A Week In Toulouse, France, On A $41,000 Salary

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Today: a pediatric nurse working at a public hospital who makes $41,000 per year and spends some of her paycheck this week on shakshuka. Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Pediatric Nurse
Industry: Public Hospital
Age: 31
Location: Toulouse, France
Salary: $41,000
Paycheck Amount (Monthly): $3,415
My Expenses
Mortgage: $620 for my share of our housing mortgage. (I live in a small house in the city center with my husband and our 7-year-old daughter.)
Car Loan Payment: $175
Netflix: $10
My Little Box Subscription: $20
Energy Bill (Electricity, Gas & Water): $250
House, Health & Car Insurance: $400
Savings: $500
My Husband's Expenses
Internet & Phone: $120. (My husband pays for it – two cell phones, a land line, and Internet with TV.)
Our Daughter's Dance & Piano Lessons: $80
Daughter's Childcare & Canteen Fees: $80
Monthly Income Tax Installment: $900 (for both our salaries)
Other Taxes: $190
Disneyland Paris Annual Passes: $125 for three
Savings: $1,500. (My husband earns a lot more money than I do, so he pays for a lot more.)

Day One

7:30 a.m. — I wake up my daughter for school. Bread, butter, jam, coffee for the grown-ups and milk and honey for the child. Nothing exciting, but being all together for breakfast is a treat! After I drop my daughter off at school, I get gas ($90). Then I come back home and catch up on house chores. (I work 12 hours hospital shifts three to five days a week, so I get a lot of entire days off to make up for the long shifts.) $90
12 p.m. — Get ready to have lunch with a friend. I walk to the city center and we catch up in a little restaurant over shakshuka, red wine, and coffee. I pay. $35
4:30 p.m. — It's such a sunny day! I pack a banana, grissini, and water, and then put my daughter's bike in the trunk of my car before picking her up from school. We stay in the park for a solid hour – it's so nice! It would be a shame not to be outside and enjoy the spring weather.
7 p.m. — I make a quick soup and a mixed salad while my daughter plays in her room. We eat together and then we watch Mary Poppins (for the millionth time). She wants to see her dad before going to bed, so she goes to bed at 9 p.m. after he comes homes and tucks her in. We curl up on the sofa and watch Top Chef until we pass out.
Daily Total: $125

Day Two

5 a.m. — I wake up to spend a little time with my husband before he heads out to work extra early today. I can't go back to sleep, so I read a book until it's time to wake my daughter up. After I take her to school, I go to the farmer's market. The stalls are so tempting in the spring: strawberries, asparagus, peas, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, radishes, watercress, lamb chops, baby leeks, baby potatoes, fresh eggs...we'll be set for a while! I go to the wine shop and select a few bottles. Then I go to the supermarket for basics and make a last stop at the bakery to get bread. $160
1 p.m. — I make a salad and a quiche for lunch. Then I call my mom for a catchup – she lives on the other side of the country and I miss her so much!
4:30 p.m. — I go and get my daughter from school, who is very angry from recess argument she had with another kid. I offer to take her to the park again, but she just wants to vent, so I treat her to a crepe at a bistro and I get a cup of coffee. $9
5:30 p.m. — My husband comes home early so we decide to go to the cinema to watch Peter Rabbit ($50, his treat). There's no school tomorrow, so my daughter can go to bed later.
9 p.m. — We have the quiche and salad for dinner, and my daughter goes straight to bed after that. We go to sleep a couple of hours after her.
Daily Total: $169

Day Three

4:15 a.m. — I wake up to get ready for work. I make myself a cheese and veggie sandwich and pack fruits, hardboiled eggs, and chocolate for the day. I do the same for my daughter and store hers in the fridge. My daughter hears me get in the shower and moves into our bed. Then I kiss both my daughter's and husband's sleepy heads before heading out for my 5:45 a.m. shift. So jealous they get to sleep more!
12 p.m. — On my break, I call my friend who is taking care of my daughter today to see how their day is going. We are a group of nurses with kids, and we've organized our own daycare for Wednesdays because kids are off from school on Wednesdays in France. We take turns watching them, depending on our own days off. So far it has worked out great (and it's cheap!). My friend tells me everything is fine and that she took the kids to the park for a picnic. Then I join my colleagues to eat. They all want to have a hot meal at the cafeteria. I eat the food I brought from home and buy an Orangina. $2
7 p.m. — My shift ends and I can't wait to come home. I phone my husband, who picked up my daughter and then took her to a Funko Pop shop rather than sorting out dinner – sigh. I come home and roast veggies and lamb while my husband and daughter endlessly chat about those Funko figurines. It's really their thing and I just don't get it. After dinner, I tuck my daughter in and pass out almost instantly while watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix.
Daily Total: $2

Day Four

12 p.m. — Because this week is a "light week" schedule-wise, this is my second and last day of work for the week. It evens out, because next week I'm doing four shifts for a total of 48 hours. I get to the hospital on time and spend the entire morning rushing from one patient to another. I hate it when we're understaffed; I feel like I'm not doing my job properly by not spending enough time with each child and his or her family. I get lasagna, a side salad, Perrier, and coffee at the cafeteria for lunch. $10
7 p.m. — I leave the hospital almost an hour after my shift is over. There was just so much to do today and not enough of us to do it. My patients are on my mind. I make a stop to pick up a delivery package. It's clothes for my daughter that I ordered a while ago. Then I stop at a Vietnamese takeaway place and get dumplings and spring rolls to eat with whatever veggies and cheeses I have at home leftover from my market splurge. $15
9:30 p.m. — My daughter is in bed, and my husband and I watch old How I Met Your Mother episodes and more Brooklyn Nine-Nine. While we're watching TV, I do some online linen shopping. We've needed good linen for a while and there's a sale, so I order four duvet covers for our bed and my daughter's, fitted sheets, pillow cases, tea towels, bath towels, a bath rug, and two small cushions to brighten up the living room. We go to bed at around midnight. $150
Daily Total: $175

Day Five

7:30 a.m. — Wake my daughter up. She doesn't want to get up – she's often grumpy on Friday mornings. I tell her that as soon as she gets out of school, we're leaving for our weekend trip to Paris. We're attending a wedding on Saturday and hitting Disneyland on Sunday. She barely responds. I make her a bowl of cereal and I have coffee and a yogurt. Once I drop her off, I swing by the pharmacy to get shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, micellar water, toothbrushes, and a sheet mask. $90
9:30 a.m. — I stop by the hospital to say hello and see how our patients are doing. I have a little chat with other nurses over a cup of coffee, courtesy of our nurse manager, about the state of our ward. Depressing. I leave wondering what it's going to be like on Monday.
11 a.m. — I come home only to find that my monthly My Little Box has arrived, which is always a little bit thrilling. Also clothing I ordered arrived. I unbox my two packages. The clothing one is great: good cut, quality fabrics, fits well, so I'm very happy with that. My Little Box is quite disappointing, though: lots of sample sizes and not-so-great goodies. Oh well, I guess that's the risk you take with a monthly box subscription. After that, I make myself an asparagus frittata and a side salad before cleaning the house and packing. I hang up our wedding clothes in the back seat of the car and then realize I don't have any shade of lipstick that goes with my dress, so I dash to the store to get one. $30
4:30 p.m. — We pick up my daughter from school with the car fully loaded and ready to go. We have a six and half hour journey ahead of us. My daughter says she's starving when she comes out of school, so we stop at a bakery and get a croissant and two water bottles. My husband prefers to drive at night when there are less cars, but driving in the dark makes me nervous. So I drive until nightfall, and then my husband takes over. $4
8 p.m. — We stop at a McDonald's for dinner on the road, and order one happy meal, one quarter pounder with cheese, one chicken wrap, and two McFlurries ($35). Then we fill up the tank ($90). My husband pays. We check in our hotel at 2 a.m. and all crash as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
Daily Total: $124

Day Six

10 a.m. — It's the wedding day! As exciting as it is, we are all so tired from our journey. We have to be at the town hall at 1 p.m., so we order room service for breakfast. We have croissants, toasts, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, cheese, and fruits to sustain us until the evening. We put it on the room tab, which my husband picks up. I make a mental note to find a supermarket to buy snacks to tide my daughter over with in the afternoon. We get ready for the ceremony.
1 p.m. — I find a supermarket and get breadsticks and Fruit Shoots to leave in the car for later. We get to the town hall, and then go to church for the religious ceremony, which is beautiful and very moving. It's my friend from nursing school who is getting married, and I can't help but think how much we've grown since then. We throw petals at the newlyweds and then there's a photoshoot session in the church garden where I pose with our other nursing school friends. We have a great laugh. $6
10 p.m. — The party is in a beautiful house just outside Paris. The couple didn't want any presents, but the maid of honor and the best man set up a huge jar where people could leave money for the couple's honeymoon in Bali. I left $100 in an envelope with a little note. The food is delicious and we leave at about 1 a.m. $100
Daily Total: $106

Day Seven

9 a.m. — It's Disney day! Yay! We're all so tired, but we check out at 9 a.m., grab pastries from a bakery to eat in the a car (husband pays), and make our way to Disneyland. My daughter is loving it. I get coffee for me and my husband to take with us in the lines ($8). We ride everything in Fantasyland. $8
1:30 p.m. — We stop for lunch at Bella Notte, an Italian-style fast food place. I have pasta and a side salad with a Diet Coke, my daughter has a Mickey-shaped pizza, a popsicle, and juice, and my husband gets the lasagna with garlic bread, ice cream, and a Fanta. It's not great, but it gives us fuel to carry on with our day. My husband picks up the bill ($25 with 15% annual pass discount).
5 p.m. — We get my daughter a Rapunzel Animator doll ($22), and I grab cookies for the girls at work ($3.50), a Star Wars mug for my husband, and pens for me ($7). The children in the hospital always love to spot characters on my pens. My husband insists on paying again (20% off with our annual passes). We leave at 5:30 p.m., right after the parade. Then we stop by Earl of Sandwich and get a few sandwiches and crisps to share for the road. I pay this time ($30). We leave the parking lot free of charge (because of our annual passes) and hit the road. Finally get home at 2 a.m. – exhausted but happy! $30
Daily Total: $38
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