A Week In Washington, D.C., On $26.94 Per Hour

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Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today, an analyst working in government who makes $26.94 per hour and spends some of her money this week on a shot of vodka.
Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 29
Location: Washington, D.C.
Income: $26.94/hour ($56,233 per year.)
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,600 after federal, state, and social security tax
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,000 for a furnished English studio basement, including utilities. I live alone.
Student Loans: $485 for my graduate school loan
Health Insurance: $83.88 per paycheck
Spotify: $10
Netflix: $0 (I use my parents' account.)
MetroCard: $30-$50. I get $130 put on for work every month and add more toward the end of the month when I run out.
Gym: $13 every two weeks for my work's gym
Yoga: $0 in exchange for episodic labor
Retirement Savings: I have a defined contribution plan ($225/paycheck with a $100 match) and a defined benefit pension ($61/paycheck with a $250 match).
Savings: $70/paycheck to emergencies, $20/paycheck to vacations. I pay for vacations with my 25th and 26th paychecks.
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Day One

7 a.m. — I'm teleworking today. Breakfast is a fried-egg sandwich with cheddar cheese, cucumber, grated carrot, onion, lettuce, beet, and mayo. I work for a few hours on a database and then make lunch: noodles with a peanut butter/black vinegar/sesame oil/chili paste sauce, plus chopped cucumber tomato, onion, and garlic. No one calls me all day, so I am able to really focus on the quality-control grind.
4 p.m. — I'm supposed to meet my parents right as my work day ends, but they're running late from lunch with my grandmother. I take the Metro to Gallery Place and pop into the American Art Museum. They have a great exhibit right now on Bill Traylor, a self-taught artist born into slavery who began his artistic career at 85.
6:30 p.m. — My parents call me after about 30 minutes and we meet at Rasika, where we get the pre-theater menu and share everything. The winners in my opinion are the palak chaat (fried spinach with yogurt) and gulab jamun doughnuts with cardamom ice cream. I have a Scotch-based cocktail. My parents pay.
8 p.m. — We are seeing Richard III at the Shakespeare Theater ($0, my parents pay). I remember reading this as a high schooler and disliking it, but I enjoy the performance. I buy my mom and myself coffees during intermission ($7), and I end up going to sleep around 1 a.m. $7
Daily Total: $7

Day Two

10 a.m. — Breakfast is cheesy eggs, buttered toast, and coffee. My dad drives us to Hillwood, which is a mansion that was owned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, the General Foods heiress ($18, my parents pay). She was the wife of the American ambassador to the Soviet Union in the late 1930s and rich as hell, so she collected imperial Russian pieces at fire-sale prices. Once my parents drop me off back at home, I eat an Anzac biscuit and a mini cupcake left over from my mom's mahjong game.
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4 p.m. — My friend comes over to watch movies. I've done something awful to my Roku, which refuses to connect to the Wi-Fi, so we have to use my laptop. We watch a horror movie called Malevolent (ehh) and three episodes of Russian Doll. We eat a whole pizza ($12), plus a mini cupcake each. $12
Daily Total: $12

Day Three

7 a.m. — The plan was to do yoga and brunch, but the first thing I do is cancel the yoga class. I spend the morning cooking so I'll have something to eat for dinner, but my friend texts to see if I'd like dinner with her tonight.
1:30 p.m. — I'm meeting friends from grad school in Clarendon for brunch. I make a pit stop at Trader Joe's for red wine, corn nuts, dried orange-flavored cranberries, and a candle that smells like lemon cookies ($17). I see my friend on the road and we stop by Kung Fu Tea, where I get a taro milk tea with bubbles ($5). $22
2 p.m. — Brunch at Ambar with three friends from school. It's a Serbian small-plates place, and we order à la carte instead of getting bottomless. We get dips, cevapi and eggs, a cheese pie, shopska salad, mushroom pilaf, and a pitcher of a vodka–mandarin orange drink. One of the girls brought specialty chocolates, and I eat two of those as well. $32
6 p.m. — I go over to my friend's apartment. I was in the Peace Corps with this friend, and we get together often to drink kava, a South Pacific beverage that tastes like spicy dirt but chills you out. I ordered a pound of Fijian kava from Amazon Prime a few weeks ago, and it was only $45, which for kava is a steal. We agree that it tastes fresher than a lot of the Vanuatu and Tonga kava we've been drinking lately. The three of us have a few shells of kava and wash the taste out with cheese and corn nuts, then drink wine and eat meatball sandwiches. I feel pretty tipsy on the Metro home and chat with my boyfriend on the phone on the walk.
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Daily Total: $54

Day Four

8 a.m. — It's Presidents' Day, so I don't have work. I eat leftover orzo for breakfast before going to a 90-minute yoga class. I'm late since the green line is terrible (16-minute delays?!), but luckily the teacher is, too. I ask if we can do a lot of back bends, and I get to practice my weirdest pose. Afterward, I walk to Target, where I buy mildew spray, soap-scum cleaner, oxygen bleach, a dustpan and broom, eight pants hangers, a scrub brush, and a wrinkle releaser ($56.35). I take the bus home and attack the shower with everything I bought. After 30 minutes, it looks so much better that I regret my earlier life living in filth. $56.35
5:30 p.m. — I eat three little rice bowls of the orzo with cheese on top.
7:30 p.m. — I Metro to my ballet class ($18.50). My New Year's goal was to invest in myself, both in terms of money and in terms of personal development. I used to be a dancer, but for years I've either been overseas or in graduate school. After class, the teacher promises me that it'll all come back to me with time, and I hope so — the muscle memory just isn't there anymore. The weather is okay, so I walk home instead of taking the Metro and then watch The Great British Bake Off until I'm ready to sleep. $18.50
Daily Total: $74.85

Day Five

6 a.m. — For breakfast, I have oatmeal with dried cranberries and almond butter, followed by a coffee. Work makes me feel very scatterbrained — I have lots of meetings all day and no time to really focus on longer projects. I am relatively new at my job and am still in the learning process. At my desk, I have orzo, a Coke Zero, five Hershey's Kisses, a caramel chocolate, and an apple.
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6 p.m. — I stop at the gym for a quick round of weight lifting, then go to Chipotle for dinner since I figure it'll be almost the same price to go home and back anyway. I order a salad with black beans, fajita vegetables, guacamole, mild salsa, hot salsa, corn, and lettuce ($8.37). Disaster strikes in the form of a small rock in my bowl. I decide not to talk to the manager, because what are they going to do — give me a new salad? I already don't want this one. This is why my mom says to pick through dry beans before you cook them! I throw the rest of the salad away and stop at Pret a Manger for a yogurt with granola and blueberry compote ($4.39). Next time I'm bringing my dinner, eating at work, saving money, and avoiding rocks. $12.76
8 p.m. — In this week's Spanish class ($8), we are discussing indigeneity in Latin America. We all have to give a short speech, and I talk about the Yaqui nation. $8
Daily Total: $20.76

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — I get up late, since the government is closed due to inclement weather and I can telework. For breakfast I eat orzo, since it's there.
12 p.m. — I spend the day working on a newsletter. I stop to make lunch: fried pork schnitzel, mashed turnips, and cabbage salad with cilantro dressing from Trader Joe's.
4:30 p.m. — As the work day ends, I throw a quick cheese bread into my toaster oven. Looks bad, tastes good. Then I eat an early dinner of cheese bread with a little salad of tuna, spinach, kohlrabi, capers, and tomatoes.
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6 p.m. — I take the Metro to yoga. Yoga class is good, but we do a lot of standing splits, which are not my favorite. Afterward, I stop at Trader Joe's to do a big shop for the week ahead: Romaine lettuce, kale, oranges, pomelos, red onion, cucumber, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion salt, Parmesan, whole milk, whole milk vanilla yogurt, frozen berries, and two bottles of wine ($59.32). Then I take the bus home. I drink some vermouth and call my boyfriend, who is flying in tomorrow for a long weekend. $59.32
Daily Total: $59.32

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Breakfast is overnight oats with chia seeds, flax seeds, raisins, almond butter, and milk. Today at work I have two somewhat creative projects to push out, which is a nice change from working with data. I also get paid with another weird paycheck due to the shutdown. I pay my rent and buy $150 in Vanguard ETFs. $150
12 p.m. — Lunch is salad with tuna and a few pieces of the quick bread while answering emails. I also eat like six or eight Hershey's Kisses since they were in my desk, along with two little oranges. Later in the afternoon, I take my lunch break and go to the gym to lift weights.
5 p.m. — My boyfriend has landed! We meet at Mari Vanna in Dupont to take $4 shots of flavored vodka and split lamb pastries ($16). I get horseradish and honey-pepper. This is a late Valentine's trip, and we're doing a mystery date, so I don't know where we're going for dinner. I booked him a flying lesson for tomorrow morning, which he has no idea about. $16
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8 p.m. — Dinner is at Café Milano in Georgetown. I met my boyfriend in Italy, so this is really nostalgic for me. I have a burrata salad, strozzapreti cacio e pepe, white wine, and tiramisu. He pays. He also pays for the Uber there and home, too.
Daily Total: $166
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