A Week In San Francisco, CA, On $20/Hour

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.
Ahead of National Twins Day, we present Twin Week, where we’re tracking the spending of five sets of twins. Just because twins share the same DNA, doesn’t mean they share the same money habits, so we thought it’d be a fun experiment to compare and contrast the way millennial twins are saving and spending. To kick off the week: Here’s a set of twins living in Portland, OR, and San Francisco, CA, respectively.
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This diary: A merchandise coordinator working in fashion and apparel who makes $20 per hour and spends some of her money this week on a leopard cowboy hat. Her twin is a barista and server.
Occupation: Merchandise Coordinator
Industry: Fashion & Apparel
Age: 21
Location: San Francisco, CA
Income: $20/hour
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,150-1,400 (depending on how much overtime I work)
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $800 for my own room in a three-bedroom house
Student Loan Payment: $400 (One loan is under my dad and the other is under me, but I pay off both.)
Health/Dental Insurance: $80
Muni Pass: $75
Renters Insurance: $13.80
Spotify: $9.99
Hulu/Netflix: $0 (I use my sister and dad's accounts.)
Phone: $0 at the moment, but this will change to $50 when I take over in two months.
Car Insurance: $0 now, but this will change to $85 when I take over in two months.
Utilities: $50-85
Credit Card Payment: $100-200
Savings: $25-100 (Anything I have leftover from my paycheck plus random increments through the Digit app.)

Day One

6:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off, and I'm not in the mood to move. I stayed up late last night watching the first episode of the last season of The Challenge. So sad this era has come to an end :(. I finally roll myself out of bed, heat up leftover coffee from yesterday (my sister is cringing somewhere over this), and start doing my makeup and getting ready.
7:45 a.m. — Eyelashes are glued on and I'm all dressed for today. I make avocado toast with Sriracha and nutritional yeast — a.k.a. my everyday breakfast.
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8 a.m. — Time to leave. I trek three blocks uphill to the Muni stop and wait for the shuttle to arrive, as the rail service is down for the next two months. I get on the bus and don't pay (pray for no Muni police) because my commuter benefits got messed up due to having three pay periods last month.
8:55 a.m. — Make it off the second bus (didn't pay again, sorry SF Muni) and stop into the coffee bar at the market near my office. My boyfriend, G., and I usually stop in together, except he's at the doctor this morning. The barista rings me up for two coffees, and I notice too late. I grab both and go to work. $6
9:05 a.m. — I offer the coffee to five of my coworkers until someone finally takes it off my hands. Then I settle in with emails and finish a project from yesterday.
12:45 p.m. — My starvation finally hits me and I heat up some leftover tofu scramble from last night and eat at my desk. (Despite just reading an article about how eating at your desk makes you less productive, but whatever.)
2 p.m. — Today is moving by so slowly, so I get up, purge some old sample clothes, and reorganize a few things while listening to My Favorite Murder.
5:15 p.m. — Finally outta work! I head down to the bus stop and wait 15 minutes because the first one that arrives is full and I'd rather just wait it out for the next one.
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5:50 p.m. — On the shuttle back to my neck of the woods, I see that good ol' Karl The Fog is doing some serious rolling in once we reach the Twin Peaks. I check in with my boyfriend to see when he'll be done today and ask if he wants to get dinner. Our offices are right next to each other, but he's usually at work later than I am, which is the case today, so we raincheck for another time this week.
6:20 p.m. — I eventually make it home. Such a pain that it takes literally over an hour to go four miles because of the rail service being down. I'm starving, so I whip up vegan mac and cheese with broccoli. I make a roux-based sauce and it's kind of bland, but I add extra lemon juice and nutritional yeast. I'll perfect it one day.
8 p.m. — Hang out in my room and watch the newest episode of The Bold Type. Not sure how I'm feeling about this season...but Jane got her job back!!
10 p.m. — I'm starting to doze off, but keep getting annoyed by the new motion sensor light coming from the house behind mine 😑. I hit my weed pen and slowly drift off.
Daily Total: $6

Day Two

6:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I'm struggling again to get up. I eventually do my makeup and get dressed.
7:30 a.m. — Coffee and avocado toast for breakfast, and then I put my lunch together for the day.
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8 a.m. — Leave for work and get on the shuttle. My roommate is close behind me and we grab spots by each other.
8:35 a.m. — We pull up to the transfer stop for people who need to go downtown, and someone hops on telling us that the stations are experiencing a power outage for the next three stops. Everyone remains on the bus, and I'm trapped in the back corner.
9:05 a.m. — I arrive at work and am so sick of being late this week! I settle in with office coffee, go through my emails, and tune into My Favorite Murder.
9:15 a.m. — Get a text from Digit about my account balance for today. It saved me $1.01 yesterday. Woohoo! I find it's much easier to save through Digit — I hardly notice when the money is leaving since it's a separate account.
12:35 p.m. — Work is slow today and I've spent most of my time just browsing competitors' sites to see what we can do differently in the next few quarters. I'm STARVING, but G. is trying to get me to wait to eat until he can take his lunch, which is almost always way after mine.
1:30 p.m. — G. is finally ready to eat, so I take my quinoa salad and meet him at the market in between our offices.
2:15 p.m. — Get back to my desk a lil later than I would have liked. Back to the grind.
4 p.m. — Work is still super slow, and I browse Zocdoc and my insurance company's sites to try to find a new therapist, primary care physician, and gynecologist. I was in therapy for three months last year due to depression and stopped going once I moved to the Bay Area. I see doctors on Zocdoc who might work, but I don't make any appointments.
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5:05 p.m. — Outta work and on the trek home. I get to the first bus stop right when the bus pulls up and make my transfer on time...but I don't pay again because I'm still waiting for the next half of my monthly pass to come through tomorrow. I continue the episode of My Favorite Murder that I started earlier and get excited because they're talking about someone who was portrayed on an episode of Mindhunter.
6:15 p.m. — Get home and snack on leftover pasta from yesterday while watching Mindhunter.
7:10 p.m. — G. is home from work, so I meet him at his house and we go to a brewery that we both like.
7:45 p.m. — The brewery has Guava Gose on tap, and I go for it since I'm into sours and goses. We both get drinks, veggie burgers, and fries, and split the bill down the middle, even though G. offers to pay. $30.53
8 p.m. — Get back to my house and watch a few episodes of Mindhunter. G. has been trying to get me to watch this for a while, so he doesn't mind rewatching.
10:15 p.m. — We make it through three episodes and decide to call it a night. I take a shower and then we hop into bed, take few hits of my weed pen, and pass out.
Daily Total: $30.53

Day Three

6:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I hop out of bed, do my makeup, and get dressed.
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7:20 a.m. — G. usually walks home in the mornings since we live five blocks apart, but I offer to drive him home this morning because I've been trying to be a better girlfriend.
7:40 a.m. — Coffee and avocado toast for breakfast, and then I watch some YouTube videos before I have to run out the door.
8 a.m. — I grab the rest of my quinoa salad, black bean tortilla chips, and remaining vegan pesto, and head for the door. I hop on the shuttle.
9:05 a.m. — Make it to work late for the fifth time this week. So annoying. I settle in with emails and decide to make shitty office coffee, since my last paycheck was lower than normal due to being out for a day and having a holiday last week.
10:31 a.m. — I update some of my Excel files and reconcile receipts for the last fiscal week. One of the guys on our team brought his teenage daughter in today, which makes me miss my dad a lot, since I used to go to work with him from time to time when I was younger. I send him a text.
11:30 a.m. — My boss gives me a project that should have been handed out way earlier in the week. I snack on chips and pesto while working on it and tying up other loose ends for the day.
1 p.m. — Decide to break for lunch. I'm out of arugula for my salad, so I go to the market and get a small container from the salad bar. I also get kalamata olives and a cranberry La Croix. $4.35
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1:15 p.m. — I decide not to eat with coworkers today, since I'm going to a work happy hour later and I don't want to spend the whole day with them. Am I the only one who doesn't feel the need to be super close with EVERYONE they work with? It's not because I don't like them — I'm just kind of introverted and like my own time.
2 p.m. — I finish up projects and get caught off guard by a call with an annoying vendor.
3:30 p.m. — I head out to visit our flagship store with the team. A coworker drives us.
4:30 p.m. — Our store visits are always subpar. I'm really trying to understand fast fashion more and the company I work for is making some serious changes, but our stores need facelifts pretty badly. I put $8 on my Clipper Card and take Bart back to the office with a coworker. $8
4:45 p.m. — My coworker and I get off Bart and walk towards the brewery for happy hour. Men make gross passes at us, but we keep going.
5 p.m. — I get two goses to drink. G. ends up meeting us there and buys me one more. I close out my tab and pay $14 plus tip. $16
7:45 p.m. — I'm exhausted from forced interaction and slightly annoyed. G. and I leave and walk to one of my fave Mexican places, where I get a burrito. It's not as good sober as it would be if I were drunk. $9.99
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8:30 p.m. — G. and I. take the bus home. We don't Uber for once and are pretty proud of ourselves!
9:30 p.m. — We get back to my house and try to decide on a movie, which we never can, so we watch the most recent episode of MasterChef and then pass out.
Daily Total: $38.34

Day Four

9 a.m. — Sleep in, snuggle with my sweet boy, and then finally get out of bed. I'm so incredibly happy this man is in my life. We met on Tinder about a month after I moved to the Bay. He is literally the nicest/best person I know.
9:40 a.m. — We make coffee and finish an episode of Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell and Back that we started last night. I fucking love Gordon.
10:30 a.m. — Switch to Mindhunter. I'm not as invested in the last few episodes as I was in the beginning :(.
12:45 p.m. — Tell G. it's time for him to bounce so I can get shit done. I drop him off at his house and then head to the post office.
1:10 p.m. — I mail my stepmom a birthday card ($0.50 for a stamp). Then I head next door to Ross. I usually go in to see if I can find any cooking utensils, gardening tools, or just random things I might need. I see a kitchen trash can, but it's $30 and technically we don't need a new one, so I pass for now. $0.50
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1:30 p.m. — Stop into Trader Joe's. I used to shop for two weeks at a time but I kind of fell off of that schedule, so I've been going weekly. I need to learn how to scale down on spending. I leave with avocados, arugula, lemons, limes, garlic, corn tortillas, tofu, frozen broccoli, a potato, cherry tomatoes, ginger powder, lentil soup, quinoa, rice, black beans, garbanzo beans, black bean tortilla chips, and hummus. $42.55
2 p.m. — I get home, put everything away, and then embark on a kitchen and fridge/freezer clean out. For some reason I feel like I'm the only one in my house who does this, but I really don't mind. Then I move to my room and deal with a pile of clothes that's been building up for the last week.
5:15 p.m. — I lay on the couch while browsing Depop and finishing Mindhunter...not that keen on the ending, but I will def watch season two. I make an asparagus and mushroom pasta with hummus and lots of lemon juice. Again, something I need to perfect.
7:30 p.m. — My roommate comes home and tells me that we're all going out tonight, so I drag myself off the couch and put on makeup.
8:45 p.m. — Some of our friends arrive at our place to pregame. I had intended to go to the store to get beer, but instead I settle for the remainder of shitty beer that our other roommate bought when she had friends in town recently. I also finish a bottle of rum that my sister and I got the last time she was in town. I chase a shot with water and gag a little.
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10:45 p.m. — I call an Uber for half of us to go to a bar, since I have a 40% off promo. It ends up being $13.35, but I ask them to split and we each pay $4.50. $4.50
11 p.m. — We get to the bar and my roommate and his friends "accidentally” go to a different bar 10 blocks away. We're slightly annoyed, since we always go there, but we walk down that way to meet them. (And get catcalled, as per usual. When will men learn???) We stop at a different bar on the way and I take $40 out of the ATM and brave the $2 transaction fee. $2
11:30 p.m. — We make it to the other bar and G. and his roommate are also there. It's super crowded, hot, and too loud for me. I ride out the remainder of my drunk and we walk to a different bar.
12:45 a.m. — We're all over it, so we decide to go home. Thankfully we all live in close proximity to one another, so G. calls the Uber and adds our friends' stops.
1:15 a.m. — G. and I get dropped off first, and I notice that he's pretty drunk and looking a little queasy. I put him to bed right away.
1:20 a.m. — I'm starving, but G. really doesn't have much for me to snack on. I climb into bed with a really drunk boy who is already passed out and read news articles until I fall asleep.
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Daily Total: $49.55

Day Five

10:30 a.m. — G. and I sleep in extra late today and laze around in his bed until I remember that I didn't eat much last night. He gets up to make me coffee, avocado toast, and hashbrowns — truly a hero.
11:30 a.m. — G. showers and I tidy up his room.
12 p.m. — We walk to the Safeway across the street from his apartment and pick up snacks for an outdoor concert we're going to today. The park next to my house has a free concert series every Sunday during the summer. I get a bottle of wine ($10) and two bags of chips, since they're two for $5. G. grabs some Follow Your Heart sliced vegan cheese, Ritz crackers, a bag of cherries, and a Coke. $15
12:15 p.m. — We go to my house and I quickly whip up a chickpea salad. We pack a bag and walk to the park/amphitheater.
1 p.m. — We snag a spot really close to the stage and set up our spread, where we snack and play a few games of rummy. G. is way better than I am and I always cheat, but he allows it because I'm cute.
2 p.m. — The music starts, so we kick back. The first group is a Filipino rap group from Toronto with traditional instruments. So entertaining. Then Band 2 comes on, and it's an Indian band with a badass girl playing the sitar.
4 p.m. — We decide to call it quits for the day. I'm tired from lack of sleep, red wine, and all the cherries. I had no idea that cherries were a natural source of melatonin???!
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4:05 p.m. — Back at my house, I put all the leftovers away and then G. and I fool around a little. Afterwards, I suggest watching Princess Diaries, but G. passes out before I can even turn it on.
5:45 p.m. — G. wakes up and I put on the movie. Mia and Michael 4ever!! We make plans to watch the sequel later this week.
9 p.m. — I take G. home so I can get my stuff together for tomorrow. Then I get home, do a face mask, and fall into a hole of YouTube videos about Gilmore Girls plot holes(??).
10:30 p.m. — I shower, wind down for the evening, and try to read my book, but I haven't been super motivated lately, so I just hit my weed pen and go to bed.
Daily Total: $15

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — Alarm goes off and I'm confused that it's Monday. I do my morning routine, make coffee and avocado toast, and head out.
8:05 a.m. — Walk up to the shuttle and pass on the first one because it's packed. I settle into a much less crowded one and scour Depop and emails.
8:40 a.m. — When I get off the shuttle, a nice man from Muni gives me a little SF Muni hand sanitizer! I am a compulsive hand washer, especially because I'm on transit all the time, and would rather not get the bubonic plague from a handrail.
9 a.m. — Make it on time today! I catch up on emails from last week and then start on promoting reports. I usually want to pull my hair out at this point, but my counterpart offers to deal with the harder report this morning.
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1:15 p.m. — I have leftover cherries and use the chickpea dip to make a sandwich for lunch.
3:30 p.m. — Emails are slow today, so I check out the extra 50% off sale on the Urban Outfitters website. I really want this jacket that was originally $119 and is now at $30 with the discount. I leave it in my cart and will decide if I should get it later.
4:30 p.m. — I get an email from DoTheBay about some events coming up this week. There's a screening of Yellow Submarine at a theater by my office, so I ask G. if he wants to go see it on Wednesday. Tickets are $12, so I wait on buying them until he confirms.
5:10 p.m. — My boss has been in meetings all day and finally comes back to our pod to tell me about 200 things that need to get done. Thankfully she tells me to wait until tomorrow, and I head out for the day.
6:45 p.m. — Make it home and snack on salt and vinegar chips while I throw rice in my rice cooker (best gift I've ever received, by the way).
7:20 p.m. — Rice is done and I make a bowl with steamed broccoli, edamame, shredded carrot, avocado, and lots of soy sauce and Sriracha. I throw the rest of the rice in containers with black beans, salsa, arugula, and soy chorizo for lunches this week.
8 p.m. — I go into the living room and ask my roommate if I can put on The Bachelorette. I'm really over this season but I'm too far in to give up. I scour Depop while vaguely paying attention. I find a leopard print cowboy hat that I must have, but hold off on getting it.
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10 p.m. — Finish watching The Bachelorette and go to bed. I'm not surprised by the outcome. Colton is LAME.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

6:30 a.m. — Wake up a little earlier today and hang out in bed until 7. I do my makeup and get ready for the day.
7:25 a.m. — Coffee and avocado toast.
8 a.m. — Put my lunch containers and yoga clothes in my bag. Grab my yoga mat and the rest of my coffee and head out the door.
8:30 a.m. — It's Amazon Prime Day, so while I'm on the bus I check the deals. (I don't have a Prime account, but I occasionally use my boyfriend's or my dad's.) There's a good deal on a Magic Bullet and a NutriBullet, but I hold off. I do cave in and place an order for a the leopard print cowboy hat ($12.99, and yes, it's as amazing as it sounds) and a pack of plastic flasks for a festival next month. $26.97
8:45 a.m. — Get off the shuttle and hustle across the street to wait for my transfer bus. I check my email while waiting and see that my mom emailed me. Things kind of started to fall out between us when I moved here, and then I cut off contact with her about three months ago. The only way she can contact me is through email, and I have yet to reply. I contemplate it because I've been super down about it lately, but I don't want to cry before work, so I table the thought.
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9:20 a.m. — One of my higher ups asks me to train our sample coordinator on something. I hope this puts a fire in her to ask for a promotion, because she's been in her “seasonal role” for over a year, and I really want her to succeed!
11 a.m. — I start training her, but I don't think she understands what I'm talking about, and I have to keep going back and forth.
11:45 a.m. — I get a text from my friend reminding me about The Office trivia tonight. I told my other friend I'd go to yoga with her, but thankfully the bar and yoga place are within walking distance, so I'll run over to trivia after I'm done with yoga.
2 p.m. — G. asks me to meet him for lunch. I heat up my soy chorizo bowl and meet him at the market.
2:10 p.m. — He still hasn't gotten his sandwich and I only have 15 minutes left of my break!! I'm slightly annoyed, but I know it's not his fault. He buys me a La Croix, like the gentleman he is. We eat really fast, and I give him a kiss and run back to meet with my boss.
4 p.m. — I log into my bank account to check if my student loan payment went through, and realize that it won't be posted until tomorrow. However, I notice a charge for an Uber from today ($5.16) that I didn't take, plus a non-bank ATM charge from Saturday for an additional $2.50. I call my bank to sort it out. I also see that Digit saved me $1.16 yesterday.
4:25 p.m. — After being on hold, I finally get through to a banker and he files a claim for me. I thank him for his time and get back to working. I really appreciate people who work in call centers. It's probably one of the most demanding jobs.
5:15 p.m. — I make it to yoga and my friend meets me there. We've been friends since high school and she is one of the main reasons I moved to the Bay Area. She is a literal angel.
6 p.m. — I'm surprised by how much core stuff is involved in today's class. Can't complain though. I pay $2 for the donation. (Class is donation-based.) $2
7:10 p.m. — After class, I change back into a t-shirt and jeans and run/walk to meet my other friends at trivia. I get a saison to drink ($8.35 +$1 tip). $9.35
8:30 p.m. — We finally find a spot to sit at the bar, and I get an Anderson Valley Melon Gose. I pay $7 and don't tip because I'm out of cash — oops. $7
10:30 p.m. — We tie for third place and win a $30 gift certificate to the restaurant at the bar! One of our team member's boyfriend's offers to drive us all home.
10:45 p.m. — I get dropped off at home and stumble inside. I'm wiped out from today. I jump in the shower really quick, eat the leftover sushi bowl from yesterday, and climb into bed. I hit my weed pen and pass out.
Daily Total: $45.32
If you are experiencing depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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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