A Week In Porto, Portugal, On A $28,960 Salary

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Today: a software developer working in e-commerce who makes $28,960 per year and spends some of her money this week on Adidas sneakers. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Software Developer
Industry: E-Commerce
Age: 36
Location: Porto, Portugal
Salary: $28,960
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $1,925 plus $8.70 per day as meal allowance
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $0 (I live in a family-owned house with my father and his wife.)
Loans: $42 for Bimby (kitchen robot, $765 left) and $116.66 for tooth implant ($874.91 left)
Fuel: $112
Dog Food Subscription: $47
Retirement: $58.85
Savings: $58.33
EuroMillions: $11.67
Cable TV, Phone Bill, Internet: $123.65 (includes my father and his wife's phones)
Netflix: $4.08 (I share the account with three colleagues.)
Tolls: $31.50
Mom's Printer Ink Subscription: $5.82
Gym Membership: $23.32
IRS: $374.46 (19.5% on the paycheck)
Social Security: $211.73 (11% of the paycheck)
Additional Expenses
Dog Vaccine & License: $99.74 once a year
Dog Deworming: $57.55 quarterly
Car Insurance: $71.78 quarterly
Car Inspection: $36.29 yearly

Day One

8 a.m. — I wake up to the sound of my alarm clock and my dog is right by my side, wanting to go outside. I unlock the garage door, and there he goes to our patio and backyard to take care of his morning routine. I then feed him and go back to bed to check my Facebook.
9 a.m. — I finally get up and prepare my breakfast: four teaspoons of flaked oats with lactose-free strawberry-flavored yogurt, followed by an orange and a Paraguayan peach. I also take some joint and calcium supplements. I drink a cup of instant coffee.
10:30 a.m. — I decide to go get an espresso in a nearby shopping center. I take advantage of my client card and get five cents off the regular price for the cup of coffee ($0.64). On my way to leave the mall, I grab a vacuum filter — hardly any vacuum can resist for long against a dog who's constantly shedding ($5.72). On my way to the checkout, I go by the books aisle and one of them catches my eye: El libro de las pequeñas revoluciones. I am trying to achieve better mental health and strength, and this book offers suggestions for daily rituals that I want to implement. I want to put them to use, so I buy it ($20.83). I also get a voucher for 25% off a visit to a dinosaur park here in Portugal. Maybe I can take my nephew there before school starts or during Christmas break. $27.19
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11:15 a.m. — Time to make soup for the week. Although I sometimes eat this soup (mainly on Saturdays), it's meant for my father, so his wife buys and prepares the vegetables. I'm the one who cooks it, though, because I know how to work with the Bimby.
1:15 p.m. — Lunch is cooked by my father's wife: pork chops and pasta. So yummy — one of my favorite dishes.
3 p.m. — I don't feel like staying at home this afternoon, so I head to the library located in the neighboring city to code a little bit on a personal project. But, first, another espresso, or else I might fall asleep on the table. Once again, I get a discounted cup of coffee on my way to the library. $0.64
5 p.m. — Time for a snack. I go to one of my favorite bakeries for a bread roll with butter and a fruit juice (mango and orange). $2.80
8 p.m. — Dinner on Saturdays is almost always on my father. As he leaves work, he picks up some takeout. Today it's rotisserie chicken and French fries.
9 p.m. — I go to bed but not to sleep: I like hanging out in my room taking care of some tasks, waiting for the sleep to come, like checking my budget and writing in all the day's expenses. Today I even fix my dad's phone! Around 11, I am settled in for sleep although still watching Netflix.
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Daily Total: $30.63

Day Two

8 a.m. — I wake up and already have my dog checking up on me and rushing me to open the gate. When he comes back, I feed him and go back to bed. I still have the Netflix tab open on some stand-up comedy special and I resume watching it, but I am soon sleepy again. I get out of bed at 10 to prepare my breakfast: some toast with butter and a cup of instant coffee.
11 a.m. — My father asked me yesterday to buy a birthday cake for his wife. We are having my sister, her boyfriend, and my nephew over for a celebration lunch and I'm in charge of dessert. I go to the supermarket's pastry shop to buy it: this place is famous for their cakes. $13.64
1:30 p.m. — Lunch is on my father. He brings two Portuguese dishes: feijoada (a typical Portuguese dish which consists of different types of pork meat, parts of the pig's stomach and intestines, red beans, and white rice) and rojões (pork meat fried in pig's lard). For dessert, we have spicy melon, caramel ice cream, and birthday cake.
4 p.m. — After an episode of Reign, I feel sleepy and bored, so I head to the coffee shop nearby and get an espresso. $0.64
5 p.m. — After reading a bit of How to Win Friends and Influence People at the coffee shop, I head out, but, oh no, I pass through the clothes aisle in a store next to the coffee shop just for a bit of distraction. I shouldn't have! I can't resist a grey autumn coat and a flowery military green backpack, which set me back $55.88. This is way out of my clothing budget. $55.88
6 p.m. — I need something to eat after studying a little bit of tarot, so I prepare myself some bread with peanut butter, a yogurt, and a Paraguayan peach. My dog is staring intensely at me so I let him lick the spoon with peanut butter.
8:30 p.m. — I guess I'm going to skip dinner tonight. I'm not in the mood to cook or heat anything or even get up from the bed. I have already done my three-minute meditation. (Trying to make this a habit, baby steps.) I work on my Russian on Duolingo and then respond to a challenge from my Shuffle My Life app: Watch a highly-rated movie starting with the letter N. I browse Netflix and I don't find anything this specific: maybe I'll settle for New York Minute. Will I fall asleep midway?
Daily Total: $70.16

Day Three

7:55 a.m. — Although I only managed to fall asleep last night around 2 a.m., I beat the alarm clock by five minutes today. It's my first day of a two-week break from work, but today I have things planned quite early, so I have the usual for breakfast: flaked oats with yogurt, instant coffee, and an orange, which I always split with dog.
8:40 a.m. — I have to go by my office today and I want to treat my colleagues to something we all love: croissants with Ferrero Roché chocolate filling. I stop by the pastry shop known for this delicacy, but it's not open yet. I have to wait until 9:30, which I do, but even at 9:35 it stays closed and I can't wait anymore. I am so frustrated…
10:05 a.m. — I arrive at work in time for a presentation that I want to attend. One of my colleagues is selling a Fitbit, never opened, for 40% off. I like what I see, so I pay her using MBWay (the Portuguese version of Venmo). I catch some of my colleagues in the kitchen taking a break and chat with them. They were waiting for the croissants. I feel bad! But I know they're joking. $104.99
12 p.m. — I decided to go to the movies. I really want to see Crazy Rich Asians, but it's not showing in Portuguese theaters, so I buy a ticket to see The Spy Who Dumped Me at the 12:45 p.m. session ($6.77) and have lunch right there at the shopping center: a tuna, egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo sandwich with French fries and water ($5.77). I also have an espresso ($0.82). One cup per day against the usual four to five cups: I am having a break from work and from caffeine. $13.36
5 p.m. — I am back home. After catching up on some reading of my favorite magazines, I go to the kitchen for a Prozis protein bar: milk chocolate, peanut, and chocolate cream.
6 p.m. — Alas, how motivating it is to own a fitness bracelet! I have an urge to go walking, so I complete another Shuffle My Life task: choose a 20-minute podcast and walk until it finishes, then explore where you end up. I find a beautiful street a few miles away lined with nice houses.
7:45 p.m. — I have to fight my laziness, but I manage to get myself into the kitchen. I prepare carrots and cherry tomatoes with herbs and garlic sauce. I take the leftover rotisserie chicken, boil some spaghetti pasta, and sauté it with olive oil and oregano. After dinner, it's time to go back to my tasks: I have to keep busy and get tired so that I won't suffer from insomnia tonight. And I have a fit of hiccups, which scares my dog every time.
Daily Total: $118.35

Day Four

7:59 a.m. — Rise and shine, people. Once again I beat the alarm clock. I am very curious to know how my sleep went and discovered on my Fitbit that I woke up a lot during the night, more than I remembered. I go to the kitchen to make my breakfast. Before eating, I make apple purée. I put some apples in my Bimby, add a peach and an orange, and start the machine, as per the recipe. 15 minutes later, I have the fruit boiled and smashed, ready to be put in containers. This is a very good snack. Time to have breakfast.
10 a.m. — I wax my legs myself. I have been doing this for many years now. It saves money and none of that awkwardness at the cosmetologist, which I dread.
1.15 p.m. — I am at the dentist's office now, just waiting for my turn. I am having a tooth implant put in in a few days, so today is the teeth casting. This is a very expensive thing, but I am lucky that my doctor lets me pay in installments. I leave without paying anything today because I'll be back tomorrow and will talk payments with her assistant.
2 p.m. — I'm back home and hungry. I settle for the leftovers from last night: rotisserie chicken. When I open the fridge door, last Sunday's cake stares me in the eyes. Can't resist it: I am craving something sugary.
3 p.m. — I am at the coffee shop and order one espresso. Then I head to the local library. I feel eager to read, write, and code. It's open until 7 p.m., but I don't know if I'll stay there for that many hours. At least I get to see people, hear noises, and be in a place that isn't just home. $0.64
5:15 p.m. — I decide to wrap things up at the library and have a snack. I go to a bakery nearby and order a fruit juice and a special kind of bread with chorizo and ham. While I eat, I browse through my Facebook feed and decide to delete the Slack application from my phone: I am on vacation but have still been checking in to see what's happening at work, which isn't healthy. $2.92
6:30 p.m. — As I head to my car, I decide to do my daily walk right here. This is a very nice place and there is a small park nearby, so I will just go around it and back. That will be enough to achieve my daily goal of 8,000 steps and more than 10 minutes of exercise.
8:15 p.m. — After lounging on my bed, browsing Bimby's website to discover interesting recipes with mushrooms (one of the few things I have in the house that could be made into a meal), I go to the kitchen and sync the machine with what I have chosen: tagliatelle with sautéed mushrooms. 15 minutes and it's ready! I make enough for two meals, so tomorrow I don't have to worry about dinner. For dessert, I eat another cup of apple purée.
9:30 p.m. — I'm on my bed doing my daily Russian challenge in Duolingo. I do this in addition to my free Russian classes at work, which one of our Russian colleagues kindly facilitates. This makes me think: I should definitely buy something for her to express my gratitude. It is long overdue.
Daily Total: $3.56

Day Five

7:01 a.m. — Wake up startled by my dog barking at some loud noises outside. I stay in bed though; not ready to get up just yet.
8 a.m. — As usual, my dog has his morning routine to attend to, so I open the doors for him. When he comes back to the house, I feed him and go back to bed. I might as well spend as much time as I can sleeping in because, in a few days, this vacation will be over.
9:45 a.m. — Finally I get out of bed after a small game with my dog: When he wants me to get out of bed, he fetches my flip flops and goes around the bed teasing me. Sometimes I can catch him and throw the flip-flop, so he goes at it again. So easy to please! But at least now he recognizes the word “chinelo” (flip-flop in Portuguese) and goes get it if I say it.
10 a.m. — While I wait for my breakfast to be ready, I decide to do some sun salutations. I lay the yoga mat on my hall floor and spend a few minutes on it, stretching, lifting, and planking. After breakfast (the usual, I am not feeling very adventurous this week), I do last night's and this morning's dishes. I hate house chores.
1:15 p.m. — I have lunch with my father and his wife. We have leftovers from Sunday: reheated feijoada, which is one of those dishes that tastes even better when reheated, in my opinion.
2 p.m. — I go for a cup of espresso at the coffee shop. When I get back home, I summon up the courage to do something I've been putting off for months: I call the internet and phone company because my phone has been dead for a long time and the internet speed is so slow. So I talk to the guy for a few minutes and he indeed confirms that there is an issue with both. I schedule a technician to come next Friday morning. $0.64
5:40 p.m. — After an afternoon of coding challenges, reading O Ano da Morte de Ricardo Reis by José Saramago (almost finished!) and some cleaning, I am headed to the dentist's again. I removed my braces seven months ago and the doctor wants to check my teeth. I pay an installment of $116.66 for the implant — it costs $1,458.19, but I am paying it in bits roughly every month.
6:45 p.m. — I deliver some school books to my cousin's house. My cousin, who is a nanny, is taking care of her own granddaughter and a little boy the same age, so I have a bit of fun playing with them. Then I go for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. (Gotta get my 8,000 steps per day!)
8 p.m. — I reheat the tagliatelle with mushrooms and prepare some cherry tomatoes and olives for dinner. For dessert, I have one more apple purée pot.
9:15 p.m. — In bed studying Russian and writing a little bit. My mum wants to give me back the money that she borrowed from me some months ago, so we decide, via Facebook messenger, to meet up for lunch on Friday.
Daily Total: $0.64

Day Six

8 a.m. — Wake up and take the dog outside. Feed him and go straight back to bed. I open Netflix and chose the new Daniel Sloss special.
9:30 a.m. — I get up now and feel like experimenting in the kitchen: I choose a recipe for rice flour pancakes in the Bimby app and I am excited to try it. When I put the batter in the pan, I don't like the look of it at all (blame the grains!) and once I taste it, I decide to put the experiment to an end. Frustrated, I go back to my usual: flaked oats with yogurt, instant coffee and an orange. But, this time, I have a lot more dishes to do.
12:30 p.m. — I have lunch with a very dear friend of mine at a cool fancy restaurant here in my hometown. The restaurant is amazing: well-decorated, good music playing, and the staff is so friendly. We choose the day's special: vegetable soup for starters and then mushroom risotto as the main course. The risotto is so good: the texture, the flavor, the creaminess. We both love it! Then we find room for a meringue pie covered with flowers. I have never eaten flowers, and I don't even know if I'm supposed to, but I do it. Everything is awesome. After lunch, I drop her off back at her parents' home. $29.16
3 p.m. — I pick up the croissants from yesterday and bring them to my office. It's nice to do this commute outside rush hour. $15.17
3:45 p.m. — I order bras and three pairs of Adidas sneakers: two for me and one pair for a friend, who reimburses me. Getting packages is like Christmas. $58.75
4:30 p.m. — I invite my team to taste the croissants and we go to the kitchen for a break. The croissants are a hit!
6:15 p.m. — I go to a café nearby and order a fruit juice, and my friend, whose sneakers I bought, comes to meet me so I can give them to her. We end up staying there for three hours, just chatting about life. They have fresh bread with chorizo and cheese coming out of the oven, so I take a couple slices to-go. $3.83
10:30 p.m. — I manage to do my daily Russian challenge, then watch the second episode of Daniel Sloss's Netflix special after my daily dose of American late night shows on Youtube. I discovered Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, and Stephen Colbert a few months ago and they're my guilty pleasures.
Daily Total: $106.91

Day Seven

8 a.m. — Today I jump out of bed immediately because the phone company technician will be here soon. I tidy up a little bit, and let my dog outside and feed him.
8:30 a.m. — I prepare and eat breakfast: once again, the usual!
9 a.m. — I hear a knock on the door, and it's a guy telling me that he discovered a major issue with an outside cable and will send for an expert team to handle it.
1 p.m. — Today it was my nephew's first day of primary school. To celebrate, I invite him, my sister, and my mom to lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. We have three francesinhas, a very popular dish in the Porto area of Portugal, and a very heavy one: ham, steak, different types of smoked meat, and cheese between two slices of bread. On top of this sandwich, there are more layers of cheese and a strong mildly spicy sauce, covered with a fried egg. With a side of French fries. $40.01
3 p.m. — I drop my mom and my sister off at their houses and take my nephew with me for a ride. I want to go bowling with him, but the nearest alley is under maintenance, so we go to a shopping center a few miles away so that he can enjoy an indoor play area that they have there. $4.08
5 p.m. — Back at home, I round up some school supplies I have that I'm not using to give to my nephew so that his parents can avoid spending even more money. We have some apple purée as a snack and then I bring my nephew home.
8:45 p.m. — For the past two and a half years, I have been very strict about budgeting and keeping track of my expenses. On Fridays or Saturdays, I check my accounts' balance.
9:40 p.m. — I remember I have another bread with cheese and chorizo. So I slice it and put it in the panini maker...yummy...melted cheese. I eat it while I start watching To All the Boys I've Loved Before on Netflix. Let's see what the buzz is all about.
11:30 p.m. — Loved it! Such a sweet story! I keep watching Netflix until I eventually fall asleep.
Daily Total: $44.09
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