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Living in Laguna Beach on $60K/Year

There is a website called Refinery29 that sends me countless emails every week, and because of the catchy headlines and pithy writing, I am their slave. I click on all the things, and I’m damn happy I do, or else how would I know my weekly horoscope? Or how to spend all my money on skincare? One of the best things about Refinery29 is their "Money Diary" columns that go something like this, “A Week in New York City on a $70,000 Salary.”

These articles are interesting for two reasons: 1) I like that other young people are facing similar financial struggles, and 2) I like that the people featured in these articles often give out little nuggets of advice, like how to set up diversified investments, or how to talk to the man in your life about money issues. Because I love those articles so much, I decided to do one of my own. I tracked all my expenses for a week and here I am, sharing it with the world because nothing screams accountability more than that.

I should note that I actually earn more than $60K because I take on a variety of freelance projects, but they are inconsistent and therefore difficult to track. I’ll know how much I made on a freelance basis by next tax season so check back then. Below is a list of my ongoing expenses.

Rent: $1,326 (share a 2 bed, 2 bath in Laguna Beach. Includes my cat rent of $50.00/month)

Internet: $30 (split with roommate)

Electricity: $20(ish)

Gas: $240(ish) per month

No Car Payment!

Groceries: $350 (yikes)

Monday, May 27, 2019

It’s Memorial Day, and I slept until 10. My body is exhausted from a weekend of running in the mountains, so I decide to take it easy and get some work done. I head to Starbucks, where I spend $6.40 on a granola bar and iced coffee. I also made $150.00 because I sold my bike, so today I’m $143.60 in the positive.

Total Spending: +$143.60

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

I spend $24.95 on a customized T-shirt for a friend, and $48.54 for groceries at Albertson’s: bananas, powdered peanut butter, sparkling water, Lara bars, k-cups, apples, tampons, frozen vegetables, broccoli, and hearts of romaine. How exciting.

Total Spending: $73.49

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

In a moment of great weakness coupled with dire need, I spent $134.95 on the following clothing items: dress pants, a yellow blazer, black booties, two dresses (one for work, and one for fun), a new bra, and two black cami tanks. I also spent $10.50 to mail my out-of-state friend her laptop charger, which she forgot at my place. Good thing I sold my bike!

Edit: Half of my items were gross, so I return $58.12 worth.

Total Spending: $87.33

Thursday, May 30, 2019

I see a therapist every other week who specializes in eating disorders. We talk about the pressure women feel to look a certain way, the shame and stigma surrounding various foods, and the best ways to ignore toxic messaging from the media, health "experts, " et cetera. He recommends I purchase something called the Intuitive Eating Workbook ($13.45) to help me work toward food neutrality and tune into my hunger cues. When I left his office, my hunger was cue-ing coffee, so I stopped at Starbucks for a grande iced coffee with soy milk (no sweetener) ($3.05). After work, I met a friend at a coffee shop and spent $2.85 for herbal mango rooibos tea.

Total Spending: $19.35

Friday, May 31, 2019

Tomorrow I'm running a trail marathon in Big Bear, CA so I stop at Trader Joe's for supplies: Lara Bars, water, Nuun, a birthday card for my mum, and Father’s Day cards for my dad and grandpa ($13.49). I also filled my gas tank, which is a real bummer because gas is over $4.00/gallon here in Orange County ($58.14)

Total Spending: $71.63

Saturday, June 1, 2019

I ran my trail marathon in Big Bear! It went well, but the 2 hour drive home was a bit rough. I stopped along the way for an acai bowl and a soy latte ($13.42). The rest of the day I spent not moving.

Total Spending: $13.42

Sunday, June 2, 2019

I drove down to San Diego to visit a childhood friend who ran the Rock n Roll San Diego marathon. A big group of people grabbed food (she paid for me <3) and ice cream ($5.00). I stopped at Aldi on my way home to stock up on produce for the week ($38.60)

Total Spending: $43.60

Total Weekly Spending: $315.22 (minus the sale of my bike for $150.00) $165.22 (look how I'm still justifying the purchase of new clothing).

Other items I budget for include:


-Races (my marathon in Big Bear was $90.00, but many races are more expensive)

-Running Shoes (my favorite trail shoes, the Altra Timp, go for a cool $140.00)

-Car Savings (I put away $200/month)

-Activities Out (dinner with friends, coffee, movies, etc)

-Emergency Fund

-Cat supplies

-Household Supplies

I put all my income from freelance projects in a separate account so that when tax season rolls around I'm not scrambling to pay taxes on my extra income, and so I don't spend it like it's "extra" cash. After tax season, I'll put it in my emergency fund, which I recently used to purchase two new tires for my car. Life is unpredictable, and money isn't always sexy to talk about, but being broke is infinitely less sexy. An emergency fund is incredibly necessary.

P.S. I use the Mint App to track my expenses and Acorns for a Roth IRA and to save up for my next car. I use a Discover credit card (no annual fee) and a Southwest card for miles.


Sarah Rose

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