A Week In San Diego, CA, On A $125,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. Wes're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: a senior relationship manager who makes $125,000 per year. She spends some of her money on Nespresso pods.
Occupation: Senior Relationship Manager
Industry: Real Estate Finance
Age: 29
Location: San Diego, CA
Salary: $125,000 plus commission (should be $60,000 this year)
Paycheck (2x/month): $3,207
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $2,120 — $1,700 mortgage plus $420 HOA. I live with a roommate who pays me $1,000/month, so my cost is $1,120. My mom loaned me $40,000 (interest free) to go toward the $80,000 down payment when I purchased my condo. Since I was able to put down more, was able to reduce the monthly amount. This isn't really a regular monthly cost, but I’m paying her $5,000 soon from a commission check, which will make the balance $35,000.
Student Loans: None. I graduated with about $15,000 in loans that I paid off within two years.
Advertisement
All Other Monthly Expenses
401(k): $1,042 (10% — 4% matched by employer at end of year)
Dental, Medical & Vision: Mostly covered by employer; my share is $180/month pretax.
Car Lease: $299
Car Insurance: I make a lump sum payment every six months, but that breaks down to ~$102/month.
Indexed Universal Life Insurance: $300
Housekeeper: $50 (My roommate also pays $50.)
Gym: $40
Cell Phone: $0 — I have two; my job pays for one and my mom pays for the other. (I know; I'm a mooch.)
Cable & Internet: $148
Gas & Electric: $30 (My HOA covers water and trash.)
iCloud storage: $2.99
Audible: $14.95 — I'm obsessed with audiobooks!
Spotify: $12.99
Amazon Prime: $99/year
The New York Times: $15
Netflix: $9
Hulu: $5.99
HBOGo, Showtime (+ other channels): None, I use mom's account and give her access to my Netflix and Hulu accounts.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Drag myself out of bed because my contractor starts today! I need to move everything out of my bar area since it's being demolished and replaced with new cabinets, marble countertop, and a built-in wine fridge (most excited about this part). The kitchen countertop is also being replaced with marble, and I'm adding tile and trim around my fireplace along with other cosmetic improvements. Make myself a Nespresso with brown sugar and get to work.
8:30 a.m. — Contractor arrives! They set up their equipment while I login to work from home for the day. Decide that I should probably eat something before demolition begins and my kitchen is out of commission. Toast olive bread and top it with fresh Greek feta and fig jam.
Advertisement
9:45 a.m. — My contractor informs me that he wasn't able to find the bar items I picked out in stock at Home Depot, so we go online to order them. I purchase the bar sink and faucet ($159 for both) and the 33 bottle built-in wine fridge ($470) to be delivered to the Home Depot close to my house. On the bright side, this ends up saving me the overhead cost of him buying them for me. $677.75
10:30 a.m. — Decide that I absolutely need to order Halloween costumes for my boyfriend and me today. After texting back and forth, we decide on Morticia and Gomez Addams. I order a cheap pinstripe suit for him and a wig and dress for me. $58.71
2:30 p.m. — Can't make my usual amount of sales calls today with all the noise, but still manage to be productive. I made a big sale last week (biggest one yet!), so I don't feel as guilty having a catch-up day or two. I sneak into the kitchen to grab a snack of pita chips and chipotle bitchin sauce.
5 p.m. — Contractor wraps up, and I get ready to head to church to direct Greek dance. There's a big national competition every year that we're preparing for. I grew up doing it, and it's a huge passion of mine. I direct with my two best friends which makes it even more fun. I stop at Jimbo's on the way to grab a tropikale smoothie and a salad from the salad bar. $14.68
Advertisement
9:30 p.m. — I get home from Greek dance and climb into bed. It's always exhausting working with so many kids! I call the BF and we chat for a while, then I watch Chopped before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $751.14

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Hump day! Climb out of bed and go straight to the Nespresso. Log in to work with coffee in hand. Extremely grateful for my flexible work schedule. Because I'm in a sales role covering the western U.S., I do a lot of traveling usually. On weeks that I don't have any travel scheduled, I try to work from home as much as I can.
10 a.m. — Make myself a twist on a shakshuka for breakfast: pancetta, shallots, mushrooms, red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and basil serve as the poaching sauce for my two eggs. I crumble feta on toward the end and soak it up with more toasted olive bread. Eat at my desk.
11 a.m. — Pack up all my stuff for the next few days. My boyfriend lives in Long Beach, which is about an hour and 20 minutes from my house in north SD but close to my office in the OC. I usually stay with him a couple of times a week, and we spend weekends at my place; this weekend is an exception. He's planning on moving in with me come January, so we're trying to enjoy his city as much as possible.
11:30 a.m. — Brazilian sugaring appointment. I love my sugaring girl; she's hilarious and has lots of stories from a recent trip to Egypt. The service is $48 and I leave an 18% tip. $56.64
Advertisement
1 p.m. — Arrive at my office to work for the afternoon. Meet with my boss who gives me feedback about an investment committee meeting from Monday in which one of my proposed investments was discussed and eventually approved. He encourages me not to get defensive when fielding questions from committee members in the future, and I agree that that's something I need to work on. He's really happy with my performance overall, especially in light of the big signing last week.
5 p.m. — Stop at Trader Joe's on my way to the BF's house to get supplies for the next couple days. I get chicken thighs, whole grain mustard, tomatoes, baby lettuce, shredded carrots, avocados, green onions, cave-aged blue cheese (new item!), bacon, eggs, bananas, blueberries, greek yogurt, lemons, garlic, and a pack of the dark chocolate Quadratini wafers (BF and I are addicted). $50.64
6:30 p.m. — Start marinating the chicken thighs in a honey mustard sauce (whole-grain mustard, spicy deli mustard, honey, salt, pepper, lemon juice) and quickly fry up four pieces of the bacon. Dump most of the bacon fat from the pan and replace with the chicken thighs. Assemble a pseudo-Cobb salad with lettuce, shredded carrots, chopped green onions, tomatoes, avocado, crumbled bacon and blue cheese. Top with the sliced honey mustard chicken and a dressing made from extra honey mustard marinade plus garlic and olive oil. Delish!
7:30 p.m. — Eat dinner together while flipping between the Dodger game and hockey. Bust out the wafers and have a few (or 10) each. One of the best parts of cooking for the BF is that he cleans after! We each shower, relax, and watch South Park before going to sleep.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $107.28

Day Three

7:15 a.m. — BF leaves for work and kisses me goodbye. Guess that's my cue to start getting ready! Get my stuff together since I'm going to the Haim concert at the Greek Theater in L.A. tonight with a friend after work. Grab a banana before I leave the house.
8:15 a.m. — Stop at a gas station to fill up. $48.13
8:30 a.m. — Stop at Starbucks for my usual three shots of espresso with two pumps of classic sweetener over ice. Realize my Starbucks app needs to be reloaded with funds. The coffee is only $3.15 and I reload more. $25
9 a.m. — Arrive at the office and make myself what I have dubbed a “banana snack” – sliced banana with peanut butter, granola, and honey that I keep at my desk.
11:30 a.m. — We have an analyst in town from out of state for training and decide to take her out to lunch as a team. We go to a trendy Italian place near the office, and I get a prosciutto pizza with goat cheese and figs. I eat half and save the other half for tomorrow. There are five of us total, and I charge the $150 to my corporate card. ($150 expensed)
1 p.m. — Book two flights for upcoming business trips, one to Sacramento and the other to Chicago. Excited to make a weekend out of the Chicago trip since I've never been! Book my BF's flights out for Friday with my points. He'll return with me that Sunday via my Southwest Companion pass. Charge my flights to my corporate card, but pay for his flight fees on my personal card. $11.20
Advertisement
3 p.m. — I'm a little worried about L.A. traffic if I stick around too late and decide to head north to my girlfriend's place near Brentwood. She just had her baby and is on maternity leave, and I wanna meet the little guy! I can take calls and finish work while I'm there.
5:30 p.m. — The little guy is so cute! After tea and a relaxing, overdue catch-up sesh with my friend (the baby sleeps for most of it), I make my way to Los Feliz for a quick dinner before the concert.
6:40 p.m. — Meet my friend at a cute bakery called Alcove near the venue. I get a buffalo chicken wrap and she gets a veggie sandwich. We decide to leave one of our cars there and drive over together. I save half of my wrap for my BF to take to work for lunch tomorrow – he'll love it. $16.43
8:30 p.m. — We get to the Greek, park, get two glasses of rosé, and head to our seats! What an intimate venue! My friend pays for parking ($25) and I pay for drinks ($10 each plus $2 tip). $22
11 p.m. — Haim was so amazing! So happy to have made the trek out to Hollywood for the show, and had a great time with my girlfriend. The drive back to Long Beach only takes 35 minutes at this time of night, so I crawl into my BF's bed around midnight and pass TF out.
Advertisement
Daily Total: $122.76

Day Four

7:20 a.m. — BF is in a great mood from the Raiders winning the football game last night, and gives me a blow by blow of the entire game. I'm excited for him (as excited as I can be while half asleep), and even more excited to go to the Ducks game tonight! I decide to work from his place today since I generally avoid the office on Fridays (traffic is usually double), and I know I'll be more productive with the place all to myself.
8 a.m. — Make coffee using a folded paper towel as a filter since I'm out of them. While it brews, I make Greek yogurt topped with sliced banana, blueberries, granola, a dollop of peanut butter, and honey. Get back to work putting together an investment committee package I have to present on Monday.
1:40 p.m. — Heat up the other half of my leftover pizza from yesterday in the toaster oven. I eat the crusts with cave-aged blue cheese with balsamic on top. I don't feel guilty; this cheese is orgasmic.
4 p.m. — BF gets home, so I stop working for the day/week. We lay around (wink wink) and slowly get ready for the Ducks game!
6:40 p.m. — Arrive at Honda Center. Parking is $20. I pay since BF drove (and I always have cash and he never does). $20
6:55 p.m. — We get provisions before heading to our seats: three IPAs (two for BF, one for me), jalapeño cheddar popcorn, and peanuts. BF pays the $56 (ridiculously overpriced, I know).
Advertisement
8 p.m. — We decide to go to the team store between periods since I want a new beanie and BF wants a new hat. We pick ones we like, and I decide to pay because I'm the best girlfriend ever. $78.64
9 p.m. — More beers! BF pays the $28 for two (one and a half for him, a half for me since I'm driving us home).
10:30 p.m. — Ducks beat the Habs 6-2! What a game! Since the Ducks scored more than five goals, the whole crowd gets free Chick-Fil-A. We decide to cash in and go to the one by his house on the way home.
11:15 p.m. — Chick-fil-A is closed; epic fail. Good thing In-N-Out is across the street. I pay for my cheeseburger and his 3 x 3 plus Animal Style fries for both of us. We feast at home, and again, pass out. $17.09
Daily Total: $115.73

Day Five

9 a.m. — We get up relatively early for a Saturday since I have to run a Greek dance errand in downtown L.A. (yes, there are Greek dance errands – mostly costume related). We decide to go to a new Greek restaurant after, called Good Greek Grill, that friends of ours opened in Hollywood. It is supposed to have the most authentic gyro in SoCal. We went to Greece together this summer and have food withdrawal, so we're happy to make the journey.
11:30 a.m. — OMG these gyros and freddo espressos hit the spot. One of the owners is there and gives us free baklava bites covered in Nutella to try. These are life-changing, and I die and go to heaven. I decide to pay since I dragged BF with me to the Greek dance errand earlier (and also because again, I am the best girlfriend ever). $29.83
Advertisement
1 p.m. — We look for something else to do in Hollywood while we're up there, and discover that the Museum of Death is down the street from us. What could be better for a Saturday in October? We head over and BF pays for our $30 admission ($15 each).
2 p.m. — Holy shit that was creepy. I highly recommend the museum to anyone who is fascinated with serial killers and wants to see actual crime scene photos (so intense!). We both leave in kind of a weird mood and start heading to Long Beach. On our way, BF takes me to see the mansions in Bixby Knolls, an upscale historic Long Beach neighborhood. I fall in love with all the houses immediately; it is my dream to rehab a historic house one day! BF is happy about my over-the-top reactions to all the homes. Imaginary house shopping is the best.
4 p.m. — We get home, relax, and start looking for things to do tonight. We were planning on going to the Queen Mary (haunted ship docked in the Port of Long Beach), but tickets are sold out. Instead, we rally the troops and plan on going to the Oktoberfest in Anaheim.
7:30 p.m. — I start getting hungry, so I make avocado toast with chopped tomatoes, the cave-aged blue cheese (yes, again), and balsamic. BF always encourages me to snack, otherwise I get hangry.
8:45 p.m. — Arrive at Oktoberfest with my BF's best friend, his new chick, and my BF's cousin in tow. We also meet up with a couple of other friends there. It's $10 entry per person, and you need to purchase tickets for food and drink. Since its cash only (and you guessed it, I have cash), I cover mine and BFs entry along with $60 worth of tickets (comes out to about $8 per beer for five beers plus a $14 chicken schnitzel dish and a $4 pretzel). I won't ask him to pay me back – he'll just cover the cost of our next activity. If you can't already tell, we have a pretty informal cost-splitting arrangement. $80
Advertisement
12:30 a.m. — Head home from the festivities. Such a wild crowd! Really funny people watching. We have to pull over on the way home for my BF's best friend's new girl to throw up (eye roll). Then we drop off my BF's cousin. The couple stays the night on the couch, and we hit the sack around 1:15.
Daily Total: $109.83

Day Six

10 a.m. — I'm feeling tired today, but need to head to SD to teach Greek dance at 12:30. Pack up my stuff, kiss BF goodbye, and hit the road.
12 p.m. — Arrive in SD with time to spare to grab Starbucks! I get my usual three shots of espresso with two pumps of classic over ice, a turkey sandwich protein box thing, and salt and vinegar chips. Comes out to just over $10 but pay with my app.
4:30 p.m. — Arrive at home to see all the improvements the contractor made last week! Getting so excited. Slowly unpack and get settled while listening to My Favorite Murder.
7 p.m. — Go to my fridge to scope out what I can make tonight. Take shrimp out of the freezer to defrost under warm water, and decide to roast the broccoli I have since it's about to go bad. Season it generously and put into a 435-degree oven for 20 minutes (According to Yotam Ottolenghi, 435 is the perfect temperature to roast vegetables.). Drizzle with balsamic when it's almost done to caramelize it. Turn oven off and broiler on. Broil the shrimp (three minutes on each side) after tossing with garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and chopped fresh tomatoes. Put shrimp on top of roasted broccoli with crumbled fresh Greek feta.
Advertisement
8 p.m. — Netflix, shower, and brightening face mask before bed. End up getting hooked on the new show Mindhunter and stay up later than I wanted to. Finally go to sleep around 11:30 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — WHY do we have 8 a.m. department meetings Monday mornings?? And on top of it, I have to present to investment committee at 9. Drag myself out of bed and find the energy to straighten my hair (since sleeping on wet hair never results in a good morning look for me). Make a double Nespresso for the road and head to work.
8:10 a.m. — Arrive at the office having already participated in the first 10 minutes of the department meeting over the phone. Oops.
9:30 a.m. — Investment committee meeting went well! Make myself an avocado “toast” using the whole grain crispbread from Trader Joes as a base (really good bread alternative).
12 p.m. — Decide to use my lunch break to finally go to the Nespresso boutique near work to stock up. I generally go every four months or so to refill my pods. I also finally turn in my bag of used pods for recycling that have been in the back of my car for weeks! $88.20
12:30 p.m. — Pick up a poke bowl on my way back to the office. $10.19
4:30 p.m. — Leave the office and get gas on my way home. $48.06
5:30 p.m. — Get home and fully intend on going to the gym, but start getting a headache and can't bring myself to do it. Run to CVS to pick up my birth control (covered by my insurance).
Advertisement
6:30 p.m. — Go to Trader Joe's to pick up groceries for the week. I restock on coconut oil, coconut milk, Spanish deli meats, tomatoes, feta (they are out of the fresh Greek feta in brine so the regular kind will have to do; so sad), black pepper Toscano cheese, pre-grated parmesan, cauliflower, haricot vert, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and carrots. I also grab a bottle of sherry to try since it looks like TJ's doesn't sell my favorite dessert wine anymore. $47.29
7:30 p.m. — Make pasta to mix in with my broccoli and shrimp creation from last night. Eat this in my bed while watching more Mindhunter.
9 p.m. — FaceTime the boyfriend who tells me to go to sleep. I listen and pass out immediately. Such a long week!
Daily Total: $193.74
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 a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following themes:
1. Holiday Spending: We want to know how diarists are prepping for the holiday season, one of the most expensive times from year. Paying for last-minute travel and accommodations? Gifts for family and friends? Let us know here.
Advertisement
2. Your Spending In Your State: Starting in January, we want to run one Money Diary per day, every day, from each state. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
Student loans suck, plain and simple. We want to hear about yours! How much student loan debt do you have, how are you paying them off, and how do they make you feel? Let us know here, and your answer might be featured on Refinery29!
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

Watch

R29 Original Series