A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $32,000 Salary

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: a digital publishing representative working in publishing who makes $32,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a glass of rosé.
Occupation: Digital Publishing Representative
Industry: Publishing
Age: 23
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $32,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $998
Gender Identity: She/her/hers
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 (I'm moving in with a roommate, and she'll pay $1,200. We're moving into a two-bedroom, but I have a smaller bedroom, brought most of our furniture, and I have to walk through her room to get to the kitchen/living area.)
Student Loans: $0 (My parents are helping me pay them off until I'm able to take it over.)
Cell Phone: $0 (I'm on my family's plan.)
Utilities: ~$100 (for gas, electric, and Wi-Fi)
Spotify & Hulu: $10
Netflix: $0 (My parents pay for our family plan.)
Amazon Prime: $0 (I'm on my family's plan.)
MetroCard: ~$50 (I top off when I need, only using the Metro after work and on the weekends.)
Insurance: $0 (I'm still on my family's insurance for a few more years.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — My bird-chirping alarm goes off, but I snooze for 10 minutes before I get up. I jump out of bed and put together my lunch for work today (yesterday's leftovers of pulled pork over chickpeas, brown rice, and black beans with a little tikka masala sauce). I also pour some iced tea I made last night into my dependable mason jar. I brush my teeth, wash my face, get that skin care on — toner, vitamin C serum, aloe for my Memorial Day weekend sunburn, moisturizer with sunscreen (hydrate that dry skin ASAP), some light layers of BB cream, concealer, blush, highlight, brow gel, and mascara. Grab ChapStick (I take it everywhere!), grab my lunch, and head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — I live in a one-bedroom apartment now, but I'm moving to D.C. in three days! My commute from both apartments to work is around 30 minutes.
9 a.m. — Get into the office, turn on my computer, check my email, write down my tasks for the day, and hop on my phone to catch up on social media. I usually do this until my boss comes in, but this week she's out of town for work.
9:30 a.m. — I finally stop distracting myself with Instagram Stories and settle in to answer my emails and begin getting through conversion orders for e-books. With my boss gone this week, I take over some of the orders and work on some of my own clients, too.
12 p.m. — I make more tea and bring my food back to my desk. I can work through lunch and get off an hour early, so I do this on days I'm not eating with my one work friend.
2 p.m. — Feeling that afternoon burnout, I start snacking and pick an uplifting playlist on Spotify. I start planning the weekend's moving schedule in my head and write down a few reminders. Then I spend a while trying to explain Excel spreadsheets to a client, and end up redoing their work anyway.
4 p.m. — I leave work an hour early and head to Target. I buy a pair of denim shorts, some frozen vegetables, a white metal tray for my jewelry and makeup in my new apartment, and a candle and birthday card for my new roomie. I head home to start on all the packing and start sorting clothes and knickknacks and separating them into boxes. I'm so excited to move into the city with my friend — living alone was nice for privacy but depressing for my social life. $75
6 p.m. — I heat up a frozen veggie pad Thai. I'm trying to use up what I have so I can move less food. Sweet chili sauce saves this sad meal. While I make dinner, I call my parents so we can talk about moving logistics since they're kind enough to help me out.
9 p.m. — I heat up some water for chamomile tea. (I drink it pretty much every night before bed, but sometimes I take a melatonin gummy instead.) Brush teeth, wash face, night skin routine (serum, some more aloe, moisturizer, eye cream), and fall asleep to an episode my favorite bedtime-story podcast, Nothing Much Happens.
Daily Total: $75

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I skip the snooze this morning 'cause I have a lot of errands to run today and want to get to work earlier. I use a very generous amount of dry shampoo and stick to the basics in makeup (but I don't skimp on that moisturizer). More iced tea and leftover pulled pork and beans for lunch, and I head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — I get into the office, open my email, and get down to it. My workload has been pretty slow lately, but this gives me time to figure out my plans for the day. I have to get some more packing done and hit up the Ikea I'm lucky to live across the street from.
12 p.m. — I'm eating lunch at my desk again but forgot extra tea bags for my afternoon pick-me-up. I munch on my pork, beans, and rice but wish I brought some sweet chili sauce with me.
4 p.m. — I leave work and head straight to Ikea. I love researching Ikea hacks, so I'm overwhelmed by the amazing options. I already have a couch, shower curtain, kitchen supplies, and bed linens from Ikea, but I need to pick up two pairs of curtains, some baskets, and a TV stand. I also grab one of those big mason jars with glass lids for fancier instant ramen at work. $133
6 p.m. — I take a break from packing and make another quick dinner of microwave pad Thai. Slim pickings, but it'll be nice to get rid of some stuff. I call the gas company to confirm they're meeting my roommate tomorrow morning to turn on the gas. They didn't show up last time, so I'm nervous they'll skip out again. Turns out that they lost our appointment again, so I reschedule. I also text the couple of friends who volunteered to help me move and go over timing with them.
9 p.m. — I take a quick shower and go to bed early, this time to soothing thunderstorm sounds.
Daily Total: $133

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Get up and it's the usual. I'm antsy for tonight, as I have a ton of packing left to do and a couple loads of laundry. Brush hair, wash face, light makeup, a little bit more aloe. Sunburn is a cold-hearted bitch. Oh, the irony.
9 a.m. — I get to work and it's super quiet. I turn on my computer and catch up on Twitter as it loads. Only a few emails to answer but a number of conversion orders. I get to it.
12 p.m. — Lunch today is a Southwest-style salad with corn and little tortilla strips. I finish my tea but wish I had more.
2:30 p.m. — I text with my roommate all day about logistics for tomorrow and pay my part of the month's rent ($800). I check my Mint app to make sure that my budgeting is okay with all the shopping I've been doing to prepare for the move, in addition to my rent payment. I'm over budget this month, but I blame it on moving. I'll get back on track next month.
4 p.m. — I head home and get finished with packing. I don't know how it all fits in a few boxes.
6 p.m. — Small dinner again because my tummy is bubbling with anxiety for tomorrow. It'll be fine, but dang, moving is so stressful.
9 p.m. — I hop into bed and catch up on the Game of Thrones documentary I missed a couple weeks ago. The final table read is a mood.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — Today's the day! I wake up, pack up the last of my toiletries, and get down to business. I eat a portable banana for breakfast as I'm running around taping up boxes and cleaning countertops. I listen to Lizzo's album as I clean to pump me up for the day. My parents arrive with a van to help me load everything up.
12 p.m. — All of my big furniture is packed in the van, and we head out to my new apartment! I text my friends and my roommate that we're on the way.
1 p.m. — Parking in D.C. is a fiasco. I got a parking permit to take the spaces right in front of our apartment to make moving easier (which cost $50), but the signs I hung up are gone. We pull right up to my house anyway, and my friends are waiting outside for us. We all just grab something and start moving. Our new apartment is a third-floor apartment in a brownstone, so it's cute and has character but is pretty old and has no elevator.
3:30 p.m. — All of my stuff is moved in! Now we use the rest of the afternoon to unpack everything and set up my bed, furniture, and decorations. We still have another smaller run to my old place to throw away trash and recycling, but it's pretty much settled. I take my parents and sister to a nearby Cuban restaurant, but my parents pay as celebration that I won't be moving again for more than a year. I will be dreaming about empanadas and sangria tonight.
5 p.m. — My mom sages our new apartment before she leaves as a way to get rid of all the past energy and to really make it ours. I say goodbye and many, many thank-yous to my parents, and they drive home. My roommate and I continue unpacking and setting things up how we like.
10 p.m. — I make up my bed and have all of my clothes and knickknacks generally placed where I want, so I decide to bring my long day to an end. I take a shower and get ready for bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

9 a.m. — I wake up and enjoy the first morning in our new apartment. Our place gets incredible natural light, which is the main reason we wanted it. We don't have laundry, but the natural light and tree-line views make it worth it. My roommate is volunteering at the farmer's market, and I plan to meet her later for lunch. I'm glad for the quiet time to sit and reflect on our move.
11 a.m. — I start putting together our Ikea TV stand, and a drill is involved. It's back-breaking work, so I head to meet my roommate for lunch.
2 p.m. — We eat at this fast-casual Chinese/Korean restaurant, and I get a bulgogi rice bowl with kimchi. $14
3:30 p.m. — We walk the 40 minutes home instead of taking the Metro or an Uber because it's such a nice day, and I finish the TV stand when we get home. It's my roommate's birthday tomorrow, so she goes home to celebrate with her parents.
6 p.m. — I'm still full from my bulgogi bowl and have an apple for dinner. I start hanging up clothes in my closet and try to find the floor in my room again.
9 p.m. — Our friend comes over to give me some salmon she doesn't want (hello, this week's meals) and to see our new place. We chill for a bit until she heads home, and then my roommate and I go to bed.
Daily Total: $14

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up at first alarm and get ready. My roommate's door is still closed, so I hold off on making my tea and use the bathroom first. Brush teeth, wash face. I finish my routine in my room and take the first of many morning selfies in my new closet-door mirror.
8:15 a.m. — I walk to the parking garage across the street where I'm keeping my car and start my commute. My parents are helping me out with the monthly $150 parking-garage fee. My commute should only take 35 minutes, but I wanted to give myself more time today, as I am unfamiliar with the route.
9 a.m. — I get to work on time with minimal traffic and then settle in with my tea and email.
12 p.m. — I have some of the salmon for lunch with baby tomatoes, broccoli, and a really good lemon-and-dill sauce.
4 p.m. — First afternoon commute to my new apartment was also a success but had more traffic. It's an hour by the time I get back from work and change into comfy clothes. I put a small gift and card on my roommate's bed before she gets home. I also sit outside to wait for the gas people to finally show up. They don't show up, for the third time, but I use the time to get through a few more chapters of A Little Life.
8 p.m. — We head to the Metro to get to dinner. I surprisingly have enough money on my card and don't need to refill today.
10 p.m. — Dinner was a lot of fun, and I was really happy to celebrate my roommate with our friends. We all split some fried risotto balls, asparagus, and ricotta appetizers, and I have delicious aglio e olio pasta and a glass of rosé. $44.54
11 p.m. — I get ready for bed and fall asleep happy and full to the sounds of rain on a tin roof.
Daily Total: $44.54

Day Seven

7 a.m. — I get to work on time and get down to it. Not much going on today, but there is a goodbye party for a colleague who's leaving. Sad to see her go, but free food is always welcome.
11 a.m. — I have our weekly meeting with my boss and her boss to catch up on the week, answer any questions, and mostly talk about the new Marvel films.
12 p.m. — At the goodbye party, I get some pizza bagels, spaghetti, chicken wings, and chocolate cake. Not the healthiest, but it's free. I eat outside with my one work friend because it's so nice out, not too humid! We also hit up Starbucks really quick, and I get a venti matcha latte, my new fave. $4.75
4 p.m. — I leave and head to my old apartment to turn in my keys. After that I hit up Ikea again for a few last-minute purchases and Target as well. I get two more baskets and two curtain rods from Ikea, and then from Target I get a bunch of clothes hangers, some Command hooks, and two neon dinosaur planters. They're quirky and cute, and perfect for some air plants or succulents in my new room. $51
7 p.m. — I put up my new curtains, hang all of my clothes, and organize my room. After only moving in a few days ago, I am almost done getting settled! The living room and kitchen are another story. While I unpack, I listen to episodes of Bon Appétit Foodcast and The Murder Squad: Jensen & Holes.
10 p.m. — My roommate comes home, and we talk for a bit and I show her the progress on my room. We are both exhausted from our busy days and get to bed early.
Daily Total: $55.75
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