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A Week In Caracas, Venezuela On A $45,000 Salary

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Welcome to Money Diaries where we are tackling the ever-present taboo that is money. We’re asking real people how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we’re tracking every last dollar.

This week: a creative project manager who makes $45,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on milkshakes.
Occupation: Creative project manager
Industry: Marketing
Age: 32
Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Salary: $45,000
Net Worth: Approximately $71,000 (I own an apartment worth $32,000, a car worth roughly $14,000, and have $17,000 invested in three businesses (mostly reselling), plus $8,488.64 across my cash and accounts.
Debt: $0
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): This varies as I came back to freelancing, but I got $2,500 in February.
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Monthly Housing Costs: Approximately $25 in HOA fees (I own my apartment outright thanks to riding the pandemic hustling wave of 50+ hour work weeks.)
Monthly Loan Payments: $0
All Other Monthly Expenses:
Internet: $30 (This is an optic fiber service that includes TV channels.)
Phone: Around $20
Therapy: $146 for two sessions per month.
Nails: $120 (I take my mom and we both get gels two times per month.)
Spotify: $11.98
Apple Cloud: $0.99
Gym: $100 (This is a CrossFit box with access to four classes per week.)
Streaming: An old friend gave me access to their streaming services so I could watch UFC; I don’t have any other platforms, but I’m considering getting Apple TV when my free trial ends.
Savings: Right now, about 20% to 30% of what I make. In the past, up to 80% of my monthly income went to savings.
All Other Expenses:
Health Insurance: $144 per trimester (and it’ll likely go up in July when I renew).
Mom’s Health Insurance: Around $500 for a semester.
Lastpass: $39.25 annually (This is password management — I don’t know what I’d do without it.)
Was there an expectation for you to attend higher education? Did you participate in any form of higher education? If yes, how did you pay for it?
It was assumed that I would, as I always wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist. I started law school right out of high school but ended up dropping out, working for a year, and then studying fashion design. My mom paid my tuition (pretty standard here). I have since taken many professional certifications, including a project management one a previous client paid for, which helped me secure some of my current clients.
Growing up, what kind of conversations did you have about money? Did your parent(s)/guardian(s) educate you about finances?
We didn’t really discuss money. My mom was a single mom with two kids, and we lived with my grandma, who took care of us after school. We had a simple childhood, received allowances, and had a handful of nice vacations from ages eight to 12(ish). As an adult, I learned that she had a hard time sometimes bringing food to the table, but we never saw it. I remember things not being branded, but it wasn’t a huge deal. Now I cover for her a lot (getting her nails done, buying her nice presents, splitting her health insurance with my brother, et cetera).
What was your first job and why did you get it?
I worked at a toy store when I was 17. I had dropped out of law school and had a few months until my design program started, so I took a job over the holiday season to stay busy and save money. My mom had been unemployed, so I felt some stress. She eventually got a job, and I started school again.
Did you worry about money growing up?
Not really. We weren’t well off by any means. Single mom with two kids and a retired mother. But we did well. My mom hid the struggle from us, and has sometimes made a comment here and there about how hard it was. All in all, I had what I considered to be a normal childhood.
Do you worry about money now?
No. I know that I’m making enough to cover my expenses, which was my plan. I own my home outright, which I saved aggressively for during the pandemic as work picked up for marketers like I never could have imagined. I always expected to slow down eventually, and in December, I had to quit a job that I literally thought I’d get a heart attack from. Now, I’m growing my savings by trying out a few business ideas with two friends — fingers crossed, I guess. I consider myself semi-retired now, but would pick up more freelance work if needed. It was hard to get enough work going, though, so I landed on part time.
At what age did you become financially responsible for yourself and do you have a financial safety net?
I started working at 18 and have never stopped. But I lived at home rent-free for a while. I moved to another country in 2015 and came back in 2016, launched a business, started freelancing, et cetera. I lived at home through this whole time and contributed to food, internet, and so on. I moved to my apartment in 2022 and have been on my own since. If things took a turn, I’d be able to live with my mom. But again, I own my home outright, so the turn would have to be huge. She would definitely help me get food and such if needed.
Do you or have you ever received passive or inherited income? If yes, please explain.
I received a $7,000 loan from my mom to buy my apartment, and I paid it back within a couple of months. Other than that, no passive income or inheritance. I do have some investments that I’m hoping will soon start paying off. First, I invested $8k into a car we’re going to import into Venezuela; we split the estimated cost three ways (between me and my business partners J. and C.), and expect to sell the car at around $30k. Second, I invested $6k into a moving truck for J.’s company, and was due a $8.5k payout in January, but he’s holding onto the money because we’re looking at other ways of reinvesting. And third, we’re starting a pet toy brand and hope to invest about $300 to $400 to import around 500 units and get started; we’re already speaking with vendors but haven’t paid anything yet.

Day One

6 a.m. — Wake up at my regular time and head downstairs to walk my pup, P. He’s an 11-month-old mutt I adopted last year. He was found at three months old with two sisters on a small Caribbean island up north, and a foundation brought him to me (I found him on IG). I grab some Greek yogurt and head to the gym. I started CrossFit about six months ago after a bad breakup. Today, we work on strength. After deadlifts, bench presses, and farmers’ carries, I’m wiped, and head up to the Jewish bakery I’ve been wanting to try. I grab two empanadas (tuna and scrambled eggs) and some assorted cookies. $9.41
10 a.m. — I’m home, dressed, and showered, sending client invoices before I head out to the park with the pup for our lunch break. I got back to freelancing earlier this year after leaving a nonprofit job that was sucking the life out of me. Since my apartment is paid off, I felt comfortable taking fewer freelancing hours, which also gave me more flexibility for my pup, the gym (I’ve started competing in CF), taking some courses, and testing new waters. This flexibility has been life-giving. I’m considering this year a sabbatical and have loved it thus far.
2 p.m. — I meet my business partners today since one of them, J., just came back from spending three months away. We mix business with a general catchup, and he has a few things I asked him to bring me and my dog (including an iPad I’d wanted forever, but was probably bad timing since I bought it within a week of quitting my job). We have lunch at a Mexican place, and I order a lemonade and shrimp tacos. J. pays (my part would have been around $12).
5 p.m. — Head to a PT appointment with the same trainer who’s been treating me for about two years now. He’s from my old gym, so I also catch up with my old martial arts trainer while there. I had my first CF competition last weekend, and my shoulder isn’t too happy. He massages me, puts me on compression boots, and applies dry puncture to a knot on my trap, which makes my shoulder twitch awfully. Come back home to watch Ted Lasso and hang out with my pup. $30
9 p.m. — My second business partner, C., has become a dear friend. We met a couple of years ago at the martial arts gym, but we only got closer over the last six months. Tonight, we head out for some fried chicken and to catch up. We have been doing this for a few months now, and it is nice. I was diagnosed with depression last year, partly due to a terrible relationship (I was the other woman, not something I’m proud of, but I’ve definitely learned many lessons), a failed business, and crappy people who pretended to be friends, so it’s been great to connect with genuinely cool people I can talk to. Anyway, my part for the fried chicken is $10. I make it home by 11 p.m., go on one last walk for the pup, half-assedly wipe my face off, and pass out. $10
Daily Total: $49.41

Day Two

5:30 a.m. — I head to the living room and cuddle P. until walk time. We go back to bed for an hour. I started taking him to the park every weekend after he got all his shots, so that’s what we’ll do today.
8 a.m. — After a quick walk with P., I give him breakfast, take a shower and get ready. I don’t have a fancy skincare routine — just some salicylic acid cleanser and a Pond’s moisturizer. I use Vaseline lotion on my legs and Vaseline on my hands and feet. I also got a tattoo on Thursday, so I clean it up and cover it in Vaseline. We pick up my mom and go to the park. On the way there, I stop to grab breakfast because I forgot the protein shake I planned on getting. I pick a cream cheese and turkey pastry and a coffee. I hand Mom a yellow apple, and she hands me the red one she brought for me. We laugh about it in the car. $3.50
9 a.m. — We make it to the park and some of P.’s friends are there. I buy treats (dehydrated liver) for him and his buddies, a smoked pork bone, and some other dog treats to bring home. After an hour or so of roughhousing, everyone getting properly covered in drool, and the dogs drinking out of each other’s bowls, we head out. The park has been fundamental in his health and development, and it truly helped me pull out of depression. At some point today, I pay my gym membership and my yearly Lastpass subscription is taken out of my Apple Pay ($100 and $39.25, respectively — both included in monthly expenses). $11.44
11 a.m. — We drop P. home, give him the bone, and head out for lunch. P. bit the legs off two of my dining chairs, so I want to check some options. We go to a big department store and have no luck with the chairs, but I do find white sneakers, sandals, a cute knit sweater, and a red sleeveless top. Plus, I buy two cans of salmon and two cans of Pringles (ranch and barbecue). I spent a lot of time putting off buying new things, so I’ve slowly been buying basics. I talked about this with my therapist recently because I was in survival mode for so long and coming out of depression, I started caring for myself more, getting my nails done, replacing worn-out clothes and shoes, et cetera. I have struggled with some guilt in terms of my financial resources — even more so now that I’m only working part time and have all this free time. $43.56
1 p.m. — Mom and I head to a nearby food truck area, choose a truck called Capital Burgers, with burgers called after capital cities, and each get a burger (mine is New Delhi, a classic cheeseburger with pickles), soda, shakes, and fries. I realize that every single meal in this diary so far has been takeout, and I can say that that’s fairly standard on the weekends. My mom pays (it was $32). Then I drop her off and head home, where I proceed to pass out for an hour and a half with P. on the couch.
5 p.m. — I’m looking forward to a chill night in. I need to catch up on some freelance work, so I plan on tackling that tonight. Right now though, we head to a nearby park for a short-ish walk for P., who’s crying and staring at me with literal puppy eyes. At some point during my nap, C. texted me commenting about a tax/import cost we have to pay for the car we’re importing, so I do some quick math to figure out whether we have enough. Turns out we do, as we each invested $8k into one car (they got a second one without me) and the cost so far has been around $13k. It should be fine.
7 p.m. — I drop P. off at home and decide to get groceries out of the way. I head to the store and buy eggs, yogurt, cereal, laundry detergent, soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and some cheese. I started meal prepping in January, and it’s been going ok. I slacked last week, so I still have veggies and fruits, and plan on making a spinach and ricotta lasagne. I get home, soak some black beans to cook tomorrow, and sit down to work with the UFC playing in the background. I snack on Pringles, eat a slice of lasagne my brother made this week, and get to work making a job description for a client who has a creative agency — she’s had a rough time lately, and hopes investing in help will help her pull through. We started working together in 2021, and even though I barely get any hours from her, I like supporting her. Plus, sometimes she refers me to clients who pay around $2,000 for website content. $41.47
9 p.m. — I take a quick shower, wash my face with the same salicylic acid cleanser, put Vaseline on my hands and feet, and head to my bedroom to put away some laundry before heading to bed.
Daily Total: $99.97

Day Three

6:10 a.m. — Up for a quick walk with the pup. Come back and make some coffee and a bowl of yogurt before getting ready for the park. I’m also boiling the black beans I soaked overnight to prep for meals this week. Then I head to the park with my mom and P., and find a half-eaten bag of treats for P. and his little friends in my bag (score!).
12 p.m. — We stay at the park for a few hours, so by the time we head home, P. is ready for a nap. I drop him off at home, change into jeans and go out to lunch with C. We’re going to a place that sells empanadas and order five empanadas and two juices, which he pays for. After we’re done, we head to an ice-cream parlor and have a milkshake each — I pay for those. $16
4:30 p.m. — I’m ready for a nap. C. drops me home and I take P. on a quick walk before settling down for a couple hours of work. I need to complete a job description for the same client as yesterday and a couple of other things for another client. This was all due Friday, but I don’t really work Fridays. I also want to work on a freelancing portfolio on Contra, but that’ll be over the next few days.
6:30 p.m. — I wrap up the bit of work I did and take P. on another quick walk before getting ready for bed. The past few weeks have been a lot, but I normally try to get to bed at 9 p.m. because I’m a naturally early riser. Tonight, I finish the black beans I’d soaked last night, put everything away, clean up the kitchen, take a quick shower, and go to bed at 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $16

Day Four

5:45 a.m. — Why do I do this? It’s Monday! I get up, take P. on a quick walk, and head to my CrossFit class at 7 a.m. I’m working on balancing my schedule to include coding classes, work, the gym, the pup, and family and friends, but so far, the coding bootcamp has taken a back seat. I’m also learning to play piano (verrrrry slowly) and would like to get back into painting, but that’s not really something I feel capable of balancing right now. So for now, I want to be more consistent with coding.
9 a.m. — Back home from the gym, I shower and put on the dark red/magenta sleeveless crop top I bought on Saturday with black bike shorts for a WFH day. I quickly end up changing into a long-sleeved T-shirt and sweatpants. I settle in with a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese and the black beans from yesterday, plus a black coffee and a packet of Chips Ahoy. I alternate cookie types but always have them with coffee in the morning. My work is very varied, as I have clients who work in fertility, design, and other services. Plus, I provide different services like project management and writing. Today, I settle in to write a webinar summary for a follow-up newsletter, a blog for the fertility clinic, and another newsletter for a web agency promoting recent work — but not before handing P. his pork bone to hang out with for the morning.
11:15 a.m. — I hit a good stopping point, so it’s time to take P. for a walk. My partners texted this morning — a local car manufacturer just announced new loans on luxury vehicles, which directly compete with what we’re importing. We don’t know how that’ll affect our plans, but still discuss diversifying our investment. I’m nervous — especially because one of the cars we’re importing has high mileage, which isn’t too competitive. I expressed this when we selected it, but it was objectively the better option compared to other models we saw.
1:15 p.m. — Get back from the park after a nice walk. P. fell in love with a little schnauzer with beautiful lashes, and I spend some time talking to her owners. Ever since I started therapy for depression, I’m finding that a lot of people start talking to me. I wonder if I look nice or more approachable, as it never happened before. Anyway, I’m back working on a newsletter and a meeting. I also have lunch, which is pasta with the salmon I bought yesterday. I’m definitely going to stock up on those cans.
3:25 p.m. — I get some feedback on the newsletter I submitted earlier today, so I get working on that before heading out with P. I edit the newsletter and let my supervisor know and off we go to the park.
7 p.m. — Stop for gas on the way home from the park, and I pay for 40 liters, but the guy steals about six (gas in Venezuela is heavily subsidized, and stations have become a place for corruption). This is the second time this has happened to me at the station near my place, and I recognize the same guy, but I couldn’t use the other pump, so TS for me. I check the newsletter in case there’s more feedback, but I didn’t hear from my supervisor, so I get back to Ted Lasso and prep for bed. I’m having a lentil soup I prepped last week along with sweet potatoes for dinner. A quick walk with P., shower for me, and we’re in bed by 8:30 p.m. for another early morning. $20
Daily Total: $20

Day Five

5:15 a.m. — Wake up and head to the living room to cuddle with P. until 6 a.m., when I get dressed, take him on a walk, give him breakfast, and head to the gym. I PB a 135 pound deadlift for three reps. Yay! Finish the workout and head home to get ready for work. I put on a gray muscle tank and boyfriend jeans that somehow turned skinny, and quickly have breakfast of black beans, eggs, and cheese with black coffee and cookies.
9:50 a.m. — I work on a blog and complete my profile on a freelancing platform for a couple of hours before heading to the park with P.
2 p.m. — I get home from the park, have lunch (leftover pasta with salmon from yesterday), and head out with C. to some car dealers. We’re (fine, I am) getting worried about the local landscape and increased production given that we literally just bought two high-end cars to import, so we’re going to request some info. On the way home from the park, I’m listening to the podcast We Can Do Hard Things, and the conversation hits a nerve, so I end up crying about some flashbacks from my semi-recent breakup. I also stop to get two bottles of water (10 liters each). $2
4:30 p.m. — Back home and decide to take a break before getting back to work. I throw in some laundry while watching more Ted Lasso. I give P. another walk and dive into some work edits. Then I devote an hour to coding practice to complete a project, and remember how much I enjoy it. I started this “100-day” programming bootcamp about eight months ago but had to stop for a while at the end of the year; it’s been hard to keep momentum after that. I also make the spinach lasagne I had planned, have some of it for dinner, and take a quick shower. In bed by 9 p.m.
Daily Total: $2

Day Six

5:50 a.m. — Move to the couch to cuddle P. until walk time. Then I clean the kitchen of last night’s mess, make breakfast of arepas with scrambled eggs and black coffee (and cookies), and settle in to do some business development research. I have a packed day today. My tattoo has a scab, and I know I shouldn’t pick at it. So OF COURSE I pick at it, and now it’s bleeding. I cover it with antibacterial lotion and get to work.
11 a.m. — After a productive morning, I finally peel myself off the dining chair and take P. on a walk to the park. We could both use it, tbh. I like going to the gym in the morning, but mornings are also my most productive work time, so I always try to make the best of rest days. P. has a bit of a cough, and I’m fairly sure it is due to either his own hair, which is shedding a ton, or a bone he’s been eating (the bone is whole — no splinters or anything, it’s just kind of grainy?). I’ll observe him today, and if things take a turn, we’ll go to the vet tomorrow. (Spoiler: He ends up being fine).
1 p.m. — Back home for a quick shower and lunch (the spinach lasagne from last night — delicious). Then I listen to more of my podcast before a business development meeting at 2 p.m. I also need to work on another client’s blog this afternoon. P. got invited to a birthday party, and I could sob at how adorable that is. Immediately let everyone know about his first birthday party. I also need to buy a present for the dog whose birthday it is. She eats BARF, so I’ll find some organic treats for her.
3 p.m. — Finish my meeting and feel exhausted, so I make some sweet tea and start browsing potential business opportunities. I believe we need to diversify and not rely on luxury cars, so I’m finding other things to propose to my partners. I quickly get discouraged and browse the web to read some essays. P. gets a pig ear. Someone from the gym recommended an online store that sells proteins and other sports supplements, so I order a strawberry shortcake protein powder and an assorted pack of electrolyte drinks. The total is $60, but I’ll pay upon delivery.
5 p.m. — I take P. to the park to play with friends as he’s getting antsy. We spend a couple of hours there, and I also buy the gift for his little friend, M., whose birthday we have on Friday — she’ll get pig ears, dehydrated lung strips, and beef and sweet potato chew sticks ($10.52). On the way back, I get a text from a client to troubleshoot something, so I quickly sign in when I’m back home and get it solved. I also decide to order some sushi for dinner ($16.66). The rest of the night is a blur of Ted Lasso and sushi — in bed by 8:30 p.m. $27.18
Daily Total: $27.18

Day Seven

5:07 a.m. — Wake up at this ungodly hour because I guess that’s what you do at 32. I get dressed when it’s clear I’m not going back to sleep. Head down with the pup for a quick walk, pack up my protein and go to CrossFit. Today, I achieve my first double under, and we do progressions for a pullover — I do a fake pullover with a low bar and tons of assistance, and it feels GREAT. As usual, I stay at the gym for about half an hour chatting with everyone before heading home.
9:30 a.m. — Showered, I have leftover sushi for breakfast with black coffee. Today, I’m working on the blog I didn’t finish yesterday. This client was a referral from the agency client I mentioned earlier, and they’re the best client ever. I also have business development research to continue, and my mom and I are getting our eyebrows and nails done today, so I buckle in for a busy day.
1 p.m. — I have spinach lasagne for lunch (still loving it!) and head out with the pup for a long walk before leaving him for the afternoon. My mom picks me up, and we get our nails and eyebrows done. I pay for both. $78
7 p.m. — The protein guy from yesterday drops off the protein powder, electrolytes and some protein bars. Can’t wait to try this strawberry shortcake protein! Take P. on one last walk before settling in for the night. I practice coding and watch Ted Lasso for a bit. I’m going to the gym in the morning, but Friday classes are a bit later. Take a shower, have dinner, and hit the hay by 9 p.m. Can’t believe this diary is over! $60
Daily Total: $138

The Breakdown

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