A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $43,000 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 women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a program officer working for a nonprofit who spends some of her money this week on veggie ramen.
Occupation: Program Officer
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 24
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $43,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $2,800 after taxes and 401k
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100 (My cats and I live alone in a studio apartment)
Loans: $0 (A scholarship covered tuition and housing and my parents helped with incidentals in college. No other debt to report.)
Car: $0 (I don't have a car because I live walking distance from everything, including work)
Insurance: $0 (Medical, dental, and vision are all paid by work)
Utilities: $30-$50 (depending on usage, paid once every two months)
WiFi: $30 (I actually pay $60, but I share the password with my next-door neighbor and she Venmos me for half each month)
Cell phone: Still on the family plan
Hulu: $13.18 (I'm on my parent's Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts, thanks mom and dad)
Spotify: $11
Fitbod App: $9.99
NYTimes subscription: $15
Donations: $25 (Planned Parenthood and Days for Girls)
401(k): $215 (6%, of which 4% is matched)
Savings: $110 into a Betterment account and $150 into HYSA.

Day One

9 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I spend half an hour scrolling mindlessly through Reddit and social media before finally getting out of bed. I was thinking about going for a run this morning but, yeah, definitely not feeling it. I eat a bowl of cereal, shower, and head out by 10:30.
11 a.m. — I order a scone and coffee and settle in to do some work. I'm serving on the board of a startup nonprofit organization and I never feel like I have enough time to devote to it. I spend about three hours sending emails and doing research before I start to get hungry. I don't want to buy any more food out, so I walk back home and heat up soup. $8.14
3 p.m. — I really need to do more work, this time for my actual job (at which I am desperately behind), but I really don't want to. I set aside money in my budget this month for a good waterproof coat, so I decide to take care of that errand and walk over to REI.
4 p.m. — LOL nope, clearly I need to save for another month. $200+ for a jacket??
6 p.m. — I lay around like a blob doing nothing and eventually eat some more leftovers. My friend K. and I made plans tonight and I am really tempted to bail, but no, goddammit, I will socialize even if it kills me. A friend from back home calls me up and we chat for an hour (she got a job offer!). I stop feeling sorry for myself, put on makeup and a bra, and then go meet K. for drinks.
7 p.m. — We head over to a Mexican restaurant and both order drinks (K. gets dinner as well but I'm still full from earlier). We watch football on the big screen and talk about which player's butt is the cutest. Then we sign up to do a speed dating event together next week. I order a second margarita. The bill comes and I realize that I have accidentally ordered two insanely expensive margaritas. $31.52
8 p.m. — Inspired by season five of Schitt's Creek, we decided to follow up our drinks with a viewing of Cabaret, but first, to QFC for snacks! I buy a bag of Doritos, a loaf of bread for breakfast tomorrow, and a box of wine because the one in my fridge is running low ($25.44). I make us both tea and we re-watch the season 5 finale (SO GOOD) before renting Cabaret on Amazon ($4.39). $29.83
11 p.m. — Cabaret was not at all what we expected, but we were both into it. K. heads out. I decide that I want to go on a hike tomorrow and spend some time googling hikes that are accessible on public transit before turning in around midnight. One of my cats is feeling snuggly. He is the perfect little spoon.
Daily Total: $69.49

Day Two

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I roll out of bed. Much to my own surprise, I'm on track to actually follow through on this hiking impulse. I make a PB&J and head out with minimal grooming because who am I trying to impress, Mother Nature?
9 a.m. — I make it downtown but miss the bus. Now I have an hour to kill, so I wander around Pike's Place Market. There are a whole lot of bougie looking brunch-goers out and I am not looking cute right now. I stop at the Chinese bakery for a red bean bun. There's a $5 card minimum so I get two ($5.55) and they are delicious. I also get water and coffee from a different bakery ($6.02). $11.57
10:15 a.m. — I finally catch the bus to Issaquah ($2.75 on my pre-paid Orca card) and am just about to put my headphones in when somebody stops me. A girl I used to work with is on the same bus as me! I did about three months part-time as a waitress, and we worked a lot of the same shifts, so we spend the whole bus ride chatting. I actually liked that job (not to mention the extra money) and was bummed I had to quit, but I had literally no free time and had to cut something loose.
11 a.m. — It's about two miles from the bus stop to the trailhead. I walk most of it, but then the sidewalk goes away and the road turns into a scary two-lane highway with no shoulder. Booooo. I call an Uber for the final stretch. $6.82
1 p.m. — I'm doing a seven-mile out-and-back trail, and by the time I make it to the end it's so foggy that the viewpoint has no view to speak of, but the route here was so eerie and muffled and awesome-looking that I'm not mad about it. I eat my sandwich and head back down feeling really happy and so much less anxious. I have to call an Uber back to the transit center, then spend the bus ride back looking up recipes and making my grocery list. $10.28
3 p.m. — I finally make it back downtown and go to Trader Joe's. At TJ's, I buy the ingredients for lentil soup, plus a couple extras (greens, bananas, mandarins, eggs, plantain chips, conditioner, jelly, olive oil, chocolate, baby carrots, probably a few other things). I take the bus back to my apartment and text my friend B. to confirm we're still getting dinner later, and we agree to meet at 7. $54.92
4 p.m. — I drop my grocery bags and then rush through a bunch of errands — change the sheets, do laundry ($3.75 for the machines), take out the trash, clean the kitchen, vacuum. Then I take a shower, throw all my soup ingredients into the slow cooker, get my clothes out of the dryer, and realize that I have laundered my favorite pair of headphones. Joy. I order a new iPhone dongle on Amazon ($9.68) and then walk to the restaurant to meet B. $13.43
7 p.m. — It's really nice to see B.! She met her boyfriend's parents this weekend, so she tells me about that. We have dinner and chat for another couple hours before heading home. $18.58
9 p.m. — I swore to myself that I was going to work after dinner but…nope. I put my soup in the fridge, feed the cats, and watch an episode of Jane the Virgin before going to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $115.60

Day Three

6 a.m. — Snooze.
6:30 a.m. — Up for real and roll into the shower. My morning routine is pretty easy — turn on Morning Edition and then brush teeth, moisturize, minimal makeup, feed cats, pack lunch/gym bag, lint roll, and then out the door. I get in by 8, which is an hour earlier than usual but I want to try and get ahead.
12 p.m. — I break for lunch after working all morning and heat up my soup, which I eat at my desk. The soup is….not good. I'm usually a pretty good cook but this week the slow cooker was not my friend. I have to eat this for lunch all week? After lunch I pop down to the drugstore for a new pair of headphones (I hate the way the iPhone ones fit, so I always pair cheap drugstore headphones with an iPhone dongle) and some bath bombs. $19.14
3 p.m. — I am on track to finish this whole damn bag of plantain chips in two days.
5:30 p.m. — Done with work. A nearby Old Navy is having killer sales and my winter wardrobe is practically nonexistent, so I buy a top and a pair of pants. $26.42
6:30 p.m. — Quick workout in the office gym.
7 p.m. — Finally home. I make cheesy rice with scrambled eggs for dinner. My next-door neighbor, with whom I share a wifi password but have yet to become friends with, asks if I want to hang out. Yes! We chat at my place for a bit, then go back to hers and she shows me her homemade kombucha in various stages of fermentation. Um, that's awesome and I am totally stealing this hobby.
10 p.m. — More Jane the Virgin and then I read some of my book, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, before bed at 11:30.
Daily Total: $45.56

Day Four

6:30 a.m. — No thank you, 8 a.m. is a stupid hour to be at work.
7:40 a.m. — I do my usual morning stuff while listening to the 538 Politics podcast and get into the office by 9.
10 a.m. — Peanut butter pretzels for a snack.
12:30 p.m. — Woe is me, the soup did not get better with age and I really want french fries. I buy potato chips instead. $1.50
5:15 p.m. — After some disastrous statewide election results last week my friend, K., and I are trying to get more involved in local politics, so tonight we're going to a meetup/talk featuring the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation. We take the light rail to the International District (pre-paid Orca card) and stop for pastries before heading over. $2
7:30 p.m. — The talk is interesting and as an added bonus, a shocking number of the attendees are shockingly attractive men. Why, you ask? I can only assume that this demographic group is united by a shared love of urban planning. K. and I agree that we're definitely coming to the next meetup. I arrive home to find that my neighbor has left a jar of kombucha starter outside my door, yay! Another rice and egg scramble with greens for dinner.
12 a.m. — I watch up until the penultimate episode of Jane the Virgin, feel that I need to prepare myself emotionally before finishing it, and then manage to waste several hours on the internet. Lights out around midnight.
Daily Total: $3.50

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I'm out of bed and I head out for a run. I end up doing about four miles, finishing in the international district again, and take the light rail home using my Orca card, which still has money on it. Peanut butter toast and a Ridiculous History podcast before heading into work by 9.
1 p.m. — I eat an apple and some pretzels at my desk but otherwise work until around 1. I reheat the third portion of soup and, friends, third time is not the charm because this soup is truly terrible.
4 p.m. — I agree to meet a boy from Hinge for a date on Saturday, then eat two mandarins and try to power through the rest of my to-do list.
5 p.m. — Wednesday evening is the meeting for my volunteer board position. I send out my deliverables and then make myself a cup of tea and head into an empty conference room for a change of scenery (we meet remotely).
7:30 p.m. — We had a good meeting, but everyone is stretched really thin and it's frustrating that we've taken so long to make real progress and actually get going. I love being able to work on this project, but am constantly struggling with imposter syndrome and feeling like I'm not putting enough into either it or my actual job.
8 p.m. — I get home and decide to break out those bath bombs I bought earlier in the week for a bubble bath. I have a glass of wine from a box, soak in the tub for a bit, and read more from The Sympathizer, which is excellent. Then I play with the kitties while finally watching the last episode of Jane the Virgin (So. Many. Tears.). Channa masala and frozen parathas from Trader Joe's for dinner.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:15 a.m. — The few seconds after my alarm goes off are critical. If I don't roll out of bed immediately, inertia will set in and after that it's anybody's guess as to when I'll actually get moving. Today I actually wake up on time...but I make the fatal flaw of checking the news while still horizontal. The next thing I know it's 8:10 and I have 30 minutes to get ready for work. A pimple, which threatens to be gigantic and hideous, is emerging on my chin. Why?!?
8:45 a.m. — Due to the aforementioned wasting of time this morning, I forgot to eat breakfast. I stop at a deli for an egg and cheese breakfast burrito. $7.04
11 a.m. — I could not face a fourth day of the dreaded soup, so today I brought a PB&J, which I eat during a team meeting. This week is abbreviated because our entire office is going to a conference tomorrow, and, in addition to a major funder report, I have all kinds of other things I need to prepare before the weekend. Rather than stressing, I just resign myself to staying late.
2 p.m. — Thus resigned, I'm hungry again and seriously craving a falafel wrap. Fuck it, I guess I'm buying all my meals out today. Time for Greek food! $8.69
6:30 p.m. — I get most of my work done, except that major report, which is waiting on key deliverables from a different team and out of my hands! I'll have to bring my laptop to the conference tomorrow and skip the opening sessions in order to submit it. I hurry home just long enough to drop my stuff and feed the cats and then go to meet my friend B. at our favorite bar for trivia.
9:30 p.m. — We didn't win (nor did we come close to winning) but we had fun. As a former varsity Quizbowl player (yes this is a real thing, and much to the chagrin of the actual athletes, my high school gave it the same level of recognition as any other sport, including giving us varsity letters), I love Thursday night trivia! I got two beers. $14
9:45 p.m. — B. and I walk in the same direction to get home, which leads us past Salt & Straw (fancy ice cream). They have new seasonal flavors!! We each get a scoop and sit inside to eat. This guy who I went on an OKCupid date with a few weeks ago (we had nothing in common and never spoke again after the first date) comes in with a different girl and we accidentally make eye contact, oops. Small world! $4.35
11 p.m. — I have to be up stupidly early to set up our booth at the conference tomorrow, so I set multiple alarms and triple-check that my phone is plugged in before going to bed. Night!
Daily Total: $34.08

Day Seven

5:45 a.m. — Today I get to bust out my Anne Taylor blouse and slacks and I am feeling fancy AF. This is probably the third (and last) time this year that these items will see the light of day because Seattle is generally opposed to business professional attire. On the downside, my chin zit has doubled in size. I attempt to disguise it with makeup and then catch the bus to my office (I have to stop by before going to the conference center to pick up materials for our booth).
7 a.m. — I pick up the materials and then realize that I forgot my laptop, which I need to work on that report that's due today. Nooooo! I call an Uber (expensed) with a stop at my apartment on the way to the convention center, and on his way to pick me up the driver misses the correct turn four times and takes fully ten minutes to arrive, by which time I am STRESSED and thinking unkind thoughts ($12.68 expensed).
7:30 a.m. — The driver turns out to be a lovely Chinese gentleman who speaks almost no English and offers me a butterscotch candy. I eat the candy and regret my unkind thoughts, and end up arriving just in time to set up our booth before the program begins. The conference provides breakfast.
9 a.m. — Breakfast is over so I go to man our booth/compile the report.
10 a.m. — Bathroom break to reapply concealer. Why is it that every time I go to this conference there's something wrong with my face? Last year I had to do the whole program in a bulky winter scarf in order to hide an enormous hickey.
12 p.m. — Lunch is provided by the convention and it's delicious.
1 p.m. — We submit the report! This means I can actually go to the afternoon sessions.
4 p.m. — So. Tired. I sit at our booth and read impeachment coverage.
5:30 p.m. — By this point, I'm pretty exhausted. I pack up the booth and call an Uber Pool (expensed again) home and then spend some time tidying up and washing dishes ($7.45 expensed).
7 p.m. — I decide to take myself out to dinner at a new ramen place. They have one vegan ramen and one veggie; I get the veggie option plus a beer and read at the bar while I wait for my food.
7:45 p.m. — What a total waste of money. It turns out the “veggie” ramen isn't actually vegetarian (why?) and in order to make it veg they took out the main base for the sauce, which means I end up with flavorless broth over plain noodles. Had I known this, I would have ordered the vegan option, which is designed to be consumed as is and presumably includes…flavor? The waiter clearly feels bad and brings me a second beer on the house. Total is $16.29 and I round up to $20 for tip. $20
8 p.m. — I get home feeling upset at myself for spending $20 on such a crappy dinner when there was perfectly good food in the fridge. I've been stressing myself out a lot lately for various reasons (professional, financial, personal…) and all the anxiety bubbles up, and also, I'm a little drunk from two beers and almost no dinner, so as soon as I get inside I have a little cry. Am I usually this emotionally unstable? Well, I like to think not.
10 p.m. — I snuggle with the cats and rewatch season two of Fleabag, and feel much better by the time I get to bed.
Daily Total: $40.13
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