A Week In Irvine, CA, On A $96,000 Salary

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Today: a sales executive working in real estate who makes $96,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a margarita.
Occupation: Sales Executive
Industry: Real Estate/Sales
Age: 27
Location: Irvine, CA
Salary: $96,000
Paycheck Amount: $1,420 twice a month, and my commission is approximately $3,250 once a month (with a 40% tax), but can be higher/lower depending on the month.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,905 (I live alone in a 531-square-foot apartment.)
Student Loans: $0 (I was fortunate enough to have my parents help out with the cost of undergrad.)
Credit Card Payment: $300
Phone/Car Insurance: $150 (I'm on my family's plan, so I pay my dad back.)
Utilities: Approximately $100 (water, trash, sewage, gas, electric)
Health Insurance: $50
Cable/Internet/HBO: $108
Spotify: $9.99 Dog Food: $24 (My boyfriend pays for half. We have it on autoship once a month.)
Amazon Prime: $12.99
Therapy: $60
Libro.FM: $14.99 (It's like Audible, but supports independent bookstores.)
Netflix: $0 (I use my boyfriend's account.)
ClassPass: $79 (My work covers $75 of it, though, so I only pay $4.)
401(k): 4% of each paycheck

Day One

6:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I fall back asleep until 6:45, which is around the time I'm supposed to wake up. (I set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier, though, because I'm horrible and hit snooze so often.) I do my morning routine for skin care (rosewater spray from Trader Joe's + Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream + Juice Beauty primer), and then I take dog to the dog park in my apartment complex. He doesn't really get along with other dogs but likes wandering around the grassy area with no leash, so I take him early in the morning when no one is around. Then I get dressed, grab a Lenny & Larry's protein cookie, and leave for work.
9 a.m. — Buy my ticket for an adult film festival that my cousin and his friends invited me to. He said they went last year and it was a lot of fun. The whole premise of the festival is that people can submit videos — but they'll never be published online or shown again, so people can feel comfortable submitting. I'm really excited to go because I've been a little bored by the monotony of the work week, and this is the perfect thing to shake things up a little. $24.49
11 a.m. — Have therapy during my lunch break. I go every Wednesday at this time. My therapist does teletherapy through the app, so I get to video chat with her instead of going to an office, which makes it SO much easier for me. I suffer from anxiety and depression, which has been under control lately, but I still love therapy. It's really nice to have someone to talk to who doesn't know anyone I know and won't judge me (or does a great job at hiding it, haha). My job can get pretty stressful, so it's especially helpful to have a mental-health break during the middle of the work day. I'm fortunate enough to have my insurance cover it, so I just pay the copay. $15
12:45 p.m. — I'm starting to get hungry because I spent my lunch at therapy, so I heat up some Italian orzo spinach soup I brought from home. A big part of my job is calling real estate agents to persuade them to advertise on our website, so I eat at my desk while cold calling and trying to build more pipeline. I've almost hit my quota for the month, which causes less stress...for now, at least.
5 p.m. — I get off work and head straight to Anaheim, which is about 45 minutes away. I hired a dog walker for the dog so I wouldn't be late for the festival ($14.80 + $3 tip). My boyfriend, K., can usually walk him if I can't, but he has band practice right after work tonight. The walker is super sweet and always sends me photos and a summary of how it went, which makes me feel at ease. (I feel like I have a tendency to baby my dog, oops.) $17.80
6:20 p.m. — I meet my cousin at his apartment and he drives us to Long Beach. We both don't feel like eating at a sit-down restaurant, so we just go to Taco Bell. I get two potato soft tacos fresco-style and a side of cinnamon twists. $5.07
10:30 p.m. — Just got out of the festival, and WOW. I was blown away by how beautiful and artistic (most of) the submissions were. I was expecting just very basic, amateur videos you can find online, but a lot of them were so well done — both aesthetically and thematically. It was also extremely refreshing and inspiring to see different body types, genders, and sexual orientations not only represented, but celebrated. Going in, I felt like it may have been a little too weird to basically watch porn next to a family member (no matter how close friends we are outside of the family context), but it really just felt like we were watching really artsy short films with nudity for two hours. I'm definitely going back for next year's fest.
Daily Total: $62.36

Day Two

6:47 a.m. — Most days it's a struggle for me to get out of bed, but today feels even worse because I got home so late last night. I do my morning routine, grab breakfast (another protein cookie) and some more of the soup I packed for lunch, and leave for work. Thank God we have coffee at the office, because I definitely need some today.
10:30 a.m. — I attended my first ADAPT meeting. Where I work, we have something called affinity networks, which is basically a place where minorities can go and have a safe space and/or raise awareness. I'm a member of both ADAPT and the Women's Impact Network. ADAPT is for disabilities and mental-health awareness. It's great to meet members and brainstorm how we can make our office a better, more inclusive space. Plus, free doughnuts.
12 p.m. — Lunch! I eat leftover soup, which I'm getting a little tired of, but I'm trying to cut back on eating out. I usually listen to an audiobook during my lunch break (sometimes I use Audible if doesn't have the book I want, though I don't have a monthly membership with Audible). It's always a welcome, quiet “me time” break in the day. Right now I'm listening to Skippy Dies by Paul Murray because K. recommended it. It's pretty long but really good so far.
1:30 p.m. — Check my personal email and see a request to donate $3 to Bernie Sanders's campaign, so I do. I supported him in 2016, and so far he is my favorite candidate for 2020. $3
4:30 p.m. — Finally off work! It dragged today, mainly because I was so tired. It takes me about 30 minutes to drive home, even though I only live five miles away — Southern California traffic is insane. I feed the dog and take him on a walk. He can be a pain to walk because bulldogs are so stubborn, but he looks so happy when he walks. It makes my heart melt! When we get back, I make myself a protein shake and watch a little bit of HGTV before I head to my fitness class.
7:22 p.m. — My friend texts me saying she is bowling at a charity event for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County next week. I won't be able to make it, so I donate to her team instead. $20
7:30 p.m. — Took an hour-long class via ClassPass called Brazilian Booty. This is my fourth time taking it, and it kicks my ass every time. The instructor is amazing and always keeps it fun, but it's also pretty challenging. I had to sit down at one point because I was feeling a little dizzy, but I always feel really accomplished and proud when I finish this class. I've struggled a lot with body image for as long as I can remember, but I'm really liking how these strength-training classes make me feel.
9 p.m. — Get home, shower, and do my night-time routine. I'm pretty into skin care, so I take my makeup off with DHC cleansing oil, wash my face with a SheaMoisture Clay-to-Cream cleanser that helps with redness, use Trader Joe's rosewater spray as a toner, and apply Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, Youth to the People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil, and finally, some Cetaphil moisturizer. I also exfoliate twice a week and use a jade roller when I can remember. It sounds long and intense, but I have it down to a science. K. usually comes over after my class, but he wants to practice for a show his band is playing next week (which works out, because I'm pretty wiped). I read The Complete Stories of Truman Capote before I eventually knock out.
Daily Total: $23

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — I know it's cliché, but I wake up super excited that it's Friday! I have a busy weekend ahead of me, but most of it is socializing and doing fun stuff. I forget to grab breakfast at home, so I eat a protein bar from our work kitchen.
12:30 p.m. — It's been a crazy busy day at work, and I'm finally taking lunch. We have free lunch today, and it's Brazilian food. I have beans, rice, and pico de gallo. I'm still pretty hungry after, so I have a bowl of cereal from the kitchen.
2:15 p.m. — It's International Women's Day, and I'm super bummed that I missed the event that the Women's Impact Network put on. I was on a work call that ran longer than expected. Because I work in sales, we basically have to drop everything if there's a possibility of getting a closing. It's a bummer and it's stressful, so even though I'm getting paid a lot, I'm looking to transition out of this field into something I'm more passionate about. I'd rather feel more joy and stability, even if it means sacrificing a great paycheck.
5:30 p.m. — I get off work at 4:30 and drive straight to a Body Sculpting & Abs class, hosted by the same instructor as last night's class. This is my first time taking this one, and I love it just as much as Brazilian Booty. It's a good way to get a full-body workout, which is great because I need to increase my upper-body strength. I'm meeting a friend for dinner tonight, so I rush home to walk the dog, shower, and get ready.
8:10 p.m. — I'm late to meet my friend for dinner at a restaurant called Puesto. When I get there, he has already been there for a while and downed a wine flight. It's Orange County Restaurant Week, so we get a prix fixe menu for $30. We each get chips and guacamole, two tacos, cilantro-lime rice, esquite, and a slice of dulce de leche cake. I also decide to splurge and get a margarita. I haven't seen him in nearly four months, so it's great to catch up. $48.75
11:15 p.m. — Home from dinner, and I am SO happy I don't have to set an alarm for tomorrow! My favorite thing about the weekend is being able to sleep in on at least one day, if not both. I really need to start falling asleep earlier during the week so I'm not so exhausted when the weekend rolls around.
Daily Total: $48.75

Day Four

7:45 a.m. — The dog is at the foot of my bed waiting for me to get up to feed him and take him out. He always whines a little and gives me these huge bug eyes. I throw on sweatpants and a jacket, let him do his business, feed him, and head back to bed. I hear him come in my room about 10 minutes later and see him cuddle back into his bed. He's such a great, low-key dog.
11:45 a.m. — Ohhhhmygod, I can't believe I woke up this late! I have a few texts from K. and I panic — we're supposed to go see Blade Runner (one of his favorite movies) at the Frida Cinema, but I forgot what time it starts. Once I realize we don't have to be there until 2:30, I relax and check social media in bed for a while.
1:15 p.m. — I start to get ready, but I'm not really feelin' it. I can't tell if I'm having an off day and feeling depressed or if I'm still just tired. Even though I'm doing a lot of fun things this weekend that I'm excited for, part of me wishes I could just veg out at home for a day.
2:15 p.m. — K. picks me up and we're running late for the movie. He notices that I'm not feeling my best but doesn't push for me to talk about it. I feel bad that I'm feeling this way after not seeing him for a couple of days, but he's so nice and understanding about my anxiety and depression. I need coffee, so I walk over to Portola while he grabs seats and meets up with our friends. I don't really care about missing the first few minutes, because I've seen Blade Runner before. I get an oat milk iced latte ($5.75 + $1 tip). $6.75
4:45 p.m. — I always forget how visually stunning Blade Runner is; I could probably just sit and watch it with no sound and still love it. We talk to our friends outside the theater for a bit, and they invite us to get drinks, but K. and I have to go and get ready for my cousin's engagement party. I check my phone and find out I sold something on Poshmark — yay!
6 p.m. — We are running suuuuper late because we had to walk the dog (well, K. did, bless his heart) and change for the party. I hate being late, so this definitely doesn't help my “off” mood today, but I'm trying to not get anxious about it.
7:23 p.m. — Finally arrive! My cousin got engaged a little bit before Christmas, but her fiancé's family lives out of town, so now we're celebrating with everyone while they're here. The party is at a cute Italian restaurant, and the food is amazing. My aunt paid for the party, so we don't have to cover anything. I take some leftover eggplant Parmesan home for lunch on Monday and leave feeling better than I did earlier, which is nice. I fill up my gas tank on the way home. $38.74
11 p.m. — Get home and go straight to bed after my nighttime routine. I have to be up at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow for my drive to Pasadena for a swap meet, PLUS we're losing an hour for Daylight Saving, ugh. I can already tell I'm going to be a zombie tomorrow.
Daily Total: $45.49

Day Five

5:30 a.m. — Snooze.
6:24 a.m. — I'm so late! I text my friend who lives in Pasadena and is going with me, and he says he and his wife have been snoozing their alarm, too, so I should take my time. In fairness, we lost an hour of sleep, so I did technically wake up at 5:30!
7:08 a.m. — Leave my house and grab $100 in cash from the ATM, because most vendors at the flea market don't accept cards. Going shopping at flea markets is one of my favorite activities and probably the only thing I'll ever be excited to wake up early for. I'm looking to sell vintage clothing soon, and I'm hoping I'll find some good finds for my future online shop. We're all grabbing brunch after shopping, but I know I won't last until then on an empty stomach, so I drive through Del Taco for breakfast rollers and coffee. $4.30
8:20 a.m. — I make it to my friend's house and we all head out. This is our first time at the swap meet together — they're flea market enthusiasts as well, so I'm excited to shop with them. The Rose Bowl Flea Market happens the second Sunday of every month, and it's enormous. I've done the whole area once, and it took me about five to six hours to get through everything (exhausting but still fun). They have a map to make it easier, so you know what areas to visit if you have a specific focus. It's $9 to get in, cash only. I have a $10 bill in my wallet, so I don't use the cash I got this morning. $9
12:45 p.m. — We're done shopping because we all got what we wanted, and we're super hungry. We only covered about two areas, but I got a great haul! I bought five vintage dresses ($75), a vintage Dodgers shirt ($20), and a vintage T-shirt for K. ($5). I'll be keeping a few of the items and selling some. My best find was an Alfred Shaheen dress for $20 — they usually go for $100-$400! My friends got some great items as well, including an old French poster from 1920 that's been preserved and framed. I spent $100 total for everything, so I'm happy I stayed within budget! $100
1:15 p.m. — We arrive for brunch at Idle Hour in North Hollywood to meet up with some other friends who have already started a few rounds of bottomless mimosas. I order breakfast sliders (basically egg, cheese, and tomato in the middle of a biscuit) and fries, which are okay — next time, I want to try something else. The atmosphere is really cool. The restaurant is shaped like a barrel, and they have a huge walk-in Bulldog-shaped lounge on the back patio with a live band playing inside. We stay a couple hours and sober up before leaving. $35
5:07 p.m. — I'm wiped. I had a lot of fun, but I didn't expect to stay that long. I wanted to take a midday nap, but now it's way too late so I just plan to go to bed early. K. is coming over to hang out, and I'm excited because we haven't spent time alone with each other in a while (or at least it seems like a while). He picks up food for me from Urban Plates, and I Venmo him because I appreciate it! $13.50
8:30 p.m. — I feel like a grandma going to bed this early, but it feels so good, I don't even really care.
Daily Total: $161.80

Day Six

6:58 a.m. — I seriously need to get better about waking up earlier. I do the usual — let the dog out, get ready, leave for work. I forget breakfast again, so I just eat another protein bar and get cold brew at the office.
11:45 a.m. — I have leftover eggplant Parm for lunch, and somehow it tastes even better reheated. I'm listening to Skippy Dies, and I'm realizing how sad I'm going to be when this book is over — I'm too invested in the characters and the story now.
4:30 p.m. — Off work and gotta rush back to my place to clean up some clutter before my cousin (same one from the adult film fest) comes over later tonight for a movie night. We're either going to watch Clue or The Accidental Tourist. K. is coming for a little bit to have dinner with us but has to leave early to meet some college friends for drinks.
6:25 p.m. — My cousin has arrived! The dog is super excited because no one except K. ever really comes over, so he likes seeing a new person around. K. comes shortly after, and we head over to Taco Bell. It probably seems like I eat here a lot, but I actually prefer Del Taco. I eat Taco Bell, like, once every two or three months, but it's cheap, easy, and my cousin's pick. I order two potato soft tacos, a medium drink, and cinnamon twists. $9.78
8:05 p.m. — K. leaves and my cousin and I finally start the movie after some technical difficulties with the DVD player. We decide to watch Clue, and I guess the DVD was important because it has all three alternate endings. My cousin told me when they released it in theaters, you weren't sure which ending you were going to get, which is really cool. It upset a lot of people, though, so when they put it on VHS/DVD, they included all the endings. After the movie, we watch YouTube videos and he educates me on the origins of the movie/similar movies. He's super knowledgeable about movie history, and I always enjoy hearing his theories and facts.
11:10 p.m. — My cousin just left, and I'm EXHAUSTED. I told my mom I would call her when I was finished with the movie, and she's still awake, so I call her despite my exhaustion. I always try to call and catch up with her when I can. Even though we don't live too far away from each other, I do miss her a lot.
12:30 a.m. — My mom and I end up talking for an hour and some change, so I'm just now falling asleep. I can already tell I'm going to feel super tired tomorrow.
Daily Total: $9.78

Day Seven

6:35 a.m. — Miraculously wake up earlier than expected, and it feels so nice not to rush. I get to cuddle a little bit with the dog before we do our morning routine. I eat a Lenny & Larry's cookie for breakfast and make a mental note to not order the chocolate doughnut flavor again. I like lemon poppy seed or chocolate peanut butter more.
9:15 a.m. — Today has been amazing at work so far! This agent whom I called last week called me back, and I ended up selling him, which puts me SO much closer to my quota for the month.
11:30 a.m. — I brought soup from home again for lunch. If I'm being honest, I'm not really liking this recipe. I think it needs more vegetable stock, because it feels more like orzo pasta with vegetables than actual soup. I want to eat the rest of it, though, because I still have two days' worth of leftovers. I'm trying to get better at cooking. Key word: trying.
4:15 p.m. — I officially hit quota! I receive an inbound inquiry from a super sweet agent who basically just gave me her credit card number right off the bat to sign her up. I don't feel as accomplished when this happens because I barely have to sell them, but it's still great to hit my numbers. I leave work on cloud nine.
5:05 p.m. — I love coming home because the dog gets so excited. He jumps on me, then starts running around in circles near his food bowl. I feed him and take him for a walk. I like not having anything to do immediately after our walk, so he can leisurely smell the grass and I can listen to my audiobook a little longer. I'm too lazy and not that hungry for a full meal, so I make myself a protein shake for dinner.
6:45 p.m. — K. comes over after he gets off work. We decided earlier to have a lazy night because we've both been busy and social the past few days. I love going out, but some of my favorite nights with K. are just cuddling and reading books or watching a movie on the couch or even just watching dumb YouTube videos together. Tonight we sit around talking about life and playing with the dog.
10:15 p.m. — Ahhh, it feels so nice to go to bed on the earlier side! Hopefully, this means I'll get around eight hours of sleep. I remember tomorrow is payday, and I'm stoked — the night before honestly always makes me feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. I'm going to start trying way harder to save money and not blow everything on clothes or eating out with this paycheck.
Daily Total: $0
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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