A Week In L.A. On A $32,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. Each week, we ask a millennial woman how she spends her hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last cent. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.) This week, a Los Angeles woman working in a computer store, mourning David Bowie.
Industry: Tech
Location: Lives in West Hollywood; works on Melrose
Salary: $32,000
Age: 24
Roommates: 1 Monthly Expenses:
Rent, utilities, and internet: $900
Car payment: $288
Car insurance: $80

Day One

1 p.m. — Drink (bad) office coffee, and for lunch I grab a spinach feta wrap from Starbucks. $3.25 3 p.m. — I'm craving something salty, so I get Cheez-Its from a vending machine. $1.50 4 p.m. — I find tickets to a Bowie tribute night. David Bowie was my teenage idol, and it feels wrong not to do something in the wake of his death. $25 7 p.m. — I get home from work and realize I'm out of cat food. I don't want to drive anywhere else, so I walk to a convenience store on Sunset and pay way too much for a few cans of cat food and a bottle of water. $9.80 Total: $39.55

Day Two

10 a.m. — Forgot my reusable water bottle this morning and didn’t want to make multiple trips to the break room, so I walk to get a liter of water from a store near my office. $2.79 1 p.m. — Lunch at Stir Crazy (my favorite coffee shop). I buy a cheap but good sandwich and a cup of coffee. $5.80 9 p.m. — It is a friend’s boyfriend’s birthday at The Dresden. I'm not hungry, but order two glasses of Merlot. $24 Total: $32.59

Day Three

1 p.m. — Lunch at Stir Crazy again. $5.80 8 p.m. — I walk to Pavilions and pick up a few sad Lean Cuisines for dinner. $9.50 Total: $15.30

Day Four

10 a.m. — Coffee from Stir Crazy. $2.25 8 p.m. — This one I regret. My current dinosaur laptop is going out on me, and I occasionally edit YouTube videos and shorts, so I go into a third-party Apple store (my first mistake) with the intention of browsing. The sales people are pushy, so I walk out with a good computer (upgraded to 16 GB RAM, 500 GB storage, and two graphic cards; so great for light editing). The terms of the financing were terrible, though. They only asked for $40 down, and I told them I could do more, but they kept pushing that I could make overpayments to the finance company later. $40 10 p.m. — I go to Pavilions again for cat food and water. $9.80 Total: $52.05

Day Five

1 p.m. — Lunch at Stir Crazy. In light of yesterday’s purchase I decide to cut down on extra coffee and snacks. $5.80 Total: $5.80

Day Six

2 p.m. — I go to Amoeba to shop for my boyfriend’s birthday presents. I buy Kim Gordon’s memoir, a few Criterion films, a Bowie T-shirt, and a few CDs. $119 3 p.m. — I go to Target to get some cleaning supplies, face wash, toothpaste, lotion, and more cat food. I’m not quite sure how I spend so much, but that always happens at Target. $78.38 Total: $197.38

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I get gas. I always feel guilty about the amount I use, so I stop before it's full. It's silly because I always end up using the same amount, of course, and just have to stop more often. $25 8 p.m. — I pick up a cheap bottle of wine before heading to a friend's house; my friend is going to the Bowie tribute as well. $10 10 p.m. — We get to The Echo, and I order an old fashioned. It's $12 and disgusting. The bartender didn’t muddle the fruit, and it just tastes like watery bourbon. To make up for it, I order a whiskey sour and dance the rest of the night. $21 Total: $56
The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day.
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