A Week In Washington, D.C., On An Intern’s Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, an intern living in Washington, D.C., on $14 an hour (and some help from the parents).
Industry: Student/communications intern
Location: Washington, D.C., lives in Bethesda, MD
Number of roommates: 2
Salary: $14/hour
Paycheck amount: Approximately $580 2x a month + $500 a month from my family. (Editor's note: This is roughly $19,920 a year.)
Age: 20 Monthly Expenses
Utilities: $35
Netflix: $9.99
Hulu: $7.99

Day 1

7 a.m. — Breakfast is granola and yogurt at home after an early workout. I make myself a mug of coffee to go in hopes that I can resist a trip to Starbucks. 8 a.m. — I take the Metro to school and work every day, and have to load my SmarTrip card a couple times a week. For some reason, I prefer loading smaller amounts more frequently than making one large deposit. I can tolerate the ridiculous prices more easily this way. $20 12:15 p.m. — On my way to work after morning classes. It’s cold, and I’m craving something hot that isn’t stale office coffee. I hit Saxby’s for a chai latte… It wasn’t Starbucks, right? $4 1 p.m. — I brought leftover pasta from home to eat for lunch. The restaurants downtown are pricey, so I avoid eating out at lunch as much as I can. 7 p.m. — Dinner is a vegan sweet-potato-and-black-bean bowl at home. My doctor recently told me I should cut dairy out of my diet because of some stomach problems, so I’ve been eating mostly vegan. I had already cut back on the meat because it’s much cheaper!

Total: $24

Day 2

7 a.m. — Breakfast at home again. A muffin, yogurt, and coffee. 9 a.m. — I successfully avoid Starbucks again and settle for office coffee. I discover that the fridge at work is broken, which means my lunch of last night’s leftovers will have to sit in my bag all morning. Luckily, vegan food is less likely to spoil…another perk of cutting back on the animal products! 12:30 p.m. — I consider going out to buy lunch, but decide to tough it out and eat my non-refrigerated food. It tastes fine. 2 p.m. — I get an email from Gilt City about a three-hour flash sale. I talk myself into buying a $20 voucher for a local restaurant. It was priced at $12, but I got it at 20% off. $9.62 7 p.m. — Dinner is another vegan meal; sautéed vegetables on homemade chickpea flatbread. 9 p.m. — My mom’s birthday is coming up, so I order a $100 gift card to a spa we’ll be going to on vacation this summer. Most of the services cost more than that, but it’s all I can bring myself to spend. $100 9:30 p.m. — I have a $10 Birchbox credit and decide to put that toward a three-month subscription for my mom. I tend to go a little crazy with gifts. $20

Total: $129.62

Day 3

7 a.m. — Breakfast is overnight oats and coffee at home. I get an email from Starbucks about its new rewards system and am persuaded to reload my card. It was going to happen eventually. $10 8:30 a.m. — I order a latte at my school’s independent coffee shop. The prices are much better there, and I decide I’ll use my Starbucks card at lunch. $3.25 12:15 p.m. — Lunch is a spinach feta wrap and coffee from Starbucks, and I use my rewards card. I take advantage of the comfy seating to get some work done. 2:30 p.m. — There is a Whole Foods at the Metro stop by school, and I allow myself to go once a week. Whole Foods is my weakness. I stop in for an apple and end up buying kombucha, shampoo ($1.99), yogurt, and cookies as well. $14.92 6:30 p.m. — My roommate and I decide to go out for sushi. I try not to go out to eat at all, but I’m feeling restless and need a break from homework. We share a couple rolls, vegetable tempura, spring rolls, and a dessert. $30.44 Total: $58.61

Day 4

7 a.m. — More overnight oats and coffee at home. 8 a.m. — I have to reload my Metro card again…ugh. $10 8:30 a.m. — This will be my only chance for more coffee until late in the afternoon, so I give in and go to Starbucks. I use my pre-loaded card. 11:45 a.m. — I have back-to-back classes until 2:30 p.m., so I scarf down a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich that I brought from home during my 10-minute break. 4 p.m. — Fighting the urge not to go to Whole Foods on my way home… 7 p.m. — I scrounge together some ingredients to make pasta for dinner. Total: $10

Day 5

7 a.m. — Muffin and coffee for breakfast at home. 8:30 a.m. — I have to go downtown for a work conference, and stop by Starbucks on my way. I buy a grande Americano and a granola bar. My rewards card covers all but $0.63…darn. 1 p.m. — Food at the Convention Center is CRAZY expensive — like $6 latte expensive — so I eat my granola bar for lunch and hope I don’t get too hungry later. 3 p.m. — My day ends a little early — yay! — and I decide to wander around some shops, since I don’t get to that part of town very often. I end up in a bakery and buy a huge slice of pie and iced tea. Oops. $10.80 6:30 p.m. — I’m very fortunate to have a family that takes me out to dinner fairly often. They live an hour outside the city, so I see them often. We go to our favorite neighborhood spot. Veggie burger for me. The parents pay.

Total: $11.43

Day 6

7 a.m. — It’s Saturday, but I have to work at the convention again. Coincidentally, my mom also has to attend for her job so we go together. I eat cereal at home before heading out. 9:30 a.m. — I have to put money on my Metro card again. Luckily, I have mom with me this time and she pays. 10:15 a.m. — We stop at Starbucks to pick up snacks, so we can avoid the overpriced food at the Convention Center. Mom pays. 12 p.m. — I eat my lunch from Starbucks, but throw out half of it because it’s gotten warm. Yuck. 3:30 p.m. — My boss calls it quits for the day! The weather is beautiful, so I head outside to walk around and hit a couple of shops. I pick up a bottle of water, and then head to a local bakery I’ve been dying to try. I get a chaider — that’s a chai tea made with apple cider, for those of you who don’t know — and a biscotti. Damn you, fancy coffee shops and your delicious, expensive treats. $8.11 7 p.m. — My mom and I go out for dinner at Graffiato, a Top Chef restaurant famous for homemade pastas. It doesn’t disappoint — and tastes even better when mom pays. Total: $8.11

Day 7

8 a.m. — I’m up early and eat cereal at home before hitting the gym. 1:30 p.m. — It’s a gorgeous day, so I enjoy some time outside, and my family treats me to one last meal for the weekend. We end up at a really nice, but pricey, restaurant in Annapolis, MD, so I stick to a bowl of soup. 5:30 p.m. — I always do my grocery shopping on Sundays, and try to plan out my meals for the week so I don’t end up impulse-buying a bunch of food I won’t use. I hit Giant, and I buy apples, kale, an onion, a sweet potato, cauliflower, an avocado, tomatoes, almond milk, eggs, Amy's frozen vegan pizza, and Popchips. I somehow manage to put back the pint of ice cream I had in my cart before getting in line. $37.78

7 p.m. — Dinner is a BBQ cauliflower salad, and I’m so glad to have lots of leftovers for lunches during the week.

Total: $37.78
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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