A Week In Green Bay, WI, On A $17 Per Hour

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Today: a service associate working at a library who makes $17.19/hour and spends some of her money this week on a hairbrush.
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Occupation: Service Associate
Industry: Library
Age: 25
Location: Green Bay, WI
Salary: $17.19/hour
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $899
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $384.50 (My partner, B., and I rent a two-bedroom apartment and split rent 50/50. We have a joint credit card for shared expenses (groceries, household items, meals, gas, etc.). He's working as a barista now and looking for full-time work in his field, so we agreed to split the monthly bill 60/40 for now since I make more than he does.)
Loans: $0 (I paid off my car and student loans last year while living with my parents.)
Electric: $75
Water: $35
Internet: $0 (B. pays.)
Parking: $25
Phone & Netflix: $60
Car Insurance: $47
Renter's Insurance: $0 (B. pays.)
Spotify & Hulu: $14
Gym Membership: $0 (My parents pay.)
Retirement: $140

Day One

9 a.m. — My partner, B., has to work at 6, so he gets up early. I'm off today, so I have the bed to myself — what a luxury! I get up around 9 and eat a kiwi and a bowl of cereal for breakfast. Once I'm awake, I update my budget spreadsheet, since it's payday. I keep track of the running totals for each of my bank accounts and credit cards.
12:45 p.m. — I decide to go for a run. I've gotten really lazy about exercising lately, but I'm trying to work out more since I feel better when it's part of my routine. I eat a handful of dried coconut, chug water, stretch, and head outside. I only go about a mile and a half, but it still feels good to get out and move.
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3:30 p.m. — B. and I have plans to look at engagement rings this afternoon, so once he gets home we drive to the the first of two jewelers we're looking at. Even though I'm excited, I have a lot of mixed feelings about engagement rings — I feel like they're a huge waste of money, and I think their traditional meaning is really sexist. B. wants to buy me something nice, so we've compromised and are looking at modest diamonds with a max total budget of $1,500. I still feel a little guilty about him spending that much, but the rings are all really pretty, and it's fun to look at them together. I give B. some insights into what I like, and he'll come back and make a final decision later.
5:30 p.m. — After window shopping, we go to a supper club for dinner and both order the fish fry. The fish fry is a Wisconsin tradition consisting of fried fish, tartar sauce, coleslaw, rye bread, and some sort of potato side. It is supremely unhealthy and delicious, as are most Wisconsin delicacies (fried cheese curds and brats, to name a few). We have a gift card for $10 off, so our bill comes to $35.75 including tip. We both leave feeling full and happy. (My share is about $22.) $22
8:30 p.m. — When we get home, we order phone cases on Amazon, since we switched to a new plan last week and got new phones. B. uses Amazon Prime points for his, and I pay for mine. We spend the rest of the night lounging around and watching TV before going to bed around 10:30. $24.35
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Daily Total: $46.35

Day Two

7 a.m. — My alarm goes off, but I slept terribly last night so I wait until my second alarm goes off to get up. Working on Saturdays is the worst. I get dressed and make two slices of toast with peanut butter on one and raspberry jam on the other. I wash it down with soy milk, say goodbye to B., and leave for work.
8:30 a.m. — One of the perks of living in a small city is that there is literally no traffic. My drive to work takes about 10 minutes door to door, which is awesome. I punch in at work and start on opening tasks for the day.
10 a.m. — One of my coworkers lost a family member last week and the library is collecting money for a funeral gift. I remember I have cash in my wallet, so I add a small contribution. $10
1:15 p.m. — I heat up a leftover burrito bowl for lunch, but I'm not super hungry since a coworker brought in donuts and I may or may not have sampled several of them this morning. On the weekends we have less staff, so I spend the whole day either working at the circulation desk or checking in returns and helping out at the desk when it's busy. I'm super grateful for my 30 minutes of solitude, since dealing with people all day wears me down.
4:30 p.m. — When I get home from work, B. is in a weird mood. We're usually really silly together, but he seems down and doesn't want to talk much, so we lay in bed and read for a while.
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5:45 p.m. — We drive to my parents' house for dinner. B. and I both lived with our parents until we moved in together about three months ago, so it's nice to see my family. I especially miss my sister, who's quite a bit younger than me. We have dinner (corn on the cob, tacos, watermelon, and root beer floats — weird combo) and play a game together afterwards. I put my sister's volleyball schedule in our calendar while I'm there so I can go to her home games this season.
9 p.m. — B. and I head home. There's a radio DJ whose voice makes me really uncomfortable, and B. realizes his program is on while we're driving. He drives painfully slow to try and drag out our trip until the music segment is over so I have to listen to him. Luckily, the drive is too short and I'm spared (this time).
Daily Total: $10

Day Three

7:30 a.m. — B. gets up and leaves for work. I have plans to meet my friend, R., for breakfast at 9:30, but I decide to sleep in since I wake up with a sore throat and terrible cramps.
9:30 a.m. — I thought I set an alarm for 8:30, but I overslept. I text R. to let her know I'm running a little late, get dressed super quickly, and head out the door. We meet at a local cafe where I order a pot of lavender earl grey tea and roasted vegetable eggs benedict. We spend an hour or two catching up on what's been going on with both of us the past week or two. $18.53
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11:30 a.m. — I get home and start getting organized for the coming week. I make my to-do list and update my spending logs for my personal expenses and my combined expenses with B. It's also the start of a new month, so I total up my spending from last month and enter it into my spreadsheet. Each month, I break all of my spending down into 12 categories (rent, car, utilities, groceries, health care, personal care, household expenses, apparel, entertainment, hobbies, gifts/donations, and savings). I have a monthly allotment for each category, and I keep track of the running total for the year to see how close to my target I am. I derive a lot of satisfaction from organizing information (as any good librarian would), so this is actually something I enjoy doing.
3:3o p.m. — B. gets home from work. I've been cleaning the apartment ever since I finished updating my budget, and I'm tired and sweaty. B. thanks me for doing so much work and says he'll try harder to contribute more around the house. He does do housework, but I have definitely been doing more of it. I'm glad he recognizes this and will make an effort to do more.
4:30 p.m. — I discover that our laundry machine is broken, and there's an entire load of clothes floating in a pool of dirty water that won't drain. I ask B. if he can look at it and help me get the laundry out of the machine. We both get frustrated, and B. “removes himself from the situation” and then proceeds to read in bed while I wring out the entire load of laundry by hand over the bathtub and scoop all of the water out of the machine. I am pissed.
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5 p.m. — We're supposed to be leaving for dinner with B.'s parents, but we're in the middle of a pretty heated argument. We rehash a lot of what just happened and eventually resolve it to the point where we're civil enough to eat dinner with his family. I'm still not super happy about it, but B. eventually apologizes and I shower so we can leave.
5:30 p.m. — I stop at my parents' house to wash my clothes there, and then we finally get to B.'s parents' house for dinner. We end up having a really nice evening — his godmother is there too, and we eat ribs that his dad smoked himself, plus corn on the cob, biscuits, and a salad. B.'s godmother brought cupcakes from a fancy bakery, so we eat those for dessert. We stay until about 9:30, and then head home for the night.
Daily Total: $18.53

Day Four

9:30 a.m. — It's Labor Day, so B. and I both have the day off, which almost never happens. We were planning to go for a bike ride, since we're doing a 50-mile ride with his dad next weekend, but there's rain in the forecast, my bike shorts are at my parents' house with the laundry I dropped off yesterday, and my period is in full swing. We decide to skip the long ride and do a shorter one during the week instead. We lay in bed and cuddle for a while, since we almost never get a chance to sleep in together.
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10:30 a.m. — We make our menu and grocery list for the week and drive to Woodman's to grocery shop. We stocked up on a bunch of stuff at Costco last weekend, so it's a pretty short list today. We get blackberries, limes, a cantaloupe, spinach, pears, bok choy, onions, fresh ginger, cucumbers, baba ganoush, a dozen eggs, three Noosa yogurts, two packs of sliced cheese, half and half, two cartons of light raspberry lemonade, a box of Cheez-It Grooves (there's a new flavor, so I had to try it!), oyster crackers, turkey lunch meat, a pack of V8 juice for B., crystallized grapefruit, mini chocolate chips, two containers of frozen yogurt, a case of sparkling water, and a box of tissues. Normally, we would put it on our joint credit card and split it, but Woodman's only takes cash or debit cards. B. paid last time we shopped here, so I pay this week. $59.37
12 p.m. — It takes forever to shop, and I'm hangry by the time we get home. B. puts away the groceries and preps some veggies for dinner tonight while I eat a sliced pear, some fresh mozzarella cheese, and Triscuits for lunch.
1:30 p.m. — I go to my parents' house to pick up my laundry and bring my sister over to our apartment. I've wanted to see The Incredibles 2 since it came out, but B. has never seen the original (what's wrong with him?) so B., my sister, and I watch The Incredibles together. My sister and I eat frozen yogurt while we watch. After the movie, she plays on her phone while I prep banana oatmeal muffins and quinoa salad with grapes, pears, arugula, pecans, and goat cheese to have on hand for breakfast and lunch this week. My parents don't usually have planned meals, so I feed my sister leftover burrito bowl for dinner and take her home around 6.
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6:30 p.m. — B. and I prep dinner together. We roast green beans with Greek seasoning and slivered almonds, toast pita flatbreads with olive oil and zatar seasoning, make tzatziki sauce, and put together a huge tray of sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, sliced pears, and kalamata olives to eat with goat cheese and the baba ganoush. We eat on the couch while we watch American Ninja Warrior. I love this show, but it's depressing to realize these people can finish a huge obstacle course faster than I can walk from my couch to my refrigerator.
7:30 p.m. — R. texts me to ask if I want to do a 5K with her a month from now. I have two weddings that weekend, but I want to do it since a goal to work toward would be really good for me. I tell her I'll let her know soon.
9 p.m. — B. and I both have work in the morning, so we settle in to read for a bit before bed. I read all of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and I'm not sure whether I like it or not. I'll probably reread it later.
Daily Total: $59.37

Day Five

7 a.m. — I wake up to insanely loud thunder outside. It's been pouring all night, and there's a small lake in the grass behind our apartment. I shower, get dressed, eat a muffin for breakfast, and grab a container of quinoa salad to take for lunch.
8:30 a.m. — I get to work, and it's chaos from the minute I walk in. The library is always completely bonkers after we've been closed for a holiday — there are two and a half days' worth of returns to check in, three days' worth of hold requests to pull from the shelf, three times the regular amount of department emails and voicemails to check, and more patrons than usual coming in to browse for materials and use the computers. I start my day at the circulation desk, and then take my turn managing the returns. I don't get to sit down at my desk until 11:30.
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12 p.m. — I punch out for my lunch break, then update my weekly to-do list, eat my quinoa salad, and start a new book, Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras. I only have time to read about 20 pages, but the writing is really good, and I'm hooked.
1 p.m. — Back to work! We get a delivery of materials from other locations in our library system every day, so I spend an hour or so unpacking delivery bins before I'm back on the desk. I spend the rest of my day out on the desk and helping a patron download and edit Excel files on the computer, so I don't accomplish anything on my work to-do list.
6 p.m. — B. and I start working on dinner while watching Jeopardy!. We're making stir-fry, so I make basmati rice and tofu while B. works on the veggies — mushrooms, bok choy, red onion, bell pepper, edamame, and fresh ginger and garlic. B. also has leftover steak in the fridge, so he sautés that up too. It's delicious. We talk over how we're both feeling and what's been bothering us over dinner, and it feels good to have things worked out. We put away the leftovers, and B. washes the dishes while I dry and put them away.
7:30 p.m. — We post up on the couch and watch episodes of Hoarders and then Kitchen Nightmares on Hulu. At around 10, B. goes to read in bed. My brother, who doesn't have a car, texts me to ask if I can give him a ride to work at 7:30 tomorrow morning. I don't really want to, but I'm feeling generous, so I say that I will. B. and I both fall asleep around 10:30.
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Daily Total: $0

Day Six

6:45 a.m. — My brother calls to say my mom is giving him a ride so I don't need to anymore. I work the night shift today, and it's nice to sleep in during the week. I get up and get ready after B. leaves for work around 8. I have to get my blood drawn today for my yearly assessment that determines how much I pay for insurance, so even though I'm hungry, I can't eat breakfast.
9:15 a.m. — The handle of my hairbrush snapped off yesterday, so I stop at Target to grab a new one. $10.54
9:45 a.m. — I get to my health assessment appointment, and it only takes about five minutes.
10 a.m. — I don't have to work until 11:30, so I go to a coffee shop near work to get breakfast and hang out. I order a spinach and mushroom egg wrap and a decaf iced Americano. I go over my to-do list and read more of Fruit of the Drunken Tree until it's time for work. $11.21
11:30 a.m. — I get to work and start checking emails. It ends up being one of those days where something is always popping up that needs my attention, so I don't feel very productive. I do some weeding (getting rid of books that are damaged or don't circulate) before punching out for my lunch break.
3:45 p.m. — I go home on my break, since the iPhones we ordered were delivered today and I don't want them sitting out in the hallway. I still feel like it was kind of excessive to get two new phones, even though we got a BOGO deal on them, so I've been really careful about the rest of my spending to try and make up for it. I don't want to eat one of the lunches I made since I'm at home, so I forage around and eat baba ganoush, tortilla chips, kalamata olives, and mozzarella cheese. I watch half of the So You Think You Can Dance episode from this week since it's finally up on Hulu, and have some frozen yogurt to round out my makeshift meal.
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5 p.m. — I punch back in at work and spend the whole night working at the circulation desk. There's a pretty steady string of patrons, but nothing too eventful happens.
8 p.m. — Time to go home! B. is watching Castle Rock with his dad, so I have the apartment to myself for a while. I finish my episode of So You Think You Can Dance and play dumb games on my phone until B. gets home.
9:30 p.m. — B. and I set up our new phones. We get them in the cases and call the phone company to port over our numbers. I take a lot of time downloading apps and logging into everything, since I can't transfer anything from my old Android phone to my iPhone. I stay up way too late setting up my phone, and finally go to sleep around 11:30.
Daily Total: $21.75

Day Seven

7:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off, and I cuddle in bed with B. for a while before I get up to shower. I get dressed, eat a muffin with raspberry jam and fresh mozzarella for breakfast, fill my thermos with iced tea, and grab a quinoa salad for lunch. We still haven't received confirmation that our phone numbers have been ported over. B. says he'll call the company since he's off today.
8:30 a.m. — I punch in at work and start on opening tasks. Almost everyone I'm working with this morning has been hired in the last two months, so it's a little chaotic. I only have two hours off desk today because a coworker called in sick, so it's going to be a long one.
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10 a.m. — I have my first free hour of the day, and I finally sit down and check my email. Our event calendar is due next week, so my coworkers and I are trying to finalize what programs we're doing and who is organizing all of them. I won't get to take my lunch break until 1, so I eat half of a vanilla bean Noosa yogurt to make sure I don't get hangry with the patrons.
1 p.m. — The desk has been crazy busy all day, so I'm excited to sit down and stop interacting with people on my break. B. has finally allowed me to enter the NFL Pick‘em league he's in with his family, and the season starts today so I have to submit my first round of picks. I read some expert picks from CBS Sports, ESPN, and Bleacher Report before locking in my picks. I paid $35 to be in the pool, but we're pretty much playing for bragging rights. (B. and I are super competitive.)
2 p.m. — Right after I punch in from lunch, my new phone gets a message saying it's been activated successfully, but they've ported B.'s number into my phone, which is a problem. I email B. to ask him what's going on and work on revising Spanish materials I'm using for an outreach presentation before going back on the desk.
5 p.m. — I'm done with work for the day, and B. and I have to go to bring our phones in to the store to get everything sorted out. I make a pit stop at home, eat tortilla chips and salsa, and change into comfy clothes before going to the store. We make a stop at the pharmacy to pick up my birth control on our way there. It's covered by insurance, so I don't have a copay.
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6:15 p.m. — We get to the store, and they actually get everything handled quickly and painlessly. We head home and make dinner — homemade roasted tomato, carrot, and bell pepper soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. B. did a lot while he was home today — he spent a lot of time dealing with the phone company, did several loads of laundry, and prepped everything for dinner. I thank him for doing so much, and remind him that I really appreciate him.
7 p.m. — While the veggies are roasting, I text R. to tell her I'll do the 5K with her. I register online, and even though the race fee is $40, it'll be worth it for the motivation. I know I'll feel better about myself if I start exercising again. I get a long-sleeved hoodie shirt, too, which is a definite bonus. $43
7:30 p.m. — While I'm thinking about running, I decide to order a pair of wireless earbuds online. I've wanted some to use while running for a while, and my new phone doesn't have a headphone jack, so that's my extra push to actually buy them. I look at wirecutter reviews for running earbuds and decide on their top pick after reading Amazon reviews. $52.47
8 p.m. — The soup is finally ready, so I make the grilled cheeses and we eat on the couch while watching football. I don't really care about the game, but now I have to make sure the team I picked wins.
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10 p.m. — I've wasted a bunch of time setting up my phone, and I need to pack since we're leaving immediately after work tomorrow for the bike century we're doing. I throw my necessary clothes into a suitcase, and will pack the rest tomorrow after I get dressed in the morning. I lay around watching football and setting up my phone until it's time for bed.
Daily Total: $95.47
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