A Week In Berkeley, CA, On A $80,000 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 project manager working in manufacturing who makes $80,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Smartfood popcorn.
Occupation: Project Manager
Industry: Manufacturing
Age: 31
Location: Berkeley, CA
Salary: $80,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,333 (with deductions listed below)
Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: $2,645 (I pay $1,645 for two-bedroom, two-bathroom shared with my girlfriend. We split rent proportional to income.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (Student loans are all paid off!)
Social Security: $206
Medicare: $48
California State Income Tax: $196
California State Disability Insurance: $33
Health & Life Insurance: $59
Car Insurance: $145
Renters Insurance: $14
Phone: Covered by my employer
Electricity: $50
Internet: $24
Water/Gas: $20
Storage Unit: $43 (I split this and utilities with my girlfriend.)
Netflix/HBO GO/Hulu/CrunchyRoll: $0 (We mooch off of friends and parents.)
Delta Silver Card: $10
MaxFun Podcast Network: $5
ACLU Donation: $30
Savings: I throw in a couple hundred each month…I have around $20,000 in my bank account right now. I'm slowly building my savings back up after a cross-country move.

Day One

9 a.m. — Even though it's the weekend, I get up early because I have some commission work I didn't do yesterday, and we're going to a party this afternoon!! I have crackers and Diet Coke for breakfast while I tap away at the computer.
11:30 a.m. — Finally finish writing my last commission! I offered to write NSFW fanfic commissions to get me through a couple months in between jobs, and it was WAY more popular than I expected. Almost a dozen people requested $40-$50 stories from a set list of video games/anime/TV series. I take half the payment up front, and the rest when it's completed. I stopped taking commissions a month or so ago, but it has still taken me some time to finish. I'll get paid for this one later this week after it goes through some final edits.
12:30 p.m. — My girlfriend, T., and I put on makeup and make ourselves pretty for the party before piling into the car to go into the city. We drive through McDonalds for a quick snack; I pay for food, and she gets the tolls. We cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and even though I moved to California a few months ago, I'm still not used to the sight of it! $4.90
2 p.m. — We get to the party! It's a pumpkin beer bracket party where we are ranking a bunch of different beers. I dislike beer and pumpkins, so about eight beers in, I am very ready to ralph. Somehow I power through.
4 p.m. — When the bracket is finished, we all snack on hummus and pumpkin spice-flavored snacks. Someone at the party mentions that a popular site that hosts fanfic is facing protests from younger fans for allowing "problematic ships." Fiction about content you might not agree with is a tenet of creative freedom (and also NSFW stories), so this goes against my whole brand. I donate a quick $10 to show my support — without them I wouldn't be able to do the commission work I do. Not to get all "kids these days," but teenagers need to do some research into the history of fanfiction (particularly LGBTQ+ and NSFW) and realize that without these sites, there'd be no fandom at all. $10
7:30 p.m. — After the party, we swing by Safeway to pick up some bottled lemon juice for my nighttime routine. I drink hot water and lemon juice every night, and it's become a craving for me as soon as the sun sets. I've heard it's better to drink in the morning because it helps with digestion, so hopefully it still works later in the day. $4.45
8 p.m. — Once we get home, T. works on a writing submission of her own that's due tomorrow while I relax. I give it a quick round of editing before she sends it out.
9:30 p.m. — I do my nighttime skin routine, which is basic AF — Neutrogena cleanser, rose water toner, and Clinique moisturizer and eye cream. We head to sleep early, bloated from beer.
Daily Total: $19.35

Day Two

8 a.m. — Wake up groggy and hop on an early morning conference call that goes an hour over schedule. I eat my toast and drink a Diet Coke while taking notes.
10 a.m. — FINALLY IT'S OVER. I put on my makeup — a full face because I'm extra like that — and get ready for the work day.
11 a.m. — I get into the office later than usual after the long phone call. My normal hours fall anywhere between 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. We're a young company, and I'm not held to a strict time table.
12 p.m. — Things are quiet; we had a huge event last week and half of the staff is at a conference out of town. I type up notes from this morning's meeting and nibble on snacks from the office kitchen.
1:30 p.m. — We have catered Mexican food today! My forever fave. I recently moved from Texas to live with T., and I'm not used to the difference between California and Texas Mexican food. Luckily the chicken enchiladas today are good. Someone also brought muffins! Like a filthy thief, I squirrel away three in my bag to take home for myself (two pumpkin spice, one chocolate chip.) There's plenty left over, so I'm sure no one will miss them...
2 p.m. — Even though it's fall, it's still in the 80s for some reason, so I wore a new summer jumpsuit to work. I'm not sure how I feel about it, and it's weird being able to wear super casual stuff to work. I switched to this position after working several years in politics where the dress code was stricter — it's a weird career jump, but I needed a change after the last couple years we've had.
7:30 p.m. — I head home and quickly cook up some pasta with pre-cooked shredded chicken, cream cheese, lemon pepper, and diced garlic. I call this my "desperation meal" since it is so completely basic, but T. loves it. Somehow she doesn't realize how TERRIBLE it makes my breath smell. Ah, true love.
8 p.m. — Boss calls me in a panic because he got a flat tire driving the company car. I call AAA and a tow truck gets him back to the office.
10 p.m. — An eventful night comes to an end, and I head to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

9 a.m. — Toast and a Diet Coke for breakfast. T. hasn't left yet, so we watch Estée Lalonde's October vlogs. After looking at all her makeup recs, I contemplate restarting my ipsy subscription....
10:30 a.m. — Get to work and immediately look into new subscription makeup boxes. I finally decide to try Glossybox! It's a little pricey ($21 a month!) but I find some referral codes and set it to three months, so it only comes to about $15 a month. $42.12
1:30 p.m. — There are still some muffins leftover, so I eat one and play around on my phone.
2:30 p.m. — AAA arrives to tow the company car to a body shop for new tires. It's a beautiful day and things are slow for me at the office, so I offer to accompany it and use the company credit card to pay.
3:30 p.m. — I get back to the office, and my boss says he's gonna bounce early, so I head home too. I finish up some work and sprint to my car....Being let out early literally never happens for me!!! I am usually at the office until well after sundown.
4:30 p.m. — Since I'm home early, I drag T. off the couch to go get burgers at Boss Burger in Albany. We ordered from this place for delivery once before, and it seemed fine, but it's always hard to tell with delivery burgers. When we get there, the place is super noisy and crawling with kids. I pay (we trade off paying for dates) and somehow one soda, one beer, and two small combos are incredibly expensive. We agree that for the price it's not any better than what we could get from Five Guys or In-N-Out — both of which we eat more than is probably healthy. $37.44
7 p.m. — I finish editing my final commission and send it off. I get paid for the back half of the work (+$21!) and the client really seems to like it. I'm relieved. I felt like I had kind of phoned this one in because my day job has been wild these first few months. Not sure when I'll open commissions again, but I feel very accomplished to be able to do creative work and get paid for it!
10 p.m. — We put ourselves to bed early like the old people we are.
Daily Total: $79.56

Day Four

8:30 a.m. — Breakfast is Diet Coke and a muffin. I call my new health insurance to start the long pre-authorization set up for the medication I'm on. I was diagnosed with MS a couple years ago, so I have continuing treatment that can cost anywhere between $400 and $11,000 per month if I don't file the right insurance paperwork on time. If everything goes right, the medication is free! If not... well, $11,000 is a lot of money that I don't have. I'm not worried, because I've managed to stockpile a couple months of medication, but I'll be happy when it's all sorted.
10:30 a.m. — I get to work and make a quick Naturebox order while I have the time, because I have some store credit that will expire soon. I choose two bags of Sriracha roasted cashews. I try not to snack, but when I do, I can inhale a whole package of these in one sitting. $8.44
2 p.m. — I eat my leftover enchiladas from lunch on Monday. A coworker joins me, which I don't mind because she's very nice, but I did sort of just want to play mobile games on my phone on my break...oh well. I am nice and social like a real human being.
3:30 p.m. — The car shop calls, and it's time to pick up the company car and its fancy new shoes! It's another beautiful day in California, so I don't mind the little break from work, and I head to the mechanic.
5 p.m. — I get back to the office, and my boss wants to go home early again! He tells me to take off too, since much of my work hinges on the two of us doing things together.
5:30 p.m. — I put some roast beef, potatoes, and carrots in the Crock-Pot when I left, so I serve that up for dinner...but I definitely put too much pepper in it. It tastes so bad I can't finish it, but T. gamely says it's good and eats the whole thing. I'm bummed it didn't turn out, but snacking on another muffin helps.
7 p.m. — T. wants to write, so I settle in on the couch and queue up the first two episodes of Westworld season two... I don't understand ANYTHING that's going on, but I love it. T. gets distracted and watches a little bit, but she doesn't like it, so I am on my own for watching the rest of the season.
10:30 p.m. — We crawl into bed after a couple episodes. I mention my chest feels really tight and T. says hers does too. We realize all the pepper at dinner probably gave us both acid reflux. Whoops!!
Daily Total: $8.44

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — Diet Coke and toast. I meant to wake up earlier and wash my hair, but I accidentally slept until my emergency alarm!
2 p.m. — Work is super busy! I sneak away to eat a muffin. The box of them is still chilling in the fridge, so I don't feel bad that I took some home earlier in the week.
4 p.m. — Things start to calm down, so I work on my Christmas list. It might seem childish, but my family goes ham at Christmas and we buy an obscene amount of presents for each other. I promised I'd get my mom a list of what I want by the end of the month, so I'm just pulling things off my Amazon "save for later" and sending it to her. Capitalism, wow.
6 p.m. — I still leave the office over an hour earlier than normal...I could get used to this!
7 p.m. — I get home and we decide to cook up all the leftovers from the past week. There's homemade spaghetti and meat sauce, that lemon chicken pasta, peppery roast beef....and we eat it all!! I show T. some more episodes of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but she says it stresses her out. Rebecca is a hot mess. Can't wait for the next season.
9 p.m. — We are throwing a Drink Talk and Learn (DTL) party this weekend. For anybody who hasn't seen these on social media, a DTL party is where everyone has to make a three-minute presentation on any topic of their choice. It's only Thursday, but a guest has already sent us her presentation! Neither of us have even started...
10:30 p.m. — Getting into bed, we make a note to finish our presentations tomorrow and practice them — there's a heavy drinking penalty for going over the three-minute mark, haha.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I wake up a little before my alarm but can't fall back asleep. I'm so exhausted. T. and I laze around in bed before we leave for our days. I nibble on crackers and Diet Coke for breakfast.
2 p.m. — For lunch I eat the last of the abandoned fridge muffins....I am officially all muffin-ed out.
3:30 p.m. — It's Friday and everyone in the office is ready to go home. I bite the bullet and order some hiking boots ($75.75) that I've been looking at since I fell on a hike earlier this month. I also grab some vitamin D gummies ($21.99), clear hair ties ($4.54), and an NYX eyebrow pencil ($6.59). $108.87
5 p.m. — Boss is leaving work early for a trip, so I offer to drive him to Oakland. We go over work stuff on the drive there, so it's productive, but traffic is awful on the way back. I use the downtime to call my parents. I try to make an effort to speak to them on my drive home whenever possible. I like to tell people that my parents and I talk so often because we have a big common interest — me!
6:30 p.m. — I finally make it home and cook up some spicy tacos, since T. is at a work dinner. I brown the ground beef, make salsa, and add black beans, green onions, and copious amounts of Tabasco before tossing it all in a tortilla with hot sauce and a little low fat sour cream. I watch another episode of Westworld... god, I love robots.
8:30 p.m. — T. comes home, interrupting Dolores's latest killing spree, and reminds me that I still need write up my presentation! I hustle and finish up a presentation on an under-appreciated video game series I loved as a kid. I'm excited to present tomorrow, although it's beginning to seem like not as many people will be coming. That's the drawback to throwing a party that comes with homework, lol.
11 p.m. — I finally finish my presentation! T. is already in bed, so I crawl in and join her. Sooo happy for the weekend at last!
Daily Total: $108.87

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — Wake up early and cuddle T. until she wakes up, too.
11 a.m. — T. and I crawl out of bed and go to Target to get party supplies. We end up buying tortilla chips, Smartfood popcorn, Landshark beer, tortillas, orange juice, lemonade, champagne, white wine, and rosé ($135.25). We also pick up some Clorox wipes and other cleaning supplies, two pairs of new pajamas, and home goods including a couple more fake plants. Because um, who can resist Target? I am embarrassed by how high the bill is this time ($73.52). T. pays me back for half, but we put it all on my Target card. $104.39
2 p.m. — Back home unpacking everything. We realize we definitely bought too much booze for seven people. I make a promise out loud to drink twice as much as normal to make up for it, and T. says I will regret it.
3 p.m. — We practice our speeches and nibble on some crackers for lunch. I'm under time and T. is over, so we watch BuzzFeed Unsolved and Worth It while tweaking our slides. We also set up the awards for our guests: Best Presentation, Best Dressed, and Best Time Management. We also have a Best Host award (the award figures came in packs of four), which we decide to give to our friend who held the Pumpkin Beer Bracket party rather than splitting it between ourselves.
5 p.m. — One of our college friends, N., is taking the bus in from Petaluma, and she is WAY earlier than we expected. With wet hair and no makeup, we run to the BART station to pick her up. We also grab some mixers and various sundries that weren't available at Target (green onions, fresh salsa, La Croix, and meat and cheese platters.) T. pays.
6 p.m. — N. catches up with us as we pregame and put on makeup. I get my hair and makeup done before I have to pick up another friend who came in from the city. He is one of my best friends from high school, and I'm so happy to be living in the same state again. When I greet him, I see he looks so dapper! I feel a little embarrassed to be caught in a t-shirt and sweats, but he says I "look like a celebrity running errands," so I decide to stay in the comfy clothes. Best Dressed award be damned!
7 p.m. — The party begins! The rest of the guests arrive, and everyone brought snacks but no real dinner. We all catch up, and I'm really excited to see a lot of my longtime friends meeting for the first time. It's always so surreal to introduce friends to each other who have been important figures in your life but at separate times. We slam back some drinks before starting the presentations in earnest.
8:30 p.m. — The presentations all go well! Everyone is hilarious and so informed. I'm sure we all learned a lot, or at the very least, drank a lot. T. and I go into another room to discuss who wins what awards. Apparently T. says I propositioned her for makeouts, which I don't really remember (thanks, booze), but all our friends agree that sounds like something I'd do.
11:59 p.m. — It's almost midnight, so time to kick these people out of our house! N. is spending the night so she doesn't have to make the long trek back. We tuck her into the guest bedroom and pour ourselves into bed. An hour later, I wake up feeling sick to my stomach and do not feel great until about 5 a.m.
Daily Total: $104.39
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