick up tomatoes, feta, and bread, and I will grab the rest after class. Working out early in the morning sucks, but working out later in the morning is the best. I'm awake enough but still feel like it's a good start to the day. Walking to class takes about 30 minutes so I head out to ensure I have time to stretch.
11:45 a.m. — Barre is brutal! I love it because I feel so challenged but at the same time it can be really intimidating. I am always very aware that I'm the only Black woman in the room as well as the only one who isn't dressed head to toe in Lululemon. I walk by a Whole Foods on my way home and (very) begrudgingly go inside to buy the rest of the ingredients I need for the shakshuka, plus a couple of things I need for meals this week. Honestly, Whole Foods is not only incredibly expensive, but I am also really not a fan of the whole anti-GMO, gluten-free, organic food scene. There's pretty much no science behind it and the mindset that a lot of people have around it can be very poverty-shaming. I grab just what I need and try to get only things on sale — eggs, tahini, harissa, baby kale, and two cartons of soup. It comes out to way more than I'd like, but I've spent under $100 on groceries this month, so I don't feel too bad about it. $42.22
4 p.m. — I had the best time catching up with my friend! I haven't seen him in so long and it was really great to check in. I make a delicious shakshuka and there's a ton of the leftover tomato sauce to use in meals this week. We end up watching three episodes of The Proposal (ultimate trash TV but I love it) while drinking tea (me) and hot cocoa (him). Afterwards, I'm still sweaty and gross so I decide to make the most of it and deep clean my apartment. I spend about an hour unclogging my vacuum, which has fallen victim to the pet hair in my apartment. I honestly can't keep up with the two of them, they both shed like crazy! I have to clean out the vacuum three times while I clean!
7 p.m. — Once my apartment is clean, I jump in the shower and do my favorite face mask from The Ordinary. It's an acid exfoliant and I swear it does wonders for my skin, plus it's super inexpensive! Now it's dinner time and I want something healthy after Saturday's super heavy meals. I make a serving of bowtie pasta and add it to baby kale, then add a scoop of ricotta, some of the leftover shakshuka tomato sauce, and a fried egg. It's one of the best meals I've had in awhile!
9 p.m. — After dinner and an episode of The Sinner, I take the pup for a longer walk. I like our night walks — the city is all lit up and it's a bit more quiet. I used to hate living in Seattle, but nights like this remind me of how great it can be. When we get back I make another cup of tea and snack on peanut butter, two mini pitas, and strawberries while I play around on my phone. Finally around 10:30 I make a cup of tea and head to bed.
Daily Total: $42.22

Day Four

8 a.m. — Work time! I do the usual morning routine: wake up, walk pup, drink tea, and head out. I have a hard time picking an outfit this morning, so it takes me longer than usual. I really need to get some new work clothes for fall. (Maybe with this paycheck I'll hit up a sale.) Once I'm at the office, I grab my morning coffee and then start working. It's a really slow morning. $1.87
12 p.m. — One thing that is cool (and also very not cool) about my work is that there's always tons of free food. Today, there are free donuts and cupcakes. It's so tempting, but I'm really trying to make changes in what I eat. After my breakup a few months back, I went completely off track and have been feeling sluggish. I want to get back to eating food that makes me feel good! On Saturday, that was pizza, but today that's the salad I brought for lunch.
4 p.m. — The second half of my day was super busy and had me running back and forth from the hospital nonstop. I really want to go home, but ClassPass has Flywheel and FlyBarre classes for only two credits right now (normally they're nine!) so I sign up for a 4:30 class. I LOVE spinning. If a membership wasn't over $300 per month (hi, that is ridiculous) I would get one, but I can't afford it. Even if I could, I don't think I could justify it. I'm always a little nervous before these classes but once the lights dim and the music starts I feel super zen and relaxed. I leave class feeling totally refreshed and walk home.
6 p.m. — I get home and remember that I have a new episode of Insecure to watch! I'm so addicted to this show. It was my replacement for Girls (which I loved despite not loving Lena Dunham so much...) and I really relate to it. I like that the women are more grown up, but they're still imperfect and struggling to make their way in the world. My bestie and I always talk about how relatable it is. Before I sit down to watch it, I decide to take a shower so that I can be really lazy for the rest of the night. Flywheel is a killer workout, so I really need a chill night. After I get out of the shower I realize I'm hungry and a bit dizzy, so I have a snack of seed bread with peanut butter and cherry jam. Yum! This and a large glass of water are the perfect accompaniment to Insecure.
8 p.m. — I clean my apartment a little and then read on my couch. It's small — 450ish square feet, so I feel like I'm always working to keep up the cleaning. I love this place though. It's got a great setup that makes it feel more like a junior one-bedroom than a studio, and it has super tall ceilings, a bay window, and a great view. I lived in the building before I moved in with my ex, so my landlord gave me a killer deal on the rent.
9 p.m. — In classic me fashion, I forget about dinner until it's super late. I don't feel like cooking real food, so I heat up soup that I had leftover from lunch and make a grilled cheese to go with. After dinner I take the pup for his last walk of the day and then head to bed. I've been trying to go to sleep earlier, but it's really hard for some reason. I discussed it with my doctor and she thinks it's stress, which might be true — money is really tight and I am beginning to stress about the holidays already. I don't end up falling asleep until about 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $1.87

Day Five

8 a.m. — I'm running a little later than I'd like this morning, so it's an awesome treat when my dog does his business right away! As I start walking to work, my phone is already dinging with work emails coming in. I open one and it's from a notoriously rude person and (shocker) the email is very rude. I can already tell it's going to be one of those days. I don't wear a lot of makeup (just an easy brow fill-in and mascara), so most days I do it on the trolley. Since the day is already rough and I'm completely zapped of energy, I grab coffee and a scone. I'm a bit of a coffee and tea addict these days. It's a new thing for me, but I like the ritual of it a lot. $3.87
12 p.m. — The emails keep pouring in.
1:45 p.m. — Okay now I'm hungry, and because I was running late today, I forgot my lunch. They have kinda tasty taco salads at my work, and I definitely want something a little lighter, so that will do. The only thing is that the food at my job is so expensive, and I really hate buying lunch. I'm just giving them back my paycheck! $8.82
4:30 p.m. — After work, I jump on the trolley and go home. It's been awhile since the pup and I went to the park, so I change, grab him, and head out. One of my favorite old coworkers texts me asking if I want to go to happy hour, but I decline. I'm still really mad at myself for buying breakfast and lunch yesterday and it's definitely not in my budget. I was a first-generation college student and when I took my loans out, my parents told me that the loan companies work with you. I wish we would've known better. I have all private loans because my parents have poor credit and couldn't co-sign a federal loan, so I had to have my grandfather co-sign. It's not fun having the entire extended family extremely involved in my finances, but I'm lucky that my parents are able to help me a bit and that I have a job where I can afford the rest. I always remind myself that it could be a lot worse.
7 p.m. — It starts to get dark out, so I pack up my stuff and the doggo and I walk home from the park to make dinner. On the way home I call my mom, who has been struggling with mental health issues lately. She's always been my best friend, so it's hard to deal with.
8:30 p.m. — For dinner, I eat a giant quesadilla and beans. I text my boyfriend about my conversation with my mom and cry a little bit. Then I take my dog on his last walk of the day and buy a pint of ice cream at the store, which I end up putting on the counter and accidentally leaving out while I lay in bed and mope. I fall asleep at about 1 a.m. $6.49
Daily Total: $19.18

Day Six

9:30 a.m. — I end up getting to work at around 9:30 and head straight to the coffee stand where I get my usual drip. I work downstairs in the coffee shop area on my laptop. It's a nice change of pace and I always end up talking to people who I know, which is fun. $1.87
12 p.m. — Lunch is once again soup. At least this time it's not butternut! I add cooked rice to it so I can make one box last for three or four meals. This time I have a curried lentil soup, and it's delicious. While I eat my lunch (a packet of ramen I happened to have in my purse), I can't stop thinking about money. My doctor emailed me to check in and see if I've gone to see a therapist yet, and I tell her I can't afford the copay but that I'm trying to remain positive. She suggests I check out the financial assistance her office offers, but I don't qualify because I make too much. Making a lot of money but having none is a weird thing.
5 p.m. — By the time work is over, I'm still not feeling great, but decide to fake it 'til I make it. My boyfriend is coming over tonight and we're having a little date night at home! I haven't seen him for a week and a half because he was out of town, and I can't wait. I go to Safeway after work to grab stuff for dinner. I'm roasting a chicken and veggies. He grabs stuff for drinks so I don't have to worry about that. $22.86
6:30 p.m. — I end up walking home from Safeway...with a chicken. It's about a mile but by the time I get home, I'm a little sweaty and need to fix my hair and makeup. We are still in the honeymoon stage of things, so even though we're staying at home, I want to look nice. I slip into my best "I didn't try that hard I just look this amazing lounging around the house" outfit and turn on The Office while I wait for him to arrive. As soon as I sit down I realize I'm starving, so I grab strawberries from the fridge to snack on.
9 p.m. — We have a super late start to making dinner but I don't care, I've missed him and it's so much fun to just hang out and drink in my apartment. I toss the chicken in the oven and set a timer. We put on an episode of American Horror Story but are too caught up in each other to pay any attention.
Daily Total: $24.73

Day Seven

9 a.m. — I wake up totally confused and disoriented...apparently four drinks after eating nothing but a pack of ramen all day isn't the best idea. I'm so embarrassed and can't remember anything about last night after about midnight! My boyfriend is so sweet and tries not to make me feel bad about it, downplaying all of the embarrassing things I did. (He's a saint.) At first I feel fine, but after about 20 minutes I'm hit with the worst hangover I've had in recent memory.
12 p.m. — Originally the plan was to go to my sister's house this morning and grab things she's giving me before she moves, but it's not least not right now. I can hardly move, let alone carry boxes to my top floor apartment, so I tell her it will be awhile. My boyfriend goes and pays for more parking and grabs us bagels from the corner deli while I lay in bed, questioning my decision-making skills.
2 p.m. — Two episodes of American Horror Story later and I'm not feeling great, but my sister is starting to get mad that I'm not there yet, so it's time to pull it together. We walk a few blocks to the local pho place. It was my boyfriend's suggestion and in theory seems like the perfect hangover food, but my body is just not ready yet. I sip on broth and have a few bites of noodles but immediately know it's not sitting well. I end up picking up the bill because I feel so bad about last night. $30
4:45 p.m. — We make it home from my sister's place and I have to face the reality of carrying boxes up to my apartment while I'm still not feeling well. My boyfriend makes two trips and I make one because he can tell I'm really hurting. Originally he was going to go home to finish up homework, but we end up getting back right around rush hour so he decides to just study at my place. It gives me time to nap and by the time he's done I'm feeling 100% better.
8 p.m. — It's getting late so I decide to make us my favorite meal for dinner — chickpeas in tomato sauce served over rice. It's super cheap, healthy, and tasty. While it's cooking, I start to unpack the stuff my sister gave me. There are a ton of spices and hair products (score!) as well as everyday items like plastic wrap. The pièce de résistance is her giant flat screen TV that I'm babysitting while she's gone. It looks absolutely ridiculous in my tiny apartment, but the screen is so much better than my old one.
9 p.m. — We finish up eating and my boyfriend heads home. I miss him a little bit already! I'm sure last night wasn't that bad, but I am so mortified. I decide that I need to stop beating myself up about it, so I try to salvage the night by doing a hair mask and face mask and cuddling on the couch with my pup. I end up going to bed later than I'd like, around 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $30
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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