A Week In Redwood City, CA, On A $60,913 Income

Photo: Alamy.
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 teacher who makes $60,913 per year and spends some of her money this week on ramen.
Occupation: Teacher
Industry: Education
Age: 27
Location: Redwood City, CA
Salary: $60,913
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $4,097.77 (This varies based on how many days I work per month/holidays.)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,060 for my portion of our one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. (My boyfriend, O., pays the rest of the $2,356 rent.)
Student Loans: $0 (My parents paid for most of my school and the rest is paid off.)
Pet Rent: $60 (I don't want to violate my lease!)
Apartment Parking: $35
Internet: ~$40 for my share
Utilities: ~$35 for my share
Pandora Premium: $9.99
Netflix: $10.95
Hulu: $0 (O. pays.)
California Teachers Association: $105 pre-tax
CalSTRS Retirement: $490 pre-tax (percentage of paycheck, varies monthly)
Savings: $2,000 of each paycheck goes into a summer savings high interest account that my credit union offers. The money is transferred into my regular checking account when summer comes around. It's a way for teachers to save for the summer months when we don't get paid.
Additional Expenses
Car Insurance: $586.77 every six months

Day One

7 a.m. — Wake up time! It's Friday, so that makes it a little easier to get out of bed. I go through my morning routine, get dressed, and make green tea. Then I grab the lunch I packed last night, and I'm out the door by 7:25.
7:40 a.m. — I'm lucky that I have such a short commute. I get to work and do my basic makeup routine. (Yes, I do my makeup at work — like everywhere else in the Bay Area, the parking is limited at my job, and I want to make sure I get a spot in the lot.) I use BareMinerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer, a L'Oreal blush, some random tiny sample mascara, and brush my eyebrows into place with my two-year-old Anastasia brow pencil spoolie. I eat a Clif bar and strawberry Greek yogurt.
11:30 a.m. — The bell for lunch rings and it's drizzling a bit, so my students ask if they can eat inside. It sounds heartless, but I say no — I used to let them eat in my room whenever they wanted, but the trash and crumbs they left behind was ridiculous. After, like, six warnings, I finally put my foot down. In solitude, I eat my green salad with steamed chicken. Not bad. I make sure I have time to use the bathroom for my second of two bathroom breaks I get to take throughout the day. The life (and bladder) of a teacher.
3 p.m. — After a few more hours of teaching, the bell finally rings! I try not to stay late at all on Friday afternoons, but it's the best time to make copies. I make copies for next week, get my whiteboards ready for Monday, and say bye to my next-door neighbor on my way out at 3:25.
4 p.m. — Friday afternoon is a great time to use the gym in my apartment complex because it's always empty! I get to play my music loud on the treadmill and don't have to worry about shoving my earbuds back into my ears every thirty seconds. I do two miles on the treadmill and an arm workout before heading back upstairs to shower. I went to a barre studio that I LOVED when I lived in Southern California, but the monthly memberships up here are out of the question.
4:43 p.m. — O. gets home from work with a huge surprise — a dozen roses! This is the second time in four years together that he's gotten me flowers. They're lovely.
5:30 p.m. — O. and I go out to celebrate Friday. We head to a local ramen place that we like and each get a bowl of ramen. He gets a beer and I get a spicy tuna roll. We usually split the bill when we go out, although we don't keep track of every cent. He offers to split with me, but I know he had a rough week at work, so I treat. The total comes out to $41.46 and I leave a $9 tip. $50.46
7:04 p.m. — When we get home, I watch The Act on Hulu. I remember when the case with Gypsy Rose Blanchard was in the news a few years ago, and Patricia Arquette is amazing and reminds me of Holes, so I have to watch. O. isn't interested and plays video games instead.
9:24 p.m. — Even though it's Friday night, I'm hella tired, so I start getting ready for bed. I clean the litter boxes (nasty), scrub my hands clean, and double cleanse. Whoever said acne goes away in your twenties (my dad) doesn't know what they're talking about, but I finally got my acne under control a few years ago with the help of Tazorac. I use it on my face every other night. I floss, brush, moisturize, and hit the sack by 10:00.
Daily Total: $50.46

Day Two

8:24 a.m. — Saturday morning! The one day of the week that I get to sleep in. O. takes his car in early for an oil change, and I laze around in bed, scrolling through my phone and trying to get my cat to lay on my stomach. After half an hour I get up, feed the cat, and eat an apple in preparation for the gym.
9:16 a.m. — My foot hurts from running yesterday, so I do the elliptical for 25 minutes. I do a leg workout, a zillion crunches, and go back home to shower.
11:56 a.m. — O. and I take the bus downtown for lunch before heading to the Wine Trail in San Carlos. We used to take Ubers or Lyfts when we knew we would be having a few drinks, but the bus is way cheaper, so we do that now. I pay for my ticket on my app ($2.25) and we decide on getting Mexican food. We each get a margarita, and I get fish tacos. The food is great. We split the bill. $35.98
2:20 p.m. — O. treats at the first wine tasting room we visit. I haven't been to this one before and the pours seem a little small, but the wine is good. I can't distinguish any of the different notes of fruits that are allegedly in my glass, but tasting is always a good time. We have enough time to visit another tasting room and walk down the block.
4:05 p.m. — I've been to this tasting room before, and we hang out there, savoring the weekend. I keep reminding myself to live in the moment and not think about my next week of work. The total for two tastings is $29.49, and I tip $5 because we had some of the snacks laid out. O. pays for our bus tickets back home. $34.49
6:32 p.m. — We have leftover steamed chicken and broccoli at home, and I don't want to spend any more money today, so I heat it up for dinner. The new John Wick movie is coming out in a couple of months, so we watch the original as we eat. I get out my knitting stuff and hope that my tendonitis in my wrist doesn't flare up. We want to go hiking somewhere along Skyline Boulevard tomorrow, so we head to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $70.47

Day Three

8 a.m. — I don't let myself sleep in later than 8 on Sunday mornings because I want to be able to fall asleep at a reasonable hour at night. O. wakes up shortly after I do, and we're feeling hungover, which is crazy. Our last drinks were at 5:00 yesterday! We decide to skip the hike.
11:30 a.m. — Whenever O. is feeling hungover, he wants pizza, and I'm not mad about it. I order a pizza through Pizza Hut's website, and O. drives to pick it up. He pays, and we eat delicious pizza on the couch. This is how Sundays are meant to be spent.
3:40 p.m. — We go for a walk around the neighborhood to get some fresh air. O. is feeling kind of groggy, so I go grocery shopping for the week. He pays for the groceries more often than I do, so I don't mind. I buy black olives, dried pinto and black beans, garlic powder, asparagus, chicken breasts, cheese, bananas, apples, hummus, baby carrots, applesauce, peppermint tea, cauliflower, and broccoli. There's a bigger Safeway nearby, but the lines there are always ridiculously long, so I go a little out of my way to this one. It's so much calmer here. $70.76
4:37 p.m. — I get home, put all of the groceries away, and go to the gym. I do a leg workout and then watch the second episode of The Act while I walk on the treadmill.
6 p.m. — I have a leftover piece of pizza from lunch, so I heat that up for dinner while I steam some chicken for O. for dinner and my salads for the week. This is as close as I get to meal prepping.
8 p.m. — I go through my nightly routine and pick out my clothes. O. doesn't have to wake up as early as I do, so I set everything out in the living room so I don't disturb him. This also saves me a ton of time in the morning because I can't stare into my closet and bemoan that I have nothing to wear. Bedtime is 9:00!
Daily Total: $70.76

Day Four

6:55 a.m. — I go through my morning routine and get to work super early as usual. I debate taking up meditating again, but I have other work that I should be doing. Not very mindful of me.
11:30 a.m. — I work through lunch because I have to leave right after work today for the doctor. I used to take Zoloft for OCD, but — get ready for TMI — it was really hard on my stomach and I was only pooping once a week, so I stopped last October and have managed to keep myself under control well enough since then. Everything in the bathroom is normal again, but I still get a lot of stomachaches.
3 p.m. — I leave school immediately and stress the whole way over, not wanting to be late. I'm on time to my 3:30 appointment and pay my $15 co-pay. I'm lucky that my district offers a health insurance plan at no cost to me, so of course that's the one I selected. I talk with the doctor, and she does some blood work. With all of the waiting, I finally head home at 5. $15
5:45 p.m. — O. makes us a dinner of steamed chicken, steamed asparagus, and steamed yellow potatoes. Everything steamed, all the time. I've been trying to read more classics by women lately, since I feel like we mostly read men in college (hello, fellow English majors!). I've never read anything by Virginia Woolf, so I picked up Mrs. Dalloway at the library a couple of weeks ago. It's okay so far.
8:30 p.m. — My birth control alarm reminds me to get ready for bed, so I take care of my lunch for tomorrow, the kitty boxes, and my skin. Goodnight!
Daily Total: $15

Day Five

6:55 a.m. — The usual morning routine. I'm excited because I have an email from a jewelry website that says they're doing a promotion of 25% off everything but loose stones. We'd save about $600 between the ring setting and wedding band, so I talk to O. about it. He says if I know what I really want for an engagement ring, we can order it tonight!
11:30 a.m. — I spend lunch doing more research on diamonds and write down a few SKU numbers for ones that I think will work for me. We've talked about getting married over the past couple of years, and after doing long distance, I moved up here last year. I want my ring! I know exactly what I want.
4:15 p.m. — I know that O. is almost out of yellow paint, so I stop at Michael's with a coupon and pick up a tube of yellow paint for him. There is so much to see in this store, so I do my best not to wander around. $2.60
4:31 p.m. — My school district is doing a fundraiser at Chipotle tonight, and that's a good enough excuse for me. I pick up burritos and Cokes for O. and me and head home. $24.14
6:44 p.m. — Since I already picked out exactly what I want, we log on to the website and purchase the setting, stone, and wedding band! I'm so excited and text my best friend about it, but nobody else. I insisted on paying for the setting myself, and I write O. a check for $1,325. He paid for the diamond I picked out and the wedding band. I also text him my dad's phone number — O. is going to call him sometime soon and ask about marrying me. It's just a formality, but I know that my dad will appreciate it. $1,325
8:30 p.m. — I put together a greens and chicken breast salad for lunch tomorrow, journal for a while, and do my usual routine before going to bed. Still. So. Excited!
Daily Total: $1,351.74

Day Six

6:55 a.m. — I wake up to an all-staff email saying coverage is needed today, so I offer up my prep period. It's the last thing I want to do, but I know they'll probably ask me anyway, so I might as well offer. I get to work and make sure missing my prep won't impact my day too much.
11:30 a.m. — I cave and show a coworker a picture of the ring that I picked out. I can't help it.
3 p.m. — Spring Break is next week, so I spend some time after school making sure I'm all ready for it. The last thing that I want to do Friday afternoon is worry about it. I head home around 4 and go down to the gym. I do two miles on the treadmill (basically my limit) and an arm workout. I download an app with some core workouts and do one of those, too.
5:14 a.m. — O. gets home from work and we steam chicken and broccoli and make some brown rice. We toss everything into bowls and add some salsa verde and cheese. I like to think of this as my own little Chipotle bowl, except way more boring.
6:27 p.m. — O. is curious as to whether or not Office Space holds up now that the '90s are long over, so we make some movie theater butter popcorn (the only kind!). It holds up well enough. I laugh out loud several times. I haven't seen this movie since high school!
9:12 p.m. — I get ready for bed and read for an hour before bedtime. Mrs. Dalloway is okay, but my mind keeps wandering. But I'm not afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:55 a.m. — I want to hit snooze so bad, but I get up, get ready, and head to work with my peppermint tea. I used to drink coffee every single day, but cutting back on the caffeine has seriously helped my stomaches.
10:05 a.m. — I check my health insurance app and see that my test results from my appointment are in. The doctor says that everything is normal, except for my thyroid level, which is low. I'm not sure what to make of that and spend some time becoming a doctor on Google. I text my parents and find out that my mom's mom had her thyroid removed at some point.
3:25 p.m. — I stop in at Target on my way home from work, say hi to the student I see in the toilet paper aisle, and pick up toilet paper, hand soap, and cat litter. A successful Target trip — no extraneous purchases! It's a struggle to carry the cat litter and toilet paper from my car to the apartment, but I'll die before I make two trips. $24.56
4:56 p.m. — O. gets home from work a little earlier than usual. I do my core workout for the day on my app, and we go for a long walk. Score! One of my neighborhood cat friends is out and about and lets me pet her to my heart's content.
5:41 p.m. — We have leftover chicken from salads I intended to make for work, so I make us quesadillas with cheese, chicken, and black beans. I want to make another for myself, but decide to wait half an hour. Sure enough, I'm not really hungry enough for a second, and I do the dishes. I have been watching a lot of 90 Day Fiancé on Hulu lately, and even though O. thinks so many of these people are ridiculous, he watches with me.
8:30 p.m. — Time to get ready for bed! I'm so excited that tomorrow is Friday and Spring Break is after that! I look at my ring again on my phone and try to picture it on my finger. It's hard to picture, but I know that it'll be there for real soon enough.
Daily Total: $24.56
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