A Week In Silicon Valley, CA, On A $78,000 Salary

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Today: a mechanical design engineer working in tech who makes $78,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a Beauty Blender.
Occupation: Mechanical Design Engineer
Industry: Technology
Age: 24
Location: Silicon Valley, CA
Salary: $78,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,197
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,200 for my room in a two-bedroom apartment that I share with one roommate
Student Loan Payment: $442
Car Insurance: $100
Gym Membership: $150 (includes coaching and programming)
Internet: $25
Utilities: ~$60
Netflix: $0 (I use my family's account.)
Phone Bill: $0 (I'm on my parents' plan.)
401(k): I contribute 5% of my paycheck, which my company matches.
Savings: $400

Day One

7 a.m. — I wake up, scroll through Instagram and Facebook for 20 minutes, shower, and get ready for work. I make a strawberry, blueberry, and spinach smoothie and grab rice Chex to take with me to the office. I have to renew my car registration for the year, and since I also moved, I have to mail it in to complete the change of address. $109
8:30 a.m. — Make it into the office, finish my smoothie and cereal while checking emails and updating my to-do list.
12:30 p.m. — I eat lunch outside with a couple of coworkers. I brought in a salad for lunch today — base of spring mix topped with shrimp, rice noodles, veggies, and avocado. I like making my own salad dressing, so last night I mixed up lemon juice, sesame oil, almond butter, coconut aminos, and turmeric. Yum! We all go for a walk after lunch.
4 p.m. — I'm bored and hungry, so cue the snacking. I have carrots I brought from home and a bag of potato chips from the snack jar at work.
6 p.m. — I leave work and head straight to the gym. I follow a powerlifting program, so tonight it's for squats, deadlifts, glute-ham raises, and reverse hypers. I like to take my time in between sets and talk with everyone at the gym, so I'm typically there for two hours. My roommate thinks it's crazy how much time I spend there, but I really like working out, and it's somewhat social for me, too.
8:30 p.m. — I bought a giant container of spring mix over the weekend, so I'm on a salad kick so it doesn't go bad. Tonight, I top the lettuce with a can of tuna mixed with mayo, avocado, and pumpkin seeds for crunch. Then I eat a couple of Lindt truffles and watch Sugar Rush on Netflix (I'm having serious Food Network withdrawals now that I don't have cable anymore) before falling asleep around 10.
Daily Total: $109

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up just before my alarm goes off (love when this happens) and immediately change into running clothes and get a quick 2.5 miles in.
8 a.m. — I shower, get dressed, and start my makeup routine. I typically spend 15 minutes doing my makeup every day. Recently I've been wishing I had clear skin so I could just do my eyebrows and put on mascara, but a layer of foundation helps with my confidence. Adult acne sucks :(. I make another smoothie for breakfast, this time with pineapple and strawberry. Then I'm off to work.
9 a.m. — I make a cup of coffee at the office because #HumpDay. I wanted to curb my caffeine addiction after college, so I try to only drink coffee (usually decaf) a couple days a week. It just tastes so good!
11:30 a.m. — My company caters lunch on Wednesdays, so I take the free meal even if it's not my favorite. I get Spanish rice and lettuce. I go for a walk with coworkers after eating, and they try to convince me to sign up for a duathlon. I'm not quite sold…
2:30 p.m. — That lunch did not fill me up (not surprising), so throughout the rest of the afternoon I snack on an orange, a bag of veggie chips, salt and vinegar potato chips, and a Kind bar, all from the snack jars that the office stocks.
6 p.m. — I was going to join in on playing volleyball at a nearby park with colleagues, but I feel sick and lightheaded, so I head home to lie down for a bit. My mom calls me on the way home, and I wish I could go home. All my family is back on the east coast, and living so far away has been a lot harder than I thought it would be.
7:30 p.m. — Tonight I make spring rolls for dinner. A friend recently showed me how, and they are so much easier to make than I thought! I fill rice paper with lettuce, rice noodles, shrimp, carrots, mint, and avocado. Then I make a dipping sauce with almond butter, sesame oil, and coconut aminos.
8 p.m. — I'm obsessed with Big Brother, and I'm trying to get my roommate to like it, so I force her to watch tonight. I think she's finally coming around to it. I have a handful (or two) of chocolate chips while we watch.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Wake up early to hit the gym before work. Today's workout is tons of bench press variations (my least favorite lift), but I'm proud of myself for getting it all done.
9 a.m. — Work time. I bring in pineapple, almonds, and granola for breakfast.
12:30 p.m. — Same salad from home that I had on Tuesday for lunch. After eating outside, the weather is just too perfect to go back in, so I go for a walk with two coworkers.
4 p.m. — I'm going to be a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding, and she and the other bridesmaids are looking at bridesmaid dresses, so I Skype in to help. The bride's given us freedom in terms of style, so I'm trying to stay under $150, since the wedding is going to be expensive with flying across the country a couple of times. But it's definitely worth it for my best friend!
5:30 p.m. — We have a run-beer tradition at work where a bunch of coworkers go for a run and then we all share beers and snacks. I end up running over five miles! I pick up an oatmeal stout from Sprouts to share with the group. Beer isn't my favorite, but I try a few that other people brought and find myself enjoying a light wheat beer. $6
8 p.m. — I finish up my container of spring mix by making a giant salad for dinner. Planning out my meals has made me so much better at using all my produce before it goes bad. I top the salad with tuna, mayo, avocado, cucumber, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, and a red wine vinaigrette.
9 p.m. — Another night, another Big Brother episode. I have a coffee mochi from Trader Joe's and chocolate chips for dessert while watching.
Daily Total: $6

Day Four

7:30 — I stayed up later than usual last night, so I let myself sleep in. After showering, makeup, and putting on clothes, I make a smoothie for breakfast. I'm running low on my foundation, so I start a list for a Sephora order. I'll wait until I hit the minimum for free shipping to order.
9:30 a.m. — I make a decaf coffee with coconut creamer that I brought in before my team meeting and grab a Nature Valley bar from the snack jars.
12 p.m. — Most people in the office go out for lunch on Fridays and I would normally join, but my IBS has been flaring up lately, so I'd rather not eat out today. I prepped a super basic lunch last night of rice and frozen veggies. I add a lot of spices so it's not as bland. I'm seeing a new GI doctor soon, so hopefully I'll start feeling better!
4 p.m. — Snack on carrots and a bag of potato chips.
6 p.m. — It's finally the weekend! For dinner, I fill tortillas with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, Daiya cheddar and avocado.
8 p.m. — After browsing the Sephora website, I place an order for my Too Faced foundation and a new Beauty Blender. $61.04
9 p.m. — My roommate and I head to Pinkberry for dessert. I get the coconut swirl with strawberries, almonds, granola, and chocolate chips. We watch an episode of The Proposal before falling asleep. That show makes me cringe so much, but I kinda enjoy it. $6.50
Daily Total: $67.54

Day Five

9 a.m. — I can't believe how long I slept! I guess my body needed the extra rest after a long week. I make oatmeal and eggs for breakfast.
11 a.m. — I head to the gym for deadlifts and squats and lots of accessory work. People often bring their dogs with them, and my favorite pup is here today! I definitely want to get a dog, but I just don't have the time right now.
1 p.m. — I stop at Trader Joe's on the way back from the gym to stock up on groceries for the week. I pick up baby spinach, spring mix, oranges, almond milk, eggs, olive oil, tuna, root vegetable chips, frozen spinach, frozen broccoli, frozen strawberries, brown rice pasta, chocolate chips, granola, a six-pack of IPA for my roommate, and a roll of quarters for doing laundry. After putting away the groceries, I throw in a load of laundry. In my building, it costs $3.75 (!!!?!) in quarters to do a single load, so I always wait as long as I possibly can before doing it. I make a quesadilla with Daiya cheese and avocado on the side for lunch. $65.47
3:30 p.m. — I'm going to the Giants game tonight, so I quickly shower and get ready to head out to the Caltrain. I Venmo my friend for my ticket ($19.75) and buy my roundtrip train ticket at the station ($16.50). Apparently drinking is totally legal on the train, so I bring a couple hard seltzers for the ride. $36.25
5 p.m. — We get to SF early and head to a bar before the game starts. I order a watermelon wheat ale, and it is delicious. My roommate pays because she owes me for the beer from earlier. We walk to the stadium and find our seats. My friend picks up popcorn and pretzels for everyone to share, and I Venmo him $5 after the game. $5
8:30 p.m. — We head to a tequila bar. I just order water because I feel like I've already had enough alcohol to drink today. I'm pretty tired so I start yawning, which makes the bartender yawn. He insists we do a couple of shots together to wake up, and he says they're on the house. I'm definitely a lightweight, and the shots hit me hard and fast. I realize I haven't eaten enough tonight, so we head out to grab something to eat.
10:50 p.m. — Finding drunk food is unsuccessful (why does everything close so early??) and I'm very upset about it. We catch the train back home and attempt to sober up, sans fries or pizza.
1 a.m. — My friend drives us home from the station and I immediately pass out.
Daily Total: $106.72

Day Six

9 a.m. — Definitely feeling a little hungover this morning. Definitely didn't need the shots, but it was a good time. I have an orange, then make oatmeal and eggs for breakfast and eat while I watch Sugar Rush on Netflix.
11 a.m. — Feeling like death still, so I make a cup of coffee to revive myself. Still in bed, still watching Netflix.
12 p.m. — I walk to Target to get fresh air and a few necessities (dish soap, deodorant, and face lotion) and a few fun items (s'mores granola and a jean jacket). I call my mom on the walk home. I'm going home in less than a month, and I'm very excited! Once I get back to my apartment, I make a half quesadilla and have veggie chips and granola for lunch. $51.62
3 p.m. — I've been messaging this guy on Hinge for a while, and we finally found a time to get together. We meet at Peet's and then head out to hike for a couple hours. I realize wearing grey was a poor choice, but he doesn't judge me for my pit stains and back sweat. It's not cute.
7 p.m. — We're both starving, so we grab a bite to eat at a local pizza place. He gets a reuben, I get a fish sandwich, and we share fries. He pays. We have good conversation, so I'm definitely open to a second date to see if the chemistry is there.
8 p.m. — Another day, another Big Brother episode. I watch with my roommate while eating chocolate chips. I'm so exhausted from hiking that I pass out soon after the episode.
Daily Total: $51.62

Day Seven

5:30 a.m. — Snooze my alarm once and then head out for the gym. My gaslight comes on, but hopefully I can make it to work and back before refilling. At the gym, I bench again and do upper body accessory work.
9 a.m. — I shower and get ready at the gym, and then head to work. I grab an orange and eat some of the granola I bought over the weekend.
1 p.m. — I only eat half the lunch I packed of rice, frozen veggies, spices, and half an avocado. Afterwards I go for a quick walk and scroll through my Instagram along the way.
4 p.m. — I realize I missed a birth control pill over the weekend when I start getting crampy, and I'm praying I don't get any breakthrough bleeding. Not a great day to wear light-colored pants. I'm hungry again, so I finish the rest of my lunch and have an orange for a snack. I get a terrible stomachache and take Tums to try to help it.
7 p.m. — I stop for gas and a car wash on the way home. At the pump, the receipt doesn't print and I need the code for the wash, so I go inside the store to get it. There's a huge line and by the time I get it, they've closed the car wash. Ughhh, now I'll have to come back later for the wash. $49.05
8 p.m. — My stomach is still killing me, but I know I should still eat dinner. I make an egg scramble for dinner with tomato, spinach, cheese, and avocado. I put on a pot of rice for part of lunch tomorrow. My roommate and I watch The Bachelorette (it's the Men Tell All episode), but turn it off after an hour because Jordan and all the arguing is so annoying.
9 p.m. — I have a couple squares of dark chocolate while I watch old Jenna Marbles videos on YouTube. Before heading to bed, I pack my stuff for the gym in the morning again.
Daily Total: $49.05
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