A Week In San Diego, CA, On A $145,000 Salary

·22 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.

Today: a revenue manager working in tech who makes $145,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a dog pool.

Occupation: Revenue Manager
Industry: Tech
Age: 29
Location: San Diego, CA
Salary: $145,000
Net Worth: $230,000 (Brokerage account/stocks: $117,000, 401(k): $105,000, high-yield savings account: $8,000)
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $3,250
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,830 (This is my portion for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment I split with my boyfriend, L. I pay $400 more than him, and he solely covers our car payment. We split all expenses evenly and have shared credit cards. He has a smaller amount in savings — about $20,000 — because he was unemployed for almost a year in early 2020. We’ve been together for almost five years, and my personal preference is to not get married, but I consider what’s mine is his and vice versa.)
Utilities: $0 (included in rent payment)
Renter’s Insurance: $4 (my half)
Internet: $0 (reimbursed by work)
Phone: $0 (reimbursed by work)
Car Insurance: $65 (my half)
Spotify: $6.50 (split with my mom and sister)
HBO: $8 (my half)
Netflix: $0 (still using my parents’ account)
Amazon Prime: $8 (my half)
Workout Classes: $0 (I paid $1,700 at the beginning of the year for six months of unlimited classes. In another month or two, this will be $315 a month.)
Pet Insurance: $33 (my half)
Savings: $2,000–$2,600
401(k): $1,000 (pre-tax)

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?
Yes, from a very young age my parents stressed that it was important for both my sister and me to attend college. I wasn’t really given another option of what to do after high school. Neither of my parents attended college, and they made sure to set aside money to send us wherever we wanted to go. Until recently, I never truly considered how privileged I was to make my college decisions without factoring in money — and to graduate without debt. I did receive a 50% scholarship to a very expensive private school, but if the remaining cost was an issue, my parents did not make me aware of that.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
From a young age, my dad taught my sister and me the importance of always putting aside a portion of our incomes and spending with intention. Every year when I received money for birthdays or holidays, he would sit down with me and ask what amount I would like to put aside and would tell me that whatever amount I chose that he would match it. After I graduated college, he gave me access to the investment account that housed all this money, which was then around $25,000. My dad is a self-taught investor and in his retirement has enjoyed following the news and markets and continues to help my sister and me manage our investment portfolios.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
I didn’t get my first job until the summer before my senior year of college, which is crazy! It was an accounting internship at a large firm and paid $28 an hour, which I thought was incredible at the time. I grew up swimming competitively and was always traveling or practicing five or more hours a day, so I couldn’t work during high school. I’m grateful that my parents funded the sport for me and never made me feel like I needed to be working.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I knew we weren’t the richest family in town but we took quite a few vacations during school breaks, and I never went without anything I needed. I also had the opportunity at home to earn money for chores so that I could buy the expensive clothes and shoes I wanted that my parents wouldn’t fund.

Do you worry about money now?
Yes, although I feel like I shouldn’t. I always feel like I should be saving more and I sometimes let that take away from living life to the fullest (saying no to nights out or weekends away because I know they will cost a lot). My boyfriend and I recently made the move back to San Diego and the cost of living here is astronomical. It gets depressing that we cannot afford a decent single-family home. Additionally, my boyfriend works in sales and I do worry that a few bad months will affect us financially, even though I could easily cover expenses.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
When I graduated college at 21 and then again at 27. I moved into an apartment with a roommate upon college graduation and covered all of my own expenses. My dad did cover the upfront first/last/security/brokers fee which was about $5,000, and I paid him back in monthly installments for six months. At 26, I quit my job and moved to Europe for a year (which I completely funded), but did move back into my parents’ house when I returned. I lived rent-free for three months while I looked for a job and did not contribute to any food costs (sorry, mom and dad, but thank you!). Since 27, I have been completely self-sufficient but could easily rely on my parents or my boyfriend’s parents as a safety net if needed. I would hope that my savings would allow us to avoid that, though.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
In addition to having my college education covered, I received $5,000 from my grandma at both high school and college graduations, most of which was spent to furnish my college dorm/new college wardrobe and furnishing my first real apartment. I have received $5,000 for the past few holidays ($15,000 in total) from my dad, most of which I’ve invested. I expect a large sum from both my grandma and parents when they pass away but that hopefully will not be for a very long time and I do not make financial decisions based on that information.

Day One

6 a.m. — My alarm goes off and it’s Friday, yay! I get up, brush my teeth, splash water on my face, go to the kitchen, and turn on the kettle for matcha and coffee. I get my dog, P., out of his crate and give him good morning pets. I drink my morning beverages along with a Larabar, do Wordle, and catch up on social media.

7 a.m. — I go to my morning Barry’s class. I purchased a six-month unlimited package over the holidays that was discounted. I go just about every day, so the classes work out to about $8 each. Also, because I work from home, this is my guaranteed opportunity to get out of the house each day.

8:30 a.m.— Home and time to start work. I’m moving slowly today because it’s Friday and I completed a few big-project items on my list yesterday. I have a few Zoom calls to check in with my manager and direct reports.

12 p.m. — I break from work and have leftover beef stew. I then go down the street to the nail salon because my boyfriend, L., and I are going to Palm Springs with another couple this weekend. I only get my nails done when I’m traveling and, wow, it really makes me feel like I have my life together. $40

12 p.m. — L. generously offers to go to FedEx to print a return label for a dress that didn’t fit. He also drops it off at the post office for me. We find ourselves printing labels at FedEx a lot and really should just figure out how to set up the printer we own. But for some reason, that just seems harder. $1

1 p.m. — Back to work. I always end up getting super busy on Friday afternoons and find myself putting out fires until around 5 p.m.

5:30 p.m. — I begin prepping a pork and cabbage udon dish for dinner while L. takes P. to the dog park to play. We don’t have udon noodles, so I sub in cassava pasta. It’s not great but also not terrible.

6:30 p.m. — I take a shower and do my whole dry brushing, gua sha, NuFACE, and skin-care routine, which helps me wind down from working all day. I make lemon tea and sit back at my laptop to finish up work. I got a new job a month ago and sadly getting up to speed has meant working much longer days than I would like.

8 p.m. — I deem myself done with working for the day, so L. and I watch an episode of Yellowstone. We pause multiple times to play with P. because he’s being boarded for the weekend (for the first time). I feel like he can sense that something is up and I start feeling a lot of dog-mom guilt.

9:30 p.m. — Go to bed. Super eventful Friday night, but honestly I’m exhausted from the week, and we have an eventful weekend ahead.

Daily Total: $41

Day Two

6 a.m. — Up bright and early so I can get in a Barry’s class before we make the drive out to Palm Springs. We’re surprising a friend for her 30th birthday, and her flight doesn’t get in until the afternoon, so we have time to kill.

8:30 a.m. — Home from Barry’s, I quickly shower and finish packing while L. drops off P. at doggie boarding ($120 split between us). I eat bacon and eggs that L. prepped while I was at my class. Once he gets back from drop-off, he helps me load the last of our stuff in the car, and we hit the road. It’s only two hours to Palm Springs, so it should be an easy drive. $60

11:30 a.m. — We arrive in Palm Springs and go straight to a deli down the street from the hotel. It’s super crowded, which must mean it’s good. I order a pastrami on rye and L. gets a turkey club — they are both amazing ($50 split between us). The deli has a huge case of cakes and pies, and we use all our strength not to order any slices because we will be out with friends eating and drinking for the rest of the day. $25

12:30 p.m. — We check in at the hotel, and luckily they have a room ready ($260 split between us). I’m super happy about that because I want to get an hour or so in at the pool before having to get ready. We change and roast ourselves in the 105-degree desert sun. I lounge poolside while L. cannot sit still and has to make up a game for himself: how fast can he go underwater from end to end. I’m with a five-year-old, but the game keeps him busy, and he doesn’t ask me when we’re leaving or doing something else. $130

3 p.m. — We go back to our room, shower, and change for an afternoon/night out. I attempt to do my makeup and hair, but the second we hit the heat outside, I realize there’s no point.

3:30 p.m. — We go downtown and sneak up on our friends, N. and K., who are already at a bar. This trip is a surprise for N., and she’s truly shocked to see us come up to their table. They’re finished with their lunch, so we walk down the street to find a new bar. We settle on a cute tiki bar and order cocktails. $15

5 p.m. — N. and K. need to go back to their hotel and freshen up before dinner, so we go out to another bar. Another friend of ours, A., made the drive from Los Angeles to meet us for the night, so he joins us at the bar, too. We grab another round of cocktails and pick up A.’s drink as well. $20

6:30 p.m.— Dinner time. We all go over to the cutest Mexican restaurant and order margarita flights, chips, and guacamole. I order chicken enchiladas, and we coordinate with the waiter to have them bring out a birthday dessert for N. The bill comes, and the boys all fight over it, but A. ends up covering the entire thing. They fight and fight and some venmoing might have happened, but L. insists that the bill is taken care of. N. and I are too busy eating dessert to worry about it.

8 p.m. — After dinner, we go to a rooftop bar for one more drink. I know that if I drink any more I will not feel good in the morning, and we’re getting up early to hike in Joshua Tree, so I stick to sparkling water with lemon. The service is super slow so after getting one round of drinks everyone is tired and ready for bed (wow, we’re getting old). We say our goodbyes (we all booked different hotels — bad planning) and go to bed. $15

10 p.m. — L. and I get back to the hotel and I realize we forgot to pack toothpaste. L. goes down to the front desk, but they don’t have any. Luckily, a drug store is open down the street, and he picks up a tube ($5 split between us). I shower and do my nightly routine while L. is out. I immediately pass out once he’s back with the toothpaste. $2.50

Daily Total: $267.50

Day Three

5:30 a.m. — I wake up to L. fumbling around the room. Turns out he wants McDonald’s breakfast. I lay in bed and watch TikToks while he’s out. He comes back with an iced coffee for me and about 10 different breakfast items (L. pays). None of them look appetizing to me, so I just have the coffee and a Larabar that I packed.

7 a.m. — We meet up with K. and N. at their hotel and make a game plan for the park. I’m not in the mood to hike in the heat today and would much rather be laying by the pool, but N. and K. have never been to Joshua Tree, and we want to spend more time with them.

8 a.m. — We arrive in downtown Joshua Tree and stop at a to-go café for food. I grab a surprisingly great breakfast sandwich and the world’s fanciest, most expensive single-use water bottle. L. grabs a fruit cup, and I pay ($16). We get back in the car and drive into the park and pay the entrance fee ($15 for my part). $31

10 a.m. — We have a great time on a little 1.5-mile loop, other than the fact that we’re all sweating profusely and there’s absolutely no shade. N. and K. want to do a 3.5-mile hike that L. and I are not feeling because it’s only getting hotter, and we need to start driving back soon so we can miss the traffic and get P. from doggie boarding before it closes. We sadly say goodbye to N. and K. and begin our drive out of the park. We stop at a few quick sites on the way out.

11:30 p.m.— On our way back through downtown Joshua Tree we stop at a little gift shop so L. can look for a shirt. We don’t find anything cool, but we do find a nice magnet and also pick up road-trip candy (L. pays).

12:30 p.m. — We have extra time so we drive back toward Palm Springs to go back to the same deli from yesterday. We get two sandwiches and also order a slice of key lime pie and a slice of carrot cake. We split the bill ($40 for my half) and agree that we will not be wanting dinner, which is good because we have no food at home. We stop for gas and put $50 in the tank ($25 for my half). $65

4 p.m. — We make it back to San Diego, after only encountering a little bit of traffic. We pick up P. from boarding, and he’s excited but won’t even look at us. He’s definitely mad at us for leaving him. Sorry, buddy. L. generously offers to do a grocery trip for us. I have a work trip for two days next week, so it’s a light list, which is good because it takes L. three times as long to navigate the grocery store. L. goes to Trader Joe’s and picks up ingredients for salads, ground beef tacos, beef stew, and other various weekly needs ($80 split between us). $40

6 p.m. — I unpack, put in laundry, and tidy up the apartment. I’m exhausted so I shower and do my full dry brush, gua sha, NuFACE, and nightly skin-care routine. I make lemon tea, sit on the couch with P., and watch the first episode of Conversations with Friends. Literally three hours later, L. gets home with groceries and I help him unpack.

8 p.m. — I cannot keep my eyes open, so I move myself to bed and switch to watching the new HBO version of The Time Traveler’s Wife on my iPad. The premise of the show is a little cringe, but I loved the book/movie growing up, so it feels nostalgic. I pass out the second the episode is over.

Daily Total: $136

Day Four

6 a.m. — Up and back on the normal morning routine. I have my matcha, coffee, and Larabar and put in an order for more Nespresso pods ($40 split between us). I go to my Barry’ class. $20

8:30 a.m. — Back from class, I log on to a few work meetings. My manager’s son was exposed to COVID, so we cancel our onsite meeting later in the week. I’m super bummed because I haven’t met my coworkers in person and I look for any excuse to travel. My flight and hotel were all booked through work so they eat the cost for a non-refundable hotel, and I get a flight credit for later use.

12 p.m. — I snack on dried mango and plantain chips. I get an Instagram ad for a Target dog pool and order it to my parents’ house. I’m spending a few weeks there with P. while L. is back home for bachelor parties and figure P. will have a blast cooling down in the pool. I pay for it because L. won’t get to experience the puppy entertainment. $25

5:30 p.m. — I whip up the world’s quickest meal, ground beef tacos, while L. takes P. to the dog park. P. is over 100 pounds and I don’t feel comfortable being at the dog park solo with him because I can’t physically control him if there’s an emergency. I join L. when I can or just take P. on walks. Lately, because I’ve been working so much, L. has been a lifesaver in exercising the dog, and I’m so grateful. We eat dinner, and L. goes to play pickup ball with friends, while I get back to work for a few hours.

8 p.m. — I shower and do the full nighttime routine. I make lemon tea, sit on the couch, and watch new episodes of Workin’ Moms (highly underrated show). I pass out around 9. Yes, I love sleep!

Daily Total: $45

Day Five

6 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm and do the same routine as every day because I’m a creature of habit: matcha, coffee, Larabar, Wordle, Barry’s class.

8:30 a.m. — Back home and log on to work. I have quite a few meetings this morning so I grab a slice of banana bread (made last week) and a Nespresso and settle in at my desk.

12 p.m. — Break for lunch and I realize I have no food because I thought I was going to be gone this week. I have dried mangos and plantain chips and hope that this holds me over until dinner.

3 p.m. — I take a work break to start prepping the millions of chopped ingredients that this beef stew requires. It’s amazing and we’ve been making it just about every week, but it takes forever to prep.

5:30 p.m. — L. takes P. to the dog park again while I prep the stew in the Instant Pot. I work while it’s cooking. L. gets back and immediately goes out to play basketball. I eat solo and continue to work.

7 p.m. — I get tired of working and get into a booking travel mood. I look into the flights we’ll need to take for holiday travel, and they’re already more expensive than I’d like. We have to fly in and out of an unpopular airport and flight times and prices are always terrible. L. gets home and I convince him that we should pull the trigger on these now ($820 split between us). He agrees. $410

9 p.m. — I got caught up with booking flights and chatting with our parents about dates and am exhausted. I shower quickly and do a modified nighttime routine. L. and I lay in bed and watch an episode of Yellowstone until I pass out.

Daily Total: $410

Day Six

6 p.m. — You guessed it: up to my alarm and morning routine. I head out the door to my Barry’s class.

8:30 a.m. — Finished with my workout, I run next door to the grocery store to grab more ingredients for meals this week. I swear I grab about five things and it costs $80 (split between us). $40

12 p.m. — I break for lunch and have an actual meal: a turkey, avocado, and spinach wrap. I online shop/browse a bit. I have a signing bonus of ($5,000) coming to me in my next paycheck and I’ve already decided that I’m going to use some of it to buy new clothes for a Cabo trip for my upcoming 30th birthday. I always cheap out on summer and beach clothes but now that I’m living back in Southern California, I can justify these purchases more. I’ve been eyeing a few bikinis from Monday Swimwear, so I pull the trigger on two. I will definitely only keep one but I want to try a few styles to see what I like. $315

4 p.m. — L. calls me into his office to check out P.’s skin. It looks like he has been itching himself a lot and has sores on his hips. We think it’s stress, dry skin, or allergies, so I go on Amazon and order a special shampoo and a kelp supplement that I read is good for skin issues. $12.50

5:30 p.m. — I found a recipe for black bean and chicken tostadas that I want to try, so I get started on the prep while L. takes P. to the dog park. When L. gets back, we eat, and then he goes to the gym while I work for another hour. L. stops at Target to pick up body wash because we’re out. $5

8 p.m. — I wrap up work and do a quick 10-minute pilates arm workout. I’ve been trying to incorporate more movement into my afternoons/evenings but haven’t kept up with it since starting this new job. I hop in the shower and do my full nighttime routine.

9 p.m. — I park myself on the couch and cuddle up with P. for another episode of Conversations with Friends until L. is done with work. We watch an episode of Yellowstone and pass out.

Daily Total: $372.50

Day Seven

6 a.m. — Same morning routine as usual and I leave for Barry’s.

8:30 a.m. — Back from class, I heat up a slice of banana bread and Earl Grey tea. I log onto a few Zoom meetings with my team and then do some heads-down work.

12 p.m. — I make another turkey, avocado, and spinach wrap. Our friends who we were supposed to meet for dinner reschedule, so I guess it’s leftover night because I didn’t have anything planned and absolutely don’t want to spend more money on groceries this week.

4 p.m. — It’s a lighter workday and I don’t have anything immediately due, so I go with L. and P. to the dog park. Our dog is so low-energy that he runs around for about two minutes and then just parks it in the shade with a tennis ball until we’re ready to go. It’s comical, but I’m glad we don’t have a high-energy dog at this point in our lives.

5:30 p.m. — We scavenge together all the leftovers in our apartment. I make a leftover tostada and L. has just about everything else that we have in our fridge.

6 p.m. — I catch up on emails that came in while I was logged off, make lemon tea, and browse Instagram for outfit ideas. Ever since the COVID lockdown, I feel like I don’t know what to wear and I’m always in sweats.

8 p.m. — I shower and do my full nighttime routine. L. and I then settle in and watch a few episodes of Yellowstone until we fall asleep.

Daily Total: $0

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