A Week In Seattle, WA, On A $90,000 Salary

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 customer relations manager who makes $90,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on a kitten.

Occupation: Customer Relations Manager
Industry: E-Commerce
Age: 26
Location: Seattle, WA
Salary: $90,000
Net Worth: $33,437 (I have $33,576.28 across my checking/savings/high-yield savings account, $6,521.71 in my 401(k), and $1,285.34 in my investment portfolio which all adds up to $41,383.33)
Debt: $7,945.51 (remainder of my car loan)
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $4,953.88
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1,585 for a one-bedroom apartment (includes water, gas, and sewage)
Car Loan: $230.45
Internet: $50
Electric: $35
Hulu: $6.99
Amazon/Netflix/Spotify/HBO: I cover Hulu/Disney for my parents and sister and they cover these
iCloud Storage: $0.99
Yoga Studio: $109 for unlimited classes
Cell Phone: My parents cover my portion of the family plan for now. When I’m 27 I’ll start Venoming my dad for my portion, which he cannot wait for.
Ellevest Contribution: $30
Savings: $480
Dental Insurance: $20
Vision Insurance: $2
Health Insurance: $195.78

Annual Expenses:
Car Insurance & Renters’ Insurance: $1,301
Disney+: $79.99/year

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, education was absolutely prioritized in my house. Growing up, good grades and extracurriculars were a constant topic of conversation so we could get into top schools. I received a couple of small grants/scholarships, but I’m super lucky that my parents covered the rest of my schooling so I graduated with zero student loans.

Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t have a ton of actual conversations about money, but I knew we had it. My mom was the breadwinner of the house and likes nice things. As my sister and I got older, we knew based on the things my mom bought, the vacations we went on, and the club sports we played. We did learn to balance checkbooks growing up, which, despite writing maybe two to three checks a year, I still do now.

What was your first job and why did you get it?
Aside from the typical babysitting gigs/working school snack bars or events for cash, my first real government-sanctioned paycheck was my senior year of high school coaching a youth sports program. This was for extra money to save and spend with friends.

Did you worry about money growing up?
No, I knew we were in a good financial place. Our family took yearly camping trips, as well as other sporadic vacations, and my parents would often buy nice things. When my sister and I wanted to buy or do something, we would have to do something to earn the money — usually by helping our parents assemble materials for their work.

Do you worry about money now?
Not really. I know I shouldn’t be spending as much as I currently do, but when I switched jobs last fall, I started making 80% more money and I’ve been taking advantage of that. It’s been nice being able to treat myself to a nice dress or lunch out without worrying.

At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
At 22, once I graduated college and started working. I was on my parents’ health insurance until I was 25 and they still cover my portion of the phone plan, although I could afford it. If something were to happen, my parents would help me or let me move back home.

Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

5:30 a.m. — My alarm is ringing!! Rise and shine, baby. I am never up this early, but it’s a holiday and I want to do a hike in Mount Rainier National Park. I’m aiming to be at the trailhead by 9 to try and beat the crowds. I grab all my snacks: an egg salad sandwich on an everything bagel, a sliced up navel orange, a Slim Jim/cheese combo snack, a peanut butter Clif Bar, and some chocolate chips in a Ziploc. I fill up all my water containers: a 3L hydration pack, an extra 32 oz water bottle, and a car water bottle. I refuse to be dehydrated or run out of water. Finally, I grab my coffee and a banana for the car, get dressed, and I’m on the road by 6.

7:50 a.m. — I’m starting to get hungry again after my banana, so I eat half of my Clif Bar. At the park entrance, I opt for a year-long Rainier pass for $55. All I need to do is come back one more time within a year, and it’s cheaper than two single-day passes. There are plenty of other hikes I’d like to do, so should be easy! I make it to the trailhead parking lot at 8:30 and somehow find a parking spot without having to go into the overflow. $55

8:45 a.m. — I change into my boots, layer up, and start on the trail. I’m hungry again so I put my Slim Jim/cheese snack in my pocket and eat sporadically while climbing up.

10:15 a.m. — I’ve made it to a good lunch spot, right under the mountain. I eat a couple of orange slices, half of my sandwich, and some chocolate chips. The first two miles of the trail are all uphill and I am feeling it.

11:30 a.m. — I have a couple more orange slices, some chocolate chips, and of course, water. The views are gorgeous so I text my parents some pictures.

12:45 p.m. — Back in the parking lot! Not too shabby of a time. I change into a less sweaty shirt and take off my boots and socks. All of my toenails are still here! I repack my car and head home for the day.

2 p.m. — On my way back, I stop for a post-hike treat I’ve been looking forward to all day: a large cherry limeade from Sonic. It’s delicious and refreshing and exactly what I need. I have about another hour of my drive left and I’m getting tired, so I put on a podcast to make the time go by faster. $2.05

4 p.m. — Home! Shower time. After I’m clean, I heat up a burrito from Safeway. I keep them in my freezer for emergency snacks. I refill my water, take my limeade and laptop to bed, and take a quick nap while New Girl plays in the background.

7:30 p.m. — All right, so that was not a quick nap — it was basically a mini sleep. My apartment is a mess, but I don’t have the energy to clean right now. I think I’m about to start my period, so with that plus hiking today I decide to order pizza. I drive to pick it up and eat four slices while watching The Great British Baking Show. I have a fudgesicle for dessert. $24.04

9:30 p.m. — I end up on TikTok and text my boyfriend, D., for a bit. He went hiking with some friends today and they are just making it home. Granted they started later and stopped for dinner before heading back, but still, that’s a long day. Despite my nap, I’m very tired and I have a slight headache. I pop some ibuprofen, turn on my fan and white noise, and fall asleep by 10.

Daily Total: $81.09

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I thought I would wake up earlier since I napped and went to bed so early (for me, at least). I do feel very well-rested, which is not common for my mornings. My hair is a disaster from being in a bun and napping/sleeping for so long. I spray it wet and brush it out before braiding it. I do some simple makeup — eyebrow tint/gel, mascara, concealer, and blush — before grabbing my pizza leftovers for lunch.

8:30 a.m. — On the road. My oil light comes up, so naturally, I immediately call my dad and ask how much it should cost and what to ask for when I go. I finish my podcast episode during the rest of my drive to work.

9 a.m. — I swing by the breakroom to grab some coffee, along with a fig bar and Babybel cheese to have for breakfast. I also packed some blueberries from home that I eat while I check my email.

11:30 a.m. — The cramps are kicking in. I grab a mini Coke from the break room and a clementine. Back to emails, and finishing updating my weekly data spreadsheet.

12:30 p.m. — I drive a block over to Costco to fill up on gas. Once back, I reheat my pizza from last night for lunch. I pull up some Taskmaster on YouTube to watch while I eat, and browse the Humane Society’s website to torture myself and look at all the cute animals. $49.97

2:30 p.m. — Another snack — I grab a mini rice krispie treat and try to finish the staffing plans for the upcoming holiday season. I schedule some meetings to hash out details for the holiday season. My boss stops by for a quick check-in and I end the day doing a bit more holiday forecasting.

5:30 p.m. — Time to head home. I stop by the grocery store to grab a couple of items I still need for dinner: taco seasoning, cheese, avocado, and tortillas. When I get home, I FaceTime my sister while I cook dinner. I make ground beef and grilled veggies (corn, red onion, and red and orange bell peppers). Once cooked I put my meat and veggies on some romaine and top it with avocado, shredded cheese, and red taco sauce. $12.97

7 p.m. — More of The Great British Baking Show while I try to peel off the stickers to some Target storage bins I picked up last week. I want to organize all my skin/hair/bathroom items so I don’t have random stuff all over my counters. It is not going well. I eat a fudgesicle but it’s not as satisfying as I’d like, so I have a second one. Perfect. Somehow I end up on my phone and all of a sudden it’s 10. Time to shower and get ready for bed. I can’t seem to fall asleep and finally drift off around 12:30.

Daily Total: $62.94

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — I typically work from home on Wednesdays, and unlike a lot of the folks I see on the TikTok/Instagram, I pretty much sleep until the minute before I have to work. I check my emails and respond to some messages from bed. At 9:30, I finally get up, brush my teeth, and put on some workout clothes and my tennis shoes. I’m a big proponent of no shoes in the house, but I find if I’m wearing tennis shoes I’m more likely to be productive. Plus, I need to Swiffer and vacuum anyway, so I’ll save that for last.

10:30 a.m. — I go down to my building’s laundry room and put two loads into two washers. A load is $1.50 each and I use a pre-loaded card to pay. I go back to my apartment and make some coffee and toast half of an everything bagel and half of a cinnamon raisin bagel. I put cream cheese on both and then add some raspberry jam to my cinnamon raisin bagel.

11 a.m. — Dryer time. Between the clothes I take out to hang dry and the fact that the dryers are massive, I can fit everything into one dryer. $1.25 is deducted from my balance.

12:30 p.m. — I work through some of my work to-do list while watching The Great British Baking Show. I head down to my building’s gym and thankfully I’m the only one there. I just want to move a little. I warm up on the treadmill doing an incline walk for about 10 minutes, then do a series of arm/shoulder workouts. To wind down, I get back on the treadmill for another 10 minutes. All in all, it takes about 40 minutes and feels good to get a little sweaty.

1:10 p.m. — For lunch, I make a smoothie with the last of my spinach, two green apples, a peach, chia seeds, and frozen mangos. I heat up the last two slices of my pizza to go with it and turn on The Bachelorette. I have a jam jar that’s mostly empty, so I make some chia seed pudding in it.

3 p.m. — I Slack my boss to meet for a quick chat about our holiday hiring planning, but he doesn’t respond, so I continue working through my to-do list. I put fresh sheets on my bed, then take a shower, wash my hair, and get ready to go out for dinner and drinks with D. and some of his friends. I hop on the bus using my preloaded transit card.

6 p.m. — They’ve decided on a rotating sushi place, which I’ve never been to before! It’s thrilling. The sushi just comes around and around and a robot delivers our waters! Ridiculous, I love it. Between the five of us, we get a little grabby and total just under 60 plates, which is a lot of food. I Venmo someone for my share. I’m absolutely stuffed and want to lie down and digest, but we have a reservation for a fancy tiki bar at 8 so we’ve gotta get moving. $55

8:30 p.m. — Okay okay this tiki bar is very cool. The drinks come in these fancypants drinking vessels and the ice is little crunchy balls like Sonic ice. The drinks are super expensive though. I have two and it’s $43.18 with tax/tip for my portion of the bill. $43.18

10 p.m. — Typically I’d stay the night at D.’s since he lives closer to where we are, but he’s hosting his friends while they’re here so I head back to my apartment. I’m so tired and I really don’t want to spend 40 minutes on a bus, so I splurge on a Lyft. I have a 15% off code, so my ride total with tip is $31.47. Thank god for past me putting fresh sheets on my bed. Face washed, teeth brushed, and in my fresh clean sheets. I turn on my fan and white noise app and fall asleep by 11. $31.47

Daily Total: $129.65

Day Four

8 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I just want to sleep a bit longer. Ugh. I put on the same clothes I wore to dinner last night. Brush teeth, same simple makeup, yada yada yada. I pack up my leftover veggies and meat and add in some cheese and a tortilla for the side. I also grab a peach and my chia seed pudding after adding some frozen raspberries to the top. I throw some workout clothes in a bag in hopes I can sneak out a little early to go to Pilates. I’m in the car by 8:30 and put on a podcast for the ride.

9 a.m. — Once in the office, I grab some coffee and a fig bar, and have those with my chia seed pudding. I respond to a few emails and chit-chat with my coworker.

10:30 a.m. — I need to print out a bunch of gift notes for a client’s order but the spacing looks wrong. I finally get them to look right and realize we don’t have enough cards, ugh. I grab a mini Coke from the break room and dig around to find some slightly different, but similar enough cards to finish the job for this order. I add “order more cards” to my to-do list.

12 p.m. — We have a photographer here doing some holiday photoshoot stuff, and since our company is a good host, we’re ordering him lunch. I jump at the opportunity for free lunch and get kimchi fried rice. It’s so good and now I have my leftovers for dinner!

2:20 p.m. — I have a meeting in 10 minutes, so I eat a pack of mini Chips Ahoy from the break room and browse Facebook Marketplace for furniture. I still need a few pieces for my apartment, but I don’t want to spend that much money. The duality of man.

4:40 p.m. — My meeting goes late and it’s too late for Pilates, so I sign up for 6 p.m. yoga instead. I head out around 5:20.

7 p.m. — I gotta say, I am a Pilates girl through and through, but sporadically do yoga. Pre-pandemic I was a lot more consistent with doing both, but nowadays I’ll do yoga maybe once a month. I forgot how much I enjoy yoga classes; this one was very relaxing and had a great flow. I drive home and chop up some lettuce to go with my taco leftovers. I warm up my tortilla and slice up a white peach.

8 p.m. — I feel like I finally have free time to watch TV and the mental capacity to watch something other than a re-run, so it’s time for everyone’s problematic fave, Devi from Never Have I Ever. Season three, here we go.

8:45 p.m. — Just kidding. I got one episode in and now I’m too tired to take in new things. I take a shower and lament at the fact I have no fun cereal or gummies to have for dessert. I get into bed and turn on old episodes of Criminal Minds while I do some Sudoku. I text D. a little and eventually fall asleep around 11:30.

Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — Good morning good morning. Same soup, different day. Brush teeth, clip up hair, same makeup, get dressed, and out the door into my car by 8:30. I am a pro at tornado-ing around my apartment to get ready and out the door in 15 minutes. It also helps that my workplace is pretty casual, and I can hide away in my office if I truly look like a slob.

9 a.m. — In the office, I try to concoct some iced coffee — it’s not bad, but not great. I grab my usual cheese and fig bar for breakfast and start with my emails.

12:30 p.m. — I didn’t pack lunch today thinking I’d sneak off to get an oil change post-meeting, but I feel like I have so many things to do. I grab a mini Coke and a bag of Cheez-its and get back to it.

2 p.m. — It’s time. I go to a gas station for an oil change, and they do it while I’m in the car. My total is $99.87 for a synthetic oil change. Is that a good price? I call my dad and ask, just so I know for the future. $99.87

3:30 p.m. — Trader Joe’s time. I am practicing the cardinal sin of going to the grocery store while hungry, and I go a little crazy. I grab anything that looks enticing. I get Gone Berry Crazy, nectarines on sale, caramelized onion dip, carrots, chips, flowers, bananas, peaches, spinach, kale, chocolate croissants, frozen burritos, frozen pizza, cold brew, vanilla creamer, sourdough bread, turkey, salami, gouda slices, ranch dill dressing, and baby avocados. $70.28

5 p.m. — Back home and I crack open my hummus, caramelized onion dip, chips, carrots, dill ranch, and slice up two nectarines to have for late lunch/early dinner. I turn on more Never Have I Ever. I’m very excited to do nothing tonight! Is that sad?

8 p.m. — Turns out my snack plate after not having lunch did not keep me full, shocker. I get more carrots and dip and have a Slim Jim + cheddar stick as well. I work on plugging in and setting up a device that came with my internet service.

11 p.m. — Somehow, it’s time for bed. I shower, brush my teeth, and do my skin care before getting into bed. I fall asleep around midnight.

Daily Total: $170.15

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — So it was supposed to be very warm today and I was going to go paddle boarding or lay out by the pool, but it smells like a barbecue outside and is hella smoky. Perfect. I once again look up cats at the shelter and there are so many cute kitties. I want one. I miss my cats who live with my parents. I send some of the cuties to my sister and friend so they can enable me. I brush my teeth, make some iced coffee, and take it with me back into bed. I usually go to Pilates on Saturday mornings, but I want a lazy day.

11:30 a.m. — I’ve just been laying in bed on my phone, drinking my coffee, and doing some Sudoku while Criminal Minds plays in the background. A very slow and chill morning. Is this depressing? Maybe. Would it be less sad with a cat? Obviously. I finally get up and FaceTime my friend while I make breakfast/lunch of two scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, spinach, and Everything But The Bagel seasoning. I toast an everything bagel in my oven and mash some avocado and cream cheese to put on it. Lastly., I add some red taco sauce to top everything off. It’s delicious.

1 p.m. — I have decided I’ll stop by the shelter tomorrow just to look and get the vibe. The motivation to clean really kicks in, since I don’t want to possibly get a new cat (possibly!) and be throwing things in drawers, vacuuming, or hammering and being generally noisy while they get familiar with their new home. I start organizing bathroom products and towels into storage bins. I break down some old boxes and toss them. Time for the big task of rearranging my room furniture. I need to move my bed to the other side, which involves moving my dresser to where my bed was and moving my rug. Time to get sweaty!

3 p.m. — OUCH. I dropped my dresser on my big toe and it frickin’ hurts. But I did the swap. It is done. A great success. The downside is one of the cats I was looking at got adopted today (downside for me, amazing for the cat). I decide I’ll go right when they open tomorrow so I can get a first look at all the babes. I vacuum everywhere, throw all my tools, nails, and extra cords into a drawer, and my apartment finally looks reasonable.

5 p.m. — I’m so hungry so I make a turkey pesto sandwich with avocado, red onion, cheese, and spinach. I write down a list of things to get from Lowe’s and Target so I don’t get distracted. We’ll see if this helps.

6:30 p.m. — Not too shabby. I got Gorilla Glue and replacement screen mesh from Lowe’s and successfully dodged buying a plant that I wanted, but don’t need ($13.12). Home Goods next door was a bust and Target was how Target is — I ended up with more than I came in for, oops. I got hangers, a litterbox (just in case), litter (just in case), a couple of cans of kitten food (just in case), a toy pumpkin (just in case), some toy mice (just in case), and a pack of bar soap. All of these were on the list. The men’s XXL t-shirt I got and the pajama shorts I grabbed were not on the list. Oops ($74.32). $87.44

8:30 p.m. — I get home and replace the screen in my bedroom. If I’m going to get a cat, I’m going to need to have a screen that actually fits my window to prevent any escapes. Also, I’m tired of little flying bugs getting in through the uncovered space. I put everything else away, and eek I’m kind of nervous for tomorrow! I check the site and make a list of cats I want to look at for my application. Ahh!!! I shower and try to wind down with more Criminal Minds re-runs and Sudoku. I set my alarm to make sure I’m up and ready to rock.

Daily Total: $87.44

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Up and at ’em! I toast a bagel, one-half everything and one-half cinnamon raisin. I add cream cheese to both, then add cayenne, lemon juice, and avocado to the everything bagel and raspberry jam to the cinnamon raisin one. I pack my UPS return just in case since I’ll be out, place my Starbucks mobile order as a Sunday treat using money already on the app, and am out the door by 9:45. The vibe is electric.

10:05 a.m. — Starbucks acquired. I confirm with a former coworker who is buying my old desk that 4 p.m. works for pickup. Time to move and groove. This calls for some Taylor Swift and her best album, “Speak Now.” I will not accept criticism at this time thank you.

11 a.m. — I’ve made it! I fill out my application and I’m third in line! I’m thinking of getting a kitten — all the kittens available are black, as are 75% of the cats up for adoption. I honestly don’t understand the black cat superstition, because all of these kitties are so cute!

12 p.m. — It’s happening, oh my god, it’s happening. I meet a few different cats and they are all so frickin’ cute. I fill out the paperwork and get all the information from the worker for a kitten. He still needs one more booster and a rabies vaccine when he’s older but he’s already micro-chipped, litter box-trained, neutered, and has had most of his other vaccines. He is also the last of his litter to be adopted because he’s black, and again I think that superstition is ridiculous. I pay the adoption fee and say goodbye to the rest of the kitties. There’s still a line of people waiting for their turn to look so I hope most go to good homes! $135

12:10 p.m. — I get in the car and open up his box to give him the pumpkin I brought him just in case, and put a little blanket in there to make it cozier. He’s very vocal and I just start to cry. I’m so excited and I love him and it’s finally happening. I compose myself after five minutes, turn my volume down, and get back on the road.

1:10 p.m. — I run into UPS to drop my package off, then go next door to the pet store. I get 20% off my first purchase with a coupon from the shelter so I grab a bunch of things. I get two packs of different flavored wet food and some dry kitten food. I also grab a little scratch pad, some toys, and a collar. With my adoption discount, everything comes out to $108.94. All of the folks working there want to take a peek at him, so they help me carry my stuff out to my car. $108.94

1:45 p.m. — Finally home! I pour some litter in the litter box and get some food and water in bowls for my new kitten. I open up his box and let him explore at his own pace. I was a little worried he’d be nervous, but he is exploring and super friendly. He comes up to nuzzle my leg almost immediately. I show him the litter box, which he uses right away, then I show him his food and water. He nibbles a bit before continuing to walk around and sniff everything out.

2:30 p.m. — I make a late lunch of a frozen burrito from TJ’s and top it with red taco sauce and cheddar cheese. I cut up a couple of nectarines as well to accompany my burrito. I hang out with my new kitten and send photos to basically everyone I know. I tell D. that he’ll need to come to my place tomorrow instead, as I am now a mother.

4 p.m. — An old coworker comes to pick up the desk and Venmos me $50. When she comes in to help grab all of the parts, the kitten comes right up and says hello! He’s so friendly I can’t get over it. After she leaves, I turn on The Office. The kitten alternates napping (on me!!!) and playing with his toys.

7 p.m. — I make another turkey sandwich for dinner and give the kitten some more wet food. Currently we are not a fan of the salmon wet food, but love the chicken paté. Noted. I prep my lunch for tomorrow (another sandwich, shocker) and open the door to my room so he can start exploring there. Post shower — I FaceTime my parents and let them know. They…respond better than I expect. They do think he’s cute, which is basically an indisputable fact. Again, back to playing with the kitten with TV on in the background.

10 p.m. — Bedtime. Very early for me, but it’s been quite the day. The kitten comes up and snuggles right by my head and starts to purr and we both quickly fall asleep.

Daily Total: $243.94

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