A Week In Paris, France, On An $80,000 Salary

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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.
Today: a fragrance evaluator who makes $80,000 per year. She spends some of her money this week on two coats and ballet classes.
Occupation: Fragrance Evaluator
Industry: Fragrance & Beauty
Age: 24
Location: Paris
Salary: $80,000
Paycheck (2x/month): $1,730 after healthcare, savings, Roth 401(k), and New York MetroCard deductions
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $0 right now. My company is paying for me to be in Paris for three months, and I sub-letted my place back in NYC.
Loan Payments: None. I paid them off in my first two years after graduating.
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All Other Monthly Expenses
Gym Fee: $30 to freeze my Equinox membership
Gym Membership: $35 Paris gym membership
Spotify: $9.99
TheSkimm App: $2.99
Renters Insurance: $20.84
iPhone: $32.41
Phone Bill: $55 with AT&T
Roth 401(k): I put in the highest match amount: 6%.
Regular Savings: $600/month. (Eventually, about half of this goes into my other regular Roth IRA/Individual account.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — My best friend is in town visiting me until Sunday! It's a random holiday in France today so I get to spend it with her. I get a quick workout in before she arrives and greet her as her Uber gets to my apartment. We take the metro into Le Marais and get some French bread in her system. We split a cheese and meats plate (yes, we're well aware it's only 10:30 a.m., but it was on the petit dejeuner menu so I don't feel weird ordering it), pain perdu (a.k.a. French toast, which was to die for), a baguette with jam and butter, and I can't not order a cappuccino. I've been in Paris for a month now, and it was the perfect time to get a dose of my closest friend from home. $17.78
12:30 p.m. — After brunch, we walk around Le Marais and head to the Picasso Museum. Luckily for me, I have dual citizenship — American and French — and since I'm still under 26 with an EU passport I get all the perks of the free museums. Unluckily for my friend, she still has to pay.
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3 p.m. — My friend was battling a virus the week before. With the jet lag and no sleep on the plane, she's starting to wear down. We stop at a café and order espressos and French onion soup, because of course. Funnily enough, we spot another friend from New York walking by the restaurant who is also visiting this week. We stop and chat. I get to expense this because I get a €150 stipend a week from my job as part of my three-month exchange in Paris. ($16.60 expensed)
4 p.m. — We stop into a boutique that has gently-worn designer clothes for less money. I end up trying on a navy Maje skirt that still has the tag on it and is grossly marked down, despite no one wearing it. I love these stores. I also have a weakness for anything navy. It's cash only and luckily I have the exact amount. My friend contemplates buying a lightly-worn Alexander McQueen sleeveless leather jacket, but I advise her that she could probably find something similar for a lot less elsewhere. She passes, but still thinks about the jacket later. $55
4:30 p.m. — Directly next door is another designer, gently-used store. I know I'm in trouble as soon as I walk in. I've been searching for a shearling coat for years and find one for only €200. My friend deliberates between a cheetah coat, a long, suede, trench-like coat, and an emerald green peacoat. She has an eclectic, but amazing sense of style. I end up finding another coat that is much more practical — a winter puffer by Patagonia. And it's in navy. Although I bought a coat this weekend, I kept the tags on because I wasn't sure of it. In the end, I rationalize that since the shearling and Patagonia coats together are the same price as the one I bought a few days ago, I will return the other one. Score! Two coats for the price of one, and the shearling is very unique. My friend ends up buying the cheetah coat, and naturally I feel less guilty. $408.02
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6:30 p.m. — With our wallets in mourning, we opt to do a casual dinner at home tonight. Being in Paris, I have three different cheeses left in my fridge and grapes. We opt to buy a baguette, a dip, prosciutto, and a pastry and almond croissant to split. My friend buys and we head home for the night and make a killer cheese and meat plate, followed by splitting our desserts. Treat yo' self.
Daily Total: $480.80

Day Two

6:35 a.m. — Alarm goes off so I head to the gym. I know these next few days with my friends visiting will result in a lot of indulging. I sneak out quietly to avoid waking up my jet-lagged friend who is still sleeping. Post workout, I head home, shower, change and eat petit-suisse yogurt (THE BEST) with strawberry jam and a glass of OJ. I head out for work as my friend gets ready, awaiting our other friend who is arriving soon.
12:30 p.m. — I have a lunch with someone I met this morning by the espresso machine. She seems nice and is here for an internship. My friend from work comes along with us. I buy a lentil salad and yogurt for dessert, resisting any of the other tempting delicious desserts. It seems like Paris' biggest meal is always lunch. People typically have a soup, sandwich, and dessert — very different from my Chopt/Sweetgreen salad life back in NYC. I fully embrace it, except for today since I'm anticipating the big dinner I'll have later with my friends. ($12.27 expensed)
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6:45 p.m. — Finally get out of work to meet my friends. I told them I'd get out at 6 p.m. sharp, but made the mistake of politely asking my boss if she needed anything else and ended up evaluating and smelling fragrances for 45 minutes. I adore my job, but am eager to meet my friends, as the second one visiting me arrived today and I hadn't seen him yet! I hop on the metro to meet them at the restaurant. $1.80
7:15 p.m. — YES! We got a table. I've been wanting to try this place, as it was on many of my friends' lists, but it's walk-in only. As I arrive, my friends are bickering about how they have different tastes on the wine. They rely on me to pick a bottle. We end up with something we all like. Phew. We're big splitters, so we split the burrata with caraway seeds, foie gras, pappardelle with lamb, and a cheese plate. Everything is divine. We split another bottle of wine between the two of us; it's Thursday after all and I feel like celebrating that they're here. We end up debating about whether to get just one or two desserts, but I force them to get two: a pear ice cream crumble (the waitress said was her favorite) and a decadent chocolate cake. YUM. Probably didn't need the secnd bottle of wine, or the second dessert for that matter, but c'est la vie? $73.63
11:15 p.m. — We head home on the metro and get ready for bed. Unfortunately, I have to work tomorrow while they get to play around Paris. $1.80
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Daily Total: $77.23

Day Three

8:25 a.m. — I wake up a bit later than normal, but still manage to eat my usual yogurt and strawberry jam and get ready fast enough to arrive to work on time. Luckily, my apartment is only a 10-minute walk from the office. Even though it's Friday, I still like to get to work on time since I'm only here for a few months to ensure I make a good impression. Plus, not like I can use the subway delay excuse...
12:30 p.m. — Go to a creperie for lunch with the daughter of a woman I worked with in the U.S. We end up getting seated downstairs in the restaurant, and the only other two people seated down there are coworkers who we are friendly with, so we end up combining tables. It's nice to hang out with them and we discuss office gossip and our plans are for the weekend. I get to expense it as part of my weekly stipend while working here. ($16.37 expensed)
5:15 p.m. — Had some time to kill at work, so I checked out some new online shopping websites. I found an awesome pair of sneakers for $55, and an oversized denim jacket I've been eager to lock down for only $30. Definitely don't need either, but they're a good deal so I decide to go for it anyways. During checkout I realize it only ships to the U.S. I think of them as a welcome-back gift to myself for when I return to New York after my exchange. I tend to rationalize purchases like these in this manner. At least I'm not paying rent for these three months. $85.80
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6:15 p.m. — Meet my friends back at my apartment and we decide to chill for a bit before our dinner reservation instead of hitting up a happy hour. After getting ready, we take the metro around 8:45 p.m. and stop at a cool speakeasy-type of cocktail bar across the street from the restaurant. Each drink is crafty, and costs €16 each. My friend pays as a treat. They taste like spa water in the best way possible. We chat for a bit and then head across the street for our reservation. $1.80
10:30 p.m. — This is going to be more of our "bourgie" dinner. This spot is supposed to be quite chic and the upstairs turns into a club. We split the burrata (no other appetizer catches our eye), the steak frites for two, and the mushroom truffle ravioli along with one bottle of wine this time. The food wasn't great and the ambiance actually reminded me a lot of a place in NYC, but we still have a great time. Our waiter is a hilarious man who makes our experience extra lovely. We check out the upstairs after din, but decide to ditch for a more local spot as it's not as "lit" as we were expecting. $59.69
12:30 a.m. — We get to one of my favorite spots from studying abroad in Paris that hasn't changed for decades. It's a restaurant upstairs and an old wine cave downstairs with great music. It tends to get a bit hot down there without any air circulation, but never disappoints. I order us each a drink and my friends both Venmo me back. Unfortunately, it's closing at 2 a.m., so we don't have much time to people-watch and dance. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow and decide to call it quits when it closes. I order us an Uber and my friends Venmo me for their portion. $16
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Daily Total: $163.29

Day Four

11 a.m. — Alarm goes off to our dismay. The block-out shades in France are crazy good; too good. We slowly get moving and have decided we will Uber to the Chateau de Versailles to save time. Before ordering the Uber, we stop at a boulangerie across the street and get treats — pain d'amandes au chocolat for me. My friend pays since she's trying to get rid of her cash. I order the Uber and my friends Venmo me for their share. $11.50
1 p.m. — Museum entrance is free for me; love these under-26 passport perks! We decide to start with the gardens and then the chateau since the weather doesn't look too promising. My friend and I stop and take a picture with each statue, and pose just like it. We think we're funny. People are staring, but I think they think we're funny, too. The gardens are absolutely beautiful with the season's colors starting to change. We continue towards the domain of Marie Antoinette; this place is HUGE.
3 p.m. — We stop at Angelina's inside the Chateau grounds because I refuse to have my friends leave Paris without having one of Angelina's famous hot chocolates. Seriously, if you come to Paris and you don't get this hot chocolate, shame on you. It's literally chocolate bars melted. Insane. We each get a hot chocolate and a sandwich, and I split a dessert with my friend because I have zero willpower and pretend that everything in Europe is made with better quality ingredients and therefore is good for me. I still kinda believe this is true. $15.32
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4:30 p.m. — Halfway through the tour of the castle, we stop at Ladurée and get macarons. My friend is enamored by them and he says it's his treat, so I can't resist despite still being full from the hot chocolate earlier. We each take a bite of each one and end up scarfing down the whole box in probably two minutes or less. The cashier looks at us half laughing, half filled with scorn, and probably screaming, typical Americans, in her head as she watches. Oh well.
6 p.m. — We are literally closing down Versailles. No, seriously: Security guards are yelling at us to leave as we take pictures we must post on our Instagrams later. We get the shots and finally get going. We choose to train/subway back to Paris for our dinner reservation. We each buy our respective train tickets and are exhausted. We reviewing the photos we took, trying to cackle silently as to not disturb any Parisians on the train and be rude. $4.27
7 p.m. — I had made us a different dinner reservation, but my friend hasn't had his dose of French onion soup yet, and I'm scared the bourgie restaurant won't have it, despite having a cool view of the Eiffel Tower. We opt to go to the Montmartre area, which is very cultural and filled with local artists, to get a more classic French meal. We each order the appetizer, entree, and dessert prix fixe, plus a bottle of white wine the waitress recommends and cheese fondue as our entrees. DIVINE. We each test our respective appetizers: escargot, a salad with jambon, and of course, the French onion soup. We also taste each others' desserts: crepe a nutella, creme brulee, and a tarte tatin. All amazing. After dinner, we stop by the Sacre Coeur and peep inside the beautiful old church. We head home on the subway since my friends leave early tomorrow morning. $39
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Daily Total: $70.09

Day Five

6 a.m. — My friends leave and I roll around in bed as I hear them get ready to call the Uber. I say goodbye half-asleep and get back into bed and set an alarm for 11 a.m. I'm meeting old family friends in the outskirts of Paris at 1 p.m. for lunch.
11 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I swear I could've slept for five more hours. Entertaining your friends nonstop is tiring, but worth it! I get ready and take the bus/RER out to St. Geramin-en-Laye where I apparently I used to hang out a lot at as a two year old, but it doesn't spark my memory much. I have to buy more Metro/bus tickets along with the RER pass, and I opt for the 10-metro ticket deal, which gives you a free ticket. $23.38
12:40 p.m. — I arrive in St. Germain-en-Laye, see a Starbucks and am dying for a coffee. I already feel guilty going into a Starbucks knowing how much I'm about to spend on a cappuccino, but they have soy milk and I don't want to be tired and rude at the lunch, so I splurge. I can't believe it's nearly $7 (with the conversion rate) for a TALL cappuccino. I declare this robbery and vow to never go to another Starbucks in Europe again. I arrive a bit early for lunch, so I walk around the old castle grounds before heading to the restaurant. I love how Europe just has casual castles standing around. $6.61
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1 p.m. — I was a bit nervous I wouldn't be able to recognize my family friends as I haven't seen them in a solid 10 years, but they are luckily entering as soon as I do, and I semi-recognize one of them. Not as awkward as I expected! We talk in French the whole time, as I prefer to do this whenever I have a choice, even if they do speak English. I'm practically fluent, thanks to my French mom, but I still want to perfect it whenever I can. We have plenty to catch up on and they both work in my industry so it's nice to hear their points of view. They end up treating me to lunch, which is nice for my wallet after the past few days. I head back to Paris around 3:30 p.m. taking the RER/bus again.
4 p.m. — Once I get off the bus, I stop at a Monoprix to pick up laundry detergent and a few things to eat for the week. I plan to expense it since I have my weekly stipend. I get laundry detergent, softener, ham, authentic Italian-looking pasta (instead of the typical packaged stuff), and gruyere. ($28.20 expensed)
4:35 p.m. — I get home, throw a load of laundry in filled with all the towels we used the past few days, and listen to the Jimmy Fallon Live episode of Jennifer Lawrence interviewing Kim Kardashian. It's hilarious! I promised myself earlier I'd go out for a bike ride after everything I indulged in with my friends visiting. I realize I only have an hour until sundown. I throw my gym clothes on and hop on a Velib, the Paris bike rental program, and head towards the park. It's not SoulCycle class, but I got a membership for only €30 for the entire year before I arrived (it was the reduced price because I'm under 26). It's crazy how much cheaper things are in Europe, especially for those under 26. I thought CitiBike's for $163/year was a good deal in New York!
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5:40 p.m. — The bike ride was lovely and energized me. I love this time alone, while still getting to enjoy the outdoors. I get home right as it's getting dark, shower, and cook up the pasta with the ingredients I bought earlier, adding in pesto from my fridge for added flavor. I'm exhausted and get to sleep by 10 p.m. after watching Real Housewives of Dallas and O.C. These shows are my guilty pleasure to the max!
Daily Total: $29.99

Day Six

8:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off. Ugh, Monday. I'm still tired from the past few days of nonstop plans. I get ready for work, eat my usual yogurt with strawberry jam, and head out. I stop and chat with my super for a bit, who compliments me on my shearling coat. At least someone's noticing my new purchases!
12:15 p.m. — Since I live so close to the office, I like to have one day where I head home and eat in the comfort of my own home. I contemplate eating my leftover pasta for lunch, but am craving a soup so I stop off at the grab-and-go spot next door. I get a potato and leek soup, a small side salad with mini-shrimp and avocado, and of course, a piece of baguette as is tradition in France. You simply cannot eat a meal without bread! It comes out to $9 and change, but I will expense it with my stipend later. I eat the soup and in the end, also eat the leftover pasta. I save the side salad for tonight's dinner, as I'll get home late after ballet. I finish up the last 20 minutes of the documentary I was watching the other day and head back to work. ($9.24 expensed)
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6:40 p.m. — I leave work and head home. I've been craving a dance class, as I used to do ballet for the majority of my life. I researched a place where classes are only €15 and it looks pretty decent. I stop and talk to my super again, and he says he has a present for me. He's cute and young and I haven't been able to tell if we are flirting with each other until this moment; he gives me a gift of a pink ribbon. I have no idea what this means, but am curious and thank him. I munch on eggplant dip I have so I'm not starving by the time I get back from dance. I get ready and hop on a Velib to cut down on walking time to the studio.
7:30 p.m. — Shoot! I get to the Velib station near the studio and there are no spots left to drop my bike off. Panicked I'll be late for ballet class, I try to search for another Velib spot nearby on Google. Luckily, someone comes by two minutes later and takes a bike out so I'm not late for class. I get into the dance studio and the teacher is super nice; we emailed before so she remembered me and I pay for the class. I was worried I was a bit out of shape for the advanced class, but to my surprise I still got it! The teacher was fantastic. I'll definitely be coming back. $17
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9:30 p.m. — I choose to walk home this time, about a 20-minute walk so that I don't have to deal with not having any open spots to park the Velib. I stop into a store to grab water as I'm dying of thirst after the ballet class. Each stride I take makes me note how sore I will be tomorrow. When I get home, I eat the side salad and have a spoonful of Nutella so I can't complain about being hungry if I wake up in the middle of the night. I watch some Netflix and swipe on Bumble and Happn. I've gotta say, the dating scene and these apps are much more successful for me in New York. It's probably the culture difference, but every time someone messages me some weird slang I don't understand, I deem them as being creepy and never respond. I end up passing out around 11:30 p.m. without much hope for finding a French lover during my short time here. $1
Daily Total: $18

Day Seven

8:15 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I'm feeling very drowsy. I attribute this to leaving my heat on high all night and drying me out. I better not get sick again. I was sick two weeks ago! I eat my typical yogurt and strawberry jam with a glass of OJ. I never get sick of yogurt that tastes this good.
11:45 a.m. — At lunchtime, I have two back-to-back calls for the global millennial core group I'm a member of at my company, so I decide to run out and get something to eat at my desk during the calls. I can expense this with my stipend. I get the special of the day, which is salmon and mashed potatoes with some sort of green sauce I can't figure out. Because it's a French lunch, the offer also comes with a small carrot-apple fresh-pressed juice and an apple crumble dessert. Nom. ($14 expensed)
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4 p.m. — I'm WhatsApping with my mom and semi-harassing her to give me a definite date she wants to leave to see my grandmother for Christmas, before prices get outrageous. She'll be coming to Paris before and then we will take the train to my grandma's together. I finally get her to choose and she says if I get the train tickets for the both of us online, she will reimburse me as a Christmas gift. I was expecting to have to pay for my ticket myself which would have been about $85 for my part, so I'm a bit relieved, especially after the shopping splurges last week and my friends being in town. ($205 expensed)
6:15 p.m. — I stop by Monoprix and pick up a few things I need: two hand creams (one for my purse, one for my apartment), body wash, and hair ties. I will use my stipend money and expense this later. I head home and despite still feeling drowsy and sore AF from ballet last night, I force myself to hit the gym. I try out a Kayla workout after a 15-minute cardio warm-up. Damn that was hard! Her Bikini Body Guide is no joke and makes me reminisce on how dependent I am on Equinox classes to force me to work hard, and how much I miss their classes. ($16 expensed)
8:30 p.m. — I get home, shower, and make dinner: chicken and green beans. Back to being healthy and on a budget. Le sigh. My body and wallet desperately need this, I remind myself. I crawl into bed and watch Bravo before calling it bedtime around 11 p.m. I'm a huge sleeper and this past week has taken its toll on me. No wonder I felt a bit sick this morning. If I don't get an average of eight hours minimum a night at least four times a week, I really feel it.
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Daily Total: $0
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