A Week In Madrid, Spain, On A $34,165 Salary

Welcome to Money Diaries, where we're tackling what might be the last taboo facing modern working women: money. We're asking millennials how they spend their hard-earned money during a seven-day period — and we're tracking every last dollar.
Today: an editor working in finance who makes $34,165 per year and spends some of her money this week on a cappuccino.
Occupation: Editor
Industry: Finance
Age: 26
Location: Madrid, Spain
Salary: $34,165.65 (+ annual bonus based on company performance)
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $2,164.96
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $456 (My partner, R., and I split a one-bedroom that costs $912 per month.)
Social Security: $180.79 (Taken out as tax. Includes complete access to public healthcare, parental/medical leave, unemployment, disability, and state pension.)
Utilities: $48 (Since electricity and water are billed together every three months, R. and I take turns paying it.)
Internet: $36 (R. pays.)
Dental Insurance: $33 (I pay for both of us. While medical can be either public or private, dental is only private.)
Cleaner: $45-$55 per week, for my half. (Depending on the month, it's $90-$110 for two hours/week and worth every single penny.)
Netflix: $0 (True to our generation, my sister and I use our dad's account.)
Spotify: $0 (I have my sister's account but rarely use it.)
Gym: $39.86
Phone: $22.66 (For 23 GB and unlimited calls. European data plans have spoiled me.)
New York Times Subscription: $4.56
Savings: ~$627 (Usually this all goes to the emergency/other savings fund, but I have my best friend's wedding in the U.S. next summer so I'm making a point to save aggressively for it.)
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Day One

7:30 a.m. — My usual weekend wake up time. I'm normally all for it since I like waking up early and for me this counts as “sleeping in,” but last night we went to dinner with some of R.'s PhD cohort and didn't get back until 2 a.m. I try to fall back asleep but give up after 10 minutes and get up to make coffee instead.
9 a.m. — I spend an hour falling down an Instagram rabbit hole of puppy videos and send all the cute ones to R. to watch when he finally rejoins the world of the living. We'd really like to adopt one, but we know now isn't the right time. So until then, IG will have to do.
10:30 a.m. — A week ago a friend from home came to visit and brought us a some fancy gingerbread peanut butter. I'm always torn between wanting to eat the entire jar with a spoon and wanting to make it last forever. (She also brought Red Vines, but they didn't even stand a chance at lasting longer than a day.) R. is finally up, so we make another moka pot of coffee and stuff our faces with peanut butter toast, rationing be damned.
11:30 a.m. — The Libby library app is without a doubt the love of my life (don't tell R.) and together we're working through book #83 this year. I hang out on the couch and read while R. plays video games.
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2:30 p.m. — Every other month, we place a large online order to stock up on nonperishables because lugging all those jars and cans from the store and up four flights of stairs yourself is a huge pain (even if it is good for your butt). We get laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, toothpaste, corn, tuna, tomato sauce, red and white kidney beans, popcorn, breakfast tea, frozen peas, pickles, olives, smoked salmon, pasta, vinegar, olive oil, rice, pesto, beer, white wine, Mexican tortillas, and honey. While I check out and pay, R. makes chicken fajitas for lunch. $91.99
6 p.m. — After lunch, we cuddle in bed and watch a few episodes of Psych on R.'s Amazon account. I didn't have network TV at home growing up and most American series (aside from Friends and The Simpsons) didn't make it to Spain, so R. and I made a list and are binging our way through various shows that were big in the 2000s.
7:30 p.m. — We normally order pizza for dinner on Sundays, because it's the best way to start the week. R. orders our usual (pepperoni with black olives and onions) through Glovo and we watch an episode of our comfort show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, while eating ($19.35, R. pays).
9 p.m. — I change from day PJs into night PJs, and do my nightly routine: brush and floss, cleanse and moisturize, and pick tomorrow's outfit (which saves me SO much time in the morning). I read in bed before turning out like a light around 10.
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Daily Total: $91.99

Day Two

6 a.m. — I wake up five minutes before my alarm and lie there debating whether I should just get up now or wait for it to go off. It decides for me. I boil water for breakfast tea and sip it while I scroll through Instagram. I quickly shower, get dressed, and head down to the metro.
6:50 a.m. — My metro card is out of rides, so I load a bulk ticket of 10 trips onto it. Since I only use public transport to get to and from work, it's cheaper to buy them this way instead of paying for the unlimited pass. It usually takes 20ish minutes to get to the office and I listen to the latest episode of The Daily on the way. My schedule depends on the time of year. Right now, I get to the office a little before 7:10 a.m. and leave at 1:30 p.m. During our busy periods (one or two days four times a year), I come in at 6:30 and leave around 2. $13.89
8:45 a.m. — The first hour and a half is always the most stressful, since we have a tight deadline. Luckily, things go relatively smoothly today. Once everything is sent out and uploaded, I get up to make myself a cup of coffee from the office's free Nespresso stash and grab a couple of María cookies. I always feel kind of weird calling them digestive biscuits, even though technically I guess that's what they are?
10 a.m. — The lunch list gets passed around and I decide to order orange juice, a salad, and broccoli chicken linguine. My company provides snacks and lunch. My entire morning revolves around the 11:15 snack.
11:20 a.m. — I wait a good five minutes to let the stampede die down before heading to the kitchen. It's Monday, so that means it's DIY sandwich day. I saw off a piece of baguette and stuff it with cold cut turkey, cheese, and tomatoes, and douse it all with olive oil for good measure.
1:30 p.m. — The rest of the morning passes by slowly. This job is mostly really stressful moments paired with a lot of downtime, which at first was an alien concept to me. I used to be in education, which was pretty much the opposite: lots of action paired with basically no downtime. I kill time by reading various newspapers and feeling horrified (a.k.a. global garbage fire). Lunch is delivered; I quickly eat before heading out.
2:30 p.m. — I listen to the Planet Money rerun episode on lotteries as I metro home. Lotteries are huge in Spain, especially the Christmas one (a children's choir sings out the winning numbers), and I know that soon I'm going to have to pony up for the office pool because nobody wants to be the chump still working after New Year's. When I get home, I change into leggings and a gym top and immediately leave again because I know that if I sit down I'll become one with the couch and won't get up until morning.
3:30 p.m. — I love how nice and stretched out I always feel after pilates. I've never been any sort of flexible, so it's encouraging to see that after several months of classes I can almost maybe finally touch my toes. R. is back and playing video games when I get home. I zone out and scroll through my Feedly while snacking on carrots on the couch. The groceries were delivered and I have fun organizing everything.
6 p.m. — The weather got really cold all of a sudden and it's making me feel like cooking warm comfort food. I put on the somnology episode of Ologies to listen to while I make chili. I love Alie Ward — she's hilarious and think she does a great job of making the topics really accessible.
8 p.m. — Even though I know it'll taste even better tomorrow, I can't stop myself from devouring two bowls of chili topped with cheese. R. and I watch an episode of Psych while we eat. He does the dishes while I shower and do my nightly routine. I read for a bit before falling asleep around 10ish.
Daily Total: $13.89

Day Three

6 a.m. — Up and at ‘em. I do my Instagram-and-tea thing before getting dressed and heading out.
9 a.m. — This morning is a lot more stressful than yesterday's was. Once the chaos circus dies down, I get up to make some coffee and snag a few cookies. It looks like the Nespresso fairy came by yesterday and brought different colored capsules. Since they all taste the same to me, I just grab the regular brown one.
10 a.m. — The lunch list goes by but we're having lunch with R.'s grandma today, so I don't order anything. We see her at least once a week, sometimes twice, and we get along really well. She's definitely who I want to be when I grow up. I make another coffee and have another few María cookies to survive until 11.
11:15 a.m. — I spend some time going through a draft and making my corrections before going over them with the analyst. I'm a one-person department, and one of only a few women in the office, which took some time getting used to. When we finish, it's already time for the morning snack so we head over to the kitchen. Turns out it's grilled ham and cheese day and there's standing room only. It takes us a little while to elbow our way to the front, but eventually we make it and grab sandwiches.
1:30 p.m. — R.'s grandma lives about a 30-minute walk away from my office so I listen to an episode of Gastropod on the way over. It's the episode about time as an ingredient. I don't think I had ever thought of it as such, but it makes a lot of sense. I make a mental note to look up the book when I get home. R.'s office is halfway between both places, so I swing by and we walk the rest of the way together.
4 p.m. — R. and I each have a beer while we pre-lunch snack on olives and help set the table. Today there's potaje de garbanzos (chickpeas slow cooked with spinach, red peppers, chorizo, and bacon) and quince jelly with tetilla cheese for dessert. My inner eight-year-old will forever think it's hilarious that it's called small boob cheese. After lunch, we sit in the living room and chat for a bit before leaving with bread and a package of chorizo. R. doesn't feel like walking home, so we take an electric scooter (think Vespa, not Razor) instead. He has a bunch of free minutes on the app, so the 10-minute ride is free!
5:30 p.m. — I get emailed a document to look over, so I pull out my work laptop. Being able to leave the office at 1:30 is a great perk, but I have to work from home in the afternoon as needed. I hardly ever get sent anything to work on, though — usually only once or twice a month.
7:55 p.m. — Our washing machine went full Poltergeist on us last week. Luckily our landlords decided that the broken spin cycle wasn't worth fixing, so they bought us a new one. The store said that it'd be delivered between 4 and 8 p.m., and the delivery guys ring the buzzer with five minutes to spare. Turns out that the washing machine needs a longer hose than the one it came with, so I run down to the hardware store. Our landlords will deduct the cost from next month's rent. ($20.50 expensed)
9 p.m. — For dinner, we make an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad and watch the latest episode of The Good Place while we eat. I shower, do my nightly routine, and get in bed.
11 p.m. — I'm having trouble falling asleep so I put on a random episode of The History of English podcast. For some reason I find it really soothing, and it definitely works — I fall asleep immediately.
Daily Total: $0

Day Four

6 a.m. — Wednesday feels like a frying pan to the face. I run through my morning routine and listen to an episode of The World in Words on the metro.
8:30 a.m. — Everything goes a lot smoother today than yesterday, thank goodness. Sometimes I get really frustrated because my job depends entirely on how others manage themselves, but I guess it comes with the territory. I have my usual coffee and María cookie breakfast.
9:30 a.m. — Whenever one of the analysts messes up (or does something right, or comes in late, or for any reason, really), it's office tradition for him to buy Spanish tortilla for everyone. I'm not sure what today's transgression is, but nobody ever asks too many questions because they're just happy about the free food. I head to the kitchen and help myself to a slice. The lunch list gets passed around and I decide to go for gyoza and a tuna roll.
11:15 a.m. — Wednesday is fruit day and the kitchen is noticeably emptier than on grilled ham and cheese day. Thanks to this morning's tortilla, I'm not as starving as I usually am by this time, but I eat an apple anyway.
1:30 p.m. — Today's another day with a lot of downtime punctuated with the occasional database request. Lunch is delivered, and I quickly eat before heading out. It's not the best sushi, but it gets the job done. Before getting the metro, I stop by the pharmacy across the street to pick up bandages and royal jelly capsules. I've never tried them before, but they're extremely popular here for cold prevention. I'm sure it's about as effective as Emergen-C, but I also refuse to get sick this year so I'll take all the placebos I can get. $10.22
2:30 p.m. — I quickly change into gym clothes and head to spinning before the couch tempts me with its siren call. During the actual class, I'm not the biggest fan (why is it SO LOUD? Why won't the teacher stop talking? Will I ever get rid of this wedgie?), but afterwards I always feel incredible. I guess that's why I keep going. Endorphins are strange.
4 p.m. — I shower and get lost in a blog rabbit hole. I don't even know what happened — one minute I was fine and the next I had 70 tabs open. I save all the interesting-looking ones to Pocket to read eventually. My eyes start to go buggy after looking at computer screens all day, so I decide to make a stir-fry with some eggplant and broccoli that's on its last legs. I put on an episode of My Dad Wrote A Porno and there are times where I have to put the knife down because I'm laughing so hard. I make some rice to go with it.
6 p.m. — R. comes home and is really excited about the progress he's made on his research. He excitedly explains it to me while I get ready to head out for our weekly date. Once a week, we leave our phones at home and go somewhere close by to get a drink and enjoy talking to each other. Also to people-watch. We head to a hipster-y place where I get a ginger beer, R. gets a normal beer, and we split a bowl of potato wedges with Sriracha mayo ($13.09, R. pays).
9 p.m. — I'm still stuffed from all the stir-fry and potatoes earlier, but R. is a bottomless pit. While he rummages around and boils some eggs (which always reminds me of Joanna from The Rescuers Down Under), I message with some friends back home. I don't have problems falling asleep and I'm out by 10.
Daily Total: $10.22

Day Five

6 a.m. — Thursday is here and my alarm won't let me forget it. I listen to yesterday's Up First podcast on the metro this morning.
9 a.m. — The chaos circus is back in town and I enlist our intern to help me get everything compiled by the deadline. I grab an extra María cookie along with my coffee this morning, just because.
10:30 a.m. — I'm meeting a friend for lunch today, so I just pass the list along when it reaches me. I make another cup of coffee and settle in to read through old reports. Before I started here, I would always joke that my dream job would be to get paid for drinking coffee and reading things. I just never would have expected them to be financial reports.
11:30 a.m. — The report I edited earlier this week finally got the green light to be published. I speed-read through it one last time time and fix some formatting before publishing. Today, there's lomo con pimientos (pork loin and green peppers in tomato sauce) and the kitchen is back to its busy self.
1:30 p.m. — I'm meeting my friend for a menú del día (two course lunch menu + drink and dessert), which most restaurants here offer for lunch. She gets a beer, salmorejo with ham for the first course, beef fillet with veggies and fries for the second, and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. I'm not a fan of cold soups so I go for the menestra de verduras (various veggies sautéed with ham), chicken curry with rice, pineapple for dessert and a tinto de verano (red wine with soda water). It's $12.53 per person, which my friend pays since I paid for dinner when we hung out last week. We have a running Splitwise group with R. since we all usually hang out a couple of times a week, and it's way easier than paying everyone back each time we meet up.
3:30 p.m. — We have a nail appointment, so we head there after lunch. I end up going with a corporate-friendly light gray and my friend goes for her usual black. While we're here, I decide to get my eyebrows tamed — I mean threaded. I have very dark, very headstrong eyebrows that grow in two different directions (one of which is straight up, ugh!) so every three to four weeks I turn them over to a professional. I used to try to do them myself but this is one of those things that I've learned I'm better off paying someone else to do. $29.56
5:30 p.m. — My friend and I part ways and I walk the 15 minutes home. R. decided to work from home today so he's there when I get back. He oohs and ahhs the proper amount over my newly cleaned up eyebrows. (He always insists that he can't tell the difference, but he's a good sport.) We cuddle in bed and watch a couple episodes of Psych.
8 p.m. — R. goes off to play some video games and I read on the couch for a bit. We heat up the last of the chili and stir-fry for dinner. My sister WhatsApp calls just to chat while she walks to her biology exam. She's five years younger than me, and we weren't that close up until about a year or two ago. We've been talking a lot lately, especially because she's in her last year of college and I feel like now we have a lot more that we can relate about.
9:30 p.m. — I get ready for bed and lose track of time watching cooking videos on Instagram. I finally force myself to put the phone down and fall asleep around 10:30.
Daily Total: $29.56

Day Six

6 a.m. — Wake up, drink tea, manage to dress myself. Even though I showered last night, my hair is doing its cowlick thing against my wishes. I quickly wet the front part and then blow dry, hoping that'll teach it a lesson ... but I know that it listens to nobody.
9 a.m. — The Friday gods have smiled on us and everything goes smoothly before the deadline this morning. There's a breakfast meeting being set up and I swipe a few mini pain au chocolat from the extras tray to go with my coffee and María cookies. Things are very quiet since a few people have extra vacation days to use before the end of the year, so they take Fridays off. I read the news and look up flights for a trip around Christmas — R. and I have been thinking about going somewhere but haven't decided where yet.
10:30 a.m. — I pass the lunch list on when it gets to me since I'm meeting up with my friend for lunch. She lives outside the city so we only see really each other once a month or so when our Friday schedules match up. On to my second coffee of the morning. The meeting's done and there's leftover orange juice and croissants, which I help myself to.
11:20 a.m. — Fridays are charcuterie days. I saw off two small pieces of baguette and stuff one with jamón serrano, the other with salchichón, and pour olive oil over both. I love Spanish embutido and I always joke that it's the reason I've stayed here for so long.
1:30 p.m. — I pack up and head out. My friend and I always meet somewhere near her office, because it's in the neighborhood I live in. She doesn't finish for another hour, so I stop by my place to change out of my corporate costume and into weekend clothes. R. has had another work-from-home day, so we chat for a bit. We're meeting up at our other friend's house for a game night later, so we agree to meet at a grocery store after lunch to pick up beer and snacks.
2:45 p.m. — I meet my friend outside her office. She wants to try a trendy new “ healthy bowl” place that just opened up down the street, so we head over. For their menú del día they have a leek and zucchini soup of the day for the first course and then a choice of two bowls for the second so that makes deciding what to eat much easier. A. gets the “rustic bowl” (grilled steak and roasted vegetables over brown rice topped with a fried egg and cherry tomatoes) and I try the “salmon bowl” (salmon ceviche over spring mix topped with red onion, cucumbers, radishes, fennel, beets and avocado). Their foodgram game is definitely strong. Dessert is seasonal fruit, which neither of us are feeling so we get ginger tea instead. We spend some time catching up and hanging out. $14.24
5:30 p.m. — R. is browsing the snack aisle by the time I get to the store. We get a bag of potato chips, cheese, salchichón, manzanilla olives, and beer. ($11.92, P. pays.)
8:30 p.m. — Last year we all got really into playing this board game called Terra Mystica, so we play two rounds (R. wins the first and I win the second) before we feel like eating something other than cheese and olives. Our friend offers up some spicy marinara sauce that she made the other day, so I volunteer to run down and get pasta. While I'm there, I also grab another bottle of beer. $4.32
11 p.m. — We play a third game and R. wins again. (He insists that it's because of skill, but I say it's because we got distracted by a neighbor blasting Vengaboys, so of course we had to have a mid-game dance party.) We hang out on the couch for a while in a pasta stupor before walking home.
Daily Total: $18.56

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I wake up without an alarm and snuggle with R. for a bit before I decide to stop bothering him and make some coffee. I make a piece of toast with the fancy peanut butter and sit down at the computer. I've been having trouble getting myself into the habit of writing just for the sake of writing. It's a shame because I really enjoy it and it's something I used to do constantly as a kid before school essays and reports came on the scene, so I'm trying to nudge myself into the habit again. I work best in the morning, so I put my hair in a bun, sip some coffee, and free write.
10 a.m. — The cleaner lets herself in and we chat for a few minutes before I get out of her hair. The apartment is so small that it's impossible to not be underfoot, so our Saturday ritual is to get breakfast at our favorite coffee shop while she works her magic. R. gets an espresso, I get a cappuccino, and we split a ham and cheese croissant, a bagel with avocado, cream cheese, and dill, and tomato toast with olive oil. It usually comes out to $15.36, but we've reached 10 stamps, so the espresso is free. I pay. $13.55
11:30 a.m. — We still have some time to kill, so we head to the market for fresh groceries where we divide and conquer. I head to our usual fruit and vegetable stand while R. lines up at the poultry stand. I get red and green peppers, avocados, carrots, figs, sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and cucumbers ($7.60). He gets chicken hearts, chicken thighs, diced chicken breast, and eggs ($8.54, R. pays). There's a grocery store between the market and our house, so R. takes the bags and heads home while I duck in to get shredded cheese, milk, and a few pieces of candy to congratulate myself for buying so many vegetables ($3.95). $11.55
12 p.m. — Coming home to an apartment that smells of clean is by far my favorite part of the week. R. and I put away the groceries and he settles in to play some video games while I lie on the couch and read.
2:30 p.m. — We're having lunch with R.'s family today so we take showers, get dressed, and take an electric scooter to the restaurant. R.'s parents and grandma are already there, so R. orders a beer and I get some white wine while we wait for his brother. Everything is to share, so we order ham croquettes, esgarraet (roasted red peppers with thinly sliced cod and onions), pisto manchego (basically deconstructed ratatouille in tomato sauce with a fried egg on top), sepia a la plancha (grilled cuttlefish with garlic parsley sauce), and grilled vegetables, with flan and cava lemon sorbet for dessert.
5:30 p.m. — As both a foreigner and an introvert, no matter how long I live here I don't think I'll ever understand how the Spanish can sit and talk for so long during meals. I'm convinced that half the time they don't understand it either. R.'s dad gets a glass of port, R. and his brother get espressos, his mom and I have tea, and his grandma very graciously gets the check ($99.59). R. wants to take a scooter home, but I feel like walking off this food baby, so we walk. I crawl into bed and scroll through various feeds before falling asleep.
7 p.m. — I probably should have woken up from siesta-land earlier, but I was so nice and cozy in bed. We discuss going to a Cantonese place down the street for dinner but decide that we aren't that hungry (but mostly can't be bothered to get dressed again). We end up splitting an avocado with soy sauce while R. makes some popcorn and we watch a few episodes of Psych. (What was it with the 2000s and goatees?????) I read for a bit before falling asleep around 12.
Daily Total: $25.10
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