Money Diaries logo

A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $110,000 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.
Has your COVID rent discount expired? What's the largest rent increase you've ever faced? Did you manage to negotiate it down? Tell us your experience here to be included in an upcoming Refinery29 story.

Today: a product manager who makes $110,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Miyoko's vegan cheese.
Occupation: Product Manager
Industry: Entertainment/Event Services
Age: 33
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $110,000
Net Worth: ~$170,000, depending on the stock market and crypto valuation ($35,000 in an emergency fund, $10,000 in a 401(k) sponsored by my employer, $40,000 in a Roth IRA, ~$55,000 in crypto assets, $25,000 in a money market account, and $5,000 in cash.)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~$2,600
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,585 for 700 sq. ft. apartment on the west side of Los Angeles. Living alone is the best, as is rent control!
401(k): $1,500 (taken out before I see my paycheck)
Roth IRA: $500
Netflix: $14
Classpass: $111 (my insurance drops this from $140 to $111, and sometimes I pause it for a month to catch up on my credits. I am a ClassPass superfan.)
Spotify: $10
Car Insurance: $50
Cell Phone: $50
Nugg Club Subscription $130 every three months (A weed subscription box that comes with a wholesale discount blend of flower, edibles, and vapes. I've smoked nearly daily for over a decade, but hate going to dispensaries, so am a huge fan of Nugg Club, and I always have extra goodies to gift to friends.)
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?
There was an expectation that I would go to higher education because I was book smart, but my parents are also big fans of vocational education. A great uncle I met once, left my whole generation of cousins $50,000 to pay for school. I received scholarships and ended up spending much less on my schooling, so I was paid out $32,000 when I turned 30 for what I didn't spend when I was in school. I received an out-of-state tuition waiver, a merit-based scholarship, and worked full time throughout my college career, so mercifully graduated without debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My parents owned a small business together and are both very frugal, so money was spoken about frequently. My parents had fairly strict budgets for everything. We got $100 for back-to-school shopping and my mom has kept a balance sheet of all of her child-related expenses since we were born. Money and a certain level of financial anxiety were somewhat constant, despite the fact that they have been financially stable for many years (if not their entire lives).
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I nannied regularly as a teen and eventually got an after school retail job. My brother and I were expected to pay half for everything, including summer camps in elementary school, all the way to debate competitions in high school.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I did not necessarily worry about money — we had a nice house and nice things — but I was always aware that saving was more important and better than spending. I have had to grow into a healthier relationship with money and learn how to spend in ways that bring joy and ease.
Do you worry about money now?
Living in LA is expensive, so I would be lying if I said no, but I rarely am concerned about money itself. In recent years I have realized that I have more than I need or could have ever expected. However, I do entertain the idea of early retirement and that keeps me aware of money and relatively frugal.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I left for college, my parents let me know that I would not be welcome to stay with them in the future, so I have handled everything for myself since then. My current financial safety net is my emergency fund and my brother and I have made a pact that we will always support each other if the need arises, at least in terms of a place to live.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
My parents bought savings bonds for me when I was little instead of giving me birthday parties, so those have also matured. I forget how much they were worth exactly, but it was somewhere in the $10,000-$15,000 range. There are still a few left waiting to mature before I cash them out; I'm uncertain of their total value, but it will be another few thousand dollars. My parents also started a money market account for me as a child; it is now worth $25,000. I also received money to support my college experience in the form of an investment account. I believe it was worth around $55,00 when I started college. When I turned 30, it got paid out and I got a lump sum of ~$32,000. One interesting aspect of the money market account is that I was not aware of it until I turned 30 years old, so recently have been able to relax considerably as I realized that I have more security than I thought. The same happened with the money for college — I was not made aware of the money until I had already applied and been accepted to school. Sneaky parents thought that I would make different decisions if I knew that I had more financial resources. Looking back, I respect this call, though it certainly meant that I had moments of financial stress in my 20s.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up, grumble a bit, remember that I scheduled a Pilates class via Classpass, and roll out of bed. I bought a Nespresso machine off of Craigslist mid-pandemic as a self-care purchase and still enjoy the ease of a cup of coffee made for me each morning. I pop a Caramel Cookie pod in and put it to work. While it's brewing, I tug on leggings, a sports bra, and a sweatshirt. I went to bed late after staying up drinking mezcal and playing Clue with some friends, so I'm not in prime shape for this workout. Regardless, I will do anything to avoid the $15 late cancel fee from Classpass.
9 a.m. — I get home from class and am absolutely ravenous. I fry an egg while some bacon sizzles in the air fryer. I put it over leftover sautéed cabbage and scarf it down. Still hungry, I put vegan yogurt and granola into a small bowl and hop into my first call of the day.
1 p.m. — A productive day of UX copywriting and QAing some new features! Time is flying. I pull some beef bone broth and fresh rice noodles out of the fridge and make a weak pho/ramen concoction. It's clean out the fridge week because I'm headed to the East coast at the end of the week and hate wasting food. I chug a big bottle of water to offset the super salty broth.
4:45 p.m. — I realize that today might become one of those days where I don't leave the house except my morning workout, which seems sad but I'm used to it in this weird semi-post-COVID world. There were weeks last year where I only left to take walks, but now that the sun sets at 4, I feel even less motivation to get out of the house. I have a bunch of errands I can run, though, so I pack up a few boxes of returns and head out to the UPS store before it closes. They all came with prepaid labels, so at least my online shopping habit has something of a "reverse" button.
9 p.m. — I typically don't check a bag when I travel, but I have a lot to bring to my parents' house so I log on to the airline website and add a checked bag ($30). A little peckish, I pop a bag of popcorn for dinner and catch up on some shows before heading to bed. $30
Daily Total: $30

Day Two

8 a.m. — Heading to the office today — I go twice a week to stay sane, take meetings in person, and hang out with my boss. I grab a Nespresso, breakfast bar, and a Mosaic meal from the freezer (vegan and gluten-free; bought on a Black Friday deal so they were around $4 each) to have for lunch.
4 p.m. — I don't get as much done as I want today, but it was good to get out of the house. I pack up and go out to dinner with a friend.
7 p.m. — I go to dinner at the new trendy wine bar across town and ordered the steak, puttanesca, a frisée salad, and some broccolini, but the real star of the show is the wine! My dinner companion covers dinner to pay me back for letting his friend crash on my couch — though he knows I would've done it for free. I want a nightcap and dessert, so we stop off at another bar and grabbed a round of cocktails and a date caramel bacon cake that was indeed the best cake I've ever had. I pick up the (much smaller) check. I head home, smoke some weed, and am in bed by midnight. $50

Daily Total: $50

Day Three

7 a.m. — I miss my Classpass class — I could've SWORN I canceled it last night mid-dinner, but turns out I didn't confirm the cancellation, so here I am ($15 late cancel fee). I use the hour instead to run some errands: packing tape from Staples ($10), shipping out some packages at USPS ($28), and then I drop my car off at the mechanic for an oil change ($122) before heading home to work. I think about grabbing something for breakfast while I'm out, but end up frying some eggs and potatoes at home instead. $175
1 p.m. — I spend some time cleaning out the fridge and tidying my apartment. To reward myself (and because I have nothing in the fridge), I DoorDash a Chipotle salad and chips ($12) and settle in to QA a new feature for a couple of hours. I am not a very good QA and pass all of the test cases I'm assigned without difficulty. I'm sure that will come back to haunt me later. $12
6 p.m. — Friday night! Time to log off. I walk over to my friend's house to watch How To with Jon Wilson, smoke, and snack. She's more anxious about Omicron than I am, so she rapid tests before I arrive and we smoke our own joints and eat our own snacks and stay six feet apart, which isn't hard and is well worth it to spend some sweet one-on-one time with her before I leave town.
Daily Total: $187

Day Four

4 a.m. — I wake up at 4 a.m. and my Oura ring tells me I have a 102-degree fever, and my brain goes into overdrive. I had a slight headache last night, but didn't think anything of it. I google Omicron symptoms and they all line up: headache, muscle pain and spasms, fever. I send texts to everyone I saw yesterday so they're aware and I ask my friend to bring over some at-home tests when he wakes up before taking a bunch of ibuprofen and going back to sleep. Fuck.
9 a.m. — My friend drops off rapid tests, pineapple, and kombucha. For all of the ways that LA sucks socially, after six years, I have a real A-team of people who will show up for me if I need them, and this is evidence. I take the tests: the first is negative. Second one is positive. I schedule a PCR test for later in the day and realize that I won't be going home tomorrow and I'll be spending the next few weeks in quarantine. This sucks.
3 p.m. — On the way back from the PCR test, I drive through and get a fried chicken sandwich and sweet tea. Maybe eating will help? I have a pounding headache, body aches, and a high fever. After I pick up my food, I feel like I shouldn't have driven through anywhere and pledge not to do that anymore. I call my mom on the way home and tell her what's up. She cries, it's been a long year being away from them, and we were all really looking forward to being together. $10
8 p.m. — The friend I hung out with last night is now quarantining, which makes me feel horrible. I can't believe I put some of my most cherished friends at risk. She sends me dinner and I send her dinner. It's not about the money as much as it is the sentiment — we're in this together. I send her pho and Thai iced tea. She sends me tom kha soup, coconut water, and a Sprite. I go into my email and cancel my flights home. Thankfully, they (and the bag I added earlier in the week) will all be refunded. $32
Daily Total: $42

Day Five

9 a.m. — I wake up late; no headache, no fever, but still feeling generally unwell. I post on Instagram about having the 'cron —suddenly a dozen or more people reveal that they also just came down with it.
4 p.m. — I order some crackers, fruit, soup, and juice from Instacart, plus some salmon, veggies, and some slightly fancy fixings like Miyoko's vegan cheese. I tip generously for obvious reasons. $132

9 p.m. — I eat more weed gummies than a sumo wrestler would require and melt into my bed.

Daily Total: $132

Day Six

7 a.m. — I wake up feeling pretty okay. I make a Nespresso and talk to my boss before taking the day off to rest up. I sneeze dozens of times in a row several times over. Fun!
2 p.m. — In a moment of optimism, I order delivery — a couple of cold cut sandwiches, chips, and a giant Coke. None of these things are part of my normal diet, and when they arrive, I drink the soda and put the rest in the fridge. I get an email that my office is remaining closed through the end of next month. Back to 2020! $30
7 p.m. — A friend sends over an order of matzo ball soup from the deli, which hits the spot. It's always a good time for soup.
10 p.m. — I consider purchasing about 800 different things to somehow fix or improve this experience, but I look around my apartment and see the result of two years of pandemic and manage to hold off. Getting the most out of my Netflix subscription is enough right now.
Daily Total: $30

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I wake up feeling pretty much back to normal, but swiftly realize I have no desire to actually do anything and am pretty tired. After reading up a bit on long COVID, I decide to continue taking it extremely easy. I make a Nespresso, have about two sips, and go back to bed.
2 p.m. — I order hummingbird feeders to be shipped to my parents' house since I was planning to bring them as a gift. I'm so annoyed I can't go home. $14
7 p.m. — I've only eaten fruit so far today, so I make a little charcuterie board for myself, pour a small glass of wine, and watch National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Planning on going back to work a light day tomorrow, I head to bed relatively early.
Daily Total: $14
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience 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.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series