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A Week In Alexandria, VA, On A $74,950 Salary

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Today: a program analyst who makes $74,950 per year and spends some of her money this week on White Claws.
Occupation: Program Analyst
Industry: Government
Age: 26
Location: Alexandria, VA
Salary: $74,950
Net Worth: $102,652 (HYSA: $19,216, TSP: $14,905, Vanguard investment account: $56,945, Acorns: $1,508, “Free money” (cash back and Ibotta): $153, car: $9,925 (Credit Karma estimate)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,842
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $973 (my half of a two-bedroom, one-bath, split with my roommate)
Utilities: $75 (my half, split with my roommate)
Car Insurance: $78
Internet: $27 (my half, split with my roommate)
Phone: $70-$90 (varies)
Gym: $40
Yoga: I recently got a job as a yoga teacher (but am not teaching just yet), so my membership is free
TV/Spotify: I mooch off my roommate and boyfriend, so $0.
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 for me to attend higher education because I was the academically gifted one in my family — straight As, honor roll, etc. If I hadn't performed like that academically when I was younger, I'm not sure if the expectation would have been there as much. I'm sure my paternal grandmother would have expected it of me regardless but I'm not sure about my parents since they didn't attend college themselves. I attended a four-year university and it was completely free. The university had a generous financial aid plan that was based on your family's income, so we didn't have to pay anything.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn't really have conversations about money other than “yes, you can have that” or “no, we can't afford that.” Recently, my grandmother has started educating my cousin and me about saving and investing.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
Technically, my first job was as a camp counselor for two weeks. I got it because it was fun/easy and my aunt ran the camp so I didn't have to apply. The first real job that I count was working part-time at my local state park. I collected the fees for day passes, set up people's camping reservations, checked them in, and answered phones. I got a job so I could have my own spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. I knew we didn't have a lot but we always had enough. I definitely worried about it when applying to colleges, but got very lucky that I didn't have to worry about it once I was accepted.
Do you worry about money now?
I do, but it's most internalized pressure. I'm totally fine financially and have a very secure job. Even if I did lose my job for some reason, I have enough saved that I would be fine for a bit. I just feel sometimes that I should be saving more and that makes me worry, but I'm trying to have a more positive relationship with money. My current money mantra is: Money flows easily to me. I love spending money and I love making money.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became financially responsible for myself once I went to college at the age of 18. I stayed with my parents during breaks, but other than that I was on my own financially. I have a financial safety net in the form of my own savings. If it ever came to it, my parents would let me live with them, but they wouldn't be able to cover the cost of my current living situation/lifestyle.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes! My grandmother very proactively invested and became a millionaire just from her investments. She has generously gifted me some shares over the past two years. As I'm writing this now, it's about $50,000 in total. I haven't touched them and plan on keeping them invested until I'm older or really need the money for something.

Day One

5:35 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I snooze until 5:45. I get out of bed, get ready, and head out for the gym. All of the stair climbers are taken so I do a 20-minute incline walk on the treadmill, followed by lifting — it's triceps, chest, and shoulders day.
7:25 a.m. — I get home from the gym around 7:30 and sign on to my work laptop. I take my two dogs out, feed them, drink a protein shake, take my vitamins/supplements (women's daily, probiotic, collagen booster), and take a quick shower before settling down at my desk for the morning. It's been a slow start to the week so I catch up on emails.
9 a.m. — Breakfast time! I have overnight oats (oats, oat milk, chia seeds, peanut butter) with a banana. I also have some green tea (cold) with lemon — I've been making a pitcher of it every week since I read it's a natural antihistamine and the DC-area allergies are no joke this year.
12 p.m. — I take my dogs on our daily lunchtime walk! It's unseasonably cold this week and I am NOT happy about it. When I get back, I make a quick lunch while I keep working — Morningstar buffalo “chicken” nuggets and broccoli on the side.
3 p.m. — Afternoon slump hits, I snack on an orange and some nuts.
5 p.m. — Done with work, woo! I change into my running outfit and head out for a three-mile run. I stop at my apartment gym after the run to do some core and stretching. I get back, take a shower, and make dinner — a burrito with refried beans (homemade vegan ones), guacamole, rice, and peach salsa. After I eat, I watch Criminal Minds and Dollface.
8:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with my boyfriend who's in a different state for six months. He moved about a month ago and can't really travel while he's there. After six months, he'll move to Arizona to start a new job and the plan is for me to move with him. Afterward, I walk the dogs and brush my teeth. Then I lay down to read and journal before going to sleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — After some snoozing, I get up, get ready, and head to the gym. Leg day today! I work up the courage to use the squat rack for the first time at this gym. It's annoyingly crowded for 6 a.m. I started going before work because it's practically impossible to do my planned workout after work because it's SO crowded.
7:30 a.m. — I get home, do my usual routine and settle down at my desk. Work is slow so I work on making a logo for a friend's company. I'm trying to improve my graphic design skills to maybe make it a side hustle one day, so I like playing around with it.
9:15 a.m. — Breakfast time! Vegan protein pancakes with blueberries and a smoothie (oat milk, spinach, chia seeds, banana, frozen strawberries). Then I get back to work and do some tedious housekeeping stuff.
12 p.m. — I take the dogs on our lunchtime walk — it's a little bit warmer today. Then I have lunch (same as yesterday) and get back to work. I'm feeling sleepy after lunch so I have a small coffee.
4:30 p.m. — I feel like I've been at my desk forever, so time for a snack break! I cut up a mango and have some nuts. I finish up work around 5, but stay at my desk and work on a logo for an online contest.
5:45 p.m. — I head out for yoga. On the way, my gas light comes on, so I stop and fill up. $54
8 p.m. — I get home, reheat my refried beans and rice, make some more guac, and have the same burrito I had for dinner yesterday. I take a quick shower and then my friend texts me with a revision to the logo for her friend's company so I fix it and send it back. Then I read and journal until going to sleep around 9:30.
Daily Total: $54

Day Three

5:45 a.m. — I get up, get ready, and head out for the gym. Today I do 20 minutes on the stair climber followed by back and biceps. I try out the assisted pull-up machine because I've decided I want to work towards doing a pull-up and I have a ways to go. I get home around 7:30 and do the usual before I sign on to work.
10:45 a.m. — I'm busy with meetings all morning so I have a late breakfast (smoothie, vegan protein pancakes with blueberries).
12 p.m. — Time to walk the dogs! It's finally warm out, but insanely windy. Halfway through our walk one of my dogs throws up all of the grass he ate. I get back and have another burrito for lunch and get back to work.
4 p.m. — Snack time! I have an apple with peanut butter.
5 p.m. — After work, I have a weird amount of time to kill, so I make sauce since I ran out earlier in the week. Then I head over to my friend's place with my roommate to help her put together bouquets and gift bags for her wedding this weekend. I planned on ordering food but her parents end up coming over and I feel weird ordering it so I just skip dinner (not good!). I have a beer and a glass of champagne.
9:45 p.m. — I get home, walk the dogs, brush my teeth, and head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — I wake up, get ready, and leave for the gym. I do a leg workout. I'm starving at the gym. Skipping dinner last night was not a good idea.
7:20 a.m. — I get home and do my usual post-gym routine. It's payday and I owe my sister money for an Airbnb in Vermont that we're going to later this month so I venmo her. $112
8:20 a.m. — I'm extra hungry today from skipping dinner so I have an earlier breakfast — same as yesterday (smoothie and protein pancakes).
11:45 a.m. — I have an apple and some nuts then I take my dogs on our walk. Since it's Friday and work is slow, I take them on a slightly longer one than usual. We meet an adorable puppy on our walk!
12:30 p.m. — I get home, check my work emails, and then head out to the nail salon! I normally just paint my nails myself, but I like to do the occasional “treat yo' self Friday'' and since I have a wedding and a baby shower this weekend, I splurge on a mani-pedi. I get basic polish on my toes and gels for my nails — if I'm going to pay for them I'd rather them last longer. $108
2:45 p.m. — I'm hungry since and there's a Cava nearby so I go get some food to bring home. Traffic is bad getting home, but I can't complain when I just got a mani-pedi and a yummy lunch. $15
4 p.m. — I try to nap after work but can't fall asleep so I just hang out with my dogs and practice handstands. My roommate gets home and we watch TV. Then our friends' dog comes over because their rehearsal dinner is tonight and we wanna tire the dogs out. I also remember I need to order a bridal shower gift for another friend next weekend so I order her vases from her Amazon registry ($30). I have a mason jar and cold brew filter in my cart so I buy those too ($24). $54
6:30 p.m. — My roommate does an alcohol run before we leave for the rehearsal dinner so I ask her for some White Claws and venmo her. Then we leave for the rehearsal dinner — the best man is here with his car so he drives us. There's a buffet and an open bar! $22
11 p.m. — The open bar is supposed to close at 10 but they kept extending it — we call it a night around 11. I order the Uber home. Once I'm home, I take my makeup off and go right to bed. $14
Daily Total: $325

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — Wake up naturally because I always wake up early after a night of drinking — it's a curse. I hang out in bed/rest my eyes for a few hours because I don't feel up for going to the gym or anything, plus it was a planned rest day for me. I get up around 9 and make some toast — just sourdough and butter. I hang out with my roommate a bit after she wakes up.
12 p.m. — Time to run some errands! I go to CVS to get mini rubber bands to do braids in my roommate's hair. I also get stamps, Gatorade, and orange juice ($21). Then I go to the bank to get cash out to give for the wedding ($100). $121

12:45 p.m. — On my way home, I pick up lunch at a Vietnamese restaurant (a super yummy tofu sandwich and passion fruit tea). When I get back, I eat my lunch, hang out with my roommate, and sunbathe on our balcony with some mimosas. $15

5 p.m. — It's about time to get ready for the wedding so I do my makeup, get dressed, and we get our Uber. My roommate pays for the Uber. Another night of a buffet and open bar!

11 p.m. — The wedding was supposed to end at 10 but it gets extended until about 11:30. I head over to the afterparty with everyone at a bar a couple of blocks away. I order nachos and a drink. I hang out with some of the groomsmen and at one point I go up to order drinks and shots for everyone. One of the groomsmen asks me to put it on his tab but they can't find his name so I just pay. We all agree the shots are the worst we've ever had. They were supposed to be green tea shots but just taste like salt. $159

2 a.m. — The lights come on so we have to go home. I'm totally supposed to take an Uber home to my apartment because I have a flight tomorrow morning (to get to a baby shower) and an Uber already scheduled. BUT I walk to the hotel with the bride and groom and another one of their friends and we all just pass out in their hotel room.

Daily Total: $295

Day Six

6:30 a.m. — I wake up in the hotel room in a bit of a panic. I had alarms set earlier but I either missed them or they didn't go off. I get up, grab my purse, put on my heels, and head out the door. I order an Uber to my apartment to get my backpack, but it's 30 minutes away. My flight starts boarding at 7:45, so I just re-route the Uber to the airport. I'm charged for the Uber I scheduled and missed and the Uber to the airport. $83
7:10 a.m. — I'm at the airport and trying to figure out where to go. I'm literally navigating the airport in a yellow jumpsuit and heels and only my purse. And my phone is at 15% — I have an Android so it's not like I can just easily find someone with a charger. I get through security, kick my heels off, and run to my gate barefoot. The running is a bit anticlimactic. They're boarding but I'm the last group so I wait for 10 minutes and get on the plane at 8. It's actually a miracle that I made it. I figure my phone will probably die, but my friend has my flight number and her husband is planning on picking me up.
9:30 a.m. — Landed in North Carolina. My phone is very dead so I just head over to baggage claim since I know that's where I'm getting picked up. I only wait five minutes before I hear someone yelling my name — I actually made it! And my friend's husband has a charger that works for my phone in his truck. When I get to their house, I shower (one of the best showers I've ever taken) and rest my eyes for a bit until it's time to go. I just wear my jumpsuit for the shower since that's all I have with me.
12 p.m. — The baby shower starts. It's actually super cute and the best baby shower I've ever been to. It's at a wine place and the decorations are so cute and there's a rooftop to hang out on and the weather is perfect. I have a few glasses of champagne and catch up with some friends I haven't seen in a bit. $18
2 p.m. — The shower is over and we head to a brewery. I get a beer and buy my friend a beer because she bought me some champagne at the shower. Then we head to another bar two doors down. This is where things start to get out of hand. This one girl wants to do a shot so I do one with her. I also get an espresso martini. Then our other friends show up and three of us do another shot. I pay for all of the shots, my martini, and a martini for a friend. $109
4 p.m. — We drive (some people aren't drinking a lot) to another brewery about 10 minutes away. I have a beer, another shot, and a Moscow mule but the friends I bought shots and drinks for earlier pay for everything. Things get particularly out of hand here and I'm not sure exactly what time we leave but I think it's around 6:30.
7 p.m. — I'm at my friend's house and I'm supposed to eat pizza for dinner but I am so so exhausted from a night of drinking with only four hours of sleep followed by a day of drinking, so I just ask her if I can go to bed. She gives me some clothes to sleep in and brings the pizza into my room, but I immediately pass out. She has an alarm set for the morning to drive me to the airport.
Daily Total: $210

Day Seven

5 a.m. — I wake up and don't know where my phone is. I'm also starving so I eat my pizza. Then panic ensues as I really cannot find my phone. I find all of my belongings in my purse EXCEPT FOR MY PHONE. I look all throughout the house but I can't find it and accept that it's gone. I know I had it at the last place we went to so I'm hoping it's there, or in my friend's car. They're still sleeping and I don't want to wake them up this early so I just rest my eyes and try to go back to sleep.
9 a.m. — Okay, now I'm starting to get nervous because I would like to leave for the airport by 10:30/11 at the latest. I still don't want to wake my friend up so I hang out on her couch for a bit and read a coffee table book. At 9:30, I decide it's time to wake her up. Her door is locked and she doesn't wake up to me knocking! Ahh! I basically accept I'm not catching that flight at this point. I debate getting a rental car later, but my license is also with my phone. I try to go on their laptop but it's locked and I don't know the password. I get really creative and open up the internet on their TV. I can't log into ANY of my accounts because they all want me to authenticate with my cell phone. I find some random texting website and send a text to my friend who can call the friend that's asleep. Texting with a TV remote is not easy, but I'm quite proud of myself for thinking of this.
10 a.m. — She's awake! We spend a couple of hours trying to figure out how to track down my phone (the brewery is closed until 3). Eventually, we figure out how to track it on my friend's laptop and it's at the brewery, so we just have to wait until 3! I'm also super lucky that the friend I'm staying with has to go to Virginia tomorrow for work so I have a ride home.
3 p.m. — I'm reunited with my phone at last. At first, the bartender doesn't know where it is, but I find it in the bathroom (phew!). I turn it on and text my boss that I'll be working a half day the next day. We stop and get coffees. $6
3 p.m. — I get dropped off at another friend's house to shower and borrow some clothes. Around 5, another friend gets off from work so I get a ride over to her place so we can hang out and have dinner. We take her dogs on a walk, she makes me a yummy veggie quesadilla, and then we watch TV and catch up.
8:30 p.m. — I decide I should head out because I need to get back to the other friend's house to leave with her in the morning. I don't ask anyone to drive me because it's a 30-minute drive, so I just get an Uber. I go to bed around 11:30. $43
Daily Total: $49
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