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 judicial assistant working in government who makes $63,216 per year and spends some of her money this week on In-N-Out.
Occupation: Judicial Assistant
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,808.60
Rent: $0 (I'm living with my parents.)
Car Payment: $716.74
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $0 (Covered by work.)
Cell Phone: $0 (My dad pays as part of our agreement where I do some work for him.)
Netflix: $0 (I use my girlfriend's account, since she gets it for free as part of her T-Mobile plan.)
Hulu: $0.99 (Black Friday promo)
Electricity Bill For Car Charger: $40-$50
Parking: $95 (It's the price you pay for working downtown.)
Car Insurance: $123.56
Stash App Investments: $50
Retirement: 4% of salary pre-tax, with a 4% company match
Roth IRA: $200
Savings: $1,600 ($800 per paycheck auto-deducts into my savings.)
6 a.m. — I wake up with a nasty migraine. I roll over to my flu-infested girlfriend, A., who rubs my head in an attempt to ease the pain to no avail. I sluggishly get dressed while A. insists on making breakfast for me. I pop my prescribed migraine pill, wash it down with instant coffee, and gobble up my breakfast burrito loaded with eggs, cheese, and zucchini. A. hands me a plastic bag with lunch before giving me a kiss and sending me on my way.
7:30 a.m. — I arrive at work and start prepping for the day. My workload is light today, since it's New Year's Eve.
10 a.m. — I have some free time before the jury trial in my courtroom resumes, so I do what I do best when I'm bored: eat. I tear open my favorite Japanese snack, Chocorooms, which are crispy chocolate-shaped mushrooms crackers. I purchased a whole box from Costco last month, and I use all my willpower to resist eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
12 p.m. — I call my best friend to wish her a happy birthday and set a reminder on my phone to buy her a gift. I'm a horrible friend. I warm up the lunch that A. packed, which is her leftover remedy soup. Over the weekend, her aunt made a huge pot of “Mexican remedy soup” consisting of chicken, various vegetables, and special ingredients supposedly to help cure her of the flu. All I can say is…she's still sick. But the soup is tasty!
1:40 p.m. — I split open another pack of Chocorooms and happily enjoy it before resuming the trial.
3:30 p.m. — The trial finally ends for the day. I eat two Cutie mandarins from the bag my mom got for me last week.
4 p.m. — I finish my work and pack to start New Year's Eve!
5:30 p.m. — I arrive at A.'s house and ask her the question of the day: “What do you want to eat?” It usually takes us a couple hours of going back and forth before deciding. Our longest conversations might just be about what to eat.
5:45 p.m. — I drive around the corner to a local burger joint and order a cheeseburger, cheese fries, onion rings, and small Coke for us to share. I pay the $13.02 on our joint credit card (we split payment in half) so we can take advantage of the 2% back in reward points. I like to benefit from credit card points, so I hardly ever carry cash. The cashier asks me about my Tesla and is amazed after I tell him that I only paid $100 out of pocket (after rebates) for my car charger, including installation. I'm always looking for ways to save money, and I'm glad I did my research and got the most out of my electric vehicle. $6.51
6 p.m. — A. and I sit in her living room and switch on Netflix to binge-watch You. I notice some of the episodes have been watched, and before I question A. about it, she quickly confesses that she watched a couple of episodes without me. How dare she! I thought she was the one…I get all sentimental for about a minute or so before losing myself in the bliss of my food.
6:40 p.m. — A meal is not complete without dessert — at least, that's what my mind convinces my full stomach. Sometimes I think A. can read my mind. She brings me a piece of her famous blueberry pie that she made over the weekend. I hate blueberries, but her pie is too good.
8:20 p.m. — A. still isn't feeling well, so I send a text to my family saying we won't be celebrating NYE with them this year. What better way is there to start the New Year than with some Netflix and chill?
11:40 p.m. — A. and I finish You (I can't wait for next season) and switch to an NYE countdown channel. I mutter that I'm hungry, so she warms up leftover pizza from Saturday night, and then insists we have a glass of wine to toast to the New Year. I hesitate, knowing wine may trigger a migraine for me, but I give in and have a glass too many. We count down, share a pizza-filled kiss, and toast to the New Year. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Daily Total: $6.51
8:25 a.m. — I wake up to A. asking me for my wallet so she can get the “key” to my car. (The Tesla Model 3 key is a credit card-like key, or you can use the Tesla phone app. Tesla is the future!) My head is pounding! I moan that it's in my leather jacket and roll over, swearing not to drink alcohol ever again. A. leaves for the supermarket to get groceries ($49.83 using our joint credit card) while I try to sleep off my migraine. $24.92
10 a.m. — A. is occupied in the kitchen making brunch. I stroll in, and she hands me a bolillo stuffed with queso fresco. I'd like to think she's feeding me so I don't take my migraine pill on an empty stomach, but it's really because she's afraid I'll get hangry (angry when hungry). That's a thing, right?
10:30 a.m. — I take a long hot shower until my fingers turn raisin-like.
11 a.m. — I make myself a coffee with A.'s Keurig and sip it with my brunch. Two over-medium eggs ooze over a mountain of chilaquiles verde with a side of crispy potatoes and perfectly ripe avocado. So worth the wait!
12 p.m. — A. shows me a couple of YouTube videos on traveling to different countries. We take a week-long vacation every year to a different country, so we chat about possible destinations for this year. We then binge-watch movies on Netflix.
2:30 p.m. — My attention diverts to the sound of a familiar bell. I peek out the window to see the elote man! I yell to A. in excitement like a kid who sees an ice cream truck. Before I can put some presentable clothes on, A. is already out the door to catch the elote man before he makes it up the street. She comes back with an elote (Mexican street corn) just for me. One of the best street foods ever. Oh, and one of the best girlfriends ever.
3:25 p.m. — A. slices up my favorite fruit, mango. Sweet!
4 p.m. — I head home to meet my parents and brother for dinner while A. stays behind to rest.
4:30 p.m. — My two dogs welcome me as soon as I walk in the front door, so I rub their bellies for a couple of seconds. A leaning tower of clean laundry awaits me on my bed. I fold it, pack some clothes, and open my Amazon packages. My aunt stops by, so we invite her and my uncle to dinner.
5:45 p.m. — We wrap ourselves in more jackets than we really need. We overreact here in sunny California when it's cold. The weather forces us to change our plan from Korean BBQ to a nearby Taiwanese hot pot restaurant. The total comes out to $79.72 (including tip) for the six of us. I pay. $79.72
8:10 p.m. — I arrive back at A.'s house to spend the night. I hand her a box of Korean pears that my mom bought for her. Then I throw my belongings on the couch and install a new band for my Apple Watch and a new cover for my iPhone that I received in my Amazon packages. A. brings me some milk and homemade chocolate chip cookies she baked while I was at dinner.
9:15 p.m. — A. and I watch part of Ellen's Game of Games and call it a night.
Daily Total: $104.64
5:40 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of the rainforest. Nope, it's just the shower, and A.'s singing. I check the time on my phone and turn off the alarm before it rings. Then I delete hundreds of junk emails and scroll through Instagram while waiting for my turn in the bathroom.
6:30 a.m. — A. makes us breakfast burritos, and we both finish getting ready. Then we grab our burritos to-go and zoom out the door. We carpool to work, since we work in the same building. We stop by Starbucks, and I get coffee with my new tumbler, a Christmas gift from my mom. (Free coffee with the tumbler for the month of January – woohoo!)
7:30 a.m. — I warm up my breakfast burrito (eggs, beans, and cheese) and eat before starting my day.
11:40 a.m. — I call A. to ask her the “question of the day,” so she decides to order delivery from a Mexican restaurant. She orders two tacos for each of us and a Coke for us to share. Estimated time of delivery: 12:10 p.m.
12 p.m. — I get a reminder to schedule a phone call with my school counselor, since I just got accepted into grad school last month! I schedule the appointment for two weeks from now and put a reminder on my phone. This also reminds me that my payment is due in two days, so I pay the remaining balance that wasn't covered by my student loan ($1,378.47). Education is an investment. I choose to pay with my credit card instead of my checking account so I can receive reward points. $1,378.47
12:15 p.m. — A. sends me downstairs to pick up our food from the delivery man.
12:55 p.m. — I begrudgingly stand on the sidewalk giving death stares to every car that drives by. Annoyed, freezing, and hangry. Where is the delivery guy?!
1:10 p.m. — The very late delivery man finally decides to bring the lunch that was supposed to be in my stomach by now. He tells me to just give him $10. I'm usually a generous tipper, but I hand him the exact amount in cash and skip the tip because of his tardiness. I glance at the receipt while marching back to my courtroom: $10.02. The very late delivery man gave me a two cent discount. How generous! $10
1:20 p.m. — A. and I stuff our faces like chipmunks racing to finish our meals before returning to work at 1:30.
5 p.m. — I hike to the parking lot, fetch the car, and pick up A. in front of the building. We decide on sushi for dinner at a Japanese restaurant we go to frequently.
5:30 p.m. — We split a baked salmon roll and spicy garlic edamame ($30.28 including tip). The baked salmon roll comes wrapped in aluminum foil over torched lighter cubes. It's a fiery beauty and probably the most exciting thing that has happened all day. Dinner is my treat. $30.28
6:30 p.m. — I drop off A. at her house and head home. I really want to stay over again, but I didn't bring any work clothes for tomorrow. When I get home, I plug my car to charge, text my aunt back to confirm dinner plans for Friday night, and unwind with a hot shower.
7:45 p.m. — I grab the mail overflowing from the mailbox and turn on my laptop to start working on purchase orders. I manage the online sales department for my dad's business as a trade-off for living at home with my parents rent-free. I moved back home when I got a divorce so that I could save money to eventually buy my own house. But with this economy, I'll probably be living with my parents for a while.
8:30 p.m. — My parents return from their 30th wedding anniversary dinner. I pack their leftover Chinese food for lunch tomorrow and then send A. a text giving her a heads up that I'm bringing lunch tomorrow so she can bring lunch, too. I break open a fortune cookie, and the fortune tells me to: “GO WITH YOUR GUT.”
9:15 p.m. — I quickly do my usual routine before crawling into bed to hide in my blanket dungeon with the heater on blast. I call A. so we can fall asleep on the phone, a nightly routine of ours. I know, we're that kind of couple. A. falls asleep within minutes. I put her on speaker and check the NBA app. The Warriors play the Rockets tomorrow. Let's go Warriors!
9:55 p.m. — “GO TO SLEEP!” A. rises from her sleep and scares the shit out of me! I could've sworn she was dead asleep a second ago. I lower the volume on my phone just enough to hear A. breathing heavily again. Was she just sleep talking or was that really directed at me? I can't sleep, so I put the phone on mute and play a meditation.
Daily Total: $1,418.75
6 a.m. — I turn off the alarm, call A. to say good morning, and start my usual morning routine. A. is taking public transportation to work this morning, so I leave without her and make a Starbucks run for my free coffee on the way to work.
7 a.m. — I'm almost at work when I realize I forgot to grab the lunch I packed. Damn! When I get there, I meet A., who brought two bean and cheese burritos for me. I save one for lunch later, since I forgot my lunch.
11:30 a.m. — The jury trial finally concludes. Hallelujah! I munch on a banana that A. gave me this morning, and I'm surprised I finish the whole thing. I'm not a big fan of fruit, so I've probably eaten less than 20 bananas in my whole life. I make a mental note to myself to start eating more fruit as part of my New Year's resolution of eating healthier. We'll see how that goes.
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! I screen through my emails while waiting for A. I see an email from the coordinator for an LGBT mentoring program I applied for. I'm officially a mentor! I have always wanted to work with LGBT youth, so this program gives me the perfect opportunity to do so — dream come true! I reply to the coordinator to confirm my attendance for next weekend's training.
12:40 p.m. — A. arrives in my courtroom to have lunch together. We split a Korean pear (one of the few fruits I love to eat), and I warm up the bean and cheese burrito I saved from this morning.
3:30 p.m. — I call my manager to confirm my public speaking training at the end of the month. I'm not very fond of public speaking and still sweat a ton of bricks when I know I have a presentation. To help me overcome my fear, I asked my manager for projects that include public speaking. I gave a presentation to new employees last week, which went fairly well. I'm looking forward to the training class.
5 p.m. — A. and I decided to grab In-N-Out after work before we pick up her car at the bus station. We order two cheeseburgers (animal style), two fries, and share a Coke ($12.26). Best burgers on this planet! $6.13
6:30 p.m. — I arrive home and head straight for a hot shower, as always.
7 p.m. — My aunt, uncle, and four cousins who are visiting from Taiwan decided to stop by. I was hoping for a quiet night to start some reading before class starts next week. Change of plans…I chat with my uncle and turn on Netflix for my cousins while my mom cooks some kind of Chinese herbal soup. Everyone has a bowl except for me. I don't eat much Chinese food.
8 p.m. — My 17-year-old cousin says, “It's pronounced pi-an-ist.” My 15-year-old cousin replies, “No, it's pi-a-no-ist.” 17-year-old cousin: “Dude, it's pi-an-ist.”15-year-old cousin: “No dude, it's pi-a-no-ist.” Then my uncle says, "Guys, nobody gives a shit!" My family is great.
9 p.m. — My family leaves, and I get ready for bed before calling A. for our nightly ritual.
Daily Total: $6.13
6 a.m. — I hit the off button on my alarm and call A. to say good morning. She lets me know she's coming over to carpool, so I jump out of bed and rush to get ready.
6:30 a.m. — I unlock my car, turn on the seat warmers, and set the cabin temperature to 70 degrees, all from my phone. Then I slip on my dress shoes, grab my tie, and sprint out the door. A. greets me with a flat white from Starbucks, and we pick up bagels from our favorite bagel shop. We get $2 off for being rewards members ($4.16 total). $2.08
8 a.m. — I have a light workload today, and it's Friday! Let's get it!
10:30 a.m. — A. sends me a text reminding me she is having lunch with a colleague. I don't feel like staying in for lunch today, so I text my friend to ask if she wants to meet up for lunch.
12 p.m. — My friend works across the street, so we decide to meet at the corner and walk to a nearby Japanese restaurant. We both order the rib-eye lunch special, and she also orders a spicy tuna roll ($39.66 including tip). I pay the bill using my credit card so I can get reward points. She Venmos me $20. $19.66
1:30 p.m. — A. meets me in my courtroom to show me what she bought on her way back from lunch. My uncle recently passed away from cancer, so A. bought my aunt a card and grieving book ($19.64). A. is always so thoughtful and caring. $9.82
3 p.m. — Chocorooms!
5 p.m. — A. and I leave work and head home to pick up my parents for dinner with my extended family. My uncle, aunt, and two cousins are returning to Taiwan tomorrow morning, so we are getting together one last time before they leave.
6:50 p.m. — We arrive at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant we chose because of the family size portions. There are 22 of us, so we take up two tables. We fill ourselves up with as many carbs as we can eat. My aunt is very thankful for the book and card that A. picked out.
9:10 p.m. — Trays of assorted cakes are passed around while brownie sundaes bigger than the size of my head (not exaggerating) are quickly devoured. My family can be over the top. My uncle, who is half Colombian, likes to say, “todo o nada.” It's $676.49 not including tip, and my uncle picks up the tab.
9:40 p.m. — I pay for parking, and we all head home. We soon fall asleep from food comas. $4
Daily Total: $35.56
8 a.m. — I awake to a shower of kisses. A. whispers for me to hop in the shower so we can grab some breakfast.
9 a.m. — The cold and gloomy weather makes it hard to get out of bed, so A. and I stay for some cuddle time.
10 a.m. — A. and I are finally out the door in our sweater and sweats. We stop by JCPenney to make a return. I ordered a dress shirt online last month but was instead sent baby pants. I called customer service but was told to return the incorrect item at the store, but at the store today, they tell me the dress shirt I originally ordered is out of stock. So basically, I'm shit out of luck. This whole experience, especially with customer service, is convincing me to never purchase from JCPenney again.
10:30 a.m. — A. and I arrive at one of our favorite breakfast joints. We each order our usual: eggs, bacon, potatoes, and sourdough toast with a coffee ($35.74 including tip). $17.87
1:30 p.m. — A. wants to go watch a movie, so she finds one she wants to see: The Favourite at 2:05 p.m.
2 p.m. — We hurry to the theater and arrive in time to buy our tickets ($28, which we split) and order a large popcorn and Coke to share ($13, split). $20.50
4:15 p.m. — A. enjoyed the movie more than I did. We are showered by the rain once we walk out of the theater. I make a run for it, but A. would dance in the rain and jump in puddles all day if she could. It's her favorite kind of weather, but my least favorite.
4:45 p.m. — We drive by an Argentinean restaurant that I love and decide to eat dinner there. The restaurant is reservation-only, but we're greeted by the same waiter who serviced my family when we ate there on Christmas Day. He remembers me and offers to seat us without reservations. We choose a table at the patio so A. can enjoy the sight and sound of the rain. Whatever makes her happy.
5:30 p.m. — The waiter and I chat about the wine, and I decide to order a whole bottle. We split a trio appetizer (calamari, shrimp, and mushrooms), a steak entrée, and a flan. I insist on paying. $151.84
6:45 p.m. — We walk up and down the block to sober up before driving home for some Netflix and chill.
8 p.m. — A. and I get in a stupid argument about who knows what. She grabs her stuff and walks out the door. My pride won't let me run after her. I remind myself of a quote: “If she's dumb enough to walk away, be smart enough to let her go.”
9 p.m. — I finish a movie on Netflix to keep my mind off of A.
10 p.m. — I can't sleep. I keep tossing and turning in bed overthinking our relationship. The pouring rain reminds me of A. I miss her, but I'm too stubborn to text or call.
Daily Total: $190.21
3:45 a.m. — I wake up thinking of A. I think to myself, if she's hurt enough to walk away, I should be caring enough to chase after her. I get over myself and finally call her. We both apologize and sweep things under the rug.
5:30 a.m. — A. arrives at my house, and we fall asleep in each other's arms.
8:50 a.m. — Good morning! It's a brand new day. First order of business, breakfast!
11 a.m. — We arrive at our weekly brunch spot and order French toast, eggs, and hash browns to split. I order my normal iced vanilla latte while A. opts for a cappuccino ($28.94 including tip). We enjoy our breakfast as if nothing happened last night. $14.47
3 p.m. — A. has a hair appointment, so I go with her. Afterwards, we go to Kabuki and split an order of garlic edamame. I get chicken teriyaki and A. gets salmon teriyaki ($36.25 including tip). We have a heart-to-heart about our argument last night. Our conversation leads to discussion of the book The 5 Love Languages. I honestly think it's a great book, so I persuade A. to read it. $18.13
4:45 p.m. — A. heads home after dinner, and then calls to tell me that her car stalled because she ran out of gas. I dash out the door to her rescue.
5:30 p.m. — I reach her just a couple of minutes before AAA arrives. The AAA guy puts just enough gas in her car to make it down the street to the nearest gas station.
7 p.m. — I go home, get comfortable in bed, and then call A. We take the assessment from the The 5 Love Languages over the phone, and we both score highest on “quality time.” Interesting…
9 p.m. — A. is already fast asleep on the phone, so I take this time to do some retail therapy on Amazon. I browse hundreds of random things and end up purchasing a wifi extender and a screen protector for my Tesla touchscreen. I use up a gift card and reward points and end up paying $17.46 for both items. I choose no rush shipping for a $5 credit for Prime Now, whatever that is. $17.46
10:30 p.m. — I finally put my phone down, but I can't shut my brain off. I feel a bit overwhelmed thinking about how my daily routine will change once my classes and the mentoring program begin this week. Did I put too much on my plate? I'm anxious yet excited. I tell myself that it's just a roller coaster. I know there will be ups and downs, but I'm strapped in and ready for the ride. I doze off making a mental note of things to do that I'll probably forget the second I wake up.
Daily Total: $50.06
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