Thursday, September 16, 2021

Money Diary: Typical-ish Week Back in the Office, Part One

Hoka One One Bondi 7 running shoes (affiliate link)

Approximately once a year, I get inspired to write a money diary post in the format used by the now-defunct Man Repeller, with some added resemblance to Luxe's weekend money diaries. Unlike in the Refinery29 money diaries, I do not provide extra commentary about my overall finances to these posts, which focus instead on daily spending for a week. To date, I've done a 2018 "atypical week" money diary (part one, part two); a 2019 "slightly more typical week" money diary (part one, part two); and a 2020 "COVID-era staycation" money diary (part one, part two). And now, here's the 2021 edition, depicting a fairly typical week from after I was required to return to the office full-time starting in mid-July this year. 

During this week, I wasn't very busy at work, so there won't be a lot of commentary about my time in the office. I'd arrive at my workplace around 9:15 A.M each morning; would step out briefly for a quick walk around the neighborhood to try and get my daily step count up before picking up a takeout lunch - mostly Sweetgreen, just like in my 2018 and 2019 money diaries - sometime around noon or 1:00 P.M.; and then head home around 5:30 P.M. or so. 

I wear my mask while I'm at work, except when I'm alone in my office with the door closed. Like I mentioned in my 2020 money diary, I typically wear a Happy Mask - I ordered mine before demand dramatically increased recently due to the start of the school year - though sometimes I wear a disposable KN95 instead. I find both types of masks equally comfortable because they're both cone or beak-shaped, preventing the fabric from resting directly against my nose and mouth.

This year's money diary starts on a Friday. I set my alarm for an unusually early wakeup call - 7:00 A.M. - because I plan to go running before work, as part of my recent new health and fitness goals. Since I set those goals for myself, I've been reliably running/jogging outside once a week, slowly increasing the distance I'm able to run each time. This particular outing was only my third jog since I started pursuing my new health and fitness goals. 

Within a minute of starting to jog, however, I stop abruptly because my feet and ankles just don't feel right. I'm pretty familiar with this type of feeling, the old pair of running shoes I'm currently wearing have had it, they're completely worn out. I'm surprised by how suddenly this issue came on, however, as these shoes felt just fine during my previous run last week. Whenever past pairs of running shoes became too worn out and started causing pain or discomfort, it usually happened very quickly, but I don't think I've ever previously started feeling it in the very first minutes of a workout before! I usually only start feeling it that evening, or the next day. But it's also been years since I've run outside. (Since graduating law school, I only ever ran on a treadmill until this year.)

I decide I can still walk for a while before heading home to shower and change for work. While on my way to the office, I pick up a small iced latte with skim milk at a coffee shop that's part of a small local chain. It costs $5.75 including tip. 

Things are pretty quiet at work today. Around noon, I head out to pick up my lunch from Sweetgreen, a custom salad with kale, baby spinach, chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion, spicy cooked broccoli, boiled chickpeas, cooked portobello mushrooms, and burrata for $14.64. This mix is a new one for me from after I started with my new health and fitness goals. Earlier this year after I started going back to the office, I used to get either the Sweetgreen kale caesar with chicken or this custom salad with chicken instead of mushrooms, but these days I try to stick to this new vegetarian (though not vegan) combination instead. 

Burrata is a seasonal summer item at Sweetgreen, so now that they've switched to their fall menu and no longer offer it, I order the same salad with the vegetables only for $11.92. I also bring some fresh mozzarella from the grocery store to add on the side (~$4.90 for two to three servings of mozzarella).

For dinner after I get home, K and I don't feel like cooking and we've also been craving the Korean BBQ and tofu soup from BCD Tofu House. (They offer a weekdays only special deal for a combo meal with smaller servings of both dishes.) We're also feeling too tired to go out and sit at the restaurant, so we decide to try ordering for delivery, something BCD did not offer until the pandemic. We didn't realize until we started this order that there are unusually high service and delivery fees associated with getting delivery from BCD, but we decide we're really craving it so it's worth it to us and we go ahead with the order. 

Our dinner of two Korean BBQ meat and tofu soup combos comes out to $82.06 total with tax, ~$9.00 tip, and the delivery and service fees. Ouch! In contrast, now that we've switched to doing pickup orders at BCD when we're craving it, the exact same meal for pickup comes out to ~$68.00 with tax and ~$8.00 tip. K and I currently split all takeout and restaurant expenses 50-50, so my share for today's dinner is $41.03 (and it's ~$34.00 for future BCD pickup orders). 

On Saturday, I sleep in a bit before making bacon and eggs for breakfast. As is our usual practice, I cook and K cleans up after. We're spending a quiet weekend at home, and I have a few online shopping-type errands I want to do today.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that could result in my earning a small commission - at no extra cost to you - if you click and make a purchase. Thank you for your support! 

First up, I order a pair of new running shoes, now that I know from yesterday's attempted workout that my old pair is no longer functional. I decide to get the Hoka One One Bondi 7s, which come out to $163.31 including tax. I have a $100 Nordstrom gift card on hand - my mom's 2018 Christmas gift to me that I forgot about until recently - so I'm only paying $63.31 out of pocket today. 

Now that I'm fully back in the office all week, I also need to replenish my office tea supply. I exclusively drink loose-leaf tea - I drink three to four cups/day at work, and before even getting into the issues of waste or microplastics associated with tea bags, it's simply not cost-effective to drink anything but loose-leaf with a tea habit like mine - and I mostly shop at Harney and Sons. There's a 20% off sale going on, and my order for jasmine tea (4 oz), genmaicha (1 lb), and sencha (4 oz) comes out to $40.80 total. It sounds expensive, but this quantity of jasmine tea and sencha should last me a good three months, and the genmaicha will last me even longer. I'm also getting 3% cash back from Rakuten/Ebates on this order, though I don't factor that into the price here, since I won't actually receive the money from the rebate until a few months from now. 

I also order a velvet-covered ring box with three slots in French blue from Amazon for $17.41 including tax. I somehow managed to break the hinge on the ring box that came with my engagement ring, no idea how I did that. Either way, I wanted one single box that could hold my engagement ring, my Mociun sapphire ring, and my future wedding band. 

K's birthday is coming up in a few weeks and I make a reservation to treat him to his birthday dinner. We plan to go to Smith and Wollensky because we've both been craving prime rib. 

Towards the late afternoon, I do a roughly 50 minute workout on the Exerpeutic folding stationary bike in our apartment. This one is new, after the previous one we had in the same model broke down after nearly four and a half years of fairly frequent use. After my workout, I shower and work on my blog. 

K and I don't feel like cooking dinner and so we decide to get pizza delivered. The total is $47.20, factoring in ~$3.00 in delivery fee and ~$8.00 tip. My half is $23.60. There's enough leftover slices that K can get a second meal out of this order during the upcoming week, while I'm at the office. 

Sunday ended up being a no-spending day, something that's becoming less common for me now than when I was allowed to work from home due to COVID social distancing. I make a Dutch baby pancake for breakfast using Smitten Kitchen's recipe, adding a tablespoon of sugar to the batter and topping it off with butter and maple syrup. 

Now that we have a 12'' Lodge cast-iron skillet, I make the Dutch baby in that instead of in the 9''x13'' aluminum baking pan I used to use, but I'm actually finding I prefer the results I get from the baking pan. While I get a much more impressive "rise" when baking the Dutch baby in the cast-iron skillet, the nature of this dish is such that the pancake deflates very quickly once it's out of the oven no matter what. I think the 9''x13'' banking pan has more surface area than the 12'' skillet, and I like the thinner pancake I get from baking in the 9''x13'' pan. 

It's another leisurely weekend day at home for us. I continue working on my blog and do another workout on our stationary bike in the mid-afternoon. In the early evening, my law school friends and I hop one of our monthly Zoom calls to catch up (well, technically, we use Google Meet). Have you and your friends and family continued doing video calls to socialize in recent months? If we all lived in NYC, I think we would maybe have switched back to meeting up in person by now - maybe sticking to outdoors meetups - but many of my close law school friends moved to other states long before the start of the pandemic, so it's still good to use video calls to catch up with each other. 

For dinner, I make mapo tofu with an adjusted version of the Woks of Life recipe and I also make some sauteed bok choy. K helps make the rice. And as usual, because I do most of the cooking, K cleans up after our meal. 

That's it for part one of this year's money diary! Stay tuned for part two, which will likely be posted sometime next week. This first half of the money diary totally makes it look like we're still eating a lot of restaurant delivery meals, but later on in the week we cook more of our dinners. 

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