How Much Does an Intern in D.C. Spend a Week?

April 13, 2018 Lin-hsiu Huang

Lin plans her budget for the week.

Here’s a peek into my money diary, which outlines what and how much I spent in one week in Washington D.C.


I set a loose goal of $20 for groceries for a week. The Residential Academic Facility (RAF) is walking distance from several groceries stores – Giant, Whole Foods, and Harris Teeter, just to name a few – and that actually helps me tremendously on staying within my budget. I tend to spend less money on groceries if I just only pick up essential items whenever I run out.

Grocery shopping as an intern in D.C.

The illustration I did lists all the items I bought this particular week – ranging from perishable goods, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to breakfast essentials, to apartment items. This week, I spent roughly $22 on groceries; however, I typically spend less than $20 on a week’s worth of groceries, so I meal prep around cheaper food items – rice and eggs are two staples I eat at least a few times a week!

Total: $22

Eating out

Coffee shops in D.C.

I don’t eat out too often, but it’s still nice to treat myself to brunch or coffee once in a while, especially when I have friends visiting. Restaurants in D.C. are pricey, so Yelp has become my best friend. I like to look at the restaurants' menu beforehand, to give myself an idea of the price range and places with 4 stars or more have yet to disappoint me. This week, I checked out three local coffee bars, and all three were incredible. In total, I spent around $22 on coffee, dinner, and boba.

Total: $22


D.C. is typically known for its free museums, and I have for been taking advantage of all of them. However, it’s still fun to occasionally go watch a movie, see a play, go out to bars, or go to a concert. I typically budget for one entertainment activity each week that is not free.

There's more to D.C. than just museums

There are numerous music venues in the District, and this week I decided to check out U Street Music Hall where Vinyl Theatre, The Stolen, and Vesperteen were playing! The ticket was $15, and it was totally worth it. It was such a fun experience jamming with my friend from Kentucky and enjoying the diverse music options you can find in D.C..

Total: $15


Uber, Lyft, buses, and the Metro all cost money, and that’s something I easily forget. This week, I put $10 in my metro card and spent $5 on two Lyft/Uber rides for the concert I attended. To minimize my spending, I typically walk to and from work! It’s a good way to catch up on daily news via podcasts, get my steps in, and save an average of $5 a day!

Planning transportation to save money.

It may not seem like a lot, but I’ve saved over $200 in the past two months by walking instead to taking public transportation to work! It’s also a great way to be environmentally friendly.

Total: $15

As an intern and student who is fully financially independent, it’s very important to set budget goals and attain them. This week, I spent roughly about $72 on groceries, entertainment, eating out, and transportation! Washington D.C. is not a cheap city; however, with some planning, there are many ways to thoroughly enjoy your time here while you stay within your budget!

About the Author

Lin-hsiu Huang

Lin-hsiu Huang is a passionate student, freelance artist, graphic designer, mentor, undergraduate research fellow, creator, and learner. Lin is originally from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She attended Morehead State University where she sought a dual degree in BFA Art/Design and BS Mathematics. She was an intern during the Spring 2018 semester at The Future of Privacy Forum.

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