A Week In San Francisco On A $17,500 Budget

Photo: Getty Images.
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: an entrepreneur who makes $17,500 per year and spends it on sweet potato fries.
Occupation: Entrepreneur
Industry: Architecture
Age: 31
Location: San Francisco
Salary: $17,500
Paycheck Amount (varies): I quit my job in December to start my own architecture and design firm. I was officially open for business on January 1. I had $15,000 in savings, but that was quickly depleted to $4,750 at my lowest point in March. Since then, my savings are up to $6,600. I've been living extremely frugally (rarely eating out, no vacations or shopping, and taking advantage of free entertainment). Checks from clients will carry me through the summer.
Jan/Feb: $0
Mar/April: $5,000
May: $7,500
Monthly Expenses
Housing: $2,175 (with a $325 tax deduction for using a home office). I know this seems like a lot, but it's not for San Francisco. I feel lucky to live alone in a studio apartment that I love. My last job allowed me to afford the rent, but it's more difficult now that I don't have steady income. I'm depending on savings to get me through the year.
Student Loans: $200
All Other Monthly Expenses
IRA Retirement account: $100. I wish I could contribute more but it's better than nothing!
Utilities: $35
Internet: $30
Phone: $0 (I'm on my family's plan.)
Spotify: $0 (Also get through family.)
Health Insurance: $0. I'm so fortunate to be on Medi-Cal while I start my business. It's based on average monthly income in a year. Even though I made a lot this month, there have been other months in which I've made $0. I feel bad getting assistance, so I speak to the wonderful Medi-Cal representatives often to make sure I'm reporting my income appropriately. I hope to be on my own health insurance by August.