Welcome to Money Diaries , where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Ahead of World Teachers' Day tomorrow, October 5, we're looking at one week of spending among five teachers in and outside of the United States.
Teaching isn't an easy profession, but it is a job with a tremendous amount of responsibility, despite being on the lower end of the pay scale — at least in some countries. In the United States, the average yearly salary for K-12 teachers is in the
mid-to-high $40,000 range, and the OECD's 2017 "Education at a Glance" report indicates that pay for secondary teachers in the U.S. (at public institutions) is relatively low when compared to teachers' salaries elsewhere in the world.
As Dick Startz
writes at the Brookings Institute, there are some fringe benefits not calculated in pay, including a certain degree of job security and access to a pension, but that doesn't hold up for everyone.
Earlier this year, CNBC
revealed that "the lowest 10% of high-school teachers earn less than $38,180 and the highest 10% earn more than $92,920." (Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Carolina, and West Virginia paid the least at that level.) And, a recent blockbuster feature in showed what life can be like for many adjunct professors in the U.S., some of whom have turned to sex work or sleeping in their cars to make ends meet.
It's not all doom and gloom, of course. A major reason that many people pursue careers in teaching is because they love it, and they reap personal and societal benefits from educating future generations.
Ahead, we take a look at what that's like for five women in different cities around the world, who teach part-time, full-time, are new to the work, work with children, or work with adults.
Have a money diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following themes:
1. #TransWeek Diarists: In honor of Transgender Awareness Week (Nov. 14-20), we plan to showcase diaries from members of the trans and non-binary communities. Submit your week in money
2. Couple's Diaries: We want to take a closer look at how romantic partners who live together handle their money together — and individually. Whether you're married and live together, are unmarried and live together, or are in any combination of partnership and maintaining a joint household, we want BOTH of you to submit a Money Diary tracking your expenses for one week. We'll publish both diaries in an upcoming Money Diaries Monday story. Submit
3. Diarists With Disabilities: Have examples of how living with a disability impacts your life financially? Simply want to give a glimpse into your life, and how you handle your finances? We want to hear from you! Submit
First up: a fifth-grade teacher who makes $47,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on an oil change, and a campsite to escape Hurricane Irma. Occupation: Fifth-grade teacher Industry: Education Age: 26 Location: Miami, FL Salary: $47,000 Paycheck (2x/month): $1,500 after taxes, union dues, etc. Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $825. I have one roommate. Loans: $0. I received a full scholarship for undergrad and paid for grad school with money my parents saved in a 529 plan. All Other Monthly Expenses Roth IRA Contribution: $500. I also contribute 3% of my salary to the Florida Retirement System, with a 3% match from my school district. The Barre Code Membership: $99 Car Insurance: $72 Utilities: $60 Union Dues: $76 deducted from paycheck Spotify Premium: $9.99 Netflix: $0. I use my Mom's account. Phone: $0. I'm on the family plan. Day One
7:05 a.m. — Hurricane Irma is headed our way, so I stop by Publix on the way to school to stock up on water. Even though the store opened at 7 a.m., there's a line 15 people long to get water from the back storage room. I buy four packs. $11.96 10:45 a.m. — I check my phone during my planning period and see a text from my boyfriend about the hurricane. Apparently, it's now a Category 5 (!) that's projected to make landfall in South Florida. I text my boyfriend back and we agree to talk once my students are dismissed at 2:15 p.m. 11:35 a.m. — I eat my salad from home and obsessively read through hurricane-related news. I get an email from the school district that schools are closed Thursday and Friday due to the hurricane. 2 p.m. — As we dismiss our students, my coworkers and I talk about the storm. Most of them are originally from Florida and experienced Hurricane Andrew, so they're very serious about the potential devastation of Irma. I moved to Florida less than five years ago and have never experienced a major hurricane, so all their advice is welcome. 2:15 p.m. — I call my boyfriend. He tells me that his friends have decided to evacuate and that maybe we should, too. I live right on the water and my boyfriend lives a block away from a large river, so I'm worried about storm surges and flooding. Also, both of our cars are parked at street level and could be destroyed if Irma is as powerful as projected. We discuss the potential locations we could go. Neither of us is from Florida nor has immediate family in the area, so we decide to go to Atlanta and then up to Tennessee to do some camping. We plan on leaving tomorrow afternoon. I put myself in charge of finding accommodations and buying non-perishables for the drive and camping. 3 p.m. — I stop by Home Depot to see if they have flashlights or lanterns. They're completely sold out. I head next to Trader Joe's, where I buy a salad bag, a green bell pepper, protein bars, whole-wheat tortillas, nectarines, hummus, baby carrots, Cowboy Caviar salsa, and gluten-free tortilla chips. I'm tempted to buy all the alcohol, but I abstain. $19.58 5 p.m. — Finally home. I throw a load of laundry into our building's machine and then make a to-do list of all the hurricane-related prep I need to do. I open up a bag of carrots, take out the hummus, and begin planning. $2.25 6:15 p.m. — We have an evacuation plan! We'll leave tomorrow after school, drive to Gainesville, camp out there on Wednesday night, then drive to Atlanta on Thursday morning. I book an Airbnb in Atlanta for Thursday night for $57. I also reserve a campsite at a state park outside of Chattanooga, TN, for Friday and Saturday nights ($35). We have no idea when we'll be able to come back, so I don't book anything else yet. $92 7:15 p.m. — I drive to a hot Pilates class at a yoga studio. I purchased a Groupon for 10 classes at the studio a few months ago. After such a stressful day, I need to unwind with glute bridges. 8:30 p.m. — Home from my workout. I chat with my roommate, who plans to stay with family friends in West Palm Beach. I then go into my bedroom and bathroom to secure all the loose and fragile items. Our windows are hurricane-proof, so I don't know if I really need to do all this preparation, but it puts my mind at ease. I start to prepare food for our drive and gather the non-perishable items. I talk to my mom on the phone. She thinks our evacuation plan sounds good, which is reassuring. (Moms know best.) 9:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I have our nightly phone chat. We go over our evacuation plan and the items we've packed. I go to sleep shortly after talking to him. Daily Total: $125.79 Day Two
8 a.m. — My students are very excited about school being closed for the rest of the week. We track the hurricane online and I field their hurricane-related questions. 10:35 a.m. — I eat oatmeal with peanut butter that I prepared last night and check the news. 2:15 p.m. — I dismiss my students and leave shortly after. As I'm driving to my boyfriend's place, I notice that all the gas stations are out of gas. My tank is half-full, but that doesn't stop me from panicking. 3 p.m. — I arrive at my boyfriend's apartment. He's secured all his items away from the windows and consolidated all large furniture into his bedroom. We talk about my gas situation and check out the roads using Google Maps. After careful deliberation, we decide to change our plans and leave tomorrow morning at 3:30 a.m. instead. We'll spend tonight getting gas and other food supplies that we need for camping in Chattanooga. 6 p.m. — We venture out to Publix to get food. My boyfriend has a large cooler, so we buy grapes, carrots, Oreos, bananas, pita chips, bottled iced coffee, and a 10-pound bag of ice. I want to put all hurricane-related expenses on my card so I can track how much we've spent. My boyfriend will Venmo his share once this ordeal is over. $30.75 7 p.m. — We find gas! I fill up my tank and breathe a sigh of relief. $20.24 8:30 p.m. — Everything is packed and ready to go for tomorrow! We drink LaCroix and pass out early. Daily Total: $50.99 Day Three
3:30 a.m. — I can't believe we're awake this early. The situation suddenly feels much more real. We pack up the car and head over to a parking garage downtown where my boyfriend will leave his car for the next few days. 4:30 a.m. — We're on the road! So far, traffic is light. 8:30 a.m. — We stop to get gas in Kissimmee, right outside of Orlando. I buy a coffee for myself and a Red Bull for my boyfriend. $21.27 11:30 a.m. — Traffic is terrible. There are multiple accidents on I-75 N, so we take the back roads through Ocala National Forest. It's a beautiful drive. 12:30 a.m. — We get gas in a tiny town north of Gainesville. Traffic is still very heavy. $13.37 5:30 p.m. — We're finally in Georgia and about two hours away from Atlanta. We stop to (you guessed it) get gas. $21.24 8:45 p.m. — After 17 hours of driving, we're finally in Atlanta! Our Airbnb is adorable and exactly what we needed after the long drive. We unpack the car and settle in. My boyfriend happily catches the rest of the Patriots game while I crawl into bed. Daily Total: $55.88 Day Four
9:30 a.m. — We head over to the nearby Trader Joe's to stock up on spinach, nectarines, eggs, hummus, bread, and some other items. $17.48 10:30 a.m. — My boyfriend makes us a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs with spinach, onions, and the Cowboy Caviar. I brew a pot of coffee and we plan our day over breakfast. 11:30 a.m. — We check out of the Airbnb and head over to the MLK National Historic Site. We find free street parking and walk around, paying our respects at Ebenezer Baptist Church and the tombs of Dr. King and Coretta Scott King. 12:15 p.m. — We walk along the BeltLine to Ponce City Market, where we check out the shops and food hall. I buy a medium coffee. $3.27 1:30 p.m. — My boyfriend suggests we go to Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q for lunch. It turns out they're offering a 25% discount for Hurricane Irma evacuees, so we decide to indulge! My boyfriend gets the brisket sandwich with sides of Frito pie and mac 'n' cheese, and a beer; I get the vegetarian mushroom sandwich with a side of jalapeño cornbread. We split the pecan pie for dessert. $39.61 3:30 p.m. — We head over to SweetWater Brewery, but find out the taproom doesn't open until 4:20 p.m. We make the decision not to wait and instead continue driving up to Chattanooga, since we need to get there before dark to set up our tent. 4:45 p.m. — It's been an emotional hour. After driving north and stopping to get coffee at Starbucks (my boyfriend pays with a gift card), we make the decision to abandon our plan to go to Chattanooga. Hurricane Irma has shifted direction and is projected to head toward Georgia and Tennessee, and we don't want to put ourselves in harm's way. I call my mom in a panic, and she offers to reach out to her cousin, a.k.a. my second cousin, who lives in South Carolina. A few minutes later, she calls me back and says that they're happy to host us. She sends me their phone number and I give them a call. 5 p.m. — We're on our way to South Carolina! I was very nervous calling my second cousin, whom I only met when I was a toddler, but he and his wife were so friendly and told us to come on over. It's about a three-hour drive from Atlanta to Greenville. My boyfriend and I hunker down for more driving. 8:45 p.m. — We've made it! My cousin and his wife welcome us with wine and beer. They are truly the best. We chat for about an hour and then my boyfriend and I head off to bed. Daily Total: $60.36 Day Five
10 a.m. — My cousin and his wife have set out a breakfast spread for us! I'm so happy I could cry. They recommend we check out Asheville, NC, since it's only an hour-and-a-half away. After eating breakfast and chatting with them, we hit the road. 12 p.m. — Asheville is adorable! We stop by a coffee shop to pick up drinks and are given free samples of tiramisu. Today is going to be a good day. $7.76 1:30 p.m. — After checking out downtown Asheville and swooning over all the camping gear at Mast General Store, we head over to Wicked Weed Brewing. My boyfriend and I each have two beers and try our best not to talk about the hurricane. There are other evacuees at the table next to us, though, so our ban on hurricane talk doesn't last long. $23.75 3:30 p.m. — We pay for parking in Asheville. We decided to drive home along the Blue Ridge Highway to get in our mountain fix. $2.50 5:30 p.m. — We pull off the highway to check out Skinny Dip Falls. It's insanely pretty! We walk around for a little while and then head back to the car. 8:30 p.m. — Back at my cousins' house; they left lasagna for us! I am so overcome by their kindness and generosity. We watch the USC football game with them for a little while before going to bed. Daily Total: $34.01 Day Six
9 a.m. — My boyfriend gets up early to take a practice LSAT. He's taking the actual LSAT in a week, and I know this evacuation has been stressing him out. I sit on the porch and eat breakfast with my cousins' wife. We watch the news and see that the Keys are being hit hard by Irma, and the rest of Miami is starting to feel the outer bands. I pray for my city. 12 p.m. — My boyfriend is done with his practice test. We eat lunch with my cousin and his wife, who made corn on the cob and burgers. We offered to help, but of course they said no. I seriously can't get over how amazing my relatives (and the food!) are. 1:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I head to downtown Greenville to explore. We walk across the Liberty Bridge at Falls Park and admire the scenery. I drag him into Southern Fried Cotton and buy a Greenville T-shirt to commemorate our visit. $15.90 2 p.m. — We look for the Mice on Main, which are tiny, bronze mice hidden all over Main Street. We find a few and then decide to head to a Belgian restaurant and bar for brews. $22 4 p.m. — We pay for parking and head on back to my cousins' place. $2.50 7 p.m. — We wake up from a nap and help my relatives finish up dinner. They've made baked potatoes, pork chops, and a salad. We watch 10 Cloverfield Lane after dinner and then head off to bed. Daily Total: $40.40 Day Seven
9:30 a.m. — We watch more hurricane coverage as we eat breakfast. It's a dreary, rainy day. My cousin tells me that the local gym has free entry for Hurricane Irma evacuees, so we decide to head there after breakfast. We also decide to try heading back to South Florida tomorrow. 11 a.m. — It feels so good to exercise after all this driving and stress! I run on the treadmill while my boyfriend lifts. At the gym, I get a text from my roommate, who has returned to our apartment. She says there's no damage and that we have electricity. Hallelujah! 12 p.m. — I've stupidly put off getting my oil changed for over a month, so we decide to find a place in the area to get it done before we drive back tomorrow. The Firestone we stop at is booked all day, so we go to an express oil-change place a few minutes away. This is way more than I'd ever spend, but it only took 10 minutes and I was desperate. $41.46 12:30 p.m. — We stop by Publix to get a thank you gift for my cousins. We offered to take them out to dinner, but they said they wanted to avoid the bad weather and order in pizza instead. We get them a nice bottle of Chardonnay and a 12-pack of Bud Light (my cousin's favorite beer). I also pick out a cute, sunshine-themed thank you card that seemed pretty appropriate for the circumstances. We buy more ice for our cooler. $28.67 1:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I are starving. We head to a local BBQ place I found on Yelp. My boyfriend gets the brisket platter with mac 'n' cheese. I get two sides: sweet-potato casserole and mac 'n' cheese. $16.48 2:30 p.m. — We're exhausted and decide to take a nap before dinner. 6 p.m. — Eek! We were asleep for so long! My cousins told me they wanted to eat earlier and would leave pizza in the oven for us, so we grab our slices and sit down with them. We all decide to watch Django Unchained and eat ice cream for dessert. 8 p.m. — We say our goodbyes and thank yous to my cousins, since we're leaving at 3 a.m. tomorrow. My cousin insists that we take one of the leftover pizzas; she is seriously the most generous person I've ever met. Daily Total: $86.61
Next: a teacher who makes $59,999 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on prenatal yoga and prenatal first aid classes. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar. Occupation: Teacher Industry: Education Age: 30 Location: London, U.K. Salary: $59,999 Paycheck (Monthly): $3,393 Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $1155 Loan Payments: $0 All Other Monthly Expenses Utilities: $117.50 for my share. ($96 for electricity and gas, $49 for TV and internet, and $90 for council tax, split with my husband.) Health Insurance: $0, as it's covered by work Cell Phone: $24.50 for my share ($49 for me and my husband) Transportation: Roughly $140 on gas. (I generally only use the car for my commute to work, so this should go way down when I begin my maternity leave.) Cleaner: $19.25/week for my share ($38.50/week, split with my husband) Netflix: $10 Spotify: $13 Pure Barre On Demand: $16 Savings: I generally try to put around $600 into savings each month. I also pay 5% of my pre-tax salary into a pension, which is matched by work. We're trying to save as much as possible before I start my maternity leave, but we also have a lot of getting-ready-for-baby expenses at the moment. Day One
8:55 a.m. — I wake up just before my alarm, which was set for 9 a.m. I'm usually an early riser and can't sleep in much past 8 a.m., but I've found that pregnancy means I can sleep a lot later if I let myself. (Must be all of those middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks.) I eat two rice cakes with peanut butter and drink two glasses of water before heading out for a haircut. I haven't had one in almost five months, which is longer than I usually leave it, and decide to go a bit shorter than normal. Still not sure how I feel about it... $65 10:30 a.m. — I stop by my favorite coffee shop on the way home and pick up a latte for my husband and a cinnamon bun for myself. When I get home, I make myself a decaf tea to enjoy with my bun, and chat with my husband before he does some work. $7.13 11:50 a.m. — Our weekly groceries are delivered. We get onions, carrots, apples, cereal, whole-wheat pasta, rice cakes, pumpkin puree (I'm ready for fall!), quinoa, peanut butter, toothpaste, cheese, salmon, minced beef, broccoli, Greek yogurt, lettuce, tomatoes, pesto, milk, and Amy's Rice Mac & Cheese. The total comes to $96.02, which seems like a lot. I'm hoping to cut down on our weekly food spending over the next few months, but it's tough with my appetite/laziness. My husband pays for these weekly deliveries as he makes more than I do, and I usually supplement with midweek shops when necessary. 12:30 p.m. — I ordered a bunch of maternity clothes from Gap earlier in the week, and finally get around to trying them on. I dislike most of it, so I pack it up and walk to the shop to return things. I end up getting $128.07 refunded to my card, which feels great. As I leave the mall, I wander into a couple of baby stores and am seriously tempted by cute clothes, but resist. I then pop into Marks & Spencer, which I should never do when hungry. I end up buying mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce, tortilla chips, and salted caramel popcorn. If you didn't know I was pregnant, now you do. $9.46 1:30 p.m. — I cook the mozzarella sticks for lunch along with green beans, and enjoy it while watching property shows on TV. I am addicted to HGTV, but unfortunately can't get it here in London. Probably for the best. 2:30 p.m. — My husband asks if I want to go for a walk to enjoy the good weather, so we head out toward the river. We end up walking much further than I anticipated and don't get home until 4:15 p.m. I'm completely exhausted, so I send my husband out for Sprite; it's the only thing that sounds refreshing. He surprises me by coming back with a Magnum ice cream bar, as well! I drink and eat in front of the fan. 8 p.m. — Dinner with my husband in front of the TV. This is a habit I hope to break when the baby comes. I definitely watch way too much TV and know I need to cut down. I have a salad and Amy's Mac & Cheese for dinner. Our apartment is so hot and I'm dying. We continue watching TV until 11:15 p.m., when we head to bed. Daily Total: $81.59 Day Two
9:30 a.m. — It's a bank holiday, so no work! My alarm goes off at 9:30 a.m. and I'm impressed that I managed to sleep this long. I doze in bed for another half an hour before showering and getting ready for brunch with my best friend. I do a quick clean of the apartment as my friend is coming to see it for the first time. (We moved about a month ago.) 11:30 a.m. — I wasn't planning on eating before brunch but can't last, so I have a bowl of Bran Flakes with milk. 12:30 p.m. — My friend and I walk to a local place that I've been meaning to try for ages. I apprehensively order huevos rancheros. Coming from L.A., I'm very particular about my Mexican food and struggle to find impressive options in London. I also order a giant bottle of cold sparkling water. The food is actually great, and I tell myself to return soon. My friend and I spend two hours catching up and looking at nursery furniture on Pinterest. $16.84 2:45 p.m. — I get home and lie in bed in front of the fan. It's so hot again! I eat some ice cream and watch Gilmore Girls, my comfort show. 5:20 p.m. — I drag myself out of bed to do some meal prep for the week. I am the laziest cook, so I try to prep fruit and vegetables over the weekend to encourage myself to cook healthier meals after work. I peel and chop carrots, cut up broccoli and strawberries, and organize ingredients for dinner. 6:30 p.m. — Do some nursery-furniture shopping online. I can't tell if I'm nesting or avoiding other responsibilities. I email a seller on eBay to ask if I can see a rocking chair in person. For some reason, I'm very particular about this purchase and haven't been able to find anything that I like. I also check Etsy and see a picture of the trunk coffee table we ordered a few weeks ago. I love it! 7 p.m. — I've been debating whether or not to buy a maternity top for weeks; it's expensive and feels extravagant. However, I decide that after yesterday's Gap returns I can afford it, and it's a top that I can wear long after the baby comes. I bite the bullet and order. I manage to get 15% off, which makes me feel a little bit better. $71.58 7:15 p.m. — I start cooking dinner — salmon, broccoli, and quinoa with a spicy sesame sauce. It's delicious and one of our favorite meals. I make enough to have leftovers for the week. 8:30 p.m. — My husband and I have dessert (chocolate orange for him, chocolate chips for me) and tea while watching the first episode of The Cuckoo's Calling on BBC. We loved the book and are pumped about this. It's good, although we're not convinced they cast the right guy to play Cormoran. 10 p.m. — It is still SO hot in our apartment. We get into bed and I complain about the heat for 10 minutes. My husband is a saint and gives me a back rub to help me calm down. We watch a movie until we fall asleep. Daily Total: $88.42 Day Three
5:30 a.m. — I wake up for my normal weekday routine: brush teeth, work out, shower, get ready, eat breakfast. This morning, I do a 20-minute HIIT video from The Body Coach. All of his workouts are free on YouTube, and I usually do three a week. I have Greek yogurt and strawberries for breakfast and chug three glasses of water. I've noticed I feel much more dehydrated since getting pregnant, so I'm always conscious of how much water I'm drinking. As I'm getting ready, I notice that I'm almost out of moisturizer. I quickly head to Boots.com to buy a couple more bottles. $24.52 7:30 a.m. — I get to work and immediately make tea and fill up my water bottle. I allow myself one caffeinated tea a day when I'm working, and I treasure it. I head back to my desk and catch up on emails while drinking my tea. 10 a.m. — Back at my desk after a busy morning of meetings and work with kids. I used to be a classroom teacher, but two years ago, I started a new role as the Challenge & Enrichment coordinator for the entire lower school. My time is now split between working with kids and helping teachers plan and deliver more challenging lessons. I'm starving but have a group of kids coming in five minutes, so I quickly eat two chocolate-covered rice cakes. 11:50 a.m. — After enjoying a glorious recess duty in the sun, I get back to my room and snack on pistachios. 12:45 p.m. — I eat leftover salmon, broccoli, and quinoa at my desk. I also have an apple and nibble on some chocolate chips. I keep a little bag in my desk and they're great for snacking on when I'm craving something sweet. 3:30 p.m. — I tutor a third-grade student after school. I worked with her last year and am excited to start again after the summer holiday. She's a real sweetheart and loves math, so we get to play a lot of fun games. Her mom gives me $50 in cash when she picks her up. The extra money is great; I try to tutor three times a week during the year, and the supplemental income is super-helpful. 5:30 p.m. — I get home from work and am, of course, hungry again. I snack on tortilla chips and a chocolate chip cookie my husband bought me over the weekend. 6:30 p.m. — I start making dinner. I had planned to make a salad, but just don't have it in me. Instead, I cook whole-wheat pasta and mix it with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto. It's good, but I'm full from my snacking and don't eat a lot of it. 7:30 p.m. — Eat a Magnum bar. My husband comes home and we chat while he eats dinner. We rarely eat at the same time during the week because our schedules are so different, but I try to sit with him when I can. 9:45 p.m. — I get into bed and read What to Expect When You're Expecting. I'm a few months behind, so I don't find the information that helpful or enlightening. I put it down and pick up Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. It's just not doing it for me tonight. I read one chapter and then give up. My saintly husband comes in to give me another back rub, and then I fall asleep. Daily Total: $24.52 Day Four
7:30 a.m. — I have the morning off because of a doctor's appointment. One of the great things about living and working in the U.K. is the fact that I'm allowed to take paid time off for all of my antenatal appointments (including antenatal classes), and it doesn't count as sick leave. I set my alarm for 8 a.m., but am up at 7:30 a.m. I refuse to take off my eye mask and pretend to keep sleeping until my alarm goes off. I wake up and do a 30-minute Pure Barre workout, then get ready and have strawberries with Greek yogurt for breakfast. 10 a.m. — I walk to my local salon for a wax. I love the place I go and they always make me feel comfortable and relaxed. The woman who does it ends up charging me less because it didn't take much time at all. She also tells me I'm well on my way to earning a free massage. Just knowing I have that in the future makes me excited. $34.85 10:40 a.m. — I walk home and have breakfast number two: Bran Flakes with milk. I've been trying to figure out a changing-table system for the nursery (we have a built-in dresser, but need something to go on top of it), and have settled on a woven basket. I find two online that are almost identical and I can't decide between them, so I order them both and will return one. $141.96 11 a.m. — Still have some time to kill before my doctor's appointment, so I lie in bed and finish Hillbilly Elegy. I enjoy it, but I'm not sure it gives me a ton of insight into the minds of Trump and Brexit supporters, as it claimed on the cover. Head to my appointment at 11:40 a.m. 1 p.m. — Stop for gas on the way to work. I bought a new (used) car in February and am so happy with the mileage I get these days. This is the first time I've filled up in a month! $59.59 1:30 p.m. — Get to work and have lunch, leftover pasta from the night before. I eat at my desk, as usual, but have a group of kids working in my room with another teacher, so it's not the most relaxing lunch in the world. I spend the time prepping for meetings later in the day. 6:30 p.m. — I get home and start making dinner. The weather has completely changed; the temperature has dropped and it's raining, so I make tomato soup with brown rice and parmesan. It's delicious and so comforting. Later, I have frozen yogurt and watch more property shows. We somehow ended up with more TV channels when we moved, and I'm now able to watch a real HGTV show on my U.K. television. Thrilling! 9:15 p.m. — I get into bed and start reading Small Great Things. My husband comes in for my nightly back rub around 9:45 p.m., and stays with me until I fall asleep. Daily Total: $236.40 Day Five
5:30 a.m. — I do a FitSugar workout this morning. This one is a collaboration with the Blogilates woman, and it's great. I'm sore from yesterday's workout, which is always a nice surprise, but the moves today stretch me out nicely. Bran Flakes and milk for breakfast. I watch Gilmore Girls while I get ready. 7:45 a.m. — Get to work a bit late and rush to make my tea before the day begins. I was meant to cover for a fourth-grade teacher this afternoon, but she comes in to tell me I no longer have to. A nice surprise, and it means I can attend a math-curriculum meeting with the middle school team. 9 a.m. — Spend more time than I should looking at rocking-chair options for the nursery. Send pictures and links to a few friends to get their opinions. I don't know why I'm finding this so hard... 10 a.m. — I start reading updates about what's going on in Houston and think about all the students I've had who lived there or are there now. (Because I work in an international school, we get a lot of oil families, so there's a huge population from that area of the world.) I donate $10 to the United Way of Greater Houston and another $10 to the Houston Food Bank. It's not much, but at least I feel like I'm doing something. I also research NaNoWriMo, a writing challenge for young authors. Seems like a great option for some of our kids, but doesn't really begin until after I go on maternity leave. Will have to discuss this more with teachers. Snack on pistachios and chocolate-covered rice cakes. $20 12:45 p.m. — Head to recess duty after grade-level meetings. I'm starving, so I bring an apple. It was pouring rain minutes before my duty began, but the sun came out for us and it was actually lovely. Trying to enjoy the good weather while it lasts. Winter is long (and gray, and wet, and miserable) in London. 1:20 p.m. — Have a working lunch at my desk (again). Leftover pasta and chocolate chips (again). 3:30 p.m. — I tutor another student after school. We also focus on math, but this student is still learning English, so we focus mainly on mathematical language. He's the cutest kid in the world and we have a lot of fun playing new logic games and working with "manipulatives" to build numbers and describe place value. Snack on carrots while we work. His dad pays me $38 but should have paid $50, so I email him to ask for the extra money. He apologizes and says he'll bring it tomorrow. 6 p.m. — Get home and rest for a bit, then go to the kitchen to start making dinner. I was planning on making meatballs with tomato sauce, but I realize I'm missing a bunch of key ingredients. The meat will go bad, so I throw it into the freezer and save it for another day. Leftover soup it is. My changing baskets have arrived, so I open the package and try them out in the nursery. I think I've picked a favorite, but decide to wait for my husband to get home to get his opinion. 6:30 p.m. — Heat up the leftover soup and watch TV. Treat myself to more frozen yogurt. I'm the laziest on Thursday nights. My husband gets home and agrees with my basket choice, so I wrap up the spare and prepare to ship it back to the store tomorrow. 9:30 p.m. — Get into bed and continue reading Small Great Things. Not entirely sure this is the best choice for a pregnant woman, but I'm enjoying it all the same. Back rub, then sleep. Daily Total: $20 Day Six
5:30 a.m. — It's Friday! I bounce out of bed a little more easily knowing it's the last early start of the week. I do another Body Coach workout, cardio and resistance training. It was a new one for me, and it was great! I eat Bran Flakes with my Greek yogurt because the blueberries I planned on eating have mysteriously disappeared. (I'm looking at you, husband.) Watch Gilmore Girls while I get ready, and listen to the Gilmore Guys podcast on my way to work. (It's an obsession, and I recognize that I have a problem.) 10 a.m. — After a busy morning of parent meetings and whole-school activities with the kids, I spend a bit of time researching birth classes. I keep hearing good things about hypnobirthing and am interested, but we worry it's a bit too hippy-dippy for us. I make a few phone calls but don't commit to anything yet. 10:30 a.m. — I snack on almonds and chocolate-covered rice cakes. I search for new recipe inspiration for next week and then place our online grocery order, which will come on Sunday. I buy chicken, carrots, apples, black beans, passata, chocolate chips, chocolate-covered rice cakes, quinoa, almonds, whole-wheat tortillas, sparkling water, salmon, parmesan, Greek yogurt, broccoli, cheddar, milk, and ice cream. The total comes to $97.26, but my husband pays. I'm so bad at budgeting for food. I also have to order enchilada sauce from a specialty website. I end up getting a couple of cans of Ro-tel diced tomatoes, green chilies, and microwave popcorn, along with red and green enchilada sauce. I spend the extra $2 for express shipping because I want to make the enchiladas on Sunday...and I really want that popcorn. I spend $26.10, which horrifies me. Being an expat with cravings is expensive. $26.10 1:10 p.m. — I eat the last of my salmon leftovers and an apple for lunch after a terrible lunch duty with the third graders. It's always hard to set up routines and expectations at the beginning of the year, but I find it particularly difficult now that I'm not a classroom teacher. I end up having to email a few parents about student behaviors during lunch, which is never fun. 2 p.m. — Is the day over yet?! I snack on chocolate chips to get me through. 3:30 p.m. — The father of the student I tutored yesterday stops by to give me the money he owed, which is great. I order some last-minute supplies from Amazon. Normally, I order things through my school's account, but for some reason they don't have Prime and it takes longer than it should for items to arrive. I need these supplies for Monday, so I order them using my personal Amazon account. I order five copies of Holes and project folders. The total comes to $32.82. I'll be reimbursed from petty cash...eventually. I also book my first pregnancy yoga class and a pediatric first aid course for me and my husband, but don't have to pay for those right now. 4:30 p.m. — After work, I drive to the post office to ship back the changing basket. I end up having to buy a pack of labels, but it's not too expensive ($1.92 for 12). I pay extra for tracked shipping since I want to be 100% sure I get the money back. Shipping costs $14.20. I then stop by Boots and pick up the moisturizer I ordered earlier in the week. While I'm there, I realize I'm out of dry shampoo and grab a big bottle ($6.44). I'm suddenly starving, so I pop into M&S on the way home and buy tortilla chips, cheese puffs, caramel waffles, ice cream bars, strawberries, and blueberries ($14.45). This is why I should never enter a grocery store on an empty stomach. $37.01 7:45 p.m. — My husband calls as he's leaving work and says he wants Thai food for dinner. Works for me! I place the order and we eat together when he gets home. He agrees to watch Buying & Selling with me while we eat, which never happens (his hate of property shows is intense) and is so nice! We switch to the latest episode of Cuckoo's Calling for dessert. I have decaf tea and two caramel waffles. $43.04 10:45 p.m. — Into bed — exhausted after a long week! Daily Total: $106.15 Day Seven
8:30 a.m. — So happy it's the weekend. I get up at 8:30 a.m. and clean the apartment before eating strawberries with Greek yogurt for breakfast. 9:45 a.m. — I head to my prenatal yoga class; it's amazing! I was a little bit apprehensive about this, but the class is so relaxing, the instructor is really supportive and helpful, and the other women are friendly. It's just nice being around a bunch of pregnant women. None of my friends have ever been pregnant, so it's reassuring to be around people who are experiencing the same crazy things that I am. (Seriously, my dreams? So bizarre.) I end up making a friend who's just moved to London from Vancouver and lives right around the corner from me. I'm excited! $21.94 12 p.m. — I get a pedicure after yoga (it's much harder to reach my toes these days) and then go to the bank to deposit my tutoring money from the week. $30.97 1:30 p.m. — I'm back home and completely famished. I have a couple of handfuls of Bran Flakes before heating up an Amy's Mac & Cheese and watching TV. 4:30 p.m. — I wake up from a nap. I was most definitely not a napper before getting pregnant, but now I find myself falling asleep all the time. It's great, but I also wake up feeling lethargic. I snack on tortilla chips and have an ice cream bar to perk up. 7:15 p.m. — I pay for the pediatric first aid course. It ends up being less than I'd expected, which is a nice surprise! Still, it's a lot of money. At this point, being pregnant just makes me feel like one of the GIFs in which people are throwing money into the air, specifically this one. $174.23 8 p.m. — My husband and I drive to the movie theater to see Detroit. He was meant to buy tickets earlier in the day and forgot, but assured me there was no chance it would sell out. Of course, we get there and it's sold out. I'm not impressed. We drive home, and my husband picks up a pizza for dinner. We end up watching The Light Between Oceans on Amazon Prime and it's phenomenal. We finally get to bed around 11:30 p.m. Daily Total: $227.14
Third: a part-time library assistant who makes $35,000 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on whitening charcoal toothpaste and the book You Are a Badass At Making Money . Occupation: Part-time library assistant and part-time assistant preschool teacher Industry: Libraries and education Age: 26 Location: Portland, OR Salary: $35,000 combined Paycheck (Once Per Month): $2,000 combined, after taxes and medical, dental, and vision Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $625. I lived alone the past few years in California, but I knew I wanted to have a roommate for my first year in Portland just to cut costs. My roommate moved from California at the same time and we split the $1,250 rent evenly, which includes water, trash, and sewer. Loan Payments: $0 student loans, thanks to an amazing scholarship that has paid for my bachelor's, master's, and soon-to-be PhD. All Other Monthly Expenses Health, Dental & Vision: $465 out of my library paycheck since I work part-time and my teaching job doesn't include benefits. Car Payment: $181 Car Insurance: $242. (But I'm paying one lump sum for six months.) Netflix: $9.99. I canceled my Hulu account last month to save some money. HBO Now: $14.99. (About 10 people use my account.) Amazon Prime: $11.67 Spotify: $9.99 Gym Membership: $10 Cell Phone: $27 (family plan) Dollar Shave Club: $7. These are the best and cheapest razor cartridges, and they're delivered in the mail once a month. Gas: $100 Day One
7 a.m. — I wake up to a text from my dad saying thank you for the birthday gift my sister and I got him (his birthday was yesterday and it was the first birthday I have not been there to celebrate with him), and my mom reminding me it's Eclipse Day! Portland is not in the path of totality, but the library I work at is just about. Since I don't start until late today, I decide to do a load of laundry. I eat two gluten-free waffles and watch the documentary Carb-Loaded while getting ready for work at my library job. I can feel the irony. 10:30 a.m. — I leave for work early, just as the moon is covering the sun. It's eerily dark out at 10 in the morning as I watch the eclipse with my special glasses on my way to my car. What a cool experience — so is skipping all traffic going the opposite way. Thankfully, I am going south and everyone is traveling north. 11:15 a.m. — I get to the coffee shop near work and grab an iced coffee while I schedule a dentist appointment. I also continue researching PhD programs, one of which I'll hopefully be starting next fall. I have an incredible scholarship that has paid for all of my schooling so far, and will continue to fund my PhD program. I have never been so grateful for anything in my entire life. $2.50 3:30 p.m. — Work is slow today. Back in California, I was a librarian — and I have worked in libraries for the past five years — but when I moved, I had to take a step down in order to find any job. (I already have my master's in the field, but I need more experience.) I help a deaf man before my break. This is my first experience with him and it is very interesting communicating with him. He is super-nice and when he leaves I feel good about helping him. Later, a coworker tells me that he is a regular and to keep an eye out. 4 p.m. — It's my lunch break now since I started late today. I eat leftover Thai food from eating with my sister yesterday. Pineapple fried rice is my favorite, but it doesn't taste as good as when it's fresh. 9 p.m. — Home from work, I catch up on my to-do list and eat cheese puffs and peanut-butter balls for dinner. Super healthy, I know, but I'm tired and stressed out. I order a small bottle of Brain Octane Oil on Amazon Prime after not having taken it in so long. $6.95 10:30 p.m. — Watch The Office and go to sleep early since I have to be up early the rest of the week. I toss and turn, yet don't hear my roommate come home. Daily Total: $9.45 Day Two
6:30 a.m. — I'm up early for my preschool job that starts at 8 a.m. Fitbit says I woke up 18 times and it feels like it. I have had terrible insomnia my whole life, so it's nothing new. I pour iced coffee in my tumbler because we can't have anything hot at the school, and head out the door. I work at both jobs today, so it's gonna be a long day. 11 a.m. — A child in the class I'm subbing in throws up all over the classroom. After the whole ordeal, I notice my middle finger is purple and inflamed. The director's assistant gives me a popsicle to ice it and I eat a protein bar while the swelling goes down. It feels broken, and I have no memory of hitting it. Wow, I really must be tired! 2:15 p.m. — I'm off at the preschool and head to my library job. I snack on cashews during my 45-minute drive and finish the Option B audiobook. It's really good, but super-sad. I belong to three (soon to be four) library systems and they all subscribe to a free audiobook service as long as you have a library card. Audiobooks have saved me because of how much I drive; almost every book I want to read belongs to some library for me to listen to. Get a library card, people! When I get to job No. 2, I end up making and drinking two cups of coffee because I'm exhausted. 5 p.m. — Break time. I eat a protein bar and drink a Vega shake before going to help a patron who needs help uploading her résumé to a job site. Part of my job here is teaching digital literacy skills to people of all ages. 9 p.m. — Finally home. I shower and settle down to watch Bachelor In Paradise on Hulu while I get ready for work tomorrow. The show is absolute trash but it is so entertaining, and both my mom and sister watch it, too. I also whip up a quesadilla on corn tortillas with salsa for dinner. I don't remember the last time I had a quesadilla. 10:30 p.m. — Lights out after my 13-hour day. I am super-excited I didn't spend any money today! That rarely happens. I spend a lot, but I can also be good with saving my money. Daily Total: $0 Day Three
6:30 a.m. — I didn't sleep well, but I am excited that I get to take over the new literacy program at the preschool today. I pour iced coffee and head out the door listening to a new audiobook, The Gift of Fear. I am terrified of things happening beyond my control, so I want to learn how to pay more attention to signs and my intuition. The first chapter already scares me, but it's super-interesting. 10 a.m. — Break time. I snack on a protein bar and a ton of water. Today already feels like a long day. 1 p.m. — Lunch break. I decide to go to the Starbucks next to work for an iced coffee. My sister comes to chat before we both have to go back to work. After lunch, I end up teaching three phonics classes. Kids are hilarious and I have come to learn that half of what they say will not make sense to me. $2.50 6 p.m. — Home! I am supposed to work out but I have no energy after running around with the kids all day. (I actually did laps with them during outside time.) I make another quesadilla with salsa and take a quick shower. 7:30 p.m. — I prepare for an interview tomorrow that I have during my lunch break; it's an on-call position at a library near the preschool where I work. That would make three jobs, but since this one is on-call, it's more like 2.5 jobs! I answer some emails and write a check for my car insurance. I normally pay monthly, but I only moved to the area a little over a month ago and I had to find a new agent. Car insurance rates are insane in Portland because of the number of people moving here and the crazy weather. My rate is also much higher than I anticipated because I have three more months to go until an accident is off my record. Ugh! I bite the bullet and write $1,434 on a check. In six months, I'll have to do it again. 10:30 p.m. — I settle down to watch the second night of Bachelor in Paradise and fall asleep in the middle of it. Daily Total: $2.50 Day Four
6 a.m. — Have to be at work 30 minutes early today, so I pop right out of bed and do jumping jacks to wake up. It sort of works. 10 a.m. — I spend my morning teaching three more literacy classes that go well and the vibe at the preschool is much better today. 12 p.m. — I leave work for my interview, practically shoving a protein bar in my mouth and downing water. The interview is oddly short, but I think it goes well. I interviewed for a different on-call position at this same library two weeks ago and didn't get it. But I think this position fits me and my experience better. I should hear back next week! 1 p.m. — I get to be in the baby room for two hours! This is my favorite room because all the babies are so cute, and they can't talk back to you and hurt your feelings. Hurray for little humans! 5:30 p.m. — Off work! It's my last day at the preschool for the week, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief. It's a fun job and the experience is great, but it is the hardest job I have ever had — and it does not pay enough. I decide to head straight to Whole Foods from work. I buy cotton candy grapes (first time ever!), organic coffee creamer, almond milk yogurt, corn tortillas, grain-free tortilla chips, protein bars, gluten-free blueberry breakfast bars, chocolate, ice cream, pineapple-orange juice (I feel like I'm getting sick from being around children all day), and vegetable juice. My sister's boyfriend works here and is in charge of the front end. I usually see him here, but I don't today. $50.41 8:30 p.m. — I eat another quesadilla with salsa and kombucha. I rarely eat cheese but it's all I want this week. I watch a documentary on the Peoples Temple because I am obsessed with the idea of mass suicide and how people can go along with something that extreme. I drift in and out of sleep, but manage to finish it. So good. 11 p.m. — I wake up to loud bass music coming from my problem neighbor's room. He seems to do this most nights around 11 p.m. I have already gone to my landlord twice with no luck. I look at my phone and read a text from my roommate that her boyfriend is in town and staying with us this weekend starting tonight. Coincidentally, one of the kids at the preschool looks like a mini-version of him and I think it is just so weird. Daily Total: $50.41 Day Five
8 a.m. — I wake up later since I start later at the library. Yay! I walk into the kitchen to find my roommate's boyfriend making breakfast. We chat about the noise last night from the neighbor and then I get ready for work. I make myself a huge cup of iced coffee and snack on grapes. 10 a.m. — Get to work, where it is very busy all morning. I have a productive morning cataloging new library items and helping people find what they need. I absolutely love that everyone assumes librarians and library staff know everything. We don't, but we do know how to find the answers you need! 3 p.m. — Off work and head to meet a friend for coffee who moved here three weeks after I did. We've been meeting at a new coffee shop every Friday to get to know the area better and talk about life. She's engaged to a guy who is originally from here, but she's having a hard time adjusting because she loved California so much. I did not love California for many different reasons, but I left because of bad memories and failed friendships. It's hard seeing my friend less happy than I know she wants to be. I order a cold brew and a gluten-free chocolate muffin. The place is cute and I make a mental note to come back here. ($7.50 + $1 tip) $8.50 5:30 p.m. — I stay at the coffee shop to continue working on my PhD applications after my friend leaves to pick up her fiancé from work. Parking downtown is a nightmare, which is why she drives him. I also catch up on emails and decide to make an appointment at my bank to ask financial questions. I am good with money, but I feel like I don't have basic knowledge that I should have, like how much money to keep in savings versus checking. Where do you learn this? 8 p.m. — Get home, make another quesadilla with salsa for dinner, and chat with my roommate and her boyfriend before they head out to dinner. I also buy a three-pack of my favorite deodorant (they don't sell the kind I like in stores anymore), a pack of small notebooks, and whitening charcoal toothpaste I heard was awesome for whitening teeth. Damn you, Amazon Prime! $29.62 10 p.m. — I finish the newest MasterChef episode and toss and turn all night. Daily Total: $38.12 Day Six
6:30 a.m. — Wake up before my alarm because I didn't sleep at all thanks to the cold brew I drank too late in the day yesterday. I get dressed for my library job and throw a frozen chicken tamale, cotton candy grapes, and a bottle of creamer for my coffee at work into my lunch pail and head out. 8:45 a.m. — Before I even have a chance to make a cup of coffee, my boss tells me we are going to do training before the library opens. I'm so tired! But I learn new things and spend about $1,000 of my collection budget on DVDs and nonfiction books for the library. I love spending money for the library! 12 p.m. — I have an earlier lunch today and eat my tamale and grapes. I make coffee in the work Keurig as well, and then sit outside for the rest of my break. It's been really hot in Oregon these past few weeks. I can't wait for the cold weather I moved here for! Even with the heat, it's nice to be outside. Everyone in the town I work in is super-nice. When I flew down to interview a few months ago, I sat on the same bench. Everyone that walked by smiled and greeted me, and it is one of the reasons I decided to take the job and move. 5:30 p.m. — Off work and decide to hit Grocery Outlet on my way home to buy a few things I need but don't want to pay full price for. The joke is on me because I can't find anything on my list except for dish soap. I also buy baking soda, Nutella (first time buying this myself), coconut macarons, two gluten-free baking mixes, two iced coffee drinks (one for my sister), a bag of avocados, chicken Caesar salad, dairy-free ice cream, gluten-free bread, more coffee creamer, and shredded cheese. I thought this place was supposed to be cheaper. $45.79 8 p.m. — Take a shower, watch Insecure (obsessed with this show!), and fall asleep way too early for a Saturday night. Daily Total: $45.79 Day Seven
7:20 a.m. — Wake up to a text from my sister. We're hanging out today because it's my only day off, and we usually get coffee and go shopping. I'm really tired again from not sleeping. I pour myself a glass of juice because I'm still feeling kind of sick, and I get dressed in a hurry because I am so excited to not be at work today! 8:45 a.m. — Meet my sister at her place to say hi to her kitties. The younger one is very special (leaky eye and all) and the older one has started liking me more since I moved here. We head out a few minutes later to the cutest coffee shop, which used to be a house. We each order a cup of coffee, paying for ourselves, and are told that we get a free refill! After an hour or so of chatting about life, we decide to head to out. $2.50 10 a.m. — I tell my sister I want to get a book at the Amazon Bookstore in the mall since everything has Amazon pricing if you're a Prime member. I buy You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. I read the first You Are a Badass three times and her newest book once. It's the kind of book I know I'll read again, which is why I decide to buy it. Since I moved to Portland, I have become hyper-aware of my money and my spending habits. I want to budget better so I can save more money. Repetition is key for me, so I am definitely going to read this book a few times. We also go into Gap since I have a $25 gift card and we find cute sweaters on sale. I get three (all paid for with my gift card) and my sister gets two. The cashier tells us that the sweaters are actually for men but that only women have been buying them. Winter is coming! $16.51 11:15 a.m. — Sister and I decide on Red Robin for lunch because it's close by. Our food ends up being really cheap and we each pay for ourselves. $7.79 12:15 p.m. — We head to Target since I still need to buy a few things I didn't get last night. I buy a pack of 9V batteries (my smoke alarm decided to let me know it needed new batteries in the middle of the night), iced coffee for the week, dry shampoo, and a pack of small notebooks to fit in my pocket for work. I keep forgetting little things I want to remember, including the fact that I already bought this on Amazon two days ago! $19.46 1:30 p.m. — We stop at Nordstrom Rack for my sister to find running shoes with no luck. I complain to my sister about the traffic I have had to sit in on my way home from work because I live on the other side of a popular bridge. She tells me to get a gym pass at her gym and go there after work since it's so close. So, we go to Planet Fitness and I sign up. I meant to do this when I first got here, but I couldn't find a cheap-enough gym. After the initiation fee and the pro-rated membership fee for the rest of the month, I walk out paying more than I wanted. But after this, it's only $10 a month, which is way better than the $45 I paid back in California. $55.90 2:15 p.m. — We pass by a running store and my sister makes me stop. After weeks of no luck, she finally finds suitable running shoes. They're expensive, but hey, "Invest in your shoes and your sheets, because if you're not in one, you're in the other," I tell her. She smiles at having never heard this quote before. 3 p.m. — I drop my sister off and my roommate texts me to say that we need toilet paper and paper towels. Before I head home, I stop at Fred Meyer. It's Oregon's version of Walmart, but way nicer. I buy toilet paper, paper towels, kombucha, gluten-free cookies since they're on sale, and good-quality coconut flour, frozen veggies, spinach, and banana-split ice cream because it's been so hot! I really need to quit it with the ice cream. $29.84 4 p.m. — Finally home and look at all my receipts. I spent too much, but I tell myself I will be better with my budget next month, which is a week away. I decide to pull out my new book, You Are a Badass With Money, and start reading it again. It is so motivating! 6 p.m. — Game of Thrones finale! Craziest season ever. I have to take breaks every week and walk outside to breathe. Ask my roommate if she wants to come. She probably thinks I'm crazy and dramatic, but this season really has been too much for me! 10 p.m. — Lights out because my six-day work week starts tomorrow all over again. Let's do it. Daily Total: $132
Next: an adjunct professor who makes $20,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on a watercolor techniques class, and tickets to see Nicholas Jaar. Occupation: Adjunct Professor Industry: Higher Education Age: 28 Location: Brooklyn, NY Salary: $20,000 Paycheck (2x/month for 10 months): $1,000 Monthly Expenses Housing: $1,875, split between my partner and me. My share is $700. I do more housework and get paid less, so we agreed this would be the best way to split the rent. Loans: $0. My family was very low income, so I got a full scholarship for college. All Other Monthly Expenses Health Insurance: $680, three times per year (through my partner's insurance) Dental Insurance: $72/month for my partner and I, split between us Utilities: ~$40 for electric, split between my partner and me. Gas and water are covered by the landlord. Cell Phone: ~$82/person, per month, for unlimited data on two phones and a tablet Democratic Socialists of America Membership: $25/year BAM Membership: $150 a year for two people, split between my partner and me Spotify: My partner pays FilmStruck: $100/year, split among me, my partner, and another friend of ours Netflix DVD: $8.60. I need the DVD service to get films for class screenings ahead of time. MUBI: $0 — mysteriously, as we stopped paying but still receive the service. Who is our magic MUBI fairy?! Streaming Services: Use friends' Hulu, Netflix streaming, and HBOGo accounts Zipcar Membership & Insurance: $10/month Day One
8:30 a.m. — Wake up early and hit the snooze button—it's going to be a long day, and I'm thankful for any excuse to get extra shut-eye. I'm painting a mural for the office of a local (democratic socialist!) candidate for city council with a few friends from DSA. To be honest, I'm a little nervous — I've never painted a mural before, although it's always been on my bucket list! I make avocado toast and put a fried egg on top. My partner wakes up, makes tea for both of us, and frees me up from dog-walking duties as I speed-walk to the mural site. 10:10 a.m. — The candidate drives my friends and me to The Home Depot to pick out paint colors. It takes forever to get supplies, though, and we're running very late. The city council candidate pays for the supplies and we take forever getting back to Crown Heights, since the West Indian Day Parade is about to start. Before getting to work, my friends and I grab food at Bagel Pub. I just moved back to Crown Heights after a few years in a different neighborhood (and also about two years abroad), so I'm excited to get to know some good food in the area! I get a Nescafé frappe and a banana, as my stomach isn't feeling too great after the escapades of this weekend. I'm also trying to save up money since I blew way too much money on karaoke in K-Town on Saturday. I was celebrating passing my PhD defense! $4.64 6 p.m. — Mural painting still going strong! Although I quickly realize we're not going to be done by nightfall. While we were painting, my partner checked out the West Indian Day parade and went to a friend's BBQ a block away from the mural-painting site. I love living in such a walkable neighborhood. Some new friends from the neighborhood stop by to help paint, or watch us paint from afar. I run back and forth from the BBQ to grab delicious grilled meats and salad, and to occasionally use the bathroom. My stomach is still giving me issues, exacerbated by the hot sun and dehydration. My partner brings me an herbal tea from the corner store to try to ease my stomach pains. 9 p.m. — We finally stop painting, as it get too dark to see, and we're all exhausted. The mural is only half-finished, but looks a-MAY-zing so far. We painted a pink sky, a red skyline of Manhattan, and a black skyline of Crown Heights in the foreground. It was a ton of fun (and a ton of work) and I'm excited to get back to it later this week! A super productive day, and I spend a few hours relaxing and walking my dog. I scrub my entire body of paint and wash my hair, and gear up for another full day of teaching and prep tomorrow. Daily Total: $4.64 Day Two
8:30 a.m. — Grumpily wake up early. I went to bed late since my hair was still very wet, and decided to spend time looking for academic jobs on the internet and send out emails I've neglected. However, my anxiety keeps me from sleeping very well. I usually have a hard time sleeping before teaching, but not anywhere this bad. I'm also anxious about some packages getting to a location in time, and being able to find the film I need to screen for today's class. All my anxiety is exacerbated by waking up to my partner making bacon at 4 a.m. It's impossible to sleep with the smell! He goes to work really early to do rotations at a hospital, since he's still a medical student. But does he need to make bacon this early?! He also forgets to turn off one of his alarms, which wakes me up at 5 a.m. I am not happy. I eat a giant peach from my farmer's market haul on Saturday, and walk the dog to the pet store to pick up dog food, since we're running low. $22.85 10:30 a.m. — On the way back from the pet store, I run into one of my best friends! Neither of us is in the best mood but it's good to see him, and my mood almost immediately perks up. He pets my dog and we complain about bureaucracies. I go home and spend a few minutes calling my management company — we moved in a month ago and still have a hole in our bathroom ceiling! The apartment was gut-renovated and they had to rush all the repairs. It feels like we're living in a half-finished apartment. I do some administrative work for my department; I'm planning film screenings and need to send out a few emails. I make toast with organic peanut butter and green tea because I'm still hungry after the peach and in need of caffeine. Hoping my mood will pick up; I might just be hangry. 2 p.m. — While prepping for teaching, I eat leftovers my partner brought back from yesterday's BBQ (shrimp and sausages!) and a tomato-and-cucumber salad that I made over the weekend. Mood has somehow improved, but I'm still stressed. I shipped a few very important packages on Saturday that still haven't actually seemed to leave the FedEx store, so I'm worried and miffed. I also have to deal with unexplained library overdue fines and the management company, which arrives to fix absolutely nothing in the apartment that actually needs fixing. Renting in Brooklyn is absurd. I prepare a PowerPoint while drinking iced herbal tea. 3:45 p.m. — Finish up some pressing work emails and make a pastrami and provolone sandwich to take with me to teaching. I usually gobble it up in the one 20-minute break we have! 10:50 p.m. — Teaching went well! But I'm completely zonked. Film classes are nearly four hours long, and require a lot of stamina. I try to take the bus back from teaching (the forecast said there was a chance of rain, and I didn't want to risk biking), but there's only one bus doing the whole route from North to South Brooklyn. What do you know? There's a 30-minute delay. I take a Lyft and enjoy a quiet car ride instead of waiting for 30 minutes in the middle of nowhere. $4.05 11:15 p.m. — Once I get home, my mood plummets again. A dance performance I was excited to buy tickets for just completely sold out! More than a bit disappointed, I half-heartedly check over some edits for an upcoming chapter publication, browse Apartment Therapy, walk the dog (I find three good books on someone's curb!), give him a good cuddle, and go to sleep around 12:30. Daily Total: $26.90 Day Three
9:15 a.m. — Wake up without an alarm clock. Today, I just have a dance class in the evening, so I allow myself to sleep in a bit. I check social media and reply to a few emails while eating another enormous farmer's market peach. I could eat them all day. 11:15 a.m. — Took my dog on a long walk and I'm still hungry, so I have a piece of toast with jam. I drink some green tea and start organizing the apartment and putting books on shelves. We just built floating shelves and are almost done putting them in their right places. 1:15 p.m. — Took a break from organizing and shelving by watching Insecure (I'm so behind!) and eating leftovers from the BBQ, salad, along with a few squares of chocolate for dessert. Is this self-care? I'm back to shelving and organizing 30 minutes later. 3:15 p.m. — Another break to munch on pistachio nuts, pet my dog, and read some blogs. I also find out my package (containing some important paperwork) got to my department in time. Nothing can stop me officially getting my PhD now! 4:15 p.m. — Whoops, spent wayyy longer on the internet than expected. Back to organizing. 6 p.m. — Partner comes back from work, just as the management company comes over to look at the state of the apartment. Everything is a mess! I leave to walk to dance class (a six-week beginners' modern dance workshop) and run into a mentor while wearing gross athletic clothing (of course). After dance class, I stop by Trader Joe's and pick up groceries for the week: frozen pizzas, frozen chicken, milk, packets of ready-made Indian food, cereal, hot dog buns, and bagels. $33.85 9 p.m. — Carrying groceries in the rain is no fun at all. My partner and I eat a few hot dogs left over from the BBQ for dinner, and I eat the rest of the salad. We get to relax a bit, a nice change of pace after a hectic few weeks/month. Quality time! 10:30 p.m. — Partner goes to sleep, and I look at blogs on the internet before walking my dog. I take a shower and go to bed around 12:45. Daily Total: $33.85 Day Four
9 a.m. — I wake up at 8:30 but then decide to sleep in a little longer. I take the dog for a walk, eat another peach, and a more filling breakfast of Cream of Wheat, and start the day answering emails. 10:30 a.m. — Sent some emails for work and checked out the new Facebook show Strangers. Verdict: pretty good! Especially the acting. Then, time for organizing and cleaning. Today is the day I finish everything in the apartment! 1 p.m. — Apartment stuff is exhausting! I hang up about seven framed pictures, install kitchen appliances, and start cleaning the bedroom. I get hungry and eat the last of the leftover hot dogs while drinking green tea and watching Strangers, then go back to organizing, hanging pictures, and putting everything away. 4 p.m. — I bike to Beacon's Closet to try to sell a bag of clothing. I periodically decide to purge everything I don't particularly like to wear anymore. They only take one dress this time; I'm losing my Beacon's Closet mojo! But I use this credit, plus some credit I have left over, to get a pair of earrings priced at $15. I still have about $13 left in credit. Ka-ching! 5:30 p.m. — I bike to my therapist's office. I got new insurance through my partner, but it has a $500 deductible (ugh), so I have to pay the full cost up front. We agree that I'd pay $70 a session until I reach the deductible. Very frustrating; healthcare in this country is a sham. $70 7 p.m. — I walk the dog and make dinner for my partner and me — pan-fried skate fish and roasted potatoes with thyme. Both are from the farmers' market trip we made last weekend and are delicious! I accidentally over salt the fish but I secretly like it better this way. 10 p.m. — Organize a bit and spend some time Instagramming and fawning over the floating bookshelves we built. They look amazing! We painted one room a light gold color and the other a bright blue, and it's finally starting to look like a home. I send my mother-in-law pictures of the apartment and we chat. Tomorrow, we have to give back the power tools we borrowed from friends, so I also want to make sure we don't have to do any more drilling later this week. I help my partner put up curtain rods and clean up a bit, then walk the dog and go to sleep around 1. Daily Total: $70 Day Five
9 a.m. — I get up and check my email; my dissertation submission was processed! I'm officially a doctor! I wash my hair and make celebratory bacon and eggs for my newly-minted doctor-ness. 10 a.m. — Send out work emails and make oolong tea that one of my best friends brought from Taiwan. Comparative literature perks! Emails end up taking an hour and a half. Coordinating screenings is no joke! I'm also sending artwork from my book to a museum in New Jersey, and I need to send them information and loan agreements. The show opens in two weeks! 11:30 a.m. — Take the dog for a long walk, and pick up my friends' enormous level that I left in the political candidate's office while doing the mural. Mural-making will pick up again tomorrow morning! I return home and keep answering emails. I eat a peach and continue organizing the apartment, cleaning, and hanging pictures. 2:45 p.m. — I eat leftover fish and potatoes while answering emails. The emails never end! 4 p.m. — Went to my friends' apartment to drop off a bunch of hardware equipment (drills, drivers, levels, etc.) that we borrowed for the past few weeks. I got to brag a bit about our floating shelves and (mostly my partner's) home improvement prowess. Then, went to the dollar store to pick up things we need around the house: over-the-door hangers, bleach, bathroom cleaner, envelopes, a bath mat, and batteries. $27.71 5:45 p.m. — Exhausted from towing purchases around Crown Heights, I finish the last of the fish and potatoes and watch Insecure while doing a last bit of organizing. 6:45 p.m. — I dress up a bit and drop off dry cleaning before heading to two art exhibition openings at a press run by two of my best friends. I'm a member of the studio when I have the money. My partner bought me a three-month membership starting in October for my birthday! 11:30 p.m. — The exhibitions were so much fun! We stayed for about two and a half hours and brought our dog. He was thrilled to be pet by everyone at the studio, and thankfully the studio also has a fenced backyard so we could leave him outside. We drink free rosé, cheese, crackers, and veggies while chatting with friends. We go back and cuddle with our dog, then go to sleep around midnight. Daily Total: $27.71 Day Six
8:30 a.m. — I get up and start to make a bagel with veggie cream cheese, but it has mold on it! I ask my partner, a medical student, if the non-moldy part is safe to eat, since we don't have much food otherwise. He says yes and scoops out the moldy part. Crossing my fingers that his med school education taught him well! I eat the bagel, and walk over to the political candidate's office to continue mural painting. My partner is taking up dog-walking and dog-feeding duties for the day. 10:30 a.m. — My two fellow mural-painting friends and I get coffee while we prep the grate for painting. I ask for a small drip coffee and my friend pays. 1 p.m. — It is a scorcher! Although it is a 75-degree day, the sun feels like 85, and we're slaving away painting. I feel faint and ask the campaign manager to get us bodega sandwiches. I eat an Italian sandwich and feel much, much better. I figure that since we're painting the mural for free, providing some food is the least they could do. My partner comes by, having just gone to the farmer's market, and brings cold non-alcoholic cider and cider donuts. I instantly perk up. We take turns taking breaks and eating. 3 p.m. — From 85 to 65! Brrr. These transitional seasons are rough, and all of us left our sweaters in the campaign office, which is currently covered by a grate. I'm also getting extremely annoyed by the campaign manager's five-year-old nephew, whom she is babysitting. They are sitting directly in front of us while we're painting and it's an extreme distraction. I'm much more of a dog person than a kid person; my friends are better around kids than me, so I assume they're less annoyed by his presence. But I like being able to predict my surroundings when I work, and especially since we're doing this work for free, this sudden necessity to babysit a five year old makes me extremely upset. 6:30 p.m. — I have to leave mural-painting a bit early, as two friends in Jersey City are having a dinner party. I regretfully leave mural-painting, but thankfully everyone's just finishing up. I go back to my apartment and shower, scraping paint off every inch of my body, and try to calm down, although I am still very upset by the day. I wished the day was more like Monday, when things seemed less upsetting. Forty-five minutes later, my partner and I are on the way to the train and stop by the mural. It looks amazing! I'm upset with how some of my work turned out, but they fixed it and it looks sooo much better now. I feel very guilty that I had to leave the work early and wish I didn't have to go to the dinner party. 8:30 p.m. — We arrive at the dinner party a bit late, as the PATH train is extremely unreliable, per usual. We bring a leftover bottle of champagne from last week's festivities. The party is fine, although I'm not a big fan of the food. I'm Midwestern and scarf it down anyway, although some of it doesn't taste fully cooked. I try to enjoy myself and drink a few beers. We leave a little before midnight. 1:30 a.m. — We're finally back at home, and I'm in an atrocious mood, exacerbated by the fact that my stomach is upset from either the dinner party, stress, or the moldy cream cheese this morning. I grumpily settle into bed after cuddling our dog. Daily Total: $0 Day Seven
10 a.m. — I wake up after a restless night. I have minor food poisoning! This puts a damper in the day and I have to cancel some plans. Originally, I was going to go to a friend's house this afternoon, and then to a movie at BAM, but I decide it's not worth the stress. I'm very stressed about the next week, too — I have a performance of my book tomorrow, and still need to make the PowerPoint. I also have to teach tomorrow morning, and still need to prep. But perhaps the most stressful thing is Brooklyn Book Festival next weekend, where I will be on a panel on a very sensitive topic that, frankly, I'd prefer not to talk about, especially in public. But it's such an honor to be invited onto a panel at Brooklyn Book Festival that I say yes anyway, although it worries me to no end. Depressed, I loaf around in bed for a few hours and try to perk up, to no avail. My partner sweetly takes over dog duties and goes grocery shopping. 1:30 p.m. — Woof. Still very sick to my stomach. I lesson plan for tomorrow and answer emails while occasionally taking trips to the bathroom. I can only stomach a few spoonfuls of applesauce. I also decide to bite the bullet and sign up for a watercolor techniques class at the print shop where my partner bought me a membership. It meets four Mondays in October. I use my membership discount and save 50% on the class! $125 2:30 p.m. — Alternate between replying to student emails and checking blogs. One of my undergrads is a difficult case; he claims not to have money for the two cheap textbooks required for class, and claims to have difficulty with a credit card. The department can't really do anything to help him, and as an adjunct making so little money, I certainly can't help him either. I suggest he gets his credit card problem fixed and use the library's copy until then. I make a piece of toast with cheese since I should probably eat something, although I still feel achy. 4:15 p.m. — I see that Nicolas Jaar tickets are on sale! My friend gets three for herself, my partner, and me, and I Venmo her our share. I don't go to nearly as many concerts as I used to, so I'm very excited. I owe my partner some money for various things so I pay for his share. $87.50 4:30 p.m. — Still achy. I answer emails and read the class textbook to prepare in the bedroom. Now that the apartment is put together it feels very cozy, and I love all the plants and colors. 6 p.m. — I work on a logo for the screening series I'm organizing at the college where I work, and send it off to the other admins and Chair. Then, I continue prepping for class and making a PowerPoint. I eat part of a pasta with pesto that my partner made, and some pesto and crackers. Probably not good for my stomach, but I can't resist the treat, and I'm hungry! Then continue prepping for class. Partner goes to a DSA event next door while I work and brings the dog. 8:15 p.m. — Partner returns, and I give him a haircut. I love giving haircuts. I've been cutting my partner's hair since we met over three years ago! We clean the bathroom together, feed the dog, and he walks him since my stomach still doesn't feel great. After, we finish watching a film we started about a week ago on MUBI, and he goes to sleep. I do a bit more work, shower, and head to bed around 11:30. Daily Total: $212.50
Lastly: an English teacher who makes $18,214 per year. This week, she spends some of her money on a CrossFit competition. Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar. Occupation: English Teacher Industry: International Education Age: 25 Location: Jakarta, Indonesia Salary: $18,214.92 Paycheck (Once Per Month): $1,517.91 in pocket, after tax and healthcare deductions Monthly Expenses Housing Costs: $157.68 for rent. I live in a kostan (boarding house) that was built earlier this summer, so the facilities are brand new and beautiful. I have a private room and bathroom, and share both the kitchen and common areas with the eight other people who live on my floor. This price includes water, trash, maintenance, daily cleaning of common space, and monthly private room cleanings. Loan Payments: $0. Significant academic scholarships, three work-study jobs, and supportive parents got me out of undergrad loan-free. All Other Monthly Expenses CrossFit: $45. I got a great new member deal at my box. This will increase to $80/month at the end of September. Cell Phone: $7.50/month. This is the smallest package, and it gets me 8 GB of data, which is more than I could ever use. Electricity: About $10/month. I buy credit to put on my account at my kostan, and then add more when necessary. Hair Cut: $8/month, including tip. It is far cheaper to maintain my pixie here than it ever was in the U.S. Health Insurance: $0. Taken out of my salary before I ever see a penny of it. If I have to go to the doctor or buy any meds during the month, I submit the amount to my company for reimbursement. High-Interest Savings Account: About $400/month. It's my catch-all for grad school savings, which I plan on attending in about four years. Roth IRA: $250 a month, at minimum. Day One
4:30 a.m. — Wake up. I take a shower with the Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast playing in the background. While my hair air dries (perks of having a pixie!) I cook breakfast: mushrooms sautéed in lemon juice and mixed with three scrambled eggs. Since starting CrossFit about six weeks ago, I've been tracking my food and water using an awesome app called MyPlate. I find it far more helpful and aesthetically pleasing than MyFitnessPal ever was. I make note of my breakfast and scroll through posts from my favorite blogs, all pulled together on my Feedly. 6:15 a.m. — I use the Grab app to get a motorcycle to pick me up so I can head to my primary school. (Think Uber, but with motorcycles.) While I certainly enjoy being in an air-conditioned car, my commute would be doubled (at least!) if I took a car the three miles to work at this time of day. $0.60 6:45 a.m. — Morning teacher meeting. It's all in Bahasa, though, so I can only ever catch a few words. I'm learning the language slowly as I go, but I've only been here about eight weeks, so my vocabulary is super limited (i.e. mainly the numbers 1 through 5 and my favorite foods to order from street vendors). 7:35 a.m. — Start teaching fifth and sixth graders. 9:30 a.m. — Period off. I've already down an entire Nalgene this morning, so I refill my bottle and text my mom about yesterday's CrossFit class. It's a 12-hour difference from me in Jakarta to her and my dad in Missouri, so she's getting ready for bed. 10:15 a.m. — Back to teaching. 1 p.m. — All done for the day. I take a Grab home, where I change out of my slacks and button-up combo and into my gym clothes. I load up my laundry in my gym bag and walk the quarter mile to the laundry place where I drop off two weeks of clothes for a normal cleaning. This will cost about $6 to have all of my clothes washed, dried, and folded, but I don't pay until I pick them up. I walk back home and lounge around in bed, snacking on kiwi and watching YouTube videos. $0.75 3 p.m. — I make myself lunch: a potato cooked on the stove top with minced garlic and lemon juice, topped with diced tomatoes. Over the weekend, my mom told me she received notice that my credit card from my Missouri-based bank has been blocked. This makes no sense, as I notified them of my move abroad before I left. I also added my mom to my account just in case, for situations like this. But, somehow, neither of these things is now showing on the bank's end of things. I know I need to get a different kind of phone credit to make an international call to the bank's worldwide number, but I don't know what kind or where to buy it. This is going to be a trip. It was a huge holiday weekend here, so most places I can purchase the credit are still closed for today. I plan to investigate more tomorrow. 4:15 p.m. — On Mondays, I do a "power hour," which is focused on things like tire flipping and sled pushing, and then hang around for the CrossFit class about an hour later. I pack up my bag and head to the gym. $0.60 8 p.m. — I am absolutely exhausted. I love this sport. I did three separate workouts, which included rowing, clean and jerks, push press, power cleans, push-ups, ring rows, and running. All I want to do is shower and get in bed, but I have a small list of groceries that I've been out of for the past few days. I take a bike from the gym to the town center, which is walking distance to my kostan, but has slightly higher prices. $0.60 8:30 p.m. — I move slowly around the store, chatting with my mom on the phone. (WhatsApp is a godsend for people with loved ones in other countries.) She and my dad are busy meeting up with various people to sell some furniture. My dad will retire (FINALLY!) in early 2018, and then they're going to start building a new house, so the downsizing and getting rid of junk process has been ongoing for a while now. 9:15 p.m. — I somehow manage to leave the store with only what was on my list: muesli, feta cheese, milk, mushrooms. I wind up with two big bags of muesli because my favorite kind is on sale. That never happens! So, it still counts as sticking to my shopping list, right? $20.60 9:30 p.m. — I walk home, put my groceries away, chow down on muesli and kiwi for dinner, check Spendee to make sure I tracked all my purchase today, and am asleep by 10. Daily Total: $23.15 Day Two
4:30 a.m. — Wake up. Shower while finishing up yesterday's podcast. Muesli with milk and two fried eggs for breakfast. I pack my bag with my school stuff and my gym clothes; I'll go straight from work to the gym today. I move yesterday's spending from Spendee into my Excel daily spending tracker. Because I'm relatively new to Jakarta, I'm tracking every penny I spend so I can get more comfortable with precisely how much I'll be able to spend and save each month. 6 a.m. — Call for my Grab. I travel the four miles to my high school, head to the teacher room, sit down, unpack my bag, and then smile widely at my coworker who walks through the door with a huge plate of still-warm donuts. I snag two because, well, donuts. I track these on the app; I'm using it to hold myself more accountable for what I put in my body because I can feel such a huge difference at the gym when I'm eating well and when I'm eating...otherwise. $1.13 7:10 a.m. — First class of the day. Next week is a testing week at both of my schools, so all of my students are doing test prep. I'm letting the high schoolers write scripts to use during their English-speaking test, so my actual teaching is pretty boring today. Mainly, I'm just watching them work together, and answering the occasional grammar question. 9:10 a.m. — Break time and an off period. One of my supervisors has texted about an opportunity for overtime this Saturday. I say yes immediately, as my morning is currently free. I'll be judging some sort of speaking competition. She mentions that they might need me for another competition the following Saturday, and I tell her that, if that's the case, I am absolutely in for another round. 10 a.m. — Another coworker dramatically throws the teacher room's door open. She's carrying a huge tray of food, and singing out my name. She's brought in a ton of filled lontongs for everyone to have, and wants me to try one immediately. They're rice cakes that are filled with meat and chilies, and then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. They're delicious. I end up eating two, knowing that I probably won't go eat lunch whenever the time comes. 10:30 a.m. — Back to teaching. 12:30 p.m. — Lunch time. Someone bought chicken and rice meals for every teacher, so they're waiting on our desks. I munch on the roasted chicken and rice, and throw the banana into my backpack for later. I ask my Indonesian coworkers and fellow foreign teachers about the phone credit, but no one knows anything about making international calls. They only use WhatsApp or Skype for international communication. This credit card situation is getting more and more ridiculous. 1:30 p.m. — Three more classes. 3:30 p.m. — Done teaching my high schoolers for the day! On Tuesdays, though, I stay at school until five to volunteer teach English to my coworkers. It is incredibly fun to support my coworkers in this way. We read a news article about diversity in Western modeling, and review uses of the five W's, which we discussed last week. 5:05 p.m. — I leave school, heading to the gym for a 6 o'clock class. Traffic is usually a pain at this time, and today is no different. A motorcycle ride that usually takes 20 minutes around 4 p.m. ends up taking nearly 45. I pull the banana out of my bag and eat it in traffic. Once I arrive at the gym, I change into my workout clothes, and we're off! $0.75 7 p.m. — My. Arms. We did heavy barbell rows for strength, and then a workout that combined deadlifts and handstand push-ups. I was super happy with my touch-and-go deadlifts (45 total reps in the workout) at 110 pounds. I am FAR from getting my first handstand push-up, so I did a scaled version. I'm surprised my arms didn't fall off. I check the Grab app for a bike, and see that prices are higher than normal because a rainstorm is moving in and everyone is trying to hurry home. I'm tired, so I join the rush. $0.90 7:30 p.m. — Home. Shower. Muesli. YouTube. In bed by 8:30, and asleep before nine. Daily Total: $2.78 Day Three
4:30 a.m. — Wake up feeling wonderfully rested. Shower podcast: Good Life Project. I want to eat potatoes but I don't want to cook them, so I just have a bowl of muesli. This locally made muesli is delicious, but I'm noticing that having it on hand makes me lazy about eating fruits and veggies. But, seriously, it's delicious. 5:30 a.m. — While scrolling social media, I see that a good friend from college is raising money to buy Chromebooks for her high school students to use in class. She's teaching at an urban school in Florida. I worked in urban education before I moved to Jakarta, so I understand her desire to provide her students with the same access and technology that students in wealthier areas take for granted. I donate $50 and share the link on my own pages. $50 6 a.m. — Head to my primary school. $0.68 6:15 a.m. — Morning meeting, fill in my spending trackers, and text the English Coordinator at my high school about paperwork I need from her. She responds quickly, admitting she forgot about it, and promises to complete it by the end of the day. I'm grateful to have such a welcoming and approachable EC. I've heard horror stories from other English teachers, and I'm thankful that I don't have to worry about that with her! 7:10 a.m. — Teaching time. First and second graders today. It's a good thing I got so much sleep last night, because I certainly will need the energy for these little ones. 8:45 a.m. — Yep. Definitely a good thing I went to bed early last night. These young students are absolutely adorable, literally the size of bread loaves, beautifully energetic, and they require an immense amount of energy to work with. I am certainly not made to teach this age group, but they present a nice challenge, and I appreciate the simple ways they view the world. 9:45 a.m. — Off period. I sit as close to the air conditioner as I can and scroll Feedly, catching up on posts from The Financial Diet and Humans of New York. My Indonesian coworkers continuously offer me food. I politely decline as I am still full from breakfast, and eating meatballs and hot soup is not something I can do before noon. 10:15 a.m. — Time for second grade. 1 p.m. — Done with teaching. Back to this banking mess. One of my coworkers at this school sells phone credits as a small side gig. I've bought data from him before, and I assume this will be no different. He tries multiple times to transfer a call package to my account, but we don't have any success. It's the end of the day, and we both have things to do, so we decide to try again on Friday after he can ask some tech friends about why my account is being so problematic. I take a Grab bike to pick up my laundry, and spend the entire ride thinking about how great a burrito bowl from Chipotle sounds. Ah, I wish. $0.45 1:15 p.m. — A chore-based perk of my life in Jakarta is not having to do any laundry, and being able to pay someone else to take care of it. There are plenty of chain laundry companies that will pick up and drop off, but I use a family-owned one that is walking distance from my kostan. I tried to support local businesses where I lived before this, and I want to keep that going. $5.25 2 p.m. — Lunch time! Remember the potato I was too lazy to cook this morning? I dice it and fry it with garlic and lemon juice, then add some mushrooms and stir-fry beef. I top that all off with feta and diced tomatoes, and eat while putting away laundry and making playlists to use at the gym. 4:30 p.m. — Pack up my gym bag and leave home. My plan is to get some focused lifting work done during Open Gym, and then hang around for the 7 o'clock class. I check my email while on the motorcycle, and see I've received the paperwork from my EC. Beautiful. $0.38 6:05 p.m. — Open Gym complete! I found a one-rep max for my back squat, and I worked on my box jumps. I have bad knees, so box jumps make me nervous. (I have significant cartilage loss on my knee caps; I found out early in high school that that's why I was experiencing pain during sports.) Of course, the "sensible" thing I do is 90 box jumps with fatigued legs, all while jamming to my new playlist. CrossFit is pushing me to challenge myself in new ways, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. 8:30 p.m. — Man. That class workout was not messing around. Thrusters, kettlebell swings, and scaled pull-ups. I'm super happy with my time and with the fact that my green shirt is now about three shades darker due to sweat. I get a bike home, holding onto the back of the bike for dear life because my quads are done for today. $0.60 9 p.m. — I'd planned on making rice with sautéed mushrooms and garlic, but I am not about to wait around the 20 minutes it takes for brown rice to cook. Another bowl of muesli, it is! (Is anyone else noticing a pattern here?) I shower, and am asleep by 9:30. Daily Total: $57.36 Day Four
4:30 a.m. — Up and at 'em. Shower podcast: Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoinette. Muesli and a few fried eggs while I update my money trackers. 6 a.m. — Call for a bike and make my way to the high school. $1.13 6:35 a.m. — Traffic was a hot mess. Now, this is normal in Jakarta, and I usually even enjoy the process of getting places here. But with my legs still jelly from yesterday, I spent the entire ride squeezing with every ounce of my body just to stay on the back of the damn motorcycle. Once I'm at school, I sit in the teacher room, right in front of the AC, and hope my button down isn't showing too much of my sweat. 7:10 a.m. — Teaching time. 9:20 a.m. — Break! These kids crack me up. Three classes down, six to go. I snack on kiwi chunks I brought from home, and snag a free bottle of green tea to have later. 11 a.m. — Not only do I have a period off and I get to sit down, but a coworker brought in fried bananas! I hijack some and eat them while I drink the green tea. Did I plan on eating this today? Nope. But it's delicious. I log it in MyPlate and relax before heading back to the classroom. I really do try not to have favorites...but my four favorite classes to teach are ALL today. It's wonderful. 12:30 p.m. — Lunch time. I'm usually not hungry for lunch until around 2, so that combined with this morning's extra snacks means I spend lunch exploring a workout app that my coach recommended to me, and planning a Skype catch-up date with a good friend/mentor from the U.S. 1:30 p.m. — Two tenth-grade boys stay after class to ask me to explain some rap lyrics from Western songs. Their earnestness and curiosity are incredibly endearing, and we have a great conversation. Three more classes to go. 2 p.m. — I get a text from the owner of my kostan. He says there was a sudden change in schedule, and they can clean my room today, instead of waiting until next week, as long as that's okay with me. I give them the green light. 3:30 p.m. — End of work for the day! I fell into teaching a few years ago, totally by accident, and I am continuously grateful that I did. My workdays can certainly be exhausting, but I know there will always be laughter, bravery, good questions, and (usually) a few bad puns and knock-knock jokes. I order a bike via Grab and head home. $0.60 4 p.m. — My bathroom and bedroom are spotless! This is a huge perk of my building, that's for sure. I make brown rice and top it with diced tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, and feta cheese. While I eat, I keep scrolling through the workout app that my coach recommended: Beyond The Whiteboard (BTWB). 4:15 p.m. — It's decided. I'm in love with this app. I can track workouts and maxes, weight and body fat, find all sorts of workouts, and get data on my strengths, weaknesses, and what types of workouts I need to do more of. I make an account and start my first free month. After your first month is up, it's $5 a month, but if you pay a year in advance, it's only $50 for the year. I'll most likely start paying for the subscription, but I'm going to wait until my free month is nearly over to decide for sure. 5:15 p.m. — Heading to the gym. $0.60 7 p.m. — I say this almost every time I go to CF, but this class was SO much fun. We worked on deadlifts and then did Death by Power Cleans. With 30 kg on my bar, I made it to round 14 before I "died." Today's small victory: I didn't tear my hands at all! 7:30 p.m. — I take a bike home and eat kiwi while I talk on the phone to my mom and dad. I've been keeping an eye on flights home for Christmas, for about three weeks. Prices are hovering around $2,000. I'll need to purchase in the next two weeks to make sure the prices don't skyrocket, but I'm going to wait a bit longer, just in case they miraculously drop. $0.75 9 p.m. — Shower. Bed. Daily Total: $3.08 Day Five
4:30 a.m. — Wake up. Good Life Project accompanies my shower. Muesli and milk for breakfast. I lay in bed and begin inputting previous workouts into BTWB. I've always loved being able to track workouts and get feedback on progress. In college, that was a given because I played softball for my university. Since graduating, though, I've definitely missed this aspect of my fitness. This app appears to be a fix for it, though! 6:15 a.m. — Head to my primary school. $0.75 7:35 a.m. — Third and fourth graders today! These ages are in a really cute middle spot between the "babies" in first grade and the "big kids" in sixth. 9:45 a.m. — A friend texts to see if I'd like to attend a wedding with her on Sunday. One of her coworkers is getting married. We make plans to meet at the wedding, and discuss our outfits between now and then. 10 a.m. — This school can be exceptionally disorganized. Coming from urban ed, I'm used to things changing regularly, but those changes were always communicated as soon as the change was made. (Over-communicated, in many cases.) At this school, changes are made a week or so in advance, but are not translated to me until the morning of, and/or five minutes before the change takes place. Today is one of those days where I'm frustrated with the adults, which makes me even more grateful for my students. 10:15 a.m. — I love fourth graders. They work diligently through their practice speaking exercises (everyone is still getting ready for the test next week), and then take turns asking and answering questions with me. We have about three extra minutes at the end of class, so I pull up "How Far I'll Go" from Moana. Every kid sings every word, but I wonder how much of the lyrics are understood. I make a mental note to revisit popular songs with them, later in the year, and work on their understanding. 1 p.m. — End of the work day. Update on the credit card debacle: My coworker was able to figure out why the credit wouldn't transfer to my account so, now, the process takes less than five minutes. This bank number is supposed to be a 24-hour line, and I plan to give them a call when I get home, after I buy groceries. I take a Grab to the grocery store. $0.45 1:30 p.m. — I wander the store for a while, debating what I want to eat this weekend. I'll most likely eat out/order food once, so I focus on healthier snacks. I end up buying bananas, cucumbers, potatoes, and honey. My ever-present fresh lemon juice is running low, so I also grab three huge lemons to replenish my stash. I walk home when I'm finished. $12.51 3 p.m. — Home and hungry. I cut up the cucumbers to have ready in the fridge, and squeeze my lemons, fishing out the seeds with a fork so it's ready to add to the skillet. The Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast accompanies this process. Once I finish, I snack on cucumbers with honey. 4 p.m. — Time to call the bank ... but the call won't go through. The recording that keeps coming up tells me I don't have credit on my account. I check my account where, yes, I do have calling credit. I call the number again, and listen to the entire recording. It turns out I have no way of calling this damn number. I text my mom to let her know that the credit card fiasco continues to be a fiasco, and ask if she'd be willing to go up to the credit union later today and see if I can sort it out with them while on the phone via WhatsApp. I know she's asleep, and I know she'll respond whenever she wakes up. 4:30 p.m. — Heading to the gym with plenty of credit union-focused frustration to get rid of. Tonight, like most Fridays, I'll stay for two classes: one Power Hour, and one normal CF class. $0.60 7:30 p.m. — Both classes are finished (and I hit an overhead squat PR!) but I stay to hang around with some gym friends. I turn in my registration money for a CrossFit competition in November. The first qualification workout was released earlier today, and I want to take a stab at it. It's only 10 minutes long, so I'll probably redo it at least one more time before our videos are due at the end of next week. $18.75 8:00 p.m. — My mom texts back. She'll go to the bank right when they open at 9 a.m. and call me when she gets there, so I need to make sure I'm available to speak with the bank people, a.k.a., not in the middle of a workout and not on the back of a motorcycle. I thank her profusely and then head to do my qualification workout. 8:45 p.m. — That workout might only be 10 minutes, but ... it sucks. I'm exhausted, and pretty happy with my score, but I'll definitely redo it to improve. I sit outside, still catching my breath, and wait for my mom to call while a friend takes his first run at the qualifier. 9:30 p.m. — IT IS ALL RESOLVED! I was on the phone with my mom, who was in person with the local credit union representative, who was on the phone with the international help line. I was able to confirm the last purchases made on the card, and I've resubmitted the paperwork adding my mom to my account via electronic signature, and my credit card is no longer blocked. Thankfully, this doesn't impact my credit score at all. With that all taken care of, I thank my mom again and then head home. $0.38 10 p.m. — More lemon and garlic potatoes, as well as cucumber and honey for dinner. I watch the video of my workout to check my rep counts, and I can't stop laughing. The workout is 15 burpees, 10 deadlifts, and five overhead presses. It's an AMRAP, which means you do those as many times as possible in 10 minutes. My very first round, I miscounted reps and only did 14 burpees. So, this video is no good as my qualifier. I find this absolutely hilarious and text my gym friends about it. They also find it hilarious, and we plan on having a redo party later in the week. 10:15 p.m. — I call my dad to catch up, and we talk for about a half hour. Because of his work schedule and the time difference, it's hard for us to talk on the phone on a regular basis. I seriously cannot describe how excited I am for him to retire. I can't wait for him to never work another 12-hour shift and never do another bit of physical labor that he doesn't want to do. 10:45 p.m. — Way past my usual bedtime, but I do get to sleep in tomorrow. I'm asleep within minutes of laying down. Daily Total: $33.44 Day Six
7 a.m. — Wake up. Shower while finishing up Terrible, Thanks for Asking. I put on my usual work outfit and make scrambled eggs with sautéed mushrooms for breakfast. This finishes off my eggs, so I make a note in Wunderlist to pick some up this weekend. I watch a few YouTube videos (Claire Marshall is posting daily right now and I am SO on board for that) and then head to the school where I'll be judging. ($0.75, expensed) 9 a.m. — I won't start judging until 9:30, so I find a coworker from my teaching company and she introduces me to the people in charge of the competition. Many of my primary school students are here as a part of the spelling bee and/or competing on futsal and basketball teams, so I get to say hello to them. Two other teachers from my company are here to judge — a Canadian and a New Zealander. We catch up briefly and then head to our respective rooms. 9:30 a.m. — I start judging "News Reading." Essentially, it's high school students behaving as if they're news anchors, reading news stories in English from the projector, and improvising their own opening, transitions, and closing. The students all do quite well, but one girl's charisma and language skill really shines through, so I score her far above the others. 10:30 a.m. — Done judging. That's an easy day of "work." I meet back up with everyone and we wander around the event. We watch futsal games played by fifth and sixth graders, snack on fried mushrooms that our Indonesian coworker bought for us, and I introduce them to my various students that come to say hello. 11:45 a.m. — Heading home. I'll be paid for my time at the event, and reimbursed for my travel. It really doesn't get better than this. ($0.75 expensed) 12:30 p.m. — I throw together rice with diced tomatoes and the last of my stir-fried meat. Once it's eaten, I lay down with a full stomach and the sun shining in through the window. 2:30 p.m. — Now that my impromptu nap is done, I text my friend about tomorrow's wedding. We run through our closets, knowing we don't have any perfect options for a traditional wedding. Eventually, we agree to wear similar dresses, so that, if we're going to stand out a bit, we'll at least stand out together and be on the same level of modesty. I slip my dress on to help me pick a pair of shoes, and am extremely happy with how well the dress is fitting. CrossFit and nutritional adjustments are certainly paying off. 5 p.m. — I text a few people about potentially going out tonight (just friends and possible dates), but I'm not really feeling it after all. Instead, I work on posts for my website about my time in Jakarta thus far, I turn in my lesson plans for the coming week, I finish up a small copyediting/proofreading project for a Boston photographer that I freelance for, and I do an exfoliating mask. Just the kind of Saturday night I needed. 8 p.m. — I'm in the kitchen staring at my food, and a guy who lives on my floor is doing the same thing. We chat about being hungry but not wanting anything we have in the kitchen. I tell him there's a pizza place not far from us that has incredible pineapple pizza. He agrees within moments, so I place the delivery order and we split both the pizza and the cost. $3.25 10 p.m. — Bedtime. Daily Total: $3.25 Day Seven
7 a.m. — I wake up a little before my alarm, and slowly start heading to the shower. Right before I get in the shower, my friend texts and asks if she can cancel our plans after all. She's had a super long week (she teaches young primary school kids every day, which I can only imagine) and woke up without much motivation to go to the wedding. I fully support this type of communication in friendships, and reassure her that it's not a problem for me at all. I start to get back in bed, and then realize this means I can go to the gym! 7:45 a.m. — I get there just in time for the last 15 minutes of the morning's class, and hop in for tire flipping, farmer's carries, and quality time with the ski erg. $0.38 8:15 a.m. — For the rest of the morning, the gym is open for us to work on whatever we need. I take this chance to have a coach count my reps for me while I redo the workout. My score isn't as solid as it was the other night, so I still plan on at least one more redo, but at least now I have a solid video for submission. After I finish that, I slowly work up to my current one rep max for my overhead squat. My form and balance need to be in much better shape before I can start learning how to snatch, so I do a bunch of reps at lower weights and focus on my technique. 9:30 a.m. — I finish up my overhead squat and focus on squat cleans. It's an incredibly warm day today, so I take off my shirt for my squat cleans. This is the first time I've done it, and it feels great. I may not look like Brooke Ence or Sara Sigmundsdottir, but I'm proud of my progress. Back to squat cleans. I'm strong from years and years of competitive sports, so I always try to power clean whatever weight is on the bar. (Non-pro tip: don't do that.) I start with low weights and focus on my technique for the lift. It's really just a mental thing for me with this one: I know I can muscle up these weights, so I really have to think through the whole lift. It finally starts feeling more natural, so I work up to a new one rep max. I end up hitting 45 kilos, which is 10 kilos higher from my previous PR! 10:30 a.m. — I finish at the gym and walk to the grocery store. I've been craving oatmeal, and I need to up my vitamin C intake so I stop getting little colds all the time. I check Wunderlist and remember eggs and more snack-y foods. I grab oatmeal, slivered almonds, oranges, eggs, a quarter of a watermelon, and a small apple juice. $13.33 11:30 a.m. — I take a Grab home and put away my groceries. I put some rice on to cook and read Lauren Marks' memoir A Stitch of Time on OverDrive while I wait for it to finish. I'm really close to finishing the novel, so I go ahead and download a sports book I've been wanting to read. (The app uses my existing U.S. library cards to check out e-books. I am able to download them to my phone, so I don't need data or Wi-fi to read. I get to keep them for 21 days and then they're automatically deleted from my phone, so it's impossible to have any late fees. I maintain an account with my Missouri library where I grew up, and one with a Massachusetts library because each library has a different selection of e-books.) When my rice is done, I top it with diced tomatoes, sautéed garlic and mushrooms, and lemon juice. $0.38 1 p.m. — I lay in bed and finish Marks' memoir. It's an incredible story of her experience with aphasia. I have to stop and breathe for a little bit at the end. 2 p.m. — Lying in bed with my eyes closed while I processed the book unsurprisingly turned into a nap. Now it's time to start my new book: Gwendolyn Oxenham's Under the Lights and In the Dark: Untold Stories of Women's Soccer. I don't have much time to read during the week, opting instead for podcasts, so I tend to go a bit crazy on the weekends. 4 p.m. — I look through my Passion Planner and check on my to-do list. I quickly tick through my Sunday list: change my birth control patch, plan out CrossFit sessions for the coming week, organize my lesson plans into their respective Google Drive folders, and get my dirty laundry ready to drop off tomorrow afternoon. I also flip back through my various trackers to make sure I got everything down for the week, and to see how I want to approach this week. Then, I text a few of my U.S. friends to initiate setting up Skype dates. It's wonderful to have incredible people in my life, and it's wonderful to be able live on the other side of the world from most of them, but it can also be hard to keep in genuine contact. I'm trying to be diligent about it this time around, because I certainly wasn't during a few previous moves. 8 p.m. — Somehow, it's already eight. I stop binging Simply Manders' YouTube videos and pack my bag for work. I make scrambled eggs with mushrooms on top, and eat a banana on the side. I've been researching vegetarianism, and am loosely considering swearing off meat for a while. There's a history of diabetes and heart disease in my family, and it seems like meat (especially red meat) isn't going to help with any of that. I haven't decided yet, but I've naturally steered clear of most meat for the last two weeks or so, only eating it a few times. I'm going to do some more research — especially into plant-based sources of protein that I can find here — before I decide how I'll proceed. Regardless, it feels good to be eating so many fruits and vegetables. 9:30 p.m. — Bedtime. Daily Total: $14.09