A Week In Oakland, CA, On $450/Day

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: a freelancer who makes $450 per day. This week, she spends some of her money on a hot dog.
Occupation: Multidisciplinary Freelancer. I work in the film industry, but my job changes depending on the day and scope of project. Sometimes I work as a production coordinator on national commercials. I got my start as a costume designer in independent film, and my bread and butter has recently been as a tailor and assistant stylist on commercial and editorial projects.
Industry: Film & Commercial
Age: 29
Location: Oakland, CA
Salary: My day rate generally floats between $450-$650, with the occasional $1,000/day thrown in — but it fluctuates.
Paycheck: $450-$4,080, depending on how many days I've accumulated on a job and my agreed-upon day rate. (I can go weeks without a check — net 30/45/60 with some clients — so I'll say I get paid about once a month.)
Monthly Expenses
Housing Costs: ~$2,280 with internet and utilities, split with roommates — two currently. The split depends who is living in my loft at any given time and their budget. I recently moved out of the master bedroom; I'm gone so much for work and it didn't really make sense for me to have the biggest space in the unit.
Student Loan Payments: $450 for private student loans
All Other Monthly Expenses
Hot Spot Yoga: $99 for an unlimited membership
Dropbox: $9.99
Health Insurance: $275
Netflix: $10
Spotify: $10
Renters & Life Insurance: $35
Amazon Prime: $12.99. I pay monthly because I'm often out of the country and I cancel during travel months.
Car Insurance: $80
IRA Contribution: $250-$500

Day One

9 a.m. — Wake up. Protein shake and coffee because I have a yoga class in a little bit and I'm feeling too lazy to make breakfast.
10:15 a.m. — First yoga class of the day. I pay $99/month for an unlimited membership, and I go as often as I can (which, on days I'm not working, is often twice).
6 p.m. — Second yoga class of the day. This was one was restorative which felt amazing. Note to self: take more restorative classes. I only wish I could double up like this and end every day with a restorative class.
7:45 p.m. — Right after yoga, I drive over to a new client's home. I'm designing Salsa competition shirts for a new Oakland dance company (it's the first LGBTQ performance and competitive team in the area). I've emailed, texted, and spoken with the company owners, but this is my first face-to-face with them. They're rad, we totally gel, and I'm excited to get my velvet and rhinestone on.
9 p.m. — One of my friends is getting married tomorrow at San Francisco City Hall, and I've decided to hit a store that's still open to see if they have anything I'd want to wear. I tried on a bunch of stuff, but everything was ugly and not worth the money.
11 p.m. — Home and beginning to wardrobe plan and pack for the next couple of days. I'm heading to L.A. for a table read of a film I'm producing in the spring. It's a quick trip, only 30 hours, and I'm trying to figure out how to get everything into a large tote bag (I hate, hate, HATE carrying anything unnecessary with me.) This includes deliberation about what to wear to the wedding, if I can go to the airport directly in it, etc. Silently thanking my mom for all the fancy skincare samples she passes on to me, because this way I don't have to buy anything TSA-approved.
Daily Total: $0

Day Two

12 p.m. — Call a Lyft Line to take me to my friend's wedding. (I should say friends' wedding, because I'm friends with both the bride and groom.) I was able to fit everything for L.A. into a tote that fits under the airport seat (small victories!) and plan to change out of my wedding garb as soon as the ceremony is over. $15.30
1:15 p.m. — City Hall is super backed up; apparently, the Monday before Thanksgiving is a popular day for folks to get married. I'm starving and so are my friends, so we wander outside of City Hall and across the street to the hot dog vendor, where I buy an insanely overpriced Louisiana Hot Link. I'm still hungry afterwards but refuse to buy another. $6.75
3:45 p.m. — The wedding ceremony is over, much later than anticipated, so I have to ditch the post-wedding happy hour and get myself to the airport. It works out well because another friend/wedding attendee has to drive *right by* the airport, so he agrees to drop me off. We both need a little pick-me-up so we stop into Philz Coffee before hitting the road. I pay as a thank you for the ride. $13
5 p.m. — At the airport, through security, and still hungry. I cave and go to Cat Cora in the airport next to my terminal and get a soup and salad. Annoyed at airport pricing, but I should've planned better. I'm usually all about bringing my own food/drinks on airplanes (I fly WOW and Norwegian and Spirit a lot, so I'm used to it; I self-fund creative projects so I need to be as thrifty about my travel as possible) but today I've majorly failed. $15.31
6 p.m. — I grab a decaf coffee to slam before getting on the plane. $2.50
9:30 p.m. — Made it to L.A.! An ex picks me up from LAX. (Funny story: I never got airport pickups when we were together. Our split was friendly, and now I sleep in his living room when I'm in L.A.) We hit Petty Cash Taqueria, get spicy margaritas, tacos, and a quesadilla. I'm exhausted, so we split the bill and decide to call it a night. $50.13
Daily Total: $102.99

Day Three

8:30 a.m. — Wake up and drink a protein shake that I brought with me from home. Ex-BF works just as much as me, if not more, so he doesn't really have anything in his fridge either.
10 a.m. — Meet up with a friend at a nearby Coffee Bean, where I get a large iced coffee. I met this friend through work a few years back; she was an actress on one of the first films that I costume designed. I saw her a couple of weeks ago at a premiere for said film, and now I finally get to meet her almost one-year-old twins! $4.31
12 p.m. — Our coffee hangout turns into lunch at The Farmers Market at the Grove. I grab a chicken salad and we continue to catch up and talk shop (film) until I have to leave to meet up with the writer-director of the film I'm producing. $14.32
1:15 p.m. — Realized I didn't have my notebook with me so I needed to get a Lyft back to ex-BF's place so I can take notes at the table read. $5.60
1:30 p.m. — Grab an Uber to the table read (graciously hosted by one of the writer-director's friends). I did a table read of this script a few weeks ago in Paris with other filmmaker friends because we needed to get a rough estimate on timing. (The script is very dialogue heavy.) This will be the first read with actual actors, so I'm excited to see what they bring to the table. A huge plus is that one of our readers today is a good friend I haven't seen in over a year, and it'll be nice to give him a hug and catch up. He and I have both had a big 2017, and there's a lot to fill in. $8.80
5 p.m. — Head to a Mexican restaurant with the writer-director, and some of the other people from the read. I grab a tequila and share in the table's chips and guac. We end up talking for hours about the script and project. I was already excited about it, but I'm glad to know that other (accomplished!) film professionals believe in it as well. The writer-director picks up the bill for the entire table.
7:30 p.m. — We could all talk forever about this project but the restaurant has gotten too loud with a terrible cover band so we decide to part ways. I grab an Uber back to ex-BF's place. $4.17
9 p.m. — Should've actually eaten more at the post-read discussion. I briefly consider just drinking a protein shake, but in the end real food wins. I order a burger/salad thing from The Counter, which is walking distance. Spend the next couple of hours drinking "birthday champagne" (a bottle of Veuve Cliquot that ex-BF got as a present a few weeks ago) and catching up on work and life (mostly work) while half-watching the second season of a YouTube Red show that he produced and I worked on when we first met. I'm already dreading my 3:30 a.m. wakeup, so it's bedtime for me. $14.94
Daily Total: $52.14

Day Four

3:45 a.m. — Leave for the airport. My flight isn't until 7 a.m., but it's the day before Thanksgiving. I'm chronically early for things and the airport is no exception. I've missed flights before so I err on the side of very early when I can. Plus, my mom sent me a picture of L.A. traffic and I haven't been able to check into my flight online. $28.90
4:45 a.m. — FUCK. So the reason I couldn't check in to my flight is because Spirit automatically canceled it, so I'm stuck buying a new one-way ticket. When I first bought the round trip ticket, I didn't know about my friend's wedding (it was a last-minute thing). I ended up having to use flight miles to book a later flight out so I wouldn't miss the wedding. Apparently, when you miss one leg of your flight on Spirit, they auto cancel the other flight(s). Is this a thing? I want to get mad, but I just pony up the new fare and get through security. $76.20
5 a.m. — This morning isn't the best. I left my protein shake powder at ex-BF's place and I'm starving, so I grab an overpriced breakfast at Rock & Brews at LAX and watch The Incredible Jessica James on my phone while I wait for my flight to start boarding. I'm kicking myself for how expensive this 30-hour L.A. trip has been, but decide to stop beating myself up and travel prepare like I usually do for the next L.A. jaunt (mid-December for a SAG Indie workshop). $21.51
8 a.m. — Back in Oakland! Grab a Lyft from the airport and go home so I can pass out for a few hours. $10.10
4 p.m. — Wake up super groggy, throw on yoga clothes, and head to the fabric store and pay for parking. I'm sourcing the fabric for the salsa team's costumes. I walk in and am told they're closing at 4:30, because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I'm usually much better about double-checking closing times for stores (mostly because I hate driving and sitting in traffic), but I didn't even think to today. Do a quick walk through and see that there isn't any fabric in stock that I can use for the costumes. It really hasn't been my best day. $1.50
4:30 p.m. — Now I've got a bunch of time on the meter and lots of time to kill before yoga at 6:30. I walk to a nearby coffee shop and grab a coffee and something to snack on while I catch up on podcasts (and people-watch!). This coffee shop is really close to U.C. Berkeley, so there are a bunch of students studying. Every time I see students studying in a coffee shop, I say silent thanks that I finished school years ago. $6.23
5:30 p.m. — I still have some time to kill before yoga, so I switch to trip planning mode. I'm co-planning a MLK Jr. weekend trip to Tahoe with some pals. The other host was able to book one suite through her timeshare, but since it's a holiday weekend, a second suite isn't available unless we book at a regular rate. I choose a six-person suite and put down the deposit. $400
6:30 p.m. — First yoga class of the day. It's been really nice to get back into my practice. I've had to sit out most of this year because I wrecked my back pretty badly earlier this year in a car accident. Some days are more pleasant than others, and today I definitely bring all my BS from the day onto the mat. The class is hard — mentally — to get through.
8 p.m. — Second yoga class of the day: a yin class to balance out the vinyasa flow class I just did. I thought the yin would help my mental state, but I couldn't calm down or enjoy the practice like I usually do.
Daily Total: $544.44

Day Five

11 a.m. — It's Thanksgiving! My friend from L.A., the one with twins, gave me a bunch of baby clothes to bring to our friend who conveniently lives close to my parents, so I'm stopping by her house en route to my family home. It's my first time meeting her little one, so we spend a couple of hours catching up and playing with her son.
1:30 p.m. — At my parents' house. I saw them a few days ago for an hour or so, but this is my first time actually getting to hang out and chat since August. We only live 30 miles from each other, but we're all often traveling so it's not uncommon for us to be on different continents at any given time. I chat with my mom as she finishes making dinner and shop YogaOutlet's Thankful Thursday sale. I'm planning to do a yoga teacher training in early 2018, and my yoga wardrobe is very limited so I decide to take advantage of the killer prices and stock up. I get four pairs of yoga pants and three crop tops/bras. $113.91
6 p.m. — Still catching up! I fill them in on my seven-week Europe trip and they tell me about the last few weeks away. They bought a second home about 10 years ago with the intention of settling there when they're done with traveling all the time. I mention the yoga teacher training to them because I'm trying to figure out how to swing the cost of the three-and-a-half week program ($3,000). I won't be able to work during those weeks (no paid vacation because I'm a freelancer). I already have a lot of planned travel coming up in 2018, so I'm just trying to wrap my head around everything. My dad kind of scoffs at doing a yoga certification in San Francisco instead of in India (he was an Aikido practitioner for over 30 years and has trained in Japan, so I get where he's coming from). I make a mental note to check on the pricing and availability of programs in India when I get home.
11 p.m. — Last Black Friday purchase: I buy a pair of black high-waist jeans with sailor buttons (stoked!) and fresh tortoise shell cat eye sunglasses, and go to sleep. $56.81
11:05 p.m. — Just kidding about those clothes being the last purchase. I buy gnome rubber ducks to send to friends under the name of an inside joke I have with friends. (Gnomes aren't unusual for me; I collect them.) They'll get them on Saturday. I love Amazon Prime. $7.99
Daily Total: $178.71

Day Six

10 a.m. — Sleep in and finally roll out of bed to make breakfast. I work so much and it's not unusual to put in 70-plus hours in a week. On off days or weeks, I try to sleep and stay in as much as possible. I do a quick scramble with eggs, spinach, and bacon. I buy these at Costco every few weeks and I only cook for myself, so the cost is negligible and each haul lasts me a few weeks.
12 p.m. — Yoga! The class is packed; everyone is stoked to be there after feasting the day before. This class is with a teacher I've never had a class with before and it totally kicks my ass. Love it!
2 p.m. — Home and checking out yoga teacher training programs in India. I've found a ton in Goa and they're less than half as expensive as doing the certification in San Francisco. Even with the flight, it's about a $1,000 savings. I send an inquiry to the school I'm most interested in, and an email to a friend who lives in New Delhi (yes, I know it's nowhere near Goa) to see if he'd like to go on an adventure at the conclusion of the training.
8 p.m. — Eugh. Feeling SO lethargic because I've spent the last couple hours Netflixing. My friends told me I needed a hobby outside of work (ha), so I've been toying with the idea of designing a simple accessories line. In between dropping out of school and starting fashion school in San Francisco, I was making and selling handbags and clutches. I haven't done it since 2009, but my skills and taste have elevated, so maybe it's time? I sketch and research materials for the next few hours. If I do it, it'll be a nice brain break from the design work I do for film and commercials.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

9 a.m. — Wanted to sleep in longer but that wasn't in the cards. I lay around for a bit and finally get up because I'm starving. Eggs, spinach, bacon, coffee. I'm a creature of habit when left on my own. My work life is so hectic, so I prefer to keep things easy when I'm not working. That, and I'm the laziest person I know when I'm "off."
12 p.m. — Yoga! Class today with my favorite teacher. The flow kicks my ass but I'm in a much better mental state today than I've been during the practices earlier in the week. And I can do an unsupported bridge again! This is a huge accomplishment for me, because just a few months ago I couldn't even sit or stand without pain, exhaustion, and a brace.
1:45 p.m. — Head to the grocery store after yoga/before going home. I'm out of coffee and also need to get some Stevia drops. The coffee (Intelligensia) is pricey — usually I find it on sale, but no such luck today. It'll last a while since I'm the only person drinking it. As soon as I get home, I make some bulletproof coffee for an energy boost. $18.98
3 p.m. — Flipping through Instagram and I see one of my favorite accounts (@garancedore) posted about the book, Women Who Run With the Wolves. I immediately click onto Amazon and buy it. $5.74
3:05 p.m. — As soon as I bought the book, I remembered I needed to get a gift for an upcoming annual White Elephant gift exchange. The rules changed this year: no more gag gifts and only useful items. I was annoyed but realized it makes total sense — no use in wasting money on things people won't use. (Damn getting older and more sensible!) I look through Amazon's Black Friday deals and choose a rad backpacking double hammock. There are several backpackers in this friend group, but I'm secretly hoping I end up with it. $34.95
4 p.m. — Realize that I need to replace my planner and Moleskine notebook soon. I'm super analog when it comes to scheduling, note taking, and lists. Go to reorder my usuals, but I'm annoyed at how expensive they are. Decide to do some comparison shopping and look at notebooks/planners from Muji, but I can't make up my mind. I end up not buying one.
8 p.m. — Dinner with my landlords! I've lived in my building for five years and my landlords live in the building. We've gotten pretty close. We all have crazy work commitments so hanging out doesn't happen very often; the last time was back in September before I went to Europe. They're chefs, so I know whenever we go out the food and wine will be great. They choose a hot pot/steam restaurant in Oakland, and I defer to them for all ordering. They pick up the bill. They always do; they're really generous and giving.
Daily Total: $59.67
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