A Fiery Millennial’s Money Diary

Today I am very excited to feature a guest post from Gwen of FIERY MILLENNIALS. On her blog, Gwen chronicles her adventures in real estate, solopreneurship, and her musings on navigating adulthood. She is a vocal advocate in the FIRE community for young adults, and I have followed her blog since I discovered the concept of financial independence. After doing my own money diary, I was curious what Gwen’s would look like after uprooting her life to move to DC. Without further ado, check out a week in the life of Gwen!

My name is Gwen and I’m a 28-year-old woman who just moved to the Washington, DC area for a new job. Join me this week as I navigate public transportation, play video games and hang out with a friend!

Monthly Expenses

Pet Supplies$50

Day One

7a: I carpool with my host family to work. Having me in the car allows us to take the toll road without paying the toll, saving him $15 on the way in. I get dropped off at a Metro station and take it to work. Coming in from DC saves me $2.50 each way, so I only charge $2.25 to my prepaid transit card to get to work.

830a: I settle in at work, resisting anything from the coffee shops I walk by. I usually bring some sort of cereal, fruit, and granola bars for breakfast and morning snacks. Today’s food is Frosted Cheerios, an orange and a granola bar.

10a: I take a walk around work to get the blood flowing. I just started this new job, so my accounts aren’t set up and I’m not contributing much work to the office yet.

12p: Finally lunch time! I take a walk around work and get some food. Today’s lunch is a salad, chips, and a drink. Normally, I bring my lunch to work, but all my containers and insulated lunch bags are in storage so I’m taking advantage of the situation and using this as a special treat. $10.25

2p: I must stay off the internet. There are too many temptations for things I want to buy but I don’t have a place of my own so I resist buying anything.

3p: I check my account to see the Christmas present I ordered for my stepdad is finally off backorder and charged to my card. He is going to love it! $14.79

5p: Time to go home! Another $2.25 ride into DC to catch my ride home. Taking the toll road home saves us $6 and at least 20 minutes of traffic. I’m still not used to the traffic around here and am very glad I’m not driving.

7p: Dinner is waiting for us when we get home. I am incredibly blessed to be living for free in such a high cost of living area. As soon as I pay off some debts and pad my savings, I’ll be finding my own place but for now I appreciate the generosity of my host family.

Day One total: $25.04

Day Two

620a: An unusually early start to the day as my ride needed to be in DC earlier than normal. I haven’t worked out in forever and need to get back on the wagon. I did some searching and found a gym close to my metro stop that offers a FREE trial pass. I can go there for free for the rest of the week to work out! I think it’ll be more expensive than I want to spend, so unless it’s on the reimbursement list from my new employer I’ll be finding somewhere else to go.

8a: I catch the right train and make it to work with minutes to spare. Good thing I have all that energy from working out! $2.25 was swiped off my prepaid card.

930a: Looks like I used up all my energy at the gym this morning. I grab a coffee drink before a training meeting starts. $3.39

12p: Lunch time! My second favorite time of day. Today’s lunch is with a new employee. I grab a burger, fries, and a drink. $9.39

5p: After another boring day at work, it’s time to catch my ride home. Another $2.25 off my prepaid card.

7p: Dinner was amazing, as usual. My friend wants to play Smash Bros Ultimate against me, so I sign up for a year’s subscription to Switch Online so I can play online. It’s a little laggy but hopefully that will get better. I discovered that subscription gives me access to the NES Classics on the Switch which makes me so happy! $19.39

9p: The earlier start and workout has done me in. I’m out for the night!

Day 2 total: $32.17

Day Three

7a: Another day of work. It’s so hard to get up when it’s dark outside but we get to see some absolutely amazing sunrises over landmarks like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. I am so happy my commute has such a great view. Another $2.25 to my transit card. I have some extra time before work and add money to my balance as it’s getting low. I have a fancy credit card that reimburses the first $300 of travel expenses of the new expense year, which means this will get reimbursed soon. It’s like I’m commuting for free! $30

A morning sunrise in DC
A morning sunrise in DC

930a: I have more training in 30 minutes but I’m not going to get a coffee drink today. The drink yesterday made me full and I wasn’t very hungry for lunch.

12p: I made it through training without dying and got lunch. Today’s food was a burrito bowl and a drink. It’s a similar concept to Chipotle, but not. $11.53

3p: I have a call with a brand about the concept of Financial Independence. It’s the big thing nowadays and brands are starting to get in on it. I’ve had a few calls like this and hope one of them turns into a partnership!

5p: I leave work and head home. $2.25 on my transit card to get to DC to drive home. It’s been a long day!

7p: We get home and have shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches for dinner. It was very good and very healthy which I appreciate with my new workout routine.

9p: I play some video games and mess around on my phone before going to bed. My brain’s processing power is about out after the day at work.

Day 3 total: $41.53

Day Four

620a: Another early start and work out. Today’s focus is upper body. My core is still sore from the workout earlier in the week and I’m moving slow.

830a: I barely make it to work on time after the train goes offline in the middle of my commute and I need to wait for the next one around. It was annoying but hey, I can play my Switch standing up as well as I do sitting down. Another $2.25 off my metro card.

930a: The morning passes pretty quickly as I have a bunch of administrative stuff to complete. Even busy work is better than no work.

12p: I get a salad and a drink, no chips. Instead I loaded the salad up with crunchy onion bits! Tasty and cheaper. I also started having them put a half scoop of ranch on the salad which enhances the salad instead of drowning it. $9.59

2p: I give up on doing anything useful and starting reading a book from my Amazon Kindle account. I literally can’t do any work and it’s starting to drive me crazy!

5p: Time to go home woo! My ride isn’t available tonight, so I take the Metro and the bus home instead. It’s finally getting cold and the walk home is a blustery one. I’m not in the greatest of moods so it annoys me. $6.25 gets charged to my transit card.

The DC Metro

630p: I just sit down for dinner when a friend lets me know he’ll be in town tonight. He’s staying about 10 minutes away from me, so we make plans to hang out.

730p: I pick my friend up from the Metro station and hang out at the hotel with him. He’s got top-tier status so our appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages are free. We hang out over mocktails and catch up for a few hours until I’m too tired to continue. I drive home and pass out around 1130 pm. A late night for me but worth it to see a friend!

Day 4 total: $9.59

Day Five

7a: Everyone piles into the car and heads into DC. I take a different line to work and am a little more anxious as I watch the stops to make sure I’m going the right direction. I’ve had a few mishaps so I’m extra careful on new routes. $2.25 comes off my transit card.

830a: I finally have enough supplies at work to make tea from my loose leaf tea collection. I have a nice new Yeti mug thanks to my friends at USAA and it keeps my tea warm for hours. I drink two pots with my breakfast and through the rest of the morning.

10a: I spend my morning researching various things that catch my fancy and help a new colleague figure out what to study for her certification test. It’s not my ideal way to spend a morning, but at least it’s relevant to work. Ish.

12p: I investigate the cafeteria to see if they have non-spicy wings. I’m a huge wuss so I only get the wings when they’re BBQ flavored. I’m in luck and score some wings, chips, and fresh fruit. $11.07

2p: More reading. So bored. Sigh. I just want to do work!

5p: Best part of the week! It’s sad that the thing I look forward to the most is going home Friday afternoon but that’s life.

7p: Friday dinner is pizza. I pop a frozen gluten-free pizza in the oven and chow down.

8p: I drink some hard cider and have a high old time playing Smash Bros Ultimate until late at night.

Day 5 total: $11.07

playing the switch

Day Six

9a: I sleep in and only drag myself out of bed to feed the cat. It’s a good thing he’s cute.

11a: I record a few episodes with my co-host for our podcast. It’s not enough to have a blog about Financial Independence. I really like podcasting as I get to express different parts of my personality and I get to connect with a broader range of people. I think these episodes are going to turn out great!

1p: I grab a quick snack from the kitchen to tide me over until the afternoon.

4p: I’m staying with huge Chiefs fans, so they invite friends over to watch the AFC West Championship game. We have a few drinks, eat some ridiculously good BBQ they brought with them, and enjoy watching the Chiefs win!

8p: I feel no need to be productive, so I watch the other football game and head to bed shortly before it’s over.

Day 6 total: $0

Day Seven

9a: Sunday funday. The cat wakes me up again. Why does he need food so early in the day? Sigh.

rag doll cat
He’s lucky he’s cute

10a: I eat breakfast and settle in for a lazy day at the house. We’re getting a ton of snow, so I couldn’t go anywhere even if I wanted to.

12p: I get off my computer and scrounge for lunch among the leftovers in the fridge.

2p: I’ve had enough screen time so I get off the computer and go downstairs……. to play Smash Bros Ultimate. I’m working my way through the adventure game World of Light and some of the spirits are SUPER HARD. Each hour I play lowers the overall cost per hour. I love video games!

6p: We have dinner together before hanging out and watching an old movie. This time it’s about a journalist that’s been railroaded into prison by a corrupt district attorney. The movie is from 1939 and is pretty good.

8p: I’m tired from a long day of doing nothing, so I take another progress picture of the snow outside and head to bed.

Day 7 total: $0

Thanks goes out to Financial Mechanic for the guest post spot! If you liked what you read, you can find me blogging at Fiery Millennials and co-hosting FIRE Drill podcast. I’ll be around in the comments to answer any questions!

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    1. Thank you! It really helps I’m only directly responsible for my food and transportation at the moment. Otherwise it would be a much different money diary! (as for the cat, he’s ridiculously adorable and very aware of that fact!)

  1. Not sure about the “ton of snow” comment….we only got a few inches for petes sake. Thought that time out in the Midwest would have toughened you up a bit 😛

    But seriously….welcome to the area and congrats on the new job! You will love it here, lots of stuff to see and do that is very low cost. (Except when the government is shut down, in which case it’s not as much fun.) Spring and summer in DC are pretty nice. Traffic isnt so much fun, but you cant have everything i guess 🙂 Having the Metro definitely helps.

    Also keep up the great work on the podcast! You and J seem to have a lot of fun with it, and the energy comes through. Fun to listen to on the way in to work each week!

    1. Thanks Jim! You might have only gotten a few inches…. We got 10! That qualifies as a lot to this native Midwesterner. I am so excited for spring to get here. I can’t wait to ride my bike all over the place and see the sights! Hopefully by then the govt will be back in action.

  2. Gwen, I enjoyed reading your post. It looks like your food expense is primarily for lunches. It is amazing how $10 lunches can add up over a month! I am so glad that my work offers lunch at cost so only$2 or so a day.

    1. For now, yes it is. I don’t really have great access to a kitchen or supplies to bulk prep lunches, so I eat at work for now. Unfortunately, they have a captive audience and charge me a premium for the food. Sigh. Still, it’s better in the long run for me to pay for lunches than it is to pay for housing of my own and bring my lunches to work.

  3. I love daily breakdowns like this! It’s literally a chance to crawl inside of someone else’s life and I live in a low key rural area right now, so it’s good to have reminders about the way the rest of the world lives.

    The cat part is so relatable. As someone into history, I’m trying to guess what the movie is at the end, but I have no idea!

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