A Week in D.C. on an $85,000 Salary

Welcome to Spending Notes, where we do a weekly deep dive into how our readers spend their cash.

Today: a marriage counselor who makes $85,000

Occupation: marriage counselor

Age: 43

Location: Washington, DC

Salary: $85,000 (approx. $3,269 per pay period)

Day One


Don’t get me wrong—I love my job. There’s nothing quite like helping others through the rollercoaster of marriage or guiding someone through a divorce that’s best for everyone involved. Still, this sort of work can be stressful. Being a marriage and family therapist is one of the most stressful jobs you can have! At an appointment this afternoon, my doctor recommends I look into alternative ways to manage my stress before considering medication or other therapies. So, I’m researching some ways to ease my anxious mind. I discover Delta 8 gummies 1000mg, which look like an excellent way to embrace the benefits of hemp in a simple edible form. Since it doesn’t contain THC, it won’t cause a high, either. I’ve heard great things about CBD, so I’m interested in learning more about this cannabinoid!

Total: $40

Day Two


I’m committing to doing something for myself every day after work in the interest of following my doctor’s advice and better managing my stress. Today, it’s an iced tea from my favorite cafe, then home for a DIY manicure. Going to the salon takes more time and effort than I can muster after a long day, but stickers seem to be a great compromise. With custom nail stickers, I can change up my nails in a matter of minutes and still get the beautiful manicure I’ve been craving. Quick, easy, and stylish sounds like a winning combination to me!

Total: $6.50

Day Three


After work today, I make my way to the nearest drugstore. For today’s bit of self-care, I’m planning to start a nightly skincare routine. I’ve ordered a CBD-infused moisturizer online and want to add a good cleanser and some other products and tools. Hopefully, the right combination can help defeat the wrinkles that are starting to lay siege to my face. If nothing else, at least a nice moisturizer will feel good on my face each night! Eventually, I might pick out some fancier tools, like one of those gemstone face rollers. For now, though, a simple sponge is enough, I think.

Total: $37

Day Four


It’s a long day of appointments today, so I don’t really have time to start some significant leisurely activity tonight. So instead, I order some delivery—less time wasted cooking—and sit down to rewatch Hamilton for at least the fiftieth time. Sure, I’ll be humming “The Room Where It Happens” for the next week or so, but it’s worth it for the feel-good catharsis of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s masterpiece. Once they take their bows, I move into the bathroom for my skincare routine. Two days in a row might not be a habit, but it’s a good start.

Total: $19.50

Day Five


Today’s a bank holiday, so no work for the day. As a bit of further respite from the stress of my job, I book a day at the spa, an upgrade from my at-home self-care efforts. After a series of relaxing treatments, I’m certainly feeling more relaxed! The smell of lavender and eucalyptus is wafting off my skin, and I don’t think I’ve ever been literally glowing to this extent. I might just have to make spa days a regular occurrence.

Total: $425

Day Six


Despite living in D.C. for years, I’m going to the Smithsonian for the first time today! Of course, I can’t make it through all of the museums in just one day, and I probably should have waited for a day that would be less tourist-heavy. C’est la vie, I suppose. For today, I check out the Museums of Natural History and American History. I think my favorite part is seeing the Kermit the Frog puppet, a childhood favorite. I jump online once I get home and order a silly puppet of my own. Do I have a real need for a cartoon puppet in my 40s? Probably not. But do I want one despite my age? Heck, yes.

Total: $32

Day Seven


I start today by treating myself to a fancy latte, then do some work, considering some of the cases I’ll be focusing on this coming week. Afterward, I go for groceries and do some meal prep to last me the next couple of days. I skipped my skincare regimen yesterday and the day before, though the facial from my spa day should count. So, I take an extra-long shower, leaving some extra time for pampering with a leave-in conditioner, all-over exfoliant, and some extra creamy lotion. I finish up by using the new CBD moisturizer, which arrived earlier today.

Total: $62

Total for the week: $622