7.26.22 3

Money Diary: A Week in Arlington, Virginia

Way, way back in January, I asked my Instagram followers what type of content they wanted to see more of from me, and money came up as something people are interested in reading about. (I totally get it—this is a topic that’s super interesting to me, too, and is also underscored by the fact that I work in credit card PR!) While you can see all my past money-related posts here, this is a subject I haven’t written about as much in recent years. For one, I want to be cautious in this space to avoid any conflicts of interest with my job, and for another, money is a very personal thing.

That all being said, several years back, I wrote a couple of ‘money diary’ posts, styled in the fashion of the popular Refinery29 articles—you can read them here and here. Since it’s been years—and a global pandemic—since I wrote a post like this, I thought it would be a fun series to bring back. So, without further ado, here’s a recap of how I spent my money last week:

Day One — Sunday, July 17

11am — I love to sleep in on weekends, and on Sundays, I usually wake up between 10:30-11am and then laze around for a while. During the weekdays, I get up and go, but on the weekends, I allow myself to be self-indulgent and do whatever it is I want. I usually catch up on social media, respond to my friends’ texts (since many of them are up before me, hah!), and then read for an hour or so before starting my day in earnest.

12:30pm — On weekends, I like to start my day with a big egg scramble using whatever vegetables are leftover from recipes throughout the week. On this particular Sunday, I made a two egg scramble with red onion, green pepper, tomato, and spinach, served with a mini avocado from Trader Joe’s and a whole wheat English muffin. (As an aside, I really think someone should publish a cookbook and call it We Have Food at Home.)

3:30pm — Usually, I do my big grocery shopping trip for the week on Sundays at Giant, but this particular week, I had gone to the store on Friday. So I took about a 75-minute walk around my neighborhood, called my mom to catch up, and then ended my route at the Trader Joe’s closest to my apartment to pick up a few things I needed that I had either run out of or forgotten on my big grocery trip—spinach for smoothies, TJ’s orange seltzer water, sliced apples for snacking, TJ’s green goddess dressing, and a few birthday cards for friends. $25.76

5:00pm — After my walk, I was hungry, but not quite ready for dinner, so I cut up some fresh strawberries to serve over some plain Greek yogurt with a little bit of honey. I then bought season one of Laguna Beach on Amazon so that I could rewatch ahead of the new Back to the Beach podcast Kristin and Stephen are doing—have to brush up on that source material! $14.99

7:30pm — I made myself a homemade chopped salad using ingredients I already had on hand—romaine, green pepper, red onion, tomato, carrots, avocado, baked chicken using this seasoning recipe, and Primal Kitchen green goddess dressing.

Daily Total: $40.75

 

Day Two — Monday, July 18

8:45am — My workday starts at 9am, and since I am still working from home, I choose to maximize sleep over having a relaxing morning routine. (I am much more of a night owl anyway.) My first alarm goes off at 8:30, but I let myself snooze for 15 minutes before I actually get out of bed. After getting ready and doing minimal makeup, I make a green smoothie with oat milk, spinach, 1/2 banana, a handful of strawberries, chia seeds, and collagen peptides to enjoy while I’m going through my email inbox and Slack messages from overnight.

12:00pm — If you’re going to learn one thing about me while reading this money diary, it’s that I order the same salad for lunch from Sweet Leaf and it truly is the highlight of my day in this work from home era. All the staff know me by name, ask about what’s going on in my life, and have my order memorized. It’s so nice to be a regular somewhere and is a nice way to break up my workday. $13.15

5:00pm — When I can, I try to log off from work around 5pm. I usually check in once or twice throughout the night to see if there’s anything urgent, but in the summer, I love to end my day by going on a nice long walk. I usually call my mom during this time and we compare notes about our days, and then I listen to podcasts during this time, too. Since I’m working from home, this is a great way for me to provide some separation between working hours and relaxing hours.

7:00pm — I had the ingredients to make the same chopped salad, which has become a recent go-to, and enjoyed it while watching an episode of Downton Abbey, which I’ve been re-watching lately.

8:00pm — While watching TV, I started doing some mindless online shopping and realized that Nike had restocked my favorite sneakers for HIIT workouts and my aforementioned long walks in a color way I love, so I bought a pair. $106

8:30pm — During the same online shopping session, I also purchased my sisters and myself tickets to see the musical Six next month at The National Theater on the recommendation of my coworker. I’m excited to see the show and was glad my sisters also had interest—I had pitched them the idea over the weekend, but just got around to buying tickets on this night. (My sisters paid me back for their tickets!) $82.51

Daily Total: $201.36

 

Day Three — Tuesday, July 19

8:45am — Another day, another delicious green smoothie to start my day off.

1:30pm — I head back over to my salad place for lunch, and Emily, who is making my salad on this particular day comments that I am a bit later than usual. The crime junkie in me feels comforted these folks would know if I went missing! $13.15 

5:00pm — I have dinner on the calendar with friends, but it’s not for a few hours and I’m starting to get hungry. So I make myself a snack—some sliced apples paired with goat cheese and fig & olive crackers from TJ’s! While I am enjoying my snack, I book a train ticket to NYC next month to visit my BFF, Emma. On the way up, I opt for the Acela, and on the way back, I opt for the NE Regional. I have some upgrade coupons in my account, so fingers crossed it works out that I can upgrade on both legs of the trip next month! $203

6:15pm — My friend Emily picks me up, and we drive into DC to meet our friend Erin at The Point DC for dinner! We had a great night sitting on their patio overlooking the water. We split some Brussels sprouts and the calamari to start, and then I ordered the kale salad with grilled chicken as my main. And nothing beats a glass of wine by the water, so I indulged in two glasses of sauvy b. $57.60

10:00pm — I needed a new book to read and my friend Abbi recently recommended Things We Never Got Over, so after reviewing my “to read” bookshelf on Goodreads, I decided that’s what I wanted to read next. I purchased it for my Kindle and got to reading. $3.99

Daily Total: $264.59

 

Day Four — Wednesday, July 20

8:45am — I made another green smoothie to kickstart my day, but on this particular day, things got wild as I swapped in pineapple in lieu of my normal strawberries.

12:30pm — My sister, Jennifer, was working The Washington Journalism & Media Conference this particular week and I was invited to speak at the program about how my experiences in student journalism led me to a career in PR on Wednesday night. Since I would be seeing Jennifer, I reached out to see if there was anything she wanted me to bring her and she asked for some Gatorade Zero. I picked those up, along with some Starbursts for her as a little treat, at CVS on my lunch break. $14.18

12:40pm — From CVS, I went over to Sweet Leaf to see my favorite salad team. $13.15 

5:00pm — I wanted to get a workout in before my presentation at WJMC, so I went down to the gym in my building to do some intervals on the treadmill and do a quick weight circuit.

6:00pm — After my workout, I freshened up, got dressed for WJMC, and then made myself a quick turkey sandwich for dinner with ingredients I already had on hand.

6:30pm — I hopped in my car and drove over to the George Mason University campus where WJMC is hosted every year. The conference is designed for high school juniors who are interested in pursuing a career in journalism or media, and I love that I have had the opportunity to speak at it the past couple of years. The students are most interested in hearing about how my experiences in student journalism and media internships helped me get to where I am today. I usually talk for about 20-25 minutes about my path and the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and then open the floor up for questions. So many people helped me along the way as I was navigating getting into college, selecting a major, and finding internships that I am happy to pay it forward to the next generation.

9:30pm — After my presentation, I just needed to veg out and come down from a ton of stimulation, so I enjoyed some fruit on my couch while watching an episode of Downton Abbey before getting ready for bed and closing out my day.

Daily Total: $27.33

 

Day Five — Thursday, July 21

8:45am — Another day, another delicious green smoothie to start my day off.

12:30pm — Can you guess what I’m doing for lunch?! That’s right, another Spicy Avocado salad from Sweet Leaf. You would think after two+ years of eating this same salad at least five days a week, I’d be tired of it, but as I mentioned before, I truly look forward to eating this salad every day. $13.15

4:50pm — I snuck out of the “office” a few minutes early as my family had tickets to see Luke Bryan at Jiffy Lube Live! My dad always splurges for the Premier Parking Pass (bless him) so we carpool to the concert so we can all take advantage. As such, I drove out to my parents’ house in Fairfax to meet up with them and my sisters. Given traffic, it took me about 40 minutes to get out there.

5:45pm — After hanging out at my parents’ house for a few minutes, we all pile into my dad’s car and head out to the Uncle Julio’s in Gainesville. Years ago, we decided that pregaming concerts at a restaurant instead of the parking lot was way more enjoyable, so that’s what we do. We get caught in some afternoon traffic, but arrive right on time for our reservation.

6:30pm — As y’all know, Mexican is my favorite food, so this was a great meal in my book. We started with some chips + salsa + queso, and our waitress is awesome because she gives us each our own salsa. I usually do fajitas, but mixed it up this time and went to the taco salad. My only con of this whole experience is they took their skinny margarita off the menu—so I enjoyed a couple of their house margaritas on the rocks. My dad treated us to dinner—he’s the best!

7:30pm — We cruise right into Jiffy Lube Live, go through the metal detectors and bag check, and then head to our seats to enjoy the concert. If you’ve never seen Luke Bryan before, he is such an amazing performer. This particular night, it was so fun as he was a little tipsy on stage and played for longer than he was supposed to, so he commented he was going to have to pay a fine. I debated whether or not to get a drink while we were there since they are so expensive, but since this is likely my last country music concert of the summer, I let myself indulge and order a vodka lemonade. $26.20

11:30pm — The concert wraps up and we head back to my parents’ house. From there, I pick up my car and drive back to Arlington. It’s always a haul to get out to Jiffy Lube, especially on weeknights, but for the artists I love, it’s worth it.

Daily Total: $39.35

 

Day Six — Friday, July 22

8:45am — You guessed it, I started my Friday off with a big green smoothie.

12:30pm — After a busy morning of meetings, I went over to grab my salad for lunch! Fridays are always fun because everyone is excited for the weekend. Instead of yelling, “see you tomorrow!” when I walk out the door, they tell me, “see you on Monday!” $13.15

4pm — I usually meet with my therapist on Wednesday nights after work, but this particular week we had to shift our session around because of scheduling conflicts. I’ve been seeing my therapist for about 18 months now, and it has been one of the best investments I’ve made in myself. $150

5pm — My best friend Emma was in town for the weekend and staying over in Georgetown, so I took an Uber over to her hotel with a bottle of wine and some fried pickle dip I had on hand so we could kick the weekend off with a little happy hour. This was also my first time meeting her sweet pup, Jackson. $9.75

8pm — Emma and I, along with three of our friends from college, had reservations at Martin’s Tavern for dinner, which is one of my favorite restaurants in DC. (If you went to UVA like we did, we coined it ‘the adult Virginian’ at this particular meal.) We walked over to the restaurant from Emma’s hotel since it was such a nice night. We split rarebit cheese and the onion rings to start, along with a bottle of cava. For my main, I did their Cobb salad—so good. $49.15

10:30pm — After dinner, we went back and hung out in Emma’s hotel room for a while and then called it a night. Oh, how Friday nights are different in your 30s! I took an Uber back home to Arlington. $10.92

Daily Total: $232.97

 

Day Seven — Saturday, July 23

10:30am — After a busy week, I was super tired, so I took advantage of the ability to sleep in! I couldn’t laze around as I had a busy day of fun activities to look forward to, so I got ready and got out the door.

11:50am — My first stop of the day was heading to my college best friend’s daughter’s first birthday party, and they live about 50 minutes away from me. The party started at 11am, but like the cool aunt I am, I rolled in a bit fashionably late ;). While at the party, I ate lunch, enjoyed some of the amazing birthday cake they had ordered, and was able to catch up with a lot of friends. It was so fun to see my friend’s daughter, too—she’s such a cutie and I was glad I could be part of celebrating this special day.

2:00pm — I left the one-year-old’s party to head over to my friend Julie’s 30th birthday party—quite the change of pace! The drive took about an hour, but it was nice to decompress between social events. En route, I had to stop for gas as I was riding on fumes, and while at the Sheetz, I also bought a bottle of water and a Diet Mountain Dew as a little pick-me-up. $58.09

2:55pm — En route to Julie’s party, I stopped by Harris Teeter to pick up a bottle of wine. Her sister was hosting at her house, and I hate to show up empty handed. (I also bought Julie a birthday gift, but I’m giving it to her next week at dinner club!) $13.77

3:00pm — I arrive at Julie’s party and hang out for a few hours. They have a make-your-own taco bar, homemade margaritas, plenty of cold drinks, and a lot of good tunes. It was super fun to hang out with my dinner club girls, Julie and Taylor, and my sister and my cousin also stopped by. It was nearly 100 degrees outside, so I made it a priority to chug water!

5:00pm — I head out from Julie’s party and drive into DC to pick Emma up. We swing by my apartment so I can drop my car off and freshen up, and then we head out for pre-dinner drinks.

5:30pm — We end up at Bar Ivy, a new spot in Clarendon that just opened last month. It’s California-inspired and has a really cute interior, but even better, they have two seats at the bar open. I order a prosecco and Emma goes for a cocktail, and we cheers to her birthday month and a great friendship. I treated for this round of drinks to celebrate the birthday girl. $32.49

7:00pm — For dinner, we went over to Ruthie’s All Day. Emma has been wanting to go since they were featured in Southern Living and since it’s one of my favorite spots, I required no convincing to dine there again. To start, we split the hush puppies and a burrata + tomato salad. For my main, I did the burger—it’s so good! And for dessert, we split the bourbon peach cobbler. I rarely indulge in dessert, especially at restaurants, but I love a good fruit cobbler a la mode. I also had a couple of glasses of bubbly! $75.79

9:30pm — After dinner, I was exhausted and we called it an early night. I took an Uber home from the restaurant, got ready for bed, and fell asleep almost instantly. $8.73

Daily Total: $188.87

///

In total, I spent $995.22, which is definitely more than I spend most weeks. The expenses added up namely because I booked travel, purchased tickets to a show, and had a really packed social calendar. That being said, I also picked this week to share as part of this series because I knew I would have a lot of varying activities going on—it would be pretty boring to read only about how I make a green smoothie for breakfast and eat the same salad for lunch every day.

A few years ago, I hired a financial planner to help me manage my investments and ensure I’m tracking towards a life of leisure in retirement, and it has been one of the best things I’ve done for myself. Since beginning to work with her, I’ve also been more aware of where my money goes—I’ve really tried to cut back on convenience spending and impulse buys so that I can meet my aggressive savings goals. While I don’t publish what I spend every week on the internet, I do track it in the Weekly App—I highly recommend if you’re looking for an easy-to-use budgeting app that syncs with your bank accounts + credit cards.

Leave a Comment

3 Comments

  1. Danielle wrote:

    I love this type of post! So fun to see the inner financial workings of others. Sounds like you have some fun experiences coming up!

    Published 7.28.22
    Reply
    • Katie wrote:

      Thank you so much! I totally agree – love writing these types of posts, too, so will try to do them more often. x

      Published 7.31.22
      Reply
  2. Anna wrote:

    Please continue this series!

    Published 8.17.22
    Reply