This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
Believe it or not, we’ve reached our 100th Money Diary. We’ve gone to Copenhagen and celebrated an engagement; pinched pennies with an unemployed woman in Jersey; and bought Christmas presents with a family earning $40,000 in California.
With every diary, we learn something new. It might be that Whole Foods has an app with the occasional free gift, or that some people store avocados in the fridge, even when they’re not ripe. We’ve learned that living abroad is just as romantic as it sounds (most of the time), and that the best job perk might be getting free lunch.
But the biggest takeaway from this series is that a dollar in one city will get you $1.50 elsewhere; that the same salaries can still lead to very, very different lives, based on rent, spending habits, and relationship status. So for our 100th diary, we decided to round up seven women around the country who all earn $100,000 a year or more. And — surprise — not every woman is spending her whole paycheck every month. A woman saving to become a single mother within the next year spends roughly $200 in a week, while another diarist living apart from her husband in Washington, D.C., spends almost $700. And while we may not all be able to relate to the size of the paychecks, we can all relate to the everyday craving for Starbucks, the post-work must-find-food struggle, and the need to make rent and save at the same time. Which is why we read these to begin with, right?
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.
A woman in tech saving $900 a month, paying for her brother’s college expenses.
Salary: $145,000 + bonus ~$30,000. I am extremely grateful for the privilege I have, making and saving as much as I do. I hope to have kids and get my PhD someday, plus there’s a good chance I will have to support my mother in her old age. Given all that, I try my best to save now while there are fewer obligations in my life.
Paycheck (2x/month): $4,200. I try to keep my baseline monthly spending around $3,250 including housing, which is by far my biggest expense (followed by food). I make exceptions for big one-offs, e.g. yearly charitable donation, travel. Leftover funds go straight to investment or extra payments on the mortgage. Including 401k contributions and payments toward mortgage principal, my annual savings rate is around 60-70% of my net income.
# of Roommates: One. I’m living with my boyfriend who, at my request, contributes money to his retirement accounts instead of paying me rent. That way we’ll have more money sitting in tax-advantaged accounts when we’re married.
Housing (mortgage, insurance, property taxes, condo fees): $2,175
Utilities (gas, electric, water): $50 to $80 (lower in summer, since we don’t have A/C, higher in winter; my share)
Internet: $20 (my share)
Phone: $90 (plan to switch to Google Fi after my contract ends in September)
Insurance (pre-tax health, dental, life, disability): $65
MBTA pass: $75 (unlimited pass, don’t own a car)
Subscriptions: HBO $15 (until GoT wraps up), Netflix $0 (piggy back on boyfriend’s account)
Student Loans: $0, college financed entirely by grants and scholarships
401k: $18,000 (max out early in the year)
Charity & Brother’s College Expenses: $11,000-$13,000
Subscriptions (Amazon Prime, Angie’s List, password manager): $150
10 a.m. — I eat a pouch of cashews from my work’s snack bar in lieu of breakfast. While I’ve gotten in the habit of pairing it with ginger tea, my desk stash has just run out. Water it is, then.
12 p.m. — I try to bring in lunch at least three times a week. Today it’s leftover salmon and green beans over a lentil and quinoa mix. I take a pear from the snack bar to supplement.
6:45 p.m. — I see on my doorstep one of the used silk blouses I ordered as part of a $250 wardrobe overhaul from last week. I feel guilty spending so much on clothes (to put it in context, I spent around $200 total on my wardrobe last year). But I am in a first-time-in-four-years overhaul and the shirt feels downright decadent. Plus it fits without tailoring which is rare for me.
7:15 p.m. — More leftover salmon and lentils plus chia seed pudding for dessert. I watch some Planet Earth on Netflix and read before bed.
Daily Total: $0
9 a.m. — Almonds and cheddar rice puffs from the snack bar. Co-worker brings in donuts from Kane’s. I take a small piece of the nutty coconut one.
11:45 a.m. — A delightful grilled eggplant prosciutto sandwich from the Italian joint around the corner for lunch. $ 11.22
6:45 p.m. — Another package on my doorstep from the shopping spree, this time a heavyweight cotton tee and patterned jewel tone shorts.
7:15 p.m. — Five-mile jog outside before the thunderstorms hit.
9 p.m. — I eat at a Cambodian French restaurant one of my friends wants to try. We share family-style the dumplings, duck filled crepes, tuna avocado salad, shrimp curry, and crab custard. $ 34.12
Daily Total: $45.34
11:30 a.m. — I pick up the kid I mentor from her house. We share a grilled chicken sandwich and vegan chocolate cupcake before we go to a pool where I teach her to float. $14
6 p.m. — Last serving of salmon and lentils for dinner. I also munch on the remains of my blackberries while flipping through Netflix and reading.
Daily Total: $14
9 a.m. — I do some laundry (best part of condo living is not having to schlep 20 pounds of clothes to the laundromat) and start packing away non joy-sparking clothes to sell and donate.
10:15 a.m. — Chia seed pudding for breakfast. I make another batch that should last me three to four more days.
11 a.m. — A friend picks me up and we visit consignment shops in Belmont. I’m on the lookout for a drapey linen cardigan but nothing catches my eye. I do find some good picks for my friend, however, enough to replace her entire seasonal wardrobe.
2 p.m. — Next stop is this wonderful African hole-in-the-wall in Waltham where we order coconut chicken curry, beef stew, samosas, fresh juice, and an obscene number of sides. We leave stuffed and with plenty of leftovers. $25
4:30 p.m. — We hit up some clothing stores in Harvard Square but are pretty disappointed in the quality and prices in comparison to what we saw in the suburbs.
6 p.m. — On my way home I pick up some toiletries from CVS. $7.42
9:30 p.m. — I end up skipping dinner, as I’m still full from lunch. I cap off the night with Game of Thrones.
Daily Total: $32.42
8 a.m. — Work from home. Breakfast is chia seed pudding.
11:30 a.m. — I start getting a headache from eating so irregularly over the weekend. I break out my stash of rainy day frozen homemade wontons and make soup.
6 p.m. — More soup for dinner. I spend the rest of the evening doing work.
Daily Total: $0
10 a.m. — I nibble on rice puffs, an orange and nectarines at my desk.
1:30 p.m. — Leftover African food for lunch.
6:30 p.m. — I buy groceries at Whole Foods to last the rest of the week. I get tofu, ground beef, blackberries, avocado, ginger, bananas, chicken broth and naan. $24.92
7 p.m. — I stir fry half my tofu and beef over rice and munch on blackberries for dessert. I end the evening reading and writing.
Daily Total: $24.92
10 a.m. — Almonds in the a.m.
12 p.m. — Leftover tofu stir fry for lunch. I use my break to place an order for tights since my last good pair has started to develop hole in the toes. I decide to splurge on Wolfords since I’m sick of shelling out for new ones every couple months. I also see a nice linen cardigan on TheWrld, exactly what I am looking for! $64.78
5 p.m. — I eat the last of my tofu stir fry.
6 p.m. — I join work friends to celebrate a colleague’s birthday at a bar near the waterfront. I nibble on apps and order a brownie sundae for dessert. We all chip in to cover the bill for the birthday boy. $28
Daily Total: $92.78
A woman in dentistry with an ambitious savings plan and a goal to start a family next year.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Salary: $150,000 annually
Paycheck amount: After health insurance, vision, flexible savings account, 401K, and taxes, $3366 biweekly; this typically increases in mid-November when I max out my Social Security and Medicare contributions for the year.
Number of Roommates: Two perfect senior felines
Emergency Account: $17,000. I’ve just finished establishing this (22 months in the making!) and I’m going to separate my remaining savings into sub-accounts soon for future goals.
General Savings Account: $17,000
Mum Account (to help my mother with small expenses if/when she retires): $2000
Travel Account (my travel is supplemented with discretionary income): $2000
Stupid Mistakes Account (unforeseen fees, etc): $2000
Roth IRA: $12,800
Rent: $860, includes utilities
Cell phone: $35 (Cricket prepaid plan)
Laundry: $15 to $20
Student Loans: $2,168; my minimum payment is $466 via my Pay As You Earn Plan, but I decided to aggressively pay off my loans about a year ago
Total Student Loan Debt (brace yourself): $485,000
Groceries: $200 to $240 (I try to cook almost all the food I eat)
Gas: $50 to $60
Gym: $17, paid in 6-month bl ocks, for Barre 3 online membership; I supplement with Fitness Blender, Pilates on 5th, and Popsugar workouts online for free
Cat Needs: $50, care of Chewy.com
Feline Arthritis Medication: $34
IRA: $500 deducted from 11 paychecks during the months of November through March, which totals the maximum annual contribution of $5500
Bi-Weekly Expenses (deducted from each paycheck)
Health insurance: $49 pre-tax
Vision: $7 pre-tax
401K: 12% of my pre-tax income, which is about $693 per check and contributes to the maximum $18,000 allowed by the IRS annually
Savings: $1000 – Emergency account; $1000 – General Savings account; $84 each to my Travel, Mum, and Stupid Mistakes accounts, respectively
Amazon Prime membership: $53/year
Car Insurance: $600
Renter’s Insurance: $200
Work-related expenses: My professional license renewal, CPR certificates, malpractice insurance, and several continuing education courses are all covered by my company. I purchase communal snacks, as well as pantry items, bananas, and eggs for my employees and I to share, on a biweekly basis. These are taken out of practice costs.
9:30 a.m. — I am in Olympia, Washington, for the weekend helping my friend plan for her wedding (I am a bridesmaid) and get her new home in order after an unexpected move. I wake up and snack on yogurt, cheese, and a banana and drink a cup of Earl Grey, which my friend kindly purchased yesterday. I vacuum while she sorts clothes. Her house has a ton of carpet; that’s my cardio for the day. Next, we iron.
10:30 a.m. — We have brunch overlooking the water and it is delicious: PNW salmon, potatoes, deviled eggs, salad, mimosas. My friend graciously treats. I try to talk her out of it but she refuses to accept my money.
12:30 p.m. — It’s off to the bridal shop! My friend tries her dream dress on one more time and I hold her phone as she FaceTimes with her mum. We unanimously agree that this is The Dress, so it gets purchased that day. It’s an honor to be a part of such a special moment.
2 p.m. — We traditionally paint pottery every time we see each other, so we find a local place and select some overpriced bowls. We are seated at a community table with far too many teeny boppers. Ugh. They make me feel so old. But their enthusiasm is also slightly infectious. Okay, they are adorable. I purchase [overpriced] hot chocolate for both of us ($7), and my bowl. Total: $34
4:30 p.m. — We head home, where we chow on Thai instant rice noodles. My friend stuffs a banana, some cheese sticks, and yogurt into my carry-on. She’s the best.
8 a.m. — After battling horrendous Seattle traffic, I make it onto my flight and catch some much-needed shut-eye.
12 a.m. — I find my hastily parked car from yesterday in the long term lot. I parked in this lot because I arrived way too late to go to the lot I purchased a Groupon for. I am pleasantly surprised at the cost of my two-day stay. $18
Daily Total: $52
5:55 a.m. — Wake up groggy and refuse to believe I have to be an adult in an hour and a half. Almond milk, banana, and protein powder smoothie for breakfast (all leftover items from last week’s grocery purchases). Unsatisfying.
7:30 a.m. — Microwave (communal) eggs at work (I do not own a microwave). Drown them in hot sauce and feel a bit better.
10 a.m. — Small snack-sized bag of Chips Ahoy cookies, care of communal snack drawer. I believe in eating dessert at least once a day. Preferably, twice. Doctor’s orders. (Just make sure to brush your teeth afterward.)
12 p.m. — No groceries at home so Subway it is for lunch. I choose a Sub of the Day to keep costs down. $3.80
5 p.m. — Grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s. I purchase greens, lemons, sweet potatoes, organic, free range chicken breasts, free range eggs, herbs, a variety of veggies, almond milk, broth and organic lean beef for some paleo recipes this week ($57). Stop by the Whole Foods hot food bar next door for some carrot salad, potatoes and peanut stew and chorizo sausage ($12). $69
8 p.m. — Killer online core workout. Followed by a cold shower that nearly kills me.
9 p.m. — Reading, cat cuddles, bed by 10:15.
Daily Total: $72.80
5:55 a.m. — Do some easy stretching workouts online. Cold bath. (Ugh.) Eggs with hot sauce for breakfast.
10 a.m. — Morning snack of communal pretzels. Then, I move on to communal peanut butter-filled pretzels. Yes.
12 p.m. — I haven’t cooked for the week yet, so I hit up Sprouts for an incredible veggie sandwich from the deli and some bulk Turtles. $5.03
5:30 p.m. — Gas station coffee on the way home. $1.09
6:30 p.m. — I do my weekly cooking. I make a paleo casserole for dinner, and then salads for lunch with poached chicken breast. The salads keep well in glass containers for the entire week. I throw in pretty much everything but the kitchen sink: greens, carrots, raisins, apples, cucumbers, celery and pine nuts. This is a weekend activity but being out of town changed my schedule a bit.
10:15 p.m. — My go-to fro yo place is closed. I drive to a Target twenty minutes away and search for some dessert. I am the only person in the store other than the employees. I find Yasso frozen yogurt pops, coffee chocolate chip flavor. I eat two on the drive home. $4
Daily Total: $10.12
7:30 a.m. — Greek yogurt and banana from work fridge for breakfast, both purchased last week.
12 p.m. — I have a lunch meeting at a Starbucks near my house, which is 15 minutes from work. At 12:10 I find out the other attendee can’t make it; apparently her assistant was supposed to call to let me know, but that didn’t happen. Regret sitting alone with a drink for no reason at all ($1.57 + $1 tip). $2.57
12:45 p.m.— Kitchen sink salad at work with communal olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
5 p.m. — Paleo casserole for dinner. It turned out way better than I anticipated.
7:45 p.m. — Purchase two parenting books, used, from Amazon. Both books are for me; I am preparing to become a single mother by choice in the next year! I will be moving $6,000 of my savings to a fund to save for this, and plan to contribute $250 from each paycheck going forward. $10
8-10 p.m. — Hang out with the cats, read, play Words With Friends, go to bed by 10.
Daily Total: $12.57
5:55 a.m. — Wake up to no cooking gas. Call the emergency maintenance line and learn of a recent gas leak that has forced a gas shutoff to units in my specific building. Awesome.
7:30 a.m. — Microwave (my own) eggs at work with communal pretzels on the side.
12 p.m. — Kitchen sink salad. Walk to the liquidation store next door to get my daily dessert: toasted, salted coconut chips. $0.95
1:30-5 p.m. — I spend the time between seeing patients re-structuring my budget and changing my savings allocations for 2017. I create new sub-accounts to save for a future house, a future kid, and a new car (mine is 12 years old and has over 200,000 miles on it).
6 p.m. — Cold paleo casserole dinner.
7 p.m. — Full body workout; cold shower. Blargh.
8:30 p.m. — Chat with friends on the phone, read, indulge in Words With Friends, and play with the cats. Look up flights to Iceland in the spring. Watch an episode of vintage Sex and the City on Amazon Prime. Miranda continues to be amazing. Yes!! Bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $0.95
5:55 a.m. — Wake up, catch up on Marc and Angel (life coaches with a website), and set my intentions for the day. I want to focus on positivity, peace, gra— FUCK!! Still no hot water or gas. Try to focus on not being pissed. Cooking breakfast is out of the question. I settle for a smoothie of frozen bananas, almond milk and some silken tofu in a tetra pack from my pantry that expired last month. It smells and looks just fine, and tastes alright, so in it goes. The resulting texture resembles school glue and tastes similar. Developed World problems. I dump in some cinnamon and agave syrup. I chug, complete oral hygiene, and head to work. Grateful I was able to bathe last night. Remind myself that having any water at all is a luxury that many don’t get to enjoy.
7:20 a.m. — I immediately raid the work fridge, find my Greek yogurt and eat that with communal pretzels. Ah, real food. Human again.
7:30 to 11:30 a.m. — Dentistry. Manage expectations; find new ways of saying, “I am so sorry, I can’t really give you a facelift,” as patients complain about their aging faces and explain how they want/expect their new teeth to erase the drooping and wrinkles. In between patients, I return emails, make phone calls, confirm my open-enrollment healthcare benefit elections for 2017. I also speak to management at my apartment complex to secure a hot shower in an unoccupied unit.
11:45 a.m. — Lunch of kitchen sink salad with poached chicken.
12-1 p.m. — Rescheduled meeting from Wednesday at Starbucks. Repeat order of my fancy drink. Kids’ cocoa ($1.57; formerly-absentee attendee kindly pays).
1:30 to 7:30 p.m. — Dentistry. Manage expectations. Deliver smiles. Chat about grandkids, dogs, and Social Security. I stay late to finish notes and tidy the office.
8 p.m. — Pick up five avocados from Food City, a grocery store chain in the Valley that never disappoints when it comes to insanely cheap produce. $2
9 p.m. — Flop in a pile on my bed with the cats (who look like they haven’t moved all day). Make a list of my evening tasks but accomplish nothing. I dig into my (cold) paleo casserole, read for a couple hours, scowl at my Words With Friends tiles, and go to sleep.
Daily Total: $2
7 a.m. — Wake up thrilled to see my best friend later. The gas and hot water have not yet been restored. Humph. I play with the cats, eat a banana, and complete a couple online stretch and cardio workouts. Since I have more energy on days off, I also take a quick jog outside. I shower in the unoccupied unit, then decide that since it has gas, I will cook there, too. Breakfast is scrambled eggs and almond milk. Yes, I am squatting, but I do not care.
10 a.m. — I start the drive to Mesa, A.Z. for my brow appointment. Gridlock on the freeway. Cancel the appointment. My brows are violently bushy, but I am okay with it.
10:30 a.m. — Fill up my car with gas. This is my first fill up in two weeks — I’m all puffed up over my clunker’s excellent mileage ($20). Grab a gas station coffee as well ($1.68). Head to Payson, AZ, to meet my bestie. $21.68
1 p.m. — My friend, her husband and I meet at a diner on Route 260. We order a disgusting/amazing amount of food: onion rings, chicken wings, a jalapeño omelet, turkey burger, potato salad and both cherry pie and banana cream pie, as well as iced tea. I insist on paying. $60.15
3 p.m. — Barely able to walk, we basically roll out of the diner and to a nearby park, where we take a few strolls around the lake.
5 p.m. — I stop by TJs to pick up groceries for the week: organic, free range chicken thighs, greens, goat cheese, salad and smoked salmon ($22). I will use these items and quinoa at home to make stir fry for dinner and salad for lunch. Next, I stop at Sprouts for cucumbers, seaweed, apples, bulk Italian seasoning and bulk dark chocolate-covered honeycomb ($3.50). $25.50
7 p.m. — I prepare all my meals for the upcoming week. Too stuffed to eat dinner. Polish off some leftover onion rings anyway. Then do an online core workout, and have a phone catch-up with friends.
9:30 p.m. — Shower (in unoccupied unit), read, play Words With Friends, and go to bed by 11:30.
Daily Total: $107.33
A marketing professional getting pedicures instead of therapy.
Age: Late 20s
Salary: $106,820 (includes annual bonus)
Paycheck: $2321.36 every other week + additional annual bonus lump sum. Paychecks are minus vision, dental, and health insurance and are after a 6% contribution to my 401k is also taken out (company matches).
Rent: $1,500 (includes water, sewage, trash, unlimited coffee, pool, gym and social events). Boyfriend pays a portion ($500 a month) since he stays over a lot.
Renters insurance: $173 a year
Car payment: $550 a month (pay more than the minimum to try to pay off quicker)
Car insurance: $1044 per year
Student loans: $470 a month (pay more than required to try to pay off quicker)
Internet: $52.44 a month
Power: usually $65 a month
Netflix: boyfriend pays
Satellite radio: $10 a month
Phone bill: free (work pays)
Savings: For emergency fund, travel, and paying off student loans — whatever is leftover at the end of the month and most of bonuses.
10:30 a.m. — Holiday. I get up and make some brunch for me and my boyfriend. I have bacon, an egg, and a small bowl of oatmeal, and some French press coffee from groceries I bought the day before. My boyfriend gives me $20 toward the groceries I bought the day before, since he’ll be snacking on some of them this week. +$20
12:15 p.m. — Grab some beer at Publix. $10.69
1:30 p.m. — Hang out with friends who have brought along some snacks. Then I take a quick nap and get ready for evening festivities.
6 p.m. — Buy salsa and guacamole to share, as well as a Publix sub for a gathering. $14.89
6:45 p.m. — Fill up my car with gas. I usually only fill up about once every two weeks unless I’m traveling out of the city. $28.98
8 p.m. — Join friends for the party. They’ve supplied communal tortilla chips, desserts, and beer.
Daily Total: $54.56
7:30 a.m. — Make a smoothie with blueberries, strawberries, mango and a banana for breakfast. I have a smoothie most days, so I buy frozen fruit in bulk and get fresh bananas each week. I use water for a base instead of juice.
9 a.m. — Breakfast get-together at Starbucks for work. I grab a croissant and a skim latte. I pay for everyone with my corporate card. $32.57 (free).
12 p.m. — Lunch meeting with some colleagues. I have a grilled chicken salad and a bottled water. I pay with my corporate card for the group since I called the meeting. $36.88 (free).
5:30 p.m. — I go walk around a mall after work and end up getting some yoga pants with a $100 gift card I’ve been hanging onto from Lululemon. I pay the difference. I keep walking around the mall to browse some more stores, but end up going home without anything else. $4.86
7:30 p.m. — I try to eat my leftover Publix sub from the night before but it’s soggy. So, I snack on some yogurt and a fruit and chia Kind bar and watch P retty Little Liars(guilty pleasure).
Daily Total: $4.86
7:30 a.m. — Smoothie with leftover yogurt, banana, strawberries and blueberries for breakfast.
12 p.m. — Go to grab lunch for myself and my boss. Use a free salad coupon I got from a recent Chick-fil-A opening. Buy a sweet tea and cover what’s left of the cost of my boss’s order beyond the cash he gave me. $5.79
6:15 p.m. — Get a pedicure after work. I treat myself every few weeks because there’s a 20-minute head, neck, shoulder and upper back massage included so it’s definitely worth it. And cheaper than therapy… $42
8:15 p.m. — Go home and eat a Lean Cuisine enchilada meal that I doctor with more salsa and some black beans I have in the fridge. I clean up my apartment, take a bath, and do a face mask before going to bed early.
Daily Total: $47.79
7 a.m. — Another smoothie for breakfast. I’m working from home this morning so I make an egg and English muffin too.
12:30 p.m. — Networking lunch with a colleague at my company who my mentor wanted me to meet. I get a veggie sandwich and a sparkling water. He pays with his corporate card.
1:45 p.m. — I’m out of normal shampoo and dry shampoo, so I stop by Sephora on my way to my next meeting. I only buy shampoo about once every six months, and I only use dry shampoo in a pinch, so this is a rare expense. $51.96
2:30 p.m. — I go to an all afternoon offsite meeting in Buckhead. We close the day with a networking and happy hour, complete with two glasses of wine and a few appetizers.
7:30 p.m. — I jet out to go home and take a long walk around the neighborhood.
9 p.m. — Snack on some pretzel chips and hummus and spend some quality time with Netflix.
Daily Total: $51.96
8 a.m — Another smoothie and a Kind bar for breakfast.
1 p.m. — We have a half day so I take off to go home after my meetings, but end up working the whole afternoon anyway, just not at the office.
3:30 p.m. — I finally eat lunch. I grab a Jersey Mike’s mini turkey sandwich and baked Lays to go. $6.69
7:45 p.m. — My friends and I meet up to go look at the shops and check out an art installation at Ponce City Market. We grab dinner at a Mexican restaurant afterward. I order two tacos and two margaritas. $29.90
Daily Total: $36.59
9:30 a.m. — I make a smoothie for breakfast and go to the gym at my apartment for a short workout.
7 p.m. — My boyfriend and I go to a shower for a friend’s wedding. I got her a present beforehand, so I didn’t have to shop for it today. I have a few too many glasses of wine and snack on some appetizers at the party.
11:15 p.m. — After the party, my boyfriend is still hungry, so we go to Waffle House and share a waffle and hashbrowns and he gets a coffee. We split the bill. $5
Daily Total: $5
10:30 a.m. — I treat my boyfriend to breakfast at the Flying Biscuit because I’m slightly hungover and want a biscuit. We both get coffee and he gets an omelet and green beans and I get scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, and grits. And we both have biscuits. $42.64
12 p.m. — We go walking at a local park.
2:15 p.m. — I take a nap because…Sunday.
6 p.m. — My friend comes over to my apartment and we walk across the street to grab a quick bite at a sandwich shop. We share a turkey sandwich and some chips. She pays.
7 p.m. — We go to a concert to see two bands I bought tickets for the week before. She gives me cash for her ticket (+$40). I end up springing for a Lyft to and from the venue because we find out parking is really expensive there. $37.29
Daily Total: $79.93
A tech writer living in a glorified studio and learning to play the ukulele.
Industry: Technology Content Creator/Writer
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $103,000 + with up to 20% annual bonus.
Paycheck (semi-monthly): $2,435.94 (after taxes, health care/life/disability insurance, 401(k) contributions)
# of roommates: 0
Rent: $1,425. I live in an “open bedroom” apartment, meaning I have a bedroom with sliding doors to enclose the space. It’s pretty much a glorified studio.
Utilities (gas, water, garbage, electricity): Varies based on monthly usage. Roughly $40-$60.
Transportation: Free work shuttle and bus card provided by my employer. I pay $157.10 for monthly car payments and about $30-$50 for gas depending on how much I drive monthly. Car insurance is paid every six months so don’t consider it a monthly expense.
Phone Bill: $80 (on a family plan with fiancé; the $80 covers 4GB of data and the monthly lease on my iPhone 6S)
Savings: $1,287.50 (15%) into my Roth (after-tax) account, additional $200-$250 in personal savings account
Apple Music: $10.94
Gym Membership: $29.99
Credit Card Payments: $500-600
Student Loan Payment: $300
7:30 a.m. — Take the free work shuttle into the office like I usually do on most work mornings. This is one of my favorite work perks.
8:30 a.m. — I grab free coffee and milk from the kitchenette after arriving to work. The milk is used for cereal I keep in my office for a quick work breakfast.
12 p.m. — I usually eat in our work cafeteria since my employer provides subsidized lunches. The food is pretty decent here; there’s a lot of variety and fresh ingredients are prioritized. But today, I need to refill my work badge (which I use to pay for my lunches) with money and put $50 on it. This should last me a little under two weeks. For today’s lunch, I get a bowl of roasted tomato soup and olive/rosemary bread for $4.15. It’s covered by the balance on my badge. $50
7 p.m. — Leftovers from last night for dinner: rice, veggies, and salmon.
8:30 p.m. — After working out, I stop by Trader Joe’s, which is right next to my gym. I pick up some veggies, bananas, milk, eggs, guac and chips, and two bottles of red wine to have on retainer. $24.05
Daily Total: $74.05
7 a.m. — I have an eye appointment this afternoon so I drive into work instead of taking the work shuttle. There’s a toll but I have an electronic pass with preloaded funds.
1 p.m. — I’m lunching at a different cafeteria on campus today, and it seems like the food is pricier than my usual café. I get some fruit, greens, grilled tilapia, and roasted veggies from the hot foods bar. It’s $6.72 but I use my work badge to cover it.
5:30 p.m. — Eye doctor appointment but no co-pay needed. My employer should cover most of the visit; I’ll find out if I need to pay more when I get the bill in the mail.
6 p.m. — There’s a Target next to the eye doctor and I want to pick up some snacks for my office. I get trail mix, sweet and salty Boomchicka popcorn (which I am addicted to!), and nuts. $10.27
6:30 p.m. — Today is my two-year anniversary with my fiancé. We want to be casual this year, so we go to one of our favorite Italian places with reasonably priced dishes. He brings me flowers and covers drinks as we wait for our table. For dinner, we split a small Caesar salad, and I get spaghetti bolognese while he orders spaghetti and meatballs. Since he brought flowers and paid for drinks earlier, I get dinner. $40.84. There’s a classic photo booth here and we take photos to commemorate the evening. It’s $4.44 for a photo strip and I pay for this. $45.28
Daily Total: $55.55
7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. — Work shuttle, coffee, and cereal routine.
1:30 p.m. — My team and I recently finished the launch of a new project, and our project manager takes us out for lunch to celebrate. We head to a local Japanese restaurant and I order a bento box with sashimi, gyoza, miso soup, and salad. It’s a good team outing and we all enjoy ourselves.
7:00 p.m. — I make an omelet with mushrooms and arugula at home for dinner (thanks, Trader Joe’s). I also snack on guac and chips.
Daily Total: $0
7:45 a.m. — I have a doctor’s appointment today (it’s a wellness week for me!) so I drive to work again. It’s pretty rare for me to drive to work, let alone twice in one week.
8:30 a.m. — Coffee, coffee, coffee. Plus nuts from Target for breakfast.
12 p.m. — I go for my usual work lunch at the cafeteria: the salad bar. I load up on fresh greens, edamame beans, black beans, a little quinoa, grilled chicken, tofu and olive oil/balsamic dressing on the side. This comes out to $4.61, but I use my work badge to pay for it.
3 p.m. — I head in for my doctor’s appointment (no co-pay) and I park in the building’s garage. Parking: $2
5 p.m. — I start the weekend with happy hour at a new Korean/Mexican fusion place near my apartment. The fiancé and I order fried rice, chicken wings, fries, and Kalbi ribs. A honey ginger cider for me, and two beers for him. I cover this meal. $36.55
Daily Total: $38.55
9:30 a.m. — Up early on a Saturday, so we grab breakfast at one of my favorite greasy spoon diners: hash browns, two over-easy eggs, bacon and a bagel for him while I get two Swedish pancakes. I pay for the breakfast and the street parking ($1.50). He covers the meal’s tip and the coffees we grab after. $27.97
10:30 a.m. — I’m currently teaching myself to play the ukulele. It’s my first time on a string instrument and, even though I’m training myself to play with my fingers, I want to try using a pick to alleviate some of the pain I have while playing. We stop by a local guitar store where I have to pay for street parking again (.50 cents). The picks are only sold in packs… They suggest Dunlop, which my fiancé later tells me is one of the nicer and pricier brands. This is way more than I wanted to pay, but I’m basically paying for the convenience here. $7.07
4:30 p.m. — Some friends invite me to a festival and, after working out earlier this afternoon, I arrive famished. I get a hot dog loaded up with raw onions, relish, mustard, and ketchup. $6
5 p.m. — We’re craving beer so we duck into a local microbrewery for drinks. I have two beers. The beer is pricier here, but they specialize in imports and microbrews so it’s to be expected. Also, welcome to Seattle. $17.54
6 p.m. — Still hungry so I get some grilled corn from one of the vendors at the festival. Love roasted corn! $4
7:50 p.m. — Our main plans for tonight are watching a scary movie with friends. I love scary movies. I get tickets for my fiancé and me while he picks up the snacks and drinks from concessions. $25.28
10:30 p.m. — Filled up on theater popcorn. No real dinner for this evening.
Daily Total: $87.86
9:30 a.m. — Wake up and eat some leftovers from yesterday’s breakfast.
12 p.m. — I bought vindaloo curry from Costco a few weeks ago and decide to eat it for lunch today. Even with my fiance’s help, there’s a ton of leftovers. I’ll be eating this for dinner the next few days.
3 p.m. — I have some red wine on my rooftop. I open up a bottle from my Trader Joe’s haul earlier this week.
7:30 p.m. — I often visit my grandma at the nursing home on Sundays and today is one of those days. On the drive home, my gas light turns on so I grab some gas at a nearby Shell station. Since this Shell is in downtown Seattle proper, it’s way more than I like to pay for regular gas ($2.79/gallon). I only get 2.5 gallons to tide me over until I can get some at a cheaper station. $7.05
8 p.m. — Out for dinner at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the neighborhood. I order a Chinese-Vietnamese noodle dumpling soup while my fiancé gets beef pho. I pay for the meal. $25.38
Daily Total: $32.43
7:42 a.m. — Shuttling it to work. I’m very tired today and make a beeline for the coffee once I’m in the office.
9 a.m. — Busy prepping for a video shoot this afternoon, so I make a random breakfast out of snacks in my office—namely the popcorn and trail mix I brought from last week. Not the most balanced breakfast, but could be worse.
12 p.m. — Still anxious about the video shoot, so I rush to the cafeteria to pick up a small green salad and tomato soup before heading back to my office. The total is $4.15, but I use my work badge to pay.
4 p.m. — One of my colleagues is handing out dark chocolate bars that his son gave him. After a busy afternoon of shooting, I eat the chocolate bar as a snack and as a stress reliever from the work day.
6:30 p.m. — Leftover vindaloo curry and rice for dinner. Strawberries and blueberries, which my mom gave me yesterday during my visit to the nursing home, make up dessert.
Daily Total: $0
A designer getting over Fitbit FOMO with a 15-minute restaurant rule.
Industry: Designer in Tech
Location : San Francisco
Age : 30
Salary: $105,000 + $15,000 bonus
Paycheck: $2,426 biweekly (after taxes + insurance deducted)
Rent: $670 each (rent-controlled one-bedroom for eight years)
Health + dental: $426 (company plan with bf on it; used to be $152, which was cheaper and better than bf’s work plan; company significantly raised premiums on spouses/partners after bf’s open enrollment ended so he’s stuck on my plan for now)
Mom’s health insurance: $60 (shared cost w/ siblings)
Student loans: $124
Transportation: $111 (car insurance); $70 (Muni bus pass)
Utilities: $85 each
Mobile phone: $55 (family plan w/ siblings)
Savings: $2,000 for a downpayment; $300 travel; $200 retirement. I used to make half my current income a few years ago, but I’ve kept the same lifestyle to save up for a downpayment.
11 a.m. — Make Earl Grey tea and avocado toast topped with honey and chili flakes using my last avocado. Bought five avocados for $1 at an Asian market earlier this week. I’ve had it five days in a row and now I’m kind of sick of avocado toast.
12 p.m. — Bus downtown to return a jacket at Nordstrom. Bought the same jacket online in two different sizes. I’m returning the smaller one. $98.10 refund.
2 p.m. — Head to an Asian market to stock up my pantry and freezer and buy ingredients to make dry egg noodles for dinner during the work week. $28.82
4 p.m. — Marinate pork shoulder and refrigerate for two days.
5 p.m. — 30-minute yoga in my living room from the BrettLarkinYoga channel on YouTube (streamed from Roku). I’m too lazy to go to a gym and am more likely to workout if it’s really convenient, like in my living room or walking everywhere.
7 p.m. — Take the bus to my friend’s place then walk to his go-to semi-Mexican neighborhood spot Green Chile Kitchen. My friends and I only eat at places with a wait under 15 minutes with pretty good food. We have low tolerance for waiting in super long lines for the best of the best. I order a green chile quesadilla and water. $10.15
8 p.m. — Head to Mini Bar to learn about the current girl he’s dating over a glass of wine. $8
9 p.m. — Don’t want to walk to the bus stop with this freezing wind hitting my face. Uberpool home. I have two $5 Uber credits this weekend. My Uberpool is $4.75, so it ends up being free. My boyfriend’s working late every day this week. He gets home from an exhausting day and we watch Daredevil over a glass of wine.
Daily Total: $46.97
10 a.m. — Hang out with family in the suburbs this afternoon. My car has a third tank of gas, so I fill up on the way there. I always fill up at quarter to half tank. $19.76
11:30 a.m. — My mom makes us rice rolls with ham, lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, and fish sauce with mango for dessert. After lunch we plan what to cook for my brother’s upcoming engagement party. I volunteer to make garlic noodles. It’s a solid crowdpleaser at potlucks.
4 p.m. — Having an early dinner in North Beach with a friend. Bussing it there would take a really long time and we don’t want to deal with finding parking, so she meets up at my place to share an Uberpool (I still have a $5 credit). I pay for the ride there and she pays for the ride back. We bum around North Beach before dinner. $6.13
5 p.m. — I get pesto gnocchi and water at The Italian Homemade Company. Their fresh pasta is delicious! I need to come back for their lasagna. $15.69
6 p.m. — We hang out some more at a coffee shop. I get lemonade and a pastry. $7.75
10 p.m. — Boyfriend gets home and we relax with sheet masks on while I shop for household stuff on Jet — $29.02 on tampons, $15.75 on body wash, $10.45 on instant ramen. $55.22
Daily Total: $104.55
8:30 a.m. — Cheerios with milk at home and tea in the office. I have this same breakfast every workday and never get sick of it.
12 p.m. — Quick lunch from the salad bar at a nearby supermarket. $4.55
6 p.m. — Get home and pop the marinating pork shoulder in the oven. Then 30 minutes of arms, abs, legs workout from the RebeccaLouise channel on YouTube.
7:30 p.m. — My dry egg noodles turn out as good as my mom’s! Looking forward to having this meal three more times this week.
Daily Total: $4.55
9 a.m. — Running late so I skip breakfast and make iced tea in the office on this hot day.
12 p.m. — Celebrating a teammate’s birthday with an expensed lunch at a Thai restaurant. I get Thai iced tea and mango chicken curry with rice.
6:30 p.m. — Take the bus to a design lecture. The lecture ticket is $20, but covered by work.
9:30 p.m. — My big lunch did a good job holding off hunger. Get home and manage to assemble yesterday’s dry egg noodles in 15 minutes. Still delicious on the second day!
Daily Total: $0
8:30 a.m. — Same breakfast and ice tea.
12 p.m. — Spicy California roll from the nearby supermarket. $5.99
6:30 p.m. — Boyfriend gets home early. It’s a warm beautiful day and he feels like taking a long stroll to find dinner. We end up at Kezar Pizzetta splitting a caprese salad and prosciutto pizza with water. He pays with his card and I Venmo half. $18.18
7:30 p.m. — Craving ice cream so I get a butterscotch scoop at The Ice Cream Bar. $4
11 p.m. — My friends keep talking about their Fitbit challenges and encouraging me to get one. I’m usually resistant to FOMO, but it sounds like they’re having a lot of fun competing with each other. I’ve had a Fitbit sitting in my Amazon “Save for later” for a month. Decide to finally add it to my cart. $87.04
11:30 p.m. — Running out of face wash, so I add rice water oil and foam cleanser ($16.62) to my Amazon cart along with more socks ($10.50). $27.12
Daily Total: $142.33
8:30 a.m. — Same ol’ breakfast and hot tea.
12 p.m. — Lunch with my co-worker at a Vietnamese restaurant. We get spring rolls and water. I pay the bill and she Venmos me half. $9
3 p.m. — Spend my break walking to CVS for cotton balls. $4.34
6:30 p.m. — 30-minute yoga living room workout from the BrettLarkinYoga channel.
7:30 p.m. — Make dry egg noodles again. Not sick of it yet!
Daily Total: $13.34
8:30 a.m. — More Cheerios, milk, and tea! Working from home today.
12 p.m. — Last day of dry egg noodles. Finally bored of it.
4 p.m. — I have a migraine so I leave my apartment for some fresh air. Grab a caramelized honey latte at Starbucks then take a long stroll through the SF Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park. It’s peacefully quiet on weekday evenings and free for SF residents. $4.25
7 p.m. — Woke up from a long nap. Still have a minor migraine. Don’t feel like cooking. Caviar delivery from A Desi Cafe. I order aloo gobi, malai kofta curry, and two naan. Portions are large enough to last another two meals. $24.06
Daily Total: $28.31
A law clerk starting her final semester of law school, living apart from her husband.
Industry: Law. I’ve worked at my firm for almost six years, and they are covering my last two years of tuition in installments over a few years. I’ll keep working there as an associate after I’m done with school. My husband just started his MBA in Philadelphia this past fall, and comes home most weekends.
Location: Washington, D.C.
Salary: $100,000 + $10,000 bonus (based on time billed over my hours requirement, which varies from year to year)
Paycheck Amount: $3050, 2x/month
# of roommates: 0-ish. My husband lives in Philadelphia for graduate school but we’re together 2-3 days/week, mostly in D.C., but sometimes in Philadelphia. Our finances used to be combined, but now are mostly separate. We plan on combining them again once he’s done with school.
Housing Costs (rent): $2213 for a studio apartment. I live two blocks from my office downtown, and the location is also really convenient to school.
Loan Payments: $0. My grandfather very generously paid for my undergraduate education; for law school, I have a partial scholarship from my school and my firm covers some of my tuition. I pay the remaining cost out of pocket.
Utilities: $35/electricity; $30 water/sewer; $135 cable/internet/DVR
Transportation: $197 car payment; $225 parking in my apartment building; $95 car insurance (This is for two cars — the one that my husband owns and I drive, and the one that I own that he drives, which I paid off after I graduated from college. The car that he drives has a lot more miles on it, so we decided that it makes sense for him to keep putting a lot of miles on that car driving between D.C. and Philly.)
Phone Bill: $68 ($113 total for me and my husband, and my firm reimburses $45)
Health Insurance: $0 (my firm covers premiums for me and my husband for medical, dental, and vision)
Savings? $430/month into my 401K (including $180 from my firm; I plan on increasing my contribution once I’m done with school and don’t have to pay tuition); $1600/month goes into my savings account, which I use for both short-term expenses like traveling and tuition/books, and long-term savings
Renter’s Insurance and Personal Property Insurance: $48
Washington Post Subscription (Sundays and online): $11
9 a.m. — I just finished my last exam for the semester last night, so I don’t have a lot of food in my apartment. Go to Starbucks for some coffee and an apple fritter on the way to work ($5.17). A restaurant that just opened nearby is passing out free pastries in the lobby of my apartment, so I also grab a piece of pound cake for later. $5.17
1 p.m. — Not super hungry for lunch, so I just eat the free pound cake.
7:30 p.m. — Go to Target. I’m going to my grandparents’ house this weekend, so I get some candy and a few bottles of wine to bring with me, along with some groceries to get me through the rest of the week. I buy ground turkey, clementines, ginger ale, salad mix, cereal, a frozen meal, a six-pack of beer, and some cookie dough that I stick in the freezer for next week. I also buy a sweater (only $14!), a grout brush for cleaning my bathroom, and a $50 gift card for my secretary’s holiday gift. All in, including the $1.50 I pay to park, I spend $166.16.
9 p.m. — Make the ground turkey, and set some aside for tomorrow’s lunch. Then I add some taco seasoning to the rest of it and heat up frozen rice from Trader Joe’s, and top it all with some salsa I have in the fridge. It makes two servings, so I put one in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner, and eat the other one for dinner with one of the beers I bought at Target. I’m used to eating around 9/9:30 because I eat dinner when I get home from school, but I hope I can get back onto a normal schedule over the next few weeks while I don’t have class.
Daily Total: $171.33
7:30 a.m. — Eat a bowl of cinnamon Chex with cashew milk and heat up some turkey sausage links from the freezer. I fill up a travel mug with Starbucks coffee from my apartment lobby on my way out the door — it’s free until 10 a.m. My sleep schedule is all messed up from studying for finals so I need the caffeine today!
8:30 a.m. — I sold one of my textbook supplements on Amazon overnight, so I package it up to send to the buyer. I pay $2.50 for shipping, but I made $17 selling the book.
12:30 p.m. — Eat the salad I put together this morning, which is sort of a hodgepodge of what I had in my refrigerator — salad mix and ground turkey, grated parmesan cheese, some salad dressing, two small pears and some broccoli that I got from my CSA about two weeks ago. I had grand visions of eating really healthy snacks while I studied for finals, but I didn’t, so now I have a bag each of quickly ripening pears and apples, and a bunch of broccoli. Oops.
1:30 p.m. — Take a quick break from work to download a few Kindle books for the trip to and from Pittsburgh this weekend. I use the e-book service from my public library, so they are all free. When I’m not reading for school or work, I like to read really fluffy fiction books. I go through them pretty quickly, so discovering that I could borrow e-books from the library has probably saved me an embarrassing amount of money over the past few years.
5:15 p.m. — Eat two clementines I brought from home while I wait on my boss to review and approve a project that I need to send to our client tonight. I also review and submit my billable time for the week while I wait.
7:45 p.m. — I get to my parent’s house, about an hour away from my apartment. They already had dinner, but I brought my turkey/rice leftovers with me, so I eat that.
9 p.m. — My dad won a new iPad at his company’s holiday party, so he gives his current one to my mom. My iPad is around 6 years old and is starting to have some battery charging problems, so I buy my mom’s old iPad as a replacement since it’s two generations newer than mine. I look up the trade-in value on a few websites, and we settle on $80.
Daily Total: $82.50
8 a.m. — Have a few cups of coffee at my parents’ house from their Keurig. We’re all running late getting ready to leave for Pittsburgh — we originally planned to leave at 10 a.m. I talk with my grandmother for a while about the knee replacement surgery she’s having this week. She lives in an in-law suite that my parents built in the lower level of their house. I give her some really cozy socks with little non-slip grip things on the bottom that she can wear while she recovers as a pre-surgery gift. I picked up the socks for her while I was shopping a few weeks ago.
12:30 p.m. — Finally get on the road and stop at McDonald’s for lunch. I have a double cheeseburger and a small fries. My dad pays.
5 p.m. — Get to Pittsburgh, and my grandmother has chili waiting for us for dinner. Some of my cousins and aunts and uncles are already there, and we all drink wine and catch up. We take our annual family picture with all of the cousins once everyone arrives, and then some pictures with significant others, children, etc. My husband arrives from Philadelphia around 6 p.m. We have a lot of appetizers that my grandmother makes every year, and everyone has their favorite — mine are the pierogies!
8 p.m. —My dad’s birthday is this week, and my grandmother made him a cake. We sing him happy birthday, he blows out the candles.
Daily Total: $0
8:45 a.m. — We leave my grandparents’ house to get on the road, and I say goodbye to my husband. He’s going straight back to Philadelphia, but he’ll be back in D.C. in a few days after his exams are done. We stop at Panera for breakfast, and I get a pumpkin pie bagel. It’s unexpectedly free because it turns out that my mom has a deal for one free bagel a day during the month of December at Panera with her rewards card. I also get a black coffee, and my mom pays.
2 p.m. — On the way back to DC, I see a Lenox warehouse that has a small storefront from the highway. I convince my family that we should go check it out, and we make a detour. Best decision ever. Lenox makes Kate Spade’s housewares line, and they have some of the pieces from a line that I love. When I was getting married a few years ago, I fell in love with this china pattern, but ultimately decided against registering for china. I was just paid my annual bonus earlier this week, and decide to go for it. I buy almost everything in the pattern that they have in the store, and the store is ordering the rest of the pieces to complete a 12-person set from other stores. I pay $250.65 for the pieces that I’m able to take today, and I’ll pay around $150 for the other pieces when I pick them up in a few weeks. My receipt says that I saved $1332.28 (what?!?!!). The china is still full price on the Kate Spade website, so after we get back on the road, I calculate my overall savings on the entire set, and I’m saving 85%. I love that I’ll be able to use this china for future special occasions and know that I bought it with my first “real” bonus. $250.65
5 p.m. — After we get back to my parents’ house, my dad goes back out and gets cheeseburgers for everyone from a local place. I go with my mom’s recommendation and get a bacon cheeseburger. My dad pays.
5:30 p.m. — Since I won’t be at my parents’ house later in the week for my dad’s birthday, my mom, sister, grandmother, and I give him our gifts after we’re done eating. My dad is really into cycling, and my husband and I bought him a cycling jacket as a combined birthday and Christmas present, and I had my husband buy him a pound of coffee from this great place in Philly so that he has something from us to open for his birthday.
6:15 p.m. — Drive back home; I make a cup of tea to drink on the way.
8 p.m. — After unpacking and getting my laundry started, I put in a few hours of work and eat a clementine and drink another cup of tea before going to bed.
Daily Total: $250.65
8:30 a.m. — Eat a bowl of cinnamon Chex and cashew milk for breakfast. I bring a mug to grab coffee from my lobby on my way out to work, but the machine is broken.
9:30 a.m. — Get a cup of coffee from my office’s kitchen after responding to emails that came in overnight.
10 a.m. — I sold another textbook over the weekend, so I buy postage for $5.06. I made $128.30 from selling the book, though. So glad to be rid of my Federal Courts book — it was my least favorite class last semester.
11 a.m. — Decide to surprise my husband with tickets to a movie he has been wanting to see. It’s not showing at our go-to movie theater, so I decide to get tickets for the IMAX theater at the Air and Space Museum for this upcoming weekend since we live within walking distance of the National Mall. With transaction fees, the total is $35.
12 p.m. — Grab a sandwich from a nearby cafe for $8.16.
6:45 p.m. — A friend from high school and his girlfriend are in the city on vacation, and we meet up for dinner. We share a bottle of wine and some appetizers, and we each have an entree. My portion of the bill with tip comes to $75.
Daily Total: $123.22
7:30 a.m. — Drink a cup of tea, and eat a bowl of Chex with cashew milk with 3 pieces of turkey sausage.
10 a.m. — Get a notification that my ClassPass hold fee was charged to my credit card. I put it on hold because I have a voucher for a full month of classes at a nearby yoga studio that I’m planning to start after the holidays. To be on hold, I get charged $12.69, but I still get to take 1 class. I use my ClassPass at a nearby barre studio where the classes are normally $25 each, so I figure this is still worth keeping the account on hold and not fully canceling.
12 p.m. — My firm’s pro bono practice is having a luncheon. I worked on a few pro bono matters this year, and some of my friends are presenting their projects, so I go to hear more about upcoming pro bono opportunities. I have a sandwich and a cookie, and I take a bag of chips with me to eat later.
4 p.m. — Eat the bag of chips that I saved from lunch.
6:30 p.m. — My firm orders dinner for people working late every Tuesday and Thursday. Tonight’s dinner is from an Italian restaurant that’s not my favorite, but free food is better than no food! I have a piece of lasagna, some salad, and a breadstick.
9:45 p.m. — Finally home. I drink a cup of tea and catch up on some trashy TV on my DVR before going to bed.
Daily Total: $12.69
8 a.m. — Drink a cup of tea while I get ready for work.
9 a.m. — Go to Walgreens to get some birthday cards, including a belated one for a friend. I usually keep a few on hand, but my stash is running low, so I get 6 cards and a book of 20 stamps. $32.54.
9:15 a.m. — Walgreens is halfway to my favorite coffee place, so I decide to walk over there before heading to work. I get a large maple cold brew (so delicious) and a cream cheese and walnut kolache. $9.35.
1:45 p.m. — I’ve been frantically working on a last-minute assignment while coordinating a few other people’s assignments and fielding multiple emails from a client, so I didn’t even realize it was lunchtime. I need to keep working, so I order a salad from Chop’t for delivery. $14.79, including the delivery fee and tip.
7 p.m. — Get home from work and kill some time by watching TV from the DVR.
8 p.m. — My husband is finally home! For dinner, we order noodles from a place in Chinatown, and walk over together to pick it up. We also each drink a beer from the fridge at home. He pays.
Daily Total: $56.68
A woman in Brooklyn with an excellent expensing policy.
Industry: Digital Advertising
Salary: $120,000 not including bonus
Paycheck Amount (2x a month): $2,748
# of roommates: 2 (fiancé and puppy)
Rent: $1350, I pay a little less than my fiancé as I made significantly less when we first moved in, so I took on the rent increase this year (luckily only $50/month).
Loan Payments: None (went to school in state, Georgia luckily has the HOPE scholarship). I took out a personal loan when we moved but paid that off in 12 months.
Utilities: $125 for DirecTV (must have HBO); $68 for Verizon internet; typically $91 a month for gas but they overbilled me several months in a row so I haven’t had a bill since March; $81 twice a month for house cleaning (minus tip; we use Handy). My fiancé pays for electricity and renter’s insurance.
Transportation: Usually walk to work, put about $50 a month on my Metro to use on days I’m running late or when I go to my clients office in the city twice a week.
Phone Bill: $100 ($40 reimbursed from work)
Amazon Prime: $11.97
Savings: $250 per paycheck to my savings account, 12% to my 401k plus 6% company match.
OrangeTheory: $125 (you would think for $250 I would be in amazing shape but I rarely use up all of the classes allotted for either, I just can’t seem to give up one of them. Work reimburses $25 a month).
Other: $500-$750 a month towards my AmEx.
1 p.m. — First weekend home since mid-July, so we sleep in and spend the morning lounging around the house, playing with the puppy. We decide to venture out for coffee and run a few errands. He goes to Rite Aid for some toiletry items (floss, tooth paste, Q-tips, and some other items for himself). While he’s in Rite Aid, puppy and I run to Barnes and Noble so I can get my book for book club (we only read murder mysteries with a female protagonist). $19.32
1:30 p.m. — We stop by PetSmart on the way home for dog food and some bones. We typically take turns paying for dog items, but this one is pretty expensive so fiancé pays $162.
2:30 p.m. — Head out to run some non dog-friendly errands, but first get some brunch as we’re both starving. Try out a new Mexican place near the Barclays Center and we will definitely be returning. We each get cocktails, split a cheese dip, jalapeno poppers (YES) and two orders of tacos. I get brunch since he got PetSmart. $76.24
3:30 p.m. — Stop at the smoke shop next door to get a new piece for his bowl that broke ($120 for him). My only plan to rest of the day is to lounge around as much as possible. We order weed from a delivery service, which sort of weirded me out (typically we get it from his cousin so I’ve never been a part of the delivery guy interaction. Spoiled, I know). He pays $95.
7:40 p.m. — Decide to hit up the movies. I pre-order tickets so that we can leave late and skip the line. He gets us waters, popcorn, and M&M’s (my favorite movie snack). $22 for snacks, tickets were $33.30.
9:30 p.m. — After the movie we’re still hungry so we grab dinner at a favorite restaurant on the way home. Two drinks, app, and dinner for him and myself. We can’t help but stop by our favorite bakery on the way home to grab a banana pudding and a chocolate cannoli. I pick up the sweets: $10.42.
Daily Total: $139.28
9:45 a.m. — Take the pup out for a walk and stop by our favorite juice place. $19.02
10:15 a.m. — The handyman is late to fix a leak in our bathroom, so I do some Amazon shopping while I wait for him. Order a wedding gift for a friend ($57.99) and reorder my face wash and moisturizer as I am running low ($34.84.) $92.83
11:30 a.m. — I’m still hungry after my juice and make half a bagel with laughing cow cheese, smoked salmon, hard boiled egg, and dill and drink some cold brew we have in the fridge.
12:30 p.m. — Handyman is still there and puppy needs a walk, and I want to buy some fall candles, so we go to Paper Source. I pick out an overpriced (but amazing candle) and some cute napkins, but realize I left my wallet at home. Probably for the best.
3:30 p.m. — Handyman is STILL THERE so I tell him I need to go out for 45 minutes. Drop off a bag of shoes to Goodwill, a skirt to the dry cleaners ($11), and go to the fish market to get something for dinner. End up with a pound of fresh flounder ($23.70) I also swing by Michaels in hopes of finding a less expensive fall candle situation, and end up with a cute candle holder, candle, and two tea lights for cheaper than the one candle at Paper Source. Of course, it doesn’t smell nearly as good! $24.99. $59.69
6:45 p.m. — Fiancé gets home from the football game and I join him at the grocery store (mostly to sneak some stuff I want into the cart.) He gets things to make dinner and I get food to make lunch for the week: apples, feta, olives, peppers, parsley, tomatoes, avocado, carrots/celery, ice cream and fresh flowers. He pays the $77.
7:45 p.m. — I take the puppy to the park since she’s been inside all day and is in full beast mode. We stop by the wine store on the way home to grab a bottle for dinner (white fish stew in an olive tomato sauce with garlic roasted potatoes). $15.24
Daily Total: $186.78
9:30 a.m. — The handyman has to come back to do another coat of paint in the bathroom, so I work from home while he’s here. Have a slice of banana bread fiancé made last week and a glass of cold brew.
11:30 a.m. — Take the subway into the city for a meeting. They serve lunch which I wasn’t expecting but was a nice surprise!
1:30 p.m. — Stop by the office for a few meetings. Since it’s around the holidays the office is pretty empty, so I leave and work from home in the afternoon, but not after grabbing a sparkling water and a handful of M&Ms (we have pretty good office snacks, particularly the sparkling water.)
4 p.m. — Run some errands while walking the puppy since she’s been inside all day. Stop by Runner’s World for a new pair of running shoes — mine are very old and I think the cause of some lingering and annoying foot pain I’ve been having. I don’t remember sneaks costing this much, but hopefully they help. $141.54
6:45 p.m. — Try out the new shoes at an OrangeTheory class. I definitely feel good while running, but later that night my foot ends up throbbing.
8:45 p.m. — I’m on my own for dinner so I eat leftover fish soup, and crack into the ice cream we got (Boston Cream Pie from Van Leeuwen). YUM.
Daily Total: $141.54
8 a.m. — Running late (per usual) but throw a slice of banana bread in my bag before I leave the house.
8:30 a.m. — My office got a free code for a blowout at a new spot that opened in the neighborhood. The blowout was ok, I would probably go back out of convenience but maybe I need to be more specific next time. The blowout is free but I leave a cash tip. $10
9 a.m. — My foot is still killing me and traffic looks very light, so I take a Juno rather than the subway as I am working from my client’s in the city today. $10.30
9:15 a.m. — Make it to work quickly, which is good because the Starbucks line in the office takes forever. I’m really looking forward to a soy latte to go with my banana bread, plus we expense meals when we work from their office. $4.30, expensed.
12:30 p.m. — Go to the cafeteria for lunch and grab my favorite thing-a Mediterranean bowl with quinoa tabbouleh, harissa, hummus, cucumbers, and salmon, and grab a bottled water. Work expenses the $15.30.
4 p.m. — We’re all feeling the afternoon hit and head downstairs for a coffee. I contemplate a cookie but everyone else just gets drinks, and I remind myself I can have a better snack when I get home. Get an iced team to perk myself up. $2.55, expensed.
6 p.m. — I decide to skip working out to hang out on my couch and make dinner. I rarely have a night at home to myself so when I get the chance I usually am very happy to do nothing. Stop by the grocery store to get items to make dinner: chicken sausage, broccolini, mushrooms, eggs, hummus, and orzo. $37.03
Daily Total: $57.33
7 a.m. — I manage to drag myself out of bed for a 7 a.m. barre class.
9 a.m. — I make sure to leave by 9 so that puppy and I have time to stop by the park on the way to work, but halfway through her manic running and playing we get yelled at by the park ranger for being off leash. Womp. When I get to work I eat the apple and string cheese I brought and grab a sparkling water.
1 p.m. — I thought there would be leftovers from dinner, but turns out my fiancé ate all of it! Instead, I threw ingredients for a Mediterranean quinoa salad without quinoa into a bag this morning to put it over greens. I drizzle with oil and vinegar dressing I find in the kitchen at work.
3:30 p.m. — I book a flight to Nashville for my best friend’s baby’s first birthday party (makes me feel older than the thought of turning 30). Tickets are oddly expensive but she was sweet enough to get my flight there with miles so I only have to pay for a one-way flight back to NYC. $268.10
5:30 p.m. — I have to drop the pup off at home before heading out to drinks with co-workers, but I’m running late so I cab home. Luckily it’s close by. $12.82
6 p.m. — Subway to meet my coworkers at the venue, as it’s in the city and off my subway line.
11:30 p.m. — We spend basically all night there, with tons of food and booze (and the always unfortunate Fireball shot, which somehow always manages to get in my hair). We’re out with reps so everything is covered. I take a Juno home and drop off a coworker on my way, but I can expense the trip. $24.86.
Daily Total: $280.92
9:15 a.m. — It’s a little hard for me to get out of bed, but I have a 9:45 meeting, so I grab a piece of banana bread and get a coffee and a sparkling water when I get to my client’s office, which I will expense. $7.55
12:30 p.m. — There’s a Just Salad in the office cafeteria so I get a salad with quinoa, avocado, goat cheese, egg whites, and Dijon dressing, and a water bottle. $13.47, expensed.
5 p.m. — Two coworkers and I go to a Mexican restaurant downstairs to meet a sales rep for a few drinks. We have two margs and some chips and guac, and the sales rep pays.
7 p.m. — We’re having a work ladies’ night, so I get a Juno for my coworkers and I to meet the rest of the team at a restaurant in Brooklyn. $16.70, expensed.
9:30 p.m. — The night is a lot of fun. We have pizza and wine and then go to a bar next door for a few more drinks. I’m not sure who picks up the tab, but it will be covered through work.
11 p.m. — I do something I rarely do after 10 p.m. which is take the subway home, but it’s only one stop and it seems silly not to.
Daily Total: $0
10 a.m. — I have an 11 a.m. meeting at the client’s, so instead of going into work I do some work from home before heading to their office. I’m feeling a little hungover but not in the mood for a latte, so I get a Venti passion iced tea. $2.55, expensed.
12 p.m. — All of us from the meeting share a cab back to the office, which another guy on the team pays for.
12:30 p.m. — We have a lunch meeting with a potential vendor we would work with. They bring in some non-appetizing sandwiches, and I have half a turkey wrap and grab a sparkling water from the fridge.
4:30 p.m. — We have another sales rep meeting, but this time we keep the meeting short and head to an outdoor bar down the street for drinks and appetizers. We each have two drinks and split some apps, covered by the vendor.
8 p.m. — Fiancé and I meet another couple with all the dogs at our favorite BBQ spot. Not in a huge mood for drinking so I have a glass of wine, and together the four of us split ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings, and the most insanely delicious cheeseburger. The boys split the bill.
10 p.m. — We can’t go to Gowanus and not stop by Ample Hills (plus we have an insane ice cream addiction), so I get a cone for myself and fiancé. $12.47
Daily Total: $12.47
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