A Week In Bahrain On A $15,000 Salary

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.
Today: a CEO/producer working in film who makes $15,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on bubble tea.
Editor's note: All currency has been converted to USD.
Occupation: CEO/producer
Industry: Film
Age: 30
Location: Bahrain
Salary: $15,000
Paycheck Amount (1x/month): $800–$1,300, depending on projects finished each month
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live with my parents. It's a cultural thing; "kids" here don't move out until they're married, and it's completely not frowned upon.)
Loans: $0
Gym: $200 (includes unlimited classes)
Netflix: $9.99
Internet: $35
Phone: $30
Savings: I try to put at least $250 aside every month.
Advertisement

Day One

7:40 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but my sore throat doesn't let me get out of bed. One of the perks of working for myself is not having to call anyone to say I'm sick. However, the guilt is real.
8:45 a.m. — I finally roll out of bed, gargle some Betadine, and brush my teeth. I also quickly do my morning skin-care routine, which consists of washing my face with my favorite cleanser from The Body Shop, then using my toner, vitamin C serum, Murad eye cream, and Tarte moisturizer. It's a T-shirt-and-jeans kind of day, so I hurriedly put those on, prepare coffee in my French press (which includes a generous pinch of cinnamon), and head to work.
9:15 a.m. — I stop to get gas on my way to the office. Living in the Middle East gives me cheap access to gas, so I don't worry much about budgeting for this. I make it to work and get down to business. I just came back from visiting my boyfriend in Paris (we are doing a long-distance relationship for now, but we are planning my move there in a few months), so I have much to catch up on at work. $10
11:30 a.m. — I pack my laptop and head out to meet my friend for coffee at her office. I plan to work from home for the rest of the day, because I don't want my cold to get worse.
2 p.m. — My friend and I have a lot to catch up on, especially since I haven't seen her since before my trip, but I have to cut it short because my throat is acting up big-time. I go home for a homemade lunch and a nap.
Advertisement
4:30 p.m. — The nap really helps, and now I feel energised enough to finish up some work. An hour later, I do the laundry and iron the clothes. I live with my parents due to culture and tradition as a non-married woman, but I carry my weight around the house; it makes me feel like I am a better adult. I then get comfortable on the couch and start season two of Mindhunter, and it knocks my socks off.
6:30 p.m. — My stomach starts to rumble, and I am in the mood for something "light," so I order a chicken shawarma sandwich and fries. $10
9 p.m. — My boyfriend FaceTimes me — God, I miss his handsome face. We chat for about 30 minutes, and then I continue reading Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World before going to sleep. I am a huge history buff but always feel like I don't know enough about anything, so I alternate between fiction and nonfiction books every month. I'm quite the avid reader and have surpassed my one-book-a-month New Year's resolution, as I am now on book 15 and it's only August. I'm quite proud of myself, I must say. I pop a serotonin pill and feel my eyes get heavy around 11 p.m. Good night!
Daily Total: $20

Day Two

7:40 a.m. — Alarm goes off! I get out of bed, wash my face, and put on my gym clothes. I am out the door by 8:15, just in time for my 8:30 yoga class.
Advertisement
9:30 a.m. — I always feel so great after leaving the gym, and this new yoga class is no exception. I am skeptical of joining new classes, because the idea of working out with a bunch of strangers gives me major anxiety, but because it's been a quiet summer at the gym, none of the classes have been crazy busy. I am relieved and excited to come back to this one next week.
10:15 a.m. — I decide to work outside of the office today. I feel restless, and I think it's because I just came back from such an amazing trip. Plus, I need some inspiration to work on a passion project I started putting together a while back. I started my video company three years ago and got stuck in a rut of doing nothing but client work, which means restrictive projects — clients find it difficult to think outside the box. As I have a bigger and more experienced team now, I let them handle the day-to-day clients and I try to work on the back-end admin work, as well as kickstarting some in-house productions. I ultimately want to end up making documentaries. I call my friend N., who is also self-employed, and we choose the usual coffee shop to meet up at. I order a soy ice latte and an açai bowl topped with fruits and peanut butter and get to work — but not before reading the Money Diaries! $12
1:30 p.m. — I finish my work, say bye to my friend, and go to my manicure appointment. I don't usually indulge like this (yes, I consider having a manicure a form of indulgence), but I want to feel good about myself, especially since being apart from my boyfriend fills me with anxiety. It's the little methods of self-care that count, right?
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — Nails did, girl. I go with a summer blue hue, which is quite unusual as I almost always go for black or navy blue. Even my manicurist is impressed. I pay ($30) and leave a tip ($10), then drive home. I have lunch with my parents and finish up emails/admin work. I then continue reading my book from the comfort of my couch. $40
6 p.m. — I do laundry and water the plants around the house. My mum takes such good care of her "babies," but hands over the responsibility of watering them to me when she's at work. I then get ready for dinner with my good friend R. I've known him ever since he moved to Bahrain from Belgium for work seven years ago, and although he is twice my age, we have been really great friends ever since. He is treating me to a belated birthday dinner, and I look forward to catching up with him.
10 p.m. — What a fantastic and overwhelmingly great dinner! R. treated me to steak and wine, AND he got me the greatest gift possible. He's an artist, and a few years ago, he sketched a portrait of me and I made him promise me not to sell it because I was planning on saving up for it. Well, tonight he gave it to me! Framed and all. I was so moved by his generosity. He also surprised me with a little cake, too. It was worth making the exception of eating meat for him. I've strived to be a vegetarian for the longest time, so I try to eat meat no more than once a week as a first step. So far it's been easy, because I have never been a fan of meat or chicken. Fish, however, I love.
Advertisement
11 p.m. — I get home, still overwhelmed with my friend's gesture, and call my boyfriend. I fill him in on my evening and tell him how I wished he were with us. I then sit with my parents for a bit as we contemplate where to hang my gift. I tell them not to get too attached to it, because I am planning on taking it with me when I move to France in a few months. I say good night, pop a serotonin pill, and go to bed.
Daily Total: $52

Day Three

7:40 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I am up. I don't like hitting snooze, so waking up on the first go was a proud moment. I think the serotonin helps me wake up fresh and ready to seize the day. I brush my teeth but skip my skin-care routine, because I am hitting the gym today and I don't want to sweat all my expensive products off. I make my cold oatmeal (almond milk, chocolate chips, blueberries, almond butter, and a dash of cinnamon) and head out the door.
9:40 a.m. — We celebrate a fellow gym-goer's birthday today, and I spend a little extra time with her, since she is moving to Estonia soon for grad school. She's not much of a talker, and we've ironically bonded over that. We started going to this gym around the same time and have always had this silent friendship. She is strong and feisty, and I am so proud of her for just going for it! I wish her all the best in her new journey and drive to work while listening to the podcast Conspiracies and Theories.
Advertisement
2 p.m. — I leave work to pick up my dry cleaning and have lunch. Today will be my last day of eating meat and chicken. The dream is to become a vegetarian, but I have failed every time I tried, so I think transitioning to a pescatarian first will help make the shift. The dry cleaner can't find my trousers, so I put on my serious face and give them 48 hours to find it. I tell them I will be back on Saturday and that I will wait in-store until I have them. Shake Shack is a five-minute drive away, so I head there to cool my nerves. I order the ShackBurger, cheese fries with bacon, and an unsweetened ice tea. Jeez, this place is so expensive, but so delicious. Farewell cheeseburgers, I will miss you. $18
3:30 p.m. — The AC maintenance guy is supposed to come in 30 minutes to fix my leaking AC, so I race home and shower quickly. I put on Queer Eye to cheer myself up — I have major PMS blues. My boyfriend calls me midway, and the surprise puts a smile on my face.
5 p.m. —The AC guy never shows up. I leave him an angry message and hope he'll call back soon. I watch an episode of Mindhunter, then get ready to go out. My friends are hosting a non-birthday celebration for me tonight at N.'s house. I really, really dislike birthdays and especially when they are mine, because I always feel guilty about making people do things for me. I never ask for anything for birthdays, but my friends have insisted that we all get together (it's been a while) for a night of beer and games. I go to my other friend W.'s house first to pregame. He picked up ice cream for me because I hate showing up to things empty-handed, and he finally lets me pay him for it. We finish up our drink and cross the road to the "party." $25
Advertisement
12 a.m. — My friends know me so well; they prepared a full-on cheese board with all my favorite cheeses and ordered my favorite mac 'n' cheese from my favorite restaurant. The beer keeps flowing and we play Monikers, which keeps getting funnier and funnier with every sip. It feels so nice to be surrounded by these people, and they fill the void I feel without my boyfriend. Once the crowd starts to dissipate, my two closest friends, W. and L., and I walk to our cars, then look at each other — the look that says let's have a few more drinks at W.'s? We cross back to his, have a drink, and watch the dumbest English show ever, called Naked Attraction. It's hilarious!!!!
1:15 a.m. — Okay, time to head home because I miss my bed. I do my nighttime skin-care routine and lie in bed scrolling through Instagram. I eventually crawl under my blankets and pass out.
Daily Total: $43

Day Four

10:30 a.m. — Friyayyyyyyyy (our weekends are Friday and Saturday here in the Gulf), and the living is easy!!! I open my eyes, look at the clock, and smile — it's been so long since I slept in. Surprisingly, I don't feel guilty about it either, which is very refreshing as I feel guilty about almost everything all the time. The house is empty — my parents are out to some breakfast thing — so I start singing out loud in my T-shirt and underwear. I make coffee, load my humidifier with some essential oils, and browse the web. I like to watch documentaries on Fridays (my favorite genre of films, especially because I want to become a full-time documentary filmmaker), so I choose Child of Rage.
Advertisement
12 p.m. — Wow, that was intense. I go down an internet rabbit hole Googling the person in the film, then decide to watch something lighter, so I settle on Arch of Triumph. I love all movies set during World War II, and this one is a triple whammy because it's set in Paris AND it's in black and white.
1 p.m. — My boyfriend calls to update me on his latest job interview. He's so strong and inspiring, and I really just want to support him endlessly. It gets scary at times, but we have to remain strong for each other. His prospects look bright, and I reassure him that everything will be all right very soon. I then realize the time and quickly change to go to my sister's house for lunch.
3:30 p.m. — It is so nice seeing my sister and her adorable little family. I catch up with my nephews and give them their presents from Disneyland Paris, and they love them. I head back home and decide to take a heavy nap. Friday vibes, right?
5:30 p.m. — Wow, I slept a lot. I am definitely getting my period, because what else would explain this exhaustion? I do the laundry, shower, and head out to my friend L.'s house for a chill night with our third musketeer. I like hanging with the boys because they are so easy and relaxed. We've known each other since forever, so the living is easy with these two.
Advertisement
7 p.m. — I pick the boys up and treat them to some bubble tea ($12.50), which I have been craving so hard lately. It's the PMS, I'm telling you. We then go back to L.'s and watch Hannibal, my favorite villain. I somehow feel bad for him toward the end of the movie. Is that also PMS, or am I just strange? My friends think it's the latter. I treat them to a simple dinner; these guys spoiled me so hard for my birthday, so this is the least I can do ($10). $22.50
11:30 p.m. — I get home, wash my face, apply toner and night cream, and pass OUT!
Daily Total: $22.50

Day Five

7 a.m. — My stomach cramps wake me up. Oh look, blood! I always have a major sigh of relief when I get my period, despite being on the pill and always getting my period on time, every time. I sleepily text my boyfriend “not pregnant” and go back to sleep.
9:40 a.m. — I wake up to terrible news: My cousin in Kuwait just passed away. She suffered from major disabilities her entire life, and I believe she has now finally found peace; it's her parents that I feel so terrible for. I sit with my mum for a bit, then go upstairs with a cup of coffee for some web surfing and writing. I start thinking about our mortality and the soul, but decide to stop and finish watching Arch of Triumph. I go back and forth between watching the movie and checking up on my mum. Apparently, my boyfriend texted her with his condolences, and she was delighted — she already loves him so much, and everything he does is perfect to her. Best. Boyfriend. Ever.
Advertisement
1:15 p.m. — I go to my sister's house for lunch. She makes fish, which is hard to resist. I stay for an hour, then go home and get down to reading my Genghis book — I need to finish this today so I can move on to reading Hannibal tomorrow.
5 p.m. — This book just keeps getting better and better, but I decide to leave the remaining chapter for bedtime tonight. I want to work on writing a summary of it this week, which is something I learned from my smarty-pants boyfriend, so I make a mental note of that. I then put on a face mask, shower, meditate, and watch an episode of Mindhunter.
7 p.m. — I go downstairs to check on my mum and have dinner (leftovers, my favourite!). We both end up on the couch watching Friends, our favorite show. We have a few laughs, which I think is a great way to unwind from today. At 9, I go upstairs to read my book, and I pass out by 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

4:45 a.m. — I wake up with a throbbing migraine, my long lost frenemy. I underwent a homeopathic treatment for it when I was in France back in June and haven't had one since then, which is a huge accomplishment since I had weekly migraines for 16 years. The two-month break was great, but I guess I'm having a heavy period, so this is standard. I take an Advil and try to go back to sleep. I succeed in doing so at around 6.
Advertisement
7:40 a.m. — Alarm for the gym goes off. No thanks, my head is still throbbing.
8:45 a.m. — Okay, fine, fine, I'm up. I still have a mild headache and I can feel it in my right eye, but I force myself to face the day. I change my sheets (Sunday is bedsheet day), shower, and get ready for work. I stop by the pharmacy to buy tampons and Advil ($14) and head to the Starbucks next door for a double-shot iced latte ($5). I have my reusable cup, so brownie points for me. $19
10 a.m. — I make it to work and do my admin work, do a final edit of two videos, and prepare an invoice for a client.
2 p.m. — My headache is getting worse, so it's definitely time to go home. I have lunch with my parents, help my mom in the kitchen, and then miraculously find her a ticket to Kuwait to attend my cousin's funeral. There was only one left, and obviously it's more important for her to go, so I help her book it, all the while thinking, “Who the hell goes to Kuwait?" I pop two more Advils and start working on my Genghis Khan paper.
5 p.m. — I decide to go to the gym, because the guilt of skipping it this morning is way too real. I quickly change and head out the door to make it to the 5:30 class.
7 p.m. — As always, I am so glad I went. Today was strength day, and I hit my record with my bench press — 38 kg! It's slow progress, but it's way better than last year! I head home, take a nice cold shower, and have leftovers for dinner. I'm still hungry, so I snack on three Oreos.
Advertisement
9 p.m. — I binge on Friends again (it always comes on TV around this time) until my headache kicks in again. I manage to get upstairs and lie in bed, too fatigued to even crawl under the covers or turn the lights off. My boyfriend calls to check in on me, and I feel immediately better. I miss his face so much. We talk for about 20 minutes, then it's lights off for me at around 10:15.
Daily Total: $19

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — I slept for over 10 hours and wake up feeling refreshed. I wash my face, brush my teeth, apply vitamin C serum, moisturise, and change. It's way too hot to wear jeans, so I opt for flowy pants and a white T-shirt. I chat with my mom while I grind my coffee beans and ask her to send my condolences to my uncle, then head out the door. I stop to get gas, and since this dumb gas station only takes cash, I can only fill it with the little I have in my wallet. $8
9:45 a.m. — I don't have much to do work-wise today, so I spend two hours working on my summary of the Genghis Khan book. I also dedicate 30 minutes to practicing French on Duolingo. I took private lessons for a year and a half, but my teacher goes away for the summer, so the app is the best I have right now. I must admit, I can speak French pretty well — I think I am just too shy to do so.
Advertisement
2:30 p.m. — I feel like treating myself to lunch, so I head to this deliciously healthy café and order their mac 'n' cheese and pick five items from their salad bar for dinner tonight. This place is more expensive than the rest, but you can taste the difference. I bring my lunch home and eat with my dad. It's nice to spend some alone time with him while my mum is away. $23
4 p.m. — I start reading Red Dragon after lunch, and it is so good. I blitz through 50 pages and decide to give my eyes a break, so I do the laundry, shower, and watch an episode of Mindhunter. L. calls me to hang out, so I get ready and head out.
7 p.m. — I don't like showing up empty-handed, so I stop to pick up some soda and frozen cake — it's the super cheap kind, but it's also the most delicious kind, too — sugary and buttery and cold! I make it to L.'s, where we start watching a new show called The Righteous Gemstones, and it's great. $18
10:30 p.m. — I make it home, brush my teeth, and text my boyfriend back and forth for about an hour. He puts the biggest smile on my face, always without fail.
Daily Total: $49
Advertisement

More from Work & Money

R29 Original Series