A Week In Eastern Kentucky On An $11,000 Salary

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Today: an outreach and engagement coordinator who makes $11,000 per year and spends some of her money this week on mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Occupation: Outreach and Engagement Coordinator
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 21
Location: Eastern Kentucky
Salary: $11,000
Paycheck Amount (every 2 weeks): $445
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $287.50 (my half; I live with my boyfriend)
Loans: $0 (I just graduated from college and don't have any loans thanks to scholarships, parents, and savings.)
Electric: ~$45 (all other utilities are included in our rent)
Health Insurance: $0 (on my parents' plan)
Car Insurance: $0 (on my parents' plan)
Netflix/Amazon Prime: $0 (thanks, parents!)

Day One

7 a.m. — Up bright and early! I don't even have to get up this early on days I go to work, but I don't mind today. My boyfriend, W., and I are going to a Ren Faire today, and I'm so excited! He's been going for years, but this is my first one. He stays in bed for a while after I get up, since he's much faster at getting ready than I am. I get myself ready and toast a blueberry English muffin to go with my OJ for breakfast. We're out the door by 8, since the fair's almost two hours away.
9:30 a.m. — We stop to get gas and go to the bathroom. Gas tends to be expensive where we live, so I decided to wait until we were on the road. I put the gas on my credit card. $34.25
10 a.m. — We get to the Ren Faire! It's not super packed yet, and the heat hasn't gotten outrageous, so we think we made the right move coming when it opened. W. and I pay for our day passes separately, $20 a piece. $20
10:30 a.m. — Once we're inside, we meet up with W.'s dad, C. We walk around the vendors and activities, and eventually end up starting with food since C. skipped breakfast. He buys us all Scotch eggs, which W. and I both appreciate.
11 a.m. — W. and I go back to one of the booths I had seen selling flower crowns. They're only a buck, and I feel like looking like a fairy princess today, but as I go to dig the money out of my purse, W. beats me to it and buys it for me. He's great. W. finds a shirt he likes at another vendor, then we walk around some more, meet back up with C., watch some shows, and eventually go in search of food again. W. and I split a huge turkey leg, and C. gets "steak on a stake." C. pays.
1 p.m. — We go to two shows back to back, bringing our lunch with us. The first is shaded, but the second is not, so we go back to the shade of the vendors' booths afterward. I buy some chai-apple loose-leaf tea that smells amazing at one of the booths. $5.20
2:30 p.m. — W. and I play in a human game of chess and then go to one more show. The temperature is probably upwards of 90 today, so we stop for ice cream. I get mint chocolate chip, and W. gets orange dreamsicle. This one's on me. $10
4 p.m. — We've had enough of a day at this point and decide to head home. W. and I go through the drive-thru at a Dairy Queen on the way out of town to help us cool down. I get a large water, and he gets a large Sprite. W. pays.
6 p.m. — We're finally home! W. napped most of the ride, but I am still exhausted. After a while, we make tacos with beef and shredded cheese for dinner. We relax and watch anime while we eat (I know, we're both nerds). I go to bed around 10, and W. joins me not long after.
Daily Total: $69.45

Day Two

8:30 a.m. — I've been awake on and off for an hour. W. gets up to start some laundry, so I guess it's time I look alive, too. I shower and get myself ready, and eat a toasted blueberry English muffin and OJ again for breakfast. We get most of our bread products from a day-old-bread store down the road, so I don't feel guilty about buying the special kind on our tight budget (a pack of six is 25 cents!).
9:45 a.m. — I say bye to W. before I head to church. He will leave for work before I get back and won't be home until tonight. I would've gone last night, but since we were gone, I have to get up early for it today.
12:30 p.m. — I get back from church and eat lunch: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a peach, and a little ice cream. I watch two episodes of Blue Bloods while I eat. I just need this time to unwind after a hectic week.
3 p.m. — I get back on track and start cleaning the apartment. I do the dishes, Swiffer, vacuum, and do some general wiping down in the bathroom and kitchen.
6:30 p.m. — W. is home by now, so we decide to put a frozen lasagna in the oven for dinner. We chill out, watch some more anime, and I head to bed around 10.
Daily Total: $0

Day Three

3 a.m. — W. and I both wake up from the lack of air conditioning. The power's out. Great.
7:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I'm not ready to get up. The power came back on about an hour ago — according to the power company's website, a wreck is what caused it. I get up and get ready, eat my usual breakfast, make my lunch, and am out the door a few minutes before 9.
9 a.m. — I love my commute! It takes five minutes if traffic is bad to get to work. I guess that's one of the upsides of living in such a small place. We've been having internet issues for the past few days, so I check in with my boss, and we get some of the issues resolved. I check my email and sign up for my health benefit plan online (this is only week two at this job). I spend the rest of the morning brainstorming new community-awareness events and help answer doors and phones since the office is busy this morning.
12 p.m. — I stop for lunch, which is leftover rice I brought from home and a plum. I go upstairs to chat with coworkers for a bit. After lunch, I update my timesheet, do some more brainstorming, and sit in on a meeting about redesigning our marketing materials.
3:30 p.m. — I leave work early today to go with W. to a doctor's appointment. We stop at the day-old-bread store on the way home because I'm out of English muffins. We pick up blueberry swirl bread (instead of English muffins, they're out), chocolate cookies, a box of Little Debbies, and I grab a little peanut butter pie because it looks good. It all costs $5.25 and is covered with our SNAP.
5 p.m. — When we get home, I order my contacts online. The year's supply costs $175.54 after shipping and a $20 off coupon that Honey adds automatically! I use my parents' health savings account to pay for the contacts.
6:30 p.m. — We make sloppy Joes and corn on the cob for dinner. We watch more anime while we eat, and I read a chapter of Dragonfly in Amber (the second book in the Outlander series, so good!) before heading to bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

7:30 a.m. — I wake up before my alarm and play on my phone for a few minutes before getting up. I shower, put on makeup (which for me is just a powder foundation, blush, and eyeliner), and eat some blueberry swirl bread from yesterday and drink a glass of OJ for breakfast. I'm out the door by 9.
9:30 a.m. — Once I've checked my email and calendar, I meet with a client for about 45 minutes and get ready for our morning staff meeting.
12 p.m. — Our staff meeting is over in time for lunch. I chat with coworkers again today over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pretzels, and a peach. I also eat the blueberry granola bar that I had intended to save for later. When I head back to my office, the light, which has been struggling for a few days, is completely out, and we think it's a problem with the fixture, not the bulb.
3 p.m. — My lights are fixed! I have a meeting this afternoon with the woman whose position I'll be taking over completely in a few weeks, and then I get back to brainstorming potential events. I get distracted by looking for tea strainers online, since I don't have one to use with the loose-leaf tea I bought on Saturday. I eventually find one on Wish that I like for $2.12. $2.12
5:30 p.m. — I leave later today to make up for yesterday's time and crash with a cookie and my book when I get home. W. and I aren't that hungry, so we don't have a real dinner, but I do end up making mac 'n' cheese around 9:30. I text back and forth with my mom for a while about family stuff, then go to bed around 12.
Daily Total: $2.12

Day Five

7:45 a.m. — Staying up late last night got to me. I go through my normal routine, pack a turkey and cheese sandwich, pretzels, an apple, and another blueberry granola bar for lunch, and I'm out the door by ten till nine.
9 a.m. — I spend the morning meeting with my supervisor. With how crazy this week has been, my orientation has been sporadic the past few days, so it's a change of pace to still be doing some of this a week in. I eat lunch in the conference room with some coworkers when the time comes.
1 p.m. — After lunch, I help some coworkers with a project, work on ideas for our social media and marketing materials, and do some research into new cell phones. I'm on my parents' plan, but they've been wanting to switch providers for a while, and my phone is about to give out anyway.
4:30 p.m. — I head home and work on a little DIY project to help contain the mountain of papers piling on our kitchen table.
7 p.m. — We make spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner, then decide to go to the grocery to pick up a few things we missed on our last trip. We come home with milk, orange juice concentrate, candy, pork chops, sandwich cookies, and strawberries. It comes out to $22.76 and is covered with our SNAP.
9:15 p.m. — I start a new show on Netflix while W. plays video games, and then I head to bed around 10:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Six

7:45 a.m. — Normal morning routine, and I also call a doctor's office I went to a while back about my application for financial assistance. My insurance hadn't covered as much as I thought it would, and they tell me I'm finally approved! I have to call back next week to make a final check on something, but this is a relief I've been waiting on for a while.
9 a.m. — Get to work and get ready to head out with a coworker to a meeting in another county. It doesn't take as long as expected, and we're back with a little time to spare. I work on some poster designs before heading to lunch.
12 p.m. — In hindsight, I could've gone home for lunch today, since W. is off, but I went to the trouble of making myself a fruit salad for lunch, so I stay put. My "salad" is a cut-up apple, peach, strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts with a strawberry vinaigrette. Tasty, but I expect to be hungry before the afternoon is out.
2 p.m. — I meet with coworkers to discuss new marketing materials, which turns into website redesign, which will most likely become my project. And yep, I'm hungry halfway through the day. I send a few emails and give a tour of the building to a potential volunteer before heading out for the day a few minutes later than usual.
5 p.m. — I catch up with W. when I get home, and he suggests grilled cheese for dinner. We realize we will be out of bread once we make them, though, so we go down the street to the day-old-bread store before it closes and pick up a loaf of bread and some chips. It's not really unusual for us to be in here more than once a week, because everything's dirt cheap and covered with SNAP, and it's stuff we eat, so I don't feel too bad about it. The total comes to $2.50, covered by SNAP.
6 p.m. — Once we're home, we make our sandwiches, watch some Netflix, and then I relax and browse online before heading to bed around 11.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

7:45 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I lie in bed on my phone for 20 minutes before getting ready. I don't realize until I get to work that I forgot to put on makeup. Oh, well.
9 a.m. — As a staff, we do a little cleaning and organizing on Friday mornings, so I help with that when I get in. I write a few emails, go to a meeting, and post on our social media before lunch, which is PB+J again, pretzels, and strawberries.
1 p.m. — I spend the afternoon helping coworkers with various projects, including organizing lots of donations. I head out about 4:30. Yay for the weekend!
5 p.m. — W.'s home and we decide to cook fish for dinner, which I get out to thaw for a bit. While it thaws, I sit down to read and relax after a long week. We bake the fish and make corn and fresh green beans to go with it. We watch some Netflix while we eat (creatures of habit, I know), and then I watch YouTube until I get too tired and head to bed around 10:30. I plan on getting lots of sleep this weekend.
Daily Total: $0
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