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 content marketing manager who is currently unemployed. She spends some of her savings this week on a McChicken sandwich.
Occupation: Content Marketing Manager
Location: San Jose, CA
Paycheck: None; I'm currently unemployed. Our company wasn't doing so well financially, so they basically let everyone go.
Housing: $0. I still live at home, and I refuse to pay the exorbitant rent prices in the Bay Area. To be honest, my very traditional Asian parents wouldn't mind if I lived with them forever.
Student Loans: None. I finished paying off my student loans 20 months after graduation.
Car Payment: $726.85. I drive an SUV ($393.44) and my sister's car ($333.41) while she's not working.
All Other Monthly Expenses
Car Insurance: $500 every six months to my parents since they pay for the car insurance.
Cell Phone: $332.35. I pay for my family's lines, and my boyfriend recently joined our plan. He pays me back every month though ($25), and my sister pays for her monthly device payment ($45).
Internet & Electricity: $0. Parents take care of this.
Amazon Prime: $0. Mooch off my brother's student Prime subscription.
Savings: $0 for now. I have about $15,000 in savings and $11,000 in my 401(k), and I hope I can find a new job before I have to dip into my funds. For now, I'm relying on my last two weeks of pay, vacation pay, and my severance package to pay my bills and miscellaneous expenses.
8 a.m. — I set an alarm to wake up earlier than I need to because I have my first onsite interview today since becoming unemployed. The interview isn't until 1 p.m., but I have to drive to the Fremont BART station, sit through a 45-minute ride, then take a 15-minute Lyft to the Presidio for the interview. I am super anal and love to be extra-prepared and early.
8:30 a.m. — My mom has prepared meat-filled scallion pancakes and a small bowl of pho for me so I'm ready to tackle this interview. Thank goodness for moms.
9 a.m. — My friend tells me that it's supposed to rain in SF today. Great. I can't find my umbrella, so I ask my mom and surprisingly, she can't find it either. Head to Target to snag a tiny umbrella and I am still way ahead of schedule. Go me. $16.38
10 a.m. — I reach the BART station and panic a bit as I can't find parking. I have to drive around for a while before I resort to parking in a carpool spot. Thankfully, it's only a carpool spot until 10 a.m., so I think I'm in the clear.
10:15 a.m. — I buy a round-trip BART ticket that will take me to the Civic Center/UN Plaza station and back ($13.60). I don't have a Clipper Card because I don't take BART enough, but I could've saved about 50 cents one way if I had just borrowed my friend's. Oh well. Parking costs another $3, but I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and any travel expenses are considered part of my annual $300 travel credit so I'll be reimbursed. ($16.60 reimbursed)
12 p.m. — I make it into the city and hail a Lyft Line since I have time to spare. My driver is super nice and chatty and plays cool Jamaican music that makes me feel like I'm on a tropical island and not in gloomy SF. It takes 26 minutes to get to my destination in the beautiful Presidio. ($7.87 reimbursed)
12:26 p.m. — I wanted to be dropped off at the nearby Starbucks, but it turns out the area is a cluster of office buildings and Starbucks is in this cluster. A bit confusing for me and my Lyft driver. I really only wanted to use the restroom to freshen up, so I pop in and hope no baristas tell me the restroom is for customers only.
12:35 p.m. — This is a really, really nice area. The commute would suck if I was offered this position and accepted, but I can see the Palace of Fine Arts from the bench by the lake and wow. Breathtaking.
12:50 p.m. — I make my way to the office only to find out I'm completely lost. I have a horrible sense of direction so the map doesn't even help. I eventually find the building but alas, I have entered from the wrong side. I panic because I'm always early, especially to interviews, but I can't find the security guard from whom I am supposed to get a visitor's badge. Thankfully, I find it with a few minutes to spare and he tells me the office is just a few steps away. I breathe a sigh of relief and enter my interview.
3 p.m. — Fini! I think the interview went pretty well, and I actually really enjoyed talking to the team members. I was hoping this wouldn't happen because the commute would play a huge role in my decision if I'm fortunate enough to get offered the job. One of the women I was supposed to meet with today went home sick, and they asked me to come back to meet her. Thankfully, I have another interview in the city next Tuesday so I agree to stop by then.
3:15 p.m. — I scheduled a phone interview after this onsite. This was a reschedule, so I wanted to do it as soon as she was available. It lasted 30 minutes longer than I thought it would ... and I was sitting outside on a bench the entire time. It was hard to keep my papers from getting blown away and hearing her with the bustle of traffic hour.
4:09 p.m. — Another Lyft line from another exciting Lyft driver. He yells my name as soon as I open the car door as if we're best friends who haven't seen each other in years. I love it. He talks to me about odors in Lyfts, how they come about, and how drivers should handle them. ($4.83 reimbursed)
5:15 p.m. — By the time I get back to my car, I'm FAMISHED and craving a McChicken sandwich from McDonald's. I text my boyfriend, M., to inform him of my desire, and he encourages me to get one as a reward for interviewing. I happily oblige and pull up to the McDonald's drive-through about five minutes away. I eat it so fast, I don't even get to savor the tastes. $1.09
6:15 p.m. — Finally home! What a day. I wonder how I'll deal if I get a job in the city and I have to do a similar commute every day... My mom made seafood and tofu dishes that are very comforting. I'm leaving to go to Chicago with M. and two other couple-friends early tomorrow morning, so I pack after dinner. I don't feel great going on a trip while unemployed, but it would be costlier to cancel at this point.
Daily Total: $17.47
4:40 a.m. — Blah, our flight is at 6:30 a.m. so my boyfriend and his dad are picking me up at 5. I check one last time to make sure I have everything, change, and head out the door. My mom wakes up and hands me a red envelope to wish me safe travels. She does this every time I travel somewhere; super sweet!
5:15 a.m. — We arrive at SJC and get through TSA quickly because M. and I have TSA Precheck. It's free with our Sapphire Reserve cards, but I think I would pay for it regardless. I hate waiting in lines, especially unpredictable ones. We make our way to the lounge because we both have the Priority Pass, another Sapphire Reserve perk. I munch on a few hard-boiled eggs doused with Tabasco, and half a peanut butter and honey bagel, while M. devours yogurt and fruit. We both drink copious amounts of OJ. All the food and drinks (including alcohol) are free in the lounge!
6 a.m. — As we make our way to our gate, we hear our names being called. Boarding only started 10 minutes ago, but I guess Alaska Airlines is super punctual because they're already starting to call names for people who are “late” to board. We're two of the last people on the jet, so they changed our seats and we're no longer sitting near our friends.
8:30 a.m. — Touchdown in Seattle for our short layover. I hunt for food because I'm ravenous and know I won't be eating until 4 p.m. Chicago time. I get in a super-long line for a jalapeño cheddar bagel breakfast sandwich which was satisfying, but I wish the bagel had more jalapeños. I eat half and wrap up the other half to eat during the flight. (Of course, I end up eating the rest of the sandwich five minutes later.) $8.79
4 p.m. — WE MADE IT. I was afraid there would be delays due to the weather, but we got lucky! Taking a Lyft for six people would cost around $60 and an hour's time, but public transportation cost half that price for the same amount of time, so we opt for transit. I get CTA passes for the group to speed things along ($30). I'll add this to Splitwise (super helpful app that syncs with Venmo) to get paid back later by my friends. $5
6 p.m. — After a successful train ride and a bus fail (we were going in the wrong direction), we decide to hail a Lyft to get to our Airbnb. I do the duty and snag one that only comes to $22.14. Add to Splitwise. We all change and brace for the cold (it's seven degrees outside). $3.36
7:30 p.m. — We have reservations at Girl & The Goat at 9:15, but we are all famished from a day of traveling so we head to The Pizza Parlor about a block away for appetizers. We get nachos, fried calamari, fries, and a pretty strong punch bowl to share. The Queen of Clumsy, a.k.a. me, knocks over her first glass of punch. All of the food was really good, especially the nachos. It comes on a platter of individual portions of nachos, so each bite had all the toppings. My friend picks up the tab and adds it to Splitwise. $22.98
8:30 p.m. — We head to a bar across the street called The Fox Bar. I don't get anything because the 1.5 cups of punch I had already got me a little buzzed. (I am lightweight.) The bar is incredibly intimate with lots of character; I wish we had bars like this back home. The men get seasonal drinks and we all join in on a game of HQ. We make it to question eight before we lose.
8:50 p.m. — A couple of my friends love alcohol so we head to another bar/restaurant upstairs in the same building called The Allis. Very bourgie. The waiter takes too long helping other patrons, so we have to leave after a few glasses of water. Can't miss Girl & The Goat!
9:15 p.m. — OMG I'm so excited. I looked at reservations two months in advance, and there were only two left for the weekend we were going. I booked both time slots because again, I'm anal and couldn't risk missing out.
10:30 p.m. — Wow, that was so good. So good. The restaurant is tapas-style and many of their dishes feature goat. (Go figure.) We ordered 10 for the six of us to share, and it was the perfect amount. Some of my favorites were the goat and chorizo pizza, goat empanadas, scallops, and the pig face (get this dish!). I highly recommend this restaurant, but you probably have to book a couple of months in advance. M. foots the bill of $234.15 and we split on Splitwise. $39.02
11 p.m. — We walk in the frigid temperatures to Three Dots and a Dash, an underground tiki bar that we probably wouldn't have found without the help of a homeless man. Very cool bar, but how do Chicagoans deal with wearing all these winter coats, scarves, beanies, and gloves and constantly having to take them off and put them back on?! Freezing outside, then hot inside. I'm spoiled by California weather. Anyways, I get a really good drink but I don't remember what it's called. It was served in a totem pole! $20
12:30 a.m. — Back to our super cute Airbnb. The only downside is there's only one bathroom, something we didn't realize until after we booked this spot. Showers all around and a few competitive rounds of Taboo later, we all return to our respective rooms. I then proceeded to KTFO. First night in Chicago and I'm lovin' it already!
Daily Total: $99.15
9:15 a.m. — We're out the door and it's one degree outside. My body doesn't know how to handle this. Walk to the transit station since it's only a few minutes away. M. foots the day passes for everyone, and someone makes racist comments to my group (we're all Asian) while we wait for the train. It's hard just standing there and taking it, but some people are ignorant and don't deserve my time of day. $10
9:45 a.m. — We make it to Wildberry Cafe near Millenium Park. I get the Slow Roasted Brisket Hash, and OMG, droooool. I'm not a big fan of breakfast food, but that was probably one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. The portions are MASSIVE, but M. and I annihilate that thing. He gets a veggie-filled omelet, but I think I can confidently declare my choice supreme. $19.78
11 a.m. — Backtrack to Ross a block away since my friends need thicker socks and a beanie. Head over to Millennium Park after since it's across the street. Didn't know the Bean was here, but hooray for randomly crossing off a touristy destination!
11:30 a.m. — Coffee break at Goddess Café. M. and I actually get tea because we're not big coffee drinkers ($3 to M.). The perfect solution to another cold day. Hop into a Lyft ($2.15 for my share) to go to the Field Museum! $5.15
12 p.m. — Okay, The Field Museum is insanely extensive and I couldn't even see all the exhibits before tapping out. There are LOTS of things to see here (animals, history, science, and more), and for $20 (student pricing), it's well worth it. Struggled again with managing my winter gear. I ended up sweating a lot. $20
3 p.m. — Thankfully, the Shedd Aquarium is right next door so we waddle on over. Why is admission $20 more for out-of-state visitors?! Very cool aquarium regardless — but I'm not sure if it beats Monterey Bay Aquarium. $40
5 p.m. — I'm all museum-ed and aquarium-ed out. Starving again. Hop on a Lyft to Portillo's ($4.49 for my share) to get a hot dog because Chicago. M. and I got two Chicago-style dogs and a regular fries to share. It's a very solid hot dog, but nothing special. They're also pretty small. Or maybe I'm just really hungry? $8.49
6 p.m. — Stop by Walgreens across the street to pick up a few gallons of water since our Airbnb only provides old milk. I also get hand warmers because gloves just aren't cutting it. We see a puffy little boy in a stroller who resembles the Michelin Man, and I just about melt from cuteness. M. pays.
7:30 p.m. — Back at our Airbnb thanks to another Lyft ($6.02 for my share). Got ready to head out again, then made our way to Gus' Fried Chicken. We got a 16-piece meal for four of us to share, a four-piece tender meal for the other two, mac and cheese, baked beans, potato salad, and coleslaw. Oh, and sweet tea for everyone! Stupid-sweet but highly addictive. I love fried chicken, but Gus' only serves spicy fried chicken and I wish it was spicier ($16.04). $22.06
9 p.m. — My friend made reservations at a super unique but pricey bar called The Aviary. The experience is unparalleled, but I'm not a big drinker so I don't know if I would go back and pay those prices again. My drinks weren't bad, but I don't think I appreciate alcohol enough to love their cocktail options. Regardless, if you get a chance, go for the experience. All of their food is enough for one person only, but my two girlfriends and I shared this matcha ice cream dessert. So yum. $59
11 p.m. — We meet up with our friend's cousins who live in Chicago ($3.15 for Lyft), and they bring us to the Navigator Taproom. Cool spot with poppin' music. I want to dance so badly but I am shy and it is a taproom. I'm already buzzed at this point, so I opt out of alcohol again. There were so many beers and ciders I wanted to try! I did indulge in free popcorn though. $3.15
12 a.m. — We walk to a bar down the street and all the Christmas lights dangling from the ceiling reminded me of Stranger Things. More poppin' music, but at least I get to dance this time! I definitely feel extremely Bay Area because my friends and I dance like we would at home but everyone else is just … standing there. Unsurprisingly, it's hard to dance with a coat, scarf, and beanie on. We leave after less than half an hour for late-night ramen!
12:30 a.m. — The friend who has cousins in Chi is drunk at this point. I find it low-key hilarious because this is his girlfriend's first time seeing him on this level and she is not having it. (They have been dating for about four months.) Still, he is having the time of his life with his family and that's all that really matters, right? We go to Furious Spoon for ramen and you guessed it, more alcohol. M. and I get the Furious ramen to share, and it is pretty good for a ramen joint that probably serves drunkards. I pay. $17.24
1:30 a.m. — We hail a Lyft back to our Airbnb ($2.94). Drunk friend throws up all his ramen and we see it frozen on the ground the next morning. M. and I chat for a while about traveling in a group, especially with three couples. We're all at different stages in our relationships and it's interesting to see the dynamics between each couple. Most of us have been friends for years though, so nothing is too new. $2.94
4 a.m. — I get up to pee and my friend, who has been summoned to the couch per his girlfriend's adamant demand, scares the shit out of me because he pops up like a zombie from his sleep. M., my other friend, and I try to get him to drink water. Our efforts are futile.
Daily Total: $207.81
11 a.m. — It's our last full day in Chicago. One thing I don't enjoy about traveling in groups is that everyone wakes up at different times. M. and I are early birds, and when we travel, we stick to that schedule so we can take advantage of our time in a new city. It's a little frustrating, but what can you do? On a brighter note, we call a Lyft to head to Eataly for lunch! $3.51
12:30 p.m. — So. Much. Italian. food. We chose four pastas and a pizza for lunch in the upstairs restaurant. My expectations were too high, but I was still happy. My friend drunkenly left his camera at The Aviary the previous night, but I picked it up in secret. We try to ride out not telling him for as long as possible, but after lunch, we spill the beans and even get the waiter in on the prank. We have several hearty laughs, and I my friend treats me to pistachio and coffee gelato. Thanks, buddy! $20.89
1 p.m. — Get a four-pack of adorably tiny pastries from the stand next to the gelato. So delectable. Only four out of the six of us are up for the chilly challenge of trekking to the Skydeck, which takes about half an hour. Lucky for me, majority rules. I prefer walking when I can to take in the scenic views and really get to experience the city! $6.47
1:30 p.m. — Skydeck's lines are so long and it is so, so hot in there. As a roller coaster enthusiast, I thought I was set with heights forever. That was true until I stepped onto the Ledge at the Skydeck. Never again. At least our pictures are cute. I also witnessed a proposal! My heart. $24
3 p.m. — We find a photo booth near the Skydeck's gift shop! M. and I hop in after our friends. He charges it to his card.
3:30 p.m. — Lyft over to Lincoln Park Zoo to check out the few animals that can survive in the winter as well as their Zoo Lights. I love that this zoo is open 365 days a year and admission is free! $4
5:15 p.m. — Lyft to Pequod's Pizzeria ($2.39)! I'm stoked because I love pizza but have been a fan of thin crust my whole life. I was lucky enough to snag reservations at 6 p.m. a few weeks earlier, but I wasn't sure if that meant we just got priority wait times or we actually had reservations. We get there about 20 minutes early, and ended up getting seated at 6 p.m.! $2.39
7 p.m. — We order a deep-dish pizza (sausage, pepperoni, and garlic on half), but that thing takes 45 minutes and I pretty much inhale it when it came. The friends who didn't want garlic quickly realized their mistake. I'm a strong believer in garlic making everything better. Pequod's definitely lived up to the hype for me! $6.21
8 p.m. — Tonight was declared munchies night because it was our last night in Chicago. Lyft to Crisp for Korean fried chicken. $2.75
8:15 p.m. — Man, this place is tiny AF. There's nowhere to stand and I spin in circles moving around for everyone. We order five wings for the six of us to share since we only wanted to try it. Very yummy food in a very, very cramped space. $2.39
9 p.m. — Next stop: Honey Butter Fried Chicken. Sadly, I don't love this place. It's a modern twist on classic southern fried chicken, but I'll stick with the original. $4.42
9:40 p.m. — Hop off a Lyft ($4.09) and into Mindy's Hot Chocolate. To my surprise, it is a sit-down restaurant with a 45 to 60-minute wait, so we get three old-fashioned hot chocolates to-go (one per couple). So good! It tastes like a real chocolate bar was melted to become a delicacy. So satisfying on a cold Chicago night. I pay for our hot chocolate ($12.16). $16.25
10 p.m. — Last stop of the night: Small Cheval. We had plans to go to the famous Au Cheval, but they were closed due to renovations. Bummer. Thankfully, Small Cheval doesn't disappoint! I'm utterly stuffed at this point, but I have the mentality of eating as much as I can in a new city. The four of us get a cheeseburger and fries to share, and I wish that was one of our actual meals. I would've been so content eating a full cheeseburger and order of fries myself. They basically have garlic aioli on tap. If Small Cheval is this good, I wonder how Au Cheval tastes. $4.75
11 p.m. — Lyft back to the Airbnb ($4). Everyone was too tired to hit up one last bar, so we opted for a movie night instead. Started with How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and ended with The Little Rascals. To be honest, that was the perfect way to end our trip. $4
Daily Total: $102.03
11 a.m. — Check out of our Airbnb and take a Lyft to Wasabi for ramen. $7.61
12 p.m. — M. and I share the spicy black garlic ramen (must try!) and a wagyu beef rice bowl. We also ordered a takoyaki to share with the whole table, and they accidentally send us a second order out and tell us to keep it! $22.79
12:30 p.m. — Lyft to O'Hare airport. Until next time, Chi-beria! $2.46
5:30 p.m. — We land in SEA again for a layover, and I'm desperately craving clam chowder. Thankfully, there's a restaurant near our gate that sells it. M. pays while I dash to the restroom.
8 p.m. — Back in San Jose. My parents pick us up, and I'm disappointed that my puppy isn't in the car. Drop off M., who lives three minutes away, and make my way home to be greeted by my overly-excited pup!
9 p.m. — I knock out. Traveling is tough.
Daily Total: $32.86
8 a.m. — Wake up to take my pup out. He's an eight-month-old Terrier mix and we adopted him last summer after our old dog passed away the previous year. I love having a dog in my life.
2 p.m. — I finally get to try on a pair of booties from Urban Outfitters and a pair of heels from ASOS that arrived while I was in Chicago — both of which I got on sale. The booties are painfully uncomfortable, and the heels are not my style after all. At least that means I will get $65 back.
5 p.m. — Spent a good chunk of my day trying to prepare for another onsite interview tomorrow. I got distracted and freak out when I realize the time and see I h've barely gotten anything done. I resort to doing laundry and choosing my interview outfit.
11 p.m. — Sleep time.
Daily Total: $0
8 a.m. — Another day, another interview. As much as I complain, I'm very grateful that I'm given these opportunities. I've only been applying to companies in the city because there are more creative options there. The commute is not ideal, but I have a better chance of finding a job I'll love.
9:30 a.m. — Head out to the South Fremont/Warm Springs BART station today because it's closer. Fare and parking come out to $17.50 but it's reimbursed by my Reserve card ($17.50). I still have my brand new umbrella because it actually did not rain last week.
11 a.m. — I arrive in SF, and it turns out the office is near the Pier! I'm really hitting all the offices in prime locations. I'm early (as usual) and a bit hungry, so I walk to a Starbucks close to the office for a croissant and a restroom break. $2.45
11:45 a.m. — Interview time! I really liked the people, but I end up not advancing in the interview process. I'm okay though because their reasoning is something I am not surprised by, and the hiring manager told me I am a high performer and wants to stay connected. Plus one for a networking opportunity.
1:20 p.m. — I have a little over an hour and a half to kill before my next interview, so I walk over to Onigilly and get a rice bowl. $11.91
2:15 p.m. — Lyft line over to the next interview. ($5.92 reimbursed)
3:30 p.m. — The hiring manager allocated an hour for this interview, but we end up chatting for only half an hour. I felt better about speaking with the team members last week than I did with today's manager. I'm nervous because she is the one I would report to, so I'm not sure how this will turn out. Fingers crossed. Lyft to the Embarcadero BART station. I really wanted to get a burrito from El Farolito, but I remind myself of everything I ate in Chicago and focus on getting home ASAP. ($7.24 reimbursed)
5:15 p.m. — I am home and go straight for the food. I eat my mom's feast of a pork and egg dish, another red pork dish, green beans, and ginger soup since a couple people in my family are sick. I was planning to complete a skills assessment test tomorrow, but I start working on it after I eat dinner to get it out of the way. I start to feel a bit down and worry that I won't get to move forward with that position, so I start maniacally applying to jobs.
8:30 p.m. — I texted M. earlier about wanting to get boba, so when I tell him I finished the assessment early, he asks if I want to go celebrate. I pick him up for boba nearby and get a yogurt green tea. M. pays for the drinks, but I end up wanting a snack and getting fried squid rings. It's a great deal because it's happy hour! $4.34
10 p.m. — Get home, shower, nightly skincare routine, in bed by 10:30. Good night, world.
Daily Total: $18.70
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.
Have a Money Diary you'd like to share? Right now, in addition to our ongoing diaries, we're looking for potential diarists along the following themes:
1. Your Spending In Your State: We want to run one Money Diary from a different state each week. Want to rep your state? Submit here!
2. New Year, New Job: Many people start reassessing their professional goals in January — and that can include looking for a new profession. Submit your job search Money Diary here.
Have questions about how to submit or our publishing process? Read our Money Diaries FAQ doc here: r29.co/mdfaqs