A Week In Washington, D.C., On A $65,000 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 media-relations manager who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a bottle of Lambrusco.
Occupation: Media-Relations Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 26
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $65,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,816
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $750 for my room in a three-bedroom row house I share with my sister and one other roommate
Loans: $0 (Undergraduate tuition was covered by my mom's employee benefits.)
403(b) Retirement Account: $325 (6% of paycheck pre-tax; my employer matches 3%)
Roth IRA: $50
Health & Dental Insurance: $160 (pre-tax)
Internet, Electricity & Gas: $50-100 (depending on time of year)
Cell phone + Apple Care: $58
Metro Pass: $60 (pre-tax; my employer contributes an additional $40)
Fitness: $200 for an unlimited Orangetheory membership
Donations: $50 to Planned Parenthood
Amazon Prime/Netflix/Hulu/HBO Go: $0 (I use my dad's/sister's accounts.)
Savings: Whatever is left over at the end of the month (usually ~$500-750, which I split between my emergency medical fund, travel savings, and my investments, which I will eventually use to fund grad school.)
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Day One

3:08 a.m. — I wake up to a low blood-sugar alarm blaring from my phone — ugh. Happy Friday! I grab the Capri Sun I keep on my bedside table for this very reason and chug it down in three gulps. Juice is my nighttime treatment of choice, because it's easy to drink while half asleep, especially compared to Starbursts, which take forever to get down. I lie in bed waiting for my blood sugar to come back up and eventually fall back asleep 40 minutes later. This is definitely one of the worst parts of Type 1 diabetes!
6:58 a.m. — My sleep tracker app's alarm wakes me up. I have one of the ones that tracks when you're in deep sleep and wakes me up when I'm in a lighter sleep cycle. Normally the alarm goes off right at 6:30, the very beginning of the 30-minute window, so I'm guessing my body is more tired than usual thanks to that late-night low. I roll out of bed and head downstairs to boil water for the French press and get started on some work emails.
7:40 a.m. — I hit a stopping point and grab my coffee from downstairs, along with two hard-boiled eggs. I eat the same thing for breakfast almost every day, because I find starting my day with a low-carb/high-protein meal helps with “dawn phenomenon” (morning insulin resistance). I try to have some variety by trying out different things with my coffee routine. Lately I've been trying a spoonful of coconut oil/ghee mixed in with my standard dash of half-and-half and sugar-free sweetener, at the recommendation of a work friend who's on a keto diet. It's supposed to keep me full longer, but I haven't noticed a change there. The extra fat has actually helped stabilize my blood sugars, though, so I'm willing to give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.
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8:12 a.m. — I eat a quick snack, then refill my water bottle and walk to Orangetheory. I'm lucky to have a pretty flexible work schedule, so I can start later if I want to work out in the morning. The studio is about a 15-minute walk from my house, which is part of the reason I justify the exorbitant $200 monthly cost. I find that having an expensive unlimited membership motivates me to actually go to the classes four or five times a week, so for now the investment is worth it!
9:30 a.m. — I get out of class, and I'm shaking! HIIT workouts do weird things for my blood sugars. If I start with strength training, they tend to go up, and when I start with cardio, they go down. Today was a pretty cardio-heavy rotation, but they stayed pretty stable, thank goodness. I quickly shower (no hair washing today because I'm on that #CurlyGirl life), get dressed, throw on some makeup (Bare Minerals tinted SPF moisturizer, Kat Von D powder, mascara, tinted lip balm), and jump on the Metro toward work. I swipe my prepaid Metro card and knock out some more emails on my 30-minute ride. I also place a mobile Starbucks order for a sugar-free vanilla iced coffee with a splash of half-and-half, because I still have some money in my account from a birthday gift card, and also #friyay. I pick it up on my way into the office.
12:45 p.m. — My blood sugar starts to drop, so I eat my SunButter Cup to get it back up. I also eat my salad and take some insulin. I spend some time applying for jobs while I eat. My long-distance boyfriend, D., is finishing up his master's degree and will be moving from NYC to Seattle next week for a job. I'm hoping to join him out there in a few months! I quickly update my budget tracker (an Excel sheet) before getting back to work.
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5:05 p.m. — I was hoping to leave at a normal hour tonight, but when I get back to my desk, I have another fire to deal with. Sigh. My blood sugar is dropping again, so I eat my orange while I take a call from my manager, who's currently traveling, and finally pack up.
6:15 p.m. — On my way out of the office, I stop by the floor below us to chat with my work husband. He's already left for the night, so I grab a consolation mini Milky Way from someone's candy bowl and then peace out.
6:35 p.m. — On the walk to the Metro, I make an impulse decision to pop into a wine shop. They're having a tasting of five natural wines. They're pretty good, and I like a good skin-contact wine but ultimately opt for a bottle of Lambrusco. Gotta love a sparkling red. $28.61
7:05 p.m. — Home, at last! And looking forward to a quiet night. My biweekly Imperfect Produce delivery has arrived, so I bring that inside. This week I got two bunches of kale, two heads of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, four yellow potatoes, two cucumbers, and four apples. The charge is different for each delivery, depending on what I order, but it usually falls somewhere between $15-25. After putting away my produce, I pour a glass of red wine left over from earlier this week and change into PJs. I put on this week's episode of Handmaid's Tale. $20.12
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7:45 p.m. — My blood sugar is dropping again. It doesn't always go low this often, but this is my second day in a row of higher cardio Orangetheory classes. I heat up some leftover roasted broccoli along with some spicy North African stew that D. made for me when he last visited that I find in the freezer. He's an excellent chef, and I am truly #blessed. I'm hoping the stew will have enough carbs to get my blood sugar back up, because I'm feeling lazy and don't want to go upstairs and get a juice out of my room.
8:23 p.m. — My sister/roommate, K., is done cooking her dinner and joins me on the couch for an episode of Insecure. I have another glass of wine, she lets me try the pizza she made, and then we spend some time reading together. For the past few months, I've been working my way through a collection of presidential biographies my dad gifted me. My current read is Hamilton, and though it's long, I am FIXATED.
10:15 p.m. — I get ready for bed (brush my teeth, wash my face, moisturize, multivitamin) and read a couple more chapters of Hamilton while texting D. I am HERE for this early night in!
Daily Total: $48.73

Day Two

7:48 a.m. — Alarm goes off. Once or twice a month, I volunteer at an organization that cooks and delivers medically tailored meals to low-income D.C. and Virginia residents with chronic diseases, so I'm up a bit early for a Saturday. I head downstairs to start up the French press.
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8:15 a.m. — I fry two eggs and top them with Everything but the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe's. I drink my coffee while reading another chapter of Hamilton, and then walk over to the Metro.
11:45 a.m. — There are lots of volunteer groups this morning, so we finish early. I snack on two of the doughnut holes they keep in the kitchen for volunteers on my way out, and also grab one of the leftover cake slices to save for later.
12:40 p.m. — I pop into REI to check out the garage sale, but manage to fight my urges and leave empty-handed. I reward myself for that brief moment of impulse control by walking over to a local Italian grocery and ordering an Italian sub to go. I'm tempted to grab chips, but this is already more carbs than I would normally aim to have in a meal (RIP, my love for bread). That logic doesn't prevent me from grabbing a mini cannoli, though, which I eat immediately. My sweet tooth cannot be contained. $6.53
1:05 p.m. — On my walk home, I stop by the grocery store near my house and grab a whole chicken, plain and vanilla Siggi's yogurt, and conditioner. $14.78
1:35 p.m. — I also stop by a tiny craft beer shop on my way home that happens to be doing a tasting of my favorite locally distilled spirits — score! I do the tasting but refrain from adding to my ever-growing local spirits collection. Instead I grab some rosé ciders that seem appropriate, given today's hot weather. $14.06
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2:33 p.m. — I get home and eat my sandwich and some of the leftover cake while watching Netflix in my room. We hire a house cleaner to come every few months or so, since our house is quite old and needs a bit more love than we're able to give it. For the incredibly low rent we pay and the amazing location, it's definitely worth it. I Venmo K. $30, since she organized this cleaning, and give her $10 in cash toward the tip. $40
5:16 p.m. — K. and I notice a pretty great deal on flights to Saint Lucia. We've got a scuba trip planned with our dad over Christmas and decide to take the plunge and book our tickets before prices rise. The round-trip flight from D.C. ends up being almost $600, and my wallet hurts. $595.13
6:43 p.m. — I get ready for the night by putting on my usual makeup, plus some fun lip color (Lolita by Kat Von D). I take the Metro and bus (an hour altogether) to get to a friend's house party out in Virginia. After my flight purchase, I just can't stomach spending money on a Lyft...but on the plus side, I get some quality Hamilton time in.
8:05 p.m. — At the party, I drink two White Claws and snack on tortilla chips, carrots and hummus, and crackers. I take a total stab in the dark on how many carbs I'm eating and end up chasing a high blood sugar all night. Whoops.
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10:15 p.m. — I head home on the bus/Metro and read some more Hamilton before getting ready for bed and crashing around 11.
Daily Total: $670.50

Day Three

8:44 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm this morning. I miss the days when I could sleep in until noon! I head downstairs and make coffee and two fried eggs topped with garlic powder and red pepper flakes. I also fill and chug my water bottle. Luckily, my blood sugars stabilized overnight, and I wake up in a good place — a very rare occurrence after a night of party snacking.
9:06 a.m. — I get a jump start on meal prepping for the week by throwing a dozen eggs in the Instant Pot to hard-boil. After my eggs are done, I season and throw the chicken into my Instant Pot. I love making entire chickens in the IP because it's done in less than an hour, makes enough chicken for me to freeze some and use in meals for weeks to come, and here's the kicker: a full chicken is cheaper at the grocery store than two chicken breasts! I also chop and roast the Brussels sprouts.
10:59 a.m. — I get dressed and walk to Orangetheory for an 11:15 class. My blood sugar is trending downward, which makes me nervous, so I eat two Starbursts on the way to class. Still trending down when I get there, so I eat two more.
12:25 p.m. — After class I walk through my local flea and farmer's market. I snag a black sundress for $15 ($15.90 with tax). I very rarely buy new clothes, but my favorite sundress is terrifyingly close to falling apart from overuse, so I consider this a lucky find ($15.90). I also buy some amazing-looking local nectarines and blueberries. I pay in cash ($7). $22.90
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1:23 p.m. — Back home, I put away the chicken and throw the bones back in the IP, along with vegetable scraps I've been keeping in my freezer. I add some fresh rosemary from K.'s herb garden and a few cups of water and start it on high pressure. The ability to make fresh chicken stock in a fraction of the time is a game changer for sure (I promise this is not an Instant Pot–sponsored post. I'm just a lazy cook and will go to extraordinary lengths to reduce my cooking and cleaning time!). While that's cooking, I make salads for next week's lunches.
2:46 p.m. — I shower and wash my hair, get dressed, and throw on a little tinted SPF moisturizer. My blood sugar is going low again, so I eat some Starbursts. K. and I bike to the local indie movie theater to see Farewell. She has a bikeshare account, so she gets me a bike. I buy a movie ticket ($12.50), a small popcorn, and a Diet Coke ($12). $24.50
5:50 p.m. — That movie was sad but so good! Highly recommend. We bike home, and my blood sugar drops on the way. I eat Starbursts when I get home to get it back up. K. made a batch of peach zucchini muffins earlier, so I have one of those, too. For dinner I heat up some of the chicken from this morning, along with some stew and sautéed kale. I put away my stock — this batch will last me weeks in the freezer, and I'm already thinking about recipes I can make with it next weekend.
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9:09 p.m. — I spend some time in the living room reading with K. before heading upstairs to get ready for bed. I get into bed and open up my laptop to handle a few work emails (Sunday Scaries are real) before passing out around 11:30.
Daily Total: $47.40

Day Four

6:21 a.m. — Up before my alarm this morning. I spend some time scrolling through Instagram on my phone before getting up and starting coffee. I make enough to bring a Thermos with me to work. I knock out some more work from bed. Eventually I go back downstairs to eat my two hard-boiled eggs.
8:12 a.m. — I finish up my last email, get dressed, grab my snacks and lunch, and head to Orangetheory.
9 a.m. — Halfway through my class, my blood sugar is plummeting — yikes. I eat the nectarine I brought for a snack today and manage to stave off a dangerous low, and still finish out the class. Success!
10:20 a.m. — I shower quickly and apply makeup before taking a work call on my way to the Metro. I'm weirdly hungry this morning, so I eat my Babybel cheese on the train. I get off one stop early to call my best friend and get in some extra steps. She lives in the U.K. now, so I try to call her on my way into work once a week. I sip on my Thermos of coffee while I walk and congratulate myself for not getting seduced by the three (!) Starbucks locations I pass on my way to the office.
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12:58 p.m. — Busy morning! Before I know it, my stomach is grumbling. I eat my salad at my desk.
4:30 p.m. — Today flew by! I got a lot done, so I don't feel too guilty for sneaking out early to meet K. and a friend for happy hour. We meet at an Italian bar and restaurant all the way on the other side of the city, but it's worth the trek because this place does a $25 unlimited shared plates and drinks happy hour from 5-7 p.m. I have a Negroni, a French 75, and an Old Fashioned, and we share Brussels sprouts, prosciutto, onion zeppole, and meatballs. So good, but I definitely underestimated the amount of carbs I've consumed, and my blood sugar skyrockets. Whoops. $33.50
7:37 p.m. — K. gets her bike, and I take a Lyft scooter home ($6.31). On the way, my drunk self succumbs to a vice left over from my college days and buys a pack of cigarettes. I smoke one and remember why I don't smoke anymore. When I get home, I throw the pack away. Why am I like this? Sigh ($12.42). $18.73
9 p.m. — I overcorrected for the high blood sugar earlier, and now I'm going low. Ugh. I'm so full I can't stomach the thought of eating Starbursts, so I choke down a Capri Sun instead. I get ready for bed and read too many chapters of Hamilton. I end up finishing the book before crashing around 11:20.
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Daily Total: $52.23

Day Five

6:36 a.m. — Alarm goes off. Nope. Snooze.
6:42 a.m. — Okay, up for real now. I head downstairs to start coffee and begin on some work emails. Not sure if I'm a little hungover or just extra tired, but hopefully the coffee will fix me either way. Miraculously, my blood sugars stayed pretty stable overnight, so at least I know this headache isn't from that.
7:38 a.m. — I eat my hard-boiled eggs and pack two more to take for lunch. I've been experimenting with 5:2 intermittent fasting to see how it impacts my insulin sensitivity and blood-sugar control, and today is a fasting day. I normally try to have a slightly more balanced diet on fasting days, but I'm too tired to actually make something for lunch. I take a few minutes to sip my coffee and start my next book: The Path to Power, Robert Caro's biography of LBJ. As a native Texan, I'm really excited for this one.
8:12 a.m. — Orangetheory time. I pray to the fitness gods that I'm able to run off this hangover/exhaustion.
9:27 a.m. — I have a meeting at 10 that I need to call in to, so I skip the stretching portion of class and hop in the shower. No time for makeup, so I apply tinted SPF moisturizer and mascara on the train. I order a grande sugar-free vanilla iced coffee via my prepaid Starbucks app, which I grab on my way into the office.
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10:35 a.m. — In between meetings, I check out our HR team's fundraising bake sale and buy a homemade brownie, cupcake, and slice of flan for $8 in cash. I'm telling y'all, my sweet tooth is out. of. control. I'll save them for tomorrow, when I'm not fasting...hopefully. $8
12:03 p.m. — I eat my hard-boiled eggs at my desk. This is somehow sadder than my usual sad desk salad.
4:45 p.m. — Where did the afternoon go? My blood sugar is dropping, so I eat half the cupcake in between meetings.
6 p.m. — I hit a breaking point at work and pack up. The cupcake clearly had more sugar than I realized, because my blood sugar is skyrocketing. I take some insulin and hope it comes down quickly.
6:50 p.m. — I call my mom on the walk from the Metro station to my house. I'm very close with both of my parents and try to call them each once a week or so. We chat about what we'll do when she visits in a couple weeks (K. and I bought her tickets for Mother's Day). I overcorrected my high blood sugar, sigh, because now it is plummeting. I walk quickly, hoping to make it home before it gets too low and I start feeling shaky.
7:25 p.m. — At home I scarf down one of K.'s muffins to get my blood sugar back up. For dinner I have cucumber slices with ranch and a dill pickle. I also eat the flan I bought today. So much for saving my treats!
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8:04 p.m. — I join K. and our other roommate on the couch to watch the presidential debate. We're all supporting different candidates, so it makes for a fun watch party. I have a glass of the leftover Lambrusco.
10:36 p.m. — Time for bed. I quickly run through my nighttime routine and read a couple chapters of my LBJ biography before crashing around 11:30.
Daily Total: $8

Day Six

6:47 a.m. — Up a few minutes before my alarm today. I scroll through Instagram a bit before getting up to start coffee and work emails. I make enough coffee to bring some with me and hope it prevents me from spending money at Starbucks.
8:02 a.m. — I eat my hard-boiled eggs, pack my lunch and snacks for today, and get dressed for Orangetheory. I send my last email and head out.
9:37 a.m. — Orangetheory left my core shaking today — the sign of a good class. I quickly shower, get dressed, apply makeup, and head to the train. For absolutely no discernible reason, my blood sugar has gone from a perfect level to rising rapidly. Could it be stress? Lack of sleep? Am I getting sick? The world may never know. Whatever the reason, I will have to wait until it comes back down to start drinking my second coffee. Diabetes is a fickle mistress.
10:25 a.m. — I get off the train a stop early again and call D. We've been long-distance for the better part of our two-year relationship and text throughout the day most days, but I still like chatting on the phone with him when we can. We discuss his thesis, which he's wrapping up now, and whether it will be in a good enough place for me to come visit this weekend. Here's hoping these extra steps help my blood sugar come down.
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11 a.m. — I overcorrected, per usual. I get to my desk and eat my brownie from yesterday to get my blood sugar back up.
11:43 a.m. — It's payday! I spend a few minutes updating my budget and pay off my credit card balance. Each month, I put virtually all of my purchases on it for the cash-back rewards and try to pay it off in full. It's been an extra spendy few months with lots of travel, so I haven't been able to put as much into my savings as I'd like, but I'm expecting those expenses to taper off in the fall. I start to get hungry and eat my Babybel cheese and drink my extra coffee at my desk.
1:40 p.m. — I lock myself in a conference room to focus on a project. I eat my salad for lunch, and then I eat a nectarine and part of a brownie someone left in our office kitchen to satiate my sweet tooth.
5:45 p.m. — My brain is fried, so I pack up my things and head out for the day. I call my dad on the walk home from the Metro, and we chat about logistics for our upcoming Saint Lucia trip.
7:46 p.m. — I heat up some more chicken and leftover stew and eat it over kale. I also have a cider while K. and I watch pre-debate coverage on the couch. My sweet tooth strikes again, so I make a bowl of Siggi's vanilla yogurt, blueberries, almond slices, and chocolate almond butter. I save half to bring to work tomorrow as a snack.
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10:15 p.m. — I give up on the debate a bit early and get ready for bed. I read until I fall asleep around 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:40 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I spend a few minutes on Instagram in bed before heading downstairs to start coffee and tackle some work emails.
8:00 a.m. — I break from work to eat my hard-boiled eggs and pack my lunch and snacks for today. After sending a few more emails, I close my laptop, get dressed, and head to Orangetheory.
9:58 a.m. — My post-class shower takes longer than usual, because today's a hair-wash day. I scramble to throw on clothes and makeup and rush for the train.
10:35 a.m. — No time to get off early for extra steps, so I go to the Metro stop nearest my office. I order a grande sugar-free vanilla iced coffee via the Starbucks mobile app as a reward for setting a new personal record at Orangetheory this morning. $3.13
11:22 a.m. — I'm getting hangry, so I eat my Babybel cheese. I text an old coworker to see if she wants to grab a drink tonight after work, and we make plans to meet.
2:51 p.m. — My sweet tooth makes itself known, and I eat my leftover yogurt bowl. In between meetings I eat my nectarine and a fun-size Milky Way I take from a work friend's candy bowl.
5:17 p.m. — I snag a lollipop out of someone else's candy bowl. Yes, I know I have a problem. No, eating sugar did not cause my diabetes. Predictably, my blood sugar begins to rise.
6:04 p.m. — I hit a stopping point, finally. I pack up and head to the Metro.
7:10 p.m. — I beat my friend to our favorite local gin bar. This place is truly a hidden gem, with an extensive gin collection, knowledgeable staff, and phenomenal cocktails, and it's a bit off the beaten track (read: looks like a dive bar from the outside). Just how I like it. I order one of their seasonal cocktails, which has gin and house-made crème de mure over crushed ice. When my friend arrives, we split some popcorn they make in one of those old-school movie theater machines. She orders a seasonal cocktail, and we both get a French 75 for our second round. We split the bill, and I tip 20%. $32.74
10:02 p.m. — I walk home, and my blood sugar is dropping rapidly between the walk and overcorrecting my earlier high. I eat three Starbursts and a leftover muffin to get it back up. Dinner of champions over here!
10:25 p.m. — I watch the new episode of Handmaid's Tale and text D. for a bit before getting ready for bed and falling asleep around 11:30. One more work day before the weekend!
Daily Total: $35.87
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