A Week In Rockville, MD, On A $50,000 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.
This week: a business development associate working in commercial real estate who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money on a Uniqlo T-shirt.
Occupation: Business Development Associate
Industry: Commercial Real Estate
Age: 22
Location: Rockville, MD
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,354
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I am still living with my parents as I search for an apartment.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (thanks to a scholarship and my parents' savings)
Monthly Metro Fare: $60
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $103.66 (Deducted from my paycheck pre-tax, and I'm also on my parents' general medical plan until I turn 26.)
Car Insurance: $363 twice a year
Gym: $20
Spotify: $10
Photoshop: $10
WSJ Trial: $0.99
Patreon: $50 (I support one artist on Patreon whose works I've been following for a few years now, and in return I get a commission each month.)
401(k): $115.39 (deducted from each paycheck; my employer matches half of this amount each month)
Savings: ~$2,010 (I have $17,000 in my savings account, and I recently started an Acorns account that has $32 in it. I have $10 going into the Acorns account every month, plus round-ups, and since I'm still living at home I automatically transfer $1,000 into my savings account with each paycheck.)

Day One

9:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I had trouble falling asleep last night, so I press snooze a billion times and eventually get up for real around 10:30. I grab a banana for a quick breakfast before my workout. I swim a little over 1,000 meters, which is not as much as I wanted, but I'm not really feeling it this morning and I swam yesterday, so I cut the workout short. I take a quick shower and then make lunch, which is avocado toast with hot sauce and a fried egg, topped off with Trader Joe's Everything but the Bagel seasoning. My friend recommended it to me a few months ago, and I am eternally grateful.
12 p.m. — I've been looking for a new belt for a while with no luck, so I try a local mall and also decide to check out the apartments nearby while I'm there. I've been casually browsing apartments for the past few months, but just recently sat down and did a preliminary budget and realized I could afford a bit higher in rent than I originally thought! I don't find a belt at any nearby stores, but I do find a plain white T-shirt from Uniqlo, which is perfect because that's also something I've been looking for for a while (why are most white shirts so see-through??). $10.54
2:15 p.m. — Even though I don't have an appointment, someone from the leasing office is kind enough to show me around. The leasing agent tells me that they also have studio apartments that are in my budget, which is great! However, there aren't any available units at the moment, so I'll have to check back frequently and see if one opens up. The leasing agent sends me on my way with some brochures, and I leave with an optimistic, hopeful feeling fluttering in my stomach. This was my first apartment tour ever, and I liked the building much more than I thought I would (some low-star reviews on Yelp initially freaked me out, tbh). I grab a mango black tea from Kung Fu Tea on my way back home, because it's on my way and why not. $3.98
3 p.m. — I get back home and spend the next few hours browsing rooms on Craigslist, debating the pros and cons of the D.C.-vs-MD, roommate-or-no-roommate living situation. Miraculously, there is a studio up for rent in Rockville in my price range, close to the Metro! I send an email to the poster asking for more information. With savings built up, no student loans, and my brother and sister leaving for college soon, there's not much reason for me to stay and cost my parents money — plus, it's not like I'll be moving far. That being said, my commute is super easy right now, so I don't want to rush into a new living situation where I pay $1,000+ a month to increase my commute time and cost.
6 p.m. — My family eats dinner late most nights, and today is no exception, so I chat with a friend over Skype while I snack on some cherries to hold me over. I clean up a bit as well, both in my room and around the house. My mom's side of the family is coming over next weekend for my grandpa's 90th birthday party, so we're trying to get a head start on cleaning. Right as I finish dinner, I get a response from the Craigslist poster informing me that someone already applied for the studio I requested info about. :( The search continues.
10:30 p.m. — I catch up on a few Money Diaries, then do my nightly routine, which is really just washing my face and moisturizing afterward, brushing my teeth, and flossing. Since I've started swimming again, the chlorine has done a great job of drying out any potential acne, but I need to make sure I'm using face lotion more, too (#skincare?). I pack my lunch for the next day and crash into bed.
Daily Total: $14.52

Day Two

6:15 a.m. — It took me ages to fall asleep last night, so I'm sluggish today. Breakfast is a toasted bagel with cream cheese — I'll get coffee at the office. I throw on the new white shirt I got, along with a necklace and some black pants. My workplace has a casual summer dress code, which is incredible. I love being comfortable more than anything.
8 a.m. — I make myself a coffee in the office from our fancy machine (a vanilla latte!) and sit down to work. The first thing I do in the morning is read articles to catch up on what's going on in the commercial real estate industry. I also water the calathea plant at my desk and make sure none of its leaves need trimming.
12 p.m. — Lunch! I eat leftovers from the weekend, which is the second half of a bagel sandwich with turkey on it. As I eat, I read over my friend R.'s manuscript for an MG (middle-grade, usually for ages 11-15) fantasy novel he's been working on. When R. and I first met, we bonded over the fact that we were both working on novels with the pipe dream of showing our work to others one day. That was over four years ago, and now we have both graduated from college and are in the process of querying agents on the long trek to getting our works published. He helped read over my manuscript (a YA sci-fi with f/f romance, because I am a lesbian and I love creating #gaycontent) many times before I started querying a few months ago, so I'm returning the favor by reading his work and suggesting edits. Plus, his ideas are always amazing. I finish making edits on R.'s chapter, then head to Target because I'm craving peanut M&M's. $2.52
3 p.m. — I'm feeling sluggish, so I go to the company common area and make myself a green tea. There is also an entire Panera baguette on the table, probably left over from a meeting. I use a napkin to rip off a portion of the baguette and scurry back to my desk with my findings.
5 p.m. — I Metro home, hop in the shower, then sit around in my towel and scroll through Twitter for a few minutes (okay, like a half hour). After dinner, my dad and I watch a bit of the NHL finals. As a huge Capitals fan, I think the finals this year feel empty compared to all the watch parties and parades and adrenaline from last year, but I still love watching hockey no matter what. I pack my lunch for tomorrow, do my nighttime routine, and head to bed around 11.
12:30 a.m. — Ugh, just kidding. After texting a friend for a bit, I download the Craigslist app on a whim and spend the next hour browsing before I finally go to bed for real.
Daily Total: $2.52

Day Three

6:35 a.m. — Falling asleep later than intended Sunday and Monday night is hitting me hard this morning, and I get out of bed late. I drag myself to the kitchen to eat a whole-wheat English muffin with peanut butter and banana. There's a networking event I have to go to after work today, so I have to wear something more formal, which makes me late because I can't figure out an outfit. I don't think I would function well at a job where I'd have to dress up all the time.
8:05 a.m. — Despite feeling like a slug, I get lucky with the Metro timing and make it to work only five minutes late! My company isn't too strict with punctuality, so getting in a few minutes later than normal isn't a huge deal. I make another fancy office coffee (my usual vanilla latte), and a coworker asks for my help on a time-sensitive project, so I get right to work.
12:05 p.m. — I eat lunch at my desk, which is chicken salad in a pita, plus a Greek yogurt (I can't take credit for the chicken salad — my mom made it over the weekend). I go for a short walk after I eat, and when I get back I find there is more Panera in the common area! This time, in addition to the baguette, there are whole sandwiches left over, so holy shit. I take a Mediterranean veggie sandwich and immediately store it in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow (or my snack this afternoon, depending on how I feel).
5 p.m. — I hop on the Metro on my way to the industry event, and I'm already hungry. Not ideal! I'm going to this networking thing alone today, which is also not ideal. I've only been in the industry for six months, so the probability of running into people I know is low. These solo events are a lot of me overthinking interactions and trying to make conversation in a room where I know nobody.
8 p.m. — Despite my exhaustion and my earlier worrying, the event goes well! I make it through two hours of mingling and networking (I also get a drink, because free alcohol) and exchange cards with a few people. Before I leave, I also chat with a woman about finding housing in the area, and she recommends two D.C. metro area housing groups on Facebook!! Ahh!! I can't believe I didn't think to search for something like that before, but I'm super grateful.
9 p.m. — I get home, and my family has left out leftovers for me! Amazing! I literally inhale the pasta (with herb tomato sauce and chicken) and also eat two squares of dark chocolate. I take a loooong shower, trying to slow my brain down after it's been running on high all day, and flop into my bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:15 a.m. — I wake up feeling less exhausted because I actually went to bed on time last night. Nothing seems appetizing for breakfast today, so I eat a bowl of cereal and assume that I will be starving in a few hours. I'm also back to the casual dress code today, thank God. The Metro gods are fickle this morning, and I have to wait a while for a train, effectively negating the fact that I got out of bed early today. I'm craving iced coffee, so I decide to get Starbucks because it's right on the way to my office, and I can use the app to save time. I refill my Starbucks account because I don't have enough on my card to get my iced latte. $15
9:40 a.m. — I finish up the time-sensitive stuff I started yesterday and, as predicted, I'm already starving. I chat with a coworker while I eat a yogurt and a Kind Bar that I brought in, then settle down to figure out my schedule for the rest of the day. I also check my bank account balance and see that an American Eagle return went through, depositing $54.53 back into my account. That's always a nice feeling.
11:30 a.m. — Today I have a call-in lunch meeting at noon, so I eat early. The Panera sandwich I saved from yesterday is pretty good, even if it's not something I normally would get. Because the sandwich is literally just veggies and bread, however, it does not fill me up. I'll have to go get something to supplement it after my call.
11:45 a.m. — Omg, someone brought doughnuts. I take a glazed cake doughnut and eat it as I wait for the call to start.
12:20 p.m. — The meeting is quick! The combination of the doughnut and sandwich ends up being more filling than I thought, so I don't need to spend anything on extra food. Since I have some time to spare, I go for a walk and try to take my mind off of work for a few minutes. Once I return to the office, I make an Earl Grey tea to try to perk me up.
5:45 p.m. — I'm not working tomorrow because I'm going to my brother and sister's graduation (!!!), so I stay later than usual to make sure I wrap everything up. I decide to go for a quick swim, so I head to the pool — the water is FREEZING. I don't want to stay in much longer than 20 minutes, so I end up doing about 800 meters total. Oh well, better than nothing. When I get home, I shower and inhale dinner, which is grilled pork and rice with a Caesar salad on the side.
9:05 p.m. — I have no idea how it's already 9. I sip on a beer (Flying Dog's Raging Bitch IPA, from a Frederick, MD, brewery — they have super cool label designs, too!) while I help my brother and sister decorate their graduation caps so they're ready by tomorrow. We decide to paint the names of their colleges on their respective caps — I outline the letters with a pencil, and they fill them in. We're done by around 11:30. I do my nighttime routine and put a few more finishing touches on the grad caps before crashing into bed.
Daily Total: $15

Day Five

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off a little later than usual, but not by much. I'm participating in an industry fundraiser today, organized as an Olympics-type competition, and I'm swimming a few events! I have toast with peanut butter and banana before I head to the Metro.
10:45 a.m. — Wow, I am super tired. The fundraiser is super fun, but I end up swimming a lot of events and it's more work than I expected! It's been over a year since I raced for real (I swam in college), and my times were not as horrible as I thought they would be. Plus, it's all for a good cause!
11:30 a.m. — I get home and my grandparents have arrived! I chat with them as I make a quick lunch of scrambled eggs and toast with sriracha and TJ's Everything but the Bagel seasoning. We then head out to my brother and sister's graduation.
1:20 p.m. — Graduation! We get there super early to get good seats, so I get an order of fries ($5) while we wait an hour for the ceremony to start. The commencement is great! I tear up a few times but don't fully cry, which is a win in my book. After everything is over, my family (including myself) takes a million pictures of my brother and sister in their graduation regalia before we head home. $5
6:30 p.m. — The combination of the swim meet and graduation has exhausted me, so I take a quick nap and then everyone heads out to get dinner, which is a joint celebration for my grandpa's birthday and my siblings' graduation. We go to Founding Farmers up in Potomac. They have a lot of really rich food there, so I go all out and get fried chicken and waffles with green beans and mac 'n' cheese on the side. My family also orders a bunch of desserts, and I have some chocolate mousse cake. My parents pay.
10:15 p.m. — We all return home exhausted from the food. Definitely worth it. My brother and sister open grad presents, but my grandpa waits to open his because we have more family coming in tomorrow to celebrate! I head to bed soon after and fall asleep instantly.
Daily Total: $5

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — I'm definitely still feeling the food exhaustion. My alarm goes off, and I press snooze four times. I throw together a lunch to bring into the office, which is leftover mac 'n' cheese from dinner plus a PB&J, because I definitely do not have time to make anything more complex than that right now. I try to eat lunch out only once a week at work. I scarf down some strawberries and a bagel with cream cheese as I get ready.
8 a.m. — It's payday! I transfer $1,000 of the direct deposit into my savings account right away, which brings my savings to a little over $18,000. My dad and I have been discussing possible ways to invest some of that money, but it's possible I'll be going to grad school in a few years, so I don't want to put too much of it away where I can't access it (I'm thinking about investing $5,000 for now). I also have $30.51 on my credit card that I need to pay off from a gas transaction that finally went through, so I take care of that right away. $30.51
12:20 p.m. — I have to leave the office early today to go to therapy, so I eat a quick lunch at my desk. The mac 'n' cheese is still delicious, but the PB&J isn't really filling, so I end up getting a big cup of fresh fruit from the convenience store downstairs, plus a pack of Twizzlers ($6.02). I eat the fruit cup and save the Twizzlers. For now. $6.02
4 p.m. — Done with therapy! I recently started going again because I felt like my anxiety had been building up pretty steadily and I didn't notice until it got really bad, but the therapy has been helping a ton so far. That being said, I pay $200 per session and will have to send in the invoice to my insurance to see how much of it they cover. If they don't cover a lot, I'll have to space out my visits more often (I just started going again two weeks ago, and the insurance claim hasn't gone through yet). I don't pay anything today, though — I wait for the invoice.
4:30 p.m. — I'm feeling pretty good today after therapy, not too drained, so I head over to the mall real quick to see if they have some small gold hoop earrings I've been trying to find. I recently got a second earlobe piercing, and the regular studs irritate my ears when I sleep. I can't find any I like at the mall, sadly. Before I leave, I get an Auntie Anne's pretzel and lemonade, because I can never resist. $6.66
5:35 p.m. — As soon as I get home, I order a pair of tiny hoops off of Amazon, because I'm sick of waking up with my piercings bothering me every morning. I also have pretty sensitive skin, so I make sure to get a pair that has good reviews. $21.99
7 p.m. — I eat dinner with my family, which is pasta with an Italian sausage sauce, plus salad. I help out with the dishes and then text R. (my writing buddy), and we decide to send out some queries together — usually a query is a cover letter and ten or so pages sent to the agent, depending on the agency's submission guidelines. I've done two rounds of queries so far, one batch sent out in October and the most recent batch this May and June. The first time I queried potential agents, I sent out eight queries and got all rejections — I got one request to read 50 more pages, but I got rejected eventually. This time around, I've sent out 14 queries and received two requests for full manuscripts so far! However, it's been about four weeks since I sent out my last query, and aside from the two full requests, I haven't heard back from anyone else yet. Six weeks is a pretty standard amount of time to wait for a response (both for an agent to ask for a full or to reject the query), but I'm still antsy.
8:30 p.m. — I've sent out three queries, so I decide to take a break for the night. Since it's the one-year anniversary of the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup, a local channel is replaying the final game! I'm not exaggerating when I say I've looked forward to rewatching this game literally all day. I watch it with my family and catch up with a few friends over text. I still tear up watching Ovechkin lift the cup for the first time, like it wasn't my phone background for almost a year. I have a super busy day tomorrow, so I don't stay up much later after the game ends around 10. I'm so ready to sleep in tomorrow, even if just for a bit! I crash almost immediately.
Daily Total: $65.18

Day Seven

10 a.m. — It's Saturday, so I sleep in! I'm meeting a friend for lunch kinda early, so I have a clementine to hold me over.
11:20 a.m. — I meet my friend F. at MAKI in Rockville for lunch. Last time we tried to eat here, we arrived in the late afternoon and were met by a 45-minute wait time, so we planned ahead to be here early today. I get a milk coffee, and she gets us both gyoza to start, which she pays for. I get shoyu ramen and F. gets spicy miso ramen. We haven't seen each other in a while, but we both lived in the area in high school, too, so we like to catch up when we can. Our work schedules never seem to match up! $15.90
2 p.m. — When I get home, I turn right around and get ready for my friend B.'s college grad party. They live up closer to Frederick, so I have to give myself enough time to account for the travel. As I'm getting ready, I check my bank account and see Acorns has taken some round-ups out of my account.
5:30 p.m. — B.'s grad party is super fun! I get to see some of my friends from college who haven't graduated yet either, whom I normally don't get to see too often. I met B. on my college swim team, so they've invited some of our other swim friends, and we have a mini reunion. We have amazing catered barbecue for dinner, and I try not to eat too much because I'm heading back home soon for a big family dinner. I say goodbye to B. and give them their grad gift (a mindfulness coloring book with cute plant illustrations) before I head back home.
6:30 p.m. — I arrive back home, and both of my uncles on my mom's side are here. They've come down to celebrate my grandpa's 90th as well. My parents make chicken and lamb skewers with garden salad for dinner and strawberry shortcake for my grandpa. I definitely eat too much.
8 p.m. — My grandpa opens presents, and everyone tells stories and jokes around for a while. My family doesn't often get together for any kind of reunion, so it's really nice! Eventually, I start to crash from the day I've had, and my uncles start loudly (read: drunkenly) telling corny jokes, so I head to my room around 10:30. Before I go to sleep, I check online for a pair of dark-wash Levi's I had seen at the mall the other day, and I find them on sale! I decide to buy them at the reduced price. Glad I waited. I do my nightly routine and crash around 11. $48.65
Daily Total: $64.55
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