A Week In Petaluma, CA, On A $65,000 Salary

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Today: a digital marketing specialist working in furniture who makes $65,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on nachos.
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Occupation: Digital Marketing Specialist
Industry: Furniture
Age: 22
Location: Petaluma, CA
Salary: $65,000
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $1,873
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,425 (I split the rent with my boyfriend.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (My parents paid my college tuition in full.)
Car Loan Payment: $125 (I split the car loan with my boyfriend.)
Health, Dental & Vision Insurance: $85
Gas & Electric: $100 (If it's more than $100, my boyfriend pays the rest.)
Water: $65
Garbage: $17
Spotify: $5 (I'm still using a student account.)
Internet: $0 (My boyfriend pays.)
Netflix: $0 (We use my dad's account.)
Additional Expenses
Car Insurance:
~$1,000 (paid once a year)

Day One

5:30 a.m. — I wake up and make coffee at home. I kiss my boyfriend goodbye before heading out the door to walk the dog. I listen to podcasts while I walk (The Daily, then Invisibilia) for about an hour. The sunrise is lovely. I get home and get ready for work, trying to find something to wear and realizing that I really need to do laundry. I make a smoothie for breakfast and put it in my purse to have when I get to work.
12 p.m. — I should take real lunch breaks more often, but most of the time I just eat at my desk so I can go home a little earlier (even though I rarely actually go home early). I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, and a granola bar that I brought from home. I like bringing my own lunch because I can save a lot of money and time. I usually make PB&Js for my boyfriend and me the night before and take a few trips to the coffee machine down the hall throughout the day. I spend the day in front of a computer, so frequent breaks are important! I make a lot of progress on my projects today.
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7 p.m. — I go home (a little) early from work so I can get ready for a work dinner tonight. My boss is retiring and invited my whole department (and their significant others) to a nice dinner to celebrate. It's at an Italian restaurant and we all get wine and pasta. My boyfriend gets along well with my coworkers and it is so nice to meet everyone's SOs. My boss pays for the whole meal. We go home with full bellies and go straight to bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

8 a.m. — I sleep in and cuddle with my dog for a while before I finally made it out of bed. I make coffee and head out for my usually morning dog walk. When I get back, I spend two hours cleaning the whole house (my Saturday ritual). I reward my efforts with breakfast: avocado toast, a hard boiled egg, and a banana.
1 p.m. — I meet two of my coworkers at a local beer garden. I usually only hang out with my boyfriend, so I'm excited to do something social and build my friendships with the people I work with. It's a beautiful day, so we sit outside to drink and eat nachos. I have two beers. We split the bill evenly; my portion comes out to about $30 including a generous tip, since the waiter is very nice and funny. $30
4 p.m. — I stop at the grocery store on my way home for my usual weekly necessities. I get bananas, peanut butter, cottage cheese, and chips (for my lunches this week); chicken breasts, cheese, bread, mushrooms, and tortillas (for dinners this week); and laundry detergent, apple cider vinegar, and trash bags since we ran out recently. I usually spend a long time in the grocery store comparing prices and looking for the best value. $84
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6 p.m. — My boyfriend makes us homemade pizza for dinner and I prepare a salad with lettuce from our garden. His pizzas are always delicious, and they're actually pretty inexpensive since he makes the dough and sauce from scratch. He splurged on an outdoor pizza oven a few months ago (he says it was on sale at the hardware store), and it cooks a pizza in about five minutes!
Daily Total: $114

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up early and decide to take the dog for a hike. I make coffee at home and load up the dog in the car. We drive to the regional park about 15 minutes from the house and hike for an hour and a half. It's sunny and crisp outside, and the dog enjoys the little adventure. When we get home, I make breakfast (Kashi cereal and a banana).
11 a.m. — My boyfriend and I meet up with friends at a local winery. They know someone who works there, so we get free wine tastings and 50% off purchases! The estate is gorgeous, so we walk around for a while before enjoying our wine tasting. I buy two bottles, one sparkling and one red, which comes out to just $30 after the discount. We play bocce ball and end up drinking the bottle of sparkling during our game. $30
2 p.m. — After wine tasting, we're all getting hungry, so we go to a BBQ place nearby. We got burgers and beers and split the bill. My boyfriend pays for our half. Then we spent the next hour talking about the business that we want to start together. My boyfriend and the other guy are both landscapers, so they want to start a landscaping company that they can work on on afternoons and weekends in addition to their day jobs. I would help them set up their website and digital marketing, and our other friend would help with billing and bookkeeping. We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, but it'll take time to get it off the ground.
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7 p.m. — After a pretty heavy (and late) lunch, I'm not hungry for dinner, so we just have snacks and watch TV at home. I get my stuff together for tomorrow (I like to plan my outfits for the next day every night) and make our lunches. We're in bed by 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $30

Day Four

6 a.m. — It's pouring rain outside when I wake up on Monday, but I'm pretty committed to my daily dog walks, so we gear up and head out. When we get back a half hour later, both me and the dog are totally soaked and it takes me a while to get us cleaned up and dried off. I get ready for work and pack my yoga clothes for the class I plan to go to after, pack my lunch and head to work.
12 p.m. — It's a pretty mellow day at work and I've been steadily checking things off my to-do list all morning. I eat my lunch and snacks at my desk (PB&J, hard boiled egg, banana) and decide to go for a walk during my lunch break. There's a nice wetlands nature park across from my office, and now that the weather has cleared up, it's beautiful out. I take a trail that I assume will loop around, but I end up having to turn around and hustle back so I'm not gone too long. I check my Health app and see that I already walked three miles today!
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5 p.m. — My regular yoga studio is about a half an hour drive away downtown, where parking is kinda tricky. I leave work a little early, change clothes on my way out, and drive to the studio. I park on the street in a metered space, which is $3 for two hours. I'm glad I made time to go to yoga today because I really needed it! I was feeling sore and tight, but the gentle Vinyasa flow did the trick. $3
7 p.m. — After my yoga class, I walk over to Starbucks and get a small black coffee ($1.95). It is WAY too hot, so after scalding my tongue, I douse it with cream and head back to the car. At home, my boyfriend saved me pizza (BBQ chicken this time). I make our lunches for tomorrow and we settle into the couch for Last Week Tonight and Vice News. $1.95
Daily Total: $4.95

Day Five

6 a.m. — We both slept horribly last night because the neighbor's dog was barking outside all night. I sleep in an extra 30 minutes. Then I do my normal morning routine: coffee, dog walk, get ready, make breakfast, head to work. It's sunny this morning, so I take the long way, driving past the pastures of sheep.
12 p.m. — I have a really successful morning of checking things off my to-do list. I prepare for a meeting scheduled with my boss this afternoon. I've only been in this position for a few months, so I'm trying really hard to make a good impression and go above and beyond (because I hope to get a raise at the end of the year!). I eat my lunch at my desk (PB&J, chips, hard boiled egg) but then my boyfriend calls me to ask if I want to meet up for lunch. He drives around all over the county for his job as a landscape project manager, so he happened to be at a project near my office. Since I've already eaten, we decide to meet for a walk in the nature park. It's a nice little break in the middle of the day and I get in some fresh air and kisses.
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6 p.m. — The meeting with my boss goes great; I don't know why I was stressed about it! He's very approachable, and these meetings are really just to give us the opportunity to check in about my projects and ask any questions. I'm really liking this company and the people I work with. I feel valued and appreciated, and I think the work I'm doing is making a difference! I come home and make myself a nice cocktail while my boo makes dinner (more pizza). He brings in salad greens from the garden, which I toss with Caesar dressing and homemade croutons. We tend to eat the same thing all week because it makes grocery shopping and cooking quicker and easier. This week is obviously pizza week, but we mix it up often.
8 p.m. — We go over our finances again to make sure everything is even. Since the rent, water, electric/gas, and garbage ($3,027) come out of my account and he deals with the Internet, car lease, and car insurance ($435), he gives me a check for $1,300 each month. I take care of most of the groceries so he can focus on paying off his debt. I'm also trying to save up to buy my car once the lease is up. I have $9,000 now, but in a year, I need to have at least $15,000 so I can buy the car outright and avoid financing it. I'm thinking about investing in mutual funds, but the process seems complicated and I'm not sure if now is the right time with the market going up and down. We're both doing pretty well, but he needs to pay off his debt. We both want to save up to buy a house.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6 a.m. — Neither of us wanted to get out of bed this morning. I snooze the alarm a couple times and we have sexy time instead ;). I take the dog for a longer walk than normal and jump in the shower when I get home. I decide to wear my "power pants" today because I'm just feeling good. I make a smoothie, pack my lunch, and head to work.
10 a.m. — I have a meeting with my team to go over our projects. My boss gave me a few new projects to handle this week and gives us updates on the progress of the showroom we're redesigning for an upcoming trade show. There will be a lot of work coming down the line soon, but there's nothing we can start on yet. This is the calm before the storm.
11 a.m. — I signed up for a brown bag Lunch and Learn last week as part of our wellness program that focuses on "handling difficult situations," so I head down to the conference room. The presentation was good and we learn about how to minimize conflict in the workplace. The main take-away was that we can only control our reactions and we shouldn't take the behavior of others personally. Overall, it was helpful and gave me good interpersonal tools. I snack on Sun Chips that they provide.
12 p.m. — I take a little break, walk down to the nature park, and sit on a bench in the shade to read my book. I'm on the third book of the Millennium series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
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12:30 p.m. — I head back to my desk and eat my lunch — PB&J, banana, and cottage cheese. I spend the rest of the afternoon checking things off my to-do list, but I don't get as much done as I had hoped. I stay a little late, and head home at 5:45 p.m.
6 p.m. — My new Girlfriend Collective leggings have arrived! I got a free pair a couple years ago as part of a promotion, and they're the only ones I wear now, so I decided to buy a second pair. They fit great and the packaging is beautiful. My boyfriend and I drink cocktails and eat salad and homemade pizza. We spend the evening watching Vice News Tonight and Troy, and then go to bed at 10 p.m.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6 a.m. — It's really hard to wake up this morning. The house is chilly, which makes getting out from under the covers difficult. I finally get out of bed, make my coffee, and walk the dog. I do squats and push-ups on a park bench, and then get ready and kiss my man goodbye when he leaves. I make a smoothie and head to work.
12 p.m. — My boss's boss is retiring, and today is her surprise retirement party with the whole company. I help decorate with balloons and hang a piñata. She is so surprised and she tears up when she walks into the room. We eat cake and Mexican food and hang out for a couple hours. The afternoon is slow and I don't feel like working much today, especially after eating a bunch of cake.
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5 p.m. — I get home and the house smells delicious. My man is cooking homemade (from scratch!) potatos au gratin. So. Much. Yes. We take the dog to the park across the street to play ball. He doesn't always listen but he loves fetch, so we compromise by playing fetch with a 50 foot leash on. He gets tired out pretty quickly. We eat our delicious dinner (potatoes, BBQ chicken, and salad from the garden) and settle in for TV time. I fall asleep on the couch and my boyfriend carries me to bed.
Daily Total: $0
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