Money Diaries, Couples Edition: A Week In Colorado

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Leading up to Valentine's Day, we're kicking off this week talking about relationships and money. Today, we're excited to share the Money Diary of a couple living in Denver, CO. E. is a digital marketing strategist making $54,080, and her boyfriend, G., is an SEO specialist making $59,160. They spend some of their money this week on wine.


Occupation: Digital Marketing Strategist
Industry: Advertising
Age: 27
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $54,080
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,700
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $814 (I live with my two cousins and my cousin's dog in a three-bedroom house. We calculated our rent based on the square footage of our rooms — mine’s the smallest, so I pay slightly less than they do. Our total rent is $2,500/month.)
Utilities: ~$60 in colder months
Wifi: $30
Car Payment: $300 (My parents loaned me money (interest free!) to buy my used car, and I pay them back monthly. I should have the car paid off by early 2020.)
Student Loans: $0 (I got a scholarship to cover part of my tuition, and my extremely awesome parents paid for the rest.)
Health Insurance: $105
Car Insurance: $92
Renters Insurance: $19
Savings: An average of $500 per month. I use Acorns to save for trips or treat yo'self days, and I'm currently saving for a trip to Ireland and Scotland later this year.
Phone Bill: ~ $50 (I use Google Fi, so the total varies based on how much data I use each month.)
Gym Membership: $55
Subscriptions: $15 for a New York Times digital subscription. I use my dad’s Netflix account and my roommate’s HBO and Hulu accounts.
Spotify: $3 (I share a family plan with some friends.)


Occupation: Search Engine Optimization Specialist (I also intern one day a week at a recording studio and am trying to start my own studio as a side business.)
Industry: Advertising
Age: 34
Location: Denver, CO
Salary: $59,160
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): $1,908.30
Monthly Expenses:
Rent: $1,250 (I live in a one-bedroom apartment by myself.)
Student Loans: $0 (I very recently paid off $23,000 in student loans, and it wiped out my liquid savings.)
Health Insurance: $102
Savings: I have $4,000 saved, but was not contributing while I paid off my student loans and credit card debt.
Utilities: $45
Wifi: $61
Car Insurance: $65
Renters Insurance: $10
Phone Bill: $65
Gym Membership: $75
Netflix: $11.39
Spotify: $10.75
In a sentence or two, please explain your couples spending philosophy.
We started dating seven months ago, so our finances are still separate. We’re both trying to boost our savings and start putting money away for retirement this year, so we’re focused on finding cheaper or free activities to do around the city. Obviously, some weeks we’re better about this than others!

Day One (E.)

8:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off 15 minutes before I have to start work. My company is moving offices, so we’ve been working from home full-time since last fall. It’s awesome to be able to roll out of bed and start working instead of doing a full morning routine and sitting in traffic. Can’t our office be under construction forever?
9 a.m. — I get distracted with the NYT’s Daily Briefing, so I don’t shuffle downstairs until 9. I prep my usual breakfast of a handful of blueberries and raspberries with a few mixed nuts thrown in and boil some water for green tea. I stopped drinking coffee a few years ago, because it made me super twitchy and anxious and my coworkers found my weird caffeinated ramblings distracting.
9:15 a.m. — I finally open my laptop and start working. Today is planning day for the next month, so I spend the morning sending emails, assigning tasks out to contractors, and setting up our clients’ budgets for next month. I put on my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify and power through it.
12 p.m. — My roommate proposes Snarf's for lunch, and my lofty goals of making a kale salad immediately vanish. I will never say no to a sandwich. I order an artichoke-and-feta sandwich fully loaded with toppings. My roommate runs to the shop to pick them up and sends me a Venmo request for the cost. $11.20
12:20 p.m. — We put on an episode of Veep for our lunch-break entertainment and dig in. Roger Furlong is my hero in this show, always and forever. I live with my two cousins — one of whom also works from home full-time. The other gets Wednesdays as his remote day, so we’re all home today trying to not distract each other too much from work.
12:40 p.m. — Back to work. My afternoon’s filled with meetings and reviewing stuff that our contractors send over.
4:30 p.m. — I finish up my last meeting of the day and head over to the climbing gym with my cousin, where we have a monthly membership. Our gym offers fitness and yoga classes, as well as top roping and bouldering, so you never get bored doing the same workout over and over. My partner, G., meets us there. I got him into climbing when we started dating seven-ish months ago. He used to be terrified of heights, but now he’s scaling up some tough routes (5.11a’s, for you climbers out there). Crushing it, G.! We climb for an hour, and then I head to an hour-long yin yoga class for recovery. G. says he dislikes breathing heavily in a room full of people, so he does some bouldering until class is over.
7:15 p.m. — After yoga, I drop my cousin off at home and head over to G.’s apartment for the night. His place is only five minutes from mine, and since he lives alone, we end up spending most nights at his place. We bundle up and walk over to the liquor store to stock up on wine. We buy four bottles — Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chianti, and Pinot Noir, all chosen for the sole reason that they cost less than $12. (Classy, right?) We’re heading on a weekend trip to rural Colorado this weekend, so we’ll bring a few of these bottles with us. G. pays, and I QuickPay him for half ($25). With a few exceptions, like celebratory meals, we tend to split everything equally. $25
8 p.m. — We walk back to G.’s place and make dinner. We both love cooking, but G.’s kitchen is tiny, so we always end up doing a carefully choreographed dance as we prep the food. We make pesto pasta with veggies and Parmesan with a kale-and-feta salad on the side. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 15 years, and G. has been awesome about learning vegetarian dishes and adapting his diet when I’m over. G. puts on a Billie Holliday record, and we split the bottle of Chianti as we eat.
9:30 p.m. — We clean up the kitchen and relax and chat on the couch. G. has finally finished soundproofing his home recording studio, so he proposes testing out his new setup. I sadly lack any form of musical talent, so G. shows me the basics of Pro Tools so I can record and mix vocals to a guitar track he recorded yesterday. G.'s a mega-talented multi-instrumentalist, and I love pretending to be an audio engineer and watching him play, so we spend a few hours messing around with the track. We head to bed afterward, talk for a bit, and finally fall asleep around 12:30.
Daily Total: $36.20

Day One (G.)

8:15 a.m. — I wake up, then sit in bed for 30 minutes before getting in the shower because I can’t stand the thought of going to work.
9:20 a.m. — I walk into my marketing agency’s office late. No one notices. Then I sit at my desk and make some instant oatmeal with flaxseed because it’s supposed to be good for your cholesterol. I stare blankly at my computer screen for about 20 more minutes before starting any work.
2:30 p.m. — I’ve completed all of my work for the rest of the week. I book a meeting room and call Google Support to try and figure out a solution to get a free VoIP number for the recording studio I’m trying to start on the side. I’m on hold for 35 minutes. I play with my leftover tofu korma and stare off into space thinking about the trip E. and I have planned for this weekend. The tofu korma is still kind of cold in the middle, but I eat it anyway.
4:20 p.m. — I leave work early to meet E. at the climbing gym and beat the rush. We talk about our days while we put on our harnesses. Hardly anyone is there, which is rare. We start climbing.
6:30 p.m. — The gym is now packed. My social anxiety peaks. We leave.
7 p.m. — E. and I drive to my place for dinner. Despite the cold, we walk the four blocks to the liquor store to buy a bottle of wine. We decide to stock up for the weekend that we have planned in the mountains and end up buying four bottles. E. pays me $25 to split the cost of the wine. We walk home and cook pesto rigatoni and kale salad. I am feeling anxious and end up drinking half a bottle of Chianti by the time dinner is over. $25
9:30 p.m. — I make cocktails for E. and me. Then we go into my home studio and I show her how to work Pro Tools and the mixer. She’s a super fast learner. We record some scratch tracks to a song I’m working on. It’s really fun watching her learn how to use everything and impressive how fast she picks it up.
11:15 p.m. — E. mentions that it’s supposed to snow tomorrow. We fall asleep.
Daily Total: $25

Day Two (E.)

8:15 a.m. — G.’s alarm goes off, and we look outside to see a mini blizzard. G. has to drive out to the suburbs for his audio engineer internship today, so he jumps out of bed to get ready. For a place where it snows pretty frequently, people in Denver can’t handle driving in it, so his commute will take at least an hour. I lounge in bed for a bit longer to read the news, then get up, get dressed, and we head out into the wind and snow.
8:45 a.m. — Home and freezing. I jump in the shower quickly to warm up and do an abbreviated version of my morning skin-care routine — P50 1970 (I bought into the hype a year ago and haven’t looked back — my skin loves me now!), Youth To The People facial glow oil (a lifesaver in dry AF Colorado), and Aveeno moisturizer with SPF. I prep my usual berries, nuts, and green tea for breakfast and am settled in and working a little after 9.
12:05 p.m. — Ugh, productivity was not on my side this morning. I got distracted researching an article for a client and went down a Wikipedia rabbit hole. I take a break for lunch and scrounge for food in the kitchen. I’m usually the one who goes grocery shopping for our house, but I didn’t make it this weekend for no good reason, so we’re living on bare-bones options right now. I find a jar of tikka masala simmer sauce in the back of the cabinet, so I mix it with chickpeas, onions, the last bell pepper, a rogue leaf of kale, garlic, and a few slightly wrinkly cherry tomatoes. I top it with some feta and eat it with a piece of toast. Definitely a weird combo, but it does the trick!
12:35 p.m. — Back at work. G. texts me saying that he was offered a job at the studio where he’s been interning. He’s been working there for a little over a year and has been looking for an opportunity to get out of his current day job, so I’m beyond excited for him. We text a bit about details, and his fears around taking a big leap into a completely new field. He’ll find out more details next week.
5 p.m. — I send my last email of the day — peace out, work! I’m supposed to meet my friend at the gym to do a HIIT class, but she texts saying that she had her basketball practice rescheduled. Instead of going to the class by myself, I take a nap — essentially the same thing as working out, right?
5:50 p.m. — My roommate is a champion and grabs the ingredients we need to make vegetarian chili from the grocery store on the way home. He arrives with black beans, pinto beans, carrots, bell pepper, celery, and sour cream, as well as chips, eggs, and ice cream. He Venmo requests me for my third of the groceries ($10.80). I cook the chili, doubling the spices to make up for some of the flavor that you lose cutting out the meat. $10.80
7:35 p.m. — I head out to meet up with my friend at a café a few blocks away from my house. Things have been weird between us for a while, so I texted him earlier this week hoping to talk about everything. I get to the café first, order a sparkling water, and wait for him to show up. $2
9:30 p.m. — I think our talk went well. We talked about a lot of things that were causing issues in our friendship, and we set a plan for how we can rebuild our relationship moving forward. It was an intense conversation, but I feel better afterward. I head home, change into pajamas, and read until I fall asleep around midnight.
Daily Total: $12.80

Day Two (G.)

8:13 a.m. — I wake up and look outside. It’s snowing pretty badly. Today is the one day a week that I intern at a local recording studio. It's considerably farther away than my day job. Traffic is terrible.
9:20 a.m. — I check my personal email and filter out my important messages to be read later. There's one from my mom, one from my dad, and one from the studio owner. I only open the one from the studio owner, because it may be time sensitive. He’s asking me to do more work to help out with the renovations they're doing. I’m kind of frustrated by this, because I originally took the internship to get better at recording and get some major artists in my portfolio so I can eventually start my own thing. But lately, all I’ve been doing is marketing and handyman work for the renovations. I get upset and close the email before I finish reading it. I shove some blackberries, an apple, and some chocolate banana bread E. made into my mouth and then go outside to shovel snow.
12:45 p.m. — Done shoveling. I finish reading the emails from before. My dad’s email is a scanned PDF of a collections notice from a medical bill that I’m fighting with my old insurance company to pay for. (I don’t know why they keep sending it to my parents' address.) The other email is a note from my mother letting me know that she sent me $150 from my ex-wife’s and my dining room set that I had sold off Craigslist. I was storing it in my parents' basement because it wouldn’t fit in my apartment. I finished reading the rest of the email from the studio owner. He wants me to be an assistant engineer in more sessions and even get some of my own clients. HOLY. SHIT. This is essentially the beginnings of a job offer and something I’ve been working toward for the past nine months. I respond and suggest we set up a time next week to talk through everything. I eat the rest of my leftover pesto pasta for lunch.
5:15 p.m. — I drive to the gym and meet up with the office manager from the studio. Normally, E. and I climb together, but she’s meeting her friend to talk through what’s been weird between them recently. I climb really well and get halfway up a 5.11c. It’s the hardest route I’ve attempted since I started climbing five months ago.
7:30 p.m. — I get home, put on a record, and make dinner. I bake some fish and put it over noodles and sautéed veggies. I get sucked into watching four episodes of Queer Eye — I think a French tuck might solve all your problems!
10:30 p.m. — I text E. to see how her talk went, work on some songs I want to record, and start packing for our trip.
11:45 p.m. — I try and go to bed. I start thinking about whether I should give my ex-wife half of the money from the dining room set and how I’d like to call her to see how she’s doing, since her birthday is coming up. I don’t fall asleep until 3:15.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three (E.)

8:15 a.m. — My alarm goes off a bit earlier this morning. I’m meeting up with my team today to talk about account transitions, so I actually need to shower and look like a normal person today. I hop in the shower, do my morning routine, toss on some makeup, and spend 15 minutes blowdrying and straightening my hair. Due to a recent tragic salon accident, my hair is way shorter than I’ve ever had it, and it doesn’t really look good unless I straighten it. It’s a pain, and I’m counting down the days until it’s a normal length again.
9:15 a.m. — I walk over to the café where I’m meeting my coworkers. Our house is in a quiet neighborhood, but it’s only two blocks away from one of the main bar and restaurant streets in Denver. I love being close enough to walk, especially since Denver’s public transportation system isn't great, to put it nicely.
9:30 a.m. — I get to the café and order a green tea and a grilled cheese, pesto, and mushroom sandwich for breakfast ($16.50). It’s way overpriced, and after a few bites, I regret not eating at home — it’s super greasy and heavy, and I eat a little more than half of it before I give up. Then my team shows up and we dive into a few hours of super-fun client talk. $16.50
12:15 p.m. — We wrap up the meeting, and I head home. G. and I are leaving for our weekend getaway early to beat traffic, so I need to finish up work for the week in the next few hours. I’m not hungry after the sandwich monstrosity from this morning, so I skip lunch.
2:30 p.m. — G. gets to my place right after I finish my last meeting, and we head out. We stop to get gas, and I grab a bag of trail mix and a cheese stick to tide me over until we get to our final destination, Crestone ($3.12). The town is right by Great Sand Dunes National Park, which we’re planning on visiting tomorrow. We got the news that the government temporarily reopened this morning, so it’ll be interesting to see what the state of the park is when we get there. $3.12
4:30 p.m. — We’re about halfway through the drive and hit some super scary road conditions. The road goes through a valley, and high winds are blowing snow across the road, forming black ice and completely obscuring the actual road. We pass a few cars flipped over off the road. We debate pulling over, but decide it would be worse to wait and try to drive it when it’s dark. G.’s a total champion and gets us through without issue. We find out when we stop in the next town that they closed the road immediately after we passed the scary stretch.
6:40 p.m. — We finally make it to our Airbnb in Crestone. The town itself is tiny, so there are only two open restaurants. We go to the brewery, where G. gets a yak burger and fries and I get the sweet-potato veggie burger with fries. We each get two beers (pale ale for G., IPA for me). Then we split the bill and head home. G.’s feeling sick from the altitude and exhausted from the drive, so we head to bed around 10:30. $33.73
Daily Total: $53.35

Day Three (G.)

8:20 a.m. — I wake up. Since I’m working from home this morning, I take a long, hot shower, during which I debate if I want to take on a freelance SEO client.
9:44 a.m. — After much deliberation, I email the potential freelance client and tell them that I don’t have the bandwidth to take them on. I don’t feel bad about not taking on the work, as I’d much rather put that time toward music and getting my home studio up and running, but I could have used the money. I’m still trying to pay off my credit cards and become totally debt-free, and I only have $1,000 left to go. I spend the next hour or so on hold with my old insurance company about their refusal to pay for those medical bills from last year. I eat some oatmeal and blueberries and then spend the next two hours on the phone with my old doctor and other parties involved with the outstanding medical bills. Everyone denies responsibility, so I’m incredibly annoyed.
11:30 a.m. — I pack for the trip and decide to go climbing to blow off some steam. I’m so sore from yesterday that I leave after an hour.
2:30 p.m. — I eat a couple Clif bars, get gas, and pick up E. We start driving into the mountains. $23
4:30 p.m. — We drive into a blizzard! The two-lane highway we’re on literally disappears into a whiteout. I can’t see past the hood, and the wind is so strong I fight to keep the car on the road. We’re at 10,000 feet, and it’s so cold that the snow (now blowing completely horizontal) is flash-freezing on the pavement in front of us, literally turning the pavement into a 20-mile-long skating rink. Brakes and steering are useless. There are a bunch of cars off the road. One truck hit an SUV head on and rolled off the road. Even the EMTs were stuck in the ditch. It takes us over an hour to go the 15 or 20 miles and get out of the valley. Having grown up near the mountains, E. handles it very well and is calm and collected the entire time. My hands don’t stop shaking for the next hour.
6:40 p.m. — We arrive at our Airbnb in a remote and sparsely populated mountain town. We didn’t know until after we booked it, but the town is supposedly a spiritual mecca. The Airbnb is basically a two-story wooden yurt with mixed religious iconography thrown about inside. The entire town is only about three blocks long, so we bundle up, brave the 9-degree alpine air, and walk to the only restaurant in town. I have a yak burger and fries with two craft beers that taste like High Life. We split the check. $33.74
9 p.m. — We head back and play a board game. E. destroys me at Bananagrams. I get altitude sickness, so we’re in bed by 10:30.
Daily Total: $56.74

Day Four (E.)

9:45 a.m. — We wake up without an alarm (is there anything better?) and lounge in bed for a while before getting up. Then we hop in the shower and head out for breakfast at the one café in town. I get a breakfast burrito with eggs, salsa, potatoes, and cheese, G. gets one with roasted veggies and ham, and we split a fruit salad. I also order a green tea, and G. gets an orange juice that we find out after the fact is EIGHT DOLLARS. Turns out fresh-squeezed liquid gold is pretty tasty, at least. I pay the bill ($40.50), and G. says he’ll grab the next meal. We sit down to eat and get some surprise live jazz when two patrons who look like they had a lot of fun in the ’60s get up on stage for an impromptu piano-and-clarinet duet. $40.50
12:30 p.m. — We head out to the Sand Dunes, about an hour's drive from our Airbnb. We stop to get gas on the way, and G. declines my offer to pay. We spend most of the drive ogling the epic mountains around us — Crestone is between the Sangre de Cristo and San Juan Mountain ranges, and it makes you really appreciate how freaking cool nature is.
1:30 p.m. — When we get to the Sand Dunes, there’s no one collecting fees at the entrance, and they still have a sign on the kiosk explaining that it’s closed due to the government shutdown. Maybe they couldn’t get rangers in fast enough after the government reopened yesterday? The park seems pretty deserted — there are only ten or so other cars in the lot. We park and start hiking up the dunes. We’re at almost 9,000 feet in elevation here, and poor G. is feeling it during our hike. We make it up one of the mid-size dunes and decide to head back down before G. dies from oxygen deprivation. I’m happy to see that the national park wasn’t trashed during the shutdown — we only come across one bag of dog poop that someone left behind, which we throw away when we get back to the lot.
3 p.m. — We stop at the visitor center on the way out, which is surprisingly open and staffed by a park ranger. We play around with the exhibits a bit, then head out. Our plan is to go to hot springs, but we’re both starving and decide to get food somewhere first. As it turns out, that’s easier said than done. Towns here are tiny and many don’t have restaurants, so it takes us a good hour of driving until we find a town with an open restaurant. We both order pasta — mine with marinara, olives, and artichoke hearts, and G.’s with marinara, sausage, and olives. I order a beer, and we split the check. $15.­­­32
5:30 p.m. — On our way out of town, we stop at the gas station to get some snacks in case we get hungry later. Options are super limited, so we both get instant mac 'n' cheese. I also get some string cheese, and G. gets a breakfast burrito ($15). G. pays.
6 p.m. — We get to the hot springs, and I pay for our entrance fee and towel rental with my credit card ($32). I try to put every purchase I can on my card to earn travel rewards. I pay the card in full every month and walk away with a fair number of points — my flight to Ireland was paid entirely by my reward points! The hot springs are beautiful, and it feels amazing to relax after the hike today. The worst part is getting out into the frigid night air afterwards. $32
8 p.m. — By the time we leave the hot springs and get back to Crestone, we’re both hungry again. Neither of us is feeling like gourmet gas-station food, so we head back to the brewery in town. G. gets wings and I get a Caesar salad, and we both get a beer ($35). G. pays, since I got breakfast this morning. Then we head back to the Airbnb, have a glass of wine, watch some weird-ass VCRs the host has (ear-candling instructional video from the ’90s? Yes, please!), and fall asleep by 11:30.
Daily Total: $87.82

Day Four (G.)

9:30 a.m. — I wake up trying to be careful not to wake up E., but I’m unsuccessful.
10:30 a.m. — We walk outside the Airbnb, and there is a man in the yurt next to ours sitting cross-legged in a lawn chair with no shirt on. We inadvertently stumbled into the middle of his sun salutation. He is polite and waves hello. We walk the one block to the only café in town to get breakfast. I get a veggie wrap with organic and locally sourced eggs, cheese, potatoes, and greens and a fresh-squeezed orange juice. There are two old hippie-looking men just wandering around in the café. They make their way onto a small stage near the back and start playing Mood Indigo on piano and clarinet. They’re amazingly good. E. picks up the tab ($40.50).
12:30 p.m. — We start driving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. We stop for gas on the way to the dunes. $18.46
1:30 p.m. — We get to the entrance of the park. There are no rangers anywhere to be seen, just a sign on the entrance that reads: “Due to a lapse in federal appropriations, this entrance is closed for the safety of visitors and park resources.” We decide to go in and park, as I have never seen the dunes before.
1:45 p.m. — We park and start hiking up the dunes. E. is practically running up them, and I struggle to keep up. We make it about halfway up before I tap out, so we turn around and head back. E. picks up a bag of dog shit someone left there and throws it out. We leave the park and look for a place to eat.
4:30 p.m. — The valley we’re staying in is very sparsely populated. We can’t find a place to eat, but finally find a town that looks like it hasn’t been touched since the 1930s. I order pasta with Italian sausage and E. strikes up a conversation with the bartender. Everyone is very friendly and open. We split the check and start heading toward the hot springs. $18.52
5:30 p.m. — We stop at a gas station and get snacks in case we don’t make it back into town before the only restaurant closes. We get to the hot springs, and E. pays for our entrance and towels ($32). I pay for the snacks ($15). It’s so cold that my hair freezes, but the springs feel amazing. The stars are sublime. You can almost make out spiral arms of the Milky Way. $15
8 p.m. — We make it back to the Airbnb and decide to go out to grab dinner. I get buffalo wings and a beer. There is an extremely drunk guy at the bar trying to start a fight with literally everyone there. I pay for E.’s and my dinner. We eat and leave. $35.28
9:30 p.m. — We go back to the Airbnb, light a fire, and drink some wine. E. kicks my ass at Bananagrams again. The owner has an amazingly ’90s collection of VHS tapes with some home movies peppered in as well. We try and watch one of their old home movies about a vacation to Latvia in 2003, but the tape is damaged. Instead, we watch a promotional video about ear candling from around 2002 or 2004. It looks like something out of Tim & Eric. I instantly love it. We fall asleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $87.26

Day Five (E.)

9:30 a.m. — I wake up alarm-less again (weekends are the best!). G.’s still passed out, so I catch up on the news until he shows signs of life. We’re both feeling lazy this morning, so we lie around for an hour before getting up and packing up. We head over to the same breakfast place as yesterday. G. gets eggs, toast, potatoes, and another cup of the world’s most expensive orange juice, and I get a Paleo bowl that has eggs, roasted vegetables, greens, goat cheese, and pesto. My roommate was getting sick when I left and I can feel a cold coming on, so I drink some Emergen-C and take echinacea with breakfast. We pay separately. $11.25
12 p.m. — On the road again! We stop for gas on our way out of town, and I offer to pay. I only manage to stay awake long enough to get G. on the right road, and then I fall asleep for a few hours. (Sorry, G.!) The cold is getting worse, and I’m hoping that a nap will help. $23.41
3:30 p.m. — We took a different route home to avoid the Road From Heck, so we’re driving through Colorado Springs. G. proposes stopping there for an early dinner — they have a turn-of-the-century English pub there that was brought over piece by piece from the U.K. It’s expensive, but the atmosphere is super rad and the food is tasty. We share fried pickles, I get a wedge salad, and G. gets a fish sandwich and fries. Fried pickles might be the best invention on Earth. We drink a few beers and split the bill. $41.26
6 p.m. — Home! G. asks if I want to stay at his place, but my cold is getting worse and I don’t want to infect him more than I have. He drops me off at home, and I walk in to find my roommates brewing beer in our kitchen. We should have a vaguely drinkable IPA in a few weeks! After they clean up, we put on American Gangster and lounge around. I take a Tylenol P.M. around 10:30 and crash, hoping that it’ll be the magic cure (wishful thinking, I know!).
Daily Total: $75.92

Day Five (G.)

10 a.m. — After we wake up and get ready, we go to the same restaurant as yesterday for breakfast. I order scrambled eggs, potatoes, kale, and toast. The restaurant has an amazing variety of people in it. I wonder what they’ve been through to be seeking peace this hard. An old hippie man behind me is trying to sell some sort of healing stones. They are laid out on display on an ornate blanket. It looks like he's meditating. I wonder what he’s meditating on — hopefully reaching some heightened state of awareness. I look closer. He's actually just on his phone. He rolls a cigarette. $16
11:30 a.m. — We shower and pack up.
12 p.m. — We stop at a gas station before leaving town. E. pays ($23.41). Then we start the four-hour drive back. E. sleeps most of the ride back while I drive. It’s a gorgeous ride.
3:30 p.m. — We stop for lunch at a very nice restaurant in Colorado Springs. It’s an actual 19th-century English pub that they brought over from Europe in the 1930s. I have a fish sandwich and fries with a beer. It’s our fanciest meal of the trip. $41.25
6 p.m. — We get back to Denver. I drop off E. at her place since she’s feeling a cold coming on.
7:30 p.m. — I unpack and call my parents, like I do every Sunday. They yell at me for the medical bill in collections and tell me to sort it out. I don’t eat dinner because I’m so full from our late lunch. I also have no food in my apartment from eating all my food before we left.
8 p.m. — I’m exhausted from the trip and thinking about my upcoming talk with the studio owner and what I actually want out of working there. Despite barely being able to keep my eyes open, I start reading my self-help book on anxiety. I try to fall asleep at 10:30, but don’t end up actually sleeping until 2.
Daily Total: $57.25

Day Six (E.)

8:35 a.m. — My alarm wakes me up out of a dead sleep. My cold hasn’t gotten worse overnight, which is a win, I guess? I make some green tea and toss berries and nuts into a bowl for breakfast and try to make my voice sound normal before a morning of meetings.
11:15 a.m. — An investigation into the pantry reveals we’re out of Emergen-C, so I jump in the shower and do my abbreviated morning routine before I head to the store. It’s been dumping snow since I woke up, so the five-block walk to the grocery store isn’t super fun. I get Emergen-C, as well as some farro, mandarins, lemons, limes, banana peppers, tortillas, and two bottles of sparkling water. Weird combo, I know, but I’m just supplementing the grocery run that my roommates apparently did over the weekend (without charging me anything — thanks, guys!). $32.10
12:30 p.m. — I cook up some farro for lunch, adding onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, banana peppers, kale, and feta. I sprinkle some lemon juice and olive oil over the top and drink some Emergen-C with lunch.
5 p.m. — Work’s done for the day! I put on an episode of Instant Hotel while I fold my clothes and am immediately hooked. It’s the best kind of trash TV! My roommates judge it at first, but after episode two, they’re fully invested. I make dinner for everyone — rice-noodle stir-fry with tempeh, cabbage, onion, and bell peppers, and we watch more episodes while eating.
6:45 p.m. — I won discounted tickets to a comedy show tonight (pretty sure they’re just trying to sell more seats, but I’ll take it!), so I head out to pick up G. I stop for gas on the way ($20.70) and slide through every stop sign on the icy side roads. Fortunately, the streets are deserted! I cover the tickets ($10) and parking downtown ($5), and G. gets our glass of wine and bourbon on the rocks at the club. The comedian is funny, but we both like the opener way better — so many weed jokes, which go over well in Colorado! I’m still quarantining myself from G. so he doesn’t get sick, so I drop him off at his place after the show, head home, and fall asleep by 10:30 (yay, illness!). $35.70
Daily Total: $67.80

Day Six (G.)

8:35 a.m. — I wake up. It snowed about eight inches overnight. I lie in bed for about 10 minutes before getting in the shower.
9:25 a.m. — I’m late for work again, but no one notices. I eat some oatmeal and flaxseed again that I have at my desk and wash it down with a LaCroix to spice up my morning. It doesn’t help. I respond to some emails and start working.
1:30 p.m. — I go home to eat lunch. I eat some chips and salsa, since that’s all I have left in my apartment.
2:30 p.m. — I leave work early to go to a doctor’s appointment. It’s about 20 minutes without traffic, but with the snow it takes me nearly 45 minutes to get there. There’s a copay. $40
4:30 p.m. — I fight traffic and stop for groceries on the way home. I try to get as much fresh stuff as I can. I feel like since E. and I have started seeing each other, I’ve been eating much healthier and want to keep that going. I also want her to be able to eat when she comes over, because she’s vegetarian. It’s a super-expensive grocery trip, since I had almost no food in the apartment. $120.35
5:30 p.m. — I make paprika- and cumin-flavored chicken and pasta with garlic and oil for dinner. It’s pretty good for totally winging it.
7 p.m. — E. picks me up to go to a comedy show. I’m oddly nervous to go. Big crowds always make me a bit anxious. E. drives us downtown. I always like going down there — the big buildings make me feel like I’m home.
8 p.m. — We get to the comedy club and order drinks. I have a bourbon on the rocks, and E. gets wine. The opening comic is mediocre. Overall, I just didn’t relate to any of the jokes. The second comic is amazingly funny. I’m less than impressed with the headliner.
9:45 p.m. — I pay for the drinks, since E. payed for entry. We leave and E. drives me home. $25
10 p.m. — I get home. I start looking at recording-gear reviews on YouTube and somehow end up watching videos of men building homes in the wilderness with only a machete. I head to bed at 10:45, and finally fall asleep at 1:45.
Daily Total: $185.35

Day Seven (E.)

8:35 a.m. — I get super excited when my alarm goes off this morning because I feel almost like a normal person! Unfortunately, after two minutes of standing up, the cold is back in full force. I rarely get sick, so I don’t adapt well at all when I do. I miss the gym and snoring loudly next to G. (I'm sure he misses it as well…) Breakfast is the normal berries, nuts, and green tea with lemon, and I’m working by 9:05.
11:45 a.m. — I’m starving, so I heat up leftover noodles from last night’s dinner for lunch, and open up one of the bottles of sparkling water I got at the store yesterday. I feel like the cold’s making me hungrier than usual…is that a thing? I turn on an episode of Instant Hotel to watch during lunch.
12:30 p.m. — Back working. I have super mindless work to do this afternoon, so I keep Instant Hotel running in the background. I know, I know, I’m fully addicted now. I text with my friend all afternoon about her birthday plans on Friday. She doesn’t want to do anything crazy, so we debate which restaurants in our neighborhood would be good for a big group. We finally settle on a tiki-themed bar.
5 p.m. – Done with work for the day, thank God. I feel like I’ve been working through major brain fog all day and am glad to let my cold-addled body relax. I do a thorough Instagram deep dive until I get bored, then do my Italian Duolingo lesson for the day (very poorly, I might add!). G. texts me asking how I’m feeling. We were planning on going to see his friend play at a small venue tonight, but I’m just not feeling up to being around loud music or other humans. G.’s chill about me bailing, and says he’s just going to record some music tonight.
6 p.m. – My roommates should be back from the gym soon (jealous), so I look for a recipe for dinner. Our groceries are dwindling again, so I decide on roasted tomato and goat cheese pasta. I toss the tomatoes in the oven with some onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and boil water for pasta. We put on Widows, which is enjoyable but definitely different than I was expecting. I head to bed when it’s done and read until I fall asleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0
Weekly Total: $333.89

Day Seven (G.)

7:45 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm, then water the plants that E. bought me and shower. I eat some granola, cereal, and blueberries for breakfast and start looking at attorneys to help dispute my outstanding medical bills.
9:10 a.m. — I get to work only marginally late. No one notices. I check my calendar and see that my day is packed with meetings.
12:35 p.m. I’m able to squeeze in a quick lunch. It’s leftover paprika- and cumin-flavored chicken from last night, which still tastes pretty good. My coworker says it smells amazing. Gordon Ramsey, move over!
5 p.m. — I leave work to get a haircut. The hairstylist tries to talk to me despite my only responding with single-syllable affirmations. She starts screwing up my hair, and I have to correct her to get things back on track. I overtip in cash. $22
6:30 p.m. — I put on a record and make fried tofu and kale salad for dinner.
7:15 p.m. — I’m still hungry, so I eat some potato chips.
7:30 p.m. — I start playing music but keep getting distracted. I can’t stop thinking about my upcoming talk with the studio owner and what I want to do. I don’t know if I’m more terrified that things will go poorly or that I’ll actually get what I want. If I get offered a job, it would mean quitting my day job and not having a financial safety net, but potentially being very happy with my career for the first time in my adult life.
8:15 p.m. — I decide I should take a hot shower, but instead of doing that, I end up going for a walk. On the walk, I text with my parents and sister to make sure they're safe. There are potentially life-threatening low temperatures coming to the Midwest tomorrow. Despite the terrible weather there, I still get homesick and miss them very much.
10:30 p.m.I start reading my book again and try and get some sleep. I fall asleep around 2 a.m.
Daily Total: $22
Weekly Total: $433.60
If you are experiencing anxiety or 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.
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