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A Week In San Francisco, CA, On A $108,000 Salary

·23 min read

Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

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Today: a financial analyst who makes $108,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a TCHO chocolate bar.

Occupation: Financial Analyst
Industry: Finance
Age: 27
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $108,000 + discretionary bonus (2019 bonus of $27,000 received in March of this year)
Net Worth: $178,500 (401(k): $129,500; Roth IRA: $21,000; Brokerage account: $11,500; Savings: $16,500)
Debt: None, I paid off student loans of $11,000 within two years of graduating and my car has been paid off for a few years.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,740
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $2,154 for a studio apartment, utilities included
401(k): $720 (8% pre-tax, company matches 4%)
Roth IRA: $400
Various Savings: $1,040 (spread across an emergency fund, travel savings, and other short-term savings for things like haircuts, dog grooming, car registration, credit card fees)
Brokerage Account: $100
Health Insurance: $180 (taken out of my paycheck, pre-tax)
Car Insurance: $148
Renter’s Insurance: $11
Disability Insurance: $40
Internet: $60
Cell: $70
CrossFit: $260
Donations: $60 ($25 to Planned Parenthood, $25 to ACLU, $10 to Doctors Without Borders)
Hulu: $6
Netflix: $9

Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
Neither of my parents went to college (my dad just got his GED a few years ago) so I think there was an expectation that I would go but it wasn’t something we really talked about. Looking back, I feel like I did not get a lot of support with the application process and it was something I had to figure out on my own. I ended up going to a state school (although I got into better schools) and worked full-time while going to school full-time and living at home. My mother paid for the first two years and I took out loans for the second two years. I used to feel sort of cheated that I did not have the typical college experience but I am grateful to have paid off my student loans so quickly and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunities I’ve had.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
My brother and I grew up with a single mother, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized we were relatively poor compared to a lot of my friends. I think my mom was fairly shrewd with her money and we did not want for much. I don’t remember having specific discussions about money but I think it was ingrained in me to be self-supporting and independent.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I started filing paperwork and working as a receptionist at a car dealership when I was 15. My mother would pick me up from high school and drop me off at work two times a week. I ended up working there through high school and college and would write papers while answering the phones on weekends. After I graduated college, I was offered a rotational accounting position at their corporate office and altogether ended up working for the company for a total of eight years, until I was 23. I think I originally got the job as a way to make extra money, but obviously it turned into a lot more.

Did you worry about money growing up?
I would say mostly no. I can remember a few instances where we did not have enough money for me to do something I wanted (read: Pop Warner cheerleading) but I wouldn’t say I worried about it.

Do you worry about money now?
Definitely. I do not feel like I have anyone to fall back on (see below), but I also worry about having enough money to make choices in life. I strongly believe that money = freedom and always want to be able to leave a bad job or living situation, etc.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
21, when I graduated college. My mother kicked me out of the house during my last year of college and I went to live with my grandparents. After that, I moved to Texas for work and became wholly responsible for all of my expenses. I still have a strained relationship with my mother (we don’t speak) and I don’t think my father has ever been in a position to lend me money. I would say my financial safety net was my grandparents, and they have both passed away in the past few years.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
Yes, my grandparents gave me $5,000 when I graduated from high school. I used this money to pay for parking and books for all four years of college. I also received $5,000 a few months ago from my grandparents’ estate. My grandfather passed away last December and they just finished selling the house and other assets. I put this money in my savings account and am using some of it for a root canal and other dental work I need to have done.

Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up to my Fitbit alarm. The debate sent me into a dark spiral so I have been trying to limit my social media time lately. Normally I would wake up and scroll but instead, I read Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (a re-read) for 20 minutes.

6:20 a.m. — I get up and do my face routine — cleanser, toner, Vitamin C, moisturizer, SPF, and brush my teeth. My skincare products are made in-house by a place in S.F. where I get facials and laser genesis and they have been a game-changer. I have suffered from acne on and off since my teen years and through a combination of diet, great skincare products, and being careful with irritants (makeup, laundry detergent), I am finally at a place where my skin is healthy and my breakouts are relatively low-key.

6:45 a.m. — I throw on my dog-walking pants (it’s a thing) and leash up my dog. He is a golden retriever-chow chow, my only roommate, and the love of my life. I listen to the Almost 30 podcast.

7:20 a.m. — I drink some warm water with lemon while I log into my work computer. I like to check emails and read the news before getting started on breakfast.

7:45 a.m. — I make a breakfast of eggs, sweet potatoes, roasted tomato, and mango (I eat this basically every day with different fruit) while listening to NPR’s Up First. It’s payday so I move money around according to a spreadsheet I have (I’m an accountant, okay), which basically involves paying myself first — i.e., putting monthly savings away first and leaving money to spend, instead of spending and saving whatever is leftover. I also charge all expenses to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and pay it off every month so I do that now. I brush the dog’s teeth and give him a treat before settling into work.

8 a.m. — I have been trying out the 52-17 method lately (work for 52 minutes, take a break for 17 minutes), which is making me much more productive. Instead of getting distracted every five minutes by the dog or watering plants or the internet, I stay focused because I know I have a break coming up. I work like this for a few hours, using one of my breaks to eat some carrots and cucumbers with hummus and drink some Tulsi green tea.

12:30 p.m. — I make myself a salad of kale, quinoa, apple, cranberries, almonds, and walnuts with olive oil dressing. I have been cooking almost every meal of quarantine and I honestly kind of love it. I have also been experimenting with being vegetarian (four months so far, woo!) so this is a great opportunity to try new recipes.

1 p.m. — I get ready to take the dog out and on the way, I see that a used book I bought online (There There by Tommy Orange) has come in the mail. I went a little crazy at the beginning of quarantine buying books so I made myself start re-reading books I already own, but now I am giving myself a little grace. The libraries are still closed here and there are worse things I could be spending money on. After the dog walk, I sit on the couch and read some more Yes, Please.

2 p.m. — Back to work and back to 52-17, with a break to eat apples with almond butter and drink some more green tea.

5:15 p.m. — I change into gym clothes and drive myself and the doggo down to the gym. Luckily, my gym has a back parking lot so they have been offering outdoor classes since June. We mask up to get our weights and equipment and wipe everything down before we leave. Today’s workout is a gross combination of burpees, tuck jumps, barbell work, and abs. My friend’s phone dies and she can’t call a car so I offer to give her a ride home. We get a little lost but the evening is beautiful so I don’t mind.

7:10 p.m. — I warm up some leftover pesto pasta salad (pasta, green beans, peas, spinach, tomato, pesto) and finish up some work while watching New Girl (can’t stop, won’t stop rewatching).

8 p.m. — I log off and time myself for 15 minutes of Instagram. (I am hopeful that this is a temporary measure to stop the social media spiral, but we will see what the election holds.) I take a shower and do my nighttime skin routine: cleanser, toner, Retin-A, moisturizer.

8:30 p.m. — I watch an episode of This Way Up on Hulu. I blame Fleabag for starting me down this British/Irish drama-comedy road, but I also highly recommend Sex Education and Derry Girls. I read some more Yes, Please and lights out around 9:30.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

6 a.m. — Wake up, read Yes, Please for 20 minutes. I send my friend an audio message of me singing Happy Birthday poorly and a cat GIF. Face routine and get ready to walk the dog.

6:45 a.m. — On our walk, I listen to a Terrible, Thanks for Asking episode about the ways we talk about and treat addiction.

7:35 a.m. — I’m a creature of habit: lemon water, read the news, make breakfast while listening to NPR, brush dog’s teeth. I start work and break a few hours in to make a smoothie with kale, pineapple, protein powder, and chia seeds. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it? I hate wasting food and don’t want this kale to go bad.

11:45 a.m. — For lunch, I make a summer corn quinoa chowder, which turns out to be surprisingly good. You start by sautéing onion, bell pepper, and carrots, then add yellow potatoes, vegetable stock, corn, quinoa, coconut milk, and fresh basil. The coconut milk adds a nice sweetness and I eat while listening to episodes of Code Switch and Planet Money. I get up around 1:40 to walk the doggo.

2:20 p.m. — On the walk, I get a Venmo request from my friend for two books I bought from her last week. She did a big sale over Instagram to raise money to donate to the Get Mitch or Die Trying campaign. I make plans to pick up the books over the weekend. When I get home I read some more Yes, Please and get back to work. $10

3 p.m. — I eat some apples with almond butter while I log onto a Zoom trivia organized by my company. It is surprisingly well organized given how many people participate and actually a lot of fun. One guy on our team talks over everyone and the women make it a point to call on whoever was speaking and ask them to repeat themselves. Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.

4:15 p.m. — A coworker calls me afterward to debrief and we chat for 15 minutes before I hop in the shower. I have French class tonight and like to get it out of the way beforehand, I know it’s weird. Face routine and I sit back down at my computer.

5:30 p.m. — I make some cauliflower gnocchi with broccoli, peas, and pesto for dinner. I usually eat a variation of this meal with different vegetables once a week because it is easy and delicious. I eat while studying my notecards.

6 p.m. — Two hours of online French class. I started taking classes in April and am still going strong six months in, and honestly, it lights me up. I minored in Spanish in college and I love the process of learning a new language. I thought that maybe I would be baking girl or Marie Kondo girl during this quarantine but apparently, I am the girl who learns French. I love it!

8 p.m. — I send one work email and take the dog for a walk. It can be really hard to do screens all day and then two more hours of screens at night. I am pooped. Lights out at 9.

Daily Total: $10

Day Three

6 a.m. — You know the drill. Wake up, read, wash face, walk dog. I make breakfast and sit down to work around 8.

9:15 a.m. — I get a text from my therapist telling me she has to cancel our session today. This has been happening pretty frequently lately and hasn’t bothered me that much, but for some reason, today I am fired up. I text a friend about it and we figure out that this is the fifth time that she has canceled day-of in the past six months. Is this a test? Is she trying to see whether I can finally set some boundaries? I debate whether or not I should say something and craft a text with my friend’s help. I text my therapist and tell her that these sessions are very important to me and that I plan my days around them, and can we agree to a 48-hour cancellation policy? I say that I’m sure she can appreciate that it is frustrating for me to have cancellations so last minute.

12 p.m. — I break to eat some chowder.

1:30 p.m. — My therapist texts back and apologizes for the last-minute cancellation. She offers to help me find another therapist. What?? I guess that’s a no on the 48-hour idea? Honestly, this is super disappointing and also a little triggering for someone with abandonment issues. In some ways, I felt like our time together might be coming to an end, but also this feels like a shitty way for it to go down. For some background, I have been seeing her once a week over the past year (covered by insurance, praise be) to work through some trauma related to my mother, who I believe to have narcissistic tendencies. My decision to go to therapy was sparked by a particularly emotionally abusive episode that was really a pattern of my entire upbringing, and something I really wanted to make sure I did not repeat when it comes to my own children. I think it might seem intense (or harsh or cruel, etc) to some people that I have no contact with my mother, but I tell people that she does not act like a mother.

2 p.m. — I walk the dog, read a little, and spend the afternoon working. More apples and almond butter.

6 p.m. — I eat some leftover gnocchi and wrap up work. I end up working a little bit longer so that I don’t have to work this weekend. I feel very grateful for my job and to be able to work from home but this time of crisis has really made me question a lot of things. I would say I am exactly where I hoped to be when I was 16 — living alone in a big city, making more money than a 27-year-old needs — but at the end of the day, I help rich white men get richer. I wouldn’t say my current job really contributes to the world in a meaningful way. I have been thinking a lot about other career opportunities but don’t want to make any drastic moves right now. My current company has offered me a $15,000 retention bonus at the end of this year and I am saving aggressively in the meantime.

6:30 p.m. — I FaceTime with a friend who used to live in the city but moved recently. We giggle a lot and I feel like it is my therapy for the day.

7:45 p.m. — I take the dog for a walk and watch The Great British Baking Show when I get back. I try on practically all the clothes in my closet in an attempt to find a cute outfit for tomorrow’s museum date with a friend (I don’t know how to wear real clothes anymore), but of course, I land back on my trustworthy Madewell boyfriend jeans. I like what I like. I go to sleep around 9:45.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6:20 a.m. — I wake up naturally because I’m an early bird and it’s Saturday. I read in bed for a bit.

7 a.m. — I eat breakfast and take the dog out. We see a cat on a leash. It’s going to be a great day.

8:15 a.m. — I leave for the gym. I know my membership is outrageously expensive but I typically go five days a week. CrossFit has proven to be necessary for my mental health (hello endorphins) and it has also changed the way I think about my body. The focus now is really on what my body can do, instead of what it looks like, and although I am definitely heavier weight-wise than I have ever been, I am also stronger and more confident. This gym has also been my primary source of community in the city and the source of most of my friendships. Today’s workout is a combination of kettlebells and tuck jumps and it SUCKS.

10:15 a.m. — I get home and eat an apple. I work on my French homework (which involves practice lessons online and also notecards that I put together to work on vocabulary because I can’t help myself). At noon, I see that some Athleta masks I ordered have come in the mail (thank you to Money Diaries for the inspiration).

12:45 p.m. — I drive to park my car at a friend’s house so she can drive us to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). It is finally reopening! Our entrance slot is for 2, but they let us in at 1:30. There are very few people in here and honestly, it feels like we are VIP and I’m into it. Entrance is free with her membership and parking is free with museum validation. What a glorious thing.

4:45 p.m. — After several hours at the museum we drive and meet two other friends for dinner at a Greek restaurant. We sit in a parklet outside and order wine and split several appetizers (a fig salad, a watermelon salad, Spanakopita, a flatbread, and a fried cheese dish) and dessert (cheesecake and baklava). This is my first restaurant experience since March (I’ve done takeout a few times but that’s it) and it is lovely. A friend picks up the tab and I Venmo her for my share. $58

7:30 p.m. — I get home and walk the dog and watch another episode of This Way Up. Around 9, I get in bed and have some sexy time with my vibrator (I recommend the Pom by Dame!). Lights out at 9:30.

Daily Total: $58

Day Five

6:30 a.m. — I wake up and read for a bit. I finish Yes, Please.

7:30 a.m. — I get up and make breakfast, take the dog for a walk.

8:45 a.m. — The doggo and I head to the gym. Today’s class is slower-paced and I spend much of it talking with friends. Afterward, I take the dog to the beach to let him swim. He loves the ocean but it’s usually a whole project getting him there and bathing him after. He has a grooming appointment this week so I let him run wild.

11:30 a.m. — We walk back to the gym where I left my car and drive home. My friend is out on a hike so I can’t pick up the books today but I am okay with that because I’m honestly pooped. I work on my French homework some more.

12:30 p.m. — I make a lunch of sundried tomato ravioli with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, spinach, and walnuts. I spend a few hours watching TV, including SNL and two episodes of This Way Up to finish the season.

4 p.m. — I take a shower and do a face mask and read for a while. I start Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. It is soooo good.

6 p.m. — I am in desperate need of groceries and start getting creative in the kitchen. I find a butternut squash mac and cheese in the freezer and cook that up, adding some frozen broccoli and the remainder of the kale. It is actually delicious.

6:30 a.m. — I do a Zoom call with two friends. Then, I take the doggo for a walk.

8:15 p.m. — I start the first episode of End of the F*cking World, per the recommendation of the internet. It’s a little dark but so is 2020.

8:45 p.m. — I get in bed and read for a bit, pass out at some point.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — Wake up and it’s Monday again. Read some Ask Again, Yes and do the whole thing.

6:50 a.m. — Walk the dog and listen to This American Life. Eat breakfast and start working around 8.

12 p.m. — Eat leftover ravioli. I also cook some brown rice for tonight’s dinner.

2:30 p.m. — After I walk the dog, I head to the grocery store that is directly in front of my house. It’s pretty bougie but I like to get my produce there and some other staples I can’t get at Trader Joe’s. Today I get hummus, tortellini, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados, sweet potatoes, apples, yellow squash, zucchini, spinach, romaine, swiss chard, carrots, a cucumber, crushed tomatoes, and a TCHO chocolate bar. $82.85

3 p.m. — Back at work with breaks to roast some sweet potatoes (I warm these up for breakfast during the week) and a quick FaceTime with a friend. We are working out the logistics on a road trip for next month (San Francisco – San Diego – San Francisco – Oregon – Washington) and it is the only thing giving me life right now.

5:15 p.m. — I head to the gym. Today’s workout is hard but good.

7 p.m. — Home and make a barebones meal of egg fried rice with broccoli and green beans from the freezer. I work a little more before logging off.

8 p.m. — I walk the dog, shower, and watch episode two of End of the F*cking World. I think they’ve officially sucked me in. Lights out around 9:30.

Daily Total: $82.85

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Wake up and do all the things!

10 a.m. — I head to Trader Joe’s for part two of grocery shopping. Since La Rona has taken over, I try to go once every 10 days and spend $185 total (between both stores). That’s $550 a month, which seems shockingly high for a single gal but it’s worth it to me. Today, I get bagged salad, cashews, lemons, more avocados, more tomatoes, butternut squash, red and yellow onions, basil, pesto, pizza dough, more eggs, cauliflower gnocchi, Brussels sprouts, peas, white beans, farro, vegetable broth, goat cheese, gruyere, and dog treats. Woo, I come in under budget. $94.04

1 p.m. — I break from work and eat one of the bagged salads I bought — kale broccoli slaw with almonds and dried cherries. It’s my fave and it’s soooo good. I take the doggo for a walk afterward.

5:15 p.m. — Head to the gym.

6:45 p.m. — Home. I finish up one thing for work and take the dog out.

8 p.m. — I try a new recipe (courtesy of Cup of Jo) of sourdough toast with gruyere, mushrooms, onions, and swiss chard. It is delicious. I watch the third episode of End of the F*cking World.

9 p.m. — Read Ask Again, Yes and pass out at 9:30.

Daily Total: $94.04

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