A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $65,400 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: an IT professional who makes $65,400 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on Aesop roller perfume.
Occupation: IT Professional
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 31
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $65,400. (My husband and I keep our finances separate, but we do have one joint savings account.)
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,997, after taxes, health insurance, retirement contribution, and transportation.
Monthly Expenses
Rent: I pay $1,225 and my husband pays $750. (We live in a two-bedroom apartment and split rent proportional to income.)
Student Loan Payments: $0. (I had scholarships that covered my tuition.)
Health Insurance: $45
Transportation: $25 for a monthly bus pass
Car Insurance: $80
Utilities: $150
Hulu, Netflix & HBO: $0. (My husband pays for these.)
Internet: $0. (My husband pays.)
Phone: $0. (I'm on my family's plan.)
Roth IRA: $478
Long-Term Savings: $1,120. (My husband and I both contribute to this.)
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Additional Expenses
Therapy: $11.20/week

Day One

6 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I'm up. Brush my teeth, throw on sweats, and immediately take the dog for a walk. I walk my dog for 30 minutes every morning, which is a great way to start the day. She's a 40-pound rescue mutt and the vet estimates she's around six or seven years old.
6:30 a.m. — Get home and get ready for work. For my morning skincare routine, I use Cetaphil cleanser followed by Paula's Choice liquid BHA and then sunscreen. I try to make breakfast most days, but today I'm just not hungry today, so I throw leftovers in a bag to eat at work. I also drink a ton of water and take vitamins in the morning. Right now I'm taking vitamin D, vitamin C, N-acetyl cysteine, and BioSil, plus B complex whenever I eat. When I'm ready for work, I give the dog a Kong filled with pumpkin and tell her to kennel up. Then I walk to the co-op and buy a kale Caesar salad and a passionfruit LaCroix for lunch later ($5.24). (I buy all my groceries at a food cooperative.) I stop next door and buy a double bone-dry cappuccino from Starbucks ($4.35) before catching the bus to work. $9.59
9 a.m. — Eat Thai leftovers for breakfast and take my B complex. A coworker gets in about an hour after me and since it's a slow morning, we decide to do a coffee run. He treats me to another cappuccino. (I'm addicted.)
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3 p.m. — I leave a little early. I always answer emails in the evening (both faculty and students expect it), so to balance things out, I try not to stay in the office very late. I stop by the co-op for groceries and buy coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp, curry paste, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, ginger, garlic, onion, red pepper, oranges, and a grapefruit. $51.33
5 p.m. — Wanted to go for a run, but it's raining super hard and I'm starting to catch a cold from my husband, J.*, so I just get into bed. He does the evening dog care shift and comes home soaking wet. Neither of us feels like cooking, so J. goes out to pick up a pizza — and he brings home candy to entice me out of bed.
Daily Total: $60.92

Day Two

5 a.m. — Husband's alarm goes off. I wake up and chat with him a bit. Decide to go to work late because I feel sick. It evens out because I have to stay late at work today anyway. I email my coworkers, say goodbye to my husband, and go back to bed.
8:30 a.m. — I rouse myself and walk the dog. Then I make myself avocado toast with an egg on top and orange slices for breakfast. I also take my vitamins. My vitamin D levels are always really low due to the Seattle climate. Watch an episode of The Good Place while eating breakfast.
10 a.m. — Realize the sun is shining, so I walk to Starbucks and buy a cappuccino before catching the bus to work. $4.35
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12:30 p.m. — I grab a sesame seed bagel with strawberry cream cheese for lunch and start to feel a little better. I also refill my water bottle. $4.26
6 p.m. — Catch the bus and head home. I was supposed to start a new dance class tonight but I just don't have the energy. On my way home, I pick up hot food from the co-op deli for dinner: rice, steamed veggies, sautéed greens, butter chicken, and mac and cheese. I also grab a can of passionfruit LaCroix. J. and I eat dinner together while watching The Bachelor. Then I take a shower and go to bed. $22.35
Daily Total: $30.96

Day Three

5 a.m. — Alarm goes off because I have to be at work early today. I make breakfast to-go, take my vitamins, and get dressed for work while J. takes out the dog and feeds her. When I'm ready, I take her out for a 30-minute walk, scramble to get all my things together and run to catch the bus.
7:30 a.m. — Work, work, work. My job is always changing and the needs vary from person to person, so it's definitely never boring, although sometimes it is stressful. I eventually take a break from working to eat oatmeal with frozen blueberries, honey, chia seeds, and smashed pecans that I brought from home. I also get a drip coffee. (It's cheaper and sometimes just cozier than a cappuccino.) $2.15
11 a.m. — I eat lunch early today (leftovers from last night) because it's just an early kind of day. After I. finish, I decide to take a walk through my building because it's still cold and rainy outside. I'm feeling much better, so perhaps I've successfully warded off a cold!
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3:30 p.m. — Head out of the office to my therapy appointment and realize I am starving. I'm early, so I grab a slice of pizza from across the street ($3.58). I've been seeing my therapist once a week for over a year. She's in my health insurance network, so I pay $11.20 for each visit, and she bills me at the end of each month. If she didn't take my health insurance or if my insurance didn't cover mental health, each visit would cost $170, so I feel incredibly fortunate. I wish there were fewer access barriers to good care in this country. My therapist gives me a bill for the past few sessions and I put it in my purse to look at later. $3.58
5 p.m. — Miss the bus home and decide to walk, since it's still kind of light out (yay!) and not raining (double yay!). Walking is my main source of exercise and a great way to meditate. Because I live in Seattle, every walk involves a sizable hill. When I get home, J. has cleaned the kitchen and I decide to finally make the shrimp soup curry I've been wanting to try. (I bought the ingredients a few days ago.) The recipe method is weird: it's soup, but I'm supposed to steam the broccoli separately and mix the coconut milk with chicken stock in a different bowl. I ignore the instructions and put everything into a soup pot like I normally would. It ends up being delicious! Husband and I eat dinner together and catch up on our days.
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9 p.m. — Jump in the shower and go to bed. J. is still recovering from his cold, although he sounds way better than he did a few days ago.
Daily Total: $5.73

Day Four

5 a.m. — Husband's alarm goes off and no one is excited about getting up. I feel the dog burrow deeper into my leg. They groggily get up for their morning routine and I immediately fall back asleep until 6.
6 a.m. — Get up, walk dog. We meet a puppy on our walk and are both stoked. My dog absolutely loves other dogs – puppies in particular. She was chained up in a backyard for the first five years of her life and had multiple litters of puppies without getting the care she needed. When we got her, she had broken teeth (from chewing on a chain), long claws (from never getting nail trims), a fear of men, and horrendous leash behavior. We walk her so much, regardless of weather, because it gives her consistency and gives us all a chance to practice leash-walking. She has come a long way since we got her two years ago. She sits patiently and quietly when she first sees a dog and I can see her using all her little willpower to be good so she can say hello. If you'd told me two years ago that she would learn how to do this, I would have never believed it.
6:30 a.m. — Get home and do my morning routine. While I put lunch together, I remember that I have lunch plans today with a friend I used to work with at my previous job. This means I don't have to lug a giant bag of Tupperware on the bus!
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8 a.m. — It's a gorgeous morning (read: light outside and raining slightly, Seattle's version of 80 degrees and sunny), so I walk to Starbucks and get the egg-white bites and a bone-dry cappuccino. My philosophy about money is that if I'm hitting my savings goal and paying my bills and rent responsibly, I can spend the rest of my paycheck on whatever I want. $8.48
11:30 a.m. — Walk to meet up with friends from my old job. It's great to catch up with them and hear updates on the department and their personal lives. We meet for cheap conveyor belt sushi with student prices. Walk back to the office to put in more werk. $16.97
3:30 p.m. — Get home and immediately start brown rice to go with curry soup leftovers for dinner. I clean the apartment a little and look for past billing statements from my therapist. I checked my bill this morning and notice I'd been overcharged, so I rifle through my extremely disorganized filing "system" (a.k.a. the drawer where I put bills after I pay them) and find the past statements. I'll bring everything to my next appointment and get it sorted out.
5 p.m. — Husband and I eat dinner and put on Ocean's Eleven. I saw it years ago when it came out but haven't seen it since and I forgot that it's actually really good! (I'm excited for the next one because Rihanna.) I also take a hit from J.'s weed vape pen that we occasionally smoke throughout the week. Because weed is legal here, the stigma around marijuana use is virtually nonexistent. It's nice to live in a place that's ahead of the curve on this subject, but we keep an eye on the federal government. Halfway through the movie, the munchies hit and we start to crave sweets. It's pouring outside so J. orders us cookies to be delivered. Perks of living in the city.
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Daily Total: $25.45

Day Five

6 a.m. — I didn't hear J.'s alarm, so I wake up at 6 a.m., drink a ton of water, take my vitamins, and take the dog for her walk. I have a huge headache that's verging on a migraine. I hope water and fresh air will help. We go straight back to bed afterward.
8 a.m. — Friday is the best because it's my telework day! Teleworking is extremely common in the tech field, but higher education hasn't quite caught on yet. I'm lucky to have a boss who wants to retain good tech talent and has incorporated this option. I open my laptop and start on emails. Once my inbox is under control, I take a break to do a yoga flow and get ready to meet a friend nearby.
10 a.m. — I take my dog out and get her settled in her bed with a Kong and some balls to keep her occupied. She has never destroyed anything in our house, so I trust her to be out of her kennel occasionally when she's home alone. I head up to the coffee shop, get settled with my friend, and order a cappuccino and avocado toast with an egg and pickled cabbage. It's delicious, and my headache subsides! $15.40
12:30 p.m. — After catching up with my friend and working a little bit, I get up for a break and order another item. I try not to camp out at coffee shops for too long without buying anything because I think it's rude. My general rule is to purchase one menu item per hour. So I get their pear and cranberry shrub. $5.13
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1:30 p.m. — I pack up and head back home to do more work. My neighbor texts me to see if I'm around for a dog playdate. Our dogs love playing together, and my neighbor has a nice-sized fenced yard, so the dogs can really party. While the dogs play, my neighbor and I have a glass of wine on her patio and enjoy the sunshine. J. texts and asks me out on a date tonight. We've been married for two and a half years, but I still get butterflies.
5 p.m. — J. comes home and takes care of dog duty. Then we decide to walk to a new place for dinner that we've been wanting to try called How To Cook A Wolf. My headache has subsided, but the rain is back, so we take a bus there. We walk in without a reservation but get a spot at the bar because we're so early. I order spaghetti and a glass of wine, and J. gets the gnocchi. It's all absolutely delicious! He picks up the tab.
7 p.m. — We stop by Trader Joe's and get snacks for our drive tomorrow. J. pays for those too. The rain has lessened a little bit, so we walk home. Living in the Pacific Northwest in the winter is like living in a rain cloud.
9 p.m. — We get home and take the dog out. Then we have romantic quality time, which is the best! I stay in bed and read while J. goes out to the living room and watches TV.
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Daily Total: $20.53

Day Six

6 a.m. — Dog alarm! She doesn't care about sleeping in on Saturdays; she's just hungry, so I feed her breakfast and we go for a long walk.
7 a.m. — Get home, make peanut butter toast and coffee for breakfast, start laundry, and pack. We booked an Airbnb for the night in a town outside the city where most of our friends live. Our plan is to move there one day, but there aren't as many career opportunities in that area, so for now, we're saving for a down payment and keeping an eye on job postings.
9:30 a.m. — We take the dog to her annual vet appointment. Our dog is strange in that she absolutely loves the vet and gets very excited in the car once she recognizes the vet office's street. She gets a Bordetella vaccine, a complimentary nail trim, a six-month supply of Trifexis, and most importantly, a clean bill of health. A couple of years ago, census data showed that more dogs than children live in Seattle, so we don't skimp on the vaccines or parasite protection. The cost for the visit comes out of our savings, earmarked for dog costs. $234.72
10:30 a.m. — We get home and J. gets himself ready for the weekend while I walk to the UPS store. I have a care package to send my sister, who's in college. The total for packing supplies and shipping comes to $15.24. Then I pop into the used bookstore down the block. Their inventory is excellent and they have a hilarious shop cat who yells at every customer. She won't stop until you greet her so I chat with her a little while I browse. I pick up My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant ($18.72). $33.96
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11 a.m. — There's an Aesop store on my way home, and I've been thinking about getting their Marrakech Intense rollerball for the past two months. (I stop in once a week to use the tester.) At $95, it's an expensive splurge for me, but today I walk in and decide to just buy the dang thing because I really do love it. $104.60
11:15 a.m. — Starbucks is right next door, so I figure since I've already spent hundreds of dollars today, I may as well get a cappuccino. $3.58
1:30 p.m. — We pack up the car and get on the road! My car is 15 years old and I take very good care of it. We could probably get by without a car where we live, but it's nice to have for large grocery trips, hauling the dog around, and getting out of the city. I drive while J. coordinates plans with our friends, and by the time we've reached the Airbnb, he has evening movie plans figured out and tickets bought with gift cards we had.
3 p.m. — Check into the Airbnb and I immediately lock myself in the bathroom to take the longest, hottest bath of my life while J. takes the dog on a long walk. There's a lot to love about our Seattle apartment, but the bathroom situation is not on that list. We have a small hot water heater, which means really short showers. It's good for the environment, but showering at home is not a relaxing part of my day. I luxuriate in the bath and use a toner sample from Aesop. When I finally leave the bathroom, J. puts on the Frozen DVD we found (it's a family-friendly Airbnb) to entertain me while I sit on the couch and do my makeup.
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5:30 p.m. — Dog is exhausted from her long day and passes out in her kennel. We always travel with it so doesn't roam around new spaces unattended. We meet friends to watch Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and holy hell, it is amazing. Highly recommend. It's super cathartic to watch Frances McDormand embody this angry character who says and does whatever the hell she wants. It's not a perfect movie, but dang is it truly a movie for our times.
8 p.m. — We go to a new restaurant in town with some friends where another friend manages the bar. I get three tacos and a beer; the food is insane, the company is the best, and I never want to leave. J. and I go dutch. $16.70
10 p.m. — Say our goodbyes and head back to the Airbnb after a busy and fun day. J. and I hang out, get intimate, goof around, and just enjoy each other's company.
Daily Total: $393.56

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Everyone sleeps in, and it's heaven. J. gets up first because he's meeting up with some dudes for breakfast. He's really good at maintaining friendships with great people, which I love about him. Dog and I get out of bed eventually. I feed her, do my morning routine, and then we drive to a park nearby. It's raining heavily and the park is completely empty. I feel my brain stem relax – this solitude is impossible to find in Seattle. We hike the trails and enjoy the quiet, the rain, and the mud.
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10 a.m. — We get home and clean up. I start packing up the Airbnb and a friend texts me for a spontaneous coffee date. The dog has passed out in her kennel, so I leave her a Kong and go see my friend. She buys coffee for both of us and we catch up.
11:30 a.m. — Head back to the Airbnb and finish packing up before checking out and heading back home. We drive through Starbucks on the way and I get egg-white bites. J. treats. I'm crying a little about having to leave my friends and the town I love.
1:30 p.m. — Back in the city. We unpack and unwind on the couch a little bit, and then get intimate, which lifts my spirits greatly. We go for a run to Trader Joe's, which is a mile straight uphill, so I stretch a little before we go. The sun is shining and I need sunglasses. It feels so great to be outside, feeling healthy and using my body. At Trader Joe's we stock up on dried fruit and nuts and get sandwich fixings for dinner. J. pays.
2 p.m. — We walk back to the apartment, but I continue on foot to the co-op to buy spinach, tomatoes, tangerines, two grapefruits, a bottle of wine, a chocolate protein Odwalla, garlic-stuffed green olives, and pickled cherry peppers. $30.71
3 p.m. — Get home and feel motivated to do a Gorilla Workout. The workouts on this app are super well-designed; I highly recommend it for something cheaper than a gym membership that you can do in a small apartment. I focus on time and can generally complete one workout in 15 minutes. I get this one done in 10 and am immediately starving afterward, so I snack on olives and cheese.
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5 p.m. — J. makes sandwiches for dinner while I jump in the shower with a glass of wine. I've actually gotten pretty good at three-minute showering, and it's just fine for a quick rinse after a workout. Then I hype myself up for a phone call with my mom. My relationship with her is not very good, and the phone convo produces a lot of material that I mentally file away for my next therapy appointment in a couple of days.
8 p.m. — I do my evening skincare routine and jump into bed with my new Elena Ferrante book. I previously read The Days of Abandonment in one day because her style is so captivating. I'm exhausted, so I don't get too far into My Brilliant Friend. Fall asleep with the light on and J. eventually comes to tuck me and the dog into bed.
Daily Total: $30.71
*Name has been changed for anonymity.
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