A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $78,000 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.
Today: a Systems Engineer working in Aerospace who makes $78,000 per year and spends some of. her money this week on NARS Pure Radiant Moisturizer.
Occupation: Systems Engineer
Industry: Aerospace
Age: 23
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $78,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,249.82 (plus $100-$300 varying on overtime)
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,100
Student Loans: $500
Car Loans: $400 (both of my loan payments are aggressive and more than the minimum amounts)
Water, Sewage, Gas: $75
Parking Spot: $75
Gym: $90
Utilities: $20-$80, depends on the month
Tolls: ~$75
WiFi: $0 (shout out to my roommate's tech company that pays this)
Spotify Premium: $9.99
Phone: $30
Netflix: $0 (shout out to my parents)
Union Dues: $49.50
Health/Dental/Vision: $0 m(y company's coverage is incredible. I am going to start contributing a bit to my HSA starting next year, though)
401(k): $480 (I contribute 8% and my employer matches 9%)
Savings: $900 (Moving across the country was really expensive but I've built about a two-month emergency fund and I will also move money out of this savings account for high credit card bill months, travel expenses, etc. I hope to start investing money into an SNP500 account soon.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — There's my alarm... there she goes... a few rounds of five-minute interval alarms later (I am not a morning person) and I'm finally up. My morning routine is down to 20 minutes flat because I intermittent fast so I don't eat breakfast. Intermittent fasting isn't for everyone but it works for me — it keeps me disciplined and I feel guilt-less treating myself with nice food. I also usually have a standard skin routine but am skipping it because I got a facial on Monday and my skin still feels really clean and hydrated and like I don't need to do anything for it (an amazing feeling that I am cherishing). I just splash some water on my face, moisturize my lips, and head out to drive to work. I also don't usually wear makeup to work.
7:45 a.m. — At my desk and inhaling coffee. My team is pretty lax about when you come in, but we have 7:30 meetings often. If a meeting isn't involved, I usually show up between 7:45 and 8:15. Work is busy busy busy because it's the last three days before our lab shuts down for the holiday break.
10 a.m. — Somewhere in this crazy workday I remember I need to order my brother's Christmas gift and an outfit for New Year's before they won't ship in time. I get my brother a pair of leather white Jack Purcell low top sneakers and somehow find a coupon online and feel like I've won the lottery ($52.50). After consulting my best friend, N., that I'm visiting in Brooklyn for New Year's (he works in the fashion industry and is one of the most blunt people I know so going to him for fashion advice is always a win no matter how harsh he is), I decide to get a super extra sequin black and rainbow-colored skirt from Express. I also get an olive green off-the-shoulder sweater shirt thing that looks hella good on the model and will hopefully look hella good on me too. This gets me to free shipping ($54.90). I ship everything to my parents' house in Massachusetts so yay to no 10.1% Seattle sales tax! $107.40
11 a.m. — I eat a salad at my desk before I have to go to meetings and test in the lab for the rest of the day. For those who want to know about my salad: arugula and kale mix with butternut squash, seasoned chicken breast strips, heirloom tomatoes, huge chunks of fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinaigrette. I am a meal prepper so you'll read about this salad for the next two days.
4:30 p.m. — Work was exhausting. Luckily I have awesome coworkers and I spent half the day running tests with them, which made it much more enjoyable. Our testing went half an hour later than planned and I have to dip to make it to a spin class.
6:30 p.m. — I'm out of spin! That class and instructor always kill me and I love it. My gym is walking distance from my apartment and has amazing classes and makes me so happy and is definitely the best thing I spend my money on every month.
6:45 p.m. — I come home to my roommate, B., FaceTiming N. B. and I are best friends from college (amazingly lucky coincidence we got jobs in the same city after graduation) and we all talk about how excited we are to see each other and visit him for New Year's. I take a quick shower after taking my vitamin D3 pills and multi-vitamin gummies. I make Trader Joe's chicken poblano ravioli with marinara sauce, roasted veggies, and heirloom tomatoes for dinner.
7:45 p.m. — It's hump day aka WINE WEDNESDAY. B. and I have a group of friends that does one wine night every week and we rotate hosting. We grab a bottle of red wine and TJ's peppermint JoJo's in a bag and take the bus to our friend's apartment. We have to walk a little after the stop and even though I was fully aware it was raining... I wore my suede sneakers instead of one of my waterproof boots? Why am I like this? ($2.75 on an ORCA card paid for by work).
11:45 p.m. — OMG it's late. Since this was the last wine night before we all disperse for the holidays, it was extra fun but also went extra late. I had a few glasses of red wine (I stopped drinking anything sugary or bubbly during wine nights after a couple traumatizing wine hangovers at work lol) and feel happily tipsy. My friend, D., also provided a chicken and rice Colombian dish she made and a German fruit cake her old host family in Germany sent to her for her birthday. Both were delicious. We spent the night talking about work, New Year's resolutions (like learning to crack an egg with one hand), the fun things we want to do in the city when we all get back, and of course, how men are trash. B. calls us our Lyft home. We usually switch off calling the rides.
Daily Total: $107.40

Day Two

6:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and am dead tired. The wine put me to sleep like a baby but it's not the same when you only sleep like a baby for six hours. Babies need like...18 hours of sleep and I am baby. I splash my face with cold water and put on moisturizer. I put my glasses on instead of contacts because my dark circles need the coverage, lol. I remember to open my bedroom window so my plants get the potential five minutes of sunlight today while I'm gone.
8:20 a.m. — At my desk. Work's still busy but not as bad as yesterday. I follow up with what I missed yesterday, answer emails, troubleshoot problems, and just keep trying to wrap things up before leaving.
11:30 a.m. — I eat a salad at my desk and take a break to look up fun Christmas things to do in the city before I leave.
12:15 p.m. — I'm intermittently Snapchatting my ex-boyfriend who's back home in Boston throughout this workday. We had an amazingly happy and healthy relationship in college but when I found out about my job in Seattle, I realized no matter how much I loved him and our relationship, at 22 years old, I wasn't ready to move across the country with someone. We both had also done long distance in the past and could not picture ourselves doing it again. Even though I miss him, I'm really glad I made this transition in my life independently and without the stress of an LDR. I am also so grateful he understood why I wasn't ready to have the responsibility of being the sole reason someone moved across the country. We're seeing each other when I'm back home next week so it's about to be an emotional rollercoaster.
3:30 p.m. — Work. Is. Dragging. I realize that everything is going by so slowly because a) half the office is gone so it's super quiet, and b) I had to come in and work overtime on Sunday so it's actually a six-day week. I head out around 4.
4 p.m. — It's the best day ever because my grandma calls me!!! She just went back to Nepal after visiting and staying with us in the U.S. for six months and we've been playing phone tag all week (it is not a pretty time difference) so this is great. My grandma and I are the same sassy and sarcastic women, and catching up with her always makes my heart. And I laugh a lot because she's a funny lady. I was worried she was lonely since she moved back to Nepal alone but turns out she's already been to two weddings and is LIVING.
5:30 p.m. — B. and I are going out to dinner before I take her to the airport! We're basically an old married couple and try to do date night at a new restaurant most weeks. Today we try Rupee Bar, a new Indian- and Sri Lankan-inspired small plates place that's really well-reviewed. We walk in and the entire aesthetic of the place is exactly what I love — bohemian with a lot of plants and gold accents. We order naan, daal, kerala fried chicken, deviled prawns, and pumpkin curry. The food is sensational. Let me tell you, as a South Asian girl whose mom makes kickass daal, I have very high standards for daal in general and wow this is some of the best I've had. We also split a really delicious mezcal saffron cocktail that I can't remember the name of. Also, in general with my food purchases: I always tip 20% at restaurants and at coffee shops, bars, etc. I leave $1 for drinks. $33.25
8:30 p.m. — I get home from dropping my roommate off at the airport and just relax and think about life on the couch for a very long time. I have a glass of wine, light a candle, and listen to an interesting mix of some of my favorite artists: Fleetwood Mac, The XX, Daniel Ceasar, and Kali Uchis. I've had a lot of mixed and unexplainable anxiety and emotions over the past couple of weeks about seeing my ex-boyfriend. I know it's going to be great to see each other, but can tell it's going to open up wounds that I worked so hard to close. We won't be making any big decisions about our future but we'll definitely be talking about our emotions and how we're feeling and I definitely don't know if I'm ready to super vulnerable in front of him because what if we're on two completely different pages?
10:15 p.m. — I get ready for bed and decide to return to the usual skin routine: Dr. Dennis Gross Cleansing Gel (amazing for combination skin like mine), toner, and Aveeno moisturizer. I fall asleep like a baby.
Daily Total: $33.25

Day Three

7 a.m. — I get up for work and am definitely moving slower than usual. I don't want to go to work at all and am still really emotional about the ex-boyfriend situation. I put on one of my favorite albums (Cupid Deluxe by Blood Orange — this is for my niche indie R&B-loving friends), get ready, and officially resume my skincare routine. I wear contacts today because I'm going to the gym after work.
8:15 a.m. — At work a little later than I'd like but it's okay, I already know it's going to be a slow day at work and most people are going to leave early. I have a lot of random transition stuff to work on. A lot of people are leaving our team when we come back next year (going on rotations, child care, etc.) so we're planning who's going to take over whose work.
11:30 a.m. — I go on a lunch break with my friend, L. She and I are both new hires and have become such good friends! I feel really lucky our friendship worked out so well, she and her roommate are part of our Wine Wednesday group. Almost everyone on my team is really young and it's a really fun group, I'm really sad so many people are leaving. After, I go back to my desk and wrap up more work and let my lead know what my plans are for my open tasks. I clean up my desk a little and leave around 3:15.
4:30 p.m. — It's raining and dark out and I'm laying on the floor lacking the motivation to work out, but I go anyways. I walk to my gym and do a solid full-body workout filled with barbell squats, hip thrusts (the best workout for that booty), shoulder presses, inverted rows, step-ups, and a couple other things I honestly don't know the name of.
6:30 p.m. — I get home and take a shower and realize if I wash my hair I won't get to my friend, D.'s, in time. Our Wine Wednesday group plus a couple others are meeting up at D.'s and then going to a fun Christmas pop-up bar in Belltown! I take a quick body shower, thank the gods for dry shampoo, eat Trader Joe's chicken potstickers for dinner, get ready in a freakishly quick amount of time but still look presentable, and run to the bus stop to get to D.'s.
7:15 p.m. — I get to her place and she has snacks and Gluhwein, which is German mulled wine. The wine is warm and delicious and I snack on Oreos with it. A few more friends come and we all have a great time talking and hanging out and then D. calls us an Uber XL around 8:30 to go to the bar. We Venmo her for part of the ride. $5.60
8:45 p.m. — This bar is SO FESTIVE. The decorations and ambiance are really nice, we score a nice round table, and my drink comes in a T-Rex-shaped cup and the T-Rex is wearing a Santa hat. It's really the best thing ever so naturally I get a cute photo of myself sipping out of the cup and Instagram it. I pay for drinks for D. and me and she says she'll pay for the next round. We stay here for probably an hour and a half before the next bar. There's a line out the door when we leave and we're very happy we came early. $36
10:15 p.m. — We go to a bar down the street called Lava Lounge. It's a gothic tiki dive bar, truly one of the most Seattle places I've been to, and I'm really into it. They're known for their rum drinks so I get the house Mai Tai, which is delicious and strong. A couple of girls my friends know but I've never met before meet up with us. I'm happy to meet them because they're super fun and we make tentative plans to have a big wine night after New Year's.
12:30 a.m. — Half of us realize we have flights the next day and need to pack and get our lives together ASAP so we dip while others stay for more drinks. I lovingly say bye and happy holidays to everyone and Uber home. I chug some water and do the regular night routine and am asleep by 1:15. $6.62
Daily Total: $48.22

Day Four

9:15 a.m. — Wake up to get my ~flow~ in before heading home for the next 10+ days. I chug more water, get changed, and walk to a yoga class at my gym.
11 a.m. — The Saturday morning yoga class is always a good idea. Morning yoga is always a rewarding challenge for me because it always feels extra hard to really concentrate on things like my breathing and balance. On my way home, I decide to stop at my favorite coffee shop in my neighborhood. I get a latte and decide to chill at the coffee shop and enjoy the place's atmosphere and people watch from a window seat. $6.12
12:30 p.m. — At home, I shower and start getting my life together before my flight. I first make food: scrambled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, and salsa. Then I water all my plants, vacuum the apartment, clean out the fridge, pick up a book I had on hold at the library, and take out the trash and compost. I'm doing things at a glacial pace because my flight isn't till midnight.
3 p.m. — Another amazing international phone call! My best friend, F., from college, calls me from Panama. He's in the Peace Corps and will be there for the next two years so we try to talk on the phone whenever we can. He and I can talk for hours and that's exactly what we do. I'm going to try to visit him next winter break.
5 p.m. — As I'm packing my suitcase with gifts, I realize I want to buy my family something Seattle-related. There's a local shop that sells awesome cards that I can get for my friends when I see them in New York, so I go there to kill two birds with one stone. I get two cards for my friends ($13.21). I then go to another locally-owned store nearby that makes uniquely designed Seattle souvenirs. I get my parents a coaster and my brother a magnet ($9.80). $23.01
7 p.m. — I'm home and finish packing but realize I'm gonna be hungry at the airport. I really should've done this when I left to get the gifts because I walk down to the same area in my neighborhood for snacks. I go to PCC and get Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups (my biggest weakness) and a Thai cashew snack mix. I then go home and proceed to eat all the peanut butter cups as I make a dinner comprised of the last bits in my fridge — grilled chicken breast strips, peppers, tomatoes, and chunks of mozzarella cheese drizzled in balsamic vinaigrette. $7.18
8 p.m. — I do some last-minute errands like run the dishwasher and pay our utilities bill ($162.28, listed above, for two months. Seattle utilities went through a huge system change and we've been getting our bill bi-monthly). I add this cost to Splitwise. I leave around 8:15 with all my stuff and head to the airport.
9:30 p.m. — At the airport after a combination of taking one bus downtown then transferring to the link light rail system. ($5.75 on the bus pre-loaded ORCA card? I honestly didn't catch how much the link ride cost).
10:15 p.m. — At my gate wayyyyy too early and my flight is delayed half an hour. I snack and read my book, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I discovered her work this past summer and fell in love with her stories and writing style, this is the last book of hers I haven't read. She writes fiction beautifully and also captures the South Asian immigrant experience so eloquently that it usually brings me to tears. 60 pages into the book and I definitely already had to hold some back. I board the plane a little after midnight.
Daily Total: $36.31

Day Five

9 a.m. — Arrive in Boston and woooof. I slept probably an hour and a half on that flight and feel like shit. It is freezing in Boston, there's a massive line for Dunkin, everyone is more aggressive (in an endearing way), and it feels exactly like home. I take the Logan express shuttle bus to a station near my house where my dad picks me up. $12
10 a.m. — I'm home and reunited with my family (parents and older brother). I plop on the couch to catch up with my family and am in a daze falling in and out of sleep. I definitely get a lot of food handed over to me and switch off between eating and falling asleep. At some point, I make it to my bed.
3 p.m. — I'm up and feel like I'm in a fifth dimension, you know those post-nap feels. At least my splitting headache is gone. I wake up to home-cooked Nepali food and it makes both my stomach and heart melt. I eat rotis, chicken curry, spinach, channa masala, and sweet yogurt. Dessert is kheer, which is Nepali vermicelli rice pudding. Wow, I missed this. I watch some football with my dad and then my brother and I catch up on some episodes of Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act. This show leaves me both satisfied that I'm educated on controversial matters and unsettled at the state of things.
7 p.m. — Being at home means momos!! Momos are dumplings dipped in a spicy tomato sauce and are a staple in Nepal. They are absolutely delicious and a necessity every time we come home. We make two fillings: a vegetarian one (with paneer base) and a chicken one. The fillings include masalas, salt, ginger, cilantro, cabbage, onion, and tomato. The sauce is a blended mix of tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, green chili, and a couple of other things I forget. We help my parents prepare them and then wrap them together as a family. We drink wine and eat blocks of cheese throughout the assembly and consumption processes. We are very full and happy.
9 p.m. — My family decides to watch a Bollywood movie on Netflix. I realize it's a movie I've already seen, but it's entertaining nonetheless. My brother and I love laughing at how absurd the acting and dramatic scenes in Bollywood movies are. Sometime throughout this night my ex-boyfriend tells me he's picked out a restaurant for us to eat dinner at the day after Christmas: Casa Romero. It's a fancy Mexican restaurant in Boston's Back Bay and he hints at the fact he has a gift for me. I'm both overwhelmed and relieved because I think we're on the same page :) I decide I'm going to buy him A Gentleman in Moscow for Hanukkah.
12 a.m. — I've been awake for way too much of this day. Good night, world.
Daily Total: $12

Day Six

9 a.m. — I wake up with a headache for no reason and am definitely still jet-lagged. I get up and eat a breakfast of champions: leftover momos. I log in to work remotely around 11:30 a.m. There is very little work to do and basically everyone's online so this is funny. I get a few things squared away and set myself up to not be completely overwhelmed when I open my laptop up for the first time after New Year's.
1:30 p.m. — I bask in my parents' big room in the back of the house with huge windows on every wall surface. The sunlight feels awesome and mom keeps bringing me food like the loving mother she is. I am mostly IMing my coworkers about the acceptable time to go offline.
3 p.m. — My lead informs us that our manager is kicking everyone out of the building and wishes me happy holidays. Woohoo! I go offline and eat a small (late) lunch of falafel salad. I start getting ready for tonight. My family's going to Boston tonight and my brother and I are treating my parents to a nice dinner in Boston's Little Italy.
5:30 p.m. — Many selfies in front of our family's Christmas tree juxtaposed with a Buddhist mandala later, we are off. It's actually pretty warm for Boston standards, which is really nice because my brother (who lives in LA now) and I have definitely turned into babies when it comes to the cold. We walk around the waterfront and then Faneuil Hall to admire the Christmas tree and all the decorations. My parents cover parking.
7:30 p.m. — We arrive at for our dinner reservation at Arya's Trattoria. The ambiance is spectacular and the staff is incredibly friendly. We all split a bottle of Tuscan wine and for appetizers get baked layer eggplant with fresh mozzarella and San Marano tomatoes, truffle Ceasar salad, limoncello marinated shrimp with pine nuts and capers, and the burrata special. The eggplant is melting in our mouths and all the sauces are packed with flavor. We decide to stick to getting only two main entrees because the portions are generous. We get a white fish special that comes with lentils and spinach and gnocchi tossed with truffle and Maine lobster. The sauce in the gnocchi dish is so good that I'd eat it out of a shoe, no lie. We've been to many places in the North End over the years and we all agree this is the best we've been to. My brother and I split the bill and we leave our tables for the next eager patrons that can definitely smell what's going on in the kitchen. $141
9:30 p.m. — We go to Modern Pastry next door for dessert and get chocolate chip, pistachio, and regular cannolis, limoncello cake, and a rum cake. We continue being incredibly happy with our food decisions. My parents pay for this one and we head home very stuffed and happy to be back eating together as a family. We go home and I fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $141

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I slept so well but still have a headache, why?! I eventually drag myself out of bed (I'm not a morning regardless of the circumstances. My 26-year-old brother who is a freakishly annoying morning person still threatens to wake me up by splashing water on me if I don't get out of bed and do fun stuff with him). I get ready because he and I have a lot of errands to run today. I get a homemade chai latte to go (the best) and we're off to the mall by 9:15. And yes, we're THOSE people going to the mall on Christmas Eve.
9:45 a.m. — The mall is surprisingly calm. I pick up a pair of Blondo boots that were pre-ordered on Nordstrom for my mom and help my brother pick out gifts for my parents because he hasn't done his shopping yet. He's in the middle of applying to grad school while working full time so his free time has been precious. We pick out a cheese cutting board for my dad and a festive scarf for my mom. I also go to Sephora to restock on some makeup. I buy the NARS Pure Radiant moisturizer (the Annapurna shade matches my skin perfectly, which I find delightfully hilarious) ($45) and a Sephora eyebrow pencil ($12). I also pick up my birthday gift three months late and use my insider points to get Drunk Elephant cleanser and moisturizer samples, Moroccan Oil shampoo and conditioner samples, and a mini dry shampoo. All these products will be perfect for when I'm staying at my friend's in New York for three days. I was planning on buying travel-sized toiletries but now I don't have to, so yay! $62.19
12 p.m. — Next stop is my favorite eyebrow salon. I have yet to find a better place to do my eyebrows and they give me a discount because it's a business owned by Nepali women. I look in the mirror, and as usual, they never let me down. $8 + $2 tip. $10
1 p.m. — My brother and I go to Target and I pick some more makeup I need to replace, some stuff for the house my parents requested, and CeraVe moisturizer for my brother ($35.50). We then go to Whole Foods to buy food for Christmas Day. My parents are having two families over for the holiday and since Christmas isn't as serious for us, they have trusted me and my brother to cook Christmas dinner the past few years. We would NEVER be trusted to cook for a Nepali holiday. My brother is making Mediterranean chicken kebabs and a Greek flatbread pizza. I am making a Mediterranean tomato lemon shrimp rice dish, stuffed peppers, and bruschetta. We buy ingredients for the dinner plus some snacks like hummus, chips, peppers, etc. The total comes out to $130 but my dad gave us his card for this one. $35.50
3 p.m. — We unpack groceries, eat a lunch of leftovers, wrap some presents, and get ready to go to a Christmas Eve party at my parents' friends' house in a nearby suburb. We leave around 4:30.
5:30 p.m. — We're at the Christmas party and enjoy everyone's company. It's really nice seeing my parents' friends that I grew up seeing almost every weekend. They're all such warm and supportive people and I always enjoy seeing and catching up with them. Their younger kids are also adorable. We have a fun time eating a mix of Nepali and American food and also do a Yankee Swap/White Elephant, play pin the nose on the reindeer, Bingo, and some card games. We head out around 11 and I am asleep by 12:30. Merry almost Christmas!
Daily Total: $107.69
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