A Week In Sacramento, CA, On $2,700 Per Month

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Today: an intern working in government who makes $2,700 per month and spends some of her money this week on Odwalla smoothies.
Occupation: Intern
Industry: Government
Age: 22
Location: Sacramento, CA
Income: I get a monthly stipend of $2,700
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): After taxes, my take-home pay comes out to about $2,400.
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Monthly Expenses
Rent: $765 (I share a three-bedroom apartment with two roommates.)
Student Loan Payment: $0 (I'm still in the deferment period for my loans since graduating last spring, and I will begin payments next month.)
Yoga Studio Membership: $68 (I go about 15x month, so it works out to about $4 a class)
Transit Pass: My work pays for this.
Utilities: $40
Cell Phone: My parents pay.
Netflix: I use my parents' account.
Health Insurance & Car Insurance: I'm on my parents' plans.
New York Times Sunday Subscription: $4

Day One

6:30 a.m. — My boyfriend wakes me up in our Airbnb in South Lake Tahoe. We stopped here last night on our way back to Sacramento after I spent a week at home in L.A. for the holidays. My boyfriend usually sleeps in for hours after I wake up, but when we're in a new place, he's up at dawn. He goes upstairs to read while I start getting ready.
7:45 a.m. — We stop at a local coffee shop and grab two coffees to-go, and I chug a couple glasses of water while we're there. (Being away from home and my reusable water bottles always makes me super dehydrated.) For breakfast, we munch on leftover monkey bread from a roadside bakery, while we drive to our first stop. $4
8:45 a.m. — We arrive at a state park alongside the lake and take in the views. We laughed this morning when our Airbnb host asked if we were there to “hit the slopes” — neither of us are into snowboarding/skiing, and to me it's always seemed way too expensive to be worth it.
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12:45 p.m. — After some more sightseeing, we stop at a sandwich shop for lunch. I get a vegan wrap sandwich, and my boyfriend gets a “fake” reuben sandwich. (We're both vegetarian.) He pays. We realize we've hit everything on our must-see list much faster than we expected, and make one more stop at a state beach (I pay the entrance fee) before getting on the highway towards Sacramento. $10
1:30 p.m. — It's my turn to drive, so I pull over in a rural town and buy a cup of coffee. (Coming from L.A. area, it is bananas to me how much open space NorCal has, even near big cities.) $2.50
3:30 p.m. — We get to my apartment and unpack the car. Somehow, I flew to L.A. with only a carry-on and returned with a full carload and multiple bags, including old furniture I took from my parents' garage. I've lived here for a few months, but my roommates and I haven't gotten around to fully furnishing the living room. My boyfriend still lives in Southern California while finishing school, but he's spending a few days here for New Year's.
5 p.m. — We are HUNGRY, so we walk to Chipotle, which we pay for with gift card. One of my favorite things about Sacramento is how walkable it is compared to Los Angeles.
6 p.m. — After Chipotle, we stop by CVS to pick up Neosporin (infected facial piercing), cheap vodka, and cranberry juice to make drinks at home tonight. I buy my Neosporin and my boyfriend picks up the drinks. $5.12
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7 p.m. — We watch When Harry Met Sally together on my bed while drinking vodka-cranberry drinks and eating popcorn. (My boyfriend buys the movie on Amazon.) This is a New Year's tradition for us — we were friends for nearly six years before we started dating, so the movie hits close to home.
Daily Total: $21.62

Day Two

7:45 a.m. — I wake up and head down the street to my yoga studio for an 8 a.m. class. I got a Manduka Pro mat for Christmas, but I didn't take the time to break it in with salt, so I'm slipping around during class. I have a monthly membership here, so I don't pay per class.
10 a.m. — I stop at the Natural Foods Co-op on my way home to pick up a few groceries for my apartment and an early lunch for my boyfriend and me. The Co-op is super hip and sells organic local produce, and I know I should shop local because #sustainability, but it is also pretty pricey, so this is actually my first time shopping here. Even though it's a block from my apartment, I normally drive to the Trader Joe's in the suburbs. I buy two cans of garbanzo beans, a large bag of kale, tomatoes, and carrots, and four Odwalla smoothies. From the deli section, I grab a pre-made kale salad for myself and a fake bacon BLT for my boyfriend. $41.74
12 p.m. — I'm craving a lazy Sunday afternoon before four more friends from home arrive tonight, so we head to a local coffee shop. Work was really stressful before the holiday break, so I use the time at the coffee shop to strategize ways to make the upcoming week more engaging — meditation breaks using Headspace, intellectually stimulating books to read at lunch instead of scrolling through social media, and scheduling coffee dates with mentors/career role models. I buy a cider. I like this coffee shop because they also have beer/wine. $7.41
4 p.m. — My boyfriend and I walk around the touristy Old Sacramento, then go to a thrift store to kill time until our friends arrive. I buy a funky cheetah print shirt to wear for NYE, and I'm excited because it matches the animal print shirt my boyfriend is wearing. $9.74
7 p.m. — Get to our friends' Airbnb in the suburbs and order a pizza. (My boyfriend pays for my share.) I was a little nervous about having my friends come up because I thought they'd want to eat out for most meals and go out each night since they're on vacation, and I only have about $60 to spend until my paycheck on the 31st. Luckily, it seems like they also prefer staying in and saving money. My November 30th paycheck was my first full paycheck since moving here, so I had a lot to catch up on — rent, credit card bill, and purchases I'd been putting off — as well as the additional expense of Christmas gifts. I'm looking forward to getting on a more regular budget in January.
11 p.m. — Arrive back at my apartment. I know I should sleep since I have work in the morning, but I don't fall asleep until past 2 a.m. due to my boyfriend snoring louder than usual, and my roommate having a friend over. I struggle with insomnia and can rarely fall asleep unless it is silent — which screams “she needs her own place,” but I can't afford to live without roommates.
Daily Total: $58.89

Day Three

8:15 a.m. — NYE. I end up dragging my feet so much that I'm running late. I miss my train, so my boyfriend drops me off. I bring a vanilla chai protein shake for breakfast.
10:45 a.m. — I meet my boyfriend and our friends at a cafe, and a I get a fake bacon BLT. (My boyfriend pays.) I've been vegetarian for about eight years, and I'm working on transitioning to being a “weekday vegan” this year.
12:30 p.m. — I guide my friends on a tour around the State Capitol building. We do a “photoshoot” in front of the building, and I'm SO happy they're here.
2 p.m. — We go back to the thrift store so my friends can look for fun/extra NYE clothes. I try on about seven pairs of jeans and find a like-new Madewell pair that fit perfectly for only $25. I don't have the money for them until my paycheck, so I put them on hold.
4 p.m. — Our friends go back to their Airbnb, and my BF and I go back to my apartment so I can nap. He puts on his record player — he packed it from home (?!), and it puts me to sleep.
5 p.m. — I thought for sure my friends would want to go out to eat and pregame tonight, but instead they say we can eat on our own then meet at the Airbnb for pregaming. My boyfriend and I make a decadent meal of Annie's mac and cheese and kale salad that I have on hand, and then get dressed to leave. I'd expressed concern over the cost of us Ubering into the suburbs to meet my friends at their Airbnb, so one of my friends drives to pick us up instead. (Bless them.)
8 p.m. — After pregaming and eating appetizers at the Airbnb, we head to a brewery in West Sacramento hosting a NYE event. It cost $30 per person but includes two drinks, and I figured we were more of a “chill brewery vibes” group than a “wandering through crowded bars downtown” group, so I think it was worth it. I paid for my ticket and my boyfriend's a few weeks in advance. One of my friends doesn't want to drink, so she offers to drive, saving us immensely on NYE Uber costs. $62
12:30 a.m. — We get back to my apartment — the event was outside, and it was way too cold for my SoCal friends, so they were ready to dip as soon as the clock struck 12. Like, literally they were sprinting to the car as Auld Lang Syne played. Fine with me, I'm not feeling great, and I'm ready to sleep.
Daily Total: $62

Day Four

12:30 p.m. — PAY DAY! After a lazy morning, my boyfriend and I go to a ramen restaurant down the street — it is our friend group's New Year's tradition to eat ramen as the first meal of the year. In L.A., this typically happens around 1 or 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve, but since the sole ramen restaurant in Sacramento closes at 10 p.m. we had to delay it to a NYD lunch. I'm really not feeling great, and I realize while waiting for our table that I've started my period. I run over to the Safeway down the street for pads and Advil. $15.13
1 p.m. — I pay for my BF's ramen and my own. He typically pays for the vast majority of our meals and activities, which I feel very guilty about, so I usually overcompensate by trying to pay for everything the week my paycheck hits. $28.82
3 p.m. — My boyfriend is supposed to drive home, since he has work in the morning and is planning on dropping me off to meet my friends at the zoo. But I start crying when it's time for him to leave. (Again, I've been stressed at work and not loving Sacramento, and it's hard to face another few weeks without seeing him, especially after spending every day over the holidays together.) He feels bad and decides to come to the zoo and leave later. He pays for our tickets ($15 each), but I pay for us to feed a giraffe ($5, worth it) and for a Vitamin Water ($4). $9
5 p.m. — One of my friends wants to visit a local coffee shop, so I take her to one by my apartment and buy a Mexican hot chocolate, even though I initially planned on not buying anything. Afterwards, she drops me off at my apartment to nap. $4.50
7 p.m. — I drive to my friends' Airbnb to eat dinner there for free — they've made breakfast for dinner, although we don't eat it until after about four hours of playing Mario Kart. I leave around 11 and say my goodbyes, since they leave tomorrow morning.
Daily Total: $57.45

Day Five

8:30 a.m. — First full day back at work, with strong Monday vibes even though it's a Wednesday. I hop on the train at the station right behind my apartment at 8:15, and am at work by 8:30.
9 a.m. — I buy a small carton of milk to keep in the office fridge for coffee. I already have K-cups there, but I feel bad about the waste they produce. But, I can't afford to buy a new coffee pot for the office, so… $1.50
1 p.m. — I am officially sick, not hungover. I walk a mile in my new cheetah print heeled boots to Rite Aid and buy DayQuil/NyQuil, and also new mascara. I then eat my packed lunch (kale and chickpea salad). $18.50
5:15 p.m. — Home from work, I eat split pea soup I have on hand. I spend a few hours cleaning my room, then reading a new book my boyfriend bought me called The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade. I'm asleep around 11 p.m.
Daily Total: $20

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — At work drinking another Odwalla juice for breakfast. Our office is always silent, so my constant coughing and sneezing is increasingly obvious.
10 a.m. — I have a phone meeting with my boss, who is also sick and working from home. She advises me to take the rest of the day off, as well as tomorrow, since I'm “most contagious right now.” She doesn't have to tell me twice — I've gone through an entire box of tissues just this morning. I contemplate Ubering home, but it is $7 for a five-minute drive, so I take the train instead.
12 p.m. — I get home and eat the food I packed for lunch, which is quinoa and roasted eggplant with soy sauce. Then I lie around on the couch, wondering what to do with my now free afternoon in my empty apartment.
3 p.m. — I stop by the post office to mail a letter to my boyfriend (writing out my personal 2019 resolutions for our relationship) and the birthday gift to my friend. I know literally nothing about the post office (#millennial), so I am surprised that I have to pay nearly $9 to mail one mug across the state. But I suck it up and make a mental note of how much my mom and friends must be paying each time they send me a large care package. $8.75
3:30 p.m. — I stop by the Natural Foods Co-op to buy ingredients for soup. Even before I was sick, I wanted to cleanse this weekend, so this is a good excuse. I get bunches of kale, rainbow carrots, vegetable broth, two pre-made soups, orange juice, and tea. I also get a pre-made kale Caesar salad. $29.35
7:30 p.m. — I head to yoga. I know I probably shouldn't go to yoga when I have the day off of work for being sick, but it is really the only thing that'll make me feel better. And I don't do well with entire days without movement. Also, my boss is really into yoga, so I think she'd understand.
9 p.m. — I'm home and make a soup with kale, carrots, and mushroom broth. I read my book for a few hours and head to bed.
Daily Total: $38.10

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — I'm not going to work today, but I wake up and finish up an assignment due today so I can email it in. I text my boss to let her know I'm still feeling sick, then go back to sleep.
10 a.m. — I drink hot water with lemon and read last week's New York Times Sunday edition — I just signed up for print copies. I was a print journalism major, so seeing the print layout is soothing.
11 a.m. — I get a call from one of the graduate schools I applied too, letting me know I've been admitted. It's a nice surprise, since I wasn't expecting to hear back for a few months, and I daydream while looking on Craigslist at apartments near the campus.
12 p.m. — I make another soup. I want to go to yoga, but decide I shouldn't go during work hours on a day I have off for being sick.
4 p.m. — I use the time to visualize my 2019 goals, trying to contextualize them more in terms of what I want in the next five to 10 years. As an ENFP personality type, I often jump from thing to thing. Especially with grad school, I want to make sure that my next step lines up with my future goals, not just what I'm interested in right now. My smaller 2019 goals include being a weekday vegan, yoga four times a week, meditation three times a week, and reading two books a month. The traits I'm hoping to focus on are patience, gratefulness, and passion.
7 p.m. — I spend the whole day at home, reading and watching Netflix before going to sleep. It's been a social few weeks with the holidays and having friends in town, and I'm glad to get a bit of a break, although I know I can't handle another boring sick day in the apartment alone next week.
Daily Total: $0
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