A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $40,000 Salary

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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 assistant at a think tank who makes $40,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on omelet from her office cafeteria.
Occupation: Assistant
Industry: Think Tank
Age: 23
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $40,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,344.62
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $850. (I live in a three-bedroom house with two roommates. Only drawback is that my room is a literal shoebox.)
Student Loan Payment: $286. (I'm on track to finish paying off my loan in 10 years.)
Health Insurance: $0. (I'm on my parents' plan.)
Wifi/Cable: $52
Metro: $60, taken out of my paycheck pre-tax
Water: $26-$35. (D.C. water is PRICEY.)
Gas: $25 -$40. (It's been pretty cold, so this has been rough.)
Gym Membership: $32
Bike Share: $8
Google Storage: $2.09
Spotify: $10.81
Netflix: $0. (I mooch off my sister.)
Amnesty International Donation: $15
Additional Expenses
Roth IRA: I put in $600 every six months. (There's currently $2,400 total in the account.)

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up super late because I know my main boss won't be in until after 10. I peacefully lie in bed until 8 and then force myself to shower and make a tuna salad for lunch. I always tell myself I'll make my lunch the night before, but I have literally never done it.
9:10 a.m. — I almost always take the bus to and from work, but it's sleeting and I'm just not feeling it. I call an Uber on my dad's American Express – I'm the only one he's not making car payments for, and he's a freak about safety when it comes to commuting, so he's let me keep his card on my account (I swear I only use it occasionally). It really has helped me out. ($9.11 expensed)
9:35 a.m. — I always make a pot of coffee before I leave the house, but sometimes I'm honestly too lazy to fill the pot. These past few days have really gotten to me (a.k.a. I hate my job), so I just decide to say "yolo" and buy Starbucks for me and my coworker. We're both pretty good about picking stuff up for each other when we go out so we never really worry about Venmo-ing. I usually get full from coffee, so I eat my banana from home back at the office. $7.70
12:45 p.m. — Eat my tuna salad and cucumbers from home for lunch. I normally try to socialize with my coworkers during lunch, but I'm currently on the job hunt, so I stay back at my desk to send networking emails (and also get distracted reading Money Diaries).
4:45 p.m. — This day will not end, and I am starving. I brought tons of fruit, but of course I go downstairs to get honey mustard-and-onion pretzel nubs from the vending machine to sustain me for my two-hour language class at 6. They're SO addicting, but I immediately regret them once I finish the bag. The usual. $1.25
8 p.m. — Class is finally over and I'm drained. I go over to my coworker's place, who's also my friend-with-benefits. I don't know how often is too often to see him, but we just started hooking up, so I'm just going with it. We drink wine, vent, catch up on This Is Us, and pass out.
Daily Total: $8.95

Day Two

7:50 a.m. — We absolutely could not get out of bed this morning, so I call a Lyft from his house, as I accept that I'm definitely going to be late into the office and make a mental note to start waking up early enough to catch the bus if our relationship is going to continue this way. My house is two miles away from a metro stop, so I'm pretty dependent on rideshares but try to bike most places when it's not winter. $8.78
9:10 a.m. — I'm supposed to be in at 9, and my boss is PSYCHOTIC, so I text my coworker to let him know that I'll be a bit late "because of the bus." I inhale sweet potatoes and an avocado while waiting for the bus.
12:15 p.m. — Unclear if it's because I didn't eat last night or because work has already been heck today, but I am famished. I have a lot of food guilt when I eat unhealthily (a.k.a. wine and M&M's for dinner), so I go buy a Chop't salad, my weakness, and accept that my whole saving money thing is just not going to work out this week. $11.94
2 p.m. — There's leftover cookies and coffee at work from a conference, so naturally my coworkers and I rush to the free food.
5:15 p.m. — Metro to a networking happy hour over by the Hill that I am very underwhelmed for. I meet my friend halfway and we catch up on life, since it's been a while. All the drinks are free (the only reason people go), so we end up having a blast and drinking way too much wine. I pick up a few business cards of new faces and consider it a successful night.
7:30 p.m. — I'm more than a little tipsy from the wine because I'm a lightweight, and I Uber to FWB's house, despite telling myself I would absolutely not let him become my drunk booty call just yet. (Realistically, though, this was bound to happen.) The train is literally right next to my pick-up and destination, so I scold myself for Ubering once I'm in the car. Drunk me doesn't always make the most money savvy decisions. FWB is a sweet boy and lets me talk his ear off before giving me a bite to eat and letting me crash. $8.09
Daily Total: $28.81

Day Three

9 a.m. — We woke up probably a thousand times during the night and into the morning and are now shocked at just how late we are to work. I normally go in later on Fridays because my bosses don't come in, so I'm off the hook there. FWB rushes to get ready and I thank the Lord that I'm not hungover. He lets me stay in bed until I need to leave for work, so I sleep for another hour before walking to the office.
11:45 a.m. — I am FAMISHED. I stole some of FWB's crackers this morning, but two days in a row of not eating dinner is really getting to me. I go buy a massive tuna salad wrap and chips in the cafeteria. $7.09
3 p.m. — The day has passed terribly slowly, but I'm supposed to go meet an old boss on the Hill for a life catch-up. I metro over there and he immediately says we're going on a beer run for his staff meeting at 4 (because that's normal). We catch up on the walk and then hang out in his office for a few hours after his meeting, drinking beer and talking about life. I explain my job situation to him (that my current boss is rude and doesn't think women can do literally anything), and he gives me some advice. It's great to see him. I call my dad on the way back to the train to fill him in before heading home.
7 p.m. — I decided at the beginning of the week that this weekend would be a do-absolutely-nothing weekend, and I am pumped. I've been out of town for the past two weekends and feel like I've literally had no down time since January. I help my roommate get ready for her date (she's a serial dater, in the nicest way possible), and make small talk with him when he shows up a bit too early. I do a face mask, catch up on Grey's Anatomy, and fall asleep around midnight full of Trader Joe's edamame, olives, and tortilla chips. (10/10 would not recommend these together, but I'm low-key hormonal, hence why I was craving this combo.)
Daily Total: $7.09

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up super early because FWB and I made plans to hang out this weekend as long as we're both productive in the morning. At 8:30 I force myself to do some spring cleaning. At the end of it all, my room is cleaner than it's ever been, my laundry is done, I'm finally unpacked from my trips, and I am EXHAUSTED.
2 p.m. — UberPool to FWB's house for our planned lazy day, and I am so excited. I didn't think we'd see each other this often, but I feel less guilty about it because my best friends all either have family in town or are away this weekend. FWB and I normally hang out together in groups on the weekend anyways, only now it just involves a bit more ... lol. Unfortunately, I make the mistake of Ubering instead of taking the bus, thinking it would be quicker, and it takes twice as long to get there. $5.82
2:45 p.m. — Finally make it and he's about to kill me out of hangriness. We go to the store to buy the necessities for a lazy weekend: crescent rolls, Lit'l Smokies, chips, guac, and a huge bottle of wine. I Venmo him for three quarters of it because he always buys our food without asking for me to pay him back, so I definitely owe him more than half. $15
3:30 p.m. — Luckily it's just cold enough to not be outdoors, so we feel less guilty for being lazy. We drink way too much wine, eat a ton of pigs in a blanket, and hang out until 10 p.m. We planned to smuggle wine into a movie, but I fall dead asleep around 11 before that can happen.
Daily Total: $20.82

Day Five

1 p.m. — Okay I never sleep this late, just so it's clear. I hate wasting the day! But we barely slept last night, and this morning, daylight savings time hits us hard. Plus we've never had the chance to just do nothing together, and I'm a big fan. We finally motivate ourselves to get up over the course of an hour after really comprehending just how lazy we have been, and make a to-do list to salvage the rest of the day.
2 p.m. — I need to start bringing lunch to work instead of buying, so I head to Trader Joe's to stock up on lunch food (even though I hate how crowded Sundays always are there). It's my mom's birthday, so I Facetime with her while I walk and make a mental note to send her flowers at work next week. Normally I love going all out on gifts, but my sisters and I spent way more than we could afford for her Christmas gift, so we're kind of giving ourselves a pass this year.
2:30 p.m. — At TJ's, I buy enough for a week's worth of Buddha bowls in an effort to be healthy. Plus stuff for turkey wraps, as well as kombucha (which I've recently tried to make more of a habit of drinking). I didn't expect to spend this much money, but I bought a bunch of produce, so I'm not that surprised ($52.11). I Uber home because I'm nowhere near a good bus route ($10.97). $63.08
4 p.m. — After lounging around and helping my roomie out with cover letters, I convince myself to go to the gym because I have literally been immobile all weekend.
6:30 p.m. — I feel SO much better now, but am also dead and have not even started studying for my language class's final tomorrow. It'll probably be a late night, but I haven't been sleeping well anyways so I just accept it and take my time cooking. I eat, do a mask, and Facebook stalk four people before finally studying until 1 a.m.
Daily Total: $63.08

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I am dead. It's dark when I wake up and I absolutely cannot get out of bed until the very last second. I sprint through getting ready and throw a turkey wrap together with a bottle of kombucha for lunch. We have a work happy hour tonight, and then I have my test. I know I'm gonna end up at FWB's house, so I throw extra work clothes in my purse and barely make the bus.
9:10 a.m. — I munch on my TJ's yogurt and chug my coffee while trying to pacify my already angry boss. Everyone's here, which never happens on Mondays, and I can already tell this day is going to be real rough.
10:30 a.m. — I break open my Goldfish for a mid-morning snack. I've been trying to eat healthier, but this is one thing I cannot shake. I eat way too many fish and already feel the heartburn coming.
12:15 p.m. — I cram for my final exam during my lunch break and enjoy the peace and quiet of an empty office. My wrap's good, but I definitely regret not bringing more food. The past few weeks I've haven't had much of an appetite due to the stress of work, so I take it as a good sign that I'm still hungry after lunch, and make a mental note to buy more Goldfish at CVS this week.
2:30 p.m. — I am slowly dying. I am a caffeine addict, but I despise our Keurig coffee, so I usually try to avoid it during the afternoons. I really want to go grab a cappuccino but find an apple in my desk to distract me from spending money. Counting down the hours until tonight's happy hour.
5 p.m. — I know it's a bad idea to drink before my final, but if you don't know a language when you're drunk, do you really know it? I grab a margarita from my coworker's pitcher and fill up on chips and guac. It's nice to hang out with everyone outside of the office, but also a bit stressful, so I'm not that disappointed when I have to leave. Plus, I really don't need to be marg drunk on a Monday.
6:10 p.m. — Run to my test that starts in five minutes! Whoops. I'm slightly buzzed, but really don't care too much. By the time we take the test, I'm completely sobered up. It was a BREEZE. Honestly, I could've had an entire pitcher of margs.
7:30 p.m. — Most of my coworkers are still at happy hour, so I head back to the bar. One of the girls just found out she got passed up for a promotion by an outside hire, and she is distraught, so we plan to move to another bar to drink and vent about how much we hate our jobs. Once we start moving, though, her husband picks her up and we take it as a sign that we should call it a night, seeing as most people are drunk by now anyways.
8:15 p.m. — FWB and I try to sneak back to his house without our coworkers seeing. It really doesn't help that he lives next to three of them, but we manage to Uber separately and pull it off. $5.29
8:30 p.m. — He's pretty drunk, so we chat and drink a little red wine while he fills me in on what I missed at the happy hour while I was taking my test. There's always drama at my work, because, frankly, it's pretty poorly managed. But hey, at least things are always interesting. We pass out around midnight, but I barely sleep for some reason.
Daily Total: $5.29

Day Seven

7:50 a.m. — I force myself out of his bed to shower before he gets up. He can get ready in 15 minutes, but my hair is way too thin to not shower in the morning (and dry shampoo just makes it worse). I climb back into bed post-shower and we sleep until 8:40 when we realize that we actually do have to show up to work, despite our best efforts to pretend we don't.
9 a.m. — We walk to work and it is FREEZING. Thankfully we manage to avoid any coworkers when we arrive together. I have a granola bar at my desk, but I'm starving and a bit hungover from the wine, so I splurge and buy an omelet from our cafeteria. $5.95
11 a.m. — Honestly I'm not even hungry, yet somehow I'm eating Goldfish again. I have the strangest meeting of my life with a colleague, and am brutally reminded of why I have to find a new job soon. Our work environment is toxic.
12:30 p.m. — I go to lunch but am still not hungry yet, thanks to the omelet. We all share our March Madness bracket picks, and I set a reminder on my phone to finish mine tonight. I don't keep up with college basketball any other time of the year, but I LOVE March Madness. After an hour of avoiding going back to our desks, we finally make moves. Luckily I have a TJ's salad I left in the fridge yesterday, and I scarf it down while going through emails.
3:30 p.m. — I cave and use the Keurig for the meeting I'm about to sit through. I just signed up for a cycling class tonight, though, so I'm telling myself to only have one cup.
4 p.m. — The meeting was POINTLESS and now I think I'm even more tired than I was before. I'm really regretting signing up for this class, but the $5 no show charge is motivating me to not bail.
5 p.m. — Sprint to the bus from work to make it home to get changed before class. I tell myself I'm way more fit than I think I am (which is a lie), and walk to my first spin class.
7 p.m. — I am dead, literally dead. My legs are jello and what on earth is going on with my butt. My dad does this on the reg and so does my best friend, and now I literally think they are crazy. I strategically sat in the back during class, but the instructor could still see everything. What a day. Hopefully I worked off the wine, though.
7:45 p.m. — Shower and make a Buddha bowl to continue on Day One of my health streak. I bought frozen carrot spirals from TJ's, and I am obsessed. I should be doing my language homework right now, so I kind of read over my vocab while actually catching up on Grey's. Tuesday's are hard.
11 p.m. — I could've gone to bed HOURS ago, but here I am. I pop melatonin because I've been having trouble staying asleep, and try not to think of how drowsy I'm going to be in the morning.
Daily Total: $5.95
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