A Week In Madrid On An $800/Month Scholarship

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennial women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar. (Thanks, New York mag, for the inspiration.)

Today, a developmental studies intern from Guatemala, getting her masters in Madrid and finishing her thesis.
Photo: Getty Images.
Industry: Development Studies
Age: 25
Location: Madrid
Paycheck amount: ~$837.64 is the scholarship fee I get each month to cover cost of living. (I use my savings for non-essentials like trips, concerts, and clothes.)
# of roommates: two guys, both Spanish.

Monthly Expenses
Rent: ~$301. I found this apartment because a friend of mine is dating my roommate’s best friend. My room is small and pretty basic, but it’s got all I need, and it’s in a decent, central area. The metro and bus are within walking distance. I have a strict policy of not using cabs unless it’s totally worth it, because it’s expensive, and most of the time I can cover distances with public transport. I walk a lot, since I don’t go to the gym or practice any sports here.
Loan Payments: None
Utilities: We split the bill three ways, so it’s usually $33-$44 in bills (gas, water, and electricity) plus $13.40 for internet. I share my Netflix account with my family (my dad pays).
Transportation: $22.34 a month for unlimited metro and bus use. (This rate is valid until you’re 26). $11.17 a month for using the shared city bicycles, which are great now that the weather is
Phone Bill: $16.75
Health Insurance: Covered by my scholarship
Donations: $13.40 a month to NGO helping Syrian refugees.

Day One

8 a.m. — Get up at 8 a.m., internship starts at 10 a.m. Have breakfast at home, which means a bowl of cereal, a slice of toast with olive oil and edam cheese, and coffee or OJ. Today it's coffee. Pack snacks for the morning (I’m constantly hungry): a peach, a muesli bar, and some dried cranberries.

3 p.m. — Meet my two best friends for lunch. We’re celebrating; we all got our theses approved this week and have been craving pizza for a few days. We eat two carbonara pizzas. $6.71

4:30 p.m. — It’s been awfully hot these past few days. Just walking down the street is torture, so we decide to reward ourselves further and go looking for an ice cream shop I spotted a few days ago and wanted to try in the district of Malasaña. We take forever deciding, because the flavors look so good. They get a pineapple, lime, and mango pop; I get cranberries and hibiscus. $3.35

6 p.m. — After six months of nonstop cold and rain and blizzards, my wardrobe needs some serious updates for this weather, and since we’re in a rewarding mood, we stop by Mango’s Outlet. We lose ourselves for about two hours in there. The discounts are really good. I buy a dress, a shirt, a pair of pants, a tank top, and a belt for €35. We keep walking and spot a cute shoe store, I go in looking for some wedge sandals and find ones I like, but they haven’t got any left in my size. I go home and eat more ice cream for dinner because I’m still full of pizza. $39.12

Daily Total: $49.18

Day Two

8 a.m. — Breakfast is the same as yesterday, except instead of cereal, it’s a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and honey. (I finished the cereal yesterday.) I get this weird comfort from eating the same breakfast every day. I pack a banana, some dried cranberries, and a muesli bar.

10 a.m. — Internship hours, pretty much the same as yesterday.

3 p.m. — Go home for lunch. I whip up my lazy food: a bowl of brown rice and quinoa with broccoli,
grilled chicken, mushrooms, some parsley, and lime. I’m planning a trip to see my sister,
who’s living in the south of Spain, so I book the rental car we’ll be using when I’m there. (Unusual purchase!) $72.64

8 p.m. — A friend from Mexico is in town for work, so we agree to meet later for drinks. I ask her to
let me know when she’s in her hotel so I can pick her up, but she’s pretty late, so I wander around, window-shopping because I need a new bikini. We go to the Mercado de San Ildefonso with her coworker and order cañas and tinto de verano (red summer wine). My friend pays for the first round. We keep talking and talking and talking; we have a lot of catching up to do! Her coworker pays for the second round, and I get the last one and some patatas bravas (potatoes with spicy sauce) for all of us. $17.88

11 p.m. — We leave San Ildefonso with a slight buzz, but it’s only 11 p.m., so we decide to walk around to show my friend some other parts of Madrid. Her coworker decides to call it a day, so we go off
by ourselves. We walk all over, stop in another bar for some more tinto de verano, and then
finally just buy a bottle of water each (€3 euros for the wine and €1 for the water). $4.47

1:30 a.m. — I finally drop her off at her hotel and catch the last subway home.

Daily Total: $94.99

Day Three

7 a.m. — I wake up way too early, with a slight hangover. I’m pondering going back to sleep, but my boyfriend texts me, and we decide to talk. He has been super busy at work lately, and the time difference (eight freaking hours) makes it hard to find time to talk. It’s almost midnight for him, but we talk for about two hours. I’ve missed him. I eat breakfast after, same story, but with yogurt because I'm out of milk.

9 a.m. — I’m running out of food, so I decide to go grocery shopping before starting work. Going to the grocery store is my main workout, since I have to carry all the stuff I buy while walking back to my apartment. I get plain cereal, skim milk, some bananas, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, quinoa, cookies, yogurt, some Iberico ham, fresh bread, chips, and hummus. $20.12

2 p.m. — I got an offer yesterday to review and translate some documents, so I plan to work on that today. The pay is good, €120 for two documents, because they need them ready ASAP. I eat some hummus and cheese for lunch while working.

6 p.m. — My roommates are both Spanish, and this weekend, they’re both in their hometowns (almost nobody who lives in Madrid is actually from Madrid), so I’ve got the apartment to myself and my best friends are coming over. My friends arrive, and we decide on sushi and sangria. We walk over to a great sushi place that’s near my apartment, and to a mini market to buy the stuff to make sangria. We order some rolls, gyozas, and spicy-sweet sesame chicken to go. One of my friends has recently broken up with her longtime (six years!) boyfriend, and this is our girls-night/recovery session, so obviously we need ice cream. We pick up some Häagen-Dazs on our way home. We split all the costs. $16.76

7 p.m. — We make way too much sangria, so we get kind of tipsy, eat sushi, watch Gone Girl (to suck out the feeling that a happy relationship is possible), and talk our ears off until 3 a.m.

Daily Total: $36.88

Day Four

10 a.m. — We wake up late and make pancakes for breakfast. Then we head over to El Rastro, Madrid’s most renowned flea market. We walk around for about an hour, looking at antique
lamps, coins, keys, and everything else you can think of, not buying anything until we spot a
used-books stand. I rummage through the piles and finally buy a book for €1. Score! We head back to my place because it’s way too hot, drink the last of the sangria we made, watch some trash TV, and then they head home. $1.12

2 p.m. — I spend the rest of the day in a heat daze, make a cucumber-tomato salad, and keep working on the documents. They have cut the deadline by a day, so I’ve got to step it up. I make some scrambled eggs for dinner and go to sleep early.

Daily Total: $1.12

Day Five

8 a.m. — Breakfast. Cereal, toast, and coffee again.

10 a.m. — Internship hours, with my break food again: a banana, some chips, and a lot of water. It’s way too hot today.

3 p.m. — I go out to lunch in a bar nearby. I order some pinchos (small slices of bread with different stuff on them), two salmon ones and another with tomato and mushrooms, and a beer. Everyone drinks beer here, any hour, any day. $7.82

4:30 p.m. — I meet up with some classmates to print our theses. We have to turn in three hard copies and one digital copy in a CD. We get a discount at the printers if we’re a group. The man at the store tells us he’ll have them ready tomorrow, since they need to be bound. We’ll pay when we pick them up. I head home on the bus and commit myself to finishing the documents.

8 p.m. — I watch the Spanish electoral debate on TV while eating dinner, which is some noodle soup that my roommate brought, and more water. This heat is driving me crazy.

Daily Total: $7.82

Day Six

8 a.m. — Eat breakfast at home again. The only variation is that today, I feel like coffee on my way to the internship, so I stop by a coffee shop and have a small black coffee with skim milk and buy two cookies. $2.79

10 a.m. — Crazy morning at the office. I eat my packed snacks and leave a little late. I have to go pick up the hard copies of my thesis from the printers, plus finish the documents before 7 p.m. The people I’m working for are in another time zone, so they need them by that time.

3:30 p.m. — I get to the printer’s, and it’s closed. Funny Spanish schedules — it seems I’ll never get the hang of them. A lot of places close between 2 and 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon for “lunch.” After a year here, this still happens to me way too much. As I have not had lunch, I decide to go eat something myself while waiting. I stop by a café that offers a salad, an olive-and-prosciutto panini, and a beverage for €6. I eat slowly and wait for 4:30. It’s totally normal for someone here to order just a cup of coffee and stay for two hours in a place, so I’m not bothered by anyone. $6.71

4:30 p.m. — Finally. I practically open the shop alongside the owner. One of my classmates arrives soon after, and we pick up our theses. I’m so excited to see the hard copy, after so many months of poring over my laptop, it’s like my baby’s born! I pay for the three copies and the CD, I’ll have to turn it in tomorrow, because the university stops admitting the documents at 4 p.m. It’s crazy with these schedules, I tell you. $42.47

5:30 p.m. — I get home and treat myself to some ice cream I bought about two weeks ago and had forgotten I had. Then I cram until I finish the documents and send them just in time. Phew! I lounge around a bit, watching Netflix and half dozing off. I eat a banana with peanut butter and some hummus and chips for dinner, since I’m in low-energy mode.

Daily Total: $51.97

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Same breakfast routine.

10 a.m. — I get to the office and ask my boss if I can leave earlier, so I can get to the university in time. I’ve agreed to meet up with my two best friends, so we can turn in our theses together. It’s silly,
but after suffering all these months together and being each other’s support system, we’re excited. We’re nerds like that. My boss says it’s okay, so I just whizz through all the stuff I have to do.

2 p.m. — I leave for the university. I take the metro and get there in 20 minutes. I meet my friends, and we take a goofy picture with our “babies” before turning them in. It’s done!

3 p.m. — I have lunch with my friends in a café near the University. We have been going there all year, and now it feels weird to know it’s all coming to an end. I order a pasta salad with sun-dried tomatoes and olives, a small cup of fruit, and an iced tea. $9.50

5 p.m. — I wander a bit on my way home. It’s not good for my budget to live so near Gran Via, the
street where all shops are. I browse a bit in H&M and decide to get a bikini for when I visit my
sister. But I remember I’ve got a coupon at home, so I hold the thought for another day. These
days, I’m starting to shop for stuff I want to take home, since it’s my last month here. I get
some pants that are on sale at another store, and some sunglasses. $31.29

6 p.m. — I stop by the market down the street for some bread and a six-pack; my roommates and I are watching a game tonight at home. Cherry season has started, so I also pick up a tray. $10.06

Daily Total: $50.85
Editor's note: All prices have been converted from euros to dollars. Money Diaries are meant to reflect individual women’s experiences and do not necessarily reflect Refinery29’s point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.

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