A Week In Buenos Aires, Argentina On A $14,000 Salary

Photographed by Rachel Cabitt.

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.
This week: a freelance writer who makes $14,000 per year and spends it on an Airbnb in Mexico and weed brownies.
Occupation: Freelancer
Industry: Online Content Writing
Age: 22
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Salary: ~$14,000
Paycheck (Once a week): ~$300, but it varies since I work freelance jobs that aren't always consistent.
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $900 rent split with my boyfriend. He pays $550; I pay $350. It's a one-bedroom and all utilities are included in the rent.
Loan Payments: I'm currently $20,000 deep in student debt, but I deferred it for a year because of my unreliable income.
Health Insurance: Health insurance is free in Argentina, so if I ever need anything I go to the public hospital and it's paid for.
Savings: I just graduated from college last year, so unfortunately I'm not in savings mode yet.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Netflix: My boyfriend and I are on his parents' plan.
Hulu: I still use my family's plan.
Spotify: $5.99 student account
Cell Phone: ~$10/month, pay-as-you-go. (Yay for cheap South American data!)
Apartment Cleaning Service: $40 a month
Transportation: ~$10/month on my metro and bus card, not including the occasional Uber
1 of 8
9:20 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I find myself dozing back to sleep. The freelancer lifestyle has made me incredibly lazy. I wake up but can't find the willpower to get out of bed, so I scroll through Instagram for an embarrassingly long amount of time.

10 a.m. — My boyfriend, the sweetest dude in the world, makes me breakfast and brings it to me in bed. It's two eggs and fresh spinach, just how I like it. I continue to scroll.

12 p.m. — After eating breakfast in bed and catching up on my Instagram feed, I make myself a pot of coffee. Making coffee at home instead of indulging in the city's café culture has saved me a lot of money. I would love to say my day starts so late because I'm on “island time,” but Argentina is most definitely not an island, and I'm running out of excuses to validate this lifestyle.

12:15 p.m. — The coffee is brewing and I reluctantly put on my sports bra to do my daily Pilates YouTube video. I recently started a 30-day Pilates challenge so I don't have to pay for a gym membership. It's Day Five and I've been sticking to it pretty well so far. It's probably because the videos are always under 15 minutes and Robin, the woman who leads them, is so nice it's hard to hate her even when she makes me hold a lunge until my legs burn. When it's over I hop in the shower.

2:30 p.m. — Thursdays are the days our cleaning woman comes. Her name is Andrea and she's super nice. I was against having a cleaning service at first, but the apartment we landed said it was required. Now I can't imagine my life without Andrea. Needless to say, Thursdays are my favorite day of the week.

3 p.m. — The BF and I head out and leave Andrea to do her thing in peace. We usually go to a café and work, but today I have a strong hankering for ice cream thanks to a particularly bad bout of PMS. We go to an amazing artisanal ice cream shop a few blocks from our house called Cibiani. I get a scoop of the Kinder flavor, a scoop of chocolate mousse, and a bottle of water. I'm in heaven. I don't know if it's the Italian influence or the oversupply of cows, but the ice cream in Argentina is amazing. $6

4 p.m. — The BF picked up empanadas from our favorite empanada store, and then we head off to the botanical gardens to chow down. After we eat, we walk around for a little bit until a bird accidentally poops on the BF's head. I can't stop laughing; he's anything but amused. We rush to a nearby Subway so he can wash it off in the bathroom.

6 p.m. — After the bird poop is successfully washed off, we swing by a fruit stand to buy bananas. Then we head to the tiny bodega by our house to buy some essentials. We end up getting two rolls of toilet paper, toothpaste, bread, two bottles of wine, and a bar of chocolate. PMS is not a friend to my wallet. The total is $22; my share is half of that since we split all groceries evenly. $11

8 p.m. — There is nothing better in than coming home to a magically cleaned apartment that smells like fresh lemons. I decide to sit out on our patio for once, now that it's clean, and get some writing done. Some days I work more than others; today I'm making up for slacking off.

10 p.m. — Dinner in Argentina is always late, even on a weekday, but we've grown accustomed to it. I cook some frozen salmon and broccoli in the oven for dinner. We already had it in our freezer from a previous grocery haul.

12 a.m. — We watch the latest episode of Designated Survivor and end up going down an endless spiral of YouTube videos on the Roku. We finally go to bed just before 2 a.m.

Daily Total: $17
2 of 8
11 a.m. — Get out of bed and make peanut butter and banana toast for me and the BF. You don't realize how much your life depends on peanut butter until you leave the U.S. and realize no other country has it. Luckily, when my family came to visit a couple weeks ago, they brought two giant, Costco-sized jars that almost got them stuck at customs. They're the best.

12 p.m. — Pilates video and a much-needed shower.

3 p.m. — I get to work writing some blogs for a furniture business I work for. Coming up with 500 words on the benefits of ergonomic office furniture gives me a headache and leaves me feeling sluggish. I take a coffee break.

5 p.m. — It's actually nice outside today. We've had record-breaking heat for the past couple of weeks, and then all of sudden the last couple of days have been really cold. Today is a nice 70 degrees, so I take this opportunity to work outside on our patio.

7 p.m. — Our Argentine friend comes over to hang out since it's Saturday. He just scored some really nice weed — apparently a difficult thing to do in this country — so we decide to bake it into some brownies. My boyfriend and I split the cost of the weed. $35

10 p.m. — We sit on the patio, play cards, smoke a joint, and sip on some mate, a traditional Argentine tea that people drink out of a special cup and straw. It has a crazy amount of caffeine, probably the reason that the people here never sleep. Over an hour has passed since we ate the brownies and we're beginning to realize that maybe we did something wrong in the baking process. We're all kind of bummed so we decide to go get some beers and empanadas, and hang out at the park instead.

11 p.m. — The second day in a row that we've gone to our favorite empanada place. I get two cheese and onion as usual and two cans of a Dutch beer I really like. $6

12 a.m. — We eat the empanadas long before we get to the park. When we get there it's deserted because everyone's probably at bars and clubs like normal people. We smoke another joint, drink the beer we bought, and throw a frisbee around. It's a good time.

2 a.m. — Walk home and pass out with the BF.

Daily Total: $41
3 of 8
11:30 a.m. — I let myself sleep in today because it's my mother-effing birthday! I have a mini-existential crisis upon waking up when I realize that I'm now 22. This isn't exactly where I saw myself at 22 when I was in high school, but I'm cool with it. The BF makes me a breakfast of eggs and toast because he really is the best. Then he mysteriously leaves to go “get something.” My suspicions and hopes are high.

12:30 p.m. — He comes back with a chocolate cake from our favorite bakery a couple blocks away! We immediately devour half of it and have to lie in bed because our stomachs hurt so much.

2 p.m. — I FaceTime my dad and little sister back at home. They wish me a happy birthday, and I get a little sad that I can't be there with them. I cheer back up again when I remember where I decided to go for my birthday. A super-cool artist from Berlin just opened an exhibit this past Friday at the MAMBA (Modern Art Museum of Buenos Aires). He spent three months letting hundreds of spiders make webs in an exhibit room in the museum, then he removed all the spiders and opened it to the public. I'm probably way more excited about going to this than I should be.

4 p.m. — We accidentally walk into the museum next door called the MACBA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and spend nearly an hour looking at the cool art and trying to figure out where the spiders are. We finally give up and decide to ask the security guard. He laughs and tells us to go next door. $4

6 p.m. — We find the right museum and have to buy more tickets, but the BF pays this time. All of the exhibits are wonderful but especially “How to Trap the Universe in a Spider Web.” It was equal parts creepy and beautiful. It has been raining all day, so walking around outside isn't the best option, but we're starving. We walk to a Mexican restaurant that's only four blocks away. It's one of the only good Mexican restaurants in probably the entire country; my boyfriend treats.

9 p.m. — After some excellent chips and guac, a giant vegetarian burrito, and the best margarita I've had outside the U.S., I come home and lapse into a food coma. Consider me satisfied. I post a cute picture the BF took on Insta in honor of my 22nd and settle in for a long night of Netflix And Chill.

1 a.m. — Finally head to bed after responding to all my Facebook birthday wishes (a personal pet peeve of mine is when people don't respond) and binge-watching Orphan Black. It was a good day.

Daily Total: $4
4 of 8
11 a.m. — Let myself sleep in again because it's the day after my birthday, and I deserve it. Oh, the ways I try to justify my laziness. I probably would have slept in longer, but my boyfriend got me a surprise massage appointment with a woman he knows. It's at 3 p.m. and takes about half an hour to get there on the bus.

1 p.m. — I've showered, eaten breakfast, and responded to some emails. I've decided to take today and yesterday off of my 30-day Pilates challenge because, again, it's my birthday. I promise to catch up during the coming week.

3:10 p.m. — It's pouring outside, so I'm running about 10 minutes late to my massage appointment because I decided to take the bus. She's super chill and zen about the whole thing. It turns out she lived in the U.S. for 10 years and is currently having serious boyfriend troubles that I try to help her work through. $0.50

5 p.m. — The massage lasted for an hour and was pure bliss. She yanked, stretched, and pulled every part of my body. My muscles feel like Jell-O, in a good way. I promise her I'll go home and relax for the rest of the day, and that's exactly what I do.

7 p.m. — I probably should have worked more today, but sometimes you've got to treat yourself. The BF and I get hungry and eat the other half of the amazingly delicious chocolate cake he bought yesterday.

9 p.m. — When our stomachs stop hating us, I decide to cook up one of my classic dishes: Mexican-style quinoa and brown rice with onions, spinach, red peppers, corn, cumin, and a whole lot of cilantro. It's delicious.

10 p.m. — I pour myself a glass of my favorite white wine that we already had in the fridge, roll a joint, and sneak in the bathroom to smoke it. Our landlord lives right above us and he's kind of a strict old Argentine man, so I don't really want to raise any suspicions.

11 p.m. — The BF and I watch Netflix for the rest of the night and then pass out in bed as usual.

Daily Total: $0.50
5 of 8
10:20 a.m. — I wake up at a decent time because when it's two days after your birthday, you have to accept the reality that it's over. I get out of bed and make eggs and toast for the BF and me. I make sure to get in some quality Instagram scrolling before I actually start the day.

12 p.m. — I decide to get back into the Pilates video routine, despite my poor aching quads. I keep telling myself that there is food at the end of the workout, but it doesn't do much to help my motivation. I finally manage to make my way through the routine and then take a shower.

2 p.m. — Tuesdays are my weekly due dates for a blogging team I'm on. Since I've seriously slacked off for the past couple of days, I get my butt in the desk chair and start furiously typing away before our weekly meeting starts. I make a pot of coffee to help speed along the process. The meeting goes pretty well and we catch up on my boss' recent trip to Canada and talk about future projects. I barely get my work in on time.

8 p.m. — It's pouring again; this autumn weather sucks. After working all afternoon, the BF and I decide to try a new ramen bar in the hip part of town. We Uber because it's gross outside and we're both pretty tired. I offer to pay since it really was my idea. $8.25

9 p.m. — We get to the noodle bar right as it opens. Then we look at the menu and realize it's cash only, like a lot of restaurants in Buenos Aires. We quickly count our cash because there's no way we're venturing out to find an ATM in the tsunami that's currently outside. It looks like we have just enough, so we order. We end up getting one bowl of vegetarian ramen to share, and an order of steamed bao buns each. I also order a craft beer. Everything is amazing. They even have Sriracha sauce on the table, which is a godsend because Argentines are notorious for hating spicy foods. I will definitely come back here, with more cash next time. $35

12 a.m. — After getting home, we have a small late-night work sesh, watch an episode of Damages on the Roku, and head off for a good night's rest.

Daily Total: $43.25
6 of 8
10:20 a.m. — Wake up to no food in the entire house. This sucks. At least it looks like the torrential weekend of downpour has finally lifted. The BF and I make a note to take a trip to the grocery store later today. Breakfast consists of peanut butter and bananas on crackers because that's literally all we have in the kitchen. I can't complain though; it's tasty and fills me up.

11:30 a.m. — You guessed it: Pilates video and a post-workout shower.

4 p.m. — We are both ready for a work break and decide to get dressed and go on the hunt for food. We head to the local grocery store chain, Disco, a couple blocks away and get a lot of food since we are basically out of everything. We get olive oil, eggs, various spices (I score some delicious-looking curry), bread, rice, quinoa, frozen veggies, frozen salmon, frozen fruit, canned tuna, corn, chickpeas, tomato sauce, cheese, mayo, salsa, coffee, crackers, pasta, paper towels, conditioner, and hair cream. This should last us for dinner for the next week or so, since we eat most of our meals at home. The total is about $120 and we split it in half. $60

5 p.m. — After trips to the grocery store, we always head to the fruit and vegetable stand by our house to buy all our fresh produce. It's cheaper and more local than buying it from the grocery store, plus the guy who works there really likes us and call us his “niños.” We pick up some bananas, onions, garlic, red bell peppers, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and lemons. The price of food just keeps going up in Argentina thanks to the economy. $25

7 p.m. — After we get home and put all the groceries away, we start to do some research for our upcoming trip to Mexico City. After living in Buenos Aires for almost six months, we're leaving in about five weeks to go Mexico City before heading back home to the States for the summer. We lie in bed and research the best neighborhoods, and end up booking an adorable and surprisingly cheap apartment in a great location. It's right by a metro stop and a taco place! Double score. The total for the entire place is $450 for two weeks. We split the cost. $225

9 p.m. — I throw some of the potatoes, carrots, and broccoli we bought from the fruit stand into the oven for dinner. They're tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. I love making roasted veggies because they're an incredibly easy, healthy, and yummy meal. It's a win for everybody.

11 p.m. — We work for a little bit more and then watch some travel vlogs on the Roku about Mexico City. I make mental notes about all the great places to eat at when we're there. I love Argentine food, but there's only so much pasta and empanadas one person can eat. I also buy my boyfriend Aziz Ansari's Modern Love audiobook as a three-year anniversary present, because tomorrow's the big day. $15

2 a.m. — We stay up too late watching YouTube and daydreaming about our future travels. We turn off the lights and hit the hay. We've got a full day planned for our anniversary tomorrow, should be exciting!

Daily Total: $325
7 of 8
10 a.m. — Wake up bright and early to get some work done before we head off to the anniversary surprise activities that we've planned for each other. I'm taking the BF to a swanky rooftop bar in one of the fanciest hotels in the city. We would never be able to afford a room there, but that doesn't mean we can't pretend like we can. I have no idea where he's taking me, but I hope there's chocolate wherever we go. We eat peanut butter banana toast for breakfast and I make a pot of coffee.

12 p.m. — We planned our day around when Andrea, our cleaning lady, was going to come, but we get a text saying that she quit. Normally we would be annoyed at this kind of thing, but that's just how stuff works in South America. People quit with 10 minutes' notice, and nobody even blinks an eye. Oh well. The BF and I decide to tackle some of our mess before heading out for lunch.

3 p.m. — After doing the dishes and sweeping the floors, the BF and I exchange anniversary presents. Along with the audiobook, I made him a cute drawing of our favorite empanada place so he can remember it when we leave. He surprised me with George Saunders' new book that he ordered from the U.S. (true love!) and roses. He's the actual best. We head off to a fancy Jewish restaurant for lunch. They give us free bagels, which I'm stoked about, but the food is terrible and overpriced ($65). So much for a nice anniversary lunch. At least the service was good. My BF pays.

5 p.m. — We hop on a bus and head to the BF's surprise activity: a tour of the Palacio Barolo, a famous building in Buenos Aires inspired by Dante's Inferno. We've been meaning to take the tour because you get an incredible view from the top. The tour is super interesting and long. We see the beautiful building and make it all the way to the glass lighthouse on top where there are breathtaking, 360-degree views of the city. Best anniversary surprise ever! $0.50

7 p.m. — We're on a bus heading to a swanky rooftop bar. I ruin the surprise and tell the BF where we're going, because I forgot how scared of heights he is until we got to the top of the Palacio. The bar is on the roof, and I don't want him to freak out when we get there. He says he thinks he can handle it. Off we go! $0.50

9 p.m. — It's a little chilly on the roof, but the views are great. There are a lot of Americans here, talking about their recent business trips. Such tourists. The BF orders a mint julep, and I order the bar's signature cocktail that has gin, sake, and strawberry juice. Sounds interesting. We also order two sandwiches because we're starving. It's a pretty expensive place, but that was to be expected considering the fancy hotel it's on top of. They actually filmed an episode of The Bachelorette Season 12 with JoJo here, crazy!

10:30 p.m. — We order two more mint juleps. It's been almost an hour, and our sandwiches haven't come, so the waiter offers us one of our drinks on the house. Sweet! We're both pretty drunk and having a good time. Our sandwiches finally come and we scarf them down. I foot the bill for this one since it it's my anniversary surprise. We leave after finishing our drinks and head to a bakery that's around the corner. $65

11 p.m. — We get to the bakery right before it closes. The lady is less than pleased that we're both drunk and taking a long time to pick out the perfect tiny chocolate pastries we want to take home. We end up getting an entire half-kilo box of them. I pay. $7

12 a.m. — We drunkenly eat the entire box of pastries on the bus ride home. We try to watch Netflix when we get back, but we're both too drunk and just pass out instead. I can tell I'm going to feel this one tomorrow. $0.50

Daily Total: $138.50
8 of 8
Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.

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