Money Diaries logo

A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $98,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We're asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.

Today: a strategy manager who makes $98,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Gatorade.
Occupation: Strategy Manager
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 26
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $98,000
Net Worth: ~$213,000 ($55,000 in savings, $55,000 in investments ($25,000 in personal, $30,000 in vested stock compensation), $10,000 real estate investment (in a family fund), $48,000 in a 401(k), $6,000 in a Roth IRA, $29,000 in a Traditional IRA, $10,000 car (bought in cash))
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (biweekly): $2,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my parents and do not pay rent.)
Gym Membership: $34.99
Monthly Recurring Donations: $100
Utilities: $250-$400
HOA: $82
Internet: $0 (covered by work)
Cell Phone: $0 (on my parent's plan)
Medical/Dental/Vision Insurance: $48 (pre-tax from my paycheck)
401(k): $1,400 (pre-tax from my paycheck)
Roth IRA: $500
Savings: $500
Advertisement
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
There was definitely an expectation to attend higher education, especially coming from an Indian family. It never really crossed my mind to not go to college, at least for an undergraduate degree. I was lucky enough to grow up in a state with really great state school options. My parents did not make a lot and I have three siblings all in the same age range. We were able to get 90% of my tuition covered with grants. My parents covered the rest of tuition along with housing throughout college. I am extremely blessed to have no student debt.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
Growing up I really had no idea where my family stood financially. I knew we weren't living in the lap of luxury, but I never realized my parents had no form of steady savings or extra money. That being said, my parents were quite good with managing the money they had and have never had debt despite sometimes struggling to make ends meet. I think my dad learned from his mistakes and when I first started working, he made sure I started contributing to an IRA and got a credit card to start building credit. Now that I'm older and realize more about the financial situation I grew up in, I'm quite cautious with money and aim for stability.
Advertisement
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I got my first job when I was 15 at a tutoring center. My parents made it clear they wouldn't buy me unnecessary things and as a teenager that's what I wanted. I ended up tutoring throughout college for spending money.
Did you worry about money growing up?
I never worried about money because I never knew the situation we were in. We were able to travel often domestically and to Canada, and I had everything I needed. Thinking back on it, there are things that stand out as ways of saving money that my parents framed as "adventures," like eating out and sleeping in the car or getting a hotel but eating packed food on a road trip.
Do you worry about money now?
I do worry about money because I see the lack of a safety net for my parents. It's not just my future that I'm concerned about, but theirs as well. It took them almost 30 years in this country to be able to buy a home, and they've only had the means to start saving money in their 50s. I really don't want history to repeat itself.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
Besides living expenses, I've been responsible financially for myself since I got my first real job at 22. I've built up a bit of a safety net which I hope I never need to use and my siblings could help if I needed.
Advertisement
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
No.

Day One

5 a.m. — Wake up for prayer and go back to sleep. I'm Muslim and we pray five times a day. It takes anywhere from three to 10 minutes to pray and happens throughout the day.
8 a.m. — I reluctantly actually wake up, do my morning routine (my skin care includes CeraVe Hydrating Foaming Wash, Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid, Vanicream moisturizer, and either Sun Bum or SuperGoop Glow Screen sunscreen) and get cash from my car for the cleaning person who will be arriving soon. I live for free with my parents, but I cover utilities and groceries.
10:30 a.m. — I realize I'm not doing much, so I decide to just get ready and go into the office. Today's outfit is wide-leg jeans from Bershka, a tucked-in half-button linen top from Uniqlo, a black scarf, and black sandals. On my way, I stop by the UPS store to drop off a couple of returns. I don't go into the office very often because I live an hour away. This week is an anomaly in that I plan to go in three times, so I'm mentally preparing for a lot of time in the car.
11:30 a.m. — Amazingly, it takes exactly an hour to get to the office. Mondays are usually an opportunity for me to review whatever was left over from last week and update my running to-do list with relevant tasks for this week.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I need to pray and am also hungry for lunch. Thankfully, we have a prayer room in the building, so I use the one downstairs. A couple of minutes after I get back upstairs, our VP comes out of his office and asks if anyone wants to go to lunch, so that worked out. I get a salad and our VP pays with his company card.
2 p.m. — Back to the office after lunch and time for coffee. I get an almond milk latte from the free café at the office.
3:30 p.m. — I run through presentations with our executives for a few hours. This takes much longer than expected, but everything is looking good and I'm glad we went through it. I also finally remember to call Costco and see if they do yellow fever vaccines which I've been trying to find everywhere — apparently this isn't common anymore, but I need it for a work trip.
5:45 p.m. — I decide to leave work a little early to beat traffic, and my brother convinces me to stop at our favorite pizza place on my way home. He puts the order in so another free meal. Get home, pray, and see my Aritzia package with an overpriced, but favorite bodysuit has arrived.
8 p.m. — Prayer and time to eat.
8:30 p.m. — After dinner, I grab some sorbet and watch Harry Potter with my dad and siblings.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

5 a.m. — Prayer.
Advertisement
7 a.m. — I snooze my alarm because it feels unnecessary to wake up right now.
8:25 a.m. — I get up and join a presentation online on my phone so I can take it to the bathroom to do my morning routine. Perks of WFH, am I right?
9:30 a.m. — I change into a big t-shirt and sweats (essentially my uniform when I'm home) and head downstairs to the office after the presentation and get started on the day.
10:30 a.m. — I usually wait longer to have breakfast, but I'm hungry so I make boiled eggs and hash browns plus a nectarine.
12:30 p.m. — I get hungry again so I make a Greek yogurt parfait with dark chocolate chips and raspberries. Mildly obsessed with this combination.
1 p.m. — Prayer break and I decide to scroll on my phone for a bit and end up buying a lip trio from a new line that YouTuber twins I follow came out with. I hate that shipping isn't free, but it's pretty cheap anyway. $24
2:30 p.m. — Continuing on with work and I eat some rice crisps (basically chips made out of rice).
4 p.m. — Shocker, I'm hungry again and decide on leftover meat pasta sauce and a piece of sourdough toast — I eat very random things at very random times, if it isn't already clear.
5:30 p.m. — Time for Pilates. I just started going back and am really loving it. I got a new client special of three classes for $45 which I've already paid for. I leave a little early so I can stop at the gas station for overly priced gas because I need it for the rest of the week and know I'll be running late tomorrow morning ($55). I also stop at the bank to get $140 in cash — I do this here and there to cover things like eyebrows, nails, etc. that make more sense to pay for in cash. $55
Advertisement
7 p.m. — My sister texts me to pick up a Gatorade and cough drops because she feels a sore throat coming on. $5
7:30 p.m. — I get back home and make dinner: roasted broccoli and tilapia, chickpeas saut´eed with zucchini, red onion, garlic, and chili powder, plus a piece of tilapia marinated in a sumac-garlic-lemon dressing. I have sorbet for dessert.
9 p.m. — I shower, watch some YouTube, pray, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $84

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — Prayer time. I had the goal of going to the gym now to not ruin my newly created routine of a mix of Pilates, weight lifting, and cardio, but I go straight back to bed after praying.
7:30 a.m. — I snoozed my 7 a.m. alarm but finally get up and make it out to the gym.
9 a.m. — Back home, showered, and I'm rushing to get ready as per usual. Today's outfit is a black bodysuit from Aritzia, wide-leg black linen pants from H&M, a sage green unbuttoned linen button-up from H&M, brown sandals from Target, and a tan scarf. I make a slice of toast, boiled eggs, and some raspberries and go through some emails and things I need to do while putting on some makeup — Ilia Skin Tint, Kosas concealer, e.l.f. putty blush (a summer favorite), L'oreal Telescopic mascara, It Cosmetics lip gloss.
11 a.m. — I get to the office and do some random tasks. The production executive coordinating our work trip sends an email with a recommended travel clinic so I make an appointment for later this week.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — I still keep in touch with my old manager after moving teams so I go see her and a few other old team members who happen to be in the office.
1 p.m. — It was my manager's birthday on Monday so my teammate arranged a birthday lunch. We go to a pretty good taco place and my manager pays, but expenses it.
2 p.m. — Post-lunch, I need a mandatory free latte from the café. One of my coworkers who's an excellent baker made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (my favorite) so there is my lunch dessert.
5:45 p.m. — I leave the office, meet my friend, and walk over to a pop-up for a NYC-based jewelry company. I've been wanting a permanent bracelet (they basically just weld it closed on you) and finally get one. Absolutely unnecessary but I'm easily influenced and I influence my friend too. $108
6:30 p.m. — I drive over to dinner at a seafood place — oysters, lobster, truffle fries, crab fried rice, yellowfin. All in all, pretty good, and even better that my friend who invited us out is paying (rest assured I tried to pay but it didn't work). I just pay for parking. $7
9:30 p.m. — After a bit of a post-dinner walk (key for digestion), I head back home, shower, and read a bit, and I'm out.
Daily Total: $115

Day Four

5 a.m. — Prayer.
7:55 a.m. — I'm up for my 8 a.m. meeting with just enough time to turn my laptop on.
Advertisement
9 a.m. — My computer rings and I realize I have another meeting so I just take that one from bed too.
9:30 a.m. — With my meetings finished, I finally get up because today is another office day. Outfit today is a tan button-up with the front tucked in, cropped jeans, white/tan platform sandals, and a dark brown scarf.
11 a.m. — After eating breakfast, getting ready, and getting distracted by various work things, I finally leave the house.
12 p.m. — I get to the office and check my emails. I see a few friends and chat with them.
1 p.m. — A bulk of my job is made up of greenlight analyses for projects in development that our creative teams want to greenlight to go into production. I work on our international shows and cover four countries; this month, shows for two countries are going up for greenlight so that is mainly what I have been working on.
2 p.m. — Prayer break.
2:30 p.m. — I go to lunch with a few coworkers. I decide on a veggie sandwich (fennel, arugula, some type of sauce, tomato, avocado, cheese, onion) and we each get a bag of chips to share with some sparkling water. As you may have guessed, we expense this. Unlike many other tech-related companies, we don't have the typical perks of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We get a free coffee and everything else comes with a cost, so we take advantage of our ability to expense meals when we're together ($15 expensed).
Advertisement
3:30 p.m. — Back to the office and stop by the café for a latte.
5:45 p.m. — I'm getting dinner with my coworkers to celebrate a new position for one of them, and we message back and forth about when to leave. I decide to leave a little early because I want to switch that permanent bracelet to my other hand. I show them the bracelet and they all agree that it is the dumbest purchase I've ever made. I also pray on my way out.
6:40 p.m. — After stopping to swap the bracelet and circling a bit for parking at the restaurant, I finally make it there. This is a new South/Southeast Asian restaurant that looks really good so we all peruse the menu and catch up. We end up ordering several things to share — potato & pea puffs, shrimp skewers, dumplings, beef short rib, two types of curries, rice, and roti — and the food is delicious. We also order all three types of dessert on the menu. I'm really thankful to have such a good group of coworkers who I can connect with both in and out of work. I've been at this company for over three years and they are a large part of why I've stayed so long (long in millennial years). We expense dinner but I pay for parking. $3
9 p.m. — I get back home and find out my sister has tested positive for COVID. Since I've been out so much this week, I haven't seen her that much and think I probably haven't caught it.
Advertisement
10 p.m. — My goal today was to go on the bike when I got home, but on the way two of my closest friends text and we decide to finally do a catch-up FaceTime. I do my night routine and pray, then get on with them.
1 a.m. — After talking for far too long as usual I go to sleep.
Daily Total: $3

Day Five

5 a.m. — Prayer.
7:30 a.m. — I want to start work a bit earlier today to get some things out of the way because I usually lose any sense of focus on Friday afternoons. I feel like I have a bit of a sore throat, but maybe it's mental since I found out about my sister having COVID.
9:40 a.m. — I'm caught up in whatever I'm working on and then realize I need to leave in 10 minutes to make it to my vaccine appointment and then my sister texts asking for a smoothie, which I have to make because she's quarantined. I rush to get ready (simple skin care and OOTD of a tan bodysuit from Aritzia, black yoga pants from Old Navy, a white button-up from H&M, Air Forces, and a sky blue scarf) and make the smoothie in five minutes. I drive to the appointment.
11:30 a.m. — Done with appointment after getting three vaccines (yellow fever, tetanus, typhoid) which cost a whopping $799. This place doesn't accept insurance, but it was recommended by work so it was the easiest to go there — obviously expensing this. ($799 expensed)
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Back home and time for lunch — leftover rice and some chicken that I find in the fridge. Then back to work.
1:30 p.m. — I take a meeting with a creative executive to go over his final comments.
2 p.m. — Meeting is finished and I head to the mosque for Friday prayers. I don't make it every Friday, but I try to go whenever I can.
3 p.m. — Prayers are done and I start to not feel so great. I go back home and finish up what I was working on.
4:30 p.m. — It feels like a good time to start the weekend and I also am starting to really have body aches, which I was told were a side effect of the vaccines. I scheduled a PCR test at CVS earlier so I go to take that, and also pick up some throat lozenges and sinus medication. $22
5 p.m. — I'm home and tapped out for the day. I end up spending the rest of the evening in bed.
Daily Total: $22

Day Six

5 a.m. — I somehow manage to get out of bed to pray and I feel terrible.
10 a.m. — I actually wake up now and the body aches are really kicking. I legitimately feel the sore throat now too so I take a rapid COVID test — it comes back negative.
11 a.m. — I go downstairs and find buttermilk in the fridge so I make waffles. I just use the first recipe that comes up on Google and they're so good.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — After making and eating the waffles and cleaning up, I am fully wiped out so I lay on the couch channel surfing and then reading for a few hours.
3 p.m. — I get hungry and eat leftover chickpeas and zucchini from earlier this week with some yogurt.
8 p.m. — I've had no energy to do anything today, so that's exactly what I've done. My brother and dad grill up some burgers and I eat in a different room because we all think I might have COVID.
10 p.m. — I finally get my results from the test yesterday, and it comes back negative. I go downstairs and watch Rise, the movie about the Antetokounmpos family, with my brother. I fall asleep on the couch as usual.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

11 a.m. — I miss the morning prayer and wake up now feeling worse than yesterday. I text my sister and ask what she wants to eat. She can't think of anything but there are sweet potatoes and bell peppers that need to be used up so I make some breakfast potatoes that can be eaten with boiled eggs.
11:45 a.m. — Potatoes are in the oven and I am super hungry at this point so I eat a leftover burger and watch some YouTube.
12 p.m. — I give my sister breakfast and watch TV/read for a bit. Looks like it'll be a repeat of yesterday.
2 p.m. — My brother is going to go get groceries so we make a meal list for the week. Even though I just got the PCR test results, based on how I feel I take another rapid test.
Advertisement
2:15 p.m. — Well, there it is. I immediately get a positive result and go to my room to start quarantining. Before doing this, I also drag the exercise bike we keep upstairs into my room to at least try and do a smidge of activity while I'm in there.
7 p.m. — I'm hungry and my brother gets me ramen and some Gatorade. I do nothing but watch TV and YouTube, binge TikTok, and read. I also manage 10 minutes on the bike and then I'm tapped out for the night.
Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series

Advertisement