A Week In San Diego, CA, On A $260,000 Salary

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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 law associate who makes $260,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on Thai food.
Occupation: Associate
Industry: Law
Age: 29
Location: San Diego, CA
Salary: $260,000, plus bonus (Last year my bonus was $64,000.)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $5,897
Monthly Expenses
Mortgage: $5,070, including taxes and insurance
Student Loan Payment: $3,000. (Law school is expensive and I'm paying down my loans aggressively.)
Health, Vision, Dental & Life Insurance: $320
Utilities: $180
Cell Phones: $132 for our family plan
TV, Internet & Landline: $142 (Landline is for my husband's business.)
Spotify: $10
Netflix: $10.99
Car Lease Payment: $400
Car Insurance: $150 for our two cars
401(k): $870
Roth 401(k): $220
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Day One

6 a.m. — I get up with the alarm and eat the granola bar on my bedside table before even getting out of bed. I'm just transitioning into my second trimester of pregnancy and the nausea hasn't let up yet. I've found that eating small meals throughout the day helps keep my energy up (“up” is relative) and prevents some of the nausea. I let our dog out and she happily stays in the backyard while I shower and get ready for my day. Then I answer emails and bill my time from the previous week from my home office in order to let the dog stay outside a little longer. Usually I don't worry about our dog in the mornings because my husband works from home and takes care of her, but he's out of town today, so the morning routine is on me. This means I leave for work later than usual. I would stay and work from home during the morning, but I have a flight to catch at 1 p.m. and several team meetings before that. I'm out the door by 7:30.
8 a.m. — I arrive at the office and get to work immediately. I eat a packet of instant oatmeal and take my prenatal vitamins. I also drink as much water as I can throughout the day, keeping a water bottle at my desk and refilling it several times. I used to drink about three cups of coffee a day (lawyer life), but pregnancy put a stop to that. By 11, I'm finished with my last team call and I'm on my way to the airport.
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11:30 a.m. — I arrive at the airport and park in the lot. My husband's flight lands in a few hours and he'll pick up the car to drive it home. $20
11:50 a.m. — After I'm through security (thank you TSA Precheck), I grab a chicken burrito bowl with extra veggies from Qdoba and get as much work done as I can before boarding my flight. I also get a soda, which is out of character for me, but I want a small caffeine boost. ($14.92 expensed)
1 p.m. — On my flight to New York, I pay the ridiculous $34 for internet because time is money and I can't afford to be out of communication for five hours. The flight comes with “lunch” (a.k.a. a snack) and I choose the cheese plate. It's actually a perfect pregnancy snack – hard cheese, crackers, apple slices, grapes, and almonds. ($34 expensed)
9:30 p.m. — Arrive in New York at 9:30 p.m., thanks to the time difference, and hop in a Lyft to my hotel. ($60.10 expensed)
10:30 p.m. — I'm finally at my hotel and stop by the Duane Reade next door to buy a thumb drive (I can't believe I left mine on my desk at work), the salad that least looks like it'll kill me, a Kind bar, and instant oatmeal. Then I get back to work out of my hotel room while I eat the salad (without a fork, because I forgot to buy one) and half of the Kind bar, and take my prenatal vitamins. I'm not a late-night person, and I need sleep before my deposition tomorrow, so I take my anti-nausea medication and crash at 1:15 a.m. I read a few pages of a book on my Kindle before bed – it calms my mind and helps me stop worrying about work. ($33 expensed)
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Daily Total: $20

Day Two

5 a.m. — I'm rudely woken up by my own alarm. I don't even want to think about what time it is at home. I've been traveling so much lately that I'm not really on a time zone at this point anyway. I eat the second half of the Kind bar that I saved from last night, take my nausea medication, and snooze for about 10 minutes. (Snoozing isn't normal for me, but I've been more tired lately, thanks to growing a human child in my body.) Then I get out of bed and answer emails before hopping in the shower. While I shower, I let the steam de-wrinkle my suit. I eat two packets of oatmeal, take my prenatal vitamins, and drink of cup of decaf coffee while I finish prepping for my deposition. At some point, my stomach decides that decaf coffee is not cool and I promptly throw up everything I've just eaten.
8:30 a.m. — Makeup and hair done, suit on, deposition outline printed (thanks hotel business center), and I'm out the door. I grab a banana from a bowl of fruit on my way out of the hotel to save for later. I walk to the opposing counsel's office, since it's a relatively nice 40 degree morning in New York. It's only half a mile away, and a walk in the fresh air is much better for my nausea than a taxi ride.
9 a.m. — Deposition time. Opposing counsel provides lunch. I eat salad and a veggie sandwich, even though I would much prefer turkey, but I can't have deli meat. I grab a cookie too, to round out the meal. Since I haven't gotten to sleep much, I drink a cup of coffee during the deposition. (I take the 200 milligram rule very seriously!)
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3:15 p.m. — I'm on my way to the airport. Halfway through the deposition I had my secretary get me on a later flight because the deposition was going longer than expected. The only flight she could book was three hours later and now I have time to kill. I would rather get to the airport and set up shop so I can work from there than spend time commuting to my company's New York office. During the car ride I have a call with one of our experts for the case. I try to keep my downtime as minimal as possible. Once I arrive at the airport, I send a couple of urgent emails before I even have a chance to go through security. ($83 expensed)
4:45 p.m. — I see that there's an earlier flight home on the same airline, so I go to the gate and request to be put on standby. There are only middle seats left, but that's completely worth it to me. And there is no change fee, so I'm not costing the firm anything. A large storm is coming into New York tonight and I want to get out of here ASAP. I work at the gate while waiting for the flight.
6 p.m. — I make it onto the earlier flight! I also keep getting alerts that my later flight is delayed due to weather, and I'm very happy I got to the airport early and asked to switch. I do regret not having the chance to grab food in the airport, but I eat the banana I hoarded as I line up to board the flight. Once on the plane, the $18.99 airline wifi is atrocious, and my emails keep getting stuck in my outbox. I can't connect to my VPN, so I do as much work as I can without having access to my firm network. It's painful to be on a five and a half hour flight and be disconnected from my team. ($18.99 expensed)
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7 p.m. — I order a snack box with hummus, almonds, and crackers on the flight. ($9.95 expensed)
9:20 p.m. — I answer a few emails at the airport that I didn't get while on the plane and grab a Starbucks breakfast sandwich to eat on my way out. I would normally just wait until I get home to eat, but lack of food leads to nausea. ($4.63 expensed)
10 p.m. — I make it home after an entirely too-chatty Lyft ride. I'll still tip and give her 5 stars, but I did not need to know about her Tinder experiences. I crash into bed with my husband after sending a couple of emails and taking my prenatal vitamins and nausea medication. I'm so happy to be home. ($48 expensed)
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

6 a.m. — My alarm is not my friend today. I snuggle with my husband for 10 minutes because I haven't seen him in five days. I wish I could sleep in and have him make me breakfast, but no rest for the weary. Before dragging myself out of bed, I take my nausea medication. Then I finally get up to shower and get ready for work while eating half a granola bar. I listen to a podcast while getting ready. I also spend a little time with our cat, who has been unhappy with all my travel.
7 a.m. — Out the door. I buy a bagel on my way to work because oatmeal does not sound appetizing. I'm in the office and working by 7:30 a.m. I take my prenatal vitamins – I keep a bottle at the office and a bottle at home because I take them in the morning and at night with food. $2.95
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9:30 a.m. — I break down and drink a half-decaf, half-regular coffee from the office machine. A meeting was cancelled, so we have bagels and muffins in the kitchen. I grab half a muffin because I'm already hungry. I should have had protein this morning rather than just carbs to keep me full longer.
11:30 a.m. — I take half an hour to run to Mendocino Farms to pick up a salad and a side of spicy potato salad for lunch. I'll eat half of the potato salad and save the rest for an afternoon snack. The food is way overpriced there, but I haven't spent much money this week, so I splurge a little for the convenience factor. I'm so impressed by people who meal prep and bring their lunches to work. I'm lucky if I remember to bring leftovers from whatever my husband prepared for dinner the night before. I eat the salad at my desk as I get back to billing. $16.95
1:30 p.m. — Time for a coffee nap. Half-caffeinated coffee followed by 15 minutes laying on a yoga mat in my office. It takes about that long for the caffeine to hit my system, and in the meantime I can relax my body and my mind.
2:30 p.m. — I eat the second half of my potato salad while working.
4 p.m. — One of the secretaries gives me an apple from her backyard for a snack. She's so sweet and always shares her fresh fruit.
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5:10 p.m. — I make the horrendous mistake of going to the pharmacy to pick up my nausea prescription ($40) right around the time most people get off work. It should take 20 minutes, and instead takes 40. I grab milk and a few apples while I'm there to keep at the office ($4.78). $44.78
7 p.m. — I make a green shake to eat at my desk while working. My work is never-ending and I'm uncomfortable in the pencil skirt I wore to work, so I decide to drive home at 7:15 and finish working from my home office.
7:40 p.m. — I'm back to billing from the comfort of my home, wearing pajamas as my husband makes turkey tacos. My husband typically does the grocery shopping and the majority of the cooking because he works from home. Back when we only had one car, I took on the grocery responsibilities, but I finally leased my car after four years of living in California. It's a splurge (my family thinks a car is “new” if it's less than 10 years old), but I love it, and my husband was going stir crazy in San Diego without a dedicated car of his own. I take a quick break from work to watch TV with my husband on the couch. Schitt's Creek is so good. Then I work from the home office until 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $64.68

Day Four

6 a.m. — Up with my alarm. I would sleep in, but I have a 6:30 a.m. call with people on the East Coast and no time to lose today. I take a quick shower and am logged onto my computer in the home office by 6:25. I eat a couple of pieces of Hawaiian bread while taking my call. It isn't a real breakfast, but hopefully it'll stave off my hunger-induced nausea.
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7:10 a.m. — I take nausea medication and make a quick scramble of eggs, spinach, leftover turkey meat, and cheese while getting ready for work. It's an unusual combination, but I need the protein and my iron levels have been low despite the prenatal vitamins. I spend the extra two minutes putting on under-eye concealer (not part of my typical makeup routine) because I look like death today from the lack of sleep.
8 a.m. — I'm out the door an hour later than normal, so traffic is heavy. I get into the office at 8:30, grab a half-caf coffee from the office machine, and immediately get to work. I have another call in half an hour. I eat a banana I brought from home after the call.
11:45 a.m. — I take a half hour break to get a shrimp bowl from Rubio's. I eat it at my desk while working. $10.29
3 p.m. — After a midday filing I need a little pick-me-up, so I drive to Starbucks and get a chai latte. I get an extra one for the secretary who has been busting her butt for us on this case. Sometimes after a particularly brutal midnight filing I'll give each of the secretaries a bottle of wine as a thank you. They aren't compensated nearly as well as attorneys and they have to deal with high-stress situations all the time. $9.20
4:30 p.m. — I eat an apple with a sizable portion of Nutella, which I keep in a dedicated food drawer in my desk for days like today.
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6 p.m. — My brain is no longer working and I have more work to do, so I head home to switch into comfortable clothes and work from there. I pick up Thai food for dinner (since my husband is out watching basketball with friends) and take a break watching trashy TV while I eat. I'm back to working by 8 p.m. $19.50
9:30 p.m. — I can only stay focused until about 9:30, so I take my nausea medication, eat half a granola bar, and quit for the night. My husband gets home about the time I'm slipping into bed with a book and we chat for a bit while I fall asleep. He knows I'm exhausted and doesn't try to keep me up too long, but it's good to spend time with him during this crazy week.
Daily Total: $38.99

Day Five

5 a.m. — I wake up an hour earlier than normal because I didn't get nearly as much done as I needed to last night. I'm working by 5:20, but unfortunately another fire drill pops up for the case that has been monopolizing my time, and I have to shift focus to that from the case I was planning to work on. While working, I make avocado toast for breakfast with an avocado from the tree in my backyard. One of the many reasons I love living in Southern California. Then I take a quick shower and switch over to working on another case.
7 a.m. — So much for the avocado toast. I forgot to take the nausea medication this morning and now I really regret that. I lay back in bed for about 20 minutes to feel better after throwing up breakfast. Then I eat a banana and get back to work.
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10:30 a.m. — I take a 10-minute break to eat an apple and hang out in the backyard with my husband and our dog. We bought a tiny house on a large lot (large for San Diego) and the backyard is my happy place.
11:30 a.m. — I eat my leftover Thai food for lunch while working. By noon, I'm exhausted, so I lay down for 45 minutes before we have to go to our ultrasound. Work can wait for a bit.
12:45 p.m. — My husband and I drive to the ultrasound separately because I need to go into the office afterwards. Ultrasounds are amazing. Our little girl is only three inches long, and yet we can see her stubby little fingers and toes and hear her heartbeat! Everything looks good, which is a relief because I've been feeling so awful lately. We get a couple copies of the best print-out to give to our parents. There is no copay at the appointment – thanks, insurance!
2 p.m. — I pick up a Crunchwrap from Taco Bell on my drive into work. Yes, I love Taco Bell. And yes, as a native Southern Californian I am aware that it is not "real Mexican food.” I also happen to love real Mexican food, but sometimes a girl's gotta eat a Crunchwrap with about five packets of that Taco Bell hot sauce. I work at the office for the afternoon. I head out at 6:30 p.m., knowing I have more work to do, but I plan to finish up working at the kitchen counter while hanging out with my husband. $3.95
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7 p.m. — I work while my husband grills chicken and makes baked potatoes. After dinner, we watch NCAA basketball until I'm about ready to pass out at 10.
Daily Total: $3.95

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and answer emails on my phone while lazing in bed. At around 9, my husband makes chorizo breakfast burritos while I work. I add avocado and tomato from our garden to my burrito. After breakfast, my husband and I sit outside to enjoy the nice weather. This turns into me falling asleep on the outdoor couch for a nice half-hour nap.
12:30 — I take the dog on her favorite hike close by our house. I haven't had a chance to work out all week and I know I'm supposed to stay active during pregnancy. After the hike my husband makes chicken Caesar wraps with the leftover grilled chicken while I (surprise!) work. And then our neighbors stop by to drop off fresh eggs from their chickens! I plan to make lemon bars for them using lemons from our backyard as a thank you.
2 p.m. — My husband and I go down our little beach town's main street to walk around. I buy two wrap dresses from a local boutique that will fit as my belly grows. $158
3 p.m. — We stop by our favorite bar to watch NCAA basketball. He has two beers and I have a root beer. $20
4:30 — I need a snack, so I buy toast with hummus, lemon, olive oil, arugula, and cucumbers from a café nearby. $5.50
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5 p.m. — Some friends invite us over for dinner of tri-tip, roasted homegrown root vegetables, and sweet potatoes. Absolutely delicious! And I get to tell them about the baby, which is very fun.
8:30 p.m. — Our friends are going to a show at a local music venue, which we were also supposed to attend, but we waited too long to buy tickets and now it's sold out. (I'm not-so-secretly happy not to be going to the show, because I am absolutely exhausted.) We drive home while they Uber to the venue. Once our friends get there, they find someone selling a ticket and buy it for my husband, so I get back in the car and drop him off at the venue. (He pays them back, $30.) With work and the pregnancy, I haven't been up for staying out late, so I'm glad when my husband goes out without me. I get home at 9:30 and crash immediately. $30
Daily Total: $213.50

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I'm awake and answering emails. I plan on being lazy today; watching Netflix while working. I remember to take my nausea medication right when I wake up, and eat a Hawaiian roll to keep my stomach happy.
8:30 a.m. — I eat a banana and a couple of pieces of toast while watching Love on Netflix and working. At noon I can no longer keep my eyes open, so I take a nap. I sleep until 1:30, which is longer than I meant to sleep, but after this week, I think my body needs it. I wake up to several urgent emails and get back to work.
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3 p.m. — I need ingredients for the lemon bars, so I head to the grocery store. Buy Buy Baby is in the same complex and my mother and sister have been hounding me to look into baby registries, so I walk through and get immediately overwhelmed. That place is a nightmare. I'll be doing all of my baby shopping online, thanks. At the grocery store I get powdered sugar and baking powder, plus everything else we need for the week: milk, chicken, cucumbers, romaine lettuce, carrots, potatoes, mixed greens, ground turkey, tortillas, cheese, bread, pickles, veggie burgers, and ham. It's amazing how inexpensive groceries can be when you aren't buying any wine. $86
5 p.m. — My husband picks lemons from our tree and juices them for me as I prepare the crust for the lemon bars. I love baking, but I love it even more when someone else does the hard part like juice a million tiny lemons for lemon bars or peel apples for a pie. I finish up baking the lemon bars but they need to set before I can arrange them. By the time they set, it's too late to bring over to the neighbors (they have little kids who go to bed early), so I'll have my husband run them over tomorrow while I'm at work. While I bake, my husband brings in the mail. One of my best friends from college sent me a hilarious card and a onesie from our favorite podcast – My Favorite Murder! I text her immediately to tell her how much I look forward to putting our little girl in the “Sweet Baby Angel” onesie.
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7 p.m. — My husband cooks peanut chicken while I work. Then we snuggle on the couch and watch the new episode of Silicon Valley followed by Altered Carbon on Netflix and then Barry on HBO. I'm not sold on Altered Carbon, but I'm immediately into Barry. By 10:30 p.m., the Sunday scaries have officially set in and I'm not looking forward to another busy week. But at least this time I won't have to jet off to the other side of the country (that I know of). Time for sleep.
Daily Total: $86
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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