A Week In San Jose, CA, On A $52,827 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 social worker who makes $52,827 per year and spends some of her money this week on Tejava tea.
Editor’s Note: We chose not to include the diarist’s partner’s salary in the headline because they do not have a joint account and keep their money separate. We acknowledge that the OP’s living expenses are subsidized by her partner’s income, while her day-to-day expenses are largely her own.
Occupation: Social Worker
Industry: Mental Health
Age: 30
Location: San Jose, CA
Salary: $52,827 (My partner's income is $605,000 and he pays for a lot, but we don't have a joint account right now. He is a lead designer working in tech.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,572 (It can be $300-$500 more if I remember to calculate my mileage, because I drive a lot for work and they reimburse that cost.)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $400 (Due to my boyfriend making a lot more than me, we came up with this amount that we felt was fair. It's important for me to contribute something financially to our household expenses. Household expenses include the house cleaner, parking-spot rental, our utilities, and a fraction of the mortgage.)
Student Loans: $170 (I have $5,000 left.)
403(b): My agency matches 4%. I have around $2,000 built up.
Car Insurance: $100
Cell Phone: $50 (I am on a very old family plan with my mom and my brother. I Venmo her this amount monthly.)
Health Insurance: $0 (My work pays for my health insurance.)
Amazon Prime: $14.16
Hulu: $5.99
New York Times Subscription: $4
Apple Music: $0 (My brother has a family plan and has me and my mom on it.)

Day One

8:30 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up way too early on a Sunday morning, but I remember my boyfriend, K., and I are picking up my mom and her dog to meet my brother in San Francisco. I browse through Instagram and the RealReal quietly as K. sleeps a little more. Even the dog is still asleep! Finally, I roll over and start fluttering my eyelashes on K.'s cheeks to wake him up. He acts fake grumpy but pulls me in to cuddle.
9:30 a.m. — We spend some time talking about the dreams each of us had (mine are always stressful, realistic, and dramatic, and K.'s are always similar to an action-movie plot), and somehow we stumble into a very random relationship health check-in. K. is 12 years older than me, and thankfully, he is very indulgent with my emotional side. I get into the shower while K. takes out the dog and feeds the cat. I do my easy skin-care/makeup routine of Low PH Good Morning CosRX cleanser, Dr. Jart+ Water Drop moisturizer, Erborian BB Ginseng cream, brush out my eyelashes, and do my eyebrows with my favorite drugstore L'Oréal compact. I used to have a ten-step skin-care routine (literally) but found that after a while, it made my sensitive, acne-prone skin more irritable in the long run. Now I stick to two different cleansers, an exfoliant, and moisturizer.
10:45 a.m. — Say goodbye to the dog and meet K. downstairs in the parking garage. Since my mom will be bringing our family dog and his crate, I don't think K.'s sports car will be a comfortable fit. Before we drive to my mom's, I stop by the gas station to fill up. I love my Prius, even though it makes me look like an Uber driver — a tank of gas lasts so long! $34.50
12:45 p.m. — We pick up my mom and then meet my brother at the Ferry Marketplace. My brother is two years younger than me, and we are best friends. It's harder to see each other since he moved to Berkeley, so I am always super excited to see him. K. wants a BBQ pork bun, and my mom and I want empanadas. K. sheepishly asks me if I can pick one up for him, too. We order two of the mushroom empanadas for K. and my mom and the beef empanada for me, as it is the only one with no dairy in it (I'm lactose intolerant). They are pricey but worth it. I treat! $27.05
2 p.m. — We decide to eat at Gott's Roadside Burgers, because K. has never tried it and it has a relaxed outdoor patio, which works with the little puff. My mom and brother order a cheeseburger, K. orders a hotdog, and I order a hamburger and fries to share. I treat. $75.29
7 p.m. — We drop my mom at home and then stop at Whole Foods. I pick up cherry tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, and a chocolate cheesecake. I also pick up a bundle of bright red gladiolas, since my mom inspired me as she had these red gladiolas in her house and they looked STUNNING. $23.02
7:30 p.m. — K. and I sit and talk a little bit about the afternoon and his business trip tomorrow. Thankfully, it's only 24 hours! We have our own hobbies, interests, and friends, but it's really hard for us to be apart from each other. He helps me do the dishes, and we do our own separate decompression activities for the night. I head to bed at around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $159.86

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I am definitely not ready to wake up yet. I quite literally roll out of bed and stumble into the bathroom. I take a quick shower and get dressed. I kiss K. goodbye and then head to work.
11 a.m. — I have a busy morning catching up with emails and voicemails and checking in with my clients. K. sends me a sweet text, and we text for a little. We're planning on taking a trip to Italy and Corsica in September, but I just realized my yoga teacher training starts the first weekend of September. We discuss tweaking the dates. We're also planning on doing a bathroom and kitchen renovation while we're traveling, so it's another thing to coordinate. I'm bad at coordinating things like this (my job makes me coordinate enough, so any more than that and my brain explodes), so K. will arrange dates and times.
12:45 p.m. — I haven't eaten all day, and I know I should eat something soon. I decide to drive down the street to Japantown and pick up some mini sandwiches from the Japanese market. I also buy some Noir Black Cocoa Sticks (they taste like Oreos!) and a bottle of water, which I feel so guilty about. That plastic waste, ugh. $8.63
4:40 p.m. — Finally home! The dog is twirling around me, and I am equally excited to see him. I boil some Trader Joe's gyoza and make a quick dipping sauce of sesame oil, rice-wine vinegar, and low-sodium soy sauce. It's mediocre, but it's something. I start watching Euphoria and text my brother about how this is literally every parent's worst nightmare, rolled into a show.
8 p.m. — K. texts to let me know he set up a shared calendar for us to schedule our social events, as there have been many times where we've looked at each other like, “Oh shit,” when we forget one of us made plans for us. Our weekend already looks booked, and I make sure to carve out some time on Saturday for some quiet "me" time. K. is a lot more social than me, but I've become better at balancing as I've gotten older.
9:30 p.m. — I watch the second episode of Big Little Lies (Zoe is my biggest crush, and I am also LIVING for Renata) before falling asleep at 10:45.
Daily Total: $8.63

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up way later than I should have. I scramble out of bed, take a shower, usual skin-care and makeup routine. I light some sage, make the bed, take the dog out, and feed the cat.
10:45 a.m. — After a few stressful client appointments, I decide I need an iced coffee from Starbucks, ASAP. I get one with soy and one pump of sugar-free vanilla. I also get a plain toasted bagel because I should eat something. $5.40
2:30 p.m. — I decide to finish my day working at home. Our agency is small, and when it's loud, it's nearly impossible to get anything done. I get home, take the dog out, and then settle at the kitchen table to write some more treatment plans and progress notes. I make a lunch plate of salami, Milton's whole-wheat crackers, a big handful of cherry tomatoes, and blackberries. The house is so quiet! I love it.
4:45 p.m. — Break time. I need to run two errands — one of which is Sephora, since I ran out of my Hourglass No.28 primer ($21). On my way home, I stop by Whole Foods. I make a salad for dinner from the salad bar and pick up a half pound of fresh lychee, two yellow mangoes, two ears of corn, a clamshell of blackberries, and a bottle of Tejava ($23.76). $44.76
7:30 p.m. — K. texts me to tell me he's stressed about making his flight, so I offer to Doordash him dinner, to be waiting for him when he gets home. I have some credit, so with tax and tip it only comes out to $10. $10
10:15 p.m. — Once K. gets home and I give him some love, I take a shower (I take a lot of showers), moisturize, brush my teeth, and do my skin-care routine. Light sage and palo santo. I remember to make a dinner reservation for tomorrow, as my best friend and I want to catch up over dinner. We get into bed, have sex, and pillow talk a little bit until we both pass out mid-conversation.
Daily Total: $60.16

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I REALLY do not want to get out of bed. I roll over and stretch and stare at K. while he's sleeping. I know that is creepy, but I just really love him a lot and think he's so damn handsome. I finally get out of bed, take a shower (except I skip the hair wash), moisturize, skin-care and usual makeup routine. Kiss and hug K. goodbye as I head into work.
10:30 a.m. — I'm drinking Folger's coffee and eating a slice of stale baguette from my coworker as I do progress notes.
1:30 p.m. — I need to meet with a client in the field, which means no time for an actual lunch, so I grab a stupid expensive smoothie from SunLife Organics to hold me over. $10.02
4:45 p.m. — I start packing up my things so I can head home. I am feeling a little tired and overwhelmed by the amount of never-ending paperwork. I usually do a 90-minute yoga class at a local community studio on Wednesday evenings, but I won't be able to tonight since I'm going to dinner with my best friend, M., at a hookah bar.
7:05 p.m. — We picked the WORST possible day to go to this hookah bar/restaurant, as there is a damn jazz festival and there is literally no parking. I circle around 12 times and get a text from my best friend saying she's parked and is inside the patio part of the restaurant. I end up getting stressed out and parking at the train station directly across the street. I read a sign that says parking is free after 6, but for some reason I don't trust that and pay the parking fee anyway. $5.50
7:25 p.m. — We're finally reunited! Even though a year and a couple months have passed, we slip right into our normal banter and conversation. It's like no time has passed at all. I order a glass of Pinot Noir, and M. orders a chilled vodka with lemon. When our drinks arrive, I take a sip of my wine and instantly know it's gone bad. I have M. taste it to confirm. I get a Stella instead.
10:50 p.m. — Four vodkas for M., half of that one Stella for me, and two hookahs later, I tell M. that these fumes are getting to me and I feel a bad headache coming on. I'm also tired as I rarely stay up this late during the weekdays. We request the check, and I insist on treating her, since it was her birthday a couple days prior. She refuses to let me get the bill, as she drank a lot more than me. We fight about it like POC often do (have you seen two POC fight over a check? It gets crazy), but she finally wins. I thank her, and I make a mental note to plan a dinner for us soon. We hug and kiss, and I tell her I was so happy to see her. She catches a ride, and I walk back to my car.
11:20 p.m. — I text M. to make sure she got home safely and get into bed after doing my skin-care routine. K. gets ready for bed and joins me. We end up talking for 30 minutes and fall asleep way later than normal.
Daily Total: $15.52

Day Five

7:20 a.m. — I wake up cranky. I groan as I get out of bed and head into the shower. I know it seems like I take a lot of showers, and it's because I do — I just love them! I hang with K. for a bit and then head out.
8:30 a.m. — I drink Folger's coffee before my team meeting. I have no voicemails and no emails, which should be exciting but leaves me feeling unsettled. It's very unusual for a social worker to have zero emails and zero voicemails. I take it as a bad omen that shit may hit the fan in a few days.
11:30 a.m. — After working at my computer for a couple hours, I decide that I need to do a snack run. I drive to Whole Foods and pick up their brown-butter chocolate-chip cookies, two-bite brownies, Boom Chicka Pop Kettle Corn, cotton-candy grapes, and a small box of brown rice and garlic broccoli from the hot bar for lunch. I get back in the office and coordinate dates for K. to go visit his family for his grandfather's funeral. He asks me how I feel about attending with him, and we ultimately decide that I'll stay back this time and take care of the animals. It's a decision that feels right for the both of us. $30.28
4 p.m. —I leave work early to head to the dentist. It is my first time with this new dentist, and I'm so glad I like him so much. Everything was painless and no cavities! I've never had a cavity, and I'm still always nervous that day will happen. I stop by my mom's to say goodbye to her, since she's going on a trip for the weekend. I'm also watching her dog, so she gives me very strict instructions, as she thinks I'm going to just throw endless treats at the puff and have a party.
6:30 p.m. — Finally get home and walk into a sparkling clean kitchen, thanks to K. Dishes are done, dish rack is cleared, and so is the dishwasher. He even cleaned the clumps of cat hair and my hair out of the Roomba, since we're giving it to my best friend at work. I make a quick pasta dish of rigatoni, olive oil, red chili flakes, cherry tomatoes, and peas.
8 p.m. — I settle in to do some work while K. plays some computer game with a couple of his coworkers. Men grow into teenagers when they play video games — it's fascinating. I end up watching the Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes documentary on HBO, because I find her incredibly interesting.
9:55 p.m. — I start getting ready for bed by taking a shower, doing my skin-care and body moisturizing routine with Aesop Breathless oil, Nécessaire lotion, and Aquaphor for my tattoos. I get into bed and turn on Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce on Netflix to zone out. I take three melatonin, and we fall asleep linking pinkies.
Daily Total: $30.28

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and feel surprisingly refreshed. Everyone wakes up, and we all do our normal morning routines. I want to get into the office early because I have a few client appointments today. I remember I'm staying the nights at my mom's house to dog-sit, so I pack a bag with my makeup, skin care, and some workout clothes for Saturday.
8:15 a.m. — I grab a cup of coffee from the community kitchen and settle at my desk. I do the usual drill of phone calls to clients (sometimes we do phone appointments), treatment plans, and progress notes. My 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. client appointments call me to cancel. It sucks, but I appreciate the notice from both clients! That clears up my day a little bit more.
10 a.m. — K. texts that he made a reservation for a date tonight. We go out once or twice a week for dates, and we alternate planning them. We get a little competitive with each other on who can plan the best date nights. I won for the month of June, but he's still trying!
4:45 p.m. — I finish an appointment with my client at Starbucks. It is our usual meeting place, and we discuss some things that we are working on together. I buy myself an iced coffee and buy her one, too. I am so ready for the week to be over and happily drive over to my mom's house. The little puff is so excited to see me, and I feed him, let him out, and then spend some time snuggling with him on the floor. K. is picking me up at 7, so I decide to take a shower and get all "Who is she?" for date night. During the week, I hardly ever do my makeup or get dressed up, so it's nice to do my thing and feel sexy during the weekends. $10.03
6:30 p.m. — Makeup is done and hair is done. I feel like K. and I just started dating all over again, with him picking me up for a date and me trying to figure out what to wear. I change two or three times and feel butterflies in my stomach! I finally settle on a simple black thin-strapped dress and Gucci slip-on loafers.
7:15 p.m. — K. knocks on my mom's door, and I feel like I'm seeing him for the first time. We go to dinner, and I order a glass of wine and K. orders a margarita. We split a Caesar salad and croquettes, and I order the arrabbiata pasta and K. gets their Argentine steak. Everything is really delicious. I really value our dinner conversations, because it's a time for us to really connect, flirt a lot, and talk about what we want to work toward together. K. and I are at the point where we know we want to get married, but are still figuring out how we each feel about having kids. Tonight, we're able to have a really honest conversation about us potentially having kids (or not), without it being too emotionally charged. It feels so good.
10 p.m. — After we share tiramisu, K. picks up the check ($195) and he drives me to my mom's house. I ask him if he would like to come in, and he says only for a glass of water. We know what that means. We let the puff out, and I give him a glass of water to be cheeky. One thing leads to another, and we have sex. After some brief post-sex cuddle time, I kick him out and tell him that MAYBE I'll text him tomorrow (he had to get home to our dog, who was barking like crazy. Thanks for the alerts, Furbo).
11:45 p.m. — Staying at my mom's is fun because she has cable and I can binge watch all the 90 Day Fiancé I want with ZERO interruptions. Even my mom's dog loves it. I let him out one more time and give him a little late-night snack. I text K. good night and turn on an ASMR playlist as I pass out.
Daily Total: $10.03

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — The puff wakes me up way too early for a Saturday. I let him out and feed him his breakfast. I am going to my friend's workout class in an hour, so I hurry and get ready by fixing my hair, brushing my teeth, and getting dressed in yoga leggings and my friend's workout company's shirt to show support.
10 a.m. — My friend co-owns an amazing, empowering fitness company that puts on extremely fun but ass-destroying workouts. My legs are shaking, and I feel like I'm going to throw up mid-workout. I flip off my friend numerous times as she films us for her company's IG. Afterward, they open bottles of Champagne for mimosas (I skip out), and I hang out for a little bit to chat and take Polaroids with my friends. I give everyone sweaty hugs goodbye, because I am meeting K. at our friend's house for brunch so we can meet his new girlfriend.
11:45 a.m. — I walk into our friend's home that smells like French toast and bacon. Our friend D. is an amazing cook, and he spoils us by making French-style scrambled eggs, cinnamon French toast with fresh whipped cream and berries, and bacon. K. brought over stuff for grapefruit and orange juice mimosas. We spend brunch getting to know his new girlfriend and catching up on what we've all been up to. The girlfriend seems nice. Our friend is such a good guy that we only want the best for him.
1:15 p.m. — A week ago, my mom booked me a nail appointment at our mutual nail salon. My appointment is in 15 minutes, so I thank D. for brunch and give sweaty hugs to everyone. K. and I walk out, and he heads home while I head to my appointment.
3 p.m. — My mom booked me a pedicure and a gel manicure! I haven't had a pedicure in forever, so it was really nice to relax. I usually go for neutral colors, but I get bright red with two little white dots. I go to pay, but she tells me that my mom paid for it last week, and she included tip. I am so shocked and grateful for my mom! I give her an additional $25 tip anyway, because she did a great job. I send a text to my mom as I leave the salon, thanking her profusely. She sends me a bunch of heart emojis in response. $25
5:00 p.m. — I start getting ready for dinner by doing my makeup. My hair is air-dried, so it's wavy and messy, just the way I like it. I try on three different outfits again, because hello, butterflies.
6 p.m. — K. picks me up, and when I get in the car, he tells me to check the side pocket of the door. He wrote me a little note, and I smile. K. is not the most romantic man, but he really tries and I really appreciate the small gestures he makes.
7 p.m. — The food is seriously amazing. I order a glass of wine, and K. orders a sour beer. We share beet tartare, octo-pie flatbread, artichoke hearts, focaccia bread, grilled octopus, and their massive roasted chicken dish that's meant for two. Each dish is really unique but really, really good. I'm pleasantly surprised! K. and I spend the majority of dinner bantering with each other and laughing. Until, dun dun dun, we talk about our timeline for marriage. We decide we are both about 98% there, but we both agree there are issues we still want to work on before we decide to get engaged. Whew.
9:45 p.m. — We share a rosette tart for dessert, and K. picks up the check ($250). I thank him for dinner, and we walk back to the car.
11 p.m. — K. drops me off at my mom's house. I invite him in for some "more water," and he spends some time with me before he has to head home, since the dog is barking like crazy. I let the puff out, take a shower, and crawl into bed to watch more 90 Day Fiancé. It's weird falling asleep without K., but I fall asleep feeling so content and happy about this week.
Daily Total: $25
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