Welcome to Money 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 federal employee who makes $105,400 per year and spends some of her money this week on Caudalie SOS Serum.
Occupation: Federal Employee
Location: Washington D.C.
Paycheck Amount (Every two weeks): $2,854.01 (after taxes; retirement, health insurance, FSA, and life insurance taken out)
Gender Identity: Woman
Rent: $670 for my room in a two-bed, two-and-a-half-bath townhouse in suburbia lite (includes utilities), I have two roommates)
Student Loans: $415
Other Loans: $805 (Car loan and a few others)
Electric: $20 – $75
Cable /Internet: $35
Entertainment/Streaming Subscriptions: $83 (Hulu & Netflix, Apple, AMC, etc.)
Insurance: $120 (Renters, Car and Personal Property)
Cell Phone: $123 (I pay for my parents’ phone)
Family Expenses: $150 (I help out my family monthly with small items)
8:35 a.m. — I forgot to set my alarm. I would usually work from home today, but I have to go in for a training. I hurry out of bed and contemplate a shower. I decide to shower but not wash my hair. My poor hair, being subjected to another bun, but at least I will accessorize with a fashionable headband. I don’t eat breakfast as I’m running out of my house.
9:30 a.m. — Make it to work and make my meeting on time but just barely. Had to drive because I couldn’t take the metro (not that I would anyway with this construction). The lot near my building is only $11 all day, a lifesaver. $11
11:45 a.m. — Meeting is finally over. I head downstairs with B., my coworker, to grab lunch at a café and meet up with our other friends, T. and V., for lunch. I buy an Earl Gray latte to feed my soul, my usual turkey wrap, and an iced tea I’ll eventually drink later. It looks like T. and V. brought lunch. I’m always jealous of people planning ahead. I need to get back into doing the same. $16
6 p.m. — Work is over and time to drive back home. I offer my friend a ride as she lives near me. We chat about the weekend and she mentions she saw the sparking watermelon juice I’ve been dying to try at her Trader Joe’s. My own TJ’s had none in stock when I went. I drop her off and go to her TJ’s. I pick up two packs of sparkling watermelon juice, a pack of sparkling coconut juice with yuzu, apricots, cherries, two cans of cold brew with coconut milk that I’ve seen on Insta, and chocolate-covered strawberries and bananas (a clutch snack that is perfect for this weather). Oh, and langostino lobster tails because I feel fancy. $46
10:55 p.m. — In bed scrolling through Insta and see a bag I like. I find it on the internet and they’re having a sale! I buy two because I have no self-control and if I hate them I’ll either return or give away, $75 for both with an insta coupon. As I check out I see an email about a free gift from Bumble and Bumble at Ulta. I decide that I DO need more moisturizer and serum as I’m running low. I make an impromptu Ulta purchase because WHY NOT. I really wish they had Fresh and Caudalie on Ulta as they’re my preferred serum and face wash. I head over to Sephora and buy more things I don’t need but want ($86.92). I get the new Fresh sugar strawberry exfoliating face wash I saw online and my Caudalie SOS serum I live for, which I ALWAYS buy in the “gift pack.” It’s the same price as the serum alone but you get two extras, this time it’s a travel size hydro mask and moisturizing sorbet, which will come in handy during my travels. $306.61
Daily Total: $379.61
8:55 a.m. — Well rested and ready for the day. I work from home today. I get up, brush my teeth, and do my morning routine (face wash, toner, serum, AM under eye gel, gel face moisturizer). I brush my hair and throw on leggings and a top, make my bed, and head downstairs. Get settled in and fire up my laptop.
11 a.m. — I start to get those tummy hunger rumbles. I grab my kalamata olive hummus and eat it straight from the container. It should hopefully tide me over until lunch. It’s finally lunchtime and I eat my leftover langostino fried rice I made last night. Still delicious and tasty. I open up a sparkling coconut water because the watermelon ones are precious.
6 p.m. — Finally “off” work and wondering what I want to eat. I fight the urge to head to my local CAVA, which is the Mediterranean version of Chipotle. I eat leftovers instead. I have chicken tenders I bought on Sunday and eat that. I’m nothing if not a creature of habit. Love Island USA is on, so I watch that until I go to bed at 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $0
8:20 a.m. — Made it to work on time and pay for parking under my building, it’s only $9 because it’s before 8:30. I park and head upstairs to the café and grab my usual Earl Grey latte and a sausage, egg, and cheese on a croissant. I know what I like and I will consume it until I hate it. Comes to my usual $9.69 for breakfast. $18.69
11 a.m. — This day is dragging and I blame the fact that I went to bed so late. I head back down to get another latte. I try to limit my caffeine intake to one a day but today I need it. Even the café owner seems shocked I’m back for round two. Since I’m down here I order lunch for later as well. $5.65
12 p.m. — Lunchtime! V. and I are grabbing lunch from the cafe and I thankfully preordered so no wait for me. I don’t get my normal iced tea with my wrap so it’s a bit less than normal. V. and I chat about nothing and just laugh and have a great lunch. It’s always great to surround yourself with people you truly love being around. $7.61
6:05 p.m. — Traffic on my route home was particularly terrible; I have a theory that D.C. traffic is the worst on Wednesdays because it’s the only day everyone in the DMV (D.C./Maryland/Virginia) comes into work. But who really knows? I stop to get gas and wash my car. $39
11:45 p.m. — In bed and scrolling through Insta. I check my Robin Hood app and see I made $8. I think I’ll buy more shares of Snap just so I can sell in a few days to buy Texas Instruments stock. The Wall Street Journal said they were having a good run this year. I end up putting $150 into my account to buy eight more shares of Snap. I’m hoping it was a good idea. Okay now I can sleep. I play an ASMR video on YouTube and hope to be out soon. $150
Daily Total: $220.95
8:22 a.m. — Traffic today was more miserable than usual. I get to work just in time to park ($9) and pick up my usual from the cafe ($9.69). $18.69
12:34 p.m. — I meet up with B. and V. for lunch. They’re going to a place near our office and ask if I want to join. I really want to be anti-social and say no and stick to my usual, but I say yes and we make our way there. I opt for a poke bowl with brown rice, tuna, crab salad, avocado, mandarin oranges, corn, and edamame. I really want the ponzu sauce but the guy says it’s spicy so I pass and get sesame dressing and oil. I peruse the aisles and grab mangos that are 20% off and my favorite iced tea. $20.58
6:35 p.m. — Before I leave work I get an email from Panera Bread saying my coupon will expire today. So what do I do? I go to Panera. I park and sit in my car after I order for about 10 more minutes before going inside as I scroll through my Robin Hood app. Inside my strawberry poppyseed chicken salad isn’t ready yet so I do what any normal person does and buy a cinnamon roll. It should be great in the morning with my coffee. I head home and watch TV and chill the rest of the night. $11.65
Daily Total: $50.92
7:35 a.m. — This week has dragged y’all. I wake up at a reasonable hour. Morning routine and head out the door. I’m not actually driving today so I need to make an effort to leave on time. I’m taking a Lyft into work today because there is NO WAY that I’ll make it on time if I take the metro. Ugh, I hate this town and its expensive AF rides. Whatever. $19
8:05 a.m. — I make it earlier than expected so at least I have time to grab breakfast. I go to the cafe downstairs of the building I’m at and order my normal latte and an omelet. The poor boy doesn’t have any clue how to make a tea latte. I talk him through it and it’s not the best latte on the planet but it’ll do the trick. I get my omelet and latte and head back upstairs. Another fun filled training day. $6.71
12 p.m. — LUNCHTIME IS HERE. I go to a Peruvian place by my office for lunch. I pre-order because I’ve been burned by the line at this place before. It’s pretty popular during the lunch rush because it’s delicious. I get the lomo saltado with plantains and some Inca kola. $17.91
5 p.m. — Ya girl’s actually taking the metro home! I hate the metro only because it takes forever but I can’t afford the ridiculously priced Uber home. The government pays for the metro pass so it’s a nice perk if I ever use it. Two buses, one train, and some walking later, I’m finally home. I get a text from F., a friend from grad school. He just moved into town and wants to see if I’m free for dinner and drinks. I tell him sure and get ready to meet him. We end up getting tacos and margaritas and catching up. I haven’t seen F. in about three years. It’s good to see him doing so well. As much as I complain about my lack of social life, I do have a pretty robust group of friends I can rely on.
9:30 p.m. — I get home after a fun night out. I need to get out more. I get down on myself sometimes because of my depression but I try not to let it hinder my life. I try to beat the sadness by putting myself out there instead of taking medication. I’m an introverted extrovert. Going out was fine, but alas, I missed Love Island. I go up to my room get ready for bed, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $43.62
7 a.m. — I love when I wake up early on my days off. I feel well rested and ready for the day! I do my morning routine, take a shower, and get ready for the day. I make myself a latte from my Nespresso, which always hits the spot in the morning. There isn’t any morning update from NPR so I’ll just catch up on Love Island from last night. Why am I crying? The overly dramatic swells of music are really hitting me this morning. My roommate, Z., calls to gab about his week on his way to doing overtime for work. We discuss our upcoming trip in October. I wasn’t looking forward to it but now I’m excited the closer it’s getting. I completely forgot today was payday! YES. I love payday, but who doesn’t. It also means that the beginning of the month is eminent and paying bills is on the horizon again.
12:34 p.m. — I go to lunch with my friend, D. She wants to meet at CAVA and I have zero complaints. It’s one of my favorite places. It’s just a short walk for me. I get a lamb bowl and a drink. $13
2 p.m. — After lunch, we decide to go get our nails done. It’s always fun to get out of the house. Plus my nails are in desperate need of TLC. I get a mani/pedi, but no polish. I’m going on a work trip and it’s always hard to get my nails done. Plus I’ve really enjoyed the “clean” look for my nails these past few months. $70
5 p.m. — Finally home from my outing. I say it a lot but I have to remind myself that it is nice to get out of the house. To socialize and be with others (even if you spend money). I eat some leftovers and figure out what I’m going to take on my trip. I’m bad at pre-packing. I feel like I do it so often that I can pack my life away in an hour. I spend the rest of the evening hanging out on Insta and watching TV.
Daily Total: $83
9 a.m. — Leisurely start to my morning. I do my regular routines. Today is a lazy day. I have a few errands to run and I’m only excited to do them because I’m a sucker for a mall pretzel.
1:20 p.m. — I head to the mall. I’m not a huge fan, there’s a ton of people. Plus, online shopping is preferred. I spend $3 on parking. I go to Sephora (I know). I pick up a few things that I’ll run out of while I’m traveling. $88.86
2 p.m. — Finally pretzel time! I get the little pretzel wrapped hot dogs and a cherry lemonade. The woman serving me gives me an extra squirt of cherry flavoring, that saint. I do enjoy sitting and people watching. Am I the only one that creates stories for the people you see? My own way to pass the time while I’m enjoying my food. $8
3:40 p.m. — Next stop is Ulta (again, I know). I need to return some things that I didn’t like. That 72-hour surge lotion was terrible. It flaked. The sample is always so good. Who knows. I already bought a replacement at Sephora. I grab a new hairbrush and some dry shampoo/conditioner while I’m here. I go through it so quickly. After the refund and the new items, I spend about $30 more dollars. $31.80
5 p.m. — Home after a long day out. I love being at home. Call me a homebody, but being on the road for work so often, all I want when I am home is to be in my apartment. I spend the rest of the evening enjoying my peaceful little home.
Daily Total: $128.66
Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
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