1.23.19 8

Money Diary: A Week in Washington, DC

Last year, I wrote a Money Diary and logged my spending for a week, modeled after the popular Refinery29 Money Diaries series. As I was pulling together my 2018 blogging recap, I realized it was one of my most popular posts last year. Since it’s easy to put together and I have fun tracking my spending for a week—it’s very eye-opening!—it was a no-brainer to do it again.

So, last week, I wrote down everything I spent money on to compile the money diary below. Two major differentiating factors between last year’s post and this year’s—1) since moving to DC, I Metro to work, so I spend $9/day commuting, and 2) last year I was doing Dry January, but this year I decided to forgo that personal challenge, so alcohol is included in my eating-out expenses.

Here’s where my money went the past week:

Day One — Sunday, January 13

10:30am — I wake up to a winter wonderland in DC, and it’s still snowing! Despite the eight inches of snow on the ground, I decide that I still want to head to spin class, so I put on my exercise gear and then bundle up.

11:00am — I leave my house a whole half hour before spin class, even though the spin studio is only three blocks away, so I have enough time to snap some pictures of the snow. Doing it for the ‘gram!

11:30am — On Saturday, Monica and I tried our first Zengo Cycle class for free, and I really enjoyed it. So, I signed up for the new member deal that allows you to purchase three classes for $33, which is a total steal. I clip into the bike and enjoy the fun workout for next 50 minutes. $11

12:30pm — After class, it’s still snowing. I head towards home, but not before stopping off at CVS to buy some Swiffer Wet Jet Pads since I was out and knew I’d want to wipe down my hardwoods after tracking the snow/salt in. $11.65

1:00pm — I heat up a frozen serving of my mom’s favorite pasta dish, then shower, and then settle in on the couch with The Secret Wife while it continues to snow outside.

6:30pm — Starting to get hungry for dinner, I throw all attempts at nutrition out the window and decide I’m going to indulge in my second carb-heavy meal of the day and the perfect snow day food: Kraft Mac & Cheese. I love to make mine with milk, but I realize I don’t have any, so I bundle back up and walk to the CVS down the street to pick some up. I make dinner and spend the rest of the night reading. $1.89

Daily Total: $24.54


Day Two — Monday, January 14

7:30am — I wake up at my usual time and connect with my coworkers—we decide we’re all going to work from home today. I get back in bed and sleep until 9am when I get up for real and start working.

12:30pm — I have a break in meetings, so I head upstairs to the gym in my apartment for a quick 30-minute workout. I intermittent fast most days, so after my workout, I break my fast with a piece of grilled chicken and roasted broccoli, leftover from the night before.

5:30pm — Work is done for the day, and I was relieved to finish a big project I was working on. I get ready to head to dinner with friends, which is much-needed after being cooped inside all day!

6:15pm — Monica, Stephanie, and I meet up at Los Cuates for dinner / margarita Monday. We split the white queso and I enjoyed two margaritas (one on happy hour!) and chicken fajitas for dinner. We had such a fun time and definitely want to eat more Mexican food together soon. $44.41

Daily Total: $44.41


Day Three — Tuesday, January 15

7:30am — I wake up, get ready for work, and then walk to the Metro. My commute door-to-door is about 45-50 minutes, but I don’t mind it since it’s a great time to catch up on social media, read the newspaper, or respond to emails. Since it’s rush hour, Metro is peak fare. $4.50

12:00pm — We have a celebration lunch at work for everyone who was promoted this year. Even better than the free lunch, it was great to eat with my coworkers and talk to everyone in a more casual setting.

3:30pm — I am hitting that afternoon slump hard, so I decide to treat myself to a Diet Coke. I usually try to avoid caffeine after lunch, but hey, you win some, you lose some. $1.50

5:30pm — It’s closing time, so I take the Metro back into the city. By the time I get home, I have about an hour at home to hang out, so I pop on an episode of friends. $4.50

7:00pm — My friend Gia has me over to her apartment for a wine night. I bring a bottle of wine I already had on hand and she put together a delicious charcuterie and cheese spread for us to enjoy.

Daily Total: $10.50


Day Four — Wednesday, January 16

7:30am — My day starts off a bit sluggish since I had a little too much fun at wine night, but I get ready for the day and then head out the door to take the Metro to work. $4.50

12:00pm — One of my favorite things about my new job is that there is an awesome cafeteria that I look forward to eating in everyday. On this particular day, I opted to treat myself a little bit and ordered a turkey burger on a multigrain bun with French fries. I also grabbed a Bai Bubbles to drink $9.85

5:30pm — I head out of work, but stop off in Clarendon on the way home. $3.65

6:30pm — I signed up for a class at my favorite spin studio. Since I’m still not sure how often I’ll be able to ride, I pay for a drop-in class as opposed to buying a package of classes. $24

7:30pm — After spin class is over, I stop by Sweetgreen to pick up a salad for dinner. I make my own with a mix of romaine / spring mix, broccoli, carrots, corn, tomatoes, tortilla chips, and chicken with cucumber tahini dressing. So good! $11

7:45pm — With my salad in hand, I hop on the Metro to head home for the night. $2.05

9:00pm — Having finished The Secret WifeI needed a new book to read. None of my library books were close to coming off their holds, so I opted to buy one I’ve been wanting to read for a while: All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. $14.99

Daily Total: $70.04


Day Five — Thursday, January 17

7:30am — It’s Thursday, which has long been my favorite day of the week! I great ready for work and head out the door to hop on the Metro to work. $4.50

1:00pm — My coworkers and I head to the cafeteria together after a team meeting. I opt to make my own burrito bowl at the Mexican restaurant that comes with complimentary chips and guac! I also grab a diet soda. $7.50

5:30pm — I head home from work on the Metro and stop by my apartment to drop my computer off and freshen up for the evening. $4.50

6:45pm — I grab an Uber to head to the Arc Hotel opening with Jenn, Monica, and Laura$8.12

7:00pm — The four of us meet up at the hotel opening and enjoy the complimentary open bar—even though the line was so long!—and plenty of cheese and fruit. It was a fun night catching up with friends, and it’s always nice when food and drink are free.

9:00pm — Jenn and I split an Uber home as the event is winding down. I watch the latest This Is Us when I get home and then called it a night. $9.34 

Daily Total: $33.96


Day Six — Friday, January 18

7:45am — It’s Friday, so I let myself sleep in a bit later than normal! I get ready and then head to the Metro. $4.50

10:00am — I need a mid-morning pick-me-up, so I head to the snack bar and grab a Diet Coke. $1.50

12:30pm — A creature of habit, I head back to the cafeteria for lunch and decide on a chicken salad sandwich with a fruit salad for lunch. $6.50

4:00pm — My coworker and I decide to call it a day on the earlier side, so I head home on the Metro and spend a few hours reading on my couch. $4.50

7:45pm — I call an Uber down to the Wharf to meet my friends Julie and Taylor at Rappahannock Oyster Bar. $9.39

8:00pm — Taylor, Julie, and I enjoy a glass of wine ahead of our late dinner reservation. I haven’t since them since December, so we have a lot to catch up on! $15.62

9:00pm — We head over to Officina for dinner and opt for the three-course $35 restaurant week offering. I also enjoyed two glasses of wine. The food was great and the courses were spaced out nicely so we really got to enjoy our meal. $83.15

10:30pm — After dinner, I grab an Uber home and then call it a day. $10.14

Daily Total: $135.30


Day Seven — Saturday, January 19

11:30am — After waking up and getting dressed for spin, I head over to Zengo to use another one of my classes from the new member introductory deal I signed up for last weekend. $11

1:00pm — For lunch after class, I head over to Chop’t. Since I work with them on Instagram, I have free salad coupons and used one of those to make my own salads. I love their Mexican goddess dressing! I am so thankful so many of you recommended it to me!

6:00pm — I spent a lazy afternoon on the couch reading, working on my blog, and watching Friends reruns. Though I considered meeting my sister at a bar to watch the UVA vs. Duke game, I decide to hang out at home. I pour myself a glass of wine and make Trader Joe’s chicken cilantro wontons.

10:30pm — After a quiet Saturday night at home, I call it an early night after a busy week!

Daily Total: $11


In total, I spent $329.75, which is a pretty average week for me! I usually eat lunch out most days, enjoy takeout at home several times a week, grab at least one dinner or happy hour with friends, Uber three or four times, and go to three or four group exercise classes, all of which are reflected in the money diary above. Though I didn’t go to the grocery store this week, I also count that as discretionary spending. When I do go to the grocery store, I usually spend between $40-50 and I usually only go every couple of weeks.

Two other categories of discretionary spending that I do spend money on that aren’t reflected here are travel and clothing purchases. I try to keep my normal spending weeks on the lower side, so that when those two items pop up, I have some extra padding in my checking account to cover them. I also tend to buy clothes at the start of each season—and since we’re pretty deep into winter, I feel like I’ve filled the holes in my closet I need to and am waiting for retailers to start stocking up on spring clothes.

Other than discretionary spending, I have several expenses I pay for on a recurring basis—rent (it’s a lot, but all my utilities are included except Internet), Internet ($54/month), Hulu ($11.99/month), and Gmail for Business ($5/month). I’m lucky enough to get insurance through work (it’s deducted straight from my paycheck!) and don’t have any student loans to pay down. As such, I also save a portion of my paycheck through my 401(K) and put aside some liquid cash in my emergency savings account.

I had a lot of fun putting this money diary together and comparing it to how I spent money this time last year! Definitely send any of your favorite money diaries my way—I love reading them.

Leave a Comment


  1. Molly wrote:

    Obsessed again!! I eat out with friends almost every night and definitely save on lunches during the week, so it’s so interesting to me to see that you eat at yalls cafeteria almost everyday! Looooove this post!


    Published 1.23.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Yes! I really should try to bring lunch more to save more money for eating out, but our cafeteria is just so good! :]

      Published 1.26.19
  2. Ashlee wrote:

    Loved reading this, Katie! It’s always so interesting to have a sneak peek into other people’s schedules too! Thanks for putting this together!


    Published 1.24.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Yes – I totally agree! I love to see how people structure their days! xo

      Published 1.26.19
  3. Monica wrote:

    I always love reading Money Diaries (hello, rabbit hole!) and it’s crazy how quickly things add up as soon as we start to “treat ourselves” in any capacity. It doesn’t help that we live in such an expensive city but it’s worth every penny (no pun intended ;))! <3 you!

    Published 1.24.19
  4. This was so interesting Katie! Thank you for taking the time to keep this diary. This is definitely a good way to keep you accountable for your spending!

    Published 1.24.19
    • Katie wrote:

      Totally agree! Really makes you think about where all the pennies are going :]

      Published 1.26.19
  5. Rachel wrote:

    Love this post! So fun to see how you spend money in a “day in the life of” style!

    Published 2.3.19