A Week In San Francisco, CA, On A $4,000 Salary

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 student and summer retail associate who makes $4,000 per year and spends some of it on a giant rainbow flag.
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Occupation: Student & Retail Associate
Industry: Media & Retail
Age: 21
Location: San Francisco, CA
Salary: $4,000. I work retail in SF for $13/hour. During the school year in New York, I work in retail for $10/hour, and also work as a figure model for $15/hour.
Paycheck (2x/month): Currently $450.
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $0. I am staying with my parents while I'm home from school for the summer.
Loans: $0. I receive a scholarship and my parents are able to afford my tuition, so I don't have loans. (I'm an out-of-state student at a New York State college.) I do not have a credit card.
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Spotify: $9.99
Transportation: My Clipper card has been connected to my dad's account since I was in high school, so transport is on him.
Savings: $200. I generally put a third of my paychecks into savings and try to live frugally. All other needs (phone, Netflix, etc.) are still paid by my parents.
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9 a.m. — Breakfast! I'm lucky to live with my parents during breaks from college, and produce is on them. I make coffee with almond milk, and have that with two eggs and a slice of sourdough. I put on a true crime podcast (I'm addicted) and zone out.

10:30 a.m. — I get in the car with the "mothership" to do some practice driving and head to a dentist cleaning.

11:45 a.m. — Appointment done. My twice-yearly cleanings are completely covered by insurance through my dad's job through my 26th birthday.

11:50 p.m. — I drop into Starbucks to pee and see a guy I passed by on the street earlier. I listened to his charity pitch but was running late. He works with Hip Hop For Change in West Oakland, which teaches underprivileged kids about dance and hip hop. I fill out the donation form, resist the urge to get a coffee, and am on my way. $15

12 p.m. — Tap my Clipper card at the Muni station to head downtown. The card has been connected to my dad's account since I was in high school, so transport is on him.

12:30 p.m. — I'm meeting a friend at 2 p.m. and have a lot of time to kill. I drop into Claire's and pick out a cheesy Pride choker and chains for a blazer I'm decorating. $11.92

1 p.m. — I look in H&M for more chains but none are on sale. I've needed a new belt for a while though, so I grab a black one with bronze accents. $7.58

1:30 p.m. — I'm still early. I wait at a Starbucks near the restaurant and grab a coffee. I sit and keep reading The Handmaid's Tale; I'm about halfway through. $2.95

2 p.m. — We order at Onigilly. I get a rice pocket with teriyaki tofu, another with shiitake mushrooms, and a small cup of miso soup. It's affordable and delicious! We talk for hours and catch up. $8.15

5 p.m. — We wander in the Palace Hotel, through downtown, and end up back in H&M. I can't resist a baby pink denim dress on sale! $15

6 p.m. — Tap my Clipper card, hop on BART, and head home.

7 p.m. — Dad hands me some cash and a list. I head around the corner to Safeway and get pasta, bread, sauce, butter, eggs and chocolate — the essentials! We cook some pasta together and my older sister takes a break from her homework to eat with us. We're both still in college and living at home, so our dinners are with the parents.

9:15 p.m. — I complete my last FAFSA with my father. Senior year here I come! It's scary, but exciting. I also send an important work email telling a theater company my availability to discuss a videography opportunity. I'm very excited for this possibility; it will likely be unpaid but it's experience I need. After, I cuddle with my cat and watch YouTube videos. Soon, it's computer off and podcast until I doze. I don't need to set an alarm for tomorrow.

Daily Total: $60.60
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11:15 a.m. — I wake up early but resist getting up until my sis says she asks me to run an errand with her. I get up and have the same breakfast as yesterday.

12 p.m. — She drives and we head to the SPCA to pick up fancy cat food. (Our cat has kidney problems so we need specific food.) It goes on the credit card my parents. We do our best to work when we can, but getting our education gets in the way of that, so our parents help with essentials.

1 p.m. — Back home! I put on To Die For, a Gus Van Sant movie starring Nicole Kidman. I use free seven-day trials to watch movies and then always make sure to unsubscribe before they charge me. I watch Nicole and work on a dress I'm planning to wear for DragCon in NYC in the fall. I also watch some Dragula on YouTube for inspiration.

3:30 p.m. — Hop in the car with mom to run some errands. I bring some clothes to Buffalo Exchange and sell a pair of pants for a $6 credit. They reject the rest so I donate it to Goodwill I drive us home over the gorgeous Twin Peaks.

5 p.m. — Back to Dragula, and illegally streaming American Gods.

6 p.m. — Mom makes a delicious lentil curry for dinner. Over dinner, she hands me a package that arrived for me, a hair curler I ordered a week ago. I'm excited to teach myself some femme things!

6:30 p.m. — Keep watching Dragula and working on the dress. Putting punk studs on clothing is more time consuming than one might think! I crash around midnight.

Daily Total: $0
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9:45 a.m. — Dog wakes me up howling in the backyard; he doesn't like to feel left out. I realize my mom is having a meeting upstairs, so I keep the dog with me and read some of The Handmaid's Tale and scroll through some apps.

11 a.m. — Time for breakfast. I just started my period and am feeling sluggish. I get intense cramps my first couple days and I'm waiting for them to hit.

11:30 a.m. — I check my email and see that a manager wants to meet with me to discuss a videography opportunity at 3 p.m. today. Sounds good! I accept the meeting, and pray my uterus won't scream as much this afternoon. I was recently prescribed some intense painkillers; I pop one and hope it works.

12:30 p.m. — I put on workout clothes but am feeling too bloated to do my usual yoga routine with a YouTube video. Later, I shower so my thick hair is dry before my meeting.

1:45 p.m. — I finish getting ready and put on some makeup. A friend I planned to meet with at 5 p.m. and grab a hard drive from changes our meet-up time to 2:45, so I rush, eat half a sandwich, and get on public transport.

4 p.m. — The interview ends well! I definitely didn't do enough research about the company beforehand but hopefully it doesn't get in my way. They seem excited and interested about the possibility of me working for them. I decide to treat myself to an unnecessary amount of frozen yogurt. It's so good it's almost worth it. $7.66

6:30 p.m. — Cook dinner for my sister and me since our parents are both out. I make pasta with vegetables, and a sauce with vegan sausage. It turns out pretty good!

7 p.m. — Spend some time with the sis giving emotional support, free therapy, etc. Her emotions are high as it's her finals week.

10 p.m. — Listening to the podcast My Favorite Murder has me thinking about horror. I search sneaky streaming sites for a copy of Monster starring Charlize Theron. It's a downer but stunningly acted — plus, I can't resist some murderous lesbians. At midnight, I move the cat off of my uterus and over to my side. It's sleep time!

Daily Total: $7.66
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10:30 a.m. — Wake up, get up, and eat my regular plus two pieces of bacon.

11:30 a.m. — Spend more time with the stressed sis. Because I work retail part-time, I did three days last week and took off my weekend shifts this week for Pride. I get an email of my paycheck tomorrow. It's $472 for the last five eight-hour shifts.

12:30 p.m. — Feel like trying a new makeup drag look. Get engrossed in my face.

3:30 p.m. — Face all done, time for a late lunch. I'm not hungry enough for something solid, so I just have some crackers, sheep's milk cheese, Tofurky, and water. I also read the script for the short film I will be editing for a friend. I'm excited to start! It's an odd script but I think I'll have fun with it. I search through some of the footage and the actors seem to have done a good job.

4:30 p.m. — I do some slow yoga following a YouTube video that's geared toward yoga on your period. Afterward, I take a shower and laze around.

6 p.m. — No one did the grocery shopping, so dad orders Chinese takeout. The food arrives and it's delicious. Hang with the fam for a while.

7 p.m. — Head back to my room and read 30 pages of The Handmaid's Tale. I get engrossed and decide to start the show. The first episode is wonderful (illegally streamed) and has a totally different plot than the book. I need to finish the book before I continue so I don't get too spoiled. I go to sleep at midnight.

Daily Total: $0
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9:30 a.m. — Wake up and head upstairs for my regular eggs, toast, coffee breakfast. I'm volunteering at Trans March today to support my community. I'm going to be setting up for the end of march from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. I want to see friends after, so I text some people.

11:30 a.m. — I vacuum my room, sort my laundry, and put on a load of darks that includes a pair of Thinx. With that and my Mooncup, I save big on period products.

1 p.m. — I get ready to go, put on a cute face, grab a sandwich, and head to Dolores Park.

4 p.m. — I get my purple Trans March t-shirt and volunteer badge and then meet the leader. He's super sweet and we head downtown in his car.

5 p.m. — The Tenderloin is popping as usual and we wait while the cops stall on putting up roadblocks. Protests are intended to create a disturbance, but unfortunately we have to work with the cops unless we all want to get arrested as organizers. We wait, chat, and make sure the Porta-Potties are accessible for the marchers when they arrive. This corner, Turk and Taylor, is the location of Gene Compton's Cafeteria Riot of 1966, when transgender women and gay men were harassed by cops and decided to fight back. Even before Stonewall, there have always been trans and gay people fighting against the oppressive systems set in place. The speakers arrive and the board all chat with Jane Kim, a local politician.

7:30 p.m. — The march arrives and speakers talk about pride, police brutality against trans women of color, and keeping Pride grassroots. I am filled with love for every person there. After the event is over, I text my friend to ask if she still wants to meet up. She a coworker went to an expensive bar, so I opt out and head home.

8:30 p.m. — I treat myself at the liquor store next to my house. I get peanut M&M's, a Häagen-Dazs ice cream bar, cheddar Chex Mix, and six cans of passionfruit beer. $21.69

9 p.m. — I have a beer in the shower (a fave activity) and get clean. Then I watch something, eat and drink, and crash around 11:30.

Daily Total: $21.69
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8 a.m. — It's Dyke March day! I wake up, eat quickly, put on a hot, sparkly face, and then get in a black and rainbow outfit. It's practical but still cute in case any girls catch my eye. I am working at the stage in Dolores Park from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. I get on public transit and head over.

10 a.m. — I check in, get my shirt, and introduce myself to the stage manager. I'm only a volunteer, but I'm so glad I got this position; it's great production experience. The stage starts with a blessing by the Bay Area Indigenous Americans and the music begins. Throughout the day, I help give food to performers, move sound equipment, set up drums for the coolest musician, Madame Gandhi, and make sure things run smoothly. I eat some of the snacks, have coffee, a couple cans of Coke, and eat a veggie sandwich for lunch, all free. Happy Pride!

4:45 p.m. — With my work done, I split from my group and wander toward where the march will start. Dykes on Bikes are there and I'm hoping to charm someone into letting me ride with them, but I fail. After a couple nos, I make my way to the sound cart I will help monitor during the march. I buy a giant rainbow flag on the way and tie it at my waist. $10

7:30 p.m. — The march goes wonderfully. I stay with the cart, keep people out of danger, and dance dance dance my gay heart out. Going through the Castro is always wonderful. Everyone who lives there leans out of their windows, waves, shouts, and chants. It's good vibes all round. I run into two friends at the end of the march and we decide to walk to Valencia and get food. I'm exhausted and sweaty, and a veggie burger with fries is the best thing ever in that moment. $11.96

8:30 p.m. — We head to the outer Mission. The lesbian party we were hoping to attend has a line around the block, so we go into the bar next door. My friend buys my first drink, and we waste the next few hours. I buy a round as well and tip the bartender. It's surprisingly cheap and I'm grateful for the fresh, sweet margaritas. $15

10:30 p.m. — We're tired from the march and pretty tipsy. Friends head off and I take a Lyft Line home. I'm super sleepy and get into bed without showering. I nurse a water bottle and fall asleep before midnight. $4.01

Daily Total: $40.97
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11:45 a.m. — I didn't set an alarm, so I wake up LATE. I lazily make myself breakfast, gulp down two cups of coffee, shower, and then ... watch How to Get Away With Murder on Netflix.

3 p.m. — Yes, still watching HTGAWM. I can't stop. I heat up some pasta from the fridge, resume my potato position until midnight, and then sleep.

Daily Total: $0
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