A Week In Rome On A $40,000 Salary

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 translator in Rome, trading burgers for shaved truffles and drinking all the red wine. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
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Industry: Industrial and artistic design, translator
Age: 33
Location: Pomezia, Rome, Italy (I have lived in Florence, Naples, Benevento, and finally, for six years, Rome.)
Salary: Roughly $40,100
Paycheck Amount (1x a month): Generally, $1,809, post-tax (we pay 46% tax here, a hefty fee)
Number of roommates: 0
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: $678 (I have 110 square meters, and I live 40 kilometers south of Rome, between the oceans and the mountains. The train ride to the city is only 32 minutes.)
Utilities: $113
Phone Bill: Expensed to work
Health Insurance: Social health care taken directly from taxes
Savings: American pension plan, $200 monthly

Day 1

10 a.m. — After a 14-kilometer run, I make toasts with some vegetables and goat cheese from the week before. I then practice my upright bass for about 20 minutes — simple scales and exercises. I sometimes play jazz with a duo, but it tends to be more for fun than profit (a concert, after the expenses can bring in around $79).

11 a.m. — I go grocery shopping every Sunday for the week. First, the outdoor market, where we always barter. I get Roman lettuce, broccoletti, carrots, leeks, tomatoes, spinach, onions, seven bananas, and seasonal produce, like fava beans and artichoke stems ($8). Then I hit up the butcher for bones for broth, lamb shank (three to four lunches), beef heart (better than filet mignon), pork spare ribs, and some veal ($17). Total: $25

4 p.m. — I stop by the vineyard down the street for 3 liters of red table wine (about $6). I don't generally drink red wine like a college freshman, but I do not hold back at dinner and on weekends. Then I go to the supermarket for Greek yogurt, pickles for Bloody Marys, dried lentils, chickpeas, and two bottles of prosecco ($11). Total: $17

6 p.m. — I bake bread (focaccia) every Sunday, and make broth or anything else. Last Sunday, for example, I prepared limoncello, and bone marrow for toast. My prep involves using both meat and vegetables from "head to tail." I know this is so trendy now, but the experience of living on a farm for three years taught me how to actually do it. My broth comes from collected tops, bottoms, shavings — anything that looks weepy from the veg bin.
Until 9 p.m. — Snacking and cooking continues all day, between reading on the terrace, napping, and writing. Right now, I am reading Lesser Beasts by Mark Essig and Matematica Proverbiale by Riccardo Bersani (it addresses proverbs and how they have historically played a role in mathematical considerations — very nerdy, I realize). I am writing a book myself, which I am tentatively calling, Macaroni and Magnolias.

Daily Total: $42
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Day 2

6:50 a.m. — I start off each day with a yogurt and an espresso. Then I run 7 kilometers and eat a banana. Monotonous, I realize.

9:15 a.m. — I commute to work, 30 kilometers outside the center of Rome. It typically takes me 12 minutes to drive to work. After a very brief stint in the fashion world of Florence and Milan, I began specializing in translations. I currently work for the press office of a lighting design company, handling all of their English content, as well as any other linguistic need that may arise (they tend to quite often, as over half of our business caters to international clients). I also curate the English translations for an online and print lifestyle magazine, and supplement my vices with extra translating and interpreting jobs.

1:30 p.m. — Going out to eat with our designers is not a daily affair, but we try for twice a week. Monday is “fuori” day; in short, we eat out at the agriturismo, or farmhouse. Eating out here is so affordable, seeing as we are outside the tourist realm (although clothing and makeup is still expensive; a tube of Revlon mascara can go for $23). For meals, wine and water are normally included. I get a half pasta, half meat, and a vegetable dish, with wine, water, and espresso. $8
8 p.m. — On my way home from work, I stop to pick up a great bottle of Tempranillo ($8). Dinner is bruschetta with truffles, gifted from an ex-lover from the South of Rome. Every now and then, I'll make him lamb hamburgers in exchange for shaved truffles or truffle oil. I also smoke a cigar, which was a gift from my father. $8

Daily Total: $16

Day 3

7 a.m. — My morning routine of yogurt, espresso, a run, and a banana, before heading into work.

1:15 p.m. — I stop translating, and we eat lunch on the roof until 2 p.m., including an espresso from the machine. I have some homemade focaccia with maple onions, braised lamb shank, and salad. My colleagues bring me a beer from the store. $3

8 p.m. — I fill up some gas on my way home ($34; in Europe, we are hovering around $8 a gallon). Dinner is a Pecorino and goat cheese grilled cheese and salad with some of the wine at home. I also play a little pizzicato, and go over some jazz standards. $34
Daily Total: $37

Day 4

7 a.m. — Yogurt, espresso. Then run, and a banana before going to work.

12:30 p.m. — I can't wait until 1 p.m. so I have lunch at my desk. I brought in a virgin Bloody Mary to work, and eat steamed broccoletti with almonds, and a soup made from the bone broth and carrots.

9 p.m. — Something about the longer days has brought on a craving for a negroni (tricky bastards). Two is the limit, as the third means trouble. I walk to the local bar (think Cheers, but with a bunch of men in suspenders playing the card game from Naples called "Scoppa." They all turn to look at my 5-inch heels). Two negroni, and a little red pizzette. $11

10 p.m. — I am a little too tipsy to play anything important, but a few scales happen.

Daily Total: $11

Day 5: Trippa Day!

7 a.m. — Daily routine of yogurt, then a run, followed by a banana. Then, head to work.

1:15 p.m. — We reserve plates with a food truck of a friend, who pulls right up to our gate, delivering portions of tripe, pan-fried spinach, and a small bottle of red wine, each. $7

9 p.m. — Dinner is light; a friend drops by with a bottle of good prosecco, and I make bruschetta with fava beans and tomatoes, followed by the spare ribs, steamed and then flash-grilled with spicy peppers from the garden. We certainly spend a lot of time eating and drinking here, and while we are doing it, we are also discussing the acts of eating, drinking, and creating. So, yes, my social life is more than dominated by gastronomy.

Daily Total: $7

Day 6

7 a.m. — Yogurt, espresso, run, banana, then work.

1 p.m. — My coworkers and I go out as a group to an osteria. We are a happy family, you could say. The osteria makes killer amatriciana (red sauce, bacon, a bit of spice), great veggie plates, and a sad version of cheesecake that I tend to refuse. The menu is a fixed price and you must make reservations. $9

8:15 p.m. — My colleague has been left by her boyfriend via text message, so after work we have a special aperitivo thanks to a chef who is also a good friend, and split a bottle of white. The aperitivo is a big affair here, especially considering that our “cocktail hour” comes with a buffet of pasta, rice, and little pizzettes with veg or cured meats. You can almost have dinner with your two glasses of prosecco. $19

11 p.m. — The conversation carries over to my home, where we continue with my house wine. We knock out at 3 a.m. You know, boyfriend problems and all…

Daily Total: $28

Day 7

9 a.m. — I take a rest today and don't go for a run. Instead, I wake up, drink coffee, and read the newspaper, a few blogs, and one long read.

12 p.m. to 2 p.m. — Finish the lamb shank, the focaccia, the steamed broccoletti, and the house wine for lunch while gradually cleaning the house.

4 p.m. — I start braising beef heart for dinner with a friend. When I braise something, I try to do it in a natural way, browning the meat but avoiding too many extra ingredients. The formula tends to never waver from a braise, which can go with toasts, as a sauce on pasta, with steamed veg, or with eggs (already five meals). (It should also be noted here, people have no problems using the whole animal. I have been to numerous cooking classes to better understand the culture, and knowing how to handle typically un-American cuts.)

6 p.m. — I played the guitar and the bass today, to the neighbor’s dismay — standards, some of my own work, and, as every day (in a perfect world), scales.

8 p.m. — We eat the beef heart and also finish off the salad, braise the leeks in beer, and open a decent red from the south (thanks to the friend). Smoke another cigar, again, gifted from my father.

Daily Total: $0

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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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