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A Week In San Jose, CA, On A $60,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: an office admin who makes $60,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a tie-dye lacrosse ball.
Occupation: Office Admin Coordinator
Industry: Semiconductor
Age: 29
Location: San Jose, CA
Salary: $60,000
Net Worth: $63,291 (Savings: $3,634, investments: $18,840, Roth IRA: $40,817)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,872
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I moved back to the US after being overseas for seven years and have been living with my parents for half a year.)
Gym: $169
Netflix: $12
Whiskey Club: $87.20
IRA: $500 (I max this out since my company doesn't offer retirement)
Health/Dental/Vision Insurance: Covered by work
HSA: $304
Cell Phone: On my parents' plan
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Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Yes. Higher education was always part of the plan and my parents started saving early on for me and my brother. I wanted to go to a private university in the city and since I knew how much they had saved up, I took community college courses throughout my senior year and summer to get transfer credits so I could graduate in three years. This way I could enjoy studying in New York but still not take out any student loans. I'm forever grateful to my parents for their generosity and forethought in that respect.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Money was always a topic and my parents were always pretty transparent with us about our financial standing. Being from a traditional Taiwanese household, solid financial values and goals were instilled in us — owning a home, saving money, and being thoughtful about our purchases.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started working at a cafe in my hometown when I was 16. I made $7.50 an hour and was pretty good at saving my money. I never got an allowance as a kid aside from Chinese New Year money, and even then, we were taught to put that directly into our savings.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I worried a bit because my mother always sent my brother and me to piano classes and various extracurriculars, and I felt guilty that she spent so much money on me. However, my parents worked really hard and I think for most of my life we were solidly middle class.
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Do you worry about money now?
I've always been good at saving money, but sometimes I find myself saving to an extreme. I'm trying to get better at allowing myself to spend money when it's necessary. For instance, the gym I go to is quite expensive but it helps my mental health a ton. I'm learning to not be stingy with myself, especially when it comes to my health and wellbeing.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
My parents are my financial safety net — they're very supportive even though I have been financially responsible for myself since I graduated college, so I know if I had a financial hardship they would help me out. I do currently live with them, but this won't be long-term.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Nope.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — I let myself sleep in today and drag myself out of bed at 8:30, intending to make a 9:30 gym session. I fix myself a light breakfast of toast, olive oil, grapes, and cheese. I'm house-sitting for my neighbor right now and realize I didn't bring any coffee — I make a mental note to get some soon.
12:50 p.m. — My childhood best friend is here for a visit, so I meet her to grab pho at a popular Vietnamese place. We share a bbq pork banh mi, a huge bowl of combo pho, and a Vietnamese iced coffee. She's not very hungry so I end up eating ¾ of the pho, but she pays because she says this will motivate me to get my butt to NYC to treat her next time.
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1:45 p.m. — After lunch, she needs to go to the dispensary, so I accompany her. I wasn't planning on getting anything but some edibles pique my interest and I walk away with a bag of chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, and a four-pack of a sparkling drinks. The concierge is very helpful so I tip her well. I don't usually take edibles, but I'm curious and excited to try the goodies out later. $44.27
3:30 p.m. — We head to Dick's Sporting Goods and walk around the store looking for lacrosse balls. I get a tie-dye one. I then head home to my neighbor's place and my friend goes to meet another friend. $4.40
7 p.m. — My curiosity gets the better of me and I try a PB cup. It's sweet but delicious. Afterward, I fix myself dinner and sit down to watch TV. Halfway through an episode of Elite, I feel like I'm floating. The edible must have kicked in. I'm a n00b because I haven't showered or washed the dishes yet. I very slowly get ready for bed and am asleep by 11.
Daily Total: $48.67

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for a family outing. I eat some nuts and grapes for breakfast along with a coffee. I recently bought an Origami dripper and it brings me so much joy. I head over to my parents' house (down the road) to pick them up.
8:30 a.m. — My parents and I arrive at my brother's apartment and then take a walk around the neighborhood. We work up an appetite walking around for two hours.
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11:30 a.m. — We take my parents to a Korean barbecue place for lunch. We order extra meat with a cheese topping on the hot plate and share with the table. My brother and I split the bill. $82.50
4:30 p.m. — I drive my parents back home and they head to another party with their friends. Once I'm home and settled, I try my first BetterHelp session. I've been struggling with stress and concentration and it feels cathartic to tell a stranger about it. My therapist is empathetic and I ramble a lot and cry a little. After she hangs up, I bawl by myself. I'm exhausted. Therapy is a little expensive (~$80/week) but I'm determined to try it, plus it's a good use of my HSA. It's no money out of pocket for me since it's all covered by my HSA.
5 p.m. — After catching my breath and doing some meal prep for the week, I head out to grab some coffee since I still haven't done that. I end up grabbing two bags of light roast and a gluten-free brownie. $15.80
9 p.m. — I take a shower then hunker down with my brownie and some macadamia milk to check out the first episode of Severance that my coworker recommended. Get to bed around 11:30.
Daily Total: $98.30

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and stay in bed for an extra ten minutes…the Monday scaries are real. Breakfast is avocado toast with cheese and grapes and a cup of coffee. I roll into the office a bit late, like 8:05, but with enough time to prep for my morning meeting. I really dislike morning meetings or any kind of presentation-like situation where people are looking at me speak. It's a weird fear I need to lose, but it's a challenge.
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12:30 p.m. — After I finish my lunch of roasted veggies and leftovers, I head over to Trader Joe's and pick up some snacks for the office. I get bananas, apples, dark chocolate peanut butter cups, and veggie chips. I use the company card to pay.
5:30 p.m. — I turn up at the gym just on time. We're starting a new cycle this week and I'm excited for the program to change. It's a volume cycle, so everyone can get jacked for summer lol. Weightlifting keeps me grounded, so it's important for me to go and I'm relieved I found a good gym. The people are so kind and encouraging and the atmosphere is great.
7:30 p.m. — I get home (to my neighbor's house) and shower before making myself a simple dinner of eggplant and noodles topped with two fried eggs and a side of avocado. I finish the night with Love Is Blind.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:40 a.m. — I get up and get ready. I have a cup of coffee and a slice of sourdough from Model Bakery slathered in Brightland honey. Good quality is everything and makes even the simplest meals so enjoyable. I then grab my bike and bike to work.
8:10 a.m. — Arrive at the office a bit late this morning again, whoops. I usually aim for 8 a.m., but since I'm not going to the gym later I don't have to rush out. My head is clear from the bike ride and crisp air and I think today will be a good day. A guy I've been seeing is coming over for the first time and I'm excited but nervous.
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12:30 p.m. — Lunch is the same as Monday. I bring multiples of the same meal because I meal prep in bulk.
5:45 p.m. — I stop by a grocery store on my way home to grab mangos and dark chocolate-covered walnuts for my guest later. $2.65
6:30 p.m. — The guy I've been seeing arrives and we snack on chocolate-covered walnuts. He also brought pastries! Oh my! Cooking commences at 7 and we make cacio e pepe topped with salmon and we roast some vegetables for the side. We make a good team in the kitchen! After eating and an episode of Black Mirror, he takes off home and I clean up and get ready for bed. I watch Love Is Blind until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $2.65

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — Wake up oddly refreshed even though I didn't get much sleep. Breakfast is pastries leftover from last night. I roast some veggies in the oven for lunch later.
12:30 p.m. — I head out to the drugstore to grab some tampons. I take one card with me and walk to CVS. After I get back and go to put my card back in my wallet, I notice that another card is missing. I stress out for a while, thinking I may have blacked out from stress or something, but after checking my bank statements, I discover a fraudulent charge I didn't make at Best Buy. I spend the rest of my work day calling the bank. $4.99
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7:30 p.m. — I show up at my friend's house after the gym and rant about my stolen card. He is empathetic and I feel better. We potato together and watch a show about a cooking school. I don't usually like anime but this one is particularly fun.
10 p.m. — I get home and find some ants crawling on a pot lid I left out. This is just not my day. I clean and then finally get to bed around 11:30.
Daily Total: $4.99

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I wake up late again and am super tired, so I have a quick breakfast of honey toast and coffee and decide to drive to work.
1:30 p.m. — On Thursdays, we have a meeting that I've been given the responsibility of running. I really appreciate that my manager gives me tasks like this that will help me grow professionally. I spend most of the day preparing.
3 p.m. — I grab lunch at a local Greek place. I get a pork souvlaki sandwich. I love this place. $13.50
6 p.m. — I go to the gym right after work. It feels good after a long week. After my workout, I head home, eat leftovers for dinner and am asleep by 10.
Daily Total: $13.50

Day Seven

6:40 a.m. — I wake up, get ready, and pack my lunch. Then, I get on my bike to ride to work.
12:30 p.m. — Lunch is roasted veggies and a Costco chicken bake from home. We have some ice cream sitting in the freezer from a previous company event so I scoop myself two scoops of Speculoos cookie dough ice cream from Trader Joe's. I have some dark chocolate peanut butter cups too…It's that kind of day.
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3 p.m. — I get an email notifying me that a local pottery place has opened summer registration. It's six, three-hour classes for $349 and I'm keen to do something with my hands, so I pull the trigger. $349
6 p.m. — I decide I've really got to sit down and finish this novel I've been reading, so I head to a local bar with outdoor seating after work. I order two beers and leave a generous tip. I sit and enjoy the evening sipping on my beer and reading. I finish the book and ride home, feeling pretty good about myself. $28.71
8 p.m. — I go grab some things from my parents' house and end up having an emotional conversation with my mother. I'm too tired to deal with it so I go back to my neighbor's house and cry in the shower. I'm exhausted and feel numb. I stay up until 1 a.m. watching Love Is Blind.
Daily Total: $377.71
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