A Week In Los Angeles, CA, 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.
Today: a video editor working in entertainment who makes $50,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on Vegemite.
Occupation: Video Editor
Industry: Entertainment
Age: 22
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Salary: $50,000
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): $697
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,226 (I live with one roommate, and this is my half.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I am debt-free. I paid off all of my student loans!)
Water & Trash: $28
Electricity: $70
Spotify: $9.99
Netflix: $0 (I'm use my ex's account, shh!)
Health, Vision, & Dental Insurance: $45 (deducted from my weekly paycheck)
Phone: $28.80
Internet: $25
Car Insurance: $287.35 (I'm just got my American driver's license, so this is very high!)
Roth 401(k) Contribution: $50 (My employer matches 4%)
Lawyer Savings: $200 (I'm foreign and will need a new visa next year, which will come with large lawyer fees. Filing for a visa in the U.S. without a lawyer is statistically very unsuccessful.)
Travel Savings: $200 (I plan to go home next year and am currently saving for a plane ticket.)
Emergency Fund Savings: $250 (I contribute this monthly minimum in case something bad happens!)
Advertisement

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up, get dressed, and eat cereal for breakfast in my sleepy morning state. It's Wednesday, and I wish it were Saturday already. I walk my dog around the block twice, bring her inside, and feed her before heading to work. I have a very short commute to work — I'm lucky!
9:30 a.m. — After my morning meeting, I start compiling footage and audio for an upcoming project. I comb through video selects and listen to soundbites to find the best takes and shots.
10:45 a.m. — I text with my boyfriend a little bit about what he's be doing today. He lives across the country and we're long distance, but he's moving here in May once he graduates. (We went to the same college.) I send him a few job postings that I found on LinkedIn and he says he'll apply to them.
12:30 p.m. — I make toast at work with Nutella and peanut butter. I keep these items in the pantry at work because I don't like to spend money on lunches. I'm content with carb-y peanut butter goodness and a free apple from the office kitchen.
3:30 p.m. — I eat popcorn from the office kitchen, then give a video presentation of videos that I've edited over the last week for potential advertisements. Some of them are approved, and I'm happy with the result! (I hate public speaking, to be honest.)
5 p.m. — After work, I go straight to the grocery store. It's small and clean, which helps me stick to my grocery list only. I buy enough food to last me about a week, including drinks. I drink a lot of Diet Coke, so I buy the Kroger name brand version in bulk to save money. This is how I convince myself it's okay for me to drink six cans a day! (Yikes.) I also buy food for a pasta night, bread for lunches at work, Vegemite, Raisin Bran, almond and soy milk, lots of fake chicken nuggets because they're on sale, frozen vegetables, and discounted chocolate. I have rice and curry sauce at home I know I can also use up this week, too. $70.66
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I get home and unpack everything. Then, I put the vegetarian nuggets in the oven with vegetables and empty the dishwasher. I try to meal plan as much as possible, but rather than make fancy meals, I just stick to staples that I enjoy because nobody else has to eat what I make. Despite living with a roommate, we make our own food.
7 p.m. — Now I'm in pajamas, playing with my dog and eating my dinner. I watch Keeping Up with The Kardashians and spend 15 minutes angry tweeting about why Khloe hasn't left that cheater Tristan yet. (C'mon Khloe, thank u, next.)
9 p.m. — I order an extra bed comforter online from Target because my parents are coming to visit me in the new year. I'll be sleeping on the couch and they'll have my bed, so I need something to sleep with. I also do research online about immigration attorneys in the area, as next year I'll need to apply for a new visa to stay in the country and keep my current job. I make a few online appointments and schedule a few phone consultations for tomorrow. I'm pretty concerned about how expensive it'll be. $45.90
10:30 p.m. — I do a face mask, clean out my closet, and find a few things to sell on Poshmark. I've been really into downsizing my wardrobe recently and I love making extra money to put towards savings. I decide to take pictures of the items in the morning when there will be better natural light. I brush my teeth, call my boyfriend to talk a little bit and say goodnight, and then go to bed.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $116.56

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — I wake up early so that I have time to take pictures for Poshmark before work. I take about 10 photos of the items and then post them on the app. I also post a few things on eBay as well...I'm on a "get rid of everything" kick!
8 a.m. — By the time I'm showered and making breakfast, three things have already sold on Poshmark — WHAT?! I make $28.50 after the Poshmark fee is taken out. I put the items in a bag to bring to work and carry on with my morning routine like normal: Raisin Bran with soy milk and dog play time.
8:50 a.m. — On my way to work I see that my gas tank is almost empty. I pull into a Shell station because I have a Ralphs card and get cheaper gas there. Gas is so expensive in Los Angeles, it's insane, but there's no real other alternative for me at the moment, so this is just an added expense of living in my dream city. I fill up my car and then quickly head to work. $47.80
1 p.m. — Our office is doing a Secret Santa exchange and the spending limit is $25 per person. I look at my assigned person's wish list (we all made wish lists) and purchase a gift for them. $24.30
1:30 p.m. — I eat my toast with peanut butter and Nutella as usual. My coworkers go out to eat, but I stay back to finish work and videos that need to get done. Sometimes with video editing, you just need to be alone and grind it out!
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — I turn in the final edit to my boss and take a break by walking outside. My work is near an outside mall, so I walk around and admire all of the Christmas lights and pretty decorations. I FaceTime my boyfriend to show him and we chat for about 15 minutes before I head back. It's nice to get outside in the sun, because the editing labs are all super dark.
4 p.m. — I had two phone consultations with immigration attorneys about my upcoming visa application to remain in the U.S. To say that I'm stressed would be an understatement. Each of the attorneys offered me a plan of action, but each consultation cost me $50. I feel like this $100 was a necessity, but also a bummer to drop money like this. $100
5 p.m. — I drive home and call my best friend to talk about the consultations. I explain to her that the fees will be upwards of $5,500 just to submit my labor application and visa process. Plus, I'll have to go back home and apply at the embassy, which means I have to take time off work (UGH!). This changes my savings goals, and I'll adjust my budget accordingly tonight. (I use Google sheets to track my bills and everything.)
7 p.m. — I realized that I forgot to mail the packages today, and resolve to do it tomorrow. I make pasta and eat it while I update my budget. Normally I save for travel, potential dog expenses, and other things, but now I need to really start saving for these visa and attorney fees. I redirect my balance transfers into my savings account and make the transactions automatic. I should be okay by April to pay the fees, so I hope everything works out alright.
Advertisement
8:30 p.m. — I take my dog on a walk to Starbucks and call my boyfriend. I ask about his day and we make plans for when he's going to come visit next. He'll be coming in January to see me once my parents leave, and it's nice to have something to look forward to. At Starbucks, I use the leftover balance on an old gift card and then pay the difference for a hot chocolate. I talk about the two lawyers with my boyfriend and decide which one to ultimately use. It's going to be tough, but I'm not going to marry my boyfriend at a young age for a green card. I want to do this myself, independently, with regards to finances and also the hard work. $2.55
10 p.m. — I shower, eat some chocolate, and brush my teeth before bed. I set my alarm for early again so that I can send the clothing parcels and not be late to work. I decide to let my dog sleep on the bed tonight because I want someone to cuddle. Normally she's not allowed.
Daily Total: $174.65

Day Three

8 a.m. — I wake up, remembering that I need to send those clothes out today, and rush to get ready. I inhale my breakfast of avocado toast and Everything But The Bagel Seasoning from Trader Joe's, gulp down some cranberry juice, and make myself somewhat presentable in 10 minutes. I feed my dog, but skip her walk and feel bad about it after I race out the door.
Advertisement
8:45 a.m. — I drive to the post office and drop off my items in one of the mailboxes since it's not open yet.
9:30 a.m. — Work today is extremely busy. I make thumbnails and sizzle reels and upload them. My job is demanding, but I honestly love it. I'm so lucky to work somewhere I love and do work that I enjoy.
11:30 a.m. — Catered lunch from Shake Shack today!
12:30 p.m. — I'm stuffed from lunch, so I go on a walk break. I talk to my boyfriend since he's in between classes.
2:30 p.m. — All of the videos have finished uploading and my boss is pleased with my work. Friday is always a crazy day, but I'm getting used to it now. The only thing that I don't like about my job is the fact that there aren't many women and I'm underpaid for the average in the area: Most full-time video editors make $60,000 a year, whereas I'm here at $50,000 and don't feel confident enough to ask for a raise. Maybe one day.
5 p.m. — I leave work and go home to deep-clean my apartment. I do this once or twice a week and it really helps with my anxiety.
6 p.m. — I reheat leftover pasta and watch reality television (my vice). I currently use my ex's Netflix account because he signed in on my Apple TV with his account and I've just never changed it. Once he kicks me off (I'm sure he will one day), then I'll purchase my own. Then I chat with my roommate and we make plans to go shopping tomorrow and explore Malibu.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — I take my dog on a walk and she makes friends with a Husky puppy.
8:30 p.m. — I go down to the gym in my apartment complex and use the elliptical trainer for an hour. I listen to music on Spotify, which I actually renew while I'm down there ($9.99). My student email doesn't work anymore and I'm a little annoyed about it. I loved student discounts, lol.
9:30 p.m. — I come back, take a shower, and put on a face mask. Then I check my bank account statement and update my budget before sending a follow-up email to the attorney to let them know I'll be following through with the beginning of the visa process. It's really scary and I feel like an adult, but also like I have no idea what I'm doing.
10:30 p.m. — I purchase dog food from Amazon in bulk and pick no rush shipping so that I get credit to use on a future purchase. It should be delivered late next week. $20.12
10:45 p.m. — My boyfriend calls me and says that he's stressed about finals. Stuff happens, and we're there for each other. We fall asleep talking on the phone. My dog is back in her normal dog bed.
Daily Total: $20.12

Day Four

10 a.m. — I wake up super late and can't believe how much sleep I got! Normally it's much less than this, but I guess my body needed it.
10:30 a.m. — I eat breakfast at home while I get ready to go out with my roommate. We're going to Malibu to meet friends for drinks, but I don't want to be hungry and tempted to waste money on expensive food. I eat cereal and fruit to keep me full.
Advertisement
11:30 a.m. — We drive to Malibu together in my roommate's car. I offered to drive, but she insisted since her car is much nicer.
12:30 p.m. — We meet up with six other friends and all hang out together near this bar at the beach in Malibu. I'm wearing a bikini under a sundress and am ready to get my Vitamin D levels up! I buy two mocktails at the bar since I don't like the taste of alcohol, and I hate how expensive they are. My friends all order food and more drinks, but I keep my bill separate. $16
1:30 p.m. — We hang out on the sand and catch up. It's rare to get so many of us together at once. Free fun at the beach — a frugal favorite!
3:30 p.m. — We drive back home together and I realize I definitely got a little bit sunburnt.
4:45 p.m. — I take a nap and borrow some after sun lotion from my roommate for my shoulders.
7 p.m. — I wake up starving and decide to make a vegetable soup. I'll eat my leftover pasta tomorrow night instead — I hate food waste! I cook up some frozen vegetables in a pan, add coconut milk, and blend it up once it's warmed through.
7:30 p.m. — I eat my dinner while sitting on my bed and watching House Hunters. I'd love to own a home one day, but right now I don't think that's financially going to be an option with my income. In Los Angeles, I'd need to earn a lot more to be a homeowner.
Advertisement
8:30 p.m. — I call my boyfriend and he sends me some code that he's been working on for me to look over. I took some computer science classes in college as well, and sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes. I suggest a few small changes for clarity and he makes the changes before submitting the assignment. I eat chocolate and we decide to watch a movie together. We both pull up the same movie to stream and count down before pressing play at the same time. I fall asleep a little later.
Daily Total: $16

Day Five

9:30 a.m. — I wake up and decide to take my dog to the park. I set up the dog seat covers in my car and then bring her down to the garage.
10 a.m. — We arrive at the dog park and hang out in the shady area. Honestly, my dog prefers to just dig and be outside instead of interacting with other dogs. I often feel guilty about her being in an apartment all day and would love for her to have a yard when I eventually have a house.
11 a.m. — We return home and I feed her, then heat up the leftover pasta for "brunch." I don't mind that it's not breakfast food. I add extra cheese on top before eating it all!
12:30 p.m. — My roommate and I go to the outside mall that's nearby because she needs to pick up an Old Navy order. I drive this time and pay for parking in the lot. $6.50
Advertisement
1 p.m. — My roommate picks up her order and then wants to go to Nordstrom. She tries on shoes and coats and I try on a pair of black pants. I think these will be great for work, so I decide to buy them since they're on clearance. $24.70
4 p.m. — Once we're home, I put in a load of washing and then strip my bed. I replace the sheets and then vacuum because, OMG ... the dog hair is everywhere! I clean the patio and give my dog a bath. Like I said, cleaning calms me down.
6 p.m. — My friends ask me to go out tonight, but I decline. I don't want to have to get all dressed up and pay for Ubers or drinks or anything tonight. I make frozen vegetables, vegetarian nuggets, and garlic bread for dinner. While it's in the oven, I do another load of washing and tidy up my bathroom. I'm proud that I didn't eat out today or really spend a bunch of money on restaurants. That used to be a big part of my budget.
6:30 p.m. — I eat on the couch, my favorite place. I update my budget with upcoming expenses and ask my roommate to share her location with me tonight so I can track her and my friends when they're out clubbing — I worry, lol!
7 p.m. — My Amazon order for the Secret Santa arrived and my roommate hands it to me as she leaves the apartment. I wrap it nicely so it's ready to go.
Advertisement
8 p.m. — I do my last load of laundry and put away most of the other things lying around. I talk to my boyfriend and make a cup of tea. We don't have a kettle, so I have to use the microwave and nearly burn my hand.
9 p.m. — I pack my bag for work tomorrow, then take my dog on a walk. I scroll through Instagram while walking and start to miss a lot of my friends from back home. I'd love to see them again soon, but it's just not in the budget. Plus, when I do go back to get my visa, I'll only be there a day or so.
9:45 p.m. — I do a face mask and shave my legs. I paint my nails and have a little bit of a pamper session. I'm trying to use a lot of my beauty products up — it's something called Project Pan, and I really like the idea of using what I already have. I listen to Ariana Grande on repeat.
10:30 p.m. — I call my parents and then go to sleep.
Daily Total: $31.20

Day Six

8 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for work. I walk my dog, read the news, and leave just in time so that I'm not late for work. I really want a Starbucks hot chocolate, but convince myself not to spend money.
9 a.m. — I arrive at work and have several meetings. Today I'll be on set, taking the memory cards as they come and dumping the footage and organizing it. I like these production days.
Advertisement
1:30 p.m. — We've been filming for hours now and I'm pretty exhausted. I end up helping with lighting and makeup, too.
2 p.m. — We break for lunch and everyone orders pizza, but I go back upstairs to our kitchen and make toast. When I come back down, I receive a Venmo request for the crew food, but then explain that I won't be eating it. Even though it's only $6, that could be $6 to savings or lawyer fees. Sometimes I worry my coworkers think I'm weird or cheap, but I just have different hurdles than they do and need to save.
2:30 p.m. — We're back in filming mode now and I finally get the chance to go through all the footage. I label everything and start to sync the audio and video. I feel more relaxed now that I'm in my element and the work day seems to fly by.
4:30 p.m. — I leave work early, since we wrapped the shoot and there's nothing I can do with the footage until it's transferred onto our big hard drives. I drive by the supermarket and pick up some peanut butter, since I nearly ran out today. I keep it in my handbag so that I don't forget to bring it to work tomorrow. $3.99
5 p.m. — I take my dog on a walk and then hang out on the couch. I pay my car insurance bill, which is so high because I only got my driver's license in the United States a few months ago. It's over $287, and it kills me to pay that much every month, but I will have to pay this amount for a few years until my experience years go up!
Advertisement
6 p.m. — I eat some of the leftover vegetable coconut soup and then also have some vegetarian nuggets. I have chocolate as well while I look online for deals on dog grooming, since my dog will need a visit soon. I can't find a deal and will have to pay full price, which I'm disappointed about, but my dog means the world to me and I want to make sure she's taken care of. I give her a few treats and we watch TV together.
7 p.m. — I go to the downstairs gym for an hour and run on the treadmill. I like the elliptical better, but somebody else is using it.
8:30 p.m. — I've now showered and booked my dog's grooming appointment for tomorrow after work. I also schedule another phone call with the lawyer to go over what paperwork I should start collecting from my family and what I should be communicating with my employer.
9:30 p.m. — I move money from my checking account into my savings account, then pay off the credit card balance I have. I brush my teeth and then go to sleep.
Daily Total: $3.99

Day Seven

8:20 a.m. — I wake up and decide to wear the new pants I bought at Nordstrom on clearance.
9 a.m. — I make it to work just in time. I pay my cell phone bill and internet bill while I set up at my desk and go through emails.
11 a.m. — I forgot to eat breakfast this morning in my rush, so I eat some popcorn, fruit, and cheese from the office kitchen.
Advertisement
1 p.m. — I eat lunch, and it's...you guessed it...toast! I use the new peanut butter that I bought yesterday. Nothing is better than diving into a new jar of creamy goodness, lol! My coworkers go to Panera for lunch, but I stay in because I have several videos that I need to finish editing.
2:30 p.m. — I go for a walk and call my boyfriend. He asks me what I want for Christmas and I request a pair of nice sunglasses. On my walks I'm always squinting, and I'm afraid of getting wrinkles. He tells me what video game he'd like, and I make a mental note to buy it later in the week. We won't be together on the day of, and his family doesn't really celebrate Christmas anyway since he's Muslim, but we still do gifts.
5 p.m. — I finish my work and drive to pick up my dog. I put her in the backseat with the dog cover and drive to Petco for her appointment. She gets her nails clipped and her hair trimmed. She's a happy pup, and everyone loves her. It's less expensive that I thought it would be, and the guy gives me a discount because he says I'm cute and asks for my number. I decline, but he still gives me the discount. God bless, lol. $23.40
6:30 p.m. — I eat a toasted sandwich for dinner with leftover veggies and some hummus that my roommate made for us to share.
Advertisement
7:30 p.m. — We watch Keeping Up with the Kardashians on the couch together before my roommate decides she wants to go out with friends for dinner. I decide to go with them, but I don't order anything other than water. I eat some of the free chips and salsa, while everyone else gets margaritas. I like to go out and be social, but I hate feeling the pressure of having to buy things. So, I always set boundaries with my friends and let them know that I'm not spending.
9 p.m. — We come home, I take a shower, and then I call my boyfriend. He tells me that he has an interview for one of the jobs that I sent him earlier in the week, and they're flying him out for it! I'm super excited that I'll get to see him, so we practice some interview questions while I play fetch with my dog in the hallway.
10:30 p.m. — I brush my teeth and fall asleep reading about immigration laws. I make bookmarks online to read in the morning, and fall asleep reading through all the different visa requirements and success statistics.
Daily Total: $23.40
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women's experiences 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. Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs
Have you been working for at least 8 years and seen your salary increase or fluctuate? If so, fill out this form for a chance to be featured on our Salary Story series!
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series