A Week In Montana On $21 An Hour

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking women how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
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Today: a Director Of Events who makes $21 an hour and spends some of her money this week on Kristen Ess Dry Shampoo Powder.
Occupation: Director of Events
Industry: Event Management
Age: 25
Location: Montana
Salary: $21/hour (plus tips and bonus, usually about $5,000 a year in total)
Net Worth: Almost to zero (my debt and assets are both about $24,000)
Debt: About $24,000 between my student loans ($15,793) and my car loan ($8,334). I pay off my credit cards each month.
Paycheck Amount (2x/month): ~ $1,200
Pronouns: She/her

Monthly Expenses
Rent: $600 (My boyfriend and I split our rent 45%/55% because he makes more than I do and has less debt)
Student Loans: $239
Car Payment: $226
Gym Membership: $27.48 (for my half, I split with my boyfriend - this is paused right now)
Emergency Fund: $50
Internet: $24.99 (my half)
Spotify: $7.49 (my half)
Netflix: $8 (my half)
Gas/Electric: $50-75 (my half)
Water: $13 (my half)
Health, Dental, Vision: $0 (covered by my employer)
Phone: $65
IRA: 5% of my pay, my company matches 3%
Apple Storage: $2.99
ClassPass: $9.99 (paused right now)
Renters & Car Insurance: $1,100 (annually)
Trash Pick Up: $36.50 (my half, paid every three months)
Additional Savings: I try to put about $100-$150 additional toward my smallest student loan, and $100-$150 additional away in savings, either my emergency fund or my house down payment fund, but this depends on the month.

Day One

8:30 a.m. — My alarm went off at 7:30, but I snooze and cuddle with H. until 8:30. Not having to go into work really kills my motivation to get out of bed, but I finally pull myself away and get up to make coffee. It's so nice out today! Sunny and supposed to get into the 60s, which for Montana in April may as well be 80. I get dressed in workout shorts (for the first time this year!) and a sweatshirt.
9:30 a.m. — Log on to work from our dining table. I basically run my department (we're a small team) so I don't really have anyone checking in on me about when I work. I am hourly still, so I try to get on early to get a full day in, even when working from home. I talk with a client for a little while and lay out all their options for canceling or postponing their wedding. Ultimately, they decide to cancel and I tell them I will refund their deposit. Sigh. I'm trying to encourage most clients to postpone so that they still work with us when this is all over, but I understand that some people are so nervous and unsure that they just want their deposits back (and some are unexpectedly out of work). I'm glad that we can give deposits back in this time (they are usually non-refundable).
11 a.m. — I decide to make myself some breakfast, so I cook some oatmeal with apples and top it with butter, half and half, maple syrup, and hemp hearts. I make some for H. too. While I'm eating I update my net worth spreadsheet. It's something I look forward to doing every month, and I am getting so close to having a $0 net worth! The volatility in the stock market is kind of fucking it up right now, but I try not to take that to heart. When checking my bank account, I see that a $50 payment I made to a student loan went through today. I use Qapital to save for things like that, yearly insurance payments, travel, etc, so I pull $50 from that to cover the loan payment (in monthly expenses).
12 p.m. — H. and I have a video call with our couples therapist, so we set up in the living room and take that. It's good to talk and air through some of the things we've been feeling during isolation. We end up talking for a while after she gets off. The $50 copay is charged to my credit card and H. Venmos me for half. $25
1:30 p.m. — I heat up leftover pizza from last night and make a salad on the side and H. makes himself a scramble. I get back to work while I eat.
5 p.m. — Stop working for the day and get ready to head out for a walk with H. It's so nice out!
6:30 p.m. — Get back to the apartment and H. goes to the office to do some more work while I get started on dinner. I'm making lemon butter chicken with orzo from Half Baked Harvest. It's one of our favorites and we make it pretty often. While it's cooking, I also make a pumpkin bread loaf with cream cheese filling. The recipe is for two loaves, but we only have one loaf pan so I put half into muffin tins and freeze them once they are done.
7:30 p.m. — We eat while watching Netflix (we're watching Narcos), then make tea, eat dessert (pumpkin loaf), and head to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $25

Day Two

8 a.m. — Get out of bed and scroll through my phone for a bit on the couch. Make coffee, get dressed, and put away the dishes. H. gets up and makes the bed. I pull some steak out of the freezer to defrost for dinner. Log onto work around 9:30 a.m.
12 p.m. — Log out to go for a walk — it's so beautiful out again! I walk to a nearby park and run up and down a sledding hill for some exercise.
1:30 p.m. — Back at the apartment, I answer some emails and drink a smoothie for lunch. I have a therapy call with my personal therapist at 2. I received a scholarship for 12 free therapy sessions, and I'm still riding that, so there is no charge to me.
4 p.m. — Snack on some goldfish and blueberries while I work — unlimited snacks are definitely a perk of working from home. H. and I discuss our game plan for dinner tonight and find a recipe to follow. We're making Thai Steak Salad! H. heads out for a walk and I move my laptop to the porch and work in the sun. I briefly consider setting up my hammock on the porch… I close out of work around 6 and get started on dinner. I decide to make rice with it and get that going in the Instant Pot.
7:30 p.m. — Dinner is so good! We eat while watching Narcos. After we eat, H. washes dishes and I put away leftovers. H. doesn't really like the pumpkin loaf I made, so he makes himself avocado chocolate pudding and I eat pumpkin loaf for dessert. Anyone else all of a sudden eating dessert every night during isolation? Not normal for us, but I'm leaning into it. We watch another episode (or two?) and then I go to shower and wash my hair. Do my nighttime skincare routine (Kiehl's toner, Kiehl's avocado eye cream, and CocoKind resurfacing mask), and do a quick blowdry of my hair before getting in bed.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

8:45 a.m. — I finally pull myself out of bed to find H. scrolling on the couch. I make coffee, get dressed in an outfit that makes me feel good: black linen shorts, a white tank top with buttons up the front, and a duster length sweater. Being able to wear whatever I want and change whenever I want is definitely another perk of working from home. Do a simple skincare routine: rosewater toner, CocoKind matcha stick under my eyes, and a Kiehl's lotion with SPF that I steal from H. because I'm out. It's actually really nice and lightweight… hmmm. Log onto work around 9:30.
12 p.m. — I find my hammock in the garage and H. and I pull a few things out of the garage fridge. We are lucky to have two fridges and we stocked up pretty well so we haven't been to the grocery store in two weeks now. We each make our favorite smoothies (mine is spinach, frozen banana, protein powder, chia seeds, and almond milk) and go back to work.
2 p.m. — I set up my hammock on our tiny deck and work out there for a while, and then H. and I go for a walk. When we get back, H. makes us a banana, peanut butter, and coffee smoothie, and I work until about 6. I log off and we have a FaceTime happy hour with a friend. I make myself a cocktail and we chat while we cook dinner (roasted Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and steak). I make myself another cocktail because it's Fri-yay. We eat while watching Netflix and H. makes us chocolate avocado pudding again. Bed by midnight or so.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

9 a.m. — I wake up and its snowing sideways, so I put on leggings and a sweatshirt and plop myself on the couch for the day. I make some coffee and a bagel with a scrambled egg for breakfast and get caught up on The Bold Type and then start season four of This is Us while H. works.
1 p.m. — H. resurfaces and we throw together leftover veggies and steak for dinner and watch The Lincoln Lawyer. I get my sourdough starter going for waffles tomorrow. We decide to brave the outdoors for a walk. It's so cold and windy, but it's fine if we stay between houses. When we get back to the apartment, I FaceTime my sister and her kids for a bit. It's mostly her and I trying to talk while my nephew stares at the phone and plays with the filters, but it's nice to chat.
6:30 p.m. — Heat up the shakshuka that we made and froze last week and eat it for dinner with homemade flatbread (also from the freezer) and fried eggs. So good. For some reason, I'm still in a bad mood, probably from being on the couch all day and not doing annnything, so I take a bath and then we head to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Five

8 a.m. — I wake up in a much better mood than yesterday and get right to it! I organize my pajamas, make the bed, put away dishes, and get the batter ready to make sourdough waffles! We make them plain, with chocolate chips, with blueberries and thyme, cinnamon sugar, and with cheddar cheese and black pepper. It's awesome. We eat while watching a movie called Operation Odessa. We're very into the narco-trafficker theme right now.
1 p.m. — H. goes to the home office to work some more and I mend a skirt while watching This Is Us. After a few episodes, I bundle up to take a walk while it's still sunny out. It's freezing but the sun is nice. When I get back, I take a shower to wash my hair and change into some real clothes for a FaceTime session with my parents and grandma. My grandma is so cute and we all talk for about 45 minutes. After, H. goes for a walk and I watch more This Is Us.
6 p.m. — H. makes elk meatloaf with some ground elk meat that was in the freezer, and I make mashed potatoes and a little coleslaw to use up some cabbage we have in the fridge. I make myself a whiskey and grapefruit cocktail with the last of our grapefruit juice. We definitely need to make a grocery order this week. Dinner is so good! We eat while watching The Bourne Identity. H. makes us tea and I do a face mask. Bed by 11 or so.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and snuggle in bed for a while and fall back asleep (whoops). Get up around 9 and make coffee, unload the dishes, and start some laundry. Put on some jeans and a short-sleeve button-up shirt. Getting dressed makes me feel so much more productive and I also do not have enough "loungewear" for the work from home life. I set up my computer at the dining table and get to work. I make myself a smoothie. We are out of greens, so I make one with just frozen fruit (mango, peach, pineapple mix, and frozen blueberries, with chia seeds, protein powder, and collagen powder). It's very sweet.
2 p.m. — H. emerges from the office and we make waffles for lunch with the leftover batter from yesterday. Today: cheddar and jalapeno, parmesan and black pepper, and chocolate chips. We watch John Oliver while we eat. I check my bank account and pay off my credit card since I know I will be paid this week. I noticed that our internet bill was charged to my card (listed above) and I Venmo charge H. for his half — he completes it right away.
3 p.m. — H. and I decide to buy some hand sanitizer from a local distillery that has started making it. I call and pay over the phone. It's available for pick up whenever we can go! $25
5 p.m. — I take a break from working to go pick up some prescriptions (from the drive-through window). They are covered by insurance. It's super nice out so I take a drive around town and stop at a park that is pretty empty for a short walk. Work for a bit when I get back home, then log out and heat up leftovers from yesterday for dinner. We eat while watching the second Bourne movie. After dinner, H. goes back to work a bit more and I color in a coloring book that I've had for a while, and then do a face mask/scrub and take a bath. Head to bed by 11.
Daily Total: $25

Day Seven

8:30 a.m. — Get out of bed, make coffee, put away dishes, etc. Get dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, pull some shrimp out of the freezer to defrost, and clock in around 9:30.
11 a.m. — Haven't eaten breakfast yet (H. made a smoothie with frozen broccoli because we are out of greens — I took a hard pass on that), so I make myself grilled cheese with tomatoes and eat while I work. Yum. A while later H. takes a break from work and makes himself some leftovers. I'm hitting a slump and make myself scrambled eggs with toast and salad and eat with him.
4 p.m. — I go for a quick walk but it's snowing and windy so I bail after about a block. Get the shrimp marinating for BA's Best Shrimp Scampi while I work a little more. I have a FaceTime call with my entire family so I clock out for the day and pour myself a glass of wine. We talk for about 30 minutes and it's nice to catch up with everyone. Afterward, I order some things that were in my Target cart — Kristin Ess dry shampoo powder, deep conditioning mask, CocoKind chia seed oil, vitamin C serum, and MaiLight stick. $72.97
6:30 p.m. — Get dinner cooking — shrimp scampi with pasta and bread. H. teaches me how to make a beurre blanc. It's so good! We watch That 70's Show while we eat, and then we deep clean our fridge (wild Tuesday night!). I watch more of That 70's Show and then order some picture frames I've been looking at. I'll do curbside pick up in the next few days. Shower, nighttime skincare routine, and go to bed around 10. $63.98
Daily Total: $136.95
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