A Week In Washington DC On A $70,000 Salary

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Today: an analyst working in legal consulting who makes $70,000 per year and spends some of her money on Zapp’s Voodoo Chips.

Occupation: Analyst
Industry: Legal Consulting
Age: 24
Location: Washington DC
Salary: $70,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $2,005
Gender Identity: Woman (she/her/hers)

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,275 (This includes a flat utilities fee. I pay slightly more than half of a two bed, one bath I share with a roommate because I have the bigger room.)
Loans: $0 (I graduated with a small amount of debt I paid off aggressively in my first year out of school.)
Health Insurance: $0 (Thanks, Obamacare! Still on my dad’s plan for the moment.)
Phone: $0 (I’m on a family plan with my mom and sisters. I bought the phone outright myself.)
Hulu & Spotify: $10.59 (My sisters and roommate use it too.)
Netflix: $0 (We use my roommate’s.)
Metro: $80 (pretax)
401k: $390 (Pre tax. 5% of my salary, and my company matches 4%. I currently have about $4,000 in here.)
Renter’s Insurance: $115/year
Dollar Shave Club: $6 every six months
Roth IRA: Every few months I throw a couple hundred bucks in here, right now I have about $2,500. I haven’t set up a regular contribution, but my goal is to max it out in 2019.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and drag myself out of bed early enough to walk to work. I drink some coffee, chat with my roommate, and throw some cosmetics in the general direction of my face before grabbing my prepped breakfast and lunch out of the fridge and heading out a little after 8.

8:45 a.m. — Arrive at work and eat my breakfast at my desk (plain greek yogurt with strawberries and a little bit of honey, with a cup of free work coffee) while responding to some emails and reading the New York Times’ Daily Briefing.

9:15 a.m. — I turn to the to do list I left for myself last night. I realize I forgot my planner at home, but I left this list on a sticky note luckily. I’ve been attempting to bullet journal for the past few months, and it’s been working pretty well for me, although my journal pages are far from instagram worthy. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s nice or overwhelming to be able to see everything have to do in one place.

10:30 a.m. — I go complain about something to my boss. He’s very sympathetic, but we both know I have to do it. While I’m there, my boss asks if I can turn around a new analysis by noon, so that gets added to the top of my to-do list.

12 p.m. — I head down to talk about the new analysis with my boss. We make a plan for the weekend — it’ll be busy so we both have to work, but we think if we stagger our times in the office it will be more productive.

1 p.m. — Time for a client call. I end up talking a lot, which is a little nerve wracking since my boss isn’t on it and I only recently started handling issues like this on my own. I think I do well though.

1:30 p.m. — The call wraps up quickly, so I update my boss on what we discussed and then eat my lunch. No sad desk salads here! I was busy this weekend so my lunch is simple, but it’s tasty. I prepped a quick pasta salad with tortellini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and pine nuts with a balsamic/honey/dijon mustard vinaigrette.

4 p.m. — Another call, with my boss and some lawyers (a different group than earlier). It’s productive, and we successfully move part of a project off our plate. I realize during the call that I completely forgot to review something my boss gave me and asked for comments on.

4:40 p.m. — I run back to my desk to start reviewing the document. Luckily my boss is very understanding of the fact that he gave me a million things to do today and wasn’t clear about relative priority. I probably should have figured out which to do first on my own, but I’m not in trouble.

5:30 p.m. — I give my boss my comments and pack up. Tonight is my last reliably free night for the next three weeks because of work, and I’m going to an installation on collective memory and generational trauma processing in Sri Lanka near my office. My cousin is moderating a panel of speakers, and I’m very excited to see it.

7:30 p.m. — The installation and the panel are amazingly powerful. This was planned long before the Easter weekend attacks, but obviously that changed the tenor of the panel and had a really profound effect on how we discuss religious and ethno-political violence. I think the target audience for the panel was someone with more background in the Sri Lankan civil war than I have (my background knowledge was nil), but it was fascinating and the young woman who coordinated the project had an amazing story to tell. I head back to work to pick up my stuff and check in with my boss, but he doesn’t need anything more from me.

8 p.m. — My roommate texts me and asks if I want to order takeout from our favorite Chinese place and, of course, I say yes. She orders us both dumplings and General Tso’s Chicken and I venmo her for my half ($27.70) I walk home from the office. $27.70

8:45 p.m. — The food beat me by just a few minutes, so I get home and start eating immediately. I am addicted to these dumplings.

9:15 p.m. — After inhaling my food and packing up half the chicken for later, I get ready for bed while chatting with my roommate (and snuggling with her dog).

10 p.m. — I get into bed with the crappy murder mystery I’m reading, take a melatonin, and read until I get sleepy. I turn the lights off around 10:45.

Daily Total: $27.70

Day Two

7:30 a.m. — Out of bed, get some coffee, and chat. I know I’ll be working late tonight, so I make sure to wear something comfortable (Old Navy pixie pants and a v-neck with ¾ sleeves). I also bring a pair of leggings in case it’s a really late night and I decide I can’t deal with work pants at all anymore. I grab my breakfast and lunch and head out after 8.

8:10 a.m. — I run into my cousin on the corner and we walk part of the way together while chatting about work. My parents aren’t exactly white collar people, so having someone I can ask questions about office norms has been incredibly helpful since I moved here.

8:45 a.m. — Arrive at work, eat my yogurt, drink coffee, read the Daily Briefing, and roll my eyes at how many democratic primary contenders we have. I get a cup of coffee from the kitchen and turn back to the boring task I was doing yesterday afternoon.

10:30 a.m. — One of my coworkers sticks his head in my office with a plate of mini chocolate croissants. I take two and eat them while reading Politico’s Morning Trade and doing my time sheet for yesterday. We’re a billable hours environment, so I have to keep track of how I’m spending all of my time and who to bill it to.

12:30 p.m. — I decide it’s time for lunch. I get my pasta salad and a Diet Coke (free from the work fridge) and surf the web while I eat. I also snack on some peanut butter-filled pretzels from my desk stash.

1:30 p.m. — I want candy! I go to CVS and get some Sour Patch Kids, the world’s largest bag of peanut butter M&M’s, and a packet of Starbursts for my coworker (he venmos me immediately). $12.97

1:45 p.m. — I settle down to work after satiating myself with a few (handfuls) of the M&M’s.

3:30 p.m. — I meet with my boss to discuss some of the things I’ve done today. A few of my analyses turned out really well and we’ll be able to use them in our brief, which is excellent.

4:45 p.m. — The report that officially starts the clock ticking on our brief is out! I process a few other documents that came with it and settle down for a long night of checking our numbers.

7 p.m. — This is a nightmare task. I order a Japanese chicken curry bowl from Donburi via Ritual. ($12.10 expensed)

11:15 p.m. — I’m not quite done, but my attention to detail is flagging. The lawyers want a call at 10am to go over our first impressions, but I can finish in the morning. I call a Lyft home. ($8.23 expensed)

11:35 p.m. — Home! I eat a melatonin gummy, take a quick shower, take off my makeup, and put lotion on my face and body. Even though it’s late, I still read for a bit before bed, as it helps me settle down. I’m feeling very anxious so I also put a few drop of CBD oil under my tongue — it’s probably a placebo but it helps me calm my mind down. I turn off the light around midnight.

Daily Total: $12.97

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — Up, despite my brain trying to convince me not to be. I can sleep in and metro to work if I have to, but especially when work is insane the walk to work in the morning really helps me get my day off on the right foot (no pun intended). It’s also a good way to reliably get some sunshine in. Same morning routine as before: coffee, chatting, a little bit of makeup and out the door.

8:45 a.m. — I dive back into reconciling data while eating my yogurt and drinking another cup of coffee.

10 a.m. — Call with the team. We have a solidly mixed outlook about the outcome of the case right now. I finish the call with about a million action items on my to do list. I eat a few more M&M’s and get started.

1:15 p.m. — My work BFF (who I share an office with) gives me the pickle that came with his lunch because he’s insane and doesn’t like them. I eat the pickle and then my own lunch and more M&M’s.

3:30 p.m. — My brain is swimming, so I grab a free Diet Coke and shoot an email off to my boss with a new analysis I put together. I don’t usually drink this much soda, I swear! Before getting back to work I do yesterday’s timesheet.

4:15 p.m. — The caffeine is making me jittery, but not actually less tired. I email my boss that I’m going to read in a conference room if he needs me (I want a change of scenery and some natural light). I also do some push-ups and jumping jacks since no one ever walks by this room, and I feel much more awake.

6 p.m. — I realize it will likely be another late night, so I order takeout with a coworker. We each get an order of dumplings, she gets Kung Pao Chicken, and I get chicken with eggplant in garlic sauce. It’s from the same restaurant I got dinner from on Wednesday — I got several of my coworkers hooked on it, in addition to my roommate. ($51.28 expensed)

7:15 p.m. — I change into leggings and a pullover. Friday nights are not for working late in work pants.

9:45 p.m. — I decide to finish reading the brief at home in the morning. I pack up and call a Lyft ($9.20 expensed). My roommate and her dog are out, so I have the place to myself. I celebrate by lying on the couch and finally starting the fourth season of Crazy Ex Girlfriend.

12:30 a.m. — I stayed up later than I intended. I wash my face and read in bed until 1.

Daily Total: $0

Day Four

9 a.m. — Wake up from a dream where I was mean to my mom. I text her to apologize for what dream me did. I make coffee and eat a big bowl of cereal with strawberries and finish off the episode of CXG I turned off in the middle of last night.

9:30 a.m. — I spend a long time trying to focus on reading the brief, but end up finding lots of things to do around the apartment to distract myself. I load the dishwasher, clean the fridge, get dressed, and straighten my hair. At 10:45, I still have 30 pages to go, but I give up on working from home and head into the office.

11:30 a.m. — I arrive at the office (I dawdled on the walk) and settle down to finish reading and start revising my draft. I also pre-order a pita with lamb meatballs and a million toppings from Cava online to be picked up at 2 (I sometimes forget to eat when I’m working on the weekends). ($13.60 expensed)

1:45 p.m. — I head out for a break and to pick up my pita. I also stop at Peet’s on the way and pick up an iced tea. ($4.50 expensed)

2:15 p.m. — I wanted to work through lunch but the pita is so messy I can’t. I watch half an episode of Blackish and spill Greek dressing all over myself. Thankfully, I’m alone in the office.

7 p.m. — My boss gets in and we touch base on my progress. I have a bit more to do, but I think I can finish my section tonight. I ate a lot M&M’s today, so I’m not hungry enough to order anything for dinner.

9:30 p.m. — I wrap up my section, debrief with my boss, and make a plan for tomorrow. I call a Lyft to a friend’s house. She texted me and asked if I had plans around 8 and we agreed I would head over to her place whenever I finished. ($10.40 expensed)

9:50 p.m. — I arrive at my friend’s place and we walk to little hole in the wall Mexican place near her house that I’m obsessed with. We each have a margarita — ginger for me, blood orange habanero for her. We gossip about mutual friends, complain about the wage gap, and generally catch up. She pays for the drinks and I venmo her. $11

11:15 p.m. — We’re sitting outside and it starts to rain, so we head back to her place and continue chatting. Her roommate comes out hangs out as well, and we casually watch the Bruins game.

12 a.m. — My day has finally caught up with me, so I call an Uber home and say my goodbyes. I’m glad I made the effort to socialize — it’s easy for me to fall into a funk if all I do is work for a while. $9.70

12:15 a.m. — I get home, take a melatonin and a quick shower, and crawl into bed with my book. I want to keep reading it because I’m invested in the story and it’s a book about Cuba by a Cuban author which I’d love to support, but the way this dude writes women is infuriating to me. I turn the lights out around 1.

Daily Total: $20.70

Day Five

9 a.m. — I get up and chat with my roommate over coffee. I told my boss I’d get in around 11:30 and I want to grocery shop and meal prep first if possible, so we head to Giant shortly after getting up. I get tofu, apples, sweet chili sauce, yogurt, honey, scallions, and three colorful bell peppers (they’re on sale for a dollar a pop.) $27.53

10:30 a.m. — We get home and I start meal prepping. I’m making sweet chili tofu bowls. I also chop up my two extra bell peppers and pack them into snack containers for the week.

11 a.m. — While heating up the oil for the tofu, I manage to splash boiling oil all over my right hand, which is… less than ideal. Also EXTREMELY painful. I email my boss while running my hand under cool water that I’ll likely be late. I finish cooking while taking breaks every few minutes to run my hand under water. My roommate comes out and we agree it’s not too bad a burn, so I don’t need to go to the ER or anything.

12:15 p.m. — I realize I haven’t had anything to eat all day, so I eat some yogurt with frozen strawberries before I head out, my hand wrapped in a damp dishcloth. I pack up an apple, a container of bell pepper slices, and a huge bottle of ibuprofen to bring to work. I run into my boss waiting for the metro (we live in the same neighborhood) and we examine my burn. We get off the metro ($2 off my prepaid card) and he goes to get a smoothie while I go to CVS for some burn cream. I end up buying an aloe-based gel and a lidocaine spray. $12.99

1 p.m. — I spray the lidocaine on my hand outside the CVS and it stings so badly I start to cry. I literally run to my office (luckily only a block) to wash it off and run my hand under cool water. Eventually the pain calms down, and I go back to my boss to talk through some data issues. (Just to be clear — he was super nice and told me to take as much time as I needed to deal with the injury, and repeatedly told me if I needed to go deal with it I should do that and he could deal with the work on his own. He’s not a monster. I just figured I could either be in pain at work or at home in bed, and one of those will be a lot less of an inconvenience to everyone else.)

2:15 p.m. — I text a friend in med school and she convinces me to give the lidocaine another chance. Something about damaged nerves sending an initial pain signal, but it would eventually help. I try it, and she’s right. I also put some aloe vera gel on for good measure.

3 p.m. — I eat my apple and some M&M’s. This weekend has been spent drafting and revising, we’re trying to get a draft of our report to the lawyers by Monday night.

5:15 p.m. — I head out for some food. I go to Wawa and get a cheesesteak, a bag of honey sriracha potato chips, and a banana. Apparently banana peels help burns? I’m willing to try anything at this point. ($9.09 expensed)

6 p.m. — I pop open a Diet Coke because it’s looking like another late night (and because it feels nice to hold something cold in my hand). My boss comes by and finds me taping a banana peel around my hand — it feels pleasantly cool, but mostly just slimy.

10 p.m. — I snack on my bell pepper slices. I almost wish I had bought more, I love bell peppers. My little sister texts me some pictures from her prom last night and I tear up a little at how grown up she’s gotten.

11:30 p.m. — I finally get to a good stopping point and call a Lyft home. I realize when I get outside that I left my damp dish towel in the fridge. Oops. ($11.40 expensed)

11:45 p.m. — Home! Take a melatonin and two Tylenol, wash my face, and crawl into bed with my book. I finally finish it around 12:15 and turn off the light.

Daily Total: $40.52

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — Ugh, I feel like garbage. I can’t believe I have three more nights of this. Coffee, chat with roommate, spray more lidocaine on my hand (it feels a lot better!), and head out at the usual time. No makeup today, I’m far too lazy.

8:45 a.m. — Arrive at work and eat my yogurt and drink more coffee. I show off my burn to all my coworkers and work on reviewing my boss’ section of the report.

11 a.m. — Some data comes in for a different project I’m also working on, but is further down the pipeline than my current one. I ask a coworker to start processing it for me since I don’t have time, and we have a quick meeting to discuss what needs to be done.

1 p.m. — My boss comes in to give me comments on the first section of the report before he runs to another meeting. It’s mostly minor line edits, nothing structural, which I’m pleased about. I get to write a lot for my job, and it feels good to feel like I’m improving.

1:30 p.m. — Lunch! I’m eating my second to last pasta salad today. I try to eat food oldest first to avoid waste, so I won’t start on what I cooked this weekend until later this week. Right now I have one pasta salad, last week’s Chinese takeout, and 2-3 lunches worth of sweet chili tofu bowls in the fridge. I’m excited about the sweet chili tofu, but I probably won’t try this recipe again until my hand heals. I take a quick break while I eat to read some blogs and do my timesheet for the weekend. I also eat the rest of the container of pepper slices I brought in yesterday.

2 p.m. — I spend the rest of the afternoon editing and consolidating everything into a single somewhat cohesive document.

7:30 p.m. — My work BFF is also working late tonight on his own projects, so we order bibimbap from Rice Bar on Ritual ($10.89 for mine). On the way, we also stop at Wawa so I can get some Zapp’s Voodoo chips ($2.78). I saw them yesterday after already buying the honey sriracha ones and they are my favorite. ($13.68 expensed)

8:30 p.m. — My boss gives me back comments on the intro to the report I wrote. I gave him two pages, and he returned a seven page redline document. So much for getting better at this.

12:15 a.m. — We’re done with the draft! We upload it for the lawyers and I call my Lyft. ($8.09 expensed)

12:35 a.m. — I’m exhausted, but I desperately need to wash my hair, so I take my melatonin and hop in the shower. No reading tonight (because I finished my book and because I’m way too tired). Turn off the lights a little before 1 and pass out.

Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — My entire body aches for some reason. I drag myself out of bed to drink coffee and chat with my roommate. I didn’t have a chance to do laundry this weekend, so I’m getting down to my second and third tier work clothes. I end up putting on a sleeveless button down that I almost never wear. I actually love the shape and how it fits me, but it’s a sort of aggressive shade of orange. I pair it with some gray slacks, might as well lean into the “Halloween in April” vibe.

8:50 a.m. — I arrive at work a little late. I eat my breakfast and drink some coffee while organizing my expense report for the last week. That reminds me it’s payday, (we get paid on the 15th and 30th) so I venmo my roommate my portion of the rent. She deals with paying our landlord.

9:30 a.m. — Another one of my bosses, who I’ll be working with on my next project, is trying to get me to start on something even though I have zero time. Unfortunately he’s the CEO, so I can’t exactly blow him off, and my boss on my current project isn’t in yet.

1 p.m. — I eat my last pasta salad. The tomatoes have gotten a little soft, but it’s held up pretty well considering it’s been in the fridge, dressed, for eight days. I head out to CVS to buy a hair clip. I got a haircut a few weeks ago, so my hair is a little bit shorter than it’s been in the past. I buy a two pack of jaw clips that I hope are the right size for my short, fine hair ($5.82) . I also buy a heath bar ($1.05). I head back to work to put up my hair and eat my heath bar (and an apple I brought from home.) Work stress gives me a horrible sweet tooth. $6.87

3:30 p.m. — We’re giving comments on the lawyers’ sections of the brief and harmonizing our citations, so I spend a lot of time on the phone with the lead paralegal on this case. He’s amazing and is making my life so much easier.

9:30 p.m. — Work BFF and I put off ordering dinner too long and now our options are very limited. We finally settle on District Taco and order through Ritual. I get carne asada nachos with guac. ($12.65 expensed)

11:15 p.m. — We upload our comments on the lawyers brief and I call my Lyft. I ask my boss if it’s okay for me to come in at 10 tomorrow, since I’m exhausted from the past few days, and he says yes. ($8.13 expensed)

11:30 p.m. — I get home, set my alarm for 8:30 instead of 7:30, and pass out.

Daily Total: $6.87

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