A Week In Barcelona On A $59,500 Salary

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Today: a chief marketing officer who makes $59,500 per year, and spends some of her money this week on panettone.

Occupation: CMO
Industry: Software
Age: 34
Location: Barcelona
Salary: $59,500 plus up to $24,000 bonus. (I earned only about $6,000 this year; it's based on company performance.)
Paycheck: $3,000/month; however, I receive 14 payments a year — an extra paycheck late in June and December.

Monthly Expenses
Housing: $950 for a corner studio in the historic center; additionally, I pay my landlord $120/month for fiber internet and all utilities.
Credit Card Debt: $727 for credit card repayment. I was irresponsible for a couple of years in my 20s and negotiated low rates on my own to repay.

All Other Expenses
Gym & Social Club Membership: $150/month; includes free movies, music events, and more.
Dog Walker: $240/month
Transit Pass: $230/quarterly for two zones unlimited
Health Insurance: $200/quarterly. I have free public healthcare but opt to pay for private, too.
Netflix: $0. I mooch off of a friend in the States.
Spotify: $0. I use my parents' family account.
Skype: $18.52/quarterly to maintain a U.S. number and plenty of credit to call anywhere in the world
Phone: $0; work pays
Savings: Nothing right now because I'm focused on killing my debt first. I have my family as a safety net if things get real.

Day One

7:45 a.m. — I wake up 30 minutes before my alarm because my dog is restless. I decide to grab leggings and a sweater and take her out before getting ready. Later, I make the bed, wash my face, and do my three-minute makeup routine (foundation, concealer, curl eyelashes). Luckily, most Catalan women don't wear makeup, so I won't stand out for doing the minimum.

8:35 a.m. — Bike to the train and skip my usual pastry stop today. I've got yogurt at the office and the train takes an hour door to door. (I buy an unlimited metro pass quarterly, but only use it to go to work on the train since I bike everywhere else.) I hate the commute, but watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on my phone and zone out.

9:30 a.m. — At the office, I grab coffee with milk. The coffee is free, but I upgrade to organic and share with a colleague. This week is my turn to pay, $1.50 for the liter. When I'm done, I grab yogurt and add a spoonful of black-cherry-and-dark-chocolate jam from France, a gift from family friends I hosted a few weeks ago. $1.50

1 p.m. — Starving! I spent the morning preparing analytics and weekly reports for my CEO and checking in with my team. It went quickly while I listened to "Your Release Radar" on Spotify. I grab some of my team members and head up to the canteen-style restaurant my work pays for at lunch. The food is always lukewarm and never great, but it's free. I grab disappointing potatoes, a grilled chicken breast, overcooked broccoli, a sparkling water, and two tiny, chocolate-covered profiteroles. Sometimes I think about bringing my own food, but I'd lose the interaction with my colleagues and would spend more money. I'm back at work within 35 minutes. ($10 expensed)

2:30 p.m. — It's someone's birthday, and there's a tradition that the person whose birthday it is brings breakfast pastries. They show up after lunch, but they smell like preservatives and are presented in boxes lined with plastic sheets. I pass and get back to work.

7 p.m. — Whoops! It's 30 minutes past when I should have gone to get my dog. I leave a few things for the morning, slap on the noise-cancelling headphones, and head for the train. My dog has a knee injury right now, and I know she's going to be a handful.

9 p.m. — I have leftover butternut-squash-and-ricotta filling that I made on Sunday afternoon, so I whip up a batch of fresh pasta and roll out sloppy tortelloni. When you know how to make it, it goes pretty fast and is satisfying. I make a small salad with radish, fennel, and lettuce, and while I'm cooking, my boyfriend shows up unexpectedly to join. After dinner, I squeeze in 30 minutes of yoga.

10 p.m. — It's the last hours of Cyber Monday in the States, and I'm headed back for the holidays. I stock up on some of my favorite skincare items I haven't found here, and order a couple of toners from Boscia at a discount. I'm tempted to pick up stuff from Herbivore, but I'm on a tight budget to pay off my credit debt, and I resist since I'm not 100% out of the products yet, and it's only 25% off. $46.95

10:30 p.m. — Last dog walk of the night. I live in the pedestrian historic center and the Christmas lights are already out. They're strung to one of my balconies, in fact. I think about how rent in my neighborhood has gone up 40% in three years, and hope my landlord doesn't raise my rent. I also buy chocolate Häagen-Dazs ice cream in a moment of weakness. I get home and am asleep by midnight. $8

Daily Total: $56.45

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I hit snooze for 10 minutes. I finally get up and do my skincare routine and makeup; I usually shower at night. I don't have to be to work as early today, so I take the pup to our favorite coffee place where she can socialize a bit; she's still not allowed to exercise due to her knee injury. I order two six-ounce flat whites, but use my prepaid card. (It's five coffees for €10 euros, about $12, instead of €2.50 to €3 each.)

10 a.m. — I arrive at work, caffeinated, and grab a yogurt before sitting down to go through email and organize my day. Amazingly, my calendar isn't full of meetings, so I might be able to check off looming tasks on my to-do list. Looks like it will be a good day at work.

1 p.m. — So hungry! At the company canteen again, but I decide to get a 'full meal' today instead of a single plate and pay an extra €1.60 for it. I get fideuà (the Catalan version of paella, but with noodles instead of rice), pork cutlet with vegetables, and a baked apple. My neck is killing me from being at my desk, and I resist booking a massage. $2.15

4:40 p.m. — Need to walk around a bit, so I run down three double-flights of stairs to grab a Kit Kat and back up again. $1

7 p.m. — Made it home and boyfriend is already there visiting with my dog. I kick him out for a bit and do 35 minutes of yoga to unwind after being at my desk. I sit on a ball at work, but it's not enough to avoid serious pain in my thoracic spine. Later, I heat leftover pulled pork with a scoop of polenta and steamed cabbage with carrots. I make fried rice with carrots and cabbage for my boyfriend, who isn't feeling well.

11 p.m. — After we take a nice, calm walk with the pup, I browse the J.Crew sale but don't find anything compelling. We go to bed for the night; my boyfriend will take dog out in the morning so I can sleep in 30 minutes longer. Sweet, sweet sleep.

Daily Total: $3.15

Day Three

10 a.m. — I was up and out the door by 8:45 a.m. today. I grab my usual office breakfast, then dig into my email. I chat with a few other team leaders at our coffee bar about an upcoming organizational meeting.

1 p.m. — I'm starving and spent the last 10 minutes zoned out staring at my dog on the webcam. Head to the company canteen for a lackluster lunch: cold, gray, overcooked cauliflower, weird chicken breast, and watery rice pudding. I can't bring myself to pay out of pocket for something else right now; maybe that'll change if I secure the $20,000 raise I'm after in the next three months.

5 p.m. — My neck is killing me, and I need to get up and walk around. I'm also hungry — another sugar low. I grab vanilla flan (which is sadly tiny, like three ounces) from the café downstairs and use my members' card for a discount. $1.20

6:15 p.m. — Right before I leave work, I take care of Amazon orders that are being delivered to my parents' home for pickup over the holidays. I get biodegradable poop bags for the pup (they aren't a thing here in Barcelona, so I order 270), pure pine incense (no artificial stuff), and two plush dog toys for her to play with over the holidays. I take advantage of the exchange rate, which is in my favor. $39.81

7:30 p.m. — I meet an ex-colleague and friend at a bar near my house, dog in tow. It's cozy and warm inside, and I order a glass of tempranillo while I wait. We end up having another glass, and two tapas, Mahón cheese with membrillo (quince paste) and olives, and pan cristal. I coached him through getting a new job offer recently, which raised his pay 80%, so he treats me — and reveals that a baby is on the way.

9:30 p.m. — Boyfriend meets me at home and eats leftovers. He bought fresh chestnuts, and we cook them in a cast-iron pan; it's one of our favorite winter activities. We've been debating breaking up for two months, and tonight we end up getting into an argument. We've been together a year and a half, and he moved out of my place six weeks ago. Since then, we've been trying to patch it up. He goes home, and I'm actually pretty happy to have my place to myself. I curl up with the dog and breathe because I'll be able to sleep in a little tomorrow; I've negotiated starting at noon on Thursdays. I'm thinking of hitting up boxing and yoga, but I'll probably end up sleeping. I'm asleep by 11:30.

Daily Total: $41.01

Day Four

9 a.m. — I hit snooze from 8 a.m. onwards, and finally rise at 9 because a friend I usually meet at my favorite coffee shop is almost there. I get ready fast and take the pup out to meet my friend. I've prepaid for coffee already, and enjoy a flat white while chatting.

12 p.m. — I decide to work from home today. I shouldn't, but I really need a day without two hours on the train, and my boss is in Madrid. I take the opportunity to run errands around the neighborhood and pick up panettone for the weekend from a nice bakery ($30). When I get home, I order new linen sheets from Latvia on Etsy ($214.97) because my bottom sheet is totally full of holes. I also get two containers of cocoa-lavender dry shampoo ($34.50 for two) from my favorite Etsy store, which I ship home to the States. The two containers will last me most of next year. $279.47

2 p.m. — I make leftovers for lunch, and I'm happy to not be at the company cafeteria. Orange-cinnamon pulled pork, carrots, and cabbage, along with a plain yogurt. I see that my paycheck came through, so I pay my rent on my phone.

5:30 p.m. — I gave the dog walker the day off because I'm home today, even though I pay him in-full at the beginning of each month. I take the pup out again and swing by my waxing place to make an appointment for later in the month, then stop at the restaurant where my company is dining tomorrow for our holiday dinner. I want to make sure all the details are buttoned up, but no one is there yet.

7:30 p.m. — I get a facial and a 30-minute neck-and-shoulder massage at my social club and gym ($165). I need it badly and don't feel bad about treating myself because last month I lived on about €400 due to a big tax payment that was due. My work operates on a Spanish schedule of 14 payments per year, so I'll receive two paychecks this month and all will be fine. I'd prefer the cash every month because I lose the opportunity to invest it this way, but as they say in Spanish, "es lo que hay." $165

10 p.m. — That was so what I needed; my esthetician is awesome, tiny, and French, and she gave me an incredible drainage massage of the face and neck. I'm home and not hungry so I wash my hair, water the dog, and hit the hay. Fridays start extra early here, as most companies do an intensive schedule — 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. — so it's important that I get to sleep early. Plus, tomorrow is our company holiday dinner!

Daily Total: $444.47

Day Five

6:45 a.m. — I slept well! Could use more, but my shoulders and neck feel way better. I'm up, dressed and out with the dog. It's cold! I make a mental note to grab gloves for my commute. I bike to the train.

7:45 a.m. — I buy a new three-month train pass since the old one expired. It's the first of the month, I haven't even paid my dog walker yet, and my account is below €1,000. I planned it that way until my extra salary payment comes in this month, but it still stresses me out.

11 a.m. — There's leftover carrot cake from someone's birthday yesterday, so I grab half a slice. I drank two coffees earlier this morning and ate the rest of my yogurt and jam. Maybe I'll eat yogurt next week, too, and save the €1.35/day I usually spend on a palmier half-dipped in chocolate. A few minutes later, I'm still hungry so I grab chicken curry with rice from the prepared food shop downstairs; no lunch is provided on Fridays since we work a short day. $2.50

2 p.m. — My back and neck are killing me again, so I hole up in a conference room with a high table to change it up. Only an hour or so left, and I have my afternoon free; then, later, there's the company dinner in my neighborhood. (I volunteered to help organize it this year so that I could ensure dinner was near my home.) I check on my dog using the webcam; she hasn't moved. My boyfriend promised to take my pup out for another walk around 11 but never showed up. It's typical for him to be late. When I ask him if he's getting her or not, he starts a fight with me. I ask him if he'll be home later so that I can get my keys back. He insists on dropping them off at my house instead, now. I think it's really over.

4 p.m. — I get home and clean the house. I feel really tired and hope the dinner tonight energizes me. I had too many carbs this afternoon while cleaning — a piece of fresh bread and two candied chestnuts I picked up at an Italian specialty shop on the way home — and I'm now in a sugar low. Wish I had time to work out. $7.13

8 p.m. — One of my employees swings by my place on her way to the restaurant, and we walk over together. I bring a great bottle of wine I've been saving from from a small winery in California and crack it open for the early-comers, my CEO included. It's a nice cocktail hour, and we don't end up sitting down until 9:30 for dinner because some key people are running on Spanish time. Right before the main course, I zip out to my house (four minutes away) and grab my dog to join us. She is a total ham and works the room like a pro!

2 a.m. — That was such a great night! People loved the restaurant I suggested, and the staff did an amazing job of taking care of nearly 30 people at once. It was really special. Two people ducked out early, but everyone else stayed until 1:30, at least! Pup is exhausted. I'm pretty hammered, but I still manage to take my makeup off before slipping into bed.

Daily Total: $9.63

Day Six

10:30 a.m. — I'm awake, but the dog is not. I rouse her because we have a vet appointment today to check on her injured knee and take care of other small things. I grab a flat white on the way ($2.70) from a new café around the corner I hadn't tried yet. My favorite coffee place is closed on the weekends, so it's a good opportunity. At the vet, we have the exam ($17.80); she's healing well, but needs two more weeks of rest. I pick up her preventative monthly meds ($41.60). $62.10

1 p.m. — A hangover is really setting in, but the market closes at 3 today and won't be open tomorrow, so I head out to pick up the week's groceries. I drop my recycling in the bins and pick up cash to pay my dog walker for this month. (Less than normal, $135 this month, since we're traveling some and have some bank holidays.) At the market, I pick up a whole chicken ($11.84); a piece of organic steak to use in a vegetable stir fry ($9.50); eggs ($2.85 for six); a small piece of goat cheese ($2.21), and plain yogurt ($2.08 for four). I already have all the veggies I need at home from my bimonthly farm box that arrived last week, which is usually €26 or about $30. $28.48

3 p.m. — In a moment of weakness, I take the pup and get a burger from a good spot nearby. My hangover is demanding it. Thankfully, it's fairly easy to find a good hamburger in Barcelona, while I can't say the same for the rest of Europe. The line is horrendous, but they know me and sneak my order through the pickup line. I take it home to eat and get ready to meet a friend in another neighborhood. $10.10

4 p.m. — I grab my bike and cruise to the neighborhood of Sant Antoni to meet a friend I haven't seen in a while. We get a tea ($1.78) and chat, and make our way to an artisanal fermentation shop that opened recently. I buy lacto-fermented veggies, their house "live" olive mix, and a big kombucha to sip on this week ($30.05). My stomach has been really weird and bloated lately, and I'm trying to incorporate living foods into my diet again. I used to make the stuff myself when I lived in San Francisco but don't have a good set up for it in my tiny kitchen. $31.83

7:30 p.m. — A friend pops over before an "Eat Art" dinner she's going to nearby. I'm still off alcohol and on kombucha. I make my friend a vermouth with live olives, and we chat for an hour about our recent breakups. I'm exhausted, and when she leaves I take the pup for a final evening walk and am in bed by 9:30. It takes forever to fall asleep because my central heater broke on Friday, and the space heater isn't cutting it. Landlord says he's on it Monday morning.

Daily Total: $132.41

Day Seven

8:45 a.m. — I'm tired, but can't sleep more; it's freezing in my apartment. I decide to venture out with the pup. We head to the park, and I let her sniff everything since she still can't go off leash or run; vet's orders. After half an hour, we make our way to the best bakery around, and I have a café con leche and a mascarpone croissant. As I pay, I see several missed calls from my ex. I call him on my way home, and he asks to see me. I agree to meet him mid-afternoon to walk the dog, so he can visit with her, and we can avoid being in my house. $4.75

11 a.m. — Time to cook for the week! My friend E. pops over with ingredients I've forgotten, and refuses to let me pay for them. We make chicken tikka masala, chicken stock (which I freeze to use later for soups, risotto, polenta, etc.), and a beef-veggie stir fry. We eat some of the stir fry, take the dog for a walk, and pick up dessert while we're out (tiramisu and carrot cake, €3 each). She pays and leaves around 1. I send her home with a portion of the chicken tikka masala.

2 p.m. — Pup and I head out to meet the ex for a walk. It's a hard couple of hours, and we almost walk away from each other a few times. I don't typically argue, but he has really brought it out in me. He is Portuguese, and there are definitely differences in our communication. On the way back towards the neighborhood, we each buy pizzetta at a new Italian place that opened on my street. The pizzetta is okay and gives me the carbs I was craving after a beef-and-veggie only lunch. We part ways with a hug, but he's been crying off and on. I always loved that about him — that he's never been afraid to let his emotions surface. I never met his mom, but I imagine she's a good woman. I head home around 4 and snuggle the pup, trying to get warm. $1.18

7:15 p.m. — Ex texts me and asks if he can stop by the house a few minutes. I think about it for a while and eventually agree, with the stipulation that if he gets angry or upset, he has to take a walk immediately, and that he needs to bring over a space heater to help warm my place up. He shows up around 8, and I make pasta puttanesca with groceries I already have: good quality spaghetti, the last of the jarred fancy tuna from my company's Christmas basket gift, the last of the anchovies, the last of the capers, and the last of the tomato paste. There's more crying, but we part on good terms and he seems to have more clarity now. I'm his first girlfriend ever, and he's 30, so I find myself having to be pretty clear about what I expect to be different moving forward.

10:30 p.m. — Ex leaves and takes the cozy heater with him. I wash my hair and crawl into bed by 11:30.

Daily Total: $5.93

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