A Week In Iowa On $15 Per Hour

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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, as part of Your Spending In Your State: a box office manager working at a nonprofit who makes $15 per hour and spends some of her money this week on pancakes.
Occupation: Box Office Manager
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 22
Location: Iowa
Salary: $15.86 per hour
Paycheck Amount (Biweekly): $945
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $508 for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that I share with a roommate and two cats. This includes all utilities except electricity.
Student Loan Payment: $125 on income-driven repayment
Car Loan: $202
Electricity: $56 (I pay this and my roommate pays for internet)
YNAB Software: $8
Phone: $0 (My parents pay.)
Netflix: $0 (My parents pay.)
Health/Vision/Dental Insurance: $0 (I'm still on my parents' plan.)
401(k): I contribute 7% and work contributes 4%.
Additional Expenses
Car Insurance: $330 every six months
Voice Lessons: $25 every other week

Day One

7:10 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I see H., my boyfriend, wake up next to me. I quickly silence the alarm; we're both off today, and we need the rest. We had a pretty big argument last night, and I think we're both pretty rattled.
7:48 a.m. — My mom calls. Ditto on the silencing, I'll call her back later.
9:15 a.m. — I'm officially awake. H. rustles next to me. He wonders if we should go to the supermarket next door for breakfast, or if we should eat in. I offer to cook so we can have a nice dinner out later this month. I make all of the breakfast food left in my house: two eggs, a few strips of bacon, coffee, and toast. Guess I wasn't prepared to cook after all. Whoops. I let H. have the eggs and bacon (I'm not a fan), and I eat some toast.
10 a.m. — I check my phone and see an email from a colleague who needs my help. It's my day off, but this seems critical enough that I clock in, fix the issue, and clock back out.
11 a.m. — My friend E. comes over. H. has left town for a few days for a family thing, so E. and I have big plans: mimosas and Halloween costume planning. We head to the grocery store, and pick up champagne, orange juice, and stuff to make fancy gluten-free cupcakes. Once the cupcakes are cooling, and we're very slightly tipsy, it's time to hit up the Salvation Army for Halloween options. We find her a dress that we think will work, but don't buy it. $23.10
4:15 p.m. — Time to take my cat for a routine vet appointment. She hates the car but loves the attention she gets from the vet. I schedule an appointment for my new kitten for the next week. $47.50
5:30 p.m. — Back home from the vet, and I realize I didn't eat lunch. I heat up some of the homemade meatballs I prepped for lunch this week and eat them on a hoagie. Then I wash it all down with a couple cupcakes that, unfortunately, taste a little like cornbread.
6:30 p.m. — I drive to my biweekly voice lesson. I truly love singing as a way to escape the real world, and it's cheaper than therapy. I pay for this week's lesson and prepay for the next ($50).
7:45 p.m. — My roommate and her boyfriend are home. They're watching a show I don't like, so I read a few news articles, drink some tea, and then get sucked into a rabbit hole of astrology. I discover that I'm an idiot Leo to be dating a Taurus. At 10, when I still haven't heard from H., I text him, then fall asleep.
Daily Total: $70.60

Day Two

8:10 a.m. — I finally wake up after snoozing for an hour. I reuse my tea leaves from last night and have some Special K with almond milk. (I have a newfound lactose sensitivity, womp womp.)
8:57 a.m. — Arrive at work. I check emails and do general catching up from my day off yesterday. It's opening week at the theater where I work, so it's hectic for everyone. There's a big issue with the ticketing system, so I spend the morning and part of the afternoon fixing it.
1 p.m. — I work through lunch, which is reheated meatballs. I hope my roommate starts eating them because while they're delicious, I've been eating them for four days straight.
3 p.m. — My boss wants to put cards on patrons' seats for the show that opens tomorrow. Can I get them designed that fast? Yes. Can I get them approved by then? Who knows, but that's what I work on for the rest of the day.
5:38 p.m. — I debate whether or not to go to weekly bar trivia. I'm exhausted and H.'s ex- girlfriend (current best friend) is one of our teammates. I really don't want to go, but I know getting out of the house will do me good. I go solo to Crazy Rich Asians instead — it's discount Tuesday! $5.57
8:30 p.m. — I guess I'm emotional and tired, because I cried during a preview for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg movie. It was a great cry; the movie theater was empty and had recliner seats. When I get home, I eat the remainder of a Hershey's bar and some chunky peanut butter. Close enough to real dinner. Checking my phone makes it obvious that H. is thinking about anything other than me today. To be fair, his mom is moving out of his childhood home today and he's helping. I check myself and realize I'm being too hard on him.
9:30 p.m. — My roommate and her boyfriend still have about an hour left of trivia. I've got a kitten and the book American Gods to get me through until then, if I don't fall asleep first. I decide to pop some popcorn and have a glass of the wine I got at Trader Joe's because the bottle was pretty. At 11, I fall asleep after having a whole bag of popcorn to myself.
Daily Total: $5.57

Day Three

7:10 a.m. — Alarm goes off. I actually get up, since I need to shower and look presentable. I eat a cornmeal-y cupcake for breakfast. They're getting stale.
8:55 p.m. — Arrive at work and drink a cup of coffee. My boss didn't like what I did with the cards I submitted on Tuesday afternoon, but I can't access InDesign right now because the intern is using the computer we share. She leaves at 3:30, so I'll get them done then.
1 p.m. — I love my ticket office employees, but they have huge personalities that sometimes get to be too much. I need fresh air. I clock out, make myself more coffee, and walk around the block.
3:30 p.m. — Finally some communication from H. He's on his way home, and asks if I want to go to his place tonight? I tell him yes. The intern is gone now, so I head over to her desk to finish my cards, which are due by 6 p.m. No pressure.
5:30 p.m. — I finish the design, but my boss is nowhere to be found. I print the cards anyway, deciding it's better to print them and risk him hating them than not print them and have him be angry that I didn't do my job. I leave work and realize I have only had a cupcake today, so I go to McDonald's on the way to H.'s house. I don't want to assume he has food in the house. $6.14
6 p.m. — H. is sorting through his tools. I decide to watch, although I don't care about tools at all. He's so passionate about them and the work he does with them that it's still fascinating to watch. I drink a beer and try to pry details from him about how he's feeling about the situation with his mom, with no success. Once I've thoroughly annoyed him with tool puns, I head home.
10 p.m. — Bedtime. I turn off my alarm for tomorrow. I work late tomorrow, so I won't go in until noon.
Daily Total: $6.14

Day Four

5ish a.m. — I wake up to my kitten licking my face. She's relentless. I try to hide from her so I can go back to sleep, but she just pounces on me instead. Eventually I pick her up and take her out of my bedroom. I go back to sleep.
8:38 a.m. — I wake up for real this time and lay in bed. I watch the new installment of Shane Dawson's YouTube series about Jake Paul. I eat another of my increasingly sad cupcakes for breakfast. I throw the rest away.
10:30 a.m. — I'm in the middle of vacuuming when my coworker calls me with a problem. It's pretty important, so I clock in and fix it for him. This is why I always have overtime.
11:30 a.m. — I sit down for my last 15 minutes before work. Amazon time: my cats need collars, and my vet recommended some pheromone diffusers to help with the older one's anxiety. I decide to get the starter pack. At this point I'll do anything to stop her from peeing on my stuff. $39.27
12 p.m. — I get to work and am greeted with a blast of hot air. It's 90 degrees in the ticket office. Great. I prop open the door to the outside, hoping the cool fall air will help me chill out. In the meantime, I discover someone has set the thermostat as high as it can go. WHYYYY.
12:30 p.m. — I try to print more cards, but someone is using the computer. It can wait until later.
2:30 p.m. — I decide to eat. While on lunch break, I get bad news about a job I had two interviews for: they've decided to open the search to more candidates. I find it hard to believe that they couldn't find anyone who was qualified. I don't have much time to sulk because I have a meeting
5 p.m. — My boss starts to put pressure on me about the cards for tonight. I get them started (the computer is finally free) and go to what I think is a safe place in the building to call my mom. We talk about how qualified I was for the other job and how I'm disappointed. As our conversation is wrapping up, I see my boss come out of the bathroom behind me. Oh shit. How much did he hear? I panic slightly and return to my cards. [*Hindsight note: The very next week, my boss offered me a raise of more than $2 an hour. I'm not sure if it was a direct result of him overhearing this. That said, I don't recommend this method to anybody.*]
7:15 p.m. — The tour group that's seeing the show tonight is parking in the entirely wrong spot! I do my introduction, send the group on their way, and then chase after the bus driver. When the show starts, I head to OfficeMax to get more card stock. I had a close call tonight and don't want to be unprepared for the weekend. I charge $19.50 to my card but work will pay me back. ($19.50 expensed)
9 p.m. — I've printed tomorrow's cards, so I clock out, take some candy from the jar, and read American Gods while I wait for the show to be over. I have to stay because I'm giving the group a tour after the show.
10:15 p.m. — The show is over, and H. happens to be in the audience tonight. I recruit him to help with my tour, which goes well, and then we're outta here.
12:30 — H. and I fall asleep after having what feels like the first productive conversation we've had in a month. And sex.
Daily Total: $39.27

Day Five

8:15 a.m. — H. needs to be at work at 9, so I wake up to his alarm. I tease him about getting up before me and joke that he should just stay. I've accidentally left his food from last night out to spoil, and I feel awful. That was his lunch. I offer to give him money or buy him something, and he says, "I shouldn't have told you. You're going to feel bad and be annoying about it." And 1, 2, 3, I'm back on my anxious bullshit.
9:30 a.m. — My roommate informs me that Snapchat now has lenses you can use on your cat. I try and try to get a good Snap, but they're wiggly little jerks. Eventually I give up and read, and watch the next Shane Dawson episode.
11 a.m. — I boil some pasta and heat up one last round of meatballs, resolving that this weekend I have to eat vegetables. I throw away the last few. They're a week old now, and I don't think they'll last much longer.
12:15 p.m. — I go to the sandwich shop next to work to pick up a sandwich for H. When I get back in the building, I make him some coffee and tell him to get down to the ticket office for a surprise. He seems grateful, and our coworkers think it's cute. (We haven't told our boss yet that we're dating, but about half of our coworkers know.) $6.50
12:30 p.m. — I officially clock in and the day goes by in a blur. People need my help running reports, fixing door schedules, and other random tasks that eat time without feeling like work. I fight with the printer over my cards for tonight. Eventually I win, printing a whole weekend's worth at once.
5:30 p.m. — It's time to get back to the ticket office for the show tonight. I take more candy for my dinner and settle in. The night is uneventful, so much so that I nearly fall asleep. When I'm done, I head home, make plans to meet H. for breakfast tomorrow, and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $6.50

Day Six

8:45 a.m. — I wake up, knowing H. won't be awake. I'm right. I stay in bed for a while, then get up, shower, and do some more chores. Somehow they're never-ending, even in my tiny apartment. I eat a small bowl of cereal with almond milk even though I have breakfast plans, because who knows when he'll be up.
11 a.m. — H. is awake. We'll meet at our favorite diner at 11:30.
11:35 a.m. — H. is five minutes late, but I've just barely been seated anyway. We both order coffee, he gets cinnamon french toast, and I order pancakes, both with eggs and sausage. Yum. I pick up the tab and overtip because our waitress is so busy. $28.96
1 p.m. — I go to H.'s house. He says his plan is to clean his room, which is worse than I remember. I decide to help him. It turns into an all-day task.
5:30 p.m. — H. decides he needs to put up a shelf, and we plan for dinner. We go to Home Depot, where he picks up brackets, and then the grocery store, where we get stir-fry veggies, rice noodles, shrimp, and peanut sauce in the hopes of something different for dinner. He pays since I bought breakfast.
7 p.m. — While H. paints and builds his shelf, I cook dinner. One of my employees calls me for help during the middle of it, so I have to drop everything to help her. The final dinner product is similar to pad thai, but the frozen veggies get mushy and the noodles, which I've never cooked before, turn out too tough. We eat it anyway, along with a glass of bourbon (H.'s favorite).
9:30 p.m. — The shelf is complete. I decide to stay over at H.'s house. We stay up chatting for a while longer, and then it's off to bed.
Daily Total: $28.96

Day Seven

7 a.m. — H.'s alarm goes off. He has to work this morning, so I get up, too. I'm out the door before he is. When I get home, I go directly back to sleep.
10 a.m. — I wake up for real. My roommate wants to go shopping, and I desperately need to find my Halloween costume. We head to the mall, where I find that everything in my size is sold out, and nobody makes a red long-sleeve unitard. Not even Ragstock.
3 p.m. — We get home from the mall, and I eat the leftover stir-fry disappointment from yesterday and get ready for work. There's an event tonight, but at least there's free food!
5 p.m. — My colleague is sick, so I man the ticket sales. Everything goes smoothly, but I don't have anybody to bring me food. Boo.
9 p.m. — The event is over, and H. has to go back to work. I go home and fall asleep, forgetting to eat dinner.
Daily Total: $0
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