Money Diaries logo

A Week In Portland, OR, On A $65,250 Salary

Photo: Getty Images.
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 consumer strategist who makes $65,250 per year and spends some of her money this week on a secondhand sofa.
Occupation: Consumer Strategy
Industry: Consumer Goods/Retail
Age: 23
Location: Portland, OR
Salary: $65,250
Net Worth: $29,391.21 ($3,228.56 in checking, $18,124.10 in HYSA, $5,550.55 in 401(k), $2,488 in investments).
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,692
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $927.37 (I live with two roommates in a house; soon I'll be living alone and my rent will be $1,572).
Loans: $0 (my parents pay my car payments).
Spotify/Hulu: $11
Car Insurance: $256.56
Gym: free at work.
Streaming Services: I use friends' and family's accounts.
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. It was no question that I would be going to college and I went to a four-year university. I received a full-ride merit scholarship that allowed me to graduate with no debt, which honestly changed my life. Being able to enter the real world without the weight of student loans has allowed me to live with less anxiety and fear about my finances.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
I was always mindful of the importance of fiscal responsibility but I was pretty anxious about money growing up. My mom helped me open my first checking account, savings and credit card and coached me through how to use them. They were also the driving force behind choosing my university to be left with no debt. At 18, I was more interested in other aspects of college but they kept me grounded.
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked in fast casual food in high school to start earning money for myself and get experience in customer service.
Did you worry about money growing up?
My dad was unemployed for most of my childhood while my mom worked to support us and I always jumped to the worst-case scenario regarding the financial health of our family. Looking back, we had more than enough but as a child I was super nervous.
Do you worry about money now?
Yes, since entering the real world I've had to adjust to using my paycheck to cover all of my expenses and manage my spending on necessities versus splurges. With my cost of living expenses about to increase significantly when I move, I have been thinking a lot about how much I'm eating out and spending money on non-necessities.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I became mostly financially responsible for myself in college with my scholarship, though my parents continue to cover certain things in my life (cell phone bill, car payment). Other than that, I cover all of my expenses. If I were to lose my job or housing suddenly, I could definitely move in with my parents but would try to recover myself financially before having to go back to them (mostly to avoid feeling like a burden).
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.

Day One

7:30 a.m. — Woohoo, it's Friday! The sun is shining and I plan to go into the office to get a few meetings done. I get dressed in a casual outfit, pack my bag and head downstairs to make breakfast and coffee. I eat avocado toast with tzatziki, cherry tomatoes and everything bagel seasoning before hitting the road.
9 a.m. — I settle into my desk in an empty office to get ready for the few meetings I have today. Fridays are very chill at my job and I usually use the time for some focused, uninterrupted work.
11:30 a.m. — I log off a little bit early to drive to a nearby pickleball court and meet my friends for a lunchtime game. I've really gotten into pickleball recently and it's such a fun way to be outside and active while socializing with friends. We play doubles for an hour and recap our weeks with each other.
12:30 p.m. — I run home to shower, change and scarf down leftovers for lunch. I'm supposed to meet someone from Facebook Marketplace about a couch they're selling and I don't want to be late. I'm moving to my own apartment and have to furnish my living area completely, which has added some stress and expenses that I don't especially love. My boyfriend, H., is meeting me. The couch is exactly what I'm looking for and they even offer to drop it off for me next week (I'll pay then).
2:30 p.m. — We head to some thrift stores in the city to see if I can snag any other furniture I need. We find the perfect TV stand that matches my other furniture ($89). At our second stop, we find some speakers. I'm skeptical about their sound quality and strength but H. assures me he'll test them at his place and if they don't work, we can return them. When he looks them up online, they originally sold for $500+. I decide to take the risk given the good deal ($100). $189
5 p.m. — I say bye to H. and go home to get ready for the night. My roommates (T. and K.) and I have a birthday dinner to celebrate our friend, B., who lives in the neighborhood. I change into black jeans and a one-shoulder top, trying to find the balance between casual dinner and potentially heading out to bars afterward. I fix my hair and apply some light makeup before walking to the restaurant.
6:45 p.m. — We celebrate at a local Thai restaurant I've never been to. The atmosphere is perfect, with indoor and outdoor seating and live music, and we all agree that the food and drinks are incredible too. I get a lychee cocktail (maybe the best drink I've had in a while) and tom kha gai, a creamy soup with pork. We all finish our food feeling stuffed and happy. T. and I pay for our friend's meal as a birthday gift ($33.61). I'm happily surprised at how cheap it is. $33.61
8 p.m. — We wander down the street and decide to pop into the ice cream shop nearby. I get a small cup ($6). We walk around the neighborhood, ice creams in hand, watching the sunset and enjoying the atmosphere on a Friday night. $6
9 p.m. — B. wants to continue the night at a local bar and I grab a table while the rest of the group grabs drinks. I'm trying to drink less (to help not only how I feel but also my wallet) and I have an early morning tomorrow so I sip on water. We hang out and discuss our dating lives, upcoming moves and our summer plans. Around 10:30, I'm craving my bed and we decide to call it a night and walk B. home.
Daily Total: $228.61

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm a little disoriented since I don't usually get up this early on a Saturday, but I'm meeting a friend at a local rec center to play some singles pickleball. When we arrive, there are multiple courts open, which is a rarity. The sport has gotten pretty popular and you never know how crowded the local courts will be. We play for a few hours.
11:30 a.m. — I say bye to my friend and decide to run a few errands before meeting up with H. at his place. I'm going hiking tomorrow and need a new water pack. I grab one at Walmart. $21

12 p.m. — The smell of Subway bread baking convinces me to stop and get a sandwich ($12 with tip). $12

12:15 p.m. — On the way to meet H., I find a gas station with the cheapest gas I've seen anywhere in town and know I have to stop. Coming from the east coast, gas being over $4/gallon continues to shock me. I decide to fill up because I don't know when I'll see gas this cheap again. $53

1 p.m. — I shower and change at H.'s place. It's a beautiful sunny day and we decide it's the perfect time to give his dog a bath. It's definitely an uphill battle getting his dog to cooperate enough but it's fun to hang out in the backyard with the sun shining. We finally get him washed, rinsed and dried, and sit in the backyard drinking wine and listening to music for the rest of the afternoon.

6 p.m. — H. decides to order takeout for dinner and we decide on pasta from a local Italian place (he pays). I get baked ziti and it is severely underwhelming. We eat our food while watching a bad action movie from the early 2010s and I'm nodding off by the end of it. I say goodbye to H. and go home as I have another early morning tomorrow.

Daily Total: $86

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up to get ready for my hike and fill up my new water pack. I'm thankful for the foresight I had to prep some overnight oats for the car ride. I use oats, almond milk, chocolate protein powder, peanut butter, maple syrup and chia seeds and it's a super filling breakfast. My friend D. picks me up and we head to the mountain with some other friends. The hike is across the Washington border and the drive is super scenic through the gorge and along the Columbia River.
8 a.m. — We reach the parking lot and meet the other car of friends hiking with us. It's a six-mile round trip with some serious elevation gain and by the time we reach the summit, I'm exhausted. We enjoy protein bars at the top while looking out at the amazing view of the gorge. The way down is straight downhill and I know I'm going to be so sore the next few days but it was worth it for the views we got at the top!
1:30 p.m. — We reach the bottom super tired and hungry. We stop for barbecue on the way home. I order smoked brisket and mac and cheese, which revives my body and spirit from such a hard hike ($23). My friend drops me off at home and I take a long shower before changing into shorts and a T-shirt to meet H. at his house. $23
4 p.m. — We decide to do a charcuterie and wine night and I drive us to Whole Foods to pick up the goods. We pass signs for an estate sale and impulsively decide to follow them to see if we can find anything good but no dice. It's been pretty picked through and I don't find anything for my new place. We continue to Whole Foods where we grab wine, some cheeses and salami. H. pays. We try to alternate who pays for food to keep things pretty equal and I've got our next few meals.
7 p.m. — We enjoy our wine and cheese in his backyard and I'm thankful for this continued sunny weather. I'm still adjusting to the rainy season in Oregon and I don't think I realized how much it impacted my mental health until I came out on the other side of it. We finish the night by watching Top Gun since I've never seen it (I know, it's a classic). I head home and get in bed.
Daily Total: $23

Day Four

8 a.m. — It definitely feels like a Monday. I make some coffee and get to my desk for an 8:30 meeting. It always takes me a solid hour or so to go through everything after the weekend. I'm caught up in my inbox and meetings and before I know it, it's lunchtime.
12 p.m. — I heat up some leftovers for lunch and have some errands to run on my lunch break. I head to the closest post office to pick up a package my parents sent me as well as send off a package. The post office is always a gamble in terms of how crowded it is but luckily there is no line today and the lady helping me is super nice. $9
12:20 p.m. — I have nothing in my fridge for dinner and decide I have enough time to run to the grocery store before my lunch ends. I grab pretty much just the essentials and plan my meals for this week: a chicken, broccoli and rice bowl and a sausage and vegetable skillet dish. I go to two different grocery stores as the local one near my house just has better produce, as much as it hurts my wallet. I haven't been grocery shopping in two weeks so I try to be okay with the price but I still feel like I could be better at getting more bang for my buck at the store. $83
5 p.m. — I'm finally done for the day and log off. I'm pretty hungry since my leftovers were pretty measly (the original meal was too big for one serving, not enough for two — the classic dilemma). I make the chicken broccoli dish and top it with a ton of cheese before joining my roommate T. on the couch. We've been watching Love Island UK and just got to Casa Amor so we know these episodes are going to be full of drama.
8 p.m. — H. comes over and we decide to watch Top Gun: Maverick, which is just as good as the original. We make microwave popcorn and pour some wine — we're on a quest to find the best cheap bottle of wine in our local grocery store and we continue to strike out. We finish the movie and H. heads home before I pass out.
Daily Total: $92

Day Five

6 a.m. — I'm awake bright and early for my morning workout class. I grab my bags and a granola bar for the road and I'm out the door by 6:30.
8 a.m. — I finish my workout by stretching and rolling out my muscles with a foam roller. I shower and change at the gym locker room before heading to work.
8:45 a.m. — I'm at work a little early and decide to treat myself to a vanilla coconut milk latte. I'm still trying to perfect my at-home coffee game because it just never tastes as good as the ones I buy. When I get to my desk, my coworker lets me know there's free leftover breakfast in the kitchen, which makes my morning. Way better than the measly oatmeal packet I have in my lunchbox. I load up on eggs, bacon and potatoes before settling into my desk. $5.35
11:45 a.m. — I peruse Airbnb for an upcoming trip I have. I'm visiting Europe with some friends but have a few nights alone before I go home and need to find a place to stay. I weigh my options between expensive private lodging and cheaper places with shared common spaces. I land on a sort of hostel situation with a private bedroom but shared kitchen/bathroom. It's ~$80 a night and has great reviews and location so I book it. $165
4:45 p.m. — I leave work a little early to beat traffic and get home to transport the couch I looked at earlier in the week. I pay the guy and H. meets me to carry it to my new apartment. The whole ordeal makes it very clear to me why people hire professional movers. By the time we shove it through my doorway I'm exhausted and sweaty but yay! I have a couch now! $280
6 p.m. — H. loves going thrifting so we decide to hit the Goodwill near my new place since I've never been. It's huge and we spend a decent amount of time wandering the aisles. I find a framed print that goes well with my current decorations. $7
7:30 p.m. — After dinner, we end the night by watching the sunset at a lookout near my place. We grab popcorn and a bottle of wine and head to the park. It's full of other people with the same idea. We grab a small patch of grass and watch the sun set over the city. The wine is fine but I love spending time with H. like this. It's a great end to a great day.
Daily Total: $457.35

Day Six

7 a.m. — Another day, another dollar. I wake up and snooze my alarm multiple times. I'm still adjusting to this 9-5 life after college and reminding myself I'm lucky to have a job to go to. I change, pack my lunch and make a pot of coffee while eating some Noosa yogurt for breakfast. I'm out the door by 8:30.
9:15 a.m. — I'm at my desk and heads down at work. My job is 90% meetings and most of them happen Tuesday-Thursday so I'm bouncing between meeting rooms and Zoom for most of the day.
6:30 p.m. — I get home after a late meeting and feel antsy to be outside after spending all day in my office. I convince my roommate to take a walk around the neighborhood with me while the sun is still out. We walk three miles and talk about our lives and the future. We're all moving soon and I'll be sad not to live with them anymore but I'm ready to have a space to myself. I'll also miss the calm of our neighborhood since I'm moving to a busier area.
8 p.m. — I cook a late dinner of chicken curry with the leftover veggies in my fridge before watching another episode of Love Island UK with T. Mindless TV is one of my favorite post-work activities and it's way more fun to have someone else to react with. While we're watching I decide to bite the bullet and apply for a travel credit card and Global Entry. It's expensive but includes TSA PreCheck and I know it'll be worth it in the long run. $100
10:30 p.m. — We finish our episode and I pack my lunch and work bag for tomorrow. Another early morning workout and I still feel exhausted from the early wake-up call on Tuesday. I do my skincare, brush my teeth and lights are out by 11.
Daily Total: $100

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — I snooze my alarms multiple times and jolt awake when I realize I've been sleeping for way too long. I check my phone and I'm supposed to be leaving at this very minute. I rush out of bed, change, grab a banana and fly out of the door by 6:35. I'm 15 minutes late to my workout but the panic of getting up late has certainly woken me up. As much as I dread waking up early, I'm always glad I made it to the class and feel super strong and capable afterwards.
9 a.m. — I get to my desk and eat another Noosa yogurt while catching up on emails and Slack. It's another day full of meetings and the day passes by pretty quickly. I eat some leftovers for lunch and decide to sit outside to enjoy the sunshine.
5 p.m. — On my car ride home from work, I decide to call a friend to pass the time in rush hour traffic. I went to school on the east coast and almost all of my friends stayed and found jobs there so it's been hard to be really far apart. I make sure to keep in touch with them as much as I can and stay updated on their lives.
6 p.m. — I heat up some leftovers for dinner and convince K. to watch the Vanderpump Rules reunion with me. Neither of us has seen the show but I've been keeping up with Scandoval and NEED to see the reunion. It definitely doesn't disappoint. I'm exhausted from the week and after the episode, I chat with my roommates for a bit before heading to bed early around 9:30.
Daily Total: $0
Money Diaries are meant to reflect an individual's experience and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more Money Diaries, click here.

Do you have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Submit it with us here.

Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here or email us here.

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series