A Week In Los Angeles, CA, On A $76,000 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we’re tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We’re asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

Today: a Communications Director who makes $76,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on collagen powder.

Occupation: Communications Director
Industry: Non-Profit
Age: 30
Location: Los Angeles
Salary: $76,000 + ~$4,000 bonus and ~$1,200 side hustle
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $2,019
Gender: Cis Woman

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,263 (I live with my plants)
Student Loans: $569 (I’m on an IBR plan and owe $80,000. I have 60 payments remaining before I can apply for PSLF.)
Savings: ~$400 (I have $17,500 in a high yield savings account)
401(k): $148.60 pre-tax, I contribute 5% and my company contributes 16% (balance is $40,000)
Health/Vision/Dental: $26.39 pre-tax (my company covers about 95% of my insurance costs)
ClassPass/Roller Derby Dues: $124
Car Insurance: $123
Cell Phone: $102
Internet: $75
Gas/Electricity: $50-$70
Hulu: $11.99 (I share with my friend who shares with me) Netflix/Spotify/HBO/Disney+: $0 (friend’s accounts)
Medium: $5

Day One

7 a.m. — My boyfriend, R., wakes me up with a goodbye kiss. I’m off for President’s Day, but R. has to work. He tells me I can sleep at his house for as long as I want to, but I’m ready to get the day started too. There’s a Costco on my way home so I stop to fill up my tank ($38). I also stop at Ralph’s to get groceries for the week ($47.87). I prefer supporting local coffee shops but I don’t want to make a third stop and the Starbucks drive-thru is so convenient. I get a medium Americano ($3.25). $89.12

11:30 a.m. — I make egg and avocado breakfast tacos when I get home and spend the morning doing some light cleaning. I head to a class I signed up for through ClassPass, but it doesn’t cost me any credits thanks to a promotion. I usually have to feed the parking meter when I take this class but it’s free today because of the holiday. It’s a full-body workout with a focus on back and shoulders.

2 p.m. — I eat a homemade açai bowl with muesli from Trader Joe’s for lunch. I don’t get the texture quite right but it tastes good. I make a fresh batch of dry shampoo since I’m almost out and I also make more deodorizing spray for my roller derby gear. Derby funk is real but the rose petal witch hazel I use is antibacterial and helps with the smell in between washes. I water my plants and park in front of my TV for a few hours.

7 p.m. — I eat an apple with a heaping tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter for dinner since I’m not very hungry. I start responding to several text messages I’ve been ignoring all day. I’ve grown to dislike texting and find it so taxing. Everyone starts texting me back right away. I knew this was a dangerous game. I wrap things up within an hour, shower again, and jump into bed. I fall asleep to the sweet, sweet sound of The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Daily Total: $89.12

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and get ready for work. Most mornings, getting ready for work involves some form of meal prep. Today, I hard boil eggs for the week and gather my salad ingredients for lunch. I water a plant or two and run out the door at 6:30 a.m.

8 a.m. — I have a hard-boiled egg and a banana for breakfast while I respond to emails.

11:30 a.m. — The workday drags on. A lot of my work is project-based and my major projects for the year have not launched yet. I prep my salad for lunch — spinach, yellow bell pepper, garbanzo beans, salami, avocado, and an egg.

5 p.m. — I get home and try to take a quick nap before my 6:30 p.m. workout class. I do not succeed but do watch a little TV.

7:45 p.m. — Whew that class was hard. Beyoncé’s “7/11” came on at exactly the halfway point of the class while I was struggling on the ladder machine and it gave me the second wind I needed to not quit. I am Beyoncé, always. I make a protein shake when I get home and cook some chicken breasts that I’ll eat later this week. I finally jump in the shower and get ready for bed. Lights out at 10.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I wake up feeling sore. It’s been three days of workout classes (including Sunday) and I’m excited for this rest day. I make coffee at home and get ready for work. I leave at 6:45.

12 p.m. — I have a salad for lunch. It’s the same one as yesterday except this time I remember to bring feta cheese from home so I throw that in.

6 p.m. — After another day that dragged on, I’m excited to see R. He picks me up and we go to a new taco spot. I try a keto taco, which basically means that the tortilla is replaced by hard, melted cheese, and I’m here for it. I’m also here for the guac that tastes very much like Tijuana guac. I get a Jarrito’s brand mineral water. It’s the undisputed best fizzy water out there, fight me. I pay for the meal. $22.68

7:30 p.m. — R. drinks a glass of wine and I have a beer when we get to my place. I get a little buzzed from the beer but have enough willpower to wash my makeup off and I manage to slather on some rosehip oil before bed. We watch trashy reality TV from Mexico before we fall asleep around 10:30 p.m.

Daily Total: $22.68

Day Four

5:30 a.m. — We wake up and R. rushes home to get ready for work. I shower, make coffee, get ready, and run out the door at 6:50.

8:30 a.m. — A banana and a hard-boiled egg for breakfast once again! I spend my morning mapping out my projects for the year and review my 2020 goals in our performance tracker. I also narrow down the conferences I want to attend and update my work calendar.

1 p.m. — My afternoon meetings run late so I have a late lunch. I’d planned to pack my lunch last night but that beer had me acting a fool. I pick up chicken tikka masala and garlic naan from a nearby cafe. $9.57

5:30 p.m. — I’m home and have time to kill before roller derby practice. I spend a few hours watching Ericka Hart’s IG stories. She’s doing a series on Black History Month and there’s so, so much to learn. I’ve Venmo’d her in the past and make a note to send her some more when I get my next paycheck. I also want to support some of the folks she’s featured in her posts.

10 p.m. — I’m home from practice! I wanted to push myself more but my knee felt wonky. I’ve had to stop skating in the past due to injuries so I know how far I can push myself. I wish we’d done more hitting drills but we focus more on speed and I need the endurance practice since I’m not running as much anymore. I eat an apple with crunchy peanut butter for dinner. It makes no sense but I find it hard to eat before or after I skate. I’m slacking on my skincare game this week, but I throw on my A313 retinol and call it a day.

Daily Total: $9.57

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I wake up, throw some workout clothes on and head out to a class at yet another studio. I’m short two credits from my monthly pass so I purchase them for the class. $5

7:45 a.m. — I pick up an Americano at my favorite local coffee shop after class. I always do this when I work from home, even if I don’t do a morning workout. I love routines. I love coffee. $4.25

8:30 a.m. — Already on email after showering and eating some breakfast tacos I made. I throw on some tinted lip balm since I have two video conference calls scheduled later. I’m vain. This is who I am.

12:45 p.m. — I decide to do two loads of laundry. Thankfully, both machines in my complex are available. At this point in my life, I kind of don’t care if I never own a home. Read my lips: In. Unit. Washer. Dryer. I shred the chicken breast I cooked earlier in the week and make chicken salad. It’s a healthier version because I use a bit of greek yogurt and a whole avocado as the “cream.” I quickly make it unhealthy when I throw it on top of a tostada.

7 p.m. — I log off work and lounge. R. has dinner plans with his mom. He invites me over but I pass because I have work stuff through my side hustle in the morning. I mess around on my phone while I watch TV. I remember that I’m out of protein powder so I order that along with collagen powder and Amlactin body lotion from Costco. $75.52

Daily Total: $84.77

Day Six

6:15 a.m. — Why did I agree to do this again? I get up and start getting ready for the day. Thankfully, I have one hard-boiled egg left and I’m thankful for the protein. I know I said I’m not a huge Starbucks fan, but the drive-thru is CLUTCH. Another medium Americano. $3.25

1 p.m. — I’m finally home after a very stressful morning/afternoon. I presented two workshops in a low-income neighborhood on the importance of the census through my side hustle. Everything that could go wrong, did. First, I couldn’t find my materials then I couldn’t find the workshop location. I managed to get it together, but all the hiccups resulted in me listening to my favorite emo songs on full volume during my drive home.

2:40 p.m. — R. picks me up and drives us to one of our favorite steakhouses. He’s excited about the food, but all I want is a Moscow Mule. Theirs is my absolute favorite and after the morning I had, this is much needed. We order appetizers, split a rib plate, and order a second round of drinks. The total is $93 and R. hands over his card, so I pay for the tip. I like to tip with cold hard cash and R. never has cash. $17

5 p.m. — R. and I both lose our buzz since we wait a while before leaving the restaurant. We stop by a liquor store and get two bottles of cheap wine and a bag of Lays. I pay. $13.71

7 p.m. — Jojo Rabbit is finally available to rent. It’s a cute movie and we both enjoy it. We both drink two glasses of wine and this plus the heavy food from earlier knocks both of us out by 9:30. Wild Saturday night! $5.99

Daily Total: $39.95

Day Seven

7 a.m. — R. and I wake up and cuddle in bed for a while. I make coffee and then we both start getting ready.

9:30 a.m. — We drive to a local donut shop for breakfast. We order two bagels with cream cheese, donut holes, a coffee for me, and an orange juice for R. I pay. $12.15

10:30 a.m. — Plant shopping time! I don’t find anything I want to buy, but R. picks up a new plant. It’s okay, I’m used to this now. I have finite space so I have to be selective with my plant purchases.

12 p.m. — We drive to the Grove to have lunch at the Original Farmer’s Market. When we arrive we discover that there’s live music in celebration of Mardi Gras. Whoa, okay, this changes everything! I’m stoked because I love live music and there are beads for goodness sake. R. also loves to stumble into adventures. Our moods are at 150% and R. immediately buys us beer. I pay for our cheeseburgers. After we eat, R. gets us a pitcher of a blood orange hefeweizen. We bop around for a few hours, collecting beads and then take a few laps around the Grove before we head to the car. R. pays $6 for parking. $27.75

5:30 p.m. — R. drops me off, but since we’re having such a good time, I decide to meet him back at his place. Normally I would stay home on a Sunday night, but I’m off tomorrow and can afford to continue having fun.

7 p.m. — R. and I walk his adorable dog around the block and we’re all ready for bed when we get home. The dog snores peacefully while R. and I throw on a sheet mask and watch The Wonder Years. We turn the lights off and I end my week the way I wish I ended every week — cuddling next to R. under a weighted blanket knowing I don’t have to confront Monday until Tuesday.

Daily Total: $39.90

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