A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $75,000 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 marketing manager who makes $75,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on pizza and a speeding ticket.
Occupation: Marketing Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 35
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $75,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,970
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $1,265. I live in an older studio, not near a Metro stop. Utilities are included.
Streaming Subscriptions: ~$30 for streaming services (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix)
Internet: $80. I don't have a TV or cable.
Credit Cards: $350
SmarTrip (Metro) Card: $75 from me, $75 from my employer
All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Membership: $55 for ClassPass, plus a free gym at work
Cell Phone: $100
Car & Renter's Insurance: $120
Health Insurance: ~$200/month for dental, vision, medical, and FSA, deducted from my paycheck pre-tax
Savings: LOL

Day One

5 a.m. — Wake up and get ready for work. I'm always starving in the morning, but I hate breakfast foods. I eat some leftover dan dan mian from takeout a few nights ago. Manage to take the bus/Metro all the way to work, which is impressive for a Friday. I have a new-ish job, but I still have so much money on my SmarTrip card from my old employer that I don't pay attention to how much my commute costs. (Depending on the route I take, it's somewhere between $8 - $10/day, roundtrip, which seems expensive since my old commute used to cost $4/day, roundtrip. I still contribute to my SmarTrip, but sometimes I take an Uber or Lyft to the Metro.) I debate getting a coffee until I remember that I have a green juice at work provided by my employer provided (not typical). I try to drink coffee only once or twice a week anyway. Plus, I'm going on vacation in a few weeks, and then again in six months, and I'm saving for elective surgery.
8:45 a.m. — I'm waiting for my new iPhone to arrive, so I order a case, a screen protector, and glass screen cover. I try to only buy online from places that offer Ebates and free shipping. The site I order from also has 10% off and I get a free glass screen cover! $49.77
9:15 a.m. — Ugh, I'm hungry already. Usually, I don't get hungry until around 10. I eat plantain chips from my snack drawer and two fun-size candy bars that I got from a coworker. I keep a full snack drawer because TBH, I'm always hungry. But my supply is dwindling and I need to go grocery shopping this weekend.
12 p.m. — Finally lunch! I'm taking one of my coworkers to lunch for her birthday. I try to bring my lunch Monday through Thursday. We go to a BBQ truck, where I order a pulled pork sandwich (it comes with chips), and I add collard greens. I've been getting my vegetables from juice for the past two days, and I'm craving something healthy to counteract everything else. My friend gets a platter with ribs, wings, and fries. $25.45
2:15 p.m. — I need an evening bag for an upcoming event. The one I have is basic and gold, but I need a silver-ish one. I end up only being $11 away from free shipping, and since shipping is $6, I look for something else to buy. I know that's how retailers get you to increase your average order value, but I don't care. I could always use another purse, but don't want to spend that type of money. I add a hand chain for $12. Since I hadn't registered online (I've only bought from this retailer in store), I get $15 off a $50 purchase — and it doesn't charge for shipping when the price is reduced. The entire order is cheaper than the purse alone. $38.25
4 p.m. — Yay! Time to leave work. I love my job, but this week has been tough. I head to a nearby salon for my monthly Brazilian. I meant to schedule it for closer to my trip, but oh well. $72
5 p.m. — Head to a store that has my hard-to-find soap and chocolate. Buy that, plus toiletries, and wine. After that, I grab a cauliflower curry bowl from a fast-casual place I love ($10.10). They don't have an app, which is annoying, because I like earning points and free food. I almost never visit fast-casual places that don't offer that, but I don't go to this one often and it's nearby. I take the bus home to eat dinner and drink wine before my friend with benefits arrives. I haven't seen him in a while. It's a really great set-up because I'm not interested in dating, and neither is he, and we are truly good friends. I always have fun with him, plus he helps with things around the apartment. Win-win. I fall asleep around 10. $46.30
Daily Total: $231.77

Day Two

7 a.m. — Wake up and eat the leftovers from last night's dinner. I lounge around in bed, but getting ready on the weekend takes me hours because of my skincare and makeup routines, so I'll have to get out of bed sooner rather than later. I don't mind though. I love doing it. I'm going to a beer festival in Maryland, a free outdoor simulcast of Aida, and a nighttime street art exhibit.
12 p.m. — Eat some leftovers from a Dominican restaurant I went to with a friend a few days ago. I love international cuisine, in case you couldn't already tell.
1 p.m. — Take a bus to Metro, then get an Uber to go visit my friend with benefits. We usually don't see each other twice a week, but he lives somewhat near the beer festival. We talk for a while and catch up because we didn't really talk last night. $4.92
4 p.m. — Take an Uber from his place to the festival. I walk around, and grab a beer and ice cream. I love ice cream and there aren't many good places in D.C. for it, so when I see some, I get it. There are fun and funky artisan vendors, but I'm not in the market for anything, though I do enjoy browsing. $17
7 p.m. — Take a bus to Metro so I can head to the baseball stadium to see Aida. The Kennedy Center hosts an annual, free outdoor simulcast in September, and I try to take advantage. I do attend shows at the Center, but they are expensive, so I get tickets through discounted sites. I usually don't do more than two per year. The Kennedy Center is my favorite place in D.C. and I appreciate that they offer free daily performances of dance troupes, singers, etc. I buy a beer and totchos, since I'm hungry and the good eateries aren't open. The totchos are huge, which is good, but I get full fast and have to throw a good amount away. I hate wasting food. $20.50
8:30 p.m. — I buy another beer, finish it, and bounce. Operas are long, and I know the story, so I decide to head to the Metro and check out the art exhibits in a different neighborhood. I get there, and the city is lit. There are outdoor performances and art all around. I can't turn a corner without running into something. The vibe is awesome, and it was the perfect night for it. $10.50
11 p.m. — Hop on Metro and head home. There's a 30-minute wait for the bus, so I call an Uber. Go to bed as soon as I get home. $5.01
Daily Total: $57.93

Day Three

9 a.m. — Wake up and head to the neighborhood farmers' market. Since I don't have any food at home, I get a squash samosa from one of the vendors for breakfast. She's cash only, so I grab a water from a nearby store and get cash back. I can't decide what I want for produce, so I get my usual non-produce items: a green juice, salsa, and tamales. $30.69
12:30 p.m. — My friend and I were supposed to go to a festival today, but it's super-hot out and we decided not to. I wake up from my nap and eat one of the tamales, then work on blog posts and job applications. I have an MBA and I'm looking to switch industries. By the time I look up from my computer, it's after 4. I message my friend from earlier in the day to see if she wants to grab a drink at the new beer garden in the neighborhood.
5:30 p.m. — I walk to my friend's place and we walk to the beer garden. We both get a beer, but she doesn't like the food menu, so we head to a neighboring bar. $9.80
6:30 p.m. — Score! This bar has $2 drafts, half-off appetizers, and half-off burgers. I don't go for the draft special, but I do get a bottle of local beer, a chicken sandwich, and we split tots and nachos. It's way cheaper than the other place. We head home around 8, and I watch part of a documentary I've been getting through somewhat slowly this whole week. I'm asleep by 9. $16.48
Daily Total: $56.97

Day Four

5:25 a.m. — I was awake from 1:30 through 3:30 a.m., which isn't typical, and I have to wash my hair this morning. I won't be late, but I won't have time to take the bus. I do manage to throw a hair mask on while I shave and exfoliating in the shower, so I'm pleased about that. Call an Uber to take me to Metro. $4.64
6:45 a.m. — I'm tired, so I order a PSL from Starbucks. $5.89
7 a.m. — Get to work, drink my latte, and eat a tamale while I answer emails. By 10:30, I'm hungry. Our weekly team meeting starts shortly, and lately it has been 90 minutes instead of 60. I eat plantain chips and half of a pressed fruit bar from my snack stash.
12:15 p.m. — I heat up another tamale for lunch and drink the green juice I bought yesterday. Around 3, I grab two fun-size candy bars from coworker. Really wish the candy wasn't so close.
4:45 p.m. — Leave work and take Metro to the grocery store. I stock up on a seasonal flavor of instant oatmeal (six boxes) and travel packs of olives (10 pouches), plus an expensive beer and wine. I also buy chicken thighs, pork chops, tortilla chips, a veggie mix, cilantro, parsley, haricot vert, strawberries, dried mango (two pouches), and popcorn. The store is out of a few things I need, which means I'll have to go back later in the week. I was hoping to buy enough so I wouldn't need to grocery shop again before my trip. I try to keep in mind that I'll be getting dinner out tomorrow, and maybe again over the upcoming weekend, so I don't want to overbuy either. $88.85
5:30 p.m. — Uber home because I have three bags of groceries. $3.93
6 p.m. — Cook rice and black beans, chicken, pork, and my veggie mix with cauliflower rice I already had. The rice and beans are for breakfast and the pork and vegetables are lunch for the next two days. I snack on chips and salsa while I cook, and then have some chicken and black beans for dinner. A friend calls and asks to get drinks, but I'm tired and already settled in with a glass of wine (from Friday night's bottle) and my documentary. I decline and fall asleep sometime after 9.
Daily Total: $103.31

Day Five

6:10 a.m. — I was up again in the middle of the night and wake up super late. I make a note to use my Yoga Nidra app tonight. Also, I haven't worked out since last week, so that's probably not helping. I'm out of ClassPass classes, so I will have to use the gym at work because it's too hot to be outside. I walk a lot, but am heat sensitive; if it's above 75, I can't work out outside, which is my preference. I move quickly and am in an Uber by 6:35. $6.05
7:25 a.m. — Arrive at work. I packed breakfast, lunch, and snacks. I eat some black beans and rice, but am still hungry, so I have the rest of the pressed fruit bar.
11:45 a.m. — Eat my lunch of the pork chop, veggies, plus some strawberries and olives. I'm meeting a friend for happy hour at 5:30, but don't want to be starving when I get there, so at 3:30 I eat an applesauce cup from my snack stash.
4 p.m. — Leave work and Metro to the mall to meet my friend. We do happy hour at an Indian restaurant and share samosas and naan pizza, plus get two drinks each. Our samosa order was placed incorrectly, so we get free ones to take home. $26.36
6:30 p.m. — We're meeting at the mall because I need to do some shopping for my upcoming trip, and she works nearby. She heads home, and I shop, but don't find much. I do get a shirt, some socks, and a water ($1.50). I hate shopping at the mall. $24.50
7:30 p.m. — Head to Metro and check five different bus routes. It doesn't seem like any of them will work without me having to wait 40 minutes. I thought I'd need to take an Uber, but when I get off the Metro, a bus is running late, so it works perfectly. Get home and see that I got a speeding ticket in the mail. I'm usually super careful, and I haven't gotten a speeding ticket in 15 years. I'm so mad. D.C. has cameras everywhere, so I drive really slowly through the city, but I clearly was not paying attention that day. I fall asleep at 9. $100
Daily Total: $156.91

Day Six

5 a.m. — Sleep through the night and wake up just before 5. This is great because I'm staying with my best friend, who is having minor outpatient surgery today; now I'll have time to pack some clothes and cook food for my stay and for my remaining weekday lunches. I really don't want to spend money on takeout or delivery while I'm staying with her. I eat the leftover samosas for breakfast, and manage to have enough time to take the bus. I'm still tired though. I have a busy day at work, and it's double-stars day, so I order a PSL. $5.89
10 a.m. — Since I ate my samosas around 5:30, I'm starving. I eat olives and plantain chips, and then by 11:45, eat my lunch of pork, veggies, and strawberries.
4:30 p.m. — Leave work. I realized earlier that I didn't make enough food for the next two days of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I'll have enough for both breakfasts, but only one more lunch and one dinner. I guess that's what I get for cooking at 5 a.m. My friend isn't going to be out of surgery for a while, so I go to a make-your-own-pizza place and eat there. It has a rewards app, so I'm happy about that. $10.46
5:30 p.m. — Get to my best friend's place just as she does. She's doing well. I help her with things around the house and her one-year-old Morkie, which is basically my dog too. (We went through so much to get him.) She lets me do laundry, which means I won't have to pay to use the communal washers and dryers in my building, or add money to my laundry card, which is running low. I get an email from one of my blogs asking if I can attend a tasting next week. I went to two last week, which was great, because that means free drinks and free food, so I can socialize without paying. It's a new place I've been really wanting to try, too. My friend and I watch reality TV and eat pumpkin spice caramel popcorn (because we're basic) until heading to bed at 10.
Daily Total: $16.35

Day Seven

6 a.m. — It's so nice staying near the Metro. I wake up, shower, care for the dog, and am out the door by 6:30. Get to work at 7 and eat my rice and beans for breakfast. I'm still feeling slightly hungry, so after a while, I eat a handful of olives, too. I come across a receipt for parking. I don't drive to work often even though parking is cheaper than Metro for me; there's gas and wear and tear to consider as well. We have a parking spending account, where we can put in pre-tax money, and get reimbursed for parking. I don't have much taken out from my paycheck for this, but since I do drive sometimes, I figure it's worth it. This is from a month ago, but I submit it anyway to get my $7. I'm hungry around 10:30, so I eat some roasted chickpeas I forgot I had to tide me over until lunch.
12 p.m. — My office building has a farmers' market every Thursday, and sometimes food vendors come, too. My friend and I walk over, and a Jamaican vendor is there today, so I get a beef patty, then eat my pork and veggies a little later. $3
4:30 p.m. — Head to my friend's house. She's doing really well and we proceed to have a repeat of last night, which is fun. We both wish she could drink though, as wine would be great. We eat grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I love just relaxing with her and the dog. Tonight is my last night at her place, but we might go to an East African retail pop-up on Saturday if she feels up to it. I pass out at 10.
Daily Total: $3
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