A Week In San Francisco, CA On A $72,000 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 paralegal who makes $72,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on belly butter.
Occupation: Paralegal
Industry: Immigration
Age: 30
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $72,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,300 (from paralegal work and styling side hustle)
Gender Identity: Cis Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $3,750 (split with husband)
Cell Phone: $104
Financial Planner: $105
Marriage Counseling: $360
Utilities: $50
WiFi: $60
Rent the Runway Update: $98
Donations: $150 (Animal rescues, ACLU, RAICES, and AgainstMalaria)
Website Fees/Small Business Expenses: $175
Renter's/Car/Motorcycle Insurance: $150
Secured Car Parking: $350
ClassPass: $49
Netflix/Hulu/Disney+/HBO: $0 (my husband pays)
HelloFresh and Imperfect Produce: $250
Savings: ~$800 a month to the shared account
Prime: $119/year
BART card: $0 (covered by work)
401(k) and Savings: My husband and I both have 401(k)s and a savings account of about $135,000 due to selling our east coast home. We have zero credit card debt or student loans because of the house sale.)
Advertisement

Day One

7:20 a.m. — We awake to a gradual wake up from our Sonos and Philips hue that starts at 6:20 and culminates in the final wake up push at 7:20. Let's be real, I am never up before the final note. My husband, A., hops in the shower first while I try to rest in bed and look at my socials but my (big scary) pitbull has been crying all morning. Why, you may ask? The nine-pound kitten (she's four years old) has been trying to snuggle him and sleep on top of him.
7:40 a.m. — A. knocks on the wall signaling my turn to shower. It's not a hair day so I suds up with a soap bar (I can't in good conscience keep buying products in plastic) and wash my face with St. Ives blackhead clearing scrub. Yes, in the shower, please don't judge me. I hop out and apply some Thayer's toner, Caudalie serum, brush my teeth, and feed the monsters. A. takes the dog a walk while I finish getting ready and make the bed. I pick out a black and navy Elie Tahari dress that has fishnet trim. I pair that with fishnet socks, black Mary Jane pumps, and top it off with a black beret. I head back to the bathroom to do a swipe of my Schmidt's deodorant and start on my face. I'm actually pretty simple despite that terminology; Origins white tea moisturizer with SPF, Make Up Forever HD Foundation, Anastasia Beverly Hills eyebrow pencil, Kat Von D eyeliner, Benefit Rollerlash mascara, and finish with a swipe of a matte lip gloss.
Advertisement
8:40 a.m. — I head to work! On my commute, I order Starbucks sous vide egg white bites (on a preloaded card) for pick up. I see that my weekly allowance came in (something our financial planner put us on) and decide to pull the trigger on my Amazon cart. I just found out I was pregnant a week and a half ago, so I buy a couple of pregnancy books and some belly oil and butter. It's never too early to start preparing that skin, right!? $84.31
9:30 a.m. — I'm on the board of an east coast cat rescue. We're pretty new and donations have been slow so I send our founder $100 towards the spay/neuter of three of our rescue cats. While I'm doing that, A. tells me he's donated to an organization in Australia that's trying to help the pets, livestock, and wild animals amidst the fires. I cry just thinking about the poor souls. $100
12 p.m. — I didn't bring a lunch to work today so a coworker and I decide to order Sweetgreen. It's a total vice of an overpriced salad but god damn are they good! My coworker will send me a Venmo request for what I owe her sometime in the next couple days.
1:45 p.m. — JUST KIDDING. UberEats says our order was delivered but it's NOT and no one called or texted us. We report it and await a refund. I have rice cakes and peanut butter in my desk. I snack on that while I work on some styling client work on my break. I build a client's Rent The Runway shortlist for her sister's wedding this spring then move on to starting a follow-up email for yesterday's wardrobe audit client. She was so so sweet. She's a new mom balancing just going back to work and her new lifestyle. We have a shopping session Sunday and I'm really looking forward to working with her again and getting her some great transitional clothes for her post-partum body.
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — Team meeting! I'm on a few teams at work but this one is the biggest and the most fun. Every Monday we meet but it's more like a hang sesh. Today there's treats from a coworker who just got back from Japan and we talk about sleep deprivation and quickly run over our caseloads.
4:30 p.m. — the Monday slump is REAL. I take a break from drafting and look at toddler Harry Potter Vans on eBay and chat dinner with A. I don't buy the shoes (yet) but they are so cute.
5:45 p.m. — Put on my commuting sneakers (Adidas Superstars) and head home. A. and our dog meet me part of the way on my walk from BART and we have a fun little walk the rest of the way home. Dinner tonight is HelloFresh Penne Rustica. A. cooks the Italian Mediterranean dishes, while Latin and Asian are my specialties. I change into “soft clothes” (Alternative apparel sweats and my JVN "Own it Gorg" sweatshirt) and peruse our newly shared bebé Pinterest boards while he cooks. The cat (10-year-old CHONK) sits with me while the dog crop dusts farts and takes every single toy out of the toy bin.
8 p.m. — We throw on the boob tube knowing full well I'll be asleep shortly. We try to combat that with Fleabag. I wake up around 10, feed the cats wet food, take my Rainbow Light Prenatal One vitamin, and attempt to sleepily scrub off some makeup before I crawl into bed. I used to have a great night time routine full of retinoids and elixirs but since becoming pregnant I gotta be on that no harsh chemicals grind. WORTH IT.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $184.31

Day Two

7:20 a.m. — Wake up with the final alarm push. I peruse the internet to try to find a pregnancy-safe core workout (bloat got me feeling gross) but find that's not advised. I shower first. It's hair washing day — I use MOP shampoo (something I picked up at TJMaxx and isn't a total fave but I'm almost done with the package and will move to a shampoo bar) and Tresemme conditioner. I think about the Alexa Moxie shower head that was just announced and realize I need it; “hey Alexa, remind me to email B. about the photoshoot on the 8th." I will definitely forget about this until tomorrow's shower, hence I need the Moxie. I do my morning routine, skipping foundation because I have a dentist appointment today and don't want to get it ruined or anything. I wear a Paloma wool sweater, Rebecca Minkoff black faux leather leggings (thrifted), and some thrifted faux suede knee-high boots. Top it off with gold squiggle earrings and a gold ponytail wrap for my low pony.
8:30 a.m. — We're out the door! We noticed this morning that we're running low on wet cat food and dog treats so I make a Chewy order. $48.86 from the shared account. $48.86
9 a.m. — At my desk with a decaf coffee, Nature's Bakery snack bar, and catching up on work emails before I go into the morning news; I spend a few minutes throughout the morning reading TheSkimm, TheHustle, Refinery29, Stella Spoils, and NYTimes' California Today intermittently between drafting documents.
Advertisement
10:45 a.m. — Review some homes with A. on Gchat. We'd been thinking of buying in the bay since before we sold our east coast home. Now with a baby coming we're trying to move within the next six months, if even just to a bigger rental. We're currently in a two-bedroom that's 800sq ft. It may seem “big” but it feels really cramped with all our clothes/office items/pet supplies. I can't imagine adding a sixth being into this. We peruse some East Bay options, though I get nervous about traffic/the tunnel/earthquakes.
12:15 p.m. — Early lunch today. I brought kabocha squash curried tofu with braised kale and wild rice. A. works for one of those tech companies that provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner so a couple times a week he brings me home a dinner to take to work the next day. It's delicious and I can't wait for the dentist to clean the kale off me haha. I continue working while I eat — the government won't mind some curry smudges, will they?
1 p.m. — Head out for my dental cleaning. On the way, I text with A. about houses and text with my brother for the first time in months (we didn't really grow up together and have vastly different values and views, so pleasantries like this are rare and appreciated), and text my friend, F., to make a double date for next Wednesday where we'll share our news with them!
2:30 p.m. — Finish at the dentist (covered by insurance). It was my first time in like three years and I'm happy to report I'm still cavity free with strong, healthy, teeth! I know I should go more, but with good teeth I just honestly don't see the point. Back at work I draft petitions and respond to some emails. We're gearing up for our busy season and I'm doing my best to enjoy this lull.
Advertisement
6 p.m. — Leave work and meet A. for dinner. He says he's been craving a classic Neapolitan pizza and as a former NYer who am I to say no!? We're lucky to live about a block from a great pizza place. He puts our names down while he walks the dog and I meet him straight there. We split the kale pasotto, the bread, and the margherita pizza. CARBSSS. I take two pizza pieces that don't have cheese and most of the pasta because it's vegan. We split the meal after a minor disagreement over who should pay; this is why we have both a financial planner and a marriage counselor. $35
8:15 p.m. — Home and in soft clothes and playing with the cats and their laser pointers while the dog chews on a Nyla bone. We turn on Schitt's Creek and zone out. I wake up around 9:30, feed the cats, take my vitamin, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $83.86

Day Three

6:30 a.m. — Falling asleep around 9 has me well-rested nice and early. I enjoy the darkness and the soft wake up and peruse social media and the internets. In my research, I find that Google and TheBump have differing views on if salicylic acid is safe for pregnant women. I follow TheBump and begin to omit the St. Ives starting in today's shower. Toner and light cleansers will have to suffice for the next year, and the Starface stickers I got for Christmas will have to wait until next year.
Advertisement
8:05 a.m. — Post shower and time to get dressed. I want to go funky but it's only Wednesday. Then again, all my favorite workpieces are dirty because we haven't done laundry since before the holiday vacation. I settle on a vintage leopard short sleeved mock turtleneck with a gold/yellow velvet slip dress layered on top and my Church's of London boots. I add on some new gold and matte black dangle earrings my SIL gave me for Christmas, feed the cats again, and head out to work by 8:30.
10:30 a.m. — I've been in a drafting hole all morning. Breakfast was a blueberry crisp Cliff bar and avoiding the news sites. A coworker makes restaurant week reservations for our work fam and I'm so excited. I take a five-minute mental break and start reading an MD. Um. I should probably start a 529 for my bebé NOW, shouldn't I!?
11:45 a.m. — I finish drafting a case and chat with coworkers about lunch. DoorDash is the worst, we're mad at UberEats, and Postmates isn't working. We each decide to do our own thing today. It's still early, so I snack on some Hippeas and notice my snack wrapper recycling bag is getting full and I need to hand it off to A. to recycle at his office.
1:15 p.m. — On my lunch break I go to Target. I stock up on some necessities for the house — q-tips, beard oil for A., and CeraVe make up remover wipes ($37.05). On my way back to the office I pick up a Be Well salad from Mixt ($12.41) and then go to Marshall's. I grab two journals; one for me (I feel like a new chapter of my life requires a new journal and my old one only had a few pages left), and one to track thoughts I have toward the bebé. I remember my aunt doing this when she was pregnant with my cousins and she gave it to them on their 18th birthday and I've always thought that was so special. I get a neutral grey that has a superrrr soft cover ($13). As I walk back to work I swap a few things on the Rent the Runway app. $62.46
Advertisement
5:35 p.m. — I leave work with my bag absolutely FULL of my Amazon delivery and today's purchases. I received notification that our Imperfect Produce is delivered and I really hope it's there by the time A. gets home. There are slight BART delays and it's raining? Or I'm living in a Karl cloud. Either way, it's not my favorite and I try to hustle home to my warm soft clothes and figure out dinner.
6 p.m. — Home and a neighbor has brought in our Imperfect and Chewy! I get home just as A. and the dog get home from a walk. We unload everything (there's a lot of potatoes and onions, a romanesco, garlic, avocados, two cases of La Croix, a one-pot pasta, some Chao cheeses, and bread. I was very sad that they were out of kale this week, a staple in my diet, but oh well.) and take out all the trash, recycling, and compost for tomorrow's curbside pick up. Dinner tonight is grilled cheese. We watched Epicurious' Four levels of Grilled Cheese recently and normally I'm like, a level 1.5/2, but we don't have much but onions today so I'm a palatable level 1. S. gets cheddar and mozzarella and mine is Chao, both with Thrive special sauce and some potato chips for crunch.
8 p.m. — We clean up, A. smokes half a J, and we all pile up on the couch to catch the season premiere of Schitt's Creek. I LOVE David and Patrick, they are the cutest. I snack on a TCHO chocolate square.
Advertisement
9:20 p.m. — Night time routine and in bed. I basically immediately fall asleep while A. reads. I promise I was once young and fun.
Daily Total: $62.46

Day Four

7:40 a.m. — I tossed and turned most of the night. A. starts to shower first while I take the dog for a quick pee in the rain. I shower, do my morning routine, and add just a swipe of waterproof mascara and a Mellow Matte Lip Stain because I'm going to the gym on my lunch break. I wear a leopard midi skirt (classic) with a cream cropped sweater from Revolve, and black velvet pointed toe loafers. We miraculously make it out the door by 8:30.
9:05 a.m. — At my desk with a decaf coffee and Clif bar. I also snack on some Annie's gummies.
12:45 p.m. — Change into my black Alo Yoga pants and a racerback tank and head to yoga. I used to go to hot yoga twice a week but obviously can't now. I'm booked for a basic vinyasa at Crunch Fitness on ClassPass which I didn't even break a sweat in last time I went. I figure it's a good place for my workout until I find a prenatal.
1:50 p.m. — As expected, an easy class. I rush back to the office and heat up my lunch. Today is a sofritas enchilada, refried beans, and jalapeño corn, courtesy of A.'s office. YUM. I am. SO FULL.
4:30 p.m. — I take a mental break from work and look at some houses A. sent me. I'm fairly unimpressed except by two that are “pending” in Oakland. Of course they are. I then taunt myself with a gorgeoussss three-bed one-bath about 1.5 miles from our place now. It's $1.8 mil. I internally cry about how SF poor we are. Please note, I know we are NOT poor. It's just disheartening.
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I got into a good work groove (and some good podcast flow on Dear Sugars) so am just leaving the office. I get home and immediately open my laptop to begin working on some styling work while A. cooks a dinner of some pasta with fresh herbs and spices. Light but filling.
8:15 p.m. — Boob tube time! I feel like my brain is always on and working so I really cherish this hour of general mindlessness each night. We finish season one of Fleabag! It is DRAMAA. I take my prenatal and head to bed about 9:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

7:13 a.m. — I awake from a fitful sleep. We let the dog sleep between us and he kicked me the whole night. The kitten likes to be my little spoon but since we were on the edge of the bed she kept clawing into me to make sure she didn't fall. Five beings in one bed is too much, yet we still do it and are adding a sixth. We're totally sane.
7:40 a.m. — Shower and the usual. I get dressed in my black Levi's wedgie jeans, a square neck puff sleeve top from Anthropologie, and brown snake print heeled booties, as well as some faux pearl drop gold hoop earrings. A. is working from home today to take care of life admin (take our motorcycle to get serviced, pick up our SUV from getting serviced, get his hair done, and do laundry — bless him and his flexible work) so him and the dog walk me to BART.
Advertisement
9:05 a.m. — I'm at my desk with the decaf coffee and snacking on a coconut chocolate RXbar. The news isn't as crazy as earlier in the week so I dive into work.
12 p.m. — I head to lunch with my coworkers (my Monday team and then some) to a sushi place where I get miso soup and a veggie tempura roll. An attorney pays and refuses to take my money — I'll take the free lunch! It doesn't seem like much but I am super full as I head back to work, where I continue with my drafting and paperwork.
3:15 p.m. — I hit a lull, it's Friday afternoon, and I need to take a walk. I take my returns to RTR (a block away) and once I'm back, I peruse the internets and catch up on personal and business emails. I finalize the styling email and send that off to my client and confirm the location for tomorrow's client. I also set up some budget goals for baby things in our shared bank account — gotta start saving for that Snoo and Uppa Baby! I'm feeling quite caught up on everything, which is a very rare feeling for someone with two busy jobs. I snack on some barbecue pop chips and catch up on MD. I listen to the new Mac Miller (so good) and then throw on the Carly Rae Jepsen station. Friday FUN.
5:45 p.m. — I've survived a five day work week! I head home and MAN does the street food in my neighborhood smell gooood. But alas, I have a veggie jambalaya to cook up from HelloFresh. I cook dinner while A. books us a campsite for next weekend. We're going to bring the dog and snuggle up beneath the redwoods and it will be dang nice.
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — We snuggle on the couch and catch up on last night's The Good Place. Exciting Friday Night, y'all! I stay up until about 10:45 because I am a party animal.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:35 a.m. — I awake to my dog crying — he can't go to the kitchen to drink water on his own. I take him, get him and the cats a snack, and then snuggle up back in bed with A. because it's Saturday!
9:30 a.m. — I take the pooch for a walk while A. hops in the shower first and when I get back I hop in. I get dressed in a Rolling Stones tee, a black and white Dalmatian midi skirt, and my beat-up white chucks. Comfort is key on styling days. It's an absolutely gorgeous morning and my client session isn't until noon so we decide to get breakfast at a diner in our neighborhood. I get an egg, vegan banana bread, vegan sausage, and orange juice. I pay for breakfast and A. will get dinner. $37.42
11 a.m. — I have an hour before my client so we walk over to Valencia together. We pop into a baby store since we have time. We don't buy anything but make some notes on our Amazon registry with what we liked.
12 p.m. — I meet my client at Everlane. It's always my preferred first spot because I love their basics and their jeans are magic. We make our way to a few other mission stops gathering some trendy cute pieces.
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — We stop for lunch because shopping makes you hungryyyy. We get a couple of tacos and chips and guac, the client gets a margarita and I get mine virgin. I pay because I include a lunch stop in my service. ($34.44 expensed)
4 p.m. — We have officially shopped till we dropped. She got some great new basics and stylish pieces that are going to be really versatile with her wardrobe. I head home and spare you the narration of all the dogs I pet. A. finishes the 49ers game while we ponder dinner plans and I read some of my new pregnancy book.
6 p.m. — Dinner is decided — Japanese tapas at a place a few blocks away. I get a miso soup, veggie gyoza, and veggie croquette along with a yuzu sparkling water. A. pays for dinner.
7:45 p.m. — At home, we change into soft clothes and watch Togo. I bawl my eyes out. I fold the laundry through the movie and put it away to avoid the crazy intense parts.
10:30 p.m. — I've cried off all my make up so a quick makeup remover wipe, my prenatal, and it's bed for me.
Daily Total: $37.42

Day Seven

4 a.m. — I wake up sobbing from a particularly vivid and horrible dream in which there's an earthquake and only me and the older cat survive, and A. and the other pets do not. I cry to A. IRL for a bit before falling back to sleep to more crazy dreams. Pregnancy hormones? Who knows.
Advertisement
8:30 a.m. — I wake up and am still wonky from last night. A. takes the dog on a walk and feeds everyone as he knows I didn't sleep well. We shower and head out for breakfast by 10. I buy because I also pick up a scone and tea for today's client. $34.98
11 a.m. — I meet my client at Everlane because, again, it works for everyone! We work our way to a couple more shops and find some amazing jeans and cozy versatile pieces for the hot mama.
1:30 p.m. — Again, shopping causes hunger. We split a pizza and a salad (she's veganish too, my ideal meal partner!). She also gets a glass of rosé and I pay. It's a little more than I usually spend but we're having fun. She offers to pay me back half. ($48.98 expensed)
4 p.m. — We've hit up a few more shops and are officially DONE. I head home and do some research and baby reading.
5 p.m. — I hop on a call for the cat rescue I'm a board member of. We chat about social media KPIs, donor retention, and the upcoming tax season. It's a quick call but I have some action items for the coming week.
7 p.m. — Football is over and we discuss dinner. We can't agree so we order separate deliveries. I order a veggie ramen and we settle in for a few episodes of Killing Eve before I'm asleep by 9:30 before A. eventually wakes me up for my vitamin and to move to the bed. I'm exhausted and not ready for the weekend to be over. $24.35
Advertisement
Daily Total: $59.33
We want to know: Have you ever had Group Chat drama? Are you in no fewer than 10 group chats — between iMessage, Instagram DM, Messenger, and Whatsapp? And are you constantly in fear of sending the wrong text to the wrong group? Or worse: sending something about the group to the group? Group chats are the ideal breeding ground for friend drama. Sound off here and tell us yours for a chance to be featured on the site!
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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. For more money diaries, click here.
Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series