A Week In Paris, France On A $14,000 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.
This week: a research intern who makes $14,000 per year and spends it on quite a few eggs.
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Occupation: Nonprofit Research Intern
Industry: Employment Resources
Age: 25
Location: Paris, France
Salary: $14,000
Paycheck Amount (Once a month): $1,160
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $350. My boyfriend and I live together in a one-bedroom apartment in an immediate suburb of Paris; we split rent based on our different incomes. Our rent is $890 per month, and I pay $350.
Loan Payments: $0 after scholarships, two jobs, a fiendish amount of babysitting, and Missouri's 529 College Savings Plan.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Electricity: $40
Internet: $0. I pay for the electricity, and my boyfriend pays for the internet.
Housing Insurance: $20
Health Insurance: $88 through my boyfriend's employer
Cell Phone: $21.70. I get unlimited calls to the U.S. from France, and 50 GB of data per month.
Adobe Creative Suite: $20
Gym: $8 membership to Body Minute
Public Transportation: $38 for my unlimited transport card. I get it half off because I'm still a student.
Velib: $2.50 for my citywide bike-share membership, which I use on occasion. (I pay $29 once per year.)
American Library (in Paris) Membership: $7.50 for the student rate (which is $90 once per year).
Spotify: $10.85 for my membership, paid through my American account.
1 of 8
7:30 a.m. — I'm up early trying to input some data before a research seminar. I end up listening to political podcasts and scrolling through Twitter. The French elections are this Sunday, and I'm trying to stay calm and informed at the same time. I boil five eggs and pack some leftover Brussels sprouts, cheese, and cherry tomatoes for lunch. I'm still pretty anxious about politics as I get dressed and drink a cup of coffee with rice milk that my boyfriend left in the fridge for me.

9:30 a.m. — I miss the train by 10 seconds and am drawn in by the siren song of the vending machine while waiting on the platform. Two Snickers for two euro with 15% more per bar?! I remind myself that I don't even eat Snickers, and then the train arrives.

12 p.m. — The research seminar is so frustrating; the researcher has an Essentialist view of gender and cooperation that, frankly, don't substantiate the claims they're making about financial behavior. The presenter is peppered with questions and it's clear that the organizers didn't review the presentation beforehand. Awkward! I consider ducking out for vending machine coffee after the presenter dodges my question, but the seminar ends rather abruptly and I'm off to work instead.

2 p.m. — I take one train up to work and walk through the park that skirts my building. After working for an hour distributing surveys and talking with clients, I head back to my desk to dig into my lunch. The cheese is a little stale but there is so much protein in the eggs that I know I won't be hungry. I could also probably eat Brussels sprouts baked in vinaigrette every day until the end of time; I remind myself to pick up another bag from Picard.

5 p.m. — I'm working later than I'd like to on a Friday and consider going to a café for a coffee. Instead, I head back to the break room and discover that there is still a tiny bit left in the carafe. Huzzah! Free coffee, free motivation, and I'm back at it with the surveys and clients until 6.

7 p.m. — I'm back in my neighborhood after another hour on the trains. I meet my boyfriend at his Metro stop, and we walk up to Starbucks for coffee beans. We're not huge fans of their coffee, but it's the only place in the neighborhood where you can get beans ground for a French press. We arrive just as the store is closing and are told the bean grinder is broken. My boyfriend, who's been up since 5 a.m., has a mini-meltdown and leaves. I apologize profusely to the person behind the counter and leave to catch up with him. We go to the grocery store to pick up dinner supplies: peppers, lardon (little bacon bits), mushrooms, and onions to make shakshuka. He pays.

8 p.m. — We're eating in front of the computer screen (such a bad habit!) because we were dying to start Black Mirror. We watch the episode on blocking people in real life and freak out. The Netflix Sans Chill continues until around 11, when we both crash.

Daily Total: $0
2 of 8
8:30 a.m. — My boyfriend and I are up earlier than normal because I have a shift from 1-4. I'm a research intern with an employment resource center in Paris and I'm collecting data on career values and employment outcomes. The clients that come on Saturdays tend to have different employment profiles than weekday clients, so I make a point to come in for a few Saturdays. It's raining, and we still need coffee. We're both convinced that the grinder at Starbucks was simply cleaned and turned off for the night, so we're up and out the door by 9 a.m. to try again.

9:30 — I leave my boyfriend outside Starbucks and pick up a bag of Peruvian beans. I ask for them to be ground for a French press, but it turns out that the machine IS actually broken and not likely to be fixed before Monday. I thank the person behind the counter and meet up with my boyfriend. We decide to go to a family-run café that I tried a few weeks back with my dad when he was visiting (and buying breakfast). We walk over and meet the owner's mother and daughter. Two noisettes (espresso with milk) run me $4, and after we spot the grinder behind the counter, we ask for a baggie of ground beans. They're too finely ground for a French press, but they'll work! We head home, and I dump my noisette into a large mug and add heated rice milk. Heaven! $6

2:30 p.m. — I arrive at work around 1 after an hour on the train; my job is on the opposite end of the city, and I switch trains three times. By 2:30, I am starving. We ate a light breakfast (eggs, grilled mushrooms, and onions) after our coffee adventure, but I forgot to pack a snack. I shuffle into the break room and root around through the cupboards. We had a goodbye party for a coworker last week, and there are still pretzels left over! Score! I have a handful with a huge glass of water and power through.

6 p.m. — I'm late leaving work and need to hustle if I'm going to run my errands between now and heading to a friend's house. The elections are tomorrow, and I'm having a bunch of friends over for jambalaya to ward off the bad vibes/Nazi party. I need shrimp, peppers, more tomatoes, white wine, and celery. I'm running short on time, so I skip the fresh produce and head straight to Picard. I hesitate between the cooked and uncooked shrimp, and in a moment of weakness (a.k.a., thinking about cleaning the heads) I go for the prepared shrimp. Two boxes of prepared shrimp, plus a little pre-made meal for my boyfriend costs $13.40. I try to use the meal tickets that I receive from work, but they don't work on the shrimp, so I pay by card. $13.40

8 p.m. — I freshen up (lipstick, perfume) before racing out of my apartment and up the street to the Metro. I text my friend asking what kind of food she wants for the party. I'm paying this week because I received all of my meal tickets from work for two months at once, thanks to a mixup at HR. I'm rich! I pick up three cheese pizzas, two lemons, and some cherry tomatoes. I successfully use one meal ticket (worth $8.97) to pay, and dig out another $1.05 to pay for the rest of the bill. Lucky for me, the Metro isn't crowded, so the pizza sits next to me for the whole ride to my friend's place. I text the friend who in charge of getting tonic and beg him to buy Schweppes Zero. $1.05

1 a.m. — The party is fun and super chill considering the impending election. I get into a lively conversation with a couple of my French friends about Trump jokes. In my mind, they can make all the Trump jokes they want AFTER they avoid their own Fascist takeover. I feel like a doom prophet, but hey, what can you do? We ease the tension by singing a mangled version of "La Marseillaise" that somehow devolves into "Oh, Canada." The hostess is working the next day, so I try to leave at a reasonable hour. I am dying to Uber home, because the rain is still coming down, but I walk a few blocks and hop the tram instead. I make the mistake of sitting by the door, where it's freezing. I also manage to miss every connecting bus from my tram stop and end up walking the 30-plus minutes home.

Daily Total: $20.45
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3 of 8
1 p.m. — My boyfriend wakes up much earlier than me, and brings me coffee in bed. He's going to vote, and I want to go with him for the experience. I scrape myself out of bed, drink a huge glass of water, and get dressed. We walk to the polling place, and it's scarily empty. I sit in a row of chairs, waiting, while he votes. The process is very simple and efficient, and I'm praying that the French pull through!

1:30 p.m. — We walk from the polling place to another grocery store (Franprix) to pick up my peppers, celery, and canned tomatoes for jambalaya. I am really tightly wound after seeing how few people appeared to be voting, and I snap at my boyfriend about something stupid. I get in line to pay for the food with a meal ticket, and the leftover amount is $2.42. After a brief miscommunication and trying to pay cash, the cashier tells me that there was enough credit on my loyalty card to cover the difference. Score!

1:45 p.m. — My boyfriend and I are clearly having a weekend for childish behavior, what with his meltdown at Starbucks and my election anxiety. He takes me across the street to our family-run florist, and just as they are closing (evidently a new theme for us) he buys me a bouquet of purple-maroon roses for the table. I love having flowers in the house, and they lift my mood quite a bit.

4 p.m. — I'm cooking up a storm and my Louisiana/zydeco playlist is blaring. It's cobbled together from songs that my mom used to listen to when she cooked, and I'm singing along to calm my nerves. I realize that I forgot to by cooking wine and ask my boyfriend to take a meal ticket to go and get it. He doesn't take the ticket, but comes back with wine, chips, and cider.

6 p.m. — My friends start to arrive, and we're representing Brazil, the USA, Sweden, Hong Kong, and France. My friends bring a bunch of chocolate, Flamin' Hot Cheetos (all the way from the U.S.!) and beer. We eat chips and catch up while the jambalaya simmers. After a little bit, I serve everyone, and it's a hit! My main regret is that I didn't prep and season the shrimp myself, but I marinated the chicken and rubbed the sausage in spices, so it's not a total wash. I may have gone a little overboard with the cayenne, but desperate times call for spicy food. I try not to bite my nails as the clock inches closer to 8 p.m. and the election results, and wind up eating way more chocolate than I intended.

8 p.m. — Macron wins the election!! I feel like I'm going to pass out from relief when I see the results. We keep drinking and eating for a few more hours, and my boyfriend whips up a Brazilian cheese bread. I am so happy! My friends remind me that the next day is a national holiday, but I am scheduled to work. I text my boss and he confirms that our center is closed. We send a few texts about Macron's victory, and I cross "WORK!" off my to-do list for tomorrow.

10:30 p.m. — I'm watching Macron's victory speech and texting a few friends in the U.S. who are following along. I can't resist recording a few seconds of the speech in Snapchat with the kitten filter, and it's just as funny as it was the first time I saw it done. We end up celebrating more, and make it to bed around 2 a.m.

Daily Total: $0
4 of 8
11 a.m. — We wake up later than intended thanks to the celebration, and my boyfriend brings me coffee in bed. I read some French short stories in bed (Anna Gavalda, so good!) while grazing on leftover chocolate and jambalaya. Finally, feeling like a sloth, I decide to get up and go to the co-op for eggs.

1:30 p.m. — I adore my co-op and try to buy what I can from them whenever I can. Their produce is much more expensive than other grocery stores and honestly, in France at least, the grocery stores do carry French-grown products. However, the major advantage of the co-op is their rice milk: it is over a euro cheaper than anything I've found in the chain grocery stores. I buy six liters of rice milk (about $1.85 each), a carton of 10 organic eggs (around $4) and my boyfriend picks out a bag of ground coffee (around $3.85). The grounds are too fine, but the bag is about half the price of a bag from Starbucks, and fair trade at that. I pay with two restaurant tickets, and dig out the remaining $0.25 from my wallet. $0.25

4 p.m. — I finally buckle down and do some data entry for a few hours. I eat some leftover jambalaya and make a few hard-boiled eggs. I add Sriracha and a little bit of mayonnaise; I don't know why, but I've been craving hard-boiled eggs lately. I know I'm not pregnant (thanks, IUD!) but what gives?

8 p.m. — My boyfriend makes tomato and mozzarella salade for dinner because we have to eat the tomatoes before they go bad. It's delicious, and we plan out our week over dessert. We make it to bed around 10:30.

Daily Total: $0.25
5 of 8
7:30 a.m. — I'm up, showered, and dressed for work on time. I am trying to use up most of my skincare and beauty products this year before buying anything else. I've just run out of a serum that I love, but instead of putting it onto my to-buy list, I open a little sample from Lancome. It's fine, and doesn't pill under my sunscreen. I am trying a new brow product that I bought earlier this month — the Drama Brow from Maybelline — and I need to apply it with a much lighter touch than I'm used to. I take it off, start over, and skip breakfast because of it. I throw five hard-boiled eggs in my bag and run out the door.

10 a.m. — A handful of leftover pretzels and a cup of coffee do not a filling breakfast make, but I'm trying to work with what I have at the moment. I don't want to spend any of my meal tickets at lunch because it feels like I've been burning through them. Still, I'll have to figure something out. I chat with clients and collect data for a few hours.

1:30 p.m. — Most. Stressful. Lunch. Ever. I applied to another graduate program last month, and the email telling me to check my admissibility results arrives. I try to log in from my laptop but there's no Wi-Fi in my office. I walk out to a better location to use my cell phone as a hotspot, and it still takes 10 minutes to get things going. I find out that I got an interview (!!) and quickly schedule it for the end of the month. I send a few emails to thank everyone who wrote recommendations for me, and text my mom, my best friend, and my boyfriend. He calls me on his lunch break, and we talk for a few minutes. I'm almost out of time before I realize that I haven't eaten yet! I hustle through my eggs (so bland, but so good) and get back to work.

7 p.m. — I have a conference call tonight for a political group that I'm in, so I hustle to the Franprix and pick up two cartons of organic eggs. I eat a bowl of my boyfriend's sugary cereal and heat up some carrot puree from Picard during the call. It lasts until 9 p.m., and I send some follow-up emails. My boyfriend and I talk about our days and my interview, and some logistical aspects of the program before falling asleep around 11:30. $7.36

Daily Total: $7.36
6 of 8
8 a.m. — I am so tired that I can barely drag myself out of bed. The excitement of the election and my interview have me in a great emotional space, but my body does not want to cooperate. I make a sad smoothie out of frozen raspberries from last month, and a frozen banana that has seen better days. More eggs, and some cheese, and I resolve to buy something else for lunch that day.

10 a.m. — The center is really quiet today, and I'm not getting as much data as I'm used to. This sends me into an anxiety spiral for some reason, and I text my best friend about it. We chat a bit; it feels good to have someone who gets my thesis stress.

12:30 p.m. — We're going over to my boyfriend's cousins' apartment for dinner, and he and I chat about what to bring. He's thinking dessert, and I leave him to it as I won't be home until 7 p.m. I don't buy anything else for lunch, and berate myself for not getting enough fruits and veggies. There's no sense in being ultra cheap if I wind up giving myself scurvy in the process. I makes sure to literally schedule "shopping for lunch" into my Thursday timetable.

7:30 p.m. — I'm home, and we're running a bit late to make it to the cousins' apartment. Thankfully, 8 p.m. in France doesn't have to mean 8 p.m. sharp. I change my coat to something lighter as the weather has warmed up considerably today. We decide to take the bus there and Uber home, but we manage to miss every single one of the possible buses en route. We walk the 40 minutes instead, after realizing that waiting for the next buses would have taken us nearly the same amount of time as going by foot.

10:30 p.m. — I love these cousins! We're close in age, and they're getting married this summer. We chat about summer vacation, picking the wine for the wedding, and all of our different job developments. They're amazing hosts, and I eat a bunch of the cherry tomatoes, melon, and strawberries that they serve throughout the various courses. No scurvy for me! We brought white wine and cider to leave them. I promise to make them a jambalaya (I am truly a one-trick pony in the kitchen) and we make plans to see each other next week. I call an Uber Pool to take us home so that my boyfriend can get to bed before 11. His hours as a chef are nightmarish, but he loves the work. The Uber Pool is fast, and the route home provides me a great view of the full moon. $6

Daily Total: $6
7 of 8
7:30 a.m. — I'm up and at it, boiling more eggs and washing my hair, by 8 a.m. The recent developments with the firing of the FBI director have me stressed, and I'm trying to listen to a podcast while in the shower. I barely make it out the door on time.

9:45 a.m. — My train stops for more than 10 minutes, which is rare, but that combined with another slow ride mean that I'm way late for work. I text my boss; he's fine with it, but I try to do some inconspicuous deep breathing while catching up on more of the FBI drama.

10:30 a.m. — I don't have time to drink the cup of coffee that I pour for myself, as I immediately start collecting data. It cools on my desk, calling to me, until lunch.

1 p.m. — I GO OUT TO BUY ACTUAL FOOD! Thank god, after so many days of hard-boiled eggs. I take a meal ticket and buy a salad with quinoa and shrimp, some pomegranate seeds, and cookies for the break room from a nearby Marks & Spencer. I still have about $0.34 on the ticket, but I'd rather not spend on anything else. I take a Marks & Spencer survey online for the chance to win $250 — and to let them know that their non-recyclable packaging is a huge deterrent to shopping with them. I save the label from the salad to see if I can DIY it at home.

4 p.m. — I get an email from our electricity provider saying that our yearly statement is available. I pay a set rate every month, and if our consumption exceeds the amount I've paid, I have to settle up at the end of the year. Last year was brutal, and I ended up paying about $120. I brace myself and check the statement... We are OWED $76! I switched all of our lights to LEDs in January, and we became a lot more conscious about how often we use our dryer. It's literally paid off, and I'll receive just about two months of credit on the bill. I'm thrilled, and text my boyfriend to congratulate us.

7 p.m. — Still a little buzzed off saving $76, I stop by the library to return a book. I visit one of my friends who is there, too, and give her a blush and lipstick that I've been holding in my bag for her. I'd forgotten to give them to her at a kickback we held, and I'm glad we crossed paths so soon.

7:30 p.m. — We're having a friend over for dinner, and my boyfriend is making carbonara. I stop into Franprix for red wine, bananas, eggs, and more lardon. One restaurant ticket later, and I'm digging some change out of my wallet to cover the extra expense. These tickets are really a lifesaver, but I've burned through a lot this week. I resolve to be a bit more judicious about my spending (by making actual grocery lists in advance, perhaps?) and walk home. $1.69

Daily Total: $1.69
8 of 8
Editor's Note: All prices have been converted to the U.S. dollar.

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.The first step to getting your financial life in order is tracking what you spend — to try on your own, check out our guide to managing your money every day. For more money diaries, click here.

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