Button: Pride 2020

A Week In Washington, DC, On A $100,000 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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 Senior Program Specialist who makes $100,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Mancala.
Occupation: Senior Program Specialist
Industry: Professional Services
Age: 25
Location: Washington, DC
Salary: $100,000 ($96,000 base plus ~$4,000 bonus)
Net Worth: I have $100,000 in savings between my 401k, Roth IRA, mutual funds, CDs, Robinhood stocks, and an HYSA
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,263.44 (net after taxes and pre-tax deductions)
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (Note: I moved in with my parents in November to relocate for a job based out of NYC. I now split my time 75/25 between my parents' house in the burbs and my boyfriend's place in DC. Before moving home, I was living with my boyfriend and I was paying $1,150 for my half of our loft apartment. I am currently in DC indefinitely due to coronavirus.)
Loans: $0 (College was paid for by $70,000 from my parents, $60,000 in scholarships, and $25,000 in loans I paid off.)
Car: $0 (I use one of the family cars when I am in the burbs)
Phone: $0 (on a family plan)
NYT subscription: $14
Donations: $150 (Planned Parenthood, ACLU, Yellow Hammer Foundation, St. Jude's, local animal shelter, local women's shelter, a few political candidates)
Spotify: $9.99
Amazon Music: $7.99 (my parents use this for their Alexa)
Netflix/Hulu/HBO: $0 (I mooch)
Apple Storage: $2.99
Gym Membership: $10.99 (for a gym in the burbs. I was paying $100 for my DC gym previously. My company also gives a $500 annual stipend for health and wellness.)
401k (biweekly, pre-tax): 10% of salary ($369.23 per paycheck) and my company matches 1/4 up to 6%
Healthcare (biweekly, pre-tax): $80 per paycheck for medical, dental, and vision
Credit Card (annually): $95 fee for travel rewards card
Prime (annually): $119 (my mom and I both use the account)
Advertisement

Day One

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off and brings me back to the reality of this weird new world we are living in. I hit snooze a few times and finally get out of bed closer to 7:30. It's a Monday morning so I am moving slow. Why do Mondays still feel like Mondays even though all the days are blurring together lately? I splash some cold water on my face as a ploy to wake myself up and then do my morning skincare routine (DermaE vitamin C serum and DermaE moisturizer).
8:30 a.m. — I finish a short meditation on the Insight Timer app. Now for my fun morning task of dragging S. out of bed (yes, my grown-ass-adult boyfriend, not a child). I make myself a cup of decaf English breakfast tea with a splash of cream and settle down on the couch with my laptop. I read a Money Diary and then get started on work.
12 p.m. — I make myself a salad with leftover chicken, goat cheese, and avocado with a slice of pumpernickel bread on the side. I then have a sweet treat (Bon Appetit's billionaire tahini bars that I made yesterday…I will eat many of these this week). I go for a 10-minute walk while on the phone with one of my aunts. It is in the 60s and beautiful today — I realize I forgot the first day of spring was last week.
3 p.m. — I call my dermatologist to get another order of my rosacea face wash and Retin-A cream. When I came down to DC a couple weeks ago, I was only planning to stay for a week, so I didn't bring some of my products that are in bulkier bottles and items I tend to share with my mom. Now that I am here indefinitely, I want to have them. I also order marula oil, a facial cleanser, a face mask, and under-eye hydrogels from ACURE ($44.11) and EltaMD facial sunscreen and Jouer Cosmetics overnight lip mask from the Dermstore ($58.78). I buy more from ACURE than I need to meet the free-shipping minimum. I then look in the mirror and question why I've been spending so much money on skincare lately when my skin was perfectly fine with Dove soap and Olay moisturizer before I started this ~journey~ a few months ago. $102.89
Advertisement
5:15 p.m. — I snack on some cashews and an orange, throw a load of laundry in the washer, and finish up with work. I shut my laptop at 5:30 and do Day One of Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube.
7 p.m. — After reading for a little while (Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, HIGHLY recommend), I get started on dinner. On the menu tonight is a pasta dish with asparagus and cannellini beans in a lemony butter sauce and of course a heaping pile of parmesan cheese. Does anyone else love cheese more than most things on this earth?
9 p.m. — S. and I pretend to be responsible adults and do some chores. He cleans the kitchen and I fold our laundry while watching an episode of Grace and Frankie. We spend some time talking on the couch afterward.
10 p.m. — I get ready for bed and do my nighttime skincare routine (micellar water, the last of my travel size rosacea facewash, rosacea cream, DermaE eye cream, DermaE night cream). I read some of my before-bed-book (The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington) before turning off the lights.
Daily Total: $102.89

Day Two

7 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. I creepily stare at S. while he sleeps and think how nice it is to be back in our apartment. We still consider it “our” apartment even though I don't pay rent anymore. When I relocated, we decided S. would handle the rent on his own because it is the same amount he was paying for his own place before we moved in together and he makes more than double my salary, so I don't feel guilty about this arrangement.
Advertisement
10 a.m. — S. and I decide to take 10 minutes to do a couple of things around the apartment. He vacuums and I change the sheets.
12:15 p.m. — I get off a call and break for lunch, which really just means I eat lunch in front of my computer as I read emails. My company does not have a lunch break culture but when I work from home, I try to take 10 minutes to do something else a few times a day. I figure if I were in the office, I would probably be spending that time talking to a coworker or doing a lap around the floor anyway. Today is leftover adzuki bean rajma and rice that S. made last week. I top it with cilantro, pickled onions, and a dollop of Greek yogurt. I eat a billionaire bar after.
5:30 p.m. — Done with work. I have a piece of cheese and cashews as a snack while I talk to my parents on the phone. I miss them, especially since before the COVID outbreak I had been spending a lot more time with them than usual. I tell myself I'll do yoga later tonight (spoiler: I do not).
7 p.m. — I go to Trader Joe's and pick up lettuce (cruciferous crunch…if you know, you know), limes, walnuts, and jojoba oil for S.'s beard ($19.93). The shelves at TJ's have been pretty well stocked the last few times I've gone, which makes me feel some semblance of normalcy. Then, someone walks by in an N95 mask and gloves, and that feeling quickly dissipates. I also pick up tacos and a margarita from Tico because it is #TakeoutTuesday ($22.60). I have a facetime dinner date scheduled with one of my closest friends tonight. My boyfriend will fend for himself for dinner but rumor on the street is he is going to make banana bread tonight. $42.53
Advertisement
9 p.m. — I do an hour of work while S. bakes and then I hop in the shower. It smells so good when I get out, but I decide to wait till tomorrow to have a piece. I do my normal nighttime routine plus Retin-A. The kitchen is a mess, but I decide to ignore it and hope S. cleans it up tonight. I read a little and tuck myself in by 11.
Daily Total: $42.53

Day Three

3 a.m. — I wake up when S. comes to bed. We have very different sleeping schedules and very rarely go to bed/wake up at the same time, but this is late even for him. I hope he was up later than usual because he was cleaning the kitchen.
8 a.m. — And….the kitchen is not clean. I feel like we are constantly cleaning the kitchen and as soon as it is clean it just gets messed up again almost immediately. I do a meditation, make a cup of tea (TJ's ginger turmeric tea), and settle into work.
12 p.m. — Lunch is leftover pasta from Monday night. I stare out the window for a little bit just to remind myself that the outside world still exists.
12:50 p.m. — The online pharmacy bills me for my rosacea facewash ($35). I have definitely spent a lot of skincare products this week, which is not necessarily typical for me, but I am restocking so I don't beat myself up about it. $35
Advertisement
3:30 p.m. — I take a BBB (banana bread break). I also browse Zillow for unrealistic dream homes, one of my favorite things to do when I have a few minutes during the workday. What job does one need to have in order to buy a $5 million home anyway?
6 p.m. — After I finish up with work, I do Yoga with Adrienne and then spend some time on a workbook my therapist gave me. This winter, I decided that since I was saving a huge sum of money not paying rent it was finally time to invest in a mental health issue that has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. I am now seeing a specialist for disordered eating. It was huge for me to realize that there was not actually a problem with my body but with my mind. I plan to continue for six months to a year, so it will be a big financial investment, but hopefully, one that yields a lot of positive outcomes. This week my homework is to develop a mindfulness and meditation practice.
8 p.m. — After finishing another hour of work I stop for dinner. S. makes pork chops and green beans and cleans up the kitchen. I talk to my mom for a little and then my grandma. S. and I eventually go for a nighttime stroll.
9 p.m. — I am trying to build more holistic self-care into my life, but tonight I decide to do some cliché self-care. I draw myself a bath with Epsom salts and lavender oil, listening to a podcast on self-acceptance while I soak. (Am I the definition of #wellness yet?) I change up my skincare routine a bit tonight, starting with an exfoliating scrub from ACURE. Since my usual marula oil hasn't arrived yet I use jojoba oil and my jade roller (I know, I know…I am but an impressionable millennial who is susceptible to influencer culture). Top it off with moisturizer and I feel like a new woman.
Advertisement
11 p.m. — Lights out after a little bit of reading.
Daily Total: $35

Day Four

9 a.m. — My best friend since the day I was born still lives next door to my parents. She goes over and has her coffee on the patio with my mom (keeping six feet apart) and FaceTimes me so I can join. I have my tea and a piece of banana bread as we chat. While I love having extra time in DC with S., I also miss regularly seeing them, my dad, my grandparents who live across the street from my parents, and my brother who lives 20 minutes away from them.
12 p.m. — I take a break from work to go for a quick walk and talk on the phone with one of my aunts. She just got furloughed from her job and is in three different high-risk groups for coronavirus, so I want to make sure she is okay. I've felt okay going for walks as long as I keep distance from others who are out, but with the new CDC guidance to wear cloth masks in public I am now confused if going for walks is irresponsible. I don't even know where I would get a cloth mask at this point.
1 p.m. — I have crackers with cheese and jam and grape leaves for lunch. I place an order on Amazon for Bananagrams, Mancala, Brita filter replacements, and a new pair of earphones that plug into my computer. $67.86
Advertisement
2 p.m. — Work hasn't been too busy today. My normal work schedule fluctuates. I tend to work between 40-50 hours a week, with some more intense 60-hour weeks very rarely. I am always online 9-5 but sometimes work outside those hours. I work on a team that supports executives who are very busy, so sometimes I will wait all day for something I need, get it at 7, and then have to work at night to get it back out for something happening the next day. I switched to this internal role after working in one of my company's client-facing business lines for four years. I'm really happy with my new role and even when I work on nights and weekends, I still enjoy the job.
6:30 p.m. — I finish yoga and the fire alarm goes off. This is obviously not an ideal situation when people are trying to social distance. Since we are outside anyway, we swing by the market next to our apartment and pick up three bottles of sparkling water, plantains, and an avocado ($9.20, I pay). The fire ends up not being too serious. I am very thankful for the first responders working during this pandemic. I want to make a donation to DC FEMS and look online, but that doesn't seem to be a thing you can do? I donate to DC's United Way fund instead ($20). $29.20
8 p.m. — S. finishes up work and we have a wonderful dinner of salad with a selection of Trader Joe's freezer aisle's finest — pork buns and kung pao chicken mochi balls. We settle in on the couch and watch an episode of Below Deck Sailing Yacht and a few episodes of Kim's Convenience. At some point, I shower and head to bed.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $97.06

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up to a glorious work-free Friday. I originally had today off for a trip but canceled it due to the COVID outbreak. I lounge in bed and cuddle up to S., then eventually get up and make a bowl of oatmeal.
10 a.m. — I intend to spend my day off watching trash TV. The rest of the day is filled with Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Love is Blind. I pause at some point to have lunch, which is pasta fagioli soup from the freezer that S. made the other week with a slice of pumpernickel bread. Of course, a billionaire bar follows.
4 p.m. — I break from my marathon to do yoga. I read for a little bit, snack on cheese with jam, and have a can of San Pelligrino aranciata soda while I wait for S. to finish with work. For anyone looking for new cheeses to try, I highly recommend unexpected cheddar from TJ's.
7 p.m. — We open up a bottle of wine. Last weekend, S. surprised me with a wine delivery from Domestique, a local shop that was running a special where you order six or more bottles and tell them what you like, and they curate the box for you. We are trying to support as many local businesses as we can during this time, especially because neither of our incomes have been impacted. Dinner is bento boxes we order from Izakaya Seki ($25 but S. pays).
Advertisement
9 p.m. — We FaceTime my mom for a little while, then S.'s mom, then S.'s brother and SIL. Afterward, we end up in a serious conversation about our future, because what better way to spend a Friday night in quarantine. We are trying to figure out if we want to end up in NYC, DC, or somewhere completely different. Without much more direction than we had before, we watch an episode of Modern Family and I head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

10 a.m. — After watching a few episodes of Love is Blind I wake up S. and we have the last of the banana bread. I FaceTime one of my closest friends so I can see my two-year-old godson and then we add in another one of our friends who just found out yesterday that she passed the bar exam for a little virtual celebration.
1 p.m. — We head to Trader Joe's with makeshift masks made from scarves. I want to stay calm and rational during this crazy time, and I am not sure if wearing a scarf over my face is necessary, but I will absolutely follow what public health professionals tell me to do. There is a line to get into TJ's because they are trying not to overcrowd the store, and at the front of the line an employee squirts hand sanitizer into our palms before we can enter. We get lettuce, limes, lemons, bananas, oranges, basil, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, green beans, carrots, baby carrots, shredded coconut, almonds, cheese, eggs, ground turkey, flank steak, pork tenderloin, frozen chocolate-covered strawberries and bananas, mini mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches, and can of La Colombe coffee ($74.70, I pay). $74.70
Advertisement
2 p.m. — Lunch is TJ's kale gnocchi with tomato, goat cheese, and basil. We watch a couple of episodes of Kim's Convenience and Insecure and do some cleaning. I also have two of the mini ice cream sandwiches.
7 p.m. — We open up a bottle of wine and drink it with some manchego cheese while we cook dinner. Tonight, we are making carne asada tacos and fried plantains. I bought S. a tortilla press for the holidays to encourage him to make tacos regularly, and it has definitely been a success. We watch the movie Uncorked on Netflix and then I fall asleep on the couch. (Billionaire bars were also consumed at some point.) S. convinces me to go up to bed around midnight.
Daily Total: $74.70

Day Seven

10 a.m. — I finish my virtual therapy appointment, very thankful that I still have access to therapy during this period of social distancing. I pay $185 a session and go every week. Insurance should reimburse 70% once I hit my out-of-network deductible of $800, which I'll be able to hit in about five weeks. I eat some oatmeal and go back to bed to cuddle with R. $185
12 p.m. — I FaceTime my brother for a while. We are polar opposites, but he is one of my best friends. I give my mom a call afterward to check in on how she and my dad are doing. He is a small business owner who will be financially impacted by the current situation and my mom was in the middle of a job search after resigning from her previous job at the beginning of winter. She assures me they have enough tucked away and don't need any financial help from me right now. My parents are very comfortably middle class and I grew up with financial security and privilege. I don't give my parents any money even though I am currently living with them because it is not expected, they would never accept it, and there is an understanding that I will take care of them when they are older. I fully expect my parents to live with me one day when they no longer want to or can safely live independently, and I factor this into my financial planning.
Advertisement
2 p.m. — I scramble some eggs for lunch and eat that with fry bread that S. makes from the discard of our sourdough starter. I also eat an orange that S. graciously peels for me. I am a strong independent woman who cannot peel an orange to save her life. We watch the documentary One of Us on Netflix.
4 p.m. — S. lets me shave off his entire beard. I first make it a goatee, then a soul patch, then just a stash, and finally smooth as a baby's butt…obviously taking funny pictures of the progression to send to everyone we know. We are clearly trying to find new ways to entertain ourselves these days. He also places a Fresh Direct delivery order of stir fry meat, shrimp, a whole chicken, beans, almond extract, broccoli rabe, chives, cilantro, mushrooms, broccoli, potatoes, and shallots ($66.51, he pays). We are going to try to limit our grocery runs to max once a week, and maybe even try to move to bi-weekly, so we buy slightly more groceries than usual this weekend.
7 p.m. — S. makes curried chickpea lentil soup for dinner (Alexandra Stafford recipe found on Food52). He cleans the kitchen and packs up the leftovers for the rest of the week. (I think he's a keeper.) I have two of the mint-choco chip ice cream sandwiches and we watch a few episodes of Insecure. A friend posts a link fundraising for the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund and I make a donation ($100). $100
Advertisement
8 p.m. — One of my friend's posts on Facebook sharing that his aunt passed away today from complications from COVID. I also get an email from work that someone at our company passed away this weekend from complications. I didn't know either of these people personally, but this is really starting to hit close to home.
10 p.m. — I shower and get ready for bed. This completes week three of quarantine. I go to sleep not completely mentally prepared for week four.
Daily Total: $285
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
Calling all nurses: Nurse Week is coming up and we want to feature you! Whether you’ve always wanted to do a Money Diary or want to write about your life as it is now - we want to read your diary. Send an email to moneydiary@refinery29.com with the subject line “Nurse Week” for a chance to see your diary published on Refinery29. Thank you for all you do!
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.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series