A Week In Denver, CO, On A $29,000 Salary

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Today: an administrative assistant working at a nonprofit who makes $29,000 per year and spends some of their money this week on new deodorant.
Occupation: Administrative Assistant
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 24
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $29,000
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $850
Gender Identity: Nonbinary and I use they/them pronouns
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $792 (This is my third of the rent. I also have two roommates who each have a dog. Our total is $2,425 for a three-bedroom house.)
Student Loan Payment: $350
Health Insurance: $44.90
EcoPass: $10 (This is a subsidized bus pass that I get through my employer. The $10 gets pulled out of my paycheck each month.)
Utilities: $30-$80
Streaming Services: $0 (I use my mom's accounts.)
Spotify: $9.99

Day One

6 a.m. — I wake up and immediately put on the new episode of the podcast Glowing Up. I like to put on TV or podcasts when I first wake up, because if I feel like someone's talking at me, it's harder for me to fall back asleep. I put on makeup and clothes, tidy up, and make coffee with lots of soy milk. Normally I cook breakfast, but I recently started Abilify, and it makes me nauseous in the mornings.
8:30 a.m. — My coworker is raving about her new “magic” funnel-shaped ice scraper and claims it's “life-changing.” I know my roommate, C., has been de-icing her windshield with her sleeve like a fool, so I order her one. The cheapest option on Prime is a four-pack, but I figure I'll find three more people who need one, too. $14.99
11:30 a.m. — I realize that scraper was a dumb waste of money and manage to cancel my order before it ships. (-$14.99)
12 p.m. — The nausea persists. I pop some anti-nausea chewables and get a ginger ale from the vending machine. $1.50
2 p.m. — A tattoo artist I follow on Instagram posts some cute botanical flash, and I contact her about availability. We schedule a time for later this week, and I CashApp her a $45 deposit to reserve the piece.
6 p.m. — C.'s terrifying and critical grandma is in town, and C. is cooking dinner for us all tonight. I haven't been able to eat without smoking weed since I started Abilify, so I take a couple hits from my pen when grandma is in the other room. I sit across from her, she fixes her critical eye on me, and I instantly realize I'm way too high for this interaction. Welp, too late now! At least I can enjoy the meal without feeling like I'm going to vomit. C. made a vegan Caesar salad and pasta with pesto-cashew cream and mushrooms and zucchini. Delicious!
7 p.m. — I've been seeing this person, P., for a couple months, and they come over once grandma leaves. We're both nonbinary queers and use they/them pronouns. They've been flaking on our plans with increasing frequency, and this is the first time I've seen them since a group outing a couple weeks ago. It's awkward and the flow isn't there anymore. I've been having my doubts, and this doesn't help.
9:30 p.m. — I get a Lyft for P. and I have a coupon code, so it's only $3.80. Suck it, surge pricing. I eat a medium-boiled egg, then fall asleep listening to an old episode of Who? Weekly. $3.80
Daily Total: $5.30

Day Two

6 a.m. — I wake up and put on Madam Secretary on my phone. I quickly slap on some makeup, get dressed in some new (to me) jeans I bought a few days ago, and run out the door to catch my bus. I also made some toast and very milky coffee, but I'm too nauseous to eat them now, so I bring both with me.
7:40 a.m. — The bus gets me to work 20 minutes early. I'm feeling a little better, so I take the time to eat my breakfast. Big mistake. As soon as I finish, a wave of nausea hits. I'll just have to power through like I have been all week. I'm giving the Abilify a few more days, and then I'll contact my doctor again if I still feel like this.
9 a.m. — I've been thinking about P. all morning and realize it's time to break things off. After getting my breakup text draft approved by an ex I'm still friends with, I send it off. P. responds kindly. The Abilify numbs my emotions and I don't really feel anything in response. I make a note to bring this up in my therapy appointment later this week.
12:30 p.m. — On my lunch break I'm still too nauseous to eat, so I run to a grocery store nearby to pick up a couple things. I get new (hopefully better) anti-nausea medicine, cashews to replace the ones I took from my roommate, a ginger ale I end up being too nauseous to drink, and deodorant. I've been on the hunt for an effective, affordable, aluminum-free deodorant for about a year. I just tried Myro, which I discovered on Instagram and comes with a reusable case and a subscription for deodorant pods that you pop in the case. It's really cute but does absolutely nothing to tame my B.O., so I go back to the best option I've found so far: Schmidt's Charcoal + Magnesium. $24.27
6 p.m. — I take the bus home (free with my EcoPass), and I'm feeling really awful. This is the worst nausea day I've had so far. I take a few hits of our communal bowl when I get home and feel instant relief. I catch up with C. for a bit while our other roommate, R., works on a job application.
7:30 p.m. — Once R. finishes, we go on a 20-minute drive to Sonic, mostly as an excuse to listen to the CD I just bought her. She loves music from the '60s and '70s but somehow never got exposed to Joni Mitchell, so I got her Blue as an introduction. I get a frozen lemonade, jalapeño poppers, and onion rings. We talk about our feelings and eat fried food. It's beautiful. I pay and R. CashApps me for her half. $8.43
8:30 p.m. — When we get home, C. joins us and we watch Blockers. It's dumb but fun. Once it's over, I wash my face, brush my teeth, put on my pink satin sleep mask that makes me feel like Slumber Party Barbie, and pass out.
Daily Total: $32.70

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and feel blissful about not having to go to work. I think President's Day is a useless celebration of our country's history of colonialism, racism, and nationalism...but at least I don't have to go to work. I'm feeling amazing, and it takes me a second to realize why — I forgot to take my Abilify last night. Whoops. This is the first morning I've woken up not miserable since I started it. I think this is a major sign it's not a good fit.
8 a.m. — C. and I take this opportunity to do a Pure Barre DVD I got from the library. It's really hard, and once the instructor slides into a full split, we give up and put on a Barre3 YouTube video instead.
11:30 a.m. — The three of us run a few errands together. The Arc thrift store is our first stop, and I find the perfect pair of trousers I've been searching for for months! And they're only $5. I'm thrilled. Next stop is Trader Joe's. I pick up bread, seltzer, crackers, coffee, and black licorice ($10.37). We also stop by the dispensary so C. can pick up an eighth, but I stay in the car because I don't need anything. $15.37
12:30 p.m. — Once we get home, I realize the tattoo is a dumb idea and cancel my appointment. The artist also kindly returns my deposit. I then go out to the garage to do some maintenance on my bike, but it starts to snow, so I don't stay out long. I spend the rest of the afternoon hanging out with my roommates, painting my nails, and reading a little. I'm currently working on Hollywood's Eve, a very juicy biography of Eve Babitz, a Hollywood “It girl” from the '60s and '70s.
6 p.m. — We borrow a cousin's cable log-in and have some friends over to watch Hallmark's American Rescue Dog Show. I put out the crackers I got and add some Trader Joe's jalapeño-almond dip to the spread. Our friends arrive and add to the snacks as well, including chips and salsa, chili-lime popcorn, and vegan lemon bars. The dog show is the most precious thing. A cute bulldog mix who won Best in Short & Sweet got Best in Rescue (their version of Best in Show), though I was rooting for Cupcake, a three-pound diabetic chihuahua who won Best in Special Needs. Afterward, everyone goes home and I crash.
Daily Total: $15.37

Day Four

7 a.m. — I wake up and decide to try taking Abilify in the morning instead of at night to hopefully curb my nausea. I put on Madam Secretary while I get ready and continue my routine: milky coffee, makeup, get dressed (in my new trousers!), and run out to catch my bus. It's a cold snowy day.
12 p.m. — My nausea returns, so I spend my lunch hour reading Hollywood's Eve, listening to music, and drinking tea. Why does this feel more like a diary of my nausea than my finances?
7 p.m. — I get home from work and call my mom. We chat for a while about recipes, books, our family, etc. When I get off the phone, my appetite is doing weird things and I eat the only meal that sounds appealing: some leftover roasted sweet potatoes and an Earth Balance–and-pickle sandwich. It does the job.
9 p.m. — C. suggests we do a tarot-card pull, since there's a super full moon tonight. The three of us each do a past/present/future spread, where you pull three cards and each one represents a time in your life. The cards are speaking to us clearly tonight — maybe too clearly. C. and I both get cards we each pulled a few weeks ago in our “past” position. It gets emotional and I cry, wash my face, then promptly fall asleep.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

5 a.m. — My body wakes me up and I feel well-rested, despite how early it is. It's probably due to the fact that I fell asleep at 9:30. I use this extra time to do a core and booty-yoga video on YouTube. I'm feeling the healthy start, so I also meditate and read a little from my spiritual guidance book, Start Where You Are by Pema Chodron.
8:30 a.m. — I catch the bus to my therapy appointment. While I'm waiting for my bus transfer, I pop into a convenience store to go to the bathroom. I also buy a pack of cinnamon gum and a medium coffee. $3.33
11 a.m. — This is my first appointment with this therapist, so we spend the whole time going over my mental-health history, and it's exhausting. I cry about 15 gallons of tears and I'm wiped out, so I Lyft home instead of waiting for the bus. I still have that coupon code, so it's not as bad as it could be. $9.30
12 p.m. — I have an ongoing embroidery project with a friend who moved away. We have a piece of fabric we each embroider on, then mail back and forth. Sisterhood of the traveling craft projects! It's my turn, so I embroider a couple little monsters. Once I feel like I'm at a stopping point, I walk with C. and her dog to the post office and mail it off ($5.55). I also pop into the grocery store next door to grab eggs, frozen potatoes, a Diet Dr. Pepper for me (a favorite treat), and a root beer for C. as a thank-you for walking with me ($6.78). $12.33
4 p.m. — Nausea hits me hard, so I get a little high before my friend comes over to watch a movie. We watch this fun but problematic thriller where Audrey Hepburn (terribly) plays a woman who's blind.
7 p.m. — My stepdad wanted to get me a FabFitFun box for Christmas, so he Venmo'd me the money and sent me a coupon code so I could do it myself. I decide to finally sign up, so I pick through the options and finalize my box. This kinda thing is a little Pinterest Mom for my taste, but I'd never turn down a gift.
9 p.m. — I brush my teeth, wash my face, put on a rose sleep mask, and listen to a podcast until I fall asleep. I'm still feeling tired from my therapy sesh, and sleep comes fast.
Daily Total: $24.96

Day Six

7:30 a.m. — I wake up and cozy up with C.'s dog and my book. It's been a while since I've read a biography and I wasn't sure I'd finish this one, but it picks up halfway through and I devour about 100 pages. This is JUICY. I love the vintage gossip.
11:30 a.m. — I'm feeling stagnant and stuck creatively, so I take C.'s dog for a walk to clear my head. It's much colder than I dressed for, so we only make it about three-quarters of a mile before I turn us around. I am feeling more clearheaded, though.
1:30 p.m. — I make an egg-salad sandwich and bake some of the potatoes I got. With this nausea, all I've been craving is protein and carbs. I spend the rest of the afternoon going back and forth between watercoloring, embroidering, reading, and watching TV. I usually meal prep on the second day of my weekend, but last week I was too nauseous to eat the meals I prepped, so I put them in the freezer to (hopefully) eat this week.
5 p.m. — I walk to my favorite coffee shop in the neighborhood, The Bardo, and spend way too much on a turmeric latte with coconut milk. Sorry, checking account, but this was worth it. It's so flavorful and spicy in the way a good chai is. I read and drink my latte. $5.99
6:30 p.m. — When I get home, I realize how sedentary I've been all day and do a preventative yoga video for hip and lower-back pain. It feels delicious. Then I repeat my lunch and have another egg-salad sandwich with potatoes.
8 p.m. — To honor Black History Month and because I'm interested, I watch I Am Not Your Negro. It's hard to watch, but I'm glad I did it. I feel exhausted when it's done and do a quick nighttime routine before falling asleep.
Daily Total: $5.99

Day Seven

6:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off and I can't remember why until...oh yeah, I did tell myself I'd wake up early to exercise. I gulp down a couple glasses of water, light a stick of rosemary incense for ~mood~, and then pull up a yoga video. Afterward, I do five minutes of unguided meditation. I've been working on increasing my meditation stamina, and I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I get ready quickly and make it to the bus just in time.
12 p.m. — I have a quick phone call with my psychiatrist, and she decides to take me off the Abilify and try something else. I'm so relieved. After our talk, I walk to the grocery store nearby to get mustard, since I used the last of it for egg salad. I had planned on buying almond milk, too, but hazelnut milk is only 70 cents more, so I give it a try. I also get an Amy's frozen tortellini bowl to try to scare off my nausea with tantalizing pesto, but it doesn't work. $11.47
6 p.m. — I go straight from work to my friend's house for Shabbat dinner, and my roommates meet me there. I'm not Jewish, but many of my friends are. My friend makes us curried tofu, lentils, roasted mushrooms, and salad. My nausea is still there a little bit, but the food is so good and nourishing I eat a little anyway. It feels great to be surrounded by my friends just eating, talking, and singing songs.
Daily Total: $11.47
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