A Week In Monterey, CA, On A $49,725 Salary

Welcome toMoney 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 philanthropic services associate who makes $49,725 per year. She spends some of her money this week on a bottle of bottle of Bogle Petite Sirah.

Occupation: Philanthropic Services Associate
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 27
Location: Monterey, CA
Salary: $49,725
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,327

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $747.50 for my half of the rent, which includes water. I rent a two-bed, one-bath apartment in downtown Monterey with my best friend from high school. We’ve been here for 2.5 years.
Student Loans: $200. I have about $10,000 left to pay back.

All Other Monthly Expenses
Cable & Internet: $75 for my half. We’re considering canceling cable altogether since we only use it to watch baseball. (Go, Giants!)
Netflix: $10. We mooch off our friends’ Hulu, HBOGo, and other accounts.
Electricity & Gas: ~$25 for my half.
Gas: ~$60. I typically fill up twice per month.
Gym: $40
Cell Phone: $0. My mom refuses to take me off her plan and refuses to let me pay her for it. No shame — I end up paying her back in other ways.
Medical, Vision & Dental: $0. This is 100% covered by work, which is basically why I left my two part-time jobs. (That, and I only work 37.5 hours per week now — nonprofit standard — instead of about 55.)
403(b): $85 per paycheck. Work contributes 5% every paycheck no matter what.
Investments: $200 through Ellevest
Savings: $500 – $800

7 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up, but I snooze twice, per usual. I get up, stretch for a bit, and start getting ready for work. I picked up homemade dark and white chocolate chip cookies from a friend’s house last night. Naturally, I eat one for breakfast. I would normally have a fried egg on top of avocado toast with Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, but I honestly haven’t been super hungry lately.

8:30 a.m. — Get into my office. I check and respond to emails while I wait for coffee to finish brewing. I often browse a couple of my favorite blogs in the mornings, too, which includes Money Diaries. I’ve only been working here for five months, and was promoted two months ago, but things still seem slow. My boss told me summer is a slow time for nonprofits and to enjoy it now. Luckily, today is a bit busier and I’m looking forward to the work.

9:30 a.m. — Team meeting with more coffee. I learn that I’m being given a donor education event for our professional advisors. I am SO happy to have more things to do!

10:45 a.m. — Our meeting wraps up quickly so that two colleagues and I can hit the road to go to board meeting in King City, about an hour’s drive south. We quickly go from 65 to 100-degree weather. I’m glad I wore a blouse and skirt today.

12 p.m. — We arrive at the board meeting with tacos in hand. Living in California, especially near the “Salad Capital,” Salinas Valley, is great. Everything is fresh and the food is so good! The smell of taco meat and salsa gets my appetite going. I promptly eat four tacos during our meeting.

1:30 p.m. — Things wrap up and we make the trek back to Monterey. I feel like I’ve spent most of my time in this new job meeting people. These boards only meet once every few months, though, so I lose a sense of who everyone is by the time the next meeting comes around. Today, I meet my car insurance agent, who happens to be this board’s chair.

3 p.m. — The drive back was great. I’m getting to know my boss and our VP really well. Back in the office briefly to get a few things done. I have to process grant requests from some of my donors this week. Turns out they’ll go out later than usual because our CEO is out of town for the rest of the week and won’t be able to sign the grant checks. Huge oversight on my part. I should have submitted them sooner. In my old role, I oversaw his calendar and always knew where he was, but that’s changed. I need start checking in with him on a regular basis in my new role.

5 p.m. — Leave work and head to the gym, which is right down the street from my office. Do a couple rounds of a HIIT workout and lift weights.

6:45 p.m. — I get home from the gym and make a smoothie with chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, a banana, and water because I’m out of milk. It doesn’t taste nearly as good without milk and I tell myself to grab more when I’m at Trader Joe’s tomorrow. I hop in the shower and get ready to meet friends for trivia.

7:30 p.m. — Walk down to a pub on the wharf. Our group tries to come every Tuesday night, and we do okay-ish. I’m only good for pop culture and Sports. I get a cup of clam chowder and a Fresh Squeezed IPA. $16.59 including tip

9:30 p.m. — Team Teenage Riot did good, but not great. I hang out for a little bit and walk home.

10:15 p.m. — I get home and pack my gym bag for tomorrow. Get in bed and read my book, The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey, a true story about sharks and the Farallon Islands near San Francisco. I read for about 45 minutes before hitting the hay.

Daily Total: $16.59

7 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I snooze twice. Get up to stretch and get ready for work. Someone is here to paint the house. (Most of the houses in this neighborhood have been turned into three or four separate apartments in each building.) We didn’t know this was scheduled, but my roommate and I speak to the painter who explains and says he’ll be finished tomorrow.

8:30 a.m. — I get into the office and check email, blogs, and theSkimm. I made avocado toast before I left the house and eat while sipping on office coffee.

10:30 a.m. — Take a quick break and log in to pay the cable and internet bill. Our bill has gone up by $30. Fucking Comcast. I really need to talk to my roommate about getting rid of cable altogether.

12:15 p.m. — Time for lunch. I sit out on our patio and catch up with a coworker. I brought the last serving of a meal I made last week: brown rice, roasted sweet potatoes, chickpeas, sautéed chicken, zucchini, and a handful of spinach topped with TJ’s Goddess Dressing. It’s pretty noms, but I’ve been eating it for a week and am a little tired of it. I get about three-quarters of the way through it before taking a 20-minute walk.

2 p.m. — I head into a meeting feeling sleepy. I munch on almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips to stay awake.

5 p.m. — Leave work and head to the gym. I take the structured HIIT class today and it’s brutal but such a good workout. Sixty rounds of nine exercises and you have to do as many as you can in 30 minutes. I only got through seven of them today.

6:45 p.m. — Leave the gym and head to TJs where I get chickpeas, steak tips, Greek yogurt, chocolate chips, milk, parsley, asparagus, avocados, and bananas. I head home, shower, and make the same protein shake as yesterday. It tastes so much better with milk! $30.88

7:30 p.m. — Out of the shower and start roasting the chickpeas and asparagus, and cooking the brown rice and steak. My roommate and I settle on the couch to catch up and watch the latest episode of Last Week Tonight and a few more episodes of Friends from College.

10:15 p.m. — I hop in bed and continue reading The Devil’s Teeth until I fall asleep. Sharks are crazy, guys.

Daily Total: $30.88


7 a.m. — The usual: snooze alarm, stretch, get ready. It was super warm last night. Both my roommate and I opened our windows — this is Monterey and that never happens! I guess late summer is upon us; clearly, it’s going to be another gorgeous day. I warm up the roasted chickpeas and eat them over plain Greek yogurt. Damn, it’s yummy.

8:30 a.m. — Get into the office and settle at my desk with coffee.

10 a.m. — A meeting I’m supposed to be in gets postponed, so I take a few minutes to hit up Amazon for two things I’m about to run out of: bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Moisturizer ($22) and Epielle Aloe Vera Cleansing Tissues ($11.95 for six packs of 30!). Both purchases will last several months. I love Amazon Prime. $33.95

11:50 a.m. — After getting out of the postponed meeting, I rush out the door to Panera to have lunch with two former coworkers. I bring leftover rice and broccoli beef from dinner I made with my mom on Monday night. I sneak it into the microwave while my friends order their lunches. We quickly catch up and plan another lunch date for next week.

2 p.m. — I take a break to research counselors and therapists in my network. I’ve gone through several transitions in the last six months: My ex broke up with me an hour before moving to San Diego; my best friend’s grandpa died (I’d known him all my life and considered him my grandfather, too); I quit two jobs and feel like I abandoned the kids I taught; I completely changed my career path and started a new job in a new industry; my best friend (who is also my ex’s best friend) told me he loved me (we’ve never dated); and my mom recently lost her job after 30 years, so I’ve been doing my best to help her sort out her finances, Medicare, unemployment, etc. I also haven’t been eating or sleeping well. I’ve been keeping myself busy to avoid dealing with my feelings, but my mom told me about her experience with therapy when she was my age. So, I request info and an appointment from a few people in-network. I’ll see how it goes.

5 p.m. — Head home and watch an episode of Veep. I eat more chickpeas over Greek yogurt and a leftover pupusa from a birthday party last weekend.

6:15 p.m. — My friend scoops me up to grab a drink before we see Dunkirk with friends. I order a Scrimshaw and pay the full movie ticket price with a gift card. $8.59

9:30 p.m. — THAT WAS ONE OF THE MOST STRESSFUL MOVIES I’VE SEEN. I have a semi-major fear of water, and that’s where most of Dunkirk takes place. Still, it was beautifully shot and the sound effects and mixing were gorgeous. Tom Hardy is a confirmed babe. Also: Go, Harry Styles!

9:45 p.m. — I wash my face and pack my gym bag for tomorrow. I get in bed and read a little before eventually falling asleep.

Daily Total: $42.54

7 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm goes off, but still snooze twice and relax in bed before I get up to stretch and get ready. I eat more chickpeas over Greek yogurt.

8:30 a.m. — Get to the office and drink some coffee while I check my emails and listen to the Reply All podcast. (If you ever want to laugh out loud, listen to the episode “The Secret Life of Alex Goldman,” in which one of the hosts agrees to let the other hack into his cell phone.) I have to stop the latest episode, “Long Distance, Part II,” because I have a meeting. I can’t wait to listen to the rest!

11:30 a.m. — Back in my office and finish the episode. I snack on trail mix, which is silly because I’m taking lunch in an hour, but at least I have an appetite.

12:30 p.m. — I head to the deck and eat lunch with a few coworkers. It’s 80 degrees in Monterey! It feels so nice to sit in the sunshine. I eat the remaining beef and broccoli with rice from yesterday.

3 p.m. — Snack on more trail mix throughout the afternoon. My friends want to leave for a birthday party tonight at 7, so I start thinking of a quick, but efficient HIIT workout I can do at the gym.

5 p.m. — Head to the gym and do a quick lifting routine. Afterwards, I stop by TJs to buy a bottle of Bogle Petite Sirah for the party. When I get home, I make another protein smoothie, hop in the shower, and get ready. $9.78

8 p.m. — Friends swing by to pick me up and we drive towards Salinas, about 20 minutes away.

8:30 p.m. — THERE ARE SO MANY DOGS AT THIS PARTY. It’s awesome to just drink, play with one dog after another, sit by a bonfire, and meet new people. The birthday boy’s sister sculpted a legitimate ice luge, and I end up with a shot of Tito’s after a few beers. I’ll regret this, but damn that was fun!

1:45 a.m. — One of our friends, who didn’t drink, decided to drive home earlier in the night, so the rest of us hail an Uber to get back to the peninsula. The split only goes through between two of us but we’ll sort it out later. I wash my face, chug two glasses of water, and fall into bed. $18.33

Daily Total: $28.11

7 a.m. — Why am I awake? My body hates me. I get up to drink another glass of water since I’m feeling that shot of Tito’s. I manage to go back to sleep for a few hours.

10 a.m. — Much better. I hang out in bed with another glass of water and catch up on Instagram. I make more chickpeas to go with the Greek yogurt. I need to buy more cans because this has been delicious.

11:30 a.m. — I head to the mall to return a dress from the Gap that I bought online; it’s far too big, which is a bummer because it’s gorgeous. They don’t have that style left anymore and I learn at the register that I can only return it by mail. I browse for another pseudo-work dress but can’t figure out the stupid cinched belt on one I try on. I head to Starbucks and grab an iced coffee before I head home. I’ll return the dress via UPS during a lunch break next week. $2.45

12:45 p.m. — Back at home, I start getting ready for the Giants game my mom and I are going to tonight. I catch up with my roommate once she’s home and grab all my Giants gear before my mom picks me up at 1:45.

4 p.m. — We make it to AT&T Park in great time! We walk around the stadium and eventually grab dinner. I’m slowly eating my way through the stadium and try to get something different each time I come. (We really do have the best ballpark food.) I settle on orange chicken, green beans, and rice. $10.50

8:45 p.m. — It’s the sixth inning and we’ve tied up the game! I head to the restroom and then grab fresh caramel corn for my mom and me, and make it back before the seventh inning stretch. $8

10 p.m. — We win in a tenth-inning walk-off infield hit! What a great game to watch. We head back to the car and listen to the postgame wrap-up on the radio during the two-hour drive home. I crawl into bed a little after midnight.

Daily Total: $20.95

9 a.m. — I wake up to a few texts from friends I’m hiking with today. Everyone is moving pretty slowly, and one of them is driving back from Half Moon Bay. It’ll be a while before we get going. I walk down to the wharf and meet a friend for coffee and breakfast. It’s gorgeous today, so we sit outside. $11.36

11:30 a.m. — We settle on meeting up in an hour to head to Castle Rock, up in the Santa Cruz mountains. I walk to TJs and grab a wrap for the hike. Chicken Tarragon Salad is the best one, by far. $3.99

2:45 p.m. — We make it to the trailhead after unanticipated traffic. We settle on doing the 5.5-mile loop to some of the key rock formations to get out at a decent time.

5:30 p.m. — We’re back at the car after a sweaty, but beautiful hike along the ridge overlooking Big Basin. Since my friend isn’t much of a driver, I drive back into town. We stop in Aptos for a scoop of Marianne’s Ice Cream — a must for anyone in the area. I get two scoops of peanut butter cup and grab my friend’s scoops of horchata, since we used her gas today. $8.45

8 p.m. — We get home and I quickly shower before heading back out to go to a friend’s house to watch Game of Thrones. I grab my leftover orange chicken as I head out the door.

10 p.m. — I’m home from a truly epic and battle-filled episode. Can’t wait to see what Daenerys unleashes on the Lannisters next week. I put on a face mask while I put my gym bag together for tomorrow. I read for a bit before falling asleep.

Daily Total: $23.80

7 a.m. — I didn’t get a lick of sleep last night. I snooze twice, stretch, and get ready for work. More chickpeas and Greek yogurt.

8:30 a.m. — I get to work and check emails before a staff meeting that will take up most of the morning. I grab a cup of coffee. It’ll be multi-cup day for sure.

11:30 a.m. — Out of the meeting. Our benefits rep came in to describe the minor changes to our plans for next year. I’ve only heard back from one of the therapists I’d contacted (sadly she’s not in network), but I noticed a page in our packet about therapists and referrals over the phone. I’m going to look into this.

12:15 p.m. — I head out for lunch. First, I take my dress to UPS and ship it back to the Gap. I’ll get $42.55 back once the refund goes through. Then, I hit up Safeway to grab more nuts for trail mix. (They’re on sale!) I make cottage cheese for dinner with my mom tonight. We make dinner together every Monday night, and this was the one item she didn’t grab. I head back to my office and eat my leftover rice, asparagus, and steak. $9.40

3 p.m. — Another meeting. I snack on my trail mix to stay awake.

5 p.m. — I head to the gym for HIIT class. It’s packed tonight. There’s a super-fit girl I haven’t seen here before, and I use her for secret competition and hustle. I leave class feeling surprisingly energized.

6:45 p.m. — I get to my mom’s and quickly rinse off in her shower. We don’t have laundry in my apartment, so I do my weekly load here. I toss in my laundry and catch up with my mom as we make hamburger pie. We watch the Giants game until 8 p.m. because it’s The Bachelorette season finale! We’ve been rooting for Peter this whole season and can’t imagine why Rachel wouldn’t choose him.

10:30 p.m. — That was the most boring season finale ever. And upsetting. She clearly loved Peter, so I’m not sure why or how she could turn around and decide to spend her life with boring ass Brian the day after sobbing into Peter’s chest. I’m not bitter or anything. I should also start applying the (pointless) advice I’m giving Rachel through the TV to my own love life!

11 p.m. — My mom and I clean up the kitchen and play with her kitty. As I head out the door, her porch light burns out. We find a replacement and I promise to come back during lunch tomorrow to change it for her. I’m glad this stalls my departure because I remember to grab a piece of her luggage to borrow for my trip to Denver on Friday.

11:30 p.m. — I get home and read in bed for a little while. I’m not tired, so I try to read until I am, hoping I’ll easily drift off to sleep.

Daily Total: $9.40

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.

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